“Oh yea, you bet, we had us a murder, unsolved even now, right here in Trona.” The bald old man chewed at his dentures, his eyes brightened with excitement. Rob sighed; this old coot was determined to impress them. The old turd continued, “Mos’ generally you don’t get that kind of thing out here in the high desert, you know, but we had us one, one of them unsolvable kinds of murder.”
Rob’s new wife Meeshkin squealed in pleasure. “Tell us all about it, sir. It sounds so exciting,” she gushed. They were checking in to the Sidewinder Motel and the old desk clerk had been flirting nonstop with Meeshkin since they walked in the door; the creepy old jerk. Rob knew that Meeshkin didn’t mind, she was a big flirt and especially, for reasons that were completely unknowable to Rob, she enjoyed flirting with creepy old men; like this old desk clerk.
“Well I’ll tell ya,” the old man waved his finger at them as if he was imparting great wisdom, “ya all have to watch out, ‘cause that there murderer, whoever he is, has never been caught. Mos’ generally they catch them guys, you know, those murderin’ types, but this one, he’s still on the loose. Let me tell ya about it. It happened zactly ten years ago tomorrow. Yep, zactly ten years ago to the very date.” He folded his arms, waiting for them to be impressed.
“Oh, I can’t wait to hear all about it!” Meeshkin’s eyes brimmed with excitement. Rob thought he was going to die a thousand deaths listening to this codger’s story. Rob and Meeshkin had driven from LA the night before to Las Vegas, on a whim, and gotten married earlier that morning. Rob had only known Meeshkin a few months, but she was so pretty. No, pretty was an inadequate word for Meeshkin. Her face was pretty enough, but it always exuded enthusiasm and excitement which made her seem that much more desirable. Her platinum hair was long and curly. She always wore bright colored nail polish and matching lipstick.
She was slender, but still voluptuous. She was the most glamorous, (yes, that was a better word: glamorous) girl that Rob had ever dated. And on the spur of the moment she had agreed to marry him. Rob knew he was lucky. He was short, and balding, (just starting, but noticeable), and his nose was too big and eyes set too close together. On the other hand he did have a successful dental practice, and for a young doctor, had lined up an impressive array of investments. He didn’t think he was such a slouch. Without a doubt, though, Meeshkin was the most attractive woman he had ever dated. And now they were married.
Rob looked at her and smiled. Meeshkin smiled back at him and then took a big bite out of a honey crisp apple she had brought inside with her. Pleasure reflected from her face at its taste. She was always eating fruit. She licked apple juice from her lips with her long, pink tongue. “Umm, yummy!” She winked at him.
If she was enjoying this story, Rob could put up with it for her sake. He had not wanted to even drive back through this half deserted desert town. But Meeshkin had wanted to go back to LA by way of Death Valley, and that brought them through Trona: a desolate desert town stretched along a deserted desert highway. She had suggested they stop at this moribund, sun bleached motel, and Rob had agreed, more because he was anxious for his wedding night than anything else.
“Please go on, Sir, tell us about the murder!” Her eyes sparkled with delight and she took another large bite of the apple.
“Don’t you be a-sirin’ me, missy. I may look old, but I still got me some flame in my furnace.” The old fart winked at her and Meeshkin giggled in delight. Rob’s face flushed in annoyance. “I’ll tell ya,” the geezer continued, “they found the body right out there,” he pointed out the front door toward the dry, white lake bed just opposite the motel on the other side of the highway, “way out there on the other side of the lake bed, just layin’ out there, cookin’ in the desert sun, you know, just out there roastin’ away.
“When they found it, it was all shriveled up like some ol’ Egyptian mummy. This ol’ boy looked like’n he was a thousand years old. But he weren’t. No, no, the sheriff’s deputy, he’s my buddy, Rudy Hernandez, he’s the deputy, he told me that ol’ guy all wrinkled and dried up from lyin’ in the sun was just a young’n, ‘bout your age.” He pointed at Rob. “No more ‘n that.
“An’ I’ll tell ya somepem else too. Ya know what he died of? Well, I’ll tell ya!” Oh please do, thought Rob sarcastically. “Dee-san-gree-nation.” The old man nodded his head as if he just said something very educated. “Ya know what that means? Well, I’ll tell ya!” We couldn’t stop you if we wanted to; Rob’s thoughts were scornful, but he kept his face impassive. “That means that ol’ boy had all the blood sucked outa his body. Someone, like some ol’ Dracula monster, sucked him dry of all his blood, and the desert sun sucked all the rest of his juices outa him ‘till he was all puckered up like some ol’ prune.
“An’ ya wanna know the funny part?” Rob raised an eyebrow, There’s a funny part? “Weren’t no puncture hole nowhere on ‘im, neither. All his blood was just up’n gone, but no one could tell ya how it all got sucked out. No holes, no punctures, no cuts, no nothin’.” He nodded his head again to add gravity. “Some guy jus’ sucked all the blood out of this ol’ boy, actually, this young fella, and dropped his body out there on the lake bed and left him there, no clues nor nothin’ left behind to tell who did it neither. To this day, and like I was sayin’ it been nigh on ten years come t’morrow, ain’t no one can tell ya who did it, ceptin’ him who did the killin’, and he ain’t talkin’, I can assure ya of that!”
Holy, freaking crap, are you through? Rob politely asked, “Can we have our key please?”
As they walked to their room Rob thought, what a dreadful little desert town this is. There couldn’t be more than a couple thousand people here. Many of the small decrepit, clapboard homes were abandoned, some of them burned; probably meth labs. The only obvious source of industry in town was a large chemical plant, belching smoke and noxious fumes into the dry, miserable air. There was no color anywhere, everything gray, or brown or dirty white. Evidently only a few wretched plants could grow there; no grass, no trees, no flowers, no shrubbery to speak of. The place was like an anti-garden, or maybe an ungarden. Whatever it was it was the opposite of lush. Rob thought, if I lived here and had a summer home in hell, I’d sell my home here and move to hell! His own joke brought him a little mirth and made him feel better.
Their room was no better than the town. Colorless, dry and lifeless. Meeshkin pulled a banana out of her shoulder bag. Rob glanced out the window. “I don’t suppose there’s a decent place to get some dinner.”
Meeshkin smiled at him. “Don’t worry, I have plenty of fruit.” Nothing seemed to depress her. She slowly stripped the skin off the banana. Extending her tongue she slid the white meat into her mouth and bit off the tip. Her face screwed up in pleasure. “Ummm, yummy!” Reaching into her bag again she brought out another piece of fare. “Here, do you want a peach?” Rob looked at the round, firm fruit, covered in soft pinkish fuzz.
“No thanks, I’ll wait.” Meeshkin shrugged her shoulders, and Rob stretched in feigned tiredness. “Maybe we should take a nap.” In one fluid movement he pulled his polo shirt over his head and headed for the bed. Before he flopped down, he drew back in horror. “A spider!” he exclaimed in a voice that didn’t sound as masculine as he would have liked. He hated spiders; they were hideous and repugnant.
A large, black, shiny spider was crawling across the bedspread. Its legs moving marionette style as it hurried to get away. He picked up the phone book to swat it.
“No!” Meeshkin held out her hand to stop him. “Don’t kill it. It hasn’t done anything to you.” Rob couldn’t believe it, but she picked the vile thing up between her forefinger and thumb, carefully examining it; its legs flailing in the air. “Look.” She held the spider for Rob to inspect. He tried, not very successfully, to hide his revulsion. “It’s a black widow spider. You can tell from the red hour glass on its little belly.”
“Toss it outside.” He opened the door for her. Her teeth gleaming white, she beamed at him and then place the spider down safely outside their room. It scurried away. Before Rob could react to it further Meeshkin sauntered over to him and wrapped herself in his arms. She was an odd person, he had to admit, but she was so stunning, and she was so his. They kissed.
They had both been married before. Rob in a joyless marriage of about five years. His ex had divorced him as soon as he had enough income for alimony. He didn’t know much about Meeshkin’s first marriage, other than she had been young and her first husband had been a jerk. (Meeshkin’s words). She treated him to a seductive smile. “I think a nap would be a good idea. But first, have some peach.” She offered it to him again and to be a good sport he took a large, juicy bite. She kissed him on the cheek and whispered in his ear, “See, isn’t it yummy?”
When Rob woke up he noticed two things: it was dark, and he had a killer headache. He tried to sit up on the bed but was pulled back down. Confusion swam through his thoughts and at first he couldn’t figure out where he was and what was going on.
“Oh, you finally woke up, you sleepy head.” He could hear Meeshkin’s voice, but he couldn’t see her. A flame jumped into existence, and then moved to his bedside. Rob could see Meeshkin in a suggestive robe, holding a match. She used it to light a candle on the bedside table. Gently rubbing his cheek she asked, “How do you feel?”
He tried to get up again, but could not. He tried to talk, but something prevented him from articulating words. In the dim candlelight he finally noticed that his hands and feet were tied to the bedstead, holding him down. Shaking his head he tried to clear his thoughts and remember what they had been doing. The last thing he remembered was eating a peach and laying down for a “nap”. He looked at Meeshkin, confusion and fear in his eyes.
“Ah, you don’t know what’s going on, do you?” Meeshkin leaned over him and kissed his forehead. “Well,” she paused, as if for effect, “I drugged you!” She squealed it like it was a fun surprise. “With the peach!”
Rob blinked several times. Why had she drugged him? Why had she tied him up? Why couldn’t he talk? He tried to say something, but the words came out as mumbles and groans. She sat on the bed next to him, carefully crossing her lily white legs. “Don’t try and talk, honey, you have a tube down your throat.”
A tube down my throat? He pleaded with his eyes; what the hell was going on? She patted him on the chest, and in a baby talk kind of way said, “Don’t you worry, dearie, I’ll explain everything.” Sighing, she looked at the ceiling. “Where to begin? First of all, that murder, you know the one the desk clerk was telling us about, well, guess what? I did it!” She clapped her hands at the surprise. “That’s right, I sucked out all that blood and then dropped the body way out, miles out there, on that hot, old dry lake bed. That was my first husband, and he deserved to die, that miserable old jerk. I was just a child bride,” she blinked her eyes at him with an over-the-top look of innocence on her face, “I didn’t know how else to get out of the marriage. So I killed him. I drained him of his stingy old blood and left him to bake in the hot desert sun. They didn’t find him for weeks.” She clapped her hands again and bounced up and down on the bed.
“But you’re not a miserable, old jerk, no you’re not, are you?” She ran her fingers through his thinning hair. “You are kind of homely, though. And, I do want all your money. And, I’ll sell your dental practice for a lot more money. So, I’m going to kill you too, and leave you in the desert too, so you can shrivel up like an old Egyptian mummy, and take all your money. And don’t you worry your little head at all about me hurting my back moving you around once you’re dead, because that old desk clerk will help. Again, just like he did ten years ago!”
Rob jerked violently at his homemade shackles trying to break free. He tried to scream, but only a muffled whine came out, and it caused his throat to sting. He lurched and pulled with his arms and legs, but it was to no avail. Finally, exhausted, he stopped. Meeshkin was still on the bed next to him. Still smiling that sweet, lovely smile of hers. He wanted to reason with her, plead with her. She could have all the money. She could have anything she wanted, just leave him alive.
She stood up and let her robe slide off her, revealing a scarlet baby-doll underneath. He had bought it for her in Vegas. “I bet you’re wondering how I got all the blood out with leaving a puncture wound. I’ll tell you.” Holding up the tube that was running into his mouth, holding it like the conclusion to a brilliant magic trick, she continued, “This goes through your mouth, into your throat, and into an artery. They never thought to look there for the puncture wound.
“Now, I’ll just suck out all your blood; yes I will. I can only a stomach about a quart an hour, so it will take all night.” Raising the open end of the tube to her mouth she slid it through pursed lips and took a long draught. Smiling she licked the viscous, rosy liquid from her teeth. She leaned over him, inches from his nose. “Ummm, yummy!”