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Authors: J. T. Lewis

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BOOK: Murder! Too Close To Home
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“I hear you might have a secret desire, my sources tell me you are very intrigued with, shall we say, situations with a certain…definitive ending.”

The man was instantly on guard, his eye jerked in its insane dance of nerves. He would have to watch what he said; this could be some sort of trap. Can the police arrest you for what you thought, what you said?

“Who is this?” the man demanded into the receiver; thinking this might be one of the guys from the bar. Although he wouldn’t consider himself friends with the people he drank with, he wouldn’t put it past one of them to try something like this in an inebriated state.

A few more seconds passed before the voice returned, “Just consider me someone who might be able to facilitate your dreams. I have a couple of projects in mind, they would need someone with your… let’s say
interest
to complete. Would that be of any significance to you?”

The man’s heart skipped a beat, could this strange voice be asking what he thought was being asked?

“Can you be a little more specific,” The man asked nervously, “just so I know we are talking about the same thing?”

A short silence followed again before the voice continued. “I have a couple of people in mind that need to be eliminated, permanently, does that scenario interest you?”

“Yes!” the man blurted out quickly, “I mean sure it sounds intriguing, what would I need to do, and who is this anyway?”

“As to whom I am, my name is…
Jasmine,
but for our purposes, why don’t you just call me
Mentor
, or teacher if you prefer. I have much to teach you, opportunities will be presented that you may never get otherwise, if you are willing to learn.”

“You will receive instructions,” she continued without waiting for an answer. “I will let you know where and when. You must agree to follow them to the letter, along with a few other requirements as well. You must do everything I ask or the deal is off. But, if you agree to all of the conditions, I will put you in a position to carry out your wildest dreams; you will be talked about for years to come. Interested?”

He was in heaven; he had to restrain his emotions so as not to blurt out his answer as he readily agreed to all of the conditions. One of the big ones it turned out was to stay out of bars until the projects were over; after all, that is how she found him in the first place.

“Never talk if you can
do
,” she had finished with finality before hanging up the phone.

Well he could definitely
do
, he had proven that. And it was only the beginning.

 

Chapter 9

February 18, 1997

 

The next morning had dawned for the sheriff with more information, but little more. A recovered slug revealed that the caliber had been a .357. No other clues were garnered from the bodies save that they hadn’t suffered much.

The victims had been the veritable ‘perfect’ couple: high school sweethearts, college educated, good jobs. They had actually been traveling home from volunteering at a hurricane
Fran
cleanup project.

Reading this information from a report now laying in front of him, Sheriff McHenry could only utter a sad
“damn shame.”

It had also been determined that a call had definitely been made from the couple’s cellular phone at about the time of the murders. The recipient of the call was also a cell but was so far untraceable. It was not certain if the couple or the perp had made the call, but it was a local number. If it was the murderer that made the call, it could indicate that there was more than one person involved in the plan. The Sheriff wasn’t quite ready to speculate on that thought as yet though.

Physical evidence now seemed played out; everything had been gone over at least three times with no additional results. The soil sample was also being held up at the state lab; it could take up to three weeks to get the data back on that.

The sheriff sat back and pondered his next move, knowing another angle of attack was needed. Sitting up suddenly, the others around the conference table leaned back in surprise. Without preamble, McHenry started issuing orders right and left.

“Jason,” he said speaking to his Chief Deputy, “get someone in touch with the police department involved in the car theft, see if there were any witnesses or clues left at the scene. Check to see if they canvassed the area for any security cameras that might have been recording the crime by accident, if not ask them damn nicely if they could check on that.”

Jason nodded and got up, leaving the room in a hurry to assign people to the tasks.

“And tell Jane I need another cup of coffee,” the sheriff added as an afterthought, pushing the cup of cold coffee away with a disgusted look on his face.

The sheriff rubbed his eyes before glancing over at the two deputies left at the table, appearing to size them up for their tasks.

He had hand picked these men for this duty months ago, both good men, both picked for completely different reasons.

Tucker Vance was a tireless worker, and was wise to the ways of the street. His other choice was Larry London; a very smart man that interacted well with others. One of his main jobs would be interacting with the other departments. He would be the sheriff’s liaison officer, keeping the sheriff in the loop as the case progressed.

“The prosecutor, in all his eminent wisdom,” the sheriff started, “Has deemed it a wise move to activate the Major Crimes Taskforce for this case.”

“I don’t agree with him. I think it shows a general lack of confidence in our department”

The sheriff sighed in resignation. “Be that as it may, I have already chosen the two of you to be our representatives, even though I had thought at the time it was mostly a publicity stunt. You know, photo ops and such.”

“As you know there are two officers from Allenville, as well as the two investigators from the prosecutor’s office. Your new unit will take the lead in the investigation, and report directly to the prosecutor. This will be your full-time job until we get this guy, our department will act as
support
.”

McHenry spit out the last word as if it had a sour taste.

“I expect you two to do your best work on this, and let me know if there is anything you need. You’re dismissed, good luck.”

Both men replied “Yes sir,” then got up and filed out of the room. As they opened the door they were met by Jane in the doorway carrying a steaming cup of coffee. The men yielded to her respectfully as she passed before they exited the room.

Jane McHenry was the sheriff’s assistant, a smart looking woman in her early thirties with shoulder length, dark hair. It was very hard to ignore how well Jane filled out the uniform, but she had long ago earned the respect of every man on the force with her efficiency and work ethic.

Graduating college with a degree in law enforcement, as well as having graduated from the police academy, she was highly qualified…even over qualified for her current position. There was of course one other reason why the deputies respected her to such a degree…she was the sheriff’s daughter.

Listed on the rolls as a deputy, Lean McHenry considered his daughter much more then that. She was actually his secret weapon, as he depended on her to handle everything that he couldn’t or wouldn’t do. Catching the movement of her approach out of the corner of his eye, he rolled back in his seat and placed his dangling cigarette behind his ear, relaxing instantly at the sight of his favorite deputy.

Setting the cup down in front the sheriff, she took an empty chair across the table and sat down.

“That’s your fifth cup since you got here this morning,” she stated with a firm tone. “Your pending heart attack is not going to help this investigation.”

Smiling at the rebuke, he assured her that he would try to control his intake the rest of the day.

“Tucker and Larry have been assigned to the prosecutor’s task force until we can crack this case open.” The sheriff remarked with a grim smile. “Make sure that the paperwork gets filed, and get with Jason to re-arrange the schedule to cover their shifts, please,” the sheriff asked.

Jane was the only one in the office that could get a please out of the sheriff.

“Sure thing, sheriff,” Jane said with a smile, “Anything else I can do… Dad?” Her face grew more serious as she spoke.

She knew he hadn’t been the same since her mother had died about six months before…complications of a long bout with Lupus. She knew her dad had a rough exterior, but he was probably hurting inside from the loss of his wife of thirty five years.

Waving away her concerns, he said he was fine, just wanting to get to the bottom of this business.

“Tell you what,” he continued, “when this is over, lets go up to Michigan to fish, like we did when you were little. A vacation,” he finished with a smile.

“Sounds like a plan,” she smiled back, standing up and heading back to her desk. “I expect to be seeing maps and plans in the next couple of weeks,” she called over her shoulder as she exited through the door.

Sheriff McHenry hoped like hell he would be able to keep that schedule.

 

Chapter 10

February 18, 1997

 

I had arrived at the office the next morning determined to get to the bottom of something…
anything
for that matter. As I set out my work on the conference table, Frank walked in with two steaming cups of coffee, setting one in front of me. Sitting back, we both took a moment to enjoy the brew before getting down to business.

I had had a lousy night, waking up repeatedly to showings of my dream from yesterday, the bags under my eyes a testament to my sleeplessness. Although my strange dreams involving the mysterious room had usually panned out in the past, I was still skeptical.

Thinking about the last part of the dream, I asked Frank if he had heard anything from the Coroner yet.

“Doc Elliot has assured me he will have something for us this morning,” Frank stated while looking down at his notes. Looking back up quickly he added “The old cuss literally threw me out of his office yesterday; said he would have the report when he had the report, and not a moment sooner.”

Doc Elliot was a local retired physician, having practiced in the community for over fifty years. Now in his eighties, he had run for the Coroner’s position just to have something to do. That, and the Republican Party couldn’t find anyone else that wanted it.

Of course, being a Coroner in southern Indiana is usually more title than action, the Doc spending most of his time holding court at the Legion.

“Let’s take a walk, I’d like visit the good Doctor,” I said as I stood up. “I have a couple of questions to ask him.”

Walking the three blocks to the Coroner’s lab, a concrete-block room in the basement of the old city clinic, we walked right in and helped ourselves to the ever-present pot of coffee.

Having heard us in the office, Doc Elliot leaned in through the swinging doors of the lab to see who is interrupting his quiet.

“Well if it ain’t Frick and Frack, the prosecutor’s red-headed step sons. You boys are on the wrong side of town; I just sent the report over to the powers that be.”

I held out my hand, smiling at my old friend as I clasped the still strong grip in mine. As the Doctor on hand when I entered this world, a fact that is repeatedly brought to light in his presence, I had known Doc Elliot almost longer than my own mother.

Giving him the once over, it amazed me how little he had changed in all of these years. Always in suspenders with glasses pushed up on his forehead, his bushy mustache and eyebrows had not altered in the last thirty years.

“You got a copy we can peruse for a moment,” I asked, “There is something I need to check.”

Shuffling slightly, he walked over to an old file cabinet, opening the top drawer and pulling out a file.

“Didn’t find much you don’t already know. Shot from the rear, bullet in and out,” he added with finality. “Anything in particular you looking for?” he asked, eyebrows rising questioningly.

“Did you come across anything on the woman’s neck, a red mark or scrape?” 

Doc Elliot cocked his head slightly while giving me a funny squint. Pulling his glasses down on his nose, he opened the file, looking for a detail on the body diagram.

Setting the folder down on the examining table, he pulled off his glasses, using them for a pointer while indicating the notation next to the neck on the diagram.

“Small red abrasion on the right side of her neck, barely a quarter inch long. Now tell me, Kreskin, how did you even know to ask that, and what’s your interest?”

Trying to act as nonchalant as possible, I told him it was just a hunch. As to what it meant, I as yet had no idea.

He grunted while closing the file, asking if I was done with it. I replied that I was and thanked him for his time.

“You know where I’ll be if you need me,” he replied as he gathered his jacket and headed for the door. “Chicken wings, three for a dollar at the Legion,” he said smiling, holding his hand up in a wave as he left.

BOOK: Murder! Too Close To Home
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