Murder for writers

Consider this:

Every story has a Beginning, a Middle and an End. Every mystery has an Investigator, a Killer and a Victim. Three points of view. Without one, the story is incomplete.

For a Mystery, the story does not come in that order. The murder is the End of the Story for the Victim, the Middle of the Story for the Killer, and the Beginning of the Story for the Investigator.

Someone somewhere finds a dead body. Half of the Police Department shows up, giving the Scene of the Crime a very thorough once over. It’s the darndest thing. It looks like the Victim had a comb and a large hair brush. But the Victim was bald. Turns out that the corpus delicti was not the owner of the apartment.

So the cops do what cops always do? They go in search of back story. They ask questions. Why was said Victim spreadeagled on the bed and pumped full of chicken feathers? Just whose apartment was this anyway? And that question that always comes up when there’s a dead body: “Did So-and-so have any enemies?

So what do the cops do now? It’s as the Carpenters used to sing, ‘It’s only just begun.” They keep asking questions.

The Victim had friends. They had a mom and a dad. They had co-workers and business associates. They had a wife or a husband. And they are all saying the same darned thing, “Everybody loved him. He was the gentlest of souls.”

It’s enough for the police to say, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.” Of course, the corpse had enemies. And more than likely it’s going to be someone who had a grudge against So-and-so for years.

Perhaps the deceased man stole the Killer’s homework in the sixth grade. She’s been carrying a grudge for years. That F she received from the male teacher for the missing homework ruined her life. The police won’t know this until they bring in a therapist to tell them. The therapist will discover that the murderer has a deep psychological grudge against men. That incident forced her to never trust a man again.

Recently the Killer worked for an online website that provides research papers to students to turn in as homework. One of those assignments had triggered her unconscious obsession to get even with the victim.

And the Killer will spend the rest of the story trying to send the police on a wild goose chase of misdirection.

That homework theft led the Victim to a lifetime of cheating. Cheating on his taxes. Cheating on his wife. Cheating his business associates and embezzling  money from the business. By the time the cops get through, the Victim won’t have a friend in the world. And it’s possible that the Killer will get off scot-free. Unless.

Or the Killer may have been traumatized by the simplest of things. Like not getting that cookie her mother promised. Or not receiving a valentine from her sweetie. Or it could be something much more traumatic.

So what was the Victim doing, sleeping in somebody else’s apartment? He was staying at an AirBnb while his house was being tented for termites. The owner of the apartment was off in Spain, playing footsey with the Victim’s wife. And the murder was a case of mistaken identity. The Killer thought the Victim was the owner of the apartment.

It only goes to show you there may not be any justice by the end of the story. There may only be a crime solved.

Near 500 words: TW and the three phases of his life

Episode 17 of The Writer.

TW (aka The Writer) divided his life into three phases: Before Cat, With Cat, After Cat. After Cat began when the vet, Dr. Helen Hatch, sat down beside him in the waiting room of the vet hospital.

Helen reached over and took TW’s hand, then she softly said, “I’m sorry.”

A pain shot through his body. He knew her next words. “Cat is dead.”

TW couldn’t breath. He passed out.

He woke up to see Helen kneeling over him, smelling salts in her hand. Her eyes had concern in them.

“Lorenzo, he’s awake. Help me get him off the floor.”

A tall Hispanic man reached down and lifted TW up and into a chair.

“Are you okay?” Helen asked.

TW nodded his head.

Helen nodded to Lorenzo that she’d take care of things. Lorenzo went back to the receptionist’s desk.

Helen knelt before TW. “I know how much you loved Cat, and how much Cat loved you. I am so sorry.”

Then she took her seat beside him. She rubbed his arm with her hand, trying her best to comfort him. “When you brought her in, I thought we might be able to do something. She’d already lost way too much blood.”

TW nodded his head, letting her know he understood.

“What happened?”

“I don’t know. I got home. The door was unlocked. Cat had left the house. She wouldn’t do that. Even if the door was wide open, she’d have stayed inside.”

Helen let go of his arm and leaned back in her chair.

“I don’t know,” he said, “what would have made her leave the house.”

“Has anything happened recently to make Cat think the house was unsafe?”

“No. I don’t think so.”

“Was she in any kind of danger that you know of?”

“No. Not that I know of.”

The hospital was quiet, except for two dogs barking in the background. TW and the vet sat side by side, looking at the back space of a wall across from them.

After five minutes or so, Helen broke the silence. “I’m sorry I misled you. I thought you understood we were just friends.”

“It was me, not you. I fooled myself.”

“How have you been?”

“The usual. The library keeps me busy. And Cat, of course.”

Then it hit him again. There was no more Cat. He swallowed hard.

“Do you need some water?”

“Yes, please.”

Helen stood up and went over to the water cooler and filled a paper cup with water. She handed the cup to TW, then sat back down beside him. The water went down cold and cleared his throat.

Recovered, he remembered what he had heard about Helen. “I heard you lost your baby?”

“About a year ago.”

“Are you okay?”

“Frank didn’t take it well. It was a boy. We have two girls, and he was so hoping. He fell apart. Now we’re getting a divorce.”

TW saw the tears running down her cheeks. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a handkerchief and handed it to her.

The room was quiet again.

Helen wiped the tears from her face, then passed the handkerchief back to him. Her face went back to vet’s face.

“There’s more to Cat’s death. Where Cat was bleeding, there was a small wound. Cat was sliced by a razor blade.”

Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: Is Elvis Alive?

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “Lonely Street” (2009).

Just to prove that Uncle Bardie will pull out all the stops for his followers, he stayed up late a lot of nights to discover this one. He chanced upon a “Lonely Street” on You Tube. It sure wasn’t one Uncle Bardie knew about. You probably never heard of it either.

Adapted from Steve Brewer’s first Bubba Mabry mystery, “Lonely Street” is R-Rated and a bit raunchy from time to time. But it never takes itself serious. The movie was made for $2,000,000. That’s not low budget. That’s cheap. If you’re looking for a waste of time that’s a lot of fun, this low bud is for you. The movie may have cost a pittance, but the dialogue in “A Million and One Ways to Die in the West” was never this funny. And that one cost $40,000,000 to make. Let’s see. That’s $40,000,000 per joke.

Jay Mohr, the working man’s Ryan Reynolds, gives an Oscar-winning performance as Bubba, the movie’s hero. Not. Bubba is a private eye with no cases. Almost. Then a big man name of J.G. shows up at his motel room. He offers our hero a security job for a nameless celebrity. He’s not naming the celebrity, and I am not either. But do the words “The King” ring a bell.

Remember T1000 in “Terminator 2”. That was Robert Patrick and now he is “The King” in “Lonely Street”. He introduces himself, “I’m everywhere and anywhere at the same time.” In other words, he’s one heck of an alchemist or he is “The King of Rock’n’roll”. I’ll bet it’s the second one.

Bubba takes the case Mr. Aaron, “The King”, offers and he finds a jacket in his closet as an advance on his thirty dollars an hour. It’s not a Cadillac but it will do for the time being. Just to show us the kind of guy he is, upon encountering Hot Fried Okra, he comments, “Women show up all the time in my cases. Only she had her teeth and she spoke English.” In other words, Bubba is as low budget as this movie. She catches him trying to take a looksee at the log in the motel where he’s come to spy on the man Mr. Aaron wants him to tail.

He spies a slinkily dressed woman enter his man’s motel room. Just to put the nail into that coffin, he goes on to say, “I never wanted to be a sleaze bag with a made up name more than right now.” This movie has more motel rooms than Elvis had Cadillacs.

Bubba meets “The King”, knocking golf balls on a driving range. He reports his findings. They start discussing how dead The King’s supposed to be. Then Elvis smiles and brags, “They put me on a stamp.” Bubba can’t resist. He adds some wise acre, “Thirty years later they’re still licking your hiney.”

The guy he spied on back at the motel was Hank the Tank. Bubba catches the Tank sneaking out of a building with a CD he stole from Finkelman Entertainment.

Bubba sneaks back into Hank the Tank’s motel room. The Tank is a celebrity snoop. Bubba discovers that he is about to out the dead celebrity. To tell the world that the King is vertical and breathing. The Tank enters his motel room and Bubba does the only thing a decent pee eye can do. He hides under the bed. Suddenly the Tank is dead. In a motel room of all places.

The cops take Bubba downtown and brow beat him with “Who’s your client?” Bubba ain’t telling, though the lieutenant brow beats him a lot. Finally they let this “two bit gumshoe who’s never handled a case, never been in the local papers” go.

The Tank’s boss, Felicia Q, shows up in Bubba’s motel room which also serves as his office. She gives him her business card. I never knew how funny business card humor could be. He doesn’t have a business card but he makes sure she remembers him. “That’s Bub-ba. Three B’s, one U and an A.” Needless to say, he wants to make an impression.

It is beginning to look as if Mr. Aaron’s man, J. G., has set Bubba up for a fall. And for the Tank’s murder too. But Bubba is not going to go down easy. He checks with one of his cohorts, a rat named Rodent. Rodent had been watching the Tank’s room for Bubba. When he asks Rodent if anybody went in or left the motel room, Rodent answers, “Everybody went in and out of that room. It looked like a Cinco de Mayo parade.”

Next thing you know Bubba is messing where he shouldn’t be messing. He’s following the Finkelman the building is named after. Talk about sleaze Joe Montegna plays Finkelman full throttle sleaze. Finkelman meets up with J. G. Now if you’re snooping on a conversation between anybody and J.G., you don’t want J.G. to find out. J.G. finds out and hits Bubba over the head. As Bubba puts it, “I wish he’d knocked me unconscious ’cause that really hurt.”

Next thing you know Felicia Q is making a second appearance. She drives up and trouble starts heating up.

So what are the bad guys after? A demo. Do they get it? I ain’t telling. That would be a spoiler.

On top of an outrageous plot and funny dialogue, what else does this movie offer? A pretty good soundtrack. And the King do sing. So take a listen to “When the Rebel Comes Home”, then see the movie. It will make for a very low budget date.

 

Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: I see Live People

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “The Sixth Sense”.

I See Live People. It’s a gift I have. Seems like I have had it always.

I first realized I had this gift when I was a baby. It made me want to cry. I didn’t cry. There were way too many other things to cry about. Like my dirty nappy, that pacifier I couldn’t reach, or my three a.m. feeding. I didn’t want to wear out my welcome so early so I didn’t cry. But those big heads, I mean they were enormous. They looked down at me with those big, enormous huge heads.

They spoke another language. If I had been a Pentecostal, I might have thought they were speaking in tongues. I mean, how do you translate this? Goo-goo ga-ga-gaa. I still haven’t figured that out. All I know is that these big headed aliens from another planet had invaded Babyworld and they were very scary.

In a moment of baby brilliance, the idea hit me. These were Live People. If I smiled and giggled, they would make nice and give me anything I wanted.

As a kid, I played hide ‘n’ go seek with my friends. I was so good at finding Live People my friends never let me be the seeker. It’s cause I see Live People.

It’s like that now as an adult. No one will play with me. I am very good at Trivial Pursuit and Jeopardy. If you play Risk with me, you are taking a real chance. It isn’t my fault I always win. You see, I see Live People.

There are times I wish I could turn the gift off. Like Commander Deanna Troi, I don’t always have that choice. It was tough to be a Betazoid just like it is tough to be a human who can see Live People.

Sometimes it’s downright embarrassing. Those are times these people are making downright fools of themselves. As Forrest Gump’s Mama used to say, “Stupid is as stupid does.” ‘Cause I see Live People.

There are the times they can be so-o-o annoying. I am sitting at a red light. It turns green. The person behind me starts hooking his horn. You’d think these Live People would have more patience. But they are alive. And I see them.

There are the nice times too. Couples walking hand-in-hand in the park. The look on Victor Espinoza’s face after he rode American Pharaoh to his Triple Crown win. A man walking his dog and kneeling to give the dog a hug. The sound of a kid’s voice when she tells her mom she got an A in school. I love it then when I see Live People.

It sounds like I am complaining. I am not. I am simply sharing something I have wanted to share for a long time. You see, I see Live People.

Do you see Live People?

Short Story Wednesday: The Blue-Haired Boys

Short Story Prompt: “The Red-Headed League” by Arthur Conan Doyle

I sat in the apartment of Mr. Shyrlick Homes, watching the Great Detective admire himself. How did I know he was the Great Detective? He had business cards printed to prove it. As a reminder to me, he showed me his card every time I came to visit him in his boudoir.

I know the word “boudoir” applies to a woman’s private quarters. Unfortunately Homes insisted on calling his apartment his boudoir. When I objected, he said, “Tut, tut, tut. Now, D. R., one mustn’t abuse the language, you know. The word for my quarters is boudoir.”

Why did he call me D. R.? you ask. That too was a misunderstanding I had given up correcting. I have on my card “Dr. Henry Wotsun”. He mistook the Dr. for D. R.

“My dear fellow,” I would retort, “I think not. I think the OED is quite clear on the definition of the word ‘boudoir’.”

“I have taken up the matter with the Word Committee at OED. They assured me they will make the correction with the next edition. Until then, old chap, you will have to take my word for it, will you not?”

“Of course,” I answered, resigned to the absurdity.

Why did I choose to join Mr. Homes in his “boudoir”? It was a good way to while away the afternoon. I needed entertainment after a long morning of patient after patient wanting their buns tucked, their breasts syliconized, their lips botoxed. One more pouty mouth and I swear. Well, you get the photograph.

So there I was, observing Homes admire himself in the mirror for a good fifteen minutes. It was such amusement to watch him stroke his chin and make faces, then turn to his left side and give his face the eye. Then it was to the right and more eye. Finally it was a full face. He turned to me and asked, “I need your professional opinion on my appearance.” I am a plastic surgeon so I do have a certain expertise in these matters.

“Yes.” I knew that I should tred lightly in supplying an opinion on such a delicate matter as Mr. Homes’ face.

“I am thinking of having my hair dyed. What say you, old fellow?”

I was flabbergasted. “You have such a marvelous head of black hair. Why would you want to do such a villainous act?”

“I want to die my hair blue. What say you, old chap?”

“This is madness.”

“Will you do it?” he pressed.

There was no convincing my friend once he had set his mind on a thing. What choice did I have? “Yes, I will.”

Homes grabbed me and hugged me and raised me in the air, then spinning the two us. Finally his enthusiasm exhausted itself and he dropped the two of us to the floor.

“I will,” I said, “if you will share with me the reason.”

He looked at me with a deadly seriousness. “I am joining The Blue-Haired Boys.”

“The Blue-Haired Boys? No, Homes, you can’t. I won’t have it.”

“You have no choice.”

He was right. I had no choice.

“Why?” I asked. The Blue-Haired Boys were the most dangerous gang of thugs in London.

“I have been invited to join. I will have you know. And join I shall.”

“But why would you want to join that gang of thugs?” Every crime in the city of London since The Great War could one way or another be traced to the Blue-Haired Boys. That was what the newspapers said. That was what the police said.

“Now, now, now,” Homes said. “Their reputation is simply a matter of bad public relations. Which I shall rectify once I am a member in good standing.”

Finally I agreed to the dying of Homes’ beautiful hair. I gave him the full body treatment. Not one hair on his chinny-chin-chin would be another color. All the while thinking that once you’re true blue, you cannot return to your former tincture.

Several days later I visited Homes in his “boudoir”. Once again, he stood before the mirror. Once again he admired himself quite extensively.

Finally, he said to me in his cheerful way, “Well, D. R., I am off to the races. The game is indeed afoot.”

“What are you up to, Homes?” I was becoming concerned that my friend might be getting into deep water. I am speaking metaphorically here, of course. What I meant was that he might be getting in over his head.

“The Blue-Haired Boys have accepted me as one of them. I am indeed True Blue, as we say in the trade.”

“So what dastardly path are you about to set out upon?”

“I am bound and determined to show the world what nice fellows my new comrades-in-arms are. And I shall do this one alone.”

In the past, I had accompanied Mr. Shyrlick Homes on each and every investigation. I was actually the detective, solving the crimes he received credit for. I liked it that way. It kept me in the shadows in the public’s mind and gave me a certain ability to move about unchallenged. But now Homes had decided to do this one alone. His very life could be in danger. With this in mind, I followed my friend.

He walked to the waterfront and to a certain ship whose name shall be nameless. No use accusing a ship when it may very well be totally innocent. It was the Blue-Haired Boys headquarters. For many months, I suspected it. Now I had proof. Mr. Shyrlick Homes was taking his blue hair there.

I left the shadows and rushed to the nearest telephone. It was in a pub called the Rotten Smelling Egg. It was a smelly place if ever there was one.

Sergeant Roughed answered the line, “Scotland Yard at your service.”

“This is Wotsun,” I said to the Cop Shop. ” Dr. Henry Wotsun. Give me the Top Cop.”

“Wotsun, sir?”

“It is indeed.”

“And you say you want the Top Cop in the Cop Shop?” As you can see the sergeant was not the brightest bulb in the room. No wonder the Blue-Haired Boys had escaped so many times before. But not this time. I had them and I was not about to let them escape. Besides Homes might be in a bit of the way. His very life could be in danger.

“I do indeed want the Top Cop in the Cop Shop. And get on it chop-chop,” I said amazed at the slowness of the man’s brain.

“Did I hear you correctly, sir? Did you say that you were about to chop the Top Cop in the Cop Shop? That’s illegal, you know, sir. I will have to report you to my superiors.”

“Look, Pop, hop to it. Chop chop. Get the Top Cop in Cop Shop. And don’t slop, please.” My nerves were beginning to fray. What could I do to convince this dodo bird that my call was serious.

“Well, sir, if you insist,” the other end of the line said.

I looked at my watch. It said fifteen minutes till seven. Soon it would be six forty-five and the Blue-Haired Boys would be getting away.

The other end of the phone finally said, “Detective Scheister. May I help you.”

I related my story. Before you know, a battalion of London bobbies had arrived and arrested the world famous criminal, Blue Berry Pi, and his gang of Blue-Haired Boys.

And, of course, Mr. Shyrlick Homes got all the credit. But that is the way I want it. It is the way of we Incognitos.