Gregson didn’t want to see people from his past. They reminded him, of what might’ve been. Now, they were dead, and he just wanted to leave, like a winter tree.
He packed his bags at the hotel. Murder always came close to him, but it never killed him.
“I heard what happened,” Megan said outside his door.
“Yeah—the alcohol didn’t work for Silas. When a man loses his career, he feels like a city has deserted him. He is in exile.”
“Where are you going?”
“I’m going into exile.”
“Where are you really going?”
“Back to my apartment to get drunk on 50-year-old Scotch.”
“Can I come?”
“I don’t see why not.”
They got on the airplane together. It felt strange, like they were strangers on a plane. Where was that from?
“Just think,” Gregson said. “You can write all of this down, and make serious money from the murders that happened at your high school reunion.”
“That’s a little too close to home,” Megan said. “It’s different when you knew the murderer.”
“Sure, it is—it’s more real.”
“What I mean is, the act of killing, is different than fantasy. It hurts too much to put the words into ink. I’m gonna freshen-up in the bathroom.” She left, and Gregson took some shuteye, like a much-needed prescription pill. Come to think of it, he got to the reunion, unconscious—and now, he was trying to do the same thing. We spend much of our lives asleep, he thought—then he drifted off—but something was nagging him, like a disgruntled housewife, at the corners of his subconscious mind.
What if Megan was the murderer? She had motive. What if Silas was telling the truth? Gregson looked at Megan’s briefcase. It was the kind that writers use, to carry their manuscripts. It might’ve been instinct, to look—that’s what detectives do—they look where they shouldn’t. Gregson saw something there, with a title:
Murder at the High School Reunion
“My God…” He flipped through the pages, outlining one murder, after another. He got to the end, and it wasn’t finished yet. Then Megan sat down with her Cosmopolitan Magazine.
“I thought you would figure this out,” she said.
“Ran-out of ideas, huh.”
“That’s right. I killed Patrick with a golf club, and let the truth run out of his skull.”
“But your novel isn’t finished yet…?”
“That’s right. I still have to kill you, quietly. You were drunk on the plane, when you got here, so it won’t be any surprise when the flight attendant finds your unconscious body. They will assume, you’ve had too much to drink.”
“I could call-out.”
“But you won’t, because I’m pointing a gun at you.”
“You smuggled a gun onto an airplane?”
“It’s a .22 caliber pen. Perfect, for writing the perfect murder. Now, name your poison—Scotch or Soda?”
Megan poured a cup of Scotch with no water, and opened the eraser cap, on her erasable pen.
“Cyanide—in case you’re wondering?”
“I wasn’t, but now that you ask, why cyanide?”
“It’s the most common poison in all murder novels—you should know that. If I used botulinum toxin, nobody would know what I was talking about. This way, my readers will understand the context of your death.”
Gregson got chills. He couldn’t feel his body. Maybe a bullet was better than drinking poison? He thought.
Megan seemed to be reading his mind, because her pen jabbed into his liver.
“Now, drink it,” she said.
A hand grabbed the glass from her, and swallowed.
Gregson looked-up. It was Detective Talbert holding his revolver. “Not to worry. I took the antidote, sodium nitrite. I suspected Megan was the killer from the very beginning. Her last novel was a bit too realistic.” He held-up a paperback.
“Murder in Suburbia?” Gregson asked.
“Yeah. The manner in which the suburbanite dies, was too similar to a death that happened two years ago. She’s been killing people to get creative ideas… However, every mystery writer should know—there’s no such thing as a perfect murder.”
“What about the plural?” Megan asked.
“Murders? — I never thought of that.”