Monday, July 8, 2013

Beach Tale: "When We Were Middle Aged and Foolish" First Installment

    This is the first installment of my short mystery, "When We Were Middle Aged and Foolish."  
     A new chapter will be posted every Monday for the next seven weeks.  So take a little vacation--if only in your mind--to the shore, where murder and revenge are afoot in the bucolic town of Sagucci Bay.   
     And don't forget the sunscreen!

When We Were Middle Aged and Foolish
Installment ONE of Eight

          I’ve never seen a dead body up close and personal, let alone one chopped up like a fryer chicken and stuffed into two Hefty Cinch Saks. It’s not a pretty sight, and is accompanied by an even more ghastly smell. I fought down the vomit burning my tonsils and stumbled out of the garage as fast as my linguine legs could carry me.
          “Well?” Monica Lyn, my best friend since preschool, asked.
          “That’s a real dead body all right.” I gave into gravity and melted down onto the driveway. The heat from the blacktop warmed by a late August sun seeped through my cotton capris but did little to soothe the post-horrific shock rattling my extremities.
          “Not a mannequin leftover from Halloween or something?” The tone in Monica Lyn’s voice bordered on a whiney panic.
          “Mannequin’s don’t smell. Nor ooze blood. Go call the police.”
          “No police.” Monica Lyn twisted her long dark hair into a bun on the back of her head, then released it, allowing it to cascade down over her shoulders. She did it again. And again. And again.
          A nervous sort of chuckle gurgled from my solar plexus. “Yes, police. Now.”
          Silence. “We can’t.”
          “Why not?”
          “They’ll think J.J. had something to do with it.”
          The J.J. to whom she referred was Joseph Jackson Hunter III, Monica Lyn’s soon-to-be-ex-husband. It was his garbage can we’d roped to the tow hitch on her F-150 and rolled the six blocks to her parent’s house, where she was temporarily living until the Family Court judge decided who got custody of her and J.J.’s McMansion on the hill.
          The plan had been to paw through J.J.’s discards in hopes of finding incriminating evidence regarding his illegal business dealings, which Monica Lyn had long suspected but never proved. This would then be hung over J.J.’s head in order to procure a more Monica Lyn-friendly divorce settlement. I didn’t consider it blackmail--that’s such an ugly word--but more like marital justice.
          “A dead body in his trashcan trumps an embezzlement scheme any day,” I explained to her.
          “J.J. couldn’t have done it. He passes out at the sight of blood.”
          “Then how do you explain the dead body?”
          “I can’t. Yet.”
          “I’m calling the police.” No sooner had I fished my i-phone from my pocket than Monica Lyn snatched it from my hands and tossed over the fence into Mrs. Gardener’s backyard. (For the record, the neighbor’s name wasn’t really Mrs. Gardener. My small, seaside hometown is big on nicknames and had bestowed the Gardener moniker upon her decades ago when she’d created a beautiful English Garden in the center of town square. That was the sum total of her gardening efforts, and long before I came around so I honestly don’t know her real name.)
           “Reality check," Monica Lyn said to me. “That hacked up body is in my garage, with our fingerprints on the trashcan handle. And look, you’ve got blood on your hands.”
          I looked down, and sure enough, my French Tips were splattered with red goo. I swiped my hand against the grass, but the evidence remained, pulsating like a Jackson Pollock version of The Telltale Heart. Not only did I look guilty, I was beginning to feel guilty.
          Monica Lyn started pacing like a high-strung thoroughbred before being loaded into the starting gate at the race track. “Nobody is going to believe us when we say we found it at J.J.’s house. They’ll think we killed him. Her. It. No, calling the police is Out. Of. The. Question.”
          When Monica Lyn resorted to a speaking style that punctuated after ever word, there was no room for rational counter arguments.
          I drew a deep breath of honeysuckle-scented air and let it out in a Lamaze-style breathing technique that had brought me little relief when I’d given birth to my only son twenty-one years ago. It didn’t help much in this situation, either. “What exactly do you have in mind?”
          She stopped pacing, punched her fists to her hips and said, “We can haul it up the street to Kitty Kline’s house.”
          Kitty Kline was our sworn archenemy. The reason: she’d sprouted breasts in 5th grade and they’d still been growing when we’d graduated from Rocky Shoals High School. The boys had all loved her. The girls had all hated her. And after all this time, apparently still did. “You haven’t gotten over that boyfriend stealing incident?” I joked. That had happened in 8th grade. Twice.
          “Not a boyfriend. A husband.”
          “You mean Kitty Kline’s the scrawny blonde crack ’ho...” My voice trailed off when a look of complete disgust washed over Monica Lyn’s face. I wished I could take back the mental image I’d planted in both of our heads. Monica Lyn had yet to find the strength to share all the sordid details of discovering J.J.’s cheating ways, but I knew it involved her early return from a city council meeting to find J.J. and the aforementioned SBCH (scrawny blonde crack ’ho) enjoying a game of Strip Billiards. A dead body delivered to Kitty Kline’s doorstep seemed a good first step on the road to healing. Plus, it would keep me from having to answer a lot of questions from the police. I took another swipe of my nails against the grass. “I’ll need a glass of wine first.”
          “I’ll need a bottle,” she said.
* * *
<<Be sure and check back next Monday when Sidney and Monica Lyn drag the dead body to Kitty Kline's house.>>

1 comment:

Ann Yost said...

Great start, Jayne - love the nicknames (Mrs. Gardener) and hard feelings leftover from high school - they NEVER change!