The Mayonnaise Murders, Chapter 1, Scene 3

TMM1 Single Cover

 

“All right, Vee. Tell me about the last time you saw this mayonnaise.”

We were sitting across from one another in a little late night cafe not more than a mile away from where the entire ruckus had gone down. Wasn’t but a few other critters inside, and they were sitting at the counter watching the ritual screen. Vee and me were the only ones sitting in a booth. Vee had already filed her story over an hour ago, so she was through for the night unless she got called out on another run.

“You sure you wanna hear about this, hey? Vid, I’m tellin you, it’s kinda creepy.”

The keystones had left and gone on about their business, and I already knew that meant they weren’t planning on filing any report at all since they didn’t have anything to show for it. The last thing they wanted to do was to tell the top dogs a body got snatched away from `em inside some cloud that was smellin’ like stale mayonnaise. Besides, I already knew they suspected me. Those jerkboxes were always suspectin’ me whenever anything went twisted on `em.

Anyway, when I asked Vee how she could get a story out about what happened without any confirmation from the squad, she said she didn’t need them for confirmation because she’d seen it firsthand. Besides, I’d been there too. Good point. Still, there was one thing I had to know.

“You smell what I smelled inside that cloud, Vee?”

She looked out the window at the street, then took a sip of crocka. Personally, I’d always preferred the real stuff, coffee, but the Purchasing Council took it off the market about a year ago and replaced it with this synthetic crap. Said coffee cost too much to import from the Earth clowns, plus those coffee bean plants  couldn’t survive in this artificial atmosphere.

Vee nodded.

“Yeah. I did.”

“Um-hm.”

She took another sip.

“So you thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’?”

“Yeah. I am.”

I propped my elbows up on the table and leaned forward, tryin to give Vee a sense of how important this was. She knew I always leaned forward when I was dealing with something big.

“So then you gotta tell me,” I said. “And start at the beginning. Don’t leave nothing out, hear?”

For a full minute she doesn’t say a thing. Can hardly hear her breathin’. Only noise is the ritual screen and whatever scattered noise is comin in from the street. But I know better than to push her. She’ll talk when she’s good and…

“You gotta promise me,” she says.

“Promise…?”

“This doesn’t go any further. Past you and me. It could really mess me up with my job and stuff.”

“OK, yeah. Sure, cakes. Sure thing. I mean, what? You gonna tell me you were takin’ contract hits out on clean sector residents? Cripes, how bad can it be?”

Vee ain’t sayin’ nothin’. Just steady lookin’ in my eyes. Then it starts to hit me.

“Aw geez. Vee…That’s it, ain’t it? You used to…awwww geez…”

“That’s just part of it. Look, Vid, you knew I wasn’t always a page scratcher. You can’t tell me you didn’t figure that out the first time we met two years ago on that case, the one about the guy tryin’ to grow an illegal peach tree in his closet. Almost knocked the atmosphere off balance, remember? You’re too smart to let stuff like that go by you, Vid. You’ve always been too smart.”

“Yeah, but Vee, I mean, this…Ain’t no way I woulda never suspected…”

“You got somewhere to go tonight, Vid?”

I looked at my watch. Shook my head.

“What time this place close, hey?”

“Couple hours. Why?”

“Because I’m gonna tell you a story, and I want you to still be my friend when I’m through. About the way things used to be with me before I went legit. See, all right…Vid, I used to deal mayonnaise. Yeah. Me. Ain’t that the livin’ end? Little Miss prize-winning page scratcher from The V-5 Headline Screamer was a skid. For seven years. I know I told you I’d only seen mayonnaise once, but I lied. What I’m telling you now is the truth, I swear it. I’m probably part of the reason why the stuff is so illegal now.”

“Why, Vee?”

“Why the mayonnaise?”

“Why now? Why you tellin’ me this now?”

“Because you’re gonna need to know what I know to find out what happened to Johnny Beardy’s body. And what’s gonna happen if we don’t find it.”

“If we don’t…what’re you sayin’, Vee?”

“Let me tell you a story.”

Like what you’ve read so far? Get the book to see how it all ends! Then get Part 2!

 

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kaoblues
Writer and musician.

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