Friday Fictioneers: 7/14/17

To participate in this week’s Friday Fictioneers, visit Rochelle’s site. The picture prompt below is the property of  Janet Webb.

 

BETRAYED BY TECHNOLOGY

He’d done it. He smiled at the perfect job. He’d left her lying across the bed with the pill bottle in her hand. And she hadn’t even suspected that he’d doctored her drink.

She did love to drink, and that had made it so easy. He smiled again as he leaned back in his easy chair savoring his success. Leaving the lone candle burning was an artistic touch. And his fake alibi was so tight, he’d never be suspected.

Now, to call Bernard and report his success. Reaching into his pocket, he froze. Where the hell was his cell phone?

 

~~~

Friday Fictioneers 6/9/17: ‘The Gardener’

It’s been a while since I’ve had opportunity to participate in Friday Fictioneers, but this week’s photo just pulled this little tale right out of me. If you’d like to join in the fun, visit Rochelle at the link above.

This week’s photo is courtesy of Sarah Potter. There was no link for Sarah on the host site. Sorry. But her photo is below, and my story follows that.

summer house

Photo © Sarah Potter


THE GARDENER

There it was: the jar labeled plant food. Just as I’d left it when they’d handcuffed me and carted me off. It looked innocuous amidst the heinous overgrowth of Hilda’s desk-top garden. Everyone knew plants were her life, and a jar of food drew no attention at all.

The police finally released me; no trace of evidence I had poisoned her. The doctor identified the fatal stuff with some multi-syllabled word, but nothing pointed to my having any of it.

Now … to mix a drink for these damned plants with the rest of that powder.

 

 

~~~

An ‘Innocent’ Crime & Romance Story

SIM. ST. INNOCENT FRONT AM. COVER2My newest release is a Crime & Romance Novella — Book 1 of the Simon Stone Detective Series. The series is  composed of ‘On Target, Quick-Read’ Novellas that should appeal to busy readers.

Book 1 is a story that I originally wrote right here on this blog: INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY

Here’s a peek at what it’s about:

Deanna Forbes is a suspect in a murder investigation, but that fact doesn’t interfere with her desires. And, as a woman, she finds herself attracted to Detective Simon Stone, who conducts the two interviews with her before she is taken off the suspect list. She surprises Stone, and herself, when she invites him to have dinner with her so she can get to know him better.

Simon is a detective with a heart, and, so far, that heart has never been broken. So falling in love with a woman he suspects of murder doesn’t seem like a smart thing to do. But sometimes the heart has a mind of its own. He may be the sharpest detective on the force, but love is not a subject covered in the standard law enforcement manuals.

Paperback – $4.99 – from Amazon.


~~~

Daily Post Prompt: Flee

I’ve shared this particular poem previously. Nevertheless, I’m serving it up again because as soon as I saw today’s prompt from the “Daily Post,” this poem popped into my mind.  There’s no way I could write something new today that would fit the theme better than this collection of limerick lines.

TRAIN FROM BACK - OLD GOLD

ESCAPE

Well, my journey by train has begun.
As for tickets, I don’t have a one.
With police pressing in,
And this shackle ’round my shin,
All I packed was my trusty old gun.

In the baggage compartment I’ll hide,
And my time I will patiently bide.
When we make the next stop,
From this train I will hop
To the next and continue my ride.

It’s a journey to freedom I take.
And I can’t stop; there’s too much at stake.
Since I’m guilty as sin,
In a court, I can’t win,
But I’ve vowed future crime to forsake.

~~~

Daily Post Prompt: Copycat

I admit I actually wrote this story last year, but it fits today’s prompt so perfectly that I’m using it anyway.

THE CASE OF THE COPY-CAT CRIMES

man-at-desk-brown

Detective Becker pressed his left hand against his temple. It was tender from the pain where a migraine was threatening, but he had to go over this list of people who had received threats in the past month. The letters had all been made out in the same way: typed words that had been cut and pasted – one word at a time – onto a black sheet of paper and mailed in red envelopes. He’d sworn he’d figure out the nexus they shared that had made them victims of such a hateful attack, but time wasn’t on his side any longer, because the first two people on the list had already been killed.

His buzzer sounded, and his secretary reported that he had a call waiting on line one: his superior, Detective Wagner. “Yes sir,” Becker spoke into the phone. “What can I do for you?”

“The press has gotten wind of the fact that eight other people have received threatening letters. They’re pushing for a story, but, of course, we can’t tell them anything that could disrupt the investigation. I just wanted you to be forewarned that they’ll be waiting outside the front door when you leave the office.”

“Thanks for the warning. I slip out the basement entrance.”

“Have you figured out any connection yet between the two who are dead and the other eight?”

“I think I may have, Sir. All of these people served on a jury together about fifteen years ago. The decision of that jury was unanimous and resulted in the death sentence for the man on trial.”

“Who?”

“Malcom Leiberman.”

Dead silence on the other end of the line caused Becker to stay quiet and wait. He could hear that the wind outside had started blowing harder, and he knew the storm that had been predicted was almost upon them. Finally, Wagner responded: “You know, of course, that Leiberman was convicted of perpetrating a series of murders after sending out threatening letters to his victims.”

Becker sucked in his breath. “No sir … no, I haven’t had time to research the case yet. But that’s too weird.”

“Yes,” replied Wagner. “And now I think I know who we’re looking for. His brother swore he’d get revenge. But then he got sick with some disease that the doctors said was incurable, and he was hospitalized for years. I guess everybody forgot about his threats. I know I did. But we need to find out if he’s still alive, and if so …”

“I’m on it, Sir,” Becker said. “I’ll call you back as soon as I have the information.”

Two hours later, Becker walked into Wagner’s office with a medical report. “He’s alive all right,” he said, laying the report on his superior’s desk. “And living right here in the city.”

“You’ve got an address?”

Becker nodded.

Wagner rose from his chair and strapped on his gun. “Let’s go get him and save eight people’s lives.”

~~~

Daily Post Prompt: Witness

MAGNIFYING GLASS CLUESToday’s one-word prompt fits right in with the theme of the new novelette I’m currently working on. It is book number 2 in The Simon Stone Detective Trilogy. Some of you will remember Simon because I actually wrote the first book in the series (Innocent Until Proven Guilty) right here on this blog. That book will be available as an e-book on Amazon in September, and book # 2 will be out before Christmas. So I thought I’d offer Chapter One of the second book as a teaser — and as my response to the prompt: witness.

(One small note: If you have not read book # 1, what you read here will include information that may spoil the ending of the first book for you. So just be forewarned.)


CHAPTER ONE

Stanford Brooks sat at a table in a private study carrel on the second floor of the municipal library, submerged in his favorite historical era. Suddenly he felt a stabbing pain in the back of his neck. Letting out a small grunt, he started to lift his right arm, intending to place his hand on the source of pain to discover the cause. But before he could complete the act, a gloved hand covered his nose and mouth.

Ordinarily, being a big man, he would have used his size to struggle against such an action, but his mind had grown fuzzy and his throat was beginning to constrict. He tried to turn his head and groaned beneath the heavy hand, but it was a weak sound, due to the weakening condition of his whole body. In the next second, everything went gray, then black, and without another conscious thought, he fell forward across his book.

A faint snap sounded behind him, followed within seconds by the merest whisper of wood touching wood at the closing of the carrel door. Silence then reigned in the halls of the library’s second floor, and business as usual continued at the circulation desk downstairs.
___________

On the other side of the city, Detective Simon Stone, deep in thought about the events of his day, walked to his apartment door and slipped his key into the lock as usual. But, suddenly, nothing was “usual” at all, because when he turned the key, there was no resistance. Every nerve came to attention, and he reached inside his jacket for his Glock. He had no doubt he’d locked the door when he’d left for work at 6:00 a.m.

His mind rapidly clicked off the possibilities: petty burglar, ex-con bent on revenge, a hit man under orders from any number of drug lords he’d ticked off over the past several years. As one part of his mind sorted through the options, another part tried to make the best guess as to where inside the apartment he’d most likely find the intruder.

When he’d settled on his plan of action, he eased the door open silently, crouching, and sweeping his gun arm left to right as he panned the entire living room. No one in sight, but immediately, he heard sounds in the kitchen. He tilted his head, listening: the clatter of dishes rang out against the background of running water. He shook his head, confused. He’d never known a burglar or a hit man who cleaned up the kitchen before committing his crime.

Simon took a deep breath and let it out slowly. That sixth sense that made him one of the sharpest detectives on the force told him all was well, but the fact that someone was in his apartment who had not been invited kept him vigilant. He moved on cat feet to the kitchen door, and just before giving the connecting swing door a shove with his foot, he heard the humming. His visitor was humming “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”

Well, that cleared away all questions. He knew only one person who hummed that stalwart Lutheran hymn as she worked: Aunt Prissy – not a dangerous criminal, but a force to be reckoned with all the same. A hearty sigh of relief rushed through him, only to be shut off by the irritation he felt at his aunt’s irresponsible behavior. He mulled over the possibilities of dealing with the situation.

At seventy-one, Aunt Prissy had lived long enough to think she knew best about most things and to feel brave enough to take on the world. A self-appointed amateur detective in her hometown, she didn’t shy away from practicing her gift for picking locks. However, she did make sure she practiced only on family and friends. He’d lectured and lectured, to no affect, so maybe now was an excellent time for an object lesson. He’d go ahead and kick open the door and yell, “Freeze!”

He didn’t want to point his gun at her, of course, and he quietly eased it back into his shoulder holster. As he did so, he started questioning the plan because he certainly didn’t want to frighten her enough to give her a heart attack or something. But she was in excellent health, so maybe ─

“Simon, for heaven’s sake stop standing outside the kitchen door!” He sucked in a quick breath, noticing at just that moment that the humming had stopped. She spoke again, still from inside the kitchen. “You’re probably thinking you’d like to kick open the door and frighten me half to death to teach me not to break into your apartment, but you’ll be wasting your breath, dear.” On the other side of the door, Simon just threw up his hands and looked straight up, as if to ask a higher power what on earth he could do about such a ridiculous situation. “Get on in here,” his aunt said, now. “I’ve got all your favorites ready to go onto the table.”

Simon gave up. He gently pushed through the swing door and looked at his aunt. She was busy placing bowls and platters of food onto the table, but she looked up and smiled at him. Her still-bright blue eyes – the mirror image of his own – nailed him instantly, and the mischief in them was his undoing. He laughed out loud and crossed the kitchen in two long strides to take her into his arms in a bear hug.

She finally leaned back and looked into his eyes. “Hello, Nephew,” she said, her own eyes twinkling again. Simon stepped away a little, still grinning at her, “Hello, Aunt Prissy. To what do I owe this most unexpected pleasure? You didn’t even hint in your last card or e-mail that you were considering a visit.”

“I know, dear,” she said, at the same time setting the salt and pepper shakers on the table and motioning to one of the chairs. “Sit down, and I’ll say grace, and then we can talk while we eat.”

They both sat, and once Priscilla had blessed the food with prayer, she started passing him bowls and platters. “I just felt I wanted to see how you’re doing,” she said now.

“You’ve e-mailed me and asked that question at least three times in the past several months – and I’ve e-mailed you back that I was fine.”

“E-mail? Phooey! I can’t see your eyes and your expressions on an e-mail. So I decided I’d like to make another visit, and that would tell me a lot more than any computer letter.”

Simon chuckled. “There just isn’t much of anything to tell, Aunt Prissy.”

“Simon, how are you really doing?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “About as well as normal, I guess.”

“Now, what kind of answer is that, for heaven’s sake? What’s normal? There’s absolutely nothing normal about a detective falling in love with a murder suspect who’s under his investigation!”

He looked sideways at her but kept cutting his meat. “Thanks for rubbing it in.”

“You know better than that. I’m not rubbing anything in. I’m merely pointing out that you have nothing to gauge what’s’ normal in this situation. And that being the case, you should be free to allow yourself to feel any number of things that might seem weird to an average person.”

“So you’re saying I’m not average either, huh?” he asked, but there was a hint of a smile on his lips.

“Well, in my humble opinion, you’ve always been above average – ever since you were a child – but that’s beside the point. Have you heard from her since she went to prison?”

Simon shook his head, and stopped chewing long enough to answer. “No. I can’t imagine anything to be gained by continuing to communicate with her.”

“Do you still have strong feelings for her?’

Simon sat back in his chair, thinking, weighing his words. “It may sound surprising, after only eight months, but I don’t seem to have any feelings for her one way or the other.” He shrugged. “I’m at least smart enough to know that the person I thought I was in love with didn’t really exist. She was a figment of my own imagination, based on pretense and deception, both of which Deanna was a master at.”

“No question there.”

He got up to refill his coffee cup and came back to the table with the pot, adding a little to his aunt’s cup as well. As he sat back down, he said, “And I have to admit that it’s something of a relief to feel nothing for a while. All that emotion is wearing on a person, you know.” He managed a grin as he spoke the last words, and his aunt grinned back.

“Yes, having been very much in love with your uncle I can testify to the energy required to love and be loved in return. And, of course, my feelings for Mitch are not at that level just yet, but even in that relationship, there’s a huge investment of the inner man necessary to make and keep it healthy and happy.”

“How is your favorite police chief?”

“Oh, pretty much the way you remember him: calm, collected, and easy-going – well, except when I’m working on a case that is.” She shook her head a little. “He does get a little steamed up and un-relaxed when he starts worrying about me. But I keep telling him that I’m a grown woman who had to take care of herself for ten years before meeting him, and he’s just going to have to face the fact that I’m not going to become a meek little garden club member who stays at home pampering plants when life’s going on outside in the real world. And he might as well give up worrying because it won’t do him or me either one any good.”

Simon laughed. “I bet you give him that speech about once a month.”

She smiled. “Well I do try to change the words around a little from time to time, but, yes, I do manage to say it often. Bless his heart; eventually, it will sink in, and he’ll get used to letting me live my life my own way.”

As she spoke, she got up from the table, taking her plate and Simon’s to the sink, and as she returned with two servings of German chocolate cake, the phone rang.

Simon got up and walked over to the wall phone. “Hello.”

“Simon, I’m probably interrupting your dinner,” the voice said on the other end of the line.

“Oh hi, Mac. No matter about dinner. What’s up?”

“We’ve just taken a call from the city library director. She found a man dead, slumped over a table in one of the study carrels on the second floor. No obvious reason for death, but natural causes seem questionable since the man’s known for running in local marathons and seemed to be in great health. There’s an ugly red swelling and some bruising on one side of his neck. Sounded suspicious enough that I sent Peterson over. I know you’re off duty for twenty-four hours, and I wouldn’t have bothered you tonight except for the fact that the librarian identified the man as Stanford Brooks.”

“What!”

“That’s right, and since he’s the primary witness in the case you’ve worked so hard on, I thought you’d want to stick your nose in on this investigation.”

“You thought right, Mac. And I’m grateful. Will Peterson have any objections?”

“I told him I felt you needed to be kept in the loop on this one. The fact that the trial starts next week makes this more suspicious than usual. We need to put some extra effort into making sure we don’t have some loose ends out there we didn’t know about. Peterson agreed.”

“Thanks, Mac. I’ll get right over there.” …………..


To participate in today’s prompt, visit the Daily Post site and get the details.

 

 

~~~

Daily Post Prompt: Island

LIGHTHOUSE WITH FOGThe fog’s especially heavy tonight. I can’t see three feet past the door, so I guess it’s a good time to stay inside and write this letter. The lighthouse on the island has sounded the foghorn every two minutes for hours now.

I haven’t been back to the island since that night. In some ways, I wish I had moved away when you did. I’m sure it’s a lot easier on you not having to look out across the water and see that island every day. I know the spot is overgrown now, but I can still pick it out as clearly as if we’d left a marker. And hearing that blasted horn blow every time the fog moves in really gets on my nerves.

Tonight it’s as thick out there as it was the night we buried him. I often wonder what would have happened if the fog had lifted in time for someone to see us digging the grave. But, of course, that wasn’t likely to happen. Once the dratted stuff moves in, it clings to us like a shroud for hours on end.

I wish you were sitting here with me, sharing a bottle of our favorite whiskey. I hate being alone with my thoughts. I’m always chilled and shaky when there’s fog. It feels as if something’s choking me. I wonder if that’s how he felt as we tightened that rope around his neck until he stopped breathing. I know if I could hear your voice now, you’d tell me to stop being so fanciful.

I wish you were here with me. I hate fog.

~~~

To participate in this prompt, visit The Daily Post.

 

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100-Word Challenge For Grown Ups – # 176

Visit Julia’s Place to get the details so you can participate with your own 100-word story. The prompt this week: “… but I thought we were friends …”

 

BLONDY06FRIENDS???

“But I thought we were friends, Trish.”

“We are friends, Kara, and quit your whining. It isn’t going to help. I just choose not to be part of your plan.”

“But I need someone to stand guard for me while I slip into his office.”

“Then you’ll have to try one of your other pals, because it’s not going to be me. We could get arrested!”

Kara crossed her arms over her chest and heaved a tortuous sigh. “I’d do it for you.”

Trish smirked and rose to leave the room. “Of course you would; you’re a lot more stupid than I am.”

 

~~~

Wordle 219 Writing Challenge: ‘The Case of the Copy-Cat Crimes’

I just discovered a writing challenge called “Wordle,” which you will find at “The Sunday Whirl.”  It involves writing a poem or short piece of fiction that uses the words in a prescribed group for each week. Writers can use any form of the words that fit their stories/poems. Below, you’ll see the green box with the group of words for this week. If you’d like to take part in the challenge, just follow the link to “Wordle 219” for October 4, 2015 and join in.  My story is below the box of words.

WORDLE 219

THE CASE OF THE COPY-CAT CRIMES

Detective Becker pressed his left hand against his temple. It was tender from the pain where a migraine was threatening, but he had to go over this list of people who had received threats in the past month. The letters had all been made out in the same way: typed words that had been cut and pasted – one word at a time – onto a black sheet of paper and mailed in red envelopes. He’d sworn he’d figure out the nexus they shared that had made them victims of such a hateful attack, but time wasn’t on his side any longer, because the first two people on the list had already been killed.

His buzzer sounded, and his secretary reported that he had a call waiting on line one: his superior, Detective Holmes. “Yes sir,” Becker spoke into the phone. “What can I do for you?”

“The press has gotten wind of the fact that eight other people have received threatening letters. They’re pushing for a story, but, of course, we can’t tell them anything that could disrupt the investigation. I just wanted you to be forewarned that they’ll be waiting outside the front door when you leave the office.”

“Thanks for the warning. I slip out the basement entrance.”

“Have you figured out any connection yet between the two who are dead and the other eight?”

“I think I may have, Sir. All of these people served on a jury together about fifteen years ago. The decision of that jury was unanimous and resulted in the death sentence for the man on trial.”

“Who?”

“Malcom Leiberman.”

Dead silence on the other end of the line caused Becker to stay quiet and wait. He could hear that the wind outside had started blowing harder, and he knew the storm that had been predicted was almost upon them. Finally, Holmes responded: “You know, of course, that Leiberman was convicted of perpetrating a series of murders after sending out threatening letters to his victims.”

Becker sucked in his breath. “No sir … no, I haven’t had time to research the case yet. But that’s too weird.”

“Yes,” replied Holmes. “And now I think I know who we’re looking for. His brother swore he’d get revenge. But then he got sick with some disease that the doctors said was incurable, and he was hospitalized for years. I guess everybody forgot about his threats. I know I did. But we need to find out if he’s still alive, and if so …”

“I’m on it, Sir,” Becker said. “I’ll call you back as soon as I have the information.”

Two hours later, Becker walked into Holmes’ office with a medical report. “He’s alive all right,” he said, laying the report on his superior’s desk. “And living right here in the city.”

“You’ve got an address?”

Becker nodded.

Holmes rose from his chair and strapped on his gun. “Let’s go get him and save eight people’s lives.”

~~~

“All In A Night’s Work” — ‘Anybody Got a Story’ Writing Challenge

Here’s my story to meet the challenge from the picture below. I  had first thought we’d keep these stories pretty short but then the more I thought about it, the more I realized that a picture like this almost demands a good bit of detail. So I extended the rules to allow each writer to use his own discretion. I did suggest trying to stay below 2500 words, but I have to admit that I wasn’t far from that limit myself. There’s still two days to take part, so if you’re interested, here’s the link  to the original post that explains how to participate.

ALL IN A NIGHT’S WORK

When Inspector McGregor arrived at the scene, he found the car, empty, with the driver’s door standing open, exactly as the caller had described.  Refusing to give his name, the caller had simply reported what looked like an abandoned car sitting on an abandoned street, across from the printing plant.

The plant was shut down for the night, but security lights were on in the front, and evidently someone was still working in two of the offices upstairs. Inspector McGregor looked at his watch. They were certainly keeping strange hours. It was 3:30 in the morning. Even the bars across the street and in the next block had been closed for an hour and a half.

McGregor stood looking toward the plant, thinking, when suddenly he saw a face in one of the dark first-floor windows. The outside security light, with its eery blue cast, threw enough light on the window that even the split-second appearance of the face was clear enough to tell it had a fragile look about. It almost had to be a woman or a child.

Time to call for backup, McGregor decided, and radioed the station to pass on the information he had, get two more units on the way, and get a phone number for the printing plant office. “Look up Peter Hampton’s home number as well,” he said into the phone.  “Whoever’s in the office now may not answer the phone, and I want him down here with a key immediately.”

When he signed off, he punched in the printing office number first. The street was so quiet he could actually hear the office phone ringing, but after five rings, the answering machine picked up. He hung up and immediately called Hampton’s house.

The machine picked up at the house as well, but before the message played through, Hampton had picked up the phone. “Yeah, Hampton here,” he said, his voice thick with sleep.

“Mr. Hampton,” this is Inspector Alan McGregor with the metropolitan police department.”

“Police!  What’s going on? What’s wrong?”

“I don’t want to alarm you, sir, but we have an unusual situation going on at your plant right now, and I need you to get down here and open up the door so we can get in and take a look around.”

“What do you mean unusual situation?  And how do I know this is really the police?”

McGregor gritted his teeth, but at the same time, part of him was glad that Hampton didn’t just take off running in response to a call from someone without positive identification.

“I’m going to hang up, Mr. Hampton. And I want you to look up the number of the 7th precinct and call it. Ask them if they have an Inspector McGregor working on a case that involves your plant. They’ll verify everything I’ve told you, and then you get yourself down here. Understand?”

“Yes … yes … I can do that.”

“Don’t waste time, Hampton. I need you here now.”

“Yes … alright. I’m looking up the number now. I’ll hang up.”

“Fine,” McGregor answered.  “And thank you.”

By the time he’d ended the call the other two patrol cars had joined him. He had requested no sirens, but their lights were flashing. Whoever was inside looking out had to know they were about to get a visit from the police.  “Any ideas at all about who or what, Alan?” one of the other officers asked him.

“Well, I’d bet a month’s salary the face I saw belongs to a woman or a child. She could be in there with a couple others, and they could be in the middle of a burglary. Or she could have run inside for protection from something else.  This car door standing wide open tells me the second possibility is more likely.”

“Sounds reasonable. But why would somebody running for safety park on this side of the street if they were going into that building?”

McGregor shook his head, deep in thought, and just then Peter Hampton drove up, slammed on his brakes, and jumped out of the car. McGregor met him at the front door of the building, and Hampton unlocked the door, all the time emphasizing that the lights upstairs should not be on. “No one is supposed to be here at all, Inspector,” he insisted.

“Okay, it helps to know that. Now, you go back to your car, Mr. Hampton. We’ll take it from here. We don’t want you in the middle of anything that could be a threat to you.”

Hampton gladly obeyed, and McGregor and two of the officers eased through the front doorway. The other two officers had gone around the back to make sure no one left from that direction.

McGregor flipped on the overhead lights in the front reception area. “Police!” he shouted. “You need to come out into the open and identify yourself. The building’s surrounded. Come out where we can see you now!”

“Please! Please don’t shoot,” a thin shaky voice answered. “It’s only me, Carla Watson,” the voice continued, and slowly a young woman raised up from behind a desk on the right side of the room. She held her hands up as if in surrender, and she was shaking with fright. “Please, I was only hiding from some men who were chasing me. Honest. I didn’t mean to break in.” Her voice broke then and she began to sob.

McGregor told the other two officers to check out the rest of the building, and he walked closer to the girl. “Are you here alone?” McGregor asked.

“Yes,” she answered, trying to stifle her sobs. “Could I please get a tissue out of my pocket?” She asked, looking at him pitifully.

“Sure. You can put your hands down and come out here and sit down.”

She obediently moved from behind the desk and walked to a chair in the waiting area, at the same time digging into her sweater pocket for her tissues. When she had blown her nose and managed to get control of the tears to some extent, McGregor propped himself on the corner of a desk and asked her for her story.

“I was coming out of the Family Savings store and three men were standing out in the parking lot. They started to make suggestive comments to me and when I just hurried on to my car, they started following me. I jumped in  and locked my door and got my car started, but they were right beside my door, banging on the window. I managed to take off though, but they jumped into their car and followed me.

“It was awful, I tried to go fast enough to lose them, but they kept up with me. Finally, I came to a red light and just ran through it. I should have known they would do the same thing. There was almost no other traffic on those streets, and I kept turning abruptly, trying to lose them.  Finally, when a truck came across the road between me and them, they had to come to a stop, and I managed to turn two more corners and found myself on this street.

“A friend of mine works at the printing plant, and I remembered her saying that sometimes the ink odor is so strong they often open one of the windows on the back side of the building — one on the alley. I saw the lights on upstairs, and I just hoped that maybe I could find a window open. I pulled the car up on the other side of the street, hoping that if the men found the car, they’d think I had run in that direction and would start looking for me there. That would give me more time to get away.  I ran faster than I’ve ever run to get to the alley, and I prayed the whole way that the window would be open. It was. I crawled in and closed and locked it behind me.”

“But you didin’t go upstairs to get help?”

“Well, after I’d gotten in and walked toward the front of the building, I realized I didn’t hear anything upstairs that sounded like people moving around or talking. I figured someone had just left the lights on by mistake, so I decided to stay down here — at least until I could glance out the window a time or two and make sure I wasn’t followed.”

“And did they follow you?”

She nodded her head and then shivered. McGregor stepped over to her and patted her shoulder. “You’re safe now, Carla. Just tell me everything you can about them.”

She nodded. I glanced out once and saw that they were getting out of their car and heading down the street the other direction as I had hoped they would. I didn’t think they’d try to get into any buildings that were locked, so I thought I was probably safe in here. But I did try to glance out another time or two to see what was happening. They finally came back and got into their car. But while they were gone from it, I managed to look at it long enough to get the license number.”

“Good girl!” McGregor said now, patting her shoulder again. Then he pulled out a pen and pad and took down the number she gave him. She also gave him a fairly good description of two of the men.

McGregor nodded his head as he wrote out what she said. “Yes, I think I many know one of these guys already. And if it’s who I think it is, he’s out of prison on parole, and this is going to go down hard on him.”

By that time all four of the other officers had scouted out the entire building and reported that no one else was on the premises. McGregor sent one man out to get Peter Hampton, and when he had checked out the situation himself, he came to the conclusion that the janitor had evidently left a couple lights on. “He’s new and, frankly, I’m not sure how reliable he is.” He thought for a moment. “Well, evidently, from what I see now, he’s pretty unreliable. I’ll have a serious talk with him tomorrow. But I don’t see anything out of place – and nothing seems to be missing – so I’d say he’s probably the one who left the lights ——”  He stopped abruptly and looked at Carla. “Hey, how did you get in here anyway!”

She explained about the open window in back and then added. “I’m just so grateful it was open, and so glad the lights were on,” said Carla. “I don’t think I would have thought about trying to get in here if they hadn’t been. So … please … Mr. Hampton, don’t be too hard on your janitor.”

Hampton couldn’t help but grin. “Well, Missy, I guess if his leaving those lights on and the window open saved you from some serious harm, I’ll have to give him another chance to prove he’s dependable.”

McGregor chuckled, as did a couple of the other officers. Then he turned to Carla. “Is there someone at your home so that you won’t have to be there alone for right now?”

“Yes, my sister lives with me there,” she said. “And, as a matter of fact,” she added, looking at her watch, “I bet she’s starting to worry about me right now. My cell phone was dead, or I would have called her and told her to send help. I picked up one of the office phones here, but I couldn’t get it to give me an outside line. I couldn’t figure out all the buttons in the dark.”

“Well, I’m going to follow you home right now, and I’ll go in with you and talk with your sister. Then tomorrow, I’ll get in touch with you and let you know how we’re doing at making sure those men don’t get it into their heads to pull the same stunt with some other young lady. We may need you to identify a couple of them if we can bring them in. Are you willing to do that?”

“Can I do it without them seeing me?”

“Certainly.”

Carla nodded her head. “Then I’ll be glad to.”

“Good,” McGregor said, taking her arm gently. “Now let’s get you home.” They started for the door, and McGregor looked back at Peter Hampton. “Thanks for all your help Mr. Hampton. I hope you can still get a little sleep before you start your work day.”

Peter Hampton chuckled. “I don’t know, Inspector. When I get home, I’m going to have to fill my wife in on all that’s happened. And she’s not one to be satisfied with a summary. Like any good woman, she wants all the little details, and she wants them in chronological order. I figure I’m up for the day, but, all in all, I feel good knowing I could be a little help in keeping crime off the streets of our fair city. ”

THE END

 

 

~~~

100-Word Challenge For Grown-Ups, Week 67 — What’s It Worth?

Maybe I’m just in the mood to get into new challenges, but I really think it’s the chocolate that did it.  Anyway, I couldn’t seem to resist trying out Julia’s challenge this week.  Here’s the link to her site:

http://jfb57.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week69/ 

And the picture for the challenge is below — along with my “story.”

CHOCOLATE CHALLENGE PICWHAT’S IT WORTH?

One half-piece left — and crumbs. He’d lick those off first, then take time savoring the piece itself. Since enforcement of the President’s War On Obesity, the total ban on chocolate had driven him mad.

“You have chocolate!” his sister shouted, entering behind him. He moved the plate out of reach. She was already dialing her cell.

“What are you doing?”

“Reporting you to the police, of course!”

The iron skillet was handy.

He managed to strike her before she’d finished dialing.

Okay . . . He was safe.

He settled his breathing before lifting the plate and inhaling the intoxicating fragrance. “Some things,” he whispered, “are just too valuable to lose.”