It was a warm windy day in early April, Detective James Andrews entered the downtown police precinct.
“Message for you,” the desk attendant said holding up a pink slip of paper.
“Thanks,” Detective Andrews said as he snatched the paper from the attendant and continued on to his desk.
Anonymous female caller reporting a death at the Cornerstone Estate off of Route 22. Deceased is Mrs. Emily Scott. Husband Mr. Donald Henderson.
Detective Andrews grabbed a cup of coffee with two sugars, a splash of cream, his notepad and a new black ballpoint pen. As he headed out to his car the desk attendant said.
“No rest for the wicked,” James flipped him off as he left the precinct.
It was a long drive out to Cornerstone, James switched on the radio, soft jazz played as he rolled down the window. The warm April breeze felt good, this winter had been fridged and unforgiving. He turned onto the driveway of the Cornerstone Estate and slowly made his way up to the two story farmhouse.
“Not sure why anyone would want to live this far out from civilization,” he mumbled to himself as he parked in front of the house.
“What do we have?” Detective Andrews asked the responding officer as he walked up the to the porch.
“Good Morning Sir, female 23, 5’6” red hair, green eyes identified as Emily Scott found deceased early this morning by her husband Donald Henderson,”
“Where was she found?” Detective Andrews asked.
“In the living room, she had sprained her ankle recently while out riding and was set up with a roll-away bed,”
They entered the living room making their way over to the roll-away bed that had been set up in the far corner next to the windows. James looked over Emily’s body, she was laying on the bed covered with a blanket. She could have been sleeping, except that her eyes were open and her lips had a slight blue color to them.
“And where is the husband now?” Detective Andrews asked as he closed Emily’s eyes.
“In the kitchen Sir,”
“Mr. Henderson, can you tell me about your wife Emily?” Detective Andrews asked as he took a seat across from Donald at the kitchen table.
“Emily was my heart, she loved this house, and to go riding, she was riding a stallion named Foxtail about two weeks ago when she was thrown, and sprained her ankle, which is why she was sleeping in the living room,” Donald answered.
“Was Emily depressed?”
“She was getting restless being stuck in bed while her ankle healed, but I don’t think she was depressed, her friend from college had been visiting and stayed to help out while she recovered,”
“Does this friend have a name and where abouts?”
“Laura White and she’s upstairs in the guest bedroom, she was very upset by Emily’s passing,” Donald answered.
“Miss White, Laura, my name is Detective Andrews may I speak with you for a moment about Emily?”
The door clicked.
Laura opened the door and let Detective Andrews into the guest bedroom.
“Thank you,” he said as he took a seat next to the bed.
Laura sat on the bed next to the nightstand and lit a cigarette, she took a deep drag before speaking.
“So what do you want to know?” she asked.
“How well did you know Emily?” Detective Andrews asked taking out his notepad and pen.
“Well, we were friends, we met at college, we both played for the women’s tennis team, and we shared an apartment towards the end of school,” she answered as she took another drag.
“Why did you come to visit Emily?”
“Because my ex-boyfriend is an asshole and I didn’t have anywhere else to go,” she said smashing her cigarette into the ashtray.
“How was Emily’s mood the last time you talked to her?”
“She seemed fine, maybe a little annoyed by how long it was taking her ankle to heal, I bought her breakfast that she ate, then I had to go run some errands, she was sleeping when I got back so I didn’t disturb her,”
“Thank you for your time Laura,” Detective Andrews said as he made his way towards the door.
Detective Andrews returned to the living room to look over Emily’s area. He looked through the side table that was closest to the bed, he found a red book with a gold rose embossed in the corner on the cover.
He thumbed through the book, it was full of journal entries written by Emily.
“Curious, hey come photograph this as evidence,” he asked the crime scene worker. He slipped it into an evidence envelope and took it with him.
James poured himself a Scotch and sat in his easychair.
“Ok, Emily lets see what you have to say,” he opened her journal and read.
Oh my God…I have met the perfect guy. So cute and funny. He’s my TA for Economics 412 I asked him if anyone called him Don and he said no. He will be an interesting one to get to know.
James sipped on his Scotch and thumbed through a few more pages.
Taking Donald home for Christmas to meet mom and dad. Hope it goes well, I really, really like him.
Yay! Wedding Day! I can’t believe it’s finally here.
I love my dad so much he gave me Cornerstone, to have as my very own. I hope Donald loves it as much as I do.
I am so happy, although Mrs. Newcome took forever to do the walk through at Cornerstone. But she’s mine and I am so ready to get to run the house and ride the horses.
James finished off his drink and poured another. He flipped further on into Emily’s journal.
So Laura White called out of the blue, giving me a sob story about her and Mitch. We have room and I don’t mind her staying for a little while.
Fuck, Dr. Edwards says my ankle isn’t broken just severely sprained. Can’t believe I am stuck downstairs in the living room. At least Laura is helpful.
I don’t know what Donald’s problem is, I am the one that can’t do anything. He’s spending a lot of time with Laura and I am starting to feel a little left out of the loop.
Who the hell does she think she is, this is my house. I knew I had heard something the other night. I carefully hobbled into the downstairs bathroom and I heard her. I heard her with him through the air vent.
“Well that’s what we call motive,” James said as he finished off his second Scotch.
Detective Andrews was sitting at his desk when he was handed a large envelope.
“Your background checks on Donald Henderson, Laura White and Emily Scott, as well as the autopsy results on Mrs. Scott”
“Thanks,” James said and opened the envelope.
He flipped through the pages, looking for anything that stood out. He read over the background checks and through the autopsy report.
“Wait a minute, St. Anthony’s orphanage for lost children, gotcha,” he gathered the papers and headed out.
Detective Andrews knocked on the door of the farmhouse on the Cornerstone estate.
“Yes?” Donald answered the door.
“Is Laura here?” James asked as he entered the house.
“Yes, she’s in the kitchen,”
Detective Andrews made his way to the kitchen with Donald on his heels.
“What’s this all about?” Donald asked.
“First and only chance to tell the truth, Laura,”
Laura turned around from the sink.
“What?” she said looking at Donald and James.
“Have a seat Laura,”
She sat at the kitchen table.
“Would you like to tell me about St. Anthony’s?” Detective Andrews asked.
“Can I have a cigarette?”
“Sure, have a seat Mr. Henderson this concerns you,”
Laura lit up and took a drag.
“What about it?” she asked.
“Did you know Donald at the orphanage?”
“Did he promise you something, for getting rid of Emily?”
“Now wait a minute, don’t say anything Laura,” Donald said as he stood up.
“Sit down Mr. Henderson, or officer Roberts here will help you sit down,” James motioned towards the doorway where two uniformed officers were standing. Donald took a seat.
“Laura, did Donald promise you something?” James repeated his question.
Laura’s hands shook as she tried to take another drag. She put the cigarette out and cleared her throat.
“Yes, he promised me a life with him, if I killed Emily,”
“How did you do it?” James asked.
“I crushed up her Valium and mixed it into her oatmeal, when she was sleeping I covered her mouth and nose, she struggled then she just stopped,”
“You do understand that you will be arrested for first degree murder,” James said.
“Really, meatloaf again?” Henry said as he sat down at the table.
Ruth smiled, poured him a glass of milk and sat down to enjoy her dinner. Henry took three bites, and tossed his fork on to his plate.
“You know what Ruth? I’m done, I’m done with your dried out meatloaf and with you,” Henry declared as he got up and retrieved a large manila envelope from his briefcase. He handed Ruth the envelope.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“Divorce papers, I will pick up my stuff on Thursday,”
“Where are you going to stay?” she asked
“I’m moving in with my girlfriend, Trixie,” he stated as he grabbed his coat and left.
“Well fuck me,” Ruth said to the empty room as she got up, got a wine glass and the bottle of red from the fridge. She sat at the table, poured a glass, and finished her dinner.
After finishing off the bottle of red and reading the divorce papers over and over again, Ruth passed out on the couch in the living room.
Ruth woke up with a stiff neck and a screaming headache. She didn’t drink often and polishing off the bottle of wine did her in. Stumbling into the bathroom and finding the shower Ruth stood in the water evaluating her life with Henry.
After college, Ruth started volunteering for St. Anthony’s hot lunch program, she enjoyed being a part of her community and had majored in Culinary Arts along with a minor in Social Work. When she started Brenda Pierce was the cornitator of the lunch program, she helped Ruth learn the ropes of using the budget responsibly along with the donated non-perishables to make up monthly menus. As well as how to manage the volunteers, St. Anthony’s served hot lunch four days a week and a bagged lunch on Fridays, open to anyone in the community. Ruth enjoyed helping with and then running the program when Brenda moved on.
It had been about six months in to Ruth’s time at St. Anthony’s when Brenda suggested that Ruth should meet her cousin Henry. He was in banking and had just taken a manager position at First City Bank and Trust. Ruth hesitated at being set up with someone at first, but Brenda’s insisting finally got her to agree to one dinner in public. The evening of the set up Ruth dressed nicely, but kept it casual, in a blue top and black slacks. She left her dirty blonde, shoulder length hair down, adorned with a single blue rose clip on one side.
Promptly at six Henry knocked on the door to her modest one bedroom apartment. He was dressed in a white button down shirt and a pair of black dress pants. They had dinner at a retro 50’s dinner downtown, it’s decor popped with a paisley blue and pink coloring accented in black stripping. After being seated Henry ordered a steak medium rare with all the fixings and Ruth had a Cobb Salad with thousand island dressing on the side and a cup of Clam Chowder. They ate and made small talk about life goals, family and the future. Although Ruth was distracted by the rareness of Henry’s steak, not sure how anyone could eat such a bloody piece of meat. She enjoyed a good steak just didn’t care for it to be oozing so much redness.
The next morning Brenda asked for details of the ‘date’ Ruth said that it was nice, he was cute and yes maybe she would see him again.
Ruth stepped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around herself, she wiped the mirror off and looked at herself. If he can move on then so can I… And what kind of a name is Trixie?
Ruth and Henry dated for the next year and shortly after her 23rd birthday she married Henry Pierce, her only stipulation was that she would keep her maiden name of Davis. Because she just didn’t like how Ruth Pierce sounded, Henry agreed and they had a small wedding of family and friends. She enjoyed married life, they got along, had friends went out every other weekend and had a nice home just outside of town.
As Ruth got dressed to go in to work she did reflect back on the last year and how Henry may have become more distance than before. They went out less and he worked more, last time they went out to dinner was her 30th birthday which was well over four months ago. When did we even have sex last… Considering that she couldn’t recall the last time, maybe their marriage had slipped away without her noticing.
Henry pulled the old samsonite suitcases out of the back of the walk in closet and started to pack up his belongings. Ruth stood in the doorway of the master bedroom sipping on her third glass of wine.
“So how’s Trix?” she asked.
Henry slightly caught off guard by her tone stopped folding the clothes and looked over at her.
“She’s fine, she is young, active, fit, beautiful and makes me happy,” he answered.
“Well then, what does she do, besides make you happy?”
“She’s an exotic dancer out at The Royal Flesh, if you must know,”
“She’s a stripper?” Ruth about choked on her wine.
“I need the divorce papers signed by Monday,” he said as he finished packing up and got ready to leave. He set his house keys on the kitchen counter on his way out.
Ruth entered the warm musty smelling club, not quite knowing why she wanted to get a look at this Trixie person. A petite fit looking woman with short red hair rushed by her carrying a tray of drinks.
“I’ll be with you in a moment, take a seat anywhere,”
Ruth chose a table that faced the main stage.
“Hey sweetie, my name is Jade, what can I get for you?”
“A white wine, and is Trixie here tonight?” Ruth asked.
“She sure is, should be on stage in a bit,”
Ruth sipped her wine while she surveyed the crowd of people. She took note of the guy with the tattoo on his forearm talking to a redhead, and a tall skinny guy in need of a haircut talking to the bartender. The announcer came on.
“Please welcome to the main stage our naughty schoolgirl, Trixie,”
Ruth watched the tall slender woman with long raven black hair, twirl herself around the pole. She was dressed in a short schoolgirl plaid skirt and an unbuttoned white blouse. She danced around the stage losing the shirt and then the skirt, leaving her in a dark blue g-string and bra.
“Can I get you anything else?” Jade asked as she passed by Ruth’s table.
“Do you have a champagne room?”
“Actually, we do, it’s cash only one hundred dollars a bottle, who would you like to drink with?”
“Her,” Ruth pointed to the main stage where Trixie was finishing up her act.
“I will set that up for you, give me a minute,”
Trixie dressed in her schoolgirl uniform and carrying a bottle of champagne approached Ruth’s table.
“You asked for a bottle?” she said holding the bottle up.
“Yes, I did.”
“This way please,”
Trixie led Ruth towards the back of the main stage and turned down a hallway, she opened the door to a room lit by a red glow.
“Have a seat,” Trixie pointed towards a couch in the corner as she closed the door behind them. Ruth took a seat while Trixie popped open the champagne and turned on some soft music.
“Here you go,” she handed Ruth a glass of champagne.
Trixie swayed back and forth in front of Ruth, running her hands through her long dark hair.
“So sweetie, what do you like,” Trixie asked.
Ruth took a sip of the champagne, setting it down on the side table.
“I like you,” she said moving forward and running her hands up the outside of Trixie’s bare legs.
Trixie smiled at Ruth, leaned down and kissed her gently on the lips. Trixie straddled Ruth’s lap moving back and forth against her. Ruth opened Trixie’s blouse and caressed her breasts, Trixie leaned back and let out a moan.
“So how far can we take it in here?” Ruth asked kissing Trixie’s neck.
“Not nearly far enough,” she answered sliding her hand in between Ruth’s legs.
“There’s a Westside motel off of route 21, meet me there in an hour,” Ruth said.
“Sure,” Trixie agreed kissing Ruth deeply before leaving the champagne room.
As Ruth was leaving The Royal Flesh she watched Trixie having a heated discussion with the guy that was in need of a haircut at the bar.
Henry knocked on the door of what use to be their house promptly at eight.
“Here you go,” Ruth handed him a manila envelope.
“Thanks,” Henry was slightly taken aback by her abruptness.
“No time for a coffee?” he asked.
“Why not, for old times sake,”
They sat at the kitchen table sipping their coffees.
“So, how’s the new life going?” she asked.
“Really, no red flags going up about anything,”
“Why are you being cryptic?”
“Do you even know her?”
“I’m getting to know her,”
“Just don’t do anything stupid,”
“Don’t marry her, you can play house with her and you can fuck her, just don’t marry her,”
“Hey, Jade can you give this to Trixie when she comes in?” Ruth handed Jade a plain white envelope with a single blue rose embossed in the corner.
“Sure, I don’t think she’s in till after 8 though,”
“That’s fine, thanks,” Ruth left The Royal Flesh.
Ruth was waiting in room 14 at the Westside Motel, at a quarter to one there was a knock on the door. She answered it.
“Come in, come in, thanks for coming,” Ruth kissed Trixie on the cheek as she entered the room. Ruth closed the door, and wrapped her arms around Trixie kissing her deeply.
“I made cupcakes, would you like one,”
Ruth handed her one, it’s chocolate with a buttercream frosting. Trixie took a bite.
“Mmm…it’s good,” Trixie said while trying not to get crumbs all over. Ruth smiled at her.
Trixie felt a strange warmth wash over her, she tried to swallow and found that her lips and tongue were swelling up.
“What the..” she tired to say as she became light headed and fell to the floor.
Detective James Andrews stood in the doorway of room 14 at the Westside Motel.
“What do we have on this fine autumn day?” he asked sipping on his coffee.
“Deceased woman identified by her license as Beatrix Holiday, 25, of 452 West Ridge Dr. apartment #3 Overland, apparent cause of death was anaphylactic shock due to the peanut butter frosting on the cupcake, Sir,” the responding officer stated.
Detective Andrews stepped into the room and looked over the body.
“Was she registered to this room?”
“No, the room was paid for in cash by Laura Hunt,”
Detective Andrews laughed to himself.
“It’s a fictitious name from a movie,” he answered.
“Let’s dust the room and see if there is any security footage available,”
~ ~ ~ ~
It had been a week since Beatrix Holiday’s body had been found at the Westside Motel, and Detective Andrews was no closer to an answer as to why she was there and exactly what had happened.
“Sir, forensics report on the Holiday case, ” Officer Roberts handed him the file.
“Thanks,” James thumbed through the report.
Cause of death anaphylactic shock caused by a trace amount of peanut butter found in the butter cream icing. Four individuals prints found in room 14, Beatrix Holiday, Jade Matthews, Shane Henderson, Ruth Davis.
He looked over the security photos from Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, one car was parked in front of room 14 on Tuesday night. One car that matched up with one person’s prints, James grabbed his notepad and a ballpoint pen.
James knocked on the door of the older ranch style house that sat just outside of town.
“Mrs. Ruth Davis?”
“Hello, I’m Detective James Andrews and I would like to ask you a few questions about last Tuesday night, do you mind if I come in?”
Ruth smiled at him and held the door open.
“Would you like some coffee?” she asked.
“Yes, that would be very nice, thank you,”
James took a seat at the kitchen table while Ruth started a fresh pot of coffee. He looked her over running his eyes up and down her hourglass figure. Her hair was pulled back into a french twist, she was wearing an a line navy blue skirt that came to her knee, dark stockings, a black pair of heels and a light blue silk blouse with the top two buttons open.
“Cream and sugar?” she asked.
Ruth set the cup of coffee down in front of James and took a seat across from him. He took a sip of the coffee and smiled at her.
“Mmm…it’s good, much better than the stuff at the office,”
“So detective what’s on your mind,”
James gave her a grin and pulled out his notepad and ballpoint pen.
“You’re an intelligent, beautiful lady, Ruth, I think you know why I am here,”
“I may, James, can I call you James?”
“Sure, Ruth, you can call me James, so do you enjoy classic films?”
“As a matter of fact I do, James, have you seen Nightingale?”
“Yes, Ruth, I have, which is how I know it was you that used the name Laura Hunt at the Westside Motel last Tuesday night,”
Ruth took a sip of her coffee.
“Well aren’t you clever, James,”
“How did you know Beatrix Holiday was allergic to peanuts?”
“She had a medical ID keychain that identified her allergen, I happen to see it when we were together Saturday night,”
“Were you having an affair with Beatrix?”
“Nope, my husband was, he left me for her,”
James finished his coffee, closed his notepad and put his ballpoint pen back into his breast pocket.
“Here’s the thing Ruth,” he took her hand in his and looked into her eyes.
“Right now this is not a murder case, it’s an accidental death,”
She smiled at him and gave his hand a light squeeze.
*to be continued*