Angel Maker: Part Seven by B. B. Wright

A Storm is Brewing

Angel Maker

A Short Story by B. B. Wright

An Inspector Alexander Collier Mystery

Inspector Alexander Collier Mysteries will often provide a choice for the reader. If you want to obtain a greater understanding and/or a ‘feel’ for the period follow the embedded links (high-lighted and underlined) sometimes found in the text of the story.

Part Seven
The Gathering Storm

 

Preoccupied with the disturbing crime scene he had just left, Alexander Collier made his way down the hall to his office oblivious to the pitter-patter of shoes following closely behind him.

Leonard Scoffield and some of his team had been pulled from fingerprinting hospital staff to process the crime scene in the back alley of the cinema while the remainder of Leonard’s team at the hospital had been placed under the command of Sergeant Snowden.

Collier wrapped his hand around the doorknob just about to enter his office when he was startled by a brisk tap on his shoulder. Turning, he came face to face with the classified section of The Echo held up by a rather agitated ‘Queenie.’

His eyes gave it away immediately to her. “Oh…” Her hand which was holding the classified section dropped to her side. “This is one of those times I wish that I had been wrong. I can see that you’ve found her.”

Collier slowly nodded: “Yes…she was where you dreamed she would be. But…How…?” Abruptly he waved off the question and stepped aside to let her in.

“Then what I have here takes on a higher degree of urgency,” she continued, slipping past him into his office.

“How can I help you, Mrs Stoddard? …Please…here…sit down,” he encouraged. His encouragement was nothing short of insincere since she was the last person he wanted to see at this moment. He pulled out the chair in front of his desk. “I’ll make us some tea.”

Still standing she retorted: “I don’t give a sausage about the tea, Inspector” And, she slammed the classified page down on his desk. “The lives of two little children are at stake and I have no idea how long we have before…he kills them.” Her eyes frantically skirted his desk in search of a writing utensil and finding a worn down pencil she picked it up and circled an address. “They’re here at this boarding house.”

Turning on the kettle, he sighed deeply. When he replied, he did not attempt to hide his incredulity: “How could you possibly know such a thing?” Mentally he chastised himself for even remotely believing in her predictive powers.

“Inspector, I’m a medium. And a damn good one I might add. This is what I do. Why would you have visited me early this morning if you had thought otherwise?”

Collier had attended his share of murder scenes but the murder of small children had been especially heinous and most difficult for him to shake off.

Unable to provide ‘Queenie’ with an answer that even he could remotely accept, he decided to listen further.

The eyes of the dead girl staring back at him continued to haunt him as he picked up the classified section and looked at the location ‘Queenie’ had circled: “Point made, Mrs Stoddard… Continue.”

“The man is pure evil, Inspector. He is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I know you are skeptical of me but we do agree that he is real and so are his murderous intentions.”

He nodded his agreement.

She took the page from him and spread it out on his desk. “There are two small children, a boy and a girl, at this location. I don’t know the family’s name but I’m almost certain that they are Jewish. He’s going to kill both of those little children. I think he thought I was blocked out when he circled that rooming house. And, there’s something else.”

She opened her purse and handed him a small pocket notebook size sheet of lined paper. On it, she had written: AOSS DTLLTFUTK ITOS IOZSTR.

“What’s this?”

‘Queenie’ shrugged and shook her head. “It was written beside the cross-word. The one was circled in the puzzle, also. After that he blotted me out singing ad nauseam some Irish ditty.”

She had decided not to mention to Collier that the murderer had got into her head. A chill went up her spine when she remembered the image he had sent her of her impending murder. The focus had to be on saving the two children. Not on her. For the moment she felt relatively safe since the murderer didn’t know who she was. But she knew that that would only last for a short time until he discovered that she was the only medium in the Bournemouth area.

The whistle on the kettle heralded that the water was boiled.

Collier poured some of the water into the tea pot and swished it around before pouring it out.

“Are you sure you don’t want a cup?” he asked looking back at her. Seeing her nod, he reached for another cup. “Mrs Stoddard,” he began as he busied himself making the tea, “why should I believe or for that matter why should anyone believe anything you say? This business of who is in whose head is difficult to swallow. Don’t you agree? You see my dilemma, Mrs Stoddard, is that I must be able to justify my decisions. Always.” He tested the tea to ensure that it had been brewed just right. Putting the tea-cosy on the tea pot he poured the tea. “You still take two sugar and milk?”

“I’ve learned to do without,” she replied, sitting down.

“I too, or should I say my wife encouraged…no…insisted on it,” he chuckled as he patted at his waistline.

Collier passed the cup and saucer across to her before sitting behind the desk. And, for a long time the two of them sat opposite each other without saying a word as they drank their tea.

Finally, ‘Queenie’ leaned forward and said: “I recollect him saying something about a mission.”

In light of the unsettled political and military conditions in Europe, the word “mission” conjured up a number of troublesome thoughts as Collier pressed forward against his desk.”Mission? What mission?”

This conversation was beginning to make him feel uncomfortable as he felt his rational, no nonsense thinking was on a sharply descending and slippery slope. He did not believe in the powers inherent in this medium or any medium no matter how contradictory at the moment that statement appeared and he had no intention of becoming loony like her.

‘Queenie’s’ forehead became deeply furrowed with concern for the fate of the children.

She pushed her empty tea cup toward Collier and asked: “Would you mind? It might help me…find more clarity.”

Collier refilled her cup and placed it in front her then regained his seat.

She took a long sip and then slouched down and tried to pluck from her memory anything that might have defined the mission.

When she sat bolt upright it was obvious to Collier by her demeanor and facial expression that a light had definitely clicked on in her head.

“Does the name Eberhart Von Stohrer mean anything to you?”

Collier sat back in his chair massaging his chin.

“He’s the recent German Rumanian ambassador,” he said after much thought. “If my memory serves me correctly, there was a failed attempt to assassinate him about a month ago. Why? “

“Well…it has to do with that attempt on Stohrer’s life. Some kind of revenge is my guess.”

She quickly finished her tea and stood up.

“On another point,” she added, “I’ve had a lot of thoughts and images about your son since we met this morning.”

“Uh-Huh. “ Collier picked up the pad of paper with the coded message written on it. As he perused it, Lila’s words from earlier that morning echoed through his mind: “Should I be worried about you? It’s not like you to cavort with the likes of her. My god! She’s been in jail. She’s known for swindling gullible people. Where’s your head, Sandy?”

“Inspector?”

Collier glanced up from his preoccupation with the code with a disturbed look on his face. “Yes, Mrs Stoddard. I’m listening, ” he lied.

“You will be receiving a phone call later today from Home Office about your son. There is a Captain Hall you will soon want to meet that may be able to find him.”

“Now wait a minute, Mrs Stoddard…how could you possibly…?”

“Inspector, please don’t finish that question,” she interjected. “Let what I just said unfold first. Perhaps then you will see me through a different set of eyes. And by the way, you’re not going loony. It’s perfectly natural what you’re experiencing.”

She began to walk toward the door but stopped and turned around.

“I am very sorry for what happened to that little girl but please don’t let your personal bias against me cloud your judgment. Because if you do, you will be sending those two children to their death,” she implored, pointing at The Echo’s classified section on his desk. “Oh…and there’s something else, Inspector. His fingerprints won’t be found among the hospital staff. But I can assure you that he is a resident of Bournemouth.”

“Before you go, Mrs Stoddard, may I ask you something on an unrelated matter?”

“Nothing is really unrelated, Inspector. But if it’s about your supper today, your niece and her mother will never see eye to eye but they will agree to disagree.”

Dumbfounded by what had just occurred, Collier stared at the closed door for a long time after she had gone.

Everything for Collier had suddenly become more complicated. With ‘Queenie’s’ revelations, he was not only trying to find a murderer now but he was also caught up in a race against time to find and protect that Jewish family and to decipher a code.

 

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My Mind’s Eyes by B. B. Wright

Picture is a Thousand Words

A picture says a thousand words but what if I were blind?

Would the photo framed and hanging there keep its words confined?

If I were born that way, how would each image be assigned?

Images formed in my mind must certainly be redesigned.

Touch would guide my mind if I were so inclined.

But distant nature’s best can only be aligned

Through the carefully crafted words on an artist’s canvass assigned.

Gently she takes my hand an elixir in demand

And guides me along the path to the very spot behind

Where shutter and lens defined

That very picture consigned.

Earthy smells and craggy ground combined

Lift my mind to distant echoed sounds entwined

To form complex images perhaps unclear to many in their design.

Nevermind!

It does not matter because the picture is solely mine.

DO YOU REMEMBER A PLACE

keithgarrettpoetry

 

We had to say goodbye, leave it behind, in time so far away,

It still stands not only where we left it but always in our minds.

Do you remember a place where friends were together,

A place where we all grew up just a little.

It seemed like we were somewhat older then,

No! we were not, only teenage kids.

We gossiped and fought over silly things,

Our own groups of whom we would let in.

Do you remember a field, a hangout back then,

A parking lot of dirt, later cement.

A quad only for seniors, now funny it seems,

A football team of boys, champions in the end.

Teachers, some we would never forget,

Friends once lost, now friends again.

Vending machines, and lockers, classes to learn in,

Taken a little for granted so many sunrises ago.

Here’s to Esperanza high school, i’m glad it was…

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Below the Window by B. B. Wright

Window in Below the Window

Below the Window

A Short Story by B. B. Wright

“The warm wedge of light passing through the window washes over me as I sit in its glow reading my grandfather’s diary. My back rest is an old wooden chest that he crafted before he left Latvia as a young man in search of work.

Based on the stories I’ve heard,  grandfather was only eighteen when he began this journey. Homesick, hungry and often searching for reasonably priced and suitable shelter, grandpa worked at odd jobs scant in both money and time employed for over a year until good fortune finally smiled on him and he landed a steady job in Munich.

Then, according to dad, one day everything changed for grandpa.  For some reason, dad never elaborated on what he meant by that statement.

Though, by the looks of this page, grandpa recorded that eventful day in bold lettering:

Dienstag 02.35, Hackerhaus, München, 10. Oktober 1938

Tuesday at 2:35 in Munich on October 10, 1938.

Beside it, he wrote in German: I’ve just met the most beautiful girl in the world at the Hackerhaus pub and I’m going to marry her. Her name is Emma.

Wow! I wonder what she looked like at that moment?

As I brush my index finger carefully over each letter he wrote, I hope (and I know it’s silly) to capture something of that moment. Oh how I wish I had my very own time machine! I would…Come to think of it I already have one—his diary.

Still, I would have liked to have been there at that very moment when they first met..

Wait.

My grandmother’s name isn’t Emma. Who the heck was  Emma? To my recollection, my family has never mentioned her. Not even grandpa when he was alive.

Strange.

Maybe the answer lies somewhere in the next pages.

Nothing?! Only blank pages?!

Several pages have been ripped out. Why would someone do that?

Let me check now…there…toward the end of his diary there are more entries. But, it’s several years after the War. The depth of detail in those pages is quite mundane and sparse compared to his earlier writing. What once was written in stylish cursive is now… weak and poorly written. Whatever happened to cause such a seismic change?

Chores! Damn! I forgot.

I’LL BE THERE IN FIVE, DAD.

I wonder if there’s something more in this old chest. Hmm…How did I miss these tied up old envelopes? By the looks of them, they’ve gone through some real rough times. There are some photos, a postcard and newspaper clippings in this one. Well I’ll be damned! It has the year 1938 written on it.

Let’s see…If I spill the contents on the floor and spread them out,  it should make it easier for me to see everything at a glance.

Dad sounds angry.

I’M COMING!

kristallnacht-grandpaThis photo looks like grandpa… sweeping up broken glass below the window of a shop? Quite a lot of damage, I wonder what happened? On the back of this photo her name appears again: Emma’s parents store-Nov. 10.

I’ll leave it here on top of the chest. Maybe dad can explain what happened.

I’M COMING NOW DAD! STOP THE SHOUTING. I’M NOT DEAF.”

A rush of air fluttered through the photos and news clippings to haphazardly expose some and hide others when the door to the attic was closed sharply.

Kristallnacht3

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3137566548_1_2_nRXIOuYdGERMANY-HISTORY-JEWS-HOLOCAUSTkristallnacht Poster1400259330429185932Munich GrandpaHitler in Munich

The statement “Then… one day everything changed for grandpa” had much deeper and more profound meaning than the young person could ever have imagined. Though the October 10 date written in the diary was eventful it was not the “change” the father meant.

The pictures and news clippings begin to give the clue.

Who was Emma you may ask? She was the grandfather’s first love whom he lost one month after they met during a very dark time in history.

What will the dad finally share? Click on the bold underlined statement above to learn.

Angel Maker: Part Six by B. B. Wright

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Angel Maker

A Short Story by B. B. Wright

An Inspector Alexander Collier Mystery

Inspector Alexander Collier Mysteries will often provide a choice for the reader. If you want to obtain a greater understanding and/or a ‘feel’ for the period follow the embedded links (high-lighted and underlined) sometimes found in the text of the story.

Part 6
The Hunch

Two significant clues had been discovered in the missing girl’s hospital room: a Winchester bottle under her bed with several fingerprints on it and on the highly polished floor the stockinged impressions of an adult male’s footprints. It had been established early in the investigation that Rebecca Grynberg had been the sole patient in this room.

Though the immediate objective was to account for all fingerprints found on that bottle, Collier, who recalled the hospital administrator’s odd sock combination, asked his good friend, Leonard Scoffield, who was the senior officer in charge of the forensic side of the crime scene, to check Becker’s foot size first against the stockinged impressions left in the room. Also, after he had cleared it with Leonard, Collier took the photo of the little girl with her family from its frame on the bedside table and placed it in his inside pocket.

Diane, poked her head around the corner to the entrance of the room and tried to get her uncle’s attention. Leonard noticed her first and directed Collier’s attention toward the doorway.

Massaging the taut muscles in his neck Collier walked over to where his niece was standing.

“Is everything alright?” he asked. “You have a worried look about you.”

“I see your neck’s bothering you. We do have Minnard’s liniment here.”

Shaking his head, he replied: “That foul smelling stuff? Nice diversion…You’re not getting off the hook that easily. Now what’s troubling you?” He cupped her elbow and led her down the hall away from the room’s entrance and into a small alcove.

“It’s about tonight’s dinner,” she replied, “and I can’t help but feel stressed over it especially if you’re not there to…support us.”

“Oh…I see. You’re afraid that you and Lenny might not be able to handle facing your mother on your own.”

She nodded.

“I shall be there. I promise you. But, if I am late for whatever reason, your Auntie Lila can handle my sister quite handedly at the first sign of trouble.” From Diane’s expression he wasn’t sure she had bought into what he had just said. “May I make a suggestion?”

“Of course uncle!”

“If I’m going to be late I’ll forewarn your Auntie Lila. You call her first to get the lay of the land and then me at the station to coordinate our arrival times. I think that should allay any concerns you may have. What do you think? Does it work?”

She wrapped her arms around him. “It works uncle!”

“We’ll tame your mum by evening’s end,” he assured her. “Now off to do your work. I too have much to accomplish by day’s end. And, again, congratulations on your engagement.”

By the time Inspector Collier left the hospital to return to the station with Constable Dubin, he was satisfied that Sergeant Snowden had everything well under control. This included securing the exits and monitoring the comings and goings at the hospital as well as a plan to ensure that all personnel were fingerprinted in the solarium

The actual fingerprinting of hospital personnel was the responsibility of Leonard Scoffield’s team who also matched and validated names and addresses associated with each set of fingerprints as well as the foot size of males. Based on the list the hospital administrator, Klaus Becker, gave them, there were over 2000 people—2017 to be exact—to be processed. At least a month’s worth of work to complete.

The sunshine and nipping chill felt good against his cheeks as Collier descended the steps from the hospital to the Wolseley parked at the bottom. Though he still felt some discomfort from his fall earlier on the same steps it had become quite bearable.

By the time Collier had reached the bottom of the steps, he had decided to follow a hunch that had been bubbling in his mind since he learned of the girl’s disappearance and ‘Queenie’s,’ recounting to him of her reoccurring dreams—though he would have described them as nightmares.

He directed Constable Dubin to make a detour to the local cinema rather than returning directly to the station.

The crowds from the Remembrance Day ceremonies had long since dispersed and the streets were relatively quiet as Dubin parked the vehicle in front of the Palladium Cinema. The unlit marquee above its entrance advertised The Divorce of Lady X starring Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier and Collier could see someone cleaning up in the main foyer behind the glass doors.

By the time Constable Dubin and he reached the front doors of the cinema whoever had been in the front foyer had disappeared and they were left with no other choice than to bang heavily on the doors with their hands to attract attention.

After several fruitless and loud attempts, an elderly gentleman with tufts of white hair on a mostly bald head and sporting a white handlebar moustache and work clothes appeared. Barely paying attention to them, he pulled out his pocket-watch, pointed to it and waved his bony arm for them to go away. Their persistent banging against the doors drew his full attention and forced him to maneuver his glasses from their strategic position just above his forehead to his nose. Once he saw Constable Dubin’s uniform he quickly traversed the foyer to open the doors.

“Sorry aboot that. Thae auld een o’ mines dinnae see as guid wi’oot thae,” he apologized pointing to his glasses.

“May we come in?” Collier asked.

“Aye o’ coorse ye kin.”

After Collier and the constable stepped inside the doors, the elderly gentleman relocked them.

“Ye cannae be tae canny.”

Collier smiled replying:”No you can’t. Best to be too careful than not careful enough.”

“Aye. Noo whit kin ah dae fur ye?”

“I’m Inspector Collier and this here is Constable Dubin. What’s your name?”

“Robert, Robert McTavish.”

“Is the owner…Harry Mears by any chance here, Robert?” Collier asked, casually surveying the surrounding environs.

“Na tis juist me. Cleaning up afore tomorrow’s matinee.”

Collier reached into his pocket and pulled out the photo. “Have you seen this little girl around here recently?”

Robert looked at it long and hard before answering.

“She doesn’t keek kenspeckle. Bit thae auld een see a lot o’ fowk while th’ week while this auld brain o’ mines doesn’t mind as weel as it used tae.”

“Too bad, I wish you had. Do you mind if we look around?”

“Na nae at a’. Ah will tak’ thae garbage bags oot back ‘n’ return shortly.”

“Thank you, Robert. You’ll find us in the lower section of the theatre.”

As Collier opened the doors to the theatre, he could hear Robert loading the garbage bags onto his trolley. Turning back he watched him wheel the garbage down a dark corridor to the back entrance.

“Tell me gov, did you understand everything he said to you? I know I had trouble following him.”

“Pretty much. The Scottish brogue was a daily part of my life growing up. My family on my mother’s side was Scottish and they often took care of me while my parents worked.”

“Do you mine gov if I ask another question?”

“Not at all.”

“What do you hope to find here?”

“I really don’t know, Constable, except that little girl safe and sound and hiding somewhere in here.”

“But why here?”

“For now, let’s just call it a hunch. Now check along the rows on that side while I check this side. After we’re finished here we’ll head upstairs to the balcony.”

Barely into their search the doors behind them burst open and Robert McTavish,  frantic and breathless, stood partly into the opening clinging to the door handles on either side of him.

“Mah god! Mah god! Come quickly! ” he screamed, pointing behind him as he turned and exited.

Tears swelled Collier’s eyes once he stepped out into the back alley behind the theatre and saw the child’s lifeless and broken body in a pool of blood. Unable and not caring to hide his emotions, he hunched down in front of her sobbing.

Dull as stone and open, her eyes stared back at him.

The Road by B. B. Wright

Unsplash Eight“Should I approach? How long has it been since I last saw them together? Saw them, now there’s a lark. I don’t give a hoot about them. It’s only her I care about. Silly after all this time not being able to shake her from my thoughts but, then, I haven’t really tried very hard.

I remember a time when I thought she was THE ONE. Funny thing… she still is. Love has a tendency to do that I’ve been told. He told me that…my best friend did. Still, did she ever think I was THE ONE if even only for a brief moment? A part of me says “yes” she must have because when you’ve shared “I love you,” there is no other answer. Or is there? Come to think of it, I’ve never explored that other side before. And I don’t want to.

She’s looking back this way; I’d better pretend I’m entering this doorway.

I thought I had come to know her; that she had revealed all her fascinating, even mysterious and frustrating complexity. But, by the time our relationship ended I had discovered that I hadn’t even scratched the surface of her inner life. That revelation still confounds me. Yet, I must admit that all that time we spent together was nothing short of miraculous. For me, that is. Was it for her?

How did our relationship become unglued? Was I blind or just too preoccupied with my own needs to forget that she too had needs? I remember the day she left as if it were yesterday. The vindictiveness in her tone is still raw in my memories. I cringe with the thought that she was right when she called me a “selfish jerk.” I do hope that I have changed since then. God knows how hard I have tried.

Why are they here though? This was our favorite location not theirs.

The sound of metal hitting metal still reverberates through my memory with its angry sound; it still fills me with deep remorse and sadness. Why did I drink so much that evening? I should never have been driving. That damn accident became an ever widening ink-spot on our relationship.

How was I supposed to have known she was pregnant?! She never told me. Come to think of it, why didn’t she? Was she seeing him at the time? Maybe it was…no, I won’t go there.

Should I smile if we shake hands? Can I do that? The bastard now holding her hand once was my best friend!

I’ve been told time heals but it doesn’t. I know I can’t change what happened. No one can.

Did she ever forgive me? I would never expect her to forget. How could she. I can’t.

There’s…a small child with them…I guess I am pleased…

She’s moved on with her life. But I can’t. What happened continues to lay waste to my present.

Strange…I’ve rehearsed over and over again what I would say and do if this unlikely opportunity occurred and now that it’s here…well…I’m traumatized to say the least.

I must leave. My thirst for liquor pulls at my vulnerable strings and my oath to the soul of my unborn daughter “to never drink again” may be shattered if I stay. I will not let that happen.

The road ahead leading into the Town Square and in the opposite direction is wistfully reassuring. I must quicken my pace. Unfortunately for me I have chosen a direction that provides no resolution.

Who is it that runs so quickly behind me? Her voice, its lilt, though breathless, is familiar to me.”

“Gerald! Wait! We must talk,” she called out.