What befits a semi-legend most? What, I ask you, on one of the last lukewarm Boston afternoons in autumn, after a long, exhausting day at work (I clocked out at practically five), with the grisly talk of murder on each and every Bostonian’s lips?
Naturally, I was doing what comes au naturally. That is, I was sitting on my fifth floor balcony with my good old friend, Mr. Appletini, right by my side. I had thrown off my work clothes, every single item, thrown on my silk kimono and plushies, and was luxuriating in the feel of the metal grillwork of the deck chair against my bare naked ass. Oh, and of course, I was talking murder with Missi.
“Utterly unbelievable!” I shouted into my cell phone, while I stared at the hairs on my big toe. “Simply shocking! Who could have done such a horrible thing to RJ?”
“I’m sure I don’t have any idea,” replied Missi. “I mean, I know a ton of people who would love to squish the life out of Danita, you know what I mean? RJ’s a real sweetie, though. Oh!” Missi meowed. “I mean, was. Was! Oh, it’s going to be so hard to talk about RJ in the past tense.”
“I willingly concede, Danita has many more enemies than her deceased husband. However, my dear girl, I can’t exactly say I was his biggest fan. The man did toss a whole glass of spirits in my face last night, after all.”
“And you did threaten to kill him.”
“And I did threaten to—ah!” I shot up from my chair, as if the metal grillwork on the patio furniture had become red, hot, and fiery. “By jove, Missi! I threatened to kill the man last night! Do you think anyone else heard me say that? I mean, besides you?”
In a complete state, I started pacing around my little balcony. Meanwhile, Missi started naming names.
“There was Kevin, of course. Oh, and my mother mentioned it this morning, too, when she heard the news about RJ.” She paused to reflect for a moment. “And, pretty much everyone sitting at the table heard you, because it was right after RJ tossed his beer.”
“Hell’s bells!” Looking for a life preserver, I grabbed at the Appletini in front of me and downed it in one gulp. “This...this is intolerable. They’re saying the man was murdered! What if...what if the police foolishly begin to suspect I had something to do with this murder most foul?”
“Hate to break this to you, sweetie, they already do.” Missi’s perpetual perkiness was becoming increasingly irritating. “I mean, of course you’re completely innocent. But for some reason, I heard from Esme, who heard from Roz, who heard that Danita is absolutely convinced you were the one who pushed her husband down the stairs. And from what I heard, she’s not been bashful about saying so.”
I gazed morosely at the emptied Appletini glass, wishing desperately it could refill itself. “Pish tosh. Why would I push RJ down a flight of stairs? Furthermore, who in their right mind would think I would ever be up that early in the morning to commit such a crime? Oh! And how do they know he was pushed down a flight of stairs, anyway? Couldn’t he have just slipped?”
“Hmmm.” Oh, fuck. Missi was clearly putting on her best Angela Lansbury “Murder She Wrote” hat. Well, if she couldn’t play Mrs. Lovett... “Maybe it has something to do with the way he fell, or—“
“Or that Danita is screaming bloody murder that I caused bloody murder? The bitch! Darling, something like RJ’s death could absolutely ruin my life! What about rehearsals for Sweeney?” Suddenly, another thought, this more chilling than the last! At this rate, I might just switch to pure vodka for the rest of the evening. “Do you...think the police might want to question me?”
“Oh. I think there’s a good chance they will, Dante.”
Well, that wasn’t much of a help.
“A good chance? Not just a slim chance or a remote chance, but a good one? There’s nothing good about it, Missi.” I staggered forward, my professional life flashing before my eyes. I could see the headlines now: Successful marketing exec and community theater fave named Public Enemy Number One!!! “I...I have to go now. Nice speaking with you, Missi.”
Like a man stricken, I hung up the phone, unable to believe how low my fortunes had dropped. Danita had clearly set herself upon a path of vengeance, and all because of a paltry piece of pastry affixed to her ass. Like a modern-day harpy, she was screaming for my arrest. It was only a matter of time before she made like a one women crowd of villagers storming Frankenstein castle, until finally the police succumbed and gathered around the exterior of my plush Brahmin apartment, guns ablazing, on the lookout for a dangerous man. Me, dangerous.
I moved to the edge of the balcony, clinging to the railing. Air, air, I desperately need some air. I needed to reclaim my calm. I needed to remember, above all else, I was innocent, that I would get through this, but all I could see in my head were swarms of policemen and a screaming harpy. Danita, cackling for my head on a pike. Poor me, led out in handcuffs wearing only my bathrobe, as swarms of reporters used old time flash cameras to capture my image. My face on the front page. Humiliating stories in the Boston Globe and Boston Herald.
Everything I had worked so hard for would be lost. Even though I would of course be found completely innocent, it wouldn’t matter. My reputation would be shot. I’d be known as the Roxy Hart of Beacon Hill.
Gah! The Roxy Hart of Beacon Hill. I pushed my head forward, trying to take in the cool autumn air, to clear my mind. Focus on the blue sky, focus on the birds flying through the fluffy cumulous clouds. Focus on the cute boy with the skateboard making his way down the street, focus on the—
Was that a police car parked outside the building?
Quickly, I ducked my head down, behind the grillwork, to avoid detection. I closed my eyes, said a little prayer. Then, slowly, I peered through the bars to see if it had only been my...no, that was a police car, all right.
There was a knock on my door.
I gasped. I visibly gasped! A policeman outside my door. Curse that bitch Danita!
On little cat feet, I crab-walked my way over from the balcony all the way to the front door of my swank apartment, then lifted myself up until I could peer into the peephole to see who exactly was on the other side. It was, it was! A man in blue. Local law enforcement. Young, in his mid-thirties. Definitely fuckable. Cruel blue eyes.
How swift, that sword of vengeance!
This was all too sudden. To go from the lead to the hunted in the space of eight short hours was more than one heart could take. Perhaps it was the Appletini talking, but there was no way I was going to open that door and face that man in blue.
Not like this. I needed some time to process everything.
My bare feet beat a path backward, out of the hallway, across the lush shag carpeting. All the while, the infernal knocking on the door continued, unabated.
Gasp, part deux! What if he grew tired of knocking? What if he tried banging down that door instead? My mind was a continuum... perhaps I should simply hide in the bedroom, pretend to be asleep...
No, no, this was all too much! I felt like a bird trapped in a cage, desperately looking to fly my way to freedom. I couldn’t bear to be in my tasteful and spacious apartment one second more, I simply couldn’t face that man in blue with the cruel eyes if he chose to bust that door down and corner me in the bedroom.
Back to the balcony. In desperation, I glanced over at Sylvia Mastadore’s weedy balcony, to my right. Hmmm, an ideal hiding spot. The old crone had filled the entire area with hideous vegetation and medical marijuana, from fore to aft—everywhere, that is, except the area facing my balcony. Naturally, so the dirty old crow could catch furtive glances of the equipment dangling from my legs whenever I chose to walk around in the buff.
Hmm, was it possible to make like a bird and fly my way to freedom? She didn’t appear to be home. If I could make it to her balcony, I could hide out behind her green weeds and no one would be the wiser.
I stood there, heart pumping, door pounding. Assessing the distance. It really was just a little jump. Yet if I missed it, I would plunge to my death, five stories down. Still, the railing looked sturdy enough...
With trembling legs, I moved to the balcony grill and grasped it firmly with my hands. Yes, it felt sturdy enough. I threw off my slippers and lifted up a leg. I placed it atop the railing and reveled in the cool rush of air between my hairy privates.
Then I made the mistake of looking down. Eep!
Could I really do this? With caution, I placed my arm against the side of the wall, to brace myself. This would have to be done quickly, otherwise people would start to notice. People noticed everything in this section of Boston. They’d probably think I was trying to jump and call for the police.
That wouldn’t be good.
I found myself hesitating. Did I really want to do this?
A louder bang on my door. “Mr. D’Agrande, are you in there?”
Towanda! Like Cathy Bates and her fried green tomatoes, I lifted myself up onto the railing. It shook a bit, but seemed to hold. That was nice, but I couldn’t stay there forever. A sense of vertigo had already taken hold.
I had to be nimble. Like a cat. One...two...
Three. I jumped. Pushed my body away from the wall, pushed back forward from the railing with both of my feet.
I was in free fall. I was flying! Mary Martin, eat your heart out!
Just as suddenly, euphoria was replaced by heartache. Little did I know, yet soon was I realize, that I had just made one of the stupidest mistakes...of my life!