Posts Tagged ‘rural noir’

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

July 3, 2013

Dear Readers!

2010-5-16 Lizzie-1-3

NOTICE:  Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene is continuing in Part Two as The Cognitive Web, and has been transferred to authonomy, a serial fiction website.  To find the next episode, go to:   http://authonomy.com/books/53824/the-cognitive-web/read-book/#chapter

See you there!

Best regards, ur Editor

Photo by Carl Nelson

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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

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

June 20, 2013

ID card5

A Positive ID

 (Episode 56)

 Stan really wanted inside the Kimmel jail.  Something itched, and as near as Stan could triangulate that fifty-odd year old weathered yellow jail was at the nub of it.  It was even interfering with his sex.  Something in that jail was a ‘scold’.  That was the best way he could phrase it, if he were to talk to someone about it, like a psychiatrist, which he wouldn’t.

Then, as luck would have it, Ruth called Carmella with her usual breakfast order that Sunday.   And apparently Stan’s Kandahar Omelet was a hit with the Sheriff.  Ruth asked, “Could you have the cook who makes that delicious chili-egg concoction bring it over himself?”            Or so this was the story.  When you’re wanted for rapes and serial murders, you really tend to look several times at any approach, especially when made by law enforcement.  On the other hand, it was true that Stan’s Kandahar Omelet had made a little culinary noise even in the sleepy town of Kimmel, Stan preened.  So it was with some unstaunched yearning that Stan laid each of the cooked bacon strips neatly on a paper towel, then cracked eggs and dropped them in the bacon grease to cook while he considered the request seriously.

Stan really felt he needed to have a look inside that jail.  Stan flipped the eggs.  And as the eggs bubbled in the bacon grease, Stan convinced himself by saying to himself, ‘Look.  If I were trying to sneak into that jail and thought up this scheme myself, wouldn’t I try it?’  Stan hoisted the eggs out, arranged the eggs on the plates with the bacon, toast and hash browns, decorated each with an orange slice and a sprig of parsley and placed them in the window just as Carmella passed to lift them away with a wink and a smile.

It was probably Carmella’s look that decided it.  Stan heaped up a fine, steaming dish, of what he liked to call his 12 Egg, Complete with Melted Gruyere Cheese, Kandahar Mortar, covered it with a checkered cloth, put on a clean and unspotted apron, and presented it and himself with a big pot of hot coffee at the jail promptly at 7 am early Monday.

After a few preemptory knocks, and the use of a password Ruth had concocted, the front door opened.  “Good morning, Ruth?   I’m Stan from across the way,” Stan said.  He made no move to enter.

“C’mon in, Stan from across the way.”  Ruth smiled.  “Boy, doesn’t that smell good,” she said, lifting a corner of the checkered cloth.   We all have saved our appetites.”  She gauged Stan as a slight frown flitted across her face.  “Just walk in there and the Sheriff will tell you where to set it.  And I’ll follow close behind.”  Stan noticed the young girl reporter from the café working at a computer.  He nodded.  Nancy appraised him, mentally taking notes.

Stan smiled his best as regular people did and stepped across the linoleum into  the Sheriff’s office.  “Breakfast?”  Leland smiled, looking up and examining Stan.  “Could you just set it on the bunk inside that jail cell just next to the one with the prisoner in it?”

Stan hesitated.  Leland raised his brows.

Stan nodded, passing into the jail proper.  Leland rose and followed behind, with Ruth following behind him.  “Is dressing like that illegal?”  Stan nodded as he passed Ramey, the transvestite, sitting sullenly on his bunk in the other cell.

“Ramey, what is it that happened to you?”  Leland asked.  But Ramey sat sullenly, staring at Stan, saying nothing.

“Cat’s probably got his tongue,” Leland said.

“You leave his cell door open all the time, like that?”  Stan asked.

“This is a converted jail.  It used to be a feed store.  There are no toilets in the cells.  So we have had to come to an understanding.  Isn’t that right Ramey?”  Leland showed a little irritation at Ramey’s sudden unwillingness to speak.

“He doesn’t talk much either, does he?”  Stan observed.

“Well, not at the moment, apparently.  Why don’t you just set the food down in there, and we can see if a little breakfast will lure some conversation out of him.”

Stan hesitated to walk into the cell.  “Go ahead,” Leland urged, hanging onto the swinging iron jail door.  “We’re right behind.  I’ve got my coffee cup ready.  And Ruth’s here with her fork and plate.”  Stan stared at them both.  Something didn’t feel right, ‘in a big way,’ he was thinking.

“What about that young girl?  She want some?”  Stan asked, back stepping.

“She’s already eaten.”  Leland blocked his path.

“Ramey, you’d better get over here, you don’t want to get left out.” Leland turned his head with some real irritation.   “Where the hell has Ramey gone?”

“I don’t know,” Ruth said, turning around herself.  “He was in there, just a moment ago.”

They both looked befuddled, Stan thought.  “You run kind of an odd jail here, Sheriff.”

“How so?”  The Sheriff replied.

“Well,” Stan had to laugh.  “Your prisoner just walked out the back door there.  A small girl is playing on your departmental computer.  And the cell here is painted like the waiting room in a bordello.”    And when this didn’t get a rise, he added.  “And still, you two are here, looking like you’re still gonna sit down to eat your breakfast without a qualm!”

“We are.”  Leland nodded.

“Don’t want it to get cold!”  Ruth smiled.

“He’ll be back,”  Leland said, settling himself.  Leland motioned with his cup.

Stan stood there in wonderment.  “Law enforcement sure is different in a small town,” he observed.

“Oh.  How so?”  Sheriff Leland smiled.  He looked inquisitive.  Ruth smiled, too.  “Yes.  How so?!”

Stan smiled.   “Let’s eat before it’s cold as Afghanistan,” he said finally.

Leland nodded.   Ruth nodded.  Everyone ate.

Stan was irritated.  They ate too slowly.  And their comments about his Kandahar Omelet struck him as perfunctory.   They might as well be having oatmeal.  And he couldn’t see or feel anything special about the jail – outside of the bizarre mural which covered the inside of the prisoner’s cell.  Stan asked about that, but neither the Sheriff nor his secretary seemed much interested in delving into it, other than to say that Ralph Bunch done it.  And Stan nodded, as he’d met Ralph Bunch.   “Kind of surprised there’s not a Chipmunk in it,” Stan joked.  But all it got was the Sheriff’s noncommittal, “How so?”

Their conversation seemed to pick up as Stan cleared the dishes and prepared to go.  But it was mostly about where Stan was from, his background, foreground, mid-ground, and about just about every other thing Stan didn’t feel the inclination to answer.  The whole morning was a bust as far as Stan could see.  And the prisoner still hadn’t returned, by the time breakfast was finished.  Which was just bizarre.  It wasn’t even a proper jail!   And Stan had become so irritated with the tepid reception to his meal, that his attentions had wandered and were festering in their own little pool.   So no one saw Ramey enter, passing in through the back door carrying a heavy shovel which he had hoisted over his shoulders like a baseball bat.

Leland had returned to his office.  Stan had just cleared the cell block.   And Ruth was leading the way out, when Ramey swung the shovel with all his strength, striking Stan at the base of his skull with a sharp “whang!”   Stan went down like a sack of onions.

Ruth turned and gasped.

Leland came running in, with Nancy not far behind.

Ramey dropped the shovel and backed away, looking at them with alarm.  “I didn’t do it.  I didn’t do it!”  He jumped, shivering with disgust.   Nancy wrote this down.

“I’d call that a positive I.D.”  Leland smiled at Ruth, nudging the blade of the shovel and then the skull of his suspected serial killer with a toe to see if he could ‘rouse him.

Nancy wrote this down.

Photo taken from Google Images

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

June 19, 2013

Drinker2

Aftermath

(Episode 55)

“I hope you haven’t paid that bastard anything yet,” George Everlee swore.

“Now dear, I think it’s best we don’t decide anything just yet.  Let’s go home.  Tomorrow’s another day.  We can talk more about it then, after a good night’s sleep and a little time to reflect.”

“You’re probably right,” George agreed.  “All of my guns are at home, and I’ve probably drunk too much to hit anything square now.”

Arlene made a mental note to hide all of George’s guns, once he was home asleep and in bed.

Ralph, meanwhile, had returned to drink.  He’d finished off his first bottle of Three Feathers Whiskey, and was well into his second.  The bar let him bring his own, as Ralph couldn’t afford theirs.

“The troubhle his, with the nose,” Ralph slurred, waving his arm dismissively at Daffodils protrait, “With a portrait hits hallways tha nhose!”  Ralph grabbed the arm of the man nearest, pulling him closer.  “You cahn’t mhake ‘um happy!  It’s heither too lahrge  whore too schmall… whore too thish whore too that.  Hits nehver  jhust  rhight!!!”  Ralph stated angrily.

The man happened to be Stan.

“So that chipmunk really got into your head, eh?”  Stan asked.  He looked very interested.  Perhaps he was an art lover, Ralph thought.

“You chould say as much.”  Ralph nodded.  “I can’t hear him.  But I can feel him all over inside.  HIt’s like he’s ruhmmaging haround in there, meshing with how I fheeeeel habout things.”  Ralph grabbed Stan’s wrist.   “What I want, what I hintend to dho.  Hand as near as I can tell, he has no feeling at hat  hall…”

“Kinda make you want to strangle the little sucker, eh!”  Stan’s brows rose.

“Hi don’t know.  Hive nhever wanted to schtrangle anything?  Hide have to think about hit,” Ralph declared.

“But you’d like to kill it, if you could, wouldn’t you?  Maybe poke around inside, see how it works?”  Stan insisted.

“HI don’t know.  Hi would kind of like to find a way to talk to it, if I could.  Mahybe bhe friends.” Ralph nodded.

Stan shook his head.  “Be friends.  Talk to it,” he muttered.

“But it doesn’t seem to talk.  It’s more like it burrowed  into my midbrain, whore something,” Ralph reflected, where Stan had left him.

The next time Leland glanced around from speaking with Agent Hailey, the ‘psycho’ Leland’s cook acquaintance had mentioned was gone.   “You see where he went?”  Leland asked.

“Who me?”  The sparkplug man replied into the mirror.  “The guy’s who’s been trying real hard to just stare straight ahead?”

“Somehow  or other I’m going to find a good reason to punch you real hard in the ribs,” Leland snarled.

Sparkplug man hoisted his glass.

Leland  walked over to speak with Ralph.  “Don’t bite me,” Leland cautioned.

“Hi nehver meahnt to bhite yyou, Lehland.”  A tear ran down Ralph’s cheek.   “That’s hall what hi have bheen shaying!  Hits that damn chipmunk.”  Ralph gestured at the painting with his raised drink.  “She mhade mhe dho hit.  The Dehvil mhade mhe dho hit!”  Ralph bawled.

 Leland nodded.  “Who was that fellow you were talking too, just now?”  He asked.

“Who?  Him?…”  Ralph glanced around.  “Hi dohn’t know.  Juhst a rheal nhice fhellow Lehland.  Dhidn’t look lhike a Dhemocraht.  Buht he saihdt, “he felht mhi pain.”  Ralph searched Leland with dog eyes.  “Dho yyou hunderstand?”

“No, I don’t understand Ralph.  I don’t understand it at all.  But, I’m working on it.”  Leland patted his arm.

“How are you doing?”  Agent Hailey asked.

Leland thought it might be permissible to squeeze Agent Hailey, ‘Suzanne’s’, shoulder as he sat down beside her on his return.

She smiled.  “It seems the evening has crashed, and your painter friend over there is in tears.”

“Ah!” Leland waved her concerns away graciously.  “Ralph’s been kicked when he’s down a lot harder than this.  That’s the thing you get to know about artists.  They’re not too good in the stand-up sort of way, but boy can they endure.  They’re like moss.  They find a way to make a home of wherever they find themselves, even gravestones.”

“There’s a practical sentiment.”

Leland smiled, and shrugged.

I know the next person we need to talk to.”  He nodded conspiratorially.

Photo of anonymous bar patron by Carl Nelson

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

June 3, 2013
'It's a clear cut case of demonic possession', thinks Ralph.

‘It’s a clear cut case of demonic possession’, thinks Ralph.

…and Squirellier

(Episode 54)

 

  As Leland and Agent Hailey settled back with their drinks, Ralph began.

“Good evening.”  Ralph gave a hesitant smile.

“Good evening, Ralph!”  Someone from the back called, to a titter of laughter.

Ralph nodded.  “I hope so,” he began tentatively.

“Just show us the painting!”  That someone called again.

“Shut up!”   Someone else called.

The commissioned painting was hung directly behind Ralph and covered in black velvet.  It was quite large as befitted a fifteen hundred dollar commission.

“As you know,” Ralph began again.

“Speak up!”

“Shut up!”

“As you know!”  Ralph leaned to close to the microphone.  The feedback nearly deafened everyone in the room.

Ralph pulled back immediately, and hesitated tentatively as if he were afraid to go near the mike again, which brought on another titter of laughter.  Ralph gazed out over his audience with saucer-sized eyes, and a hand dove for the peanuts.  He stood their cracking and eating several while his audience sat, waiting.

Finally, with both cheeks full of nuts, Ralph approached the microphone again, hesitantly.  “As you know,” he said.  “I am primarily a painter of rural, and that is in our case, agricultural settings.”  Though with all of the nuts in his cheeks this came out a little more like, “ur his hin hower cashe , hagghricalshurrrel shittings.”  This last got a laugh.  Ralph swallowed and drank some water.

“But fine artists down through history have not only reveled in depicting how their friends and neighbors earned their livings, but felt it their duty to celebrate it in song, story and painting.”

George Everlee nodded and started the applause.  “Farmers are the backbone of this community,” he  called out, “and we owe it mostly to just a great breed of Guernsey we have developed right here and now – in Kimmel County!”

There were lots of cheers.  Even fist pumps.

Ralph nodded.  “Praise the Lord for our abundance,” he said.

“Yes.  Yes. Yes,” it was murmured around the room.

“Are we in a tavern and drinking here, or are we in a church?”  The voice called out.

“Shut up!!!”

“As you know also, from my other times up here, that I believe ‘Wherever the Lord has brought abundance, the Devil views jealously.”  Ralph’s eyes narrowed.

The room was quiet.

“Wherever His Good Works Are In Evidence, the Devil plots.”  Ralph’s voice dropped and paused.

“Ah yes.  Yea, yea, yea,” some in the audience responded.  Others began to sway, (some from drink).

“And WHEREEVER the Good Lord Savior most blesses, THERE is where old Beezlebub most seeks to leave his brand!”  Ralph’s eyes bugged.

Hands were lifted.

But not George Everlee’s.  In fact, George Everlee was smiling stiffly, but looking around, wondering where this evening was headed, while his wife Arlene fought, inconspicuously, to get Ralph’s attention.  But by now, Ralph’s eyeballs were surely big as saucers, and the veins in his temple bulged.

“George Everlee’s Guernsey, Daffodil, was surely most blessed,” Ralph continued, pointing to the cloth covered painting, and with a nod to Ralph Everlee.

Leland had a feeling.  ‘This is fast turning into a wake,’ Leland thought.  ‘And for that, someone has to have died…’

But Ralph Everlee smiled, relaxed a bit, and nodded tentatively.

“Why I can still remember that frosty morning she was first delivered,” Ralph said.  “I was working on another portrait of a sort in a far part of the barn of Henrietta, George’s prize sow.  Many of you, of a few year’s memory, surely remember her.  I’ve got to say, she had the best flesh tones of any sow I’ve had the pleasure yet to paint in this area… mostly yellow ochre and Old Holland white with just the barest highlight of vermillion.”

Arlene blushed.  But George pumped his fist to a general cheer which arose from the crowd.   “It’s Stumps Magic Sow Cream” for any of you who are interested!”  George called out.

Ralph nodded, then moved closer to the mike.

“I know many of you here now – right now – have either laughed slightly, or just coughed, when you have heard me say up here in the past that an Artist has to Beat the Devil, each time he takes up his brush.  That Art is so important to the glorification of God, that the Devil must see to it himself, that this process – lent to us by God Himself – we call creation goes awry.  So that what is meant to be a glorification instead becomes an abomination.”

            Arlene and Ralph Everlee were now looking worried again, as were his kin, nestled nervously around, as to where this was going.  There was tittering and nervous reaching for drinks.

“I think you’d better just show us the painting, Ralph,” the voice in the back called.

And this time it was answered by a murmured chorus of assents.

“Before he does!”  Arlene Everlee stood up, bravely trying to turn the river of  some dark destiny to which it seemed Fate had deemed course through their celebratory evening.  “I just want to say how proud I am of my husband George, and his prize Guernsey Daffodil!  for the honor he has bestowed upon all of us here this evening who are gathered to toast our profession.  And I just want to add,” as she teared up, “that George has been as good a husband and provider these 25 years as he is a breeder and Daffodil is a milker.”

“Hear!  Hear!”  Voices cried.

They all drank to that, while Arlene blubbered and George Everlee kissed her.

“Show us the painting for Godsakes, Ralph,” another shouted.

“Well, to paraphrase Kris Kristofferson, I’m not going to say I beat the Devil,” Ralph said, gripping a corner of the drapery, and pulling.

Inwardly Leland prepared to cringe.

“But I drank his beer for free.  And then I painted his Face.”

Ralph had gotten most of the prize Guernsey Daffodil right excepting for the face, which resembled exactly that of a chipmunk.

A gasp rose up.

Silence gripped the room, while everyone fought to realize what to say, and turned generally towards George Everlee – whose jaw had fallen nearly to the floor – for guidance.  It was George’s herd manager, Earl, who finally spoke first.

“Well, he got her tits right,” he remarked gruffly.

Graphic of painting by Carl Nelson

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

May 17, 2013
Ralph couldn't get the head right.

Ralph couldn’t get the head right.

Opening Night Jitters

(Episode 50)

            Ralph Bunch still didn’t feel quite himself Thursday morning as he hung his show in the back room of the Campaign Café.  He’d tried calling the Everlee’s to see if they could postpone the unveiling of the prize Guernsey till next month, but Cynthia Everlee had pleaded with him to try and finish.  It was to be for George Everlee’s 50th birthday and people were driving from some distance to attend.  So under deadline, Ralph was still painting as it hung on the wall.  He’d been up all night and the past day, and drinking coffee mixed with a little Three Feathers Whiskey to keep him from getting too jangled.  And he had kept at it but couldn’t get the heifer’s head at all right – in fact, not even close to right, and in the flurry was smearing and dribbling paint.

It was a matter of likeness – the lowest of all aesthetic indicators to an artist Ralph felt, but one of the highest to a patron.  It kept looking like a squirrel!  Or maybe it just ‘felt’ like a squirrel.  Ralph didn’t know.  Whatever it was, Ralph just couldn’t hit it on the sweet spot where everything felt done and…  well, Guernsey-like!  ‘For Pete’s sake!’ Ralph swore at himself, ‘You ought to know a Guernsey.’

Ralph walked backwards with his eyes squinted.   Then he walked forwards with his eyes squinted, and then extra wide open, and then squinted again and made an adjustment – all the while nibbling nuts.  Which was the problem really, ‘he really didn’t feel like himself’.  He rarely nibbled nuts.

Painting this way felt like trying to drive a narrow,  twisting alley, while seated sideways in the driver’s seat.  ‘Damn!’ if he just couldn’t  feel with his brush, where that heifer was anymore.  He was losing – or had lost – his ability to feel Guernsey.

With this realization came an electric bolt of fear running from his bottommost shakra right up his backbone causing him to splatter even more paint.   Because losing the ability to think Guernsey in dairy country could be devastating.  He was going to starve and then to die – cold and alone, maybe even sober.  Every unsuccessful artist realizes this.   “If if must happen, then it will happen.”  That’s what the Realists all say.   But Ralph Bunch had tried his best, until now, to ignore all the signs.

He sucked down some more coffee, shut his eyes tight, then opened them.  He must have painted 500 Guernseys  in this life; he gripped the brush  tightly.  He could do one more!

Painting by Ralph Bunch

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

April 19, 2013

Hill

The Kimmel County Tour of Very, Very Violent Crimes

(Episode 41)

 When Merle and Leland arrived at the Weed’s place, Bobby Spencer’s  Kimmel County Tour of Very, Very Violent Crimes  bus  – the sign for which covered one side of the old motor coach in bright red cursive letters – was just finishing up it’s highlight attraction “Lunch at the Shoot Out!”,  featuring ‘Chicken and Bisquits just as Harriet Weeds Fixed ‘em’.   The tourists were wiping the crumbs from their faces with their paper napkins and commenting upon Harriet Weed’s posthumous farmhand lunch spread, while their kids were running around poking the cows with sticks.

“You want to waltz in?  There’s bound to be something left – potato salad, a drumstick or a thigh.”  Merle tossed his head.

Leland indicated that they’d best park in the shade behind some trees until the tour had run its course.  So they watched Bobby speak a little to the crowd before the tourists in their hats and plastic bags of collectibles rose up from their seats and filed in a fairly neat line through the front door for a tour of the farmhouse.  Bobby was wearing the official tour cap and t shirt, as were all of the other school chums Bobby had hired to put out the meal, and then gather up the leftovers and clear the tables.  And it appeared to Leland that Bobby had hired old Jerry Gillis to drive the bus.  He had a greasy grey pony tail, a few days growth of grey stubble and wore a dirty black cap advertising Skoal.  Leland had a good idea it was that girl reporter, his daughter Nancy Gillis, who had talked Bobby into that.  Leland hoped Jerry was sober, and straight.  The Gillis girl must be trying to raise the whole family, Leland figured.

When the crowd was fully inside of the farmhouse, four figures walked out of the barn and began taking their positions around the yard.

In a while, the tourists exited the farmhouse, holding up their hands and squinting into the sun.  Bobby Spencer had switched to a loudspeaker and had quickly run around to the head up the crowd, in order to direct their movement.  The crowd saw the four figures carrying guns, and stopped, clustering where they were.

Then, Bobby began his spiel.  The other kids were Bob, Harriet, Agent Hailey and himself.  They were all dressed to resemble.  Leland figured Bobby must have recruited them from the drama club.  Someone had even written them out lines.   As Bobby stepped back, the little drama was played out.

When another girl, playing Nancy Gillis, broke from the crowd and ran forward snapping pictures, Leland began to get angry.  When the guns fired blanks, Leland’s breathing grew ragged and he broke into a sweat.

“You alright?”  Merlin asked.

“Yeah.  I’m fine,” Leland said quickly.  But he didn’t look so.

With two of them dead, Bobby Spencer turned dramatically and recreated events leading up to the confrontation.  He noted where each character stood, the weapon they had, the angle of the sun at the time of the shootout – even the number of bullets shot.   He punctuated this monologue  by showing them a couple dark crusty puddles which still stained the “thirsty soil”.

From what Leland remembered, all of that had been destroyed following the investigation.  But whatever.  Now there were splatters of something, marked off by yellow crime tape, which the tourists viewed reverentially.

It was 5 or 10 more minutes before Bobby Spencer had finished up his spiel and herded the crowd of tourists back onto the tour bus.  Then, after a count of heads, the tour bus lumbered away.

Merlin was about to drive forward, when Leland stayed his arm.

He nodded at where the actors and waiters were now gathering their things and boarding a small van.  After a while the small van lumbered away.  They sat for a while longer after, while Leland collected himself.  Then Leland nodded.  And Merlin drove the vehicle up into the yard where they parked.

Several minutes passed.  Then Merlin said, “You wanna get out?”

Leland nodded and stepped out into the bright sunlight.

After standing some, taking in the scene, Merlin naturally gravitated towards the barn and the animals, while Leland strode towards the house.

Photo by Carl Nelson

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

April 13, 2013
Another town not far from Kimmel

Another town not far from Kimmel

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qh-AG3brrkM&feature=youtu.be

Episode  7:  “We Got A Date i need your head”

Soundtrack Addition

A dear reader of Murders in Progress suggested this soundtrack for STAN, our serial killer.  I liked the idea, as I feel would have Eldon, if he could have foreseen such.  So we are adding it in order to make your reading experience that much richer.  I’ve captioned each with the suggested episode they would best garnish.  Enjoy!!

http://youtu.be/oOpnplMQmCg

Episode 29: ” Livin’ on the Down Low”

Photo submitted by blog
follower: Donn Trenton

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

April 9, 2013

Cornedge

Back to the Farm

(Episode 39)

 Carmella was beside herself.  The Café was jammed.  A line was snaking down the sidewalk outside.  And she had been on her feet and on the run since five that morning.  She had added five new waiters and three new cooks.  But they were new and had needed direction all the time.  But thank God she had happened on Stan.  She had full confidence he’d have the kitchen running like a well-oiled machine, in no time.  He seemed to have just taken over.  And nobody seemed to have complained, so “it was all good”, as her husband Pete would say.   Carmella supposed.  She would have loved to know how Stan managed what he had managed, but whatever.  It was the one bright spot in her increasingly frantic life.  ‘Actually,’ TWO brights spots.’  She wiggled her hips.

“Gotta make hay while the sun shines!  Right Sheriff,” Carmella chirped to a bleary Leland that next morning.

“Shut up, Carmella,” Sheriff Leland said, fingering his aching head, not his usual polite self.

Carmella rested her hip against the booth side as she refilled the Sheriff’s cup and murmured in confidence.  “I’m sorry Sheriff.  I don’t know what’s gotten into me.  I’m just kind of manic, what with all the activity of late, and my mouth bubbles off.  You know, we all, I mean the whole town appreciates the lengths you’re going to to find these killers.  It’s just that the Weeds getting killed has got the whole valley on edge.  Not that they were the most popular farmers around.  But they had been here for many generations.  So it’s kind of got everyone shook.  Me included, I suppose.”

“I appreciate that Carmella.”  Sheriff Leland nodded, touching his head in various spots.  “I truly do.”  He stirred his coffee.

“Okay then.”  Carmella tapped on the table.  “Coffee’s on the house.”

Leland nodded.  Then after Carmella left, he sighed.

‘That’s what I do,’ Leland scolded himself, ‘I sigh.  This town elects a Sheriff.  Murders occur.  And what does he do?  He sighs.’  Leland berated himself.

Leland thought for a moment, shook his head, and then pulled out his cell phone.

“Merlin?”  He said.

“Yeah?”

“I’ve got work for you.”

Merlin didn’t respond.

“Pick you up in 10 minutes?”

There was a long pause.

“Sure,” Merlin replied.

Photo by Carl Nelson

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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