K is for Killer Page 97


Trinny suddenly appeared to my right. I'd have avoided the contact, but I knew she'd already spotted me.

"Hi, Trinny. How're you? I didn't know you came here."

"Everybody comes here. This is hot." She was glancing around as she spoke, snapping her fingers while she did some kind of chin thrust in time to the music. I wondered if this was mating behavior.

"You here by yourself?"

"Nuh-uhn, I came with Berl. She has a boyfriend she meets here because Daddy dudn't like him."

"Really, Berlyn's here, too? Where'd she go?"

"Right out on the dance floor. She was sitting right here."

She pointed in the general direction of the dance floor, and I peered dutifully. Berlyn was doing a bump-and-grind number with the beefy boyfriend. I could see his shaved head towering above the other heads bobbing on the dance floor.

"That's the guy your dad dudn't like? I can't imagine."

Trinny shrugged. "It's his hair, I think. Daddy's kind of conservative. He doesn't think guys should shave their heads."

"Yeah, but what difference could it make when he's got so much hair everywhere else?" I said.

Trinny made a face. "I don't like guys with hairy backs."

"Nice earrings Berlyn's wearing. Where'd she get 'em? I wouldn't mind a pair of those myself."

"They're just rhinestones."

"Rhinestones? That's cool. They look like real diamonds from here, don't you think?"

"Oh, right. Like she's really going to wear diamonds."

"Maybe she got 'em at one of those stores that sells look-alike jewels. You know, emeralds and rubies and like that. I look at that stuff and I can't tell the difference."

"Yeah, maybe."

I looked up. A fellow doing chin thrusts and a lot of finger popping was standing near Trinny's chair. She got up and started bumping and grinding on the spot. I waved at the air, trying to watch the dance floor around their flailing arms. "Do you mind?"

The two of them began to bebop in the direction of the dance floor. I found Berlyn again with her beau. I kept my eyes pinned on their heads bobbing on the dance floor. I leaned over as if to tie my shoe and slid my hand down into her purse. I felt her wallet, cosmetic bag, hairbrush. I sat up again and then simply extracted the handbag from the back of the chair where she'd hung it, leaving mine in its place. I hefted the strap across one shoulder and moved off to the ladies' room.

There were five or six women at the basins, makeup paraphernalia scattered across the shelving provided. All were engaged in a frenzy of hair ratting, blusher brushes, and lip pencils, not even looking up as I went into a stall and slid the bolt across. I hung the bag over a hook that had been thoughtfully provided by the management and began to search in earnest.

Berlyn's wallet was not that educational: driver's license, a couple of credit cards, a few folded credit card receipts shoved down among the currency. Her checkbook showed a series of deposits at weekly intervals, which I assumed represented paychecks from Kepler Plumbing, Inc. Chick was seriously underpaid. Scanning back over the last several months, I spotted an occasional deposit of twenty-five hundred dollars, usually followed by checks made out to Holiday Travel. That was interesting. I found the small velvet jeweler's box in which the earrings were probably kept.

I tried the interior zippered compartment, sorting through old grocery lists, Thrifty drugstore receipts, deposit slips. I pulled out passbooks for two different savings accounts. The first had been opened with a nine-thousand-dollar deposit about a month after Lorna's death. I could see intermittent withdrawals of twenty-five hundred dollars, bringing the current balance down to fifteen hundred. The second account held another six thousand dollars. There was probably a third account somewhere else. Berlyn had tucked the carbons of her deposit and withdrawal slips in the back of one passbook-information she didn't dare leave at home. If Janice had discovered her cache of hidden funds, sticky questions would arise. I lifted a carboned slip from each passbook.

Someone knocked on the stall. "Are you dead in there?"

"Just a minute," I called.

I depressed the toilet handle, letting the toilet flush noisily while I shoved everything back in the handbag. I emerged from the stall with the bag over my shoulder. A black girl with a seventies Afro moved into the stall I'd vacated. I found an empty basin and gave my hands a vigorous scrub, feeling like they needed it. I left the restroom and returned to the table in haste just as the dance music came to a blasting finale. There was tumultuous applause from the dance floor, complete with piercing whistles and foot stompings. I slid onto my chair, snagged my bag from Berlyn's chair, and slipped hers into place.

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