Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 of this story about an empty grave found in an under-construction Beltline where we try to ascertain whether I can write a compelling story with hip-hop as the background. We just found out the kid with a “gang tag” doing his homework in the car the night of the pot festival is an aspiring rapper with a hip-hop pedigree that connects him to Big Daddy Jay, who a decade ago was a big star, but is now a producer, and recently out of jail in New York where he took the fall for a protégé. Then we heard from people who walked down what would become the Beltline late at night after the pot festival, where they say a guy digging a grave. Once Diana does some research, she finds out that Big Daddy Jay was married to one of the other men in the group, Thirty Ought, who has since disappeared, presumed to be hiding from the law but possibly recently disinterred from the Beltline. They confront BDJ in a club and he explains that he and Thirty Ought got married for medical insurance: Thirty Ought had multiple sclerosis. Now, let’s shift gears:
The distinguished Southern gentleman looked around to see if anyone else was looking before kicking his ball out of the rough. “Don’t tell nobody.”
Diana said, “My lips are sealed, Your Honor.”
“Now you confuse me with all these names. Big Daddy Jay, Thirty Ought, Shawty G: why is it these rap people can’t stick with the names their parents gave them?” He lined up his shot, took a practice swing.
“Some of these guys are real gangsters, Judge Hawthorne. It’s just part of the tradition. Others just want to look or sound like gangsters.”
“Well, it’s darned confusing. I’m going to need the five wood, sugar.”
“Mmm. Of course, Your Honor.” She took the three iron from him, looked at the sock Muppets that covered the woods. Elmo was the three; the five was Cookie Monster. “Here you go. But the story itself is simple: one guy killed the other and reburied him in the backyard of this abandoned house, because with the second guy missing, the first guy retains control of the estate. It’s just about money.”
“And you say these fellows were married? I always thought one of the few points these rap people had in their favor was that they didn’t tolerate homosexuals.”
Diana waited for him to take his practice swing before responding. “We’re thinking it might really have been for health insurance. The second guy did get treatment for multiple sclerosis before he disappeared.”
“Hmph. How do you know he’s in this garden?”
“We don’t know for sure that it’s Thirty Ought. But the house backs up onto what’s going to be the Beltline one day. Inspector Alawi and I took a stroll on it, enjoyed the beautiful spring weather. One of the K-9 officers went with us and, well, the dog got away for a moment and he entered the backyard, alerted on the garden. There’s definitely someone buried there.”
Another practice swing. “Neighborhood like that, there’s probably a corpse in every garden.”
“But we’ve got…”
“Yes, I see. An empty grave and a fresh one. Now hush.” Two more practice swings, then a long wait while he lined up the shot, tensed, swung back, stopped, let the club relax, lined up again, then an even longer pause. Diana tried very hard not to think about shouting “Cookie,” or throwing the sock at him. Another false start, then the real swing. The ball took off in a long, low arc, straight for the flag, then bounced once, then several more times, coming to rest just on the lip of the green.
“Well,” said Hawthorne. “Fancy that. Looks like you are a good luck charm, Detective. I’ll sign your warrant.” He tossed the club back to her without looking, then began to walk. “Carry the clubs up to the green, now; there’s a dear.”
What an asshole. One of the constants in the fiction that I write is that while murder is committed for one of four or five clearly-defined reasons, real evil is generally committed by the sort of men who are accustomed to cheating at golf. Diana, who grew up rich and with a powerful father who made every effort not to be corrupt, consistently has problems with guys like Hawthorne, though she knows full well they never commit the sort of crimes that get you life in prison. And as long as he gets his ego stroked by treating an attractive woman as a servant, she’ll help him out.