Death of a Cantankerous old Coot – Chapter 4

There wasn’t much more to say after that. The crowd dispersed as T.J. came back with some yellow crepe paper and started marking off the perimeter around the merry-go-round. I tried not to watch as he wrapped it around the nearest trees, but he caught me looking and smiled. I blushed and turned away, focusing on Babe instead.

“Are you really going to take her?” Owen asked.

“What other choice do I have? I can’t let Earline take her to the pound.”

Owen patted Babe’s head. “You’re right. Will she fit into your car?”

I looked over at my Mini Cooper. “What do you think?”

“Well, I’d let you take the truck, but it is part of a crime scene. Tell you what, I’ll have T.J. drive her out to your place in the patrol car.”

My heart skipped a beat at the thought of seeing T.J. later. “Um, sure, that would be just fine. I have to go to the hardware store for some paint, but I should be home in an hour.”

Owen nodded and turned to look at Amos. “Poor old bastard.”

I wasn’t sure I agreed with his opinion of Amos, but I didn’t say so aloud. Instead, I said goodbye to Babe and went to the hardware store.

Five men stood by the register, talking about Amos. The consensus was that his death was bound to happen eventually. “Hell, I’ve been tempted to put a bullet in his butt a time or two myself,” Roger Tinsdall, the store owner declared. “He always came in here acting like he was entitled to anything he wanted.”

“He did the same thing everywhere. Just because his ancestors established this town, he thought he could tell everyone what to do,” Walter Simmons added.

“Owen’s not going to stop until he finds out who killed Amos,” Crandall Martin said.

“Maybe we should make sure he doesn’t find out,” Roger said as I walked toward the paint.

“Are you crazy?” Walter replied. “It’s against the law to interfere with an official police investigation!”

“I didn’t say to interfere,” Roger said. “But we don’t have to tell him everything, either. If he asks, we will tell him that we were playing poker last night. We’re fine, upstanding citizens. He won’t have any reason to doubt us.

“I have an alibi for last night,” Crandall said.

“You’re going to use Trixie as your alibi?” Walter said. “What would Andrea say about that?”

“It isn’t any of her damn business,” Crandall growled.

“I’m pretty sure Andrea would disagree with that,” Roger laughed.

Crandall noticed me for the first time. “Hey, Lizzie, how ya doing?”

The other men turned to look at me. “What can I get you, Lizzie?” Roger said as he came around the counter.

For some reason, I felt uncomfortable. “I…I need some paint. I’m redoing the shed in my backyard.”

“Well, sure,” he replied. “What color do you want? You aren’t going to paint it pink again, are you? Did your momma pick out the color?”

I laughed. “No, I’m not about to let her choose again. I was thinking blue or brown this time.”

“I seem to remember your shed has a couple of windows with shutters. Why don’t you paint it beige and the shutters blue?” I nodded in agreement, and he began mixing the paint. “So, I understand that you found Amos.”

“Yes, I did.”

Roger shook his head. “Damn shame. Amos was a jerk, but no one deserves to be killed.”

“Not everyone seems to agree with your point of view, Roger,” Crandall said behind me. “Otherwise, Amos would still be alive.”

He was right about that, but I didn’t want to say that aloud. However, their comment about interfering in Owen’s investigation made me wonder if one of them had something to do with the murder.

Roger carried the two paint cans to the front counter and rang it up. “That’ll be $52.85, Lizzie.” I handed him the money, grabbed the cans and left. Walking away, I couldn’t decide if I should tell Owen what I had heard. As I put the cans in the car, I looked over at the park, where Owen and T.J. were working. My conscience told me that I needed to do the right thing. Sighing, I started toward the park, but someone grabbed me from behind and yanked me backwards. I turned around and came face to face with Albert Garcia, one of the other men that had been in the hardware store.

“You need to stay out of this, Elizabeth,” he said quietly. “There is more to this than you will ever understand. Just let Owen do his job. He won’t find anything, and it will all go away. But only if you don’t tell him what you overheard inside.”

I looked at him, wondering what he thought I knew. “I’m pretty sure everyone knows that Crandall goes down to Trixie’s place once a week, Albert. It’s not that earth shattering. Owen will find out, anyway. He doesn’t need to hear it from me.”

“Keep it that way,” he said as he walked away. I watched him go back into the hardware store and say something to the others. They turned to look at me. I felt a cold chill go up my spine. They knew something about Amos’ murder.

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