Cold Mac & Cheese and other musings

March 11, 2010

Dead Man’s Hand – III

Filed under: Creative Writing,Fiction — D.J. Lutz @ 2:06 am
Tags: ,

Curiosity having gotten the best of them, the intrepid Sunday afternoon poker club, minus one, arrived at the office entrance, just as the late Drake Shellman was being wheeled out to the ambulance. A sheet covered his body, little left to the imagination with dark red blood seeping through the fibers of the white sheet. The death had been a violent one.

“Geez, what the hell happened? He was only gone for a minute or two…” This was Bert, thinking out loud, not speaking to anyone in particular. He had seen plenty of blood as a manager at the Boot & Saddle, being a rough and tumble country bar and all, but he had never seen anything like this.

Trevor Lancaster chimed in a reality call. “If anyone finds out you’ve been skimming money from your bar, you could end up in the same boat, amigo.” Trevor’s British accent made his use of Spanish sound extremely sarcastic.
“Well, let’s just keep that down, will you? The less the cops know about any of us, the better. You’re no saint, either, you know…”

Seeing the gaggle of wide-eyed geese, Corporal Barrett approached them. Still not convinced it was just a plain suicide, he decided to throw a bone and see who went after it.
“It’s a shame. This guy must have had some real problems to want to do something like this…” Waiting for a few seconds, Barrett leaned slightly in towards the four men. “You guys know him? Any relatives around?”

“Yeah, we know him. That’s Drake. This is his place. I work for him on occasion, doing odd jobs mostly. He’s got a wife, ex-wife I think; she co-owns the marina with him.” Larry Oliver, currently living a life of carefree vagabondsmanship, had taken the lead in answering. He was cut short by the more formally dressed man, Bud Spencer.

“Yes, officer, we do know him, quite well. We get together on my yacht, every Sunday afternoon, to play a few hands of poker. (abruptly) No gambling, of course, just a friendly game. And Drake’s wife is named Sylvia. She’s not an ex, at least not yet. They’re legally separated. She’s on her way here now.”
Trevor looked stunned. “How did she know to come here? Did you call her?”
“Yes. After we heard the shot, I assumed something was wrong and called her. Relax Trevor, at least now your affair won’t have to be such a secret. I noticed that you didn’t call her. That’s telling.”

Trevor, by now hopping mad and itching for a fight, made a move toward Bud. Corporal Barrett grabbed Trevor’s arm, twisting it behind his back, with just a little more force than was necessary.
“That’s enough, boys. I think what we need to do now is settle down. I’ll take a statement from each of you. You first, Sluggo.”

Taking Trevor by the twisted arm, Barrett led him to the squad car. Listening more with amazement than taking notes, Dallas Barrett learned that almost every one of them had a motive to kill Drake Shellman. One by one, he took their statements, never letting them know that suicide would be the likely ruling.

Calvin Baxter returned to the office, Kay at his side. After learning of the circus atmosphere self-created by the motley card club, he chuckled. “No honor among thieves, I guess.” Barrett looked at him, replying “No kidding. All we need now is a dancing bear.”
Almost as if on cue, a very nice sedan pulls into the parking lot. The door opens and out steps Sylvia Shellman. Looking like she just came from the beach, she tosses her wet hair behind her head and adjusts her sun dress, slightly damp from the wet bathing suit underneath. Conversation stopped as she approached.

Sylvia ignored her dalliance, Trevor and instead went into the arms of Bud. He who has the biggest yacht wins, I guess. “Look officer, I’m sorry if the old man is dead, but we never had a happy marriage anyway so for me it’s no big loss. You want a suspect, look at one of these three,” pointing to Trevor, Larry and Bert.
“You little…” Trevor began. Calvin intervened before the exchange to hold.

“Alright,” Corporal Barrett began, “now that we know you all had something against Drake Shellman, there’s something I need to tell you…”
“Wait a minute.” Calvin’s mind was racing ahead. “How are these folks all connected?”
Dallas Barrett, scratching his chin like a man in deep contemplation, looked up at Calvin. “Here’s the short version. This here is Mr. Bert Tracey, manager of the Boot & Saddle. He’s been skimming profits from his own bar for years to pay for his poker games. Drake knew it and was blackmailing him.”
“Nice…” Calvin replied.
“Then we have Trevor Lancaster. He’s a big shot from England. Works for Consolidated Unlimited.”
“They’re the guys that want to develop that new mega resort property here, right?”
“Exactly. He was having an affair with Mrs. Shellman, trying to get a foot in the door to grab the deed to the marina land. That leaves these two, Larry Oliver and Bud Spencer.”
“And what’s their story?” Calvin was riveted by the whole, sordid ball of twine that had twisted this cast of characters together.
“Larry seems to be an innocent bystander, although he recently spent time relaxing at the graybar hotel so he may not be all that he seems. Currently he does oddjobs around the marina.”
“Last, we have Bud Spencer.”
“Mr. Yacht?”
“Right. Seems that when Mrs. Shellman found out that the Brit was playing her, trying to sweet talk her into selling her interest in the marina, she found Bud Spencer ready, willing and able to provide her “comfort” in her time of need. Hell hath no fury, you know…”
Calvin, looking at Sylvia and Bud, who had by now slipped off to the side of the office for some private time, offered “Must be another one of those “times.”

“Bottom line is that, barring something unexpected in his will, if he even had one, Sylvia Shellman is now the sole owner of the marina and she can do with it what she wants.”

“You gonna tell ‘em that the old guy did himself in?”

Corporal Barrett thought for a minute. “Yeah, I guess so. I was hoping that the crime scene would yield up a clue that pointed to murder. I mean, really, enough people wanted to off the guy, you know.”

Gathering the entire cast of characters, Officer Barrett announces that, while their stories are interesting, very interesting in fact, the investigation is pointing to suicide. All smiles, Sylvia chimes in.
“I have an announcement, too! I am selling the marina.”
Trevor interjected. “To Consolidated?”
“No. You lose Trevor. I am selling to Mr. Spencer. He represents a consortium of investors that want to develop their own resort AND casino.”
Looking at Kay, the new sole proprietor of the marina looked at her and told her she could keep her boat there as long as she wanted, until construction began.
“Not necessary, thank you. I am selling it “as is” to the first buyer with enough cash in his pocket.” Grabbing hold of Calvin’s hand, she added “I think I might jump ship to a better boat, anyway.”

“Corporal Barrett?” It was one of the crime scene investigators. “We need to talk.”
The two went off to the side, about ten feet away, and started talking in low tones. Every once in a while, Barrett would look up at the group. Calvin studied their reactions, trying to see who was going to go running. Clearly there is now more to the case than at first realized.

“Trevor Lancaster, you have the right to remain silent…”

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