Mix-up in Miniature
couldn’t contain a long, frustrated breath, however. Skip had heard them often over the years. “May I please speak to Corazón?” I asked, pronouncing her name like a native. “I’m sure that if I could just have a minute with her, she’ll remember me and we can clear this up.”
    Skip caught himself, but I heard the beginnings of a laugh. When you’ve helped raise a boy, you recognized his every sound and tic.
    Skip’s father never returned from the first Gulf War. His Uncle Ken and I stepped in to help Beverly at a time when she was often too devastated to take care of herself, let alone an energetic eleven-year-old boy. Skip grew up with our son, Richard, as much in our home as his own.
    Now that little redheaded boy was on the other end of the line telling me I didn’t hear what I knew I heard, that my ability to understand a Hispanic accent was less than perfect.
    Skip cleared his throat and apparently swallowed his laugh. “Aunt Gerry, why don’t we talk about this in person? We’d like you to come downtown anyway, since you were the last—”
    “One of the last,” I said, thinking of the killer.
    “One of the last people to see the victim. We’ll need a formal statement for the record.”
    “You sound as though I’m a suspect.”
    “You know the drill as well as I do, right?”
    “Sure.” I didn’t intend to sound convincing.
    “I’m leaving now and I need to make a couple of stops before I go back to the station. I’ll meet you there at, say, eight or so. Can you do that?”
    I grunted. “Of course, Detective Gowen.”
    I hung up and mentally canceled my plan to make an extra pecan pie, his favorite, for him before Thanksgiving dinner. If I kept that resolve to punish my nephew, it would be the first time.
    —
    Henry joined me in the den carrying a cup of tea for me and a mug of coffee for himself.
    “Perfect timing,” he said, setting the drinks down. “Kay took the girls to Sadie’s for ice cream to-go. They just left, so we have some time.”
    Another good Henry move. I stood and all but fainted into his arms, my head on his chest, not crying, not knowing exactly what I felt except that I was sad and confused. I felt a great loss at Varena’s death and anger at the violence she suffered. Added to that, my frustration at Skip’s denseness grew as I recalled our unsatisfactory conversation.
    I tried to sink into Henry’s comfortable embrace and believe everything would soon be clear.
    After a few moments we settled on the couch. I took a sip of chamomile and gave Henry the short version of Skip’s message.
    “Strange,” Henry said. “Was her English that bad?”
    I bristled. “Not you, too.”
    “I’m kidding.”
    “Sorry. Maybe I am wound up.”
    “Let’s talk about something else,” he said. “Do you know how hard it was to get your granddaughter out of here?”
    “I’m sure it wasn’t easy. Did you have to promise to remember every word I tell you about the call from Skip?”
    “Uh-huh. And it wasn’t cheap, either—you’re to persuade her father to get her a few million more RAMs, or whatever, of memory for her computer.”
    I laughed, picturing my granddaughter doing her best to cooperate, all the while negotiating and wanting to stay where the action was. “She has no idea what’s going on, but she can smell a case from a mile away. I’m sure she offered her computer skills already.”
    Henry nodded, a grandfatherly grin on his face. “Do you think she’s seriously headed for a career in investigative work? You’ve said she’s been in this phase for quite a while.”
    “If so, hopefully it will be something that keeps her at a desk and not running around with a gun on her hip. It’s bad enough that my only nephew does that for a living.” My thick-headed nephew, I added to myself.
    “Let me drive you to the station later. I don’t like to see you driving alone when you’re upset.”
    “I’m calmed down now,” I said, only

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