“Hey, Gregson! You’ll need to debrief with the police,” the ski patrol said.
“I know the drill. It’s uncomfortable and smells like I’m being put to sleep.”
“There’s a detective from Maple Valley on the slopes. He said that he would do it.”
“Okay. I’ll meet him at the lodge. Somebody will have to tape-off the crime scene.”
When Gregson walked inside, he saw Detective Talbert hunched across the espresso bar.
“Can’t stay away from crime, I see,” said Detective Talbert. He was looking at Gregson’s red and white snowsuit. “Whoever was murdered up there had a lot of guts.”
“How long is this going to take?” Gregson asked.
“Just long enough for you to incriminate yourself. Now, why were you skiing on the slopes? You are obviously too fat to be up here.”
“People in glass houses…” Gregson said.
“You have me there. I have put on some weight since the murders in Maple Valley, but that’s beside the point. What was your purpose of skiing on Abominable Mountain?”
“I wanted to commit abominable acts with women.”
“I see… a deviant… I thought so. You have remained unmarried for far too long. If a man is left to himself, he becomes strange. Slowly, he walks away from society until he can never get back. Take me, for instance. My wife rescued me, and gave me a purpose. I make more money as a married man, and on the weekends, I trim the lawn.”
“I thought you weren’t a deviant. Whose lawn do you trim?”
“I’m going to pretend that I don’t understand you. Now, how did you come across the body?”
“I was following a sexy woman, and who I think might be the murderer.”
“And, who is that?”
“I’m going to stop you now. Perhaps, it is best that you remain retired, and you retire little Gregson before you squeeze into a crevice that you can’t pull-out of.”
“Listen, pal. All the retired people I know are dead. And the ones who want to retire, are dead. They think they won’t be when they get there, but they have been suffocating themselves for years, and they never pull-out and they never get in—it’s permanently shriveled.”
“Enough euphemisms. Who is the girl’s boyfriend?”
“He’s the pastor of a church in Maple Valley, and his last secretary was murdered on the road.”
“Hit and run?”
“We’ll, I think I’ve gotten enough information from you now. Don’t leave town.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Gregson said.
When Gregson left the lodge, Liz and Pastor Steve were retiring to their White 4Runner. What was it about a woman who showed limited interest, and always went with the bad-boy?
Women seemed to be perpetually drawn to serial killers and rockstars—Steve was probably both. Rather than chasing Liz, perhaps he should date someone less interesting, but the thought bored Gregson. No—beautiful women were always surrounded by action.
“Hey, Gregson! You want to race down the mountain. 1000 bucks says that I get to her bottom before you.”
It wasn’t fair. Gregson’s BMW Z3 had slick tires that gripped the road, and Steve’s 4X4 could climb a mountain when it wanted to be left alone—under the covers of its snowy mistress.
“See you at the bottom,” Steve laughed. Liz was giggling.
Gregson got into his gold sportscar—it could’ve been a coffin. Something about women, made him desperate. All their beauty was a mirage. It didn’t mean anything. It was like their legs promised so much, but the goal was always the same. Getting to the end, and staying there, required love, and no man ever knew when love would grab him. They grabbed at flesh, at hope, hoped for love, just to forget their problems for a moment.
It was death-anxiety that drove Gregson. How could someone not be anxious? Most, go to a job for eight hours, that doesn’t mean anything. There is a struggle for recognition that doesn’t last longer than the employee of the month. Gregson long ago took comfort in the fact that when life got so bad, it was just about to get really good. Knowing… how temporary it is—was the music to dance by—the freedom, to be anyone, at any moment.
Gregson didn’t tap the breaks. He took the corners, like they belonged to him. The mountain smiled. Steve’s psychopathic pride was no match for Gregson’s dance. At the bottom, he waited, but Steve kept driving. If you win in life, it’s rarely recognized— less often celebrated. Gregson celebrated himself. Most people don’t know how. They are waiting for a party that never comes.