Authors: Nancy Hogue
Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery, #Retail
With His Dying Breath
A JJ Matthews Murder Mystery
With His Dying Breath
Published by Nancy Kiser Hogue
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews. All trademarks, service marks, registered
trademarks and registered service marks are the property of their respective owners and are used herein for identification purposes only.
15 2:25 p.m.
handsome police officer fastened the heavy metal handcuffs over her soft hands taking care not to smudge her red, manicured fingernails. One cuff even slid off at first since he didn’t want it too tight on her thin wrists. She smiled when he refastened it. He didn’t think it necessary to constrain her so severely. After all, she was a friend. He and his wife had partied in their home. His wife sent flowers to them on their first anniversary. He wished he had not been on duty, and she realized his unrest.
Don’t worry, Dan. Let’s just get it over with,” she said, as he escorted her toward the squad car under a canopy of pink cherry blossoms.
The local news hounds were already on the scene snapping photos. Any chance to get on the morning talk shows
—even just hearing your name attached to a photo was worth someone else’s embarrassment. Maybe real paparazzi journalists—well, that’s probably an oxymoron—but camera goons and their publishers who don’t care about the tragedy of others would hanker to buy that special shot paying top dollar eventually to appear in every rag sheet on the East coast. The Atlanta newspapers probably stopped the presses to squeeze the headline happening right now in River Town, Georgia, just sixty miles down the road. But for sure, the lead story in every morning paper in Georgia would read REAL ESTATE TYCOON MURDERED — WIFE ARRESTED or something to that effect.
The story, at least her side of it,
would be the topic of conversation in every beauty shop, grocery store checkout line, and locker room for miles around. Not that she wanted it—her traumatic life demanded it.
She could have been on any designer’s catwalk in the world
with her hips sashaying in new black Capri pants, a scarlet red tee top, and the black silk double-breasted jacket. She slung her long, silky red hair across her shoulders as she walked toward the squad car. She loved red as shown on her clothes and her nails but not on her face. She even smiled at a neighbor who stared in disbelief offering an encouragement—
please don’t worry, I’ll be alright.
No, she was not embarrassed even though she wore handcuffs for the world to see.
It was not the first time she had played this scene nor would it be the last, more than likely. Her deep blue eyes held
a secret no one knew. Well, maybe someone knew. Nevertheless, there were other things to be concerned about. For now, as the handsome police officer, her friend, placed his hand on her head to ease her into the backseat of the police car, her mind reverted to the mind of a twelve-year old child wondering— who will feed my cats?”
As the police car pulled away
from this beautiful, colonial house wrapped in yellow crime tape, she looked back. She saw her dead husband’s black Prius in the circular driveway. She saw policemen restraining neighbors from the property. She saw newspaper reporters interviewing anyone who would talk, and everybody was talking as television cameras recorded every word. She saw her dead husband on the threshold of their home with blood splattered everywhere. She had never seen that much blood, but then, she had never looked back before!
* * *
JJ Matthews looked at her watch for the third time in fifteen minutes. Would this class ever be over? The history of civilization did not interest her in the least and made no sense to study. It was boring and provided absolutely no pleasure. She found great pleasure from studying her history teacher, however. How could someone so sexy, be so boring, she wondered, as she sat back and enjoyed this eye candy completely blocking out whatever dynasty he kept going on about.
“Yes sir, Mr. Grumman,”
she answered, thinking he had called on her. But he had not, and her classmates snickered.
Mr. Grumman turned from the large wo
rld map. He smiled knowing he was the butt of one of the many jokes his students like to pull. JJ smiled, enjoying her own embarrassment to see those dimples on his tanned boyish face. He was oblivious to her feelings about him.
he first time she saw Mr. Grumman was the first day of school back in August. She backed into him at the water fountain. She turned to apologize and saw a tall, athletic, sandy haired, good-looking hunk standing there. Their eyes locked in an instant attraction.
,” he said, sheepishly, looking around to make sure she was talking to him.
Ooh, look at you in a coat and tie. Who are you trying to impress?” With thick, brown wavy hair, beautiful white teeth, a somewhat crooked smile that equaled the beam from his sparkling dark brown eyes and, of course, those dimples. Yes, he was a complete package in JJ’s eyes!
Impress? Oh, nobody,” he assumed she was talking to him since no one else was. “Dr. Early said a tie is mandatory dress for teachers!”
s? You’re a teacher! What subject?” Her expression turned sour knowing the fraternization policy would make him off limits to her but even better, every other female student on campus.
semester, a math teacher received his walking papers when a school official noticed him and a female senior at a Savannah motel restaurant. Both claimed they just happened to run into each other. The principal learned from the mother her daughter was supposed to be at a pre-orientation tour for upcoming freshmen at the University of Georgia. The school board offered the teacher a chance to resign, and the female student graduated with no fanfare meaning no lawsuit was filed by the parents.
Still, it was a gigantic scandal.
JJ’s dad covered the story for the
. The school board had no recourse but to mandate their administrative staff personnel and faculty would abide by the policy, and anyone guilty of even a perception of violation would receive an immediate dismissal with questions asked later. Whew! Even Facebook and other social networking sites between students and faculty were forbidden. Everyone had to read and sign their names that they had read and understood the policy.
“World History, Civilization mostly. Anyway
, that’s my assignment here.”
history, just became my favorite subject. You don’t look old enough to teach.” Thinking how stupid that sounded, she said, “I mean you’re already out of college?” JJ thought if she put her foot in her mouth one more time, she’d need to sprinkle salt on it! “Okay, I’m dropping out of school. See you around!”
dashed to the guidance counselor’s office to request his class. Her newfound crush quickly faded when Mr. Grumman proved to be a very hard teacher assigning pages, chapters, and volumes of reading with essay questions every night. She hated it. The civilization of world society would never be her choice of reading material on a Tuesday night, Sunday night or any day or night for that matter. She anguished through his class unable to deny the attraction to him even though he never noticed her other than as one of his students.
The bell rang
finally. Freedom. She flashed Mr. Grumman a flirtatious grin, as did several of the other girls in her class.
Wanda, especially, hated the way JJ flirted with Mr. Grumman. She thought it was not decent and tested the school policy. She hated the way JJ flirted with most all the boys.
Oblivious to Wanda’s smirks, JJ gathered up her books and hurried out to the parking lot, praying her car would start since sometimes Lucy was mischievous and acted up. She needed this job. It paid all of her expenses—cell, downloads for her IPOD and gas so she and Sara could bum around town. But, also, she had extra to tuck away for her special dream. Just as she approached her car, her cell rang out Ramblin’ Man by the Allman Brothers band. “Hi Daddy.”
“Hi baby, you outta class?”
“Yes sir, I’m working till seven. Is that okay?”
“Of course, hon, Got a big story to cover so I may not be home til
l late. You gonna be okay?”
“Daddy, hold on an
d make sure my car starts, okay?” She unlocked the car door and threw her books on the back seat. The familiar tapping sound of the VW entered the phone, and he smiled. “Okay, Daddy, try to eat something and not too much fat, okay?
She smiled, “W
hen I get home, I’ll make that chicken salad you like so you’ll have something to eat just in case you don’t have time. If I’m asleep, make sure you let me know you’re home, okay.” Her dad knew he should be saying this to her.
kay, Jessica Jane.” He always called her given name when she reversed the parent-child roles. “Be careful driving to work, and we’ll talk later. Love you.”
dy, love you, too! Dad, what’s your big stor…?” But the connection was lost. She pulled out of the parking lot heading for the Exquisite You Beauty Salon.
man watched her from the classroom window as the yellow VW bug pulled out of the school parking lot into the heavy afternoon traffic. He watched this tall, exuberant strawberry blond until she was out of sight. Her smile still lingered in his thoughts.
Wanda scowled as she watched Mr.
Grumman watching JJ.
* * *
watched the TV news alert as he exercised his legs on the treadmill.
ust a few hours earlier, Samantha Brockton lay perfectly still as his hands massaged her neck and shoulders working down her spine, caressing and kneading each stressed nerve and unbalanced muscle. Jess asked the trainer to turn up the volume so he could hear the dreadful recording by the neighbor who had notified the police.
“9-1-1, what’s your emergency?”
“There’s a dead gentleman, a Mr. Brockton, I believe, lying in his doorway.
“How do you know he’s dead?”
“There is blood, lots of blood, splattered everywhere. He is gravely dead. There is a massive amount of blood. He most certainly has to be dead.”
Okay, take a deep breath, sir, and let me ask you some questions.’
Yes, well, surely, madam, of course, yes. I have my dog, and he is very excited. We are both excited, but definitely not in a positive way. This does not bode well for Mrs. Brockton.”
Mrs. Brockton? Is she there?”
“The body is blocking the door partially open. The way his legs are twisted has the entry door blocked. But no, I do not see anybody at this moment. I thought I saw movement through the window when I first popped on the scene. There is a car in the circular driveway. I am unable to see into the garage because of a solid door. I do not know if she is home. Perhaps, she has been attacked as well!”
“What’s the address, sir?”
is, oh my, it is, one moment please. It is Sleepy Meadows Court, I am not sure of the number 4855 or 57 maybe 59. The house numbers are partially hidden.”
“The police have been dispatched.
Are you at the house now?
“Yes madam. I am looking at this dead man as I speak to you.
I did not feel a pulse. I was unable to roll him over but I did not feel a pulse.”
You felt a pulse?” the operator asked.
did not, madam. One moment.”
“Sir, sir. H
I could give CPR if he is not dead. But he should be dead. Shall I move the body?” The recording continued with a live close-up of this fidgety neighbor speaking with a policeman.
sir, don’t move the body. What is his position?”
He is face down, one moment please, madam.” A dog barked in the background. Emergency madam, hold on one moment, please.”
“Sir, sir, don’t touch the body. Sir.”
“No, whew, no, I, oh my, I do not feel anything. He is still, uh, warm, he is still very warm. I am so, uh, sorry. It is most, uh, distressing. Oh my.”
Sir, you’re doing fine. Now I need you to move away from the body, sir, very carefully. I also need you to wait there until the police arrive. Are you able to do that?”
“Yes madam, I am walking my dog. I walk
him every day just at this very time. I usually arrive home from my volunteer service around one o’clock. After we have a nibble, I walk Shiloh around the neighborhood.”
“Sir, the police should be there in less than two minutes. I’ll stay on the line with you. Are you on a cell phone?”
“Yes, madam.” She could hear his beleaguered breathing and the dog barking.
“May I get your name and address?”
My name? My name is Jonas Attaway. My, uh, address, is…my address is 2555 Sweet Gum Lane. I just passed by here not more than ten minutes ago, and I am positive this body was not here, not like this. Surely, I would have noticed a dead body and the blood. After all, I saw it on my return home.”
Mr. Attaway, please remain calm. Thank you for waiting. The police officers should be arriving in just a moment.”