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 Category:  Mystery and Crime Fiction
  Posted: October 20, 2020      Views: 18
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Chapter 21 of the book Pewter's Homecoming
Roland has some fun.
"Chapter 7 - 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.

After their near-collision with Gabriel Harvey and his friends, Janice and Phillip were keen to return to their hotel rooms. They planned to order a pizza for dinner and asked Roland if he wanted to join them. Feeling restless, the attorney declined and headed into the hotel's lobby, blocking out their discussion about possible toppings.

"Where's a good bar?" he asked the young man behind the reception desk.

"Right here," the young man said with apparent pride, pointing over Roland's shoulder.

Roland turned to see an entrance across the lobby. Beyond it was the usual bar scene, with a portion of the wooden counter and half a dozen patrons visible through the entryway.

"Best in town," the young man behind the reception desk added. "Used to be you were only allowed in if you were a guest here, but that wasn't pulling in enough revenue. So, they opened it to everyone."

Roland gave him a nod of thanks and crossed the lobby. The bar seemed simple enough and that was fine. He was more interested in the contents the place had to offer than how they were presented.

"Scotch," he said when the bartender took notice of him.

"Sure thing, Chief," the gray-haired man said with a wave of his glass-holding hand. His response suggested no recognition and Roland appreciated that.

Roland settled into a barstool, resting his elbows on the wooden counter. Jazz music was playing, but the volume was low to create an intimate atmosphere. Texas-based sports memorabilia adorned the walls and Roland hoped he wasn't recognized. After Andrew Mooruff, his football career and his lack of having represented Texas in the NFL was the last thing he wanted to discuss at this moment.

"Gin and tonic," someone said, coming up next to him.

Roland realized the speaker was a woman and that her voice sounded somewhat familiar. He didn't turn to look as the bartender put his Scotch down in front of him and set to work on her order.

"Hey, Big Man," the woman said, her voice turned towards him.

Surprised, Roland looked at her. It took a moment to achieve recognition, but it came. The woman was Emily, the waitress from Gately's, where he and the others had stopped for lunch.

"Let me guess," Emily said. "You're staying at this hotel."

Roland nodded, seeing no point in denying it. This was one of only two hotels in town, so it wasn't a stretch of the imagination to conclude his wealthy big-city firm would pay for the nicer establishment.

"Heard about your run-in with Gabe Harvey this afternoon," Emily said, sliding onto the barstool next to him.

Roland raised an eyebrow but said nothing. Emily laughed.

"You don't realize how small this town is," she said. "You can't sneeze without getting a 'God bless you' from everyone you encounter for the rest of the day."

"Nice," Roland remarked in a bitter tone.

"That's how it is."

Emily's drink arrived and she took a long sip. Roland took the opportunity to study her. The blue and yellow Gately's uniform was gone. She was wearing dark slacks and a olive-green blouse. Her brunette hair was down, and she'd put on a little make-up. Having had years of practice admiring beautiful women, Roland averted his eyes as Emily turned her attention from her drink back to him.

"You find what you're looking for?" she asked.

"Not yet," Roland replied. Granted, this quest would be easier if he knew what he was looking for. Evidence indicating Andrew Mooruff's innocence would be nice, but he wasn't completely sure the man was innocent. He just had doubts. DNA and fingerprints tended to beat doubts like rock beat scissors, but they didn't eliminate those doubts.

"You still working?" Emily asked.

"No," Roland said and was pleased by her smile. "What brings you here?"

Popular as the bar might be, it was in Pewter's so-called "commercial district", far from the high school and Gately's.

"I come in a couple times a week," Emily said. "I like to unwind."

"Looks like it's working," Roland remarked, casting another admiring glance over her body. She seemed very relaxed and confident. Her smile enhanced that image.

"You're quite the sweet-talker," Emily said. "That work during your football-playing days?"

"Maybe," Roland said, offering a sly smile of his own.

"I might have figured. Commitment issues?"

Roland shook his head.

"Not really," he said. "I just always focused on football and, when I retired from that, work. But, I do like to have fun."

He reached out and pushed two stray brunette strands out of Emily's face, tucking them behind her ear.

"Aren't we bold," she remarked. "These days, something like that might be taken in a very wrong way."

"You're not complaining," Roland pointed out, glad his move seemed to be working. He'd considered the possibility of being slapped and/or arrested, but chose to take the risk.

"I'm not so sensitive," Emily said. "I can handle myself."

"Then what would you do if someone confessed how they couldn't take their eyes off you?" Roland inquired. He was enamored by her confidence.

"How would I know if he doesn't say anything outright?" Emily asked. "I'm sure I've got about half a dozen sets of eyes on me right now, including the cute auburn-haired gal in the corner ... definitely just passing through."

Roland knew the majority of the hotel's guests came to Pewter on business, the majority related to the wind turbines outside of town. The owners of those machines lived far away from this place.

"But only one man will come forward," Roland said, leaning close to Emily. "And he won't give anyone else a chance to top him."

Emily smiled again.

"Two more over here!" Roland said, pulling away and hailing the bartender. It looked like he'd have a nice distraction from work tonight. It had been a while since he'd had some fun.

The book continues with Chapter 8 - 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. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the 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.

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.

Emily Winters: server at Gately's, a local eatery in Pewter.

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