She drove a neighbor’s borrowed Ford pickup truck over toward the golf course where her mother lived in a ranch style house three inches from the Fourteenth green. Once there, she let herself in with a spare key.
Belinda went directly to her father’s den where the picture hung. She realized she’d have to wash it, but it looked smooth enough to paint over. Besides, she could use some gesso to make sure another painting would adhere to the one beneath.
She carried the painting out to the truck and laid it in the large bed, then covered it with a heavy blanket. It fit almost perfectly. Then she went looking for her mother who could probably be found in her garden. The garden was through the kitchen, out the backyard door. She was surprised to see her mother sitting, looking out the back window.
Her mother sat at the kitchen table. Not moving. She had a neat hole in her temple.
Belinda screamed, “Noooooo!” She collapsed into tears after she felt for her mother’s pulse. Her mother was cold. And dead.
She remembered Sam “clearing” her house just yesterday, and almost hyperventilated as she ran out the front door and called 911 again, so frightened she could barely talk. Something inside her twisted, broke and turned to lead. She made herself walk into the kitchen. How could she live without her mother? She was the only thing that never changed. “I’ll eat all my vegetables, I promise.” She sobbed out the silly promise, broke down again and looked through her tears around the room for some explanation. This was just a bad dream. How could anyone kill her mother?
Belinda’s bones ached and she thought she must have the flu. That would be perfect--a dead ex and a dead mother, being shot at and living with Chris which she’d said she’d never do, having a shot SUV, and now she had the flu. Her life was upside down in only two days. But why?
Exhausted, Belinda curled into a ball and fell asleep on the sofa while she and her mom waited for the authorities.
Fortunately, her mother had made a detailed will when she’d married Phillip. Had she known something was going to happen? She’d made plain her burial wishes and both she and Phillip had drawn up a pre-nuptial agreement. What belonged to her mother would come to Belinda. What belonged to Phillip would go to his children, Gary, Eric, Gail and Kitty. Not that they had anything besides retirement incomes to worry about. I wonder where my stepfather went? The investigator said Phillip was out playing golf when he got the bad news about his wife. She wondered if he even cared.
Belinda had gone to a few of Phillip’s family parties, but her step-siblings had treated her mother with so much disdain and jealousy for marrying the divorced Phillip while their mother was still alive, that it was too uncomfortable for Belinda to watch.
Belinda stayed with Chris after she got out of the hospital where she’d been checked for shock. When Magers pointed out the lapses in her logic, with such a sweet sales pitch, she wanted to jump into his lap and never get out. The psychiatrist gave her medication so she could stop crying. She’d never known constant crying was so exhausting. She just wanted to be left alone to sleep. But of course the world would not stop for her.
The next morning Belinda called Sam. “I don’t know when the insurance company will fix my car, but I need to go to the studio. I had to take the truck back to my neighbor. I have a painting due in four days and obviously can’t use the one I had planned to use.”
“And I want to know this because?”
Was he being snide?
“I need to know if all the reports have been turned in. I feel like my life is gone and I can’t get going foreward. I need my SUV. My paintings won’t fit in a rental.
“Oh, of course, my mind was somewhere else. The reports were sent over two days ago, so it shouldn’t take much longer. But if you think your SUV is coming back to you, you are sadly mistaken. The windows could be repaired, but the bullet that went through the fender ricocheted off the front axle, then proceeded through the engine block, and all the oil leaked out of it. When you drove to the PD, the engine block froze up. It’ll be totaled.”
Sam. She pictured his deep honest eyes. Not dependent puppy eyes.
Maybe they wouldn’t have to be so formal now they were on a first-name basis. Sammy fit well on him--the name Grandby had called him when she first met both of them.
Belinda sighed. “You are so sweet! I guess I’ll call a car rental company then, because I’m stuck here at Chris’s house. He had to take his car to work.”
“Is this Chris Danner you mean?”
“Yes. I only moved in with him because I had nowhere else to go.”
“Are you two an item?”
“Item? Not a chance.”
“Good, because Mr. Danner works for the Beacon Casino, not a big box store like he told you.”
“I think you’ve got the wrong Chris Danner.”
“No. All acquaintances of victims and witnesses in a murder are checked out.”
“Well, why would he tell me he worked for a big store as a foreman?”
“Have you ever been at his place of employment?”
“No. But I wouldn’t care if he worked at a casino. There’s no need to lie about it.”
“Maybe he changed jobs and forgot to tell you?”
Well. Anything was possible. She said, “I wanted to ask you about the blue car. Have you found it yet?”
“Sorry. No luck on that one.
boasts the highest stolen car crime rate in the nation. Shops steal them to tear them apart and put
the pieces back together and presto! No
identification. A car is difficult, if
not impossible to identify when it has parts of twelve different ones and has
been painted a totally different color.” Spokane
Belinda thanked him again, then went out to the loaner truck and took the painting out of its bed. It was so cold, she was glad it hadn’t been wet when she put it in there. The paint would have frozen and ruined another attempt. Maybe God just didn’t want her to enter that art show.