the family murder case (part forty)

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"I'll make the rest of the story brief. Bobby collapsed. James called the state police, which was a good idea, since it took it out of the hands of my mother's pet sheriff. He gave them a fairly complete summary over the phone, which also limited her ability to affect the situation. The police came. My mother's lawyer came, and so did an ambulance. They strapped Bobby to a stretcher, but he wasn't going anywhere. He was completely unresponsive. My mother tried to order some people around, but nobody paid much attention to her. We all made statements and signed them, as I said. I can't imagine Bobby will ever be able to stand trial, so I think that's it.

"And, after that was done, it quickly became obvious that it would be better all around if Erika and I left right away. So, we did."

Jan nodded. "Thank you." She glanced at me, and I got her briefcase from the overhead rack, taking out her notepaper, her pen, and an envelope.

She lit another cigarette and looked out the window for a moment, holding her writing supplies in her other hand. She always liked to compose notes and letters in advance, before she started writing, so she wouldn't waste any of her special notepaper. It was very light gray, lined, and at the top it said simply, "Jan Sleet," and under that it said, "U-town."

When she had finished writing, she put the note in the envelope, addressed it, sealed it, and handed it to me. It was addressed to Stuart Anson, our lawyer. I put the pen and notepaper away, then she said quietly, "I outlined the case, and asked him to follow it for us, just in case there are developments."

Then, as the train pulled into a station, she and I switched seats and she did stretch out, with her head in my lap. The conductor came around as the train pulled out of the station, and he noted our perhaps-inappropriate use of the seats, but he didn't comment. It was the middle of the night, after all, the train was mostly empty, and we were well-dressed and obviously respectable.

I dozed fitfully for the rest of the trip. Whenever I did wake up for a moment, as the train stopped at a station or went around a curve, Jan and Erika were asleep, but Claudia was always awake. She was usually looking out the window, often smoking, her hand always on Erika's shoulder, her thoughts obviously a million miles away from whatever was visible in the early morning light outside.

Christy was there when we pulled into the train station, and she had already arranged for a small van to transport us (and all of our luggage) back to U-town. She rode ahead of us as we drove to Stu's office building, where I jumped out and left the letter with the doorman. Then we worked our way through the morning traffic to the bridge. It was late enough by then that most of the trucks were already gone.

As we crested the bridge and drove down the far side, I felt like we'd been gone for a week.

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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