Authors: Simon Wood
He spotted Kate and Abby speaking to Mary and her husband.
Bob intercepted Josh before he got to them.
“Hey, pal,” Bob said.
“You talk to the cops?” asked Josh.
“Yeah,” Bob replied.
“I assume it didn’t go well judging by that answer.”
Josh and Bob were interrupted before any more could be said.
Mary stood behind him.
He turned to her.
She was the female embodiment of her brother Mark—small, only five feet, slight of frame with the minimum of curves.
Only two years Mark’s junior, she possessed the same salt and pepper gray hair.
“Thanks for coming.”
Smiling, she took Josh’s hand in hers and clasped another on top of his.
“Oh, it’s the least I could do,” Josh said.
“He thought of you as a good friend.”
“The will has been read.
You got the letter from the attorney?”
“Yes, I did.
I know about the plane.”
“I just want you to know I’m glad he left you his share of the aircraft.
God knows what I would have done with it.”
Momentarily, the smile slipped.
“Although, I’m not sure what good it is to you now.”
“I don’t know.
It’s in the hands of the insurance company.”
The smile came back, bigger and brighter.
“I hope you will do some good with the settlement.”
“Are you following on to the cemetery?”
Mary turned her head to Bob.
“Oh, Mary, this is a friend of mine, Bob Deuce.”
Mary shook hands with Bob.
Bob hemmed and hawed, but Josh answered for him.
“Yes, he’ll be coming along.”
We’ll be leaving in five minutes.”
Mary moved onto the other well-wishers.
“We’ll talk on the way to the cemetery, okay?” Josh said.
They joined Kate and Abby.
“Are you going on or leaving?” Josh asked.
“I’m going to take Abby back to school then I’ll go back to work.
I can see you and Bob have something to discuss.”
He dropped to one knee and kissed Abby.
“I’ll see you after school, kiddo.”
“Okay, dad,” Abby said.
Getting up, Josh said to Kate, “I’ll see you later.”
“Yeah,” Kate conceded.
Taking Abby’s hand, she turned on her heel and strode off for the Dodge Caravan.
Bob waited until Kate and Abby were out of earshot.
“It got a bit chilly all of a sudden, don’t you think?”
Things aren’t going too well, as you can imagine.
She’s none too pleased with me these days ever since Channel 3 turned up on the doorstep.”
The morning after Josh’s name had been given out on Channel 3, the news crew landed demanding a comment.
Kate had answered the door to them.
Pictures of a flustered Kate, before Josh intervened with a stern, “No comment,” made the evening news.
Other local news stations repeated the process, as did the rest of the press.
Josh had been screening calls ever since.
“You can’t blame her,” Bob said.
“Yeah, you’re right,” Josh said.
Bob looked at him.
“Are they still trying to get an interview?”
“I’ve told them no comment about a dozen times.
I think they’ve got the message.”
Josh stared at his wife and child.
“Come on, let’s talk in the car.
“You got a new car?”
“The loaner from the insurance came through yesterday.”
A hush came over the crowd.
Mark Keegan’s coffin was brought out and loaded into the hearse.
This heralded the end of the service and the mourners filed into the parking lot.
In respectful fashion, the hearse, limos and cars poured out of the church onto the roads.
Josh merged with the flow of traffic taking his own route to the graveyard.
The cemetery was a twenty-minute drive from the church, which gave him the perfect opportunity to talk privately with Bob.
Murder and attempted murder weren’t appropriate conversation for the graveside.
“What happened with Starsky and Hutch?” Josh asked.
You’re right about them, though.
Brady certainly has a stick up his ass.
But I couldn’t make out whether it’s about you or if he’s just made that way.
Williams listened though.”
Josh nodded, agreeing with the character assessments.
Bob continued, “I don’t think they’re going to do anything.
To be honest, we don’t have anything to give them.”
“What do you mean?” Josh snapped.
“We have a man with a fake name, a fake job and no permanent address.
In their opinion, we ain’t doing them any favors.”
“So we got nothing out of it.”
“I dunno, Josh.
I think I put the seed of doubt in their minds about the phone call to Margaret Macey.”
“How did you end it with them?”
“They said they’d call me if they needed me further.”
With his mind on the conversation, Josh’s focus wasn’t on the road.
He failed to see the woman with the stroller stepping into the crosswalk until the last moment.
He slammed on his brakes and the front wheels skidded over the first of the two white lines.
The force threw both men forward, but the seatbelts kept them restrained.
The woman jerked the stroller and child back from the brink.
People on either side of the road stared and frowned disapprovingly.
The woman with the stroller attempted the crossing for the second time.
She chewed Josh a new asshole as she crossed.
The windshield muted her abuse and protected him from the evil she would do given the chance.
Blissfully unaware, the child slept through the drama.
Josh released the breath he had held since violently applying the brakes.
Open-mouthed, he fixed his eyes on the woman insulting him as she walked.
“Nice one, Centurion.
I nearly had a cardiac arrest.
If we’re lucky, we can ask the minister if he’ll do a group booking at the graveyard,” Bob said.
Josh wiped his hands over his face.
“Shit, sorry, man.
I was miles away.”
“Unfortunately, I was right here in the thick of it.”
A car horn tooted from behind and Josh glanced in the rearview mirror.
Focus now and let’s see if we can’t get to where we’re going in one piece,” Bob said.
Josh removed his foot from the brake and inched down on the gas.
Slowly, the car accelerated away from the intersection.
Again, Josh’s focus wasn’t on driving or his problems.
His mind was a blank.
Occasionally, his mind flicked back to what could have happened if he had hit the stroller.
He shuddered at the thought.
“I did something you may not thank me for,” Bob confessed.
“What do you mean?”
“After the cops, I wasn’t happy with their lack of interest in the case.
I wanted to do something more,” Bob searched for a suitable word, “more proactive.”
“And?” Josh prompted.
“I called Margaret Macey.”
Bob was already wincing as the old woman’s name came out.
Josh felt the air around him squeeze.
Anything anybody did to improve things only made it worse.
He swore if he did nothing, it would make matters worse.
He switched lanes to make a left turn.
“I thought I could get some information from her that could help us,” Bob said in his defense.
He clutched the overhead door strap for support as the car made the turn.
“She went into wild hysterics.”
“Shit, don’t do me any favors.”
“Yeah, I know, but listen!”
Josh fell silent.
“She went loopy as soon as she heard I was from an insurance company.”
“She really does think someone’s trying to kill her.”
“What do you mean?”
“Margaret Macey thinks someone at her insurance company is trying to kill her.”
Bob allowed the information to sink in for a moment.
“What have you and she got in common?”
“We’ve both cashed in a life insurance policy?”
“Yeah, not only that, but you cashed them in with the same insurance company—Pinnacle Investments.”
“What are you getting at?”
“James Mitchell said he was from Pinnacle Investments and when he came to me, he asked about you two.
I know we’ve considered Mitchell may be working with Bell, but we haven’t considered that he’s working with Pinnacle.
I think Pinnacle Investments may be at the root of all this.”
“Where did you get that idea from?” Josh asked.
“It came to me last night, while I was in the tub.”
“The tub?” Josh scoffed.
“I know it sounds wild, but to me it seems worth further investigation.”
“No, I’m sorry, Bob.”
“It’s no wilder than the shit you’ve come up with in the last few weeks.”
The remark struck Josh hard, a kidney punch when he wasn’t looking.
He knew he’d driven family and close friends mad with his rants, complaints, revelations and general paranoia.
In days of old, they would have probably bored holes in his head to let the demons out.
“Okay,” Josh conceded.
“What do you want to do about it?”
“I don’t really know.
I thought I would check out Pinnacle Investments’ operations,” Bob offered.
“Before you poke your nose into things too far, I think I’ll pay Margaret Macey a visit.”
“Are you crazy?”
“No, not if we have something in common like some psycho trying to kill us.
Maybe she knows something we don’t.”
“What about the cops?”
“At the moment, I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.
I haven’t got anything to lose.”
“I don’t know about that.”
Josh glanced at his friend.
Bob looked like he was trying to pass a football-sized kidney stone.
Josh smiled at him.
“I don’t see what you have to fucking smile about,” Bob said nonplussed.
“Bob, I don’t say it often.
You’re a good man and a good friend.
And I do appreciate it.”
The big man’s cheeks reddened with embarrassment.