I went out to get the paper while Alex poured the last of the breakfast coffee. Opening the front door, I noticed two interesting things. The first was a moving truck. Two big guys were preparing to lug furniture into the house next door. A black Cadillac deVille was just pulling in behind them, blocking the Mustang. A couple got out of the car. The man was five foot seven or eight, powerfully built, black hair and, from what I could see from above, getting a little bald on top.
He inspected the terrain and called up, “Hey, we blockin’ ya from gettin’ out?”
Now that was an improvement. “We’re okay for the next ten minutes or so. Then if you can let our Mustang out, the parking place will be free for the rest of the day.”
“‘At’s good.” He walked up our steps and introduced himself. “I’m Johnny Notte.” He pointed at the woman who was giving instructions to the movers. “At’s Marilyn. My bettah half.”
Marilyn was nearly Johnny’s height, short bottle-blonde hair, knock-out figure. Both she and Johnny looked as if they spent time working out. That surmise was verified as the movers began unloading some impressive exercise equipment.
“I’m Bea Goode. My husband, Alex, is inside.”
Johnny looked alarmed. “You’re Bea Goode? You ain’t Ben’s boss are ya?”
Uh oh. “Yes, I am. And you’re Ben’s and Chuck’s friend.”
“Oh, geez. You ain’t gonna tell…”
I made a shushing noise as Marilyn approached. “No, of course not.”
Marilyn said, “Johnny, go tell the movers where to put the tv.”
Johnny ran down the stairs.
Marilyn smiled, “Don’t worry about it. I know. Johnny doesn’t know I know so that’s okay. I don’t really care, as long as he treats me good.
“What’s that thing on your stoop?”
‘That thing’ was the second item of interest. A dead rat, its unlovely carcass caked in blood. A note was pinned to its neck.
Alex came out the door as Johnny was running up the steps. Marilyn pointed at the rat.
Alex and Johnny, in unison. “What the hell!”
They both bent down to read the note, nearly bumping heads.
The note said, “Back off.”
“Back off what?” Alex and Johnny asked, still in unison.
“No clue. Last week it might have been telling me to stop trying to find the reagent thief, but we’ve probably already found the guy. Have you irritated someone?” I asked Alex.
“No one I can think of, unless it’s the sonuvabitch who just moved out. Or maybe the mob. Maybe it was meant for the sonuvabitch and when the delivery boy saw the empty house he just dumped it on the nearest doorstep.”
I peered at the rat.
“Don’t touch it,” Alex said.
“I wouldn’t dream of touching it. It’s gross!”
“I’m going to call the cops,” Alex said and turned to go inside.
“Don’ call cops,” Johnny said. “I’ll take care a it. But I can tellya one t’ing.” He smiled, “It wasn’ da sonuvabitch an’ it wasn’ da mob.”
Alex looked at him. “How do you know that?”
I answered. “Uh, Alex. This is Johnny Notte, Ben’s and Chuck’s friend.”
It took Alex a minute before it registered. “Oh.”
Johnny explained. “Look. My boss,” he chuckled, “who is da sonuvabitch’s boss too, wants him in N’Yawk an’ wants me heah to take care a t’ings. You know, keep t’ings quiet. We ain’ gonna dump no rat on a citizen’s stoop. ‘Specially a citizen dat lives nex’ door.”
Alex’s mouth dropped. “You mean the sonuvabitch is Mafia?”
Johnny laughed, “You said it, I didn’. Anyway, I’ll fin’ out who done it. Like I said, I’ll take care a it.”
Marilyn said, “I’ll get something to wrap the damn thing. The movers’ll have something.” She headed for the movers.
Alex said to Johnny, “Glad to have you next door.”
Johnny bowed. “Same ta you.” He went back down to join Marilyn and the movers.
Alex and I went back in the house. The coffee was cold. Well, sometimes life throws you a curve.
You can read more about Bea in Blood Will Snitch, the fourth book in the “Bea Goode” mystery series, published by Washington Academy of Sciences. The first three books in the series are Me Tarzan You Dead, The Case of the Eclipsed Astronomer, and A Fine Climate for Murder.
Meet the author
Peg retired as Executive Director of the Washington Academy of Sciences in 2012 on her 80th birthday, shortly after starting her writing career. If she had known how much fun it was, she would have started writing sooner.