Wired for Murder
by Karen McCullough
Most of the time, Heather McNeil loves her job as assistant to the director of the Washington DC Market Show Center. Because she’s a good listener and even better at solving problems, her boss assigns her to handle a lot of the day to day issues that arise during the shows, exhibits, and conferences being held there. When Heather becomes an unwilling audience to murder during the Business Technology Expo and later finds the body, she’s willing to let the police take care of it. But she soon learns more than she wanted to know about the victim and all the people who really didn’t like him very much.
Just two hours into setup day of the annual Business Technology Show at the Washington, D.C Commerce and Market Center, I was struggling to keep from screaming at an exhibitor. That was so not me. I was cool, calm, collected Heather McNeill. The person who could handle even the most troublesome people. Most of the time.
Dieter Gebhardt was pushing my buttons and he knew it.
“I do not understand vy you say ve cannot do this.” A hint of smirk leaked onto his face. The tiny curl of his lip belied his pretended ignorance of my meaning, much less the authority behind the words. The sales representative for Schwartz-Mann GmbH was playing me, and I couldn’t tell if he really thought he could get his way by feigning stupidity or if he was trying to score some machismo points. I didn’t care about the points, but he damned well wasn’t going to win the argument.
The whine of an electric screwdriver a couple of booths away almost drowned me out as I explained yet again why the market center couldn’t allow the huge, powerful, multi-colored strobe lights they’d set up on poles around their booth to flash all the time. If those weren’t bad enough by themselves, a set of sirens went along with them, blaring every few minutes. No way that could continue.
The complaints had started flooding in after the first blare shrieked around the show floor. I was dispatched to have a talk with the perpetrators.
When Gebhardt finally got the message that pretending stupidity wasn’t going to win the argument, he tried a different tactic, waving a piece of paper in my face “Ve haf planned lights and display many months ago. Rules say ve can haf the lights and sound. This is not so?”
I stared at him for a moment, irritated again by the smarmy smile that leaked past his attempt to maintain a straight face. Asshole. He was too good-looking for his own good, but too much of a jerk to be attractive. I was willing to bet his English was a lot better than he let on.
Karen McCullough is the author of more than a dozen published novels in the mystery, romantic suspense, and fantasy genres and has won numerous awards, including an Eppie Award for fantasy. She’s also been a four-time Eppie finalist, and a finalist in the Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards contests. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. She has three children, three grandchildren and lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years.