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Authors: David Anderson

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BOOK: An Indecent Death
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Shaughnessy had probably been dead since Monday night. Even though he’d left the windows open, there had been a foul reek surrounding the Lexus. Whoever drove that car next would have a tough time getting the smell out. Inside the vehicle was even worse, the smell of excrement and putrefaction overpowering. Drumm’s eyes had watered and he had to back away and cover his nose and mouth before approaching again. The corpse was in an advanced state of decomposition, crawling with maggots. The eyes were gone, pecked out by birds, perhaps, or taken by some other creature. The face had turned almost black and the tongue was protruding obscenely from the mouth. The plastic tie had almost disappeared into the rotting flesh around Shaughnessy’s neck. Drumm wondered if the principal had had second thoughts, and tried to get his fingers under the choking plastic. There was too much decomposition to be able to tell. And if he had tried, it would have been far too late.

Drumm looked at Lori. “Death by plastic twist tie. Who would have thought?”

After a pause, she said, “I think I appreciate you not giving me all the details. But still, you must feel pretty good. The case went down.” She motioned to the water. “Why don’t you have a real drink? To celebrate?”

Drumm said, “I will in a minute, although I don’t feel much like celebrating. I screwed this one up, diddled around for too long. I took way too long to see the obvious and I’m lucky Lynnette Cranston wasn’t killed.”

Lori said, “You’re being too hard on yourself, Nick. Nothing was obvious in this case and he covered his tracks well. And he was lucky, too. You did well if you ask me. When did you first begin to suspect him?”

Drumm said, “We all did well, you mean. You and Karl were an important part of this case. Let’s be clear about that: it takes a team to solve a murder. You had suggestions and insight that were helpful, and so did Karl, and this murder would have gone unsolved if not for you. As for when I started to suspect Shaughnessy, it was more a case of eliminating suspects. I didn’t think there was any way Pierre Pepin could have done it. He’s a creepy pervert, maybe, but not a killer and I could never see him getting into her apartment or having the strength to get her out. Her husband? I just couldn’t understand why she would have let him in. She would have called 9-1-1 if he had shown up. Greg Parent was possible but more and more I thought he wouldn’t be capable. Partly because of the drinking, partly because I thought if he did go after her, he’d just bash her.”

“What about Madsen?” asked Lori. “And Callaghan and Deans and Musjari?”

Drumm took a sip of his water. “The first three I think just happened to have sex with her because they were in the right place at the right time. The more I thought about them, the more I realized they were just taking advantage of what she offered them. I couldn’t see them going over to her place and drugging and raping her. They would have approached her at school, talked her into more sex, and if she were in the right mood, and she almost always was, it seems, away they would have went. But Madsen wouldn’t have done that; he was out of her league completely and he must have known that.”

“And Musjari?” asked Lori.

“I didn’t think he had the balls to kill anyone,” said Drumm. “He’s all anger and whiny and about feeling sorry for himself. Not the type to plan to rape someone. But you understand, these were all just my gut feelings.”

“So that left Shaughnessy,” said Lori.

“So that left Shaughnessy,” agreed Drumm. “Or persons unknown. But I didn’t think it was an unknown stranger. Why would she drink wine with him? And I thought all along the GHB was the key thing. Where did it come from? It’s not that easy to obtain. Now maybe you could pick it up at a club but we couldn’t find any evidence of that. So I thought a vice-principal or principal might have been able to get some, because they’re in charge of hundreds of young people. But I couldn’t find any link between Deans or Shaughnessy and GHB.”

“Until you found it in the personnel files,” said Lori.

“That was just luck,” said Drumm.

Lori laughed. “It wasn’t luck, it was good police work.”

Drumm said, “Maybe. I’m just feeling sorry for myself, I guess, looking for sympathy. Sorry about that.” He finished his water and looked around for their server. “Going to order a real drink now. Maybe order a bottle of Puligny-Montrachet. What do you say?”

Lori was horrified. “At $90 a bottle? No way!”

“I was just kidding,” said Drumm with a smile. “To celebrate the end of a case, I always have champagne. Canadian champagne. Bubbles up the nose. Will you join me?”

After the champagne was delivered to their table and opened and they clinked glasses, Lori said, “About that white wine, you realized it was important, didn’t you?”

Drumm put his glass down. “At first I couldn’t understand why he took the bottle with him. Eventually it dawned on me that the type of wine must have been significant, that if we saw it, it would have identified the killer in some way. It wasn’t until I saw the bottle in Shaughnessy’s fridge and looked up its cost that I figured it out. Wish I’d gotten out there sooner.”

Lori said, “A toast, to Sarah Noonan, as indecent as she was.”

Drumm raised his glass. “To Sarah, and her indecent death.”

epilogue

 

Drumm’s garden was a mess. In the morning sunshine, it looked dreadful, so full of weeds that it was hard to see the flowers. He shook his head. “Will, get in there, will you, and dig all those suckers out.” But Will just looked at him and continued lying flat on his belly. His tongue came out and he panted a bit. Drumm looked at him again and realized he needed grooming. Shelties needed a good weeding too, every two or three months. It was just another thing he was behind on.

Taking a breather from his exertions, he stood and thought back to the previous evening. He and Lori had drunk the rest of the champagne and his mood had lightened. He had paid for it later with a nasty headache but it had been worth it. He probably shouldn’t have driven home, but champagne was light and it had only been a half bottle after all. He and Lori had talked about the case some more, and they had discussed Karl’s situation. After awhile he knew that he was postponing going home and seeing Emily. Now why was that? Was it because he was enjoying chatting with Lori Singh? He was certainly comfortable with her. But that wasn’t it. He realized that he was a bit afraid of Emily’s reaction. They’d hardly seen each other the past few days and now he was about to come home late. And with alcohol on his breath. She could easily hit the roof.

As it happened, though, Emily hadn’t been around when he got home. He had time to clean up and make a nice dinner for the two of them, and she was pleased and excited when she did show up. Pleased that he’d made supper, excited at closing another sale.

Honestly, though, he had to wonder at the future of their relationship. Emily was emotional and unpredictable. And even though she was trying hard, how healthy was it that he always feared what she would think? He loved Emily but he loved his job too and he didn’t want to give either one of them up. Surely there was a way that he could keep both of them. Realistically, though, he knew that how Emily felt about things was beyond his control.

Speculating about this was useless. Domestic chores were on the agenda for today. “Gardening is my business. Weeding is my business. Get to it, Drumm.” He bent over and started pulling weeds again.

Emily came out of the house, holding the phone. “Nicky! Phone for you! It’s Mark Chappell.”

Drumm looked ruefully at his garden, made a face at Emily and went to take the phone. Emily looked like she had something more to say to him but before she could, he gave her a hug and said, “And you are my business.” And for now, that was true.

He kissed her lightly, took the phone and went into the house.

Author’s Note

 

An Indecent Death
is the first book I wrote and much of it embarrasses me when I read it now. I certainly didn’t intend for it to come out the way it did! However, it is still the most popular of my novels and it will stay as it is.

I would like to stress that I never knew a principal like Jim Shaughnessy, thank goodness, nor a teacher like Sarah Noonan. Provocative clothing was not unheard of when I was teaching, and sex in the school certainly happened on occasion, but Sarah is an invention, pure and simple.

The City of York is fictional, being an amalgam of Newmarket, Aurora and New Tecumseth.

Shelties behave exactly as described in the novel.

 

 

BOOK: An Indecent Death
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