As I Like It!



JANUARY 13, 2017





To review last week’s episode, click here:


Mike realized that Billy Ray had just been shot, so he instinctively ducked behind the sports car. He turned and swept the parking lot, looking for the shooter, but all he saw was growing darkness. He rested on one knee, pulled the cell phone from his pocket, and dialed 911. A female voice came on immediately.

“This is Barksdale County Emergency 911. What is your emergency?

“I need to report a fatal shooting at the old Pure Oil station at 314 Walker Street in Leesburg.”

“Yes, sir. Are you in danger?”

“I don’t think so, but there is a fatality.”

“Help has been dispatched. Who am I talking to?”

Mike could hear sirens in the distance and replied,

“Mike Lomax.”

“Please stay on the line, Mr. Lomax. Help should be there within minutes.”

Mike could see the flashing blue lights turning the corner, with sirens blaring.

“The sheriff’s pulling in. I’m hanging up.”

The first officer to arrive was Jerome “Tubby” Wilson, a Barksdale deputy sheriff, followed by a fire truck and an ambulance. Mike stood in the glare of Tubby’s headlights and waited as the officer walked up. He saw Mike and said,

“Hey, Mike, what we got here?”

“Somebody blew Billy Ray Burton away in my parking lot.”

Tubby pulled a flashlight from his utility belt and leaned down to look into the Corvette. He looked at Mike and asked,

“Did you check for a pulse?”

“Damn, Tubby. The contents of his head are all over the car. I was pretty sure there wouldn’t be a pulse.

Tubby took another look inside the car and replied,

“No, I guess there won’t be. You haven’t touched anything, have you?”

“No, I called it right in,” Mike replied, as another sheriff’s car came squealing to a stop. Willard Diddley, the sheriff of Barksdale County, got out, while adjusting his Smokey the Bear hat. He saw Mike and Tubby standing near the car, took a look in, and said,

“Might as well turn the engine off. Don’t think he’ll be going anywhere.”

He turned to Tubby and said,

“You or Lomax mess with the scene?”

“No. Mike found it when he came home and called it in. I just pulled up.”

By this time, a half a dozen firemen and EMT’s were approaching, and Diddley held up his hand and said,

“Whoa, fellas. This guy is beyond your help and I want to secure the scene. Tubby, get some tape up and try to leave Mike’s new truck out of it. I’ll give the MBI a call and request their forensic team.”

“While Tubby was taping the scene, Diddley looked at Mike and asked,

“Tell me what happened.”

Mike recounted the cell phone conversation with Billy Ray that preceded their meeting, but for the moment, he left out the background concerning Bessie and Junior. When he finished, Diddley paused then said,

“You got any idea why he wanted to see you?”

“Not really, but I suspect it has something to do with a case I recently turned down. He and Warren Lloyd wanted me to investigate Lloyd’s wife, but I declined.”

“You turned it down? Damn Lomax, you’re on poverty’s doorstep, and you turned down work?”

“Yeah, sounds crazy, but I don’t do domestic stuff. This is a small area, and everybody knows everybody. Too close to home.”

“If I recall, Lloyd is married to old man Malone’s daughter, Elizabeth, from over in Carroll County. Don’t blame you for taking a pass; she’s got more money than God.”

Diddley’s cell phone rang and he answered,

“Diddley here,”

He listened for a moment and then said,

“That was the MIB Forensic team in Tupelo; they’re on their way and should be here any minute. I need to deal with the crime scene, but I’ll need you to come in later and give us a formal statement.”

“Sure, when do you want me?”

Diddley looked at his watch and said,

“It’s 7:30 now. Give me an hour or so—let’s say sometime after 9:00.”

“Okay, I’ll see you at your office at 9:00. I need to run an errand first.”

The sheriff walked to meet the forensic team, and Mike got into his truck and drove out of the parking lot. When he cleared the glare of the emergency lights, he dialed Bessie Lloyd’s cell phone. When she answered, he asked,

“Where are you?”

“Still at the hunting club, deep in afterglow.”

“I take it Junior’s still with you?”

“Snoring away, right here.”

“Well wake his ass up, and y’all meet me at J&L as soon as you can get here. Somebody just scrambled Billy Ray’s brains in my parking lot. The sheriff wants me to give a statement at 9:00, so I’ll meet y’all there afterwards. Bubba’s due home from Jackson soon. Tell him to stick around till I get there.”

“Billy Ray’s dead?” Bessie asked.

“Dead as Kelsey’s nuts,” Mike responded

“Can’t say I’m all that devastated, but I can’t help but feel that somehow we’re gonna be drug into this mess.”

“You think? Yeah, I’d say we’re gonna be high on the list of suspects, once the truth is out.”

“Well, Mike, we just can’t let it out, can we?”

Mike ignored her and said,

“Bessie, just get yourself and lover boy dressed and over here. I’ll have a plan put together by then. Now, I need to go give Willard my statement and try not to perjure myself.”

“I’ll see you at the junkyard when you get there,” Bessie said and hung up.

Mike looked at his watch and saw that it was 8:35, and decided to get over to the sheriff’s office to wait for Diddley. He was pulling into a visitor’s parking place, when Bubba’s pickup pulled into the next one. He saw Stella Stone climb out of the cab and head toward the back door. He watched her as she entered the building, then tapped on Bubba’s window. When Bubba saw him, he rolled down the window and said,

“Hey, Mike. What’re you doing here?”

“I’ll get to that, but first, why are you and Stella here?”

Bubba told Mike about Stella’s new position with the MIB, and Mike groaned,

“Dammit, Bubba! Her timing just couldn’t be worse. What’s she doing in there?”

“She’s looking for Willard to thank him for his recommendation and to turn her gear in.”

Mile said,

“Oh shit, and ran up the back steps. He found Stella at her locker and said,

“Stella, listen carefully. Get out of here before Willard comes back, and go with Bubba to L&S. Somebody took out Billy Ray in my parking lot, and I found him. I’m here to give Willard a statement, and it’d be a lot better if you showed up here after we have a chance to talk. Bessie Lloyd and Junior are on their way to L&S so we can try to figure out what to do.”

Stella looked him in the eye and said,

“Goldarnit, Lomax. If I leave you unsupervised for a couple of days, you can screw up a one car funeral. This is just what I need on my first day with the MIB.”

“Yeah, Bubba told me the news. Congratulations.”

Stella closed her locker and said,

“Lomax, against my better judgment, I’m gonna do what you asked But I can promise you this, if you had anything to do with Thornton’s death, I’m gonna throw you under the damn bus.”

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