the deacon mystery (part sixteen)

This story started here.

"Do you want to know what I'm thinking?"

The sheriff shrugged, conveying that she didn't know (or possibly that she didn't care).

"The Deacon girls have just lost their father, and their uncle for that matter. Maybe we should go to their house, right now, and inform whoever happens to be there."

"And see who's there, and what's going on." She stood up, shoving her notebook into her back pocket. "Let's go."

The state police had arrived by then, and we paused on our way out so the sheriff could confer with the officer in charge. I stood a distance away, politely giving the impression that I couldn't hear anything, although of course I could. Nothing interesting was said.

Then, as we drove along Main Street, at less than the sheriff's usual breakneck pace, I noticed Elsa's van in front of the Wagon Wheel. Their roast beef sandwiches were not going to please her.

Seafood was pretty reliably fresh in Claremont, but red meat was, at best, unreliable.

Thinking about roast beef, I remembered when my employer and I had spent a few days (hiding out from the army, in fear for our lives – a long story) on a fazenda in Bellona, and we'd eaten beef, a couple of times, from an animal which had been slaughtered just a day or two before.

It was as different from ordinary restaurant beef as fresh swordfish is from canned tuna.

Not that any restaurant in Claremont was going to have beef like that–

"O'Connor!" the sheriff said sharply, and I realized that we were parked in front of the Deacon house, which showed no life or lights. The entire street was dark and silent.

I started to open the car door when the two-way radio demanded Rhonda's attention. She took the handset from the dashboard and demanded to know what was up.

As she spoke – mostly yes and no and terse requests for more details – I got out of the car and leaned on the hood.

Somewhere along the line I had miscalculated. Why was I leaning against a police cruiser, in front of this dark and depressing-looking house? I had been asked to provide whatever information I had and I'd done so – as a responsible citizen and as someone who, for professional reasons, wanted to maintain good relations with local law enforcement – but, like my employer, I was not a public convenience, or a public employee, and I certainly didn't care about any of the Deacons.

I was still slightly buzzed from the beers I'd consumed earlier, on an empty stomach. I decided to blame everything on that.

Rhonda ended her call and got out of the car. After a moment's study of my face, she said, "Do you want the new news, or are you out?"

"I'm out," I said. "This is not my case."

She nodded. "Fair enough. I wish I could say the same." She gave me a sketchy salute. "Have a good night."

"You, too."

To be continued...

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