Cold Mac & Cheese and other musings

August 31, 2008

Checkmate 7

Filed under: Uncategorized — D.J. Lutz @ 3:37 am
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Realizing he needed to maintain at least the appearance of being a detective, Frank slowly walked back into the house.  Lou had just finished his interview with his main, albeit only suspect – Christy Culpepper, the wife of the deceased, and was leaving the study.

“Anything new?”  Frank was fishing.  Did Lou have any idea that he was close friends with Christy?  Very close?  He knew that Lou was an outstanding detective, why would he work with someone less? His choice in partners may be coming back on him now…

Lou carefully measured his words.  “She wasn’t too cooperative. As a matter of fact, it looks like she is trying to hide something, but I don’t think she is the murderer.”

Frank was momentarily flummoxed.  “How so?  She didn’t seem too upset about losing her husband in such a graphic manner a few hours ago.  I’d have thought she would be a bit more flustered.”

“Yeah, that part confuses me, too.  But a murderer, being interrogated so quickly after the fact, would have put up a thousand and one excuses, trying to come up with an airtight alibi.  All she offered was that you could vouch for her this afternoon.”

“Alright Lou.  Let’s stop the game.  You’ve left out a detail somewhere and you are hoping that I can spit it out in order to corroborate her story. This is where we are going, isn’t it?”

Lou recognized the same type of defense offered by Christy. Whatever was between those two, they had obviously talked about the possibility of being questioned, separately.  “You going to tell me, or are you just taking the easy road and bowing out of the investigation?”

Frank sighed.  This would not play well in the media.  Not too well at home, either. “Out of concern for everyone, and my career, I think I will recluse myself.  I expect that you will follow process and be speaking to IO. But Lou… rest assured that neither Christy nor I had anything to do with the murder.”

“Well, let’s hope forensics turns up something that can point us in another direction, then. I’ll tell you what, Frank, I consider the matter closed.  You, on the other hand, have to deal with Internal Affairs.  That, my friend, is your problem.”

Barbara, meanwhile, had stopped by Christy’s bedroom, where the new widow was crying.  The events of the day had finally caught up with her. “Is there anything I can do?  I know that’s a trite line, and you’ll hear it way too much in the next few days, but it’s all I could think of…sorry.”

“It’s okay. I just have a million things to sort out. What I just can’t figure out is why someone would want Cliff dead?”

“Did you tell Lou anything that might help?”

“No.  I’m afraid I was a bit on the defensive side. Probably didn’t help my own case much, I guess.”

Barbara knew she had to get back to the office.  She had series of web matches scheduled in an hour or so. “Well, I’ve known Lou for a long time now.  If he really thought you killed her, he would either still be here… or you would be taking a blue and white taxi downtown to check into the graybar hotel.”  Gads, she thought. Living with a cop has allowed police slang to infiltrate her lexicon.

“Listen.  I’ll be alright.  Go home, spend some time with that husband of yours.  I just need some time alone to cry.  Tomorrow will be better.  I’ll call you.  We can have coffee and sort this whole thing out.”

Recognizing an out being presented, Barbara pounced on it. “You just call my cell if you need anything, promise?”  Christy gave her a hug and sat back down on the bed. Barabara didn’t want to leave her best friend like this, but she knew she could not miss an on-line appointment. “I’ll call you in the morning.  Now get going.”

Back at the office, Barbara shut and locked the door, then closed the heavy drapes she had put up over the windows to keep light, and accidental voyeurs out.  Tonight she would be using her translucent one piece, the one with matching heels. She had several outfits, any one of them would either cause every man at the pool to stop in their tracks, or get her kicked out of the pool. This one would have certainly sent her packing.

With such a wardrobe, Barbara had more customers than she could handle.  She did two matches a day; one in the afternoon for the bored businessmen sitting alone in their corner offices, and one match at eleven pm.  She knew from conversations with her other married friends that after the evening news, the wives went to sleep and the husbands cruised the Internet.  Why not take advantage?  At a c-note per game, Barbara had amassed quite the nest egg, thanks to unrequited lust and a popular online pay service that kept everyone’s name confidential…

Once the computers were linked, she started greeting her opponents scheduled for matches this evening.  It was a simple business really. She played ten games of chess simultaneously, with the boards set about in a large circle. She would move, then progress to the next game and make another move. The opponents would see the move on their screen and then using instant messaging, type in their move. With ten games happening at once, each player was afforded ample time to watch Barbara play the others.

Once the game was won, Barbara would disconnect the player’s account.  Unless, of course, Barbara lost.  In this case, rare as it was, she allow the player to remain connected online, chatting with him as she played the games on both sides of his victorious board.  Incentive for them to be a better player, she thought,but what they didn’t know was she had put herself through college hustling games from old professors.

She beat nine of ten tonight. Her mind was just wasn’t on the game tonight. Barbara kept thinking about what Christy had said earlier.  Why had Cliff been killed?  It looked like a profesional hit, but why would he allow the hitman into the room…and not even put up a struggle? And what could a straight arrow like Cliff Culpepper have done to warrant a hit?


August 30, 2008

Checkmate 6

Filed under: Uncategorized — D.J. Lutz @ 1:55 am
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“Listen…Detective, I would rather not have my friend’s name entered into an official public record such as this.  If there comes a time when I need to tell you, I will be happy to accommodate, but until that time I would like to say that if you are asking me if I have an alibi, then yes, I have one.  If you are that curious, ask your partner. He can vouch for us.  He saw us earlier today at the cafe.”

Christy knew that detectives were very skilled in their questioning technique and the only way to gain an advantage was to suprise them by going on the offensive.  Show weakness and they will exploit every word you say until they get the result they want.  Punting to Frank was a hail Mary play, one that Christy had, in an instant, made the basis for her entire defense.  Now to hope that Frank would realize what had happened and play along.

Lou got the message loud and clear.  Mrs. Culpepper was not interested in talking.  She was beautiful, but that didn’t absolve her from being a suspect.  The prisons were full of nice looking women who had killed ther mates.  The investigation would take longer now but at least he had a lead suspect.  Lou would also have to speak to Frank; ask him to recluse himself from the case.  There was no way Lou wanted to take Christy Culpepper to trial, only to have it unravel before his eyes due to an unreported conflict of interest with an officer.  Ruining a popular detective’s career would be the end of his career, also.  It’s all about the code.

Barbara, meanwhile, had found her husband outside the front door of the home, speaking to reporters.  Frank was a photo op waiting to happen and the reporters knew it.  Handsome, with rugged good looks, Frank fit the bill for a tough, no-nonsense cop. There was even talk of Frank being asked to run for mayor in the future, although he wanted none of it.  Making police chief was his only goal, and with a high visibility case such as this, he would be chief the day the position became available.

“Detective Quadro, can you tell us anything about the case?  Any suspects yet?  Do we have a killer on the loose in our fair city?”

“Stop trying to sell papers by stirring up panic.  This was not a random crime. We have suspects; we have evidence.  Let us do our job so that justice can be served. The public is in no danger.”

Frank lit a new cigar, smiled at his wife and started to move in her general direction.  Knowing that the photographers always try to throw some sex appeal into their shots, he made sure they had plenty of opportunity to get pics of the well dressed detective with his sultry, country girl wife.  Guaranteed at least two photos would make it in tomorrow’s paper.  “Hey, honey. Hows Christy doing?”

“She still in a state of shock. Your partner is talking to her now. You might need to tell Lou to take it easy on her; he doesn’t know her like we do.”

Frank hesitated before he went back inside.  Somehow he needed to find out what Christy had told his partner.  No reason to cause undue strain in the superficial relationship he already had with his own wife.  He certainly didn’t want to become a suspect…either.

August 29, 2008

Checkmate 5

Filed under: Uncategorized — D.J. Lutz @ 4:17 am
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Detective Frank Quadro still had a stub of a cigar clutched between two fingers when his partner, Lou Tomasino, came out of the study.

“Anything left by the killer?”

Lou replied in a somewhat factual manner, devoid of emotion for the moment.  “No prints, no shell casing, no weapon, no struggle, no sign of forced entry. He was sitting down when he was shot; the laptop had fallen to the floor, but it looked as if he was tooling around online when he was beaned.”

Frank thought for a minute.  With no visible break-in and the victim still sitting in his chair, not only was this a case of a murderer getting invited into the room, but also a situation where getting shot in the face came unexpectedly.  How could someone get that close without causing alarm?  A spouse could, to be sure, but Frank knew that this could not be the case. He and his wife had known Cliff and Christy for many years now.

“What a way to start a shift,” Lou mumbled as he walked back into the study.  With him were evidence technicians, experts in preserving the clues needed to solve the mystery.  They came back out a few minutes later with the laptop in hand.  “Forensics will check this baby out.  He could have taken a picture with the webcam or something.”  Frank asked his partner if the computer was still connected to the Internet.  Perhaps the history log would give up some bones for the two dogs.  “I don’t know exactly where he was, as far as websites, but the computer was still on.”

Frank went to the bedroom.  Everything was neat and tidy.  No extracurricular activities for this guy, he thought.  Then again, Cliff had only one thing going for him – his money.  If Cliff Culpepper walked into a bar full of women, he wouldn’t even be noticed until he pulled his wallet out.  The evidence team processed the bedroom anyway.  You just never could tell…

Lou came back from the sedan.  Clipboard in hand, he asked Frank if he wanted to help get a more detailed statement from the wife.  The pre-lim had some vagueness to it, almost as if she had conveniently forgotten key facts that should have been only a few hours old.  Things like where she was and who she was with at the time.  Mrs. Culpepper didn’t look like a killer, but stranger things have happened.

Detective Tomasino walked out to the deck.  “Mrs. Culpepper?   May I have a word, please?”

“Certainly, please sit down.”

Barbara wasn’t sure what was going to happen next, so she thought it better to excuse herself.  Lou watched her go back into the house.  He knew that she was married to his partner, but he couldn’t deny that Barbara Quadro was a looker.  Returning his gaze towards the wife of the deceased, Lou realized that not only had she caught him eying the jeans as they sauntered away, but also that this lady was even more of a knockout.

“Mrs. Culpepper, where were you prior to coming home and discovering your husband?”

“Out. Out for dinner. With a friend…from school.”

“And what was that friend’s name?”

Barbara scrambled for a name. She needed a name of someone that would be near impossible to verify.

Events had happened fast.  She hadn’t anticipated finding her husband sitting in an easy chair, shirt soaked in blood.

The little lie needed to become much bigger.  Christy needed an alibi, instead.

August 28, 2008

Checkmate 4

Filed under: Uncategorized — D.J. Lutz @ 3:50 am
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Barbara knew what had to be done.  Her best friend, her old roommate who was always fearless when it came to late night college pranks by the central fountain on campus – was scared.  Someone had come into their house and shot her husband.  No telling what the motive was, or if there was any at all.  It could have been a home invasion gone south.  Who knew?  Regardless, Christy Culpepper did not need to see the coroner’s team put the “victim” in a black, impersonal body bag.

“Lets go out to the deck; have us some tea or something,” Barbara offered.

“I don’t feel like tea.  I’m not thirsty; I’m angry!”  Christy, like a drunk coming off of a three day binge, was going through a wide range of emotions. She had panicked, which seemed like the thing to do when you find your spouse with a bullet hole leading into their brain.  She had been scared.  Too many uncertainties.  Now she was upset and angry.  She wanted to find the guy who did this and take care of it ‘old school.’

Barbara led her by the arm out onto the teak wood deck.  It was a magnificent addition to an already beautiful home.  Hot tub at one end, custom barbecue pit at the other. Pulling up two lawn chairs, they both sat down, facing out onto the well manicured lawn.

“I’m not worried about the money, if that’s what you are thinking.  Cliff made sure his legal papers were always up to date and he put us into an investment plan that will pay off big once we are eligible for social security.  That’s an accountant for you, always nit-picking the details.”

Turning her thoughts toward the police inside the house, Barbara asked her friend if they had taken a statement from her yet. “Just a simple one.  They also took some samples of my clothes.”  Clearly, they were looking for evidence that Christy was responsible.  With no sign of forced entry, the spouse is always the first choice in suspects.

“You know the sad part,” Christy explained, “is that while I am sure I will miss him, part of me is glad he is finally gone.”

“How is that possible?”

“My husband may have been a terrific accountant, with an outstanding reputation for strict adherence to the law, but he had problems.”

“He spent too much time with one eye on the spreadsheet and the other eye on the clerks.”

August 27, 2008

Checkmate 3

Filed under: Uncategorized — D.J. Lutz @ 3:13 am
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Barbara quickly exited the parking garage, going from near darkness into blinding sunlight.  She was in a hurry, to be sure, and hadn’t quite taken the time to let her eyes adjust to the change.  A blaring car horn snapped her out of her funk and back to the reality of city traffic. Looking ahead at the sea of red taillights, the chess queen knew it would take longer than normal to reach Christy’s house.  Since Barbara usually left the “office” a bit past midnight, she was not used to driving in so much congestion.

While waiting at the next intersection, her thoughts started racing again.  How exactly did Cliff die?  Why did he die?  Who did it?  A thousand questions deluged her brain, cascading downward into a dark abyss. Then the guilt set in.  What would happen if someone found out she earned a living, a very comfortable living, by playing games of chess online…while parading around in clothing that left little to the imagination. Her reputation could be ruined, her husband’s career set into shambles. Damn, she thought, why aren’t I thinking about my best friend?  For God’s sake, she just lost her husband!

Realizing she had driven for several miles without any short term recollection of how she did it, Barbara turned on the air conditioning in an attempt to keep her wits about her.  She knew that Cliff was an important man in the business world, and as such would rate the best the police could offer.  Her intuition was confirmed when she saw her husband’s police sedan in the front drive.

“Hello Frank.  Where’s Christy?”

Detective Frank Quadro, dressed in his dark gray suit, complete with gold detective shield afixed to his belt, just off to the side of the buckle, puffed on the ten dollar Macanudo cigar.  “She’s in the kitchen.  Don’t go in the study or the bedroom.  Crime scene.”

As Barbara weaved her way through the entourage of investigators, she overheard one of them describing the body. One shot, through the nose upward into the brain.  No exit wound. Had all the earmarks of a professional hit.

As she reached Christy, both broke into sobs, grasping each other in a hug.  “What am I going to do?”

August 26, 2008

Checkmate 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — D.J. Lutz @ 9:55 am
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Barbara hurredly put the laptops away, securing them in the office storeroom.  Sliding her now trembling legs into a pair of old jeans and throwing on a t-shirt, she made one last inspection of the room.  Satisfied that one would not be able to tell what activity normally occurred there, Barbara turned out the light and walked out the door.  One of the last things she needed was for her best friend, Christy, to find out that her little business venture involved string bikinis, thongs and on-line chess.  Worse yet- in her time of grief and anxiety over the tragic and violent death of her husband Cliff, for Christy to learn that her successful, corporate executive husband played “Bikini Chess” weekly with a total stranger, a practically naked one in fact, to the tune of several hundred dollars a month.


Filed under: Uncategorized — D.J. Lutz @ 3:25 am

Disclaimer: Any resemblance to any person or group, living, dead or otherwise, is entirely coincidental.  Sorry, but this is a work of fiction.  I don’t know of anyone like these people…”

CHECKMATE – Four people, Two relationships, One killer

Like happens to many two income marriages, Frank and Barbara Quadro’s relationship had deteriorated into a non-confrontational, independent partnership of convenience.  Each had their own career plans, their own desires, and…their own flaws.  Neither one was really concerned about the exploits of the other, as long as appearances were kept up and social status was maintained.  When Barbara learned that one of her best customers, her college roommate’s husand no less, had been shot in the head, execution style, she knew that her comfortable, reclusive on-line world was coming to an abrupt end.

Postcard Fiction…

Filed under: Uncategorized — D.J. Lutz @ 3:06 am
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Okay, so I finally have my characters, a plot, a few obstacles, a red herring or two, and a twist.  Now time to start the next story.

It will be shorter than Pecos, more along the lines of a short story as opposed to a novella. I will try to write a paragraph or two at a time, entering them as posts.  Whole thing should only be about six or seven chapters.  Once it’s done I’ll move it over by Old Pecos and the word from the cat, as a new page where you can read it in one sitting without having to go through all those posts.

Why call it Postcard fiction?  Because it might not be much to write home about, but the pictures could be awesome!

August 23, 2008

Low Budget B-films worth watching….and the demise of the video store.

After spending well over an hour in the video store, we finally found a movie that (a) we had not seen before and (b) might actually be worth the few dollars rental fee.

I realized at that point the video store as we know it was an endangered species.  With mail-order services in full swing and pay per view movies available by clicking on your remote control, the blue and yellow signed enterprise so common in today’s urban sprawl has had to undergo a concept change, trying to stay viable.  It rents games and systems, slowly replacing their DVD movies.  “Goodness, Martha, I hope they still have VHS tapes…” The writing on the wall looks like online gaming will replace their current main product line.  Time to think of an exit strategy, in my opinion.

Kind of reminds me of the Purple Roofed Ethical Suicide Parlor made famous by Vonnegut, but I digress…sort of.

But for now, we walked out with not one, but two movies.  I guess my opinion may be premature.

So if you want a few hours of time spent watching stars when they were younger and actors that may never be stars, using scripts that spoof non-stop and at times offend those that take the subject matter way too seriously, try these:  “Scotland, PA” ( a Sundance movie, actually) and “Dogma.”  For you Shakespeare fans, Scotland, PA is loosely, very very loosely, based on Macbeth.  Dogma takes bits and pieces of Christian (mostly Catholic-oriented) theology and creates a simple plot with what appears to be a predictable end, but of course with a huge twist instead.

Try them both, but please don’t get upset.  They’re just movies.  Smile, it’ll be okay! Have some popcorn, or better yet – get a burger and some fries!

August 22, 2008

For those expecting a new tale…

Filed under: Uncategorized — D.J. Lutz @ 3:18 am

Now that ‘Pecos’ is done, and the cat has had its’ say, I am working on the structure of a new story.  I am not sure of the length yet, but it will be much shorter than ‘Pecos.’

It will be a crime / detective mystery, with a bit more seriousness to it than previous works.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress as it develops. I’ll put the chapters in as separate pages.  As of today, I have established the crime, the characters and their basic relationships to one another, and about half have names.  Everyone is a suspect…even you!

Stay tuned…

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