Chapter 28…

“Gee, no I didn’t, Sherlock. I was just asking her why her bag was ringing when I called Jenn’s cell.’ Course, that could totally be a coincidence. Maybe you didn’t hear that while you were upstairs destroying the integrity of a potential crime scene. And you want to know what, now? About her love life? Really, Bob? There’s a direct threat to Jenn written on Jenn’s own bedroom wall, and you’re going to focus on what? How about this, Bob…you stay here and harass her little sister, and I’ll just go have a look upstairs. Maybe take a photo or two. Be back in a flash.”

The message had been scrawled in what looked like a sort of hurried fashion. Well, yeah…what did I expect? Calligraphy? In some sort of reddish lipstick…the letters all slanted upwards to the right, so almost certainly right- handed. So possibly there’s a tube-like container around, and it just might have a good fingerprint on it.

“Hey, guys, anyone spot something like a lipstick tube around the floor here, maybe? This doesn’t look like a marker or a Sharpie or anything.”

” Yeah, there was a tube of lipstick under the bed table. Bobby picked it up.”

Of course he did.

“Is it in evidence now?”

” No, we’ve just been poking around. Don’t really know what to call this yet.”

So someone scrawls the message, and drops the tube when they’re done? Maybe they were upset or agitated, and didn’t realize how dumb that was. Or maybe just the opposite. Or maybe just a big diversion. I would bet that the hoodie guy probably wrote this, which means he’s very directly involved…and if he had been interrupted when we pulled up, what the hell else had been going on?

” Has anyone checked the rest of the house? This may not be all there is.”

” Yeah, we’re just going to. Kind of a strange morning here.”

They went down the hallway toward the other upstairs rooms.

I stood looking at the message, and shot five or six photos on the phone. By stepping back, I realized that the guy who wrote this was probably about my height. There was a kind of evenness to the color of the lettering. He didn’t have to reach too far up or down to do it. A little frantic, but effortless.

I could hear voices coming up from the stairwell. Bobby was being aggressive again, and Janice’s voice seemed strained. Whatever was going on there…it sounded like it was completely between them. It didn’t have a tone that was about this missing sister thing at all. It was miles away from this…but could still be part of it. But the detective wasn’t acting much like one, and the concerned sister wasn’t acting all that concerned. Or, closer to the truth…very overly concerned…about something.

And Bobby probably grabbed the lipstick tube. Some kind of detective there.

I walked towards the top of the stairs, and the conversation changed from diffracted tonality to actual words.

And as I stood there deciding if I would give in to eavesdrop or not ( yes I would ), I  noticed something up in the corner of the living room.

Son of a bitch. A  tiny little security camera.

I had to smile. Even though I hadn’t talked to her in years, leopards don’t ever change their spots. Jenn was a tequila- drinking ninety- mile-an- hour rock and roll girl, but also a dedicated mom and absolute stone cold professional. And she might be in trouble right now, maybe in real danger, maybe even dead.

But she would leave a trail of bread crumbs. Hell, Jenn would leave a trail of club sandwich quarters by comparison. You just had to learn where to look. And if I had accidentally discovered one camera, there were almost certainly others.

I decided that I would certainly not mention this to Bobby. He showed every sign of being a terminal idiot, and did not deserve to know. I just couldn’t trust him. And he obviously didn’t know they were there, or he wouldn’t be downstairs right know trying to beat the stuffing out of Jenn’s sister. Figuratively, I hoped. Be she sounded like she was getting mad.

I found another camera discretely hidden behind two pair of sunglasses hanging on the corner of the dresser mirror. And I knew that I didn’t necessarily have to find all of them; I just had to trace one back to where they recorded to.

And yes, that was definitely an agitated and angry female voice wafting up the stairs.

 

 

 

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The Winter People…

Apologies for being so late on the next chapter, but I have a viable excuse.

I’ve been reading. A lot.

I’ve been reading for the enjoyment, of course. Just for that sense of immersion into someone else’s universe.

But nowadays, I read so as to observe the way other writers seem to assemble stuff. If I can see into their process with a little more depth, I’m thinking it would help me with mine.

It could happen…

And just finished reading ” The Winter People” by Jennifer McMahon. It’s a classic- flavored ghost story, intertwined with a murder mystery. If I had it in mind, I would probably try writing the one, and then the other… never considering that the two could be done at once. But there you have it. A two-dimensional guy sees in two dimensions. He’s heard about a possible third dimension, but it’s seems very remote to him. He struggles with the concept continually, and may yet achieve a breakthrough. But we must be patient.

Another analogy… as a kid, I remember learning to write in school. Everything was done with yellow lined paper to keep the lines and size of the letters in general order, all written with impossibly oversized pencils. But somewhere in the 5th- 6th grade, you graduated to an ink pen. They were black with a silver band in the center and wrote in blue ink. Kids were charged with not losing/ breaking/ eating them, or using them as weapons. Although we could just as well  have used the pencils as weapons, but that never occurred to us…because the idea was never presented as such. But apparently the pens were considered lethal.

Of course, most kids in the class were stained with blue ink most of the time.

That’s seems like where I am as a writer. Blue ink is everywhere, and I don’t yet know how it happens, or what can ever be done about it.

So reading stuff like” The Winter People” illuminates the blue ink, but doesn’t help much overall. A ghost story, and a murder mystery, told from three different character perspectives at once. By the time you figure that much out, you’re so far in that you can’t read fast enough. And the ending takes a completely unexpected turn. Masterful. Superb.

There’s no blue ink on Jennifer McMahon. At all.

Next chapter will be along shortly, as soon as I can get the taste of blue ink out of my mouth.

Chapter 27

I don’t want to open my eyes. This is nice. I still hear Roger’s voice. In the distance. Damn, that man can talk. Think I’ll just lay here for a bit. He probably thinks I’m passed out. Who am I to disappoint? His voice gradually took on the quality of white noise. Relaxation…like the gentle ebb and flow of ocean waves upon the ….

I felt the breeze off the ocean, damp from the sea mist. My hair was a mess. All wind blown. We’d met about an hour before dusk. I owned a small condo one street over from the beach. A weekend getaway… A knock at the door. In minutes we were walking

It was late August. And the time of day for holdouts. Snuggled deep in their blankets, dreading the departure from a lazy day at the shore. You’ve spent hours sitting on the sand, walking the waterline, bodysurfing the waves…yeah, that’s what it’s about.

Neither one of us wanted to be the first to talk. As yet unspoken “breakup” was in the air. In spite of it, tonight there was something different.  We were lighter together. Peaceful and relaxed, we walked the entire length of the beach. We held hands off and on. Teased each other like first time lovers. So obvious. The end was near. But not tonight.

This night was about reminiscing. We talked about everything. We ventured to places we never explored. But it didn’t matter. Not now. Now we were walking the walk of dissolution. The walk of reflection and acceptance. Me and Bobby? Done. Over and out. Sometimes, it’s just not right.

“I dare you to walk down this beach, all the way back… topless”.

I laughed. “You’re funny, you know?” I pulled the sleeveless lavender tank top over my head.

“You mean like this?”

Bobby smiled. A smile so wide I had to reach over and touch his face. I looked into his eyes. Why could I never quite break through?

……

“What?! After the night we just had? What the fuck do you mean you think we should go our separate ways? What the fuck does that mean?!

“Calm down Bobby. You heard me. How can I be any clearer?”

“Any clearer?! Are you listening to yourself Janice? You do realize we’re not in a Courtroom, right?”

“Fuck you Bobby. Fuck you. Maybe you ought to get used to feeling like you’re in a Courtroom ‘cuz the way it looks to me, you’re going to be spending a lot of time in one.” 

“Is that what this is all about? You’re pissed because I didn’t tell you about the investigation?”

“Damn right I’m pissed. Internal Affairs is conducting an investigation of brutality charges against my boyfriend and gee, that’s something I wouldn’t want to know about?! I shouldn’t be pissed because the man I’ve been sleeping with for the last year is keeping secrets from me?! Big secrets. You didn’t think I ought to know about that!? What else haven’t you told me Bobby?”

“I don’t need this shit. I don’t need it from IA and I sure as hell don’t need it from you Janice. I’m outta here. Have a nice….”

 “I don’t need your shit, Roger. That’s what I’m asking you. Did you or didn’t you ask her about Jenn’s love life?”

“What? What did you say Bobby? You asking about my love life?” I opened my eyes reluctantly.