Homefront United Network presents HUN Reads, a weekly segment of a novel by Amanda Cherry, HUN writer. Follow along every Friday as the story unfolds! If you missed beginning, be sure to catch up under the category HUN Reads!
“You’re asking yourself, who is this woman?” breaking John from his thoughts. “Well that’s simple, I am Honora Sheridan. My friends call me Nora… or rather my brother, my caretaker and Rachel insist on calling me Nora… I much prefer my given name, Honora. And you are Detective John Watts formerly of the Kansas City Homicide Division. I thought I might find you here.”
“And you’ve found me,” John began still dumbfounded. “And since you’re buying me a cup of coffee and I can only conclude there is a reason for this- Miss or Mrs. Sheridan?”
“Ms. Sheridan,” she smiled or rather attempted what a smile should look like. “I do have a reason for seeking you out Detective… I need your help in solving a murder. Shall we sit down and discuss it?”
“I’m sorry- you want my help in solving a murder?”
“Yes, I need your help Detective Watts.”
“Whom else would I seek out?”
“I don’t know, maybe an active homicide detective?”
“They can’t help me, at least not until the body has been discovered.”
“There is no body?”
“There is, but I suspect it won’t ever be found.”
“Then why do you think there is a murder if there is no body?”
“I don’t think there has been a murder,” she sighed with frustration. “I know a murder has been committed. But according to police policy I must first file a missing persons report, wait for several months if not years for that case to be declared a death before anyone will treat it as a homicide. Given the former profession of the victim I doubt anyone will make her death a priority, even if there is a body. I simply don’t have the time to wait. Evidence could be degrading as we speak. I know I won’t be able to convince any active homicide detective to help me, so I have turned to you.”
“Well I hate to tell you, Ms. Sheridan,” John explained. “But active or inactive without a body or some proof of foul play, there’s nothing I can help you either.”
“On the contrary,” she insisted. “You are the perfect person to help me. Let’s sit, drink your coffee, if by the time you are done enjoying your beverage I haven’t convinced you to help me I will leave you alone.”
John’s first thought was that you can’t negotiate with crazy, but he wasn’t one to speak of what constituted crazy these days. Rachel handed them both their white paper cups. John put a sleeve and a lid on his. Honora did the same after adding copious amounts of sugar to plain black coffee. John moved toward the table in the back of the shop. He sat with his back against the wall, a habit he’d developed long ago. From this vantage point he could see the front and back exit, the counter and everyone in the shop. This was his spot, a place he felt comfortable and at ease, or as at ease as he could. He eyed the concoction in front of him dubiously. He had never tried soy milk in any of his experiments and had mixed feelings about a decaf coffee. He had all but convinced himself this wouldn’t come close to fulfilling his quest for the perfect cup of Joe. As Honora sat across from him he took a tentative first sip.
He decided in that moment, as the rich blending of flavor, soy milk and coffee tumbled across his tongue, that when he recounted this day he would dub this odd but attractive stranger as the coffee whisperer. He would be so grateful for her suggestion, a suggestion that had finally brought him to the end of his coffee quest, that he made up his mind to hear her out. And that no matter how lunatic her dilemma was, he’d find a way to help her.
“How is your coffee, Detective?” she asked.
“Perfection,” he smiled taking another sip. “How did you know?”
“It’s quite simple really,” she explained in that detached tone of voice again as if merely reading a list despite her intimate knowledge of John’s life. “De-caf because you are taking multiple drugs to combat the symptoms of your Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well as pain medication for your leg injury. Caffeinated beverages will irritate the lining of your stomach, as well as interacting with your sleep medication. Soy milk because it has the full flavor of whole milk with half the calories. You are conscious of your weight, but not from the point of vanity. You’re simply aware that your injury keeps you from being as active as you once were and heart disease runs in your family, so watching your weight is a priority. A double shot of hazelnut because it’s sweet without being overpowering. And finally a single shot of vanilla because a man of your age would find vanilla flavoring comforting and homey. Like grandma’s sugar cookies at Christmas time. I’m glad you like it.”
“Wow, you seem to know a lot about me,” John felt suddenly exposed. “You must do a lot of reading or something.”
“I read both your personnel files,” Honora stated.
“How would you have access to my personnel file? And what do you mean both?”
“Your Army and Police personnel files of course.”
“I don’t understand how you could have access to those. Who are you?”
“I have done some work for both the government and the Kansas City Police Department.”
“What kind of work?”
“Research psychology is my field of expertise.”
“Why have I never heard of you?”
“Because,” Honora confessed. “I go by a different name professionally. I’m Honora Sheridan-Baker. You’ve probably heard of me using the name Nora S. Baker.”
John nearly choked on his last sip of coffee. “You’re Nora Baker? THE- Nora Baker?”
“The FBI profiler Nora Baker?”
Stayed tuned for the continuation of Angels Weeping every Friday, here on HUN Reads!