Lilly and I caught a bus to my home on the outskirts of Fredericksburg. After we got off the bus, we walked down the dirt road to my mobile home. It was a little after seven, when I put steaks on the grill. Lilly whipped up a cucumber and tomato salad and dribbled vinaigrette dressing over it. As the meat cooked, I put on soft jazz to help me unwind. I sat on my porch and listened to the piano and soft guitar filled the air.
“It’s nice to just sit and listen, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is Lilly.”
She handed me a Dr. Pepper zero. Once the meat had finished, we sat and ate our meal. We both looked up when the crunch of gravel and bright headlights flooded the area. Ashley and her source came toward the house. It was the older black man that worked the gate. He gave me a nod, and I welcomed them into my home.
“Let’s sit out on the back porch,” I suggested, as I walked out onto it.
“Sure thing. You’ve have ten minutes.”
“Where is Yvonne? What happened to the Trinity?”
“After you and your partner took down Tia Mathers, things went south. There are new players in charge of the country club. That young man at the council, he told us to stop asking questions or there would be ‘dire’ circumstances.”
“Who? Winston Smith?”
“Yes. We don’t know who’s behind it, but we heard about Mr. Franks. Don’t nobody want to end up like him, so everybody stays quiet.”
“Okay. We need to rattle Smith then,” Lilly said.
“First, we need to talk to Janko and see what he knows about it. If anyone noticed a change at the upper levels, it’d be him.”
“Thanks, Ashley. I owe you one.”
“Oh, you owe me more than one, Konan. I intend to collect.”
We watched as the pair walked out to the car and vanished from view. Lilly turned and raised her eyebrows at me.
“Ashley intends to collect, does she?”
“I don’t know what she’s going on about, Lilly. She might just want to rile you up.”
“Mmmhmm. I’ll see you in the morning at 0900. We need to get to Janko before the day gets to busy.”
“Yeah, I will see you then.”
I watched as she left, and then sat in my rocker on the porch. Nothing stirred, and for several moments I considered my lost faith. When everything collapsed and all was in ruin, would mankind be satisfied with the hell they’d wrought upon us all?
The insistent ring of my phone stirred me from my slumber. My phone sat on top of the stump that adorned the end of my porch. I blinked and tried to focus my attention.
“Where are you?”
“Ehm, in my rocker. I’ll be right there.”
“Don’t bother. We’ve got another body.”
“You’ll know it when you see it. It’s at the train depot, same spot as the last one.”
“Oh, good God.”
“Hurry, Konan. There’s no mistaking it this time. It’s a murder.”
I splashed water on my face and ran to my truck. The train depot was on the other side of town, but I floored it and whipped wildly through traffic. Lilly would’ve been proud of my masterful evasion of traffic. I pulled up, threw my truck into park, and leapt out.
Lilly stood next to Ashley, and I walked over to them.
Yvonne, and Ashley’s source, lay dead upon the tracks. Both were beaten and then shot point blank in the head. On the concrete barrier, painted in their blood was this message:
“Look upon what you have wrought.”
Ashley and Lilly looked at me. Yvonne was stripped naked and thrown down first, from the looks of it, the elderly black man was left clothed and thrown next to her. The scene screamed disdain, the message a warning of further trespasses and consequences.
“I’m sorry about your source, Ashley.”
“Me too, Konan. Alan deserved better.”
“Sorry, I overslept.”
Lilly wrapped her arm around mine and whispered, “it’s okay, Konan. We didn’t know this would happen.”
“Clearly, these people don’t want questions asked about the Trinity.”
“So, what now?”
“Now, we find out who was behind it, Ashley, and we make them pay.”
“How do we do that, Konan? Alan said no one knew who’s behind it. There’s no one to make pay for it.”
“Yeah, there is. We smoke them out. We’re going to pay a visit to Jane Franks. As a matter of fact, why don’t we go pick her up and bring her in for questioning?”
“On what grounds?”
“About the death of the brother. If she won’t comply and answer our questions, then we can take her in.”
“That’s flimsy, Konan,” Lilly said, and Ashley nodded her head.
“Paper thin,” she added.
“Okay, then what do you two suggest?”
“I don’t know, I just…”
“If you don’t have a suggestion better than mine, let’s roll with mine.”
Me and Lilly walked out to my truck, and I drove us to the Fredericks Building. We got out and walked in, through the lobby, and rode the lift to the third floor. The receptionist looked up and frowned.
“I’m sorry, detective. The board members are in an emergency session, they can’t be bothered.”
“It’ll take just one minute, excuse me.”
Lilly took the receptionist by the arm and helped her back to her seat. Then, she followed me into the conference room.
Winston Smith and the board members turned to face me when I walked in.
“Good morning, Mr. Smith. Do you know about Yvonne’s murder? How about the gate man at the country club? Have you been informed?”
“Uh, yes. We’ve heard. Um, that’s the point of this meeting you interrupted.”
“Ah, well, I apologize. I just came to ask your board member, Jane Franks, a few questions. I’ll bring her right back.”
“She has an obligation to the board. I don…”
“Hold up, high speed. There’s this thing called a murder investigation. It trumps your stupid board meeting. Okay? Now, she can answer my questions here, or she can take a ride downtown with us. What’s it gonna be?”
I turned to Jane Franks and raised my eyebrows. Her eyes were the size of half-dollars, and her mouth was agape.
“Ms. Franks, you should go with Detective Konan. We’ll send a lawyer over to protect your rights.”
“Okay, Mr. Smith.”
Lilly and I escorted Ms. Franks out of the conference room and to the lift. Behind us, we could hear Winston Smith yelling.