The Bayou Katt Murders

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FIVE

FIVE

Katt Hall finished thumbing through her yearbook, compiling a list of half a dozen possible stalkers. She was growing restless and irritated that Spud had not come down to breakfast.

“Daddy,” she said, as her father entered the room. “Is the Eldorado still in the

back?”

“Now honey -- ”

“’Cause I have got to take this list to town. And I’m itching in my blood to raise some hell.”

“Baby, I wish you wouldn’t start.”

“You wouldn’t have me be other than my true self, daddy. I’ll need the keys.” Yes, in a garage in back, a 1959 Cadillac Eldorado convertible was concealed

from view, but the car had been well maintained. And now, daddy surrendered the keys. “You be careful, and now you bring it back in one piece.”

“Oh daddy. I love the way you spoil me.” She gave him a playful kiss on the cheek, then found her way to that convertible, threw back the top, and roared the engine

to life. She’d dirty up those whitewalls, and spread those fins far and wide along the bayou roads.

With the top pushed back, her wild blonde hair would flow, and she revved up the caddy and blasted out of the garage, then spun the car forward and out onto the main road.

“Holy hee-aaaa!” she cried, as the Eldorado thundered down the road, kicking up a plume of dust.

At about that very same time, the stranger who had lately visited the mojo man pulled his pickup truck into a service station in town.

“Know where I can rent a truck?” “You already got one.”

“I mean like a full-size delivery truck -- like a florist’s truck or something.” “Well, there’s a haul-it-yourself truck rental down the road there.” “Thanks.”

As the stranger cruised along the road, something caught his eye. JASON’S PLUMBING. It was stenciled on a truck parked at the entrance to a service garage. He pulled the pickup over, got out and investigated.

“That your truck?” he asked an old man who had emerged from the garage. “My cousin’s. He wanted me to look at it.”

“Could I borrow it?” “Are you kidding?”

“Five hundred bucks. I’ll have it back in an hour.” The old man just looked at him.

“Five hundred bucks, it comes back in mint condition just the way you see it, and there will be no questions asked.” And before the garage mechanic could reply, there was cash money in his hand. “I’ll leave my truck in back. You wouldn’t have a pair of overalls I could wear?”

“Say, what’s going on?”

“Practical joke. No harm intended. Just having fun with a couple of old friends. The overalls?”

“In the back,” the old man gestured.

Not twenty minutes later, the stranger had pulled the plumbing truck up to the Great House and residence of one Josephus Hall. He’d do some plumbing, all right. He’d plumb himself into Spud’s room and secure an item of clothing. Then the mojo man could go to work.

Elsewhere, Katt Hall was flirting with the chief of police as she placed her old yearbook and the list she’d made on his desk.

“I’m in a hurry,” she said.

The chief looked over the list. Nodded to his next in command. “Check them out.” He turned to the Big Katt. “Keep out of sight. Stay close to your husband and keep him out of sight. It shouldn’t be that long. We’ll nail this creep.”

“Whatever you say, officer,” she lied, smiling that Katt Hall smile, with the dimples lighting up her cheeks, and the softness of that flowing hair always so seductive. “You married?”

“You -- ” the chief said, wanting to swat this little flirt of a woman. “Keep out of trouble.”

“Yessir,” she said, smiling, and shortly the roar of the Eldorado could be heard, and there was dust and she was off in a blaze of glory. But not in the direction of the Great House. She was headed to the country club, and by now the bar would probably be open for business.

“This is exclusively a men’s club,” the doorman at daddy’s club told her.

“Now, I don’t want to make a scene, but you do know who I am?” “Can’t say that I do, ma’am.”

“I’m daddy’s little girl -- Josephus Hall’s oldest. I’m the Big Katt, baby, and when the Big Katt needs to water, water she most certainly will.”

“It’s all right, Edward,” a voice boomed in from behind him. A business type, middle-aged and nicely dressed, came forward. “Well, well, the Big Katt.”

“And who might I be talking to?”

“I’ve known your daddy for years. And I remember you as a child, yes, I remember you all too well. Daddy said you’d be back in town, and here you are. George Owens.” They shook hands.

“Well, George, I don’t know about you, but I’m thirsty,” she said, fluttering her eyelashes, flirting like hell with him. “I need something that goes down hot, something to stir my embers. Have you got something like that?”

“Yeah, I’ve got something like that.” He threw a look at the doorman. “This

way.”

He led the Big Katt down the hall to the bar, which was empty at this hour. “You will have a drink with me?” she said.

“Of course.”

“Bourbon over ice. There’s nothing like corn whiskey, George.”

“You are something, Katt Hall, you are something else. All right, bourbon for two.” He waved his hand, and in a moment drinks were set before them.

“I like my liquor hard, and my men fast,” Katt said. “And outside there, I’ve got a set of hot wheels, and I’m looking to burn up some road. I’d love some company.”

“You’re a married woman.”

“Innocent company. The Katt likes to raise hell, but she doesn’t like to raise it alone. You look innocent enough to me.”

“I’m not. Three kids, but I’m human. And I don’t know, I just don’t know about

you.”

“Daddy will never know. Come on, let’s beat it out of here and raise some holy

hell.”

It didn’t take long for the Eldorado to rev up again, and Katt and the businessman blasted down the road, the engine of that old buggy roaring, dust flying, with the chrome taking some hard jolts from the sudden twists and turns Katt was making. Holy hell, this girl was a terror behind the wheel of that car, and now George Owens had second thoughts about this little junket.

“Honey, we are going to have ourselves a goooood time!”

And now she was pushing sixty along roads that were only partly paved, and pressing for more speed.

“Jesus.”

And as quickly as they had revved up, she spun a right up a side road, went in about a hundred yards and pulled over. She looked George the businessman right in the eye. “No one will see us here.”

“Oh no.”

“You are going to neck with the Big Katt, honey, and that is all there is to it.” “You’ve got the wrong idea.”

“The Katt is loyal, but she still has to have some fun.” “Dear God.”

“Now wrap your arms around me, and let’s do some delicious kissing.” “Honey, we had better not go there.”

“I’ll tell daddy you were mean to me. Now come on, the Katt wants to have some fun -- you wouldn’t deny daddy’s little girl? Besides, I want to give you something to remember me by.”

Oh Christ, was he going to allow this to happen?

“The Katt must feed, baby.” And she threw her arms around him and kissed him, driving her tongue like a hot drill bit deep into his throat. That tongue of hers was on fire, plunging for his tonsils. “Ha!” she laughed, and threw back her mane of golden hair, and looked him lasciviously in the eye. “You’ve tasted the Katt. You’ll never settle for anything less again. Now, I’ve gotta get home.”

George was still stunned. But not as stunned, perhaps, as one Adelaide Hall, who answered the front door buzzer of the Great House and was confronted by a man in overalls. The stranger had donned a workman’s cap, and was trying to keep his face somewhat concealed. Concealed, for if Adelaide had really scrutinized him closely, she would have remembered him from an earlier time.

“Plumber, ma’am. Problem with the upstairs commode.” In the South toilets

were not simply toilets, they were commodes. The stranger now motioned to the JASON’S PLUMBING truck out front.

“I made no such call.”

“Your husband, ma’am. Had to be. I believe you were having trouble with a float valve. Piece of cake, I’ll have it fixed in no time.” He pushed his way past her. “So, this is the Great House.”

“Now listen -- ”

“I understand your daughter and her husband are back in town. Are they at home, ma’am?”

“That is hardly your business.” “Just wanted to pay my respects.”

“Katt is not here. And her husband is sleeping and wishes not to be disturbed.” “He tie a load on?”

“Don’t be impudent.”

“I’ll just be a minute,” the would-be plumber said. And he headed up the long circular staircase, toolbox in hand. Ah, the splendor of the Great House. It reeked of antebellum primness.

He reached the top of the stairs and looked left and right. He’d have to be careful, Josephus might be lurking about. So he moved slowly, measuredly, along the corridor. And then, out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of Spud, the door to the bedroom slightly ajar. Spud, out cold on the four-poster.

Yes, Spud, whose eyes were still red and blurry, the alcohol having slammed him into submission and delivered him to a land called nowheresville.

It was tempting, so very tempting, for the stranger to reach into his tool kit and raise high a wrench, the better to bring it down on Spud’s head, to pound it like summer squash, and end this little game right here and now. But why spoil the fun -- after all, the joy was in the pursuit, and there were others to eliminate on his path to golden glory, his path to Katt Hall’s bed.

He began to whistle blithely, all in a day’s work, as he entered the bedroom. What he needed was an article of clothing, and what he saw was a suitcase lying open on

the floor. He quickly rifled through its contents, and came up with a pair of jockey shorts. He stuffed them in his toolbox.

“What can I do for you, sir?” a voice boomed from behind him.

My God, that voice had a somewhat familiar and distinctive tone to it. Had he been caught red-handed in the act?

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