“GREAT PARTY! SORRY ABOUT THE MURDER.” Great title, we’d say. It’s the title of a new book by a boomer couple in the Atlanta suburb of Johns Creek, Georgia, Alyce and Harvey Goldberg, who go by the single pen name D.B. Elrogg. He was a network news producer, she was a teacher. Now they’re retired and write just for the fun of it, and we think you might have fun reading an excerpt from this intriguing mystery.
If Milo Rathkey had seen the blow coming, he would have done a better job of ducking. The sucker punch to the side of his head sent the scruffy, barrel-chested detective sprawling off the short retaining wall and onto the ice and snow-covered parking lot. A steel toed work boot slammed into his midsection. Barely breathing, he drove upward with his fist, hammering his assailant in the groin. The man groaned and doubled over. Milo sprang up, pummeled him with uppercuts to the face until he dropped to the ground. Enraged to the point of feeling no pain, Milo had to restrain himself. Blood poured out of his assailant’s nose and mouth, and one eye was swelling shut. The bloody face belonged to Chet Dunkin, the cheating husband he had been tailing, obviously not well.
Crawling to the end of the short retaining wall, Chet tried to stem the blood flow from his nose with the sleeve of his shirt. He grabbed the wall and struggled to his feet. Milo, wincing at the sharp pain in his own ribs, was relieved to see the man keeping the wall between them.
Chet was reduced to a pathetic wail, “Why have you been following me?”
Milo, ignoring Chet, scanned the ground for his cell phone.
Chet shivered. It was cold, ‘Duluth-Minnesota-in-December’ cold, and he had bolted from his motel room without a jacket. The fight was out of him, but the anger returned. “You’re working for that bitch wife of mine…I’ve seen you before! You’re going to pay for this! Damn it! You assaulted me!”
“Idiot!” Rathkey muttered, slowly bending to retrieve his phone, thinking he was getting sloppy if a dope like Chet could pick him out.
Shifting toward his car, Milo continued to keep an eye on Chet as the man floundered against the cold steady Lake Superior wind. He fell twice to the hard-packed snow until he finally disappeared into his rustic love shack. At this point, Chet was no longer Milo’s problem.
Rathkey, finished the frigid, solitary walk back to his car questioning why he didn’t have a nubile young secretary to console him. Once inside, he unearthed an old crumpled Kleenex box and used the three remaining dusty tissues to blot the blood off his knuckles and the side of his hand. He touched his ribs and sucked air. They were at least bruised. He hoped not cracked or broken. Either way he knew he was in for at least a couple of weeks of pain. His hand located the Costco sized bottle of Extra Strength Excedrin in the glove compartment. After twisting the safety cap and washing two down with what was left of his morning coffee, Milo eased his car seat back to take pressure off his midsection.
Between calming shallow breaths, Milo grumbled about how he hated following wayward spouses to pay the bills.
He thought he had set up the surveillance well. The morning was so bone chilling cold, Milo couldn’t stay in the car to operate his camera-cell phone surveillance unit without running the defroster, something he was afraid would give him away. Looking back on it, the car would have been the better option, at least less painful. He checked the phone and the camera, both had recorded Chet slipping into the cabin with his secretary, as well as the assault on Milo. The process had been messy, but the video was clear.
The strong Lake Superior winds were permeating his 2004 Honda Accord. He needed heat and needed it fast. Turning the key, the Accord groaned but failed to start. A sense of dread came over him. “Oh, not now!” He said to himself, bemoaning the fact he hadn’t had the car serviced in a long while, and the battery was old. He would get only one or maybe two more cranks before it was dead. This was always tricky. He pumped the gas gently so as not to flood the engine, turned the key, and the Accord was alive again.
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