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No body, no crime

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Linda hated high school reunions. Although she’d never been to one, the thought of it truly disgusted her. If it wasn’t for Gerald’s insistence that “these people care about you, Linda. They wouldn’t have invited you if they didn’t want you to come” that she finally accepted an invite.

 

She supposed it would be nice to look down on all the people who had treated her like shit now that she was better and more successful than them. Almost everyone who was going to be there had most definitely peaked in high school. A shame, really. Some of these people could’ve had great careers all across the state. Hatchetfield was the problem. She thought it must have some magnetic pull to it. Not many people came and went if she really thought about it. The recent exception being Emma Perkins who had returned from Guatemala after the unfortunate death of her sister.

 

Linda had been at the funeral, again, at Gerald’s insistence. It turned out Gerald had been close with Jane in college. Linda didn’t bat an eye at that though, she knew Gerald was smitten for her. At the service she couldn’t help but notice the absence of Becky Barnes. She had assumed that with Jane out of the way, Becky could once again begin to pursue Tom Houston. She didn’t even see Becky until the next day, wearing dark clothes and sunglasses even though it was cloudy, as if she was also in mourning. It wasn’t until the next week when her friends at the Boating Society informed her that Stanley had run off with another woman that it began to make sense.

 

Linda was delighted to find out that none of these people actually wanted to talk to her, they had just invited her to the reunion out of politeness. Usually, she would’ve been mad at them for wasting her precious time but after recently giving birth to her fourth son she was desperate to get out of the house. She was grateful to be left alone in the corner of the venue nursing a glass of wine while listening to the various conversations that were being had around the room.

 

At some point, Ted from CCRP sat in a chair next to her. Clearly he had tried his luck at convincing some woman to come home and sleep with him and failed miserably. Linda stalled as long as she could before looking at him, knowing full well what was about to go down.

 

“Linda! Haven’t seen you around in a while. You’re not usually at these things, are you.” He smiled at her. It would’ve been sweet if she didn’t know what he was up to.

 

“No, I’m not. Hey, don’t try anything, you know i’m not available.” Linda held up her left hand for Ted to see her wedding ring.

 

“Hasn’t stopped me before.” He replied smugly, nodding his head towards a group of women in the middle of the room consisting of Sylvia, Charlotte and Nora from Beanies. It took her a moment before she realised that Charlotte was the only one married amongst them.

 

“Charlotte?! I don’t believe you. She would never stoop to your level.”

 

“Ah, you’d think that, wouldn’t you.” Linda thought for a split second that she saw something in Ted’s eyes. Adoration, perhaps? Though Linda ignored the thought as Ted wasn’t capable of such a thing.

 

“I still don’t believe you. Even if it was true, Sam will be pissed if he finds out.”

 

“Well it’s a good thing he won’t find out, isn’t it. Anyway, doesn’t he have a side piece too?” Ted replied surprisingly relaxed.

 

“He does.” Linda responded nonchalantly. “Apparently it’s one of the baristas from Beanies.”

 

“Perkins?” Ted frowned.

 

“No! Didn’t you hear she and Paul are dating, I thought you and him were friends?”

 

“Of course we’re friends, we work together.” He scoffed. “Shame about her sister though.”

 

Linda barely even knew Jane yet it seemed like she was everywhere. Some people at the boating society praised her endlessly. Allegedly she was a top notch physiatrist though she had heard rumours that Jane wasn’t actually all that she seemed to be. It had come out that Jane hadn’t been in the best mental state in the months leading up to the crash. Tom was devastated when the news got out.

 

Linda scanned the room again. Not looking for anyone in particular until her eyes landed on a flash of red hair. Becky. “You didn’t happen to see Becky at the funeral, did you?” she asked out of the blue.

 

“Don’t think so.” Ted sighed.

 

“You’d think she would be using the opportunity to go and get Tom back. Maybe she is more decent than I remember.” She chuckled lowly.

 

“You don’t still speak to her?” Ted spotted Becky and frowned.

 

“We never really did.”

 

Ted hummed quietly. “Well I see this isn’t going anywhere so I guess i’ll leave you to it.” Linda smiled gratefully at him.

 

“See you around, Spankoffski.”

 

Once Ted had left Linda’s eyes landed back on Becky. She was talking politely to Bill. Linda thought she looked tense but then again she didn’t think Becky had been fully relaxed since high school. Immediately Linda knew that Stanley was bad news, she knew from the moment she first saw him. She was glad that Stanley had skipped town and thought that Becky should’ve been relieved too. Maybe she was just hurt by the fact that Stanley would leave her. It seemed as though Becky was more on edge now than when Stanley was around. She was probably worried about her image, she knows she would be.

 

Gerald, being the sweet guy that he was, offered to look after the kids while Linda took Honey, their dog, on a walk in the late evening. Linda was thankful for the next hour or so that she would get to be away from the kids again. It was desperate times and she took all the chances she could get.

 

She knew River had soccer practice early the next morning so she hoped Gerald would be able to get them into bed at a reasonable time. Linda got out her phone to text Gerald a strongly worded text about how she would kill him if he couldn’t get things under control when her grip on the leash loosened and Honey began to run towards the forest.

 

“Honey!” Her text would have to wait. Linda started speed walking towards the direction that her dog ran. She couldn’t run in her heels, that would be preposterous. She wished she had listened to Gerald and chosen some better shoes but now was not the time to be thinking like that.

 

Linda heard Honey bark once or twice and followed the noise until she reached her precious pup. She appeared to have found something that took her interest and was sniffing at the ground. Linda noticed with displeasure that there was an unfamiliar stench that made her want to throw up. All she knew was that she had to get Honey out of there before she started smelling like whatever was assaulting her senses.

 

Linda swiftly hooked the leash back onto her dog's expensive collar and attempted to pull her away from the woods when a glint of light on the ground nearby caught her eye. She thought it was her mind playing tricks on her but when she saw it again she moved closer.

 

Whatever it was was quite small and dirty. A dry reddish brown substance covered most of the surface. It didn’t take long for Linda to realise that it was a knife that was covered in… blood?

 

Surely not. Linda got a whiff of the smell around her once more. God, it smelled like a rotten corpse.

 

Linda froze. No, this was her mind messing with her. She began pulling at the leash again but Honey would not budge. Linda walked closer to the dog so that she could pick her up instead when she finally saw what Honey had been so interested in.

 

“Holy shit!!”

 

That was definitely a dead body. There was no doubt about it. Linda’s hand clasped itself over her mouth. She was so shocked that she almost dropped the leash again. Linda thought that she should probably go to the police about this but remembered that they were just as useless as her kids.

 

The corpse looked similar to how they would look in movies which was gross. The weird thing was that Linda couldn’t immediately find a stab wound. It wasn’t until she looked at the corpse's thigh that she found it. Linda was slightly puzzled as she wouldn’t have guessed that being stabbed in the leg could be fatal.

 

She stepped closer to the body so she could pick up her dog and get out of there but she realised to her horror that she recognised the corpse. She almost wished she hadn’t cause now it meant that she could no longer sympathise with a fucking murder victim. The person she knew the corpse belonged to deserved to be fucking stabbed.

 

Now that she was mostly out of her shocked state, Linda grabbed Honey and began to run. Her destination was somewhere she had never thought she’d go. As Hatchetfield was a tiny town it didn’t take long for Linda to get to where she was looking for.

 

Linda gently placed Honey on the ground and took a deep breath before she knocked on the door. It took a short while before anyone answered the door and Linda began to get impatient. She was about to knock again when she heard some moving and clicking from inside, presumably from the house owner unlocking the door.

 

Slowly, the door swung open and a red headed woman stood behind it. She wore a pink dressing gown and bunny slippers, her long hair was pulled into a loose ponytail and her face was free of makeup. Her pretty face wore a confused frown which wasn’t far from what Linda was expecting.

 

Then she cleared her throat. “Linda? I didn’t know you were coming…” She looked down at her attire and cringed. Linda stood dazed for a moment. She might as well have been back in high school because the woman in front of her hadn’t changed one bit. Then Linda remembered why she was there in the first place.

 

“Can I come in?” She asked evenly. The redhead made no move to respond. She just stood there in shock with her mouth slightly agape, similarly to how Linda had been mere minutes before in the woods. Linda allowed herself to smile slightly.

 

This was definitely the Becky Barnes she remembered.