Everyone in the room had had a reason to want Commodore Cusack dead. So far, they’d all been too clever or too lucky for Malone to single out one of them. His only chance was to gather them together and reveal what he’d found out until one of them cracked.
One thing that he’d found was that the Commodore was a Grade A, solid-state bastard. Malone thought that he looked like he should wind up in that lineup of suspects. But there would be time for fantasies of murder later. Right now, Malone had a job to do: catch the person or persons that murdered Commodore Cusack.
Pierre LaMont was the first suspect. He’d been hired by the Commodore to do some investing. The Commodore always had a few extra million lying around, and he’d finally decided to do something with them. LaMont worked for months finding sound investments and ventures that would yield spectacular results for the Commodore. When all was done, LaMont had more than quadrupled the Commodore’s money. This meant a huge payday for Pierre LaMont, who was promised two percent of all of the earnings he acquired. It would have been a huge payout, but the Commodore cut LaMont out completely. He was never paid a dime. He tried for a while to make things square with Cusack but he was repeatedly laughed at and dismissed. Unfortunately, some of LaMont’s methods were on the grey side of finance, so he could go to no authority. Malone had seen it before and he knew the story all too well: the best way to get your eyes poked out with an ice pick was to come between a man and his hundreds of thousands of dollars.
There were more people who wanted Cusack dead, though, and their reasons were so twisted that they made LaMont’s motives seem tame. Malone grabbed at the sharp pain in his stomach, and rubbed it as he moved on to the next suspect.
Fabrice Fontanelle was many things. He was an international penis pump model of unknown European ancestry. He was a celebrated womanizer, into the sort of kink that would make even Walt Disney’s head spin in its cryogenic tomb. He was an ex-Marine who had earned a body count so comically high that he’d taken on mythical status in the third world. But most of all, Fabrice Fontanelle was a vengeful bastard who never tolerated anything he even remotely considered to be treasonous. That’s why when he overheard Commodore Cusack speaking about how he didn’t really believe in the president’s stimulus plan, Fontanelle demanded that the Commodore submit a written apology to the White House. When Cusack laughed this off, Fontanelle promised that he would, quote, “Have [his] &^%$ing eyes in hell!” Unquote. Had this claim been made by anyone else, it would have been chalked up to a simple, over-the-top threat. But if Sgt. Fabrice Fontanelle promised to do something to your eyes, your best bet was to start learning Braille…
Malone knew that, outside of money and treason, sex was always around — and it was always the strongest motive. He reached into his pocket and grabbed a handful of antacid tablets. He swallowed them whole and moved on to the next suspect.
Ms. Amanda was the reason masturbation was a sin — one look from her and you had no choice but to covet and spill seed until you went insane. She was sexier than a baby deer and built like an ice cream sundae —an ice cream sundae you wanted to do lots of dirty, sticky stuff to whenever the mood struck you. Besides all of her good looks and sex appeal, she was a genius as well. She’d been to all sorts of fancy schools and universities and had been steadily collecting letters to add to her name since she was 16 years of age. She had PhDs and MDs in subjects and disciplines that no average joe could ever use or care about, but she made it all work. It was no wonder that everyone wondered how this sexy genius could ever fall for a trollkin of a man like Commodore Earskine Cusack. Especially since he had a proclivity for, let’s say, more untraditional ways of love-making. It’s possible that he had finally pushed Ms. Amanda too far in the boudoir. It’s possible that she’d finally decided to do something about all of his other lovers. Still, it’s possible that she had put up with all of his perversions all of this time for the inheritance. She was, after all, a genius…
Leezil Cusack was the Commodore’s half-sister. She lived with him in the compound, and outside of the occasional cocktail party chatter, they never spoke. They’d hated each other for the last 20 years. People had their theories about what had started the fight, but Malone had found out — they’d slept together in college. After a night at the yacht club, they’d had too much to drink and had done the unthinkable, in every unthinkable way for 16 straight hours. The Commodore hated himself for allowing it to happen, but he hated Leezil even more because she hated the Commodore for never letting it happen again. It seemed that she had always wanted this and she assumed that after the initial indiscretion, she and the Commodore could continue their secret affair. And, while the Commodore was a bastard he wasn’t a fucking bastard. Not even Commodore Cusack was disgusting enough to carry on with his own half-sister — not twice, anyway.
Malone had them all there in the drawing room, preparing to piece together the evening of the Commodore’s birthday — and how it had ended with the Commodore’s eyes being poked out by an antique ice pick.
With a few officers waiting in the wings in case someone tried to run, Malone started to work.
The pain in Malone’s stomach went from incredibly uncomfortable to intently unbearable. He excused himself, and stepped to the side of the drawing room, turning his back to the suspects.
Officer Smith noticed Malone coughing blood into a handkerchief and asked if he could help. Malone waved him away
Malone fell onto the floor.
Jesus-God, he yelled.
Christ, he screamed.
He clutched his stomach and writhed and gargled on the floor.
The suspects all stood and watched in terror. The officers all yelled at each other to call for help.
Smith knelt and tried to hold Malone, as he was flailing rather violently across the carpet.
Smith, being the closest to Malone when it happened, was the first to see it, and the first to vomit, then faint.
Malone’s parasitic twin forced its way from the man’s torso and flopped around on the floor for about 10 seconds before it drowned in the air.
The screaming only lasted a bit, after which everyone stood in stunned silence, staring at Malone’s shocked face as he took his last breath.
Stories by J’mel Davidson appear in every issue of Birmingham Weekly. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.