My apologies that I rushed this story. I did not leave myself enough time to write it. I am trying to keep my promise to myself to get it done. Tomorrow will be the last day of January and the final post of this story. If I make it, I will have finished one story as an adult, and that will make my very proud of myself. It will need plenty of work! But lessons learned for next month: start writing early in the month, and don’t assign my students essays ;).

An interesting thing happens across rural America. The laws on minors in bars is blurred as parents bring their infants in as they enjoy a beer after a day in the fields, and no one will blink an eye. Most of the places offer food as well because the choice for eateries is often few, and thus Odin didn’t hesitate to walk into the Redneck Bar and plop down at the bar. Jason stopped drying a glass and walked over to Odin, his usual I don’t give a damn face somber. “Hit me!” Odin declared, slamming his open palm down on the countertop. That got a small smile from Jason.

“This ain’t no casino kid, and I don’t play blackjack with minors.” The town knew that Jason liked to play cards with anyone willing to depart with a little cash that night. Travelers suffered the worse, trusting the small town boy not to take advantage of them. Trust sometimes left your wallet empty.

“Oh alright.” Odin surrendered, “give me a Shirley Temple heavy on the Shirley.”
Jason turned to start on the order, “Ain’t it a little early for this son?”

“It’s five o’clock somewhere,” Odin parroted other drinkers. “And you don’t need to say ain’t with me. I know you’re smart.”

“Oh? And how do you know that? I didn’t take you as a gossip groupie.” He put in two maraschino cherries, something he swore he never would do.

Odin gathered his courage, “I read what you said about Susan when she died, you spoke good.”

“I spoke well,” the automatic response escaped before Jason’s entire body went ridged. “I heard you found Lilly the other day; I hoped it wasn’t true.” Odin nodded. “Well, I don’t think it’s healthy for you to look into things further.”

“I read the article before I found Lily.”

“Why were you looking for that kind of article?” Jason put up a hand as he walked over to help another customer.

Odin started again when he returned, “I overheard Sheriff Frey talking about the case and got interested.” The amount of loathing that dominated Jason’s face shocked Odin enough that he stood up from the stool.

“Of course that old fool still hasn’t dropped it. And now with Lily, I bet it’s all going to start again. In fact, I should pack my bags tonight and move out.”

“Sheriff Frey isn’t an old fool!” Odin shouted back, and then lowered his voice “Why would you move?”

Jason looked Odin in the eyes, “Are you here to interview a prime suspect?” Instead of letting Jason stare him down in submission Odin got back onto the stool and leaned forward, enough that he smelled the cologne on Jason’s shirt.

“What prank did Susan, Lily, and Val play on you?” He thought that the question would cause Jason to back down, that it would show that he wasn’t dealing with someone without any facts. Instead what he got was laughter and a pat on his shoulder.

“You are too much kid, keep up the detective work, and you will find that the damn prank was no skin off my nose. I’m a victim in this entire situation, the scapegoat for a Sheriff obsessed with a perfect record.” Odin started debating if he should say anything else. He no longer liked the way Jason preyed on people in cards or the way he tried to dumb himself down to speak to certain people, he no longer trusted him. The Sheriff kept order in the town and over and over again had helped Odin out of sticky situations. He wanted nothing more to do with this man.

The door to the bar opened and in walked Sheriff Frey and Officer Wright. The sheriff glanced at Odin but didn’t look surprised to find him here. “Jason Stewart you are under arrest for the murders of Susan Campbell and Lily Jones.”

Jason laughed, “On what grounds? Remember the last time you tried to arrest me on false charges?” He continued wiping the counter as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

The Sheriff grinned and “This time you weren’t so careful. We found this wrapped around the victim’s wrist.” He slammed down a bag with a leather necklace in it, right next to where Jason cleaned. “You might as well have left a calling card. The warrant came through, and the saw, the weapon still bloody lay in the corner of your garage.” Jason’s face looked shocked at this revelation and opened his mouth to speak, Frey stopped him, “I suggest you listen to your Miranda rights and shut it.” Megan got out her handcuffs and started to tell Jason his rights, while Odin slipped away to avoid talking to the Sheriff.