A torrid sun; a tropical paradise; a frustrated writer; a cheating wife; a mysterious sultry woman ... the ingredients for a forbidden affair? Or the recipe for murder and the perfect crime?
It was a god damned nightmare! I was being manipulated like a helpless marionette at the hands of some insidious puppeteer. I needed to find who was pulling the strings and why.
Suspects, there were plenty. I could not dismiss the two police officers because of their shoddy investigation into my wife's death. Were they puppets also? There was the bartender at the lounge who had lied to me, as well as to the police. There were the mysterious 'Men in Black.' Who were they? What was their involvement? Then ... and then there was Nova! Nova, with whom I had known intimacy, and yet I knew absolutely nothing about her!
Sergeant Baker and his deputy were too anxious to finalize the necessary paperwork and thus close the case. I was no officer of the law, but it was painfully obvious to me that there far too many answered questions regarding the case. Alas, most of the unexplained events would have been written off by the local lawmen. The passages in my novel and the letter of reference, both of which I didn't remember writing, could have easily been attributed to the eccentricity of a best-selling author.
It would have been easy enough for someone to come to the conclusion that my tryst with Nova was nothing more than the fantasy of a man dealing with the infidelity of his wife. It would have been noted that I had been drinking, probably to drown my sorrows. What better authority than a bartender who had been serving me the drinks?
What about the physical evidence? I sighed in resignation. I realized that both the blue bra and the note found in my wife's dresser drawer would probably have been considered circumstantial. It would have seemed obvious to an investigator that my wife would have owned a bra to match her underpants. How could I have convinced them that she'd gone out without underwear? I had been contemplating telling the officers about the blue bra, but how could I have been justified hiding it? Would it have not implicated me in some way?
What would they have thought if I'd told them that I had seen Nova on the beach wearing a blue bikini? What if I had suggested that she'd been wearing the same bra that I had hidden beneath the dresser and that she'd been wearing the matching pants that been found around my wife's neck? Of course, they would have thought the fantasy girl would have been wearing a fantasy bikini.
XXVII slumped onto the bed. During the cab ride from the police station back to the hotel I had been tossing question after question around in my head. While I had managed to get a headache for my efforts, I had not come up with any answers.
What about the 'Men in Black?' Ignoring the throbbing in my head I tried to focus on the 'story' that the driver of the car had told me. Fearful for my life at their hands, I hadn't really let his words register. They had forcibly abducted me and had taken me for 'a ride.' What was I supposed to have thought? His 'story' began to reform in my mind.
"Mr. Earle, we know you have a lot of questions. We can answer some of them, but not all. You are a story teller, and for the moment, so am I. Please allow me to tell you a story. Listen and learn, Mr. Earle.I sat upright and buried my face in my hands. I was overwhelmed by the scope of the man's story. So, my wife had finally crawled into the wrong bed! What in the hell had she gotten herself into? This time she had managed to drag me through the mud as well.
....It is not coincidental that the mystery in which you are so embroiled has been mirroring the novel you are currently writing. Do not forget, sir, that your novel is fiction. Your wife's untimely death, however, was not.
....Your wife's indiscretions, yes, we knew about your wife's dalliances, unfortunately placed her in the middle of a very ... delicate situation. I'm afraid I cannot reveal the exact nature of that situation as it deals with matters of National security.
....Let's just say that she happened to hook up with the wrong lover the night of her death. He was a certain international buyer of stolen documents posing as a business man on vacation. In the past he operated with the reputation of being very careful and discreet. This time, however, he was careless. He dropped his guard and allowed himself to be tempted by a very beautiful woman ... your wife.
....When there are secret documents and millions of dollars involved, it doesn't take much for things to go wrong. Your wife was in the wrong place at the wrong time, Mr. Earle. Because you were her husband, certain parties have taken an interest in you. It is for that reason we have approached you. It is for that reason that we must insist that you finish your novel and leave this 'paradise' as soon as possible.
....Remember, as your novel is fiction, so too are my associate and I. We will be making no further contact with you. That is the end of my story.
What was it the driver of the car had said when I'd suggested that Eve's death could not have been a suicide? Yes, he'd said there had been an eye witness - an attractive woman wearing a white blouse and a leather miniskirt! That described the clothing Eve had been wearing when she'd left our suite. Yet, the clothing in her personal affects given to me at the police station was a red dress - the same dress Nova had been wearing that night. The note I'd found hidden with Eve's underwear had mentioned that they could change. I had assumed that it meant they could change partners. Nova, wearing Eve's clothes, was that witness!
Then I remembered the last thing the driver had said to me as he drove away. "Finish your novel, Mr. Earle, and don't forget to edit." Edit? Why should he have felt compelled to say that? He'd said something else about my novel also. He'd said something about it being no coincidence that my novel was reflecting the mystery in which I was embroiled.
XXVIII sat down at the desk and powered up my laptop. I did think it was odd that there were several passages that I didn't remember writing. The introduction of Nova into my novel was one thing. I suppose my fascination with her had something to do with that.
I suddenly felt violated as I realized that someone had been gaining access to my computer. Was it the 'Men in Black?' How else would they have known about the similarity of my novel to the real events? What was their interest that I finish the novel? Edit? Why should I edit and what should I edit?
I navigated through the main menu of my novel and opened the folder for chapter one. I could see no other course of action but to start at the beginning. I was determined to read and reread every word, every sentence, every paragraph and every chapter. It didn't take long for me to discover that I was having difficulty distinguishing fact from fiction in the novel's story line.
After two hours of painstakingly poring over the novel, I was intrigued. It was as if I'd been reading a murder mystery by another author. Yet, the whole thing was structured in my own unique style. It was exactly written as if I had written it. Then why did I feel that I had not written ... all of it?
I scrolled down to the edit field. Was I not so succinctly reminded to edit? I stared dumfounded at the box that appeared on the screen. It read: ENTER PASSWORD TO EDIT. I shook my head. I had not installed password protection on this novel.
Acting on the premise that I had installed it, although I knew I hadn't, I began to feverishly type in password after password that I may have used. I was a creature of habit and have always used the same few standard passwords when one was required. None of them were accepted. I have another bad habit of 'hiding' my passwords by taping them to the bottom of the laptop. I lifted the device and peered underneath. There was but one piece of paper there. It bore the password I always used to gain access to the computer itself.
I sat back in disgust. Not only had someone been tampering with my computer, but that person or persons had installed a program that only they could access! Then something caught my eye at the botom left side of the screen. It was a word counter that counted every five letters to keep track of my novel's wordage. It was double the count that it should have been!
I was startled by a sudden knock at the door. I shut the computer off and rose from the chair. Other than Baker and his deputy, I had no idea who would be calling on me. I paused as I was struck with a sense of fear. The 'Men in Black' had said I was being watched. They'd also said they were trying to keep me alive. Inspite of the nervous dread, I pulled the door open.
A breathtaking body clad in a tiny blue bikini filled my eyes. Though her face was partially hidden in the shadows of the hallway, there was no mistaking the legs, the narrow waist and the perfect upturned breasts!
"Nova!" Inspite of all that happened, inspite of the suspicions I was harboring, I wanted nothing more than to pull her body to me. My arms encircled her frame and I lifted her from the floor.
I tensed. I felt something cold, steel-like between our bodies. Suddenly she shoved me away, sending me stumbling backwards until I fell on my back onto the bed. My eyes were locked on the barrel of the pistol aimed at me. I shook when I heard the 'click' of the chamber as she cocked the gun.
"Don't you go pawing me and slobbering over me you spineless bastard!" she shouted.
Her voice was all too familiar.
To be continued.... HERE.