JANE CROW, Part 18

Last time on Jane Crow, Jane and Chivas found the latest victim of a Count Augur fortune dead, likely suicide by pills. The only anomaly, though, was a missing salt shaker that Jane recognized as a magical artifact… meaning the victim was a witch!

crowAS THE CROW LIES

Chapter Eighteen

“Look, I couldn’t report that the missing salt shaker was an important clue without revealing it was magical,” I shout-whispered at Lisa Vassey over my phone in the backyard of the crime scene. “Don’t you think it’s more important that I stop whoever is killing people with prophecy than that I preserve Edith Harewicket’s reputation after she’s freaking dead?”

“You were specifically told to withhold the identities of known witches from your тупой Yellow Center. It is one thing if they ferret us out, another entirely if our own betrays us to them!”

“She was dead!” I hissed back. “Not resting. Not stunned. Not pining for the fjords! I made the call that it was relevant to the case. You know, the one about those fortunes you want back so badly?”

“I do not understand all that you say to me, but I do not like the tone you say it in. You lack respect, Janushka.”

“Look, I’m giving you a heads up long before any blowback. The Coven is going to be fine.”

Mrs. Vassey let out a derisive snort. “This is what you think, but there is always ‘blowback.’ There are always consequences.”

“Well, I’ll deal with them as they come my way.”

“I am sure Edith kept a calendar of her activities, you might want to start there, Janushka. See what ‘blowback’ there is.”

I held my tongue. Lisa Vassey was the last person I needed investigation technique advice from. Well, no, that probably was Don Knotts, but Vassey was a close second and at least as old. Assuming Don Knotts wasn’t dead. I didn’t have time to look it up on IMDB. I muttered a terse sign off to Mrs. Vassey and put my phone in my pocket. Chivas had come through the back porch door and walked towards me. He was carrying a cardboard box of evidence bags.

“Sorry, just checking in with my fence to have him keep an eye out for Sleepy.”

“Yeah, I’m going to put Sam on this when I get back. Hills is going to turn up the burner under us now, you know.”

“Because another relic’s gone missing?”

“Because the victim was a practitioner.” Chivas never called us ‘witches.’ It was always ‘practitioner.’ I didn’t know if it was because he was superstitious (well, he was, but I mean about witches specifically) or just polite.

“Hey,” I asked, changing the subject quickly, “did you happen to find her day planner?”

Chivas nodded to the box in his hands. I reached in and fumbled around for something book-shaped. Chivas frowned as he held the box as still as he could. I pulled out a spiral planning notebook with a cute shih-tzu on the cover on my first pick.

“We can check that when we get back and do our reconstruct,” Chivas said. I was already pulling the ziploc bag open with my rubber gloved fingers.

“This doesn’t add up,” Chivas said as I rummaged through the book, looking for this month’s entries. “If Mrs. Harewicket had such an extensive magical collection–which Hills has already seized as evidence, you know?” I didn’t. The beginning of the blowback was apparently already, um, blowing. Chivas continued. “Why didn’t she have any protections on it? Occult or mundane… even a lock would’ve seemed appropriate. And if she was already dead, why only take the one piece? I want to cross-reference the missing shaker with the knife and the fortunes. See if there’s some sort of crossover in magical pedigree that ties them together.”

“Oh, crap,” I said.

“What?” Chivas asked.

I was looking at Edith Harewicket’s agenda for tomorrow. Written in a persnickety hand for ten a.m. was “Read to children – City Lights.”

“Does that mean something to you?” Chivas pressed.

“Yeah,” I said. “It’s… it’s where my sister works.”

“Is this the sister you saw yesterday while I was at the coroner’s?” he asked, and I felt my face go bright red.

“How…” I stammered.

“I’m a detective, Jane, and a good one. I keep telling you that, but you still seem to think I’m some kind of Barney Fife.”

Okay, that part was just eerie.

“Sorry,” I said. “I… my sister and I don’t get along well. I didn’t know if it was going to cause a problem.”

“Jane, one of these days you’re going to have to trust me. I’m your partner. We cover for each other, not the other way around.”

I didn’t quite know how that parsed, but I knew what he meant. To my discredit, I kind of glossed over the paternal advice because I was still in “get caught panic mode” trying to figure out how he had known about lunch. That was going to bug me for hours until I figured it out.

“Sorry, Chivas,” I said. “I know I’m screwed up where family is concerned. I’ll try to let you in on it next time.” An important rule of lying is compartmentalizing. “I lie” becomes “I lie about family” or “I lie about my sister” and it can actually be a smoke screen for getting away with other lies if you play it right from the beginning. The thing I wanted to avoid here was Chivas considering that I lied about work. I made a promise to myself to be more careful with my partner from here on.

“You mean tomorrow at ten?” he asked.

“Huh?”

“The next time. When we interview your sister tomorrow at ten about Edith Harewicket.”

Oh.

Blowback.

This was going to be harder than I thought.

JANE CROW will return January 8, 2014! Join us here next Wednesday for the premiere of IMPERMANENT RECORD!

© 2013 by Douglass Barre, All Rights Reserved.

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