Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

Hill

The Kimmel County Tour of Very, Very Violent Crimes

(Episode 41)

 When Merle and Leland arrived at the Weed’s place, Bobby Spencer’s  Kimmel County Tour of Very, Very Violent Crimes  bus  – the sign for which covered one side of the old motor coach in bright red cursive letters – was just finishing up it’s highlight attraction “Lunch at the Shoot Out!”,  featuring ‘Chicken and Bisquits just as Harriet Weeds Fixed ‘em’.   The tourists were wiping the crumbs from their faces with their paper napkins and commenting upon Harriet Weed’s posthumous farmhand lunch spread, while their kids were running around poking the cows with sticks.

“You want to waltz in?  There’s bound to be something left – potato salad, a drumstick or a thigh.”  Merle tossed his head.

Leland indicated that they’d best park in the shade behind some trees until the tour had run its course.  So they watched Bobby speak a little to the crowd before the tourists in their hats and plastic bags of collectibles rose up from their seats and filed in a fairly neat line through the front door for a tour of the farmhouse.  Bobby was wearing the official tour cap and t shirt, as were all of the other school chums Bobby had hired to put out the meal, and then gather up the leftovers and clear the tables.  And it appeared to Leland that Bobby had hired old Jerry Gillis to drive the bus.  He had a greasy grey pony tail, a few days growth of grey stubble and wore a dirty black cap advertising Skoal.  Leland had a good idea it was that girl reporter, his daughter Nancy Gillis, who had talked Bobby into that.  Leland hoped Jerry was sober, and straight.  The Gillis girl must be trying to raise the whole family, Leland figured.

When the crowd was fully inside of the farmhouse, four figures walked out of the barn and began taking their positions around the yard.

In a while, the tourists exited the farmhouse, holding up their hands and squinting into the sun.  Bobby Spencer had switched to a loudspeaker and had quickly run around to the head up the crowd, in order to direct their movement.  The crowd saw the four figures carrying guns, and stopped, clustering where they were.

Then, Bobby began his spiel.  The other kids were Bob, Harriet, Agent Hailey and himself.  They were all dressed to resemble.  Leland figured Bobby must have recruited them from the drama club.  Someone had even written them out lines.   As Bobby stepped back, the little drama was played out.

When another girl, playing Nancy Gillis, broke from the crowd and ran forward snapping pictures, Leland began to get angry.  When the guns fired blanks, Leland’s breathing grew ragged and he broke into a sweat.

“You alright?”  Merlin asked.

“Yeah.  I’m fine,” Leland said quickly.  But he didn’t look so.

With two of them dead, Bobby Spencer turned dramatically and recreated events leading up to the confrontation.  He noted where each character stood, the weapon they had, the angle of the sun at the time of the shootout – even the number of bullets shot.   He punctuated this monologue  by showing them a couple dark crusty puddles which still stained the “thirsty soil”.

From what Leland remembered, all of that had been destroyed following the investigation.  But whatever.  Now there were splatters of something, marked off by yellow crime tape, which the tourists viewed reverentially.

It was 5 or 10 more minutes before Bobby Spencer had finished up his spiel and herded the crowd of tourists back onto the tour bus.  Then, after a count of heads, the tour bus lumbered away.

Merlin was about to drive forward, when Leland stayed his arm.

He nodded at where the actors and waiters were now gathering their things and boarding a small van.  After a while the small van lumbered away.  They sat for a while longer after, while Leland collected himself.  Then Leland nodded.  And Merlin drove the vehicle up into the yard where they parked.

Several minutes passed.  Then Merlin said, “You wanna get out?”

Leland nodded and stepped out into the bright sunlight.

After standing some, taking in the scene, Merlin naturally gravitated towards the barn and the animals, while Leland strode towards the house.

Photo by Carl Nelson

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2 Responses to “Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene”

  1. Donn Trenton Says:

    You’re a very, very cynical man, Mr Cene.

  2. schn00dles Says:

    Lompoc will do that to a person. 😦

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