E Is for Evidence

E Is for Evidence by Sue Grafton

Book: E Is for Evidence by Sue Grafton Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sue Grafton
disappeared into a back corridor where the old files are kept. She returned a few minutes later with the affidavit in hand. Lyda Case's Social Security number was neatly filled in. As a bonus, I also picked up her date of birth. I started laughing at the sight of it. The clerk smiled and I knew from the look we exchanged that she felt as I did about some things. I love information. Sometimes I feel like an archaeologist, digging for facts, uncovering data with my wits and a pen. I made notes, humming to myself. Now I could go to work.
    I went home again and picked up the phone, redialing the Bartenders Local in Santa Teresa.
    "Local Four-Ninety-eight," the woman said. "Oh, hi," said I. "Who am I speaking to, please?" "I'm the administrative assistant," she said primly. "Perhaps you'll identify yourself."
    "Oh, sorry. Of course. This is Vicky with the Chamber of Commerce. I'm addressing invitations for the annual
    Board of Supervisors dinner and I need your name, if you'd be so kind."
    There was a dainty silence. "Rowena Feldstaff," she said, spelling it out for me carefully.
    "Thank you."
    I dialed Texas again. The phone on the other end rang four times while two women in teeny, tiny voices laughed about conditions in the Inky Void. Someone picked up.
    "Hotel and Restaurant Employees Local Three-Five-Three. This is Mary Jane. Can I he'p you?" She had a soft voice and a mild Texas accent. She sounded like she was about twenty.
    "You sure can, Mary Jane," I said. "This is Rowena Feldstaff in Santa Teresa, California. I'm the administra-tive assistant for Bartenders Local Four-Ninety-eight and I'm trying to do a status check on Lyda Case. That's C-A-S-E…"Then I rattled out her date of birth and her Social Security number, as though from records of my own.
    "Can I have a number so I can call you back?" said the ever-cautious Mary Jane.
    "Sure," I said and gave her my home phone.
    Within minutes, my phone rang again. I answered as Bartenders Local 498, and Mary Jane very kindly gave me Lyda Case's current place of employment, along with the address and phone number. She was working at one of the cocktail lounges at the Dallas / Fort Worth airport.
    I called the bar and one of the waitresses told me Lyda would be there at 3:00 Dallas time, which was 1:00 where I was.
    At 1:00, I called back and lost another couple of deci-bels' worth of hearing. Whoo, that lady was quick. I'd have to walk around with a horn sticking out of my ear at this rate.
    If I'd been working off an expense account, I'd have hied myself out to the Santa Teresa airport and jumped on a plane for Dallas. I can be pretty cavalier with someone else's money. My own, I think about first, as I'm very cheap.
    I hopped in my car and drove over to the police sta-tion. Jonah Robb, my usual source of illicit information, was out of town. Sergeant Schiffman, sitting in for him, was not all that swift and didn't really like to bend the rules, so I bypassed him and went straight to Emerald, the black clerk in Records and Identification. Technically she's not supposed to give out the kind of information I needed, but she's usually willing to help if no one's around to catch her.
    I leaned on the counter in the reception area, waiting while she finished typing a department memo. She took her time getting to me, probably sensing that I was up to no good. She's in her forties, with a medium complexion about the color of a cigar. Her hair is cut very short and it curls tensely around her head, a glistening, wet-looking black with gray frizz at the tips. She's probably fifty pounds overweight and it's all solidly packed into her waist, her belly, and her rump.
    "Uh-uhn," she said to me as she approached. Her voice is higher than one would imagine for a woman her size, and it has a nasal cast to it, with just the faintest suggestion of a lisp. "What do you want? I'm almost afraid to ask."
    She was wearing a regulation uniform, a navy-blue skirt and a white short-sleeved blouse that

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