Body in the Bedroom

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Body in the Bedroom

Post by Susieflooks on Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:08 pm

I confess to being a bit confused re the homework this week. What I've decided to do is take the Body in the Bedroom piece that I read out the last time I was at class and post it along side the editing/ rewrite of it - which ironically is much longer .... I won't read it out in class !

The Body in the Bedroom

Opening my eyes reluctantly I become aware of my cat McGhee palpating my painfully full bladder. An involuntary groan escapes from my lips as I roll out of bed and stumble with an uncoordinated sense of urgency into the bathroom. I’m not sure which will explode first - my head or my bladder and then realise that my stomach might just be the surprises winner.

Having relieved myself of my most pressing discomforts and brushed my teeth, I head for the kitchen to deal with the elephants dancing in my head. Screwing my eyes against the assault of daylight I chant “ Coffee. Toast. Paracetamol. “ over and over to remind me why I was in the kitchen at all. I decide to forgo the coffee and toast and settle swallowing - with some difficulty - three Nurofen. I sit down and slump over the kitchen table, resting my head on my arms. Oh God! What is wrong with me? What did I do to feel like this? Out of the corner of my eye I spot an empty tequila bottle lying on the draining board - and a picture of me doing tequila slammers floats into my consciousness . Lifting my head slightly I notice nuggets of lime dotted around the corner tops. I see myself opening the bottle and then … nothing, except that i apparently drank a bottle of tequila. By rights I should be dead or comatose. I wish for either of these as I close my eyes against the damning evidence.

I decide to go back to bed with the intention of slipping into oblivion and reconstructing my misdemeanours later. I make my way slowly back to the bedroom trying to avoid any sudden movement which might make my head swim and my stomach heave mightily. All this is undone as soon as I get into the bedroom and see a man that I have never seen before in my life asleep in my bed.

He is rather handsome - I’m obviously not as ill as I feel - but who the hell is he? I don’t know him - do I? I’m sure that I would remember if I’d met him before. I plonk myself down on what is now my side of the bed - causing him to make a half snuffle half snoring sound - and stare at him. He has dark curly hair with just a touch of grey at the side and the shadow of a beard. For some reason he looks as if he smiles a lot and there is something
in my memory that I try to catch hold of but I just can’t. I shiver as McGhee nudges open the bedroom door and I feel the draft. I suddenly realise that this is because I am naked. Then it hits me - so is he. Oh. My. God.
Blushing somewhat belatedly, I grab my nightclothes from the floor and flee shutting the door behind me. Safely in the sitting room, I put on my pyjamas and lie down on the couch pulling the throw over me. My thoughts are getting nowhere faster and faster, and adding to the not inconsiderable headache that I have and I decide that I can’t cope with this now. I close my eyes; I need to sleep.

Two minutes later there is a loud banging on the door and the bell is being pushed repeatedly.

“Miss McAllister, Flora McAllister would you open up please. It’s the Police. We’d like to talk to you”

I say nothing, hoping that they will go away.

“I can see you through the letter box Miss McAllister. Open up please.”

I stumble to the door clutching my head, open it , and mumble to the uniformed officer and the man standing next to him who is pushing identification into my very blurred vision.

“Good morning Officer. How can I help you?”

“Good evening Miss McAllister. We’d like to speak to you about Mr Simeon Stark.”

“I don’t know that name. I’m sorry, I’ve never heard of him.” As I say this I am beginning to get a really bad feeling - one that has nothing to do with my hangover.

The plainclothes man pulls out a photograph from his jacket pocket and proffers it to me; I find myself looking at a picture of me and Sleeping Beauty sitting in a restaurant, heads inclined towards each other, holding hands and smiling. It is obviously me, but try as I might I can remember nothing. I look up at the policeman and point to the bedroom door,

“He’s in there.”

My knees give way and I sit down hard on the couch as I try and work out what the hell is going on, and why I am so clueless about last night. McGhee jumps onto my lap and curls up there purring loudly. I stroke him as I hear voices in the bedroom and start to feel hotly embarrassed about the whole situation.

“ Miss McAllister! Would you come here please? Now!”

I stand up and cross to the bedroom. As I go in I become aware that Uniform in talking into a radio. Simeon Stark is still sleeping peacefully. Wait. I do a double take. Correction. Simeon Stark is not sleeping; he is dead. Simeon Stark has a very small neat hole in the middle of his forehead - one that certainly was not there when I sat on the bed beside him what seems like only half an hour ago. It was at this point that I lost the battle with my stomach and vomited into the wastepaper bin and then fell to the floor, out cold. The last words I remember,

“Flora McAllister, I am arresting you for the murder of Simeon -“

The Body in the Bedroom Edit 1

Body in the Bedroom (Edit 1)

Flora scanned the room looking for a friendly face. Much as she loved her job with Dalrymple & Dunne Fine Art and Antiquities Flora really disliked these “Meet the Team” social events - they were designed to encourage rich clients to spend money and invite their friends to do the same.

“Come on Flora! Mingle!” - she nearly jumped out of her skin as she felt the hot damp breath in her ear.

“Here, have a glass of wine, I want to introduce you to some people.”

Flora accepted the glass proffered by Alasdaire McDonald Smythe and took a couple of mouthfuls of the nicely chilled wine. Fortified she smiled at him, taking his arm as he led her over to a small group of people gathered around a Peploe that was to feature in the next month’s auction. One man detached himself from the group and held his hand out to Alasdaire.

“McDonald Smythe! How the hell are you?”

“I’m grand Stark! You? Let me introduce you… Simeon this is Flora McAllister - one of our trainee appraisers and a fine restorer. Flora, this is Simeon Stark, a collector and I’m pleased to say a friend… Oh! Excuse me a moment , I must just have a word with George before he goes …”

“Are you all right Miss McAllister? You suddenly look very pale.” Stark reached out to steady Flora as she swayed.

“It’s Flora, please. I’m fine - I probably need something to eat - I think I drank my wine too quickly.”

Stark led Flora over to a chair in an alcove and she sat down with a bit of a bump.

“Sit here a moment and I’ll get you something to eat. We’ll have you as right as rain in no time.”
Moments later Stark stood in front of her with a plate of canapés and a glass of water. He sat down beside her and she took the drink gratefully.

“I’m so sorry Mr Stark! I’m absolutely mortified.”

“Nonsense! Don’t worry - we’ve all had a bit too much to drink at one time or another. And it’s Simeon, please. Oh look, smile for the camera!”. Stark put his arm around Flora and they both smiled at Peter the PR Department photographer.

Flora’s head swam as she turned away from the camera. She felt dreadful. What on earth was wrong with her? She tried to remember the last time she ate, but she was finding it difficult to think - she needed to go home. Flora stood up and stumbled. Once again Stark steadied her and then pulled her in close to him as her legs began to give way.

“i think that we’d better get you home Flora. Let’s get your coat.” He picked up her bag and guided her discretely towards the door. Flora looked at him and tried to speak, but couldn’t get any words out. He smiled at her and held her tightly. She felt immense gratitude that he was looking after her even if she couldn’t remember who he was.

**************

Stark opened the door to the flat and carried the semi-conscious Flora through to the main bedroom. Startled by a loud miaow he dropped her on to the bed. A large tabby cat glared at him from the other side of the bed.

Flora opened her eyes.

“Sorry….don’ kno’ whash ‘appenin. Bogggy zat you? Shleeeep neeeed shleep …. Boggy”. Flora started pulling at her clothes. Stark thought quickly, he didn’t want her to rip anything - no signs of violence or coercion. He gently unbuttoned her silk blouse and eased it over her shoulders. Flora giggled and playfully batted his hands away a couple of times, but he was able to render her naked without difficulty. Pulling back the duvet he rolled her onto the bottom sheet and studied her body with interest. Very nice, very nice indeed … perhaps later, he thought as he hastily tucked the duvet around her.

Stark went in the sitting room and looked around. There over in the corner on the desk was the reason he was here - a large pile of buff folders all stamped with “Dalrymple & Dunne”. He started going through them looking for the letters relating to the Kahlo. Damn! Where were they? He heard a gentle knock at the door and went to look through the peephole. McDonald Smythe stood outside. Stark let him in.

“Have you found them?”

“Not yet! Come and help me look!”

“Flora?”

“In the land of nod. i gave her a second dose, she’ll sleep for hours”

“Good. You keep looking and I’ll set up the kitchen. She’ll have no idea that anything has happened - she’ll put it down to too much drink.”

“Tell me again why you couldn’t just ask her for the files back? You are her boss.”

“I don’t want to raise her suspicions. Much better to take the letters and leave the rest in place. She’ll never know that she had them.”

Stark continued his search of Flora’s desk and within a few moments found what he was looking for. Smiling, he went through to the kitchen where Smythe was putting the finishing touches to the scene.

“Got them!”

“Excellent! Drink? It seems a shame to pour all of this down the sink!” Smythe handed Stark a glass of tequila and toasted, “Onwards and upwards! To our mutual benefit and our next payday! Cheers!” Both men drank the shot of tequila in one.

“ Well, that certainly hits the spot!” said Stark, “ About our next pay day Alisdaire … I’m going to need a slightly bigger cut … it is my talent after all.”

Smythe grimaced quickly turning it into a smile as he refilled the glasses and handed one to Stark.

“I’ve been thinking the same thing. Now, another drink before we get on. Cheers!” said Smythe jovially as he watched the younger man knock back his drink.

“Aren’t you drinking?”

“No. Someone has to keep a clear head…and since I can’t trust you, it has to be me.”

“What do you mean you can’t… wait a minute …what’s going on?” Stark lurched forward grabbing the work top for support.

“You little shit Simeon! Did you really think that you could go to my clients and undercut me without me finding out?”

Stark swayed as Smythe grabbed him by the arm.

Smythe forcefully guided Stark into Flora’s bedroom . He let him fall onto the bed and quickly undressed him and covered him with the duvet. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small handgun.

“I’ve worked too long and too hard to have a wide boy like you - “

Smythe whirled round having heard a noise. Listening intently he heard nothing further. He cautiously looked into the hallway, nothing. Stepping out he saw the living room door opening and moved quickly into the second bedroom opposite, pulling the door shut behind him. Smythe looked around the room by the light from the lamp post outside. He chuckled quietly with relief when he saw the litter box - one of the enclosed kind with a cat flap in to it - that’s what he had heard, the bloody cat. Just as opened the door he heard more noise, definitely human this time. Stumbling, Flora emerged from the bedroom and lurched into what Smythe took to be the bathroom. A moment or two later he heard a flush and then the sound of running water. Shortly afterwards Flora staggered into the kitchen.

“Bugger!” Smythe thought, “ I don’t really want to kill her… But…needs must.”; he started thinking about how to re-stage this unexpected event.
An unsteady Flora emerged from the kitchen and went back into the main bedroom. Smythe waited a few minutes, but just as he was about to leave his hiding place he saw Flora fly out of her bedroom and run into the sitting room.

Smythe could hear nothing at all but forced himself to stay where he was for a full half hour before he moved softly to the slightly ajar sitting room door and could see Flora asleep on the couch with the cat curled up on top of her. Excellent , he thought. That will do.

Retracing his steps Smyth returned to the main bedroom and taking the pistol from his pocket he shot Stark in the forehead with nothing but coughing sound from the gun. He turned to leave the room again and saw the door open. The bloody cat again! He put the gun in his pocket and quietly shooed the cat out of the bedroom shutting the door firmly behind him. He tip toed into the sitting room and froze as Flora mumbled incoherently and turned over in her sleep. Unable to take any more interruptions, Smythe moved swiftly to the front door and left without looking back.

*****
Flora awoke to a loud banging on the front door and the bell being pushed repeatedly.

“Miss McAllister, Flora McAllister would you open up please. It’s the Police. We’d like to talk to you”

Struggling to make sense of the noise and to keep her pounding head and nausea at bay, Flora sits up slowly and swings her legs to the floor depositing a disgruntled cat on the floor as she does so.

“I can see you through the letter box Miss McAllister. Open up please.”

Flora gets up and opens the door. There is a uniformed officer and man in plainclothes who is holding identification in front of her eyes,

“Good morning Officer. How can I help you?”

“Good evening Miss McAllister. We’d like to speak to you about Mr Simeon Stark.”

“I don’t know that name. I’m sorry, I’ve never heard of him.” As she says this something tickles her memory but nothing comes to mind.

The plainclothes man pulls out a photograph from his jacket pocket and shows it to her; Flora is looking at a picture of herself and presumably Simeon Stark sitting together, heads inclined towards each other, holding glasses of wine and smiling. It is obviously her, but try as she might Flora can remember nothing. She looks up at the policemen and points to the bedroom door,

“He’s in there.”

Her knees give way and she sits down hard on the couch trying not to be overwhelmed by the nausea and thumping head. The cat jumps onto her lap and curls up there purring loudly at Flora stroking him absently as she tries to make sense of what is going on. Hearing loud voices in the bedroom Flora feels hotly embarrassed but cannot for the life of her work out how she got into this situation.

“ Miss McAllister! Would you come here please? Now!”

Flora stood up and crossed to the bedroom not looking forward to facing the music. As she entered the bedroom she could hear the Uniformed Officer talking into a radio. Flora looks over to the man in her bed and wonders how he is still sleeping and what is that mark on his face? Simeon Stark is not sleeping; he is dead. Simeon Stark has a very small neat hole in the middle of his forehead - one that certainly was not there when Flora found him in her bed what seems like only half an hour ago. She vomited into the wastepaper bin and then crumpled to the floor, out cold.


Susieflooks

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Re: Body in the Bedroom

Post by lin on Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:38 pm

Really good story Susie; are you planning to introduce your own sleuth to save the fair Flora?

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Re: Body in the Bedroom

Post by Susieflooks on Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:54 pm

Thank you LIn . Yes, our hero is Beau NIghtingale who is working undercover in Edinburgh from the New York office of the Fine Art Company Smythe and Starke are a small sub plot of an international art fraud!

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Re: Body in the Bedroom

Post by Graham on Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:10 pm

Pernickety Pete here. Even with a silencer fitted there are no guns that just make 'nothing but coughing sound.'

In general, I really like the expansion and the backstory for the part you read the other week. It got a bit convoluted and hard to believe after 'Smythe whirled round having heard a noise.' You could probably smooth this out. Did you have the whole story in mind when you wrote the first bit? or are you retrofitting it? It's the bullet hole that's the problem. I find strangling works better when the neighbours might hear me.

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