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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Pamela Ebel: Dead Men Don't Text

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Art by Hillary Lyon 2022

Dead Men Don’t Text!

 

by Pamela Ebel

 

Julia sipped her second cup of coffee and studied her appointment book. Three new clients wished to schedule events through her company, and she needed to finish her proposals. A sharp knock brought her to the front door of her apartment. Standing in the hallway were two men dressed in business suits.

“Julia Frazer?”

“Yes, I’m Julia Frazer.”

 I’m Detective Clark Dillon and this is Detective Carl Ellis. We would like to ask you a few questions, if you don’t mind.”

Julia looked at the credentials the two men offered and handed them back.

“Questions about what, gentlemen?”

Detective Dillon, clearly the point man, opened a note pad.

“We have received a ‘Missing Person’ report about a Travers Muller. His roommate says he has not seen or heard from Mr. Muller in five days. We are contacting anyone listed in Muller’s Appointments Book and your name appears several times. Do you know Travers Muller?”

“Yes, I know Travers.”

“How long have you known him, and have you seen him recently?”

“We met about three months ago at an investment club meeting that my event company catered. He was giving a speech about investment opportunities.”

The detectives looked at each other and Dillon made a note.

“We went for coffee afterward and since then, we have gone out several times. Nothing serious on my part, although I thought he wanted more commitment. I haven’t seen Travers in several days because of my work schedule. You said he’s missing?”

“That’s what his roommate claims. He has tried calling and texting Muller’s cell phone and had no response.”

Julia walked to her desk and picked up her phone.

“That’s odd, because Travers texted me yesterday morning. He said, “Happy Valentine’s Day. Will you meet me at The Landing tonight at 7:00 and be my Valentine?”

She showed the text message to the detectives.

 “I had nothing better to do, and The Landing is one of my favorite restaurants so, I texted yes. I arrived a little before 7:00 and there was a reservation in Travers’s name. I ordered a drink and waited about 30 minutes. Then I received this text from him: ‘Had an emergency. Can’t come. Explain later. Sorry, Travers.’ I explained to the hostess, paid for my drink and came home. When I got here, there were that dozen red roses, a bottle of champagne, and a box of chocolates by the door with a card—‘Sorry Valentine but more later.’”

“No information on a florist? Anything on who delivered these?”

“Nothing. Anyone can enter the building. I haven’t heard from him since last night. I wish I could be of more help.”

“Well, we appreciate your time and information. I’ll leave my card in case you hear anything.”

“Of course. I certainly hope he’s all right.”

“Well, we have information that the FBI is also looking for Muller as a suspect in an investment fraud scheme that preys on retirees. He probably got wind of that and took off. I mean dead men don’t text, do they?”

Julia shared a laugh with the detectives as they heard an approaching trash truck.

“Oh, I didn’t get this out to the curb. Would you mind just giving it to the man? It’s full of cat litter.”

Dillon took the bag gingerly, and she watched from the window as the trashman threw it into the truck obliterating the litter and the pieces of Travers’s destroyed cell phone. Taking a sip of the champagne she had saved, along with the flowers and candy, from one of her events, Julia read one final time, the note her parents had mailed her six months earlier. After being swindled out of their life savings in another retirement town, they had taken their own lives.

Julia stood and tossed the note into her fireplace. The paper turned to ashes, like those of her parents, now sprinkled in a lake near their home. She stared out at the lake near her apartment with a grim nod to another watery grave and raised her glass.

“To You Mom and Dad. Dead Men Don’t Text and They Don’t Steal Anymore, Either!”

 

Pamela Ebel has been published in Shotgun Honey, The BOULD AWARDS 2020 Anthology, as well other venues. Her poetry has appeared in the Delta Poetry Review. A native of California, she now concentrates on tales from her original home state and tales from the highways of the South. She also knows, like the Ancient Greeks and the Irish, that as a southern writer you can’t outrun your blood.

She has turned to writing full time as of 2020, obviously either perfect or bizarre timing, and this will be her fifth career. She lives in Metairie, Louisiana, with her husband and two cats.



Hillary Lyon is an illustrator for horror/sci-fi and pulp fiction websites and magazines. She is also founder and senior editor for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. An SFPA Rhysling Award nominated poet, her poems have appeared in journals such as Eternal Haunted Summer, Jellyfish Whispers, Scfifaikuest, Illya’s Honey, and Red River Review, as well as numerous anthologies. Her short stories have appeared recently in Night to Dawn, Yellow Mama, Black Petals, Sirens Call, and Tales from the Moonlit Path, among others, as well as in numerous horror anthologies such as Night in New Orleans: Bizarre Beats from the Big EasyThuggish Itch: Viva Las Vegas, and White Noise & Ouija Boards. She appeared, briefly, as the uncredited "all-American Mom with baby" in Purple Cactus Media’s 2007 Arizona indie-film, "Vote for Zombie." Having lived in France, Brazil, Canada, and several states in the US, she now resides in southern Arizona.  https://hillarylyon.wordpress.com/                                    

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2022