He quickly scanned the article, ignoring the liberal slant the local rag always managed to put on every story. All he wanted were the facts; names, dates and places. Something stuck out. The fellow that ended up on the wrong end of the gun was named Ramsey. ‘Ramsey,’ he thought. ‘Where do I know that name from?’ He read further, half of his attention on the rest of the article and the other half searching his memory for that name. Something about that name was familiar. It was fresh too, within the past few days.
“Hey Suz,” he hollered into the den where his wife was crocheting. “Where do I know the name Ramsey from? Who’s Ramsey?”
Susan O’Malley was a forty five year old beauty. Close friends always joked that she and Pat were like Beauty and the Beast. Pat at forty-seven looked his age or better, Susan could pass for mid thirties easy. Her figure had expanded a bit, but she still had it, and her prom queen good looks. The only real maintenance she ever had to do was on her hair. She refused to go gray. It wasn’t vanity; she just couldn’t bear to part with her golden curls. “Is that the fellow that subbed on your bowling team that time, that friend of Les?”
Pat shook his head and kept reading while he talked, “No, that was Ramos and he’s a permanent on the team now.”
“Sorry honey,” her voice was soft like gentle rain. “I can’t keep up with you and the boys.”
Then he found it, the perps were driving a late model, black Cadillac. Ramsey was the name of that woman that wrapped her van around a tree two days ago. That caused him some overtime. How could he forget that? The plates on her van were registered in her husband’s name, Mark Ramsey. There goes her story about a drunk driver. Further along in the article it stated that the victim’s wife and two children were missing. Witnesses stated that two children – matching the description of the Ramsey kids – had been abducted from the scene, but they didn’t have any leads on the wife.
Pat stared out the window to his left and let everything process for a moment. She had fed him a line and he bought it. He had always fancied himself an excellent judge of character, great at reading people. She never flinched. Maybe he could have done something to stop the murder. Maybe she had something to do with it. “Damn!” he said out loud as he rolled the paper up and slapped it on the table.
“What’s the matter baby?” Suzy called from the den.
“Aw nothin’,” he replied, almost to himself.
“Are you okay?” Suzy walked in from the den and began rubbing Pat’s shoulders.
“Yeah,” he sighed. “Do you remember that lady that wrapped her car around the tree the other day? I told you about it. Probably a drunk driver, remember?”
She cocked her head to the side and squinted a bit, “Yeah, I remember. You said there was something about her eyes, something familiar. You couldn’t place her face, but you were sure that you knew her somehow. It sounded to me like you might have been a bit sweet on her. You got it bad, don’t ya’?” She finished with a small giggle and squeezed his shoulders almost to the point of pinching.
He shook his head and sighed, “Oh knock it off. I think she may have something to do with a murder and I let her go. She lied right to my face. Me. And I bought it hook, line, and sinker. Nobody does that to me. I can see right through people.”
She kept rubbing his shoulders, “Take it easy big guy. Even the best pilots crash a plane now and then.”
“What?” he actually chuckled a little, “Is that supposed to make me feel better?”
“Well, it made you laugh.”
“It did.” He shook his head again, “You’re an angel. What did you ever see in a bum like me? You could have had any man, any man you wanted. Why’d you pick me? I know it wasn’t for my good looks.” He patted the paunch above his belt as he finished the statement.
“Because you had big arms, a big heart, and you made me laugh.” She bent down and kissed him on the cheek.
“I still have big arms.”
“And a big heart and you still make me laugh.”
“I gotta’ call cheeks.” He turned toward her, rose from his chair, and kissed her cheek.
She sighed and rolled her eyes, “Why do you need to call him?”
“The shooting was in West Allis. They’re covering the case and I have info that may be helpful. Besides, I want to see if they’re willing to share information with me.”
“Why?” she shrugged, only slightly irritated. “If the murder happened in West Allis, it’s their problem. It’s not even your case. It’s not even your jurisdiction. Can’t these kinds of things be dangerous? What if you get shot or something? The only reason I agreed to the police thing was because it was Brookfield and I wouldn’t have to worry so much…”
“Relax,” he gently held her by the shoulder and looked into her eyes. “I’m not going to get hurt. I have to know if this woman had anything to do with her husband’s death. On top of that, those kids were abducted. If they’re still alive, I may be able to help find them. Don’t you realize that if she had anything to do with it, this could all be my fault? I let her go. I had her and I let her go. Now somebody’s dead and two kids are missing.”
“And so what if you find out that she did, then what?”
“Then I won’t be able to live with myself.”
“And how am I supposed to live with you if you can’t live with yourself?”
He looked passed her to someplace far beyond the kitchen window, “I don’t know. I gotta’ call cheeks.”