Mike is an amateur writer working on building a hopefully compelling story. He lives in The Village of Lakemore, Summit Country, Ohio.
The Story So Far
Janice James is a Private Detective haunted by her troubled past and the death of her son and a fractured psyche, forcing her to see her son Brandon as well as others. With the help of her late son and her mentor, a former police officer named Sean, she runs her service, helping people in trouble.
After a ceremony to honor their late son, Janice and her ex-husband Bill prepare to live together again. Janice's assistant, a young woman, named Jennifer Gordon, known as JG, while happy to see them together now must find a way to work around the new awkwardness. Janice's brother-in-law Mike and his son Scott come for a quick visit before taking a long trip. Janice's estranged father sent a letter hoping to put their past behind them before he died.
Janice was hired to help a man named Stanley Franco find out why his wife Ava is fighting a divorce. During the investigation, she stumbled onto a unique counterfeiting scheme designed to infect scanning machines allowing the user access to a company's funds. When her client was murdered, Janice turned her case over to the local police. She contacted someone from the secret service with help from her mentor, a former police officer named Sean. In the process, she found herself being watched by the FBI and Ava, a woman that isn't who she appears to be. Ava wants Janice dead for her part in chasing her out of the States, to her Island near Cuba. Ava sent several people to try and kill Janice from her assassin lover to a band of bumbling thugs. The last attempt happened by a con artist running a scheme with an end of the world cult. Terrence Stamps' effort to have Janice killed was forted by an unknown strange.
- Private Voices: Part 17
Bill and his brother Mike argue over Janice's father's letter and what it contains.
Yara sat in a hot tub connected to the pool, watching the sunrise. She likes to spend this time in quiet contemplation while Ava sleeps. She watches the people prepare for the day. The downstairs maids cleaning the floors, dusting and cleaning Ava’s sex toys. Yara thought how by tonight, at least one of these women would be on the receiving end of one of Ava’s toys. On a corner of the house just outside of the camera’s view, Yara saw Hector on his knees praying. If Ava had seen him, she would either mock him or kill him. Yara knew that he was praying for a lost cause. He had too much blood on his hands to ever be forgiven. Yara wasn’t sure if she still believed or not. Her faith in God seemed like a different life she left a long time ago. She looked down into the water at her chest. As she did, she thought about her sister Izabel. From the age of sixteen, she worked the carnival wearing just a G-string, pasties with tassels, and pink iridescent wings. Izabel’s double-D’s seemed to defy gravity as she shook and shimmied during the festivals. She did this and was still a virgin. Yara’s sister Alanza was on her way to becoming a teacher, and her brother Estevo was a minor league baseball player working his way to the majors.
One of the downstairs maids came over to Yara and asked, “May I help you with anything?”
Yara seemed to awake as she moved to the other side of the hot tub, so she could face the maid. She couldn’t remember the girl’s name, and she was a girl about the same age as Yara herself.
Yara said, “Well, I can think of a lot of ways you could help me…but only if you want too.”
The other maids had stopped when the girl walked over to the tub. They knew better than to approach Yara. The maid seemed indecisive until a sort of steel seemed to form in her eyes and posture. She stripped off her maid’s uniform to reveal a body that could have been a carbon copy of Yara. She stepped down into the water, and Yara came over to her. The maid stiffened then she kissed Yara on the lips. The kiss shook Yara with its unabashed innocence. As the two continued kissing and other things, Yara thought to herself, “This is a good way to start a day.”
Janice found her way to her office by nine in the morning to find JG waiting for her. She still had visible bruises on her face and arms. JG could see the look of concern on Janice’s face, but she went back to work, trying to say “let it go” without saying the words.
When Janice didn’t move, JG said, “I hate clichés, but sometimes they can be right. I need to be here if only to prove she doesn’t get to win.”
JG handed her an open envelope and said, “Mister Pooter sent a check, but as usual, he didn’t sign it. Will that cheapskate ever pay what he owes?”
Janice looked at the check and said, “The divorce was harsh, and it cost him a lot. He blames me for showing him the truth, and he is a cheap bastard.”
Janice went to call the past client about his balance and unsigned check when she saw she had an email from her website. A few years ago, she had a site built for her service. When an interested party wants to talk business, they send a request through the site, and she gets an email. A quick search of the name proved this was a real person, so she called back.
An hour later, an older man walked into the office. He had to be in his seventies, but he still walked straight and with purpose. He told JG his name was Lu Louyang, but he insisted she called him Uncle Lu. Before he could ask about the bruises, Janice came in and introduced herself and led him into the office. He was born in Hong Kong, but he had moved to America at the age of sixteen to find a different life from the one his family wanted for him.
He said, “They owned a series of laundries back there, and I didn’t want to wash clothes for the rest of my life.”
He started his business washing cars by hand until he could find backers and build his first car wash.
He said, “That was sixty-nine years ago, and my business is doing well.”
Janice added up the numbers to arrive at the age of eighty-five.
He said, “My son went to school, and he is a doctor in Seattle, but his son came to go to school here in Kent. He works with me in the business to help pay for his school. John is a good grandson, but I think he is mixed up in something that could hurt his future.”
John Louyang was in his second year at Kent state working on a business degree with a minor in accounting. He was five-foot-five with straight black hair and black rim glasses. Janice made a note that he was pencil thin and dressed like a hipster in blue jeans with a blue sweater over a blue button-down shirt with the tails showing under the sweater. It was a hot day making his outfit impractical. As a student, he would spend most of his time in air-conditioned classes and an air-conditioned library. He had a group of what seemed to be likeminded friends that all dressed just like him. In fact, it almost looked like a uniform. Janice followed him from class to class then to the Library. There he went into a women’s studies section and pulled a book, but he then put the book back. Janice sat there and watched the book. A few minutes later and a teenage girl with a nose ring, dressed like she was auditioning for a punk rock revival with leather and a dog collar went to the book. She took something from it and left.
Janice watched him for the rest of the day, doing these dead drops. He never took anything for what he was planting, so John didn’t handle the money. On what ended up being his last drop, Janice waited for him to leave and went to the book. Inside was a small paper envelope with six tablets with the code for Adderall on them. Adderall was used for Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. The drug is also popular as a recreational drug and is considered as addictive as cocaine. People call it a smart drug because it is believed to focus the mind. It was an open secret that Adderall overdoses were on the rise and killing on almost every college campus across the country. Janice put the pills back and watched to see who took them. To her surprise, a security guard went to the book and took the pills. Janice knew she only had one part of the story.
She asked herself, “Who has the money? Who is supplying the drugs? What is with the matching outfits?”
She also wondered how she could tell Uncle Lu about what she knew.
The Next Part
- Private Voices: Part 19
Janice confronts her new client only to find out the story isn't what she thought.
© 2019 Michael Collins aka Lakemoron