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Hotline to Heaven

There were two navy blue police cars at the crime scene
when Jillian Malone arrived, as well as an ambulance and several
other vehicles. A variety of official-looking people she didn't know
milled outside the trailer that housed the psychic hotline she’d so
reluctantly agreed to work on. Robert, Jillian’s best friend and fellow
hotline reader, ran over and flung himself into her arms. She
engulfed his tiny form and held him tight, feeling him shake.
"Oh, Jillie, it's so awful! I'll never be able to put it out of my
mind! When I got to work, she didn't answer the buzzer, so I let
myself in and found her on the floor. I shook her, thinking she'd
passed out or something, but her body was limp. She's dead!"
"What happened? How did she die?"
"She was strangled. Her color was terrible, and her tongue
was sticking out. You know how big her eyes were, but they were
bigger than ever. They were clouded over, staring into space. I'll
see them in my dreams. I won't sleep for a week."
He shuddered and sobbed convulsively in her arms. "I feel
bad about the way we always put her down. She was a pain in the
neck, but she didn't deserve to be killed. He paused to catch his
breath, then went on. "And, I can't bear to say it, but she didn't have
any panties on." As risqué as Robert was always pretending to be,
he had probably never been with a woman in his life.
They wheeled the body out then, sending Robert into
hyperventilation. The black bag on the stretcher--how many times
have I seen that scene on the news, Jillian asked herself
unbelievingly. I never thought that some day it might be somebody I
knew.
She bit the inside of her cheek to find out whether this was a
dream—something her dad had taught her when she had
nightmares as a child. It hurt, so she had to be awake.
She overheard a cop at the door of the trailer, talking to the
ambulance attendant. "What a rummy bunch this is—trouble
waiting to happen. Can you believe they’re fortune-tellers from New
York City? A 900 hotline right here in Port Townsend? They
shoulda stayed back east. We sure as hell don’t need them here."
She burned with shame as the ambulance attendant
snickered to the cop. "A fortune teller? If she was so damned
psychic, why didn't she see this coming?" They brayed with
laughter.
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