THE PERILS OF LOUELLA:

Chapter 151: Louella Gets To Go Home

by Alice Cherbonnier

LOUELLA sensed that, despite her incriminating statements about why she and some others had exchanged e-mail messages expressing the desire to see their boss, well-disappear, Detective Anderson and Officer Kenner were losing interest in her as a potential murder suspect. Louella was disappointed. She was beginning to enjoy the suspense as they questioned her.

The police officers shuffled some papers, looked at each other significantly (Louella thought their expressions read something like "She's a flake, let her go" and was annoyed), and then the detective said, with a serious bassett-hound look, "You're free to go for the moment, Miss Preston. Don't leave Baltimore. We may need to get in touch with you to fill in some of the details."

"Could you at least tell me how Mr. McQuay was murdered?" Louella blurted.

"You'll be able to read all about it in the papers," he said.

"But I don't read the papers!"

"You're in public relations and you don't read the papers?" He raised his eyebrows. Louella noticed he wasn't half bad looking. She looked for a wedding ring. Damn! she thought.

"Well, only the clippings from our service. There's no time to read through the whole things."

"Well, we're not at liberty to discuss the case," he said, "but we can tell you the weapon appears to have been a set of extremely long, extremely tough fingernails. Do you know anyone who had nails like that?"

What? Do I look like an informant on my friends? thought Louella, realizing she did know one co-worker who sported such a set of enhanced fingernails. Nah, she'd never do anything like that. Let them find her themselves, it's not my job. Aloud, she said, "Well, did you look into his wife or maybe mistress? I mean, it might not have been one of us, you know."

"It's crossed our minds," he said drily.

Louella left the interrogation area with as much dignity as she could muster. She got one of the rent-a-cops to watch her remaining belongings as she carried her boxes of office memorabilia, one at a time, to a FedEx office on the first floor to ship them home to Baltimore. This is the last time I take a job in DC, she vowed. No more MARC train!

It was two o'clock when she finally got to the train station. It was hot and Louella realized she was extremely tired and depressed. Buck up, kiddo! she thought as she slumped on a waiting room bench. At least you didn't kill the jerk, however much you wanted to. She thought about Mary, the one with the fingernails, and tried to imagine the kind of pressure that would have been needed to do the deed.

I've got a lot of imagination! she realized, pleased. I can imagine it more than one way! Maybe it's time for me to write a romance novel or something. One big hit and I'd be set for life! God knows I've read enough of them to get a feel for the plots!

She realized she hadn't had lunch, and though she wasn't hungry-she never was-she went scouting for a sandwich and a bookstore. I'm gonna get unemployment, she reasoned. May as well spend a little and get myself some trash fiction. It's been a while.

She was astonished to find that a fine fat historical romance novel cost $5.95. There were hundreds to choose from. She had plenty of time to kill, so she browsed through about 20 of them, enjoying the covers and reading the blurbs. She bought the one with the best blurb.

Okay! All right! I'm gonna write one, too! she vowed as she went to the register.

- TO BE CONTINUED -

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