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 Category:  Mystery and Crime Fiction
  Posted: January 6, 2020      Views: 32
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Chapter 5 of the book Punchinello
Danger Lurks In the Daniels' Basement
"Punchinello Chapter Five" by Brett Matthew West


The eerily similar crimes committed by the Astatula Assassin brought Simmons' memories back to the sheriff. The lawman could never completely erase those vivid images from his mind. Nor, did he want to. He suffered recurring nightmares, and many nights lost much needed slumber, because of them.


Sheriff Daniels returned to thoughts of the Astatula Assassin and declared, "Peculiarly, the deceased have been unassuming small business owners including Marcus Washington and Darius Noles, the proprietors of the Farmhouse Buffet."

Beth drew her thumb across her neck. She removed their dirty dishes off the table and loaded them into the Amana, stating, "There went one of our favorite diners right down the proverbial craphole." Then, she asked, "Brock, do you think we have a copycat on our hands?"

Sheriff Daniels replied, "I've considered that possibility. Noles was missing three fingers on his right hand when his body was dredged from the Salt Fork. So, to answer your question, I'm not sure yet what we have."

Beth confirmed, "I know you well. And, that's just enough to keep you in hot pursuit of the absurd mythical needle in the haystack that sews these murders together."

"Believe me, Beth. No one wants this barbarian more than I do," Sheriff Daniels empathetically remarked, "The morbid degenerate needs to be stopped."

"Can I get an amen for that?" Beth asked.

Opening the basement door ajar, Punchinello smiled broadly and announced to himself, "It's show time!"

Before he could make his move, the doorbell rang. Punchinello stayed hidden. This wrinkle had been unforeseen in the grand scheme of his master plan. Beth waltzed across the foyer and opened the door. Buzz Cochran, the sheriff's boon companion, entered the residence. He joined the sheriff.

Sheriff Daniels greeted Buzz Cochran with a friendly, "Prompt as ever. Isn't that just like somebody who graduated from Duke University? Won the distinguished Rankin law award and still wearing your insignia all these years later, I see."

"We are here to discuss your re-election, are we not?" Cochran asked.

In the basement, Punchinello cursed, "Damn you, Daniels! I'll have my revenge yet."

Deputy Fred Taylor strutted into the house like he was the star attraction the others should bow down to. The lifts he wore in his Tony Lamas, that lit up the room, made him an even six feet tall. His cropped hair styled on the right, tucked behind his left ear, and was shorn to the crown of his head.

Punchinello glared at Taylor, who remained reverently silent. None of the others noticed his presence. Punchinello closed the basement door and Deputy Taylor intertwined with the meeting of the minds seated around the table.

Sheriff Daniels picked up a piece of paper. "I want that feather in my cap," he said in return to Cochran's question. "After all, Astatulan voters demand someone they can trust to enforce their laws."

"Brock, you are no rookie to the world of politics," Cochran reminded him. "Need I ask how the projected poll numbers look today?"

Sheriff Daniels responded, "According to the Crosby County Registrar, I hold an eight point lead over Anthony Schivanni. You know, the retired Police Captain from Dallas. And, Mary Ellen Morrison has three percent of the vote."

Beth commented, "That's mostly her garden club and their associates looking for their fifteen minutes in the spotlight. On the other hand, Sciavanni seems to have become rather popular in the short time he's been in Astatula."

Sheriff Daniels reiterated, "This race is getting closer than I'd like for it to be. It's also the first time I've been in the middle of a decidedly challenged re-election campaign. I want to make a statement so consummated and profound no one ever questions my leadership abilities again. To do that, I need to stop the Astatula Assassin. So, let's get to work wrapping up this election, shall we?"

Buzz Cochran encouraged, "Don't allow any doubts about winning enter your mind, Brock. The people of this town are hard working country folks. They know the job you've done here for the last fifteen years. They'll support someone they know."

The sheriff remarked, "Intensive labor and risk taking. Those are the cornerstones I've built my career around."

He trusted what Buzz Cochran told him and pushed all thoughts of the election from his overloaded mind. He knew the political pieces would take care of themselves. There were much more important matters to confront, like the absence of a pre-pubescent.

"Where's Cody?" he asked. "Shouldn't the little scamp be home from school by now? They only had a half day."

Beth raised a hand to the back of her neck and messaged her muscles. She reminded the sheriff, "Brock, it's only twenty after twelve. Cody will be home soon. This case has really got you tensed up, doesn't it?"

Sheriff Daniels looked at Deputy Taylor and responded, "It's not the case that affects me so much. More so, I feel the Astatula Assassin has placed me in a precarious predicament to test my resolve. Believe me, it's a challenge I unblinkingly accept. I'll nail him to the wall before it's all over."

Deputy Taylor shifted in his seat like the sheriff's comment offended him.

Beth smiled.

Turning his attention to Beth, Sheriff Daniels said, "I promised to take Cody to see that new Aquaman movie down at The Forge Cinema. He's so into that whole superhero film scene."

Beth discerned, "Our little Superboy's been fighting kryptonite his whole life."

Buzz Cochran observed, "I do believe though in the six weeks you've fostered him, the tortoise has come out of his shell some."

"By the way, Brock, thanks for taking Cody to see the movie. He'll appreciate you doing that for him," Beth ascertained. She reached over and planted a kiss on the sheriff's cheek, saying, "Me too."

The sheriff considered Beth's intuitive response. He understood her commitment to the perfectibility of humanity, even if he disagreed with her stance. Although unspoken, Deputy Taylor agreed with him. Boredom settled in his demeanor. He couldn't wait to take his leave.

Bodacious, Sheriff Daniels allotted, "After what Cody's been through, if anyone's earned the right to feel ten feet tall and bulletproof it's that little man."

Headed for the basement door, Beth prodded herself, "I have laundry to put away. So, I'll let you three chitchat."

The book continues with Punchinello Chapter Six. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
This is Evan, by Lilibug6, selected to complement all my Cody Schroder stories.

So, thanks Lilibug6, for the use of this remarkable picture that provides Cody such an easily recognizable face on FanStory.
Pays one point and 2 member cents. Artwork by Lilibug6 at

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