The Pub Aftermath, Chapter 1
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
“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.
“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.
To continue reading
- The Pub Aftermath, Chapter 2
The seductive widow has some explaining to do at the Police Station. McGuiness makes a hot discovery and Constable Muldowney finds out something important from the son.
Questions & Answers
© 2019 Peg Cole