Posts Tagged ‘crime’

Poesy

October 7, 2014

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Sunday Edition

I read in the Sunday paper this morning

that a man had been arrested transporting a body

in a shopping cart nearby where I used to live.

He had been trying to get him to a dumpster.

It’s nice that the people there, since I’ve left,

have been trying to pick up after themselves.

 

It can be the little things that breed crime:

broken windows, graffiti,

speaking to your neighbors.

Apparently the fellow and the corpse

had known each other.

 

So it didn’t start right out in violence.

Heck, it might have taken years

of conversation over the back fence.

He may have borrowed a rake or a hoe,

or been a little late to return

an axe or a bullet.

 

Definitely it had become something more

than a hot casserole could handle.

The tighter you become, the more at stake, that’s for sure.

Until one thing leads to another, and it all goes downhill…

and out of hand so fast,

it’s as if things begin to occur of their own volition!

 

While you were… detached, floating above it all,

as if from another world,

as if watching yourself in a movie.

In a word, it seemed fated.

 

Which is why I moved to an uphill neighborhood.

 

Photo from Google Images

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Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

June 20, 2013

ID card5

A Positive ID

 (Episode 56)

 Stan really wanted inside the Kimmel jail.  Something itched, and as near as Stan could triangulate that fifty-odd year old weathered yellow jail was at the nub of it.  It was even interfering with his sex.  Something in that jail was a ‘scold’.  That was the best way he could phrase it, if he were to talk to someone about it, like a psychiatrist, which he wouldn’t.

Then, as luck would have it, Ruth called Carmella with her usual breakfast order that Sunday.   And apparently Stan’s Kandahar Omelet was a hit with the Sheriff.  Ruth asked, “Could you have the cook who makes that delicious chili-egg concoction bring it over himself?”            Or so this was the story.  When you’re wanted for rapes and serial murders, you really tend to look several times at any approach, especially when made by law enforcement.  On the other hand, it was true that Stan’s Kandahar Omelet had made a little culinary noise even in the sleepy town of Kimmel, Stan preened.  So it was with some unstaunched yearning that Stan laid each of the cooked bacon strips neatly on a paper towel, then cracked eggs and dropped them in the bacon grease to cook while he considered the request seriously.

Stan really felt he needed to have a look inside that jail.  Stan flipped the eggs.  And as the eggs bubbled in the bacon grease, Stan convinced himself by saying to himself, ‘Look.  If I were trying to sneak into that jail and thought up this scheme myself, wouldn’t I try it?’  Stan hoisted the eggs out, arranged the eggs on the plates with the bacon, toast and hash browns, decorated each with an orange slice and a sprig of parsley and placed them in the window just as Carmella passed to lift them away with a wink and a smile.

It was probably Carmella’s look that decided it.  Stan heaped up a fine, steaming dish, of what he liked to call his 12 Egg, Complete with Melted Gruyere Cheese, Kandahar Mortar, covered it with a checkered cloth, put on a clean and unspotted apron, and presented it and himself with a big pot of hot coffee at the jail promptly at 7 am early Monday.

After a few preemptory knocks, and the use of a password Ruth had concocted, the front door opened.  “Good morning, Ruth?   I’m Stan from across the way,” Stan said.  He made no move to enter.

“C’mon in, Stan from across the way.”  Ruth smiled.  “Boy, doesn’t that smell good,” she said, lifting a corner of the checkered cloth.   We all have saved our appetites.”  She gauged Stan as a slight frown flitted across her face.  “Just walk in there and the Sheriff will tell you where to set it.  And I’ll follow close behind.”  Stan noticed the young girl reporter from the café working at a computer.  He nodded.  Nancy appraised him, mentally taking notes.

Stan smiled his best as regular people did and stepped across the linoleum into  the Sheriff’s office.  “Breakfast?”  Leland smiled, looking up and examining Stan.  “Could you just set it on the bunk inside that jail cell just next to the one with the prisoner in it?”

Stan hesitated.  Leland raised his brows.

Stan nodded, passing into the jail proper.  Leland rose and followed behind, with Ruth following behind him.  “Is dressing like that illegal?”  Stan nodded as he passed Ramey, the transvestite, sitting sullenly on his bunk in the other cell.

“Ramey, what is it that happened to you?”  Leland asked.  But Ramey sat sullenly, staring at Stan, saying nothing.

“Cat’s probably got his tongue,” Leland said.

“You leave his cell door open all the time, like that?”  Stan asked.

“This is a converted jail.  It used to be a feed store.  There are no toilets in the cells.  So we have had to come to an understanding.  Isn’t that right Ramey?”  Leland showed a little irritation at Ramey’s sudden unwillingness to speak.

“He doesn’t talk much either, does he?”  Stan observed.

“Well, not at the moment, apparently.  Why don’t you just set the food down in there, and we can see if a little breakfast will lure some conversation out of him.”

Stan hesitated to walk into the cell.  “Go ahead,” Leland urged, hanging onto the swinging iron jail door.  “We’re right behind.  I’ve got my coffee cup ready.  And Ruth’s here with her fork and plate.”  Stan stared at them both.  Something didn’t feel right, ‘in a big way,’ he was thinking.

“What about that young girl?  She want some?”  Stan asked, back stepping.

“She’s already eaten.”  Leland blocked his path.

“Ramey, you’d better get over here, you don’t want to get left out.” Leland turned his head with some real irritation.   “Where the hell has Ramey gone?”

“I don’t know,” Ruth said, turning around herself.  “He was in there, just a moment ago.”

They both looked befuddled, Stan thought.  “You run kind of an odd jail here, Sheriff.”

“How so?”  The Sheriff replied.

“Well,” Stan had to laugh.  “Your prisoner just walked out the back door there.  A small girl is playing on your departmental computer.  And the cell here is painted like the waiting room in a bordello.”    And when this didn’t get a rise, he added.  “And still, you two are here, looking like you’re still gonna sit down to eat your breakfast without a qualm!”

“We are.”  Leland nodded.

“Don’t want it to get cold!”  Ruth smiled.

“He’ll be back,”  Leland said, settling himself.  Leland motioned with his cup.

Stan stood there in wonderment.  “Law enforcement sure is different in a small town,” he observed.

“Oh.  How so?”  Sheriff Leland smiled.  He looked inquisitive.  Ruth smiled, too.  “Yes.  How so?!”

Stan smiled.   “Let’s eat before it’s cold as Afghanistan,” he said finally.

Leland nodded.   Ruth nodded.  Everyone ate.

Stan was irritated.  They ate too slowly.  And their comments about his Kandahar Omelet struck him as perfunctory.   They might as well be having oatmeal.  And he couldn’t see or feel anything special about the jail – outside of the bizarre mural which covered the inside of the prisoner’s cell.  Stan asked about that, but neither the Sheriff nor his secretary seemed much interested in delving into it, other than to say that Ralph Bunch done it.  And Stan nodded, as he’d met Ralph Bunch.   “Kind of surprised there’s not a Chipmunk in it,” Stan joked.  But all it got was the Sheriff’s noncommittal, “How so?”

Their conversation seemed to pick up as Stan cleared the dishes and prepared to go.  But it was mostly about where Stan was from, his background, foreground, mid-ground, and about just about every other thing Stan didn’t feel the inclination to answer.  The whole morning was a bust as far as Stan could see.  And the prisoner still hadn’t returned, by the time breakfast was finished.  Which was just bizarre.  It wasn’t even a proper jail!   And Stan had become so irritated with the tepid reception to his meal, that his attentions had wandered and were festering in their own little pool.   So no one saw Ramey enter, passing in through the back door carrying a heavy shovel which he had hoisted over his shoulders like a baseball bat.

Leland had returned to his office.  Stan had just cleared the cell block.   And Ruth was leading the way out, when Ramey swung the shovel with all his strength, striking Stan at the base of his skull with a sharp “whang!”   Stan went down like a sack of onions.

Ruth turned and gasped.

Leland came running in, with Nancy not far behind.

Ramey dropped the shovel and backed away, looking at them with alarm.  “I didn’t do it.  I didn’t do it!”  He jumped, shivering with disgust.   Nancy wrote this down.

“I’d call that a positive I.D.”  Leland smiled at Ruth, nudging the blade of the shovel and then the skull of his suspected serial killer with a toe to see if he could ‘rouse him.

Nancy wrote this down.

Photo taken from Google Images

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

May 13, 2013

Secret database2

Tracking a Scent

(Episode 48)

 

“Do you know that Robert Frost poem, where he says,

 

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–

I took the one less traveled by,” ?

 

Nancy spoke as her fingers raced over the keyboard.

“Well, Mr. Wallace, the teacher I had for investigative journalism, said that you find those ‘two roads’?  And you trace them back to where they first ‘diverged’?  And that will make ‘all the difference’.”

Nancy had supplanted Ruth at the keyboard and was speaking to the others clustered around as she sped her investigation through the networked maze of a national data base.  Nancy had two files open.

“Okay.  In this window I’m back tracing our first victim, Clarisse Clemens.  Oh, this is interesting.  She has past arrests for prostitution and confidence games.”

“She could’ve met any kind of murdering low lives in those professions,” Ramey suggested.  Then his head twitched sharply to the right, so quickly, Ruth was afraid he might have hurt himself.

“I’ve never done any of those things,” the Muffin Lady objected sharply.  “Nor have I associated with anyone, knowingly anyway, who did them.”

“Okay, okay.  By ‘interesting’, I meant more that her background will add color to the article.”  Nancy turned and smiled.

Ramey smiled sweetly back.  ‘This is weird,’ Nancy decided.

“Anyway, so in this other window I’m tracing Ms. Loomis here, our ‘Muffin Lady’.  Oh, look at all the articles here.   And here’s those two of mine, in the New York Times!  The first, with the picture of Sheriff Leland, and then the second, with those pictures and stories of the shoot out…”

“And!  moving on…” Ruth said.

“Sorry,” Nancy apologized.

“You know, I don’t believe I’ve seen anyone test the Sheriff more than you have little girl,” Ruth admonished her.

“I know, I know.  I’m sorry,” Nancy apologized again.  “Mr. Wallace said that we may have to say that a lot.  But that, that was okay, as long as we did our job.  We got the story,” she said a little more upbeat.

“Remind me to have a word or two with this Mr. Wallace of yours,” Ruth said.

Nancy kept her head down and continued searching through the screens, trying this keyword, then that; this association, then that.

 

This went on for several hours.  Nancy kept at it, while Ruth stepped outside to have a smoke.  Then Ramey walked back to his cell, to lie down awhile, and cover his eyes with a cool washcloth.  Then Ruth stepped back inside and called across the street for some take out lunch.  Then they all ate while staring at the screen.  By the late afternoon Ramey was sawing logs while Ruth was playing solitaire in the Sheriff’s office.

“I’ve got it!”  Nancy cried.  “You were born in Pinch, West Virginia.  Doctor Ramey.  Doctor Ramey!  Did you hear that?”

“I could have told you that, had you just asked!”  Ramey/Muffin Lady staggered in groggily.

“And Clarisse Clemens was born in Charleston, but raised in Elkview, West Virgina,” Nancy declared.

“Yeah.  Just a few miles up the holler,” the Muffin Lady replied.

“Quite a coincidence, huh?”  Nancy exclaimed.  “Maybe you two went to the same school?”

“No.  No.  The kids from Elkview attended Milton middle school and then later on went on to Benton High.  While we went to the local Pinch Middle School, and then attended Sadie Meyers High.  We only saw them at the games.  And me, rarely, because girls didn’t have any sports, and I’d be damned if I was going to go miles out of my way to scream and cheer for a bunch of pimpled boys, who felt any recognition opened the door to my drawers.”

“Oh.”  Nancy reddened slightly.  “Well, still, you have to admit.  This is an enormous coincidence.”

“ But that’s all it is.”  Ruth nodded.

“What do you mean?!”

“That’s all it is.  It is an enormous coincidence.  But that’s all,” Ruth said.  “What, if anything, does this tell us?”

“Jeeze.”  Nancy sighed, and turned back to the computer.  “You know, you people in law enforcement don’t get enthused enough.  Maybe you should get out more.  Shoot something,” she groused.

 

It took Nancy three more days of after school sleuthing, before she finally hit upon it.

Sheriff Leland and Merlin had returned meanwhile with their news.  And the Sheriff had beaten up the phone and hammered on the computer for several days himself trying to figure out just who Bob and Harriet Weeds had fed to the pigs.  He tried all the databases.  He used all his passwords.  Then Agent Hailey dipped into her FBI database, using all her passwords.  Ruth googled.  And Merlin went back to his Vet lab to see what he could find and match with the weird plastic shred of evidence they had.  But they all drew blanks.  “What in the world good is an ID, if the agency doesn’t exist?”  Merlin asked.

“Probably just for show,” Leland admitted.

“So they could have been just anybody, posing to be somebody?”  Merlin said.

Leland sighed.  He nodded.

“We could have just talked to the pigs,” Merlin declared.

Leland smiled.

“I’ve got it!”  Nancy squealed, from Ruth’s office.

 

Both Leland and Merlin’s brows rose.  “What have you got?”  Leland called from his office.

“Just… the answer!”  Nancy called back haughtily.

Photo lifted from Google Images

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

May 11, 2013

Secret database1

Investigative Reporting

(Episode 44)

 Leland and Merlin weren’t the only ones on the track of a killer.  Back at the office, the ‘ladies’ were also discussing matters.

“I’d like to do a little background on the victims of our killer,” Nancy Gillis told Ruth, “and I was hoping I could use the Sheriff’s computer.”

Ruth rolled her eyes upwards.  “That’s a departmental data base in that computer and only to be used on official business.  That means, by a ‘departmental  official’.

“Whatever I find out, you’d be welcome to.”

“Isn’t that big of you,” Ruth scoffed.

“What you don’t seem to get, little woman,” Ruth continued, after Nancy refused to walk away, “is that this (she patted the computer tower) is proprietary information, which means that it is the property of a Department of the United States Government, a Federal database used by this Bureau, which can only be accessed by someone who has the proper occupational clearance.”

“I knew you would be the most likely person to hold a clearance,” Nancy replied happily with evident awe.

Ruth bathed in this for a moment.

“Of course.  For some things.  And the Sheriff holds the passwords for other, more sensitive areas.  But none of those people include you, young lady.”  Ruth riveted Nancy with her eyeballs.

“But the victims are dead.  And I don’t see how any of this covers the killer.  I mean, what is there about our killer that you don’t want me to find out? ”  Nancy implored Ruth with her best Shirley Temple look.

Ruth shook her head.

“Why not think about it this way Ms. Haphelstot?  Aren’t there a lot of things about this case that you would like to know, and that might help in the investigation if we could dig them up?  You would like to do that wouldn’t you, Ms. Haphelstot?  Help with the investigation?  And myself, I understand computers probably better than anyone here because…  I’m young.  Everybody knows that.”

“It’s true,” Ramey said.  “I’ve got a ten year old who helps me out at the office.”

Ruth was chewing on a painted fingernail.   “Well.  There are a few questions of my own, I’ve had about these murders.  Which Sheriff Leland hasn’t had the time, or the inclination I’m unhappy to say, to pursue.  And I can’t seem to figure out the data base.”

“Go ahead.  Let the girl try her luck,” Ms. Loomis, the Muffin Lady, said over whatever it was Ramey was saying.  “I’d be interested, what the government can tell me about myself that I don’t already know.”

“See.  So we’ve got one dead person already.  And she doesn’t care.”  Nancy nodded briskly.

“At the office,” Ramey shouted, after snapping his head hard.  Nancy imagined perhaps this tossed the Muffin Lady clear of his thoughts, or at least to the side.  “My ten year old often has to go into confidential accounts in order to repair things.  There’s no other way around it, unless I were to endanger their treatment.  So I just make him swear to non-disclosure.  And we treat it that way.”

“You made a ten year old swear to non-disclosure?”  Ruth frowned, un-amused.

“On a deck of baseball cards.  He takes it very seriously.”

“Wait a minute.  I’m a reporter,” Nancy interjected.  “How can I report what I’m not allowed to disclose?”

“Good point,” Ruth said.  “That might work.”

“Not for me,” Nancy protested.  “What do I get out of it?”

“You get the information.  You just can’t attribute it to this source.”  Ramey’s head snapped back sharply the other direction, as the Muffin Lady interjected.  “Trust me.  I’ve done lots of interviews, and that’s how it works.  And once you have the information, it’s usually easy to find another source.  For example, say you find out I once lived in Cincinnati.  Then you go to the Cincinnati data base and see if I’m located there.  And when you file your story you just say, ‘According to the public files in the data base of the Cincinnati Better Business Bureau, Mary Loomis previously owned and operated a shop called “Tasty Muffins” there from 1985-1987.’  You see, simple.”

“Is that true?”  Nancy asked.  “You’re from Cincinatti?”

“Pretty much.”

“C’mon,” Ramey urged.  “We all want out of here.  The sooner we crack this case the better, for all concerned.”

Everybody nodded, including Ruth, who eventually found herself agreeing.  “Oh alright,” she said happily, lifting her newly polished nails from the keyboard and allowing Nancy her seat.  “Let’s do something!”

Photo lifted from Google Images

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

May 4, 2013
Phoning the Wife.

Phoning the Wife.

Long Distance Call

(Episode 45)

            Peter Barnett rang up Carmella with some trepidation, but with his game-voice on.  “Carmella!”

“Where the hell are you?”  Carmella replied.  She was just then placing a platter of biscuits and gravy on a customer’s table, and slammed it down so hard that the biscuits hopped, which made the customers heads hop.  (You had to be there.)

“Same place, honey.  Sorry it took so long.  I got caught in a tight spot and couldn’t call.  But all is right as rain now.  And I’m bringing home the bacon.”

“Sorry!”  Carmella said hushed, to the customers.  “I’m talking to the mayor.”

Her customers, nodded.  They were tourists, who wouldn’t know the mayor of Kimmel from the mayor of San Francisco or that he was Carmella’s husband.  But they knew the appellate ‘mayor’ and so were a bit impressed.

“I don’t know if I worry more when you sound stressed or when you sound relieved Peter,” Carmella said, hurrying out to find a spot of privacy.   “I just know that after 10 years of living with you, your high spirits don’t put me at ease.  What has happened?”  She hissed from behind the coats on the back coat rack.

“Just that my trip down here – though it has had its ups and its downs – has turned out a huge success!  I’m bringing back industry and jobs to our little corner of the woods, dear.  Kimmel’s mayor has come through!  You can start spreading the word.”

“¡Oh, no, no. Mi pequeña comadreja de un marido,” (Au contraire, my leetle weeezul of a huzbeend!), Carmella hissed.  “I am going to keep it well under my hat, until I hear the all of it, and I have you back here under my thumb where your story can be properly vetted, and sources checked and corroborated.”

“For goodness sakes, Carmella.  Should I bring my birth records?  Maybe a current photo ID?”

“You mean your hatch batch, you lizard.  What are you selling me?  And what have you been doing for two weeks?”

“I told you Carmella.  I’ve been handling some very tough negotiations.  But, handling them well, I’ll add, now that we’re through the worst of it.”

“The worst of it?  What else is there?”

“Nothing we can’t handle,” Peter assured her.

We?

“But why don’t we talk about the best of it, first?”

“I’m listening.”

“I’ve arranged with a syndicate of backers to finance the development of a huge recreational area right there in Kimmel.  We’re talking a construction budget in the millions.  Do you realize what this will do for our small community?”

“A ‘recreational area’?  You mean like horse rides and hiking and river rafting and camping and such?”

“Well, more like gambling and adult entertainment… and such.”

“Gambling and adult entertainment, in Kimmel?”

“Or just outside!  We’ll have to go over the possible locations.”

“What’s the bad news?”

“They gave me $120,000.  But we need $120,000 more.”

“$120,000.  They gave you $120,000?

“It’s earnest money.  Kind of like a ‘commission’, you know?  It’s my job to help marshal this whole thing through the governmental process, get all the proper licenses and certifications and zoning allotments and such.  I’ll be earning my money.”

“So why do you need $120,000 more?”

“Because I figured that is what it would take.”

“You figure doing all this is going to require $240,000?”

“Yes.”

“And how did you arrive at that number?  Right now the office of Mayor pays you around $5,000/year.  How come all of a sudden someone from Las Vegas wants to pay you $240,000?”

Peter had no quick answer for that.

“It seems to me that there are all sorts of little nowhere towns with little nominal nowhere mayors who could be had for a lot less than $240,000, – conflict of interest or not,” Carmella observed dryly.

“I resent that characterization, Carmella,” Peter replied.

“Well, I’m not trying to butter you up Peter.  So, answer my question.  Why, in the world, do these people want to pay you $240,000?”

“Well, it’s because they don’t actually have to pay me any of it.”

“Oh, and why’s that?”

“Well.  It’s because I already owe it, to them.”

“What?!  Peter, where in the world have you gotten $240,000 to owe anyone?”  Carmella was starting to feel a splitting headache coming on.

“Well, there’s where it’s been taking me the two weeks to get this all arranged.  And why I didn’t want to call, before it was all secured.”

“Yessssssss?  I’m listening,” Carmella said, and wishing she wasn’t.

“Okay.  This is how it went down.  But it was a good thing!  Eventually, this is going to be a good thing.”

“Peter, do you realize that we are about three minutes into this conversation and I feel like I am just now getting to whatever it is has happened that you are going to finally tell me?  And do you realize that this is how most every conversation we ever have is?  Because I have to keep digging and digging and questioning and questioning until I can finally get to what the heart of whatever it is you have to say actually is!”

Peter had been holding the phone away from his ear, so he hadn’t heard much of this.  But he felt he’d gotten the gist of it, enough, to reply with a little hurt in his voice.  “Carmella, when you get going like this, it’s no help to anyone.  Now just shut up and listen for a while.”

When Carmella didn’t reply, and Peter heard no ‘click’ of a disconnection, he continued.  “What happened is this.  After all those meetings with our sister city officials  I needed some time off, so I figured I’d just drive into Las Vegas and just look around.  All that glitter and stuff, you know.  You can literally see the place glowing in the distance.”

“You drove into Las Vegas,” Carmella sighed.

“Honey, lots of people do it, everyday.”

“Yeah, but they don’t have a drinking problem and a gambling habit.”

“It was just for a look around!”

“Okay.  So you drove in, looked around, and came back.”

“Well, no.”  Peter sighed.

“God damn it, Peter!  How much did you lose?”  Carmella felt she might crush the phone.  She massaged her forehead.

“Well, only $160,000 at first.”

“Only $160,000!  Peter where did you get that kind of money?  You didn’t   sell our restaurant did you?  I don’t see how you could have done that without my knowing.”

“No. No!  Nothing like that.  I would never do that, honey.   I just borrowed some of the city’s money.”

“You stole money from the town?!”

“I borrowed, borrowed!”

“Then pay it back, back!  Right now!”

“I am.  I have!  At least half of it, anyway.”

“Wait a minute.  You lost $160,000, but you owe $240,000.  What’s with the other $80,000?”  Carmella kept rubbing her forehead, but more vigorously.

“Well, here’s the thing.  I figured I’d lost the $160,000 because I’d made the mistake of gambling while I was drinking.  I mean, who could lose that much sober?  I went down to breakfast the next day and couldn’t even remember the night before.  I mean, I had to walk to the window to check my winnings, before  finding out.”

“Peter.  How could you start drinking?  Again?  And in Las Vegas, of all places?”

“I know.  I know.  Not smart.”

“Not smart?  Honey, what you have done is so far from ‘smart’, why, I can’t even figure out where it is.  You asshole!”

“Look, Carmella.  There’s no need to take that harsh tone with me.  Drinking is a disease.  Why, if I were dying of smallpox or something, would you be standing there calling me an “asshole”?”  Peter replied, feeling hurt and a little self-righteous.  “No!  You’d be calling a doctor.”

“No, Peter.  I think I’d watch you die, and be enjoying every minute of it.”  Carmella hissed from behind the coats, watching the Sheriff suddenly walk in.

Silence.

“I know you don’t mean that Carmella.  So I’m just going to continue as if nothing had been said, as if you hadn’t shared that.”  Peter sighed.

More silence.

“So, I figured,” Peter struck back up, upbeat.  “That sober, I could easily win it all back.  So, I went back at it with a vengeance.  I mean, I really worked hard, using all of the skills I’ve acquired, and playing it tight, playing it right.  But.  Lady Luck just wasn’t with me.  And you know, when Lady Luck frowns, well, there’s nothing you can do.  So I ended up $240,000 down.”

“Why $240,000?”  Carmella wondered, fatalistically.

“That’s when the town ran out of money.”  Peter shook his head.

“Oh,” Carmella replied, wrung out.

“But it’s a good thing! Carmella.  Because this is where I was able to turn things around, you see, because without that debt hanging over my head, I would never have been able to entice these savvy, shrewd business peopled down here into investing in our small town way out in the middle of nowhere.  But as it worked out, it’s as if I played them.  Which, I guess I have!  They are going to plunge millions into our little town, because they figure it costs them nothing!  And all it took on our parts was to lose $240,000.  Which, I might add, we plan to pay all back!”

Carmella didn’t know what to say.  She was dead tired from working in the restaurant 24/7, from listening to the crazy fantasies of a crazy husband, and now what could be impending incarceration for embezzlement – plus, just to add another dollop of bad luck to it, possible involvement with shady gambling figures, probably mob-connected.  She looked forward into her future and saw a shallow unmarked grave somewhere deep in the woods off a logging road, and her buried in a waitress smock or something.  Maybe she’d go serve the Sheriff some free coffee.  Yes.  That’s what she’d do.  She hung up.

“Leadership isn’t always easy, and it isn’t always carried out along the direct path,” Peter was touting himself into the dead phone.  “But the victory is there to be had, and the achievement to be realized for the ones who have the cajones to reach for the ring, and stay the course through those tough times of adversity, Carmella.  And let me tell you, I’m appreciative of your loyalty.  And someday, you’ll be able to take that to the bank.”

Photo by Carl Nelson of professional model

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

April 28, 2013
oooh, nice!

oooh, nice!

the help

the help

Influence Peddling

(Episode 44)

Benny Green got a call from his friend Lazlo in Vegas.  Lazlo was also a loan shark and money launderer.  But at times they traded leads.

“I got this guy here, thought you might find interesting.”

“Oh yeah?  How so,” Benny asked.

“Well, he’s deeply in debt,” Lazlo continued.

“That’s a start,” Benny agreed.

“He’s lost somebody else’s money.  And if that somebody else doesn’t get their money back, he’s gonna be in deep shit.”

“So he’s already in deep shit,” Benny replied.

“Yeah.”

“And this wouldn’t be your money, would it?”  Benny asked.

“Well, it could be,” was Lazlo’s reply.

“Aaahhhh.”  Benny nodded.  This sounded like a two way split.  Which Benny liked better than a favor.  A two way split was precise and people kept their eye on the play.  A ‘favor’ was a sloppy business and involved a lot of conversation and socializing and most of the time came back to bite you.  “And what’s his pitch?”  Benny asked.  “What’s his collateral?”  Benny laughed.

“Well, it’s something you might be able to use, but I can’t, really.”  Lazlo let the last words filter out his lips with the smoke from his cigar.  “But if you could, then we could.  But if you can’t, then we can’t.”

“Hmmmmmmm.”  Benny nodded.  It so happens that they were both, at this time, puffing on big cigars – the same brand actually – and letting the smoke filter out from between their lips.

Lazlo belched and waved someone over.  Benny, on his end, did the same thing.  Benny snapped his fingers, and asked his mistress to hand him a ham on rye.  Down in Vegas, Lazlo snapped is fingers at a former showgirl and demanded a Chivas on the rocks.

“So why would I be able to use this ‘thing’ we’re talking about, when you can’t – or won’t?”  Benny asked.  There was a lot of chit chat and shoptalk embedded in a deal.  And Lazlo employed and enjoyed it as much as Benny.  And when they were enjoying themselves, they often felt the urge to eat.

“It’s a matter of lowkwhoshawn…”  Lazlo murmured through a bite of sandwich.

“THwhaut?”  Benny chewed, spit out a wheat kernel, and checked his filling.  ‘What the hell does this woman buy for bread?’ Benny had to ask himself.

Lazlo swallowed, then took a gulp of beer.  “It’s a matter of loc-a-tion,” he enunciated.

“Uh,” Benny replied, reaching in his pocket for a toothpick.

“What he wants to sell me is a town.  …maybe a county.”

“A town?  What have I got to do with a town?”  Benny replied.  “What am I gonna do with a county?”

But Lazlo was silent, letting the matter crawl around the crevices of Benny’s lizard brain for a moment, while Lazlo studied a sandwich.  He lifted it.  Finally, Lazlo decided where he was going to bite and answered.  “It’s the town’s money he lost.  He’s the mayor, the treasurer, the coroner, the post office supervisor, and a dozen other things as near as I can tell, of the great metropolis of Kimmel, up in your neck of the woods.”  Lazlo bit.

“And so he wants to trade you the town, in lieu of his gambling debt?”

“He wants to trade me his influence,” Lazlo corrected, chewing.  “He figures hi mhight whant tho estahblish,” Lazlo took a gulp of Chivas, feeling the ice tap his teeth,  “gambling, and maybe a little loan-sharking and prostitution up in his neck of the woods.  And he thinks me and him can make that happen.  Of course, if I decide not to ‘help’ him out, then more than likely he goes on the lam, or gets incarcerated, and there goes his influence.  So.  It’s a perishable commodity,” Lazlo summarized.

“Aren’t we all,”  Benny sympathized with a smile.  “How long does he have?”

“Well, there’s the payroll he’s got to meet, which includes the county Sheriff’s salary.”

This made Benny’s brows rise.  “I don’t know,” Benny said finally.  “Currently I’m invested into businesses – legit businesses, some of them even hi tech, you’d be proud of me, I am embracing technology – and making clean money.  Towns cost money.  They got potholes to fix, cops to fix, and all that shit..  I don’t know.  I don’t see any money, unless I go majorly illegal.  You know, corrupt with a big ‘C’.  And then, I still have to put even more money in, you know, to build up the proper infrastructure, to support something that would make it worth my while, considering the risk.”

“Benny!  I can’t believe I’m hearing this.  Corruption always pays better than legit.  That’s why we do it,” Lazlo swore.

“Aaiiii!”  Benny swore.  “But I’m getting so tired of talking to that FBI.  And the legal fees eat me alive.”

“Okay.  Okay.  Only two words I’m going to say,” Lazlo replied.  “Las Vegas.”

“That’s one.”

“No, it’s two.  Look it up.”

“I have.”

“No.  Apparently you haven’t, because there’s ‘Las’, and then there’s ‘Vegas’.  Two words.”

“Las’, is not a word.”

“Yes it is.”

“No it’s not.  What does ‘Las’ mean?  It doesn’t mean anything.”

“It must in Spanish.  Or they wouldn’t use it all by itself, would they?”  Lazlo countered.

“Who knows what the goddamned Mexicans do,” Benny replied.  “Even if it does mean something, it probably means ‘the’, or ‘before’, or ‘on top of’.”

“’On top of?”

“…or something.  And what does ‘the’ mean?  Huh?  ‘The’ doesn’t mean anything.  It’s like a nothing, a, an, empty thought space.”

Lazlo sighed.  “Okay, look.  We’re getting off topic here.  Why don’t we save  this linguistic pissing contest for another time?”

“Fine with me.”

“Because what I am saying in a language we both know and can communicate in is that what we may be looking at here is an opportunity.  And it might be worth the investment because we reduce the risk, like Las Vegas.  They own the desert, and they make the law.  No cops.  No lawyers.  No courts.  No nothing.  Just out of state marks.  Lots of grain fed marks flown in…”

“I heard you say “we”.”

“That’s right.  We split 50/50.”

“So what do I do?  And what do you do?”

“Okay.  So this is it.”  Lazlo lowered his voice – just from habit, and not because he was afraid of being overheard.  It was just habitual to lower your voice when you got to the meat of any conversation.  Everybody knew this.

“The guy’s short $240,000.  It was $160,000, but he tried to gamble his way free.  This ought to give you some measure of the guy’s ability to self-examine and to self-correct in the face of adversity and of his character flaws.”

“Yeah.  I got it,” Benny said.  “Mayor or not, he’s just another normal putz with abnormal ambition and what he thought were testicles.”

“Yeah.  So this is how it is:  I give him $120,000.  This is enough to save his ass for the time being, but not enough for him to lose that sense of urgency, which is so important for a good relationship to flower.  You pay me $60,000, and you’re in for half.  After that we own him.  And you run him and the operation up there, while I raise the money and assemble the backers down here.  And we go big league.  We put Kimmel County on the map.  What do you say?”

Benny thought for a while.  “I knew a broad who lived out near there,” he said.  “One of my clients.  Seemed to like it.”

“Well there you go,” Lazlo agreed.

“Until she got whacked.  Some crazy batshit serial killer or some such.  Cut her head off.  Like, sawed it, with a small knife.  Can you believe that?”

“There’s a lot of sickos in this world,” Lazlo sympathized.

“Maybe.  On the other hand, she was pretty abrasive,” Benny offered.

“Well, okay.  Then there’s that.  You know, like sometimes a person’s karma can catch up to them.”

“Yeah, and saw their head off!”  Benny laughed.  He considered.  “Okay, cut me in.  And I’ll get the money to you by the end of this week.  It’ll be cash, and I’ll have my nephew drive it down personal.  Cause you know him and he knows you.”

“That’ll work, “ Lazlo said.

“Okay.  Nice bein’ in business with you again Lazlo,” Benny said.

“The feeling’s mutual.”

They both hung up, grabbed their drinks and cigars, and sat there thinking.

Photos from Google Images

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

April 24, 2013

ID Card4

Screening More Pig Shit for Clues

(Episode 43)

 

            Merlin and Leland unhinged the screen door, while Bill Porter pulled out the lengthy cow stall sprayer hose.  Bill said that he wouldn’t mind in the least helping with a murder investigation; moreover, that he’d never ever participated in one and thought he might enjoy it.  So they had Bill drive the pigs out of the pens.  Then, as Bill shoveled the pens and heaved the muck onto the screens, Merlin sprayed the mud away into a slurry, while Leland scoured the bits of twigs and rocks and other debris left on the screens for evidence.

            “It would be pretty nice if whoever died here were our killer,” Merlin spoke above the rush of the spraying water he was zig-zagging about the screens.

            “Nice.  But I wouldn’t get our hopes up,” Leland answered.  “It doesn’t figure.  If our killer talked her husband Bob into accompanying him on his latest murder/rape – I could see her killing our killer, and maybe even Bob, but when I spoke with them, right before both of them getting shot, they were cooing like two love birds.  And also, why would she ask me who I was working for?” 

            “Okay.  Let’s say it was someone else she killed and had Bob dump the bodies in here.  Why would she want to do that?  Who in the world would Harriet want to kill?  Other than the killer?

            “You mean, besides Bob?”

            “I thought you said they were cooing like love birds.”

            “Yeah, but just recently.”

            Merlin thought about this.  “Okay,” he surmised.  “Then who is a person you or Harriet – or anyone, really – are most likely to want to kill?”

            “Someone who’s trying to kill me!”  Leland laughed.  Because this is the way it almost always was in the law enforcement business.

            Merlin and Leland looked at each other, while thinking this over.

 

            “Someone was out to kill either her or Bob – or maybe just Bob – and Harriet drilled ‘em,” Merlin said.

            “Maybe so…”  Leland said, as he collected a few items of interest off of the washing screen.  “Hey!  Hold it up there a moment, will you Bill?  And Merlin?”  He held the items in his palm and mulled them over. 

            “Here, it looks like we have a pretty well gnawed on hunk of a black rubber heel.”  Leland held it up.  Two cobbler’s nails stuck out of it.

            “Man, those pigs were hungry.”  Merlin whistled.

            “It was a few days before I realized maybe somebody ought to come over here and look after the stock, since nobody was,” Bill apologized.

            “And here.  Oh, this is interesting,” Leland continued.  “It looks like a portion of a license, or a legal identification of some kind.  No writing.  But it’s got that plasticized holographic twinkle to it when I hold it up to the light.”

            Leland was getting excited.  “Okay.  It looks like we’re going to be out here for some time.   I want to sluice all of the mud in all of these three pens, and go through it carefully before sundown.  Are you two okay with this?”

            “Just let me make a few calls,” Merlin said, setting the hose and stepping away.

            Bill Porter nodded soberly.

            Merlin halted and turned.

            “Wait a minute,” Merlin said.  “Holographic ID.  And Harriet says, “Who are you working for, Leland?” 

            “Yeah,” Leland agreed.  “We may be looking here at the (fecal) remains of some kind of Government Official.”

            “Is there any other kind?”  Merlin chuckled.

            Leland frowned.

            “Or several?”  Bill Porter’s eyes grew wide, taking in the wide expanse of pens.

            “It can’t be ruled out.”

            “What kind of Government official goes missing and nobody knows a thing?”  Merlin asked.

            Leland considered this.  “The worst kind, maybe,”  Leland said.  All of a sudden, everything was moving very fast…   “You two might want to be very careful who you talk to, and how much you say about this for the next while,” he added.  “Just to be safe,” he said grimly.

            Merlin exhaled slowly, between the crack in his two front teeth.

            Bill Porter looked nervous, like a man who was suddenly in over his head, or having qualms anyway.

Photos from Google Images

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

April 21, 2013
A Pig Will Eat About Anything and Really Clean Their Plate.

A Pig Will Eat About Anything and Really Clean Their Plate.

Pigs6

“There’s Gold in That There Hog Pen!”

(Episode 42)

 Leland sat at the dinner table of the old farmhouse and wondered just what had occurred there.  He couldn’t imagine Bob Weeds cooking anything worth eating, so it was probably Harriet.  He looked into the dishwasher.  But it had already been stacked and run following the tourist’s lunch.  The whole crime scene was so polluted by now that anything uncovered now could be used to indict just about anybody, including a ham sandwich.

‘Didn’t matter.’  Leland was just here to get a feel of the place, to get a feel if he could for Harriet’s mental state.  He looked around.  He couldn’t say, in any way, that it looked like the house of a crazy person.  It was all fairly clean, and all fairly orderly.  Just about the housekeeping you’d expect a working dairy farmer’s wife to be able to manage.  There was a magazine about cows, and one about guns.  Another one over by the plant on a stand was full of household hints and recipes.  ‘Jeeze,’ Leland thought.  ‘How does it go from this, to getting shot?’

He walked outside, squinted up into the sun and noticed Merlin waving to him.  So he strode over there.

“I was talking to Mr. Porter here…”  Merlin nodded.

“Call me Bill.”

“…Bill.  And he showed me something.”

Bill Porter held up something bright between his thumb and forefinger.  “There’s gold in that there hog pen!”  He said, delighted.

Leland looked at it.  Bill Porter handed it over.

“Old Bob must have lost a cap at sometime.  I was just over here taking care of the animals ‘till some arrangements have been made for them, when I noticed this little nugget glowing up at me.  Can you beat that?  Must have been for doing a good deed,” Bill said, smiling.

“Must have been,” Leland agreed, smiling.

“Are you wondering what I’m wondering?” Merlin asked.

Leland nodded.  “Bill,” he said, “would you mind waiting around here for a while with us?  I’d like to make a phone call.”

“Sure, Sheriff.  No problem.”

Leland stepped a few paces to the side and called the office on his cell.

Meanwhile, Merlin chatted with Bill Porter about what and all, and about the pigs.

“Ruth,” Leland said.  “Could you give me Ramey, please?”

“Sure, Leland,” Ruth said.  “What’s up?”

“Don’t know.  Maybe something.”

“Okay.  Let’s hope it is.  Here’s Ramey.”

But it wasn’t Ramey who came on the phone.

“Sheriff Leland!  I’ve been in this cell for over 3 weeks now, or more.  I’m starting to lose track of the days.  And it seems I don’t know one more thing about why I was murdered than I did the night of the attack.  What in the world are you doing out there?”

“Nancy.  Would you please channel Ramey for me?  I need some information.”

“For your information, I don’t ‘channel’ anyone.  I’m just stuck here, inside of a dentist – for Godsakes – and I don’t know why.”

“I don’t know either, Nancy.  Now could you please give me Ramey.  Poke him, or prod him, or mumbo jumbo him up out of the ether, however you two have it worked out, but give me Ramey please, so that I can get back to the crime scene and do my job.   Please?”

Merlin, meanwhile, heard the argument and stepped over.  “Who’s ‘Nancy’?”  He asked.

Leland covered the phone and exhaled.   “You wouldn’t believe…   …I’ll have to introduce you!”  He smiled at Merlin.  Merlin’s brows rose.

“Yes?  Who is it?”  This was Ramey’s voice.

“Ramey?  Is that you?”  Leland asked.

“Yes.”

“How do you and… that woman in your head, have things worked out?  It seems every time I want to talk to you, I have to go through her.”

“Well.  Err, it’s difficult to explain Leland.  But I think it might have something to do either with, well, just her nature, or the way she was raised…  I can’t really tell.”

“Nevermind!  Listen.  You did Bob Weeds dental work.  Did he have any gold caps?”

“Ha!  That would be the day.  He was a ‘fly to Tijuana and have them all pulled kind of a guy.’  He joked that he would “spare no expense”.  He thought that was funny.  I think it was his wife, Harriet, who’d thought of the retort.”

“Okay.  How about Harriet?”

“Harriet?  Well, she had pretty good teeth.  Not many fillings as I recall.  But they were all amalgam.  She wasn’t the type to go spending money on pretties.”

“Thanks Ramey.”  Leland clicked off.

“That’s not Bob or Harriet’s gold cap,” Leland said.

“Then whose is it, Sheriff?”  Bill Porter, who had come walking over, asked.

“That’s a good question Bill,” Leland said.

Merlin nodded thoughtfully.

Photo by Google Images

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

April 9, 2013

Cornedge

Back to the Farm

(Episode 39)

 Carmella was beside herself.  The Café was jammed.  A line was snaking down the sidewalk outside.  And she had been on her feet and on the run since five that morning.  She had added five new waiters and three new cooks.  But they were new and had needed direction all the time.  But thank God she had happened on Stan.  She had full confidence he’d have the kitchen running like a well-oiled machine, in no time.  He seemed to have just taken over.  And nobody seemed to have complained, so “it was all good”, as her husband Pete would say.   Carmella supposed.  She would have loved to know how Stan managed what he had managed, but whatever.  It was the one bright spot in her increasingly frantic life.  ‘Actually,’ TWO brights spots.’  She wiggled her hips.

“Gotta make hay while the sun shines!  Right Sheriff,” Carmella chirped to a bleary Leland that next morning.

“Shut up, Carmella,” Sheriff Leland said, fingering his aching head, not his usual polite self.

Carmella rested her hip against the booth side as she refilled the Sheriff’s cup and murmured in confidence.  “I’m sorry Sheriff.  I don’t know what’s gotten into me.  I’m just kind of manic, what with all the activity of late, and my mouth bubbles off.  You know, we all, I mean the whole town appreciates the lengths you’re going to to find these killers.  It’s just that the Weeds getting killed has got the whole valley on edge.  Not that they were the most popular farmers around.  But they had been here for many generations.  So it’s kind of got everyone shook.  Me included, I suppose.”

“I appreciate that Carmella.”  Sheriff Leland nodded, touching his head in various spots.  “I truly do.”  He stirred his coffee.

“Okay then.”  Carmella tapped on the table.  “Coffee’s on the house.”

Leland nodded.  Then after Carmella left, he sighed.

‘That’s what I do,’ Leland scolded himself, ‘I sigh.  This town elects a Sheriff.  Murders occur.  And what does he do?  He sighs.’  Leland berated himself.

Leland thought for a moment, shook his head, and then pulled out his cell phone.

“Merlin?”  He said.

“Yeah?”

“I’ve got work for you.”

Merlin didn’t respond.

“Pick you up in 10 minutes?”

There was a long pause.

“Sure,” Merlin replied.

Photo by Carl Nelson

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

March 2, 2013
Whiteboard

Whiteboard

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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