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I follow her inside the apartment. Just as I had suspected, it’s gone. All of it. The china, I mean. Every last speck of the blue and white patterned china Owen had had on display in the hutch in the dining room is missing.

So is the hutch it was sitting on.

“This is just so sweet of you,” Pam goes on. “Owen always did say the nicest things about you—how thoughtful and kind you were to the students. I see it extends beyond your professional life, as well. But, please, you needn’t worry about me. I’m fine. Really. Would you like a cup of coffee? Or herbal tea? It’s no trouble. I was just about to make some for myself.”

I turn to face her. I see that Garfield is curled up on the couch, sleeping. Pam had clearly been sitting next to him. The television is on, and the remote lays next to the cat. She’d been watching Entertainment Tonight.

“Where is it?” I ask her. My voice is hoarse. I have no idea why.

She looks at me blankly. “Where is what, dear?”

“You know what,” I say. “Is it in that truck downstairs?”

She still looks blank—but a tinge of color appears in each of her cheeks. “I… I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about, Heather.”

“The china,” I say. “The wedding china Owen got in the divorce settlement. The wedding china you killed him for. Where is it?”


Friday’s guy’s not gonna call

Saturday’s guy’s not into girls at all

But Sunday’s guy is the worst of all

He’s glued to the set and that dang football

“Guys of the Week”

Written by Heather Wells

“Just give me the keys,” I say, holding out my hand.

For a minute Pam just looks at me with a very surprised expression on her face. Then she throws back her head and laughs.

“Oh… you!” she says, reaching out to give me a little push. “Owen always said you were a kidder. In fact, he said you spent so much time kidding around, sometimes he worried about you getting the job done.”

Now that—as opposed to the typing thing—I believe Owen actually said.

“I’m not kidding,” I say. “And you know it. Give me the keys, Pam. I’m not letting you get away with this. And you know the cops aren’t going to, either. You can’t just pack up a murder victim’s stuff and drive away with it. I’m sure there’s some kind of protocol that has to be followed—”

Pam stops laughing. But she’s still smiling. There’s something a little stiff about the smile—like she’s turned into a jack-o’-lantern.

Or Muffy Fowler.

“Protocol,” she repeats, with a humorless little chuckle. “Now you’re starting to sound just like Owen.”

“Look, Pam,” I say. I can’t believe it took me so long to notice, but this lady is nuttier than a slice of Fischer Hall coffee cake.

I know I’m going to need to tread carefully here. But I’m not particularly worried, because I know where the murder weapon is—in an evidence locker in the DA’s office downtown. I’m safe. There’s nothing she can do to me. I suppose she can try to take a swing at me, but I’m at least ten years younger, and twenty pounds lighter. I could easily take her in a fight, if it comes to that. I’m actually longing for her to take a swing at me.

It’s true I didn’t like Owen all that much.

But I liked walking into my office and finding his dead body even less. And nothing would give me more pleasure than punching the person who is responsible for making me go through all that.

“Don’t play with me,” I say. “I know you killed him. I know you didn’t get in today, like you pretended. I know you were actually here yesterday. You were spotted in the chess circle across the street, you know.”

Pam stares at me, her lips slightly parted. She’s still smiling, though. “That… that’s just baloney,” she says.

Seriously. Baloney. That’s what she said. Not bullshit. Baloney. Priceless.

“I know you planted that gun on Sebastian Blumenthal,” I go on. “Just like I know you and Owen were fighting over your wedding china. Owen told me all about it. He wanted it. God knows why. Probably because you did, and he wanted to punish you for divorcing him, and because he was completely lacking in imagination, it was the only way he could think to get back at you. I don’t know when you got to town, but I can’t imagine it will be too hard for the police to figure it out. What did you do, rent the truck and drive here? Then bide your time until you found Owen alone, then blew his head off? Is that how it went?”

Pam is shaking her head slowly, her graying mom haircut still so carefully styled from the memorial service that it doesn’t move an inch.

“You,” she says, still smiling, “are a very creative person. It must be your background in show business.”

“That’s called premeditation, you know, Pam,” I inform her. “And it’s probably going to get you life in prison. And the part where you planted the murder weapon on an innocent person? That’s going to get you life without parole.”

Pam is still shaking her head. But when I get to the part about how she planted the gun on Sebastian, she stops shaking her head, and just stares at me. The weird part is, she’s still smiling.

But the smile doesn’t go all the way up to her eyes. It’s like her lips are just frozen that way.

“I can’t believe,” she says, through that cold, creepy smile, “you’re on his side.”

I stare at her. “Whose side?”

“You know whose,” she says. “Owen’s. You worked with him. Every day—in the same office! You saw what he was like. Like a robot, with his agendas and itineraries and appointment calendars. The man was inhuman!”

I blink at her. The smile is finally gone. The bright spots of color on either of her cheeks have spread, and now her whole face is red. Her eyes—once a soft hazel—are beginning to glitter with a sort of manic intensity I’m not sure I like. She doesn’t look like a gentle potter anymore. She looks a little psycho, if you ask me.

I take a step backward. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.

“Uh,” I say. “You’re the one who married him.”

“Yes, I married him,” Pam spits. “I met him in college, back when I was an art major, a real wild child, into drugs and partying and sexual experimentation, and he was my resident assistant, and straight as an arrow, and I felt like I needed a little of that to calm me down. What I didn’t need, however, was to be smothered! To be creatively stifled for twenty years! Except that that’s what happened… until I finally got the guts to leave him. And, yes, you’re right—he did insist on taking the china—my beautiful china. Not because he cared about it. But because he knew I loved it. To punish me for leaving him! Well, I got it in the end, didn’t I?”