Episode 8. As you may recall, Witt Kepler was staring down the twin barrels of a gold plated Derringer pistol. The trigger man was a woman, his ex-wife Victoria Timms, the almost newly-crowned Miss Metro Classic. Witt and his partner, Sergeant Guthrie Oaks of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, had just broken up a diamond smuggling scam at the beauty contest. The winner was clearly intent on exacting her revenge.
As Vickie pulled the trigger, Witt involuntarily tensed every muscle in his body, expecting the worst. The world slowed down to a crawl for Witt. He began to wonder about all of his poor choices. What did he miss? Who would miss him? Then – it happened.
Or rather, didn’t happen.
Witt saw her right index finger start to move. Without thinking, he said “I thought you would win anyway. You deserved it, Vickie.”
“What did you…I mean, really? You wanted me to win?”
“Well, I guess, yeah. You didn’t need Ivan’s money. You were the best looking girl out here.”
“I don’t know what to say, Witt. You were never…”
Tears had started rolling down the queen’s cheeks. By now the gun had been lowered. Then, the rage returned.
“Witt Kepler! You are a…you’re impossible! No wonder I didn’t stay married to you. You know just what to say, but I know exactly what you mean.”
“Ah, I don’t follow you, Vic. What are you talking about?”
“You’ve got the first part right. Don’t follow, as in do not follow me and Ivan to Canada. We have a crown, a bag of diamonds and a hot glue gun. By the time we get to the border, this crown will look good enough to pass for the real one.”
Witt half expected the woman to raise the pistol back up to eye level. Everyone else fully expected it. Instead, Victoria Timms took a few steps back, threw the gun down at Witt’s feet, then took off, running out the stage exit.
Guthrie walked over to Witt, reaching down and picking up his purloined pistol. “Glad she didn’t take off with this one. It’s my favorite lighter.”
“Did you say – lighter? That’s a cigarette lighter?”
“Pretty good, eh? We aren’t really suppose to smoke while on duty, and the Inspector insists we not carry lighters. This fools him every time. Refillable butane. It’s awesome!”
“Damn, fooled me. I thought for sure you would be inheriting Lord Nelson tonight.”
“Your dog? He’s a good one. I’d take him.”
“”Well, now that the ex is on her way to Canada with Vetski, I think there is time to go home and give him a proper meal. No telling what Mrs. Peabody has been feeding him all day.”
The police had arrived, as did the medical teams. Fortunately, the stage hand was only wounded, the manager bruised slightly. Witt agreed to meet at Thurman Ludlow’s office in the morning to debrief the boss, and “get my paycheck.”
While he was driving home, Witt could feel the knot in his stomach start to twist. He thought it might have been a reaction to the near-death experience, but then he remembered he had not eaten all day. As he pulled into his driveway, Witt noticed a different car parked outside of Mrs. Peabody’s house. It was a nice car. An expensive car. Very stylish. Definitely a “chick car,” he thought. The knot tightened.
A small, white envelope had been taped to his front door. Witt looked around, making sure there were no lurkers waiting to jump him. Carefully pulling the letter off the painted wood, he saw it was addressed to him.
Then Witt figured it out. There was no way he was going to open that letter.
“Mr. Kepler! Mr.Kepler! Did you get my invitation to dinner? It’s on your door. Did you see it?”
It was Mrs. Peabody. Witt recognized the small envelope as one of her typical invitations. He had seen several since moving next door to the kindly busybody. So far he had managed to avoid attending any of her contrived social get-togethers.
“Got it right here, Mrs. P, but I’m afraid I can’t make it. I’ve been gone all day and Lord Nelson probably misses me. I really should come over another time, perhaps.”
“Nonsense. His Lordship has spent the day over at my house, and in fact” she said, leaning in as if to be passing a state secret, “in fact, he has played so much, he is taking a nap on my sofa, as we speak!”
“Goodness. Haven’t you been the pet concierge. How much do I owe you for pet sitting?” Witt reached for his wallet. He knew there wasn’t anything in it, but he wanted to go through the motions. Witt was not above playing on anyone’s sympathies.
“Nothing at all, just a hour for dinner. Come along, Mr. Kepler. It’s meatloaf and gravy. Every man loves a good meat loaf and mine’s a killer.”
Seeing no avenue of escape, the private eye slowly drudged his way across the cement driveway. With every step, he could feel his heart start to pound a little bit more. His jaw tensing up, it was almost as if he had a terminal case of tetanus.
Once inside, Witt was guided to the formal dining room, where a table had been carefully set with some expensive looking china and crystal. True to form, Carolyn Peabody, make that Dr. Carolyn Peabody, psychologist at large, was already seated. The matriarch of the evening excused herself to the kitchen, leaving Witt to fend for himself, socially.
“Carolyn. It’s been a while. How have you been?”
Witt picked up a dinner roll, then started looking for the butter dish.
“You look a bit out of sorts. Rough day? Or has that dissocial personality disorder come back on you?”
“Pass the salt, would you?”
“You put salt on your rolls?”
“Butter. I meant butter. Do we have any?”
“It’s in front of your plate, Witt.”
Witt finally exhaled, the first time he could remember doing so since walking in the door.
Slathering the roll with half a stick of butter, Witt decided he might as well try to give himself a heart attack, since the butter knife clearly couldn’t help him commit hari kari.
The kitchen door swung open. Mrs. P waltzed in, all smiles, carrying a platter of meatloaf covered in red gravy.
“You will just love this meat loaf. It’s to die for!”
Witt grinned. If only he could die. Right now.
- The Mystic Crown of Saguenay (djlutz.wordpress.com)