Saturday, September 26, 2009

It's at least ten times better if you go by the Raven's Nest and check out the other stories.

This Week's Ten Word Challenge: Tibetan sky, symbols, won’t you come home Bill Bailey, shadow figures, brain cortex, practice makes perfect, life, start of school, lavender, chow down

The mini: mental hospital, falling leaves, apple cider, packing crates, clues

This week's Episode: Endgame

Laughlin, Nevada-Police headquarters.
McCool and Jean had come down to the cop shop to say goodbye to the team. The captain thanked McCool for his help, adding that under usual circumstances the town seemed less of a mental hospital and more like an elderly friendly Vegas. Thomas admitted this trip had been a bit more than he bargained for and commented that the falling leaves of the Cottonwoods along the river signaled it was time for the couple to head back to Phoenix. "Besides, I can only take so much of the good life here in Laughlin" he laughed. Both he and Jean thanked everyone for their kindness and the couple promised to come back as soon as Dan and Carla set a date to tie the knot.

"With the most difficult case in memory all but wrapped up, it's time to give my fragile brain cortex a diet of golf, old movies and "Survivor" he added with a grin. With farewells said to all Thomas and Jean drove their new 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid across the bridge and headed clueup the hill to I-40 and the trip home. Both would be happy to exchange the chase for clues and suspects for their normally more laid back existence in Phoenix.

Washington, D.C. the Hoover building.
Sgt Johnson sat quietly in his office and contemplated the results of the interrogation of the killer from Laughlin. The suspect had been surprisingly cooperative. Johnson had watched him chow down after the flight from Phoenix to D.C. and then seated himself opposite the man. His name had been revealed as Fred Dumphreys. He was ex-military special ops and had contracted with the CIA in the 80s. The story he told took him around the globe from lands beneath Tibetan skies to the back yards of financial barons in the Hamptons. He stated plainly that he had always been an assassin of one sort or the other. "You know the old saying, Practice makes perfect; well I guess you could say I didn't practice enough since I got caught" he offered. Johnson explained to the man that the shadow figures in his world didn't normally come to light, but in this case they'd received the results of an interrogation of his client and that had given the good guys the edge. "I had never worked for this client before "Fred volunteered. “The offer was just too good to pass up" he added. "Two million dollars upon completion of the contract and I could retire." "I should have known better than dealing with a flake" he concluded. "Your flake confessed to 23 murders and several billion dollars in real estate fraud" Johnson told the killer. "She's dead and you're going to live the rest of your life in prison unless you have something to tell me that is worth saving your miserable ass" the FBI man shot back. Johnson had no respect for murderers no matter how skilled they were.

"Well how about a lead on the largest drug smuggling ring in the world that just also happens to be the major funding source of the Taliban in Afghanistan?" the killer asked, "Would that be enough for some slack here?" he asked. Indeed it was more than enough. Johnson called a contact in Homeland Security and they transferred the prisoner to their facility. The information led to the exposure of a producer of apple cider that was smuggling opium in liquid form into the U.S. and laundering the money before it went to supply weapons, bribes, and all the other expenses necessary to fight American forces on a world wide scale.
The elicit drug had been designated in the packing crates with special symbols on the IBM bar code and allowed the stateside distributors to pull the proper bottles and reconstitute the opium.

It would take several weeks, but the information would allow the government to stop two thirds of the influx of heroin from the Middle East and keep billions of dollars out of terrorists' hands.

The killer would spend a couple of years in a country club jail and then be released back into the population.

Basra, Iraq a sidewalk cafe in the center of the city.
Somehow Charlotte had made it across the border and into the relative safety of Basra. It had taken two days to have her account in the Cayman's wire money to her location. After that she found a source for papers and ID. When she got back to Europe she'd have her own man make better documents, but these should work for now. At least she was clean and alive. The first thing she'd done after bathing was to buy clothes. Though there were few shops for western women's clothing, she found sufficient attire to travel. Today she wore a lavender head scarf that made her pale skin shimmer. Charlotte sipped her coffee and watched the young Iraqi children pass by her table. Someone had told her that today was the start of school and the kids were happy to be safe enough to walk the streets again.

The following day she would cross the border again but this time into Iran. She'd hired a car and driver for the trip from Ahvaz to Tehran. Once in the capitol city she'd fly to Greece and then on to France. Charlotte let her mind wander to what the world had in store for her and found herself humming "Won't you come home Bill Bailey" under her breath. She had to admit that in spite of her ability to speak enough Farsi to communicate here that she would be damned glad to get out of this region of the world that seemed stuck in the 13th century.

She looked up as a young Iraqi girl that looked to be no more than 12 approached her table. Smiling, the young girl uttered the phrase "Allah Ahkbar" and then pulled a cord at her vest. Charlotte's world exploded. The over pressure from the proximity to the blast shattered every bone in her body and in the millisecond while the shapeless and dead form of the former serial killer remained erect it was eviscerated with steel shot and nails traveling in excess of the speed of sound.

The blast killed several other foreigners who were at the cafe as well. What Charlotte had forgotten was that she was a symbol of the oppressor in a war zone. The oversight had proved to be fatal.

In the end in turned out that the Saudi's hadn't lied at all. Charlotte did actually die while trying to escape, if just a few days later than reported. The prince and princess had thought about warning the McCool's but found out that Charlotte had been spotted in Basra and had actually viewed a video taken of the blast from a government building across the street. The quality of the images was enough to see the startling emerald eyes of the serial killer open wide in the instant she knew she was going to die.



Saturday, September 19, 2009

Wordzzle 81 - A stitch in time saves nine

Whether dressed to the nines or in your jammies, don't dream of doing the Wordzzle without checking out the Raven's Nest first.

This Week's Ten Word Challenge: dangerous, engine, sullenly, bespoke, evergreen, bauble, medicine, freight, destined, tinsel

The mini: carbon, feelers, outright, ballet, fizzing

This Week's Episode: Almost Home

Washington, DC the Hoover Building.
The last missive from the Kuwaiti government concerning Charlotte/Connie/ Constance had arrived. The fact that it had come through State again bespoke volumes on its credibility. "The Kuwaiti government was sorry to inform the United States, but the criminal in question had attempted to escape after her interrogation and been fatally wounded during this action." While Johnson had no doubt that Constance Lawler was a dangerous serial killer, he doubted the timing of her death. It seemed more than likely in his opinion that she succumbed to the interrogation techniques in use in that part of the world. Or perhaps she was murdered outright by her interrogators when they were done with her. He would put out some feelers with his contacts overseas, but doubted they would ever know for sure how she died. The one thing he did believe however was that she was indeed dead.

Kuwait, a jeep in the desert headed towards the Iraqi border. Charlotte would have been surprised to know that she was already reported as deceased to the Americans. She felt very much alive indeed. After completing the carnal ballet with the young lieutenant, she had sullenly, but charmingly pleaded with him to allow her to adorn herself with a bauble from her make-up kit before servicing him further. This behavior played right into his ego and further fueled the engine of his desires. He commanded her to make herself becoming for him while he went outside to relieve himself. When he returned she was attired in a short skirt that looked to be made of little more than tinsel and was bare breasted. The lieutenant felt he was destined to a day or two of sybaritic vacation before his men came back from the small village to which he'd sent them. By that time he would have administered the medicine which would end the infidel woman's life. He had decided it would be a sin to mar her beauty when killing her.

Charlotte had quite different plans and hers were the ones that took precedent. When Amir joined her back in the tent she used the incapacitating powder and within minutes was gone. But not before she undressed him (she needed his uniform) and shot him through the head at close range with his own pistol. Her plan was simple. Make it across the Iraqi border and head to Basra.
There she could use her one remaining account to acquire funds, papers and make travel arrangements. She knew that Iraq was still a war zone and her chances of escape were better there than in Kuwait. If she made it across the border she felt she would be home free.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Martin and Jane had traveled back to Jane’s home town after hearing from Johnson about Charlotte’s death. It seemed unlikely now that she would somehow return from the grave and threaten them in this peaceful setting. Jane had missed the streets lined with evergreen trees in the old neighborhood where she’d grown up. Even the passing freight trains brought back pleasant memories of warm sunny days at the park waiting for a train to pass and the walk to the root beer stand. She could almost taste the fizzing bubbles of a root beer float now. As a matter of fact she would take Martin to the Hires drive-in for a treat right after closing. First though they would close on their little house on the outskirts of her old stomping grounds. There would be plenty of time to settle in to life back in America.

Bullhead City, Arizona, the banks of the Colorado River. The killer’s plan had worked to perfection. He found himself drifting slowly towards his targets and quite close in to shore. He took the first shot and watched as the target fell, though he failed to see the “pink mist” that should accompany such a shot. He put it off to the dim light and took aim at the second target. The funny thing was that it hadn’t stood up. The natural reaction to someone getting shot right next to you is to stand up, though experienced professionals will do the opposite and get down. In this case the target seemed frozen. No matter, he would take that as good luck. While sighting in on his targets he failed to see the electric boat slip in silently behind him from upstream. When the 1 million candle power spotlight hit him he was more than surprised. “Drop your weapon now” came from a loudspeaker immediately to his rear. He turned to be confronted to by an FBI special weapons team in full combat gear including state of the art carbon fiber body armor aboard a 20 foot pontoon boat. The killer dropped the rifle to the deck of his boat and kneeled as they handcuffed and then searched him.

Only later would he find out that he’d failed in his mission and had damaged two robotic doubles and nothing more. But even attempted murder on two people carried stiff prison sentences and he was likely to get the maximum. His only option would be to cooperate with the authorities on solving other contract hits. It was a double edged sword, but if he played it right he could actually live to see the world outside a lockup again.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Wordzzle 80

Take a turn past the Raven's Nest Drive-In and get all the dope on the program.

This Week's Ten Word Challenge: Charitable, alligator, tribute, drunk, slave, preparation, carrots, mountainside, propeller, lark

The mini challenge: chisel, worship, suicide, organic, plus

This Week's Episode: Desert Nights

A tent in the Kuwaiti Desert. Lieutenant Amir Al Kasishada had seen few women like the one tied to the center pole of his tent. His ancestors might have had fine slave wenches in their tents when they fought the Turks, but that had been many centuries ago. She had made herself up nicely after her interrogation; so much so in fact that she merely appeared drunk rather than abused. The interrogator had given the lieutenant little information concerning the woman's crimes other than she had offended the royal Saudi family in a major way and would not be allowed to live.

Charlotte smiled once more at the young officer. She knew it would be suicide to move too soon. First she must make the man so enamored of her that he would be unwilling to share her. Amir approached her with a combination of arrogance, ignorance and eagerness. The predator in her undertook the preparation necessary to accomplish the life and death task she faced. Not unlike the way an alligator can wait patiently near the banks of a river for its prey; she would wait till the lieutenant was clearly within her power before she struck.

Once he untied her she stayed on her knees and slowly unzipped his uniform trousers. It was here she would start the process. She would worship his member and body like it was that of a god. She needed to motivate him to get rid of as many of his men as she could. Charlotte engulfed him with her lips and uttered a moan so real and organic that the young man almost came in that moment.

The South of France, the Vignoire Estate. Count Vignoire was surprised to receive another visit from Inspector Georges De Solemaone. He was even more surprised when the officers accompanying him arrested his housekeeper. The old man and the inspector sat in the parlor while the gendarme explained that he knew who Charlotte really was and also that the housekeeper was slowly killing him with South American parasites. "I was just waiting here to die" the old man explained. "Why don't we put that off till your time has really come?" asked the inspector. By the time they were done a new live-in nurse had come out to the estate from town and the Count was being seen by a physician that still made house calls and as an added plus would start the treatment to eradicate the exotic parasites. Inspector De Solemaone left the estate with the feeling that he'd actually made a difference in the tragic life of one very sad old man.

Laughlin, Nevada. The dusty mountainside that stood above Casino row was filled with double and single wide trailers that housed the dealers, clerks, and assorted other workers that were fortunate enough to rent these relatively cheap and close to work abodes. Sitting at the very top was a water tower. Atop this tower were two surveillance techs borrowed from the Nevada State Police. It was somewhat of a tribute to the little Laughlin PD for their work in the uncovering of a serial killer and serial fraudster that they could get this kind of help on short notice.

The two techs had both night vision and infra-red scopes. From their viewpoint they could see over a mile of the river, the McCool's condo and all approaches from the Nevada side. If they spotted an individual with a gun the whole department would know immediately. The Bullhead cops and Arizona State patrol had the Arizona side covered.

McCool’s plan involved a modified carrot and stick approach to capturing the killer. In this case the “carrots” were two life sized figures made up to look like the couple. It would have been less than charitable to call these decoys “dummies“. They were really more like actors. These were specialized robotic doubles used in film making that had been donated on a lark by an L.A. producer who’d been swindled by the Hollingsworth/Liplin team. The FBI had not had a use for them till now, but Sgt Johnson was glad to help when McCool called. While not perfect, they would seem very lifelike from a distance in the dark.

Jean was staying with Carla while Dan and Thomas staked out the area. They had gotten the decoys set up ahead of nightfall in the belief that the killer would not come out before dark. In this they were lucky. The killer didn’t resume his surveillance of the McCool’s Condo till 9:00 PM and by that time the team was in position and the decoys hard at work. A technician controlled their movements by a wireless controller and made the couple shift in their chairs, move their arms and seem to take a drink from their glasses.

The assassin watched for just a few minutes and then headed down to the marina. He had rented a boat earlier in the day and made a copy of the key. He would cut the chain holding the boat to the dock, push the boat away to float downstream before starting the engine and then set himself up for his shooting run. A small tripod would steady his 223 custom sniper rifle with scope and silencer. He was an expert shot with this weapon. The current ran slowly past the McCool’s condo and his plan was to run upstream and drift back down with the current. He would be careful and go slowly. The last thing he wanted to do was to run aground or hit a rock in the shallows with the propeller and become stranded in the river. Using any lighting was out of the question, so that meant no running lights as well. After the hits he would cruise to the airport dock and catch the ten o’clock shuttle to Vegas. He loaded his gear into the boat and pushed off.

Bullhead City, Arizona outside the McCool's condo. Directly below the condo the shoreline had been built up with large rocks and boulders. McCool situated himself behind a large boulder on the upstream side and Griggs found a spot on the downstream side. They had been waiting since nightfall. McCool's legs were starting to cramp and he needed to pee. He glanced at his watch and noted the time, 9:43. The only thing they'd seen in the last 1/2 hour had been a fishing boat slowly heading up the Colorado with its lights out. Since then nothing. He had become so bored that he'd used his pocket knife to chisel "TM loves JM" into a piece of sandstone next to him. After this was all over he would bring Jean down here and show it to her.

His earpiece squawked from the lookouts on the tower "Boat coming downriver, possible gun setup on bow". The com network lit up with double clicks as the team stood ready. This could be their guy.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Idiot Congressman

There is nothing quite so galling as a Liar calling another person a Liar.

For those who were watching the president's speech on Health Care to both houses of the congress last night you were witness to that event.

Representative Joe Wilson, a republican rep from South Carolina
was the culprit in question.

A look into this moron's past record and history will explain it all. He was an aide to Strom Thurmond, head cracker and bigot of the beltway for decades. It seems Joe is attempting to take his place.

Bite me Joe.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Wordzzle 79

Go by and say hello to Raven at the Raven's Nest. She is the originator and facilitator of Wordzzle.

This Week's Ten Word Challenge: Spam, perpetual motion, sprinkle, telephone pole, stains, alphabetical, surgery, flattery, liberty, preservation

The mini challenge: shadows, singularity, Florida, caterpillars, copy

This Week's Episode: Chances

Laughlin, Nevada. The killer tried his luck at the tables in the Colorado Belle while he waited for nightfall. He knew better than to not gamble. That would be a sure giveaway if the presumed investigation that followed the killings looked for anomalies. Of course he did wear a baseball cap, sported a very good mustache, (fake but movie quality) and wore glasses. He enjoyed the perpetual motion of the casino floor and the security of being in a crowd as well.

Later he would scope out the targets' residence from a perch in the shadows across the river. At some points the Colorado is quite narrow and the section in front of the McCools' condo was less than 250 yards wide. It had been almost too easy to locate his prey. The leasing company's alphabetical listings of temporary tenants had provided him with the McCools' address. With the help of Google maps he'd found their condo and been happily surprised to see it was on the water. He would take the shots from a stolen boat, catch a shuttle to Las Vegas and fly to Florida.

Around 11:00 PM the killer took up a position across the river from the McCools' condo. It came complete with a cottonwood tree and a nearby telephone pole to give the assassin a better view if required. He sited through his binoculars and found the sliding glass doors of the condo in question. He could see two couples sitting in the living room. He had not found good recent picture of the targets, so he would wait till the other people left to confirm the identities. If they came out onto the patio tonight he would put the plan in motion. It required just the slightest singularity of events, the couple on the patio by themselves, to provide him the opportunity to make the kills and secure his commission.

Kuwait, a bunker in the desert. Charlotte had been interrogated three separate times. The first had broken her, the second had been recorded while she was under the influence of sodium pentothal and the final one had been for the pleasure of her interrogator and to assure nothing had been held back. The stains on her now shredded gown contained blood, urine, feces, semen, saliva and various other substances the interrogator had felt appropriate for the final session. It would not be undue flattery to say that the interrogator was as good as one gets in the Middle East. Charlotte had revealed all of her crimes; the 27 murders, the various and sundry financial frauds and the gigantic fraud committed against the Saudi Prince and the American people.

In spite of all she had endured there was still the will within her crazed being to fight for her liberty. She would do whatever it took to accomplish the preservation of her life. There had been two things, two bits of information she'd been able to keep from her torturer. She held on to these bits not because of any great strength or bravery, but because the man failed to ask her about them. While he had put her through all the agony and humiliation, even threatening some radical and unpleasant surgery on her face and figure, she would have told him anything. He needed only to have asked, but he didn't. So Charlotte didn't tell him about the account number hidden in her cosmetics or that she kept a powdered version of her custom formula for incapacitating her victims with her mascara.

The interrogator was not Turkish as she had thought, but she had been close. He was an ethnic Kurd from northern Iraq. He had left her in reasonable but weak shape to allow the drivers and guards some fun with her before her disposal. It had been known since the first interrogation that her deeds against the royal family would not be allowed to see the light of day. It was royal pride and honor at stake. They could afford the money, but not the humiliation of being taken by an infidel and a worse, a woman. She was to be eliminated after she was drained of all useful information. The tapes had been passed on to the Saudi security messenger and now she was just another plaything for the group before they were dispersed.

Washington, DC, the Hoover building. The tape came in through the state department. It was fortunate that Sgt. Johnson had been there to receive it. He was reviewing the footage with his team when it came to the part about the last phone call Charlotte made to a hit man. The targets were the McCools. He grabbed his cell and dialed Thomas. “Thomas, how are you?” he asked. “OK, I guess” McCool replied. “I was stepping out on to the patio to check the weather when you called” he continued. “Looks like this coming storm might at least bring us a sprinkle” he finished. “Do me a favor and step back inside a minute, will ya?” Johnson asked.

Bullhead City, Arizona. McCool had listened as Johnson told him about the tape and Charlotte’s plans. He fired up the laptop in his office and after deleting the annoying spam from the health care wingnuttia, he found the e-mail and attached video sent from the encrypted site at the Hoover building. The addendum stated in legalese that this was a classified copy and not for distribution. McCool finished watching the portion sent by Johnson and went back out into the living room. Once there he told the group of Dan, Carla and Jean what was going on. Jean strolled casually to the patio door and pulled the vertical blinds closed. A few calls were made; one to the captain of the Laughlin police and one to the chief in charge of the Bullhead city police. There was no description available for the killer, but they could start by looking at late fly-ins.

In a little over half an hour they had a plan and Dan and Carla left to go back over the bridge to Laughlin. The McCools locked up and went to bed. Thomas put a chair in front of the sliding glass door on the inside and put his home protector shotgun next to the bed. He prayed he wouldn’t have to use it.

Kuwait, outside the bunker. The interrogator had allowed Charlotte to put on makeup and clean herself up for the drivers. He supervised the packing of the equipment, the loading of the trucks and then locked up the bunker. He wanted no part of what was to come. He left the Kuwaiti lieutenant in charge with the responsibility of disposing of Charlotte’s body when they were done with her and drove away towards the border. Charlotte was presented to the young officer as both reward and charge.

Charlotte knew she would have only one chance. She smiled at the young officer when he entered the tent. She would be careful but swift with this one.

Laughlin, Nevada overlooking the river. The killer had watched as the visiting couple departed the McCools’ condo. He took the opportunity to confirm the targets' descriptions. He watched as one of the many caterpillars that infested the cottonwood tree under which he crouched swung lazily on it's thin silken thread as the night breeze blew down the river. If the couple didn't come out on the patio tonight, there was always the next day. The weather report called for storms and a cooling trend. He knew would get his opportunity before the week was done.