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Day #281: You’ve Got Mail…And Trouble

The Story:

“Ok Chauncey, let’s run through this one more time, and no more lies. I want straight answers, dammit.” The detective slammed his fist on the scarred wooden table dramatically and it took every ounce of self-restraint not to burst out laughing. Poor man, I couldn’t really fault him for being upset, if I were in his poor-fitting loafers I’d be mad as hell too. And if it were me, there wouldn’t be the slightest chance I would believe one word I had just said. This last thought instantly sobered my mood, and I wondered if there was any way of loosening this web I had somehow managed to get tangled up in.

Looking around the interrogation room, I knew my chances of getting out of this unscathed were as likely as my detective friend here suddenly belting out a few bars of a Spice Girls song.

“I’ve got all night, pal,” the detective said, interrupting the amusing image of his imaginary self singing next to Posh and Scary Spice. Man, this guy was really taking a page out of “Interrogations: 101, A Detective’s Guide”. Next he’ll start putting cigarettes out on my forearm. Ok, time to stop screwing around…come on Chauncey, baby, think!

“My apologies detective, should I run it from the top, then? Right. Ok, well, like I told you and the officers before you, I was at work, in my office when I received the message.”

“The email from another ‘time’, you mean?” the detective interrupted me and made silly little quotation marks with his fingers as he said the word ‘time’.

“Yes. That was when I received the email. As I normally do each morning after grabbing a cup of coffee in the break room, I sat down at my desk and started going through my email. That’s when I saw it. It was time stamped as being sent yesterday around 6pm or so and it was from an email account I know to be inactive,” I rubbed the bridge of my nose and tried to remember the exact phrasing of the email. It wasn’t difficult. Then again, it wasn’t every day you received an email from your best friend who you knew to be dead for a year now.

“And you’re sure it wasn’t somehow sent by someone else who had access to the account? Maybe someone playing a practical joke?” the detective almost seemed like he believed me.

“No, impossible. The email account was deleted after his death; I was the one who deleted it, at his wife’s request… Judith was never very good with computers. I know it sounds crazy, but it sounded like Tom. It was an email reply to a message I sent him a year ago, the day he died actually. It had the same writing patterns, made references to things only he and I knew and the same stupid sign off he always used at the end, TTFN,” I couldn’t help but smile at the memory.

“TTFN? What in God’s name is that, some kind of weirdo code or something?” the detective had reverted back to his ‘ball-buster’ persona.

“No, nothing like that. Tom was big into Winnie the Pooh, ever since his days of working at the Magic Kingdom as a teenager. TTFN stands for Ta Ta For Now, it’s something Tigger would say, kind of like saying goodbye in cartoon land,” damn it, Tom, you’re still getting me in fixes and you’re worm food.

“And you want me to believe that this email from your dead friend told you to go to the Wildwood Cemetery and chop down that tree where the remains of little Suzy Day, missing these ten years now, just happened to be buried? Is that really the story you’re sticking to, guy?” the detective was past ‘ball-buster’ and was borderline irate. His right hand twitched and I could feel the tension as he struggled to keep from smashing my face in.

This wasn’t going well, and if I kept telling the truth it was bound to get worse. I couldn’t very well tell him that Tom had replied to an email I sent the day he died from beyond the grave. And to do what? Find a missing girl’s remains, someone I only knew from news headlines and MISSING posters? None of it made sense. Maybe I was crazy.

“I don’t know what else I can tell you, detective. That is the truth, I’m sorry to say,” I felt a growing knot in my lower intestine. Worst case scenario I was going to be charged and tried for the heinous kidnapping and murder of an innocent 10-year-old girl. Best case scenario, I was insane.

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:

ONE:      I received an odd email today at work. It was from our former office assistant, who’s been retired now for almost six months. As I read the email, I was completely mystified. Why had she sent it? Was she still checking her work email account (which I had assumed was disabled once she left) and if so, to what end? And what the heck was she talking about? None of it made sense. After scrolling down, I saw that her email was actually a response to an email sent from my account… one year ago. So was she just now getting to that email? Had it been sent a year late? Was she just tying up loose ends? Did she think that I had sent it yesterday, instead of year ago? Did someone else send it from her account? Or was email becoming the new snail mail? Strangeness abounds.

Love & Squirrels.

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Day #232: The Christmas Killer

The Story:

Fiona looked through the prison bars at the first snow dancing in its decent, reflecting the cheery twinkle lights beyond and heaved a giant sigh. Another Christmas season was here, as if Fiona needed the reminder- it was this time six years ago when her life had jack-knifed off the road of normalcy and left her stranded in this jail cell- deemed a criminal, a murderer. She knew that’s what she was, despite the occasional morning when she would wake up believing for a few precious minutes that she was still in her bed on Green Briar Lane. It had been in that house, on Green Briar Lane, that it had happened.

Fiona had always loved Christmas, the decorating, the baking, the search for the perfect gift. But then, something changed. And the killings began. Fiona still claimed to this day that she cannot recall those early killings, and who knows, maybe she’s telling the truth. The killings were always random- an elderly woman suffocated with her pillow as her husband lay sleeping beside her one week, a college student stabbed outside the campus library two weeks later followed by a prominent pastor found floating face-down in his baptismal the following week. Soon, the media caught wind of the bizarre homicides and almost overnight “The Christmas Killer” was born, so dubbed thanks to the poinsettia found at each of the crime scenes.

The Christmas Killer strikes again...

Over three years passed, and the killings continued- oddly only around the holiday season (lending even more credence to the moniker “Christmas Killer”. Fiona was aware of the headlines and the general details of the story but had no more of a passing interest, until December 24th when her home was swarmed by SWAT and she was suddenly whisked away. It took three days, chipping away at her around the clock for them to break through the mental wall Fiona had built around the truth; but finally they did. In a moment of terrorized clarity, Fiona began to remember. Agreeing to cooperate, she recounted all the bloody details of her killings, each and every one laid out as if it had just happened. In all, Fiona had brought 24 lives to an early end in the span of three years. The only detail not explained in the hours of confession- why had she done it? That Fiona would not reveal, some believed her mind had simply gone or a traumatic event had pushed her over the edge.

A different kind of Christmas killer

The state prosecutor did not need to know the ‘why’ he had enough to lock Fiona and throw away the key- and that is exactly what happened, eventually. Fiona spent the first two years in a high security facility for the criminally insane before being found within her sound mind, at which time she was tried by a jury of her peers and found guilty. Facing a life sentence, Fiona felt a strange calm from incarceration, at least now she couldn’t hurt anyone. That thought, and one other, kept her going day to day, despite the tedious redundancy and loneliness of her reality. The other thought? Knowing she would never have to see another poinsettia for as long as she lived.

56 years later, as they were cleaning out prisoner 556832’s cell, the housekeeping staff came upon a small diary tucked inside the mattress. Taking the item to the warden before moving on to the other cells, housekeeping didn’t give the matter another thought. Leafing through the diary, Warden Dexier found mild interest in some of the writings which were mostly accounts of life inside the prison’s walls before flipping to the last page-

“I always found great amusement in the name I was given by the public, although I hesitate to find anything slightly humorous about the actions that led to it. I suppose it was inevitable, given their need to believe there was some obvious reason I killed the people I did, but they missed the point entirely. It was not me who left those foul weeds after the deed was done, for as anyone who has known me for any amount of time could attest to my absolute hatred of poinsettias. It was, in fact, these toxic plants that marked my victims for me. Poinsettias have long represented death in my mind, first when my beloved pet  Jingles died after consuming the leaves of beastly weed and again at my dear father’s funeral as his  grave was littered with the plant. Despite my abhorrence of the plant, my mother, in yet another example of intuitiveness, forced me to carry a plant to his grave, and, just as I was walking from the church to the car, a stranger stopped me and said, “Strange, I’ve seen so many poinsettias today, I’d swear everyone was going to a funeral”. I suppose something in me just ‘snapped’ years later when I began to see the plants pop up in people’s homes, in store fronts, on TV sets each holiday season. More later, it’s lights out…”

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:

ONE:      Don’t you love walking into a room to find a surprise is waiting for you? That’s how I entered my office this morning where I found a 9” poinsettia sitting on my desk. Well, come to find it’s an early Christmas gift from my boss, along with a very lovely gift certificate, thanking me for ‘all that I do’. Can I tell you how nice it is to work for someone who appreciates and respects the work you do, and then demonstrates that appreciation? It’s nice (there, just told you).

TWO:    So on my way out after work, as I’m waiting for Andy to come pick me up (more car trouble, yay!) an older gentleman sees  the poinsettia I am precariously balancing in my arms, along with my laptop and oversized purse and made the oddest comment (at least to me, maybe someone can shed some light on what he could have meant). He said, “Wow, I’ve seen so many poinsettias today, you’d think there was a funeral”. Wha??? I didn’t get it but gave him the obligatory uncomfortable head nod/chuckle as he continued on his way. Weird.

Love & Squirrels.