Monthly Archives: September 2020

Duck, Duck, Dead duck; chapter nine, part three

“What happened exactly, Bet?”  Rafe asked as he drove me to my apartment.  I was still groggy and not up for a conversation, but I gave it the old college try.

“I’m not sure,” was my detailed answer.  “It happened so fast.”  Rafe sighed, but refrained from asking additional questions.

“How long do you think you’ll stay at your parents’?”  was Rafe’s next question.

“Not very long,” I answered, looking out the window.  My shoulder was beginning to hurt again, and I reminded Rafe to stop at the pharmacy so I could fill my prescription.  “I love my parents, but I don’t want to live under their roof again.”

We fell into a silence as he drove to the pharmacy.  Afterwards, we went to my apartment so I could decide what to take with me.  I should call Phillip to tell him that I wasn’t coming to work today—if he hadn’t figured it out—but I couldn’t seem to give a damn.  I was tired of FunLand, and I didn’t care if he fired me.  In fact, I would almost welcome it.  My aching shoulder agreed with me.  Rafe helped me change into a fresh pair of jeans and a black t-shirt before sitting me on the bed.  I watched as he started packing for me.  As I supervised him packing, I told him about my dreams.

“Weird,” Rafe commented, pausing in the packing.  “Do you think they have any significance?”

I shrugged as he folded my shirts before placing them in my suitcase.  I hadn’t given my dreams much thought, but I believed that our subconscious spoke to us in our dreams.  Therefore, there had to be something of use in those dreams, even if I couldn’t immediately identify what it was.  The second dream seemed marginally more straightforward than the first one, so I concentrated on the second one.  Obviously the painting in Lydia’s apartment had affected me, but was there more to it than that?  I would be hard-pressed to recall the details of the painting now even though I had liked it at the time, so I was inclined to believe that there was something to the painting—more than meets the eye.  What had the note said?  Something like almost there.  No, that wasn’t quite it.  Getting warmer.  That’s what it said.  What did that mean?

It meant that Lydia had expected someone to think of the painting—based on her first clue?  What was it?  Remembering a date.  What date?  Date?  Painting?  How did the two of them go together?  I frowned.  When else had Lydia talked about painting?  It was something she did in her spare time, but not something she talked much about.  She had a superstitious feeling that she’d jinx it if she talked about it too much.  But I distinctly remembered her telling me something about a painting she had done.  Recently.  What was it for?  I frowned and concentrated hard, but it was just at the edge of my consciousness.  I knew better than to try to force it, so I pushed it out of my mind.  It would come to me sooner or later.

Continue Reading

Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter nine, part two

“Well, whoever did this missed everything vital,” Dr. Green said to me sternly, looking at me over the top of her glasses.  “You’re lucky, Ms. Chen.  Whoever did this either didn’t intend to kill you or had really bad aim.  Either way, you should be thankful.  You’re also damn lucky you made it here in one piece.  That’s what ambulances are for, you know.”  Thankful, she said.  Me with my thirteen stitches.  I should be thankful.  Well, considering how much Vicodin was pumping through my veins, I was pretty damn thankful.  I was feeling no pain, and I was ready to go home.  I had the note safely in my pocket, and I resolved not to mention it to anyone.

“Well, thanks Groctor Deen,” I said, frowning.  That didn’t sound right for some reason.  I struggled to sit up in bed, but she gently pushed me back.

“Where do you think you’re going, young lady?”  Dr. Green, who was, at most, ten years older than me, asked in a mock-motherly voice.  Her streaked brown hair was pulled back in a bun and her face was devoid of makeup.  Still, she had a wholesome look that was appealing.

“Home?”  I said, making it more a question than a statement.  Dr. Green started shaking her head before I could even squeeze that one word out.

“I’m keeping you overnight for observations.  Your family is here.  I’ll let them in two by two.”  Just like Noah, I thought, but wisely kept that to myself.  Dr. Green turned around and marched out the door.  A minute later, my parents were hurrying in.

“Beezus!”  My mother said in a voice loud enough to mortify me.  Thankfully, I was in a single so no one could hear her besides me and my father.  “What happened?  You scared us to death.  I told you you should have quit your job.”  The whole time she’s talking, my mother fussed with my blankets, twitching them this way and that.

Continue Reading

Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter nine, part one

“Bea, you’re running late,” Antoinette said in a bossy tone as I dressed for work Monday morning.  I ignored her as she was not the boss of me, no matter what she seemed to think.

A huge yawn escaped from me before I could swallow it.  Rafe and I hadn’t gone to bed until well after two in the morning, and as it was now eight o’clock, I was bushed.  Gone were the days when I could skate by on four or five hours of sleep.  Now, if I didn’t get a solid seven hours, I was a basket case.  It was worth it, though.  A smile crept on my face as I recalled some of the more creative positions in which Rafe and I had found ourselves in last night.  One of them gave me fierce cramps in both legs, but I had been past the point of caring by then.  By the time we were through, we had each had four orgasms in two hours.  Not bad for a night’s work.

“Phillip wants to talk to you at some point today,” Antoinette said, primping in the mirror.

“What for?”  I asked sharply.  I didn’t relish the new boss breathing down my neck, especially if he was anything like his dead brother.

“He wants to get to know his employees,” Antoinette said, her voice reproachful.  “He’s a real hands-on type of guy.”  I refrained from supplying the obvious retort and pulled on the giant duck head.

“Hey, where’s the mouse head?”  I asked casually, trying to make it sound as if I were just making conversation.  “I thought the police were returning it,” I added lightly.

Continue Reading

Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter eight, part four

“Well, here we are,” Brian said, flicking on the lights.  “Home, sweet home.”

“You didn’t live together?”  I asked, already knowing the answer.  I just wanted to see his face when he tried to explain why they weren’t living together.

“Nope,” Brian said easily, ignoring the implied question.  “Take all the time you need.”  He gestured us into the apartment, and I blinked as I looked around.  It was nothing like I had imagined.  Lydia was ribald, but anal, wild, but uptight.  This apartment, however, seemed more appropriate for a girly-girl with its pastel-colored walls and lacy curtains.  Everything was overtly feminine with the doilies on the coffee table and crocheted afghans tossed on the couch.  The guys looked decidedly out of place in this dollhouse, and even I most emphatically did not fit in with the décor.

“My God,” Rafe said, looking awed.

“Lydia had a delicate side she didn’t show many people,” Brian explained, looking at the cotton candy mess seemingly with affection.  “I’ll show you to her bedroom.”  We followed him into a room with the walls a pale lavender and with a canopy bed smack dab in the middle of it.  I felt like Laura Ashley walking into that room.  There was even a doll with a china head and a frilly dress sitting upon the vanity table.  Yes, she had a vanity table.  There was a music box almost identical to the one back at her mother’s house sitting on the vanity table as well, right next to the doll.

“I’ll leave you to it,” Brian said, stepping out of the room.

Continue Reading

Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter eight, part three

“Bea?  Oh, I’m so glad I caught you,” she sobbed, making it difficult for me to understand her.  “Please, can you come over again?  I-I really need to talk to you.”

“I was just going to dinner,” I protested feebly, knowing that I’d cave in the end.  Something about an older person weeping on my phone did that to me.  I wasn’t going to go down without a fight, however.

“Please, I’ll order something in for you.  Do you like Thai?  I know of a marvelous place.”  She was begging me, and I couldn’t be that hardhearted.  I agreed to meet her in half an hour and let her know that Rafe would be coming with me.  She acquiesced.

“I take it there’s a change of plans,” Rafe said, watching my face.  I didn’t say anything but simply nodded.  He sighed as he led me to his car.  “Where to?”  He asked as we buckled up.  I told him and predictably, he wasn’t happy.  It seemed as if our lives were being taken over by this case.  We drove to Mrs. Rodriguez’s in silence, neither of us in the mood to talk.

“Thank you for coming,” Mrs. Rodriguez said, opening the door at the first ring of the bell.  She must have been on the other side of the door just waiting for us to show up.  Her eyes were reddened and puffy, and it was hard to look at her without feeling like crying myself.  “Come in, come in.”  She ushered us into the living room again.

“I went over to Linda’s apartment today.  I-I had to clean out her things.  I found this.”  She held out a slim book which looked like a journal—which it was.  Since she was holding it out to me, I took it.  I flipped through it, feeling a pang at the sight of Lydia’s handwriting.  “Read the last entry,” Mrs. Rodriguez said, her voice tight.  I flipped to the last page, Rafe reading over my shoulder.  It was written a few days before Lydia died.

Continue Reading

Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter eight, part two

“Ms. Chen?”  It was Detective Bradley, and he was with another officer who wasn’t the other detective.  “Detective Bradley and Officer Johnson.  May we come in?”  The detective was glowering at me, though it seemed a bit perfunctory.  The officer, on the other hand, kept his face bland.

“This way.”  I gestured for them to follow me into the living room where my parents and Rafe were sitting.  I introduced everybody, then waited.

“Everybody here knows what you discovered?”  Detective Bradley barked at me, his tone hard.  When I nodded, he grunted in frustration.  “You should have called us right away,” he said, struggling to keep his tone even.  “The less people who know, the better.”

“We won’t tell anyone, Detective,” my mother said stiffly, her hackles bristling.  Anyone attacking her cub had to answer to her.

“You better not,” Detective Bradley rumbled ominously.  “This is police business, you know.”  I couldn’t believe he actually said that, but he didn’t seem a man of great imagination.  We all agreed not to mention what we’d found to anyone, and he had to be satisfied with that.  He still looked disgruntled, but he let it go.  “I’d like to speak to Ms. Chen alone,” Detective Bradley said, his eyes on the giant mouse head.  “Officer Johnson will be taking notes for me.”

“Ok, but we’ll be right in the kitchen,” my mother said, frowning at the detective.  Rafe glared at Detective Bradley as well before following my parents out of the room.

“Now, tell me what happened,” Detective Bradley said as Officer Johnson pulled out a pad and a pen.  I invited them to sit down, which they did in the hardback chairs.  I sat on the couch, then immediately wished I hadn’t.  It put me at a serious disadvantage.

I plunged into my narrative with a bit of judicious editing.  I told the detective what Mrs. Rodriguez had said to me and how I figured out what it meant.  I assured him that there was nothing in the Daphne head, which was what led me to believe that Lydia had hidden whatever it was in my head.  By this time, I had almost forgotten the officer taking notes and focused my concentration on Detective Bradley.  After some hesitation, I told him about my conversation with Tommy and handed over the pictures.  Detective Bradley leafed through them, expressionless, before passing them onto Officer Johnson.  The latter wasn’t quite seasoned enough to keep his face blank as he looked through the pictures, but he’d probably acquire that in time.

Continue Reading