Category Archives: Murder Mystery

Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter twelve, part three

“The first time I met Brian, something zinged through me.  I could tell by the look in his eyes that he felt the same way.”  A faraway look came into her eyes and despite the serious circumstances, a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth.  “After that, we made excuses not to spend time together, but Linda insisted.  She wanted me and Brian to get to know each other, so we gave in for her sake.  Every time I saw him, I felt the same pull.”  Mrs. Rodriguez stopped.

“This is starting to sound like a romance novel,” I muttered under my breath.  Even though I wasn’t as pissed at her, I had to keep up my role.  “Can you fast-forward to the sex part?”

“One time, he came over because Linda knew that my furnace wasn’t working right.  He’s a whiz at those kind of things, and Linda insisted that he see to it.  I have no sons, you see, to do that kind of thing for me.  She thought she was doing me a favor.”  This time, the smile Mrs. Rodriguez produced was mirthless.

“When was this?”  I interrupted, wanting a timeline.

“Four months ago,” Mrs. Rodriguez said, clearly irritated that I kept interrupting.

“Can I take it that your furnace remained broken?”  I asked archly, baring my teeth.  It was amazing how easy it was to rile this woman, and I watched in amusement as she flushed.

“It got fixed,” Mrs. Rodriguez said through gritted teeth.

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Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter twelve, part two

“Bea?  This is Brian.  I just wanted to let you know that the service will be on Sunday.”  He gave me the details, and I assured him I’d be there.  It was difficult for me to talk to him knowing what I knew, but I managed to hide my disdain. In the corner of my eye, I could see Owen and Sidney leaving, so I waved to them before refocusing my attention on Brian.

“I’ll see you there,” I said, eager to get off the phone.  Apparently, Brian didn’t share my sentiments because he held on, saying nothing.  Finally, he broke the silence.

“Hey, you never told me what was in the other envelope,” he said casually. “Did you happen to look?” I was immediately suspicious at his innocence.  I had given the photos to the cops, and I would bet my life savings that they would have interviewed Brian by now.  Was he trying to pump me to find out what I knew?  I decided to turn the tables on him.

“Why are you asking me?  Didn’t the cops talk to you about it?”  I asked bluntly, too tired to be more tactful.

“I’m seeing them in the morning,” Brian said glumly.  “How about that?  Just what I need—more time with the cops.”  My mind raced.  So he didn’t know what was in the envelope.  Did Mrs. Rodriguez?  I had to guess no since I would think she’d tell Brian if she knew.  Unless she was planning on hanging him out to dry.

“It was personal,” I said, hedging my bets.  Lydia had marked it not for his eyes, which made it personal in my book.  “It’s not something I can talk about with you,” I added, trying not to be too rude.  I guess it didn’t work because he got snippy with me.

“Fine.  It’s not like I was her boyfriend or anything like that.  It’s not like she was the most important person in my life—oh no.  I’m just some Joe Schmo down the street.  Why bother telling me anything?”  No, asshole.  You were the Joe Schmo who was fucking his girlfriend’s mother.  That’s pretty abominable in my book.

“Look, Brian, I’m just honoring Lydia’s wishes.  You want me to do that, don’t you?”  Oh, how mean of me to play the ‘respect your dead girlfriend’ card, but how satisfying.  There was no way he could say disagree without sounding like a total jerk.  I waited with bated breath to hear his response.  He mumbled something less that complimentary under his breath before saying in a forced jocular tone, “No, of course you’re doing what you think is right.”  He didn’t sound like he meant it, though.  Telling me that he’ll see me on Sunday—and not sounding too happy about that, either, he hung up the phone.  Rafe and I said our goodnights and went up to my room for some after party fun.

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Duck Duck Dead Duck; chapter twelve, part one

“Happy birthday, Raphael!”  My mother said, beaming at Rafe.  We were at Tiburon’s admiring the fish in the aquarium they had in the middle of the room.  I liked the mood lighting and the subtle atmosphere.  We were the first ones there, and the server graciously led us to our table so we could wait for the rest of the clan.

“Rafe!  Happy birthday, man.”  It was Hank, and he had a woman with him.  The woman from the picture.  Beth.  She must have cancelled whatever other plans she had.  “We’re keeping presents until after at the parents’ house, right?”  His date waited patiently for him to introduce her, and I took the opportunity to discreetly look her over.  She was more beautiful in person than in her picture, which was saying a lot.  She had on a green dress that accented her red hair nicely, and a warm smile that was aimed at everyone.  “Guys, this is Beth.  Beth, this is my family.”  He went around the table and introduced us as he and Beth sat next to our parents.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Beth said in a pleasant contralto.  “Hank talks about you all the time.”

“Does he?”  I murmured.  I was grateful that he had introduced me as Trish and not as Dodo or Beezus or Beatrice.

“Oh yes.  I am an only child, so I love to hear his stories of growing up with three siblings.”  Her eyes rested on my sling, but she was much too well-bred to say anything.  Hank leaned over and whispered something in her ear that made her look sharply at me.  I smiled, and she reluctantly smiled in return.  The chatter was light as we waited for the rest of the family.  Next was Mona and Michele.  They were wearing matching red dresses which looked great on both of  them, but too precious.  I hated it when couples dressed alike—I thought it was tacky.  Though come to think of it, I was wearing my little black dress and Rafe was dressed in black slacks and a black shirt, so I shouldn’t talk.

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Duck Duck Dead Duck; chapter eleven, part two

“Let’s go through it one more time,” Detective Bradley said, sounding bored.  We were running through what had happened when I went out to the car and almost got shot, and this was the fourth time I had told the tale.  I didn’t know what else he wanted me to say because it wasn’t that dramatic.  At least Detective Sands hadn’t come, which made me happy.

“I opened the door and stepped outside,” I said snidely, not bothering to check my tone.  I was tired and achy and hungry as Detective Bradley had interrupted my breakfast which did not endear him to me.  “Just as I was closing the door, I heard something whiz by my head.  When I realized it was a bullet, I hurried back inside, but not before a second shot was fired.”

“Why were you going outside?”  Detective Bradley asked, as if he hadn’t already asked a hundred times before.

“I had bought my boyfriend some birthday presents, but left them in the car.  I went to go get them so I could wrap them.”

“Where is your boyfriend?”  Detective Bradley asked, taking a new tack.  He caught me off-guard with the question so it took me a minute to respond.

“We don’t live together, Detective.  He was, is, at his apartment.”  I hope, I added in my mind.

“Where was he last night?”  Detective Bradley continue, ignoring my tone.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged, careful not to dislodge my arm from the sling.  “Not here.”

“Any problems between the two of you?”

“Nope,” I said.  “Except that he doesn’t think I should be traipsing off on my own.”

“I would agree with that, Ms. Chen,” Detective Bradley said, scratching his jowl.  “So, you had words?”

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Duck Duck Dead Duck; chapter eleven, part one

After all that build up, it was anticlimactic that he wasn’t at home.  I called his cell, but he wasn’t answering that, either.  Briefly, I wondered where he was, but realized that I wasn’t in the position to query as I was the one who had insisted on my autonomy.  What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, I guess, though I really wanted to know where he was.  I left him a message requesting him to call me no matter how late he got home.  Hey, I didn’t have to work in the morning, so what did I care?  I was a night owl by preference, anyway, so being woken up once in a while was no big deal.

“Have you made up with Raphael?”  My mother poked her head into my room just as I was hanging up my phone.

“Couldn’t get a hold of him,” I said tersely, not wanting to discuss it any further.

“Well, make sure you make up with him before tomorrow night,” my mother reproved me.  “It’s his birthday.”  Shit.  I had forgotten.  Thankfully, I had bought his gifts, though I had left them in the car.  I went to retrieve them, leaving my phone in my room.

Just as I was stepping out of the house, I heard a crack, then something whizzed by my ear.  It took me a few seconds to realize that someone was shooting at me and I better get out of the way, damn it.  It took a few more seconds for the command to travel from my brain to my limbs and for me to respond.  Once I realized the danger I was in, I fumbled with the door and pushed it open.  Diving back inside, I heard another crack, but didn’t feel any pain, so I assumed that I hadn’t been hit.  I slammed the door behind me and locked it.  My heart was pounding as I sat on the floor, waiting to see what would happen next.  It wasn’t until there was a minute of silence that I thought it might be a good idea to peek out the window and see who had shot at me.  Of course, that would make me a sitting target, and I was pretty attached to my head.  I would hate to have it get blown off.  I waited another minute for good measure before risking a peek.  Nothing.  It was only after the adrenalin started fading that I realized I had banged my shoulder pretty good in my attempt not to get shot.  It hurt like hell.

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Duck Duck Dead Duck; chapter ten, part four

I decided to check my email as I hadn’t bothered for the past few days.  I wasn’t one of those people who compulsively checked her email several times a day, feeling blue if nobody sent me anything.  I viewed it more as a nuisance than anything else—a necessary evil, if you will.  I sat at my mom’s computer and powered up.  It was slow going only using one hand, but I did the best I could.  I accessed my Yahoo! account and noticed that I had fifteen new emails.  Most of them were advertisements from Yahoo! which I promptly deleted.  There was a few emails from Liza who liked to email me during her workday when she got bored.  I opened them up and saw that they were forwarded joke emails.  She knew I hated forwarded emails, but she sent them to me, anyway.  I deleted them without even looking.

“What’s this?”  I had an email from someone who’s username I didn’t immediately recognize.  I hesitated, then opened it.

Bitch, do you think I’ve forgotten you?  Not a chance in hell.  You fucking ruined my life, and I’ll get you back if it take me the rest of my life.  You better watch your back, bitch.  I’m coming for you soon.

Ah, the gentle tone of Shannon.  There were two more from her, but I deleted them unread.  I knew they would be of the same ilk, and I had no desire to read any more of her ranting claptrap.  I didn’t think she was the one who stabbed me, but it was just a gut feeling.  I had nothing concrete to go on.  There was also an email from Aaron.  I debated about deleting it unread, but my curiosity was too strong.  Was it just the usual, ‘I want to fuck you’ note, or did he have something more important to say?  I opened it.

Trish, how are you doing?  It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?  I just wanted to let you know that I’ve heard from Shannon, and she’s serious about getting you back.  You might say she’s obsessed.  She’s already slashed the tires on my car and trashed the front of my house.  Be careful, girl.  I don’t want her to get you.  P.S.  How about getting together for old times’ sake?

I tapped my finger against my lip.  She slashed his tires?  Trashed his house?  It sounded like she was serious.  I wondered if I should tell the cops about her.  I knew that I should show them the note I had received with my courtesy stabbing, but I didn’t believe that it would do any good.  It was the generic kind of crap I got from time to time and for no other reason than I was a flashy Asian chick in a staid Scandinavian town.   It was hard for me to believe that in this day and age, there were still people who judged me on the color of my skin and not on my merit.  I had a hunch the police would take it more seriously than did I, but I still was reluctant to show it to them.  I had an irrational dislike of the cops which dictated that I stay away from them as much as possible.

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Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter ten, part three

The private envelope that Lydia hadn’t wanted Brian to see loomed large in my mind.  Though what we had already gone through was interesting and cause for speculation to say the least, I had a hunch that what Lydia had kept from Brian was even juicier.  It was logical to assume that the reason she hadn’t wanted him to see what was in that envelope was because what she had found had something to do with him.  Suddenly, I had to get out of there and go through the private envelope.  I made my excuses, gathered up the papers, placed them in the manila envelope before returning it to my purse and headed for the door.  Rafe followed willingly, but Brian was complaining.  He wanted more time to look over the information, and while I couldn’t blame him, I wasn’t leaving the papers with him, either.  I didn’t trust him further than I could throw him.  I promised him that I would let him know if we came up with anything else of importance, but my reassurances didn’t seem to ease his mind.

“What’s your hurry?”  Rafe asked as he walked me to my mom’s car.  I could tell he wasn’t mad at me any more, but I knew we’d still have to discuss my withholding information.  I, for one, was glad to put it on hold for as long as possible.

“I want to see what’s in the ‘not for Brian’s eyes’ envelope,” I explained, clutching my purse.  “The other stuff is interesting, but I have a feeling that we’ll find pay dirt with the private papers.”

“You just want to dish the dirt,” Rafe said knowingly, giving me a peck on the cheek.  He knew that I liked to dig deep—the dirtier the better.  It wasn’t the most attractive part of my personality, but I wasn’t ashamed of it, either.

“Meet you back at the parents’?”  I asked, lifting an eyebrow.  He nodded and veered off towards his car.  Driving at a slower speed than usual, I was outpaced back to my parents’ house.  They were nowhere to be seen, which was unusual for this time of day on a weekday.  Rafe waited for me to open the door before he started pestering me to bring out the private stash.  We went into the living room and snuggled on the couch.  I pulled out the private envelope and opened it.  There was a few pieces of paper plus a bunch of pictures.  The first piece of paper was again addressed to me.

Bea, this is something that I don’t want Brian to see.  I’m hoping that it’s you reading this and not Brian.  You see, for the last month or so, I had a hunch that he was seeing someone else.  You know how it is.  First, the attention starts wandering, then the sex isn’t as frequent.  I tried to tell myself that it was because of his work, but since I don’t know what the hell he does, it was hard to convince myself that was true.  So I did what other suspicious women have done.  I followed him.

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Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter ten, part two

“Lydia gave that to me for my birthday,” Brian said softly, interrupting my scrutiny.  “It’s the best thing she’s done, though not really my cup of tea.”

“Does it have a title?”  I asked, curious about the nomenclature of such an evocative piece of art.

“Willows Weeping,” Brian said, his eyes tearing up.  “It’s almost as if she had a premonition about her death.  It’s too bad, really.  The day she died, she received a letter in the mail commissioning her for two paintings.  It was someone who had seen a flyer of her work—she used to post them around town—and really liked it.  That would have been her first big sale.”  Brian looked at the ground as he talked, unable to meet my eyes.

“Brian, will you take the painting down for me?”  I asked, gesturing to the painting.  I wasn’t comfortable with his show of emotions, and I wanted to redirect his attention.

“Why?”  Brian asked, folding his arms across his chest.  He wasn’t being nearly as helpful or charming today as he had been a few days ago, but I didn’t have time to wonder about the change.

“Because,” I said snippily.  My shoulder was really starting to hurt like hell, and his attitude wasn’t doing anything to improve my temper.  “You want me to find out who killed Lydia, don’t you?”  Brian didn’t answer, but he lifted the painting off the wall and set it on the couch.  I flipped it over and carefully removed the backing.  There between the backing and the painting was a manila envelope, and it was stuffed.

“Well I’ll be damned,” Brian said, looking thunderstruck.  “What’s that?”

“Probably the evidence Lydia thought I’d be able to find,” I said dryly.  “She’s just lucky that I’m persistent.”  Brian didn’t say what was on his mind, but I had a hunch by the look on his face that he wanted to say that Lydia was dead, not lucky.

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Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter ten, part one

I slid into my mother’s Honda, determined to drive it.  I slowly backed out of the garage and started down the street.  I decided to go to Grand Street in St. Paul to shop because they had many eclectic shops on that street.  I hated malls with a passion, and I never went to the Megamall unless someone came to visit from out of town.  Without exception, visitors always wanted to be taken to the Mall.  I had the radio on MPR—the only station I could stomach.  They were interviewing Jonny Lang and playing his newest release.  I hummed along to it as it was undeniably catchy.  Hard to believe he was only twenty-two with a full-throated growl like that.  He was cute, too, but apparently married.  I shook my head to rid myself of these random thoughts and concentrated on the road.  It wasn’t easy to do as my arm was screaming at me to stop moving, but I managed to make it in one piece.

I parked in what used to be The Ruminator’s, nee, Hungry Mind’s parking lot, missing Hungry Mind fiercely.  I put my sling on before I forgot it, then got out of the car.  I walked into Avalon, studiously avoiding looking at the space where Hungry Mind used to be.  In Avalon, I wrinkled my nose at the scent of jasmine incense lingering in the air.  I liked incense as much as the next person, but it was a bit too heavy in Avalon to be comfortable for me.  I held my nose as I looked through the cards.  I hated ninety-five percent of the tripe that was being marketed, but Avalon usually had a good selection.  This time was no exception.  After I chose a card, I headed for the magnet section.  I knew that I wanted to get him the ‘erotic’ kit, but I also had to find something that he could open in front of the family.

I walked through the whole store, looking at postcard packets, candles, little books, body lotions.  Nothing that spoke to me of Rafe.  I knew that I could go to Victoria’s Secret and buy a teddy, wear it for him, and he’d be perfectly happy.  That wasn’t what I wanted to do, however, especially not with my arm bandaged as it was.  I went over to the journal section and took a look.  Not that Rafe had ever expressed an interest in writing, but I thought he had a bit of the poet in him.  Avalon had a nice collection, but they seemed mostly geared towards women.  I highly doubted that Rafe would feel comfortable with an ‘Emily’ journal or one with a quote about women on the front.  Not that he would be embarrassed, exactly, but his vague sense of machismo would be slightly offended.  Then he would feel guilty since he believed himself a feminist and would tote the damn thing around everywhere to prove a point.  No birthday gift should inspire that kind of guilt, so I circled the store one more time.

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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.

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