Mystery Fiction Crime

This story contains sensitive content

Language Alert, references to nonconsensual Sex:

Sinjin Rice is getting married; she picked cattails by the lake this morning for her bouquets.

After wrapping the stems in burlap ribbon, she wove crystals into the fabric from an Art Deco chandelier she found in an antique shop.

She is breathtaking, wearing a vintage-inspired wedding gown of Chantilly Lace she saw in the window of the little shop on Grand Street. Long curls with golden highlights flow down her back. 

The procession begins with her three younger sisters leading the way down the moonlit aisle, wearing velvet hues plucked from the sunset just before it disappeared over the Western horizon. 

Caylee Garibaldi, Sinjin's best friend and her maid of honor looks radiant in silk, spun in the sunset's most brilliant shade of amber. 

Diamond earrings in the shape of two hearts, a wedding gift from her proud daddy, reflect the starlight as she waits to begin her walk down the aisle in her Great-grandmother Rice’s jeweled slippers—the slippers she wore on her wedding day so many years ago. 

Loved ones are gathered in the old barn down the road from her family's orchard, where she grew up. It leans at a crooked angle, standing alone in the field, it's been that way ever since she can remember, and it's the only place she ever wanted to be married.

Holes in the roof align perfectly to stream moonlight on Sinjin as she walks down the aisle to Harry's side. 

The wedding march echoes through the night air, performed eloquently by owls hooting and whistling in the corner of the rickety hey loft.

Sinjin can almost see Harry, at the altar built from some of the barn's wood, adorned with a few of the cattails she hand-picked in the dew at sunrise.

The late August evening is cool, and the moon is fuller in the cloudless sky than she has seen before—a sign that their nuptials are meant to be. Sinjin wanted to marry Harry Forbes since she first laid eyes on him, standing by the school steps with his hands in his pockets. But Harry is missing.

Sinjin woke from the odyssey, her only memory of a wedding day that never was.

A ten-fifteen flight meant she had to leave for the airport in less than an hour. Sinjin looked in the mirror to see how much work lay in front of her before leaving the house. In her reflection, she still saw the skinny little freckled-faced girl with the sun-streaked unmanageable curls and a mouth full of braces. 

Now the sun streaks were from a bottle, and she paid a lot of money for makeup to cover the freckles. Her long curly hair stuck out in several directions, and she pulled it up into a ponytail. Sinjin heard the honk of the cab horn and reached for her bags.

The freelance journalist was off to the Cliffs of Moher, located in Liscannor, County Clare, Ireland. The

PathFinders Travel magazine had commissioned her to write an article accompanied by a photo layout for a future edition. 

After landing at the Shannon Ireland airport, Sinjin met her driver for the ride

to the Moher Cliffs Hotel in Liscannor. It was nearly midnight in Greenwich Meantime

when she fell asleep before crawling under the covers.

The road to the spot on the cliffs set for the photo shoot was a short distance from Liscannor. It curved around the Wild Atlantic Way, a rugged coastline on the North Atlantic. 

The wind tossed his sandy brown hair about as he stood near the cliff’s edge. Of course, the experience wasn’t new; it was never Harry. 

Sinjin breathed in the salty air, absorbing everything around her, completely missing it in her haste to get to Harry. The view from the towering heights was stunning, the sun glistening on the water. Seagulls squawked and circled overhead as waves crashed against the rocks far below. 

The cliffs are an easily recognized backdrop in several movies, Dubbed the ‘Cliffs of Insanity,’ in the Princess Bride cult classic. 

Egans Bar, a cozy place with a fire in the fireplace would make an interesting footnote to her piece on the Cliffs. A handsome bartender named Ryan O'Reilly, with a soft Irish lilt in his voice, greeted everyone who came through the door. Sinjin asked Ryan to pour her a pint of Guinness on draft. A waitress seated her in the back room, at a table next to a window overlooking an old brick patio and beer garden filled with bar patrons, 

The first thing she did once she arrived home in Seattle was to call her mom and check in. Gail lived on Bainbridge Island with a panoramic view of the Seattle skyline. She’d divorced Sinjin’s father and left him the orchard in Spokane, Washington.

Sinjin was dating a great guy, a realtor, Kristopher Sykes who was a couple of years her senior. Kristopher was the spitting image of Harry, right down to similarly green eyes. They had fun together, especially in the bedroom.

Shortly after talking to her mom, he called asking to meet, “ For a bit of foreplay.”

That was his way of asking her to have dinner, and later he would stay a couple of hours until he left in the soft rain falling outside her window. A five-minute walk from her house in the Queen Anne Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Sinjin caught the light rail.

They met at their favorite eatery, The Triple Door Restaurant, and Jazz Bar. After eating, they stopped at the stage area for a drink and listened to the Charles Lloyd Quartet while sipping their drinks. 

The rain was falling harder when they left, so Kristopher went for his car. Sinjin opened her umbrella and stepped closer to the curb to wait. Car lights glared in the rain with an orange halo around the beams

A dizzy feeling came over her but she chalked it up to fatigue after the long flight and

alcohol on top of that.

Sinjin began to float as raindrops hit her face and suddenly she was in the old shed. The one by the apple trees with Harry. There was the sensation that she was outside watching but also taking an active part in the scene unfolding before her.

Both she and Harry were having the time of their life until her

daddy threw open the door, and sunlight hit Harry’s bare butt. Her daddy was screaming, and Sinjin began screaming too. Harry was running away, naked from the waist down, without his jeans with his limp penis flopping in the breeze.

The next thing she knew, it was three in the morning, and Kristopher was nowhere in sight. All she remembered about the dream was Harry and lovemaking in the old shed. There was evidence she had a sexual encounter, and she was falling out of the bathrobe she didn't remember putting on. Looking around the bedroom, it appeared they had a good time.

Scattered over the rug were the clothes she had worn the previous evening, and the bed was a mess, the same as it always was

after he left. 

A wave of nausea came over Sinjin as she placed one foot at a time on the floor and climbed gingerly out of bed. She sprinted to the bathroom, getting there in time to bend over the toilet and vomit. 

Sinjin called Kristopher from the light rail on her way to a spin class. 

“Where in the hell did you disappear to while I was getting the car,” he asked. It was clear he wasn't in the mood to discuss the dubious events from the past evening. In any event, she thought he could have asked if she was alright. 

Before Sinjin left for another assignment in New York she called Caylee, and they talked briefly. She mentioned that she hadn’t heard from Kristopher all week. Caylee quickly announced that she had met with him that afternoon. The firm where she worked as a paralegal did legal work for Kristopher’s real estate agency so it wasn't an unusual occurrence.

Sinjin met her interview in the lobby of the Concord Hotel in downtown Manhattan. Gentleman's Quarterly (GQ) commissioned an in-depth background editorial and photo montage with the successful business tycoon.

Afterward, they had lunch at Bonsall, a restaurant in the hotel. At the end of the afternoon, he asked if she wanted to spend the night in his suite. Glad she had the good sense to refuse his none-too-subtle proposal, Sinjin returned to Seattle the following morning.

Around nine that evening, Kristopher finally called, he sounded distant and she heard a woman's laughter it had

a familiar ring but he denied being with anyone. She asked if he wanted to come over and open the bottle of Johnny Walker Top Shelf Addition Scotch he'd given her a couple of weeks ago for her twenty-ninth birthday.

He declined her

offer because of an early breakfast meeting. Kristopher encouraged her to open her birthday scotch but she decided to save it for later.

After hanging up she looked for a bottle of her regular scotch in the liquor cabinet. There were only two bottles of Kristopher’s wine on the shelf.

Since she hated wine and there was no sign of her scotch in the cabinet, she poured two fingers of the Johnny Walker into a glass and added a splash of water. 

She changed into a nightgown and robe, reclining on the couch to stretch out resting her feet on the ottoman. Sinjin called Caylee, to continue their visit from the other night, but she didn’t pick up. Just for an instant, it crossed her mind that she might be with Kristopher, but she dismissed it and reached for the scotch and water. 

Only half of the drink was finished when she stood up to get the TV remote and look for an enjoyable movie. Feeling drowsy and stumbling, there was barely enough time to reach the bed before falling asleep.

Again she was back in the shed with Harry, only now Harry looked like Kristopher, and Sinjin realized they didn’t look that much alike. 

Something jolted her awake and there was a good deal of wetness on the sheet beneath her.

The nightgown she remembered slipping on last night was around her waist, and the robe lay on the floor next to the bed. The dream followed the same scenario apart from the flash of Kristopher's face, and she thought he was being rough.

The room was spinning when Sinjin started toward the bathroom, where she vomited two or three times, mostly the dry heaves because she hadn’t eaten in hours.

When Kristopher finally answered her call,

he sounded unusually out of breath and it was evident he wasn’t at a meeting. This time there was what sounded like a giggle in the background close to Kristopher.

Feeling much better after eating, Sinjin dressed and went out to the front porch to have her morning coffee. The fragrance of holly trees and other lush greenery that grows so prolifically on this side of the mountains hung in the morning air. She Inhaled while looking over the landscape, mentally comparing the contrast of it with that of Spokane. It was time to go for a brisk jog. 

As usual, her morning routine took her through the quiet Queen Anne Hill neighborhood she had lived in since graduating with a degree in journalism and photography. 

From the top of the hill, she could see all of Seattle with Mount Rainier in the distance, and she loved it there. In less than a block, she came to an abrupt stop

It was then that Sinjin knew she couldn’t go on wondering what the fuck had happened to Harry. She didn't know if she and Kristopher had a future or if she even wanted that.

It was time to visit her daddy in Spokane to get more answers. It was early, she could be there by twelve-thirty. 

Sinjin tore down the driveway. The car’s wheels flattened flower beds planted along the way to the house where she lived until she left for college. In the rearview mirror, Sinjin could see dirt and gravel flying in the air behind her. While still in motion, she shifted gears into park. The car slid sideways and slammed to a stop.    

Sinjin didn't bother to say hello,

“What did you do to Harry,” she shouted.

 “Sinjin, are you having a breakdown," he asked, concerned. Harry ran off with your best friend, what’s her name? That's why I was so angry when I walked in on you and Harry on the same apple carts I found him and Caylee a few days earlier.”

Sinjin screamed, but no sound came from her lips. As she brushed tears from her cheeks, she asked,

“Why... Caylee always had her pick of men.” 

Her father tried to explain,

“Since you were babies, Caylee wanted whatever you had. 

He thought she should call her mother.

After feigning ignorance at first her mother finally admitted to her part in the


“Harry was eager to play along. He never wanted to get married in the first place and I helped them move to Seattle. Gail cleared her throat nervously, I knew it wouldn't take long for Caylee to get tired of his sorry ass.”

Sinjin thought if she was writing about this pathetic mess, she’d win a Pulitzer for it, but sadly, she was living it.

When she slammed the receiver of the rotary phone down her father gently directed her to take a chair at the kitchen table while he fixed her a drink

Sinjin took the drink from her father and it

reminded her of the scotch she poured

last night from Kristopher’s gift. The former investigative reporter for the Seattle Times sat back in the chair to examine all the facts.

Kristopher could have carefully broken the seal and removed the cork found in bottles of the Top Shelf Addition Scotch and added something to the contents or he could have injected a liquid through the cork and resealed the bottle.

Subsequently, all he had left to do was get rid of the bottles she kept in the liquor cabinet. 

Sinjin had tried desperately to deny the evidence as it piled up. Now she knew it had to be Caylee laughing and giggling in the background on the phone and it was all beginning to piss her off.

The first time she experienced the hallucination with Harry on the apple carts. Kristopher had the opportunity to taint her after-dinner drink at the Triple Door when he went to the bar to place their order.

“Such a gentleman,” she mumbled bitterly. 

The second time she saw Kristopher’s face possibly due to how little of the scotch and water she drank before passing out. 

Sinjin’s father listened as he rubbed his forehead and sighed in disgust. 

She was up before daybreak the next day, ready to confront her nightmares. 

Sinjin drove to Kristopher's agency and rolled halfway onto the sidewalk scraping the car’s

bumper on a fire hydrant.

Kristopher’s smile quickly dissolved into an insolent, self-serving grin as Sinjin stomped into his office shouting loud enough for anyone in a three-block radius to hear,

“You’re a sick depraved bastard!”

“It wasn’t until I had lunch one afternoon with Caylee that, Kristopher was beginning to sound like a whiny child, I realized you were never going

to get over her lap dog—Harry,”

“Was the lunch foreplay or the cigarette after?

Sinjin asked, smiling casually, and did your jealousy of Harry make it okay for you to screw my best friend, drug and rape me while I was unconscious?”

The inquiries ended with her throwing a succerpunch at Kristopher’s nose. 

Sinjin blew on her burning knuckles before she snapped angrily,

“Where is my best friend?”

“At her office,” he answered, fumbling for a handkerchief in his pocket.

Other realtors and office staff run, clamoring to his doorway to see Kristopher holding his bloody nose. 

Sinjin seized a handful of Caylee's hair and yanked her close to hiss

in her ear,

“I know what you and Kristopher have been up to.”

“Caylee was screaming like a banshee,

 “We were just having fun.”

 “Was watching Kristopher sexually assault me fun,” Sinjin asked.

“Uh, okay... The

Rohypnole was my idea,” Caylee whispered

The rest of it was all Kristopher's,”

she said indignantly.

“Oh yes, was taking off with Harry and hiding out in Seattle another example of you just having fun?” Sinjin prodded.

Between spit and gulps of air, Caylee screeched,

“Harry was getting fat and bald, like his old man, by the time I threw his body out of my car over a ravine in the mountains 

Sinjin growled. you did what?

“It was an accident, Caylee sniveled. We fought and I hit him in the temple with the spike heel of one of my shoes,”

“An accident,” Sinjin repeated, raising an eyebrow. 

It was surprising to her that she didn't feel more sadness over Harry's death.

Office doors slowly creaked open as heads peeked out to see what was going on, and ironically no one seemed to care that Caylee's ass was getting kicked royally down the hall.

It didn't occur to Sinjin at first that she held several long black hair extensions. Judging from the spot she yanked, the extensions from Caylee’s natural hair was relatively short, and there was a definite gray outgrowth. Sinjin nearly peed her pants laughing. It was no wonder it still looked as beautiful as when they were teens. She called her news sources at the local precinct and waited for a squad car.

Ryan O'Reilly, the handsome bartender, and Sinjin Rice are the proud new owners of Egans Bar. Up the narrow staircase is a cozy apartment they call home. From the back windows, there is a view of rolling green hills and in the distance the quiet beauty of Liscannor Bay. 

The tall windows on the other side look over the bar’s front patio and town square where tourists roam the little shops year


In the night a bell dings in the harbor signaling a boat’s location in the fog.

October 13, 2023 16:09

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Michał Przywara
23:36 Oct 22, 2023

This story starts off fairly quietly, with some pensive remembrance and then working a day job - even if that day job involves travel to interesting locations. We add a bit of relationship drama... but there's a hint of something else going on, and as the story proceeds, the "something else" becomes bigger and darker, until everything is revealed - and holy crap! Caylee and Kristopher are insane! They gaslighted (gaslit?) the Crap out of Sinjin, and worse, it seems like her family was in on some of the Harry bits. But then the rohypnol take...


Judith Jerdé
13:43 Oct 23, 2023

Michal, thank you so much for taking the time to read A Scotch and Lies. So many stories so little time to read all of them. I always enjoy reading your work!


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22:03 Oct 14, 2023

Wow a lot to digest here! This is like a whole drama series In one short story. I like the matter of fact delivery of the lines. I've been to the cliffs of moher . They are indeed very scary!


Judith Jerdé
22:29 Oct 14, 2023

Derrick thank u for reading ‘A Scotch and Lies.’ I hope eventually I’ll learn to condense my storylines. I often find myself with a novella when I only wanted a 3000 word story.


22:30 Oct 14, 2023

Lol believe me I know!.this is my life!!! 😂


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Mary Bendickson
19:52 Oct 14, 2023

Lots of travel and action. And betrayal. Thanks for liking my Gift And 'When Falls the Night'


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