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Writing History & Mysteries

When I'm not delving into historical research, I'm planning a character's demise.

Monday, April 29, 2013

X is for Xizang



Seeing as we are to the end of this thing, I hope I am forgiven for posting my X word late. This is true panster writing, not knowing what I’m going to type until I sit down and do it. X stymied me. There was no way words like xylophone or X-ray would fit into my mystery without sounding forced. I had to ponder on it to figure out which way to go. Y will be up later.

***

While Pepper is frantically trying to undo her leg restraint to escape captivity, Sheriff Clayton Nazzaro is at Sophia Lyon’s house. Sophia and Jessie Belmont had followed Malcolm Sinclair over to sit with Pepper during the book club shortly before Pepper was kidnapped. The sheriff went over to Sophia’s right after talking to Jessie who revealed Sophia was wearing a polka dot scarf the day of the book club outing, most likely the same scarf found on murdered Margie Webster.
***
Sophia lay stretched out on a lounge chair on her patio that overlooked the lake. The police presence there didn’t seem to have any effect on her composure.

“Have a seat, sheriff,” said Sophia. She gestured to the other lawn furniture with cushions that matched her lounger.

If he sat, his physical body might give in to exhaustion. “I’ll stand, thanks,” said Clayton. “You’ve been home long? We looked for you at Malcolm Sinclair’s place. You attended the book club tonight, right?”

“Yes, sheriff, I was there. I left around nine. Everyone else was filtering out so I figured it was time to go.”

“Did you happen to leave before or after Hazel Brewster?”

“Before. We started to leave together but she stopped to talk to Malcolm,” said Sophia, a touch of annoyance in her voice. “I couldn’t bear to watch him try to suck another one in. The man acts like he walked out of the pages of a 10¢ romance novel. I had to suppress my laughter when he went on about staying with the monks in Xizang.”

Clayton was confused by her remarks about Malcolm. Sophia’s attitude didn’t jive with the impression Jessie gave of her either. “I was under the assumption you liked Malcolm Sinclair.”

“Like? Oh, I see. You’ve heard all the stories about me haven’t you? Poor Sophia—the rich and bored, dejected housewife—she needs a boy toy.” Sophia swung her legs off of the lounger and sat up. “I may complain now and then. What wife doesn’t? The bored part is true. I just go to Malcolm’s gatherings for something to do and the free booze. Plus I’m nosy.”

“Nosy about what? Malcolm?” Clayton found that other people’s boredom often lead to the best observations.

“What he’s doing over there.” Sophia pointed in a diagonal direction across the lake. “He comes and goes at odd hours of the night from the underground passage that leads from his place to the lake. It’s a prohibition house you know.”

Although Malcolm had no qualms about the deputies going through his house without a warrant to look for Pepper, on the pretext she might have gone back inside without his knowledge, the man had said nothing about a cellar.  Clayton’s phone emitted a version of Hawaii Five-O.  It was Herbert Wilde, the coroner. "Yeah, Herb?"

"I figured you'd want to know my preliminary findings."

"I do, but make it quick." Not that Clayton didn't want to know the results of Margie Webster's autopsy, he did, but she was already dead. He was more concerned about how to keep Pepper from ending up the same way. Clayton took a deep breath and released it.  "Sorry Herb, go ahead."

"There was a blow to the back of her head we didn’t see initially at the scene because she was on her back. Didn't kill her, but it sure would have knocked her out cold. The adze was the murder weapon. It's extremely sharp. It wouldn't have taken much to cut clean through. One good swing would have done it."

"Any way to know what knocked her out?"

"By the wound I’d say it was a golf club," said Herb. "We haven't quite pinpointed what type or the manufacturer yet."

"Thanks Herb." Clayton hung up the phone. Just about everyone on Spirit Lake golfed on the country club’s course there. If they had to track down golf clubs they would, but to find the right one would be like trying to pick the only four inch piece of hay from a round bale.

Clayton called his deputy. "I need you back over to Malcolm’s place ASAP. See if he’ll agree to looking underneath his house, cellar, whatever it is. Give him the ‘we can come back with a warrant’ line if he balks, and the putting an officer in danger part if you can’t look now—whatever it takes. Just get back in that house.” The sheriff hung up.

“Your officers didn't tell me much. What's really going on over there?” asked Sophia. The look on her face was clueless.

Clayton cursed himself. He should have stepped further out of ear shot of Sophia. “Hazel Brewster is one of my detectives, Pepper Black. She went missing right after the book club. She was there investigating Margie Brewster’s murder.”

“The hell you say,” Sophia fell back into the lounger. “You don’t suspect Malcolm of anything, do you? He seemed to genuinely like Hazel—I mean Ms. Black—oh, yes. That does explain why Malcolm called her that. He must have known, we thought maybe she was recently divorced. And Margie? He would not have hurt Margie. I’m positive.”

“What makes you so sure? You don’t seem to trust him.”

“Malcolm was quite upset by Margie’s death,” said Sophia. She got up from her lounge to look across the still water of the lake. “I think he was falling for her. Said she was a nice girl, level-headed and maybe that’s what he needed to turn his life around.”

“Did anyone else hear him say that?”

“Jessie, did.”

“When?”

“The morning of the field trip to his other house. Why?”

“Do you remember if Margie Webster was wearing a polka dot scarf the morning of the field trip?”

“Oh my no,” said Sophia, she turned to face Clayton. “She had simple taste but even Margie wouldn’t wear dots. That would be Jessie—girl has no sense of style.”


“How about on Friday morning? Was Jessie wearing one then?”

“Yes as a matter of fact, a red one. I took pictures that day. I can grab my digital if you like.”


“Yes please, Mrs. Lyons.” Clayton walked to the other end of the deck to place a call when Sophia entered the house.

“Pin Drop Alley. Can I help you?” answered a voice.

“Yes, this is Sheriff Nazzaro. Don’t hand over the phone if you say yes to this, but is Jessie Belmont still there?”

“Sorry sheriff, she left a few minutes after you did.”

***
This post is part of April's Blogging From A-Z Challenge and Camp NaNoWriMo. The rest of the A-Z bloggers can be found pinned in the links section of my sidebar. Hope to see you tomorrow!
 
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2 comments:

  1. I am on the edge of my seat.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow oh the polka dot scarf again !

    ReplyDelete

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