Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2018

Archive for the category “Homicide”

Throwback Thursday from Dec. 2015 – “What Is That Smell?”

 

 

Throwback Thursday from Dec. 2015 – “What Is That Smell?”

 

toxic AvengerI’M A PRETTY EASY GOING GUY – at least I try to be. I’m a firm believer in a “Live and Let Live” approach to life. That said, there are some people I want to take outside and pound the living crap out of.

The one who comes to mind is a complete stranger.

As you have already figured out, if you have followed this blog for more than a week or two – I start off too many days down the street at St. Arbucks having my morning coffee. I look upon that time as precious to me. It is a time for me to creep, unassailed, into the day. Recently my time for quiet reflection and contemplative folderol has been attacked by one particular yutz.

The Yutz of whom I speak comes into the sacred Chapel of St. Arbucks carrying with him a toxic cloud of the “Cologne From Hell.” I thought things like that had been outlawed decades ago by The Geneva Convention, along with Mustard Gas and Chlorine Gas.

When he comes through the door my eyes begin to water, my lungs burn and my chromosomes start to reshuffle the genetic deck.

I cannot imagine that he thinks that his choice of Cologne actually smells good. Birds fall from the sky when he passes. Kittens are born with extra paws. Cacti curl up and die.

One day he passed within mere feet of where I was sitting and, I swear, his vapor trail changed the prescription on my glasses.

After he leaves with his coffee I have seen people crawl to the door on the opposite side of the building, gasping for air like a Carp that has been left on the shore for 20 minutes. It is not pretty.

Where does he buy this cologne? I think it is called “Eau de Beelzebub.” I’m sure that I have never seen it displayed in any store with one of those little free sampler bottles. One spritz of that and the store would call in a Haz-Mat team. He must get it online from somewhere in North Korea. No friendly nation would ever send it across our borders.

I’d wager that this walking Zone of Death must live and work alone. Who would ever, in a million years, move in with him, let alone work with him? All I can think of is that he must live under a bridge somewhere near the sewage treatment plant and work as a telephone solicitor.

At the beginning I said that I wanted to take him outside and throttle him – that is not true. I have a life that I would not want to jeopardize by possibly making actual physical contact with him. Getting too close or, Heaven forbid, actually touching the skin that has been toxified by his cologne must be the equivalent of stuffing a thousand pounds of nuclear waste in your trousers and then rolling around in a wading pool filled with Mountain Dew.

Like I said, I’m a gentle soul and easy going guy, but whenever I see that guy coming I want to call in an airstrike.

Someone told me that I should say something to him about the…stench is too mild a word…the…Instant Gag Reflex Trigger, tell him that it is a bit strong. I would be willing to do that if I didn’t already know that, in close proximity to him, I lose the ability to speak. All I can manage are incoherent squeals and glottal spasms.

Being the peaceful person that I am I have, so far, resisted the effort being made by some others to raid the “tip jar” and hire a hitman.

All I can say is that this fellow is becoming the Johnny Appleseed of Civil Unrest and Coffee-Loving Vigilantism. Pray for us.toxic cloud

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Fiction Saturday — “Boxer” — Part Five

 Fiction Saturday — “Boxer” — Part Five

 

Boxer

by John Kraft

 

 

“I’ll let you in, but I don’t have to like it.”  –Gloria Dumbaugh

 

“No. No. No. Are you crazy, Terry?  What are you thinking? This man has been shot? He’s not a lost puppy You can’t just bring him home.”

Gloria was pissed.

“I don’t know what else I can do, Hon. He’s my Boss. Look, he’s out cold. I got something I gotta do. Just a few minutes. He won’t be any trouble, I promise. Just keep him on the bed.”

“Our bed you mean.”

OK, on the couch then. I gotta go. It’s important.”

“Terry, he’s been shot. What if he dies on me? What then?”

Terry ran his bandaged fingers through his hair. He wanted to run away. “He won’t die. Doc patched him up. See all that tape? He’ll be good as new in no time.” He set the shirtless, unconscious man on her couch. “Hon, I really gotta go. I’ll bring you back some ice cream.”

“Terry, No, you can’t…” She stopped. She knew it was useless. “Butter Pecan.”

Terry took the Cadillac. He wished it was his. Maybe someday. He parked in the alley behind Walker’s office, right back where it had been before all this mess started.

Inside Walker’s office nothing had changed. The dead guy hit with the shotgun was still dead and was going to stay that way. The Fat Guy by the door was…where was he? Terry started to sweat again and talk to himself.

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Fiction Saturday Encore – “A Safe Place” – Conclusion

Fiction Saturday Encore – “A Safe Place” – Conclusion

A Safe Place 

revolver3

“Show me. If you didn’t kill her, who did?”

He pulled out one of the photos and held it up facing me.

“He did,” he said, pointing to the dark haired man who was younger than either of us and in a lot better shape.

“Him,” I said? “What makes you think it was him? Just because he was…” He interrupted me before I could finish my sentence.

“He told me he did it.”

Off in the distance we both heard sirens. He looked at me, an anger beginning to build in his eyes.

“Did you tip off the cops that I was here?”

“No, I didn’t. I didn’t tell anybody, but you better talk fast. They’re getting closer. He told you that he’d killed your wife? When” Why?”

“I told you. While I was in jail.”

I nodded, not knowing what else to do to get him to keep talking.

“After you showed me these pictures in your office. Again, I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, yeah – go on.” The sirens were getting louder. “I think your neighbors are nosier than you thought.”

“Well, after I left your office, I went down to the bar down the block. A guy accidentally bumped into me and I hit him, hard. The barkeep called the cops and I spent the next 72 hours in lockup.”

“But what about him,” I said, pointing to the naked guy in the picture? “Talk faster.”

“Him? He was one of the cops who pulled me off of the guy in the bar. He knew who I was and the next day, with me in restraints, he told me that he’d killed her a few hours after they’d hauled me in. He said that he went to see her, told her about the pictures and me being arrested. They argued, she pulled a knife on him, and it went to hell from there.

“He said that it was fun, what he did to her. Then he beat me up while I was tied to a chair.”

He teared up.

“I was released when this filthy animal did my bail. He wanted me out. If I was out when she was discovered they’d come looking for me first thing. You know that. It’s always the jealous husband. He needed me out on the streets. I was his alibi.”

The sirens had stopped and I could hear them coming up the stairs like a herd of elephants. I looked at Cumberland. He was rocking back and forth on his toes, not knowing what to do next.

Four cops came through the open door, guns drawn. I recognized one of them, even though he had his clothes on. He was smiling.

“Nobody move. You – drop the pistol if you want to live.”

I did, so I did.

“How did you know he was here,” I asked? 

“We didn’t, but we knew you were. Cumberland, you are under arrest for the murder of your wife.”

“I didn’t do it.” He was getting really agitated. I hoped he wouldn’t snap.

While the smiling cop started to read Cumberland his rights, one of the other cops took out his cuffs and moved toward the much smaller man, still in his apron.

“Stay away from me. That one,” he said, pointing at the now outright grinning cop by the door. “He’s the one who killed her, not me.” He moved around to the other side of the table. “No, stay away from me.” Cumberland looked at me for help. I was no good.

It was like watching at a cat play with a cornered, terrified, mouse. Looking at the two of them I finally believed Cumberland’s story.

“Stay away from me,” he said. Crazy and desperate, Cumberland grabbed the still hot dish of lasagna and threw it at the cop.

When the steaming mess hit the cop square in the face, he screamed in pain, and the no longer smiling cop, who I now finally believed was the killer, opened fire, hitting Cumberland square in the chest.

The shooting inquiry report read “Justified.”

———

I hate jobs like this. Snooping into bedroom windows; taking grainy photographs that are going to make somebody cry and somebody else walk out the door. Only this time two somebodies got carried out.

The End

toe tag

Fiction Saturday Encore – “A Safe Place” – Part Five

Fiction Saturday Encore – “A Safe Place” – Part Five

 

A Safe Place

lasagna On my way through the lobby I peeked into their mailbox – nothing – and a chill ran down my spine. By now that box should have been stuffed with junk mail if nothing else.

The yellow “Crime Scene” tape was still stretched across their door. I could taste my lunch again.

I was hoping that I was wrong, but when I grabbed the knob and it turned, I knew that I wasn’t. I took my weapon out of my pocket. My palm was sweating, along with everything else.

Considering what Cumberland had already done, I was scared about what I’d be up against when I opened the door. I’m no superhero. I’m just a guy with limited corporate world job skills trying to keep myself fed.

I turned the doorknob as slowly as I could, hoping it wouldn’t squeak. When I pushed the door open a crack I could see that a light was on somewhere in the apartment. I could smell something too – something familiar – Lasagna? It smelled like one of those frozen lasagna dinners I buy myself. And garlic bread. I could hear someone singing.

When I stepped inside the front room I could tell that the smells and the singing were coming from the kitchen near the rear of the apartment. I headed that way moving from area rug to area rug to cover my footsteps. The dining room table was set for one. A bottle of Chianti was open next to a single wine glass.

I stepped into the kitchen doorway. The floor creaked and Cumberland turned around. He was holding the lasagna with both hands. He had on two red oven mitts and an apron asking me to kiss the chef. I passed.

 I thought he would look surprised, at least, or maybe throw the steaming lasagna at me – but he didn’t. He didn’t move. He smiled. That I didn’t see coming.

“I heard you come in. I’ve been expecting you, sooner or later. Would you like some lasagna? There’s plenty.”

I’m standing in this guy’s kitchen with my gun aimed at his guts and he asked me to join him for supper.

“I’m not hungry.” That was a lie. “I have to take you in. You know that.”

“Yeah, I know. But, like I said before, I didn’t do it. How could I kill her? I loved her. Can you believe that?”

“Even after I showed you those pictures of her and…?”

“I know. That really hurt me. I guess I knew it already that she was playing around, but your pictures – that hurt.”

He had tears in his eyes. He wiped them away with the oven mitt.

“And I’m sorry about your office. I just went nuts. But I didn’t kill her. I couldn’t have killed her – even though…. I can prove I didn’t kill her.  I have an alibi.”

“What kind of alibi?”

“I was already in jail.”

“What are you talking about – in jail?”

He smiled again and started moving toward me. I lifted my revolver and aimed it between his eyes.

“Stop right there, Cumberland. Don’t get any closer or I will shoot you dead.”

He stopped. “Can I just set this down? It’s getting heavy and it is hot. These are cheap oven mitts. I’ll put it down on the table and I’ll back up. OK?”

It seemed like a reasonable thing to ask. “OK, but no funny business. I’m a good shot.” That was lie too. I’d be lucky to hit him at all even though he was only five feet away. I hoped that my shaking knees weren’t obvious.

He did like he said. He put the lasagna down on a straw trivet, then went back to where he started. He closed the oven door and threw his mitts on the range top. I didn’t like his additions to our agreement. I told him so.

When he crossed his arms and leaned against the stove I asked him, “You were already in jail? What kind of line are you trying to hand me?”

“I’m trying to hand you the killer – if you’re interested. Are you interested or are you just going to shoot me and close the case?

My knees stopped shaking and my heart started pounding.

A Walk On The Wild Side

I DID SOMETHING TODAY THAT I HAVE NEVER DONE BEFORE in all my 120 years. It was risky some people told me. A close friend pleaded with me not to even try to do it.

“You may not get out alive.”

Don’t you just love a little Hyperbole? At least I was hoping it was Hyperbole.

I decided to not take any unnecessary chances – so I took my wife, the lovely and ever so courageous, Dawn, with me.

On our first travel day, as we headed off to Georgia, we threw all caution to the wind and – brace yourself – had dinner at “The Waffle House.”

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Chapter 38 Continued

Fiction Saturday

“Dominic, killing us won’t solve anything,” said Laura. “What’s done is done. I’m sorry, but I didn’t know that Graciella was the law. I ran away from you because I wasn’t going to take you beating up on me anymore. If I’d wanted you dead all I had to do was ask my father and you’d have disappeared.”

“Yeah, well, I’m sorry about hitting you, Beverly. You know something, Bette? Beverly here has a mean one-two punch. She knocked out a tooth of mine once. See, back here.” Dominic opened his mouth and pointed to a gap in his teeth with the barrel of his gun.

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Chapter38

Fiction Saturday

Chapter 38

 

A fresh batch of tourists were getting off the train and heading for the border. A few walked toward the McDonalds, but saw the yellow crime scene tape and turned back to join the flow to the crossing gate.

Laura flipped off the light switch and closed the Cambio door behind her. They looked up and down the street. Nobody was paying them any attention. Laura took Davis’s arm as they casually crossed the plaza. She idly swung the plastic shopping bag holding $180,000 worth of forged documents and the file folder from Molina’s office. They looked just like a couple of tourists heading home after a day of shopping in Tijuana. They made a beeline for the nearest open door on the waiting red train.

They started to step up into the car when a uniformed San Diego police sergeant started coming down and blocked their way. Laura and the officer made eye contact. After what felt like an hour, the officer stepped back up into the car.

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Chapter 37

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Thirty-Seven

 

       Lizard Boy smiled as Laura and Davis walked over to the metal storage shed.

“Things are better at the border. They’re opening up again,” he said to them in his usual staccato style.

A small, stocky man with strong Mayan facial features, held open the door to the shed and motioned them all inside. His face exhibited several prison tattoos. He was bare-chested and wearing a leather vest. His coppery skin showed a number of scars. He had a large knife sheathed on his belt and over his shoulder was slung an AK-47, the Third World’s weapon of choice. In his left hand, he held a fresh caramel Frappuccino.

“I’m glad you liked my coffees,” he said. “Just like I used to make at Starbucks. Good, huh? Well, bien viaje, amigos.”

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Chapter 36 Continued

Fiction Saturday

Chapter 36 Continued

pull-tijuanaOutside, the sun was beginning to go down and an offshore breeze was finally cutting through the hot and hectic city. The shopping-mad tourists were heading home and the drinking-mad tourists were arriving. The mood in Tijuana was changing, like it did everyday at this time, from commercial cordiality to alcoholic depravity. The zebra-painted donkeys that pulled small carts along the avenidas so tourists could have some unusual pictures to take home to Iowa, were being replaced by other donkeys for another kind of entertainment that Tijuana was famous for.  

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Fiction Saturday – And Pull The Hole… Chapter 31 Continued

Fiction Saturday

Chapter 31 – Continued

pull-border-mcd“That’s two Egg McMuffins’ with cheese and two coffees, and thank you for visiting McDonald’s, Buenos dias.”

“And buon giorno to you.”

Laura picked up the tray and turned around to look for Davis.  He had found them a table by the wall.  The restaurant was already half filled and would soon be packed, just as Vivian had predicted.

“Here we go,” she said.  “Oh, could we switch seats?  I want to be able to look out of the window.”

“Sure, no problem,” said Davis.  They traded places.  Davis could see the side door that opened onto the small parking lot and Laura could scan the entire plaza.

As she poured a pink envelope of sweetener into her coffee, Laura’s eyes picked out the good guys and the wise guys.

“Vivian was right.  This plaza is overloaded with cops and I see three guys that might be Dominic’s boys and two more over on that bench back by the train.  He must have called in reinforcements.  I don’t recognize them.  Damn!”

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All I Want Is Everything Done My Way

ok1I’M NOT PICKY. REALLY, I’M NOT. I just like things done the way I want. Is that too much to ask? I think not. When things are not going the way I like, I tend to get cranky. This morning is a case in point.

The time: early this morning – about 6:45 AM. It is still dark outside. It is 30 degrees colder than it was yesterday at this time and I haven’t had my coffee yet.

When I stepped out into the cold the motion detector light mounted by the door does not go on so I have to inch my way to the car. It rained last night and there are patches of ice everywhere. Things are not going well and I am already starting to growl softly.

I made it to the car, turned the key to start it up and I am immediately blasted by 150 decibels of the Zak Brown Band. I must have not turned it off last night.

After putting my heart back in my chest I enjoyed the peaceful drive, all two blocks of it, to St. Arbucks – my oasis, my refuge, my aerie to let me observe the world below.

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Fiction Saturday – And Pull The Hole… Continued Chapter 31

Fiction Saturday 

 

Chapter 31

pull-traffic-borderThe traffic heading south on Interstate 5 was heavy, as usual.  Every day of the week thousands of cars and trucks drive from the United States into Mexico through the crossing at San Ysidro, the last little community before the border.

All manner of merchandise goes over into Mexico by truck.  A much narrower range of cargo comes back the other way.

The United States Border Patrol has the unpleasant and futile duty of trying to stop the flow of illicit drugs and other contraband that spews across the border by the truckload every day.  Their best tools in this struggle are highly trained dogs and years of experience in spotting drug mules—the the people who attempt to cross into the U.S. with bundles of narcotics strapped onto, or ingested into, their bodies.  They get caught at the border with stunning regularity.  The drug wholesalers who send them don’t seem to care, because they know that even the small number who do squeak past the dogs and the eagle eyes of the Border Patrol make it an incredibly profitable method of transport.

As a result, the crossing at Tijuana is one of the most heavily-monitored international borders between two countries that aren’t actually shooting at each other, although that is starting to happen as well.

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Fiction Saturday – And Pull The Hole… Continued Chapter 30

Fiction Saturday

 

Chapter Thirty

 

pull-motel“Kids, I’m sorry.  I’m really sorry.”

Vivian was near tears.  Davis was numb.  Laura was torn between comforting Vivian, trying to keep Davis from going into shock, and keeping watch on her own boiling pot of anger and fear.

“Vivian, I don’t blame you,” she said.  “It was just bad luck.  We’re all safe.”

But she did blame Vivian in a way.  She blamed herself as well, for accepting Vivian’s dangerous invitation in the first place.  She thought that, maybe, they weren’t all that safe, not any longer.

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Fiction Saturday Chapter 29- “And Pull The Hole In After You” – Continued

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Twenty-Nine

 

escherHorton Plaza looked like the love child of Rube Goldberg and M.C. Escher.  Seven levels high with a hundred and forty shops, restaurants and touristy boutiques, all connected by stairs, escalators, ramps, and glass elevators.  The entire structure was painted in a full palette of pastels, with multicolored banners, flags, and flowers fluttering in the soft ocean breezes.

High up on Level Seven, in a choice corner location, was The Captain’s Table restaurant.  It had everything that a family on vacation from Nebraska could ever want—a  six page menu offering seafood delicacies named for every exotic locale on the globe, several tons of nautical-looking adornments made in China, and decals on the front door promising the acceptance of all major credit cards.

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Fiction Saturday Chapter 28- “And Pull The Hole In After You” – Continued

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Twenty-Eight

 

atlantaLaura gathered up the dishes as Davis toweled himself dry in the bathroom.  She had showered first, standing under the steaming water for fifteen minutes, crying there so Davis wouldn’t see her fear manifested yet again.

“Davis, while you’re getting dressed I’m going to take the dishes back to Vivian.”

“Okay,” he called from the bathroom, “and thank her for me too.”

Vivian saw her coming across the parking lot and hit the door buzzer to let Laura into the small office.

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole In After You” – Continued

Fiction Saturday –  Continued

Chapter Twenty-One

 

pull-apartment-bldgHe stood by the door of his apartment building slowly going through his mail. Everything was addressed to him as either Mr. Davis Lovejoy or, all too often, as “Occupant.”  Mixed in with the junk mail and the bills was a plain white envelope with no return address.  It was postmarked the day before.  He opened it slowly.  It was almost as if he expected it to explode.  Inside was a single sheet of notepaper—the same notepaper he had seen taped to the mirror in Laura’s apartment.

“Meet me in the arboretum in Golden Gate Park, tomorrow at ten a.m. – at the Moon Viewing Platform.”  It was signed with a simple ” L.”

“My God.  What is going on here?  Crazy notes?  Secret meetings?”

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Throwback Thursday from December 2015

Throwback Thursday 2What Is That Smell?

toxic Avenger

I’M A PRETTY EASY GOING GUY – at least I try to be. I’m a firm believer in a “Live and Let Live” approach to life. That said, there are some people I want to take outside and pound the living crap out of.

The one who comes to mind is a complete stranger.

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Fiction Saturday – And Pull The Hole In After You – Continued

Fiction Saturday – And Pull The Hole In After You – Continued

Chapter Six

 Pull Golden Rose

“It’s $1500 a month or $750 every two weeks, if you want.”

“I see.  Is it month-to-month or is it on a lease?”

“Month to month, week to week, day to day if you like, but I don’t care for leases,” said the young man behind the counter.  He really hated dealing with the renters.

“Is it quiet?  I mean, it’s not a lot of noisy neighbors?”

“What’s quiet?  Look, lady, you’ve seen the apartment.  Do you want it or not?”

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Fiction Saturday – And Pull The Hole In After You – Continued

Fiction Saturday  – “And Pull The Hole In After You” – Continued

 Chapter Five

Pull fed officeAt roughly the same time, in an office in the Federal Building, a group of thirty FBI agents was collecting in a 24th floor conference room.  The recessed fluorescent lighting made them all look slightly green.

At the front of the room stood a man with too much gray hair for someone his age.  He was waiting for the arriving people to settle so he could begin.  The people upstairs had handed him an assignment.

“Okay, everybody, listen.  Hey!  The dancing monkey is at the front of the room here.  Pay attention, this is important, and even better, it’s something different.”

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Fiction Saturday – And Pull The Hole In After You – Continued

Fiction Saturday – Continued

Chapter Four – Continued

 

pull patioDominic shifted uneasily in his patio chair, cleared his throat, leaned closer to the Old Man and decided to take his chances with the truth—sort of.

“When she left, sir, she also took some money I had in the house.”

“How much?”  The Captain’s eyes focused coldly on Dominic.  Missing money was serious business.

“Six hundred large,” Dominic whispered.  The Old Man cupped a hand to his ear, straining to hear.  Dominic had to repeat it, louder.  “Six hundred large, sir.”

Everybody on the porch perked up.  One of the young men let out a low whistle.  The Old Man shifted in his chair and stared at Dominic for what seemed like a minute before speaking.

“That’s a lot of money, Dominic,” he said softly.  “Why do you have so much in the house?  Where did you get it?  You have a little action going on the side I should know about?”

“No, sir.  I’m just careful with my money.  I’m … thrifty.”  Dominic could feel that his shirt was damp and beginning to stick to his skin.

“Cheap, you mean,” chuckled the Old Man.  Reflexively his musclemen joined in. Dominic squirmed and tugged at his shirt collar which had suddenly become too tight.

 “It’s for expenses, sir.  To pay my boys…and I like to have some cash for emergencies and, you know, opportunities.”  This was getting more uncomfortable by the minute.

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