Favorites from Edna’s Kitchen


With the Holidays in full swing here are some of Edna’s favorite recipes.

Hot Buttered Rum

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 cup whipping (heavy) cream
2 cups powdered sugar
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Have ready at serving time
2 Tablespoons rum
½ cup boiling water
Ground nutmeg

Beat butter and brown sugar in medium bowl with electric mixer on medium speed about 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.
Beat in whipping cream and powdered sugar alternately on low speed until smooth. Stir in cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Use immediately, or spoon into 1-quart freezer container.
Cover, label and freeze up to 3 months.
For each serving, place rum and 2 tablespoons Hot Buttered Rum Batter in mug.
Stir in boiling water.
Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Snickerdoodle Blondies

¾ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
cinnamon-sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 9-x-13” pan with cooking spray or butter.
Combine butter and sugars mix until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and stir until combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, cinnamon and baking powder. Add to wet ingredients and beat until combined. Transfer batter to pan. Sprinkle top with cinnamon-sugar.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing into squares.

Cranberry Nut Bread

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup orange juice
1 Tablespoon grated orange peel
2 Tablespoons shortening
1 egg, well beaten
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in orange juice, orange peel, shortening and egg.
Mix until well blended. Stir in cranberries and nuts.
Spread evenly in loaf pan.

Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes.
Remove from pan; cool completely.
Wrap and store overnight.
Makes 1 loaf (16 slices).

Peppermint Chiffon Cake

2 ½ cups cake flour
1 ½ cups white sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup vegetable oil
7 eggs
½ cup water
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 ½ teaspoons peppermint extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
15 drops red food coloring

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Separate the eggs.

Sift the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
Make a well in the center and add the oil, egg yolks, water, peppermint extract and vanilla extract. Beat with mixer on low for 1 minute.

Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture.

Pour 1/3 of the batter into a separate bowl and tint with the food coloring.

Alternate large spoonfuls of red and plain batter into an ungreased tube or bundt pan. Run a knife or spatula through the batter to make a swirled effect.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 55 minutes. Increase heat to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until done.
Let cake cool in pan on rack.
Once cool remove from pan and frost, if desired.

Sweet Potato Spice Bread

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon each ground cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 egg
⅓ cup mashed sweet potato
⅓ cup honey
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons molasses
⅓ cup chopped walnuts

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, spices and salt. In another small bowl, whisk the egg, sweet potato, honey, oil and molasses. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in walnuts.
Transfer to two 5-3/4x3x2-in. loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 325° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Yield: 2 mini loaves (6 slices each).

Bacon Beer Cheese Soup

½ lb. bacon
1 large onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
8 oz. lager
3 cups shredded cheddar
kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Bread, for serving
In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp, 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to let drain, then crumble.
Heat skillet with bacon fat over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft, 6 minutes, then add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add flour and whisk until golden, 3 minutes, then add broth, milk, and beer and let simmer, 15 minutes.
Add cheese and stir until melted. Season generously with salt and pepper, then stir in most of the crumbled bacon.
Ladle soup into bowls and top with remaining bacon. Serve warm with bread.

Sour Cream-Honey Fruit Salad

½ cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon orange juice
4 medium oranges, peeled and sectioned
3 medium bananas, sliced
1 cup strawberries, cut in half
1 cup seedless green grapes, cut in half

In large bowl, mix sour cream, honey and orange juice until smooth.
Add oranges, bananas, strawberries and grapes. Toss gently to mix.

Monkey Bread Minis

½ cup butter or margarine, melted
½ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cans (7.5 oz each) refrigerated biscuits

Grease or spray 12 regular-size muffin cups. Mix butter and brown sugar. Spoon 1 tablespoon mixture into each muffin cup.
Mix granulated sugar and cinnamon in 1-gallon bag. Separate dough into 20 biscuits. Cut each in 6 pieces. Shake pieces in bag to coat. Place 10 pieces in each muffin cup.
Bake at 350°F for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool 1 minute; turn upside down. Serve warm.

Tomato-Fennel Soup

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
2 medium bulbs fresh fennel, chopped (3 cups)
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 can (28 oz) whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
1 ¾ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (from 32-oz carton) or 1 can (14 oz) vegetable broth
¼ teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea salt)
⅛ teaspoon pepper

In 4-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Cook fennel, onion and garlic in oil about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender. Stir in tomatoes, broth, salt and pepper, breaking up tomatoes with spoon. Heat to boiling.
Reduce heat. Cover; simmer 20 to 25 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
Carefully pour half of the mixture into blender. Cover; blend on high speed about 30 seconds or until smooth. Return to saucepan. Repeat with remaining mixture. Keep warm over low heat until serving.

Serve this soup topped with a handful of herb-flavored croutons and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Zesty Zucchini Corn Cakes

1 cup grated zucchini
½ cup frozen corn (from 12-oz bag), thawed
¼ cup chopped onion
1 egg
1 cup Original Bisquick™ mix
1 tablespoon milk
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
Vegetable oil for cooking, if desired
⅓ cup sour cream
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
Fresh basil sprigs, if desired

In large bowl, stir together zucchini, corn, onion, egg, Bisquick mix, milk, salt and pepper.
Grease griddle or skillet with oil, or use nonstick griddle; heat over medium heat (350°F). For each corn cake, pour 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle. Cook until golden brown on both sides.
Serve corn cakes topped with sour cream and tomatoes. Garnish with basil.

Make them cheesy. add ¼ cup shredded sharp Cheddar or Parmesan cheese to the batter. Just make sure your griddle is well greased to keep the cheese from sticking while the corn cakes cook.
These corn cakes freeze well. Cool and place in resealable freezer plastic bag; seal bag and freeze up to 1 month. Reheat in the microwave on High 1 to 2 minutes.

Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers

4 large red or yellow bell peppers (about ½ lb each)
1 lb lean (at least 93%) ground turkey
1 Tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup organic roasted garlic pasta sauce (from 25.5 oz jar)
¾ cup chickpeas, drained, rinsed (from 15 oz can)
1 jar (6 oz) artichoke hearts, marinated, drained, chopped (about ⅔ cup)
¾ cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella cheese (3 oz)
1 package (4 oz) feta cheese crumbles (¾ cup)
2 cups chopped plum (Roma) tomatoes (4 medium)
⅓ cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Heat oven to 425°F. Line 15x10x1-inch pan with cooking parchment paper. Cut each bell pepper in half vertically, leaving stem intact, remove seeds and membranes. In 5 to 6 quart Dutch oven, heat 3 quarts water to boiling. Add bell peppers to boiling water, making sure water covers peppers. Cook 2 minutes, drain. Place peppers cut side up in pan.
In 10 inch nonstick skillet, cook turkey, garlic, Italian seasoning, ½ teaspoon of the salt and the pepper. Cook over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, breaking up turkey, until turkey is no longer pink, drain.
Transfer turkey mixture to medium bowl, stir in pasta sauce, chickpeas and artichoke hearts. Stir in mozzarella cheese and ½ cup of the feta cheese.
Divide turkey mixture evenly among bell peppers in pan (peppers will be full). Spray one side of foil with cooking spray, cover with foil, sprayed side down. Bake 32 to 37 minutes or until bell peppers are tender and filling is hot.
In small bowl, mix tomatoes, basil and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Top cooked bell peppers with tomato mixture and remaining ¼ cup feta cheese before serving.

Sheet-Pan Honey-Balsamic Pork Chop Dinner

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 inch pieces (about 4 cups)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ lb fresh broccoli florets (about 4 cups)
4 boneless pork chops (about ¾ inch thick)
3 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Heat oven to 425°F. Spray 18×13-inch rimmed sheet pan with cooking spray.
In large bowl, mix sweet potatoes, 1 Tablespoon of the oil, ½ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper. Stir to coat. Place on pan. Bake 25 minutes.
In same bowl, mix broccoli, remaining 1 Tablespoon oil and ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Remove pan from oven, stir or turn potatoes, and arrange broccoli on pan with potatoes. Bake 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, season pork chops with remaining ½ teaspoon salt and remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper.
In small bowl, mix honey, mustard and vinegar. Reserve 2 Tablespoons of the honey glaze.
Remove pan from oven, add pork chops to pan. Brush pork chops with remaining honey glaze. Roast 18 to 22 minutes or until pork is no longer pink and meat thermometer inserted in center reads at least 145°F, and vegetables are browned and tender.
Spoon reserved 2 Tablespoons honey glaze on pork chops. Serve pork chops with vegetables.
Make sure to use the red-skinned, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes for this recipe.
We suggest using boneless, ¾ inch pork chops, which is what we based our cook time on, but if your chops are thicker or thinner, you’ll need to adjust the cooking time. Using a meat thermometer helps to take the guesswork out of determining when your pork chops are done.

Creamy Cranberry Salad

2 cups cranberries, ground in blender
1 cup sugar
2-3 cups mini marshmallows
1 pint of whipping cream, whipped
20 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained

Add sugar to ground cranberries in blender and blend together. Add to the whipped cream and stir until well combined. Fold in the marshmallows and crushed pineapple and serve or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup chopped pecans
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Coffee Cake
3 cups all-purpose or whole wheat flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
¾ cup butter or margarine, softened
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs
1 ½ cups sour cream

Light Brown Glaze
¼ cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

1 Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease 12-cup fluted tube cake pan or 10-inch angel food (tube) cake pan.
2 In small bowl, mix all Filling ingredients; set aside.
3 In medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In large bowl, beat granulated sugar, ¾ cup butter, 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla and the eggs with electric mixer on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in flour mixture alternately with sour cream on low speed.
4 Spread ⅓ of the batter (about 2 cups) in pan; sprinkle with ⅓ of the Filling (about 6 tablespoons). Repeat twice.
5 Bake about 1 hour or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool 10 minutes.
6 Meanwhile, in 1 ½ quart saucepan, heat ¼ cup butter over medium heat until very light brown; remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until glaze is smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle cake with glaze.

You can find more recipes from Edna’s Kitchen here:

Detective Stories -Complete


Dark Corners
Summer Solstice
Mr. Jones
Room 14
Following Fireweed
Ginger and Spice
Autumn Equinox
Seasons of Change

Dark Corners

It was a warm windy day in early April, Detective James Andrews entered the downtown police precinct.
“Message for you,” the desk attendant said holding up a pink slip of paper.
“Thanks,” Detective Andrews said as he snatched the paper from the attendant and continued on to his desk.

Anonymous female caller reporting a death at the Cornerstone Estate off of Route 22. Deceased is Mrs. Emily Scott. Husband Mr. Donald Henderson.

Detective Andrews grabbed a cup of coffee with two sugars, a splash of cream, his notepad and a new black ballpoint pen. As he headed out to his car the desk attendant said.
“No rest for the wicked,” James flipped him off as he left the precinct.

It was a long drive out to Cornerstone, James switched on the radio, soft jazz played as he rolled down the window. The warm April breeze felt good, this winter had been fridged and unforgiving. He turned onto the driveway of the Cornerstone Estate and slowly made his way up to the two story farmhouse.

“Not sure why anyone would want to live this far out from civilization,” he mumbled to himself as he parked in front of the house.

“What do we have?” Detective Andrews asked the responding officer as he walked up the to the porch.
“Good Morning Sir, female 23, 5’6” red hair, green eyes identified as Emily Scott found deceased early this morning by her husband Donald Henderson,”

“Where was she found?” Detective Andrews asked.
“In the living room, she had sprained her ankle recently while out riding and was set up with a roll-away bed,”

They entered the living room making there way over to the roll-away bed that had been set up in the far corner next to the windows. James looked over Emily’s body, she was laying on the bed covered with a blanket. She could have been sleeping, except that her eyes were open and her lips had a slight blue color to them.

“And where is the husband now?” Detective Andrews asked as he closed Emily’s eyes.
“In the kitchen Sir,”

“Mr. Henderson, can you tell me about your wife Emily?” Detective Andrews asked as he took a seat across from Donald at the kitchen table.
“Emily was my heart, she loved this house, and to go riding, she was riding a stallion named Foxtail about two weeks ago when she was thrown, and sprained her ankle, which is why she was sleeping in the living room,” Donald answered.

“Was Emily depressed?”
“She was getting restless being stuck in bed while her ankle healed, but I don’t think she was depressed, her friend from college had been visiting and stayed to help out while she recovered,”
“Does this friend have a name and where abouts?”

“Laura White and she’s upstairs in the guest bedroom, she was very upset by Emily’s passing,” Donald answered.

Knock, knock.
“Miss White, Laura, my name is Detective Andrews may I speak with you for a moment about Emily?”
The door clicked.

Laura opened the door and let Detective Andrews into the guest bedroom.
“Thank you,” he said as he took a seat next to the bed.
Laura sat on the bed next to the nightstand and lit a cigarette, she took a deep drag before speaking.

“So what do you want to know?” she asked.
“How well did you know Emily?” Detective Andrews asked taking out his notepad and pen.

“Well, we were friends, we met at college, we both played for the women’s tennis team, and we shared an apartment towards the end of school,” she answered as she took another drag.
“Why did you come to visit Emily?”

“Because my ex-boyfriend is an asshole and I didn’t have anywhere else to go,” she said smashing her cigarette into the ashtray.

“How was Emily’s mood the last time you talked to her?”
“She seemed fine, maybe a little annoyed by how long it was taking her ankle to heal, I bought her breakfast that she ate, then I had to go run some errands, she was sleeping when I got back so I didn’t disturb her,”

“Thank you for your time Laura,” Detective Andrews said as he made his way towards the door.

Detective Andrews returned to the living room to look over Emily’s area. He looked through the side table that was closest to the bed, he found a red book with a gold rose embossed in the corner on the cover.

He thumbed through the book, it was full of journal entries written by Emily.
“Curious, hey come photograph this as evidence,” he asked the crime scene worker. He slipped it into an evidence envelope and took it with him.

James poured himself a Scotch and sat in his easychair.
“Ok, Emily lets see what you have to say,” he opened her journal and read.

September 7th
Oh my God…I have met the perfect guy. So cute and funny. He’s my TA for Economics 412 I asked him if anyone called him Don and he said no. He will be an interesting one to get to know.

James sipped on his Scotch and thumbed through a few more pages.

December 22nd
Taking Donald home for Christmas to meet mom and dad. Hope it goes well, I really, really like him.

June 15th
Yay! Wedding Day! I can’t believe it’s finally here.

June 20th
I love my dad so much he gave me Cornerstone, to have as my very own. I hope Donald loves it as much as I do.

July 6th
I am so happy, although Mrs. Newcome took forever to do the walk through at Cornerstone. But she’s mine and I am so ready to get to run the house and ride the horses.

James finished off his drink and poured another. He flipped further on into Emily’s journal.

March 5th
So Laura White called out of the blue, giving me a sob story about her and Mitch. We have room and I don’t mind her staying for a little while.

March 8th
Fuck, Dr. Edwards says my ankle isn’t broken just severely sprained. Can’t believe I am stuck downstairs in the living room. At least Laura is helpful.

March 22nd
I don’t know what Donald’s problem is, I am the one that can’t do anything. He’s spending a lot of time with Laura and I am starting to feel a little left out of the loop.

March 27th
Who the hell does she think she is, this is my house. I knew I had heard something the other night. I carefully hobbled into the downstairs bathroom and I heard her. I heard her with him through the air vent.

“Well that’s what we call motive,” James said as he finished off his second Scotch.

Detective Andrews was sitting at his desk when he was handed a large envelope.
“What’s this?”

“Your background checks on Donald Henderson, Laura White and Emily Scott, as well as the autopsy results on Mrs. Scott”
“Thanks,” James said and opened the envelope.

He flipped through the pages looking for anything that stood out. He read over the background checks and through the autopsy report.

“Wait a minute, St. Anthony’s orphanage for lost children, gotcha,” he gathered the papers and headed out.

Detective Andrews knocked on the door of the farmhouse on the Cornerstone estate.
“Yes?” Donald answered the door.
“Is Laura here?” James asked as he entered the house.
“Yes, she’s in the kitchen,”

Detective Andrews made his way to the kitchen with Donald on his heels.
“What’s this all about?” Donald asked.
“First and only chance to tell the truth Laura,”
Laura turned around from the sink.

“What?” she said looking at Donald and James.
“Have a seat Laura,”
She sat at the kitchen table.

“Would you like to tell me about St. Anthony’s?” Detective Andrews asked.
“Can I have a cigarette?”
“Sure, have a seat Mr. Henderson this concerns you to,”
Laura lit up and took a drag.

“What about it?” she asked.
“Did you know Donald at the orphanage?”
“Did he promise you something, for getting rid of Emily?”

“Now wait a minute, don’t say anything Laura,” Donald said as he stood up.
“Sit down Mr. Henderson, or officer Roberts here will help you sit down,” James motioned towards the doorway where two uniformed officers were standing. Donald took a seat.

“Laura, did Donald promise you something?” James repeated his question.
Laura’s hands shook as she tried to take another drag. She put the cigarette out and cleared her throat.

“Yes, he promised me a life with him, if I killed Emily,”
“How did you do it?” James asked.

“I crushed up her Valium and mixed it into her oatmeal, when she was sleeping I covered her mouth and nose, she struggled then she just stopped,”

“You do understand that you will be arrested for first degree murder,” James said.
Laura nodded.

Tuesday Dinner

“Really, meatloaf again?” Henry said as he sat down at the table.
Ruth smiled, poured him a glass of milk and sat down to enjoy her dinner. Henry took three bites, and tossed his fork on to his plate.
“You know what Ruth? I’m done, I’m done with your dried out meatloaf and with you,” Henry declared as he got up and retrieved a large manila envelope from his briefcase. He handed Ruth the envelope.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“Divorce papers, I will pick up my stuff on Thursday,”
“Where are you going to stay?” she asked
“I’m moving in with my girlfriend, Trixie,” he stated as he grabbed his coat and left.

“Well fuck me,” Ruth said to the empty room as she got up, got a wine glass and the bottle of red from the fridge. She sat at the table, poured a glass, and finished her dinner.

After finished off the bottle of red and reading the divorce papers over and over again, Ruth passed out on the couch in the living room.

Wednesday Morning

Ruth woke up with a stiff neck and a screaming headache. She didn’t drink to often and polishing off the bottle of wine did her in. Stumbling into the bathroom and finding the shower Ruth stood in the water evaluating her life with Henry.

After college Ruth started volunteering for St. Anthony’s hot lunch program, she enjoyed being a part of her community and had majored in Culinary Arts along with a minor in Social Work. When she started Brenda Pierce was the coordinator of the lunch program, she helped Ruth learn the ropes of using the budget responsibly along with the donated non-perishables to make up monthly menus. As well as how to manage the volunteers, St. Anthony’s served hot lunch four days a week and a bagged lunch on Fridays, open to anyone in the community. Ruth enjoyed helping with and then running the program when Brenda moved on.

It had been about six months in to Ruth’s time at St. Anthony’s when Brenda suggested that Ruth should meet her cousin Henry. He was in banking and had just taken a manager position at First City Bank and Trust. Ruth hesitated at being set up with someone at first, but Brenda’s insisting finally got her to agree to one dinner in public. The evening of the set up Ruth dressed nicely, but kept it casual, in a blue top and black slacks. She left her dirty blonde, shoulder length hair down, adorned with a single blue rose clip on one side.

Promptly at six Henry knocked on the door to her modest one bedroom apartment. He was dressed in a white button down shirt and a pair of black dress pants. They had dinner at a retro 50’s dinner downtown, it’s decor popped with a paisley blue and pink coloring accented in black stripping. After being seated Henry ordered a steak medium rare with all the fixings and Ruth had a Cobb Salad with thousand island dressing on the side and a cup of Clam Chowder. They ate and made small talk about life goals, family and the future. Although Ruth was distracted by the rareness of Henry’s steak, not sure how anyone could eat such a bloody piece of meat. She enjoyed a good steak just didn’t care for it to be oozing so much redness.

The next morning Brenda asked for details of the ‘date’ Ruth said that it was nice, he was cute and yes maybe she would see him again.

Ruth stepped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around herself, she wiped the mirror off and looked at herself. If he can move on then so can I… And what kind of a name is Trixie?

Ruth and Henry dated for the next year and shortly after her 23rd birthday she married Henry Pierce, her only stipulation was that she would keep her maiden name of Davis. Because she just didn’t like how Ruth Pierce sounded, Henry agreed and they had a small wedding of family and friends. She enjoyed married life, they got along, had friends went out every other weekend and had a nice home just outside of town.

As Ruth got dressed to go in to work she did reflect back on the last year and how Henry may have become more distance than before. They went out less and he worked more, last time they went out to dinner was her 30th birthday which was well over four months ago. When did we even have sex last… Considering that she couldn’t recall the last time, maybe their marriage had slipped away without her noticing.

Thursday Evening

Henry pulled the old Samsonite suitcases out of the back of the walk in closet and started to pack up his belongings. Ruth stood in the doorway of the master bedroom sipping on her third glass of wine.
“So how’s Trix?” she asked.
Henry slightly caught off guard by her tone stopped folding the clothes and looked over at her.
“She’s fine, she’s is young, active, fit, beautiful and makes me happy,” he answered.
“Well then, what does she do, besides make you happy?”
“She’s an exotic dancer out at The Royal Flesh, if you must know,”
“She’s a stripper?” Ruth about choked on her wine.
“I need the divorce papers signed by Monday,” he said as he finished packing up and got ready to leave. He set his house keys on the kitchen counter on his way out.

Saturday Night

Ruth entered the warm musty smelling club, not quite knowing why she wanted to get a look at this Trixie person. A petite fit looking woman with short red hair rushed by her carrying a tray of drinks.
“I’ll be with you in a moment, take a seat anywhere,”
Ruth chose a table that faced the main stage.
“Hey sweetie, my name is Jade, what can I get for you?”
“A white wine, and is Trixie here tonight?” Ruth asked.
“She sure is, should be on stage in a bit,”
Ruth sipped on her wine while she surveyed the crowd of people. She took note of the guy with the tattoo on his forearm talking to a redhead, and a tall skinny guy in need of a haircut talking to the bartender. The announcer came on.
“Please welcome to the main stage our naughty school girl, Trixie,”
Ruth watched the tall slender woman with long raven black hair, twirl herself around the pole. She was dressed in a short schoolgirl plaid skirt and an unbuttoned white blouse. She danced around the stage losing the shirt and then the skirt, leaving her in a dark blue g-string and bra.
“Can I get you anything else?” Jade asked as she passed by Ruth’s table.
“Do you have a champagne room?”
“Actually, we do, it’s cash only one hundred dollars a bottle, who would you like to drink with?”
“Her,” Ruth pointed to the main stage where Trixie was finishing up her act.
“I will set that up for you, give me a minute,”

Trixie dressed in her schoolgirl uniform and carrying a bottle of champagne approached Ruth’s table.
“You asked for a bottle?” she said holding the bottle up.
“Yes, I did.”
“This way please,”
Trixie led Ruth towards the back of the main stage and turned down a hallway, she opened the door to a room lit by a red glow.
“Have a seat,” Trixie pointed towards a couch in the corner as she closed the door behind them. Ruth took a seat while Trixie popped open the champagne and turned on some soft music.
“Here you go,” she handed Ruth a glass of the champagne.
Trixie swayed back and forth in front of Ruth, running her hands through her long dark hair.
“So sweetie, what do you like,” Trixie asked.
Ruth took a sip of the champagne, setting it down on the side table.
“I like you,” she said moving forward and running her hands up the outside of Trixie’s bare legs.
Trixie smiled at Ruth, leaned down and kissed her gently on the lips. Trixie straddled Ruth’s lap moving back and forth against her. Ruth opened Trixie’s blouse and caressed her breasts, Trixie leaned back and let out a moan.
“So how far can we take it in here?” Ruth asked kissing Trixie’s neck.
“Not nearly far enough,” she answered sliding her hand in between Ruth’s legs.
“There’s a Westside motel off of route 21, meet me there in an hour,” Ruth said.
“Sure,” Trixie agreed kissing Ruth deeply before leaving the champagne room.
As Ruth was leaving The Royal Flesh she watched Trixie having a heated discussion with the guy that was in need of a haircut at the bar.

Monday Morning

Henry knocked on the door of what use to be their house promptly at eight.
“Here you go,” Ruth handed him the manila envelope.
“Thanks,” Henry was slightly taken aback by her abruptness.
“No time for a coffee?” he asked.
“Why not, for old times sake,”

They sat at the kitchen table sipping their coffees.
“So, how’s the new life going?” she asked.
“It’s fine,”
“Really, no red flags going up about anything,”
“Why are you being cryptic?”
“Do you even know her?”
“I’m getting to know her,”
“Just don’t do anything stupid,”
“Don’t marry her, you can play house with her and you can fuck her, just don’t marry her,”

Tuesday Night

“Hey, Jade can you give this to Trixie when she comes in?” Ruth handed Jade a plane white envelope with a single blue rose embossed in the corner.
“Sure, I don’t think she’s in till after 8 though,”
“That’s fine, thanks,” Ruth left The Royal Flesh.

Ruth was waiting in room 14 at the Westside Motel, at a quarter to one there was a knock on the door. She answered it.
“Come in, come in, thanks for coming,” Ruth kissed Trixie on the cheek as she entered the room. Ruth closed the door, and wrapped her arms around Trixie kissing her deeply.
“I made cupcakes, would you like one,”
Ruth handed her one, it’s chocolate with a buttercream frosting. Trixie took a bite.
“Mmm…it’s good,” Trixie said while trying not to get crumbs all over. Ruth smiled at her.

Trixie felt a strange warmth wash over her, she tried to swallow and found that her lips and tongue were swelling up.

“What the..” she tired to say as she became light headed and fell to the floor.


Detective James Andrews stood in the doorway of room 14 at the Westside Motel.
“What do we have on this fine autumn day?” he asked sipping on his coffee.

“Deceased woman identified by her license as Beatrix Holiday, 25, of 452 West Ridge Dr. apartment #3 Overland, apparent cause of death was anaphylactic shock due to the peanut butter frosting on the cupcake, Sir,” the responding officer stated.

Detective Andrews stepped into the room and looked over the body.
“Was she registered to this room?”
“No, the room was paid for in cash by a Laura Hunt,”
Detective Andrews laughed to himself.
“It’s a fictitious name from a movie,” he answered.
“Let’s dust the room and see if there is any security footage available,”

~ ~ ~ ~

It had been a week since Beatrix Holiday’s body had been found at the Westside Motel, and Detective Andrews was no closer to an answer as to why she was there and exactly what had happened.
“Sir, forensics report on the Holiday case, ” Officer Roberts handed him the file.
“Thanks,” James thumbed through the report.

Cause of death anaphylactic shock caused by a trace amount of peanut butter found in the butter cream icing. Four individuals prints found in room 14, Beatrix Holiday, Jade Matthews, Shane Henderson, Ruth Davis.

He looked over the security photos from Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, one car was parked in front of room 14 on Tuesday night. One car that matched up with one person’s prints, James grabbed his notepad and a ballpoint pen.

James knocked on the door of the older ranch style house that sat just outside of town.
“Mrs. Ruth Davis?”
“Hello, I’m Detective James Andrews and I would like to ask you a few questions about last Tuesday night, do you mind if I come in?”

Ruth smiled at him and held the door open.
“Would you like some coffee?” she asked.
“Yes, that would be very nice, thank you,”

James took a seat at the kitchen table while Ruth started a fresh pot of coffee. He looked her over running his eyes up and down her hourglass figure. Her hair was pulled back into a french twist, she was wearing an a line navy blue skirt that came to her knee, dark stockings, a black pair of heels and a light blue silk blouse with the top two buttons open.

“Cream and sugar?” she asked.
“Yes, please,”
Ruth set the cup of coffee down in front of James and took a seat across from him. He took a sip of the coffee and smiled at her.
“Mmm…it’s good, much better than the stuff at the office,”
“So detective what’s on your mind,”

James gave her a grin and pulled out his notepad and ballpoint pen.
“You’re an intelligent, beautiful lady, Ruth, I think you know why I am here,”
“I may, James, can I call you James?”
“Sure, Ruth, you can call me James, so do you enjoy classic films?”
“As a matter of fact I do, James, have you seen Nightingale?”
“Yes, Ruth, I have, which is how I know it was you that used the name Laura Hunt at the Westside Motel last Tuesday night,”

Ruth took a sip of her coffee.
“Well aren’t you clever, James,”
“How did you know Beatrix Holiday was allergic to peanuts?”
“She had a medical ID keychain that identified her allergen, I happen to see it when we were together Saturday night,”
“Were you having an affair with Beatrix?”
“Nope, my husband was, he left me for her,”

James finished his coffee, closed his notepad and put his ballpoint pen back into his breast pocket.
“Here’s the thing Ruth,” he took her hand in his and looked into her eyes.
“Right now this is not a murder case, it’s an accidental death,”
She smiled at him and gave his hand a light squeeze.

Scarlet keep step with the big brute that was Marco Bishop, through the city streets, she followed him up to his apartment building.
“Good evening, Mr. Bishop,” the doorman said.
“It should be,” Marco said nodding towards Scarlet, as he keyed in his door code.
Scarlet made eye contact with the doorman, while making a mental note of the door code.
Marco held the door for Scarlet.
“Why thank you Mr. Bishop,” she said giving him a quick peck on the cheek as she entered the building.
Marco took a moment to admire her hourglass figure, that was being hugged by a tight little red dress.
“Would you like a drink?” he asked as they entered the apartment.
“Sure, Scotch if you have it,” she answered sliding off her red pumps.
Marco poured two glasses, handed one to Scarlet and took his into the living room. He sat down in an overstuffed leather chair, downed his Scotch and raised his finger in a come here movement.
Scarlet finished off her drink, setting it down on the kitchen counter and walked over. She gave him a smile and dropped to her knees.
~ ~ ~ ~
Mac’s 24hr Diner advertised ‘Breakfast Available All Day’ John handed the menu back to the cute blonde waitress.
“Just a coffee for now, thanks,” he said watching as Scarlet entered the apartment building across the street.
~ ~ ~ ~
Scarlet ran her freshly manicured nails along Marco’s thighs, she unzipped and unbuttoned his pants. Sliding her hand into his pants as she moved up and kissed him, slipping her tongue into his mouth. Along with a little white pill.
He swallowed as she kissed him again deeply. As she repeated the door code to herself.
Marco’s breathing changed, his whole body fell limp. Scarlet checked to make sure he was still breathing. Then she made her way into the bedroom. She moved the nightstand away from the wall, giving the wall a light push. The panel popped out. She moved it over and found what she was after. Blueprints to the convention center and candidate elect Norman St. Johns’ campaign schedule. She thumbed through them then put them back into their hiding space.
She grabbed her shoes and left the apartment. She gave the doorman another smile as she ran across the street in her stocking to Mac’s Diner.
She sat down in front of John and motioned for the waitress.
“About time, Detective Marks” John said taking a sip of his second cup of coffee.
“Hey, I got what we need for tomorrow morning,” said Detective Josephine Marks.
“What can I get you?” the cute blonde waitress asked.
“Coffee, and a Denver omelette with wheat toast, please,”
“I’ll have the same,” John said.
“So how was it?” John asked as he took another bite of his omelette.
“It was fine, just part of working undercover,” Josephine gave him a smile and continued eating her meal.
~ ~ ~ ~
“He’s leaving,” Josephine said tapping John’s arm.
John looked over at the apartment building.
“Give him a few then we go in,”
Josephine and John walked across the street to the front of the apartment building. Josephine gave the doorman a smile and entered the door code.
She walked down the hall to Marco’s door.
“I hope this works,” she breathed as she turned the doorknob.
The door opened, she pushed the lock button back in so that it would lock this time, when she left.
She went to the sliding glass doors off of the living room, that open up to the side of the building and let John in.
“Nice apartment,”
Josephine went into the bedroom, moved the nightstand and opened the panel. She handed the blueprints and papers to John.
“At least the informant was right,” he took all the papers.
Josephine walked back into the living room finding her purse that she had left on the kitchen counter. John came up behind her, sliding his arms around her and pulling her into him. He kissed the back of her neck.
“I kinda like you as a redhead,”
She pushed back into him as he kissed down her neck.
Knock, Knock
“Fuck,” Josephine said jumping at the sound.
“Miss, are you still there?” the doorman asked.
John left through the sliding glass door and Josephine grabbed her purse and answered the door.
“Found it,” she said holding up her purse and walking quickly down the hallway.
~ ~ ~ ~
“You do know that we need to be at the briefing by 11 am?” John asked between spitting and brushing.
“Yes, I know,” Josephine answered from the shower.
“We have plenty of time, are you joining me before the hot water is gone?” she asked.
John shook his head, dropped his boxers and got into the shower.
~ ~ ~ ~
“Detective Marks and Detective Keen have confirmed that Marco Bishop is planning to attempt an assassination of candidate elect Norman St. Johns. At the moment we are just observing, Mr. St. Johns has been made aware and has increased his personal security. But he refuses to stop campaigning and is going ahead with his ‘Clean Streets Initiative’”
~ ~ ~ ~
It was to early for it to be this hot, June had just begun but it was already well over 80 degrees on this Thursday morning.
“So what do we have?” Detective James Andrews asked as he sipped his coffee.
“Male, 45 to 50 years old, approximately 6’ 5” and 245 to 255 lbs. No ID yet,” the responding officer answered.
“Well, how did you get out here, Mr. Doe?” Detective Andrews asked while he looked over the scene.
Detective Andrews gave the John Doe a once over.
No stab wounds, No bullet holes, No fresh lacerations or bruising.
He reached with a gloved hand, moving some hair away from his neck.
“Interesting, get a photo of this,”
James continued looking around the body, there were drag marks from John Doe’s shoes, that started where the tire tracks ended.
James walked away from the body and faced the dirt road. He lit a cigarette and walked down the road towards the highway. It was quiet, a faint breeze moved through the birch trees.
“Who found him?” he asked returning to the scene.
“Marjorie and Larry Nesbit were out walking their dogs, they live about a half mile down Route 18,”
“Well let me know as soon as we get his prints back, he’s gotta be somebody,”
~ ~ ~ ~
Wednesday Afternoon
“It won’t work,” John said standing in the bedroom doorway.
“Yes, it will,” Josephine said getting off the bed, wrapped in a bath towel.
She made her way over to John, dropping the towel as she wrapped her arms around his waist and looked him in the eye.
“It will work, trust me,”
She raised up on her bare toes and kissed him on the lips. He kissed her back, they moved over to the bed.
Josephine stretched out across the dark blue sheets, running her hand down her side and letting it slide in between her thighs.
“Having fun there?” John asked as he was shedding his clothes.
She let out a moan and rolled over onto her back.
“More if you join me,” she said.
John laid on the bed next to her and caressed her breast, he ran his tongue along her nipple, sliding it into his mouth and sucked. She let out a moan and slid her fingers into her pussy. He ran his hand down her body putting his hand over hers. Feeling her finger herself.
He moved down, spreading her legs apart, and kissed the inside of her thigh, moving up to her pussy. He slid his tongue into her, she ran her hands through his hair, arching her back and pushing into him.
Her body shuddered as she came from his tonguing.
~ ~ ~ ~
Wednesday Night
“Your sure about this?”
“Yes, it will be fine, trust me,”
Josephine kissed John and walked up to Marco Bishop’s apartment building. She walked up the steps, gave the doorman a smile and keyed in the door code.
63-30-41 the keypad let out a loud buzz. Josephine looked at the doorman, he stood behind her and keyed in another code.
“Mr. Bishop changes it regularly,” he said.
“Thanks,” she said and entered the apartment building.
She walked down the hall and knocked on Marco’s door.
“What the hell do you want?” Marco said as he opened the door.
“You,” she answered pushing her way into the apartment.
“What are you on about Scarlet?”
“Well, first of all I am not Scarlet, I am Detective Josephine Marks,”
Marco gave her a sideways look when she said the word detective. In that moment of confusion John entered the living room from the sliding glass door and tased Marco. Catching him in the side of the neck.
He jolted forward and then fell back missing the chair and landing on the floor.
“Jesus Christ how much did you hit him with?” she asked leaning down to check for a pulse.
“It’s on the standard setting,” John answered.
There were three quick knocks on the door.
“That’s Tom let him in,”
“Who the fuck is Tom?”
“Introductions later, let him in,”
John opened the door.
“Tom I presume,” he said as the doorman rushed past him.
“What the hell, you weren’t supposed to kill him,” Tom said kneeling beside Josephine.
“That wasn’t our intention,” she said.
“Ok, so now what?” John asked pouring himself a Scotch.
“You had might as well make it three,” she said getting up to take a glass of Scotch from the kitchen counter.
Josephine downed her Scotch.
“No time like the present for introductions, Detective John Keen meet Special Agent Thomas Ridge of the FBI,”
“Fuck Josephine what have you gotten us into?” John said as he downed another Scotch.
“I haven’t gotten us into anything, the plan was to take him in not kill him,” Josephine tossed back another Scotch.
“So Special Agent of the FBI, what now?” John asked.
Tom shot John a look that chilled Josephine to the bone.
“I guess a threesomes out of the question,” Josephine said as she walked back over to Marco’s body. She took his wallet, watch and rings off setting them up on the bookshelf.
“Well, we can’t leave him here,” she said.
“The easiest way to get him out of the building is going to be through the sliding glass doors, I am sure he will fit in the back of my SUV,” Tom said.
“Sounds like a plan,”
Tom gave the keys to his SUV to Josephine.
“It’s the black one half a block north, just pull into the alleyway, we’ll move him,” Tom gave John nod.
Josephine opened the sliding glass door and walked around to the front of the building and headed down the street.
John and Tom looked over Marco’s body.
“How heavy do you think he is?” John asked.
“I don’t know, probably around 250,” Tom answered.
John stood over Marco’s shoulders, took a deep breath and stretched.
“You ready?”
“Yeah, so you and Josephine?” John asked.
Tom shook his head and grabbed Marco’s legs, John slid his arms under Marco’s shoulders. They managed to move him out the doors and into the back of Tom’s SUV.
“Where are we going?” John asked from the backseat.
“Out of town,” Tom answered.
They drove through town, Tom turned onto Route 18. John nodded off in the backseat.
“What do you see in him?” Tom asked.
Josephine glanced back at John and smiled.
“He’s a good guy once you get to know him,”
She put her hand on Tom’s leg, rubbing her thumb back and forth. He gave her a smile, put his hand on the back of her neck, pulling her to him and kissed her.
Tom pulled off of Route 18 on to a dirt road and into the surrounding trees.
“This will work, John wake up,” Tom said.
John’s eyes opened to the sound of Tom’s voice.
“Were here get out,”
Tom opened the back of the SUV and they pulled Marco’s body out and drug him away from the vehicle.
“Good enough,” Tom said.
~ ~ ~ ~
“Print’s are back,” Officer Roberts said, handing over the file.
“Thanks,” Detective Andrews said.
James opened the file, positive ID for Marco Bishop. Cause of death myocardial infarction most likely caused by a stun gun or taser.
~ ~ ~ ~
“What time is it?” Josephine asked as the three of them stumbled into her apartment.
“It’s 3:45 am,” Tom said.
John found a bottle of Jack Daniels in the cupboard above the fridge, and gave it a shake towards Tom.
“Sure,” Tom answered.
Josephine went to take a shower, leaving the two of them to finish off the bottle.
“Cigarette?” John asked pulling out a pack and holding it out to Tom.
Tom took one, lit it and took a deep drag. John poured two glasses, then held his glass up.
“Cheers,” John said.
Tom took another hit of the cigarette and raised his glass.
“What is wrong with you?” Tom asked as he downed his drink.
John looked him in the eye and said.
“I really don’t know,”
Josephine entered the living room, wearing a blue silk robe that barely covered her. She took a seat on the couch and proceed to comb out her hair.
John watched her from the kitchen as he poured another glass of Jack Daniels.
“Are you going to keep it red?” John asked.
Josephine looked over at John and Tom.
“What do you think Tom?” she asked giving them a smile.
Tom walked over to the couch and ran his fingers through her damp hair.
“Suite’s you,” Tom said leaning down and kissing her on the lips.
Tom took Josephine by the hand and led her down the hall towards the bedroom.
“Are you joining us John?” Tom asked from down the hall.
John finished off his drink and followed them into the bedroom.
~ ~ ~ ~
“Detective Andrews speaking,” James answered his phone.
“Detective, this is Norman St. Johns, do you know who I am?”
“Yes Sir I do,”
“The rumor is that Marco Bishop is no longer with us, is that correct?”
“Yes Sir it is,”
“Good, the city is better off without him, and as far as who helped him depart from this world, well they should get a medal,”
“Yes, Sir, can I help you with anything else?” James asked.
“No Detective, perhaps leave Mr. Bishop’s case on the back burner for now, have a good day Detective,”
“Ok, you too Sir,” James exhaled as he hung up the phone.
James stared at the case file in front of him, they had been through Marco’s apartment found some prints. Nothing that would lead to a slam dunk or quick convention. He put the file in his desk drawer.
“Sir, this is for you,” Officer Robert’s handed James a slip of paper. He read it over, found his notepad and a new ballpoint pen.
“No rest for the wicked,” he said as he left the precinct.

Summer Solstice
Laura sat alone at a booth in Mac’s 24hr Diner nursing her ice tea and picking at her half eaten BLT. Distracted by what she was watching. Jim and his girlfriend Kate were finishing their meal a few tables down.
She watched as Jim helped Kate with her coat, how he smiled at her, how he touched the small of her back as they walked out.
Laura fought back tears, as she finished off her ice tea, threw a twenty on the table and followed them out into the night. She took a second to light a cigarette before walking behind them.
She stayed far enough back as to not be heard, but close enough to watch their interactions. They slowed up in front of an apartment building, Jim pulled Kate to him and kissed her. She gave him a hug, a peck on the cheek and headed up the stairs. Laura’s tears turned to rage, and jealousy.
~ ~ ~ ~
Detective James Andrews got out of his car, wiping the sweat from his forehead.
Longest and hottest day of the year.
He made his way up to the front of St. Anthony’s church, ducking under the crime scene tape he entered the narthex.
“Ok, Officer Henderson, what do we have?” Detective Andrews asked.
“Female 20 to 25, approximately 5’ 6” 115 to 125 lbs. Found laying on the altar, apparent blunt force trauma to the back of the head. Along with some bruising and lacerations to her legs and arms, Sir,” Officer Henderson said as they walked up to the body.
James looked over the body, she was young, with pretty blonde hair and blue eyes. She was nicely dressed in a pair of dark blue walking shorts topped off with a white blouse with little blue flowers printed on it.
“Who found her?”
“Mrs. Chapman the church secretary, when she came in to open the office this morning,”
James knocked on the church office door.
“Mrs. Chapman? I am Detective James Andrews do you mind if I ask you a few questions?” he said as he entered the office.
“No, it’s fine, come in,” Mrs. Chapman said.
“Thank you, do you know the girl?”
“No, I don’t think so, she doesn’t look familiar, the church hired a security guard because there had been some break ins, have you talked to him yet?”
“No, we haven’t would you have his name?”
“It’s here somewhere,” she said moving some files and papers around on her desk.
“Oh, here it is, Shane O’Grady,”
~ ~ ~ ~
Shane had started his shift at 8 pm, by checking the doors and windows. As he moved his flashlight back and forth, walking around the far side of the church, he heard something. He turned towards the sound, and listened.
There was nothing, he shrugged it off and continued walking the perimeter. When he approached the front of the church he spotted a basket sitting next to the entrance.
Shane looked around, as he walked up to the basket. It was a simple wicker basket with a handle, it reminded him of something they used at Easter for the egg hunt.
There was a checkered red and white cloth laid over the contents of the basket. He pulled the cloth to the side looking down into the basket.
“Surprise!” a voice from behind him said.
Shane jumped raising his flashlight towards the voice.
“Fuck, Helen, what are you doing out here?” he asked.
“I wanted to bring you something to eat, it being your first night alone,” she answered, throwing her arms around him.
“Well thanks, but next time call, I could have hurt you,”
She squeezed him giving him a kiss.
“You’d never hurt me,” she said picking up the basket and leading him over to a bench outside of the front of St. Anthony’s.
“We ate the sandwiches that Helen had brought me and she went home,” Shane said.
“What time did she leave?” James asked.
“Had to be almost 10 pm,” Shane answered.
“What time do you think you were attacked?”
“Had to be close to one, I did my rounds again at midnight everything was quiet, then I woke up with a splitting headache around dawn,”
“Do you recognize this girl?” James asked handing Shane a picture of the girl found on the altar.
Shane stared at the photo.
“I want to say maybe, she looks like the Mcalester girl, I think her name is Kate, she was a few years younger than me in school,”
“Kate Mcalester, are you sure?”
“Pretty sure, her parents are Steve and Nancy, I think she was waiting tables at Mac’s Diner,”
“Thanks, for your time, if you think of anything else give me a call,” James said handing Shane his card.
~ ~ ~ ~
“Jim, it’s time to wake up,” a whisper caught in his ear.
“What?” Jim said, being pulled from his dreams.
“What’s going on?” he asked the darkness.
Laura turned on the lamp, Jim blinked repeatedly trying to focus his eyes.
“Laura? What are you doing here?” he asked sitting up.
Laura dropped to her knees by the side of the bed.
“I watched you with her. How you looked at her. How you spoke to her. How you touched the small of her back. How you kissed her good night. I watched you with her and I wanted to be her,”
She couldn’t hold back the tears anymore, as she stared up at Jim. He took a deep breath, reaching down to brush her hair away from her face.
“Oh Laura, you know that Kate and I are together,” he said.
She took his hands in hers, looking him in the eye.
“I fixed it, I can be her now,” she said.
Jim took a second to process what she had just said.
“Sweetie, Laura how did you fix it?”
~ ~ ~ ~
Kate finished her shift at Mac’s Diner at midnight and headed home. When she reached the steps to her apartment building a woman approached her.
“Yes, can I help you?”
“You’ll never make him happy,”
“Jim, he’ll never really love you,”
Kate turned to go up to her apartment when Laura swung, something hard hit Kate in the back. Out of instinct Kate started running, Laura chased after her.
They ended up outside of St. Anthony’s church, Kate saw Shane go around the side of the building, she tried to scream at him, just as Laura knocked her down.
Hitting her legs and arms with what she thought was a flat bat of some sort. Kate tried to protect herself crawling away and getting back to her feet. Then Laura swung the cricket bat with all her force catching Kate in the back of the head.

Mr. Jones

Brian Nelson lit his third cigarette, sitting in his station wagon parked across the street from the WestSide Motel. He read the sign advertising ‘clean rooms and free HBO’ All they need now is hourly rates available.

He laughed to himself as he took a long drag, he flipped open the box of Valentine’s Day candy he had bought for his wife, he took one of the chocolates and tossed it into his mouth. Mmmm…orange cream.

The door to room 14 opened and two people emerged into the chilly night. His wife Jennifer, and her boss Robert they kissed goodbye and got into separate cars.

Brian followed her home, thinking about their marriage, the time spent together building a future. All for her to just throw it away. He wanted to confront her, he wanted to kill her.

He sat in the driveway of their nice two story home. Letting the anger wash over him. Running what he wanted to say to her, what he wanted to do to her. He ate another piece of chocolate, mmmm…dark chocolate.

Valentine’s Day A Year Later

“Secret admirer?” Officer Roberts asked handing Detective James Andrews a red heart shaped box, wrapped with a white ribbon.
“Not likely,” James said taking the box, setting it down on the desk in front of him.
James pulled the white ribbon that made a bow around the box. He slid the top of the box up, lifting it off.

“What the…” James pushed back from his desk standing up.
“Get a crime scene kit up here,” He ordered.
James slid a pair of gloves on and picked up the lid, turning it over in his hand. There was a white envelope fixed to the inside of the lid. He gently pulled it off and opened it.

Detective Andrews,
Now that I have your undivided attention, I have a mystery for you to solve. This is Cherry, or at least this is Cherry’s heart.

‘You don’t have to put on the red light
Those days are over
You don’t have to sell your body to the night’

You can call me Mr. Jones

“Fuck,” James said to the room.
~ ~ ~ ~
A station wagon with faux wood paneling, came to a crawl beside Cherry as she strolled down High Street.
“Do you want to party?” she asked leaning into the passenger window.
“Yes,” the driver answered leaning over to open the door for her.
“What’s your name sweetie?”
“You can call me Cherry,”
“Ok, you can call me Mr. Jones,” the driver said heading down High Street and turning onto the highway.
~ ~ ~ ~
St. Patrick’s Day

“Detective Andrews,” James answered the phone.
“Sir, there’s a delivery out front for you,”
“Ok, give me a minute,”

James walked up front and signed for the package, not giving it much thought and took it back to his desk. Picking up a pair of scissors and opening the small brown box, he opened the top flap, the odor hit him, that distinct aroma of decomp. Stopped him in his tracks.

“Fuck, can I get a crime scene kit?”
“Another one, Sir?” Officer Roberts asked.
“Looks like it,” James handed him a copy of the note that was with the package.

Detective Andrews,
This one, this one was pure joy, I’ll give you a ‘hand’ in her identity.

‘Polly wants a cracker
Maybe she would like some food
She asks me to untie her
A chase would be nice for a few’

Mr. Jones

“Well that’s all sorts of fucked up, Sir,”
“Yes it is, hopefully they can pull some prints,”
~ ~ ~ ~
“Sir, the prints are back from the second package,” Officer Robert’s said handing James the file.
“About time,”
He thumbed through the report. Partial print from left index finger, identified as Stacy Dean age 22, 5’ 6” brunette, green eyes, reported missing March 18 th.

It was raining pretty steadily by the time Stacy clocked out of work at the Everyday Food’s Grocery Store. She tucked her bag under her arm, wrapped her jacket tightly around herself, and headed towards the bus stop at the other end of the parking lot.

“Hey, would you like a ride?” a male voice asked from a station wagon.
Stacy eyed the driver, he was older, kinda looked like one of her teachers from the community college. She was cold, wet and it was getting late.
“Sure, if you don’t mind,” she said getting into the station wagon.
~ ~ ~ ~

“Sir, there’s another package for you,” Officer Roberts said.
“Take it downstairs, I’ll be there in a few,” James said.

James put on a pair of gloves and carefully opened the egg shaped gift box. He pulled the lid off, expecting the worst. Instead there was some Easter grass, with jelly beans, chocolate bunnies and marshmallow peeps in the shape of little chicks.
“What the fuck,” Jame said as he pulled the envelope from inside the top of the box.

Detective Andrews,
I am very disappointed in your efforts to find me. So I am making this one easy for you, no pieces this time just a picture and address.

‘Hate me
Do it and do it again
Waste me
Rape me, my friend’

You have twenty four hours till Brenda here has a night she will never recover from.

Mr. Jones

James looked at the enclosed Polaroid with an address printed on the bottom.
~ ~ ~ ~
Detective James Andrews knocked on the door of room 14 at the WestSide Motel.
“It’s open Detective,” a male voice said from inside.
James carefully opened the door.
“Mr. Jones?” James said as he took a step into room 14.

“That’s far enough Detective,”
Mr. Jones was sitting in a chair positioned a few feet from the door, he was holding a shotgun pointed towards James.

“Where’s Brenda?” James asked.
Mr. Jones tilted his head towards the bed.
“I lack self control, I couldn’t wait, knowing that she would be my last,”
James glanced over towards the bed, all he could see was the side of Brenda’s head peeking out from under the comforter.

Mr. Jones took the shotgun, placed the barrel under his chin and pulled the trigger.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck!”
~ ~ ~ ~
Mother’s Day

“Mail call,” Officer Robert’s said handing James a large manila envelope.
James opened the envelope and slid out its contents.
“Ok then,” he said starting with the letter on top.

Detective Andrews,
I feel compelled to tell you my story. Enclosed you will find my journal, and a flash drive.

‘A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep’

Goodbye, Mr. Jones

Room 14

Jennifer Nelson and her boss Robert Hayse stood outside of room 14 at the WestSide Motel on Valentine’s Day. Robert unlocked the door and the two of them entered the motel room. Jennifer put down her purse and took off her jacket. Robert stood in front of her, he put his hand on the back of her neck and kissed her. She wrapped her arms around him and kissed him back, sliding her tongue into his mouth, he let out a moan. He broke off the kiss and held her to him.

“God I want you,” he breathed into her ear. She kissed his neck, slightly nibbling on him.
“I want you too,” she said holding him tightly.
They quickly undressed, Robert sat naked on the edge of the bed. Jennifer knelled down in front of him, taking his cock in her hand and stroking it. She then slid the tip in between her lips and licked. Robert let out a moan and ran his fingers through her hair.

She slowly took his hard cock into her mouth, letting it slide deep into her throat. As she ran her hand over his balls and gently squeezed.
“Fuck,” escaped his lips, as she moved her head up and down along his shaft.
Jennifer sucked till she could taste his pre-cum dripping on her tongue. She moved back from him and rubbed his cock in between her bare breasts. Allowing the tip to slip into her open mouth.

“God dammit, Jen, you’re driving me crazy,” Robert gasped in between thrusts.
“Good,” she said standing up in front of him.
He grabbed her hips and pulled her to him. He slid his tongue into her pussy, licking and sucking on her clit. She moved away from him and crawled onto the bed, positioning herself in the middle of the bed on her hands and knees.

Robert moved behind her, running his hand along her ass and sliding two fingers into her pussy. She let out a moan as he worked his finger inside her, making her wet. He moved his finger up to her clit and rubbed till she started to shudder from the sensation.
“Fuck me, please, fuck me,” she begged.

Robert slid his hard cock into her dripping pussy, moving in and out, teasing her till she screamed.
“Please, please fuck me,”
He thrusted deep into her, making her pussy tighten around his shaft, he pulled back from her and thrusted again, this time fucking her hard and fast. He grabbed her hips pushing as deep as he could into her, feeling her cum on his cock.
“Fuck, Jen,” he said as he came deep in her.

Robert collapsed onto the bed next to her, pulling her to him and kissing her. Jennifer moved down put her head against his chest and closed her eyes. Both of them laying there in room 14, breathing, letting what had occurred sink in.


Blood dripped off the side of the heavy bottomed crystal ashtray, in Corbin’s hand. Surrounded by exotic flowers in the Botanical Gardens Greenhouse, staring in disbelief over what had just occurred. Corbin had always considered himself an intelligent, rational man.

Hell he was Dr. Corbin Newcomb practicing Cardiologist with the University Medical Center.

Diana had done nothing wrong, they had spent a lovely day together looking at antiques, having lunch and touring the gardens. She had even picked out the ashtray that was now splattered with her blood as a gift for him. Corbin dropped the ashtray, turned and stumbled towards a bench. He sat staring at Diana’s body. Trying to remember why he had lost his temper with her. What had she said that set him off, why did he need to kill her, here and now.

~ ~ ~ ~

“You have a call on line 2,” the speaker on the desk phone announced.
“Hello, Detective Andrews speaking,”
“Detective James Andrews?” the voice asked.
“Yes, how can I help you?”
“I am Detective Benjamin Knowles, of the 45th precinct on Southside, and you have been requested in a homicide case we caught out here, do you know a Stella Henderson-Newcomb?” Detective Knowles asked.
“Now that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time, what’s the case?”

~ ~ ~ ~

Stella looked herself over in the full length mirror that hung on the back of her bedroom door in her modest one bedroom apartment. It was her first day as Mr. Bridges personal assistant, she wanted to give a professional appearance. Stella ran her hands down her A-line navy skirt and finished buttoning up her light blue silk blouse. She had decided to wear her dark blonde hair down, it fell nicely on to her shoulders.

Good enough she sighed.

Mr. Bridges was a large man with broad shoulders that spent his days in business meetings and on conference calls. He was polite to Stella and always gave her exact instructions about how she should answer the phone and type up a correspondence. She enjoyed her job for the most part, although some days when Mr. Bridges would lean in to her, she would get a nose full of his liberal use of Brut cologne. It made her gag and she would move back or stand up.

Brenda and Violet who also worked in Mr. Bridges office took it upon themselves to set Stella up on a blind date. She protested at first but they wore her down and got her to agree to at least go to dinner. Stella entered Baxters Bar & Grill.
“Are you Stella?” a male voice asked.
Stella turned, facing a kind, tall, well built man.
“Yes, James?” she said extending her hand. He shook her hand and they were escorted to a booth against the wall. Drinks and food were ordered, small talk was made and plans to see each other again were made.

A few weeks after Stella has started dating James, Mr. Bridges called Stella into his office. It was a Thursday afternoon and Mr. Bridges was in a ripe mood. He had been yelling at the voice on the other end of the conference call earlier that day. When he had come back from a long lunch he reeked of cigarettes and alcohol.

“Yes, Mr. Bridges?” Stella asked entering his office.
“Close the door,”
She closed the door and stood to the side of his desk.
He sat back in his chair and looked her over.
“You’re looking pretty good these days,”
“Thank you, Sir, did you need something?”

He got out of his chair and stood in front of her, he ran his hand up her bare arm resting it on her shoulder.
“Soft,” he said looking deep into her green eyes.
“Sir, Mr. Bridges, Tom,” she said taking his hand from her shoulder and rubbing her thumb along the inside of his palm.
Hearing her address him by his first name caught him off guard.
“What did you call me,”
“Tom, you don’t want to do this, you’re a good boss, don’t cross this line, think about Charline and Katy,” Stella’s words were calm and direct. He took a deep breath, sat back down glancing at the portrait of his family that sat on his desk.
“Your right,”
“Sir, it was just a bad day, go home and we’ll start again tomorrow,”

~ ~ ~ ~

It was an overcast gloomy day, that called for rain when Detective James Andrews entered the 45th precinct.
“Detective Knowles?” he asked the front desk attendant flashing his badge and credentials.
“Yes sir, through the door to the left,” the attendant said as she pressed a button that buzzed the door open.

“Detective Andrews?” Benjamin asked as he headed towards James.
“In the flesh,”
“Nice to meet you, this way,”
They walked down between the cubicles of busy people.
“Cubicles?” James asked.
“Yeah, an HR thing for people’s privacy,”
“Here we are,”

Benjamin opened the door to conference room C, James was greeted by a whiteboard, a conference table with a few chairs scattered around it and a small table in the corner holding a coffee maker and box of doughnuts.
“Quaint,” James said.
“Have a seat, I will catch you up,” Benjamin said tossing a file towards James.

July 7th 3:45pm Officers respond to the Botanical Gardens on I-94 E one deceased female identified as Diana Miller 33, 5’6” 145 lbs, brown eyes, brunette hair home address 2068 Edge Water Drive Apartment D16 found with blunt force trauma to the back of the head.
Dr. Corbin Newcomb found in shock at scene holding apparent murder weapon, one antique crystal ashtray.
James continued to skim through the rest of the report.

“And Stella?”
“Mrs. Stella Henderson-Newcomb is Dr. Corbin Newcomb’s wife, she would like you to pay her a visit,” Benjamin handed James a sticky note with Stella’s information on it.
“I see, guess that’s where I will be then,”

~ ~ ~ ~

James sat in the driveway looking up at the extravagant two story colonial house that sat just outside of the city.

Quite the step up from the one bedroom on Lexington.

James strolled up to the door and rang the bell. A short older woman wearing a maids uniform answered.
“May I help you?” she asked.
James smiled. “Yes, Detective Andrews to see Mrs. Newcomb,”
“Just a minute,” she closed the door.
James took in the ornate details of the front porch, tall white pillars, flower pots all arranged symmetrically, with marigolds and pansies.

“James,” Stella said as she opened the door and stepped out onto the porch, embracing him in a hug.
James hugged her back and then stepped back from her.
“Stella, I see you’ve done well for yourself, so why am I here?” he asked.
“Yes, I have, come in we need to catch up,” she led him inside.

“Drink?” she asked.
“Sure, Jack on the rocks,”
Stella made her way over to the bar, dropped a few ice cubes into a glass and poured a splash of Jack Daniels over them.
“Here you go,”
James took the glass and downed it.
James handed the glass back and smiled.
“Make yourself comfortable,”
James took his coat off and wandered into the sitting room, he took a seat on the overstuffed olive colored couch. Stella handed him a second drink and took a seat next to him.
“So why am I here?”
“Well Corbin has gotten himself into a little situation,”
“That’s one way to put it,”

Stella faced James and took his hand in hers, she slowly rubbed her thumb along the inside of his palm.
“It’s so good to see you, it’s been to long,”
James smiled at her and squeezed her hand.
“So how’s your sister?” he asked taking his hand back to finish off his drink.
“Holly, she’s fine,”
“Once again Stella, why am I here?”
Stella let out a sigh.
“Honestly, because I wanted to see you, what Corbin did is on him, when I found out about Diana I wanted to kill him, but that would have been to easy on him,” she walked over to the bar, poured herself a shot of Jack and downed it.
“What did you do Stella?”
“What makes you think I did anything?”
James got up, walked over to her and took her hands in his, he looked into her green eyes.
“Because, Stella, dear I know you,”
She smiled at him and leaned into him, giving him a quick kiss on the lips.
“Wanna have some fun?” she asked with a mischievous smile. James kissed her gently on the lips.
“Maybe,” he answered.

~ ~ ~ ~

Diana Miller had a school girl crush on Dr. Corbin Newcomb, she spent her time daydreaming about being with him. Having his arms wrap around her as he kissed her pasionatly.
“Nurse Miller? Diana! You still with us?”
“What?” Diana answered being pulled out of her daydream by Nurse Keller.
“Are you working today? Mrs. Scott needs assistance in room 34,”
“Yes, Ma’am,” Diana said coming to and heading down the hall.

A critical patient came in and Dr. Newcomb was called down to assist.
“What do we have?” Dr. Newcomb asked grabbing a pair of gloves and brushing past Diana.
“Car accident, driver side struck by an oncoming SUV. He was alert and talking at the scene then he collapsed, cardiac arrest. He was revived in transit,” The EMT said.
It was fast and chaotic, Diana watched in awe as Corbin work quickly making his assessment and getting the patient stable enough for a transfer to the cardiac wing.

Afterwards Diana was sitting in the cafeteria picking at her cobb salad, when a familiar voice addressed her.
“Do you mind if I join you?” Dr. Corbin Newcomb asked holding a lunch tray.
Diana cleared her throat, “Sure, I mean please do,”
Corbin took a seat, sitting his tray down.
“That was quite the rush earlier,” he said.
“Yes, you were amazing,” Diana said her cheeks turning a deep shade of red.
He smiled at her as he took a bite of his tuna sandwich.

“You’re cute when you blush,” he said.
All Diana could do was smile.

~ ~ ~ ~

The sun flooded the room, James turned over and looked at the nightstand.
“Fuck,” he said realizing where he had woken up. He heard the shower turn on, he got up and started finding his clothes.
Boxers, pants, shoes, no socks, no shirt, or jacket.
“Dammit Stella,” he mumbled to himself.
He made his way downstairs finding his socks in the hall on the way down. His shirt and jacket were in the sitting room tosses on the floor. He finished getting dressed making sure he had everything that he had come in with.
“What no goodbye?” Stella asked from behind him.
He turned and faced her, gave her a kiss on the cheek.
“Bye, Stella,”

James sat in his car, regaining his composure.
“Some bad habits are just hard to break,” he said as he started the car.

~ ~ ~ ~

Corbin sat in a holding cell in the 45th police precinct, staring down at his hands. He kept replaying the days events over and over in his mind. He loved Diana, why would he hurt let alone kill her in such a way. He was a doctor, a surgeon dedicated to saving lives not taking them. He tried to remember what she had said. They were walking through the gardens and into the greenhouse, the warm floral scents filled is mind. What had she said. He ran his hands through his hair trying to recall her words, her last words.
“Mr. Newcomb?” the officer asked.
“Doctor Newcomb, yes,”
“Your free to go, your lawyer posted your bail,” the officer explained as he unlocked and opened the door.

Corbin gathered his things from the front desk.
“Dr. Newcomb,” a voice asked from behind him.
“Yes,” he answered turning towards the voice.
“Hello, I am Mr. Jacobson from the firm, I am here to take you home,”

Corbin exited Mr. Jacobson’s car thanking him for the lift and walked up the walkway to his house. As he reached for the door knob, the door opened.
“Welcome home Corbin,” Stella said coldly.
He entered the house and headed towards the bar, he poured himself a shot of Jameson.

He took a seat in his easy chair, and sipped his drink.
“You know she had to go?” Stella asked.
Corbin finished off his drink and held up the glass, Stella took it and poured him another one.
She handed it back to him.
“We could have worked it out,” he said.

Stella shook her head and kneeled before him, he put down his drink and she took his hands in hers. She ran her thumbs over the palms of his hands, as she looked into his eyes.
“Sweety, Corbin, she would have ruined us,”
He looked down at her.
“But she wouldn’t have, she just wanted to be included,”
“Corbin, it wasn’t going to happen, you are mine, she was just a distraction that got out of hand,”
She continued to rub his hands as she spoke calmly.
“Now have your drink,” she handed him the glass of Jameson.

~ ~ ~ ~

It was early, pre-dawn when Detective Andrews arrived at the Newcomb residence. Stella had made the call at 3:45 am when she had discovered that her husband Corbin had taken his own life during the night.
“Morning James,” Detective Knowles said as James entered the house.
“Morning,” James grunted.

“He’s in the sitting room, looks like he took a handful of sleeping pills, chased it with some Jameson and went quietly,” Benjamin said.

“Where’s Stella?”
“In the kitchen,”
James took a seat across from Stella at the kitchen table.
“Cigarette?” he offered.
“Yeah,” she took one from his pack and he held out the lighter, she inhaled lighting the cigarette.
James lit his own and took a deep drag.
“So it’s all tied up nicely isn’t it,”
Stella gave him a smile and took another drag.
“Unless you can prove otherwise, yes, it is,”
“Don’t tempt me, so what did Ms. Diana Miller have on you?”
Stella put the cigarette out in her empty cup of coffee.
“Stupid slut had gotten pregnant and wanted Corbin to claim responsibility, and that wasn’t going to happen,”

James sat back, taking another drag.
“Oh, Stella,”



The chalkboard read ‘Welcome New and Returning Teachers to Hamilton Elementary’ as he entered the teachers lounge, to attend the teachers mixer. This would be Ned Sneeds fifth year at Hamilton Elementary as the schools gym teacher.

Mr. Holt the principal of Hamilton Elementary was always preaching ‘Community Involvement’ organizing group events and retreats. You know the ones where you sit in a circle on metal folding chairs, and introduce yourself with a ‘Special Name’ like Spectacular Stacy the visual art’s teacher. Ned always had a hard time coming up with anything better than “I am Nice Ned, your physical education teacher,”

Ned made his way over to the beverage station picked up a plastic cup, and poured himself a lemon-lime soda. As he was sipping on his drink, he saw her, she was wearing a simple white summer dress that flattered her hourglass figure, patterned with little blue forget-me-nots, her brunette hair brushing the top of her shoulders. Ned watched as she was introduced around by Mr. Holt.
“This is Miss Leslie English, she comes to us from Madison Elementary, Leslie will be taking over Mr. Jacobs’ 4th grade class this year,”
Ned spent the rest of the evening watching Leslie, his mind drifting off, daydreaming, wondering about what color panties she had on under that dress.


As the new school year started Miss Leslie English was full of excitement, a new school with new students, parents and peers. It was her favorite time of the year, a fresh start full of possibilities. She had enjoyed her eight years at Madison Elementary, but was ready for a change. She had gotten to that point where your looking out the window at the same view year after year and you feel that you need a new window to look through. So when Mr. Holt called her and offered her Mr. Jacobs’ 4th grade class at Hamilton she jumped on it.

Leslie enjoyed her job, her students and her friends, she dated occasionally but hadn’t made it a priority. Although embracing change this year she had signed up for a singles meetup, figuring she would try it out. If only to meet some new people.


With the school year in full swing, and everything going well in Leslie’s eyes she decided to attend her first singles meetup event. She entered the downtown community center at 7pm dressed in a conservative navy blue dress, with her hair pulled up into a french twist.
“Name?” the lady at the front table asked her.
“Leslie English,” she answered. The lady checked her off the list and handed her a name tag.
“Welcome and have a good time,”

She entered the main room it was dimly lit, there were a few tables scattered around the edge of the room, Whitney Houston’s One Moment in Time played softly over the PA system. Reminding Leslie of a middle school dance, she made her way over to the refreshment bar.
“What can I get you?” the good looking guy attending the bar asked.
“An Old Fashioned, please,”
“A classic drink for a classy lady,” a male voice said from behind her.
Leslie turned and smiled at the tall well dressed man.
“Hello, Leslie,” he said reading off her name tag.
“I am Rob,” he extended his hand towards her.
“Nice to meet you Rob, what’s your poison?”
“I’ll have a Whisky Sour,” he told the bartender.

They took their drinks to one of the tables and sat down.
“So Leslie what is your chosen profession?”
“I am an elementary teacher, what about you?” she asked.
“I’m in finance, I help people secure home loans,”
Linda Ronstadt’s Don’t Know Much started playing.
“Would you like to dance?” Rob asked.
“Why not,”
They headed out onto the floor where a few other couples were dancing.
“I haven’t done this in a while,” she said.
Rob put his arm around her waist and held her to him.
“It’s just like falling off of a bike,” he said as they moved back and forth to Linda’s duet with Aaron Neville. It was nice, Leslie let herself enjoy the moment.

Rob and Leslie spent the rest of the evening talking and getting to know one another. They even made future plans to go out to dinner one night soon.


“How’s it going?” Ned asked Leslie one morning in the teacher’s lounge. Which caught her off guard a bit, she hadn’t really spoken to Ned except in passing. She found him to be a nice, polite older guy that seemed to keep to himself.
“Oh, fine, the kids are already getting anxious for winter break, but you know how it goes,”
“Yes, I do,”
Leslie finished fixing her coffee and got ready to head to her room.
“Have a good day Ned,” she said heading out the door.
Ned looked around the empty teachers lounge, before taking a small flask from his pocket. He unscrewed the top and poured it down his throat. He coughed, screwed the cap back on and returned it to his pocket. Have a good day he mimicked to himself as he headed towards the gymnasium.

The air was crisp but not cold, so Leslie and Rob decided to walk the few blocks home from their dinner date. They had enjoyed a lovely meal of authentic lasagna, fresh garlic bread and red wine from the Little House of Italy Restaurant. They walked arm in arm down the empty streets enjoying each others company. When they reached the door of Leslie’s apartment building, Rob leaned in and kissed her gently on the lips. Leslie smiled and kissed him back.
“Good night,” she said.
“Good night,” Rob answered. He waited while she let herself into her building and headed up the stairs to her apartment.

When he felt that she had made it inside safely Rob turned to walk back towards the restaurant where he had left his car. As he left Slater Dr. and started down Birch St. he found himself on his knees with the back of his head throbbing. He felt someone run past him as he came to the realization of what had occurred.


Leslie spent the winter break with her family, it was good to catch up and visit with everyone. It was also nice to be coming home. She had arranged to have her neighbor Laura pick her up from the airport.
“Thanks again for the ride home,” Leslie said as they walked up the stairs of the apartment building.
“It was my pleasure, I am glad you got to go home for Christmas,” Laura said.
Leslie unlocked and opened her apartment door, she stepped inside putting her suitcase down and switching on the overhead light. She let out an exhausted sigh and said good night to Laura. She closed the door, flipping the deadbolt. She took off her coat and shoes, dragging her suitcase to the bedroom.

~ ~ ~ ~

Detective James Andrews walked up to the taped off area of the public dump.
“What do we have?” he asked the responding officer.
“Female between 35 and 40 years of age, approximately 5’7” 140 lbs. Found this morning by a Mr. Jacobs when he came to drop off some trash,”

Detective Andrews looked over the body, she was fully dressed, placed face down on the old discarded mattress.
“Turn her over,”
Laying under her was a dark blue pocket book. Detective Andrews thumbed through it to find an ID.
“Miss Leslie English, 37, brown hair, green eyes, 5’6” 135 lbs. Of 2450 Slater Dr. apartment D 21, how did you get out here?”

“Carefully bag her hands and I will go check out her apartment,” Detective Andrews said as he headed back to his car.

Unfortunately there weren’t any key’s found at the scene, leaving James to inform the leasing office of the apartments that one of their tenants had been found deceased, and getting a key to her apartment. He made his way up the stairs to apartment D 21 slid the key into the lock and opened the door.

“Excuse me,” a female voice said from behind him. James turned to face a pretty blonde young lady.
“Yes?” he answered.
“Why are you going into Leslie’s apartment, mister?”
“Detective Andrews, miss?”
“Price, Laura Price, is Leslie in trouble?”
“Are you close with Miss English?”
“Not really close, just neighborly,” Laura answered.
“I am afraid Miss English was found deceased this morning,”
“Oh, no that’s terrible, she was a nice lady,”
“If you think of anything, feel free to give me a call,” James said handing her his business card.

James entered Leslie’s one bedroom apartment, he took his time looking through her things. He glanced through the kitchen, nothing unusual. He moved through her living room and desk area, nothing stuck out as out of place or strange. It was all very typical. He went through the bathroom and hall closet, once again nothing noticeable. He entered the bedroom, there was a suitcase sitting next to the dresser, the bed was made, but looked as if someone had sat or laid on it. James kneeled down next to the foot of the bed and looked underneath.
“Ahh…” he said reaching his gloved hand under the bed to retrieve the item he found. He pulled out a small dark plastic bottle, wrapped it into the glove and slid it into his jacket pocket.

~ ~ ~ ~

“Forensic and autopsy reports on Miss Leslie English,” Officer Johnson said as he handed James the file.
“Thanks,” James said.
James flipped through the report. No sexual assault, trace amounts of Chloroform found on Leslie’s mouth and nose. Cause of death asphyxiation.
Chloroform bottle found at apartment partial thumb print match to NED SNEEDS.

James closed the file and grabbed his jacket. As he pulled up to the house at 390 Queen St. there was a patrol car and ambulance on scene.
“So what do we have?” Detective Andrews asks climbing the narrow staircase into the attic.
“Ned Sneeds, 52, dead of apparent drug overdose,” the responding officer said.
He looked over the body, picking up the empty bottle.
“Triazolam, he wasn’t messing around, did you find anything else?” James asked.
“There is a note, it was bagged and taken downstairs,”
James headed down the stairs. “Who called it in?”
“He did, he started confessing to the 911 operator, before the pills took him,”

James flipped the bagged note over.

To anyone that gives a damn,
I didn’t mean to hurt her, I just wanted her to pay attention to me. She never saw me, and I wanted her to SEE ME! I wouldn’t have hurt her, but she just wouldn’t listen to me. I went to her apartment to talk to her, I didn’t want to hurt her, but she didn’t SEE ME! She just walked right by me, and went into her bedroom. I just wanted to talk to her, but she didn’t SEE ME! I only brought the chloroform to calm her down. I didn’t mean to hurt her. But after I covered her mouth with the rag, she stopped breathing. She was just laying there on the bed not breathing. So I took her to the dump. -Ned

James spent the afternoon examining Ned Sneeds home, he wasn’t much of a housekeeper, but nothing that stood out as unusual. On the nightstand next to Ned’s bed was a scrapbook, James thumbed through the pages. Pictures of Ned and pictures of other women, most of them taken from a distance. Some rambling poetry describing the women in the pictures and what Ned would like to be doing with them.

Towards the middle of the book there were many pictures of Leslie, at work, walking through town, going into her apartment building. Then there was a picture of Ned naked on Leslie’s bed in her apartment. James closed the scrapbook.

Following Fireweed

“This had better be important, do you know what time it is?” Detective James Andrews answered the phone.
“James, I need your help,” a female voice answered.
“Please James, can you come?” Stella asked, her voice starting to quiver.
“What have you done Stella?”
“Please just come, I will explain everything,”
“I’ll be there soon,”
“Thank you, James,”

James hung up the phone laid back on the bed and looked at the alarm clock, the red display read 1:47am.
“Fuck,” he moaned as he got out of bed and stumbled to the shower.

“Hey, Tami?” James shook her shoulder, trying to wake her.
“It’s Tina,” she answered sleepy.
“I am sorry, Tina, I need to get going, so if you wouldn’t mind,” he gave her a smile.
She got up grabbed her clothes off the floor and headed towards the bathroom. James finished getting dressed and went to the kitchen to make coffee.

“No I am good thanks,” Tina said as she headed out the door.

I guess that’s a no on the second date then.
James poured the coffee into his travel mug, found his keys, grabbed his jacket and headed out the door.
~ ~ ~ ~
It was barely 5am when James pulled up outside of Stella’s extravagant two story colonial house. It had snowed the night before leaving the house looking like the front of a holiday card. James tapped the snow off of his shoes as he walked up the steps. He rang the doorbell.

“About time,” Stella said as she let James in.
“I don’t exactly live next door, Stella,”
“I know James, thank you for coming,”
“Drink?” she asked.
“It’s 5am, how about some coffee?”
James took his coat off and headed into the kitchen with Stella.
“Sit down, I’ll start a pot,”
Stella sat at the kitchen table and lit a cigarette. James started the coffee, and helped himself to one of her cigarettes.

“So how bad is it?” James asked taking a drag.
“Honestly, it’s bad, if I had any other options I wouldn’t have involved you,”
James poured two cups of coffee, dropped two scoops of sugar and a splash of cream in each and took them to the table.

“Ok, from the beginning Stella,” he said as he put out the cigarette and took a sip of coffee.

“Last night was our office holiday party. Mr. Bridges, Tom my boss, was hitting it pretty hard. We were all having a good time, I even did a few lines with Violet in the restroom,”

“I’m just going to let that slide, for the moment,” James said.

Stella took a sip of her coffee.
“Anyways, Violet and I were in the ladies room, enjoying ourselves, when Tom came in. He went into the first stall, did his thing and then he joined us. I offered him a line, we made out for a while. Then I walked him back to his office and put him on his couch and left,”

She lit another cigarette sitting back and taking a long deep drag. James got up and poured another round of coffee.

“Around 11:45 pm there was banging on my front door, it was Tom. He was going on and on about wanting me and needing to be with me. Charline his wife, had left him recently and he wouldn’t let up. I tried to talk him down, but he was so persistent. He was becoming more aggressive, I panicked and kneed him in the groin. You know the coffee table in the sitting room?”

“The solid oak one,” James answered staring into her eyes.

“That’s the one. He stumbled backwards and fell, catching the back of his head on the corner. I am pretty sure his neck is broken,”

“Jesus Christ Stella, way to bury the lead,”
James got up and walked into the sitting room, he turned on a lamp and looked over the scene. Stella followed.

“What do you think?” she asked.
“God Dammit Stella, I think you’ve waited to long to call it in. Kinda only leaves us with one option,”

James headed back towards the kitchen, Stella grabbed him by the arm, pulling him to her.
“James I didn’t mean for this to happen,” she put her head against his chest, he wrapped his arms around her, giving her a hug.
“I know, we’ll figure something out,”

~ ~ ~ ~
James and Stella managed to move Tom’s body out to his car. They put him in the passenger seat while James drove the SUV out to the boat landing. He parked the SUV down on the launch pad, moved Tom over to the driver’s seat and clicked the seat belt. He dropped it into neutral, closed the door, leaving all four windows slightly open, and pushed it down the landing and into the river. He watched as it flowed down river and then sank.

James walked back up the boat launch and got into Stella’s car. They drove back in silence. When they returned to the house they went upstairs to the master bathroom.

James stood in front of Stella, as she pulled off his shirt. She unbuttoned, unzipped and slid his jeans off of him. He lifted her shirt off over her head, and pulled her pants down to her ankles, letting her step out of them. James started the water, dropped his boxers and stepped into the shower. Stella took off her bra and panties, joining him.

They stood there for a moment letting the warm water wash away what they had done. Stella grabbed a cloth, squeezed some soap onto it and ran it across his shoulders and down his back. James dropped his head and let out a sigh.

Stella moved the cloth along the back of his arms and around his waist. James turned to face her, she continued to run the cloth over his chest and down his stomach. James took the cloth from her hand and ran it along her collarbone down her arms and across her chest.

He dropped the cloth and pulled her into him, kissing her deeply.

“I’ll take that,” Detective Benjamin Knowles said, gently removing the freshly discharged revolver from Maria’s hands. She had an utter look of confusion on her face as her eyes rolled back in her head and her knees buckled.
“Catch her!” Benjamin said to Officer Roberts. He caught her and laid her on the sofa.
“Well this is quite the mess,” Benjamin said looking over the crime scene that they had walked in on.
~ ~ ~ ~
Maria Olson had worked for Mr. and Mrs. Miller for almost ten years. She kept their single level ranch style home in order, cooking and cleaning. The house was nicely situated at the end of a cul de sac in the Highlines suburb. Mr. Jonathan Miller worked in real estate, specializing in commercial properties found around the city.
He had fallen in love with the ranch style home with large backyard and quiet neighbors, it was his little piece of the American dream. A home that he saw as an investment in his family’s future. He had meet Christine shortly after receiving his real estate licence, there had been a singles mixer put on by some friends of his, and he was introduced to Christine.
She was confident, beautiful and took his attention immediately. After a short courtship and engagement they were married and ready to start their future together. Christine spent her days in the city with her longtime friend Candice. They ran C&C’s Antiques and Collectibles in the art district downtown. Christine and Candice were roommate in college, becoming fast friends and then business partners, shortly after graduation. Christine had a head for business, and Candice had an eye for design making them a balanced pair.

Dinner Party

Christine answered the door.
“Welcome, come in,” she greeted her dinner guests. Candice and her husband Gary had a standing invitation to the Miller’s weekly dinner party.
“Are the Keller’s not coming this week?” Candice asked as she hung up her coat.
“No, Stacy has a migraine, or at least that’s her excuse this week,” Christine grinned taking Candice’s arm and leading her into the living room. Gary followed, making a beeline for the bar.
“Hey, Gary what can I get you?” Jonathan asked.
“Scotch, please,”
“So how’s the used car business treating you these days?” Jonathan asked sitting the glass down in front of him.
Gary downed the Scotch, and nodded for another one.
“That good, then,” Jonathan said pouring him another.
“It’s been a slow quarter,” Gary said.
This week’s dinner was a traditional pot roast with carrots and potatoes Along with a tossed green salad and french bread, paired with a Cabernet Sauvignon.
“Your table is gorgeous, and it smells amazing, as usual,” Candice said as she took her seat.
“Thank you, Maria has outdone herself this time,”
About half way through their meal, Candice leaned over towards Gary who was pouring his third glass of wine.
“Don’t you think you’ve had enough?” she said under her breath.
“No I don’t,” he said at full volume, making her sit back abruptly.
Idle chit chat was made about the real estate and used car businesses along with some gossiping about their mutual friends.
“Join me out on the patio?” Jonathan asked Gary as he got up from the table.
They headed out onto the back patio, Jonathan took out a pack of cigarettes and handed one to Gary, he flipped open his silver Zippo, lighting Gary then himself. Gary took a long drag, exhaling slowly.
“What a fucking week,”
Jonathan nodded in agreement. They stood in silence for a few, enjoying the cool night air, then Jonathan asked a question.
“Do you know Bryce Davis?”
“I don’t think so,”
“He has a…let’s call her a friend, that specializes in stress relief, she’ll cost you a little but she’s worth it,”
“Stress relief sounds like a good idea,” Gary said finishing off his cigarette.
As Christine and Candice were saying their goodbyes Jonathan slipped a piece of paper into Gary’s hand.
“Stress relief?” he asked giving him a smile. Jonathan gave him a nod and smiled back.
~ ~ ~ ~

Stress Relief

At 2:15pm there was a knock on Holly’s door.
“Are you Holly?” Gary asked.
“Yes, I am, who are you?”
“I am Gary, I talked to you last night,”
“Come in,” Holly said letting Gary in and closing the door behind him.
“Who gave you my name?” she asked as she laid two white towels across a massage table.
“Um…Jonathan Miller,” he answered clearing his throat.
“Well this is the table,” she said patting the massage table.
“Undress and get comfortable, I will be right with you,” she instructed as she walked into the other room.
“Ok,” Gary said as he took off his tie and unbuttoned his shirt.
“Are you allergic to Peppermint?” Holly asked from the other room.
“Um…I don’t think so,”
Holly came back into the room, with a bottle of peppermint oil. Gary was laying on his back with one of the towels draped over his hips.
She stood at the top of the table, leaning over looking into his eyes, she rubbed his temples. Moving her fingers in small circles, then moving her hands down the sides of his face, and around his chin. She splashed a little bit of peppermint oil on her hands and rubbed his shoulders, working her thumbs into the tense muscles.
“Breath Gary,”
Gary took a deep breath.
“Again, deep breath, and slowly exhale,”
Holly’s voice was soft and soothing, Gary took another deep breath closing his eyes. She moved down his arm working her fingers into his muscles, when she got to his hand she rubbed her thumb into the palm of his hand, and spoke.
“You are relaxed, each breath is getting lighter, each time you exhale you feel lighter,”
Gary took another deep breath and exhaled slowly, a shudder ran through his body.
“Good, now taste the peppermint,” she leaned over and lightly kissed his lips. He licked them, tasting the peppermint oil.
Holly moved to the bottom of the table and rubbed his foot, working her thumbs into the arch of his foot. She rubbed his feet, and legs working her way up to his chest.
“How are you feeling Gary?”
“What do you want?”
“To taste more peppermint,”
“Sit up,” she said. Gary sat up hanging his legs over the side of the massage table.
Holly took a peppermint candy, put it into her mouth and sucked on it. She stood in front of him, ran her fingers through his hair, put her hand on the back of his neck and kissed him. Opening her mouth and letting his tongue find the peppermint. She pushed the candy into his mouth.
“Yes, very good, thank you,”
~ ~ ~ ~


Candice picked up the pair of dark slacks that were thrown over the chair in the bedroom. Like she does every Thursday afternoon. She slid her hand into the pocket expecting the usual receipt or business card. This time it was a small folded piece of paper, with a name and number on it, she looked at the paper mouthing the name.
“Who the hell is Holly,” she said to the empty room.
~ ~ ~ ~
It was Friday afternoon and Candice still couldn’t shake the paper with Holly’s name on it.
“Do we know a Holly?” she asked Christine.
“What?” Christine said, being pulled out of the antiques magazine she had been reading.
“Do we know a Holly?”
“I don’t think so, why?”
“No reason, it’s just that I found this in Gary’s pocket,” she said holding up the slip of paper. Christine got up from her desk, walking over to the counter where Candice was standing. She looked at the paper.
“Well that’s definitely Jonathan’s handwriting, maybe she’s in the market for a used car,”
“Maybe,” Candice said, putting the paper into her handbag.
~ ~ ~ ~
Detective Andrews lit a cigarette as he approached the building that was being decorated with crime scene tape.
“James! James, I didn’t do this,” Holly said as soon as she caught sight of him. James quickly walked over to her, grabbing her upper arm and looking into her deep green eyes.
“Don’t say anything, nothing, do you understand?”
“Good, call Stella when you get downtown, don’t talk to anyone,”
She nodded as the officer escorted her out of the building.
“What do we have?”
“Gary Webb, 38 years old, 5’8” 245 lbs, according to his ID found in his clothes on the floor. Deceased, found on the massage table, by the resident Holly Henderson,”
James made his way over to the table, lifting the corner of the sheet and looking over the naked body.
“Make sure we get a tox screen, and get a photo of his mouth,”
~ ~ ~ ~

Two months earlier

Candice unlocked the door to apartment 21 on the second floor of the Laurence Street Apartments.
“You’re late,”
“Well coming up with believable excuses for your wife is getting difficult,” she said setting down her keys and purse on the bar.
“So what’s the excuses for today?” Jonathan asked walking towards her and putting his arms around her waist.
“Doctors appointment, I even had to fake a phone conversation with a nurse,” Candice answered kissing him.
“Well then we should play doctor then,” he said picking her up and carrying her into the bedroom.
He laid her on the bed, pulled her ankle boots off, slid his hands up her legs and unbuttoned her jeans.
“So where is the pain Miss?” he asked playfully.
“Right here,” she answered pulling him onto her and kissing him deeply.
~ ~ ~ ~
“You know what would make this easier?” Candice asked while she pulled her ankle boots back on and tucked in her blouse.
“What?” Jonathan asked.
“If we could just get rid of Gary and Christine,”
Jonathan stopped tucking in his shirt and looked at her.
“Do you have something in mind or are you just venting?”
“I have a plan,” she said giving him a devilish smile.
~ ~ ~ ~

Caffeine and Nicotine

James let himself in to Stella’s, taking his jacket off and joining Stella and Holly in the kitchen.
“How are we all doing?” he asked grabbing a cup of coffee.
“About as good as can be expected,” Stella answered.
“Holly, do you feel up to telling me what happened?” James asked taking a seat across from them.
“Yeah, are you going to take notes?”
“Sure, just a sec,”
James went back into the sitting room, grabbing his notepad and ballpoint pen out of his jacket pocket.
“Ok, go ahead,” he said sitting back down.
“I went to grab some food from Dentz’s Deli on 5th, I was gone for maybe twenty minutes,” Holly cleared her throat and took a sip of her coffee.
“What did you order?” James asked.
“Is that really important?”
“Not really, just curious,” James smiled at her.
“Pastrami on rye, with extra mustard, a garlic dill pickle, with a bag of chips on the side and a tall iced tea with a wedge of lemon, satisfied,”
“Yeah, go on, please,”
“I came back with my food, unlocked the door and there he was, just laying on the table naked, so I went over to him, he was dead,” Holly reached for Stella’s pack of cigarettes taking one out and lighting it with her shaking hand.
“Did you recognize him?”
“Yeah, he had come in a few weeks ago as a new client, Gary, but I hadn’t seen him since his first visit, and he was very much alive when he left,”
“Since you don’t exactly advertise, how did he get your name?”
“He said he got it from Jonathan Miller, he has a standing appointment twice a month, he can get a little freaky but I don’t think he’s dangerous,” Holly took another drag and smashed the cigarette out in the ashtray.
Stella got up and poured another round of coffee, James pulled a cigarette from the pack on the table, lit it, took a long drag and sat back in his chair.
“Ok, now seriously, how are you doing?” he asked taking her hand and giving it a gentle squeeze.
Holly smiled at him. “I’ll be fine, the bigger question is what do you and Stella have going on?”
“What makes you think something is going on?”
“Well considering you didn’t even knock, I assume your what, staying here?”
James looked at Stella who was trying not to laugh.
“Yes, for the moment I guess I am, staying here,” he answered.
“Good,” Holly said getting up and kissing James on the cheek.
“You know your good for her,” she whispered into his ear as she left the kitchen.
~ ~ ~ ~
James blinked trying to focus on the red numbers glowing on the alarm clock.
5:45 am
He mumbled to himself, he went to sit up realizing that there was an arm draped over his side. Picking up the arm gently he moved it off of him, expecting to see Stella next to him, he was surprised when he came face to face with a sleeping Holly. James got up quietly, crept to the other side of the bed and kissed Stella on the cheek. He looked at the two sisters sleeping soundly and headed into the bathroom to shower.
~ ~ ~ ~
“Background and autopsy on Gary Webb,” Officer Williams said handing the file to James.
James thumbed through the report.
Gary Webb
No arrests, no warrants
Works for Affordable Motors
Married to Candice Webb – co-owner of C&C Antiques and Collectibles
Cause of death:
Arsenic Poisoning
“Interesting and little old school,” he said to himself.
He checked to see who the other C is in C&C Antiques, Christine Miller.
“I wonder if she is related to Mr. Jonathan Miller,”
He pulled up Jonathan Miller’s info.
“Oh look at that she is, what a small, small world it is,”
~ ~ ~ ~

The Housekeeper

“Here you go Miss Olson,” Detective Benjamin Knowles said as he handed her a bottle of water.
“Are you feeling better now?”
“Si..yes sir,” Maria answered.
“So why did you shoot Mrs. Christine Miller?”
Maria opened the bottle of water and took a long drink.
“I hear Mrs. Christine and Mrs. Candice talking about hurting Mr. Jonathan, I like Mr. Jonathan he has been very good to me since I came here,”
“Did you tell Mr. Miller what you overheard?” Detective Knowles asked.
“I tried, to tell Mr. Jonathan but Mrs. Christine kept interrupting me, I was worried about Mr. Jonathan, so I took the gun from the office closet and I shoot Mrs. Christine, is Mr. Jonathan ok?”
“Yes, Mr. Miller is fine, Christine on the other hand is quiet dead,”
~ ~ ~ ~

Laurence Street Apartments

Candice’s hands shook she fumbled the keys, dropping them in front of apartment 21’s door. As she bent down to pick them up the door opened.
“Aww Mrs. Candice Webb I presume, won’t you join us,” Detective James Andrews held the door open for her.
“What, who are you and what are you doing here?” Candice asked surprised and caught off guard. Jonathan was sitting on the couch and Detective Benjamin Knowles started talking as Candice entered the apartment.
“Well your boyfriend here has told us an interesting story, about how it was all your idea to get rid of Gary and Christine,”
“What, no that’s not true, Jonathan, tell them it was that woman, that Holly,” Candice pleaded.
“Too late, he’s already signed a statement that puts you as the mastermind of the whole thing, how you poisoned Gary with arsenic, and then staged the scene at Holly’s, the only thing you didn’t count on was Maria shooting Christine, or was that part of the set up as well?” Detective Andrews asked as he cuffed Candice.
“Candice Webb you are under arrest for the murder of Gary Webb…” Officer Roberts continued as he escorted her down the hallway.
“So can I buy you a drink?” Benjamin asked James.
“Fuck yes,” James answered.
“I know this place, I think you’ll like it, it’s called ‘The Royal Flesh’,” Benjamin said as they left the Laurence Street Apartments.

Ginger and Spice

The light drizzle was now a full blown downpour as Detective Benjamin Knowles pulled into the parking lot of The Royal Flesh. Detective James Andrews pulled up beside him. They made their way into the strip club.
“Hey Bruce how’s it going?” Benjamin asked the ex-body builder that was watching the door.
“It’s all good Detective,” Bruce answered holding the door open for them.
“No cover tonight?”
“Let’s call it Detective’s night,” Bruce smiled as they passed into the warm air of the club.
“Come here often?” James asked as they took a seat facing the main stage.
“Once in a while, helps to wash away the day,” Benjamin raised two fingers in the air, and the bartender nodded.
“Once in a while,” James scoffed as he lit a cigarette.
“Hey Ben, how’s it going?” the waitress asked as she set down two glasses of Jim Beam.
“Oh you know it’s going, your looking good Tammy,”
“Thanks hun, let me know if you need anything else,”
“Who’s on tonight?” Benjamin asked as he took a sip of his bourbon.
“Your in for a treat, we have a new act going on tonight, they call themselves Ginger and Spice,”
“How festive,” James chimed in picking up his glass and drinking it down.
James gave the club the once over as he sipped on his second Jim Beam. A guy sitting at a table, chatting up a long legged blonde, next to the stage caught his attention.
“Fuck, I’ll be right back,” James said getting up and heading towards the guy.
“Hey Bryce, we need to talk,”
Bryce looked up from his chat with the blonde.
“Get lost blondy,” James said as he took a seat next to Bryce.
The tall blonde gave James the once over, shook her head and headed over towards the bar.
“What’s up Detective?” Bryce said lighting a cigarette.
“You need to lose our mutual friends number,”
“How is Holly these days?” Bryce said grinning.
James grabbed Bryce by the forearm, and looked him in the eye.
“Lose her number, she needs a break, your last client referral almost got her time,”
“Ok, fine,” Bryce said pulling his arm away from James.
As James returned to Benjamin’s table, the announcer came on.
“Let’s give a warm welcome to our newest duo Ginger and Spice,”
Two women walked out on stage, their stilettos clicking on the stage. Ginger had fiery red hair, she was wearing a burgundy button down cardigan and thigh high white stockings. Spice had long dark hair and was wearing a dark green button down cardigan and black thigh high stockings. The two of them strutted around the stage, taking turns spinning around the center poll. Then they stood side by side and slowly unbuttoned their cardigan’s. Swinging their hips seductively as they discard the cardigans. Ginger wearing a white lace bra and g-string, Spice wearing a black lace bra and g-string. They turned to face each other, Ginger put her hand on the back of Spice’s neck and pulled her in for a long, deep kiss. As they continued their striptease and time on stage James asked.
“I wonder if they’re sisters?”
Benjamin shot him a look.
“We can find out,” he said putting his hand in the air and motioning to Tammy.
“What can I get you?” Tammy asked as she approached the table.
“Ginger and Spice, please,” Benjamin said.
“Ok, give me a minute,”
Ginger and Spice came over to the table wearing their cardigan’s.
“Hello,” Ginger said.
“My colleague here has a question for you,” Benjamin said getting up and offering his seat.
“Where are you going?” James asked.
“Home, to my wife, have a good night,” Benjamin said leaving.
James smiled.
“So ladies, nice show by the way,”
“Thanks,” Spice said.
“You had a question?” Ginger asked.
“Yes I did,” James said lighting another cigarette and leaning back in his chair.
“Are the two of you sisters?”
Ginger laughed. “No, we’re not,”
“So how much for the night?” James asked.
“Aren’t you a cop?” Spice asked.
“I’m a Detective and I am off duty, so how much for the two of you?”
Ginger gave Spice a look then answered.
“Deal,” James said getting up.
“I’ll meet you two outside,”
~ ~ ~ ~
Jame stood in the parking lot of The Royal Flesh and lit a cigarette.
At least it stopped raining
Ginger and Spice exited the club by the side door waking from the alley to the parking lot.
Ginger had added a red and gold plaid skirt to her burgundy cardigan, Spice was wearing a blue plaid skirt with her green cardigan.
“Ladies,” James said opening the passenger door of his car. Spice sat in back and Ginger sat up front, James pulled out of the parking lot and headed towards his apartment.
~ ~ ~ ~
James unlocked the door to his modest one bedroom apartment, the ladies entered, giving it a quick look around and setting their bags down on the small kitchen table next to the door.
“Quaint,” Ginger said.
“Thanks,” James said heading into the bedroom. He returned holding six crisp one hundred dollar bills.
“Mad money?” Ginger asked taking the money and putting it in her bag.
“Something like that, drink?” James flipped the kitchen light on and grabbed the bottle of Jack Daniels out of the freezer.
“Sure,” Spice said standing in front of the counter. James poured three shots.
“Bottoms up,”
They each downed the shots.
“Smooth,” Ginger said sitting the glass back down on the counter.
James wandered into the living room, and over to the stereo. He pushed the power button and flipped the CD player on.
I’m so addicted to all the things you do
When you’re rollin’ round with me in between the sheets
Oh the sounds you make, with every breath you take…
Started playing, filling the apartment. James made his way over to Ginger he kissed her, she kissed him back and removed her cardigan and skirt. She took his hand and they headed into the bedroom, Spice took another pull from the bottle of Jack and followed them.
~ ~ ~ ~
James was startled awake by the front door falling closed. He sat up finding himself naked, laid out in the middle of his bed, the comforter and sheets pushed to the floor.
The room spun, he blinked trying to focus on the blurry red light of the alarm clock. It was flashing 12:00 am.
“Well that’s helpful,” he mumbled getting up to find out what time it was.
He stumbled into the living room, turning on the floor lamp, then rolling the knob back to dim. Letting his eyes adjust. He found his pants crumpled up on the floor and searched the pockets for his phone. Finding his phone he checked the time, 3:45 am.
As he got a bottle of water out of the fridge he noticed a small glass vile laying on the counter. He ran his finger through the fine white powder that was left on the countertop, he rubbed his finger onto the inside of his lower lip.
“Fuck, when did we do coke,”
James downed the bottle of water, took his phone with him back into the bedroom, picked up his comforter and passed back out.
The phone vibrated across the nightstand, James reached out from under the comforter and picked it up, Stella, he pushed ignore and put the phone back down.
~ ~ ~ ~
The phone vibrated again sliding around on the nightstand. James picked it up, Benjamin, he answered it.
“You alive, if so we caught a body,” Benjamin said.
“What time is it?” James asked.
“AM, PM and what day is it?”
“Jesus James, it’s Sunday 6:30 pm, are you sure your ok?”
“Yeah, I am up, send me the address,”
James got up showered, dressed, made coffee, popped some aspirin and headed out.
~ ~ ~ ~
James pulled up to the taped off alley. The raindrops stung against his skin and the chilly wind cut through him leaving him chilled.
“What do we have?” he asked approaching Detective Benjamin Knowles.
“Bethany Johnson, 22, 115, 5’4” found here in the alley,”
James went to look over the body, Officer Roberts pulled back the sheet that was covering her. James quickly turned away, managing a few steps before doubling over, losing the water, coffee and aspirin.
“Fuck,” Benjamin said walking over to him.
“Go home James,”
James made it into his apartment, kicked off his shoes, dropped his jacket and collapsed onto the couch.
~ ~ ~ ~
James awoke to someone rattling around in his kitchen, he moved to sit up.
“Relax it’s just me,” a female voice said.
“Holly, what are you doing here,”
“Bryce called me, said you had left with the floor show,” Holly said handing him a cup of hot tea.
James sat up taking the tea.
“Drink that and try to eat,” Holly sat a plate with a piece of toast with peanut butter on it and a banana down on the coffee table in front of him. James sipped the tea and slowly ate the toast and banana.
“What time is it?”
“It’s 10:30 am, Monday,” she answered taking a seat next to him on the couch.
She handed him a bottle of water and two aspirin.
“Those ladies party hard, rumor is that they lace their coke with Fentanyl,”
“Fuck, I don’t even remember doing any coke,” he said taking the two aspirin and downing the bottle of water.
James laid down, putting his head on Holly’s lap, she ran her fingers through his hair.
“Yes, James,”
“I am sorry, I let the job, Stella, you, and all of it get to me,”
“It will be ok, we all have mis-steps,”
“Thank you,”
“You’re welcome, sweetie,”
James fell into a deep sleep, as Holly sat with him, running her fingers through his hair and humming quietly.
~ ~ ~ ~
“James, Jaammess,”
James opened his eyes.
“Feeling better?”
“Yeah, a bit,”
“Good, I need you to get up, take a shower and eat dinner,”
“Is that what that smell is?” he asked. Holly gave him a look.
“It smells good, what is it?”
“Beef stew with lots of veggies,”
James got up and made his way to the bathroom. Holly started the shower, helped James undress and then joined him in the shower. James let the hot water run over him, as his headache was letting up and he was starting to feel like himself. Holly lathered up a washcloth, ran it across his shoulders and down his back. He closed his eyes enjoying the feeling. She worked down his body, he turned around to face her and she worked the washcloth back up his body.
“Rinse,” she said.
James rinsed off the soap and faced her.
“Can I hold you for a minute?”
She smiled at him and moved into him, he wrapped his arms around her naked body. He let out a sigh and she gave him a squeeze.
~ ~ ~ ~
James stepped out of the shower, Holly handed him a towel.
“There are some clothes on the bed for you,” she said leaving the bathroom.
“Ok, thanks,”
As he got dressed he looked around and realized that she had cleaned up his apartment while he was incapacitated.
Damn Holly
James took a seat at the table, she set a bowl of stew, along with some rolls down in front of him, along with another bottle of water. She dished up a bowl for herself and joined him.
“Thank you for everything,” he said reaching across the table and giving her hand a squeeze. She gave him a smile.
“You’re welcome, now eat, back to work tomorrow,”
~ ~ ~ ~
“Holly,” he said turning over to face her, as they laid on the bed.
He ran his hand over her belly.
“Are you pregnant?”
Holly moved her hand over his.
“Does Stella know?”
“Yes she does,”
“Are you…happy?”
“That is not the question you wanted to ask, but yes I am,”
James gave her a sideways look.
“You want to know who,”
“Well yeah,”
“Don’t you remember coming to my place during the summer solstices?” she asked.
“Oh my God, the look on your face,” Holly laughed giving him a kiss on the cheek.
“Relax it’s not yours,”
He laughed with her and gave her a hug.
“You know it wouldn’t matter if it was,” he whispered to her as he held her.
She kissed him on the cheek and whispered back.
“I know,”

Autumn Equinox

“Bless me father for I have sinned, it’s been three days since my last confession,” Sister Teresa said kneeling in the confessional at St. Anthony’s.
“Confess your sin my child and cleanse your soul,”
“I was weak father, the sins of the flesh over took my chastity,”
Sister Teresa pulled a handkerchief from the pocket of her skirt, she turned it over in her hands. Looking at the proof of her indiscretion. The white, lace embroidered handkerchief that had been given to her by her grandmother the day she took her vows was spotted with the blood of her sin.
~ ~ ~ ~
The clock clicked over to 7:00 am and started playing,
Do you remember the 21st night of September?
Love was changing the minds of pretenders
While chasing the clouds away
Our hearts were ringing
In the key that our souls were singing
As we danced in the night
Remember how the stars stole the night away
James reached out from under the comforter, giving the snooze button a smack.
“Ugh,” he moaned as he turned over to face the day.
~ ~ ~ ~
Detective James Andrews entered the downtown precinct with his coffee in hand.
“Morning Sir,” Officer Roberts said as James signed in for the day.
“Yes it is, what is that?” James asked pointing at Officer Roberts drink.
“This is a pumpkin spice latte, to mark the first day of autumn,” he said holding up the cup and smiling.
“You are aware that pumpkin spice anything doesn’t actually have pumpkin in it,”
“Yes Sir,” Officer Roberts said buzzing James in.
James sat his desk sipping on his coffee and flipping through an old case file.
Marco Bishop 47 years old, 6’5” 250 lbs
Cause of death myocardial infarction most likely caused by a stun gun or taser.
“Sir?” Officer Roberts interrupted.
“I hate loose ends,” James muttered.
“What is it Roberts?”
Officer Roberts handed James a slip of paper.
“Incident out at St. Anthony’s, Sister Teresa asked for you specifically,”
James took the slip of paper, his notepad, and a ballpoint pen.
~ ~ ~ ~
As Detective James Andrews made his way up to the front of St. Anthony’s a gust of wind scattered leaves from the tall oaks that surrounded the grounds of the church.
“Sister Teresa?” James asked as he approached the young woman who was being attended to by the responding officers.
“Yes, are you Detective Andrews?”
“I am, do I know you?” James asked taking a seat in the pew next to her.
The EMT was finishing up bandaging her right hand.
“In a way,” she said giving him a smile, and removing her habit.
James looked at her, trying to place the familiarity of her face and voice.
“Kimberly? Kimberly Williams, from Madison High School?”
“Wow you are good, yes, it’s been a while,”
“Yeah, you could say that, so why am I here?”
“Quick version is that I screwed up and now I have, for lack of a better term a stocker,”
“Maybe you should start at the beginning,”
“I will but can we do it somewhere else,”
“Sure, how about Mac’s Diner?” James asked.
“Sounds good, let me get changed and I’ll meet you out front,”
~ ~ ~ ~
James leaned against his car, smoking a cigarette and enjoying the cool but comfortable breeze. Kimberly exited St. Anthony’s wearing blue jeans, a white long sleeve t-shirt and navy blue kicks.
James looked her over as she approached.
“Nothing, you look like you were just released from a correctional facility,”
“In a way I suppose I have been, so lunch?”
James opened the passenger door for Kimberly.
“Thanks, still a gentleman I see,” she said getting into the car.
“Always,” James muttered walking around the car.
~ ~ ~ ~
“Ok story time,” James said as he finished off his BLT and steak fries.
“I’ve been restless lately, struggling with my vows and trying to decide if the ‘Sisterhood’ is the right fit for me,”
“Understandable,” James said taking a sip of his vanilla coke.
“About a week ago I went out to a club, I had a drink, and meet a guy, short version we spent the night together,” Kimberly took a deep breath and sipped on her soda.
“He wanted to see me again and I explained to him where I am in my life, that I am Sister Teresa that the night we spent together was wrong and that I wanted to move past it,”
“I take it that he didn’t feel the same way?”
“Not in the least, he was at the church this morning, he threatened me with a knife, which is how this happened,” Kimberly held out her bandaged hand. James pulled the bandage to one side, exposing the shallow laceration across her right palm.
“He lunged, I grabbed,” she said moving her hand back.
“Do you want to file a restraining order against him?”
“I think so, I’m afraid he’s not going to stop,”
~ ~ ~ ~
James and Kimberly entered the downtown precinct.
“You still working on that?” James asked pointing to Officer Roberts coffee cup.
“No Sir,”
“Good,” James said signing himself and Kimberly in.
“Take a seat,”
James pulled out a form.
“Simple your name, his name and reason for the requested restraining order,” James said handing Kimberly a pen.
She read over the form, filling in the information needed and handed it back to James.
“Ok, Kimberly Williams, filing against Anthony Costello, for threatening violent behavior,”
“I’ll get this filed and he will be notified, do you feel comfortable going home?” James asked.
“I think so,”
“If anything else happens, call,”
“Got it, thanks,” Kimberly said leaving the precinct.
~ ~ ~ ~
James filed a restraining order, but couldn’t shake the name Anthony Costello, like he’d seen it somewhere lately.
James pulled the Marco Bishop file back out and skimmed through the report from Marco’s apartment.
Prints found
Anthony Costello, known associate of Marco Bishop
James made a call to Detective Josephine Marks.

Seasons of Change

“The report on Bethany Johnson,” Officer Roberts said handing Detective Benjamin Knowles the folder.
“Thanks,” Benjamin said.
He took a sip of his coffee as he opened the report.
Bethany Johnson, age 22, weight 115, height 5’4”
Trace amounts of Fentanyl
Trace amounts of Cocaine
Cause of death asphyxiation
Blood Alcohol Content 0.10%
Benjamin closed the report and took a deep breath. He picked up the phone and called Detective James Andrews.
“Detective Andrews speaking,”
“Are you back to yourself?” Benjamin asked.
James smirked. “Yeah I am good, what do you have?”
“Bethany Johnson, I think she may lead to something,”
“You have my attention, what are we looking at?”
“I have a guy from vice, who’s been undercover for a while, he may have a connection to Miss Johnson,”
“Sounds promising,”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The desk phone buzzed, “Sir you have a visitor up front,”
“Thanks, I’ll be right up,”
James entered the front of the downtown precinct, Officer Roberts pointed to a tall fit guy, with shoulder length hair, wearing a leather jacket, and jeans.
“Can I help you?” James asked.
“Well actually I am here to help you, Detective Daniel Hayes, vice,” Detective Hayes extended his hand towards James.
“You’re Detective Knowles’ undercover guy,”
“Guess that’s one way to put it,”
“Come on back, lets see if we can’t connect some dots,”
“We’ll use this one,” James said as he held the door open to conference room C.
“The doughnuts are stale but the coffee is hot,”
“I’m good thanks,” Daniel said taking a seat at the conference table.
“So what do you have?” James asked sitting across from Detective Hayes.
“After Marco Bishop turned up dead, a low level thug named Tony Boy started running drugs through the strippers at The Royal Flesh, I was already in with Bishop so when he disappeared I got chummy with Tony, I’ve been his runner for the last six months,”
“The drugs being pushed by the strippers are laced with Fentanyl?”
“Yeah, nasty stuff, how’d you know that?”
“Had some first hand experience with Ginger and Spice,”
“Damn, those two party hard, Bethany was my CI, she was in tight with Katie, the woman that hires the strippers at the club, after my run the other night I lost track of her,”
“How close are you to making a case?”
“Close, I’d like to set a raid on The Royal Flesh at the end of the month, especially with Bethany turning up dead, I am afraid Anthony Costello is about to jump,”
“Wait who?”
“Anthony Costello, he’s Tony Boy, I think he’s about to bounce,”
“Fuck, I just filed a restraining order against him, he attacked a nun at St. Anthony’s,”
“Damn, that may change a few things, if anything does come up give me a call,” Daniel said handing James his card.
~ ~ ~ ~
James pulled up outside of Stella’s house, he put the car in park and wondered who the Harley parked in the driveway belonged to. He got out and lit a cigarette, taking a deep drag he walked by the bike.
Fuck, looks like a Dyna Wide Glide.
James let himself in, took off his coat and made his way towards the kitchen, where a chorus of voices were chatting away.
Stella was making a fresh pot of coffee, Holly and her guest were sitting at the kitchen table.
“Small world,” James said as he recognized Detective Daniel Hayes.
“Hey, apparently,” Daniel said slightly caught off guard.
“I see introductions aren’t needed,” Holly said getting up from the table and walking past James.
James caught her eye and mouthed, him? On her way back to the table with the fresh pot of coffee she whispered.
“Yes, him,”
James cleared his throat and took a seat at the kitchen table.
“Nice Harley it is a Dyna Wide?”
“Yes, actually it is,”
“Well dinner should be interesting,” Stella said taking a seat next to James, placing her hand on his thigh and rubbing her thumb back and forth. Jame gave her a smile.
“Yes it should be,”
~ ~ ~ ~
James brought the rest of the dinner dishes to the kitchen sink.
“Dinner was good,” he said giving Stella a kiss on the cheek as she was wiping down the countertop.
“Thanks, and thank you for being civil with Daniel,”
“He’s ok, just not who I pictured Holly with,”
“They’ve known each other since school and she’s happy, so I am happy for her,”
James wrapped his arms around Stella and pulled her into him, he kissed her.
“Aww…but are you happy?” he asked giving her another kiss.
“Yes, James, I am happy,” she answered kissing him back.
His phone buzzed, James let out a sigh and looked to see who was calling.
He gave Stella another kiss on the cheek and walked out to the patio to answer the phone.
“James,” the voice was faint and broken up.
James tried to hear the voice on the other end, but couldn’t make out what was being said.
He came back inside and joined the others in the living room.
“Who was it?” Stella asked.
“Don’t know I couldn’t hear them,”
Daniel’s phone rang, he answered it getting up and walking towards the front door.
“Yes Sir, I understand,”
“Actually he’s here with me,”
“Just a minute,”
Daniel handed James the phone.
“It’s Benjamin,”
James took the phone.
“The two of you need to get over to St. Anthony’s now,” Benjamin said.
“Yes, Sir,”
James hung up the phone, and handed it back to Daniel.
~ ~ ~ ~
Detective Daniel Hayes and Detective James Andrews arrived at St. Anthony’s shortly after 9 pm, as an Officer was taping off the front of the church.
“What happened?” James asked approaching the church.
“Dead body, in the kitchen, all the way back and to the left,”
Daniel and James entered St. Anthony’s walked down the corridor and took a left.
“James…I had no choice,” Kimberly said tears welling up in her eyes as she pointed over to the body slumped over in the corner.
“Is that Tony Boy?” James asked Daniel.
Daniel walked over to the body and looked it over.
“Yep, and he is most definitely dead,”
James took a seat across from Kimberly, she reached for his hand and he gave hers a light squeeze.
“Whenever your ready?” James said.
Kimberly cleared her throat and began.
“I was in here making some tea when he came up behind me,” She kept looking over to the body.
“Hey, look at me,” James said. Kimberly looked up at him, he gave her a slight smile.
“Ok, just tell me what happened,”
“He grabbed my habit and pulled it off of my head, then he pushed me up against the counter and was saying things, not good things, nasty things,” Kimberly’s hands started to shake as she spoke, James held her hands in his and rubbed his thumb over the back of her hand.
“You’re doing good, take a deep breath,” James watched her as she inhaled and then exhaled slowly.
“I threw my head back and I hit him in the face, he took a few steps back, the knife was just there on the counter, I picked it up and turned to face him,” She looked at James.
“What did I do?”
“It’s ok, what happened after you turned around?”
“He screamed and lunged towards me, I don’t think he even saw the knife, he grabbed my neck and was squeezing, the knife sunk into him when he came towards me, his hands fell away and he stumbled back, he looked down and pulled the knife out, he dropped it and fell back, I tried to call you,”
“I know, it’s ok we’re here now, are you ready to go to the hospital?”
“I think so, James, what did I do?”
“It will be ok, let’s go,” James said helping her stand up and walk out to the waiting ambulance.
~ ~ ~ ~
“Fuck,” James said coming back into the kitchen.
“Quite the mess,” Daniel said.
Photographs were taken, evidence was bagged and Anthony Costello’s body was taken away.
“What time is it?” James asked as they headed towards the car.
“Half past midnight,” Daniel answered.
They drove back to Stella’s in silence, the house was quiet when they entered.
“Drink?” James asked.
They made there way into the living room, James turned on the lamp in the corner and headed to the bar. He poured two glasses of Jameson, he handed one to Daniel, they both downed the first drink and poured a second.
“So how long have you know Holly?” James asked lighting a cigarette.
“A while, I went to school with her and Stella, do you mind?” Daniel asked pointing to the pack of cigarettes on the bar. Jame handed him the pack, Daniel took one out and James held out his lit Zippo.
“One more for the road?” James asked holding up the bottle of Jameson. Daniel slid his glass over and James poured.
~ ~ ~ ~
James crawled into bed and wrapped his arms around Stella, kissing the back of her neck. She let out a moan and pushed into him.
“I love you,” he whispered.
“I love you too,” she muttered in her sleep, he held her tight and went to sleep.
~ ~ ~ ~
Detective James Andrews looked down at the slip of paper, that he held in his hand. He took a drag of his cigarette and mumbled to himself.
Why am I out here
The wind screamed through the surrounding trees, causing a cascade of yellow and orange leaves. James glanced at the clock on the dash, 8:05 PM, he turned the key back and stepped out into the chilly air.
It had better not snow
He thought as he pulled his coat tight and flipped up his collar. He made his way to the tall rod iron gate and found that it was slightly ajar. Pushing the gate open just enough for him to enter the Stony Hill Cemetery, one of the oldest cemeteries in the area, the last of its residence were buried in the late seventies.
“Detective,” a male voice said from behind James.
James turned around and faced the strangers voice.
“I assume you are the one that left me this rather cryptic note,” James said.
The man moved closer his face pale, with dark circles under his eyes. When he spoke James got a whiff of the alcohol on his breath.
“I need to tell someone…I haven’t been able to sleep since that night,”
“Since what night?” James asked keeping his distance.
“Since the night…we killed Marco Bishop,”
“Would you like to explain that statement, maybe somewhere warmer, how about Mac’s Diner?”
“Sure but not Mac’s do you know Henry’s?”
“Yeah that’s the one out on Riverside right?”
They made their way back to the main gate of Sony Hill Cemetery and drove out to Henry’s Bar & Grill.
~ ~ ~ ~
“So do you have a name?” James asked as they walked into Henry’s.
“Huh…oh yeah,” he cleared his throat then answered.
“Detective John Keen,” John extended his hand and James gave him a quick shake.
James rubbed his hands together, as they took a seat at a booth towards the back of the restaurant.
“At least it’s warm in here,”
“Welcome to Henry’s, what can I get you to drink?” a perky young brunette with curly hair asked as she set down two menus.
“Two coffee’s to start, thanks,” James said.
~ ~ ~ ~
“Ok, explain yourself, Detective Keen,” Jame said finishing off his bacon cheeseburger, taking a sip of his coffee and leaning back.
John finished his burger, cleared his throat and took a sip of his coffee.
“Detective Josephine Marks and I had been watching Marco for a few weeks, the plan was to gain access to his apartment and arrest him, but it didn’t work out that way,” John sat back and took another sip of coffee.
“So what went wrong?’
“Fucker had a heart condition, I tased him and he died,”
“Who’s idea was it to move him?”
“Fucking, Special Agent Thomas Ridge’s” John replied.
“The FBI was in on this?”
“Apparently Detective Marks and Agent Ridge had plans that I was unaware of at the time,”
“Two things, why bring this up now and what do you want out of it?”
“Josephine and Thomas are in the wind, they were having an affair before all this went down with Marco, all I want is to clear my name officially and get back to work,”
“So you want to make a formal statement to the DA?”
“Yes, I wasn’t sure who was handling Marco’s case, hence the anonymous tip, can you help me?”
“I can make a few calls, but I suggest that you give up the bottle and go to a meeting, before you sit down with the DA,” James said flipping over the tab and tossing a twenty on the table.
“Can I drop you off somewhere?” James asked as they left Henry’s.
“No, I am going to walk this off, maybe hit the 10pm meeting out at the community center,”
James fished out his card from his coat pocket and handed it to John.
“Give me a call on Tuesday, we’ll see what we can figure out,”
John nodded and started walking back towards the center of town.
~ ~ ~ ~
John lit a cigarette as he left the community center. He had finished his third consecutive AA meeting in two days. He was heading towards the downtown precinct to catch up with James when he heard the squealing of tires from behind him. John instinctively turned towards the sound, the speeding black SUV struck him tossing him into the air. His limp body fell back, onto the cold asphalt as onlookers called 911.
~ ~ ~ ~
“Mail call,” Officer Roberts said as he handed James a large manila envelope.
James opened the envelope and pulled out a police file with a note attached on top.

As a precaution this is my statement and all the info I have on the Marco case.
I know Josephine and Thomas screwed me over in all of this.
I’m trying to do the right thing.

“Detective Andrews you have a call on line two,”
James picked up the phone.
“This is Detective Andrews,”
“Hello, this is nurse Rebecca Miller from the Community Hospital, we have a Mr. John Keen in ICU, he had your card on him,”
“So you figured you would find out why,”
“Yes, Sir, we can’t find any listing of next of kin,”
“How is he?”
“He’s in a coma Sir,”
“Thank you for the call, I’ll see if I can find any family in the area and get back to you,”
James hung up the phone and took a deep breath.
~ ~ ~ ~
“Are you going to the hospital?” Stella asked turning over and watching James get ready for work.
“Yeah, going to stop by before going in, see how John is doing,”
“Still nothing from his family?”
“Nope best I could find was a distant cousin that didn’t have a clue,”
“Well take a scarf it’s going to snow today,”
James leaned over the bed and kissed Stella on the cheek. On his way out the door he grabbed the navy blue scarf from the front closet and tossed it around his neck. The air had a definite bite to it this morning, even with the sun shining and the sky a bright blue. James could feel the approaching snowstorm in the distance, as he got into his car and drove to the hospital.
“Back again Detective?” Nurse Miller asked as James signed into the ICU.
“Yep, any change with him?”
“Nope, he’s still the same,”
James walked down the hallway to room 5, he lightly knocked on the door and then entered. Detective John Keen laid on the bed, lost in a coma since being hit by a speeding SUV three weeks ago. James pulled a chair up to John’s bedside and took a seat.
“How’s it going John, you know it’s almost Thanksgiving, and Stella says it will finally snow today,”
James took a deep breath and looked at John.
“I see they finally got around to shaving that sad excuse of a beard for you, Oh John I do hope that you wake up soon, I hate seeing you this way,”
James patted John’s arm as he got up to leave, he put the chair back against the wall and left room 5.
~ ~ ~ ~
James entered the downtown precinct around 9am.
“Morning Sir,” Officer Roberts said.
“Morning,” James said reaching for the pen to sign in for the day.
“Sir,” Officer Roberts held out a slip of paper.
“Yes Sir, just came in,”
James took the slip of paper, glanced at it, turned and headed back out the door. James sat in his car looking at the slip of paper.
It’s to fucking early for this.
As James pulled up in front of The Downtown Outreach Center, snowflakes started to lightly cover his windshield.
“Of course,” he mumbled getting out of the car. As he made his way up to the entrance of the building someone caught his eye.
“What are you doing out here?” he asked, Detective Daniel Hayes who was in the middle of a conversation with a distraught looking older lady wearing a pink cardigan.
“Excuse me, for a moment,” Daniel told the lady.
“Morning to you to James, I got a call from an old buddy of mine,” Daniel said walking over to James.
“So what’s the deal?” James asked lighting a cigarette and offering Daniel one.
“The Outreach Center serves breakfast to the homeless folks in the area at 8am,” he said taking a cigarette and lighting it.
“When the volunteer staff came in this morning to set up they found one Special Agent Thomas Ridge dead in the lobby,”
“Fuck,” James said taking a long drag of his cigarette.
“Figured I would get some info before the feds take over,”
“How long till they get here?”
“They will be here by 11am,”
James finished his cigarette and headed up to the doors. Thomas Ridge’s body was laying in the middle of the lobby. James walked around it looking over the area, he slipped a pair of gloves on and looked over the body.
No visible gunshots, or stab wounds, nothing on or around the neck or back of the head.
James ran his finger in between the bodies lips, they were a slight shade of blue with some light bleeding of the gums.
“Hey, get a photo of this,” James asked the crime scene photographer.
“And his hands, especially his nails,” James instructed getting up, taking off his gloves and heading back out to the entrance.
“Well that’s a mess, have fun with the feds,” James said heading back out to his car.
“Where are you going?” Daniel asked.
“To the office, need to find someone,”
~ ~ ~ ~
“Fuck,” James mumbled to himself as he continued digging into Detective Josephine Marks life. Deceased parents, not married, no children. But one older sibling a Barbara Marks of 2137 Old Riverside Drive.
I wonder…
Detective James Andrews grabbed his notepad, ballpoint pen and his jacket. He brushed the accumulated snow from his windshield, got in and turned over the engine.
Walking in a winter wonderland.
In the meadow we can build a snowman…
Played on the radio, James switched it off.
It’s way too early for that.
James pulled up outside of a small single level house, he flipped open his notepad and double checked the address.
Barbara Marks
2137 Old Riverside Drive
James made his way through the freshly fallen snow to the front door, and rang the bell.
A tall shapely blonde woman answered the door.
“Yes, can I help you?”
James held up his badge as he introduced himself.
“Detective James Andrews, Ms. Josephine Marks, we need to discuss a few things. May I come in?”
Josephine let out a sigh and held the door open for James.
“Have a seat Detective…”
“Andrews,” James said taking a seat on the rust colored sofa with a faded gold floral print. The small living room had a musty aroma to it, the dark wood paneling and green shag carpet made the room darker than it was. Josephine flipped the light switch and an old brass floor lamp came on in the corner, she took a seat in the well worn easy chair across from the sofa.
“So what do you want to discuss?”
“Detective John Keen and Special Agent Thomas Ridge,” James said looking her over.
“What about them?” She asked lighting a cigarette.
“There’s a rumor that the three of you disposed of Marco Bishop’s body, any comment on that?”
Josephine took a deep drag and looked James in the eye.
An older lady with frizzy gray hair, wearing a white cotton nightgown came wandering into the living room from the hallway.
“Bobby is that you, did you remember to get the milk?”
Josephine quickly put out her cigarette and rushed over to the woman.
“That’s not Bobby,” Josephine said taking her confused sister by the arm and leading her back towards the hallway.
“Bobby?’ James asked as Josephine returned to the living room a few minutes later.
“Her son, he’s 35, married and lives about 2000 miles away,”
“And she is?”
“She is my older sister Barbara, she’s suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s, she has good days and bad days, today is a bad day,”
“All I know is that Special Agent Thomas Ridge is a hard man to say no to, he hit John with his SUV after he found out that John was talking to you, how is John?”
“In a coma,” James answered.
Josephine blinked back tears, trying to keep her emotions in check.
“Do you know what happened to Thomas?” James asked.
Josephine gave James a sly look.
“I am done talking Detective,” Josephine said moving towards the door.
“I’ll be back, by the way blonde suites you,” James said as he headed out the door.
~ ~ ~ ~
“You ok?” Stella asked James as they got ready for bed.
“What, yeah, just thinking,” James answered heading over to the bed.
He pulled the comforter and sheet back and laid down. Stella moved over next to him, she laid her head on his chest.
“Anything you want to share?”
“Been thinking about getting out, maybe going the private route,”
“That may not be a bad idea,”
James kissed the top of Stella’s head.
“I’m glad you think so, as soon as I can wrap up this mess with John and Special Agent Ridge, I am going to give notice,”
~ ~ ~ ~
“Morning Sir,” Officer Roberts said as James signed in.
“Yes it is, do you have anything for me?” James asked.
“Yes Sir, the report on Special Agent Thomas Ridge,” Officer Roberts handed James the file.
James sat at his desk reading over the findings.
Thomas Ridge cause of death poisoning by Rodenticide ‘Rat Poison’ lethal amounts found in the bloodstream. Forensic findings from under fingernails to be human skin, DNA match to one Josephine Marks.
~ ~ ~ ~
Two Weeks Later
“Detective Andrew you have a call on line two,” Officer Roberts said over the intercom.
James picked up the phone.
“This is Detective James Andrews,”
“Hello, it’s Nurse Miller, John Keen is awake Detective,”
“Good, how’s he doing?”
“He’s asking for you Sir,”
“Ok, tell him I am on my way over, and thank you,”
“You’re welcome, I’ll let him know,”
~ ~ ~ ~
James knocked on the door to room 5 and opened the door.
“So did I miss Thanksgiving?” John asked sitting up and looking much better.
“Yeah, I am afraid so,” James said pulling the chair to the bedside.
“Oh well, I don’t really like turkey anyways, what’s the date?”
“December 7th,”
“At least I didn’t miss Christmas, so what’s been happening?”
James gave John a smile and started filling him in on everything that he had missed.