TEXT prose


Peter Nash



Murder in the Office of Final Editing



…They never did find the killer and for all I know Elle DuBois is still drinking in the El Paradiso.

The End.


The story was good, real good; so good I was almost ready to cash the check. All I had to do now was an edit and ensure it arrived on Joe ‘Rice’ Reynold’s desk at seven sharp. I had just signed my life away for a brand-new Harley Davidson and Rice was the kind of guy that didn’t like to wait.


Trouble Talks Twice

Three weeks before that I’d been on my fifth in the El Paradiso club, Cuba. I told myself, just one more and then walk away. Forget the whole sorry mess; catch the next plane out. Forever. The glass arrived. A fancy number, sporting two straws with sliced pineapple skewered and split twice straddling the rim.
‘Hey,’ I looked at the bartender busy drying his lily-white hands into a bright red apron, ‘I ordered a scotch on the rocks not a…’
Before I could finish, a double-honeyed voice laced with nicotine said, ‘You look like the kinda guy that could help a girl like me out.’
I caught a perfume scent through the cigar smoke and dreamt I heard the sweet sound of silk stockings stretching slowly against a pair of spiked heels.
‘What’s a dame like you…’
‘Don’t,’ she said. ‘What’s your name?’
I took my time assembling the words, but she beat me to the punch.
‘I like a man that takes his time.’
‘I like a dame that knows what she wants,’ I replied. ‘Where the hell have you been?’   
‘More to the point,’ she said flicking her ash straight at me, ‘Where the hell have you been?’


I poured a stiff drink and took a good slow hit then read this part of the story again. I knew it flowed ok, but something wasn’t right. I poured another double rye, took my time and read it again. Then it smacked me. Hard. Of course. Of course, it didn’t add up. If Elle DuBois had been on the level there was no possible way she could have been in the El Paradiso club when she said she was. I double checked her story with my notes. There it was. She told me she had been drinking pina coladas in the El Paradiso with her friend Joan, and Joan’s new guy Eddie, at 4:20 and at exactly 4:35 the three of them had caught a cab across town to the Green Flamingo.

I compared her version with Joan’s story. According to my journal Joan had said that before their rendezvous with Elle in the El Paradiso, they were at Havana Joe’s café waiting for Captain and Mrs Waterhouse to take them out cruising on the bay. I distinctly remembered asking them what time that was. And I remembered how they both replied that the time had been 4:15, and that they were sure of it because it was always at that time Pepe the owner of Havana Joe’s went upstairs for a nap and usually didn’t reappear until quite late in the evening. This was important because if Charles and Irene Waterhouse were still at home while Eddie and Joan were drinking coffee at Havana Joe’s, then that meant the killer was definitely at the Waterhouse’s residence before they vanished. I went back to the beginning of the story.

‘The End.’ Those words didn’t seem so final now, and that lousy check looked like it might bounce.

I was out of rye so I selected a bottle of Bombay Sapphire from the arch-top cabinet with the burled walnut cabriolet legs, poured a good amount and went through it all again. I had the suspects in the right location and timed correctly, I was convinced of it. The way I figured it was, if it usually took Charles and Irene Waterhouse twenty minutes to arrive at Havana Joe’s from their residence further around the Bay it would have been impossible for Elle DuBois to have been in the club lounge of the El Paradiso at 4:25 like she claimed. I poured another shot, slammed it fast and checked the clock.

Painstakingly, I wrote down everything I could find in my notes, even reading through the initial entries I had long since discounted. According to my records Elle DuBois was in the El Paradiso at 4:20, and then left with Joan and Eddie in a taxi on their way to the Green Flamingo at 4:35, while I was on my way to talk with Elle at the El Paradiso. If this was true, then how the hell could I have missed the detail about Eddie and Joan drinking coffee at Havana Joe’s at the time they claimed. Another tall one over extra ice and I went back to it.

The hell with Eddie, Joan and Elle. Work backwards from the Waterhouses and try to figure it out that way. They had never arrived at Havana Joe’s to meet Eddie and Joan like arranged, and it wasn’t until two days later that both of their bodies had washed up twenty miles away on the eastern shore. I was certain I had everyone in their place and squared away. Elle DuBois at 4:20pm waiting for me in the El Paradiso. Joan and Eddie at Havana Joe’s waiting for the Waterhouses. Captain and Mrs Waterhouse missing from around the time they were supposed to keep their appointment with Eddie and Joan.

Then I realised that if Elle had been lying all along and hadn’t gone with Joan and Eddie to the Green Flamingo and if Pepe didn’t take a nap upstairs every day like Joan and Eddie said he did, then why were the Waterhouses missing their index fingers and the third toe on each left foot when they were found by Santo the fisherman?

Maybe it was the gin. So I went over to the fridge, pulled out an ice cold long-neck and chugged it in one swallow. Sat on my old crate covered with the Mexican blanket and killed Elle Dubois, Joan, Eddie, Irene, Charles, Pepe and Santo, then tore up the story and started again.

The End.




Peter Nash is an Honours student studying creative writing at Griffith University.


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Vol 21 No 2 October 2017
General Editor: Nigel Krauth. Editors: Kevin Brophy, Enza Gandolfo & Julienne van Loon
Creative works editor: Anthony Lawrence