Ok this one I know about. Saw the movie however long ago. It pops up in cable, I don’t turn the channel. I like Elle. And I like the messages to be found in this movie. Messages that aren’t found in other romantic comedies. Like, be an individual, be strong, be smart, don’t dumb yourself down for a man. And don’t give up something you want to do to stay home and make babies. I don’t know, I got three girls. Maybe I’m sensitive to this sort of thing.
Of course, if you know the story, you know that is Elle’s plan at first. She wants to go to Harvard Law, impress her ex so he thinks she is serious and will take her back. “Your IQ drops to 40 whenever you around him,” one character says. And it is true. She goes back to the stereotypical sorority girl. But she is intelligent and capable and comes to realize that. And learns that instead of being just a means to an end, the law can help people. She may not be serious but she is not less than anyone else.
I’m starting to sound like an echo but Neptune did one hell of a job here. They just keep raising the bar. The sets, the costumes (of which there are 144, I believe, not counting the dogs), the music. Just pure excellence across the board. Live music obviously has its challenges but the folks at Neptune pull it off wonderfully. The costuming looked awesome and Elle had all her pink. And I loved the way the sets slid on and off stage with ease, giving us just enough to set the scene. The choreography, well damn. Done by Chad McNamara who was one of the Doodlebops, I was happily impressed. I’m merely an observer here, knowing less then nothing about dance, but this was awesome. Lively and full of great moves. I would praise it further but I really don’t know enough to say anything but bloody well done. There must have been an insane amount of work and it paid off in spades.
They started rocking the joint right from the beginning with the Delta Nu girls and “Oh My God! Ohmigod You Guys!” Songs were sung, dances danced, the sets sliding back and forth with the actors. Everybody did a great job from Lindsay Frazier as perpetually pink Elle to David Cotton’s slightly clueless and jerkish Warner, the impetus for the whole story. Liz Gilroy, who I saw last in Elf, was funny and sweet as Paulette. And I’m not sure who got the biggest reaction from the audience, Graham Coffeng as Kyle the UPS man or Rufus the Bulldog. For me, the stand out was the Delta Nu girls, specifically as the Greek chorus once Elle had moved to Harvard. In a play filled with laugh out loud moments, they almost brought tears to my eyes. And the girls were right. They really did add to the show. I’m glad their roles were expanded. Another stand out was the court room scene, with the cast singing “Is He Gay or Is He European?” I want to buy it in iTunes. And the bend and snap? Again please.
The story seemed a little quick at times, things happening without a lot of development, but I think that’s the nature of the game. It cant be easy turning a movie into a musical. Things will have to change to make room for the song and dance. Some moments get stretched out, others speeded up. But overall, the story didn’t suffer and it does keep the running time down. They are really turning me into a theatre and musical fan at Neptune. I’ve come to expect excellence from them and they keep delivering. On April 11 they release the schedule for the upcoming season and I can’t wait. I will be there for as many shows as I can.
As for Legally Blonde? Go see it. Got a girl, take her. I think they recommend 12 and older. Some sexually related things. Its nothing major but that depends on you and your child. Make it a girls night out or a date night with hubby. He’ll enjoy himself. Obviously something about Elle Wood’s journey strikes a chord with viewers. The movie came out in 2001. The musical had million dollar weeks on Broadway. And now a standing ovation at our own Neptune Theatre. And well deserved. I laughed practically the entire time. Got mad at the appropriate times. Cheered on the heroine. And that’s knowing how the story goes. Legally Blonde isn’t in the genre i typically like, as some of you know! but I enjoyed the hell out of it. Its a good story told well, with wit and enthusiasm. And we can all stand a little pink in our life. Who knows, maybe next year we get The Expendables The Musical.
Spring is coming. May all ready be here where you are. Temperatures going up, flowers poking out. Course the north east and the Maritime provinces are having or preparing for a winter storm as I write this. Old man Winter wants one more lay before he walks out the door.
It’s a hell of a time, spring in Kentucky. Brown dead grass replaced with green. Calving and fooling season. Easter. Resurrection. The world becoming alive again. Time to plant seed for the fall harvest. Check the almanac, it’ll tell you when.
Buds will pop out on tree branches, leaves will unfurl. Animals start moving around. Ready to eat something fresh. Birds flying back north, red breasted robin hunting worms on your front yard. A sure sign of spring, like goldenrod is for the fall. But that’s months away. A whole lifetime.
Dig out the camo for the spring turkey hunt. Gobblers will be strutting. The sap is rising and they want to plant their seed, you know. They’ll sometimes gobble at car doors closing. So call in one. Don’t want to kill it, take a camera. It’s an experience.
Tobacco. Float beds are used a lot. Plant the seeds in styrofoam trays and float em in water in the green house. Then when the time is right the plants are taken to the fields and planted. Fall is cutting and stripping time but that ain’t for months. It’s a progression. But there ain’t much better then driving down a country road and breathing in the scent of tobacco hanging in a barn. But we’ll get there.
Spring. Time to get up. Get going. Get out. Run through the fields. Skid around a curve on a country lane. Push the gas pedal down a little more and watch the dust billow up as you bump down the gavel road. Tear the plastic off the windows and open the house up. Air it out. Find a tree to set against. Air out your soul.
A simple job the old man said. As complicated as a pizza delivery. Just show up, get the pills and pay. Take them to the dealers and get money from them. Bring that back. If you can make them pay extra, keep it. But don’t jeopardize my business. Wendell’s fingers drummed on the door of his pick-up. Simple. Right.
He glanced at his watch again. The assholes were all ready a half hour late. The old man had said to meet them at a rest stop on 75 south of Richmond. At ten o’clock. Been here since a quarter to ten and still no sight. He was about ready to call the old man up when he saw the car swing into the parking lot. Monte Carlo like the boss had said. Two guys. They nodded when they cruised past and pointed to the restrooms. Wendell sighed. So much for quick and easy.
“You know, I don’t tend to make a habit of meeting men in restrooms. How about we get this over with so I can get the fuck out of here?”
The guys were in front of the sinks, leaning back with arms across their chests. He had to wonder if they’d practiced the look in front of the mirror. “Wendell? What the fuck are you doing here?”
Wendell frowned, trying to place the man. “Helping a buddy, dude. Got the shit?”
“Got the money?”
“Would I fucking be here if I didn’t? What the hell is wrong with you?”
They looked at each other. “Go ahead, Pete, tell him,” said the taller bearded man.
Pete. Now he remembered. “I will, man but shit. This is the guy shot Perkins.”
“Who gives a rat’s ass? Just do it.”
“Yes, Pete. You have something to say?”
“Well, um, Wendell, well we want more money. We went all the way down to Florida after these pills and we just ain’t getting paid enough.”
“Is that a fact?”
“Yeah it is,” the fat guy said. He reached into the gym bag on the sink, pulling out a knife. “Or we carve up that pretty face.”
“You seriously think this is going to work? What happens when you burn through this money and need more? The old man won’t give you any more runs and he’ll make sure no one else where either.”
“Fuck, he’s right, Billy,” Pete said.
“We got plans for that, Pete, remember? Besides, we could even sell the pills ourselves and make a pile more money.”
Wendell nodded. “You probably could.” He took a step forward and kicked, his steel toed motorcycle boot crashing into Billy’s crotch. The man screeched, the knife falling to the floor as he doubled over, clutching his groin. Wendell grabbed his hair and slammed his head into the sink with a hollow thunk. The screeching stopped and Wendell let him fall, turning his gaze on Pete. “What about you? You want to sell these…”
He started to turn as he saw the stall door opening in the mirror but not quick enough. The edge of the door caught him in the back and pushed him into the sinks. Pete saw his opening and started raining blows, fast and many. At least there wasn’t much weight behind them. Wendell shoved him away and dodged back as the man from the stall swung a knife at him, hissing as it sliced across his ribs. He dodged back, closer to the doors, Pete now between him and the knife guy.
It was a small guy, black suit, white shirt, no tie. Wendell had to wonder how he’d hooked up with these two rednecks. He spared a glance over his shoulder. The door was behind him but opened into the bathroom. Fuck. The guy grinned. “No running, buddy. Should have paid up.”
“Yeah? What’s your stake in this?” Wendell pressed a hand to his side, looked at the blood on his fingers. Looked like mostly a slice, but it burned like hell.
“Call me an interested investor. And I’d much prefer if I didn’t have to retrieve the cash from your corpse.”
“I bet. Sound like you’re from up north.”
“Don’t worry about where I’m from. Let’s just do this as easy as possible, eh?”
“My thoughts exactly.” He rushed the guy, dropping into a tackle and hitting him square in the middle. He could feel the knife slicing through the back of his leather jacket, cutting into his shoulder then they were tumbling over top the fallen Pete. He pulled the knife free, ready to drive it in again and Wendell reached for his hand, pushing it away and driving his forehead into the guy’s nose. He slammed the hand holding the knife into the floor, trying to knock it loose. Finally it fell from loose fingers and he pulled back, chest heaving. He could feel a vague pain in his shoulder where the knife had landed and knew it would be worse later when the adrenaline had worn off. Snarling, he kicked the guy in the ribs mercilessly, over and over, the heavy boots thudding in flesh. The man was stunned from the headbutt and weakly tried to draw in on himself but it did him no good. The blows just landed on his kidneys then.
Pete scrambled away, gripping a sink to pull himself to his feet. “Jesus Christ, Wendell, you’ll kill the bastard,” he gasped out. The door swung open and both men turned to look. It was an older guy, bald, shorts and sandals with socks. He took one look and stepped back, closing the door.
“Yeah, well, what the fuck do you think he was going to do to me?” The guy had rolled over to his belly and pushed up on his hands and knees, coughing. Blood and drool hung from his lips, mixing with the blood running from his broken nose. Wendell rubbed his forehead, wincing as the movement pulled on the wound in his shoulder. He growled again and kicked the guy in the face, knocking him over. Wendell didn’t know if he was knocked out or decided it was smarter to stay down. “Who the fuck is this asshole?”
“I don’t know his name. Some guy Billy was working for while he was in Canada. Wanted to clear a path, get a straight route for the pills to go north.”
“Uh huh. And robbing me in a bathroom would accomplished that how?”
“I don’t know, man. Cut out the middle man, I guess. Maybe they are tired of paying so much.” He licked his lips, eyes darting around. “It wasn’t my idea, you know? Let me go, won’t you?”
Wendell sighed, his breathing starting to even out. “Yeah. Get out of here.”
“What about a couple pills, man? I’m hurtin here.”
His eyes narrowed. “Get. Out.” Pete swallowed and hurried out the door. Wendell rifled through the man’s pockets, slipping the wad of cash in the wallet in his pocket. He tossed the knife in the trash can and, growling, kicked the guy once more for good measure. Then he opened a bottle, popping a couple pills in his mouth. That knife wound in the shoulder was going to be a bitch.
Outside he tossed the gym bag in the cab of his truck, wasting no time getting back on the interstate. At some point someone would finally call the police and he didn’t want be sitting there when it happened. He dropped off 75 on Boonesborough Road, pulling into the truck stop. He could hear police sirens racing down the highway and grinned. By the time they got any description, IF they got any description, he’d be too far away to have to worry. Might as well call in and get it over with.
“Put the old man on,” he told the girl that answered, shifting on his seat. The shoulder and the slice on his side was starting to bother him. Good thing he had plenty of oxy at hand.
“Wendell, you done all ready,” the old man asked when he came on the line.
“What the fuck is going on? You trying to get rid of me?”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“I got jumped by your fucking delivery boys. Them and some other guy. Not exactly the type to do their own planning. Which don’t leave many options.”
“And you think I’d do that? Fuck, man, I ain’t got to go to all that trouble if I wanted rid of you.”
Wendell grunted. “Could be your right,” he said. “Just thought I’d check. If it ain’t you, then someone’s trying to move in. Might want to talk to your people. Those two druggies said someone from Canada was wanting to cut out the middle man.”
“I’ll look into it. Where are you?”
“Truck stop down by Boonesborough. Got the pills. Reckon you won’t mind I hang onto the money, seein as how I got knifed over it.”
“Well then just deliver them up to Pike’s Holler and consider that your payment. And Wendell?”
“So far all I got on this is your word. Don’t be fucking me on this. I’d hate to lose you.”
Wendell closed the phone and tossed it on the seat. Fuck it. Plenty of time for a piss and some lunch. Patch up the shoulder a bit.
Pike Holler was up north, bordering the Ohio River. Not a bad place to bootleg shit, Wendell had to admit. Got the customers from both sides of the river, still plenty of woods to hide in. His uncle had lived up this way, used to make money trapping and digging up roots to sell to the drug companies. It was that kind of wild place. Nothing but hills and valleys. Damn cows didn’t even know how to walk on flat land.
At least the Darlins had put in a road all the way up to their place. Getting to his uncle’s cabin had required a ten minute walk. He held the wheel with an easy grip as he took it slow along the rocky road, wheels jerking one side to the other. This was one reason everybody had shitty trucks and brand new four wheelers around here. The road led down one hill, crossed a creek then up another hill, and at the end was the Darlin house. Two story, wood siding, ain’t seen a paint brush in fifty years. The outhouse was behind the house, on the hillside. Below was the creek that led into the Ohio. Yeah, it was that kinda place. Wendell turned around and backed his truck in. He wanted to be able to leave in a hurry if need be.
One of the Darlin boys stood on the porch, hands stuffed inside his jeans pockets, jaw working at a wad of tobacco. “Who the fuck are you?”
Wendell raised the gym bag. “Got this week’s shipment. Regular guy’s sick so the old man sent me. I know how much you owe so don’t try any shit.”
“That still don’t answer my question.”
“Don’t you know nothin, Cody?” A man stepped out on the porch, beer hanging in his hand, cigarette in mouth, almost a twin of his brother. “This here is Wendell Cassidy. And Cassidy don’t think he has to answer to anybody.”
“Bobby,” Wendell said with a nod. “Sorry to hear about your momma.”
“Uh huh, I bet. Mr. High and Mighty is a delivery boy these days, huh?”
“Just temporary, Bobby. Just give me the money and I’ll get out of here. Nobody wants any trouble.”
Bobby Darlin sat his beer on the porch rail and ground his cigarette out next to it. “You sure about that, big man?”
“This is business, Bobby. No need to let personal shit interfere with business.”
“Personal shit? That’s what you call it?”
“Bobby, I ain’t in the fucking mood. It’s been a long day and I don’t want shit from your ass. Just give me the money and you can have the pills. Or I go back to the old man and tell him we need new dealers. I’m sure you remember what the firing process is like.”
“Man has balls, don’t he, Cody,” Bobby said to his brother.
“Why don’t we cut em off, feed em to the dogs?”
Wendell sighed, dropping the gym bag at his feet. “You going to pay me my money or not, Bobby?”
“Well, we’ve been thinking. What exactly do we need you guys for? You don’t do nothin and take a big chunk of the money. We do all the work as it is so maybe we should just cut out the middle man.”
Wendell sighed. What was with people today? He rolled his shoulders, pain flaring from the knife wound. The old man was going to owe him big for today. “Believe it or not, that’s not the first time I’ve heard that today. But fine, Bobby. If that’s the way you want it.” He kicked the bag closer to the porch. “Consider this your severance package. I’ll just get out of here.”
Bobby laughed. “Oh you ain’t goin nowhere.” He walked down off the porch, stopping by the bag. “Never heard of Wendell Cassidy backing down so easy. What you put in here? Got it booby trapped with a bomb or something?”
“It’s just pills, Bobby,” Wendell said, glancing up at Cody. The younger brother was still on the porch, lounging against the rail. Barechested, the only visible weapon was a folding knife in a sheath on his belt. Bobby didn’t even seem to have that much. “Getting paranoid there, Bobby. Maybe you shouldn’t smoke so much of your product.”
“I could shoot you, you know. Trespassing. Nobody’d be able to do a thing. Fuck, who’d want to?You ain’t exactly a popular man around here.” He paced a little, back and forth in front of Wendell. “Mr. High and Mighty, at the mercy of the Darlins. Scared yet, asswipe? Ready to squeal?”
Wendell reached behind him, pulling out his Colt .45. He gripped it in both hands, firing. Three shots pounded into Bobby Darlin, dropping him into the dirt. Wendell stepped forward. Cody had dived for the door of the house as soon as the shooting had started, scrambling to grab the shotgun leaning against the doorframe. He aimed carefully, firing the last five rounds at Cody. At least four hit the man, knocking him into the wall of the house. Cody still tried to reach inside, his fingertips just brushing the shotgun when Wendell kicked him aside.
He searched the house, throwing all the money he found inside the bag. Look like he’d doubled what he was supposed to have been paid. Him and the old man both were going to make out ok and they still had the pills to sell. Finally he dragged Bobby’s body inside and lit the place. He didn’t think the cops would give a damn about them showing up dead but there was no point to being careless.
The truck rattled and shook back down the old farm road and up the hill. The flames were nice and high by the time he reached the main road. He dialed up the old man as he headed back home. “Yeah, I got the money. The job’s done. Gonna need to find yourself some new pillbillies though.”
I’ve never met Oscar Wilde. Heard of him, sure. Dorian Grey, the indecency trial, that’s hard to miss. But I’ve never read any of his work or seen one of his plays. Whether good or bad, I went into the Neptune Theatre’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest with fresh eyes, no expectations. Well, maybe one. This is Neptune after all. We know they will knock it out of the park. It’s just becoming a question of how far.
That famous Wilde wit is rapier sharp here, and he stabs society with it and makes them like it. Nothing is off limits, from family to non-educated daily newspaper critics(one wonders if Wilde was thinking of any in particular here). He pokes holes in the idea of someone being important merely because they have a name and nice clothes but otherwise destitute. Hell, he even made cucumber sandwiches sound good.
If you don’t know the story, it introduces us to Algernon Moncrieff and Ernest Worthing. But Ernest is really Jack. Ernest is a persona, the profligate brother Jack goes to see in London whenever he needs to get away and have some fun. Which is something Algernon understands well, being a Bunburyist himself. What is a Bunburyist one may ask? Why Bunbury is the invalid (and fictional) friend Algernon visits whenever he needs to leave the city and his aunts interminable dinner parties. Nothing as horrible as a married couple flirting with each other, you know.
Jack is love with Gwendolen, who loves Ernest. And Algernon, pretending to be Ernest, meets and falls in love with Cecily. (Incidentally, this is my only problem with the play. It seemed as if Algernon only wanted to meet and bed Cecily to piss off Jack. But he meets her and suddenly she’s the love of his life. Minor quibble, to be sure, when everything else is rock solid.) Of course, everyone ends up at the same country house and the fall out is…well, you should really see for yourself. It is quite wonderfully written and Oscar Wilde nailed women here, and everything else, like nobody else.
Ah, but that’s the play, which is the same story everywhere. How did Neptune do? Absolutely fantastic. The set and costumes are the first thing to catch ones attention. And Sean Mulcahy did an amazing job. While in some ways the set was simple, nothing moving, only (only he says) three individual set pieces, it is also extravagant Victorian houses we are looking at here. And they were truly beautiful. And bonus points for showing us the statue through the window of the country house that we see in the garden. A little thing that is greatly appreciated and shows an eye to detail. The costumes, the clothes, the hats, were utterly beautiful and seemed quite accurate. Specifically the women’s dresses. Very well done.
Ah, time for the meat and potatoes. The acting. Amazing job from everyone. From the lazy insouciance of Algernon to the, well, earnestness of Jack, all the actors inhabited their roles as if they were born to them. Algernon is a little flashier, while Jack is a bit long suffering and serious but they both could be over played. That doesn’t happen here. Michael Therriault as Algernon and David Leyshon as Jack were great fun to watch. The rapid fire wordplay was batted back and forth with nary a trip. Even the height difference between the two was played off in a quite natural way. You couldn’t help but want to hear about more of their sordid London outings.
The real stand outs for me were the girls. Marla McLean plays Gwendolen and Chilina Kennedy(a beautiful name I may steal for a character) is Cecily Cardew. The characters come to life in their capable hands. Their odd love for the name Ernest and the characteristics a man with such a name must possess, their feud as rivals to calling each sister, it was really amazing, and hilarious, to watch. And these two young women were just as facile with Wildes language and jokes as the gentlemen. In fact, the cast was top notch from top to bottom, with Lady Bracknell also having some hilarious lines and delivery.
This is Neptunes 50th year and they only keep getting better. I believe George Pothitos, the artistic director, could stage a play against a black curtain and it would be awesome. I’ve never been a theatre guy but I’m coming to love it, and Neptune specifically. A great place with great people who produce great results. The Importance of Being Earnest will have you laughing, sniggering, maybe groaning a time or two. But you will never be bored. It is entertaining from start to finish. So go see it if you can. You won’t be disappointed. And me? I’m off to read more Wilde, while having some cucumber sandwiches.
This recipe from the Glory Of Southern Cooking. Amazing book and well worth checking out. For anyone with celiac, there’s not a lot of flour in this, so it should be easy to adapt.
For The Steaks:
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg
1 cup dry bread crumbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
Four 4-ounce beef cube steaks
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons bacon drippings
For The Gravy:
2 tablespoons bacon drippings
1 large onion, minced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
To fry the steaks, combine the milk and eggs in a small bowl and whisk until well blended. In another bowl, mix the bread crumbs, salt and pepper, and cayenne pepper till well blended and transfer the mixture to a plate. Dip each steak in the liquid, coat with bread crumbs on each side, and place on a plate.
In a large heavy cast-iron skillet, heat the oil and bacon drippings over moderately high heat till quite hot. Add 2 of the steaks to the pan, cook about 2 minutes on each side or till golden brow, transfer to a plate and keep warm. Repeat with the other 2 steaks and reserve the pan drippings.
To make the gravy, heat the bacon drippings over moderate heat, add the onion and cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Sprinkle the flour over the onion and stir 1 minute longer, scraping up any brown bits from the pan. Add the heavy cream, milk, salt and pepper and whisk briskly till the gravy is thickened and smooth, 6 to 7 minutes.
To serve, place the steaks on individual plates and ladle gravy over each.
This is a damn good recipe and worked out very well. You don’t see cube steaks much here but I used what are called fast fry and it worked well. I fried up a pan full of bacon for lunch and that gave me enough drippings. The on,y thing I really changed was dropping the onion from the gravy. It’s really a matter of personal taste. As mentioned, I don’t think it’d be hard to adapt for someone with celiac, since there’s just a cup of brad crumbs and a spoonful of flour. What you would switch it with, I’ll leave to you. I used Panko crumbs, which didn’t stick as well as could be but didn’t do bad. Enjoy.
Some of you may not be here for stories of redneck hoods and copious bad language so the story will continue after the jump. Thanks for reading and feel free to leave comments.
The truck bumped along the dirt road, pulling into the field doubling as a parking lot. He parked at it the end, backing in so he’d be ready to go in a hurry if need be. He’d seen a man killed cause his vehicle was blocked in and swore he’d never make that mistake.
I love walking through the snow. Whether it’s just flurries, snow showers or a full blown storm, I just love it. It drifts down, quiet as can be, silently coating everything. You don’t always see it until you pass a street lamp, the light illuminating the white specks falling, swirling when there’s a burst of wind. The sidewalk is covered, the snow crunching under my boats as I walk. It’s quite rhythmic, really. Crunch, crunch, crunch.
Someone is walking ahead of me. I am following their footsteps. About the size as mine, but with a longer stride. A runner? Maybe I’m following myself.
I get to the main road and the snow has picked up. Either that or it’s just more visible. There’s more lights, more traffic. The snow is just swirling around as it falls. Small fat balls, long white streaks. If your wearing something dark, sometimes you see a flake land on your glove or sleeve, showing all its beauty. Mostly it’s just white. Thousands, millions of snowflakes falling to the ground where they become part of one big whole. Snow flakes to snow. Beauty to danger. To annoyance.
So we’re decorating the tree last night and my four year old suddenly gets upset. Santa was mentioned and he realizes we don’t have a fireplace or chimney. “How is Santa going to bring my presents,” he wailed, eyes tearing up and everything. (It was past bedtime and he was tired. Always makes the blow ups worse.) So I say something about Santa being magic and can just magic his way in. He’s skeptical but buys it for now.
This morning, Santa was a guest on the CTV morning show and that very question came up. Santa showed everyone his magic key, which lets him in all the doors where there are no chimneys and fireplaces. And now I have a much relieved little boy. Well played, Santa man, well played.
Just a little something that came to me. I’m not sure if it works, guess it depends on whether you buy the killer actually being the killer. But it involves a couple things I wanted to try and maybe is a little noir-ish.
It was dark when I pulled up, the squad car’s lights shining off the tree as they spun. The uniforms had the crime scene tape out and were holding back the locals. I wasn’t sure yet what I was in for, but Loo said it would be bad.
I flashed my shield and the uniform lifted the tape so I could duck under. I stopped just on the other side, scoping the scene. The techs had thrown up some floodlights and were bustling about like ants on a picnic blanket. “What do we got?”
“Murder, it looks like. Dead baby.”
Shit. Loo was right, this was bad. The press would be ravenous once they got word. Especially Bilton over at the Daily Tabloid. Fucker always liked sticking it to the department.
“The father. Was home alone with the kid. Momma comes back from the store to find…this,” he waved a hand around. “He swears it was an accident but she ain’t so sure.”
“Must be some family.”
“Don’t recognize the address?” I shook my head. “It’s the Beddows. Must remember ol’ Commodore Beddow.”
“Indeed. But that’s why you make the big bucks, Detective.”
“And fuck you, too, Malone.”
I looked around again then went over to the grieving mother. The techs didn’t need me getting in the way and they would send me a report when they had it. “Mrs. Beddow? I’m Detective Campbell.”
She looked up at me, mascara running down from tear soaked eyes. Somehow they still shone like diamonds. Must have been the floodlights. Her hands were at her waist, twisting at a tissue.
“I’m sorry for your loss, ma’am, but I need to ask you some questions, find out who did this.”
“Find out? I know who did it,” she hissed. “That son of a bitch I’m married to.” The venom in her voice almost had me taking a step back. I made a note to never piss off Sabrina Beddow.
“You weren’t here, right? How do you know what happened?”
“Look, he’s a snake in the grass. A charming snake but still a snake. He was afraid I was about to divorce him and toss him on the street. With no money. John Curtis isn’t a man who does well without money.”
“How would killing the kid fix that?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe he thought I’d turn to him in my grief. Or maybe he thought it gave him some way into Charles’ trust fund.” She blinked long lashes at me. “I’m not really good with money, Detective, other then spending it.”
I sighed. Her husband wasn’t the only charming one. The chief would have my ass if I got involved with a witness. Again.
“The officer will drive you downtown and take your formal statement, if you don’t mind, ma’am.”
“Oh, don’t call me ma’am. It’s Sabrina. And yes I will go. I want to get this over with as soon as possible.” She left with Malone, hips swaying more than I thought a grieving mother would be capable of. But she was a Beddow, the Commodore’s granddaughter at that. A woman who knew what she wanted and exactly how to get it. She was definitely a person to not take lightly. Word was the Beddow’s came out of the womb scheming. The father was next, who at least seemed to be guilty of negligence.
“Mr. Curtis? Detective Campbell. I need to ask you some questions, find out what happened here.”
He was sitting on a stump, head in his hands. He looked up as I spoke. His eyes were red, like he might have been crying but that was the only sign.
“What happened? My son is dead. The cradle fell and landed on him. Can’t you see that? Why is a detective here anyway? It was an accident.”
“Routine, sir. We have to dot all the I’s you know. Make sure nobody can come along later and accuse you of anything.”
“Accuse? What the hell? Anyone can see it was an accident.” He grabbed my hand and pulled over to the site, ignoring anyone in the way. “Look. This cradle thing was designed to hang up, let the baby look around or nap while its mom or dad was busy. It got a little windy but it seemed like a thick enough bough. Maybe it was rotted or something and with wind and the weight of the baby…” He trailed off, unable to finish. He seemed genuinely upset by the death of his child but one would act that way in front of the police. Not that I automatically believed Sabrina, er, Ms. Beddow. But something seemed off here. And what would the mother have to gain?
“We’re you and your wife about to divorce, Mr. Curtis?”
“What? How did you…” He sighed and rubbed his eyes. “Yes. She was accusing me of fucking around on her, with girls at the university. Like any girl could compete with that woman.”
“You would be left with nothing in the event of divorce, right?”
“Oh yeah. The Commodore’s lawyers drew up an airtight pre-nup. I’d be lucky to leave with a suitcase of clothes.”
“So what? You found some way to tap the baby’s trust fund if he died?”
His head rocked back as if he had been struck. And in a way, I guess he had. Anger flashed across his eyes and quicker then I would have thought, he swung at me. Caught me a pretty good clip too, knocked me on my ass. He rushed in for more but a few of the techs caught him, held him off.
“That was a fucking stupid thing to do, Curtis. Now I got you for assaulting an officer. And at this time of day, on a Saturday, you won’t see a judge till tomorrow or Monday at best. Jackson, take this shithead to the station. I’ll be along shortly.” The officer slapped on the cuffs and drug him to a car, Curtis swearing at me the entire way.
I straightened my tie and smoothed down my jacket. Was his actions the sign of guilt or an enraged father? There was no way to tell yet. Evidence was the only way to tell. If Curtis had planned this, surely there would be some sign. (For the first time, I also wondered why Sa…Ms. Beddow had never taken her husband’s name.)
The techs were finishing up, wrapping up evidence and putting away their equipment. I walked up to the ranking guy there. “Anything you can tell me, Green?”
“It’s been a slow day, I’ll have you a crime scene report in a few hours. Autopsy? Talk to their morgue.”
“Come on. I got to sweat this guy. Give me something to work with.”
“I don’t really have much. The limb was partly sawn through, up above where it couldn’t be seen. I think we found the saw in the shed but will verify when I get back to the lab. Same with finger prints. But nothing tying Curtis directly.”
“Damn. What do you know about these folks? The mother thinks he wanted the baby dead, was fucking around on her with college girls. She was going to divorce him and maybe he found a way at some money.”
“Sounds far fetched. How would that help? Besides, gossip is that it’s Miss Tight Ass Beddow that’s got some on the side. I hear its a boy in blue and the Commodore is none to happy about it. Curtis is a writer but at least he comes from good stock.”
“Where do you hear this shit?”
“My wife. She’s distantly related, gets invited to the family tea once a month.”
“There’s a family tea?”
“Yeah, the Commodore is big on that shit.”
“Heh. What are your thoughts on this?”
“Accident. I don’t see how anybody benefits. But I’ve been wrong before.”
I drove back to the station, the details of the case turning over and over in my mind. Only Curtis and Sabrina had been at home, the servants having been given the weekend off. And she had went on a trip to town, leaving Curtis alone with the child. He decides to work outside and the rest is history. It had to be him. A mother wouldn’t do that. And no stranger would benefit.
Sabrina Beddow was sitting at my partners desk, giving her formal statement to Loo. We ran a light unit on weekends and It was Adams turn off. Next weekend was mine, and I had a fishing trip in the Caribbean to look forward to. The hard part would be coming back when it was over. I nodded as I walked past, trying to ignore the smile Sabrina flashed me. Awfully friendly lady.
John Curtis was waiting in the interrogation room, head in his hands. Man looked awfully shook up. I slapped my hand on the table, causing him to jerk upright. “We found out what happened. How you cut through the branch so it’d be weak. All you had to do was wait. Now what? Sabrina takes comfort in your arms and forgets the divorce? How long before your banging college girls again?”
“What the hell? Why would I do that? I’ve never heard of a divorce. And I’ve not slept with anybody else.”
“Work with me here, Curtis. Help yourself and confess. Maybe get psychiatric treatment and a reduced sentence.”
“Detective, you sure are dumb for a guy who acts like he knows everything. Sabrina was the one screwing around, not me.”
“You expect me to believe that?”
He shrugged. “Doesn’t matter. Now I’ll remain silent until my lawyer arrives.” He turned toward the window. “You hear that? I’m asking for my lawyer.”
There wasn’t much to do after that. I left, fighting back the urge to smash his pompous face in. Fucking intellectual twat. Oh look at me, I teach writing at a university. Big deal. Some of us have to work for a living. Sabrina wasn’t in sight when I got back to my desk and Loo was just gathering some papers together.
“We have anything yet?”
“A tree branch sawn part way through. Tools in their shed that looks like the ones used. A husband that’s been cheating and a wife about to get a divorce.”
“Anything to take to a judge?”
I shook my head.
“Where’s this talk about divorce and the lady’s husband cheating come from?”
“Sa…Ms. Beddow told me. Said she had phone records and everything. He’d been messing around with students.”
“See, here’s the thing, Campbell. She says that never happened. She says she never told you that. That you came to her with this story, trying to get her husband out of the picture.”
“What? Oh, come on, Loo, that’s ridiculous.”
“Is it? There’s security footage of you visiting her house, during times when her husband was away.”
There wasn’t much to say about that. Not without sounding like a kook. “She had some security questions. Must have gotten my name from a friend.”
Loo crossed his arms. “Right. And how does that explain you scaring her into sex, and trying to convince her to run off to the Caribbean with all her money. Poor lass couldn’t see anyway out but to agree. And then you kill her child and try to frame her husband for it?” He shook his head. “I thought I knew you, Campbell. Hand over your weapon. Malone, cuff him and get him to a cell.”
There was no point in fighting. Not in a police station. And with no one to go. I didn’t talk much, pleaded guilty when it came to trial. Least that way I might get out before I’m a decrepit old man. She visited me once, before sentencing. Brand new designer dress on. Sweetest smelling perfume you ever caught a whiff of.
“Well, it all worked out in the end, Joe.”
“Not for me.”
She smiled, teeth blinding white. “Of course not. But dear John gets none of my money since he started the divorce proceedings. And Charles’ trust fund is all mine.”
“I could talk.”
“Sure and who would believe you now. They think you terrorized a poor mother and murdered her child. After that, who can blame me for moving away from this hellhole and the fucking Commodore.” Her voice had started to rise at the end and she stopped, taking a breath and calming herself. I never did know what she had against her grandfather but it ran deep.
“Have fun then.”
“Oh, I will, Joe. I imagine I’ll be a hit on those Caribbean beaches. Maybe I’ll even be able to find my groove again. Ta ta, Joe. I’ll send you a postcard.”
Then she was gone, leaving me with the scent of her perfume and a flash of legs and cleavage. Probably just to torture me while I was behind bars. “Rock a bye, baby,” I muttered as I watched her flounce away.