Picket Fences

As the night settles in and a cool breeze flows off the waters of the bay, Payton is looking at his text messages.

Reading a text from Xavier, he decides to call. “So, what’s this idea you have?” Payton says sarcastically. “Well, I’m going to have our Atherton house to myself for the weekend, I was hoping you’d like to come to hang out for the weekend with me?”  Xavier asks, hoping to get a yes. “Wait …your folks have a house in Atherton? …That’s insane!” Payton says, realizing how much money the Leavenworths may actually have. “Yeah, it was my grandma’s house before she died, and left it to my mom,” Xavier answers. “It sounds good, but I don’t know where we stand, and then there’s you and Saraya, and I don’t know what I would tell my folks … Can I think about it? Payton asks.  There is a slight pause on the phone “Yeah.. just let me know,” Xavier says as he falls back on his bed.  “It’s nice to hear your voice. Did you ever see what was on the flash drive?” Xavier asks.  “I just saw a lot of pictures and documents but I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. I did see a lot of voice files that I can’t open because they’re encrypted,” Payton says. “I could look at it … I mean I’d still like to help you,” Xavier says. “I’d like that, I’ll call you tomorrow and let you know about the weekend,” Payton says. They hang up the phone.

Payton isn’t the only one trying to unlock information.

Agent Edward Benning is becoming increasingly frustrated running into dead ends during his investigation of the Connie Spalding home invasion.  He remembers the Baxter name coming up in a conversation he had with one of the officers.  He pulls up the cold case file system and looks up “Baxter.” He begins to take down names, Shane and Carol Baxter, expecting to see how they could be connected to Connie, but to his surprise, a different name is prevalent in the file: Angela Wingate. Agent Benning feels he is close to something, and at the center of it is Angela Wingate.

Angela is just arriving home.

“I’m home,” she announces. Payton comes downstairs to meet her. “Hi, baby,” she says as she enters the kitchen. “Dad said he was going to be late, something about traffic,” Payton says, looking at his mother, wanting to question her about what he found in Connie’s house. “Mom, can I ask you something?“ Payton asks, trying to gather the courage. “Sure, what’s up?” she responds. With the words on the tip of his tongue, Payton abandons the question and asks instead, “Can I go with one of my friends, he has to look after his grandma’s house for the weekend.” “I don’t see why not. Just leave the address,” Angela says. Payton heads back upstairs. Then, Angela’s phone rings; it’s a number she doesn’t recognize. “Hello, this is Angela Wingate,” she answers.  “Hi, Mrs. Wingate, this is Agent Benning. I was hoping you’s have time to talk tomorrow. I’d like to talk to you about Shane and Carol Baxter,” he says. Angela’s heart stops. At a loss for words, all she can manage is, “Sure, what time?” “How’s ten o’clock for you?” “Ten is fine,” Angela responds. She hangs up the phone and stands frozen, thinking, “This is never going to end…”