Rigors of Murder (excerpt)

“Nine, eight, seven,” Maddie counted down. Her two hands and our eight pressed down on the pillow covering Jack’s face. “Six, five, four,” she continued, careful to take a breath between ticks, careful not to let her voice rise above a murmur. “Three, two, one.” She let out a sigh and relaxed her shoulders.

We did it. Grins teased the corners of our mouths. As far as the rest of the world was concerned, Jack the Gypper died peacefully in his sleep. It was easier than I’d imagined. The bum never put up a fight.

“I brought the Visine,” Frinny whispered, holding up a tiny plastic bottle. She looked at our blank faces and groaned. “Petechial hemorrhages….anyone? Those telltale red dots that pop up in the whites of a person’s eyes when they’re suffocated.” Somehow, she held back the Duh! “Any amateur sleuth, let alone veteran medical examiner, would know Jack was murdered.”

It sounded reasonable. If anyone knew about the aftermath of death, Jessica Fletcher wannabe, Frinny Dunbar did. And Visine did claim to get the red out. I did, however, take exception to her referencing pillow plopping as murder.

“Smothered,” I corrected. “I believe what we did was smother him.” Smothered seemed a better spin, at least in my mind. So was TAXI·4·3 on my vanity plate, considering the alternative was 42&FLABY.

“What we did, Ellie,” Stella clarified, “was break into his house, creep up the stairs to his bedroom, yank the pillow out from under his head, shove it down on his face, and hold it there a full three minutes. What we did, Eleanor dear, was murder him.”