Mystery and Crime Fiction posted August 18, 2013 Chapters:  ...42 43 -44- 45... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Is Jana bewitched?

A chapter in the book Along the Jericho Road

Thawichasa Moon

by Writingfundimension

Previously: Two elderly members of St. Matilde's Catholic Church have been murdered. Since one of the murdered victims has been discovered on the nearby Lakota reservation, the FBI has become involved.  Part of the team is an old flame of Detective Jana Burke, FBI profiler Dresden Stredwick, III. His specialty is cult murders. The presence of the FBI is greeted with little enthusiasm and much suspicion. Jana Burke decides to go for broke and confide her unorthodox suspicions with her former lover.


Detective Jana Burke pressed her fingertip into the space between her eyebrows and moved it to the outside edges of her nostrils. She completed five rounds, holding each point for five seconds. Eyes closed, she breathed deep into her abdomen to dispel her fatigue. An old, familiar face popped into her mind.

Jana first learned of Chinese energy medicine when she lived in Los Angeles. She'd suffered from migraine headaches since puberty, and was concerned about their effect on her ability to hold down a law enforcement position. Her roommate at the time, May Siu, was a second generation Chinese-American.

During a debilitating episode of head pain, Jana lay in her darkened bedroom, unaware her moans carried to the apartment's living room. May entered without knocking. She pleaded with her roommate to accompany her to the office of a well-known Chinese doctor. Desperate for relief, Jana acquiesced.

Cars and motorbikes lined the street in front of Doctor Kim Suen's office. The front entry was filled with people sitting on both furniture and floor. Jana groaned, but May was driving. She had no choice but to wait.

When it was her turn, she panicked. What if something this guy does makes it worse?

Anticipating the situation, May grabbed Jana's arm and pulled her along a narrow hallway and into a small room, which was surprisingly cozy. Decorated screens formed a triangle at the head of a massage table. Along one wall was a rosewood table. Resting atop it was a marble statue of a white-robed woman seated in the lotus position. Lavender day lilies in a jade vase cast a soft shadow over the face of the statue.

May helped her onto the table as Dr. Suen entered the room. Even in her bleary-eyed state, the man's vigor was palpable. He approached the table, and, in total silence, studied his patient from head to toe. He extended his right hand and touched the tip of Jana's nose.

"The governing meridian is reversed. You are experiencing headaches, yes?"

Jana lifted her head and looked at May. "You told him, didn't you?"

"I did no such thing. I know how close-mouthed you are about yourself. Dr. Suen senses energy imbalances, just like your Uncle Tony, Jana."

"The Western mind has yet to grasp the importance of the body's electrical impulses," Dr. Suen continued. "In your case, the line of energy that runs from your waist, up your spine and across the top of your head is plugged, to use a term you Americans can understand." His lopsided grin offset his somber tone. "This is a serious situation that can lead to a number of problems ranging from organ dysfunction to emotional imbalance."

"Both my mother and grandmother have endured migraine headaches for years," Jana reasoned. "Medication would help, but I don't have any insurance to cover it."

"Drugs mask, they do not cure." He signaled for May to help Jana sit up. "I'm going to use my own Ki to unblock your energy. By the time you leave here, your headache will have subsided."

As promised, Jana was pain free and clear-headed by the time she reached her apartment. It was an amazing experience that left a lasting impression.

Sitting at her desk, cross-country and five years removed from that first meeting, Jana silently thanked May and Dr. Suen for opening her mind to the body's natural healing ability. On returning to the Lakota reservation to live with her Uncle Tony, they had many discussions about the kinship of the Lakota and Chinese ways of healing. As fascinating as the topic was,  she loved being a detective too much to follow in her uncle's footsteps as Tribal healer.

This is not the time to deal with old wounds. She closed her laptop and stood up. Time for a break and supper. I can't afford to lose more weight.


She locked the door of the office assigned to her for the duration of the manhunt. On her way to the locker room, she checked to see if any other Task Force members were present. It was a relief to find they were elsewhere -- eating alone never bothered Jana, especially after a volatile day. Her partner wouldn't look at her, let alone speak to her, and she'd no idea where he'd gone. Rick's jealousy was becoming a big problem - one that needed addressing if their partnership was to continue.

Stowing her gear in the locker, Jana's mind was on the Chianti and lasagna she favored at Gypsy's Trattoria. She turned into the sudden, sweet smell of floral cologne. Dresden Stredwick III stepped into view.

"Jana, at last we're alone."

"I see you still favor those girly colognes, Dred."

"Aw, do you always have to bust my balls, Jana? I'm not the man you remember." He grinned. "I've grown up despite your conviction that hell would freeze over first."

"That remains to be seen." Jana tried to brush past him, but he grabbed her shoulder and spun her back around. A steady, strong fire smoldered in his eyes, and an old desire lassoed her heart. He pulled her into a crushing embrace and hungrily probed her mouth. Jana pressed for release despite the urge to surrender.

The FBI profiler dropped his arms and stepped back. "I'm sorry. That was out of line. It's just... seeing you again... I thought I'd gotten over you, Jana. Am I crazy to think that fate has brought us together for a reason?" He jammed his fists in his pocket as if to keep from reaching for her.

"Fate has brought us together, Dred, to stop a maniac from wreaking more havoc on innocent souls and a community I've grown to love. I don't know if there's a second chance waiting for us, but that's not what's important right here, right now."

Sadness stared back at her. This is the man I thought was a cold-hearted narcissist? The job's changed him. Hell, it changes us all.

Jana made an impulsive offer. "I'm on my way to Banger's Pub. If you have no plans, I'd like for you to join me." Her throat tightened at the answering smile. Dresden Stredwick looked a decade younger when he smiled.

"I'd really enjoy that, Jana."

She shook her finger and tried for stern. "This is not, I repeat, not a date, Dred. I've always valued your instincts, if not your judgment, and I've got some feelings about this case that I haven't felt comfortable sharing with anyone on the Task Force. There's a dimension to it  that needs serious consideration."

"You've been ridiculed for your supernatural leanings, Jana, but I always respected that part of your emotional make-up. In fact, the FBI has been known to employ the services of mediums. All hush-hush, of course. Last year we closed a cold case due to the visions of a remarkable old lady from North Carolina. She was as thrilled as we were to get a serial rapist off the streets.

"I don't know if I'm sensing the supernatural or a complete amorality on the part of the killer. Either way, I'd need to back up any assertions with facts. That's where your famous talents come in."

He patted his heart. "Useful is good, for now."

Jana grabbed her carryall and led him through the rear entrance. "I don't want to be seen leaving together." She took a pad from her bag, scribbled directions and handed it to him. "I have to stop at the ATM, so you go on ahead and get us a table."

Snapping a two-finger salute, he quipped, "Yes, sir." Jana stuck out her tongue and turned her back on him.

Dred watched her approach her vehicle for the pure pleasure it gave him. Suddenly a thick grey mist passed behind her, blotting out her figure. He blinked to clear his vision, and it was gone. Remaining was a deep, uneasy feeling that he'd just witnessed the extraordinary.

Strange. He zipped up his jacket against a bone-deep cold and headed for his own car. Ghosts, pedophilia, a messy soup of clues... what the hell is coming next?


Ki: Chi - Life Force
Meridians: Any of the pathways along with the body's vital energy flows according to the theory behind acupuncture.

Cast of characters:
Detective Jana Burke: Homicide detective with the Granite Mountain Sheriff's department.
Detective Rick Morales: Homicide detective and Jana Burke's partner.
Dresden Stredwick, III: Famous FBI profiler.

Thawichasa: Sioux for girlfriend

A big thanks to donkeyoatey for his fantastic accompanying artwork.
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