Book Four: Part 8 - Rhyming Evil - Chapter 1
A writer returns to Montie to do more than autograph another book. Carter may be biting off more than he can chew.
Riddles are being left at the Twenty-Second. Riddles, that in the beginning aren’t difficult to figure out, but the more riddles left, the more dangerous things become. As it continues, Baker understands a human life is at stake. But whose? Will there be enough time to save this person’s life and put an end to the riddles; once and for all?
A commitment of love begins for two people. Two others feel they have found a beginning toward a lasting relationship. Still, there are two other people who decide to take commitment a step further. There will be other relationships that begin and end all too soon.
A fire happens off Highway 60 toward Stanhouse. A house burns down, or did it? Was there anything there to begin with?
Lee Austin (former military returns home), and twin-brother of Ricky Austin, who, along with his wife, were brutally murdered. Lee sets his sights on finding their killer.
Somewhere, as always, Freddy will be around.
Dianne looked up and saw a doctor standing at the edge of the waiting room. She got off her chair, slowly followed by everyone else who was with her.
“He is a very fortunate man. All three bullets went out the back. None of the major arteries were hit. He is a resilient individual. He did lose quite a lot of blood, but we’ve given him three pints of blood via a transfusion.
“He is still in serious, but stable condition. I advise he not have,” he looked around the waiting room, “too many visitors for at least three days. We are going to keep him at least thirty days to monitor his progress and to make certain all steps we took, do not change course. By then, or during that period, we can determine if and when he can go home.
“With exercise, a sensible diet, Officer Prescott should be up and walking around by the end of September and able to return to work by December.”
Dianne breathed a sigh of relief. The entourage behind her were smiling, clapping one another on the shoulder. A few even shed grateful tears.
Dianne walked up to Baker and said, “God, has the best hands, doesn’t he?”
A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body;
jealousy is like cancer in the bones. Proverbs 14: 30
Chaos of thought and passion, all confused;
Still by himself abused or disabused;
Created half to rise, and half to fall;
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurled, —
The glory, jest, and riddle of the world.
Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
There are all types of cancer inside people. Some can be removed by surgeons;
others, if you really believe, removed from God.
Then there are those who need it removed by me.
And that’s no riddle. That’s a fact.
Friday - June 22nd
The Squad Room – 8:29 a.m.
“You all have your rotations for this quarter. That should keep you from being bored. The good things, we haven’t had any issues the last couple of months, and I’m sure we are all happy with that. Hopefully, we can keep this streak going.”
“Baker,” spoke up, Davis, “how much longer will it be before Ed shows his ugly mug back around here?”
“Can’t answer that one, Davis. Maybe another week or two, maybe longer. He’s been busy with therapy and his classes, but I’ll let him know you asked about him.
“Now, if there isn’t anything else; then get out there and be safe, and keep our streets safe.”
Once the team thinned out, Baker got herself a cup of mud-pie coffee from the machine, went into her office, sat at her desk, and began going through some paperwork. After ten minutes of staring at the words on paper, she sat back and mulled over the last several weeks.
After the harrowing DVD she watched, along with Ed and Satchell, a few days went by before she was ready to steel her nerves and get back into her cop-mom-wife mode again.
She remembered the call. 3:56 p.m. A reunion of sorts was to take place. A relative had been located.
It had been nice having Leon around for a few weeks, and Stevie was becoming used to having him around, but everyone knew it was temporary.
It was on a Monday, the twenty-eighth day of May, when Lynetta Odell Mason, a large, black woman with a robust laugh and toothy smile, she drove all the way up from Tomahawk, North Carolina, to get Leon. She was his aunt, his mother’s sister. Though they were never close over the last ten years, “Family is family,” was how Lynetta put it. She thanked Baker for watching over Leon.
As they drove away, Leon sat in the backseat waving goodbye as he cried quietly. What he saw in return were three arms waving goodbye; two people with tears in their eyes, the third, feeling both Baker’s and Stevie’s grief and instant loss.
But, as they say, life moved on.
Moving her mental camera forward, she saw Ed making his final preparations for surgery, a transplant that wouldn’t be done until June fourth, but on May thirtieth, saw the changing of the guard.
Sergeant Dewey McDaley was stepping down from duty. Not one man or woman who worked at the Twenty-Second, could hide their sadness at seeing him leave, but at the same time, there were smiles, and well-wishes made at seeing Dewey finally getting his turn to enjoy life.
A small gathering was held outside the Twenty-Second with local news coverage as Satchell spoke to the press.
“It is my honor, and privilege, to give both this gold watch, and it really is gold,” the crowd laughed, “to a former police officer and good friend, Sergeant Dewey McDaley. Also, on behalf of the Mayor, and City Council, this check for $10,000.” Satchell looked at Dewey as he walked to the podium, stuck out his arms an unashamedly, wrapped them around Dewey, giving him a strong hug.
Dewey turned to the crowd, saying, “I’ve seen four mayors’ and five captains’ since I’ve been here. I have worked with some of the best men and women in blue that’s walked in and out of the Twenty-Second. I’m very proud to say I could have never found a better class of brother’s and sister’s on the face of the earth. And I’ve watched the best and brightest, buried, to keep our city safe, and respectable. Now, it’s time for me to stand down, let some new blood take over, and go out and enjoy the years ahead of me. But, if it weren’t for those who went on before me, and for those who stand around me now, I would probably have never had much of a future to enjoy.” Dewey turned to look at the building and said, “Thank you, Number 22, and thank you to all those you hold dear to me. I thank you all.”
If you had been there, and didn’t feel your heart tugged on, then you weren’t human.
Satchell made two more announcements. One, that Antony Spinelli would be reassigned from night desk duty clerk to day shift and promoted to Sergeant. He also named John Marchetti as the new property clerk, although he was a transplant from the Stanhouse PD.
And so, a month ended without a bang.
When the weekend passed, Baker, Stevie, Ellie, her parents, Satchell, and other officers, would pop in and out over the course of the day, and being vigilant in their desire to stay close by as Ed went through with the transplant. It was a surgery that was said to be four hours. It lasted, six.
There wouldn’t be any cause for concern. The bionics of the arm took longer than expected to react to human tissue and nerve endings. Besides, Ed was still a bit too groggy to hold a conversation. Baker and Stevie stayed by his bedside in the hospital room until he awoke with a much clearer head.
By that Friday, he was home. Though it was brief, the moment was a tender one, because for the first time since Freddy sliced his arm off with his Bowie knife, Ed could actually put two arms around Baker and hold her.
Things were on the upswing. Ed’s therapy started a week later. “Small steps lead to larger steps,” she heard Mrs. Peterson tell him. Ed was learning. By mid-month he was progressing to where he was almost two months ahead of schedule.
“He is so much like Stevie. Determined to conquer and rise above,” Mrs. Peterson said to her one afternoon.
Coming back to the present world, rummaging through more papers, she took another sip of her mud coffee. “That’s why I married him.”
The Weekend In Montie
Hot. It’s supposed to be hot. It’s almost July.
As people were either at Standing Room Lake swimming, boating, or sunning, other people were on vacation. Thee older folks who did none of the mentioned, stayed indoors and enjoyed their air-conditioner.
Other people were out and about doing something. Playing volleyball, tennis, jogging, having breakfast or a lunch depending on the time, shopping for that one item on sale or a present for an upcoming birthday or wedding anniversary. Yeppers, people were out just doing stuff.
Devon had the weekend off and took his wife, Vanessa, and his daughter, Jenny, to Vermont to see Vanessa’s mother.
J.W. went to the city park, parked his rig, leaving his badge and gun in the glove compartment and locked everything and took a walk until he found a park bench, and just be a people-watcher. Later, he laid out on the grass, and started reading a book titled, “The Doll Maker”. It was supposed to be a frightening story. His kind of read.
About an hour into his day, J.W. spotted a vendor selling hot pretzels, popcorn, and hot corn nuts, and cold drinks. It was the pretzels that informed his stomach he was hungry.
Closing the book, he walked over and with only one person in front of him, waited his turn to order.
Too late to react, the man in front of him turned around too sharply, and being surprised, lost control of both his drink and his pretzel covered with mustard. Both tipped forward where the pretzel pressed against J.W.’s blue polo pullover; the cold drink spilling over the lower part of his shirt and jeans.
“Oh, my God! I am terribly sorry! I feel like such an idiot!”
J.W. just stood there in shocked silence.
The man grabbed several napkins and began to pat down J.W.’s stomach and jeans. J.W. backed away.
“It’s fine. I’ll go home, and put these in the wash.”
“Nonsense. This is my fault. Look, I live a block from here. We look to be about the same height and weight; you can change at my place and wash your clothes there. That way, we can hopefully, get the mustard stain out faster.”
J.W. knew he should have declined the offer, but the guy was right about the stain. Wait too long, and the shirt would be ruined, if it weren’t already.
J.W. walked with the man to the Blake Manor Apartments. Just as they made their way to the front steps, “How rude of me, again. My name is Michael Collins.”
“I’m John Roberts, but everyone calls me, J.W.”
Once inside Michael’s apartment, he took to his bedroom as J.W. followed. and went through his clothes, and threw a pair of blue jeans, and a white button-down polo shirt on the bed.
“Change your clothes so we can get the messy ones in the washer. Do you drink coffee?”
“Yeah. I do.”
“Good.” Michael closed the bedroom door giving J.W. a bit of privacy.
As he was changing, he noticed a few photographs on Michael’s dresser. Michael and an older couple together, possibly his parents. Another of the three of them, but with another man, possibly his brother. They were all smiling. There was another one of Michael and a woman, too young to be his wife. Sister, maybe, or girlfriend.
Michael’s take-charge attitude impressed him. He never could stand a man who acted like a wimp. Whether he was in a relationship or not.
Suddenly, J.W. found himself drawn to Michael, but he paused that thought. Michael was probably spoken for. After all, he is a very good-looking man. The door flew open.
“Great, you’ve finished changing. Let me get your clothes in the washer. Coffee’s ready in the kitchen. Cream and sugar is on the counter. Help yourself. I’ll be with you shortly.”
After two more pots of coffee and endless conversation, J.W. found out the woman in the photo was his sister, who had died two years ago from breast cancer, and the man was a former boyfriend, who moved and taken on a new job in California. It was more important for him to further his career than it was his relationship, was how Michael put it. J.W. was right about the other picture. They were his parents.
J.W. went on to explain why he came to Montie. Between the loss of his parents (years ago), who had suffered heart attacks within seven months of each other, two other best friends, one to drugs, the other, a motorcycle accident, and then the loss of his best friend and lover. He felt he needed a change, a new climate, a new everything.
J.W. and Michael were fast becoming friends, and after J.W.’s closed were washed and dried, he thanked Michael for his kindness.
“At least allow me to repay you for today. Have dinner with me tonight.”
J.W. accepted. As he was headed back to his rig, he thought, “Amazing what mustard can do (the shirt was ruined, but the yellow part was gone) for a person’s day.”
Out at Standing Room Lake, another couple had finally come to terms with each other. A very happy, and excited Johnathan Prescott heard the words, I love you, and yes, I will marry you, from Dianne Andrews.
Dianne felt with all her heart this was the right things to do, to start a new chapter in her life with a good man.
Although not Montie; in New York City, at Seventy-Second and Polk, at the Squire-Inn Restaurant, Patrick was having dinner with Cliff Potter, who, of all people to run into in the Big Apple, also lived and worked in Montie. Cliff managed Baker’s Supermarket.
They met at one of the exclusive gay spas across town, and both instantly recognized one another. It would have been impossible not to, since it was Cliff’s Boxer, that Patrick and Terry managed to save, who happened to be one of many animals shot by Fred Creasy and Bertram Ballmate. Patrick would have never guessed that Cliff was gay. He had an oval-shaped face, tear-dropped shaped eyes. His hairline was receding, and he had a small scar to above his eye, just to the right side. But when he smiled, Patrick couldn’t help but warm to what he was finding out to be a considerate and passionate man. Funny, too. All those attributes that were in Daniel, now sat across a table from him. But could this go further? Time would tell.
Back in Montie, as the weekend would draw to a close, Stevie and Ellie actually said, “I love you”, out loud to each other for the first time. They began talking just not about dating, but college, their career’s, possible marriage, and family.
Baker and Ed, did their best to answer his questions on marriage, of being a father, and all the other things that create the ups and downs of life.
“Sometimes it’s all trial and error, and when it doesn’t compute, delete it and try something else until it does work. Just don’t run off half-cocked into believing you can do everything on your own, because the truth is, you can’t. Every marriage takes two bodies, two minds, two hearts to make it work. It takes honesty, truth, and respect. When any of those break down, then it’s time to reinvent your own life’s wheel.
“Your mother did that, and I’m damned glad of it.
“Just know everything that happens, everything we do, is done on purpose and for a reason. God secretly, I suspect, has our roadmap for life pre-planned, therefore, I don’t believe anything that happens, happens by accident. It’s just that sometimes, we don’t know the reason, or the outcome, until we act and react.”
“Bub, all Ed’s saying is just do the very best you can. It’s all anyone can ask of you; especially of yourself. So far, you have done better than good at being a good you.”
Ellie was at home pretty much hearing the same thing. “We learn from our mistakes and grow because of them.”
And somewhere in a charming and quaint city of Montie, a poet of sorts, was embarking on a journey, which at the moment wasn’t sure how it would end, but the poet would see this adventure through to its finish, no matter how it may end.
Book Four: Part 8 - Rhyming Evil - Chapter 2
Monday – June 25th
The Squad Room – 8:36 a.m.
“This week, we will be involved in severe weather preparedness week. All of the Twenty-Second is on alert. Every police officer on each shift will respond to the triple air-raid signals to assist in getting every person in the downtown district over to the new weather shelter that was completed last week. It’s taken twenty months to complete, and it is designed to hold up to 42,000 people, with a floor thickness of five-hundred feet. The concrete flooring has steel flooring between every fifty feet of depth of concrete poured; so, in the event of an earthquake; that building can prove to be the safest place to be in an emergency. In due time, the object is to have every resident in Montie during an emergency, to be placed inside that building.
“There are dozens of stations within the building containing fresh water, and dozens of port-o-potties on hand. Of course, we have no way of really knowing if the building will hold up or not, but the Mayor and city council members don’t want another surprise like the one that happened when the president was here.
“When you hear the air-raid signals, each of you have your set area to go to, to get every employee, or shopper, to the building in a timely fashion. We have four hours to get everyone there. The workers and residents have no idea when it will begin, but we do. Ten to two. That’s your heads up for today. Tomorrow, that time will change.
“For this reason, during those hours, stay within your designated area I have mapped out for you. The other two shifts will also have their assigned areas as well. We need to pull this off with the least amount of problems. Those we do not get to the building within that four hours, and let me make this clear; not 2:01 or 2:02, but precisely at two, those people would be considered casualties, or for all intents and purposes … dead. Let’s concentrate on getting them there, alive.
“When this is over for the day, routes will run as normal. If there are no questions, then get out there and stay safe, and keep our streets safe.”
As teams separated, Spinelli walked up to Baker.
“I found this taped to the front doors this morning when I came in. Captain Page is with the Mayor, so I’ll just pass it over to you.”
Baker looked at the envelope in Spinelli’s hand.
“Who did you relieve?”
“Taylor. He said he didn’t see a soul around last night. The only way he’d miss someone is if he went to the bathroom.”
“Okay, thanks, Spinelli.” Baker took the lightweight envelope from his hands and walked to her office and sat behind her desk.
This wasn’t Freddy. On the front were cut out words pasted. ‘For the person in charge’. It was sealed shut.
“Oh, please, don’t let this be a problem.”
Already knowing the envelope was contaminated (Spinelli wasn’t wearing gloves), she opened it, turned it upside down and shook it until a single folded sheet fell out. Before doing anything else, she opened her bottom right-hand drawer, and reached inside a box for two latex gloves, and slipped them on, then she unfolded the letter.
It started out: Do you like to fiddle? Doesn’t matter, here is your first riddle. From me to thee, watch for an old wall to suddenly fall. Hey diddle-diddle, such an easy riddle.
At the bottom there were more words. You can be sure more riddles will come. You have until Friday to figure this one and others to be sent. And remember this … someone down the road will die. My, my, my, how time will fly. The key is to get the riddles solved with little to no strife. Once you do, you may be able to save a life.
Except for the riddle itself; it was signed with the letter R, and not unlike all the other letters that were cut and pasted from newspapers and magazines.
Rather odd riddle, she thought. What wall will fall? And by Friday? Baker had no idea who was playing this guessing game, but the last line made her raise her eyebrows. Someone will die. Just not this Friday.
She got on her cell and punched in 23. The other end rang twice.
“Crime Lab, Huey Marx here.”
“Hello, Huey, this is Baker.”
“Hey girl, how are things?”
“Never better, I hope.”
“Uh-oh, what’s up?”
“I have a letter I’m going to drop off in twenty for you. Feel free to read, but run it through for prints. The envelope is any good.”
“Alrighty. If anything is there, I’ll know soon enough.”
“Thanks, Huey. See you shortly.”
Downtown Montie – 10:00 a.m.
The air-raid signal went off as scheduled, and eighty-two police cars, five ambulances, and the Montie Fire Department went into action. Things were running like a well-oiled machine. Or was it?
While people were being evacuated from stores, the courthouse, city hall and the like; crosstown, a small device on a timer was attached to the back of a burned-out wall from the textile mill. The device, (according to instructions found on the Internet) would be strong enough to blow a roof off of a house. The wall would be a cinch, and it can be detonated by remote timer once in place. The person who left it there could only marvel at the things you can learn on a computer these days. The timer was set to off in ninety-six hours—Friday noon.
It was by noon when Baker got her answer from Huey. No prints on the letter.
By 5:50, the Chief Fire Marshal, Stan Henley, the head administrator for ambulance services, Captain Page and Baker were all called into the city council chambers.
They found out that if today had been a real evacuation, 113 lives would have been lost. They were all volunteers who agreed to hide in various places, such as storage closets, under desks, and in the backseat of cars.
They would do it again tomorrow.
The Baker-Manning Home
111 Homestead Lane – 6:23 p.m.
After a casual, put-it-together-yourself evening meal, Baker and Ed sat outside in the back yard, sipping from glasses filled with white zinfandel, and discussing their day.
“I have two assignments that need to be turned in by Friday. Three pages typed on the Monroe Doctrine, and the other paper, with a self-analytical look at the O.J. Simpson trial.
“I’ll be so glad when I can get over to Brighton University and start tackling real books. Within a year online and at Brighton, and I’ll be caught up enough I can take my bar exam either in January or February of next year.”
“Not that far away. This year is breezing by. Before too long, you’ll be coming home with a law-degree and a shingle to hang on the front door saying attorney-for-hire.”
“Does have a good ring to it, but I think a real office would be better than working out of the house. Enough about me; how did your day go what with the air-raid signals I heard?”
“It went great. Had a prank letter come to the Twenty-Second today, and a hundred and thirteen people died by two this afternoon.
Ed practically choked on his wine.
“Say that again? A hundred and thirteen people! What happened? I didn’t hear anything in the news about this.”
Baker grabbed a Kleenex-tissue from a box from a portable stand to her left, and laughing, handed it to Ed.
“It was our first day of testing the air-raid signal and defense measure put in place and our reaction time in saving lives. We got everyone to safety, except for the hundred and thirteen. They were people who volunteered to hide on us on purpose. We’ll be better prepared tomorrow.”
“What about the prank letter?”
“Hold on. Be right back. It’s still in my purse.”
As Baker crossed the backyard patio area, the front door opened as Stevie walked in.
“Hi, Stevie. Did you and Ellie have a good time at the lake?”
“Yes. We spent the day at the lake in her dad’s speedboat. It was pretty cool.”
“I’m glad you two enjoyed your time together, but if you want, Ed’s out back, and I’m about to go back, if you want to join us.”
“Okay. Let me shower, change clothes and make a sandwich and I’ll be out then.”
Stevie headed to his room and Baker went back outside and handed Ed the strange letter she received today.
“I let Satch read it after our city council meeting earlier tonight. He agrees with me. Besides no prints, it makes no sense.”
Ed read the note three times.
“An old wall will fall. I’m guessing a building is coming down soon, or already has. And if my guess is right, each clue you get, will get you closer to whoever it is that will die; and guessing again, when you get the last riddle, your job will be to know who and when. But you are right about this one. It’s as vague as it can get.”
“Hi, Ed. What’s vague?”
“Hey, Stevie. Oh, just a riddle your mom got at work today?”
“Are you telling me, I’m here with the two greatest minds since Sherlock Holmes and Perry Mason, and you two haven’t figured out a riddle?” Stevie grinned at Ed, and winked at mom.
“Probably doesn’t mean anything anyway.”
“Maybe, maybe not, Jan. Come Friday, you’ll know if this was just a harmful prank or not.”
Stevie asked to see the note, then read it twice and said, “You know, right now there’s only a couple walls I can think of that are still standing, that are old I mean. The old diner out on 60, and that one wall from the fire at the textile mill.”
“True, Stevie,” agreed Baker. “That wall is to be torn down sometime next week. The only reason it hasn’t come down sooner; all the paperwork involved between Albany and here. Pure bureaucratic BS is all it was. They even sent their own fire inspector down here. Just another way to waste taxpayer money.”
“Mom? Are we watching a movie tonight?”
Baker looked at Ed.
“There’s a movie in the DVD as I speak. Might be a bit hokie, but they were stupid-funny when I was growing up. It’s that new Three Stooges movie.”
“What are you two waiting for? I’ll get the popcorn started, mom.”
“All right. I’ll pour the cold drinks,” grinned Baker.
“I’ll watch the movie and eat all the popcorn!”
Stevie yelled out, “I heard that, Ed! Not gonna happen. At least not by yourself!”
Book Four: Part 8 - Rhyming Evil - Chapter 3
Tuesday – June 26th
The Squad Room – 8:28 a.m.
“So, now you all know. Once you get everyone you can see out of the buildings, look in places for those you can’t see. The ones we missed yesterday, would have been considered severely injured, or dead. And none of us want dead on our watch.
“Today, and for the rest of the week, look three times harder. Get everyone out alive and into that shelter.
“That’s it. Beyond the drill, yesterday was quiet. Let’s hope we can keep it that way. So, if there are no questions, get out there and be safe, and keep our streets safe.”
Baker’s cell phone rang.
“Hi ’ya, bub. What’s up?”
“Nothing much, but you remember that writer that was at Sallie’s Emporium about a year or so ago?”
“I know who you mean, but I can’t remember his name. Why?”
“I just saw in the paper today that he’s coming back to Sallie’s. He’ll be doing another autograph session, signing copies for his newest book, ‘Road to the Other Side’. And his name is Edward Carter, mom.”
“I remember him now. He was there during an attempted robbery. Let me guess. That’s where you would be if I need to find you, if I had to go looking for you.”
“He will be here tomorrow from two to five. And, if I wouldn’t be there, I’d be with Ellie, or at home.”
“I know. Let me ask you one last time though; are you sure you’re okay with not being on the baseball team?”
“I’m good with it, mom. My head means just as much to me as it does you. Besides, come the fall, I can still help Coach with the basketball plays. I’d be just as happy on the sidelines as I would be on the court. So really, it doesn’t bother me.”
“As long as you’re sure. I don’t ever want you to think we would deny you anything that would bring you happiness.”
“Mom, I’m good, really I am. Anyway, when you get home tonight, can I have thirty dollars so I can get his new book and autograph again?”
“Here I thought you called because you miss your mom.”
“Mom? Please. You know you are always number one in my life.”
“Good comeback, Stevie. The money won’t be a problem. Where are you off to today?”
“Back to the lake with Ellie. She’s packed a lunch and we are going to hang out there for a few hours, but her mom and dad invited me over for dinner tonight.”
“Don’t ask; you can go. We’ll see you tonight if you don’t get back late.”
“You rock, mom. I love you!”
“I love ….”
Gone with the wind.
City Council Chambers – 4:17 p.m.
Baker, Satchell, Stan Henley, and the Chief Fire Marshal, all sat around the glass desk-top as they faced the city council members and heard the numbers.
Councilman Wayne Salor said, “Not bad. But we still need improvement.”
Mayor Jean Marsh, added, “The numbers were much better, far better than we hoped for. The law of averages tells us that during an earthquake or flooding’s, or any form of natural disaster; such as hurricanes, tornados, and even electrical storms, two to five percent of the population of any given city will either be severely injured, or result in death.
“Here, in Montie, taking those stats into accordance, that would mean 3,700 lives in an about Montie would be at severe risk. Per capita, we are at a higher risk of loss than any other city in the state, except for Buffalo, Albany, and of course, New York City.
“But we did do better today. Except for thirty-one people, we saved many lives today. Tomorrow is day three. Let’s work even harder and lower that number even more.”
Millard Arms Estate – 5:45 p.m.
In a house on Murphy Lane, fingers fly across a keyboard trying to get a copy of the plans for the easiest access inside Montie’s High School Band Room.
Bottom room behind the school. No windows within public view. All that would be needed are sturdy boots to break the glass, gloves to open the window for easy-in, easy-out. One roll of toilet paper, and next Thursday night, the school would be hit, and riddle number two would be in place.
Closing out blueprints.com, the mouse scrolled over an icon that went directly to Facebook, and then over to Twitter. Looking at the wall clock, there wasn’t time left to do anything but shut down the computer and get ready for the evening as it has been for years.
But changes are coming. Big changes. Permanent changes.
Rastabella’s Eatery – 7:45 p.m.
As neither couple were aware of at least one other couple in the restaurant; Patrick and Cliff, grabbed a table for two in a semi-lit area of the dining room. Cliff ordered the spaghetti and meatballs, where Patrick, ordered the manicotti.
In more toward the center of the dining room, sat both Michael and J.W. Both ordered the lasagna. Oddly enough, both tables ordered cheese sticks for appetizers. Neither couple ordered any wine, beer, or other spirits.
It was when they were halfway through their meals, did J.W. happen to glance up and notice Patrick. It was just a glancing look, but his eyes kept looking Patrick’s way.
“If I’m boring you, J.W., just say so.”
“I’m sorry. What were you saying?”
“You keep looking at Mr. Davenport. He owns and operates the animal clinic. You keep staring at him. Do you find him attractive, or more to your liking?”
“No. That wasn’t why I was, I guess, staring. I just remember him from another time that isn’t registering in my head right now. I’m not attracted to the man, for god’s sake. It’s my cop instinct kicking in. It happens now and then.”
“I see. Because he too, is gay. If he weren’t, he wouldn’t be with Cliffy. He is such a bottom. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Davenport gives up on him in a few weeks.”
“How do you know so much about him?”
“We dated a few years ago. As you may have learned, Montie isn’t exactly a mega-plex for gay pride. There are less than four dozen gay men and lesbians in the entire county.
“We aren’t shunned or ridiculed mind you, but neither do we openly flaunt ourselves. Not good for business, shall we say.”
J.W. took another quick glance and then he remembered. He explained to Michael about the car accident and where Daniel Watson was killed, and how Mr. Davenport came with Daniel’s mother, so she could identify her son.
“Sounds to me like there is more to that tragic ending you don’t know. I’m willing to put my years of courtroom experience on the line, and say that Mr. Davenport and that Daniel Watson, were in all likelihood, were living together, and lovers.”
“Maybe, but that didn’t concern me then, and it doesn’t now. Right now, I’m off cop-mode, and my attention is focused on dinner, and us.”
From across the way, Cliff couldn’t see what Patrick could see because his back faced J.W.’s direction. Patrick remembered the man who kept looking in his direction, and it dawned on him, he was one of two policemen originally on the scene at Daniel’s accident. Patrick motioned his head, asking Cliff, if he knew the two men who were having dinner together.
Cliff turned for a quick look.
“The one, is Michael Collins. He’s an Assistant D.A. for the county. A bit of a horse’s ass, too. Acts all high and mighty, but he screams like a little girl when he gets his.”
Patrick smiled somewhat.
“I take it you two were an item before.”
“Yes, and he was too much for me to handle with his ball-busting attitude. Everything had to be his way, or out the door you went. After some time with him, I walked out the door. That was almost three years ago. Good riddance, I say. He was such a controlling bitch.
“The other one, I don’t know him. He’s new.”
I know him, thought Patrick. Maybe he could get him to have lunch with him and just talk. Maybe there is something about Daniel, he forgot to mention.
“Hello? Patrick? Come back to earth, please.”
“Sorry. I went into a zone just then.”
They finished their dinner and decided on a dish of Raspberry and a dish of Butter-Pecan ice-cream. When Patrick next looked up, the police officer, and the attorney, Michael, were gone.
Looking at his own watch, he saw it was going on 10:30. The time had evaporated. He also remembered he had an employee meeting at 8:30 in the morning, and he had to be sharp as a blade for it.
With dessert finished, Patrick drove Cliff back to his home, parked the car in Cliff’s driveway, the engine still running.
“What? You aren’t coming in?” It sounded more an accusation that a question.
“Forgive me, but I have a meeting with my staff in the morning and I need to make sure I’m bright-eyed and aware. Fresh as a daisy, too.”
Cliff put on his best pouting face.
“Another night, then. I so want us to be in bed together, Patrick. We can be so good for each other.”
“Maybe another night, Cliff. But not anytime soon, at least not yet. Please. I’m willing for us to get to know each other better, but it’s only been a short time for me. I don’t hop into bed because someone is cute. Besides, I still have feelings for Daniel.”
“That’s fine. Call me tomorrow, Daniel, and let’s do lunch.”
Cliff unhooked his seat belt, leaned toward Patrick, and kissed him briefly on the lips. He tried to worm his tongue inside, but Patrick pulled away.
“I’ll call tomorrow. Sleep well, Cliff.”
Once Cliff was out of the car, Patrick drove home, undressed, showered, brushed his teeth, then slid 8under the covers. Just before he turned the light on the nightstand, he glanced at Daniel’s picture.
“I can almost hear you yelling at me to drop him. I probably will. I’m still missing you. Goodnight, Daniel.”
Before he was rooted deeply into la-la land, he would make it a point that one day this week, he would talk with that cop again.
Book Four: Part 8 - Rhyming Evil - Chapter 4
Wednesday – June 27th
The Squad Room – 8:36 a.m.
“As you can see, we are doing better.”
“Jeeze-Louise, Baker,” cried Devon. “This is just what it is; practice runs. If something like this really happened, do you honestly believe we could realistically keep everyone alive? That’s asking us to do the impossible.”
“I understand your point, and you are probably right. What I believe is that everyone in this room would do all they could to save as many lives as possible in a real-time situation. Being real, I am asking that you do the very best you can during practice, and if this ever does happen, then step it up a notch. When this thing is over, it will be Captain Page and myself that will take the heat if this doesn’t fill what the city council’s wants and needs.
“Once they finish the last addition inside the shelter, along with the air-conditioner ducts; if that can’t keep people alive during any kind of catastrophe, nothing we can help with, will.
“This is only practice. To teach the citizens of Montie when an actual alert is sounded; they know what to do, and where to go in the quickest and safest way possible. Keep in mind, next week, residents from our different suburbs will have an allotted time to reach the shelter as well. Some, will be helped by us; others will come in on their own. For that, traffic control will be in full force to give directions where to go.
“Everyone is being mailed a preparedness guide with a map and contact information. And the Mayor has expressed that the shelter itself should be completed within the next five to six weeks. Once it is; in case of a real emergency; we will do all we can to assist residents and businesses; but everyone will pretty much be on their own to get to the shelter when the air-raid warning sounds.
“If you have checked your inbox, you know your new rotation for today. Any questions?”
“All right, then. Let’s get out there and be safe, and keep our streets safe.”
The Animal Clinic – 11:23 a.m.
Devon and J.W. walked into the animal clinic and informed all employees it was time to evacuate the building.
They went from room to room, office to office. When J.W. came to one door, he saw the name Patrick Davenport, the same person he saw last night. Opening the door, he saw Patrick standing, grabbing a bag of potato chips, and a cell phone to his ear.
“On my way, Terry. I heard the police.”
“Excuse me, Mr. Davenport, but you have to hurry, please.”
Looking up, he walked quickly to the hall and in doing so, spied the metal nameplate on J.W.’s shirt.
“Officer Roberts, if, if it is at all possible, could you stop by my office later this afternoon? There is something I need to speak with you about.”
“It would have to be after five, unless it is police business, but right now, we have to get you out of here and over to the shelter.”
“After five would be good. In my office, then?”
J.W. agreed, believing his office would make for a neutral meeting.
After the evacuation of the animal clinic, J.W. and Devon searched the entire building again, and found four people hiding behind partitions in two of the animal housing areas, and another, no less, in a cage between four homeless dogs.
Finished there, they went to seven other businesses, one deli, and a bank. They managed to find three other people hiding on purpose. Looking at their watches, J.W. and Devon knew they still had another hour and eleven minutes before the practice run would be finished for the day.
Sallie’s Emporium – 2:45 p.m.
Stevie stood in line with Ellie as he waited to get Edward Carter’s latest book signed by him. Five people were ahead of him.
“So, this is the guy you spent thirty dollars on a book for? Is the guy that good?”
“He is Ellie. His last one, ‘The Devil In Shadows’ is his last of a four-book series in Shadow Masters, his ghost hunter series.”
“I’m not into the dark side, Luke,” she grinned.
Finally, Stevie stepped up to the desk, when Edward Carter, without looking up, reached his hand out for a book to sign. Still not looking up, the opening page awaiting words, a pen in Carter’s hand, he said, “What would you like me to write.”
“Oh, how about, Ellie, I do think you will enjoy this book. Give it try.”
Ellie poked Stevie in his side, and then Edward looked up.
“This must be the young lady in question, and … wait a second; I remember you. It was here, almost a year ago. I signed one of my books for you. Your mother is a police officer, correct? She arrested two people who tried to rob this bookstore.”
“You have a good memory, Mr. Carter. I guess you being a writer and all that; have a good memory plays a pretty big role in what you write.”
“It does help, but trust me, a good imagination is the key.”
“Mr. Carter, please don’t write in there what Stevie asked you to write. Forgive me, but I’m not into reading horror stories.”
“That’s perfectly all right, miss, I understand.”
Glancing back to Stevie, he bent his head to the book and began writing. Then he looked up and handed the book to Stevie.
Stevie opened the inside flap and smiled. The inscription read: From one good friend to another. Best Wishes, Eddie C.
“Thanks, Mr. Carter. This means a lot to me.”
“No, Stevie, thank you, and thank your mother for me. She saved many lives that day, including my own.”
They shook hands, and Stevie and Ellie left Sallie’s, got into Stevie’s car, and he drove her home.
Edward Carter, ever since that incident a year ago, had been keeping tabs on Montie, and what had been happening in the city ever since. Though he was scheduled to be in Erie in two days for another book signing, Edward also had plans of writing a non-fiction book about the exploits that go on, in, around Montie. He still had permissions to secure, but he felt when this tour was over, he could spend the fall into most of the winter; putting together a blockbuster read. But to do that, he still had to talk with the Mayor, the Chief of Police, members of any crime units, the DA and perhaps most of all, the boy’s mother.
Since the first book in his series was picked up for filming in September, with a possible release the following spring, Edward Carter believed he would write Montie’s story so well, that it too would make him a millionaire a hundred times over.
He kept smiling at the thought as he signed another three books in a row. He knew he was sitting in the middle of a goldmine.
And it was all his.
Davenport Animal Clinic – 5:09 p.m.
Someone knocked on Patrick’s door, and he yelled from his side, “It’s open.”
In stepped J.W., dressed in civilian clothes, and Patrick couldn’t help but appreciate the change in his appearance from professional to just Joe-Citizen, at least for the moment.
Motioning to a chair, J.W. sat, crossed right leg over left, smiled slightly and asked, “Mr. Davenport, what exactly did you want to speak with me about?”
“Several months ago, and I know I can say this with clarity that you can understand, my best friend, life partner and lover, was killed in an accidental car crash. You, and whoever your partner was or is, were originally on the scene at that time.”
The understanding of clarity Patrick spoke of, was grasped quickly by J.W., after seeing one another in Rastabella’s.
“You’ll have to forgive me, but I have been involved in a lot of cases, sometimes it’s difficult to pull a specific one out of my head. If you could give me his name, and date of birth, I can check our data-base and get you any particulars.”
“His name was … is, Daniel Watson. Born May 2nd, 1961. And please, once you check, if there is anything, anything at all that might trigger a memory, or perhaps a few last words he may have said, anything; I would very much like to know.”
“I’ll do what I can, Mr. Davenport. I can’t guarantee anything will just pop up in my head.”
“I understand, Mr. Roberts. It has been a while.
“Here is my card. It has the office number with both my home and cell phone numbers. Please, call me whether you remember anything or not. I just need to know is all. Call it my own personal closure.”
“I understand. Been there myself. Losing your partner never goes away, but given time, it does seem to settle in a place that we pull out from time to time to revisit all of the best of times shared in life.”
“Nicely put. Thank you for coming by, and again, anything at all you might find or remember will be a great assistance to me.”
Both men stood, shook hands, and their eyes locked briefly.
J.W. then turned and walked out of Patrick’s office, back to his rig and went home.
Patrick sat behind his desk and before he left for home that night, he thought two things: he hoped J.W. would find something, and if he hadn’t already met, he would certainly be attracted to J.W.
Best Western – 5:26 p.m.
Edward Carter hung up the motel phone in his room after speaking with Mayor Marsh. He was able to set up an impromptu meeting with her, a couple city council members, and was assured that Captain Page and Lieutenant Baker, and former Detective Manning would also attend.
Carter had strong hopes of getting permissions. He had a dozen forms to be signed to relinquish permission for any information that would not be deemed detrimental, demeaning, or harmful to anyone in any way. And Carter would express his assurance that no police work that was still under investigation would be used.
But Montie is filled with explosive stories waiting for an audience to read, and he was just the man to make sure they were read.
Book Four: Part 8 - Rhyming Evil - Chapter 5
Thursday – June 28th
The Squad Room – 8:33 a.m.
“I’m happy to report for a change that no lives were lost during yesterday’s mock recovery sweep. For the record, council members do know that not every person in the event of an earthquake or any other severe weather may not survive, but with our search procedures in place, we can help save more lives that would otherwise be lost.
“We have today and tomorrow, then it’s over. Let’s make them both like yesterday. One thing about this; this will be done one week a year, every year. By then, hopefully, when the air-raid signal goes off, everyone will know to go directly there.
“I know, I know, I can see it in your faces; there will be a few out there a few brain cells shy of having a brain cell and forget; but keep in mind, when you put on that badge, you took an oath to serve, protect, and defend. It’s who you are, who we all are. It’s what we do, no matter what.
“If no one has any questions … then get out there and stay safe, and keep our streets safe.”
City Council Board Room Meeting – 9:16 a.m.
Mayor Marsh, three city council members, Baker, Ed, and Satchell, were all seated around a long cherry-wood desk, polished so well, you could almost use it as a mirror to comb your hair.
Coffee and doughnuts were on both ends of the table along with cream, sugar, and napkins. After everyone made their coffee, grabbed a doughnut or two, Edward Carter stepped into the room and took a seat next to Mayor Marsh, who began to speak.
“I asked for this meeting this morning because of this gentleman, Edward Carter. We spoke briefly last night, and I listened to his proposal, or idea, and find it fascinating.”
She turned to Carter.
“Why don’t you tell everyone, please.”
Carter stood, moving his hands and arms as he spoke.
“Over a year ago, I was in your city, autographing my last novel and was caught in the middle of a dangerous situation. A situation that you,” Carter pointed to Baker, “took care of in a very professional manner, and saved lives; mine being one of them, of which I assure you, I will be forever grateful.
“Since then to now, I have kept up with everything that has gone on both before, and since that day, and have found it fascinating, as well as incredible with everything that has happened in Montie.
“I have made several outlines of Montie and the city’s history as I have with recent events, and quite frankly, I would love to do a biographical write on Montie, with not just how this city came into being, but how you have grown, and prospered; but also, how you have managed to keep Montie a safe and warm place to live. I want to write about the realness of those who live here, who work here.”
There was a brief silence as Satchell spoke.
“Don’t forget those who died here. They are part of that realness you were speaking of.”
“Of course, Captain Page. I would be remiss in telling a truth and leave out those who gave their lives to protect others.”
Then it was Baker’s turn.
“I have a job I do I take very seriously. Personally, I wish you wouldn’t write this book, Mr. Carter. Books like this do one of three things: draws in spectators who want to rub elbows with so-called hero’s. We aren’t hero’s; we are people who know the risks we take every day and still go out there and do our job. It is what we are trained to do. Second, it brings in the Hollywood people who want to build on your book with actors that can create problems for us real life people, and usually never get that realness you mentioned, right. Last, there is always a certain percentage of people that will read a book like this, and imagine they can see a hole, a leak, a weak chain in our city’s defenses and want to try us. See if they can get away clean. This usually ends up with injured or very dead real people.
“You will have to excuse me, but I have an evacuation exercise to attend to, and make sure things are secured properly. I’ll let the rest of you here to decide. You already know my feelings on this.”
Baker left the room, the building, and was in her Hummer, counting down the minutes before the evacuation would start.
Inside the Board Room, Ed spoke up.
“I can understand her feelings. Although I am not an active member of the Twenty-Second, I’ll always be reminded of the plaque on the wall next to the front doors you can read when you leave the building. It’s a list of names of men and women who gave their lives to keep this city respectable. Granted, the word hero is used now and then to describe their actions; but they were husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers, and friends. In truth, friends is how I will always remember them.
“Like Baker, do what you will, but I’m against it.”
Ed stood up and left the room.
Mayor Marsh looked at Satchell.
“Captain Page? Any comment?”
“I was placed in this position to oversee, overlook, and maintain the safety of our city, and all those who live here. I cannot speak for the men and women who work with me day to day, nor will I disagree or agree with their thoughts unless it interferes with their work.”
“Captain, I am sure we are all aware of that. Just answer this simple question. Are you in favor of having Mr. Carter write a biography on Montie?”
“Honestly? Yes, and no. I agree with most of Baker’s and Manning’s reasoning, but I can also understand the potential revenue a book like this could bring in from potential tourists. But that also means the more tourist, the more time that will be invested by my officers on duty. For that reason, I abstain from voting. I’ll leave this up to you and the council members present.
“Now, if you will excuse me, I have a police department to run.
“Oh, and Mr. Carter, I do enjoy reading your books.”
There was silence in the room for almost a full minute after Satchell left before Mayor Jean Marsh looked to the other council members present. “I am all in for this. What about you?”
Let’s just say Edward Carter left Montie a very happy man. Once the book tour was over, he would start his greatest undertaking, ever.
The Old Diner – 11:45 a.m.
Baker had called Ed and asked him to drive out to the old diner with her. It was on a lark as she expressed it to him. It was something Stevie said to her, that stayed in her thoughts.
So, there they both were, walking through tall overgrown grass and weeds, that seemed to crawl out from between broken and cracked concrete surrounding a gutted-out and rusted diner where its better days ended in 1983.
There had been a mass shooting there between five escaped inmates, and the police from Montie, Stanhouse, and eventually, the FBI. Twenty-three people were killed, five police officers, one FBI agent, all five inmates, and twelve civilians who just wanted lunch. Another fourteen were wounded, but survived that deadly day.
Baker and Ed, however, weren’t looking for inmates. They were looking for an explosive device.
While looking, Ed said, “Wouldn’t hurt any, to blow this place up. It’s been an eyesore, and a reminder, any which way you look at it.”
But they looked both inside and out, and found nothing.
“City will take care of the textile mill. They were supposed to have the area inspected by now and have a report to me if there isn’t a problem with bringing the wall down.
“Stevie’s idea was a good one, even if it didn’t pan out.”
“Jan, since we’re out this way, let’s stop at Rastabella’s for lunch.”
“Can do. Will do.”
Brewster Gun Club – 1:45 p.m.
The van pulled up alongside a Ford F-150 which belonged to Blake’s father. Hitting special buttons on his wheelchair, he was able to turn the van off electronically. Then, he backed the wheelchair to the side panel doors, hit his remote controller, which made the doors automatically open, followed by a ramp that came up from the floor and then folded outward to meet the ground. Blake then road down the ramp, spun around, hit another button and both the ramp and the doors went to their designated places.
Then he headed to the Gun Club itself, road up a ramp, and the front doors opened automatically, allowing Blake to enter.
“How was traffic today?”
“Not bad. Pretty much like every other day.”
“Good. Look, there’s already five people in the range rooms: 1, 6, 7, 9, and 10. The other five are loaded with targets. A Mrs. Cynthia Anderson and a Charles Mellor, are scheduled at four and five. Like always, you get a problem, call me.”
Blake rolled his eyes.
“I know, dad. You always say the same thing to me every day.”
“I’m your father. I have a right to worry.”
Jimmy Brewster reached down and hugged Blake.
“See you when you get home tonight.”
No, you won’t. You never do. You’re always asleep.
“All right, dad. Be careful going home and I ….”
Jimmy Brewster was out the door and halfway to his Ford truck.
“ …. love you, dad.”
Blake shrugged his shoulders and wheeled himself behind the counter and up a special ramp where it made it easier for him to have access to the register or anything pertaining to customers. He already knew today would be slow.
Mrs. Anderson couldn’t hit a target if it landed right in front of her, she was that blind. Charles Mellor, now there was a character. After he would shoot, he would stop long enough to tell Blake one of his stories about his Vietnam days. Pity the stories were always the same, but Blake was never one for being rude.
Twenty-Second Precinct – 2:15 p.m.
After Ed drove home, Baker went back to her office, looked over some older files, made a few notations for requisitioned needs she would leave on Satchell’s desk. Then, for no reason, she started doodling Freddy’s named on a piece of paper.
He was certainly a fixture in her head. Baker wondered where he was, and who was he contracted to kill this time. Who was he pretending to be?
She found Freddy to be a very unusual killer. Granted, he is pay-for-hire, to remove people that would be replaced by someone easier to deal with, or harsher, depending how you view it. But in Europe, most of his contract hits have been medium to high-profile kills.
Still, Freddy would also target individuals on his own dime as he had when he was in Montie. It was these people he felt deserved to die a cruel and vindictive death. People that raped and mutilated their victims, or had sold women and children into an underground slave-labor market, or into prostitution or pornography, and even snuff films. None of the above being good. For the criminal Freddy is, underneath his layer of hatred for Baker, somewhere in that man’s skin lies a good man. Sort of.
But murder is murder, and when Baker gets the chance, she would bring him in, or take him down.
Her phone rang. It was Satchell.
“Baker, just called to tell you two things. We saved everyone today.”
“Good to hear. Sorry I missed the meeting. What’s the second thing?”
“Nothing in the meeting to miss. We just do the same thing one more day is all, then put it on the shelf until next year or if something really happens. As to number two, Mayor Marsh and the city council gave that Carter fella, the go ahead.”
“I figured they would.”
“At least we went in there swinging, and you know what else, Satch?”
“We’re always left swinging in the wind, too.”
Brewster Gun Club – 6:30 p.m.
Blake rolled down the ramp after setting the security alarm and locking the doors.
From there, he rode over to a small barn that was really a storage shed with parts, and various equipment if needed. There were also six-hundred cases of various sixed shells for the weapons that would be used by customers, or the police officers who came to Brewster’s to qualify as required. Other shells and handguns would be rented to all paying shooters that didn’t own a firearm.
When Standing Room Lake would open for the season, Brewster’s would be busy all the time, six days a week. His dad could do an easy hundred-grand between July Fourth and Labor Day weekend. Then the locals would stop in and fill in the dollar gaps to keep the place floating easily enough.
Looking inside the storage barn, he made sure everything was where it was supposed to be. Once he did so, he locked the barn doors, and in another ten minutes, he was back in his van, and on his way home.
Home, to a father who meant well, but never said very much. Home, to a mother who drank too much, all the time, and even though she would say, ‘I love you, Blake’, it never sounded sincere—real. She never looked him straight in the eyes.
Who to blame for all this? Dad? Mom? Himself?
Blake Brewster was born without legs. Growing up, and up until high school, he never had any close friends. Before high school, kids would make fun of him. When high school rolled around, he managed to find a few people who accepted him for who he is, and no one called him names.
Blake often wondered if that was enough. Would anything ever be just enough? He believed he would never find a girlfriend, get married, and have kids. That was out of reach as far as he was concerned. No girl would marry half a man.
But at night, he did have a girl he called friend that he could talk with and make plans with. Her name was Coolliv17. Her first name being Liv, for Livia. She lived in Greenland. For Blake, online would be the closest he would ever get to real love. But he hadn’t yet told Liv the entire truth about his physical self. Fear of losing her, held back the truth.
Book Four: Part 8 - Rhyming Evil - Chapter 6
Friday – June 29th
The Squad Room – 8:36 a.m.
“Today is the last day for the evacuation drill. Like you, I am glad this is ending. It’s tedious work, but something had to be done. Everyone did a great job to avoid causalities. Once this is over, everyone will be back on a regular shift and schedule.
“Those of you off this weekend, see you Monday morning. Other than that, there isn’t anything new to report. With that said, get out there and stay safe, and keep our streets safe.”
And so it went. Police cars went to specific places along with emergency ambulance services, and fire trucks. Add to that, a staff of medical personal from Johnson County were hand as they had been all week at the evacuation shelter. When the air-raid siren blared, everyone went into action.
Johnathan and Dianne, had the area that was previously assigned to Devon and J.W.
Their first stop was the Davenport Animal Clinic. Once they had the building secured, and everyone was clearing the building, Dianne got on her radio and called for Animal Rescue Services.
“How many wagons do they have?”
“Send them all. These animals deserve to live, too.”
As they left the building, Dianne looked at Johnathan and said, “I saw the cutest cocker-spaniel in there. Later, I’m going to come back and adopt her.”
Michael Collins was in his office when two officers, Chad Evans, and Bryan Hanson, walked in explained that he had to leave.
“If you two don’t mind, I’ll pass on the festivities today. I have already survived four days. I have too much work to be playing anymore games.”
“Sir,” said Evans. “We have our orders. Please, follow us.”
Michael looked up from his desk, and with a cold, calculating look, he stared at Evans, saying, “I happen to be the ADA in this county, and in case you don’t understand; that means Assistant District Attorney.”
“I understand, sir. But we have specific orders that everyone in the entire downtown area is to be evacuated to the shelter.”
“I understand your orders. You have a job to do, and so do I. You go do what you have to do, and let me do mine.”
Evans looked at Hanson. Hanson grabbed the microphone to his radio.
“This is Adam-29. We have a hostile who refuses to go enroute. Requesting info as to what to do, over.”
Baker heard the call on her radio, and patched in to Adam-29.
“Adam-29, this is Lieutenant Baker. Who is the hostile?”
“ADA Michael Collins, Lieutenant.
“Yes, I can give you his number.”
Less than ten seconds, Michael’s landline rang.
“This is Michael Collins. How may I help you?”
“Mr. Collins, I am Lieutenant Baker.”
“Good, someone in authority I can speak with. There are two of your police officers here making a request I leave, and honestly, I don’t see the point in all this any longer. And I am backed up with my work, no less.”
“Are you finished, Mr. Collins?”
“Why, uh, yes.”
“Pay close attention to what I am going to say. You will go with the two officers, or I will inform them to arrest you for obstruction of justice, and for putting countless other lives in harm’s way. Since you are the ADA, I’m sure you understand those charges and what the sentence could be if convicted.”
“Lieutenant, this is preposterous, and ….”
“Mr. Collins, you are wasting my time, and putting two of my officers in jeopardy. If this weren’t a drill, the three of you, in all probability, would be dead by now with the amount of time you have wasted. Now, I am ordering you to go with them, or I will order them to place you under arrest and taken to jail. Your choice.”
Evans called on his radio as he, Collins, and Hanson, were approaching the outside.
“Lieutenant, everything is now secured. Mr. Collins has decided to come along with us.”
“Thought he would change his mind. Good work, guys.”
Baker looked at her watch. 11:52.
It would take her about ten minutes to drive over to the textile mills burned out building. She knew she should have checked it earlier, but with everything going on, it didn’t become a priority.
Driving past the evacuation center, seeing it filling up, she made her move to drive to the mill.
With traffic off the roads, she could be there within five minutes.
It was, according to her watch, 11:59 and seconds when she parked directly across from where the front doors of the mill use to be.
Ten seconds before noon, she started to make her way to where the last partial wall still stood by itself as if in defiance.
At one second before noon, she had taken all of five steps across the street, when an explosion had erupted. Stone, and clumps of rock and dirt blew in her direction as she dove for the asphalt.
Baker grabbed her radio to call in when a good-sized chunk of concrete hit her in the side of the head. She didn’t remember anything else.
Johnson County Memorial Hospital – 1:57 p.m.
“Lieutenant, you’re fortunate. it was just a glancing blow to the head. Twelve stitches is twelve stitches, and I had to remove five small pieces of concrete that entered your left side, along with dirt and particles of other debris.
“Here is a prescription of naproxen, for any pain you may have, and another for antibiotics. It’s good for another refill, or as needed. But the best thing you can do is rest.”
Baker reached up and felt the bandage covering part of her left scalp. Then she looked down at her bloodstained shirt. Not really one of my best days, she thought.
“We had to cut away a portion of your hair to put in the sutures, but one of the nurses did it in a way that when you brush or comb your hair, no one will notice.”
A very friendly face pooped into the room.
“Hey, Jan. How are you feeling?” He walked over to her, gave her a quick kiss on her lips, then turned and asked, “Doc, can I take her home now?”
“Hi, Ed, and yes I feel like I was hit in the head with concrete.”
“Yes, you can take her home. Just have her avoid exercise or activity the next several days.
“And Lieutenant, see me a week from Monday. I want to do another x-ray. The nurse here, give you your appointment slip. Just try to relax this weekend.”
On their way home after calling Satchell, telling him she would be in Monday morning, which made Ed grimace at her while he drove; Baker gently rubbed her latest battle scar, stared out the passenger-side window and was talking softly.
“You maybe want to ratchet the conversation up a little bit, so I can get in there with you.”
“Sorry; was thinking if I paid more attention this week, this would have never happened. Stevie even pinpointed it right away and I never gave it any serious thought, until now.”
“Jan, this whole week has been helter-skelter. The evac thing, business meetings; even that thing with the writer. And I hate to break this to you, but we can’t be everywhere at the same time.”
“I know. It still bothers me that I didn’t take the so-called riddle more seriously. If there is a next one, I will.”
“After today, you can bet on it.”
As Ed pulled into their driveway, both he and Jan stepped out of his Volvo, and this was part of how the weekend started in Montie.
The Weekend In Montie
Friday night wasn’t any different for people than any other Friday past. People came home from work, sat down to an evening meal, either alone or with family, or as a couple.
Some would watch the local evening news on how “Operation Evac” was a rousing success. They would listen to a fitness instructor give healthy tips on how to lose weight.
Then came local sports on how Montie’s baseball team would be going after their sixth straight win, and the weatherman, getting his ten minutes of nightly fame, saying, “Break out your fishing boats and suntan lotion. Another beautiful weekend ahead.” And, in the middle of this, the recent explosion was mentioned, and that police Lieutenant Janis Baker had sustained minor injuries.
In other parts of Montie, people readied themselves for a few days away while others would stay close to home.
Patrick and Cliff, decided to drive up to Albany for the weekend.
Michael called J.W., asking him to spend the weekend with him, but J.W. had declined, saying he had things he had to get out of the way; police business. One of that being going over a computer report on the accident that had killed Daniel Watson.
J.W. vaguely remembered Daniel saying something before he died, but he couldn’t remember exactly what it was. And why he never mentioned it before, he couldn’t say. He was present when Patrick and Daniel’s mother both came to identify, and return Daniel home for burial. Oddly enough, Daniel’s mother said she would rather have the funeral in Montie.
Slipping into a pair of Nike’s, he got into his rig, drove down to the Twenty-Second to pull up the report. Maybe there might be something in it that would trigger a memory.
Across town, two people sat down to a home-cooked dinner, and easy-listening music played, as Johnathan, at Dianne’s home, were having conversation about their future plans.
Before Friday night ended, they would both step up their relationship, and for the first time, make love to each other.
The first time was wild, wanton, and very needful. The second time was softer, slow, more an exploring of each other’s emotions. With the moon at its apex, having spent their desires and their passions, they fell asleep; arms and legs tangled together.
Part of Saturday was spent in the final preparations for July fourth. City workers were getting paid double-time to get all the banners put in place, certain light fixtures set up where in both early morning and late evening, they would be lit up with festive outlines of historic features. A ten-foot light statue of Our Lady of Liberty, as well as a hanging feature of the Liberty Bell would be set in place in the middle of the city park. In other portions of Montie, you would see light fixtures of the American flag, where the colors would blaze brightly, especially in the evening air. Montie, if you never knew before; is very patriotic.
Standing Room Lake was packed by late morning with boater’s, and swimmer’s; along with the sun-tan (the wanna-be) gods and goddesses. Every cottage, condo, cabins, and split-levels were rented out until the end of September.
Sand-castles built on the beach by small children, volleyball games played, dogs chasing after frisbees, or couples walking barefoot in the wet sand. This Saturday and those to follow, are days enjoyed without wonder, or worry.
No one much cared about the elections coming in November. They would take care of business then. This was July. A time for fun. A time to celebrate another year of their freedoms that men and women fought and died for. Not just the Revolutionary War, but all wars, past, and present.
Edward Carter, who sat in another hotel room, was awaiting a radio interview by phone, already knew Montie’s history with war.
Of the 3,923 people from Montie alone that had fought in every war since 1773, 311 names are inscribed on a special memorial wall to the left of the main entrance to the Montie Arena. This way, visitors who came to various shows, concerts, and sporting events, would see the names listed under each war. Two-hundred-ninety-three men, and eighteen women, who gave their lives to help make both Montie, and a Nation, a better place to live.
Yes, Edward would write the story that would put him on easy street the rest of his life.
In the backyard of his home, Andre Devon, his wife, Vanessa, and their daughter, Jenny, along with their parents, were together for the holidays. Devon was flipping chicken, six-ounce sirloins, hot dogs, and hamburgers.
Family time is also important in Montie as well.
At one of the many gravesites, a man walks to one headstone, drops slowly to his knees, laid a small bouquet of flowers next to the headstone that reads:
June Baters Page
July 12, 1975
June 30, 2009
She Sings With The Angels
Satchell sat quietly with his left hand resting onto the headstone.
Another man walked up beside him, and in a moment of solitude; where a look in the eyes, a nod of the head, said more than words ever could.
Softly, Satchell said, “I can still hear you, June. The music never stops.”
Standing, he wiped away a single tear that slowly stretched across his cheek, then smiled, and both men then walked away.
There are some things Edward Carter will never know to write about.
And of course, there were those moments with Stevie and Ellie.
If you observed them and how they acted and reacted with each other, as well as with their friends, you would almost believe they were closer to thirty than going on seventeen, which Ellie would be on July twenty-first. To be certain, they had their fun and have that teenage energy, but both were maturing beyond their years.
And, on this patriotic weekend, each thanked their parents for being who they are: parents, teachers, friends.
Human emotion is such a grand plan at times.
However, not every weekend, including this one, is filled with fun and gaiety, with a historical moment thrown in the mix.
All over the world, people are doing other things; either by choice, chance, fate, or, by demand. And where most are enjoying their Saturday, somewhere else it is already Sunday. In this case, it is also winter upcoming, and people dress accordingly.
Canberra, Australia, a beautifully laid out city is home to Australia’s government. But to a tourist, it is a mecca of absolute beauty. They have a little bit of everything you will never see or find at an Outback Steakhouse.
For one individual, Nelson McGuire, his stay will be brief, and the life of one Judson Masterson, will be even briefer.
Judson had been a bad boy with other bad little boys, and Nelson is there to end Judson’s tryst.
When a new day dawns and the government reconvenes their weekly agenda, someone will find the Honorable Assistant Finance and Claims Adjustor, in his office, throat slit, the crisscrossing slash marks across his chest, and of course, Judson’s written confession, moments before he breathed his last.
At least Judson didn’t sire any children to bring into this world or his own depravity.
Come Monday, Nelson would be on a flight to the Philippines for a very well-deserved vacation. Only Nelson McGuire, this time, would be J.W. Roberts, American on vacation.
Once, back in his $400 a day suite, Freddy laughed loudly at the idea of being the man who nearly ended his life.
Book Four: Part 8 - Rhyming Evil - Chapter 7
Monday – July 2nd
The Squad Room – 8:31 a.m.
“We are back to normal routes, and you all have your assignments.
“Clausen, Klugston, and Lowery and Banyard; I want both units to check the schools based on the second riddle that came in this morning.”
“Must be a ghost dropping it off since no one has seen who it is leaving notes like this to begin with,” said Devon.
“No, no ghost. Sergeant Spinelli found it taped to the front door when he came on duty this morning. Whoever left it, did it in the middle of the middle of the night.
“Just check out all the school’s band departments. See what you can find. Beyond that, get out there and stay safe, and keep our streets safe.”
In her office behind her desk, sipping half-warm coffee, she looked over the latest riddle again.
‘2 bad you didn’t get the riddle i sent you last. At least U are still alive but that’s all in the past. This time LOOK 2 the band for 1 sour note played for a long time will stand – sniff for the smell and U will say what the hell. Hey diddle-diddle, it’s only the second riddle. Keep in mind when all is said and done, a death will happen, and i will have won.’
All Baker could imagine was that whoever this was, they did something to one or more band instruments. What she couldn’t imagine was—who would die.
The Baker-Manning Home
111 Homestead Lane – 9:53 a.m.
Stevie was in the kitchen fixing breakfast for himself and Ed. Ed was on the computer, emailing another of his online college course exams he completed.
He still had two other assignments to complete and sent in by Friday. As soon as he hit send on the one exam, he heard Stevie yell that breakfast was ready.
Five minutes into salt and pepper on the eggs and home-fries, crisp bacon, stirring sugar into Ed’s coffee, and pouring two glasses of orange juice, Stevie asked, “How is summer school working out for you so far?”
“If I paid you fifty bucks to finish up for me. It would be much better.”
“Ed, I’m not cheap.”
“And I was kidding.”
“I knew that.”
“Do you and Ellie have anything planned for today?”
“We’re going to meet a few friends out at Rim Rock Pass. Go out, goof around, take some pictures. Ellie and her parents are leaving tomorrow for a ten-day vacation.”
“Oh. Where are they headed?”
“The Outer Banks of North Carolina. They have a cottage rented right off the coast of the Atlantic. They’ll be like five miles from Kitty Hawk.”
“Home of the Wright Brothers Museum.”
“Yeah. I asked Ellie to make sure she gets some pictures for me. She said she would email them to me. I think Kitty Hawk would be cool to see.”
They ate in silence for a little while before Stevie spoke again.
“Ellie’s birthday is the twenty-first. I’ll talk with mom about this too, but I’d like to have a second cookout here and invite some of our friends to celebrate.”
“I’m pretty sure your mom won’t object, and I’m okay with it. Your mom really likes Ellie.”
“Cool. Now I have to figure out what to get her for her birthday.
“Let’s see, you got her a locket for Christmas, and you two have been together a good amount of time; my suggestion would be a ring.”
“Oh, I don’t think so, Ed. Yeah, we did talk about marriage and that, but that’s for down the road, not now, and we’re too young anyway.”
Ed raised his right hand.
“Let me rephrase, then. Get her a friendship ring. Make it a symbol of how you feel about her. She’ll love it.”
“Okay, I get it. That’s a great idea. Have it made special. A small diamond in the center, with our birthstones on each side. One to signify our love for each other, and the diamond to express, forever.”
“There you go. Case solved.” Ed looked at his watch.
“Damn, 10:20. I have to run, Stevie. Time for my therapy. I have twenty minutes to get there.”
“Good luck with that. Takes me about a half hour and that’s with normal traffic and speed.”
“I’m good. See you later.”
As Stevie was clearing away the plates, Ed had already backed out of the driveway, and with a terrible screeching sound, Stevie heard Ed peel leather as he took off.
Montie High School – 1:48 p.m.
After searching each school, Montie being the last one, neither Clauson, Klugston, or Lowery and Banyard, neither saw, heard, or smelled anything unusual with any of the band instruments at the three other schools. They were led to believe that Montie was it; all or nothing. If it ended up being nothing, it would be a prank that would have a different kind of smell to it.
The full-time year-round janitor arrived as scheduled and opened the front doors for them. He led them down a hallway to the band room, and where the instruments would be put away for at least another month before the band would begin their marching drills and playing songs for the football games.
The second the janitor opened the door, the stench hit them.
Within an hour, five instruments: two tubas, a saxophone, trumpet, and clarinet were on the outside grounds, bagged and tagged appropriately.
Inside each instrument they found dead mice, rats, and even a squirrel. The janitor, Joel Hilsop, told police officers that sometimes kids came into the school when he’s been cleaning from one to seven during the week, and that sometimes, he could hear music being played. He did remember four boys in the school last Friday and gave the police their names.
Clauson and Klugston took two names, while Lowery and Banyard took the other two. Before they would be questioned, they brought the instruments to the crime lab to be gone over for fingerprints, per Baker’s orders, when they called to let her know what they found.
By four that afternoon, four boys: Jeff Minske, Samuel Helper, Darren Gabney, and Blake Brewster, were questioned, and cleared of any potential involvement. There were several different fingerprints on the instruments, making it impossible to charge them with anything. And Brewster was ruled out almost immediately.
As it stood, the riddle was solved, but the culprit was still out there.
The report was written out, and put in Baker’s inbox.
1125 Clearfield Street – 6:28 p.m.
J.W. sat at his kitchen table, munching on a BLT, and drinking a glass of milk. He was looking over a copy of the information he printed out on Daniel Watson’s accident. He would call Mr. Davenport, and let him know he would stop by his office when it was convenient for him, and give him a copy of the report he originally filed. Plus, he would also let him know he was by Watson’s side moments before he died, and he now remembered his last words that came out in a whistling whisper.
2916 Murphy Lane – 7:15 p.m.
A certain poet was putting together another verse. Since the riddle had been solved so quickly, which was expected, it was time to step up the game. Another prank to keep people in line until the final reason may, or may not be figured out in time.
Of course, one could always ask the obvious, “Why is this being done in the first place.”
To answer that, would make the game no longer important. A game involving death. A long-awaited and needed death.
6337 Dusty Lane – 7:35 p.m.
Patrick’s cell phone was vibrating on the outdoor stand next to his chair, as he was sitting outside, enjoying the early evening.
“Yes, who’s calling?”
“This is Officer Roberts. I have the information that was filed on Daniel Watson. I have a copy of the file with me. I can stop by your office any day you are free, and give it to you personally. There are also matters to explain that aren’t in the report.”
“Wonderful! I’m free all day this Thursday. I do lunch between noon and one. Otherwise, I’m in my office from seven to five. You can stop by when it’s convenient for you.”
“Let’s make it Thursday, around eleven.”
“I’ll be expecting you, Officer Roberts. I do hope I haven’t put you out because of this.”
“Not at all. It made me do some thinking anyway.”
“Thank you very much.”
“Just doing my job, and doing the right thing. We all need closure, so we can move on.”
After their brief, but informative chat, Patrick looked up at a blue sky changing its color, preparing for nightfall, but the colors held with traces of orange and purple hues billowing in the background, fighting for a foothold in daylight, but steadily being pulled away.
Patrick took another sip of his beer and said, “Daniel, this will give me closure, but it will never close the years we shared.”
Five minutes later, Cliff called, asking Patrick if he would like to spend the night at his place.
Patrick declined the offer, citing a headache, and that he also had to be in the office early in the morning. He begged off for another time. Patrick could hear the disappointment in Cliff’s voice.
In truth, there was no headache, but he was in a different frame of mind at the moment. The fact that he would have all the information to Daniel’s death, and that J.W.’s voice was very calming, reassuring. It even made Patrick wonder what his initials stood for.
Rugged looking in a sexy way, but it was his voice and his eyes, that had Patrick entertaining thoughts better left to another time, if that other time made itself known.
One thing he was certain of; Cliff didn’t have that magnetic attraction he had hope for.
He suddenly understood that Cliff was nothing more than a substitute for a place that could never be touched, at least by Cliff. It’s a deep, private place for a love that can never be replaced.
Patrick now knew Cliff also wasn’t the kind of man who could create a new and vibrant energy, that fiery fusion of mind, body, and soul. On the other hand, if he had the time, Patrick felt almost certain that J.W. could be the man to create a new set of highs for his life.
The only problem: J.W. was seeing someone else.
Book Four: Part 8 - Rhyming Evil - Chapter 8
Tuesday – July 3rd
The Squad Room – 8:27 a.m.
“Thanks to Clauson, Klugston, Lowery and Banyard, the case of the smelly instruments was solved rather quickly. I also believe it was meant to be that way.
“No new riddles to report, means no additional worries other than doing our job. With that said, you all have your assignments, so if no one has any questions, get out there and stay safe, and keep our streets safe.”
As everyone was filing out, Satchell motioned her to her office, where he stepped in behind her.
“Baker, have you heard the weather report lately?”
“As of an hour ago, we will be under a severe tornado watch beginning at five this afternoon, until eleven tonight.”
Baker looked up.
“Right now, it’s about a hundred and seventy-five miles out, but headed in our direction. I’d say if it gets another thirty miles closer; that would be a good time to put all that practice we did into the real thing.
“It’s already done a number on a few other smaller towns between here and southwestern PA.; and southeastern Ohio. It has lost some of its strength, but it’s still moving at a good clip. It’s no earthquake, but this baby could cut us in two if we aren’t careful.
“It’s up to Mayor Marsh. She is thinking of making a televised announcement locally and on the radio. If she does, we have to evacuate everyone from downtown, and as many residents as possible that do not have adequate shelter they can turn to. We get them over to the Evac Center, and sit it out for a few hours. The only thing the building is still lacking, are front doors, air-conditioning, and running water for the six bathrooms put in. Generators to power things up are due on Friday. The rest is supposed to be finished sometime next week.”
“Find out what you can, Satchell. Meantime, I’ll contact all units and have them on standby. Looks like the fourth might come in with a bigger bang than expected.”
By 9:30, every available unit (on and off duty) were notified, and in a full-state of preparedness. This time, they knew it wasn’t a drill.
At 10:30, Mayor Marsh made a public announcement.
“The tornado, with a listed speed of eighty-five miles per hour, is expected to hit the vicinity within the next eight hours. The good news is that the system has stalled, and that there is a probability it may die out before it gets here, or take another route away from us. In the meantime, I implore all of you without your own adequate shelter, to come to the Montie Evacuation Center. The air-raid signal will continue to sound off three sharp blasts until the tornado has either gone through our area, or bypasses us altogether.
“I also ask that you check on your neighbors, other family members, friends, and anyone you feel may not be able to properly take care of themselves in the event the tornado hits. Get them either to your own shelter, or to the Evac Center in Montie.
“If you are coming to the Evac Center, do so in an orderly fashion. No speeding or running. No one needs to panic. No phone calls, please, as all appropriate personal; the police, fire and emergency services will be along several routes to assist you if necessary.”
She was handed a sheet of paper.
“I have just received word that the Stanhouse PD, and their available police units and emergency services, will also be assisting us. So please, I implore you to get to a shelter of your own, or make your way yo the Evac Center, in a safe and orderly manner. Thank you.”
Preparations were underway. Businesses closed. This included banks, restaurants, gas stations, motels, and so on. You name it; it closed. Residents too far out from the Evac Center that had their own shelter were going to be fine. Those who didn’t, and didn’t have a way in on their own; between the Stanhouse PD, and the Twenty-Second, and emergency responders, everyone was brought to safety. If one didn’t know any better, you would have thought they had done this millions of times.
Close to six-thirty, and the first feeling of a heavy wind coming could be felt. By 7:30, it did.
By 7:45, it struck hard, it struck fast. The entire city of Montie was either surrounded by the most expensive shelter ever made, or other residents were safe in their own underground bunker.
By 8:25, whatever was left of the tornado had begun to fade. It’s windspeed fell from seventy-eight, to almost forty miles an hour, and was headed northwest. But it did do some damage. All the residents; police and ambulance personal walked out into the open air; some would tell you they could see the direction it was headed as it began to fade from sight.
As promised, the air-raid blasts finally stopped.
People milled about in the Evacuation Center, and started to leave to go to their homes or place of work. Some could see downed power lines, several windows broken, trees were uprooted, and several cars were beat up with moderate to minor damage, except for three that were totaled because trees fell on them. The worse damage was at the city park. Five trees had been uprooted, one of which was in the middle of the street.
Office buildings and businesses had minor damage, mainly the windows were broken out, and a single streetlight had shattered on the street. Those who returned to their homes, found some damage to roofs, but no one had a roof torn away. Montie had dodged a bullet. What wasn’t found, was a single human life lost.
Truth be told, no animals died either. With Dianne Andrews persistence; every pet that could be located, was sheltered in the Evac Center, including those in the animal clinic.
The rest of the night was spent trying to get rest. Tomorrow would be a big day for cleanup, insurance adjustors, figuring the cost to repair and replace items. Plus, tomorrow was Independence Day. Not even a tornado would stop Montie from celebrating.
Wednesday – July 4th
The Squad Room – 8:45 a.m.
“I want to thank each and every one of you for the outstanding performance in volunteering your unwavering support to help piece Montie back into her original shape. I thank all of you for devoting your own time after the tornado struck. I know most of you haven’t even been to bed yet working all night. That, goes beyond any call of duty. And yet, there is much more to do.
“Captain Page is in direct communication with Mayor Marsh, and the city council, on a date to be arranged within the next week or two, where every officer in the Twenty-Second, as well as emergency responders, and the fire department, will receive a citation for your individual sacrifice, courage, and bravery, without regard for your own personal safety.
“This is one time when I say stay safe out there and keep our streets safe, you did. I have never been prouder of all of you than I am at this moment.
“For those who have to be back on shift at four, go home, get some well-deserved rest. Hopefully, you’ll have an uneventful shift tonight. To those on graveyard, get out of here, and thank you, again.
“As for the rest of you, I, like you, will be one tired puppy after this shift is over, but we pulled through and we helped to prevent loss of lives and,” she looked at Dianne, “and animal lives as well.
“Let’s get through today, then go home, and probably miss the fireworks. As much as I’d love to see them this year; me thinks I will sleep right through the pyro show.
“For once, without saying the words, you all know what it is. Get it done.”
Like a well-practiced choral group, they all said in unison; “Get out of here and stay safe, and keep our streets safe.”
That’s what they do.
The Morning In Montie
The time that passed saw dozens of window installers replacing large and small panels of glass or full-sized panes in businesses and residential. Business owners were still sweeping up debris found after the tornado came and went.
City workers were out either repairing or replacing certain Fourth of July displays that fell over, as well as redoing hanging banners.
Individual homeowners were helping one another to remove broken limbs and tree branches from yards, off of cars (insurance agent’s phones never stopped ringing the entire day), and even on a few roofs as well.
Before the day was over, 211 insurance agents would be called, and 211 claims would be filed.
And when the night did appear, many residents showed up for the fireworks. Watching as display after display were fired into the air, filling the night sky with amazing portraits of beautiful colors, as those who came to the festivities would “ooh and “aah”, and applaud madly. There was at least one person that night who kept true to her word.
Baker was out like a light and never heard a thing. Ed would show her pictures tomorrow of what she missed.
The Hilton Hotel
It was on July Second, at 10:30 in the morning, two people each packed a single suitcase, got in a Blue Jetta, and headed west.
Their first night in Chicago was spent enjoying a wonderful dinner, and a stroll along Chicago’s North Shore.
By eleven their first night, both were so tired that when they returned back to their separate (yes, separate) hotel rooms, they hugged, and kissed one another goodnight.
July third, found them wandering the city by day, shopping for a few wedding gifts, or as Olivia put it, “wedding memories.”
By mid-afternoon, they had their marriage license purchased, and found a small church to marry them the very next day; July Fourth.
Neither one knew of the events that happened in Montie while they were gone. Neither would until they returned in another week.
But, their Fourth of July would begin with their own fireworks, and their lives became united (in one hotel room this time), as Terry Nordstrom, and Olivia Passerman, were now husband and wife.
Thursday – July 5th
Baker’s Office – 9:12 a.m.
It was another one of those days where she would spend the next several hours going over reports.
She also tried to keep apprised of foreign news that could be related to Freddy. So far, there had been two reports of victims killed with his SOP (standard operating procedure). Two in the last seven months, well, not counting Marie Hampton, former real estate agent.
Tracking his movements as best as she could, there had been another five, brutal gangland-type slayings that could possibly be attributed to Freddy. Each murder had to deal with someone who had some form of power, and based on his last two kills; the other five murders took place; starting in South America, and ending in Australia. The method of movement was similar, if not the same, in other countries Freddy has been in.
He’s smart, shrewd, cunning, and deadly.
As she started her other project; checking missing persons, she knew there was only one way to catch Freddy.
A bullet to the brain.
Rim Road Pass – 12:30 p.m.
20 Miles West of Montie
The guys were all there. They made a pact with each other, and to seal that pact, each one sliced the palm of their right hand with a pocket-knife (and not very deep either), and then they pressed their palms against one another’s hand to seal that promise in blood, and officially, they were each other’s brother.
The Montie Pythoner’s would be saying goodbye to Jimmy Kerrigan. He got his scholarship to North Carolina.
Every member of the team promised to meet back here at Rim Road Pass every five years to relive, to recapture their lost youth, and also talk about their new lives and loves. The only acceptable reason for not returning was either active military duty, or being dead.
A brother’s promise made in blood could never be broken otherwise. Stevie, Ron Snyder, Dale Whittier, Brad Stone, DeWayne Phillips, and carl Macklin Jr., along with Jimmy Kerrigan, all made a promise to each other, and deep down, Stevie believed they would all come back every five years until they either all died, and hopefully, from natural causes.
Once that was finished, they sat around for a while, talking about what they were going to do for the rest of the summer, and then the topic found its way to basketball.
Ron Snyder asked Stevie the question that was on every player’s mind.
“Stevie, we all know the bean ball you took to the head. The doctor’s said no sports. Are you going to come back, and at least help the Coach with play-calling?”
“Guy’s,” Stevie’s eyes took them all in. “I promise I’ll be back on the court in some aspect. And maybe, just maybe, I might play a game or two. If I stay out of the paint, get that isolated shot, I should be good to go. Of course, I’ll need to clear that with the doctor, my mom, and Coach.
“I’m thinking sometime before we go back to school next month, and try to get a medical clearance. Besides, last year it wasn’t my head that broke, it was my old leg. This one is new and improved, and guaranteed never to peel, rust, fade, or crack. If nothing else, I’ll be there to help Coach Claymoore.”
After another hour, everyone broke up, got in their cars and trucks, or like Jimmy, he left on his Kawasaki 450, and the only memory at Rim Road Pass were tire tracks, footprints, and dried spots of blood clinging to dirt.
Kelso’s Clothing Store
1135 Mason Street – 4:47 p.m.
The changing of the guard went smoothly. No tornado’s, no harsh winds or pelting rain. No traffic accidents, assaults, or robberies. Almost three-fourths of the day, down, and everything was looming good.
That is until Adam-11 slowly drove down Mason. Andrew Davis at the wheel, his partner Ryan Clinton, jabbering on about how the Mets might take the World Series. The Mets? Why not, they’re in the hunt, he said to Andrew. Andrew came back with; It’s July, see where they are come October.
It was then when Ryan tapped Andrew’s shoulder and pointed at the front doors of Kelso’s. Three men shot out of the place like a bullet, and started to jump in a dark green, Econoline van.
Andrew turned on the lights and siren, hit the gas pedal and before the van had enough time to take off, Andrew veered the car at a right angle in front of it. Ryan had radioed for backup. Both he and Andrew jumped from their car, weapons raised, where each man had both sides of the van covered; Ryan, looking directly at the driver, a young Hispanic girl, maybe seventeen if that; yelled for her to get out of the van. Sirens could be heard approaching. The girl bit her lip, looked behind her, then back at the gun staring her in the face.
“I said, step out of the van slowly, miss. Hands on top of your head. I won’t tell you again.”
Andrew, on the far side of the van yelled out, “All of you inside the van, come out with your hands in the air, and empty!”
The girl made up her mind, and stepped away from the van. She was about five-feet tall and maybe ninety pounds.
“Hey, you crazy bitch! Get back in here!”
“Miss, get in the back of my car.” Ryan motioned her inside. Once she was in, he raised his head toward the van, and yelled out, “Give it up! There will be several black and white’s here, so I advise you to step out of the van now, and avoid a fight. You will lose.”
As he said that, three more cars converged onto the scene.
Andrew, his weapon trained at an angle on the sliding panel door, could hear them arguing over what to do next. All were yelling in Spanish. When they saw the police cars surrounding them, the three young Hispanics, slid the panel door open, and threw out their guns; two being a Mac-10, along with eight handguns.
Bloodshed, and the potential for a lot of it, was averted that day. How much longer could that continue?
Book Four: Part 8 - Rhyming Evil - Chapter 9
Another Weekend In Montie
It was business as usual at the Twenty-Second.
Summer came in full swing in the last two weeks. During that time, there had been a few arrests for public intox, one domestic dispute handled, three different felony arrests (besides Kelso’s. Someone tried to steal a speedboat belonging Jean, the Mayor, and her husband, Frank Marsh, while they were away on a small vacation. Another man, obviously new to the area, was arrested by eleven police officers for trying to rob Benny’s Pub. One should never rob a place where police congregate).
Everyone, including Devon and J.W#. were on their assigned route. J.W. made a short explanation of how he needed to stop off at the Davenport Animal Clinic and speak with Patrick Davenport for a few minutes. It wasn’t a problem for Devon.
Just after eleven, both J.W. and Patrick talked about the file that held the last bits of information concerning Daniel Watson. His exact location at impact, time of death, personal effects listed, as well as other items extracted from the car, later given to Daniel’s mother. It was pretty much things Patrick already knew.
“There is one thing that isn’t in the report.”
Patrick looked intently at J.W.
“My partner, Andre Devon, called the crash site in. I was kneeling next to Mr. Watson, and found a small trace of his pulse still beating, but it was very faint.
“I leaned in close asking if he could hear me. I was telling him that help was on the way. All he said to me was, ‘tell Patrick, my mother. I love them very much.’ Then he inhaled sharply, his eyes opened wider from the severe pain he was in, and then he died.
“It never occurred to me when you and his mother came to claim his body, that you were the same Patrick in question. By then, I had nothing more to do with the case any longer. Accident. End of story. I know that might have sounded harsh, but we deal with a hundred or more fatalities in this county every year. Some that leave a life intact; others that doesn’t.
“Mr. Davenport, I truly am sorry for your loss. I know how it is to love someone as deeply as you did Daniel.”
Patrick’s eyes were like twin water buckets filled to overflow. With the back of his right hand, he wiped away the tears, cleared his throat, and regained most of his composure.
“Thank you very much for this, Officer Roberts. This means a great deal to me to know the truth, to know his last words, that he died thinking of his mother and me. In life, he always placed us first.
“He would do that silly Spock line from a Star Trek movie where he would say, ‘Patrick, the needs of many outweigh the needs of the few’.”
J.W. stood up.
“If I may ask, Officer Roberts, but what do the initials stand for?”
“James Woodcock. Woodcock was my mother’s father’s name, but I prefer, J.W.”
Patrick looked at him, smiled somewhat and extended his arm, and hands clasped. Neither man was certain at that moment, but the handshake felt warm, and seemed to last longer than either one expected.
“Have a good weekend, Mr. Davenport.”
“Please, call me, Patrick.”
“Very well then, Patrick.”
“Be safe out there, J.W.”
As J.W. opened Patrick’s office door to leave, he turned slightly and smiled at Patrick. “Our boss tells us the same thing every day.”
Over at the Pit-Stop, Stevie was talking with a few of his friends when his cell phone buzzed. It was Ellie. Let us just say, his friends and the world, took a back seat, as his concentration and conversation was on her, and how her vacation was going.
He was to have gone with them, but because of his accident, it was best thought that he stay close to home this time in case anything unexpected happened.
They were talking a mile a second, as if they haven’t talked to one another in decades. Isn’t love such a grand thing?
Johnathan Prescott and Dianne Andrews, would take the weekend away to the Belvedere Arms Hotel in Erie. Johnathan rented one of the four newlywed suited the Belvedere Arms advertised. Three days, two nights, $1,650, not counting meals. It didn’t matter. He wanted Dianne to get an idea of what a small portion of their honeymoon would be like after they get married.
For Dianne, if he could, he would place the universe at her disposal. That might be a little over the top, but what wasn’t, was the sheer fact he knew he would give his life for her without question, hesitation, or reservation. Then again, Johnathan had plans on being around for a very long time.
Once J.W. came home from work, he called Michael, and told him he couldn’t meet with him this weekend. Instead, he decided to drive north and enjoy some alone-time. In preparing for his getaway, he also let the brief conversation, and the tone of the meeting with Patrick, play over in his head.
About the same time as J.W, Patrick walked through the front door of his house, when no sooner, his cell phone rang.
“Hi, Pat. I hope you had an incredible day. I called, because I booked us a reservation in Brighton, at McNamara’s. It is an elegant restaurant. I’m sure you will love the ….”
“Cliff? I’m sorry, but I’ll have to pass. Not really into going out tonight.”
“Oh. Not feeling well? I could come over, make you some soup, pamper you, and ….”
“That’s quite all right, Cliff, but I can take care of myself. I received some personal news that has me in a quandary, and I need time to sort through a few things.”
“Then call me when you are up to going out, please.”
Patrick could tell by the tone of Cliff’s voice; he was both disappointed and angry at being stood up. Patrick simply thought that Cliff would just have to get over himself.
It was late night that found Baker and Ed, side-by-side in bed, with Stevie sound asleep in his room. Except for breathing, were a pin to drop to the floor it would almost be deafening.
Finally, Baker turned to Ed, whispered in his ear, “Guess now is a good time to tell you, I love you.”
“I didn’t know you were debating the subject.”
“Well, the thing is, I have a serious question.”
“Bring it, Jan. Remember? No secrets.”
“I know, and it’s a simple, well, maybe not so simple question. But you’re thirty-seven, and I’m thirty-five. Until a few weeks ago, I never considered this, especially after Freddy almost killed us—you, but now, more than ever ….”
“Geez, Jan. Just ask me the question.”
She punched him lightly on the arm.
“Never rush a woman who wants to have another child.”
“Okay, I won’t. But what has that got to do with your being … Wait! Another child! Are you telling me we are going to have a baby?” Ed sat upright in bed with a look of excitement and expectation. The first thing his good hand did was to caress Baker’s stomach.
“Relax. No, at least not yet. But I love you so very much and because of that, I want to have a girl, or another boy in this family that is directly from your seed, your heart, your soul. I want to raise a part of us.
“One day, Stevie will be gone. He will have his own responsibilities, his own family. And when that happens, I would love to have a little one running around the house to drive us crazy.”
Ed smiled and wrapped his arms around her and kissed her on the top of her head.
“So, you’re talking, when then?”
“Stevie graduates school next year, and he’s looking at different colleges. I’d like for us to try to make a baby next year by summer’s end.
“When I get to mid-term, say five to six months, I would take paternity leave, or just quit the force altogether. It isn’t as if we need the money.”
“Jan, I’m not saying yes or no; but we have one big hurdle to get over before that would happen, that, being Freddy. I don’t need to go into details because we know what I’m meaning.
“If we get past him, and if you still want a baby next summer, then by God’s will, and a lot of luck, we’ll have us a baby.”
Baker leaned up and Ed tilted his head a little lower and they kissed. Baker would tell Stevie before the weekend was over. After all, they too, shared many secrets as well.
By Saturday daylight, a brisk steady rain began to fall. Clouds kept the sun at bay, until Monday.
It was that kind of weekend. People still went grocery shopping, or to a movie, but all the outdoor fun things were put on hold.
After all, even the weather isn’t always perfect.
Monday – July 9th
Captain Page’s Office – 8:59 a.m.
Captain Page read the note for the first time. Baker had read it twice.
this is riddle number 3. time 2 get the game in gear, time 2 create a little fear. Time 2 rearrange another school with a brand-new look—and do not think me the fool—but look for the fuse as I stay amused. Hey diddle-diddle, is it just a riddle? (can we say BOOM!!) u have until Wednesday noon. My rules, that’s why it’s so soon! HAHAHAHA!
“This is the second school he’s targeted, but why? Is this a student, a former teacher? Some bent out of shape parent that’s lost their mind?”
“I don’t know, Baker, but we need to get every available unit to search all of the schools. Once we can locate it, we can have the Bomb Squad from Stanhouse, standing by to defuse or deactivate it, depending on how it’s wired.”
“I’ll get up with all the units and have some stationed around or nearby the schools to direct traffic.”
“I’ll call Stanhouse PD.”
One minute later, Satchell was on the phone.
“Stanhouse, PD. Sargent Millhouse, speaking.”
“This is Captain Page, in Montie. Is Detective Don Baters in?”
“Hold on. I’ll patch you through to his phone.”
Four rings later; “Special Investigations. This is Detective Hendren.”
“Hello. I’m Captain Page, Montie, PD. Is Don Baters available?”
“Hold on a second.”
Thirty seconds pass.
“This is Detective Baters.”
“Don, my brother, how are you, my friend?”
“Hey there, you nappy-headed freak; what’s going on?”
“Nappy-headed! Is your wife still polishing that chrome dome you call a brain?”
Laughter on both sides of the phone were heard.
“Seriously, Don, we have a situation, and we can use a little help.”
“Name it, Satch.”
“We have a potential bomb threat here. There may be a bomb hidden in one of our schools. Lieutenant Baker is deploying units to do a sweep. If we find it, we’d like to have your Bomb Squad there to defuse it.”
“Say no more. With a few words to Captain Giles, we can get a crew to you within the hour.”
“Great. They’d be on standby until we locate the hot pocket.”
“Understood. But you do know Stanhouse will send you a bill for this, right?”
“Yeah. Doesn’t bother me. The mayor will handle it. I’ll let her know shortly.”
There was a slight pause when Satchell said, “Tell you what, when this is over, let me buy you lunch this weekend. We can talk over old times since the Academy, and since ….” Satchel voice hitched.
“I get you, Satch, no need to say more. I’ll be looking forward to this weekend. I hope things there end up being a dud and that there are no injuries, or worse. I know bomb scares are the last thing you need. It’s bad enough with all the terrorism around the world as it is. I keep hearing that the NSA has found dozens of terroristic covert operations across the country, but I’ll be damned if any of it is ever in the news.”
“I hear you. It would be nice if our good old government would fill us in from time to time, but hell, that would require someone to write a script for them to read, and that would cost just way too much.”
“True. Just be careful, Satch. Damn, it’s almost as if someone’s put a curse on Montie.”
“Thought that a time or two myself. I’ll call you Friday, and have something set up for lunch. Friday good for you?”
“Works for me.”
Satchell hung up the phone. Don could be right. Maybe someone did put a curse on Montie. A real curse that cannot be removed.
Millard Elementary – 5:39 p.m.
Through a joint effort, three of the four schools had been gone over at least three times, where every inch was scoured. It was a blessing that school was still in summer recess. Several of the police officers looking inside Millard have children that go there.
Every closet, every chair with a built-in desk lid, every office drawer, every locker, every bathroom had been checked and triple-checked.
When it came time for the auditorium; they found it. It was behind a mesh screen directly below stage level when one of the officers cried out, “Found it! Over here! It looks like a set of wires running to somewhere!”
One officer got on his radio and called in to the Twenty-Second.
“This is Officer Mason in Millard Elementary auditorium. We have located the device. I repeat, we have located the device.
Millard Elementary – 6:16 p.m.
Baker, Captain Page, Don Baters, and the Bomb unit were huddled in a circle.
“Don,” said Jim Harrison, lead man on the bomb squad, “if you won’t mind, we’re going to wrap things up, go home, and call it a night.
“And Captain Page, this is one sick individual to be pulling a prank like this.”
Baker agreed, nodding at Don Baters and Satchell. “Thing is that next time it might not be a prank. The first one wasn’t.”
“Granted,” said Don, “but if you need us down the road, don’t hesitate to call us.”
“Trust me, Don, we will if we have to.”
“Tell me, Satch, just where is this lunch going to be?”
“I have two places in mind. I’ll call Friday and let you know which one.”
The two men shook hands, and went their separate ways. Baker’s red Hummer was parked next to Satchell’s official car.
“I take it you two have known one another for a while.”
“Sixteen years. We graduated from the Academy together, and even served at our first police station together for two years, before we were both transferred to different divisions. I went to the 86th in Albany; Don hit the 53rd in Manhattan’s lower east-side. Next thing we know, we’re thirty miles closer.”
“Yes, it is. Sometimes, it keeps getting smaller.” (What he didn’t mention is that his wife was Don’s sister.)
Officer Andre Davis and Ryan Clinton had the so-called bomb in a box in the back seat of their car, as they made their way to forensics so that they could dust it for prints, and possible hair fibers.
It was a bowling ball with four, three-foot wires, two green, two blue, taped to the ball, along with a card attached that when opened, it read: BOOM!
2916 Murphy Lane – 7:25 p.m.
After the family listened to the late-breaking news about a bowling ball that had been recovered at Millard Elementary; and was made to resemble a real bomb, is now in the hands of police. There were no fatalities, and Jennifer Ralston added, “The closest to an explosion was a card taped to the bowling ball saying, boom, in capital letters. Not very creative, not very smart, and a silly idea. If we get any updates to this story, Channel 08 will bring it to you live.”
The original show they were watching returned, and one of the three privately thought, ‘Silly idea, huh? We’ll see next time how silly it is.’
Book Four: Part 8 - Rhyming Evil - Chapter 10
Tuesday – July 10th
The Squad Room – 8:30 p.m.
“I know we will be getting another riddle before too long. It will continue until this person, or persons are apprehended. So far, there hasn’t been one misstep by said person or persons, to shed any new light on the why, either.”
“One thing is certain,” J.W. said with clarity, “whoever, whatever this is about; people like this eventually screw up somewhere.”
“That’s true, J.W. The averages are always on our side. Eventually, we will nail whoever is responsible.
“On another side-bar note; in your inbox tomorrow, will be your scheduled time to be at the Brewster Gun Club. It’s that time of the year for everyone to qualify. Like always, you get two chances. Fail, and its desk duty for thirty days, then you get a third try.”
“Has anyone not qualified the first two times out, Baker?” asked Lowery.
Baker gave a thin-lipped smile.
There were a few surprised looks, and a few “no ways”.
“If there isn’t anything else, then get out there and stay safe, and keep our streets safe.”
Lucy’s Restaurant – 11:45 a.m.
Devon, J.W., Johnathan, and Dianne, were sitting together at one table enjoying a burger with home fries, grilled ham and cheese sandwich, pastrami and Swiss on pumpernickel, and a chef’s salad.
Their conversation was casual, remarking on how when things were so quiet for so long, then came the evacuation trials turning into the real thing. It had been a storm most residents were still trying to get behind them with home repairs; but they remained tough through the entire ordeal. Then came the diddle-diddle-riddle-thing, as Devon put it.
“It’s odd,” remarked Johnathan, “how some people think. It’s like they come out of the woodwork with all kinds of crazy ideas.”
“And we’ve had our share of crazies,” said Devon, “starting with Freddy. And we’ve gone up and down the scale of weirdos since.”
“The funniest though, was those two old men and the boy from Arkansas. It gets to me now and then, that they actually make milkshakes down there with fish oil!”
“Even though nothing happened to the president when he stopped here to make a campaign speech; for me, that was probably one of the tensest moments I can remember,” said Dianne.
“We’ve had our share of freaks, that’s for sure. That brother-sister duo, Jessie, and Claire Waynestead. Then there were the two snipers that took some good people down. I mean, the list can go on and on,” said Johnathan.
“What’s odd about that; Montie isn’t all that big. If this were New York City, Boston, Philly, or Chicago, I could see all this happening, but in a city this small? It’s like Montie is a magnet drawing bad eggs here.” J.W. stopped to sip his ice-tea.
Just then, Michael Collins walked into Lucy’s, went to the take-out section, grabbed a white bag and a bottle of water, and paid for it with his gold Visa. As he turned to leave, he saw J.W. sitting with three other police officers.
He walked to the table, and stopping short, said, “It’s nice to know that some of Montie’s finest are keeping an eye on Lucy’s place.”
Everyone looked up and smiled forlornly.
“And how has your day been, J.W.?”
“Doing well enough. You?”
“Never better. I have to get back to my office and prepare for court this afternoon. It’s the arraignment over the Kelso robbery and the four Hispanic subjects.
“By the way, J.W., those papers you asked for are ready. You can pick them up, say, around four, if you’re free.” Michael put a slight emphasis on the last three words.
J.W. eyed him casually.
“I’ll see what I can do.”
Michael turned and left Lucy’s.
No one at the table asked any questions, and only Devon noticed a little tightness with J.W., but after they left Lucy’s, he didn’t say a word.
There were no papers.
Johnson County Memorial Hospital – 1:30 p.m.
“Sorry, Dr. Cutter. It was one of those days that goes way beyond simple explanation.”
“No need to. I understand, Lieutenant Baker. I listen to the news. My wife and I have twin girls that attend Millard Elementary. Before we get started, give my personal thanks to everyone involved.”
Baker smiled. “I can do that.”
“Let’s proceed, shall we?”
Doctor Cutter pulled back Baker’s hair, removed the bandage, and looked at the sutured wound.
“This has healed rather nicely. Have you had any severe pain, dizziness or headaches since the accident?”
“Outside of the first two days, nothing.”
“Good. I’m going to remove the stitches and then Becky will take you to X-ray. A one-stop shot that will tell us all we need to know in about twenty minutes.”
“Works for me.”
By 2:20, Baker was out the door and in her Hummer. No cranial problems. No concussions to worry about. She was good to go.
Michael Collins Office – 5:16 p.m.
“I’m here, Michael. What’s on your mind.”
“I have always loved directness, it’s the reason I became a lawyer. The namby-pamby attitude with so many people these days is enough to drive a sober man down into the bottom of a bottle of scotch.
“What is on my mind, is us. We seemed to have started out well enough, but the last several days you have seemed distant; as if your mind is somewhere else, or perhaps, thinking about someone else.”
“Sorry, Michael, but a lot has been happening lately if you haven’t noticed.”
“Noticed? J.W., I notice everything. Part of my job as an ADA, is to observe and be aware at all times what goes on both in, and out of the courtroom, at every turn of the hour, but ….”
“But what, Michael? All we have done at best is talk, hold hands, and had a few kisses. We aren’t living together. We haven’t made any commitments, and frankly, I’m still not ready to commit to you or anyone at this point.”
“I see. Then, this wouldn’t have anything to do with Mr. Davenport.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Since the night we had dinner, and you saw him there with Cliff Potter, your mind has been infused with him. And … you have been to his office a few times as well.”
“We aren’t in a courtroom, Michael. I don’t need to answer to you for my actions. Stop trying to cross-examine me.”
“Please, just tell me if you are seeing him.”
“I’m not, but if I were, it wouldn’t be any of your business.”
J.W. started for Michael’s office door; but pivoted sharply.
“I think it would be better if we just remain friends, Michael. Let’s leave it at that.”
J.W. could see a twinge of both hurt and sadness travel across Michael’s eyes, but he could also see a swelling anger rising upward.
“Very well, J.W. I’m sorry if I was rushing you. I didn’t mean to have you feel like I was trying to box you in a corner. It wasn’t my intention.
“When you are ready, please call me. I will always be available for you.”
J.W. nodded his head, left Michael’s office, and once behind the wheel of his rig, he sat still for a few minutes. He knew his initial attraction for Michael was simply the fact he could talk with another gay man and not feel hemmed in or constricted by his thoughts or words.
He also knew, for him, a relationship was still too early to jump into.
Still, Patrick’s personality, his poise; and though he wasn’t the most attractive man he’s ever seen, there was still that underlying beauty that seemed to ooze from him. He was willing to bet Patrick didn’t even know when that happened.
Maybe he might call Patrick this weekend, or the following weekend for a Saturday lunch out of town.
“Don’t sweat yourself. It’s just a lunch and conversation.”
111 Homestead Lane – 6:07 p.m.
“Mom! Pablo’s is here!”
As Baker headed for the front door to pay the delivery driver, she popped in the computer room and said, “Dinner’s here, Ed.”
“On my way.” He had just finished one of his last exams and very happily hit send, then he shut the computer down.
Every night the three are home together, each one tells something about their day. Stevie went first, followed by Baker. Then it was Ed’s turn.
“My day started with my trip to rehab, for what Mrs. Peterson calls, reflexive therapy.
“I would do simple things like bending the arm at the elbow several times or raising the arm over my head and stretching the fingers. A warm up of things to come.”
“Ed, you really need to start saying, my arm, instead of the arm. After all, it is your arm now.”
“You’re right, Stevie. It slips my mind now and then.
“After the stretching exercises, that’s when Mrs. Peterson would have me grab objects off a metal table. Coins, pens, pencils, playing cards; that kind of stuff. Sometimes, I would have to try two or three times to catch what she threw at me; other times I’d catch them right off.
“The last ten minutes is where she gets me though. She has those hollow rubber balls, and tennis balls. She started throwing them at me. I caught four, but with my right hand.
With my other hand,” he looked at Stevie and gave a small smile, “I didn’t catch a one. So, besides having homework online, I have homework from Mrs. Peterson.”
Ed got up and went back into the computer room and returned back to the dining room with a cloth sack he put on the center of the table.
“In there is my homework. Two rubber balls and two tennis balls. I’m supposed to get you two to throw the balls at my left arm, so I can try to catch them.”
“Hey, I can help you with that, Ed. No problem.”
“And your help is greatly appreciated, Stevie. And there is a bit of other news. Earlier today, I received an email from the college; they sent me a quarterly grade, and I am the proud owner of a 3.75 GPA. I sent in my final exam for this semester, and next month I enroll on campus and finish out the last nine months toward my law degree.”
Baker hugged him, and Stevie high-fived him.
“So, when you pass the bar exam, what kind of lawyer do you want to be?”
“I want to be a prosecutor, Stevie. I think since being a cop for almost sixteen years, I would have that added depth to know who is really guilty of a crime and go after a person for a year, five or ten years, or life.
“I’ve seen my share of brutality and mayhem, so has your mom; the perverted to the maniacal, that never deserve to walk our streets ever again. At the same time, there have been others who deserve a second, and sometimes third time depending on circumstances.”
“I see it the same way, Ed. I might become a judge one day. Hand out justice, but fair-minded at the same time.”
“If it ever came to that, the two of you could never be in the same courtroom because of family ties,” said Baker.
“That is so wrong.”
“Your mom is right. It might be wrong, but were that to happen, a defense lawyer could do a conflict of interest, favoritism; any number of things to get a client off. Bias, prejudice; you could be ruled to stand down or declare a mistrial, or a change of venue could be administered. And that’s just for openers.”
“Then, if you’re in one courtroom and I’m in another, that would be good. Justice would still be served twice, and no one could argue that.”
“Time out, you two,” said Baker. “It’s movie time.”
“I’ll make the popcorn this time,” grinned Ed.