Sunday 18 October 2015
‘Lonnie Corwin did not do this,’ Beth snapped. ‘No way on God’s green earth did he do this.’
‘And you’d know this how?’
‘Boss, trust me on this,’ she replied.
‘We’ve got a dead body, you’re convinced that Lonnie’s back in town, you’ve been hanging out at the old Corwin house, and you expect me to trust you that he had nothing to do with this? No way, Beth. You need to find him, and bring him in.’
‘Jack, please, he didn’t have anything to do with this. In fact, I don’t even think that he’s here. I haven’t seen him, he hasn’t made contact with me . . . I wouldn’t know where to start looking for him even if I wanted to find him.’
‘He needs to be in my office by nine o’clock tomorrow morning. Got it, Detective Corwin?’
Beth nodded. ‘Yes, boss.’
Jack Rockwell Jr. stared intently at Beth. His gaze made her feel uncomfortable. Jack had a knack for getting under Beth’s skin, and she felt weak and useless despite being perfectly aware that it was a tactic that he used to control her.
‘Nine a.m. tomorrow morning,’ she reiterated, and then walked out of the front door. Martin met her in the front garden.
‘Rockwell bust your hump again, Corwin?’
‘Gates, shut the fuck up,’ she replied. ‘Yes, he did. He’s convinced Lonnie did this.’
‘And you’re not?’ Martin asked. ‘With everything you found out about Lonnie’s past?’
* * * * *
The emergency department waiting room was sterile and unwelcoming. The posters on the walls were faded and torn, the chairs were worn, and what he could see of the paintwork was dirty or chipped and flaking. Lonnie tried to relax but his circumstances did nothing to assisting that process. Sheriff Rockwell sat in the chair next to Lonnie. He clamped one side of his handcuffs to Lonnie’s left wrist, and the other side to his own right wrist.
‘Son, you’re not going anywhere without me knowing,’ Rockwell said in his slow drawl.
‘Sheriff, I’m not going anywhere while my wife is here. You don’t need the handcuffs. You’ll find me by her side until she recovers, and then, I guarantee, you can do whatever you want to me. I’ll go to court, I’ll go back to prison, I’ll serve my time. But right now, I need to be with my Sally. Please, take this off.’ Lonnie held up his arm, drawing the Sheriff’s along with his own.
The sheriff settled into the chair, sighing as he got comfortable.
‘Y’know, Corwin . . . with your record, the threats you’ve made, there’s not a snowflake’s chance in hell that I’m gonna set your free, let alone let you out of my sight. You’re gonna have to deal with the fact that we’re attached. Wherever you go, I’m going. You need to take a piss, I’m right there with you, but I sure as shit hope you can piss one handed,’ he chuckled, ‘because I’m not uncuffing you.’
A nurse pushed through the waiting room doors, and called for Lonnie.
‘Here,’ he called back. ‘I’m here.’ He stood up and tried to walk towards her but Sheriff Rockwell, at least twice Lonnie’s weight, remained seated and yanked Lonnie backwards.
‘Short leash, I’m sorry. You’ll have to come to him,’ the sheriff called out.
She approached Lonnie and Rockwell quickly but with caution. Rockwell picked up on her hesitation.
‘Don’t worry, honey, he’s not gonna do anything to hurt you while I’m here.’ Rockwell held up his shackled wrist for her to see, his reassuring smile more like the leer of a desperate and hungry animal.
‘Mr. Corwin, I’m Nurse Paulson. Doctor Redman asked me to come and speak with you.’
‘Is she okay?’ asked Corwin. Rockwell pulled him back into the seat. Lonnie shot him a look.
‘Settle down, Corwin, or I’ll haul your ass off to the cells right now, and you won’t find out anything about how your wife’s doing. Got it?’
‘Mr. Corwin, your wife’s going to need to stay with us for a few weeks. Doctor Redman will explain the details about your wife’s condition to you, but he insisted that I come and let you know that your daughter is just fine. She’s healthy, just a little bundle of joy, and you can go in to see her after we’ve cleaned her up and weighed her.’
‘I have a daughter?’
‘You do, and she’s beautiful,’ Nurse Paulson replied.
‘Tell me more about Sally please.’
‘There were . . . complications during your daughter’s birth. Your wife is very weak at the moment, and that’s part of the reason she’ll need to be hospitalised.’
‘I’d imagine, Corwin,’ interjected Sheriff Rockwell, ‘that the rest of the reason Sally needs hospitalisation is because you beat the shit out of her.’
‘I didn’t touch her, Rockwell. I love my wife. I didn’t lay a hand on her in anger.’
‘Oh really?’ Rockwell sneered.
‘I told you before. I came home from work and found her on the floor, and Bart Price was running for his life out the back door. You’d best get him in and ask him what he was doing in my home, and how my wife ended up the way she did, because that’s the only way that son of a bitch is going to be safe from me.’
. . . To be continued . . .