It was already an hour past Jefferson’s bedtime. Yet here he was in his pajamas, standing with Ralph Ames at the side of U.S. 162 shining a flashlight into Chief Ridgway’s overturned pickup. Pie crumbs and bits of apple filling still lingered in his trousers, but tonight was not the kind of night one worried about such things.
Ridgway’s body had been thoughtfully placed on the tailgate by Ralph, who was even more drunk since finding the first cadaver that morning. He was nearly incomprehensible by this point, and he smelled pretty bad too.
“Who’d want to kill both Ridgways in the same day,” mused Jefferson, pacing. “And with two different guns? I figure it’s either bum luck or somebody tryin’ to get rid of all the law in Lake Derry.”
“J-j-jeffer…suh-j-jeffer…son,” Ralph slobbered, “Don’t ye think… you might be, uh, n-n-nexttt? To get… uh… get…”
“Shot?” finished Jefferson. “Reckon so.”
Suddenly a shot did ring out in the night, and Jefferson’s nightcap was missing its pompom. He took cover.