Pulpit Love, a short story, part 6
The empty bottle of imported French vodka had rolled half way under the bed. On the writing desk, a carton of orange juice had been spilled, adding a gooey, sticky coating to the table top. Following their natural attraction to sugar, a colony of ants had invaded the spot and an inch wide column could be seen going front and back from the window to the table in an orderly manner, just like a busy highway seen from the sky. Clothing and underclothing was scattered all over the room and signs of heavy partying could be seen all over the place. An ashtray on one of the nightstands was overfilled with butts both from cigarettes and joints. Hattie Randolph snorted loudly and she woke herself up. She looked around in a daze, her blank stare uncapable of establishing where she was. Her head was pounding and her heart seemed to be beating faster than usual. Talk about a massive headache ! As she was slowly regaining more of her consciousness, she sat on the edge of the bed. But the pounding in her head increased. She had been drunk several times before, but this was the worst time ever, she thought. She looked around the room again, unable to remember where she was and how she got there. Then, she spotted the somewhat human shape completely covered under the bedspread, on the other queen size bed. All she could see was a strand of blond hair and she knew her sister Marigold was there. She tried to get out of bed but the whole room started turning in front of her, so she laid back on the bed, hoping this horrible feeling would go away fast. She could sense something out of the ordinary had taken place, but at this point in time, she had no remembrance of anything. She closed her eyes, exhausted from thinking and went back to sleep almost immediately.
Stephen Capella walked back to the gate from the Randolph residence. The guard was talking to one of the residents sitting in his car with the engine running. He was probably telling the tale about this ruthless cop he had to deal with earlier. The detective unlocked his car and sat at the wheel. As he was about to close his door, he could overhear the end of the conversation : "...holes who think they can bully us as they please..." Capella smiled as he started the engine and slowly backed up his cruiser, under intense hateful scrutiny from both spectators. He headed downtown. Now, he had some solid evidence that could possibly link Pastor Hoffner to Marigold and Hattie Randolph. If the hair picked up in the Randolph residence matched the one lifted at Hoffner's, they could possibly have a judge issue a statewide arrest warrant for the rogue minister. But then again, there was a good possibility that the man had left Florida already. Well, Capella thought, we'll cross that bridge when we get there. As he entered the parking lot of the police headquarters, a little red Nissan with the whole front end badly smashed was being loaded onto a flatbed truck...
Cynthia Randolph made herself a cup of Earl Grey tea with a dash of cream, just the way she liked it. Then she sat in her favorite chair in the living room , put on some soothing classical music. Yes, cheerful Rossini would be a good choice for today, she said to herself. And slowly, her mind went wandering. She thought about Capella, who was really trying his best to discover what happened to her daughters. As strange as the man appeared to be sometimes, there was some sort of universal appeal emanating from him. He has a calming effect on me, Cynthia forced herself to admit. He spoke sharply most of the time, on the verge of bad manners, actually. But at times, he could show compassion and understanding like very few other people she knew. The man certainly needs some polishing, she thought, but in the end, she was satisfied that he was the one in charge of the investigation. She was reluctant to accept that she trusted him. But she was no fool either, she knew he was withholding some facts from her. A woman can tell these things. And she also knew those facts couldn't possibly be positive. As she was thinking that, worries overcame her again...
- "Sir, you're not allowed to park here for more than two hours !". The security guard said to Father Hoffner after knocking loudly on the driver's side window. Hoffner rolled it down and said ;
- "O.K., sorry, I'm moving out right away". He was upset for having allowed himself to fall asleep right here on the parking lot of the rest area by the side of Interstate 10. A gigantic neon sign wished visitors a warm welcome to the Lone Star State. Hoffner had now reached the Texas border and even though he was still long ways from destination, he was making progress. He engaged the shifter in the "drive" position and headed back to the highway. No need to draw unnecessary attention to one self, he thought. As the van gained momentum, he started reflecting on the eventful last twenty four hours, and a sarcastic, chilling smile lit up his face.
Esther Borrowitz had walked back to the police building after she had received half a dozen citations ranging from running a stop sign to reckless driving. Her eyes were red from uncontrollable crying, something she wasn't used to. She was now sitting, again, in front of Detective Capella's desk, under the amused scrutiny of the other detectives trying really hard to pretend she wasn't there. None of them had said a word to her, but they didn't think less. When Stephen walked in, carrying a plastic shopping bag containing the crucial evidence collected at Ms. Randolph's house, he noticed her :
- " Oh, no ! Not you again ! What do you want this time ?
- "I got into a car accident ! The detective put two and two together as he suddenly realized the wrecked car on the flatbed was hers.
- "What happened ? You hit a moose or something ? She shook her shoulders, dismissing his sarcastic comment.
- "No, I hit a Police car !" she reluctantly admitted. The group of male detectives couldn't hold it anymore and several of them let out a laugh to loud to be missed. Esther ignored the insult.
- "Remind me how I am getting involved in this, because it totally escapes me" Stephen added with a somewhat sarcastic tone.
- "I thought maybe you would give me a ride to my parents house, they're both still at work right now, but i'm pretty sure they'll let me borrow one of their cars".
- "I'm still at work myself, you know, in case you haven't noticed. I have to get to the lab ASAP and when I come back, we'll see what can be done in the personal transportation department. So, wait for me here, these guys will entertain you, I'm sure !"
- "Can I come with you ?" She had immediately sensed Capella was up to something important and urgent, and her professional instinct had picked up on it. She could feel something significant was developing right in front of her eyes.
- "Absolutely not !" The tone was without appeal. "You stay right here, I won't be but a few minutes".
- "Anything you'd care to confide to me exclusively off the record"?
- "You don't give up, do you ? I'll tell you what : there's absolutely nothing I want to tell you OFF the record. But there is something I want to tell you ON the record : stay the hell away from me from now on. You're a liar, a cheat, and your journalistic skills are highly questionable by my standards. You are a very attractive woman, Esther, and that should help you a lot in many instances. However, you use your atractiveness to deceive people. You know the old saying , f... me once, shame on you, f... me twice, shame on me ! So, you wait here as I said. When I'm done, I will give you a ride to your parents place. And after that, I sincerely wish we never bump into each other again...literally". He slowly turned around and headed for the door.
To be continued...
Copyright 2012 by Austinhealy, his heirs and assigns.
Other short stories from Austinhealy :
- The English woman across the street, a short story, ...
More adventures for Antoine, Belinda and Reglisse the dog.
- The Power of Two, a short story inspired by life
One person alone can change a lot of things. But when two men who don't even know each other and live thousands of miles apart team up, they can pull a miracle.