“Okay. Okay. I got one.” Alice announces excitedly. Jane and Kitty share twin looks of exasperation and they’re not quick enough in looking away. Alice lets loose a peal of laughter when she catches the two of them at it. “I work in an office. My work isn’t quite as glamorous as a doctor’s or a lawyer’s.”
Jane and Kitty stumble over themselves in disagreeing and pointing out that she meets all kind of people on a personal level. Jane pours a little more wine in Alice’s glass, hoping that it’ll serve as a peace offering. But Alice isn’t offended, she just smiles and takes a sip. When she sets the glass back down again, there’s a bright pink smear of lipstick left behind on the rim.
“It’s alright. It wasn’t at work anyways. It happened when I went hiking a couple of months ago at Garner Park- or has it been almost a year?” Alice’s forehead smooths and she shrugs off her doubts about the timeline. She takes another sip and says, “This is good, Jane.”
Jane murmurs something and waves her hand to signal that Alice should go on with her story. Kitty has her elbow on the table and her chin resting in the palm of her hand, her eyes glued to Alice’s face with unwavering attention. They can both tell that Alice has a good one this time and she won’t be rushed. That doesn’t keep Jane from trying to hurry her along though. To tease her friends further, Alice carefully sets down her glass and swipes at the lipstick with her thumb.
“So let’s see, where was I? Oh yes. I had just gotten out of my car and made my way towards the head of the trail at Garner Park when I was stopped by a man. He was tall with red hair and brown eyes, very freckled. But what I remember most about him was his smile, he had very straight white teeth. He looked so kind.” Alice pauses again to take another sip. “He asked me if I knew where the overlook was and when I told him I did he looked so relieved. He pointed out his wife, she was standing by the map posted a little ways down the trail. She had on one of those large brimmed straw hats,” Alice traces a large halo around her head with her hands to show her friends the size of the hat. They both nod, too completely wrapped up in the story to say anything. “It had some daisies on the band and covered some of her face as she bent over the map. The man told me that they were making their way back from their honeymoon and his wife wanted to see the view of the river from the overlook but he wasn’t sure which overlook was best. I thought it very sweet so I told him that he should try going down about two miles on the trail on the left if he didn’t mind a little walk. He thanked me, called over his wife and they both turned in the direction I pointed out to him. As she passed, his wife gave me a shy smile. She was very pretty and looked so petite. Although next to her husband, most people would. I watched them go down the trail a ways before I left to go my own way.”
Alice took another sip and amusement quietly bubbled through her when she noticed neither Jane nor Kitty had even touched their own wine. She really was enjoying this.
“It was nice outside so I hiked a little farther than I usually do,” Both Kitty and Jane know that means she tacked on an extra three miles to her trail. “And when I walked back to my car I noticed the newlyweds going to their car as well. I asked them how they enjoyed the view and the husband was very enthusiastic in his praise. The wife said she enjoyed it as well but was briefer than her husband. She looked very happy and I felt satisfied that I had picked the right view from them. They waved goodbye and drove out of the lot.”
“I was just about to leave myself when I saw a hiker that I’ve met in passing a couple of time waving her arms to get my attention. I got out and asked her what was wrong. She held out the straw hat to me I saw on the wife earlier, it was crushed and a little dirty but I recognized the daisies. The hiker was worried that someone might be hurt. I asked her if she found it by the overlook the couple was at earlier and when she said yes I told that I saw it on a woman that had just left with her husband. The ranger looked satisfied with my answer but said she was going to make sure the rangers checked the trails, just in case.”
“Then I left.” Alice’s pause after this announcement wasn’t as silent as the others.
“Ya just up an’ left?!” Kitty’s incredulity made her accent thicker than usual. Alice shrugged and hastily chewed then swallowed the strawberry she had just grabbed off the snack tray.
“Why wouldn’t I?” Alice asks her. Kitty opens her mouth to give a reason but snaps it shut when she realizes that there really wasn’t one, just that she knows something hinky must’ve happened or else Alice wouldn’t be telling this story.
“So what happened?” Jane cuts in.
“Almost a week later,” Alice continues as she twirls the glass around in slow circles. “The police came and asked me some questions about the couple and the trails at Garner Park. I told them what I just told you. They showed me a couple of pictures. I picked out the husband and the wife pretty easily. When I asked what was going on, they told me it was an on-going investigation and couldn’t tell me about it. He was really rather short with me and after I answered his questions he just left. If ever there was a ruder or more abrupt man I never met him. I didn’t care for him at all.”
“How’d ya find out what was goin’ on?” Kitty asks impatiently. She’s always been the kind to skip to the end of the book if she felt the story was dragging on and today is no different.
“Don’t get your panties in a twist, Kitty. Let her finish.” Jane admonishes her friend with a teasing smile.
“I was reading the news the other day before work. The couple had gone up to overlook and the husband hit her over the head with a rock then pushed her off into the river below. They believe he thought the river would wash away any evidence but there was a drought and the current wasn’t strong enough.”
“Wait! If the wife was killed at the overlook how did you see her in the parking lot driving away?” Kitty interrupts. Jane chucks a strawberry in her direction and glares Kitty into unrepentant silence.
“I was getting to that. The wife had made a lot of money of her own with some internet business but the man was actually in love with her twin. The twin and the husband decided that they would kill the wife then she would take over the wife’s identity. He thought he could eat his cake and have it too. But he didn’t plan on the drought and his wife’s body was found quickly.”
“How awful,” Jane murmurs and her friends nod in agreement. Jane and Kitty take their first swallows of wine as Alice takes her last.
“An’ ya talked to a pair of murderers,” Kitty shudders.
There’s a moment of a slightly oppressive silence before Alice perks up and asks, “So who’s next?”