The Doctor's Choice(6)

By: J. D. Faver

They indulged in superficial chat. As they drove along, Breck pointed out landmarks, showing her where his ranch started and Silky’s ended.

He smelled great, something woodsy and spicy at the same time. It might have been cologne or aftershave or just soap, but it was having a disturbing effect. Cami reminded herself she was a newly-engaged woman and redirected her thoughts to the local sights.

The town looked as though the last new construction had taken place in the early 1950’s. A double feature was listed on the movie theater marquee. Some of the letters were missing but it wasn’t hard to figure out that both features had come out on DVD recently.

Breck parked in front of Tiny’s Diner. She kept her seat, allowing him to open her door and offer her a hand.

Cami smiled to herself, thinking that some of her contemporaries would be insulted to be considered so helpless. Different strokes.

Inside, they found a booth along the side. She was aware of the gamut of stares she was afforded. The faint odor of cigarettes hung in the air. Apparently the diners hadn’t heard that cigarette smoking might be harmful to your health.

“Good morning, Crystal,” Breck greeted their waitress.

“Hi, Breckenridge,” she crooned. Crystal was a size sixteen stuffed into a size ten uniform. The starched turquoise cotton stretched over every part and gaped all the way down the front, displaying her white slip between the straining buttons. She leaned over Breck’s cup to fill it with coffee, allowing him a generous view of her ample cleavage. “The usual?”

“And a menu for Dr. Carmichael, please.” Breck said.

Cami selected a larger than usual breakfast. She was famished. This surprised her because she hadn’t been able to eat much since she had first been informed of Silky’s death.

“Tell me, Breck,” she said. “Did Aunt Silky still ride every day?”

Breck’s face was suddenly somber. “To my knowledge, she did.”

“My aunt was an exceptional horsewoman. Did she experience some sort of decline recently?”

“Absolutely not. She rode with me several times a week and regularly beat the pants off me. She loved to ride and she loved to race me. Why do you ask?” He sent her a penetrating gaze.

Cami experienced a tightening in her chest under his scrutiny. She cleared her throat. “Frankly, I just can’t imagine her being thrown by any horse, especially Red. She talked about him all the time.”

“My thoughts exactly. Here’s the man to ask.” Breck raised his hand in greeting to a much older man. “Doc, come on over here.”

The tall, elderly man squinted through his glasses before crossing the diner to stand beside their booth. His bushy brows knit into a frown as he stared at her. “You’re Silky’s niece,” he said. “I saw you at the funeral. Damned shame.” He pulled up a chair and seated himself at the end of the table.

“Doc Parker and Silky were old friends,” Breck said.

“I’m Camryn, Doctor.” She extended her hand. “Was there an autopsy?”

His expression changed from melancholy to surprise to anger.

She shrank from his stern glare. “I…I was wondering if there had been an autopsy. I can’t imagine Aunt Silky being thrown by a horse. I guess I was wondering if she suffered a heart attack or stroke before she fell.”

“Cami is a doctor, Doc,” Breck said.

“I know what you meant.” The old man shook his head. “Most people around these parts fight tooth and nail to avoid an autopsy, even in the case of foul play. They object on religious grounds. They object on any grounds they can.”

The weight of disappointment settled on her shoulders. “So, there wasn’t an autopsy?”

“Didn’t say that. As a matter of fact there was a post mortem examination.”

“Did you…?” she began.

“Hell, no!” the doctor spat out. “Silky was…She was special to me. I couldn’t…“

“I understand,” she said, though she didn’t.

“The procedure was performed by the Medical Examiner over at the county seat. I haven’t heard the results, but I’ll check with him.” He scraped his chair back and went to sit at the counter turning his back on them without a word of farewell.

“I didn’t know you were interested in the autopsy,” Breck said. “I’d have warned you about Doc. He and Silky were sweethearts for decades. He’s taken her death pretty hard.”

“That’s apparent.” She took a deep breath, giving Breck a sharp glance across the table. “You’re telling me that my Aunt Silky had a boyfriend for longer than I’ve been alive and I didn’t know anything about it?”