Private Voices: Part 23

Updated on February 6, 2020
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Mike is an amateur writer working on building a hopefully compelling story. He lives in The Village of Lakemore, Summit Country, Ohio.

A Note from Me, A Name I Call Myself

Chapter 6, Parts 21, 22, 23, and 24 all happened three years before the start of the story two weeks after Brandon's sudden death on a soccer field.

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.
Three years ago, weeks after the death of her son Brandon, Janice was on the brink of a breakdown when she starts to see visions of her dead son. The visions begin to terrorize her as Brandon changes from a screaming toddler to the twelve-year-old just before he died. A new client with a stalker hires Janice to help her while keeping her private life away from the police.

Part Twenty-Three

Violet said, "I somehow knew he was a professor, but I didn't know he was at my school."

Violet pushed his picture away from her as she held up his arrest records.

She asked, "How can a man with a record this work for a college?"

Her professor watched them from a distance.

When Violet held up the reports, he said, "Because he has tenure, they won't do anything unless he is charged."

Violet said, "This is Professor Aaron Lewis, my Theatre Practicum coach."

Lewis sat down next to Janice, she could smell the not so subtle smell of pot and a different, almost earthy smell.

He said, "Yes, I prefer coach because it sounds so informal compared to a professor or doctor."

Janice made a note in her head about how in just one sentence, Lewis bragged about his stature as a professor and hinted at being a doctor even though he didn't have a Ph.D.

He looked at the papers and said, "It's sad, but I have seen worse. There was a prof up at Tri-C with two domestic abuse convictions."

He looked at Violet, and he almost seemed to enjoy how she reacted to him, saying, "I have seen worse."

He said it like he meant to throw her off balance. Janice didn't like how this man took over her meeting.

Janice said, "Violet, when you are finished with your classes for today, please meet me at my office."

Lewis asked, "Why don't you just finish here where I can help you?"

Instead of answering Janice said, "It was a pleasure to meet you, Professor Lewis."

Lewis stood up and said, "Please, it's coach Lewis, and the pleasure was all mine."

Janice found herself being followed by a couple of campus police as she went from the class to the parking lot. One of the officers had his hand on his gun the entire time they followed her.


About ten feet from her car, one of the officers said, "Mam, I need to see your identification."


Janice turned around to see the one with his hand on his gun now had it out and pointed at the ground in an almost comical two-handed gesture like he was holding the dirt at bay. Janice figured that either Lewis or Harris called to complain about some sort of harassment. She could see this going badly for her if she didn't cooperate.


She said, "I need to open my purse to get that ID, so please don't shoot."


On the word shoot, the officer with his gun out, pointed it at her.


The other officer said, "Turn around and put your hands on your head."


The first officer said, "I am going to search you. Do you have anything on you that you won't want me to find?"

Without waiting for an answer, he started to touch her. It was less of a search and more of a cop copping a feel.

He whispered into her hear, "Bitch, you best be staying away from the coach."


Something felt off about what they were doing. Janice ran through her mind what she saw.

Standing in front of her was the twelve-year-old Brandon.


He said, "The guy with the gun. Think about what you saw."


She rewound the start and realized that when he pulled his gun, she could see the barrel was plugged, and the gun was fake. They weren't police. Knowing this freed her from the threat of jail. She took the hand of the phony cop that was touching her and twisted it at the wrist. Using both hands, she quickly turned his hand until she felt it snap. The guy with the fake gun pointed it at her. Janice, in one motion, pushed the gun away and kicked upward into the man's genitals. He let go of the fake gun and immediately pissed himself as he went to the ground. The first phony cop led with a wild swing of his unbroken hand missing her by about two feet. When he went by, Janice kicked him in the back of the knee-knocking him off balance, causing him to land on the ground. She saw that there was a small group of students nearby recording the attack.

Janice said, "Tell whoever sent you that I don't give up that easy."

She kicked the first fake cop between the legs.


In the car, Brandon said, "I hope they weren't real police."


Janice was in no mood to be lectured by her hallucination. She asked a couple of the students if they would send her a copy of the video they were shooting, and when she got back to her office, she found the video was uploaded to YouTube.

JG said, "Yeah, your kick went viral."


One of the videos had an audience dubbed over the video with the word "GOOOOAL" when she kicked the second fake cop on the ground. Neither of the videos mentioned how the two weren't real police. Sean came in and sat down.


He said, "I sent out some feelers looking for the two fakes."


Sean was a cop for several years, and he knew a fake when he saw one.


Janice said, "You'll find them in the performing arts program, and I am willing to bet that this man sent them."

She opened a book to show a picture of Aaron Lewis.

Sean said, "Back during the first gulf war, we were sent over to Kent to help with security during a large protest led by this man and three other profs."


After getting permission from JG, Janice cut out the pictures of Lewis, Harris, and a professor Dr. Tayeb Ali from the psychology department. She thumbtacked their photos to her board and looked at them.

Brandon said, "One of these things is not like the others."

Janice said, "Doctor Ali is from Saudi Arabia while the other two are straight from a casting call for the average white guy."


JG said, "Oh my god, I was just thinking the same thing."


Brandon looked at JG with that lost puppy dog look he would get any time she was around. Janice wasn't sure it was real, or was her memory playing tricks with her.


JG asked, "Law, acting, and psychology. What do they all have in common?"


Janice checked her records until she found what she was looking for.


She said, "All three went to Duke at the same time."


JG said, "Yes, but it's not like they would have been in the same part of the college or even in the same circle of friends. A Christian, Jew, and a Muslim would have stayed with their own, especially in the south back in the 1970s."


Brandon replied, "Well, something connects them."


JG said, "There must be something in their past that connects them outside of academia."


Janice tapped on the picture of Doctor Ali and said, "Maybe I should go and speak with the good doctor."


On her way-out, Sean stopped her saying, "Babe, I thought you had already left…. Your car…. is gone."

In the parking lot where her Monte Carlo was parked was the remains of a broken window. The car's body would eventually be found in Michigan a month later. It was stripped of all the sellable parts then set on fire. The engine would turn up in a wrecked car in Alabama a year later. Luckily, she had taken her gun out of the trunk before she went into her office. Janice filled out a stolen car report and then rented a car until the insurance company could settle the claim. She went from a classic American muscle car to a 2010 Kia Soul. She got behind the wheel only to remember she had never driven an automatic transmission before. While nice looking for what it was, the Soul felt cheap after her rebuilt monster. She made it about three blocks from the rental agency when she concluded that this would never do for her. The car had to go. Parked in someone's yard was an old Jeep Renegade with a for sale sign.


She paid thirty-five hundred dollars for the Jeep, including a matching hardtop that was in storage. She also gave the owner an extra eighty dollars, so she could drive it without changing the title over yet. She wanted out of the toy car. The Jeep was as different from her Monte Carlo as the Kia Soul was, but at least this one was a stick, and it had power. She drove into Akron to the University only to find the professor's office blocked by police from both the campus and the city. A corner van was outside. A quick slip of cash to an assistant to the medical examiner gave her some information.

He told her, "A suicide from the look of it, but the cops don't think it was suicide. Something about the angle of the rope burn, I don't know I just drive the van."


Janice asked, "Middle Eastern man in his fifties?"


The guy said, "No, a woman, but I don't know her age… she was found by a."


He checked a paper then said, "Doctor Tayeb Ali."


Off in the distance, she saw the Akron police putting a man in the back of a car. He was dark-skinned with an angry look on his face. Across on the other side of the incident was Robert Harris.

Back in her office, Janice said, "Lewis, Ali, and Harris have access to students. Every year many people drop out of school or transfer to other schools, making it easier to hide disappearances."


JG asked, "Yes, but wouldn't people eventually come around searching for their lost children?"


Brandon said, "Not if they had no one who cared about them."


Janice replied to Brandon, "Yes, that would make it easier."


JG asked, "Make what easier?"


Janice nearly said, "What Brandon said," but she remembered that JG couldn't see him.


She said, "We need to check the records for any students that dropped out without warning and just vanished."


JG asked, "I don't see how you are connecting the dots?"


Janice said, "Lewis finds students that could easily go away, and Harris breaks them down using techniques taught to him by Ali. I would imagine all three are doing this, then when they are finished, they do something with the girls."


Brandon said, "Or the bodies."

© 2019 Michael Collins aka Lakemoron

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