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The business card that read “DETECTIVE TOM LANG – DARIEN POLICE DEPARTMENT” in bold, black typeface was almost laughably bad. It was clearly from Vistaprint or some other discount business card company and if it hadn’t been handed to Ellen personally by Lang when she was in the interrogation room a few hours prior, she would have thought it was a fake.
It was unsightly. Unprofessional, frankly; a card beneath the status of a detective living and working in a place like Darien. It sat there on a desk next to a room service menu and a guide to nightlife entertainment in Norwalk. Ellen sat on the edge of her bed in a sheer silk chiffon robe she had bought from Barney’s years ago, the television turned onto the hotel menu screen while smooth jazz played on a loop. She stared transfixed at Lang’s card over on the desk.
The DoubleTree had been her only option after being told by police that she wouldn’t be able to stay in her home while forensics finished gathering evidence in the kitchen.
Even the DoubleTree was near capacity though, and the concierge got an earful when he had to break the news to the widow that they only had a room with a queen bed available; something about a large insurance conference being in town. All other lodging in the area was booked, including Ellen’s favorite bed and breakfast, The Convent of St. Birgitta.
After promising not to leave town (just in case the detectives had any questions for her regarding enemies or disgruntled employees that Terry may have had), Ellen left the station.
Out of DOTS and craving something that she could really knaw on, she stopped at a liquor store, picking up a cheap bottle of white wine and another box of the fruit-flavored gumdrops. At the rate she was eating them she’d have two crowns ripped out by morning if she wasn’t careful.
She had also eaten one half of a generic Xanax — it was the only way Ellen could possibly stomach staying in a hotel as common and amenity-less as this one. But what could she do? Her house was taped off with blood splatter lining her kitchen cabinets and massive farmhouse sink. She reached for her phone on the other end of the bed and dialed Denise. Straight to voicemail.
“Denise, it’s your mother. I’m staying at a fucking DoubleTree in Norwalk. Call me when you get this.”
She threw her phone back onto the bed and grabbed the ice bucket that was resting on the desk. Next, she picked up Tom Lang’s business card. She flipped the card over and over in her right hand with the bucket in the other hand and left her room to head towards the ice machine down the hall. She wasn’t used to having to retrieve her own ice while staying in a hotel, but this is what happens when your husband dies in the kitchen and the police don’t give you any notice to book a room somewhere.
Back on the queen bed, Ellen poured herself a glass of white with two ice cubes and then dialed the number on the business card.
“Detective Lang, this is Ellen Flanagan. Would you mind coming by the DoubleTree this evening? I’ve got something to show you.”
“Mrs. Flanagan, it’s close to midnight. Any chance this could wait until morning?”
“Well I just don’t know, Tom. I’ve got Terry’s password for his e-mail address, and I’m scrolling through his inbox right now and it seems like we may want to start seriously looking at my friend Rose for this whole thing. I think you should come by.”
“Well I just don’t think that’s appropriate, Mrs. Flanagan. I will call you back in the morning and we can meet for coffee somewhere,” said Tom in a weary, hushed voice.
“Tom… we both want this. Let’s not play this game anymore. I’m at the DoubleTree in Norwalk. Room 505.”
Ellen hung the phone up and looked at herself in the mirror. She winked at the reflection, smiling to herself as she walked towards the bathroom to do her hair..