Posts Tagged ‘girl reporter’

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

March 9, 2013
Weed's Farm

Weed’s Farm

Gunfight at the Weed’s Corral

(Episode 35)

 

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

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

Agent Hailey nodded.

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

Agent Hailey nodded.

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

“Works for me,” Agent Hailey replied.

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

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

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

Nancy licked her pencil and wrote all this down.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Would a bullet make him more cordial?”

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

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

“You brought yours.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No Leland, I’m not gonna do that.”

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

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

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

“That would be before puberty,” Harriet observed.

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

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

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

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

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

“Okay.”

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

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

“Before what?”

“Before I take Bob here in for questioning.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You have understood my true nature Harriet.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But others didn’t fare as well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Carl Nelson

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Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

February 19, 2013

phone call 4

Pitching Ruth

(Episode 33)

“How’s it going?” Nancy said, after she’d introduced herself.

“How’s it going?  Is that the sort of cleverly crafted question which keeps a writer publishing just below the fold of the New York Times these days?”

“It’s called a ‘conversation opener’, Ruth,” Nancy replied.  “And why are you trying to break my balls like this?”

“My name is not ‘Ruth’.  It’s Ms. Haphelstot to you.   And where in the world did you get that expression, “busting my balls,” Nancy?  You’re a 15 year old girl.”

“Sorry.  But I’ve been hanging out at the Café with the other journalists, and that’s just how professional reporters talk Ruth.”

“You have no balls.”

“It’s a euphemism.  A turn of phrase.”

“I know what a euphemism is, little girl. And I’m been intimately acquainted with a lot of turns of phrases in my day, and they’re all just dicks calling themselves Richard, if you can handle my French.   And I’m surprised Carmella would put up with it over there.    And I have half a mind to call your mother, that is, your father,  Nancy.  And I’m not Ruth.”

“Sure, you are.”

“Not to a 15 year old girl, I’m not.”

“Are you going to be a prude?”

Yes!  When I’m employed in a professional  capacity.”  Ruth was adamant.

“The Sheriff calls you Ruth,” Nancy whined.

“That’s because he’s the Sheriff.”

“Well, I’m a reporter,” Nancy retorted hotly.

“You’re a gossip,” Ruth replied.  “And a little, 15 year old one to boot.”

“That’s not what the New York Times thinks,” Nancy said.

“What the hell do you want, Nancy?”  Ruth said finally.

“You may call me Ms. Gillis, please.”

Ruth sighed.

“Alright.  Ms. Gillis it is.  What would you like to know, Ms. Gillis?  And does your father know where you are?”  Ms. Haphelstot asked tartly.

“Look.  Maybe we got off on the wrong foot here Ms. Haphelstot,” Nancy said solicitously.  “Because I’m merely calling to see how the investigation is going.  We haven’t heard much about it out here, where there is so much fear and so little real knowledge!   And I bet you can imagine how conjecture will fill in all those vacant spaces!  …!!!   So, I thought I’d call and nail down a few facts.”

“What facts are those?”

“Is it true the Federal Bureau has been dragging its feet in analyzing the evidentiary material in this case?”

“Where’d you get that idea?”

“Well, despite the scuttlebutt I overhear at the café, I figured it couldn’t be because our Sheriff is at fault.  He strikes me as a pretty sharp cookie, and pretty resourceful  law enforcement officer to say the least.”  Nancy hoped she wasn’t slathering it on too thick.

“He is.”

“Well, then, what’s the hold up?”

“Oh, for Pete’s sake.  I shouldn’t be talking about this.  But I’ll be damned if I’m going to let Leland take the fall here.   The fact of the matter is, we don’t know where the evidence is.  We sent if off to the FBI, two weeks ago.  We got back an intitial dribble of information.  And now it’s like it’s fallen into a black hole.

“I’ll bet Lelan…  Sherriff Leland’s pretty upset.”

“Would you call shouting, upset?”  Ruth asked.

“Um.”  Nancy replied, writing.

“But I can’t fault Agent Hailey.  She’s done all a body can do, as far as that goes.  In fact, I think she’s very embarrassed.  Her organization has really let her down on this one.”

“Um huh.”  Nancy said, taking more notes.

“But at least we still have the bodies.”

“The bodies?”  Her pencil stopped.

“Yeah.  You know, how when people are killed, their bodies often remain.”

“Do tell,” Nancy replied sweetly.  “And where are they?”

“That,  I can’t say.”

“But you’re sure they are still there?”

“What?  Why would the bodies be missing?”

“Well.  I don’t know.  But the other evidence is, right?”

The line went silent.  And Nancy could almost feel the vibration of Ruth’s mental gears turning through the phone; first slowly, and then at hyperspeed.

“You know what?  Something’s come up.  And can I talk to you a little later about this, Nancy?”

“It’s Ms. Gillis.”

“Certainly Ms. Gillis.  Just let me handle this bit of new business, and I’ll get right back to you.  Okay?”

“Sure,” Nancy agreed, and hung up.

By the time Ruth had locked up the Sheriff’s office and headed out in the Sheriff’s car, Nancy was following closely, pedaling hard, on the far right side of the road… the playing card in the spokes humming.  People rarely looked for tails, Nancy figured, riding bikes on the opposing sidewalk.

Nancy lost her after six blocks, 3 dodged dogs, one shopper and another biker, a small boy, going the opposite direction (poorly), but by then Nancy had already figured out the only place Ruth could be heading.

Ruth had reached the butcher’s and was talking animatedly and motioning with her arms, by the time Nancy arrived.  Nancy saw them go to the meat lockers together, and stood wondering what she should do.

She left her bike against the bushes and walked over to the Sheriff’s car.  Ruth had left it unlocked.  Nancy  looked in the back hatch window, but saw nothing as there was a security shade drawn.  So she opened the clam doors and saw plenty of room for a small girl to hide.

Nancy  considered.  Today was Friday.  So there was a good chance her father wouldn’t be back until the wee hours, and then, not up until eleven or twelve that next day.  Which gave her lots of time.  She still had a bottle of water and half of the hamburger she’d purchase at the restaurant wrapped up in a napkin.

Nancy hopped inside and closed the clam shell doors softly behind herself, just as Ruth was exiting from the butchers, at a calmer pace and looking relieved.

Photo taken from Google Images

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

February 17, 2013
"The Lobbyist"  Hamburger At The Campaign Cafe

“The Lobbyist” Hamburger At The Campaign Cafe

Nancy Gillis: Girl Reporter

(Episode 30)

 Nancy Gillis was only 15, and as her reportorial career was going, the blush was already off the rose.  Sure, she could continue writing for the Kimmel High Wolverine.  But if she wanted to remain in the Big Leagues she was going to have to offer them access.  The editor back at the Times had made that as plain as a seasoned editor could, who was trying to delicately negotiate a conversation with a 15 year old girl in another state.   “Who was a minor, by the way”, he continually was reminded.  They had much better, seasoned, savvy reporters who could do the frontal assault thing.

But she’d already tapped every source she knew.  Drew, the boy who was running the tour service, gave her a couple things he had filched from the Mercedes.  A toothpick, which didn’t look to be something the victim might have used.  And a slug, he’d found fallen under a tire… which she’d already photographed to accompany a first person account of her initial arrival on the crime scene.  The Sheriff wasn’t speaking.  And she didn’t trust the other reporters.  They were jealous competitors.  And Mr. Wallace, their journalism teacher at school, had as much as advised her that she was getting into deeper waters than he wanted to tread.  “You’re just starting a career, here, Nancy.  But I’m 5 years from retiring out of this School District.  That is, if I can keep from stepping on any toes.  The school district just hates paying out benefits.”

“Now, you want to go on writing sensational stuff that will get picked up by the Times, that’s fine.  But they’re your editors then.  You understand? I can’t be associated with that stuff.  Not that there’s anything wrong with it, you understand.  But it’s very dangerous to play in the Big Leagues, if you’re not a Big League player, or at least have a Big League Club behind you.  You’re bound to get hurt.  And I’m not young enough to play stickball with them.  They always ‘stick it’ to the little guy, you see, when things go sideways.  You want to go back writing about cookie sales, or Mr. Buckley’s class efforts to repopulate the riverbank with natural growing rhododendrons – then I’m right here.  Okay?”

Nancy nodded.  Fifteen years of age and she was already beginning to realize why people were committed to asylums.  ‘Life was just a viper pit of conflicting passions’, it was seeming.  She hadn’t met the serial killer – and hoped that she wouldn’t – at least until he was well behind bars.  But they might very well agree there.

Nancy rolled all of these difficulties over and over in her head, as she rode her brother’s bike with the card in the spokes around the small town.  Finally, having worked up a hunger, she ordered a burger and shake and fries at the Campaign Café and sat down at the counter.  Someone new was working in the kitchen and the clatter in the place was about twice the usual level.  ‘Well, that made sense,’ Nancy figured.  ‘At least these crimes had brought a little prosperity to my ‘depressed rural community’, Nancy practiced phrasing it like a veteran reporter.  Then she decided to make a list.  “You want to know something?  It’s people”, Mr. Wallace  had been fond of saying.  “They’ll either be able to tell you what’s going on, or even if they don’t know, you’ll find out how much they care.   And while something no one cares about may be important, it’s not newsworthy – unless somehow you can make them care.  Got that?”

‘Okay,’ Nancy thought to herself, ‘who is there in this community who might know something, or have access to knowing something, who I might be able to cajole into helping me?’  She liked the word ‘cajole’.   She practiced writing it in the margin several times.

By the time she was done she had about 13 names.

One by one, she crossed each and every one off, until, as she saw it, she was down to one or maybe two.  The first was Ruth, Sheriff Leland’s secretary.  And the second was that wild card, Agent Hailey.

Then she made another list, remembering another thing which Mr. Buckley had said:  “Put your self in the interviewees’ shoes,” he had said.  “What would talking to you, accomplish for them?  What carrot can you offer?  What do they care about?”

Nancy Gillis started that list.  She was just about done with it, before she remembered to eat.

She glanced up after gathering together her burger and noticed the new cook looking at her.  She smiled.

He nodded slightly, and gave her a small smile back.

Photo from Google Images


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