“The Confession” by Murray Stone
Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.
This week, Murray Stone might be in over his head in a small Canadian town.
Nothing much happens around Sylvan Lake as a rule—maybe a fight breaks out at the Agricultural Society dance, or the institution of marriage is combined with booze or drugs or guns. So of course the Edmonton and Calgary papers are saying that Lillian’s death is beyond the investigative powers of my rural RCMP detachment and me. Well, maybe so. I don’t know.
We didn’t like Lillian Frank. Nobody in Sylvan Lake did. She lied and stole and cheated and spread gossip. Not the fun kind either, but the mean gossip. No surprise when one day she up and told the intake constable that she had been grievously assaulted by Edna Boychuk. Now, Edna’s maybe seventy-five, wispy white hair, a little frail. Lillian was thirty-five, pretty good shape, hauled a lot of bales into the pasture in her time.
“Punched me right in the face, she did,” said Lillian, “right in front of the till at the market, just this morning.”
“Okay,” said Constable Ericsson. “Who saw this?”
“Well . . . everybody,” said Lillian.
So Ericsson talked to the staff at the market, and they all remembered the incident: Lillian butted in line. Edna objected. Lillian started swearing at Edna. Edna told her to grow up. Lillian stomped out in a huff. By checking the credit card purchases at the till, Ericsson found some customer witnesses who said the same thing. No punches, just more of Lillian’s bullshit. No further police action required, wrote Ericsson.
However, for the sake of completeness, I met with Edna and told her I was investigating an allegation that she had punched Lillian at the market. Edna blinked once and then said evenly, “You’re goddamn right I did, sergeant.”
I didn’t believe her any more than I believed Lillian. I told Lillian I wasn’t laying any charges, but she didn’t take it well and wound up in the crown prosecutor’s office in Red Deer, complaining about police inaction. He told her she had the right to lay a charge privately if she wished, and it would be up to a magistrate to decide who was telling the truth. So she did, and the clerk issued a summons for Edna to answer to the charge. The prosecutor now tells me he had intended to pull the charge on the day of trial, but I don’t know who to believe anymore.
The trouble was, the Harvester-Reporter got hold of this, and soon everybody who knew either of them knew that Edna was being hauled up before the magistrate by none other than Lillian, and nobody could understand how the system could be taken in by such a notorious nuisance. And poor Edna, having to hire a lawyer on just her widow’s pension. All because of Lillian.
And wasn’t Lillian having the time of her life, walking around with the paper folded at the right place, showing everybody how the mighty Edna had been brought low by the majesty of the law and was going to have to go to the court and be punished, like the trial was already over or something? And yet Lillian carried on.
Until last Monday. Her husband said Lillian left the house at exactly 7:40 a.m., and Ericsson first saw her body in the post office parking lot at 8:02. The coroner said death was instantaneous: a .303 bullet had entered the back of her head and left out the top, taking much of Lillian’s brains with it. She had fallen face-forward. Her hands were still in her pockets. Nobody heard or saw a thing, although there isn’t much background noise at that time of the morning.
“Know of anybody who had a grudge against Lillian?” the crown asked me with a smile, and when I didn’t smile back he said he guessed somebody was going to have to talk to Edna.
“Go talk to her yourself,” I said. “I’m done talking to her.”
“Maybe you’re right,” he said, and handed my file back to me.
MURRAY STONE is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He taught at the University of Maryland and the University of Alberta, practiced law for thirty-four years in Edmonton, and is now the icemaker at the Lakedell Curling Club. He lives in Westerose, Alberta, with his wife Dorothy, two big dogs, and a little cat.
Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected] paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Jul 6, 2015
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