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 Category:  Mystery and Crime Fiction
  Posted: October 17, 2020      Views: 21
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Chapter 15 of the book Pewter's Homecoming
Roland meets the sheriff.
"Chapter 5 - Present" by teols2016
Five years later, a closed homicide gets a second look.

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.

"What can I do for you folks?" a deputy asked as Roland, Janice, and Phillip entered the Alter County Sheriff's Department's sole station.

"We'd like a word with the sheriff," Roland explained.

"You have an appointment?" the deputy, the nameplate above his badge reading C. Morgan, asked.

"No," Roland admitted. "Is he available?"

Deputy Morgan's eyes narrowed.

"What's this about?" he asked.

"With all due respect, I'd like to explain it directly to the sheriff," Roland replied. "Is he available?"

He stood there, trying to make it clear he wouldn't leave without speaking to the sheriff. Janice and Phillip stood behind him, silent and waiting.

"I'll see if he has time," Deputy Morgan said. "Have a seat there."

He pointed to a bench by the front door and walked away.

"He ought to have time," Roland muttered under his breath. "This town hasn't seen a murder in five years."

The three sat, Janice and Phillip not hiding how uncomfortable they felt while Roland continued trying his best to appear confident. He hoped circumstances would be on their side.

The previous year, Alter County sheriff Keith Darden was defeated in his re-election bid by Aaron Waller, a native of Pewter who'd come back to town with a Masters Degree in Criminal Justice. Sheriff Darden's questionable tactics, bordering on racial profiling, had piled up so much, the younger man was able to gather support to challenge him. The son of a white mother and Mexican father, he'd won the election by one and a half percentage points.

A door soon opened, and Roland recognized sheriff Aaron Waller from his photos. Now twenty-six, the man seemed to be more politician than law enforcer, but no one was complaining ... yet. Roland wouldn't hold the fact this sheriff graduated from Texas A&M against him.

"You folks here to see me?" Sheriff Waller asked in a sharp southern accent as he came towards the bench.

"Yes," Roland said, rising to his feet.

"You must be Roland Davis."

Roland was surprised and the sheriff chuckled.

"If you want to keep a low profile, don't pay for your lunch with a credit card that your big-city law firm covers the bill for," he explained. "Oh, and having had a career in the NFL doesn't help. Tony's a football fanatic. And, there are no secrets in this town."

He grinned, clearly proud of being one step ahead of Roland.

"Let's talk in my office," he suggested.

"Sure," Roland agreed.

"We'll wait out here," Phillip volunteered. He and Janice weren't moving off the bench.

Roland gave them a nod over his shoulder as he followed Sheriff Waller across the station's main room.

"Have a seat," Sheriff Waller offered as they entered his office. He shut the door and sat behind his desk.

"You're representing Andrew Mooruff," he said.

Roland stared at him and he chuckled again.

"Why else would a big-city lawyer from Dallas be visiting our sleepy little town?" Sheriff Waller asked. "It doesn't take much brain power. You are lucky Tony hasn't put it together yet, because it'll be all over Pewter ten minutes after that happens."

He leaned across his desk, his face growing serious.

"What are you doing here?" he asked.

"Like you said, I'm representing Andrew Mooruff," Roland explained. "I was wondering if I could take a look at the physical evidence used against him."

Sheriff Waller leaned back in his chair again.

"That ain't happening without a court order," he said. "After ousting many town officials for mismanagement and similar issues, including the sheriff and district attorney, we gotta play by the rules. What's your interest in it anyway?"

"I have ... questions," Roland replied.

Sheriff Waller raised an eyebrow.

"What kind of questions?" he queried.

Roland didn't answer that. He wouldn't answer that.

"You think he did it?" he asked instead.

"At face value, I'd have my doubts," Sheriff Waller admitted. "That little guy against those two girls, or even just the blonde? All other facts set aside, I'd think It wouldn't end well for him."

He exhaled.

"But," he continued, "that's what evidence is for. DNA ... fingerprints ... it's as straight-forward a case as I've ever seen. As straight-forward as it was brutal."

"Okay," Roland said. "So, I can't see the evidence ... yet. I can talk to people."

"No law against that," Sheriff Waller agreed, "provided you don't go harassing anyone."

"Who could I talk to?"

Sheriff Waller thought about this for a few seconds.

"His mama still lives on the outskirts here," he said. "Despite everything, she refuses to leave her family's home. August Ericson's still working at the school, though that's a miracle. People wanted to lynch him for hiring Andrew Mooruff after it all happened."

"Andrew mentioned a girl he used to date," Roland said. "Ruby something."

Sheriff Waller nodded.

"Ruby Kressler," he said. "I heard about her. Those two were the loosest definition of 'dating' anyone's ever seen. I think she pitied your boy for a while. Anyway, she's gone. She married some soldier out of Fort Bliss about three years ago. She hasn't been seen since."

Roland wondered how he'd break the news to his client. Andrew had asked him to see if Ruby could come visit him at the Polunsky Unit.

"That's all I can think of," Sheriff Waller said.

"Thanks for your time, Sherriff," Roland said, getting up and heading to the door.

"Be careful," Sheriff Waller advised. "People aren't going to take your queries kindly. The majority here wants your boy in the ground five years ago."

Roland nodded and left the office.

The book continues with Chapter 6 - Before Homecoming. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Keith Darden: previous sheriff of Alter County. Personally investigated the locker room attack.

Charles Morgan: lowest-ranking deputy in the Alter County Sheriff's Department. First to arrive at the high school after the girls' bodies were found in the locker room.

Roland Davis: corporate attorney and former NFL player who is assigned to work pro-bono on Andrew Mooruff's appeals.

Janice Cooper: junior associate assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Phillip Decker: paralegal assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Aaron Waller: sheriff of Alter County. Defeated/succeeded Sheriff Keith Darden.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.
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