Tag Archives: Brian

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 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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Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter one, part two

“Hey, girls!”  Delia Booth bounced over, and I do mean bounced.  She wasn’t wearing a bra as usual, and her thirty-eight double-Ds were very happy to see us.  She’s the newest edition to our happy animal family, and she’s still perky after working at this shit-hole for two weeks.  She must either be lobotomized or strung out on Valium.  Her dark brown hair was perfectly in place as was her makeup, even though she had just finished the same shift as Lydia and me.  She smiled a thousand-watt smile while covertly studying herself in the mirror.

“What’s up, Delia?”  Lydia asked in a bored tone.  I continued to primp, not bothering to greet Miss Homecoming Queen 1996 of Salinas High, thank you very much.  It was the first thing she told me when I met her right before informing me that Salinas High was somewhere in the great land of California.  I told her that even in Minnesota, we had geography lessons.  That had sailed right over her head.

“Just wanted to see if you girls would like to grab a drink?”  Delia had her hand on her slim hip and an expectant look on her face.  “I know it’s a school night, but I thought it’d be fun to get to know each other.”  I detected a hint of loneliness underneath the good cheer, but I decided to ignore it and take her words at face-value.

“Sorry, I got a hot date tonight,” I said, grinning evilly at her.  “When I get Rafe for the night, there’s no going out for us.”

“You are bad, girl,” Lydia said admiringly, slapping palms with me.  “Though I’m the same when I ride the Brian express.  No stopping that ride.”  We smirked at each other, ignoring the bewildered look on Delia’s face.  Lydia and I were not exactly friends, but we had more in common than most of the regulars.  “Not me, Del.  I have dinner at Mother’s tonight.”  She grimaced, unable to hide her distaste.  She told me that one Christmas, her mother stood on the table and did the can-can in honor of the movie Moulin Rouge.  Of course, this was after three or four highballs or whatever the hell it was that she drank.  Mrs. Wilkerson was a functioning alcoholic by day, a raging alcoholic by night.  Lydia has accepted that her mother was going to die fairly soon at the ripe old age of fifty-three.  I didn’t see how she could accept the news with such equanimity, but I admired her for it.

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