#freewritechallenge #mondayblogs January 9 (Part Deux)
“What the hell?” She muttered. When nothing came charging out, she motioned for him to stay behind her and moved forward. She frowned when the chittering stopped as they reached the opening. Stepping to the side she pointed her pistol into the opening.
Franklin watched her eyes grew wide and she slowly lowered her pistol. She blinked, shook her head and glanced at her pistol. She put it back in her holster. She grinned at him and started laughing as she beckoned him over.
“You’re not going to believe this.” She laughed.
Intrigued, he stepped beside her. “Hmm? Someone is building an eight foot tall beaver?”
“It’s the old school mascot.” She chuckled. “The sheriff wore it when he was in high school. He was mascot during basketball season, his brother was mascot during football season.” She met his eyes. “They were fraternal twins; the sheriff played football, his brother was tall enough to play basketball. It happened years before I was in school, all I saw was photos.”
“Is the sheriff into robotics?”
“His teenage son is. Won a state championship last year.” She looked around the exposed area and nodded. “I’ll ask grandpa, but this looks like a storage room. I bet they got a kick out of hiding it like this.” She shook her head. “I bet this is a surprise for the sheriff’s fiftieth birthday. It’s a month away. His mother may be in on it. She’s the one that talked them into being team mascots for each other. Come on. Let’s close this back up and go get lunch.”
She was still chuckling as they drove back to the sheriff’s office and parked. Grabbing the file, she said. “Come on. The diner is across the street. Don’t worry about your clothes, farmers and mechanics come in all the time.” She smiled as he stepped ahead and held the door for her. “Thanks. Hey Mabel.” She called to the woman pouring coffee at the counter.
“Hey, Donna. Be right with you.”
Donna led the way to a table near the window. “This way Mrs. Crenshaw can keep an eye on us.”
“Here you go.” Mabel handed them menus. “You want coffee, hon?”
“Thank you, Mabel.”
“I’ll be right back to take your orders.” She bustled off, filling several cups along the way.
“It’s okay. Order whatever you want.” Donna opened two creamers and poured them in her coffee. “We’ll take a look at this file. Later, if you like, I can take you out to grandpa’s place. He’s got a bunk house that hasn’t been used in a while, but is still solid. He leases the farm land out. He and grandma are on a cruise right now but I know he won’t mind.”
He glanced at her. “Thank you. It would be nice to get a good night’s sleep. You’ll let people know so that don’t think I’m breaking in?”
She smiled. “I will. But by the time we’re done with lunch, it’ll be all over town.” She nodded to a table with four farmers in caps and overalls. “I’ll introduce you to Bill. He’s got the place next door and keeps an eye on the house. Steve, sitting next to him in the John Deere cap, is the one that farms the place.”
They gave their orders to Mabel.
Donna opened the file and started reading. “Pretty basic.” She frowned as she read the bottom of the third page. She opened the folder and pulled out a manila envelope. Glancing at him, she said. “There’s a sketch of a suspicious person that was hanging around a few days before the burglary. The sheriff,” she looked at him. “The same one as now, Wayne Bradbury, interviewed several people who saw the man. Even made a note that he remembered seeing him, too. However, everyone agreed that the ‘suspicious man’ had caught a ride out of town with Earl as he went to pick up a car that broke down on the freeway twenty miles away. Earl confirmed that he dropped him off at the freeway and watched as he caught a ride on a truck heading east.” She looked up as Mabel set their plates down.
“Thank you,” Franklin said.
“You’re welcome, hon.” Mabel smiled at him and winked at Donna.
Donna set the envelope down and picked up her club sandwich. She figured that he wouldn’t start until she started. She also needed to think about what she’d read in the report. $250,000 worth of gems plus two sets of antique jewelry worth in excess of $100,000 estimated value. They were due to be couriered to New York for appraisal. The sheriff surmised that was a connection to whoever broke into the safe. It was turned over to the insurance investigators. The sheriff had noted updates every month for the first year, then twice the next year. At the end of two years, no leads had been found and the insurance company paid the Molenaar sisters. They held clearance sales, then closed up and moved to Arizona.
“Would like a piece of pie, hon? Donna?”
Donna looked up. “Sure. Any blackberry left?”
“I’d take piece of apple.”
“Sure thing. Ice cream? I thought so.” Mabel filled their coffee cups then cleared the empty plates.
“Okay, let’s take a look at this sketch.” Donna bent the prongs up and opened the envelope. She pulled several sheets halfway out, frowned and stopped. She stared at the drawing.
“What’s wrong?” He asked.
She looked at him, then at the picture. “You’re about twenty-five or so?”
“Twenty-seven. Born in 1990, September 23.”
“And the scar on your chin?”
“This?” he touched the faint, quarter inch crooked line near his jawline. “Three years ago at the company picnic.”
“Here you go, hon. Donna. Hey, that’s a nice drawing. But she always does good work.”
“Who does good work?” Donna asked.
Mabel laughed. “Look at the signature, deputy.” She walked to take care of the register.
Frowning, Donna pulled the picture out. She sighed, looked at him and turned the sheet around. “Mrs. Crenshaw. Mabel’s right, I should have recognized it. She has butterfly drawings for sale in her shop.”
Franklin looked at the picture of himself. He glanced at the signature. “Dated September 23, 2006.” He smiled faintly as he met her eyes. “The beginning of my senior year in high school. I had a birthday party. I’m sure my mom has pictures.”
Donna chuckled and shook her head. “You didn’t look like that ten years ago. With the scar you received three years ago. Did you get stitches?” After he nodded, she continued. “There would be medical records to back that up. Nor would I consider a close male relative.” She took a bite of pie.
She swallowed. “That is you.” She glanced around at the table of farmers as they stood up. She beckoned Bill over. “Bill, this is Franklin Coffey. I’m going to take him over to grandpa’s place later so he can stay in the bunk house.”
“Glad to meet you, Mr. Coffey.” He winked at Donna as he shook hands. “I’ll make sure everyone hears about it.” He smiled as he glanced out the window. “Between me and Mrs. Crenshaw, word will get around.” He leaned toward Donna. “Thanks for getting me out of paying for coffee.”
She laughed as he went out the door. “Speak of the devil.” She waved. “Mrs. Crenshaw, would you like to join us?”
“I would love to, dear. Oh, just stay sitting.” She smiled at him as she sat down. “Now, I figured out why I thought he looked …” she hesitated as she saw the drawing. She stared at it a moment, then at Franklin. “Good grief. That is strange. How could I have drawn that ten years ago to look exactly like you today?” She looked at Donna. “That’s the file about the jewel robbery, isn’t it?”
“Yes. He had just turned seventeen and started his senior year in high school.” She looked at him with a raised eyebrow.
“Upstate New York, Auburn.”
Mrs. Crenshaw shook her head. “Better than a thousand miles away. And I had already been here ten years.” She looked at Donna. “Why do you have this file out?”
“He brought in a silver briefcase. When I opened it there was a nice looking box with Molenaar Jewelers printed on it. He found it under a bush out where 6 comes off of 99.”
“That’s three miles out!” Mrs. Crenshaw exclaimed. “No wonder you looked worn out.”
Franklin cleared his throat. “Not the furthest I walked today.” He looked at Donna. “I didn’t get a chance to tell you. It was partially buried under the bush. More than half was buried to be precise. Now I’m wondering …” he hesitated.
Donna and Mrs. Crenshaw nodded. “If anything else is buried there.” Donna sighed. “The junction got landscaped that summer.” She looked at Mrs. Crenshaw, who nodded. “It would have been easy to dig up.”
“You finish your pie, dear.” Mrs. Crenshaw patted her hand. She smiled up at Mabel as she set a piece of blackberry pie in front of her. “Thank you, Mabel. How’s your mom doing?”
Mabel laughed. “Looking forward to school getting out. She’s already got their tickets and the suitcases are packed. She’s bound and determined to find that butterfly with your name on it.”
Mrs. Crenshaw shook her head. “I’m sure the nude beaches have nothing to do with it, right?” They both laughed.
********To Be Continued*******
[Ever have a story that takes forever to get where it’s going? And have to keep shoveling snow so that you aren’t buried or the roof doesn’t collapse?]