#52weeks52stories “The Sweetest Days, Part 2”

chest and rose

I said I’d post the conclusion of The Sweetest Days this week. I lied. Not intentionally! I don’t like serial pieces because I have no OFF button, but between my great-aunt duties, Camp NaNo, and my finger hovering over the publish button on another piece, my brain is like a bowl of oatmeal… and I hate oatmeal.

However, I did update it! And, finishing it is at the top of my to-do list for the week. Well, maybe not at the top, probably closer to the middle. Okay, it’s ON the to-do list. How about that? 😀

Enjoy!

~~~

#52weeks52stories: Week 29

Word prompt: movie

Word count – 407

Reading time – 1 min, 41 sec.

~~~

“I talked with Josie Jacobs, dear, and I know the last year hasn’t been easy for you.”

Gayla Petry took Moira by the hand, leading her to the registration table.

“Josie’s inside and Melanie will be here soon.” She handed Moira her name badge and reunion goodie bag. “Spend a little time with old friends, dear. It will make you smile.”

Moira squeezed her former teacher’s hand and headed for the grand ballroom.

Crossing the threshold, she was caught in a time-warp.

Posters of Prince, Robert Palmer, and Whitney Houston graced the entryway.

The Pet Shop Boys’ West End Girls blared from speakers, assaulting Moira’s forty-eight-year-old ears and vibrating the floor.

I used to think that song was cool, now I just want it turned down.

As she admired the rest of the pop culture display, classmates waved to Moira. Some she recognized, other she was sure were groupies and not from her graduating class.

Not much happened in Flanders, Indiana, but the class of 1988 had the distinction of having three members drafted into the NFL, another went to the major leagues, and still another made two appearances in Olympic games as a member of the US swim team. All these years later, women still flocked to the standouts.

Not a bad legacy for a bunch of goofy kids.

Moira paused in front of a montage of Teen Beat magazines. A smile formed on her lips as she remembered how crazy girls were for all those handsome young male faces. She moved on, frozen in time. A poster of Three men and a Baby—one of her favorites, shared space with Fatal Attraction—her first grownup movie.

Her smile faded when her gaze fell on the third movie poster—The Lost Boys. It was an awesome vampire movie to most, Moira included until the title name took on a new meaning for her.

*

“You can’t leave, Kev.”

“I have to, Sissie. I’m one of the Lost Boys now. I’ll miss you, but I’d rather not spend whatever time I have left under the same roof with parents who believe I’ve ruined their lives because I’m gay.”

*

Moira believed the day her brother found out he’d become a Lost Boy—gone from being HIV positive to having full-blown AIDS—was the saddest day of her life. She didn’t think her soul could fracture any deeper watching the person she loved most suffer and die.

She was wrong.

~~~

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#52weeks52stories “The Sweetest Days”

chest and rose

~~~

#52weeks52stories: Week 28

Word prompt: reunion

Word count – 813;

Reading time – 2 min, 10 sec.

~~~

Moira exited I-94 and rolled to a stop at the traffic signal at the end of the off-ramp.

She drummed her fingers against the steering wheel, indecision tugging at her.

Turning left would take her back to the highway, her hotel, and home in two hours.

Turning right would lead her to the Marriott Hotel… and her thirtieth high school class reunion.

The last thing Moira Lambert wanted to do was attend her class reunion.

She turned right anyway.

High school hadn’t been unpleasant for the homecoming queen and class valedictorian, it just didn’t have the same meaning for her as it did her classmates.

Moira was proud of her accomplishments and honored to be so well-thought of, but everything changed near the end of her senior year and then the only thing that mattered was graduating and leaving Flanders, Indiana.

It’s not too late, Lambert. You could grab your things from the hotel and be home before midnight.

Before she could respond to her own heeding, Moira heard Alexander’s quips.

“Don’t focus on the pain, honey-bunny. God knows we’d never smile if we only remembered the bad times.”

Her pursed lips relaxed into a bittersweet smile. She continued on as though Alexander Lambert was right there guiding her.

She pulled up to valet park in front of the Marriott Hotel and stepped out of her Qx50 accepting her claim stub from the young Latino man who’d opened her door. She thanked him with a smile and headed for the entrance, pretending not to notice the look her valet exchanged with two other young men standing at the valet stand.

She wasn’t angry or offended. Moira knew far too women in her age group who thought nothing of bedding young men half their age and it didn’t matter if they were valets, wait staff or occupied an office across the hall. Moira Lambert didn’t judge. She just wasn’t in that group.

As she entered the hotel, large metallic green signs with yellow glitter text directed members of the Taft High School Class of 1988 to the Grand Ballroom on the lower level.

Moira smirked while walking past the sign.

Kat Volker still had an obsession with glitter.

Approaching the escalator bay, Moira’s steps slowed.

This was the first reunion she’d attended without Alex.

This was the first time she’d done anything other than work since losing her husband of twenty-five years. She knew he’d be disappointed in her.

Like Moira, Alexander Lambert was going through the motions of living when they met on the Purdue University campus.

Tragedy touched his senior year of high also when his mother lost her battle with breast cancer. His misery deepened when he had to move in with his father and stepmother.

Catina Lambert hated him for being a constant reminder Gil Lambert was ever involved with a woman other than her. Her lies and scheming kept the Lambert men at odds so much, Alexander applied for early enrollment to Purdue to get away from the Lambert home.

Melancholy washed over her as the escalator carried her down.

Moira knew she’d met a kindred soul and told Alexander about her parents’ reaction when her older brother, Kevin, came out to them after his college graduation.

Big Abraham Jennings had balked at his only son being a fairy, and Genova Jefferson Jennings knew the Flanders African Methodist Church would shun them all.

Moira stayed at her brother’s side, holding his hand, ashamed of her parents for the first time in her life.

But it wouldn’t be the last.

Moira could see the reception area outside the Grand Ballroom was filling up and took stock of her appearance in the mirrored wall as the escalator took her to the lower level of the Marriott Hotel.

She looked good.

The streaks of gray on the left side of her head gave her a mature look without being matronly. They ran through her soft, brown curls from her temple to her shoulder.

The knee-length, purple silk wrap-dress complimented her hour-glass figure and Moira didn’t even lament the illusive twelve pounds that considered her hips a permanent home.

She stepped off the escalator and approached the registration table to the left of the ballroom entrance, and her first smile of the evening was genuine.

“Moira Jennings!”

A tall, thin woman with snow white hair leaped up from the table and ran to greet Moira, pulling her into a tight hug.

“Oh. I’m sorry, I keep forgetting. It’s Moira Lambert.”

Moira pulled back wearing a big grin. “Mrs. Petry, you know I’ll always answer to whatever you call me.”

The retired history teacher beamed. “Still my best… and favorite student.”

Gayla Petry pulled her former student close for another tight hug.

“It is good to see you, my dear. I’m so glad you decided to come.”

Moira chuckled. “I am too, I think.”

~~~

Thanks for reading! Stop in next week for the conclusion to The Sweetest Days.

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

Camp NaNo Update #6

Camp NaNo Update #6 banner

~~~

I knew it was going to happen, just not this soon.

There’s always a character I didn’t plan on… or even knew, who shows up and plants themselves in the story.

This time, there were TWO and they couldn’t be more different.

A nineteen-year-old girl and an old man in his eighties.

Don’t quote me on this but the girl might be a ghost.

The old dude is just plain ornery… and a criminal.

What’s bizarre is how well they fit into the story. Which means someone else needs to leave. It’s getting crowded in Marbury, Pennsylvania.

Geeze, do I have to commit another murder?

Stay tuned.

~~~

The first week of Camp NaNoWriMo is coming to an end. It’s been a good week. Looking forward to next week. I’m dying to know how some problems get resolved!

Day 6 word count – 12, 050.

#52weeks52stories “oyster crackers & lemonade”

oyster crackers and lemonade banner

~~~

#52weeks52stories – Week 27

Word prompt – cold medicine

Word count – 2777

~~~

“I said I’m not going, and that’s the end of it, old woman.”

Willie Crawford plunked down in his worn recliner and crossed his arms across his chest.

“Call me old woman one more time. I dare you.”

Wanda Crawford stood with arms akimbo glaring down at him.

He waved her off. “Oh, Wanda you know what I mean. We’ve been married forty-seven years. I’m old too.

“You got that right.”

He smirked at her and picked up the television remote.

“Don’t you dare turn that on.”

“Wanda—“

“I mean it. We’re old, not dead yet, Willie. What’s wrong with driving down to town for a nice lunch and a quick shopping trip?”

“I hate shopping.”

“But you love to eat.”

Willie dropped the remote onto the coffee table. “Why do we have to go anywhere? We have everything we need right here at home.”

“You know what I have, Willie? I have your laundry to do, your meals to cook, and the back of your head to stare at while you watch yet another movie marathon of westerns.”

“Oh, what a horrible life you have, Wanda. Shame on me.”

“Don’t be an ass, Willie. Not that you can help yourself.”

She stomped off into the kitchen and Willie knew he’d crossed a line. He followed her to make things right… without having to leave the house.

“Honey, I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to get on your bad side, honest.”

Wanda didn’t respond. She stood at the kitchen counter, her back to him.

“Come on, baby, don’t ignore me. I just don’t see anything wrong with enjoying retirement doing the things I like.”

She turned her head toward him.

“Doing the things you like? That wasn’t the plan, remember? Twenty years ago, we said when the kids were all on their own, we’d sell this place, buy a small bungalow and garden a little. Maybe travel and see some of this country.” She looked away. “We both retired four years ago and we’re still here in the hot-as-blazes Nevada desert… thirty minutes from the nearest decent town and four hours away from our children. And for what? So you can sit in that chair I should have thrown out a decade ago and watch yet another retrospective on how the west was won.”

“It’s called, ‘The Old West: They Wore White Hats: The Good Guys.’”

Wanda picked up a pen and scribbled on her notepad. “Today. Tomorrow it will be, “The Old West: Bad Guys: Guns, Guns, Guns.” What’s next? “The Old West: When Men Were Men, Women Were Few, and the Cattle Were Nervous?”

“Now isn’t that a fine way for my wife to talk?”

Wanda clutched at her chest, feigning shock. “You do know that I’m your wife. At least I know your brain still works. Mostly.” She continued writing.

Willie let the jibe pass while trying to look over her shoulder. “What are you writing?”

“It’s called a shopping list.”

“Look, Wanda. I apologized, but I’m not going into town.”

She tore the sheet from the pad and grabbed her handbag from the kitchen table.

“No, you’re not. I’m going alone.”

“Aww, c’mon, honey. You know I don’t like you traveling these roads alone.”

“Then come with me.”

“That’s blackmail.”

Wanda strode past him to the door leading to the garage. “No, Willie. It’s not. See you later.”

He bristled. Why was she so stubborn? She was probably standing in the garage waiting for him to come running. Well, he wasn’t going to. She couldn’t trick…

Willie was startled from his thoughts when he heard the Suburban’s engine roar to life.

Dammit! She was leaving!

He raced through the side door just as Wanda put the SUV in reverse.

“Wanda Jean! Wanda Jean!”

She lowered the passenger door window. “What?”

“You always have to have things your way, don’t you?”

“Willie, the last time I got my way was 1994 when we painted the house blue instead of that puke pea-soup green you wanted. See you in a couple of hours.”

She eased the truck out of the garage and backed down the driveway.

Frustrated, Willie ran after her, approaching the truck on the driver side.

“Wanda Jean!”

She stopped again, this time lowering her window.

“Why do you keep yelling my name?”

“I want you to stop this.” He held out his hands. “Look, I’m not calling you old, but you’re too old to travel these old dusty roads alone.”

“Maybe I am, Willie. But I’m also too young to sit at home day after day waiting for death.”

He flinched.

“We’re fortunate, Willie. We have our health and our right minds—well, I have my mind—and the means to live comfortably.”

“And we’re comfortable here, right?”

“You are, Willie Crawford. But some days… most days, I feel like I die a little. Just like this town.”

“Oh, stop getting all dramatic, Wanda Jean.”

“Willie, why won’t you ever admit it? Thirty years ago, Hemming was something else. A real family community. But things change. All the kids grew up, moved away for college and better jobs. And they never came back, Willie.”

“All the kids left, but parents… grandparents—we’re still here.”

“Not the smart ones. They followed their kids or moved to retirement communities with more amenities than dusty pastures and rusted out tractors.”

“This would be paradise to some folks, Wanda.”

“We should have left after we retired.”

Willie didn’t want to have the moving argument again. He wanted his wife to park the truck so they could both go back inside.

“We’re salt of the earth people, Wanda. This is where we belong.”

“You say we when you mean you.” She glared at her husband. “It’s not always about you, Willie Crawford.”

Removing her foot from the brake, Wanda continued down the driveway. Willie walked alongside the truck until she backed into the road.

A part of Willie Crawford knew his wife was right, yet he still couldn’t reconcile with selling the home he spent his life working for and moving away. Willie didn’t handle change well.

Wanda put the vehicle in drive.

“Since you’re determined to go, stay out of Shuyster’s. Cal Beeman’s always flirting with you.”

Wanda scoffed. “He’s just a nice man. No one wants me. I’m an old woman, remember?”

The words stung Willie’s ears. He was such a fool sometimes.

“Yeah, but you’re my old woman.” He spirits rose when he saw the corners of her mouth twitch.

“And would you bring back some of those oyster crackers I like? And some of that bottled lemonade?”

“Nope.”

Willie’s mouth hung open as the smile that had been forming on Wanda’s lips turned into an evil sneer.

“But I will bring back some Spam.”

She floored the SUV and left him standing there in a cloud of dust and sand.

Damn woman!

Willie hated Spam. He’d had more than his fill during his military days and vowed never to eat it again.

However, he knew when Spam appeared at the dinner table Wanda Crawford was fed up.

Willie walked up the driveway, glancing down Kess Road, knowing the cloud of dust was his wife.

He went straight to the kitchen and made two turkey sandwiches. He added two bananas and a bottle of beer to his meal.

Willie knew he had to fill his stomach because he had no doubt Spam was on Wanda’s shopping list.

~~~

Jolted awake, Willie sat up straight, scrubbing his hand down his face.

“That you, Wanda?”

Getting no response, Willie stood and stretched, and headed for the kitchen to see how much Spam Wanda brought home. He’d just reached the doorway of the darkened kitchen when the front doorbell chimed.

Willie glanced into the kitchen once more before answering the door.

“That better not be Wanda playing guest again.”

He yanked open the door, but it wasn’t Wanda. Sheriff Chet Austin filled the doorway. Willie noticed Chet’s deputy, Harris Nelson standing next to the squad car in his driveway.

“Hey, Chet. What brings you to my door? I’ve been home all day and have broken no laws.”

The pained expression on the lawman’s face made Willie’s chuckle die in his throat.

“No, Willie. It’s Wanda—“

“Wanda? What did she do? You know what? She left here speeding—mad at me. Did you pull her over? Oh, God, please tell me she didn’t have an accident—“

The sheriff was abrupt. “Willie, there’s been a shooting. You need to come with us.”

Willie froze.

“Shooting? What does a shooting have to do with me? Where’s Wanda? I’m not going anywhere until you tell me what’s going—“

“It’s Wanda, Willie.”

Willie Crawford slumped against the door-frame. The sheriff reached out to hold him up, but Willie steadied himself.

“C-Chet… where? Where, Chet? What happened and where’s my wife?”

“At the strip mall in town. Some meth-head smashed a case in Dollar General, shoved a shelf full of cold medicines in a bag and ran out the store. The assistant manager ran after him. He yells at the guy to stop and the fool pulls out a handgun and shoots behind him. A bullet struck the assistant manager in the head. He died instantly. From what witnesses said, Wanda was climbing up into her truck. A bullet hit her in the chest.”

Willie locked his elbows, bracing himself against the door. “Where’s my wife, Chet? Is… she… “

“No, Willie, Wanda’s still with us, but it isn’t good. You have to come with us now.”

~~~

Sheriff Austin pulled up next to Wanda’s Suburban in the strip mall parking lot.

“This isn’t a good idea, Willie. You should have waited at the hospital for the victim’s advocate. You shouldn’t be alone right now.”

Staring straight ahead, Willie’s voice was flat, void of emotion. “I’m not the victim, Chet. W-Wanda… was. I can’t leave her truck sitting here like this. She wouldn’t like it. She wouldn’t like it one bit. You said the crime scene investigation was done so I’m taking it home.”

The grieving man reached for the door handle.

“Then stay with me a while, Willie. At least until some of your kids get here. We can get a bite to eat and talk. Or not talk.”

Willie sagged deep in the seat. “I thank you for your kindness, Chet. I appreciate it. But you have a job to do and nothing will bring Wanda back.” His voice broke on the last word. Willie bit into his lower lip, steeling himself. “Pasadena’s less than five hours away. Junior’s always driving like he was on fire. Now, with his mama… well, I’m sure they’re past the halfway mark.”

He opened the door and stepped out before the sheriff could respond. When he reached back inside to grab the bag containing his wife’s personal belonging, Chet grabbed his arm.

“I’m so sorry, Willie. Wanda was a nice lady. Please know we’re taking that lil punk into Vegas tomorrow. He’ll be arraigned for double murder with special circumstances. He’ll never see the light of day again.”

“He’s some kid strung out on meth who tried to steal the stuff to make more. Harris told me the kid still doesn’t understand he killed two people today. If he sits in jail for two lifetimes, he’ll never know what he’s taken from me and that young man’s family.”

Willie grabbed the bag and shut the door, not looking back at his old classmate. He dug around in the bag until his hand felt the small Magic 8 ball keyring. He stared at the keyring then shook his head, refusing to allow memories to crowd his mind.

Pressing the door fob, Willie approached the driver-side door and froze.

Parking lot lights illuminated the area enough for Willie to see what remained of the sheriff department’s investigation.

Arrows and distance markers were etched into the pavement. Willie’s broken heart pounded in his chest when he realized the dark circles outlined in chalk was blood.

Wanda’s blood.

He gripped the door handle, yanked the door open wide and threw himself up into his wife’s truck. Slamming the door, Willie leaned his head against the steering wheel to calm his rapid breathing. But Wanda’s presence overwhelmed him.

The scent of her favorite white citrus body crème filled the vehicle. The purple seat covers and floor mats reminded him of her near-obsession with the color.

He touched the small cube hanging from the rearview mirror. It was filled with photos of the two of them from last year’s harvest festival.

Wanda hated harvest festival. She didn’t see the point since no one had harvested anything but dust in fifteen years.

But Willie loved the festival, and she went because of him.

She was always doing something for him.

Willie’s jaws tightened as he clenched his fists and punched the steering wheel over and over.

“Why did you have to go out, Wanda? Why couldn’t you stay with me?” Perspiration trickled down his temples. He raised his head and covered his face with his hands. “Oh, God, Wanda. Why couldn’t you stay with me?”

The lump in his throat made swallowing difficult. As bile churned in his stomach seeking an exit, sharp, stabbing pains filled his chest. Now drenched in sweat, Willie knew he was having a heart attack. He leaned back in the seat and waited for death to take him.

But it wasn’t a heart attack and death never came for Willie Crawford, and he was grateful. As his body worked to calm itself, Willie remembered his children racing from California to be with him. To say goodbye to their mother. He wouldn’t want them to have to deal with so much death.

He started the truck and went home.

~~~

After the garage door closed, Willie sat in the Suburban feeling every one of his seventy years.

He glanced at the side door, knowing he could not prolong this, and opened the truck door. Willie grabbed the bag holding Wanda’s things from the passenger seat and for the first time noticed Wanda’s hand-sewn canvas shopping bag on the floor.

He turned away, planning to leave it in the truck and couldn’t.

Reaching over, Willie grabbed the canvas bag, slid his arm the looped handles and allowed it to slide up in arm.

His gait was unsteady. His wife’s bags coupled with the emotional weight of grief and fatigue caused Willie to lumber all the way to the kitchen table.

Dropping everything on the kitchen table, Willie Crawford leaned on the table with both hands to steady himself and catch his breath.

He raised his head and listened. The stillness of his home made Willie uncomfortable and for the first time in thirty-two years, he hated the house. This was the last place he wanted to be.

Without Wanda.

The sharp stabbing pains returned to his chest and Willie fell into the chair next to him. He raked a hand through his thick gray hair, pulling it on the ends.

“Why was I so stubborn? I knew she wanted to move. Why was I so determined to stay?”

“It’s not always about you, Willie Crawford.”

The words rang in his ears even though Wanda said them hours before.

Guilt and shame bore down on Willie and he leaned on both elbows on the table. Wanda was unhappy… because of him. She left home upset… because of him.

His eyes brimmed with tears and Willie swiped them away with his hand. He didn’t deserve to cry. Had he been a good husband, he would have taken Wanda to lunch. It would have been a long lunch with his wife teasing him for having two desserts.

She would never have been in the strip mall parking lot.

Willie didn’t know how he’d go on… how he would live with himself. She was the love of his life. Had he told her that recently? Did Wanda know how much he loved her?

He looked at the bags on the table. They shouldn’t be here without Wanda. He shouldn’t be here without Wanda.

Willie reached out, his fingers stroking the canvas shopping bag.

Wanda hated plastic shopping bags and made canvas bags for quick, small trips to the store.

He pulled the bag to him as melancholy and humor struck him at the same time.

Spam. Wanda was true to her word.

He popped the snap and reached into the bag to remove the offensive mystery meat.

But it wasn’t Spam.

Guttural moans began deep in Willie’s chest and filled the kitchen. His hands shook as he removed the bag’s contents—a package of oyster crackers and two bottles of lemonade.

 

Images from Google
©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights, Reserved

 

Camp NaNo Update #4

Camp NaNo Update 4

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As I said in my #MondayBlog, Sins of the Mother started out as a flash piece for the #52weeks52stories writing challenge.

Since the posts are weekly and done from word prompts, there’s very little outlining done beyond a story sketch for continuity.

Protagonist Sally Bennett is the generic every-woman. Loving wife and mother. Dedicated employee. Compassionate and caring friend.

She’s so sweet she makes my teeth ring.

Yet, every week as this story unfolded, I couldn’t find a way to pour a little vinegar on her. After all, she was attacked and almost killed… by her husband.

Or was it him?

Since the attack, she’s passed out three times, thrown up three times, and been hospitalized.

As this mutated piece of flash makes the journey to novel-form, Sally’s suffering gets edgier as she tires of being the victim.

Lead detective, Gavin Marks, already has his hands full with the serial rapist case. He has no leads and no ideas which way to proceed.

Now an unidentified dead body has been added to his caseload, and it came with no clues.

This doesn’t sit well with the former military investigator and decorated officer. He shuns giving orders from his office in favor of being an active member of the investigation.

Gavin only wishes they knew what they are investigating.

The attack on Sally and the rapist terrorizing Marbury—are they connected? The lack of information will lead Gavin and his team in a direction no one could have predicted.

~~~

I’m having fun with this WIP.

Except for the murderer.

I feel bad for him. Kind of.

But is he also the serial rapist?

When I find out I’ll let you know.

The Devil You Know, Part XII #52weeks52stories

The #52weeks52stories challenge is supposed to be flash fiction… and today I’m posting the TWELFTH installment of my story!

What am I doing with my life?

The Devil You Know is going on hiatus. No, not sticking it in a drawer. I’ll work on it during July CampNaNoWriMo—tighten up the beginning, clean up errors and discrepancies and bring it to a whizbang finish!  😀

Check back here for updates!

Intruder

#52weeks52stories: Week 22

Word prompt: cake

Word Count: 1226, Reading time – 2 minutes, 1 sec

~~~~~

Part I    |     Part II    |    Part III    |   Part IV   | Part V

Part VI   |   Part VII   |   Part VIII   |   IX   |   |  XI  |

(All links open new windows.)

Vincent Perreti never played a video game he didn’t want to master or saw a website he didn’t want to hack.

Had it not been for a savvy guidance counselor, the twenty-nine-year-old could have easily ended up on the other side of the law. But tough-love moved the street-wise tech-geek past juvie hall through college and onto the Marbury police force.

“I am amazed at the number of men named Mossford.”

Ending his phone call and turning back to his monitor, Myles Griffin chuckled. “It’s an old-world name from another era.”

“No, it’s a hillbilly name from the back woods.”

“Man, would you quit? What have you found on our guy?” Getting no response, Myles glanced over at his partner.

He knew by the mischievous glint in Perreti’s eyes and mega-watt grin the man had found a gold mine.

“Get this. Mossford Oswald Samuel Sievers was born to Benedict and Gracelyn Sievers 11 February 1921.”

Griffin frowned. “And?”

“Don’t you get it?”

“Get what?”

“Mossford… Oswald… Samuel… Sievers. M-O-S-S. Moss. Who does that? Was it intentional? Were his parents wordsmiths? I love it!”

The thirty-two-year-old Griffin leaned backed in his chair, laughing. “Only you zero in on that kind of stuff. But Marks is coming in here soon and will want to know more than the man’s name was an acronym.”

Perreti smirked. “You never let me have any fun. Fine. Like I said born February 1921; entered the Air Force June 1939; and married Lindy Ellen Piquat August 1939. He was stationed stateside in Dover while that base was being built.” Perreti frowned. “I can’t access his actual service record… yet but looks like he didn’t get deployed until two years later after Pearl Harbor.”

“Do not hack that system. I’m still filing reports from your last data breach. We make the appropriate requests.”

Perreti pounded away on the keyboard, trying to gain access. “Yes, boss.”

“Vince? Don’t start. I’m not your boss, I’m the Forensic data lead, okay?”

“But if you’d taken that job with Google, I’d have the position, right?”

“I didn’t want to work for Google, I like being a cop.”

“Yeah, but you’re breaking your mother’s heart.”

“No need to remind me what a disappointment to my parents I am by being a lowly civil servant.”

“Oh, please. You could have my mom… who’s happy I’m on the outside of the bars.”

Griffin laughed. “Good thing we’re both confident men.”

Perreti feigned tears. “Speak for yourself, I need counseling.”

Both laughed while shaking their heads. Perreti pointed at Griffin’s desk.

“What did you find out?”

“Mossford and his kids were busy… breaking laws. Grifting, cons, scams, they were at it for years. No arrest record for Lindy, though, and nothing on a Gary Sievers.”

Vince opened another browser. “No one is invisible. No one. Even folks who live off the grid left a footprint somewhere.”

The two detectives smirked and spoke at the same time. “Unless they were never on the grid.”

*

“Please eat just a little, mom. It’s been hours since you’ve had anything besides coffee.” Joanie Case held out the deli-style turkey sandwich to her mother.

As though on cue, hunger pains roared to life in Sally Bennett’s stomach.

Joanie smirked, and Sally took the sandwich. She munched without thought, her eyes unable to leave the large double-doors leading to the surgery suites.

Two hours into the procedure, Dr. Weathers came out with an update.

“We’re still cautious, Mrs. Bennett, but it’s looking good. We’ve removed all the bone fragments and there’s no evidence they added to the injury. There’s no intracerebal, or brain bleeding. Swelling has decreased since his MRI, which is a good thing. We’re about to begin the delicate portion of the procedure—draining the fluid.”

Sally clutched her chest. “That sounds serious.”

“I have to be honest with you. No matter how much care and time we take, an ischemic or brain stroke is a possibility.”

He stood and leaned over Sally, squeezing her shoulder.

“He’s strong and a true fighter. Ted and I feel very good about this. Someone will update you again soon.”

The doctor’s words replayed in Sally’s head. “He’s strong and a true fighter.”

She smiled to herself as she crumpled the sandwich wrapper.

“I guess someone was hungry.”

She smirked at her son. “I didn’t think I could keep anything down, but my body took what it needed. I feel better.” She reached over and gripped his hand. “About everything.”

Carolyn returned to the waiting room from the hallway.

“The Red Cross cleared an early release from duty for Cheryl. She’ll change planes a few times but will arrive in Philadelphia tomorrow evening.”

Darrin frowned. “So, I need to meet her at the airport?”

“No, big brother, got it covered. Dave is packing as we speak. He and the kids will meet Cheryl’s plan and head on here.”

“I told Merri not to come. If she hears Dave is here I’m in for it.”

“Same here with Rick,” Joanie added.

Carolyn chuffed. “All of us and seven kids? Now is not the time for a family reunion.”

“It’s the perfect time.”

They all turned to their mother.

“We’re past the point of this disrupting our lives. Better we should all be together so you all don’t have to worry about how your absence is affecting your families. At least for a few days.”

Sally leaned forward in her seat.

“Your father would never admit this, but he loves being surrounded by his children and grandchildren. Having everyone here when he wakes up will be better than any medicine.”

Joanie slipped her arm around her mom’s shoulder. “You believe he’s going to be okay, ma? One hundred percent like before?”

“I’ll take any percentage I can get, but yes, your father’s going to be fine.” Her gaze returned to the double doors. “He has to be.”

*

The five detectives had chairs pulled close to Gavin Marks’ desk as they all listened to Michael Benchley, the current sheriff of Drexler, Delaware on speaker-phone.

“Haven’t heard the Sievers name in quite a while. Thought they were all dead except for Melville.”

Marks perked up. “Where’s he?”

“Vaughn Correctional in Smyrna… for second-degree murder.”

“Can you give us details? Sounds like we’ll be making a road-trip to Smyrna.”

The sheriff chuckled. “I can pull our local files and tell you whatever you want to know. But I have a better idea. Since you’re planning a road trip anyway, come here first. You’ll find out more from my dad than any file will tell you. He was a deputy and the sheriff back in those days and knew Moss Sievers and his family. Dad’s in his nineties but still sharp as they come.”

Gavin wanted to leap from his seat.

“Holland get started on travel vouchers. Gans, find out if you or Hill can go along. Griffin and Perreti, work on getting clearance for us to see Melville Sievers.”

He turned back to the speaker-phone.

“Will you be around this weekend, Sheriff?”

“If I want to keep breathing, I will. My wife’s birthday is Sunday.”

“Well, remember to save us some cake.”

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

The Devil You Know, Part XI #52weeks52stories

Intruder

#52weeks52stories: Week 21

Word prompt: uniform

Word Count: 1557, Reading time – 1 minute, 58 secs

~~~~~

Part I    |     Part II    |    Part III    |   Part IV   | Part V

Part VI   |   Part VII   |   Part VIII   |   IX   |   |

(All links open new windows.)

Surrounded by cold sandwiches and lukewarm coffee, Marks, Holland, Ganson, and Hill studied their surprised find from the stolen Ford Explorer.

An old Army duffel bag and a beat-up suitcase were found in the backseat and their contents were now laid out on the conference table like puzzle pieces.

Ganson scratched his head. “This is a weird collection of stuff to carry around.”

The treasure trove included bank records, hotel receipts, airline ticket stubs, elementary school report cards, maps, floor plans, and more than two dozen driver’s licenses from several states. The licenses all bore photos of the same four men… all with different names.

The lone license with a woman’s photo was issued over twenty-five years ago by the state of Delaware… to Sarah Elaine Sievers of Drexler, Delaware.

“Look at all these names, ages, and addresses. How do we find out which one is correct… or if any of them are correct?” Ganson raked through the pile. “Benedict, Lilly, Spellman, Montrose, geeze. Do you know how big the search returns will be on all these names?”

Mentally honing his focus, Marks had a plan. “We’ll focus on one name at a time, and since we knew of Sievers first, we’ll stay with that one for now.”

“Lindy Piquat and Mossford Sievers were married August 4, 1939.” Holland waved a yellowed document in the air. “It was the day after her 18th birthday and six months after his.”

Hill whistled low and slow. “1939? They would have to be-”

“Grandparents.”

After logging the info on his notepad, Holland slipped the license into a glassine sheet protector.

“Somebody had mommy-issues.”

The three men turned to Ganson.

He held four faded black and white photographs. The same young girl was in all four photos, and though there were others standing with her, only her body was full of dozens of tiny pinpricks.

Marks couldn’t contain his excitement. “We’ll need Chaney in on this sooner than later for a psych profile.”

“I believe the girl in these photos is a young Sarah Sievers. Matches the Delaware license, only younger. Here she’s a kid with a guy in uniform.” He held it up. “Dad, maybe?”

“This one here has to be her and her mom… they look alike. This is a school photo—maybe high school—and this is probably her with her brothers,” he tilted his head toward the stack of state IDs, “and the guys on all the driver’s licenses.”

Marks clapped his hands together and shouted, “Hallelujah!”

Hill smirked. “Share so we can celebrate too. What’s up?”

Grinning, Gavin Marks picked up one photo. “What have we just learned, gentlemen?” He continued before they could respond. “Mossford Sievers married Lindy Piquat in 1939 when he was eighteen years old. The guy in this photo is military. And at his age… he served in World War II.”

The detectives applauded. “Very good, Marks. You get an ‘A’ today.”

He waved Hill off. “Too bad I didn’t get an ‘A’ in history when it counted.”

He turned to Holland. “Call Perreti and Griffin back in. They’re aces at forensic searches. If we’re lucky, they can find what we need, and I won’t have to reach out to Veteran’s Affairs tomorrow… that’s never fun. Let’s narrow our search for now to any Sievers in Drexler, Delaware. I’ll contact the LEOs in that area tomorrow morning. With all of these fake IDs, someone had to get caught doing something wrong at least once.”

Brian Holland added to his list. “I just had to be a detective. This sure doesn’t feel like a promotion… feels like more work.”

“That’s why we make the big bucks.”

They all shared a laugh as Holland left the room.

Ganson smirked. “Big bucks? Yeah, right. I’m so poor I can’t afford to pay attention.”

“Well, how does your captain feel about overtime?”

Leonard Ganson groaned.

Hill chuckled.

“Hates it with a passion. The brass downtown is always hollering about budget cuts. But I explained the link to your case and possibly the Senior Citizen Rapist, so we’re good for forty-eight hours. If we can’t prove a connection to our case by then, we have to take our toys and go home.”

Marks belly laughed. “Oh, man. I can just hear him saying that.”

He clapped his hands together again, looking over the unusual collection of items.

“Let’s see if we have anything else useful here.”

Before they could get back to their searching, Holland burst back into the room.

“Marks, man, I want to be you when I grow up!”

“Why? What happened?”

“You nailed it. Patrol found Franklin Bennett’s 2016 Chevy Traverse three blocks from where the Ford Explorer was stolen.”

The men all exchanged glances. Gavin paced around the table.

“So, the man we know as Gary Sievers fought with Franklin Bennett in his apartment, took his car, ditched it and stole another vehicle, and ended up at the Ramirez home to attack two women… one of which was Bennett’s wife.”

He scrubbed his hand down his face.

“What was Bennett doing there? How do they know each other…not to mention being almost identical in looks? What did they fight about? And why did Sievers go to the Ramirez home?”

Hill grimaced. “Can we go back to the celebrating part because this sucks.”

“The picture is still blurred, gentlemen. Let’s pull it into focus.”

*

Watching the nurse replenish her husband’s I.V. meds, Sally Bennett’s spirits lifted for the first time in days.

Lab cultures showed Franklin Bennett was in the early stages of a bacterial infection, but Dr. Stanley’s decision to include antibiotics from the beginning of his care was a good one.

Though not gone, the infection was weakening, allowing his blood pressure to rise.

“He’s doing very well, ma’am. Nice strong blood pressure, no fluctuations.”

Sally sat in the chair next to the bed holding her husband’s hand. She was afraid if she let go he’d slip away and be lost to her again. The thought frightened her more than anything else from the past three days.

Sally was grateful to be with Frankie and know he was at least alive, but a raw edginess bristled just beneath her skin which kept her fears and doubts in the front of her mind.

Remembering Dr. Stanley’s words to stay positive, Sally decided to stop stewing in her worries and grab some coffee from across the hall.

Rising from her seat, she gave Frankie’s hand a gentle squeeze as she turned to walk away, and froze.

The hand she was holding was now holding hers!

Her gaze went from their joined hands to his face and Sally’s heart plummeted.

He wasn’t awake.

Involuntary nerve spasms were explained to her earlier and now she understood why.

Another attempt at releasing Franklin’s hand again caused his grip to tighten.

This can’t be a nerve spasm.

Sally reached for the call button to alert the nurse but stopped when Frankie’s grip tightened even more.

Her brows knitted in confusion.

“Frankie? Can you hear me? Frankie? Can you give me any kind of response? Squeeze my hand again, baby. Wiggle a toe. Dammit, I’ll even accept a facial twitch.”

He didn’t respond but Sally knew he’d gripped her hand. She was sure of it.

Frankie’s hand became limp inside Sally’s. She raised it to her face, rubbing it against her cheek.

“It’s okay, baby. You’re going to beat this. Just hang on.”

She planted a light kiss on his hand and laid his arm to rest on the bed.

Sally left the room without looking back, silently cursing muscle spasms.

Crossing the hall, she saw Dr. Stanley approaching with two men casually dressed and close to her age.

“Mrs. Bennett, we were on our way to speak with you. This is Dr. Ted Beamish and Dr. Paul Weathers. They’re the doctors I told you were on call for your husband. He’s been stable for over an hour. It’s time.”

Sally shook each of their offered hands but held on to Paul Weathers’. “He’s been my life for thirty-two years…please…” Her voice broke on the last word.

Paul Weather’s wrapped her hand in both of his. “Ted and I have had many successes with traumatic brain injuries in private practice and the military. I promise you we’ll do everything we can.”

“Where are your children, Mrs. Bennett?”

It took her a few seconds to find her voice. “They all went to find quiet places to call home with an update. They should be back soon.”

Dr. Weathers released her hand. “Good. The procedure can take as little as two hours or as many as six. Just depends on what we find. We’re on our way to scrub up and someone from our team will be here soon to get Mr. Bennett prepped.”

She pressed her hand against her stomach. The churning had returned.

Dr. Stanley tried to lead her into the lounge. “You should sit-”

Sally pulled away.

“I’m sorry, it’s just nerves. I’ll sit with my husband until it’s time.”

Assuring her she would receive status updates during the surgery, the doctors left to prepare.

Sally Bennett took a deep breath, digging deep inside for a reserve of faith and went to kiss her husband for what she hoped wasn’t the last time.

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

 

The Devil You Know, Part X #52weeks52stories

Intruder

#52weeks52stories: Week 20

Word prompt: mania

Word Count: 1570

~~~~~

Part I    |     Part II    |    Part III    |   Part IV   | Part V

Part VI   |   Part VII   |   Part VIII   |   IX   |

(All links open new windows.)

Adrenalin and exhaustion warred inside Sally Bennett. She was dead tired. Just a few hours ago she was a patient in this same hospital, making deals with her doctor to escape the confines of her hospital bed and go home.

To face life without her husband; to understand why he’d attacked her and Graciela Ramirez; to understand how he ended up dead on the floor of Graciela’s bedroom.

Now everything had changed.

Frankie wasn’t dead, nor was he her attacker.

But according to this doctor, she could still lose him.

Fighting the mania in her mind, Sally swallowed deeply, pushing the burning bile back into her empty stomach.

“Dr. Stanley, please. What does that mean? How serious are his injuries?” She clutched at her stomach. “How did he get injured?”

“Mrs. Bennett, I cannot say for certain how your husband sustained his injuries. I can tell you from the bruising on his hands and face he was involved in a physical altercation—a fight—and ended up on the floor. As he tried to stand, he was hit with a large, heavy object twice, fracturing his skull.”

Sally swayed and teetered on her feet.

Carolyn screamed out, “Mom!”

All the detectives raced to catch her, but Brian Holland reached her first.

She struggled to stand on her own but found she couldn’t and leaned against the brawny police officer. Tears streamed down her face as she turned to Gavin Marks.

“The man. The man in the morgue. Did he do this to Frankie?”

Wary of admitting how little information they had in the case… now cases, but knew she deserved the truth.

“We don’t know ma’am, but it is the leading theory due to his resemblance to your husband. He must have been trying to switch identities but until we can find out who he is, it’s just a theory.”

She turned back to the doctor. “Take me to him?”

“Of course, just understand his appearance is unsettling.”

He opened the door to the critical care suite behind him and Holland escorted the distraught woman into the room, closely followed by the Bennett children.

Sally froze in her steps at the foot of the bed, covering her face with one hand in horror.

With the head of the bed elevated, Franklin Bennett appeared to be napping, but the large pressure dressing covering half of his head and dipping to just above his right eyebrow told a different story.

Purple bruises near his left eye and on his chin stood out against his ghostly pale complexion.

Officer Holland tried to maneuver Sally around the bed to the only chair in the room, but she pulled free, navigating around humming and beeping medical equipment to get to her husband’s side.

She bit her lip to muffle her sobs as she slid her hand under the snapped sleeve of the hospital gown and pulled it free.

Her chest heaved in a combination of relief and agony seeing the crossed rifles tattoo on his upper arm.

Sally raised her hand, tentative at first, but then smoothed his right brow.

The sebaceous cyst was there.

This was her Frankie… and he didn’t even know she was in the room.

She looked across the bed at Dr. Stanley, her eyes full of sorrow.

“There’s nothing you can do?”

He responded, keeping his tone low and even.

“It is a life-threatening injury, and to be honest with you, Mrs. Bennett, I’m surprised he’s made it this far.”

He motioned to Frankie’s hands and face.

“The coloring of his bruises leads me to believe his injuries were sustained seventy-two to ninety-six hours ago.” He paused. “He… lost a lot of blood. But I believe the position of his body and the cooler seasonal temperatures played a part in keeping him alive. That and he has the heart of a lion.”

She looked down at the love of her life in awe. The heart which almost failed him two years ago was now the only thing keeping him alive.

She reached out to caress his cheek before realizing Dr. Stanley was still speaking.

“Excuse me, Dr.?”

“I said his blood pressure is the issue. It’s far too low for your husband to make it through surgery right-”

“What? Surgery? For what?”

He sighed, glancing over his shoulder at the three detectives standing in the doorway before continuing.

“As far as we can tell, Mr. Bennett’s brain activity is normal and that’s a miracle in and of itself. But bleeding in his brain has caused swelling and pressure. If we don’t get that pressure released soon… there will be brain damage and it will be permanent.”

Sally swayed on her feet and sagged against the bed. Brian Holland was ready this time, having moved the chair to the side of the bed.

Gently gripping Sally by the shoulders, he pulled her backward until he had her in the chair.

Darrin, Carolyn, and Joanie were huddled at the foot of the bed, each with a hand touching their father. The officer got Carolyn’s attention, gesturing for her to take his place with her mother before he stepped away, joining the detectives in the doorway.

Sally didn’t notice the activity around her. With her gaze focused on her husband’s face, she addressed Dr. Stanley again.

“Is he scheduled for surgery?”

“No. We’d lose him on the table.”

She slumped in the chair and suddenly realized Carolyn was at her side. She gripped her daughter’s hand, looking for strength.

“So, what’s going to happen to my husband? He’s just going to die?”

“That’s not going to happen if we can help it, Mrs. Bennett. He’s made it this far because he’s a fighter.” He pointed to the multiple I.V. poles attached to the bed. “We’re giving him fluids, antibiotics, vitamins, and that is his third unit of blood. We have three more on standby. Once we get his blood pressure up and stabilized for one hour, he goes into surgery. The two top brain surgeons in our area have examined him and are just waiting for our call.”

A spec of optimism began to bloom in Sally’s chest.

It wasn’t the end of them… yet.

“Dr., I’d like to donate blood for my dad.” Darrin didn’t bother wiping the tears from his face.

“Yes, all of us will,” Carolyn added after exchanging looks with her sister.

“Of course, I’ll get someone to take you down to the lab for typing and matching.”

He stepped back from the bed and pulled out his phone, but Sally stopped him before he could dial.

“Until then, Dr…. until then what happens?”

“We wait, Mrs. Bennett, and pray for the best.”

She stood. Returning to Frankie’s bedside, she slipped his limp right hand between both of hers and bowed her head. Carolyn moved closer bowing her head too.

Darrin and Joanie joined hands at the foot of the bed and followed suit.

Dr. Stanley brushed past the detectives in the doorway and they followed him into the hallway.

“Doctor, what are Mr. Bennett’s chances?”

He turned to Gavin Marks.

“Det., I really-”

“Just tell us what we’re working with…please.”

The doctor removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes before responding.

“I’m being cautiously optimistic when I say 25-30%, Detective”

“Damn.”

“But he has a lot going for him… no life support needed and he’s not in a coma.”

“What? He’s not?”

“No. Mr. Bennett has responded to testing in every way… except for waking up. I’m encouraged by his strong brain activity and strong heartbeat. But the clock is ticking and the window of opportunity to save him is down to 6-8 hours.”

“Thank you, doctor.”

Brian Holland stepped back down the hall, peering into Franklin Bennett’s room. His family still stood around him with their heads bowed.

Pete Hill scrubbed his hand through his salt and pepper buzz-cut.

Gavin Marks leaned against the wall, hands shoved deep into his pockets. Marks’ head was also bowed, but he was deep in thought.

Ganson finally said what they were all thinking.

“If he doesn’t make it, we may never find the answers we need to solve our cases.”

“It’s time for some good old-fashioned police work, gentlemen.”

The law enforcement officers all exchanged knowing smirks.

“Your trial by fire continues Holland. Tell Lothern to do another search on the name Gary Sievers but include a search for the last name alone too. Ask him to pay special attention to smaller towns and to put names on the info requests… make someone sit up and take notice.”

Holland pulled out his cell and stepped away.

“What are you thinking, Marks?”

“The answers are staring us in the face. I think once we confirm the identity of Sievers or whomever he is, everything will fall into place. We’ll solve our case, your case, and there’s a real chance we could learn the identity of the Senior Citizen Rapist.

Let your captain know we’re working together, Ganson, then we need to pay a visit to your crime scene.”

*

The detectives never got back to the apartment where Franklin Bennett was found that night.

An alert patrolman spotted a late-model Ford reported as stolen abandoned two blocks from the Ramirez home.

A routine retrieval and impound became evidence when an inspection of the vehicle’s contents turned up a name on the priority list.

Sievers.

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

 

The Devil You Know, Part IX #52weeks52stories

Intruder

#52weeks52stories: Week 19

Word prompt: task

Word Count: 876 (Reading time: 1 min, 55 sec.)

~~~~~

Part I    |     Part II    |    Part III    |   Part IV   | Part V

Part VI   |   Part VII   |   Part VIII   |

(All links open new windows.)

Apprehension hung in the air as Sally Bennett and her children huddled into the small conference room.

Joanie and Carolyn sat side-by-side at the end, clutching hands and watching their mother.

Det. Marks took a seat at the other end of the table.

Darrin stood behind his mother’s chair, curious why the large uniformed officer was standing so close to her.

“Detective, please, what is all this about? Why did you insist I return to the hospital?” Sally’s voice was hoarse from exhaustion and stress.

“Mrs. Bennett, Dr. Lacey updated his report to rename the man we first believed to be your husband John Doe 417.”

Sally held his gaze. “No, it’s not Frankie.”

“Your husband was adopted as an infant, correct?”

“Yes.”

“And he had no information about his birth mother? Never went looking for her? Anyone ever come looking for him?”

“All he knew was she was an unwed teen, and he was adopted by an older couple from Maine.” She glanced back at her son then addressed the detective again. “But I remember Darrin telling me no record was found of Frankie’s adoption. How is that possible?”

Gavin stared at his clasped hands, choosing his words carefully.

“Ma’am, I wish I had answers for you, But I promise you, we’re exploring every possibility.”

“What does that mean… exploring every possibility, and why did you demand my mom come here.” Darrin stood behind Sally, his hands clenched in anger.

“Mr. Bennett, we-”

“Enough!” He motioned toward his sisters. “Their nerves are frayed, and hearts broken.” Darrin rested his hand on Sally’s shoulder. “Whether or not you find my dad; whether you find the answers to this case… I have to protect my mother and sisters. If you know something we don’t, tell us. Otherwise, I need to get my family as far from here as possible, so they can rest their bodies… and their minds.”

Gavin Marks saw the fear, anger, and defeat in the faces of Sally and her children.

Swallowing his pride and the rest of his questions, the detective stood and walked toward the door.

Though his face was devoid of expression, he narrowed his eyes at Brian Holland as he passed and knew the uniformed officer understood.

Marks paused at the door and turned to Sally.

“Mrs. Bennett, please come with me… your children too.”

Sally and her daughters left their seats, following the detective without question, but Darrin hesitated.

“Mom?”

She paused in the doorway, half-turning to her son.

“What else can we do, Darrin? We need answers.” She left the room with Officer Holland close behind.

Marks stood at a large gray door just down the hall. As the small group caught up to him, he peered through the window and waved his hand. A door release buzzed, and the detective pulled the door open just in time for Carolyn and Joanie to walk through. A glance over her shoulder brought Sally relief when she saw her son was the last person through the door.

A lone nurse sat at the large nurse’s station. She exchanged looks with Det. Marks and placed her hand on a file next to her.

He knew the task was done and motioned for the family follow him again.

Just past the nurse’s station, three men were standing in the hall. Marks stopped when he reached them and turned to Sally.

“Mrs. Bennett, this is detectives Ganson and Hill from Baxter, and this is Dr. Stanley.”

The men all murmured greetings.

Marks nodded for Ganson to continue.

“Ma’am, we answered a call earlier this evening after a lady found her neighbor dead in his apartment.”

Sally gasped, clutching her chest.

Ganson held up his hand. “I apologize for saying it that way but let me finish. The man wasn’t dead but critically wounded. Paramedics got him stabilized enough for transport and due to an emergency at the closest hospital, we ended up here.”

“Detective, what does this have to do with our family?” Carolyn was now showing the same anger as her brother.

“The neighbor and the landlord identified the man as Gary Sievers. Is that name familiar to you?”

Sally glanced at each of her children as they shook their heads, weary and confused. “No, it isn’t, detective. So, what does he have to do with all this?”

Ganson looked to Hill, who spoke up.

“Mrs. Bennett, after the doctors worked on the victim, I went through his clothes looking for a cell phone… business card… anything that could lead us to family or friends. I found a wallet and the driver’s license identified the man as Franklin Bennett.”

His sisters emitted twin screams and Darrin moved to their sides, holding on to them both.

Sally grabbed the detective’s arm. “Where is he? Where is my husband?”

“Mrs. Bennett-”

She cut Gavin Marks off with a glare.

“I want to see him now! You should have told me he was here the second I walked in. Where is he? Tell me now or I’ll check every room on this floor!”

Dr. Stanley stepped in her path.

“Ma’am, you don’t know everything yet.”

“I know he’s alive!”

“Yes… he has a pulse and a heartbeat, but it may not be enough to save him.”

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

 

The Devil You Know, Part VIII #52weeks52stories

Intruder

#52weeks52stories: Week 18

Word prompt: ranch

Word Count: 1181

~~~~~

Part I    |     Part II    |    Part III    |   Part IV   | Part V

Part VI   |   Part VII   |

(All links open new windows.)

Darrin Bennett drummed his fingers against the steering wheel. Marbury, Pennsylvania wasn’t a large city or even a business hub. But as one of four cities that shared the interstate exchange, evening traffic was always headache-inducing as suburbans scurried back to their ranch-style homes.
He glanced at his mother in the passenger seat. She’d been quiet since they left the coroner’s office.
“How are you holding up, mom?”
Just like she’d done in Pax Lacey’s office, Sally Bennett sat with her back straight. Her seat belt strained against her as though trying to push her back in the passenger seat.
“Tired. Confused. Pissed off. Scared.” She fingered the small handbag in her lap. “It was horrible enough being attacked in the Ramirez home. But we both lived through that and are so grateful.”
Tears pooled in her eyes.
“Then to see your dad… my husband lying dead on the floor…”
Sally leaned her head back, causing the tears to run down the sides of her face.
“… and now we know the man is not your father. No one knows who he is, or what has happened to my Fran-”
Her voice broke as her husband’s name disappeared inside a deep sob.
With his eyes still on the road, Darrin reached over, gripping his mother’s hand. Exhaustion bore down on him and his nerves were as frayed as Sally’s.
He and Merri should be busy packing up their kids and dropping them off with Merri’s parents before heading to Carolyn’s for a hang-out weekend to plan Sally and Frankie’s thirty-second wedding anniversary dinner.
But instead, he was living out the plot of some bad movie-of-the-week melodrama.
Sally’s deepening sobs synced with the throbbing in Darrin’s head.
He knew she couldn’t take much more. Since the week began, his mom had: sent his dad off on a business trip; been attacked in a client’s home; found out the attacker was her husband… and he was dead; now knew the attacker was not her husband but shared his face.
Darrin needed air, but with one hand on the wheel and the other still holding his mom’s hand, increasing the air conditioning or opening a window would have to wait.
His mania calmed as he passed the Limerick Avenue ext. The next exit would lead to Colon Regional Hospital.
Apprehension tugged his mind. Why was his mother ordered back to the hospital not by her doctor, but by a police detective?
He did not understand what they were walking into, but he would demand full disclosure from the police. They had the right to know. Is mother needed to know. He wouldn’t risk losing her to hysteria again. After this meeting, he would find Sally’s doctor and get her re-admitted… at least for the night.
Darrin flipped on his turn indicator as he approached the exit and glanced in his rear-view mirror to make sure his sisters were still behind him in Joanie’s Ford Escape.
Sally’s sobs had turned into pitiful moans. Darrin gripped her hand tighter, determined to do right by his mother and for his family.

*

Ganson and Hill were incredulous as Marks and Holland recounted the week’s events involving the Bennett family.
Pete Hill whistled long and low while staring through the unit window at the comatose man.
Lennie Ganson rested his hands on his hips.
“Well, you guys have seen both men. What do we have here? Doppelgangers? Twins? A bad remake of The Boys from Brazil?”
Gavin Marks leaned against the wall, his arms folded across his chest.
“I wish I knew, but nothing has added up in this case from the start. Pax confirmed the ID of the body in the morgue fell through before we stumbled upon you guys.” He tilted his head across the hall. “Your guy’s ID says he’s the real Bennett, and his family will be here shortly to confirm, but that still doesn’t tell me who’s lying in the morgue.”
Pete pulled out his notepad.
“The landlord who called 911 and the woman who found this guy gave his name as Gary Sievers. Said he kept to himself, didn’t go out much, but only at night when he did.”
Brian Holland took out his own notepad and copied the details from Hill.
“His injuries were life-threatening so the paramedics were focused on stabilizing him for transport, not searching his pockets.”
Marks addressed Officer Holland.
After we speak with the Bennett family, we’ll need to visit the crime scene and speak with the people who found him,” he grinned at Det. Ganson, “if you don’t mind us visiting your county?”
Ganson threw his hands up.
“With everything I know… and don’t know about our cases we need each other to put the puzzle pieces together. Visit away!”
The men shared a laugh while a young orderly approached them.
“Detectives, we have a small conference room set up for you just past the nurse’s station.”
The small group followed the orderly down the hall. Marks paused before entering the room.
“Holland, the Bennett family should be here soon. Go down and wait for them and get them up here as quickly and quietly as possible… without telling them too much.”
“You don’t think any of them are involved in this do you?”
“Oh, no. They’re as much in the dark about this as we are. But Mrs. Bennett… well, after what she went through the night of the attack and just being discharged from the hospital today, I wanted her seated and calm as possible… and a doctor close by, before we tell her about her husband. Of course, she’ll be glad he’s alive, but his condition isn’t stable and he does require surgery… if he ever gets strong enough.”
Holland’s large frame sagged.
“She gets good news, then bad news, then even worse news.” He grimaced. “Bet a week ago, she never imagined her life taking a turn like this.”

*

Darrin eased into the parking space and cut the engine when he saw he sister take the space next to him.
Still holding his mother’s hand, he gave it a gentle squeeze.
“Ready for this, mom?”
She didn’t respond and he turned toward her, and his heart broke more.
For the first time since Tuesday night, Sally Bennett was asleep without the aid of emotional shock or prescribed medications. It wasn’t a peaceful sleep, however. Her furrowed brow and tight jawline proved her mind was not at ease.
Carolyn tapped on his window and Darrin opened the car door.
“Wish I could just let her sleep.”
“I know. I wish we all were asleep and could wake up from this nightmare.”
“Nothing is ever going to be the same again, is it?”
They both glanced at their baby sister standing near the back of Darrin’s car.
“We’ll get through this, Joanie, one way or another.” Carolyn’s faint smile did little to encourage her sister.
“No, we’ll get through this together.”
They all turned at the sound of Sally’s voice.
“I just hope that includes your father.”

 

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