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Parking Can Be Murder by Albert Tucher
Cover Artist: Thomas R. - Fotolia.com
Gumshoe Review  
Date: 30 August 2013

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Parking Can Be Murder

by Albert Tucher


"I feel like Angela Lansbury," Diana said.

Detective Breitwieser gave her a blank look. It didn't surprise her that he was a popular culture dropout.

"That show," she tried anyway. "You had to be crazy to invite her for the weekend."

"So?"

He was usually heavy going, but not this heavy.

"So it's getting so a guy has to be crazy to hire me in Morristown. Every time I come down here, something bad happens." And that, she could have added, meant she had to deal with Breitwieser.

"Ever think of going into a different line of work?" he said. "Something legal?"

She didn't bother to reply.

They stood side by side in the courtyard parking lot of the Ritz, Morristown's leading hot pillow motel. Her client's white Avalon sat in a parking space right in front of the room where Diana had waited for him, getting more annoyed by the moment. No-shows cost her money.

This no-show had an excuse. If she stooped, Diana could look through the window at the blood trail down the right side of Bruce's head. She didn't feel like stooping.

Two evidence techs, a young man and a young woman who could have been twins, were bustling around the car.

Breitwieser frowned at the car, but she would have bet that the tinted windows, illegal in New Jersey, and the Florida plates on the car offended him more than the dead man.

"So you didnít hear the shots?"

"No."

"Or an argument or anything?"

"I told you. The AC was on high. It was like a 747 taking off. I gave up on him and came outside."

Breitwieser had already mopped his face several times with his handkerchief. Diana was considering breaking a sweat herself.

"What kind of gun?" she asked. "Had to be something big enough to shatter the window."

He gave her a look that said he was the detective here.

"Sorry," she said. "I probably watch too many true crime shows."

"Don't know yet."

"Firing through the passenger window is a little weird, isn't it? Harder to hit the driver, I would think."

He gave her the look again.

"He was one of your regulars?"

"About five years. He's a widower. No girlfriend as of last time I saw him."

"Who could have known about this appointment?"

"I didn't tell anybody. He might have, but I wouldn't know. Could we go inside?"

Breitwieser looked ready to pass out. She didn't need another dead man on her hands, especially a cop. He conferred for a moment with the two techs, probably to show her that he was tough enough to take the heat.

"Okay," he said as he opened the door to the room. She followed him in. "Anything weird about him?"

"You mean sexually?"

"Well, that too."

"Not really. Sometimes he liked to park. You know, like teenagers. He said it made him feel young again."

"So your DNA might be in the car."

"I'm probably not the only one."

Breitwieser waved his hand at the parking lot. A half dozen other cars waited for their owners, who thought they could hide in their rooms.

"Recognize any of them?"

She wasn't happy about the question. Lying would come back to bite her, but so would giving up another hooker. Breitwieser caught her hesitating.

"We're getting along here. Don't mess it up."

"The blue Lumina is Mary Alice's. You could have found out without putting me on the spot."

"But it's less work this way. Mary Alice aka Crystal?"

"Only Mary Alice I know."

"Did she know the victim?"

"Have to ask her."

"We will."

"Try to go easy on her. We're supposed to meet for lunch, and she gets cranky when she's hungry."

"No promises. Okay, you can go."

Mary Alice was indeed cranky when she slid into the booth at Rosen's restaurant.

"What a week."

"Getting questioned in a murder case isn't fun."

"Oh, that. That was just the last straw."

"What else?"

"That bitch Stacy. I got into it with her on Monday. Literally."

"You mean a fight?"

Mary Alice grinned, her teeth brilliant against her Mediterranean complexion. "She's twenty years younger, but I guess she didn't grow up with brothers. I did."

"Where was this?"

"At the Ritz, Monday."

"The management let you come back?"

"I didn't start it, and they knew it. But they kicked her out."

Diana looked Mary Alice in the eye. "Just so you know, I told that cop you were there just now. He'd have run your plates anyway."

Mary Alice waved her concern away. "I figured. I let them search my car, and that was that. Was it really Bruce?"

"You didn't see?"

"Everything was gone by the time by the time that cop let me go."

"I didn't realize you knew Bruce."

"Just met him recently. He was kind of sweet. I don't have that many clients I like."

"You could stand to be a little more tolerant."

"Whatever," said Mary Alice. "You know about his little parking fetish?"

"Oh," said Diana.

"What? Just FYI, your mouth is hanging open."

"You've gone parking with him?"

"Sure. Monday. It wasn't so hot then."

"Was that before or after you got into it with Stacy?"

"Before."

"So she could have seen you with him?"

"I'd be surprised if she didn't. He picked me up at the Ritz, and he dropped me off there. I got out of the car, and she got in my face."

"Well, he was shot in that car of his, with the tinted windows. Through the passenger side. Didn't that ring a bell?"

"It does now. That cop didn't tell me anything."

They sat looking at each other for a long moment.

"So," said Mary Alice, "I guess I need to kick Stacy's ass again."

"Or we could just tell Breitwieser."

"That's your territory. You're the one who gets along with cops."

"What a thing to say."

About the author:

Albert Tucher is the creator of prostitute Diana Andrews, who has appeared in more than forty short stories in such venues as Thug Lit, Shotgun Honey, and The Best American Mystery Stories 2010, edited by Lee Child and Otto Penzler. Diana's first novel-length case, The Same Mistake Twice, was just published by Untreed Reads. Albert Tucher recently broke into Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine with a stand-alone story called "Hangman's Break".
Parking Can Be Murder © Albert Tucher, September 2013


Our Readers Respond

From: Jacqueline Seewald
A good crime story--held my attention from beginning to end.

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