Monday, August 26, 2013

Hot Enough to Kill by Paula Boyd

I dutifully followed, wondering exactly how best to handle this somewhat ticklish situation. No clear plan emerged, so I figured I ought to try to be the good and attentive daughter she’d always wished for. I clicked up the latches, opened her door then hurried around to the driver’s side to start the car—and the blessed air conditioner. I wriggled inside, hoping to keep the thin fabric of my shorts between me and the Texas-fried leather seat. The skin on the back of my thighs sizzled as it bonded to the seat, but I started the car and said not a word, knowing Lucille would not appreciate my ugly thoughts about either the heat or her predicament. I also knew she’d spill her guts about the whole sordid mayor affair soon enough without any coaxing.

After a predictable show of climbing into “that monster truck,” as she called it, Lucille settled herself into the passenger side and pointed all the air conditioner vents toward her face.

“Good heavens, I’m glad to be free,” she said, patting her piled-high hair. “Nobody knows what I’ve been through. What took you so long to get here? Those no-account deputies wouldn’t listen to a thing I said. Asking their silly questions over and over, and then talking to me like I was some dirty criminal when I didn’t say just what they wanted to hear.” She huffed and clucked her tongue. “I did get my own room, though.”

“Your own room?”

“Well, I don’t think the whole world needs to know that Lucille Jackson was put in a jail cell. Me, in jail! Why, the very nerve of those people!”

Technically, I was one of the “nervy” people since I’d agreed that Lucille should wait with the deputies until I arrived. It had seemed the best thing to do at the time, although I wasn’t going to confess my part in her captivity or try to explain my good intentions. That sort of thing has never worked—trust me.

And while we’re setting the record straight, Lucille had spent her time in an office—not a jail cell—and had apparently been quite content to use the department’s telephone and call her friends while she waited for her only child to pick her up. That was the official version. I couldn’t wait to hear my mother’s interpretation.

Lucille reached into her purse and dug out a tissue. After a good blow and sniff, she said, “It was the silliest thing, really. I was up at the Dairy Queen, minding my own business, having a nice glass of iced tea with Agnes Riddles and Merline Campbell, and the next thing I knew these two big old goons had jerked me out of my chair and tossed me into the back of their patrol car. It was just a crying shame, I tell you, treating me like that. Why, that Jerry Don Parker wouldn’t even be sheriff if it weren’t for your father—God rest his soul. And what does he do to repay me? Why, he sends his big old goons out to haul me in like some thug, and right in front of the whole town.”

The town was small, but not small enough for the entire populace to fit inside the Dairy Queen—particularly one with a maximum capacity sign that read 56fifty-six. I could make additional corrections to her story, but decided to just hit the high points. “Those goons, as you call them, said you refused to talk to them and that you threatened to ‘kick both of their butts’—that was a quote—if they laid a hand on you.”

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Genre – Mystery & Thriller / Women Sleuth

Rating – PG13

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