Alibi a tale of suspenseAlibi

A Little Tale of Suspense

by Camille LaGuire
(First published in Futures Mysterious Anthology)

Alice was a dreamer, and that made problems for Tyler.

Sure, it was nice that she was always off plotting those best-selling thrillers she wrote, but she had taken to spending her money lately.  Lots of her money.

"It's time to enjoy it," she said, and she'd smiled at him, opening those plain brown eyes wide.  The thing was, he had been enjoying her money all along.  He didn't want to spend time in Paris with her, he wanted to go there with Sheila instead.  And the prenuptual agreement meant he couldn't get a divorce.

But Alice didn't seem to notice his edginess.  She smiled plainly and bought tickets, and he started planning ways to get rid of her.

That weekend he set up his alibi.  As far as the world was concerned, he would be out of state, at a resort.  Then he came back to her beach house before dawn, and hid under a tarp in her little motor boat.

As expected, she came down to take the boat out in the morning.  The boat rocked as she stepped in and then she cast off.  He heard her call good morning to neighbors.  That was perfect.  They saw her get into the boat alone.  She revved the engine and went bouncing out over the water.  She whooped as she hit the larger waves, and it surprised him that this quiet little woman would show any spunk.  But that was great for his plan, too.  Those neighbors would remember her reckless behavior when they heard she died in a boating accident.
When they got far enough from the shore, and she slowed the engine to go puttering along at her more normal and contemplative pace, he pushed the tarp aside and got up.

"Hello, Alice," he said.

She gasped and the boat swerved, causing it to heave as a wave hit it broadside.  He grinned and grabbed onto the low rail to steady himself.  She steadied herself and the boat, and looked at him and the gun in his hand.  He leaned his hip against the rail, and slipped a hand into his pocket, pulling out a plastic bottle with a straw, the no-spill kind athletes carry.  He wanted to make sure it wouldn't break if she fought.

"That's right, Alice," he said.  "It's over.  There's nothing you can do about it."

"You'll be caught.  You'll be the first suspected."  She gripped the wheel as if her life depended on holding it.  He shook his head slowly.

"I couldn't possibly have done this," he said.  "I'm at La Kaz for the weekend."

"That won't hold up."

"Oh, don't worry, it will.  Look, it could be painful, or it could be easy.  It's up to you."  He held out the plastic cup with straw.  "This is full of whiskey.  Drink it up."

"No."

"My other plan is to shoot you now."

She wasn't the defiant type.  She'd spent a lifetime making up stories, and thinking and plotting.  As he had expected and planned, she opted for the choice that gave her time to think.  She took the bottle, and sipped through the straw, slowly, her eyes darting as if she thought she could see the cavalry coming to rescue her.  Roger smiled.  Escape?  She couldn't even let go of the wheel.

"There's always evidence left behind," she said.  She tossed her head, but her voice was low and harsh.  He shook his head.

"Not enough.  Especially if I swamp the boat.  Drink up."

He gestured toward the bottle, and she took a sip.  Her eyes were narrow, as if thinking hard, but her eyes never left the gun, and he could see her knuckles were white from gripping the wheel. 

"If you do that, how will you get ashore?"

Stalling.  He almost smiled again.  The more she stalled, the more he could get her to drink.  That was good.

"I'll swamp the boat at Skyler's Rock," he said.  "A tricky place to navigate for somebody who's drunk, don't you think?  But easy enough for me to climb out onto the rocks.  Unfortunately you won't make it."

"They'll find something if they look," she said.

"Back to that argument?"

"The only way to get away with it is if they don't look at all.  And they will look.  If they even suspect a crime, they'll look."

"But if they don't suspect a crime, they won't," he said.  "That's why I'm going to make it look like an accident."

"You can't do that if I don't cooperate."

"If I have to shoot you?"  He smiled and shook his head.  "That's all right too.  Drug dealers and smugglers at Skyler's Rock.  You remember all the trouble they had there last year.  And the water has a way of really messing up evidence, if both you and the boat are under water."  He paused for emphasis.  "And I have proof I was never here."

"Never here," she repeated quietly.  She looked beyond him, at the sea, already withdrawn from reality.  "And you've already established it?"

"Yes."

"How did you get here?"

"By moped--hidden in the trunk of my car, which I left in a security lot.  The car hasn't left, and they won't find any sign that I've taken a rental or a bus or a plane."

"But what if somebody out there looks for you, and you aren't there?  Do you have somebody to cover for you?"

"No.  People go there for seclusion.  Long walks in their woods, on the beach.  Nobody will find it amiss if they can't find me.  Besides, who's going to look for me?"

She continued to question his plan, but he had an answer to every objection.  She had to see that it was hopeless.  Still, she chewed her lip, stalled and thought.  Maybe plotting one last attempt at escape.

"You can't swim to shore from here," he said at last, in exasperation.  "Drink up."

"Drowning is a terrible way to die," she said, and she looked him straight in the eye.  The look on her face was hard.  It almost made him flinch.  He forced a shrug.

"That's why you should get very drunk first.  You'll go quick, that way."

She was looking at the sea again, chin set with some stubbornness, nodding rhythmically as she watched the waves.  She wasn't looking toward shore, so he glanced over his shoulder, but there was nothing to help her in sight.  Just the waves and the cold cold sea she claimed to love.

"Fine," she said.  "But swimming is better.  You have to fight when you go."  She looked him in the eye again, and for a minute he thought she might fight him.  "I don't want the whiskey."

She tossed the cup in his direction.  He needed her to be drunk to make the accident look good, so he rose to catch it.  He was sure he could talk her into drinking more--maybe to delay the fatal moment.  But as he reached, she gunned the engine and spun the wheel, just as a wave hit them broadside.

He plunged into the sea.  The cold shock nearly made him numb.  He flailed and managed to break the surface.  His legs were already stiff and immobile from the cold of the water.  He thrashed with his arms, gulping brine, and he heard her shout.

"Your alibi works for me," she said.  "They'll never know you were here.  They'll never look for evidence in my boat."

And with that his sodden clothes and cold-weakened limbs drew him down, and he never heard her rev the engine and sail away.

The End

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