Secondhand Stiff
Linda. “The scuttlebutt is,” he added, “Mazie and Linda are looking to partner up and expand Mazie’s stores into a good-size chain.”
    â€œAnd Mazie is the short African American woman with the visor?” I asked to confirm.
    Ina sneered. “Yeah, Mazie’s the gnarled little gnome. The tall black woman was Dionne Hudsinger, Ted’s wife. She’s pretty nice most of the time. Mazie’s the dumpy mailbox without legs.”
    Being short and stout myself, I bristled inside at the comment, but kept my personal feelings under wraps. “I remember her. She was bidding on the first locker right along with everyone else, even in competition with Linda. Why would she do that if she’s supposed to be in partnership with Linda?”
    Ina looked away while Buck answered, “Linda was probably bidding today for one of her clients. As I said, their partnership is rumor, not necessarily fact.”
    Ina nudged Buck with an elbow. “Guess Mazie didn’t leave. There she is now.”
    Our eyes turned to watch Mazie Moore coming out of the Elite Storage office. She’d removed her visor and was slowly making her way down the few short steps to the pavement.
    Okay, I’m short and fat, but even without standing next to her I could tell Mazie Moore’s mahogany head was several inches below mine, putting her well under five feet. Ina’s mailbox comment wasn’t too far off the mark. Mazie wasn’t just short; she was as wide as she was tall, almost literally, reminding me of a brown mini-fridge.
    As soon as Mazie descended the stairs, I saw Kim Pawlak signal to Renee, who left her seat and climbed the stairs. I also noted that Kim had brought out a few other folding chairs. Mazie moved one of them off to the side by itself and plunked down in it to await her turn for questioning. After making sure Buck could stay with Ina, I scooted over to where my mother sat on the folding chair.
    â€œWhere did Renee go?”
    â€œBathroom breaks,” Mom answered. “Seems they only have one on the premises, and it’s unisex. I’m next in line.”
    I sat down on Renee’s chair and leaned toward my mother. “Have the police spoken to you yet?”
    â€œThey took my name and Renee’s and our information. I gave them your home phone. I hope you don’t mind? Couldn’t see what good it would be giving them my number in New Hampshire when I’m out here.”
    â€œOf course that’s fine, but they will also want your home number in case they have questions after you leave. Murder investigations can take a long time.”
    â€œI also gave them my cell phone number.”
    Feeling more settled, I noticed Mom watching the crowd like a hawk. I discreetly pointed to Mazie. “Have you had a chance to chat with that woman yet?”
    Mom tore her eyes away from the crowd and looked at me funny. “Why would I?”
    â€œI don’t know.” I shrugged. “Maybe out of curiosity. You know, chitchat to pass the time.”
    After consideration, Mom shook an index finger in my direction. “You don’t fool me, missy. Those cogs in that head of yours are already working this as if it’s a case to be solved.”
    â€œIt is a case to be solved, and it involves someone we know. What would have happened if I hadn’t stuck my nose into things back in Massachusetts?”
    Mom turned away from me. “I would have been fine,” she sniffed. “They knew I didn’t kill that man.” Mom went back to watching the crowd, and we slipped into a loud silence until she said, “That woman—the one you pointed out. Ina doesn’t like her much.”
    â€œDid she tell you that?”
    â€œDidn’t need to,” Mom explained. “I could tell by the way they eyed each other during the auctions. It’s not the same hatred she has for that other woman—you know, the cheap

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