Thirty minutes later, the place was crawling with police. Owen had called in the troops to help secure the crime scene, and the M.E. was bent over the body, taking pictures. “Did you touch him anywhere?” he asked me.
“Just his wrist to check for a pulse.”
He grunted at he started wrapping Oliver’s hands in paper bags. Lizzie turned and walked toward her car as Owen finished a call on his phone. “How did you just happen to find the body?”
“I didn’t, Babe did.”
“What were you doing over here?
“Babe hasn’t gotten used to Amos being gone, so I bring her over here once in a while to let her walk around. She took off for the woods when we got here. I figured she probably had a stash of bones buried back there. But it wasn’t a bone she brought to me. It was Oliver’s cap.”
“How did you know it was his hat?”
“Because he had it on when we were at the park.”
“Doc says that’s a butcher knife in his back. Do you own one?”
“I’m not worried about everyone else, just you.”
“Are you accusing me of killing Oliver Coogan?” I said incredulously.
“No! Go to my house and look at my butcher block. I’m sure you will find my knife right where it is supposed to be.”
“Oh, don’t worry, someone is already on their way there to check.”
“I cannot believe you actually think I killed him,” I fumed.
“The first person on the scene is usually the murderer, Lizzie.”
“Well, you didn’t believe I killed Amos, and I was the one who found him.”
“One body I can excuse. Two…well, you’re either incredibly unlucky, or you’re turning into a cold-blooded killer like your aunt.”
I pulled out my phone and dialed a number. “Mother? Would you please call your lawyer and have him meet me at the police station? I think I’m about to be arrested, and if I’m not, I plan to sue Owen Moore and the city for slander.” I listened for a minute, and then held out the phone. “She wants to talk to you.”
Owen took the phone. “Good evening, Mrs. Crenshaw. How are you…well ma’am, she found another body, and she did have a very public altercation with the victim this morning. Yes ma’am, I know that but…yes ma’am, I remember that, but you have to understand…no ma’am, I would never do that. Yes ma’am, I’ll do that right now.” He handed me the phone. “I’m sorry, Lizzie, I’m just trying to do my job. She says to get over there as soon as you can. There’s meatloaf for dinner.” He started to walk off, but turned back. “For the record, I know you didn’t do it. The handle of your butcher knife is black. The one in Coogan’s back is silver.”
“How do you know?”
“Remember last month when we came over to your house for dinner? You asked me to cut up some celery and carrots. I used the butcher knife, and I remember it had a black handle.”
“Then why did you ask me?”
“Because if I didn’t ask, it would appear that I was showing favoritism. The officer I sent to your house will take a picture of your butcher block to verify it isn’t your knife, all nice and legal. Please tell your mother that when you see her. I’m going to need you to come to the station later this evening, preferably without the lawyer, to give your statement.”
“I’ll bring you some meatloaf.” He smiled and walked off. I turned and literally ran right into T.J., who wrapped his arms around me to keep me from falling backwards. “How long have you been standing there?”
“I came in when Owen was obviously being chewed out by your mother,” T.J. chuckled. “Sorry we have to cancel our dinner plans.”
“I understand. Work comes first.”
“Yes, but not because I want it to,” he said, touching his forehead to mine. “I’d rather spend the evening with you than a dead body.”
“Well, that’s good to know.”
“T.J.!” Owen called.
“You better go. Mr. Crankypants is calling.”
He gave me a kiss on the cheek. “I’ll call you when I’m done, if it’s not too late.” He jogged over to join Owen near the body.
My phone rang as I got into the car, and I frowned when I saw the number. Dale. I thought about ignoring him for now, but I really didn’t want to get yelled at by him again. Sighing, I hit the talk button. “Hi, Dale. How’s it going?”
“What’s this I hear that you’ve found another body? Did you get pictures and interviews?”
“You want me to interview the dead body? What am I supposed to ask him? ‘Excuse me, sir, but could you tell me who stabbed you in the back?’”
“Don’t be a smart aleck, Crenshaw. Did you interview that bumbling sheriff?”
“If you are referring to Owen, no, I didn’t. I was too busy answering his questions.”
“Do they have an I.D. on the body yet?
I hesitated for two reasons: one, because I didn’t know if Owen wanted that information released yet, and two, because I really didn’t want to be the one to tell Dale that his ‘business associate’ was dead. A weird thought struck me. What if Dale killed him?
“Crenshaw!” Dale yelled. “Do they know who the dead man is it?”
“No,” I lied. I’m a coward. So, shoot me.
“Hang around there and see what you can find out. I want a story on my desk by 9 p.m.”
“There’s nothing to tell, Dale. You could write up what we know in about two minutes. ‘A body was found in the woods behind the burned down Gardner house. Police are not releasing any information at this time, including the identity of the victim.’ You know Doc isn’t going to give Owen any information until after he does an autopsy.”
“Stupid sheriff. I’d like to sue him for interfering with the performance of my duties,” Dale grumbled.
“Give them time to investigate. I can go to the police station in the morning, ask some questions, and write a story for the next edition.”
“Guess that will have to do,” he conceded.
“One thing before you go.”
“What? I’m busy over here, Crenshaw.”
“That man at the park this morning, is he working on a story with you?”
“What business is that of yours?”
“I was just curious about what kind of story you are working on, that’s all. It must be pretty big to get the boss to write it.”
“It’s none of your business, so stop asking. You’ve got enough to do without poking your nose into my business.”
“It was just a…”
“And let me tell you something else, Crenshaw,” he interrupted. “If I catch you nosing around my business again, I will fire you. No questions asked.” He hung up.
Well, well, well. What exactly is Dale trying to hide? And was it worth my job to find out?
Of course it was.
Because I’m nosy.