81 Write Myself a Letter

“They like it here. Go figure.” Martin yawned and tilted back in an uncomfortable meeting room chair. “That wasn’t there before, was it?” He nodded at a wide, sweeping stain in one corner, where the ceiling met the wall.

“Hey, you’re a detective, aren’t you? Trained, precise mind?” jabbed Martinelli.

“If there’s no blood on them, I don’t do walls. Just ‘wall-ies,’ and morons.”Chapter 81 Write Myself a Letter

“We do deal with fools, it’s true. I’ve heard that a ‘wally’ is a derogatory term used by a detective about a policeman, too, so watch it. Speaking of derogatory, Miss Doyle’s up next. If she’s back. Mrs. James didn’t say what she drives. Let’s ask Gervase.”

*   *   *   *   *

“We have a three hour window between ten, when Lee returned from her morning ride, and one, when the accident happened. You still say you were in the lobby all that time?”

“Except to walk in here to re-check the ceiling.” He pointed up to the corner. “Only residents entered, or deliveries straight in to my desk and out. And R.M. Don’t know who was in the garage. Never do, really.”

“Happen to know what Miss Doyle drives?”

“Oh, yes. Sporty, red BMW.”

“Parking?”

“One space.”

“The treasurer has one that’s not used?”

“Not currently.”

“What’s with the ceiling?” Martin’s phone rang.

“New stain from an overflowing toilet directly upstairs. In Miss Doyle’s unit.” Martin rolled his eyes behind Gervase’s back as he stepped out into the hallway to talk to the officer responding to the bike accident. “Ceiling’s scheduled for repair tomorrow, so this room will be closed. I can find you another space, if you still need one.”

“Hope that won’t be necessary, thanks.”

“Don’t we all?” said Gervase. “Back to normal, whatever that is, anymore.”

*   *   *   *   *

“Both brake lines were very cleanly cut,” said Martin. “Lucky she wasn’t going at full speed when she tried to brake.”

“Prints?”

“Typical mish-mash.  We’ll get prints to match up from the family, and from her friend who stuck around the whole time and made sure nobody touched the bike. She ‘wants to help us.’”

“Terrific.”

“I’ll set that up for when the girl’s back home. Trickier if her arm’s broken, like her Dad says. Karon told me downstairs that he and his sister sometimes handled her bike, to move it around in their space, but that it was brand new and only Lee rode it. He’s pretty hot under the collar.”

“I get that, don’t you? What I don’t get is what this has to do with what’s happened before. Something’s missing.”

“Like the drowning scene? But does there have to be a connection?”

“Come on Martin, we’ve nearly had a second ‘murder’ on our hands. This time a young girl. In my experience, kids are involved only when they know something that gets in somebody’s way.”

“Which brings us back to Kitty Doyle.”

Martin knew that when Martinelli got tetchy with him, it was because he was very unhappy with the way a case was going. “How do you want to handle her?”

“We have to find her, first. If we can’t see her in this room tomorrow, it’ll have to be in her place. Let’s hope they don’t all close on these deals in the night, and creep away. Let’s go home. I want a drink.”

An underground, heated condo garage with clearly marked, deeded parking spaces.

An underground, heated condo garage with clearly numbered, deeded parking spaces.

*   *   *   *   *

Kitty returned to her unit that evening, supremely satisfied with her day, anticipating no need for purging in her oily tub. Her ploys had worked the charm, instead. Herbert Minosa, her new pastor officially as of this afternoon, inhabited a land of untold opportunities, and he’d tossed off her letter of recommendation like he was born to a life of hype. It was safe in her pocket, letter-headed with his church logo, ‘Plenty For All.’ He wanted to work with her closely on some local initiatives though her speaking talents would soon thrust her onto some larger stage. He hoped that she would remember, when a spear carrier in that arena, of her love for her earthly church home and of those who nurtured her along that road; the need was so great.

Her Herbie was aware through the jungle drumbeat of an ever reverberating, hierarchical grapevine, of a new position requiring local expertise that could swing the ideal candidate into the rarefied regions of full-time, thoroughly compensated testimony at the very canopy, the tree-tops of truth. Might she possibly be interested in such lofty work without the prior testing, the rigors of regional work and its resultant humility, that after a time led an aspirant to acceptance, to the quietude and the poverty of the parish?

She lowered her head modestly at hearing this news, then brightened, suggesting that if it were a wider calling, she would serve. This organization was a national not a neighborhood one but blessed, he assured her, all the same. Blessed in vision, even more blessed in resources. It was recently possessed, in response to a heavenly summons to act in this area, of numerous properties, real estate of necessary kinds, of humbler houses for their poor, itinerant preachers, of studios for fulfilling and delivering their relentless message, of consoling, exclusive residences for over-burdened leaders of the flock.

If she accepted this position to liaise between these outstretched arms she would be welcomed into them, and completely provided for at church expense.  She murmured docile appreciation. She would accept. What must she do? She must wait. Wait until her own Herbie spoke for her, until he approached those from whose hands delights dropped to the chosen, those deemed to be grateful and willing enough to be bidden. A prayerful evening, a time of preparation was the customary course. Then, be ready. Patience must be her standard.

Kitty, unleashed from the morass of compliance, stepped into her unit, treading on a plain envelope. Ignoring the hole pierced in it by the heel of her spiky shoe, she scanned the contents, a letter from the secretary, the loathed Mrs. James. Savagely, she ground it back under that same heel then smirking, preparing for the circumscribed night of prayer, bent to retrieve it as if to offer it a revived purpose, crossed the room, struck a match and lit the letter, watching the flame eagerly rise along its length and reaching for some new place to burn. Kitty, aroused by ignition, clustered her candles and on her knees seared the willing wicks, one by one.

The next morning, in her mailbox was the same vile letter from the association, assigning her costs of repairing the room downstairs. There was a reminder from the No Pupik to the effect that his financing was good and that his lender wanted to communicate with her title company to arrange a closing date. Who was her contact? She called the offices of White, Choyce, and Wong to offload the work on them with the instruction that she wanted out of her place sooner rather than later. In her new vision of the future, there was a free ride on tap.