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Authors: J. T. Lewis

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BOOK: Murder! Too Close To Home
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For the rest of the war he existed as a prisoner in numerous Japanese internment camps. Upon his release and subsequent discharge he came back to town and got busy, the pent-up energy of his confinement pushing him relentlessly. 

He courted and married his high school girl friend and found a job in construction. After a few years he went out on his own and made a good name for himself as an excellent carpenter. After his wife died six years ago, he abruptly quit working and entered retirement, a good portion of which he spends at the Legion with old Doc Elliot.

“I guess you’re involved with the circus across the road eh? What’d old man Longstreet do to get all you out of bed in the middle of the night?”

Looking him straight in the eye, I broke the news to him that Mr. Longstreet had been murdered.

“You don’t say,” Zeke stated, suddenly very serious. “Loony as a bird that one, but still, you don’t wish that on anybody.”

“Did you see anyone over there tonight, or see or hear anything strange?” I asked, almost knowing what he was going to say.

“Yes sir, I did notice that he had a visitor earlier in the evening. Fellow didn’t stay very long though, so I didn’t pay him too much attention. Thinkin’ back on it now though, fellow left out the back door wearing different clothes when he come out, left in a car he parked down the road if I recollect correctly. But that can’t be the guy you’re looking for.”

In answer to the confusion showing on my face he continued, “That guy was one of yours.” 

“I’m sorry, Zeke, I’m still confused, what do you mean he is one of mine?” I questioned, almost dreading the answer.

With a serious look on his face he leaned forward, as if trying to teach a dense child a tidbit of knowledge.

“The guy I saw tonight was one of yours Gabriel, he was wearing a uniform, same as some of them fellows across the road is wearing right this very moment.”

“The man I saw was a sheriff’s deputy.”

 

Chapter 20

March 10, 1997

 

The man was ecstatic!

He had already called off work; there is no way he could pretend to do his menial job at the Save-A-Bunch today…no not today. The well laid out plan had worked like a charm. It had only taken three trips past the house before he had confirmed that the neighbor was sitting on his porch, a witness the mentor had insisted on for some reason.

Parking just out of sight down the road and traveling on foot to the small house, he had easily gained entry posing as a deputy with a dead cruiser.

The witless old man had shown him to the phone in the kitchen, leaving him alone to make the call. Spotting the knives on the counter, he had silently grabbed one with his gloved hand as he waited for the call to go through. The answering machine picked up, telling him that no one was there at the moment, and to please leave a message.

“The Ghost strikes again,” he whispered into the phone. “Thanks for making it so easy,” he finished with a smile before hanging up the receiver. Slipping the knife up his left sleeve and holding the hilt in place with his cupped hand, the man then turned back toward the living room.

“Find someone to help?” the old man asked as he exited the kitchen.

“Oh, they will get the message alright,” the man said with a smile, enjoying his play on words, enjoying himself immensely truth be known.

The old man stood up from his chair as the visitor passed by him on the way to the front door. Pulling the knife out of his sleeve with his right hand, he waited for the old man to get close enough on his way to open the door. When he sensed him in the right location, he swiftly turned on his heel, bringing the knife up in an arc, finding its mark just below the sternum.

“Thank you for your help,” the stranger said clearly as first surprise, then fear entered the old man’s eyes.

The orgasmic rush gave the stranger shivers as he happily watched his victim’s life ebb out of his eyes. The old man was reaching up feebly and grabbing at the knife in a last ditch effort to pull it out, his last breath escaping his body in a rattle as small red bubbles formed on his mouth.

Realizing that he was now holding up the dead weight of the body, the man pushed it away and watched it land on the floor like a felled tree. Taking a few moments, he closed his eyes to enjoy the feelings streaming through his body; the intensity of emotions almost overwhelming.

Coming back down to earth, he quickly unbuttoned his shirt, pulling out 2 garbage bags he had earlier wrapped around his stomach.

Heading into the kitchen, he picked up the meat cleaver he had spotted with the knives and returned to the body. The cleaver was sharpened to a fine honed edge, making the removal of the hand easier than he had expected. Opening one of the bags, he placed the hand inside of it and then carefully sealed it with the built-in pull-strings.

Removing his outer gloves revealed the latex coverings underneath as he opened the second bag, depositing in it the bloody gloves, followed by the deputy’s jacket he had worn into the house. Pulling the hood up on the sweatshirt he had worn under the jacket, he worked for a moment folding the bags into as small of a package as he could muster. Heading to the kitchen again, he exited out the back door and worked his way quietly around the house to the road. Continuing on to the car he had obtained for this project, he got in and started down the road, straining to see the road ahead as he left the lights off for the first mile.

 

***

 

Approaching court house square, he carefully parked a block away, waiting in the car for a few minutes before existing the vehicle with one of his packages. He then got out and made his way to the front entrance of the building, the one he knew would be in the shadows due to lack of maintenance and a burned out bulb. Taking a last quick look to confirm his being alone on the street, he climbed the first two steps, undoing the ties on the garbage bag and then turning the bag upside down to deposit the hand.

Quickly retreating down the steps while folding the bag, he headed back to the car, getting in and starting the vehicle before traveling toward the bridge at the edge of town.

Pulling off the side of the deserted bridge, he got out of the car and threw the bags into the river. Re-entering the vehicle, he then drove to the nearest empty fast food parking lot, turned around and headed back to town.

Crossing the bridge again, he turned at the first right and parked the car on the deserted street. Finally leaving the car with the keys in the ignition; he walked the fifteen blocks back to his apartment.

A grin formed on his lips as, just before entering his apartment, he heard sirens in the distance.

“Maybe they have found the hand already,” he thought to himself as he unlocked his door and entered the living room.

Once inside, the man stood quietly in the dark, reliving the night’s events in his head over and over. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his newest token, feeling the ring with his fingers. It was fate that drew his eyes to the mantle and the ring upon it, the light reflecting brightly off of it seemingly a sign to the man that it was his reward. His mentor would be angry if she found out, but he would cross that bridge if it came up later.

He had celebrated the rest of the night with various forms of alcohol, which was also a contributing factor in his calling off work this day. Taking the ring once again out of his pocket, he took in some of the details through his bloodshot eyes.

Smiling at his prize, he deposited it back into his pocket and clasped his hands behind his head. It was a good day to be the Ghost, a very good day indeed.

 

Chapter 21

March 10, 1997

 

Zeke’s revelation had left me speechless, speechless and confused.

I sat back in the chair and went over the facts in my mind while Zeke looked on quietly. Whether he fully understood the implications of what he had just told me were doubtful, but it appeared he realized that something had rung a bell in my head at the very least.

“Zeke, I’m sorry but I’m going to have to ask you to get dressed and come down and make a statement.”

Shrugging his shoulders, having apparently resigned himself to the reality of not sleeping again anytime soon, he rose from his chair.  He then started off to his bedroom to change.

“I’ll be right back,” I called after him as he made his way down the hall. He raised a hand over his shoulder in recognition that I had indeed said something and that he was listening.

Pulling open the front door, the icy stab of the winter cold hit my face like a thrown rock. I shook off the shock and headed across the road toward the yellow police tape.

Spotting a deputy, I was about to recruit him to take Ezekiel in for his statement when, catching a glimpse of his uniform, I thought better of it and just gave him a wave as I passed.

Inside the house, the preliminary was wrapping up and they were clearing out to let the forensic guys have a go at it. I swept through the living room, coming up on Frank and Betty in the kitchen. Grabbing Betty’s elbow and looking Frank in the eyes I mouthed ‘follow me’ as I led them out the back door, not stopping until we were thirty feet from the house in the overgrown back yard.

Grabbing both of my befuddled friends by the shoulder, I pulled them close for a huddle as I started repeating the conversation I’d had moments ago.

A look of confusion crossed both of their faces as I treaded my way through the earlier conversation, soon to be replaced by looks of both shock and alarm as the ramification of what I was telling them sunk in.

“What’s our next step?” Frank asked almost timidly; knowing we needed to attack but not knowing a direction to take.

“Zeke’s getting ready to go down and give us a statement. I thought I would ride with him; you two follow close behind and keep an eye out. If on some off chance there is an actual deputy involved, I don’t want to risk leaving Zeke unprotected. We’ll meet at our offices in the courthouse; I’ll call Allen and let him in on it when we get there.”

Both quickly agreed to my plan. We walked across the road and let ourselves into the house, calling out for Zeke when I had the door shut again.

“I’m coming, I’m coming!” he half shouted as he slowly made his way down the hall, inserting an open box of ‘I-Bolds’ into his jacket pocket as he walked in. Everyone in town knew Zeke, and he greeted Betty and Frank like they were supposed to be there.

“Can we take your car?” I started, trying to sound as normal as possible, “I could ride with you, and they will follow us downtown.”

“You can ride with me, sure,” he started, a sly look in his eye; “but I ain’t got a car.”

I mentally started working on plan ‘B’ as Zeke slowly made his way toward the front door. Turning with a grin, he finally said, “Got a truck though, will that work?”

Smiling, I patted him on the back and told him that would work just fine.

 

***

 

After getting the truck started and backing down the dark driveway with no working backup lights, we started on our long, slow, and very cold journey toward town. Directing him to the courthouse, I turned to take a comforting look at Betty following us in the Jeep.

Arriving at the courthouse, I unlocked the door and disarmed the alarm, a recent addition to the building. After we all got inside, I again relocked the door and reset the alarm before leading our guest to my office for his statement.

I asked Frank to get him started on the statement, and he led Zeke into the conference room as Betty got some coffee started. I headed to my office to make the phone call that I was dreading, bringing Allen up to speed on our newest and most disturbing information.

I was not looking forward to this at all. 

 

Chapter 22

March 10, 1997

 

“Is he a credible witness?” Allen asked, maybe the twentieth question he had asked since the start of the conversation.

“I’ve known Zeke for years Allen, he’s a good man, keeps to himself most of the time. He has no reason to lie that I can see. Point of fact, when I went to question him, he was sleeping.”

The phone was silent for several seconds as Allen mulled over how all of the scenarios that this new information conveyed could play out.

“I’ll be there directly, keep your witness under wraps until I get there.” The phone clicked in my ear as he terminated the connection.

Hanging up the receiver, I walked over and stuck my head into the conference room, asking Ezekiel how he took his coffee. Moving on to the break room, I made four cups of coffee: black for Betty and I, light cream for Frank, and four sugars for Zeke.

Carrying the cups back to the conference room, I distributed them to their respective drinkers. Frank was going over the testimony with Zeke as Betty was writing it down, a tape recorder also running for backup. We would have him read over the written transcript and sign it if it met his approval.

No new information came to light on this retelling of the story; Zeke being very precise in his recollection of the events. I again marveled to myself at the similarities of his memories versus mine experienced while in the dream.

BOOK: Murder! Too Close To Home
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