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"Can you believe ole Zeke here didn't know that preacher's done skipped outa town?" said Bunk.
Cam shot a harsh look toward Zeke. "What you been up to? Ever'body knew about that." He laughed and turned playful. "Maybe you run 'im off. One look at you and he'd have wanted to get as far away from Strong's Creek as he could."
Zeke grumbled and walked toward the door. "Yeah, you th' one prob'ly run 'im off. I got work to do. See y'all later."
"No hard feelin's," Cam called after him.
Zeke slammed the door.
The two men laughed, and Bunk decided to pump Cam for some juicy tidbits. "So, you got any idea where that preacher went in such a hurry--why he pulled out so fast?"
"If I did, I couldn't tell you." Cam slapped Bunk on the shoulder. "Shoot, he didn't hurt nobody or commit no crime. Ain't none o' my business where he went."
As he started out the door he stopped and turned back toward Bunk with a more serious expression of his face. "Listen, it's always possible somethin' else is goin' on. If you hear somethin' about that preacher I want you to call my office. I told the folks at the church that he probably went back to Richmond to get some stuff...maybe got snowed in. Still, I've got a gut feelin' there could be more to the story that we been hearin'."
"Ain't heard nothin' so far," Bunk said. "Lotsa folks'll be comin' in here for gas and supplies now the storm's over, so I'll keep an ear out. Let ya know if somethin' turns up."
"You do that."
Cam went out to his Ford Interceptor and headed back into the village where he stopped at the diner. Evie was wiping off the tables and putting things back in order after the lunch crowd had left.
"Hey, Evie, is Clete around?"
"He just went to the bank. Be back soon unless he stops off someplace and gets to talkin'. Somethin' I can help ya with?"
Cam walked over to where she was working, and she stopped. "What was all that mess o' sirens about earlier?" she said. "Terrible time to have to go out on a call."
"Oh, that was Miz Fields...she had a heart attack. Didn't make it, I'm afraid."
"Been expectin' that. How many is that now? She shoulda been livin' with somebody who could take care of her."
"I dunno--lost count. Listen, I'm tryin' to find out about that new preacher in town. He ain't been in here, has he?"
"Matter of fact, he was here...what was it," she counted on her fingers, "three, four...I guess Thursday mornin'. Didn't talk much to anybody, but I noticed his car when he left...got one o' them little Hondas same color as my brother's Chevy--red."
"He didn't come back in later that day, did he?"
"No, but I noticed that same car goin' forty-leven miles an hour out toward the highway later. I was takin' my break. Didn't seem fittin' for a preacher to drive like that."
Cam laughed. "So, how are preacher's 'sposed to drive?"
"You know what I mean. My friend Gertrude lives out on the main highway. She told me she saw that same car bustin' a gasket headin' toward the mountain just a while after that. Then I heard people from the church talkin' in here at lunch...said he done left town. What do ya make of that?"
"Don't know that I make anything out of it. Man's got a right to drive out of town in any direction he wants. Sounds to me like y'all ain't get enough to do if ya go around tryin' to figure out where somebody's goin' when they drive outa town."
Evie put her hands on her hips. "Cam Bordain, you got a lotta nerve talkin' to me like that." She sputtered, "You know I work my tail off around here and...."
Cam threw his head back and laughed. "Okay, okay you're right. I didn't mean nothin' personal." He put his hat on and turned toward the door.
"So, you gonna come in here and get me all stirred up and then walk out the door. Just like a man."
Cam paused. "Do me a favor? You hear anything more about that preacher, let me know? I ain't sayin' they's anything wrong, but ain't sayin' they ain't neither." He gave her a wave.
"Yeah, I will. Now you git on outa here."