Penelope—“This morning I went shopping, and then I went to the Museum of Modern Art. They have a marvelous new exhibit there. After which I had lunch at the Plaza: Palm Court—eggs Benedict. A few minutes before three o’clock I stuck up my husband’s bank.”
“And one more thing: This is America, not Europe. Our attitude toward women is different.”
“Sex hasn’t gone out, has it?”
“No, of course not.”
“I’d heard it had been replaced by television.”
Catherine was expecting a lot of things. What she wasn’t expecting in her wildest dreams was the sight of Obie [Jones] lying unconscious on the living room floor, submitted by the application of a most viscous armbar. Mr. Jones’ left arm is broken in several places. The sharp ends of the bone breaks jut through his flesh. His wrist and elbow have been destroyed. A pouting, angry Jenny Miller, Mondo’s Elven roommate and main BFF, is perched in a chair staring straight at Catherine saying nothing.
The formidable Elf, a former Marine Recon [USMC Force Recon i.e. United States Colonial Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance], currently a Sky Marshall with Pan Am, is wearing her favorite nightgown, bathrobe, and pink bunny slippers.
Startled, Catherine steps back out of the apartment and reaches into her purse. She never gets a chance to draw her gun. She feels the muzzle of someone else’s pistol in the small of her back.
“Leaving so soon. And the party was just getting started,” Mondo whispers in Catherine’s ear. “Going after my best friend. The dirtiest spiteful trick. What a predictably vengeful bitch you are.”
The sandman shoves Catherine back into the apartment, the front door closes and locks itself behind them.
Jenny gets out of her chair, walks over to the captive Catherine, and hugs the employer of her would-be murderer in a “glad to see you in a coon’s age” manner. In a break with kayfabe, she’s smiling.
“Not counting an out of it Obie, it’s just us girls,” Jenny announces playfully as she skips into the kitchen to prepare breakfast. “How many places should I set, Mondo?”
“Let’s be optimistic and set three. Have you called an ambulance for Obie?”
“I see no need to involve the police and press charges against him. We’ll chalk it up to horseplay that went awry. Hence the mishap with his arm.”
“I totally agree.”
Mondo shoves Catherine over toward Obie. Catherine sits in the chair that Jenny was sitting in. The Vampire holsters her gun.
“Miles always knew that in the end, you’d murder him. And I do believe that you truly loved him.” Then in a very demeaning manner, Mondo adds: “But … No matter how hard it tries, a scorpion cannot change its nature.”
The addition does what it’s meant to do. It rattles Catherine’s cage, somewhat.
“Think you’ve got the better of me, huh?”
“Honey, you’d lost before the game ever started. And don’t delude yourself into thinking that this was ever a competition between the two of us. It was a game that I was always gonna win.”
Catherine smiles, wily. Mondo reads her to a tee, and smiles wilier. That’s when Catherine realizes that she’s been had.
“Go ahead, call them.”
Catherine pulls a phone out of her purse and checks. Sure enough, every contingency that she had in place and had put in motion for the endgame has been skillfully thwarted. Game over, she’s lost!
“I’m at your mercy,” a dejected-looking Catherine finally concedes. A rhetorical admission on her part.
“And unfortunately for you, I have none. This you already know, which is why your concession is rhetorical at best.”
“Yes, as you say, I was being rhetorical.”
Postgame. Time to poke you again.
“Yawn,” Mondo feigns disinterest to get Catherine even more off her nut.
The murderess hates improvising, not being very good at it. She prefers doing everything according to her meticulous game plan. Losing was not part of the plan, though. Worse: she’s never lost before. Postgame is unchartered territory for her. Ergo, for her, postgame is a complete and utter improvisation.
“So now that you’ve won, you kill me in revenge for killing Miles.”
Maybe a random elder [e.g. some old thing] is remote viewing. Just passing the time. Channel surfing and they come upon this, our conversation. Grasping for straws, she’s hoping that this is about me avenging Mile’s murder and I get got by said eavesdropping old thing for admitting my transgression. If this is her [Catherine’s] “Hail Mary” pass. It too will fail.
“If this had just been about Food killing Food, I wouldn’t have intervened, even when it involved Food that I cared about so much. Miles was a big boy, an adult, and he knew exactly what he was getting into when he married you. So … when you finally did decide to do him in, as he knew you eventually would, he wanted me to make the murder investigation into a most fun adventure for me the investigator and for you the investigatee. To cut to the chase … There is no revenge motive on my part. Miles coopted my involvement by invoking a binding promissory.” The Lost pauses and smiles even wider. Then she continues. “Hopefully, up until your defeat, it was as much an A-list experience for you as it was for me.”
“Look in the drawer of the nightstand by you. There’s a manila envelope.”
Catherine does as she’s instructed. Inside the envelope are copies of the circumstantial evidence against her. It’s copious to the point of being obese, but the evidence is nothing her lawyer can’t make mincemeat of.
“The originals are with the District Attorney. You will be arrested and charged with Miles’ murder, when you leave this apartment building. The police are waiting outside.”
“There’s a catch, isn’t there?”
“Of course. As you can see, based upon the evidence, you’ll easily beat the rap. But, after the case is tried, you will sign custody papers in the office of my attorney, Attorney Felicity ‘Perry’ Mason.”
“You’re going to give custody of your children to the in-law that you loathe so much, Miles’ sister. You will have supervised visitation with the children, of course.”
“I will do nothing of the sort!”
“Then Jenny and I will devour you and Obie here. Neither of you will leave this apartment alive. Miles’ sister will get custody of your kids by default. If you verbally agree now to relinquish custody of your children and later renege on signing the custody agreement after you’ve been judged innocent at your trial—absconding with the kids and disappearing off the gird with them—the children’s godparents will hunt you down and do worse by you. Per the custody agreement, there is an order of succession for determining who will get custody of the kids if anything happens to Miles’ sister, and you’re not on that list, but the godparents are.”
“Godparents?! They have no godparents!”
“On the contrary. It’s something else that Miles arranged without your knowledge or consent. Their godparents are Wraiths. And you know how possessive Wraiths can be about their godchildren.”
Wraiths are inclined to be over-possessive about all their personal relationships. They are also very adept at simulating malevolent spirits. That combination lends itself to some pretty nasty personality traits. Benevolent, they are not to those who cross them.
Catherine swallows hard. Very unpleasant images are being entertained in her head.
“I see, now.”
“So, do we have an agreement?”
“Yes, we do.”
“Good. Then we eat. Unfortunately for Jenny and me, it [breakfast] won’t be you and Obie.”