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Revenge is Sweet
It was dark as I stepped out of the shower into the deafening silence of my apartment. It was like the world was waiting for some tragedy to occur, the way New Orleans felt before Hurricane Katrina. As I began to dress, my thoughts were of my date with the lovely Miss Lola Leischuck. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever met. Her auburn hair glowed like a sunrise breaking over mountaintops. Her eyes were liquid pools of silver. She was the only one I had ever truly loved, and to whom i planned to propose to that very night. Suddenly there came a scream from outside my apartment door. The scream was like none I had heard before, piercing the silence of my thoughts. A staccato of gunshots followed. Dressed only in my midnight-black, pleated pants I threw open the door and dashed into the hallway, the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end.
Sprawled face down on the cheap oatmeal colored carpeting was my date, the girl I loved passionately, Lola Leischuck. A crimson stain spread beneath her. Cursing whoever had done this, I swore they would pay dearly for murdering the girl I loved.
As quickly as one could blink an eye people started to fill the graveyard quiet hallway. They surrounded us, me close to bursting into tears holding the lifeless, but still warm hand of the girl I loved. The murmuring of the crowd was jumbled with my own thoughts of was happening. I vaguely heard the stunned onlookers ask if I needed anything, and if I had seen who had done such a horrible thing.
The only thing I could manage to say in hoarse whisper was “No”. My head started to swim with my own questions: Had the police been notified? Were they going to come after me next? Who had done this? Why did this happen?
When my head started to clear I heard the sirens of police cars approaching the apartment complex. Good I thought maybe now I can get some answers on who might have done this.
* * *
Hours later the police informed me they had matched the bullets that killed Lola to a gun registered to Mr. Ivan Love. I decided I’d pay the dirt bag a little visit. The streets were relatively clear for 9:00pm on a Friday night. I used a lead foot and my car sped down the roads toward his house at 346 Remmington Road
As I neared my destination I wondered whether I should use the “good cop” or “bad cop” approach. Even though I was not a cop, I felt confident I could pull it off since I’d grown up watching “Dragnet” and “Hawaii Five O”. Pulling into the driveway of Mr. Love’s estate, I was still deciding which approach to take. Once at the door I decided to play it by ear. If I needed to, I’d play the “bad cop”, but I’d like to be the “good cop”.
When I rang the doorbell a man who’s shadow could cover the state of Texas answered the door. “May I help you sir?” he asked. He kind of sounded like Lurch from “The Adams Family”.
“Yes you may,” I replied, “Is Mr. Ivan Love available?”
“Right this way … Mr.”
“Arrow. John Arrow”
“Follow me Mr. Arrow.” The man at the door, who was apparently the butler, led me through an extravagant doorway into a stylish waiting room. “Wait here please.” With the butler gone I could really look around. The seats were of a soft yet durable leather of a dark brown color, with what appeared to be maple legs.
“You wanted to see me, Sir?”
The sudden voice behind me made me spin around so quickly that I almost lost my balance. “Yes I did Mr. Love. You see my girlfriend was killed this evening with a gun that is owned by you.”
Mr. Love was a stocky man of about five foot six inches with legs that seemed too long for his body. He had a round head with grayish eyes and red hair.
“What kind of gun was it Mr. Arrow?” Mr. Love replied
“A Colt .357 Magnum Python.”
“I was afraid you were going to say that. You see two weeks ago that gun was stolen.”
“Stolen? What do you mean stolen?” I exclaimed, taken back by this unexpected news.
“I mean that someone broke into my house and took my gun from its case and left. Along with many other valuables,” Mr. Love calmly replied.
“So, you’re telling me you have no idea who stole your gun?” I snapped, starting to become very annoyed with my situation.
“That is exactly what I’m telling you, Mr. Arrow.”
“Now what am I supposed to do? I have nowhere else to turn.”
“Might I suggest trying Old Cal’s place? He always seems to know what’s happening.”
“Well, it’s worth a shot.”
“Do come back and visit when you get the chance,” Mr. Love told me as we walked down the hall to the door, “I really enjoyed our little chat.”
“Thank you. I hope that I can,” I replied as I stepped out of the door.
In my car, as I was speeding down the road towards town, I realized that I forgot to ask where Cal lived. Kicking myself for being so dumb, I whipped the car around, and received a couple of honks from the few motorists that were on the road at 11:23pm.
When I pulled the car back into the estate of Mr. Love, I had the distinct feeling something bad was going to happen. Just as I was about to step out on to the grass, still wet with dew, a huge explosion erupted from the house, engulfing it in flames.
Peculiar, I thought, Apparently someone doesn’t want Ivan Love revealing any imformation. I wonder if this has anything to do with Lola’s murder, and why didn’t they strike while I was in the house?
I didn’t have much time to think about this, because from down the road, I heard the sound of sirens quickly approaching.
Moments later I was confronted by a police officer who was a little large around the mid-section, and asked the typical questions of, “what did I see,” “was I involved some way with this,” so on and so forth.
Great, I thought, now I have to sit in a police station answering questions I don’t know the answers to and waste hours that I could have used looking for Lola’s killer.
The back of the police car smelled like the last drunk who had become sick on his way to detox. When we arrived at the police station, an old man whose wrinkles could pass for the Grand Canyon was sitting at the police chief’s desk. “What you got fo’ me now, Cal?” he asked
“Well, I have a witness to that bomb in Mr. Love’s place,” the officer replied
“Wait a minute!” I exclaimed, “you’re Cal?”
“Yeah, what’s it to you?”
“Just that Mr. Love told me to find you, so that I might have a place to start looking for the killer of my girlfriend.”
“Oh, so you’re the poor sap whose girlfriend was murdered?”
“What did I just say?”
“Hol’ it!” The old chief exclaimed, “Wern’t he brought ‘ere t’ answer some quest’ns about the bomb?”
“Yes he was,” Cal calmly replied.
“Step ‘n ‘ere Mr… Arrow,” the older officer directed as he glanced at a file that he dug out of a nearby filing cabinet, “Let’s b’gin shall we?”
* * *
After hours of questioning, I glanced at my watch as I descended the steps leading out of the police station. It was now 2:54a.m. Heading toward the parking lot across the street to pick up my car, where the police parked it, I saw two bright headlights grow larger by the second from down the empty street. The lights suddenly changed direction, and my stomach dropped as I realized they were coming right at me!
Seeing two bright lights bearing down on me was horrifying, but it confirmed one thing; all these events were linked with Lola’s death.
After regaining consciousness I felt completely disoriented. Not knowing where I was, I tried to sit up and have a look around, only to have a strong hand hold me down to the bed in which I was lying, and an excruciating pain shoot through my entire body.
“You need to stay still,” a calm feminine voice told me. “The hit and run accident that you were in broke almost every bone in your body. You’re lucky you’re even alive.”
“Hit and run?” I mumbled under my breath. “When did this happen?”
“About three days ago,” the woman beside me said, apparently hearing what I asked.
“Three days!” I exclaimed.
“Yes sir. You’ve been out cold the entire time.”
“Where am I?” I asked.
“Anderson’s Medical Hospital,” the woman who I now guessed was a nurse answered. “A witness who saw the ordeal called 9-1-1 only seconds after the crash, and that saved your life. If you had arrived here two minutes later, you would have been dead.”
“When exactly can I leave?” I inquired, changing the subject.
“Probably about one to two months,” the nurse replied after a long pause.
Changing the subject yet again, I asked, “Do the police know who did this?”
“Boy do you ask a lot of questions. (Sigh) I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but the police think it was Macabre Faux Pas.”
“She’s also know as Morticia Foron”
“What? You mean that serial killer who escaped from jail four months ago?”
“Exactly. It’s all over the news.”
* * *
During my never-ending stay in the hospital, I had counted all of the ceiling tiles in my room twenty-four times, and there were 184 every time. I could also tell which nurse was coming down the hall just by the sound of their footsteps. The janitor, whom I would miss, would slip me an extra portion of pudding after he cleaned the kitchen. The man who was my doctor would always trip over something in the hall, so I knew when he came to check on me usually at 9:37a.m. and 8:24p.m. But now it was time for me to check out. I felt like I was a little boy that was leaving home on the first day of school. I would miss the people that had become my family, even nurse Brunhilda who always was a little too rough with my daily massages.
As I descended the steps of the hospital, feeling much better, I set out again to find the killer of my beloved Lola. I began to wonder where I should begin to search. Should I start trying to track down Morticia, or do I try to find another lead?
“Excuse me sir, but aren’t you the person who was involved in the hit and run accident three months ago?” a voice behind me asked.
“Yes... I was,” I replied as I turned around slightly puzzled, “did you want something?”
“Um, someone wanted me to give you this note when you were released from the hospital.”
“Okay. Who is this from?” I asked.
“Macabre Faux Pas, Sir,” the man replied
“W-what?” I stuttered, “ Why would a serial killer send me a message?”
“I don’t know, but she said it was important that you read the message,” the man said as he started to walk away.
As I opened the large yellow mailing envelope, a sudden surge of fear ran through the marrow of my bones. Inside the envelope was a choir of paper and the locket that I had given Lola three months before.
“How did this get here?” I wondered aloud.
“I put it there,” said a calm feminine voice from the alley behind me.
The voice was hauntingly familiar and, as I recovered from the shock, I managed to ask, “Who are you?”
“I am Morticia Foron.”
“What do you want?” I snapped, suddenly angry. You can’t imagine what it is like to have your attempted murderer approach you in broad daylight.
“I’m looking for you to clear my name,” Morticia smoothly replied.
“Why would I clear the name of the person the police think tried to murder me and killed my girlfriend?” I asked in one long angry breath.
“ Because I didn’t do it,” she replied, starting to become annoyed but never leaving the shadows of the alley.
“No you killed Lola! Why did you do that?” I started to shout.
“You are so infuriating!” She shouted almost teasingly. “Don’t you get it? I’m your girlfriend! I’m Lola Leischuck!”
“No! This can’t be!” I gasped, “ Why did you try to kill me?”
“I didn’t! It was Morticia’s gang who did that, not me!” Lola sobbed as she stepped from the shadows of the alley, “I never told you that I was a twin to a monster because I thought you would detest me.”
“That does explain why you called me daft to think my girlfriend looked like a recently escaped serial killer.” I mused.“ But how could you think I would detest you?”
“Because of her!” she shouted, “It wasn’t me who was killed that night. It was my twin Morticia. She died because she was jealous of what I had. She sent me out of town so she could kill you!”
“Wait a second. You mean to tell me that I almost proposed to a murderer?” I asked. “But then who was it who tried to kill me all those months ago?”
“It was one of… Wait did you say you were going to propose? Oh, John. Do you mean it?”
“Of course I do,” I said as calmly as I could manage. From all her joy Lola kissed me full on the mouth, and I returned the favor.
As she drew away, with what appeared to be reluctance, she began to explain to me exactly what had happened. “Apparently one of Morticia’s goons didn’t know that she had assumed my identity. He decided to ‘knock me off’ but instead killed his own boss. I guess the others thought that you had killed her and they decided to even the score.”
“Hold that thought for a minute,” I said, “I need to talk to Officer Cal about clearing your name. I’ll meet you at the dinner downtown when I’m done. Okay?”
“Okay,” Lola said hesitantly.
* * *
After sprinting all the way to the police headquarters, I bounded up the stairs, and opened the door, still panting from my run, with sweat glistening on my forehead.
“Is Cal here?” I asked the elderly man who conducted my interview months before.
“No he ain’t,” the man replied, “What c’n I h’lp ya wit’?”
“I came to talk about dropping all charges against Morticia Foron.”
“Why you gonna do tha’?” he asked quite confused.
“Because she’s the one who was murdered. Not Lola,” I replied
“How you kno’ tha’?”
“I ran in to Lola in an all… the library and she told me the whole story.”
“How you know she’s Lola and not Mor’icia?” he asked as I started out the door.
“True love my friend. When two people love one another as passionately as Lola and I do, you just know if it’s her or not.”
** Seven years later**
“Wow! I can’t believe that James and his band are still playing,” I told Lola as we bought tickets to “The Jazzman and All That’s Jazz” concert. “I remember in eighth grade when we had to do an project called ‘Trashing the Camp’ and he had the best performance, because he had a passion for music.”
“I think you’ve told us that a couple times before, John,” she replied.
“Yeah, Daddy you told us before,” Tiffany chirps, mimicking her mom.
“Sorry, I guess I’m a little bit excited about seeing my high school friends again,” I said, slightly embarrassed, “ What do you say Tiffany? You ready to listen to some jazz?”
“What’s jazz?” she asked for the tenth time. I think she just likes to ask questions all the time.
“Jazz is a style of music that... you know, neither of us really knows what jazz is, sweetie,” Lola replied in a tone that suggested that she was slightly annoyed by the constant questions.
“Come on let’s get a seat before it gets too crowded,” I said trying and relieve some of Lola’s tension.
After a couple of minutes of entertaining our three-year-old, Lola and I tried to quiet Tiffany as the performance began. James and his band opened with a simpler jazz piece called, “Blues for Nate.” Man those guys can make those instruments sing, especially Dan. Then they went in to a piece called “Caravan.” Next they played, “Another Day Another Blues.” The last song before the intermission was a classic from 1939-called “In the Mood.” Their final two pieces were also classics form the forties “String of Pearls” and “Sentimental Journey.”
After the concert, I made a point to talk to James and every one else in the band. That way I could catch up on what’s been happening while I was gone, and to introduce them to Tiffany and Lola.
I wasn’t sure what to make of James’ expression when he saw me. Was it excitement or like he’d seen a ghost? Either way, I know part of it was excitement, and I walked up and gave him a good slap on the back.
“John, is that really you?” he asked in complete shock, “It’s been almost fifteen years! Where have you been?”
“Los Angeles.” I simply replied.
“No way. L.A.”
“Yes L.A. and that’s not all,” I told him as step aside so that I could introduce Lola and Tiffany.
“Wow!” James exclaimed, “You’re doing well James. And it is a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Arrow.”
“Please James call me Lola,” she said.
“Very well, and who do we have here?” James asked looking at the little three-year-old cowering behind Mommy and Daddy.
“This is Tiffany,” Lola said as I picked her up and placed her on my shoulders.
“Wow! I can’t believe it John. I apologize if I’m intruding, but what is your maiden name Lola?” James asked politely.
“You are not intruding at all. My maiden name is Leischuck.”
“Um... Were you related to the gang leader who was killed in L.A.”
At that question Lola became visibly pale “ Um, James that is something we try NOT to remember, and please don’t ask any other questions in that regard again,” I told him loud enough that only those close to me could hear, “I’ll explain everything later, okay?”
“Okay,” he replied.
With that settled Lola began to regain some of her color, and we got back to more pleasant conversation. I also caught up with the rest of the band. When I reached Tommy his hand was in a forearm length cast. So I asked about it and how he was able to play. All he said was “A skiing accident,” and, “Thank God for duct tape.”
I finally made it to the manager, but instead of it being my old friend John, there was a man named Ben standing there. I asked him about John and he told me that he had moved back east to live closer to his wife’s parents. That was quite a shock to me. I guess that’s what happens when you’ve been gone for fifteen years.
I told everyone good night and explained that Lola and I have a tired three-year-old and need to head for home, but it was good to see everyone again and to meet Ben.
Boy, it was nice to see my old friends again. Although I’ll have to give John a call later and catch up with him.