Wake Up Maggie(3)By: Beth Yarnall
“Gee, thanks. Can you manage to pull yourself away from my humiliation long enough to give me a ride?” I told him where to pick me up, promising to fill him in on the stuff that wasn’t already on the Internet.
I gave old Chocolate Eyes his phone back. “Thanks Mr.… Detective…”
Yeah, I could see the “special”. “What? Was Super Agent already taken?”
I got the full-tilt, crinkly-eyed smile. “Special Agent Clive Poole…FBI.”
My time with Chuck Puckett hadn’t been all bad. We’d had some good times, like the time he took me to that carnival and won a stuffed animal for me. It might have been a photo op set up by his people, but at the time, I didn’t care. As he’d handed me the oversized elephant that now rested in peace at the dump after being drilled with a few hundred rounds from my semiautomatic, he’d done so with the crooked grin that had reeled me in from the start. Chuck Puckett had oozed charm, secreting good-natured humor and gentlemanly goodness through every pore.
Good. That was how I’d describe him. Genuinely nice. The voters had thought so too, reelecting him to a second term by a landslide. He’d been handsome, blond with the ruddy-cheeked ruggedness from a Land’s End catalog. Some girls liked bad boys, some suits. Me? I had a weakness for flannel and guys who could make a snowman and a cup of hot cocoa.
No, he hadn’t been all bad. It was these sentimental musings that had led me to be sitting in my car in front of the church where Chuck Puckett would be eulogized. The same church where generations of Pucketts had been baptized, married and mourned. Chuck Puckett had talked about us being married here as though it were a certainty and not the consolation it apparently had been for banging his southeast slut on the side.
The mourners filed up the steps in twos and threes. I recognized a few political cronies, family members and friends. This was the crowd I’d run with during the year Chuck Puckett and I had been together. I hadn’t thought I’d fit in, but he’d paved the way so that even the snootiest political wife air-kissed me with the same enthusiasm as she would the first lady. It was nice that so many had shown up to honor him.
I flipped down the visor and opened the mirror to dab at unexpected tears. I didn’t know why I was crying over Chuck Puckett. I was supposed to be mad at him, furious at the cheating rat bastard. But a new, surprising emotion had replaced my anger—regret.
I climbed out of my car and picked my way around the puddles left over from last night’s rain. I knew better than to wear suede pumps, but they’d gone so perfectly with my outfit. Head down, I didn’t see the mob until I was in the midst of it and then it was too late. Shouts of “Why’d you do it, Maggie?” and “Murdering Maggie!” drowned out the somber strains coming from inside the church. Reporters jostled me from all sides, and I would’ve fallen if a strong hand hadn’t gripped my elbow, steadying me.
“I got you.” Super Agent Poole put his arm around me and hustled me up the church steps and into an unoccupied antechamber off the main vestibule. He didn’t release me. Instead he gripped both my shoulders and gave me a little shake. “Are you crazy? What in the hell are you doing here?”
Not the reunion I’d pictured. In my imaginings there’d been flattering words and smoldering looks. What I got was two hundred and fifty pounds of pissed-off G-man.
“You shouldn’t be here.”
“Why not?” I asked. Who was this guy to tell me what to do?
“The cops are already looking for a reason to charge you with murder. Showing up at the victim’s funeral only helps their case.”
“Oh.” I hadn’t thought of that. No wonder the sharks out front had circled and bumped me like it was feeding time.
“I can take you out the back way.” He started to steer me to a door on the other side of the room.
Holding up a hand, I dug in my heels. “Wait.”
“Why are you here?”
“A senator was murdered.”
That was as good an answer as any, I supposed. “What about you?”