Do You Know These People??

There have been a ton of ads this year from Ancestry.com for DNA testing and new sign-ons. A two- week free trial is very enticing, and you’ll soon discover that you are a direct- line descendant of George Washington!

Most, like myself , probably figured they could find what they were looking for pretty quickly and get it done before the two weeks was up. Then, just to contact the modern-day Washingtons and schedule a big re-union barbecue.

Yeah, right. I now have a year-long subscription and a family tree that has 658 members and counting. Thoroughly addicted. No sign of George Washington, though.

I am of Irish ancestry, and have been not totally surprised to find the bloodline to be quite pure back to the late 1700s. Most migrated in the decades following the Famine in the 1840s, but I have found direct descendants back to 1760. Curious as to why they would have migrated so early on. I’ve even found a spelling variation on my last name that is French and dates to 1601, and now it’s just a matter of figuring out how that happened.

This kind of research allows answers to a great many questions, and raises countless new ones. The main challenge is to find the time to sort through it all. You would be amazed at the amount of pure data that prescribers are presented with, and you quickly realize that a two-week trial is like giving an alchoholic just a small bottle of Jack Daniels.

It ain’t happening. You’ll either abandon it very quickly or start signing on for the full-tilt ride and a DNA test.

I have resisted the DNA test, although it’s on sale right now for 69.95. I don’t think I can handle the truth. I’m frightened enough of what I’ve found so far. Here are a few excerpts-

  • I have a descendant whose name is on the  gigantic Civil War monument in downtown Providence (Rhode Island). He served in the 3rd RI Cavalry and was killed in action in Lousiana in 1864. ( I’m born, raised and have lived here most of my adult life, and never knew that. Kind of cool.)
  • On the other hand, we have a deserter from the 2nd RI Infantry; he bolted as soon as they got paid, and probably went on to enlist in other regiments to collect the sign-on bonuses.
  • A distant great-uncle from Somerville MA who fell out a third-story window and impaled himself on a picket fence.
  • A much closer great- uncle who was divorced ( huge no-no for Irish Catholics, especially in the 1800s) and then, shortly thereafter, lay down in the path of an oncoming train ( an even bigger no-no )
  • A great-aunt who after having raised several kids in turn-of the-century East Providence, spent the last month of her life in a small Catholic hospital in Burlington, Vermont. In 1932, this must have seemed like being shipped to Siberia…these people tended to stay within a ten-mile radius of where they were born. She was listed as having uterine cancer, and I suspect that the societal response of the time was to banish the gravely ill to what they saw as a nether region out of a sense of superstitious terror. No offense to Burlington, I’ve been there and thought it was spectacular. But I didn’t have to spend two weeks on dirt roads to get there…

One remarkable aspect of all this has been the difficulty of sorting out all the varied Irish descendants. First of all , there is apparently a very short list of names available for newly born Irish kids. You would very likely be named after a parent, and especially so with Irish mothers…much more so than on the paternal side. So the only difference between the six Alices or Patricks you’ve recently discovered may be just a middle initial, or a birth date. And that’s if anyone bothered to mention that. Ancestry gives you full access to census records, which help tremendously with those small but critical details. They also allow users to connect to others involved in ancestry searches that are looking for some of the same people, and you can tie right in to whatever they might have already accomplished. That’s how I discovered photos of a Catholic nun who I now recall sitting on the lap of when I was about four years old…my great-aunt Sister Assumpta. Would never have remembered that of my own accord.

So, it’s all been very engaging, and very illuminating. Heartily recommended.

Come on, give it a shot… I’ll bet you can find all your stuff in under two weeks…

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Patrick McKenna and his children

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Published in: on September 15, 2017 at 4:41 pm  Comments (2)  

Chapter 37…

She was taking it in pretty well. I had to admire the self- control. Video footage of Jenn arguing with her daughter, probably over the boyfriend that only showed up when Jenn was out. Jenn arguing with the ex. The ex showing up when no one else was there and fervently searching for…what, exactly? That part was just sticky, gooey, creepy weird. He didn’t seem to find anything, but still kept glancing around as if he expected to be caught any second. If he could have come to know his wife a little better, he would probably have guessed at the camera system that now had documented his failure. And why did he even have a key to this place?

And he wasn’t alone in his endeavors. There was plenty of footage of the hooded guy who ran down the stairs and out the other day when I first got there- but he knew the cameras were there. Because he always kept his back to the cameras, even when going from room to room. And the hood was always in place. He had been there twice before in the last three weeks at least- that was all the recording the DVR could hold.

There sure are a lot of people rooting around in Jenn’s house. And they all seem to know when everyone else is there or not, which is extremely weird. I’ll bet they’re all after the same thing…

What the hell are they all looking for? And the only one who doesn’t seem to be looking is Janice.

And Bobby’s there, too. Arguing with Jenn, much as he had just done recently with Janice. Except she didn’t lose it, she actually clocked him right upside the head. He pushed her back into a kitchen counter, but didn’t take it any further. I wonder if he knows that Jenn has a license to carry.

Janice had another coffee, with a little Bailey’s to help it along. I just had the Bailey’s. Too much caffeine is often detrimental to my overall boyish charm and professional effectiveness.

” So with all that finally out in the open, feel up to a bit of a walk after breakfast? I haven’t been out on the wall in ages. Hate to see all that romantic imagery gone to waste.”

” It’s still going to waste, pal. But I’ll go with you anyway.”

“Ow. I guess nobody’s getting to your heart through your stomach…must be another entrance…”

Ow. As in OWW. She stabbed me in the shoulder with her breakfast fork.

Nothing stands out on Fifth Ave in Narragansett quite as much as a black Chevy Malibu with a uniform cop sitting in it, trying to be nonchalant. With FOP stickers on the bumper, for God’s sake. Why is it always a black Chevy Malibu? Just rent a freaking Hyundai once in a while. A white one.

We walked on the other side towards him, and as we came abreast, the car moved off quickly. It had been idling.

A uniform cop, not in a cruiser, just hanging out.

Sure.

” Hey, did you recognize that guy just now? In the car?”

” What guy?”

And that, folks, is why it’s always a black Chevy Malibu.

” So how long do you think they’ve been tailing you?”

A Flag Rant…

I’ve been thinking on this for a while, actually. And since this is my little forum here, I’m going to use it to vent a few things, ala Dennis Miller.

I really used to like Dennis Miller, back in the SNL days, back in the Rant days. Before he re-invented himself with Bush- style self-serving Republicanism as a knee-jerk reaction to 9/11.

We all had knee-jerk reactions to 9/11, but to suddenly switch over to addressing your angst and anger at the Democrats and liberals is just weird. There are real and terrible enemies out there, and we need to be able to form up together to address those threats. We can play politics later if we need to. First, we will ultimately have to form an alliance with other civilized countries to completely and utterly eradicate terrorism.

As in exterminate. Terrorists are well beyond the pale, and miles outside of the lines of anyone’s rules of engagement.

If you actually believe that you have a God- given right to rape, pillage and murder your way across the planet, you do not deserve justice of any sort. You need a bullet in the forehead.

Anyway. That’s not even the rant I had in mind when I started.

But speaking of mind-fuck stupid terrorists, that moron who did the damage in Charleston at the A.M.E. church so recently needs to leave the planet very soon. He’ll likely get a life sentence instead, though,  so that the good citizens of South Carolina can spend tons of money keeping his ignorant ass alive in prison. Bullet’s cheaper.

What really bothers me is the damage he did to the Confederate flag. All by his ignorant fucking self.

That flag has been hijacked and misused several times. Biker gangs, the KKK, and now the Boy Fucking Wonder.

It is simply the flag that a great many Americans fought and died under. Back when strong state governments were the accepted norm, and the idea of a stronger Federal government was considered to be totally left- wing. They weren’t called Radical Republicans for nothing…

Yes, it could be aligned with racism. But so could the US flag. George McClellan threatened Lincoln that if he released the Emancipation Proclamation, he would resign and take his entire staff with him. He would fight for the Union, but not to free slaves.

The entire world was racist back then. It was the main lens that people perceived one another with. The English hated the French, the French hated the Spanish, the Indians hated the settlers. Indian tribes hated one another. North hated South. Almost everybody despised the Irish, and everybody hated the Africans. The world was pretty damned dismal.

But we have evolved. That’s what it’s all for in the end…

If modern people actually knew Civil War history at all, they’d be really upset, because the unlaundered truth is often much uglier than they’ll ever know. Fort Pillow…the Crater…Lawrence, Kansas… the New York draft riots…but there’s also the 54th Massachusetts, and Frederick Douglas. And…the 21st Mississippi ( talk about a flag story ), and the CSS Hunley.

But we are led to believe… that the Yankees were totally the good guys, and the Confederates were all bad. Sorry, but no. Not even close.

We also prefer to believe that the colonists during the Revolution were all American patriots, and the British were all bad guys.

Nope. Sorry. It was actually about a 50/50 split with the colonists. And the War of 1812 was actually much closer. The British almost got us that time.

Just imagine what that would have looked like.

Evolution is often a bitterly painful process.

A two- term black president, overall pretty successful. And Hillary picking up speed. A progressive from Vermont on her heels, and Elizabeth Warren lurking in the bushes. Donald Trump! Donald is a dream come true for standup comedians… years and years of material… but he’s not entirely wrong on everything. He just doesn’t know how to talk.

What a great country this is…

But… we Americans prefer what little history we do know to be completely revised. Or better yet, completely non-existent.

So, in closing, just remember the only practical bit of advice that ever came from a history professor ( and I don’t know who said it), and I’m paraphrasing here…

If you didn’t learn your history lesson the first time, it will be back to bite you in the ass real soon…

Just watch what it does to Donald Trump over the next few weeks.

Thanks. Rant’s over.

Chapter 34…

Cooking has always been one of the few things I do that actually seems to impress people, especially women.

I think it allows them to perceive what they see as a domestic feminine side to me that actually isn’t there.

Well, maybe a little. I just have never understood the concept of comfort food. Isn’t it all comfort food?

We could all just chew on dry dog food ( or the human equivalent, known as Fritos ) and stay alive, you know. But French Onion Soup has history, and you should always indulge a little when you indulge a little. Food is just so damned good.

So I actually followed her instructions. Got the groceries, drove to the address in Narragansett. Nice area.

Also threw a ball peen hammer in the bag so I could knock this girl upside the head if she didn’t start talking soon.

Because those security cameras had all kinds of stuff on the DVR. Both sisters, Jenn’s daughter, Jenn’s daughter’s boyfriend, Fucking Bobby, another guy who I presumed was Jenn’s ex- husband, and another guy who I couldn’ t place at all.

But I knew someone who could. So I made her some scrambled eggs with sauteed bacon and scallions, cornbread from scratch, mixed some pineapple juice with orange and split it with seltzer water. Eight O’ Clock  coffee ground from beans. ( Have Grinder, Will Travel.) Sweet potato home fries with a spot of maple syrup and brown sugared butter that goes with the cornbread nicely, too.

Pretty damned good. And for my client too, based on her finishing everything and then trying to chew the blue flowers off her Pfaltzgraff plate.  I served her seconds, and put a copy of the greatest hits of the security footage down beside her plate. I had already made a few extra copies.

” Let me get you another coffee. You’re not going to like this much. But it’ll be OK. As far as the legal ramifications go, I know a guy.”

 

Chapter 33

What the…I wriggled out from under the New England Patriots blanket I kept on the back of the couch. Hmm…soft, warm. I could lay here for…oh shit! What time is it? What day is it? I’m asking like there’s someone here to answer me. G zus.

Ow! How many times do I have to stub my toe on that damned coffee table! Coffee. Need it. There’d better be some in the cupboard. Bingo! Laughing, I couldn’t help myself. I started singing the old commercial – “Maxwell House, Good to the last…” oh shit! Roger! I forgot about him completely!

Where’d I put my phone? I hate when I leave stuff in strange places…where?…found it. Under the couch pillow. Exactly where I intentionally put it. Yeah, right. I really need to spend more time here. Then, I’d have some routines and I’d automatically know where I might have put stuff.

I stared at the phone. Thought for sure there would be at least one message from Roger. I gave him my number before we left his office. I’m certain of it….

And why do I think he should be calling me? Who hires a PD, takes him to her sister’s house, the scene of an apparent kidnapping, has a knock down, drag out with the cop dispatched to the scene and then runs out of the house, effectively stranding the guy without warning?! Wow. Saying it out loud, it does sound bad. Rude. And…odd. Better call him.

How am I going to explain why Bobby showing up yesterday was kind of weird? How do I tell him what I didn’t tell him but should have? How do I tell him I found Jenn’s journal. By accident. I found it, read it and…well, there’s stuff in there I’m still digesting. Stuff about Bobby. Her Bobby. My Bobby. Nope, he’s not going to like this one bit. Withholding evidence. Brilliant. What was I thinking?

Come on Roger. Pick up. ring, ring, ring… I know this guy didn’t have a hot date last night. Come on, pick up the damn phone! Do not make me leave a voice mail.

“Hello?”

“Roger. It’s Janice. We need to talk. Now. Take down this address.”

“Uh, Janice? You know what time it is? Wait! Not really asking you. It’s freaking 6:00 am!”

“Duh, Rog. I know. I told you. We need to talk. Stop off on your way, pick up some eggs, milk and bread and I’ll tell you over breakfast. And butter. I need some butter.”

“You’re kidding, right? Tell me I’m dreaming. Tell me my latest client didn’t just order me to do her grocery shopping and make a home delivery all before 7:00 am the morning after she ditched me at her missing sister’s house.”

“See you in an hour big guy.”

Just as I looked at the clock, I heard the sound of a car pulling into the driveway around back. Not 5 minutes later, a knock on the door.

“A little after 7:00 am. Pretty good PI Guy. You made it in just over an hour. And you got real butter! Wait…what are these?”

“Like we say in the biz, it’s your dime payin’ for the time. These, my dear, are scones. Surprised you don’t know that. You being a fancy, jet setting attorney and all.”

“Hmph. They look different from the ones I’ve had. In England.” I grinned widely.

Roger looked up, smiled. He can take it like he can dish it. Good. He’s going to get an earful as soon as breakfast gets underway. Hell, why wait…”Listen, Roger. I mentioned there was something I needed to tell you.”

“And you will, but not before you tell me where you keep your cooking utensils – saute pans and…plates. Plates would be good.”

“You’re cooking breakfast?” I asked incredulously.

“I didn’t buy this fancy spread hoping you knew how to cook Ms. DiFranco. I know I can cook. So yeah, in answer to your question, I’m cooking breakfast. Now step aside before I put you aside.”

 

 

 

 

 

Behind the veil?…

$5.28.

That’s what it always comes to.

I work for a very large security company. I occasionally have to work extra shifts to fill in for some of my fellow officers who are…let’s just say…somewhat less than responsible.

And when I ‘m driving in to cover someone’s grandmother being abducted by aliens..again…third time this week…

I generally stop at a local donut shop called Honeydew Donuts. ( This is Rhode Island, and every other storefront on any given street is now, or soon will be, a donut shop.)

I’m awfully predictable. I always glance through the donut case with every intention of trying something new, but, alas…

A large dark roast ( cream, one sugar), corn muffin, newspaper. Every time.

Life is short, goddammit. Take a walk on the wild side for once, maybe try a jelly donut, or a Boston Cream.

Anyway. It comes to $5.28.

Except this last time…

My employer supplies uniforms for all employees. For most of us it’s a requirement. And those who work outdoor patrols are issued a very serviceable winter coat, the same issue that police officers use. Ours has only a company logo on the right sleeve, but are otherwise unmarked. I don’t do any outdoor patrols, being just far enough up the food chain to be exempt; but am also the apple of the account manager’s eye, and get all the cool uniform stuff anyway, including the state police coat.

So. The other day, I’m going to cover another Saturday afternoon abduction call-out, and glancing at the donut case again. And wearing the spiffy new coat.

As usual, the total is $5.28, and I offer my ATM card to the ridiculously helpful counter girl.

She doesn’t take it. She wishes me a good day and goes back to work.

I stand politely waiting for someone to take my ATM. I catch her eye… she smiles, and steps up to take the next order. I’m now in the way. My transaction is apparently complete.

I take my stuff, and somewhat sheepishly move towards the door, and out. Wondering if this is an example of early- onset Alzheimers’? Can you actually forget stuff as it is still happening?

No. In the car and leaving, and I realize that it had to be the coat. Because I looked like a cop at a glance?

I feel as if I’ve seen a glimpse of something that mere citizens can only suspect. Free stuff in donut shops. This probably dates back to pre- Revolutionary days. There were donuts back then, right? ( Note to self- Google ” donut history” for possible new post )

And how far does this go? Does this only apply to donuts? We can only guess at the repercussions. Hamburgers? Pizza? With any toppings you want? Except anchovies… small salted fish floating in tomato sauce…revolting. I should use my new coat for the forces of good, and arrest people who get anchovies on pizza. Or have them removed and held as evidence in an ongoing investigation. ( Note to self- Google ” anchovy history” as part of ongoing investigation ) And… if they’re not on pizza, what the hell else can you do with anchovies?

And purely as part of the ongoing investigation, I’ll next wear my new coat to go pick up some Chinese…after all, they’re only two doors down from Honeydew.

Call it Investigative Journalism. I suppose that’s what Cranston PD calls it.

 

 

 

Chapter 32…

In the annals of romantic imagery, I’m sure many a poet has made reference to that most seldom- seen and  yet most highly coveted of all; the classically sculpted feminine hand cast against a field of azure blue, flipping the bird out of a car window as it drives off into the sunset… was it Sandburg, or Robert Frost? Not exactly Venus on the clamshell, but pretty damned romantic for North Smithfield.

Actually, I have always aligned myself with the lunatic fringe that claims it to have been a scallop shell, and not a clamshell at all. What Greco- Roman female would be seen arising from a clam, or given the local fauna, a quahog, for God’s sake. Any respectable chowder chef would attest to the inherent difficulties, and to several pertinent related facts; clam chowder is made from quahogs, not clams; Venus insisted on a scallop shell, being much lighter, easier to work with, and much more iridescent. Many lesser-known Greco- Roman models conceded to working with quahogs, mainly because Venus’ lawyer quickly filed a patent on the use of the scallop shell image.

He is also part owner of George’s and a few day boats out of Galilee. This is widely known as synchronicity.

I had the place to myself. My client and the investigating detective both drove off in different directions, swept up in what appeared to be truly spectacular hissy fits. He almost forgot that he had a couple of uniform guys with him, and they barely made it back to the cruiser before Fucking Bobby pulled away. Too bad. I might have shared a cab with them, maybe found out some about Bobby’s recent activities. But for now… I stood in the middle of Jenn’s house, wondering if this were actually a crime scene or not.

I decided to take another look for cameras, and hopefully find what I really needed…a computer that would have the IP address that I needed to access the playback software.

I found a desktop in her daughter’s bedroom, and spent a nervous half-hour trying commonly used passwords. Jenn12345 did the trick. I got the IP address, and called a cab. I locked the front door behind me, hoping that whoever came along next had a key. There had already been more people in and out of here today than Port Authority. I had found a total of six cameras, strategically placed so that most of the house traffic would be accounted for. I considered wiping some prints on the way out, but thought it would be better to have to explain why I was there rather than lose all the other prints that would be found along with mine.

And finally, back to the office, after paying for the cabbie’s kids’ first year of Brown University. We don’t need no stinking scholarships. Roland had apparently taken no messages, opting instead to sleep the morning away with his head stuck under his forepaw. I wished again that I could do that myself, but anatomy simply does not allow for it.

I had time in the cab to ponder some extremely odd phenomena, like why my client had bolted, where she may have gone, and why the local cop was acting so very strangely. And where the hell had he gone, leaving someone unattended in Jenn’s house?

He had really shown little interest in the missing sister, and I realized after the fact… he had not shown any interest in the physical setting whatsoever, as if he already knew the layout of the premises. Second nature. I had obviously wandered into the middle of some ugly, messy road- kill personal stuff… but I was invited. Actually, hired is the correct term. But again…who hires a PD and then takes off like that? I often quip that I’ve seen everything, but this was just weird. And she did have Jenn’s phone… I would really liked to have seen the call records. Why didn’t she show me that first?

Maybe I’ll ask her about that, once I ever find her again.

From my perspective, I suddenly realized that maybe I had two missing sisters on my hands?

The software loaded slowly, as it always does. Several error messages about bad addresses per usual, and then…voila. Not just six… ten cameras. Jenn had this place covered like it really was Port Authority.

Three weeks of back footage, and the only area that didn’t have any coverage was the bathroom. Thank God for small favors.

Time to put on the tea kettle and make a call to see if Caserta’s delivers. I hoped that this would turn out to be a very boring movie. For the most part.

Roland the Professional Lap Cat assumed the position, Caserta’s was twenty minutes out, and I pitched in to it.

 

 

Chapter 31

It felt like someone was holding me under water. My lungs screamed wildly for air, my last breath washed away under a wave of emotional turbulance. I felt the panic rising. Reaching desperately for the front door, I grabbed the handle. One turn, one push… returned to the banks of of the sane. Or so I hoped.

It felt good to get out of the house. Away from a crime scene, the crime scene. Did I really just say that? Life sure can get fucked up fast. Bobby… arrogant, secretive and at times, God help me, scary. How could I forget so quickly?

Half running, half walking, I got into the car just as Bobby swung open the front door. Please don’t let him follow me! Fumbling in my purse, I pulled the keys out and had the engine running just as he came sprinting down the driveway. I gave him the finger, as a visual to go with the sound of screeching tires.

Shifting gears, my brain fixated on the odds, that of all the cops on the N. Smithfield police force, Bobby would answer Roger’s 911 call. Did one of his cop buddies at the station recognize the address and call him?

They say good habits die hard. I feel bad I left Roger stranded, but it’s better to be the driver than the driven. Delia, tells me I’m a control freak. Maybe she’s right, but there’s nothing wrong with being able to leave a place when you want to leave. And right now, I was in a hurry to hit the highway.

The sky was quickly turning a toasty, burnt orange. If traffic’s not too heavy, I can make it to Narragansett in an hour. All I want right now is to… oh man, haven’t heard this song in forever… “gonna take a freight train down to the station, don’t care where it goes… gonna climb a mountain, jump off nobody gonna know, … can’t you see”…  I reached over, turned it up.

295 South stretched out before me. The right music, open road – better than all the hooch in the world. I’m always grateful when I get the opportunity to drive to business meetings. It doesn’t happen often. Record labels, their attorneys, their clients, not the most patient people when it comes to negotiating and signing contracts.

Feeling the home stretch. Just a few more miles. Instead of taking the highway, I decided to take the scenic, coastal route. Hanging a left at the Tower, the Hannah Robinson Tower, I shifted the car into neutral and let gravity wind me down Bridgetown Road.

Less than five minutes later I was on Rt. 1A. Driving parallel to the coast, it was now a straight shot to Narragansett and Ocean Road. The sun had long since set when I pulled in to the crushed shell driveway. I parked around back. In this neighborhood, appearances are everything. Opening the car door, the smell of ocean and salt and seaweed filled my nostrils. I breathed in deeply. The tide was going out.

 

Chapter 30…

I’m too old for this.

And getting older by the second. While the ranting continues from downstairs, I stand here desperately trying to determine how I can trace these cameras back to their source, and getting a little panicky about it. They have to be wondering what the hell I’m doing up here by now.

And then realize that I’m literally standing right in front of the damned answer. Hiding right in plain sight, as they say.

 There’s a 24- in. LED screen in the corner of the room, as a lot of bedrooms have, with a cable box on the shelf underneath it. And another cable box underneath that. Most people wouldn’t give this a second glance. It’s just another gizmo plugged into somebody’s TV.

Except this gizmo is an old GE Triplex DVR designed for security use. I’ve spent years wrestling with the damned thing, being widely used in general security applications. An operator’s manual obviously written by three blind, drunken Chinese engineers locked in a closet. I  can now clearly remember Jenn telling me years ago that she wanted to get one from her dad’s PI company to be able to track Aunt Mary’s nocturnal weirdness. She was  apparently busy hoarding canned goods, almost filling the garage with them. We joked at Aunt Mary’s expense, too, that she would be fully prepared for the Apocalypse. Because one needs to be able to offer the Four Horsemen a decent home-cooked meal, and Del Monte Creamed Corn is the perfect sidedish.

If only I could remember to follow the bread crumb trail. No, no…I stand here staring at a piece of equipment that I’m quite familiar with, wondering why it’s here at all. In the home of an ex- security account manager… who’s father ran a PI agency… that she got licensed through…

The bread crumbs are the size of golf balls nowadays. I am too damned old for this.

Next  row of crumbs… get the TV remote, get to the GE submenu, get the IP address to the DVR, and get the freak out of Dodge. Because I’ve still got the GE software suite on my laptop back at the office, from six years ago. Once a packrat…applies to software, too.

Thank you, Jesus. A breakthrough, finally. I just knew there would be one around here somewhere.

With a bit more luck, I’ll be able to watch this whole thing unfold in relative comfort back at the office. Just grab a six-pack of Guiness Blonde and some Orville Redenbacher on the way. This ‘ll be over in no time. And no, I will not share this information with the police presence downstairs. I have a strong hunch that ol’ Bobby is going to be all over this DVR.

And now to get back to Providence. Problematic, having ridden up here with someone who could still well prove to be up to her knees in this.

Way, way too old. Need rest. Need computer. Need faithful cat in attendance.

And, next time, try not to rely on possible suspects for transportation, dumbass.

 

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.