Friday, August 24, 2007

Her Cups Runneth Over (4)

This is the fourth installment of a short story which began HERE.

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?


No dentist had ever administered to me such a potent dose of Novocaine. Nova, Ms Nova Caine, what have you done to me? My thoughts were purged of everything that was not her. I crumbled the note she had left for me at the front desk. A letter of reference? What letter?

I shoved the note into my jacket pocket and rose from the lobby chair. If I was going to find her, I would have to talk to the bartender in the hotel lounge. I had to begin somewhere, after all that was where I had met her. When I reached the lounge entrance I was greeted by Laurel and Hardy, my recently devised nicknames for the two local police officers who had been investigating my wife's murder.

"Ah, Mr. Earle," said Officer Hardy. "It's most fortunate, that while we were about to look for you that you walk practically right into our hands." I swallowed hard forcing down a groan of dread. If they had just left the lounge, then that meant they had been checking out my statement. No doubt the bartender told them about the woman.

"Look," I stammered, "...About the woman..."

He raised his hand and shook his head, "It's no problem. Under the circumstances, how could you be expected to remember being interrupted by that young lady while you were having a few drinks? It was commendable of you to sign a letter of reference for a perfect stranger. According to the barkeep she was quite a looker too. Other than that, your alibi checks out!"

He touched the brim of his hat and said, "If you'll excuse us, we have to get back to the station. There will be some preliminary results from forensics waiting for us." He turned to walk away and then added, "You will keep yourself available, won't you ... just in the event we need to contact you?"

"Yes. Yes, of course." I watched them until they disappeared through the hotel entrance. The recent developments had more twists than I ever wrote in my mystery novels. With determined resolve I entered the lounge. I needed to know why the bartender had lied to the officers. Why would he want to cover my ass?


Seeing my approach to the bar he began pouring my drink of choice. I settled onto the bar stool and took a long drink from the glass. The bartender leaned over the bar and said, "I'm so sorry to hear about your wife, Mr. Earle. Tragic, just tragic." He waited until I acknowledged his sympathy with a barely perceptible nod before adding, "The local fuzz was in here just a while ago. They were asking about you: 'How long were you here, were you drunk, did you say anything or act suspicious in any way, were you with anyone?' I told them what I saw and heard."

I looked at him, trying to read him, all the while wondering why he had lied. "Yes, I know. I ran into them in the lobby." I shoved my glass toward him and motioned for a fresh drink.

He placed the drink in front of me. I could sense that he already had his answer ready before I asked the questions. "Tell me," I said deliberately measuring my words, "Why didn't you tell them about the woman in the red dress? Why did you tell them about a woman looking for a reference? We both know that didn't happen."

He didn't bat an eye but replied, "Now, Mr. Earle, I've been tending bar for as long as I can remember, and I have learned to pay attention to even the smallest details." He extended his hand and began counting on his fingers, "Number one, there was no woman in a red dress! Number two, one gorgeous young woman asked you to sign a letter of reference! Number three, you signed it! And number four, you were drunk!" He was almost glaring at me, "I must confess that I didn't think you were all that drunk. You walked out of here with no problem."

I opened my mouth to speak, but he raised his hand and said, "Unless you want another drink, you'll have to excuse me. I have some work to do." He turned and walked away to the other end of the bar. I could see that I wasn't going to get any more out of him, so I downed the contents of the drink and left.


Once in my room I plopped down on the edge of the bed. I was exhausted. I had had very little sleep. I bolted upright in anticipation as memories of the night before sprung into my head. The bed linens would still be holding traces of our love making! Just as quickly, however, my hopes were dashed. The maids had already been there. The bed had been made!

I took one step in the direction of the door. If I could only find the maids ... I shook my head and cursed my myself at having such a preposterous idea. What was I going to say to them, "Excuse me. Could I see the sheets from my bed? I want to check them for wet spots ... er ... love stains! "

I began pacing about the room. There I was, an accomplished and successful author of mystery novels embroiled in a mystery, the likes of which I could never have imagined. I didn't, I couldn't have imagined everything. The memories and the details of them were too vivid. I drew back the curtains and looked upon the beach, the very beach where I had first laid eyes upon her. I clenched my fists and shouted to no particular audience save one, "Where are you? Who are you?"

Presently I found myself before the keyboard of my laptop. I thought that if maybe, just maybe if I could lose myself in my novel, I would come to my senses. Either I had dreamt the events of the night before or I was on the verge of going stark raving mad. One thing, and only one thing seemed certain, and that was the fact that my wife was dead!

Dumfounded I stared at the words on the screen. My novel was further along than I had remembered, much further along! In stunned disbelief I read how the author-turned-detective hero had become a prime suspect in the murder of his wife. Then he'd hooked up with an exotic beauty named ... Nova!

I rose from the desk in horror. Not only did I not remember restructuring the entire plot of the novel I had started, but I had apparently been rewriting it to coincide with my own real experiences. My God, I thought. What if the police were to take a gander at my computer's contents, and in particular my novel?

When did I start rewriting my novel? When had I found the time? Last evening had been consumed by my time with Nova. I paused and abandoned all thoughts of physically being with her. Was it possible that I had killed my wife? If so, then by exacting my desires to be rid of her, was I sick enough to record my exploits under the guise of a novel? Then that could mean only one thing: Nova was either a willing or an unwitting acomplice, or she was a figment of my imagination!

Not a moment too soon, I gathered my thoughts. I reached into my jacket pocket. The note from the front desk, it had to be there! A great burden was lifted from my shoulders as I looked upon the crumpled note. Its content was exactly as I had thought it would be. I stared at the single capital letter serving as the signature - "N." Nova was real!

With renewed energy, I moved to the dresser for some fresh clothes. After a quick shower I was going to renew my mission. I was going to find her. She, it seemed, was the key to whole shebang. Once all the questions would have been answered, then there would be another matter in need of attention. Through it all, I wanted her. I intended to have her again.

I was not prepared for another twist of events when I opened a dresser drawer. My eyes fell upon a strange bit of material, which had been placed beneath my undershirts. I prayed the article of clothing wasn't what I thought it might be. I felt a sudden weakness as I held the blue material before my face. It was a blue bikini top!

To be continued ..... HERE.



abcd said...

Like your new layout and this funny post. :)

Enjoy your weekend.

Scary Monster said...

Sunday mornin' here, Hale.
It were nice to start me day with thirty minuts or so of playin catch up with yer posts. Kinda like a bit of Deja-screw: Ya been there before, but it still leaves ya feelin good.

Me always likes the bartender in stories like this. Do me a favor and don't kill him off or make him the bad guy.


Hale McKay said...

Without tipping the plot, Scary, don't worry about the bartender. He lives and he's not the killer.
What he is - well, that's to be seen.

Hale McKay said...

"This funny post...?

Well, for a murder-mystery it does contain some humor.

Jack K. said...

Thanks for the heads up. I have been busy and not had time to attend to daily blog reading.

As an inveterate mystery reader, I am completely taken in by this story. You do spin a tight yarn.

As usual, I am beginning to look for possible outcomes/twists/turns, etc., to the plot. Could it be that Nova is a foil for one of the deceased's lovers? Could this be an elaborate plot to get away with murder by pinning it on the usual prime suspect? Could it be the novel within the novel? Could it all be the imagination of a mad man who will be exposed in his padded room at the "rest" home?

I can hardly wait to learn how it turns out.

It is amazing how these things do seem to take on a life of their own. I suspect that is the sign of a very good writer.

Thanks again for writing it and alerting me to the installment I missed.

Cheri said...

More, when is the next installment....I jut got to read them all at once...I love them. you are an excellent writer...