Six Geese A-Slaying | Chapter 41 of 41 - Part: 1 of 3

Author: Donna Andrews | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 3446 Views | Add a Review

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Chapter 33

The stables made surprisingly comfortable temporary quarters. Of course, the last few hours had been so exhausting I’d have found a concrete pavement comfortable. After we gave our statements to Chief Burke, Michael and I raced back to the drama department for the one-man show. Then we spent several hours fending off questions from family, friends, neighbors, and the press—though fortunately the only reporters still in town and not incarcerated in the county jail were the editor of the Caer-philly Clarion and a part-time stringer for the college radio station. It was nearly ten by the time we got back to Michael’s office, and people kept dropping by to see us, so in spite of the fact that both of us were tired enough to fall asleep in one of the two-foot snowdrifts the twin storms had left behind, we took advantage of a lull between visitors to pack up our essential gear, sneak out, and hike back to the stables.

“It’s the last place anyone would look for us tonight,” Michael said with satisfaction, once we’d put the feed room door back on its hinges and spread out our sleeping bags inside the room. We’d thrown a blanket over some of the hay bales just outside the feed room, and were lounging there, finishing our dinner.

We’d had to take a rain check on the planned steak and shiraz but we’d unwrapped a few gifts intended for various relatives—a bottle of merlot, some gourmet cold cuts and cheeses, and four different kinds of Christmas cookies. If we all made it to Mother and Dad’s for Christmas tomorrow, the intended recipients would understand why we hadn’t brought their presents.

Michael had brought his iPod and a tiny set of speakers, so we had nonstop Christmas carols, courtesy of the college radio station. We lit a couple of battery-powered lanterns that the Ag Department kept around to use during power outages, and we even had our own elaborately decorated little Victorian-themed Christmas tree, stolen from the German department down the block.

“Borrowed,” Michael kept insisting. “We’ll have it back long before they even notice it’s gone. And it adds the perfect touch to our holiday feast.”

We’d spread the presents for each other around the base of the tiny tree and hung our stockings on one of the stall doors.

We were lying in a comfortable pile of hay just outside the feed room door drinking the wine out of Michael’s office coffee mugs and eating slices of cold cuts and cheese with our fingers, but it seemed like the most sumptuous feast imaginable. Of course, still being alive had just a little to do with my exhilaration.

“You can’t imagine how I felt when Spike came running into my dressing room, covered with blood and barking his head off,” Michael said again.

“And I did him such an injustice, assuming that the last thing he’d do was go for help.”

“He’s no Lassie, but he did the job.”

I stuffed another bit of cheese through the mesh at the front of Spike’s crate, by way of a thank you and Christmas treat, but he was so overstuffed from all the previous treats of cheese, prosciutto, and salami that he barely opened his eyes. It was the first time I’d ever seen Spike ignore food, and I was willing to bet it would be the last. In nearby stalls, Cousin and Ernest were still munching on an extra ration of oats. In fact, every animal in the barn was joining in the feast except for the chickens, who had gone back to roost in the rafters. We decided that for now they’d prefer sleep to food, so they’d be getting their Christmas treat in the morning.

“Just what was that thing Caroline whacked Werzel with, anyway?” Michael asked. “It looked like a plaster model of a cow’s leg.”

“That’s exactly what it was,” I said. “Dad was planning to make reindeer tracks in the yards of a few children—Chief Burke’s grandson, and Cousin Mildred’s kids. So he went over to the zoo a few days ago, made molds from one of the deer, and cast some plaster hooves.”

“Cool,” Michael said. “Even better than dancing on the roof with sleigh bells, and it’s not every year you get snow to do it in.”

“Yes, but when the snow forecast changed to feet instead of inches, he realized he needed more than just the hooves. He needed the whole legs. He decided that a cow was the best substitute available on short notice, and the only cows in town were in the college barn. Caroline and Dr. Blake came along to help him. They were making molds of the cow’s legs in the stall, and using the feed room to pour the plaster and dry the legs. Lucky for me they were still at it when Werzel and I showed up.”

“I’m sure you’d have found a way to foil him anyway,” Michael said. “Or at least hold him off until I got here. Just one thing bothers me—was Doleson just a blackmailer, or do you think he also murdered that politician?”

“Drood? No idea. I gather the chief’s going to reopen the case. See if there’s any evidence to prove whether it’s suicide or murder.”

“Time will tell, I suppose,” Michael said. “And what happens to all Doleson’s blackmail files?”

“Under lock and key in the chief’s office,” I said. I wriggled into a slightly more comfortable spot in the hay and decided it wasn’t worth the effort of reaching for another slice of ham.

“Bet a few people will get a little nervous when that comes out,” Michael said, suppressing a yawn.

“I imagine anyone in those files has been more than a little nervous since the news of Doleson’s death got out. The chief didn’t say much about what he planned, but from what I got out of Horace, I gather that except for anything that would constitute a prosecutable crime, the rest of the files won’t ever see the light of day.”

“That’s good. Speaking of prosecutable crimes—does the chief have enough evidence without those photos Werzel deleted?”

“Werzel may have deleted them, but as any of Rob’s techies will tell you, deleted doesn’t mean gone for good. The computer techs have probably already got those photos back. And I’m sure they can find some traces of blood on the lens.”

“Outstanding,” Michael murmured.

We listened to the carols in comfortable silence for a few minutes. “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” gave way to “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” I was about to suggest that we call it a night and retire to the feed room when—

“Meg! Michael! What are you two doing here?”

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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