Saturday, April 11, 2009
Wordzzle 58 - Careful if you have Triskaidekaphobia
It all starts at the Raven's Nest. Take a gander at her site and you'll be in the know, with the program, in the groove, out in front of the herd, behind the curtains pulling the strings, strung out on words... anyway you get the picture.
The Ten Word Challenge: acrobat; grocery store; ceiling fan; dandelion; bumble bee; alabaster; scissors; chartreuse; strenuously; cube
Mini Challenge: iPod; poison ivy; computer; interpreter; optometrist
For any new readers, I do what's called a mega-wordzzle and each week is a new episode of a continuing series.
This week's episode: Identity
The rest of the drive to Laughlin for Thomas and Jean was uneventful, though they did get to see snow on the small section of I-40 they traversed before making the downhill finish to their destination. McCool loved the sweeping corners and vistas that greeted the traveler on the drive down into the Colorado River valley. He pushed the little civic through the corners like Mario Andretti, always sure to keep power to the wheels, never over steering or getting out of shape. When he went too fast Jean tapped him on the arm and reminded him of his promise to “Drive it like you own it" not like you stole it.
They had made reservations at a condo across the river from Laughlin in Bullhead City. After stopping at the local grocery store for provisions, they unpacked and settled in. Thomas left Jean at the community pool and headed over to the Laughlin PD. He'd phoned Dan and they'd agreed to meet there.
"Thomas, this is Captain Jenkins" Dan said as they stepped into the Captain's office. "Nice to meet you McCool" the captain stated as his shook Thomas's hand. "Likewise Captain, and I'm glad to be meeting the local constabulary as a consultant and not a customer" McCool grinned at the cop. "How much has Dan filled you in on the case?" the captain inquired. "Enough that I made some calls to a friend of mine in the Bureau before accepting the job" replied Thomas. "On a strictly unofficial basis" McCool added.
McCool went on to tell the captain that Sgt Johnson had special knowledge of national serial killer MOs and open cases. He added that there was one interesting facet of the undisclosed details that his friend at the FBI had seen on a few unsolved cases, but they were spread throughout the country from North Dakota to New Jersey and points in between. "The internal mutilation is quite unique and matches what happened here. McCool stated. "What is really fascinating is that Interpol reported a case of apparent drowning in France in the last couple of days, that under further investigation during the autopsy, showed the same internal damage" he said as they took seats around the Captain's conference table.
"Are you saying that what we have here may be part of an international serial killer's doing?" the Captain asked. "I'm certainly not qualified to be an expert interpreter of this data" McCool answered, "but Sgt Johnson is and he thinks it's worth investigating." "It looks like you're going to get FBI help whether you want it or not" he concluded.
"Working with the FBI is like stepping into poison ivy; you don't know how bad it is till you start to itch" the Captain explained. The group huddled beneath the ceiling fan and laid out the investigative schedule. McCool would act as liaison to his friend at the bureau, while also looking into the last victim, Connie Liplin, and her past. He would be looking for any inconsistency or oddity in her murder. The Captain strenuously maintained that he wanted all hands on board with the local investigation.
The town council, through the auspices of the Casinos, had allocated funds for Dan and Thomas as consultants on the case. Now they wanted results and they wanted them yesterday. Both the consultants were given their own workspace, nothing more than the standard 3 sided cube, in the headquarters building and they got to work.
Meanwhile, in the Hoover Building in Washington, D.C. a very special "special agent" was looking into the complaint of one Jesus Hermado Valenezuala. Mr Valenezuala had asserted that he had never purchased a home in Laughlin, Nevada and certainly didn't owe the now defunct bank, IndieMac, $483,000. The deal had been done by Liplin Realtors in Laughlin with the backing of a brokerage in California. Nothing uncommon about this, except at the time of the alleged transaction, Mr. Valenezuala was incarcerated in Lompoc prison.
Now special agent Rodgers was no scam virgin, no alabaster white angel riding in to save the downtrodden. Agent Rodgers had been brought in to investigate mortgage fraud because he was an expert in the field. He was given the choice of 10 years imprisonment or provide complete restitution of funds and work for the fraud squad. In what seemed like the most impossible of outcomes, he took the opportunity to apply his knowledge to uncovering the many scams that sprung up during the housing bubble.
It didn't take the ex-conman long to find a list of fraudulent loans connected to the Connie Liplin Real Estate agency and the L.A. based mortgage company, Homeshares, Inc. It would be one of the big ironies of the times that a self confessed swindler would uncover the tip of the iceberg a massive fraud for the government. He sat at his computer in a tiny little office with barely enough light and watched the name of Connie Liplin come up as deceased. Quite recently deceased in fact. Rodgers picked up his phone and hit the extension for his boss. She would want to know about this right away.
An ocean away, the quickly healing and newly transformed Charlotte Vignoire was unaware of the nosey inspections of the federal government. It wouldn’t matter anyway since one of her previous identities was responsible for the mess. She laid back on the lounge by the pool in the back yard of her replica of a French country manse on the outskirts of town, watched a bumblebee alight on a dandelion and sipped her wine cooler.
The landscape took on an almost chartreuse hue during this time of the day. Funny that she would remember that color’s name. It had been the color of her hated high school basketball team’s jerseys. As she recalled she’d taken a pair of scissors to her uniform, cut it into shreds, and then burned it.
Back in Laughlin, at poolside herself, Jean was looking at a picture of the deceased Connie Liplin from the local paper. Something seemed familiar about her face. She supposed she’d need to go see the optometrist when they got back to Phoenix, if every face she saw started looking familiar. Still she thought the face looked like an athlete from back in school. Maybe the dead lady just resembled some acrobat or volleyball player from her long past high school days. “”God”, she thought, “Thomas is turning 60 this month and I’m just two years behind.” “What happened to all that time?”
Jean put the earpieces from her iPod back in her ears and reclined on her chaise. If it started driving her crazy about the woman’s image she’d send the picture to her youngest sister Lara and let her take a look. For now she would enjoy the sun and some Carrie Underwood.
In L.A., Charles Hollingsworth was putting together the final paperwork for the new firm to participate in the PPIP program. If this worked out right he would go from relative obscurity to one of the richest men in world, surely in the top ten. Along with Cathy/Charlotte, he stood to make upwards of 50 billion in profit, no matter how long the recovery took. And if the new president’s plans actually worked, they could double that. Charles touched the flame of his custom butane lighter to his real Cuban Cohiba cigar. He sat back in the fine leather office chair of his den, clicked on e-mail and started a message. “Dear Charlotte, ....wish you were here.”