Saturday, May 30, 2009

Wordzzle 65 - Oh so lucky 11

Flit on over to the Raven's Nest and perch long enough to catch up on the other stories.

The ten word challenge: parasite, meals on wheels, crows, it's my fault, everything but the kitchen sink, on sale, patriotism, the love of my life, library card, common sense

The mini: blackmail, California, stethoscope, postage, crank

This Week's Episode: Questions?

In Laughlin the team was putting the incoming evidence together. The various identities of Constance/Connie/Cathy had been investigated. Agents in California had made the connection with Hollingsworth and were looking in to his recent untimely death in a house fire at his estate.

Operation Marigold had gotten a break when the FBI's mortgage fraud department had finally woken up and seen the name Connie Liplin in connection with Hollingsworth's company, massive fraud and the recent deaths of both parties. Common sense had somehow prevailed and the two different groups inside the FBI had communicated enough for the information to find open minds and ears.

Sgt Johnson had been surprised at the size and scope of the fraud his Agency comrades had disclosed to him, but comforted in knowing he'd also found the motive for several of the recent killings. With this information fed back through the Laughlin team they had gained a picture of what Liplin and Hollingsworth had been up to.

Dan and McCool had made the connection between the Casino Manager and Liplin. The accident at the Diner was under review, but the truck driver was now nowhere to be found. This only added to their suspicion about the murders and deaths in Laughlin.

Putting the events together in a time line indicated to both men that Connie had been cleaning up behind herself and eliminating all connections. They went so far as to hypothesize that perhaps the death of Charles Hollingsworth was less than accidental as well. Neither man could find any links to the victims and blackmail attempts. Banking records showed no checks from any of Liplin's accounts to any of the deceased.

They did find that large sums of money had been wire transferred to banks in the Caymans and then on to Swiss numbered accounts. The trail went dead there however, as the trusty Swiss refused to disclose any further information. The group threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Swiss, but to no avail. In the end, they left it up to the FBI's fraud unit to go after the info with international warrants.

They focused on what became of Cathy McCarty, the last know identity of Connie Liplin aka Constance Lawler. They referred to these as identities and not aliases because it became apparent early on in the investigation that they were dealing with a Chameleon of sorts. This criminal was very detail oriented. She had separate records for everything, right down to even having a library card in each identity's name. The woman had been able to live as more than one person for extended periods of time. It took a special talent to be able to do that, not to mention an excellent memory and a good deal of intellectual prowess.

The people involved in the investigation began to both respect and abhor this woman who continued to elude them. Sgt Johnson used his excellent profiling skills to make the connection between the internal mutilation of the female victims and the gang rape of Constance Lawler in high school. He was reasonably assured of the cause of the particular MO. What hadn't been established was how the killer incapacitated the victims; so Dan, McCool and even Jean had been tasked with reviewing all credit card purchases of Liplin and McCarty for the past several years. So far nothing had shown up.

"You know you're the love of my life, don't you?" McCool asked Jean. "I thought I was the bane of your existence" she smirked back. "Never, my love, but would you be so kind as to please uncover some receipt or other that will lead us to what our killer's doing to subdue her victims?" "I'd love to darling, but so far we got nothing" she answered. "The only thing I have that's even close to out of the ordinary is this one with postage due from Sedona" she added.

The three of them looked the receipt over carefully and found a number for the shop, but the name was smudged and unreadable. Dan made the call. "Archangel Apothecary" the person on the other end answered. Griggs spent a few minutes on the phone and then hung up. "I think we've got a winner" he smiled at Thomas and Jean. "Who feels like a run up the hill to Sedona?" he finished.

Jean decided to go with the two in case there was anything on sale at some of Sedona's great clothing stores. In these difficult economic times she looked on it as an act of patriotism to distribute a little discretionary income. The three picked up Carla just getting off her shift at the Pioneer and headed up I-40. The little Honda was full, but made it up the hill out of town with ease.

Charlotte was over her disappointment of losing the man at Hollingsworth's house. She'd raced after the Buick but somehow he'd eluded her. She was not a person to leave loose ends, but it seemed like an impossibility that the man would be able to correctly identify her from the short time of the incident, much less connect her to the fire. The damn fool had run over her foot and she was lucky it was only bruised on top of her instep and not broken. The comparatively light weight of the rear end of the front wheel drive car and her quick removal of her foot had saved her. It had also thrown her off her feet and made the man's escape possible. Perhaps he'd even been some crank hanging around Charles' house in an attempt to seek revenge for losing his home. There was no telling at this point.

She had made it back to the airport and was in the air before Hollingsworth's place was fully engulfed in flames. No one would be able to make the connection. The flight plan showed the flight as freight only. The plane had delivered $250,000 worth of Truffles which had been taken to several high end restaurants in the area. So she was in the clear there and knew it. Still, it always bothered her when her plans were redirected.

Inspector Georges De Solemaone was met at the door of the fine old French Chateau of Count Edmund Vignoire by a steely eyed house keeper. She took the inspector's coat and hat like it was a snake that would bite her. The inspector's impression of the cold and distant woman made him think it would take more than a stethoscope to prove this creature had a heart.

He was lead into a large sitting room with windows overlooking a field. Georges noticed the line of crows sitting on the adjacent fence and thought about the movie "The Birds" by Alfred Hitchcock. "Oh, I see you've noticed our flock of crows" the elderly gentleman seated in the large armchair said as a matter of introduction. "It's my fault I suppose" he continued, "I've gotten too old to chase them off and even grown used to their morbid company."

"Thank you for seeing me today Count" the inspector replied. "What else would I be doing, if not speaking with you young man?" "It's a great pleasure to have visitors" the Count finished. The two men sat and talked for over an hour. It came up that the Count didn't see his daughter very much and that all he knew for sure about her was that she'd done very well in the international real estate market prior to the collapse and was working with some Mid-East investors to do something in the states. The inspector couldn't put his finger on it, but he felt there was something wrong between the father and daughter.

The Count never could explain to the Inspector's satisfaction why his daughter would choose to live in French Guiana, half a world away. In point of fact, when he learned the old man was dying of a tropical parasite, presumed untreatable even with all the money necessary and modern medical facilities available worldwide, the Inspector became even more suspicious. Why wouldn't the daughter be at her father's side? Clearly he would need to look deeper into the family's history for answers. Inspector De Solemaone thanked the kindly old man and said his goodbyes.

As he exited the home after retrieving his hat and coat from the still unfriendly housekeeper, he noticed a van pulling up to the rear entrance of the Chateau. Deciding to start his investigations immediately, he walked to the van and engaged the driver in conversation.

It turned out that the company was a sort of fancy meals on wheels for wealthy French aristocrats and being paid for by the Count's daughter. The Inspector decided he would look into this aspect as well. The French loved their food, so why wouldn't the wealthy old Count have his meals prepared at his home? "Something more to investigate" the Inspector thought to himself as he drove out of the winding drive of the Chateau and merged onto the main road.

The drive back to Paris would give Georges time to mull what he'd learned today. Did it mean anything and could it possibly be connected to the international case of the serial killer. “Most likely not” he thought, “but there was definitely something not right at the Vignoire Chateau.” The Inspector would continue to investigate until he found out what that was.


Monday, May 25, 2009

The Word on Monday - Memorial

Memorial: serving to preserve remembrance, or of or relating to memory.

There it is. The reason for celebrating or more correctly, observing Memorial Day.

Today we look back at the price payed by our young men and women in defense of our nation, our ideals and our principles. While doing this, it would be advisable to think of the young people who now serve our nation in harm's way.

My fight was in South Viet Nam. My Dad's in India in WWII and my Granddad's in France. Today's Soldiers, Marines, Naval and Air Force personnel are in places like Kabul, Baghdad, Kuwait, Mosul, and Kirkuk. The names have changed from my era, but the challenges, dangers and opportunities remain the same.

The major challenge for me was to do my part serving my country even when I felt the war in Viet Nam was a mistake. I wonder how many of our men and women serving in the Mid-East are facing this exact same challenge today?

The danger in my war was of course that of being killed. But another danger lingered close at hand. That was the danger of becoming hardened and cynical. Of becoming trapped in a hatred for a people you knew little about. It was the danger of being so radically changed by the experience that joy and healthy living became a distant hope. I wonder how many of our young men and women are facing these exact dangers today?

The opportunity of my war was one of growth. Stress test your mettle, it hardens your nerves or undoes them. Being under fire in a war zone, even if just sitting in a bunker while rockets crash about your compound, tells you something about yourself. It also serves to give you a different outlook on life, a better perspective on what is truly important and allows you to eventually take joy in life here in the good ole USA. I sincerely hope that the young people serving in our armed forces will see the opportunity and take it.

Our country is in dire need of the exuberance, energy and optimism that only someone who had faced the possibility of death and lived through it can bring to bear.

While I think of all the young lives tragically lost in my war and the ones currently being lost in theirs, I remain hopeful that the majority of those serving will come back with renewed hope and vigor in setting our nation on a course of honor and prosperity.

God Bless all who have served and are now serving.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Wordzzle 64 - "And the number was Ten"

Wordzzle 64 - "And the number was Ten"

Take a couple of minutes, maybe 10, to go by the Raven's Nest and check out the person responsible for this story and others.

This Week's Ten Word Challenge: albino, trench, marble, assistant, Indian, What's that supposed to mean?, sound first principles, the key thing, moat, curtain

The mini challenge: under the surface, doomed, grand design, temple, aspirin

This Week's Episode: Out of the Woods?

Martin came awake quickly, startled by the sunglass wearing beauty at his driver's window. He'd left the window open to keep the car cooler, but it hadn't worked all that well. As he jumped in his seat to sit up straight, his feet hit both the parking brake and foot brake on his 02 Buick LeSabre. The American cruiser started a slide and then roll down the hill toward the road like a slab of marble coming off the cutting table at a quarry.

The wet leaves under the surface of the tall grass beneath the wheels acted as an assistant in the launch. He was so discombobulated by the events that it looked as if he was doomed to crash into the gate at the bottom of the hill before he could gain control of the vehicle. He just had time to notice that the car had run over the woman's foot when he jerked awake. He caught a strobe like vision of the gorgeous vixen falling backward as her sunglasses flew off and she went down. What stuck with him were the piercing emerald eyes and the look of intense hatred, scorn and fury that lashed out at his departing form as the car picked up speed.

Somehow he must have been considered essential by the fates, or necessary to the grand design, because he managed to get the car started and gunned the Buick out the front gate. His plans had changed instantly.

As he looked out the rear view mirror he noticed smoke emanating from Hollingsworth's magnificent home. He knew he wanted no part of whatever was taking place there. Foremost in his mind at this point was escape. One of the sound first principles his old man had taught him was to not get involved in domestic disputes and this had the look and smell of exactly that.

He spent just enough time looking in the rear view mirror that he failed to slow down for the construction trench he'd encountered on the way in to the estate. It was covered by heavy metal plates that used their weight to hold them down. In the interim between his arrival and his now hasty departure a large truck had displaced one of the plates. His passenger side front tire hit the gap perfectly, slicing the sidewall rubber at its weakest point. The ensuing blowout jerked the car hard right at over 50 miles per hour. The gallant Buick sailed across the irrigation ditch that ran beside the road and landed intact in a small vineyard in the field a few feet below the roadbed. It was as though Martin had leaped his mighty steed over the castle moat into the luscious courtyard of a Mediterranean keep.

"Starsky and Hutch have nothing on me" he muttered to himself as he rubbed his temple where it had contacted the door frame. "I'm going to need a case of Aspirin to get over this headache" he thought as he exited the LeSabre to check the damage. He looked up just as the rental car with the woman roared by and he ducked in fear. In her haste to catch up to him she missed him sitting in the vineyard. He sighed in relief and watched the vineyard keeper approach him down the track between the fields. To his surprise the young man was riding a classic Indian motorcycle and smiling. He wasn't sure which he found more surprising; the classic bike or the inappropriate smile.

The motorcyclist had the pure white hair of an albino, but a deeply tanned face. His smile grew as he parked the bike and came over to the Buick. The vintner surveyed the scene, noting that few vines had been damaged and the remarkably good condition of the car. "Well alright then, I guess it's OK if you want to do your commercial at the Winery" he grinned at Martin.

Martin was still shook-up though unhurt and could only utter; "What's that supposed to mean?" "Pardner, I watched you jump the ditch with this big honking Buick and figured yall must be doing some kind of TV add or something" the biker responded. "At least it looked that way from the other end of the field." "Are you OK?" he continued. "I guess" replied Martin, "I've never jumped a car over a ditch before." "And certainly never on purpose" he finished.

"You look like you're having a bad day man." "This incident could have been curtains for you if you hadn't done such a great job of landing your card on the access path." "The key thing here is that you're still breathing." "Let's see if we can get you and your ride out of here in one piece" the young man said.

Though Martin didn't know it, he'd escaped death twice in less than an hour. Some of the luckiest people in the world never know how incredibly lucky they really are. Martin Heingold was foremost among them on this day.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Wordzzle 63 or "A stitch in time"

The Maven of Wordzzle is the Raven of the Nest; Check her out here.

This week's ten Word Challenge will be:
Green goddess, shampoo, filibuster, please and thank you, Operation Marigold, throw pillows, up the creek without a paddle, spandex, ubiquitous, wedding ring

Mini Challenge: Skittles, lamb chops, stingray, chagrin,
clever devil

This weeks Episode: Modern Science

Sgt Johnson had waited almost 2 weeks for solid evidence related to the latest information he'd received from McCool. It took a variety of lucky breaks and a convergence of events that could only be described as serendipity.

While most folks felt that incompetence was
ubiquitous within the ranks of international law enforcement, Johnson knew better. The inspector from the Surrete had called with excellent news. It seemed the young Swedish victim's family had big connections in her home country. The coroner had been assisted by world renowned geneticist and biochemist Torg Valhuelston.

The famous Swede had found a bit of chemical trace and DNA evidence on the young girls body. More importantly he had found DNA evidence inside the victim's body. This was the holy grail of DNA evidence, the
Green goddess, the big Magilla. Much to the chagrin of the perpetrator, the body had been pulled from the surf too quickly, preserved too well at low temperature and examined by both an experienced coroner and a brilliant research geneticist.

o add further pieces to the puzzle, the FBI had accessed DNA evidence from the two decade old gang rape case of Constance Lawler. The DNA samples from these time and distance removed incidents had matched. The very fact that these two agencies had worked together and made this fantastic connection was amazing.

All this had been discussed between Johnson and Inspector De Solemaone. What the inspector hadn't reported to his American counterpart was the results of the investigation into the Vignoire family. From initial reports is seemed they did indeed have a reclusive daughter and they were quite wealthy, though rumors had been heard about some terrible misfortune happening to their holdings.

None of that showed up in their financials however, as their latest bank balance was well into 8 figures. The last thing to do was have a personal interview with the patriarch, Count Alain DeJourniase Vignoire. He would make his way to the estate on the coming day. If anything developed there he would share it with Johnson, otherwise there was no need to mention this false step.

Because of this break in the case, a funding request had been initiated and named
Operation Marigold. This operation was to find what was now thought to be an international, multi-decade long serial killer with one of the most diabolical and horrendous modus operandi in modern history.

There was no doubt that the person they were looking for had been a
clever devil for many years, but the evidence showed that the body in the Tahoe was not Connie Liplin or Constance Lawler. This in turn made Constance Lawler the most likely suspect as their serial killer. All were taken aback that it might be a woman, but none were so foolhardy as to underestimate the female gender.

The conclusion was drawn that the murders in Laughlin were done to cover up something else. Because of the photos and their similarity; McCool, Dan Griggs and Captain Jenkins felt sure the answer would be found in the history of Lawler and Liplin.

A request was put in to the California State Police for any records. An addendum was added that this was a high priority case with national implications and could they expedite. McCool suggested a serious “
please and thank you” addition with just enough info on the case to secure a call from the AGs office.

Like Skittles from the sky, a rainbow of clues came in. Where they had felt like they were up the creek without a paddle in previous weeks, the team now had actual leads and evidence to pursue. McCool, Griggs, Captain Jenkins and the rest of the Laughlin team met regularly and teleconferenced with Sgt. Johnson in D.C. Johnson kept the group apprised of international events and the group kept Johnson up to date on the research on Lawler/Liplin.

There was a long and tragic backstory to Constance Lawler. She had been witness to much brutality and loss. After the gang rape by her fellow cheerleaders in South Dakota, the family had returned to New Jersey. There the girl had excelled in her last year of High School and went on to Princeton, majoring in math.

She'd done so well that her parents had purchased a classic Corvette Stingray for her as a graduation gift from High School. A picture of the young girl had appeared in a local paper. A surprising amount of history was found in school transcripts and pictures concerning Connie Lawler's academic life at college. A racy shot of her in spandex bicycle shorts turned up in a yearbook, along with a note concerning her participation in a student government filibuster on an anti-bullying and hazing bill in her junior year.

The young Mz. Lawler had spoken passionately on the subject in an attempt to kill a watered down regulation and push through her more stringent amendment. She lost the fight, but spoke on the subject for over 18 hours. It was seen as an impotent gesture by her classmates and further ostracized her from the main stream in her class.

After graduating with honors from Princeton, she was again struck with tragedy when her parents’ home burned down with them in it, killing them both. To make matters worse it happened on her graduation night while she was out celebrating. What many missed was the fantastic financial windfall this gave the young 22 year old, along with the detail that she'd minored in Chemistry till her junior year. She was fresh out of college and already a millionaire.

It was much more difficult to do any face to face questioning of the girls allegedly involved with the high school incident. It turned out all but one of them was missing or deceased. That struck the team as more than a coincidence.

Coincidences continued to abound as they learned that Connie Liplin had another alias as Cathy McCarty and this alias was involved with Charles Hollingsworth's company. This company was the employer of the missing but assumed dead accountant and victim that Dan and Carla had discovered in the desert.

The team, and McCool and Dan specifically, began to revisit all the mayhem and madness that had taken place in Laughlin lately. They started with freak accident at the diner that killed two people and looked for any connection to one of Liplin's identities.

All this was so much info in so short a time frame, that after hours pouring over the new data, they broke for dinner and the special lamb chops at Le Fountain De Sheparie.

Charlotte finished with Charlie. She washed her hands with soap and shampoo to get all the blood out, and then checked the inside of the house one last time. As she glanced out the window from the office, she thought she saw a reflection of light from behind a tree. By standing on a couple of throw pillows she got a better angle to see, revealing the bumper of a car.

She pocketed Charlie's wedding ring she'd been holding and headed out the office door to the garden to investigate.

The afternoon heat and the quiet atmosphere had done their work; Martin had drifted off to sleep in the front seat of his car. In doing so his foot had dislodged the parking brake allowing the car to gently creep forward from behind the trees by no more than a foot or two.

"Well hello there handsome, what are doing out here by yourself?" Charlotte asked the just awakening Martin.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sunday Funnies - Happy Mother's Day Edition

I have a great deal of respect for mother's in general and several I've known in particular. So I hope all you Mom's have a great day.

I thought the best way to honor them this week would be to tell a couple of stories.

One about a famous Mom and one about one not quite so famous.

Most of you have heard of Erma Bombeck. Erma was a wonderful writer with a great sense of humor and a great outlook on life. She was a resident here in Arizona during our time here. In fact, we once were driven by her mountain cabin in Pinetop, Arizona by our real estate agent while we were looking for a second home back in the mid 80s.

Her mountain home was nice, but modest. We didn't buy the one the Realtor showed us in her neighborhood, it was a bit too much money. Instead we bought a few blocks away and forgot about her even having a home up there. Still, my wife read her work and often read me passages from her books.

I will give you a quote here from her concerning motherhood:

"It is not until you become a mother that your judgment slowly turns to compassion and understanding."
Erma Bombeck

I also enjoyed the one she had about football: "Anyone who watches three football games in a row should be declared brain dead."

The other not so famous mother who I have a story about is my own Mom, also now gone from this earth for several years.

During the last year of her life she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and Dementia. In her case though it was mostly harmless and at one point even entertaining. The manager at her retirement home told us that she had claimed to be going to lunch with Bobby Kennedy and had skied extensively in the Alps. This would have been quite a fete for a lady who hadn't left Selma in many, many years. Not to mention the difference in social status and so forth that would have prevented these events.

While at lunch at the "Glass House" restaurant just on the other side of the Alabama River with my Mom and my wife, we asked her about another revelation that had been told to us. "Mom, I hear you're working as a spy for the Queen of England?" I asked innocently as we backed out to the parking lot. "How's that working out?" I smiled at her. "Not worth a damn honey" she replied. "You know that Charles, such an ugly baby with those enormous ears" she continued. I glanced at Vicki in the back seat to confirm what we just heard. She nodded in the affirmative.

We both had to laugh. The picture of this 80 year old southern lady as a spy for the Queen was pretty damn funny. We joked with her and never made fun of her. She was really too sweet for that. The one really important thing I learned from my Mom's last days was the importance of attitude.

She had a wonderful attitude right up to the end. I was proud of that in her and I marveled at her ability to make the best of her situation. For many months she was bedridden, needed help with daily functions, wore diapers and had to have her food mixed at just the right consistency to be able to swallow without choking.

After being told her condition was terminal I asked her what she wanted to do with the remainder of her life. She told me she would like to do exactly what she was doing then. That entailed waking up every morning, having breakfast, taking a nap, talking with me or the nurses, eating again and sleeping. She found contentment in her existence till the last minute of her life.

I miss her today, maybe a little more than most days, but my memories of her are wonderful.

I can still recall how she saved me from Dad when I peed in a coffee cup when I was 4 or 5 years old. I'd had a high fever, turned delirious and thought I was in the bathroom. My Mom discovered me using my Dad's coffer cup as a potty and took me into the bathroom to finish. She felt my forehead, understood my condition and put me back to bed. When Dad got home and found his coffee cup in the garbage and then found out why; he wanted to blister my tiny little ass with a belt. Mom stepped in and explained to Dad I could not possibly have known what I was doing. I think she even laughed a bit about it.

I'll never forget that. Thanks Mom.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Wordzzle 62 - Is Eight Enough?

Hey it's Saturday, so get yourself on over to the Raven's Nest and check out the show.

This week's Ten Word Challenge: gentle spring rain, mammoth, soap opera, worry, bubble gum, garden gate, seizure, of Biblical proportions, paralysis, wrinkles

Mini Challenge: operatic, stuffed animals, anger management, biographical, paint splatters

This weeks Episode: Real Estate Fortunes

Charles Hollingsworth had received the acceptance letter from the PPIP office and had finished e-mailing the results to Charlotte when he noticed a visitor coming through the garden gate that was just outside his office. He loved the way the office was positioned to catch the afternoon breezes.

Charles was a crass man in many ways, but he appreciated the solitude and luxury his success had afforded him. What did it matter to him that it (his success) would come to fruition with the collapse of the very real estate market he had pumped up for two decades. The crisis, while of Biblical proportions, was just a tool to increase his profits.

He watched the woman walk gracefully through his lavish garden and come to the set of French doors leading to his office. From the first view of the woman's face it was impossible to tell that this might be his Charlotte. All the wrinkles were gone from this face looking at him and she seemed years younger. Yet, when he looked into those strangely Emerald eyes he was sure it was her.

"Connie, is that you?" he asked as she entered the room. "Only Charlotte now my love" she replied "and never any other name even just between the two us." "You understand, don't you Charles?" she finished as they embraced. Charlotte took the time to take off her shoes, which had been dampened by the leavings of an atypical gentle spring rain from the night before. It occurred to her as she did this that it wasn't really necessary, but she needed to keep up appearances.

For Charles's part there was never a worry at the unexpected arrival of his partner and sometimes lover. She could be quite mercurial in spite of her mathematical accomplishments. Her derivatives were some of the most unfathomable and most profitable of all the more than 600 trillion dollars worth that had been written in the preceding decade. While her total was a lowly 500 billion, it represented over 100 billion in profit when their scheme was put into play.

At a time when banks, hedge funds and the good ole US taxpayer was taking it in the shorts, their partnership would make 20% on 500 billion and over 1000% profit from their initial 10 million investment. The Saudis had supplied the rest and then lost it when Indy Mac was closed by the FDIC. The stealthy but lucrative CDSs were sitting in the governments hands and the new company had already placed and won a bid on them.

Charlotte's signature on the checks and the final papers was all that stood in the way of completing the deal.

"How did you get here so soon?" he asked as he kissed the nape of her neck. "Don't worry, I gave everyone the day off today" he added. "We've got the entire estate to ourselves." Charlotte already knew this. The idea of the day off on Mayday and Bank Monday had been floated by her through her contact in the household staff. She had advised Charles to go ahead with it when she e-mailed her reply to his question concerning the history of the day and her advice on setting the precedent. Little did he know that he and this ridiculous homage to his narcissism would not live to see the precedent take effect.

To the eventual investigators it would look as if he had a seizure and left a candle burning by his magnificent sunken tub. By the time they found his charred corpse there would be no sign of the drug given him to induce paralysis and make him a much more compliant playmate.

Charlotte needed only to remind herself to make sure he had an erection when the drug took effect. That way she could play at will for at least another hour. And the one truly wonderful thing about Charles was his member. It was no wonder she was able to take such advantage of him. All the blood must have rushed from his brain each time his mammoth organ became aroused, because that would be the only explanation as to how she so easily deceived him.

Perhaps she'd take him here first, since the office did not sport the watchful eyes of stuffed animals like her male victim's offices had. There was something off-putting about looking up into the eyes of a long dead Tiger and then looking down into the eyes of a frightened and paralyzed man. She much preferred the latter to the former. Then when done with him she’d use his remaining breathes for a little anger management workout. There was no need to worry about the forensic evidence; it would all be burnt up in the fire.

Charles was overcome by her obvious arousal and her aggressiveness. She walked with him in tow towards the master bath. He had no option but to follow as she tugged not to gently on his now aroused member and led him down the hall like he was on a leash.

The last thing Charles remembered clearly would be the vibrant colors of the paint splatters on the original Jackson Pollock that hung on the wall at his bedroom’s entrance. The rest of the afternoon would fade into a fog of pleasure, pain, and then horrible death.

Sgt Johnson was jarred awake by the phone call from McCool. He picked up the phone and left the bedroom so he wouldn’t wake up Zandilla. She slept lightly when he wasn’t beside her.

After coming to his senses and getting all the info, he called in information requests on both names, Connie Liplin and Constance Lawler. With any luck he’d have some news within the next 24 hours. He let Thomas know he’d get back to him ASAP with anything pertinent.

What would be helpful to his case and the one’s being investigated in Laughlin would be a very big surprise. It would all come down to a 20 year old piece of bubblegum and a lab report from a high school in South Dakota. With luck and hard work the FBI analyst might be able to infer some of the more elusive biographical details of the perpetrator of these violent crimes. Of course Sgt Johnson had no way of knowing this at 3:30 in the morning in his home in suburban Maryland.

Though outside the beltway, Laurel was really just another of the many bedroom communities surrounding our nations capitol. Johnson figured he might as well stay up now; he had to get up a 5:30 for the commute anyway. If he left a little early today he could get a head start on the weeks work.

Martin Heingold was the replacement for the missing accountant with the unwieldy moniker of Edward Darion Jamison III. He was also something of a gambler and a snoop. His gambling had taken the form of options trading, so when he was called in on an emergency basis to take over at Hollingsworth’s Real Estate Syndicate he lost no time in investing some of the firm’s funds in shorting the financial sector.

The trades had been disastrous. Now he had traveled all the way out to his boss’s lavish estate to confess and plead for his job. Had he known the true nature of his employer such an operatic performance would never have entered his mind. He would have just left the country under an assumed name and disappeared. Instead he came to his boss as if he was playing out a part in some modern soap opera or financial Telenova. He was unaware that his pleadings would fall on deaf ears.

So he was very surprised to see a rental car sitting in the back of the compound under a tree near the garden. He had been told that the boss might be alone today. He didn’t know who the visitor might be or how long they would stay, but he’d come this far and figured he might as well see it through. He parked his car out of sight and settled back in his seat to await the departure of the unknown visitor. After all he had nothing but time on his hands, didn’t he?


Friday, May 8, 2009

Almost Fatally Flawed Feckless Friday

First this week: The chairman of the New York Fed resigned because he got caught buying GS shares and selling them for a 3 million dollar profit while head of the board.

Oh, I forgot; he's a retired ex-chairman of Goldman Sachs. Some people (those that breath and can think) might call this a conflict of interest.

Then the Stress Test results came out and all the banks were good. Go figure.

Then of course the bank stocks all went up. Way up. Some over 100%.

Then the banks today sold shares to preferred customers and brokers at discounts to the market to raise capital that they say they really didn't need.

While this was going on, a carefully orchestrated leak program beginning last week and continuing up to Thursday at 5:00 PM when the official Stress Test results were released, came to it's Uber managed fruition and the whole financial group celebrated.

In the meantime, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, the trading arms of WFC, BAC, and Etc are using the TARP money to pump and dump their own stocks and fill their coffers.

Of course the Banksters are still in deep POO POO with trillions of highly leveraged Derivatives hanging on out there and we may be many years recovering from their first incompetent practices. Now to add insult to injury, the current stock price scam will end up coming out of retail investors' pockets or the taxpayers' pockets.

So.... Why am I more pissed off and more fantastically Feckless than usual.

Well, it seems that I bought into a financial ETF that shorts banks. BAD MOVE, very bad, very bad move. See, it will come to pass that the current irrational exuberance wanes. The king will be found to have no clothes. Some carefully orchestrated play or not, will be used to bring the market back to equilibrium.

By that time my shares in this stupid thing will be worth between a third and half of what I bought them for. And because of the leveraged ratio to the RIFIN index, it will be a long climb back to anywhere near my investment.

To make it all more ironic and worse; this was going to be just a quick swing trade. Then I was going back in to longer term investments when the market started a stable and reliable move up.

I will spend this weekend working on a new strategy to accomplish this goal with my ever diminishing trading account.

The good thing is that soon the Sun will set and a cooling breeze will roll across my back patio. When that happens I will drink a few (perhaps quite a few) adult beverages, light up a decent Cigar and contemplate my latest financial folly.

All these years and still so much to learn.

Hope you have a great weekend.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Wordzzle 61 - Come on Lucky 7!

If you don't know Raven then ya don't know word one about Wordzzle.

First this week, I need to do some repairs and house keeping. Thanks to a recent commenter, Stephen from Phoenix, I was made aware of contextual inconsistencies in the placement of one of my characters.

MIA CULPA ... My apologies to all for this evidence of my ineffective and shoddy research. The issue was the placement of Charlotte in French Guiana. Or more correctly, the placement of French Guiana on the wrong continent. The country is in South America and not on the African continent. In this it seems that George Bush and I have something in common. Neither of us knows shit about geography.

The narrative has been corrected in back episodes, even to changing the sentence using Tiger. My observant reader Stephen pointed out that Tigers are natives to Asia and not South America, where of course French Guiana really is. I actually knew this, but by having the country on the wrong continent, I screwed that up too.

I like to think I keep it real at the Bloggerhood when writing these stories, so I take seriously these comments and criticisms. Thanks Stephen for taking the time and effort to help me make my stories better.

Now, on with the show.

This Week's Ten Word Challenge: translation, crunchy, cat’s paw, trunk, I love raspberry tarts, global warming, star struck, the midnight ride of Paul Revere, fragile, Spring fever

Mini Challenge: pancakes and syrup, flat tire, mongoose, this place looks like a bordello, first dance

This weeks Episode: Riverside Revelry

From a back office of the FBI building in D.C. a file was making its way to the desk of the assistant to the director. This file concerned massive mortgage fraud in the central California valley. It was placed in his secretary's inbox by the weekend messenger. The assistant to the director was on a short vacation and wouldn't see the file till he came back.

The group of Dan & Carla and McCool & Jean decided a good meal at the Condo in Bullhead was a perfect way to blow off some steam and get to know each other better. McCool talked some with Dan about the transition from HVAC back to criminal investigation, while Jean gave Carla the tour of the Condo. They had rented it because of the river view, but Jean couldn't help but tell Carla, when they came to the master bedroom; "this place looks like a bordello."

After the ladies finished the tour the group sat down to eat on the deck overlooking the Colorado River. They started the meal with authentic crunchy tortilla chips with homemade Salsa and washed it down with cold beer. A few tacos later and they were thinking about how they overate and how to make room for dessert. Jean announced that tonight's coupe de Grasse would be tarts. "Oh, I hope they're raspberry" smiled McCool, "I love raspberry tarts."

"That reminds me" Jean said with a gleam in her eye. "When I met you I believe you just plain liked tarts." "Are you besmirching the reputations of my old girlfriends?" he asked. "No need" she replied, "They did that themselves." "OK, let's not forget how we met and our first dance" he countered. "I remember I didn't jump into your bed the first time we met like your other girlfriends" she smirked back at him.

"How about another "Flat tire", I mean "Fat Tire" Dan?" "It's pretty damn good beer isn't it?" McCool said to change the subject. "Sounds like you got him flustered" Carla quipped to Jean. "I think I was star struck by Thomas from the start, but I never let him know it" she added. "And it worked out for the best, just look at us now." "Twenty eight years later and still going strong" she finished.

Dan went to the trunk of his car for his guitar and the two men set up on the deck to play some old Dylan tunes. After a few songs like "Just like a woman", "Rainy day blues" and "Like a rolling stone", they changed artists and attempted an old Smokey Joe tune entitled "The midnight ride of Paul Revere." The song’s lyrics drifted out over the calm river with nothing but an occasional cat's paw to disturb the gently flowing waters, if you didn't count the frequent discordant notes.

The two men changed from the excellent Fat Tire beer to whiskey and cigars. Dan put his Takamine back in the trunk feeling it was a bit too fragile for the kind of playing they would be doing later. Instead he borrowed Thomas's trusty old Fender Mongoose with the travel amp and they settled in for some blues.
"Looks like those two have a case of spring fever" Carla commented to Jean. "Don't worry about them, they're just blowing off steam" Jean replied.

About that time Jean's cell phone rang and she excused herself to take the call from her sister Lara. "Hey Sis, how's Laughlin?" Lara asked first thing. "OK," Jean answered, "but we're not winning big at the Casinos if that's what you called for" she teased. "What, you don't think I called to give you the latest update on global warming, or some crap like that?" her sister teased back. "After all, we live in a fragile ecosphere" she added.
"I'm pretty sure it isn't that" Jean answered. "You're right again Sis." "You might want to check your e-mails though, cause what I sent you is gonna blow your mind" Lara said mysteriously. "What's up girl, just spill it" Jean shot back. "No way Jean, look at your e-mail and then thank me later, Oh, and tell your husband he owes me a beer" Lara said as she rung off.

Jean and Carla went out on to the deck to get Thomas to fire up his laptop. They all trouped into the kitchen, turned on the computer and waited for it to open up the e-mail. Lara's e-mail was short and succinct. It contained two pictures and the following message. "Looks like her to me." Below that one line was a picture of the deceased Connie Liplin and the girl known by Lara and Jean as that poor thing that got gang raped, Constance Lawler. The picture of Connie Liplin looked older, but it otherwise they were identical.

The truly telltale sign was the eyes. They were startling, a rare off-emerald in color and unlike any the group had seen before.
Dan looked at Thomas, then at Jean, and last at Carla. "You thinking what I'm thinking?" he asked the group. "Maybe we should put a call in to Sgt Johnson tonight about this" McCool offered.

The two couples studied the pictures and discussed the possibilities for the next hour or so. Jean thought it possible that the young Constance had changed her name to forget the incident and Carla agreed that was possible. The two men with their law enforcement backgrounds were somewhat more cynical in their considerations.
If nothing else it would perhaps help them positively identify the woman in the Tahoe and move on from there. Since it was getting late and the group was a little woozy from food and drink, Jean put Dan & Carla up in the guestroom, with the promise of pancakes and syrup for breakfast in the morning. Everyone went to bed with their own ideas about this new revelation.

Meanwhile, 6000 miles away in France, Inspector Georges De Solemaone looked carefully at the file his agent had written on the woman Cathy McCarty. She had been identified as being at the beach on the night of the murder of the young Swedish girl. The trail had gone cold in South Africa, but the agent had followed a hunch and went to French Guiana. But what he found there was inconsistent with the evidence. The closest thing to the woman Cathy McCarty was a reclusive French noblewoman who looked nothing like the McCarty woman. The inspector would now have to explain to his superior why he authorized the flights and the extra expense.

But the lady Charlotte had been incognito for some time. And the agent was unable to determine when and how she arrived in French Guiana. Was this enough to go on? First he'd have the Surrete do a workup on this Charlotte Vignoire. Surely, if she was from the old money she seemed to be there would be a record on her and her family. He hurriedly sent the memo and got up to leave for home. Tomorrow would be soon enough to decide what to look at next.

Forensic pathologist Cindy Lerner liked her job. She took her position with the Nevada State Police very seriously. When she needed to do extra research to find out the answer to something she just did it. In this case the research was almost too easy. Before switching to Bio-Sciences, Cindy had been a math geek. Not just any math geek either. She won the prestigious Stonehenge award her last year in high school. This included a pendant shaped like the famous Lozenge Calendar. So when an identical pendant came in that was purportedly found with a now missing skeleton in the desert, she knew right away what to do.

Each years' pendant had been marked with month, day and year it was awarded. By using her magnifying glass and simple translation she determined the year it was given. A few phone calls later and she knew the owner's name; Edward Darion Jamison III. He had received the award his senior year of high school in 1989. The info she pulled up on him listed his employer as Central Valley Real Estate Investors in L.A. Cindy printed out copies and placed them in the John Doe file. By Monday morning this case might have a name. It was up to the detective bureau to coordinate with the California cops from here on in.


Friday, May 1, 2009

Feckless Friday - Financial Follies Forever

I'm still recouping from last weekend's up country gamble-fest and weekend getaway birthday celebration.

The market has continued on it's merry way, finishing April up a record percentage on both the Dow Jones and the S&P 500. All this while the banks continue to look insolvent and have put off the results of the stress test for a few more days to get their stories straight and spin the numbers. Go figure.

Vicki and I enjoyed a great meal at a local Red Lobster on the actual night of her birthday this week. Many and varied Crustaceans were consumed along with tasty spirits. The meals were almost too big. Any more and I would have puked, which would have certainly been a buzz-kill for the establishment's ambiance and our evening.

We're relaxing this weekend with just one trip planned out to our oldest daughter's place for a midday mini-celebration on Sunday.

My Fecklessness this week has been concentrated on holding a position in a stock that I shouldn't, but continue to hold anyway out of conviction that the banks are big fat liars.

As an example of Ironic Fecklessness I leave you with the following story:

This week a Republican Senator by the name of Arlen Spector changed parties to join the Democrats. He was of course soundly verbally abused by his former party's spokesman, Rush (give me Oxy and a Hamburger with fries and shake) Limberger.

Here's the Ironic Fecklessness part; or perhaps it's Feckless Irony, you decide. Evidence points to Al Franken becoming the 60th Democratic Senator when the courts and Minnesota finally make up their minds.

Franken is the author of a very famous and aptly named book; Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot: and other Observations. Here is someone who will give as good as he takes in any dialogue, argument or flame throwing with the repulsive El-Rushbo.

I find it very ironic that these two individuals should be at the crux of politics at this time. Oh, and the Feckless part; Limberger sued Franken over the title when the book came out and lost. I guess it's not libel when it's true, huh?

Have a great weekend.