“Put a firecracker under those deputies before Louise is forced to get a prescription for anti-anxiety medicine. She had an incident today while she and Myrna were at the thrift store. Not the resale store, the big thrift store. The one where everyone smokes in front of it. Call me.”
As if it wasn’t bad enough I’d have to break the news I’d be with Aunt Ina at a spa, now I prayed Louise’s “incident” didn’t include another shove or worse. I went into the kitchen, poured myself a tall glass of iced tea, and composed myself before returning the call.
“Phee! You got my message. Good. Louise is beside herself. While she and Myrna were shopping in the thrift store, she smelled that same saccharine and smoke smell she detected the morning Billie’s body was found. What did she call it? Oh yes – cloying. Sounds like a word that should be used in one of those Bronte novels. Anyway, it brought back the memory of that awful morning and the poor woman had an anxiety attack right in the middle of the store. Three people offered her their Xanax and another two had lorazepam they wanted to give her.”
“You can say that again. Suffice it to say, Louise didn’t take anything. She just sat and took deep breaths until she felt better. But that’s not the real reason I called.”
Oh dear Lord, help me.
“I, um, er…”
“Myrna had the most ingenious idea. Whatever it was Louise smelled, had to be the same smell from whoever was in the tower with Billie. Maybe a man’s cologne. Maybe a woman’s perfume. So, Myrna came up with The Inhalation. It’s a new plan. Once Louise calms down, we’ll return to the library where it happened, and have her sniff around at the patrons to see if she smells that scent.”
I clenched my fist and tried to stay calm. “I’m not sure that’s going to get you the results you want, and besides, it may get all of you thrown out for annoying the library patrons. Look, the deputies have some decent leads, let them deal with it. Um, by the way, I was going to call you tonight. Uncle Louis has a double gig out of town and Aunt Ina wants me to join her at the Soulful Serenity Spa tomorrow night. It’s in Tucson.”
“Tucson? My sister wants to drag you to Tucson to stay at one of her rejuvenation spas? What’s it this time? Don’t tell me. It’s the place with the Nova Scotian seaweed wrap, isn’t it? Ina was raving about it. Well, if the two of you want to soak in mud and get wrapped up in kelp, who am I to stop you?”
Hmm, she’s taking this much better than I thought.
“Uh, no. Not seaweed wrap. Something about hot stone massages and warm herbal soaks.”
“Massages and soaks?”
“You know what? I think I’ll join you. Those places always allow pets and Streetman deserves a break. I’m calling my sister right now.”
Me and my enormous mouth. Now I’m really sunk.
“Maybe now’s not the best time. What if Louise needs you?”
“Shirley and Lucinda have her for the weekend. Louise will be fine. Did you and your aunt pick a time to head out tomorrow? Never mind, I’ll ask her. I imagine you’re driving since no one wants to be in a vehicle with Ina behind the wheel. Pick Streetman and me up first, then we’ll get your aunt. See you in the morning.”
And, for the second time in the same day, someone ended the call before I could utter a word. The minute I realized the line was dead, I phoned my aunt but her line was busy. Drat! My mother must have had her on speed dial. Now all I could do was try to figure out how I could salvage this mess.
A half hour later, my aunt called and told me we were sunk.
“Did you mention the Wiccans?” I asked.
“Are you kidding? We’ll just deal with it when the time comes. Pick me up at nine-thirty, okay? And make sure your mother’s in the backseat with the dog.”
“No problem. By the time we get to Tucson, all of us will need a nice long soak and an endless massage. The dog’s fine on short trips but moans like nobody’s business if it’s longer than a half hour.”
Just then, I heard my aunt yell, “Louis! Where did you put those noise-cancelling headphones?”
Yep, it was going to be one heck of a ride.
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