Mudcat Café message #2462712 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #113933   Message #2462712
Posted By: Lonesome EJ
10-Oct-08 - 10:34 PM
Thread Name: Fiction : The Dead Man's Guitar
Subject: RE: Fiction : The Dead Man's Guitar
Howell was just taking the 600 South exit from I-19 when his phone rang and the Captain's voice told him about Sean Hession. He pulled his Accord to the curb in front of the Port o' Call Tavern, stopping beneath the neon sign that read Fun! Food! Ghosts! He laughed because Sean had once pointed to the same sign and said "goddamn Mormons. Can't even use the word for spirits, gotta call them 'ghosts'." Rulon had reminded Sean that Rulon himself was a Mormon.."sure. GAY Mormon, so you don't count."
Rulon stared at the sign and considered having his first whiskey in 4 years, but instead he called the Captain back and had a patrol car sent to Sheila Huber's place. He cocked the rear view and had a look at his eyes. "I'm alright" he said aloud, as a drunken man and woman reeled out of the Port o' Call, he dressed as a Devil, she dressed as a vampire.
There was a cluster of reporters outside the main door of the Peery, and Howell ignored them as he entered. A uniformed cop was questioning the clerk, and Howell stopped and listened. "I saw the detective go upstairs, and then I guess about a half hour later I saw Mr Huber leaving. I didn't know it was him at first."
"Why not?" asked Rulon.
"He'd shaved his head bald. In fact, I recognized his duffle bag and guitar case before I recognized him. So then I thought I better check upstairs, because I knew the detective was staking him out, ya know."
To the cop, Rulon said "have they sealed the room?"
"It's closed and taped. Body's still inside. He was your partner, right?"
"Sorry. It's really bad."
Rulon mounted the stairs, turned down the hall to where he saw another uniform keeping watch. He opened the door of 313 and the light from the hall illuminated a large dark stain in the beige carpet. Near the center of the stain was Hession's service revolver. The other light in the room came from the television, on, with the sound turned down. He recognized the program; it was the Disney version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and the cartoon Ichabod Crane was riding slowly down a darkened country lane on his goofy horse. There was more blood on the unmade bed that lay just near a recliner on which Sean Hession's body had been placed.
The eyes were open, staring, as if in horror at the animated film. Towels had been wrapped around the body, and just below the gaping wound in the throat, a half-halo of brown hair had been arranged. On the wall behind, the words Dark Hollow scrawled in blood.
Rulon squatted by the chair, laid his fingers lightly on Hession's chubby hand, and felt momentarily as though he might pass out.
His cell phone rang. "Ru? I'm sorry," said Jude Vinson.
"I know," answered Howell. "He had no business going in the room. He said he'd wait. Hell, Jude, I was a half hour away."
"I know," said Jude. "But listen, Rulon. In Sean's mouth...listen, I can talk to one of the cops and have them check."
"What? Check what?"
"Is there anything in his mouth?"
Hession's lips were slightly apart, but something, maybe his tongue, was protruding beyond his teeth. Rulon set the phone down, and switched a floor lamp on. There was something there. Using his left hand to pry the teeth slightly apart, he extracted the object with his right hand.
"Did you find something?"
"Yes. A rose bud."
"I thought so. We found the same thing on Dave Ruben."
"Jude, I'm heading over to Sheila Huber's place. Somebody needs to call Cindy Hession. I can't right now."
"I'll take care of it Ru."
He placed the rosebud on the nightstand. On the flickering tv screen, the Headless Horseman rose on his steed, brandishing his jack o lantern head.