I went over to Angela and sat next to her. I could see the terror in her eyes, and I think she knew Jennifer was capable of shooting her. But something was wrong here, and Jennifer’s story didn’t add up.
No one walks into a place where the front door is unlocked. In my book, that was asking for trouble.
I think Jennifer was expecting to see exactly what I’d seen and was there for a reason.
“I wouldn’t scream when I take off the gag Angela,” I said. “I expect Jennifer is looking for a reason to use that gun.”
I removed the gag.
She took a few deep breaths and tried to calm herself. She was practically at the point of hyperventilating. I’d expected an outburst of outrage against Jennifer, and a pleading of innocence. I had no doubt she knew exactly what had happened in this room.
There was something else in her expression: pain.
Then I saw why. Her shoulder, which had been hidden from view, the cloth of her dress was soaked in blood. I took a closer look. A rough bandage, but no mistaking a bullet wound, roughly patched but leaking blood. She, too, had been shot.
“Who did this?” I asked quietly?
“I don’t know. I came home and found Al waiting for me.”
“You were expecting him?”
“We had an arrangement.”
“Your assistance in exchange for retribution for Cathy’s death?”
“Joe visited her when she threatened to tell Jennifer about him sexually abusing her. Al confronted him and he said it was an accident; that he never meant to hurt her, just keep her quiet. He also said that Cathy had been filming his visits, and would use that as evidence. He figured that night would also be on tape, but hadn’t been able to find it.”
“Were you aware Cathy had a camera installed?”
“No. But only recently, I recovered the video when cleaning out some old boxes. Joe was telling the truth, but he was still responsible for her death.”
Jennifer had put down the gun, come over to the table and sat. She moved the gun on the tabletop to within easy reach, just in case.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“You would have gone straight to Joe and he would have disappeared.”
“So you went to Al?”
“Yes. When I told him, he said he’d suspected he’d been set up by Joe but couldn’t prove it. He also said he thought Joe was up to something, and when he’d found out what it was, he said he would take care of him.”
“I thought he might have, but Al was the sort of man who beat people up, not kill them. He might be a lot of things, but he’s not a cold-blooded killer.”
“And your part in it?”
“I wanted him to teach Joe a lesson, not kill him.”
“That charade at Outtel?”
“He said Joe had discovered him poking around in the company’s affairs, and he had to disappear.
He said if you were involved you’d bring in the police, that Detective Sykes, and give his disappearance some credibility, put Joe at ease.”
“It wasn’t for long. Who killed Joe? Al?”
“No. He told me someone else did it, and I believed him.”
“Did he find out what Joe was doing?”
“Yes. He was skimming money, millions over the years.”
“That would require help.”
“Al was trying to get information out of Miriam. He knew she was not the real Miriam, but an ex-con called Alice something or other. You were right, he was not having an affair, he was just trying to get close enough to find out what she was doing.”
There was another knock on the door. Jennifer didn’t seem too perturbed by it. She picked up the gun, put it behind her back and walked to the door. A look out the peephole, then she opened it.
She let her in and closed the door. The gun was in her hand but pointing at the floor.
“An unfortunate circumstance,” Edwina said when she saw me. “You were supposed to stop investigating.”
“I did. I just wanted to see Angela again.”
“Curiosity killed the cat Mr Walthenson. It might also be your undoing.”
Seeing the two women together, it all became clear. The two women, married to two such men like Joe and Al, saw a way out.
© Copyright Charles Heath 2018
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