Posts Tagged ‘Sheriff’

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 2, 2013

Chipmunk in wild3

Things Get Squirrely

(Episode 53)

 Agent Hailey arrived about the time things got going.

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

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

“I’d imagine.”  Agent Hailey laughed.

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

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

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

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

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

“Okay.”

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

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

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

Leland thought Ralph was joking with him and reached again.

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

“What the hell, Ralph?”  Leland laughed.

“Don’t touch my fucking nuts!”

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

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

Ralph seemed to break down, almost in tears.

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

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

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

Leland furrowed his brows.

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

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

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

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

“Control what?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, it came time for the ceremony to begin.

PhotoArt by Carl Nelson

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

May 24, 2013
Above the Campaign Cafe Bar.

Above the Campaign Cafe Bar.

Poetry Night

(Episode 52)

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

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

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

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

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

“Gesundheit,” Leland offered, head turned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Uh?”  Leland became a little more interested.

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

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

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

“In back of the restaurant?”

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

“What were you doing back there?”

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

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

The man regarded Leland.

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

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

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

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

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

“Yeeeessss!”  The man cried.

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

The man rose to leave.  Leland restrained him.

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

Leland waited.  The man nodded.

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

“Okay.”

Leland asked.

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

Leland nodded.  “And what happened then?”

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

“Okay,” Leland said.  “And then?”

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

“So you run the kitchen?”

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

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

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

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

The man looked at Leland like he was hopeless.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture taken from Google Images

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

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

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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