A Killer Collection
completely replaced. No longer
obscured by the classified section, the necks of two large pottery jugs jutted
out from their nest. The rows and rows of packed boxes all contained pottery!
    But why would Hillary Keane keep
all his pottery out here, out of sight? Pottery collectors loved to touch and
see their objects of desire. How had Keane planned to show her his
collection if it was all buried out here in the garage?
    She walked back toward her car and
dialed the office. Swanson's secretary informed her that he was home with a
cold and gave her his home number. She knew that there was a good chance her
"sick" boss would be out fishing, but he answered his phone with an
angry grunt.
    "Carl? It's Molly."
    "This better be good,"
he grumbled. "I've got a nasty cold, you know."
    "Sorry to hear that. I'm at
Hillary Keane's house, for our appointment, but he's not here."
    "And what would you like me
to do about that?" Swanson demanded.
    "I'm just checking to make
sure this is the correct day," Molly said carefully.
    "Of course it is!" he
barked. "I talked to him on Thursday, the day before the Burle kiln
opening. He said he was thrilled to be able to show off his collection. Really
wanted to help spread the word about the local potters. Seemed like a decent guy."
    "Well, maybe he had to leave
town. What should I do now?"
    Swanson sighed, "I'll call my
friend and see if he knows what happened to Keane."
    "His name wouldn't be Gil,
would it?" Molly asked.
    "No, it's Bryant. Why?"
    "Keane was supposed to play
golf with Gil on Sunday. There's a note here from him. Apparently, Keane missed
his tee time."
    Uninterested, Swanson replied,
"Ah, that's where I'm going right now. I need something to get my
mind off of this cold."
    Molly hung up and returned to her
sweltering car. As she reversed down the driveway, the house seemed to be
watching her through the streaked sunlight. It seemed especially silent on its
lonely hill. Molly suddenly remembered how George-Bradley had cut in front of
Keane at C. C.'s kiln opening. The look of outrage in Keane's eyes was
unforgettable. Had George-Bradley stepped on Keane's toes more than once? Molly
had a strong feeling that something was wrong in Hillary Keane's life, and it
wasn't more serious than a head cold.
    One thing she felt with conviction.
Whatever had caused Hillary Keane's absence was linked to those boxes of
pottery.
     
    ~~~~~
     
    On the ride home, Molly called her mother to see if she
wanted to go out for dinner. Clara was settled in a lounge chair reading. She
sat up lazily and reached for the phone; only her interest in hearing about
Hillary Keane's collection could tear her away from the mystery she was
reading.
    "How's Lord Menes
doing?" Molly asked after the novel's hunky Egyptian hero. She had already
plowed through the series of five books.
    "Handsome as ever. Every
other paragraph is about his tan, muscular torso. I can't stand it."
    "What will you do once you're
finished?"
    Her mother sighed longingly.
"I'll just have to reread all the Horatio Hornblower books to keep me
satisfied. How was your interview?"
    "Didn't happen."
    "What do you mean?"
    Molly told her mother about her
visit to Hillary Keane's. Clara listened, frowning in thought.
    "The pottery was packed in
cardboard boxes?" Clara asked, completely perplexed. "What's the
point of having such beautiful and interesting pieces of art hidden from
view?"
    "Maybe Keane just liked to
hoard stuff. My boss said he sounded like a nice enough guy when they talked on
the phone," Molly said.
    "It's the South. Everyone
sounds kind and cordial on the phone. Doesn't mean they can't snap at you like
a rabid dog if duly provoked."
    'True, but I may never find out.
Carl is trying to locate Keane and will call me back tonight."
    "What are we doing for
dinner?" Molly heard the sound of fabric stretching and imagined Clara
leaning all the way back on her lounge chair, her long legs crossed as she set
her novel aside. "It's too hot to cook.

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