Glass City EclipseWritten by Dave DeChristopher | | email@example.com
Chapter 13: The Faux Trucker with the Intimidating Manner
“It’s not my truck,” the trucker — that is, the policeman dressed like a trucker — said.
“But you were leaning up against it,” Tania said.
“Smoking a Camel,” I added.
“That’s lesson number one if you want to be a detective,” he said. “Don’t jump to conclusions without concrete evidence.”
“Okay,” Tania said.
“And it wasn’t a Camel,” he said. Clearly this guy knew some of what we were up to; the question was, how much? Could he know about the money? How safe was it jammed under the front seat of my car?
“Now answer my question,” he said. “What do you know about Jezebel Cooke?”
“Who?” I said.
“Nice name,” Tania added. “Never heard of her.”
“Interesting,” the man said. He crossed to his table and returned with his coffee cup and a photograph, which had been sitting under the cup. He held up the photo, of the tall blonde whom we had been following, or crossing paths with, depending on how you saw it. “This is Jezebel Cooke.”
“Looks a little like Chrys Peterson,” Tania said.
“What?” The man was clearly getting testy.
“Must be a Shenikwa or a Larson man,” I said.
“Or he doesn’t follow the news,” Tania said.
“Are you two through?” he said in a no-nonsense voice. “You know what I’m talking about, and this is where it ends.” He took a swallow of coffee, waiting for us to respond.
“Actually,” I said half-truthfully, “we’re in the dark. But we were planning on coming to see … Ow!” Tania kicked me under the table.
“Can I get a look at your badge again?” she asked politely.
The man coughed a couple of times and stared at us each in turn, taking his time. I gave him high marks for intimidation. He took another slurp of his coffee, and reached slowly for his pocket. But then he started coughing again, more violently, and grabbed the edge of the table, which he also started pounding on, with his free hand. His coffee and ours was sloshing onto the table top.
Tania and I backed away, toward the big front window; there was no immediate escape. There was more coughing, then he seemed to lose consciousness, and fell heavily to the floor, ricocheting off the table first. Sometime while this was going on, the young woman working at her laptop at a nearby table began to scream. There was also some commotion further away, back in the kitchen it sounded like.
On the floor, something was trickling out of the man’s mouth, but he wasn’t moving.
When the woman stopped screaming, it was eerily quiet. And unmoving, a freakish version of that famous Edward Hopper painting of the diner. Tania and I were frozen with … shock? Fear? Fatigue? A cocktail of all three, I thought.
“What should we do?” I said.
“That would be the $64,000 question,” she said.
“He’s not moving.”
“Do you still wanna go to the police?”
“I’m not sure … why are you asking me now?”
“Well … if we stick around long enough, they’ll save us the trouble; they’ll be here.”
“I want to go home,” I said.
Her statement hung in the air for awhile.
“Then let’s get out of here,” I said.
Somebody in the Dunkin’ Donuts told us to wait, but we didn’t. We didn’t look back until we were in the car and driving away, destination unknown. Silence reigned for awhile here too, until I couldn’t stand it anymore.
“What do we do now, Nancy Drew?” I said.
To be continued …