Sunday, December 20, 2009

Two Deadly Little Affairs opening chapter

Book four of the Turner series is called Two Deadly Little Affairs.
I thought I'd post here now and see if I could get some feedback. Leave a comment and tell me what you think.



Black–long since dried and buried deep into the carpet.
A big stain, spreading out like arthritic fingers–three of them–with one long crooked finger pointing seemingly to the open door of another room. Blood. An ugly, mean stain. Dark and dirty and filled with violence. Yet strangely absent a body. But in the bedroom . . .

Ah, the bedroom.

Two bodies. Lying in bed. One male and one female and neither wearing anything. But to be honest you had to really examine them to determine which was the male and which was the female. An examination frankly I was more than happy to leave to Joe Weiser and his boys down in forensics.

Someone walked in on the couple hot in the act of flying to the moon. They were too busy to notice. Whoever it was emptied at least two big clips of 7.62 mm ammo from a submachine gun into the bed. Shredded the bed and its occupants with a virulent intensity. Bullet holes were everywhere. The bed looked like it had went through a madman’s blender. The bed’s headboard looked like a gigantic rat had gnawed about half of it off with dull but strong choppers. The wall behind it looked like a cheese grater. Through half a dozen holes punched through the chapter plaster and clapboard wall I could see the bright points of sunlight shining through.

“Christ, why do we get the messy ones?”

I turned and glanced at my partner, Frank Morales. A big, ugly monster of bone and muscle and no neck. Stringy red hair that refused to comply to tonsorial regulations, always blowing in the breeze. About two seventy pounds of hard cement for beef with an IQ of a couple of Eienstein’s tucked in for good measure. Some said he looked like a well preserved Neanderthal. I smiled, thinking of some of the other sobriquets he’d been called. None of them complementary.

“Karma, buddy. We’re the saps the lieutenant want’s to use when something odd or weird happens.”

Frank, hands in slacks, stepped to my side and stared at the bloody bed. Around us Joe and his forensic’s team were quickly and efficiently working their trade. The click of their big Cannon 35 mm cameras taking in all the grisly sights permanently. Out front, surrounding the motel bungalow were various marked patrol cars of both the city and the county sheriff’s department.

Five miles outside the city was the Timberline Bungalows–an inexpensive motel of about ten small bungalows sat in among huge pine trees residing on the shores of the sprawling Lake Teuton. Lovers, adulterers, and a few other crazies came out here get out of the city for a few hours. The motel didn’t ask questions–didn’t care what happened inside his bungalows as long as there was no damage. If the credit card or color of the money looked good they’d take it and not care what you did.

“Well, this is weird, brother. The clerk said these two love birds checked in about eight last night. Just showed up in front of the office door. No bags. No car. How they got out here is a mystery to him. But they had money, and from what he could see bulging in the man’s wallet, lots of it. They checked in and didn’t come out. About four this morning the gunfire began. Lots of gunfire.”

“Anyone see anything?”

Frank almost grinned, the slight movement of the corner of his lips indicates something amused him, and nodded.

“Apparently two men dressed in camo and waving around Kalishnikovs is enough to keep most people hiding under their beds. One guest, two bungalows down, is ex-army just back from Iraq. Recognized the sound of the gunfire. He was the only one to take a peek outside. Said he saw two guys wearing old camo fatigues come walking out of here with their weapons and climb into an F-150 Ford pickup. Couldn’t see the color of the truck nor pick up a license plate number. Did say, though, the truck looked muddied. Like just coming off the farm or from one of those off-country tracks they like to wallow in.”

“Uh huh,” I nodded, half turning and checking out the bed again and frowning. “Want to know what else is funny?”

“I think I know what you’re gonna say,” Frank nodded, twitching his lips again. “Been wondering about that since the Yank told us to come out here and take over the investigation.”

“Why us?” I asked, nodding and looking at Frank. “This should be a county investigation. Lewis Peck or Ben Jones should be the lead investigator. They’re good. And Odel Jenkins isn’t the kind of sheriff who like’s to share an investigation with anyone. So what’s going on here?”

Odel Jenkins was the county sheriff. A raw, blunt, yet powerful politician who got himself elected twice as county commissioner and then decided to run for the sheriff’s office. The man was an ex-city cop. He had put himself through night school and picked up a law degree. He was fierce in his hates and fierce in his loyalties. His loyalties swung toward his men and his department–and his hate toward the city and anything to do with the city coming into his territory.
Neither Lewis Peck or Ben Jones, the top two detectives in the sheriff’s department, had even stuck their noses in for a quick peek of the crime scene. Again, something completely out of kilter. We know both of them. Both were good cops. Honest cops. They not being around made me feel uneasy.

“Come on, let’s take a walk.” I said, turning and walking out of the bungalow.

Outside birds were flashing over head, zooming and diving in a happy ballet of the first warm day of Spring. The wind, soft and still with a tang of sudden cold, whispered through the pines as Frank and I made our way past the bungalows and down toward the lake. As we did, I glanced at the narrow country black top which wound its way around the lake and past the small huts and noted the four or five cars and spectators who had come out to see what they could see.

The grim fascination people had with violent murder.

Smiling, shaking my head, I wasn’t surprised. People are people. We will never change.

As we approached the lake the bite in the breeze become pronounced. Lake Teuton was the main city reservoir and served as a major boating/camping site as well. It sprawled for about six miles in a long but modestly wide lake just north of the city. Fed by the Brown River and couple of smaller streams coming in from the northeast, the lake was as a magnet for fishermen and the wealthy. On the far shore were several huge mansions. Homes of the rich and powerful in this state. One of them being the governor’s house. His private residence. Several more powerful men I could name lived over on the far side. Some honest. Some almost honest. Some who didn’t have an honest bone in their body.

“You think they came from over there?” Frank asked, lifting an eyebrow in surprise. “Yeah, that make’s sense to me.”

A couple shows up. No bags. No mode of transportation. No indication that anyone dropped them off. They had to come from somewhere. Grinning, stuffing hands in my slacks, I turned and looked at the big hulk behind me.

“Okay, boy scout. Show me your woodsman’s tracking talents. Let’s find something to show this isn’t a wild goose chase.”

Actually Frank is a Boy Scout. He has four sons, three of which are boy scouts and he happens to be their pack leader. A devoted father, Frank and the boys mess around out in the woods as much as being a homicide detective will allow for a family. He’s also married to a knock out Italian ex-model–yeah, I’m not kidding–who can be as crazy eccentric as a woman can be.

Me? Not me, brother. Neither married nor interested in being a Boy Scout. Grew up on a farm and hated each day of it. Went to college on a football scholarship and never went back to the farm. Got married once, lived five years in hell with her which drove both of us to desperation. Got a divorce.

And then I come into money. An inheritance. Lots and lots of money–along with a grandfather I never knew I had. Money. Sudden wealth–you’d think my worries would be over. Right? Sorry, buddy. Doesn’t happen that way. Money is money. And if you suddenly find yourself buried in it where, the day before, you worked from pay check to pay check, people start asking questions. Especially if you’re a cop.

But those are my bags to carry. I deal with it. For all the money, for all the problems, just remember this. My name is Turner Hahn. I’m a cop. An honest one–and I’d like to keep it that way. I think I’m good at what I do. And odd, strange, out of the ordinary cases I like to work the most.

Like this one. From the moment Lieutenant Demitri Yankovich, our shift commander, told us to go out here to take over the investigation I knew it was going to be one of the odd ones. Frankly, I was glad it came along. Of late I was feeling bored and run down. My mind needed a challenge. My gut feeling was telling me there was far, far more to this case than what was directly in front of us. It was going to be more than just a murder.

“Hey, Turn . . . look at this,” Frank grunted, kneeling down in the grass just up from the sandy beach.

He was pointing to a large stain in the grass. Blood. Blood and the indications of two people hurrying through the tall grass coming from the lake and heading toward the hotel. Frank stood up and we both turned toward the lake. Directly in front of us was a large, powerfully built speedboat with two 150 horse Mercury Marine engines setting on its stern bulkhead. It had come in fast and slid high up on the sandy beach before coming to a halt. The sand around the boat was churned up where people had jumped off hurriedly. On the side of the hull was a long smear of blood. A startling red streak sliding across the white fiberglass hull.

“Somebody caught one earlier, Turn. Bad wound too from the amount of blood they left behind.”

I nodded in agreement.

Glancing up, looking out over the dark waters of the lake, I smiled, narrowed my eyes, and felt quietly pleased. Yes, something happened over on the far side of the lake. In one of those big houses. A rich man’s house. That would mean power. Big named lawyers to defend the accused. Politicians high and low possibly involved. Cover ups. Lies. Deceptions.

Yep. I do love my job.

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