Denouement: This is the conclusion of Carole Owens' 10-part murder mystery.
"Billy did NOT do it." Alice was adamant.
Peter was coaxing. "He could have. You admit you were surprised he liked you. Well maybe he was just using you. Killed Anna, saw you coming, and approached you to establish an alibi."
"He couldn't have been so gentle and kind if he were a killer."
"If he can kill, he can probably act."
"Peter, if he were using me as an alibi, he would have used the alibi. He didn't tell anyone he was with me."
"Good point, but who else is there?"
"Mr. Coleman lived right there."
"We eliminated Coleman."
Paul came running out of the station shouting to Peter as he jumped into his patrol car. "Coleman found dead in the Midland Manufacturing Company parking lot ’ hit and run."
Alice sounded breathless as she said, "We have two hard facts: Anna and Mr. Coleman are dead; killed within a day of one another. Can't we assume the two deaths are connected?"
"Sure if we can figure out how."
"I know how: Anna was killed in the same alley where Mr. Coleman has a garage. His truck was not in that garage around the time of the murder, so some time that night he returned to his garage driving down the same alley where the murder occurred."
"It's just possible he witnessed Anna's murder and if he did -- that could be why he was killed."
"Two more facts: both were killed by a vehicle because it is logical to assume the killer would use the same method twice."
"No, the wounds on Anna do not indicate vehicular homicide."
Alice insisted, "It is still true that the killer left no trace, and I draw the line at the suggestion that he threw a 6-10 inch brick from a roof."
"Yeah, give it a rest, I was wrong but so are you."
"Only if Anna was hit head on; not if Anna was hit by part of a truck."
"The side view mirror on Mr. Coleman's truck sticks out and is just the right height to hit a girl Anna's size in the head."
"How would you know that?"
"Our alley is narrow, about a car width, and Mr. Coleman is -- was -- a mean little man. He sped down our alley daring people to get out of his way. I have had to jump to avoid his side mirror."
"That's how you thought of the side view mirror?"
"You bet: Mr. Coleman speeding down our alley and Babe putting on her lip stick."
"If you could have seen Babe. Come on I will show you."
As they walked to the school parking lot, Alice explained the latest craze among the boys from the Hill: custom-built trucks.
"They have raised chassis and extended shiny chrome side view mirrors." Alice stood by the first truck she came to. It happened to be Junior's shiny red one. "See it is the perfect height for me to see to put on lipstick, therefore if Anna was walking down that alley, it is perfect height to bash Anna in the head, and if the truck was moving fast..."
"It would leave a vicious wound like the one I saw. If you are right, there will be evidence on the mirror. All we have to do is find out whose truck."
"Someone with motive," Alice said.
"Someone without conscience; do you realize whoever was driving hit Anna and never hit the brakes, didn't swerve, and didn't stop afterward to help her?"
"How do you know that?"
"There were no tire marks in the alley."
"The person who could do that is evil and must be caught. Anyway we have cleared Billy. He doesn't own a truck, and he was in jail when Mr. Coleman was killed."
At that moment Junior came out of the school. He saw Alice standing in front of his truck mirror. He drew the wrong conclusion, charged Alice, and tackled her. Peter pulled him off shouting, "What the hell?"
Junior whined, "Hitting Anna was an accident. I didn't mean to so you can't blame me." His face darkened, "Then that gross old man, Coleman, tried to blackmail me. He can't do that. It was his own fault he died."
Billy didn't graduate with his class. They couldn't make murder stick, but the rumors of sexual promiscuity with minors became rife so they put him away anyhow. His mother was too poor and her voice too weak to fight. Alice was hamstrung. The more she fought for Billy the more they used her as Exhibit A in the case against Billy.
Peter took what he considered a most poignant photo of Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. Revik consoling one another. His caption read: Two Midland Mothers Who Lost their Children for No Reason. He never wrote another word about the murders.
Peter's editor recommended him for a job on a big city newspaper. He asked Coffin what to do -- "Don't be a fool, boy" -- so Peter left Midland for a city desk.
Junior walked. The death of Anna Revik was an accident committed by a repentant minor or so said the phalanx of attorneys surrounding Junior. In Midland, Cobb's town, the lawyers found a judge who believed them. Mr. Coleman was as dead as Anna, but not even Mrs. Coleman seemed to care. The case was filed and forgotten as "unsolved."
Only in fairy-tales are the dragons slain.
This is the conclusion of Carole Owens' 10-part murder mystery.