Posts Tagged ‘cow noir’

From the Editor’s Perch…

July 21, 2014

Jennifer Woodworth How I Kiss Her Turning Head

Maternal Horror

 

Jennifer Woodworth’s newest book, How I Kiss Her Turning Head, which is just out by Monkey Puzzle Press, is a most gentle jaunt into the genre of Maternal Horror.  ‘Maternal Horror’ is a term I have had to coin myself.  But this is not Rosemary’s Baby.  This is the Brahms Lullaby of Xtreme Mothering.  The baby and child in these stories and sketches comprise a wonderful blessing – so wonderful, that we follow our first person hero as if pushing off down the pipe of some Xtreme Sport …  Right down the rabbit hole of maternal instinct, without time to say, “Hello!  Goodbye!” into a sort of mental ward where the ordinary and quotidian prerogatives of life conflict to our first person narrator’s charming wonderment.  And off we go, as the book paints a gentle rebellion for two.

“I have never wanted anything more than I want babies.”  The narrator tells us at the beginning of the first and best story, “Mother of One”.  And shortly she adds:

“I want another baby,” I say to my husband.”

“I know you do,” he says.  He means he does not want another child, not now, not ever.”

 

How charged and compact that exchange is!

Our author knows a subtext, and next to that, a rebellious flight of words.  All of this makes for a good read.  Her stories churn in the updraft of a contained conflagration.  Her words and flights of fancy are cloaked like actors to carry more romantic weight.  But all of the ducks here are rubber ducks.  Her first person narrator “contains multitudes” of insight, but all from an idea fixee.  Her first person narrator is entirely rational aside from being mostly fixated.  Imagine an Asperger of mothering, with the soft voice, and gentle nudging of the genuinely aware – and you’ll be getting close to the voice of this narrator.

The interest of the first story, “Mother of One” – which is a lovely jolt of maternal compulsion – is deciding partly where the horror lies.  Is the Surrogate Mother, or is the Outsourcing Birth Mother the monster of this tale.  Is it the narrator’s world which is a bit off kilter – or is it the narrator?  The ending tale finds our heroine legally confined but still rebellious.   Though it wouldn’t surprise me to hear our narrator reply from her ward – in an attractive way and with an appealing tone, (or perhaps she would just ‘suggest’), if asked, ‘how it could be “rebelling” when the world is backaswards?’.

Jennifer Woodworth has a playful dramatic sense, writes a fine narrative, composes a lovely tune with her words, and is smart enough to say things worth reading.  This is a small book to purchase and enjoy, and possibly to start your collection with.

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Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

January 11, 2013

Forearm Bar Mark

Back on the Farm, Continued.

(Episode 22)

(When we last heard from Harriet, she said:

            “If any of them come sniffin’ around here, what am I supposed to say?”  Harriet dipped the gun at Stan demanding an answer. )

 

“I really don’t like telling other people what to do,” Stan replied.  When Harriet just kept looking at him, he added:  “They oftentimes won’t do what I say anyway.  Or they can’t understand.  Or they get it wrong.  Or they just ignore me!”  Stan’s demeanor changed.  His voice rose.   However, in a moment, had had calmed himself.  “…Or they misunderstand.  Or they just don’t have the wherewithal to bring it off.  Or they’re just damned lazy.  And mostly, it’s just a real bother and a waste of my time.”

“You kill people.  Isn’t that like telling them what to do?”  Harriet lifted the gun barrel.

“No.  That’s like telling them to stop.”

Stan took a long pull from his cigarette and then put it out, right there on the table.

Bob was surprised as hell it didn’t get him shot.  Especially when he looked right up at Harriet while grinding it out.  That little whisp of smoke which marked its extinction, Bob fully expected to match Stan’s extinction.  ‘Shit,’ he was married to her, and he wouldn’t have tried that.

“If I hadn’t just asked you a question and was expecting an answer, Mr. Cool-as-a-Cucumber.   I would blow that grin right through your face,” Harriet growled.  “That, plus, I am trying to understand the charm you hold and can sway over this dimwitted husband of mine.”

“Now Harriet…  Ya got the gun.  Do you have to provoke people likewise?”  Bob protested.

“Shut up!”

“Apparently I do,” Harriet barked.

“I’ll take that as a good thing.”  Stan nodded.

“You kin take it anyway you damn want,” Harriet retorted.  “But before I blow you right outta that chair there, I wanna know – just outta curiosity, and maybe for a good laugh – just what your idea about what your further plans here might be?”

“Further plans? ” Stan laughed at the gun.  But Stan was watching Harriet’s eyes.

“You know, I don’t believe I’ve ever noticed a man studying my eyes so thoughtful like before?  Perhaps I shoulda started out my female career pointing a gun at more men.”  Harriet glanced at Bob.

“A sure attention-getter.  I’ll give you that,” Bob admitted.

“And then you can shut the hell up! again,” Harriet repeated.  “Now what is it?  What are your plans here?

The hired man, Stan, took his time, wiped his mouth with the paper napkin.  He took the soiled napkin and gathered up the squashed cigarette and ashes into it, folded the bundle, and placed it neatly to the side.  He smiled at Harriet.  Harriet smiled back, and checked to make sure the safety was off.  Stan nodded.

“You know, this idea that you think hard about what you want to become in life, and then study to become it, and then you go out and find a way to make a living doing it, and then you either succeed or fail in the attempt for the most part – isn’t really how it works.”

Harriet raised her brows.   “So how did it work?  Let’s say, I’m curious.”

Stan’s brows furrowed, as if he were annoyed a bit at being interrupted.

“What more often happens is that you are doing something – which you think is going to make things the way you want them, more or less – when something happens, something comes along, usually completely out of the blue, and you have to make a choice.  And then that choice decides what you’re actually going to do with your life.  And after that, you really haven’t a lot of say about it.  Excepting maybe, how long you intend to continue.”

Harriet nodded.  And Bob nodded, as he relished his pork chop.  Bob was getting kind of lulled by Stan’s soft words and unconsciously had begun to relish his unfinished meal.  Bob reached for his fork.

“And don’t you move another inch.”  Harriet swiveled with the gun towards Bob.  “And also, shut up!”

“I didn’t say a thing!”  Bob jerked his paw back quick as a puppy could.

“I am just reminding you.”

“So what happened to me was,” Stan continued in a soft voice.  So soft in fact that each of Harriet and Bob had to lean closer to hear.  “I had a run in with the Federal Government.”  Stan rolled up his left sleeve and turned his arm palms up to reveal a bar code molded in somehow to the underarm skin of his left forearm.

Bob leaned in.  And Harriet appeared almost to have forgotten the gun, resting it on the table as she leaned over closer to have a good look, too.  And for a time the two of them just looked on the seamless skin patch of Stan’s with wonder.

“Why that looks just like something on the side of a package of Wonder Bread,” Bob said, poking it.  Harriet nodded.

“How much does something like that cost?”  Bob asked, with some admiration.

“Shut up!!!”  Harriet barked, emphasizing this by slamming the gun on the table.

Stan looked at the embedded tattoo of sorts somewhat wistfully with the regard of a old veteran for a platoon logo.   Bob moved his lips while mumbling the numbers printed up the side.  Harriet seemed to be the only one who registered that this was suddenly turning very strange.

“Who are you?”  Harriet said.

Photo by Carl Nelson

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

January 5, 2013

Barnbirdsb

Meanwhile, Back on the Farm

(Episode 20)

Harriet was a pretty quick study.  A woman had to be when she was hefty and plain of appearance.  And she figured this Stan fellow was a real ‘misogynist’ the minute she saw him…  which didn’t bother her none, or much, anyway.  She figured all men were, and to tell you the truth, she wasn’t all that impressed with women folk herself.  She didn’t hold it against the men much for not finding her attractive.  Hell, it wasn’t their fault.  But it did gall her when the women would slight her for the same thing.  Now, that was just downright mean.  It was like someone crossing the street just to stand in your way.

“You don’t like women much, do you?”  Harriet said to the hired man, Stan, as she set the evening’s mashed spuds on the table.

“Now why would you say that?”  Stan took this quite seriously.  Harriet liked that.

Her husband, Bob, on the other hand, visibly stiffened.  He was such a puppy.

“You look to be about 30-35 maybe, passable looking, and you’re still single, or at least runnin’ around all by yourself, and not fittin’ in exactly anywheres. “

“Maybe I like them, but they don’t like me.”

Harriet noticed Bob’s smile as he said this.

“I’d believe that,” Harriet said.

Bob thought Harriet had been suspicious ever since they came back that morning with blood all over themselves and complaining about a triplet, breeched stillbirth over at the Munson’s spread.  (Stan had warned him not to make such an extravagant story of it.)  And Bob was pretty certain as the meals began deteriorating.  But he wasn’t certain, certain until Harriet pulled the gun on Stan.

Here they were chowing down!  Bob had been in a pretty good mood despite Harriet’s problem.  He felt like he had gotten all flushed out down below and was just about ready for more.  The prices for milk were good.  The cows were healthy.  And the pastures were all dry for the season.  And it had been a warm Sunday!  So all in all, it seemed a shame when Harriet pulled out that gun and aimed it at Stan, one of the best hands they’d ever had.

“I want you outta here,” she said.

“You want to talk privately with your husband?”  Stan inquired, calm as could be.  Bob just couldn’t help but admire this.

“No.  I don’t want to talk privately with that adulterer!”

“I ain’t no adulterer.”

“You had sex outside the bounds of marriage, didn’t ya?”  Harriet turned the gun on Bob.

“Woman, what are you talking about?”  Bob flushed.

“I’m talking about putting your wee little pecker into someone, somewhere where’s you shouldn’t.  An’ now about you bein’ a bald faced liar to boot.”   Harriet reached down and pulled out the Sunday edition of the New York Times which she slammed down on the supper table.

Bob looked dumbly at it as if he were staring at an old school textbook of the advanced sort.

“Turn it over.  It’s below the fold.”  Harriet nudged the newspaper forward with the barrel of the gun.

“Below the fold?”

“Look at the other side!”

“On the bottom of the page,” Stan advised.

“That’s right,” Harriet said.

Bob turned the damned heavy newspaper over, and a trickle of fear crawled up his back leg  like a bug.  There was a headline about Sheriff Leland and Serial Killers.  Bob turned his wide eyes on Stan without thinking.  Then he pulled his gaze back.  “I don’t see anything in here about adultery.  Mine, or anyone else’s,” Bob said.

“I believe they call it “rape”.”  Harriet lifted the tip of her gun to emphasis the point.

“How the hell would they know that the rapist is a married man, Harriet?”  Bob indicated.  “There’s no way.  That’s the answer.”

“They don’t say it’s a married man, you blinkin’ idiot!”

“Well then, I don’t see how you can come off callin’ it an adultery!”  Bob matched her volume.

I’m callin’ it an adultery, because I think that you and Stan here did it.”  Harriet moved the barrel of the gun so that it was pointed midway in between the both of them.

Bob said nothing, because he couldn’t think for a moment what he should say.  And then, when he finally decided he should say “No”, to deny it, Stan was already talking.

“You sure are a good cook, Harriet,” Stan said.  “You mind if I continue eating?”  He nodded at the gun.

“Just keep your hands where I can see them,” Harriet said.   “An’ don’t take more than two pork chops.”

Stan nodded and continued eating.  He did it with such a relish, he was actually making Bob hungry to watch.  Which was something, considering a cold wave of fear had just about frozen Bob to his chair, and shriveled his genitals and squirreled them like nuts high up in his scrotum.  He was either going to get shot, or going to admit something  he’d rather not.  Either choice was rather riveting.  And Bob couldn’t see how Stan was able to take it all so lightly.  “Maybe you could tell Harriet where we wuz, Stan,” Bob entreated.  “Seeing as how you’ve got a better head for explanations and such.”  Bob nodded.

The only think Bob could figure was that Stan must know something he did not.  Which must be why he was taking all of this so cool.

“We wuz wherever you two ends up figuring we wuz, I’d guess.”  Stan smiled, chewing.

“What the hell.  Why are you saying that?!”  Bob exclaimed.

“Well.  Where ‘wuz’ we?”  Stan asked.

Bob was totally flummoxed.

“Yeah, then.  Where wuz you?”  Harriet aimed the gun at Bob.

“Well.  What?  I don’t know.  I mean, when?  When are you talkin’ about?  Wuz it then, or last night or two weeks ago.  What are you talkin’ about?”

“Ah’m talkin’ about when Ms. Muffin Lady here got clobbered.”  Harriet thumped the newspaper with the barrel of the gun.   “Where wuz you then?  That night?”

“Honey.  I can’t remember where I am every night of the year.”

“Ah’m not askin’ about every night of the year.  Ah’m just asking about them as when you’re not in bed at home asleep where you oughta be.”

“Well, them too.  Those are hard to keep track of.  I mean, there’s cows that need milkin’, dogs that start barking all hours of the night.  You know how crazy it can get around here!”

“I’d think you’d remember if you was off rapin’ some woman, and draggin’ her in the darkness from some car on the highway.”  Harriet nodded.

“It’s the kind of thing that would stick in my mind.”  Stan nodded, as he relished another bite.

“And I don’t know what you’re laughin’ about either.  As I’m just a split second away from shootin’ you too.”  Harriet eyeballed Stan.

“Why aren’t you helpin’ me deny all this?”  Bob whined.  “I thought we wuz partners.  I thought we wuz together on this.”

“So you’re admittin’ everything?”

“Ah’m not admittin’ anything, woman,” Bob declared hotly.  “An’ just cause you got a gun doesn’t make no difference either.”

“You might feel a bit different once I use it.”  Harriet’s finger clenched tightly on the trigger.

Stan raised his hands.

Both Harriet and Bob looked at him.

“Harriet.  You start out pointing the gun at me, but if this keeps on you’re going to end up shooting your only husband, Bob,” Stan pointed out.  He paused to push his plate away, take out a cigarette and light it.  He inhaled, then exhaled up towards the bare light bulb.  Bob just had to admire this no end, in spite of the dire situation.  And he did appreciate the help, a bit.

“Don’t you just admire that?”  Bob gestured to Harriet.  “Can’t you admire that?  I mean, look.  You’re got a gun pointed at the man.  An’ rather than getting’ all upset an’cryin’ and whimperin’, or yellin’,  like you’d half expect, he’s just cool as a cucumber and sets there ready to discuss things.”  Bob waved his finger between himself and Harriet.  “We could take a lesson there.”

“An’ you could take a bullet here.”  Harriet scowled, poking the gun at Bob’s pecker.

“Stan,” Bob said.  “I appreciate your cool and all that, but I think right now it’s best if we explain to Harriet just wut it is we got to say.”

Harriet moved the gun sights back on Stan.  “An I think it’s best he don’t provoke me.”

Stan shrugged.  He looked at Bob.

“All I’m saying dear,” Bob tried to continue as best he could in as soothing voice as he could, ““…instead of getting all upset about some Muffin Lady who gets herself killed an’ probably nothin’ more than she deserved, in some New York newspaper there…”  Bob pointed,  “…is that perhaps you don’t recognize a quality man.  I mean, here is a quality man.  He works hard.  He works smart.  And he’s cool as a cucumber under any kind of trouble, and here you want to go runnin’ him off with a gun?!”

“Ah may just shoot ‘im, and drag him off with a back hoe,”  Harriet spit.

“Well that’s yur problem.  You just don’t recognize quality.  You just don’t and never did!”  Bob was getting upset, gun or no.  “Now I know for a fact that there may have been other crime figures involved!  Now wasn’t she saying somethin’ about thinkin’ we were in with Benny Green, or somebody?!”

Stan sighed.

Harriet just shook her head.

Bob considered a moment.  “…oops.”

“You see what I got to contend with?”  Harriet asked Stan.

Stan looked over at Bob who had been holding his arms out in indignation, but was now just looking defeated and rubbing his chin.

“If any of them come sniffin’ around here, what am I supposed to say?”  Harriet dipped the gun at Stan demanding an answer.

Photo by Carl Nelson

Murders in Progress… by Eldon Cene

December 9, 2012
And finally:  Let's Give It Up for the Lone Star State!

And finally: Let’s Give It Up for the Lone Star State!

(Pin-up in Sheriff Leland’s back room, which was replaced by the White Board)

Whiteboard

(Episode 19)

             A week had passed.  They had identified the first murder victim as Clarisse Clemens, another newbie to the area, which explained why no one had appeared to claim her body (parts).  Also, she had a rap sheet.  Apparently at one time she had also worked as a prostitute and a bunko artist.  Neither one very successfully it appeared, because she was found way out here and missing her head with a total of $19.37 and a six pack of condoms in her pocketbook.  Agent Hailey had retrieved a lot more information about her from their forensics team, which Agent Curtis wanted her to postpone sharing until he could be present at the meeting.  Presently he was in the city preparing to move against Benny Green and his operation, and he wanted to keep his ‘operational status’ clear for that, before entangling himself in that ‘rural muck’ portion of the investigation once again.  “Besides,” he said over the phone, “that’s what I have Agent Hailey there for.  I assume you two are working together okay?”

“Yes, we’re doing fine,” Leland replied.  “She’s very capable.  There’s no need to rush for that reason.  Although I would like a look at those findings as soon as possible, the pressure in a small community to find the perpetrator being what it is,” Leland said.

“I’ll be there as soon as I can,” Agent Curtis replied curtly.  “But I have to let you know, Benny Green is still my top suspect.”

“We’ll see you when you get here,” Leland replied and hung up.

“You’ve got all the forensics?” Leland asked.

“Faxed this morning,” Agent Hailey replied.

“Thanks,” Leland replied.  If Agent Curtis knew the kind of end run Agent Hailey and he were perpetrating, he might have to re-consider who was pimping who.  As it stood now, Leland had an inside to the full resources of the FBI through Agent Hailey.  And Agent Hailey had a full run of the investigation through him.  And “all there is left now is marriage,” Leland smiled, happy with how this was all playing out.

“Is that a proposal?”

Agent Hailey had softened quite a bit under Leland’s professional wooing, and was becoming a real part of the team.  ‘…of two’, Leland considered happily.  It was like every day was another date with his dream law enforcer.  He had never been so happy chasing a murderer.

“I have my tux pressed,” Leland bantered.

Agent Hailey sobered.

“Maybe we’d better go over that new evidence and tape it up,” Leland said.

As her gift to the operation, Agent Hailey had brought in a large whiteboard with tape, yarn and marking pens… where they were doing some mind mapping of the crime.  Ruth was impressed.  “Never saw me do this to chase down a missing cow, now did you?”  Leland grinned.

Ruth smiled.  Ruth was happy when Sheriff Leland was happy.  And currently, he was chasing down this cruel, ruthless, absolutely amoral serial murderer with his shoes two feet off the ground like a love struck schoolboy.  She just hoped he didn’t become too addled by infatuation and kept his wits about him.  About Agent Hailey, she still hadn’t made up her mind.

“You see this latest news?  It’s that ‘in-depth’ interview that schoolgirl Nancy Gillis did of you coming back on the bus from the crime scene, and written up for the Kimmel High Wolverine.”  Ruth dropped a massive newspaper upon Leland’s desk.

Leland’s mind was on the whiteboard, but he turned when he heard the ‘thump!’.  “The Kimmel County Wolverine puts out a paper that big?”

Ruth shook her head.  “It was picked up by the New York Times!” Ruth said deadpan.

Leland and Agent Hailey both stared as Ruth placed the front page of the New York Times neatly where they could see the picture and headline, just below the fold.

The photo, taken in provocative shadow, was of “Sheriff Leland Kelly, Kimmel County Sheriff, oiling and reassembling his 45 caliber Colt Anaconda behind the partly open blinds of his front office.”

The headline read:

 

“They Pursue Serial Killers Differently in Kimmel County”

 

            Ruth gave Leland the sober eye.

            “Ooooh shit,” Leland whistled.

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

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

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

Murders in Progress…

October 25, 2012

Nancy Gillis

(Episode 10)

 

The kids all poured out of the school van with wide eyes.  Burt followed.

“Okay.  Listen up!”  Leland shouted.  He didn’t introduce himself because they all knew who he was, and he was wearing a badge besides.  “You’re not going to get to see the body.  So I want you to just get that out of your thoughts right now.”  Leland had covered the corpse and head with a black body bag before leaving.  The girls looked relieved.  The one boy looked disappointed.

“There are a number of things which need doing, and fairly quickly.  The evidence at a crime scene can deteriorate or disappear quickly.  So we all need to be quick, but thorough.  We get no second chances,” Leland declared.  “I need someone to go over the Mercedes.  Who wants to do that?”

The boy immediately raised his hand.

“Good.  Now I need the two others to examine everywhere it appears there has been recent human activity for physical evidence – which I want you to pick away and put in these sealable baggies.  This includes blood droppings, cigarette butts, lost items, hairs, fabric, etc.  So you need to really look close.  That means get your head down around the ground!  And then you will record on this ‘grid’ we’re creating where each of these evidences were located and write it on the side of the sealed bag. “

“I’ve already taken photographic shots of the area and crime scene.  But if you see something you find remarkable, well then for goodness sakes, use some more film.”

 

Ruth was there too and was handing out supplies.  “We practiced lifting fingerprints on the way here,” she told Leland.  “And we went over how to walk around a crime scene; what to look for, etcetera.”

“Thanks Ruth,” Leland said.

The kids were putting on their gloves and booties, very quietly.  Leland took this time to grab Burt and walk him to where the two of them could maneuver Karen Loomis into the body bag, then pick her up and deposit her into the back of Sheriff Leland’s sports utility vehicle.  The kids all swiveled silently, following Leland and Burt’s movements as the corpse passed by.  Leland handed Ruth the keys.  “Keep it under 50, Ruth.  Tell Vern to put her in the freezer with the other corpse.”  Vern Smithers ran a mobile slaughterhouse, with a wild game dressing and wrapping  sideline out of his meat store, where, now and then, the Sheriff’s Office rented a freezer.   “Don’t use the siren.”

Ruth gave him a look.

“Please,” Leland added.

“Never any fricking fun,” Ruth grumbled, leaving.

“I’ll get a ride back with you and the kids if that’s okay,” Leland said.

Burt nodded.

 

“Well, that’s about it,” Leland said, hours later.  The kids had scoured the area.  Leland and Burt had made casts of the best of the boot prints.  And they followed the broken underbrush but could find no readable tire impressions at the road site.  Ruth had packed some sandwiches and Kool Aid.  They drank all the Kool Aid, but no one ate much.

They were all piling onto the bus when the last girl in asked Leland if she could “write something about this for the school paper?”   Leland looked at Burt.  Burt thought it should be permissible.

“Okay,” Leland said.

“And I would like access to a few of the photos taken, and a brief interview with you on the way back – if you would be agreeable?”  The girl insisted.

Leland wondered why he hadn’t noticed her pin point gaze and the firm set of her lips before.  Leland sighed.  He looked down.  ‘My God, it’s another Ruth,’ he thought.

“What’s your last name?”  He asked.

“You don’t even know my first,” she replied.

“Okay.  What’s both your names?”

“Nancy Gillis,” the girl replied.

Leland grunted.  He couldn’t place her amongst anyone of Ruth’s kin and vintage.  It seemed he remembered some Gillises lived out around Coventry Creek.

“And I intend to make a name for myself,” she added.

Leland mumbled.

Nancy Gillis followed him to the back of the bus, then back to the middle of the bus, and finally to a seat just behind where Leland sat down next to the one boy.  Not such a good ploy really, because then Nancy yelled her questions across the back of the seat, so that the whole bus was a party to it.

Photo by Tin Tin Nelson


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