When it mattered, Rue told the truth. Was addicted to it. No, that wasn’t quite right. Rue Dobbs loved the soul of the truth. The reasons behind why people acted the way they did. Lies were truthful. Purposeful admission – same thing. Rue indulged in both heartily as he caught his pal Mackey up on the situation. The cop was a good one, a man Rue had admittedly enjoyed working with on the occasions where their paths crossed, but he played it straight and was therefore susceptible to Rue’s purposeful misdirections and slight-overemphasis of certain facts. It didn’t take much effort to convince Mackey, for instance, that Dawayne’s girlfriend and daughter needed immediate and subtle protection. As to the elusive driver…
“Some clues fade pretty fast and by the time you’d have come ‘round to guessing foul play, half of your already tenuous evidence would have been destroyed,” Rue explained, enjoyed herself now that he had a captive and attentive audience, “That the driver accelerated rather than attempted to brake as she jumped the curb is telling in the marks of the tires even if your eyewitnesses are so simple as to say ‘I heard a screech’ and can’t remember that it preceded an engine rev and cracking thump as it hit my cl- as it hit the victim. Stolen: well, honestly, who commits murder with their own car? Besides, the seat had been adjusted from its usual spot very recently… to accommodate a woman of short stature. And the pressure marks on the driver’s side mat were from lady’s heels – the regular driver appears to prefer wider, flat, manly shoes. And as for latex gloves-“ he made a grimace “-you could taste it on the wheel.”
“You licked the steering wheel?” Mackey was incredulous.
“Well, now, I was peering to see if our perp had left any helpful prints. Doubtful, but had to be sure. And bending in, I could smell the latex and confirmed it with a quick taste. As I said, your evidence – and perp – would have been long gone by the time you figured out it wasn’t an accident what killed Dawayne Mathewson.”
They found the gloves in a nearby alley when they combed the scene for clues. And, stroke of luck, they were able to glean a print. Their mystery driver, it would seem, was not in their system, however, making their first break a rather severe disappointment.
Rue stood staring at his whiteboard, brandy in hand, tie askew and barefoot. Millicent had left a good three hours before, finally giving up on the impossible PI after he refused both food and rest for the third day in a row. Subsisting on alcohol and cigarettes, the man wasn’t trying to be a pain in the ass, merely Rue …how do I put this… When a case was at a standstill, Rue enjoyed being hungry. That rumbling, gnawing sensation in his middle so match the hunger in his brain that he always claimed greater mental acuity. Millicent had chalked it up to simple dramatics, offered her help on the case, and then shut the door for the night when she got nowhere with him.
Draining the glass, Rue stumbled into the desk chair he’d pulled up behind him, eyes still on the web of notes and theories scribbled, taped, and drawn onto his board. The marks had finally begun their dizzy dance before his soggy brain and Rue quickly deposited his still burning cigarette into the waiting ashtray before leaning back and releasing his mind to the whimsy of alcohol-induced inspiration. Starting at the wall with drowsy regard, Rue absently wondered if this was how super-computers felt, their firing synapses lubricated with ample supplies of time, patience, and a certain detachment. He felt as if he’d systematically gone through every obvious explanation once, now it was time for the un-obvious. Half-rising to alter his notes, Rue changed his mind as a wave of dizzy nausea swept over him.
Best not to move just yet, he reasoned, peering at the board and mentally trying to block out the details he’d sought to suppress a moment ago.
He woke to the loud slap of papers hitting the desk. Head snapping forward, Rue looked wildly about the office, finding an amused but rather stern looking Mrs. DeLange.
He’d spent another night at the office.
Rue, of course, saw this as a good thing, a sign of his dedication. He smiled winningly to Millicent who wore a red theme today. Unfortunately her temper appeared as fiery as her attire.
“Dream up any solutions, Mr. Winkle?” her sarcasm was acidic, not the sort of wake up Rue wanted.
Wincing, for he did feel bad about being stuck without a lead and with no logical course of action – true action, for thinking simply didn’t count, especially as it clearly provided little stimulation at present, Rue sputtered a weak excuse.
“Now, now, Mr. Dobbs. You know better than to blame Ins. Mackey and his guys when they’re the only thing keeping you investigating right now,” she hided, not as harshly as before, though she did not spare him any courtesies as she now went to the window, opening the shades and inviting in the damnable sunlight.
What time was it anyways? Rue valiantly resisted the urge to check his watch, surprised to see Millicent pulling up a chair.
“Do the police still believe Dawayne’s family to be in danger?” she asked, eyes roaming over the board.
Rue nodded, “Until we can figure out who was targeting Dawayne and why, it is the safest course to simply provide a police protective unit. Not the worst option, obviously, but it really emphasizes how inept I am – keeping this case open like this.” He paused and waited while Millicent formulated her response, for her eyes had narrowed as she looked from one corner of the white board to another.
“And you don’t want my help…” she tested the waters.
Rue shook his head, “As you said it is at their behest that I can still practice right now, so admitting that I cannot solve this for them in return would likely jeopardize my chances of getting that promised license. Not to mention my reputation.”
“Mmm…” Millicent’s teeth crawled around the edge of her bottom lip, biting at the perfectly red coloration as she distractedly dealt with a loose piece of chopped skin. “What if…” she ventured, “What if they didn’t know I helped?”
The suggestion was floated so quietly that Rue instinctively leaned in, unsure if he’d heard correctly. Taking the motion as further encouragement, Millicent continued, “A séance. Talk to Dawayne and see if he can help us out. Get us that lead you need…” She could tell he was considering it, “I only offer because I’m sure there’s more Dawayne would have told you had he had more time. We can even do it here if you’d prefer.”
It was the last bit that sold him on the idea. That which gave Rue the heebie-jeebies about Millicent’s work was somehow magnified in his mind by the soft light and perfumed air of Mrs. DeLange’s home. After his first, and so far only, visit to the woman’s apartment, Rue had solemnly promised to put off any future visits for there was just something uncomfortably witchy about that woman when she was in her own element. Yes, they’d hold the séance, but here, on his own turf and his own terms.