Rue smiled winningly at the tired waitress as she came by once more and topped off his mug. Fiddling with the individually packaged creamers until the woman waddled her footsore self out of earshot, he frowned into his cup, wondering if his dining companion could hear the wheels turning in his brain from her place in the booth opposite his.
Millicent had, miraculously, remained relatively silent in the subsequent minutes following the séance back at the office. One of the things that made her good at her chosen profession was an innate understanding of people. Rue needed to talk through the case – so she stayed silent and simply listened. In the space of time between cleaning up the candles, linens, and mystic symbols dotting her secretarial space and walking the four blocks to Rue’s favorite all-night diner, Millicent had come to feel like a corner of Dobbs’ white-board, she’d received so many case related musings. She resisted checking her arms for evidence of magic-erase marker and sticky notes, however, and now leaned back to receive yet another layer of case-based analysis.
Sure enough, staring at his newly constructed Great Wall of Creamers, Rue grabbed a fact at random and started expounding on it, stretching the implications in impossible directions and generally being illogical and moody. The mysterious “Jack” now morphed from a previously proposed Jacqueline, jilted lover and stalker, into high-powered ex-coworker who now worked at Jack-in-the-Box and had helped Dawayne run his drug dealership at local restaurants before offing her partner-in-crime and fleeing to Tahiti…
“Well, now you’re just being dumb,” Millicent half-laughed, half-scolded. Her natural empathy had allowed for Rue’s initial disheartened reaction to her lead that simply didn’t fit in neatly with the other established facts but she wasn’t going to sit here in the wee hours of the morning, listening while he made fun of her contribution to the case.
“Yeah, well, I’d like to reconcile this Jack, Jacqueline, Jackie business before I waltz into the CPD tomorrow and reveal the sudden remembrance of-”
“Jack,” Millicent corrected, “The murderer’s name is Jack. J-a-c-k.” Her certainty was disconcerting and Rue savagely stabbed at his eggs with a strip of blackened bacon.
“Well, that would narrow the field of suspects quite a bit, then. I’m sure there aren’t too many petite blondes named Jack in the tri-state area,” he muttered rebelliously.
“What if Jack is not a woman?” Millicent ventured, signaling the waitress for more coffee and effectively cutting off Rue’s angry retort.
Barely waiting for the bemused waitstaff to leave the table, Rue leaned forward, “We have her on camera. We’ve clues in the car – the weapon – itself. We’ve three eyewitnesses who saw the driver: short, high heels, long blonde hair…”
Millicent shrugged, “Maybe she’s a he… I dunno, a cross-dresser, transvestite or something.” She raised her eyebrows suggestively, taking a delicate bite of toast. “The theory is no more far-flung than the other tripe you’ve thrown around trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.”
“I-” Rue closed his mouth, blinking in surprise as he realized how deviously clever her suggestion was. Insane, but clever – for the method of murder employed by the perpetrator was obvious and dramatic enough to eventually call for a scan of nearby traffic cams, cameras that the driver couldn’t hope to avoid. And if they donned too obvious a disguise, say a mask of some sort, they’d have been pulled over before reaching their destination.
Which makes all of my leads in the case completely useless, Rue’s face fell as he mentally envisioned the field of suspects widening once more, to encompass basically everyone. He couldn’t very well go in to the CPD and announce they were not looking for a petite blonde woman but some guy whose connections to Dawayne were an unknown but, gee, don’t worry, he’ll probably have a set of heels and a long blonde wig in his possession.
“I need to do more work,” Rue announced suddenly, scooting himself sideways out of the booth, fumbling for his wallet. Counting bills, pinching his face as he did the late night math, Dobbs suddenly realized Millicent was still seated, an arch look on her face as she waited for an explanation. “Oh. Sorry. Were you done then?” the harried PI belatedly recalled his manners, arresting his movement, clearly not inclined to sit once more but aware he ought to.
Satisfied by the hollow gesture of politeness and more than a little amused, Millicent shook her head, “No, I wasn’t. But if you need to go…”
“Thanks,” Rue dashed to the door, not waiting for her to finish. Wrenching the handle and setting the little bells a tinkling, Rue paused and looked back, giving more gravity to his next words, words that clearly cost him to utter, “And, Millicent? Thank you.”