1. Larry the Lecherous
“Our Christmas party will be at McGuire’s Irish Pub. I expect to see you there.” My lecherous boss patted my rear. “Sweet Molly McGuire Wine Cellar has a fabulous selection.”
“I don’t want to go, Larry,” I said.
“You will go, or you’re fired. Then you’d lose your health insurance.” He laughed. “Your dismissal wouldn’t bother me at all. Broads like you are a dime a dozen.” He slowly ran his hand over my butt. “Wear something sexy.”
I once again cursed my diabetes and the expensive medicine it required.
“Does your wife know you cheat on her?” I could not let this man get the better of me. I needed a job, not this kind of abuse.
“She knows her place. She is my possession. She doesn’t get to dictate to me.” He straightened his tie. “Bottom line is if you want to keep your job, you have to be a team player. I’m the team captain, so I call all the shots. Be at the bar by 7:00 p.m. or else.”
I prepared carefully, laying out my supplies before slipping into my black cocktail dress. I arrived early and waited at the bar.
Larry walked in with his best buddy, Mike the Human Resources Director. The two of them propositioned both the hostess and their waitress. The smart women turned them down.
I wondered how those two looked at themselves in the mirror. Hoping they wouldn’t see me, I turned my back to them. It didn’t work.
“Tina, get that luscious booty over here and join us,” Larry said.
I took a deep breath to calm my nerves. I knew without a doubt what had to be done. I slipped into the chair on Larry’s left, opposite the bar.
“What are you drinking?” Mike asked.
I held my glass of wine aloft. “Riesling.”
Larry snorted. “Can’t handle anything stronger, huh?”
Bristling, I chose my words carefully. “McGuire’s Irish Pub is world renowned for its wine. I would never dream of drinking anything else while I’m here. It would be a waste of opportunity.”
Larry leaned close and whispered, “We’ll have plenty of opportunity later.”
He had no idea. Instead of voicing that thought, I opted for a nonchalant response. “The night is young.”
I spotted our waitress coming this way with the men’s orders. I watched as Larry sipped his Cabernet Sauvignon.
Larry leered at the waitress, grabbing her arm. “This wine is almost as sweet as you. What time do you get off tonight, honey?”
“None of your business. Let go of me!” She jerked her arm from his grasp.
Taking advantage of the distraction, I sprang into action. As he cajoled her, trying to show off in front of Mike, I slipped strychnine into his expensive wine.
The waitress stomped off, and Larry had a good laugh with his buddy. I settled into my chair and waited.
Distracted, he downed the rest of his wine in a single gulp. That was the end of lecherous Larry.
2. The Collection
“Aunt Margaret, you can’t just lock people in your house and hold them hostage. That’s kidnapping.”
“I didn’t kidnap anyone. They all came here of their own free will.”
“Because you promised us coffee and cake,” Brenda said. “If we had any idea you planned to interrogate us, I doubt any of us would have come.”
Margaret Sample folded her arms over her chest and stared at her nephew. “Well, now that you’re here, you can figure out how one of these three stole $500 from me.”
Darrell sighed. “$500? Aunt Margaret, how did that happen?”
“We’ve played poker every Wednesday afternoon for the past three years—"
“You lost $500 in poker?”
“No,” Margaret said. “I won the poker match, but I had $500 in my desk drawer from a coin collector who bought that old coin collection my husband left me. Except that after the game it was gone.”
Alice slapped her hand on the sofa’s edge. “Well, I never. Just because you’ve misplaced some money, you’re accusing us? Under the circumstances, I think the poker club needs to call for your immediate dismissal.”
“I agree,” Olivia said. “I’d never steal anything. Let alone from a friend.”
“Me either,” Alice said.
“Aunt Margaret,” Darrel said. “You can’t just accuse someone without proof. Who else was here that day?”
She folded her arms. “No one. That’s why I called you here to be a witness.”
Darrell sighed. “Well, even if you’re right and it was stolen, I don’t think you have much of a case unless you actually find the money in their possession.”
Brenda’s eyes widened. “So now you want to search us?”
Darrell shook his head. “No, besides even if one of you did steal it, I doubt you’d be dumb enough to have it on you after three days.”
“I think it’s time we leave,” Alice said. “I don’t cheat at cards and I’m certainly no thief.”
They all started for the door when Darrel stopped them. “Wait a minute,” he said, putting up a hand. “Why don’t we all just try to figure out what happened. I’m sure my aunt just misplaced the money. Maybe one of you remembers seeing it while you were here.”
“Well, I certainly didn’t see anything,” Alice said. “I’m not the kind of person that snoops around in people’s cookie jars for money and jewelry.”
“Me either,” Olivia said. “Besides, Margaret, you’re always losing things. Remember when you lost that necklace and finally found it in your junk drawer?”
“I remember that,” Brenda said. “You probably just misplaced that $500 bill, too.”
“They’re right. Why don’t we all just look for it while we’re here.”
Margaret smiled. “No need for that now,” she said. “I already know who took the money.”
Who does Margaret suspect?
Solution: Brenda. She said it was a $500 bill, but those are very rare. But someone who collects antiques might have paid with one, which is what happened when Aunt Margaret sold her coin collection.
3. The Message
What is this? I unfold the scrap of blue paper left in my mailbox and stare at the words. Squinting, I scan the street. No one in sight. But why would someone hang around, waiting to judge my response? They deposited this and fled, obviously.
Uneasy – no, terrified – I hurry to my house. The three words, this message… what on earth does it mean? Questions I cannot answer, but which will pester me until I tackle them. I refold the paper and place it on my desk where I cannot ignore it, though I desperately want to.
I feared this would happen. That I would be found out. But not so soon.
The things we involve ourselves in…
Hours later, I can resist no longer. I carry a glass of wine, for comfort mostly, and gingerly pick up the note – lest it bite me – hoping it has transformed into something far less sinister. But the same three nonsensical words stare at me. Code for… what? I must now set about untangling this. I struggle but nothing pops out. Anxiety quashes my reasoning. Trembling, I drop into my chair and open a familiar app. I feed the words into the search box, one after another, and within seconds dozens of answers emerge, but only three use all the letters and make any sense.
Possession – Cheat – Dismissal
Horrified, I stare at the words. The first letters of each… my initials.
Piper Celeste Dugan
I grab my phone. At once, all the lights flash and the entire house plunges into darkness. “Who is it? Who’s here?”
“Great work, Piper.” The voice comes from behind me. A voice I know. Unable to stand, I swivel and see only a dark silhouette framed in the door. It’s him, come at last. “Let’s get started,” he suggests.
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“Oh, come now, I believe you know.” He flicks on a mini light beneath his chin, which only exaggerates his reptilian smile. “I’m surprised you considered yourself sole possessor of the jump drive, that you could cheat me out of our reward. Now we must prepare for your dismissal.”
Seconds tick by as we silently stare at each other. Why did I ever trust this man?
He steps forward but suddenly halts, just as a phump breaks the silence. His eyes widen, his face twists into a question. He keels over, thuds to the floor.
My eyes jump to the second intruder and a sigh escapes my lips. “I thought you’d never get here.”
***** tense, tight, twisty
I couldn’t put this one down. It kept me busy trying my hand at the puzzle. What fun! I can’t wait for more!
* just plain stupid
This has to be the dumbest story I’ve ever read. And I don’t do puzzles. I strained to give it one star. Putting this stuff out is just plain stupid.
4. Daphne and the Cheat
“Oh man!” I groaned as my phone woke me out of a sound sleep well before I needed to get up. The phone was hiding in the bed covers, I had fallen asleep with it again. I tossed around trying to find it, the activity set off my parrot, Jack. “Who ya gonna call? Squak!” ‘Shut up Jack”, I said, having found the phone just as it went to voice mail. I checked the call log. “Momma.” I muttered and crawled back into bed. Jack began to sing and so did my bladder. “Dang it”. I got up and got the morning routine going. Coffee, yoga, shower, bird chores and since I had extra time, thanks to momma, I decided to read. I ignored the timer I set to remind me when to get ready for work, it was a really good book. By the time I looked up I was running late. My boss, a nasty little man with a greasy comb-over would not be amused so I hurried.
I arrived for my shift at the Tower Club, a bougie restaurant/bar in the downtown area of Springhill, on time but just barely. I am a hostess. Most of my shifts are in the evening but it was my turn to work the split lunch/dinner. I brought my book for those 3 hours of unpaid midafternoon time. The lunch hour was just busy enough to make the time pass. I had just clocked out when Mr. Martin, the boss, called out to me. “Daphne, I need to speak with you now.” I hid my eyeroll and turned to face him. “Yes, Mr. Martin?”
“You’re fired, don’t come back today”. “Fired! Why? What’d I do wrong?” I was stunned. “Dismissal without cause, right to work and all that, I’ve found someone else for the position,” he replied and walked away.
I left and was sitting at the coffee shop about a block away, drowning my sorrows in a Double Mocha when a man walked over, hopped the railing between the sidewalk and seating area and said “Hi, I’m Sam and I can help you”. I just stared at him, speechless. He went on “I was at the bar and heard him fire you, I can help you get your job back.” “What’s the catch?” I asked. I would have been more freaked out in a less public place. “No catch. Mr. Martin is about to experience a reversal of fortune, you may as well get your job back before that happens,” he said.
I walked into work and straight into Mr. Martin. “I fired you!” I held up my phone which was scrolling pictures of Martin and a young woman. “I want my job back,” I said. He paled, realizing the meaning of the photos in my possession, “that’s blackmail!” “I prefer to think of it as negotiation with motivational visual aids,” I said. “The fact that you cheat on your wife is not my problem, being fired is my problem.”
“Now that’s ugly.” Jackie hadn’t seen such a grueling crime scene in her ten-year career with the coroner’s office. Their small town in Oregon didn’t have much corruption, so this was unexpected.
“You’re not kidding. Her body lost possession of her head.” John, her partner from the office pointed to the decapitated cranium on the floor.
It was true. The poor ladies head laid several feet from her body, which lay lifeless on the bed. “Who could have done such a thing?” Jackie saw Police Chief Morgan enter the room.
“I think we’re dealing with the same killer that struck a male victim in Portland a few weeks ago.”
“Are you saying we have a serial killer on our hands, Morgan?” Her heart sank to her stomach. Bile settled in her throat. She swallowed and pushed it down, but it threatened to rear its nasty head at any time.
“It could be, Jack, but there could also be no connection.”
She’d never let anyone other than her dad call her Jack, but somehow, she liked the way it sounded with Austin Morgan said it. Actually, she kind of liked him.
She shook her head. How could she be thinking about something like that when there was such a bloody scene in front of her. “I hope you’re right, but I hope y’all keep an eye out.”
“I’m not worried about it. I figure he’ll move on.”
His dismissal that the killer could still be around ruffled her feathers. “How can you not be worried about it, Austin? This could happen to someone else in our little community and you can stand there and tell me he’ll probably move on? Aren’t you going to do anything?”
“Don’t get your pretty little panties in a wad, Jack. I’ve got an APB out for any strangers in town, or anyone lurking where they shouldn’t be. I’ve got people on the lookout.”
Did he just tell her not to get her panties in a wad? “I don’t appr--.”
“Chief!” an officer interrupted, “Another body just two doors down. This time it’s a man.”
“I’ll be right there. How did we find out about it?”
“Anonymous caller, just like this one.”
“Damn.” He glanced at Jackie. “You be okay here?”
After his panties statement, now she saw honest concern in his eyes. Her heart melted at his worry. “Sure, my partner with me. I’ll be there as soon as we’re finished here.”
They continued the investigation. Then she noticed a word written in blood on the detached heads on forehead. “Cheat.” Her stomach churned.
“What?” John asked.
“Look.” She pointed to the word. “Do you think she was cheating on her husband, and he did this?”
After they were done, she followed John to the house of the other victim. She studied the decapitated head. “I think I might know who did this, Austin. It’s her husband. It was the same on her” She pointed at the bloody word. Cheat.
“Get up.” The cop said as he pushed her with his foot.”
As she did, he wondered if; indeed, it was a girl. She gave the words, covered with blood, a new meaning. “What’s going on here?”
The girl looked down at herself and the body beneath her. “Is that my blood or his, she asked.”
“You tell me.” he said.
She shrugged her shoulders.
“Last thing I remember, I was running for my life and I guess I tripped over him.”
“Running from what?”
Before she could answer, a detective arrived. “I’m Randolph; Homicide. What happened here?” He looked at the officer, “Call for backup. Blood splattered everywhere. Sirens whinned in the background. Red and blue lights lit up the night. No one said a word.
Randolph scanned the horizon. “What is that on top of the building over there. Geez. Got to be two blocks away. Get some men over there and take a look.”
The detective got down on one knee and took a better look at the deceased. “He had on a toupee, A cheap one.
“Randolph here,” the detective said as he answered his phone. “What did you find?”
The officer answered. “You’d have to see it to believe it.”
“Tell me anyway.”
“There is a pentagram up here. Looks like it is painted in blood. Looks like a primitive catapult. And I hate to say this but there is an evil vibe up here. I don’t see anyone, but I feel like I’m not alone.”
With in a minute the officer’s body flew through the air and landed on top of the dead man and the CSI working at the scene. The cop was dead. The CSI was unconscious. The girl laid under the cop screaming.
Randolph stood stunned. Others ran for the building in question.
A man came running around a building dressed like a vampire. Randolph tripped him. “I know you did this. You reek of the coppery smell of blood. Life would be easier if you confess.”
The suspect looked up. His eyes flashed white and then red.
“I think your possessed Randolph said.”
“Not possessed,” the man who looked like he just walked out of Transylvania yelled. “You have no idea who I am. I possess black magic you can’t comprehend.”
He raised both arms and hugged himself. All the police on the scene rushed him. All they got was an empty robe. The street went eerily quiet. The cars engines went dead. The lights on the squad cars went dark. A bolt of lightning streaked across the sky.
When the incident was over, the street stood empty. The bodies were gone, the blood no longer apparent and the streets were clear of law enforcement.
Randolph and the girl stood side by side and looked around. “No body will believe this.”
“Where is everyone?” The girl screamed as she looked about franticly.
Once again lightning ripped through the sky followed by an evil laugh.
Some things are better left alone.
7. Path To Rage
I never dreamed he'd cheat. His pious reputation was his most prized possession. The discovery of his deception and betrayal appalled me. My reactions shocked all who knew him- me most of all.
It was a crisp October evening when I pulled into our hidden driveway. I was anticipating his joy and surprise as I arrived a day early. I didn't recognize the strange vehicle parked in the first opening in the evergreens lining our drive. Partially hidden in the trees, the Jeep taillights reflected my headlights. I turned off my lights and pulled into the next clearing. I headed up the drive to our home with the Glock I always carried drawn. I wasn't sure what I'd encounter, but I was unprepared and shocked by the scene unfolding on my front deck. There in the moonlight were the intimately intertwined shadows of my husband of three years and, judging by the hairstyle- Rachel, one of the women who, as my professed friend, constantly chastised me for my fearlessness and spirit. Ironic; my bravery and soul were among the many traits Joseph always told me he loved and admired.
My mind was racing as well as my heart. Should I confront the cheaters or leave and say nothing? I quietly ran back to my Lexus LX to think or attempt to. My mind kept screaming, "Liars, Adulterers, I want you gone from my home!" After all, it was my home legally. It was in the prenup Joseph insisted we write up, so his assets remained his, and mine were mine. After his divorce, he was always afraid someone would take what he'd worked hard to get. As I slumped in the leather seats, I remembered the cameras we had installed and attempted to access them on my phone. They were offline - no surprise. Joseph prided himself on his cleverness and would leave no evidence of his adultery. His infidelity and complete dismissal of the vows we exchanged infuriated me. I am enraged and seeing red by now- blood red- his and hers!
I've never been violent, and betrayal is a product of a long life. I always managed to bury my anger and move on with my life. No more- I would tell them what I thought! I threw open my car door and ran up the path, sobbing as if my heart would break. They were still intertwined and didn't hear or see me until I chambered a round. The look on both of their faces was priceless. Strangely, neither of them attempted to cover their nakedness or speak. They just stared at my hand and their potential death. I saw them for their pure evil, and my only thought was justice is required- justice for their betrayal of me, our marriages, friendship, and the hundreds of imperfect lives their judgmental tongue wagging has ruined. I pulled the trigger twice and watched as the lifeblood drained from their cold hearts. I dialed 911 to confess my evil deed.