1. The Last Reality Show

by Paddy Killeen

A LITTLE PREAMBLE
Ask anyone in Dun Laoghaire where to find Paddy Killeen and they’ll either point you to my office above the charity store or to Jack and Brenda’s Bar across the street. I consider them both my home. At the bar I have my own little corner where, together with a few friends, I blow the froth off the occasional Guinness and as for my office/ apartment, which is a mere 40 paces away, I’ve created the perfect environment to conduct business and relax in.

It’s not the prim and proper art deco place that Poirot might agitate his little gray cells in, it’s much more Sam Spade. The heavy wooden furniture that I’ve picked up at flea markets, the life-sized nude statue I use to hang my coat on and the big leather chair, which for dramatic effect, I frequently spin around in, tends to make the place look like a 1940s movie set.

Hanging on the wall, alongside my Third Class Swimming Certificate and my membership in the International Society of Private Investigators, is a picture of me when I was in the Toronto Metropolitan Police. It’s there to remind me of the days when I was mainstream, respectable, married and frightfully unhappy.

Behind my office is my pad, or as my dear mother describes it, “a bedroom with a sink and a microwave.” However, it suits me, I’m living the dream and when I look in the mirror I don’t see ex-constable Killeen, I see a dead ringer for Humphrey Bogart. Like him, I wasn’t cut out for snapping to attention and handing out parking tickets, and I think my last assessment summed me up rather well. I was described by my chief as being obnoxious, ill mannered with an obvious disdain for authority, and the second page wasn’t much better.

Revenues don’t run to having a secretary at the moment but my landlords, Mr. and Mrs. Brown, or Mac an Bhreithiun, as the husband insists on being called, take my calls when I’m not around. They run a charity for orphaned cats and sell an assortment of junk to finance their venture in the store downstairs. She likes me to call her Wanda, and rather that pronounce the Irish version of HIS last name, I refer to him as The Colonel. He reminds me of an old war horse, he’s always telling fanciful tales, he’s met everyone of importance including the Pope, he’s been absolutely everywhere and pursued occupations I haven’t even heard of. In short, he’s a pathological liar but he’s harmless.

In spite of all my failings, I have achieved my ambition – I mean – what 11-year-old boy doesn’t want to be a detective? I know I certainly did. Now I get to track down lost people, inquire into the affairs of dubious business partners and occasionally my father, who’s a lawyer, throws me a case.

A NEW CLIENT

One of my more recent, and intriguing cases was just a walk in. I could hear footsteps coming up the wooden stairs and for the dramatic effect I’ve mentioned, I turned my chair to face the window. The footsteps hesitated outside the door, followed by a timid knock. I shouted come in but I didn’t pivot until I heard the door close behind them. When I did I couldn’t believe what I saw, she was young, she had great tits and her legs went almost all the way up to her armpits.

“Mr. Killeen?”

The words that flowed out of her mouth sounded so sensuous I immediately developed an erection.

“Take a seat, Miss….?”

“Bedelia Frome,” she purred, and she slipped into the chair so gracefully and crossed those long nylon clad legs.

Even though I was beginning to breathe heavy I managed to ask what I could do for her.

Apparently, her uncle, a famous TV reality show producer, who made programs for an American network, had recently passed away and she was a beneficiary in the will.

“There are six of us who benefit,” she said,” looking at me with her big beautiful blue eyes, “some are relatives and others are business associates.”

“So what’s the problem?” I inquired.

She leaned over the table furtively as if there might be spies around,

“Well – uncle Tom lived on a private island, just a short distance from St Aed, County Cork, and all those benefitting have to gather there and stay for a week prior to the will being read. Apparently, we’re going to have to undergo crazy endurance tests like he subjected his reality show contestants to.”

“So?”

“Everybody has to have a partner to participate and I don’t have one.”

“So?”

“I want you to pose as my boyfriend.”

I told her I was a detective and what she needed was an escort service and this is where it got interesting. She went on to explain that the proceeds of the estate were to be divided equally between six beneficiaries and if any of them left the island before the reading, or failed to complete the assigned tasks, their share would be divided between the others.

“I still don’t understand why you would need my services.”

“Well my Dad, Uncle Tom’s brother, thinks it will be dangerous and some of those benefiting from the will might be tempted to – well – try to bump someone off to increase their share.”

“If you don’t mind me saying so that sounds a little melodramatic.”

She shrugged and then went on to do a bit of lip-trembling, “I want you to go along and protect me,” she said, “I wouldn’t go at all but there could be millions at stake and I could use the money.”

“Aren’t your father and mother going?”

“No, Uncle Tom and Dad hadn’t spoken for thirty years, he wasn’t included in the will, you see Uncle Tom was in love with my mother but dad beat him to it and married her.”

“But why did he leave you money?”

“I think it’s because I look like my mother – I only met my uncle a few times but he treated me like a princess. He actually offered to pay for all my education at any college I chose but dad wouldn’t hear of it.”

“But he doesn’t mind you inheriting a few million from him?”

“He doesn’t have any choice – I want to be rich,” she said, with a big smile on her face, “now tell me Mr. Killeen – what will it cost me?”

The case was beginning to intrigue me, even though the chance of her getting murdered were very low, statistically speaking. I mulled it over and I gave her a break. “For one week, 2000 Euro payable in advance and 5% of your inheritance if you survive. ”

She didn’t bat a pretty eyelid, she just dug into her purse and handed me a couple of wads of neatly wrapped bills.

“That’s every penny I have in the world,” she said, “but I’ve heard about you Mr. Killeen and I know you’ll be worth it.”

She seemed to have more faith in me than I did and I asked her how she came across my name. Apparently, she’d read an article about one of my exploits in a magazine. I hated to tell her the writer had exaggerated somewhat – so I didn’t.

After we’d gone through the legalities, and all the forms were signed, I looked at my watch and suggested we went over to Jack and Brenda’s for lunch. When I walked in, accompanied by this beautiful young woman heads were turned, mouths dropped open and the three Michaels, who were waiting for me to join them, at what I term “my table,” were anxious to be introduced.

Bedelia thought it was amusing that I had three friends all with the same name. I’d known Michael Fielding and Michael Mills before I went to Canada but Michael Noiseux was a bone fide Canadian ex-pat who’d married a local girl and relocated to Dun Laoghaire while I was away.

The two Irish Michaels went against national tradition and didn’t say very much but Michael N was curious about our relationship and was not shy about asking.

“Ms. Frome is just a client,” I informed him as we glanced through the menu, “she believes, due to a psychological disorder, she may have murdered several men and wants me to try and locate the bodies.”

I never thought in a million years anyone would take me seriously but the three of them went strangely silent and looks of horror appeared on their faces. Bedelia picked up on this right away and began to laugh, which only confused them more.

Over Cottage Pie and a glass of Guinness, I tried to straighten out the three Mikes by telling them another lie.

“The truth is,” I said, maintaining a straight face and placing my hand on hers, “we’re in what you might call a trial relationship.”

They sure didn’t believe that story and it was their turn to laugh. With my ego still bruised we left the bar and I arranged to pick her up in Howth the next day.

It took about three hours to drive down to St. Aed and it was quite a pleasant trip. Surprisingly she turned out to be a fan of One Direction and we played CDs and sang most of the way. When we reached the little town we were struck by how much the reality shows, produced by her late uncle, had impacted the economy. We ate lunch in a pleasant little restaurant where the walls were plastered with the photos of minor American and British celebrities, who had dined there during their attempts to rescue their faltering careers by being ridiculed and degraded.

Sitting by the window, looking out towards the island, we began to get our girlfriend/boyfriend relationship straight, including details about where we’d supposedly met and answers to the inevitable question about our age difference. I also asked about the physical aspects, like whether we were going to hold hands and kiss occasionally. She looked at me quizzically,

“We’re going to be sharing a room,” she said, “I hope I can trust you – don’t get carried away with this girlfriend – boyfriend stuff.”

“I think I can manage to behave but can you,” I joked, “when I wear my Vin Diesel Cologne I become irresistible.”

She shook her head and laughed that infectious laugh of hers, “I’ll do my best,” she said, “but we’ll have to make it convincing when we’re in the company of others.”

After a brief pause, she went on to say that people didn’t expect men of my age to be overly demonstrative. I guess that put me in my place.
By the time we climbed aboard the boat I’d rented, the weather had turned quite nasty and as we approached the island, dominated by a large Victorian mansion, there was a faint rumble of thunder.

“I’ve only been here twice,” she sighed but I love this house – and the island too – it’s so beautiful.”

WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO?

There was nobody at the dock to greet us and so we just grabbed our cases and followed the winding path to the front entrance. A few spots of rain were beginning to splatter on the steps as we rang the bell. The door was opened by Frome’s American lawyer Adam Sempler, he was also one of the beneficiaries. He had a face like a Weasel and my first impression of him was that I wouldn’t have bought a used car from the man even if it had been for free. Bedelia introduced herself as the niece of the deceased and me as Patrick Doyle, her boyfriend. He looked suspiciously at my weatherworn face, smiled and said, “If you say so.” I would love to have re-arranged his features right there and then but I thought there might be an opportunity later. On the way upstairs to see our room we bumped into her aunt Josie, who pulled a face like she’d just eaten a lemon when I was introduced to her and her third husband Eamonn Fahey.

Our room only had one four poster bed but there was a large sofa underneath the window and I said I would take that. Bedelia scouted out the ensuite bathroom while I carefully scanned the room for mikes and cameras. I didn’t find any. In fact, I was feeling a little foolish because we were treating the whole thing so seriously. Quite frankly, I figured the worst that could happen was a few embarrassing moments as we went through the reality show routine, bobbing for worm-eaten apples or something equally gross. I was certainly hoping she could take it all on the chin as my share of the inheritance could be at risk if she chickened out at some point.

Weasel-face had informed us on the way upstairs that the servants had all been paid off but there was enough food in the kitchen to feed an army.
“As long as you can barbecue a steak and make a salad you won’t starve to death,” he leered, over his wire-rimmed glasses.

I think the word death had eaten its way into Bedelia’s brain because when she emerged from the bathroom she suddenly became paranoid, suggesting that some of the food could be tampered with. In spite of me saying it would be ludicrous to poison people in such circumstances she didn’t calm down and so I said we could slip back to St. Aed and eat out if it worried her that much. It was only a fifteen minute run in the launch I’d rented.

“We have to be back by eight,” she said, producing a note she’d found taped to the bathroom mirror, “Mr. Sempler is hosting a welcome to Frome Island get-together. He’s going to explain what we have to do to qualify for our inheritances.”

After we’d unpacked, and done a little exploring, we went back to the boat and zipped across the water to the town. It had started to rain and so it wasn’t very pleasant but we went back to the cozy restaurant where we ate lunch and sat by the fireplace. I was soon wrestling with an enormous steak, and occasionally picking up the aroma of my beautiful companion’s perfume, everything in the world seemed perfect.

Before we returned we stocked up on wine, cheese and crackers and one or two other goodies so that we could sip and nibble the next day. As we walked into the house we met four other guests who seemed to be intrigued by our supplies.

Fern Bachman, another American, who seemed to know Bedelia, was her uncle’s business partner. He was accompanied by his teenage bride Lola and just gave me a nod when introduced. Lawrence Clews, the accountant, who she also knew, presented his athletic looking spouse to me in quite a formal manner. However, she literally bubbled over with sociability and shook my hands vigorously insisting that I call her Sandy. I noticed later that although she had a firm grip with her right hand, her left seemed immobile, perhaps from an accident or some kind of birth defect.

Half an hour or so later we met them all again in the drawing room, along with the two remaining guests, who looked like the Corsican Brothers, even though one was a man and one a woman. Both wore dark glasses, and outfits that looked as if they’d recently appeared in a production of Guys and Dolls. They were introduced to us as Peter and Etty Gallera, investment brokers. As you’ve probably guessed they were also American. It appeared that, when no one else had the nerve to finance some of the shit programs Tom Frome produced, these two came up with the cash. Possibly acquired through extortion or bank robbery, I mused inwardly.

Josie, Bedelia’s aunt, poured the wine and then Emily, Sempler’s wife, entered the room carrying a tray of hors d’oeuvre, followed by her yapping mutt Tigger. It was all very cozy – but was it safe? My client’s paranoia regarding being poisoned was rubbing off on me but I drew the line at refusing a glass of 1954 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, whether it was spiked or not.

When we were all seated comfortably and wearing faint funerary smiles, the dog began fucking my leg. I was tempted to boot it across the room but Emily prized it from my hand tooled western shit kickers just in time. Mr. Sempler then cleared his throat and began to explain exactly what we were going to suffer for the next seven days. At the end of it, I was convinced I had grossly undercharged Bedelia.

“As you know,” Weasel-face began, “Tom Frome produced some very popular reality shows, and he thought that all of us here, being beneficiaries in his will, should be prepared to play out a final show in his honor. If you prefer not to participate in the fun and games, and I use the word fun reservedly, you are of course free to leave and your share of his considerable fortune will be divided equally between those who remain until the end.”

I looked at all the greedy faces light up when they heard the words “considerable fortune,” but there were also looks of apprehension because anyone familiar with Frome’s reality shows was aware of some of the gross things the contestants had to contend with.

“Now I suggest you all get a goodnight’s sleep,” he continued, “because tomorrow night we will all be sleeping in the six tents pitched out on the back lawn. And here’s the interesting part,” he swallowed hard, his Adam’s apple going up and down like a funfair High Striker, “I have, in compliance with instructions contained in the will, hired a Mr. Raam Singh to put two or three snakes in every tent after we’ve settled down for the night. He assures me they are not poisonous.”

You could have heard a body drop in that room. Sandy was fanning herself with her good arm and looking quite faint, while the female member of the Corsican Brothers seemed to have peed on the floor as there was a small pool surrounding her patent leather shoes. And it wasn’t just the women who looked flabbergasted. I could see several of the men mulling it over in their minds wondering if they really needed the money after all.

Bedelia was quite calm although she did grip onto my hand and squeeze it. I squeezed it back and she immediately withdrew, obviously not wanting to give me the impression she was being affectionate. Mr. Sempler declined to say what was planned for the rest of the week, he just left us to conjure up terrifying images as we retired for the night.

As Bedelia stepped out of the bathroom, in a rather provocative nightdress, she asked if I carried a gun. I told I didn’t, and it was unlikely we’d need one. She said she feel a lot safer if I had a 44 Magnum tucked in my pants but the only thing I had tucked in my pants was a very large boner. Her protruding tits and long slender legs, accented by the Baby Doll nightie, had quite an effect on me, whereas my Vin Diesel Cologne seemed to have no effect on her at all. Consequently, I tossed and turned before I could get to sleep but she went out like a light.

IN TENTS EXCITEMENT

The next day I discovered that there were no organized activities to pass the time away while we waited for that first reality challenge. It was much like the cooking, it was up to the individual to figure it out. Some of the people played cards, some sat around the TV and we watched Fern Bachman and his teenage bride played tennis. She looked incredible in her skimpy outfit, her arms and legs were toned and tanned to perfection, and she looked as if she could bang his balls around all day. In comparison, her pale emaciated partner, with his shorts hanging halfway down his thighs looked a prime candidate for a heart attack.

Bedelia and I spent most of the time sipping Chardonnay, nibbling on Swiss cheese, going through our One Direction repertoire, and discussing a wide range of subjects from Oscar Wilde to Gaelic football.

“I’m sorry I got you into this,” she said at length, referring to our forthcoming reptilian sleepover, “I expected some sort of foolishness considering my uncle’s predilection for the outrageous but this is far more extreme than I anticipated.”

She stretched and kicked off her shoes, “Do you think any of the people you’ve met so far are capable of killing?” she asked.

“In my experience, almost anybody is capable if the prize is great enough,” I replied.

“I guess your kind of work makes you very cynical,” she said, rocking backward and forwards in her seat thoughtfully. “Do people often get away with murder?”

“Not very often but I could murder a steak right now.”

“OK let’s go,” she cried, “I’m starving.”

I was getting to like those trips across to St. Aed, With Bedelia standing beside me with her hair flowing in the wind, it felt a bit like I was in that movie with Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio. In the restaurant, that we now seem to have made our own, we enjoyed the meal, talked about life and tried to avoid thinking about what was going on back at the house. We got back about eight and we happened to meet Weasel-face outside looking very important with his clipboard.

“Which tent will we be in,” I asked, trying to get a glance at the list. He pulled it away from me as though it was highly confidential and then, sheltering it with his hand so I couldn’t see, he ran his finger down it and said “six.”

I know it’s crazy but I have a bit of a thing about numbers and I’m not very fond of six, it’s just that I was married on the 6th of June, divorced February 6th the following year and I was asked to consider leaving the Toronto Police on August 6th. Not wanting to give him all the sordid details I simply said I was superstitious. He reluctantly changed his tent with ours and we got to number three, that’s only half as bad as six.

About 10.45 we all gathered on the dimly lit lawn and were introduced to Mr. Singh, a large bearded man wearing a turban and carrying a basket of snakes. After we’d entered our little abode, furnished with one blue and one pink sleeping bag, Mr. Singh, who’d done this before for Tom’s reality show, deposited the snakes, zipped us up, and bid us goodnight.

It was dark inside the tent except for the faint glow of the outside light on the house. Bedelia quickly got into her sleeping bag and tried to zip it up over her head. I offered to search around and kill the snakes but in spite of being afraid of them, she thought that was too extreme.

I must say I’m not that fond of things slithering over me during the night but as luck would have it they seemed to have found a place to coil up and I didn’t see them until seven o’clock in the morning. At Bedelia’s insistence we quickly got out of there and Mr. Singh, who had apparently been sitting outside all night keeping watch, slipped in to recover his pets. It was then we heard a shout from tent six – Emily Sempler was yelling her head off.

After some confusion with people running around in a panic, we ascertained that little Tigger was dead. The dog’s devastated owner walked across the lawn holding him and balling her eyes out. Everyone gathered around to offer their sympathy as Mr. Singh slipped into their tent to recover his snakes. When he came out he was yelling like a banshee, “A Coral Snake, a Coral Snake – someone please get me a box – quickly please – very dangerous.”

Dangerous isn’t the word for those venomous little bastards they can kill a full grown man in minutes, but instead of helping the snake handler with his dilemma everyone backed away off as if he’d shouted “plague”. I rushed over to the nearby garden shed, flung open the door, grabbed a metal cookie can that contained flower bulbs of some kind, emptied it out and rushed back to tent six.

Mr. Singh took it from me and with some kind of apparatus designed for the job he quickly latched onto the snake and secured it in the can.
“We’ll have to punch a hole so it can breathe,” he said, seemingly concerned about the animal’s welfare. I would have preferred it dead but with the aid of my Swiss Army knife, I did help him to accomplish the task and then he sat down on the grass and gave a big sigh.

“Where did such a snake come from,” he asked shaking his head, “I don’t deal in species like that.”

The rest of the crowd now sidled up to us cautiously and a very belligerent Mr. Sempler stepped forward and started to ball out Mr. Singh.

“I thought you said all of the snakes were harmless,” he yelled.

“All mine are harmless,” he said, “they’re just Kingsnakes.”

“Well, you must have mistakenly included one of those other things.”

“That’s a Coral Snake – it’s deadly poisonous – I don’t deal with such things.”

“Somebody should call the police,” yelled Eamonn Fahey.

“I don’t think we want to involve the police,” said Sempler, “We all want to get this seven days over with and distribute the funds, calling the police might delay things.”

“I think you should consider that it could have been you and your wife that were bitten,” I interjected.

Everyone looked at me as if to say, “Shut the fuck up – who cares what you think,” and they filed into the house for breakfast. Only the Semplers remained outside cuddling their leg shagging pooch.

I was surprised that he’d didn’t want to call the cops but it seemed that the pressure was on to get the week over and he was determined to abide by the terms of the will. Bedelia and I went back to the room for a white wine and Swiss cheese breakfast. It was then she suddenly inquired about my conversation with Weasel-face the night before. She’d been some distance away from us at the time but she did catch a bit of the conversation.
“Did you ask Adam to switch tents?” she inquired.

I nodded.

She smiled grimly, “We were supposed to be in tent number six weren’t we?”

I nodded again.

“How did you know something was going to happen in that tent.”

“I didn’t – it’s just that I have a problem with the number six.”

She took a very deep breath, “That snake was meant to kill me wasn’t it.”

“Possibly.”

“But it could have killed you too.”

“Possibly.”

“Will you stop saying possibly and tell me that my fucking life’s in danger,” she cried pounding her fists on the gnarled bedposts.

“You’re fucking life’s in danger,” I said.

She got up and started to pace around the room, “I think we should leave the island,” she cried, “I don’t fancy being a dead rich person and I’m also putting your life in danger.”

“That’s part of my job,” I replied, doing my best Humphrey Bogart impression that was obviously wasted on someone so young.

“So you’re saying we should stay here,” she grimaced, putting her hands on her hips and sighing impatiently.

“It’s up to you – but at least we are now on high alert.”

We sure needed to be when the afternoon challenge came around. Amongst the tombstones of a private cemetery on the south side of the island, there were six wooden coffins, each made to accommodate two people. Weasel-face, standing there with a young man who had a tool belt hung from his waist, explained that we had to lie in these boxes and the lid would be nailed shut for two hours. I don’t think there was a person there who didn’t look panic stricken.

A TITANIC MOMENT

“Don’t worry,” chirped up the cheery young man, as he opened up the coffins one by one, “I did this for thirteen TV shows and everyone came out fine. If you do have an attack of claustrophobia just bang on the lid and I’ll let you out. ”

Nobody seemed to take comfort from his words and some folk like Josie and Etty really looked as though they were going to walk away. After some encouraging words from their partners, they eventually climbed into their coffins and so did Bedelia and I. Semple’s last words, before he disappeared from view was, “If you do insist on getting out before the two hours you will have to forfeit – OK?”

It was a bit awkward for me being in such close quarters with my client. The best and most appropriate position seemed to be if she lay with her back toward me. But I knew that the warmth of her gorgeous body and the subtle smell of her perfume were bound to harden my ardor.

When the young man secured the lid with a couple of nails Bedelia started to tremble and I put my arm around her and gave her a comforting hug. I suppose we all thought that we were just going to lie there for two hours and that was it. We were wrong!

After a few minutes, an incredible stench was released inside the box, it smelt like death. Then there were scratching sounds that must have been coming from a speaker hidden in the satin padding. For the next two hours, we were subject to horror film sound effects, deafening rock music, more smells and the sound of dirt being shoveled on the top of us. It was a nightmare and before it ended Bedelia was crying her eyes out.

Like Zombies, we all climbed out of our caskets and staggered back towards the house. The Semplers were in the worse shape as Emily had apparently eaten a can of beans for lunch and had been farting for the entire period of internment. They were arguing about it all the way back. It was hard to believe that her farts were more disgusting than the smell of death but her husband obviously thought so.

We went straight to our room, showered and then took off to town for a good steak and a change of atmosphere. During the meal I took the opportunity to ask her about her relationship with Fern Bachman and the Clews, “You presumably knew them before we arrived,” I said.

She went on to tell me that her Uncle Tom gave a party for her 21st birthday.

“I didn’t tell my parents, of course, they would have been furious.”

“So did anything happen that night that would cause somebody to have a grudge against you.”

She sighed, “There were a couple of things actually, first I happened to go into the garden for a breath of fresh air and I saw Fern Bachman and a woman, who was not his wife, kissing and groping in the bushes. I didn’t say a word about it but later that evening, his wife Julia, as was then, went ballistic and demanded a divorce in front of all the guests. He may have thought it was me that had snitched – but it wasn’t.”

“Sounds like quite a party,” I said, leaning back a little to allow the big boobed waitress to top up my coffee, “anyone else that might hate you?”

“Well, there was the accident with Sandy.”

Lawrence’s wife?”

“Yes – she and I were both drunk and staggering all over the place. At one point I was going upstairs and she was coming down. We bumped into each other and she lost her balance and fell. She crashed into the post at the bottom of the stairs and badly damaged her arm. She was in the hospital for weeks, it’s still not fully functional.”

“Did she blame you?”

“She didn’t but Lawrence did. I went to see her in the hospital and he literally threw me out. I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life. He actually called me a lush when his own wife was as drunk as I was.”

“So – we have two people who might like to see you dead and benefit from it at the same time.”

She gave a little shudder, “Could it have been one of them that put the snake in the tent?”

“Well I don’t think it was Weasel-face the lawyer, it had to be somebody who checked out the list before I asked him to make the change.”

“I’m frightened Jonathon,” she sniffled, “really frightened.”

“You’re free to leave if you’re prepared to give up the money.”

“That’s not important anymore,” she retorted, “but I’d sure like to find out who the potential murderer is, we shouldn’t let them get away with it.”
“So you want to stay?”

“Darn right I do and I want you to find out who’s responsible and punch their face in.”

“That doesn’t seem adequate punishment for attempted murder but it would be a start,” I laughed.

The next morning we were lined up like soldiers and Adam Sempler introduced us to yet another outsider who had worked on the shows.

“This is Charlie Kehoe, who some people call the Spider-Man.”

Being a bit of an arachnophobia I was already beginning to sweat. It got worse when the man held up a little carrying case and sneered,

“What do you think I have in here?” It turned out to be Tarantulas.

We were all taken into the basement where a door was opened revealing a long dark tunnel.

“This leads to the summerhouse and all you have to do is walk through it. In there are some fake spiders, some real ones, lots of sticky webs, and I shall release a few of my friends here to make it interesting.”

He disappeared into the dark tunnel for a short time and then returned with a few silken threads streaked across his jacket and an empty container.
Nobody seemed to want to be a trailblazer and they all huddled together arguing who should go first. Emily, who must have been at the beans again, was actually farting with fear. The group around her thinned out a little and I decided that there was no way I wanted to follow her into the tunnel. They all seemed terribly relieved when I said we’d go first.

It was absolutely festooned with spider’s webs and with Bedelia bringing up the rear I waved my arms in front of me to clear a path. It was pitch black most of the way but after a twist in the tunnel, there was light coming in from the other end. It was then I saw this monstrous hairy spider crawling just above my head. Bedelia saw it too and she let out a piercing scream that must have scared the shit out of those waiting to enter.

Just like our experience with the coffins, a little extra scare was added in the form of a large rotting carcass lying in our path covered in writhing maggots. I told her to close her eyes and then I picked her up and carried her over it. Almost ready to vomit I mounted the stairs at the end and took a deep breath of fresh air.

Two of our compatriots did hurl on the grass when they got top side and Emily fainted and had to be given first aid. I was beginning to think that Thomas Frome was a very nasty man and those contestants who volunteered for this shit must have been out of their minds.

Fortunately, Bedelia and I had our little hideaway in town where we could eat non-poisonous edibles and relax but we didn’t make it that night. We climbed into the boat and were about two hundred yards offshore when it started to take on water. It looked like someone had created a weakness in the bow and once we got up speed it caved in.

It took just a few minutes to sink. Bedelia could swim but she wasn’t sure if she could make it all the way. The water was quite cold as we struggled to make it back to the island. After the first hundred yards, she started to falter and I had to go into a life-saving mode and tow her to shore.

We climbed onto the dock like two drowned rats and staggered up the path to the house. The first person we met in the hallway was Josie who suggested we should go into the kitchen and she’d make us some hot chocolate. We both turned down her kind offer and went straight to our room.

There was no time for modesty now, we both stripped off our wet clothes and got into the shower together. It was if it was the most natural thing to do. I’d like to go into a detailed description of Bedelia’s beautiful body but quite frankly at the time I hardly noticed it, I was still in a state of shock from our ordeal. Those last few minutes in the water, and having to lift her up onto the shore had taken its toll.

Wrapped in blankets and still shivering we sat on the sofa together and drained the last bottle of wine.

“We nearly died didn’t we?” she sniffled.

“Well it was a close call, it’s not very often I have to rescue a lovely lady in the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean and so I’m out of practice.”
“Thank you,” she said, kissing me on the cheek, “I seem to have put you through an awful lot for two thousand lousy Euro.”

I shrugged and got up to find some dry clothes – I had a plan. Once I’d thrown on some pants and a T-shirt I sneaked out onto the landing and down the back stairs.

While we were making our way through the basement to that spider infested tunnel, I’d caught a glimpse of the door that led to the wine cellar, I was hoping it wasn’t locked. I could hear voices as I made my way down but I didn’t see anybody. When I arrived at the door I mumbled a little prayer and pulled on the handle – the prayer worked, I was inside Aladdin’s Cave.

There were racks and racks of wine – well that’s obvious isn’t it – but there was also a cheese storage cabinet and best of all I found a cache of Midleton Dair Ghaelach Whiskey. Grabbing a wooden box that lay there I loaded it with a substantial amount of Red Leicester, four bottles of wine and couple of Whiskey. Staggering under the strain of my booty I made it up the two flights of stairs to our room. I knocked lightly on the door and after giving her the password, which I actually made up on the spot, she opened up and gasped at the result of my resourcefulness.

DEADLY CUISINE

I find you can get just as drunk on an expensive wine as you can on a cheap bottle of Catawba, and boy did we ever get drunk. After partying until the early hours I woke up in the morning to find that I not only did I have two heads, both of them aching with equal ferocity, AND, I was in bed with Bedelia. Looking around the room, that appeared to be moving in an anti-clockwise direction, I saw a large cheese on the table with my Swiss Army knife stuck in it and several empty bottles.

Assuming that probably nothing had happened between us, and not wanting to complicate the situation I slipped out of bed and into the bathroom. When I came out Bedelia was stretching her naked body out on the bed but quickly covered up when she saw me.

“What would you like for breakfast?” I asked, “we have cheese and wine or cheese and whiskey.”

Holding her head she said she thought she would give it a miss and wrapping herself up in a blanket she went for a shower. While she was gone I noticed a sheet of paper had been slipped under the door detailing that day’s challenge and it was a shocker.

It gave the kitchen as the place to gather at twelve sharp and I reasoned that it had something to do with food and that made me nervous. We couldn’t even make a quick getaway anymore as our boat was at the bottom of the sea.

I promptly made a call to the company I rented it from and they said they would slip over about five to pick me up so that I could fill in the papers for the insurance. There was a 700 Euro deductible to pay but that didn’t seem unreasonable in the circumstances, although my two thousand was gradually being absorbed by expenses.

When we walked into the kitchen around noon it looked like your typical Adam’s Family lunch. It was being catered by a woman who bore a striking resemblance to Lucrezia Borgia and a gaunt-faced man dressed up as a butler with a cigarette hanging out one corner of his mouth. It was not a pretty sight.

The one thing that unnerved me more than the cuisine, which consisted of dishes made from insects and worms, was the fact that all the trays were labeled with our names. Just as a precaution, I switch Bedelia’s label with Ferns when the others became distracted by a sudden burst of steam from a pressure cooker.

Weasel-face, who looked quite ill as he peered down at his tray of wiggly comestibles, announced that we had to finish all of the courses to qualify. Taking a big sigh, that almost drained the room of oxygen, he invited us to tuck in. It was the only time in my life that I’ve regretted not being bulimic. Bedelia just looked at me as though she might throw up at any minute but we raised our spoons and on the count of three we dived into the Woodlouse soup. We had only taken one disgusting sip when Fern, who was sitting on the opposite side of the table, gripped his throat and fell to the floor like a sack of shit taking his tray with him.

Climbing over the table I jumped down and felt his pulse, there wasn’t any. I gave him a few compressions but he didn’t respond, I put my nose to his mouth and there was a distinct bitter almond smell, it looked like cyanide poisoning.

Sempler, comforting his hysterical wife with arm used the other to phone the Garda and then told us all not to touch anything and to file out and sit on the porch. After half an hour a boat pulled in with three Guards on board and a pathologist. Over the next two hours, we went through the usual routine, everybody had to give a statement, our rooms were searched and the lab boys were called in to go over the kitchen.

When I managed to get the inspector alone for a moment I gave him my version of events and told him I was sure that the intended victim was Bedelia. He made lots of notes but I think he found the whole story of the will and the reality challenges so bizarre he couldn’t get his head around it.

We were confined to the island that night and so I had to stop the boat rental people from coming over. Fortunately, Mr. Sempler decided to order food from St Aed and have it delivered. It was only pizza but it went down quite well with a bottle on Montepulciano and dining al fresco seemed to sharpen the taste buds.

After we’d eaten Sempler made an announcement regarding the breakfast arrangements and the next day’s challenge. The kitchen would be out of bounds until the police had completed their examination so he was arranging once again to have food brought in, however, he insisted that the day’s challenge would go on as scheduled and we were to assemble outside at around 11 a.m.

I thought I’d better fortify myself for what lay ahead and so I went straight up to the room and knocked back a couple of whiskeys. Bedelia came in a half hour or so later. She was in a bit of a fluster and told me that she wandered into her uncle’s study and found Aunt Josie hiding behind the desk.

“She went into a panic when she saw me,” she said,” and told me I had no right in there. I know Uncle Tom was her brother but I think I have as much right to wander around the house as she does.”

It certainly got me to thinking but I kept my thoughts to myself and we went on to spend a pleasant evening watching TV with a bottle of Petrus Pomerol. It didn’t taste bad for a 2000 Euro bottle of wine. We could have watched DVDs of her uncle’s Reality shows so that we’d be aware of what to expect on the morrow but we chose to watch Nanny McFee instead.

While we were watching she actually snuggled up to me and asked if we’d slept together the night before.

“Yes, we did,” I replied, ‘but I don’t think we were sober enough to have done anything.”

“Well maybe we shouldn’t drink so much tonight,” she giggled.

That evening, anxious to go to bed, in case she was serious, I kept yawning in the hope that Bedelia would suggest we hit the sack. TOGETHER. Unfortunately, she got interested in something on her iPhone and she didn’t notice me checking my watch every five minutes.

When she eventually entered the bathroom and emerged wearing that flimsy nightwear I quickly took her place, washed my hardened dick thoroughly, cleaned my teeth and even dabbed a little masculine cologne on my balls. However, when I got in the bedroom she was fast asleep. Holy fuck it was like a near death experience, I was shattered.

WHAT WAS AUNT JOSIE DOING IN THE STUDY?

The next morning I awoke to the sound of a bell ringing and some loud mouth yelling breakfast. We didn’t have time to shower we just dressed and went down for another al fresco meal.

There were enough picnic tables so that we could be alone and as we drank our coffee and nibbled on a croissant I asked her if she had a will.
“Of course – I think everyone should have one.”

“Where is your will?”

“The lawyer has a copy and I have a copy.”

“And your uncle probably had a copy.”

“Do you think that’s what Aunt Josie was doing in the study – looking for the will?”

“I don’t know but when you were telling me about her being by the desk I had one of those pings.”

“Pings?”

“Yes, I sometimes hear this little ping in my head followed by a revelation of some kind.”

“And what did your ping tell you?”

“It told me that maybe your uncle left you more than a share of his money – maybe you get the house too.”

“Oh no – I can’t imagine that?”

“You did say you loved this place, did you tell your uncle that.”

“I suppose I did – I can’t really remember.”

“Well if that is the case, and someone else knows – who maybe thought they might inherit it – that could be a motive for murder.”

“But who would that be,” she asked naively.

I just sat and looked at her and said nothing,

“Holy fuck – you don’t suspect my Aunt Josie and Eamonn– do you?”

“It’s a distinct possibility.”

“But I’m her niece.”

“And this is a very desirable property and it was your Aunt who made out the cards for that delicious lunch yesterday.”

She just sat there with her mouth open and didn’t say a thing.

Just then the Corsican Brothers came and sat at our table and asked if we knew what the day’s challenge was.

“Etty’s finding all these stupid games a bit much,” said Peter, “Have you any idea what’s going on?”

Once I’d told him I hadn’t a clue they left. They were a strange couple, after they’d given up on us they went from table to table presumably asking the same question. It prompted me to consider checking up on them, what exactly was their relationship with the late Tom Frome. Why would he put two investors in his will? Did he owe them? There were so many questions I wanted answers to but couldn’t really reveal myself as a detective.

When our breakfasts were digested we were led over to a large barn about a hundred yards from the house. A man who made Quasimodo look like a fashion model greeted us with a twisted grin,

“Good morning ladies and gentlemen,” he lisped, “ please follow me.”

With this, he opened up the door and we entered the building that was almost empty except for a very large cage that extended from a dividing wall. There were two rows of seats inside and we were asked to enter and sit down.

I could tell there was something unpleasant going to happen because Sempler and his wife waited until the last and seemed a little hesitant about entering the cage. Once we were all seated the man in charge locked the gates and informed us that he would be letting two Lions in.

“They are quite tame,” he assured us, “but they do smell fear and so I ask you to remain as still as possible for the next thirty minutes and whatever you do don’t scream or start moving around in panic – they don’t like that.”

He went on to tell us that in all the years he’d been doing this he’d only lost one participant – that was not terribly comforting. In spite of everyone being determined to keep calm, when the back door was opened and those two roaring Lions ran in sniffing at everybody, I had the feeling that at least two people had shit themselves.

Bedelia clung onto me tighter than she did the night before, she was petrified. That thirty minute period seemed to be more like thirty years and the Lions were pacing up and down as though they were bored to fuck. Some tried to start a casual conversation but the animals didn’t seem to like that and growled right in their faces. Quasimodo, made a little joke suggesting that perhaps he should have fed them before he let them in but it didn’t get a single laugh. When he got up and hustled them back through the door and opened up the gate for us to leave there was a collective sigh of relief.

When we got back to the room, out came the whiskey and I pounded my laptop to check on some of our guests. I did come up with news of a lawsuit between Peter and Etty Galera and Tom Frome’s company regarding a failed pilot, but the judge ruled their investment was purely speculative and denied their claim. Obviously, the reason the old guy had included them in his will was to rid himself of a little guilt. It was unlikely that they would want to specifically kill Bedelia for a little extra money, they could have killed anyone of the beneficiaries for that.

As for Josie and Eamonn, they were quite successful and obviously not short of money but if her niece was getting the house the motive could well have been jealousy. I decided at that point that I’d have a look around that study, thinking that a copy of the will might still be there somewhere.

The door was now locked but it was nothing my Swiss Army knife couldn’t handle. Once inside I sat down at the desk and tried to think like a slightly crazy 55-year-old man.

His fondness for his niece was quite evident as he had two pictures of her there. One was in a small gold frame, the other one, of her college graduation, was in a rather sturdier wooden affair. It was ping time again and I grabbed the picture turned it over and removed the back. There it was, a neatly folded document labeled The Last Will and Testament of Thomas William Frome.

I took the whole frame with me and rushed back to the room. Like two excited teenagers we opened the document together and there it was, she was to get a one-sixth share of his financial assets plus the house and its contents. There was also a list of the challenges. If Bedelia didn’t make it through, just like the others, she would lose her right to her share and the house. It could only be assumed that he had great faith in her. However, if she did fail, Adam Sempler was authorized to dispose of the property and divide the proceeds between those who had survived his last reality show.

“Your uncle didn’t stipulate that the property had to be put on the open market which means with you out of the way Weasel-face has the option to purchase it for whatever value he puts on it, in other words he could pick it up for a song, either himself or through a nominee.”

“But what about the snake in the tent?”

“I think if I check up with Mr. Singh I’ll find that the venom had been removed.”

“So how did Tigger die?”

“He probably fed him some cyanide.”

“But why?” she asked, not being able to follow my reasoning.

“Because it would throw suspicion off of him – even if he had been in tent three he would have gone through the same routine. Then if you would have been killed with the food instead of Fern, or died in the boat, it wouldn’t have looked as if you weren’t singled out in any particular way.”
“But why would Aunt Josie be searching for the will?”

“Maybe she was just curious or perhaps she wasn’t looking for it at all. She might have been searching for some family heirloom that has sentimental value. I’m pretty sure that Adam Sempler is our man.”

Bedelia just shook her head in dismay she couldn’t really understand how anyone could be so evil.

“He’ll get the chance to be even eviler during tomorrow’s challenge,” I said looking at the schedule, “We have to jump off a platform 50 feet high into the sea.”

“I don’t think my aunt or Emily are going to do that.”

“I don’t think Emily will refuse – if she does I’m sure Weasel-face will push her off.”

TWO MEN IN A BOAT

Even though the kitchen was no longer a crime scene we decided not to risk eating there, I phoned the boat hire and they came to pick us up and I completed the insurance claim forms for the company then went out to dinner. I’m not sure why they rented us another boat but they did and we skimmed across the calm water back to our island, our room, and our bed.

The dive and our last challenge was to take place at an area called Lollan’s Leap before lunch, which made sense. I don’t think anyone would have wanted to do it on a full stomach.

A platform had been erected to extend from the 50-foot cliff and two rough looking men sat in a rubber boat with an outboard motor ready to help anyone in distress and to ferry the divers to a ledge where they could take a path back up the cliff. Poor Ferns teenage bride had gone home with the body and so it left just five couples. Adam had worked out the order in which he wanted us to jump. He and his wife would go first and Bedelia were to bring up the rear. I had no idea why that was important but I just went along with it.

Emily was not keen on going at all, trembling she peered over the edge and I could hear her breathing from 20 feet away. As I thought he would, her husband gave her a gentle shove and over she went screaming all the way down. He followed and then they were hauled safely into the boat.

Josie was terrified but she said that rotten brother of hers wasn’t going to do her out of her inheritance. She was followed by Eamonn who seemed more scared than she was and then it was the Clewes, the Corsican Brothers and us.

Bedelia and I, showing off a bit, held hands and jumped together. We were hauled in the boat by the men but then instead of going to the left towards the path they headed right out to sea. The only person that could see us was Adam who was back on the top of the cliff waving his hands frantically as though he was concerned.

I didn’t have to ask what was happening I knew we were being kidnapped. That was confirmed when the man sitting in the bow drew a gun and told us to stay completely still.

I’m not sure where we were heading but I didn’t want to go there. I figured if I could throw myself back on the guy at the helm he would probably lose control and then I could tackle the one with the gun – that’s if he managed to hang on to it. It was a risk and I didn’t want to put Bedelia in danger but has we were probably going to be killed anyway I had to take a chance.

I began to hold my chest as though I might be having a heart attack and then I threw myself backward butting the helmsman under the jaw with my head. The boat swerved all over the place and the man with the gun, who foolishly stood up and came forward, perhaps with the intent of slugging me, was thrown overboard. Bedelia clung onto the seat as I turned and using my head once more I rammed it into the other man’s face. He fell backward in the water, I yelled man overboard, as if I cared, and then I took control of the craft and headed for St. Aed. We could have gone back to the island but I wanted a chance to think things over and get my client out of harm’s way.

We tied up the boat and wandered into town. I suppose we looked like typical summer tourist in our swimwear but we were without ID, money or credit cards. However, I did persuade a bank manager to let me use his phone make a call to the Colonel back in Dun Laoghaire. He quickly wired me 500 Euro so that we could buy some clothes, eat and check into the town’s only hotel.

Once we’d acquired some clothes we headed for the motel so that we could change our clothes. The manager refused us a room as we didn’t have a credit card and so we had to book into a B and B, run by an old lady who was much friendlier. It was one of those places where the owner has stamped their mark with crocheted doilies, cross-stitched mottos, and scented candle holders. It was actually quite nice.

As we were taking off our swimwear to change it seemed like an opportune moment to test my client’s intentions. I helped her undress by pulling the strings on her bikini. She just stood there for a moment and asked me what I thought I was doing. I shrugged and said I was simply helping her out and had no dishonorable intentions.

“You liar,” she yelled and shoved me onto the bed. She literally ripped off my shorts and then she bit my scrotum, quite hard. I must say I was a little overwhelmed by this mad woman who descended on my cock and began to suck it like a Rocketpop on the hottest day of the year. My god, she slid it between her lovely lips as she caressed my balls and made little whimpering sounds. I was in fellatio heaven.

“I think I’m about to cum,” I gasped, hoping with all my heart that she was going to ignore me. She did and took the whole load in her mouth.
“Yuk,” she cried out, as she spit it into a tissue, “I don’t usually do that but you did save my life.”

“Well, I don’t usually eat a girl out on the first date but I’m going to make an exception for you,” I said, and I grabbed hold of her, lay her across the bed and slipped my rough shaven face between her firm warm thighs. The moment the tip of my pussy fluffer engaged the lips of her cunt, she began to move her ass around as if she couldn’t wait for more. I didn’t want to disappoint her and so I lapped her tasty pink taco from the bottom to the top with big swipes of my tongue. And as I kept doing it I extended my arms upward so that I could fondle her lovely tits at the same time.

She was quite vocal and I was worried the old lady might barge in the room and drag me off of her. Of course, when she came she yelled twice as loud and I had to resort to covering her face with a scatter cushion inscribed with “Cead Mille Failte.” She ripped it off, threw it across the room and with a look on her face, that resembled a puppy dog waiting for its bowl to be filled, she said, “Fuck me Paddy – please fuck me.” Two seconds later my cock was embedded deep inside of her well-lubricated pussy.

The bed was one of those old fashioned unstable types that creaked all the way through my performance but I didn’t let it detract me from ramming it into her like a steam engine. When I felt my dick spurting a long stream of jizz inside of her it was me that needed the scatter cushion.
Later I was a little apprehensive when we had to pass the old lady on the way out for something to eat. She was busy knitting a cover for the toilet tank and just gave me a sly wink as I passed her.

When we switched on the TV news that night we were surprised that we had been reported missing, possibly kidnapped by two imposters who had overpowered the two lifeguards hired to do the job and stole their boat. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who hired the two thugs.
“What a shock they’ll get when we turn up for the reading of the will I laughed.”

In spite of us having a night of unbridled passion and my tongue feeling as though I cleaned the carpet with it, we hit the street bright and early. First, we headed to the place where we’d tied the men’s boat but it was gone – possibly picked up by the police, who were no doubt also looking for us. I went to the company where I’d rented the two boats before and asked them to ferry us to Frome Island. They found it a little confusing but they had my credit card number and so they agreed to get us there in a hurry.

We decided to go in by the back door and once inside I took a couple of minutes to phone the Gardai to tell them there was a murderer on the island and we then walked into the drawing-room just as he was about to read the will. Old Weasel-face’s jaw dropped so far I thought it was going to hit the desk. I told everyone in the room that I was a detective, that Mr. Sempler had attempted to kill Bedelia Frome to prevent her from claiming her rightful inheritance, had murdered Fern Bachman and little Tigger. Funnily enough, the dog seemed to solicit the more sympathy than Fern did, particularly from Mrs. Sempler.

When the cops had taken our statements and Weasel-face had been whisked off to the slammer, I took over reading the will. Lawrence, the accountant calculated that everyone would get just short of a million each and of course Bedelia got the island and house, together with the wine cellar, paintings, and collectibles valued at around 6 million. Unfortunately, Adam Sempler still inherited his share but Emily would get most of it in their divorce settlement.

When Bedelia asked her aunt what she was doing in the study that day and why she was so rude to her Josie had to make a little confession.

“I had Lawrence Clews hidden under the desk,” she said, “Lawrence and I go back a long way and we were just renewing our acquaintance when you walked in, I had to yell for you to leave because if you’d have come any further you would have seen I had no panties on.” She had a cheeky grin on her face as if she was almost proud of her little assignation.

After the others had gone I stayed on for a couple of days and my beautiful young client actually proposed to me.

“I can’t live in this big house alone,” she said, “Share it with me.”

I explained that my kind of life was not conducive to marriage and so she made me promised to call on her whenever I could.

“But you’ll probably be married one of these days,” I said, “I can’t come knocking at the door if you have a husband.”

“That’s OK, just phone me and we can meet in that little B and B in St. Aed,” she smiled.

I accepted a check for 20,000 Euro to cover my fees and expenses as I felt I couldn’t really take the five percent we’d contracted for, but I did get a little bonus by way of a case of Chateau Margaux 2009. The last time I called on Bedelia she was running murder mystery weekends at the old house, which were proving to be good for the local economy. THE END

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Copyright 2016 – 2017 Paddy Killeen
The characters portrayed in my stories are, for intents and purposes fictional and any similarity to living persons is purely coincidental, however, I have included a few of my deceased friends in order to let them stretch their legs again.
You may not sell, license, sub-license, rent, transfer or distribute any part of my stories or images in any format, or claim ownership.

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