The Mayonnaise Murders, Chapter 1, Scene 2


The Mayonnaise Murders


Wasn’t but a minute or two after Vee recognized dead loverboy when the keystones showed up. Actually, they don’t like it when you call `em that. Hits too close to the truth. Their real title – every idiot with one bad tooth in his mouth on this planet has a title – is Planet 10 Industrial Safety and Peacekeeping Force – Vivacious 5 Sector. I feel about as safe around those spit-polish jerks as I do hangin’ over the edge of a cliff. They were the only agency I knew where, to be accepted? You had to pass a test provin’ you weren’t too damned smart  for the force. Imagine that. These fellas supposed to be protectin’ us, and the only recruits they want are the schmucks.

Anyway, these keystones, they all wear these regulation button-down lime green suits that you could just about spot in the dark. And they don’t have feet. Each and every keystone’s been surgically altered to have little wheels where the feet used to go. Now that’s what I call commitment to the job. Oh yeah, and they always travel in even numbers, usually four or more, and they never smile. I don’t mean it’s an accident or coincidence, either. I mean those jokers are trained never to smile. A buddy of mine sneaked me one of their training handbooks one time, and it was right there in Chapter 3; No Smiling. Go figure.

Just then, one of `em rolls up to me after circling the corpse a few times. He gives Vee the leering eye for a moment, I guess expecting her to disappear since she’s a female, but Vee just stared him down and stepped up closer. Gotta love a professional woman. A moment or two more passes, then he looks back at me.

“You find this?”

“The body?” I ask.

He just stares.

“You mean the body?” I ask again.

This time he nods real sharp, lettin’ me know I’m wastin’ his time. Good.

“Yeah. Me and Vee here, we found it. And before we tell you anything else, we want it put on record that we’re the ones found it. Not you jerkboxes.”

Vee nodded, smirking just a bit.

“You’re the one they call Vid,” he said.

“Yeah. I’m the one.”

“Then you’re the one they say is a troublemaker. Looks to me like you’re making trouble right now. Would that be a correct assumption?”

“Look, hardass, just because I…”


I mean, that’s just what it sounded like. Felt like it too. Right dead center in the middle of my chest, like somebody kicked me with the heel of a giant-sized work boot.


There it went again. Next thing, I’m lookin’ all around, tryin to figure where this WHOMP came from, but I can’t see nothin’ ‘cause of all the smoke. I hear Vee coughin’ through her gills with that sick hissing sound they always make when distressed. She’s coughin’ through her mouth too, and I’m stumblin’ around through the smoke wavin’ my hands around tryin’ to find her and wondering why it’s so hard. The crap smells like…damn. I’m not believin’ this. That just can’t be right.

“Vid!” I hear Vee callin from my left. Sounds like she’s all of a sudden real far away, which ain’t makin’ sense.

“Over here!” I yell.

That’s when I hear those runnin’ feet slappin’ against the pavement. Sounded like whoever – or whatever –  was doin’ the running wasn’t wearing any shoes. But whoever those flappin’ feet belonged to, I could tell they were movin’ pretty quick. First time I caught a hint of them comin’ it sounded like the flappin’ was comin from pretty far away, just like Vee’s voice. Then, just like that, I hear all these feet scurryin’ around close. I’m figuring this smoke, or whatever it is, somehow bends noise. Makes it so whatever’s comin at you can get to you before you know it’s even in the neighborhood. Pretty clever.

Thing is, I can’t see much of nothin’ except a shadow here and there. It’ll be there for a second, but then it’s swallowed up. Only talking I heard was them confused keystones yellin’ for whoever it was to cease and desist immediately. The way their voices were scattered, they would’ve had to been spread out a whole lot farther apart than I knew they were. They just kept rattling off all these legal codes that were supposed to make the flap foots freeze in their tracks. You’d think it was the first time these jerkboxes had ever dealt with the criminal mind.

Few seconds later – the whole event didn’t last no longer than a minute – the smoke and that stale smell vanished like somebody’d sucked it up with a vacuum. Vee sees me and rushes over. She gets right up to me, then, in high heels no less, she puts on the brakes and starts fumbling around with her notepad like she’s fixin’ to start an interview. Still, those wide eyes and huffing gills let me know just how worried she was. That’s my Vee. And just like I’d suspected, she wasn’t anywhere near as far away as she was sounding.

As for the keystones, it took a sec before they realized the smoke was gone and they stopped bumping into each other and shoutin’ legal code numbers. But once they realized they could see each other again, they were quick to brush off their uniforms and wheel themselves into their standard authoritative-looking box formation. That’s why I called `em jerkboxes. Playin’ it off like they’d been in control the whole time.

Anyway, me and Vee were standing on one side of the alley, the keystones on the other, and layin’ right there between us was…


Right there in the patch of alley where Johnny Beardy’d just been takin’ a rest with his face in a sandwich? Nothing but gravel and some debris.. Not only that, there weren’t even any footprints.

“Did you get a look?” the one keystone asks me.

I shook my head, still staring at the empty ground. He looked over at Vee, but she did the same thing. Instead of looking at the ground, though, she was busy typing a story into her notepad. She had herself a major scoop, and she knew it. The keystone made a disgusted face, like he’d just smelled some foul odor, then turned away. For a minute I wondered if he’d smelled the same thing I had, but then I figured against it. Keystones were good at formations, but their sense of smell wasn’t usually that hot. Something to do with results of the surgery made to their roller-feet. Whatever.

“Damned page scratcher,” he said.

Like I said, their sense of smell wasn’t all there.

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

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Writer and musician.

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