This story is by Renette Steele and was part of our 2017 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the Spring Writing Contest stories here.
Body parts are scattered about the house like a disjointed scarecrow. While hurrying out the door, I’m ambushed. At least that is how I see it.
My name is Grace Hopeful. I’m twenty-seven and single. My overactive imagination and constant talking dig me into more holes and predicaments than I care to remember. My dad once told me, when I was six if I didn’t stop talking he would feed me to a bear. During a vacation to Yellowstone National Park, he almost did, because I was a nonstop chatterbox.
He also used to say, “If you’re going to dream, dream first class.” So I do. I Guess that is why my stories are so grand, causing situations like this—
* * *
“Detective Hardy, sir,” Officer Jenkins says, “We have a Grace Hopeful in for questioning. Possible murder suspect.”
Tossing the book in the drawer, Detective Justin Hardy rubs his hand over the salt and pepper mustache and beard which matches his hair. “What? Tell me, Officer Jenkins. Is this lady about five feet four inches, slender, with long cinnamon hair?”
“Yes, sir, I believe so.”
Hardy smooths his facial hair with the palm of his hand. “Who’s the arresting officer?”
“I am sir,” Jenkins answers.
Hardy whispers under his breath. “A cute librarian who reads too many mysteries. This should be fun.”
* * *
“To what do I owe the privilege of your presence today, Grace?” Detective Hardy asks.
My green eyes try holding back tears. “I’m not sure, Detective. I spent the night in the pokey. Now I fear they’re going to send me to the looney bin.”
Detective Hardy crosses his arms and balances on the back two legs of his chair. “Let’s take one step at a time, Grace. It says here possible murder suspect. Care to tell me about it?”
“Not sure what it all means, Detective Hardy,” I mumble while looking down at the floor.
“I believe it means you’re in a bit of a fix.” He notices her disheveled appearance, “Grace you’re a mess. What happened? Jenkins, bring Ms. Hopeful a paper towel and some water. Grace, are you hurt?”
I sniffle. “No, I’m okay. It’s just a bit of dried blood.”
“Are you sure?” he asks, handing her the towels. “Here take this. Now, let’s start at the beginning.”
I stutter an explanation. “I was in the house. There were body parts strewn everywhere, like a shipwreck tossed on the rocks.”
“Hold on Grace, body parts meaning?”
“Yes, Detective, body parts. Arms on the ironing board, legs on the coffee table, the head in the dining room, the torso on the couch and innards flung all around. It was an awful mess. Enough to curdle one‘ s stomach.”
“Did you call 911 or the police?”
“Um…no, I hurried from the house to my car when I’m assailed. Stumbling around, I manage to get into my car and head for help. I guess I missed the stop sign. Lights start flashing. I pull over; next thing I know I’m handcuffed, hauled off and locked up.”
“Officer Jenkins, did you handcuff Ms. Hopeful?”
“Yes, sir, she was fleeing the area and seemed to know a little too much about the crime scene,” answers Jenkins.
Hardy nods towards the door. “May I see you outside, Officer Jenkins?”
“Yes, sir,” Jenkins replies, already on his way.
“Detective,” I mutter.
Hardy turns to me. “Yes.”
“I’m not crazy, you know.”
“Grace, take it easy. Drink some water. I’ll be right back, and we’ll get to the bottom of this.”
* * *
“Where did she run the stop sign?” Hardy asks Jenkins in the hallway.
“At Hawthorn and Colfax, sir.”
“That is a dangerous area, indeed. Was there some problem near there?”
“We‘ d been called out on a homicide sir, a dismantled body. She admitted seeing it and running from the house.”
Hardy blew out a breath and smooths his mustache, “This homicide involved a dismembered corpse?”
“Yes, sir,” Jenkins replies. “It was scattered throughout the house. The other officers sent me outside to put up the yellow tapes, which is when a car rushed through the stop sign.”
“Yes, sir,” Jenkins replies.
“Any other suspects?” asks Hardy.
“We have two others in for questioning. Detectives Hunter and Moore are handling them. Chief insists you take this one, although I am not sure why, sir,” Jenkins says.
“How long have you been on the force Jenkins?”
“Six months, sir.”
Detective Hardy’s hand reaches for his beard, “Rookies.” He sighs. “Officer Jenkins. Did you question Ms. Hopeful? Did you get all the facts?”
“I tried, sir. Her story sounded like she knows an awful lot about the scene of the crime. Plus she had blood on her face and hand.”
“I believe there is more to this story. Come on Jenkins, let’s question Ms. Hopeful further.”
Returning to the interrogation room, Hardy continues with the inquiry. “I need the truth, Ms. Hopeful.”
“That’s what I’ve been telling you, the truth.”
“Grace, were you in the house?”
“Not the house on Colfax?”
“No, sir. My house is about two miles north on Rosewood.”
“And the body. Tell me about it, Grace.”
“It’s in pieces. It’s horrible, an awful mess. I could have cried, but I needed to leave,” I declare.
“Leave? Leave where Grace?” Detective Hardy asks.
“My house on 321 Rosewood Lane,” I smile with confidence.
Justin Hardy turns and demands, “Officer Jenkins, how far is that from the crime scene?”
“At least two miles, sir,” Jenkins acknowledges.
Hardy looks at me. “Were you anywhere near Colfax and Hawthorn?”
“I drove down Hawthorn about five o’clock.”
“Jenkins, what time were you at the scene near Hawthorn?” Hardy asks.
“Four fifty, sir,” Jenkins responds.
“Grace, did you run a stop sign?” Hardy asks, looking me in the eyes.
“I guess I must have.”
“Grace, you’ve been here before, is that correct?” Hardy sternly inquires.
“Yes, sir,” I say with a shaky voice.
“Something concerning a body that time too right?”
I look at my shoes. “Yes.”
“Were you reading mysteries again?”
“Not for a few days.”
“This is important, Grace. Were you anywhere near a house on Colfax around four thirty?”
“And who or what accosted you?”
“I was getting into my car. I have allergies. I never sneeze daintily like a lady. More like a fog horn going off. As I open the door, a full-blown one escapes and whammy, I came down on the car door, breaking half of my tooth off. I search the ground. Finding the broken piece of tooth, I hurry to my dentist on Hawthorn. I guess I missed the stop sign in my haste.”
“Okay. Let’s talk about the body some more.”
“I have pieces littered all about my house. I was busy stuffing it when I realized I was late for Bible study.”
“Hold on, Grace you were stuffing it?”
“Of course,” I grin remembering the difficulty I was having.
“Ms. Hopeful, please tell me you’re kidding.”
“No sir, I cannot.”
Hardy, a bit exaggerated and shocked asks, “Grace stuffing a human body with what?”
“What do you mean human body? Who said anything about a human? That’s sick?”
“Grace, what are you talking about?”
“What happened last night and why I am here. What are you talking about?”
“The body, Ms. Hopeful.”
“The body you keep mentioning.”
“Well, Detective, that would be the body of the teddy bear I am making for my nephew.”
“Grace, we’ve talked before about your imagination and stories. Put them in a book instead of embellishing them and getting yourself into trouble.” Hardy says with a grin.
“Oh, I have Detective. I’ve written two books. Honest. Ever heard of Kitty Muse, The Mews View or Pussy Paws? They’re mine.”
“I think you have a new book to write, Grace. I intend to read it. I enjoyed the others you mentioned. Officer Jenkins, you need to ask the right questions and gather all the evidence to find the truth especially when it involves Ms. Grace Hopeful,” Detective Hardy says with a chuckle.