Investigation, Photo by Gabriel Crismariu on Unsplash
Rita put the last plate of cookies on the table. She grabbed one and bite into it. The outside was crispy and the inside so melting. Once again, she had made them to perfection. She savored every nugget that melted on her tongue. If Bruce saw her, he would probably fight her. Although for some time now, he didn’t seem to pay much attention to her diet. Even a few days ago, she had swallowed two pieces of cake a few steps away from him and he didn’t see anything.
Maybe Andrews’ death had upset him more than she thought. He had been secretive lately, and spent a lot of time in his van.
“Let’s get on with it! “Paula interrupted her thoughts. Rita turned her head towards her. Today Paula had decided to dress in red. She was wearing a bodysuit that was close to her body and made her shapes stand out. The red, danger, passion, blood, it was quite the nymph. She had gathered her hair into a studied bun. When you saw her, you would think she was on her way to a wedding, a cocktail party, but no, it was an ordinary day for Paula.
A doubt invaded Rita. What if the wolf was in the sheepfold, and what if Paula was not entirely innocent in Andrews’ death? She shook her head at the frightened look on the beautiful girl’s face. “Oh, oh, is anyone there? Where do we start?”.
Susan took her turn to speak: “We need a list of all the suspects! That’s how they do it in the movies. I brought back all the Riverside Gazettes from this year, there should be a picture of all the suspects. ».
Rita thinks, yes, that was a good idea. She took the corkboard out of the kitchen, unhooked the photos and shopping lists from it and balanced it between the table and the wall. “That’s it, we’ve got something to staple. So who would be the first suspect? His wife? In the movies, women are always the suspects. ».
Susan pouting, she didn’t see Martha committing a crime, but never mind. She took the stack of Riverside newspapers and looked. At the end of the third one, she came across a picture of Martha, all smiles, next to Sue. She cut the picture in half.
Rita pinned Martha’s picture, then rotated Sue’s picture between her fingers. “Sue is also a potential suspect, isn’t she? I mean, Andrews probably knew something about her that she would have preferred to hide? ». Susan nodded vigorously. She knew that Rita and Sue had a face-to-face hatred for each other, and she suspected Rita of hoping the old witch was indeed guilty. However, Sue had the makings of a killer, she wouldn’t have been surprised.
Paula grabbed the picture from Rita’s hands and stapled it to the board. “Sue, the number one suspect, yes!”.
After more than an hour of conversation, they concluded that almost all of Riverside Gardens was suspect. Andrews knew too much about most people, and while they didn’t know what the secrets were, many were glad that Andrews had taken their secret to the grave.
Rita led her friends to the door. She reminded them one last time of the plan. Susan would begin by questioning John, the man had many contacts with the DIY club and the bowling club of which Andrews was a member. Then she would question Martha.
Paula would question the new neighbor. She had jumped at the chance, and Rita knew that her desire to question the handsome 60-year-old was more about getting him into bed than finding any connection with Andrews’ death. But after all, pillow talk could work well. His second mission was to recruit French gardener Benjamin to spy on the locals.
The two friends, after agreeing to their missions once again, set off into the sunny streets of Riverside Gardens.
Well, now she had to go and find the little gardener Melanie. You can never have enough informants when you’re conducting an investigation.
When she saw Bruce’s Ute passing by the house, she was suspicious. Shouldn’t she have punched Bruce’s picture on the board? She hadn’t told her friends about Bruce’s absence the night of the murder. She had kept her suspicions quiet. It was an investigation she would conduct on her own.
Franck felt that his energy was beginning to diminish. He needed a new pill. The hedge trimmer was getting heavier in his hands. Sweat began to bead on his forehead. He put the device down and wiped himself from the back of his sleeve. Not well, he was not feeling well.
Water, he needed water, his mouth was dry. Where was his water? He had put it there, or here. He turned to Melanie, who was carefully gathering the leaves. She was trying to catch each little leaf. He liked a job well done, he was happy. But where was his water? He questioned her, she nodded, she had no idea. Without water, he was going to die…
Dying, like the wild cat. Yes, he was sure the feral cat was dead. It had disappeared. For years that cursed cat had been mocking them and now, since Andrews’ death, the cat had vanished into the wilderness. No more feral cat, Franck felt empty. He wanted to catch it, look it in the eyes and shout his victory. Or maybe Andrews had killed the wildcat, and wounded by the beast he was dead. Oh yes, maybe the cat had killed Andrews? Well no, it had died naturally.
Thirsty, he was thirsty. He took off his cap, straightened his hair, it was wet with sweat. He blinked his eyes and muttered an inaudible sentence to Melanie before rushing towards his Ute. Mélanie watched him leave, shaking her head, what a character this Franck is.
Franck almost knocked Benjamin down as he returned to the work area. He did not apologize and left in a hurry. Water, a pill, and everything would be perfect.
He skidded while parking Ute in front of the Workshop, opened the door and rushed inside. His bottle wasn’t there, but he had one in the freezer. He opened it and grabbed the bottle of energy drink, he drank half of it. Wow, it was cold, freezing, it froze his brain cells. But it was so good, he was alive, alive.
He went to his locker, opened it and took the bag. His eyes became round. He only had two pills left, two… Tomorrow, he would have to do without pills? Impossible. He swallowed both at once, he had to find a solution.
While pacing up and down, he drank the rest of his bottle. To find a solution. To refresh his mind, he had to refresh his mind. He grabbed the compressed air hose and started blowing a good dose of fresh air on his face. Ah it was good, he felt like the fresh wind was refreshing his mind. Pssshhhhiiiit Pshhhhiiit, he liked the sound. Suddenly he had an idea. He knew who could help him.
Bruce, he was going to see Bruce.
Sue roamed the streets of Riverside Gardens driving the electric Buggy. She looked satisfied. It was a really nice day. The sky was pure blue and the wind brought a light breeze that brought just the right amount of coolness.
She went around Murray street and slowed down. Franck’s work was outstanding. The bushes were all perfectly trimmed and there wasn’t a leaf left on the ground. Really, if three years ago she had been told she would be so pleased with Franck, she wouldn’t have believed it.
The most surprising thing was how fast he had been working lately. What used to take him two or three weeks was now done in a week or less. Would he have been riding her all that time on his abilities? No, something had changed, and it was for the best. Besides, the new team of gardeners also seemed to be willing. Well, she was a little wary of the little Frenchman, he seemed to have a tendency to let himself live a little. He was a man after all, one should never trust men. Even Pete had ended up betraying her.
She drove this dark idea out of her mind, and concentrated on the positive. It couldn’t have been a better day. Oh, the wildcat too, gone! Everything was smiling at her right now. Andrews’ death had been a godsend, then the wild cat that disappeared almost at the same time, and the gardeners who were beginning to be so efficient! Even Pete was being taken care of at the moment, he had so much to make up for that she could lead him by the nose.
Sue continued her tour of inspection, she greeted John who never took off his cowboy hat. She passed Paula, all dressed in red, who was standing in front of the house of James Court, the new neighbor. She sensed that the mermaid still had an idea in her head. Did she need all the men in the residence? What was her problem? Deep down, she felt the hatred running through her veins, this woman was everything she hated in this world. She would bring her down.
And there it was, that sucker had managed to taint her good mood again. She hit the gas pedal and left for the office. As soon as she parked, her phone rang. A text message. Unknown number.
“You thought your secret would be buried with Andrews? ». A shiver ran down Sue’s spine. Her day had just taken a whole new turn.
Susan hesitated one last time and turned onto Collie Road, 32, where John lived. Why John? Why had she volunteered to question the man in the hat? For a second, she thought back to the intense gaze they had exchanged at Andrews’ funeral. She remembered the shiver that had invaded her, the turmoil that had arisen in her pelvis. She was trying to repress all those memories. Ashamed and guilty, she thought back to Rick and the loving glances they exchanged after decades of marriage. She wouldn’t relive that love again. She would never do it again.
Arriving in front of the front porch, she stepped back. Did she feel capable of playing the interviewer? She had always dreamed of it, but would she be up to it? In front of Rita, she hadn’t even had the courage to mention Bruce. Rita’s husband was one of the main suspects, yet he was absent from the corkboard. Rita would be devastated if he turned out to be guilty. Susan was going to investigate on her own to preserve her friend. Or maybe Paula could help her, her history with Bruce would not be too much to understand the character.
Her finger pressed the doorbell. The door opened almost immediately, as if John was spying on her through the door peephole. She pointed to her toaster with a confused look on her face. He looked at her intensely and invited her in, yes he could help her fix her toaster. Did she want something to drink? Tea, coffee or something a little stronger. She opted for a glass of scotch, he looked at her with surprise. The woman was far less naive than he thought.
They began to sip the caramel liquid. The bitterness of the whisky burned Susan’s throat, but she loved the sensation. The conversation quickly shifted from the toaster to banalities, and then Susan moved on to the attack. Under the guise of worrying about John’s morale, she questioned him at length about his relationship with Andrews. As a partner in bowling and a DIY friend, John knew little about Andrews in other contexts. The man in the hat preferred to keep superficial relationships here, he had lost too many friends, and he didn’t want to get attached to lose them again.
Susan thought he looked innocent, and her instincts told her that he was probably innocent. Still, she wanted to stay here a little longer, to find out more about him. She said she felt a strong urge and walked out into the hallway. One look over her shoulder to make sure he wasn’t following her, and she rushed into the room. She’d seen that in the movies, except that she thought she was being silly. What was she looking for? Faced with such an ordinary room, what object could put her on the trail of a clue?
She didn’t dare touch anything. Her feet directed her towards the dresser, she contemplated the photos of the younger John, beside a beautiful brunette with a scowling look on her face. Her gaze stopped on a black frame in which John was surrounded by his entire family, the brunette had disappeared. She grabbed the photograph, and scanned the old man’s face. He was what, maybe five years younger. He looked happier. She had never seen John with her grandchildren, he never had visitors. Strange.
As she put the frame back on the dresser, a voice startled her. It said, “Are you visiting? ». She turned around, tomato red. No malice was visible on her face. He even smiled and his eyes had the same radiance as at the funeral. She babbled confused words, toilets, deceived, photos, curious. He shook his head and reassured her, he was not angry with her, he too was curious.
He approached in muffled footsteps, she watched him move forward, as if petrified. She didn’t have time to move backwards, he grabbed her neck and kissed her.
Paula watched Sue’s electric cart pull away. Her teeth chattered as she thought of the old witch. Since her arrival, there had been open war between them. Sue was not happy about Paula’s nighttime activities… and daytime activities, too. As for Paula, she loathed Sue’s strict dress, the perfection she tried to achieve in vain, her stern look, the look of a boarding school janitor. She had nothing to reproach her for, she just didn’t like her.
The buggy was already far away when she looked at James’ house one last time. Regretfully, she walked away. She would have liked him so much to have arrived, to have been there, and to have welcomed her inside. The desire to find out more about this handsome man was starting to drive her crazy. Since their moment at the funeral, she hadn’t seen him again, hadn’t seen him again, hadn’t seen him at all. Nothing, not a sign of life. Had he disappeared in his turn?
She fantasized about meeting him, if he opened the door to her, she would cringe, she would put forward her charms. And she would have him. Like the others, she would have him. But she would slowly devour him, she would revel in him, she would keep him under the sheets until the end.
Resigned, she moved away from the house of the beautiful new neighbor. So what next? Ah yes, the beautiful gardener. That would be her little consolation prize. She could only touch it with her eyes, but it was better than nothing.
Susan had told her that the gardeners were working at the back of Murray Street, a few steps away, she put her cleavage back in place and headed for the area. Franck’s Ute passed by her at full speed, messing up the bun she had hours to do. Ah that one, a real public danger.
The young man was lifting a large bucket of leaves. His arms gilded by the sun shone with sweat. His muscles swelled with every movement. Paula took off her sunglasses to better enjoy them. Her gaze lingered on every vein, every grain of skin. She admired his muscular torso through the sweaty T-shirt. A shiver ran through her pelvis. Her tongue slipped over her lips. Her gaze went up to the young man’s face, she detailed his features. He had large black eyes and brown, almost black hair. A veil passed through her eyes, reminding her of her first and only love.
Benjamin looked at her with a smile on his face. In hesitant English, he asked her if she wanted something. She beckoned him to join her behind the porch of 56. After a moment’s hesitation, he put down his bucket and joined her.
She put her hand on his solid shoulder. Her phalanges felt the firm muscles, she closed her eyes, thinking of the sensuality of such a lover. When she reopened them, the young man had broken free from her embrace and looked at her frightened. “I don’t want to hurt you, little one. Would you be interested in making a little more money? ». At her words, he almost jumped back, he shouted words in French. She understood the misunderstanding. No, no, she didn’t want him for sexual services. She was aware that she was far too old. But deep down she was offended.
Reassured, he questioned her, what should he do? Paula smiled and told him the plan.
Bruce finished dosing the mixture. That was better. Normally it should do no harm, only good. He had had to revise his recipe, it was impossible for him to forget that Andrews had probably died because of him. He put the whole thing in the oven and contemplated the rest of the van. No one could suspect anything.
He picked up his hammer, grabbed one of the last ten planks and started to fix the last floorboards. His little van gem was almost finished. A few more days of work, a little decoration and they could hit the road. Sometimes he wondered if he would take Rita along. After all, did she really want to come? After the disappearance of his first van, he sometimes doubted it.
But he had bounced back, and this van would be even better than the last one. Power steering, luxurious interior, with separate shower and toilet, a sofa, and a separate bed, it would be a real little nest for the two of them. He shook his head, he couldn’t leave without Rita. It would be like leaving without gasoline, impossible, she was his fuel. And if there were ups and downs, she was his little wife.
However, he would have to be quick. Bruce didn’t have much time, he could feel the vise tightening. He had never found the pills he had hidden. Investigating was too complicated and would raise suspicion. Besides, no one had had a heart attack since then. Everything was fine.
No, everything was not all right! Rita and her friends set out to find the murderer. He had tried to dissuade his wife, telling her that Andrews had died of a simple heart attack, but she was clever and knew that if a heart attack had occurred, it had undoubtedly been provoked.
And now the Sherlock Holmes apprentices were meeting in his living room to work out plans. They had done everything for it, they had even transformed the corkboard in the kitchen into a police investigation board. The pictures of almost the whole village were glued, pinned or stapled, there was hardly any space left. Yes, almost all of them, except for the three friends and him.
At first, he was relieved not to be on the board. For them, he was not suspicious, so much the better. He knew the three grandmothers well, and he knew they were resourceful in turning Riverside Gardens upside down and finding out the truth.
But first he had noticed that Susan looked at him in a strange way, her usually so elusive look was more direct, colder, she sometimes probed him with her gaze, as if to read his thoughts.
And Rita was way less discrete. Rita’s gaze became more and more suspicious. She couldn’t help but ask him where he was going, what he did with his days. He felt that she could hardly believe it. Oh, yes, he was going to have to be very clever if he wanted to keep his secret from the three Sunday investigators.
Knocks on the van door interrupted his dreams. He turned around and opened the door on a sweaty Frank, his face twisted in panic.
More next week…
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