Monday, August 5, 2013

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

          This is the fifth installment of my serialized short mystery, “When We Were Middle Aged and Foolish.”  A new chapter will be posted every Monday for the next three weeks.  If you missed the first installments, click here to be taken to the page of what’s been posted so far.
          For those of you returning, a quick reminder when last we left our middle-aged amateur sleuths, Monica Lyn had a plan to exact revenge on her soon-to-be ex-husband. 

When We Were Middle Aged and Foolish
Installment Five of Eight

          “Calling Doctor Morgan. Doctor Morgan. You’re needed, stat.” J.J. waved his empty tumbler in the air in a sloppy drunk way.  
          As bartender for the evening’s festivities, I concocted another pitcher of Dr. Pepper and Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum (aka a Dr. Morgan), heavy on the rum, and poured another round. So far the plan seemed to be working well.
          We’d spent the last few hours sitting poolside, sipping the rum beverage and reliving the good old days of The Four Musketeers, which had consisted of me, Monica Lyn, J.J., and his younger-by-three-minutes twin brother, Scott. Last I heard Scott was serving a twenty-year sentence for running a methamphetamine lab in Cincinnati. And I’d come this close to marrying him.
          “This is better than my fourteenth birthday party,” Monica Lyn said, wiping tears of laughter from her eyes. We’d sure had some great times as kids.
          I poured another round. “Just promise me you won’t make me get another tattoo to commemorate the event.”
          Monica Lyn laughed so hard she fell out of her chair. J.J., ever the gentleman, helped her back up. I poured us all another round of Dr. Morgans.
          “You have a tattoo?” J.J. asked. “Do tell.”

         “Not just any tattoo. A misspelled one,” Monica Lyn said. “Only we didn’t realize it until the next morning when I looked at her ass.” Monica Lyn spoke through chortles and snorts. “Instead of ‘Wastin’ away again in Margaritaville,’ it says ‘Bastin’ away...’” She fell out of her chair again.
          “I don’t believe it,” J.J. said.
          I got up and tugged the waistband of my capris low enough so he could see the misspelled lyric, a forever reminder of when we’d been young and foolish. And drunk.
          “Your turn,” I said to J.J. once we’d all stopped laughing and got ourselves off the ground and back into our chairs.
          “Yeah,” Monica Lyn said. “True confessions time. Tell us one of your deepest darkest secrets.”
          He swirled his drink in his hand, the ice cubes clinking softly against the glass. “Have I ever told you about the night Kitty Kline was hacked to pieces?”
          I felt I’d been hit by lightening, the way my arm hairs snapped to attention at not only J.J.’s words, but the foreboding tone of his voice. I held my breath, waiting, afraid of what he’d say, but also strangely curious to hear the macabre tale.
          The sun had set hours before, leaving J.J.’s face cast in wavering lights from the pool. I watched him toss back the dregs of his tumbler then reach for Captain Morgan’s. Instead of pouring it into a glass, he drank straight from the bottle, glug, glug, glug, until every last drop was gone. He then drew his arm slowly across his mouth before staring into the darkness.
          We waited, listening to the sounds of silence.
          Three minutes later, J.J. closed his eyes, slid out of his chair and landed face down in the fescue. Despite numerous not so gentle pokes and prods, he wouldn’t budge.
          “Crap. How long before you think he wakes up?” Monica Lyn asked while prying open one of his eyelids and peering in.
          “Dunno. He drank a lot. Could be a few hours, could be a few days.”
          “But you heard him, didn’t you? He confessed to killing Kitty.”
          “You think the cops will take the word of two drunken women? Both of whom are prime suspects themselves?”
          “Good point,” Monica Lyn said. “One of us should have stayed sober.”
          “Us? Stay sober? Right.” I tossed back the dregs of my drink. “So now what?” I asked, hoping home to bed was the answer.
          Monica Lyn sat back in her chair and tapped her pointer finger against the enamel on her front tooth. I knew, having sat next to her for every test from third-grade spelling quizzes to high school Calc exams, finger tapping on a tooth meant she was deep in thought and shouldn’t be interrupted.
          “We need proof,” she said. “And I’ve got an idea. A wonderful, awful idea.” She sprang out of her chair, raced around the pool and disappeared into the house.
          I waited for her return, watching J.J. sleep and wondering what had motivated him to kill Kitty. Especially in such a brutal way. They say everyone has a point that they will take another person’s life, but rarely does one get pushed that far. What had been J.J.’s tipping point?
          Monica Lyn returned, wearing latex food preparation gloves and wielding a hacksaw and shovel. “Here, put these on,” she said, tossing a pair of gloves in my direction. The shovel followed, landing with a thud at my feet. “Now go dig a hole by the back fence.”
          “What are you doing?” I asked as I watched her bend over J.J.’s body, hacksaw in hand.
          “Putting his fingerprints on the saw that killed Kitty.”
          “OMG, you found the murder weapon?”
          “Nope. No bloody saws hanging in the garage, so we’re going to make this look like the murder weapon by covering it in J.J.’s prints then burying it in the backyard. Then we’ll call in an anonymous tip to the police. They’ll haul him in for questioning, and he’ll confess under the pressure of the intense interrogation.”
          “How do you know he’ll crack?”
          “He always fidgeted when Beckett put the screws to someone on Castle. He’ll crack faster than an egg dropped from a third-story window. I’ll bet my life on it.”
          I donned the gloves, picked up the shovel and headed off towards the back fence to dig a hole. No doubt about it, Monica Lyn’s had a criminal mind. I’m just glad I was on her side. 
* * *
<<Tune in next Monday to see if our two middle-aged amateur sleuths are successful in framing J.J. for murder...>>

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