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Aftermath to the Pub Murder Mystery, Ch.2

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

Paradise Lost

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The Grieving Widow

“I’m sorry for your loss,” McGuinness said when the widow finally looked up. His comment brought about a fresh round of sobbing. When it slowed, she blew her nose with the borrowed handkerchief. McGuiness made a mental note not to bring the lipstick-smeared hanky home to his wife.

“I realize this is a difficult time for you and truly apologize for having to ask you questions right now, Mrs. Flint.”

“Please,” she said glancing up through dark lashes, “call me Melissa.” Her voice was husky from crying, yet it remained the sort of voice that weakened men’s knees.

“I’m still not used to being called Missus,” she said with a seductive smile. The picture of youth, vibrant and well-endowed, he guessed her as mid-to-late twenties. His eyes drifted to her blouse that pulsed in and out with each breath, the bronze tan that, no doubt, extended beneath the deep neckline of the semi-transparent fabric. He wondered what could have drawn this stunning woman to the overweight, middle-aged man whose life had so abruptly ended in the next room. He waited a few seconds before posing his first question.

“Mrs. Flint,” he paused, “um sorry, Melissa, can you describe how you found your husband when you arrived home?” She glanced up toward the rafters, her body quivering at the memory.

“Well, you know, he was just dangling there,” she answered, tears filling her vibrant blue eyes. He followed her upward gaze, before sweeping the rest of the room. Original oil paintings lined the west wall, each lit by its own spotlight above the gilt frame. He recognized at least one of the artists. On the wall to the left of the fireplace was a life-sized portrait of Melissa in a sequined evening gown. It reminded him of the fashion magazines his wife enjoyed reading. Above the elbow-length white gloves were gold diamond-studded arm bands. Outside the glove on her left hand, she wore a huge diamond engagement ring, its sparkle illuminated by the spotlight.

He glanced at her hands. She wasn’t wearing the ring today. Not even a wedding band.

His focus shifted to the vast stone-framed hearth where a fire smoldered.

“Kind of warm for a fire, isn’t it?” The tropical climate rendered a fire impractical most days of the year. “Certainly not needed on a warm summer day like this.”

“Our maid always sets the logs first thing each morning. We like to have coffee in this room with a fire going. Kind of sets the mood, you know?” she said with a seductive smile.

“What time does the maid normally arrive?” The anonymous call about the deceased came early in the morning.

“I don’t really know. She prides herself on being unobtrusive.” She began to pick at her fingernails before quickly returning her hands to her lap.

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“What did you do when you first came home?”

“I came in the back door,” she began, “carrying packages in.” She looked at the ceiling as if reading from the wood. He caught a whiff of alcohol on her breath as she spoke.

“I called his name from the kitchen.” She looked at her hands. “I needed some help with the groceries, you know.”

“Then, what happened?”

“When he didn’t answer, I put the bags down and came in here. And . . . that’s when I saw him… hanging there, lifeless.” Her words brought a fresh onslaught of sobs. “I could tell he was already dead.”

“How?”

“By the color of his face. It was horrible,” she said, wincing.

The detective scribbled notes on a small tablet.

“Have you seen a dead person before?”

“No, but there was no mistaking it.”

“How long were you out of the home?”

“Most of the morning.”

“Do you know of any reason he might want to take his own life?”

“No,” she answered. “I thought he was happy.”

“Are you aware that your husband’s death had already been reported earlier this morning?”

Her mouth formed a circle, perhaps an inaudible question: “No,” or “Who?”

“That must be why the police were here so quickly.” It was like a light bulb came on in her head. “It seemed like I’d just called them when I heard sirens. I was barely inside when they came barging in.” She paused. “But, of course, I was so distraught.” She dropped her chin and went silent.

McGuiness stood and walked to the fireplace. Taking a poker from the rack of tools, he idly stirred the embers of the spent fire. When the poker struck a solid object under the ash, he used the tongs to pull out the object and set it on the marble hearth. Too hot to touch, he prodded what appeared to be the remains of a thick book, heavily charred but with the center pages intact.

He motioned for Smedley to bag the book as evidence. The Sergeant shrugged his shoulders.

“I’ll need something besides a plastic bag,” he groused.

“That will be all for the moment,” McGuiness told the widow. Turning back to her he asked, “Would you be willing to come down to the station later to make an official statement?”

“I don’t know how much more I could tell you. I wasn’t here when it happened.”

“It’s for the official report,” he said. “We need to document the events of the morning.”

“Sure,” she said, looking uneasy.

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At the same time McGuiness was questioning the widow, Constable Muldowney sat at the foot of a bed upstairs talking to Melissa’s ten-year old son.

“How long has he been your Dad?” she asked.

“He’s not my Dad!” the boy yelled. He grabbed his G.I. Joe by the boots and tossed it into the air. The doll turned a perfected somersault before the boy caught it one-handed.

“Well, then, how long have they been married,” she asked, hoping for a better answer. The child scowled and continued flipping the doll end over end.

“They got hitched in some wedding chapel with Elvis.” He flipped the doll. “I don’t know. Maybe it was a few months ago. They didn’t even invite me.” The doll flew head over heels again. Muldowney nodded, a look of sympathy on her face.

“I got dumped at Aunt Marie’s like a baby. Seemed like they were gone forever. When they finally came back, they made me look at all the stupid pictures. I wasn’t even in them.” The figurine went into the air like punctuation. This time the boy missed.

“Sometimes grown-ups need private time,” she explained. He frowned.

“Who’s Aunt Marie?”

“That’s my mom’s sister.” Muldowney made a note to contact the widow’s sister. Her finger moved down the page and stopped at the center. She looked up at the boy.

“I’ve been taking care of my mom since my real dad left. Everything was fine until he came along and ruined everything.” Frustration shadowed his small face.

She patted him gently on the shoulder. With a grimy fist he brushed away a tear.

He stood up and leaned into the softness of her embrace.

“I thought your parents got married on the beach,” she said.

“No. Those pictures aren’t Mom. That’s Aunt Marie, Mom’s twin.”

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Detective Muldowney carried two Styrofoam cups of coffee into the interrogation room. She handed one to Melissa, then, sat down with her back to a mirror that almost stretched the length of the room. A camera in the upper corner captured both women. Behind the two-way glass, Detective McGuinness watched as the interrogation began.

“I’m not sure why I’m even here,” the widow told Muldowney. “I have arrangements to make and things to do before the funeral.” Her tear-stained face was beautiful even with puffy eyes and a red nose.

“It’s routine to take statements from the next of kin,” Muldowney reassured her. “We need to ask you a few more questions about your husband.

“But the sign outside said Homicide Division,” she said, her voice growing quivery. “I don’t understand. My husband committed suicide.” Her head tilted to one side. Muldowney opened her worn leather notebook and jotted something down.

“Well, that’s what we’re here to determine.”

Need Some Backstory?

  • Aftermath to the Pub Murder Mystery, Ch.1
    Jason makes a brief appearance and becomes the subject of a police investigation for murder. His new bride, Melissa, has a secret about her family that calls her truthfulness into question. Spoilers: Jason's fate is sealed after having escaped prosec

© 2019 Peg Cole

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