Murder by the Written Word
The night was damp, dreary and depressing. The eerie silence was interrupted by a sound that reverberated through the moist air imitating a claxon from the depths of hell.
Later that night, a police cruiser, its blinking red and blue lights reflecting like deadly dancing ghosts on closed store windows, steadily maneuvered along the waterlogged; leaf and debris encrusted macadam. Tiffany Armstrong, newest journalist for the Daily Gazette, followed the cruiser in her late model Lexus, distancing herself to avoid detection. She quietly cursed the late autumn night, the thundering tempest and the ridiculous report that had come across the usually uninteresting police scanner. Some obvious busybody, who should have been nice and dry somewhere inside, out of the rain, had heard gunfire from the old Andrews Estate up on the hill.
To Tiffany’s surprise, the cruiser had stopped and blocked the steep drive leading up the hill to the Andrews Estate. Tiffany uttered a few more condemning phrases when she realized that Detective Dale Carter was exiting the vehicle.
"Wouldn’t you just know it would be him!" She thought to herself. Especially after she swore she would never let that man into her life again. He approached her vehicle; the hammering rain pelted the yellow slicker covering his wide shoulders and dripping from his brimmed hat.
“This area is restricted, Tiffany” he said with what she was sure was a snidely smirk, each word punctuated by either a roll of thunder or a lightning bolt.
“You will have to go back.” Tiffany seethed with indignation.
He admonished her again, a hint of impatience and irritability evidenced in his throaty growl, “Back up now Tiffany and exit the entrance!”
“You have it blocked.” Tiffany retorted as she turned her sleek black Lexus into a small road and headed in the opposite direction. However, she was a woman on a mission and was determined to get the story. Deciding she would wait until later, Tiffany hurried home to change into some drier clothes; unwilling to resign herself into being soaked all night.
Once sufficiently comfortable, Tiffany returned to the outskirts of the estate; pulling her car as close to the property wall as she could. Finding the large stump of a recently half chopped tree, she began her ascent. With a prayer and a certain amount of diminutive but determined muscles; she grasped the top of the wall and pulled herself onto and over it, dropping into the slick, slippery mud and landing firmly on her bottom.
“Of all the …” However, before she could finish her sentence and much to her chagrin, she realized that she was in the large Andrews Family cemetery. Tiffany’s plan was to quietly invade the house and listen. Then she saw a man, standing beside one of the larger markers; lightning flashes revealing the blue steel revolver in his hand. Tiffany gasped in disbelief.
“It couldn’t be Dale!” She thought. Then the man turned and the gun was pointed toward her.
“You don’t belong here!” His bass voice resounded with the claps of thunder like an echo of half-forgotten pain. Dale moved closer, the gun pointed like a macabre accusing finger aimed at Tiffany’s heart. Tiffany tried to move away but her feet were mired to her ankles in the gooey, clinging, chilly mud of a freshly dug grave. Tiffany felt herself slowly falling like a leaf in an autumn breeze.
Pulling her backwards, the grave wanted another occupant to share its grief.
Dale’s hand grabbed her wrist like a cruel vise, holding tight with fingers clinched and biting into her tender flesh. He pulled her closer to him. The odor of her perfume permeated his nostrils even in this storm. Tiffany squirmed in a feeble attempt to pry herself from his grip. With his feet planted like the giant oaks surrounding them, holding her with sheer force of will, he pulled her away from danger as he had always done in the past.
Tiffany fell against him, her heart pounding in her chest like jackhammers on concrete. For moments, Dale held her close, magnetically drawn to her irresistible eyes.
“Why did you come back?” His voice a rasp-like whisper in her ear. Tiffany attempted to push away, staggered as under his gaze but remained in his embrace as if the storm had melded them into one. As lightning streaked the sky, his eyes bore into hers like granite daggers. For a moment his smoky eyes opened revealing his innermost thoughts and pulling her deeper in than the mud miring her feet.
High pitched sirens pierced the air, bringing them back to the wet and murky reality of the cemetery. Indistinguishable voices, and flashes of light came across the cemetery grounds. Dale and Tiffany both turned toward the sounds and lights releasing their embrace with reluctance and stepped away from each other.
Tiffany watched as he put the gun in his trench coat pocket, and she asked him, “Why did you come back?”
Looking down at Tiffany, a smile masked his true feelings, he said not a word. The rain was getting harder by the minute; they could feel the static electricity from the lightning raising the hairs on their arms. Tiffany was soaked and shivering. She didn't know if it was from the cold rain, or from being in such close proximity to this man.
“Come on, we’ve got to get out of this cemetery.” Dale grabbed Tiffany by the arm, pulling her along through the wet leaves and mud, forcing her to run to keep up.
To Be Continued ...
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