Amy didn’t have a lot of girlfriends, and the few she had… Well, they all had a talent for drama. Amy didn’t like drama. That’s why, after a hard day at the travel agency, when she saw that Marta was calling again, yet again, she let it go into voicemail.
Marta Brown had a talent both for drama and bad boyfriends. Her latest, Chas, was the worst. Possessive and mean and probably psychotic. Amy forbade Marta from ever seeing him again, as much as you could forbid a friend from anything. Marta obeyed this good common sense, but she still called several times a day to whine. And this time, regrettably, Amy didn’t answer.
An hour later, when she checked her messages, there was Marta. “Before you jump to any conclusions,” she began, “I’m not with Chas. You’re right. He’s a psychotic loser. I’m at my thinking spot now. Remember? The little park under the George Washington Bridge?” The line went silent. For a few seconds Amy thought she’d hung up. “Amy,” the voice continued, “Don’t be mad. But I think maybe I should give Chas another chance. Even a psychotic loser needs… Amy, hold on. Something…”
The next ten seconds were confusing and the ten after that, horrifying. Amy could hear noises and footsteps and finally Marta’s voice. It was a little distant from the phone, but Amy could clearly make out her friend’s last words, begging for her life. “No! No!”
When Amy got to Fort Washington Park, Sergeant Rawlings and his team were already there. So was Marta Brown’s body, almost directly under the huge span, illuminated by the lights of two police cars and a van. On the grass nearby lay a bloody baseball bat, ready to be bagged.
Rawlings made an effort to be comforting. “Even if you’d picked up when she called, there’s nothing you could have done. Her purse is empty. Her jewelry gone. It was a mugging gone bad.”
“No,” Amy blurted back. “Chas did this.” She had told Rawlings about Marta and Chas when she’d called in the emergency, so the sergeant was up to speed. “He must have been following her. He heard her on the phone, calling him a psychotic loser. He lost it and attacked her. Simple as that.”
“It’s not,” Rawlings said, still making an effort. “Chas has an alibi.”
Amy paused, confused, allowing the constant, thunderous hum of bridge traffic to wash over her head. “What’s his alibi?”
“He was home.” The sergeant pointed toward the far side of the Hudson. “Fort Lee. Chas was at a grocery store, buying cigarettes and beer five minutes before the attack. Twenty minutes later he drove across the bridge into Manhattan. My men found him in a bar on the Upper West Side.”
“Why would he buy beer then run off to a bar in Manhattan?”
“I don’t know,” said Rawlings. “All I know is the grocery clerk I.D.ed him in New Jersey, his receipt set the time, and his EZ-Pass tells us when he crossed the bridge. Numbers don’t lie. He wasn’t here when your friend was killed.”
Amy thought it over, recalling so vividly the desperation in Marta’s last, distant cry for help, preserved forever on her voice mail.
“He did it,” Amy said, shaking her head. “And I know how.”
HOW DID CHAS COMMIT THE MURDER DESPITE HIS ALIBI?
WHAT CLUE TIPPED AMY OFF?
Rawlings didn’t know whether to act angry or bemused. Showing emotions was a choice with him. This time he chose bemused. “Alright, how? How was Chas here and in New Jersey at the same time?”
“He was in New Jersey,” Amy replied.
“Then how did he do it?”
“In New Jersey with a baseball bat. Marta was at his house.”
“But Marta said…”
“Marta lied. They were together. When Chas stepped out for cigarettes and beer, Marta called me. She didn’t want to admit she’d gone to see him. She knew I’d yell. So she lied about being under the bridge. We used to come here all the time.
“Meanwhile, Chas walked in. He heard her making up the story about the bridge and calling him psychotic. After he killed her… After he calmed down and realized the situation, he also realized he’d been given an unexpected alibi. He drove the body into town and dumped it here, where she said she’d been all along.”
This time Rawlings chose reasonable. “Good theory. If the body was moved post mortem, we’ll know. We also might be able to pinpoint the location of Marta’s phone when she made the call.”
“I’m right,” Amy said emphatically. “You’ll see.”
“How do you know?”
“The noise.” Amy pointed to the bridge above their heads. “When Marta called, there was no background noise, no constant roar of traffic. She paused for a few seconds and I almost thought she’d hung up. Listen to the message. You’ll see I’m right.”
I hope you enjoyed this first mystery. I have to admit…this one is pretty tricky. It gave ME a run for my money. The other ones are tough too, but now that you’ve seen how it works, I think they’ll be a little easier for you.
Come back on Monday for Mystery #2 and be sure to take a wild guess, even if you’re unsure of the answer. Heck, it seriously can’t hurt. Also, be sure to share this contest with your friends. The more you do, the more chances you have at winning! Remember, first place prize is a Kindle Fire. Runner-up will receive a free copy of the print edition of Hy’s book RALLY ‘ROUND THE CORPSE, plus another book of your choice from 7R.
And while I’m thinking about it, why not pick up a copy of Rally ‘Round the Corpse yourself today!!! Available in all ebook formats, as well as print. Here’s the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Rally-Round-Corpse-Adventures-Mystery/dp/0983735042/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_3
Oh, and want to learn more about Hy Conrad? Check out his website at www.hyconrad.com.
See you Monday!!!