Thursday, April 18, 2019

Take a Bite Outta Crime Part 23 by Dellani Oakes

At the modeling gig, Kirk and Margo discover a lot of oddities. For one thing, no one is really talking to each other. Also, the food is virtually untouched. Everyone seems afraid to eat.

"What do you mean? We've offered trays to everyone."
"Yeah, but until they saw the new guy was fine, they didn't dare touch it. Weird things happen when you eat the food—that's the scuttlebutt anyhow."
"Not ours! Our food is prepared with the greatest care!"
"The other caterer...." He shrugged uncomfortably. "I dunno, can't explain it. Folks got sick, went home, never saw them again."
"Only the models?"
"Crew too. I mean, you expect a little of that kind of thing once in awhile, but every job?"
"You work for Andres a lot?"
"The company owner, Andres Cavedo."
"Oh, thought it was some holding company somewhere."
"Every holding company has someone holding the company," Tommy said with a wink.
"I dunno from Adam," the gaffer replied, his mouth full. "But this food is kick ass! I never seen you guys here before."
"This is our first job for Mr. Cavedo. If he gets a good response, he'll keep us on."
"Sweet! Boss will hear from me." He dusted his hand on his jeans before extending it to Tommy. "Gene. Gene Schwartz. Delicious. I mean it. Not even my grandmother cooks this good."
"Thanks. I'll extend your compliments to the chef." The truth was, Tommy had prepared most of it himself, with only a modicum of Drea's supervision.
The day finally over, they packed up and went home. The following day, Margo and Kirk had a runway show. Both were nervous. Coming in at the last minute, they hadn't had much chance to practice. The elegant sunken living room became the seating and the area before the kitchen and dining room gave satisfactory space for strutting.
With running commentary from Carley, Drea and Tommy, they found the right expressions to convey utter boredom with not only the show, but their attire. Tommy found it highly amusing that Margo flaunted her figure while sporting a sweatshirt and bunny slippers.
Margo finally flopped on the couch, massaging her cheeks. "I'd forgotten just how exhausting being beautiful is. Carley, how on earth do you stand it?"
"It's not so hard. I do what they tell me and stand where they want me. Sure, it's crazy hours and can be tiring, but it's pretty easy work, all things considered. The money is good. Dad always says—said...." She started sniffling. "Nice work if you can get it. He worked so hard. I wanted to make a lot of money so he could sell his business and retire. He was a good man," she whispered. "Why would anyone want to kill him?"
"We want to find that out, Drea said, hugging her. And we will, honey. Your dad was a great guy. He always treated us well—gave us first pick of his fish. I wish we'd had the chance to get to know him better, but he was always in such a hurry."
Carley smiled through her tears. "He used to say that fish take on an unwelcome odor if left on the truck too long. He tried to be prompt so his customers got the freshest and best.... I don't understand why anyone would hurt him. He hadn't even met Andres. He knew I was seeing someone new...."
It was Kirk's turn to comfort her. He put his arms around her in a very fatherly fashion. Without saying a word, he conveyed that strength and warmth of character that had so endeared him to Drea when they first met. He'd come a long way from his humble beginnings.
Drea smiled with an almost maternal pride at her handsome spouse. Carley eventually stopped crying and even managed a smile or two when Kirk and Margo continued their fashion show with Tommy providing ridiculous commentary. The practice session turned into an impromptu party until Andres showed up unexpectedly at the front door.
"Darling!" Carley rushed to his side. "What are you doing here?"
"I thought I should tell you someone else has disappeared."
"Today? We watched everyone," Tommy said.
"Who?" Drea asked quietly.
"Some technician. Not one of us. No one I ever heard of. I didn't even know he worked for me."
"Gene?" Tommy asked. "Gene Schwartz?"
"How did you know?"
"I talked to that guy! He said it had something to do with the food. People ate the food, got sick and never came back."
"He's right," Carley said. "Vincent, all the others, ate and got sick. They went home early. The driver took them."
"Driver?" Andres frowned. "I don't hire drivers. Waste of money to keep some guy hanging about sucking down the free food and taking up space. Most of the time, they hit on my models, and interfere with the workings of the shoot. Some of them fancy themselves models and want a gig. After one of them took a swing at the director, I quit having them about."
"Really? There was always this guy hanging around who said he was the driver. Every time someone disappeared, he was there. Oh, my God! You mean he was the one taking people?"
"I fear so," Andres said. "This is terrible. How did I not notice him?" He played with Carley's hair, wrapping it around his fingers.
© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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