The Wrong Girl

 

I drew this sketch for another story, but it matches my image of Barney Parmenter. The sketch I completed fits the third, and final, episode better. I haven't written it yet.  (Monte Dutton sketch)
I drew this sketch for another story, but it matches my image of Barney Parmenter. The sketch I completed fits the third, and final, episode better. I haven’t written it yet. (Monte Dutton sketch)

             This Episode Two of a short story. One more remains. The first was “A Bit Sketchy on the Details.” I went back and revised the first episode slightly to adjust for a decision to change the plot a bit. Once it’s done, I’ll post the entire short story in one take. Thanks for reading it.

Sheriff Wade Beaufort personally handled the interrogation of Ladson McKoy, who told him he’d awakened in Fort Worth expecting to be in Denton, that he’d whispered the gal goodbye, and hoofed it out to the interstate. He said it was in the Stockyards, and it was the second floor above a honky tonk that had a staircase that led down to the street, and, yes, he reckoned he could show them where it was if they took him back down there. He said he couldn’t even remember the gal’s name, but he was positively sure she’d been alive, if sleepy, when he’d walked out the door.

“They ain’t nobody who’d try to frame you, Troy?”

“Not as I know of,” he replied, “but I reckon they couldn’t’ve done no better job if they hadda.”

“I reckon not.”

Someone knocked on the door.

“Come in,” Beaufort said.

It was a deputy sheriff, carrying a cell phone. He explained that the phone had been on Ladson McKoy’s person.

“I thought you might be interested in the text messages that have been coming in.” He handed Beaufort the phone.

They most recent ones had messages like, Ladson, are you there? and, Honey, are you alrite? Call me, and, the first ones had racier themes: Ladson, I wanna play some more ball. I wanna be receiver, and, The tingling sez I need some more of you, sugar.

“Explain these, Ladson.” Beaufort handed him the phone. McKoy studied them, and the more he studied, the wider his smile.

“Sheriff, uh, I believe that’s the gal I woke up with this morning, and, I believe, she ain’t nowhere near dead,” he said, and the fear of God had been replaced by a face that was hard to keep straight.

“Call her,” Beaufort said. “Right now. Tell her I want to speak to her.”

It took McKoy a while to figure out how to reply to a text with a call, but the cell finally started beeping, and the call went through.

“Ladson, baby, where were you? What took you so long?”

“Well, honey, last few hours, I been in jail. Seems like the police got it in their heads that you been killed and I’m the one what done it.”

“What the …?”

“I’m gonna put the Sheriff of Cooke County on the line – his name’s Wade Beaufort – and I want you to confirm that you’s still alive, and, therefore, I ain’t kilt nobody. You reckon you’n do ‘at fuh me?”

McKoy cupped his hand over the phone. “I still can’t remember her name,” he whispered, and shrugged his shoulders.

In spite of the seriousness of this matter, Sheriff Beaufort had to chuckle a little himself.

“Yes, ma’am, this is Sheriff Beaufort, and you are?”

“Megan Lefebvre, L-E-F-E-B-V-R-E. It’s pronounced luh fever, though.”

“Well, Megan Lefebvre, you can confirm that Ladson McKoy was with you last night?” Beaufort said the name out loud for McKoy’s benefit.

“Yes, sir. He was.”

“And you spent the night in each other’s company?

“That we did, Sheriff.”

Beaufort talked with her about five more minutes, taking down her name, address, and phone number, and telling her to stay where she was, and he was satisfied a detective from the Fort Worth Police Department would be in contact with her in the next few minutes. After he’d ascertained from Miss Lefebvre that she and Mr. McKoy had no knowledge of an apparent homicide that took place nearby, he handed the phone back to McKoy.

“Thanks a heap, Megan,” McKoy said into the phone. “I’ll be to see you after while. Yeah. Love you, darling. Bye.”

McKoy looked at the sheriff. “Well, what’s next?”

“Let me get on the phone, Troy, talk to them in Fort Worth. You go back, sit a spell, we’ll put you back in a cell for a few minutes, and, soon as I get it approved, I reckon we’ll be letting you go.”

“Thank you, Sheriff. You know I ain’t no murderer.” McKoy walked out. A jailer escorted him back to his cell.

Beaufort watched him go, standing in the door with the deputy sheriff, who’d been standing there without saying a word since he walked in with the phone.

“Ladson McKoy,” the Sheriff said to the deputy. “That boy sure did know how to play ball.”

 

Barney Parmenter bided his time doing menial tasks so that he could think. He didn’t do much but feed the cows, but that gun in the console might as well been a half pint of acid in his belly. He came back to the house sweating, but he didn’t go inside the house. He sat down on the porch. The sun was starting to descend to the horizon, and Parmenter had to go back up to the jail because he’d told the Sheriff he would. He was trying to decide what he was going to do about the gun.

He was just about to get up and crank up the truck when he heard the sound of someone turning off the road. It was Ladson McKoy’s old Ford, and Parmenter wondered why in the world someone from the Sheriff’s Department was coming to leave it at his place. He didn’t even consider that McKoy might be driving it.

McKoy got out, waved, and walked up on the porch. He sat in the rocking chair just like the one Parmenter was occupying.”

“Well?”

“I just figured it was right obvious what question I had,” Parmenter said, “so’s I’d just wait for you to answer it.”

“They let me go. They didn’t just get the wrong man. They got the wrong girl. The gal I spent the night with, she ain’t dead. Whole time I was behind bars, she was burning up my phone with text messages. They come in, asking about it, so I called her, and it turns out the murder was on the next block down the street.

“I reckon you still got my gun.”

“Yep,” Parmenter said. “All I done was touch it. It’s still setting there in the console of the truck. That’s what I was doing. Setting here thinking about it.”

“I misjudged you, Barney.”

“How’s that?”

“I figured you’d turn that pistol in once you find it.”

“Well, I hadn’t ruled it out. Wade told me to come back up there, that he needed to talk to me. I been putting it off ever since I left the Whataburger.”

“I knew I didn’t kill nobody. I figured once they had, you know, a ballistics report, they’d find out it wasn’t my gun that shot nobody. I don’t reckon it’s been fired in a week.”

“Why come you had it?”

“Aw, I just carry one with me. It ain’t unusual.”

“Well, that’s good to hear,” Parmenter said. “I reckon the Sheriff really don’t need to talk with me no more. I guess I’ll go back up there, anyway, just so’s he can tell me that.

“I just got one question, Troy.”

“Shoot.”

“How did that pistol get in my console?”

“I seen them police cars,” McKoy said. “When you stopped, there in the parking lot, I seen them deputies inside starting to stir. I didn’t know what was going on, but I knowed a man carrying a gun on him, getting out a truck, he’s liable to get hisself shot, so when you looked out the window, I slipped her in the that center console, got out.”

Parmenter didn’t remember that as being quite right. He remembered Troy getting out of the truck, and then the cops closing in. The more he thought about it, it seemed more likely that Troy would have slipped that gun out of his grocery and into console when they were at the McDonald’s drive-through, and if that’s when it happened, Troy had to have known he was in trouble. Parmenter wasn’t altogether sure, though, and he saw no need to say anything.

“Well, I appreciate you trusting me, Barney,” McKoy said. “I’ll just pick up my gun and mosey on back down to Fort Worth. I owe Miss Megan Lefebvre a favor, too. I’ll be back to see you in a day or so. Again, I appreciate what you done for me.”

“Well, drive safe, Ladson. Take care of your damn self a little better.”

“I reckon I better. I gotta go.”

“I don’t reckon it’ll be all that hard trying to make it up to that gal.”

“Nah.” McKoy smiled. “I’ll manage.”

              In a little over a year, I’ve posted 27 short stories here. My non-fiction blogs are at www.montedutton.com, and you can examine and buy my books – two are novels, The Intangibles and The Audacity of Dope – here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

 

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