Saturday, June 23, 2012
Sunday, June 17, 2012
"Are you okay?" Since she was now doing the prison visits to her boyfriend, Maxine's daughter had abandoned the rainbow hair for a platinum blond look with dark roots. She saw me staring into the storage room, and came out of her apartment. "What is it, mice? You'd think that good-for-nothing cat would—" Her words trailed off in a gasp. She stood next to me, and stared.
"Close it! Close it! Lock the door. We've got to call the police." She kicked the door closed, and I locked it, and followed her back to her apartment. I was too shocked to say a word. Not that Hope would have heard me. "It's him." She said, pacing back and forth. "I told her she was crazy to let him stay there."
I went to Hope's phone, and pulled the fresh business card Gonick had given me out of my pocket. Groucho's cage had been installed in one corner of the small front room. He craned his white-masked green-feathered head sideways to fix me with a glare from beady black eyes. As I walked past to get to the phone, he spread iridescent green wings wide in alarm.
While I was talking to the man who answered the phone in Homicide, Groucho let loose a shriek so deafening that the man asked if I was in any immediate danger. "No, it's a somebody's pet macaw. But I do need to talk to Gonick, tell him it's about the ice axe."
Hope paced back and forth muttering to herself. I had never seen her so agitated. I wondered if Gonick had even had time to get down to Police Headquarters with Griff. After I hung up the phone I meditated briefly about my little talk with Gonick about searching Nina's apartment. I put a call in to the local lawyer Ambrose had suggested. I got her answering machine. I looked at my watch. It was 6:30.
"It's that slimy creature that's living with Mom," Hope said heatedly. "He's killed before you know."
Sunday, June 10, 2012
There will be free book prizes and surprises!
Now, here's the weekendly excerpt from At Large, soon to be published for the first time in ebook form by Pearlsong Press, Josephine Fuller discovers the body of Francesca Etheridge, the woman who broke up her marriage. The police grill Jo about an ice, missing from the murder victim's climbing gear. Back in her apartment Jo decides to put her nervous energy to work:
Finding Francesca like that had riled me up so that I couldn't sit still. It was impossible to return to sorting things. I decided to take some of the boxes of Nina's things down to the basement and bring up some of my things that had been sitting patiently for years waiting for me to settle down. A little heavy lifting would probably calm my nerves, or at the very least exhaust me so I could collapse.
The storage room occupied the end of the building, and took some space away from Mulligan's apartment and Maxine's daughter Hope's apartment which faced it across the hall. As I came down the stairs into the basement, I could hear Groucho, the macaw, warming up with some preparatory shrill cries. It must be intolerable when he let loose a major shriek in Hope's small, windowless apartment.
I put the boxes down and opened the storage room door, feeling around for the string that would turn on the overhead light bulb. The room was crowded with some furniture that Nina had stored there. A table and three stacked chairs pressed up against the stacks of boxes that held all my earthly possessions. Nina had kindly stored them for me, at first when I was following Griff around the world and lately since I'd been traveling on the job for Mrs. Madrone.
An oddly angled shadow sprang into view when the light bulb went on. I realized with a sinking feeling at the pit of my stomach what it was. The cardboard packing box just inside my door had my name in black felt marker with the word "BOOKS" below it. An ice axe, its leather harness trailing, was embedded in the front of the box right below the label, its claw end half buried in the corrugated cardboard, and a thin layer of dried blood coating the edges of the point of penetration.
Saturday, June 2, 2012
"He is such a kidder," Maxine said with a chuckle, not exactly a girlish giggle, but her voice was normally so husky that I guess it counted as a giggle. I gazed at her in astonishment. If I hadn't just seen it, I could never have imagined Maxine allowing that kind of threat-in-joke's-clothing about her beloved and fragile, if totally cantankerous, Groucho.
"Josephine Fuller, meet Dick Slattery," she said fondly, running her fingers along his muscular forearm. I murmured hello, still wondering at Maxine's new incarnation as sixty-going-on sixteen. The guy had a certain muscular resemblance to Popeye the Sailor, although I'd eat a can of spinach on the spot if he turned out to be a hard-working, good-natured type. Dick Slattery was not tall. Maxine was short, and his chin dug into her shoulder. His hair was brown, shot with gray and thinning. His face was carved down to a leanness that reminded me of a coyote, maybe it was the predatory yellow eyes. Maxine would be the rabbit in that scenario. Maxine looked totally dazed and blissful. If she was a rabbit, she was a happy rabbit.
I turned to go as Slattery pulled Maxine back in the door. He reached across her to pull the door closed, but as he did, he looked at me one more time and winked. I shook myself, realizing I was standing on the stairwell like—well, like a hypnotized small mammal. Not good. The guy gave me an anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach that was the opposite of erotic.
Groucho, at least is safe, Maxine...not so much.