The End of Pain

Continuation of Polygamy from last month.  This was also written as my answer to the Hint Fiction for this month.

**

Elsewhere, perhaps hundreds of miles away or, perhaps much less than that, Seth was barely clinging to life.  Seth’s energy paths are blocked to his spleen and stomach and large intestine. The acupuncturist places the needles in his tiny body. Seth sees Jesus.

His body wasn’t found until the next day.  Chris got the call almost the moment he stepped into his office.  He heaved a sigh as he stepped over to his desk.  “Larabee,” he said, his voice soft.  He pinched the bridge of his nose as the caller explained the situation.  He nodded, glancing towards Ezra, as he said, “We’ll be right there.”

Ezra was already on his feet and getting his bag ready.  “Good morning, Mr. Larabee,” he said, as he shouldered his bag.  “Where are we off to?”

“Same park as where the other bodies were found,” he said.  He pointed back towards the elevator as Vin and Buck rounded the corner.  “We’ve got another body,” he announced.

“Is it a good idea to bring the bookworm?” Buck asked, casting a quick glance at Ezra.  “He gets a bit spacey away from his computer.”

“That’s the training,” Vin said, shrugging.

Nodding, Ezra hurried ahead of them down the corridor.  “I’m not going to become accustomed to being surrounded by patterns by hiding in the office, Buck,” he said.  He pressed the elevator button and then turned to Chris.  “The others?”

“Nathan’s in the lab, seeing what he can dig up,” Chris said, shaking his head.  As the elevator chimed and the doors opened, he added, “JD’s looking at Ms. Carter’s computer and Josiah is having a chat with Mr. Carter.”

“Is it safe to leave him alone with that creeper?” Vin asked, stepping onto the elevator.  “I mean… I know that I’m mighty glad that y’all were in the other room while I was interrogating him.  His eyes kept going vacant.”

“He was watching me,” Ezra said, shrugging.

Buck rolled his eyes.  “There’s no way he could even see you, Ez,” he said, shaking his head.  “The one-way glass looks like a mirror, so long as the other side is dark.”

“You weren’t there, Buck,” Chris said, he shook his head.  “He watched Ezra the whole time, until I told him to keep his eyes forward.”  He looked over at Vin and added, “As for Josiah: he can handle himself.  Don’t worry about that.”  He cast a glance towards Ezra and then shrugged at Vin.

“I’m perfectly capable of looking after my own self as well,” Ezra said, rolling his eyes.  As they reached the basement, the group headed for the car.  They needed to get to the crime scene to confirm whether or not it was actually connected to their case.

 

Upstairs, Josiah was sitting in the interrogation room, staring at Carter.  Josiah hadn’t said more than two words since Carter arrived.  After inviting Carter to sit, he hadn’t spoken.  He’d only stared.  Finally, when Carter was nearly at the end of his patience, Josiah said, “How did you now that Ezra was here?”

Carter smiled and then shrugged.  “I’ve kept my eyes on the boy,” he said, his voice low.  “He’s the first one to make me a grandfather.  I wonder how Maude feels about being a grandmother.”  He chuckled and shook his head.  “She’d argue that she’s not old enough.”

“You aren’t a grandfather, Mr. Carter,” Josiah pointed out.  He shook his head.  “Maude Standish was with you for just six months.  She never married you.”

When Carter started to speak, Josiah stood and moved towards the door.  “Someone is killing your wives and their children,” he said.  He glanced back at Carter, meeting his gaze steadily.  “I think you know who that someone is.”  Carter scowled, then and Josiah added, “Unless you’d like to lose the chance to ever be a grandfather, I would tell me.”

Carter continued to glare at Josiah without speaking.  Josiah nodded slightly, then he opened the door.  “I’ll leave you consider the matter, Mr. Carter,” he said.  He strode out of the room, closing the door quite deliberately.  He’d come back when Carter was feeling more talkative.

He headed to the laboratory where he wasn’t very surprised to find Nathan bent over his work.  “Why is this our case?” he asked, his voice soft.  “Is it because of Carter’s connection to Ezra?”

“You ask me that like you think I know why the judge does anything he does,” Nathan said.  He looked back over his shoulder at Josiah and shook his head.  “I don’t.  It could be that.  It might have something to do with Ezra’s father.”

“Montgomery?”

Nathan nodded.  “Someone from one of those families wouldn’t just… adopt the child of their new wife,” he said.  He shook his head.  “There’s a reason he let Ezra use his name.  He’s got to be a member of one of the families.”

Josiah frowned at Nathan for a few moments.  “He knows how Montgomery died,” he said, his voice soft.  “He’s never shared any of the details with me, but… he knows.  The thought of it terrifies him.”

“They’d terrify any sane person,” Nathan said.  He frowned slightly and looked down at the papers that were spread out in front of him.  “Maybe that’s why Carter is so creepy.  Maybe he’s from one of the families too.”

“Odd coincidence, Maude ending up with two different men from the families,” Josiah said, scowling.  When Nathan shook his head, he arched an eyebrow.  “Not odd at all?”

“They tend to attract each other,” Nathan said, his voice soft.  He stood.  “We need to talk to Carter about this.  It may just be enough to finally rattle his cage and get him talking.”

“This isn’t their work,” Josiah said, as he followed Nathan out of the room.  He shook his head.  “Ezra would have said something about that.  He didn’t.”  However, he had to wonder if the case wasn’t related somehow to the whole mess.

“Carter knows more than he’s said,” Nathan countered.  “Whether this is the Singers or not, mentioning them will get him to talk.”

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Polygamy

This story was inspired by the Hint Fiction Challenge for the month of July.  It’s not complete yet, technically speaking.  However, this “scene” is complete.

**

Carter stared into the distance as he spoke.  “Then, there was Samantha,” he said, his tone turning wistful.  “I miss her more than the others.”

Ezra frowned at the man’s words.  “Just how many others were there?” Chris asked, his voice as soft as it usually was.  When the man didn’t answer, Chris slammed a fist down on the table.  His voice cracked as he spoke again.  “How many?”

“There were five, all told,” Carter said.  His gaze drifted to the mirror in the interview room.  Ezra had the creepy feeling that the man was looking directly at him, even though he knew that was impossible.  Carter couldn’t even see him.  “I met Maude in New Orleans,” he said.  “She had a little boy.”

Vin set a hand on Ezra’s shoulder.  “All right, pard?” he asked, his voice low.  When Ezra nodded, he said, “Thinking?”

Ezra nodded again.  “She’s not dead,” he said.  He spun away from the mirror and met Vin’s gaze.  “He’s not the one we’re looking for, Vin.  He didn’t kill any of the victims that we’ve found so far.”

For a moment, Ezra thought Vin might argue.  However, he didn’t.  Instead, he only nodded and patted Ezra on the shoulder.  He strode out of the room and Ezra waited, his heart in his chest.  A moment later, there was a knock on the door of the interview room.

Chris spun to face the mirror and his brows twitched.  Then, he stood and moved to the door.  He opened it and Ezra saw Vin lean in to whisper something into his ear.  There was shrugging and nodding and glaring from both men, although most of the glares came from Chris.

Finally, Chris heaved a sigh and looked at Carter.  “What was the boy’s name?” he asked, his voice full of frustration and anger.  Carter made a curious sound and Chris growled.  “Maude’s little boy,” he said.  “What was his name?”

“Ezra,” Carter said, blinking slowly.  “I’ll never forget it.  It was an odd name – an old name.”  Carter’s brows furrowed.  “It’s Biblical, did you know?”

“It means helper,” Ezra said at the same time as Carter did.  He shivered slightly and then glanced over his shoulder at Josiah.  “I remember him,” he said, shaking his head.  “My mother married him – one of her five husbands – but she left him only a few months later.  I never knew why.”

“Montgomery?”

“The name of the last husband she had before I reached majority,” Ezra said shrugging.  “He adopted me, so, legally speaking, I’m Ezra Montgomery.  Even after they divorced, he kept in touch with me… until he died anyway.”

“Which was why you kept his name,” Josiah said, nodding understanding.  He stood and frowned.  “Oddly coincidental, Carter having five wives and your ma having five husbands.”

A smile touched Ezra’s lips and he nodded.  “The major difference is, of course, that Carter had all five of his wives at the same time and my mother’s husbands were sequential.”  He turned back to the window.  “That man’s no murderer.  He didn’t kill his wives or their children.  He’s simply a serial polygamist.”

“How do you know?”

Ezra looked over at Chris.  He hadn’t even noticed that the other man had left the interview room, let alone that he’d entered the side room where he’d been watching.  “He’d only had two wives when he married my mother,” he said, his voice soft.  “My mother still lives, as do I…” he trailed off and shrugged.

“So, we’re looking for someone else,” Chris said, nodding.  His brows furrowed and he looked into the room where Carter was sitting with Vin.  The man’s gaze was still fixed on Ezra.  It was unnerving for him to stare at something he couldn’t possible see.  “Who would have a reason to kill Carter’s wives and step-children?”

“One of the other wives?” Ezra suggested, shrugging.  “One of the children?  One of their birth fathers?”  He paused for a moment and glanced towards the man in the other room.  Carter had always unnerved him.  “Someone who hates Carter for a reason of their own?  None of the above?  All of the above?”

“Carter’s staying in custody,” Chris said.  He frowned and shook his head.  “There’s something about him that doesn’t sit right with me.”

Ezra paced across the room, towards the door.  Carter’s gaze followed him unfailingly.  “Something about him has never sat right with me,” Ezra murmured.  He shook his head.  “He’s not our killer but I’d be willing to wager that he knows who is.”

“And we all know you abhor gambling,” Chris said, nodding.  He shook his head and hit the button that would allow Carter and Vin to hear his voice.  “Eyes forward, Carter,” he snapped.  A moment later, Carter was staring straight ahead.  For the first time since they’d brought him into the room, he was smiling.

“I do believe he enjoys unnerving people,” Josiah said, his voice soft.  He looked over at Ezra and said, “Did he see you when we took him in?”

Ezra shook his head.  “He was with Buck and Chris.  I was with you and Vin,” he said.  He shrugged and then glared through the glass at Carter.  “He’s just a creepy person and he enjoys being creepy at times.  Perhaps that’s why my mother left him: no amount of money was worth living with that.”

“Would your mother leave a man just because he was creepy?” Chris said, frowning.  He shook his head.  “Greedy as she is, I’d think she’d accept a bit of creepiness, if the money was good.  I’d think she’d only leave him if he was actually dangerous.”

“She left her fifth husband because he was a bad poet,” Ezra said, shaking his head.  “He had more money than God, but she couldn’t abide his horrible love poems.”

“Love poems?” Josiah repeated, a faintly amused smile touching his lips.  “What does your mother have against romantic poetry?”

“Nothing whatever,” Ezra said, giving him a playful wink, “except when they are stolen from the masters of the art and butchered into drivel by a love-sick millionaire.”  He gave Chris a two-finger salute and then left the room.  Somewhere, out there, there was a killer.  They weren’t going to find him by talking about his mother’s love life.

Not Waving

So, it’s quite late in the month, but it’s still June!  Here’s my answer to the Hint Fiction Challenge.

**

I didn’t know whose idea it was to go to the beach and, by the end of the day, I didn’t care anymore. It had been a horrible day. Half the team hadn’t even been able to make it. Chris came without Mary or Billy, who were out of town. Casey was studying for some exam, so she couldn’t come. Ezra’s fiancee had to take their daughter to the doctor, so he had come by himself, dragging Vin along because regulations said he couldn’t be anywhere alone.

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It’s Not What You Think

The title relates to the result of the prompt… this is my Hint Fiction piece for the month.  This was the hint fiction we used:

The Mall
What he liked best about the affair was not the shopping, but parting the tissue wrap to remove the clothing that had first enticed her.

By: Robley Wilson

**

The affair between them hadn’t lasted very long.  However, he always thought back on that time with fondness.  There was so much preparation that went into each of their jobs.  Nearly always, it would entail shopping.  They would go to the mall and find some shop that had what they needed – what she wanted.

He hadn’t cared much for that aspect of their work.  The real joy came when they returned to their hotel room and sorted through their purchases.  Parting the tissue wrap to remove the clothing that had first enticed her and watching her eyes light up.  It was like watching a child on Christmas morning.

Then, the real fun would start.  They would dress up in their newly purchased finery and go out in search of a mark.  Even though he knew it was wrong, he hadn’t cared.  It was too much fun and what was the harm?  They didn’t prey on the elderly or poor.  They stole from the rich… to give to their poor selves.

She was every inch the proper lady.  That was what he remembered most about her.  Even while she was lying to you, she would smile and you would believe all the honeyed words that poured out of her mouth.  Even while she was trying to cheat you out of your hard earned cash, she was so polite about it that you gladly gave her your money.

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The Chance Encounter

This is my hint fiction piece for this month.

Rounding the corner, winded from running, she came face to face with him. Years melted; she was in his arms, dancing at the senior prom.

By: Polly Hooper

** More

On Leaving

The prompt for the Hint Fic was:

Departure

The terminal is unkind. You watch me go through security. In six months, you’ll say “Tell me about the nightmare,” and I promise I will.

By: Donora Hillard

**

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Dusty Feathers

This is the third, and final, part of my little romantic tale for February.  Research again, but easier than the prison stuff (Muscovy ducks, Russian hats and brood parasitism).  It was written in answer to this prompt (for the February Hint Fiction Challenge):

Fertility
My Muscovy duck hatched seventeen ducklings–along with four chicks from eggs the hens snuck into her nest.
I’m still waiting.

By: Kirsten Beachy

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Letters and Letters

The second part… Again… I tried my best to research things for this.

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A Lovely Start

This is the first of three parts… I tried my best to research this part.

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Too Late for Regrets

This story is the scene where Ezra and Josiah meet for the first time.  Yes, they’re in prison.  Given what happened in the previous story, that was inevitable with Ezra.  Josiah’s already there…

Ezra’s going to grow a backbone, eventually.  He just has to get over the whole shock of what I’ve put him through.

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