Seven Kinds of Death

Seven Kinds of Death by Kate Wilhelm

Book: Seven Kinds of Death by Kate Wilhelm Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kate Wilhelm
Tags: Mystery
it matters; it doesn’t have a thing to do with what’s going on now. Information, data. Just sorting out things.”
    “Let’s walk,” he said, and for the next few minutes neither of them spoke. They had nearly reached the house when Charlie stopped and put his hand on her arm.
    “Honey, you know, don’t you, that they won’t just let us walk away from this one? I think there are times when I can look into the future without a crystal ball or the Tarot cards, or any other damn gimmick. One of them will ask us to take this on, prove Tootles didn’t do it, find out who did. Bet?”
    She shook her head emphatically. “You know I don’t. Ever.”
    He laughed. “Okay. Want to make book on who will ask? Max?”
    “Maybe,” she said cautiously. “Or maybe Paul Volte.” He looked surprised, and they continued to walk toward the back door of the house. “But, Charlie,” she added, “we can say no. You can say no. You don’t have to hang around and ask questions, or do anything else about this mess.”
    That should have been an option, he knew, but it wasn’t, not really. They would manage to hang this one on Tootles if someone didn’t do something to prevent that, and no one else could be expected to have this deep belief in her innocence—as far as this murder was concerned, he had to add to himself. No, if he believed in fate, karma, any of that stuff, he would have to accept that this was the trap that had opened weeks earlier; finally it was shutting all the way.
    “Check,” he said. “One thing, though. I don’t want to stay in the house even if we hang out for a day or two. Agreed?”
    She nodded. He would have to throttle Ba Ba, and that could be serious. Or she might decide to throttle the woman. “We probably can get a motel room, or a hotel in the village, or something.”
    He snapped his fingers in irritation then. “Damn,” he muttered. “Forgot about that car.” He glowered toward the driveway where a rental car was parked next to their Volvo. “How much would you say it’s worth not to have to drive in to National?”
    “That bad, hm?”
    “Tourist season,” he said. “You wouldn’t believe downtown Washington in the summer.”
    She eyed him curiously. “Why were you downtown?”
    “Never mind,” he said. “Just a little wrong turn, that sort of thing that can happen to anyone at all.”
    “Fifty dollars? Forty? Whatever the kid you ask says he’ll charge,” she said.
    He knew she was right. Some things he refused to bargain over. They both stopped again when Janet appeared with a deputy and got into a taxi. The driver put her suitcase in, and drove off. Janet had looked infinitely relieved; standing in the drive watching the taxi vanish down the road, Toni looked forlorn and miserable. She ducked her head and slouched back into the house.
    Two hours later the state investigator. Lieutenant Belmont, told Constance she was free to go.
    Constance found Charlie on the back porch. “Done,” she said wearily. “Statement accepted, signed, tucked away where maybe no human eye will ever spot it again.”
    “Rubber hoses and all?”
    “On both sides, and bright lights, the works.”
    “Let’s scram. Onward to the village green. You hungry or anything?”
    He drove down the gravel road, crossed the railroad tracks, and came to the state road where he turned left. He was watching the odometer closely. It was nine-tenths of a mile to the gate of the construction fence at the condominium complex. He slowed there and pulled to the side of the road, surveying the fence, the railroad tracks a few hundred feet away, parallel to the road, and beyond the tracks the stand of trees that was Tootles’s property.
    “Problems,” he said then. “This is pretty exposed, wouldn’t you say?” From here he could see that there was the big gate, double doors that could admit trucks, cranes, whatever equipment the job required. Next to it was a door no more than three feet wide. Both were

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