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Blackmailing Bartender Slain by Lifeguard at the Dive Bar

Steely Dan echoed in the dimly lit bar as patrons took advantage of the $2 whiskey drinks. No one could predict that this Tuesday night at The Dive Bar would end in murder. And then a $250 cash prize to the person who solved it.

Unless they read the flyer of course.

Over charcuterie, cupcakes, and those $2 whiskey drinks, the staff and patrons alike costumed themselves in their finest resort wear and channeled their inner detective to take part in the joint's first murder mystery night.

See also: Someone Is Going to Die at the Dive Bar Tonight

Set in the fictional beachside resort, Maragaritaland, the Dive Bar was decked in ocean trinkets for the night. Upon entering the bar, patrons were inducted into the game with Hawaiian leis.

Beginning with an awkward start, confused patrons were unsure who was acting and who wasn't. The staff at the Dive Bar were all characters in the twisted plot, but fittingly so: The Dive Bar's server who flitted around the joint taking orders all night, played the fictional Kylie Cocktail, the cocktail waitress. The Dive Bar's bartender mixed drinks behind the bar as he played the fictional Jack Daniels, the bartender who would later die.

They did this all while divulging pieces of the puzzle that patrons tried to put together.

To those that had never been to the Dive Bar, it was unclear, and for precautionary measures, everyone was suspicious of everyone. Balancing my reporter's notepad, and a camera, and asking guests for quotes, quite a few pegged me for killer, even after I explained I was only observing.

"That's what they want us think, right? I bet you are the murderer," one guest told me apprehensively.

All the fictional characters had humorous names with appropriate puns -- the bellhop was called BJ Baggage. The patrons used the white name badges to differentiate the characters from the guests.

Then suddenly there was a scream, and when everyone looked on the stage, the bartender, of the bar and in the game, had fallen over in his chair, dead (albeit with a few postmortem chuckles).

Asking questions, and getting suggestive answers, it seemed each character had a motive, yet pointed fingers to someone else: the resort's owner whose girlfriend was having an affair with the bartender, the girlfriend of the lottery winner who the bartender was infatuated with, and even his ex-girlfriend.

And everyone, already very cautious, tried to think a step ahead of everyone else. Some accused those that seemed to have no motive at all.

"I think it's the least obvious people [that did it]," Liz Hadgkiss said squinting her eyes. "It's the newlyweds. They look too happy."

Once everyone seemed certain they knew who the killer was, patrons submitted their accusatory ballots in hopes they would guess the killer correctly. Surprisingly, of the crowded bar of participants, only two had guessed right.

Co-owner of the Dive Bar and man-in-charge of the night's festivities, Cody Cole, appropriately played the cop investigating the murder. He concluded that it was the lifeguard who killed the bartender because he had been blackmailing him.

Linking the handwriting on the bartender's tattoo to the handwriting on the threatening napkin note (the tattoo artist vouched it was an original design in the bartender's script), it was determined that the bartender had been blackmailing the lifeguard because he wasn't on duty to rescue the drowning movie star. The lifeguard was drunk after having purchased too many drinks at the bar (his hefty bar receipt was used as evidence) which the bartender knew and jumped in the water himself to save the flailing celebrity.

With a $500 prize, the winners split their winnings like a lottery ticket. One of the winners, upon receiving his $250 in cash, held it to the light and darted almost immediately out of the bar before he could comment.

The other winner, Betty Camp, stuck around to celebrate. She claims it was the poison in the toxic margarita used to kill the bartender that led her to accuse the lifeguard of murder.

"Calcium hypochlorite is used to clean pools," Camp answers coolly. "Once I realized that, I knew it had to be the lifeguard because only he would have access to the pool cleaning chemicals."

With everyone deeming the night a success, Cody Cole announced at the end to expect another murder mystery night in the upcoming months as soon as he plots his next murder.

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Jess Swanson is a staff writer at New Times. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami’s School of Communication and wrote briefly for the student newspaper until realizing her true calling: pissing off fraternity brothers by reporting about their parties on her crime blog. Especially gifted in jumping rope and solving Rubik’s cubes, she also holds the title for longest stint as an unpaid intern in New Times history. She left the Magic City for New York to earn her master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, where she spent a year profiling circumcised men who were trying to regrow their foreskins for a story that ultimately won the John Horgan Award for Critical Science Journalism. Terrified by pizza rats and arctic temperatures, she quickly returned to her natural habitat.
Contact: Jess Swanson

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