Second book in the series
Case Files of Smith and Jones: The Cat-Loving Killer
Angela K. Durden — Alias/Pen name: Durden Kell
Attorney: Jelani Miller
j m i l l e r @ t h e m i l l e r l a w g r o u p dot c o m
404-974-9583 or 404-781-0794
Excerpt: 3500+/- words (Currently at 24,000 words)
Overview of Goals for the Case Files of Smith and Jones Series:
A. Series publication, or individual books published
B. Movies or TV shows to be based on these
Week One: Wednesday Evening —Step One
Only a bitch.
He smiled at the words as he watched her walk up to him. She thinks the smile is for her — and it is — but only he knows it is the smile of revenge. Today, this evening, she will have her last date, her last meal, her last fun ride.
“Ready, baby?” she said to him. “It’s been so long since I’ve ridden The Great American Scream Machine. I’m so excited.”
He watched her femininity pour toward him; that had been what had first attracted him. She hooked her arm through his. She rubbed his back as they stood in the line. She sat on the railings guiding the snaking line of eager riders toward the cars. He had never met a woman like her. So intensely female. He smiled, his thumb circling a spot on her back, remembering other times he touched her tightly in a passionate embrace.
Yes, this is where the blade will go.
She kissed his cheek. He stroked hers.
“Only a bitch” will look so nice written on that smooth cheek of yours.
He planned to stay in the park until dark had settled into every corner of it. She would expect a romantic stroll. He would give her the most romantic stroll of a lifetime; hell, the last romantic stroll of her lifetime for sure. She would get only what she deserved.
“Baby! It’s our turn. Come on.” She grabbed his hand and pulled him toward the roller coaster car. They buckled in, she tucked her purse under her right thigh momentarily pitching her to the left and closer to him. The chain engaged in fits and starts pulling the train to the top of the first high arch. They hung at the precipice and she giggled, raising her arms straight above her head.
“Look, baby! No hands! Wooooo!”
She screamed as the car plunged. Her screams could be heard by everyone around them, not that they were listening because they were screaming, too. But he didn’t hear the wind whipping past his ears. He didn’t hear the clatter of the cars. He didn’t feel the herk-and-jerk as they plunged, climbed, and turned. No, he only heard and enjoyed her screams and he smiled. For in his mind they were the screams of her death. Screams she may as well enjoy now because she would not scream when she died.
He watched her breasts — her perfect, perfect breasts — bounce in time to the car hitting the rails. He remembered other times they bounced above him. He felt her long, silky, blonde hair striking his face, and he remembered other times her hair fell, softly covering his eyes. And in spite of himself — God help him! — he was aroused even knowing what he knew, even as he despised what she was, even knowing her deception, her lies, and her fate…her well-deserved fate soon to be delivered at his hands.
The cars pulled into the station. He heard the laughter of children, mothers, fathers, lovers, and friends. She unbuckled him, gave him a little wink as her hand accidentally brushed his arousal.
She whispered into his ear, “Better get that under control there, big boy. The kiddies might see.” She laughed, stepped out of the car, and held her hand out to him. He got himself under control, took her hand, and she pulled him up from his seat so he could feel her strength. The second thing that had attracted him, a strength that turned him on, a strength he had craved even…was it only three days ago?
He stepped out of the car and laughed at her strutting along beside him. What kind of human was this that could do these things to a man? He refused to think about it further. He had loved her. He had! Truly. Madly. No other woman he had ever known came close.
And then this…this betrayal. No more. Never again. No man would go through what he had. It wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair. It should be stopped. It could be stopped. It would be stopped. And the first step to ending the charades would start in three hours.
Week One: Thursday, Late Afternoon — Frank’s New Life?
Two weeks after the end of the Case of the Cotton Fiber Snuff Tape, the phone rang in Al’s office. He listened for a few minutes. Asked a couple of questions. Took notes. He pressed the button on his phone disconnecting the call and punched another button. Frank’s phone rang; he picked it up, slowly bringing it to his ear. Distractedly he drawled yeah.
Al said, “Our presence has been requested.”
“Now. I’ll drive.”
“Six Flags over Georgia.”
Frank hit send and shut down his email program. “Inside the park?”
“What we got?”
Al holstered his weapon as he spoke into the speakerphone. “Dead body. Female.”
“Why do they want us?”
“They said we would have to see it to believe it.”
Frank put his keys in his pocket. “She fall off the Superman ride or something?”
“They wouldn’t say. Just that she was dead and we would have to see it.”
“K. See you downstairs.” But Al didn’t hear Frank because Al had already hung up.
It took them an hour and a half to get to the park. The evening’s rush hour traffic going out I-20 West was never easy. The setting sun boring into drivers’ eyes only made it worse. They finally arrived; Al showed his badge to the parking attendant, all of whom had been advised more law was on its way. They drove to the back gate, parked, walked to the back entrance and showed badges a second time. They were waved through.
They heard a young woman ask, “GBI, right?”
A young executive type with a two-way radio was fast bearing down on them. They nodded. She said into the mouthpiece, “They’re here. On our way.” Then to Frank and Al she said, “Follow me.”
She walked quickly and kept looking back to make sure they didn’t get lost in the crowd. Each time she was satisfied they were keeping up with her, she picked up the pace.
Al said, “Must be bad.”
Frank agreed as they climbed the hill beside him. “Usually is when we’re called.”
The young woman stopped and waited for them to catch up. She pointed to what they thought was a bush but was actually a well-concealed path used by park personnel to get to the business end of the machinery. When they stepped through, a paved path led them to a gate. They walked through and saw the activity. No wonder the park had not been closed. The public couldn’t see this, the trees hid the view from above.
Local LEO’s shook hands with them silently then simply stepped back so Frank and Al could get their first view.
Sitting on the ground against a tree was a woman. She had once been gorgeous but a little too much cosmetic surgery had turned her features somewhat plastic and now the features were gnawed by rats and other night creatures. She had been there less than twenty-four hours. Park records showed the last time personnel had been back there. They wouldn’t have missed this, that’s for sure.
“What the hell?” Al said, whistling low.
Frank said. “Damn.”
The local law enforcement officer said, “Exactly.”
Frank said, “You don’t understand. We just finished with a case that…Al, what are the odds?”
Al shook his head and shrugged his shoulders.
No, the woman wasn’t that interesting. But what was written in red lipstick all over her naked body and on her face and on a sign hung around her neck was very interesting.
Only a bitch.
Frank rubbed his face with his hands. It had been a long day and was getting longer by the looks of it. He asked the local, “Okay. What we got here?”
Local shook his head. “No I.D. No clothes. Obviously posed.”
“Obviously. Manner of death?”
“Knife in the back. But here’s the thing. You can see she didn’t put up a fight. It’s like she sat there, you know, voluntarily or something.”
Al said, “Drugged probably. Knife on the scene?”
“Nope. Coroner says the knife had a long, thin blade. The wound itself —”
Frank asked, “Only one wound?”
“Yeah; one. The wound itself – I mean, I looked at it. Not a lot of blood. Very clean edges. Knife had to be very sharp.”
“Nothing else to indicate —” Frank began.
Local interrupted. “Why don’t you go see for yourself.” He pointed to the body. Frank and Al walked over to her.
They nodded to the coroner who leaned the body forward for them to see as he explained. “Of course, once I get her on the table and do a more thorough exam I should be able to tell you more. But I can tell you that this was one posterior thrust, delivered like this…”
The coroner leaned the woman back against the tree and returned himself to an upright position. He pulled a pen out of his pocket and held it in his right hand as if it were a knife. “See how I got the knife held in my fist with the blade pointed up?” He stepped up to Frank, and hugged him. Frank felt the tip of the pen on his back. “Now, I’ve got the blade positioned and ready to go into your heart. Even with the knife as sharp as it was, this is still not an easy killing position. It would take someone strong to deliver the knife cleanly, and…uhh…you know…accurately, in one thrust— through this woman especially.”
Frank and the coroner stepped apart. “Why you say that?”
“This woman is very muscular. Not a lot of fat on her at all. So whoever did this not only had to subdue her, deliver the killing strike, keep her quiet and hold her up while she died, remove the knife, and be able to lower her to the ground.”
Al repeated, “She had to be drugged.”
The coroner nodded. “I agree. I’ll let everybody know, of course, for sure. And one more thing.”
“I can’t say for sure what’s wrong…off…about this woman, but this is not your typical woman. Which makes this whole thing even more bizarre.”
Frank tilted his head toward the coroner. “What do you mean by that?”
“Look. I’ve seen a lot of bodies on my table and I’ve seen some weird shit. But…I don’t know. I’m gonna have to get her on the table and figure it out. I mean, I keep wanting to call her him and I can’t tell you why.”
Al nodded as Frank spoke for both of them. “She don’t look like a him. But okay. Thanks.”
Al and Frank walked back to the local. He said, “See? What’d I tell ya? Now ya see why we called you in?”
“Yep.” Frank stretched his shoulders. “When can we get the full set of pictures?”
“My guy is still getting pictures. Forensics are being collected. Uh, I’m thinking pictures…in a couple of days? Coroner? Hang on.” He yelled at the coroner, “How long before you get her wrote up?”
They looked at the coroner while he thought. He yelled back, “Five days max. Some things I wanna check means I gotta keep her that long. That okay?”
Local looked at Frank. Frank nodded. “Sure. Fine. We can run fingerprints for you. See what we come up with.”
“Hey, that would be great. I’ll get a copy of those to you tomorrow.”
Al handed him his business card. “Okay. Email them to me. Send a hard copy to follow in the mail.”
“Gotcha. Well, I got to get back to it. You’re welcome to hang around.”
“Yeah, I think we will. Al, are the flashlights in the trunk?” Al nodded and left to go get them. Frank turned back to Local. “Have you told the park to get all footage from all their security cameras?”
“Yeah. They’re working on it. Footage is kept for one week, so shouldn’t be a problem. You want a copy of that, too?”
“Yeah. But listen, tell them we want all the footage from the last seven days.”
“I’m not sure. It seems to me that this was a well-thought out crime. The sign material doesn’t look like it is something he could have found lying around the park. So he had to bring it in. The chain holding the sign around the neck is connected through machine drilled holes. Can’t carry the machine in. Had to get the chain somewhere. Had to do it all before he got here. I can’t imagine him carrying the sign in with his victim. So maybe he brought it another day and stashed in behind a bush somewhere.”
“You got all that this quick?”
“I got more. Lipstick. When did he bring it in? Looks to me like there’s enough on her he may have used two tubes. How’s he gonna carry her clothes away? Did he take her clothes or did he dump them in the trash —”
Local interrupted. “Guess we need to go through the trash?”
“Yeah. Smart idea.”
“I’ll get some of the kids from the academy out here. Let ’em get a taste of real police work, huh?” Local and Frank laughed. They remembered their days doing the same nasty work for their superiors.
“Yeah. Even smarter.” Frank yelled to the coroner. “Can you tell us the brand and shade of the lipstick?”
“I can’t. I usually send that to your lab.”
“Yeah. Right. Forgot. Send a sample over to us.” Frank knew Tweeter could handle that. “Get the recruits on the trash now, not tomorrow. Have the park stop all garbage pickup until that’s done. Me and Al will poke around a bit here. We’ll let you know if we find anything.”
“Sure. Any help is appreciated. This is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen. I mean, a murder at Six Flags Over Georgia. Whodda thunk it, you know? The wife’s gonna have a fit.”
Local left to do his job. While Frank waited by the gate for Al to return with the flashlights, he simply stood there wondering how this man got into a locked gate without spooking his victim, did the crime, locked up behind himself, and got away. He felt confident the footage from security cameras would probably show the whole thing and they could release a picture of the bad guy and the victim and get some quick answers. Easy-peezy. Case closed.
Al arrived a few minutes later with flashlights, gloves, and evidence bags. They spent the next three hours going over the scene, picking up anything that might be evidence, discussing it, committing the scene and their overall impressions to memory. They left the park around nine-thirty that night. Al dropped Frank at his car and left for home. Frank stopped in at Melton’s App and Tap for a late dinner and a drink.
Mike was behind the bar. “Frank. Your usual?”
“Yeah, Mike. Thanks.”
“Be right up.”
Frank chose a stool against the wall at the far end of the bar. He sighed deeply and leaned back. He checked his phone. A text message from Carmelita had come in while they were bagging evidence. He could only now read it.
Hey, baby. Hope you’re doing good. Call me in the morning. Lunch tomorrow? Love you.
It was too late to reply, so he didn’t. She understood. He’d call her in the morning. Mike placed the Pale Ale in front of him. “Shot with that tonight?” At Frank’s nod, he poured a generous shot of Fireball Whiskey and placed it next to the glass.
Mike wiped the counter beside him. “Long day?”
“Yep. Been a long three months, actually.”
“I knew I hadn’t seen you much. Where you been?”
Frank smiled. Mike said, “You got a woman. Oh, man. You know I done told you about that kind of trouble. Now why’d you go and ignore my advice?”
Frank laughed. “You should take your own advice, my friend. How’s Maria?”
“Now, see…you young guys just don’t get it. See I can give you this advice because I got the scars to prove what I’m saying.”
“How’s Maria, Mike?”
“She’s fine. You want me to tell her hello for you?”
“You poor sap…tell me about this woman of yours.”
Frank gave him the short version. He told him how Carmelita Oliveira had found a piece of evidence to a horrible crime. She brought it the GBI. They met. They fell in love. They were going to marry, but first she had to divorce the jerk.
“Oh, hell no. Don’t tell me she’s married. You are a poor sap. Kids, too, huh?”
Frank smiled again.
Mike rolled his eyes and went to the kitchen to get Frank’s dinner. Frank heard him yell, “You’re asking for trouble.” When Mike placed his dinner in front of him, he asked, “Did you solve the crime?”
“Sure did. Solved several crimes in several states, actually. Bad guys are dead, too.”
“Hell, yeah. That’s what I’m talkin’ ‘bout!” He held out a fist to Frank. Frank bumped his fist to Mike’s. “Did you blow them away? No? Oh, well. Hey, save the taxpayer’s money anyway we can, right?” Mike left to serve two customers who walked in. Frank picked up his shot glass and contemplated the amber liquid. He breathed in the aroma, touched the glass to his lips, and snapped his head. The mellow burn slid down his throat and warmed the rest of his body. Slowly and deliberately he sat the shot glass on the counter and quietly began to eat.
He knew Carmelita would write him an email. He’d read it before he went to sleep. He liked to get her emails. He slept easy when he read her thoughts about marriage, kids, life…and their upcoming life. He knew living in a house with kids would not be easy. He’d never had any, had never wanted any, but he loved Carmelita and if her children wanted to live with her after the divorce, then he wouldn’t stop them from being with their mother.
Her kids were already teenagers, so it wasn’t like he was going to have to do carpooling or changing diapers or any of that shit. But he would love their mother and he would let them see him loving the woman they only knew as the mom that had never been loved by their father.
Frank finished his meal, left a twenty and a five on the counter, waved to Mike, and walked out the door.
Week One: Friday Morning — Carmelita’s Strategy
The night before, Carmelita Oliveira finished writing her daily email to Frank. She shut down the computer after logging off her internet email account and walked downstairs into the livingroom. Martin, her soon-to-be ex-husband, was sitting in the living room. He looked up at her and smiled. The smile stopped her in her tracks. He never smiled at her, and this smile had not reached his eyes. All morning she wondered what he was up to. She found out when she filled her car with gas.
Rather, when she tried to fill it because but her credit card was declined. The first time she put it in the machine on the pump she thought it was a glitch, hit cancel, waited for it to reset, and tried again. But after the fourth time she realized something was wrong that a reset couldn’t fix. She walked into the convenience store, stood in line, and asked them to run the card from inside and turn her pump on.
Three times inside it was declined, too. She pulled out another card. Same story. She pulled out the debit card to the family checking account. Insufficient funds. She smiled knowingly, thanked the young man for his help, and walked back out to the pump. She pulled out her own debit card. She held her breath until she saw it was accepted.
Damn son of a bitch. So he wants to play hard ball, does he?
Carmelita had a little surprise of her own for him, though she would never tell him about it. For years she had been putting back cash in a savings account in her own name in a bank they did not share. A savings account that was going to pay, not only for a wonderful and long trip for the two of them on their twentieth anniversary, but several months worth of bills, too. But what had happened was that as time went on, and she was able to sock more and more cash away, she thought she would save enough to pay off the house in one fell swoop.
Surprise, baby. House is paid for. Let’s travel. Woooo!
Yeah. Well, that money was now hers. She’d play with his mind. Let him think he had her over a barrel. Let him believe he was winning whatever game he was playing at. She finished filling the car and drove to work.