If he made a deal, the Sheriff might be freeing the man who murdered his wife. Blood Land.
May 11, 2013
A VG Serial: Blood Land
Chapter 9 – 2
The Town Attorney’s office was really only three attorneys: Beulah Jorgensen, Miles Stanton, and Shelly Delgado. Pruett had no way of being certain how deep the conspiracy went, but he doubted the other two attorneys were involved. The chances of carrying out a crime diminished exponentially as one added members to the operation. It also lowered the take.
Pruett called Shelly Delgado. Shelly was a divorcee with two children. Stanton was married with three children and a mortgage. Pruett just didn’t see motive in either of them, but Shelly Delgado lived small, and her ex, Joe Delgado, was an oil baron who paid her a handsome alimony settlement each month. Unlikely she would have anything to do with fraud for profit.
“City attorney’s office,” Delgado answered.
“Shell, it’s James Pruett.”
“Sheriff Pruett. How are you doing?”
“I’m well. Doing fine. Listen, Shell, you have time for a lunch date?”
“A date? Damn, Sheriff, you know how to talk to a lady.”
“Just the two of us, if you know what I mean? Professional-like,” he said.
“Sure, sweetie. Nothing Beulah needs to know about.”
Shelly was bright. Pruett was counting on it.
They met at Lyman’s Pub, a new bistro on the edge of town with a private patio.
“Were you involved at all in the McIntyre estate settlement,” Pruett asked.
“No,” Delgado replied. “Beulah does her side representation. We’re encouraged not to do the same ourselves.”
“That seems fair,” the sheriff said and drank his iced tea.
“Life, love, and war,” Shelly said.
“You’ve never struck me as the type to cause yourself debits in order to gain upward mobility.”
“I’m not a mover and a shaker, that what you are trying to say?”
“Guess so,” Pruett said thinking how good a cold microbrew would taste.
“I love the law,” she responded. “Always have. I figure as long as I am practicing, I’m doing what I was meant to be doing. I don’t need the moniker on the door.”
“I think Beulah is dirty,” Pruett said, laying it there in the middle of them. “I can’t prove anything as definite yet, but there is a strange and befouled undercurrent running in your office.”
Delgado said nothing.
“That doesn’t draw outrage?” Pruett said. “No indignation even?”
“We’re talking about my career now, Pruett,” she said slowly. “Right or wrong, I really don’t warm up to the idea of being unemployed. Not much lawyering going on in this little town, in case you hadn’t noticed. Mine is a pretty good gig for a small town girl.”
“Not for one with a love of the law,” he said.
“Maybe not,” Shelly said. “But we each make a sacrifice. Sometimes more than one.”
“I have suspicions,” Pruett said. “I wanted to bring it to you first. If you have no interest in justice, then I’ll go to Jackson. Or anywhere else in the state. I could even go to the Feds. I wanted to give you the chance, if you were willing.”
“You know what this will do for the defense, right?”
Pruett knew. He also knew Delgado was right. Everyone makes sacrifices. To put Beulah Jorgensen under indictment in the very conspiracy that started the wheels of murder headed toward his wife would be to hand the defense the case. He could be freeing the man who murdered his beloved.
“I know what it means,” Pruett said. “I also know what Bethy would have me do, were she able to say so.”
“Beulah has a place where she keeps her personal files,” Delgado said. “I mean personal. As in, hidden. She’s an oaf. Thinks no one is the wiser. You tell me what you have and maybe I’ll have a looksee into that private stock of paperwork.”
* * *
The next person to visit was J.W. Hanson. Pruett now knew of Ty’s intent to confess to the crime, and though he knew Hanson would try to talk the cowboy out of doing such a thing, Pruett figured the lawyer would be more motivated if he knew what train was barreling down the track. Pruett found Hanson at his hotel room, with Wendy.
“A minute of your time,” Pruett said, touching the tip of his hat and smiling at his daughter.
“Sure,” said Hanson. The two walked out into the parking lot of the Shady Day hotel.
“I know what Ty’s planning tomorrow,” Pruett said.
“He mentioned that he told you,” said Hanson. “Though I am sure that makes you a happy man, I am trying to convince him otherwise.”
“I figured,” said Pruett. “Ty can be stubborn.”
“On that much, we agree,” Hanson said.
“I have some information that might make your argument a little more convincing.”
“Sorry, more convincing?” Hanson said.
“I’m an officer of the law, Professor. This is a matter of due process, and of justice. I’m not interested in anything else,” Pruett said.
“My apologies,” Hanson allowed. “You were saying?”
“Beulah Jorgensen does some business on the side. She represented both Will and Rory McIntyre.”
“She disclosed these relationships in discovery,” Hanson said.
“Did she disclose she’s been taking sizeable payoffs from Rory McIntyre since the death of his father and the reading of the McIntyre will?”
Hanson stood there, incredulous, his chiseled features trying their best to twist themselves into a look of surprise. “You have proof of this allegation?”
“I can’t prove yet where the payoffs came from, but they’re big—too big for a Town Attorney—and they began three days after the reading of the will,” Pruett said.
“Shelly Delgado is looking into some files Beulah keeps on the side, see if there’s anything of interest there,” Pruett said.
“Why are you doing this?” he said. “I mean, you know what Ty intends to do.”
“I want what’s right and fair, Professor. My own daughter has never really believed that about me. Not sure I’ve always believed it. But it’s what I want.”
“You should know something,” Hanson said. “In the spirit of full disclosure.”
Pruett looked at him.
“This is a breach,” the professor said. “But I feel under the circumstances I can trust you with this information.”
“Shoot,” Pruett said.
“We’ve already met with Jorgensen. Ty refuses to take any plea arrangement. In fact, he is asking for the maximum penalty.”
“And Jorgensen is agreeable?” Pruett said.
“I’d describe her as giddy,” Hanson remarked.
The hatred in Pruett burned. Fuck it, he thought. Time to pull harder on the fray.
Chapters of the serial are published Monday through Saturday.
You can learn more about R. S. Guthrie’s novels on his Amazon Author’s Page.