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Authors: Rod Hoisington

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BOOK: 5 Alive After Friday
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Chapter Eleven
 

 

S
andy
phoned Martin as soon as she left Lagoon Park and asked him to meet her at the
police station. “The police have identified the dead guy as a Calvin Boyd. I’ll
explain why I’m certain he’s Dick. If we can find out what he’s been doing and
where he’s from, then maybe he’ll lead us to Jane.”

Ten minutes later, as she left the elevator at the
police station, she saw Martin already there standing talking with Judy. She
thought they made a great looking couple.

“You must have discovered something over at Lagoon
Park,” he said. “There’s fire in your eyes.”

She nodded to Judy, “I’ve an excellent theory on
the money-drop and how Cal Boyd came to be killed.”

He said, “I know you’re hoping he is Dick. You believe
Jane killed him?”

“He definitely is Dick. Jane needed someone with a
strong back and a weak mind to manhandle me during the abduction. Maybe she
wanted to be rid of him fast after she got the money and before he screwed up.
Yes, I believe Dick is dead. And I’m going after Jane.”

Judy said, “Now there’s a shocker.”

Detective Jaworski walked over waving a piece of
paper. “M.E. report. And we’ll have a full history on Boyd at any moment. All
we know right now is he was twenty-five, had some Sarasota connection and was shot
with a .38 at close range. You think he’s connected, but it looks like a
robbery. Stripped of his wallet and watch. The guy could be just an unlucky
tourist.”

“No tourist is strolling around the park in work
boots. I need to bring you up to date, Eddy.” She explained her theory of how
the successful money-drop was carried out and how the trail led over to the
equipment shed and Cal Boyd’s body. “I’m convinced it’s Dick,” she said. “I
told you about the ratty-looking kid I saw. He’s the one who took the wallet
and watch off the dead body, and swapped the bikes—not the killer. We need to
find that kid. He may have seen something, and at the very least, that new bike
is evidence. I believe you’ll find Boyd’s prints on it, and we might trace the
purchase back to where he lived.”

Jaworski agreed, “If the kid is burgling cars, he
probably finds a gun every other night. But he wouldn’t have shot the guy to
get a new bike.”

Sandy shook her head. “No, the guy was shot
because he had just picked up the big money. Too much of a coincidence for a
body to be found that near to where I left it. I dropped off the money, drove
around to the other entrance and there’s a warm body.”

Judy left when she heard the communication printer
running. She came back and handed the printout to the detective. He read aloud,
“Calvin Boyd. Florida Dept of Motor Vehicles suspended his driver’s license last
year. Shows an old address in Sarasota, Florida. Mother still lives there. Only
connection to Park Beach is a two-year-old arrest for aggravated assault in a
local bar. No other priors.”

“Does he have a registered vehicle?” Sandy asked.

He ran his finger down the page. “Ford 350. Blue.
Registered in Sarasota County.”

“A Ford 350 is a pickup. It might have been a
large pickup pinning me in behind. The headlights were somewhat higher. He
didn’t want to drive his truck into the park service entrance. But a bike rider
in the park wouldn’t attract any attention. So, he carried his bike around in
the back of his truck and rode the bike into the park.” She went on to explain
how Boyd would have walked along the streambed back to the equipment shed for
his bike. “Did you ask the zone cop, if he knows the kid?”

“He’s been off duty. I’ll talk to him. I didn’t
realize until just now how important the bike might be.”

Sandy continued, “I’m not telling you your
business, however you might want to get out a local bulletin looking for that Ford
pickup. If my hunch is right, you’ll find it parked somewhere in the beach area
just a few blocks from Lagoon Park. I’ll wager he took the bike out of the
truck, rode it to the park, left it at the equipment shed and then walked to
the bridge.”

Her phone rang. Mel Shapiro said. “You get the printout
on Boyd? We’ve been going though the court records. That two-year-old prior offense
in Park Beach was a bar brawl. I just got off the phone with Vicki Susane.”

“What’s she have to do with it?” Sandy asked

“Before she started her private practice, she
worked as a public defender. She defended Boyd in the bar-fight assault case
two years ago and got him off claiming self-defense. She just heard about his
being shot and phoned offering to help me with whatever she knows. Always had a
heavy caseload and dozens of defendants, but she remembers him. Said back then
he was living in Sarasota. I’ll let you know if she can add anything to the
investigation.”

“That’s what we need. Once his name gets out
there, others might come forward with information on him.” Sandy lowered her
phone. “Vicki Susane was Boyd’s public defender two years ago and might know
something about him.” She and Martin had recently faced Vicki in the courtroom.
Then back to the phone, “Mel, that’s great she wants to help. Would you mind if
we interviewed her? Your people already have plenty to do.” Mel thanked her and
they hung up.

Martin said, “She might know something about his
background. You want me to talk with her?”

Sandy nodded. “You dealt with her in court. Contact
her. Turn on that Bronner charm. See if you can get any private info out of her.
We need to know everything about Cal Boyd. Then we’re off on a great start.”

“Meanwhile,” Sandy said. “I’m driving over to
Sarasota and talk to the mother. Maybe she knows where her son last lived.”

They had started for the elevator, when Judy
stepped up and asked if she could talk to Martin for a moment. Sandy said, “Okay,
I’ll see you when I get back from Sarasota.” And got on the elevator.

Judy sat and Martin took the chair beside her
desk. He didn’t like the looks of this. She was very serious. He saw the
troubled expression on her face. “Oh, gosh, your daughter’s sick,” was the
first thing that came to his mind.

“No, she’s not the problem.” She lowered her head
and spoke to her clasped hands. “There’s no good way to tell you this. I want
you to know that I truly value knowing you—”

He knew what those words were leading up to. “Judy,
no!” He had sensed she was putting some distance between them lately but
thought it was his own insecurities. They had gone out on several dinner dates,
and she’d abruptly cancelled the last one. Instantly, he felt a heaviness crushing
his head. How did he get it so wrong?

“I wanted it to work, until—”

He sat with a lump of lead in his stomach, his
head throbbing and his eyes moist. What could have happened?

She mouthed the rehearsed words knowing they were poison
darts into his heart. Her ex had come back to town. In her mind, the divorce
had been processed long ago, and she retained no romantic feelings for him, or
so she thought. Nevertheless, when she observed her daughter’s explosive
delight in seeing her father and experienced the three of them once again in
the setting of their home, she was overcome with doubt.

How could Martin argue against that? He had no
place in that cozy tableau. He understood but of course was disappointed. He
wasn’t red-hot over her, but she was a charming woman, and he loved her. He wasn’t
devastated but was immensely disappointed. As his wife, she’d have the best that
life could offer. Now in his late thirties he felt ready for such a major
change in his life. He had that incredible family home surrounded by two acres
of unending green on the barrier island just waiting to be filled with a loving
wife and children. They would all grow old together. He was certain he could have
made her very happy. Perhaps, it hadn’t sounded all that exciting when Judy
thought of it.

Chapter Twelve
 

 

T
he
police had identified the body that Sandy discovered in the park as Calvin
Boyd. They now knew that he had been driving around on a suspended license, was
twenty-five and wouldn’t get any older. Nothing more was known about him in the
two years since his bar-fight charge was dismissed. Sandy was convinced he was
Dick. She was eager to learn what his former attorney, Vicki Susane, had to say
about him.

Martin phoned her hoping she’d agree to meet with
him. He didn’t need to worry—she was delighted to receive his call.

“We could have a drink,” Vicki suggested. “I’ve
always wanted to see your club.”

“My club?’ The Club was an exclusive social club
for the ‘well-connected’ crowd, magnificently situated between the ocean and
the Waterway with panoramic views of both. Membership wasn’t actually exclusive,
merely excessively expensive. He thought suggesting drinks at his private club
was unquestionably forward. “I was thinking more like lunch.”

“I want to relax. Lunch is for business,” she
said.

“Aren’t we meeting for business?”

“Come on, I’m dying for an inner glimpse of The
Club—
the palais grand
.”

Indeed aggressive, he thought, yet he was the one
requesting the meeting. He did want her assistance and was free for the
evening. He agreed to drinks at six. “I’ll meet you in the rotunda.”

When he walked in that evening, Vicki was standing
in the cool marble-tiled entrance hall with her back toward him looking at the
apiary. With lush foliage and palms, the interior was unmistakably Florida.

He knew she was attractive from observing her in
the courtroom. This was his first close-up view of her outside of her
hard-nosed trial lawyer persona. Her long ash-blonde hair fell onto a red
lambskin-leather jacket worn loosely around her shoulders covering a sleeveless
taupe sheath. She looked exquisite. Like a million dollars, his father would say.

After greetings she said, “Well, I’m finally
inside The Club.” They walked across the marble floors to the lounge, which was
half-full. The maître d' seated them in a quiet corner. “I hope I didn’t come
off as pushy, Martin,” She glanced around at the gleaming teak walls and
polished statuary. “I don’t have any friends who are members, but I heard that
all this existed in little old Park Beach. This is truly a treat.”

“From the looks of you, I’m sure you’re already
successful. Yet if you’d like to be seen here and somehow it helps your law
practice, then that’s fine with me.”

She was quiet for a moment listening with her eyes
looking upward. “I hear a piano somewhere. Live, of course.”

“In the Blue Room. One of the three dining rooms.”
Eager to get their meeting started and over with, he motioned for the server. “You
began with the public defender’s office, back when you first got your license,
didn’t you?”

“For too long of a time, until I got to know my
way around and felt brave enough to go out on my own. Next came a starving run
at handling litigation. Then, it was real estate transactions, which are a
bore. Finally, I hit upon the escrow service idea.”

The server glided over. Martin looked expectantly
at Vicki.

“Tangueray martini, up, olive. And may I bother
you for your wine list. I’m just curious.”

“No bother at all, madam.” Then the server faintly
bowed to Martin.

“I’ll have the same, Raimond. Thank you.” Martin
turned his attention back to her. “I remember you started that escrow service
for real estate transactions.”

She nodded. “As you know, my company holds
deposits and contract money for buyers, sellers, or whoever until the contracts
are settled.”

“Very clever. And you remain free to pursue your
law practice.”

She smiled. “So we can be friends now that our Banks-Olin
courtroom battle is over, right? Sorry I had to drag it out for months and
months. After all, a lot of money was involved. I wasn’t surprised when you
guys got the large settlement.”

The very thought of the forthcoming martini was
enough to make him relax. Vicki was quite pleasant and nice to look at. She seemed
easy to get along with. He’d just go with it. “I didn’t consider you an enemy
in the courtroom, when you were just doing your job. But yes, now there’s not
the slightest conflict between us. We can be friends.”

The server presented the requested wine list. She
opened the padded leather folder and moved her finger down the pages. “A lot of
this is boring, If you’ll excuse my saying so,” she said, not quite under her
breath. “There are a few gems mixed in, not that I’m any expert. Now here’s a
Chateau
Roux
. Isn’t that the one with the Matisse artwork on the label? Beautiful.
Too bad the wine isn’t as good as the label...sorry, for a minute there I
sounded as though I actually knew what I was talking about. Oh, look! I didn’t
turn enough pages...I’d die for
anything
on this page. Absolutely
anything.” She closed the wine list. “Just curious to see what’s on the wine
list at one of the most exclusive private clubs in the southeast.”

“You fit in perfectly,” he had to tell the truth. “What’s
your favorite wine?”

“You mean in my dreams or that I can afford? I’ll
take any
Asda Beaujolais
, when I can find one under thirty bucks.”

“Have you been to the provinces?” he asked.

“Sadly no, I skipped the wine country to hit
Cannes. That was a mistake—too many obnoxious tourists like me. I’d love to
hear what you think about them.”

The martinis arrived; they feigned a polite toast
and took sips.

“It’s okay if you invited me for drinks to pump me
for information, but I fear I’m going to disappoint you. It’s been two years.” She
didn’t know much about Cal Boyd to start with, she said, and had lost track of him
since the trial. She believed he’d moved back to Sarasota. “Did he say anything
useful before he died?”

“Quite dead when Sandy found him.”

“That’s what I read but I wasn’t certain. Let’s
see, what else...as I recall, Boyd told me he was arrested for car theft as a
minor. There wouldn’t be a record of that. I believe he mentioned that at one
time he worked at some marina over in Sarasota. Other than that—”

“We do appreciate your giving us some background
on him.”

They sipped in silence for a minute. Mild chatter
and piano sounds continued in the background. Then she said, “You’re fortunate
to have a professional connection with Sandy Reid. She’s a marvelous woman.”

He nodded.

“I bet you wish some of those evocative rumors about
the two of you were true.” She saw his frown and quickly added, “I’m sorry. That
was crude.”

“I expected your remarks to be classier. You just flattered
me and slandered her.” He had a polite look on his face, but wasn’t smiling.

“An affair with Martin Bronner might be scandalous
but never slanderous. Women would die to be in a scandalous affair with you.”

“But wouldn’t dying defeat the woman’s purpose?”
He liked to exchange quips with her. She seemed challenging not at all
annoying. “You seem to be searching for my buttons to push.”

“You’re right. I’m sorry. We don’t know each other
well enough for any of my hapless remarks.” She placed a finger over her mouth
for a second as if to silence herself. “I was attempting to change the subject
to us.”

“I caught that.”

“You’re annoyed.” She leaned back and shrugged. “I
was a little high on being here with you in this atmosphere even before the
drink. Sorry.” She took a sip and peeked over her glass at him. “I’m aware you’re
seeing Judy Nagler, the crime analyst. At least
that
is not a rumor. Even
so, I don’t believe you two are all that close as yet—”

“If there was a question in there, I’m not going
to talk about Judy.”

“Of course not. I didn’t expect you to.” She took
another sip and leaned toward him. “It is interesting that a man of the world,
such as you, is thinking of settling down so young. I assumed you’d be saving
yourself for some European Countess or whomever.”

“I’ll say this, although she needs no defense, Judy
certainly isn’t beneath me. I’d be fortunate to connect with her. Having said
that, Marriage isn’t in the works for us. She has her hands full of parenting,
and I’m not ready.”

Her martini glass slipped. Fortunately, it was half-empty
and she caught it short of disaster. “I should have played the lottery today,” she
said aloud and straightened in her chair. “So, if no marriage plans, then no
commitments, if I may be so bold.”

“Makes sense to me.” No point in denying any of
it.

“You’re forcing me to be honest. You seem a bit
sullen, yet you didn’t discard my pushy overture to have drinks with you here.”
She studied his face carefully for a long moment. “You guys just broke up,
didn’t you? No need to answer, it’s written on your face—and in all probability
in the stars.” She raised her glass. “A toast to the stars.”

“You can lower your glass. As romantic as it
sounds, I don’t subscribe to any writing in the stars theories. The fault dear...Vicki...is
not in the stars but in ourselves.”

“Julius Caesar...I forget which act, and I don’t
remember Shakespeare mentioning the ‘dear Vicki’ part.”

“That’s what you get for missing class.”

“Okay, so we’ll skip the stars. Even so, Martin, do
you believe that fate plays an important part in our lives?”

“I’d feel uncomfortable toasting fate, also. Fate
is providence not luck. Let’s use the word chance instead. I believe that
chance plays an important part in our lives.”

“And I’m here tonight in living proof of that,”
she said. “How about adventures?” She raised her glass again. “Let’s drink to
that, as well. We town insiders know about a couple of your...adventures. No
doubt there are others. So, I know you’re not faint of heart.”

“They didn’t start out to be adventurous. Just
nature taking its course.”

“Three cheers for nature.”

In truth, he was attracted by her exceptional good
looks and curious about her personality. Beyond acknowledging all that, he
wasn’t of a mind to consider her further. He finished his drink.

“I’m sorry, Martin, I’ve been blithering on.
Trying to act sophisticated to hide my nervousness. You’re more clued-up about
women than I imagined. They don’t intimidate you at all, do they? And I’m not
fooling you one bit.” She held the cone-shaped glass to her lips to inhale the
lingering essence and then downed the last of the luscious martini. “I felt
especially daring, putting myself together to come here tonight. I was hoping you
might be...accessible. Might be open for something a little off center. I
thought you deserved one last hot fling, before things got unquestionably
serious with Judy. I never imagined I’d be sitting here with the one who got
away. Now, I see I don’t have to worry about you.”

“So, you came here thinking of my needs.” Another
long martini sip for him, while he marveled at her cool blue-green eyes.

She locked eyes with him. “No, I’ve been thinking
of my own needs, ever since I first saw you in the courtroom.”

He looked at her steadily, as she had expected
after delivering what she thought was a killer line. She was somewhat stunned
by what he did next. She had just boldly laid herself open to him, and he had
reacted by pushing his empty glass away and placing his napkin on the table.
Had she entirely misread his mood and unspoken messages? The evening was over,
she feared, for now he signaled the waiter.

“Raimond, you know that quiet table for two back
near the palms, with the unobstructed view of the cellist?”

“I’m familiar with your favorite table, Mr.
Bronner. And what would be Mademoiselle’s preference in flowers?”

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