Posts Tagged ‘Federal Bureau of Investigation’

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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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… by Eldon Cene

December 7, 2012

Elderly Woman Working Jigsaw Puzzle3

Ramey Gets Interrogated

(Episode 17)

            Ramey had emptied two bottles of wine getting through the rape kit procedure and was now fast asleep under the sheet, head lolling off the table top, his breathing ragged with glottal stops and gasps.  It was annoying.  And it was interrupting Leland’s conversation with Agent Hailey.  So Leland shoved Ramey’s head roughly back onto the table.  “Shut up Ramey.”

Ramey murmured something dental and vaguely offensive, took a lazy swat at the air, missing Leland by a foot, and rolled over.

“I scraped his nails, took a buccal swab, and checked him for cuts and bruises, scratches, the works.  He’s clean as a baby’s butt, and with hands just about as soft,” Agent Hailey said.  “It makes no sense.

Leland snapped himself from his reverie.  The woman was just so damned beautiful he felt as if he were watching a movie.   “It does if he’s just a dentist,” Leland said.

Agent Hailey moved them quietly out of Ramey’s hearing.  ‘All they needed was soft candle light,’ Leland thought sadly, with the regrets of someone who feels he is going to miss that train.

Agent Hailey frowned.  “Usually there’s a telltale.  You don’t just drag a struggling woman 50 yards through undergrowth, in the dark, to a spot where she’s beaten and raped after meanwhile taking several shots at you, without some kind of abrasive evidence.  It doesn’t add up.  Even the most careful killers usually have some kind of scratch to explain away, or forest dirt under their nails, or hair or blood splatters, or knuckle abrasions, or clothes to dispose of.   It just doesn’t make sense.”

Unless he’s the mild-mannered dentist who didn’t do it.”

“How could he have known all of this beforehand, if he didn’t do it?”

“He didn’t know all of it beforehand.  He just knew her name.”

“Then how could he have known her name.”

“I don’t know.  Maybe he overheard it from some gassed patient blathering on under the effects of an anesthetic which stimulated his already overly excitable imagination,” Sheriff Leland got a little excited himself, “… into a formed narrative of great moment?”  Leland smiled.  Agent Hailey looked at him funny.

“Then how could he know all of it afterward?”  Agent Hailey pursed her lips, leaning in.

Less impossible…”

“Not much.”

Leland paused before answering.  Agent Hailey was actually hissing softly.  But the difference between hissing and puckering for a kiss was spatially pretty much similar.  Leland angled his head this way and that, considering which attitude most got their noses out of the way.   It was mostly a matter of attitude,  Leland considered… and remained lost in these considerations until she kicked him.

“Ow!  I don’t know.”  He rubbed his shin.  “And kicking me usually doesn’t make me any smarter.”

“Fine then.  You talk to the guy a while, while I go through the house.”

“We haven’t a warrant.”

You haven’t a warrant.  He signed one for me.” Agent Hailey gave a pert flip of her head.  “Actually, she signed one for me.  But I’m thinking it’s probably valid, given the circumstances.”

Leland waved her off.  Agent Hailey was really interfering with his focus.  And he figured it was about time to interrogate Ramey, anyway.

“So.  Ramey,” Leland called out to the bleary dentist after he had rousted him and administered some strong, hot coffee.  “What’s been going on with you?”

“Oh, Leland.  You wouldn’t believe…”  Ramey’s head snapped back and a sharp, crisp demanding woman’s voice issued from the other side of his mouth.  “Have you caught my rapist yet?”

Leland was caught aback, even though he had been expecting something of the sort.  Ramey’s whole aspect seemed changed.  “Ma’am, I realize you probably have a lot you will want to tell me, but I would like to speak with Ramey, the dentist, first.”

He wasn’t raped.”

Leland next expected Ramey’s head to turn entirely around and to vomit green goo.  But he remained firm.  “The dentist, please.”

Ramey’s head snapped back, and it was the Ramey Leland knew.  “Oh, Leland,” Ramey began again.  “I feel as if I’m married, only I’m 25 years in and we’re really getting on each other’s nerves.   She won’t leave me alone!  She wants this done.  She wants that done.  Nothing’s quite right.  She just doesn’t seem to be able to be satisfied.  And she’s got all this anger, which I feel she projects onto me.  Who I feel she doesn’t really know, or actually care to know.  I finally had to give up and started drinking.  How do married men take it?”

“I don’t know, Ramey.  I’m not married.”

Ramey nodded.  “Why do men ever enter into such a state?”  Ramey whined.

“I don’t know, Ramey.  I think maybe sex has a lot to do with it.”  Leland put his hand on Ramey’s shoulder.  “At least, it seems responsible for a lot of the crazy things I see in my line of work.”

“Yeah.”  Ramey nodded.

“Look, Ramey.  I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner.  Okay?”

Ramey rolled his eyes.

“But I need to know.  What is this thing between you and Nancy Loomis?  How are you two connected?  How did you know she was going to get murdered?”

“I didn’t know she was going to be murdered, Leland.  All I was doing was mowing my yard!  Even now.  You see how it’s half done.  Did you even notice the mower left out there?  I was mowing my yard when suddenly, I received these horrific visions, and the name “Nancy Loomis” sounded in my ears.  You remember when I realized your 13 year old dog, Lucy, had been hit and killed, and then drug off into the woods by a coyote, and I knew just where to find her?”  Leland nodded.  “It was just like that.  So I called Ruth – who was as officious as ever.  Leland, I have to say, that woman is not to be trusted with power.  Do you know she calls your Sheriff’s office a department, when you aren’t looking?”

“Yes, I know this Ramey.”

“Well, anyway.  So I’m trying to tell her what I know, but I need to know what I know for certain before I commit myself because, as you know, in these small towns it’s very hard to preserve your reputation as a professional.  You’ve just got to watch it like a hawk!  So I try to ask Ruth what she knows about a ‘Nancy Loomis’.  But she says she can’t reveal any information about an ongoing investigation.  So I say, “So there is an ongoing investigation regarding Nancy Loomis?”  To which she says, “I can’t say.  We can’t reveal information regarding any ongoing investigation either factual or fantastical”.  You know how bureaucrats talk and repeat the same things with that kind of nasal thing going when they’re trying to dish you?  Well, Ruth does that too, Leland.”

“I know, Ramey.”

“And then pretends like she doesn’t know me.  I’m her dentist, for Pete’s sake Leland.”

“I know, Ramey.  I know.”

Ramey sighed.  “So I tell her to have you call me.  And of course you don’t call me.  And the rest is history.”

“I’ll say I’m sorry one more time, Ramey, and then that’s it.”

Ramey nodded.

“You haven’t taken me up to the part where you got married.”

“Married?  Oh yeah.”  Ramey shook his head, rattled it, actually.  “There wasn’t much to it.  I go to bed.  And the next thing I know, I wake up.  And there’s this partly naked woman in a ruined dress in my head with me.  I mean, she’s a mess!  And she’s pissed as hell.  It’s like one of those Las Vegas wedding things I’d guess, where you head out drinking, and the next thing you know you’re waking up in some strange motel room with some woman you don’t recognize – who smiles at you with just these awful teeth – who says you’re married.  I mean, it’s a mind blower Leland.  And you’re left just casting about for landmarks.  Which, again, is why I called you.”

“I know.  I know.  And I’m sorry, Ramey.  But I’m here now.”

“Yeah.”

“Look.  Maybe it’s time I speak with Nancy…”

“It’s Ms. Loomis to us Leland.  And I think that’s a good idea.  And while you’re at it, could you just tell her that I didn’t have anything to do with whatever has happened to her, and so perhaps she could just calm down a little, at least with me?  It’s a small space in here.  I mean, inside my head.”

“I’ll do what I can Ramey.”

“Thanks.”  Ramey’s head turned, and the fish wife re-appeared.  “That took you long enough.”

“Well,” Leland said, “Ramey had some concerns.”

“He’s a fucking dentist.  Who cares what concerns a dentist can have?”

“Well, to a “fucking dentist”, strange as it may seem, their concerns sometimes reign uppermost, in their minds.”

“Well they shouldn’t.  Because, God knows, I’ve been complaining loud enough.”

“He agrees, which gets us to something he wanted me to bring up with you.”

“I’m in his own head, and he needs an intermediary?”

“Well, perhaps you come on a little strong.”

“It’s a man’s world!  How would you expect me to come on?  Do you know how hard it is for a woman to make a go of it in the kind of ‘Good ‘Ol Boy’ business climate there is that exists out there?  Do you think I just got given a 5 million dollar industry to run?  No!  I didn’t think so.  I had to build it from scratch.  From the mixing bowl up!  And after all that, all that toil and sweat and after breaking the glass ceiling all on my own without any help from you or any other man, do you know they call me?  The Muffin Lady.  Well, you know what?  I wear that moniker as a badge of pride.  Go ahead.  Call me the Muffin Lady.  And I’ll call you and raise you 5 million dollars.  What do you think of that?”

“I think that you’ve shown a lot of pluck.”

“Luck?  Luck?!  What’s luck got to do with it?”

“I said, pluck…  PLUCK!”

“Okay.  Well, good then.  He must have messed up my hearing when he punched me in my good ear.”

“That’s probably it.  Now if we could just get to your recounting of events?”

“I would love to go there, finally, for Christ’s sake.”  A tear trickled down Ramey’s cheek.  “You’re going to help me nail this bastard?”  Leland felt some sympathy rise up.

“We’re going to blow a big wide hole, right through him.”

“That sounds good.  That works for me.”

Leland nodded, and they began their interrogation.

Photo by Carl Nelson

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

November 26, 2012

 

Rape Kit continued

Episode 16

 

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

Leland stood there nonplussed.

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

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

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

The door slowly opened wider.

Leland introduced Agent Hailey again with a nod.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leland stared at him.

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

“Oh yeah?  What movies have you seen?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Carl Nelson

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

November 23, 2012

Rape Kit

(Episode 15)

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

“Why all the favors?”  Agent Hailey replied.

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

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

Leland rose.  “C’mon, let’s go.”

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

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

“Regular tip,” Leland added.

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

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

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

Agent Hailey didn’t hop in.

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

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

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

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

“Sorry to hear it.”  Agent Hailey replied.

Leland nodded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Gee.  Sounds like fun.”

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

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

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

“You’re kidding,” Leland replied.

“Noooope!”

Photo by Carl Nelson

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


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