A is for Alibi Page 33

"You asked. I'm just tellin' you what I thought at the time. She sure was hung up on him.”

"Yeah, but enough to kill herself when he died?”

"Who knows?" He lifted one shoulder and let it drop.

"How did she find out about his death?”

"Someone called her and told her about it.”

"How do you know that?”

"Because she called me up. At first she didn't know what to make of it.”

"She was grieving for him? Tears? Shock?”

He seemed to think back. "She was just real confused and upset. I went over there. She asked me to come and then she changed her mind and said she didn't want to talk about it. She was shaky, couldn't concentrate. It kind of made me mad that she was jerking me around, so I left. Next thing I knew, she was dead.”

"Who found her?”

"The apartment manager where she lived. She didn't show up for work for two days and didn't call in, so her boss got worried and went over to her place. The manager tried peeping in the windows but the drapes were shut. They knocked some, front and back, and finally got in with a passkey. She was lying on the bathroom floor in her robe. She'd been dead for three days.”

"What about her bed? Had it been slept in?”

"I don't know. The police didn't give that out.”

I thought about that for a minute. It sounded like she might have taken a capsule at night, just as Laurence Fife had. It still seemed to me it might have been the same medication—some kind of antihistamine capsule in which someone had substituted oleander.

"Did she have allergies, Lyle? Was she complaining of a head cold or anything like that when you saw her last?”

He shrugged. "She might have, I guess. I don't remember anything like that. I saw her Thursday night. Wednesday or Thursday of that week when she heard that attorney was dead. She died on Saturday night late, they said. That much they put in the paper when it happened.”

"What about this attorney she was involved with? Do you know if he kept anything at her place? Toothbrush? Razor? Things like that? Maybe she took medication that was meant for him.”

"How do I know?" he said testily. "I don't stick my nose where it doesn't belong.”

"Did she have a girl friend? Someone she might have confided in?”

"Maybe from work. I don't remember anyone in particular. She didn't have 'girl friends."'

I took out my notebook and jotted down the telephone number at my motel. "This is where I can be reached. Will you give me a call if you think of anything else?”

He took the slip of paper and tucked it carelessly into the back pocket of his jeans. "What's in Las Vegas?" he asked. "How does that tie in?”

"I don't know yet. There may be a woman down there who can fill in some blanks. I'll be back through Los Angeles toward the end of the week. Maybe I'll look you up again.”

Lyle had already tuned me out, tapping the next brick into place, troweling away the excess mortar that had drooled out between the cracks. I glanced at my watch. I still had time to check out the place where Libby Glass had worked. I didn't think Lyle was telling the whole truth, but I had no way to be sure. So I let it slide—for the time being anyway.


Haycraft and McNiece was located in the Avco Embassy building in Westwood, not far from my motel. I parked in an expensive lot adjacent to the Westwood Village Mortuary and went into the entranceway near the Wells Fargo Bank, taking the elevator up. The office itself was just to the right as I got off. I pushed through a solid teak door, lettered in brass. The interior was done with polished uneven red-tile flooring, mirrors floor to ceiling, and panels of raw gray wood, hung here and there with clusters of dried corn. A receptionist sat behind a corral to my left. A placard reading "Allison, Receptionist" sat on the corral post, the letters burned into the wood as though by some charred stick. I gave her my card.

"I wonder if I might talk to a senior accountant," I said. "I'm looking into the murder of a CPA who used to work here.”

"Oh yeah. I heard about her," Allison said. "Hang on.”

She was in her twenties with long dark hair. She wore jeans and a string tie, her western-cut shirt looking like it had been stuffed with many handfuls of hay. Her belt buckle was shaped like a bucking mustang.

"What is this? A theme park or something?" I asked.


I shook my head, not willing to pursue the point, and she clopped away in her high-heeled boots through some swinging doors. After a moment, she returned.

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