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Part Five of the Tragic Beauty Anthology

Don looked completely confused and out of his element. I was doing my best to make it appear that I knew what I was doing. In all honesty, I had no clue. There was Jayne, hanging onto my arm with rain drenching her hair and running down her face. Any tears she might have been letting go were obscured by the onslaught of raindrops. We could have gone back into the cafe, but I wanted full speed ahead and nothing else. I was trying to be Jayne's white knight, even as I lacked a horse or a sword. I was a court jester with his pants around his ankles. Perhaps I was not even that.

"Where are we going?"

Don's question was directed at either Jayne or myself, and he did not seem concerned about who answered it. There seemed to be no real direction. If Jayne was leading us somewhere, I certainly was not going to ask. My heart was aflutter. This beautiful woman with a mysterious past was interested in me. Perhaps not as a love interest or anything approaching that caliber, but there had to be some reason she was letting Don and I hang with her. The concept of her leading us into a trap eluded me. This had to be a situation of great honor. After all, I had put my arm around her in her time of need and that made me a hero. Had I thought about our naivety compared to Jayne's background I might have stepped back. Instead, I smiled and felt important, my self-esteem receiving a desperately needed boost. I just ran with it.

Without even realizing it, Don and I were following Jayne back towards the crime scene. The folly of our inexperienced youth was now drawing a direct comparison to a fly wandering foolishly into a spider's web. Only once the two town police officers began approaching us did we realize that there was a problem.

"You might want to ask these two about the murder."

We stood in silent disbelief when Jayne spoke those words to the cops. Don and I looked at each other blankly. We thought we had made some sort of intimate connection with Jayne. We thought she was taking us under her wing and that she would protect us. Now she was turning us over to the law and claiming we were somehow connected with the murder of the actor who was to portray Puck from A Midsummer Night's Dream this coming weekend. Searching through our memories, Don and myself had trouble remembering any point in our lives where we had felt more foolish or betrayed.

Well, once there were these older kids.
They told me they would give me five bucks if I got their model rocket out of this well.
Then they lowered me in and pulled up the rope and ran away.

Jayne left us in the custody of the two police officers and walked away. They motioned for us to follow them into the lobby of the Corwell Amphitheater. Inside were a number of students, mostly actors still in costume, being interviewed and pushed around by the police and campus security. Our first thought was of Miles and the old woman in the cabin just through the neighboring wood. They were the most logical perpetrators of this crime. Miles had told us the old woman had a tendency to stab people without reason. At the same time we felt a debt to Miles because we had not helped him when he had been tied up in his room. What we really wanted at that moment was for Kettles Johnson to show up. Unless he was still crying in his room, he might know what to do.

We were lead into a small conference room where a big police officer was sitting behind a conference table smoking a cigar. He did not look up until the door had closed behind us.

"What did Kettles Johnson tell you about his relationship with Jayne Hunter?"

Expecting the authorities to ask us about the murder of Puck, this line of questioning caught us completely off-guard. The bearded police officer who asked us the question was wearing a short sleeved shirt that showed off his bulging biceps. There was a large tattoo on his right bicep depicting and old style 19th century policeman with a baseball bat standing over an African American couple. They were on their knees bleeding and the policeman was smiling. What the hell kind of cop was this? Didn't his superiors demand that he either remove that tattoo or cover it? There were already problems with racially motivated violence in town and this clown was openly promoting more.

"You two look like a couple of fucking weiners.
Maybe you'd enjoy a nice holding cell.
We'll come in every hour or so and make you feel loved, eh?"

Now we had reached the point where everything happening around us scared the shit out of us. Don was completely prepared to give up Miles, but he was so frightened that his lips simply quivered. The cop got up from his chair and walked around the table. He demanded that we sit down, blew smoke in our faces and began scratching his crotch to the point where we wondered if he was suffering from some sort of infestation in his nether regions.

"I'm not here to play games, boys.
I don't give a shit about some dead faggot actor.
What I want is the whole side of beef.
Do you understand what I am saying?"

It was becoming dreadfully obvious that everyone thought that Don and I knew more than we really did. Whatever was going on was way over our heads. All we knew was that Jayne was a secretive person who had very, very tasteful nude photographs taken of herself and had a son who did not color very well that had been taken away from her. We knew Miles was connected with an old woman in a cabin who thought she could stop people from aging when they reached their fiftieth birthday. We knew someone had stabbed an actor in front of us. Aside from that, we had no idea what anyone was talking about.

"You boys ever been to the Golden Hind?"

The answer to his question was "no." We knew about the Golden Hind. It was an infamous strip club about twenty minutes from the college. According to what rumors were circulating at any given time, it was run by organized crime, it was a front for drug traffickers, it was part of an east coast prostitution syndicate... you name the rumor, it had been spread about the Golden Hind. We knew about it but had never been in. It was the kind of place where "everything goes" except for allowing underage patrons in.

"How would you boys like me to take you there tonight?
You'll see some high quality tits and ass."

Now we were really confused. This cop wanted to take us to a strip club? We we're just barely eighteen years of age and the town was in the midst of a huge campaign to stop underage drinking, as well as a campaign to run all strip clubs and adult bookstores out of town. That campaign was being run by the police with the help of citizens and local government. Ah, yes, we were naive, if you remember. We thought everything ran according to the way it was supposed to in those days. We believed in good and evil, black and white. Our eyes were about to receive an adjustment into the world of varying shades of gray. We just didn't know whether to scream, cry or thank the cop for his invitation. In the end, we cried silently inside of our tortured selves. We wished we had just stayed in our room drinking beer, smoking grass and watching MTV.

"Boys, let me tell you.
Beauty is elusive as much as it is cruel."

The cop put his arms around our shoulders and led us out of the room with a loud, obnoxious chuckle.

Thus ends Part Five of the Tragic Beauty Anthology
To Part Six: Beauty is in the Eye of the Beerholder

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