As I Like It!

Saturday Serial — December 3

golf-cartSaturday Serial — December 3

MIKE LOMAX, PI

EPISODE 5

The Saturday Serials always showed the last reel from the week before; usually, the hero going off a cliff in a wagon or being blown up in an explosion.

To see what happened last week CLICK HERE: https://tomlawrenceblog.com/2016/11/25/saturday-serial-november-24

 

HERE IS THIS WEEK’S EPISODE…

A large smile crossed Bessie Lloyd’s face, and she replied,

“That’s what you and I are going to figure out. Let me give you my take on this whole business; then we’ll see if you agree.”

“Sounds like a good starting point to me,” Mike replied.

“Good. So here it is. First, let me share some background with you. Warren and I met while I was home from Switzerland. His father was my father’s banker and was a regular visitor out here. Warren always seemed to be with his father whenever I was home. He was a student at Ole Miss while I was still in a private girl’s school, and he seemed mature and sophisticated. I was young and inexperienced, and you can guess what happened.”

“You succumbed to his charms.”

“I did, and guess what? By the time I returned to school, I had missed two periods, and even as young as I was, I knew I was pregnant. When I came home for Christmas, our wedding was already arranged, and after a short honeymoon in New Orleans, we moved to Oxford for Warren to finish his senior year.”

“So you dropped out of school?”

“No, I finished high school in Oxford, and when Warren was accepted into graduate school at LSU, I attended two years there. When we moved back to Mississippi, Warren went to work in his father’s bank in Columbus, and I finished my degree in math at MSCW. I taught math at Lowndes Academy until he was brought back to Tupelo.”

“What did you do in Tupelo?”

“The usual thing a banker’s wife is expected to do. I had babies, I joined the Junior League, I volunteered in charities, and I hated every minute of it.”

“So what happened?”

“I finally realized that the tail was wagging the dog. With the allowance my daddy gave me, I could buy and sell Warren and his little country bank. Five years ago Daddy was killed in an airplane crash while hunting in Kenya, and I inherited Kilkenny and all of Daddy’s holdings, worldwide.”

“I take it you changed your lifestyle shortly after that. How’d Warren handle that?”

“At first he assumed that I’d turn it all over to him and I’d quietly play tennis and raise the children. It didn’t take me long to set him straight, and he’s been maneuvering to get control ever since.”

“How’s this affected your home life?”

“I don’t have one. The children live with Warren, and I’m either here or at my stables over in Barksdale County.”

“Do you miss your kids?’

“Not a lot. They’re happy in Tupelo, and I see them at least once a month. They prefer the country club to the outdoors. I’m afraid they’re their father’s children.”

“Okay, I got your background; now tell me what you think is going on.”

“Let’s make the supposition that you were chosen for reasons other than your detection skills. Say, you fit the model they need to execute their plan.”

“Okay, what do you think their plan is?”

“To have me killed and place the blame on someone else.”

“Like who?”

“Like you, or Junior, or the both of you.”

Mike thought for a moment, then replied,

“I hate to admit it, but that makes sense. With you gone, Warren becomes the executor of the children’s trust and will have complete control over your assets.”

“Not to mention that under Mississippi Law, as the surviving spouse, he’ll get a child’s share.”

“All right, I believe you’ve established the motive. Now we have to worry about how, when, where, and by whom. Any thoughts?”

“Considering that I have a place in Barksdale County and both you and Junior live nearby, I guess my horse farm would be the “where.” No way to guess the “when” and “how.” As far as the “who” goes, I’d bet that’s part of Billy Ray’s contribution.”

“That makes sense. Warren’s already found the yahoo’s to blame it on, and I suspect he has connections on the dark side who’ll find him a hitman.”

Bessie’s brow wrinkled, and she said,

“All you have to do is figure out the details and stop it from happening.”

Mike smiled and replied,

“Yeah, I guess I better get on that. What are your plans for the rest of the week?”

“You and I are going to fly over to my horse farm and meet with Junior; he needs to know what’s up.”

“Fly?”

“Yes, you know, as in take my helicopter.”

“I can’t leave my car here; I’ll need it.”

“Mike, I can’t have someone who works for me look like he just stepped out of the Shrine parade. We’ll leave that piece of junk here, and I’ll lend you one of my pickups.”

Mike thought for a minute, decided not to argue with the lady, and replied,

“Yes ’m, you’re the boss.”

Bessie led Mike to a golf cart, and they drove to a private airstrip behind a complex of farm buildings. There was a small hanger, and she pulled the cart inside. Mike recognized one of Cessna’s small four seat Mustangs, along with a yellow Stearman crop duster, and a Bell Jet Ranger sitting on the tarmac. Mike looked around and asked,

“Are we meeting your pilot?”

“You’ve already met my pilot, and she’s me.”

“You got a pilot’s license?”

“Yeah, fixed wing, multi-engine jets, and rotary. Is that so surprising?”

“Kinda. You look more like a lady who would prefer to be flown.”

“Don’t judge a book by its cover. I’m full of surprises.”

“So far that’s certainly been the case.”

Bessie did the preflight walk around, and Mike helped her untie the Ranger. Once they were all strapped in Bessie executed a perfect take off and headed east. They crossed I-55 just north of Grenada, and soon he saw US 45 and she began her descent into the horse farm. They tied the copter down near another small hanger built alongside an all-weather landing strip.

They got into another golf cart, and Bessie drove to the main building on her horse farm. Mike noticed Junior’s car sitting in front and Junior himself leaning against the side of the building. He broke into a wide grin when he saw Mike get out of the cart and shouted,

“Mike, what in the hell are you doing out here?”

“Maybe you’d better let Bessie explain that,” Mike replied.

Junior looked at Bessie and arched his eyebrows and Bessie said,

“Come on in and let’s get some coffee, and I’ll do just that.”

Bessie led the way up a flight of outside stairs into a spacious, well-appointed office. There were trophies and ribbons in a glass fronted display case covering one wall, and paintings of horses and airplanes scattered in various spots. Bessie sat behind a large mahogany desk, propped her riding boots on a filing cabinet, and picked up the phone. She looked at Mike and Junior and asked,

“What can I get Y’all to drink?”

Junior’s eyes lit up, and he said,

“A cold Miller’s would be nice.”

Bessie turned to Mike and asked,

“How about you, Mike? We’ve got Cokes, iced tea, and coffee.”

Mike thought,

Yeah, lady, you’ve done your homework and then answered,

“A diet Dr. Pepper or Coke will be all right.”

“Got both.”

“Make it the Dr. Pepper,” Mike replied.

Bessie asked someone to bring the beer and soda and ordered a pot of tea as well. She read their expressions and said,

“Go to school in Europe, and you learn to love tea. I’d rather have bourbon on the rocks, but I’ve got to fly back tonight. Mike, let’s bring Junior up to date on what we think is happening.”

They spent the next twenty minutes filling Junior in, and when they finished, he smiled his lopsided grin and said,

“Damn, Bessie. You never mentioned that you were married.”

Bessie shot him a dark look and said,

“You never asked asshole, and would it have made any difference?”

“Not likely. You’re a dynamite lady—probably worth getting killed over.”

Bessie smiled and replied,

“That’s nice of you to say, and by the way, you never mentioned Lucy Lee either.”

“I may have let her slip my mind. Would it have made any difference?”

“Not a bit. How ‘bout you Mike, are you married?”

“No, and don’t have any intention of doing so. Always thought the whole concept of marriage brought on too many complications. If both of you were single, you wouldn’t be in this mess. I rest my case.”

“Well, it’s a little late for that. Guess you’ll have to figure out how to deal with what we have, Bessie replied,

“First, I’ve gotta give Warren his retainer back; can’t serve two masters.”

“Yes, why don’t you run into Tupelo and take care of that before the bank closes?”

“I’ll need to deposit your check and withdraw some cash first.”

“How much did he give you?”

“$1500.”

Bessie reached into her desk and pulled out a tin box. She counted out $1500 in $100 bills and handed it to Mike and said,

“We’ll just make your retainer $11,500, and you can take care of it before you go back to Leesburg. Junior and I are going to visit for a while before I fly home.”

Mike knew when he’d been dismissed, and took the cash and headed for Tupelo.

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