Chapter 52 - Family Matters

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Frank went out to his car and waited in the parking lot, sitting in the darkness for at least half an hour after Rebecca drove away. He checked his watch periodically, looking on as guests filed in and out of the motel rooms. He was careful not to make a sound. Finally, he drove out and took the side streets across Santa Ramona, weaving around in a way designed to flush out anyone who might be following him.

Finally, forty-five minutes after he left the motel, he arrived at the parking lot of Saint Jude’s Church. In the darkness, the moonlight reflected off the rippling waters of the fountain. He crossed the street to Millie’s house, paying her another late, unplanned visit, as he had three nights ago after his last encounter with Detective Little.

Millie answered the door and led Frank into the kitchen, serving him a cup of coffee and setting out a plate of chocolate chip cookies.

“Millie, the last time I was here you told me that you don’t know where they are. I think you know more than you’re letting on. I need to meet Stella and Johnny face-to-face. I need to show them that I’ve changed and tell them what their options are. If they keep running and hiding, they face great danger. Lester Cummings will continue to hunt them down.”

“What do you suggest they do, Frank? Run to the police? You think they’ll get a fair shake for everything that has happened? They’ll be behind bars for eternity.”

“Coming in might be their best option. At least it will keep them alive. And it might not mean going to jail forever. The cops will be willing to make a deal. Johnny’s a kid, so he could start over. Mom could get leniency, considering her health and the stress that drove her to this. And I found out that the D. A. wants to take down Lester. They’ve been investigating this guy for years. Mom and Johnny could exchange what they know about his operations, if it would help the D. A. make a case. I might be able to help as well.”

Millie shook her head and shrugged. She impulsively grabbed a cookie. “I don’t think Stella would go for it in a million years. And if she refused, then Johnny wouldn’t do it, either.”

“I am not saying they have to do it. But they should know what their options are. They should have a clear picture of the risk and the opportunities. And no matter what they decide, I want them to know I will be there for them. I want to make up for lost time. Can you help me?” he asked, finishing the last cookie on the plate. “Please give me a chance to meet with them. I know you can help make this happen.”

“I can’t tell you where they are. But I know who can. They have a direct contact, supporting them from here in the city.”

“Who is it?”

“Elmer Dillinger.”

“Elmer! He’s involved in this, too? I should have guessed as much. Let’s go see him.”

“He’s not home now. I can leave a message for him, and perhaps arrange a meeting tomorrow night at Saint Jude’s Church. He knows where they are.”

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