~ excerpt ~
CHECKMATE: MURDER
by Cindy Davis


Tyson's voice rang out in the theater announcing the start of Act Four. John poised his hand on the 'bedroom' doorknob and waited till the buzz of voices in the auditorium died. Angie grabbed Jarvis by the waist and pulled him close. "You'll be great." She kissed just under his left ear then nudged him forward. "Break a leg."

"By the way, you look gorgeous."

She gazed down at the satin gown Gloria insisted she buy for tonight. The long sleeved dress was a brilliant teal her mother said set off her eyes. Angie had to admit, it made her feel elegant and pretty for the first time in a long while. Jarvis planted a kiss on her temple, straightened his spine, drew the pillowcase bag from his pocket and stepped on stage. He crossed, almost on tiptoes, to the mantle and picked up the crystal figurine. As the curtain rose, he prepared to drop the statuette in the bag.

John and his little blonde 'daughter' entered the living room from the left. John said, "Okay, let's get your milk and get you back to bed." As they reached center stage, he spotted Jarvis. He thrust the girl behind him and held her there with both hands. "Who the hell are you?"

Jarvis reached into his pocket and pulled out the gun. He shook it at John, then waved it toward the sofa. "Get over there."

John, keeping the child behind him, moved in the direction of the couch but stopped half way. "What do you want?"

"Kind of stupid question since I'm loading your stuff in this sack, dontcha think?"

John shoved the girl. "Get behind the sofa. Lay down and stay there." To Jarvis he said, "Take what you want. Then get out."

From off stage, Brianna, played by Angie's friend Trynne McCoy, called, "Roman, can you come here, I've fallen."

John, as though forgetting Jarvis pointed a gun at him, made a step toward the bedroom.

"Stop!" Jarvis shouted.

"My wife has fallen out of her wheelchair. She might be hurt."

"If she was hurt she woulda said so."

"I'm going to her. You can shoot me if you want." John took two steps.

Jarvis ran at him, tossing the bag on the chair as he passed. He came up behind John and clubbed him above the right ear with the butt of the gun. John dropped to his knees then sprang back to his feet, using the momentum to drive a fist up into Jarvis' chin. Jarvis raised the gun. John head-butted him in the chest. Jarvis lurched backward, but caught himself on the back of a chair. It looked so real Angie almost cheered.

The gun swung downward. It went off.

Something whizzed past her right shoulder. John dropped to the floor. Jarvis looked at him, at his bag, and back at John. Then he sprinted for the door.

Perfect! Angie wanted to applaud. Jarvis played the part to perfection. But why wasn't John getting up and going to Brianna? He lay on the green print area rug, feet splayed the way he'd fallen, arms clutching his chest. A circle of blood on the rug—and his tan cotton shirt—grew larger each second.

"Drop the curtain!" Angie screamed.