Halloween Mystery Short Story: Scot-Free

Oct 25, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze, Terrific Tales

by Wil A. Emerson

“What should we do with the body?”

“We won’t do anything if he doesn’t die.” Lizzie McGuire, always the one to make the major decisions, gazed at her twin sister. Betsy had a knack for handling a variety of situations, but none came under the category of personal importance or social necessity.

Lizzie took a sip from her water glass and watched as people gathered at the bar. Oh my, what a spectacle. All those costumes. Half the gals dressed like Barbie, all the rage, blond wigs, tight-knit dresses that didn’t hide wrinkles and bumps, and the other half as silly as they’d looked in junior high school. Homemade costumes, stitched and glued with feathers and sequins. Mobster girlfriends or Vegas show girls. Not a one of them able to pull off the stunt. But you got to love them for trying, Lizzie thought.

Betsy sipped on Bacardi rum and diet Coke. It would take her all evening to finish one tall drink. Her fear of becoming addicted kept her from enjoying adult beverages in a crowd. Truth was, she did like to drink with Willy. One glass of scotch after dinner seemed to make the whole evening go better.

Fifteen minutes passed before Betsy asked, “Is he dead?”

“Would your only sister lie to you?”

“You always answer a question with a question. Can’t you give me a straight answer, Lizzie? Is he dead?”

“You’ll know if he doesn’t move under the table, Betsy. If not, what else could be going on down there?”

“Maybe he’s not moving because he drank two full glasses, two pints, mind you, of Glenfiddich before we got here. The reunion and Halloween celebration got mixed together before we took over and told him to take it easy.”

“Nothing new about that. He’s done the drinking since he was a wee boy.”

“What a snot. Always fashioned himself after William Wallace. Descendant of a great warrior, defender, and lover man. Huh, well, he can kiss my Blarney Stone goodbye.”

“Not anymore, Betsy dear. I think he’s sang his last tune, played his last bagpipe.”

“You’re more confident than I am, Lizzie. He’s going to start snoring any minute. So loud the band might stop playing.”

“William McIntosh, once a stout forty-three-year-old boy, two wives left behind, won’t flutter those big brown eyes at another woman ever again,” Lizzie said in a whisper.

“Bless the heavens for that. Oops, here comes nosey Roberta. Keep your knees wide and stretch out the witch’s dress so she can’t see a darn thing under the table.”

“I just had to stop by and say hello, Lizzie, Betsy. My two favorite nurses. How lovely you both look. Such unlikely costumes. A witch and a she-devil. Now, the whole town knows you dear ones are saints. Nurses all these years.”

“Change of pace, good medicine for the soul,” Lizzie said.

“Ain’t that the truth,” Betsy said.

halloweenRoberta flashed her eyes around their table and then to the next. “A brilliant idea to have the high-school reunion and Halloween party on the same night. Everyone’s up and dancing. I haven’t seen Willy yet. Don’t want to miss him.”

“Good to see you, too, Roberta, looking like a star in your pink outfit. Willy’s the same ole Willy. Check out the bar. He’s around somewhere.”

“He’s probably on the dance floor. Lord, the committee should have picked a better place. Everyone showed up. Hardly enough room to move. If you’re dancing with someone, you’re rubbing butts with the guy behind you!” Roberta glanced over her shoulder.

“Ain’t that the truth,” Betsy said.

“You probably danced with Willy before you got here.” Roberta laughed. “Plenty of singles here tonight. Heck, everyone dances with someone they didn’t come with. That’s the point of the reunion.”

“Plenty of time left for dancing,” Betsy said. She smiled, but it didn’t last long.

“Did you see Walt Mason’s here? He’s looking for dance partners, too. Wasn’t he the biggest fan of the McGuire sisters in high school? You two always had the pick of the litter.”

“Ain’t that the truth.” Lizzie sighed.

“Oh, look, that’s Karen Holly waving this way. Roberta, she wants you on the dance floor. Go ahead. Do the Electric Slide; you two were the best back in the day,” Betsy said.

Roberta tottered away, waving her hand, calling out, “You hoo, you hoo, Karen, I’ll dance with you.”

“Liz, whew! I thought for a minute she’d plop down at our table. I swear, that gal still gets on my nerves. Just like in tenth grade. The little slut was hoping to do a grind on Willy again. No such luck.”

“Smart of you, Betsy, to grab the only three-seater. The table committee intended this for the three techies to sit together. They never mingled in high school, but look at them out there now. Up front, taking over the bar. Thick as thieves and showing off like they owned the world. Fancy zoot suits. Who wears an Armani to a twenty-fifth high school reunion? They must think this is a big deal.”

Well, they did sell their games to Apple. Can’t say I blame them. But no dates with them. Do you think, Liz, they’re serious roomies?”

“Probably won’t ever hear a ‘me too’ story about those three.”

“Guaranteed. Not that I care. But let’s not make a fuss over their success if they come this way. Treat them the way we always did.”

“You mean ignore them?”

“No, silly. Like nice guys who wouldn’t hit on us. Maybe if a little of their stuff rubbed off on Willy, he might have been a better person.”

“Ain’t that the truth.”

“Liz, can I relax my knees now? I’m worn out. Keeping them wide open under this heavy dress. Why in the world did the committee insist on costumes?”

“Worked in our favor, didn’t it? Relax. You picked the perfect outfits. The skirts are wide enough to hide what’s under the table. But just in case, get your act together if more curious eyes come our way. Won’t be long before some of Willy’s old drinking buddies will chase him down.”

“Saw that wreck of a guy, Hank Brewster. Remember him?”

“He took Algebra I three times and never got more than a D. For the love of me, I don’t know why they let him keep trying. That boy just wasn’t college material. He works third shift at Gorman’s. Happy, they say.”

“When he took the twelve steps and stopped hanging with Willy. That was the big turn-around.”

“Ain’t that the truth.”

“Oh no. Look. It’s the preacher coming our way. I’d run if I could. Don’t move. Put your purse on Willy’s seat. Here’s mine, too. He’ll sit and gab for an hour if he gets a chance. He’ll wait for Willy’s return so he can pray with him.”

“Damn Willy. Always looking for a ‘blessing’. Never put a penny in the collection pot, though. You’d think the preacher would have gotten smart about Willy’s little game.”money

A tall, thin man in a dark blue suit, white shirt and purple-striped tie approached the table. His face shined, full round cheeks, bright red, and brown eyes wide, as if he’d been running.

“Sisters, so glad to see you at the class reunion. Can you believe it’s been two and a half decades? Time flies.” He tipped his head to the ceiling. “What a blessing.”

“God works in mysterious ways,” Betsy said with a broad smile. “No costume, Pastor Mike?”

“Just came from a visit. Hospitals can be dreary, you know. No time to think about dressing for fun. Just count our blessings we are all still here.”

“We’re all still here except for the Donnor boys. Remember that car crash two weeks after diploma day? Sad day for their parents.”

Lizzie shook her head, “What about Sara Lindley? Breast cancer at only thirty-two. Treated her twice on my surgery floor.”

“Who can forget Josh Brogan? Awful. Got whacked in prison. Well, at least he didn’t have to spend the next twenty years wondering what to do when he got out.”

“Ain’t that the truth.”

Betsy wiped at her eyes and then reached for her purse in pursuit of a tissue. “I did choke up when I read about Matthew Gibson. What a voice he had.”

“Ain’t that the truth.”

“But you can’t go on singing long if you’re doing coke and the mary-jane day and night. Some life, huh?”

“Actually, Liz, Betsy, I meant us…you two sisters, Willy, and, well, me. All here together to join hands…”

“We’ll keep an eye out for you, Pastor Mike. In case Willy has a free minute or two.”

“That will be wonderful. I’d love to share a blessing with him. Such a faithful man. Talk to you later.” Pastor Mike turned in a flash, as if he needed to get to the bar.

“Well, Liz, you handled that like a pro. A death story gets him running every time. Weak kneed. Passed out getting the vaccine. Thought for a minute he was going to hang around ‘til the end, though. Not a lot of people looking for a prayer meeting tonight.”

“When this is all said and done, I’ll tell him about Willy’s nasty fingers trick. Slipped a dollar in the basket and took out any five or ten he’d see. No qualms about it.”

“Pastor Mike will lose his love for the ‘faithful’ if you tell him the truth about Willy.” Betsy giggled.

“He’ll never take his eye off the collection basket again. Might have to assign someone to guard it. Spare him the grief.”

“Maybe. But now we’ve got bigger fish to fry. More than worrying about Pastor Mike.”

“You mean the aftermath of our delicious plan?”

“The immediate aftermath. Not the forever after. The disposal plan.”

“Oh my gosh, yes. We’ve got to get him out of here. This dang reunion is supposed to last until eleven.”

“The wild bunch will leave early. Go to Calum’s over in Moray for another pint or two. I’ve given it considerable thought.” Lizzie patted her sister’s hand.

“He won’t start smelling by then?”

“Heavens no. That takes hours.”

“You’re sure he’s gone?” Betsy had a strained look about her. Her eyes darted back and forth.

“The only thing sure about Willy being alive was he drank his favorite whiskey in a Glencairn Crystal glass. Thought it made him all upper class and high society. But sure I am now, a glass of Glenfiddich will never pass those lying lips again. I’ve kicked him about seven times. He’s not budged. Not even a twitch. Pancuronium. Knowing an ICU nurse pays off.”

“Ain’t that the truth.” Betsy sighed. “I thought another needle poke or two with the neuro-blocker might be needed when he first sat down. He didn’t fade fast.”

syringe“Brought plenty. He swatted his arm like it was a nasty mosquito bite and then took a big swallow of his ‘one and only drink’ for the night. Fat chance on that.”

“That last little poke when he’d got himself numb with the whiskey. A downhill ride into oblivion. Slipped under the table like a baby in bath water. No need for a booster.”

“Good thing we had back-up, though. Willy never reacts like other people. Oh no. Puts up a fuss or is drop-dead drunk but still bolts to join his buddies for a third round.” Lizzie huffed. “Behaved this time.”

“Ain’t that the truth.”

“Oh dear, Sister, look. There’s Walt Mason gazing our way again. He actually winked. Handsome guy. What do you think it would take for him to help us out?”

“Walt Mason? Charm and a little sex, for starters. He says every single time I see him, ‘If you two were scot-free…’”

“That scoundrel. Both of us, huh?” Lizzie’s eyebrows drew together, and lines formed around her mouth.

“Isn’t that what Willy did to us? Only he got a divorce in between. We just didn’t know for a while that we were being fooled.”

“I could have killed him when I found out he cheated on me with my very own twin.”

“Ain’t that the truth.”

“So, what’s the difference if we invite Walt to join us? With Walt, we’d know what’s going on. Honest man, runs a good business. And we’re together. No competition.”

Once again, Lizzie made a major decision, and it erased her frown. She patted her sister’s arm. “I’ll catch his eye. You get your smile on. Let that strap fall a little. We’re about ready to hit the mid-forties, but we’ve still got our looks.”

“Walt Mason is a desperate man, and he’ll be all ours,” Betsy said.

“You know this door opens to the back pickup and delivery area. We slide slick Willy out from under the table at eleven, when the crowd has died down. We wiggle him, drag him by the shoulders. Friends will think he’s drunk again, out on his ass. Walt just has to pull his van up.” Lizzy smiled, pleased with the plan.

“Walt Mason’s Family Mortuary. Our very own incinerator man.” Betsy giggled. “Could love him to death, couldn’t we? After he helps us give Brave Heart Willy a hot ending.”

“Ain’t that the truth.”

“What a great Halloween night. Exchange Willy for Wally. And the two sisters are scot-free.”

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new Halloween episode went up this week.

Wil A. Emerson is a crime and mystery writer who’s published in anthologies and full length fiction. Her work takes on a humorous edge but, with a certainty, her characters are close to the dead or deadly. Still a licensed Registered Nurse, she’s set aside a stethoscope for writing full time. An avid traveler, her characters are often derived from the people she meets. She resides in Raleigh, N.C. where beach and mountain scenes are replicated on canvas. When not writing, she paints. No idle fingers for Wil A. Emerson. View her Gallery at: www.wilemerson.com


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