Posts Tagged ‘murder investigation’

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

June 22, 2013

Exploding Building1

Don’t Wait for the Movie!

(Episode 57)

            “Well,” Ruth drawled, in her best hard boiled detective’s voice.  (Ruth would come to believe that she had been the first make this remark upon Ramey flattening their cook/suspect with a shovel.)  “That’s a positive ID.”

“I’d say so,” Leland agreed, removing the cuffs from his belt and placing them on his new prisoner.

“Honest Leland, I didn’t do it!  I did not do this!”  Ramey cried.

“We’ve figured that Ramey,” Ruth consoled him.

“It was this woman in my head,” Ramey insisted, pointing to his head, then pounding it on the wall.  “She’s obsessed.  She is just obsessed!  And she’s violent.”

“Yeah.”  Leland nodded, pulled Ramey back from the wall, and grunted as he hefted Stan’s bulk upwards so as to get him back into the cell.  “My guess is that she figured if she just out and identified our suspect, she’d never get as good a whack at him.”

Ruth nodded.

“I don’t trust myself around him at all,” Ramey admitted, backing away.

They’d just about got the unconscious Stan back into the cell when Ruth sniffed and said, “Do you smell something Leland?”

Leland hadn’t.

“That’s natural gas.  I mean the kind we use in homes.”

Leland stopped lifting Stan and sniffed.  He nodded.  Then he sniffed closer to the floor, as did Ruth.

“It’s collecting down here,” he said.

“There’s some kind of a gas leak,” Ruth agreed.

“Kimmel doesn’t have gas service,” Leland said.

Leland’s lips traced a grim line.  “Ramey,” he said.  “Help me get this prisoner into the squad car.  And Ruth, call 911 about a possible gas leak, but warn them it could be an explosive device.   Then I want you to drive you all up to Ramey’s house and I’ll call Agent Hailey and route her your way.”

Ruth nodded, and ran to make the call.  But Leland blocked her path, sending her out the back.  “On your cell, outside!” Leland said.  “We don’t want sparks.”

Ruth shook her head, and waved her arms, as if to say, “of course!  I don’t know what I was thinking,” and nodded.

Ramey overcame his reluctance to lift the prisoner – in fact, gripping him so hard around the neck that his knuckles went white, and the prisoners face went blue.  Leland had to pull Ramey off and send him down to the prisoner’s feet to lift.

Finally Leland and Ramey got the prisoner into the back of the Sheriff’s car.  Meanwhile, Ruth made the call and got in behind the wheel.  They couldn’t talk Nancy in until finally, Leland snatched her notebook and tossed it into the car, and Ruth hit the door locks.  Then Leland smacked the fender.  “Okay, now git!”

“What are you going to do?”  Ruth asked with concern.

“I’m going out front to clear the street,” Leland said.

Ruth nodded , then squirreled away, in a spiraling cloud of gravel and dust.   ‘Without the sirens and lights, please!’ Leland thought, but didn’t bother to shout after her knowing it would do as little good.   He was already running through the jail and out the front onto Main Street.  It was morning with its usual smattering of locals, mixed in with bunches of tourists in shorts and flowered tops.

Within a few minutes Leland had recruited a few of the more responsible townspeople he knew, and had gotten the area fairly well cleared.  He was feeling fairly good as the crowds were staying well back of the police tape barrier they’d quickly strung.  And the gas service and emergency bomb squad was on its way, though all of that would take at least an hour.

Leland was just thinking this when a van load of Japanese tourists turned the corner, heading the wrong way up the one way Main street, driving right through the police tape and smiling with cell cameras extended out the windows.  Leland stepped to turn them around, just as the Sheriff’s office exploded with a blast so powerful it rolled the van completely over on its side and then back again onto its wheels, which were racing by this time, taking the van right through the front window of Kramer’s Mercantile.   Leland, himself, was thrown several yards backwards by the blast.  When he awoke, in what seemed like hours, later, the first thing he noticed was that the star on his shirt front was tarnished, as if it had been burnished by fire.  And as he absently licked his index finger to scrub it a little, he smelt the smell of his burnt fingers and hair.  Then he heard the screaming in Japanese.  It was all quite disorienting.  Then, pretty soon, there were all the reporters and even several cameras staring at him.

END of PART ONE: Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

 

PART TWO:  The Cognitive Web also by Eldon Cene is coming soon to a dedicated serial fiction blogspot near you.  Watch for web directions!

Photo lifted from Google Images

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Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

June 2, 2013

Chipmunk in wild3

Things Get Squirrely

(Episode 53)

 Agent Hailey arrived about the time things got going.

More chairs had been set out.  Most of the Everlees and their friends and relations had arrived and gotten their drinks and snacks.  From the silence it sounded as though Ralph Bunch had gotten the microphone feedback solved.  Behind the microphone, hung in the place of honor and covered in black velvet, was the commissioned painting.

“George Everlees prize Guernsey won the Kimmel County Milkers Association Producer of the Year Award, and has done this three years running,” Leland told Agent Hailey.  “She’s quite a woman.”

“I’d imagine.”  Agent Hailey laughed.

“So they’ve had her portrait commissioned.  The Association is thinking of having this done for each of the yearly winners, to be hung in a place as yet to be determined.  So this reception is a big night for Ralph.  That might be why he appears so nervous.”

“Or it could be that he’s always been a screw-up and a loser,” Leland’s sour new acquaintance to the right said.

“Excuse me a moment,” Leland told Agent Bailey.

Leland leaned to his right.  “You’re going to walk to the restroom and stay there until you think you can sit here with your mouth shut for the rest of the evening – or I’m going to hit you in the ribs so hard with my elbow here that you’ll see spots,” Leland told his new acquaintance.

“I can keep my mouth shut,” the man said.

“Okay.”

Leland nodded towards where Ralph was chewing peanuts, and then, as if in a fit of rage, smashing the shells.  He looked as if he were trying not to eat more, first pushing the bowl of peanuts away – then pulling it back.  He appeared quite conflicted.  “He doesn’t look quite himself tonight,” he noted to Agent Hailey.  “But then, Ralph is an odd duck.  I think I’ll go up and have a chat with him, just to be sure everything is alright.”  He smiled at Agent Hailey and excused himself.  “And don’t you even glance at her,” Leland said to the man on his right as he left.  The man’s head snapped forward.

Leland walked up to where Ralph was seated.  “Ralph, how’re you doing?”  Leland asked, reaching to take a peanut from the bowl.

“Don’t touch those.”  Ralph pulled them away.

Leland thought Ralph was joking with him and reached again.

Ralph’s head shot forward and Leland jerked his hand back instinctively.  It looked like Ralph had tried to bite him!

“What the hell, Ralph?”  Leland laughed.

“Don’t touch my fucking nuts!”

“Okay,” Leland said with some levity.  “I’ll leave your junk alone.”

Ralph just stood there looking at Leland, as if Leland were a wild animal he didn’t understand.  Leland didn’t know what was going on.  “You pretty nervous, huh?  This time around, about the show?”

Ralph seemed to break down, almost in tears.

“Oh Leland, you don’t know.  My career is over.  My life is probably ended.”  Ralph grabbed at Leland’s hand like a lifeline.

This seemed more like the overly sensitive Ralph that Leland knew.  Leland sat down.  He nodded to Agent Hailey to indicate that this might take a moment.

“I can’t paint anymore!”  Ralph said in hushed tones.

Leland furrowed his brows.

“All it seems I can do is to chew and harbor nuts, like a squirrel.”  Ralph sputtered with wide eyes.

Leland reached unconsciously for another peanut as he listened.  And Ralph flew at his arm with his teeth.

“Shit!”  Leland said, shoving Ralph off.  There was drool left on his shirt.  Ralph’s teeth probably would have broken the skin if it hadn’t been for the tough fabric.  “What the hell?”

“I can’t control it!”  Ralph cried leaning back, eyes wide.  “I tried to warn you.”

“Control what?”

“I don’t know.  The mind, I think, of the chipmunk.”  Ralph was focused far off on some thought.  “He’s so….   feral.”

Leland was at a complete loss.  Finally Leland decided Ralph had been better left alone.

Leland walked back to the bar.  Agent Hailey asked, “What’s wrong with him?”

“I don’t know,” Leland said.  “I hope it’s not rabies.  He was going on about some chipmunk.”

“This might not have been the best night for you to have attended.  But I feel now, like I’d better stay and watch over things,” Leland added.  “You want to go?”

“No.”  Agent Hailey smiled.  “I think I can handle a chipmunk.”

“It sounds like Ralph can’t.”  Leland frowned.

Finally, it came time for the ceremony to begin.

PhotoArt by Carl Nelson

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

May 24, 2013
Above the Campaign Cafe Bar.

Above the Campaign Cafe Bar.

Poetry Night

(Episode 52)

 Leland saw that the crowd was beginning to move into the back room.  So he paid their tab and while Agent Hailey went to ‘freshen up’, he told her he’d step into the bar and grab them some good stools.

Actually, the back room was larger than your normal bar.  This was because it was sometimes used to host dances and meetings.  Varnished wood lined the room.  There were hard liquor signs.  (Carmella said Peter felt neon beer signs were ‘cheap’, ‘looked rural’, and ‘lacked class’.)  There was a small stage also.  And that’s where Ralph was nervously toying with the amped microphone – with the usual “Test, test, testing…” and squeals.  Some folding chairs had been set up.

Above, and around, the bar there were the usual stuffed heads of the critters shot around the area, not excluding that of a pig and a Guernsey cow.  Those usually got a chuckle from whatever tourist happened by, and usually the extra drink order as the tourists discussed the stuffed heads and Kimmel further.

Leland saw two free seats and grabbed them, sitting in the one nearest a short, stocky fireplug of a guy finishing a shot of liquor.  They guy gave him no notice but immediately ordered another.  He looked up when it arrived and the bright bar light must have immediately initiated a sneeze…

“Oh fuck, oh goddamn, oh goddamn,” the man cried as he inhaled, and then,  “Fuuuuuuuckkkkkkk!”  As he sneezed, wincing and tearing up with the pain.  “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!”  He exclaimed gripping the bar till his pain ebbed.  “Shit,” he said, seeing that his whiskey had spilled.

“Gesundheit,” Leland offered, head turned.

“And fuck your gesundheit, too,” the man snarled, not glancing back.

Leland considered this, then nodded, and resumed his thoughts regarding Agent Hailey.  ‘Suzanne’, she had said.  Leland smiled.

Somewhere between the beer bubbles, Suzanne and he were in the tropics.  Leland’s fruity drink was ice cold.   A gently breeze played with Suzanne’s hair.  They were lying back on identical blue chaise loungers staring out at the sea with their weapons lying on the cabana table between them, cleaned and ready for use.

“You’re the Sheriff, aren’t you,” the fireplug demanded of the bar mirror.

Leland considered this.  In his pleasant thoughts both of them were reaching as if in synchronous motion for their weapons with a quick, clean sweep of their arms.

“Well, either you are, or you aren’t.”  The man shook his head with disgust.

Leland spoke back to the mirror.  “I’m guessing someone broke your ribs, by the way you reacted to that sneeze.  I’ve experienced a couple broken ribs myself, so I know what that feels like.  And I’m guessing you didn’t get kicked by a cow, since you don’t smell like manure and you’re pissed off.   Most people with their ribs broken and that are pissed off and aren’t yelling at a cow are talking to a Sheriff  because they had them broken by someone else, another human, because no one has ever asked me to arrest a cow.”  Leland sized the fellow up.  Aside from the spark plug tattoo on his arm, which Leland liked, he couldn’t say he cared for the fellow much.  The guy just made an awful first impression and Leland wouldn’t have minded giving him a jab in the ribcage himself.  “But this is just from my experience as your Sheriff.  I am assuming you’re from here.  How am I doing?”  Leland asked the mirror.

The man turned to face Leland.   “Nobody told me our Sheriff was a smartass.”

“That’s good to hear.” Leland nodded.  “What’s on your mind?”

“You’ve got a psycho loose in your town, in case you don’t know it.”

“I’d say that’s pretty much common knowledge.”  Leland nodded.

“I don’t mean that psycho.  I mean this psycho.”  The man pointed at his ribs.

“You’ve still got your head?”  Leland asked.

“Just barely!”  The man exclaimed.  “The guy had his knife out.”

“Uh?”  Leland became a little more interested.

“Yeah.  …Uh!”  The man acted as if Leland couldn’t hear.  Leland leaned back.  “Then that psycho shut his eyes, made a deep sigh – as if trying to restrain himself – and put it away.  I tell you.  I thought I was a goner.  I thought I was about to be dissected.  …Oh shit!”  The man exclaimed, thinking to stifle another sneeze.  But it was a false alarm.

“Where did this happen?” Leland asked, moving his beer so that the man wouldn’t sneeze into it.

“Right in back.  Here!”  The man had a way of phrasing everything as if the person he was speaking to were an idiot.

“In back of the restaurant?”

“You’re kind of slow aren’t you?  Yeah!  Right in back here, in back of the restaurant.”

“What were you doing back there?”

“What was I doing back there?  I’m the cook, for Godsakes!  Who do you think prepares your damned food?”

Leland just nodded.  “Okay.  I see.”  Leland smiled.  “It’s just that I’m really surprised someone would want to hurt someone as pleasant as yourself.  How did this come about?”  Leland folded his hands, all ears.

The man regarded Leland.

“You don’t give a fuck, do you?”  The man said loudly enough so that others turned.

“No,” Leland replied softly with an edge to his voice.  “Actually, I’m beginning to give it a real personal concern!”  He made as if to rearrange the man’s coat on the back of his chair with his right hand, while manipulating the man’s broken ribs with two stiff fingers of his left.

“Oooooh fuck, fuck, fuckkkkkkkk!”   The man squinted and cried, real tears.

People were turned and looking.  Leland put his arm even more protectively around the man’s shoulder, and spoke softly, as if consoling the man beneath the bar noise while handing him a paper napkin.  Leland smiled at the other patrons.

“Look,” Leland said quietly. “One of the rules of being a small town Sheriff is that if I take shit from any one, then I’m not the alpha dog.  And I have to be the alpha dog.   Otherwise, the whole social fabric is torn.  Do you understand this?”  Leland screwed his left index and middle finger into the man’s ribs.  “Total chaos ensues.”

“Yeeeessss!”  The man cried.

Leland patted him on the back.  “You’re a reasonable man.”

The man rose to leave.  Leland restrained him.

“There’s more,” Leland said, setting him back down.

Leland waited.  The man nodded.

“Now I’m going to ask you a few questions, and you’re going to give me clear answers.  Okay?”

“Okay.”

Leland asked.

The man replied.  “He’s another cook here!  I stepped out to take a break, and saw him sitting there.  I told him to get back to work.  He told me he didn’t want to.  So I got in his face a little.”

Leland nodded.  “And what happened then?”

“He…”  The man struggled with his hands to describe it.  “…had me on my back with my ribs stomped in before I could whistle.  I never even seen it coming.  The man’s as fast as shit.  And then, I was looking up at him with his knife out.”

“Okay,” Leland said.  “And then?”

“Then he decides to go back inside and continue cooking.  That’s it.  I picked myself up, and took the day off.  I went home.”

“So you run the kitchen?”

“Not anymore.” The man nodded to where another man was standing.  “HE does.”

Leland glanced that way.  “What do the others have to say about this?  It sounds like he’s new.”

“He is,” the man spoke into the bar mirror.  “That is, he was the newest, up until a while ago.  But no one says a word against him.  All that fella has to do is to mumble, at any of them, and the shit dribbles right outta their pants legs.”  The man asked for another shot.

Leland considered this.  “What about Carmella?”  He asked.  “I can’t see Carmella putting up with that.”

The man looked at Leland like he was hopeless.

“He’s the one who’s knocking her!”  The man replied.  “You can’t hear it?!  He regarded Leland with scorn.  “Are you deaf?”  He shook his head.

“I had my secretary close the window,” Leland replied.

“Yeah, I’d guess.”  The fellow replied, sullenly.  “You hear one of Carmella’s screams, I suppose you’d heard them all.  It can really grate on you, you know?  Especially when you’re trying to plan the next weeks work schedule.”

Leland regarded his beer for a while.  He had some more questions he could ask.  But frankly, he didn’t want to talk with the fellow any longer.  So he took his arm from around the man’s shoulders.  “You can go now.”  He nodded.

“Go.  Why do I have to go?  I’m staying right here.”

Leland gave him a look, and had to shake his head again at the man’s contrary obtuseness.

“You want to press charges?”  Leland asked, looking again at the fellow the man had indicated.

“Yeah!  After he’s dead and buried.”  The man laughed, speaking all this into the mirror and refusing to glance at the man again.   “At least six feet down and two weeks after.”

Leland sat ruminating on this.  And while he set there, the man didn’t leave.

“I guess this makes us friends now, then,” Leland said, seeing as how the fellow hadn’t left.

“I don’t have any friends,” the man replied.

“Okay,” Leland said, regarding his beer.  “That sounds about right.”

“Allies then,” Leland said, mulling it over.

Picture taken 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 29, 2013

dental image

The Dental Beat

(Episode 36)

Nancy Gillis was just in emotional overload.  First, she had been scared to death.  Then, she had witnessed firsthand the two killings.

People arrived.  They discussed events with the Sheriff and Agent Hailey.  A perimeter ribbon was stretched around the scene.   Photos were taken.  Evidence was packaged.  Bodies were examined and then carted off in the Vern Smith’s portable slaughterhouse.   Her dad was called but couldn’t be found.  For quite a while, it was as if she were floating above herself witnessing it all from a soundless stage or as if peering from out of a fishbowl.

Back at the jail, meals were ordered from the Campaign Café across the street.  Nancy ordered another burger, though she didn’t have much urge to eat.  It’s just that if she made herself speak up a bit, then she found the adults left her alone.  So she ordered her preference and answered their questions.  She described what she had done and how she had come to be where she was.

“Chasing the story.”  Sheriff Leland shook his head.  “You are one resolute little woman, I’ll say that,” he grumbled.  “I’ll also say…  No, I won’t.  I won’t say anything more that I might find myself ashamed of saying later.  But… damn!”  He turned away from Nancy vexed.  “I’ll tell you what,” he said turning back.  “Why don’t we put you in here in the cell with Ramey, while we’re waiting for your dad to show, so’s you don’t get into any more trouble.  At least over the next hour or so.  How would that be?”

“Fine,” Nancy replied softly and contritely.

“Okay.  Good,” Sheriff Leland replied, and ushered her off with a wave of his hand towards Ruth.

Nancy followed Ruth into the back cell, which she found was also holding Dr. Ramey Evans, their town dentist – although ‘holding’ wasn’t quite the word, as the cell door was left unlocked as any room in a house.  She looked at Dr. Evans again.  At least she thought it was him.  Though it could as well be some dangerous maniac, or just a simple lunatic; he was dressed in woman’s clothes and wearing make-up.   Nancy sat thinking.  She glanced at Dr. Ramey again.  Finally, she screwed up her courage enough to beg the answer.  “Doctor Ramey?  Is that you?”  She leaned forward to better peer past his rouge and eyeliner.

“Yeah,” Ramey said.  He looked pretty dejected, like the Cowardly Lion or something.  “Who did you think I was?”

“Well…  Nobody else,” Nancy lied.

“It’s not like it looks or what you might think,” Ramey sighed.  “I just wear this,” he nodded his head to the side, “to keep ‘her’ happy.”  Ramey tossed his head to the side.

Nancy wondered who Dr. Ramey was speaking of.

Nancy nodded, and stared ahead for a while, thinking.  Then, she began to go back through her notes, filled in a few things, and asked Ramey what a few of the words she’d overheard meant.  Until it struck her that there was another story here.  After all, the town’s dentist disappears for several weeks and then he’s found cooped up in the Sheriff’s jail?   That’s news! isn’t it? as Nancy saw it.

Her classmate Cynthia Baker had had a toothache and had to be driven all the way to Toone’s Corners to get it fixed.  Missed a whole day of school.  She told Dr. Ramey that.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

And then she knew a lot of people were upset about their dentist dodging out on them, also.  After all, to get to another dentist required driving a long way out of their way.   Around town the feeling was that it was very ‘unprofessional’  of dentist Ramey to just disappear.

“I couldn’t agree more.”  He stared at her with his palms open.

But, it hadn’t seemed as though there was much anybody could do about it.  Even Ramey, it now appeared.

“Right now I’m not in very much control of my life.”  He nodded.

Both he and Nancy looked around the jail.

‘Here, Dr. Ramey was, hidden out in the County Jail – for reasons she wasn’t aware of – and no one, outside of the Sheriff, knew.’  She felt the giddy uneasiness of another imagined scoop rising up.

“Is it a crime to dress up as someone of the opposite sex?”  She asked.

“Not that I know of,” Ramey replied.  “But here I am.”  Ramey pointed a long lavender fingernail out towards where Sheriff Leland paced.  “You might ask him.”

“Maybe not now, though.”  Nancy nodded.

Nancy fished inside her backpack and brought out her camera and pocket recorder.  Now was as good a time as any to begin an interview.  “You mind if I take a photo? “  She hoped there was enough battery left to run the flash.

Ramey threw his hands up in front of his face.

‘And what is this?  Some kind of (fertility) mural all around us?’  Nancy drew her head back to better focus on the walls and ceiling behind Ramey.

Photo taken from 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


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