Posts Tagged ‘Leland’

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

May 19, 2013

Pie1

Leland’s Love Jitters

(Episode 51)

            Leland, meanwhile, was having his own problems.  He had tried asking Agent Hailey out.  He had begun, “Agent Hailey?”

“Yes,” she said.

“I was won…”

Leland looked at Agent Hailey.  She was all tired efficiency.   The poor thing was just worn out, he could tell, and probably held upright by her stiff uniform.  They’d all been pushing themselves pretty hard.

“Gee, you look bushed.  We need a night off,” he declared finally.

“Serial killers don’t take nights off,” Agent Hailey replied.

“Well, we don’t know that, do we?  And they certainly should,” Leland declared.

Agent Hailey just looked at him.  He thought she might be going to say something dismissive, but instead, she fell asleep.   Just as she opened her mouth, she fell directly forward, her head stuck in Leland’s stomach.  She was out like a light, snoring briskly.

 

            Leland rousted Ramey out of the cell and lay Agent Hailey on the bunk.  Then he turned off the light and shut the inside door so that she could get some uninterrupted sleep.

When Agent Hailey awoke it was about 6 pm, and Leland suggested they get some dinner at the Café “…across the way, and then maybe catch some of the local culture.  What do you think?”  He added, his eye twitching.

Agent Hailey looked around the darkened cell, and then at Sheriff Leland groggily, like a child being awakened in the depths of the night and told they had to leave right away for ‘somewhere’.  “Okay,” she mumbled.

But she wasn’t entirely present until around twenty minutes later when she studied, with some of her old presence, the crowd in the Café and the meatloaf, potatoes with homemade gravy which had been placed before her.  “What’s with the crowd?”  Agent Hailey asked.

“They’re gathering for Culture Night,” Leland responded.

“Sheriff Kelly.  May I call you ‘Leland’?”  Agent Hailey asked.

“I wish you would.”  Leland smiled.

“Leland,” Agent Hailey began again, licking some of the sleepy drool from her lips and taking a sip of coffee.”  “What the hell is ‘Culture Night’?”

“You remember the artist I told you about who painted the cell you just finished sleeping in?”

“Yes.”

“His name is Ralph Bunch.  His family has lived around here for ages.  But I’d say he’s the only ‘artist’ they’ve ever sprouted.  And his specialty is painting scenes from hereabouts, most notably cows and such.  And every month he has a showing.  He covers the walls of the bar in back.  And often recites a small poem or squib of something he’s composed while in the midst of creating his paintings.  So far I’d guess I’ve heard everything which could ever be said about Guernseys.  Each month I’d be willing to wager it, but each month, Ralph proves me wrong.”  Leland smiled.  “Actually,” he added, “it’s called Poetry Night.”  Leland spoke this latter with a lift of his fork and knife and a little flourish.

“That’s real romantic.”  Agent Hailey nodded, several times, as if thinking that – and her meatloaf with homemade gravy – over.

“Agent Hailey,” Leland set his silverware to ask.  “May I call you….?”

“Yes?”

“You’ve never told me your first name.”

“Agent.”

“Agent?”  Leland looked confused, and then a little disheartened.

“Hey!”  Agent Hailey poked him with her fork, and then stole a bite of his pie.  “May name is Suzanne.  Suzanne Hailey,” she said with a smile.  “You were right about their pie.  This is really good.”

She went for another bite as Leland pulled it away.

“Get your own.”  Leland smiled.

For the rest of the meal, they chattered like two high school seniors.

Photo from Google Images

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

April 17, 2013
Trevor

Trevor

 

Merlin and Leland and his Euthanized Dog

(Episode 40)

 Merlin was already in town, so he dropped by Leland’s office and they walked out to the Sheriff’s SUV.

“Mind if I drive?”  Merlin asked, hopping into the driver’s seat.

Leland paused, finally taking the passenger’s seat.  “I’m just the Sheriff.  And this is the Sheriff of Kimmel County’s car.  Why would I mind?”  He frowned, pounding on the dash with both fists.

Merlin didn’t reply.  Instead, he started the vehicle and started heading north.

“North?”  Leland asked.

“That’s where the bodies were,” Merlin answered.

Leland rolled his eyes.

Merlin said, “No?”

Leland shook his head again, and indicated Merlin should keep driving.

“Okay.  Where are we headed then?”  Merlin asked after they had pulled out of town .  It was midday and the sun was high overhead.  Merlin turned on the air conditioner.

Leland never replied, his thoughts being on just what it is he might be missing.  Harriet had said, “Who are you working for, Leland?”  Which was a puzzle Leland had no answer for.  Why would Harriet think he was working for someone?  Or that he was other than he appeared to be?  He’d known Harriet since she was the lonely little fat girl, sitting in the room’s corner all through elementary school drawing pink and blue tractors, which plowed orange and purple rows.  He was guessing she owned maybe 3 dresses in all.

All Leland really knew about her in the thirty or more years that passed were that she was a lot shrewder than she looked, and that she never took bullshit from anyone.  Plus, she was a damned good shot with a rifle.  It wasn’t like Harriet to be believing random aspersions.  If Harriet hadn’t been ‘down to earth’, then no one was.  So…

Merlin pulled the car over with a quick swerve and stopped.

‘…why would Harriet say such a thing?’ Leland wondered again, grabbing the door jamb.

“Okay Leland.  I’m tired of this.”  Merlin fixed him with a look.

Leland was shaken out of his reverie.  He paused to think, as the clouds of dust dissipated around them.

“Are we breaking up?”  He smiled.

“And by the way, shut the fuck up,” Merlin said.

Leland nodded.

“I’m going to say some things, and I want you to listen.”

Leland raised his brows.

But it seemed Merlin was having a problem putting what he wanted to say into words.  Finally he spoke:  “Okay.  Here it is.  I didn’t kill your dog.  I ‘put him down’.  There’s a difference.”

“?”

Merlin raised his hands quickly.  “Let me finish.”

“I know how attached you were to Trevor.  It showed all over you.  Everyone knew it.  But he was riddled with cancer and in extreme pain and there was no denying it.  And euthanasia was the best thing we could do – YOU could do – given the circumstances.  And I don’t blame you for it.”  Merlin paused.  “So don’t blame me.”

Leland was astonished.  “I never blamed you for killing my … dog.”

“Oh yes you do!  You don’t know you do.  But you do, nevertheless.”

Leland didn’t know how a man could respond to this.

“Don’t think I haven’t seen it before.  It’s one of the commonest ways a Veterinarian loses his clients that there is around.  An animal lover loves his animal.  But the animal is suffering.  So the animal lover comes to the Vet and he asks, “What can we do?”

Leland thought about Trevor, which was interesting, as he hadn’t thought about Trevor in some time.  God he missed him.  Especially, what with all of the craziness of late.”

“Well,” Merlin turned towards Leland.  “The answer is, there isn’t much we can do.  We’re not God.  We don’t have those powers.  So we give them the choices.  I gave you the choice.”

“He was a great dog,” Leland interrupted.  “Just the very antithesis of all the craziness that has been going on around here of late.”

“And then we may even tell them what we would recommend.  But the owner makes the final choice.  And then, we put them down.”

“That’s what he was, Merlin.  That’s what Trevor was.  He was sane!”  Leland realized.

“What?”

“I can feel it so clearly now, after what’s just gone on around here.  What with all the awful, vulgar killings, and the shootings of the Weeds.  Trevor was absolutely sane.  And you just can’t say that much I’d guess for the rest of us.”  And inexplicably Leland could feel himself begin to bawl… great racking sobs.  “He was so sane.  So very sane.  He was just a great, sane dog!”

“Maybe I’m just crying for the loss of my sanity,” Leland said later, with a strangled laugh.

Twenty minutes later, Leland indicated to Merlin that he was ready to roll.  And Merlin started the vehicle and pulled out, heading north.

In another half hour things seemed in the vehicle as if they were back to normal.  Maybe even better than normal, Merlin thought, glancing over at Leland and then looking ahead.

“You know,” Leland said.  “It’s strange.  For the past few months I’ve felt as if I’d somehow gotten a chicken bone lodged in my throat.  But I couldn’t figure out where, or when.  And now, it’s gone.”  He swallowed a couple times.  “Yeah, it’s gone.”

“So you feel better?”

“Yeah.  I do.”

“Good.”  Merlin smiled.

Merlin nodded at a road sign and Leland nodded back.  They were almost there.  The Weed’s turn off was just up ahead on the left.

Photo from Google Images

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

March 29, 2013

3 Feathers Whiskey

“So, where the Hell are we now?”

(Episode 37)

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

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

“So I’m the bad guy here?”

“No.”

“After just saving your ass?”

“I’m not saying that.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Only when necessary,” Agent Hailey responded.

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

Ruth nodded.

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

“Three?”  Leland queried.

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

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

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

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

“…and beyond.”  Leland added.

The three of them drank.

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

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

Leland filled them again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leland glanced around.

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

Photo by Google Images

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

March 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

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

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

November 10, 2012

The Feds

(Episode 12)

Likely enough, Bob Weeds had been somewhere, where he had absorbed some ‘growing community sentiment’, Leland figured on his way back.  He made it a mental floss to think a little bit more about Bob, and he put Ruth on the phones when he got back.  Ruth was a master at ‘salting the mine’: just little tidbits of insider knowledge, enough to let the local network of gossips share with the public at large that – at least in the Sheriff’s office – events were bubbling, things were moving.  Because, Leland knew,  in his job, the campaigning never really stopped.

Five gallons of gas wasn’t enough to get to Ramey’s and back to town, so before Leland could get out to Ramey’s, he first had to get back to town to fill the car and 5 gallon container.  And while he was at it, he decided it might be best to stop back by the office to check on a few things.

“Ruth!” He shouted as he tossed back the entry door.  “Fill that damned cruiser with gas after you use it.”  He tossed Ruth the keys.

Ruth skittered out.

Leland’s first need was to change his firepower.  Leland had figured the county issued pistol he carried was adequate for most of what he was required to do as part of his job as Kimmel County Sheriff.  But this latest string of murders had larger troubles written large all over it.  And Leland imagined he’d need to blow a bigger hole through whomever it was doing it than a regulation pistol would allow.

After this second murder, a saying of Leland’s Sergeant in the LA Police Department had come to mind.  “You don’t go hunting bear with a squirrel gun.  Bigger game requires a bigger gun.”  His mentor had said that the morning before they went up against the Jamaicans.  Leland had never seen so much blood.  But it was Police Department 10 / Jamaicans 0.

Leland sat at his desk cleaning and oiling and reassembling the .45 Colt Anaconda he’d fetched from back in the evidence locker, checking its action, and practicing moving it in and out of his holster, while looking out onto the main street through the slats in the blinds.  Leland had been here ten years settling things like shot pet disputes, filched timber, and crop damage complaints when all of a sudden people were getting murdered.  It was changing how he looked out on Main Street.   And he didn’t like it.

Leland turned back to oiling and working his gun.  He checked the sights.  He figured anybody who was out murdering people might resist arrest, also.  And while he was thinking this and spinning the cylinder, something flashed in the window.

Suddenly …a flash of light!

He looked up just soon enough to see a pair of pig-tails disappear.

He was thinking of giving the damned kid a chase, when an unmarked American sedan drove up and parked directly before where he stood looking out, .45 Colt Anaconda pistol in hand.  There was something about the speed and authority with which the auto parked.  He parted the Venetian blind wider with a forefinger and saw a man and a woman in the front seats.  The man was driving.  They both wore dark suits.  Everything about it said, government.   And everything about that said, “Feds”.  And everything about that raised flags.  He slid the gun and oils, tools  and bullets into his top drawer, and wiped down the top of his desk.  He brought out a writing tablet and pen and set a little Smiley Face which said Kimmel County Sheriff’s Department underneath on the front ledge.  It was a little kitsch which Ruth had purchased.

When they poked their heads through the door, Leland noted that they were both carrying.  It’s funny how that was the first thing you noticed about somebody in this business.

“Sherriff Leland, I’m guessing.”  The man was 30-40ish, and looked fit.  He shook hands with the overbearing grip of an alpha male.

“That would be me,” Leland admitted, while they ground knuckles for a while.  “And who is this?”  He turned to the younger woman, who was who was already working her way around his office.

“Agent Hailey.”  She turned away, as if she had already been forced to reveal too much.

‘Not a bad looking woman.”  Leland’s brows rose.

“And I’m Agent Curtiss, out of the FBI’s Division office.  Can we sit?”

“Please do.”  Sherriff Leland waved a hand.

Agent Hailey glanced around.  “There are no chairs.”

“That’s how I keep people out of my office.  Plus, you know, it’s the budget.”  Leland rose from behind his desk.  “Usually when I really need to talk, I take it into the jail cell.”  Leland indicated the door behind them.  “It’s more private.”  He nodded towards the door they had come through, on the other side of which, Ruth grumbled, and returned to her desk.

Sheriff Leland led them into the cell, where he straddled a plastic chair while they sat on the steel bunk.

“Sounds like you’ve had a murder.  A couple of murders here, actually.”  Agent Curtis began.

“Yes, we have.”

“Any suspects?”

“Oh yeah.  Nearly everybody.”

“Everybody?”

“People don’t move to the country because they enjoy each other a lot.”  Leland gave the G-Man a smile.  He continued.  “In an out of the way area like this, grudges are made; they  fester.  This idea of burying the hatchet and making up happens maybe 5% of the time around here, except on evening TV sitcoms.  Here, people fight, divorce, re-marry, or drink, or run amuck with a gun or a tractor.  So, something like this happens and we’ve all got our suspicions.  I must have had about a thousand calls so far.  Lots of tips.  My guess is, that you’re bringing me another.  And you’re FBI, so I’m thinking that you’re going to tell me that this all has ‘larger ramifications’.”

“That’s right,” Agent Curtis said.  “We think that this latest homicide of Karen Loomis might be connected to the mobster Benny Green.”

Agents Curtis and Hailey looked at Leland as if he might have something to add.

“You didn’t say, …”in some way”…”.

“Huh?”

“You didn’t say that it was connected in “some way” to the mobster Benny Green.  So I’m guessing that you may have some hard information to offer,” Leland said.

“Yes, and no.  Nancy Loomis was working for us.”

“I heard she cooked muffins.  You eat muffins?”

Agent Hailey huffed.  “She was CEO of a 5 million dollar corporation which produced Food Accessories.”

“In a big way, I meant.”  Leland nodded at Agent Hailey.  “So why would a woman who is so successful and doing so well be working as an informant for the FBI?  That’s pretty dirty, disagreeable work, isn’t it?  I mean, it tosses you in with all types.  …It’s not the Rotary.”

Agent Hailey shook her head.

“The recession,” Agent Curtis smiled, leaned forward placing his elbows on his knees, and lowered his voice as if he were letting Leland in on something.

The guy was a pretty good salesman, Leland had to admit, except for that Godawful grip.

“During the recession of 2008, credit streams just dried up.  It didn’t matter who you were.  And even very successful companies were scrambling to meet their cash flows.  And that’s where Benny Green comes in.  He figures this is an excellent time to launder a lot of drug monies that otherwise he has to pay a huge commission to get pressed and cleaned.  So he’s out there helping out all he can.  He comes across our Miss Loomis, and even though it is not love at first sight… They manage to work things out.  Fine.  But then two years in, credit has loosened a bit, Nancy has bitten the bullet, and she’s wanting to pay Benny off.  But Benny doesn’t want to be paid off.  He wants what he’s got now.  And it’s then that Nancy knows that she’s stuck with this Benny Green whether she likes it or not… like with Super Glue.  Which she doesn’t.  AND, being the plucky little 120 pound thing she was, she comes to us.  And we hammer out an agreement.”

“It was a very dicey negotiation,” Agent Hailey cut in.  “Because she was already up to her neck in legal shenanigans, and knew she was at legal risk.  But, she also knew that they only way she would get herself and her company out of Benny Green’s clutches was if we could somehow take him down.”

“So we joined forces,” Agent Curtis continued.  “She helps us take Benny Green down, and we call it good.  That was the deal.”

“Only now she’s dead.”  Agent Hailey said this with some real anger, looking as if Sherriff Leland had let it happen.

“End of deal,” Leland said.  Leland looked at them as if to say, ‘Then you must have gotten her killed.’  And they both looked down.

“It doesn’t look like a mob killing,” Leland offered.

“And you know what, about ‘mob killings’?”  Agent Hailey retorted hotly.  She glanced around with derision.

“I know that they seldom saw off the head, go through the brains looking for God Knows What, leave cigarette butts, beer cans, and what look to be donut sprinkles and footprints all around, make weird cuts all over her body with a knife and take the left nipple for a trophy.  Oh.  And by the way, she was raped.”

“Shit!  You’re kidding.”

“No. I’m not,” said Leland.  “Whoever is doing this, I doubt they’re in it for the money.  And as to whether they might have mob affiliations…  Frankly, I don’t think the mob would have anything to do with them.   We’re looking at the ultimate loose cannon.”

Photo by Carl Nelson

Murders in Progress…

November 4, 2012

Out of Gas

(Episode 11)

The bus dropped Leland off back at the Sheriff’s office.  Leland called Ramey, while Ruth tossed him the keys.

‘Ramey,’  Leland said into the phone, catching the keys.

“I’ve put on a pair of flannel pajamas’ and poured myself a big glass of wine and started a roaring fire and I’m just sitting here, “ Ramey lisp, in the slightly feminine voice.  “It’s been quite a couple days!”

“…You sound gay,’” Leland said, completely thrown.

“I’m not leaving the house today, Leland.  I need this quiet time to recoup, and to re-center!  I feel I’ve undergone a horrible psychic invasion,”  Ramey lisp.  Leland could hear the wine gurgle as it was poured.

“Ramey.  I need to see you, now.”

“And I don’t see what good I could do for you there, now,” Ramey spit it out like a mad cat.  “It’s all over now!  It’s too late.  I’ve been deflowered.  I just hope that monster didn’t give me some kind of disease.”

“Ramey, you get your ass in here right now, or I’m coming out there.”

“You know, where was the Law when I came to you?”  Ramey hissed.  “Huh?  You couldn’t be bothered.  You had pressing business. ..”

“How do you know Nancy Loomis, Ramey?”  Leland growled.

“What does it matter?  It’s too late now.  I’m dead!”

“What?”

“You heard me.  The monster beat me.  God my jaw hurts.  Then cut my head open, and pulled my brains out, and cut my head off…”  Ramey cried shrilly.  Then Leland heard the gurgle of more wine.

“How do you know all that?  ….   Ramey?  Are you there?!”

“Yes.  So I’m just sitting here, curled up here, now, on my pillow … (gurgle)…ing this wine!”  Ramey sighed.  “And not going anywhere!  Because let me tell you, I feel as if I’d been raked over the coals.  I feel humiliated, and abused, and horribly battered, and sore all…  (gurgle)  …and frankly,” Ramey whispered in a low voice, “pissed as all Hell! I think, Leland,” his voice slowly rose.

“And I’m the only male nearby,” Ramey whispered.

Leland said…   “What?”

“ I’m really worried.  Perhaps you could come out here, Leland.  Because I’m really worried.  She’s saying terrible things, and swearing…”

“You’re both there, at the house?”

I’m not going anywhere,” Ramey whined.

Leland didn’t know what to say.

“I’ll get there as soon as I can, Ramey,” Leland promised.  He didn’t know whether to whisper or shout.  So he did both, repeating himself twice.

Leland left the office, after leaving instructions with Ruth to Call Doc Chatham and have him patched to the patrol car.  Then Leland hit the lights on the squad car and with sirens screaming headed out of town.  Three miles out, he ran out of gas.

“That damned Ruth!”  Leland beat on the wheel.  The patrol car was stopped by the side of the road, in the midst of nowhere, lights flashing.

Leland got out.  As he stood there, he noticed what looked to be two guys approaching slowly in a faded pickup streaked with manure.  Leland unsnapped his holster, as the pickup rattled to a stop there in the road beside.

“You got a problem there, Shair-eef?”

As it had approached, Leland realized it was just Bob Weeds with his Great Dane, ‘Vomit’, who always rode sidekick.  Bob Weeds spit a slurry of tobacco juice out the window and smiled.

“No problem,” Leland replied.

“Cause a lot of us was wonderin’ whether or not you had made any progress on thet headless murder a week or so back, and hadn’t heard anything.  Some of us was thinkin’, maybe you’d run out of gas.”  Bob nodded at the can of gas.  He looked about to laugh, but bit it off with a glance from Leland.

Leland stepped around the truck, invading  Bob’s territory, and smacked the hood as he passed, smiling broadly.   Bob jumped.  Vomit started barking.

“Shut up!  Vomit.  Damn it, would you shut up!!”

“Well, we just about got the head and neck connected Bob.”  Leland drilled Bob Weeds with his eyes, staring in the window.

“That’s good.”  Bob nodded.  “That’s a start I guess.”

“Yes it is, Bob.”  Sheriff Leland agreed.

They did the stare down.  Finally, Bob was the one to blink.

“Uh, so good.  Good,” Bob said gruffly.

“And we’re looking to having more definitive developments to report in the next few days.”  Leland had to shout this latter while staring directly into Bob Weeds eyes, which had followed him nervously as Leland has strode around the hood of the pickup.

“Shut up! Vomit.  Would ya shut up!!”  It took Bob Weeds some doing to quiet his dog..

“Well, that’s good.  That’s real good…”  Bob mumbled as he turned his glance back to the roadway and put the truck into gear.  “So we’ll be seeing you now, Sheriff.”

Leland gave him a pleasant, nothing’s wrong, how are you doing neighbor wave – and Burt Weeds drove on.  Then Leland started filling his tank with the spare 5 gallons he kept for stranded roadside motorists.

This was a bit of puzzling behavior for Bob Weeds to be exhibiting, Leland considered.   He usually just slumped around with his head down doing whatever a hen-pecked dairy farmer did around here for a life and a livelihood.   With few friends but a long family history in the valley, everyone knew who Bob Weeds was.   There wasn’t much more to it than that, usually.  But it struck Leland now that he was acting downright cocky.  Downright cocky was what usually proceeded downright arrested.

‘Which really doesn’t  fit Bob Weeds’, Leland thought as he replaced the gas caps.

Photo by Carl Nelson

Murders in Progress…

October 25, 2012

Nancy Gillis

(Episode 10)

 

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

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

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

The boy immediately raised his hand.

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

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

 

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

“Thanks Ruth,” Leland said.

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

Ruth gave him a look.

“Please,” Leland added.

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

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

Burt nodded.

 

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

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

“Okay,” Leland said.

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

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

“What’s your last name?”  He asked.

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

“Okay.  What’s both your names?”

“Nancy Gillis,” the girl replied.

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

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

Leland mumbled.

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

Photo by Tin Tin Nelson


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