Saturday, August 30, 2008

Wicked, Wretched, Wizened and Wordzzle.... 28 weeks, that's half a year, right?

Stop by our high priestess of wordzzle, the amazing and charming Raven at the Raven's Nest if you're new to our weekly foray into literary challenge. She has all the rules (guidelines really) and you can check out everyone else's offerings on her Mr. Linky.

Should you dare to tarry hear at the Bloggerhood, you'll find yourself involved in a continuing tale of intrigue, love, lust, greed and worst of all MURDER! I'm warning you now; be careful, it's not for everyone.

The words for this week's ten word challenge were: pogo stick, ant farm, psychic, tin box, wall safe, Waterloo, surge protector, pneumonia, ravages of time, turtle

And for the Mini Challenge: Swollen ankles, opera singer, toothy grin, oil paints, potter’s wheel

Should you require background to keep up with the players, then go here for past episodes.

This weeks offering: Life is full of surprises

Sgt Johnson was busy reviewing the last murder scene photos from the Miami site. Included in the pile of toys found at the front of the property were some unusual ones. He looked again at the close-ups and noticed that the ant farm looked to be occupied. Juxtaposed with the pogo stick the two children's amusements seemed mundane but somehow out of place. The ancient tin box in the next photo contained what looked to be tubes of oil paints and a tiny doll with an extraordinarily toothy grin. Why would a vicious murderer go to such links to set up a murder scene? It didn't fit in with any of the possible profiles. He began to wonder if that was the point. Was all this just a clever diversion?

The Sgt's cell phone buzzed and he answered. It was Gail from forensics in DC. She was 8 months pregnant and first regaled him with how hard it was to work with swollen ankles and how with her huge belly it was now impossible to get close enough to her potter's wheel to continue her hobby. "I'm sorry you're feeling miserable Gail" Johnson commented. "What have you got for me?"

"We went through everything from the Miami crime scene again as you asked" she replied. "Nothing new turned up from the contents of the wall safe." "But we did get a hit on the toy turtle from the front yard" she added. Johnson leafed through the photos till he came to one showing the turtle. In was in tough shape and looked as if the ravages of time and the hands of the many kids who must have played with it had taken their tolls. "That turtle belongs to the Dept of Justice" she continued. "It was taken as evidence from one of the houses at Wounded Knee." "What year was that Gail?” the Sgt asked. “1973" "So that turtle has been sitting around somewhere for 35 years and just turns up at our crime scene, huh?" "Looks that way to me" she replied. "How do you suppose that happened?" she added. "I'm a profiler not a physic" the Sgt jokingly answered. "Who have you told about this besides me?" he asked. "You're the first" Gail said. "For now, let's leave it that way." "I've got to do some checking."

Johnson hung up with Gail and bent down to turn on the surge protector for his computer. His laptop was ill according to Jason in tech support. "It's like your computer has so many viruses it's in bed with pneumonia" the geekster had told him. So he was using this ancient Dell desktop from his home office. Since so many other valuable things were on the hard drive he always brought his surge protector with it. Included in the files were the locations of evidence storage in the Justice system. "Someone on the inside is about to meet their Waterloo" he mused.
He told himself the fat lady hadn't sung yet on this case. "Or as the politically correct would say: The spatially challenged female opera singer has not concluded her performance" he joked aloud.
"Not bad" he thought. "I ought to tell that one to McCool."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Wide, Wide World of Wordzzle

If you are new the Wordzzle then jump over to the Raven's Nest and check out the other stories, the rules ( well, suggestions really) and participate or read or whatever.

Should you feel like involving yourself in my wordzzle series then take a chance and read this weeks installment.

This Week's Ten Word Challenge is: tiramisu, transfixed, evacuation, Queen of the Nile, pillowcase, grammatical, voice inflection, pacified, microclimate, swami

The Mini Challenge: maggots, thermal pocket, industrial, bovine, feminized

As always I combine the 15 words into one continuing saga.

This weeks is: Information gathering 101

Things were starting to get hot in DC's hottest of upscale men's clubs, "The Queen on the Nile." Claude thought the whole Egyptian thing a bit overdone and tacky, but after all it was America and most of these guys were young republicans, so what did you expect. Years earlier a place like this would have been in the suburbs in Maryland or in the seedier sections of DC. Now with the infusion of the neo-cons, stately Georgetown had taken on a more seedy if slightly upscale character.

It was interesting to watch the current administration's elite stand transfixed as the dancers removed their Egyptian looking G-strings and costumes. Someone should have told them that the Swami costumes for the bouncers were really from another culture and looked pretty gay to boot. Debaucherrie could tell by the voice inflection and grammatical correctness of the conversations he overheard that the crowd contained the requisite number of Yale and Harvard grads.

He'd been following Armistead Brewster for a couple of days. Deciding when and where to take him and setting up a site for interrogation had used up the remainder of his time spent in DC. In the end he picked an abandoned building in an older industrial section in Maryland just outside the DC city limits.

While his observations had not given Claude any info about Armistead's cohorts, it had allowed him to enjoy some of the Districts better restaurants. Last night's Tiramisu at La Soeur Vilaine had been worth the trip up I-95. Interstate 95, what a joke. It was just an evacuation route for city dwellers up and down the east coast to escape the oppressive heat and humidity. They were all in search of a more pleasant seaside or mountain microclimate.
Whatever it took to keep the masses pacified he supposed.
Brewster got up to leave. Claude took his time, knowing that Brewster's Beemer would not start.

Armistead Brewster the 3rd was not accustomed to being naked and exposed. His personality thrived on working in the shadows. So being tied to a chair in a spread eagle fashion was extremely uncomfortable. It made him feel feminized and vulnerable. He was blinded by floodlights shining in his eyes. Brewster could just make out the outline of someone standing in the shadows. At his feet, his naked feet, there were the remains of what looked to be some bovine creature . The disgusting and smelly things were covered with crawling maggots. The intensity of the lights seemed to increase. Armistead felt himself trapped inside some horrendous thermal pocket of pain, revolting smell and total vulnerability.

Just when he thought things couldn't get worse, a pillowcase was drawn over his head. The open end was tightened by some sort of rope or twine around his neck. He felt himself become dizzy as the rope was tightened and then loosened. A hand cuffed him hard alongside his head.

"Wake up Mr. Brewster, we're going to have a conversation." "I'm going to ask you some questions and you're going to answer them." "Is that understood?" asked an ominous voice.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

So 26 is a good thing, right?

This week's Ten Word Challenge is: exponentially, Nightshade, braces, impossibility, the beginning of time, barracuda, playful banter, delve, automatic, bewildered

The Mini Challenge: fragment, hemoglobin, insipid, flourish, juxtapose

OK, this has gone on for some time now. If you are new to this then head on over to the Raven's Nest and read the other stories. I am much too lazy to do more than the Megawordzzle each week and for some time now I've kept a continuing series going.

Bad, Badder, Baddest

Armistead Brewster the 3rd felt the vibration of the phone in his pocket. He excused himself and left the room where he and two other federal deputy prosecutors were meeting and took the text message in the hall. The operative was not one to engage in playful banter; the message simply said: "Op chngd 2trgt dl8d call l8tr." "What was the cowboy doing now?" he wondered silently to himself. This whole operation had taken a bad turn. The complexity was starting to eat at its effectiveness, like a barracuda let loose in a fish tank full of sardines.
Perhaps it as time to give this idea a dose of virtual nightshade and shut this damn thing down before it got too weird. The chances of exposure increased exponentially with each new incident. Of course that was not his decision to make. Brewster dialed his contact and relayed the update. Where the information went from there he wasn't sure, but he had an idea.
The contact wasn't in the service of the government anymore, at least not officially. No, she was a private contractor now and finding it extremely lucrative, though dealing with the likes of the insipid Armistead Brewster the 3rd was a pain. "What fools these dipshit idealogs were" she thought to herself. "As if any group in the government really had the people's best interest in mind." At least she had her priorities straight; she was in it for the money. Maybe she wasn't ideologically pure, but she was sure as hell a lot more honest than the people who paid her. No time to delve into that now, she needed to get to a secure phone. Since the beginning of time it had always been the middle managers who took care of operational problems. It was no different now. This fragment of information would be moved up the line with her recommendation for the next course of action. KR would be pissed, but he would listen to her suggestions as well.

The operative pulled the late model Lincoln town car into the clearing. He waited 25 minutes for his backup to arrive, looking bewildered and irritated. "What the hell are we doing here?" the backup asked. The operative said little, "we’ll be leaving my vehicle here" was all he murmured as he pulled his automatic with a flourish and put two slugs into the gas tank. The Lincoln seemed to expand, then lift up and finally sigh with a mighty roar. The resulting explosion and fire would leave little evidence and certainly none to connect this car to the accident. "Let's go" he ordered as the backup accelerated out of the clearing and on to the road, "Time to go back to DC."

McCool and Jean spent the night at Daisy's house after the accident. The insurance man wouldn't be on site till Monday anyway and besides, Daisy and her husband Ron were a hoot. The adjuster showed up and immediately upon seeing the accident scene and the remains of the Cool van told Thomas the van would be considered totaled. He assisted the McCools in getting a rental, a Chevy Malibu from Enterprise in a town 20 miles away.
"Well, we were going to sell the van anyway" Jean commented. "I know" McCool answered as they hit the road back towards North Carolina and home, "but I was kinda looking forward to showing it off and selling it at a profit." "Now we have to live with the settlement and insurance companies never give you what your vehicle is worth." "Worse yet, we won't see the money for all the customization" he concluded. "Let it go Tom" Jean answered, "It would have been a lot worse if we had been in the van." "Yea, we wouldn't be alive for me to be bitching about it, I get that baby."

It had seemed an impossibility that Gunny Henderson's information was correct. What would the DOJ be doing involved in his being set up wondered Claude? It made sense in a strange way though, only the US government would have the capability to juxtapose his hemoglobin with that of the real killer. If that was truly the case it went farther than just DOJ; the CIA or Homeland security had to be in it as well. This made the situation pretty bad, but not unsolvable. First he'd have a talk with this Armistead idiot (who the fuck named a kid Armistead anyway?) and go from there. Henderson indicated that the lead had come from a conversation picked up in a snotty Georgetown Men's club. This guy obviously thought he was secure there. Of course he was not. In the world of bad men, badder asses and the baddest, Claude was at the head of the last group. He would find out who was behind this before he dispatched Brewster. At that point his enemies would wonder WTF was up. He would have to make it look like a hit by someone else, perhaps the info Brewster supplied would give him an idea.

Sgt Johnson kissed Zan with all his heart. He wanted her to know he would be missing her. She stepped into the security line and waved. She was headed back home and he was headed back to the motel. The case was waiting. The call from McCool about the van had been a surprise. Lucky his friend and his wife were no where near the vehicle when the truck hit it. He would follow up on the accident with the investigating office later in the week. He was sure it was just a coincidence, but he was security conscious enough to check it out anyway. If they were getting close to the killer in the "Alley Cat Murders" then anything could be possible. He stepped around the temporary braces put in place to hold up the new security screen and smiled at Zan as she walked down the corridor toward the plane. Why did they always seem to be saying goodbye?


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Waa - Waa - Wordzzle #25?

This week's Ten Word Challenge is: middle finger, text message. the letter “Q,” Shangri-La, melodramatic, compensate, elixir, band of brothers, quadruped, explicit

The Mini Challenge: deposition, monosyllabic, better off dead, dubious, posh

For any web wanderers who don't know what's happening here please go to the Raven's Nest and get the links to all the other stories. If you feel like it, stop here a while and read about the continuing adventures of Thomas McCool and his wife Jean, Sgt Johnson and his girl Zan and the alleged eco-terrorist Claude Debaucherrie.

This week's episode: Life's little changes

Thomas and Jean were sorry to see Paul and Zan leave. "There's something sad about going to airports isn't there?" Jean asked rhetorically of McCool. "Yea, I know what you mean" he replied. "I'm not being too melodramatic am I" she queried in earnest. "No baby, you're not." They drove in silence for a while till they were out of Atlanta and in the country.

"It'll be nice to get back to where people wave at you from their cars instead of giving you the middle finger routine" Thomas observed. "Folks in the city can be a bit too explicit for my taste" he finished. About this time a pop-up thunderstorm took shape. McCool looked for a roadside eatery where they might obtain a "plate lunch". As the rain started coming down in earnest he spotted "Daisy's Little Slice of Heaven", an eatery advertising pork Barbecue as their specialty. He pulled in and found one of the few remaining parking spots at the edge of the lot next to the road. "Grab the umbrella Jean; we'll have to make a run for it." "The food must be good, this place looks really busy" she countered. Jean grabbed her signature red umbrella with the letter "Q" in gold emblazoned on it. Just under the letter in smaller type was the saying "Question everything and especially everyone in power." She like the sentiment and loved the huge umbrella. They exited the van and made haste to the front door of Daisy's.

As they entered they were assaulted by the cooking odors of barbecued chicken, pork and beef. It smelled so good they weren't surprised to see many of the local police enjoying the great food. Law enforcement was definitely a band of brothers and once word got out about the joint's good food Daisy's business had almost quadrupled. All this Thomas and Jean later learned while talking with the owner, Daisy Arnison McCalister. "Well baby, it looks like I finally found the Shangri-La of barbecue" McCool whispered to Jean as they worked their way to an open table by the window.

The rain came down even harder as they ordered their lunches and listened to the chatter of people enjoying good southern cooking. McCool went for a pork barbecue sandwich with slaw, collard greens, fresh tomatoes, fried okra, corn bread and sweet tea. Jean settled on barbecue chicken with black-eyed peas, dirty rice and corn bread. She joined McCool in ordering sweet tea as well. Daisy herself came and took their order and commented on how hard the rain was coming down. "It’s got to where you could hardly hear yourself think" she remarked. "That's OK” Thomas answered, "My sense of smell is working overtime in here anyway." "I hope that's a good thing" Daisy countered. "I wouldn't want the dubious honor of deafening a customer just to make my food taste better." "Wouldn’t really compensate for the loss, would it?" she finished.

Daisy took their order to the counter and Thomas and Jean held hands and talked about Paul and Zan for a while. Their food came and it tasted better than it smelled. No one had gotten up to go out in pouring rain since they came in so there was a diner full of witnesses to what happened next.

As the rain had continued increasing in volume the road had started to flood. A car stopped and attempted a turn across the road into the small market and gas station across from Daisy's place. Just then an 18 wheeler hauling scrap metal on a flatbed trailer came barreling up behind the car. When the truck attempted to stop the trailer came around and wiped out everything on the side of the road in front of Daisy's Little Slice of Heaven. The first thing struck was the Cool van. Next the trailer took down the sign and two more vehicles that had been parked out near the road with McCool. When the truck finally came to a stop all the scrap metal was scattered along the road for several hundred feet. The car had seen the trucks dilemma and sped away before it was hit.

The police in the diner immediately jumped up and took control of the situation. One young officer was kept inside to take a deposition from each witness to the accident. When he came to McCool's table he asked if they had seen the wreck. "Yes, we saw it all" replied Jean. "We were looking right at it when he took out our van" she continued. "At least I assume the truck driver was a guy, I didn't get that good a look at the driver." "I was paying all my attention to the devastation the trailer was causing" she finished. "Sorry Mam" the young cop offered. "I'll let the captain know you'll need transportation and a place to stay" he added.

McCool and Jean described in agonizing detail how the trailer had wiped out everything in its path and how the car that was turning did not have turn signals on but was stopped for some time before the truck, which was traveling too fast for the conditions came upon it. The young officer moved on to the next table and Daisy came over to talk with the McCools. She asked if the fancy van had been theirs and offered to put them up for the night if it became necessary. Thomas answered in monosyllabic speech while his brain thought of how they could get a rental, when he should contact the insurance company and the miracle that no one was seriously hurt in this big mess. The driver of the truck had walked away from the wreck, though when he first emerged he was on all fours like some sort of human quadruped. He was very obviously shook up and in one of the police cruisers now being questioned by the cops.

The upshot of the conversation, could anyone in the diner have heard it, was that the driver thought he would have been better off dead than to get a ticket and lose his CDL. He had told his boss the brakes on that trailer weren't very good and they couldn't handle the weight of the scrap metal, which was already overloaded anyway. He had been trying to slow the trailer down without burning up the brakes when he came upon the car. He had been doing about the speed limit, but was working to get his speed down. He swore that he had time to see the driver typing on his phone, like he was sending a text message, he said. Why hadn't the guy just turned in to the market instead of staying out on the road so long?

Sgt Johnson and Zan took little pleasure from the flight back to Miami, in spite of the relatively posh surroundings in first class. The airline had upgraded Johnson and Zan when they saw his FBI credentials and he agreed to carry his weapon and act as a sky marshal. Part of his training had included sky marshal school and he still was accredited, though he would have to make sure he sent a report to homeland security. They could get very touchy if they weren't kept informed about who was carrying weapons on planes. With the last incident of a pilot discharging his firearm in the cockpit they were even more uptight. Still, first class had a nice feeling for Zan and she drank the free Champagne as though it were the elixir of the Gods that it was purported to be. Something about Paul seemed changed since this last visit with the McCools. She wondered what had been said and by whom. Well, Paul would tell her in his own good time, that she knew.

Claude came back into Miami with a mission on his mind. Time to stop messing about with derivative actions and get down to business. He picked out the throw away mobile he was using to contact Gunny Henderson and hit the speed dial for the Gunny. Henderson answered and it was soon obvious that he was drunk. "I thought we agreed you would stay sober till the operation was complete?" Claude asked menacingly. "I'm sure I was quite explicit" he added. "Don't sweat the small shit cowboy" the gunny returned. "My part of the operation IS over" he chuckled. "I've got the name of who is screwing with you" he continued. "Though I don't know what good it's going to do you to know" he stated.

"Not over the phone" Claude reminded him. "We'll meet at position 1 at the regular time; do you understand?" "Yea, 10-4 brother, I'll see ya" the Gunny signed off. Claude slowed down and turned into a small diner. The meeting wasn't for another 2 hours and he was hungry.
Who had the Gunny uncovered as his nemesis and why the comment about not doing him any good to know?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

24 Wordzzles, are you kidding me?

This Week's Ten Word Challenge is: ghastly, excrement, bill of sale, vague, thicket, precarious, life long ambition, gunnery sergeant, posthumous, bellowed

And for the Mini Challenge: lap of luxury, yellow-bellied sapsucker, quinine, generalization, abnormality

If you don't know how this works please go to the Raven's Nest. There you can find links to all the other stories. If you have time check out the continuing adventures of McCool and the Gang.

Karma baby, karma

Juan's life was going great, or so he thought. His cocaine and ecstasy sales were up and he was living the high life. The girls just kept coming to Miami for the South Beach scene and the pickings were getting easier and easier as he perfected his pitch. These little twits from the sticks were looking to live in the lap of luxury and he knew how to dangle the bait.

In fact, things were so good that he had just purchased this 2006 Saleen S7. At $68,000 it was a bargain and the bill of sale showed the actual mileage at just 3700, so it was really like a new car. How some dumbass gunnery sergeant ever got hold of the car was a mystery, but the numbers checked out and the car had a good title. The gunny had been pretty vague about the car’s pedigree, but what did Juan care, he had his Saleen and it was sweet. It had been a life long ambition of Juan’s to own one of these super-fast and super sexy cars. Now that he had it he was going to push it to the edge.

He was on the way north up I95 to take a side road trip that promised plenty of turns, switchbacks and just plain all out driving fun. The nice thing about his business was the ability to let his flunkies take the risks and he took the profits. Here was his exit now. Juan downshifted from 5th at 80mph and hit the ramp. He knew this back country well and when he turned on to the two lane blacktop headed into the swamp country he hammered it. What a dream this car was to drive; so much torque and it held the corners like it was on rails.

As he hit the hairpin at the drop-off he heard a loud pop, simultaneously he lost steering control and the car headed straight instead of making the corner. Juan bellowed a curse as he and his Saleen sailed over a thicket and down a hundred feet to the swamp. Just when he thought he might actually survive the impact into the water the gas tank blew up like a small IED and immolated him as he sat in the driver’s seat. The smoking remains sank into the swamp and the gators went to work on the cooked remains of Juan.

Claude put away the small transmitter and field glasses he had brought with him for this job. The timing had been critical, a little too late and the car might have missed this deep portion of the swamp. A little too early and the car might have crashed into the opposite side of the road. Claude thought the timing had been just about perfect and the bonus of the exploding gas tank had been wonderful. If anyone ever found this scene and the chances of that were very slim indeed, they still would never know who or what it was. Claude started up the airboat and headed back into the Okefenokee. He needed to return this rental and get back to town. This little side job had been for Justine. She would never know about it, but she would never, ever have to see or worry about Juan again! There would be no posthumous fame for that piece of excrement. Merde; that was what he had been. Though somewhat ghastly, the demise of Juan Carbarello was a good thing.

Back outside Atlanta Paul and Thomas were reviewing the detail on Debaucherrie and the “Alley Cat Murders.” As it turned out there was no other forensic evidence at previous murder scenes that lead to Claude, but the evidence at Eminem’s murder in Miami was pretty solid. As far as Sgt Johnson was concerned Claude was still the number 1 suspect. McCool asked what was next and Sgt Johnson said it was back to Miami to look for any abnormality at the last crime scene. They joined Zan and Jean on the veranda for breakfast. As the Innkeepers served pancakes with blueberries, the couples watched a yellow-bellied sapsucker drumming away on a nearby tree. "Noisy little booger isn't he?" quipped Jean. "It may be a gross generalization, but most woodpeckers are pretty noisy" answered McCool. "Remember that one up in the mountains that pecked at the street lamp?" he continued. "Yes I do and it sounded like a tiny, tinny little jackhammer, if I remember right" Jean answered.

The group decided on getting an early start. Paul and Zan's flight back to Miami was at 10:30 and the Atlanta airport was always busy on Sundays. After breakfast they put their luggage in the Cool van and headed to the airport. "This will be our last trip in the van" McCool stated. "The business is getting a little precarious and I have other things I want to do with the rest of my life" he continued. "Can you take some time to come down to Miami with me for a while?" Paul asked. "I can put on the FBI payroll for a while as a consultant." "I know it's not big-time AC money, but it's a job and I think you can help me on this one if you're up for it."

"Jean and I will talk it over when we get home; I'll let you know in a couple of days” McCool answered. "Jean and I hadn't thought about me returning to investigations, except as a hobby." "That works for me" Sgt Johnson replied. "You know I'll be calling you on this one anyway, so it's just a choice of how you want to be involved." They let it stand at that till the plane loaded. The couples said their goodbyes and promised to stay in touch. And with these two couples they really would.

Claude took his last quinine tablet as he sat in the driver’s seat. The cramps in his legs subsided and he started the car. Time to get back to finding who was framing him for the idiotic "Alley Cat Murders." And he needed to give Gunny Henderson a call and see if he had come up with anything on his end. The $68,000 should buy a lot of information.