Murder at the Commune, Part II

Part I

*****

“Louise,” Jonas offered. “I’m sorry.”

Louise continued not to miss a beat in her dancing, inasmuch as a beat could be determined. None could, but Jonas declined to point this out. To his credit, he probably would not have even if there had been any space between words in the diatribe that Louise unleashed.

“You’re sorry? Everyone! The so-called mayor is sooo-oo-o-o-ooo-ry! Why are you sorry, mayor? Because you’ve chosen a time of grief to come and harass some people who have never hurt anyone? Because you’re an illegitimate ruler of men who by nature should have no ruler? Because your actions as mayor should have you thrown in jail where you can rot away while considering all of the lives of man and beast and plant that you—no one else—have destroyed? Because you’re an ugly, fat, ass? Tell me, mayor? Why are you sorry? Why, mayor, are you sorry?”

Jonas listened to this placidly. When Louise seemed to have run down at last, he said with impressive sincerity, “I’m sorry for your loss, Louise. All of you. I know what Claude meant to you all, and I wanted to pay my respects.”

“Why don’t you wait for a nice photo op to ‘pay your respects.’”

Jonas had long ago learned not to take the hippies and their rantings personally. Today, however, Louise was more agitated than usual, and while the rest of the people sitting around the fire were less well lit, their dark shapes were taking on decidedly more aggressive forms.

“I am intruding,” he acknowledged. With a tiny tip of an imaginary hat, he added, “Until tomorrow.”

“I’m sorry also,” Heather piped in. This spurred a bit of a flurry around the fire.

“Bloody hell,” rang Declan’s brogue above the din. “It’s a kid! This is no place for a young ‘un.”

Declan stood to punctuate this point. He too was nude, but the extreme looseness with which his skin hung off his elderly frame worked to distract from this fact. As he rose, the skin rose too, achieving zero-g for a glorious instant before crashing to the lowest point his cartilage could support. The effect was similar to an ostrich that decided it would like to try to fly, put everything it could into a single flap, and then thought better of the whole thing.

“The human body is a beautiful thing, Declan,” countered Sam, who was merely bare-chested, although the hair on his chest was long enough and extensive enough to have its own silhouette.

“It’s a moot point,” said Jonas. “Heather’s wiser than I am.”

“True ‘nuff,” agreed Declan.

“They come in the spirit of kindness,” decided Sam. “We shouldn’t be rude. Spliff?” Jonas declined politely. “Ah, well. Heather? You rock the gange?”

“No,” she said quietly, repressing the urge to laugh at Sam’s terminology.

“You’re probably right,” Sam admitted, with a sigh that danced on the edge between contented and obscene. “I’m not as young as I used to be, and it’s a long drive home tomorrow. And then, Monday.” Monday descended into a deadly well of despair, but it was down there for only an instant before it exploded through the sky as if it had inadvertently tapped Old Faithful. Sam squealed in delight. “We’ve got random drug tests on Monday!”

Heather looked significantly at the marijuana in his hands.

“Well, I’m not taking the tests. Obviously. You should always own the company, little girl. Life lesson, there.” Sam took a lengthy last draw on his joint before tossing the nub into the bonfire. He considered standing, decided against it, and instead stretched out face-up on the ground. “If you ever need a hookup,” he offered unsteadily, as he briefly caught Heather’s eyes and just as quickly fell asleep.

Louise still glared, however, and while Heather was relaxing a bit, Jonas’s discomfort was only growing. “Our thoughts are with you,” he said abruptly, and he turned and started toward his truck. Heather nodded a farewell and followed.

Heather expected a quiz on the way back to town, which would have been a fiasco for the lack of hard knowledge that she’d gained. None came, however, which was a relief at first, and then unsettling. “Did you get anything?” she eventually inquired.

“Yeah,” Jonas replied. “Every one of the hippies is gonna get killed.”

*****

Well, here’s where things get interesting. The bit about random drug tests was the first part that I wrote, and then turned around and added the surrounding murder (a major plot point of Clean Hippie Murders) on the fly. As such, it might change significantly, but I’m actually pretty pleased with it.

Being a non-pot-smoker (although I’m aware enough to get a giggle out of the 4:20 that’s scrawled on one of the garbage cans in my apartment building) I had to look up some of the terminology. I found a forum online, I believe Grasscity, that was discussing just that topic. The debate was, let’s just say, livelier than you might expect from a forum about what’s supposed to be a relaxing drug.

Finally, Claude… the name of the murder victim comes either from the character in Hair or my friend’s hedgehog. Six of one, right?

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