Home » NEWS » Arts & Entertainment » PHIL HARDWICK’S THE ALIBI, a serial novel: Chapter 6: An Interview with the Suspect

PHIL HARDWICK’S THE ALIBI, a serial novel: Chapter 6: An Interview with the Suspect

Alibi-graphic_rgb» Jack Boulder, Mississippi’s premier private investigator, seeks to recover the special Brett Favre MVP exhibit that has been stolen from the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame & Museum.

Monday, March 2
Jackson, Mississippi

On Monday evening Jack Boulder spent half an hour at his computer and found an online article about Ruth Ann Tucker’s campaign for the Madison County Board of Supervisors.

Madison — A community volunteer who started one of the county’s most successful youth programs defeated an incumbent supervisor. She promised to serve as a peacekeeper decades after her parents protested in sit-ins during the civil rights movement.

Ruth Ann Tucker defeated Ridley Robertson with 57 percent of the vote. The 35-year-old public accountant campaigned on a promise to be a consensus builder, referring to Robertson’s tumultuous one term on the board. Her campaign was endorsed by many of the county’s black ministers and white business leaders.

“I am so grateful for the unity shown in this campaign,” she told supporters at her victory party. “Downtown Canton and the historic residential district have a lot in common, and I plan to work hard for both. I also want to point out that even though there are many demographic differences in the southern part of the county compared to the northern part of the county, we are all Madison Countians. This district can look forward to a supervisor who will work hard for the ward and for all of Madison County.”

Tucker blamed Robertson during the campaign for bringing dishonor to the Board of Supervisors by disrupting public meetings and by holding private meetings with certain vendors in violation of the Open Meetings law. Robertson charged that if Tucker was elected she would use it as a stepping stone to run for the legislature and that she did not really care about Madison County.

Delores Mackey, who works at a local museum, said she voted for Tucker because she believes that the newly-elected supervisor will do what is best for all of Madison County.

“I think she is moderate and progressive, but doesn’t play to any party line or to any favored groups,” Makey said. “And just look at what she has done for the youth.”

Tucker and Robertson were the only two candidates in the race so there will be no runoff as will occur in several other Supervisor races.

On Tuesday morning, Boulder drove to Madison’s upscale Highland Colony Parkway where he found Ruth Ann Tucker’s office near the even more upscale Renaissance shopping complex. He walked in unannounced and told the receptionist he would like to see her “for just a moment about some taxing matters.” He couldn’t resist smiling inwardly at the cleverness of his remark. Assuming that Boulder was interested in becoming a client, the receptionist made a call to Tucker on the intercom and then ushered Boulder into Tucker’s office with a wave of the hand.

Boulder took a seat and studied Ruth Ann Tucker as she talked on the telephone. She had placed the device under her left ear, head cocked toward it so as to give her the use of both hands. She was strikingly beautiful in a professional sort of way. She could have been a model for the business school MBA program. Her desk was covered with papers and file folders neatly arranged in stacks. Her tone of voice to the other person on the phone was efficient, but friendly. “Just remember that we must file by April fifteenth so I’ll need the information as soon as you can get it to me.” She listened as her head tilted back and her eyes looked up to the ceiling.

“Tell Miss Vivian I asked about her.” No wonder she got elected, thought Boulder. She has good people skills.

She said goodbye, hung up the phone, picked up a notepad and wrote something on it. Her fingers were extra long, but her fingernails were clipped short as one who deals a lot with paper and files would do. She raised the long index finger on her left hand signaling Boulder to wait, punched a button on the telephone from which a voice said, “Yes m’am?”

She told the voice to hold her calls. She clasped her hands under her chin and said, “Now where were we?”

“We were about to talk about why your car was seen at a burglary at the Sports Hall of Fame Museum this past weekend,” Boulder said.

“I’ve already talked to the police,” she said with a sigh. “And I told them everything they wanted to know, so I don’t know of anything that I can do for you.”

“I understand that,” Boulder said. “But I need you to know my role.”

“And what might that be?” she asked.

“My job is to recover the item,” Boulder said. “I’m less interested in who took it than where it is located. I’m also authorized to approve a substantial reward for its recovery. The identity of the person turning over the information can be protected.” She studied him for a long 10 seconds. He took that as a sign that she knew something.

“It’s sort of like the anonymous crime reporting setup. You’ve probably seen it on television.”

“Tell me how that works.”

Boulder shrugged. “Someone has information, and calls the number.

After the information is given, the caller receives a code number. If the information pans out, the caller is instructed to go to a certain drive-in window at a bank. The code number is given, and the person receives the money.”

“That’s for small money,” she said. “What about big money?”

“What do you mean?” Boulder asked.

“You said the reward was big. How big?”

“Very big,” Boulder replied.

“Shall we quit playing games now?” she said. “No perpetrator can get reward money by simply returning the merchandise.”

“Of course they can,” Boulder replied. “It could come to six figures in the right situation. The insurance company is only interested in return of the item.”

“A hundred thousand?”

“Yes,” Boulder said. “Would that cause some interest in this neighborhood?”

“What do you mean by that?” she asked firmly.

Boulder instantly realized that he had made an error by implying something that could be taken as a racist comment. Past experience on the streets as a cop told him that attempting to defend or explain a comment that another person assumes is racist is pointless.

“I’m sorry,” Boulder said. “I didn’t mean it the way it sounded.”

“I’ll ask around and see if anybody who knows anything is interested in your money.”

She slid her chair backward signaling that our conversation was over. Boulder did not want it to end.

“I understand that you are on the Board of Supervisors?”

“I am,” she said.

“What made you run for office?” Boulder asked.

“The usual,” she replied. “Make my community a better place.”

“Who did you have to beat?” he asked.

“Enough chitchat, Mr. Boulder,” she said. “I have work to do.”

“Before I leave, would you mind telling me where you were this past Friday and Saturday?” She crossed her arms on her chest and glared at him. “I know that you have already been interviewed by the police, but I’m just curious,” Boulder said.

“Like I told them,” she replied. “I drove to Ocean Springs Thursday afternoon. I spent Friday and most of the day Saturday in the office of my client performing a review audit of his records. He furnished lodging for me Thursday and Friday night, and I stayed with a friend on Saturday night. I drove back home on Sunday. When I got back there were two state investigators who visited me less than thirty minutes after I returned. They asked the same questions.”

“Did you notice if your tag was on your car?” Boulder asked.

“Is your tag on your car right now?” she asked.

Boulder smiled. “Touché. I can’t say for sure that it is,” he said. They both stood. “Would you mind giving me the names of your client and your friend.”

She took a deep breath and said, “When you started this conversation you told me that your role was to recover an item. Now you are asking me questions about my client and my friend. I consider that to be personal information and beyond the scope of your assignment. So now I wonder about your true role. Good day, sir.”

Boulder reached in his pocket, pulled out his business card and handed it to her. “Would you mind calling me if you have any information?” He turned toward the door and then said, “One more thing. Why do you think someone would try to pin this on you?”

“I can think of about five hundred reasons,” she said.

“What do you mean?”

“That was how many votes I won by,” she said.

Boulder walked through the door.

“Wait a minute,” she said. She reached down and wrote on a spreadsheet. “Here’s the names and contact information of my client and my friend. You talk to them and you will see that I am being set up.”

Boulder smiled and accepted the paper. “I appreciate that,” he said.

“And tell Brett Favre that he wouldn’t have those trophies without Donald Driver.”


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