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Chapter 6
Like Father, Like Daughter

I guess what bothered me most was that Doc and the Professor knew Nancy, but both seemed to have taken her death impersonally. If someone you knew died, it seemed to me it should matter more. It was too much of a coincidence to have her die where people lived who had seen her in New York in an obscure play. Might they be involved in her death in some way?

Another question – had Doc done the postmortem? There was only one way to find out – check the records. To do so, I would have to invade my father’s files, a prospect that I did not like.

Dad made his weekly trips to the county seat each Friday morning to deliver any prisoners (a rare occurrence) to the county jail, and make the rounds of the county offices, including a quick visit with Constable Tate and the district attorney about any past or future cases. I seldom went with him, because I liked doing my weekly chores so we could both relax on the weekend. During school, I had to do them on Saturday morning, which I hated. I cleaned the whole house, did our laundry – one load white, one colored – and mowed the lawn. Dad would be back in town around twelve-thirty. Sometimes, if I finished my chores early, I rode my bike downtown and met him for lunch at the Downtown Diner. After lunch, Dad and I would buy our week’s groceries and then head home. Today, I decided to stay home. It was hot and I didn’t feel like riding downtown on my bike.

I had thought for a while that Dad had an interest in Betty, the redheaded waitress at the diner, but he said she was too “forward” – whatever that meant. Still, he said he liked her looks. She was pretty, I guess. She was of medium height and build. You could tell her hair was naturally red, because not every hair was the same color like Mrs. Glisson’s same-shade-all-over gray. Her eyes were her most striking feature, sparkling blue that twinkled when she smiled, which was often. I just couldn’t picture her as the mother type and we looked nothing alike. One of my requirements for a new mother was that we’d all match in family portraits. Not that I lost much time brooding about the lack of a mother. I had only been five when my mom died. I vaguely remember someone who always smelled good and spent all her time with me. If it hadn’t been for photographs and Doc’s memories of her, I would know almost nothing.

I didn’t know how she died, either; no one wanted to tell me. Doc convinced me to leave it alone for now, that he’d tell me when I was a little bit older. It was a mystery I wasn’t eager to solve. Dad wouldn’t talk at all about her or her death, and his attitude led me to believe there were some things associated with her death he didn’t even want to think about, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to know the circumstances.

I could clean the whole house in about an hour and there wasn’t much to laundry – just put it in and take it out. I did everything watching television, or I’d stick a movie in and stop it occasionally to vacuum, move the laundry, or get a snack.

Our house was very small, just perfect for the two of us. Dad had done a lot of remodeling. What used to be the formal dining room was my bedroom. The laundry room was between it and the garage. Dad had shortened the length of the garage, using the original storage space at the back as a long, narrow bathroom for me. I had decorated my room all by myself. Dad called it American junk; I said it was full of found treasures. My “bed” was a hammock made from the discarded sides of an old, wooden, deck lounge chair and some rope. Plank bookshelves held my collection of rocks and cacti. You can “forget” to water cactus and they don’t die! A terrarium was home for Leo the lizard. I found Leo outside last summer. Everyone at school had fluffy puppies and kitties to write about when we had composition assignments on “My Pet.” I had allergies, so I had Leo. He took very little attention – like my cactus.

The color scheme of my room was abstract red, black, and white, which went with the lack of frills, curtains, or carpet. Dust did a number on my allergies, so I had tile floors, with metal and plastic furniture. Sliding glass doors on the back wall looked out on the yard. Dad kept saying he wanted heavier stationary doors “for security reasons,” but there always seemed to be other projects going on. His latest was a backyard patio with a gas grill hooked to the propane tank, so all he had to do was light a match. I convinced him to get a guy from the gas company to do the connections for the grill. My dad is talented, but a bit over-confident when it comes to electricity or anything flammable.

Dad’s area is on the other end of the house, the kitchen and living room in the middle. The “family room” is his office. I never bother his stuff. I vacuum his room, but he cleans his own bathroom and keeps his area dusted. His room always seemed musty to me, smelling like my Dad, of leather, aftershave, muddy boots, and the coffee he always seems to be brewing in the corner machine.

His office held the information I sought. I wasn’t about to go into any of his drawers, but I know from experience that he always keeps current mail, magazines, and case files stacked neatly at the front of his massive oak desk. That desk is the one piece of furniture he saved from his parent’s home. It has “history” my dad likes to say. History is not my favorite subject in school, so I never ask him what he means by that statement. He might just mean it is older than he is. Anyway, I could glance at the stacks as I vacuumed his office and see if there was anything obvious.

There it was, the file labeled Nancy Parker. I wondered if Dad knew about “Dawn Davis.” We hadn’t talked in detail about the case. He thought I was just being a curious kid. I planned to ask him what was happening on the case that very day at dinner, and give him any information I had that he didn’t, although I knew he would be mad when he found out I was still snooping around.

All I wanted was the official cause of death, and to find out if Doc did the postmortem. Dad keeps a summary page at the beginning of each file, on the inside front cover. I just needed a moment to glance at that paper. I was very nervous, because I knew I was violating Dad’s trust. Maybe I should just leave. However, what if the information confirmed my suspicions that Doc and Professor Finch were somehow involved? No, I couldn’t do it. As I concluded the debate with myself, Dad spoke behind me.

“Courtney?”

“Oh, Daddy!” I ran to him and threw myself into his arms, crying uncontrollably and speaking incoherently. “I didn’t look, Daddy. Really I didn’t. I wanted to, but I just couldn’t.”

“Now, now, Courtney. Settle down, sweetie.” He scooped me up and carried me into the living room to his recliner, where he rocked me until I settled down enough to talk.

“I just want to know, Daddy. What happened to Nancy Parker? Who killed her? I have so many questions. I try to stop asking them, but they just keep running around in my head.”

“I understand, honey. I’m the same way. That’s why I like law enforcement. I’m asking important questions and solving people’s problems. Tell me the truth, Courtney. You’re still snooping around about this Nancy Parker thing, aren’t you?”

“Yes, Dad, I am. Please don’t stop me.”

“I doubt that I could, at this point. I’ll tell you what, run to my office and get that file off my desk. I’ll meet you in the kitchen. As soon as I get the roast I bought in the crock pot, we’ll have a confab about this case. Like they always say, ‘two heads are better than one’.”

I couldn’t believe he had enough confidence in me to share his information on the case. I realized there must not be much in the way of information in that file, but it still made me feel good.

It only took a few minutes to start the roast. While he peeled potatoes and carrots to drop in with the roast, I finished putting the canned goods in the pantry, then poured some ice tea for both of us from the pitcher in the frig.

“Okay, Courtney. Let’s see what we have. Not much that wasn’t in the newspaper, but if we go over it, maybe we’ll see something new. Talked to Constable Tate this morning and he doesn’t know any more than I do. Also, I talked to Mr. Parker, who was making a formal identification of his daughter’s body and retrieving her personal effects. She had nothing on her body except for her identification and some small bills and change in a pocket of her pants. No purse, which was surprising. Don’t women usually carry a purse?” 

He didn’t wait for an answer, and I realized he was talking more to himself than to me. “Let’s see, time of death approximately 2:00 a.m. give or take an hour. The temperature was low enough to retard the start of decomposition, although rigor mortis had begun to set in. Oh, Courtney, am I being too graphic?”

“No, Dad. It’s okay. Nothing different from what we see on Quincy, M.E., or any of those other programs. Go on, please.”

“She wasn’t killed in the park, but somewhere else. If we hadn’t had so many spectators, we probably could have taken tire imprints and have some idea about the vehicle used to transport her.”

“What really killed her? I know it was a blow, but do they know what from? Was it the blow that actually killed her?”

“One question at a time, Courtney, please.”

“Sorry, Dad. So much is going through my head.”

“I know, honey. Let’s just take it slow and one thing at a time.” He read from his file notes, “‘A sharp blow to the back of her head, either from a fall or a blunt instrument. Death probably instantaneous.’ Her father was glad to hear that. ‘No weapon at the scene.’”

“I would guess Miss Parker literally never knew what (or who) hit her,” I observed.

“It would appear that way. And no one seems to know why Miss Parker was in town, not even her parents, although her father seems to think it was about a man for some reason. We do know she lived in New York previously; the New York police are checking on their end to see if there was anything suspicious prior to her leaving the city. They haven’t found anything yet. And that’s about it.”

“Who did the post mortem?” There, the question I was dreading to ask was out.

“The county coroner with Doc Daniels assisting. Why?”

“Dad, both Doc and the Professor knew Miss Parker. Well, at least knew her as Dawn Davis, the actress. Doc actually went out with her in New York.”

“Doc? You’ve got to be kidding.”

“I can’t believe it either. He visited the Professor last summer. Remember how Professor Finch takes those classes each summer? Well, last summer it was on Modern Drama or something. Anyway, Doc went up for a visit and they both saw the play ‘Dawn Davis,’ our Miss Parker, was in.”

“How did you find all this out, young lady?”

“I asked. Professor Finch told me, and when I saw a poster for the play in Doc’s office, he also filled me in.”

“I seriously doubt either of those two is involved in her death. Still, Courtney, I don’t think it’s a good idea to be asking everyone about this. If you ask the wrong person, it could prove to be dangerous. What poster, Courtney?”

“Just a poster for her play. It was on the wall in his office. I’ve seen it there before, but never noticed what was on it until all this happened. She was very beautiful, wasn’t she Dad.”

“Yes, Courtney, she was, in a New Yorkish, plastic sort of way. Not my type, though.”

“You know, Dad, I still can’t understand how Doc could do the postmortem on someone he knew.”

“Well, doctors don’t look at human bodies the same way we do, honey. It’s like the way we can sit here and talk about this murder. Some folks would never be able to understand how we can talk about such things and even take an interest in them. But we separate the live Miss Parker from her death and the facts surrounding that death. Doc probably separates his memories of Dawn Davis from the actual body of Nancy Parker. He may even have the same professional curiosity about her death as we do – his from his medical perspective, and ours from the criminal. Do you understand, Courtney?”

“I guess so, Dad.” 

“Anything else you’re not telling me, Courtney?”

“No, Dad, that’s everything. Oh, Professor Finch did suggest Nancy might have come to town on the bus and didn’t know anyone from Connor’s Station, just got off here on a whim. I was going to check the bus schedule and see if Pop remembers her.”

“Why don’t you ask Mrs. Wilson to do that? Yes, I figure she’s involved, am I right?”

“Boy, you know me really well!”

“Well, some of your vocabulary when you talk about this case doesn’t sound like words you usually use. I’m going to go make notes in the file on what you just told me, and then e-mail Constable Tate with all this information to bring him up-to-date. But I don’t think I’ll disclose that my source is my twelve-year old daughter. Why don’t you ride over to Mrs. Wilson’s house and catch her up on what we’ve shared?”

“You sure know me well, Dad. I’ll be back in time to set the table for dinner. Oh, and Dad, here’s my notes just in case I left something out.” I handed him my marble composition book. The smile that he gave me as he reached out for it warmed me through and through.

 


Comments

02/04/2017 12:17am

post

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02/13/2017 11:17pm

This chapter is really intense! I love how the story turned into something like this. I am really excited to read the next chapter. I think it is already posted, right? Anyway, thank you so much for sharing this very amazing story! I am looking forward for more stories in this blog actually! Thank you again and have a nice day!

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Relations are very important in our life and kids are much important for us. Email is very important for our work but we need to perfect vocabulary for read to email. Now many collage are giving the course of english and we can this education for strong future.

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04/13/2017 1:01pm

This chapter is amazing. You definitely should write a book someday and publish it.

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05/14/2017 7:40am

Extraordinary post John. You have the best visit to that verifiable place

Prior to some time i went it and scaled the lofty staircase into some sanctuary just before it begun to rain so intensely.

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06/23/2017 10:31pm

Just like what Kevin Owens said, I want to comment you John for coming up with this very intense chapter. I was left in awe in the part where Courtney admitted all the bad things she did to her dad! I just couldn't contain the emotion I was feeling while reading it. I will be expecting a lot from the next chapter you will be posting. Congratulations!

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Susan Box Mann, Writer