Friday, September 11, 2015

Fiction Friday - Contemporaries - Chapter Seven

The drive back to Charlotte passed relatively smoothly. Karen spent some time making a list of things to do and questions to ask when she arrived home. Justin was a fast driver, but Karen rarely got carsick. Riding through the mountains while writing notes proved a bit much for her, however, and she took a turn driving on the twisting mountain roads.
As she parked in front of Justin and Christine’s parents’ house, Justin made a final comment on the Kentucky trip.
“I know that you weren’t expecting the meeting to go exactly the way it did, and some of what they said has made you think again about the situation. But how would you have reacted if someone you didn’t even know came up and started asking questions about Christine after surprising you with the news she was dead? Maybe at least wait a few days before calling them again.”
“Well, obviously Christine isn’t dead, so it’s hard to imagine, but I will try to put it in perspective. You’re smarter than you look Justin.” Karen popped the trunk so Justin could get his backpack, but made no move to get out and help him.
“Thanks, I think.” He muttered before trotting down the front walk towards the door.
When Karen pulled up in front of the duplex she called home, she noticed Christine’s car was in their driveway. Christine always worked on Saturdays, since her paychecks were partly commission and Saturday was the best day for sales. Even though it was early evening, Christine would normally go out after work with some of her friends or co-workers after she finished her shift.
“Hey, Christine,” Karen called out as she dragged her belongings past the living room, where the TV flickered quietly. “What’s up?”

Christine mumbled through a stuffy nose,
“Apparently, I’m allergic to the strange black mold growing in the storage room after the water damage. We’re now closed for another week for mold remediation. And, of course, we’re all out a paycheck until this is over.”
“Sorry, sweetie.” Karen sat down on the couch next to her. “Are you sure it’s allergies and not a cold you caught from kissing the cute insurance adjuster?”
Christine managed to look adorable for a moment, despite the red around her eyes and the dirty tissues next to her on the cough. “He didn’t have a cold.” She tried to wink, but sneezed instead.
“Oh my gosh, are you serious? Did you actually kiss him? I was just teasing! Tell me everything.” Karen sat down and they giggled and teased for a few minutes, until Christine got serious and pulled out a notebook and some mail.
“I didn’t want to interrupt your trip, since it sounded like you had a lot going on, but you got this official looking folder from the coroner’s office, and there were two phone calls on our home phone, which you know is usually just telemarketers, but…” Christine nudged the open notebook towards Karen.
Detective Patrick Smith, call immed. at 704-388-9273.
Charlotte Observer, call Demetria Martin, re: murder investigation. main phone line (1-800) extension 3295.
“Well, this sounds pleasant. I guess if it’s officially a murder investigation, I need to call the detective first before blabbing anything to the press. Not that I really have any knowledge yet.” Karen leaned her head back against the couch. “I’m exhausted, but I really shouldn’t make these calls from work, I do work in a cubicle world after all, and I’m sure we’d be discussing private information. I guess I’ll at least try the detective today from home. Do you want to review my to-do list, and see if there is anything you would add? A lot of these are questions that I probably should ask the detective when I call.”
“Sure, hand it over girl.” Christine grabbed the paper and reviewed it.

Cause of death?
Who identified the body?
Any living relatives not in will?
New girl/girlfriend?
Friends in Charlotte?
Where was mother when she died?
Finances – deed to house? bank accounts? life insurance? safety deposit?

After reading silently to herself, Christine leaned closer and put her hands on Karen’s arm. “I guess the main thing I’m wondering, is what you already have answers to. That’s probably what the detective will ask you. All these questions make it sound like you’re the one doing the investigation here. You know you’re just responsible for the money and stuff, right? You’re not really going after a killer are you?”
“Well, I guess I’m not really investigating, or going after a killer. Aren’t you just a bit curious what all this is about though? I’ve been dragged into this one way or the other, and if there is danger, wouldn’t I already be in the middle of it?”
“Hmm, I guess you could be. But you haven’t noticed anything strange, have you? No strange feelings that someone is watching or people hanging around you that you don’t know?”
“I supposed I haven’t felt or seen anything like that. That doesn’t mean that I’m out of danger necessarily though. It could just be that the danger hasn’t caught up with me yet. At the very least, I need to finish figuring out the assets of the estate. If the murder was financially motivated, I could be in danger as I start to investigate that side of things. And that part I do have a responsibility over. I think I may even have to take another day off work to go into the bank and see if there’s a safety deposit box or anything else I can find about the bank accounts. So far, there certainly don’t seem to be as many assets as I thought, given his lifestyle, so there may be something I’m missing.”
Karen paused and then shook her head. “That didn’t quite come out the way I meant. I’m not after Miles’s money by any means. Again, I still don’t know why I was listed for this job. It just seems strange; he was so good at dealing with other people’s money, so it makes me think he should have more of his own. He was at least 5 or maybe even 10 years older than I am, and I know he made a ton more money. I may be a cheapskate, but I at least have a retirement account. Oh right, let me add that to the list, I didn’t see paperwork on it, but I can call about that, we work for the same company, so that should be an easy phone call to make.”
Christine started sniffling again, and then got up off the sofa. “We’re out of tissues in this box, do you think we have some extra boxes in the hall closet?”
            “That’s where they should be. Are you going to tell me anymore about this potential new man of yours, or are you keeping it a mystery?”
“I guess the mystery is as much for me as it is you. After he came back, again, on Friday, for the whole mold evaluation, he asked me out. I guess my clumsy nature didn’t scare him off too bad. Or maybe he could see through it toward my sparkling wit and flirtatious intelligence.”
“I’m not even sure what flirtatious intelligence means, so it must have been your clumsy nature that turned him on.”
“Whatever, anyway, he asked me where I wanted to eat after work, and I didn’t really realize it was a date, so I said McDonald’s.”
“So, what’s wrong with McDonald’s for a date?” Karen asked.
“Are you serious? It’s cheap, greasy food! If the prices didn’t scare him away, the heartburn afterwards might.” Christine paused. “Actually, it didn’t turn out as bad as I thought. Someone at the drive thru had ordered the wrong thing, or maybe the people in the store made the wrong thing, I’m not sure. Either way, after we ordered our food the drive thru food delivery person came over to the counter and said there were two ice cream cones if anyone wanted one for free. One was regular, and one was chocolate dipped. So we got a free dessert, which was pretty exciting. I mean, I’m no cheapskate like you, but I know free is always a good deal.”
“OK, but where did the kiss come in? You’re not normally one to kiss and tell, especially on a first date, or at McDonald’s.”
“Well, I think it was the ice cream cone. Of course, he asked me what I wanted, ladies first and all that. And I wanted the chocolate dipped cone. So we had to eat our ice cream first, because it would melt otherwise, and after we finished the cones and were unwrapping our burgers, he said I had a little chocolate right there, and wiped it off with his thumb. It was kind of romantic actually.”
            “Okay, so no kiss in McDonald’s, just some romantic flirting. What happened next?”
“You’re not normally so into my dating stories, are you living vicariously?”
“I guess so. This whole thing with Miles just made me think. I mean, I’m not getting any younger, and I haven’t really done much with my life, including dating. I guess everything just has me thinking.”
“Hmm, okay. Well, after we ate, we went out to a park and sat on some swings and talked for hours, which I also never usually do on a first date. Of course, by now I realized it was a date, the thumb and the ice cream and all. When he first asked me out, I thought he just meant “grab a bite” like run through a drive thru before taking me home.”
“Wait a minute, you were riding with him? What happened to your car?”
“Oh, did I leave that part out? I thought you must have seen it on your way in, someone smashed out my windows, so I taped it up with some trash bags, and decided to take the bus to work instead, since I have to drive on the interstate and didn’t want my windows to get blown around. So we had been discussing that, and he offered to drive me home since the mold was bothering me so much and the bus doesn’t run until evening.”
“Wow, okay, we’ll talk more about the break-in later, so you kissed him at the park?”
“Well, after he dropped me off, he walked me to my door, and then it was just so romantic. It was a Friday night, my nose wasn’t running yet. I did have itchy eyes, which apparently just made my eyes sparkle. We had such a fun, romantic time, and had talked about everything under the sun. He held my hands and told me he’d like to see me again sometime, and I just couldn’t help it. He was looking at me with those bright green eyes and his skin was glowing in the porch light and the cicadas were chirping. So I reached up, wrapped my arms around his neck, and laid one on him.”
            “You’re so crazy, girl, you barely know this guy.” Then Karen grinned. “So how far did you have to stretch, is he really tall. You know I’ve always said you need to date the tall guys, even with heels you always look adorable next to someone really big.”
“Hey now, I had my heels on, I wasn’t stretching that far. Anyway, he hasn’t called yet, and we haven’t set up another date. I know it hasn’t been that long, but still, I hope he didn’t think I was a weirdo for kissing him. Or for the whole McDonald’s date.”
“I’m sure he’s just waiting for those allergy symptoms to clear up. He’ll call.” Karen and Christine suddenly saw that Family Feud was on, and turned up the volume.
“We got a good one tonight” They shouted together and then laughed at each other.

“I’m glad to be home,” Karen said. “I really missed you while I was in Kentucky.”

Feel the need to catch up on the previous chapters? Use the handy links below or click on the writing tab at the top of the page.
Post a Comment