The Pub Aftermath, Chapter 1

Updated on February 10, 2019
PegCole17 profile image

Peg Cole is a self-published author who writes stories, book reviews, interviews and how-to articles.


The Tropics

They found the body dangling from a chain of neckties wrapped around the beams of the vaulted ceiling. The makeshift rope, a succession of pastel colors ended in a deep shade of maroon around the neck of the corpse. Someone had joined the designer silk ties in perfectly formed square knots, each identical in shape. The corpse was dressed in a crisply starched cotton shirt, dress slacks and gleaming Gucci loafers. One of the shoes, cast off in the violent end-of-life struggle, lay below the body. Other than the mottled splotches on the bloated face, the deceased looked ready for a business meeting he’d never attend.

“Nice ties,” the sergeant said. “You don’t get those at the Dollar Store.” His attempt at humor was cut short by the gruff voice of Detective McGuinness.

“We’re through here,” the lead investigator said. “Cut him down,” Smedley dragged a chair over to the center of the room and climbed up on it. He pulled a razor sharp knife from his pocket and snapped it open with one hand slicing neatly through the ties as far up as he could reach. The body fell to the floor with a flat thud, the torso landing upright in a bizarre parody of sitting. The head fell forward onto the chest obscuring the face.

“Looks like he’s taking a nap,” Smedley said. He stepped down and motioned to another team member who’d been snapping photos of the room. Smedley bagged the victim’s hands while the photographer took close-ups of a clear pattern of bruising on the neck of the deceased.

“The Medical Examiner will do the rest,” McGuiness told the guy with the camera. He moved off to take more shots of the room from every angle. Smedley loosened the makeshift rope from around the neck and leaving the knot intact, he dropped it into an evidence bag just as the coroner walked in.

Sharp Dressed Man

Tagged and Bagged

“Who’s the stiff?” he asked.

Smedley shrugged and said, “Some guy from the States."

“Thanks for pointing out the obvious,” he chuckled. He looked around, his focus settling on the body. Behind the Coroner was an assistant who laid out a black body bag next to the corpse.

“Does he have a Repat Policy?”

“A what?” Smedley asked.

“It's insurance," he said rolling his eyes. "It covers the cost to return the body to the States.”

“Oh, good question.” Smedley shrugged. “This is my first overseas investigation.”

“What’s to investigate?” The coroner pointed up at the remains of the tie dangling from the rafters. “Looks to me like he offed himself.”

“We’ll see about that,” Smedley said as McGuinness came in for a closer look. They stood around the body in a loose circle as the assistant worked on rolling the body into the waiting bag before zipping it closed.

“Tagged and bagged,” he reported as he lifted the bag onto a lowered gurney. The two medical examiners snapped it upright, clicked off the brake and rolled the gurney outside to the waiting vehicle.

Tie A Yellow Ribbon

The Party's Over

The hotel clerk had tried to deflect the pre-dawn phone call to the guest’s room. Residents of the resort facility were generally not pleased to be awakened that early. But the Chief of Police had insisted. A couple of seconds later the phone was ringing in the room where the McGuiness family slept.

His wife glared across the bed, a familiar look of exasperation appearing on her puffy face as Larry McGuiness rolled over and fumbled the receiver to his ear.

“Why can’t they just leave us alone?” she grumbled. “It’s our last morning here.” She threw off the bedcovers and continued muttering. “Just one more day and it would’ve been the perfect vacation.” They were scheduled to fly back to the states late that afternoon.

“Yeah,” McGuiness answered in a voice gravelly with sleep.

“We have a little case for you to wrap up at the end of your slack time,” the caller said. The booming voice of the Chief of Police brought him wide awake.

“Honey, I’m sorry,” he whispered, hand over the mouthpiece. He hopped out of bed and stood at attention.

“Figures this would be the way our first vacation in years would end.” Mrs. McGuiness had years of experience with her husband’s unpredictable duty requirements. She crawled out of the bed and wrapped up in the heavy bathrobe with the Montego Bay Resort logo on the pocket. A quick yank on the belt and she stomped off toward the bathroom. He heard the door slam.

He Stopped Loving Her Today

Grunt Work

“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 with way too much enthusiasm for that hour of the morning.

“What’s involved?”

“It’s an open and shut case.” The phone line crackled as McGuiness groaned inwardly. “Piece of Cake.” The Chief said that far too often and it was rarely true. Nothing in his line of work ever was.

“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 said nothing.

“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 previous weekend. With three murders routinely committed per shift the JCF chalked up the suicide of an American as of 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, a delegation of dignitaries was expected for an exhibition of their new Constable Homicide Counter terrorism training followed by a Parliamentarian Parade down Main street. This would tie up most of their staff with demonstrations of field training tactics and other hoopla.

“We’ll let your highly skilled U.S. detectives handle the grunt work,” the Constable had told the Chief who knew the Constable would probably write off their reports as his own work and send the paperwork to the local Deputy Commissioner. With an American Detective already in Montego Bay, the stateside Chief called an end to his mostly finished vacation and sent his family home without him.


The Grieving Widow

McGuiness was among 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 to 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 down on the coffee table facing her and waited.


© 2019 Peg Cole


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    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      6 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

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

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 

      6 months ago from Hollister, MO

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

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      8 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Hi Lawrence, Thanks so much for coming by!

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      8 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      This got off to a great start.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      8 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      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 profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      8 months ago from The Beautiful South

      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!

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      8 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

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

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      8 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

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

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      8 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

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

      Wow, I love your new profile photo!

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      8 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

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

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      9 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

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

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      9 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

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

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      9 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      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.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      9 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

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

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      9 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

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

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      9 months ago from Central Florida

      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.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      9 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      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.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      9 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      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.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      9 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

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

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      9 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      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.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      9 months ago from Sunny Florida

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      9 months ago from USA

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

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      9 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

      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

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      9 months ago from The Caribbean

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

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      9 months ago from UK

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

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      9 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      9 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

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

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

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

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      9 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

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

    • Prabhjot Saini profile image


      9 months ago from Delhi, India

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

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      9 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      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!

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      9 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      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 profile image


      9 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

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

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      9 months ago from Canada

      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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