Monday, February 6, 2023

"Broken Hearted Killers" - Chapter Five

The following blog entry is one chapter in “Broken Hearted Killers,” a serial novella written by 16 Writers Who Kill. To read the complete story, please begin with Chapter One, published on the WWK blog on February 2, 2023.

By Warren Bull

“You have to tell that cute Detective Torres,” said Nella. “Did you notice he wasn’t wearing a wedding ring?”

“No, dear,” said Helen, “but I’m certain you did. I don’t want Renee to think I was trying to get back at her.”

“If they find out she was withholding information, she’ll be in trouble, even if she had nothing to do with the murder,” said Nella. “I could tell him.”

Nella smiled.

“You’re my friend,” said Helen. “She’d blame me. Oh, I know how to do it.”

Helen picked up her cell phone, found the person she wanted and pressed the button.

“Helen, it’s always good to hear from you,” said Gus O’Boyle. “Although I bet this call is about Iris’s murder. Isn’t it terrible?”

“It is, and I wonder if you could help me with something, Gus,” said Helen.

Helen gave him an update on everything that had happened.

Gus sighed. “It would be better if you told Torres himself. He’ll want to know all the details. He will surely interview you after I tell him. He’s a very good investigator. Okay, I can point him in the right direction, and you can honestly say the initial information did not come from you.”

“I can’t imagine that Renee killed Iris,” said Helen.

“Murder investigations lead in all sorts of unpleasant and unexpected ways,” said Gus. “When the victim is as nasty as Iris, dirty secrets get uncovered. That’s something I don’t miss about my detective days.”

“Really?” asked Helen. “What could turn up?”

“I don’t like to talk about it,” said Gus. “But it may restart the gossip about my divorce. My ex was sure I was having an affair with Iris. I was not. I was bored and stupid. I know I can tell you confidentially that I did things I should not have done, but not with Iris. I could have. She had some quite explicit suggestions, and she was not happy that I turned her down. After that she took pleasure in taking the credit for breaking my marriage apart. I didn’t kill her, but I definitely thought about it.” 

“She hid the worst of her cruelty from me,” said Helen.

“You were one of the few who could stand her,” said Gus. “No doubt she did not tell you about poor Ashley. Her worthless ex is scheduled for release from prison. Ashley thinks he’ll leave her alone if she hooks up with someone. She’s gone down her list of men as far as Philip. There cannot be many lower. When I gave Ashley and the twins a ride home the other day, she said Iris told her she would get her hooks into Philip to keep him out of Ashley’s reach.”

“Were you on her list?” asked Helen. “You’re good looking in a rugged way. You’d scare off her ex.”

“No,” said Gus. He chuckled. “I must have been even lower than Philip on her list. I’d like to talk more but I have to get ready for an appointment. Talk to you soon. Bye.”

Helen was filling Nella in on what Gus said when the doorbell rang with a clamor.

Helen flinched, “Nella, how did you ever talk me into getting that monstrosity?”

When Helen answered the door, a young woman in a no-nonsense black and gray pants suit began a rapid-fire monologue as she swayed from side to side. “Where is Iris Vermillion? We had an appointment and I assure you I do not have time to waste. There are police crawling through her condo and they refuse to answer my questions.”

Helen noticed that the woman’s pupils were large. Sweat dripped from her forehead. She continued without seeming to pause for breath.

“The concierge finally admitted she was a friend of yours, probably just to get rid of me. I’m Betty August, realtor extraordinaire. I have the papers that show her offer was accepted on the four bedroom, four bath, Peter Harrison designed classic. It was inspired by a Mediterranean Villa, and it has a view to die for. I thought a young couple obsessed with the property would get it. They would have been mortgaged up to their eyebrows. But Iris’s slightly lower offer of payment in cash sealed the deal. She was all hush, hush, hurry, hurry and tell no one. I need her signature to finalize the sale of the dream house and she needs to sign so I can list her condo for sale, too. So where in hell is she?”

# # #

Warren Bull is an active member of Mystery Writers of America and a life member, with no hope of parole, of Sisters in Crime.  He has written the novels: DEATH DEFERRED, HEARTLAND. ABRAHAM LINCOLN FOR THE DEFENSE, and ABRAHAM LINCOLN IN COURT & CAMPAIGN as well as the short story collections MANHATTAN MYSTERIES, KILLER EULOGY AND OTHER STORIES, and NO HAPPPY ENDINGS. He also wrote one non-fiction history book; Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories. He has been published in Strange Mysteries Anthologies (1 through 9) three Dark House Books anthologies and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. He was a clinical psychologist for 30 years in his “day job.” Nonetheless, he claims to come from a functional family. 


  1. Good twist. Can't wait to see what happens next.

  2. Way to go, Warren. Off in a new direction!

  3. leading us down the garden path, as usual. Nice job!

  4. Great twist! I'm enjoying this tremendously!

  5. Betty is a unique character introduced into this mix. Loved Helen’s conversation with Gus, which revealed a lot.