He stubbed his cigarette out on the cracks in the wooden stage. “Who the hell told you that?”
I thought he was going to walk away without answering. “Look, I don’t have to take any of this crap from you. I’m telling you once and for all, I didn’t see Chloe ever again. And I certainly didn’t see or speak to her on the day she killed herself.”
“The motel owner said a man phoned him and asked him to go and check on a friend who seemed to be depressed. Chloe mentioned a guy not coming back for her. And now Glen tells me Chloe was going to contact you. I don’t think I’d be wrong in assuming all three of those things point to just one person, and that’s you.”
He gave a cynical laugh. The janitor stopped working altogether now. I’m sure our conversation was much more interesting than the muddy footprints on the floor.
“I’ve got one piece of advice for you. Go back to wherever you came from or I can see you getting yourself really hurt.”
“Are you threatening me?” I stood. “I’m going to find out the truth, whether you want to tell it to me or not.”
“Fine by me, but don’t bother me or my wife again. If you do…”
I turned and left without letting him finish his sentence.
In my car, I sat for a few minutes, and then glanced in my rearview mirror. I don’t know why, but I had a strange feeling someone was watching me.
I could just make out the front part of a car parked on one of the side streets near the theater. I sat there for a while watching, and noticed every so often someone glanced my way. At first, I couldn’t see whether it was a man or woman but then I noticed the person’s large belly perched on the steering wheel and knew it had to be Joel’s wife.
I knew Jenine couldn’t be waiting for her husband for two reasons. One, he had his truck with him, and two, why hide up a side street? I had to assume she was either watching me or maybe waiting for someone else. I knew how to find out.
I turned on my ignition and pulled on to the street, and then glanced at my rearview mirror to check if Jenine was going to follow me. So far, no one was behind me. I drove to the next block, and out of curiosity, glanced in my rearview mirror.
I’d been wrong because Jenine’s red car was suddenly trailing me. I turned left at the next intersection just to see what she would do next. I couldn’t see her car now, and assumed I’d lost her…but I was wrong again.
She’d obviously known I was heading to the motel and somehow taken a short cut to get ahead of me, and then hidden around the corner where she was safely out of sight.
As soon as I was out of my car, I was punched in the middle of my back by what felt like two rock-hard fists. It took me by surprise, so I didn’t have time to reach for something to steady myself. I hadn’t been able to shut my car door, and as I stumbled forward, I struck the bridge of my nose on the metal trim on top of the door. I tried to keep my balance and I got the usual sensation you do after you’ve been hit in the face.
I’d barely had time to steady myself when she me hit again, this time in my right shoulder blade. I fell to my knees and struck my nose again on the handle on the door. When I turned around, I noticed that the front of my jacket was splattered with blood. I looked up, and through my blurred vision noticed Jenine standing above me holding a golf club just a few inches from my skull.
During my days on the force, I’d dealt with lots of situations like this. I’ve been trained to handle all types of problems, but never a violent, pregnant assailant.
I got to my feet before she could bring the club down on my head, and grabbed both her arms, holding her in that position as we looked eye to eye.
“Just leave my husband alone, you hear me. You’re just like the rest of them. Just like that slut, Chloe.”
“Hey, just calm down, will you?” I maintained my grip as she wriggled in an attempt to get free.
“You won’t get away with it. Not this time. I’ll kill you! You understand me?”
“Listen to me, just calm down.” I shook her, but regretted I’d been forced to do it to a pregnant woman. “I’m not interested in your husband. I’m here to find out what happened to Chloe Reeves, and that’s all.”
She tried to bring her mouth down onto my wrist to bite me, but I managed to get a tighter grip on her.
“I heard you calling him a few hours ago. I listened in on the other line, and I recognized your voice from the other day when you came to the house. All his girlfriends meet him at the theater.”
“If you really want to know, he suggested we meet there to talk about Chloe because he didn’t want to upset you.”
Now I could tell her initial anger had subsided, so I let go of her wrists, and her arms flopped to the side of her body. She burst into tears, and then quickly grabbed her right side.
“I’m…shit, it hurts me.”
The next thing I knew, she’d fallen to the ground, rolling around holding her stomach and screaming.
“Hey, just hang on. I’ll get some help.” Thinking it would be quicker to get the motel to call 911 than to dig through my purse for my cell phone, I ran into the lobby and approached the front desk.