This is a story I wrote a while ago with the same characters as The Larch. I wanted to try Alison Brickhouse in a completed story. Let me know what you think.
“Alison, your bikini is coming untied.” My former wife pulled my suit tight and tied it off just before a shot rang out.
The man jumped off his surfboard and staggered up the beach.
“Are you alright?” I said as he came up.
“Yeah, but my board’s had it.” He retrieved his broken board from the surf. It had clearly been hit by a high powered round.
He told us his name and that he was a surfing instructor for the resort. By then people were running to the scene. I glanced back at the buildings off the beach.
It was late December in Daytona and the sun was low enough in the south to make only one part of one building the possible point of origin.
“Karen, the shot must have come from one of those rooms. Let’s go. We might be able to find some evidence before the shooter has time to clean things up.”
We ran up to the building. As we ran through the lobby I flashed my badge at the desk and told the girl there to lock the building down, there was a shooter in one of the rooms. She picked up the phone and dialed 911.
“Let’s start at the top floor, the angle of the shot must have been pretty high.” Karen pressed the button.
I knocked on the door and had my badge ready. The door opened right away.
“He’s a goddamn surfer.” A man said inside.
“Vern, the police are here already.” The woman who answered the phone said to my badge. She was a stout middle-aged woman with dark skin and graying hair.
“Good work.” Vern told the phone and hung up. He was a large man with his shirt unbuttoned enough to show his sweat soaked undershirt. “What the hell kind of police uniform is this?”
“I’m off duty.” I said pulling my net robe back onto my shoulder. “May I ask you a few questions?”
“I’m sure that boy deserved…”
“Hush now Linda. What do you want to know missy?”
“You folks aren’t down here on vacation are you?”
“What makes you say that?” Vern butted in.
“Why are you here, were you looking for someone?”
Vern rolled his eyes. “Now what on God’s green earth would make you say that?”
“The binoculars on the table by the window and the fact that you packed so quickly that Linda’s shorts and top almost match, but not quite.”
Linda put her hands up to her mouth.
“Now listen here. Where do you get off…”
“Why are you here, who are you looking for?”
“We’re looking for our daughter.”
“Linda.” Vern tried to hush her up, but she had her dander up.
“She left home for college and didn’t come home for Christmas break. We know she has hooked up with some beach bum and that’s not right. A girl should come home at Christmas time.”
I nodded. “Yes, well, stay in your room. Some other police will be up here soon and take your statement. Do not leave.”
We nearly ran to the stairs.
“You were awfully rough on that poor woman.”
“We don’t have a lot of time and two more rooms to check.”
The next floor down we saw a maid just entering a room. I went past that room and knocked on our target. No one answered. Karen and I looked into the room where the maid was. She was leaning over the head of a made bed.
“Could you please open the room next door?” I asked.
“Oh yes. But why? There is no one in that room.”
I flashed her my badge. “Were investigating an attempted murder.”
“Oh my.” She fished into her apron pocket with her glove-clad left hand and used the key to open the room.
“Don’t you have one of those key card thingies?” Karen said.
“No.” She held up the master key.
Inside the room was a mess. The bed was unmade, towels were on the floor of the bathroom and the ironing board was still out. The room was hot and smelled of flowers.
I walked over and opened the vertical blinds. The sliding glass door to the balcony was locked.
“Who was in here before?”
“A group of college students. They were very loud and rude. They didn’t leave me any tip.”
“Do me a favor and go downstairs and make sure the manager calls the police.”
“You said you were the police?”
“I am, but I’m off duty.” I pointed to my beach clothes. “Please go tell the manager.”
She nodded and got on the elevator. We waited for the door to close and went down the stairs.
We could hear the music from the hall so I knocked very loudly. The music lowered and an attractive, well tanned man opened the door. I flashed my badge.
“My but the police here are very attractive and dress that way to boot.” He looked us up and down.
“Can I ask you a couple of questions?”
“Sure.” He grabbed the door and the door frame firmly.
“Why are you here?”
“I’m on vacation. Look, what is this all about?”
“I’m investigating a murder attempt.”
His eyes got wide and his mouth clamped shut for a second. “Where? Who?”
“On the beach just now.”
“Yes. Why are you here?”
“Who? Who was the victim?”
“You aren’t on vacation. Where is your luggage?”
“My luggage?” He turned to look at the room. In that instance Karen and I darted around him and into the room. The blinds were open but the sliding door closed. On the balcony was lay a rifle. I pulled my pistol out of my purse and pulled Karen behind me.
“Explain now.” I said.
He stood with his mouth open but fluttering like a fish. “I, I don’t know how…”
He looked down at the bed. Behind me Karen said, “There is a gun case under the bed.”
“I can explain.” He said quickly. “I came here because my life is over.” His shoulders slumped and he fell against the wall.
“My boyfriend, no, my soul-mate left me two days ago. He left me for some woman.” He spat the last word.
“She works with him here in the resort. They just got engaged. I don’t know who she is, but when I find out I’m going to kill her.”
With the last sentence he stiffened and clenched his teeth and hands.
“Well, you’re not going to kill anyone and your boyfriend is fine. Karen, call the desk and tell them to arrest that maid.”
“Maid?” Both Karen and the man said.
“Yes. Hopefully she didn’t think to put the gloves on until after she stole your rifle and we will find prints on the case.”
“But how?” Karen said.
“She stole the rifle, took it upstairs, shot at surfer boy because he just told her that he had had a gay lover. I’ll bet we find her engagement ring in one of the drain traps. She must have thrown it away. How could she wear those rubber gloves with an engagement ring on and why would she wear gloves to make a bed? She must have thrown the gun down to the lower balcony after she finished shooting and then sprayed the room with floral air freshener to cover the gunpowder smell. Hello, yes, this is Officer Brickhouse of the Chicago Police…”