JB is on the road this week Fletcherfans, and has holed up at a truck stop in California. The reasons for this will become clear (hopefully – I fell asleep watching this episode during the week so today will be an adventure for everyone). Right now, someone called Walter Murray has just been shot and gone back to his hotel room to make a noir audiobook about his imminent demise. Which is what most people do, clearly.
A short time later, Sheriff Tugman appears, fondles the front wheel of Walter’s car and hollers for Walter to open up. This brings Jessica out of her slumber and she arrives to find out just what’s the deal. The sheriff tells her that Walter is a dangerous criminal.
“Dangerous? He’s a writer, you can reason with writers!” (Life Lesson #57).
JB convinces the sheriff not to crash in all guns blazing and just open the door, and find Walter’s body slumped in the chair. JB is perplexed as to why Walter chose to make a book-on-tape instead of seeking help, but nevertheless she and the sheriff settle in to listen to the audiobook.
Right off the bat, the motive for Walter’s murder becomes clear – he thinks he is living in a film noir movie, and narrates everything accordingly. In any case, the story begins with he and JB driving from Vegas to Los Angeles (despite JB’s request that they fly), and as they detour off the interstate he outlines the opening scene for the movie.
“A guy plants a smacker on a girl. She slaps him. He kisses her again, she likes it. But as their lips are suctioned together, she pulls a gun out of her purse. He grabs her hand. The gun goes off.”
Jessica points out that octopuses making out and pulling guns on each other is not a scene from her book and Walter tells her he’s there to adapt the essence of her book. I’m almost positive Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick had this exact conversation when making The Shining, a film that remains the scariest film ever conceived by humans (closely followed by The Babadook – anyone who makes Babadook noises near me for the next ever is going to feel my wrath).
Wait, I’m getting off track. Anyway, they pull up at a truck stop, and Walter decides he’s starving and goes into the diner. “There she was – a little the worse for wear but still a hot cup of coffee to a thirsty guy like me.”
The cup of coffee in question is Vera Gerakakis, waitress and co-owner of the diner along with her husband Peter, who is basically fed up with everything. Down the other end of the bar a random hobo is kicking back and wondering if Vera was from the south, she seems so familiar. A bike pulls up outside, on which rides Vera’s daughter and her boyfriend Desmond. Flora comes in to get some money out of the till, to which Peter offers to give her a swift kick in the backside and she takes off on the back of the bike again.
Walter watches her drive off into the sunset then realises he left his wallet in the car. On his return to the diner Sheriff Tugman is receiving his dinner order from Vera. “You sure know how to make a man happy baby,” says the Sheriff.
“From the appearance of your girth, one can only surmise that you must be ecstatic.” Says the hobo.
Tugman gets all up in the hobo’s grill when the hobo says Tugman had put on weight since the last time they met, and he goes to flee, but passes out. Vera thinks he must be hungry. “I was hungry too – a different kind of hungry,” narrates Walter.
Jess has a quiet word with Walter and demands they hit the road. Walter points out it will be dark soon but JB is done. Alas, when they get to the car, it is mysteriously not working. Roscoe the mechanic sticks his head in and offers to take a look at it.
The audiobook skips ahead to the return of Flora on the motorbike but JB calls timeout because she’s just remembered something. She was going to talk to Walter, having second thoughts about the octopus-centric nature of his script, when she spies Roscoe lurking outside Walter’s door. He tells her he’s out for a walk. JB asks him about the car, since she’d hoped he’d be able to fix it that night.
“So do I.” He muttered and wandered off.
When JB went in to see Walter, he was with Vera. Vera was crying and Walter looked distracted, like he’d been told something surprising. WHAT ON EARTH COULD IT POSSIBLY BE I WONDER.
Flora and her boyfriend Grange reappear on the bike. Pete goes nuts and slaps his daughter for being a tramp like her mother, Grange punches Pete a couple of times, everyone wins. Later that night, Walter was out narrating to himself when he heard banging from the garage. He checks it out and finds Pete smashing up his car. Pete goes after him with a tyre iron, drops it and goes for the wrench. Walter grabs the tire iron and clocks Pete with it, killing him. This is the worst game of Cluedo ever.
JB and Tugman continue the tape (although if you watch carefully, when Tugman presses play you can’t see the tape winding. Yes I know all about tapes). “So there I was, a still on my hands, and a damned heavy one too,” says Walter.
Walter decides to make Pete’s death look like an accident, by lowering the car lift onto his body. “And it would have worked too, if that busybody Fletcher dame hadn’t stuck her nose in it…”
“…that lard-bottomed lawman would have bought the whole scheme.”
JB is on the case and straight away sees it’s murder. Tugman immediately jumps to conclusions and decides it’s Grange, Flora’s bikie boyfriend. This gives Walter an idea and when he sees Grange drop one of his bike gloves on his way in to get Flora, he pounces. He grabs the glove and leaves it in the garage, knowing that it won’t be hard to get Tugman to go back to search the garage again. Tugman plays his part and arrests Grange, while being beat up by Flora.
Later that night Flora goes to pay Walter a visit to apologise for suggesting Walter and Vera were getting it on, and to ask for a ride to LA. Walter refuses, saying she’s better off staying with her mother. Flora tells him her bags are packed, and if he won’t help her she’ll find another way. Vera comes rushing out of the next room to stop her – Flora tells her she hates her and isn’t going to get stuck in this crappy town like her mother.
After being harangued by JB Walter goes to find out how long til the car is fixed. He finds out that Roscoe and Pete were in the service together, and that Pete wasn’t too pleased that Roscoe liked Vera. Roscoe informs Walter that someone disconnected the fuel line on his car, which seems like someone wanted to stay in town and get something done. He also knows that gloves don’t just walk int garages – they need a hand. OH THE LOLZ.
Since it was clear Roscoe wanted Walter to pay him off and get out of town, Walter hatches a plan to solve all his problems. He decides to plant the murder weapon at Roscoes, kill him and make it look like self defence. Alas, it didn’t go according to plan, and Roscoe and Walter end up shooting each other.
And there, the audiobook ends. Tugman and JB confirm that Roscoe is dead, but JB is not convinced by Walter’s confession. She cannot understand why he didn’t come to her after he’d been shot. Tugman grudgingly agrees to get caliber and fingerprint tests, but as far as he’s concerned they’ve got his favourite kind of killer – a dead one.
JB investigates Walter’s room but the police have taken everything. Vera appears to tidy up, and she’s devastated that after all these years he’s gone. JB tells her she thinks it’s not a coincidence that she and Walter came to the trucksop. Flora turns up and is shocked to learn a) that Walter is dead and b) that he confessed to killing Pete and Roscoe. She goes off to find out from Tugman when he’s releasing Grange but he tells her that he already has and Grange has gotten the hell out of Dodge. The hobo reappears and says the sheriff would know all about it, and Tugman goes nuts again. JB asks him if he found the envelope Walter was consulting on their drive over but it’s nowhere to be found. Jessica is convinced Walter lied, but Tugman won’t have a bar of it – besides the gun shot residue on Walter’s hands confirms that at he killed Roscoe.
Jess finds the hobo (it turns out his name is Desmond) in the diner and asks him how he knows so much about Tugman. Before she can get a straight answer a man comes in and introduces himself as Terence Locke, life insurance. He asks for Vera who comes out of the kitchen and tells him it’s not a good time to be selling life insurance to her. He tells her he’s here to settle up Pete’s life insurance – $250,000, as per her phone call the previous day, an hour after Pete had been found dead.
JB shows him the crime scene and shows him the report of Pete’s injuries – they don’t match the way Walter said it went down on the tape. Terence agrees that it was murder, and that it would appear someone hit him from behind but with not enough force to kill him. Terence comes clean about a fact he’s been withholding – Vera isn’t the beneficiary of Pete’s policy, Flora is.
As they drive over to the hotel where Flora lives with her mother, JB explains that she’s almost certain that Flora is Walter’s daughter, not Pete’s, and she thinks she has a way to prove whether or not Flora killed Pete to stop him changing his life insurance policy away from her.
JB pays a visit to Flora, who is preparing to get the hell out, and passes on her condolences about the death of her father…and also the death of Pete. Flora tells her she only found out a half hour earlier from her mother. She asks JB how she’s getting back to LA and whether she can get a lift. JB says she’ll see what she can do. Meanwhile, Terence is giving Vera papers to sign. She’s surprised to learn that Flora is the beneficiary of the policy, but says she’s glad Pete thought of her. Terence (clearly under instruction from JB) tells Vera she made a mistake, that she forgot to destroy the letter she sent Walter. She tells him if he doesn’t leave she will call his company and threaten law suits until he is fired. She leaves, rushes back to her room to find the letter and burn it.
Well there it is.
Vera killed Pete, got Walter to cover it up and kill Roscoe. And in the end the insurance money wasn’t even hers. What I’m trying to say is that this episode absolutely needed more octopuses.