“I like hats.”
That’s what Donald said the day before Sally was murdered..
It seemed like a totally random comment, unless you knew Donald, and indeed, unless you knew Sally. You see, she would never, ever, not in a million years, ever wear a hat. Don’t laugh, she often said she wouldn’t be seen dead in one. Which, unfortunately for her and her nearest and dearest, she was.
Artfully arranged on the kitchen floor of Mo’s Diner she was, looking so darned relaxed, even pretty, except for the pool of blackened blood that had turned sticky and gelatinous what with the heat blasting out from the grimy old range cooker and all. She’d been fixing up a Mexican chili when she had a slice taken right out of her. Shame. I’d have loved to dig in, but it was evidence, according to Officer Gonzalez. Yeah, right. Evidence of his expanding waste-line, the smear of tomato sauce at the side of his mouth and settling in the creases of his fat forefinger.
The hat, the offending accessory that Sally just couldn’t get past was one of those cloches, you know, like from the 1920s. It perfectly suited her short, graduated bob – the deep red of the felt set off the jet black sheen of her hair so darned well. Such a shame. She’d have owned that look, for sure.
Donald’s wife wore hats, but she didn’t suit them. And I knew that Donald was offended that his favourite women’s accessory made his wife look like a bulldog at a fancy dress party (my words, not his, but still, he was a sensitive and passionate man, so I reckon he’d have agreed with my assessment). I think that was the problem. Plus, Margaret had this habit of spitting. God alone knew why and how on earth they’d managed to get hitched and stay that way for so long.
Margaret’s brother Morgan on the other hand was elegance personified. And whilst I don’t think that Donald was that way inclined, I do remember his face softening in some kind of brotherly desire every time Morgan donned his fedora and tilted it to a jaunty angle. Such a dashing, beautiful man.
And I wanted him, so, so badly. Trouble was, Morgan wanted Sally, Sally wanted Donald, but he couldn’t get past the hat thing.
And Margaret knew that. And I owed her, big time. So, you know, the old switcheroo with the kitchen knives, it was easy enough to lay a trail straight back to Donald.
Margaret knew what Donald’s opinion was of her, she knew I’d swiped a few hundred from the tills, she knew I couldn’t bear to have Morgan find out I was nothing more than a common thief.
But you know what? Sticking a knife into Sally’s side felt kinda familiar. Like slicing brisket for her famous Mexican chili.
Officer Gonzalez really enjoyed that by the way. I wonder if it was the fine brisket, or the slice of Sally that set his tastebuds a-jangling?
Guess we’ll never know.