Mystery and Crime Fiction posted June 13, 2021 Chapters: 3 4 -5- 6... 


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Suzy Fleming Arrives; DNA Gathered

A chapter in the book Running Blind

Running Blind ~ Chapter Five

by Sally Law


The author has placed a warning on this post for violence.

Previously, in Chapter Four~

We checked into the adjacent motel and showered. An hour later, our ravenous troop headed for our complimentary meal at "Al's Barbecue and Such." Jazz and the smell of savory cooking filled the air. The restaurant's staff brought out extra chairs to accommodate our large group dining street side. I invited the Sheriff to come and eat with us; but he declined, saying he needed to get back to attend to his wife. The way he said it, implied a disability.

"Your wife, is she well?" I asked.

"She is. Like you, Olivia's had to cope with eyesight loss. It's been very hard on her. My evenings center around her. Our daughter, Danielle, cares for her during the day."

"I would like to pay her a visit. I recently went blind and know of the constant adjustments. Perhaps King and I can stop by tomorrow...?"

{Chapter Five}

A hot and muggy day was forecast for the southernmost parts of Louisiana, rousing our state bird: the mosquito. I could hear them right outside our motel window, buzzing around the air conditioner's drip pan.

Another sound stirred me, just as I was about to smack a dive-bombing mosquito.

It was Suzy Fleming's '59 Cadillac, wheeling into the Motor Court Inn.

I realized only then, Jackson and King had let me sleep in. Unearthing myself from the covers, I stumbled towards the door.

Knock-Knock-Knock! "Sally dear, it's me!"

I creaked open the door. "Suz, you read my mind. What was I thinking, leaving you in Lafayette Township?"

She escorted me to the edge of the bed and handed me an ice coffee.

"Sit. I'm here to help and get you back on track. You have plenty of time before you leave for New Orleans. I brought some lighter clothes," she said, unzipping a travel bag with vigor. "This polyester cop thing you have going, isn't going to work in this sweltering heat. New Orleans in June is hotter than... New Orleans in June. Here's a four-piece linen ensemble that's chic and professional," Suzy said in her QVC voice.

"You found this in my home closet?" I asked in disbelief.

"Yes, with the tags still on them. I brought something for your mound of curls, too. Up and away for today...."

"You're right. We were all dripping wet from yesterday's breakdown. I'm thankful though, it could have been much worse."

Our conversation paused when Suzy switched on the TV. The voices of WKMZ early morning news caught my attention.

"...Authorities are asking for any tips in the disappearance of art curator, Duran Gibbons. Foul play is suspected. If you have any information, please call the New Orleans PD Crime Line at 1-800-444-TIPS."

I almost choked on my latte. "Duran Gibbons has disappeared? Oh, Suzy!"

**********

Our team met again at Al's Barbecue and Such for a hearty breakfast and meeting before our departure to New Orleans.

I was anxious to get on with the cold case of Camille Jean-Baptiste. For reasons I couldn't explain, distractions were pulling me in every direction. Now with the disappearance of Duran Gibbons, the case had become more complicated.

Offering to give a formal statement, I spoke with Captain Will Moran at New Orleans Police Department about my involvement with Mr. Gibbons and my intent to sell the oil painting to him. He seemed surprised to hear that I was in town on the Camille Jean-Baptiste cold case. It turned out to be a good call, insisting we use his mobile CSI lab at no cost. I, of course, received his kindness.

Captain Moran was more than cordial. "I wish you well, Sally. Let me know if there's anything else you might need while you're here."

After breakfast, I delegated an important phone call to Suzy. "Contact The Fountain Gallery on Bourbon Street. Ask them if they are interested in buying my uncle's painting."

"Oh, I'm certain they will be interested, Sally. Do I mention the price?"

"No. I will negotiate the price if the curator agrees to speak with me personally. I'm pretty sure it just went up."

**********

We left River Ridge around ten o'clock. I purposefully rode in Dr. Marie MacLavish's truck along with Lieutenant Miles Jean-Baptiste to discuss the case. Jackson, King, and Detective Lembowsky were behind us in the Suburban with the oil painting.

Suzy hung out in River Ridge with a string of calls to make on my behalf. I gave Suz something fun to do as well--a visit to Olivia Henry bearing roses from me. I still planned on getting by to see her soon, regardless of my fragmented week.

**********

It was even hotter in The Big Easy than I had expected, the humidity stifling. I felt so sorry for King. I laced a cold compress around him.

Doctor M thought to bring a fan. Talk about a godsend. We wasted no time and worked together as fast and efficiently as we could. There was an auction going two units down in the rental complex, which made for nosy people poking in from time to time, wondering if we had anything for sale. One guy in particular wouldn't leave us be. Detective Lembowsky finally flashed his badge and told him to move along.

The first two boxes of Camille Jean-Baptiste's belongings were gold: a bedspread, favorite blanket, and dolly. There was even a hairbrush! Doctor M and I shouted for joy. Miles handed us one thing after another. It was an amazing find. After we had bagged and tagged the valuable DNA, I let the dogs get a good sniff to capture her scent.

The dogs seem to really like her blanket, so I clipped off a piece and stashed it in my tote bag for future use.

Around two o'clock we finally broke for lunch and headed towards the food trucks. We caught a breeze and a break. It was really nice to visit and talk about all the good DNA we had just collected.

Jean-Baptiste sat next to Jackson and me and started to weep. "Happy tears or sad, mon ami?" I asked.

"Happy, Madame Detective. So very happy...."

Just as we gathered our lunch trash, the mobile crime lab pulled in. Doctor M led the charge back to the storage unit and our valuables there. "Now for the good part," she said.

**********

Back in Louisiana Township, Lieutenant Janelle Harris was holding everything together in the absence of Lead Detective, Mike Lembowsky.

A stranger came in the front door of the precinct with an inquiry.

"Excuse me, pretty lady. I know this sounds awfully gushing, but I was hoping to say hello to The Blind Girl... Detective Sally Law. Is she in?"

He looks like something out of a comic strip in that tiger-striped blazer, thought the seasoned detective. "No, she's on a case."

"So...she's out of town?"

"No... just busy. And you are...?

"Aw, just a fan. I'll check back another time. Have a pleasant day," he said, rapping his knuckles on the desk.

He turned and walked out; his face turned away from the surveillance cameras.

Janelle walked to the door and nabbed his license plate number, then ran it through the computer system.

"BR7-113Y belongs to Lonnie Hastings. He just doesn't look like a Lonnie Hastings!"

She radioed Sergeant Dina Ray and gave her the address from the vehicle's registration. "Sergeant, go by the Hastings' residence and make sure everything is okay. Something feels off."

"Roger that, boss."

For protection's sake, she called Detective Lembowsky to tighten security around the force.

The criminal mastermimd raced away in the stolen car towards the Vermilion River, regretting he didn't have another body to dispose of. "I'll get you too, Blind Girl, and the paintings...."

To be continued...

**********

{Main Characters}

Detective Sally Law, that's me, also known as the Blind Girl, Lead Detective for Lafayette Township Police Department: Cold Case Division. I'm also heiress to the Andre Dupree Art Collection and fortune.

Detective Jackson Law: my husband, and a consultant to the force.

King: my guide dog, Superdog, and ace crime-solver.

Detective Lieutenant Mike Lembowsky, Homicide, Lafayette Township Police Department. He also lives next door to us on Main Street in Lafayette Township.

Detective Lieutenant Janelle Harris and her German Shepherd, Vanta.

Suzy Fleming: My personal assistant.

Detective Lieutenant Miles Jean-Baptiste, Lafayette Township Police Department: Cold Case Division.

Dr. Marie MacLavish: Tri- County Medical Examiner and Forensic Anthropologist; married to Alan.

Mr. Duran Gibbons: Former curator and owner of The Duran Gibbons Gallery of Fine Art. Mr. Gibbons is in a body bag, headed towards the Vermillion River.

Floyd and Boyd Clarkston: Local criminals for hire, now seeking a better life. Waiting arraignment in River Ridge.

Criminal mastermind, Tony Alfanzi, aka, Anthony Fabio, and street name: Tony the Tiger. Likes to work alone unless it suits him to do otherwise. He has recently set his sights on The Blind Girl.

Captain Will Moran: New Orlean Police Department.

{Louisiana of 1990 and now}

Olivia Smith Henry: Amnesiac and missing person, Camille Jean-Baptiste.

Albert Lee Reynolds: Owner and proprietor of Al's Barbecue and Such; his wife, Shirley.

Pastor Lyle Henry: Formerly the Pastor of River Ridge Mission Church and the community hostel. He is currently the Sheriff of River Ridge. He lives with his wife Olivia; and their daughter, Danielle.



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#15
June
2021


Roger that: I understand and will make it happen.
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