Hurricane Audrey — Chapter 7

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Chapter 7
Anderson watched Ron Cavanaugh get into his car and drive toward the police station. He knew that’d be where the fellow was heading; the arraignment for Audrey Carmen was later this afternoon. Anderson pulled out onto main after Cavanaugh but turned at the first right and began to head toward the county proper. He drove the long way around, pushing through Harmanville first.

The Harmans had come a long way now that Detroit and his influence vanished, leaving the sensible men in charge. The transformation in the landscape alone instilled Anderson with an annoying sense of hope: the family cleaned up the litter and stopped littering, and they also trimmed hedges and pruned trees. Everything appeared as it should have, and rumors swirled the county intended to pave more roads around the area.

The crossover to the Vance side no longer carried the unnatural horror in the pit of his stomach. That, too, bothered Anderson. He and his art thrived on horror and fear. Even after the recent storm the Vance side carried itself well. Roseanna managed to all but take over herself, using her influence and intelligence — along with some copious help from Anderson, of course — to align several of the family members previously mistreated in taking over. She’d done well to put her trust in Whitney Vance.

He paused outside the old Vance homestead. While the workers managed to clear several trees and all the debris of the burned out house and shed, the Vance men still had loads to do if they intended to build another house on the property. Roseanna herself refused to set foot there.
Anderson wanted to paint the scene of her standing outside the flaming house. The emotion, the struggle, the hate of that place resonated with him. But that would wait. He drove back onto the main road and toward the house Roseanna and Whitney lived in, alongside Whitney’s children with Darl Vance.

Roseanna looked up from her spot on the porch. She sat Indian-style on a wide, wooden porch swing, a book in her lap, with a pitcher of tea and a few glasses on a table near the swing. She stood up, setting the book by the pitcher, and met him halfway down the driveway, her pink dress fluttering in the wind as she did so. Roseanna pulled a few stubborn hairs away from her face.

“Anderson,” Roseanna presented her hands to him. Anderson took them both gently and looked her in the eyes. Roseanna met his gaze. “What’s the occasion?”

He released her hands and held his out expansively. “I believe there is trouble brewing in Schaefferville,” Anderson said. “The kind that may roil and grow larger than their acreage. As the closer of the families to them, I wanted to discuss it with you.”

“I’m hearing a lot out of them,” Roseanna said. “Noise, mostly. A lot of the trading, buying, and selling their people want to engage in with us has moved toward long-term supplies. Odd in some cases, but they speak of the future in cagey terms.” She started up the drive.

“Are you doing more business with them than normal?” Anderson asked, keeping pace with her stride.

“It has ticked up,” Roseanna said. “Slowly at first. They don’t seem to want anyone else to know what they are up to, but are always curious about other Schaeffer’s. At least, that’s what I hear. I don’t see them directly much at all.”

“What about security?”

“We keep watch,” Roseanna said. “I’m sure several people have been watching you since you left Harmanville.”

He raised an eyebrow at her.

“I know you didn’t stop there, but you came that way,” Roseanna said. “I know Audrey Carmen didn’t kill that young woman, and if there’s a person out killing young women I have a very real interest in keeping an eye out.”

“That’s right, you’ve met Audrey Carmen,” Anderson said.

“I have. She helped me a lot, after…” Roseanna let the thought die. “Shall we sit?”

“I’m not sure I can,” Anderson said. “I intended to drive toward Schaefferville myself.”

Roseanna studied him, but he couldn’t read anything in her face. She had gotten quite good at this game. “Well, be careful,” Roseanna said.

###

I met Mister Vick Bosky not ten minutes before we went into the court room for the arraignment. He looked as he sounded: a short, wiry fellow with greased, stiff hair and a nervous look about him. His suit was black with royal purple pinstripes, and instead of dress shoes he wore a pair of boots. Our late meeting came because he spent his morning going over the case and generally annoying the police.

Audrey plead not guilty. Judge MacIntyre asked about bail.

“The defendant is charged with a murder, your honor,” the district attorney said. I didn’t recognize the man — he was not our usual prosecutor, Donald Pierce, which made my stomach roll just a bit.

“The defendant has ties to the community. The evidence is thin. She owns a local business, she’s marrying a man who also owns a business in town. Her risk of flight is minimal, and the evidence is, as I said, thin.”

The district attorney spent most of his time looking at me. “We have an eye witness.”

“An eye witness who claims to have seen and heard an argument, not a murder, and an eye witness who the prosecution cannot produce right now. There is no motive, no reasonable–”

The judge held a hand up rather than use his gavel. “I’ll cut you off there.” MacIntyre looked at me for a long moment, then Audrey. “I’m inclined to dismiss this case,” he said. “What I have before me doesn’t appear reasonable, and it seems as though the prosecution is pushing the time limit in order to brush their lack of evidence under the rug. I won’t dismiss, but I will release Miss Carmen on her own recognizance. Monday morning I expect a brief from both sides regarding a possible dismissal.”

On the way out, the district attorney bumped into me intentionally. “Don’t think you won,” he said. I didn’t have a response ready before he disappeared into the halls of the court.

“That guy is a moron,” Vick said. “They let anyone into law school these days. Let’s walk to your car and talk.”

I put an arm around Audrey to guide her out. “Talk about what?” I asked.

“I didn’t want to bring it up because I didn’t know how that rotten prosecutor might respond if he was cornered before I was positive. But I think we have an open and shut case for dismissal.”

“Why?” Audrey asked.

“Another young woman was strangled, found this morning. Similar modus operandi. Strangled, dead in an open door. I don’t know much else about it, but I overheard talk at the police department. With the paper thin evidence…”