The Beauty at the End of the Block, A Brew Parkers Mystery

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Chapter 6

At 10 am the next day, Holly and the guys came over. The boys headed to the play area. We stayed in the kitchen. I grabbed my tablet. “ I festered all night and I am sure you did, too. We have to do something! We will figure out who killed the Greentrees and clear your name. I want to write it out, like I do for one of my stories. “ I took a gulp of coffee. “You, Holly, are being accused of murder. The circumstantial evidence against you is: One. The quote, fight, end quote you and Sahara had. Two. The conversation overheard by Beth, that she says could have been you and Sahara. Three. Kyle pointing and yelling at you. And four the evidence you and Mel uncovered on Jerry's property. Did I get it all?”

“Those are the four points they went over with Dave and I. I have never done anything or ever been accused of anything. That was a point in my favor. They would not answer when I asked about witness statements. I don't want to think about. What have other people said?” Holly twirled the spoon in her coffee.

“They would say you did not argue with Sahara. You said good night and left. You and I were on your porch when Kyle was shouting. I think he was delusional and just shouting at anyone.” My phone chirped. “Hang on. This may be helpful. Hello. Oh, “hi”, Catherine. Ok. OK. Really? Thanks. Do they...yeah. Oh, OK. Thanks again. Bye.” I gulped more coffee. “That was Catherine who works in the coroner's office. They can not confirm the identification of the Greentrees or contact next of kin. They have only this address and contact information. She said it is frustrating the police.”

“Nothing on their Boston address or work information? Kyle said he was in sales and Sahara was a designer. No business contacts?”

“Nothing. Catherine said they had zero.” I stopped and looked at Holly as her phone chimed.

“Oh, just Margret. She wants to meet and discuss the summer party. Without Jerry to talk to, she is talking my ear off about the new punch drink she wants to serve.” Holly's shoulders, clad in a yellow and green summer sweater drooped.

“Ah. We need information. Who was closest to Sahara and Kyle when they lived here?” I said and then stood up.

“Margret talked a lot about her.” Holly smiled.

“Yup. She knows everyone and everything. Oh, nuts.” I remembered. “She is still angry with me about not telling her about being a writer. So, she won't spill to me.”

“She will to me.” Holly said. “And, I want you there when she talks.” Holly chewed on a bite of apple.

“The Brew Park summer party is in two weeks. Margret is holding a planning dinner on Wednesday night. She wanted to meet with me tomorrow about what she is serving for dinner and the decorations for the meeting. I was having her over for a late lunch because the boys out. She loves afternoon cocktails. A few of those and she will talk with us.”

I nodded.“ What do you want me to bring?

The next afternoon, the boys were at Grandma and Papa's house being spoiled. John would pick them up after work. David and the boys were at the water park for the day. Holly and I put the food out on her buffet. I made bacon wrapped chicken bites, baked mac n cheese, and no bake chocolate peanut butter cookies. Holly made tossed salad with all the fixings, mini Greek burgers, potato salad and strawberry cheesecake bites. She also made a pitcher of strawberry margaritas. That was Margret's current trendy drink. She was great about reading up on all of the “Hot and Not” on-line. Margret showed up 10 trendy minutes late.

“I had to get the boys set for the country club. They are having a shuffle board contest and the grandparents are all excited. Oh, it smells yummy in here. I smell strawberries. Uh, oh, “Hi. Tabitha.” Margret stood in Holly's blue and yellow kitchen looking taken aback. She used her left hand to fluff her blond perfectly sprayed hair. Her cell phone was in the right. Its was covered in a case that matched her teal blue slingbacks. Her yellow floral dress had teal in it too. I could not fault her for always being coordinated and put together. It is petty jealousy and I am mature enough to say it. Holly looked fresh in a lime green and navy tank and shorts. I went with a black and tan sweater set.

“Hi, Margret. I am really excited to help out with the party.” I smiled and handed her a drink. “Have a drink.”

“Oh, how nice.” She took a sip of the margarita. “I wasn't expecting you, but the more hands are good.”

“I told Tabitha about your ideas and she was so excited, I invited her.” Holly handed me a glass of ice tea. We both agreed not to drink alcohol to stay focused on our goal of answers about the Greentrees.

An hour later, Margret was willing to tell us anything.

“Everyone loves to talk to you, Margret. Poor Sahara. You must have been the only one she could talk to.” Holly started. Margret was seated on the striped yellow and blue sofa in the family room. We moved the snacks in there.

“Oh, she was such a sad soul. She only tried to be happy.” Yes! Margret was in a talkative mood. “Such a sweet soul!”

“What do you mean, Margret? What did Sarah talk to you about?' Holly knew the right buttons.

“Oh, you know. We started out talking about fashion because of my jewelry line and my excellent fashion sense. We read all the same magazines and watched the fashion shows. No one else around here cares about how they look!” (Ouch.) “ We shopped together at the mall. But, she would never go to a discount store.” Margret paused to take a drink. “I told her I found really good bargains at these places but she was really funny about not going in.”

“Maybe it was the snake in the discount leather jacket story that scared her.” I added.

“You are so gross, Tabitha.” Margret waved a cracker in my direction. Holly hid a laugh behind a sip of ice tea. “No, she said she would never wear discount again. I never asked her why. But one night, after a few diet Manhattans, she said this was going to be THE LIFE. Sipping drinks by the pool at the country club. We ate at Koda's for dinner and she loved it. We finished exercising at the gym and I wanted a smoothie. Sarah insisted we buy it from a specialty smoothie shop. We couldn't get at the local chain. I assured her they were really good, I even let the boys have one. Except when they are training. Only my blends then. But she wouldn't!” Margret took another sip.

“What about Boston? Did she talk to you about what she did there? Or what Kyle did there?” Holly steered the conversation.

“Not much...” Margret held up one perfect yellow nail. ”Wait, she did one thing. We were at Koda's again. My mother- in -law had the boys. We were celebrating Jeff's bonus. Sahara was drinking more than normal and Kyle commented on it. She looked at him and asked if he wanted to go back to being “Teddy the Bear.” Then she stared at him in a really mean way.”

“What did he say?” Holly asked.

“Nothing. He said nothing.” She looked towards the fireplace. “Sahara was really angry that night. She sent back her entree twice and then ate five bites. When the staff packed up leftovers and brought them to the table, Sahara handed them to Kyle and whispered really loudly, ”Here! Just like Peninsula Park.” Margret took a cracker and then put it down. “I forgot to ask her what she meant.”

“Did she ever say what she did for a living before they moved here?” I ventured a question.

“She was into fashion design. She worked with a designer, but never said who. And, Kyle was in security.” She shrugged. “Kyle never seemed tough to me. He joked about being a spy.”

“Do you have a business card for either of them?” Holly asked.

“No. They both had problems at the printer. But, they had really great schedules! Whenever we wanted to get together, Sahara and Kyle were open. Would you pour my one more pink M? That what I call it at the club.' I grabbed the pitcher. “Funny, too. I showed Sahara a picture of me in my prom gown and pulled it out to show her it still fits. Then I asked her to show me her pictures and she said no. She did not have them and left. Sahara called later and apologized. Said she was tired.”

“What was the name at that restaurant in Boston that made that drink she liked?” Holly again steered Margret.

“She never mentioned on to me. Neither talked about Boston that much. They weren't into talking about the past. Sahara only talked about what she was going to do. She was going to be a famous designer with lots of money. Her words not mine.” Margret looked at me,narrowed her eyes, wrinkled her perfect nose and pointed at me . “More famous than you are since it took my excellent detective skills to find out your secret. Officer Bowen even said they were excellent when I went to the station with another brilliant idea about the murder ”

I smiled and took a drink of my iced tea. “Officer Bowen?”

“Yes. I thought maybe they should dig up the whole backyard to look for clues. He was nice and thanked me. I told him he really needed to listen to me since I uncovered my neighbor was a horror writer because I saw her on one of the books from Sahara and Kyle's house. Officer Bowen asked who, so I told him. He said he was a fan.” Margret rolled her eyes.

Holly's eyes widen over her coffee cup. I nodded just enough to show her we were on the same page. (pun!)

We finished up with Margret and got her home. She would be sleepy but not as bad as we had seen her before. I would complete the follow up research on my computer. Holly would confirm with Margret, when she was sober, the name of her police contact. We agreed, I would use the writer angle to get him to talk generalities. John was up as I walked in the kitchen door.

“And...” John prompted for the details. Charger jumped off the chocolate leather sofa and gave me a big wet kiss. I put my shoes in the closet and bent down to rub his ears.

“Lots and lots of how wonderful of a friend Margret was to the Greentrees.” John poured a glass of a dry red and handed it to me. After a deep drink, I set it down and hugged John. “I'm going to hear her voice droning in my head when I go to bed.'I'm such a good friend. Sahara and Kyle were so nice.' Yuck” I ran down the visit quickly. “What was important was a contact name at the station. Margret said Officer Bowen is a fan of mine. Sounds like I have to contact the nice officer with a question about procedures for my next book.” I looked up into his green eyes and lost my thought. I stretched up on my toes and kissed him. John smiled and kissed me back.

“So for all of the pain there was some gain?” John asked.

“Yes.” I sighed.

John and the guys were in our backyard having a quick smores fire. I opted to sit inside and write down everything that we had found out from Margret. My phone chirped and that was odd. Anyone who knew me, knew of my hatred for phone calls after 10 pm. (Long story. I'll tell you another time.)

“Hello. Oh, Catherine. Hey, how is it? Oh, thanks. OK. OK. Thanks. No, really. Thanks for keeping me in the loop. Have a good night.” I hung up and started the text to Holly. The Greentrees were poisoned. They know it is unusual but that is it. Send. Two seconds later Holly's response came through. One word. Crap.

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