the sister mystery (part seven)

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I woke up with Fifteen tapping my shoulder.

"Marshall, Jan, wake up," he said. "We have an emergency."

I didn't hear sirens, so it didn't seem to be an invasion. I rolled over and got up on one elbow, indicating that I was at least somewhat awake. I could hear my wife moan unhappily behind me.

"A girl was murdered last night," Fifteen said quietly. "In the room where Ron usually sleeps. I–"

"Oh, my god," Jan said, and I felt the covers pull as she sat up. "Ron!"

Ron's head poked up at the foot of the bed. "Fuck. What?"

It was a good thing I was wearing pajamas, since Jan pulled all the covers away as she lurched to the foot of the bed to embrace Ron, who said, "Get off me!"

"Jan! Ron!" I said sharply, and they both turned. "We need to listen to this," I said. "It's important."

I could see them belatedly realize the implications of what Fifteen had said, and Jan slid over to sit beside me, tucking her nightgown around her bare legs. I took Ron's hand and pulled her over to sit next to me on the other side. For once, she didn't squirm or protest as I put my arm around her shoulders.

Fifteen continued. "The girl was apparently around fifteen or sixteen years old, dressed like a tourist, and she'd been beaten up some time before she was killed."

"How was she killed?" my employer asked, putting on her glasses.

"Stabbed. Several times. The body is being examined now."

I could feel Ron start to vibrate, so I held her close.

"She was Ron's sister," my employer said slowly. "Nothing should be touched except for the body. I will get dressed and come to do a thorough examination of the room. Then I will probably need to speak to the runners, all of them. Be ready to sound the signal."

He turned to go, but I said, "One more thing. Ron will not be able to pick up the mail this morning. Please be very careful about who is assigned to take over for today. It has to be somebody who will do it as carefully as she always does."

He nodded and said, "I'll do it myself. Ron, I'm sorry about your sister," and then he left the room. Ron hadn't reacted to any of this.

My employer grabbed her cane and got to her feet, limping around the bed and starting to get dressed.

"I will search the room," she said. "Ron, this is very important. You and Marshall will stay here, and he is going to ask you a lot of questions, about your sister and your birth parents and probably other things as well. I know this probably won't be pleasant for you, and I'm sorry about that, but I'm sure you see that it's necessary."

"Why did you tell him she's my sister?" she asked. She was motionless, looking at the floor.

"He would have found out. Trying to hide it would only have made you look guilty. I'm fairly certain we'll have to tell people that you were the one who beat her, too, but we can withhold that for the moment."

She looked up. "I didn't kill her."

"I know you didn't," I said. "We'll figure it out."

My employer was behind us, getting dressed, but I knew she didn't approve of my first statement. Since, of course, we didn't know any such thing.

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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