The Body in the Pool
Book One of the Dismember Killer Series
Chapter Twenty Two
In a rare late afternoon sun, Melanie, Barnes, and Spence met on the patio of a dive bar outside the Shadow Brook neighborhood.
Beer in hand, Melanie groused, “These people.”
“Worse. I have never met so many people who don’t work and still need a full household staff to take care of things.”
“And they all, they’re all, just…” Melanie stopped speaking and took a deep breath.
“I met one or two with class,” Spence commented. “Not any that knew the Paulson’s. Did you find that?”
“Massive case of isolation going on up there,” Melanie agreed.
“Why is that? Clearly, the Paulsons had money.”
Barnes cleared his throat. “Maybe that was the problem. A little too flash with the money.”
Spence tipped his beer bottle at Barnes. “I saw a lot of old money today. I saw an effing Degas hanging in someone’s hallway.”
“Sharp contrast to Arlene’s fur coat and label heavy wardrobe,” Melanie commented. She drained her beer. “Listen, I’ve got to put in some family face time. Are you going into the office tomorrow?”
“We’re waiting on a lot of reports, take the day. I’ll work on a few things from home.”
“Like what?” Barnes asked.
“I want to take a close look at what the Paulsons are spending their money on. How much they go through each month.”
“I’ll get into that if you like. Seahawks aren’t playing until four, I can get through a lot of bank statements before then.” Barnes took a drink of his beer. “You should spend the day with your wife, while you still have one you like.”
Spence choked on a bit of lager sliding down the wrong pipe as he laughed with Barnes and Melanie.
The reality of Barnes’s life was close to the mark for most cops. A string of ex-wives who all thought a cop was sexy and dangerous until they married him and started to resent the long hours and tense undertones of their life. Spence hoped he and Tess could do better.
He texted her before he left the bar and grill. Should I pick up dinner?
Her response was swift. Coming home before five? What’s the special occasion?
Spence smiled and waited. Her second text was close on the first. I really want sushi but I know that won’t fly. What’s close?
Bar food it is.
Spence was thrilled to see Tess in her easy chair, feet up, TV on when he got home. She had rested after she left the office. He kissed her hello and held up the food bag. “I’ll serve you here.”
“Thank you. What did I do to deserve such royal treatment?”
“That info from Magda was pretty helpful.”
“Was it?” Tess smiled.
Spence saw a little reaction in his wife’s face, around her eyes maybe. “What?”
Tess giggled. “You know I think it’s appropriate to follow up, a little text thank you for lunch, a call for dinner, a card for a gift.”
Spence had no idea where this was going, “Uh huh.” He patted Butch’s head as the dog leaned into his leg.
“I texted Magda to say thanks for lunch. There was a little back and forth and then all of a sudden she’s steaming mad because Matt canceled their dinner plans. He needed to go to a meeting at the nightmare client.” Tess made quote signs with her fingers around the word nightmare.
“Tess, you were supposed to stay out of this.”
“I can’t help it if people tell me things.”
Spence took a deep breath. He sat down on the couch next to Tess’s chair and removed cardboard boxes from the bag. He opened her meal and handed it to her. “Got a drink?”
Spence opened his own box and put his feet up on the coffee table. “What are we watching?”
“Property Brothers rerun.” Tess took a sip of water. “Know anyone who could take a peek at what’s going on at the Academy?”
Spence jabbed a french fry into mayonnaise and replied, “Maybe,” before stuffing it into his mouth. Setting down the to-go box, Spence fished his cell phone from his pocket. He texted Tom. Did you get a contact number for that swing shift guard?
Tom replied back, It should be in the system.
I’m not at the office Sherlock.
Spence’s phone rang a minute later and he answered with a grin. “Hey.”
“What do you need Mike for?”
“There may or may not be a top secret board meeting going down at the Academy tonight.”
“Mike’s not working,” Tom replied. “I’ll call him anyway. We had a rapport.”
“Let me know,” said Spence. Tess was pulling at his arm, mouthing words at him. To Tom he said, “Hang on a sec.” To Tess he asked, “What?”
Tess reached for the phone. “Hey Tom. Are you free for brunch tomorrow?”
“Are you cooking?”
“I wish I could. What about that biker bar on the far side of the lake? 1030?”
“Anything the lady likes.”
Tess handed the phone back to Spence, who told Tom, “Guess I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Tom laughed, “Guess so.”
As he hung up and returned the phone to his pocket, his left eyebrow rose an inch in question.
“You two need to talk.”
“We talk all the time,” Spence said in an offhand manner.
“Um, no. After the whole paper thing? Have you even talked about that?”
“It was yesterday, Tess.”
“Sooner talked about, sooner mended.”
“You sound like my grandmother. Next thing I know you’ll be telling me wool gathering is only useful if you’re a sheep herder.”
Tess threw a fry at him with a laugh.