Posts Tagged ‘rural crime’

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

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 24, 2013

ID Card4

Screening More Pig Shit for Clues

(Episode 43)

 

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

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

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

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

            “You mean, besides Bob?”

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

            “Yeah, but just recently.”

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            Bill Porter nodded soberly.

            Merlin halted and turned.

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

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

            “Is there any other kind?”  Merlin chuckled.

            Leland frowned.

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

            “It can’t be ruled out.”

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

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

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

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

Photos from Google Images

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

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

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

Pigs6

“There’s Gold in That There Hog Pen!”

(Episode 42)

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

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

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

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

“Call me Bill.”

“…Bill.  And he showed me something.”

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

Leland looked at it.  Bill Porter handed it over.

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

“Must have been,” Leland agreed, smiling.

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

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

“Sure, Sheriff.  No problem.”

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

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

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

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

“Don’t know.  Maybe something.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ramey?  Is that you?”  Leland asked.

“Yes.”

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

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

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

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

“Okay.  How about Harriet?”

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

“Thanks Ramey.”  Leland clicked off.

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

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

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

Merlin nodded thoughtfully.

Photo by Google Images

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

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

January 11, 2013

Forearm Bar Mark

Back on the Farm, Continued.

(Episode 22)

(When we last heard from Harriet, she said:

            “If any of them come sniffin’ around here, what am I supposed to say?”  Harriet dipped the gun at Stan demanding an answer. )

 

“I really don’t like telling other people what to do,” Stan replied.  When Harriet just kept looking at him, he added:  “They oftentimes won’t do what I say anyway.  Or they can’t understand.  Or they get it wrong.  Or they just ignore me!”  Stan’s demeanor changed.  His voice rose.   However, in a moment, had had calmed himself.  “…Or they misunderstand.  Or they just don’t have the wherewithal to bring it off.  Or they’re just damned lazy.  And mostly, it’s just a real bother and a waste of my time.”

“You kill people.  Isn’t that like telling them what to do?”  Harriet lifted the gun barrel.

“No.  That’s like telling them to stop.”

Stan took a long pull from his cigarette and then put it out, right there on the table.

Bob was surprised as hell it didn’t get him shot.  Especially when he looked right up at Harriet while grinding it out.  That little whisp of smoke which marked its extinction, Bob fully expected to match Stan’s extinction.  ‘Shit,’ he was married to her, and he wouldn’t have tried that.

“If I hadn’t just asked you a question and was expecting an answer, Mr. Cool-as-a-Cucumber.   I would blow that grin right through your face,” Harriet growled.  “That, plus, I am trying to understand the charm you hold and can sway over this dimwitted husband of mine.”

“Now Harriet…  Ya got the gun.  Do you have to provoke people likewise?”  Bob protested.

“Shut up!”

“Apparently I do,” Harriet barked.

“I’ll take that as a good thing.”  Stan nodded.

“You kin take it anyway you damn want,” Harriet retorted.  “But before I blow you right outta that chair there, I wanna know – just outta curiosity, and maybe for a good laugh – just what your idea about what your further plans here might be?”

“Further plans? ” Stan laughed at the gun.  But Stan was watching Harriet’s eyes.

“You know, I don’t believe I’ve ever noticed a man studying my eyes so thoughtful like before?  Perhaps I shoulda started out my female career pointing a gun at more men.”  Harriet glanced at Bob.

“A sure attention-getter.  I’ll give you that,” Bob admitted.

“And then you can shut the hell up! again,” Harriet repeated.  “Now what is it?  What are your plans here?

The hired man, Stan, took his time, wiped his mouth with the paper napkin.  He took the soiled napkin and gathered up the squashed cigarette and ashes into it, folded the bundle, and placed it neatly to the side.  He smiled at Harriet.  Harriet smiled back, and checked to make sure the safety was off.  Stan nodded.

“You know, this idea that you think hard about what you want to become in life, and then study to become it, and then you go out and find a way to make a living doing it, and then you either succeed or fail in the attempt for the most part – isn’t really how it works.”

Harriet raised her brows.   “So how did it work?  Let’s say, I’m curious.”

Stan’s brows furrowed, as if he were annoyed a bit at being interrupted.

“What more often happens is that you are doing something – which you think is going to make things the way you want them, more or less – when something happens, something comes along, usually completely out of the blue, and you have to make a choice.  And then that choice decides what you’re actually going to do with your life.  And after that, you really haven’t a lot of say about it.  Excepting maybe, how long you intend to continue.”

Harriet nodded.  And Bob nodded, as he relished his pork chop.  Bob was getting kind of lulled by Stan’s soft words and unconsciously had begun to relish his unfinished meal.  Bob reached for his fork.

“And don’t you move another inch.”  Harriet swiveled with the gun towards Bob.  “And also, shut up!”

“I didn’t say a thing!”  Bob jerked his paw back quick as a puppy could.

“I am just reminding you.”

“So what happened to me was,” Stan continued in a soft voice.  So soft in fact that each of Harriet and Bob had to lean closer to hear.  “I had a run in with the Federal Government.”  Stan rolled up his left sleeve and turned his arm palms up to reveal a bar code molded in somehow to the underarm skin of his left forearm.

Bob leaned in.  And Harriet appeared almost to have forgotten the gun, resting it on the table as she leaned over closer to have a good look, too.  And for a time the two of them just looked on the seamless skin patch of Stan’s with wonder.

“Why that looks just like something on the side of a package of Wonder Bread,” Bob said, poking it.  Harriet nodded.

“How much does something like that cost?”  Bob asked, with some admiration.

“Shut up!!!”  Harriet barked, emphasizing this by slamming the gun on the table.

Stan looked at the embedded tattoo of sorts somewhat wistfully with the regard of a old veteran for a platoon logo.   Bob moved his lips while mumbling the numbers printed up the side.  Harriet seemed to be the only one who registered that this was suddenly turning very strange.

“Who are you?”  Harriet said.

Photo by Carl Nelson

Murders in Progress… by Eldon Cene

December 9, 2012
And finally:  Let's Give It Up for the Lone Star State!

And finally: Let’s Give It Up for the Lone Star State!

(Pin-up in Sheriff Leland’s back room, which was replaced by the White Board)

Whiteboard

(Episode 19)

             A week had passed.  They had identified the first murder victim as Clarisse Clemens, another newbie to the area, which explained why no one had appeared to claim her body (parts).  Also, she had a rap sheet.  Apparently at one time she had also worked as a prostitute and a bunko artist.  Neither one very successfully it appeared, because she was found way out here and missing her head with a total of $19.37 and a six pack of condoms in her pocketbook.  Agent Hailey had retrieved a lot more information about her from their forensics team, which Agent Curtis wanted her to postpone sharing until he could be present at the meeting.  Presently he was in the city preparing to move against Benny Green and his operation, and he wanted to keep his ‘operational status’ clear for that, before entangling himself in that ‘rural muck’ portion of the investigation once again.  “Besides,” he said over the phone, “that’s what I have Agent Hailey there for.  I assume you two are working together okay?”

“Yes, we’re doing fine,” Leland replied.  “She’s very capable.  There’s no need to rush for that reason.  Although I would like a look at those findings as soon as possible, the pressure in a small community to find the perpetrator being what it is,” Leland said.

“I’ll be there as soon as I can,” Agent Curtis replied curtly.  “But I have to let you know, Benny Green is still my top suspect.”

“We’ll see you when you get here,” Leland replied and hung up.

“You’ve got all the forensics?” Leland asked.

“Faxed this morning,” Agent Hailey replied.

“Thanks,” Leland replied.  If Agent Curtis knew the kind of end run Agent Hailey and he were perpetrating, he might have to re-consider who was pimping who.  As it stood now, Leland had an inside to the full resources of the FBI through Agent Hailey.  And Agent Hailey had a full run of the investigation through him.  And “all there is left now is marriage,” Leland smiled, happy with how this was all playing out.

“Is that a proposal?”

Agent Hailey had softened quite a bit under Leland’s professional wooing, and was becoming a real part of the team.  ‘…of two’, Leland considered happily.  It was like every day was another date with his dream law enforcer.  He had never been so happy chasing a murderer.

“I have my tux pressed,” Leland bantered.

Agent Hailey sobered.

“Maybe we’d better go over that new evidence and tape it up,” Leland said.

As her gift to the operation, Agent Hailey had brought in a large whiteboard with tape, yarn and marking pens… where they were doing some mind mapping of the crime.  Ruth was impressed.  “Never saw me do this to chase down a missing cow, now did you?”  Leland grinned.

Ruth smiled.  Ruth was happy when Sheriff Leland was happy.  And currently, he was chasing down this cruel, ruthless, absolutely amoral serial murderer with his shoes two feet off the ground like a love struck schoolboy.  She just hoped he didn’t become too addled by infatuation and kept his wits about him.  About Agent Hailey, she still hadn’t made up her mind.

“You see this latest news?  It’s that ‘in-depth’ interview that schoolgirl Nancy Gillis did of you coming back on the bus from the crime scene, and written up for the Kimmel High Wolverine.”  Ruth dropped a massive newspaper upon Leland’s desk.

Leland’s mind was on the whiteboard, but he turned when he heard the ‘thump!’.  “The Kimmel County Wolverine puts out a paper that big?”

Ruth shook her head.  “It was picked up by the New York Times!” Ruth said deadpan.

Leland and Agent Hailey both stared as Ruth placed the front page of the New York Times neatly where they could see the picture and headline, just below the fold.

The photo, taken in provocative shadow, was of “Sheriff Leland Kelly, Kimmel County Sheriff, oiling and reassembling his 45 caliber Colt Anaconda behind the partly open blinds of his front office.”

The headline read:

 

“They Pursue Serial Killers Differently in Kimmel County”

 

            Ruth gave Leland the sober eye.

            “Ooooh shit,” Leland whistled.

Photo by Carl Nelson

Murders in Progress… by Eldon Cene

December 7, 2012

Elderly Woman Working Jigsaw Puzzle3

Ramey Gets Interrogated

(Episode 17)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Then how could he have known her name.”

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

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

Less impossible…”

“Not much.”

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

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

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

“We haven’t a warrant.”

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

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

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

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

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

He wasn’t raped.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Yeah.”  Ramey nodded.

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

Ramey rolled his eyes.

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

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

“Yes, I know this Ramey.”

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

“I know, Ramey.”

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

“I know, Ramey.  I know.”

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

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

Ramey nodded.

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

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

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

“Yeah.”

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

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

“I’ll do what I can Ramey.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I said, pluck…  PLUCK!”

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

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

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

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

“That sounds good.  That works for me.”

Leland nodded, and they began their interrogation.

Photo by Carl Nelson

Murders In Progress

September 29, 2012

Barn Birds

Cow Birds

(Episode 5)

‘Sound suppressor’…, Bob swished this around in his brain, taking another swig of cold beer.  That’s what the guys down at the gun shop had preferred to call them, but Bob didn’t know.  They were kinda nerdy and over-educated… one of ‘em wearin’ special glasses and glancing real close at things.  Ever since he’d been a kid glued to the TV it had been a  “Silencer”.

He supposed he had all afternoon to decide whichever: ‘Silencer or Sound Suppressor’.  Or longer than that.  He could take longer.  Sure he could.  He could take as long as he wanted.  ‘A guy with a Sound Suppressor is his own man,’ Bob figured as he shot another cow bird off the peak of his barn.

“This sound suppressor sure works.  Used to be with one shot, the birds  ‘ould spook, and he’d had to wait a coon’s age for another’n,” Bob said to his imaginary buddy in the empty lawn chair nearby.   “An’ then one more shot an that’n ‘ld spook!  It made for a long afternoon and a lotta beer.  But with this here sound suppressor,” he popped off another round after setting his beer carefully and sighting like a sniper, “they just fell of the peak of that roof like they was in a shootin’ gallery and he wuz takin’ all the stuffed teddy bears like they wuz just handin ‘em out.”  Bob grinned, so pleased with himself an’ full of beers, that he fully imagined his imaginary buddy grinning back.   ‘Damn!  I like this thing,’ Bob thought, ‘even though it don’t make no noise, to speak of.’  Harriet stuck her head out of the house to say something, and Bob pointed the gun at her… just in fun.  And she pulled her head back in.

And after about “Number 15” cow bird bit the dust, Bob decided that Sound Suppressor was what he was going to call it, ‘nerdy’ or not.   ‘It would make it sound more technical, like them boys down at the gun shop, and it might even impress Stan,’ thought Bob.  ‘Who could be mighty hard to impress, havin’ shot a bunch of people an’ all, an’ gotten away with it.  ..an’ probably raped several.’  Bob licked his lips… and felt that tingling in his groin.

‘Man, we is livin’ fast, ‘ thought Bob.  ‘Drinkin’ beer, killin’ cow birds, usin’ a silen… Sound Suppressor!’   Bob grinned wildly at his imaginary buddy again.

Ever since he had happened upon Stan his life had improved in so many ways, he could hardly sit still.   “A person wouldn’t normally think meeting a serial killer would have that effect on your life,” Bob explained to his imaginary buddy.   ‘But that seemed to be the way it was.  Nobody seemed to want Bob around for nothin’ nohow.  An’ now all of a sudden he’s got just about the most unusual friend ever.’  Bob shot another cowbird, (Number 16),  ‘leavin’ nothin’ but a puff of feathers.’  “Damn.”  Both Bob and his imaginary buddy just couldn’t get the shit eatin’ grins off of their faces.  They just kept looking at each other, turning away, and then looking back at each other again.

“There’s just the smallest whiff of a pop! an’ then thet cowbird was nothin’ but feathers,” is how Bob would explain it to Stan later, with his palms open to emphasize, after they’d finished eatin’ – with his silent wife keeping her own counsel – over the emptying dinner table dishes.  ‘Ya just couln’t get her excited over nothin’.’

‘Well, not entirely silent,’ Bob corrected himself, recollecting the event.

“You point that there gun there at me again, an’ you’re goin’ to encounter someone shootin’ BACK, Sound Suppressor or no,” Harriet had said with an angry twist of her head.  “An’ I won’t be aimin’ to miss.’

“You gonna take that from her?”  Stan said, once Harriet had stomped her way into the other room, carrying a load of dishes, after first spearing Stan with her gimlet eye.  Which gave Bob a little chill watching Stan.  Bob could tell Stan hadn’t liked it.

“Well.  Yeah.  I guess so,” Bob said.

“You gotta understan’ how marriages work.”  Bob defended himself to Stan later, trailing him up into the hired hand’s loft. “It’s a little give here, and a little give there that makes the whole thing work.”

Stan snorted, but never looked up from this plexi-glass case of curios and specimens ‘or somethin’ or other’ he seemed to prize so highly, ‘from the look of it,’ thought Bob.

“Plus, she’s a good cook and a good worker,” Bob added, while thumbing through some yellowed and stained bondage magazines, after several more minutes of rumination.  “Plus…”  Bob stopped turning the pages.  “The durn woman can shoot the nose off a squirrel!”

Stan glanced up, a quizzical look appearing on his face.

Photo by Carl Nelson

 

 

Murders in Progress

September 22, 2012

Editor’s Note:  Publishing editorials always awakens my urge to publish murders…  Here is episode 3, hot off the pen of Eldon Cene.

Cow Noir

(Paranoia & Guilt with a Rural Backdrop: Episode 3)

 

Stan knew that he had killed all of those women.  But how did the cows know?

It made him angry the way women could insinuate themselves into his most personal thoughts.  Nothing was sacred.  They had to look, and observe, and turn it over… ruminate over every LITTLE thing, from some little light-hearted comment, to an upturned gaze, to even a breath that was a just a SHADE deeper than the rest…  and it was like his mind was a picnic basket for them to rummage through!  He inhaled the last puff from his smoke, as he looked out across the shit speckled pasture he’d stopped to look out over to calm himself.  Bad choice!  Stan knew what perversities and abominations such a ruminating and placid demeanor could revel in revealing, and he hadn’t wanted any part of it.  But here they were everywhere…  F#$king cows!

He flicked his cigarette butt at the most condemning of them and the dumb old milker didn’t even budge.  ‘They deserve to be extinct!’  He thought.  He briefly considered killing them – and butchering them too.  But Bob’s wife wanted him to pick up some milk

He supposed he’d better.

Photo by Carl Nelson


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