A week passed before I heard anything from anyone. I sat in my recliner and read The Rain in Portugal by Billy Collins when Rama pulled into my yard. He got out and walked toward my mobile home. I met him at the door.
“What do you want?”
“We need to talk, Konan.”
“No, we don’t.”
“Yes, we do. Did you know that Larry was in debt to Hilda Gunderson?”
“Did you know that Larry said you’d vouch for the debt?”
“Well, I’ve got Ms. Gunderson at the precinct, and she tells quiet the tale. I need you to come in.”
“And if I don’t?”
“Don’t make me arrest you, Konan.”
I snorted and nodded, and both Rama and I met each other’s eyes.
“Go ahead and try.”
Rama licked his lips and backed up. He gave me a sarcastic grin and chuckled.
“Don’t make it easy, Thermopolis. I’ll come back with back-up.”
“Make sure you come back with probable cause, and if you think you’re gonna make me come downtown without it, you’ll need more than back up.”
Rama walked out to his vehicle and pulled out of my driveway. I walked to my closet and pulled out my Mossberg 590 pump action shotgun and made sure it was loaded with buckshot, as an afterthought, I removed three rounds and loaded rock salt in place of the missing rounds.
Something wasn’t making sense, and I decided that first thing in the morning, I would visit Gilly. Perhaps, she would have an answer for this new development.
At 0830, I started for Larry and Gilly’s home.
Gilly sat on her porch in a blue nightie that had seen better days. Rips and tears decorated the thin fabric, and she sat in a backless chair smoking a cigarette.
Her blue eyes followed me as I got out and walked toward her. She finished her smoke and tossed the butt into the brush.
“Wow. Look who’s back. What now?”
“Do you know anything about Larry borrowing money from Ms. Hilda Gunderson?”
“I don’t know who that is.”
“Hilda Gunderson was married to a local mobster. When he died, she took over his racket.”
“She’s at the precinct saying Larry borrowed money, and I vouched for it. I hoped you knew something that would shed some light on it.”
“Come on, Konan. Everyone knows you’re a goody-goody. That stick in your rump is jammed in there so tight, it’d kill you to have it removed.”
“So, you don’t know anything about it.”
“No. Although another cop came out here asking about it.”
“No. Sheriff Rowell. He said he thought you were the one who killed Larry over the debt. Rowell also said you were the prime suspect in the murder.”
I leaned back against the porch and closed my eyes. Gilly leaned forward and touched my shoulder.
“I don’t believe them, Thermopolis. For all the drama that happened all those years ago, it was in the past. Larry and I lived our lives, and you went on with yours.”
“Yeah. I’ll get out of your hair. Be careful, Gilly.”
“What are you going to do, Konan?”
“Something stupid, I’m sure.”
The truth was I had no options left. I left and drove to the police precinct. As I walked in, two detectives looked up and frowned. Val Rankin picked up a phone and spoke in hushed tones.
“He’s here. Mmhmm. Walked in bigger than life. Okay.”
He stood and waved me over and motioned to a chair in front of his desk.
“Have a seat.”
I sat down and looked for Franco. Rama was in Chief Roger’s office, along with Sheriff Rowell, and all three looked out at me. Rankin sniffed, and I cut my eyes over to him.
“What’s new, Rankin?”
“Oh, you know. I’m neck deep in investigating dirty cops that commit murder of their high school friends.”
“Oh yeah? How’s that going?”
“We’re getting close to hanging the traitor.”
“Good luck with that. I understand Hilda Gunderson is here.”
“She was. Franco let her go after she gave us you.”
Rama and Rowell walked out of the office and Rama gave me an insincere smile. He nodded at Rankin and said, “I’ll take it from here.”