WHY ME? – Part 2

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 Enjoy the last of the story.  And remember, some lives should not be a secret.  Pleasant dreams. 

 

Home is where the love is.

 

Part – 2

 

Kyle was angry for not killing Lucy.  He was more upset with himself.  He assisted Lucy in ruining his life.

 

Lucy was his next-door neighbor.  She meddled in everyone’s affairs.  She would knock on a neighbor’s door with the pretense of borrowing something.  The entire time she would try to sneak a peek inside their homes.  That is what happened to Kyle that afternoon.

 

He had finished lunch.  He was excited to get to his new fascination.  He was about to clean up the plate and glass from the table.  The doorbell rang.  He initially ignored it.  But his car was parked in the driveway.  People would have known he was home.

 

To be neighborly, he opened the door.  He regretted it immediately.

 

Lucy stood in the doorway.  She must have sensed Kyle was not going to talk to her.  She put one foot in the doorway to ensure the door stayed open.  Kyle would never close it on her foot.

 

Kyle was speechless.  She was more aggressive than usual.  Then, in front of him, his world began to fall apart.

 

Lucy’s face turned sour.  The corners of her mouth turned down.  She held her breath.  Her nose wrinkled.  Her head recoiled.  She then turned her head sideways and vomited.  She spewed it halfway on the steps and on the side of the house.

 

Kyle asked if she wanted to come in.  He reached and grabbed her arm.  She backed away.  Fear was in her eyes.  Her five feet frame and portly body were not strong enough to shake his grip.

 

Kyle pulled her to him.  Under the circumstances, he could not allow her to leave.  It should have been easy to keep her there.  She had an attraction to him.  She was married.  But it did not seem to matter to her.  She had even bumped him with her butt a few times.  It was when he was at her home for a neighborhood cookout.  She had asked him to reach a pan for her from a tall cabinet.  It was then that she leaned over to look in the cabinets below for something.  Her butt just so happened to grind against his leg a few times.  Now here she was on his steps trying to leave.

 

Kyle begged her to come inside.  He told her they could make love as she wanted.  He would be her puppet.  She could be his family.

 

She screamed and jerked her arm away.  The sleeve of her red sweater ripped off her arm.  At the same time she twisted and fell backward.  Her feet went in the air and off the steps.  Her body bounced off the concrete.

 

Kyle held nothing but her sleeve.  She scrambled to get up.  Kyle threw the sleeve down and went down the steps to grab her.  In one quick motion she was to her feet and running.  She was barefoot.  Her sandals had come off and were at the bottom of the steps.

 

Kyle chased after her.  He was telling her how much he loved her.  She was fast.  He knew he would never catch her before she got home.  And if he broke in to get her, the neighbors would know it was him anyway.  They watched everyone and everything.  Nosey neighbors.

 

That was twenty minutes ago.  It was when he first heard the sirens.  Lucy betrayed him.

 

He could have left his home for good.  Long before the police arrived.  But he could not force himself to abandon them.  One more look, he thought.

 

He stood up and went to the bedrooms.  In the first bedroom was Leslie, twenty-nine.  The second bedroom was Janice, thirty-one.  The third was Helen, thirty-five.  All full-figured women.  Ideal for him.  They were every man’s dream.  They treated him like he was the only one in their lives.  They were loyal.  They were unlike his wife.  She was a cheat.  She earned her place in the basement.

 

The sirens were now in his driveway.  He could see out the sheer curtains.  Police officers with guns were everywhere.  What could they arrest him for?  He was not hurting the women.  They were all there under their free will.  It was not like they had any other place to be.  No one wanted them.  They were abandoned.  He claimed them as his own.

 

Instead of them rotting all alone with no one to care for them, he gave them a home.  Why should they have suffered in six feet deep dark holes in the ground?  They were just like him.  They needed care, too.

 

Knock!  Knock!  Knock!  Knock!  Police!

 

I hope you enjoyed this dark tale if you did send it to a friend.  And follow my blog.  

Until next time.

Stephen Wallace          

WHY ME? – PART 1

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Why Me? is a 2-part story.  I got the idea for the story while watching the local news.  The news story was both shocking and unbelievable.  You almost wanted it to be made up.  Of course, I added my own twist to the story.  I wish I could tell you more.  But I would give away too much.  With that, enjoy Part 1.

 

PART – 1

 

Kyle sat in the leather chair.  His eyes were closed.  A half-smile was on his face.  Blue Velvet by Bobby Viton played in the background.  Sirens outside were in the distance.  They were not as faint as two minutes ago.  The six or seven or more were getting closer.  They seemed to collide into one.

 

Kyle watched the front door.  His hands were on the armrests.  His back was straight.  Feet flat on the floor.  He was like a statue, still.

 

Five cans of Lysol spray were on the small table next to him.  He cut his eyes to the right and left.  He wondered how his world got to this point.  Three days ago he was happy.  It was the first time in five years he felt this way.  That was when his mom died.  He never thought he would smile again.  Never.

 

He remembered when his life changed from everyday drudgery and pain to purpose.  It was that day that he realized his life was different.  And it was going to be different from now on.  It just clicked.

 

One evening he came home for his daily lunch.  He went into the refrigerator.  The turkey and swiss cheese sandwich and tall glass of orange juice were waiting for him.  It was always waiting for him.  Every night before going to bed he made it and poured the glass of orange juice.  It was his favorite lunch.  Rarely did he have anything other than that.

 

The lunch did not taste extraordinary.  It was bland.  But it was easy and fast to make.  He gobbled it down in ten minutes.  That left him thirty minutes to pursue his hobby.  Over the last ten months it was no longer a hobby.  It had elevated to part of his life.  Now it appeared that it was about to alter his life again.

 

Kyle pushed his six feet, four-inch frame up and out of the chair.  His two hundred-and sixty-five-pound body felt heavy.  He was not sure if it was his weight that made him feel that way or his heart.  It ached.  He could hardly breathe.  It hurt so much.

 

He found life cruel and unfair.  It was as if a bitter cold had blown in and ended summer.

 

He picked up a can of Lysol in each hand.  They were tall cans.  One was lemon-scented.  The other was a summer breeze.  He shook them hard.  Then he pointed them in the air and sprayed the air.  He kept the nozzles pressed down as he walked through the house.

 

He generously sprayed the family room.  The kitchen got a quick spray.  The hallways and walls were doused with spray.  The first bedroom of the ranch house was sprayed for ten seconds.  The next two bedrooms received the same.  After each bedroom, he looked around the room before shutting the door.

 

He dropped the empty cans in the hallway and went back to his chair.

 

He flopped down in the chair.  His shoulders slouched.  His body sunk into despair and down into the chair.  The sirens were closer.  They were warning him.  His life.  His wonderfully designed life was coming to an end.  Ruined in one quick moment.

 

He wiped tears from his eyes.  His thick fingers rubbed Lysol residue into his eyes.  It did not matter.  Here he was, a forty-year-old man acting like a baby.  He was embarrassed.

 

And if the mood could not get any more desperate and lonelier, The Bee Gees were in the background singing How Can You Mend A Broken Heart.

 

“You can’t,” he whispered.  His lower lip trembled.  “No one can.”  His shoulders shook as his head hung down.  Tears poured down his cheeks.

 

He had one thought in this crisis.  He wished for a Genie.  Just one wish.  That was all he needed.  Just one.  He swallowed.

 

He should have Killed Lucy.  He should have killed her immediately.

 

I hope you got a good feel of who Kyle is.  If you like this story, pass it on.  And sign up to follow me.  I’ll keep you posted on new writings. 

I will see you next time.

Stephen Wallace

THE DEFIANT RESIDENT – Chapter 5

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Enjoy Chapter 5.

 

Detective Tilman stood in front of the closed pool gate.  Thirty or forty people stood outside the gate.  Some had cold drinks in their hands.  Some fanned themselves with cardboard.  Everyone wore shorts.  Most wore tee-shirts and flip flops.  Mumbling about the sun and heat rippled through the group and grew louder.  Sweat poured from some more than others.  Few armpits were dry.

 

Detective Tilman heard enough.  “Stop being so ungrateful,” he said.  His face was red and wet.  His shirt and pants were also soaked.  He gasped to catch his breath.  More than a few times he was dizzy.  “Now ya’ll know we’re waiting on Mayor Jeffery.  He gets the first look at this situation.  So stop your bellyaching.”

 

Tilman stuck his neck out and looked toward the back of the line.  “Leonard.  Jimmy.  Dooley.”  He yelled at the line of people while looking past them.  Three boys around twelve to fourteen ran up to him.  “Go in there and get some more refreshments and get them to the people.  The boys ran around the pool toward Mary’s house.

 

“More soft drinks are coming,” Tilman said to the line of people.  “So get your wallets out and pay those boys.  Young men working hard so you can see the threat to the fruits of this town’s labor is no more.  Don’t be stingy about paying.  And there’s no credit.  Pay the full price.  Or you get nothing.”

 

Tilman looked over his shoulder.  The sound of a car had gotten his attention.  A gray Lincoln sedan parked in the driveway of Mary’s home.  A grandfatherly man stepped out of the driver’s side.  He was short.  He wore a white short sleeve shirt and tan shorts.  He was balding and overweight.  He looked to be late seventies.  A woman wearing the same outfit got out of the passenger’s side.  Her hair was white.  She was petite and about mid-seventies.

 

Tilman turned to the people in line.  Many were talking.  Some were still complaining about the heat.  “Everybody calm down,” Tilman said.  “The mayor is going to speak.”  He turned to the man and woman who were now behind him.  “Go ahead, your honor.”

 

Mayor Jeffery cleared his throat.  “Detective Tilman called me this afternoon with the sad news,” Mayor Jeffery said.  “One of our long time and respected citizens had lost her life in the most drastic way.”  He shook his head.  “She drowned from too much consumption.”  People clapped and cheered.  “Now, wait a minute.”  People kept clapping.  “Hold on.”

 

“Be quiet!” Tilman yelled.  “Go ahead, sir.”

 

“Mary lost her way when she decided to testify against Bane Town,” Jeffery said.  “But what you don’t know is that Mary called me last night.”  Everyone was quiet.  “She apologized for taking our money.  Racked with the guilt she was.  So, let’s say our goodbyes.  And mean it.  And thank Detective Tilman for allowing us to come to Mary’s house with her body still in the pool to see her one last time.”

 

The mayor and his wife, Janet, walked by Mary’s body first.  The others in the line followed.  Despite what the mayor said about Mary, it did not change people’s minds.  Some said, “She deserved it.”  “She was greedy.”  “Someone probably did her in.”  “The town’s better off.”

 

Cars and trucks drove by honking their horns.

 

The mayor pulled Tilman aside.  “Finish with your investigation?” Jeffery asked.

Tilman told him it was brief and extensive.  Jeffery nodded.  “That’ll do for me,” Jeffery said.  “When people finish stomping on her grave, have the coroner cremate her.  No need hanging onto the body.  It’ll bring up too many questions.”

 

“Already told the coroner,” Tilman said.  Jeffery smiled and walked away.  Tilman turned back to the group walking by Mary’s body.  “Keep moving people.  Keep moving.  We don’t have all night.”

 

I hope you enjoyed the final chapter.

See you soon.

Stephen Wallace

THE DEFIANT RESIDENT – Chapter 4

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Enjoy Chapter 4. 

 

Detective Tilman wiped his face and spit in the pool.

 

The people at the scene with Detective Tilman recoiled.  Their eyes had deceived them.  He did not just spit in that pool.  Mary’s dead body was still in that pool.

 

“I’d say we’ve been here long enough,” Detective Tilman said.  “Wouldn’t all of you?”  He looked at the others.  The two deputies from Bane Town had not answered.  The two employees from the coroner’s office were quiet.  And the one medic seemed not to know.  “Is that a yes or no?  I’m not a mind reader.”

 

They all mumbled different answers simultaneously.  “Yes.”  “Okay.”  “Think we have.”  “That’s good.”

 

“Mary has gotten a full investigation,” Detective Tilman said.

 

The others quietly asked what?  He had done nothing but drink lemonade from the victim’s house.  And sit in the victim’s chair.  Was he serious?  This was not an investigation.

 

“I did say full investigation and not fill?” Tilman asked.  “Didn’t I?  Because the only thing needs filling here is my belly.  Which I’m about to do shortly.”  He laughed loudly and started coughing.  “Damn heat.  My neck must be redder than redheaded Woodpecker.”

 

Tilman walked over to the glass of vodka and orange juice sitting by Mary’s pool chair.  He leaned over and grunted while reaching for the glass.  The others looked at him with questioning expressions.  They seem to say, “This is a crime scene.  You cannot touch anything here.”  Tilman’s belly stopped him from leaning over to grab the glass comfortably.  Instead he reached it with his index finger and thumb and picked it up.  His hand was wet with sweat.  The glass was sliding from his flimsy grip.

 

“These pants are tighter than that belt they put around your stomach so you can lose weight,” he said.  He laughed.  The others laughed nervously.  He stood up breathing hard.  He then wondered why everyone was looking at him.  Some of them looked away when he stared back at them.  “I get it.  I do.  But I don’t think any of you do.”

 

He walked over to the pool and dropped the glass straight down in the water.  Some of them gasped.

 

“Do I need to remind all of you what this floating fleabag did to us?” Tilman asked while pointing to Mary’s floating body.  No one said anything.  “Do I?!”  His voice rose.  Sweat dropped from his double chin.  “Because it’s apparent to me that none of you remembered.   Or maybe you have selective memory.  And if you do, I suggest you get off your high horse and listen.”

 

None of them knew what to say.  The man just dropped evidence into the pool with the victim’s body.

 

I hope you enjoyed Detective Tilman’s rant.

See you soon.

Stephen Wallace

THE DEFIANT RESIDENT – Chapter 3

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Enjoy Chapter 3 of The Defiant Resident. Sometimes greed can cost you.

CHAPTER 3

DETECTIVE TILMAN WALKED AROUND the pool. The others who were with him at Mary’s house watched him. Everyone seemed to hold their breath, waiting for his analysis.

The truth was Detective Tilman saw Mary as the thorn removed from the side of Bane Town. She was an ungrateful woman. Her morals were not questionable. They were despicable, like her. She got her comeuppance. Accidental or purposely, she finally got what was coming to her. This could not have happened to a more deserving woman.

“All ya’ll look carefully at what happens when greed overtakes you,” Detective Tilman said. He looked down at Mary floating in her pool with disgust. “Respect for mankind goes out the window. Respect for your neighbors ceases to exist. Respect for your town is nonexsistence. This is the very description of Mary. It depicts her cruel life. And now it’s our job to find out how she expired. To be honest, I don’t really care. But it’s my job. And I do my job. Even if it involves a bottom-feeder like Mary here.”

Everyone at Mary’s home knew what Detective Tilman was saying. They had experienced it firsthand. It was financially and personally painful to them. Mary had almost singlehandly brought them to financial ruin. Her death was not going to bring people to tears. It may, however, produce ten or twelve major parties. They would be a celebration for Bane Town and its residents. A stick in the eye for Mary for what she did to them.

Bane’s residents built Mary that five hundred-thousand-dollar mansion. It had four thousand square feet. The home was as nice as a two millioin dollar home in Atlanta. And that spacious Olympic size pool that was wonderfully designed by a world class architect was over fifty thousand dollars. Not to mention the extra millions of dollars that Bane residents gave to Mary for spending money.

All of it came at the expense of Bane Town’s residents. Their taxes were raised by twenty percent to pay for Mary’s lifestyle. Many would have left the town permanently. But their families were there. Everyone they knew lived in Bane—children, grandchildren, elderly parents, friends, thirty-year neighbors.

And many residents had worked at the same job in Bane for thirty years. They were close to retiring. Those who did not want to retire were given the option to work as long as they wanted. But they had to use Medicare for their health benefits. Most had no problem with that. Their medicare premiums were reimbursed back to them by their employers.

Bane was a perfect town to live in. Until Mary agreed to help sue the factories in Bane. The leather dyeing factories were the backbone of Bane. Bane had the distinction of being the leather dyeing capitol of the world. They also were known to secretly dump waste in the Pochitonic River. The factories and the town’s citizens denied this.

The Pochitonic River snaked through the southern states and beyond. No one even knew there was a Pochitonic River until the law firm of Dock, Patter, and Broils came to Bane Town asking questions. And most people in the U.S. still doubt there is a Pochitonic River. The river is hidden underground.

It took Bane residents no time at all to figure out what a big-time law firm from Atlanta, Georgia was doing in their small, barely known town. They were looking for residents to join them in a class action lawsuit. The defendants in the lawsuit would not only be the leather companies, but good old Bane Town would be on trial as a long-time conspirator and accomplice to the environmental crimes .

And if that did not rock Bane Town, the next thing did.

The Federal Government in the Attorney General’s Office was starting an investigation into Bane Town and its leather factories. Criminal charges were slated to come down hard on Bane Town’s mayor and local officials. And to add to that, if one of Bane Town’s residents joined the lawsuit, Bane Town was slated to go bankrupt.

I hope you enjoyed reading about Mary.
See you soon.
Stephen Wallace

THE DEFIANT RESIDENT – Chapter 2

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You can read Chapter 1 in the June 5th blog. I hope you enjoy Chapter 2.

CHAPTER 2

Let’s hurry. But not too fast.

DETECTIVE TILMAN PUSHED HIMSELF up from the chair. “Well, let’s see what happened to dear old Mary,” Detective Tilman said. “If I’m not careful I could be joining Mary.” He let out a gravelly laugh and cleared his throat. “Boy it’s hotter than Hades. I thought I was ready to check on Mary. But I need to sit a while longer.” He braced himself on the chair’s arms and eased back down.

Detective Tilman could come off as noncaring and condescending to strangers. Everyone who knew him said he was the opposite. He was generous and kind with his time. His humor was self-deprecating. Not one person in Bane had a bad word to say about him. Some did question his investigation style.

“Thank you for the chair, Deputy Form,” Detective Tilman said. “You’re going to be a fine sheriff one day.” He fanned his face with his cowboy hat. “I mean that.” Deputy Form thanked him for saying it.

Detective Tilman looked around and counted. “There’s six of us,” Detective Tilman said. “Who wants to volunteer to go inside Mary’s beautiful house and make us all a drink? Air conditioning is in there. So whoever volunteers, I’ll take a lemonade. Not that pink stuff. The yellow. The lemon. Everybody has lemonade. Once we get some fluid in us we’ll check this scene out. See what we got here.”

Detetctive Tilman, two Bane Town deputies, and two employees from the coroner’s office waited near the pool. A rookie medic was inside Mary’s home making drinks for everyone. The medic brought the drinks out. Detetctive Tilman said to everyone, “Gulp them down ladies and gentlemen. It’s time to get serious.”

While sitting in the chair, Tilman had watched Mary floating face down in her pool. He was curious about why she would go into the pool fully clothed. Mary was never seen in the pool. Not in a bathing suit. Not in shorts and a tee-shirt. Not ever. She hated that pool. That was why he found the scene questionable. Did Mary go into that pool alone? Was she forced into it?

Mary did have some enemies. She got pleasure from annoying people. Some envied her and hated her. She enjoyed rubbing their noses in her success. Everyone in Bane could see Mary’s pool when they drove down Millers Street. It was exactly what Mary wanted. And if it meant going out of her way to irritate people, she would. An example of Mary’s nasty disposition was on full display when she purchased her house.

Millers Street was the main street in Bane. It ran straight through town. Mary had her house designed and constructed on Millers Street. She picked out the prime location on the street. She paid twenty percent more than the asking price. She had to. A bidding war broke out on the property between her and a small kindergarten school. To Mary it was either win or get out of the way. The school got out of her way.

Mary wanted the residents of Bane to salivate every day with envy. They would never have what she had without winning the lottery. It was their own fault. They chose to live out a meager existence. She was the richest person in Bane and the next four towns around it. The residents could lick her heels for all she cared. They were nobodies. Except they were the ones who afforded her her lavish lifestyle.

Bane’s residents were a group of backward idiots, Mary called them. Let them stew in their righteousness. See how far that takes them.

Detective Tilman took a sip of lemonade. “That hit the spot,” he said. “Y’all want to know what I think about dear old Mary?” A few people said yes. “Mary was such a pain in the ass, one of us may have killed her.” The people looked at one another. He laughed and drank the rest of his lemonade.

I hope you enjoyed this part. If so, join my email list and send the story to a friend.
Have a good weekend.
Thanks,
Stephen Wallace

THE CONCIERGE – Prologue Part TWO

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Enjoy Part TWO of the Prologue in The Concierge.  The book can be purchased on Amazon. Part ONE of the Prologue was posted on May 25, 2020.

TWO

ATLANTA, GEORGIA

THOMAS GEORGE SAT at a back table in Glasco’s bar. The five-person delegation from China sat at a table in the front. Ten feet in front of the delegation was a five-piece orchestra band. The classically trained musicians were putting on a private performance for the delegation. The band played a combination of classical music with a little jazz thrown in. The private concert was the final part of the delegation’s entertainment for the day.

Thomas chose Glasco to host the concert. It was one of the best bars in Atlanta. And it was among the top one hundred in the country. It was inside the Merle Hotel. The décor was serene but classic. A temporary stage had been erected for the band. The bar’s floor and tables and chairs were dark wood. Burgundy cushions were in the chairs and booths. Small chandeliers hung from the ceiling. The lights were dim to add to the ambience of the bar.

Members of the delegation sipped on the bar’s finest wines and sat quietly and listened to the music. It was two fifteen AM. The bar was usually open to the public. But not that night. It was empty except for the five delegates, the band, the server and the bartender.

Thomas caught the attention of the server and nodded at her. He was saying, keep their glasses full. He knew the delegation liked fine wines and cheeses and appetizers. He had spoken to the manager of the bar two hours earlier. He told him if the delegation ran late he would see to it that everyone who had worked the event was compensated.

The thirteen-hour time difference between Atlanta and China almost guaranteed the event would run late. It was three fifteen PM in China.

The band stopped to take a break. The leader of the delegation waved conservatively at Thomas to come up to their table. Her name was Sue Wang. The musicians left the stage and said they would be back in ten minutes.

Sue had Thomas stand with her in front of their table. The rest of the delegation had stood. Sue spoke about their day and how Thomas had made it unforgettable. The rest of the delegation told Thomas—in their broken English— “Thank you.” Sue then presented Thomas with a box wrapped in red and gray wrapping paper.

Sue told Thomas the gift was for him for his graciousness.

Thomas understood the importance of receiving a gift and praise from the delegation. He warmly and graciously accepted it. He had gone beyond the limits of ensuring that their day was memorable. Not just because of who they were.

Thomas believed everyone should receive top-notch service at the Merle. It did not matter if a guest paid six hundred a night for a room or seven thousand per night for a suite. The service was the same. And these guests were paying seven thousand a night for each of the three suites they were in.

The delegation was in Atlanta to meet with the mayor and governor. They were going to discuss several business ventures that their company wanted to pursue with the city and state. The meetings were scheduled for the next day. The mayor had entrusted Thomas to show the delegation a good time.

Thomas had allowed the delegation to choose what they wanted to see. He cleverly gave them many options and asked their opinions on what they wanted. They visited Mercedes Benz Stadium, World of Coke, MLK Center, High Museum of Art, Botanical Gardens and strolled a few Atlanta Streets.

Lunch was a smorgasbord from various places. Hot dogs at the Varsity was one of those places. Sweet Auburn Barbecue was another. Eddie’s café was another stop. Eddie’s was known for its homemade soup loaded with meat.

Dinner was at Carac. Carac was a five-star restaurant inside the Merle. Its specialty was American cuisine. The delegation had wanted what they called American food. The private concert culminated the day.

After the concert, Thomas escorted the delegation to the elevators.

On his drive home, Thomas expected to get a call from the mayor. She would want to know what he and the delegation talked about. Sometimes he felt like a spy for whoever was the mayor.

If you enjoyed Part TWO, sign up for my email list to receive an alert when a new post is up.  Share this post with a friend, if you like.

Have a good weekend.

See you next week.

Stephen Wallace

THE DEFIANT RESIDENT

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Secrets in small towns are similar to secrets in big cities.  The only difference is more people in that small town may know the secret.  That can get dangerous. 

This short story will be told in three or four parts.  Kick your feet up and enjoy Chapter 1. 

 

A Hot Day in Bane, Georgia – sometimes the asphalt was so hot it melted under your feet. 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

MARY BEEKMAN LAY FACE down floating in her pool.  The seventy-seven-year-old was fully clothed.  She wore white shorts and a pink top.  Her slippers were poolside.  They were next to a teak wood Adirondack pool chair.  A full glass of vodka and orange juice was at the side of the chair.  A straw with a thick coating of red lipstick on one end lay near the glass.  In the chair on a pink fluffy beach towel was a book.  Its title was Sue Your Neighbors And Win.

 

It was one hundred and two degrees.  The humidity was near a hundred percent.  That made it one of the hottest days in Bane, Georgia.  Mary Beekman’s lifeless body had turned up the heat on the town.  Or it had just cooled it down.

 

Bane Town’s population was one thousand.  The town had not had a murder in sixty years.  The average annual income in Bane’s was seventy thousand dollars.  Its primary employers were leather companies.  Per capita, Bane was one of the wealthiest towns in the country.  It was two towns over from Atlanta, Georgia.  Few people heard of Bane.  The citizens wanted to keep it that way for good reasons.

 

Detective Greg Tilman walked next to the pool.  His button-down white shirt was soaked.  Sweat dripped from his face.  He left a wet trail on the ground behind him.  He removed his cowboy hat and rubbed his sleeve across his forehead.

 

“Whew,” he said.  “Mercy sakes.”  He fanned his face with his hat.  “It’s hotter than a damn barbeque pit in July.”  He looked up at the sun.  His face was red and getting redder.  “What the hell?  Why choose a day like today to die?  There’s not a damn place to cool off.  My doctor warned me to stay out of the sun.  It’s hell on your skin.  You get that damn melanoma.  That stuff’s deadly.  And I got hypertension.  That high blood pressure disease.  Talk about a deadly killer?  My family has a history of that.”  He wiped his forehead with a handkerchief.  “Sweating bullets.  Damn it.”

 

Detective Tilman walked away from the pool to a nearby medium-sized Oaktree.  The leaves provided a little shade.  “Will somebody do me a favor, please,? he asked and cleared his throat.  “Slide that chair that’s against the house over here.”

 

Two Bane Town deputies looked at one another.  Both had been deputies for six years.  Both were around thirty-five.  They wanted to tell Detective Tilman what he was asking was wrong.  But they had to be delicate about it.  Detective Tilman was an icon in Bane Town.

 

Detective Tilman was seventy-two.  He had fifty years of law enforcement under his belt.  And about one hundred extra pounds that contributed to him sweating profusely.

 

“Sir,” Deputy Form said.  He was one of the deputies.  “Ah…isn’t this a crime scene?  Or shouldn’t we treat it as a crime scene until we know otherwise?”

 

“Great observation there, Deputy Dawg,” Detective Tilman said, playfully mocking him.  “But think like a killer if you were a killer.”  Deputy Form looked confused. “Play along with me for a minute, son.  Would you tell her,” he pointed at Mary in the pool, “go on over there and lay face down in the pool until you drown.  In the meantime, I’m going to sit here in the shade and watch you die.”  He paused.  “See.  That doesn’t make sense.  Now, I’ll take that chair.  Thank you very much.”

 

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Stephen Wallace

Read Free Chapters of The Concierge – A Suspense and Thriller Novel

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This is the description of my book, “The Concierge.”  It is the first book in the series. 

The Concierge

Parents are going missing around the country.  Children are showing up alone at charitable organizations.  They will not give their names nor addresses.  Some refuse to talk at all.  But, the notes the children carry have these organizations hiding them from law enforcement. 

Individual police departments think these events are only happening in their cities and towns—the missing parents and children too few to raise a national alarm.    

One detective, however, is secretly investigating the missing parents and children.  Despite what top officials say, he knows it is nationwide. 

His research has led him to a man named Clay Vanster.  Clay appears to be rich and powerful.  Many people know him.  The problem is no one knows what he looks like or where he is.  Except for one person—Thomas George.

Thomas is the Head Concierge at the luxury five-star Merle Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia.  He is the best in the business.  Rival hotels attempt to hire him every month.  His colleagues envy and respect him.  He has met and served Presidents—domestic and foreign.  Businesspeople around the world speak highly of him.  He raises money for charitable organizations and police departments.  Politicians, actors, and other influential people stay at the Merle when visiting Atlanta.  Thomas’s attention to detail attracts them and keeps them coming back.

No one has a negative or disparaging word to say about Thomas.  He is described as humble and sincere.  His charm mesmerizes people.  He is willing to help anyone in any way that he can.  Anything guests want he makes happen.

Detective Green wonders, with such a stellar reputation, why would Thomas have a business relationship with Clay Vanster?  If his research is correct, Clay Vanster could be involved in horrific crimes? 

Is Thomas’s connection to Clay a simple coincidence?  Who is Thomas George?  And what is the depth of his relationship with Clay Vanster?

The Concierge

You can see The Concierge and read more of it on Amazon. 

I hope you enjoy this sample. 

 

PROLOGUE

 

WHO ARE YOU?

 

ONE

 

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

 

THREE SMALL CHILDREN shivered outside of Chicago Children Center door.  They had knocked on the door and were waiting for someone to let them in.  It was twenty-eight degrees.  The wind chill felt like fifteen.  It was one thirty-two a.m.  It was March.

 

The two boys were four and five.  The girl was six.  They were blindfolded, scared, tired and freezing.  Their hands were shoved in their pockets.  Their breaths came out as steam.  Their clothes were dirty.  Their faces were filthy.  They had no idea where they were or who was coming for them.  The only thing they were sure of—even though they were scared—was to wait and not move as instructed.

 

The girl pounded on the door with her fist.  Much harder than before.  Even though she wore gloves it stung her hand.  Waiting for someone to open the door she reached out to her sides and put her arms around the boys and pulled them close to her.

 

Clicking sounds came from inside the door.  The children jumped.  The door opened.  A woman’s voice said, “Oh dear.  Not again.”  The woman was forty-nine-year-old Helen Lisan.  She quickly pulled the children inside, almost tripping them.  “Take those off your eyes.”  She was pulling the blindfolds off their eyes as she said it.  “Jay!  Teresa!  I need you!” she shouted down a hallway.  “Stay here,” she ordered the children and ran outside down the steps.

 

She stood in the walkway, scanning the area.  Someone left them here, she thought.  Who left them?  She stared at the parking lot in front of the strip mall across the street.  It was empty.  She looked up and down the street.  No cars or trucks were parked along the curbs.  Parking there was illegal.  Cars were towed when they did.

 

She walked almost to the end of the walkway and stopped and looked around.  She did not see anyone.  But she could feel them.  They were there.  Anyone who took the time to drop off those kids would not leave them in the cold and dark alone.  Someone was there, watching.

 

Maybe she should call out to them?  Tell them she could see them.  Flush them out of hiding.  Who were they?  What were their intentions?  Why had they chosen her place to leave the kids?  Were they telling the truth?  She folded her arms and looked and waited.  A chill came over her.  It was more than just the cold she felt for wearing a thin sweater outside.  She was scared.

 

She backed up, scanning the area.  Halfway to the door she turned around and rushed back inside the building and locked the doors.

 

Jay and Teresa who worked at the Center were with the children.

 

“She was holding this,” Jay said to Helen.  He gave her the note that the girl had been holding.

 

Helen unfolded the note and silently read it.  Please don’t turn us in to the authorities.  Our parents will get us back and continue to abuse us and kill us.  Please help us.

 

Helen swallowed to compose herself.  She pulled Jay and Teresa away from the children.  “Feed them if they’re hungry,” Helen said.  “Get them clean and put them to bed.  No one is to know they’re here.”  Jay and Teresa nodded.  “No one.”  She stared at them.  “Just like before, I’ll take any blame that comes down.  They’re my responsibility now.”  Jay and Teresa said yes.  “Thank you.  Now go ahead and help them.  Hurry up.”

 

Jay and Teresa led the children away.  None of the children talked.  As young as they were, the man and woman who left them on the steps had made them understand the dangers that awaited them if they did not follow instructions.  The children did not want to go back home.

 

Helen went to her office and made notes about the children.  This was the fifth time in three months that children had been dropped off alone at the Center’s door.  It was always early morning hours—one to two o’clock.  No one was around.  No vehicles were around.  Each time the oldest child carried a note.  All the notes were the same.  Don’t tell the authorities.  The parents would abuse and kill the children.  Help us.  And all the children showed classic signs of young abuse victims.

 

Her duty was to call the authorities.  Failure to do so could cost her the Center.  And she was committing crimes—possibly assisting in kidnappings.  She had vaguely described the situation to her attorney.  Her attorney had indirectly let her know that the less he knew, the better.  Because if she were committing a crime, he would be obligated to report her.  That was why she had spoken to him in hypotheticals.

 

The facts were saying whoever dropped off the children were telling the truth.  Physicians, psychiatrists, and therapists who secretly examined, evaluated and spoke with the children saw the signs of abuse.

 

The evidence left Helen with no choice.  No matter how many children came to her, she could not live with herself if she turned them over to the authorities and they ended up dead.  She wished she had more information on the children.

 

Whoever had instructed the kids on what to do and say had done their job.  The kids did not crack under questioning.  They did not say their names or their parents’ names.  Nor would they say where they lived.

 

Helen assumed the kids saw the people who had helped them escape from their lives of hell as angels.  She would if she were in their shoes.  What else could she do?  She had to protect them.  The Center was now their safe place.

 

What Helen did not know was that this scene was playing out in more than twenty different cities in eighteen different states and growing.  Each charity wrestled with what to do.  The possibility that they could send a child to their death forced them to keep the children a secret.  And each charity wondered and feared who else, and what, they were protecting with this secret.

 

If you enjoyed the Prologue in The Concierge, stop by Amazon and purchase the book.  I have written other books.  They, too, can be found on Amazon under Stephen Wallace.  You can read free chapters of each book.

 

Take care of yourself.

Stay healthy and safe.

Thanks,

Stephen Wallace

 

 

NOT SO PRETTY – PART 4

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‘Not So Pretty’ came from an article I read over a decade ago.  It was basically about people ignoring the obvious.  It made them feel better about themselves.  And they were willing to allow someone to be sacrificed.  All of it was to keep up their pretense of being ignorant of the facts.

 

Enjoy Part 4.  Thanks.       

 

 

KEVIN COULD SEE SOMETHING was going on up the driveway near David.

 

Kevin moved in the backseat of the cruiser to see what it was.  He saw through a small opening between the police officers and David’s men.  “That’s my daughter!” Kevin yelled.  “Let me out!  Let me out of here!”  He jerked his hand and tried to pull it free of the handcuff.

 

Officer Newman opened the front door and put up the back window.  He turned around to Kevin.  “Shut your mouth,” Officer Newman said through clenched teeth.  Kevin complained that it was his daughter.  “Listen, jackass.  We’re almost home here.  You’re going to blow this.  Let him give us your daughter.  That’s what he’s ready to do.  Keep your mouth shut.  Or I’ll put you in the trunk.  I swear I will.”  He got out and shut the door.

 

Officer Pelllgram wanted to rush to Callie.  Officer Newman put a hand on his shoulder.  “We should let him talk to her,” Officer Newman whispered through an almost closed mouth.  “She doesn’t appear to be in danger.  She seems to like him.  Let’s let him finish.  Then he’ll bring her to us.”

 

“Okay,” Officer Pellgarm said through an almost closed mouth.  “You’re right.  We’ll wait.”

 

They watched David talk to Callie and waited.

 

“Before you go to your father, can you tell the police officers what happened tonight?” David asked her.  “Tell them why you’re getting home so late.  So you don’t get into any trouble.  And me too.”  He smiled at her.

 

“Just let her come to me,” Kevin said.  His voice was barely heard outside the cruiser.

 

“Mr. Atkins, stop talking, sir,” Officer Pellgram said.  “Let your daughter talk to him.”

 

Neither officer liked what they felt.  Years of experience and instincts told them David was telling the truth.  They doubted David was a hero.  But for this moment, they were going to treat him like one.  Callie was not running from David.  She was holding his hand and leaning against him.

 

“It’s okay, sweetie,” David said to Callie.  “Go ahead and tell them what happened.  You can do it really quickly.  Then you can go to bed.”

 

David made sure the officers and Kevin could see Callie.  His men formed a semi-circle around her.

 

“Mommy took me to David’s house and left me,” Callie said.  “I begged her not to leave me.  I was scared.  She told me to be a good little girl and do what the men told me.  She said she would be back for me later.  I was crying when she drove off.  The men tried to stop her from leaving.  But she left anyway.  And the men took me inside to see David and Mrs. Jason in their big house.  It’s bigger than ours.  We had dinner.  Mrs. Jason gave me Terra’s coat to wear home.  She didn’t want me to be cold.  Terra helped me stop crying.  We go to the same school.  She’s my friend now.  Mrs. Jason is her mom.  I told Mrs. Jason where I lived.  David drove me home while I slept.  Mommy just left me.”

 

“That’s good, sweetie,” David said.  “You need to sleep now.”  David hugged her.  She hugged him and thanked him.

 

“Tell Terra bye for me,” Callie said.

 

The officers looked at one another.

 

“I will, sweetie,” David said.

 

“Callie, I’m Officer Newman,” he said.  “I need to take you to my car while we talk to your father.  Then you’ll be ready for sleep.  You’re not in any trouble.  We just need to ask your father some questions.  Everything will be alright.”

 

“Can I stay at Terra’s tonight?” Callie asked Officer Newman and David.

 

“Maybe another night,” Officer Newman said.  “We just have a few things we have to do tonight.”  Officer Newman had walked up to Callie from his cruiser.  He put his hand out.  Callie did not take it.  She looked back at David.

 

“Go ahead, Callie,” David said.  “Take the nice Officer Newman’s hand.  He’s a good guy.”

 

Kevin had been rolling his eyes and fuming.  “This is ridiculous,” Kevin said.  “I’m her father.  Damn it.  I demand that you give me my daughter.”  The cruiser’s door was partially opened.

 

“Mr. Atkins, we can’t do that, sir,” Officer Pellgram said.  “This is an investigation, sir.  A serious one.”

 

“Officer Newman, I’ll admit to one thing,” David said.  “My men took Callie away from her mother.”

 

Officer Newman was stunned.  David tricked them.  They should have known.  Once a criminal.  Always a criminal.

 

“I can explain,” David said.  “Sandra had put Callie out of her car.  She thought my men would give her drugs in exchange for her daughter.  She was surprised and angry when they didn’t do it.  She then tried to grab Callie and put her back in her car and take her to Elk Street.  My men knew Callie wouldn’t last ten minutes on that street.  They slammed Sandra’s door closed.  Sandra sped off and left Callie.  She thought my men were going to hurt her for wanting to take Callie to Elk.  They saved that little girl.  And I would’ve done the same.”

 

Officer Pellgram had walked up to Officer Newman and Callie and David.  “Can you prove that story?” Officer Pellgram asked.  “Because that’s not what the mother or father said.”

 

“Here’s an easy way to prove it,” David said.  “Ask Sandra, since she was so anxious to find Callie, why didn’t she tell you where Callie was?”

 

“We’ll do that,” Officer Pellgram said.

 

“And I have her vehicle on my camera at home,” David said.  “Oh, yes, I forgot.  I also have her out of her car, leaving Callie behind.  I’ll give you a copy of it if you want it.”

 

Officer Newman and Pellgram hid their enthusiasm.  Kevin and Sandra were going to be arrested.  Both of them were guilty of child neglect and the endangerment of a child.  These were just the first two charges.

 

“Thank you, Mr. Jason,” Officer Newman said.  “You know the drill.  Don’t leave town.  We’ll have questions for you and your men.  We ask you not to discuss this case with anyone.”

 

“I won’t,” David said.  “Maybe you guys should start looking at me as a good person.”

 

“Maybe you should let us,” Officer Newman said.

 

As David and his men were leaving he looked back up the driveway.  Callie waved to him. He waved back and continued down the driveway.

 

Two more police cruisers parked in the driveway.  An unmarked dark car with the letters CPS on the side parked in the driveway too.  It was Child Protective Services.  David glanced over his shoulder.  The image he saw made him feel good for Callie.

 

Kevin and Sandra were in handcuffs.

 

David shook his head.  Sandra was in her house the entire time.  She and Kevin had lied to the police.  But once he showed up with Callie, their story fell apart.  Sandra could not come outside to confront him or Callie.  She knew his and Callie’s stories would be the same.

 

David watched as Kevin and Sandra were taken to a police cruiser.  He heard an officer say, “Endangering a Minor,” to Kevin and Sandra.

 

If you liked PART 4, send it to a friend.  And please sign up with your email address on the left.  I’ll send you updates when my books come out.  I’ll send you a free complete short story.  And, you’ll be notified when there is a new blog post.

I look forward to seeing you next week.

Thank you.

Stay safe.

Stephen Wallace