Cold Mac & Cheese and other musings

March 9, 2010

Dead Man’s Hand – scene 1

The Dead Man’s Hand
By Douglas Lutz / copyright March 2010

After a slow count to five, the chloroform had done its job, rendering the old man motionless. Time was short; voices could be heard just down the walkway. This job needed to be finished quickly and there was always the getaway to consider. Much harder to get paid if you’re in jail. Concentrate. Ignore the voices for a second. Now, put the pistol in his hands; point it backwards. Get a good grip on the hands and aim center mass. Carefully manipulate the pliable digits; slowly squeeze the trigger. The 6 inch, nickel plated.38 came to life like a dog whose bite was worse than its bark, sending a spiraling chunk of metal through the skin, past the ribcage and into the heart. The tumbling bullet tore through the massive muscle of life, carrying much of it out the exit wound in back, fusing flesh and blood with the fibers of the office chair’s naugahyde back rest. Mission accomplished.

Calvin Baxter’s 12 pots full of blue crab were better than he had expected, considering the weekend’s Nor’easter had turned the normally tranquil waters of the Chesapeake Bay into a dark green, foamy grog. Hell, the boat almost sank twice and the last thing Calvin wanted to do was catch a ride with a nearby Coast Guard helicopter. The weather had cleared that morning, just hours before the Concept 2 was to pull into the marina off of 67th street. Retired and now living alone, Calvin had little human interaction of consequence and each Sunday afternoon he looked forward to selling his catch, stocking up on a few supplies and maybe, if he was lucky, spending an hour or so just hanging out at the marina. There was no kidding himself. Calvin tried to believe it was the extra cash he made selling crustaceans that made his day worthwhile, but no, deep down Calvin Baxter knew it was the few minutes, that precious quarter of an hour he would get to spend with the dock girl, Kay, that kept him coming back to the same marina, week after week. Today was no exception. Kay had already helped him off-load the blue crab and was returning with his cash, a receipt and a cart full of basic supplies, the type needed by someone who lived on their boat. A muffled pistol shot grabbed both of their attentions.

Calvin knew what had happened. Thirty years a cop, 18 years a detective on the homicide squad of the Norfolk Police Department had given him the experience to know that a fairly large caliber pistol, possibly a .45, had just been discharged inside the marina office. “Damn, here we go…” Calvin muttered as he picked up his cell phone and called 911. “Yeah, this is Detective Calvin Baxter, Norfolk PD. Just heard a shot fired inside the marina office on 67th street. No one seen entering or leaving the premises.” The dispatcher went through her normal procedures, sending the report to the nearest unit. Calvin knew he was in Virginia Beach and while he knew some of the older guys there, he didn’t want to bully his way onto their turf. “Yeah, I’ll wait outside for the marked unit.” Calvin reached into a drawer just inside the pilot house of his little boat, pulling out a Sig Sauer .38, the detective’s preferred handgun.

“What’s going on? What just happened?” Kay said with more than a little fear in her voice. Quite shaken, she had almost rolled the ice chest right into the drink. “Stay here, Kay. Probably a robbery in progress. With one shot, it’s already gotten ugly.” “I’ll stay here on the boat, if you don’t mind.”

Weapon in hand, Calvin moved down the dock towards the office. He heard voices to his right. There, on the fantail of one of the larger yachts, were four men. “Hey, our buddy is in there,” one said, pointing to the office. “Don’t worry, I’m a cop. Stay where you are until we find out what’s going on.”

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August 31, 2008

Checkmate 7

Filed under: Uncategorized — D.J. Lutz @ 3:37 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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?

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