She’d just sat down at her desk when the intercom on her phone rang. “Good morning, Harold.”
“Come see me will you?”
Emma hung up the phone and headed to the boss’s office. “Hey, what’s up?” Emma’s glance took in the somewhat disheveled appearance of the man sitting across from her boss.
“Emma, this is Frank Grimes.” Emma nodded acknowledgment to the large man sitting with a hard hat in hand, decked out in high-vis gear including vest and coveralls.
“Frank, this is Emma Banks. She covered the article a year ago regarding the untimely death of Sylvia Westwood.”
Emma waited patiently. There was a gleam in Mr. Grimes eye that suggested he had something of interest to say.
“That business’s haunted me ever since. I didn’t say nothin’ at the time, ’cause, well, ’cause I was drinking heavily and I didn’t think anybody’s gonna believe me, ya see.” He hung his head as if ashamed. “Still, I figure somebody ought to know what I saw. If it makes a difference or not, maybe it’ll help, may it won’t . . . get rid of the guilt that’s been eatin’ away at me.”
“Go on, Mr. Grimes,” Emma encouraged.
“I know things were kinda bleary that night, but every time I close my eyes, particularly when a news clip on tv, or a movie, somethin’ anythin’ really, reminds me, I see the same damn images.”
“What do you remember, Mr. Grimes?” Emma sank onto the other available chair in a relaxed manner hoping to encourage his confidence.
“Like I said, it’s kinda blurry, but I remember this woman running on past a few feet away, prob’ly fifteen feet or so I’d say, she nearly tripped when her feet slid out from underneath her, but she managed to recover and continued running. She wasn’t ever close enough that I could say for sure it was her, but according to the description I saw in your paper, it could have been her.”
He sat back in his chair, closed his eyes, and Harold and Emma exchanged glances, as he was clearly recalling the events in question. “A few minutes passed. I wasn’t in good shape I gotta tell ya. Then a couple men raced on by. One of them had a gun in his hand. I’m sure it was a gun. They split up and one guy went right the other left. I could tell it wasn’t good so I got the hell outta’ there and I wasn’t more than 1/2 a block away when I heard a couple of shots.” Raising his head he stared through Emma. “I might a been drunk, but I ain’t stupid. I tore outta there fast as I could ‘n I didn’t look back.”
“When I woke up the next mornin’ I thought it was a bad dream, brought on by the drink. Cause you know that happens. Later, someone at work mentioned a murder and I got scared. When lunchtime rolled ’round, I ran to the corner and bought a paper. It was your article and it said how there’d been a murder ‘n I figured, you know, no one would believe me anyway, so what’d it matter. The cops’ d figure it out anyway. Only they didn’t. Said they had no suspects. ”
“So I figured I’d tell you. Maybe you could help, maybe figure it out.”
“Do you remember anything else, Mr. Grimes?”
“Only that about three blocks maybe four, not sure on that one, a car passed me drivin’ like they was on a racetrack, careenin’ around the corners like they were on rails. All’s I can remember about it, was it was an old beat up white 4-door. That’s all I got.”
Standing, he said, “Hope that helps some.”
“Thank you, Mr. Grimes. Everything helps. If it leads to results, do you want to know?”
“Yeah, I do. I do.” He shook her hand and dragged his weary body out the door.
“What do you think, Harold?”
“I think he’s probably telling the truth, and I don’t doubt the cops would have completely ignored his statement. He probably saved his life that night. If anyone knew there was a witness, they’d have returned and finished him off too.”
“I think your right. There was only one other witness. An old woman pushing a buggy wandering the streets about four blocks away. She mentioned seeing a white car speeding by and she’d given them the finger and said she’d yelled at them.”
“Interested in a follow-up article?”
“Yeah, yeah I am. I’m not sure where this will take me, but it’s more than we had previously and adds credence to the other statement. I’ll go have a chat with the Detectives working the case.”
“Take care with this one, Emma. It smells. Smells real bad!”
“You don’t have to tell me, Harold. A young woman, with no criminal involvement of any kind, is gunned down. She was going to school to become a culinary chef. So we have a young innocent woman, minding her own business wiped off the face of the earth for no apparent reason. If, on the other hand, someone was chasing her down, then she may have witnessed something she wasn’t supposed to. Suggests to me she was silenced. The question is why. What did she see? Who’s involved, and why.”