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From Formula for Murder
We agreed that we’d drive by the French consulate on
Bush Street and see if anything seemed obvious. Short
of a smashed vehicle parked in front I wasn’t sure what we were
I sat in the back of Jim’s car, hovering over Laurie. Thank good‐
ness we’d had an extra car seat. My car had been towed after the inci‐
dent and the pediatrician had told me to discard the car seat that had
been in the accident, as it was likely the harnesses was damaged.
We drove down Bush Street and spotted the consulate adjacent to
the French school and Church of Notre Dame des Victoires. It had
began to drizzle, but when Jim turned the wipers on, there was only
enough rain to smear across the windshield.
“Looks like they have a parking garage,” Jim said.
“It’s probably for staff only, right?” I asked.
Jim pulled the car up to the entrance and read the sign. “Yeah. You
need an electronic key card to get in. Perfect place to hide a vehicle
after a hit-and-run, huh?”
“Okay. Let’s go home.”
I was exhausted not only physically—every emotion in me had
been pushed to the brink this morning.
“Not so fast. I want to check things out. I’m going in by foot.”
We parked across the street at a meter.
Jim hopped out of the car and emptied all the change from his
pocket into the meter. He frowned and tapped at it. “Busted. This is
BS. What a day.”
I watched as he crossed into the parking garage and slipped under
the electronic arm. I stroked Laurie’s cheek. She was sound asleep and
“Don’t be hurt, squirrel. Be like the doc said. Be just fine, okay,
little monkey?” I pressed my lips to her forehead and smelled the baby
shampoo I’d applied this morning. Had it really only been a few
Jim emerged from the parking garage and ran over to the car. He
bent down to my window. “You’re not going to believe this: There’s a
silver SUV with a smashed-in front end and it’s missing a bumper!”
His cell phone was in his hand and he opened it now. “You got that
I climbed out of the car.
“Never mind, I got it here,” Jim said, as he scrolled through his
recent calls. His lips turned down in distaste as he waited for someone
to pick up. “Voice mail,” he said, shaking his head back and forth.
“Leave a message,” I said.
Jim closed his phone. “Why bother? I’m going in.”
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“By the time the cop gets down here, assuming he’ll even come, the
rat could leave.” Jim turned to cross the street.
“No! Wait! Jim, you can’t—”
Jim’s brow furrowed and he said, “Stay here with Laurie.”
“If you’re going in, then me, too. I mean, I saw the guy.”
Jim squinted at me. “Do you feel up to it?”
“Yeah. Why don’t you stay here with Laurie?”
“No way!” He leaned into the car and unfastened Laurie’s carrier
from the car seat restraints. “Let’s go together.”
He lifted Laurie’s car seat out of the car and looked down the
street for oncoming traffic. We crossed the street in silence.
At the entrance of the consulate, he asked, “So you think you’ll
recognize the guy?”
“I’m sure of it.”
“Okay. If you see him point him out to me. I’ll do the talking.”
I laughed despite myself. “What? You think I’m going to say the
Jim pulled open the glass door. He waited for me to step inside,
and as I crossed in front of him he said, “I have no idea what you
would say, honey. That’s why I’m going to do the talking.”
We stepped into what looked more or less like a fancy hotel lobby.
An elegant French lady about the age of twenty-five stood behind a
huge counter topped with red marble.
She tapped her fingernails, which were painted a matching red, on
the marble and said in a singsong, “Bonjour.”
Jim handed me Laurie in her car seat and stepped ahead of me and
up to the counter.
“You speak English, right?”
The woman smiled and with a beautiful French accent said, “Of
“My wife and infant were rear-ended by a consulate vehicle a few
hours ago on Lombard Street. The driver never stopped.” He pulled out
his cell phone and clicked to the photos. He pushed his phone toward her.
“The SUV is parked in your lot. Can you get the driver out here for me?”
Her eyes widened at the photo, her face showing first shock then
dismay. “Mon Dieu! Un moment. S’il vous plaît.”
Clenching the phone in her hand she pushed away from the
“No. Not with my phone,” Jim said sharply. He stuck his hand out.
She looked caught off guard, but nodded politely and handed the
phone back to Jim.
She disappeared down a corridor.
“You didn’t have to yell at her.”
“I didn’t yell at her. I stopped her from walking away with the only
evidence we have and accidentally deleting it.”
“Well, we know—”
“Listen, honey, I love you but this is exactly why I’m the one that’s
going to do the talking. These people are not your friends. They’re not
your buddies. They’re obviously the kind of people who have no
regard for smashing into a woman and child and taking off. So we’re
agreed, right? I’m doing the talking.”
I gathered air in my cheeks, blew it out in a huff, and nodded.
Giving up control is difficult for me, but it seemed an easier route
then arguing with Jim right now.
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