ORDER UP: ONE ALIBI TO GO
By M.A. De Neve
My customers at Country Kitchen Cafe wear their business
name on the backs of shirts and jackets. First names are embroidered above the
pocket on the front of the shirt. I start learning about them as soon as I meet
them. Joe from the heating and cooling company has three kids. He shows me
their school pictures. Debbie is substitute teacher and Weight Watcher. Bill is
a retired cop. Amy works at Subway.
Susie is a widow. She needs to get out more, do things and
meet new people. She tells me everywhere
she goes, she’s reminded of her husband Denny. “We used to do so many things
“He wouldn’t want you sitting at home every night watching
television,” I tell her.
“There are just too many reminders everywhere,” she signs
and looks into her coffee cup as if she can see her late husband in there.
“You need to get far away. Go on an exotic vacation to
Africa or China.”
She laughs. “Don’t I wish I could afford it.”
I’m the waitress. I like my customers; I talk to them, draw
them out, find out as much as I can about what’s going on in their lives. We’re
One day this expensive woman came in. I don’t know much about purse
designers, but I know quality and this woman was wearing expensive everything.
Her nails were a pale pink, but perfectly shaped; her hair was an auburn halo.
She must go to those salons that charge hundreds of dollars for haircuts.
“Someone must have struck the lottery,” Barb, the other
I nodded. We have a few professional women customers. They
rely on easier styles, and wear comfortable clothes. Unless they work in sales,
they don’t walk
around on five-inch heels all day.
Betty, the sales lady, takes off her heels and wears sneakers in here.
Maybe this woman didn’t win the lottery, but she’d either been born into great
wealth or she married money. I decided
she must be married to a king or something.
This is a working-class cafe. The lady stood out. But why
was she here?
She ignored Barb whose turn it was to take a customer; she
used her index finger to summon me to her table. I hate it when people do that.
She ordered coffee and then after I brought it to her table, she told me to sit
What am I? A dog? I figured I’d get a good tip, so I sat
down opposite her.
She asked me questions about me. How long had I worked
there? Did I like waitressing? Did I
have a family living close by? Did I have a roommate? Strange. Few customers
are interested in the waitress. Usually they don’t even want to know my name
unless they want to complain.
But she got my name, age and educational background, all
before she took a sip of the coffee. I was surprised she didn’t ask for my
Social Security numbers.
“Do you have a boyfriend?” she asked.
It was time to turn the conversation. “You know somebody?”
“I know lots of people. I’m looking to hire a smart
girl. Someone like you to come work for
“To do what?”
“Travel. Make some money.”
“I’ll need more of a job description?”
She handed me a business card, the fancy kind in two bold
colors orange and black - and with raised letters. “I want you to be there
tomorrow. What time do you get off work here?”
“I need to know a little more before I make
appointments. Just what are you inviting
me into here?”
“I can use you.”
“I don’t doubt you can - use me.” People use each other all
the time. It’s a fact of life. “It says
here you’re an entertainment specialist. What kind of entertainment? It isn’t
what they call adult entertainment, is it? Kinky?”
She laughed. “No, this is not so-called adult
entertainment or anything so crass. I work with rock bands. Actors. Movie
“And what would I be doing with all these rock bands and
“You’d be making money.” she told me. She left a hundred-dollar
bill on the table and left. She hadn’t
finished her coffee and the bill didn’t even come a whole five dollars. I paid for
her coffee from my tips. I pocketed the hundred and the business card. Her name
was Luella Janice Thurman. On my way home from work, I stopped at the library
and looked her up.
wonder she could afford such
great-looking, expensive clothes. She might make a good employer. But why
me? I figured I’d play along for a while.
What did I have to lose?
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went to her office the
next day. She was just exiting the
building when I arrived. “My car’s over here,” she said. “We have some
She walked toward a new black Mercedes. I stood on the
“Mrs. Thurman…” I began
“Oh get in.” she
said. “We’ve got work to do. And call me Lou.”
“What exactly do you want me to do?”
“Get in the car, and I’ll tell you.”
An hour later I still had no idea what she wanted me for,
but I was having a great time. She drove me to a beauty parlor. A shampoo girl
whose only job was to shampoo rich ladies’ hair massaged my scalp with
something that smelled like apricots. Then I was getting a fresh color rinsed
in my hair and a cut. I looked great when they were finished. I looked as good
as Mrs. Thurman - Lou.
At the next stop I got a pedicure and a manicure. This was decadent.
Surely she wasn’t still tipping
me for the coffee that she didn’t even drink.
“Why are you doing this?” I asked Lou as she paid my bill
and generously tipped the nail stylist. I
still hadn’t gotten any answers. “Isn’t
it obvious? You need the right look if you are going to work for me.”
She drove me a cosmetic shop and bought me new makeup.
“Honestly, what is this about?” I asked.
“We’ll go to my apartment next. You can wear my clothes.”
“I can? Why? For what?”
When we got to her apartment, she threw open the doors to a
long walk in closet. You’re going on a Caribbean Cruise.”
“Pick out what you want to bring with you.”
“I need to know more about what I’m getting into,” I said.
“What is this about?”
“We’re about the same height and very close in weight. Now
our hair is almost exactly the same color and it has the same cut. You could
pass for me.” She explained.
“Why would I want to?”
“Famous people have doubles.” she said. “You will be my
“Why do you need a double?”
“All sorts of reasons. Are you in or not?”
“I’m not an actress.”
“You don’t need to be. People don’t scrutinize me that
much. I’m wealthy and outside of my profession, I am not famous. Smile, be
courteous and remember that you are me.”
“That’s all I have to do is smile and be courteous?”
I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on this cruise, but I picked
out a few items from her wardrobe just for the fun of it. I could always give them
back. Trying things on was fun. She handed me a package bulging with new bras,
nylon stockings and panties. “These
should fit,” she told me.
“That bra,” she nodded toward my chest, “doesn’t
do much for you.”
Darn, it was one of the more expensive bras at the dollar
store, and I always thought I looked good in it. (If you’ve never been
to a dollar store, you
might not know that some items cost more than a dollar. I buy bras at Big Dollar
on Maple and
actually pay up to five dollars. I’m a
She handed me a copy of her driver’s license, a copy of her
passport, and a credit card. “There’s a thousand-dollar limit on it,” she
explained. “Don’t overdo the shopping.”
“I won’t need to buy anything.”
“I want you to buy some things. The credit card receipts
Here’s the deal she offered me. I was going on a Caribbean
cruise, all expenses paid. I was to be seen only enough to establish my
presence or rather her presence. I’d get five thousand dollars cash before I
went and another five thousand when the job was done.
“Don’t call attention to yourself,” she instructed. “Just
be there. Order room service and sign
for it. Use my name. We’ll practice my signature, Wear sunglasses as much as
you can when you are outdoors. Our eyes are different.”
“Why am I doing this?”
“That’s my business,” she told me.
“It’s my business if… if…. You aren’t doing anything
illegal are you?”
“Of course not. All famous people have doubles. It lets us go incognito
sometimes. It’ll give
I wanted to remind her that she wasn’t famous, but I decided
to play along. I needed a vacation. As
far as staying in my room and doing little more than making my presence known
with small purchases, I wasn’t going to do that. She wanted me to establish
what I’d do.
I bought a new iPhone with some of my advance money, not
that I had anyone I wanted to call. I
was interested in its camera.
I had a blast. I met the captain and as many other
passengers as I could. I kept my real driver’s license and a credit card with
my real name on it sewed inside one of my new bras.
Back home I unloaded my purchases in my real apartment. I
barely got in the door and my phone was ringing. “Very good job,” Mrs. Thurman
said. “You made enough purchases to establish my identity. Very good. I take it
you kept a low profile.”
did she define low profile? I hadn’t put a lamp on my head or danced naked on
the tables. As far as I knew she had no reason to complain about my
performance. I’d already returned the credit card and copies of the driver’s
license and passport per her instructions.
“You’ll find a money order for five thousand dollars cash
in your mailbox,” she told me. “I know I
can count on your discretion.”
“Of course,” I agreed. I didn’t add that my discretion
depended on what she’d been up to while I was gone.
When I went back to work at the restaurant, my customers
asked how I’d liked visiting my family. I don’t have a family; I’m divorced and
I haven’t seen my ex-husband in over five years; my parents were killed in an
automobile accident when I was still a teenager. But a home visit had been my
excuse for taking two weeks off.
When I got my break, I found a discarded tabloid magazine
someone had left behind. Johnny Mick the rock singer was dead, murdered, shot
to death inside his apartment. I opened the magazine and started reading the
details. He must have known his killer. He’d let someone inside the apartment.
There were no signs of a struggle.
After I finished reading the article, I folded the magazine
and placed it under the counter. We had an unusually busy lunch rush that day,
but Barb and I managed to get everyone served.
When Bill, the retired cop, came in, I sat at the counter
beside him. “I have a story to tell you,” I began. “I was involved in Johnny
“I assassinated JFK,” he said. “I stood at that window at
the school book depository building and I …”
“I’m serious,” I pulled out the tabloid magazine and
pointed to the article on Johnny Mick. “His marriage was on the rocks. He was
getting a divorce.”
“You read this trash?”
“It’s all true. His wife, Louella Thurman, would be a
suspect, but she was on a Caribbean cruise.”
“If she was on a cruise, she got an alibi. Of course, she
could have hired the job out.”
“She hired the job out, all right. She hired me.” I took
out my iPhone and
showed him my pictures. “Here’s me putt-putting at a miniature golf course on
the ship. Here’s me at Guy’s Burgers. Here’s me…” I showed him picture after
picture. I showed him the picture of Johnny’s Mick’s wife in the tabloid. “She
looks like me. Notice the manicure. I held my hands in front of him. “She paid
“So what,” Bill said. “You look like Johnny Mick’s wife.
Nice haircut, by the way. You went on a cruise the same time she did.”
“It’s quite a coincidence, isn’t it? I wasn’t supposed to
do anything in my own name, but I didn’t follow orders. I made credit card
purchases, a dozen of them using my own card. It’s called ‘establishing
location.’ ” I had transferred some of the cash she gave me into my account
before I left.
“It still don’t prove she wasn’t on the cruise with you.”
“No, but someone else was on the cruise with me.”
At that moment Susie came in. I’d called her and asked her
to come to the restaurant. I showed Bill
my pictures again. Susie, the widow from a few blocks over, was there with me
in several photos.
Susie came over and sat with us. “We had such a good
time. She’s been after me to go out and
have fun again. Thank you, for paying my way,” Susie smiled.
Bill took us to the police station and we talked to
detectives. Mrs. Thurman or should I say Mrs. Mick denied my charges, but I
knew the captain’s name. She didn’t. She really should have researched better.
I also had Susie my witness who’d been with me for the entire cruise. She had
watched me sign Louella Thurman’s name to receipts for room service and for
small purchases. Lou Thurman Mick hadn’t specified that I take no one with me.
And I really did keep a low profile. I did the same things other cruisers did.
Susie was grateful. She met a nice businessman on the trip
and they’re engaged to be married now. He’s offered me a job working for his
company. I’ll make over twice as much as I did as a waitress.
I got to keep all the money and the clothes Mrs. Thurman
gave me and all the purchases I’d made. I also got money from the tabloids for
telling my story.
Crime does pay. At least
it did for me and Susie.
M. A. De Neve holds a
master’s degree in English and taught college-level writing for over twenty
years. M. A. wrote two novels, both available on Amazon, and has published
articles in many newspapers and magazines, including Over My Dead Body
and Mysterical-E. M. A. volunteers with an animal rescue
group in Michigan.
Ann Marie Rhiel is the Assistant Art Director for Yellow
Mama Webzine. She was born and raised in Bronx, New York, presently
living in New Jersey. She reconnected with her passion
for art in 2016 and has had her work exhibited in
art galleries around northern New Jersey ever since. She is a commissioned
painting artist, who also enjoys photography. Her work has
also appeared in Black Petals and Megazine Official.