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When you find yourself in trouble, deny it.  Admit to a lesser crime.  If neither works, make threats.  Enjoy Part 6 of The Perfect Community.  Thanks.

 

PART 6

 

FRANK AND CARLA TALKED about Edith and Guyford Beckworth.  They had been neighbors for fourteen years.  Now the Beckworths were dead.

 

Frank and Carla’s cell phones had been inundated with calls and texts since the police officers had talked with them.  Some neighbors could not believe Edith and Guyford were gone.  Some said that they knew this kind of thing would happen.  Others had heard rumors of how Edith and Guyford died.

 

A suicide pact led the rumors.  They thought the Beckworths were sicker than people knew.

 

The whispers that made the rounds said that Edith willingly took an overdose of sleeping pills.  She got into the bathtub full of warm water and fell asleep.  The water was hot enough to make her drowsy fast.  Guyford had assisted her.  He helped her take the pills and get into the bathtub.  He then gave himself several lethal shots of morphine.  Before he passed out, he hurried and got into bed.  There he dozed off and died.  He in the bedroom.  Edith in the bathtub.

 

The other rumor that was floating around involved the police’s investigation.  They were searching for the person who gave the Beckworths a large amount of morphine.  It was too much to have come from a physician.  Still, every physician and hospital that came in contact and treated the Beckworths was going to be questioned.  Anyone who had participated in their assisted-suicide plan would be prosecuted.  If found guilty, the person could serve fifteen to life in prison.

 

Frank and Carla thought it was awful that the Beckworths were gone.  They hoped the police would release the cause of their deaths real soon.  The rumors had shaken up the entire neighborhood.  The nerves of other elderly residents were on edge.  Carla shook her head.  “We don’t need a string of suicides or talk of them,” Carla said.  “Edith and Guyford were doing fine.  Think about residents who aren’t doing that well.  They may decide if Edith and Guyford did it, why not follow them?”

 

“Honey, you have to calm down,” Frank said to Carla.  “There’s nothing we can do until the police tell us what happened.”

 

“Yes,” Carla said in a low tone.

 

Jay was watching Carla.  He believed he was watching Carla perform.  Her emotions did not ring true to him.  Everyone else may have eaten up her show of distress and sadness.  Not him.  Something about her made him question if she had a role in her neighbors’ deaths.  He did not like jumping to that conclusion.  Sure he hated her.  But thinking about her as an assisted suicide participant bothered him.  Compassion was not what he had ever felt from her.  If she assisted anyone in death, it had to be murder.  He looked away and looked back.  Carla was looking at him.  It made him nervous.

 

“Sorry about the damper on the day,” Carla said.  “But you need to go see Claudia, Crystal.  She’s looking forward to spending time with her big sister.  That’s all she had been talking about for the last two weeks.  Ever since she knew you were coming.  So go and do that.  I know she’s waiting for you.  Your father and I will be fine.”

 

“Are you sure, Mother?” Crystal asked.  Carla told her yes.  “Then I’ll go upstairs and take a shower and come back down for breakfast.”  She hugged Carla.  “I’m sorry about the Beckworths.  I know everyone is so close here.”  She kissed Carla on the cheek and hugged and kissed her father too.  “Sorry, Dad.”  He nodded.  “I’ll call Claudia and let her know I’m coming after breakfast, unless you two need something.”

 

“We’ll be fine,” Carla said.

 

“You know what?” Frank asked.  “I think I’ll ride along with you and Jay to Claudia’s, if you don’t mind.  As a matter of fact, maybe you should go too, Carla.  It could cheer up our spirits.”

 

“The more, the merrier,” Crystal said.  “Especially on a day like today.”

 

“I need to run an errand,” Carla said.  “Then I’ll come over.”

 

“Okay,” Crystal said and headed upstairs.  “Hurry up Jay.  You’re slow.  I’ll let you shower first.”

 

Jay turned to follow Crystal.

 

“Jay,” Carla said.  “Can I see you for a minute, please.”

 

Jay glanced over his shoulder at her.  He thought about telling her no.  Frank had already left for their bedroom.  Crystal was almost upstairs.  That left them alone.  Jay saw that fake smile on her face.  Whatever bullshit she was about to say, he could live without it.  Then again, maybe it was time for him to say what was on his mind.  Some of it, anyway.

 

Jay walked up to Carla.  “You lied,” Jay whispered.  You lied to the police.  What were you thinking?  You made me an accessory to your lies.  I’ve got a good mind to go and tell them you lied.  You were not here at eleven or eleven-thirty.  You didn’t get home until two a.m., or later.  Why did you lie?  What have you done?  What did you do this time?  Something you can’t get out of?  Did it involve your neighbors?”

 

“What do you mean?” Carla asked.  “Who made you an investigator, asking me what I’ve done?  You think I did something to our neighbors?  Are you crazy?”

 

“I’m not,” Jay said.  “But you are.”  Jay watched her lose her cool.  He enjoyed getting to her.  Finally, he was making her uncomfortable.  “You tried to choke me and kill me.”

 

“You’re so dramatic,” Carla said.  “You’re too damn dramatic.  You’re like a woman.”

 

“How would you know?” Jay shot back.

 

“If you were a man, that question wouldn’t leave your lips,” she said.  “Smartass.  Did you ever think that maybe you guessed what I was out doing late last night?”

 

Jay stared at her. He was not taking her bait.  Let her say it if she wanted him to know.  It was probably a lie anyway.

 

“Clearly, you were right,” Carla said.  “I was out doing what I do.  There’s no reason for it to ruin my family and my marriage.  It’s all meaningless.  One-night stand here.  One-night stand there.  It’s nothing.  It never has been.  So I’d appreciate it if you kept your mouth shut.”  She waited for him to respond.

 

Jay stared at her.  She was lying again.  He could feel it.  She was taking the least of the worst that she had done and hoped that he bought it.  Well, he did not.  She had something to do with her neighbors’ deaths.  For the first time ever he could see the fear on her face.  It felt great to see it.

 

“Jay,” Carla said.  “A word to the wise.  Don’t try to screw me over.  You won’t do well if you do.”  She leaned in and hugged him and whispered in his ear.  “Crystal is at the top of the stairs waiting for you.  Take your pathetic accusations upstairs and screw yourself.  Before I screw you.  And you won’t like it when I do.  Believe me.”  Carla patted him on the back.

 

“You’re so good to me,” Carla said loud enough for Crystal to hear her.  She let go of Jay and walked off.

 

 

Jay thinks he has Carla sweating.  He feels she will finally be revealed for what she is.  The question is, does he know what she is?

I hope you enjoyed Part 6.  I’ll see you tomorrow.

Thank you,

Stephen Wallace