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After the Pub - Murder Mystery, Chapter 1

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Peggy Cole is a self-published author who enjoys writing fiction stories, book reviews and articles about simpler times.

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The body dangled from a ceiling beam on a rope of silk ties connected with neatly formed square knots. The wide, paisley ties ranged in colors progressing from pink at the beam, darker pinks in the center and ending in a deep shade of maroon around the neck. The body was dressed in a shimmering disco shirt with wide lapels opened three buttons down, black bell-bottom pants, Allen Edmonds hand-stitched loafers with tassels and no socks. One of the shoes, cast off in the end-of-life struggle, lay beneath the body.

“Nice ties,” Sergeant Smedley snickered. “I’ll bet he didn’t buy those at the dime store.” Smedley picked up the discarded shoe and turned it over in his hand. “This guy had expensive taste. These babies cost a couple of hundred bucks at least.” Detective McGuinness' growl wiped the smirk off his assistant’s face.

“Cut him down, Smedley.”

“Looks like he’ll miss the party,” Smedley muttered, dragging a chair under the victim. He climbed up, pulled a knife from his pocket, and neatly cut through the ties as high up as he could reach. The body fell to the floor with a thud and landed in a sitting position with the head tipped forward.

“Looks like he’s taking a nap,” Smedley observed hopping down. He motioned to the photographer, pointed to the body and made clicking noises.

“He’s ready for his close-up, Mr. DeMille.”

After photos of the corpse were done, Smedley loosened the noose enough to snip it in two at the back of the neck, then, dropped the makeshift rope into an evidence bag. Next, he slipped paper bags over the victim’s hands and secured them with tape.

“The Medical Examiner will do the rest,” McGuiness told the photographer, who continued clicking and contorting to cover every angle of the body and the room. The Coroner squinted as he came in from the bright sunlight.

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“Who’s the stiff?”

Smedley shrugged. “Some guy from the States.”

“Thanks for pointing out the obvious.” He bent down to examine the label on the victim’s shirt. Next to the corpse, his assistant laid out a black body bag.

“Does he have a Repat Policy?”

“A what?” Smedley said.

“It’s insurance,” the coroner said rolling his eyes. “It covers the cost to return the body to the States.”

“Don’t know,” he answered. “This is my first overseas investigation.”

“What’s to investigate?” The coroner pointed to the knot still dangling from the rafters. “Looks to me like he offed himself.”

“We’ll see about that,” McGuinness said, coming in for a closer look. The three men stood in a loose circle watching the assistant roll the corpse into the bag. The sound of the zipper closing echoed around the silent room.

“What’s his name?”

“Jason Flint,” McGuinness said. He read the ID from a wallet removed from the pants pocket.

“Tagged and bagged,” the assistant reported. The two men shifted the body onto a lowered gurney, snapped it upright, and rolled it outside to the waiting vehicle.

The hotel clerk tried to deflect any early morning calls to residents at the resort facility. No one on vacation was ever glad to be awakened before dawn. But the Chief of Police had insisted his call go through. Seconds later the persistent ringing woke Mrs. McGuiness, who glared across the bed at the phone, a familiar look of exasperation appearing on her puffy face.

“Why can’t they just leave us alone?” she groused. “It’s our last morning here.”

Larry McGuiness rolled over, took the phone from his wife and fumbled it to his good ear.

“Just one more day and it would’ve been the perfect vacation.” Their flight fly back to the states wasn’t until late in the afternoon.

“Yeah,” McGuiness said in a gravelly voice.

“Hate to interrupt your beauty sleep, but we have a case for you to wrap up over there.” The voice of the Chief of Police, his boss, brought him instantly awake.

“Honey, I’m sorry,” he whispered, hopping up to stand at attention beside the bed.

“It figures this is the way our vacation would end.” It was their first vacation in ten years and she understood her husband’s often unpredictable duty requirements.

She wrapped herself in the thick, luxurious bathrobe with the resort logo on the pocket and stormed into the bathroom and slammed the door. He could still hear her grumbling through the closed door.

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“Yes sir,” he said. “What’s up?” McGuiness’s voice sounded weak from the late night they’d spent in the lounge their last night on the island. He cleared his throat.

“You’re gonna’ love this one,” he said. His voice carried way too much enthusiasm for that hour of the morning.

“What’s involved?”

“It’s an open and shut case. The perfect end to your slack time.” The line crackled. McGuiness groaned in his head.

“A piece of Cake.” The Chief said that far too often. It was rarely true. Nothing in his line of work ever was.

“This isn’t even our jurisdiction.”

“Like I said, you’re already there. This little job will set me even with the Constable,” the Chief continued. “I don’t like owing people favors.”

McGuiness kept his mouth shut. He knew more than he liked about the Chief and favors.

“You’ll be back stateside in no time.”

According to the Chief, the Jamaican Constabulary Force had called for help from their American counterparts for two reasons: Their investigative unit was swamped with a barrage of homicides over the weekend. With three murders routinely committed per shift the JCF chalked up the suicide of an American as little consequence. But there were protocols and the Constable was required to follow them.

Far more pressing than a barrage of unexplained deaths of their own citizens, the delegation of dignitaries expected an exhibition of their new Constable Homicide Counter Terrorism Unit followed by a Parliamentarian Parade down Main street. This would tie up most of the JCF staff with demonstrations of field training prowess to seated men wearing fancy medals.

“We’ll let your highly skilled U.S. detectives handle the grunt work,” the Constable remarked to the Chief. He knew the Constable would probably claim their reports on the investigation as his own work and send the paperwork to the local Deputy Commissioner.

With one phone, call the Chief called an end to McGuiness’ vacation and sent his family home without him.

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McGuiness was the first of the Americans to arrive at the site. He pulled aside the room-darkening curtains spanning the east wall of the room and looked outside. Beyond the small yard was a spectacular view of the Atlantic Ocean. He watched sea oats sway lazily back and forth with the gentle ocean breeze. With a gloved hand, he flipped open the window latch and slid the window open. The breeze rushed in filling the room with the fragrance of jasmine and sea salt. It was a welcome dilution to the smell of death that lingered. He moved to the other side of the room and opened the glass doors that led to a balcony.

“Has anyone checked the grounds?” McGuiness asked looking down into the grass below.

“Two uniformed officers are out there now,” his second in command answered.

An archway led from the living room into the den where the victim’s widow sat on a leather couch hunched over with her head nearly in her lap. Scattered on the floor at her feet was a collection of used and crumpled tissues. She pressed a soggy tissue to her face, grimaced, and reached toward the empty tissue box on the coffee table. McGuiness pulled his handkerchief out of his pocket and held it out to her. He’d noticed a pile of shopping bags strewn in an untidy pile on his way into the room. She’d clearly been out most of the morning shopping. The bags brimmed with boxes of shoes, clothing and purses.

He sat on the edge of the coffee table in front of her and waited for her to talk.

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© 2019 Peg Cole

Comments

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on May 14, 2019:

Thank you, William. Nice to see you here today.

William Leverne Smith from Hollister, MO on May 13, 2019:

Great start for another exciting story. Thanks for sharing! ;-)

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on March 06, 2019:

Hi Lawrence, Thanks so much for coming by!

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on March 06, 2019:

Peg

This got off to a great start.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on March 03, 2019:

Jackie, Always glad to see you, whenever you come by. It's never too late. Thanks so much for finding this. Not sure why you didn't get an email notice.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on March 02, 2019:

Peg I am so sorry, I didn't have a clue you had written anything, not an email of any of these.

I can tell it is going to be so good and I will catch up as soon as I can. Love a good mystery!

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on February 28, 2019:

Thanks for dropping in and coming back to read Chapter 1, Linda. I'm hoping to turn it into another book.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on February 27, 2019:

This is an intriguing beginning to your story, Peg. I'm glad I've read the first chapter.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on February 23, 2019:

Thanks so much, Genna. I really appreciate you dropping by to check this out.

Wow, I love your new profile photo!

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on February 23, 2019:

Excellent beginning chapter, Peg! This one had me from the start. I look eagerly to the next chapter.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on February 10, 2019:

Thanks, William. Glad to see you here. Thanks for the empathy for poor McGuiness. No sleep for the weary.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on February 10, 2019:

Now, this is my kind of story, Peg. looking forward to reading the next installments. Poor McGuiness! What a way to end a vacation.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on February 01, 2019:

Thank you, Shauna, for reading The Pub and for checking out this first episode of the sequel. I'm hoping to turn this into another published book. Thanks for the encouragement.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on January 31, 2019:

Thanks so much, Pamela, and thanks again for your encouragement.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on January 31, 2019:

Flourish, hello and thanks for the encouraging words. So nice of you to drop by.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on January 31, 2019:

Peg, I read "The Pub" and am excited that you're doing a sequel. You're a very good writer. It only took me a day and a half to get through the prequel to this. It was definitely riveting reading.

Can't wait to read more of this one. I hope you plan on publishing "The Pub Aftermath" in book form.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on January 31, 2019:

Dearest Maria, You've always been such an enthusiastic supporter of my writing and for that I'm eternally grateful. Here again, you've given me a wisp of an idea about the widow in the story. Shopping for funeral attire! How could she have known? Only the shadow knows. Hee he.

Thanks so much! Hugs.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on January 31, 2019:

Hi Dora, Thanks for coming by. I may need to ask your help consulting on facts about the setting. I've been looking for your series on the Caribbean story. Can't seem to find it anymore. Hoping that you published it as a book.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on January 31, 2019:

Liz, thank you. What a nice comment. I appreciate your visit.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on January 31, 2019:

Hello Peggy, I like that word, grisly. Perhaps I watch too many TV murder mysteries. All the scenes are grisly.

I'm so grateful that you came by to check out this introduction into the sequel of The Pub, and again, thanks for all the support in the past.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on January 31, 2019:

This does sound like an very interesting mystery. I will be looking forward to chapter 2 in the near future.

FlourishAnyway from USA on January 31, 2019:

This is excellent, Peg. You're off to a terrific start, and I'm excited to see where this goes!

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on January 30, 2019:

You have hit the ground running in this (for me) long-awaited aftermath.

Your musical selections are soundtrack material - your writing has "big screen" all over it.

I wonder if the grieving widow has the perfect funeral outfit in those shopping bags... hmmm??

Keep up the compelling work! Love, Maria

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 30, 2019:

Sounds like the beginning of a fascinating whodunit. Good storytelling in setting the stage.

Liz Westwood from UK on January 30, 2019:

You write with great clarity. I can picture the scenes playing out before my eyes.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 30, 2019:

What a grisly scene you painted with your well-chosen words at the start of this mystery. Was it a suicide? Just knowing how you write, I'd be willing to bet that it was not. Looking forward to reading more.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on January 30, 2019:

Hi Bill, It's a work in progress. Putting a chapter or two out here seems to motivate me. Thanks for the encouragement.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 30, 2019:

A crackling good mystery...hopefully more will follow!

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on January 29, 2019:

Thank you, Prabhjot. I'm currently reading one of yours. Nicely written, the one about The Calling Well.

Prabhjot from Delhi, India on January 29, 2019:

It's an interesting story..... I loved the way you wrote, descriptive and mysterious

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on January 29, 2019:

Hi there V, The sullen seemingly seductive suddenly-single shopaholic widow holds many super secret clues yet to be revealed. So very grateful to you for visiting this sequel and for the wonderfully descriptive "grisly, gruesome, ghastly" reaction to the story so far!

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on January 29, 2019:

Hello Mckbirdbks, I'm so thrilled to see you made it over here first today. Wow. What an honor. Maybe I'll have to invite Quinn Moosebroker over to help out Detective Lt. McGuiness. Looks like it's right up his alley.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on January 29, 2019:

Well, well, well, what do we have here? A Peg Cole mystery! I am sitting on the edge of my chair.

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on January 29, 2019:

Wow! Peg! Wow! I'm excited to see this sequel. What a grisly, gruesome, ghastly opening. I appreciate your including some deliciously beautiful scenes as well. (And a great soundtrack). A dizzying blend of macabre detail, and plenty of clever character driven humor right off the top. Will be watching with interest to see where this goes. Congratulations on a new project!

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