“Murder on the Good Ship Lollipopooza” by Cappy Hall Rearick
This story appears in the anthology “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Travel.”
Two years ago, I was a passenger on the Good Ship Lollipopooza, navigated by the intrepid Captain Crunch who refused to make port because he didn’t want to get his ship dirty. So we kept sailing and sailing while chefs kept cooking and cooking and sympathetic bartenders kept pouring and pouring.
One night after two—OK, make it three—martinis, as I waited for the elevator to arrive, I happened to overhear a conversation of an elderly couple. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but, hey, I’m a writer. It’s what I do. You’ve been warned.
He said, “Murder can always be made to look like suicide. It’s easy.”
My ears perked up. My martini legs wobbled while I leaned closer so I could hear more. Being a writer does not mean I have a lick of sense.
I stepped on the elevator with them but stood near the emergency button in case I needed to make a fast getaway from Medicare Bonnie and Clyde.
He said, “If we’re going to do it tonight, we should get out of these clothes first.”
She gave him a look. “You’re right. I wouldn’t want to mess up my good shoes.”
He said, “Not to mention that pretty dress you’re wearing.”
OMG, I thought.
I moved even closer to the big red emergency button.
Gazing at them, I thought they looked like grandparents in a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving painting. I could see him decked out in a suit worn only twice a year, his holiday bow tie slightly catawampus. I imagined him sharpening the knife and carving the turkey, while she, smiling sweetly, waited at his side, wearing a holiday apron and holding a bowl of yams with those little miniature marshmallows on top.
I cleared my throat.
“Pardon me,” I said. They looked up as though seeing me for the first time.
“I didn’t mean to listen in on your conversation, but I think it’s only fair to tell you that I’m a newspaper columnist and I might have . . . might have overheard the word murder as we were getting on the elevator. I heard wrong. Right?”
They looked me in the face and didn’t say a word. They didn’t even blink!
I got very up close and personal with the big red button.
I was jabbering, but eventually it hit a home run with them because they tore their eyes away from mine, looked at each other and burst out laughing. I, on the other hand, was not amused. I was freakin’ freaked out.
“I’m just a small-time columnist,” I said, defensively. “I don’t write for a biggie newspaper like The New York Times or the Daily News, so whatever you’re planning to do or not do, you have nothing to worry about. Your secret is safe with me.”
They kept staring at me like I was the one about to get my picture put up in post offices all over the country.
“You should know that writers make a habit of eavesdropping because we live very dull lives so we have to steal experiences from other people. Not nice married couples like you, though. I’m rambling, aren’t I? Let’s just forget everything I said, OK? Oh, please, can I get off the elevator now?”
He said, “We’re not married. At least not to each other.”
She said, “He’s better than a husband. A great lover. Aren’t you, sweetie?”
He turned to her and said tenderly, “Well, I wouldn’t call you a slouch in that department.”
OMG. Will this elevator never stop?
She eyeballed me. “We’ve embarrassed you. Well, take it from me, cupcake, you gotta make hay while the sun shines.”
He laughed. “And make Betty while Fred’s moon shines.” Then they both laughed till tears rolled down their cheeks. “She’s Betty—I’m Fred. Get it?”
I so wanted off that freaking elevator.
Betty leaned over, nuzzled Fred right in front of me, big as you please. “Oh, Fred, you’re gonna kill me yet, you know that?”
Holy homicide! The doors opened and I galloped out of there faster than the racehorse named I’ll Have Another. When I looked back at them, they were still checking me out and laughing. I shivered.
Fred called out to me. “Hey you, Ms. Brenda Starr! Meet us up on Deck 12 at midnight for the Murder Mystery Game Finale. It’s been going on all week, but with your imagination, you’ll catch up in no time.”
At least that’s what I thought I heard him say.
Cappy Hall Rearick is a syndicated newspaper columnist, an award-winning short story writer and author of six books and five successful columns. Featured by the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop as a Humor Writer of the Month, Rearick’s humor and short fiction has been read and enjoyed in anthologies throughout the country. Cappy is a regular contributor to the NYMB series: read her equally hilarious story “Thanksgiving is Relative” posted on this blog in November 2014 (http://bit.ly/1zZjvcL).
Again, this story appears in “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Travel.” The book features 58 travel stories from around the world. Purchase this book today from your favorite retailer, Amazon (http://amzn.to/108SSFD) or Barnes & Noble (http://bit.ly/1tAGDZF).
To submit your stories for consideration in future NYMB titles, go to http://www.PublishingSyndicate.com and click on the “Not Your Mother’s Book” tab.