It was never an easy chore, telling a woman her husband had been killed. And you always tried to soften the blow. Unfortunately for Curtis Stephens, now in a body bag en route to the medical examiner’s, whoever had set upon him hadn’t used quite the same decorum and had hardly softened his attack.
“Mrs. Curtis Stephens?” “Yes.”
“May we come in?” “Is something wrong?”
No, nothing at all -- your husband has been mashed, mauled and plugged in the head, but there’s nothing wrong at all.
Later that evening, in a patrol car, the chief of police and his deputy, having done the dirty deed of informing Mrs. Stephens that her husband would be more than a little late for dinner, tossed around some ideas.
“What does this mean?”
“It means one suitor for Katt Hall killed off another suitor. This nut must be thumbing through an old yearbook or something. Weird, because the Big Katt just blew into town this very day. Whoever did this must have planned in advance, so somehow he knew she was coming. But how? Time to ring a doorbell.”
And ring they did, at the Great House, and Mama Hall answered it.
“Sorry to bother you, Mrs. Hall. We’ve got to speak to your daughter and her husband. They are staying here?”
“Yes, they’re here. It’s late.”
“I know, but this is very important.” “Well then.” She waved them through.
The cops entered the opulent, somewhat cold and proper splendor of the Hall residence. Lace curtains, furniture that seemed somewhat cold and upright, but that was perfectly cleaned and dusted. A fireplace. This was like some museum preserved from the antebellum days. Yes, it seemed that some people just couldn’t get the flavor of the Old South out of there blood.
“Officers -- how nice of you to come and see me.” Katt Hall was turning on the
“Won’t you sit down, please. My husband is upstairs, he’s a little tired from the evening’s activities. But please, make yourself comfortable, and anything I can do to help you.”
“You ever date a fellow named Curtis Stephens?”
“We’re talking a long time ago, in high school,” the deputy added.
“Curtis Stephens? Now, let me think. I do believe I have some faint recollection of a Curtis, but there were so many men in my life in those days. You were young once, you must remember those lusty and exciting days of high school. Is there some sort of problem?”
“Only if you consider being mauled and shot in the head a problem. We found a note on poor Curtis’ lifeless body in the road tonight -- ‘She’s back, she’s back and she’s all mine.’ Now let’s face it, you’re back, Miss Hall or Mrs. Spud, and I’m sure there were more than a few men who wanted to possess you.”
“Well, of course, I was rather the popular girl in those days.” And it wasn’t hard to see why. But cops weren’t supposed to covet married women. Still, luscious lips, ripe breasts and body curves, sweeping blonde hair, these were qualities you could hardly not covet. Indeed, when the Katt wrapped her charms around you, you stayed wrapped. And what they wouldn’t have given for a few moments with her, in a darkened room, a few moments to feel the softness of her, and the warmth of her breath. Yeah, that was what Katt Hall did to you. She made you melt beneath her warmth and beauty.
“We need a copy of your old high school yearbook. And you and your husband should be on notice that this nut could strike either or both of you at any time; ergo, we are going to put you under surveillance. It would certainly be in your best interests to stick around the Great House until we nail this maniac.”
“I do believe there is a copy of the yearbook somewhere in this house. But just so you should know -- I didn’t complete my high school education here. I was shipped off to an exclusive boarding school in New Orleans halfway into my senior year.”
“Does that mean you weren’t included in the yearbook?”
“Well no, no, as a matter of fact, they did include me. I wanted a copy of that yearbook -- for sentimental reasons.” The Big Katt smiled.
The cop looked her over. “It’s hardly likely someone who knew you from New Orleans would be able to come up with a list of old suitors from this area, but we won’t rule it out. That yearbook?”
“I’ll try to find it for you.” “Your husband okay?” “Yes, he’s fine.”
“You’re sure?” She nodded.
“Jog your memory, okay -- about old boyfriends.”
“I’ll do that,” she said, gently shifting her lithe body, her breasts swaying ever so gently beneath her blouse, just gently enough to arouse a man’s attention. And the cops were surely aroused.
“We’ll be back in the morning.”
The cops got out of there fast. In front of the Great House, they shook their heads. Yeah, they had escaped her charms, for now. But she was like some giant, powerful magnet. That she was endowed with irresistible charms was indisputable. That those charms often led to trouble was also a hard and fast truth. Indeed, law number one of the jungle -- wild cats are always dangerous, especially when cornered.
Back in the house, Katt Hall headed upstairs to the bedroom, where Spud was passed out and splayed across the four poster. She shook her head in disbelief.
The next morning, the police were back, and they sat on either side of the Big Katt as she thumbed through her high school yearbook.
“Here it is. ‘To my dearest angel and partner in dance class. Your devoted Curtis.’ I had forgotten all about that.”
“Mama insisted I take proper dance lessons, isn’t that right, mama? There was a dance studio in town. Curtis came from a respectable family, and now I remember -- he was taking lessons, too.”
“So you danced together?”
“Among other things. Oh, look here -- here’s George Lesslie. He was a brute, an animal. But his parents had money. He was a veritable swamp barbarian, that George, but those wandering paws of his were never allowed to touch pristine little me.”
“So we’d better include him in as both a suspect and a potential victim.” He turned to the deputy -- “Locate him, depose him.” Then he turned to Katt Hall. “Any sense of whether this Lesslie fellow is still living in town?”
Mama interjected -- “Yes, I do believe he is still living in Baton Rouge. I think he works at the local bowling alley.” She sat nearby, her curious eyes narrowing. What had her little girl gotten into this time? “I should tell you, though, that I believe he might have done some jail time.”
“How delicious,” the Big Katt intoned. “Well, I mean, it does make a man seem a bit more rugged and appealing.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll run him down. You go through this and come up with a list of the men you dated, then give us a call.”
“Well, there was Lyle Peterson. And Arthur Smakes. I remember those two. And Horace something or other.”
“Put together a list. We’ll try to run them down. Meantime, we’ll put an officer outside the house.”
Yes, many were the men that Katt Hall had charmed in her not-so-innocent youth. And at this very moment, outside the home of one Horace Hazelton, a prowler was scoping out the scene. He peered through a curtained window, as Horace and his aged mother
could be seen watching daytime television. The old woman needed a walker, and Horace was obviously a devoted son. A live devoted son, at least for the moment. Could he help it if he had dated a hot little blonde named Katt Hall in his freshman year, a girl who had flirted with him in class, then slapped his wandering hand in the schoolyard? Who had tormented him with her charms, and poured on the Southern accent, and even affected a Bette Davis Jezebel deportment, fluttering a fan to keep her cool in the cloying heat at the high school prom?
Eyes watched Horace and mother dear through the windows. Eyes that wanted to do bad things, because he -- Horace, that is -- had been lucky enough to date Katt Hall, perhaps take her in his arms at the dance, when the lights were low, and the music was soft and inviting. Perhaps sip punch with her and then take her outside, so they could neck in the moonlight. This, despite a face horrifically blighted with hideous, oily pimples.
Yes, the eyes watched, as at the Great House Katt Hall thumbed through her yearbook and made a list of her many beaux. She wondered whether Spud was up and around yet, or even remotely conscious. She would have to have a stern talk with daddy about the club and the liquor and such.
An even sterner talk would have to be had with Horace Hazelton, who sat dully watching the flickering of the TV screen. But this talk would be conducted by someone with bad intentions, someone unfriendly indeed. For a man who can murder once, they tell us, and who has a grudge against Katt Hall’s old flames, can most assuredly murder again.