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.By the time I got back to Santa Teresa, it would seem like New York City compared with this.There was a battered green Plymouth parked beside unit number one.I peered in the window on the driver's side.The keys had been left in the ignition, a big metal initial T dangling from the key ring-for Timber-lake, I assumed.Trusting, these folk.Auto theft must not be the crime of choice in Floral Beach.Shana Timberlake's tiny front porch was crowded with coffee cans planted with herbs, each neatly marked with a Popsicle stick labeled with black ink: thyme, marjoram, oregano, dill, and a two-gallon tomato sauce can filled with parsley.The windows flanking the front door were opened a crack, but the curtains were drawn.I knocked.Presently, I heard her on the other side."Yes?"I talked through the door to her, addressing my remarks to one of the hinges."Mrs.Timberlake? My name is Kinsey Millhone.I'm a private detective from Santa Teresa.I wonder if I might talk to you."Silence.Then, "You the one Royce hired to get Bailey off?" She didn't sound happy about the idea."I guess that's one interpretation," I said."Actually, I'm in town to look into the murder.Bailey says now he's innocent."Silence.I tried again."You know, there never was much of an investigation once he pled guilty.""So what?""Suppose he's telling the truth? Suppose whoever killed her is still running around town, thumbing his nose at the rest of us?"There was a long pause and then she opened the door.Her hair was disheveled, eyes puffy, mascara smeared, nose running.She smelled like bourbon.She tightened the sash on her flowered cotton kimono and stared at me blearily."You were in court."Yes.She swayed slightly, working to focus."You believe in justice? You b'lieve justice is done?""On occasion.""Yeah, well, I don't.So what's there to talk about? Tap's been shot down.Jean's choked to death.You think any of this is going to bring my daughter back?"I said nothing, but I kept my gaze on her, waiting for her to wind down.Her expression darkened with contempt."You prob'ly don't even have kids.I bet you never even had a dog.You look like somebody breezing through life without a care in this world.Stand there talking about 'innocence.' What do you know about innocence?"I kept my temper intact, but my tone was mild."Let's put it this way, Mrs.Timberlake.If I had a kid and somebody'd killed her, I wouldn't be drunk in the middle of the day.I'd be out pulling this town apart until I found out who did it.And then I'd manufacture some justice of my own if that's what it took.""Well, I can't help you.""You don't know that.You don't even know what I want.""Why don't you tell me?""Why don't you invite me in and we'll talk."She glanced back over her shoulder."Place looks like shit.""Who cares?"She focused on me again.She could barely stand up."How many kids you got?""None.""That's how many I got," she said.She pushed the screen door open and I stepped in.The place was essentially one long room with a stove, sink, and refrigerator lined up at the far end.Every available surface was stacked with dirty dishes.A small wooden table with two chairs divided the kitchen from the living room, one corner of which was taken up by a brass bed with the sheets half pulled off.The mattress sagged in the middle and it looked as if it would erupt in a symphony of springs if you sat on it.I caught a glimpse of bathroom through a curtained doorway to the right.On the other side of the bathroom, there was a closet, and beyond that was the back door.I followed her to the kitchen table.She sank into one of the chairs and then got up again, frowning, and moved with great care to the bathroom where she threw up at length.I hate listening to people throw up.(This is big news, I'll bet.) I moved over to the sink and cleared the dirty dishes out, running hot water to mask the sounds coming from the bathroom.I squirted dish-washing liquid into the tumbling water and watched with satisfaction as a cloud of bubbles began to form.I slid plates into the depths, tucking silverware around the edges [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]