Archive for November, 2012

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

November 26, 2012

 

Rape Kit continued

Episode 16

 

And…” a hand came out of the door pushing Sheriff Leland back, “he wants a woman.”  Another hand came out after him then, and pulled him forward.  “And… not Ruth.”  The hand appeared to be Ramey’s.

Leland stood there nonplussed.

“I believe it is in the patient’s best interest, Leland,” Doc Chatham whispered.

“I believe I’ve got just what you need,” Leland said, holstering his pistol.  And he waved Agent Hailey over.

“Ramey, meet Agent Hailey of the FBI.  Agent Hailey, of the FBI, meet Ramey.”  Leland pushed on the door.  “Ramey.  You’re going to have to open the door wider if you want to Agent Hailey to be able to get through.”

The door slowly opened wider.

Leland introduced Agent Hailey again with a nod.

Ramey looked like hell.  But he looked at Agent Hailey, sized her up with a hardened aspect that Leland had never seen on Dentist Ramey before, and let the door swing open as he turned on his heel and stepped back inside.  Agent Hailey gave Leland a ‘what-the-hell?’ look.

“I’ll get the kit,” Leland said.  He motioned that she should go in.

 

“It’s not so much a split-personality disorder as it is a two-person personality disorder,” Dr. Chatham said as he conferred quietly with Leland outside on some porch chairs.

Meanwhile, Agent Hailey was inside questioning Ramey and performing a rape kit exam, ‘however that goes,’ Leland wondered.

“Typically, with a split personality, it’s just that.”  Doc Chatham stared at Leland intently.  “Either of the personalities may have their own name because they share none of the personality traits of the other.  Whichever character represents the splinter personality is what the literary crowd might call a ‘stock’ character or a ‘flat’ character.  They are the simple possessor of one character trait the heretofore ‘whole’ personality disavows, in essence saying, ‘that’s not me.’”  Doc Chatham spread his arms wide.

Leland nodded.  He’d watched the movies too.  And he didn’t much care for this ‘psychobabble’.

“But in Ramey’s case, this ‘splinter personality’ is much more like a ‘whole’ person!  It has its own name, sure.  But it also has a history and knows things which would seemingly be foreign to a person like Ramey.  Unless our Ramey has been very clever at living two, totally different lives.  And, one life is as a woman.”  Doc Chatham stopped as if to let that sink in.

Leland wondered where he thought it was going to ‘sink’.

“The upshot of this is that either I am being totally buffaloed, or I’ve never seen or heard of anything of this sort before.”

Leland stared at him.

“That is, of course, outside of the movies.”

“Oh yeah?  What movies have you seen?”

“I was just being rhetorical… or something,” Doc Chatham spread his hands… possibly in hope.  As if he were entreating Leland to dispel the confusion and perhaps come up with something.

“And you are going to ask me to bill the County for,” “….this?”  Leland and Doc Chatham stood taking the measure of either for a long breath.   Leland spun his hand.

This got old Doc Chatham’s back up.  “You can take that up with my office manager, Leland.”

Leland didn’t want to take up anything with her.  And he didn’t think Ruth would either.

“Fine.  Okay.  Thanks for your help in this time of crisis Doc,” Leland grumbled.

The Doc left abruptly, and Leland stood outside for a while, before he figured it was better that he go in.  Just ‘cause it was silent, you never know what could have happened.  He knocked softly.

“C’mon in,” Agent Hailey chirruped sweetly.  “We’re all done.”  She opened the door while snapping a latex glove from her right hand.

“You don’t want to know,” she said, in answer to Leland’s astonished glance.

Ramey was lying naked on a living room table with his knees up and partially covered by a sheet.

Photo by Carl Nelson

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Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

November 23, 2012

Rape Kit

(Episode 15)

After Leland had dealt with the last of the reporters, he returned to the booth where he sat, eating his pie across from Agent Hailey.  “You want to come with me to visit a suspect?”  He asked.

“Why all the favors?”  Agent Hailey replied.

“As long as you’re going to get pimped, you might as well get paid.” Leland said.  “Besides you may come in handy.”

“Handy?  How so?”  Agent Hailey put down her fork.  She hadn’t eaten much of the pie.  Which was too bad, Leland thought, because the pie was good.  “You want the rest of it?”

Leland rose.  “C’mon, let’s go.”

As they left the café Leland shouted back to Carmella, “Department billing.”

Carmella flipped her receipt book and wrote this on the back of the check.

“Regular tip,” Leland added.

Carmella nodded and scribbled a quick calculation on the front of the check.  “What do you want me to call it?!”  Carmella called after him.   “A date?!”  She flipped the receipt book over again and looked real interested as she smiled at Leland.

“Community rela  …PRESS relations,” Leland corrected himself, and slammed the door behind them.

Out by the Kimmel County Sheriff’s SUV, Leland paused before unlocking the vehicle.  “If you come, you’ve got to promise me this is just between you and us.  The FBI proper needn’t know any of this yet.”

Agent Hailey didn’t hop in.

“Hey.  They ‘pimp’ you out.  They’re assuming you’ll do what’s needed to please the customer.”

Agent Hailey looked up and down the street, perhaps looking for her vanished partner, as she considered this.

“Why don’t you want me to share any of this with the Agency?”  Agent Hailey asked, after she’d settled in and fastened her seat belt.

“Because this town only has one dentist.  And if the FBI were to interrogate him presently, like as not, he’d be whisked off to a black project somewhere and we’d never see hide nor hair of him again.”  He pulled down his lower lip.   “And I’ve got receding gums.”

“Sorry to hear it.”  Agent Hailey replied.

Leland nodded.

Heading out of town by way of a network of back alleys and crossing a dirt lot or two, Leland shook the remnants of the press corps which had stuck to his tail like burrs.  Agent Hailey raised her brows at the irregularity, and gripped the door handle, initially thinking that perhaps this Sheriff was the town lunatic.  But when Leland indicated the rear view mirror with a nod of his head, Agent Hailey looked behind and caught the method behind this madness.  The last of the press vehicles was bottomed out on a log hidden in a field of weeds and the fellow was getting slowly out to inspect the damage.

“So…” Leland began as they hit the paved road leading north out of town with a brief chirp of the tires, “…Ramey, our local dentist / psychic.”  And he began filling Agent Hailey in on the details to date as he drove swiftly north.

By the time they had reached Ramey’s, Agent Hailey was pretty well up to speed on all that Leland presently knew about the case – as it applied to Ramey.

“It sounds to me like we have already located the killer,” Agent Hailey said as they pulled into Ramey’s gravel drive.  There was another car there, which Leland knew to be Doctor Chatham’s.  “Unless you believe this man can truly predict events?” Agent Hailey adjusted her hip holster to cant her duty weapon a bit more comfortably. The Glock 23 functioned flawlessly, in sand, rain, and mud, but carried like a plastic brick.

“Were it so simple,” Leland sighed, remained seated in the car and indicated Agent Hailey should do likewise.  “But there are ways any normal person, and especially a hypersensitive Dentist/Psychic like Ramey could have come across a snippet of this information around here.  And then there are some other discrepancies.  Ramey doesn’t have any buddies to speak of, and all indications are that these crimes involve two perps.  Second, I know that Ramey is nervous around any kind of weapon.  And third, I just have a real hard time imagining Ramey as any kind of sadistic murderer.”  Leland indicated Agent Hailey’s revolver.  “So let’s not shoot him, just yet.”

“Fine,”  Agent Hailey said, holstering her revolver.  “Do I take the front or the back?”

“You take the side,” Leland indicated with a toss of his head.  “That way you’ll be able to see both exits.  I’ll go in.  Give me five minutes.  And I’ll either step back out and wave you in,  or you can break down the door and come in shooting.”

“Gee.  Sounds like fun.”

So that’s what they did.  Agent Hailey stationed herself twenty yards south of the house, where she could see both entrances to the home with revolver raised and locked in both hands.  And Leland rang the buzzer.

Doctor Chatham answered it, peering out the cracked door.  Leland had to bend down to hear him.

“He wants a rape kit,” were the first words Doctor Chatham uttered.

“You’re kidding,” Leland replied.

“Noooope!”

Photo by Carl Nelson

From the Editor’s Perch

November 22, 2012

Follow the Money

(Our Adolescent Culture and How Discretionary Spending Determines It)

As I stood at the breakfast counter this morning – in between the lubbity-dub sounds of my inner contentment and love – it occurred to me that the majority of our discretionary spending was done by my cereal slurping son.  My wife and I bring in a good income.  But our expenditures are quite practical.  House payments, car payments, every day repairs, utilities, foodstuffs and medical bills consume most of our income.  That’s my wife and I.  Our son, on the other hand, has little income.  But the income he has is spent almost entirely on ‘new’ products.

My son hasn’t a lot of money to spend (though he does pretty well at leveraging mine).  But what money he does spend is spent almost entirely on new culture: music, movies, snacks, designer drinks,concerts, trending clothes and sports.  And while I spend much of my money buying time in order to produce the plays, writings, stories, poems, and pictures through which I hope to beautify our culture, …what I do isn’t wagging much dog.  My son, on the other hand, devotes almost all his money to purchasing what is new.  And his money seems to be wagging quite a bit of dog! and wallpapering our culture stem to stern.

The years have shown me that culture and politics tend to go wherever there is new money to be made.  So after realizing that my son does the cultural ‘voting’ for our family, I suffered a buffeting series of revelations.

You want to change the world?  Don’t go to school, study hard, work, and learn the difficult lessons of the life and all that – because all that stuff is in the public domain.  You want to change the culture?  You’ll be much more effective if you simply go buy something from WalMart.  It’s that ‘Golden Rule’:  ‘Those that have the gold, make the rules.’  My son’s viewpoint is winning, hands down.

Finally, I’ve connected the dots and realized that the reason our culture strikes me as terribly adolescent is because it is mostly financed by adolescents; the businesspeople who make their livings by catering to adolescents; and the cultural media who pander to the adolescents ideas of the ‘new’.  As opposed to the Ten Commandments, which God knows, are in the public domain and we’ve all heard a thousand times.  (Don’t even bring them up!  you want to sell anything.)

Anyway, perhaps if I were a genius, these words might charm our culture more to my liking; provoke a change, or even get me arrested.  For the time being however, the most culturally puissant thing I’m probably going to do, is to shop.  I’ll just drive down to a Wal-Mart or one of the Big Box stores and purchase something.  This simple action as a consumer will probably wield far more influence than I will ever have as an artist. Few will follow my art, but most can spot and make change for a fifty real well.

And that’s just the way it is… for now.  🙂

Photo by Carl Nelson

Murders in Progress

November 18, 2012

Downtown Kimmel

Romance Over Pie

(Episode 14)

Agent Hailey returned with two capped, Styrofoam containers of coffee.

“Where is Agent Curtis?”  She looked around.

Leland nodded to indicate the direction Agent Curtis took.

Agent Hailey swore, stared up the street a while and then offered Leland the coffee.

“Thanks.”  He reached for the coffee.  “Agent Curtis suggested I buy you a slice of cherry pie.”  He nodded his head to indicate the café across the street out of which she had just come.

“So he pimped me out again.” Agent Hailey snorted.  She took a moment to survey her options, which included a short visual inspection of Leland.  “Sure.”

Leland glanced both ways and made to lead across the street.   Agent Hailey paused.  “All those press boys are inside you know.”

“I know,” Leland called from mid-street.  “Ruth hates having them underfoot and milling around outside.  So she promised them updates if they’d wait in the café.”  Leland nodded across the street.  “Seems to be working so far.”

Agent Hailey raised her brows and followed.

Inside Carmella ushered them to Leland’s regular booth.  It was at the far end nearby the juke box.  Whenever Leland wished to have an especially private conversation he pushed in a quarter and played “Rock Around the Clock”.

“How’s business Carmella?”

“Not bad.  The press corps, they are pretty cheap.  But there’s a lot of them.  And if you keep them waiting long enough they’re going to buy a meal.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”  Leland smiled.

“Thank you,” Carmella said.  “You might also suggest to them that a tip would help to lubricate your lips.”

Leland frowned.  “I’ll do what I can Carmella.”

Carmella nodded down the way towards the boy sitting at the counter working on what looked to be the second of two huge floats.  “That’s the one pulling in the chips.  He offers to take them to the scenes of the crimes.  He charges thirty dollars a trip, I’ve heard.  And he will only take one person at a time.  My guess is, he’s making more than you.”  Carmella nodded, as she flipped the page on her waitress pad.  “What will you have?”

Leland recognized the boy who had run the Mercedes.

“Two pieces of your cherry pie.  And maybe these coffees in some cups?”  Leland handed Carmella the Styrofoam containers.

Carmella scribbled.  “Sure,” she said, leaving.

Leland stared out the café window, in order to keep from staring at certain parts of Agent Hailey, which actually he could observe well enough in the reflection in the window.

“Agent Curtis does this all the time, you know.”

Her voice seemed to be saying “look at me”.  So Leland did.  Really nice breasts, bound really tight, beneath a buttoned up blouse.  If she’d just worn a normal open shirt it wouldn’t have been as near a turn on.  But her attempt  to repress her sexuality seemed to  torment  it and make it scream.  Any guy would want to help.  Plus she was very good looking, with plump, plush lips, a pert nose, freckles, and eyes like tropical beach water.  Leland just wanted to stay here all day.  Coming over to this cafe had never gotten him this excited.

“He pretends to drive off without me.  I get invited for pie.  We chat.  I learn all I can.   He says it’s just a matter of utilizing all of our assets.   That I should do the same thing for him – if it’s a younger woman.”

“It will be a struggle to give fair value.”  Leland smiled.

“You don’t mind being used?”

“Use away.”

Agent Hailey shrugged.  “Fine then.”

The pie came.

“It’s pretty good pie here.”

“Good,” Agent Hailey barked.

Carmella set it with a conspiratorial smile, and left.  The first reporter approached.

“Sheriff.  Vince Delaney of the Seattle Times.  Do you have an I D on the second victim, yet?”

“Yes we do.”

With that the rest of the press rose.  Leland raised a palm, and turned his attention so all could hear.

“My advice:  Order yourself a nice meal.  Tip the waitress generously.   Maybe get a drink.  And if you just wait until I’m done conferring with my colleague here, I’ll tell you more.”

The man from the Times was about to open his mouth when Leland shook his head and rotated his index finger back towards the group.  The man’s mouth closed, and he turned back to rejoin the group.

“So!  What can I get for you all?”  Carmella cried.

Agent Hailey and Leland continued their conversation.

“I don’t know when I’ve been so closely observed,” Agent Hailey said uncomfortably.

“Sorry,” Leland said.

“I don’t mean like that.”  She nodded her head.  “I mean them.”

Leland nodded.

“When it comes time, would you like to say a few words also?”

Agent Hailey shook her head.  “Uh… no?”

“A large part of advancing in the law game involves public speaking.”

“No.  I’d rather you just go ahead and advance yourself.  I’ll just concentrate upon catching a killer.”

“Alright.”

They ate their pie quietly.  Agent Hailey raised her head to speak, perhaps to apologize, but Leland shook his.  “Save it,” he said.  The last thing he needed now was an argument with a woman.

Once Leland had seen that all the reporters were starting to tuck themselves into their meals, he pushed himself back from the table and rose, saying, “It’s time for the Kimmel County Dinner Theater.”

Agent Hailey’s eyes followed him as he made his way over to the press corps and pulled out a chair which he leaned over the back of.  “I’m Leland Kelly, Sheriff of Kimmel County, for those of you who don’t know me.  And I appreciate you saving your questions for the present time.  This is Agent Hailey of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”  A lot of the men craned their necks for a better look, as their brows rose.  Several diners who were not members of the press contingent nodded quietly also, damping the clatter of their cutlery as they followed developments with gawking gazes.  “The Bureau has generously offered its help, both manpower and technical acumen, to Kimmel County in a combined effort to track the perpetrator of these egregious crimes.  Though we have not yet identified the identity of the first victim, the second victim appears to be a middle-aged woman from the Seattle area by the name of Nancy Loomis.”

A hush fell over the press crowd.  “You mean… the Muffin Lady?!” a voice cried out.

Leland nodded.  “Apparently she is also popularly known as the Muffin Lady.”

The Muffin Lady was a well known figure in the area, having been spotlighted in many promotional ads for her company.

“Was she decapitated like the first victim?”  A reporter cried out.

Leland paused, considering how much he wanted to reveal, and was beginning to shake his head, when a teenager in braids, from over her writing pad, declared:  “Something was rolling around in that body bag like a bowling ball.”

Leland looked directly at Nancy Gillis, who had poked her head out from behind the reporter from the Seattle Times.  All heads turned to Nancy Gillis.  “You were at the scene, initially?”  One of the reporters asked.

“Yes she was,” Leland answered, in an effort to take charge of the briefing once again.  “And the victim was decapitated.  Though, whether or not, this confirms linkage with the first victim is still to be determined.”

But half of the reporters were now turned to Nancy Gillis and tossing her questions.  She was quite demur with her answers, and ended it finally by saying,  “All of your questions will soon be answered if the next issue of the Kimmel High School’s Wolverine News, due out tomorrow!  I suggest you get an issue!  We’re starting with a three part series.  The first will start with an evaluation of the scene of the crime.  The second will involve a short interview, conducted directly thereafter, with the leading investigator, Kimmel County  Sheriff Leland Kelly.  And the third, which I am still working on will cover the extent and reason for possible Federal involvement in the case.  As for local color and the reaction from local residents, we have made an executive decision to let this softer news be covered by the more standard commercial news outlets.”  The press corps nodded, shocked.  “That’s it for now!  If you need me, for any further comment, I can be reached through the Wolverine Press.”  Nancy Gillis spoke quickly, and then she left.

Leland waited and then tried beginning his briefing anew:  “As I was saying…”

But everyone had their head turned and were following Nancy Gillis’ exit from the café.  And Leland felt as if he were speaking into a vacuum.

“Who was that?”  The first reporter to look back at Leland asked.

Photo by Carl Nelson

Seattle Celebrity News!

November 16, 2012

Clowns go to school too!

Clown Graduating Class

Clowns go to school too.  This graduating class, taught by Ron Maslanka, is in Stamford Conneticut.

Photo by the Magic Aardvark

Murders in Progress

November 12, 2012

Veteran’s Day!

The Feds Continued…

(Episode 13)

 

“What the hell kind of cell is this?”  Agent Hailey said, looking around.

Leland wondered when they would remark on it.

Leland explained Ralph Bunch.  Ralph Bunch was their local poet/painter /alcoholic,  who had been doing fine with a wife and kids until he got kicked in the head while milking his cow one day, which gave him blinding headaches he assuaged with drink.  In time the headaches went away, along with his wife and kids – but the drink stayed.  The man was too proud to accept charity so when the cold came, Leland often had to arrest him – which actually was illegal.  And in return Ralph painted murals to pay for his room and board, ‘which probably was illegal too’, Leland mused.   ‘But what the hell, wasn’t illegal?’

In fact, just to see who had the better working knowledge of illegality in the area,  Leland and Ruth, now and then, would play the game, “So Arrest Me!” over lunch.  They’d flip a coin to pick someone in the area.  The first one to ‘seize or detain something by legal authority’,  won.   Sometimes it went on for days.  But they usually ‘got their man’.   Whoever scored a felony – the other person bought lunch for a week.  Leland had the upper hand in his understanding of the law, but Ruth was overwhelming with her knowledge of local affairs.  ‘Shit’, sometimes Leland wondered why he went driving around talking to people at all.

But to get back to what we were talking about, Leland had Ruth run out for Ralph’s paints and linseed oil.  And while Ralph worked, the two of them would often chat – sometimes elaborating on a mental design for the perfect woman – to the strains of Chopin or Rossini with the odor of art in the air.  It was a refreshing change from the boring smell of ‘office’ and staring at metal filing cabinets.  No one in Ralph’s art work ever needed arresting, except perhaps for lewd conduct.

“That’s his second wife.”  Leland smiled at the curvaceous nude with the ravishing lips who levitated above the bunk where they sat, pink nipples fully aroused with the left having an enlarging pearly droplet of mother’s milk hanging just above Agent Hailey’s squinting right eyeball.  ‘Whom actually’, Leland felt with absurd pride, ‘he had had a hand in designing.’  Fronds and lovely moonlit flowers abounded.  Strange animals filled the forest glade and strangely shaped clouds filled the ceiling sky.  Leland smiled.

“How’d this guy find someone like that to marry him, after being kicked in the head and having his face rearranged by a cow?”  Hailey frowned.

“He hasn’t.” Leland sighed.  “This is just the schematic …for the model  …for the prototype.”  Leland shook his head.

Hailey started to read some poetry scratched across the mons pubis.

“He’s our local John LeClair.”  Leland shrugged.

Hailey raised her brows and gave Leland a second look.   “He’s not a suspect?”

“Hailey, you want to run across the way and get us some coffee?”  Agent Curtis said.

“No,” Agent Hailey said.  But she rose, and walked out swiftly, probably to best plan where she could hide to kick Agent Curtis in the nuts when he emerged.

 

Agent Curtis coughed.  “You’ve been here ten years?”

Leland and Agent Curtis strolled back into his office.  Ruth had found them a respectable chair, produced it, commanded them politely out of the jail cell, and shut the door, where she listened, catching what she could.

Where Agent Curtis had sent Agent Hailey, Ruth didn’t know.  But she would find that out soon enough, too.  She found out everything soon enough.  That phone on her desk was like the center of a vast spider web.  It rang with any little ‘tingle’ in the firmament.

“Actually, I grew up here,” Leland said, staring out the window at Main Street, watching Agent Hailey stride across it.  Right now, the Press was right across the street drinking coffee in Mayor Pete’s Campaign café.  Leland could see them looking through the window back at him looking through the window at them.

“I know.”  Agent Curtis nodded.  “You played linebacker in high school.  Attended Stanford on scholarship where you majored in Criminal Law.  And then worked another eight years for the LA Police Department, where you rose through the ranks, finally breaking your pick in the Latin Gangs division.  Where, I imagine you may have picked up some Spanish.

“Si.  Beuno.  Sí, lo hice.”

“I’ll take that as a “yes”.”  Agent Curtis smiled.  “…with qualifications.”

“You’d be right.”  Leland was beginning to like him.  “You’re still not convinced Benny Green is not behind this, are you?”  He said.

“No, I’m not.”

“Why?”

“Benny isn’t a complete fool.  He reads the papers, and being a no-good, lo-life, dickhead, slime ball of a worthless dog pile of shit, he particularly likes the lurid crime stuff.  He reads that there has just been a recent horrific murder, in Nancy Loomis’ very area, committed by some kind of lunatic.  People are worried it could the beginnings of a serial killer’s rampage… and, Benny’s sure of it!   He got wind of what Nancy was doing with us, and this looks like a great way to tie up some loose ends.”

“Yeah, I can see that.”  Leland nodded.   This relaxed mano-mano charade had to end.  People were getting killed out there and he had work to do.   He rose.  “Well, as long as you feel that way, I would guess that the resources of the Federal Government are with us?”

“That’s pretty much the case,” Agent Curtis agreed.  “Until we have it confirmed, one way or the other.”

“Good.  Because I’ve got two bodies plus heads stacked up like cordwood over in the freezers at Vern Smithers’ butcher shop, and enough evidence bagged in the back room by some local teenagers here to keep a small army of agents busy for at least a week or so,” Leland said.

“Okay.”  Agent Curtis stopped on his way to the door.  “But tell me.  I’m curious.  How do you intend to proceed?  I’m guessing you are still hanging onto your crazy lunatic, theory of events.  But I would think in this isolated area, an oddball like this who suddenly appears would stick out like a sore thumb,” Agent Curtis observed.

“Not really.  The rural areas attract oddballs of every sort, plus drifters.  There’re a lot of itinerant farm laborers passing through.  And then we’ve got a large Latino community.”

“Your Spanish doesn’t help you there?”

“I know the Latinos well enough around here that they’ll tell me what they can’t tell me, and that’s pretty much everything.  Something goes haywire in their community and they kick the guy across the boundary so’s I can grab him.  But otherwise it’s a closed society.  We probably have a thousand undocumented aliens working all around here whose bosses aren’t particularly keen for them to be known, seen, or heard from.  If this screwball has any kind of sense, all he has to do is put on about 2 extra shirts and a baseball cap and we’ll be none the wiser.  He could be walking past outside right now, or buying a gallon of milk and a six pack of beer down at the store.”

As a matter of  fact, Leland had just turned away from the front window and was shaking Agent Curtis’ hand again,  as Stan walked past… wearing two flannel shirts and a dirty Seattle Seahawks football cap.

Photo by Carl Nelson

Murders in Progress

November 10, 2012

The Feds

(Episode 12)

Likely enough, Bob Weeds had been somewhere, where he had absorbed some ‘growing community sentiment’, Leland figured on his way back.  He made it a mental floss to think a little bit more about Bob, and he put Ruth on the phones when he got back.  Ruth was a master at ‘salting the mine’: just little tidbits of insider knowledge, enough to let the local network of gossips share with the public at large that – at least in the Sheriff’s office – events were bubbling, things were moving.  Because, Leland knew,  in his job, the campaigning never really stopped.

Five gallons of gas wasn’t enough to get to Ramey’s and back to town, so before Leland could get out to Ramey’s, he first had to get back to town to fill the car and 5 gallon container.  And while he was at it, he decided it might be best to stop back by the office to check on a few things.

“Ruth!” He shouted as he tossed back the entry door.  “Fill that damned cruiser with gas after you use it.”  He tossed Ruth the keys.

Ruth skittered out.

Leland’s first need was to change his firepower.  Leland had figured the county issued pistol he carried was adequate for most of what he was required to do as part of his job as Kimmel County Sheriff.  But this latest string of murders had larger troubles written large all over it.  And Leland imagined he’d need to blow a bigger hole through whomever it was doing it than a regulation pistol would allow.

After this second murder, a saying of Leland’s Sergeant in the LA Police Department had come to mind.  “You don’t go hunting bear with a squirrel gun.  Bigger game requires a bigger gun.”  His mentor had said that the morning before they went up against the Jamaicans.  Leland had never seen so much blood.  But it was Police Department 10 / Jamaicans 0.

Leland sat at his desk cleaning and oiling and reassembling the .45 Colt Anaconda he’d fetched from back in the evidence locker, checking its action, and practicing moving it in and out of his holster, while looking out onto the main street through the slats in the blinds.  Leland had been here ten years settling things like shot pet disputes, filched timber, and crop damage complaints when all of a sudden people were getting murdered.  It was changing how he looked out on Main Street.   And he didn’t like it.

Leland turned back to oiling and working his gun.  He checked the sights.  He figured anybody who was out murdering people might resist arrest, also.  And while he was thinking this and spinning the cylinder, something flashed in the window.

Suddenly …a flash of light!

He looked up just soon enough to see a pair of pig-tails disappear.

He was thinking of giving the damned kid a chase, when an unmarked American sedan drove up and parked directly before where he stood looking out, .45 Colt Anaconda pistol in hand.  There was something about the speed and authority with which the auto parked.  He parted the Venetian blind wider with a forefinger and saw a man and a woman in the front seats.  The man was driving.  They both wore dark suits.  Everything about it said, government.   And everything about that said, “Feds”.  And everything about that raised flags.  He slid the gun and oils, tools  and bullets into his top drawer, and wiped down the top of his desk.  He brought out a writing tablet and pen and set a little Smiley Face which said Kimmel County Sheriff’s Department underneath on the front ledge.  It was a little kitsch which Ruth had purchased.

When they poked their heads through the door, Leland noted that they were both carrying.  It’s funny how that was the first thing you noticed about somebody in this business.

“Sherriff Leland, I’m guessing.”  The man was 30-40ish, and looked fit.  He shook hands with the overbearing grip of an alpha male.

“That would be me,” Leland admitted, while they ground knuckles for a while.  “And who is this?”  He turned to the younger woman, who was who was already working her way around his office.

“Agent Hailey.”  She turned away, as if she had already been forced to reveal too much.

‘Not a bad looking woman.”  Leland’s brows rose.

“And I’m Agent Curtiss, out of the FBI’s Division office.  Can we sit?”

“Please do.”  Sherriff Leland waved a hand.

Agent Hailey glanced around.  “There are no chairs.”

“That’s how I keep people out of my office.  Plus, you know, it’s the budget.”  Leland rose from behind his desk.  “Usually when I really need to talk, I take it into the jail cell.”  Leland indicated the door behind them.  “It’s more private.”  He nodded towards the door they had come through, on the other side of which, Ruth grumbled, and returned to her desk.

Sheriff Leland led them into the cell, where he straddled a plastic chair while they sat on the steel bunk.

“Sounds like you’ve had a murder.  A couple of murders here, actually.”  Agent Curtis began.

“Yes, we have.”

“Any suspects?”

“Oh yeah.  Nearly everybody.”

“Everybody?”

“People don’t move to the country because they enjoy each other a lot.”  Leland gave the G-Man a smile.  He continued.  “In an out of the way area like this, grudges are made; they  fester.  This idea of burying the hatchet and making up happens maybe 5% of the time around here, except on evening TV sitcoms.  Here, people fight, divorce, re-marry, or drink, or run amuck with a gun or a tractor.  So, something like this happens and we’ve all got our suspicions.  I must have had about a thousand calls so far.  Lots of tips.  My guess is, that you’re bringing me another.  And you’re FBI, so I’m thinking that you’re going to tell me that this all has ‘larger ramifications’.”

“That’s right,” Agent Curtis said.  “We think that this latest homicide of Karen Loomis might be connected to the mobster Benny Green.”

Agents Curtis and Hailey looked at Leland as if he might have something to add.

“You didn’t say, …”in some way”…”.

“Huh?”

“You didn’t say that it was connected in “some way” to the mobster Benny Green.  So I’m guessing that you may have some hard information to offer,” Leland said.

“Yes, and no.  Nancy Loomis was working for us.”

“I heard she cooked muffins.  You eat muffins?”

Agent Hailey huffed.  “She was CEO of a 5 million dollar corporation which produced Food Accessories.”

“In a big way, I meant.”  Leland nodded at Agent Hailey.  “So why would a woman who is so successful and doing so well be working as an informant for the FBI?  That’s pretty dirty, disagreeable work, isn’t it?  I mean, it tosses you in with all types.  …It’s not the Rotary.”

Agent Hailey shook her head.

“The recession,” Agent Curtis smiled, leaned forward placing his elbows on his knees, and lowered his voice as if he were letting Leland in on something.

The guy was a pretty good salesman, Leland had to admit, except for that Godawful grip.

“During the recession of 2008, credit streams just dried up.  It didn’t matter who you were.  And even very successful companies were scrambling to meet their cash flows.  And that’s where Benny Green comes in.  He figures this is an excellent time to launder a lot of drug monies that otherwise he has to pay a huge commission to get pressed and cleaned.  So he’s out there helping out all he can.  He comes across our Miss Loomis, and even though it is not love at first sight… They manage to work things out.  Fine.  But then two years in, credit has loosened a bit, Nancy has bitten the bullet, and she’s wanting to pay Benny off.  But Benny doesn’t want to be paid off.  He wants what he’s got now.  And it’s then that Nancy knows that she’s stuck with this Benny Green whether she likes it or not… like with Super Glue.  Which she doesn’t.  AND, being the plucky little 120 pound thing she was, she comes to us.  And we hammer out an agreement.”

“It was a very dicey negotiation,” Agent Hailey cut in.  “Because she was already up to her neck in legal shenanigans, and knew she was at legal risk.  But, she also knew that they only way she would get herself and her company out of Benny Green’s clutches was if we could somehow take him down.”

“So we joined forces,” Agent Curtis continued.  “She helps us take Benny Green down, and we call it good.  That was the deal.”

“Only now she’s dead.”  Agent Hailey said this with some real anger, looking as if Sherriff Leland had let it happen.

“End of deal,” Leland said.  Leland looked at them as if to say, ‘Then you must have gotten her killed.’  And they both looked down.

“It doesn’t look like a mob killing,” Leland offered.

“And you know what, about ‘mob killings’?”  Agent Hailey retorted hotly.  She glanced around with derision.

“I know that they seldom saw off the head, go through the brains looking for God Knows What, leave cigarette butts, beer cans, and what look to be donut sprinkles and footprints all around, make weird cuts all over her body with a knife and take the left nipple for a trophy.  Oh.  And by the way, she was raped.”

“Shit!  You’re kidding.”

“No. I’m not,” said Leland.  “Whoever is doing this, I doubt they’re in it for the money.  And as to whether they might have mob affiliations…  Frankly, I don’t think the mob would have anything to do with them.   We’re looking at the ultimate loose cannon.”

Photo by Carl Nelson

From the Editor’s Perch

November 7, 2012

Sometimes, we’re not the best person to present our personality.

Outsource Your Personality

 

Neil Simon, the playwright, has a face that is about as engaging as a cue ball.  I find it unnerving to look at his photo.  His plays however do quite well.  I’ve enjoyed his plays and my intent here is not to dish Mr. Simon.  However, anyone who has watched the Academy Awards has got to have noticed the charisma gap between the screenwriters and other behind-the-scene workers who win prizes – and the actors who win prizes for performing their work.  It’s especially remarkable when you see them all packed together for a photo.  You think, ‘nebish’, ‘nebish’, ‘cool’, ‘cool!’, ‘nebish’,…

I’ve wondered if playwriting isn’t for people whose personal charm does not match their ambitions, because playwrights are always shopping for just the right actor to carry their play.  As a vehicle, playwrights find themselves faulty.   They’re always looking.   They are always remarking, ‘Oh, if I could only get __________ to play __(me)________,’.

It’s an unnerving process to hear the first reading of one’s play.  The actors rarely are what one hears in one’s head.  And you just have to learn to live with what another person does with you.  It’s rather like having a talented stranger fill in a day of your life….  ‘Jeeeeze!’ you think.  At first, it’s like cringing while you watch a seriously bad driver.  ‘I guess this is what I’m going to look like to people.  Maybe when he’s done, I’ll get my wife some flowers.  That may help.’  However, after all is said and done, the script usually looks better with actors.  After all, that’s why you use them.

Recently, I found something better.

My son has only been in this country about a year and a half.  But he is blessed with an unusual amount of charisma and stage presence.  It’s unavoidable that he is going to copy much of how I act and what I say.  The other day I was watching him, while realizing this, and was struck, happily, by the result.  ‘When he says it, it really WORKS,’ I thought gleefully.  ‘When he puts on my personality, it really sings.’  It’s like getting my wings.  What a happy thing to observe.

Also, kind of odd.

Photo by Carl Nelson

Murders in Progress…

November 4, 2012

Out of Gas

(Episode 11)

The bus dropped Leland off back at the Sheriff’s office.  Leland called Ramey, while Ruth tossed him the keys.

‘Ramey,’  Leland said into the phone, catching the keys.

“I’ve put on a pair of flannel pajamas’ and poured myself a big glass of wine and started a roaring fire and I’m just sitting here, “ Ramey lisp, in the slightly feminine voice.  “It’s been quite a couple days!”

“…You sound gay,’” Leland said, completely thrown.

“I’m not leaving the house today, Leland.  I need this quiet time to recoup, and to re-center!  I feel I’ve undergone a horrible psychic invasion,”  Ramey lisp.  Leland could hear the wine gurgle as it was poured.

“Ramey.  I need to see you, now.”

“And I don’t see what good I could do for you there, now,” Ramey spit it out like a mad cat.  “It’s all over now!  It’s too late.  I’ve been deflowered.  I just hope that monster didn’t give me some kind of disease.”

“Ramey, you get your ass in here right now, or I’m coming out there.”

“You know, where was the Law when I came to you?”  Ramey hissed.  “Huh?  You couldn’t be bothered.  You had pressing business. ..”

“How do you know Nancy Loomis, Ramey?”  Leland growled.

“What does it matter?  It’s too late now.  I’m dead!”

“What?”

“You heard me.  The monster beat me.  God my jaw hurts.  Then cut my head open, and pulled my brains out, and cut my head off…”  Ramey cried shrilly.  Then Leland heard the gurgle of more wine.

“How do you know all that?  ….   Ramey?  Are you there?!”

“Yes.  So I’m just sitting here, curled up here, now, on my pillow … (gurgle)…ing this wine!”  Ramey sighed.  “And not going anywhere!  Because let me tell you, I feel as if I’d been raked over the coals.  I feel humiliated, and abused, and horribly battered, and sore all…  (gurgle)  …and frankly,” Ramey whispered in a low voice, “pissed as all Hell! I think, Leland,” his voice slowly rose.

“And I’m the only male nearby,” Ramey whispered.

Leland said…   “What?”

“ I’m really worried.  Perhaps you could come out here, Leland.  Because I’m really worried.  She’s saying terrible things, and swearing…”

“You’re both there, at the house?”

I’m not going anywhere,” Ramey whined.

Leland didn’t know what to say.

“I’ll get there as soon as I can, Ramey,” Leland promised.  He didn’t know whether to whisper or shout.  So he did both, repeating himself twice.

Leland left the office, after leaving instructions with Ruth to Call Doc Chatham and have him patched to the patrol car.  Then Leland hit the lights on the squad car and with sirens screaming headed out of town.  Three miles out, he ran out of gas.

“That damned Ruth!”  Leland beat on the wheel.  The patrol car was stopped by the side of the road, in the midst of nowhere, lights flashing.

Leland got out.  As he stood there, he noticed what looked to be two guys approaching slowly in a faded pickup streaked with manure.  Leland unsnapped his holster, as the pickup rattled to a stop there in the road beside.

“You got a problem there, Shair-eef?”

As it had approached, Leland realized it was just Bob Weeds with his Great Dane, ‘Vomit’, who always rode sidekick.  Bob Weeds spit a slurry of tobacco juice out the window and smiled.

“No problem,” Leland replied.

“Cause a lot of us was wonderin’ whether or not you had made any progress on thet headless murder a week or so back, and hadn’t heard anything.  Some of us was thinkin’, maybe you’d run out of gas.”  Bob nodded at the can of gas.  He looked about to laugh, but bit it off with a glance from Leland.

Leland stepped around the truck, invading  Bob’s territory, and smacked the hood as he passed, smiling broadly.   Bob jumped.  Vomit started barking.

“Shut up!  Vomit.  Damn it, would you shut up!!”

“Well, we just about got the head and neck connected Bob.”  Leland drilled Bob Weeds with his eyes, staring in the window.

“That’s good.”  Bob nodded.  “That’s a start I guess.”

“Yes it is, Bob.”  Sheriff Leland agreed.

They did the stare down.  Finally, Bob was the one to blink.

“Uh, so good.  Good,” Bob said gruffly.

“And we’re looking to having more definitive developments to report in the next few days.”  Leland had to shout this latter while staring directly into Bob Weeds eyes, which had followed him nervously as Leland has strode around the hood of the pickup.

“Shut up! Vomit.  Would ya shut up!!”  It took Bob Weeds some doing to quiet his dog..

“Well, that’s good.  That’s real good…”  Bob mumbled as he turned his glance back to the roadway and put the truck into gear.  “So we’ll be seeing you now, Sheriff.”

Leland gave him a pleasant, nothing’s wrong, how are you doing neighbor wave – and Burt Weeds drove on.  Then Leland started filling his tank with the spare 5 gallons he kept for stranded roadside motorists.

This was a bit of puzzling behavior for Bob Weeds to be exhibiting, Leland considered.   He usually just slumped around with his head down doing whatever a hen-pecked dairy farmer did around here for a life and a livelihood.   With few friends but a long family history in the valley, everyone knew who Bob Weeds was.   There wasn’t much more to it than that, usually.  But it struck Leland now that he was acting downright cocky.  Downright cocky was what usually proceeded downright arrested.

‘Which really doesn’t  fit Bob Weeds’, Leland thought as he replaced the gas caps.

Photo by Carl Nelson

Murders in Progress…

November 4, 2012

Editor:  We felt that at this point in our serialization of Murders in Progress…  a list of the important story characters  might be of help to our dear reader/followers.

ELDON CENE’s

Murders in Progress…  Cast of Characters

Sheriff Leland Kelly:  Kimmel County Sheriff

Ruth:  Kimmel County Sheriff’s secretary (wears many hats)

Ramey:  local dentist/psychic

Clarisse Clemens:  First murdered woman.

Nancy Loomis:  Murdered CEO of a five million dollar yearly revenue  food accessories business/tagged as the ‘ Muffin Lady’ in the local press

Stan:  Crazed, serial killer/smoker

Bob Weeds:  Stan’s accomplice/local farmer

Harriet Weeds:  Bob’s suspicious wife

Nancy Gillis:  Kimmel County High School student reporter

Burt Campbell:  Kimmel County High science teacher

Merlin Travers:  local veterinarian

Benny Green:  mobster/loan shark

Delores:  Bennie’s Office Manager

Duane:  Bennie’s enforcer/dull cousin

Joe:  cashier at the MiniMart

Vern Smithers:  local butcher, runs a mobile slaughterhouse, dresses wild game, some taxidermy

Mayor Pete:  also Coroner/ Grocery Store Owner/Postmaster / Campaign Manager for his wife’s re-election campaign to the state legislature

Agent Hailey:  FBI

Agent Curtis:  FBI, agent in charge

Doc Chatham:  General Practitioner, elderly

Agent Hailey:  FBI

Agent Curtis: FBI

Benny Green:  mobster/loan shark

Vern Smithers:  runs mobile slaughterhouse, does wild game dressing ,   local butcher

Ralph Bunch:  local alcoholic/poet/artist

Mr. Wallace:  journalism teacher at Kimmel High School

Mr. Buckley:  community activist

Bobby Spencer:  student who runs the tours

Jerry Gillis: Nancy’s dad

Bill Porter: farming neighbor of the Weeds

George Everlee:  a farmer who commissioned Ralph to paint his prize heifer.

Photo by Carl Nelson


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