Authors: Death Stalks the Law
Death Stalks the Law
Death Stalks the Law
A Lizzie Crenshaw Mystery
By Teresa Watson
Copyright 2012 Teresa L. Watson
This is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. Thank you for respecting the author’s work.
Despite an attempt by family and friends to have me committed to the funny farm for demented writers (I do hope you realize I am kidding), I am still free to write another Lizzie Crenshaw mystery. Better luck next time, guys!
Special thanks to Kristi Spinks and Lonnie Wolmagott for their endless hours of patience with a grumpy writer, many hours of Words With Friends, and their countless ideas and suggestions.
A special thanks to Barb Anne Peters, who gave me a wonderful idea for the story several months ago. I wrote it down and saved it for a special story. I hope she approves! If you don’t like what happens, it’s my fault. If you do like what happens, she gets all the credit!
To Kristi, Lonnie, Kathy Evans: Thank you for reading the
story as I worked on it, pointing out what was wrong, and sending me countless editing notes. I could not do this without you.
To my loving mother and father: Mother eagerly reads everything I send her, makes notes for all the little mistakes as well as making her own suggestions for the story; Dad types up her notes and emails them to me. You are my biggest fans and my loudest cheerleaders. Thank you so much. I love you both very, very much!
To my son: You finally got the big explosion you wanted! Ok, so I blew up the wrong thing, but it still counts! Thank you for being a nag and making me write when I didn’t want to; for making sure I had food and drink; for cleaning the kitchen; and laughing in all the right places. I love you very much!
To Jamie Lee Scott: Thank you for interrupting your work to design another awesome cover and to format my little story. I am proud of all you have accomplished this summer! I hope when I grow up, I can be just like you!
As always, a big thanks to the Dotters group for their encouragement, kind words and kicks in the pants that you always give me when I don’t want to work!
“Don’t you think this is a little too close to home?” the first man told his friend. “What if someone sees us?”
“They’ll think we are just tying up loose ends on the Coogan case.”
“If they knew why we are really meeting, it could get you in some serious trouble.”
The second man looked around the small Mexican café. “You let me worry about that.”
“Considering what happened the last time you met someone, this could be hazardous to my health.”
“My meeting with Coogan had nothing to do with him being killed. Would you stop being so paranoid?”
“Has the subject had any more contact with our fugitive?”
The second man shook his head. “Not since that phone call two months ago.”
“I still say she knows about you. Maybe she has the house bugged.”
“There’s no way, unless she has a contact inside the DOJ, the FBI, or both.”
“Tread lightly,” the first man warned. “When all this comes out, I wouldn’t give a plug nickel for your life. She’ll be gunning for you.” He looked at his watch. “Thank you for lunch, but I need to go. Do you have that information for me?”
The second man handed him a white envelope. “It’s all in there.”
“Do you think our fugitive is going to come back here?”
“She’ll show up, probably when we least expect it. And she’ll bring trouble when she does come.”
“When that happens, you’ll have a lot of explaining to do.”
“I’ll deal with it when the time comes, don’t worry. Everyone in that town wants her caught as much as we do.”
“They aren’t going to be happy to learn you’ve been using them. All I can say is good luck.”
After paying the bill, the two men walked outside, shook hands, and drove off in opposite directions. Unbeknownst to them, two people had noticed their meeting. One was a blabbermouth; the other one was the subject of their meeting.
Debra Cosgrove slipped out of her booth and quickly walked outside. She got into her rental car, and followed the first man. Her mission was to get that envelope from him, preferably without too much trouble. She hoped he would be cooperative, but after observing him for the past two months, she doubted it.
She’d do whatever necessary to protect herself, even if that meant killing whoever got in her way.
“What do you mean she’s depressed?”
“Physically, she’s fine,” Dr. Rachel Quinn said, “but you have been spending a lot of time at work, and she’s feeling neglected.”
I looked down at Babe, the bloodhound I had taken in after my estranged grandfather, Amos Gardner, was killed. “Dogs don’t get depressed.”
“Oh yes, they do,” Dr. Quinn replied. “She’s used to being around people all the time. Think about it: for the past two months, you’ve been spending every waking moment at the newspaper. You only go home to eat and sleep. Amos and Babe were inseparable.”
I stroked the top of Babe’s head. “I am so sorry, girl,” I said. “So what do I do about it? I can’t take her to the office with me.”
“Get her a companion.”
“You mean hire someone to spend time with her?”
Dr. Quinn laughed. “No, I mean get another dog.”
“You’re kidding, right? You just pointed out I don’t have time for Babe, and you want me to get another dog?”
“Don’t you know someone who has a dog that wouldn’t mind keeping Babe during the day?”
I thought about it for a moment. “Off the top of my head, no. But I’ll ask around.”
Dr. Quinn wrote something in Babe’s chart and stood up. “I’ll ask some of my patients. We’ll figure something out.” She led us down the hallway toward the waiting area. “Isn’t that guy Dale hired to help you due to arrive soon?”
I sighed. “He’s been due to arrive for the last two months. I hope he gets here soon. I’m not sure how much more of these long days and nights I can take.”
“Any idea who it is?”
“No clue. The last letter I had from Dale only said that the guy had been delayed.”
“Well, I hope he shows up soon, for both your sakes.” Dr. Quinn knelt in front of Babe. “Goodbye, girl. Take care of your mistress.”
Babe gave her a look that said it was a lost cause. I thanked Dr. Quinn and left.
Because I had Babe with me, I was driving Amos’ old truck, the pistachio green nightmare on wheels. After my previous attempt to rid myself of that hideous color had failed, I resigned myself to the fact that I might be stuck with it forever.
I drove Babe back home. When we went inside, I opened the back door, and she went straight to her usual spot under the tree. I watched her for a minute. She didn’t look depressed, but then again, she didn’t have a lot of facial expressions, so I never knew if she was happy or not.
I checked the answering machine that sat on the table by the couch. There were three messages. The first one was from my mother. “Alice called me and said you brought Babe into Dr. Quinn’s office. I do hope it’s nothing serious. Don’t forget, you and T.J. are having dinner with me tomorrow night. He’s such a nice young man. Has he proposed yet? Oh dear, there’s the oven timer. I have to go. Love you!”
Her message brought back visions of my worst nightmare. Remember what I said about wedding dresses and big butt bows? I shuddered and went on to the next message. “Hey, babe,” T.J. said. “I’m afraid I can’t make dinner tomorrow night. I have a meeting in Dallas, and I won’t be home until late. Give my apologies to your mother. Miss you. Love you!”
I was disappointed. T.J. had cancelled our lunch plans yesterday because of a meeting, and I had been looking forward to spending some quality time with him tomorrow night. It wasn’t the first time he had cancelled on me in the last few weeks. He told me it was all work related. Maybe I needed to talk to Owen about all these meetings he was making T.J. go to, and strongly suggest he go to some of them himself.
The third message made my skin crawl. “Hello, dear niece,” Debra Cosgrove said. “I’m sure you were hoping I had forgotten about our previous conversation. I’ve been busy taking care of some business transactions.” I was pretty sure that involved illegal things I didn’t want to know about, but I knew I shouldn’t speculate. “But I’m through now, so I will be coming to see you soon. Remember what I said, though. Someone near and dear to you is a traitor. Tell that sheriff I can’t wait to see him.”
I felt very sick to my stomach.
It was going to be one of those weeks.
I was under orders from Sheriff Owen Greene to tell him whenever Debra contacted me. I made sure Babe had enough food and water, and spent a few minutes playing with her. I grabbed my purse and my laptop bag, put them in my mother’s midnight blue Chevy Cobalt and drove over to his office. There was no one sitting at the receptionist’s desk, so I walked back to see if I could find him.
“I need that new patrol car, and I need it now,” Owen said to someone on the phone. He scowled at me, but I went into his office anyway, and sat down in one of the chairs in front of his desk. “Because the ones we have now are fifteen years old. Larry and Billy Bob Watkins outran one of my deputies in that old junker of a truck they’ve fixed up. How am I supposed to shut down their still if I can’t catch them? I’m sure you are concerned about the bottom line, but your bottom line is interfering with the performance of my duties. Now get me that new patrol car!” He slammed the phone down and rubbed his hands over his face. “Whatever your problem is, Lizzie, I don’t want to hear it.”
“Ok,” I said, standing up. “If you don’t want to know that Debra Cosgrove is dying to see you, I’ll just go to the newspaper office and write it up for the next edition.”
“Hold it!” Owen said. “Sit down. What is this about that crazy aunt of yours?”
I gave him Debra’s message. “Any idea why she wants to see you?”
He shook his head. “No clue. I mean, the only thing I want to do is put her in jail for murder. I have no idea why she would be upset about that, considering the fact that she’s guilty as sin.”
“She hasn’t been proven guilty in a court of law.”
“You can’t be serious,” he said incredulously. “She confessed.”
“She might have confessed, but there is no concrete evidence pointing to her guilt, is there? Plus, she confessed to me, which makes it hearsay, doesn’t it? That’s not admissible in a court of law.”
“No,” he said grudgingly. “But that doesn’t mean anything. Earline implicated her during her statement to the police.
“Earline isn’t exactly of sane mind and body right now. A jury could see it as her way of deflecting guilty onto an innocent party.”
“Just whose side are you on?”
“I’m not on anybody’s side. I’m just saying that you have to let the legal system run its due course.”
He shook his head again. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“Yes, stop sending T.J. to so many meetings. He’s cancelled dinner plans on me twice this week.”
“I have no idea what you are talking about, Lizzie. I haven’t sent him anywhere. I’ve been up to my neck in council meetings, trying to get that new patrol car. If he’s going to meetings, he’s doing it on his own time. Now get out of my office. I have to call another council member and do some more yelling.”
“What are you going to do about Debra?” I asked as I stood up.
“There’s nothing I can do,” he replied. “I’ll let my deputies know to be extra vigilant during their patrols, but until she makes her presence known, I’m not going to do a dang thing.”
“So you are going to let a known killer roam the county?”
“I don’t have any proof that she is in the state! She could have made that call from Timbuktu, for all I know. I don’t have the resources or the manpower to go on a wild goose chase. Besides, wasn’t it you that just pointed out she’s innocent until proven guilty?”
I ignored his last comment. “Why don’t you call that FBI agent that was here a couple of months ago, Hopkins?”
“Because if she does come back, I want to be the one to catch her, not some fed who doesn’t have a stake in this case like I do.”
“So you are going to go on an ego trip because you don’t want to ask for help? You’re an idiot, Owen. I hope someone doesn’t get hurt or killed because of it.” I left before he could reply.