Oh yes, I so hated today.
I mean I woke up on a good morning, did my usual morning routine and then I walked out to my backyard, only to find an unknown who chose my yard, of all places, to die in. And now I was being hounded by a neighbour who was the mother of all snitches.
I hated today and if the universe didn’t start turning things to work in my favour, we might have another dead body in hand—one that I killed this time.
“Trace, you gave us a bit of a jolt there.” My teeth rattled as I smiled through them. “What are you doing out so late?” It was eleven p.m. and some for heaven’s sake!
“Enjoying the cool night air.” Tracy came down her veranda and towards us. “So your friends are still here? That’s odd. Were you all having a party?”
“A private party, yes.” Meddler!
“Really?” Her voice said she didn’t believe me. “How nice. And who is the man?”
“What man? Oh, you mean my friend John?” I laughed, relished the thought of bashing her head in. “Anyway, how was your lunch with Alex? It was Alex, wasn’t it?” I strained my mouth into a sweet smile.
“Yes, it was Alex, and our lunch date went fine.” Tracy pinned her eyes on John Doe. It was a shadowy but her eyes seemed to be searching. “Your friend… John… doesn’t look too well. What’s his problem?”
“He has a problem?” My smile went over-sweet—I think.
“Looks like he does, since you and your Mighty Igor friend are holding on to him.”
“Mind your mouth, lady.” Leye hissed.
It was a sound that could have shut up anyone, but not Tracy. She only inched closer, ignored Berlin’s attempt to grasp her and narrowed her eyes even more in study of John Doe.
“Why does he have his eyes closed?” Her tone was heavy with suspicion.
“Don’t know how you sleep, Trace, but most of us do it with our eyes closed.” I didn’t know how I managed to sound amused and totally offhand at the same time. “Never seen a drunk zoned-out man before?”
“Ah, so he’s drunk.” Tracy sniffed—actually sniffed the air. For the smell of alcohol, no doubt. “He doesn’t look drunk to me.”
“And you’d have much experience with that.” I purposely sneered, knowing it’d put her back up since she’d been married, briefly, to a fellow who had a more intimate relationship with his bottles than with her. “But John is drunk, passed out and we need to get him home.”
“I don’t have much experience with drunks.” Her eyes were now on me—glaring. “But if he is indeed drunk, then you ought to be allowing him sleep it out, not taking him home where he can be a danger even to himself.”
“Thanks for the unsolicited advice.” Leye was still annoyed enough at being called Mighty Igor to snarl at her. “But we are taking him home and you are wasting our time.”
“How come I didn’t hear any music?”
“What?” I stopped my twisting around and looked at Tracy.
“You said you were having a party… but I didn’t hear any music?”
“It was a music-less party.” Petey said. “Tec wanted it quiet.”
“A music-less quiet party of five.” Tracy looked at us all—one after another. She stopped at John Doe and her eyes stayed there. “And only one person is drunk. How come?”
“Next time he comes over, I’ll let you ask him.” I angled my body with the weight of John Doe heavy on one shoulder. “Petey, come hold him. I need to get inside to help him in.”
“He must be a deep sleeper. He hasn’t made a single sound.” Tracy wasn’t backing off.
“People who are stoned usually are. I think you should know that, Trace.” I shoved John Doe against Petey and shot him a baleful stare to impede any protests. “You don’t have to stick around, Trace. You must be fagged out and in dire need of your bed.”
“Actually, I am not.” She folded her hands across her chest and stayed put.
“Really? I usually am tired after spending an afternoon with a man.” I pinned a sneering smile on her. “Alex the one-minute-man type or he wasn’t just interested in taking a shine with you?”
“Alex is not a one-minute-man!” Tracy denied and glared at Leye for his loud chuckle. “We didn’t have sex, and simply because Alex believes in waiting.”
“Waiting… for what?” I increased my sneer. “Matching orders from a Minister of God?”
“Waiting for when we get to know each other better!” Tracy’s eyes were smoking now and they were all on me. Good.
“Ah. That his excuse, huh?” I made sure my scoff was loud and distinct. “Guy make excuses about not wanting to rustle the sheets with me, I know he’s not interested. That’s been my experience.”
“It would.” Tracy sniffed—a self-righteous in-drawn breath. “But I don’t give myself cheaply to men like you do, so I understand a man like Alex. You better get your drunk friend home. He’s probably your new lover anyway.” And with another self-righteous sniff, she swept around and flounced back to her house.
“That was close.” I breathed, deep and relieved.
“She called you cheap, Tec. I think she meant to call you a hoe.”
“Shut up, Petey.” Like I needed an interpretation of Tracy’s insult. “Just hold tight on to John Doe and prepare to steer him in after me.”
“You keep calling him John, I don’t think that’s his name at all, Tec.”
“It is now.” I slid into the backseat, braced my body and then reached forward. “ You two steer him in. But watch for his head. No need to bang him up just because he’s dead.”
“I…ah, okay.” Petey swallowed what I knew was nausea and grunted as he and Leye hauled the body the final inches to the car.
Between us three, we managed to get John Doe into the car and on the middle seat.
“Now get in, Petey.” I ordered. “You and I will sit with him whilst Leye drives and Berlin takes the front passenger seat.”
“Can’t sit with him, Tec. He’s dead and he’s freaking me out.” Petey shook his head.
I gnashed my teeth. Literally had to. “You get in here, you gutless wimp! Or I swear, I’ll bash your head so hard, you’d be like him in a mini second.”
“Threats won’t work, Tec.” Petey stood adamantly by the door. “I can’t sit near him. He’s dead and that makes me queasy.”
“Then pretend he’s not dead!” I snarled.
“I can’t pretend he’s not dead. Not when he’d indeed dead.”
“For God’s sake, man, get into the car and stop acting like a wimp in the presence of women!” Leye growled. “We have to get this fella out of here before anyone else gets the idea of enjoying the night air and catches us with him.”
“You get in here now, Peton. Or I’m calling your mother and telling her you actually failed your final exams and are not having your results delayed.” I threatened.
Petey paled. “You won’t do that.”
“I so will.” Petey feared his mother more than anyone feared hell. “I will, right now, if you don’t get inside the car.”
“Now.” I snarled.
“Jesus! I am between the devil and the deep red sea.” Petey whined. But he got into the car. “This is bound to give me nightmares the rest of my life. I’m never going to get over it.”
“Just shut up, Petey!” Satisfied that our plan is back in motion, I settled back and tried to think. “Tracy seeing us is not good. Not sure if she got a good look at John Doe here, but if he ever makes it into the news with pictures, we’re at risk of her recalling she saw him with us.”
“You’ve got a point there.” Leye manoeuvred the car out into the street. “What do you suggest we do then about her?”
I stared into the dark night through my window. “Nothing. Just hope that he’s one of those nobodies no one cares to create a hassle over.”
“What if he’s a millionaire’s son, or the son of a very prominent family?” Berlin’s voice was almost expressionless. Except that you could hear the tinge of fear. “What if a hassle—a huge hassle—is created over him? What will we do if his pictures starts going around everywhere and Tracy recognises him?”
“Then we’d have to kill Tracy.”
Petey, and Berlin I think, gasped.
I chuckled. “Just kidding.” I wasn’t entirely sure if I was though. “Don’t think it will come to that—to the hassle of pictures everywhere that is. Nothing about him spells millionaire or from prominent family. He’d likely have been in the crème de la crème part of town if he was from that sort of family not in our ghetto neighbourhood.”
“Maybe he came to see someone here and… and they killed him and dumped his body on your backyard. I mean, we never questioned how he really got there in the first place.”
Berlin was beginning to sound too reasonable and I wasn’t sure I liked the way her mind was working. “I don’t care if he was dumped or of he strolled in himself and fell felt on his face. We are getting rid of him and that is all I care about.”
“You might want to care that that beam of light way ahead is the torchlight of a Police Officer.” Leye muttered, slowing down the car. “Petey’s fear’s come to pass. We’ve run into the Police.”
My heart sank. Literally sank to the pit of my stomach.