SKETCH OF A MURDER (excerpt from Book 1 Special Crimes Team)
#murdermystery by #AyaWalksfar
Dr. James Benning sat at his usual table near the west wall of O’Toole’s Bar and Eatery on Fifteenth. It was eight o’clock on the evening of April 29th. He forked up the last of his New York cheesecake, topped with real strawberries and hand-whipped cream, then leaned back in the brown, padded leather booth, and sighed contentedly as he sipped his coffee. Pure Kona coffee flown in from Hawaii.
It’s over. Ding-dong the bitch is dead, and I’m finally free! He smiled, stood up, tossed some bills on the table, and strutted out of the restaurant. He took a deep breath of the warm night air and strode toward the lot where he’d parked his BMW.
Now to shut up that bitch, Christina Ryan. Really burned her ass that no one could prove I was anywhere near Carkeek Park when Rebecca was beaten. Stupid bitch would still be alive if she’d gotten the abortion, like I told her.
He spotted the white paper stuck under his windshield wiper while still four stalls from his vehicle. “Damn solicitors. Should be a law to keep them from sticking papers on other people’s cars,” he muttered. When he got to his car, though, he realized the white paper was a business-size envelope. Frowning, he pulled it from beneath the wiper blade.
Meet me at Carkeek Park. You know the place. The same place that you left Rebecca bleeding and dying. Alone. At midnight. I have something that belongs to you. How much do you think the tabloids would pay for the scoop of the year? Mayoral Candidate Murders Ex-Wife.
The half moon threw watery, silver light on the black ribbon of the packed dirt path. Head up, shoulders back, Benning entered a tunnel formed by newly leaved trees.
His steps dragged to a halt. Head tilted, he listened. A twig. That was just a twig breaking. But…. Brows furrowed, he turned in a slow circle.
Big-leaf maples loomed overhead, shaggy with small ferns sprouting like wayward clumps of hair in the bends of moss-covered tree arms. Tall bushes grew profusely along the path. More ferns, some three feet tall, grew in wild profusion among the trees.
Nothing. Probably a dog stepping on a dry twig. Enough dogs and twigs around here!
Pace a little faster, he walked a few feet when he heard it. A rustling. Like someone sneaking through the bushes next to the trail. He stopped, peering from one side to the other along the pathway. “Okay, bitch, come on out. Quit playing your fucking head games.”
The pale green needles of a conifer entwined with the darker green needles of Douglas firs. He stared for a long minute, trying to see through clumps of wiry-limbed bushes heavy with white berries.
Nothing. He gave a half-hearted shrug and then spun with military sharpness, quickly moving out again. A squirrel. It’s only the rustling of a gray squirrel.
“Bitch probably won’t show. Wait until I get a hold of her, she’s going to wish she’d never gotten involved,” he threatened in an undertone.
A breeze soughed through the trees, young leaves whispered to each other. Somewhere a truck roared to life. The rumbling of its engine, muted by the thick vegetation, sounded far away. A shiver ran down his spine.
He’d never felt quite so isolated. “Almost there. Just around that curve then I’ll see if she shows. I want this done. Fucking bitch better show.” Unconsciously he hunched his shoulders. Embarrassed by his own weakness, he began to turn to look behind him.
Out of the shroud of night, a solid piece of maple limb slammed into the side of his head.
Every Tuesday at six am, personal headlamp firmly strapped in place, Professor Lucy Holliswood jogged through Carkeek Park on one of the lesser-used paths. On this day, her pale cone of light flashed over something…something at the side of the path.
She had jogged this same route every morning for ten years on her way to The Happy Bean, her favorite coffee shop, just up the street from Art’s Supermarket. In all that time she had never seen so much as a discarded paper cup. She slowed to a near stop, peering at the dark object. What the…? A black leather loafer, toe perfectly aligned with the edge of the packed dirt of the path. Although the thickness of the salmonberry and Oso berry bushes obstructed her line of sight, she thought she saw…a pair of light-colored pants?
She crept forward. The second shoe, a long stride behind the first one, looked as if the owner had vanished mid-stride. A half-step farther along on the ground she found a pair of beige slacks neatly laid out. The dirt around them had been carefully brushed free of twigs and leaves. Crease still perfect, but ruined by the dirt on one knee as if the wearer had fallen.
Where in the Sam Hill is the man who owns these clothes? They certainly aren’t what the homeless men wear. And why would anyone lay them out like this, so neatly?
She pushed forward, arm held up to deflect the slapping branches. Her mother’s voice whispered in her mind, “Someday, Lucy, that curiosity of yers is gonna gitcha in trouble.”
Above the slacks, a white shirt laid flat, arms crossed neatly over the buttoned up front. An expensive-looking, pale gray tie lay on the ground above the shirt. The tip of the tie, lying an inch above the collar of the shirt, drew her eyes. Her eyes followed the straight line of the stretched out tie.
She barely captured the scream with her knuckles as she scrambled backwards.
SKETCH OF A MURDER: BOOK 1 SPECIAL CRIMES TEAM is available: http://www.amazon.com/Sketch-Murder-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00KU6AIPQ
The woods image: Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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