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February 19, 2024

Night Time 16

By Lydia Manx

"Okay, so how is the FBI coming with all the new cases?" Cinda had got a cup of coffee and was halfway through her first cup. I had lost count of what number I was up to. I was barely feeling awake and probably had consumed a pot of coffee already.

"Our office is still looking into some new information on Connie Shaw we obtained last night and sorry nothing more on your mom's case, Lynn. Officially we aren't involved. And Cinda, your mom is still not able to give good descriptions and that is a local case, after all." That sounded suspiciously like the FBI was now distancing themselves from my mom's murder. I wonder who was involved in that case. I tried to keep my face pleasant as I thought nasty angry thoughts. There was no reason that the FBI would be involved in Margie's rape other than peripherally because Margie had been asked about me by her assailants but if they were hands off my mom's case ...then?

Cinda looked up, "But wait a minute, you told the local officers just the other night that you were in charge." Ever the bulldog she wasn't letting that one slip by her. I waited to hear the reply.

"Well, not officially, we found that most of the evidence that is being found in the Shaw case is pointing away from any involvement or crossover between Mrs. McKay and Connie Shaw," here she had the grace to look somewhat ashamed of her verbal dodging but it still got me no closer to finding any answers. It didn't shock me but it did bother me. Cinda was getting ever more indignant by the minute.

"So you guys are just pulling out your help and letting her mom's murder go unsolved?" Cinda demanded.

"Well, no, we aren't leaving just yet but we do think there is no reason your local police can't handle this situation. Like I said we will offer them any assistance we can. After all we did put you both up in the Inn." She continued to back pedal. If she thought that would give Cinda a warm fuzzy feeling she was pretty naive.

"Wait a second, you guys kicked out the locals when you took over the other night. Now you are saying that you are just giving back all that stuff you bagged up and letting Bobby and Gary find the murderers and the two men that attacked my mom last night?" Cinda was starting to let Misty peak out I was more than a little disturbed to notice.

Erika tried to keep calm as she said, "That case has nothing to do with the Shaw murder. There is no link." Her words were clipped and she sucked down half a cigarette once she finished talking.

Cinda's breakfast had arrived, the usual for her of three fried eggs and four pieces of toast. She dipped her egg into the yolk and thought about what Erika had told her. Something spun inside that head and she simply nodded. Quickly she ate her breakfast. The diner was full to capacity now and Louella dropped off all of our checks while refilling cups and pulling off the old plates.

"Well, Miss Special Agent, then what exactly are you here bothering Lynn for? You just said that you aren't helping so why bug her?" I thought Cinda had a good point. I sipped at my umpteenth cup of coffee and let Erika field the question.

"Cinda, there are things we at the FBI do that has to be recorded just so and Lynn may remember something for me that the men may not be able to get." Erika was intense in her passions about her job but Cinda and I exchanged a glance at Erika's attempt to develop some sort of bond with me. I didn't find Erika particularly warm or friendly much less useful. Keeping my mouth shut I let Cinda speak for me. A new glint in her eye warned me it wasn't Cinda answering.

Misty came out swinging, "Agent Erika, whatever can you be saying? You said that you are not actively working on Mrs. McKay's murder by you want to still ask Lynn questions? And obviously my mom's attack is being handled by locals because you don't think there is a link? Even though my mom said she was asked questions about Lynn and her whereabouts by the men? Are you serious?" The questions were part Cinda in the speed of speech and the rapidness of words but the questions had a bit of a bite to them.

Erika took a minute to drink more of her coffee and light up another cigarette.

"Well, Cinda, you don't know everything now do you?" Her tone was less than gracious and entirely inappropriate for a government official.

Unfortunately for Erika it wasn't Cinda answering but the more vicious Misty with her ties to the darkness.

"Oh, Erika, I can call you Erika?" She waited for a reply.

Erika bit out, "Sure, why not." A puzzled look washed over her face before she took a deep drag off her newest cigarette. For pretty much a nonsmoker a few nights back she was certainly keeping up with me pretty easily.

"Well, maybe because you were actually born Ellen?" Misty was smiling in a very nasty way.

The agent paled and gasped out, "How the hell do you know that?"

"My dear Ellen, not everyone forgets what they read, even if it was a while ago. It took me a few days to recall your former fifteen minutes of fame but it finally came to me very late last night." Misty was positively glowing with excitement at whatever she was ready to impart. I doubted seriously that Cinda or Misty ever read what secret Erika-Ellen had but Misty's little otherly connection was responsible for what was going to be told. Erika looked ghastly and held up a hand to her face covering her lips while her eyes turned to me huge and shocked. I guess whatever it was she had to share was not going to be pretty.

"No, let me tell Lynn." She was green around the gills and was starting to shake slightly. Misty looked a bit put off that she didn't get to spoil the surprise but nodded her acceptance. I could see nothing of Cinda in her eyes. Misty was making sure Erika told the whole story. She was ready to add to the tale if Erika wandered off the main track. Misty sat back and waved Louella over before Erika started.

"Louella, I am famished. Can you see if there is any more of that delicious cake back there? And I will need a glass of milk, please. Anyone else need something more? Lynn, that little bit of toast couldn't have filled you. How about some fries or a salad?" Misty had paid attention to all the little things both Cinda and I had in the diner. She wasn't acting differently than Cinda would have but I knew it was Misty. I shuddered inside and replied, "No, thanks. Just a glass of water I guess."

Erika waved to her coffee for a refill from the carafe Louella had in her hand then said, "I'll have some of the cake. Thanks."

Wow, she thanked the waitress she had to be really stressed. Louella hustled to the back and put in the order for the desserts for them after snatching up the bills to recalculate the totals due. She didn't want us lingering too long but knew better than pushing at this point. There was something about how we were leaning in towards each other that spelled ugly news and she wasn't going to make us give up the table yet.

"Cinda is right. My name was Ellen. Ellen Thomas. As you see I wasn't overly concerned with changing my name by much. I haven't heard that name in ten or more years. Anyone who called me by that is long buried and pretty much forgotten by everyone." She smoked down to the filter and lit another off the butt. Neither Cinda nor I said a word. This was obviously painful. That Misty still gloated at the knowledge of what was to come made me ill. Misty didn't seem to have anyone's best interest at heart. If she even had a heart, I wasn't willing to even speculate about that.

She puffed on her cigarette and began slowly, "I was twenty when my life changed. Like you, Lynn, I found my parents dead. Not just one but both. And the police thought I had killed them until they ran all their tests."

She shook softly as she continued, "They both had been slain with a knife and bled out. I was accused of killing them until they could verify my story. My story, hell, I was asleep. Sound familiar?"

I paled and tried to not think anything but to just listen to her tale. I was determined to not let it bother me. Somehow I didn't think that was going to be possible but I figured it never hurt to be positive. I had been known to be wrong more than a bit lately and was hoping against hope this was going to be one of those 'it's not so bad' stories. Yeah, right.

I didn't bother acknowledging the similarities for fear of how many more were heading my way. Erika gave up waiting for my confirmation and inhaled slowly. She watched the tip of her cigarette then said, "You know I had stopped smoking afterwards and now this," she waved her hand at me like I was the cause of her habit, "yeah, this whatever it is, well brings it all back with a vengeance."

She sighed and said, "So my folks were killed in a small town down South. The town wasn't much larger than yours but had a more archaic police chief. He figured the girl left had to be the one who killed the parents. There was no evidence pointing in my direction but that didn't stop him from saying I had done it. He didn't bother to look for anyone else he was too busy trying to pin it on me. I had blood stains on me because I had found them slain in the dining room. I tried to turn my dad over and his hand fell on my shirt leaving a large smeared print. That was conclusive evidence to him that my dad must have tried to push me away when I supposedly slit his throat."

She shuddered. Louella picked that moment to bring the milk and desserts. We thanked her and she left after dropping off the new checks. We ignored the less than subtle hint and let Erika continue after she took a few bites out of her cake. Louella took pity on Erika and capped off her coffee on her next pass by our table. I contended myself with the chilled tumbler of ice water she had dropped off. I was very thirsty and more than a little exhausted hearing Erika's story.

She resumed, "Never mind that there was no major blood on me or around my parents. Like your mom it seemed like they died where they were but there wasn't enough blood loss. The police never figured out where all the blood went. The police chief swore I had drained them and then changed and somehow the handprint happened then. Nothing logical but he was positive that was what happened. He tore my home apart trying to prove I was guilty. I was busy trying to keep my sanity."

Misty growled a bit and said, "Tell her the rest. Stop sugar coating it."

Erika paled and tried to scrape some more cake onto a fork. She had been automatically eating while talking. The plate was empty and the tines of the fork made a screech as they ran over the white surface. My fillings hurt at the metallic sound and my head throbbed with the impending information. Misty was nearly glowing in anticipation of what Erika was going to impart.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2005-11-28
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