As you'll recall from last week's episode of Stan and Ollie, they are now in Cortez, Mississippi, trying to solve the death of Consuelo Fairchild, daughter of the Tulip King. While investigating in Bo's Blossoms, they spy the fiance! Enjoy, then be sure to visit the other briefers, whose links follow my tale!
Stan and Ollie #7
We make a hasty exit from the flower shop, keeping a close eye on our target. Flower in hand, the geneticist threads his way among the pedestrians on the sidewalk, while we maintain a discreet distance behind him. I am totally baffled as to the meaning behind the single flower. Many possibilities, but speculation is futile at this moment.
Usually, when someone is murdered, friends and family become the first suspects, beginning with the wife or husband of the deceased. In this case, fiancé. Granted, we have no proof that Consuelo was murdered, but it has been our experience that people who die peacefully do not lose their way such as those who’ve met with violence do.
So Egbert is a natural person of interest. His actions are odd, although not necessarily suspicious. Yet.
Ollie still wears his minion about his neck like a cheap boa. That doesn’t stop me from keeping as close to him as possible, ignoring her hisses of displeasure, our arms linked together as we tail Egbert. He ducks down a side street and we follow.
To my surprise, the street ends abruptly a short distance before us. Or rather it leads to something else. The entrance to a public park. That’s something unexpected. The lights of this park are just beginning to flicker on, but visibility is still decent, at least for now. We should be able to keep him under surveillance. And if push comes to shove, we have a secret weapon or two up our sleeves.
He walks with a purpose, not looking around, not pausing for anything or anyone, the single tulip clasped firmly in his hand.
It’s a pleasant little park, as such things go. Obligatory grass dotted with beds of variegated flowers, perhaps courtesy of Bo’s Blossoms. Swings and a jungle gym, seesaws and a merry-go-round for the kiddies to occupy themselves with. And a small pond, across which lies an arched bridge. Under other circumstances, I’d consider it romantic. Maybe…
Ollie and I exchange glances. His gaze moves upward, and I follow it with my own. Stars begin to twinkle in the backdrop of the sky. I’ve never been what you call a stargazer, but now they can’t help but remind me of Ollie’s beautiful eyes, the way they sparkle and shine.
When I was a little kid, back when Gwin and I were a lot younger, Mom told us when you wish upon a star, your voice reaches to the heavens and God hears your wish and grants it. I didn’t really believe her then, even if Gwin and I spent a lot of time muttering our heartfelt wishes to the sky. Then I grew up and forgot about it. Until the night my every wish came true—the night that Ollie stepped into my life.
Wait. Momentarily blindsided by my own reverie, I spy Egbert standing atop the bridge. And he’s not alone. Damn, we’re too far away to listen. Time to send in the auxiliary troops.
Ollie unwinds Xylina from about his neck, sets her on her feet, and she races toward the bridge. We take a strategic position where we can see everything perfectly without being noticed, although we’re too far away to hear. But that problem will be solved momentarily.
A woman stands beside Egbert on the footbridge. Egbert doesn’t seem to notice her, intent upon the water below. Xylina slinks onto the bridge; they pay her no attention. Whatever she hears, Ollie will hear. And if he and I touch, I can hear as well. That is only part of the bond between them. At this moment, it’s a useful thing.
“How long are you going to keep doing this?” That’s the woman.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean just that. How long are you going to wait for a woman who’s obviously run off and left you at the altar?”
“Donna, please…” I can hear annoyance in Egbert’s voice. He doesn’t turn toward her. In fact, I think he takes a step away, but she closes the distance between them once again. She reaches for his arm, lays her hand on it.
“I’m sorry, but I hate to see you hurt—”
“She didn’t leave me, and I wish you’d not talk about Consuelo like that… She might be hurt… she might be kidnapped… you don’t know…”
“If she was kidnapped, there’s be a ransom note, wouldn’t there? Honey, I know you love her, just like I do. Consuelo is my best friend, and I hate to say it, but I think she’s playing spoiled heiress. Gone away to have some fun somewhere else. It’s how she is.”
Wow. With friends like that, Consuelo doesn’t need enemies.
“It is not.” His voice is filled with indignation. “You don’t know her as well as you think.” He shrugs off her hand and steps away from her, holding the single tulip upraised.
“Come back to me, Consuelo. Come back soon, my darling.” He brings the flower to his lips and kisses it reverently before tossing it toward the pond. I see it poised for a moment, a dark silhouette against the night sky, before it drops from view onto the water below. He turns away from the woman at his side and makes his way across the bridge, never looking back. She stands there, as if undecided, but doesn’t follow, muttering a fairly decent collection of curse words beneath her breath. I think we’ve heard enough.
“Come back,” Ollie murmurs, and too soon we’ve been rejoined by her majesty.
“Interesting.” That’s my comment.
“He loves her, Stan, we have to help him.” I hear the pain in his voice; draw him near to me, stroking his blond curls.
“We will,” I promise. I hold him close, soothing him, until an all too familiar female voice draws my attention.
“Well, well, if it isn’t a small world after all. What are you two doing in Nowhere, Mississippi?”
Damn the fourth estate anyway.
to be continued
Now see what my fellow Briefers are up to!
Cia Nordwell m/m
Lily Sawyer m/m
MC Houle m/m
Victoria Adams m/f
Elizabeth Morgan m/f
Tali Spencer m/m
Elyzabeth VaLey m/f
Until next time, take care!