Grounds for Suspicion
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~Hearts in Spades
~Scenes From a Murder, scene i
~A Matter of Morals
~Café Au Lait
~Scenes From a Murder, scene ii
~Scenes From a Murder, scene ii
~The Blue Heron
~Loose Money and Change
~Scenes From a Murder, scene iv
~Dying to Write
~Scenes From a Murder, scenes v and vi
~Scenes From a Murder, scene vii
~It’s All In How You Look At It
~A Little ‘Sugar’ Could Cover It Up
~Scenes From a Murder, scene viii
by Glenda MillsThe woman did not stir when he entered the room. For a moment, he thought he might be too late, but then he saw the cotton blanket rise and fall slightly. Carefully, he unpacked his stole, kissed it, and placed it around his neck. He put the bottle of holy oil on the table beside the bed. The good sisters had already placed a crucifix, two lit candles, a bottle of holy water and a spoon on the table in preparation for the final sacrament. Since it was obvious there would be no confession to hear, Father William took the holy water and sprinkled it on the woman. He used a spoon to gently place a small piece of host on her tongue, and laid his hands on her head in silence. Putting oil on his thumb, he anointed her forehead and hands.
“Daughter of God, through this holy anointing may the Lord in His love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up.”
He actually smiled as he began to put his things away. This hull would soon be reunited with her essence, and in that reunion she would find her voice, a voice more beautiful than any she could have known before. Death for her and for so many in this God-forsaken place was the only chance they had for life, untormented, free and eternal.
“Father, forgive me, for I have sinned.”
Her voice was low and raspy, barely more than a whisper, but it echoed in the silence of that small room like distant thunder on a sultry summer evening. Father William turned around on unsteady legs, trying not to spill the holy oil in his trembling hands. The woman hadn’t moved. Her eyes were closed, her face toward the ceiling.
A Matter of Morals
Inside a tiny jail cell Matt Loyde lay face upward on the complimentary steel cot, hands cupped behind his head. His attention was on a roach crossing the ceiling. The very icon of filth, he thought to himself, just like she was, just like they all are. Whore, roach…what’s the difference? Oh yes, Mom always preached, Whores are blemishes on the face of the earth. After all, according to her one had lured Pop away. I remember when she caught me with a girlie magazine. She recited The Ten Commandments while she sliced a cross in the palm of my hand with a razor blade over the bathroom sink. Said she was castin’ out the demons. What was I…ten, eleven years old maybe. Still have a faint scar. He surveyed the compact cell walls. Spent many a day and night locked in a smaller room than this cell. The closet in the basement was Mom’s favorite for punishment. That damp, dirty place where I was to repent and think about my sins. What light there was filtered through the louvered door. Saw a lot of you big ugly brown bastards down there.
Levitz nodded and mumbled around a mouthful of sandwich: “Aside from the shreds of one of those fancy corset-things the lab guys already bagged up, the Coroner gave me a quick take. Female, mid twenties to mid thirties. No readily apparent cause of death, but that’ll change soon as they get her the rest of the way dug out. The body was found when they were breakin’ up the cement floor of the old coffeehouse. Lucky the demolition crew were using jackhammers; if it had been bulldozers, there probably wouldn’t be much crime scene left. Been in the ground at least ten years–I’m wagering more like eighty, myself. Get a load of the pretty that was pinned to the corset.” With that pronouncement, he tossed me a stack of instant Polaroids of the crime scene.
I examined the pictures while I sampled the soup. The soup was as good as advertised but the photos showed both a close-up of a Victorian- looking brooch and that Levitz wasn’t as all-knowing as he liked to appear. I tossed the stack back onto the table stating: “1928.”
Levitz choked and clapped a hand over his mouth to catch a spray of masticated sourdough. He swallowed hard and rasped: “Jee-zuz, Powell. You know the date of her death just by looking at a pin? What kind of voodoo do they teach you guys at Quantico?”
It was my turn to smile as I returned: “Not her date of death, she hasn’t been dead near that long. 1928 is the company that made the brooch.”
The Blue Heron
Sue was the only employee in the small-town Post Office, and so was obliged– required by government bureaucracy as well–to shut down at noon every day in order to have lunch. Since she’d rather walk than eat, here they were, all but jogging down the country road, following the creek. Two miles was all they had time (or energy) for, both of them almost 50.
Again they remarked on the news the night before, how some guy had got into a high-speed chase over a few traffic violations, and ended up shooting one of the policemen.
“His whole life, down the tubes for nuthin’,” Sue commented, wagging her head over the stupidity of it.
“Um,” Lisa agreed. “His family, his job– pretty expensive panic attack– Not to mention the poor policeman’s family. Guy like that; wonder if they’ll go with a psychiatric evaluation.”
“Haven’t caught him yet,” Sue puffed, tennies plopping along, arms pumping to get the full range of cardiovascular stimulation.
Loose Money and Change
Robert Stiner took the heavy brown suitcase from his Jaguar. Making quite sure the car doors were locked, nervously looking over his shoulder, he briskly walked to the Cuppa Joe Coffee House.
After his eyes adjusted to the dim light, he spotted a booth by a front window, went to it and sat down. He could see his car from there. The neighborhood was bad; he was afraid his car would be stolen and today, of all days, the automobile was important.
Placing the suitcase between him and the wall, he scanned the room. Six loud-mouths sat at two tables pulled together. A short bald-headed man worked behind the counter and a younger hippie-type guy with a ponytail and an earring carried a tray of coffee and sandwiches to the unruly group.
Robert glanced out the window — his car was still there. He looked at his watch: three o’clock — forty-five minutes to go.
Dying to Write
It usually isn’t this bad, Zake Williams thought, replacing the black cloth shrouding the body found in the alley behind the coffeehouse. My guess is, the murderer was mighty pissed about something…I mean, this guy’s dead six ways to Sunday. It appears he’s been shot, stabbed, poisoned, garroted, mutilated, bludgeoned and suffocated. I’d say, someone wanted him dead in the worst way.
Life’s too short for bad coffee, especially when our country’s anthem is now: One nation, with liberty, large fries, and a coffee to go! Plus, the only exercise most of us get is; Javacise, you know, that burst of motion after spilling coffee in someone’s lap, and the only REAL flying saucer is when the plate that was supposed to be under the cup goes flying across the room as a result. If we are not Javacising, then we try to exercise by pushing our luck. Frank took it like a man and blamed it on his wife’s fowl luck.
“Have a nice day!”
“No thanks. I have other plans.”
It’s All In How You Look At It
We are all murderers, you know.
It all began with my Aunt Rilda, when she was a teenager….
She stepped into the coffee shop, cool in a white linen suit, a silver lamé clutch purse tucked under her arm. She paused just inside the door, crossed the room and slid into a booth.
The waiter, a slim young man dressed in casual chic, approached.
“What’ll it be?”
“Cappuccino.” She smiled suddenly, touched each end of the table, and said, “Put up a whole row of them, starting here and ending here.”
The waiter smiled back and said, “We will begin with one.”
Alone again, she fished smoking gear from her purse and lit a cigarette. The air in the coffee shop was already faintly blue with secondhand smoke — there seemed something almost wholesome about pulling in a lungful of good, clean, fresh poison.
She squinted, releasing her smoke as if it were a mouthful of bitter words, and twitched her upper lip. Just like Humphrey Bogart.