The Bayou Katt Murders

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Chapter 13

In her youth, Katt Hall had fancied herself, among other things, a songwriter. She had kept a notebook of poems and song lyrics, and one such lyric, “Love is a Victimless Crime,” she hoped would one day skyrocket her to the top of the pop charts.

She had met a number of men in college who claimed to be composers and who had offered to set her lyrics to music. And she had envisioned herself as a sort of Nashville hottie, wearing a tanktop and ten-gallon hat, or a short skirt and shitkickers, strumming a guitar, and who, with her distinctive Southern twang and charm, would almost certainly shoot to stardom. But more often than not, these men turned out to be not Kenny Rogers wannabes, but merely horny college guys who wanted to get close enough to her to cop a feel, and who could blame them? In a tight blouse and with a little makeup on, she was Tuesday Weld and Sandra Dee wrapped into one. And she liked to wear perfume strong enough to bring the entire Marine Corps to heel. Yeah, she was the proverbial campus doll, if you will. There was always one drop-dead knockout on every campus that every jock and nerd alike had their eye on. Usually these types fell into the sinister clutches of some campus Svengali or jerk, but not Katt Hall, not the Big Katt. Because she was something very special -- smart and sweet and savvy all rolled into one.

And now, as she labored in her notebook, for Katt Hall love WAS a victimless crime, something that seized you in the gut and in the heart and swept you away. Something not meant to hurt you but to transport you to a land of bliss. And she had been good and transported at least twice, and gone with the flow, right to the marriage altar. Twice bitten, twice, it would seem, stung. But perhaps love WASN’T a victimless crime, what with the pain of the divorce from her first marriage still weighing on her, and a string of broken hearts a mile long trail-ing behind her, representing the many men who had coveted and adored her, but failed to seize this blonde prize.

She sat on the side of the bed as Spud continued to snooze, reworking the lyrics to her song: “Love is a victimless crime/Love is a world divine/I’m in your arms all night/Love is what makes it right.” And so on.

Elsewhere at this hour, leaning on a bar top, the stranger couldn’t help but remark, “Shit, this tastes good,” as he slurped a beer with Big George Lesslie. He was trying to make like just one of the boys because he knew this was what George could relate to. He knew that on the Wechsler-Binet scale, George wasn’t exactly genius IQ. He wanted to play to George’s baser instincts, knowing this was the way he would lure big George out back. Big George had gotten out promptly at five, and the stranger had been waiting for him.

While they slurped down beers, the surveillance cop waited in his patrol car across the street. What could possibly happen to Big George in there? What indeed. Though he found it odd that the same guy who had accosted George earlier had been waiting for him after work. What could happen to Big George in the confines of the bar, in a public place, certainly nothing that would go unnoticed. But one must never underestimate this stranger, for he was clever and devious.

“Hey,” the stranger said, “you feeling mellow?” “Oh yeah.”

“I’ve got something really strong in the truck.” Big George threw him a puzzled look.

“Get ready to have your butt set on fire. I brewed the stuff myself. Whiskey.”

“Oh shit.”

“You gotta try it.”

“I told Sally I’d be home.”

“Take two seconds. Come on, follow me.” He threw a ten spot on the bar and they climbed down, moving through the darkness out the back way. At the very same time, the cop entered through the front.

“George Lesslie?”

The bartender motioned. And the cop moved fast.

“Yeah,” the stranger said as they climbed into the cab of his truck, “this shit will literally set you on fire.” He reached for a gun in the glove compartment.

“Oh crap.” George spotted the cop coming toward them. “Thought I’d lost you, Georgie,” the cop said. “And you again. This time, I want to see that ID.”

“All right.” The stranger handed over the phony ID. You pay enough, the phony stuff looks real.

“I gotta get home to my wife,” George said. And he climbed out of the truck.

The cop handed back the ID, looked at George. “You sure you know this guy?”

“Hell, Bill, I’m telling you I do. Stop bugging me.”

“Yeah, yeah.” The cop wasn’t convinced.

“Anyway, I’ll be seeing you,” George told the stranger, and he left.

“I don’t know about you,” the cop said, pointing to the stranger. “I’m a hell of a guy. Go for a drink?” You had to give the stranger credit, he had cujones.

“I’d like to take you in for questioning.”

“Heck, I’m such a nice guy.”

“But I’ll leave it at this -- get lost.”

The stranger smiled the smile of one very clever psycho-maniac. But shrewd and arrogant though he was, careful and clever though he might be, he never reckoned on one thing, the one thing that might eventually hoist him high in a deadly snare -- the equally clever machinations of the one and only legendary beauty he so desired to possess -- namely one Katt Hall.

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