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Pulpit Love, a short story, Part 8

Updated on November 10, 2012
At the cafe
At the cafe | Source

Susan Hacquett was gathering her things, getting herself ready to go home. She couldn't wait to leave her front desk at the church today. She had a really bad day, and all the time she had expected to be called in Father Gibson's office to receive a very personal kind of sermon, but so far it hadn't happened. Then she rightfully thought they probably had bigger fish to fry on a day like this. She put on her light jacquet and was about to grab her purse when someone walked into the lobby.

- "Hi ! I'm looking for Ms. Hacquett".

- "That would be me. How can I help you ?" She disliked this last minute change of plans immensely.

- "Well, it seems like you're just about to leave, so maybe I should come back tomorrow or possibly talk to somebody else. Hi, I'm Esther Borrowitz and Detective Capella sent me. He recommended that I talk to you over anyone else. ". Curiosity, they say, killed the cat ! It could have killed Susan Hacquett too. She couldn't help but want to know what was going on :

- "No, no, I can stay for a few more minutes". The fish was hooked ! Thought Esther

- "Well, listen, what don't we go somewhere for a nice cup of coffee ? My treat ?"

- "Oh, that would be lovely. Yes, I like this idea very much".

- "We can have some good girl's talk" Esther said with a smile. And the two women exited the building walking side by side, just like two old friends would do...

Cynthia Randolph felt the bite of loneliness again. She didn't have the energy to cook dinner, so she decided to go out instead. Anywhere not to be completely alone ! She thought about going to "Le Petit Paris", a French restaurant with its own separate bar near Central Beach. They always played good music there, she remembered. Mostly French songs from a bygone era, 1940s, 50s and such. It's there that she had learned from the owner a while back that Frank Sinatra's great hit "My way" actually started life as a French song. It was written by Claude Francois, a French singer who also recorded it in French language. Around the time of its release, Paul Anka, the american singer was touring France in search of some good original songs. He heard Claude Francois's tune and decided to purchase the rights to it. Back to America, he wrote the English lyrics and peddled the song to Old Blue Eyes Sinatra who liked it enough, and the rest is history. Yes, Cynthia would have dinner at "Le Petit Paris" tonight. She quickly changed into the simplest little black dress she owned and selected a pair of flat ballerina type black shoes. Minimal make-up, no jewelry. She rolled her long blonde hair into a sophisticated French twist, She was beautiful, in a somber and sad kind of way maybe, but still beautiful.

Capella looked at the mural clock of the detective's bureau : 6.30 PM. He decided to call it a day. After all, he had been in since 6.00 AM so he thought he deserved a little break. Before leaving, he made a last phone call to the lab. He received confirmation that the hair samples he had dropped earlier were a match and probably came from the same person, which he had suspected all along. A dark mood came over him. There was no longer the shadow of a doubt that at least one of the missing twin sisters had been at some point inside Hoffner's house. Considering the fact that Hoffner was now missing himself was cause for serious concern. Capella had no idea where this case was leading him, but this revealing new fact couldn't possibly pass for good news. He immediately called Ms. Randolph at home but got no answer. He left a message, asking her to call him back as soon as possible, even very late. Now was a good time to go home, he thought, so he left the building and walked slowly towards the parking lot. He reached his personal car, a 1970 MGB, looking at the left front fender that had been replaced some three months earlier. The new fender was still in grey primer finish, as opposed to the bright red rest of the car. "I need to get that thing painted" he told himself, but there was never enough time. Same with the interior. He had purchased a new upholstery kit to redo the seats months before, but the box was still sitting in the trunk of the car, along with a brand new convertible top. A year back, he had campaigned with the Police chief not to let people from the force take service cars home anymore, unless they were on call. The department was facing one budget cut after another and there were rumors that some personel could be let go. So Capella thought nobody should commute on taxpayer's money anymore. Needless to say, he didn't make a lot of friends with this one. Like he cared ! He unlocked the door of the MG, sat on a seat showing its foam guts and started the engine. At least, the old thing purred like a cat !

MGB | Source

As he would admit it freely, the owner of the Doghouse Cafe had named his establishment as a tribute to the relationship between his wife and himself. He also made no secret that over the course of his thirty something years of marriage, he had spent more nights sleeping on the couch than in the conjugal bed. Being the good nature that he was, that didn't seem to bother him so much. Esther Borrowitz and Susan Hacquett were sitting in a comfortable corner booth of the cafe,where nobody could eavesdrop on their private chat. They had become fast friends and Susan was telling Esther all about her day, the unusual things that happened and before you know it, the young journalist had enought juicy material to write a two thousand words piece, and probably make the first page too. What's the expression ? The right place at the right time. And it had just happened to her ! Capella was right, but then again he always was, Esther thought. Susan had proved to be the treasure trove of exclusive information she was promised. And boy, did she know stuff ! The two women had left the church and Esther had offered to drive. She would, of course, bring Susan back to her car afterwards. Some two hours later, the two women hugged on the parking lot by Susan's car, promising to get together again soon and exchanging phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Esther finally drove away and Susan unlocked the door of her blue Honda Element. She installed herself comfortably behind the wheel then locked the doors again, you're never too careful ! As she engaged the shifter in the "drive" position, she looked around the now deserted parking lot. A violent chilling jolt went down her spine. The little Mini Cooper was gone !

The black and white checkered taxicab had dropped Marigold and Hattie Randolph at the Paradise Pines Church of God. The driver waited for the girls to get inside their little car and for them to drive away before leaving. Hattie was driving and she headed home. When she got to the gate of the Windy Meadows subdivision, old George, the security guard was in a flirtatious mood and tried to make conversation, while keeping an eye on the girl's legs. But they were not receptive to his crude jokes tonight, so he quickly opened the gate for them. Hattie turned into their house driveway, while Marigold pressed the clicker opening the garage door. The tiny car was swallowed by the darkness of the garage and the powered door came down, just like the curtains at the theater after the end of a dramatic play.

Cynthia Randolph had called her home line just before entering "Le Petit Paris", vibrant with activity at this hour of the night. She got the message from Detective Capella and called him back immediately on his cell phone as he had requested. When she spoke to him, he told her he was on his way home but would turn around and come to meet her right there at "Le Petit Paris". When he did a few minutes later, they both sat at the bar where a rather rowdy crowd was celebarating the end of the day. Cynthia ordered a spicy Bloody Mary and Capella asked for a club soda. They did some very small talk for a couple of minutes, and as the detective was just about to share the news regarding the hair and its implication, Stephen's phone rang. "please excuse me for a minute" he said to Cynthia before talking. It was Susan Hacquett calling to let him know that the Mini Cooper was no longer parked at the church.

- "Thank you, Ms. Hacquett, I certainly appreciate your help". He hung up and turned to Cynthia, while throwing a twenty dollars bill on the counter ;

" We need to go to your house right now. Your daughter's car is no longer at the church". Too much information, too fast for Cynthia to foresee all the possible implications of that new fact, and after a whole day on the edge of a nervous breakdown, she broke down in tears. She couldn't tell if she was crying out of joy of fear. Capella wrapped his arm around her shoulders as they walked out of the restaurant.

- "Let's go, Mam, I'll drive if you give me your keys. George, recognised Capella immediately at the wheel of Ms. Randolph's white Saab and lifted up the gate without delay this time. Passing right by him, Capella gave him a sarcastic smile and a nonchalant military salute. "A..hole" George thought heinously. "Damn, I hate cops !" Stephen parked the Saab in Cynthia's driveway, got out of the car and walked around it to get her door. She came out elegantly, like everything she ever did. He offered his hand to help her out of the vehicle and she took it with a forced sad looking smile. Capella was mesmerized by the beauty of this woman. He quickly brushed that thought aside. Then, he mentally prayed to a God he had stopped believing in when his wife and children were killed. But he prayed this one time anyway. He prayed for being wrong all along about what he thought happened to Cynthia's twin daughters. As she was unlocking the front door of her house, he prayed that she would never have to go through the living hell he had experienced six years before when the family he loved so dearly had been taken away from him. He prayed that she would never have, like he does, to go every Sunday deposit fresh flowers on the graves of his own flesh and blood. He prayed that she, unlike him, would never talk to tombstones that never talked back...

To be continued...

Copyright 21012 by Austinhealy, his heirs and assigns.


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    • austinhealy profile image

      Bernard J. Toulgoat 5 years ago from Treasure Coast, Florida

      Thank you Becky for your kind words. Susan is basically a good person, she's just not overly bright and she talks too much. As you know now she lightens up before the end of the story!

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Wonderful story, I think we are getting close to the end. It surprised me that Susan Hacquett called the Detective to let him know the car was gone. I figured she would want nothing more to do with this day.