Tag Archives: Leticia

Rainbow Connection; chapter thirteen, part two

“The last day is especially interesting, don’t you think?”  Leticia asks, her eyes watering.

“Yes.”  I hesitate, then ask the question.  “Do you think they’re related?”

“Yes,” Leticia says firmly.  “That means the killer is in your group.”  Her eyes widen as she looks at me.  From the speculative gleam in her eyes, I can tell what she’s thinking.

“I didn’t kill your sister, Leticia,” I say wearily.  It’s never pleasant to be thought of as a murder suspect, but I’m used to it.

“I didn’t think you did,” Leticia says immediately, the flash of fear gone.  I pick up the accounts notebook and thumb through it again.  A.T., C.R., C.T., L.P., M.S.  I stop reading in disgust.  It’s no use.  If she had added some identifying markers to each name, such as what she’s blackmailing them for, then perhaps I could use the information.  Something niggles at me.  I open the diary and read the last entry again.

“Leticia, look at this!”  I show the entry to Leticia.

“I’ve read it already,” she says impatiently, not glancing at the page.  I don’t have time for attitude, so I read it out loud.

“This one, is very special.  I play right, I no have to work rest of my life.  Ten thousand dollars for first increased payment.  Is fair for a life.”  I pause dramatically, but Leticia’s eyes don’t flicker.  “Don’t you get it?  First increased payment.  That means she was already blackmailing the killer!”  I grab the accounts notebook and open it again.  “One of these fifteen initials is the killer!”  Ok, not the greatest grammar, but I got the point across.

“Madre de Dios!”  Leticia gasps, scanning the initials.  “Do you recognize any?”

“It’s hard,” I say slowly, my mind churning.  “I only know the first name of the women in the group.”

“I could probably find the last names at the clinic,” Leticia says eagerly.

“A.T., M.S., T.R,” I recite.  “Those are the possibilities.  I am relieved not to see a R.L., as irrational as that is.

“I’ll ask Carol tomorrow,” Leticia says briskly.

“Can you find out some other way?”  I ask slowly.  There is no C.S., so she’s not a suspect.  Still, I would feel better if Leticia didn’t talk about this with Carol.

“I’ll see what I can do,” Leticia says, energized to have something to do.

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Rainbow Connection; chapter thirteen, part one

There is very little to be gleaned from my conversation with Derek other than Rosie’s strong sense of morality which only makes sense in the case of her murder if her belief system was her excuse for carrying out blackmail.  Asking for money from people she didn’t approve of to care for her child might have seemed like some sort of poetic justice to her.  Derek and I part, and I meander home.  My head is pounding from too much information and not enough evidence.  How I wish I had Paris here to bounce ideas off him—him and Lyle.  Speaking of Paris, there is a message from him on my cell phone which I have forgotten to turn on.  He is put out because he had to find out about Mariah’s death from the news.  I call him when I reach home.

“What the hell is going on over there?”  Paris’s voice has regained some of the vigor it had earlier lost.  “Who’s going to be next?  It better not be you!  Tell me everything.”  I tell him about Mariah’s death and what little information I have gathered about it.  I still don’t tell him about the second attempt on my life or the threatening note in my pocket because there’s nothing he can do about it from Memphis, and the last thing he needs is to be worried about me.

“Enough of that.  What about you?  How are you?”  I want to think about something other than the murders for a little bit even though I’d love to get Paris’s take on it.  It’s clear, however, that his mind is focused on the situation with his family, and I want to be a good friend and support him.

He is at his wit’s end.  His mother is wigging out.  Last night, she started screaming and couldn’t stop.  She kept saying it was her punishment for lying to Paris about being adopted.  She started pulling out her hair, and her husband had to pin her arms behind her back to keep her from making herself bald.  I ask about Lyle, hoping to take Paris’s mind off a difficult subject, but apparently, that is a touchy area as well.  Lyle is trying to be supportive, but understandably, is under tremendous strain as well.  He is spending the day alone because he needs some space.  While Paris can understand the need, it still makes him panic.  Any whiff of abandonment throws him into a tizzy, and they had a fight about it before Lyle took off.  Paris isn’t sure he can come back Wednesday after all with his mom in such bad shape and Mr. Jenson not being any use at all.  He just sits around, scowling, exhorting his wife to pull herself together.  I vaguely remember Mr. Jenson from when the Jensons lived in Oakland, but that was years ago.  He was very phlegmatic; I remember that much.  Seems he’s crossed the line into asshole-ness.

“I don’t mean to be flippant, Paris, but what about your mother’s deep relationship with God?  Isn’t that helping her at all?”  I am not a Christian, but I admire the faith that devout Christians have.  I wish I were that certain of a benevolent force having a positive interest in me.

“That’s the worst part, Rayne!  She’s renounced God.  She spent a half an hour calling Him every filthy name in the book.  I never thought I’d see the day when I wished she would spout Bible verses at me.”  Paris stops.  I hear a distinct sniffle.  “I don’t understand how someone’s faith can collapse like that.  It’s as if she thought because she believed in God, she was protected from bad things.”  I wonder if that’s why Rosie quit church as well.  Her son’s death certainly seems like a catalyst for the catastrophic events to follow.  I shake my head to remind myself that Ashley had been killed first.  I have a gut feeling, however, that Rosie’s blackmailing hobby plays a large part in this whole mess.  What if she found out something about Mr. Stevenson and tried to extort money out of Ashley?  A glimmer of something niggles at my brain, but I can’t force it to the forefront.  I let it simmer, hoping it’ll develop on its own.

“People deal with their grief in different ways, Paris,” I say soothingly, but honesty compels me to add, “Though I’m sure it’s not good to pull out your own hair.  Have you talked to her about seeing a therapist?”

“We are not people who resort to therapist,” Paris says in a sing-song voice, obviously imitating his mother.  Or perhaps his stepfather.  “We take care of our own problems, thank you very much.”  I restrain a sigh.  That is such a prevalent feeling, even in this day and age, and it’s so destructive.  I’m not advocating therapy for everyone or for every situation, and I balked at entering it myself, but at least I intellectually realize that there are some problems I can’t solve on my own and it’s not a weakness to seek out help.  “I almost punched my stepfather when he said he’d take care of my mother himself.  He’s doing a shitty job of it so far.”

“Maybe you should check out therapists yourself,” I suggest.  I don’t want to widen the rift between Paris and his stepfather, but it’s clear that his mother is not coping well at all.

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