Category Archives: Mystery/Suspense

The Vase

The vase, a gift he picked up from Second Street Seconds, contained a handful of red roses. On the kitchen table next to the vase were a pile of mail and a dirty plate and fork.

He slammed a bottle of Corona onto the table, grabbed his third from the six pack and twisted it open. “You don’t appreciate anything I do for you,” he said. You didn’t even thank me for the roses.”

Flip..flip…flip. She sat on the couch flipping through a magazine.

“We should at least talk about it.” he said.

“Didn’t we talk about it the last two times? I remember talking about it. But then maybe it was just a lot of words.” She threw the magazine on the floor and picked up another.

“I’ve done a lot for you, you know.”

“Yes, you sure have. Let me think here. What have you done?” She turned a page, looked vacantly at the corner of the room. “Doctor, when did I start going to see her?  Has it been five months now?  Credit cards maxed out. Can’t forget that. Oh, and that time you borrowed my car. Amazing how my windshield cracked like that. And you had no idea how it happened. Wasn’t that about the time the knuckles on your right hand swole up?”

“I had nothing to do with that shit and you know it. I can’t help it if you’re crazy and can’t handle your money.” He took a slam of Corona. “Without me you are nothing you know.”

Flip…flip…flip.

“You’re just a dumb stupid bitch and a shitty girlfriend anyway.” He swatted the pile of male across the floor.

Flip…flip…flip.

“I’m going to leave and I won’t come back. I swear. You’ll be sorry for treating me like this.” he said.

“Do what is best for you.”

His eyes filled with tears. He slouched forward. “I love you.”

The flipping pages slowed.

“Please can’t we talk about it? Please?” he asked. Tears flowed. “I got no where to go.”

She flattened a page of the magazine with her left hand. “Well, I hope you find something.”

The tears stopped. He stood. The bottle of Corona shattered against the refrigerator door. She froze, coiled into herself. “You bitch! You are going to end up alone. You don’t have any friends. All you have is me. I hope you enjoy your pathetic lonely life after I’m gone. I know you will be calling me. I can feel it. You’ll want me back. They always do.”  The door to apartment 402 shut with a click. She was alone.

She dropped her magazine and stared unblinking for several minutes. She took in a deep breath, rose, walked to the door, threw the deadbolt and slipped on the chain lock. Next, she walked to the kitchen table and grabbed the vase with her hand. She walked onto the balcony, extended her hand over the railing and released her grip.

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Jacob – Funeral Home

 

As soon as he saw Mrs. Mattson, Jacob turned and took another drink of water from the fountain. She had walked into the funeral home about twenty minutes earlier and in an attempt to avoid talking to her Jacob had left the viewing room and hid in the restroom, hoping she wouldn’t stay long. And there she was not more than ten feet away. Looking out the corner of his eye, he deflated when he saw her approach.

“Jacob, there you are!”

Jacob took a last sip of water. “Oh, hi, Mrs. Mattson,” he commented to the second year teacher.

“Jacob, it’s good to see you. We’ve missed you at school.” She smiled. “Are you doing ok?”

Jacob wanted to yell and swear. He was sick of the questions. “Are you ok? How are you holding up?”  These people didn’t really care.  It was all talk.  Just talk.

“Yes I’m fine, Mrs. Jacob,” he answered politely.

“I’m happy to hear that.” She reached out to touch Jacob on the shoulder, paused and pulled her hand back. “Don’t worry about the work at school. You will catch up just fine. I can send some work home, if you like.  Would that be ok for you?”

“It’s ok, Mrs. Mattson. I’ll be back at school tomorrow or next day. I don’t feel much like doing anything. So doubt I’ll get any of it done anyway.”

The door to the funeral home flew open and in came a blast of cold air, a flurry of snow flakes and Jacob’s mother, who was ninety minutes late to the viewing.  At the sight, Jacob’s pale Finnish skin actually became one shade whiter. His mind raced, “Please, please, don’t come over here.”  Jacob started to walk away, “Sorry, I got to go Mrs. Mattson,” but it was too late.

Jacob’s mother stomped over, loudly asked, “Jacob honey, how are you doing?” She stood next to Jacob, put her hand on his far shoulder and pulled him with a jolt into her side. Jacob’s body stiffened.  “And who is this honey?”

Before Jacob could respond, Mrs. Mattson said, “I’m Alice Mattson,  Jacob’s teacher.”

Jacob’s mother strongly shook Alice Mattson’s hand, “Oh, nice to meet you. I’m Jacob’s mother of course.” Sylvia Saari’s head and shoulders went back as she looked at the young petite teacher.

Mrs. Mattson quietly replied, “It’s nice to meet you too.” She looked at Jacob, “Jacob is a good student and I’m sure he’ll make up the work at school quite easily, so you don’t need to be worried about that.”

Sylvia smiled, “I wasn’t.”

“Oh ok. Well…um, nice to meet you. I’m terribly sorry about your loss. Well, I better get going.”

As soon as Mrs. Mattson left, Sylvia released Jacob. She looked at Jacob asked, “What you looking so sad for?” and walked into the viewing room.

 

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Niemi – Hockey Skates

Outside the kitchen window, snow swirled in large looping loop de loops carried on by strong gusts of wind the activity mimicking the mind of Detective Niemi. The pen in his right hand tapped on a pad of paper where he had jotted notes about the case. Progress on the case had been slow, too slow. He tossed the pen onto the table. It bounced, flew off the edge and rolled under the kitchen counter.

Pushing his chair back, he stood up and strode to the spice cabinet. He opened the door, examining the upper hinge. One screw was missing and the other loose. He shut the door carefully, walked to the basement door, opened it and clicked on the light switch. As he trudged down the narrow stairway, stale, dusty air filled his lungs. Even though there was a three and a half inch clearance, he ducked on the bottom step to avoid bumping his head. He walked across the cement floor towards the cluttered work bench.

As he looked for a small Philips head screwdriver and burrowed through a mound of assorted nails and screws, he thought, “One of these days I got to organize this mess.”   Finding what he wanted, he turned and froze. David’s hockey equipment hung against the wall where his son, David, had last hung it to dry out. Niemi looked at a pair of Bauers, which he had bought for David two falls ago and David only had had the chance to wear four or five times. He paused, told him myself, “It’s time.” He carefully unhooked the skates and walked upstairs.

Sitting at the kitchen table, he used a soft damp cloth to gingerly clean the accumulation of two years of dust off the skates. The rust spotted blades would look like new with a good sharpening. He placed the clean skates on the table and then started fixing the cabinet door.

Happy with the work on the door, Niemi returned the Philips screwdriver to the workbench. Coming up the basement stairs, he heard Mrs. Niemi come into the house.  She yelled cheerfully, “I’m home.”  She walked into the kitchen and placed some bags of groceries on the kitchen table. She looked at the skates, slowly turned and asked in a dull tone, “What are you doing with David’s skates?”

It took several seconds for Niemi to respond, “I was thinking that Hanka kid could use them. He needs some new skates and it’s not like his parents can afford to buy them, so I thought we could give them to him.” He looked at his wife. “Is that ok with you?”

She walked over, gave her husband a hug, “Yes, it’s ok.”

(What feelings or emotions does this short scene generate?)

 

 

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Koira – Hockey

The slap shot came in low and hard. The goalie went down, stretched out his right pad, made the save. The rebound slid out towards David Hanka. David swung at the puck, anticipating his first goal of his young hockey career and missed. The opposing team’s center checked David off the puck, picked it up and started to skate up the ice. David chopped his stick on the ice with frustration and started skating towards the bench as hard as he could which for David, who was the slowest skater on the team, a struggle of speed. As he approached the bench Assistant Coach Niemi opened the door. David turned into a hockey stop, promptly fell and slammed hard against the boards. The echo caused Susan Miller to look to see what had happened and comment with a tone of disgust to her husband, “Is that that Hanka kid falling again? My God! Maybe they should sharpen his skates already.”  Three rows behind, David’s mother scowled at the back of Susan Miller’s head and wanted to comment, “We had them sharpened before the game bitch,” but held her tongue. After the game, David would comment to his mom, “I think my skates were too sharp, so I had a bit of trouble today. But next week I know I’ll do better.”

Detective Niemi looked down at the young hockey player laid out on the ice, “Come on David, get up, so we can get another player on the ice.” David scrambled to his feet, slipped, fell to his knees, and crawled to the open door where Niemi grabbed him by the shoulder pads to help him off the ice.

David planted his butt on the bench and through gasps of air said, “Sorry Coach, I thought I had that goal. I just missed it, but it was close!”

Niemi padded the kid on his helmet, “Keep up the good work David. Just play hard, do your best, and have fun.”

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Koira – Jacob Interview Part II

(Continuation of Detective Niemi interviewing Jacob. Again, I’m trying to show who the characters are through the dialogue and their behavior. Hopefully, you feel a connection to them.)

Niemi paused, “So after you got to your grandfather’s what did you do?”

Jacob’s head dropped further. Detective Niemi had to lean forward hear Jacob’s response, “Went into the house.”

“So, was your grandfather there when you went inside?”

“No.”

“Ok,” Niemi focused on keeping his voice calm, friendly, relaxed, “So, then what time did you get to Mrs. Tapio’s?”

The boy fidgeted, shrugged his small thin shoulders.

Niemi continued, “It was quite a bit later, wasn’t it? Like about what time?” Niemi paused, “Jacob, I already have an idea, but I need to confirm it with you, ok?”

Jacob mumbled.  Niemi asked, “What was that Jacob?”

Jacob stood mute. Penn Saari, spoke up, “He said four thirty.”

“Is that right Jacob? Four thirty?”

The boy nodded, wiped a hand under his right eye.

A revelation hit Niemi, “Jacob, I think I understand. You got there about 1:30, right? And you went into the house, and I’m not sure, what? You watched TV? Maybe played some video games? Right? And you didn’t go look for your grandfather until later say like 4:00. Now, you’re thinking that if you had gone earlier, you might have found him and he would still be alive? Am I right Jacob?”

Jacob nodded slightly.

“Jacob, listen, ok? It wouldn’t have mattered. Your grandfather was already gone by 1:00, so it wouldn’t have mattered what time you looked for him. So, it’s ok.”

Jacob raised his head and looked with his large brown eyes into Detective Niemi’s.

 

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Koria – Det Niemi – Jacob Interview

(Wanting to show the dynamic between the family members.)

Jacob came into the kitchen, walked to where his dad was seated, leaned his hip up against his dad, and placed his right on the back of the chair.

“Hi Jacob, you remember me, Detective Niemi?” Turning and nodding towards Moilanen Niemi continued, “And this is Trooper Moilanen.”

Jacob nodded his head and shifted more of his weight into his dad’s shoulder. Sylvia Saari, Jacob’s mother, placed her hand on her son’s shoulder and said, “It’s ok honey.” Jacob turned his head slightly towards his mother, glared at her out of the corner of his eye and shrugged her hand away.

“Jacob, I need to ask you questions regarding other day, ok?” Niemi waited for Jacob to say something, but the boy stood silent. “First, what time did you get to your grandfather’s?”

Jacob studied the floor, “I don’t know.”

Penn Saari, Jacob’s father said, “Sure you do. Go ahead.”

Jacob mumbled, “Like around one thirty.”

“And when you got to your grandfather’s what did you do?”

Jacob shrugged.

Penn Saari softly spoke, “Jacob, I know this isn’t easy, but you need to answer the questions. Would you prefer to talk to the detective alone?”

Jacob replied, “No,” and turned around to look at his mother who was leaning against the kitchen sink.

Penn Saari turned to his wife, “Sylvia, do you mind if we talk to the Detective alone?”

Sylvia stood upright, pulled her shoulders back, glared at the back of Jacob’s head, and walked out of the kitchen. Several seconds later there was the slam of a door

Penn Saari looked at Niemi, “Go ahead.”

 

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Koira – Niemi Investigates Meth Lab

(Today, I tried to include a bit of humor in the scene. Does it work?)

Detective Niemi whispered to Trooper Moilanen, “I’m going to see if I can get a bit closer to the house.”  Moilanen nodded. Niemi walked in a low crouch along the creek bed that ran along the backside of the property. As he got closer to the house, he stopped to inventory a flow of garbage that cascaded down the hillside. Empty containers of paint thinner, antifreeze and drain cleaner were mixed with plastic soda bottles and old tubing. He breathed in deeply and as he suspected smelled the odor of sulfur, rotten eggs.

At the top of the gulley, Niemi eyed a cluster of ever greens that would make good cover for a close view of the backyard and the house. He crawled military style up the hill, dreading the idea of what Mrs. Niemi would say when she took a look at his dirty clothes.  Stopping short of the top, he peered through the thick cover of branches. There was a light on in the house and some movement in a window.  There was a murmur of voices, but Niemi couldn’t make out what was being said. He scanned the surroundings and the house, “Damnit, security cameras. I should have considered that!” He looked overhead to see if there were any lines running into the woods.  From his viewpoint he didn’t see any, but that didn’t mean there weren’t any.

Reconnaissance complete, Niemi started to snake back down the hill, when he heard a door open and footsteps.  The steps approached the hill. He rolled onto his left side and placed his right hand on his weapon.  An empty bleach bottle flew into the gulley and landed with an empty sound. Several more containers followed.  Niemi cringed as the footsteps moved closer to his cover. He held himself rigid and focused on breathing slow and deep. He heard what sounded like a zipper and then heard a flow of water hitting several inches away. Niemi cringed when some of the warm liquid landed on his right arm and shoulder.

 

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Koira – Mrs. Tapio Interview

(Please comment: What does this short scene reveal to you?)

Formalities over, Detective Niemi watched Margaret Tapio for several seconds before asking, “Did you happen to see anyone or anything yesterday?”

Margaret bit into the edge of a Vanilla wafer, took a sip of coffee and replied, “No, not really. I mean no, I didn’t see anything. You know anything of interest to you.”

“So, you saw something then?” Niemi inquired

Margaret focused on the cotton tablecloth as she scraped at a piece of embedded red candle wax, “No, I didn’t see anything. All I know is that Jacob came running over to tell me his grandfather had been shot. That’s all I know.”

Niemi caught Trooper Stephanie Miller’s eye, nodded his head a fraction.

Trooper Miller commented, “I’m sure it was quite a shock to you. It’s so quiet out there. You don’t expect something like that to happen, do you?”

Margaret looked at the trooper, “No, you don’t, but then again every year you hear about someone getting shot during hunting season. People just don’t think. I stay away from the woods, this time of year. It’s just not safe.”

“Were you close to Mr. Saari?” continued Miller.

“No, not close, but he was a good neighbor. We’ve lived across the road from each other for years. When my husband passed, he just started taking care of the lawn, plowing my driveway, helping out when I needed some handy work done.” Margaret paused, “I just don’t know what I’m going to do now.”

Trooper Miller paused for a count of four and then asked, “So yesterday, you were home all day, right?”

“Yes, I was. Well, not really all day. I did go up the road for a walk early in the morning.”

“And you didn’t see anyone or anything? Would you have noticed?”

Margaret shifted in her chair, looked out the kitchen window, “Like I told the Detective, I didn’t see anything. I just keep to myself.”

Having left Margaret Tapio’s, Miller was backing out of the driveway when she swore and hit the brakes hard. Sheriff Saari, who had pulled in behind the State car, hopped out of his vehicle and walked up to Miller’s window.  Miller lowered the window several inches. Sheriff Saari leaned on the State car, hands wide and chirped, “Hey Troop, Detective. So did old lady Tapio have anything to say?” He smirked, “Well, I’m sure she had plenty to say, but anything of interest?”

Niemi shook his head slowly, “No, nothing of interest.”

Saari nodded, “I didn’t expect so.” He looked around. “Well, I best be going. Was out riding around to see if I spotted anyone didn’t belong, but it’s been quiet out here. Always is.”  Saari leaned in closer, stared at Niemi, “Well, if Tapio happens to remember something, you keep me informed, ok?”

“Niemi nodded. “Sure thing Sheriff.”

As they drove off Miller asked, “Why do you put up with him?”

Niemi just sat quietly looking out the passenger window.

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The Chord – Package

A tan sheet snapped loudly at its apex before falling to quietly hang from the green cabled clothesline. Working in the small garden, Kirsti placed some green zebra and Cherokee purple tomatoes into a small bowl. The fresh tomatoes from the garden would go well on a salad with a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch. She looked up to see where Patton was, just in time to see him grab the sheet in mid ascent and whip it back and forth with what to Patton was a ferocious growl, but resembled more of a sputtering lawn mower. “Patton! Stop that right now!!” Kirsti screamed across the yard. Patton released in mid whip and hung his head. It had not been the first time he had been scolded that morning. Kirsti snapped, “I don’t need this additional headache. I wish David had asked before getting you!”

Kirsti finished in the garden and started to walk towards the house. Patton, who had been busy chewing on an old shoe, snapped to attention and raced to the corner of the house. He let out a high pitched help and disappeared to the front of the house. Kirsti heard Karl Yzerman’s voice, “Patton you’ve really grown!”

Kirsti rounded the corner of the house to see Patton frolicking around Karl’s legs, as the UPS driver playfully pushed the puppy from side to side. Karl cooed, “You remember me, Patton? Huh? You remember Karl?”

Karl handed Kirsti a small package and asked, “Is David around? Don’t see his truck.”

“He’s down in Escanaba for a few days for work, but he’ll be back for the weekend,” Kirsti stoically replied.

Karl nodded, “Well Kathy and I were thinking the four of us should get together. Go for a steak this weekend?” He paused and added, “Kids are driving Kathy crazy at home.”

Kirsti nodded politely, “Well sure, I’ll ask David when he gets back,” knowing full well she wouldn’t ask. Not that she didn’t like Karl and Kathy, but for now her preference was to stay home.

Karl stated a bit over enthusiastically, “Sounds good! I’ll let Kathy know. Well, got a lot of deliveries, so off I go. You have a great week.” Karl turned, hesitated, “Hang in there.”

Kirsti politely replied, “Thanks.”

As Karl backed out onto County Road A44, he yelled out the driver window, “Oh yeah, forgot to give you the weather report! Supposed to be ninety’s over the weekend and next week up to one hundred! Drink lots of fluids. You too Patton.”

Kirsti waved to acknowledge she had heard. “Great,” she thought. Heat and humidity weren’t here friends. They gave her headaches and made her weak and light headed. To top it off, they still didn’t have air conditioning; although, David had promised this was the year they would put it in. It was not going to be a fun time.

 

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Stalker – Mrs. Flaviola

Dirk King, model looks, gymnastics build, dressed in a fashionable pair of jeans and shirt, stepped in front of the automatic doors of Greenway Grocery just as Josephine Flaviola reached the exit. As the doors opened, Dirk displayed his straight white teeth, and with a slight nod said, “Well, good morning! How are you today?”

Grey haired, Mrs. Flaviola, flattered that such a good looking young man should pay attention to her, slightly blushed. “Well thank you. Aren’t you just a nice, polite, young man.”

Dirk smiled, “It’s just the way I am. God warms my heart, so I try to warm the hearts of others. Isn’t that what Jesus wants us to do? To spread friendship and love?”

“Well, yes, yes. Of course he does.”  As Mrs. Flaviola continued towards her car she thought, “What a nice church going boy.”

Dirk asked, “Would you like some help getting your groceries to your car?”

Mrs. Flaviola, generally independent, started to reply in the negative, but found herself, saying, “Well thank you that would be greatly appreciated. If you could just help me get them into the trunk that would be so nice of you.”

Dirk introduced himself, “Hi, I’m John Kovar.” And then he started in on his story, “I moved here a few weeks ago from New Jersey and I’ve been looking for a job, but so far I haven’t had much luck. I’m a little stressed because my money is running out, but I’ve been praying and I know God will answer my prayers. You know, I did think about asking my mom to send me moeny, but she has it hard. Dad was killed in a car accident several years ago and she’s got to take care of my three younger siblings. Once I do get that job, I’m going to send her what I can to help out.”

Mrs. Flaviola listened intently to John’s story and didn’t notice that Dirk walked directly to her car. She felt a bit embarrassed as she opened the trunk and quickly brushed the dust off the bumper sticker, “The Lord is my Strength and My Shield – Psalms 28”.

Dirk placed the groceries carefully into the trunk of the red four door. “Well, that’s all your groceries. I’ll take your cart back for you.  Good bless you.”

“God bless you too John.” Mrs. Flaviola watched as the young man walked away. She opened her purse.  “John, wait a second. Would twenty dollars help?” she asked.

Dirk turned around, “Yes, it would but I hate to take it from you, but it surely would help. I haven’t had much to eat for a couple days.”

“Go ahead dear, take it.”

Dirk approached, tentatively reached for the bill, “Well, I hate to ask, but could you spare forty?”

Mrs. Flaviola hesitated, but the smile, the warmth of this young man, convinced her that forty dollars was reasonable.  “Well sure dear. I can give you forty dollars.”

“God bless you!”

As Mrs. Flaviola drove away, she hummed to herself. She felt good, happy to have been able to help John.

As Dirk swaggered into the store, he reached into his pocket, pulled out a number of folded bills and added the two twenties to it. He calculated the new total. Two hundred and twenty. It was a good day.

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