K is for Killer Page 89

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When I'd finished, I pulled out the transcript and sat down on the bed, using Danielle's phone to try Hector at his home number. He answered promptly.

"This is Kinsey here. I'm glad I caught you at home. I thought you might be on your way to the studio."

"Not this early, and today not at all. I work Saturday through Wednesday, so Thursday and Friday nights are usually my weekend. Last night was an exception, but I try to keep those to a minimum. I got hot plans tonight. I give Beauty a bath, and then she gives me one. You got the transcript, I take it."

"Yeah, and I'm sorry I missed you. I was in the shower when you dropped it off." We spent a few minutes commiserating with one another about the poor quality of the tape recording. "What'd you make of it?"

"Not much. I picked up a couple of words, but nothing that made any sense."

"You have any idea what they're talking about?"

"Nope. Lorna sounds upset with him, is mostly what I pick up."

"You're sure it's Lorna?"

"I couldn't swear, but I'm pretty sure it was her."

"What about the guy?"

"I didn't recognize his voice. Doesn't sound like anyone I'm familiar with. You ought to listen again yourself and see what you hear. Maybe we can take turns filling in the missing pieces like a jigsaw puzzle."

"We don't have to make it our life's work," I said. "I'm not even sure it's relevant, but I'll have another go at it when I get home." I glanced down at the annotated transcript. "What about this word deify. That seems odd, doesn't it? Deify who?"

"I wasn't real sure about that one, but it's the only word I could think of. Phrase I keep running through my head is that business about 'she goes in at the same time every day.' I don't know what the hell that's about."

"And why 'stubby'? Lorna says that, I think."

"Well, this may sound odd, but I'll tell you the hit I got on that. I don't think she's using 'stubby' as an adjective. There's a guy here in town with the nickname Stubby. She could be talking about him."

"That's an interesting possibility. This was someone she knew?"

"Presumably. His real name is John Stockton. Call him Stubby because he's a little short fat guy. He's a developer-"

"Wait a minute," I cut in. "I just heard that name. I'm almost sure Clark Esselmann referred to him… assuming there's only one. Is he a member of the Colgate Water Board?"

Hector laughed. "Whoa, no chance. They'd never let him on the board. Talk about a conflict of interests. He'd vote himself into half a dozen get-rich schemes."

"Oh. Then it's probably not related. Was she talking to or about him?"

"About him, I'd guess. Actually, there could be some marginal connection. Stockton would have to apply to the water board if he were trying to get a permit for some kind of development. Since Lorna 'baby-sat' with Esselmann, she might have heard about Stubby in passing."

"Yeah, but so what? In a town like this, you hear about a lot of things, but that doesn't get you killed. How hard is it to get a permit?"

"It's not hard to apply, but with the current water shortage, it'd take a hell of a project to get them to say yes."

I said, "Well." I ran the idea around a couple of laps, but it didn't seem to produce any insights. "I don't know how that pertains. If they're talking about water, it might tie in somehow with 'she goes in at the same time every day.' Maybe that reference is to swimming. I know Lorna jogged, but did she also swim?"

"Not that I ever heard. Besides, if the guy's talking to Lorna, why refer to her as 'she'? He's gotta be talking about someone else. And Stockton doesn't have anything to do with swimming pools. He does malls and subdivisions," he said. "With a phrase like that, they could be talking about work. She goes in 'to work' at the same time every clay. Or she goes in 'to bed' at the same time every day."

"True. Oh, well. Maybe something will occur to us if we give it a rest. Anything else strike you?" I asked.

"Not really. Just that Lorna sounded pissed."

"I thought so, too, which is why I listened so carefully. Whatever the guy's saying, she didn't like it a bit."

"Ah, well. Like you say, if it's ever going to make any sense, you'll probably have to leave it alone for a while. If I have a brainstorm, I'll give you a buzz."

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