He swore to make sure that she got her justice.

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A VG Serial: ToxiCity

Episode 23

Parts of Deerfield are rustic by design. In any other location, the large homes with big picture windows and redwood decks would overwhelm the landscape. But here, sequestered behind acres of forest preserve, they blended in.

Matt pulled into the driveway of a large house overlooking a woodsy setting. A crisp, sunny afternoon, he caught the distant scent of burning leaves. The door to a three-car garage was open, and he saw a Mercedes sport utility and a Beemer inside. Trudging up to the house, he spotted an unmarked at the curb across the street. He remembered he was supposed to meet a Detective from Deerfield.

As he pushed the buzzer, Matt noticed a silver mezuzah on the doorframe. The woman who opened the door looked to be in her mid to late forties. Dressed in slacks and a blazer, she had straight brown hair clipped to her ears, giving her a waifish, young appearance. She wasn’t a looker, but there was something clean and attractive about her.

“Mrs. Simon?” Matt flashed his shield. “I ‘m Detective Matt Singer from Glenbrook. I’m sorry for your loss.”

“Save it, Singer. I’m Carrie Nelson. Deerfield.”

Matt stuffed the badge in his jeans pocket. “Where’s the wife?”

“In the kitchen. She asked me to chase away any rubberneckers. But don’t worry. I waited for you.” She turned and started down the hall.

“When’d you get here?”

“About fifteen minutes ago. I pulled the missing persons report before I came. Thought you’d want it.” She handed it over.

“Thanks.” He yanked a thumb toward the end of the hall. “She okay?”

“She’s a charmer.”

Matt skimmed the report. On Sunday morning, Charlene Simon reported her husband Louis, a dentist, had been missing since Friday afternoon. That was highly unusual, she claimed. He was never gone more than a few hours without her knowing his whereabouts. Officer John Barrymore took the call. Matt scratched his cheek. Barrymore had talked to the woman, made a few calls, then fed the information into NCIC, the national crime database. Nelson was scheduled to follow up Monday if the husband didn’t show up. Today was Tuesday.

“What happened yesterday?” Matt looked up. “There’s no paper.”

“When I found out Simon didn’t come home, I called around. Hospitals, the guy’s office, his gym, the bank. I was just gearing up when you found him.”

Matt followed Nelson into the kitchen, a huge room paneled in bleached oak with a quarry-tile floor. There was a fireplace at one end and a large bay window at the other. In the middle was a huge island, also oak. Along the walls were a six-burner stove, a commercial-sized grill and two ovens, sinks, and refrigerators. An impressive array of gadgets sat on marble counters, all of them so chrome-clean he wondered if the tags were still attached.

A tall, slender woman in a white turtleneck and navy pants poured coffee at the island, a portable phone in her ear. With sunken cheeks, a pronounced chin, and taut skin that plastic surgery must have stretched at least once, she looked like an anorexic Mary Tyler Moore. Matt listened as she repeated a flight number and arrival time and scribbled on a scrap of paper.

When she put the phone down, Matt extended his hand. “I’m Matt Singer from the village of Glenbrook. I’m sorry for intruding at such a sad time.”

She stared at his hand as if it was covered in scabies. “Where were you when my husband needed you?”

He looked into a face that said she’d seen it all, and it wasn’t enough.

Nelson cut in. “Mrs. Simon is upset that we couldn’t do more when she first reported her husband missing.”

“If you were doing your job, my husband might still be alive.” Her dark eyes scorched with anger.

“I understand how you must feel, ma’am,” Matt said. “But I read the report. Officer Barrymore handled it well. He —”

“You stick up for each other, don’t you?” She shot him a look. “I’ve heard the stories.”

Matt glanced over at Nelson, but her eyes roved the room. He looked back at the widow. “We’ve convened the Violent Crimes Task Force, ma’am, which means that your husband’s death is the highest priority investigation on the North Shore. We’re assembling people and resources on a large scale, and we won’t stop until we find out who was responsible.”

She lifted the coffee cup to her lips and took a tiny sip. “Just like Jon Benet.”

Matt looked around. A small blue label on the front of a cabinet caught his eye. He was just able to make out five letters. D-A-I-R-Y.

“You know Mrs. Simon, there’s an old saying in the Torah. ‘Justice and only justice shall you follow.’ I guarantee you that I will do everything possible to make sure you get justice.”

She froze, her coffee cup in mid-air, and inspected him as if he was a curious but unusual species. Then she set her cup down and moved to the cabinets. Opening a door, she pulled out two mugs, walked back to the island, and poured coffee into both.

Matt watched. She opened the refrigerator and pulled out a carton of cream and non-dairy creamer. She offered the non-dairy creamer to Matt, a question on her face.

Matt shook his head. “Milk is fine.”

Mrs. Simon nodded and put the creamer back. Nelson, who’d been watching them both, frowned. While the woman’s back was turned, Matt motioned that he’d explain later.



Episodes in the novel will be published on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Please click the following title,ToxiCity, to read more about Libby Fischer Hellman’s books on Amazon.

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