Sometimes being alone with one's thoughts is a dangerous thing. Like an unattended pot on a hot stove, they can explode if no one is paying attention.
Rex had hoped to talk with Ali, but his wife was already sound asleep when he returned home. He could have woken her up - but the last time he did that she had morphed from the beautiful wife he knew and loved into something akin to an angry mama bear. It looked like he'd have to wait until morning.
While Ali enjoyed the gentle waves of slumber, Rex was not so lucky. At 3 a.m. he decided he'd had enough of staring at the clock while waiting for morning to come and for his mojito-induced headache to subside. Rex went to the kitchen, got himself a glass of water and sat down on the living room couch with the cemetery map.
What did Ali have to do with all of this? Rex thought he knew his wife, but everyone has their secrets - maybe hers was just a little more off the beaten path.
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His mind eventually succumbed to his need for sleep. When he woke up at 9 a.m., he found a Post-it note on his forehead.
"Went for a drive, be back by 10. Love, Ali"
Accompanied by Soundgarden singing "Fell on Black Days" on the car radio, Ali was making good time (just not legally) toward Charlie's home on Eldridge Avenue. She found the cathartic nature of grunge music relaxing. Easy listening made her feel antsy, and right now she needed her mind clear.
Charlie's closing the grave-digging case early was now making a lot more sense to Ali. Kids don't dig to China anymore, but people still look for treasure. Charlie obviously thought he was onto something - something worth breaking the law for - but desecrating her Nana's grave, that was something Ali was not going to let him get away with.
While she was unsure what she was going to say to Charlie, she felt confident that something would burst forth when she saw him. She just had to be careful not to break any more laws herself. Right now, she was leaning toward a swift uppercut to his jaw.
Ali turned up the music to counterbalance her rising blood pressure.
Rex was growing anxious. After taking a quick shower and devouring some leftover pad thai from On Rice, he found himself staring out the front window, waiting for Ali to return. Every car he heard, he was sure was hers. Every door he heard close, he thought was a prelude to her arrival.
He was beginning to drive himself crazy.
He killed some more time playing with the dogs, but after looking at his watch and realizing it was 10:30, he decided to give her a call. Although he loathed cellphones, he was sure glad that Ali had one right now.
She answered on the third ring. "Hi honey, can't really talk right now."
"Ali, where are you?"
"I'm on my way to Charlie's house."
"But I thought you were on furlough."
"I am, this is not work-related."
"Ali, I really need to talk with you. Can't you see him later?"
"No, I can't."
"What's going on? You sound upset."
"I am. I'll tell you everything later."
"Why not now?"
"Because I've just pulled into his driveway."
"But Ali ... "
She disconnected the call. He quickly hit redial, but she didn't pick up. Now he was really worried. Nothing was making any sense.
Rex decided to take a little trip himself. He had been to a few barbecues at Charlie's house, most recently to watch the Fourth of July fireworks over the bay, so he knew exactly where to go.
Much like the man himself, the lieutenant's house was stoically well-built; his personality as unique as the design of each house on the block. As Ali pulled up, she noticed a car in the driveway with an "I break for chocolate" bumper sticker. Charlie had been divorced from his Bellingham High sweetheart for years; maybe he was getting back into the game.
Ali paused on the front step, took a deep breath and knocked.
Charlie looked surprised to see her. "I thought you had the day off, what's up?"
Without being invited to enter, Ali pushed past her boss and made her way into the foyer.
"We need to talk, now!"
"I think you need to calm down first."
"I am calm, you should see me when I'm really angry."
"Lets go into the dining room and you can tell me what's got you so steamed."
"Where's your visitor?"
"She's in the living room, she'll be fine."
"Oh, good, I was worried."
As she sat down, Ali realized she was shaking. She took another deep breath and cut to the chase.
"Why her grave?" She almost said something a little more colorful.
"I don't know what you're talking about," answered Charlie.
Ali's face was growing a brighter shade of red by the second, but she managed to keep herself relatively together.
"No more lies," she said. "You gave Dale permission to ransack her plot. Why?"
Ali wasn't the only race car driver in the family. As Rex pulled up he found the front door still open. He took it as an invitation to barge right in.
He could hear Ali's elevated voice, but before he could turn toward her he heard another familiar voice.
"Hello, Rex," Angela said, snapping shut her cellphone.
"Angela, what are you doing here?"
"I think we all need to talk, let's go into the dining room."
Charlie looked appreciative of the interruption.
Before Charlie could make the introductions Angela looked at Ali. Angela's bland visage now looked more feral. The lieutenant was the one with a badge, but Angela was definitely the one in charge.
"Hi, cousin," Angela said to Ali. "I think we both have a lot to share."