This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental
- Dear Ellie - Part 23
Scott Branson is on a path to self-destruction, and Ellie will pay the price
Last time we saw Scott on the tail of David Martin who placed a tracking device on Scott's vehicle.It looks like Martin has something to do with the disappearance of Carrie.
So, Babe, what part do you think Martin plays in this? Do you think he's working for someone, or do you think he's acting on his own?"
"You said you heard some people talking in jail. Apparently, this is not a one-man operation. I think he's working for someone. He's not the main man. Like you said before, he's not smart enough to pull this off - but I have to admit, he did outsmart you at the nursing home. He had you set up the whole time. He made sure you saw him plant the tracker on the car. He made sure he led you to Brownsville for the sole purpose of having you arrested. He was able to pull that off not because he thought of it but because someone else told him what to do."
Scott thought on that before speaking. "So we need to find the head honcho. But how do we do that?"
"By getting Martin to talk, We'll work our way up the food chain until we reach the top. But we'll let Stella know what's going on every step of the way. We get the information, but the police do the work. Agreed? "
Scott remained silent. "Scott! Agreed?" Ellie repeated.
"Yes . . .agreed."
The struggle had been nearly too much. Ellie was tired. The beautiful fall day called for a drive to Pittsburgh's Three Rivers. Nearby the hustle and bustle of the city could be heard. The stadium stood across the way. It would be even busier in the evening. Ellie needed seclusion. She walked the walkway and found a comfortable bench - at least as comfortable as a bench could be.
This day the sound of the lapping waters didn't soothe Ellie. Her mind was in turmoil. She remembered how she and Scott would bring Carrie to the river and walk the walkway. Scott was busy job-hunting, and for the present, Carrie was no more.
She thought about how the beautiful Allegheny and the waters of the Monongahela met to form the Ohio River. The two rivers flowed into one, yet there were three rivers. One for Scott. One for her, and one for Carrie all flowing to create one family. But now, that family was torn. One-third of the family was missing. Even the rivers were complete, but the Branson's were not.
Clouds began to move in from the west. Ellie tried to pray, but no words seemed to express the pain she felt. Clouds were moving into her heart as well. The waters began to swell, as the winds caused the waves to rush shoreward faster and harder The turbulence in her heart was rising along with each crashing wave. She returned home.
She arrived back in West Mifflin moments before the storm hit full-force. As she opened the car door, she saw a strange piece of paper stuffed between the car seats. She began to read. To be delivered to Brownsville: One, blond, blue-eyed toddler, preferably male, two-four years old - 1:00 a.m.; One girl no older than 12 years old, no other details required - 2:30 a.m.; One Hispanic girl 14-16 years old - 4:00 a.m.
It was dated the second Saturday of the month. She pulled up the calendar on her phone. This coming weekend was the second. Three more children would go missing.
Ellie's heart was crushed. Could Scott really be involved? How could she ever know? Would she ever know? Rather than confront Scott with the note, she decided to take it directly to Stella. By the time she turned on Lebanon Road, the rain subsided, and she yanked the car into the parking lot at police headquarters.
A short time later Cal appeared with the results. "Here you go, ladies, and you won't believe it. There are actually two sets of handwriting. You were right. Kevin Larson -and Ethan Alexander."
Stella was stumped. "You mean Alex is mixed up in this, too?"
"All I know is there are two sets of handwriting. You mentioned another note. Do you have it?"
"It should be in the evidence locker. I'll get it if I can get the authorization, and you know who has to authorize it - Larson."
"He's gone for the day. Tell you what, Stel. You ladies go on home. I'll get the note. I'm just not saying how. So you don't know anything about the note, right?"
Stella and Ellie turned to leave. "Right!"
Just as Stella was ready to turn into the Branson's driveway, her cell phone rang. Cal had some good news. "Look, Stel, that other note - it checks out just like the first one you gave me. It's Alexander and Larson. Stel, what's going on?"
"Can't say right now, but thanks, Cal."
She turned to Ellie. Okay, Child. It's Larson and Alexander. I think they planted that note in your car to try to point a finger at Scott. It all makes sense now. When Alex sent his own report to himself, it had to be inconclusive. He would've had to present the note for evidence to the court if it was really written by Scott. But it did cast some suspicion on your hubby. Know what I mean." They're setting up Scott to take the fall for them. We'll have to watch them closer.
"I think they planned for Scott to find the note and lure him to the Nursing Home hopin' to implicate him in some way. Pretty cool - but we got 'em."
Stella called back Cal, "Cal, Hate to bother ya like this, but could ya check for fingerprints?"
An hour and a half later Stella heard back from Cal. "Stel, it's covered with Scott Branson's fingerprints. I have a feeling Alex and Larson are trying to set up Branson." Stella nodded in agreement. "Both notes have Branson's fingerprints but were written by Kevin and Ethan. They probably used two sets of handwriting to try to confuse me in case the notes ever ended up in my lab - which they did. Good work, Stel, but what do we do now?"
"Leave the res' to me, Honey. I'll take it from here."
"Ya lookin' for me, Honey?" Ellie heard a voice call across the lot.
Stella was leaving for the day when she saw Ellie pull in. She knew something was up by Ellie's hurried entrance into the lot. "Wha's up, Honey? You seem in an awful hurry."
"Stella, look at this. Scott's at it again. I found it in the car." She handed the note to Stella.
"Honey, do you recognize the handwriting. Look at it close, Girl. Is it Scott's?"
Embarrassment covered Ellie. "No. It' doesn't look like his, but maybe he's trying to disguise his handwriting so I don't think it's his. Stella . . . "
"Now, Child, calm down. We'll take it to the lab. I's been a slow day. I bet Cal can run it through right now. Le's go."
Cal Worhington sat on a stool in the corner of the lab.
Stella started the conversation. "Child, you look so lonely and bored."
"That's because I am, Stell. Got some work for me?"
"I surely do, Child. Check this handwritin' on this note, and compare it to the writin' on the first note in the Branson case. I'll bet we'll find David Martin written all over it."
"Okay, so you want me to compare this with Martin's sample. I got that, but what's this about the first note."
Stella looked puzzled. The first note - ya know, the one that came back inconclusive. I'm willin' to bet the same person wrote both."
"Stell - there was no first note. What are you talking about? I got the log right here."
"Of course there was. It was delivered to Larson. I seen the envelope come into his office - wait a minute! Cal, you better check Larson's sample. too. Check everybody's sample. This might be an inside job. Let me know what you find out as soon as ya can."
Friday night arrived, and the plans were put into action. Ellie and Scott snuggled in bed until Scott fell asleep. 12:15 was approaching and it was time for Ellie to make her way to the edge of the driveway to wait for Stella. She stirred a bit too quickly, and Scott momentarily awoke. Ellie rubbed his back, and within seconds, he was sound asleep again.
Slowly, and trying to be as quiet as possible, Ellie moved to the bedroom door and turned the knob. She was on her way to Brownsville while Scott slept. She knew her sound sleeper wouldn't awake until morning. But Scott was already awake. Lying still, he waited until he heard the front door close. Then he ran to the bedroom window to see Ellie get into a strange car. Stella was driving her personal vehicle instead of the police cruiser.
Where was she going? And who was she with? Scott's mind began to go in directions he wished it wouldn't, but the questions had to be answered. He jumped into his pants and threw on a sweatshirt while running to the Road Ranger. He managed to stay several blocks behind Stella without being detected. It didn't take long for him to figure out the destination - Brownsville Golden Age Nursing Home.
Still, he was puzzled about who was driving. He stayed close but not too close. His thoughts flashed back to what Ellie said earlier - "We'll work our way up the food chain until we reach the top. But we'll let Stella know what's going on every step of the way. We get the information, but the police do the work. Agreed?"
- Dear Ellie - Part 25
Scott Branson is on a path to self-destruction, and Ellie will pay the price
© 2017 William Kovacic