|Ruby stared at the computer screen. "Hey, Margery, you know I write under the name Odessa Molinari ..."
"Ye." Margery yawned and sunk further into her corner of the sofa.
"Well, guess what?"
"What?" Margery was more interested in playing a game on her phone.
"I've just googled the name and she was a real person. Odessa was murdered in 1953."
The word 'murder' peaked Margery's interest. "Tell me more." The phone was switched off.
"There's a photo here."
Margery moved to look over Ruby's shoulder. "Good looking woman. What does it say underneath; I haven't got my specs."
"I can only make out bits of it. Er ... went missing in December ... body found in January."
"Did they find the killer?"
"Doesn't say here. I need to look at some of the other stuff."
"I'll get the kettle on."
"I've found this newspaper report. It says here:
December 20th 1952 was a cold, dry day in Cumberland, MD. At 1.50pm Odessa Francis Molinari Meister said goodbye to her daughter, Nancy, 11, and left her home at 104 Columbia Street. It took her approximately seven minute walk to catch the bus to her job at the Celanese Plant on McMullen Highway. She was due to work the 3 - 11 shift but failed to arrive. The bus would have taken her through the city and then directly to the Amcelle plant where there were two stops she could have gotten off.
When people on the bus were interviewed many remembered the attractive 35 year old getting on but most could not tell police where she got off. Two witnessed her leaving the bus. They say she responded to a car horn and walked to a dark grey Buick where she had a conversation with the driver before getting in and driving off.
Well, that's interesting. What do you make of it so far, Marge?"
"You know me. I love all that real crime stuff." She took a sip of tea. "But did they find the killer?"
"According to this other article the crime is still unsolved. D'you know what, Marge, we're going to have a go at solving it."
"And what good will that do?"
"Don't you see. If we can solve the murder, there could be a lucrative book deal. You're not the only one into this real crime stuff."
"Oh, sod this internet!" Ruby slammed the laptop shut.
"What's up?" Margery was busy prepping vegetables for their evening meal.
"I thought I'd get some background stuff. Birth, death and marriage records. But every time I go on American Ancestry it just pushes me over to the UK site."
"Do we really need that?" Margery wiped her hands on her pinny.
"If we're going to turn this into a book, we need all the material we can get."
"But isn't this about solving the murder?" Margery sat down on the sofa.
"That's not been easy either. Apparently, because of European privacy laws, we in the UK aren't allowed to access certain sites."
"Newspaper archives, police records, who lived in Cumberland in 1953 ..."
"And are these things available to people in the US?"
"Apparently. You know, what we need is an inside man; someone in the US to do the leg work."
It was still dark when Ruby woke. "5.30. You must be joking. Who wakes up this early?" She rolled over and closed her eyes but they wouldn't stay shut. Her brain was in overdrive. "I've got to solve this murder or I might never sleep again." She reached for her laptop. She had left it at the bottom of her bed when she finally settled down for the night.
"Now, let's see what else the internet can give me." Another press report popped up.
The Dolly brothers, Roy and Harry, later saw a car matching the description parked up in Leiper Street. A man and woman sat in the car talking.They both ducked down when the boys approached. The brothers noted the license number at the time but when interviewed forgot it. They did say it was a 1939 Buick, dark grey, with Maryland plates.
"Um ... that's interesting. I wonder who made them forget the license number."
"I've made you a cuppa. How's it going?" Margery wore her quilted dressing gown and fluffy pink slippers. She put the dainty cup and saucer on the bedside table.
"Someone was definitely intimidating witnesses."
"Have you found our man on the ground yet?"
"There's an article here by a bloke called Dan. He's put his e-mail at the bottom. I think I'll drop him a line, see if he'll work with us."
"And what can we do in the meantime?"
"We can collect photographs. Got to fill those pages with something."