Monday, June 24, 2013

Devil at Dusk - Installment Number Nine

Film Noir short stories Brooksie van Pelt
Brooksie van Pelt 1950's Private InvestigatorPhoto by Dave Haworth: davesphotoexploration

Hello folks and welcome to Devil at Dusk installment number nine.

I made it back to my cottage, got ready for bed and went to sleep. I slept in till about 10:30am then I got up had breakfast and got ready for the funeral which was today at 2:00pm. I hate funerals but I don’t really know of anybody who actually likes them. At 1:00pm I went over to the big house to get Bet and Will so we could all go over to the cemetery together. We got there and so far there were about a half of dozen people besides us. More people showed up, there ended up being about 22 people there. One of the people there was JT’s half brother Robert Lee Slater and his wife Peggy. Robert Lee and his wife showed up late, they did not talk to anybody and they left right as soon as the funeral ended.

Robert Lee was always an interesting person; he was JT’s older half brother. Robert Lee’s mom (Norma) and dad split up when he was young then Norma met Thomas Richard Slater a couple years later. They ended up getting married and shortly after that Norma got pregnant and they ended up having a boy which they named James Thomas Slater (JT). Robert Lee always felt that his mom and step dad loved JT more than him. Robert was always a pill growing up and things got worse after his mom remarried. His stepfather actually did adopt him and Robert Lee did take on his last name. He started acting up at school, picking on the younger kids and his grades started going from bad to worse. Then he dropped out of high school when he was 15 at that point his mom could not handle him any longer and kicked him out of the house.

Then he just became a vagrant and rode the rails like a hobo, which lasted for a few months until he could not handle that kind of life any longer. He ended up back in Laurel MS again where he started from. He begged his mom to let him come back and live in the house so she did let him come back. He ended up getting a job at the mill but he started picking on and beating up JT. At that time JT was 10 and Robert Lee was 16. Robert Lee was meaner than a junk yard dog and basically the black sheep of the family. JT was a quiet child, kept to him and did well in school. Robert Lee was always very jealous of JT. Robert Lee was JT’s only sibling and was also Bet’s father. Thomas ended up kicking Robert Lee out of the house because he was so disruptive to the house hold. Robert Lee ended up moving into a little apartment all the way on the other side of town as far away as possible from his family. It was surprising to all of us that he was able to manage to keep his job at the mill but he did.

By the time Robert Lee was 19 he met Peggy who was 18, he got her pregnant so they ended up getting married. Then Bet made her entrance into the world, the family loved baby Bet! After they had Bet the family joined back together briefly and they were all at least on speaking terms. What Robert Lee realized was that if he was at least civil to his family that they were at least able to have someone to baby sit for them pretty much anytime they needed. He realized then (out of his own selfishness that it did not do any good to hold a grudge or to at least pretend you don’t have a grudge). He pretty much did not have anything to do with his family but he let them see Bet anytime they wanted which was good because at least Bet got to know who her family was.

Several years ago now JT’s mom and dad passed away, they were hit head on by a drunk driver. Then a few years ago JT’s grandpa died of a heart attack (JT’s grandpa was very wealthy) so JT inherited The Wildwood Estate, all of the property, horses, stables, etc… Robert Lee did not inherit a single dime, for one JT’s grandpa did not like him one single bit (he was the first one to call him the black sheep of the family) he never liked how he was a bully, hot head, mean to JT and bad to his parents. The other thing was that Robert Lee was actually of no blood relation to him so he was in no way legally obligated to leave anything to him in his will. So Robert Lee did not get a single thing and JT inherited it all. This of course further perpetuated the bad blood between them.

After I watched Robert Lee’s behavior at the funeral and knowing his history with the family, I had some interesting thoughts cross my mind. He was from that point on a suspect at least in my mind, he never did like JT and things got worse between them after JT inherited the estate, Robert Lee was very bitter about that. So the next day after the funeral I got into my car and went to Robert Lee’s house. I knocked on the door; Robert Lee let me in to have a seat on the sofa. At first I just made casual conversation then I asked him where he was the day that JT was poisoned. He said he was sick that day with the flu and his wife was at home making chicken noodle soup for him while he was in bed. Then I asked him where he was at when all of the murders had taken place in this small town. He had an alibi for each one and it was my duty to research and follow up on each one over the next few days. Then Robert Lee says to me, I can’t believe you think I am the monster that is responsible for all of this!!!

I told him that over the years there had been a lot of bitterness, anger and bad blood between him and the members of the family. That it was both my job and my duty to make sure no stone had gone unturned and that I had to follow every lead that had been presented before me. This just happened to be one of those leads, I told him it was not personal it was business. I could tell he was not very happy with me at that point but honestly who was Robert Lee ever happy with?  Over the next few days I looked in to all of the alibis of Robert Lee’s and found that he was innocent.

Now I had to come up with some new angles to research to try to find the monster that was out there lurking around in the small town of Laurel MS…

Stay tuned next week for installment number ten of Devil at Dusk!

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