"Good morning Mr Murphy," the man answering my call said, his voice a deep baritone. "How may I help you?"
"I'm a private detective and your name came up in connection with a case I'm working on."
"Oh really? Intriguing. In what respect?"
"Presumably as the husband of one Coleen Engel Whitmore."
"Ex-husband," he said succinctly. "And I use the term 'husband' loosely since we were never actually married, although we lived together as husband and wife until she decided to move on. What's she gotten herself into now?"
"You make it sound as if she was prone to getting into trouble."
"Let's just say she was always looking for the main chance. For a while she thought that was me, but I wasn't ready to get married. Especially since I started to think she only wanted me for my money." He chuckled. "I'm not wealthy, but I'm not exactly poor either. Anyway, as I said, she eventually packed her bags and left. That's the last I heard of her."
"Why was she using your last name?"
"Because she hadn't done her research. She didn't know that Wyoming doesn't recognize common-law marriage. Not that she said that was her goal. She just asked if she could call herself Coleen Whitmore. That she'd feel more 'comfortable' doing that since we were living together. I cared about her so I agreed. It wasn't until I told her I didn't want to marry her that she brought up the common-law thing. She wasn’t happy, to put it mildly, when I told her that wouldn't work. She took off a few days later. Now my turn to ask a question. Why are you interested in her?"
I debated for a minute then gave him the very short version, ending by telling him she'd been killed. "I suspect you might be hearing from the police soon," I warned him in conclusion. "If I could find you, it's for sure they will too."
"Killed?" He sounded shocked. "Was it a car accident?"
"No. Some one murdered her."
"Oh my God." He sighed deeply. "Coleen may have had her faults but she didn't deserve that." After sighing again he asked, "Do the police have any idea who did it?"
"Not that I'm aware of." I told him what little I knew about her death. "It could have been a mugging, but from what I was told that seems unlikely."
"Poor Coleen. Look, if and when you find out about her funeral could you let me know? I'd at least like to send flowers. We might not have had a burning romance but as I said, we did live together for a while and until the end I cared about her."
"I will," I assured him. "And if you think of anything at all that could be relevant, please let me know?" I chuckled. "Something I'm sure the cops will say to you when they contact you."
"Something to look forward to," he said dryly.
After that comment we ended the conversation.
The rest of my day was taken up with other cases I was working on. One was setting up a security system for a family with a new baby. They hadn't thought having one was necessary until the kid came along and the in-laws had put the fear of kidnapping or worse into the mother's head.