For two days, Myrtle answered phones, made coffee and handled the daily tasks needed to run a small office. She also kept her ears open for any news about Pop’s murder. The police refused to release any new information and the residents of Pageland were getting antsy. Was their neighbor a killer? Crazy theories were being thrown around and town gossip was at an all-time high.
Wednesday evening, Myrtle came home to find Vera sitting on her front porch steps.
“Have you seen the news?”
“Why, hello to you too, Vera. Nice to see you. And don’t you look nice?” Myrtle replied with a roll of her eyes.
“Blah, blah, blah. We know each other too well for that. Although, I do look nice, don’t I? This is a new lipstick from Merle Norman. It’s Age Defying Hussy.” Vera decided to strike a pose like Marilyn Monroe and the old friends were holding onto each other laughing when they noticed Mrs. Barry driving by and staring straight at them. Myrtle waved heartily and kept laughing. As Vera started to send an age-old hand gesture to signify her feelings, Myrtle grabbed her arm and insisted that they go inside before they got into trouble.
“Now what were you saying about the news you old hussy?” Myrtle asked with a wink.
“The chief gave an interview to that new young reporter at the Pageland Progressive Journal. He didn’t give her a whole lot but it’s more than anyone else has gotten out of him. Let’s go online so you can read it.”
Myrtle went to the kitchen table, which doubled as her craft station and desk. Opening the MacBook Vivian and Steve bought for her Christmas last year, she entered her password. The kids setup a Facebook account for her so that she could see pictures of her Grandkids and maybe even reconnect with some people from high school. So far, the computer was used for crosswords and the daily news.
The website for the local paper was saved as a favorite so Myrtle went directly to the page. “Restaurant Owner Murdered. Police Suspect Foul Play.”
“Really, they suspect foul play? You just said he was murdered. I think this reporter might need to retake English 101. Or, just invest in a dictionary.” Myrtle had little patience when seemingly smart people couldn’t string two sentences together. Her family was unable to afford college even though her grades were excellent. She and Bradford made sure that all of their kids had the chance to finish school because she secretly regretted that she’d never been able to attend.
“Put away your Grammar Police badge and just read the dang article, Myrt.”
“Fine. But when we communicate only through grunts within the next 100 years, it will be too late.” Myrtle turned back to the computer and started to read.
Restaurant Owner Murdered. Police Suspect Foul Play.
By: Meghan Kilpatrick
Sunday night, Paul “Big Pop” Jordan was found dead in his 1957 Cadillac Coupe deVille. Police were called to the scene by two young men who found the car with Jordan inside. According to Chief White the boys were out driving on Philadelphia Church Road when they saw a car parked on the side of the road. They decided to investigate on their own and walked over to the driver’s window. After knocking with no response from the person they could see in the car, they opened the door. Both became ill when they realized that the driver had been shot. One of them recognized Big Pop’s car and called 911. Chief White confirmed that the young men are not suspects in the killing.
Chief White is well aware that the town is nervous that there is a killer in their midst. He assured me that they are taking all precautions and there appears to be no danger to the public. “While I can’t promise anything, I will say that this looks like an isolated incident. We have no reason to believe that other citizens of Pageland are in danger.”
When asked for details, the chief of police was unwilling to give this reporter much information. “Miss Kilpatrick, as you know, murder is not an everyday occurrence in Pageland. My team and I are going to do whatever is necessary to find the person who committed this terrible act. We would like to ask that anyone with information call or come by the station. Even if you think it isn’t important, it might be. My officers have also informed local businesses to be on the lookout for unusual cash transactions. We can confirm that Big Pop appeared to have been robbed of all cash and valuables.”
Many long time customers of Big Pop’s Place will remember that he was known to carry large amounts of cash. From the Cadillac, to the cash and his over-the-top wardrobe, Big Pop seemed to revel in the larger than life persona he created. Married three times with two children from his first marriage, his one true love seemed to be his restaurant.
Founded in 1980 with one stove and an outdoor smoker, Big Pop’s Place became a town institution. Serving BBQ, brisket, cole slaw and more, he grew the restaurant into a 2000-square-foot meeting place for locals and visitors. Big Pop’s is most famous for his secret BBQ sauce. Pop himself created each batch and guarded the recipe. When asked, he would always laugh and say that the secret ingredient was the tears of his ex-wives. The restaurant has not yet reopened and we don’t know if there will be any more of Big Pop’s BBQ Sauce. We can only hope he shared it with someone.
“Tears of his ex-wives. That definitely sounds like Pop.” Myrtle couldn’t help but smile as she thought of him stirring the pot – pun intended.
“Well at least now we know he was killed for the money. I never understood why that knucklehead carried around wads of cash. Just showing off if you ask me.”
Myrtle didn’t agree with Vera about Pop showing off. But she didn’t want to argue. “Maybe it is as simple as a robbery. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still awful but at least that would explain things. I don’t know, though, something isn’t sitting right with me. You know I’ve watched too many crime shows to believe the easy answer.”
“That’s true. After all the CSI, NCIS and Longmire we’ve seen, we should investigate this ourselves. I’ve always said you and I could solve most mysteries with your brains and my sneakiness. “ Vera snickered and looked over expecting a laugh from Myrtle.
Instead Myrtle said, “You’re right. We should look into this. We knew Pop for over 55 years and he deserves a little justice. Even if he was a knucklehead.”
“Ummm, you’re crazy, lady. I was joking.”
“Vera Carnes, are you telling me that you won’t help me? Do I need to remind you of the time I sat in the car all through the night with you? What were we doing? Oh, yes. We were watching your husband through binoculars. You thought he was cheating on you so when he said he had to work late you convinced me to follow and then spy on him.”
“I was right, wasn’t I? He was a cheating bastard.”
“That’s beside the point. Number one, you asked and I did it. Number two, and you know this, we make a good team. Say you are in.” Myrtle stared hard at her friend, knowing that she was wearing her down. “Say it.”
“I’m in. God help me. I’m in.”
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