Thursday, December 24, 2015
"Detective Anson. Can I see you for a second?" the chief said as he up to the man who was still occupying a table, getting ready to hand the Butch Conner case to the authorities up north and head home to salvage what was left of the holidays.
"Sure, throwing me a going-away party?" Anson said as he got up and followed the chief into his office.
"No, but I am giving you a hell of a gift." the chief said as he gestured to the same detective that interviewed Charmaine the other day.
"I'm sure you've heard of the case of Charmaine Hayes' restaurant, am I right?" the local detective said. Anson had to keep from rolling his eyes at this story that was more seemingly more important than a national manhunt to these locals.
"I am. But it has nothing to do with me."
"Keep listening." the chief said, sensing the slight hostility.
"Well, I talked to Mrs. Hayes and she gave me a tip that a crazy old man on the east coast wanted to do some harm to her."
"Well, he's from this town, and it turns out that he has a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He's got some health issues yet decides to take a 'non-traditional' path of treatment."
Starting to see a connection, Anson gave the detective his full attention.
"The man used to be a local restaurant owner. He owned the restaurant where Butch Conner worked for a bit."
"Huh..." Anson replied, in amazement.
"Wait, why would he be working if he had his own little under-the-table business?" the chief asked, causing the local detective to sigh as quietly as possible.
"It looks better if you have something to tell the IRS, plus it helps create connections." Anson replied before gesturing to the detective to continue.
"Anyways, anyone who ate at the restaurant would know that Butch would do anything for that man. So, I got a bit of a hunch and called in a favor to my buddies in the NYPD to get the man's phone records. Turned out that he was smart enough to use his personal cell phone to call a prepaid phone here in Oregon. We were able to track the phone's serial number back to the store."
"Was you able to get a hold of the store?"
"Oh yes, I went there yesterday and braved the last-minute crowds to get a hold of the manager of the little discount store. Holiday spirits be damned, she gave me access to the surveillance video, and we were able to see exactly who bought the phone. Look."
Anson craned his head over and nearly leapt out of his skin when he saw Butch Conner buying the phone with his son behind him.
"Merry Christmas, Detective." the chief said.
"It's not over yet, it just says that he was here, but not that he's still here." the local detective chimed in.
"But it does indeed link the restaurant fire to Butch Conner. I need to speak to Mrs. Hayes."
"On Christmas Eve?"
"Oh, I think she'll want to see this man go down as much as I do." Anson said as he grabbed his coat and slid out a notepad. The detective took it and wrote down Charmaine's address.
Meanwhile, in Boston, Toby looked out of the window as he heard his phone ring. His face lit up as he saw Olivia's name pop up on the caller ID.
"Hi!" he said as he happily answered the call.
"Hi! I just wanted to call and see how you are doing."
"Pretty good, actually."
"Calvin and Orson still there?"
"No, they left early this morning. They have to be back by tomorrow to see their relatives."
"And you're still happy? I would've thought you'd be sad."
"Well, it's only goodbye for now."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I wanted to surprise you, but Orson talked Dad into letting us move back home."
Olivia nearly dropped the phone in surprise. Her uncle was a hard-headed jerk, but her meek and awkward teenage friend was able to convince him to see the error of his ways. How she thought of him and how she feeled about him changed in that moment.
"That's… that's… wonderful!"
"I know. Much better than anything anyone could get me for Christmas."
"Same here. I've missed you so much."
"I've missed you, too."
"So, are you spending Christmas packing?"
"You bet! We're trying to get back before New Year's."
"Well, I better let you get back to it. I just wanted to talk to you for the holidays. Merry Christmas, Toby."
"Merry Christmas to you, too! Love you!"
"Love you too!"
Olivia wanted to jump into the air in happiness. She needed something positive in her life after coming back to a tragedy. She looked through her phone and decided to make one more phone call.
On a bus heading towards Maine, Calvin looked out of the window as his older brother was dozed off next to him. A small chime started to come from his coat pocket. Seeing that the sound wasn't enough to wake the sleeping teenager, Calvin gave Orson a little shake.
"Huh…? What's going on, Pup?"
"Your phone's going off."
"What… OH!" Orson said as he answered it quickly without seeing who was calling.
"Hello?" he groggily asked.
"Hey, it's me."
Orson nearly elbowed his little brother as he sat up straight in surprise.
"Olivia? How are you doing?" he asked, surprised that she would take time to call him.
"It's been a little crazy here. Kenton's mom's restaurant caught on fire."
"Oh no." Orson said in shock. He didn't care too much for Kenton, but he would never wish something like this on his family.
"Yeah… I wanted to call you and wish you a Merry Christmas."
"Oh… well… Merry Christmas to you, too." Orson said, not wanting anyone to see that he was blushing.
"I heard about what you did for Toby. Thank you. It means a lot to me."
"You're welcome. I saw first-hand how your uncle can act. No one should have to deal with that."
"Yeah. I'm glad that we can all be together again, soon. Oh, that's not… ARGH!" Orson said, causing Calvin to snicker a little bit.
"Well, I've got to go. I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate what you did."
"Thanks. Have a nice holiday. I'll see you soon." Orson said as the call ended.
Back in Oregon, Charmaine and Kenton sat in the living room of their house and watched a Christmas special in silence.
"You know what's the worst about this whole thing?" Kenton said, just wanting to talk to his mother.
"I remember how Elias and I had the high score on that arcade machine."
"Do you remember that time we caught Mia and Cameron unplugging the machine whenever someone would get close to beating it?"
"Right? We had so many upset customers."
"I know. But deep down, I understood why they did it. I hated having to throw them out."
"Honestly? It was a bit funny."
Charmaine and Kenton both shared a small laugh.
"You know, baby, we shouldn't be sitting here wallowing in our sadness. See if you can get Olivia and the others over. We need some fun."
Kenton nodded and got out his phone.