A detective asks Violet what time Tom left. Gripping a tuft of his hair he wishes he’d never come into this place. Listening intently to her response, he whispers to himself, “She lied. Covering for me again.” Even though she doesn’t know Tom really, he could of done it before entering the diner last night.
The coppers leave and she comes back to the room since her shift is over. Violet finds Tom standing behind the door as she closes it behind her. Just as she is about to speak he presses his finger to his lips “Shhh…” quietly he says in her ear, “I heard everything.”
With their faces close together he tells her he will slip out now. Violet gives him a piece of paper with an address on it. Her apartment, he knows the building it’s only a short walk away. Talking in hushed voices he protests, “I’m not getting you anymore involved that you are already. Just forget you ever saw me.”
“Can’t do that Tom.” Fixed on him the strength behind her brown eyes surprises Tom. “Go to my building, hide in the closet in the hallway outside my apartment on the second floor.” Not having another plan he nods in agreement. Checking that there is no one watching he leaves and high tails it out of the diner’s side door.
Waiting now for her in the hallway closet of the apartment building. She’s there soon and sneaks Tom into the tiny apartment. Locking up and then closing the curtains of the window that overlooks the street, Violet goes to the cupboard and takes out a jar, producing a small wad of cash she lays it on the counter. “You might need this.”
“No. Thanks” Tom says shaking his head. “Why are you helping me?” sitting at the counter he pushes the cash back to her.
“You’re in trouble, obviously.” Putting the cash in her pocket she gets a glass of water, and continues. “I’ve got a good feeling about you, and I trust my instincts.” She didn’t say much, but sat next to him in the kitchen.
Tom looked at her, the way she moved, how she spoke; there was something different about her. “I’m not a good man Violet. I did time.” Lowering his eyes, he felt small.
Without a pause she replied. “I know. The police detective told me at the diner. Said they know who you are, they have the whole thing worked out.” Pulling out the newspaper from her coat she opened it to the front page. “But they got it all wrong.”
Bewildered Tom takes the paper and reads the headline, and a few paragraphs. The story was of Frank’s death. Found late last night in his home. Gunned down by an old acquaintance seeking revenge, leaving a personalized lighter at the scene, and overheard in the town’s bar earlier that evening threatening his life.
“Damn, what luck.” He said. Looking up from the paper Tom said to Violet, “I didn’t do it.”
Smiling Violet nods, “I know. What happened before you showed up at the diner?”
Feeling trusting of this near perfect stranger, Tom was cautious but had also learned to trust his gut and right now he needed some help. So he told Violet of his encounter with Gus just after he got off the bus from prison.
That old chum Gus had to twist his arm to have drinks with him, and was eager to pay for the first few. Took Tom to a crowded bar, talking about old times and how he’d ended up in jail. Tom wanted to forget about it for a little while but Gus just wouldn’t let it go. Pushing him to talk about the old days when they were running errands around town for Frank Matheson the wealthy businessman in town. But it was a small town, and people knew who the bad guys were. He ran the lumber mill but also was a “friend” to the Boys who really ran the town. Between them they employed more than half the town.
While in the bar last night Frank came in and Tom threatened him. Frank wasn’t afraid since his hired muscle was protecting him. Frank had a drink at the bar as he watched Tom fight some of the bodyguards. They threw Tom into the garbage cans outside the bar. Gus didn’t get involved, but came over once that the trouble was over. Helping him up and taking Tom across the street to the diner, Gus had to go, but suggested Tom get some coffee and sober up.
“Gus must have taken my lighter while helping me up, and he knew that Pete would not let me stay too long in his diner with the way I looked.” Tom stood up, “Its time I cleared my name once and for all. Can I take a quick shower and shave?”
“Of course. Right through there.” Violet motioned to the bathroom.
“Can I ask you for one more thing, go to the police station and follow up with that detective and find out all you can about Frank’s murder. Where and how did it happen?” Tom asked. Not wanting to involve Violet any further in his mess, this would keep her out of harms way.
“Okay. I’ll do it. Just stay here and I’ll be back soon.” Reluctantly Violet leaves the apartment.