Their killers was working in two-week intervals.

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A VG Serial: ToxiCity

Episode 67

Twenty minutes later Brewster had pulled up a dozen articles on Meadow City. Stone read them. When he finished, he stared at the wall. Two children had died. Their families had tried to take action, but after years of litigation, thousands of dollars, and a litany of excuses, they came out with nothing.

“Stone.” Brewster’s voice broke his concentration. Stone looked up. Brewster was clutching one of the articles.

“What’s up?”

“The company that did the clean-up? At Meadow City?” He pointed to the article. “It was Prairie State Environmental Services.”

“The company downstate? Where they found the bodies of the contractor and the owner’s son?”

“On the perimeter of a toxic waste site.” Brewster handed over the article. Stone read it.

Romano, Simon, Landon. All connected to Meadow City. And now the deaths at Prairie State were too. And all of them dumped in landfills or waste disposal sites. He ordered the Task Force to begin tracking down everyone associated with Meadow City: lawyers, plaintiffs, defendants, witnesses, even experts.

“But most important, I want the families who lived there. I want to know where they were the nights of the murders, and I want to know where they’ve been for the past twenty years.”

“Jesus. That could take days,” Brewster said.

“Then I guess you’d better get started.”

Within minutes, the sounds of conversations, faxes, and copiers hummed through the air. Stone could almost smell the anticipation. He reread the article about Prairie State. Two bodies, one of them the son who had taken over the father’s business. Like Ricki Feldman.

Stone jumped up and scanned the time-line on the wall. Their killer was working in two-week intervals. Today was Wednesday. The day before Thanksgiving. After that, a long weekend and the unofficial launch of the Christmas shopping season. That would make two weeks since Landon’s death. He hoped they weren’t too late.

 ***

“More turkey, dear?” Matt’s mother asked.

“No thanks. It was delicious.” He lied. The turkey was as dry as sandpaper. He glanced at his father, who was still dutifully chewing.

“What do you hear from Shelly?” Matt asked. His sister, who lived outside D.C., hadn’t been able to make it out this year. Something about her son’s championship soccer match.

“She and Ben are going to the Bahamas,” his mother answered. Like Matt, Shelly had gone to school out East. The difference was she never came back. This year, it was a quiet Thanksgiving, just the three of them. And the empty chair on the other side of the table.

“That’s nice,” Matt said without enthusiasm.

“You should think about it,” his mother said.

“Oh, I don’t think I’d like it much in the Bahamas.”

“I didn’t mean there, necessarily, but you could use a vacation.” Evelyn smiled brightly. Her forced gaiety was grating. How could she be so cheery? He began to understand what Georgia meant about putting things in boxes. It must run in the family.

His mother started to pick up the plates.

“Here, I’ll help.” Matt rose from the table.

“Sit. I can manage.”

But he had to move. He followed her into the kitchen.

She bent over the dishwasher and pulled out the tray. “I’m sorry about Georgia,” she said.

He stacked the dishes in the sink.

“She was a lovely woman.”

“Then why did you treat her like crap?”

His mother straightened up. “Watch your language.”

“You did. You excluded her. Made her feel like a goya.”

“I didn’t intend to. She—it was a difficult situation.”

“But it wasn’t your situation. It was mine.”

“You’re right. And if you had married her, we would have supported you. Look at Shelly and Ben.” She scraped food off the plates and loaded them into the dishwasher.

“Mother, Ben is Jewish.”

“He’s Reform.”

He let out a whoosh of air. “No wonder Shelly lives seven hundred miles away.”

“Matthew, that’s enough.” She filled the soap dispenser, closed the dishwasher, switched it on. “I know you’re unhappy. I see your pain. It cuts through me like a knife. If there were something I could do to make it go away, I would.” She faced him. “Don’t you think I wonder why your only serious girlfriends were both gentile? I realize I’m not the warmest person by nature. I don’t cuddle and hug. And I know I wasn’t much of a feminine role model, or whatever they call them these days. But that doesn’t make me love you any less.”

Matt didn’t know what to say. His mother had never talked to him like this.

“You know, I’ve tried not to throw your heritage in your face, but we can trace our family tree back to the seventeenth century. There aren’t many families, Jewish or otherwise, who can. I’m proud that we’ve raised such a prominent line of rabbis and scholars. And I’m equally proud that Hitler, the animal, couldn’t destroy us. You and Shelly are the proof. We won.”

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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