Authors: Torsten Krol
No doubt about it, there's a woman in the freezer. I dug out all the frozen goods from around her and there she is, a smallish woman in her nightgown, all folded down on herself like she was praying by the bedside and then just collapsed. It was pretty clear Aunt Bree had not gone to Florida after all but had ended up in a cooler place. I gritted my teeth and lifted her out, which was easy she's so small, and then I saw why she's been folded over that way. The front of her, the stomach hid away behind her folded-up legs, was all bloody and blasted open, near as I could tell, so then the whole truth revealed itself to me and this is it â Dean has gone and shot his Aunt Bree in the stomach, most likely with the last shell for his ten-gauge, and has hid her down here while he figures what to do with her, and he decided to dig a hole in the yard and bury her under the chicken coop. Most likely he killed her just a little while before I come strolling up the driveway looking for help. No wonder he looked kind of crazy at first.
Why did he kill her? I would never know that now, but I could guess that he got mad when she told him she wrote to Preacher Bob about his Muslim converting plan.
I have to admit I felt less bad about whacking Dean with
the baseball bat now, knowing that he's a murderer like he was, but it put me in a peculiar situation with regard to that event. The plan I already made come unglued the minute I found Bree down there in the basement. It's two dead bodies not just one, so now what was I supposed to do? I put Bree back in the freezer and arranged all the frozen food around her like before, holding back one large Cheese Supreme pizza for dinner. I took that back upstairs and put it in the oven, not caring that it would take awhile to cook straight from the freezer like it was, because I had lost part of my appetite over the Big Discovery down there and needed time anyway to come up with an entirely different plan to suit the new situation I'm in. If only my car had kept on going another few miles before quitting, none of this would've happened to me. It was spooky the way the engine died right next to Dean's driveway like it did. That was the Hand of Fate working hard to Fuck Me Up Big Time.
But there was no use weeping and moaning about that now. What was done could not be undone, so I had to make another plan and move on. It seemed like the best thing was to leave Bree and Dean right where they were. That way, when they got discovered by a neighbor or the guy that comes to read the electric meter or whoever, it'll look like Dean killed Bree and put her in the freezer, then dug a hole to bury her in. Only he never did get that far with his scheme because the whack that Bree was able to give him on the head before he shot her took its toll a little later with a brain concussion that turned into a hemmeridge like what happens sometimes in the Doctor shows. That sounded believable to me, so long as I'm a long ways off when they get discovered. I didn't want
Chet to be the one that discovered them, because he'll tell the cops about the six-three guy pretending to be Dean, which will trigger a manhunt. So the idea to leave a note for Chet on the door that'll make him go back to Topeka happy that him and Preacher Bob saved my soul is still good to go.
The kitchen started filling with that fine pizza smell and my stomach did flips, but according to the cooking instructions there's still another ten minutes to go if you're cooking a frozen pizza not thawed, which is what the situation was. To pass the time I went upstairs to Dean's room and opened the windows wide, then went over to the west side of the house and opened up all the windows there, because the wind almost always comes from the west in Kansas and this way it'll blow through the upper floor and clean out the bad smell Dean was giving off. I didn't want to have to live with that overnight. He looked peaceful and serene apart from his mouth which had come open some and would not close again no matter how many times I pushed his chin up, so I left him that way. I could feel the night breeze coming through from the west side and was pretty sure the smell was already easing, but it's hard to say because the pizza smell was coming up from downstairs by now.
I turned out the light in Dean's room and was just about to go down to the kitchen when I heard a car coming up the drive. That froze my blood for maybe five seconds, then I sprinted for the window to see who it is, maybe Chet come back again already to do more of God's good work, but it isn't a Caddy it's a little car, I can't tell what kind in the dark. It pulled into the yard and the engine shut off. I could have panicked and maybe most guys would, but so much happened
already that day I was already primed for surprises, and so instead of running around like a chicken with its head cut off I did the right thing immediate and without hesitation, which is to scoop Dean up off the bed, set him on the floor beside the bed, lift the mattress drapes and shove him under, then let those drapes fall again nice and natural. I did not even stop for a second after this sensible precaution against discovery because who knows what might happen next. I stood up and told my heart to quit hammering that way just as there comes a knocking on the screen door which I went down to answer without hesitating like an innocent man would.
There's a woman standing there, a policewoman or highway patrol, some kind of police uniform except no hat, that's all I could make out by the light spilling out onto the porch from the hallway. When I got to the door she's looking right at me with suspicion in her eyes it seemed to me, but that might be my guilty conscience working. I turned on the porch light and said, “Can I help you?” without my voice cracking, so I'm on top of the situation all right.
“Who're you?” she says. She's a good-sized woman, not some skin and bony type, maybe thirty or so with her hair pinned back mannish like policewomen have to look if they want the job. She didn't give me no Good evening, sir, I wonder if you might help me out with my inquiry, nothing polite like most police are despite what people say.
“Who the hell are you and what are you doing in my brother's house?”
It's a good thing she said that, about the brother I mean, because otherwise I might have said I'm Dean. She wouldn't
have fallen for that like Chet did, being related. I thought fast and come up with the only name that'll work, because being a cop she might want to see some ID and the only kind I've got is my own.
“Odell,” I said, kind of pushing it past my lips. This is not what I expected or wanted, Dean having a sister that's a cop. I looked but she wasn't wearing a gunbelt, so maybe she's off duty this late, which made no difference really, it's still a cop, the last kind of person I wanted around the place right then.
She took that in, then says, “Where's Dean?”
I wasn't prepared for that, who could be? I tracked her face with my eyes, wondering how smart she might be, or how good of a nose she had for bullshit. She looked smart enough, kind of attractive too, with a lot of solid womanliness despite the uniform, or maybe because of it, it fit so tight everywhere. It's not a cop's uniform, though, because the color's wrong, and it's a shade darker than the highway patrol.
“He's not here,” I said, stalling.
“Well, where's Bree?”
“Florida, on vacation, Dean said.”
“Step aside there.”
She said it with a tone that made you want to do it even if there's a pile of dogshit next to you that you're going to tromp in. This woman was no Shrinking Violet. I opened up the screen door and she come on in, still looking at me suspicious. If I was a smaller man I might have found that direct staring way she had about her unsettling, but I had myself under control, still impressed by the way I stashed Dean
under the bed almost by instinct like I did, and that was some lucky break considering who this coplady was. No doubt in my mind she would go over the place like a vacuum cleaner with her Crime Radar scanning at full sweep.
She went ahead of me down the hall to the kitchen, which gave me the opportunity to admire her big ass that looked less big than it truly was because above it there's a waistline cinched nice and tight for contrast. She looks around the kitchen and smells the pizza. “That's ready to come out,” she says, so I got it out with the oven mitts, feeling a little foolish about having those big pink padded things on my hands like a woman. The pizza got set on the counter to cool a little, the cheese still sizzling too hot to eat yet. I took off the mitts and tossed them onto the table.
“Okay,” she says, “what's the story here?”
“Where's Dean, you didn't tell me yet.”
“He left yesterday, but he didn't say where he's going.”
“How could he leave when his truck's out there?”
“He went with another guy in the guy's car.”
“Was it a green Pontiac?”
I took a chance. “I believe so.”
That seemed to work. “What's your name again?” she says.
“Odell Deefus, from Wyoming.”
“And you know Dean how exactly?”
Honesty was probably the best policy for this part, since there are bits of it she can check out police-style and see I'm not lying. “I had car trouble and asked Dean for help. He says park it in the barn, only we couldn't get it fixed up right, so he let me stay over seeing as I'm stuck anyway. He's real
friendly, Dean, even fed me and we got to be friends, kind of. Then this guy comes to collect him, and before he left, Dean says can I go mow his lawns while he's gone and there's five hundred bucks in it for me if I do, then he went away. I believe he said it'll be a few days, but he'll be back by the end of the week, definitely.”
“He better be,” she says, very firm, and I almost felt sorry for Dean if he's not back by then, then I remembered he's dead, so it was an empty threat.
“So he lets you stay in his house and run his business even though he only just met you.” The way she said it, the story sounds about as lame as a one-legged cat.
“I was surprised about that myself, but Dean, he's a trusting kind of guy, I guess.”
“Bullshit. He's paranoid and mean and a little crazy besides. You didn't get that?”
“Uh, no, he struck me as a totally decent guy, the way he tried to get my car started, only it's in so bad of a shape he couldn't. I'll get it fixed up with the five hundred and be on my way.”
“I rung him up earlier,” she says. “No answer, so I came on out.”
She must've called when I was out getting liquor because I haven't heard the phone ring since I got here. I said nothing, hoping she's losing a little of her suspicion even if the story doesn't make complete sense. But my feeling is it does make sense, kind of, because Dean the way she describes him is the kind of guy that does crazy unplanned stuff that most people wouldn't, so it all kind of fits together even if there's gaps you could drive a tank through if you wanted to.
She says, “I got a call today from someone who says he saw a stranger driving around in Dean's truck. That got me worried.”
“Yeah, it would.”
“So did he leave anything for me? I'm Lorraine, by the way.”
“Like a message, you mean?”
“Or a package. He leave anything like that?”
“No, all he said is maybe his sister might come around. Didn't even tell me what name to call you. He was in kind of a hurry.”
“Describe the guy in the Pontiac.”
“I didn't see him, he never come in the house, just pulled up outside and Dean went out and talked with him awhile and then comes back and tells me what I said. This was last night.”
“And you've been here how long?”
“Oh, a couple days before that. We got along pretty good, Dean and me.”
“That's nice. Usually people don't take to him. You cook that pizza to eat or just smell it?”
“I guess it's ready. You want some . . . Lorraine?”
“I wasn't asking just to make conversation.”
She went to the cupboard and fetched out two plates, then to the drawer to get a pizza cutter, like she knows where everything is, which is understandable in your own brother's place. Pretty soon we're chomping away like this is a regular thing.
“What line of work are you in, Adele?”
dell. Adele is a woman's name.”
“Well, excuse me all to pieces,
“I'm enlisting soon as I get my car running again.”
“Enlisting in what?”
“What? Are you crazy? What kind of a thing is that to do?”
“Well, they need men bad on account of the war . . .”
“So who says it has to be you that signs up and gets his head blown off? Do something else is what I'd advise.”
“I didn't make the cut come graduation day,” I said, “so I've got limited options.”
“You've got the option of staying in one piece or getting your head blown off. I'd call that options.”
“I guess you're entitled to your opinion.”
“I guess you're right about that. Did your mother say it's okay?”
“It's got nothing to do with her. I'm over twenty-one, and anyway she's dead.”
“Oh, excuse me. Look, sometimes I talk in a straight line when by rights I should go a roundabout route, it's just my nature, okay, but no harm intended.”
“This is good pizza.”
“Dean's got a lot of it down in the freezer.”
I shouldn't have said that, even though it's a simple statement of fact. I was letting my guard down, and I knew the reason why. It's her â Lorraine. I liked her even if she's treating me like some kind of a fool, but like she said it's just her way, so I decided to overlook it. If she was not so good-looking I might have felt different about it, but that's what happens when you bump into someone you like the look of, it makes you do stupid things. It does to me anyhow. I chewed more pizza to keep from saying anything more about anything that might get me in trouble.