- Truth or Consequences by GWHARGIS
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Miranda hears from Dougie.
Miranda's Trouble In Paradise
: Truth or Consequences by GWHARGIS

Miranda Jessup Buckley has decided to find out what happened to Dougie Wilcox.

So far, Miranda has made it her goal to find out what happened to Dougie Wilcox. She suspected that her old nemesis, Missy killed him, but he called. Now, she wants to know where he's been and what has he gotten himself into.


I clutch the phone. A million questions are sprinting around my head right now.

"What kind of shit, Dougie? The kind that makes you cut off contact with your own son?" I bark at him. I didn't realize how much anger I had until I realized he was hiding from us.

"I had to. There are people after me. You don't understand."

I try to relax the grip on the phone. I take one of those ridiculous cleansing breaths that Carrie taught me. All I feel is hot anger circulating through my lungs. "He thinks you're dead."

"Good. Let him keep thinking that."

"No. No, no, no. I'm not going to lie to him. He deserves better, Dougie."

I hear him groan, almost animal like, through the line. "If he thinks I'm dead, he's safe."

I tap my fingers on the desk. He's not making sense. He ripped some people off. He'll go to jail. Do the crime, do the time. "Just turn yourself in, Dougie. No one can hurt you when you're in jail."

He laughs. "Tell that to Jeffrey Epstein." He let's go a sigh. "I'm dead, Miranda. Stop looking for me. Everyone is safer if I'm out of the picture."

He doesn't say goodbye, the line just drops.

I try to make sense of what he's said. Who is after him? How am I going to act like I don't know he's alive? Why doesn't he want help?

My fingers are shaking as I dial home. Waylon answers on the third ring.

"Hey, what're you doing?"

"The dishes, fluffing pillows, wiping the counters and floors. You know, all the stuff I trash while you're working." There is a slight playful tone in his voice, but I know he's still a bit miffed because I called him out the other day.

"Good. Thank you. Maybe I'll raise your allowance."

"You don't give me any allowance."

I force a laugh. "Then maybe I'll start."

"Your mom is coming to pick me up in a little while. She wants to see a movie and asked me to go. I might not be here when you get home. Okay?"

I nod, thankful that my mom is going to be with him. "Sure. Have fun."

Rita sticks her head around the door frame. "Hey, I need to clock out. Sorry. I can hang around for a few minutes if you need me to."

I don't look up, but shake my head. "Is Preston here yet?"

"Not yet."

I muster a smile. "Okay. Clock out. I'll see you tomorrow."

Rita waits until I walk by to go in. "Miranda? Is everything okay?"



Preston talks non stop about basketball. He tells me what makes a good team player (someone whos happy to assist as much as score), his favorite NBA team (the Celtics), his favorite shot (a three from the corner), his worst game ever (playing a team that cheated, did dirty fouls, and kept calling him "white shadow").

"You're real quiet tonight," he says. "You getting sick?"

"I have a lot on my mind," I say, looking over at the window.

"Come over here. This is what I do when something is eating away at me," he says, jogging back to the office and coming out with his basketball. "Just dribble."

"I'm good."

"Then show me how good."

I try not to laugh at him. "I meant no thank you, not that I'm good at basketball."

"Ever play basketball?"

"Just during that period of hell on earth known as high school."

"What position were you?"

"I don't know. It was two weeks of phys ed." I take the ball from him and dribble it. Not bad for someone who hasn't touched one in twenty years, but not good either.

Immediately, Preston's hand shoots out and he steals it. "Gotta keep it lower. Did you see how quick I got that away from you?" He does his fancy dribbling, the ball going around his back, then between each leg.

I wait for him to knock over an end cap or for the ball to bounce off his foot and go shooting across the floor. But, of course, it doesn't. Preston is one with the ball.

"Hey, Coach," I say, nodding my head towards the office, "I'm going to go make a phone call."

"Can you put this back there?" He hands the basketball to me, then moves around behind the counter. "Are these hot dogs any good?" He points to the rotating grill.

"You tell me. I think those same hot dogs have been in there since 2016."

I close the door to the office, enough to hear if the store gets busy, but still gives me some privacy.

I dial Mitch's number.

"I was just thinking about you," he say in lieu of hello.

"You were? Do tell." I do my best to sound seductive while still dressed in jeans and my stupid Little Eagle attire.

"Lawrence Welk came on and I know how you enjoy those senior men," he says.

"You're a jack ass, you know that, Danner."

"No. I really was thinking about you. We never have had that fancy dinner date we've been planning. How about this weekend?"

I smile, thinking about how sweet Mitch is. He has me, but he still manages to keep sweeping me off my feet. "He called."

"I'll go talk to him tomorrow. I promise."

I swallow the lump in my throat. "Not Starling. Dougie called."


"About three hours ago. He said he messed up. There are people who are after him. He wants everyone to think he's dead. He said Waylon will be safer if he's gone."

A low whistle comes through the line. "I'm guessing, good ol' Dougie has pissed off more than Mr. Starling."

"I don't know if I can lie to Waylon."

Mitch is silent for a few seconds. "Then you have to ask yourself, Miranda, what would be easier, lying until we figure out what's going on or burying him. I'd be real careful about your choice. It sounds like Dougie messed with the wrong crowd."

After I hang up the phone, I lay my head on the desk. I think about Waylon and Dougie. Maybe it would be better for all of us if Dougie had just disappeared ... for good.



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