Unsettled: Episode 4

“That barefoot guy stole my truck! He’s wearing a shirt with birds or something on it. I don’t know who he is. He was talking to you!” the truck driver yelled.

“Sir, please calm down,” Ray asked. “I promise we will see that he returns your truck. What’s your name?”

“Brian Hunter, and I’m going inside the police station right now to report this, pal.”

“No, please,” Mavis pleaded. “He didn’t mean to. He just got out of the hospital and he has impulse control problems. I’ll get him to bring back your truck.”

“We need to get after him,” Rory said. “If he’s chasing someone, he’s on his own.”

“I’ll get him. Don’t worry,” Kristina reassured them.

“If anyone leaves, I’m calling the cops!” Hunter threatened.

“Please don’t do that. I’ll contact him right now. Just don’t call the police,” Mavis begged Hunter.

“We’re wasting time,” Rory growled.

As Rory started moving towards the truck driver, Hunter raised his fists in self-defense.

“Rory, calm down. You’re not helping,” Ray scolded.

“Oh for crying out loud,” Kristina snapped in exasperation.

Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out a checkbook and quickly filled out a check. Then tearing it free, she said,

“If I don’t bring your truck back, you can keep this.”

As she slapped the check into Hunter’s hand, she announced,

“I’m going after him!”

Climbing on her motorcycle, she pulled on her helmet, started the engine and sped away.

Ray turned to see a slack-jawed Hunter, staring with amazement at the check he held.

What’s wrong?” Ray asked.

Hunter showed Ray the check made out for $50,000.

“That’s a lot of zeroes,” Ray said.

“My truck didn’t even cost that much,” Hunter gulped.

“Where did she get that kind of money?” Rory wondered aloud.

Mavis hesitated for a moment then said,

“When her stepfather died, he left her his entire estate worth about 15.6 billion dollars.”

Ray and Rory were stunned into silence.

* * *

“I can’t believe we stole that man’s truck right after we got out of jail,” Victoria said.

“I wasn’t going to let him get away, especially after killing that cop,” Lucas insisted.

“Technically, we didn’t steal the truck. Stealing is defined as the taking of another person’s property without permission or legal right with no intention of returning said property,” Jack explained. “We have every intention of returning it once we have detained Mr. Heath.”

“The only reason we were able to take this truck is because I’m amazing at sneaking around. That schmuck back there was so busy tying his shoes he didn’t even notice me,” Eddie laughed.

“So how do you plan to stop Heath if we catch him?” Dylan asked “Growl at him?”

As the semi gained speed, Lucas saw Heath’s car up ahead, turning right at a traffic light.

“There he is,” Lucas said. “Someone take the wheel! I’m going after him!”

“Take the wheel?” Dylan asked.

“What are you talking about? No one can take the wheel, Lucas. We may be five minds but Billy has only one body,” Jack explained.

“Then we’ll have to do things the old fashioned way,” Lucas said.

Pulling the semi up next to the car, Lucas clipped the back end, causing Heath’s vehicle to spin out of control.

* * *

Charles Heath braced himself as his driver struggled to regain control of the car.

“What happened?” Heath asked.

“That semi clipped us,” the driver explained.

Heath climbed out of the car and looked in the direction of the semi. It had slowed down and was turning around to come back at him.

He saw that the driver of the truck was the same man he had released from jail.

“Oh this one is going to pose quite a challenge,” Heath said smiling.

Climbing back into the car, he told his driver,

“Lose that semi or I’ll throw you under it.”

The driver quickly started the car, slipped it into drive and pulled away as fast as he could.

Glancing in the rearview mirror, he saw that the semi was coming up fast behind them.

“Things are not looking good for you,” Heath said, removing his pistol and pointing it at the driver.

Swallowing nervously, the driver pressed down hard on the gas in hopes that the engine had been holding back.

As the semi drew closer, Heath pressed the pistol against the driver’s throat.

“3. . .2. . .1,” he counted, pausing between each number. Just as he pulled back on the hammer, he spotted a motorcycle flying toward them. From what he could tell, the driver was a female.

“Saved at the last minute,” Heath said.

Lowering his window, Heath leaned out. As he squinted against the wind, he aimed and fired twice at the motorcycle. The first shot missed but the second one caused the driver to lose control.

“For your sake, I hope that works.”

* * *

“Oh dear. Someone has wrecked,” Victoria said.

“They’d better be okay because I’m not stopping,” Lucas growled.

“That is Kristina, Mavis’s friend,” Jack said.

“Please! We have to stop. She may be injured,” Victoria insisted.

“I’m not letting that guy get away!” Lucas roared.

Suddenly the brakes engaged.

Shocked by the sudden stop, Lucas yelled,

“Billy, wait! We can’t stop! He’s getting away!”

“Sorry, mate,” Jack said. “Kristina is Mavis’ friend, and Billy isn’t going to let her get hurt.”

As Heath’s car drove away, the truck pulled to a stop. Billy downshifted, cut off the engine and climbed out.

Kristina was sitting on the side of the road, holding her arm.

“Don’t move, dear,” Victoria said as Billy checked her for injuries.

* * *

In her fear, Mavis didn’t bother obeying the speed limit as she and Ray raced after Kristina.

“I lost her,” Mavis said. “Where is she?”

“Keep going this way. They couldn’t have gotten far,” Ray assured her.

Up ahead she spotted Kristina sitting in the grass on the side of the road with her arm in a makeshift sling. Billy was busy attending to her wounds.

Mavis pulled the Jeep to a stop and killed the engine. Climbing out, she ran over to Kristina.

“Everyone okay?” she asked.

“No!” Billy snapped.

Billy spun and stared past Mavis. Then in a British accent he argued,

“Now, Lucas, don’t be that way. It was not her fault.”

Still staring off at nothing, Billy said,

“Really? I was this close to catching him.”

As the other personalities continued the argument, Ray checked on Kristina.

“You all right?” he asked.

“I’m fine. When that guy shot at me, I overeacted and lost control, wrecking the bike. I just twisted my arm when I fell. Billy, no Victoria, checked my arm and said I should be okay provided I get plenty of rest and take it easy,” Kristina said.

“Victoria said that?” Ray asked.

“Yea,” Mavis replied. “Victoria has extensive medical experience.”

Ray looked over at Billy, still yelling at no one, and asked,

“So what’s going on there?”

“Looks like Lucas and Jack are arguing,” Mavis said.

“It’s my fault he got away. I shouldn’t have rushed in unprepared,” Kristina admitted.

“No, it’s not your fault. Heath sounds pretty dangerous. You’re just lucky he didnt hit you,” Ray pointed out. “Come on. Let’s take the truck back to the owner and get you properly checked out.”

Ray helped Kristina to the Jeep while Mavis tried to calm the personalities. Finally, she convinced Lucas to take the semi back.

“Come on, Lucas. You did your best. Let it go. We’ll get Heath another day.”

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Unsettled: Episode 3

On the way to the police station, Ray thought over Mavis’ story as he listened to the heavy rain pelting the Jeep.

“So that’s why you were available some times and not others?” Ray asked.

Mavis nodded as she concentrated on the wet road.

“I went to see Billy as much as I could. I’m sorry if my being gone caused a problem.”

“No problem at all,” Ray said. “I was just worried about you.”

Ray grew quiet for a moment then looked intently at Mavis.

“And Billy, you’re certain he’s the one, dear?”

Mavis nodded and bit her bottom lip.

“Don’t worry, sweetie. We’ll get him out,” Ray assured her as he reached over and patted her back.

Mavis quickly looked at Ray then back at the road.

“Thanks,” she said as a tear ran down her cheek.

“He’s still at the police department. A friend of mine who’s watching the place promised to phone me as soon as she sees him.”

“That’s fine,” Ray said.

When they reached the police department’s parking area, Ray noticed a woman across the street leaning against a motorcycle. As the wind whipped her short brown hair, she pulled a green army jacket tightly around her to keep out the rain.

“Is that your friend? The one watching for Billy?” Ray asked.

“That’s her,” Mavis said pulling into a parking space.

Reaching into the back seat, Mavis brought out a golf umbrella.

“Wait until I come around,” she said, climbing out of the Jeep.

As Mavis and Ray squeezed under the umbrella, Rory pulled his Bronco into the spot beside them and popped on a hat before stepping out. Just before they crossed the street to Mavis’ friend, the rain suddenly stopped.

The woman, standing 5 feet 7 inches, looked like she could take care of herself in a fight.

“He hasn’t left yet,” she said before they reached her.

“Raymond Slats, this is Kristina Kay,” Mavis said, closing the umbrella.

“Slats. Yeah. Mavis told me about you. You’re a regular Kojack. She’s always going on and on about the criminals you stopped and the lives you’ve saved.”

“Nice to meet you, Kristina. I’m afraid I haven’t heard much about you,” Ray said.

“No problem. May’s always been a live-in-the-moment kind of person. Other than you, she doesn’t talk much about her life in Whitelake,” Kristina explained.

“May?” Ray asked.

“Yea,” Kristina smiled. “When we were kids, I called her May, and she always called me Kris. That’s the one nickname I didn’t mind having.”

Suddenly Rory chimed in,

“Kristina Kay! I remember you!”

“Stop it!” Mavis snapped at Rory.

“What’s going on?” Ray asked.

“Nothing,” Mavis answered, a scowl on her face.

“It’s okay, May. Really. I don’t mind so much anymore,” Kristina said.

Kristina turned to Ray to explain.

“People around here consider me bad luck. Mavis was the only one who didn’t let that bother her. I was born on Friday the 13th at 1:13 p.m., and my mom’s hospital room number was 913.”

“I get Friday the 13th and of course 1:13 p.m. is 13:13 in military time, but what about the room number?” Ray asked.

“The room number has the number thirteen in it plus, if you add 9, 1 and 3, you get the number 13. People always avoided me like the plague because they just knew I would bring them bad luck.”

Mavis glanced past them to the police station door and spotted Billy leaving.

“There he is!” she exclaimed, pushing past them and running toward Billy.

Ray watched as Billy’s face lit up at the sight of Mavis. He dropped his shoes and caught her as she dove for him. Lifting her up, he brought her close as she enthusiastically hugged and kissed him.

After a moment, Ray saw Mavis whisper something in Billy’s ear. Reluctantly putting her down, he took Mavis’ hand and followed her over to her friends. Ray had never seen Mavis look so happy.

“Everyone,” Mavis said, “this is William Brannon.”

Billy released Mavis’ hand and stepped up to Ray.

“A pleasure to meet you, sir,” Billy said.

“Oh you can call me Ray, son. Everyone does,” Ray said with a smile.

“Yes. Raymond Slats,” Billy said with a British accent. “Retired cab driver responsible for bringing Bradford King to justice. Raymond Slats is the name you’re currently travelling under.”

“What?” Rory asked.

Billy turned to Rory and said,

“Gregory Tavish, formerly of Scotland Yard. Now retired freelance detective and muscle.”

Billy turned to Kristina and said,

“And you are Kristina Kay, stepdaughter of Oswald Zamoura and local expert on bad luck.”

“Mavis?” Ray asked hesitantly. “Is this one of them?”

“I’m terribly sorry. My name is Jack and to answer your question, yes I am one of the personalities residing within William’s fractured mind. I do appreciate everything you have done for Mavis, and I hope to have your continued support should I need it in future.”

“How come you know so much about us yet you’ve been locked away chasing butterflies?” Rory asked.

Mavis clenched her jaw and shot Rory a hostile glare as Jack said,

“Not to worry, my dear. When you were attempting to stop Captain Bonkers, I offered you help, did I not? But before I was ready to assist you, I had to learn as much as I could about you. After all, knowledge precedes victory.”

“Ignorance precedes defeat,” Kristina added. “Sun Tzu.”

“That is correct,” Jack said looking off to nowhere. “I like her.”

Suddenly Billy whipped his face in another direction and in a different voice said,

“We don’t have time for chit chat. That cop could already be dead.”

“Be right back, lads,” Jack said.

Billy’s face suddenly went blank and he stood perfectly still.

Mavis softly placed her hand on Billy’s shoulder.

“Billy?” she asked.

“Yea?” Billy replied, suddenly snapping to.

“Are you okay?” Mavis asked.

“I’m fine. Jack and Lucas are just having another argument,” Billy responded.

“Who are they?” Ray asked.

“Jack is the oldest and smartest. Lucas, he’s the physical one. Always on the lookout for threats. Always protecting me. Then there’s Eddie. He’s sneaky. Talks a lot about hunting. Victoria is the nice one. Whenever I get nervous, she always calms me down. And then there’s Dylan Desmond. He’s kind of what I imagine an older brother would be like,” Billy explained.

“Those are the other personalities I was telling you about,” Mavis said.

* * *

While Ray and Mavis watched with Rory and Kristina, the personalities began to engage in a full debate.

Angrily pacing back and forth, Lucas snapped, “We don’t have time to sit around yakking like old friends. That cop could be dead already.”

“Yea. You just said that. But listen. He’s not going to murder a police detective inside a police station. That would be stupid, suicidal,” Dylan pointed out.

“Technically, if there are no witnesses, he could get away with it,” Eddie suggested.

“Guys, we really should consider how this is making Billy look to Mavis and her friends,” Victoria said.

Ignoring Victoria’s concern, Jack replied,

“There’s not much we can do for the detective right now but keep an eye out. Once he leaves, he will be in grave danger.”

At that moment, an alarm went off and Ray saw police officers near the front entrance jump up from their desks and run toward the sound.

“Told you so,” Lucas said.

Just then Lucas spotted a vehicle pulling out of the police station parking lot. When he saw Charles Heath in the passenger seat, he yelled,

“That’s him!”

* * *

“What in the world is going on?” Ray asked.

“The detective is dead, and his murderer is driving away,” Billy exclaimed as he pointed to Heath’s vehicle.

“Quick. Somebody get the license plate,” Ray answered. “Rory, can you tail him?”

“I’m on it,” Rory said, heading for his Bronco.

“Too late. Someone’s already on it,” Kristina said, pointing past them to a semi in hot pursuit.

At that moment, a man ran up to them, red-faced and angry.

“That guy just stole my truck!” he shouted.

“What guy?” Ray asked.

“Where’s Billy?” Rory asked.

Published in: on September 17, 2017 at 2:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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Unsettled: Episode 2

The rumble of thunder grew louder as Mavis sped past the Coldwater city limits sign and up to the first traffic light.

“You know, Mavis, there was always something about this town that made me uncomfortable,” Ray confessed.

“Tell me about it!” Mavis agreed. “When my family first moved here, it felt like Paradise. A beautiful new world filled with fantastic possibilities. But the more time we spent here, the more the veneer seemed to crack, letting the darkness beneath show through.”

“So let me get this straight,” Ray said. “William Brannon is a friend of yours who’s just been discharged from the hospital. He sees a man with a gun approaching two police detectives and decides to step in and help. He engages the armed man, takes him down before he can fire a shot at the detectives, and in the scuffle, the man’s gun falls to the pavement. Then the detectives arrest William and the armed man until they can sort things out. Is that about right?”

Mavis nodded.

“And you’re worried that the police may run William’s name through the system, discover he has priors, and assume he’s guilty?” Ray asked.

“Yes,” Mavis nodded.

Ray eyed her for a moment then said, “Mavis, I have a hunch there’s something you’re not sharing.”

“Nope,” Mavis said, keeping her eyes fixed on the road.

Ray wasn’t buying it. He sensed there was more to this story.

As the approaching storm moved closer, the wind picked up and the sky darkened with the great rolling clouds. When it began to sprinkle, Mavis was glad she had put up the top before leaving Richard and Deborah’s house.

“What aren’t you telling me?” Ray asked.

“We’re here,” Mavis said, changing the subject.

Coldwater was an island about thirty miles off the coast of Whitelake. The first thing newcomers saw when they hit the city limits was the city’s oldest restaurant. Its name a play on words, the Cold Waterfront was an icon to the town. Ray spotted Rory’s Bronco in the restaurant’s parking lot. Rory was leaning against it playing a game of fetch with Roddy.

Mavis pulled to a stop, killed the engine and climbed out of the Jeep.

“Glad you’re here,” Rory called. “Let’s get out of this rain.”

Taking the lead, Rory headed for the restaurant’s breezeway.

“How are things with you?” Ray asked.

“Could be better,” Rory answered. “Mavis fill you in?”

“Pretty much. Mavis’ friend William Brannon was arrested after saving a police detective from being shot. The detective arrested both William and the gunman until he can figure out what happened. Mavis wants to get William released before the detective discovers he has a record,” Ray summed up.

“So Mavis told you about the institute?” Rory said.

“You mean the hospital? She said he just got out, but that shouldn’t be a problem,” Ray said.

Rory had a look of confusion then turned his head and frowned at Mavis. When Mavis quickly averted her eyes, anger washed over Rory’s face.

“Mavis Marie Warner! You didn’t tell him did you?”

“I was afraid he wouldn’t help,” Mavis confessed.

“Tell him or I will!” Rory snapped.

“Tell me what?” Ray asked. “What’s going on?”

Mavis hesitated then agreed.

“Okay, here goes. I met William when you were in the hospital, Ray, when you had that mild heart attack. William was recovering from a severe car accident. He had to have extensive facial reconstructive surgery and physical therapy. But he was getting better, just not fully up and walking yet. The moment we met, we fell in love, pure and simple. He was in the hospital for six more months, and I visited him every day. All I knew about him was that he had been a soldier. Really, that’s all he knew, based on his admittance papers. The accident left Billy with severe amnesia, and the only thing he knew about himself was what they told him. The good news was a company called The Neverland Foundation was paying all of his medical bills because he had signed up for a harmless experimental procedure that might restore his memory.  The day he left the hospital was the saddest day of my life. I wasn’t going to see him again for years.  And because of the secrecy of the experiment, he couldn’t even call or write. I didn’t hear from him again until three years ago when I got a call from a doctor at the Morris Greystone Institute about a John Doe who had just been admitted. Whoever submitted the commitment papers had signed my name. When I drove to the institute, I saw that the patient was Billy. He had scars he hadn’t had before, and he was clean-shaven, even his eyebrows. But the worst part was he was catatonic.”

Mavis wiped at a tear running down her cheek before she continued.

“The doctors couldn’t get any sort of response. I started visiting him as often as I could get away, and a few weeks later, he began to show signs of life. The doctors said he started moving, even saying a few words. The only problem was he used a lot of different mannerisms and voices. The doctors concluded that whatever happened to Billy had left him with severe dissociative identity disorder. He showed other signs of the disorder, but the only one they could pinpoint was that he seemed to have five different personalities, not counting his own. The weird part was that while the doctors studied him, they noticed that the personalities seemed to coexist. When they tried to explain all this to me, they said that normally with dissociative identity disorder, one personality at a time is in control. But with Billy, the personalities seemed to be able to interact with each other, even control different parts of the body at one time. One doctor observed that Billy could watch television, read a book, play chess with one of the orderlies and solve a crossword puzzle all at the same time.”

Mavis stopped to catch her breath.

“And that’s what you’re afraid they’ll find out?” Ray asked.

“Yes,” Mavis said.

“No it’s not!” Rory corrected.

Mavis sighed and said,

“Technically, Billy left the hospital before he was cured. The others kind of tricked the doctors.”

“The others?” Ray asked.

“The other personalities. They decided the only way to uncover what happened to Billy was to start investigating, and they knew that wasn’t going to happen inside a cell,” Mavis explained.

Stunned by Mavis’ story, Ray tried to take it all in.

“Now you know,” Rory said, “the real reason why Mavis needs your help. She’s afraid the cops are going to find out her boyfriend is an escaped mental patient.”

“Fiancé,” Mavis corrected.

“What?!” Ray and Rory asked in unison.

Mavis held up her left hand to show her gold diamond ring.

“Before Billy left the hospital in Whitelake, he proposed and I said yes.”

 

*          *          *

 

Billy rose from the cot and walked over to the cell bars. With his forefinger, he traced the outline of the colorful parrots on his shirt. Just behind him, Lucas paced back and forth, growing more agitated with every step.

“We’re getting nowhere locked up like this,” Lucas growled.

“I already know how to get us out. Just say the word,” Eddie bragged.

“For the billionth time, we’re not breaking out!” Dylan said, brushing back his salt and pepper hair.

“I fear we may have to, if something doesn’t happen soon,” Jack pointed out.

“Oh yes!” Eddie exclaimed. “It’s go time!”

“Wait!” Victoria said. “Breaking out of jail right after getting him out of the hospital isn’t going to help Billy at all.”

“We may have no other choice, my dear,” Jack replied.

“Quiet! Someone’s coming,” Lucas whispered.

A medium build man, around 6.2 tall, dressed in a dark blue Italian silk suit with a grey pocket handkerchief, walked up to the cell and looked over Billy. The pomade on his crew cut had a faint vanilla scent.

“When I heard that someone had taken out one of my best men, I had to see this hero for myself. I have to admit, I thought I would be looking at a soldier stepped right off the pages of a magazine. But—.”

The man suddenly stopped talking when he saw Billy’s feet. Billy’s shoes were gone, and he stood in a pair of blue socks.

“Not this,” the man said.

“My shoes were too tight,” Billy said matter-of-factly.

Then his posture straightened as he spoke with a British accent,

“What can I do for you?”

“Nothing really. I just had to meet you. I’m Charles Heath, and I’ll be frank with you. It’s unusual for a man of my expertise to encounter a challenge, so for your sake, I’ll give you a head start.”

Heath paused, put his face close to the bars and said,

“I’m going to burn this city to the ground, and I’m going to give you a chance to stop me.”

The door at the end of the hallway opened and Detective Ethan Snow walked in, followed by the armed man who had attempted to kill him.

“I do hope you try to stop me. Not tonight, though. Tonight we’re just cleaning the board. Before we set up the next game, we need to reset the pieces,” Heath whispered as the detective approached.

“All right, I got him. What do you want?” Snow asked.

“Release this man,” Heath ordered gesturing toward Billy.

“I work for Councilman Parker, not you,” Snow protested.

“Now that is true. But you see, Parker works for me. So if A equals B and B equals C then,” Heath paused, “you work for me.”

Snow hesitated then turned and unlocked the cell.

“You should go,” Heath told Billy. “This next part isn’t for innocent eyes.”

Billy paused, wondering what he meant, then slowly left the cell with his shoes tucked under his arm.

After Billy was well out of sight, Snow faced Heath, turning his back to the failed assassin.

“Now what?” Snow growled.

“I gave you an order. I expect you to finish it,” Heath said.

“I did,” Snow grumbled.

Suddenly the man behind Snow slipped a garrote over the detective’s head then began to tighten it around his neck. Heath stared into Snow’s terrified eyes as he struggled to breath.

As the assassin lowered Snow’s dead body to the floor, Heath watched then said,

“You have your orders.”

“Yes, sir,” the man answered then walked into the nearest empty cell and closed the door behind him.

“Good boy,” Heath said. “Looks like I have a new toy.”

Charles Heath exited the holding cells, leaving behind Snow’s dead body, his eyes fixed on the ceiling.

Published in: on August 17, 2017 at 1:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Unsettled: Episode 1

The Garden Path

 

 

 

A blanket of heavy rain clouds covered the sky over Coldwater as Mavis flew across the causeway in the chilly air. She looked up, hoping to see a break in the clouds, but it seemed the sun was not coming out of his tent today. Three months ago, Mavis had been pleased that her father had enough confidence in her to pass his properties into her hands after his retirement. But the joy she felt had been brief, diminished by the thought of leaving behind her friends in Whitelake. She had grown to love them like family.

She glanced at the speedometer and gasped when she saw how fast she was driving. Her new blue Jeep Wrangler was barely three months old, and already she was driving it too fast. She had promised her father that she wouldn’t exceed the speed limit. With the top down, the wind was whipping her hair around, tying it in knots, but Mavis had too much on her mind to care. Most of the half hour drive to Whitelake was over bridge spans with stretches of road and white beaches creating a beautiful scenic route. Despite the menacing weather, speedboats and fishing boats bobbed in the choppy water, the captains seemingly oblivious to the approaching storm. On the surface, Coldwater was a utopia, a vacation paradise where only the rich came to play. That atmosphere is what had drawn Mavis and her family away from their home in Montana. Regrettably, after living there for only a few months, they saw that the charming tropical spot was a façade.

Seagulls flew alongside her, squawking as though pleading with her not to leave, but Mavis had no choice. She had promised herself she would let him rest, but circumstances had grown worse, much quicker than she had expected. Shaking her head clear of doubts, she reminded herself whom she was doing this for.

“He came back for me,” she told herself, “so I won’t give up on him. Ray will know what to do.”

The moment Mavis entered the city limits of Whitelake, the clouds parted and the sun appeared. For a moment, Mavis looked up and let the welcome sunshine warm her face. Then she pushed in her music for the road cd and hit the play button. Steve Winwood’s soulful tenor voice soothed her as “Roll With It” played over the speakers. Mavis tapped her hand against the steering wheel and sang along.

She figured she would find Ray either with his daughter or at his own house, so she took a shot and drove to Richard and Deborah’s neighborhood. She was thrilled when a few minutes later, she spotted Ray’s black Cadillac parked in their driveway.

Mavis pulled up to the front of the house and cut off the engine. She took a deep breath, pulled the keys out of the ignition, and tried to smooth her hair.

When she slipped out of the jeep and crossed the lawn, everything came flooding back to her. At the front door, she stopped and listened. She could hear laughter inside as she reached out and knocked frantically.

After a moment, Richard opened the door.

“Mavis? What’s wrong?” he inquired.

“I need to talk to Ray,” she said, a worried look on her face.

“Sure. Come on in.”

Mavis hurried into the room and crossed to Ray.

“Ray! I need your help!”

“What’s going on?” Ray asked.

“A friend of mine is in jail, and I need you to get him out.”

“What did he do?” Ray asked.

“He stopped a hitman from killing a Coldwater PD detective.”

“Which detective?” Richard asked.

“Ethan Snow,” Mavis answered.

“And he was arrested for that?” Deborah asked.

“Snow said he could not be certain who was attacking and who wasn’t, so he arrested both men,” Mavis explained.

“That’s Snow all right,” Richard said, shaking his head. “He doesn’t like being saved. Thinks it makes him look weak. He’s done this before. So sad.”

Richard turned to Deborah and said,

“Sweetheart, let me borrow your phone.”

“Where’s yours?” Deborah asked.

“In the bedroom charging,” Richard replied.

“Oh. Okay,” Deborah said, handing him her phone.

“What are you doing?” Mavis asked Richard.

“Calling the CWPD Commissioner. He’s a friend of mine. I’ll straighten this out.”

“No!” Mavis cried out, almost slapping the phone out of Richard’s hand.

“Sorry, Richard, but the less people know about this, the better,” Mavis said.

“Okay, Mavis, what’s going on?” Ray asked suspiciously.

“My friend. . .,” she hesitated, “has a record, and I’m afraid if anyone finds out what he’s involved in, it will cost him.”

“Please, Ray, help me,” she pleaded.

“Are you talking about William?” Tommy asked.

As tears filled her eyes, Mavis looked at Tommy and nodded yes.

“Ray, you’d better go,” urged Tommy. “There’s no time to waste.”

“What is going on?” Richard insisted.

“I’ll explain later,” Tommy said. “Right now, these two need to get moving. The sooner the better.”

Ray slowly stood and planted a kiss on Deborah’s forehead.

“Come on, buddy,” he said to Pete. “Let’s go.”

Ray headed for the front door but stopped and turned when the little dog didn’t follow.

Pete stayed curled up beside Deborah, refusing to move.

“How about you stay here and protect them?” Ray asked.

When Pete barked, Ray couldn’t help but smile as he left with Mavis.

“I’ll drive,” she said, heading for the Jeep.

“So why don’t you tell me what’s going on and who William is,” he said when she started the engine.

“First, I’d better tell you how we got to this point. William might be a little harder to explain. He’s. . .,” Mavis paused to search for the word, “different.”

 

*          *          *

 

 

Billy sat on the prison cot and picked lint off the ugly mud brown polyester pants the staff had issued him when he left the hospital. His shoes were a bit too tight, and the tacky Hawaiian print shirt covered with its neon-colored parrots, palm trees, and flamingos scratched his skin. There was one good thing, though. He was out of the hospital, at least for the moment. Talk about short-lived freedom. As he tried to figure out how he got here, he sat back against the wall and watched the other prisoners wander around the cell like restless caged animals at the zoo.

“I don’t understand it,” Lucas said.

Lucas paced in front of the cell door like a trapped coyote, his muscles flexing under his faded blue muscle shirt. Slipping the black cap off his head, he began to twist it in frustration.

“What’s not to understand?” Eddie asked from the wall he leaned against. His brown leather jacket squeaked when he shifted his weight on the cold stone. Running his fingers through his short brown hair, he pulled back a loose strand and let it drop to the floor.

“He saved the cop and got locked away for his effort. Clearly that cop wants something, or he wants Billy out of the way.”

“Why would he want Billy out of the way?” Dylan Desmond asked.

Dylan Desmond was the second oldest in the group, trained in law and order. He scratched his chin as he stared at Eddie and waited for an answer.

“Cause he’s a bad cop,” Eddie said, putting a finger to his temple. “Duh.”

“Corrupt cops don’t arrest you, Eddie. They take you out back and shoot you,” Dylan said sarcastically. “Duh.”

“He probably wants to make sure Billy is innocent and really a hero before he lets him go. He’s being wise, cautious,” Victoria said.

The only girl in the group, Victoria was the voice of compassion, always looking for the best in people. With her long blonde hair and soft blue eyes, she was the embodiment of subtle sexiness. Everyone usually listened to her. That is, unless Jack had a different opinion.

“No, my dear,” Jack said turning away from the wall he had been studying.

Jack, the oldest, was the patriarch of the group. His white hair and beard gave him an air of wisdom. With his thick British accent he said,

“It does not make sense that he would arrest William out of caution. Involves too much paperwork. But he does not plan to kill him. If he did, he would have done so instead of arresting him.”

Jack paused to consider his next words before speaking.

“This behavior is closer to someone who is taking orders. If someone else is dictating his actions, the detective probably arrested William because it was the best way to secure him until the boss could tell him what to do.”

“So what happens next?” Lucas asked, turning to Jack.

“I do not know,” Jack said. “But it would be wise to exercise caution. I do not have enough information to predict what will happen next.”

“Just say the word, boy,” Eddie said with a Texas drawl, “and I’ll have us out of here in no time.”

“We’re not breaking out of jail,” Dylan Desmond growled.

“Not yet anyway,” Jack added. “For now, we wait for our opponent’s next move.”

 

*          *          *

 

Officer Dixon’s shoes clicked on the tile floor as he walked back to the cells. When he came to the first cell, he tapped on the bars. Sitting alone in the cell on a cot across from the door was a young man wearing brown pants and a cheap Hawaiian shirt. With his short, spiky hair and close-trimmed beard, the ugly clothes made him look out of balance.

“What’s your name, son?” Dixon asked.

“William Brannon,” the young man answered.

“I thought I heard voices. Anyone back here with you?” Dixon asked.

“No sir,” he answered with a distinct British accent. “As you can see, I am quite alone.”

When the young man smiled, Officer Dixon nodded and said,

“All right. Just keep it down.”

“Thank you, Constable,” Brannon answered then corrected himself. “Officer.”

Coming soon

army-unsettled

Published in: Uncategorized on March 3, 2017 at 8:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Train: Episode 62

For someone with Nicole’s skill, getting past police officers and into the records room was a piece of cake.  She knew well enough that it was just a simple matter of patience, stealth, and memory. Every time she approached a target, she went over these three words in her mind. As she took in the scene, she thought,

“These cops are useless.”

The back door was propped open, and the officer on duty was fast asleep.

When she drew close to the duty officer, she stopped and stood over him. A small stream of drool ran down his bottom lip as he rested his hand on a half-eaten bag of chips.

“Useless,” she thought again.

Shaking off her disdain as she tried to clear her head and refocus, Nicole moved past the sleeping guard and into the hall beyond. Signs leading to the records room were clearly marked. The hall was empty except for one of the cleaning crew, slowly working the floor polisher from side to side. Moving slowly so as not to draw attention to herself, Nicole felt a small surge of excitement as she slipped down the hall behind the oblivious man.

“Almost as satisfying as eliminating a target,” she thought, a smile working its way across her face.

Within a few minutes, she had picked the lock on the records room door and was standing inside, her back against the wall as her chest heaved with each excited breath.

But when the face of little Kenneth Cooper slipped into her thoughts, she straightened up and began searching for any information related to Cynthia Cooper, Terry Herbert Wilson or Anthony Armstrong. Despite the unguarded nature and overall lack of discipline at the station, the records room was remarkably organized. In no time, Nicole had her hand on the case file for Terry Herbert Wilson.

Opening the folder, she began to scan its contents. Wilson had been the primary suspect in the murder of Adam Coffery.

“What a minute. I just saw that name somewhere,” Nicole remembered.

Once again she opened the file cabinet and searched until she found the file for Adam Coffery. When she slipped the folder out of the drawer and opened it, she saw that the case was closed. Assistant district attorney Adam Coffery had been found beaten to death at a private party celebrating the birthday of Anthony Armstrong. No witnesses were listed, but the file named two suspects—Anthony Armstrong and Terry Herbert Wilson. Armstrong’s name was marked through and alongside Wilson’s name, someone had noted the time he was added.

“Only a few hours ago. Convenient naming a dead guy as your suspect,” she thought.

Nicole found it odd that police had no witnesses, but when she discovered that the investigating detective was Morgan Lindsay, some things started to make sense.

“Armstrong had a temper. I’ll bet Coffery approached him in the wrong way or threatened him and Armstrong lost it. He attacked Coffery and killed him. But how could there be no witnesses?” she wondered.

Then it hit her.

“Stupid! Why didn’t you see it sooner?” she scolded.

Nicole remembered that night in the warehouse, and Armstrong’s words to Wilson came back to her.

“Fine, Wilson. My problem is not with you but with your girlfriend Cynthia. I want a guarantee that she’ll keep her mouth shut about what she saw that night she sang at my party.”

Cynthia Cooper had been there that night singing. She must have witnessed the murder and Armstrong was worried about her talking.

“That’s why her time of death changed. I’ll bet Wilson was going to kill her to keep her quiet,” Nicole whispered.

Suddenly Nicole heard a sound in the hallway and froze. She knew the cleaning staff had finished that section and wouldn’t be coming back through there. Perhaps one of the officers needed a file to finish some last minute paperwork.

She found an inconspicuous spot to hide and prepared herself for an encounter. If necessary, she could easily incapacitate the person. Sometimes ending someone was the only way. Before she became a part of the train, she had been a highly skilled assassin but she had always followed a code, and meaningless death was not part of it.

The door to the records room slowly opened and Nicole heard a low voice call softly,

“Nicole?”

Nicole let out a sigh of relief,

“Michael.”

She came out of her hiding place and approached him.

“Have you found anything?” he asked.

Nicole shared the information she had discovered along with her speculation.

“But none of that explains who kills her now or who kills Lindsey or you.”

“This might,” Michael said, removing a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket.

He passed the note to Nicole, and after she read it she said,

“Sounds like whoever wrote this note doesn’t want Lindsay to tell the truth.”

“I agree,” Michael said, “but if your ideas are correct and Armstrong murdered Coffery, why still hide what happened?”

“Whoever wrote that note was there that night and may have seen the murder. They say that Lindsay was involved. If that’s true, maybe he’s afraid he’ll go down for the murder as well,” Nicole said.

“Do this and we’re square,” Michael quoted from the note. “Is it me or does that sound more like what a bookie or debt collector would say?”

“It is possible Lindsay owed money,” Nicole said.

“And if he falsified the case report, Lindsay would have been afraid he’d get caught, especially with Cynthia Cooper still alive,” Michael added.

“Maybe they’re threatening Lindsay because they’re afraid he’s going to involve them if he’s discovered, so they’re using his debt to force him to kill the only other witness,” Michael said.

“We need to get back to Cynthia!” Nicole insisted.

 

Published in: on July 18, 2016 at 3:10 pm  Comments (1)  
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The Train Episode 61

In the wake of Officer Morgan Lindsey’s kidnapping, Michael and Nicole found themselves no closer to discovering Cynthia Cooper’s killer. With little to go on, they decided to find Lindsey who seemed inexplicably connected to everything.

“Any idea where he lives?” Michael asked.

“None,” Nicole replied.

“Well we don’t have much choice but to learn what we can about him. Hopefully that will lead to whoever snatched him,” Michael figured.

“While you were talking to Lindsey back at the club, Dr. Ricer mentioned the precinct where he works. Maybe we should start there,” Nicole suggested.

“Good idea,” Michael said.

“Of course it is,” Nicole returned.

* * *

The precinct was a short walk from the nightclub where Cynthia Cooper worked, so Michael had little time to work out a plan. The moon was already cresting when they reached the steps of the police station. Since leaving the train, Michael had become so immersed in the character he had been playing that the days were beginning to run together.

He noticed that the few patrol cars parked outside were neatly lined up like ducks behind their mother.

“I think—” Michael began.

“You find his desk. I’ll infiltrate the records room,” Nicole interrupted.

Michael looked at her, considering the notion.

“I’m better at infiltration than you. The records room will be in a restricted part of the building. It’ll be easier for me to reach it. You just charm your way to his desk,” she explained.

Climbing the steps, Michael stopped at the front door and asked,

“Are you going to be okay?”

When no answer came, he turned to discover that Nicole had disappeared.

As he stepped inside the station, the first person he saw was the desk sergeant reading some papers stacked on his desk. Michael’s thoughts began to speed up.

Getting past a Sentry:

Step 1: Choose an approach.

Deception. Lying is a good way to get past guards, bouncers, or manned gates. Depends on exploitation of what the sentry does not know.

Seduction. Sexually enticing someone through charm, attraction and light physical contact. Get them interested and keep them interested. Don’t move too quickly or too slowly.

Bribery. Sentries are usually underpaid, unappreciated, overlooked employees. Simply offer them something that balances out their being fired or reprimanded.

Step 2: Act Natural.

Behave as if you belong, as if you’re expected. Don’t slow down or ask for directions. You’re simply trying to do what you’ve always done, and there is no reason to think you shouldn’t be doing it. Sentries see a lot of people pass through the gates, so they usually don’t bother to remember or recognize anyone. Exploit this advantage.

Step 3: Don’t hang your head or try not to be noticed.

The more you act as if you aren’t doing anything wrong, the better your chances. But don’t overdo it and end up drawing their attention. If they stop you and question you, laugh it off. If they catch you in a lie, tell an even bigger one to cover it up.

Michael immediately dismissed seduction and bribery, figuring deception was his best option.

The desk sergeant was an overweight man in his forties with thinning hair and dark circles under his eyes, probably from too many nights sitting up staring at a door that never opened.

“I can’t believe they have me working this late,” Michael fussed as he approached.

The desk sergeant squinted through smudged eyeglasses and took in a breath to say something. Without giving him a chance to speak, Michael dove right in. Experience had taught him that in some cases, the hard and fast approach gets the target off guard and keeps them there.

“Stellan Stackhouse, FBI,” Michael said, using the name from a crime drama that would air in about 50 years’ time. “I’m supposed to meet with an Officer Lindsey about a kidnapping that carried over state lines. He at his desk?”

Michael spotted the door leading back to the desks and pointed,

“Never mind. I’ll check.”

When the desk sergeant started to respond, Michael added,

“Doing a great job. Keep up the good work. We’re watching you.”

He turned toward the door and walked away, letting out a deep breath.

“Haven’t done that in a while,” he thought. “I missed it.”

Michael searched the desks and finally found one with a metal nameplate for Officer Morgan Lindsey. As luck would have it, most of the officers were out covering the streets, so Michael sat in the chair and started going through the drawers.

“Guess there’s no need for a night shift when you have a crime boss running things,” he laughed under his breath.

Except for a discarded soda bottle and a brown apple core, the trash can looked empty. But when Michael grabbed a pencil and shifted the contents, he saw a crumpled up piece of paper. Lifting it out of the trash with the pencil’s point, he opened it up and read.

“Don’t try anything stupid, Lindsey. Remember I was there that night, so I know you were involved. If you turn stoolie on me, I’ll take you down. Armstrong’s dead. He can’t save you now. Just deal with the girl. She’s the only witness. Do this and we’re square.”

Michael folded the note and shoved it into his pocket.

Pushing back from the desk, he mumbled,

“I’ve got to find Nicole!”

Published in: on June 19, 2016 at 5:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Prophet of Starfall 2nd Teaser

Coming Soon…

The Train: Episode 43

Detective Ronald Brewer sat at his desk nursing a cup of hot coffee. After a sip, he reached into the bottom desk drawer, pulled out a flask, and added a generous splash of whiskey. Pushing the drawer closed, he winced and rubbed his shoulder where Richard Carpenter had winged him.

“That guy’s crazy,” Brewer said, reaching for the cup.

It had been almost two days since they found Matthew Carpenter, and with no word from Richard, he was starting to get jumpy. The mild weather of late had led to storms, and as Brewer watched out the window, heavy winds tore at trees, sending leaves swirling through the air and racing down the street.

When the phone suddenly rang, Brewer jumped, spilling the hot liquid down his shirtfront. Cursing, he dropped the cup, bouncing it across the desk to the floor. As if in a daze, he watched the coffee collect in a puddle and run down the corner of the desk onto the worn carpet. A second ring snapped him out of his daydream, and he quickly reached for the phone.

“Hello?” he asked, his voice quivering.

“Brewer,” Richard said on the other end, “release my brother and send him to the garage. The killer is trapped there, and I will need his help.”

“But—” Brewer began in protest. The line went dead.

Brewer dumbly stared at the phone in confusion before finally hanging up and heading to the holding cells.

Retrieving the keys, he found Tommy on the cell cot, out cold in a deep sleep.

As he unlocked the cell door, Brewer yelled out,

“Carpenter. Get up!”

Tommy snapped awake and turned toward the voice, struggling to focus.

“Yea. What is it?” he yawned.

“Your brother called. You’re to meet him at the garage. Said he has the killer cornered and wants your help,” Brewer explained.

“Great! I’ll need your wheels,” Tommy said, snapping to his feet.

Without another word, Brewer stood aside as Tommy burst out of the cell.

He knew it was against rules to let anyone outside the department drive his car, but right now, he didn’t care. He could feel his sanity slipping away, his life slowly unraveling.

Reaching into his coat pocket, Brewer removed his car keys and held them out.

Tommy grabbed them and ran for the exit, leaving behind a despondent Brewer.

The detective shuffled into the empty cell and plopped down on the cot. Setting the cell keys at his side, he pulled out his revolver and stared at it for a long moment. Loading a round, he pulled back the hammer and pressed the barrel to his chin. With eyes closed and a quivering lip, Brewer took a deep breath.

“That may not be the best decision, Detective,” a man with a mid-Atlantic accent said.

Brewer stopped and looked toward the cell door. The light behind the man obscured his face.

“I can promise you things are not as bleak as they seem,” the man continued.

“What do you know?” Brewer asked. “My life is spiraling out of control.”

“Spiraling? Or merely righting itself?” the man asked.

 

 

*          *          *

 

 

Tommy always spent most of his time in the garage, working on cars and giving orders to his personal crew. Eager to be of help to his brother Richard, he pulled to a stop just outside and walked through the front door. Three men, all his employees, were gathered around the television watching the latest weather updates.

“Guys, don’t we have something better to do than watch television. My brother’s here, and he needs our help.”

The men looked at each other in confusion and one said,

“Boss, your brother ain’t here.”

Another added, “Yea, boss. He called a few minutes ago and told us to wait here for you.”

Tommy knew something wasn’t right. His muscles clinched as he hurried out of the room to his office. At first glance, everything looked just as he had left it. But when he tried to find the keys to his Plymouth, they were missing. Cursing, he stormed out of the office.

“Get in the truck. We’re going hunting,” he yelled.

Scrambling to their feet, the three men ran for the truck and pulled up out front. Just as Tommy was coming through the front door, he heard the phone in his office ringing.

“Hold up,” he hollered. “That might be Richard.”

He hurried back to his office and grabbed the phone.

“Hello?” Tommy said.

“Hello?” he repeated.

While he listened for an answer, he noticed that something was different. The high backed leather chair was turned away from the desk, something he never did. In a chill of fear, he reached out with a shaking arm and turned the chair around. Slumped in the seat was a bruised, bleeding and very dead Richard. Tommy saw a crumpled piece of paper sticking out of the gaping mouth. Feeling as though he might vomit, he reached out and slowly pulled on the end. As he hung up the phone, he carefully opened the paper. Scribbled in his brother’s handwriting, the note read,

“One left.”

Tommy threw down the paper, pulled out his gun and ran to the front door. Flinging it open, he yelled,

“Guys!”

Just as one of the men opened the window to hear, the truck exploded, killing all three men and throwing Tommy back inside the house.

Lying on the floor from the impact, Tommy lifted his hands to his aching head. When he opened his eyes, he saw that written on the ceiling were the words—

“You’re next.”