Rough Love…A Janie Temple mystery…unedited, incomplete…

As she walked down the hallway, Mary Ann and Sara snickered at her from within the office space shared by the detectives.  Janie walked in and shut the door. 

Both detectives looked up at her, when the door clicked shut. Janie locked the door.

“Oh, have we upset you?”

“Yes, Mary Ann. You have.”

“So, what are we to do about that, hmm?”

“I’m gonna beat the brakes off you. Your clearly not a mother, and if you are, I feel very sorry for your child.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means you are living proof as to why abortion should never be outlawed. Your mother should’ve had one.”

Mary Ann screamed and leapt at Janie. As Mary Ann closed the distance, Janie stepped to the side and struck her just below the breastbone. Air rushed out of Mary Ann’s lungs, as she collapsed to the floor. Janie reached down and snatched Mary Ann’s head from the floor by her shirt collar and smashed her right hand into her chin. 

She looked at Sara who stood frozen over at the desk, her eyes wide with shock, and Janie said, “don’t make me come back here and do this again. You tell Mary Ann, when she wakes up, I better not have anymore problems from this day forth, or there will be consequences.”

“Okay,” Sara stuttered. “We won’t have any more issues.”

“We better not,” Janie snapped, as she unlocked the door and walked out in the hallway.

Artemis and Walter stood at the end of the hallway, watching to see who came out of the room. Chief Hathcock had shut his door. 

Janie walked down and joined Artemis and Walter. 

Is everything okay, Janie?”

“Yes,” she said, “everything is fine. Mary Ann and I needed to get somethings straight before I go out here and launch an investigation.”

“Oh, okay then. Well, you be careful out there.”

“I will.”

Janie nodded at Walter, and they walked out into the warm sunlight.  

“Where would you like to start, Janie?”

“The high school. When did you graduate Walter?”

“1992.”

“So, you were in middle school when this murder occurred?”

“Well, I don’t know. Who is she?”

“Crap,” Janie thought as she reached for her phone. A plain white business card had Tammy Bowen’s information printed on it. Janie dialed her number.

“Yes?”

“Tammy Bowen, please.”

“This is Tammy.”

“Hi, this is Detective Temple. Um, by chance do you have the name of my victim close by?”

“Sue-Anne Traylor.”

“Thank you.”

Janie pressed end call on her cell and shoved it into her back pocket. Walter watched as she blushed and struggled to regain her composure. He said nothing as she turned to face him.

“Um, the victim’s name is Sue-Anne Traylor.”

“I don’t know that name right off the bat, but I’ll think about it and see what I can remember.”

“You must find me incompetent,” she said in a fit of frustration.

Walter walked up and put a hand on her shoulder. His hazel eyes met hers, and he gave her a soft smile.

“It’s okay, Janie, just breathe.”

Janie closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Then she did it again.  Finally, she opened her eyes.

“Thanks, Walter.”

“Yep. You bet.”

“To the high school,” Janie said, walking to her private vehicle, a grey Toyota Camry, and she motioned for Walter to join her.

She pulled out and drove them to the school. Neither she nor Walter spoke on the way there.

Slowly Janie began to understand that Walter wasn’t much of a chit-chatterer, he’d speak when it was necessary.

She wondered what had occurred to make the man that way. 

Wayfarer High School, WHS to the students and staff, sat off the main throughway near the border of town. It had served five generations of students, but unlike some other schools, WHS had no stellar alumni that had gone on to do great things in politics or science. 

The only notable exception was Roy Darnell Carver. He served as a deacon in the First United Methodist Church of Angie, was a local titan of industry with his family’s farms which employed most of the town, and he gave generously to local charities, the library, and the school sports teams. 

If the town of Angie had a patron saint it was Roy Darnell Carver. 

Like most of the residents in Angie, Principal Ward T. Smith, 69, considered himself blessed that Roy Darnell Carver had seen fit to bless his school with his money. 

Janie pulled the Camry into an empty parking spot, far from the main doors. She and Walter got out. Kids stood in the parking lot, blaring rock music, smoking cigarettes, and talking obnoxiously loud. 

Every eye turned to her and Walter as they walked past. More than one truck had a gun rack in the back glass, albeit no guns adorned the racks. 

“So, you went to school here,” Janie said, as she and Walter walked up the stairs to the main doors.

“A long time ago,” Walter said softly.

They pushed the doors open, and Janie stood in the hallway for a moment. There is a smell associated with most things, old buildings especially, but unlike most, the smell of WHS was of bleach. As if someone was working double overtime to erase the past from the school.

“Come on,” Janie said. “Let’s go find the principal.”

“Follow me,” Walter said. “I remember how to get there.”

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