tagNon-EroticSafe Room Ch. 01

Safe Room Ch. 01


This story is part of an ongoing series. The chronological order of my stories is now listed in WifeWatchman's biography.

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constructive criticism is very much appreciated, and I encourage feedback for ideas.

This story contains graphic scenes, language and actions that might be extremely offensive to some people. These scenes, words and actions are used only for the literary purposes of this story. The author does not condone murder, racial language, violence, rape or violence against women, and any depictions of any of these in this story should not be construed as acceptance of the above.

Part 1 - Prologue

"This is Bettina Wurtzburg, KXTC Channel Two News!" shouted the redheaded reporterette at 7:00am, Wednesday May 3d, from in front of the State Office Building. "Channel Two News has learned that the group 'Citizens For Police Accountability' is filing a lawsuit against State Governor Val Jared, citing the Governor's call to crack down upon Undocumented Workers! As part of the lawsuit, CFPA spokespersons Jay Swenson and Ken Eidex stated that the Governor is illegally mis-spending State funds to unlawfully persecute undocumented workers!"

Bettina went on: "As part of the Budget bill, the State Legislature assigned money to be used for non-specific law enforcement activities, and the Governor has broad discretion to allocate those funds. However, the budget does not go into effect until July 1st, and the CFPA is claiming that the Governor is using this year's budget money to crack down on immigrant families."

"And in other news," said Bettina, "the same CFPA has filed a complaint with the Town & County Inspector General's Office and the State Office of Ethics and Review, demanding an investigation of the Richard Ferrell arrest. Police say they found Mr. Ferrell with his back broken, and Ferrell's partner Benny Brighton, who was arrested at the scene, stated that masked gunmen attacked them and injured Mr. Ferrell. But the CFPA is claiming that the Police intentionally injured Mr. Ferrell in retaliation for Mr. Ferrell's attack on SBI Crime Lab Director Tanya Perlman, whom the Police inducted into their Orange Order honorary last December. The CFPA wants a full and independent investigation of the incident."

"And finally," said Bettina, "the musical trio of Jasmine Nix, Big Ice, and local resident T-Square have announced that their new collaborative album will be released in June, after several delays. Ms. Nix says the album is a musical anthem of protest against Police abuse of People of Color..."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"I suppose we cannot talk about any of that, sir." said Theo Washington as we drank coffee and listened to Bettina's agenda-driven newscast.

"No." I said. "What you say in private, while at lunch, off-duty, is your business. But while on duty and in on-duty settings, no more political discussions or stating of political opinions. I hate it, too, but that's the way it is, and has to be."

By now, word had gotten around about Commander Harlow's formal complaint, her attempt to pull rank to verbally attack Detective Parker, and the Chief's edict against further political discussions. The Detectives had also heard of Harlow's pressuring Janice Holloway to break up with Teddy, and there had been some whispered remarks of 'Brownlee's Bitch' behind Della's back... which Your Iron Crowbar took no measures to stop.

"I have a question, sir." said Sergeant Rudistan, most mischievously. "Does discussion of the Police Boxing Matches come under the realm of politics?" Laughter erupted.

"Depends upon the amount of money being bet." I replied with a grin, despite my mental pain at being unable to participate in said Matches.

"In a related question," said Cindy Ross, "is it political to discuss how badly the Bulldogs are going to beat the Wildcats this Fall?" That got her the 'Look of Iron' from my gray eyes.

"It's not political." I replied. "But stating a premise like that borders upon 'stupid'." A chorus of 'ooooo's broke out.

"Vee shall seee." replied Cindy. "You've lost your quarterback, your entire offensive line, half your defensive starters. If you didn't have Theo's cousin Jamaal, you'd look like State Tech's juvie team."

"Dayum, Captain." I said. "What's that in your coffee cup? Prune juice?" The room erupted into laughter. That was Iron Crowbar 1, Green Crowbar 0.

"She better start drinking prune juice." said a voice, which became Captain Teresa Croyle as she came into the room. "Police Boxing Matches begin this weekend, and she's going to be puckering in fear as her name comes closer and closer... to mine."

"Dayum!" I said. "What is in this coffee? Who made the coffee this morning?"

"You did, sir!" said Joanne Warner. "But some people chose to drink the kool-aid, instead, and will find that out when they face me in the ring!"

"Bring. It. On." said Vice Detective Roy McGhillie.

I just shook my head and said "God! how I wish I could get into that ring and take you all down..."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

After watching Priya Ajmani's broadcast at 8:00am, a carbon copy of Bettina's, but delivered by the extremely gorgeous Indian reporterette, we sat down in my office for the 'Angels' meeting.

"Okay," I said, "is there anything going on Saturday?" Teresa and Cindy both looked at me, knowing I was referring to the opening of the Police Boxing Matches.

"Nothing important, sir." said Teresa, catching on. "Just Captain Ross's demise."

"Whatever you're smoking, keep on smoking it." Cindy replied. I was chuckling at them; they were both serious, though I knew their banter was more friendly than it looked.

"Okay, let's get down to business." I said. "What's going on?"

"No weekend training because of the Matches." said Teresa. "But they've been training hard for a few months now, so the break will be welcome for them. Patrols have been pretty routine. Tickets are being issued at normal rates. That'll go down in the summer because all the students will go home. I've submitted a plan in the case of another big power failure; it's about the same as our general emergency plan, but we're going to make sure the Hospital gets any help we can give them, and we'll watch over potential criminal targets like banks."

"Nothing new in MCD nor Vice." said Cindy. "Benny Brighton didn't have much at all on any drug operations into the County; I don't think he's a normal drug perp. Ferrell took the Fifth when we went to interview him in the Hospital. They transferred him to City Hospital yesterday."

"Ask 'Coldiron' to have his people contact their C.I.s and such," I said, "and see if there are any rumors of unrest in the 'People of Color' districts. I've heard some rumors of groundwork being laid for that. I might also add that the announcement of this anti-Police album and it's projected June date are significant." Cindy nodded and made notes."

"By the way," I said. "Let's talk morale. How are things with Teddy Parker?"

"He's down, but okay." said Cindy. "He has made no attempt to talk with Janice, nor she him, at least not here at the Station. I am hearing some talk the people are pissed off at Commander Harlow for pressuring Janice to break up with Teddy."

"Let me ask you guys, off the record..." I said. "Is Holloway so afraid of Harlow that she wouldn't stand up to her over a boyfriend? If the Chief or Malone or anyone had tried to make me break up with Laura while we were dating, I'd have ripped their heads off. And if I tried to tell you, Cindy, to not date Callie, or you, Teresa to not date Todd... you'd be getting plenty of practice for the Boxing Matches."

"And you would be in the Hospital next to Ferrell with a much more badly broken back." said Cindy. "But we know you'd never do that to us."

"Sir, I get your point," said Teresa, "that Janice should stand up to Harlow if she really wants to date Teddy. And Janice would stand up and push back... if she really wanted to. Ergo, I deduce Janice is taking the opportunity to break up with Teddy, and it would've happened anyway." I nodded at that brilliant piece of deduction.

Just then my phone rang. "Okay," I said, "I'm being called to the Chief's Wednesday meeting."

"Gonna confront Harlow?" asked Cindy.

"That's 'Commander' Harlow, Captain." I said, knowing that had to be said. "Show respect, even if you're as pissed at her as I am. But to answer your question: I'm not planning to escalate this... yet."

Part 2 - The Crime Scene

The Cabin, Promontory Point, and other houses such as Daniel and Melina Allgood's are on the west side of the ridgeline that is the western of two mountain fingers stretching to the south. The east side is much more steep, so virtually no houses are on the mountainside, but in the valley that borders Lake Reservoir below. The other finger is in Nextdoor County, forming the other half of the "bowl" that contains Lake Reservoir, formed by a meteorite hit eons ago. And on the other side of that ridgeline is where Millwakee Camp is, and the area west of the City begins.

A road goes around both sides of Lake Reservoir, servicing neighborhoods of houses. The houses on my County's side are middle-class, nice three-bedroom homes with backyards on the Lake, and the land is pretty flat. On the Nextdoor County side, the houses are larger and multi-storied to take advantage of the more sloping ground, and those houses are more expensive and exclusive. Tom and Janet Riordan once had their home in that neighborhood.

The Lake is fed by springs as well as streams from the mountainsides, and at the very north point of the nearly perfectly circular lake a large, deep creek flows from a crevice between the mountain fingers and into the Lake. There is a bridge for the road, but the Nextdoor County side is blocked by a locked gate, with barriers to prevent crossing at nearby points.

Some years ago, Nextdoor County and our County had some issues, and this was one of their reactions. Things are better now, especially as the NCPD's Vice Lieutenant is the TCPD's Captain of Detective's sister... and the mother of two of the TCPD Police Commander's male children. But the gate remains locked, mostly to keep would-be criminals from using it to sneak into the Nextdoor County side, then escaping back to our County, and I have no real objection to that.

I thought of all this as I drove up Reservoir Road at 10:00am, past Chief Griswold's home and where Marine Gunnery Sergeant Guernica had been murdered and his small children tortured. Near the end of the road on my County's side was a large clearing, with picnic tables by the Lake. It was the gathering point for the swimming portion of the Independence Day Triathlon.

And on the sloping hill above was a home, almost precariously perched on the hillside. A driveway curled up to the left side of the house, and a long flight of stairs snaked their way up to the front porch. The house was two stories tall, and the sides were composed of wood.

I parked my car at the bottom of the hill, where most of the other TCPD cruisers were. Patrolman Culver got my name and badge number, then asked "Sir, would you like me to call up and have someone drive you up?"

"No thanks." I replied. "I'll be okay taking the stairs, if slowly." Nevertheless, as I started up, Culver radioed that I was approaching, and Captain Ross came out and down the stairs."

"I'm fine, Captain." I said as I slowly climbed the stairs one by one. "You can go on back up."

"I'll stay and babysit." she replied. "Just in case you fall."

I knew that was part concern, and part lighting a fire in me. As we got to the top, Sergeant Rudistan appeared at the front door, jovial and mischievous as usual.

"Good morning, Commander." he said jovially. "Practicing to race me up those stairs? You'll probably win."

"If I do, Rudistan," I replied, knowing that Rudistan was in 'sneaky' good shape despite his 'pear shaped' body, "I'll P.T. you to death every morning for the rest of your Police career."

"No worries, sir." said Rudistan. "Morton and I are going to race in the Triathlon this year." I saw Cindy's face become wooden. Rudistan did not mean to remind her of her being prevented from running the Triathlon, but she still felt it, as I felt the pain of not being able to compete in the Police Boxing Matches.

"Good." I said to Rudistan as we went inside. "It'll be tough to beat Todd Burke and Teddy Franklin, and I think Joanne and Seth Warner are running as a team. So, what's going on here?"

"Missing person, sir." said Rudistan. "Tim Burris, owner of this house."

"You know what my first question is going to be, Sergeant Rudistan." I said.

"Who called it in?" Rudistan replied. I nodded, and he said "Mr. Burris's best friend, one Jeffrey Burnham, sir. He just got back from a trip to England and France, on business. He called Tim Burris this past Sunday, but got no answer and the cellphone went to voicemail. He tried again yesterday, then came over this morning, and found the home had been broken into. He's on the back patio with Detective Warner."

We went into the front door. The greatroom was on the backside of the house and a living room was to the right. A small dining room was to the left, and the kitchen behind it. Similar to the Mountain Nest on the first floor, I thought.

Where it got different was the hallway went further to the right than my home. At the end of the hallway was a larger room, which could be a bedroom but had been converted to an office. A huge desk of rich, dark woods faced the front with the chair near the back wall, two windows looking out back on either side. A sofa and chair and TV were on the front side, with one window behind the sofa. A large bookcase, over six feet wide with shelves to the ceiling, was to the immediate left of the door, and to the desk's right if one was sitting in the chair. On the other side of it was a narrow hallway leading to the greatroom.

The room was a mess. Papers were strewn everywhere, books from the bookshelf thrown all about the room. All of the desk drawers had been pulled out and emptied of their contents, adding to the mess.

The rest of the house was in similar condition. The greatroom had no books or anything, but the sofa had been torn up and stuffing was everywhere. The kitchen had pretty much been destroyed. Cans of beans, corn, and tins of Spam were all over the place, and more were on the pantry shelves. Only the dining room escaped major damage.

"The bedrooms upstairs are torn up, as well." said Detective Teddy Parker as he came down the stairs. "But it's a funny thing that none of the four televisions in the house were taken. Apparently only the computer was taken."

"How do you know there was a computer?" asked Cindy.

"There's a router and an A.C. plug-in on the desk, ma'am." said Parker. "But no computer." Cindy nodded.

"Did you try dialing Mr. Burris's cell phone?" I asked. "See if we can hear it?"

"No sir." said Rudistan, dialing a number. "I'll try that now. Mr. Burnham gave me the number."

We strained to hear anything, but we were not rewarded. No ringing. Rudistan reported that the call went straight to voicemail. "That might mean there's no connection from any tower to the cellphone, sir."

"All right." I said. "Get a Crime Lab team over here. They've got a lot of work to do. Okay, Ross, Parker... let's go talk to Mr. Burnham."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I went down the narrow back hall towards the greatroom. And 'narrow' was definitely the impression I got of it as I went down the passageway. I know I'm broad-shouldered, but this hall was barely wider than my width. I peered at the walls, then went through the greatroom to the back patio. I noted that there was not much patio, and there was a retaining wall not far behind it. Behind that, the mountain climbed steeply upwards.

Sitting with Joanne Warner was a tall, slender, youngish looking man with a head of curly auburn-brown hair, a thin beard that reminded me of the criminal 'Skinny Beard' that I annihilated with my crowbar. Jeffrey Burnham had on basic black spectacles, a tie-dye tee-shirt, short pants, and flat sandals. I refrained from making a politically incorrect evaluation of him.

"Mr. Burnham," I said, coming up to him. "I am Commander Don Troy, and this is Captain Cindy Ross. You've met Detectives Warner and Parker?" He nodded and shook my hand somewhat perfunctorily. I sat down on one of the patio chairs, which was not made for people with bad backs.

"I'll apologize in advance if I ask questions my people have already asked," I said, "and I'll ask your indulgence to answer them again. So what happened this morning?"

"I had not been able to get in touch with Tim since I got back from my trip to Paris and London." said Jeffrey. "So I came over this morning to see if everything was all right. I found the front door ajar. When I went inside, the house was a wreck. I looked all over but didn't see Tim anywhere, so I called the Police."

"I see." I said. "So how long were you in Europe?"

"A couple of weeks." said Jeffrey.

"And the last time you saw Tim before that?" I asked.

"Uhhh... it was early April... maybe the Sunday after April Fools Day. We played pranks on each other that day like we always do, then we had lunch the next day, on Sunday. After that I was working and preparing for my trip... so yeah, April 2d was the last day I saw him."

"What is your occupation?" I asked.

"Mine?" said Jeffrey. I nodded and he said "I work for the University Museum and History Department."

"And you traveled to Europe in connection with that?" I asked.

"Yes." said Jeffrey, but he did not elaborate.

"And what was the purpose of this recent trip?" I asked.

"Uh, I was making arrangements for student trips to Paris and London during the December holiday season, with visits to the museums there." said Jeffrey.

"And what does Tim do for a living?" I asked.

"He was... 'between jobs', I guess." said Jeffrey. "He waited tables at some of the restaurants on 'The Row'." By that, he meant the restaurants and bars along University Avenue, that serviced mostly University students. "He's worked in some of the hotels here, too." I noted Cindy and Joanne looking up at the house, and suppressed a smile that they were seeing it, also.

"Is Tim married? Any kids?"

"No kids. He was married, but his divorce was finalized this January." said Jeffrey. He did not elaborate further.

"What is her name?" I asked.


"Does she live here? In this house?" I asked.

"No." said Jeffrey. "She moved to Nextdoor County. She got a job with the Lakeside Inn & Suites."

"What did she do before that job?" I asked.

"She worked at the University Hotel." said Jeffrey.

"In what capacity?" I asked.

"Different ones." said Jeffrey. "She was in charge of the restaurant, then was Assistant Night Manager."

"Okay." I said, willing the pain in my back to stop welling up. "Captain Ross, why don't you get some people to go find Melissa Burris." Cindy got up and went back inside the house.

I said "Mr. Burnham, has Tim been prone to take unannounced trips in the past? Disappear for any length of time?"

"No." said Jeffrey.

"Did he ever go on any trips out of town, overnight trips, that you did know about?"

"Not really." said Jeffrey. "He'd go to gun shows, but those often were for one day."

"Anything else you can tell me about him? Anything that can help us locate him? Any hobbies he had?" I asked, peering at him.

"Not really." said Jeffrey Burnham. "We played chess a good bit, but just recreationally. We also played disc golf at Ronald Reagan Park, but not very often."

"Was Tim a prepper, Mr. Burnham?" I asked. "Was he a survivalist type?"

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