Gourdfellas

Gourdfellas by Maggie Bruce Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Gourdfellas by Maggie Bruce Read Free Book Online
Authors: Maggie Bruce
juggle too many demanding parts of my life. Ten minutes ago, I’d have said that the only way my name and the word suspect would be linked would be if my mother had phoned me and said, “Lili Marino, is this fellow you’re dating a usual suspect or is he someone ready to settle down?”
    I began to feel like a bantamweight mouse being batted around by a Sumo cat. My impatience with this little charade bubbled over. “Are you going to get the rifle or not?”
    “Where were you this morning?” she replied.
    Great—that wasn’t a question a cop asked without a reason, and that reason was surely bad news for me. “Driving home from New York City. Where I was visiting my brother in the hospital. And, yes, I was alone. Maybe a gas station attendant at the Stewart’s at Oyster Point would remember me. You make it sound like you’re going to haul me in for murder,” I said to lighten the tone.
    “That depends on what forensics finds out about the rifle.” She motioned me into the rear seat of the cruiser and called in her position on the walkie-talkie she pulled from her belt.
    Murder? She was probably just sticking to her script, ticking off procedural requirements one by one.
    At least I wasn’t spread-eagled against the hood of my car, enduring a pat down in full view of any neighbor who happened to drive by. As my breathing slowed, my mind started into gear again. Michele Castro was going to a lot of trouble, asking me questions and making me wait in the patrol car. Something big, perhaps even unthinkable, had happened. Nothing as simple as an accident along this quiet country road. Clearly, it had something to do with a rifle. Hunting out of season? That wouldn’t be serious enough to treat me as though I were a . . . murderer. That was the word I’d been trying to avoid.
    In the rearview mirror, I watched Castro’s normally pretty face screw into a look of puzzlement as she paced from one side of the road to the other. Finally, she flicked off the walkie-talkie and opened the door on the driver’s side.
    “I need to see the rifle you found.”
    “Good, I’d love to have you take it away.” But I felt no relief. Her still-tense expression told me that this wasn’t going to be a quick and easy jaunt.
    “And we need to search your house. We can do it two hours from now, after we get a warrant, or we can do it now with your permission.”
    My head dropped against the seat back. I didn’t need this, not when I had so many other things demanding my attention. No clear answers came out of the soup that was my brain, but I heard my Dad’s voice echoing in my head.
    If you’re ever in a jam, don’t be stupid. Lawyer up. It’s the only smart thing.
    He’d told me that when he was on the job, the only judgment he made when someone called a lawyer was that they had brains. Not every cop felt the way he did, he’d said, but that didn’t matter. The smart ones protected themselves.
    “I’ll give you my answer in a minute. After I call my lawyer. Can I get out and have a little privacy?”
    Castro’s steady gaze was accompanied by a curt nod. I climbed from the cruiser, walked a few steps down the road, and punched in Elizabeth Conklin’s number. I explained the situation in two seconds, and then she put me on hold. Now it was my turn to pace. Disintegrating tissue wads dotted the ditch, along with crushed beer cans and cigarette packs. On the other side of the road, a torn gym bag and a formerly white sock lay abandoned. The detritus of bored teens, I thought, on their way to becoming joyless adults. What was Elizabeth doing? The minutes dripped by like molasses in January. Finally, I heard a click and a voice.
    “Listen very carefully. Marjorie Mellon was found in the woods about a quarter mile from your house. Somebody shot her with a rifle. Are you sure you didn’t touch the one in your bathroom?”
    I stopped pacing. Marjorie Mellon, dead? Near my house? Her bouncing steel gray curls bobbed into my

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