Summer And August (preview)
Updated 10/26/09

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Summer And August

CHAPTER 1

JUNE 7 – 9:00 A.M.

MORGUE - CHATHAM, MASSACHUSETTS

 

“A BLOW TO THE BACK OF THE HEAD INCAPACITATED JERSEY ZAYRES,” said Doctor Curt Shirlington, hooking his hands on the pockets of his white lab coat. “At that point, Mr. Zayres either fell or a person (or persons) unknown at this time jostled Mr. Zayres into the dumpster. Impalement through the abdomen by means of a metal corner protector, which had been disposed of during the latest round of renovations at the Chatham Inn and Conference Center, is the ultimate cause of death.”

“Impalement,” mumbled Celia Beale.

From the opposite side of the stainless steel gurney, Curt noted the manner in which the middle-aged woman, clad in black, scanned the sheet-draped corpse. Her eyes locked on the tag that dangled off the right toe

Special Agent Robert Pomoroy spoke up, “That’s right. Jersey Zayres fell on a metal spike.”

Celia Beale slid a sidelong glance at the angular young Fed. Intense eye contact between the two ensued.

Celia Beale remains exceptionally stationary, thought Curt. Although, I detected a slight furrowing of the brow. She utters nary a word, simply gazes at Robert. Indeed, our Ms. Beale is aware of my young chum directing the investigation of missing drugs at the Rehab Center where she is a nurse. Jersey Zayres was the fence—that is well known, according to Robert. Be that as it may, the FBI requires hard evidence, he says. Knowing Robert as I do, I expect that he will stop at nothing to acquire such evidence.

Pomoroy’s square jaw hardened, his eyes a camera photographing every infinitesimal move Celia Beale made, every infinitesimal emotion, which nobody else could even come close to discerning.

Celia Beale blinked—though it was hardly a blink—once; and a second later, she broke eye contact, peering down at the corpse. Her bobbed, henna-black hair slopped forward, obscuring a major portion of her face. Her voice came as a controlled stammer, “M-murdered?”

Pomoroy snorted. “Certainly appears that way.”

Curt scrutinized the brash, bronze-toned Fed who stood a couple of inches taller than the doctor. A navy blue windbreaker, jeans, and white running shoes camouflaged a lean, muscular, six-foot frame. Ah, yes, Curt reflected. I do recall a time of being that vibrant, that brazen. Indeed, youth is wasted on the young.

“My poor, poor Jersey.”

Celia Beale’s moaning hauled Curt out of deepening retrospection. His shoulder twitched—that’s when he noticed her hands cupping the lifeless cheeks of Jersey Zayres. Don’t tell me the woman is about to make a spectacle of herself by kissing the deceased. However, Celia Beale did not kiss the lifeless cheeks of Jersey Zayres. Instead, she let go and straightened. Cocking her head to one side, she just looked at the corpse, her face unreadable. A moment passed. She patted the naked left shoulder. Then her hand began to drift—down the naked bicep—down to elbow—down beneath the sheet that mounded as if a serpent slithering all but undetected by an intended prey.

Curt clasped his hands, struggling to contain outrage. Such action borders on the perverse!

The sheet flatted as her fingers spread out, bridging the lifeless hand of Jersey Zayres. Once again, the sheet mounded as she clutched his hand then towed it out into the open. She bent to kiss it, but paused, her eyes narrowing upon the band of pale skin at the base of the hand’s third finger. “Ring… Where is Jersey’s ring? He always wears that ring.” Her eyes darted to the dead man’s ear. “And his diamond earring… Jersey always wears that diamond earring.”

“Take it easy, Ma.” Anxiety clouded the face of twenty-one-year-old Quincy Beale as he rubbed her shoulder.

So that is it, thought Curt, analyzing Celia and Quincy Beale. Jersey Zayres sought the good life via illicit drug trafficking on Cape Cod, perhaps intending to make it big so that at some point in the future, he might retire to South Florida to run a fishing charter business. Ah, yes, our dear Celia Beale—and perchance the innocent-appearing Quincy—had it in mind to hitch a ride on Mr. Jersey’s upward mobility.

Celia Beale appeared taller now, having stiffened her five-foot-two frame. No longer was she clutching lifeless hand. Instead, her hands were clamped to her hipbones. Her black eyes, sharper than a surgeon’s scalpel, were dissecting Quincy. Her gaze shifted suddenly to the head of the gurney, riveting on Detective Rodney Clement of the Chatham Police Department. Hostility grated her voice. “What about Jersey’s wallet? I suppose that is also missing? So who found my Jersey in that nasty dumpster anyways? And where’s his clothes? What happened to all his stuff?”

Clement appeared unruffled, although splotches of red were beginning to pepper his face. “We are holding Mr. Zayres’ effects until the conclusion of the case.”

“Conclusion of the case,” echoed Celia Beale, her voice half an octave higher than before. Her right hand yanked back her hair as she zeroed in for a better view of the detective. Her gypsy eyebrows arched.

“Yes, ma’am.” Clement gave a casual nod. “At the conclusion of the case, Mr. Zayres’ effects will be released to next of kin.”

“Jersey didn’t have relatives,” spewed Celia Beale, puffing up her chest and jouncing her hands. “And you know what? Jersey was going to marry me!” She wide eyed Quincy, nodding at him. “Isn’t that right, honey?”

The young man shifted uncomfortably as his sunken eyes avoided hers. “Yeah, Ma.”

Celia Beal pursed her lips. Hooking her hands on her hips once again, she sent the detective a full-bodied so-there nod.

Clement’s ruddy brow tightened.

So much for detached professionalism, Curt thought. Indeed, this situation is becoming volatile. He cleared his throat—loudly—the way his English-born father always had when the youngster Curt had erred—and gestured toward the exit. “Shall we continue this discussion in the medical examiner’s office? Detective Clement, will you be so kind as to direct the way?”

As Curt leaned over to replace the sheet over the head of the corpse, he noticed Quincy Beale take Celia Beale’s arm. However, she remained steadfast. Curt could hear her teeth grinding. Quincy gave a light tug. She squinted at his hand, then up at his tormented face. What meager color the young man possessed drained swifter than water in a low-flush toilet. His hand fell away. Her eyes shot back to the sheet-draped corpse, thinning to mere slits. “Pearle did it,” she hissed.

Quincy stumbled backward. “Ma! Don’t say that!”

Curt exchanged silent astonishment with Pomoroy. They glanced at Clement who was staring back at them, red splotches swarming his face and neck. “Pearle?” mumbled the detective. Fishing a pencil and spiral pad out of his shirt pocket, he struggled to appear unruffled. “Pearle Who?”

Celia Beale ignored the question, focusing instead on Quincy who was now a light shade of green and seeming on the verge of vomiting. Her insistence came in a low rumbling seethe: “Pearle did it, honey. You and I both know it was Pearle that murdered Jersey.”

His hands covered his ears as Quincy waved his head side-to-side, cowering so much that his five-feet-nine stature seemed cut in half.

Clement tapped the pencil on the pad. Managing to portray a fair amount of indignation, he insisted, “Ms. Beale. I must have the last name of this Pearle individual you keep talking about.”

Celia Beale glared at the detective. “Key! Pearle Key! Yes, that Pearle was so horribly jealous of Jersey and me! That’s how come she murdered my Jersey!”

“Ma, please.” Moisture glazed Quincy Beale’s eyes. “You can’t mean that.”

Celia Beale broke into a crying jag. “But she did, honey!” Celia Beale threw herself across the sheet-draped corpse. “Jersey was going to marry me! And…and Pearle didn’t like it at all. So she murdered him! Pearle murdered my poor, poor Jersey!”
 


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