Motive, means, and opportunity – Opportunity

I’m working on a novella which may boringly be called “Motive, Means and Opportunity” where I will present a chunk of information from which you if you want to, can become the armchair detective.

Here’s the third part, the Opportunity

 

Where was I last night between 9pm and 3am?

Not with my wife, Wendy. She had gone out before 6 pm, about the time is got home from work. No, she didn’t really say where she was going, or if she did, given the list of the past, I didn’t believe her.

Where was I?

Home, alone.

Could anyone corroborate that?

Sadly no.  Isn’t that always the way, though?

But, the car I was driving was a company car. It had a GPS and tracking system, part of so-called security measures put in by the company I worked for, but in reality there to check after hours use.

The GPS would show I never left home.  Using the car, that is.

The only other car had been taken by Wendy so the reality was, I hadn’t left home. The other car, the off-road vehicle was in the workshop, still waiting to be repaired. It was the car out son had been killed in, and neither of us had the heart to do anything with it.

But…

Apparently, I had a visitor.

James Burgman had been seen outside my house at 10:30 pm, his car had been found two blocks away in the car park, away from the street, and he was found dead, shot by a gun that used 9mm bullets, at 4:45 am the next morning.

No. I had not been seen leaving the house, but it had been ascertained that it was possible to leave and not be seen, if I tried hard enough.

I hadn’t and had no reason to, but that didn’t seem to matter.

Sitting in the interview room, purportedly to help the police in their enquiries, Detective John Sanderson had detailed quite succinctly how I had a motive, the means, and opportunity.

Little else mattered, and particularly the fact I didn’t do it. It was only a matter of time before the gun was found.

So, there I sat in the station, waiting for a series of test results to come back, mainly gunshot residue on me and on my clothes, not just those I was wearing, but everything I owned.

In the end, there was nothing. They couldn’t prove I left home, or that I shot him. Not then. I was advised not to leave the city, that I was a person of interest.

When I asked either my wife, Wendy, had been subjected to the same interrogation, the atmosphere changed, and Sanderson had rounded on me quite savagely.

“Her innocence is not in question. In fact, you would not be here if it wasn’t for her statement. She honestly believes you shot him out of pure jealousy, and, quite frankly Mr Winters, so do I, and it will only be a matter of time before I find the evidence to convict you.  Now, get out of my sight.”

 

© Charles Heath 2019

I’ve always wanted to go on a Treasure Hunt – Part 15

Here’s the thing…

Every time I close my eyes, I see something different.

I’d like to think the cinema of my dreams is playing a double feature but it’s a bit like a comedy cartoon night on Fox.

But these dreams are nothing to laugh about.

Once again there’s a new instalment of an old feature, and we’re back on the treasure hunt.

 

Five minutes past the appointed time, I sat on the end of the clean bed and waited.  The single chair didn’t look very comfortable.

It didn’t worry me she was late, she had not specifically stated how long she would be, but to be there in an hour.  If she had business with dark glasses, then she might be a while.  Giving me the key to her room suggested she was not bringing him back with her.

There was a light rapping on the door, hinting at a sense of urgency.  Without looking,. I opened the door, and she slid through and I closed it quickly and quietly.

“I thought you might not be coming?”

I went to switch on the light, but heard her say, “No lights.”

My eyes were already adjusted to the light, or lack of light, and I could see her standing by the door to the bathroom.  Everything about her manner suggested she was ill at ease, or perhaps frightened of something or someone.

Or waiting for Vince, and had to string me along until he arrived.

“Why?”

“No one knows I’m here.”

“Not even Vince?”

“No.  Especially him.”

“He was here about twenty minutes ago, went into the office and came out with a briefcase.”

“I suggest you forget you ever saw that.”

Drugs then, or protection money, or…  OK forgotten.  “Duly forgotten as requested.”

“Is this pace one of the Cossatino’s places?”

“If you saw Vince, then it is.  It never used to be.  The Benderby’s used to bring their clients here, back in the day.  Vince had some of the rooms wired, you know, blackmail, that kind of stuff.”

I could imagine.  I’m sure the ‘clients’ never brought their wives here to have a good time.

“Why are you staying here?”

“Can’t stay at home.  Things have changed.  I’m not interested in working with the family business.  It’s why I left in the first place.”

Imagination running wild, I think I began feeling sorry for her.  Beautiful girl, stupid men, caught in a seedy hotel.  My respect for old man Cossatino just took a dive.

“Why come back then?”

“Alex.  He’s a bastard, just like his father.  All those Benderby’s are the same.  You say you’ve got a plan that might help get him off my back?”

She took off her coat and threw it on the bed with the other clothes.  It wasn’t that dark I couldn’t see her outline and had to look away.

“A possible plan.  One that might kill two birds with one stone.  I have to look out for Boggs because he had got himself into a mess that he doesn’t realise the full potential of yet.”

“The treasure map?”

“I wish people would stop calling it that.  It’s just a piece of paper with a drawing on it.  I’m sure the whole myth was concocted by Boggs’ father as another one of his schemes.”

Everyone knew Boggs father was a touch crazy and had come up with a number of schemes, some even calling the ‘get rich quick’ schemes, and one had landed him in jail.  He never quite understood the nature of the schemes he’d bought off other people in the hope of getting rich himself.  The treasure map, that was a new one for him, but one of his previous customers had caught up with him, and he’d not lived long enough to play this one out.

Boggs unfortunately, was doing it for him.

“You don’t think it’s real?”

“What I think is irrelevant.”

She moved closer and sat on the side of the bed, not far from me.

“So what is this plan?”

“I get you a copy of the map, you give it to Alex, see what he says.  You know you can’t trust him, or anything he says.”

She was too close, so I moved, trying to look like I was not moving.  But at the same moment, I had no idea what it was about her that scared me.  It was apparent she hadn’t told Vince about this meeting.

“It’s a chance I have to take, and you are right, I don’t want to cosy up to Rico.  I have had previous dealings with him, and he is not nice.  But, if you are willing to do this for me, what do you want in return?”

The inevitable question and I think I could guess what she thought I might want.  And that thought did cross my mind.

“Nothing.”

“That is not possible.  All men want something.”

“I’m not all men.  I owe Alex a little payback and this will be a small cog in a big wheel.  If it helps you, good, but I know the Benderby’s and nothing is easy with them.”

“This plan…”

“The less you know the better.”  I stood, and then moved to the door.  “I’m only going to be able to see you in the early hours of the morning.  I’m working an afternoon shift till midnight, and I don’t want to come here in the daylight.”

She stood and came over to join me.

“You are going to have to do something about Rico because Alex will ask him.”

It was something that also occurred to me just before she raised it.  I knew there was going to be a problem, I just hadn’t realised it at the time.  Now, it seemed like another of those insurmountable things.

“I’ll think of something.”

“Then soon.”  She put a piece of paper in my hand.  “My cell number.  Send me a text before you come.”  

Our hands touched briefly and it sent a shiver down my spine.

“I will.”

There was a moment, looking into her eyes where I didn’t want to leave, but fortunately, common sense kicked in, I opened the door and slipped out in the cold night air.  As it shut behind me I shivered.

It had nothing to do with the cold.

 

© Charles Heath 2019

Earth to …

You know how it is, you’re sitting at the lights waiting for the green, and everything is calm around you.

It’s a warm day, the sun is out, the sky is blue, and because they’re taking so long to change, you’re almost drifting off, somewhere else than in traffic.

Bang!

That awful sound of two metal cars crashing, short, sharp, incisive, intruding.

Lights changed, driver next to me, in a lane that ends on the other side of the intersection, pushes his foot to the floor, trying to get in front.  Another driver running a red light hits him.

I sit in stunned silence before moments after the scene bursts into life, people getting out of cars to help.

My eyes are on the car than ran the red light.  The door slowly opens, and a person is getting out.  I look closer, it’s a woman, bright red hair, and blood running down her face.

She is standing, stunned, looking around, then sees a man coming towards her.

Is that panic.  She looks in my direction, our eyes meeting for a brief second, then she’s running.

Towards my car.

Seconds later the door opens, she gets in, and the door slams shut.

Two men are now running towards my car.

“Drive,” she yells.

“You’re injured, you should wait for …”

“Drive, now, or I’ll shoot you.”

I see the gun, now pointing at me.

“You’re joking.”

One of the men is pounding on her door, which I noticed she’d locked.

“Drive.”

I did, pushing the accelerator pedal to the floor.

The two men were now running towards another car, reaching it before I’d got more than 50 yards.  My car was tired, old, and not very quick in a standing 100.

I didn’t tell her she’d picked the wrong car and driver if she hoped to make a getaway.

Before I made a 100 yards, there was a large black 4×4 hurtling towards us.

“Turn left here,” she commanded, pushing the barrel of the gun into my side for emphasis.

I did, nearly losing the rear end of the car in a slide towards the curb, just touching it before moving forward.

My heart was now in my mouth and pounding.

Death by a bullet or an accident, both were high probabilities.

Who was this woman, now indistinguishable because her face was covered in blood.  She should be bleeding out.  Perhaps she might, and that would save me from an ignominious death.

I could see the 4×4 closing the distance between us quickly.

Perhaps there was another way to die.

“Right,”

Another swerving turn.

“Left,” she yelled almost instantly after the last order.

A few seconds later, “Right”.  Then another “left, then floor it.”

The wrong car, I muttered under my breath.

No sign of the 4×4.  Had we lost it?

At intersection coming up, one I recognized.  The railway station.

“Don’t slow down, straight across.”

“Are you mad?”

Prod.

Apparently so, and with a death wish.

The front of the car crunched on the driveway, as I hit it at speed, the slammed my foot on the brake.  A train was waiting at the platform.

She was out and gone before the car had stopped, and the doors of the carriage had closed, all just before the 4×4 pulled into the station carpark.

 

Tap, tap, tap.

I looked over at the passenger side and saw my granddaughter looking in.

“Have you been daydreaming again, Poppy?”

 

© Charles Heath 2018

 

Motive, means, and opportunity – Means

I’m working on a novella which may boringly be called “Motive, Means and Opportunity” where I will present a chunk of information from which you if you want to, can become the armchair detective.

Here’s the second part, the so-called Means

 

Everyone knew I had a gun.  It was locked away in a safe that was not in an obvious position in the dressing room at home.

Several years ago our neighbourhood had been subjected to several breaking and several people had been injured, prompting the rest of us to seriously consider getting protection.

I got a Glock 19, 9 mm along with several of my neighbours and then both Wendy and I got lessons so we knew how to use it properly, and avoid shooting either each other or in our feet.

The thing is, there had only been that one round of breaking, and since the gun was put away on the safe about eighteen months ago, it had not seen the light of day since.

Or so I thought.

When asked to check if it was still there, it wasn’t, much to my surprise.

Equally, to my surprise, the bullet that killed James Burgman was a nine millimetre.  Was that a coincidence, I didn’t think so.

 

© Charles Heath 2019

Not looking for inspiration

Everyone knows about the Iran and USA standoff, well, perhaps a reported standoff, the truth may never be known, because in situations like this both sides of a conflict are looking to gain brownie points with their people.

I’ve decided to look at this from a thriller writer’s perspective, so all or none of my thoughts are true or false.

So, Iran tried to mine and cripple oil tankers, and shot down a drone, a rather expensive drone at that.

The US wants to retaliate, but can’t prove conclusively that the Iranians are guilty of mining ships, and shooting down a drone in airspace it should not be in is hardly the reason to launch an offensive that could have catastrophic consequences.

Several things spring to mind from this doubtless misinformation on both sides:

150 innocent lives mean nothing in the greater scheme of things.  Thriller writers routinely kill off lots of people, innocent or otherwise, because the bad guys are really bad guys and couldn’t care less.  If this wasn’t the lead into another presidential election, that thought of the loss of life would not figure in any military or political thinking.

Innocent civilians in any war, real or otherwise are the last to be considered, and the first to die.

There is, of course, another more cynical perspective, one that was used in Iraq, and that’s to have human shields in places likely to attract precision bombing.  Yes, if the reports are correct, there is such a thing as pinpoint strikes using cruise missiles, though I suspect these types are now obsolete and the US arsenal has something far better.

Then there’s the possibility that whatever that replacement is it’s so new and untested in a live situation, that provoking another country might just give them a reason for doing so.  Or, a more simple explanation, the arsenal is full to overflowing and the US needs to offload some of its inventory.

Wars have been started with a lesser excuse.

Crippling oil tankers is an interesting tactic.  To me, destroying them would send a far more meaningful message to, well, whoever you like.

But, in destroying the ship, and have it sink in a place that would cause catastrophic consequences for all shipping in that region, would cause the Iranians far more problems than anyone else, which is why I suspect they didn’t, and I don’t think they will.   Like it or not they depend on the rest of the world, just as the rest of the world depends on that particular region.  Except for the US, the people they appear to be trying to antagonise simply because the US doesn’t need oil from that region.

So, not a good idea to isolate yourselves by having a complete ban on shipping to that corner of the world.  They’d have to suddenly become shipbuilders themselves, but in turn, no one would let their ships dock anywhere else in the world.

It seems to be posturing on both sides, and no doubt the propaganda machines on both sides are working overtime to convince not only their own people but the rest of the world, they are the injured party.  From what I’m reading, and I’m sure it has nothing to do with the truth, is that we are moments away from full-scale war.

And, not to throw a spanner in the works, it all depends on what the Russians will do.

The plot thickens!

Motive, means, and opportunity – Motive

I’m working on a novella which may boringly be called “Motive, Means and Opportunity” where I will present a chunk of information from which you if you want to, can become the armchair detective.

Here’s the first part, the so-called Motive

 

So, here’s the thing…

I said it.  Not once, in the heat of the moment, but more than once, to several different people.  I wanted James Burgman dead.

Why?

Because I knew he was the man sleeping with my wife, Wendy.

I’d long suspected she was having an affair, you know the signs, not where you expect her to be, making excuses where none were necessary if she was doing what she said she was, and disappearing for hours without an explanation.

And I knew James Burgman was an old boyfriend, a discovery that was made quite by accident.  In fact, I followed her one night, not because I was suspicious, but worried for her safety.

That was where I saw her meet him with more than just a friendly handshake.

I had to say it made me feel gutted.

But would I kill him?

It was not worth the problems it would cause me to do so, and, when push came to shove, neither of them were worth it.  I knew, even if he was out of the way, she would not stay with me. 

That train had left the station about a year ago when our only son had been killed in a senseless road accident.

 

© Charles Heath 2019

A progress report of sorts

This month is ticking by like all the months have this year, very rapidly and with little to show.

That, I’m guessing, has something to do with the fact I’m not satisfied with what I’ve written, probably the bane of every writer’s existence, but a line has to be drawn.

Of course, I’ve been saying that for years.

Perhaps the other problem, if it could be called that, of writer’s is their inability to admit their work is good enough and doesn’t require any more tinkering.

If only.

Right now I’m on the clock to finish off the final draft of “The Things We Do For Love”.  I have been saying, for almost a year now, that it is about to be published.  And yet, here I am, stuck at page 64, trying to get past a small bump in the road.

It is small.  Whether or not I need to provide background for one of the characters.  It comes out slowly over the course of the first two parts of the story which up until now I thought was fine.

The jury will not be out for much longer on that one.

The other book had had the final draft submitted to my editor who has it in hand.  That had several complete re-writes over the last two years and just needs to make sure the continuity is correct.  Sometimes, something is missed and when you get to a point you start scratching your head.

Hopefully, It won’t require surgery.

Then,. there’s another, a more light-hearted book of basically short stories inspired by photographs I have taken over the years.  It’s also currently at the editors, looking for a clean bill of health.

This month also saw the completion of Harry Walthenson, the private detective’s, first case, and that is going through the third draft, before also being sent to the editor for comments and suggestions.

I already have part of the plot worked out for his second case.

All in all, it’s busy, busy, busy.

Next cab off the rank, the second Zoe novel entitled, “First Dig Two Graves”, which is about two-thirds completed.

So much for taking a few days off.