Part II is here!
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Ay resemblance to actual events, locales, agencies or persons, living or dead, is coincidental. Any governments, nations, government officials or government agencies are fictional constructs built by the author and they bear no relationship to the real thing.
Copyright ©2013 by Edith R Allen
All rights reserved
Visit Xenonlit Press Website at www.xenonlit.jimdo.com
The Chupacabra Desert Mystery
She insisted on very expensive, secure fencing around the areas where she spent her time. The secure area was a two acre section of the thousand acre ranch that included the pool, her elaborate gardens, the horse stables and a riding ring. Lisa believed that she could walk around freely and at any time of day or night with the added security. Now she was able to fall in love with the mysterious, beautiful views and the peaceful lifestyle.
It was November and the air was chilly. She and her husband, bundled up in their shearling coats, were walking the perimeter of the property at midnight. They marveled at starry skies that were unlike any she had ever seen. She was a city girl who never realized that light pollution could hide so much of the universe.
“Out here, the skies are so full of stars, we have shadows when there isn't even a moon!” She told her husband.
“This is why I wanted you to give this place some time, my love. I knew you would come to appreciate it. But I do understand your fears of living in the open and in such isolation,"
He stopped and spun around to the left, "What is that?” He turned and started walking toward the northeast corner of the secure area.
A noise like a giant, grinding machine came from the depths of the surrounding desert. It was a horrible noise that seemed to come from a machine so large it should have been visible.
“What is that, Dan?” She screamed and covered her ears.
“Let me get this light on... You videotape this!” He turned on his million candle power spotlight, a new toy he used to light up large areas of his thousand acre ranch at night. The light brought out a diorama of empty desert, rock formations and patches of scrub pine forests, but nothing unusual.
“I don’t see anything...” He started to say more.
And then the screaming started. The empty desert filled with the sounds of screaming. Animals were screaming in fear, pain and torment.
And something else, a very large animal, was screaming in rage and horrible aggression.
Kevin Ap-Rhys was the worst patient ever. He was still in recovery from a gunshot wound where an unusual bullet pierced his body armor and punched a hole in his scapula. He underwent an emergency surgery and two reconstructive surgeries, but was a holy terror now that he could sit up in his bed. As soon as his mind was clear of the heavier painkillers, he insisted on going back to work. His doctor and caregivers were ready for any excuse to send him back to the heavy sedation.
Kevin's first problem was that his highly successful and growing security firm needed his attention. He had a woman who insisted that nothing needed his attention, including her. He wanted to give her a lot of attention.
He had a doctor, Doctor Yap, who mysteriously showed up in San Francisco when Kevin moved there. He had a butler, Georges, who helped develop Kevin from a mute, tragically damaged little boy to a substantial, if hard headed young man.
“I say! Let him come in! I promise not to get agitated as I did this morning. I need to talk with Andrew,” Kevin yelled at Nurse Lee, doing a poor job of not being agitated.
“Well, since you are so calm and in control, I will let you and Andrew visit for fifteen minutes,” Nurse Lee was being sarcastic, but decided that it was best to let Kevin have his way. He had worries about his business and the meeting would reassure him that all was well.
At least she had been able to brush his hair and make him presentable. His clean shaven face and growing mass of honey blond naps and curls made him presentable. Kevin refused to go back to the regulation haircut the FBI required of its agents. He would not be going back to active duty for a long time, anyway.
“Andrew! Come in! You see that I am calm and in control, so let’s get this done quickly, or Nurse Ratchett... err... Nurse Lee will have me tied down.”
“Yes, Kevin. You get fifteen minutes and that is it,” Andrew briefed Kevin on his most pressing issues, including a new “blind-to-site” operation in an undisclosed location. A special team would go to the client's location, install security systems and leave without ever knowing where they had been. Kevin was getting more of these contracts every month and they were highly profitable.
“We are doing well with these projects, Andrew. The clients are happy knowing that the construction and service crews cannot sell or give away their security secrets. But this project is different. This is the first time we send a construction crew, supplies and equipment. It is something we have never done before.”
“Yes. I brought in the best security team to keep control over the security crew. I will personally supervise the operation.”
“Good. I know that you will do well. The team departs from Lake New York, I assume?”
“Yes. It was a smart move, buying a property in the middle of nowhere.”
“Well, I actually lease that property, Andrew. I don’t want it traceable to my firm. At any rate, I can’t find out who owns it so I can make an offer. The owner was as careful as I am.”
Kevin had no idea he was leasing the property from Marcia Landon, his new love interest. She was more careful and resourceful than he realized.
“You have nothing else to do, except to review this new client request,” Andrew said. Andrew was a tall, substantial man who was as qualified as Kevin to run the firm. He was a security expert with a degree in engineering from Oxford. He had a rare ability to lead his people off the side of a cliff if he had to. His ability was rare because he was too smart to get into enough trouble to be forced to lead his people off a cliff. In other words, Andrew was a lot like Kevin.
Andrew frowned slightly, his blue eyes clouding to indicate his reluctance to give Kevin information that would have him charging into a new case. An unsolved mystery was like crack cocaine to Kevin, but this one was approved by Dr. Yap. Kevin could do this investigation without leaving his home.
“At least I hope he can stay home. I know he will travel for this case. He will pack Dr. Yap, Georges, and his nurse and he will go there, I just know it.
"Make sure that he stays at home or I will pull the plug on this, as the Americans say,” Dr. Yap growled. He had powers and authorities that went beyond normal doctor’s privileges and he would have Kevin collected if necessary.
“Kevin, you have a request from a New Mexico rancher. He owns a sizable ranch where he breeds very expensive purebred sheep. Something attacked his sheep and the evidence leans toward an animal that no one can identify. He did extensive research and consulted with experts, but no one can identify the beast, or beasts.” Andrew tried, but failed, to keep a straight face. He left out the part where Kevin's girlfriend was behind the new case.
Kevin glared at his good friend and second in charge. “Andrew! Why do you test me like this? Is this a joke? Is this a plot to make me stay in bed, pretending that I am actually working? Is this a toy assignment for the bedridden?”
“No, Kevin! It is a real investigation. Here are the files,” He handed Kevin a removable storage device. “These files include extensive notes, photos, witness statements and reports from the experts. The rancher has statements from other ranchers and farmers in the area. They also complain about a beast that is attacking other livestock. They are all in the Las Cruces, New Mexico area. It is a rather large file, so I recommend you read it before you make a decision.”
“That’s fair enough, but you better not be pranking me. I will not be pranked! Now get out of here, you prankist.”
“There is no such word as 'prankist'!” Andrew was grinning.
“Get out! And thank you, Andrew.”
Marcia Landon was in New Mexico, surveying her small, twenty acre ranch. She bought the place for it’s views, its location at the edge of a vast cliff, and the water wells she owned. She had the most expensive steel fencing to protect her entire property. Because she had the best security, she leased ten acres to two of her neighbors who sometimes needed extra protection for their very expensive horses and sheep. She kept ten acres as a nature preserve and kept two of those as her personal playground.
Lisa Bancroft got her idea of a well secured area from Marcia. Together, the two paid over two million dollars for their fencing and security systems. Ap-Sec, Kevin Ap-Rhys's security firm, did the work on both ranches and had four more contracts in the area.
“Other than doing a little business with my tenants and accounting for the food I grow, I just like to sit on my Cliffside retreat and look out there. I’m excited to be hosting the astronomy class tonight. These skies are too good to waste... Wait! what the heck?”
She interrupted herself to marvel at the livestock areas. They were packed with sheep and the horse areas were packed with a large herd of expensive thoroughbreds.
“I want a meeting now!” She yelled to her aide, Mrs. Markey. “I can’t be held liable for those expensive animals, packed in as they are!”
She soon had her answers. Her neighbors were already waiting in her large, cool galleria. Marcia’s ranch house had huge entertaining areas and a private wings for the eight bedrooms and bathrooms needed for her staff and her guests. Her permanent ranch staff lived in a smaller, four bedroom house on the property.
“Well, what’s happening? Are those animals under attack by aliens or something? I knew this desert was weird!” She yelled when she saw the crowd of fifteen neighboring property owners. They must have known that she was coming and decided to wait for her.
The biggest rancher in the area, Dan Bancroft, spoke first, “Marcia, we have something we’ve never seen before. Whatever this thing is, it's a monster. It’s tearing our animals apart at night. We couldn’t think of any other way to keep them safe except for your property. Your lawyer has a special lease that will free you of any liability, if you will just let us keep them here until we figure this mess out.”
Dan Bancroft acted like a hard core racist and misogynist when he and Marcia first met. He stomped onto her property and gave Marcia the worst time of her life. This was when she first showed up to take possession of her property, but she shut him down hard. Her personal security and political connections in New Mexico were unassailable and Dan Bancroft came to realize that very quickly.
He started to treat her with genuine respect and they actually became great friends. Dan was not a racist. He was just furious that anyone could possibly outbid him for the best twenty acres in the area. He coveted those acres for ten years, yet Marcia showed up out of nowhere and got the property at a bargain price. The previous owner was dying and he hated Dan Bancroft with supernatural passion. That is how Marcia came to own a premium property at a bargain price.
Marcia turned to her lawyer, who nodded to indicate that she should sign the leases. She turned back to the crowd and said, “Well, let’s get your trailers in here so your staff can keep track of your animals. Has anyone had any trouble with the county? Is this enough of a crisis to get a waiver for the extra animals, the trailers and the people?”
“We have all the support we need, Ms. Landon,” An older man said. He always called her Ms. Landon and she called him Mr. Martinez. Mr. Martinez was a multimillionaire who, like her, kept his ranch for an escape to simpler times.
“Are there any other shelters available for the smaller ranches? What about the fairgrounds? Are those stables and pens full? I am concerned overcrowding and I am worried about not having the right facilities for a prolonged period.”
“We will be able to move some of them to the fairgrounds soon,” another person spoke up.
“Then fine, as long as the animals stay healthy, I don't have a problem.” She replied. “Now... what is this beast? Do we have any evidence that tells us anything?”
A small Indian woman spoke up. “This is a large animal, about the size of a human at least. It is powerful enough to tear a small, passive animal like a sheep or a chicken apart. It has killed eight lambs and two full grown sheep. The animal avoids the horses and the dogs, but the horses panic when they hear or smell it. That’s why we want to keep them here. It could be a small bear or a large coyote. We have heard of wolves and pit bulls in this area. Someone may have lost control of a larger breed of dog that mixed with coyotes.”
“My God. I know someone who can solve this. Let me make a call.” She left to call Kevin’s second, Andrew. “Andrew! We have a heck of a mess here in New Mexico! Yes. I have a ranch here. It’s small, about twenty acres... My neighbors have all their expensive animals at my place... well we have a mutual support arrangement... yes... something is killing smaller animals... ripping them apart, I hear. Kevin could solve this and he can work from home. The old timers know everything about this land and they can get him all the information he needs.”
“Ms. Landon, I will send Barton Mayer out there. He will bring surveillance and other equipment. He can’t come until tomorrow, but...”
“That would be fine! That is the best, Andrew. We need to get the creature or creatures on camera. I think it is people. There are some real freaks out here in the desert. They get their snoots full of peyote or meth and horrible things happen.”
“Probably not! New Mexico people are more diverse than we think, mostly white, Indian and Mexican, with bits of everything else mixed in. There’s a lot of Black history here, too. We have old Chinese and Japanese families, too. Then, there is a lot of wealth with old ranching families, famous artists and creative folk. Then there are the new age folk. We have everything from holistic healers to spiritualists out here in the dessert.”
“You have an amazing grasp of New Mexico culture, Ms. Landon.”
“I am a forensic sociologist, Mr. Andrew. Don’t ever forget that. I will be the first forensic sociologist of my kind in history.”
“Well, if Dr. Yap approves, I think this would be good for Kevin.” She gave the address and hung up wondering if she had created another monster.
Marcia returned to her large galleria and announced that, if he was able to, a friend of hers would take a look at the evidence. “I need everything you have. Daniel, here can interview you and convert your photos and files to digital media. That’s the best way to do something like this. Is law enforcement being helpful?”
“Law enforcement is busy right now,” someone yelled. “They got a crime spree going on over to the west, all the way to Sedona/Flagstaff. There are a lot of Mexican mules coming through the area. Then we have damage from the last dust storm...”
“That’s fine. You know your properties better than they do, anyway. I have someone coming with special surveillance equipment and he might be able to catch something within the next few days. No promises, though. This is a large area and information leaks out around here. If it is human, it will just stay away.”
“We will protect our properties!” A man yelled.
“You can’t do squat. Stay inside at night and don’t go roaming around out there, Josef!” A woman, a famous painter called back.
“I agree!” Marcia said. “Whatever this is, it is shy with big animals and humans, so there is no need to go out there alone and mix it up with it... or them. That is how people get killed in every monster movie. They go out there alone and next thing you know, its all over!”
Marcia’s words triggered some nervous laughter. She was disappointed. Her vacation was ruined and it would take weeks to put her property back together. Her ranch already looked like a hobo encampment or a bad hippie festival.
"Let's get a feast together up in here. We have a lot to talk about," She sighed.
Carly Bachman hated Indians. He wanted to stick their bodies on a pike and hoist them to the sky as Dracula did with thousands of Ottoman Turks. Carly Bachman never met an American Indian until three weeks ago when he came to Las Cruces from Austria. He came with more than enough money for the meth and the parties and had stayed to hear more of the interesting ideas he heard about.
“This group has a unique posture. They know all about ancient Indian demons and horrors. But the real Indians are outraged. They want to shut everything down. I want to eat their faces.”
Carly was in town, looking for ingredients for a dish he wanted to prepare for his hosts. A native of Switzerland, he was a chauffeur for very special people. He ferried his exclusive clients between Switzerland and Lichtenstein, two nations that helped the wealthy to spirit their money away from their nation’s tax collectors and governments.
“I like the American motor homes! They have kitchens bigger than the one in my apartment in Basel! I will show my hosts how to make a proper schnitzel, that is if I can find the proper ingredients out here in the wild west of America. Perhaps I will use some of these Mexican chilies and spice the schnitzel in new ways.”
He strolled through the grocery store, choosing his ingredients carefully and asking questions. When he had what he needed, he completed his purchases and went back to his rental car. He drove carefully for ten miles until he reached a campground where motor homes were allowed and parked near a large touring model.
“Carly!” his host, a large woman in a hippie dress, yelled. “You bought the store out! What do you have there?”
“I have a wonderful surprise for you. I wish to thank you for your gracious hosting, I will prepare a fine dinner for everyone!” He entered the motor home, opened the refrigerator and took out a huge pile of neatly wrapped packages.
“But first, I must prepare this fresh lamb and horse meat we were given last night. Where does your friend find such beautiful fresh meat? I will tell you, it must always be sliced and pounded to just the right thickness for a proper schnitzel!”
To be continued...
Part II is here!
Part II is here!
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Retro Diary, Part VIII
This is a serial mystery thriller. Look for a new installment every Wednesday!
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, government agencies, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Ay resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living, undead, demonic or dead, is coincidental. Any governments, nations, government officials or government agencies are fictional constructs built by the author and they bear no relationship to the real thing.
Copyright ©2012 by Edith R Allen
All rights reserved
Visit Xenonlit Press Website at www.xenonlit.jimdo.com
Printed in the United States of America
The Seasonal Blender
Late Summer blended into Fall and the heat decreased as if someone took a foot off the celestial gas pedal. Halloween is the definitive San Francisco holiday and this one threatened to earn a place in history. Adults love to turn into something they are not and children can not wait to dive into gothic tales of horror and mystery.
San Francisco’s deceptively warm days lured the unwary into skimpy dress and afternoon naps at Fort Mason. Exhausted mothers took the little ones to the parks to wear them out before the evening’s sugar overload transformed them into uncontrollable and filthy maniacs.
Skiers and adventurers waited impatiently for the first rains and the promise of powdery slopes in the High Sierras. Powder would not show until November at the earliest. Apple Hill, chilly fall camping trips and long hikes down the coast were the better options. All was in stasis. Healing continued. Impatience ruled the day.
Franklin Marsh was mortified to know that he would be wearing a sling and his neck brace for long enough to look like a worker’s compensation faker. He felt like an eighty year old man with rips and tears in muscles that he once planned to use. He and Marissa took advantage of the disabled roster and turned their rooftop case into a raging war. The self-appointed aesthetic dictators of the San Francisco skyline suddenly found themselves up against a horde of union and non union laborers who needed jobs. Architects, designers, absentee building owners and anyone looking for tax breaks descended upon the city. Over 40 homeowners wanted the opportunity to expand, go eco-friendly and gentrify.
The environmentalists went wild. They took up the green banners and elevated them into the stratosphere of activism gone wild. Green groups demanded that every household should have something green going on. They exploited the situation with rallies, costumed madness and protests that turned whole neighborhoods into giant block parties and near riots.
San Francisco has only a twenty six square mile area to work with. Most of the working class either fled, were bought out or sold out to better living situations in the valley or across the bay. This left a San Francisco that was more like a prettier, much more livable form of Manhattan. Urban decay butted up next to closet-sized apartments that sold for half a million as “compact luxury living spaces.”
Marsh and Marsh was fat, happy and prosperous. The new hires were rational and sober. They had a wildly brilliant legal exuberance and more than one of them set legal precedent (and their careers) on new courses.
Marcia Landon plowed ahead with her “Friday Follies” program. She was at risk of becoming a public figure as opportunistic academics and politicians attempted to breach the walls. They failed to transform her lecture program into their self serving playgrounds. She called in the best firewall-builders she knew and had them send the same message many times: Painful consequences accrue to those who lie, cheat or publicize one’s way into the Friday Follies. The consequences for a few extremist idiots were so severe that their political careers were over before they even began.
She lined up her speakers for the full International Conference in late May, but she did not want to waste a minute preparing the unprepared and training the untrained.
She was rushing to her car without her security which was a rare event. Since she was so rarely alone or on a regular schedule, Marcia did not expect to encounter any trouble.
“Everything will settle down after Halloween. Then I will reignite the excitement in April. Damn, this place is huge. You could murder someone in here and no one would know it for a month.”
Her car was buried in an immense parking structure that stood next to the Institute for International Relations. She had given Daniel a chore to do, and just needed to dash to her car for a portfolio. She rushed around a corner, prepared to dive into her car. She sensed something wrong, glanced around and saw a very tall man approaching her.
“Don’t I know that guy? Isn’t that Franklin Marsh, the FBI agent who works with Kevin Ap-Rhys? What’s he doing here, looking at me?”
Franklin Marsh was thinking the same thing. “What is Kevin’s green eye woman doing here, looking at me? Is she lost... no.. she works here. That’s right. Let me, ahem, introduce myself. She is looking awfully vulnerable and she needs some security assistance.”
Franklin walked over to Marcia and said, “Aren’t you Marcia Landon? Do you work here or something?”
“Yes. I do the Friday Follies now. Aren’t you with the FBI? Are you moonlighting here?” She stared openly at Franklin’s bandages and bruises.
“And what did the other guy look like?” She laughed as a signal that she was not trying to be insulting.
“The other guy is dead. Yes I am assigned to set up the security program for the conference. And... I am a reserve FBI Agent and part-time SFPD Inspector.”
“That’s a big job! And now I remember. I’m so sorry you were injured in Taylor County. What is it with you and Kevin? I am so sorry I missed it when they brought you into UC Medical Center or I would have been there to help you! What happened?”
“A bad guy tried to kidnap me. That was a wrong move on his part because he was an amateur. I am a pro. We were amused and he was not.”
“Oh my. Wait. Aren’t you a partner with your sister, Marissa, at your law firm? Why are you doing..”
“How do you know about my law firm?” Franklin did not know if he was happy about that. Was she snooping on Kevin and Him. Wasn’t she part of a hacking investigation?
“Marissa does my patent and contracts work, Franklin! I’ve never met you, but we have talked about you and your adventures... at least whenever you tell her anything she can talk about. Good grief, we are connected up here. Kevin, me, you. Kevin has been my major crush since I was fifteen years old.”
That would not be the last time one of the three would be shocked about connections between people. In fact, the connections were destined to take on supernatural proportions. But that would happen years later.
“I know. It’s hard on our families and friends when we can’t talk about the details, but it’s better that way. I’m doing fine...”
“They walked and talked for ten minutes. Franklin helped Marcia into her car and he asked her out on Friday night. She turned him down with a mention that she and Kevin had some romance to resolve... if they could stop passing each other like runaway freight trains on parallel tracks.
“Did I just ask that green eye girl out? I must be crazy!” Franklin mused. He was not breathing right and was having something like a panic attack. He made his way to his car, got into the driver’s seat, pulled out his service weapon and...
Never Argue With A Green Eye Woman
Marcia Landon drove down three levels before she realized she needed to go back to her office. She parked in a new space and left her car. As she was walking to the parking structure elevator, she wondered at herself,
“Did I just refuse to go out with that Franklin when I am this close to... what? I have nothing with Kevin Ap-Rhys. That man knows where I am and has not asked about me. That’s it. I’m going out with Franklin. He is beautiful and he is a very nice brother.”
She turned a corner and saw a man sitting in a car. Something did not look right.
“Isn’t that Franklin? Why is he sitting there? Is he hurt after asking me out? How sad is he?” She was still walking when she saw something that gave her a chill at the top of her head and down her entire right side.
Franklin Marsh was sitting in his car with a gun in his mouth!
“Whoa! No thinking! Do something crazy!” Marcia thought. She dashed over to Franklin’s car and grabbed the passenger side door handle. The car was unlocked! She yanked the door open and slid into the passenger seat. She reached into her purse and pulled her own weapon. She poked the weapon into Franklin’s side and said,
“You do not want to get gut shot by me, because you will live, I assure you! You will have to wear diapers and colostomy bags and catheters and stuff, Franklin. So I propose that you safety your gun and toss it into the back seat where you can’t get at it. Then I will do the same with mine.”
“What, What? Are you crazy?” Franklin looked at her with awe.
“Hey!” She yelled, “I’m not the one with a gun in my mouth! You take that gun out of your mouth right now! Safety it and... and you toss it!”
Franklin complied with her demand and continued to stare at her in awe and wonder. She put her gun on safety and tossed it into the back seat with Franklin’s gun.
“Now, drive this car somewhere where we can eat and talk. I like Firenze at the Hotel Marrs.”
“You think I can afford Firenze?”
“You are a working girl! You can’t afford...”
“I’m good for the money, Agent Marsh,” she said those words in such a dry tone that he blinked a few times, kept his mouth shut and started the car. They rode in complete silence and did not speak again until they were seated and had ordered their food.
“Do you see everything in shades of gray, Franklin? Does anyone ever show up in full color?” She asked this question without preamble and it confused Franklin.
“Uhm.. I... well... you know? Yes. Yes! I never realized that.”
“I know about your wife and babies, Franklin. You know about me, don’t you? My case was a nasty one from the East Bay. You lost your babies and I will never have one without a lot of fuss. I didn’t see very much color either, Franklin.”
“Yes. I knew about you when you were a little girl, Marcia Landon in Berkeley. I never put it together until now! You are that same girl!”
“No. I am a very different human being than that girl was, Franklin. But I was like you. I only saw a few people, in color. The world did not fit me. But this isn’t my time and I cannot possibly understand how you are suffering worse than anything I can think of. You are afraid to commit to this world. You want to join them now and can’t wait for a natural death. Am I right?”
Her green eyes bore into him. He had stopped making eye contact and his face was clouded. Finally, he burst into tears and sobbed for a while.
“That’s right. Give up that manly-man bullshit. You just let it out. That is so good for you. We are very private here, so don’t worry. Just let it go and then we will talk. Then we will eat some food. Is that a plan?”
Franklin sobbed and nodded. She gave him a packet of Kleenex and waited. The waiter was new, probably another family member newly arrived from Italy’s Fruili region. He brought wine, water, a plate of antipasti, crusty bread and olive oil for dipping. The waiter gave no sign that he even recognized any drama at Ms. Landon’s table.
Marcia ate bread and sipped wine. She dipped some bread in olive oil, poured a glass for Franklin and said, “Open up. Eat, boy!” She poured some wine and made him drink. Franklin did not know what to make of it. He felt better than he had since September 11, 2001 when his wife and two babies were vaporized. Marcia displayed herself in brilliant Technicolor. She handed him things and took things from him. He felt the same way when Kevin handed him things and took things from him. But Kevin was out of commission and Franklin had been lost.
“Kevin is in color, too. And my Dad and Marissa.”
“Good. You have loves in your life. You have a good friend you care about. You picked the wrong girl, though, and we have to work that out.”
“Why? You don’t want to go out with me?”
“Well, I have been madly in love with Kevin for the longest time, Franklin. Unlike you, we are in a double-nerd situation. There, I’ve said it. This is a mess, because your Kevin is after me for heinous, but ill defined computer crimes that I never committed because they are impossible to commit. When you asked me out, I was angry and about to give up on him. Do you know I have had a crush on him and he’s been crushing on me since we were both fifteen years old?”
“When we were in high school, we first saw each other in some international student exchange videos. Everyone had crushes on everyone else, but Kevin and I... I don’t know.” She stopped talking and ate bread and antipasti. She kept feeding Franklin like an old Italian woman feeding a grandchild.
“We three belong together, Franklin. No... I am not a psychic, but I feel a spiritual conniption. We three need to be together. There is a reason why we are here and we can’t leave this plain of existence until our time is over.
But if Kevin would stop trying to cast me as his Irene Adler and would tell me he wants me, he would come first. He, you and I have something to do. We have something to do, Franklin and I don’t know what it is. I don’t even know when the time will come.”
“Diana Martin is your godmother, isn’t she?”
“Yes, is something going on with her?”
“Nothing that I know of. Look, I can step aside and find a woman, Marcia. I have a girlfriend back East, but I don’t know where that is headed...”
“No worry. You and Kevin and I need to be friends. We need to stick together. I know this sounds crazy, but we just had this romantic little interlude with guns and gut shooting for a reason. Why would you still want to go out with me?”
“Uhh... you’re not too smooth with the guys, are you?”
“Do I act like I have had the time in my lifetime to learn about being smooth with guys? No, dear. I am not Diana Martin, even though I love her to tears.”
“Well, you have a deal. May I suggest we do this one day at a time?”
“You have a deal. Blow your nose. I hear Mauricio coming. He brings food that is nowhere on that menu!”
“Who are you, lady?” He blew his nose and stared at her.
“Landon. Marcia Landon. I’m stirred, but not shaken.”
The Betrothal of Kevin and Marcia
Kevin Ap-Rhys watched late Summer turn into Fall before he finished two grueling rounds of surgery and took the first of a million steps to full recovery. He was losing hope, knowing that he faced least a year of painful physical therapy before he could return to his full athletic schedule or go on missions. Now he faced a dismal Halloween and a lonely Thanksgiving holiday. He refused to think about Christmas since he would not be able to travel to Cornwall to see the grannies. Who would be with him for his favorite roasts and puddings?
He did not get his girl and probably never would, now that Franklin Marsh had gotten there ahead of him. “Attempted suicide trumps a broken up body!” he muttered to himself. “That hurts me!”
Fortunately, he was wrong about his dismal holidays. By Halloween, he was able to walk with his arm in a sling and could stay out long enough for a meal and some socializing. As soon as she heard that her godson could go out, Diana Martin summoned him to a Halloween breakfast party at her condo and Marcia invited him to stay with her for the weekend. Diana’s party was to be an early morning feast, followed by her quick exit to New Orleans for some kind of celebrity bash.
Kevin stood in his marble clad, manly bathroom and checked his looks with grave disappointment.
“I look like a dead man! I’m all gray and pasty. I have lost muscle tone. I am thin. Don’t I have some tanning lights?” He yelled this at his butler and old family friend, Georges.
“Yes you do, Kevin. Here. You take your robe off and lie on this tanning bed. I will set the timer for a few minutes. Then turn over and I will repeat the process. You will be slightly more colorful at any rate.
“Thank you. Do I have something to wear that will not be agony?”
“Yes. Mrs. Martin sent you two costumes: a Botswana prince and a Roman Senator. I recommend the Botswana prince because you are one.”
“I will look like a pasty White fool in that. I will be the Roman Senator, please.”
“You are a Black man living in America, Sir Kevin. Botswana prince, it is. I cannot face Mrs. Martin’s wrath if you do not wear those robes. They are authentic.”
“Yes. I understand what it is to face the wrath of Diana. I give up.”
Two hours later, a slightly browner and still very unhappy Kevin was greeted by his godmother. She touched him, kissed him and made him smell like her signature gardenia perfume. She put lip prints on his face and forced him to sit in the parlor between her cousin, Olive and Olive’s daughter, Chelsea. The women looked like classic, blond haired, blue eyed southern belles who could eat a man alive, but they were beautiful, sweet, well groomed women who were used to turning heads and taking hearts. They had no effect on Kevin Ap-Rhys on that Halloween afternoon. He was begging God for mercy when he saw movement in the corner of his eye and stopped breathing.
Marcia Landon had just been through a heated argument with Dians and was being dragged into the room by her godmother. Diana shooed the cousins away and ordered Marcia to sit on his good side. Marcia was dressed like a fantasy princess, with beads and baubles on her head and flowing gowns that held a delightful surprise under them.
“There!” Diana yelled. “If you two don’t do something about each other, they will rescind my matchmaker’s license!” She spun around and yelled at her cousins. “Marcia has some wonderful people for you to meet at her party tonight, so forgive my rudeness!”
She bustled them into her large dining room, muttering, “I don’t know what’s wrong with them... everyone.. shoo! Leave these two to make up to each other before we eat...” She left her appalled, frozen godchildren behind and now they were alone with each other.
After several minutes, Marcia asked in an exaggerated southern accent,
“You are Botwsana boy! You! We have all heard about you since I was a baby! You are the boy with the horse! You have my godmother, too! Now what? Is you my man, now?”
“Apparently, we were betrothed when we were babies, Marcia. Yes, you are mine. I will take you and make you mine. I will rub you...”
“I will throw a leg over you and have you right now, G-Man.”
“Yeah, I got your G spo...” He stopped cold. “What are we doing? I have things to settle with you. You were not very nice to me when I asked...”
“You ordered my lawyer and me to your office like we were criminals! Then you looked at your watch! You looked at your watch! I was dragged out of the most important Friday Follies event of the year for...”
“When I tried to explain that it was Brendan, not me,” Kevin interrupted, “You insulted my ethnicity!”
“I only asked why a foreigner...”
“I am an African American citizen, you!”
“Yeah. I apologized, didn’t I... How was I supposed to know you were a brother from another continent?”
“SIGH,” Kevin said, rolling his fabulous grey eyes. A brief upturn of the corners of his mouth gave his joy away. Marcia was thrilled to see a brief flash of joy on that pain filled, tired face.
“Yep. You mah man. We had our fight already. How are you feeling? Are you high on premium prescription drugs?”
“Slightly. I feel fine, now that I has mah woman at mah side. Come here. Look up at me like Nancy Reagan did.”
“I’m not touching you and hurting your shoulder. Are you coming to my house? We’re all going for a drive, now that you’re sprung. Then we will come back to my house, have naps, have supper and party all night long.”
Kevin was horribly depressed, but could not tell Diana or Marcia about it. She was trying so hard that he had to conceal his broken heart. His horse, Kefilte was in San Francisco at the horse stables. He hated that his beloved animal was suffering, in a new place...”
“...the whole neighborhood is going to parade in the streets. We will all look ridiculous. You will stand out, but my Spear will keep the hussies at bay.”
“Who are you, anyway?”
“Oh... this is Queen Califiah, the legendary myth of your new homeland, California. She was the leader of a mythical tribe of Amazonian African women!”
“Does your house have a place for us to lie down and talk?”
“You have never seen my house? That’s odd. Yes, I have quiet places for us to lie down and talk. I also have Georges and Dr. Yap. It’s all arranged by Diana. You are all spending the night at my place. Is that alright with you?”
“Yes. I would like that. Now tell me, girl. Did you go out with Franklin after he tried to kill himself?”
“Aiiee!” After she squealed. Marcia looked at Kevin as if she had swallowed a whole slice of lemon. “Who are you? What are you?”
“Please. Answer my question.” His gray eyes were a little darker now. Marcia just wanted to fall into them, but she had seen that darker color before and it did not mean good attitudes.
“Yes. We had dinner at Firenze. He cried and we had a talk about you and him and me. I told him that I had a crush on you and must wear it out... find out that you are not a toffee nosed “get”...”
“It’s ‘Git’, Marcia, and I am not one of those,”
“... or something. You have failed repeatedly to be a toffee nosed git, so I am still crushing on you.”
“I see. Well, what shall we do with each other?”
“We shall be three friends and family we three. Lovers, Franklin and I? I don’t know. Right now, it is you and me. It is the KevMar one day at a time, Kevin.”
“I want you to be mine.”
“You have that, Kevin. You are a good man and a fine man. But we are the only two people in the world who Franklin can see in color. He is halfway into the next world and half alive in this one. He tries to get to his wife and babies, Kevin. It will take both of us to drag him back here to live out his life. It might not make any sense right now, but we can do this. We can.”
Kevin gazed at her for several moments. He had lips as full as hers and his hair was growing longer. He would have a mass of honey blond knaps and curls.
“I will stop making mistakes with you, Marcia. We were passing each other by and life does not guarantee us any more chances. You are mine. I am yours.”
“We will have rules. We will follow them. This will be resolved before our thirty-fourth birthdays. You and Franklin will have your babies or else. You will not hang in limbo with me. You know I can’t have babies and I know that Franklin will be whole again. You, however, are mine and I am yours now and always.”
“You are too much for me. Do you just make this stuff up?”
“No. Life makes this stuff up. I just live through it and I take people along with me for the ride, Sir Kevin.”
“I cannot argue with that. Give us a kiss?”
They kissed their first real kiss ever, a man and a woman from different sides of the world who were betrothed when they were babies and lovers since they were teenagers.
While Marcia and Kevin were on the road to her surprise destination, Diana Martin was en route to New Orleans with Billy Mantoin. They talked openly too, about demonic rituals and hedonistic pleasures they would enjoy later that night. Diana talked about poisoning the water in a distant city.
Billy talked about the explosions that would erupt throughout the middle east, “In the darkest shank of night, the witching hour, ha!”
“How are you feeling? Better?” Diana cooed.
“I am in a much better mood these days, my love. I have forgotten about Percival Windsor and his botched money laundering operation. I no longer miss my favorite lawyer. He was such a good friend since our Oxford days. And now, I will be with you. I will not be required to suffer through another ridiculous costume party with my wife. I despise her so much I could pop her head like a grape. I would laugh to see her eyes fall out!”
“I think we’ll be seeing something like that tonight!” Diana giggled.
“Oh, who knows what the Count has in store for us. Do you remember how he skinned that couple alive on New Years Eve?”
“Oh yes! Percival taught him to do it. Oh, Billy, this will be the best Halloween ever!”
“Yes it will, my love. Yes it will.” Billy was thinking about the centerpiece, a live woman in the cargo hold. He would tie his lust for retribution together with entertainment in a mot horrible way.
Comparative Positions, Part II
While Kevin and Marcia were on their drive and Billy and Diana were en route to New Orleans, Franklin Marsh was making love to his girlfriend in Kansas City, Missouri. After a climax that frightened both of them, Franklin said, “Do you know what this means?”
“What does it mean, Franklin? You tell me. That last one scared me!”
“It means that we are really lovers now. You are mine and I shall possess you to the end of time, Mwahahaha!”
“Not the Vampire, please! I can’t breathe yet! We must get ready for the party, you know. My gown takes an hour to be sewn onto me! I could kill Maria, with her big idea of a Medieval feast! I made it loose so I can pig out!”
“Oh I love your family’s Italian Mafia extravaganzas. I know exactly what will happen. We will eat for six hours before cousin Vicente will start a fight with cousin Leonardo over that last construction job...”
“Stop! Those two made up yesterday. They usually take a week to start fighting again!”
“How did a Mafia princess end up with the FBI?”
“They needed an inside woman.”
“Come here and give me one more kiss, sweet girl. Then you can do my vampire makeup. If I hear one person call me ‘Count Chocula’... well...”
“Not with your size, Franklin. No one would dare...”
“Yes, you like my size?” He grabbed her up and held her close.
“Oh, you get no more, you!”
She and Franklin would be lovers for four years before a monstrous murder would change their lives forever. They would reform, be redeemed and form an army. Franklin would see all of the world and all of its peoples in color again.
“Marcia, where are we? This is a beautiful ranch. It has stables and a paddock. Who’s horse is that... is that your horse? You know I am looking for a ranch. My horse, Kefilte is here in America. He is languishing...”
“Shhh. Kevin! Look! Do you see him? He’s with your good friend... Withell is it?”
Suddenly, Kevin was sobbing into his hands. This was not the way it was supposed to go! It was too much for him. Marcia was about to start sobbing too. She had been up since 4 a.m., working with the bakers and fretting about the long day and night that lay ahead of her.
She took his good arm and held his hand. “You go ahead and cry, Kevin. You were worried, not being able to see him. Now you can come here every day if you like. The house is beautiful and you can stay over anytime you want to.”
Still hitching and snuffling, Kevin said, “I just never expected this, Marcia!”
“Diana and William did this, Kevin. I just happened to have this ranch. I want to grow my food here. I offered to have the stables and house done up and it was done. Your second, Andrew, did the security and Withell sent information about the stables...”
“You are all too much. This is all too much.”
“Well, I am still your social worker and you and I are family now, Botswana Boy and God brother and boyfriend. Now, Let’s get you out of this car so you can see your friends. We’ll have lunch here. Then we can all have naps before we go back to the city. I am serious about our naps because this will go on all night.
The Taylor County Sheriff lost both his parents in peaceful passing in October. He inherited their property and got his high tech surveillance system. He did not have to pay a dime or deal with the DEA, either. Franklin Marsh supervised the arrangement because he did not trust anyone.
The Blue Lagoon went out of business, not because of the Lumberyard Killer’s mad night on the town, but because the owner was running poker games in the back room. The poker games proved to be a huge business, with major players from Los Angeles and San Francisco. A single game could bring in $5 million. The owner, a former casino manager from Las Vegas, fled the jurisdiction and was believed to be living in the Caribbean. He had enough money stashed away to live in style for the rest of his life.
Barbara Bain reconciled with her husband and never strayed again. She and her husband moved to her hometown of London and she went into government service.
Honey Barton was in jail without bond. She faced so many murder and conspiracy charges that no one expected her to get out of jail in her lifetime. Her extended family went through stages of shock, disbelief, rage at the system and finally, rage at Honey Barton. She had no one to stand up for her until her fan base developed.
Money started coming in from all corners of the country until Honey had enough to bail herself out and get a high powered attorney. That is where she went wrong. Three days after her release, she disappeared from her home. Despite the most intensive man... or woman hunt in state history, she was never seen again.
Honey’s last day on Earth started out when she was kidnapped from the parking lot of a pharmacy in Taylor City. It got worse when she spent hours hogtied and in the cargo hold of a jet. It all became hideously insufferable when she spent hours dying for the entertainment of a very special audience.
The most painful part was hearing laughter and applause while her tormenter took her apart, slowly, and piece-by-piece.
Late June, 2012
Don Padre looked like an Italian Prince as he stood on the vast balcony and gazed over the hills of Rome. He was resplendent in Black tie and tuxedo of exquisite Venetian tailoring. His striped pants broke over patent leather shoes so fine they had to be handmade. He raised a tiny glass of Amaretto to his lips and took a light sip.
“It is not that the children were married here today, it is the cleared path that lies ahead of them,” he whispered. “It is not that two more children were married last month, it is the cleared path that lies ahead of them.”
“What a fine day, eh?” The Jesuit had quietly approached after giving Don Padre his time alone. “I heard your words, and they are fine words for a day like this one.”
“Did you ever think that we would ever be in this place, for this reason?”
“I had my doubts on many occasions, Don Padre!” The Jesuit laughed.
“They were young lovers who flew on damaged wings.”
“Then they were given unexpected gifts that could easily have wound up in the trash!”
They both laughed at the events of the previous months.
“They have embarked on a path to redemption and reconciliation.”
“They will face an enemy who may destroy them.”
“When they started all of this, they seemed so determined to... how do they say it?”
“Yes! They seemed determined to self destruct just as they were fighting to make their lives solid and whole. What a journey these children have taken.”
“But this is so much better than that dreadful afternoon in Colma when we attempted to right wrongs by doing even more wrong. I can’t believe how far we have all come.”
“I can’t believe how far we have to go.”
“Yes, we have a hard and terrible journey ahead of us, a journey that seems to have no visible end.”
“There will be an end. Nothing is forever but eternity. Now let us celebrate this brief time of rest and joy, Father. Have some Amaretto so fine there is only one bottle left in the world!”
They laughed, sipped their Amaretto, and enjoyed the golden sunlight.
The Retro Diary Wednesday Mysteries
A New short mystery every Wednesday