Madrigal continued, “Chris could have been working at the casino all along and somehow found out about the supposed stock certificates. Anyway, a corporation was initiated to issue stocks. A bazillion people wanted his machines. Indian casinos were a different story because they couldn’t pay him with tribal funds. So they paid him with Coca Cola Stock valued at way less than 5%. Also I heard they paid him in gold! Only nobody knows where those certificates or gold are. They couldn’t get them from your father while he was alive.”
“By the way, I’m sorry that he died from cancer. Everybody in the business loved him. And I never got a chance to meet him. Anyway, they couldn’t get information from your mother, who probably didn’t even know about the gold certificates. Your dad wasn’t supposed to die. Your ex-husband was a piece of work. He must have made the killer a deal that he’d get you to sign over the stock options.”
Belinda wanted to grab her aching forehead, but her shoulder hurt too much to raise her opposite arm. “Come to think of it, I think Reedy was about an eighth Nez Perce. Maybe he thought that had some weight here in
“Well it wasn’t enough weight to make a grab for my casino. It’s good it’s not publicly traded.”
“So that’s why everything I own or love has been raped. They can’t find the stock certificates.” A lightbulb went on inside Belinda’s head.
“What about the gold? Isn’t it in a safe deposit box at his bank?” She remembered the key she’d found with the certificates--Coca Cola stocks? Yikes.
“Might be gold certificates. I don’t know the intricacies of the
law vs. tribal law regarding that.” The
killers think you have it and they’re not going away till they get it.” Maddie shook her head. U.S.
“But I don’t know where it is either!” Alarms went off in Belinda’s head--she needed to go back to the loft and read those certificates discreetly hidden behind her painting. And she needed to see if the damn key fit anything in the warehouse. But what if somebody was lying in wait? Maybe he’d give up? Nope, not after two murders.
Belinda waited till Maddie had gone to work to call Phillip.
Phillip answered, “Hello?” with a sob in his voice that actually wrenched Belinda’s heart. “Pop Phil? This is Belinda. I’m so sorry about mom.” More sobs.
“I think we need to talk about mom’s funeral pretty soon.”
“Eric and Gary went with me to the funeral home.” Snif. “Then Gail and Kitty went back to the house for me and got some clothes for Rachel to wear--you know...”
Yes, she did know that Phillip’s daughters would choose the dress her mother would be buried in. She wanted to scream. But she had something more important in mind.
“I’m going to go to the loft and work I guess. I can’t do anything else right now.” Like get those certificates. “Tell your kids if I learn the coroner’s release date for mother, I’ll call you.”
She texted to Chris. am going to mom’s house to get dress for mom’s funeral. He immediately responded, ‘k, let me no what u find out. That should keep him out of the way.
First more pain pills or she’d never get through today.
Driving with one arm was worse than it seemed. Muscles, tendons, bones and nerve endings were in the middle of her shoulder, she discovered. The pills gave her a floating sensation like an out-of-body experience. “Ha!” she laughed. Nobody better get in front of me todaaaaayyy. I weel run you over like a bug.
She started the
and drove to the
loft. She also called Sam and left a
message. “I wish you would answer. I think I know where the certificates are and
I’m going to get them from the loft.”
Well wasn’t that special. On her
own, as usual. Toyota
No cars, especially blue ones, were parked anywhere on the street or parking lots.
Maybe minus two degrees had something to do with that. Heavy from three layers of clothing, it was hard to bend her already aching arms.
The two deadbolts on the door now could only be opened with keys that hung around her neck on a chain.
Upstairs she went to the painting, took the envelope off the back and pulled out one of the papers. She knew what they would be but she shook when she realized how valuable that stack of vellum actually could be. She didn’t find gold certificates in that stack. If the little key would somehow open the safe upstairs, she could end this whole affair. The certificates fit inside her jeans against her body with a lot of ouching her way through the layers of clothing.
She noticed a vase with long dead flowers she’d brought to the studio to paint sometime last summer. They were so depressing she picked up the vase, headed for the trashcan which had been moved. She’d forgotten how heavy that crystal vase was. She looked around for the trashcan.
Hair stood up on the back of her neck when one of the down stairs creaked. Oh, God, not again. She stepped to the inside door and opened it a crack. A head covered with a huge coat was coming up, feet tip-toeing like a bad cartoon character. Someone else was behind the first person.
Anger took over what sense she had left. Belinda heaved the vase of dead flowers at them. Three hundred marbles popped out of the vase and pelted down the staircase like a Pachinko machine gone mad. She gasped as the two bodies flapped their arms. That’s when she saw the huge knife in the first one’s hand that stabbed into a stair as the body went sailing backward.
She ran to her work table, grabbed a roll of blue painter’s tape and, hearing nothing from the pileup at the bottom of the stairs, hurried down, dusting marbles off the stairs as she went, panting at her own audacity. She grabbed the first person’s arms, pulled back the coat sleeves and wrapped half a roll of tape around wrists and hands. Then repeated it on the second person, shaking so badly she thought she wouldn’t be able to finish. To make sure, she ran as fast as the marbles would allow back upstairs to the utility box, found duct tape and returned to wrap up their legs as well. Then jerked the hoods off two heads.
Gail? Holy Shit! And Chris. Conked out cold. She put some more duct tape around the blue tape then ran more of it down to their feet from the hands taped behind their backs. She almost pulled the knife out of the stair it was impaled on, but tiptoed around it instead, calling 911 and Sam and Maddie and everybody else she could think of.
After the place was scoured with policemen who fought the marbles with every step, Sam rolled up. “I bet you’re hell on turkey trussing.”
Still shaking, too angry to cry for once in her life, Belinda sat in the
with its windows down and the heater blasting not very hot air. She knew her sister-in-law and her supposed
boyfriend would disappear if she took her eyes off them. Imagine those two colluding--what a love
match. Bile rose in her throat. She wondered if Phillip’s whole family killed
her mother. Toyota
After the crime scene was released, Belinda took a can of WD-40 upstairs to the last place she hadn’t been able to get into in the warehouse--the fake Red Cross door.
“I’ve never seen a double door safe before,” Sam said.
“We need one of my step-sisters to crack this lock. I can’t believe Gail and/or Chris could open every single lock I put on this place.”
“Not to mention her being a knife killer. Now we know where she got the help to get Reedy up on the canvas. Nice touch painting him too. Locks don’t keep out the bad guys.”
She tried another combination. She’d been through all the birthday dates, anniversary dates, and holidays, famed war battle dates she could think of. Then she took a leap of logic and tried the date the first Coca-cola stock certificate had been issued in the 1950’s. The lock popped open. With great anticipation she pulled the door on its rusted hinges toward her. A safe-deposit box was concreted into the wall.
“Forever more?” Sam said as he grinned at her, dimples deepening.
“My mother’s favorite swear word.”
“Aha. Now what are you going to do?”
“I’m going to try this little key...She inserted the key that had accompanied the stock certificates. Inside was packed with stacks of plastic envelopes, each holding a solid gold one-ounce Eagle coin. She couldn’t take her eyes off of that box. “What did you say gold was selling for?”