Chapters 4 & 5

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Chapter 4

November 24, 2000

 

We sat quietly by as May helped McGruder out of the house. Once the door was closed however, Preacher stood and made his way to the door, easing the curtain aside slightly as he watched the man head toward his car.

"That-was-freaky!" Abby stated exuberantly, her eyes still on the doorway as if she too were following his progress.

By then May was standing beside me, her hand on my shoulder.

"You don't believe him Abby?" May questioned.

"I have to believe most of what he said," Abby said with a shrug, "Because it was the truth."

"It's what he didn't say that worries me," Preacher mumbled as he watched the car pull away from the house. "He's gone."

Glancing at me with a questioning glance, I nodded.

Returning my nod, he quickly opened the door and exited the kitchen.

"Where's he going?" May asked.

"To follow McGruder," Abby stated quietly, her eyes still on the kitchen door.

"You guys don't trust him," May exhaled quietly when she realized what was happening...a statement not a question.

I put my hand over hers and turned to look up at her. "Trust is a big deal in our business May, and he laid a huge amount of information on us without really telling us anything."

May nodded distractedly. I think she had been so excited that McGruder was offering something exhilarating for me to do that she never gave a thought to whether he was on the up and up.

"May?"

She looked down at me and smiled, her reverie broken.

"You ok?"

Taking her chair beside me, she patted my hand. "Yes Gabe, I had just assumed that you would jump at his offer. But I can see now that the wise move is to be suspicious until you can confirm some things."

Turning toward me, her blue eyes glowed as she smiled. "I'm just afraid however, that your normal system of checks won't work very well on this particular man."

As if confirming May's prediction, Preacher came back into the house at that moment, his face a mask of frustration.

"I lost the son of a bitch!"

           

***

"You lost him?" Abby exclaimed. "But he just left!"

"I am aware," Preacher responded tightly as he picked up his cup and moved toward the coffee maker.

"I saw him drive off. When I got to the street I could see him a block away. By the time I got my car rolling, he had his signal on to turn right. At the end of the block he turned, and thirty seconds later I did the same."

"And he was gone?" I asked, perplexed.

"Disappeared off the face of the earth...like one of those huge elephants on a TV magic show."

I went over the area in question in my head. Heading west on my street, McGruder would have ended up on Nowlin Avenue. Turning right would have taken him north on Nowlin...basically a two-lane county road out of town. There were few roads to turn off of for the next quarter mile, and the road was fairly straight...you can see almost a half mile ahead at that point.

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