“It’s confirmed. The call came from the widow’s house.” Hawkman said.
“And?” Jennifer’s eyes begged for answers.
“I went by her place. She’s…. missing.”
“Do you think it’s her?” Jennifer stood chopping broccoli.
“I have my doubts. The rancher’s missing too.”
“Think he’s in on it?”
“Maybe.” Hawkman took a swig of milk. “But you know what puzzles me the most? There are four people who live up on Topsy Grade. The widow. The rancher. The guide. And, the old hermit. All missing.”
“You think foul play is involved?” Shocked, Jennifer stopped her chopping.
“Doc Harrison’s assistant said that a panicked woman called late last night. Something about a horse caught in a hunter’s trap.”
“Woman? The widow.” Jennifer said convincingly.
“I thought so too, at first.” He closed his eyes, feeling dizzy. “But then I started asking questions. I found out that Topsy Grade is owned by two parties.”
“Honey, you okay?”
“One half is owned by…” He stumbled toward Jennifer. “…Doc Harrison. Someone wanted him out of the picture.”
“But who would…”
“Your father left you his half of the land, did he not?” Hawkman felt his stomach rumble. His vision began to blur.
“No, besides we all came to the conclusion that this one will never sell on its own. Who wants to buy half a mountain? Besides, dad wanted those nice people to have the land, not me.”
“With the Doc dead, the whole damn mountain goes to you, as his will states. But, I bet you knew that already. Didn’t you, baby?” Hawkman looked her directly in the eyes. She looked offended.
“Wait one goddamn minute. What are you implying? What would I have to gain? That place is a no man’s land. Everyone knows that. Doc Harrison was like a father to me!”
“Speaking of which, I am beginning to have doubts as to whether or not your father really died in that skiing accident last year.” Hawkman glared at her.
“You’ve gone from fantasies to lies in a matter of minutes. Have you forgotten that I am your wife? Your right hand? I have helped you with your investigations every step of the way! When you needed someone to cover for you when you broke into the town hall to find the digs on Mayor Evans, who was the one who gave you an alibi? When you were arrested for harassing Beth Watkins about her insurance fraud policy, who was the one who got her confession on tape? When the hermit went missing, who was the one who talked the sheriff into giving you the evidence file? Me! Like everything else I have, I have given you my total cooperation throughout this entire relationship. I have supported your dreams and helped to make them realities. And, this is how you repay me? Is it, Barry? Look at me.”
Hawkman stumbled to the floor. “I try, but I just can’t…What was in the milk?”
Jennifer raised an eyebrow, picked the knife up and leaned over him. “Just a little something from Doc’s medical case. It won’t kill ya’, but, it’ll give ya’ one hell of a hang over.”
“You planned this? Why?” Hawkman lay unable to move.
“They had residency and I didn’t have time to wait for the eviction process. I told myself ‘They’ll never understand…’ So, I took matters into my own hands. I was doing it for us. But, you couldn’t leave it alone. Could you?”
“I was doing my job.”
“Yeah, well, once again your job is more important than me. For the first time in my life, I wanted to do something for me…for us! It is my land! My father did not work all of his life to let it sit there. He wanted to just hand that land to those people, free of charge! How do you think that made me feel? So, excuse me for claiming what was rightfully mine.”
“Even if it makes you a murderer?” Hawkman groaned.
“Murderer is such a harsh way to put it. Besides, I was doing those poor people a favor. Their families are getting a shit load of insurance money because of the fire.”
“Fire?” Hawkman’s eyes grew heavy. He could hear the faint sound of sirens in the background.
“The one I started while you were in town this afternoon. It’s untraceable. See, the hermit’s stove caught fire to a towel while he was in the other room sleeping. I gave him some of Doc’s sleepy juice too. You know, I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this.”
“You won’t get away with…”
“Shh…shh. Now, let me give the private investigator his medal of honor.” Jennifer raised the knife as Hawkman blacked out.
At the ribbon cutting ceremony, Jennifer took to the podium. “Welcome to the Hawkman-Harrison Resort and Casino. I would just like to dedicate this accomplishment to my late husband, Barry Hawkman, and the others whose lives were taken by the Topsy Grade fires nearly two years ago. Their tragic passings took us all by surprise and it is my hope that their deaths will not be in vain. Today, I feel like they are all looking down on us proud that we have brought Barry’s vision to life. This one’s for you, baby!”
© Copyright Brian Jaime and bchrsidesigns, 2008. All Rights Reserved.
I wrote this piece with Barry Manilow’s song This One’s For You in mind. I even decided to challenge YOU the reader to find the other five lines from Barry’s song that I have hidden within the text of my story. Have fun and enjoy!
NOTE: The character “Barry” is NOT supposed to be Barry Manilow. It is simply an homage. So, please do not get mad thinking that I killed Barry Manilow. Cheers!