It was Millicent’s case from the beginning, something Rue didn’t quite mind once he heard the woman sobbing from her seat beside Mrs. DeLange’s desk, the sound carrying through his firmly shut door. Rue could imagine the racket ratting the window panes and closed his eyes in an attempt to block it out.
Millicent’s cases pay the bills, he reminded himself, as his annoyance built and he briefly considered breaking their partnership, returning to the familiar solitude of solo PI practice. Dawayne Mathewson’s fat roll of money had only gone so far.
Irritably, Rue clicked through his email finding nothing but a few chip shots, easy cases that he could open and close in the course of an afternoon, some without even leaving his desk. And so Rue eavesdropped instead, tilting his chair back, propping his feet up and pouring himself a fortifying glass of smooth bourbon.
“…six months ago,” the woman explained, finally securing to get a hold of herself, “He’d just turned eleven.”
A quiet pause followed the words and Rue smiled to himself – he could practically hear Millicent’s sympathetic nod, the kind pat on the hand.
“It’s been tough, you know? These things are never expected, one day your son is playing on the computer with his friends and the following day you’re getting a phone call from some officer with ‘bad news.’”
“Did they know it was your son right away or did you have to go in?” Millicent’s voice was throaty and dark, a hint of brokenness that bespoke the natural, kindred understanding of a woman or that cold she was recently getting over. Three ex-deceased husbands and no children, in her line of work it was likely the latter, but it gave good effect. Rue snorted into his drink, his brain sifting through the remaining sob story: kids had been playing hockey on a pond they oughtn’t have due to an early spring thaw, three fell in and one died – hers apparently. Funeral, burial, moving on, grief counseling, blah, blah, blah…
Not that Rue Dobbs was a callous person, not in the least. He’d just gotten supremely good at blocking out most empathy. He’d learned at an early age that most people were crap. Leave the weeping and wringing of hands to the sainted sympathizers like dear Mrs. Millicent, he had work to do and giving a sad smile and hug to every hard luck Harry who walked in would just get in the way. The thoughts goading him back to work, Rue slid his keyboard over to his lap and, opening his Inbox once more, he turned his talents to righting the wrongs caused by cheaters, liars, and thieves, making the world a more livable place in his own way.