A is for Alibi Page 69

"Did you know that Laurence had an affair at one time with Sharon Napier's mother?”

He gave me a startled look. "You're making a joke.”

"No I'm not. Apparently it happened some time before Sharon went to work for him. From what I gather, her 'employment' was a combination extortion and revenge. Which might explain the way she treated him.”

"Who told you this stuff?”

"What difference does that make?”

"Because it sounds like crap," he said. "The name Napier never meant anything to me and I knew him for years.”

I shrugged. "That's what you said about Libby Glass," I replied.

I Charlie's face began to fade. "Jesus, you don't forgive a thing, do you?" He moved into the living room and I followed. He sat down in a wicker chair, which creaked beneath his weight.

"Is that why you're here? To work?" he asked.

"Actually, it's not. Actually, it's just the opposite.”

"Meaning what?”

"I came out here to get away from it," I said.

"Then why the questions? Why the third-degree? You know how I feel about Laurence and I don't like to be used.”

I felt my own smile fade, my face setting with embarrassment.

"Is that what you think?" I asked.

He looked down at his glass, speaking carefully. "I can appreciate the fact you have a job to do. That's fine with me and I'm not complaining about that. I'll help you where I can, but I can do without the interrogation at every step. I don't think you have any idea what it's like. You ought to see the change that comes over you when you start talking homicide.”

"I'm sorry," I said stiffly. "I don't mean to do that to you. I get information and I need to have it verified. I can't afford to take things at face value.”

"Not even me?”

"Why are you doing this?" I said, and my voice seemed to have dropped to a hush.

"I'm just trying to get a few things clarified.”

"Hey. You were the one who came after me. Remember that?”

"Saturday. Yes. And you were the one who came after me today. And now you're pumping me and I don't like that.”

I stared down at the floor, feeling fragile and mortified. I didn't like being smacked down and it was pissing me off. A lot. I began to shake my head. "I had a hard day," I said. "I really don't need this shit.”

"I had a hard day too," he said. "So what?”

I set my wineglass on the table and grabbed up my purse.

"Fuck off," I said mildly. "Just go fuck yourself.”

I moved toward the kitchen. The dogs raised their heads and watched me pass. I was hot and they lowered their eyes meekly as though I had communicated that much at any rate. Charlie didn't move. I banged out the back door and got into my car, starting it up with energy, peeling back up the driveway with a chirp. As I backed out onto the road, I caught a glimpse of Charlie standing near the carport. I put the car into first and pulled away.


I've never been good at taking shit, especially from men. It was an hour after I got home before I cooled down. Eight o'clock and I still hadn't eaten anything. I poured myself a big glass of wine and sat down at my desk. I took out some blank index cards and began to work. At 10:00 I had dinner—a sliced hardboiled-egg sandwich, which I ate hot on wheat bread with a lot of mayonnaise and salt, popping open a Pepsi and a package of corn chips. By then I'd consigned all the information I had to the index cards, which I'd tacked up on my bulletin board.

I sketched the story out, allowing myself to speculate. I mean, why now? I didn't have much else to go on at this point. It seemed likely that someone had broken into the Fifes' house the weekend the German shepherd was killed, while Nikki and Laurence were off at the Salton Sea with Colin and Greg. It also seemed likely that Sharon Napier had come up with something after Laurence died—which was (maybe) why she had gotten herself killed. I started making lists, systematizing the information I had, along with the half-formed ideas that were simmering at the back of my head. I typed up my sheets and arranged them in alphabetical order, starting with Lyle Abernathy and Gwen.

I didn't dismiss the idea that Diane and Greg were possibly involved, though I couldn't make any sense of the notion that either could have killed him, let alone Libby Glass. I included Charlotte Mercer on my list. She was spoiled and spiteful and I didn't think she would spare any energy or expense in seeing that the world was arranged exactly as she wanted it. She could have hired someone if she didn't want to go to the trouble of murdering him herself. And if she killed him, why not Libby Glass? Why not Sharon Napier, if Sharon had figured it out? I decided it might be smart to check with the airlines to see if her name appeared on any of the passenger lists for Las Vegas at the time Sharon died. That was one angle I hadn't thought of. I made a note to myself. Charlie Scorsoni was still on my list and the realization had a disturbing effect.

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