Here is the first part of chapter 7 of Marcello’s Revenge. Part 2 will follow in the near future. The list for all installments and chapters can be found here:
Julie is an attractive girl, around the same height as Francine, and, though thinner, pleasantly filled out the pajamas she wore with slender hips and shapely breasts. She has a sharp, angular nose, however, which distinctly contrasts with her pouty lips, and so when she scrunched her eyes at me that morning, standing as she was at the edge of the hall, it only served to further distort her features. Yet even with her confused face wrinkled like a distastefully aging lemon, her appearance that morning was a refreshing change to how she appeared the night before when she had to be guided about, moving in a trance-like manner with a dazed and glassy look. I took hold of her hand and got her to her feet, moving quickly to the door to the outside. After checking to make sure no one was outside, I led her away from the house in as casual and stealthy a manner as possible. The band had stopped playing and other than the distant sound of droning voices from the front lawn, as well as that of our own soft footfalls, everything was quiet. There was an unnaturalness about, lingering somewhere in the dark and the murmuring silence, a stifling heaviness, and I longed for a cricket’s chirp or the croak of a frog, but only the vague light of a half-moon low on the horizon was offered to ease my discomfort. I took her a little way down the hill and sat her amid a few trees that ran along the border of the Periwinkle property. Looking her in the eyes I told her to stay there for just a little while, then turned and went back to the house.
Once back inside, I heard Francine calling my name, which was good since it saved me from calling her as I was about to do. The current situation I was in demanded that I enlist help. I rushed and exited the rec room, shutting the door quickly behind me. She stood just inside the lounge, and, hearing me close the door, turned around to see me breathlessly smiling at her bewildered expression.
“Dearest! There you are. I was worried for a second. Are you feeling better?” she asked.
“Yes, darling, much better thanks.” And surprisingly I was, noticing just then that the pain and fuzziness brought about earlier by my condition was completely gone. “Listen, there is something I need you tell you,” I said in a hushed tone.
“What is it?” she whispered, following my lead.
“Matt has been murdered.”
“His body is in there, slumped over the pool table with his head smashed in. No, don’t go in! It is much too gruesome.”
“Oh no! Poor Matt. How very terrible. Such a young and troubled boy. Oh my God! Robin! Poor Cora and Jacob! Whatever will they do?”
“I don’t know, but I need to tell them as soon as possible. There is more, though. A girl is outside. Down the hill a little in a group of trees. She is blond, young and covered in blood. I need for you to take her to our car, then come back here.”
“She was in the room with Matt, sitting incoherently against the wall, and I think she is being set up. Something is not adding up to me. Call it a gut feeling.”
“But dearest, our car is blocks away from here. And there are people all over the place coming and going. Wouldn’t it be strange to be escorting a girl covered in blood down the street? I mean, unless your idea is something other than trying to avoid attracting attention.”
“You are absolutely right. Sorry, I am not thinking clearly. Yes, what if you could clean her up first? The bathroom here is out of the question of course, but maybe if you can take her down to the lake. I think the bank of the hill will take you unnoticed to a copse of trees where Matt and I were talking earlier. There is a storm drain there, and easy and private access to the lake where you can wash her up. It does not have to be too thorough, just enough to clean up her face and hair, and wet down her clothes. That way people will think she took a swim or something after having too much to drink. I will grab you a towel from the bathroom.
“When you get to the car, lie her down in the back seat. I don’t think she will try to oppose you and will probably fall right to sleep. She is pretty out of it. Before you return, however, please grab a fresh pack of cigarettes from the glove box. If anyone asks where you have been, this will be our alibi.”
“This is all so very strange. I mean, you found her near the body covered in blood. Wouldn’t she be a suspect? The only thing that she didn’t have is the murder weapon.”
“No, she was holding the murder weapon. It was a golf club.”
“What kind of what, love?”
“What kind of club? Was it a driver, or an iron, or something small like a putter?”
“I am not sure how that matters, but regardless I wouldn’t know. I don’t play golf.”
“I know dearest, but you are such a bright person I thought perhaps you would know the difference.”
“I am sorry to let you down.”
“So, you will do this for me?”
“Of course. Though I think you are being rather odd. And I will require a full explanation later.”
“Thank you,” I said, giving her a quick kiss. “And I promise to tell you everything as soon as I can. Now we really need to get moving. Go through the lounge to get outside, and I will meet you over at the rec room door to give you the towel.”
I grabbed a towel from the bathroom, and after using it to wipe down the handle of the golf club, met her at the door and handed it to her. With that done, I called Jacob and was relieved when he answered the phone. It was loud in the background with a lot of people talking, but he was able to hear me and I asked him to come to the basement and to bring Cora. He asked why, and I told him it was better if he just came down. I then went to meet him at the stairs, and shortly thereafter heard his thundering steps as he walked down the stairs, with Kirk’s echoing faintly behind.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Did you bring Cora?”
“No, why, what’s the problem?”
“It’s Matt. This way. Over in the rec room.” When we got there, I opened the door and he entered, slowly, not yelling out or screaming, but instead calmly approached his dead son in a strangely methodical way like he was surveying a statue in a park. He touched Matt’s shirt and looked up to me, tears welling in his eyes.
“I don’t know. This is how I found him when I came in here to use the bathroom.”
“Does anyone else know?”
“No, I only just found him when I called you.”
He put his fists to his eyes, jabbing the knuckles of his thumbs into his sockets. He asked for me to call 911, and for Kirk to go out to the stage and ask the guests to leave, telling him to say there has been an emergency. As we did this, he called Cora, asking her to come down, and went to the bathroom to get a hand towel which he proceed to place over Matt’s face. We could hear her giddily speaking with Darla from the hall, but when she came in her face dropped, immediately turning grave and ashen. We stood there stupid and silent like cattle in a thunderstorm while she looked at Matt and each of us as if searching for an answer to a riddle. A disgusted expression flashed briefly on her face just before she ran from the doorway to her son. Jacob moved like he was going to grab her arm to prevent her from reaching him, but caught himself and instead looked away from the scene and at the bathroom door.
“Matt?” she called to him softly, tentatively reaching out her hand and lifting the towel. “Mattie…oh no…” Her face twisted in a mixture of horror, fear and sorrow, and she laid the towel back down and began stroking his hair. “Oh no, Mattie…oh no no no…” My heart hurt for her as she cried, continually calling out her pet name for him as if begging him to answer. Jacob went over and took hold of her shoulders, but she shook him off and he backed away slowly, unsure of himself.
The police came not too long afterward and cleared out the room, and we all went upstairs. Cora was disconsolate, sitting at the kitchen table, staring at the wood grain as she wept with Darla by her side. Jacob strutted about, trying to take control of the situation, ordering people and demanding answers from the police. But order had fled the premises, and it was beyond his ability to recall it to duty, so his words only fell hollow and desperate from his mouth. In an attempt to console Jacob, perhaps, Kirk stuck close by him, agreeing to what he said and backing him up in all of his rants. But, being the shadow that Kirk is, he disappeared, the strain of the situation acting like the noon day sun to him. Francine had returned wearing one of my brown sweaters, and was fixing coffee for everyone. She told me that she got the cigarettes I left in the car and if I would care for one when she was finished with the coffee. Going outside with her we found a remote spot, and I asked if everything went okay. She said it did, though there were some exceptions and complications to my plan.