You have to understand, Officer. I never meant to kill Susanna. It was an accident, one of those things that happens so fast you don't realize what you've done until it's over. You know what I'm talking about, right?
No? You don't? Then let me explain. I was--
What's that? Start at the beginning? Where else would I start?
Anyway, I was visiting my aunt and uncle in Ocean City. No, the one in Maryland. I like it better there too. Well, my aunt and uncle run this little place just off the coastal highway. It's a condo rental joint. Because the owners let them stay there year-round, they gave me a discount if I rented a condo for a month. I figured, what the hell, I've got nothing better to do.
I'm sorry? What was I doing before I went to Ocean City? I had a job with a detective agency. We did security for the industrial plants and factories in Philadelphia. I had to drive one of those Smart cars around the premises and shine my flashlight in the windows. Can you see me trying to fit my fat ass into one of those tiny electric cars? And every time I had to check on the paper mill, that poor thing would be coated in dust. And the bitch of it was that--
I'm sorry, Officer. I get a little carried away sometimes.
As I was saying, I cashed in a month's vacation and went down to Ocean City. I rented the condo from my aunt and uncle and really didn't know what to do with myself. I helped my uncle with some of the condo maintenance, changing light bulbs and cleaning up puke from the kids on spring break, stuff like that. Nothing to get me into any trouble.
I'd been at the condo for five days when I noticed somebody moving into a condo down from mine. It was Susanna and her husband, what's his name, Julian. I remember telling myself that it sounded like a girl's name. Being the neighborly fellow I am, I went down to their car and asked Susanna if she needed help with her luggage. I'm well aware she had a husband to do that for her, but the problem was he wasn't exactly doing it, if you get my drift.
I carried Susanna's bags up for her and got introduced to her husband. He said to call him Jules. That sounded even more girly, but I rest my case. Jules was some kind of big shot in the New York business world, was really making a name for himself in real estate, which I hear is in short supply up there. He gave me his business card and told me to look him up if I ever wanted a vacation home in upstate New York.
Yeah, like I could afford his prices.
Jules reminded me of my boss back at the detective agency. He thought that because he'd been a homicide detective for eight years it made him better than the rest of us. One of those people who think their shit don't stink, you know. That's the way Jules was. He kept giving me this look like I didn't belong in that nice of a condo.
When I told him my aunt and uncle ran the joint, he seemed even less impressed, like he had read my mind and learned they had given me a discount. Susanna was impressed, though. That made me feel better about myself, I have to admit.
Hmm? Would I like a cigarette? No thanks. I gave that up years ago.
What about Susanna? Was she pretty? Oh, hell yes. One of the most beautiful women I'd ever seen. She had this long blond hair that stopped right above her tits and kind-of framed them, you know? You could tell she stayed in shape by how slim she was. Not stick figure thin, you understand, 'cause I hate women like that. Susanna had some muscle on her bones. Plus, she had these great tits that weren't implants like so many of these girls have today. Hers were natural. Now don't get me wrong, they weren't huge or anything, like those Bolivian women in National Geographic. Susanna's tits were the perfect size.
I'm sorry, I'm offending the lady officer over here. You have to understand something, miss. This is how guys are wired. This is what we look at when we see a beautiful woman. Sometimes men are just a dick and two eyes, you know?
Well, the night Susanna and Jules moved in, I couldn't sleep to save my life. The heat was suffocating me like a pillow over the face, and those lousy air conditioners I had helped my uncle install weren't doing shit to cool me off. Even my sheets were soaked with sweat, you know? It was one of those summer nights where you just can't get any reprieve from the heat.
I stepped outside for a minute to get some air, which was a mistake, since the breeze was one of those warm breezes that just took your breath away. I looked out across the parking lot and saw Susanna and Jules sitting in their car. It looked like one of those, what are they called, Outbacks? Anyway, the engine wasn't running, and I could tell 'cause there wasn't anything coming out of the exhaust pipe. They were just sitting there, like they were waiting for something.
Then they got out of the car. Both of them were dressed all in black--shirts, pants, shoes, gloves, and masks. Jules had a crowbar. Susanna carried a double-barreled sawed-off shotgun. Jules took the crowbar and pried open the door to one of the condos downstairs. My condo is two floors up, so they didn't see me watching them. I could hear them tearing the place apart, really giving it a toss. About ten minutes later, Susanna went back to the car. Jules followed her a minute later. They got in it and drove away.
Why didn't I call the cops? Because it's none of my business, that's why. I didn't need to know why they broke into an unoccupied condo and tossed it like they were looking for something. Wasn't any business of mine, Officer, and I've learned the less I know, the better off I am.
I fell asleep sometime in the early morning and sawed logs until noon. When I got up and went outside, Susanna and Jules's car was back in its spot. There was a police car in the lot too, and there were two cops--I think one of them might have been you, Officer--talking to my aunt and uncle about the break-in. Jules and Susanna were standing outside their condo and watching the commotion downstairs with suspicious looks on their faces. They lost those looks when I came over and started bullshitting with Jules about the break-in.
I tell 'ya, the guy could've won an Oscar. He was as cool as McQueen in Bullitt. You ever see that movie, Officer? No? You should, it's not bad. The only good part's the car chase, though.
Jules never gave any hint that he was behind the break-in. Susanna played it cool, too, but not as good as Jules. I could tell she was still new to the whole duplicitous life business. When she went back inside the condo, she gave me this look women have--again, apologies to the lady officer here--that says you know something about her she doesn't want you to know...and that she's ashamed of.
I couldn't stay inside the condo anymore, so I took a trot down the boardwalk. I spent most of the day hanging out with food vendors, shop owners, and playing games in the arcades. What can I say, old habits die hard. Near the end of the boardwalk, where it levels off onto the beach, Susanna was standing in a one-piece and some cut-offs that were killing me. She suggested we take a walk along the beach. Who was I to argue with a beautiful woman?
"You like me, don't you?" she asked me.
"I think you know the answer to that," I told her.
"You said your aunt and uncle run the condos, right?" she said.
"They do," I said. "What do you want?"
"Jules and I can't risk another break-in," she told me. "That's where we need your help."
"Susanna, I like you," I started to say, "but I don't love you."
"What does that matter?" She was starting to get pissed at this point, you understand.
"If I loved you, I'd get the keys you're looking for and help you find whatever it is you need to find," I explained. "Because I don't, the answer's no, sweetheart."
And that's when Susanna reached up and kissed me, tongue and all. By the time I'd started to kiss her back, she'd broken away, and she had this hateful expression on her face.
"You're going to regret this," she said to me, and walked away.
"I already do," I said to her. And that was how the conversation ended.
Did you get all of that, Officer? Good, because the next part's a doozy.
No, I don't want a cigarette. I said...ah, hell, what does it matter? Just one can't hurt. Probably help calm my nerves, anyway.
Like I was saying, I watched the sun go down over the water and walked back to my condo. That damn heat was setting in for the night, so when I got inside I cranked up the air conditioners and took off my clothes so I could take a shower. Sometimes that helps, sometimes it doesn't. Depends on how hot it is, I guess. Anyway, I was down to my Jockeys and I had the shower running when the door to the condo busted open and two people dressed in black ran in, like those Stormtroopers from Star Wars.
You ever see that movie, Officer? Of course you haven't. Nobody remembers the original Star Wars.
Anyhow, I knew it was Jules and Susanna, so I didn't bother with pleasantries. I looked at the barrels of Susanna's shotgun and told them to get the hell out before I threw them out.
Jules said something about "you and what army" and started tearing up the carpet, while Susanna ripped the pictures off the walls and tossed the couch over. I just stood there and let them do it, since all I had on were my skivvies and I was in no mood to become a corpse, you understand. They did a thorough search of my condo, from kitchen to bathroom to bedroom, until Jules made a noise from my bedroom closet.
Susanna kept the shotgun trained at my head as Jules hefted this dusty old suitcase into the living room. It was that seventies puke green color and was made of that hard plastic they made everything out of back then. Jules opened the case and threw the lid up, and out tumbled these stacks of money. Real money, Officer. Lots and lots of it.
Susanna ripped off her mask and Jules removed his. He took a stack of money and kissed it. Then he kissed Susanna and grabbed a bit of her ass while he was at it. Susanna tossed the shotgun onto what was left of the couch and started leafing through the money in the suitcase. It was a rookie mistake, you know? She got over-confident and let go of the weapon.
No, they didn't teach me that at the detective agency, Officer. I got that from a movie I saw once. I can't remember the name of it, though.
Jules came back into the room with another suitcase and opened it. This one was full of even more money. I knew enough about these things to realize they were going to kill me now that they had what they were looking for, so I decided it was about time for some self-preservation.
Before I could start on that, Jules started feeling up Susanna. I don't know what came over me when I saw his hands all over her. Jealousy, I guess. All I know is I lunged for the shotgun, got my hand around the trigger, and felt Susanna tug on the barrel. She pulled it her way and my finger bumped the trigger. That's all, Officer, just a little bump. I didn't know she'd cocked it already. Regardless, there was this huge bang, and I couldn't hear anything for the next few seconds, and in those seconds, Susanna fell to the floor, her insides splattered all over the walls.
When I got my hearing back, my ears were ringing with the sound of Jules's screaming. He was cradling Susanna's dead body in his arms, her blood making dark stains on his clothes. By the time Jules turned to me, my aunt and uncle were standing outside the open door, and all they saw was the shotgun in my hands, a dead woman, and a man yelling "You killed her! You killed my sweet Susanna!"
And that's the whole story, Officer, from start to finish. It was all an accident, like I said before. I never meant to kill Susanna. I just wanted to defend myself.
Why was their money in my closet? Is that what you're asking me? Well, here's how I see it: Jules and Susanna had this scam where they pose as New York real estate brokers but are actually low-life thieves. They probably robbed somebody of their life savings last summer and stored it in my condo, which according to my aunt and uncle, they had rented last year. Since the money was hot, they figured they'd let it cool off for a while. When this year came around, and they tried to get the same condo, they found out it was rented to me. So they got the one next to mine and kept an eye on me, trying to figure out whether I was a sucker or not. Boy, did they ever find out, huh?
The first robbery? Why did they do that? Probably as a test run to see how you guys would respond. Maybe they're dyslexic and got the condo numbers screwed up. Maybe you ought to ask the lady officer over here and see if her woman's intuition can solve the case.
What's that, Officer? The money? Oh, I'm sure it'll turn up. Money always has a way of coming back around.
Like I've been saying, it was an accident. Accidents happen all the time.
Well, Officer? Am I free to go or what?