The housekeeper’s scream faded and her face paled. Chief Grady managed to catch her before her body collapsed to the floor in a terror-driven faint. He carried her to the nearby living room and set her down on an overstuffed recliner before bringing her a glass of water. A few seconds later, her eyelids fluttered open and she gasped.
“Shh, you’re okay. Here, have a sip of water.” Grady said as he pressed the glass into her trembling hands. “Feeling a little better now, Miss, um; I apologize, I don’t know your name.”
“Kramer, Alicia Kramer. Thanks, I’ve never been the fainting type before but my body has been doing strange things since this little one became a part of me.” She patted her barely-showing baby bump and smiled.
“That’s completely understandable. My wife said she experienced all sorts of new and strange physical reactions while she was pregnant. Most of them were good but morning sickness and raging emotions….not so much.” Grady laughed. “Ms. Kramer, or may I call you Alice? I mean Alicia…sorry about that. Please, stay here and recover. We’ll need to get a statement from you but that can wait until after I deal with the kitchen. Would you mind waiting until one of my deputies gets here?”
“Not at all.”
Grady used his cell phone to call the station. The line rang and rang, setting his temper aflame. Three rings, that’s supposed to be the max. They all know it, so why isn’t anyone answering? Six, seven, eight, where the heck are they?
“It’s about time,” Grady snarled into the phone when Barker finally answered on the tenth ring. “What the heck is going on over there? I take one morning off and this is what happens?”
“Sorry, Chief,” Barker replied once he could get a word in after his boss’ rant. “Kline and I are a bit rusty on the switchboard.”
“Why are you two on the switchboard? Where’s Francine?”
“Yeah, about that,” Barker sighed. “She quit. She walked in this morning and dropped a resignation letter on your desk and walked out. Needless to say, I was pretty pissed off so I called her cell and she was out in the parking lot, bawling. Chuck found another job so he sold their house without even consulting her. He told her if she didn’t leave with him right now their marriage was over. He said he couldn’t deal with the death and the stench from the beach anymore. She said she couldn’t bear to face you so she took advantage of your morning off. Speaking of, what are you doing up so early? I thought you said you were going to sleep until noon.”
“Well, it seems that some folks know my home number. Listen, I need one of you to meet me over at Mayor Farmington’s house ASAP.”
“No, it’s not even remotely okay so make it quick, okay?”
“You’ve got it, Chief! I’m on my way.”
With Alicia resting and Barker on the way, Chief Grady walked back to the kitchen to get started. He began by taking pictures: First, the nearly-empty bottle of Scotch and a completely empty bottle of Valium on the kitchen counter. *click* The pool of blood surrounding Dale Farmington’s body like a morbid antithesis to the snow angel. *click* The blood-soaked antique rifle that used to hang on the wall in Dale’s office which was now resting across the deceased’s feet. *click* The wall, sliding glass door and parts of the kitchen island now splattered with gore, brain matter, and bits of bone fragments. *click* *click* *click*
Moments later, Deputy Barker arrived on the scene, glad to be rid of the dreaded switchboard. He’d naively assumed that the Mayor was filing a complaint about his neighbors or a noise ordinance violation since those were the norm with the Mayor Farmington. He was shocked to see the former mayor sprawled across his kitchen floor with a flap blown out of the side of his head.
“Whoa! That is not what I was expecting when you told me to get over here.” Barker gasped. Regaining his composure, he whispered, “It looks self-imposed…Do you think it’s a set up or did this have something to do with his wife’s interview?”
“I’m not one hundred percent sure but I’m going to need your help after you take a statement from Ms. Kramer. She’s in the living room, recovering. She was the first one in and had a little fainting spell. Not that it matters but she’s pregnant so just go nice and easy with her, okay?”
“Anything you say, boss.”
After giving her statement, Alicia Kramer was permitted to leave with the understanding that she was prohibited from discussing anything that she’d seen since there was a full investigation underway. She thanked Chief Grady for his kindness and scurried out before anyone changed their minds and made her clean up the mess in the kitchen. Though she would never have wished Dale Farmington ill will, Alicia was glad she wouldn’t have to wear that stupid uniform anymore.
Once the body was removed and the cleaning lady was long gone, Chief Grady and Deputy Barker tagged the former mayor’s laptop as evidence.
“Once you get back to the station, I’d like you and Kline to see if you can get inside this thing. We’re going to need access to his emails and, if possible, any social media sites. I’m going to stop over and have a chat with his secretary, Marsha. She’s the one that called me. She said he’d sent out some sort of letter of resignation last night so I want to get a copy of it from her. After that, I guess I need to stop by the hospital. Someone needs to notify Sylvia Farmington and I guess it ought to come from me…even though I wish it didn’t!”
“So much for your morning off, huh?” Barker sighed, resting a sympathetic hand on Grady’s shoulder. “I’m gonna spend a few minutes digging around in his office before heading back to the station. Guys like him usually have a list of log on names and passwords written down somewhere. It’ll make our job easier if we’ve got those first.”