Death is a Drag — Chapter 4
Morning came a little earlier than Jodie expected. She woke up to a phone call from Kasey saying that she was sick and couldn’t come in to work. That meant that Jodie either had to either call in someone to cover the shift or go in herself to open up. She decided that the hassle of trying to find someone to answer their phone at 5 in the morning was just not worth. Plus, she was already there.
With a grumble and a groan, Jodie headed to the shower to get ready.
Fortunately, the morning was quiet. It was mostly just the regulars coming in for their toast and coffee and a few orders for poached eggs. But then the farmers’ table started filling up as they all came in for their morning coffee and the noise level got louder.
Jodie went over to bring a plate of eggs and bacon and hash browns to one of them.
“What’s all the excitement about today guys? By the way Faron, great races last night. There was a really good turnout.”
They all stopped talking to look at her.
“Didn’t you see the cops there last night?” said one of the men
“I did, but I figured they were just breaking up a fight,” Jodie replied.
They looked at each other and then at her. Finally, Leon Johanssen said, “Someone murdered Justus Callan last night.”
Leon nodded his head. “Yep. They say that he got hit with a blunt object. I saw them taking Cal-Lee in this morning.”
“Was he in handcuffs? Or did they just take him in for questioning?” Jodie asked.
He shrugged. “Hard to tell. Looked like his hands were behind his back though.”
“Why would Cal-Lee even be a suspect?” she asked. “I mean, I know they had disagreements but…”
Craig Simpson spoke up, “You know Justus. Just can’t keep it in his pants. Cal-Lee must have found out that Justus was messing around with his girl.”
“Leila? No, Justus wouldn’t do that, would he?” Jodie couldn’t believe that Justus was as bad as the talk of the town made him out to be but maybe he was.
Craig nodded, “He would, and he did.”
As Jodie left the table, the guys were still talking about Justus and his many conquests. The last thing she heard was someone mentioning Branson’s daughter on her 18th birthday. Justus sure had a reputation, and it seemed like someone was furious with him — enough to commit murder.
She noticed that Faron had very little to say in the matter. He just sat there, scarfing down his breakfast and looking awkward. Maybe he was just hungry.
Could Cal-Lee really have killed his best friend, though?
As the morning went on, Jodie heard lots of other theories. Some were talking about the fight that Hank, the owner of Louie’s Bar, and Justus got into last week. They were talking about how Justus always got into trouble for not paying his tab until Hank was so mad he was ready to beat him. Maybe Hank went too far this time?
In the kitchen, Jacob was talking to Sophie, who had just come in to work.
“You know it’s that damn fight that got him in trouble,” Jacob was saying.
“I don’t know why Faron thought Justus would do what he told him to do. There was no way Justus was going to let an old-timer like Jake give him the beat down, even if he would have gotten paid well for it.”
“Do you think that’s the way it was supposed to go down?”
“Of course it is. Faron has always rigged the fights. They are no better than the wrestling matches on TV. They are all show.”
Jodie did not understand what they were talking about.
“Why were Justus and Jake fighting?” she asked.
Sophie looked at Jacob and hesitated. “Well, I’ll tell you because it’s not exactly a secret. Faron makes good money from the races, but his real money comes from the fights.”
“He has this kind of fight club thing going. He’s got a ‘secret’ room under the office. It’s by invitation only. And he has five or six guys that like to get in the ring and beat each other up. Sometimes it’s real — when it’s quiet, usually. But when it’s a big night, like the first night of the races, Faron always makes sure that he’s going to come out ahead if you know what I mean.”
“He rigs them?”
“And Justus and Jake were supposed to fight last night?”
Jacob nodded. “And they did. But Faron knew that everyone would bet on Justus because he’s young. So, I’m betting that Justus was not supposed to win. That he was supposed to take a loss. And he didn’t.”
Jodie was silent for a minute as she took in this new info.
“So,” she said, “You’re saying that Faron killed Justus? Because he lost a lot of money?”
“Maybe. Or someone else that was involved. Someone that lost some money. Or someone that owed Faron money.”
“I had no idea…”
Jodie heard a noise from the diner. She left the kitchen to see a bunch of young soccer players coming through the door. Things were about to get crazy. But even as she got them settled, she couldn’t get Justus out of her mind.
After the other servers came in, Jodie was finally able to take off her apron. But there was not time to relax. She had some business cards to pick up from the local newspaper office, and she wanted to make sure she got her weekly advertisement in on time. She had a few other errands to run before she could find time to relax.
By the time she got back to the diner it was just after 3 p.m. and Zara had already started her shift.
“Jodie! You’re not going to believe what happened!” Zara was practically jumping up and down, waiting to tell her.
“I know. Justus got murdered last night. You know, it happened while I was there? It’s kind of freaking me out a little bit,” Jodie admitted
“Did you know Cal-Lee got arrested?”
Jodie nodded and said, “Ya, I heard from the regulars this morning.”
“Oh, there’s more. They just had him in for questioning then. They released him mid-morning. But he was here, and the police came in and put him in cuffs and took him back to jail!”
“Really? That’s horrible. I just can’t believe that Cal-Lee would do such a thing. I mean, the regulars told me about Leila, but I still don’t think Cal-Lee would do that. I mean, Justus was his best friend.”
“Well, I don’t know. He can be kind of crazy at times. Cal-Lee’s been arrested anyway, so I guess there’s not much of a mystery anymore.”
Just as Zara said that, Leila walked in.
“What?” Leila said, her eyes red rimmed and round. “He’s been arrested?”
“Yes. Sorry, Leila. I didn’t see you,” Zara said.
“They can’t arrest him. I have to get down there right away…”
Jodie softly said, “Leila, there’s not much you can do.”
“Of course there is! He was with me last night. He got to my place just as the races were starting. And he was with me all night. So, quit telling people that my Cal is a murderer!”
“I’m sorry, Leila,” Zara said. “I didn’t mean any harm.”
I looked at Zara as Leila rushed back to her car and tore out of the parking lot, gravel flying every which way.
“I guess Cal-Lee didn’t kill Justus then,” Jodie said. “But if it wasn’t him…who did it?”
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