A closer look in the light of my kitchen confirmed it. We made two important phone calls, the second to Sheriff Biggs. He agreed to meet us at the jailhouse.
. . .
Ronna sent me in with the goods. She told me it would be better if I showed the Sheriff the evidence we found at the quarry. More convincing, she said.
Sheriff Biggs was standing over by the cell when I came inside. It was pretty dark but I could tell from the size of the hulking shadow it was him. He called me over to him, “IllaMae, what is it y’ all were in such an all-fire hurry to show me that I had to come out in the middle of the night? Ain’t it enough you are out on bail?”
“Can we turn the lights on in here, Sheriff? It’s kind of creepy in the dark.”
“Jes’ gimme the paper you said you have and let’s get out of here.” He moved toward me with his hand outstretched, palm up.
“Um, sure.” I handed him the copy that we had made of the quarry paper, copied right down to the blood stains. My eyes were adjusting to the dark now and I could see him straining to make it out.
“What is this? What does it say?” he growled at me.
“It’s a note from Jimmy Ray. To your wife. I think you say it once before, right?”
“What are you getting’ at, girl?” the growl changed into a bark.
“I also think that if you test it, you might find that spot is Jimmy Ray’s blood. The last blood he ever shed, I would just be willing to bet.” I started backing away as I said this.
The Sheriff grabbed my wrist and held it like a pair of cuffs. His eyes looked bright, too bright, like a wild animal’s in the darkest part of the forest. “Does anybody else know about this? That shyster, Ronna? Hm? Did she see this?”
Like I was on cue, I said, “No. I found it myself. Didn’t show anybody. Yet.” I couldn’t believe I was brave enough to put in that last word.
“And you are not going to have a chance to either, Illa. Let’s see…you came to try to bribe me tonight. Give me money to throw away any evidence I had that you killed Jimmy Ray. I turned you down flat. Does that sound like a good story so far, Illa?” His voice sounded like he was making it up as he went along, practicing what he was going to tell whoever found me dead.
“That doesn’t make any sense, Sheriff. I didn’t do it. You did.” I could hear the wet armpits in my voice. Scared to death, I was.
“Of course I did, but this paper here is the only connection. And you are the only one who knows about this paper. So anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah…After I turned you down, you went over to this holster here and grabbed my gun out like this.” He reached for his gun behind the desk, the holster hanging on a hook there. “Then when I tried to take it away from you…” as he pointed the gun right at me.
The lights went on, there was an arm reaching out, pulling me down, another arm grabbing the Sheriff from behind. I heard a click, but no bang. I guess that second call we made to the Feds had worked. They got there before the Sheriff and emptied the gun cartridge. And now they had Sheriff Biggs face down on the jail cell floor, putting those godawful handcuffs on him instead of me.
“Thanks for all your help, Ronna and IllaMae. We have been watching this guy for a long time, but now you got him to confess in front of witnesses. You showed a lot of courage.” This came in puffs from the taller one of the two G-men. He looked a lot like Jimmy Ray, just my type, actually. I wondered for a minute if he had a harem, too.
“Happy to help,” I cooed at him. I gathered up as much dignity as I could, as much grace as possible with sweat and blood stained clothes, turned and walked out the door. “Call me. For my testimony, I mean. And, well, anyway…”
Just outside the door, coming up the steps is Honey. She looks pretty upset. And right behind her is Shirlanne Biggs. She looks loaded for bear. Trouble isn’t over yet tonight for the Sheriff. Before this is all done, he might think murder was the easy part.
“Evening, ladies.” I hurried away before the fireworks started.
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