BACK SEAT VIEW - REKHA AMBARDAR
Lieutenant Sharples got out of his vehicle just in time to see the CSI unit remove Leo Rodin’s bulky body from where it was wedged on the floor in between the back and front seat of the Ford sedan. The key was still in the ignition.
“Do we have the time of death?” he asked the police officer on duty.
“About twelve-thirty last night,” the officer replied. “His wife says the deceased went out last night and never came home. She found him this morning when she went to get the morning paper.”
Sharples entered the neat, suburban home, where he encountered Rodin’s wife, Louella, by the kitchen sink. She was in her forties, a petite woman, not quite five feet tall.
He introduced himself. “I need to ask you a few questions, ma’am.”
She pulled out a chair by the kitchen table. “Of course, Lieutenant.”
“When did you see your husband last?”
“Last night, after dinner. We had an argument, and he left in a fit. He has a temper and is not one to talk things out.”
“Mind my asking what the argument was about?”
“His poker playing. I thought he’d give up that habit after we got married. But every evening he’s out with the boys.”
“How long have you been married?”
“Two years. This is the second one for us.” She sighed. “I didn’t kill him. But I’ve often wanted to clobber him.”
Sharples nodded sympathetically, although he privately thought she was one to watch.
A burly man strode in. “Louella, are you alright?”
Louella looked up. “John. Thanks for coming.” She turned to the lieutenant. “This is Jonathan Hale, our family doctor.”
“I’d given her a sedative and came back to check on her,” Hale said, a frown etching his forehead.
“Mind answering a few questions?” Sharples asked him.
“Not at all,” Hale replied.
They stepped into the living room.
“When did you see Mr. Rodin last?” the lieutenant asked him.
“A couple of days ago when I came by to give Louella a migraine prescription,” Hale said.
“Did you see him last night?”
“No. After I left the clinic, I went home, had dinner, then went out for my usual walk.”
“Where do you live?”
“A few blocks from here.”
“How did the victim and his wife get along?”
“I don’t mind telling you Leo was a difficult man, and Louella put up with a lot, but even she has her limit,” Hale said.
“So you think she killed him?”
“I’m not saying that, but anything’s possible.” Hale’s mouth closed in a thin line.
A loud voice in the hall interrupted them. A small-built man with a sullen face approached them.
“This is Leo’s brother, David,” Hale said.
Sharples turned to David. “I’ll need to ask you a few questions, sir.”
Hale stepped out of the room ostensibly to check on Louella.
“Are you older or younger than the victim?” Sharples asked David Rodin.
“Younger, but more responsible.”
“What do you mean?”
“My father left all his property to Leo, thinking he was the responsible son. But after our father died, Leo took up poker,” David explained.
“When did you see your brother last?”
“Not since last Sunday when Louella invited me and my wife to dinner.” David checked his cell phone and then shut it with a loud snap.
“Where were you last night?”
“At the community college where I take classes.”
Sharples made a mental note of that. A call to the college would confirm David’s statement.
He went looking for Louella. She was in the study going over some papers and turned around when she saw Sharples.
“I suppose I am still the suspect?”
“No,” Sharples replied. “That honor goes to somebody else.”
“Why do you say that, Lieutenant?” Louella asked, looking puzzled.
“The driver’s seat of the car in which Rodin was found had been pushed back to accommodate a bigger person,” Sharples explained. “I would say you, ma’am, are not quite five feet tall, and petite, so you would have been unable to move the body or drive the car with the seat where it’s at.
“It would have taken someone stronger and bulkier, like Hale, your family doctor,” Sharples continued. “During his walk, he saw your husband, who stopped the car for him. Hale then killed Leo and wedged him in the car.”
“Why would he do that?” Louella asked.
“You tell me, ma’am,” the lieutenant said. “I suspect that Hale’s in love with you.”
“Yes,” Louella said slowly. “He felt sorry for me – my husband was gambling our savings away, and difficult to live with besides.”
Being in love with Louella, he had decided to do Louella a favor by getting rid of her husband.
BIO: Rekha has published short stories and articles in print and electronic magazines and is also the author of two contemporary romance novels.