Friendship's Beginning

by Xena's Protegee

Alex sat in the porch swing just relaxing. It was a cool evening for May but not so cool that she needed anything more than the t-shirt & jeans she wore. It was almost dark now. Her ranch was far enough away from the city that only the frogs in the pond just beyond the stable & a few crickets disturbed the silence that living in the country provided at night.

Since her divorce 2 years ago she had moved to her parents ranch & lived alone - loving every minute of it. She was an only child so after her parents died, at the hands of a drunk driver, the ranch was hers. It had sat abandoned now for 10 years because she & her husband Ron, of 15 years had shared an apt in the city. Ron had made it clear, after her parents death, that they would stay in the city, after all he wasnt a country boy & didnt intend to be one.
Her mind drifted back to the day the police had come to her door to tell her of the accident. Thinking of that period in her life was still very painful.
It was interesting but even in a city with thousands of people she felt alone, so alone. If it hadn't been for her best friend Sabastian, a 50 lb black Lab she would have gone nuts. As if reading her mind, Basty came & layed his head on her lap. He could do that you know, read her mind. No one believed her but she knew it was true. She couldnt recall how many times she'd be reading a book & feel someone watching her. She'd look up only to find Basty staring at her as if he were studying her, looking into her soul even. She had mentioned this to Ron many times but he only reminded her that a dog's attention span was only maybe a minute long & thats why dogs never look a human in the eyes for very long before turning away. Well, what did Ron know about animals? After all, he was a city boy! Okay, maybe that was true about most dogs but Basty was special. "Huh fellow?" she whispered while gently stroking between his ears. He seemed to smile, then wagged his tail in agreement.
Alex fit into this lifestyle almost perfectly except for one thing, her passion for bikes of any kind-. dirt bikes or street legal bikes, she had one of each. Although she loved riding, the bumper to bumper traffic of the city tended to frustrate her but here with the endless dirt roads & paths leading high into the mountains...well, she felt free again. She'd have to admit, it was also amusing to watch the locals' heads turn when she rode by. She smiled to herself now at the thought but she couldnt blame them, after all it wasn't an everyday occurance here to see a female biker - leather jacket & all zooming up & down these lonely backroads.

PT 2
Gaye walked into her darkroom. She had to develop these negatives by tomorrow. She had taken 3 rolls at the Anderson's wedding today.Photography was fun, she had always enjoyed taking pictures, but as a hobby not a career. If she wanted to be a nurse she had to make money somehow so she was a part-time freelance photographer & full-time nursing student. Healing people was where her heart was maybe even a doctor one day, who knows? For now, it was taking pictures of kids, birthdays,anniversaries, & like today, weddings. Weddings were the hardest on her. Gaye was 26 & never been married, engaged once but that didnt work out. She could see herself getting married one day & yes even having a child or two, but for now, her focus had to be on nursing school & making enough money to survive until she graduated & got a job.

Most people called Gaye either stupid or stubborn because her parents, both attorneys, had plenty of money & had offered to pay her way through school & furnish her an apt. but she refused their help. Stupid? no..stubborn?..more like strong-willed & independant, at least thats how she thought of herself.She had been given most things on a silver platter growing up, the best private schools, dance,piano, tennis lessons just to name a few of the activities her parents had encouraged her to get into as a child. Oh & yes, she was grateful for the advantages she'd had but maybe it was time to try things on her own now.

Alex had to make some decisions soon. Her parents had left some money but it wouldn't last long. It cost quite a bit of money just to keep up the ranch: utilities,taxes,general upkeep on the place not to mention she & Basty had to eat. So, she had to figure out a way to bring in money.
It was getting late,she got up from the swing & walked into the house. As she stepped inside it hit her.This was a huge house maybe she could take in some borders. Sure...why not? She'd put an ad in the paper tomorrow.

Gaye was tired. It had been a very long day & tomorrow promised to be even longer. She slipped into bed. Her body & mind ached for rest...sleep. How long had it been since she'd gotten a good nights sleep? Not really since she'd moved here she realized. The walls in her apt were paper-thin. Every night when she layed down it seemed that the family in the apt next to her were in the same room. She knew when they fought & when they made love, & their baby cries a lot as well. They werent bad people in her opinion just normal but she didnt need to know so much about them. If only she had somewhere else to go. She decided she would look for another place tomorrow.

 PT 3
Gaye finally decided to get up. The alarm wouldnt go off for another hour or so but she hadn't slept so no need to just lie in bed.Usually before school she'd drop off by the local donut shop for breakfast, maybe she'd just head out early this morning. Frieda the manager of the shop was always friendly so she'd just go visit with her if Frieda wasn't too busy.

Gaye didnt own a car, she lived within walking distance of most places she needed or wanted to go & then there was the taxi service if she really needed it. Actually, she enjoyed walking except during the winter. She was getting used to the ice & snow here & had managed to make it all last winter without any broken bones from falling on the ice, although she would admit to a few bruises on her backside from slipping a couple times.

The donut shop was only 2 blocks from Gaye's apt so it didnt take long for her to arrive. As soon as she looked through the window she noticed there were no customers there, 'Good, they could visit' she thought to herself. Gaye didnt have any friends, maybe it was time to make one.

She walked to the counter. Frieda smiled & said, "Your out early".
"Yes, too noisy in my apt to sleep" Gaye responded.Frieda had a puzzled look on her face so she added, "paper thin walls, loud neighbors. Long story, sorry."
Frieda smiled again & said,"Oh, I understand. I just finished making coffee, want a cup?"
"Yes, please & a lemon-filled this morning."
:"Coming right up" Friedas said "Go ahead...sit,I'll bring them".

When Frieda came to the table Gaye noticed she was carrying two cups of coffee. "I know we dont really know each other.." Frieda said nervously "but I was wondering if I could join you this morning?"
Gaye smiled & said more quickly than she meant to,"Sit please...I was hoping actually that we might visit."
"Gee, forgot your donut. I'll be right back." Frieda jumped up & ran behind the counter grabbing the donut & ran back to put it in front of Gaye."There, sorry."

While telling Frieda her dream of becoming a nurse Gaye looked at Freida & noticed for the first time that Frieda must be in her 50s . Gaye just barely 20 didnt mind that but it seemed strange how easy it was to talk to someone that much older than her. After Gaye finished, she looked at Frieda & asked,"Frieda, you married?"
Frieda looked down at her coffee cup as if trying to find the answer inside the blackness of the coffee. Finally after what seemed forever to Gaye, Frieda looked up. "Me...married?" smiling she continued, "I almost tied the knot once though, until I found out he liked whiskey more than me. What a shocker that was.Amazing how he'd hidden that so well over the year." Frieda smiled again & went back to studying the blackness of her cup.
"Oh Frieda, I'm so sorry. I didnt mean to bring up..."
Frieda raised her hand & said,"No child, its okay, that was many years ago. Water under the bridge as they say." But Gaye knew it wasnt many years ago to Frieda, it was only yesterday in her mind.

As Gaye tried to think of something to say to brighten the mood, a loud, roaring sound outside got both their attention. They turned their faces toward the window but Frieda had a better angle so she saw before Gaye & said calmly but intently, "Well, it looks like Hell's Angels have come to our small town, saints preserve us all." Frieda made the sign of a cross on her chest.

Gaye was now able to see what unnerved Freida so badly. A motorcycle, right outside the window & on it a black figure, well at least it looked black with its black leather jacket, black jeans, black boots, black helmet with a dark visor. The figure dismounted the bike as if it were a  steed, pulled off its helmet & started toward the shop. "It's a WOMAN !! Frieda, its a woman!". Frieda looked at the approaching figure for the first time since the horrible realization that one of Hell's Angel's was just outside her shop. "Good Lord, it *is* a woman! What is this world coming to child?"
Gaye wasnt sure if this question was directed at her or God or just in general so she decided not to answer & quickly returned her gaze to the window & the dark figure drawing closer.

PT 4
The figure opened the door to the shop & stepped inside. Frieda stood up weakly & with a shaking voice said,"Can I help you?". The black figure held out her hand & spoke,"Hi. I'm Alex Mitchell".
"Hi, what can I do for you?" Frieda did not take her hand but instead rushed behind the counter. Alex walked to the counter as well & began eyeing the many different types of donuts displayed behind the glass. "Hmm, first you can give me a half dozen creme-filled & 2 just plain donuts, please. The plain are for 'Basty, I'm putting him on a diet."
Gaye was intriqued by this woman & could keep quiet no longer. She wanted to know more about her. "Basty? Your husband? Oh, sorry, I'm Gaye Jackson".
Alex laughed, "'Basty's my Lab. I'm not married, at least not anymore."
Gaye was embarrassed but had to know more, "Oh sorry. I didnt see a dog with live around here?"
Just as Alex was about to respond, the door swung open & there stood Grady, the town sheriff & his deputy, Milton.
Frieda looked at them. "Hi fellows, here for breakfast?"
"Nope" the sheriff said,"just saw that motorcycle & wondered who's it was".
Alex spoke up, "It's mine".
"And who might you be little lady?" was the question he shot quickly back at her.
"I *might* be Madonna but my parents named me Alex Mitchell" she shot back sarcastically with a faint grin on her face. At this remark everyone chuckled, including Milton. Realizing she had gotten the best of him he said," Don't get smart with me Missy! I'm the law here or don't you motorcycle hussies know a police officier when you see one?"
At this remark Alex had to hold back her right hand with her left to stop herself from assaulting the pot-bellied sheriff. She could feel she was one step away from being locked up so her sensible side took over & she decided she was tiring of this game anyway so she calmly said,"Look Sheriff, have I broken some law, is that why you're here?"
"No, I just wondered if you were passing through." His voice softer now since she had backed down & he had won, at least thats the way he saw it.
"Well, actually I'm not. I live up on Route 8"
"Route 8?" he repeated "The only empty place up that way would be the Harrison Ranch".
"Not empty anymore" Alex answered back."The Harrison's were my parents & when they died the ranch became mine, never needed a place to live until now."
"Well, in that case, we'll be going. Come on Milton, theres work to do."
As soon as the door closed Gaye released the laugh she held for so long." really told him, that was so funny. Madonna hehehe."
"Never seen him so mad" Frieda finally said."He sure deserved what he got but just a friendly word of advice, be careful, he has a mean temper. Don't push him too hard."
"Thanks, I'll remember that. Well, I guess I'd better head out." Alex said turning towards the door."Oh, almost forgot why I really came.Would you hang a sign on your door for me? I need someone to share expenses with me, a roommate or boarders maybe."
Frieda said, "Sure, no problem".
Alex went to her bike & got the sign & handed it to Frieda."Thanks" she said & headed back to her bike "Nice meeting you Gaye" then waved & rode away.

Gaye picked up a pen & pad from the counter & walked slowly over to the sign Frieda had taped to the door. Frieda noticed Gaye looking at the sign& writing, "You arent considering moving in with her are you?" she asked.
"Why not? It should be nice & quiet on a ranch outside of the town".
"Well my goodness child, a woman like that has to be connected with a gang of some sort".
"Oh come on Frieda, just because she rides a motorcycle?"
"Well, thats just part of it. Did you see those clothes she was wearing? All black...something weird about that. You know the way she talked to the Sheriff, you have to admit she didnt show much respect for the law".
"Oh, & I guess you think he was respectful to her? Come out of the Dark Ages Frieda."
Gaye put the pen & pad back on the counter & said, "Frieda, I know you're just trying to help but I'm an adult, I can take care of myself. Don't worry, I've been around...I know how things are. I'll be careful." She realized that the statement she'd made about how she'd been around was overstated slightly but after all, she wasnt stupid & she felt sure Alex wasnt dangerous...just different. "Frieda, I have to go. I enjoyed talking with you, we'll do it again okay?"
"Sure Gaye, anytime."

There was one more thing Gaye had to do before school, well, actually two. She had to go to the bank & write a check for some cash. Her parents had given her some blank checks before she left home in case she needed anything. She'd fill one out now & go to the used car dealership & buy a car. If she was moving to the country she'd need a car & right after school she would go to find Alex & tell her she had a boarder.

PT 5
The day seemed endless for Gaye but school was finally over. She found a phone, took out the piece of paper Alex's number was on & punched in the numbers. The phone rang 5 times when Gaye finally heard a voice say "Hello?"
"Hello, Alex?"
"Yes, this is Alex"
"Alex, this is Gaye, we met at the donut shop" Gaye's voice showed her nervousness more than she would have liked.
"Gaye? Oh yes...what can I do for you?"
"Well, I was looking for a place to live so I was wondering..."
"Isnt it interesting that I just happen to have a room to rent." Alex said trying not to show her excitement. They both laughed.
"When can I look at it?"
"Oh, I'm here most of the time. For some reason, I dont have a big social life in this town."
"Wonder why." Gaye said & they both laughed again. "So, can I come by now?"
"Sure, I'm here why not. Just head south you cant miss the sign, it says Harrison Ranch."
""I'm on my way." Gaye said & hung up the phone.

Alex hung up the phone & walked over to feed 'Basty. "Here boy,bet your hungry, but when arent you hungry?"  Basty jumped up & wagged his tail & barked as if he understood & was thinking 'Cut the small talk Alex & feed me'.  Alex put the bowl down & after waiting a second to see if Basty was satisfied with his dinner, & he seemed to be, she went out on the porch to wait for Gaye. Thinking back to their meeting today, Alex felt okay with the fact Gaye was coming over. Ok? Actually , good about it. 'Gaye was younger than her but there was something about her that felt older, maybe an underlying wisdom'  Alex decided. They hadnt actually talked but Alex felt somehow connected to her.'Funny', she thought, 'it she believed in past lives, which she didnt, they could have known each other before.' There was also an innocence about  Gaye that she hadn't seen in many years, it was kind of refreshing. Yes, she was looking forward to talking with her.
She loved Basty so much, in a way she couldnt describe to anyone because of its depth & because no one would understand it, him just being an animal & all. Even with that, it would be nice to have a friend who could talk back. Trusting was never easy for her & she wasnt sure why, she had grown up in a stable family, but still trust was a big issue for her. Maybe it would be easier with Gaye...maybe Gaye was the one, she hoped anyway.

Part 6
Gaye turned into the driveway & stopped to take in the view. She hadn't expected the ranch to be quite so big. The house was huge, 2 stories painted white with beige trim, a porch that seemed to wrap around the entire house, a barn painted red of course, numerous buildings completed the lay out of the ranch. A white picket fence ran on both sides of the driveway, Gaye had no way of telling how much land surrounded it. Gaye had been so shocked at how big everything was she hadn't noticed until now that the porch light was on so she drove on to the house.

Alex stood & walked down the steps toward the car. Smiling, she yelled,"Get out, c'mon in."
Gaye at this point finally came out of her trancelike state & got out of the car. "Hi Alex, sorry, I was just admiring your ranch. It's ah...very nice."
"Thank you, Dad & Mom worked hard to make it what it is, problem is...its so big I cant take care of it alone or afford to keep it up."
"I can understand that," Gaye said,"How much land do you have?"
"About 100 acres. Come up on the porch & we'll sit & talk."
Gaye started up the steps & when she reached the top step, a black figure came out of the shadow to greet her,"Whoa! Nice doggie!."
Alex laughed, "Oh thats just Basty, he's a big baby."
Gaye relaxed a little, "Hi Basty, I'm Gaye. I hope we become good friends.
Basty wagged his tail & barked."He says he'd like that." Alex replied.

Alex & Gaye started talking & it was almost like they were already friends. Gaye talked about her parents & how much she loved them but that she & they didnt see eye to eye on what she should do with her life so she had to move out, on good terms thank goodness, but still on her own. She talked about how much she wanted to be a nurse or doctor even, someday. She told Alex about her parents & their best friends had always had this understanding that Gaye would someday marry their son, Jordan, Jorden the Jerk was what Gaye always called him, at least to herself.
Alex talked about how it was growing up on this ranch & how happy she was as a child.How she had met Ron while working at Burger King, & fell madly in love with him. Well, not at first sight, in fact she kept refusing to go out with him, but he was very sweet & very persistant so she finally gave in. After a year they got married. Things were good the first few months but then he started pressuring her to have kids, she never wanted kids & she thought he had understood this before they married, but apparently not. So, just to keep peace & make him happy she agreed. They tried for 2 years without any luck then they decided to get checked out by a doctor. After the test results came back that she couldnt have kids, Ron started to change. He started pulling away slowly, first emotionally then physically from her. She had been so deep in depression the last year she didnt even leave the apt. Then one morning she woke up & realized she couldnt go on like this. If she wanted to keep what was left of her sanity she had to get out & start a  new life, so she did.

When Gaye finally looked at her watch it was almost midnight, which meant they had been talking over 4 hours. It sure didnt seem that long.
"Geez, I have to go, I have school tomorrow."
"I'm sorry we got to talking, I never showed you the house." Alex said.
"Oh, it doesnt matter, I'd like to move in if thats okay with you."
"The sooner the better." Alex replied.
"I'll move in tomorrow night.Bye."
Alex waved as Gaye drove off.

Part 7
As soon as class was over Gaye packed up her things & moved in with Alex. It only took two trips, she hadn't brought much when she moved here so before nightfall she was pretty much settled in. The room Alex gave her was almost as big as her whole apartment. It was strange, but for the first time she'd moved away from her parents, she felt she was home.

Alex told Gaye that she had a dream of making this ranch a thriving horse ranch like when she was a child. Gaye had convinced Alex that a dude ranch was a profit maiking enterprise & when Alex agreed it was worth looking into Gaye then talked Alex into a partnership with her. It made sense for Alex & her to work together she told Alex because Alex had the know how & Gaye had the finances available to set it up.So, they had shook hands on it. The first thing they decided to do was buy some horses so Alex had left, a week ago, for Montana to buy them. Alex had phoned Gaye last night to tell her she'd be home by the weekend.

Gaye turned over in bed & glanced at her clock, 3am. "Geez" she said aloud. She had tossed & turned all night. Something was wrong but she couldnt put her finger on just what. She decided to get up & make herself some warm milk. As she started down the staircase, something brushed her left leg. It startled her so much she almost fell. She grabbed the bannister to catch herself & at almost that same moment realized it was just Basty. "Geez Basty, you almost scared me to death - literally. Cant you sleep either boy? Well c'mon we'll keep each other company."

About the same time she reached to get a cup the doorbell rang. She knew at this time of the morning it could only be trouble, especially here where everyone went to bed with the sun. She ran to the door with Basty right beside her. "Who's there?" she asked.
"Its Milton Fargo ma'am. I'm the county deputy. Would you open the door please?" he answered.

When Gaye opened the door she saw two deputies standing on the porch."Ms Jackson, I need to talk to Ms Mitchell." Milton replied.
"Alex isnt here, shes out of town at the moment. Whats the problem?"
"When will Ms Mitchell be back?" he asked
"I think this weekend, why?"
"Ms Jackson, can we come in & look around? I also need to ask you a few questions." He opened the screen door to walk in without waiting for her answer.
"NO!" she said & pulled the screen door shut. "not until I know whats going on."
Realizing he had no choice at this point he said, "Ms Jackson, sherriff Martin was found dead last night on Ms Mitchell's property, by a coon hunter. He'd been shot in the back."
"Oh my!" GAye gasped."Thats terrible but what does that have to do with Alex?" she asked
"Can we come in?" Milton asked
"I think you'd better". Gaye said & led the men into the living room. "I have a few questions deputy if you dont mind. Please sit down gentlemen. Deputy...ah?"
"Spadlin ma'am but most people just call me Milt."
"Ok Milt. You said a coon hunter found the sherriff's body & he'd been shot in the back, is that right?"
"Yes ma'am."
"Ok then, how do you know the hunter didnt shoot him & r eport it just to thorw you off?"
"well, the sherriff's wound was made with a small caliber gun, a .22 probably. The hunter was using a shotgun, loaded with buckshot."
"I see." Gaye half-heartedly responded. "Why would the sherriff be on Alex's property anyway?"
"Well, theres a road, not exactly a road more like a lane for 4-wheelers & such but a vehicle can go down it a ways. In fact, thats where some of the kids around here go to park...if, you know what I mean." Milt looked at the other deputy & they smiled knowingly at each other."Maybe the sherriff saw lights & decided to check it out, you know run the kids off."
"Maybe." Gaye said. "But just because it happened on Alex's property  doesnt mean she had anything to do with it so why are you here in the middle of the night?"
"Look, I was at the donut shop when the sherriff & Ms Mitchell had words. Remember?"Milton said & his tone of voice relayed he was tired of all this.
Gaye was losing her patience also. "So they had words, that doesnt mean she killed him! Do you have any evidence?"
Milton reached into his back pocket & pulled out a pair of black leather gloves & handed them to Gaye."We found these by the body, thats your evidence."
"A pair of gloves, thats it? A number of people wear gloves."Gaye said trying not to show the panic she was beginning to feel.
"Most people dont wear leather gloves, at least not around here & in the summer. Unless maybe you ride a motorcycle & wear a black leather jacket. These are too small for a man so odds are they belong to a woman. Now, Ms Jackson,are you going to let us look around or do we get a search warrant?" Milton said, grabbing the gloves from Gaye's hands.
"Go ahead, look."
Gaye knew she had no choice so it was best to get it over with, besides, she knew they wouldnt find anything.

Part 8
Gaye was awakened suddenly by a loud noise that came from somewhere downstairs. She sat up in the bed 7 listened closely. Was she dreaming or did she really hear something? A low growl was coming from somewhere deep in Basty's throat. "You heard it too huh Basty?" she said, half expecting an answer from Basty but the only confirmation she got from him was his advance toward the door & a  look that said 'Well come on, lets go check it out.'  Gaye slowly & as quietly as possible got up, put her robe on, walked to the door where she picked up the baseball bat she kept by her bedroom door for just a situation like this.
"Ok boy, lets go." she told Basty, with bat at ready position she flung open the door. Nothing in the hallway, she thought to herself & a sigh of relief she couldnt quite keep from expressing verbally. She & Basty started slowly toward the stairway she had almost convinced herself that the sound she thought she heard was only her imagination when she noticed a light coming from the direction of the staircase.
As she & Basty arrived at the bottom of the staicase she saw that the light was coming from the study off to the left of the staircase. She decided that she'd try for the phone that was in the kitchen, this meant that when she took the last 2 steps on the staircase she'd have to turn immediately to the left into the dark dining room that was between her & the kitchen. As she reached the next to the last step she paused trying to give her pounding heart time to quiet. It wasnt working, her heart was pounding so hard in her ears she wouldnt have been able to hear a bomb going off beside her. Nothing left to do but make a run for it she told herself. So then she hit the floor running just as she was turning into the dining room she hit something, it gave a little but it was a strong enough blow to knock the bat from her hand. SHe felt someone grab her & she let out a scream & started struggling to get away from whoever or whatever had her in its grip. "Gaye? Gaye? Calm down its me Alex!"
"Alex? ALEX?! Oh my God, you scared me half to death!" Gaye's eyes had adjusted enough to the dark to see that it was indeed Alex who had hold of her."Alex,what are you doing here?"
"I live here remember?"
"You know what I mean. You werent supposed to be back until Saturday."
"I finished sooner than I expected & made good time on the road."
"I heard a noise, what happened?"
"Oh sorry, I was trying not to wake you. I know this house like the back of my hand so I didnt bother turning on the light. You should warn a person when you're going to rearrange the furniture. i ran into the table with the lamp on it."
"Geez I'm sorry ALex. I got so bored with you gone."
Alex laughed."Its okay, lets go sit down. I have so much to tell you about my trip."
"Alex, I've got something to tell you too."
They went into the living room & sat down. Before Gaye had a chance to say anything ALex began. "I got a great deal Gaye, 20 quarter horses & we have enough money left over for the tack we'll need. The horses will arrive in about a week. Isnt that great!?"
"Alex, yeah thats good but we have to talk."Gaye interrupted.
Alex saw the worried look on Gaye's face. "ok. Whats wrong?"
"Alex, sherriff Martin's dead & the deputy wants to question you about it."
"ME!? What do they want to talk to me, I wasnt even in town."
"His body was found on your property & they found some black leather gloves at the scene." Gaye answered.
"Thats the only reason?" Just as Alex got this sentence out the doorbell rang.
"We have more company in the middle of the night than any other time.I'll get it." Gaye said already heading for the door. When she opened the door it was last night all over again.
Milton & his crony stood looking at her."Hello again Ms Jackson."
"Hi MIlt."
"We were just making our rounds for the night & noticed Ms Mitchell's motorcycle in the driveway & the light on.Is Ms Mitchell back?"
"I'm here." ALex spoke up. "What can I do for you deputy?"
"Ms Mitchell, I'm sure Ms Jackson has filled you in on the situation.Please come with us to the station. We need to ask you some questions."
"Am I under arrest? Do I need an attorney?"
"If you have one it might be a good time to call him." Milton responded.
"Gaye,his number is in the phone book under the phone. Would you let him know what hap[pened?  Ok, deputy lets get this over with." She said to Milton.
He grabbed her arm & lead her out to the squad car.
"I'll be at the station as soon as I reach him Alex." Gaye shouted to Alex.

Part 9
Gaye contacted Alex's attorney, Mr Aaron Stapleton, then headed for the sherriff's office.
She fought for almost an hour with the deputy at the desk before he allowed her into the interrogation room where they were questioning Alex."Alex.Mr Stapleton's on his way, he said not to say anything until he arrived."
Deputy Spadlin was pacing the perimeter of the small room. "Look, it would make things alot easier if you'd just confess!" he blared at Alex.
"Confess? I didnt do anything to confess." Alex responded glaring at the deputy."Why dont you go find the killer?" Alex asked.
"I have!" he retorted.
Gaye decided it was time to speak up."This is ridiculous! Are you going to arrest her or not?"
"Yes ma'am, she's under arrest. We read her her rights just before you came in."
Gaye started at Milton."Let me get this straight, your arresting her only because the body wwas found on her property & a pair of blk leather gloves? You'll never get a conviction just on that. Dont be stupid Milt!"
"Oh, we have more.She finished her business in Montana 5 days ago & hasnt been seen since."
"I told you I was riding my bike. I like exploring new places & there was no rush to get home." Alex said.
Milton continued,"She had a motive. She felt the sherriff harrassed her & embarrassed her in public. His body was found on her land. Evidence that she had been at the scene of the crime was found."
"A pair of gloves? C'mon Milt." Gaye said shaking her head.
"Yes ma'am & this necklace." Milt produced an oval shaped necklace from his pocket."It has the inscription on it,'To ALex, with all  my love Ron'. "You were married to Ron Mitchell right?" he said to Alex.
"My necklace! I wondered what happened to it." Alex said. "I noticed it was missing right before my trip."
Milton smiled, "I suppose your going to claim it was stolen right off your neck & you just happened to notice it was gone as you were about to leave."
"As a matter of fact" Alex said "I dont wear it around my neck, it hangs on my bike & yes I noticed it when I got on my bike to leave for Montana. Its not an expensive necklace so I decided to wait until I got back to report it."
Gaye jumped in,"See! Anyone could have gotten their hands on it."
"Look, you can tell this all to the judge. Andrew, show Ms Mitchell to her cell please."
"Its going to be okay." Gaye said as they lead Alex away.

Visiting hours at the jail were from 1pm to 4pm Sat & Sun. Gaye kept herself busy until 1, trying not to think about things too much. At 1 she was sitting at the sherriff's office waiting to see ALex."You can go in now, follow me." The deputy said walking to a door behind the front desk. Gaye followed. Just inside the door a female deputy stopped her.
"I'm sorry but I have to search you for weapons." she told Gaye. After a thorough search she lead Gaye into the room where ALex waited.
"Alex, are you alright?" Gaye said as she hugged Alex.
"yeah, I'm fine under the circumstances. What am I going to do Gaye?" Alex said fighting back tears.
"Take it easy, we'll think of something." Gaye said as she sat down next to her."The necklace is the damning evidence Alex.Think, when did you see it last?"
"Gaye, I'm positive it was on my bike the morning I left because I was in a hurry & dropped my keys & when I bent over to pick them up the necklace was at eye level, & I thought that maybe I should take it off & leave it there so no one would steal it on the trip."
"Alex, did you stop anywhere on your way out of town?"
"Only at the doughnut shop for breakfast. Oh yeah, & for gas."
"And when did you realize it was gone?" Gaye continued.
"Well, I stopped for gas again later & when I started to leave I noticed it wasnt there. Its crazy I know but its sort of a habit, I have to glance at it whenever I get on my bike."
Gaye got up. "I'm going to check some things out. You hang in there. I'll be back tomorrow & tell you what I found out."
Then Gaye knocked on the door to be let out & was gone.

Part 10
Gaye didnt know what she was going to do but she had to do something so she headed for the gas station. She talked to the guy who ran the place & yes he remembered Alex stopping in on that morning but she was the only customer there at the time. He remembered because he was thinking how slow a day it was. This meant to Gaye that no one would had tried to steal the necklace there because it would be too conspiculous.
The donut shop closed at noon on Sat. so to talk to Frieda she'd have to stop by her house. SHe'd  never been to her house before but she didnt think Frieda would mind her dropping by because other than Alex, Frieda was the closest thing to a friend Gaye had here. They'd spent many hours at the donut shop talking since that first meeting a few weeks ago especially during the time Alex was on her trip. Gaye knocked then waited for Frieda to come to the door. Frieda opened it finally,"Gaye! Well girl, what are you doing here?"
"Hi Frieda. I'm sorry for coming by without calling first but I really need to talk to you."
"Hey thats okay we're not much with formality around here. Come on in."

"Frieda, do you remember Alex stopping by at your shop a week ago Monday?"
"Oh Gaye, I heard about Alex getting arrested. I'm so sorry."
"You've heard already?"
"Yes, news travels fast in small towns. Now your question, ah...yes, I remember her coming in that day. Why?"
"I'm just checking out some things." Gaye answered.
"Hey, would you like some coffee? I just made a pot."
"Yes, that would be nice, thanks."
"Okay, I'll be right back. Make yourself at home."
Gaye was nervous so she got up to walk around the room,& she noticed some pictures. Since taking pictures was a hobby she decided to take a closer look. She was drawn to one in particular. It was a snap shot of Frieda & a boy, in his teens she guessed. What was strnge about it was that she thought the boy looked familiar somehow. Then it hit her, the boy was Milt!
Frieda came back into the room then."Here ya go, nice & hot." She sat the coffee down on the table.
"Nice picture. This is Milt with you isnt it?"
"Yes, its one of my favorites of him." she answered.
"Are you 2 still close?"
"As close as a mother & son can be." Frieda said smiling.
"Milt's your son? You never mentioned that."
"Didnt I? Well, I guess I just assumed you knew."
"He seems like a nice guy. So why havent I seen you 2 together at the shop?" Gaye asked.
Frieda jumped up."Why all these questions about Milt? What have you heard about him?"
"Why are you so upset?"
"I'm not!" Frieda calmed down."I just thought you'd heard the rumors about him. They're lies, you know besides all thats happened a long time ago. I dont want to go into it all again."
"Sure,I'm sorry. I just stopped by to ask if you saw anyone messing with ALex's bike the day she stopped by your shop."
"No, no one."
"Okay, thanks. I've got to get going."
"Gaye, dont go. I'm sorry I got upset." Freida pleaded but Gaye was already out the door & in her car.

"Wow, that was weird." Gaye thought to herself as she drove away. SHe'd never seen Frieda react or should she say overreact that way.What did she think I heard about "good ole Milt"? She'd have to look into this. The best place to start she decided was the Saltillo Tribune, thwe local newspaper office in town. She walked into the office & asked to see back issues. SHe scrolled through the issues starting 10 yrs back. She had been there almost 2 hours when she came across something dated Aug 23, 1994, almost 5 yrs ago:
                 The DA said today due to numerous complaints reguarding mishandling evidence
                 found by the local sherriff's office an investigation has begun. The DA did not name
                 who or where the complaints came from or the specific officier involved.
"Hmm, interesting." Gaye thought."I wonder if theres more?" She kept looking .
Dated Sept 2, 1994 she found more:
               LOCAL DEPUTY CHARGED!
               Deputy Milton Spadlin was charged today with stealing evidence aquired by sherriff's
               office. No trial date set.
"No wonder Frieda got so upset." she said to herself."There has to be more on this." SHe found another article dated Sept 30, 1994:
               The DA announced today all charges against Milton Spadlin have been dropped due
              to lack of evidence.
"I wonder who the DA was back then? I'd sure like to talk to him." she thought. As she left she thanked the lady at the desk & said,"I wonder if you could do one more thing for me?" she asked
"I'll try." the woman answered.
"Would you happen to know who the DA was here in 1994?"
"Yeah, that would be Elmer Kelley, he lives over on Downs Street."
"Great, thank you again." Gaye said & left.

Gaye found Mr Kelley's house & knocked on the door. A man answered.
"Mr Kelley?"
"Thats right."
"Mr Kelley, my name is GAye Jackson. I need to talk with you about an investigation you handled in 1994."
"The investigation into the Sherriff's office scandel?"
"Thats correct but how did tyou know?"
"I heard about your friend. You believe shes innocent?"
"Yes sir, I know she is."
"Ms ah..Jackson, I tend to agree with you. Come in."
"Sir, can you tell me why the charges against the deputy were dropped?"
"Because the sherriff wanted them dropped. Things were different then, at least here. the sherriff was very powerful, he ran this town. He & the judge were bigbuddies. When he came to see me I knew there was no need to pursue the matter."
"But you believed Milt was guilty?"
"No ma'am, I KNOW he"
"Oh, he layed low for awhile but it started up again oh...probably 6 months ago."
"How do you know this?" Gaye asked.
"Ms Jackson, this is a smalll town, everyone knows everyone & everything. Not to mention old things die hard here."
Gaye was puzzled & she guessedit showed on her face because he continued then,"You see, some people still consider me the DA so they come to me with their complaints."
"And?" she asked.
"And they started coming to me complaining that, well for instance,a lady came to me & said that a very expensive ring had been stolen from her home. The thief was arrested & her ring was used to comvict him but after the trial she never got it back. The sherriff said it was lost somehow."
"So you think the sherriff was covering for Milt again?" Gaye asked.
"I think he was trying but hings have changed now. The judge is dead, new people have moved into town. A new DA that doesnrt appear to bow down to anyone. The sherriff wasnt a fool. He knew this time he'd take the fall."
"Do you believe Milt was desperate enough to get rid of the witness this time?"
"You mean kill the sherriff?" he asked "I believe its possible, yes."
"Mr Kelley, I know this would be hard since you live here, but would you come with me to the DA & tellhim what you know, please. An innocent woman's in jail for murder." she pleaded.
"yes ma'am. I'll go with you." he said.

Part 11
Gaye stood at the window lookig out & running the last few weeks over in her mind. It was over, finally. The new DA, Louis Bailey was very interested in listening to Mr Kelley & he wasnt afraid to act on it. He had Alex released pending further investigation. Milt was relieved of hi sduties pending further investigation. Both cases were turned over to the State Police. They discovered the murder weapon at Milt's house while searching for stolen evidence & he was about to be charged with the sherriff's murder until Frieda confessed.
It seems that she & the sherriff had an affair 25 yrs ago. She got pregnant. He gave her money to go out of town for an abortion but instead of that, she moved in with an old friend, Emma Langley & stayed until the child was born, Milton. Milton stayed with Emma until he was 18 then moved here. Frieda never told Milt or Grady they were father & son. Grady had discovered Milt was at it again & this time he couldnt affords a scandel so he told Frieda, they still saw each other once in a while, that he was going to tell the DA about Milt.
Frieda wasnt going to let him ruin Milt's life like he had hers, after all it was Grady's fault. If he'd been a father to Milt he would have turned out better. So she started planning what to do. The day Alex & Grady had words in her shop she knew that Alex was the one they'd go after especially with a little help from her. So when Alex stopped there on her way out of town, she went out back& around to Alex's bike & stole the necklace. She bought the gloves herself so she wouldnt leave prints but when she got blood on them she just threw them in the woods by the body.
She knew if she bought a gun it could be found & traced back to her so she went to Milt's house on her way to meet Grady  & got his gun, Milt was on duty that night. She called Grady & told him that he was right to go to the DA & that Milt had given her some of the things he'd stolen as gifts & if Grady would meet her he could have them. She convinced Grady that she was still in love with him & that was all that mattered. Since Grady didnt know Milt was her son he believed her. They met, she told him then about Milt but he just got angry so when he walked off she shot him. She took Milt's gun back to his house so he wouldnt miss it. That was that.

Gaye had been so lost in thought that she hadnt heard Alex calling her.
"What? Oh sorry Alex. I was just thinking about things."
"Gaye, I just want you to know how much I appreciate all you did. We havent known each other for a long time but you were there for me."
"Hey, thats what friends do." GAye said.
"I have a feeling we're going to be friends for a long, long time." ALex said smiling.

Taiko's Scrolls Of The Xenaverse