"What is the meaning of all of this?" Diana demanded as soon as Della walked into the study of the White home.
"Sit down and be quiet," her father growled. Paling, Diana cast a cold glare at Della and sat down on the couch next to him and her mother, Lucinda.
Randall walked across the room and hugged Raylynn. Then, they both took positions on the couch in front of Delmar, Lucinda, and Diana. Not too far away, Sam Jr. stood quietly behind a high back chair where his mother, Lottie, rested…a weary expression upon her face. The White's hired help, including Kipsey, lined the side wall not too far from where Paul Drake, his operative and the Sheriff stood blocking the doors of the room. Della cleared her throat and everyone's attention fixated on her.
"As you know, Mr. Mason is very close friends with Randall. We travelled here from California in order to support his decision to run for Attorney General of Texas, but circumstances have taken all of us in a different direction. Mr. Mason is unable to be here tonight due to the extent of his injuries, but, prior to those injuries and Adam's death, he was asked by Adam to look into the deaths of his sister and parents as well as issues involving their estate. Furthermore, Miss White has retained the services of Mr. Mason should she be charged with Adam's murder. If you all will indulge me, I have a series of questions I would like to ask most of you. After all, the murderer is among us."
Looks of wide eyed disbelief gazed back at Della. She nodded at Paul and he moved towards the back of the room so as to guard the double French doors leading outside.
"Let's get started," Della stated…walking towards Lottie Carter. "Mrs. Carter…how many years were you married to your husband, Samuel Carter,Sr. at the time of his death?"
"Almost six years, Miss Street." Lottie replied.
"So, you became pregnant with your son, Sam Jr., shortly before or after the marriage?"
Lottie smirked. "I'm sure you've already done the math, Miss Street. My husband and I had been married ten months when our son was born. Of course, all the records were destroyed in the court house disaster years back."
"I have done the math," Della confirmed. " And, according to a notation made in the church log of East Highway Baptist Church," Della handed Lottie a copy of a page from the church log, "You and Sam Sr. actually married much later than you led everyone to believe. You were actually about three months along when you married your husband."
"Yes." Lottie pursed her lips together.
"How long had you two courted?" Della inquired.
"Not very long." Lottie's answer was hushed.
"Mrs. Carter…is it true you and Sam Carter Sr. had only known one another for six weeks at the time of your marriage? That he married you knowing you were already with child? That he agreed to raise this child as his own?"
Lottie took a deep breath and looked up at her son. "Yes, Miss Street."
"Momma?" Sam Carter Jr., asked in disbelief.
"I'm sorry, Sam." Lottie dabbed tears from her eyes then looked back at Della.
"At the time of your marriage, did you tell Mr. Carter who the father of your child was?"
"No, I did not."
"At any point, after the marriage, did Mr. Carter find out who the father of your child was?"
"Yes," Lottie said in a whisper.
"When was that?" Della was walking the delicate line between being sympathetic to Mrs. Carr but demanding enough to extract the truth.
"I had a terrible labor. I couldn't deliver the baby. The doctor ended up cutting me open. I lost a lot of blood and nearly died. I was laid up at home for many months, unable to work…unable to hardly care for the baby. It was a hard time."
"You couldn't work so you weren't getting paid from your job at the Rabrokers?"
"Of course not, " Lottie replied.
"How did you and your husband get by without starving? Who paid your bills? Helped with the baby?"
Lottie looked up at Della. "Mr. Rabroker paid my hospital bill and gave me money to help with living expenses. Mrs. Rabroker used to come down and help with the baby and sometimes sent Lauralynn down to help even though she was just this sweet little girl."
"Why would they help you like that?" Della asked.
Lottie shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know. They was just real sweet people, Miss Street. My Sam didn't kill them."
"So your Sam wasn't angry when you told him Mr. Rabroker was the father of your baby?"
"What?!" Randall yelled out at Della. "That is a lie!"
"Calm down, Randall," Raylynn grabbed her husband's arm and pulled him back down to the couch.
"I will not calm down. That is a bold faced lie!" Randall yelled again.
Della turned to Randall. "On the night Adam died, he met with Perry. He discovered a sizeable portion of his inheritance was missing but there wasn't a sale on the records to show where any of the property went or where any cash monies may have gone. He asked Perry to look into whether you killed his family in order to gain complete control over their fortune. Did you or did you not have a fight with Adam in which he accused you of these deeds?"
"Yes…yes…yes…" Randall sneered. "He accused me of the murders and of stealing from him…none of which I did…I loved Lauralynn. I never, ever would have done anything to hurt her or her family."
"Yet, after the deaths of the Rabroker family, you continued monetary payments to Mrs. Carter even going as far as to put Sam Jr., through college." Della stated. "I have the records to show some of the missing money and property that Adam complained about had actually been used to help financially support Mrs. Carter and her son. Why? Why continue such a gesture? What are you not telling us, Randall?"
"He's not telling you that Mr. Rabroker is the biological father of Sam Jr.?" Delmar interrupted. All eyes turned his way as Lottie broke down into tears. "The question is: how did you figure it out, Miss Street?"
"I obtained copies of all the autopsy reports and medical records for the Rabroker family and Sam Sr., as well as background information and medical records on the Carter family. I read a book not long ago about crime scene investigations including a chapter on blood evidence. It wasn't hard to take everyone's blood types and determine there was no way Sam Sr. could be Sam Jr.'s father. Mr. Carter was blood type A. Mrs. Carter is also an A blood type. Sam Jr. is an AB blood type which means his father must have had a B somewhere. Given that Mrs. Carter was already pregnant when she married Mr. Carter and given the financial support Mr. Rabroker gave the family, which your brother continued after their deaths, I made an educated guess. Mr. Rabroker had the AB blood type."
"I made most of the same educated guesses when I was reading over the autopsy reports." Delmar stated.
"And you shared your findings with Randall?" Della asked.
Delmar glanced at Randall and let out a measured breath. "Yes, I shared my suspicions with my brother."
Della glanced at Randall with a raised eyebrow then directed her focus back to Lottie. "Mrs. Carter…your husband found out your employer, Mr. Rabroker, was the father of your child when he started questioning you about all the monies Mr. Rabroker was giving you while you were unable to work. Yes?"
"Yes," Lottie answered flatly.
"Was he angry when he found out you had conceived a child with Mr. Rabroker who was not only your employer but his too?" Della asked.
"Yes, " Lottie answered flatly again.
"Angry enough to kill him?" Della asked softly.
"Oh Lordy no…no…no, Miss Street. My Sam was no killer. He was angry because he felt Mr. Rabroker had taken advantage of me, you know, with me being so young and needing a job when jobs were so hard to come by. That's all"
"And the fight that day at the house? The fight the day of the murders? What about then? Was he angry enough to kill then?" Della kneeled in front of Lottie and took her hand.
"He was angry because they were arguing over the amount of rent Lucas…I mean…Mr. Rabroker was charging him on the land he was sharecropping and Mr. Rabroker threw it in his face about him not really being Sam's father and that he had given me so much money over the years that it wouldn't kill him to pay a little extra on rents in return. Then, when they stormed outside, Lucas pointed that gun at me and Sam was just trying to defend us…defend his family, but he loved Miss Lauralynn and Mr. Adam just like me. And Mrs. Rabroker was the sweetest little thing. He never would have killed them. He was angry and got drunk…decided to go back that night and try to talk some sense to Mr. Rabroker, but he collided with someone and it scared him and he took off running and hid until the mob found him. He was a bloody mess when they tied him to that truck, Miss Street. He was incoherent…sobbing…mumbling about some woman, disguised as a man, covered in blood running away from the house and they collided and she slapped and kicked him before running into the fields. Of course, no such woman ever existed that could be found."
Della stood and walked over to Delmar. "You mentioned in the autopsy reports that type O blood was found on the body of Lauralynn. No one in the house had that blood type. Mrs. Rabroker was type A."
"Yes," Delmar replied.
Randall looked at him in disbelief. "You never told me that?"
"You already blamed yourself for Sam's lynching and execution. I couldn't bring myself to confirm for you that your telling of what Adam saw that night led to the possible death of an innocent man. Since I had no explanation for the ring being in his ashes despite what the blood evidence showed, I just let it go."
"Sheriff, here are copies of the autopsy reports. I've circled the blood types of each of the deceased. I've also included a chart showing a blood type calculator which proves that Mr. Rabroker is the biological father of Sam Carter, Jr. and that neither Sam Carter Sr., nor anyone in the Rabroker family could have left type O blood at the scene of the crime or on a victim's body. Mr. Drake's detectives secured financial statements and bank statements dating back almost 15 years which shows she received large sums of cash well outside her means. This, plus Randall White's admission that he continued monetary support to Mrs. Carter after the death of the Rabrokers, shows he did not embezzle funds from Adam's inheritance."
Della returned her attention to Delmar White. "Delmar…who was Dessie Reed?"
"A young woman Randall met while in college down in Austin. She claimed they had a brief relationship. This is why he and Lauralynn had such a huge fight the day of the murders," Delmar stated flatly.
"That's a lie!" Randall shouted.
"How do you know that?" Della asked.
"I told him all about Lauralynn's accusations." Randall interrupted before Delmar could speak. "I was extremely upset the day of the fight. Lauralynn was so angry. You know she actually threw her engagement ring at me? I kept telling her I had never heard of any woman named Dessie Reed, but she wouldn't believe me…said the woman had called her …said I had tried to hush everything up with money when I dumped her so she decided to call Lauralynn and tell her everything."
"She threw 'this' ring at you?" Della withdrew a ring from her pocket. The same ring Perry had found in the attic of the old Rabroker house under Adam's direction. The same ring stolen from his room by the shooter that landed him in the hospital…and was subsequently left there with him as some kind of warning perhaps?
"Oh Lord have mercy!" Lottie cried out. "That's Miss Lauralynn's ring. It still has Samuel's blood all over it!" Lottie began fanning herself with her fingers as her son looked away."
"No, Della. As I told you a little while ago, that is not Lauralynn's engagement ring." Randall stated matter of factly.
"Of course it is, Randall!" Delmar exclaimed. "I was with you when you designed it at Lastovica's Jewelry Store. Lottie even remembers it! One does not easily forget a two carat emerald shaped diamond ring."
Randall shook his head adamantly. "No…no…no…you're wrong. I buried Lauralynn's ring with her. I slipped it into the casket shortly before her burial. That is not her ring. It has to be some kind of look alike."
"Delmar? Will you please identify this newspaper clipping?" Della reached into an envelope and pulled out a copy of an old photograph from the society pages of the Austin-American Statesmen.
Delmar's face lost all its color as his wife, Lucinda, exclaimed, "Why Delmar! That's you!"
"Please read the caption, Sir?" Della's eyes locked upon his. Clearing his throat, Delmar said, "Rush Chairwoman, Dessie Reed, smiles brightly as she and her beau welcome new pledges to the end of Greek Week festivities."
"Let me see that!" Randall demanded as he snatched the newspaper copy from his brother.
"So it was you, Delmar, not Randall who dated Dessie Reed in Austin?" Della folded her arms and waited.
Letting out a measured sigh, Delmar shook his head affirmatively.
"You son of a …you…you…are you telling me you had a relationship with this woman and used my name?! Then you didn't fess up when she called Lauralynn? You let me suffer all these years knowing she died thinking I had been unfaithful to her…knowing it was a lie…and you said nothing?! You heartless bastard! How could you? You call yourself my brother?!" Randall lunged forward…hands wrapping around Delmar's neck. The Sheriff sprang into action…grabbing Randall and tearing him backwards…the struggle knocking over an end table…the glass lamp shattering as it hit the floor.
"Delmar," Lucinda said through a muffled sob, "how could you? We were already engaged and I …I was…."
"Already pregnant with Diana…yes, I know." Delmar stated…not a shred of emotion to his voice.
"Why did she commit suicide several days after the murders of Lauralynn and her family?" Della asked Delmar.
"I don't know," he stated. He sat clenching his hands into fists…staring at the floor. "I loved her, Miss Street. It started out as just a fling and I used Randall as a cover, but I grew to love her. She was so free spirited and fun. Before I could tell her the truth…explain things…Lucinda turned up pregnant and I had to do the right thing so I ended my relationship with Dessie and have regretted it ever since. I've always assumed she committed suicide because I told her I was going to proceed with marrying Lucinda…only I used Lauralynn's name…and she just couldn't handle the break up."
"And this ring? Look carefully at the engraving inside the ring." Della asked. Delmar looked inside and read, "RWW + DIR 4Ever."
"Did you have that ring engraved as Randall Wayne White?" Della asked softly.
"No," he answered quietly. "She must have had our initials added after the fact."
"But you did give her this ring…yes?" Della prodded.
Delmar nodded. "I liked the ring Randall had made for Lauralynn so much that I asked, later, for another one to be made just like it. I gave it to Dessie with the promise we would be married soon."
Delmar turned his expression towards Lucinda, who was weeping quietly next to him. "I'm sorry, Lucinda, but I was in love with her, not you. Because I've always felt our marriage and your pregnancy caused her death, I never wanted anymore children with you."
Diana sat motionless while watching her parents…all the color drained from her face.
"Kipsey?" Della turned her attention to the White's faithful butler. "Why did Dessie Reed really commit suicide?"
"I don't know, m'am," Kipsey replied as all eyes turned his direction.
"Don't you?" Della asked, pulling several paper items from the manila envelope that had previously contained the news clippings from Austin, the autopsy reports, and the bloodwork charts.
"No m'am…that was long before I ever moved to town." Kipsey said.
"I see," Della responded. "Then, let me read you this: Deserella Inez Reed, 21, of Austin, Texas, formerly of Wimberly, Texas, and daughter of Jefferson James and Katherine Anne Reed was found deceased in her bedroom at the Alpha Chi Omega house, the apparent victim of a suicide. Services are pending with Macon Funeral Home in Wimberly."
"Now," Della continued, "I show you a copy of a birth certificate. Is this a copy of your certified Texas birth certificate, Sir?"
Kipsey took the copy of the birth certificate. "Yes."
"Will you please read the names listed as your parents?" Della asked.
"Jefferson James Reed and Katherine Anne Reed," Kipsey replied without emotion.
"Dessie Reed was your sister." Della stated.
"Yes …yes she was, Miss Street," Kipsey replied.
"Kipsey!" Randall shouted. "What the devil!? You've been with us for fifteen years!"
"We trusted you, Kipsey." Raylynn added.
"Why isn't your last name 'Reed' also instead of "James" as you have listed on your payroll stubs?"
"Because I changed it when I turned eighteen, Miss Street."
"Any particular reason?" Della inquired.
"So that I could get a job here with the Whites without drawing suspicion on myself," Kipsey said quietly.
"Why would you want to do that?" Della knew she was almost to the truth.
Kipsey stared intently back at Della for a moment then walked towards the fireplace. Stopping, he gazed out the large window next to the old, grey brick structure and stood quietly. Every eye in the room watched as his eyes first misted then a low, muffled cry emanated deeply from his chest. "I guess we've almost come full circle now, Dessie girl, haven't we?" he muttered. Without warning, he withdrew an old shotgun from behind the long drapes of the window and whirled around with it cocked into position…ready to blast anyone who so much as moved in the room.
The room filled with gasps and exclamations of surprise and fear as people tried to move away from Kipsey. Paul stepped protectively in front of Della. The Sheriff and Paul's detective both pulled their weapons and steadied their aim at Kipsey.
"Kipsey?" Della asked evenly as she stepped from behind Paul. "What do you mean things have come full circle?"
"She wrote me a letter, Miss Street… a letter from college telling me all about this man she was seeing…how he'd proposed and they were keeping their engagement a secret…something about a special ceremony she'd get to have at her sorority that showed she was engaged so she was keeping her ring hidden in her jewelry box. She sent me several copies of newspaper clippings from the society pages like the one you have there. I was happy that she was happy…you know? She was my big sister."
"Did she write a suicide letter, Kipsey?" Della asked softly.
"Yes, m'am. Yes, she did…I received it about a week after her death. In it …in it she…ummm…well she explained how she … how her intended had left her for another woman and broken the engagement…how she called the woman on the phone to spill the story…how he had refused to leave this other woman even after she thought she had ruined things between them. So…she drove down here from Austin late one night…broke into this woman's home and, in a fit of jealous rage, killed the family. She described shooting the girl's parents so they wouldn't get in the way when she had it out with her."
"Oh my God," Randall exclaimed, "Are you telling us your sister confessed to killing Lauralynn thinking it was really Lucinda? All because Delmar had lied and used our names as a cover for the relationship?" Randall looked at Delmar. "You …you…you're the reason she died. Your lies killed her. She didn't have to die. All you had to do was tell the truth and not be a creepy snake in the grass for the first time in your life and you didn't."
"Daddy didn't kill them," Sam Jr. hugged his mother as she wept.
"No, Mr. Carter. Your father didn't kill anyone. He interrupted the murders. Dessie wrote in her suicide letter that she had disguised herself as a man before coming to the home." Kipsey kept the gun poised and ready to fire.
"Kipsey…what about Dessie's ring? How did it get into the ashes of Sam's body?" Della asked.
"Dessie wrote that, when she entered the Rabroker house that night looking for extra weapons, she saw a photograph of Lauralynn in the study. She was enraged to see that both she and Lauralynn had the same engagement ring and that made her want to kill her all the more. You see, it was her plan to kill everyone then commit suicide at the house when it was over, but Mr. Carter interrupted her. He was drunk and had started yelling Mr. Rabroker's name into the darkness as he walked up the front of the property. Dessie wrote that she became scared and ran out the front door…that she ran right into Mr. Carter who looked surprised to see a female dressed as a male and she ran off into the darkness to where her car was hidden."
"Then what happened?" Della continued.
"She got herself cleaned up then caught wind of some gossip that the angry mob was about to lynch the man who killed the Rabrokers…she watched as he was strung up and set a fire. While the mob shouted and the crowd threw things at the burning body, she took off her engagement ring and hurled it into the fire."
"Randall? You didn't know the ring you found in the ashes wasn't Lauralynn's ring?" Della asked.
"No. I returned the ring to my house and left it in my dresser." Randall explained.
"Kipsey…if Randall buried the real engagement ring with Lauralynn, how did Dessie get this ring back from him since he found the copy in the ashes?" Della looked puzzled.
" Miss Street…she was so guilt ridden. She committed suicide when she read the newspapers and realized she had killed an innocent family. She wrote in her suicide letter that watching the real Randall cry and carry on in front of the burning body of Mr. Carter had confused her, but it was the newspaper reports that sent her over the edge. She realized her "Randall" was actually Delmar pretending to be Randall White and that he had been lying to her all along…that he was still going to marry his other fiancé named Lucinda, whom she knew by the name "Lauralynn" and she couldn't handle the guilt of having killed the wrong people. She hid in the funeral parlor and watched as the grief stricken paid their respects to Lauralynn. She saw Randall place her ring in the coffin and couldn't bear the thought of the wrong ring being buried so she broke into the Rabroker house, stole the real ring from Lauralynn's room, and then switched the rings out when she was again alone with her in the parlor."
"Kipsey," Randall walked slowly towards him. "I simply don't understand what you hoped to gain. Why did you come to work for us?"
Kipsey leveled his gun directly at Randall. "Hate and revenge, Mr. Randall. .Hate for all of you people and your roles in ruining so many lives. Hate at your father, who I grew to know as a philandering, lying, cheat during the first years I worked for you and hate that he passed those traits to your brother over there." Kipsey tipped the gun towards Delmar.
"Hate at your dysfunctional relationship with Delmar that led him to assume your identity and drag my sweet sister into a love affair filled with lies and deceit… lies which broke her heart and turned her into a crazy, murdering, suicidal monster."
Della cleared her throat. "That's not all of it though, is it, Kipsey?"
"What do you mean, Miss Street?"
Della pulled another document from the envelope and passed it quietly to Randall. "Eleanor Myra Reed?"
Randall handed the document, a copy of another birth certificate, to his wife, Raylynn.
"Eleanor Myra Reed? It couldn't possibly be…Myra? Your confidential secretary, Myra?"
"Kipsey, it isn't just you who wanted revenge for your sister's death, is it?" Della stated.
"No…my older sister, Myra, was also outraged and deeply saddened by Dessie's death. They were so close and, well…we sorta hatched a plan. She came to town first and secured a job working for old man White. Then, I came to town a few years later and we acted like strangers. Her husband was dead and, with her using her married name, no one was the wiser."
Della pulled out another set of papers from her envelope and handed them to Randall and Raylynn. "How is it Kipsey that you have amassed some $65, 000.00 in cash in an account held by First National Bank of Central Texas?"
"My sister embezzled funds from the law firm and from Adam's estate very quietly throughout the years and passed them along to me."
"And Adam started asking questions and you just couldn't have that, could you?" Della asked.
"No, Miss Street. The day of the announcement party, shortly after I returned from town, Myra called me and stated Adam had once again signed Mr. Randall's name to the payroll without his knowledge. When she inquired about it, she said he remarked that it was his money anyway. I knew it was only a matter of time before she was caught."
"So, the killing of Adam was to cover up the thefts and being able to blame Diana was "icing on the cake" since she was Delmar's daughter." Della watched Kipsey intently.
"You could say that." He responded quietly.
Kipsey started walking backwards towards the double doors of the den…using the shotgun as a pointer to motion people out of his way.
" You were in town picking up supplies the day of the party. Other staff gave statements to Mr. Drake's men that you went into town after bringing Mr. White's car to him that morning. Diana and Adam had a very public fight on the street where witnesses state she hit him. Later, you received a call from Myra about Adam's statement when he signed payroll. Then, in Diana's own statements to Mr. Drake's men, we know you witnessed a fight between them the night of the party in which her dress was torn. And, that gun you're holding, it belonged to Mr. Rabroker. You're sister used it to kill Lauralynn's parents and you used it to shoot Mr. Mason the night you rummaged through his things to find it and your sister's ring…things you had previously hidden…buried on this property where no one would find them until Adam stumbled upon them in his old house and he started asking questions…questions which led Mr. Mason to take possession of them."
Kipsey smiled, "You're a smart woman, Miss Street. It's all true. I witnessed Adam's and Diana's fight in town. It gave me the perfect opportunity to finally get revenge, you see? Their fights were becoming legendary. I killed him in the garden then planned to testify under oath that I had heard Diana threaten to kill him at the party, which is the truth, then I was going to plant evidence on her person to prove she was with Adam when he died."
"But I wasn't with him!" Diana exclaimed, "I only stumbled across his body."
Della raised her eyebrow at the young woman. "Ohhhh…I know I made it sound likewise when we were alone that night, Miss Street, but it was a lie. I really had nothing to do with his death.I wouldn't hurt a fly."
Della let out a sigh and turned back towards Kipsey. "What were you going to plant that made it look like Diana had killed him?"
"The autopsy report will eventually show that Adam died from a small caliber gunshot wound to the back of his head. I stole a gun belonging to Mr. Delmar and used it to kill Adam. I was going to plant it in Miss Diana's handbag as soon as I retrieved the items Mr. Mason had taken from the Rabroker house."
"What stopped you?" Della already knew the answer.
"I had to untie the door knobs of your bathroom and help you out before you died, Miss Street. I couldn't let anything happen to you. You're not any part of this sick, twisted web." Kipsey reached into his pockets, pulled out some rope like materials, and tossed them in the direction of Diana…a sick smile upon his face.
"A fly, huh?" Paul stated with disgust as he looked at Diana and her faced turned a deep shade of crimson.
"Kipsey? I'm sorry, but how does this right what happened with your sister?" Della asked sympathetically.
"It doesn't, Miss Street. By killing Adam and framing Diana, it would hurt Delmar the rest of his life to watch his spoiled, rotten little girl waste away in prison and I? Well…I would continue to work here each day…enjoying his suffering and secretly knowing he was reaping what he sowed with my sister all the while becoming rich in the process and draining the Rabroker estate of any remaining monies it had. After all, with Adam dead and Diana in prison, Lucinda as a distant cousin is the only family left so, in a way, I was keeping her future inheritance out of Delmar's hands." A stark look of realization swept his face, "Of course, that isn't possible now, is it?"
"No…I'm afraid not, Kipsey." Della replied. "Sheriff?"
The sheriff slowly stepped towards Kipsey.
"It's your fault, Miss Street. Why couldn't you just stay out of the way…stay at the hospital with Mr. Mason? This is all your fault. My revenge can never be complete now."
He raised the gun and aimed at Della. "No more!" Delmar shouted as he lunged across the room and wrapped around Kipsey's body causing a blast to go up and hit the ceiling. Paul grabbed Della and threw her to floor using his own body as a shield against the falling pieces of ceiling. Screams from Raylynn, Diana, Lottie, and Lucinda filled the room as yet another blast erupted and several gunshots rattled the window panes. Then, all was quiet. The smell of dust and gun powder mixed with the stench of blood filled the air.
"You okay, Beautiful?" Paul asked worriedly as he pulled Della up and rubbed her arms up and down.
"I think so," she replied, "Are you? You're not hit anywhere?"
"No," he said, "I'm good."
They both looked towards the double doors. Leaning against the wall, the body of Kipsey, the mild mannered, quiet butler of Raylynn and Randall White lay dead from the Sheriff's gunfire. Next to him, Delmar White lay splayed across the floor…the victim of Kipsey's second shotgun blast…one final, honorable act of valor in which only time would tell whether the sacrifice would help to make right the wrongs he set in motion years before.
"I wish I could have been there to see it all unravel, Paul." Perry was sitting on the edge of his hospital bed while Della finished packing his things. It had been a week since he was shot and the strong lawyer had made a remarkable recovery.
"She was spectacular, Perry." Paul beemed.
"I learned from the best." Della smiled as she latched the suitcase and leaned in to kiss Perry's cheek.
"I think you're all the best," a voice said coming from the hospital room door. The trio turned to see Randall and Raylynn White smiling back at them.
"Della, you really were amazing. What gave it away? How on earth did you know it was Kipsey and his sisters?" Raylynn asked.
"It was the name 'Reed,' Raylynn. It kept resounding in my head and I knew I had seen it in all the reports from Paul and his men, but I was so tired and there was so much paperwork, it just took a while to connect. I had to ask myself who was always around, listening, almost lurking, mentioned in almost every interview conducted by Paul's men and it was Kipsey. I just had to connect the dots and find the motive." Della smiled as Perry placed his arm around her. "That's my girl," he beemed. He then stood up and walked to a waiting wheelchair that had seemed to appear from nowhere. The Whites said their goodbyes leaving Perry, Paul, and Della alone in the elevator with an orderly.
"I'm so ready to get home," Della sighed.
"Me too," Perry smiled up at her.
"Me three," Paul chimed in, "this heat is killing me. Can't you two stumble into a murder case in a coller climate the next time?"
Perry and Della laughed as the elevator doors opened and blindingly brilliant rays of sunlight poured in through the glass doors and windows of the hospital. Just as they made their way out the doors and down the sidewalk, a syrupy, familiar voice called after Perry.
Perry stood up and turned to see Diana Leigh White waving wildly at him.
"I heard you were getting out today. How about lunch and then a ride to the airport?" Diana smiled up at him and looped her arm through his arm. Della's posture stiffened and, after making brief eye contact with Perry, she briskly walked down the sidewalk and climbed into the back of the open door to Paul's waiting rental car.
"See, my Darling…Della doesn't mind at all. She and Paul can go ahead of you to Los Angeles and you can take a later flight." Again, she beemed a dazzling smile at him. "Please don't hold it against me that I didn't come to see you during your stay. I was simply worried sick but that secretary of yours had it fixed where no one could get into see you. It was quite horrible of her."
"Diana," Perry said as calmly as possible, "I do not want to go to lunch with you. I do not want to take a later flight to Los Angeles. I want to get into that car," he pointed at the sedan emphatically, "with Della and go home."
"Oh Perry, be reasonable," she pleaded.
"I have been both patient and reasonable with you, young lady. You have responded with nothing more than lies, deceit, and underhanded tactics that could have killed the one person who means more to me than anyone else in this world. If Kipsey were not dead, I would personally see to it that you be charged with assault and locked up for the maximum amount of time afforded by Texas law. Personally, I hope to never lay eyes on you again."
Perry pulled away from her. "Goodbye Diana."
Perry Mason walked down the sidewalk steps and slid into the back seat of the waiting sedan…Paul Drake slamming the car door behind him and throwing a menacingly look in the direction of a tearful Diana White. Placing a comforting arm around Della Street, Perry smiled softly and whispered, "Let's go home." With that, Paul hopped in the front seat, popped the vehicle into 'drive' and the three friends departed on the long journey home.