Picket Fences

As the sun comes up over the bay, it brings with it a new day for the residents of Benicia. But for one resident, the new day brings trepidation about the unknown.

As Angela pulls up in front of the police station, she checks her makeup one last time and puts  her wallet and keys under the seat, just in case she doesn’t come back out. “I’m here to see Agent Edward Benning,” she tells the information officer. “I’ll let him know, have a seat,” the officer replies. She sits. 

Angela can’t help but be nervous, she thinks about all the things she’s done to get her to this point.  Agent Benning appears in the hallway, walking towards Angela, “Mrs. Wingate, follow me, please,” he says. The two head to Agent Benning’s office, “Have a seat,” he says. “Thank you. Why am I here?” Angela asks.  “Well, I was hoping you could help clear some things up for me about your friend Connie’s case,” he replies. “I’m willing to help any way that I can,” She says, trying to stay calm and composed. “Well, for starters I’d like to… wait how rude, would you like some water?” he asks.  “No, I’m fine,” she answers. “From my understanding, you and she were both on the same board for the F.A.C.T. fundraiser that was planned by your other friend, Madalyn Walker. Going over the guest list, it reads like a who’s who of the criminal world. I mean, you’ve got drug lords and a few gun runners,” he says, looking at Angela waiting for recognition to betray her face. “Connie was in charge of the invites; she promised big donors, but I had no idea who they were,” Angela says, looking at the list. “Well, there two names that stand out for me. One is Martin Kray, his father was found dead in San Francisco. And one name I am surprised doesn’t sound familiar: Sarah Bennet… You handled the sale of Connie’s house and according to these documents Connie sold her house the night of the event … the night she was attacked.” He looks at Angela, waiting to hear her explanation. “I deal with a lot of clients, I can look in my files and see who this is and get back to you on that,” she replies. He takes a pause, “That would be great because I’d like to talk to her, this Sarah Bennet who  bought a house from a woman that has not been seen in over a year, whose estate you handled the sale and transfer of. This same woman who turns around and donates $250,000 to the F.A.C.T. Foundation. A foundation where you hold a board seat with the woman that was attacked in her home,” the agent, scratching his chin, goes on to say, “Now, if I was a betting man, I would  bet on those events being connected.” “I don’t know what you want me to say,” Angela replies, knowing that he’s getting close. “I know it sounds strange taken out of context, this is a  small town, everyone knows everyone, so it’s of no shock to me that we’re all connected,” Angela says, trying not to be flustered. “Yes, Mrs. Wingate, but not everyone ends up in a coma… you may go now, and you if you could, get me that file by the end of the week,” he says. 

But Angela Wingate isn’t the only resident confronted with a deadline.

Olivia is leaving her eye appointment and spots Madalyn’s car in front of Tilth & Oak. She decides to go in to catch her. “Madalyn, hi! I’m so glad I caught you. This is a lovely store,” she proclaims. “Hi, yeah it is, I come here to fill my soaps and they have these really nice washer sheets that make my clothes smell so good,” Madalyn says like a kid in a candy store.  “Well, I want to run something by you, you know my good friend Trisha Darling?” Olivia asks. “The Trisha Darling! Of course I know her, I mean, I know of her,” Madalyn replies. “Good, well she throws a lavish dinner party every year for her husband’s firm, Lockard & Stone, it’s a way to thank all the big investors, and partners of the firm. Well anyway, her usual planner can’t help her because of some family drama.”  “That’s sad,” Madalyn says.  “Yes, it’s sad but it opens up an opportunity, and I suggested you,” Olivia says with a grin.  Madalyn, stunned, can barely get a word out. “Th-thank you, but I can’t,” Madalyn utters. “Now, wait a minute, she was at the F.A.C.T. fundraiser and she was very impressed, she wants to meet with you, here’s her number. Call her. You don’t have much time before she finds someone else. There is a lot of money on the table — wait, they have that here?” Olivia says, distractedly looking at a jar of Essential Addictions – Balinese Jasmine Shea Butter, leaving Madalyn to wonder if this could be the start of a new chapter in her life.