Here's part of a chapter from my manuscript-in-progress, Danced To Death. It is unabashedly southern, and hopefully pretty funny. In this section, Krystle Lynn Dennis, her mother, Donna Mae Dennis, and a friend, Jill, are attending a memorial service. One of Donna Mae's co-workers at The Jiggle Factory, (a strip club in thier small Georgia town) has been murdered. It's rough, not quite a first draft, but I hope it has good bones!
When we got back to the trailer, everything was dark. Bill came in with me, just to make sure that the Reverend Jimmy wasn’t crashed out on the sofa, but we found a note pinned on the centerpiece goose that said Mama had taken him home in my car, and that she was asleep already. I was anxious to let her know about Daddy’s request, but she would be rising early to attend Tara’s memorial, so I wrote her a note, kissed (sigh) Bill goodnight, and turned in.
Mama is a star even when she is just standing around breathing and smoking. But when she emerged into the living room Tuesday morning, she was a vision. She wore a skintight black sheath, with an off-the-shoulder cut that showed off her amazing cleavage and lovely shoulders. Her normally vibrantly shadowed eyes were bare except for a thick band of black liner, and strategically applied false lashes. Her mouth was a slash of shiny red, and a few strands of hair escaped from underneath a huge black veiled picture hat, to twine seductively around her throat and collarbones. She came into the room with long strides, on four-inch open-toed black patent pumps, pulling on elbow-length gloves of black kidskin, juggling a cigarette between her hands as she worked her long fingers into the gloves.
“Morning, Krystle, honey. Are you coming to the service?” She stared pointedly at my plain dark slacks and blazer. My hair was braided and my feet were comfortable in black leather ballet flats. I just don’t have the flair for fashion that she has.
I ignored the question, and the looks she gave my hair and bare face. We needed to leave in a hurry, since we had to make a stop on the way. Jill couldn’t stand to be out of the loop on anything, so she had begged me to pick her up on my way to the club. Yes, I said club. Tara’s parents were a couple of reprobates. She hadn’t had any contact with them in years. And she hadn’t been a churchgoer, either, so Lamar had offered the use of The Jiggle Factory. Sweet man.
“Did you call Daddy?” I called over my shoulder on my way out the door. Mama can be stubborn, and she was probably getting a kick out of making Daddy wait, but I was dying to know what Daddy had meant when he said things were “heating up”.
“I’ll call him this afternoon. I’m grieving right now.” She said between frantic puffs on the cigarette.
I gave up and got into the Pink Eagle. I had it in reverse before Mama took her last puff and slid in the passenger side. We headed down the lane towards the highway, Mama’s elegant gloved hands holding her huge hat down as the wind whipped through the t-tops.
There were several cars already parked in the lot adjacent to the Jiggle Factory when we arrived about twenty minutes later. I spotted Lamar’s big Harley near the door, and the Reverend Jimmy’s Lincoln pulled discreetly into a corner near the back of the lot. The other cars belonged to the dancers and the few friends outside of work that Tara had managed to accumulate. Jill and I exchanged glances when we realized that Jared O’Brien’s big Dodge truck was missing.
Inside, the tables had been taken away, probably into the back room, and the chairs were lined up in rows of ten across. Only a few were occupied, as most of the mourners were clustered around the bar, where refreshments were laid out. It looked like potluck to me. I counted three hams and two buckets of chicken, and three distinctly different types of chocolate cake. I grabbed a plate and helped myself to some ham and a cup of coffee, then I grabbed Jill and we found three chairs in the front row.
“So, do you think he’ll come?” Jill asked around a mouthful of deviled egg.
“Who?” I was thinking of Bill, who had already told me that he couldn’t be there. He’d taken the morning off to retrieve his new wheels and some other personal stuff in Atlanta. I couldn’t wait to see his little Porche. I wondered if it would get along with The Pink Eagle. Maybe it would be a snob.
“Jared, of course! The killer always returns to the scene of the crime, you know. And plus, they can’t stay away from the funeral either. If he shows, it’ll be a dead giveaway.” Jill is a die-hard mystery fan.
“He’ll be here. He was her boyfriend, after all.” I rolled my eyes at Jill. She would’ve just loved to see that ass Rodney wrestle Jared to the ground right in the middle of poor old Tara’s memorial service. She craves excitement.
But as I looked around, I did wonder why he hadn’t arrived yet. The dancers at The Jiggle consider themselves a family, and the room was full of them. And there were a few patrons milling around, too. So where was the person who was supposed to have been closer to her than anyone? Even a jerk like Jared O’Brien wouldn’t be late to his girlfriend’s send off party
I looked around at the familiar faces of Mama’s co-workers. Everyone else was there, except for Wanda Jean. She had been so overwrought at Tara’s death that I couldn’t imagine why she wasn’t front and center at the funeral.
“Where’s Wanda Jean?” I whispered to Imogene, the leggy brunette seated next to Jill.
“Probably couldn’t remember what day it is.” She whispered back.
Jill’s head was swiveling back and forth, taking in the room full of sniffling, snacking women. It must have been like a different planet to her in there.
“Do you think they’re wearing underwear?” She whispered loudly to me.
I fixed her with my most scathing glare. Of course they were wearing underwear. Lamar runs a clean joint; he would never allow a funeral full of pantieless beauties.
“Jill, try to remember that we’re here for a reason. Have a modicum of class.”
The chairs around us were beginning to fill, as the time for the service drew near. Mama folded her long body into the chair next to mine, and I couldn’t help glancing over to check for signs of a bra. Thank goodness her moneymakers appeared to be safely harnessed in some sort of strapless number.
“Can you believe that son-of-a-bitch Jared isn’t here, yet?” Mama whispered. “I mean, you’d think he would want to admire his handiwork.” Mama tries to be hardnosed and callous, but she is as tenderhearted as the next person, and her detached attitude crumbled when she remembered that poor Tara had been brutally murdered. She began to sniffle under her veil. I reached into my purse for a tissue, but she beat me to the punch, drawing a black, lace-edged hankie from her cleavage.