It's rerun season here at the Life's a Beach Blog as my life priorities continue to weigh on the Real Estate Side. But Friday returns with fresh content and a great beach chat and I'll be back in my writing chair from then on. But today it's a rerun. Not just any rerun, mind you, but the very first "mystery" I ever wrote! It has a special place in my heart and I wanted to share it with all of my new followers who have joined the rolls since the story was last published in October, 2011. And those of you who have already read it might enjoy it again! So here's a little story I like to call...
The Sniper Sisters
“It’s my turn to pull the trigger.” Evie straddled the large fallen tree blocking the trail. With a grunt, she hauled her left leg over and set both sensibly-clad feet on the ground, enjoying a moment’s rest as her older-by-three-minutes sister Dot struggled with the obstacle.
“No, you knocked off Marty Knudsen last week, remember?” Dot executed an awkward belly roll over the log, momentum carrying her until she landed in a pile of damp, decomposing leaves at Evie’s feet.
“Only because your shot on Alma Schaeffer went wide and took out Cuddles McGee instead.”
“It didn’t go wide. I meant to shoot that damn cat. It left two more goldfinches on my doorstep that morning.”
Dot struggled to her feet in the wobbly, ungainly manner of a camel, then brushed the dirt off her knees. “If I hadn’t acted quickly to take
out, she would have gotten us first. You were taking too long to reload. Not my fault you screwed up your turn.” Alma
“I’m not going sit here and argue with you. I’m making this hit today because I’m a better shot than you.”
“No, not better. Just luckier.”
“Luckier my Aunt Gertrude!” Evie shot to her feet stepped in front of Dot, who was a wee bit older and whole lot heavier. “That was pure huntress skill that took down Betty Haversham,” she said, using her four-inch height advantage.
Dot dismissed Evie’s success as if swatting at a pesky gnat. “Heck, even blindfolded you’d have hit Betty’s broad behind.”
“Are you the pot or the kettle here?” Evie crossed her arms and stared pointedly at Dot’s dessert cammies, stretched to within a stitch of their lives.
“At least I have the good sense not to bend over to pull weeds from my garden. Talk about an irresistible target--”
“What about Hank then?” Evie interrupted, pulling herself up even taller. “One bullet and he was a goner.”
“He was snoring in his hammock. There’s no skill involved in hitting a stationary target.” Dot used her shirt sleeve to mop her brow. “Breaks over. Let’s get moving.” She pushed her pith helmet lower on her gray curls then turned and set off along the overgrown path, using the butt of her gun as a machete to swat away brambly greenbriers and leggy weeds.
Evie marched along in her sister’s wake. “Charlie knows we’re after him, and he’ll be on heightened alert. We won’t get a second shot at him, either. I still think I should do the hit.”
“You know it’s personal for me. Charlie cheated me out of a dollar seventy-five last week at the Canasta tournament. Nobody cheats Dot Westmoreland and gets away with it.”
“Your husband cheated...”
Dot waved her gun over her head. “Possession is nine-tenths, sister, dear. I’m shooting today. And any more yapping and we’ll miss our chance at Charlie. Now hush or he’ll hear us coming.”
With only the occasional sound of a twig snapping under their feet, they made their way through the woods until they reached a chain-link fence marking the boundary. Keeping as low to the ground as their 70-year-old knees would allow, they scurried along its perimeter.
A mockingbird warned them not to get any closer to her nest.
“Hell’s bells. Might as well send up flares,” Dot said.
Evie ignored her sister’s grumbles. She always got testy before a kill.
Within minutes they were in position, crouched behind a copse of Azalea bushes in full, purple bloom. The cedar-shingled cottages sat on the other side of a fence, less than fifty yards away.
Evie tapped the face of her watch with her gnarled finger. “In exactly three minutes Charlie should be coming out from that sliding glass door. The one next to the goose in a yellow rain slicker. He’ll walk to this trashcan.” She pointed to the one not five feet from where they hid. “You’ll have to catch him on the fly before he turns away and heads towards the pool hall for his big rematch with Old Man Gunderson.”
“Good reconnaissance, Evie.”
“Thanks, Dot, but next time you can help Rosemary make two-hundred and seventy-nine fruitcakes. Do you know how much candied fruit has to be chopped in order to make two-hundred and seventy-nine fruitcakes? All just to find out about her and Charlie’s secret rendezvous.” She flexed her gnarled fingers. The pain still lingered five days later.
“I can’t believe Charlie would go to so much trouble just to sneak a Big Mac and a chocolate shake every week. If the good Lord seems fit to keep on this earth until I’m ninety-seven-years old, well, I’m gonna eat whatever I want whenever I want and I don’t care who sees me.”
“Amen to that, sister.” Evie removed the lens cap from her bird-watching glasses. Periscoping her head above the azaleas, she focused in on Rosemary Wetherby’s back patio. “You know something, Dot? I haven’t felt this alive in fifty-odd years. Kind of makes me regret a lifetime of organizing bake sales and attending PTA meetings when I could have been a CIA agent or something.”
“He’s coming. Get down,” Dot said as she swung her legs around until she lied flat on her stomach and poked the barrel of her gun through the fence and around the roots of the bushes where the foliage wasn’t near as thick. With one eye closed, she stared through the viewfinder. Slowly and deliberately she fit her finger into the gun’s trigger mechanism.
Evie wiped the sweat beading on her brow. She was certain the thundering of her heart would give away their position.
“I’ve got him in my sights,” Dot whispered as her finger twitched on the trigger. “Come on, Charlie. Come to Mama.”
The two women watched Charlie shuffle down the sidewalk. He took one final slurp of his milkshake before tossing the cup in the trash can. A satisfied smile spread across his face.
“Now!” Evie hissed.
Dot applied firm and steady pressure to the trigger. With a loud crack, the gun released its bullet.
The two women waited just long enough to see a crimson stain spread down Charlie’s vest before they turned and scampered back through the woods. It wasn’t until their electric car was skittering down the utility road that Evie dared to speak. “Nice shot, Dot.”
“Thank you, Evie.”
* * *
That evening, dinner conversation at the Hilton Village Retirement Home focused on the assassination of one their residents.
“Poor Charlie never knew what hit him.”
“I heard tell that Rosemary set him up.”
“’Bout time somebody took that Cansta-cheatin’ son of a biscuit maker out.”
As diners scooped up the last morsels of their peach cobbler, Mrs. Davidson, the activities director, made her way to the stage. The microphone let out a terrible squeak as she started to speak. “Ladies and Gentlemen. I’m sure you’ve all heard of Charlie Cavanaugh’s assassination this afternoon.” An excited murmur rippled across the crowd. “A fitting ending for a courageous player. He was the last living member of the infamous Go Ahead, Make My Day team, shot at one forty-three this afternoon. Let’s have a hand for Charlie.” Her arm swept towards the back of the room where Charlie slumped in a metal chair.
The crowd rose and gave him a standing ovation. Charlie acknowledged their acclamation with a wave of his hand.
Mrs. Davidson waited until the audience settled back down before continuing. “It is with great pleasure that I award this year’s Paintball Assassination Game championship trophy to The Sniper Sisters, Dorothy Westmorland and Evelyn Binghamton. Congratulations, ladies, for a game well played.”