Cookin' With Poison by D. Wescott Gouldner

Cookin' With Poison

by D. Wescott Gouldner


It had to be one of Paul's two lovely sisters-in-law who'd known the old man was coming … and baked a cake.


Table of Contents
  1. The Day After the Funeral
  2. Body of a Little Old Man
  3. The Overcoat
  4. Ever Heard of Bert Larkin
  5. One of Those Guys
  6. The Sour Note
  7. A Woman Entering His Room

Chapter 1

The Day After the Funeral

When Paul went down to breakfast, the day after the funeral, he was relieved to notice that some of the tense unreality of the atmosphere was gone. He could hear Marilyn and Jennifer at breakfast, while the cook was making noises in the kitchen.

"Sorry I'm so late," he apologized, as he entered the cheerful dining room.

Jennifer looked up at him, her gray eyes still faintly circled with dark rings.

"It's quite all right," she said. "You could have slept longer if you wished. Coffee?"

"Thanks," he replied, sliding into a chair opposite Marilyn.

He was still pondering about Jennifer, Ernie's wife. She was about thirty and, while she was not so lushly beautiful as Marilyn, she had a charm that made his heart beat faster. Her low voice … the effortless way she moved … the glint in her eyes that suggested hidden fires. … He wondered, cynically, if bluff, hearty Ernie's appeal had been the only reason he had won this prize or whether his adequate bank roll had anything to do with it.

He noticed that Marilyn looked even more weary than Jennifer. Her eyes were swollen and there were muddy streaks under them. Surely Ernie's death could not have affected Jennifer's sister more than it did Jennifer. Or could it?

Further speculations were interrupted by a long peal from the doorbell. Jennifer went to answer it. In a few minutes she returned, her face pale and drawn.

"Someone to see you, Paul."

"Me?" he stared, rising from his chair. "Who on earth knows me here?"

"Please go," said Jennifer. "It's important."

He went to the door to find a young policeman standing there.

"You Paul Fabian?" he asked.

"Why, yes. But what —?"

"Will you come with me, please?"

"What for?" demanded Paul. "Is anything wrong?"

"We want you to identify someone," the officer said.

Not understanding in the least, Paul went to get his overcoat. He looked in the hall closet but he could only find several of Ernie's. To avoid delay, he took one although it was several sizes too large for him.

The policeman looked at him curiously as he appeared in the baggy coat but said nothing. Paul climbed in the car and they drove in silence to the small office that was the local police station.

Inside were two other officers and a man, behind a large desk, who was wearing a quantity of gold braid that led Paul to assume he was the Chief of Police.

"Howdy, Mr. Fabian." The gold-braided man rose and shook his hand. "I'ni Chief Walker. I'd like to say here and now I was sorry to hear about Ernie's sudden death. He was a real nice feller and everybody liked him."

"Thank you, Mr. Walker," said Paul. "But would you mind explaining what this is all about?"

"Is this yours?" asked Walker, taking a coat from one of the men who had just returned from an inner room.

Paul stared. He picked it up and looked at the contents of the pockets and saw that without question it was his overcoat.

"How on earth did it get here?" he demanded.

"Just what we'd like to know. You see, Mr. Fabian, this coat was found in the woods about three miles from Ernie's house. It was used to cover up the body of a dead tramp."

Paul sat down weakly in a chair. It was fantastic! He had worn that coat at Ernie's funeral yesterday. He was sure he had put it in the clothes closet on his return and hadn't touched it since. He told this to Walker, who shook his head and pursed his lips doubtfully.

"S'pose you take a look at the body," he suggested. "Could be you know him."

"It's not very likely. I haven't even been in town in five years and people change a lot in that time." He was not anxious to look at any dead bodies.

"I think you better anyhow," insisted Walker.

He led him into the back room where a body was stretched out on a table. He lifted a comer of the sheet that covered it and Paul looked.

~ End of Sample ~