Archive for March, 2013

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

March 29, 2013
High School Graduation Photo of Eldon Cene

High School Graduation Photo of Eldon Cene

Eldon Cene

(1927 – 2008)

Eldon Cene died in Lompoc prison in 2008 after writing 31 unpublished novels.  (The last of which, Murders in Progress, is featured here.)

He often said that incarceration was “the best thing that ever happened to me.  I got three squares and more privacy than most men can afford.  I could never actually kick being a criminal.  I’d thought it was just my true nature.   Until I got in here and realized that all I really wanted to do was to write and make up shit.”

He is currently buried in a potter’s graveyard just outside the prison walls.
“It’s the only way some of us are ever getting out of here,” he added.

He was born Sheldon Obsein in Pine Rock, Texas.  But adopted Eldon Cene as his pen name, “’cause it sounded better,” he said.

Photo from family archives.

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

March 29, 2013

3 Feathers Whiskey

“So, where the Hell are we now?”

(Episode 37)

“So how many times do you usually let a perp shoot at you before you return fire, Leland?”  Agent Hailey screeched.  “What did you think you were doing out there?”

“I was trying to salvage the situation.  One of our leads was just shot.  And now, there was a good chance the other one was going to get himself killed too.”  He returned the look at Agent Hailey.  “…right about that!”

“So I’m the bad guy here?”


“After just saving your ass?”

“I’m not saying that.”

“Then what in the world were you out to prove?”  Agent Hailey looked seriously concerned.  “The guys got a rifle and he’s taking pot shots at you… and you’re still trying to talk him down?”

“He was overwrought.  We had just killed his wife.  Bob Weeds probably couldn’t have hit an elephant at that range.  And besides, I was hiding behind that… that…“

“Cultivator!”  Nancy called from the cell area, checking her notes.

They both looked into the holding pen, and frowned.  Nancy was diligently taking notes.

“Yeah.”  Leland sighed.  “Behind that… cultivator, thing.”

Nobody spoke for a while.  Finally Leland reached into a drawer on his desk.  “Do you ever drink on the job?”

“Only when necessary,” Agent Hailey responded.

Leland looked up under his brows at Ruth as his hand remained in the drawer.

Ruth nodded.

Leland nodded at Ruth, and she brought 3 plastic water glasses.

“Three?”  Leland queried.

Ruth nodded emphatically.  “Yes.  I believe three are necessary.”

So Leland poured them all a stiff one, then raised his glass.

“…to the full letter of the law,”  Ruth proposed.

“…to the full extent of the law,” Agent Hailey corrected.

“…and beyond.”  Leland added.

The three of them drank.

“How about… to the full extant?  And then beyond…”  Leland suggested, wishing he could’ve had just one shot at what he felt to be the real perp.  And wishing he knew just exactly who that was.

Ruth didn’t catch it, concentrating as she was on manipulating her glasses with her tongue.  But Agent Hailey nodded, agreeing emphatically.

Leland filled them again.

After a while, they were all relaxed and rehashing the events.  Leland had his boots up on the desk.  Ruth’s spectacles kept falling off her nose, and she was making a bar trick of pushing them back on with her tongue, and, after accomplishing that, tossing her arms our and taking a bow.  Agent Hailey had undone her necktie and unloosed the top buttons of her shirt, and had her head tossed back cackling at Ruth.

Leland removed all the bullets from his gun and was sighting through the cylinders.  He could see portions of the legs and shirts and shoes of the pedestrians walking past outside his window through the slats in the blinds.  “So where the Hell are we now?”  He asked the room in general.  “What do we now have to go on?”

“Well,” Ruth opined.  And when she lowered he head to talk, her glasses fell off again, which interrupted her opinion, as she scrabbled around the floor for them.

“You got…”  Agent Hailey drunkenly waggled her finger.  “Correction!  We got…. shit.”  She nodded several times.

“Well… shit has got us pretty far,”  Leland said reminiscing.  “That Merlin’s a pretty sharp character…”

Nancy, meanwhile, had finished her interview and had fallen asleep, leaning up against Dr. Ramey who had his arm placed protectively around her.

Leland glanced around.

“Well,” he said.  “Ain’t this a happy little jail?”

Photo by Google Images

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

March 29, 2013

dental image

The Dental Beat

(Episode 36)

Nancy Gillis was just in emotional overload.  First, she had been scared to death.  Then, she had witnessed firsthand the two killings.

People arrived.  They discussed events with the Sheriff and Agent Hailey.  A perimeter ribbon was stretched around the scene.   Photos were taken.  Evidence was packaged.  Bodies were examined and then carted off in the Vern Smith’s portable slaughterhouse.   Her dad was called but couldn’t be found.  For quite a while, it was as if she were floating above herself witnessing it all from a soundless stage or as if peering from out of a fishbowl.

Back at the jail, meals were ordered from the Campaign Café across the street.  Nancy ordered another burger, though she didn’t have much urge to eat.  It’s just that if she made herself speak up a bit, then she found the adults left her alone.  So she ordered her preference and answered their questions.  She described what she had done and how she had come to be where she was.

“Chasing the story.”  Sheriff Leland shook his head.  “You are one resolute little woman, I’ll say that,” he grumbled.  “I’ll also say…  No, I won’t.  I won’t say anything more that I might find myself ashamed of saying later.  But… damn!”  He turned away from Nancy vexed.  “I’ll tell you what,” he said turning back.  “Why don’t we put you in here in the cell with Ramey, while we’re waiting for your dad to show, so’s you don’t get into any more trouble.  At least over the next hour or so.  How would that be?”

“Fine,” Nancy replied softly and contritely.

“Okay.  Good,” Sheriff Leland replied, and ushered her off with a wave of his hand towards Ruth.

Nancy followed Ruth into the back cell, which she found was also holding Dr. Ramey Evans, their town dentist – although ‘holding’ wasn’t quite the word, as the cell door was left unlocked as any room in a house.  She looked at Dr. Evans again.  At least she thought it was him.  Though it could as well be some dangerous maniac, or just a simple lunatic; he was dressed in woman’s clothes and wearing make-up.   Nancy sat thinking.  She glanced at Dr. Ramey again.  Finally, she screwed up her courage enough to beg the answer.  “Doctor Ramey?  Is that you?”  She leaned forward to better peer past his rouge and eyeliner.

“Yeah,” Ramey said.  He looked pretty dejected, like the Cowardly Lion or something.  “Who did you think I was?”

“Well…  Nobody else,” Nancy lied.

“It’s not like it looks or what you might think,” Ramey sighed.  “I just wear this,” he nodded his head to the side, “to keep ‘her’ happy.”  Ramey tossed his head to the side.

Nancy wondered who Dr. Ramey was speaking of.

Nancy nodded, and stared ahead for a while, thinking.  Then, she began to go back through her notes, filled in a few things, and asked Ramey what a few of the words she’d overheard meant.  Until it struck her that there was another story here.  After all, the town’s dentist disappears for several weeks and then he’s found cooped up in the Sheriff’s jail?   That’s news! isn’t it? as Nancy saw it.

Her classmate Cynthia Baker had had a toothache and had to be driven all the way to Toone’s Corners to get it fixed.  Missed a whole day of school.  She told Dr. Ramey that.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

And then she knew a lot of people were upset about their dentist dodging out on them, also.  After all, to get to another dentist required driving a long way out of their way.   Around town the feeling was that it was very ‘unprofessional’  of dentist Ramey to just disappear.

“I couldn’t agree more.”  He stared at her with his palms open.

But, it hadn’t seemed as though there was much anybody could do about it.  Even Ramey, it now appeared.

“Right now I’m not in very much control of my life.”  He nodded.

Both he and Nancy looked around the jail.

‘Here, Dr. Ramey was, hidden out in the County Jail – for reasons she wasn’t aware of – and no one, outside of the Sheriff, knew.’  She felt the giddy uneasiness of another imagined scoop rising up.

“Is it a crime to dress up as someone of the opposite sex?”  She asked.

“Not that I know of,” Ramey replied.  “But here I am.”  Ramey pointed a long lavender fingernail out towards where Sheriff Leland paced.  “You might ask him.”

“Maybe not now, though.”  Nancy nodded.

Nancy fished inside her backpack and brought out her camera and pocket recorder.  Now was as good a time as any to begin an interview.  “You mind if I take a photo? “  She hoped there was enough battery left to run the flash.

Ramey threw his hands up in front of his face.

‘And what is this?  Some kind of (fertility) mural all around us?’  Nancy drew her head back to better focus on the walls and ceiling behind Ramey.

Photo taken from Google Images

From the Editor’s Perch

March 23, 2013
Do it.

Do it. 

Stop it.

Stop it.


Do It, Then Stop

Here is a ‘pleasure generator’:

It has been found that events of great pleasure in my day are either when I begin to do something, or when I stop.  For example, by the end of the day I’m tired and sleepy and there is nothing better than brushing and flossing and piling into bed, and then lying there in the dark to let my mind wind down and exult in the soft mattress and the warm covers with the cold and rain securely outside, and the calm rising up inside, while my dog licks my face and we talk.  I remember that I have money in the bank and food in the fridge, and a wife and a son and a dog and a cat, and a car that runs well.  After a while, I push off the dog and the cat hops up.  And I rub him, feel the mats I need to brush out, and we talk a while in the dark.  And then I push the cat off and roll over and fall asleep. A good half hour of pleasure.  Cost: very little.

Of course we all vary.  And on a scale of “Do it” versus “Stop it”, I would guess I come down fairly heavily on the “Stop it” side.

Perhaps this is why I am so reluctant to commit myself to something which is supposed to be fun and active, like a vacation.  A vacation can be hard to stop.  They are hard enough to start.  And just the planning can take us well out of our way.  Where’s the flexibility? And everybody knows that vacations can well get out of hand.  Just watch Harvard Lampoon’s “Summer Vacation” – which is only one of a very many cautionary tales!

But nearly everything can be made pleasurable by employing my “Do it, Stop it.” ‘pleasure generator’.  Probably even a Harvard Lampoon Vacation.  If you don’t like something you’re doing, then stop.  You’ll immediately feel better.  Or if you’re bored, then do something.  You’ll feel better eventually, and if you don’t, then stop doing it!  It can’t be simpler.  And if you can’t think of anything you’d like to do – then do something you don’t like to do… and look forward to stopping doing that.  It’ll feel great!  You can’t miss.  You might even want to go a little longer for a greater kick.

(Feel better?)

Really, this is a philosophy which always leaves the door open, and plays well with other(s)  philosophies and lifestyles.  “Do it, Then Stop” is a team player.

A lot of people would call people like myself a dilettante, or possibly a flaneur (Fr. trifler), or for the more modern, a ‘slacker’.  To this I would give two replies.  First a lot of people aren’t very happy.  L  And second, you can get a lot farther if you stop to rest.  (And maybe have a coffee.)  J  Anybody should understand that.

In the morning, when I wake, I lie there a while, thinking about getting up but not doing it.  You see the trick is to stop it – and then all of a sudden I’ve done it; I’ve sat up without thinking of it.  I sigh.  I love to sigh.  So maybe I do it a couple more times –  until I’ve had enough.  And maybe I’d enjoy feeling sorry for myself, so maybe I indulge myself in that for a few more minutes… casting myself as a great romantic figure, doomed by some higher ideal, like earning a living.

Then I leave the radio on while I prepare.  I sure am brighter than those knuckleheads who call in, and I enjoy the music.  But if I’m not, I can turn it off.  And my whole day goes something like this.  I make the commute interesting with coffee and a favorite radio show or music.  And then I finish the coffee and the radio and the driving and get to work, where it’s good to get out of the car.  It’s good to stop and stretch my legs.  Then I picture the work hurdles and jump them one by one.  It feels good to land on the other side of each one and to get something done.  Take a moment to look back.  Or maybe it feels good to place something else on the backburner.  Or maybe take something else off the backburner.  Whatever.  You get the idea.  And then I’m a little thirsty, so I slake it.  I look forward to lunch and then, when I’m done, I enjoy feeling satisfied.  I pat my stomach, and then back to work to enjoy a short conversation or two.  And then I enjoy passing my co-workers in good humored silence.

On the weekends, which is that big ‘stop’ at the end of the week, there’s nothing better than to start something.  You get the idea?  You’re always just playing one thing against the other.  Say I mess around in the soil and get my hands dirty, if it’s a nice day, or perhaps I fix something.  And then, when I’ve worked up enough of a sweat, it feels great to stop and treat myself to a beer.  Take a long shower and clean up.  Both of which make the wife happy…

(It is the weekend, after all…)

Or if I make a few extra minutes, I stop downstairs and try to capture a thought I’ve had swimming around in my head for a few hours.

Photos from Google Images

From the Editor’s Perch

March 22, 2013



“We’re a couple of characters,” the bearded fellow said.

I was visiting my father over lunch the other day, in an intermediate care facility.  My father wasn’t feeling so good and wasn’t very communicative, so the bearded fellow pretty much had my ear.

“We’re both adopted,” he said, nodding towards the other guy.  Which I found a bit extraordinary, as it was both of them, and then our son is adopted.  Also, their adoption isn’t usually the first thing a couple fellows in their eighties bring up.

“He’s suffering from dementia.”  The bearded fellow nodded to the other fellow with the Albert Einstein hairdo, who smiled genially.

“He’s a banker.  But he can’t remember where the money is.  Can’t remember where the bank is, actually.”

The fellow nodded.

“Oh, well.”  We all laughed.

I told them my son was adopted.

The fellow said, “I came from a family which was dirt poor.  There were eight or nine of us, all adopted, in a small town outside of Las Vegas.  My father was Japanese and my mother was Irish.  And my wife and I have eight daughters, all adopted.”

He lived on a boat now.  “I’m hiding from the world.”

I said that I thought that sounded reasonable.

He nodded.

“My wife is a neurologist who went on missions.  And each time she went, she’d bring back another baby.  Until finally I said, ‘Honey, you’ve got to stop going on these missions.”  Back then in the late 50s and early 60s, it was very easy to adopt.  You basically just picked them up.  “In Burma, at the brothels, they had the babies stacked in the corner.  If someone wanted one, they just took it.”

It took us three years and a lot of paperwork and education and travel to adopt our son.  Things change, I guess.

“Back then, it was a lot easier to adopt children from Ethiopia.  So a lot of babies got transported north and were adopted through Ethiopia.  Everyone thinks they’ve adopted an Ethiopian.  We thought we had.  But then she grew, and grew and grew, until she was 7 feet tall!   We had adopted a Zulu.”

“She earned her way through the University of Washington playing basketball and then went on to medical school.”

Photo by Google Images

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

March 9, 2013
Weed's Farm

Weed’s Farm

Gunfight at the Weed’s Corral

(Episode 35)


The Sheriff’s SUV spit some gravel as he backed it up and turned it onto the main road.  After passing through town, it felt to Nancy as if they were going at a pretty good clip on their way out to the Weed’s farm.  No one spoke and all Nancy felt was the jostle of the road, and all she heard was the whine of the tires and the whoosh of the passing air.  Nancy wrote this down.

Finally, Nancy felt the crunch of the tires on the roadside gravel as Sheriff Leland brought the SUV to a stop by the side of the road.  “That’s the Weeds farm up ahead.  That cut-off to the left leads to it.”

Agent Hailey nodded.

“I figure we ought to have some sort of a plan worked out before we go in.  There’s Bob, his wife Harriet, his dog Vomit – who is one, big, mangy, son-of-a-gun of a Great Dane, though there is absolutely nothing ‘great’ about him.  And then, there may be a hired man, who would more than likely be our lead killer, if things are as I suspect them to be.  Or two hired men.  Who knows?”

Agent Hailey nodded.

“So.  Since they know me, it’s probably best I drive in, in my Sheriff’s vehicle well announced.  This should draw everyone towards me, including the dog, fleas and all.  Our killer, or killers, may think this is a good time to slink away.  So I’d suggest I drop you off half of the way in, and you perform a flanking maneuver in order to cut off our main perp if necessary, and also to provide me back up if necessary – and vice versa.”

“Works for me,” Agent Hailey replied.

Leland nodded.  “Fire a shot if you need help.”

“Got it.  Gunshots mean the ball’s in play.”  She smiled.

Leland shook his head.  ‘It’s that attitude,’ he thought.

Nancy licked her pencil and wrote all this down.

Both Leland and Agent Hailey re-checked their weapons before starting out.  Nancy Gillis could hear them clearing the clips and working the cylinder action, before placing the weapons back in their holsters.   Leland drove back onto the blacktop and up the road about a quarter mile before turning off to the left up a rutted road.  He stopped after several minutes.  Nancy heard Agent Hailey leave the vehicle and shut the passenger door softly.  Then the SUV moved ahead.

Nancy could tell when he arrived at the farm, which was on a knoll, by the sound of the vehicle dropping down into the low gear and the sound of the dog barking.   “Hi ya Bob.”  Nancy heard the Sheriff shout.  She wondered why he didn’t get out.  Then she heard the sounds of the dog barking, growling, scratching the doors and slobbering on the windows.  “Hey Bob!  Oh Key-rist!”  Nancy heard Sheriff Leland cuss as he started the car up again.  “I’m going to have to drive this damn car right up into their living room in order to have a decent conversation,” he muttered as the car lurched forward, the dog growling and barking and chewing on the tires as the SUV ground in low gear up the knoll.

“That would be a good place, right there, to park your car Sheriff,” Bob Weeds shouted.         Sheriff Leland yelled to him through his front car window.  “You want to shut this damn dog up in that shed there or something Bob, so’s we can talk?”

“What is it you wants to talk about, Sheriff?!”

“Oh, I’m thinking it would be Sheriff business Bob!” Leland shouted from out the crack in his driver’s side window.  The dog growled and chomped at Leland’s nose.  “You want to curb that damned dog of yours?!”  Leland ordered.

“I don’t think he trusts you Sheriff.”  Bob laughed.

“Would a bullet make him more cordial?”

“C’mon Vomit!”  Bob ordered.  The big dog cocked his left ear.  “C’mon!”  He ran into the shed before Bob, and Bob shut the door after him.  Leland opened the door and stepped out of the car.  When Bob reappeared he was carrying a rifle.

“There’s no need for that Bob,” Leland said.  “At least yet.  I just came here to talk.”

“You brought yours.”

Leland heard a screen door slam and from the other side of the road came Harriet, and carrying a rifle also.

Leland sighed.  “Good afternoon Harriet.”  He waved.

Harriet cocked her head, but didn’t say anything.

“Well, I can see that I’m not going to be invited in for tea and cakes! so I’ll just get right to the point.”

“That would be a good idea,” Harriet called out, walking closer.

“You know the last time I was here you two weren’t coming out to meet me with guns,” Leland observed.

“That would be when you was working for the farmers around here and not someone else,” Harriet observed.

“When was the last time you cum out here?”  Bob asked.  “Cause I can’t even remember Leland.”

Leland looked at Harriet.  And he didn’t like what he saw.  She was usually the more neighborly of the two.  Now, she was staring at him like he’d never grown up in these parts.  “What do you mean, “I’m working for someone else.”, Harriet?”

“I mean, back when you represented us as Sheriff.  I’m havin a hard time now believin’ I voted for you.  Who are you working for now Leland?”

“I’m still the Sheriff of Kimmel County Harriet.  Here’s my badge, and there’s my car.”

“Things aren’t quite like they seem anymore, we been findin’.”  Harriet raised her gun.

“Harriet, I gotta say.  I don’t know what in the hell you are talking about,” Leland replied.  “You want to just put that gun down so we can talk.  And, by the way, maybe tell Bob there to put the safety back on his.”

“No Leland, I’m not gonna do that.”

“You haven’t noticed Sheriff that there been some strange things going on around here of late?”  Bob Weeds said.

“Yeah, Bob.  I have noticed that.  Two woman found dead with their heads cut off, and one of them raped.  Now I have real reservations about Harriet being involved in any of that.  But I’d thought that I might come out here and talk to you.  And I have to say, your having a gun right now doesn’t make it look too good.”

“I’ve had a gun since I was six,” Bob replied.

“That would be before puberty,” Harriet observed.

“Yeah?  Do you usually carry it when you come out to greet your neighbors?”  Leland asked.

Bob spit.  “Sometimes,” Bob replied.  “My land.  My rules.”

“Well then, I’ll come right to the point.  Did you rape and murder a woman just south of here several weeks ago?”

“Why do you want to know?”  Bob spit.  “What business is it of yours?”

“Bob!  I’m the Kimmel County Sheriff.  When people around here get raped and murdered it’s my business.”


“And this is how you investigate?”  Harriet spoke up.  “You drive out somewhere in the country and just ask people if they’d done it?  Are you some kinda idiot?”

“Harriet.  It just seemed polite to ask first.”

“Before what?”

“Before I take Bob here in for questioning.”

“Bob ain’t goin’ nowhere for ‘questioning’.”  Harriet looked real sure of this as she raised her gun towards Leland.

“Harriet.  I’ve got to say,  I’m kinda confused about this.  Because if your husband Bob did actually go and rape and murder the woman in question here, and then cut her head off – I’d think you’d at least want to hear a little bit of the evidence first?”

“Well then, I’d guess that makes him look a little more innocent, wouldn’t you think?”  Harriet countered.

“Well, to tell you the truth Harriet, I have found, at least with criminals, that wives are not always the best judge of their true character.”

“You think I would be harboring a rapist, and I wouldn’t know it?”

“Well.  That’s what I would think Harriet.  But now I’m having some second thoughts.  I could understand Bob here wanting to hold a gun on me.  But why in the world you are taking this course of action has got me puzzled, I have to say.”

“If’n you take Bob here down to that jail there and talk with him more’n 5 minutes… intelligent a man as we all know my husband to be, he’s also real sensitive and apt to admit to just about anything in order to quell an argument.  Isn’t that right Bob?”

“You have understood my true nature Harriet.”

“He could quell an argument right now by putting down that gun of his.”

“It ain’t an argument till I pull the trigger.  Right now, it’s just a discussion,” Bob observed.  “And this gun is what keeps it on those terms.”

“That was well put, Bob.”  Harriet smiled.

“Thank you, dear.”  Bob looked a bit embarrassed, grinning back at her.

Leland didn’t know what to make of it.  “What the hell?  You two been to marital counseling or something?”

“How would you know about that?”  Bob turned suddenly grim, thinking that perhaps the Sheriff had learned something about his impotence, also.  “Who you been speakin’ with?”

“It was just a question Bob.  Calm down.”  Leland put his hands out – partly because he was getting the feeling of having walked into some kind of weird parallel Universe where a known couple of marital bickerers were grinning lovey-dovey at each other while pointing rifles at him.  It could make a fellow’s thought processes dizzy.  And just then that Agent Hailey chose to step out.

“I checked all the outbuildings and looked over the nearby area.  Nobody else is around.”

Harriet swung her gun towards Agent Hailey, who had her revolver aimed at Bob.

“Hold your fire everybody,” Leland spoke as calmly as was possible with his arms held wide as possible.  “And we can sort this out.”

Meanwhile, Nancy Gillis – who had slipped out the back clamshell door of the Sheriff’s SUV in order to better hear and to take notes – decided to snap a photo.  Using the war correspondent’s slogan: “up at 5 to shoot at 8”, she set the aperture at 8 and set the camera shooting mode at rapid.  Then she poked her head where she could look out from under the front bumper to quickly focus the scene.

When she drew her head back, she saw it was a good picture – if you didn’t mind silhouettes.  She swore.  The sun was behind her subjects.  If she wanted to get the best shots with full of facial expression and texture, she was going to have to move herself about twenty yards to the left and about ten yards closer.  And there was no way of doing that without being seen.  ‘But’, she figured hopefully, ‘they’ll be so busy with their guns aimed at one another, I should be fine.’  So she gulped some air, positioned her toes like at a track meet, and took off at a run, pressing the shutter release and clicking photos all the while she was so scared she dribbled urine.  And it turned out fine.

But others didn’t fare as well.

Harriet saw Nancy spring from behind the Sheriff’s front right fender and reactively swung her rifle towards what was initially just a figure in her peripheral vision.

Agent Hailey saw Harriet aiming her rifle at a child and immediately shot.

Harriet dropped, from a bullet through the center of her temple, like a sack of wheat.

Bob looked befuddled for a moment; then started to scream:  “You shot my wife.  You shot Harriet, you somabitches!”  And turned his gun on Leland, who, dove behind a tractor discer, left unattached of its tractor there in the driveway.

“You are dead!  I am killin’ you!!”  Bob yelled and shot repeatedly, the bullets zinging from the frame and blades.  All the while, Leland was yelling:  “Stop shooting!  Bob!  Quit shooting that damn gun, would you please?”

“No Leland, I’m not gonna do that,” Bob said, as he calmed down some for a better aim.

Leland already had his pistol in hand, prepared to fire..

But that’s as far as Leland got.  There was another “pop!”, and Bob Weeds dropped, just like his wife Harriet, to ooze a gathering pool of blood out of his head onto the dry ground.

Agent Hailey strode up quickly to kick the rifles from both Bob and Harriet Weeds hands and then test the couple for signs of life.

Meanwhile Leland strove to crawl from under the disc.  “Are you okay?”  He hollered to Nancy Gillis.

But Nancy Gillis, fairly shell-shocked, only nodded, mutely.

Photo by Carl Nelson

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

March 3, 2013
"I leave clues!  Whodathunkit?"

“I leave clues! Whodathunkit?”

Merlin’s Clinic

(Episode 34)


 “Are you going to talk, or are we going to ride like this all the way to the Vet’s?”  Agent Hailey asked.

“I’m just trying to stay out of trouble for a few minutes, so I can concentrate on the matters at hand,” Leland answered, staring ahead down the main street of town as he drove.

“Goodness, you sulk like a little girl,” Agent Hailey said.

Leland stopped the patrol car.

“Why are you trying to bust my balls here?”  He asked.  “I didn’t lose the evidentiary material.  And I didn’t blame you about it.”

“Oh, here we go: “ball buster”, “loser”.  …any other moniker you want to add?”

Leland nodded.  “You’re fingering your weapon.”

“Oh.”  Agent Hailey blushed, drawing her hand away.  “Habit.”

“Uh huh,” Leland said.

They drove the rest of the way to the Vet Clinic in more silence.  Not knowing that all the while, Nancy Gillis, girl reporter, was hidden under the back security shield taking notes of everything.

When they arrived, Merlin was dealing with a scared housecat.

“Best stay out for a minute,” he advised, from beyond the door.

Leland shut the door, as Merlin donned some thick, padded, elbow length leather gloves.  They heard a low, rumbling yeaorrrwwwl!.  Then it was like all hell broke loose inside the closed room, stuff being knocked all over, until finally it was all quiet again.

“There,” Merlin said reappearing.  And he didn’t say anymore.  He shut the door behind himself.  “What have you brought me?”  Merlin’s brows rose.

Leland held out the sample.

“I meant ‘her’,” Merlin smiled, most courteously.  Like Leland, he was another of the single, marriageable men in this small community.  And a new, good-looking woman was like a greased pig dropped ring center at the local rodeo.  Merlin removed his long leather gloves.

“This is Agent Hailey.”  Leland introduced her reluctantly.

“How do you do?” Merlin gave Agent Hailey his most winning smile.   “You can call me ‘Bones’.   He reached to shake hands.

“I’m fine, thanks.” Agent Hailey shook.   “I believe Sheriff Kelly here, has some evidentiary material he thinks you might be able to help us to better define.”

Leland laughed to himself, at Merlin’s quick reassessment.

Merlin turned away to do so, facing up to Leland.  “So!  It’s back to the Private Sector again?”  He smiled.

“I need you to look at this and tell us what you can.  I think it’s probably cow manure fallen from a boot tread.”

Merlin looked at it.  He opened the bag to sniff.  He spit on his thumb and index fingers and reached in and made a quick slurry of it to sniff.  “It’s pig shit,” he said, handing it back, and smiling again at Agent Hailey.

“Can you tell us any more?” Leland asked.

“Possibly,” Merlin said cryptically.  “So where are all the other boxes of evidentiary material you retrieved from the scene?  The government gets all of that, and this is what I get?”

Agent Hailey was about to open her mouth when Leland spoke.  “That’s right.”

“You give the government their hair and tissue samples, their tire treads, and boot tread casts, their spent bullet casings and blood and slugs along with God-Knows-What-Else-including-possible-belly-button-lint-off-of-the-rapist I’d-suppose… that you scoured the area for and found and must have delivered to them in umpteen cardboard evidentiary boxes all nicely sealed in plastic and labeled ‘such and such’ – and me, you handle a little pellet of pig shit?”  Melvin asked.

“Yeah, that’s pretty much the all of it,” Leland responded.

“Do you realize Leland, for even one millisecond, the disrespect with which you employ the Private Sector?”

Leland stared at Melvin blankly.  So did Agent Hailey.

“Well, there it is.”  Melvin shrugged and spread his arms haplessly.  “Nothing to be done about the Bureaucratic Mind, …  the old forms in triplicate lockstep, I suppose.  Except to add that I would guess that the entire resources of the Federal Government brought to bear on your problem have not been able to provide you with the information which you suspect might come from one little cubelette of pig shit, handed to the correct person in the Private Sector.  Am I right?”

“There you go.”  Leland and Agent Hailey both nodded.

“Which! I will take as a concealed compliment, and proceed to do my examination.”

“Okay.”  Both Agent Hailey and Sheriff Leland nodded.

Merlin took the sample into his small lab, mixed a measured amount of it with various reagents, heated it for a specific time, and then placed the concoction into a small laboratory spectrometer which gave him a number which Merlin wrote down on a small scrap of paper.  Then, Leland and Agent Hailey followed Merlin into his office where he sat before his computer.

“Depending upon what the farmers around here feed their pigs, the pigs excrete more or less nitrogen and phosphorus.  Pigs and other domesticated animals around here subtract from the total carrying capacity of the surrounding ecosystem by helping to bury us in all their shit…”  Merlin droned on as he trolled the computer screen.

Nancy meanwhile had slipped out of the patrol car and was overhearing as much as was possible with her ear pressed to the clinics thin window panes, thankful that Merlin worked with all of the blinds closed.  She took notes, writing phonetically any of the words she was unacquainted with, for further clarification later.  While Merlin continued…

“…the most toxic elements of which are phosphorus and nitrogen.  So!  The Bureau of Ecology runs a contest in which each pig farmer submits a shit sample to see who of them is feeding their animals diets which produce the least phosphorus and nitrogen waste in their shit.  Which isn’t really as easy as it sounds.  Every pig is a little different.  So the farmer has to really know their animals.  The Bureau gives them informational brochures to get them started, and then the farmers take it from there.  The winning farmer gets 500 Eco Credits, which can be spent on all sorts of things, such as clearing away a swath of forest which has been hindering him, or draining a damp portion of the pasture, or shoring up a creek bank.  And if you go on their website you can see how the various farms around here stack up – who is in the running and who isn’t.  So, let’s do that.”

Merlin brought up the website on his computer.  And there was quite a long list of farms.  Merlin looked at the number in his hand and went down the list.  “Well, our boot does not work at one of the better farms.  It looks like he falls in somewhere right around here…”  Merlin selected out 3 farms with competing pigs.

Looking closer, Merlin remarked, “Hmmmm.  This is interesting.  Bob Weeds is in here.  Usually, he doesn’t play.  Says it’s because he doesn’t want to have anything to do with the Government.  Which is understandable.”  Merlin glanced at Leland.  “Except that he seems to have changed his mind.  And he’s doing pretty well.  Each of these past three months his farm has risen in the stats, which is unusual.  Usually it’s only the competitive ones near the top which continue to improve and grab the credits.”

“Why do you think Bob would be doing better?”  Leland asked.

“Knowing Bob, I would say it’s because someone has been giving him help.” Merlin nodded.

“I think maybe we ought to see who that someone might be,” Leland said.  “What do you think, Agent Hailey?”

“I think that’s a good idea, Sheriff Leland,” Agent Hailey replied.

Leland and Merlin made a little more small talk, and then Leland and Agent Hailey left.  This gave Nancy Gillis just enough time to run back to the Sheriff’s SUV and jump back in the clamshell, shutting it softly behind her.

Photo plucked from Google Images

From the Editor’s Perch

March 2, 2013
"I can't go on.  I must go on."

“I can’t go on. I must go on.”

A Samuel Beckett Kind of Place

“The reality is embarrassing.  Being me just doesn’t seem to get me anywhere.” 

  – John, incarcerated sex offender

You needn’t be a sex offender to feel like this at times.  Tell a joke that doesn’t fly.  Make an observation which falls flat.  Voice a comment which brings down a storm of contempt, and it’s easy to feel like you’d best shuck your skin – like you’ve joined the wrong group, or are walking around in a dystopia with a sign saying, “Kick me!” stuck to your back.

But these are small quibbles next too looking into the mirror fifty or sixties years running and realizing that what you see was never in the running.  You’re authentic alright.  And what you see is just what you’ve got.  Where’s the medal?  Where are the rewards and approbation?  Where is the approving God, Who has accomplished just what He intended, through you?

I relish the essay which digs a hole that just grows darker and darker until there is no light whatsoever and no foreseeable exit, right down to bedrock: a Samuel Beckett kind place where you “can’t go on…” but you “must go on…”  I find these sorts of essays hilarious, enjoyable and above all, relaxing.  Because only people who don’t mind losers, who dwell on losers, who think losing is just fine, emblematic of the human condition, in fact! and just one of those things which most often happens  – are real.

Okay.  Throw up now.  Return to the top of essay, and repeat until you feel better.

Photo in the back of a Ballard Bar by Carl Nelson

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

March 2, 2013


This Jail is Getting Too Small

(Episode 33)

Sheriff Leland was pacing.  Agent Hailey was on the phones.  Ruth was making busy in the outer office, after informing Leland with great relief, for no reason that Leland could figure that, “The bodies are still there!”  And Ramey was whining in the jail:  “When am I going to get out of here?!!!…”  Sheriff Leland spun.

“It’s no use.” Agent Hailey hung up.  “No one knows anything.  For about a week there we were getting good information.  And now, I swear, it’s as if they have lost all the samples.”  She looked both dejected and embarrassed.  “I’m sorry, Leland.  The FBI is usually a very tightly run organization.  I guess you just have to believe me about that.  But I just have no idea where all our evidence is, or who has it, or why we don’t know.  Trust me, this isn’t how it usually works.”

Leland shook his head and rubbed his temples. “It’s not your fault,” he said.

“I know that,” Agent Hailey replied.

Leland looked at her; tossed up his hands.  “Fine.  So where does this put us?”

“Ruth?”  Leland called.  “Could you go back there and ferret around a little through all of those empty evidence lockers and see what we might have left, if anything, from that serial killer crime scene investigation.”

“Sure!” Ruth called from right beside him.  She was glad to be escaping the vicinity.

“Sorry I snapped at you there, Leland,” Agent Hailey said.

“You’re the least of my worries,” Leland laughed.

Agent Hailey huffed.

“I’m sorry!”  Leland swore.  “I just meant that you’re not my problem.”

When Ruth returned, it was with a small baggie in hand.  “I found this one thing,” she said.  “I would suppose, the plastic seal got caught in a crack so that the baggie didn’t empty into the shipping box.”

Sheriff Leland held it up against the fluorescents and looked it over.  “It looks like manure.  A small piece which has fallen out of a boot tread, is my guess.”

“I think that’s a good one.  Seeing as we’re surrounded here by dairy farmers.”  Ruth chuckled slightly.

Leland frowned.  “Well, maybe we can glean a little more out of this one than what first meets the eye.”

“Let me go!  What about my patients?”  Ramey called from the back cell.

“Trust me, you’re patients are not gonna want their dental work performed by a practicing transvestite,” Ruth shouted back at him.

“They might!  If they are in pain…”

Leland tucked the baggie in his jacket pocket and hooked a nod at Agent Hailey.  “You wanna come?”

“No.  I think I’ll just sit here like a little girl and sulk.  And then maybe shoot myself with my revolver.”

Leland just didn’t seem able to win today.

But when he strode out of the office, Agent Hailey smiled and followed.

Photo by Carl Nelson

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