Posts Tagged ‘serial fiction’

From the Editor’s Perch…

May 12, 2014

Identical  Businessmen11

“You’re the Devil”

 

My son asked me if I planned to continue participating in live theater after we moved to Ohio.  And I said that I wasn’t sure.  But that I’d probably “continue writing my serial fiction, because I enjoy making up stuff.”

And he said, “What’s the point of writing stuff, if people don’t read it?”

This gave me pause.  “You’re the Devil,” I replied.

 

What is the role of failure?  Success seems all important.  People kill themselves for lack of success.  It’s the all too common reason for suicide.  Why is success so important!  Why does it badger us so?  Failure seems a particularly human affliction.  It is hard to imagine a squirrel hanging itself, because it feels like a ‘loser’ – or a bird, or an ant, or a worm for that matter doing themselves in.  Lemmings run off of cliff sides.  But does an actual feeling of despair initially sweep across their community beforehand, so that they lose all bearings?

And if success is so important, where does that leave mediocrity?

Very few of us are successful.  Fewer still are wildly successful.  And even the wildly successful often remain ambitious – or even moreso.  And history has shown us (in quite lurid detail) that ambition is insatiable, and probably makes us – even more suicidal!

Yet statistically, the vast majority of us must be mediocre.  There is no logical way around this conundrum.  So what is the role of failure?

 

More than anything, we tend to react to failure as if it were the Devil’s pronged fork.  We distance ourselves from the pointy end as much as possible!  “I’m not a failure.  I’m successfully earning a living.”  “I’m on my way to success.”  “I am learning the ropes.”  “I am supporting my family of five, all of whom are way above normal.”  “I am helping the less fortunate.”  “I’m in an internship! J” “I could be more successful, if that’s what I really wanted.”  “No one is a failure who has friends.” “I feel I’m already a success.”  Or, perhaps the most desperate, “I’m a good person!”

Sorry.  You are nearly all ‘losers’.  You are not ‘dying with all the toys’.  And you are not  ‘the winner’.  The good news is that this is only sounds harsh if you think it does.  Otherwise, it’s a source of wry humor… which, (to my way of thinking), is God smiling.

 

But where does this leave the artistically inclined?  Most artists will become, like most others, mediocre.  Even most successful artists earn a living with difficulty.  Artists must push an enormous burden to raise a family.  And, their activities are more often than not, self-centered.  It is very hard for an artist to distance him/herself from the prongs of failure.

So, to get back to the issue raised by my son, ““What’s the point of writing stuff, if people don’t read it?”

Well, you know, (my son), the cup is always half full.  Very few of the solutions, and most of the problems of my artistic life have come from the people who have ‘read it’.  An audience can be a burden – even a hex.  If you don’t believe this, just attend any artistic ‘talk back’.  There is usually a moderator present to protect the creative type – both from the ‘haters’ and the ‘lovers’.  Once you have raised an audience, there are packs of hungry egos out there to both want it / and to demean it.

As for money…  Once people pay for something, there is this feeling that they own it.  And people pay an artist, because they want more of the same thing.  But, if you’re not paid a cent, no one owns you.  And no one tells you what to do.

 

But, even acknowledging all of this, if you’re mediocre, people might ask, what is the point of producing more work?  That is, if your art accomplishes nothing, what’s the point in making it?

In responding to this, I think back on a Sunday morning brunch my wife and I enjoyed years ago in a Portland Café.  It was upscale and sunny.  And we were visiting with my wife’s Uncle, a retired architect.  And somehow the conversation turned to religion and he suggested that wasn’t going to church a waste of time?  He pointed out that couldn’t the time be much better spent in doing some social work that would actually help someone?  His eyes showed concern.

‘And that’s what we’re doing now?’  I laughed to myself, as I enjoyed the fresh coffee.

 

“What do the people who aren’t attending Church do with their Sunday mornings?”  I might have asked, sharing his concern.  “Do they consume a big breakfast?  Do they sleep in?  Do they visit friends?  Do they go duck hunting and blast a couple birds?  Or maybe snag a fish and smack them on the head?  Do they watch the pregame festivities on TV?  Maybe work in the yard, or catch up on some home repairs?  Or maybe they read the New York Times?  Or maybe they are still up drinking beers?”

 

But the larger – more serious – point my wife’s Uncle was dancing around was “what in the world does going to Church on Sunday morning actually accomplish?  How does this make us more successful?  How does this make other people’s lives more rich and meaningful?  Does God listen?  Will it change anything even if He does?  Isn’t it possible that this whole ‘God’ thing is just one big shame and that they are all just wasting their Sunday mornings over there blowing smoke?

 

People without faith can’t understand that the foundation of faith is doubt.  Attacking the faithful only makes them stronger.  People like my wife’s Uncle are actually the shoulders that the religious stand on.  (Look at me.  Here I am!)

 

Because doing things to no purpose is actually a spiritual activity.  And the Devil just hates this sort of thing.

Photo by Carl Nelson

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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

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

April 28, 2013
oooh, nice!

oooh, nice!

the help

the help

Influence Peddling

(Episode 44)

Benny Green got a call from his friend Lazlo in Vegas.  Lazlo was also a loan shark and money launderer.  But at times they traded leads.

“I got this guy here, thought you might find interesting.”

“Oh yeah?  How so,” Benny asked.

“Well, he’s deeply in debt,” Lazlo continued.

“That’s a start,” Benny agreed.

“He’s lost somebody else’s money.  And if that somebody else doesn’t get their money back, he’s gonna be in deep shit.”

“So he’s already in deep shit,” Benny replied.

“Yeah.”

“And this wouldn’t be your money, would it?”  Benny asked.

“Well, it could be,” was Lazlo’s reply.

“Aaahhhh.”  Benny nodded.  This sounded like a two way split.  Which Benny liked better than a favor.  A two way split was precise and people kept their eye on the play.  A ‘favor’ was a sloppy business and involved a lot of conversation and socializing and most of the time came back to bite you.  “And what’s his pitch?”  Benny asked.  “What’s his collateral?”  Benny laughed.

“Well, it’s something you might be able to use, but I can’t, really.”  Lazlo let the last words filter out his lips with the smoke from his cigar.  “But if you could, then we could.  But if you can’t, then we can’t.”

“Hmmmmmmm.”  Benny nodded.  It so happens that they were both, at this time, puffing on big cigars – the same brand actually – and letting the smoke filter out from between their lips.

Lazlo belched and waved someone over.  Benny, on his end, did the same thing.  Benny snapped his fingers, and asked his mistress to hand him a ham on rye.  Down in Vegas, Lazlo snapped is fingers at a former showgirl and demanded a Chivas on the rocks.

“So why would I be able to use this ‘thing’ we’re talking about, when you can’t – or won’t?”  Benny asked.  There was a lot of chit chat and shoptalk embedded in a deal.  And Lazlo employed and enjoyed it as much as Benny.  And when they were enjoying themselves, they often felt the urge to eat.

“It’s a matter of lowkwhoshawn…”  Lazlo murmured through a bite of sandwich.

“THwhaut?”  Benny chewed, spit out a wheat kernel, and checked his filling.  ‘What the hell does this woman buy for bread?’ Benny had to ask himself.

Lazlo swallowed, then took a gulp of beer.  “It’s a matter of loc-a-tion,” he enunciated.

“Uh,” Benny replied, reaching in his pocket for a toothpick.

“What he wants to sell me is a town.  …maybe a county.”

“A town?  What have I got to do with a town?”  Benny replied.  “What am I gonna do with a county?”

But Lazlo was silent, letting the matter crawl around the crevices of Benny’s lizard brain for a moment, while Lazlo studied a sandwich.  He lifted it.  Finally, Lazlo decided where he was going to bite and answered.  “It’s the town’s money he lost.  He’s the mayor, the treasurer, the coroner, the post office supervisor, and a dozen other things as near as I can tell, of the great metropolis of Kimmel, up in your neck of the woods.”  Lazlo bit.

“And so he wants to trade you the town, in lieu of his gambling debt?”

“He wants to trade me his influence,” Lazlo corrected, chewing.  “He figures hi mhight whant tho estahblish,” Lazlo took a gulp of Chivas, feeling the ice tap his teeth,  “gambling, and maybe a little loan-sharking and prostitution up in his neck of the woods.  And he thinks me and him can make that happen.  Of course, if I decide not to ‘help’ him out, then more than likely he goes on the lam, or gets incarcerated, and there goes his influence.  So.  It’s a perishable commodity,” Lazlo summarized.

“Aren’t we all,”  Benny sympathized with a smile.  “How long does he have?”

“Well, there’s the payroll he’s got to meet, which includes the county Sheriff’s salary.”

This made Benny’s brows rise.  “I don’t know,” Benny said finally.  “Currently I’m invested into businesses – legit businesses, some of them even hi tech, you’d be proud of me, I am embracing technology – and making clean money.  Towns cost money.  They got potholes to fix, cops to fix, and all that shit..  I don’t know.  I don’t see any money, unless I go majorly illegal.  You know, corrupt with a big ‘C’.  And then, I still have to put even more money in, you know, to build up the proper infrastructure, to support something that would make it worth my while, considering the risk.”

“Benny!  I can’t believe I’m hearing this.  Corruption always pays better than legit.  That’s why we do it,” Lazlo swore.

“Aaiiii!”  Benny swore.  “But I’m getting so tired of talking to that FBI.  And the legal fees eat me alive.”

“Okay.  Okay.  Only two words I’m going to say,” Lazlo replied.  “Las Vegas.”

“That’s one.”

“No, it’s two.  Look it up.”

“I have.”

“No.  Apparently you haven’t, because there’s ‘Las’, and then there’s ‘Vegas’.  Two words.”

“Las’, is not a word.”

“Yes it is.”

“No it’s not.  What does ‘Las’ mean?  It doesn’t mean anything.”

“It must in Spanish.  Or they wouldn’t use it all by itself, would they?”  Lazlo countered.

“Who knows what the goddamned Mexicans do,” Benny replied.  “Even if it does mean something, it probably means ‘the’, or ‘before’, or ‘on top of’.”

“’On top of?”

“…or something.  And what does ‘the’ mean?  Huh?  ‘The’ doesn’t mean anything.  It’s like a nothing, a, an, empty thought space.”

Lazlo sighed.  “Okay, look.  We’re getting off topic here.  Why don’t we save  this linguistic pissing contest for another time?”

“Fine with me.”

“Because what I am saying in a language we both know and can communicate in is that what we may be looking at here is an opportunity.  And it might be worth the investment because we reduce the risk, like Las Vegas.  They own the desert, and they make the law.  No cops.  No lawyers.  No courts.  No nothing.  Just out of state marks.  Lots of grain fed marks flown in…”

“I heard you say “we”.”

“That’s right.  We split 50/50.”

“So what do I do?  And what do you do?”

“Okay.  So this is it.”  Lazlo lowered his voice – just from habit, and not because he was afraid of being overheard.  It was just habitual to lower your voice when you got to the meat of any conversation.  Everybody knew this.

“The guy’s short $240,000.  It was $160,000, but he tried to gamble his way free.  This ought to give you some measure of the guy’s ability to self-examine and to self-correct in the face of adversity and of his character flaws.”

“Yeah.  I got it,” Benny said.  “Mayor or not, he’s just another normal putz with abnormal ambition and what he thought were testicles.”

“Yeah.  So this is how it is:  I give him $120,000.  This is enough to save his ass for the time being, but not enough for him to lose that sense of urgency, which is so important for a good relationship to flower.  You pay me $60,000, and you’re in for half.  After that we own him.  And you run him and the operation up there, while I raise the money and assemble the backers down here.  And we go big league.  We put Kimmel County on the map.  What do you say?”

Benny thought for a while.  “I knew a broad who lived out near there,” he said.  “One of my clients.  Seemed to like it.”

“Well there you go,” Lazlo agreed.

“Until she got whacked.  Some crazy batshit serial killer or some such.  Cut her head off.  Like, sawed it, with a small knife.  Can you believe that?”

“There’s a lot of sickos in this world,” Lazlo sympathized.

“Maybe.  On the other hand, she was pretty abrasive,” Benny offered.

“Well, okay.  Then there’s that.  You know, like sometimes a person’s karma can catch up to them.”

“Yeah, and saw their head off!”  Benny laughed.  He considered.  “Okay, cut me in.  And I’ll get the money to you by the end of this week.  It’ll be cash, and I’ll have my nephew drive it down personal.  Cause you know him and he knows you.”

“That’ll work, “ Lazlo said.

“Okay.  Nice bein’ in business with you again Lazlo,” Benny said.

“The feeling’s mutual.”

They both hung up, grabbed their drinks and cigars, and sat there thinking.

Photos from Google Images

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

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

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

“The Lobbyist” Hamburger At The Campaign Cafe

Nancy Gillis: Girl Reporter

(Episode 30)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo from Google Images

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

February 15, 2013
On His Way to Breakfast

On His Way to Breakfast

Peter Barnett

(Episode 30)

 Peter Barnett woke in the high rollers suite of the Lakeside Casino and rubbed his face.  His head hurt something awful.  He staggered into the shower, dressed carelessly and made his way down to the café for some coffee.  Each ring of a payout bell was a little mental whip hoisted in the hand of one of the Devil’s minions.  Or that’s how it felt, as he passed through the casino on the way to his breakfast.

‘Everywhere you went in this place, you had to pass through the casino in order to get there!  Not by accident’, Peter Barnett was sure.  He made the café, only to sit down and place his order – when he thought to walk back into the casino again and check his standing.   (The poached eggs Benovicchi looked interesting, though more than likely a little tough for the come and go hash cooks their café hired to master.  Nevertheless, this was a kitchen.  And the personnel here had mastered it.  Or, anyway, he would taste and see if they had.)

These black out spells were driving him crazy.  For example, he couldn’t remember this morning whether he was up or down.  ‘He had to stop this drinking, while he was gambling.  …Maybe even when he wasn’t’, he thought, touching his head gingerly.

He walked back out to the accounts window to check his stats.  And what he saw made his bowels churn and his genitals shrivel.  He was sixty thousand down!  This couldn’t be right.  He wasn’t that bad of a gambler, drunk or not.

The pasty guy behind the counter must have seen lots of shell-shocked looking faces before.  Because he didn’t register any emotion outside of what could have been a slightly complacent smile.  “Bad news?” He asked.

“Only if you hate prison,” Peter groaned.  “Just kidding!”  He quickly amended, managing a sickly smile, glancing upwards at the security camera which rolled 24/7.

The pasty guy laughed politely and drifted back into his slightly complacent smile.

‘Maybe this will all look better after breakfast,’ Peter thought.

He was just biting into his Egg Benovicchi, thinking that fry poaching really gave an egg the kick that it needed if it was going to rise in people’s memories above all of the innumerable other breakfast eggs they’d had and that maybe they should give this recipe a tryout at the Campaign Cafe at home – when he got that call from Carmella.  “I keep telling you Carmella, not to bother me midday when I’m in all these meetings involving city business…” he started saying without listening, when Carmella just went right on talking, interrupting him for once.

“Well, the café needs you here,” Carmella was saying.  “Between the tourists and the gawkers and the press and our normal crowd, I’m busting a gut trying to keep up with it all.  I haven’t even had a chance to count the receipts.  It’s all sitting in a big pile of money in our back office!  I need help!”  Camella barked.  “The city’s doing fine.”

‘No it’s not,’ Peter was thinking.  He rubbed his forehead.  ‘This Egg Benovicchi wasn’t really all that it was cracked up to be’, he finally decided, putting down his fork.  He was feeling a little sick.

“Alright.  Great.  Fine.  Just give me a couple days to tie up things, and I’ll fly up there in a jiffy.”

“A couple of days is not ‘a jiffy’.”

“Listen.  I’m wearing a lot of hats here, and I can’t say much more than that.  But if you don’t want one of those hats to look very black, you’d best give me a couple more days.”

Carmella didn’t know what that meant.  And it was probably best she didn’t.  So she let it go.  “By the way”, she added.  “I hired a new guy.  Pretty much sight unseen.  Says he can cook.”

‘Sight unseen’, was pretty much the way Peter liked it.  And if he hadn’t heard anything, that would have been that much better.  “Sounds good,” he said.  “One day trial.  Cash out after the first month unless he pans out?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay.”  Peter nodded.  “Look I’ve got to go.  The town council is filing in now.  Expect me in a couple days or so.”

“Okay.”  Carmella sighed.

“Love you.”  Peter disconnected.  ‘Two days to win back the town’s sixty thousand.’  He swallowed the remainder of his coffee.  ‘He’d better get back to work.’

Photo by Google Images

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

February 11, 2013

Country Cafe4

Cash Under the Counter

(Episode 28)

 Probably another reason Stan hadn’t killed Harriet and Bob Weeds was because there was something nagging at him, some ‘unfinished business’ is how it felt.  He’d never had a feeling like this, and now he had.  Something about his stay in Kimmel County that said it wasn’t over.  And Stan didn’t need all the complications another two killings would bring.

So as not to look too conspicuous, after Bob Weeds had dropped him off, Stan stepped into the Campaign Café for a cup of coffee and a little time to think.  He sat down at the counter, where his back was to the street and to the other patrons.  Several tables to one end look to have collected laptops and phones and coats and briefcases and papers enough to signify an encampment.  Judging from the snippets of conversation which drifted Stan’s way, this was the press corps domain.  They looked the image.  Rumpled shirts, loosely knotted ties, coats tossed over the backs of chairs and with eyes staring into laptops, these guys looked as desperate as the story they were chasing.  From what Stan could make out, they were trolling for who was writing what, and who had found out what, and how, and where?  Stan figured he would’ve been more of a shoe soles on the street sort of fellow.  But what did he know?

Anyway, the place was packed, even in this off hour.  Some kid in the corner looked like he was talking to some members of an organized tour.  The waitress looked to be running her legs off, so Stan rose to refill his coffee himself.

“I can get that for you,” the waitress said, as Stan started to step behind the counter, reaching for the coffee pot.

“Uh.  Thank you.”  Stan tipped his head.  “You look a little short handed.”

“You think?”  She smiled.  The way she smiled made Stan think that she might either own the place, or have an interest in its success.   “I don’t suppose you can cook?”  She joked.  ‘Was there a sexual overtone to that?’

Stan took a look around the café again.  Across the street was the Sheriff’s office.

“Yeah.  In fact, I’m quite good at it.”  Stan smiled.

“Right.  I know.  Back yard barbeques.  Hot dogs.  Hamburgers.  And every Sunday morning you make waffles.”  The waitress smirked, from across the aisle, as she refilled more coffees.

“Nope.  No marriage.  Army.  Third division Rangers,” Stan said.

“Not much interest in K rations here,” the waitress replied.

“Not much interest in K rations there,” Stan replied.

The waitress continued with her other duties.  She yelled to the cook in the back several times.  And several times the cook in the back yelled back…  in a mixture of Spanish and English. Stan continued to sip his coffee.

“Are you making conversation and just pulling my chin, or would you really know how to do a short order job?”  The waitress asked as she walked back to Stan to re-fill his coffee.

“I’m not gassing you.”  Stan shook his head, and let his eyes wander briefly up and down her figure.  “To tell you the truth, I sort of miss it.”

“Ha!”  She wiped the counter around.  “How badly do you miss it?  You miss it today?”  She tossed her head to indicate their overstressed kitchen behind.

Stan figured for a moment.  “I could,” he answered.

“Forty dollars cash to finish out the afternoon.  And if it works out, we pay you under the table for a month until we see how everything goes,” she said in a low voice, wiping a spot on the counter nearby.

Stan nodded finally.  Then he rose and walked behind the counter.  The waitress, who introduced herself to him as Carmella Burnette – “wife to the Mayor, who’s out of town on important city business”, handed him a newly laundered smock and a hairnet and pointed him towards the kitchen.  Stan nodded to the other cook, who looked up without registering any surprise whatsoever.  That alone told Stan quite a bit.

“This is your stove.  This is your area.  And this is your counter.  I’ll clip the orders here,” Carmella said.  Stan nodded.  Carmella clipped an order there, stared at him, and then spun the thing like a roulette wheel.  Stan had the thing on its first pass.  He was a quick study.

Country Cafe2

Photo plucked from Google Images

Murders in Progress with Eldon Cene

February 7, 2013

 

Downtown Kimmel

Downtown Kimmel

The Campaign Café

(Episode 27)

 Stan had finished his Sunday meal and packed up.  The evidence of their crimes was by now certainly lost in the catacombs of the Federal Bureaucracy.  Nevertheless, even a small town sheriff could look at tire treads and count boot prints.  And two guys in a pickup with manure all over everything was what was looking suspicious in these locales of late.  Sooner or later the Sheriff was bound to be stopping by the Weed’s dairy farm, and it was better for all concerned if Stan weren’t around.

Stan explained to a nodding/crying/head shaking, disheveled Harriet, so that she could later explain it to Bob (over and over) that there was nothing for them to worry about, while she worried herself nearly sick.  The physical evidence was long gone, and without witnesses all the authorities had was a body.  Which, Stan also added, was probably long gone by now, too.

Bob started blubbering, after he had finally driven Stan into Kimmel and dropped him off in front of the Campaign Café.  “I think me and Harriet are actually going to make it now…”  Bob Weeds wiped the tears welled up in his eyes.  “Fourteen years now of TV, cow shit, chicken dinners, birthing and  bawling, and feeding, and milking…   I wished you didn’t have to go!” Bob blubbered.  “I know we done some bad things, but…”  He didn’t finish.

“Just remember, if we happen to encounter each other again, we’re strangers.  We can never admit to having met,” Stan warned him.

Stan had briefly toyed with killing them both – it would have been cleaner –  but for some reason just hadn’t ‘gotten around to doing it’.  Maybe the laid back farm life was getting to him.

“I know.  Our lips are sealed by Federal Imprimature.”  Bob had remembered the term Stan had fashioned.  In fact, whenever he said it, he started to bawl again.

“Got to go,” Stan said curtly, turned his back and left.

Bob put the truck into gear and slowly drove away.  This chapter of his life was already beginning to fade into memory, though Bob couldn’t recognize it at the time.  By the time his first two kids were nine and ten it would be like it had happened to a different man.  Bob wouldn’t even have known himself.

Photo by Carl Nelson


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