Mystery and Crime Fiction posted January 27, 2018


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A murder mystery, can they solve it? (2550 Words)

The Bloody Valentine

by Daniel Wood


The author has placed a warning on this post for violence.

It was the day before Valentine’s Day when the call came in. It was also Friday the 13th. I’m not superstitious but whenever the thirteenth day of the month falls on a Friday, people get weird. And sometimes, things do get a little crazy; but I look at it like it is nothing other than the start of the weekend. My name is Frank, Frank Clawson, and I’m a homicide detective for the city of Roark.

The call directed my partner, George McMahon, and me to the south side of town where the body of a man was found. It took us about twenty minutes to arrive on the scene. Patrol officers were finishing up securing the scene to keep the spectators back. Officer Enrique Sanchez greeted us. He was the first officer on scene. He told us a mother and her daughter discovered the body as they were leaving a women’s department store. George and I looked at the victim. He was laying face down, turned slightly on his right side. He wore a light jacket, unzipped, jeans and a t-shirt. He was young. The officer approached us.

“White male, approximately 20 years of age, clean cut. About five-foot-eight, 160 pounds. Stabbed in the chest six times and his wallet is missing. Looks like the wounds hit him in the heart.”

I pulled a pair of latex gloves from my jacket pocket. I bent down and lifted the jacket to examine the wounds. The slits in the man’s shirt were about a half-inch in width. “Wasn’t a lock-back or hunting knife. Might have been a switchblade.” I’d seen enough and removed my gloves. “Where’s the women who found him?"

Enrique led us to where the two women were sitting on a street bench. After exchanging introductions, I asked a few questions.

“Mrs. Gadson, how long were you and your daughter in the store shopping?”

Wiping her nose with a tissue, she answered, “I’m not sure, maybe 20 or 30 minutes.”

“Did you see anyone when you came out of the store?”

“No, well, maybe, I’m not sure.”

“How about you miss, did you see anyone or anything out of the ordinary as you came out of the store?”

“No sir.”

“What about before entering the store, were there people out here on the street? Did you happen to see this man standing out here?” I pointed to the corpse.

The daughter answered, “There were a few people on the street, walking. I don’t think the dead man was out here then.”

“Mrs. Gadson, this is my card. If you remember anything, anything at all, please call me.”

I left the two ladies and walked back toward the crime scene.

“Broad daylight, somebody walks up and knifes this dude, and no one sees anything?” I looked up and down the street. Then, I addressed Enrique, “You find anything else, distinguishing marks, tattoos, or anything?”

“No, sir, no marks, but I did find this near him.” The officer handed me a plastic bag containing an envelope.

“What’s this?” I pulled another pair of gloves from my pocket before taking the bag. “Did you look at it?”

“No, I used tweezers to pick it up and put it straight in the evidence bag.”

I could see there was a little blood on the outside of the envelope. Being careful not to disturb any of the blood, I pulled the envelope from the bag. I noticed the blood had been smeared somewhat, and spread onto the inside of the unsealed flap. There was a card inside, which had a small smear of blood on it also. “You sure you didn’t touch the envelope, officer?”

“No sir, I didn’t touch it. I saw it and grabbed the tweezers from my kit first thing.”

With care, I removed the card from the envelope and opened it. I read it out loud.


“I Promise That I'll Make You Feel Wanted, Loved, And Needed. Every Single Day.
Happy Valentine’s Day. Love Jimmy.”

“So, there you have it, our first clue. A bloody valentine, and signed by Jimmy.”

George spoke up, “So you think Jimmy is our vic?”

“More than likely.” My brain started working immediately. “So how did the blood get smeared on the envelope? If our victim gets stabbed and falls forward . . . it doesn’t make sense.”

George squats down near the body, “You think the perp could have grabbed it from him?”

“What are you thinking, George, that maybe we got a jealous boyfriend mixed up in this?”

“It’s possible. The guy sees Jimmy, who may have had the valentine in his hand. They exchange a few heated words and Jimmy ends up dead.”

There were a lot of possibilities. I needed to think.
Why would Jimmy be carrying the card, IF he was carrying the card? The card was already signed, had he just bought the card or did he already have it and on his way to deliver it? Why was the blood smeared on the envelope?

“Hey, Enrique, did you take photos before picking up the envelope?”

“Yes sir, I photographed the entire area, just like they taught us in the academy.”

“Did you find an ink pen on the vic?”

“No sir, no ink pen or pencil, nothing.”

George and I gave the okay to have the body loaded into the ambulance. We thanked Enrique for his good work and walked away from the scene.

“Come on George, let’s start door to door and see if we can find anyone who saw something. You go that way, and I’ll go this way.”

An hour or so had passed. I was coming up the street towards where the body had lain. I saw George approaching as well. I yelled out, “What a ya say we grab a cup of coffee and share notes?”

“Sounds good. There’s a place around the corner from here. I’ll drive.”

I usually do all the driving and George is always wanting to drive. This time, I didn’t feel like going into our routine of jabbing one another about who should drive. George grinned a little when he saw I didn’t argue as I climbed in on the passenger side.

After leaving the coffee shop, we headed back to the station. I gave the envelope to the crime lab to check for prints and analyze the blood on it. George got a couple of leads from his questioning of the business owners and other shoppers. One person had reported seeing a kid on a bicycle going fast down the sidewalk, almost running over them.

    *     *     *

Two days had passed since we started our investigation of the murder. Our victim was identified as Jimmy Langworthy. He was a local kid, from a nice family with a younger brother and sister. We had also learned that Jimmy was your everyday, good kid. It was a real shame. George and I were on our way to speak with Priscilla Johncock, Jimmy’s girlfriend. She was a friend of Jimmy’s sister, Alice.

Our visit with Priscilla turned out to be very helpful. She told us there was a group of Hispanics that had bothered Jimmy and her earlier in the week when they were in the park. She said they were yelling out obscenities and Jimmy was getting real mad. Jimmy had yelled back at them a couple times. Then, she said the four of them started to walk towards them, so she and Jimmy hurried and jumped in Jimmy’s car and left. When I asked if any of the boys were riding a bicycle, Priscilla said, “Yes, the taller one. The one who was doing most of the talking.”

George and I arranged for a meeting with Enrique. I asked if he knew about the group of boys Priscilla had described. Over coffee and doughnuts, Enrique gave us the details of the Hispanic residents of Roark. Most lived on the south side and they were not having any trouble with gangs. He explained there were the usual groups of kids that would hang out. Sometimes there would be shoplifting complaints, but nothing serious like stabbings and shootings. I asked if he ever noticed a group of four that hung out, with one of them riding a bicycle.

Enrique thought for a bit, “You know, yes, I have seen a group like that. I recall answering a couple of complaints about kids raiding people’s gardens. I almost caught them once, but they scattered like flies, and one of them was on a bicycle.”

“Well, we’ve got nothing that puts them downtown a couple of days ago.”
What am I missing here?
“Enrique, do me a favor. Keep an eye on them boys for a few days. And if you see any of them by themselves, away from the others, pick ‘em up and put a little pressure on them. Know what I mean?”

“Yes sir,” he was smiling, “I know what you mean.”

My phone rang, it was the crime lab. “Clawson here. Yes. That’s good to hear, thank you.”

“Forensics pulled a couple prints from the envelope and valentine. They said they also got a partial in the smeared blood.”

Enrique interrupted and asked, “What’s special about a partial in the smeared blood?”

I didn’t mind explaining, it was good news. “There were two sets of prints identified on the envelope and card. One set belongs to the victim, the other set is most likely our perp.” George and Enrique were both attuned to my explanation. I continued, “There was enough of the bloody print recovered to match it to the other two unknown prints. This tells me, the perp, our killer, handled this valentine after Jimmy was stabbed.”

“What a ya thinking, Frank?”

“Forensics did not get a match in the system, so our perp has not been arrested before. We’ve got to find a match to that print.” I paused for a minute, deep in thought. George and Enrique waited patiently.

“Alright, I’ve got an idea. I don’t know about you guys, but my prime suspect is the Mexican kid on the bike. We’ve got to get a sample of his fingerprints.”

“Frank?” George knew I was up to something. “What you got in mind boss?”

“I say we stake out the kid on the bike. We watch his every move, especially whatever he touches. Enrique, what do you think about questioning the boys about another garden complaint?"

“But I don’t have a complaint.”

“They don’t know that. They seem to like hanging out at that park Priscilla was talking about. Do you know where that is?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, then, here’s what we’re going to do.”

    *     *     *

George and I sat in the car, parked on the far side of the park across a small creek. George was in the passenger seat watching through a pair of binoculars. Our suspects were hanging out by a merry-go-round and the monkey bars. We saw a squad car approaching from the left. Enrique parked and stepped out of the car.

“Hey boys, how’s it going?” Enrique popped the top of his soda and took a drink.

None of the kids said anything, they stood fast, staring back at Enrique.

“Alright, you don’t want to talk. Well, I’ll tell you. It’s been a little while since I’ve had to chase you guys down for raiding Mrs. Rodriquez’s garden. She’s called in another complaint.”

“We ain’t been in no one’s garden,” snapped the boy on the bike. “You ain’t got nothin’ on us.” The boy turned his bike, preparing to leave.

“Hold on a minute, I am not accusing you guys of anything. And no, I do not have anything on you. How about a peace offering? Would you guys like a Coke? They're ice cold.”

The boys hesitated, the smallest one, maybe 10 years old, looked over at the kid on the bike, then replied. “Sure, I’ll have one.”

Enrique walked to his car and pulled out his little cooler. Walking back to the boys he introduced himself. “I’m officer Enrique Sanchez.” He opened the cooler and handed it to the boys. “What’s your names.” The smallest boy was the first to answer.

“I’m Juan Pablo.” He turned and looked at the kid on the bike again.

“I’m Carlos,” answered the next to smallest, maybe 12.

“Ricardo,” also about 12.

Enrique took another sip from his soda, and looked at the boy on the bike, who was about 16.

“Alarico. My name is Alarico Hernandez.”

“That’s an interesting name, Alarico.” Enrique finished off his soda and put the empty back in the cooler.

“It means, all powerful; one who is a ruler of all.”

“Are you powerful, Alarico?” Enrique was stalling now, waiting for the boys to finish their drinks.

“Powerful enough.”

“So, if you boys are not the ones raiding Mrs. Rodriguez’s garden, who do you think it might be?”

“We’re not rats,” spat Alarico.

“Okay, okay. Can you tell me if you have seen another group of boys around the neighborhood? Are there some new kids?”

Alarico wasn’t loosening up much, “No, I ain't seen any new kids around.”

Juan and Ricardo finished their drinks and threw them in the cooler.

“Me neither,” Carlos added, as he walked up and placed his can in the cooler. “I ain't seen nobody.”

“Okay guys, it’s been good meeting you.” Enrique bent and picked up the cooler. He started towards his squad car, when Alarico chimed in, “Hey, you forgot something.”

“Why thank you. I appreciate you boys helping to keep the park clean.” Enrique watched Alarico place his can in the corner of the cooler, next to the only unopened can of soda.

Enrique was grinning from ear to ear as he left the park. He met up with Frank and George back at the coffee shop as they had planned. The detectives congratulated Enrique on a job well done. The cans would go to forensics to see if they can match any fingerprints to the envelope and valentine.

It took a couple of days for the results to come back. As the detectives had hoped, they had a match on the fingerprints. Frank called Enrique and gave him the good news.

The detectives walked up the front steps of the Hernandez home and knocked on the door. A small Hispanic woman answered the door. “May I help you?”

“Good evening, I’m detective Clawson and this is my partner, detective McMahon. Could we speak with Alarico, please?”

“Alarico, usted tiene visitants.” (you have visitors).

Alarico came to the front door, and as soon as he saw us, took off running back into the house. I stepped inside the front door and waited, George headed toward the back of the house.

“Let me go, I didn’t do anything. Let me go.” Enrique had been waiting by the back door and tripped up Alarico as he ran out the back. Enrique placed the handcuffs on Alarico.

Enrique and George helped Alarico to his feet. George informed Alarico he was under arrest for murder, and then read him his rights.

On the trip back to the station, no one said a word until they were about to pull into the back of the jail. Alarico spoke up and asked, “So how did you figure it out?”


Frank looked in the rearview mirror, into the eyes of Alarico. “The bloody valentine.”
 

 


Bloody Valentine contest entry

Recognized


vic - short for victim
perp - perpetrator

I know this story is a little long but I wanted to practice my writing about crime and mystery. Thank you to all for taking the time to read it.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.


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© Copyright 2018. Daniel Wood All rights reserved.
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