At 6 am a jogger wearing a blue track outfit, huffs past a Victorian house with green-gabled trim, waves to a paperboy leading his terrier, skirts a tricycle in his path, suddenly grabs his ears making a quick right onto someone’s lawn, heading for what looks like a back porch overshadowed by two tall oaks. Then promptly disappears.
“Hello Officer? Is this the Shelton Police Station? I want to report a missing person. I don’t know what happened to my husband. Went for his usual early morning run, but he’s not home yet. I’m really worried. It’s been two hours. He’s usually here for breakfast at 7 am. His toast is cold. And he hates cold toast. His name? It’s William.”
Andrew scratches his chest, blinks and glances at his watch. The luminous dial shows five thirty something. He stretches then eases out of bed trying not to wake Clare. He always gets up early for his morning run.
Tip-toeing like a mannequin, he hunches over the moonlit crib, and spends the next few moments analyzing the face of his baby son. High cheek bones, dark hair, and a mole on his left cheek. Just like dad. Short puffs of breath escape the baby’s lips, heading upwards to join the hammering heart of a proud parent hovering in ecstasy.
“My dear little son,” the man murmurs. Don’t wake him, his senses whisper. The little guy was cranky last night and barely got to sleep a few hours ago. So be nice. ‘Quiet’ is the password.
“But right now, you’re my little angel,” he croons softly to his son. Andrew gently touches David’s foot, then turns and bends over his wife, kissing her cheek, grabs an armful of clothes and heads downstairs.
A glass of juice is all that Andy needs. His best buddy Rick started this short name ‘Andy’ business at Tim Horton’s where he works as the Pastry Chef. Thankfully, Andrew was able to get a job, since he hadn’t even finished high school. David came along too soon. He and Claire planned to get married after graduation but it didn’t work out.
Now things were pretty tight with a baby, a wife and a job any kid with a few smarts could do. Yes it was rough, especially when you’re only nineteen. Claire was sixteen and the baby three months. Ah well, Andrew thought, at least he didn’t have to go skirt chasing every night. All the loving he wanted was waiting right here at home.
The street was quiet, no dogs barking yet, and a black cat crossed in front of him. Black was supposed to be bad luck. His easy lope along the sidewalk took him towards the downtown, about six blocks away. Elm trees rustled, and a mourning dove sent its sad cry to follow. Eventually Andrew was able to get ahead of the sad sounds, and he began to relax.
Something nagged the back of his mind; a shadow back there. Almost like it didn’t fit properly as a normal silhouette against the fence. A few chills wrestled with the back of his neck. He increased his speed, hoping to get home a little early. Even get far away from the strange feeling. Maybe take a shower and have a few extra minutes to play with David.
Andrew’s mind was preoccupied with his pace, sneakers slapping against the pavement. He never expected the blow against his back, lost his balance and tumbled to the sidewalk. No one was around to witness this young man as he lay momentarily on the ground before something lifted his body, ripping and tearing and finally tossing him aside like a torn rag doll. David never saw daddy again.
“Shelton Police Services. Sgt. Collins here. May I help you?”
“This the Police station?”
“Yes, ma’am,” the officer said patiently. She always got a kick out of people not believing this was the Station after dialing their number. Where did they think they just called, the Pizza Palace?
“My husband didn’t come home. He’s supposed to go to work. And he was jogging, and I …”
“Hold on please. Take it slow and easy. This is the second one today, the officer said under his breath.” Now he spoke slowly and deliberately, knowing from years of practice how to deal with someone out of control. “Now tell me how I can help you.” Sgt. Collins waved desperately, catching Officer Chinn’s attention, and pointing at the phone.
Quickly picking up an accompanying line, Officer Chinn heard someone crying. Then the line went dead.
A garbage can lid fell making a loud noise in the deserted alleyway. Responding to the sudden noise, a cat whose rest was disturbed melted away. And a raccoon scurried over the fence into a neighbor’s yard, simply glad to be away from this evil place.
The street-boy stepped carefully over the offending piece of tin. He glowered at the object that distracted him, almost waking up the neighborhood. He placed his hand over his eyes as if to keep out any negative thoughts. And crouched as he continued his search for something of value. It was then he saw the bloodied body. At least what was left of it.
Claire was barely able to keep her nerves under control as she waited in the foyer of the police station. She needed a smoke in the worst way, but promised anyone who cared to listen she was giving them up. Right now, her system cried out for some relief from this uncertainty.
David was a handful for one pair of hands. What happened to her husband? She knew it wasn’t another woman, since checking with all of Andy’s old girlfriends. And he wasn’t in any of the hospitals or clinics from Halifax to Tatamagouche and Antigonish.
And of course no one resembling her husband’s description had been admitted to the Colchester Regional Hospital in Truro. Was Andrew hurt somewhere, unable to cry out for help?
Peter lived in a stone house on the edge of town. It was very large, with a huge lot and a ring of thick spruce providing the utmost in privacy, and most comfortable for two brothers. They inherited the property after the death of their parents in a plane accident.
He had observed in horror the day of the first killing, an out of control rage that moved with painful slowness, as if watching a movie in shocking motion, and the perpetrator was his own brother.
Too afraid to turn him in, Peter tried to block the information from his mind. He was also fearful of his older sibling and tried to bury himself in chores around the house. He would never turn Alvin in; no, not his own flesh and blood, especially when totally dominated and intimidated by his angry brother.
“It’s those voices in my head,” Alvin kept saying.
If only Peter could provide clues to what his brother was doing. The authorities had to know what was happening. Peter’s reason for being so reticent, was due to his conviction of child molesting, arrested by Detective Huff of the Sheldon Police Detachment, and because of health problems sentenced to two years, less a day of “house arrest,” rather than serve a jail sentence.
It was a challenge for Peter to try and overcome his fear of his brother, and everyone else who may point fingers at him for what he had done. Yes, somehow he must provide a means to help Detective Huff, regarding these unsolved murders in the town.
Detective Huff had breezed into town one day, fresh from Police College in Charlottetown PEI, and through outstanding performance, worked his way like a bulldog up the ladder. Everything was going along fine, without a crack in the road of success, citations for bravery, promotions from case solving, picture in the local newspaper, until one day the world caved in.
His wife drowned several years after moving to town, and throwing himself fully into his work didn’t seem to bring any closure. That is until these unsolved crimes came along two weeks ago. He had to find the killer or killers. The town depended on Huff, as he was called, since hardly anyone could recall what his real name was.
“Now,” Huff wondered, “what is going on in this once quiet town?” He was determined to find out.
A CHALLENGE TO ALL THOSE WHO COMMENT ON THIS STORY. Add to any comment - a creative ending of no more than 100 words and I will add them to the final ending, including your name.