Clint knocked on Lionel’s apartment door. He wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. Linda’s call had certainly startled him to say the least. He supposed she probably needed help, moving furniture or sorting papers, and since she seemed to think he was Lionel’s friend she probably thought she could trust him. Though Clint wasn’t sure he’d trust anyone who could be friends with Lionel. And there had been something in Linda’s voice that had sounded…well off.
“Come in! The door’s unlocked!”
He opened the door and entered the apartment. He first noticed Linda standing in the middle of the living room, surveying the room. She turned on and him and asked abruptly,
“Did you clean this up?”
“No. Of course not. It was like this when I came over to pick up the papers for you.”
“Oh. I was afraid of that. I talked to the landlord as well and he also hadn’t touched it.”
“What’s wrong with it?” asked Clint, coming over to stand beside her.
“You knew Lionel. Does this look like him? It’s so…neat.”
Clint sighed. It was time to tell her the truth. “Honestly I didn’t know your husband all that well.”
She turned to him surprised. “What? You two were good friends.”
“No, I’m sorry. I saw him at work and that was about it.”
“But he said you were good friends. When we went on that double date-”
“I know,” said Clint, apologetically, “but honestly he just asked me because he knew I was dating someone. That was basically the only time I saw him off the job.”
“Oh. I see.” Linda bit her lip, suddenly uncertain.
“Though,” said Clint, “I do have one other confession. I did see him after your lawyer came to talk to me. He was staying at a motel. I suppose I should have let you know at the time since he owed you the child support.”
Linda moved over to the couch and sat down. “I was so sick of him blowing me off. I just lost my temper and hired a lawyer. Lionel and I were always losing our tempers at each other. It’s a wonder we ever stay levelheaded long enough to get married in the first place.”
Clint chuckled. “He could drive anyone mad.”
“I wasn’t perfect either,” Linda said. Clint wasn’t sure if her response was directed at him or herself. “Near the end…” She sighed and glanced up him. Catching his eyes, she smiled sheepishly. “I’m afraid the end of our marriage was a bit messy. I was a huge fan of Peter Glades you know.”
Clint laughed. “Really?”
“Yes. Huge fan. It eventually got on Lionel’s nerves. He said something along the lines of: ‘if you love Peter why don’t you just go marry him. He’s free now’. It was shortly after Layla Glades died you see. I probably should have dropped the whole thing, stopped bring a fan girl, but I was mad at Lionel about everything so I just started talking about Peter Glades more. Anything to rub Lionel the wrong way. I told myself I was perfectly within my rights to admire any actor I wanted and that it wasn’t my fault that Lionel was insecure.”
“Marriage can get pretty messy,” said Clint.
She nodded. “It can. But not all by itself. We both helped it along. The funny thing is though, since he’s died I keep remember all the good stuff.”
Clint resisted the temptation to raise an eyebrow and ask what possible good stuff there could be about Lionel. For once, bluntness was not called for. Linda though supplied one thing at least unasked.
“He was a wonderful father. You wouldn’t have thought it off him. But he really did love our kids. Telling them about the mugging…well that was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”
“Thank you.” She glanced around the apartment again. “I just wish I could believe that that’s what happened to him.”
Clint really did raise an eyebrow now. “Why would you ask that?”
“Honestly? I probably wouldn’t have if two people hadn’t showed up at my office a couple days before Christmas.”
“Wild guess here, but by any chance it wasn’t Holly Woods and Peter Glades was it?”
“Yes it was. They did mention your name.”
“Did they?” he muttered. “So they’ve convinced you something’s off too, huh?”
“There’s something off about this apartment,” counted Linda, crossing her arms, “That much I do know. Lionel was an out and out slob. Even in the hazy bliss of our first week of marriage, I couldn’t get him to pick up his own socks let alone clean anything else. This apartment was cleaned by someone and it wasn’t Lionel.”
Clint nodded. “I admit, it did surprise me too when I saw it. It doesn’t look like Lionel. And,” he admitted reluctantly, “when I saw him after your lawyer’s visit he did say something about expecting some money soon. At the time I thought he just had some inside scoop or something.”
“What do you think now?” she asked.
“Now?” he shrugged. “I don’t know. It all seems rather farfetched. But then crazier things have happened.”
There was a long pause during which Linda looked thoughtful. Finally though she nodded and announced, “Could you call Holly Woods and Peter? I want to speak to them.”