If you missed the first chapter, start here!
Sitting on a stone bench in Jezza’s garden, Brutus leashed by her side, Penelope decided that an extended stay was just as boring as the dogs made it out to be. Her 911 call had led to one patrol car, which had led to more cars, and then the coroner and a crime scene van. Throughout it all she had waited patiently where the first officer had asked her to sit, but she had started to believe they’d forgotten about her. She was trying to decide if texting Jake to speed up the process would be taking advantage of the relationship when she saw someone she recognized walk up to the house. She and Jake had gone out to dinner with the lieutenant and his wife just the week before.
“Brian!” Penelope dashed forward then had to stop and haul back on the leash to keep Brutus from barreling through a knot of people. “Hey, is there any way I can get out of here? I need to go give a cat some insulin.”
“You’re the one who found her?” Brian took a step back from the dog. “Let me grab someone to take a quick statement.” He waved his arm. “Dolan! I have a job for you.” He waited until a young man hustled forward. “Get an initial statement from Ms. Standing along with her contact details so she can leave.” He put an arm out to stop the man from heading into the house. “Outside. Talk to her outside. Assume the entire house is a crime scene.” Someone called his name and he turned, dismissing them both.
Penelope spelled her name and gave her phone number, but as she explained how she had found the body, Officer Dolan frowned.
“And how did you know the mayor’s wife?”
“Jezza hired me to walk her dog.” Penelope dug out a business card from her pocket and gave it to him. “That’s what I do for a living.”
“Was the mayor’s wife good to work for? Did you have any problems with her?”
He looked up from his notebook. “Yes?”
“Her name was Jezza. She didn’t get her identity from some man, you know.” Warming to her subject Penelope waved her arm to indicate the house. “She had… dreams. And… ambitions. And…” Penelope waved her arm again as she realized she actually knew almost nothing about the woman. “And she hated huge houses!” she added triumphantly.
The young man hitched up his weapons belt and leaned toward her. “Wonderful. Now can you tell me where you were today?”
After a brief pause he answered. “All day. Since you got up.”
“Fine. I got up about six-thirty.”
“And were you alone?”
“No, I was with my boyfriend.”
He flipped a page. “And this boyfriend’s name?”
Penelope raised her chin. “Jake.” She recited his phone number but deliberately didn’t give Jake’s last name. “And then I got to the Episcopalian church by seven.” Penelope went through her schedule on her phone, ending with showing up to walk Brutus.
There was a moment of silence as Officer Dolan finished writing. “So other than during church, nobody can verify where you were all day.”
“Not during church, either, if it comes to that. I take care of the reverend’s Dalmatian while he’s busy, so I wasn’t actually in the church.” She saw Brian walk by inside the house. “Brian, can I go now? Who’s going to be in charge of the dog until the mayor picks him up?”
Brian waved her away. “Talk to you later, Pen. Dolan, you’re in charge of the dog. Don’t let it inside the house.”
Penelope shoved the leash into the officer’s hand. “He’s a nice dog.”
“Wait.” He took a few steps toward the house. “Sir, can I talk to you first?”
Brutus made a break for the open door and dragged the unprepared Dolan behind him. As Penelope hurried away she was treated to the sounds of multiple people yelling about getting the dog out of their crime scene.
After Harold the cat finished scolding her for being late with his mid-day meal, insulin, and chin-scratching, Penelope went across the alley to pick up Heidi for her daily three mile run. She had just clipped on the leash when Rod Stewart sang “If you want my body and you think I’m sexy…”
“I leave you alone for less than an hour and I have my newest patrolman calling to confirm that I was with you in bed this morning.”
Penelope smiled as she locked the door and walked briskly along the sidewalk to warm up. “I hope you drew him a picture. At what point did he realize who he was talking to?”
“Well, he suddenly got real quiet when I was spelling my last name for him. I’m assuming that if you were feeling irritated enough to do that to him that you’re okay…”
Penelope picked up the pace to a slow jog, Heidi matching her speed. “I’m fine. It just sort of surprised me. She wasn’t a close friend or anything.” She grimaced. “I sort of accidentally cleaned up the crime scene before I found her, though.”
“Of course you did.”
Penelope’s phone beeped. “I’ve got to go. I’ll tell you about it over dinner. Love you.” She switched calls and sped up. “This is Penelope.”
“Mom, are you running from the cops or something?” Her son was just barely audible over a background of other excited voices.
“Nope, just running. How’s the new game testing going?” Her son’s company was trying to cash in on one of the periodic retro crazes with an updated version of Oregon Trail using Star Wars landmarks without actually using the Star Wars names to avoid licensing fees.
“I just got killed in a trash compactor so I’m taking a quick break. So I guess this means that you didn’t really kill the mayor’s wife then.”
Penelope frowned. “Seth, you know women aren’t defined by the men in their lives, right?”
Her son laughed. “Chill, Mom. I know. I just never met her so I don’t know her name. Jimmy called to tell me that he saw you talking to the police and that the mayor’s wife had been murdered. Forgive me. I promise I’ll send a donation to Planned Parenthood or something.” A shout and a chorus of wails came through the phone. “Mostly I was calling to make sure it wasn’t the mayor who died and that you didn’t need a lawyer.”
“I think I should be okay, but I appreciate the thought.”
“Okay, just checking.” Another yell pierced the background. “Oops, Richard just got digested by a moon worm. I need to get back to work. Talk to you soon.”
Penelope removed her earpiece as she ran. “My son gets paid good money to play video games,” she said to the dog trotting at her side. “What an odd world it is.”
***Comments, suggestions, plot twists, or even just a plot? Comment below!