Murder in Mayberry Revisited: All Hidden Things
Click on image to enlarge.
by I.M. Tillerman
Description: In this sequel to Murder in Mayberry: A Pleasing Shape, Deputy Jason, still in the middle of a trial separation from his wife, finds himself in the middle of a heinous crime. This time, however, a double murder plunges him and Sheriff Taylor into investigation replete with red herrings and other surprises.
eBook Publisher: SynergEbooks, 2011 SynergEbooks
eBookwise Release Date: September 2012
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [524 KB]
Reading time: 319-446 min.
New Kid in Town
I wondered just how in the hell I was going to tell Helen Crump that she had been viciously murdered a week earlier, lying spread-eagle across the bed in my room at the Mayberry Hotel, her throat slit from ear to ear, the blood collecting in twin pools on the chenille bedspread. This was no ghost staring politely at me, sitting at one of the side chairs of the Mayberry Courthouse, her two suitcases next to her. This was no spirit of Hamlet's royal father, prowling the parapets of the castle Elsinore, seeking retribution for his own ghastly murder at his brother's hand. This was the real Helen Crump, not the bogus schoolmarm who had gone by the name of Helen Jackson and who had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Still, the townspeople, provincial as they were, would never understand. "How can there be two Helens?" Floyd would quiz his patrons, one at a time, as they came to the "Best Clip Joint in Town" to have their ears lowered for one dollar -- plus tip. "How do we explain this to the good citizens of Mayberry?" their fat, little Mayor Pike would ask, dumbfounded and agitated, at the emergency meeting of the Town Council. But most of all, how in God's name would the High Sheriff himself, Andy Taylor, react to a second, dead ringer doppelganger of the lady whom he had loved so dearly and who had died so abruptly? I liked Andy Taylor; I liked him about as much as I've ever liked anyone in my seventy years.
"Deputy?" I heard vaguely in the background, as if my mother were waking me in the morning sixty years early, saying, "Little man... Little Man... Time to get up."
"Huh?" I muttered.
"Are you okay?"
"Oh, sorry, Miss Crump. I was somewhere else there for a minute. One of the drawbacks of being old is the tendency to drift into the nostalgic past. Now, what was it you asked me again? And you can simply call me DJ if you like?'
"Deputy Jason. I'm just an old, retired fart, working as a glorified secretary, answering the phone and generally relieving the Sheriff of the tedious, time consuming stuff...and all for minimum wage, the glorious sum of one dollar and fifteen cents per hour. Times forty hours. How much is that a week, Miss Crump? As a school teacher, your basic math should be pretty fresh."
I was chattering like a magpie in part as a self-effacing attempt to win her confidence, given the bizarre narrative of the recent past that I would have to unfold to her without much delay, but also as a strategy to give myself time to figure out just how in blazes I was going to manage that very thing.
"I believe," she began, puzzled look on her face, but cordial tone in her voice, "that the total weekly wage would be forty-six dollars, Deputy Tillerman."
"Forty-six dollars, DJ."
"Forty-six bucks, huh? Well, as Amanda Wingfield said about the measly salary of Jim O'Connor, the gentleman caller, 'not a princely sum'."
Allowing herself to be pleasantly sidetracked as well, Miss Helen perked up and responded, "Are you a devotee of The Glass Menagerie, Mr. Tillerman... I mean, DJ?"
"I am indeed, madam... dyed-in-the-wool devotee of the entire Tennessee Williams canon, although I must confess that The Glass Menagerie is my personal favorite, with Streetcar coming up fast on the outside as they come into the stretch."
I was about to inform her that I had met the playwright himself in the early '70's when I was studying for my Master's Degree at Purdue University, but since the year in which I presently found myself was 1961, such an anachronism would have been problematic at best. ("You suffer from diarrhea of the mouth and constipation of the brain, Boy!" "Yes, sir.")