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Mystery
(Fic)
The Devil's Mansion
by Barry B. Wright


Formerly: 'The Diary' it has evolved into a full length novel filled with action, murder, romance, surprise, and intrigue with lots of twists and turns. "Sounds interesting!"

Chapter 1
Alan

Alan Henderson hated his grandfather. But his grandfather, Sir Reginald van der Helsing, wasn’t the only one he had come to hate. He fired a pebble at a passing bird but missed. An inaudible profanity quietly rumbled beneath his breath. A larger stone was chosen, and he reloaded his slingshot. His eyes followed his next prey. Aim readied, he waited patiently.

The turret in which he stood, an architectural feature of the family estate home, provided a lofty vantage point and unhindered solace...



Chapter Two
The Birthday Party

“Where is that boy?!” growled Sir Reginald van der Helsing, downing his third glass of port.

“Daddy! Don’t you think you’ve had enough?” She waved off the servant who was about to refill his glass. “Your diabetes!”

“Bedamned my…” His eyes scanned the nine unsmiling faces at the table staring at him. “What are you all looking at?!” he grumphed. Bringing to bear a commanding glance upon the servant, his glass was refilled...



Chapter Three
The Visitor

The great cathedral resounded with organ, choir, and sermon. Its scale and splendour had an air of timelessness. Solemnity reined. Except, that is, within Alan, who could barely contain his leaking joy. Each subdued giggling fit was followed by an arm pinch from his mother. His arm was beginning to feel sore. With a sigh and a wry smile, his gaze travelled from the stained-glass windows to the stone masonry to the hammerbeam ceiling. Where most would have found them impressive, its grandness and beauty w...



Chapter Four
Aconitum Genus

Inspector Matthew Bigsley stood in the oversized glazed ceramic foyer gazing into the well illuminated living room. Dark hardwood flooring extended from the foyer to a large Persian rug under the main furniture. The large windows facing him allowed for lots of natural light while the walls appeared to have traces of powder blue and black that stretched to the coffered ceiling. On those walls several impressively sized paintings were hung giving a gallery effect to the room. Furniture was of superior qual...



Chapter Five
Earthquake Prone

The next morning was warm, and the rain overnight began to soak into the air to provide a tinge of uncomfortable humidity. Sunshine danced off water droplets that clung to surrounding foliage enhancing a kaleidoscope of hues on the emerald landscape. Below Matt’s window, the moist roadway still hung onto a darker than usual appearance. Most people walking about carried folded umbrellas and wore lightweight rainwear wary of the clouds and sun square-dancing a do-si-do overhead.

Matt had not sl...



Chapter Six
The Gardener

The pebbled stones crackled under their feet as Susan and Matt walked along the drive toward the gardener’s lodgings at the rear of the mansion. Except for an occasional exchange of pleasantries and smiles, neither spoke.

Distracted by a buzzing sound, Matt stopped. “Do you hear that?”

“It’s my son up to his usual tricks. There!” she pointed behind them. Following them and parallel to the drive was a drone. “Since his Aunt Isobella bought him that ne...



Chapter Seven
Revelations

Susan brusquely exited the room with Alan securely under tow while Matt remained seated somewhat disquieted by what had just happened. The front door opened and slammed shut. The atmosphere in the room was uncomfortably tense, so much so that if he had had a knife, he could have cut through it. Nothing was said.

Susan’s loud, scolding voice tapered off to a thin thread in the distance then finally nothing.

“Would you like your tea refilled?”

Startled, Matt peered up ...



Chapter Eight
Antonio's Restaurant

Antonio’s was a family-owned Italian restaurant with a well-deserved 4-star rating. The atmosphere, both early European in interior design and style of service, was enhanced, but not unexpectedly so, by crisp white tablecloths and silver cutlery sparkling at each table location. Founded by Antonio Fattori and his wife, Maria, the menu displayed a unique flair that proudly shared a story about each dish’s creation over a hundred years of tried-and-true Fattori family recipes. Their son and dau...



Chapter Nine
A Hard Day's Night

Two hours had passed since Antonio and Maria continued their circulation of the other tables. Matt glanced around the room. The patrons had thinned out noticeably. He sipped on a glass of limoncello, described by Antonio as the most beloved Italian liqueur in the world. He peered at Audrey savouring her gelato al cioccolate fondente and wished he had not inhaled his tiramisu. Few words had passed between them after her surprise announcement and during supper. An iciness for whatever reason glazed her man...



Chapter Ten
The Funeral

Four days later, Matt attended the funeral of Philip and Claire Finlay. He positioned himself far enough away so as not to be too obtrusive yet close enough that he could clearly observe the faces and body language of each mourner. Brain fog still lingered since that evening at Antonio’s. He remembered thinking how bad he had felt and swearing never to move his eyeballs again. At least the sawdust mouth and pulsating thud in his head had gone. Only one embarrassing question remained unanswered. How...



Chapter Eleven
Not Gon' Cry

Low-level ozone swirled up and whipped thoroughly about before rushing in through the open driver side window of his speeding vehicle. His nostrils flared with the scent. A fine mist soaked his face and shirt as he sped towards Sir Reginald’s Estate. He made no effort to close the window because, simply put, he did not care. Its cleansing and refreshing effects exhilarated him. The last time he felt this good was in childhood, hopping, carefree, puddle to puddle, in a warm gentle rain. When his car...



Chapter Twelve
Days of Yore Unnoticed

Matt drove through the open gates and along the tree-lined drive toward the late Sir Reginald’s sprawling chateau. The chateau’s exterior was sophisticated and luxurious, magical in how its design and architecture merged; marveled by him in previous visits, today, his mind focused elsewhere. Normally, he slowed down upon passing the tennis court and guest house to allow his imagination to fly to another era when society’s giants plied their athletic prowess and stayed the occasional nig...



Chapter Thirteen
The Treehouse

The multi-purposed, board and batten cladded treehouse was one-of-a-kind, in the sky, structure. Matt estimated it to be at least 3-storeys off the ground. It literally looked liked a miniature house with a cedar-shingled roof, wood framed glass sliding windows, both an inner door and outer screen door, and wraparound deck. Attached to the west side of the deck was a slide while on the opposite side was a rock-climbing wall. All of this was connected to a platform on a neighboring tree by means of a carg...



Chapter Fourteen
Up In Smoke

Alan pushed by his mom and Matt and slithered down the rope ladder to join his Aunt Isobella. When his aunt turned and walked away, Alan defiantly flicked Matt the bird before running after her.

A wall of silence dropped between Matt and Susan as they faced each other. The screen door slapped rhythmically in the breeze against the treehouse’s siding. He felt a sudden uptick in the breeze against his skin, a signal of its intent, as it grabbed the opened screen portal and slammed it shut. The...



Chapter Fifteen
A Family Misunderstanding?

The air was pregnant with sirens, scorching heat, and bellowing smoke. Hungry flames ravished the board and batten treehouse and cargo bridge while its tentacles reached skyward to the branches of their supporting trees. Matt felt the searing heat of the inferno against his skin and stepped well back. He was pleased to see that Sergeant Gupta and two other constables had dropped the inadequate garden hose used to contain the fire and had moved along a perimeter a safe distance away, too.

“Wh...



Chapter Sixteen
The Folder

“Do you think the body is that Dale fella?” asked Captain Gupta, holding his hand over his nose to smother the smell.

Matt shrugged. “Pretty badly burnt whoever it is. Are you sure you didn’t see anyone else in this vicinity with Dale?”

“Like I said we…”

“You and the others were too busy trying to put out the fire.” He made a clicking sound with his tongue. “My guess, based on the timing and the degree of damage to the body, ...



Chapter Seventeen
The Cardboard Box

Matt scrambled along the hall to the front staircase and down to the foyer. It took him a few moments to find Sergeant Gupta, who was standing just inside the entrance to the living room talking to another constable. Many of the people who had been retained and interviewed before Sir Reginald’s funeral had left to carry on with their daily lives while family and sundry others who had taken up residence were either scattered about the house or outside wandering the sprawling estate.

“By ...



Chapter Eighteen
Jaguar, Ghost and Revelation

Archibald Hendley’s dead fisheyes stared back at him. His throat had been slit. On the floor beside him was a blood-stained knife. Without moving further into the kitchen, Matt’s gaze slowly scanned the room. Where the hell are Susan and her son? He thought. And Constable Curtiss? He pulled out his cell phone and made a call.

“Bill?”

“Is that you Matt? I’m already on-site with my team, bud.”

“I know,” he sighed. &ld...



Chapter Nineteen
Out of Nowhere

Matt felt emotionally drained when he drove through the open gates and along the drive to the front of Sir Reginald’s mansion and parked. Peterson came out and waited for him at the entrance. Matt mustered up a smile, nodded to him and began to exit his vehicle when his phone vibrated in his pocket. It was Audrey. He hesitated. Drawing in a deep breath, he accepted her call. For a moment he said nothing until he heard her voice.

“Matt?!” A brief silence invaded each breath she too...



Chapter Twenty
There Is No Try

Matt was ahead of Philip Forsythe and William Peterson when he arrived on the second floor. The first door, Alan’s bedroom, did not have a constable present. An unease swept over him. Not waiting for the others, he picked up his pace. The hallway curved into a long, straight corridor with several doors on either side. Constable Rowntree stood outside one of them which Matt knew was Susan’s bedroom. “Where’s Constable Smythe?” he called out. “He was to remain outside th...



Chapter Twenty-One
The Birth Certificate

Susan’s demeanor was anything but welcoming as she turned and walked across the room to close the bedroom doors. Matt could tell she had been crying as he quietly closed the door behind him. To his left was a large circular glass table with six chairs equally spaced around it. In the middle of the table was an empty flower vase and beside it was a cardboard box. The large room he and Philip stood in exuded elegance yet retained an inviting ambience at the same time. The living and sleeping areas we...



Chapter Twenty-Two
Hunting Mousse

If Susan could have spit bullets at that very moment she would have, and they would have all been aimed at Matt. But the accusation took the air out of her sails. “You’ve really done your homework.” She stubbed out her cigarette in the ashtray and took a quick glance at the bedroom door. Her hand had developed a slight tremor and her disposition had transitioned to someone who was clearly uncomfortable. “No one ever questioned it until now. I was careful to ensure it stayed hidden...



Chapter Twenty-Three
Bought Time

Philip stepped out of the room and into the hallway, closing the door behind him. Scrolling down the list of phone numbers on his cell he finally came to Louise Jenkins. Her number rang several times before she finally picked up. “Good afternoon, Philip.” His feelings for her contained nuances and complications he preferred not to examine but hearing her voice lifted his spirits. To convey the intent of his call being of an official nature, he began it, “Judge Jenkins, I need your assis...



Chapter Twenty-Four
The Architects

Matt had just stepped onto the tiled foyer when his cellphone vibrated in his pocket. He pulled it out and saw that it was a text from Audrey. The frenzied rush in the main hall was something he did not expect, and he stepped to one side; pressing against the wall he scanned the throng for Sergeant Gupta. Seeing him, he called out: “Sanjay! Over here.” Sanjay tap-danced an intricate choreography through the labyrinth of people until he stood opposite him. “What in blazes is going on?&rd...



Chapter Twenty-Five
Ordo Templis Orientalis

“Are you familiar with the name Baphomet?” Philip asked Matt, flinging the last of the hanging clothes from the closet rod onto the bed.

“Does it have anything to do with that pentagram?” Matt pointed to the back wall of the closet.

Philip thought for a moment and then shrugged.

“In a way, yes!” Susan shouted from the other room. “Would you uncuff me from this damn chair so I can join you!”

Matt glanced at Philip. Any trust he once h...



Chapter Twenty-Six
'Bang About Day'

“Follow me with two other constables! I’ll explain later.” Matt’s beleaguered command galvanized Sergeant Gupta and the two constables closest to him into action. The echo from Susan’s hurried tread on the stone-concrete and the erratic splashes of light from her flashlight against the ceiling, and walls of the passageway were Matt’s only signposts as he sliced through the darkness. Abruptly, the Doppler effect from her trek diminished dramatically and the light disapp...



Chapter Twenty-Seven
Code Breaking

Turning off their flashlights so as not to be easy targets, Matt, Sergeant Gupta, and Constable Spencer Sutcliffe slipped through the opening. They had no sooner entered than the stone-wall-door behind them slammed shut.

“That was unexpected,” complained Matt. “Is that likely to cause a problem for the others?”

“Not likely,” whispered Spencer. “Unless…”

“Unless what?” Matt asked, not hiding his sudden concern.

“Un...



Chapter Twenty-Eight
666

The three had formed a cramped circle around the constables. Sergeant Gupta, who had been a medical doctor in India before he and his family immigrated, carefully checked them out.

The long narrow hallway which faced him was fully lit with a closed door at the end and a camera above it.

“Are they alright, Sanjay?” Matt asked Sergeant Gupta, his gaze shifting between him and the unconscious constables. He could hear the approach of distant voices filtering through the inky dark cor...



Chapter Twenty-Nine
Into the Jaws

“It worked!” Unable to contain himself, Spencer pumped his fist high into the air and, without thinking, began to step forward when Matt pulled him back sharply. “Wha…”

Matt glanced up at him and nodded toward the camera above the door. “Take your gun butt and smash it!”

Glass and electronic paraphernalia rained down.

Matt brushed himself off and peered back at Sergeant Gupta. “How are they doing, Sanjay?”

“They’re c...



Chapter Thirty
Locus Classicus

Matt opened his eyes and tried to focus. Several minutes passed until his sight regained its clarity. Bound hand and foot, he struggled to peer around his space. It was then he realized Spencer was missing and an uneasiness settled over him.

The room was large, pentagonal-shaped, and made of red brick unlike the grey stone in the corridors he had travelled along. At the highest point of the vaulted ceiling was a large pentagram with a lighted lantern hanging from its centre. The room resembled a t...



Chapter Thirty-One
Mired in a Nightmare

Matt had no idea how long he had been unconscious or how he had got here. The room he was in was where he had started, namely Susan’s bedroom. In the nightmarish cage he had been locked in he had witnessed the cutting of Spencer’s throat. Just to make a point! And he had heard and seen that point loud and clear. Follow the plan they had laid out or else he would never see Audrey alive again.

His heart was pounding when he opened his eyes. Perspiration formed rivulets ...



Chapter Thirty-Two
Caduceus Revelation

“Glad to see you’re back safe and sound,” Sergeant Gupta said.

Matt pushed aside the Sergeant’s penlight. “What were you doing with that blasted penlight of yours, checking to see if I’m dead?” he asked with a chuckle. “Give me a hand.”

Two of the constables helped him to his feet but Matt’s apparent weakness obliged them to continue to lend their support. He was surprised by how rubber legged he felt, and he walked a few steps then ...



Chapter Thirty-Three
Rumors, Scuttlebutt, and Innuendo

Matt could tell that Bertie wasn’t comfortable about opening-up with Mark Dale still within earshot of their conversation. Feeling his discomfort, Matt said, “Would you mind, Mark, sitting over there in the chair by the window.”

“Why?” replied Mark belligerently.

Matt said nothing but just stared at him long and hard. The battle of wills favored him. Slowly Mark relented and, dragging his feet, he made his way to the designated location and sat down.

Mark&r...



Chapter Thirty-Four
Spinning Wheel

The words spoken by Captain Gupta vibrated such sour and flat notes that they wrangled away any remnant of internal peace Matt may have hoped to retain. Words that not only rustled up mind-numbing mixed and confused emotions but, like a dagger, stabbed into the very heart that defined who he had become. For the first time, he did not feel in command and, for a moment, a sense of the unfamiliar—helplessness—washed through him. He knew what he had seen and heard. Any words he might have said to...



Chapter Thirty-Five
Questions Unanswered

Deputy Commissioner, Philip Forsythe, sauntered across the room to the location where Matt and Bertie stood, nodded, then turned his attention to the workmen removing the broken pane. He did not speak as his attention appeared more focused on the repair work underway than any new knowledge he might have gleaned from the interrogation of Mark Dale. At least so it appeared to Matt and Bertie. Several minutes passed before Philip turned to them and broke his silence.

“Well? Was it fruitful?&rdqu...



Chapter Thirty-Six
A Disconcerting Thought

Matt was pleased that Linsdale, a pleasant little town with a population edging fifteen hundred and nestled between two emerald-green hills, was no more than twenty minutes away from Sir Reginald’s estate.

He was looking forward to some out-of-work time with Bertie and Bill. But he knew as he drove along the back country road, he would be unable to lift his mind away from the bizarre revelations of the last twelve hours. And if prior history was any indication, he expected conversation would ...



Chapter Thirty-Seven
Three Muskateers

The pub was what Matt expected. Wall to wall people. He had no idea where Bertie and Bill were located. The booth next to the entrance where they usually sat was occupied by strangers. Now, after his long walk and confab with Antonio, he was a man in search of a drink. Normally on occasions like this he would have ordered a full pint but tonight he thought otherwise and decided to only buy a half-pint. Anyway, he knew he had to remain sharp for his return to Antonio’s later that evening. When he re...



Chapter Thirty-Eight
An Unpleasant Arrival

Matt made his way back along the side streets and alleyways to Agnes Street. He had the eery distinct feeling that he was being followed. Peering at his watch, he inconspicuously glanced back. Nothing obvious appeared to be out of the ordinary. He couldn’t explain his feeling. And he certainly wasn’t going to put it down to some pseudoscientific explanation like extrasensory perception. Yet experience told him life was full of contradictions. It wasn’t the first time his so-called &ldqu...



Thirty-Nine
Spiacente

The cobwebs that filled Matt’s head tried to untangle what had happened but ran interference with the bowling ball alley that kept pushing strikes. Opening his eyes through the pain only sent him on the edge of a spinning wheel watching the room go round and round and making his stomach want to heave up what little was there. He wanted to stand but hands with gentle persuasion held him in place. “Spiacente, sorry” whispered a consoling voice close to his ear. Then, something cold was pr...



Chapter Forty
The Dueling Begins

Matt heard the curtains being drawn across Antonio’s large front window, but most attention grabbing for him was the multiple nee-naw sounds of sirens piercing the evening air. He glanced at Susan. But his gaze was met by her jaw-dropping expression and eyes focused on some distant location behind him. The demeanor of the others seated at the table had also transitioned. Some showed surprise like Susan, while thoughts of the others were not so easily discernible. He turned to follow her anguished l...



Chapter Forty-One
Going Home

“You’re playing a very dangerous game, Inspector Bigsley,” said the man sitting behind him. “Maybe you don’t fully understand the import of this meeting.”

Matt felt the gaze of the large lug sitting beside him and restrained himself from turning around for fear of being wacked on the head again. “Oh, I understand. But first, assure me that Audrey is safe. Once done, you and I can get on with making some hard decisions.”

The ringtone that attract...



Chapter Forty-Two
An Unexpected Announcement

Night fell into morning. Words wrapped in enigma that still had to be explained were put aside for another more suitable occasion. Asleep beside him, all sense of time lost, Matt watched Audrey. She was the sunshine against the thundering claps and heavy rain outside their bedroom window. He lay still, barely breathing, so as not to disturb her sleep. His gaze took in every contour of her face and naked body under the sheet. The soft whisper of the vital rhythmic motion of her chest was rewarding music t...



Chapter Forty-Three
The Peelings of an Onion

Matt entered the police station and headed toward the stairwell to the upper offices when he heard his name called out. Still in a daze from this morning’s announcement, he pretended not to hear. He needed time to wrap his mind around his approaching fatherhood. Emotions rumbled through him like a yoyo that trembled through a cycle from elation to doldrums. He chastised himself for his stupid remark when Audrey told him. Congratulations. That’s all I could muster up? I never even hugged h...



Chapter Forty-Four
Turning Points

“I’m glad to see you could make it.” Philip’s piercing eyes seared through Matt like a red-hot poker.

Ten minutes late for the meeting, Philip’s remark stung. But Matt had no intention of letting him know that. Nor did he have any intention of letting him gain leverage over him. “There are other ways to look at this,” he said, “and they start with asking ‘Why?’ Or do you prefer ‘you can please some of the people some of the time…bu...



Chapter Forty-Five
Hard Decisions

Shortly after Judge Jenkins arrived, Bill, Matt, and Bertie were politely requested to wait outside the office. Once the door was closed behind them, Philip pulled out his cell from the inside pocket of his jacket, turned it off and placed it on his desk. “I assume you heard everything Matt said?” He adjusted his position on his chair.

“Smart idea,” she acknowledged, nodding toward his phone. “And yes, I heard.” Sitting in one of the three smooth burgundy leather...



Chapter Forty-Six
An Unexpected Rendezvous

Speechless, Matt continued to gaze at the emptiness on his desktop. If death had seized him and dragged him away at that very moment he would have gone willingly, though, in afterthought, not without reservation. Looming fatherhood rooted him in more commonsensical aspirations. Nevertheless, he was crushed by the very thought that someone could so blatantly stroll into his office, remove evidence, and saunter out. He quietly chastised himself for not putting it under lock and key. The loud breathing from...



Chapter Forty-Seven
Missing Pages

“What do you remember about the Bahn-Kart Corporation other than Stoffer and Hendley?” Judge Jenkins asked Matt.

“How do you know—”

“I was listening in to your conversation with Philip,” she interjected. “We don’t have much time. I’m particularly interested in the Board members.”

“They were included among the documents but quite honestly my focus was Stoffer and Hendley. What’s this all about?”

&ld...



Chapter Forty-Eight
The Expanding Crimson Circle

Matt looked up at the living room window atop the four-storey apartment building where he and Audrey lived. The lights were on, and he could make out movement in the room. Briefly, he thought he discerned more than one outline but with a quick blink of his eyes dismissed it. Strange, he thought glancing at his watch. It was 10 p.m. Normally, she would be tucked away in bed by this time. Though he was exhausted, he felt a sense of relief to know that she was still awake. He needed to tal...



Chapter Forty-Nine
The Valise

Galvanized into action, Matt immediately pulled Audrey to the floor and used his body to shield her. “Don’t move,” he barked. The spitting sound of another bullet came through the window and slammed into the floor close to his head. “Geez! That’s a little too close for comfort! Wriggle toward the hallway! Go now!”

“Make up your mind!” she scolded, frantically maneuvering across the floor toward the passageway.

A bullet tore through the wingchair...



Chapter Fifty
Matt's Commitment

“To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle,” declared Matt, round shouldered, and sitting on the edge of the bed only in his underwear.

“That’s an Orwell quote if I remember correctly,” replied Audrey, sliding across the bed wearing her panties and Bristol City sweatshirt to massage his shoulders.

“Orwell sure knew what he was talking about.” His shoulders moved with the rhythm of her fingers digging in. “Boy! That fe...



Chapter Fifty-One
Breakfast at La Cuoco

Bertie and Bill agreed to join Matt for breakfast at the La Cuoco Hotel restaurant. The three had located themselves at a corner table far enough away from earshot and peering eyes of arriving customers. Service was slow and for the most part they had the restaurant to themselves, a situation more likely due to the off-putting morning hour of 6:30 than anything else. Earlier the waitress had laid down a flask of hot coffee and a mug for each of them then disappeared.

“Thank goodness for litt...



Chapter Fifty-Two
When a Door Closes

“Barry R. U. Smart is the forensic specialist who is conducting the investigation into the Bahn-Kart Corporation.”

Bertie choked on his beer. “You’re pulling my leg,” he stammered, half laughing while attempting to recover from the liquid going down the wrong way. “Who would saddle him with a name like that?” Bertie coughed out.

“I would guess his parents,” replied Bill, astonished by the question.

“Any idea what the initials m...



Chapter Fifty-Three
Maxim Abakumov

The Grand Emperor Hotel was composed of 105-rooms and constructed from five fully renovated interconnected Victorian era buildings. The exterior of this inimitable hotel and residence projected timeless elegance while its interior complemented it with its magnificent architecture which was set precisely in perfect harmony. Palatial in design, the hotel had joined forces with a Michelin-rated restaurant for the luxury traveller.

Gobsmacked, Matt stood transfixed in the Grand’s lobby gazing aro...



Chapter Fifty-Four
Doctor Irene Hollicott

A very unpleasant bongo beat reverberated off the walls inside his head like a series of explosions making his attempt to stand anything but a pleasurable ordeal. “Foutu,” Matt screamed, falling against the dumpster for support. Queasy, disoriented, with an acid taste of rising vomit, he struggled to remain standing and tightened his grip on the dumpster. The cold air splashed against his sweaty brow, and he gulped it in, but its distasteful, putrid smell caused him to gag, and his stomach&rs...



Chapter Fifty-Five
A Deflection and A Concern

When Bill, Bertie, and Audrey entered his hospital room, Matt was already dressed and was in the process of lacing up his shoes.

“Oy!” exclaimed Bertie, “Now, where do you think you’re going? Your nurse told us you were staying over night.”

Matt stopped what he was doing and glanced up at him. “I need to find that doctor.”

“What doctor?” Audrey asked, concerned, and peering at the other two.

“The one that was just in her...



Chapter Fifty-Six
Nadia Price

Big Jake was not her daddy. How she came to know and believe was through an act of providence. It was a cleansing knowledge that washed through her like a torrential rain after a lengthy period of harsh drought.

When the limousine drove away, she flipped the bird in an emphatic angry gesture before turning and stomping off in the opposite direction in search of a taxi.

As she treaded along the walkway, her mind drifted into a surrealistic cocoon and like a projector it reeled out her arriva...



Chapter Fifty-Seven
The Game Is On

Time pushed forward relentlessly! Some officers mingled in small groups while others attempted to work at their desks. But, nevertheless, every person in the room would declare before the night was finished, that they had heard the seconds on the wall clock being marked off. 

Tap! Tap! First one then the other end of Matt’s pen thumped against his desk as his fingers rotated his pen like a Ferris wheel. Normally, this continuous tapping would have annoyed him, but his mind was preoccupie...



Chapter Fifty-Eight
A Lapse in Judgement

The night stretched endless as time marched sluggishly forward. No word had yet come in from the operations underway, and the potency of that silence tore morsels from the souls of both Matt and Bill. In its wake was left a restless, almost sickening, abandonment that stirred an ill-tasting brew. The men and women fulfilling their duty were family to them. A special friendship linked through respect and joy and nurtured within a common creed: ‘to serve and protect the community.’

Matt&...



Chapter Fifty-Nine
Hard Decisions, Hornet's Nest, Nadia Price

The night’s inherent complexities weaved together its interconnected events, each contributing to the gestalt that defined the ongoing police operations. In Matt’s mind, the night had a pulpability to it because he felt it had somehow turned into an angry and hungry tiger about to ravish its prey. He knew what he felt wasn’t real but nevertheless he felt it. And it scared him. Frantic was an emotion rarely if ever experienced by Matt. Yet there was a foreboding about it. It was as if he...



Chapter Sixty
Timely Revelations

A half hour later, anxiety and frustration levels heightened, Matt stood outside Conference Room A. He hated not being in control and with Audrey and his unborn son still upper most in his mind he felt his focus was diminished. Yet he knew that a lot depended on him getting answers that would breathe new life into his investigation. He glanced at his wristwatch and then at Bill.

“I hope your diversion works,” Matt said. “You seem to have a lot of faith in Corporal Tubman.

Bi...



Chapter Sixty-One
The Jig is Up!

Nadia placed the half-empty 500-ml plastic bottle on the table in front of her. “Thank you.”

Matt nodded and sat back in his chair. In front of him was a closed file with several sheathes of paper in it and beside it was a ball-point pen. Bill had not yet joined him in the interrogation room. He watched her eyes scan the room until they finally settled on him. He heard what her eyes said to him; a tale he had often heard before. Namely, “I come with a very violent and very pricey ...



Chapter Sixty-Two
Pass Interference

Judge Jenkins escorted her client out of the interview room and slammed the door shut behind her. For several moments, neither Bill nor Matt spoke. Finally, Bill broke the silence.

“She sure tore a strip off us. I can still feel her tread marks,” Bill chuckled.

Matt smiled, flicked his eyebrows, and nodded with a cocky twist to his head.  “It doesn’t hurt too badly, now, does it?” He playfully poked his tongue into his cheek. 

“I gu...



Chapter Sixty-Three
Introspection and Reluctant Commitment

Carefully, Matt, Bill and Sergeant Gupta lifted Constable Jimmy Gleick off the floor and carried him into Matt’s office where they plunked him onto the couch.

Audrey glared at Matt as she applied ice, wrapped in a hand towel, to the side of the constable’s head.  “Geez! You really wacked him! You’ll be lucky if he doesn’t have a concussion!”

“Sweetheart I didn’t…mean…” Matt turned to Sergeant Gupta. “Check the damn CCTV cam...



Chapter Sixty-Four
Reflections in the Calm before the Storm

The sunrise was a thin salmon-colored ribbon across the horizon as the morning darkness begrudgingly began to pull back its veil. The cacophony of chattering birds in busied and frenzied flights that heralded the beginning of a new day went unnoticed by Matt and Bill who crossed the parking lot. It would still be a good hour before the morning shift arrived. 

On route from the office to the parking lot, Matt discussed with Bill his rationale behind the urgency to return to Sir Reginald’s...




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