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Angel of Mercy Part 5 by Begin Again
 Category:  General Fiction
  Posted: April 16, 2010      Views: 225

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Begin Again is a resilient "senior citizen". Reinventing and restructuring her life has become almost common place for her.

I love music, books, and sitting by the water. Each of these activities brings a sense of life to me.

She is an accomplished script writer and is currently at the #11 spot on the rankings.

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Brilliant shades of red and orange spread across the sky as the sun peeked over the horizon. A man in a kayak glided silently across the lake. The cool morning air smelled fresh and clean. A peaceful hush embraced the world before another day began. Taking long deep breaths, I tried to cleanse my body of the past few days.

A black sedan pulled into the park and came to a smooth stop in front of me. I opened the door and slid into the passenger seat. Putting the car into gear, Jerry quickly pulled away.

The smell of fresh coffee and cinnamon rolls filled the car's interior.

"You are a life saver, my friend." The first warm pastry disappeared, followed by a long, gulp of coffee. My stomach growled in thanks. A long, satisfied moan escaped my lips as I licked the sticky frosting from my fingers.

"Looks like you've lost a few pounds." Jerry cast a glance in my direction. "A heck of a way to do it though, pal."

"Tell me what's happening. Any idea yet on who's playing Good Samaritan?"

"Nothing yet, but why would anyone feed the poor, only to turn around and kill them? I think you're on the wrong track, Max?"

"Listen, if I've learned anything while living on the streets, it's how they don't let strangers get near them. The perp has to be someone they know and trust. Who better than someone who provides them with hot meals?"

"So if that's the how, then what's the motive?"

"He thinks of himself as an Angel of Mercy. Maybe, in some weird, sick way, he thinks he's doing them a favor." I swallowed the last of the other cinnamon roll.

"Well, I hope you're right. Van Buren and I are meeting with Penwell this morning at ten. I sure as hell hope we aren't tipping our hand." Jerry turned the car back into the park and stopped where he'd picked me up.

"The Lieutenant is a good judge of character. Do you think she'd be sleeping with a murderer?"

"Stranger things have happened." As I opened the car door, he added, "Watch your back. I just got used to you as my partner, so don't go getting stabbed."

"I'll sure as hell try not to." I slammed the door and Jerry pulled away.

At ten o'clock sharp, Tom Penwell escorted Lieutenant Van Buren and Jerry into the firm's conference room. Several plush leather chairs were strategically placed near the brick fireplace. A mahogany table and chairs filled the other end of the room.

Penwell kissed the Lieutenant's cheek, "Nice to see you this morning, darling."

A tinge of red spread across her face. "Thank you, Tom."

While the lovebirds exchanged a few brief words, Jerry took the opportunity to cruise the room, admiring the expensive artifacts. On a small table near the window, a folded American flag was incased in a clear plastic box. A picture of two soldiers and a display of medals sat beside the flag.

Tom Penwell spoke, "The picture was taken on their last tour of Iraq together. The red head is my brother, Justin. The other guy is his best friend, Stephen."

"Ahh ... the flag ... did one of them lose their life while on active duty?"

The Lieutenant stepped up and picked up the picture before answering Jerry's question. "Justin was severely injured by a roadside bomb. Stephen saved his life." Setting the picture back on the table, she abruptly changed the subject, "Tom, we were wondering if you might be able to shed some light on our investigation. We have reason to believe that our killer is well known in the homeless community, someone they trust."

Tom stood staring into space. When he failed to acknowledge the Lieutenant's remarks, she stepped closer, resting her hand on his arm. "Tom ..."

A knock at the door captured everyone's attention. A stunning brunette, carrying a tray of pastries and a coffee carafe, entered the room.

"Anita and ... uh, I'm sorry, I forgot your name." Tom's face registered confusion.

Jerry wondered what had rattled this distinguished businessman to the point of distraction. He quickly offered his name. "Detective Jerry Slater, ma'am."

A warm smile spread across her beautiful face. "Nice to meet you, Mr. Slater. I'm Suzanne Stuart, an attorney with the firm." Setting the tray on the table, she proceeded to pour the coffee. Handing Tom a steamy mug, she adjusted the picture on the table. "I was engaged to Stephen. The three of us grew up together."

Accepting a cup of coffee, Van Buren steered the conversation away from the young men. "Suzanne, you and Tom deal with the homeless on an everyday basis down at the Soup Kitchen and Mission. We were wondering, if by any chance, you'd heard talk of a Good Samaritan delivering hot meals on the streets?"

"None that I've heard about, but you might speak with Father O'Brien, over at St. Mary's. If anyone knows any scuttlebutt from the streets, he would."

Anita exchanged a few private words with Penwell, while Suzanne showed Jerry a rare painting, explaining the artist's humble background and rise to fame. A few minutes later, they said their goodbyes and left.

As the elevator doors shut, Jerry questioned Penwell's extreme change in attitude, "Excuse me for saying this, Lieutenant, because you know the man better than I do, but don't you think Penwell's actions this morning were a bit strange."

She nibbled her lower lip for a second and then decided to explain. "Stephen and his younger brother, Ted, were involved in an automobile accident. Stephen was able to get out of the car before it caught on fire. Ted suffered third degree burns over 85% of his body. While Stephen encouraged his brother to fight for his life, Ted begged and pleaded with the doctors to let him die. Finally, six weeks later, he succumbed to death." The elevator doors opened and we stepped out into the building lobby.

Moving out of the line of traffic, Van Buren continued, "In an attempt to console his best friend, Justin convinced Stephen to re-enlist with him. They joined under the buddy system and were sent overseas together. Their humvee hit a roadside bomb. It tore through the floor and shattered Justin's legs. Stephen applied tourniquets and kept Justin talking until help arrived. He received the purple heart for saving his friend's life."

"Wow, I understand Penwell's reaction now. So what happened? Did Justin die from his wounds?"

"No ... he survived and after many months of hospitalization, he returned home to his wife and daughter. About the time of Stephen's discharge, she decided she couldn't cope and went back East to her family. Being Justin's best friend, Stephen tried everything to help him. One morning, he found him with a bullet hole through his head. He left a note saying he couldn't endure the pain any longer."

Jerry shook his head. "You think you've seen it all in this line of work, and then you hear a story like that. Where's Stephen now?"

"When Tom told me the story, he said that Stephen disappeared after the funeral. Didn't tell his family or Suzanne where he was going. That was ... hmmm ... five years ago, I think."

"Wars sure do a number on the young men and women fighting them, don't they? Doubt that any of their lives are ever the same."

"Let's get the car and go see Father O'Brien. We can't help Justin or Stephen, but maybe we can help someone else. Stop all this senseless killing."


Author Notes
M y continued thanks to those who have continued to follow the story. I appreciate your support.

Also, thank you again to Agnes for the wonderful artwork.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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