Ashley was near the highway before she checked her phone. Some of the areas still had dodgy reception; she didn’t want to take any chances. Beep. Beep. Beep. “NO! No no no no no no no.” Ashley grabbed the little device only to see its screen confirm the noise it was making: low battery. Too low to call out, Ashley opened the glove compartment in a flash only to find it was empty. She had left the car charger somewhere else. There was nothing she could do if she went back, but if she called from somewhere further away would the police even believe her? It was their job to respond to these things but there was always a chance. “What to do?” she asked herself.
The nervous energy was so great the group felt that the workers could see it. They had a murder weapon, a missing cord; they had a suspect, a foul tempered worker who was fighting with the victim, trying to pay him off, if only some police were there! The workers were becoming more hectic, their deadline apparently approaching.
“Projector. The projector! Where is the projector?” Hilda asked agitatedly.
“It’s in the van, getting it now.” Ella hurried out of the building. Ten minutes later, she came back in with the compact device, with a handful of wires and adapters. Two others started sorting out the mess while Ella moved into the kitchen. The food was being moved out, the buffet being placed, everyone was busy with something.
“Come on Ashley, hurry up.” Mumbled Jessica. The others agreed, what was taking their friend so long?
“The pineapple surprise! It has to set up downstairs. Ella can you?”
“Sure thing.” Ella retrieved a large pineapple shaped cake on a cart along with some boxes containing what looked to be like decorations and actual pineapples. “I’m sorry but can you help me out? It is just some small things put together.”
“Uh… sure.” She shrugged and helped Ella move the cart down the flights of stairs.
As soon as they were out of earshot, Kevin and JP talked about what they learned. “He is a complete idiot to have used his own cord!” said JP.
“It was a lucky break for Hilda’s cell to be dead. Ella is so nice to help you out and then let someone else use her charger.”
“Some people are just naturally good I guess. Kevin?” Kevin was staring at Ella’s charger in the wall.
“Oh, no. It wasn’t Joshua.
“What’s wrong? Why isn’t it Joshua?”
“Look at Ella’s cord.”
JP did, but couldn’t find anything worth mentioning. It was a standard cord, just plugged in unused, curled closely because of the kinks. It dawned on him in that instant. The kinks, the kinks all cords begin with because they are tied together before they are opened. It was a brand new cord!
“Jessica could be in…” The sound of two women fighting rose from the staircase. Jessica and the murderer were fighting downstairs. Kevin and JP ran from their spot, downing the steps as fast as they could. The bandages on JP’s ankle threw him off balance down the stairs.
“MOTHER FLETCHER!” Grunts of agony erupted from his clenched teeth. His ankle was throbbing, swelling horrendously.
“Help Jessica, go now!” A moment of hesitation and Kevin bounded down the stairs to help his friend. Around the corner, muffled cries of pain. Kevin whipped around it to find Ella on the floor in a fetal position. Jessica was kicking her in the gut over and over. Ella even had a few nasty gashes on her face.
“Are you… are you alright Jessica?!” Jessica turned, red faced with a few scratches, holding her bloody left arm. Through clenched teeth, “This wench came at me with a knife! Yes I am okay.” Ella groaned and Jessica kicked her in the gut once more.
Ten minutes later the Ashley had arrived with the police, twenty minutes after that, Ella was arrested and the paramedics were taking care of Jessica’s arm. A quarter inch deep, the wound was going to be sore for a while. They even wrapped up JP’s sprained ankle. A minor tendon rip, nothing a few weeks of crutches couldn’t heal.
Ashley had drove down the gas station and thanked the good Lord above that the dispatcher believed her call. In a couple of days the group, being considered witnesses had the full story. Ella and Joshua were having an affair, as well as skimming money from the catering business. Ella had signed a prenuptial agreement, so if she had been caught she would never touch her husband’s wide array of investment stocks. Stocks that added up to over three million dollars. John Dough, her victim, somehow found out about her thievery the night before and was going to tell the authorities as well as her husband.
Ella tricked him into going near the stage at the park to bargain with him but John would not budge. Apparently, the only thing she had on her was her charge cord, which she later disposed of in the kitchen trash. When Ella went to retrieve the projector for the later cancelled Chen homecoming, she checked the surveillance cameras she set up in the company van. Intended to prevent auto theft she checked them under suspicion, deleted the section of her murder and discovered a group of friends discovering the body. Forensics was able to recover the lost footage anyway.
After returning to the building, in her desperation, Ella believed she could take on Jessica, the smallest in the group, and even admitted to planning on how to dispose of JP and Kevin. The only problem was, Jessica knew how to fight. As soon as Jessica was sliced with the knife, she grabbed, much to the media’s delight, the first weapon she could find. A pineapple. That was how Ella managed to get on the floor with the gashes on her face. One direct hit with a pineapple slap is all it took to bring her down to meet with Jessica’s sneakers.
All in all Ella was unable to plead out due to the prosecution’s strong case and was found guilty of second degree murder, attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and money laundering. Of course, because of her compliance she was sentenced to 15 years of prison with no chance of parole and then life long probation. Joshua on the other hand was sentenced to less than 2 years because all he did was steal.
A few days after sentencing, the friends met up again. “Well, two of us were injured but it was worth it.”
“Injured? I was stabbed! All you did was fall down the stairs!”
“Trying to rescue you.”
“Well I didn’t need any rescuing.”
“Obviously,” started Kevin, “You had beaten her pretty well I thought.”
“Yeah Jessica, you broke three of her ribs. Isn’t that a bit harsh?”
“Ashley, when someone comes at you with a knife, you are going to throw all those Christian morals out of the window and beat them till they drop. If not, good for you but you are still a human so you know you are going to defend yourself.”
“How about this, the next time we get together, let it not have anything to do with a murder. Agreed?” asked Kevin.
“Agreed.” They happily replied.
A few months later.
Kevin answered the phone immediately. “Jessica how are you?”
“Uh, Kevin, can you get the others and get down to my shop?” Her voice was so shaky, and Kevin could hear a police siren in the background.
“You have to see it to believe it.” Jessica turned to her beloved store, the giant metal peace sign sculpture she was so proud of, and shivered in its sight. On it tied with rope, was the body of some innocent woman. Upside down and in the lights of the police cars, her hair and blood drained face was ethereal. The latest victim of a local serial killer. One who chose his opponent by placing a body on their doorstep. And he chose Jessica.