Killer Summer – Chapter 11

Killer Summer Chapter 11Crandall Flameout, the town Building Official, had been an amiable sort, who always gave the citizens the benefit of the doubt on any issue that fell within his jurisdiction.  This attitude did not please the town commission or the manager, and so Crandall never got to go to the hurricane conferences.  His entertainment consisted mostly of sitting at the Hilton bar with Logan Hamilton watching re-runs of University of Connecticut basketball games.

As fate would have it, Crandall met and fell in love with a very pretty, but much younger, woman.  He enticed her to marry him by promising to take her to the next hurricane conference in Maui.  She accepted, and Crandall had to, figuratively speaking, prostrate himself before the town commission and vow to forevermore do everything in his power to foster ill will between the citizens of Longboat Key and its building department. When the town manager stumbled upon the idea of paying $25 million dollars for a piece of property to use for storing hurricane debris, Crandall was the perfect front man, because the townspeople had not yet despaired of his affection for them.  So, in an attempt to honor his promise to his young wife, Crandall went about the island touting the town manager=s vision of a beach front debris removal site. It was pointed out to Crandall that the key had not suffered a hurricane in eighty-five years and that even it the key were to be hit by anything less than a category 4 storm there would not be enough debris to worry about.  If it were to be hit by a category 4 or 5 storm, there would not be enough island to worry about.  As usual, the town manager did not want to be confused by facts, so Crandall soldiered on. I arrived at the lot at the same time as the Crime Scene Unit.  Nothing had been disturbed.  The chief and Logan were standing off to the side, carrying on a low conversation.  I approached them and said, "What've you got so far?" "Not much," said the chief.  "I counted twenty-five bags of something on Crandall's chest.  Each one has '$1,000,000' written on it in magic marker." "Doesn't look much like suicide," said Logan. "Why would you even think something like that?" I asked. "Well, he was pretty depressed about UConn not making the final four this year." "Yeah, but I heard he was going to the hurricane conference next month," said the chief. "He was," said Logan.  "But he thought he had sold his soul to get the trip." "Who found him?" I asked. "I did," said Logan. I think I groaned.  "How?" "I was riding my jet ski along the beach, and you know it's almost impossible to light a smoke when those little buggers are moving.  I stopped at the beach to have a cigarette and saw poor old Crandall.  I called it in." It was still warm, but dark clouds had moved to block the sun.  It would be raining soon, and the CSU techs were scurrying over the lot trying to get all their evidence in before the deluge wiped it out. "Could that be real money?" I asked. "We'll know in a minute," said the chief. A technician was gingerly opening one of the bags placed atop Crandall's chest.  He peered into the bag, pulled out what appeared to be a currency bill, and said to no one in particular, "It's monopoly money.  A one dollar bill" "Does it look like a million of them?" asked the chief. "I think so," said the technician as he opened another bag.  "More monopoly money." "Twenty-five million," I said.  "That's a lot of money even for monopoly." "Well," said Logan, "Crandall was a heck of a monopoly player." I left, heading back to Suzy Jones' place.  It was more important than ever that I close this case and stop the killings.  I parked in her driveway and knocked on the front door.  Charley Goins answered and invited me in.  Suzy was sitting on a sofa, and Charley introduced us. "What are you doing here, Charley?" I asked, obviously surprised at his presence. "Suzy's my chick." "Your chick?" "Yeah," said Suzy, "I'm like his main squeeze." She was a pretty enough blonde and talked in a high, almost squeeky voice.  She was what, in Georgia, was called robust, which meant she was a little chubby, a little overbuilt, and a little dumb. I was confused.  I didn't know Charley had a girlfriend.  He had never mentioned it.  "How long has this been going on?" I asked. "Quite a while," said Suzy.  ASince Monday, I think." "This is only Thursday," I said. "Yeah," she said, Atime really flies, doesn't it?" A pattern was beginning to emerge.  Suzy was a turtle loving, Lexus driving, scooter owning real estate lady, and Charley was, well, Charley.  Maybe he was behind all this.  He was always carping about island politics, and he=d been trying to throw me off the scent with all that terrorist talk.  The murders had started on the day after Suzy and Charley had become an item. My detecting sense was going into overdrive.  The answer was in this little house in the Village.  I could feel it.  I was close to solving the crimes.  I needed a confession. "Charley," I said, "Did you and Suzy kill all those people?" "Not all of them," he said. "Which ones did you kill?" "I'm not sure." "Okay, tell me how you killed the ones you did, and I'll figure out who they were." "I put the evil eye on them." "What?" "Yeah," said Suzy, "he can do that.  It's real cool to watch." "Is that all you did?" I asked Charley. "Yeah, but it's usually enough," he replied. "Suzy," I said, "do you own a Lexus and a scooter?" "Yes." "And do you love turtles?" "Well, I love turtle soup." "But turtles have to be dead to be made into soup." "Well, I would hope so.  I sure wouldn't want one of those ugly buggers poking his head out of my soup bowl." "But you have a save the turtle tag on your Lexus.  Why?" "If we don't save them from the sea gulls, how are we going to have enough for soup?" she asked.  "Duh," she added.   I couldn't argue with that impeccable logic. "Suzy, have you been killing off our officials?" "Not really," she answered. "What does that mean?" "I've been helping Charley with that evil eye thing.  I mean, I just hold his hand and all when he=s focusing, but it seems to help his concentration." "Where're you from originally, Suzy?" I asked. "Michigan." I should have known. "Are you selling much real estate?" I asked. "Not much.  I think I need a hyphenated last name." "How can you afford the Lexus and the scooter and this house?" I asked. "My daddy sends me a check every week.  He says as long as I don't cross the Michigan border he'll keep sending it.  I used to live with my granny down below mid-key, but she loves me so much she bought me this house, and now I live here." My phone rang.  It was Logan. 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