Meurtres De Rue Impasse
Thanks to Randy for editing assistance.
It was not a dark and dreary day. It was just the opposite. The sun was shining and I swear, I could hear a few birds in the area. Funerals are all supposed to be held when it is cloudy and rainy. I know that because that is how they always show it in the movies. Nothing has been going right lately.
We kept the service private. Eight people in all; my brother and his wife, my sister-in-law and her husband, my daughter, and her husband, and the minister. Funerals are not happy occasions, but this was one of the worse. My wife, Carla, had committed suicide. It was nothing fancy; just the run-of-the-mill overdose of pills and booze. We didn't want a lot of people there celebrating her death.
We all went back to the house after the service, spent about an hour doing the ritual commiserating, and then split up. Before they left, I gave my daughter, Grace, all of my wife's jewelry. It was quite extensive; her only vice. Many of the pieces were hand-me-downs from her family. We had it all appraised and insured about ten years before and it was over one hundred thousand dollars. I had no need for any of it, and I was sure that Carla would have wanted Grace to have it.
The next few days were spent packing up all of Carla's clothing and personal items for Goodwill. There wasn't anything that Grace wanted, so most of the small knick-knacks and decorative things were included. I stripped the kitchen of all the fancy appliances and kept only a few things that I felt I could use to feed myself. I wasn't planning on any fancy dinners. By the end of the week, what was once a fancy home, now looked like a bachelors' pad.
A few of the neighbors stopped by to commiserate, but not too many. By this time, they all knew what had happened. It was never mentioned or discussed. My week of compassionate leave was up, so I started back to work Monday morning. It was apparent that someone had said something to the staff, so I did not have to endure endless insincere condolences. A few did slip by, but most of the people left me alone.
In the evenings, I sat and drank beer and contemplated revenge. I had no idea what was to come.
It was a week later. I had just returned from a safety audit in Baltimore, and found two police detectives waiting at the house. "Mister Templer, my name is Detective Greene, and this is Detective Naranja. We would appreciate a few minutes of your time."
"I would like to get settled in. I just got back from an out of town job."
"Yes, we know. We contacted your office and they told us that you were in Baltimore for the last three days. We just need you to verify it."
"Okay! I verified it. Anything else?" Greene and Naranja appeared to be a little uneasy. Greene cleared his throat and leaned forward.
"We have a few questions about your relationship with Bill and Marsha Dobbs. We realize that this is a sensitive subject at this time, but a little clarification would be appreciated."
"What exactly do you know and what do you want to know?"
"The neighbors told us that you and your wife had been very close friends with Bill and Marsha, and there had been a falling out of sorts. Can you confirm that?"
"Yes, I can confirm that."
They both sat looking at me as if anticipating more.
"Can you elaborate?"
"How much do you know?" They both seemed to squirm a bit.
"The neighbors seemed to think that some wife swapping or similar partying was going on, but we have nothing to verify this. It was all rumor and conjecture."
"Okay! I've had enough of this crap. I am going to have to insist that you gentlemen leave. I don't know why you are asking these questions and I don't want to know. Now get the hell out of my house!"
I rose from my chair and gestured them towards the door. Reluctantly, they complied. Detective Greene turned before leaving. "Marsha Dobbs was murdered last night. We are just trying to tie up some loose ends. Sorry if we upset you, Mister Templer. If you have any questions or need anything, give us a call." He handed me his card as I closed the door.
The report in the morning newspaper explained everything. It appeared that Marsha was leaving work and someone grabbed her in the building parking garage and held a plastic bag over her head until she stopped breathing. The rest of the article just listed all the things that the police were doing to solve the crime. The article indicated that they had no suspects or motive. There were no cameras in the garage. It was a good day at work.
Things were different in the cul-de-sac that weekend. I did all the required yard work and noticed that I was getting odd looks from everyone. Bill Dobbs stood on his porch and watched me for about thirty minutes, but did nothing more than that. I went for sushi Saturday night. It wasn't as much fun by myself.
Things were back to normal for a week and then the company sent me on a safety audit in Elko, Nevada. When I got back my two favorite detectives were waiting for me at the airport. I needed a ride home, anyhow, so I let them provide the limo service. Instead of taking me home, we ended up at the police station.
"Can I get a cup of coffee?"
Detective Neranja brought back three cups. Greene and I were already settled in.
"What did I do this time?"
"We are working on that. We think that you are holding out on us."
"You know where I was last week, right?"
"Yes! And it was checked and double-checked. We do believe you were in Elko all week."
"Why am I here this time?"
"Tell us about your relationship with Frank Crawford."
"We live in the same cul-de-sac. He and his wife socialized with us. We are no longer friends. What is he accusing me of?"
"Nothing. Frank Crawford has disappeared."
"How is this my problem?"
"We understand that Frank and his wife Sandy were close socially with Bill and Marsha Dobbs, as well as with you and your wife."
"There you go with the innuendos again. How do you know that Frank hasn't just gone away fishing or something? I am tired and I would like to go home now. I am done talking to you. I will be getting a lawyer. The next time you want to talk to me, go through him. "
"Mister Templer. There is something important that you are keeping from us. We will find out what it is, but would appreciate it if you would level with us first. We have a dead person and a missing person, and we feel that you are somehow connected to both of these incidents."
"I would really like a ride home."
Grace stopped by that evening with the biggest surprise,
"Dad, Bill, and I took Mom's jewelry to the Ohio Gemologist Office for a new appraisal. The total present value is just under four thousand dollars."
"That's impossible! The last appraisal was in the hundred-thousand dollar range."
"Donald Curry, the gemologist that we talked to, told us that Mom had been in over a month ago and had the evaluation updated. It came to almost a hundred and fifty thousand dollars. He said she asked about getting replicas made so that she could wear them without worrying about losing them. She also asked him where the best place would be to sell the stones if she decided to go that way. She left after getting the contact numbers for both services."
"Wow! So I guess sometime over the last month or so your mother sold the real gems and had them replaced with fake stones. What the hell happened to the money?"
It was a week later, and I was just getting back from Chattanooga. Greene and Naranja were waiting for me at the airport again. As I grabbed my bags off the carousel, I looked over my shoulder at them and jokingly asked, "Who did I kill this time?"
They didn't laugh. Greene sighed and said "Bill Dobbs."
Nothing further was said as we drove to the station. I got the feeling that it was going to be a long night. I was tired already.
Somebody had rung the doorbell at the Dobbs home. When Bill opened the door, he was met with three 9mm slugs in the middle of his chest. It was another exciting week in the cul-de-sac. No witnesses.
"Mister Templer. We have some good news; you are no longer a suspect."
"Was I ever?"
"Well, we never really eliminated you, but we could never prove anything."
"Care to elaborate a bit?"
"We got the man who killed Bill Dobbs. One of the shell casings that he left behind had a partial print on it. We grabbed him just before he was able to leave town. After extensive interrogation, he told us everything. Unfortunately, he had nothing to do with the murder of Marsha Dobbs or the disappearance of Frank Crawford."
"Did he give a reason?"
"He was hired."
"Who would do that?"
"I know this will be hard for you to believe, but it was your wife, Carla."
For some strange reason, I did not react as they thought I would. I did not react at all. I just sat there and didn't move. "Can I have some coffee?"
For the next thirty minutes, they explained how Carla had hired him. She had somehow got linked up to a portion of the dark web where mercenaries and assassins could be contacted. Carla had paid him with a cashier's check made out by the International Reserve Deposit Bank of Cleveland, for twenty-five thousand dollars. She also gave him printed instructions on who she wanted to be killed, and when and where. They were presently in contact with IRDB to see if they could find out how many other checks were issued.
"Sandy Crawford also came in to see us. She gave us the whole story of what she and Marsha did to Carla. They had no idea that Carla would react the way that she did. She said they did it in good fun, but it seemed to backfire. We have her in protective custody."
Nobody said anything for several moments.
"Mister Templer, could we hear your side of the story?"
"We moved into the cul-de-sac about a year ago. Since our daughter was gone, we decided to downsize a bit. Everything was fine for the first few months. We made several friends in the neighborhood but were especially close to Frank and Sandy Crawford and Bill and Marsha Dobbs. After a while, we realized that they were swingers. It was not our thing. They kept trying to get us to join the group and we kept refusing. We were starting to wean ourselves away from them when Sandy and Marsha ask me to drive them Ohio to get some collector baskets. Carla always wanted one of the Longaberger baskets, and the girls convinced me to drive them there and get one for her birthday. While we were gone Carla was going to teach Bill and Frank how to make her famous lasagna. What we didn't realize at the time was that it was all a setup. Sandy and Marsha had convinced Carla that the swap was in. The girls were taking me to a local resort for an afternoon of wild sex and Carla would be free to spend all day with Frank and Bill. They told her to tell the 'lasagna' story so that they could surprise me when we got to the resort. She bought it hook, line, and sinker."
Detective Naranja left and came back with some fresh coffee.
"I had no idea, and never did until I got home. Carla thought that she knew what was going on, and did not know that she was being conned."
"To make a long story short. I spent the day driving five hours to buy a couple of baskets and Carla spent the afternoon getting screwed by Bill and Frank."
"How did you come to realize what happened?"
"We were getting ready for bed that night and Carla casually asks me how it was with two girls. I said that it was a long drive and that their constant yakking was annoying as hell. She looked at me funny and said that she meant the sex. Of course, my reply was 'what sex'?"
"I can see now why she would be upset." detective Greene sighed.
"The next two hours were hell. I finally ended up sleeping in the guest room. Things went downhill from there."
"What do you mean that it went 'downhill'?"
"My wife was getting a bit testy about the whole situation and I couldn't blame her, however, she also was starting to place part of the blame on me. She started insinuating that I did not do enough to protect her. I should have been more astute about the whole situation. Why hadn't I stopped Bill and Frank since it was evident what they were doing? Why didn't I love her enough?"
"How did that end up?"
"We just stopped communicating at all. All she did was constantly blame me so I pulled away. I realize now, that we should have sought counseling of some type. Too late now."
"Mister Templer, we will be getting together with the IRDB of Cleveland tomorrow in an attempt to get more information about the cashier checks. We will be in touch. Oh, by the way, we have Sandy Crawford in protective custody."
I spent the next week in Clarksville, Tennessee. When I returned my two favorite detectives were waiting for me, as usual. It was a familiar trip to the police station.
"Yes, Mister Templer, we did check on your alibi. You are good, but we do have some information that you need to know and some things to clarify."
I got comfortable with my machine coffee as Detective Greene started.
"Sandy Crawford was killed two nights ago."
"I thought you had some type of protection on her?"
"I guess it wasn't good enough,"
"They found her in their car in the garage. The car had been running until it ran out of gas. She had been dead for several hours when she was discovered."
"Why would she do that?"
"She didn't. Her hands and her legs were fastened with plastic ties. It was not a suicide."
"So much for protective custody."
"It gets worse."
I was waiting for the punch line.
"Your wife sold her jewelry for one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars. She got five cashier checks for twenty-five thousand dollars each, from the International Reserve Deposit Bank of Cleveland. Four of the five checks have been cashed and four people have been murdered."
"And what is the problem?"
"There is still one check outstanding."