Mystery and Crime Fiction posted April 19, 2020 Chapters:  ...4 5 -6- 7... 


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Confrontation

A chapter in the book Double Blind

Double Blind ~ Chapter Six

by Sally Law


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

Previously, in chapter five~

Jackson, King, and I made our way over to Louie's Diner to begin our first case--the kidnapping of the governor's daughter that seemed more urgent by the minute. Clementine Jones was last seen at the famed diner with an older gentleman shortly before closing last night.

Detective Lembowsky took charge of the scene, and we were all assigned different areas.

King and I were positioned at the side exit to the alleyway, or what I call the 'smell zone.' Most people don't realize it, but a dog has 10,000 times the sense of smell than a human. People who are blind like me also experience an increased sense of smell. My faithful dog and I were guaranteed success from the start.

I sat with King to have a heart-to-heart talk before we began.

"King, we need to find this young lady. She needs our help. No touching anything with your paws. Alert me, and I'll call Detective Lembowsky." King let out two barks in compliance.

I had asked for clothing from Clementine Jones's closet for the search. Once King caught her scent, he went right to work. It didn't take long.
King's sniffing ended with a whine, then he sounded off with two barks.

"Heel, King. Don't touch," I commanded. Detective Lembowsky reappeared and assessed the evidence as we backed away. The smell of cigarette smoke was still lingering throughout the alleyway from the night before.

"Way to go, King. It looks like we have a chain smoker here," said the detective as he shook open his evidence bag. "Let's gather these cigarette butts for a looksee."

King and I found several things Monday afternoon: a ladies' scarf, Hyundai car key, and LSU class ring, all possibly belonging to her. But most impressive, was the crumpled print out of Clementine's online date connection she'd made sure to leave behind.

"Bingo! Well, hello there, Gavin Lovett," said Detective Lembowsky.

********************

Chapter Six~

A thick cloud of gray dust hung in the air, pinpointing the area where the wood-hauling truck carrying Clementine Jones and Bobby DeWoody had lost control and plunged over the edge.

The enormous bald eagle Tine had sighted earlier, had seen the whole thing. He circled down from the cloudless blue sky to assess the damage. Perching on a stump, he made his presence known. The piercing sound of his cry warned the gathering vultures.

Tine was sprawled out on a grassy area, just below the road's edge, her white coat sprayed in red. Bobby had had the forethought to push her out the passenger door before the truck went further down the precipice towards the ravine.

Wiping blood from her eyes, she looked around for Bobby, as she feared the worst.

A familiar pain filled her heart, somewhat like the pain she felt only once in her life. She scrambled to her feet and noticed the eagle had stirred, too. He mounted on his wings and flew in the direction of the skid marks.

"Bobby!!" His name echoed, but brought back no response. Stepping over piles of strewn firewood, Tine made her way to the sloping edge, trembling, calling his name over and over. It was there she saw him. Bobby lay bloodied and still, one level below her. The eagle had already stationed himself next to him.

Exposed roots from an oak tree very near the cliff's edge offered the solution. First, she tied her coat around her waist to free her arms. Then taking a deep breath, she gathered her strength and began her descent. Her badly bruised right hand kept slipping, the pain threatening to overwhelm her.

With six feet to go, she dropped, landing in an area of overgrowth near Bobby.

The vultures were increasing in number, yet the eagle denied them any spoils. I wonder how long the eagle can hold them off?

Kneeling down, she tenderly covered him with her coat. He opened his eyes and attempted to speak, but only tears came.

"Shush, now. This wasn't your fault, Bobby," she said, pressing her fingers to his lips.

Tine couldn't help herself. She put her cheek to his and hugged him, blood and all.

********************

The man using the stolen identity of Louisiana native, Edward Silver, sped down the pothole-ridden road, hastening back to the cabin and to his captive, Clementine Jones. He hadn't a moment to lose. Things were not going as smoothly as he had hoped.

His freshly washed pickup looked authentic to the surroundings, and covered with a layer of ghostly film. The truck's cab was clouded with smoke, too, as he was blowing through a carton of cigarettes one after the other.

How had the authorities pinpointed his location so quickly? Maybe it was just coincidence; but then again, only a fool would think that.

To his right were moss-covered rocks set within a dense forest. To the left, a steep cliff graduated down towards a ravine. Farther on, a field of winter wheat glistened in the sun.

Only a rustic railing kept travelers from the treacherous edge. The maximum speed of 35 mph added to his irritation.

He sighted vultures near the cliffs. Looks as though they are seeking some poor creature for their lunch.

Just below, a cluster of scavenger birds hovered near a wood-hauling truck that had flipped upside down and was lodged in the creek bed.

The kidnapper came upon firewood scattered about the road, and stopped.

"Ah... hell! I don't have time for this!" He shoved the gear in neutral, set the emergency brake, then turned on his flashers. Hurriedly, he placed Ed Silver's registered and loaded .45 in his coat pocket.

Moving quickly, he cleared the firewood with the hope of resuming his travel.

Just as he reached to open the driver's side door, he heard a woman's voice.

"No, it couldn't possibly be her...." He stopped to listen more intently.

Pulling the gun from his coat pocket, he slid it into his waistband as he headed towards the wreck.

********************

The world of forensic science and human DNA has always fascinated me. It has the power to convince, convict, and exonerate.

I remembered a case, back many years ago, of a burglary in Virginia where the female homeowner was raped. They caught the man, and he was convicted and sent to prison. A few years later, he was set free by new DNA evidence that had surfaced, exonerating him.

The man guilty of the rape was finally snared through solid DNA evidence and ultimately imprisoned.

Keeping this in mind, King and I were as careful as we could be--he being a German Shepherd, and I, the blind consultant to Detective Mike Lembowsky.

I hoped we had collected every bit of available evidence in our first day of searching. A rainstorm was expected in Lafayette Township that evening, and everything Clementine Jones had thought to leave behind could be drenched. So far, King and I had found some helpful items with possible DNA matches to the person last seen dining with her.

My psychologist husband, Jackson, was put to good use interviewing witnesses inside the diner. Detective Lembowsky gave us all a great deal of latitude, as we were trained on-site.

The career detective wasted no time with the most critical pieces of evidence. He was on his cell phone and computer most of the afternoon putting a rush on everything. We already had a person of interest in the case and continued to dig deeper into a man who went by the name of Gavin Lovett. I had already perceived some disturbing things about him, logging it in my smartwatch for later.

I felt somehow drawn to this young lady and her family. In that moment, I stopped what I was doing and prayed quietly. Afterwards, I sensed this desperate situation may have selected me, and not the other way around.

King and I came inside for a break at Louie Ray's insistence. The steaming gumbo he served me was so delicious, I decided to request a family-size bowl for our dinner tonight at the governor's residence. I gave him the entire list of takeout and handed him my credit card.

"We've discussed this before. Your money's no good here," said Louie for the hundredth time.

"Okay! But you'll never retire at this rate, my friend."

I heard him smile as he handed my credit card back to me.

*********************

Dinner at the governor's home was set for seven o'clock. I wasn't sure about everyone else, but I was tired to the bone. Pure adrenaline was the only thing driving me forward.

There was nothing hoity-toity about the first family of Louisiana as they greeted us affectionately and put us at ease. As usual, King was the center of attention.

"Welcome, welcome," said Trisha Jones in her sweet accent. The governor was a dog lover and went straight for King, offering a hearty petting.

They wouldn't let us lift a finger as dinner appeared in minutes and we sat around the large kitchen table rather than in the formal dining room. I was glad. I'm more of a kitchen kind of girl. Decaffeinated coffee was brewing, as someone had already told of my addiction.

I got to know Chloe Jones a little bit when she engaged me in conversation.

"Mrs. Law, I think Daisy is in love with King."

"He's so lovable," I bragged. "I actually trained him. Before going blind, I trained dogs like King for the police force in Lafayette Township. Three of them are still serving as detection dogs. King is very special because he is not only my guide dog, he's protective, intuitive, and is an excellent judge of character. Not much gets by him."

"Anytime you need a dog sitter, you just call us, I mean--me," offered Chloe.

"I most certainly will. His kibble bill is outrageous, though. I'll send him with his economy-size bag of chow."

Surprisingly, we didn't speak of Clementine until I savored the last bits of my lemon poke cake. "This cake is just divine. Is this your own recipe?"

Trisha chimed in. "It's Preston's family recipe. We have the handwritten recipe card framed. It's special to us, and evokes such wonderful memories of our holiday gatherings."

Her voice allowed me glimpses into her soul. She was all about family, and held them close. I knew the painful conversation was coming though, just as the rain began to play upon the kitchen windows.

"Any leads or inkling at all to who may have done this to our precious girl?"

Jackson handed me a tissue as he scooted his chair next to me.

Detective Mike spoke reassuringly. "Yes, quite a bit, thanks to my new consultants and King. They were a wrecking crew this afternoon," he bragged. "We are onto a man that assumes multiple identities, and he is a master in his craft. Just to be sure, has Clementine ever mentioned the name of any man to you... anyone at all?"

The question obviously struck a difficult chord.

"We have exhausted the topic, Detective. She's never given us any reason to believe she would entertain a relationship or even agree to a 'meet and greet' without telling us. It's a safety rule we established years ago. She mentioned the dating site to Chloe in passing. But, this casual hook-up sounded like much more from what I've heard. Expensive perfume? Pink roses? Witnesses said they were holding hands!"

Detective Lembowsky reached for his rolling suitcase and pulled out a box of evidence already logged for forensics. He made the Jones's feel a part of the team as they examined the contents of the box. They identified almost everything: Hyundai car key and chain, tube of pink lip gloss, and LSU class ring set with Clementine's birthstone. Except for the floral scarf, everything appeared to belong to her.

I finally chimed in, directing my question to the detective. "What perfume was found at the diner? Wait. Let me guess. I bet it's expensive, and possibly her signature scent. Would it have been 'Flowerbomb?'

"Why, yes it was! The perfume was gift wrapped, and still sitting on the table with the roses when Louie opened this morning."

"Well, my nose never lies and neither does King's. The scarf is heavily scented with 'Flowerbomb' perfume. Perchance, does she have a bottle of this here or at school?"

"Both," the Jones family said in unison.

To be continued....



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