by Graham Powell
she said, "I need your help."
.......Her name was Helen Rhinehart.
She sat on the very edge of her seat like a bird on a perch.
Her navy blue dress matched her shoes and the handbag she kept
clutched in her lap. No jewelry; just a plain gold band on her
left ring finger. She spoke so softly I had to strain to hear.
......."You understand that this is very hard for me. It's my husband, Steven. He's well he hasn't been home in four days. I'm just so frightened there, all alone" Her voice trailed off and a look of profound sadness fell over her face. I noticed the tears welling in her eyes just as they brimmed over, falling down her face in long, straight streaks.
.......I came around from behind
my desk and offered her my handkerchief. While she regained her
composure I pulled over another chair and sat down beside her.
"I'm sorry," she said. "The truth is I can't even
bring myself to be afraid. I'm just so certain something has
happened to him, something terrible." She sighed and wiped
......."Helen may I call you Helen?" She nodded. "Just tell me what happened. I'll do the rest."
.......She sniffled and said,
"It was four days ago." Last Thursday. "I'd just
come home from the store when Steven called. He said that he'd
be working late, he had a meeting with a client or something,
and I shouldn't wait dinner for him. He often laughed about keeping
'doctor's hours', but usually it was someone calling from jail."
......."Jail?" I said.
"What does your husband do?"
......."He's an attorney,"
she said. "A criminal defense lawyer."
......."I see," I said,
scribbling on my pad. "When did you hear from him
.......She gestured helplessly.
"I didn't," she said. "He didn't come home that
night. That's not really unusual; sometimes he stays with his
clients until after the arraignment. I didn't start worrying
until the next morning. When I didn't hear from him I called
the office, but they said he hadn't been in." Tears welled
in her eyes again. "Then the bank called."
......."There was a problem?"
.......She lowered her head in
reply. "The checkbook said we had plenty of money,"
she said quietly. "Thousands. It was all gone. I tried our
credits cards. They were all over the limit. By then I was frantic.
I called the police, but they hardly seemed interested. They
said, 'Be patient, we'll do our best, he'll probably turn up
in a couple of days'"
.......She looked up desperately.
"Well, it's been a couple of days, and he's still
missing! I couldn't think of anything except finding him."
.......She stopped, caught her
breath. "That's why I'm here."
......II set aside my notepad.
"Helen, there's a possibility that your husband disappeared
voluntarily. He may have taken the money himself. Have you thought
about what you'll say to him? What you'll do?"
......."I just want to know,"
she said. "I don't want to worry any more."
I said. "I'll need your credit card information, bank accounts,
that sort of thing. I'll need access to his office. And I'll
need a recent picture."
......."That's no problem,"
she said. She wiped her eyes again and smiled. "Thank you
so much, Mr. Ross."
.......I smiled back. "Please,
call me Thomas."
.......Technology is wonderful. Half an hour after Helen left I was pulling Rhinehart's credit card and bank statements and his last ten checks out of the fax machine. The credit cards were unremarkable, lunches and a few small purchases. I started on the checks. Bills, groceries, a donation to the YMCA and a check for $2,600 to Elaine Boudreaux. The memo read "Professional services."
.......The police had been looking
for him for the better part of a week. I decided to see if they'd
turned up anything.
.......Jerry answered his phone
on the ninth ring. "Squad room, Detective Roberts speaking."
I said. "It's Thomas Ross. Got any free time this afternoon?"
.......He sighed. "I'm buried,
Tom. I've got a stack of reports to finish, then I've gotta go
see the DA to prep for trial tomorrow. I'll have to work straight
......."Lunch is on me,"
I said, laughing. "How 'bout Theo's?"
......."Bring it on, boss,"
.......Shreveport is not a great
dinner town, but if you want lunch, it's the place to be. Theo's
is one of the best in the business district, a diner that's been
around longer than dirt. A lot of Louisiana history was decided
over breakfast in places like Theo's. Even now, more deals are
cut there than anyone admits.
.......The only deal I was looking
for today was their plate lunch: roast beef and potatoes with
brown gravy, a salad, and a big glass of iced tea. Every time
I ate at Theo's, my health insurance went up. They bagged up
two specials for me, and I headed to the station.
.......Jerry was pecking away
at a typewriter when I arrived. He was still the same, weary,
rumpled, hair going gray or just going. But he smiled and said,
"Slow service. No tip."
......."You get what you
pay for. Hungry?"
he said, reaching for his plate.
......."Not yet," I
said. "First, a little quid pro quo."
......."I should have known.
What do you need?"
......."You've got a missing
person report on a guy named Steven Rhinehart. I'm sure you gave
it your best effort, but I'm hoping you turned up something anyway."
said. "Steven Rhinehart? I'll check on it."
.......A few minutes later he
was back with two manila folders and a frown. "Here's your
boy," he said.
I pointed at the other folder. "Who's his friend?"
said, digging into his lunch.
.......While he ate I flipped
through Rhinehart's folder. I shouldn't have bothered. It had
taken the police four days to find out he wasn't in the hospital,
the jail, or the morgue.
.......When Jerry finished eating
he held up the other folder. "This is what we call a hot
button," he said. "Carlton Schiller. Ever heard of
......."Should I have?"
.......He waved the folder. "This
is his life story. Depressing reading for a working stiff like
me. He comes from old money. His family owned the land South
Highlands was built on. Schiller didn't want for much growing
up. He was spoiled, and a little wild to boot. He had a few arrests
for possession, disturbing the peace, stuff like that. Nothing
serious, and his dad had enough pull to get him off. After high
school he bounced around college for a while. Got busted for
possession again, put on probation. He was in his third year
at Tulane when his dad died."
......."So?" I asked.
......."So," he said
wearily, "He came home, cleaned up his act, and became the
businessman his father always wanted him to be. But he didn't
go into the family business. He runs coke, a lot of it. He's
the biggest distributor in the city."
.......I leaned back thoughtfully.
"All very interesting," I said. "But how does
he tie in with Rhinehart?"
......."Rhinehart is Schiller's
legal bodyguard. Anything that can reach his client, he stops
cold. He'll defend anyone who can drop Schiller's name."
.......I stood up. "That's
good to know, Jerry," I said. "You've earned a bonus.
I'll buy you a beer sometime."
.......He called to me as I reached
the door. "Tom, I don't want to tell you how to do your
job, but be careful. Please."
.......There was one E. Boudreaux
listed in the phone book. The address was The Riverside Apartments
down by Veteran's Park. It was big, new, and very, very nice.
Four buildings formed a crescent around a man-made lake, complete
.......I climbed up to the second
floor. All the doors opened on the courtyard; the windows would
face the water. I rang the bell on number 214 and gazed down
idly at the parking lot. My Oldsmobile looked embarrassed among
the upscale imports.
.......The door opened and a
voice said, "Yes?"
.......My eyes met hers; that
was the first surprise. I'm six foot two, and she was no more
than two or three inches shorter. The second surprise was in
the eyes themselves, soft pools. Only then did I notice that
she wore only a short robe, belted at the waist.
.......She saw me looking and
pulled it tighter. "Can I help you?" she said.
......."How do you do?"
I said. "My name is Thomas Ross. I'm a private detective
and I'd like to speak with you, if you have a few minutes."
.......She looked me over. "Regarding?"
.......Her eyes narrowed. "What
.......I just smiled and waited.
She looked me over, opened her mouth to speak, then pushed the
door wide and turned away. "You win," she said. "I
guess I've got a few minutes."
.......Beyond the door was a
living room, with a small kitchen visible to the left. There
wasn't much furniture, but the apartment was crowded. It was
absolutely crammed with junk. Every available horizontal space
had a miniature cottage or a porcelain cat or a creaky old music
box. The walls were lined with photographs. A ceramic gnome peered
out from behind a fern. "Are you some kind of collector?"
.......She smiled back over her
shoulder. "I guess you could say that."
.......Beyond the living room
was a short hallway. To the right was a bedroom, the bed unmade.
To the left was a closed door, presumably to another bedroom.
Straight ahead was the bathroom. An impressive dressing table
filled one corner, topped with a large mirror ringed with lights.
She sat on a stool and started sorting through her makeup. She
wasn't in a hurry to start talking.
.......There was no place for
me to sit except the toilet. I leaned against the door instead.
"How long have you been seeing Steven?" I asked.
......."Steve's just a friend,"
she said. "I've known him since college, but we never went
said. I started down the hall for the closed door. "Mind
if I look around?"
......."Wait!" I leaned
back against the door and waited. "Steve and I have been
seeing each other for about six months. You know that or you
wouldn't be here."
......."Does his wife know?"
.......She selected a bottle
of mascara. "I suppose she must have some idea. Steve never
talked about her much. I still don't understand why he married
......."You and Steven met
in college?" I said.
......."Yes, down at Tulane.
He was so different then. Different and a lot more fun. I guess
when he moved back to Shreveport he decided to grow up."
.......She smiled. "Well,"
she said. "A man wants to enjoy himself once in a while.
Have you met his wife?"
......."Yeah," I said.
......."Then you know what
.......I had no reply.
.......She picked out a bottle
and began brushing on lavender eye shadow. "What's this
all about anyway?" she asked. "Why are you here?"
.......I looked around again.
"This is a pretty nice place. How much does it run per month?"
.......Her eyes flashed. "That's
none of your business!" she said. "Anyway, I work.
As a model. It's not much but it pays the bills." She glared
at me in the mirror, then went back to her makeup. "I'd
appreciate it if you could leave my name out of this."
......."Out of what?"
I said. "Look, I'm just trying to find out where Steve is.
Have you seen him recently?"
.......She shook her head. "Not
for a few days."
......."Last Thursday he
told his wife he had to meet a client. Was that you?"
.......She hesitated. "No,"
she said. "That wasn't me." She wouldn't meet my eyes.
......."Come on," I
said. "I know he gave you some money last week. What for?"
.......She fingered her little
bottles of rouge and perfume and base. "We were going away,"
she said. "We were going down to New Orleans for the weekend.
He said he would take off early on Friday, make some excuse to
his wife. I made all the arrangements. Nothing was in his name."
......."He never showed
up? You never heard from him?" She shook her head. "Okay,"
I said. I pulled a card from my pocket and laid it on the table.
"If you think of anything else, please give me a call."
I turned to go.
said. "What's going on? Is Steve in some kind of trouble?"
I said. "No one's seen him since Thursday." She opened
her mouth, but nothing came out. "I'll call you if I hear
anything," I said.
.......As I turned away I saw
her pick up my card.
.......Elaine Boudreaux was getting
ready to go somewhere. I decided to tag along.
.......There was a small parking
lot in the median of the parkway with exits to both the north-
and south-bound sides. I pulled around to where I could see her
driveway and settled down to wait.
It wasn't long. I'd expected a Mercedes or a BMW, but instead
she pulled out in a battered old Alfa Romeo convertible - red,
of course. She turned north, towards downtown, moving at a brisk
pace. I threw my Olds into gear and followed.
.......She drove with style and
verve, pushing the speed limit, veering into openings not large
enough for a bicycle. Angry honks she answered with a smile and
a friendly wave. A jaywalker scrambled for the sidewalk as she
.......At Grimmett Drive she
turned left, zipping over to North Market. This was an industrial
part of town, full of little machine shops, garages, and pawnbrokers.
I had no idea where she was headed unless she was leaving town
.......But after only a few blocks
she slashed across two lanes of traffic and turned into the parking
lot of an old warehouse. I continued past, then made a U-turn
and eased up to the entrance. After chasing her across town my
hands were knotted around the steering wheel, so I was happy
to get off the street.
The warehouse was little more than a huge shed, rusting sheets
of tin hung from a steel frame. A row of windows provided light
and ventilation. Elaine's car was parked at the side next to
a blue Corvette. I pulled alongside the other cars and got out.
.......To my right was a loading
dock, with a door set into the wall next to it. At the other
end of the parking lot was a dumpster, with nothing beyond but
a chain link fence.
.......There was no one in sight,
but it wasn't hard to figure out where she'd gone. I walked down
to the dumpster and climbed on top. The window above was clotted
with grime. I rubbed it clean and peered inside.
.......It looked like the Hollywood
rummage sale. Racks of old costumes, a painted backdrop, odds
and ends of furniture, a chaise lounge with an old rug heaped
on it. There was a flash of light to my left. I pressed my cheek
against the window for a better view.
.......The scene was surreal.
In one corner of the warehouse, floodlights illuminated the interior
of a Colorado cabin. Rough-hewn walls, a raw pine table, even
a big bearskin rug. The "windows" looked out onto a
snowy forest. Someone was speaking. Figures moved. There was
a bright flash of light. More conversation, a woman's voice.
I realized someone was lying on the bearskin rug. She sat up-
And there she was, stark, staring nude.
.......I chuckled and jumped
to the ground, ears burning. I'd learned more than I wanted to
know about Elaine Boudreaux, but I was no closer to finding Steven
.......Carlton Schiller was the
palest man I'd ever seen, and white was the theme of his
office. The white marble floor was covered with a vast expanse
of cream-colored carpet. Schiller himself wore a white shirt,
white suit, and white patent leather shoes. Only his tie added
any color, a pale blue. His chrome-and-glass desk reflected and
magnified the glare.
.......They say the eyes are
the windows to the soul, but where Elaine's eyes had been deep
and eloquent, Schiller's eyes were hard little bits of flint,
shields against the world. They matched the rest of him; the
.......Schiller looked me over
once, then smiled and stood up behind his desk. He was whip-thin,
but when he shook my hand, it felt more like steel cable. "Have
a chair, won't you?" he said cordially. I thanked him and
we sat down.
......."We don't get many
private detectives around here," he said. "What can
I do for you?"
.......This was no time to be
coy. "Steven Rhinehart has disappeared, and his wife has
hired me to find him. He told her he had to meet a client, and
he never came home. Was it you he was meeting with?"
.......He shook his head. "No,
I haven't seen him in some time, and then only socially. I take
it you knew we were friends?"
......."I'd heard as much,"
I said. "I understand you also had a business relationship.
He defended you in court several times?"
said Schiller. "A trumped-up charge he had dismissed."
......."And he defended
some of your employees?" I prodded.
.......He leaned forward slowly.
"Mr. Ross," he said. "I'd prefer not to discuss
the details of my business with Mr. Rhinehart. That's why I hired
an attorney of his discretion in the first place. Let's move
on, if you don't mind." He smiled. It didn't reassure me.
I said. "Have you seen him recently? Socially, I mean?"
Schiller nodded. "Did he seem different? Troubled? Did he
say anything that might lead you to believe something was bothering
.......He laughed. "I can
see you don't know Steve," he said. "He was never troubled.
He was a badass, a stud. Total self-confidence. He knew what
he wanted and he went and got it."
......."And he wanted...?"
.......He shrugged. "Success.
Money. Thousand dollar suits. Golf on Fridays. Women." He
saw my look, and nodded. "Steve's not a saint, I'm afraid.
His motto is 'Variety is the spice of life.'"
......."I see. I have reason
to believe he was deeply involved with another woman. Do you
think he'd give up his marriage?"
......."I'm not sure I know
what you mean," he said with another cool smile.
......."He'd been giving
this woman money," I said. "I think he got her a place
at the Riverside Apartments. He was probably staying there quite
a bit himself."
.......Schiller stared at me,
jaw working silently. A flush crept into his cheeks. I thought
he was going to say something, but instead he leaned back and
slowly turned his chair to stare out the window. "Riverside
Apartments?" he said. "Number 214?"
.......Well, hell. "You
know Miss Boudreaux?" I said.
......."Yes. We were all
friends at school," he said. "Friends for life. Did
you ever have friends like that?"
......."I'm not sure what
you mean, Mr. Schiller," I said.
......."We were friends,
Mr. Ross," he said. "Steve, Elaine, myself. We did
everything together. Steve and I both loved Elaine, I guess,
but we never asked her to choose between us. So we were just
friends. I guess things change." He turned to face me. The
mask was back in place.
.......He glanced at the clock
on his desk. "I'm afraid I must say goodbye now, Mr. Ross,"
he said. He pressed a button on his desk. "I've got a rather
......."Just a few more
......."I'm afraid not."
His looked over my shoulder and said, "Billy, please show
Mr. Ross the door."
.......I hadn't heard him come
in. A thick hand closed on my shoulder and nearly lifted me from
the chair. "Let's go," said Billy.
.......Billy was big. He stood
an inch or two taller than I did, and he didn't miss too many
meals. He had the broad shoulders of a farm boy and the smirk
of a twelve year old bully.
I shook off the hand and got up. "Let's go," he said
......."Hold on, Billy Bob,"
I said. "I'm not through."
.......Billy shoved me again.
Clearly, I was through after all. As I headed for the door I
looked Billy in the eye and said, "Fuck you, fatass."
.......The next thing I knew,
I was face down on the carpet with Billy's knee digging a hole
in my back. I tried to flip him off, but he was too big, too
heavy. "Billy," said Schiller calmly. "That's
enough." The bulldozer climbed off my back. I rolled over
and sat up. Billy was grinning stupidly, his hand out to help
me up. I slapped it aside and got to my feet.
......."Sorry, Mr. Ross,"
said Schiller. "In my business, I have to employ people
who aren't, well, delicate." It was nothing he did, nothing
he said, but the man wore menace like cologne.
......."Have a nice day,"
.......The next morning I went
down to Rhinehart's office for a look around. His staff bustled
quietly, seemingly oblivious to the boss' absence.
.......His private office was
a case study in depersonalized efficiency. The only clue to the
occupant's identity was the name on his diploma. Bland corporate
fixtures dominated, right down to the artwork on the walls.
.......Rhinehart's case files
showed the same lack of personality. He was a mechanic, a technician,
finding every flaw in the prosecution's case, never resorting
to dramatics. Most of his cases never reached the jury. Hostile
witnesses tended to change their stories under cross-examination;
Schiller's money and muscle definitely improved his winning percentage.
.......His bottom desk drawer
didn't yield to any of the keys that Helen Rhinehart had given
me, so I forced it open. It contained a roll of money, a small
caliber revolver, and a plastic bag of white powder. It could
have been a lot of things, but I knew it wasn't. Cocaine.
.......I got back to my office
just before five. The phone rang as I opened the door. I grabbed
it and said, "Hello? Hello?"
......."Mr. Ross? This is
.......I hung my jacket on the
doorknob and sat down. "Yes, Miss Boudreaux. What can I
do for you?"
"Well, it's about yesterday," she said. "I'm afraid
I wasn't completely honest with you."
......."Well, I didn't completely
believe you, so I guess we're even."
......."It's very important
that I talk to you," she said quickly. "Can you come
over to my place? Right away?"
......."Sure. I'm leaving
.......Rush-hour traffic held
me up for half an hour. It was getting dark by the time I reached
her apartment. I had my hand raised to knock on her door when
I noticed it wasn't latched. I nudged it open with my foot.
.......She lay on the floor beside
a dozen red roses. A dark blotch just below her breast marred
her evening gown. I knelt for a closer look. Two puncture wounds.
Not much blood.
.......I pulled out my gun and
slipped quietly through the living room. Nothing. Her bedroom
was empty; same for the bathroom.
.......The door at the end of
the hall was closed. I crept forward, nerves twitching. There
was no sound anywhere in the apartment.
.......Someone had moved out
in a hurry. Wire hangers were scattered about the closet floor.
Dresser drawers stood open. I checked them anyway. Empty.
.......There was a picture frame
face down next to the bedside table. I held my breath and gingerly
lifted a corner. The glass was smashed, the picture gone. One
of the shards gleamed redly.
.......I went looking for the
phone and found an answering machine instead, its light blinking
insistently. I pressed Play. It told me all I needed to know.
I stuck the tape in my pocket and headed downtown.
.......Billy was just getting
out of his car when I passed in front of Schiller's building.
I drove around the corner and parked, then eased back as quietly
as I could.
.......He fumbled with his keys
at the foyer door. I grabbed him by the hair and mashed his face
against the glass, and screwed my gun into the back of his neck.
"Good to see you again, Billy," I whispered.
The lights were on in Schiller's office. I kicked the door open,
shoved Billy towards a chair. "Hello, Schiller."
.......He was cool as ever. "Put
the gun away, Ross."
......."You're not surprised
to see me?"
.......He shrugged. "I'd
have to deal with you sooner or later. No time like the present."
......."Pick up the phone,"
I said. "Dial 911."
......."Let's talk, Ross.
What do you want?"
.......My fingers tightened around
the gun. "Nothing you can give me. You're going to jail,
......."Put that thing away
and sit down," he said. "You're safe in my office,
and even if you weren't, that gun wouldn't help you."
.......He had a point. I stuck
the gun in my coat pocket and sat down. "A love triangle.
A bit old fashioned, eh?"
......."It wasn't supposed
to be that way. A little loyalty, a little respect, and she'd
be home painting her nails."
......."Well, she's not.
And your buddy's not around to get you off this time." I
pointed to the phone.."Pick
......."I'm not going to
jail," he said, eyes cold. "You need to accept that
if you want to go on living. Now come on, you're a businessman.
Let's do business."
.......I looked over at Billy,
grinning stupidly over by the wall, then back to Schiller. I
licked my lips. "The cops will want a killer."
......."You have someone
.......I ticked off points on
my hand. "Someone was seen in the area. Someone left evidence
all over the apartment. Hell, he even cut himself. Someone is
too stupid to get rid of the murder weapon."
.......Billy was wheezing, his
eyes wide and staring. "Come on, Carl," he said. "This
.......Schiller didn't look at
him. "What am I buying?"
......."There's a tape,"
I said. "You called her this afternoon, told her to get
ready to go out. I know where it is."
.......The blue eyes behind the
desk shifted to Billy and back to me. "Why?" he said.
......."A bird in the hand,"
I said. "Come on, Schiller. You need me. You're a criminal.
The cops won't just take your word for something like this."
.......Schiller slowly turned
to look at Billy. "Since you put it that way"
.......Billy flicked his wrist
and I was looking at four inches of razor-sharp steel. He lunged
forward with a roar. I jumped up and kicked the chair away, fumbling
for my gun.
.......Schiller was faster than
either of us. I never saw him move, but before Billy could take
a step he shot him three times with a long barreled Colt .22.
Billy gasped, swayed as blood leaked out of his chest. He stumbled
and Schiller shot him again. Billy fell heavily and slid to the
floor. He sighed peacefully and lay still.
.......Schiller turned towards
me, the gun still in his hand. "You bastard," I said.
"You already had your gun out. You were going to kill him
.......He laid the gun on his
desk and picked up the phone. "Some business advice,"
he said. "Never buy what you can get for free." And
there was nothing in those baby blues at all.
.......I went out to see Helen
Rhinehart two days later. Her house - their house - turned out
to be a modest bungalow out by the lake. "Oh, hello, Mr.
Ross," she said as she opened the door. "I was hoping
I'd hear from you today."
......."May I come in?"
......."Oh, please do. Would
you like some tea?"
.......I said that I would, and
she left me in the den.
.......It was a comfortable room,
cozy even, with a pair of overstuffed chairs and a well-worn
sofa. A thick rug covered the hardwood floor. The windows were
large and bright, giving the room an open, airy feel. Mrs. Rhinehart
returned with the tea, and we sat down to drink it.
.......I took a few sips, then
carefully set my teacup on the coffee table. "I've almost
finished my final report."
.......She tried to smile. It
wasn't pretty. "My husband's dead, isn't he?"
......."Yes," I replied.
......."That man - Schiller
- had him killed? Over a woman?"
......."I wish it were that
simple, Mrs. Rhinehart," I said. "Schiller didn't know
your husband was seeing Elaine Boudreaux until I told him. Four
days after your husband was killed." I looked at her, not
hard, but steady. "Isn't that right?"
......."I don't know what
......."Helen," I said.
"Just tell me what happened."
......."Well" she said,
"I..." She buried her face in her hands. Sobs racked
.......I let her go on for half
a minute before I got up and walked to the window.
.......It was a glorious day
outside. The lake was as still as I'd ever seen it. If not for
a fleet of ducks sculling towards shore I could have believed
it was a photograph. Behind the house, the land sloped away gently.
A dock jutted out into the water. "When was it?" I
......."It was last Thursday.
Steven came home late from work, as usual. I'd had dinner waiting
for an hour. While I was getting the food out of the oven he
said he had to go to New Orleans for the weekend. For business.
He was lying, and I told him so." Her voice shook. "He
looked up, stared at me. Told me not to talk back. I said I didn't
have to take this and I wouldn't anymore. His face got redder
and redder. Then he slapped me."
.......She choked back a sob.
"I didn't know how to react. He'd never struck me before.
I just stood there. He smiled and slapped me again. Then he sat
down and started eating. I went and got his gun and shot him
in the back."
......."He didn't even make
a sound," she said, "He just slumped over. When I realized
what I'd done I panicked. I dragged his body down to the lake
and hid it under the dock. Then I put everything away, and pretended
he was just out of town."
.......I turned and looked at
her. Tragedy had lent her a special beauty.
......."Why did you bring
me into it?" I said. She gestured aimlessly. I grabbed her
arm and said, "Two more people are dead, and I want to know
.......Tears rolled down her
face again. "Those people Once he was kind. He cared. Then
they took him away from me. They killed him inside. They deserved
what they got. The wages of sin are death."
I said. "Judge not lest ye be judged."
.......I walked out the front
door and headed around the side of the house and down to the
shoreline. I sat down on the grass and pulled off my shoes and
socks. The water was cold.
.......A week under the dock
hadn't done Rhinehart much good. He'd been good looking before
the fish got to him. His eyes were wide open, surprised. I slipped
a hand inside his collar and hauled him out from between the
.......As I pulled him up on
the grass I heard a sound from the house. A chill went through
me, and again I heard Helen's voice saying I put everything
.......I dropped Rhinehart's
body and raced up the slope, the pulse in my head pounding out
too late, too late, too late.
Copyright (c) 2001 by Graham Powell.
Graham Powell is a lifelong resident of Shreveport, Louisiana, where many of his stories are set. He was hooked on the Hardy Boys at an early age and has been a mystery fan ever since. Currently his favorite authors include George P. Pelecanos and Bill Pronzini.
In addition to writing and a full time job as a computer engineer, Graham runs Bleeker Books, a cyber store specializing in books by writers of classic noir like Charles Williams and Fredric Brown, in addition to more recent authors. In his free time he likes playing with his two children.
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