#freewritechallenge #mondayblogs January 9 (Part Trois)
Donna led them back across the street to the sheriff’s office. As she unlocked the door, she asked. “You don’t mind that I’m helping you out, do you Mr. Coffey?” She smiled as she held the door for him.
Meeting her eyes, he grinned. “Not at all, Deputy Holslaw.” He walked past her and headed for the long table. “I appreciate it very much. I hope I can find a way to repay you.” He sat down and picked up the pen.
“I wouldn’t be a bit surprised that something will turn up. Now, I have to ask. Do you have any kind of record or anything else that would turn up in an background check?”
He smiled. “No. Not even traffic tickets. Or parking, for that matter. I am adopted, so you may turn up more than I’ve ever been aware of.” His smiled dimmed. “My folks are having a hard time right now. That’s why I haven’t contacted them for help. I just told them how I lost my job and was looking for another.” He frowned.
“When was the last time you contacted them?”
“It’s been several weeks.” He gestured. “I haven’t been around anyone to borrow a phone or even scrounge up change for a postcard.”
Donna pulled out her phone. “Here. I’ve got unlimited time, so talk as long as you want.” She pulled a card out of her pocket. “If they want to write, you can use this address. We’ll get you rested up and fed, maybe find something for you to do. You never know how things might turn out.” She smiled and walked over to a door with a glass panel. It had ‘Sheriff’ in black and gold, hand painted on the glass. “I’m going to roust the sheriff from his day off and get things started.” She looked at the clock. “About all we can do today is get things organized to start in the morning. After I get the ball rolling we can swing by the bunkhouse and get it set up.”
She unlocked the door and went inside. Flipping the light on, Donna closed the door, crossed to the chair behind the desk and sat down. She tucked the phone between her shoulder and ear, then dialed. “Shérif, comment va la pêche? Uh hunh? I see. Told you it was too early. It will be another few weeks before they’re ready to start biting.
“No, as a matter of fact things aren’t quiet. Right now, I need your approval to get some things started. No, not that serious. Someone found a briefcase that contained a nice leather box marked Molenaar Jewelers. It was found under a bush out where 6 meets 99, more than half buried in the dirt. Said it looked like the growing bush had pushed it up. Brought it in unopened.” She listened. “Mmm, yes that’s right. That’s what I figured. No. I don’t think it would be worth it to bring in a cadaver dog.” She paused and shook her head. “No. It would take too long to get permission from the state highway department then the state police would want in on it. It would turn into a total cluster. We just need to go out there and dig.” She paused. “We can figure out the most likely placement of a body—if there is a body—and dig according to hunches. If we find something, we treat it like a crime scene. No one around here turned up missing or suddenly left town. If it was a falling out of partners, they would have taken the loot.”
She snapped her fingers. “Damn. I haven’t checked inside the case yet. Maybe it was buried after they put the jewelry in something else. Of course I was waiting for you.” She laughed. “Because if I opened all by myself I might be tempted to run off with the handsome fella that brought the case in. Well, you just take your time. It’s all tucked away under lock and key where it will keep until morning.” She shook her head. “I’ll find some people who’ll help with digging and take care of the landscaping out there at the junction.” She listened. “Well, there are a few strange things. The one I will tell you about is what the fellow first said to me. ‘Bonjour, tu est la joie de ma vivre, Je t’aime.’ And he doesn’t speak French.” She smiled. “Because of the utter shock on his face and he said he had no idea what he said or why.” She listened. “I’m putting him up out at La place de papi for the night. I’ll come right out and ask him, that’s how. Besides, Mabel took right to him. Okay. I’ll see you in the morning. Bye.”
She chuckled and said. “C’est la vie. L’amour n’attend personne.”
She picked up the phone and made a few more calls. She came out and locked the sheriff’s office. When she turned and found Franklin still on the phone, she busied herself with cleaning the coffee pot and other things around the office.
“Thank you. You’ve really helped me a lot today.”
She turned and smiled. “You’re welcome. Come on, the day’s not over yet.” She watched as he grabbed his backpack and followed her. She waved at the deputy pulling in next to her car. “That’s the evening shift. I asked him to come in early.” She waved as he got out of the car. “Hank, this is Franklin Coffee. I’m putting him up out at grandpa’s bunk house if you need me. It should be just another quiet evening.”
“Sure, Donna. I’ll let you know if a crime wave starts.”
On the way out to the farm at the edge of town, she asked. “How did you get the scar?”
“Playing shortstop at the company picnic softball game. Ball took a wild bounce and caught me on the jaw just right.”
Donna chuckled. “I had my nose broken playing first base. It was at a family reunion. A cousin thought she could knock me off base while I was catching the ball.” She glanced at him, then back to the road. “The shortstop threw to me as she came barreling in. When the dust cleared, my foot was still on the base, the ball in my glove. When she saw the blood dripping and my crooked nose, she threw up and passed out.”
“Is everyone that competitive?” He chuckled.
She signaled to turn left. “Oh yeah. The whole family loves baseball. We play softball until we get good enough then move onto baseball.” After a pickup with a load of hay bales went past she turned down a graveled lane. “Of course some don’t take to playing. But everyone loves watching.” She pulled past the large, two story farm house and parked in between the barn and bunk house. “We’ll turn the power on.” She gestured to the barn, then nodded at building with a long porch and several windows.
As they shut the car doors, Franklin looked around. “This is beautiful. Almost picture book perfect.”
Donna led the way to the barn. “Actually, that pretty much sums it up. When the town was founded before the war, they took ideas from movies and books.” She moved a loose board to the side and placed her hand on a dull silver square. There was a faint click. She let the board slip back into place. She turned and smiled at him. “Worried yet?”
“Not in the least. Whatever caused me to speak in an unknown language—French, wasn’t it?” He continued when she nodded. “Also gave me a feeling of trust.” He shrugged. “I’m guessing you mean World War II?”
“Yes.” She slid the large door to the side and beckoned him to follow her in. “With the growth of fascism in Europe, the family was formed. They converted their pooled assets into easy to carry and conceal items.” She opened a door next to an empty stall and flicked on a light. Stepping in, she opened a large metal panel and flicked two switches. Shutting the panel she came out and crossed the barn to another door. Inside were a number of water valves. She opened one of them. Closing the door, she led him out of the barn.
“After they got to America, they finally settled here.” She closed the sliding door. “I won’t lock this since you’re here. I’ll show you around the place later.” They continued toward the bunk house. “This area was still open to homesteading at the time. One of the terms of the Homestead Act was that it granted citizenship when all the requirements were met.” She paused when they stepped up onto the porch. “With the clouds of war gathering, little attention was paid to the family. They worked hard, created a town and farms. Most importantly, they paid their taxes. Come on, it shouldn’t be too bad inside. It’s sealed so that outside air is filtered before it enters.” She smiled at him as she opened the door. “A result of the fallout scares of the 50s. Before we realized that the human race wouldn’t survive a nuclear war. But it does make housekeeping easier.”
He looked around. “Good idea. Makes it almost like the self-cleaning houses we’re supposed to be living in.” He met her eyes. “Auburn had a theater that showed Newsreels along with old movies.”
She laughed. “That’s almost odd. We still have one that does that.” She led the way to one end of the open room. “In here is the washer.” She nodded across the hall. “The shower is in there, bathroom next to it.” She frowned. “Papi used to keep extra clothes around. Hang on while I look.” She went to a door at the end of the hall and opened it. She entered, then called to him. “Yeah, they’re in here with bedding and towels.” She came out. “Go on in and look around. There should be clothes to fit you. Go ahead and get cleaned up. You can toss in a load of clothes while I go up to the house and see what I can find for supper. We’ll hang them on line after we eat.”
She paused at the door and smiled at him. “Tu ne sais pas de quoi demain est fait.”
[Special thank you to my French coach/advisor/translator, Kira. I’ve run the phases through google translator for those who don’t speak French—like me, and they give you the idea of what they mean. Just not the feeling of when you declare un-dying love in French or the sarcasm of the last line.]