Killer Fudge (A Callahan Garrity Short Story) (Callahan Garrity Mysteries)

Killer Fudge (A Callahan Garrity Short Story) (Callahan Garrity Mysteries) by Mary Kay Andrews, Kathy Hogan Trocheck Read Free Book Online

Book: Killer Fudge (A Callahan Garrity Short Story) (Callahan Garrity Mysteries) by Mary Kay Andrews, Kathy Hogan Trocheck Read Free Book Online
Authors: Mary Kay Andrews, Kathy Hogan Trocheck
Tags: Mystery, cleaningmystery, housemouse, marykayandrews, shortstory, kathyhogantrocheck, fudge
 
KILLER FUDGE
by Mary Kay Andrews
     
    I was busy touching up my mental image of the
new Callahan Garrity: long sleek legs, nonexistent thighs, flat
belly, firm shapely arms. My stomach growled angrily. I love the
first day of a diet. The happy feeling of starvation, the power you
feel over your gnawing appetite.
    A shadow fell over the lawn chair where I was
stretched out.
    I opened one eye. A generously built black
woman with a sad expression stood beside me, blocking out the sun
that was to tone me, bake me, turn me into something out of a
Coppertone ad.
    "Callahan," she said tentatively. "Edna told
me to come talk to you."
    "Hello, Ruby," I said, with little enthusiasm.
"If it's about that extra day you want to work, take it up with
Edna. It's her day on the b ooks. I'm
taking the afternoon off for self-improvement."
    Edna, my mother and business partner, was
supposed to be handling the office while I recharged my batteries.
It had been an awful week.
    “No'm, it's not about work," Ruby said. "Well,
it sort of is, but it's really about Darius."
    "Darius," I said. "Is he one of your nephews?"
Ruby has so many nieces and nephews, grandchildren and
great-grandchildren, that I can never keep track of them
all.
    “Foster grandson," she prompted. "My Darius is
in trouble, Callahan. I need you to see about it."
    Seeing about other people's troubles is what I
do in my nonexistent spare time. I bought The House Mouse shortly
after quitting my job as a detective for the Atlanta Police
Department. Some women take up tennis. I dabble in private
investigation. Doesn't burn up near the calories,
unfortunately.
    I sat up slowly and looked down at my belly,
slightly pink and flabby and oily from the suntan lotion. Not flat
and brown. Oh well. Ruby is a rock usually, one of those
imperturbable women whose expressions stay calm in the face of
untold troubles. She's a mainstay of The House Mouse, the cleaning
business Edna and I run out of my house here in Atlanta. But today
her lower lip was trembling, and she dabbed continually at her eyes
with a crumpled hankie.
    She perched at the edge of my lawn chair,
smoothing her white cleaning smock down over her knees.
    "You know Mr. Ragan, my Thursday morning job?
Old gentleman lives alone over there off Hooper Avenue?" I
remembered the name.
    "Mr. Ragan's dead," Ruby said. Tears spilled
down her smooth round cheeks. "Murdered. And the police think my
Darius did it. They come to the house this morning and took him
away. Handcuffed him like you see on the TV news."
    "Why would they suspect Darius?" I asked.
"Does he even know Merritt Ragan?"
    She nodded. "Darius been doing Mr. Ragan's
yard work for a year. He liked that old man a lot. And Mr. Ragan
liked him too. Paid Darius $25 to keep the yard nice. Darius
wouldn't hurt that old man. He's a good boy. A good worker. So I
want to know can you see about it? I'll pay. You can take the money
out of my check every week."
    She reached in her smock pocket and pulled out
a crisp $100 bill and held it toward me. "This here's the down
payment. Is that right?” I stood up and pulled on the shorts I'd
left on the ground, then straightened up to zip. They were
definitely looser. "Keep the money, Ruby. Employees get a 50
percent discount on private investigation work."
     
    * * *
     
    Edna looked up from the bank deposit she'd
been preparing, and frowned. A stack of checks sat on the table
next to a smaller stack of twenties. She took a deep drag on the
extra-long filtered cigarette and exhaled slowly, letting the smoke
halo her carefully coiffed white hair.
    "You gonna help Ruby?"
    "Yeah," I sighed. "Of course I'll help her.
The woman's a saint, but that doesn't mean little Darius is. I
guess I'll head down to homicide to see what the deal is with the
charges. Can you hold the fort here?"
    She glanced at the kitchen clock. "It's four
now. The girls are done for the day. I'll put the answering machine
on and come with you."
    The last thing I needed was my

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