To my surprise, I saw Jason Garland trotting up behind me. He was a college professor we had met during an investigation a few months before.
"Jason," I said, holding out my hand. "I–"
"I'm going to the hotel," he said quickly. "I have to talk to you and Jan. Erika's been arrested for murder!"
I motioned and we started out again. We walked at a good clip, and we got there in a few minutes. I was curious about the details, of course, but I didn't ask. There was no point in making him tell it twice.
In the lobby, my employer seemed to be mediating a disagreement of some sort, and I motioned to Jason that he had to wait. He was quite agitated, and I thought that it would do him good to take a breath and relax. There were about six or seven people crowding around my employer, and I watched this scene with interest. She was somewhat taller than any of them, and she caught my eye and winked.
The dispute was apparently about a debt that either had been paid in trade, or hadn't been paid at all, and there was also a disagreement about the original ruling in the dispute, which had been handed down by Teddy, the bartender at Theodore's.
I wanted to tell them that Teddy was well known to be as crooked as a hyena's back leg, and anybody who went to him to judge a case was crazy (unless they'd greased him ahead of time), but of course I kept mum.
As we waited, I wondered how Claudia Forrester had ended up involved in another death.
The Forresters had been one of the richest and most influential families in the area of the city which had become U-town. They had lived there since the previous century, when it had been a very posh neighborhood. As it had gradually become a slum, though, most of them had moved away, eventually leaving Claudia, the younger daughter, living in their once-elegant (and now increasingly shabby) townhouse by herself.
Her income, whatever it was (and I was certainly not privy to her finances), had not turned out to be adequate, so she had started to rent out rooms. She had rented one to Jason Garland, and another to Ryan, who had died in her bedroom under mysterious circumstances. Jan had solved that case, which was how we had met them.
Erika, who was apparently now an accused murderess, had lived there as well. When Claudia had left town, Erika had gone with her. Jason had stayed in the house, agreeing (from what we'd heard around town) to pay rent to Claudia. He had started to rent rooms to college students, with the understanding that he wouldn't rent the rooms which had belonged to Claudia's parents.
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