Sam pulled his Porsche into Quainte's police parking area, stepped out and stretched. The drive back went quicker than he expected. He'd have time to drop off the information he collected, go home and catch a few hours sleep before coming to work tonight. It was good to be back in town. He had been away almost three weeks. Sam had called to check in every day, and so far there had been no more notes or murders, just a few robberies and assaults on tourists while he'd been away.
After checking out information on the Chapman woman in Reno, he'd driven to Los Angeles to confer with Winston and interview some of the people Winston had found who had known the first victim.
As far as Sam was concerned he had no more than what he had before he left. The killer had done a good job covering his tracks. No one had seen the gambler hand Chapman the free package-trip to Quainte. Sam was told she received it after her shift was over, and refused to say who gave her the generous gift for fear the others would try to lure her good customer from her. As for the Nicholls-Rossmore woman, that wasn't any better. All of the witnesses were unreliable except to confirm she was a street prostitute and an alcoholic.
As Sam reached the door, it opened and the Captain stepped out. Seeing Sam, he greeted him heartily, shook his hand, and added a friendly slap on the back before re-entering the building with him.
"It's been mighty quiet since you've been gone. Even the news hounds have disappeared. They hung around for a day or two after you left, then gave up. What have you got? And don't tell me you spend the time gambling in Reno as a cover. That better not be in the expense account!" he laughed, as they entered the his office and sat down.
Laying the papers on the Captain's desk, Sam explained how he went about his investigation and what he had discovered, which wasn't as much as they had expected.
"I gave all the information I had to both the Reno Police Department and the L.A. Homicide Division. They'll call if they come up with any new information," Sam said, rubbing his eyes.
"Well, I guess that's all we can hope for . . . something turning up new. Now, why don't you go home and rest. I'll let Charlie know you'll be in, so he can tell the patrolman that's been relieving you not to come in tonight."
"Thanks, see you later," Sam said, as he got out of the chair with an effort. He didn't realize how tired he was until his back started aching. It'd feel good to stretch out on his bed.
Finding nothing but bills and junk mail, he unbuttoned his shirt as he crossed the room to the VCR. He had set it on extended play to get the maximum hours of play, but he doubted it lasted this length of time. He had wanted to record the news segments, to see what had been happening while he was away. Shoving to the back of his mind the thought he might have wanted to see what Kelly had been doing, Sam pressed the rewind button.
He went back to the kitchen, grabbed a beer from the refrigerator, and returned to the leather chair in front of the television. Using the remote, he turned the set on and pushed play on the recorder. Sam skimmed through on fast-forward until he came to Kelly's segment and watched briefly, noticing what she was wearing, how she looked, and if the segment was interesting before skimming on to the next.
He stopped it once to watch Kelly interview Peter Linsley, a fireman, about a fire in an old warehouse at the southern end of Joshua Lane near the edge of town. Linsley was one of those confident macho egotists. He was a good-looking, broad shouldered, tall man with dark curly hair, sideburns, and a bushy mustache. From the cocky grin on Linsley's face when he walked away after the interview, Sam knew what he must be thinking.
"That bastard," Sam muttered. He remembered how his wife, Melanie, and Linsley had been so cozy at a party last year. He and Linsley nearly came to blows before the night was ended. He doubted if there was a woman left in Quainte that Linsley hadn't made a pass at, and he wasn't surprised to see him take an interest in Kelly.
Sam continued on fast-forward and was almost to the end of the tape when he stopped, quickly hitting the pause button. He then rewound to the beginning of the segment and listened as Kelly stood on the side of a country two-lane road outside of Braxton, describing a head-on collision that had killed four people. She was wearing a yellow two-piece dress made of some lightweight crinkly material. The loose-fitting top hung over a full skirt, and her back was to the sun. The bright light of the sun shining through her dress revealed the outline of her figure as if she had been standing there in a sheer nightgown. Kelly was facing the camera and then turned to the right in a profile position, looking toward where the road made a sharp turn. She lifted her right hand to her forehead to hold her hair as a slight breeze arose. The breeze billowed the skirt and blouse away from her body, displaying a silhouette of Kelly's rounded breast, flat stomach, and firm derriere. The shot lasted no longer than a few seconds, but enough time for the viewing audience to notice. Sam watched the segment through, then replayed it again. His anger simmered as he watched, wondering what was the matter with that cameraman filming her at that angle. He must have known how it would turn out. Why had the sonofabitch in charge of approving the segments let it air? What did she say was his name? Blaney, yeah, that's the bastard's name.
Sam turned the set off, tossing the remote on the sofa, and went to lie down on his bed. He doubted he would sleep now after seeing that shot of her in the yellow dress. God, she was beautiful! He lay there awhile wondering what she must have thought when she saw it. She said she was humiliated when they filmed her sliding across the seat of his car, and this was just as bad . . . if not worse. The last thought he had before falling asleep was how long if would be before he would see her again in person . . . hopefully alone and without the cameraman.
Standing in front of Quainte's police station, Kelly looked quizzically at the paper Jay had handed her.
"Where did you get this information?" Kelly asked, as she reread the message.
"It was called in earlier to the boss from his anonymous source, and he faxed a copy to me on my portable fax-machine in the van," Jay answered, shrugging as he checked the angle of the shot.
"Then Knight had not been suspended. He's been out of town interviewing people connected to the murder victims. So, what does Blaney want me to do? Am I to just read this with the station as background?" she asked, trying to figure out Blaney's angle to the news story.
"Don't worry, just memorize that paragraph, with a few glances at the sheet, so it looks like the info just came through . . . which it did . . . and by the way, you are getting an exclusive here, in case you weren't aware of it. There's some film of Knight returning, and meeting the police captain I had shot earlier that we'll edit into the segment," Jay answered.
"You saw him when he arrived?" she asked, surprised.
"I was next door at the Court House and saw him pull into the parking lot. Couldn't pass up the chance to get a shot of the occasion," Jay said with his usual sarcasm.
Kelly shrugged and positioned herself where Jay indicated, closely checking what was around her. Kelly was careful where she stood after that shot of her in the yellow dress with the sun behind her. She hadn't known about it until the film editor mentioned she should take a look at the film before it aired. Kelly was shocked at seeing herself practically nude through that dress, and she fumed at Tim Blaney for even thinking of using that shot. He and Jay both apologized but insisted they had to put the shot on since it was the only one they had for the evening news. Then Blaney had the nerve to tell her, "Relax, honey, a little titillation perks up the spot."
Kelly did the news spot relating to the info on the sheet and headed for the van, but Jay stopped her.
"Why don't you stay in town? I'll drop you off at your house, and if something comes up, I can pick you up later. No use you making that trip back to the station in Braxton when you live here. If I drive fast, I can get this in early enough for the edits and go home myself," Jay suggested.
"Sounds good to me. But I'll walk home. It's not far and I can stop at the market on the way," Kelly answered.
"Okay kid, see ya," Jay waved as he drove off.
Kelly watched the van turn right on Joshua Lane toward the freeway on-ramp, then walked in the opposite direction to the shopping center on Park Road. A dark blue car passed by and she turned quickly to see if it was Detective Knight, but it wasn't. Kelly wondered what he would think of her news report about his return. She was glad he wasn't suspended. Smiling, she thought how nice it would be to run into him at the crime scenes again, even if he did glare at her most of the time. She really liked his green eyes, and a lot more than that. His broad shoulders, his wavy hair, his . . .
"Aren't you Kelly Daye?" a woman said, startling Kelly out of her daydreaming.
"Yes, I am," Kelly said, smiling. It was nice to be recognized by the viewers. The elderly woman and her husband looked to be tourists on vacation.
"Well, I must tell you, I like to watch your news reports, but I think my dear, you ought to take a little more care in what you wear before the cameras. Some of those outfits! Oh my!" the woman said, giving Kelly a reproachful look.
Kelly blushed and glanced at the husband standing behind his wife. He was leering at her with a lascivious grin, then had the audacity to wink at her, knowing his wife couldn't see what he was doing.
"Th . . . thank you for your suggestion . . . I'll keep that in mind," she said to the woman. "If you'll excuse me now, I have an appointment."
When the woman started to add another comment, Kelly ignored it, smiled and waved before hurrying down the street.
"Good God! Humiliated again!" she muttered, then pondered the woman's remark. This would have been the last straw if it weren't for all the good things she'd been told about her news segments. After that last embarrassment in the yellow dress, she received flowers, and fan letters. A lot of the letters admonished the cameraman for having the nerve to film her in that setting. When Detective Knight threw the microphone in the back seat, she had letters of outrage and sympathy. At least she knew that she had an audience watching Channel 12 rather than the other networks. With that cheerful thought, she crossed the street to the shopping center.
Kelly was just about to turn into the market when she remembered the film she had dropped off.
The pictures of the Company's Fourth of July picnic had been sitting there for almost three months! "Well, so much for one-hour photo service," she muttered, passing the market and heading for the photo shop next to a boutique.
The shop bell rang as she crossed the threshold, and Kelly saw the owner peek out the door of the back room. He was a middle-aged man, with a saturnine look about him. He stared at her a moment, then with a sly grin made his way to the counter. Damn! I should have timed it better and stopped in when he wasn't working, Kelly thought, remembering how he always looked as if he could see right through her clothes.
"Good Afternoon, Mr. Fallon, I came to claim some film I left to be developed simply ages ago! I hope you still have them," Kelly said, forcing a pleasant smile.
"Ah, yes . . . I believe you did. Of course, they are here, and have been patiently waiting for you . . . as have I," he said silkily, reaching in a file box next to the register to pull out the package of photos.
"Thank you. I'm sorry I had forgotten about it. So much has happened, it entirely slipped my mind. How much do I owe you?" Kelly said, fumbling in her purse for her wallet to keep from looking at him.
"It will be $7.58 . . . some of the pictures did not turn out. It looks like you could use a few lessons in photography, my dear. If you would care to drop in sometime, I would be happy to give you some instruction . . . free of charge," he said suggestively.
"That's kind of you to offer. I'll keep it in mind," Kelly said, barely keeping the irritation out of her voice as she handed him the money.
"By the way, that was a very nice outfit you had on at the picnic," he said.
"You . . . you looked at my pictures?" she gasped in outrage.
"Well, of course. I did develop them, you know," he answered, unperturbed at her look. Then, giving her the once-over he added, "The blue print jumpsuit you wore looked well on you . . . but I think I prefer that yellow dress you were wearing on television . . . it shows your attributes to much better advantage," he said with a knowing grin.
"Oh! Why . . . you.," Kelly said, gritting her teeth, trying to keep from leaning across the counter to punch him. She took a deep breath, remembering that he could pass on any ill remarks she might say and ruin her television image.
"Thank you . . . and good-day, Mr. Fallon," Kelly said, and hurried out of the shop.
Fuming, she went into the market, quickly purchased the items she needed, and walked at a quick pace to her house a few blocks away. She couldn't wait to get home and go jogging to blow off some of the steam building up inside her.
"The nerve of him! If I hear another person mention that yellow dress!" Kelly muttered, reaching into her purse to get her key. She shifted the grocery bag to her other arm, unlocked the door, then reached in her mail box.
"Ouch!" Kelly yelped as she quickly took her hand out, putting the injured finger to her mouth, then peeked inside the box. Cautiously, she lifted out a yellow rose with a note tied to the stem.
Inside her house, she kicked the door shut with the heel of her shoe and laid the grocery bag, purse and keys on a nearby chair. With a curious frown, Kelly slowly unfolded the note.
Some roses are white,Kelly dropped the note and rose to the carpet. Staring at the note she crossed her arms in front of her as a cold shiver went through her. Somebody knew where she lives and had been watching . . . watching her news segment only? Or watching her house too? She had heard of stalkers that pursued movie stars and famous singers, but never had she dreamed one would be stalking her!
Some roses are pink,
For you, no color's quite
Like yellow, I think.
I'll be watching!
Kelly went to the window and cautiously peeked out around the curtain. No one was out front or parked nearby. Turning her head, she saw her neighbor, Mr. Greenwood, watering the lawn. He was always in the yard when she came home or left the house, she wondered if he planned it that way as she stared at the middle-aged man. Sometimes he could be offensive, the way he would look at her.
"Maybe he just might have noticed who put the note in my mailbox," Kelly murmured as she headed toward the front door.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Greenwood!" Kelly yelled, walking toward the fence separating their yards.
"Well, hello! How are you today?" he answered with a jovial grin. "I see you're home early. My! You look nice . . . but then you always do," he said as his eyes skimmed her figure.
Ignoring the blatant look, Kelly smiled and asked, "By any chance did you see someone, other than the mailman, put something in my mailbox today?"
"Why, no . . . did someone put something in your box you didn't like?" Greenwood asked, tilting his head quizzically to the side, as he moved the garden hose to spray another section of the yard.
"Well, no, not exactly . . . I just thought you may have seen someone go up to my door," Kelly said, as she glanced at the yellow rose bush he was watering. Kelly had a sudden chilling thought that the rose in her mailbox may have come from that bush.
"Sorry, my dear, I can't help you. I'm really not outside that often, and I've been quite busy today," he answered smiling.
Yeah, right, Kelly thought, only outside whenever I go in or out of the house!
"Thanks anyway, Mr. Greenwood. I won't keep you from your watering," Kelly said, turning back toward her house. She wanted to avoid as much conversation as possible with him. What if it was he who had put that rose in her mailbox?
An astonished Sam sat in front of the television watching himself being greeted warmly by the Captain and ushered companionably into the station. Where was that cameraman hiding? He watched Kelly read from a sheet of paper, then lower it to her side as she looked into the camera.
"I have been informed by one of our sources that Detective Knight of Quainte's police department has not been suspended as you, the viewers, had been lead to believe. He has been on an out-of-town investigation to Reno, Nevada, and Los Angeles, in regard to the victims involved in those gruesome murders at the beginning of this month. Since there have not been any more of these terrible killings, and from the warm greeting from his superior officer, we might conclude that Detective Knight has been successful in his investigation." The camera moved in for the close-up of her face.
"This is Kelly Daye reporting from Quainte's Civic Center."
Sam turned the set off and walked to the sliding glass door of the sundeck. He stared at the ocean view while he thought about the news report.
What was the purpose of making the Captain look like a liar by informing the viewers I was not suspended? Why was that cameraman standing around waiting for me . . . how did he know I was going there at that time? I didn't even know myself. Who is this informer? The only good thing she said was that there have not been any more murders and giving me the credit, even if I didn't deserve it. My trip was useless as far as the investigation. Where is this killer? Maybe he has decided to go somewhere else and leave Quainte alone.
Sam was turning to refill his coffee cup when he glanced at the Porsche sitting in the driveway. Squinting into the sun through the glass he noticed a corner of something white on his windshield. Sam sat the cup down and opened the sliding door. Crossing the deck to the car, he glanced around before lifting the envelope from beneath the wiper blade gingerly with two fingers. He carried it into the house and cautiously opened it.
Ah, Detective, you are back.Sam felt a chill go up his spine to the hairs on the nape of his neck and his hand trembled as he put the paper down. He looked back at his car. It had only been parked there for maybe four hours. While he was sleeping the killer had been in his yard, knew where he lived, and that he was back before the news announced it.
Have you missed your playful Jack?
Patience - you will get another clue,
For my knife is sharp - and ready too!
Sam went to the phone and called headquarters. Ben answered.
"Ben, get me the Captain quick . . . an emergency," Sam demanded.
"What is it, Sam?" asked the Captain with concern.
"The killer just left me a note on my car . . . in my own driveway. Send the lab man over to fingerprint the car before I drive it," Sam said, feeling a little more in command of himself. He wasn't going to let that Jack bastard shake him.
"Hang on," the captain said as Sam was put on hold, then the Captain came back on the line.
"I'm sending Ralph over. He should be there soon. What does the note say?"
"It's another poem written to me. Letting me know he's ready to do another one . . . soon . . . without giving a date or a name," Sam answered.
"Do you get the feeling he hasn't killed anyone recently because he was waiting for your return?" the Captain suggested.
"Christ, Captain! Don't tell me that! I don't want to be responsible for those . . . those . . . mutilations," he pleaded, "Why would he pick on me? I can't think of a soul I had put away that would hate me enough to take revenge on helpless women that I don't even know. If he wants to come at me . . . let him. Why involve these others?" Sam asked.
"We checked your files, Sam. No one you sent away has been released within the past year. By the way, did you watch the six o'clock news about your return? If I could get the name of this source that knew where you had been, we might be a jump up the ladder on this case," the Captain said wryly.
"I know, and I wonder how the cameraman knew I would be walking in the back door of the station at that particular time. Has he been camping out in the parking lot?" Sam asked sarcastically.
"I'd call him in for questioning . . . her too . . . if I thought we could get anything out of them. But you know they won't give up a source," the Captain answered wearily.
"Ralph just pulled up. I'll be in after he's finished with the car," Sam said as he saw Ralph walking up the driveway.
Sam went out to meet him, but he knew there wasn't a chance in hell the killer had slipped up and left a print.
He glanced around the area. So many places to hide at this secluded property on Stoney Point Road. Sam was glad he had an alarm system installed in the house.
When Sam got to work, the men were waiting for him in the Captain's office. He handed the Captain the envelope, and sat down. The Captain slid the note into a cellophane holder and passed it around to the others.
"I do not want to hear he was waiting for my return," Sam said firmly, as Ray started to speak.
"Oh . . . uh . . . sure, Sam," Ray said when he saw the Captain glare at him. He sat back, feeling disappointed he couldn't convince Sam the killer was stalking him.
"Well, this is Friday night and he's always done it on a weekend, so maybe he just happened to be in town this weekend and saw you were here," Carl suggested. He was in agreement with Ray, that this had to do with Sam.
"The only thing I can think to do right now is keep checking the rentals for anyone who returns on weekends," the Captain suggested. "Get a list of names and start comparing them with the other hotels. And keep your eyes open! If the next one is attacked on the street, like the first victim, maybe we can catch him before he kills her."
After a short give-and-take on suggestions, the meeting was ended,
leaving them to worry about the coming nights, and when the next murder
* * * *
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