If you missed the first chapter, start here!
As anyone with half a brain had expected, Jezza’s memorial service was packed, all the seats filled even with the partition between the two “slumber rooms” taken down. Curiosity ruled the day, the gossipers watched over by the Morley brothers and their assistant who had to refill the cookie trays twice before the service started. Conspicuously missing was anyone truly mourning, at least outwardly, although a few people in the front rows had the glassy-eyed look of bewilderment that sudden death of someone younger than they are brings.
As the finder of the body Penelope generated a few whispers. “I guess I should have expected this,” she whispered to Esther as she maneuvered the older woman’s wheelchair into the room.
“Human nature is the only thing that has remained unchanged since I was a girl. Murder creates a spectacle. ” She gestured to an open spot near the exit. “Over there. We can duck out if it all gets too pompous. I wonder if any of these people knew Jezza.”
“Not all of them, I imagine.” Penelope wondered if she should include herself in that group. Prim mayor’s wife, brazen bank robber, Hooters waitress, mother, femme fatale, Daisy or Jezza, had she known anything at all of the woman before she died? Mostly Penelope had known that Jezza had a large dog that needed exercise and her checks didn’t bounce. It hardly seemed like a fitting testimonial.
Casper Morley, the older and paler of the two brothers, dimmed the lights and walked to the podium. “Per the instructions of the deceased, there will be no eulogy. Instead, we have a presentation that she left to be played during her memorial service.” He nodded and the spotlight on the podium faded and a slideshow began playing on two large screens with the sounds of a pan flute filling the room.
Jezza and her husband at their wedding, both bride and groom smiling; Brutus as a puppy, Jezza holding him in the air; Jezza with her husband at a ribbon cutting ceremony, fashionable pantsuit immaculate.
“Hmph,” Esther said, nearly shouting to be heard over the music. “When I go I want people crying or laughing, not bored to tears watching my vacation pictures. Remember that.”
Penelope swallowed her disappointment. When the presentation had started she’d been hoping Jezza would somehow reveal more of herself after death than she had in life, but it looked like they would only be seeing the carefully crafted image Jezza had constructed during life. “Do you want any of those cookies before they’re gone?” She glanced toward the tray that was almost down to crumbs again.
Facing the back of the room she missed the first image but a collective intake of breath from the room snapped her attention back to the screen in time to see the mayor’s naked backside fade out.
Esther’s laughter rang out in the suddenly hushed room. “Now it’s getting interesting.”
Penelope watched, mouth open, as the vacation pictures switched to relatively tame boudoir photos, and then… “Is that Councilman Tanner?” The buzz around the room got louder, drowning out the music, as the images continued. A shriek rang through the room and a woman in the second row jumped to her feet and started bashing the man next to her with her purse.
Penelope got out her phone and dialed as Casper Morley ran to the front of the room to stop the presentation, all decorum stripped from him in his panic as he punched buttons on the podium, changing the lights but not stopping the projector.
When Jake answered Penelope raised her voice to be heard over the pandemonium. “You might want to get down to the funeral home. I think I know where all those blackmail photos are.”
(Comments, requests, and suggestions all welcome!)