Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Episode 10

Claire's House

By the time Claire Monroe got home, all she wanted to do was put her feet up and enjoy a glass of wine in peace and quiet. Biff was out for the evening (whatever that meant these days), so she didn't have to worry about dinner for him. Cheese and crackers would be enough for her, maybe a few celery sticks so she had something sort of healthy. She'd eaten spaghetti in the hospital cafeteria during her three o'clock lunch break. She wasn't hungry now. Just tired. Two double shifts this week had taken a toll. She wasn't as young as she used to be. Back in the day, she could work a double, go to her classes at nursing school, and head back to the hospital with only three hours of sleep.

There had been a price to pay for that, however. She hadn't always been there for Biff. Claire felt guilty about that, but what choice did she have? Getting pregnant at seventeen had been a total game-changer. Her parents had never forgiven her. They moved away to escape the humiliation she'd brought on them, and they'd never looked back. Never tried to contact her. Didn't care about Biff.

Claire had raised her son as best she could, which had been rough on them both. Between the ages of 8 and 18, Biff had been a handful. Rebellious, angry, and too smart for his own good.

She had just settled herself on the sofa, feet propped on the ottoman, glass of merlot at her side, when the doorbell rang. Unexpected visitors after eight at night were not welcome. Reluctantly, she roused herself, prepared to be nasty to whoever was inconsiderate enough to disturb her.

Annoyance was replaced by fear when she opened the door to Chief Donati.

"John? What's wrong? Is Biff all right?" Claire felt the blood drain from her face.

"Hi, Claire." The police chief stood with his hat in hand. He had a sweet smile, but his eyes looked worried. "Biff's fine, as far as I know."

The two of them stood staring at each other while the air between them thickened with tension.

"Can I come in for a minute?"

"Business or pleasure?"


Claire stood aside and Donati walked into the house.

It was a small place and not much to look at from the outside, but Donati noticed the living room was tidy and inviting. He wished this were a social call. Maybe one day he'd get up the courage to see if Claire would have dinner with him, but right now, there were police matters to attend to.

"Biff's not home?"

"No. Why?" Claire's eyes narrowed, and the tension in her face was replaced with a harder expression.

Donati didn't like what he was about to say. "You heard about the body found over at the Adams' place?"


"Biff's business card was found on the guy."

"So what? Biff hands those cards out to everybody."

"Well, I agree it doesn't mean much on its own, but the thing is...we got an anonymous tip that Biff was seen coming through the woods behind the Adams' property pretty close to the time this guy, Lassiter, was killed. I need to ask him some questions."

"Are you kidding me?  He's been back in town three weeks, and the first thing that happens you figure it has to be his fault?"

"I'm sorry, Claire." Donati reached out to touch her arm.

"Just leave," she said, shrugging away from him.

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