Chief Hathcock and Walter waited for her the following morning. As she walked in, Artemis gave her a small wave, and said, “they’re waiting for you in the chief’s office.”
She walked down the hall to the chief’s office, the door was wide open, and she walked in and sat next to Walter.
“Did you learn anything last night?”
“The woman was murdered according to the M.E. She had fractures in her ribs and face, and…”
“She was pregnant, and um, she gave birth after she passed away.”
Laughter broke out down the hall where Sara and Mary Ann sat at their desks.
“A dead body had a child,” one of them mocked.
Walter walked to the door and shut it. Janie blushed and said nothing else. Chief Hathcock watched his newest detective but said nothing.
“So, how did that happen?”
“Excuse me, Walter?”
“How did this woman give birth if she had no heartbeat?”
“Surely, you’re not buying this, Walter,” Chief Hathcock said quietly.
“Why would she make it up? Why would Tammy?”
“Fine. Tell us how this supposedly happened.”
“According to Tammy, gases built up in the intra-abdominal wall and forced the child out. It’s rare this happens. The baby must be positioned a certain way for this to occur.”
“So, where is this child? Was it stillborn? Is there any proof the child existed?”
“We don’t know where the child is. This is the first you guys are hearing of it. I don’t know if the child was stillborn, but I don’t see how it could have been anything but that. Proof is in the file,” Janie said putting the brown manila folder on the desk.
Hathcock picked up the file and opened it. As he read it, his brow furrowed and his mouth drew into a tight, hard line, any color he had in his face seemed to drain out, and the sparkle that shined in his eyes when he laughed died like a burnt-out sun in the solar system.
“Dear God,” he muttered. Walter said nothing, just sat there unmovable like a statue, waiting for someone to tell him what to do.
“Okay, detective, what’s next on your agenda?”
“I thought I’d visit some town folk and see if they remember a pregnant girl around here from 1985.”
“That’s a start, for sure,” said Chief Hathcock, “check with the schools and see if they kept any records concerning pregnant females.”
Walter stood, followed by Janie. He walked out of the office, but Chief Hathcock motioned for Janie to stay.
“You know how folks are around here, Janie. They ain’t going to appreciate you asking questions about no pregnant girls from the 1980s.”
“Why not, chief?”
“Time has moved on, but attitudes don’t change. You be careful out there. Don’t trust nobody.”
“Do you have a back-up piece? If not, you need to always keep one on you, Janie.”
Janie turned and looked at her superior. He was back in the file reading, and a cold shiver shot down her spine.
It felt as if the dead girl had stepped into the room and whispered her name. Janie fought to calm the butterflies in her stomach, but there was no calming them.
This case had just started, but Janie couldn’t stop feeling as if she was drowning.