Makeup and Murder

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Chapter 18

Cobwebs and a family of raccoons living in the spare bedroom greeted Angie, and Dixie at a cabin belonging to one of Harlan’s friends. It wasn’t the worst thing that they ran across, though. Something had been using the bed in the master bedroom as a nest, though it wasn’t clear just what that something was. It was going to take more elbow grease than the women had combined to clean up the mess, as the cabin hadn’t been used in several years. Luckily, Harlan had arranged for reinforcements. Officer’s Roy Greenlea and Jim Thompson had volunteered to help.

As Dixie swept out the living room, Angie pried open every window that she could. The air was thick with dust, and they took turns sneezing and standing on the porch to catch a breath of fresh air. By the time Harlan’s friends had arrived, they had dealt a cursory blow to the downstairs living area and had managed to air out the upstairs.

The leather couches in the living room had survived the test of time, whereas the curtains were a little threadbare from the sunlight. The men hauled the upstairs mattresses outside to a trash heap, much to Dixie’s relief. She was worried that something would crawl out of them at night and attack.

After the dust had settled down, everyone met in the living room to discuss the plan to keep everyone safe while they stayed at the cabin.

Part one of the plan, getting Dixie out of the house unnoticed, had gone without a hitch. A woman officer arrived at her house driving Angie’s car and dressed like her. Once inside, the officer gave her outfit to Dixie, along with a little extra padding. After a little while, Dixie, dressed like Angie, ambled outside again and left. Zipped inside of her large purse was Louie, who wasn’t terribly happy about the covert operation.

Part two of the plan consisted of hiding at the cabin until the killer tried to attack the new, and heavily armed, Dixie doppelganger.

Dixie and Angie would stay at the cabin, probably uncomfortably, until the suspect was apprehended. Dixie was already regretting the move and worrying about the abundant wildlife in and outside of the cabin.

Harlan had surprised them with a collection of camp cots and blow-up mattresses from his truck. When he explained how they were going to use the toilet without running water, Dixie was less optimistic. A bucket with sawdust in it was going to have to suffice. Dixie groaned thinking about it.

Hoping to change the unpleasant topic of conversation, Dixie asked, “Is anyone thirsty? We have some iced tea, cola, and a few snacks. It isn’t much, but no one is going to starve tonight,” Dixie asked, eager to wash the dust out of her throat.

“We brought some food for you too, and we’ll bring more when we visit you each day,” Harlan informed them. “With any luck, we’ll have our suspect by the end of the week.”

“I hope you are right, Harlan,” Dixie said, frowning.

“It won’t be all bad. You’ll have police protection in the cabin, and if you’re lucky, I’ll show you how I make the best s’mores ever,” Harlan said, flashing a grin.

Dixie had to smile back. His boyish attitude was infectious, and she wanted to believe in what he said. What she wanted now, however, was food. Talking about s’mores made her stomach growl.

“How about I get something to eat? I’m starving. I haven’t eaten anything since we started cleaning,” Dixie said.

“I could use a nice, cold beverage,” Angie said, chiming in. “Do you have any sandwiches in that cooler of yours?” Angie gave Harlan a flirty wink.

Dixie smiled and rolled her eyes a little. Sometimes her aunt could be a handful.

Harlan played along, however, which made Dixie happy. He opened the cooler for Angie, letting her pick out what she wanted from the assortment of sandwiches before selecting something for himself. Another cooler had an assortment of drinks, including Angie’s favorite iced tea.

Dixie spied a bottle of vanilla latte coffee drink in the cooler, and she pounced on it. She unscrewed the cap and had drunk half a bottle before she noticed Harlan staring at her.

“Easy girl,” Harlan said with a chuckle. “I promise I’ll bring more tomorrow!”

“Sorry, I promise I’ll be better shortly, if I can get some food in me,” Dixie said while she pawed through the sandwiches. She found a roast beef sandwich made with lettuce and tomato and seized it. Moments later, she was devouring it and had a happy look on her face. A little dribble of the horseradish sauce was on her chin.

Harlan and his friends finished their lunches and convened on the porch of the cabin.

Dixie listened to them talking schedules and concerns for hiding she and her aunt. They were worried about the lack of electricity and running water if they would have to stay for an extended period. They were lucky that the weather was still warm for this time of year.

Harlan came back indoors with his friends in tow, and they announced that they would be going upstairs to see if any more critters needed eviction before they moved the blow up mattresses into the rooms. Dixie nodded and watched them climb the stairs with purpose.

“I’m glad it is them going in first,” Dixie said. “I’d rather they confront any animals instead of us! At least they have guns.”

Angie laughed and nodded in agreement. “A broom can do the trick in most cases, but God only knows what might be up there. I heard some thumping in one of the rooms upstairs earlier, and I was dreading finding out what it was.”

All of a sudden, there was a high-pitched scream from upstairs and a terrific thud. It was quiet for a moment, followed by a lot of laughing.

“What the…” Dixie began but was interrupted by Roy rushing downstairs with a wadded up blanket. He pushed the screen door open and pitched the blanket over the side of the porch into a pile of leaves. When he came back inside, Harlan and the other men were standing on the stairs. As if on cue, they burst into laughter again.

“Roy, you should have heard yourself!” Harlan said. “You sounded like a teenage girl!”

The men started laughing again, but Roy didn’t join them. Instead, he told them to cool it, and he headed back up the stairs, pushing the other men out of the way as he went past them.

“Aw come on Roy,” Jim said. “We’re just kidding around.”

“What was it?” Dixie asked. “Roy ran out of the house like his shoes were on fire.”

“It was just a squirrel. I think it was more scared of us than we were of it. Except for Roy!” Harlan said, laughing again.

The men turned and followed Roy, slightly more subdued than they had been.

“I hope that is the extent of the excitement today. I don’t think my nerves can take any more surprises,” Dixie said.

“Oh, one never knows,” Angie replied, raising her eyebrows as if she knew something that Dixie didn’t.

Dixie gave her a questioning look but then got up to check on the squirrel.

“Where do you think you’re going?” Angie asked.

“I’m going to go check on the animal heaved over the porch railing. The way it was bundled up, it could suffocate,” Dixie replied.

“Be careful that you don’t get bitten,” Angie said, thinking it was a fool’s errand.

A few minutes later, Dixie returned with a rumpled blanket.

“I hope that is all you brought back in the house,” Angie said, looking skeptical.

“No worries; I set the fuzzy little guy free. He wouldn’t have made it out the way he was wadded up in there, though I suppose he could have chewed his way out,” Dixie said.

“Thank goodness,” Angie said before taking a sip of her tea.

“I wonder how long we’ll have to stay here,” Dixie said, suddenly feeling a little depressed about her situation.

“With any luck, you’ll be back home soon,” Angie said. “At least you won’t have to worry about the squirrels, or chewing your way out of a blanket to freedom.”

Dixie nodded, but she wasn’t so sure. If they didn’t catch the killer soon, she might be in the same situation as the squirrel.

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