Home > Lake Silence (The Others #6)(16)

Lake Silence (The Others #6)(16)
Author: Anne Bishop

Judging by my attorney’s laughter, if I failed to turn The Jumble into a viable business, I could always get a job as a stand-up comedian in a vampire bar.



Sunsday, Juin 13

Aggie moved back and forth on the tree branch, studying the dead man lying within sight of Miss Vicki’s house.

The newest dead man? The last dead man? The dead detective man? How should the Crowgard identify this one? There had been an abundance of dead humans in The Jumble lately but a decided lack of easily acquired meat since they had died where alive humans had found them too quickly.

If the newest dead man couldn’t be meat, maybe he had something else that was desirable? There had to be bits of treasure in the man’s pockets, but she didn’t want to get Miss Vicki into trouble by poking around, and the rest of the Crowgard who were watching the body—and the police—reluctantly agreed.

This body has been disturbed.

How had the human called Officer Grimshaw known that about the first dead man? He hadn’t been there when the smaller terra indigene found the body and removed the useful items like the knapsack and thermos and the shiny that had rectangles of paper and the other things. Well, the eyeballs were gone, so that might have been a clue—police were always looking for clues in the TV shows Miss Vicki liked to watch—but had he known about the other things?

Ilya Sanguinati had known, or at least suspected, and had demanded that all the possessions be brought to Silence Lodge as his condition for helping Miss Vicki. And they had brought everything to the lodge. Except the eyeballs. Officer Grimshaw had taken the one she would have had for lunch yesterday, and Aggie suspected that one of the Weaselgard had made off with the other eyeball before the Crows had gathered to check out the first dead man. And the Weasels didn’t even like eating eyeballs, so that was just them flipping their tails at the Crows.

On the other wing, Ilya Sanguinati had said he wanted to see what the first dead man had brought with him in order to figure out why the man had been trespassing at The Jumble. He hadn’t said he would keep the useful things.

Still, she’d given up the shiny case that held the rectangles of paper in order to help Miss Vicki, and now there was this dead detective man who was bound to have some treasure.

Except Officer Grimshaw had already seen this body, so he would definitely know if it was disturbed by even tiny hands reaching into pockets to see what might be out of sight. He’d looked hard at the body, had even touched the neck like they did on TV in order to know if a human was dead, like they couldn’t just tell by looking or smelling. Dead did not smell the same as alive. Even young Crows knew that. But apparently humans didn’t and needed to touch.

Then she noticed a piece of cloth poking out from beneath the body. Humans called it a tie. One of her kin had seen a shiny clipped to the cloth, had seen it glint in a beam of sunlight as the detective man pulled out his weapon and challenged one of the Elders, who was already angry about the other two humans trying to enter Miss Vicki’s house. Jozi had flown off to look for food, leaving Aggie to study the dead man.

She moved back and forth on the tree branch as she thought and thought about the shiny Jozi had seen. She could get that shiny without disturbing the body too much. All she needed to do was pull the tie out from under the body just enough to reach the clip.

Officer Grimshaw led Young Osgood to the car. She couldn’t see them—which meant they couldn’t see her.

She flew down to the dead man and looked again. Still couldn’t see the car or the live humans.

She grabbed the end of the tie and pulled and pulled, tugging it out from under the body inch by inch. When she couldn’t pull anymore out, she shifted her wings to tiny arms and hands that could squeeze between the ground and the body, following the tie until . . .


She pulled out her prize, dropping it on the ground as she shifted arms and hands back to wings. Picking up the clip with her beak, she flew to the tree near the cabin she was renting from Miss Vicki—the tree that had a carefully built nest that hid a shallow hollow in the trunk. The hollow was just as carefully stuffed with sheets of paper that formed layers of hiding places for her little treasures.

Aggie studied the layers of paper for several minutes before finding just the right spot for her new shiny.



Sunsday, Juin 13

Grimshaw drove slowly toward the main road, listening to the tires crunch on gravel—listening for the odd and terrible silence that usually meant the presence of Elders. He stopped when Julian approached the car.

“Is there anyone here who could give Officer Osgood a ride to the police station?” Grimshaw asked. He had left a crime scene unsecured, left a body unattended when he knew there were predators in the area. But this wasn’t a human town or even a human place, and right now the need for caution—and the desire not to become the next dead body—overruled the basic protocol of investigation.

Besides, he wanted to get the baby cop out of there before someone told Swinn about the casualties to his team.

Julian rested an arm on the cruiser’s door, leaning in to speak quietly. “The firemen got the driver out of the car. The EMTs have him and are on their way to the hospital in Bristol. I’m fairly certain he’ll be DOA.” He waved to a man dressed in a white shirt and sports coat, holding a medical bag. “Talk to the doc about that ride.”

Julian stepped back to give Grimshaw room to open the door and get out of the cruiser.

“Doc?” Grimshaw said. The man looked too young to have his own practice, even in a small town. At least, that would have been true a year ago. Now, any doctor who was willing to practice in a small community like Sproing would be welcomed with open arms—and only a cursory check of his credentials.

“Steven Wallace. Junior partner at the medical office in Sproing.”

They shook hands. Then Grimshaw crooked a finger at Osgood, who reluctantly got out of the cruiser, and said to Wallace, “If you’re headed back to the village, could you give Officer Osgood a checkup, make sure he’s all right?”

“I’m fine,” Osgood protested, still looking sickly pale.

“Then you’ll be in and out and can wait for me at the police station. Man the phones until I get there. Will you do that?”

“Yes, sir.”

Wallace pointed at a vehicle parked behind the hearse. “That’s my car over there.”

Grimshaw waited until Osgood reached the car. “Doc? Are you the medical examiner?”

“More or less. I do determine cause of death among the residents of Sproing, as well as among the families who run the farms and vineyards all around this area, but if there’s a criminal investigation or if it looks to be a suspicious death, the body is taken to Bristol for the autopsy.”

That’s what he figured, but he hoped for a little wiggle room. “There’s another body near the main house. Is there anyplace in the village where you could take a look at it and give me an idea of the cause of death?”

Wallace took his time answering. “We can take the body to the funeral home, which also serves as our morgue, and examine it there.” His lips curved in a grim smile. “Small town, small budget. The hearse is used to transport bodies. They already have the man who was killed in the car.”

Grimshaw looked at the two men sitting in the front of the hearse, waiting for instructions. Then he heard a jangling and turned at the same time Julian said, “We’ve got company.”

Two men walked down the road from the direction of the main house. The dark-haired one was a big man wearing jeans and a muscle shirt—and had way too much body hair to wear a shirt like that. The other one wasn’t as heavily muscled and had golden-brown hair and eyes, but Grimshaw had the impression of speed and power that would easily match the other man’s brawn.

Where had they come from? Grimshaw wondered, taking a step toward them. “Something I can do for you gentlemen?”

They ignored him and looked at the trees on either side of the road. Finding two that suited them, the leaner man padlocked two coils of chain around the trees. Then they uncoiled the chain the big man had carried over one shoulder. Simple hooks on each end were slipped through links in the padlocked chains. Attached to the middle of the long chain now blocking the access road was a wooden board with the words PRIVIT PROPERTEE, NO TRESPAZZING.

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