“Murder at Le Château de la Reine Blanche” by matt carlson

The discovery had been made late morning by Carlotta the fortyish Bulgarian housekeeper. Her screams echoing in the 15th century courtyard. Patches was dead. Her normally propped up feet on “Bahh – bahh” her favorite sheep-like cushion were astray, at an unsettling angle, the disheveled blankets off to one side, her smart phone on the floor, crushed. The worst thing was the terrified look on Patches’ face: eyes bugging out, mouth askew, like a dead carp in the frozen goods department. Time of death was noted by the coroner at around three in the morning.

“I cannot beveive it,”  said Carlotta in her Bulgarian accent. “Voo vould keill Madame Patches? I am soo, how you say, distravt?” The used hankerchief dabbled at fake tears upon her cheeks while speaking to the police officer. She was sad, but – about the money – not about Patches death. She would no longer be paid twenty euros an hour,  a fortune in her home country.

The staff was notified that their hours would be cut back entirely, Shocked to hear about Patches’ death, most felt little sympathy for her. Big Dick (aka Nick) was a bit shaken when Clover, from the agency called him.

“What? What do you mean someone killed her? What was the cause of death?” He asked sounding upset. A possible suspect, he had had good reason to kill her after what she’d done to him time and time again. But he had appreciated the tips she gave him afterwards, its just he felt so used and woud immediately take a shower.

“Well Big, it looks like she was smothered to death by a pillow,” responded Clover. “Yet they say she had a pink pill stuck in her gullet! Being that she couldn’t take a pill without someone assisting her, that means that the person knew her…But who would give her a pill at three in the morning?”

“That is strange,” concurred Big Dick. “Smothered by a pillow? I guess that would be the easiest way….Where was Brandon? Wasn’t he upstairs as usual?”

“Well, no. He’s still in America visiting his family near Chicago….She was alone at nights – Gelledge left some time ago to live elsewhere….The killer could be anyone of us! I mean, we all hated her, right? She was so mean. Well, I mean, I wouldn’t have killed her, but sure would have loved to slap her up the side of the head a few times… ha, ha, ha – now it’s too late..!” She laughed over the phone.

“Yea, right, or maybe velcro a used diaper on her head just for laughs!” They snickered and howeled, each adding a new and fun way to humiliate the now dead Patches. “We could’ve closed the micro-wave and told her we’d leave it that way!” or “”Put her only halfway on the toilet”…It was cruel and silly, but took away some of the nervous tension. Tension that was partly about the murder, of course, but underlying sexual tension too. Clover had often wondered about the rumors concerning “Big”, and after all, he was rather attractive, tall with dark hair & a charming personality.

Big Dick also enjoyed their ‘Tête-à- tête’ discussions  and appreciated Clover’s blond hair, cute face and perky breasts – like small melons waiting to be tasted. Clover and Big Dick, co-workers who had spoken many times about their mutual hatred for Patches too – in the office or on the phone. She had been the theme of many conversations. Patches had subjected them on numerous occasions to do tasks they considered beneath them like, cleaning out the cat-box, wiping the old woman’s ass, changing her smelly shoes, separating garbage (all into the wrong containers of course- because Patches had her own vision of how garbage should be divided up)…. Needless to say, it had to be done over once downstairs where her critical eyes could not witness it. It was more than aggravating.

Patches had been an engineer, had designed space rockets, had been a high level woman manager in a practically all male managed international company. To summarize, she had had illusions of grandeur, hated men (except when she needed their penises and strength), had never experienced true love (‘Did it really exist?’), had also had her life taken away from her with Muscular Distrophy (MS),  which she was very angry about up until she died, and had taken that anger out on everyone else around her. Her daily functioning was similar to how she used to work at her company: methodical. She would, through words (because the only body part that worked was her right hand & at about 15 percent) dictate slowly and painfully each precise step that was required in a given situation to her employees, called Life Assistants (LA for short). Her body rythyms  too were quite slowed down compared to everyone else’s, so when someone came into contact with her, well, let’s say that you had to put on the brakes. Big time.

And she was plain difficult! If her clothes were to be dried for example: Patches would tell her LA which articles would not be placed in the dyer, to turn inside out a particular garment, to place a nice smelling sheet of lavender inside the machine and in such and such a manner; to regulate the dryer at the correct temperature, to hang up another article of clothing; “Shit!” that she needed her food cut up “NOW!”  as a slice of failed-to-reach-her-mouth meat slid down to the floor, then: “No! Not like that, you idiot! In 3/4 size pieces!”… That the LA was to go and find a coat hanger in the bedroom when the clothes were dry (and of course upon returning with a coat hanger, “No, not that one – there’s a red metal one on the left hand side of the closet…”) Of course, that coat hanger would never be found and an hour would be lost looking for it, sending the pour individual (it was usually a female employee) – (Patches hated women too) into a slow rage, of contempt. A slow boiling pot of oil. It would be so much easier to take things into ones own hands.

That rage would usually be disguised at the beginning (this was a paid job after all)  but with each day the hidden rage would begin to erupt in brief flashes of rebellion, a bit like stuffing large quantities of mud in a wooden box. Too much mud forced into the box, now seeping through the cracks while engulfing the latches, squishing out its “sludginess” …

Usually, the rebellion would begin with, “It might be better to do it this way, because…”

“No! No! No!” Patches would scream, like scissors cutting stems. “It’s mine and I want it like that…”

“Madame, excusez moi, but you are being unreasonable, I cannot be spoken to like this…” And so on and so forth, until the LA would eventually “lose his or her cool” leave after a few weeks or months, and be replaced by yet another poor, unsuspecting and (most importantly) ignorant (of MS) life assistant.

To be fair,  it is necessary to say  that with MS when the brain is short circuiting your brain, that words don’t always come out the way you intend. So to add confusion to misery, that last phrase might come out,” No! No! No! (with spittle) “ehhh argggh minnneee, grrr fuck, shitshitshit…” Similar to picking up needles in haystacks, so is the daily frustration of many people dealing with MS.

in trying to find words for basic things, or trying to move body parts that no longer seem to listen to orders, emotions on “overkill”, probably unintended most of the time, it was a living hell. Even Internal organs too, had minds of their own, reaping havoc on daily lives. Silent screams unheard by others, but fully experienced within.

In Patches’ mind, she was not being mean or cruel. She lived in a fantasy world of still being that Big Cheese, giving her employees daily orders and running her castle, though it was only an apartment (one of several) IN a castle. But to her, she was a queen & those daily butt washing’s’ and vaginal hose washing’s’ mere acts of hygiene ordered upon by her to her servants. The obese gourmet chef that delivered plastic containers of home prepared BIO foods was also another chain of services in that which was normal for a queen, though he didn’t live at the castle.

Dennis was from Brittany, late forties, overweight, graying hair and he loved to talk about food- notable HIS food. Loved talking. Period. Not discussing really, but talking. Him ; not you. With Patches it was perfect, because by the time she organized a phrase or comment, it would be too late, Dennis would be on to another subject that he wanted to talk about. His jaw and mental processes seem to have no distinction. A hinged mechanism: ‘I have a thought – I have to speak it’ kind of deal. If he had a thought, it just came out followed by a flow of other thoughts and comments, sometimes peppered with loud, annoying laughter. The physical therapists, the nurses, the technicians (for electronic ramps and chairs), they too, were in Patches’ mind, subjects in her royal kingdom (or queendom in this case). Dennis was one of the longest employees – he didn’t have to be there at the castle but twice a week and only for a short period, while he delivered his “Creme Truite à la Noisette” or “Mousse à le Fevre” and of course, he yakked while he delivered. So, he was spared the agony of being instructed by Patches…They even had a friendship going.(*Too bad that Patches hadn’t realized that her body shape had begun to resemble that of Dennis’, thanks to his food designs which were too high in fats, sugars & creams…)

Unfortunately, Patches had miscalculated, through perhaps, no fault of her own who she could trust. She had had no one person who guided her, who cared about her. She had had no loyal subjects; they were paid employees and only there to do a job and to be paid afterwards; even Dennis.

Patches’ perceived cruelty and explosions of anger were not all intended and there had been no one to play the role of “buffer”, to ease the angry reactions of others with calm and logic. On top of that, she had unwittingly given power to those who hated her, in those moments of frailty, of fatigue… And now as her body lay in the morgue, no one yet had noticed that large amounts of money that had disappeared from her personal bank account. Only the killer knew about that.

And now he was to implement part 2 of his diabolical plan…and it involved the castle AND her  employees…

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