Dressed to Kill – A Jack Marconi PI Short Shot – by Vincent Zandri (Part 1)

1

It never failed to amaze me how effortlessly Blood could pump out a dozen chest presses with no less than three 45-pound plates set on each end of the bar. Adding in the weight of the bar, that made a total of three hundred fifteen pounds.

Blood already bore a body that looked like it had been sculpted from the richest dark marble ever to be found on the planet, so his workouts were only about maintenance. Unlike me who was always trying to improve my strength and size because after all, I wasn’t getting any younger and it seemed like these days, someone was always trying to punch me.

Those punches almost always came from younger men, and all too frequently, bigger men. It was important to keep up with them, or else lose my edge. Plus, I just liked working out with Blood. Just about every eye inside the joint was peeled on him when he lifted a weight, and since I bore the privilege of being his exclusive spotter, that made me special too. Or so I liked to believe.

We’d been working out in the Albany Strength Gym on that weekday morning, when Val walked in through the front glass doors. Maybe it had something to do with how close we’d been over the past two decades, or how she was never far from my thoughts, even if we’d been broken up for the past year, but I knew in my gut that it had to be her even before I looked to see who it was.

My gut was speaking to me.

It didn’t require eyesight to know that for the first time in long long time, the one woman I loved more than any other had just walked through the door, and that what she was about to tell me was not good.

Lying on my back on the flat bench, I racked the weights and sat up.

“Don’t look now,” Blood said from where he stood directly behind me in spotter position. “But your ex-lady just entered the building.”

“I know,” I said. I meant it.

Beating heart shooting up into my mouth, I stole a quick glance at her. She was dressed all in black, almost like she was in mourning. But, at the same time, it was a classy if not sexy black outfit of tall leather boots with stiletto heels, stockings, short snug fitting skirt, and turtleneck sweater, a gold necklace balancing itself on her more than ample breasts. Her hair was dark and long, and parted neatly over the left eye, and when her brown eyes connected to my own brown eyes, I felt like the biggest jerk in the world for not having picked up the phone even once over the past many months. Too many months.

I stood up.

“Hello Val,” I said.

She smiled, looked beyond me to Blood.

“Hello Blood,” she said, softly.

All around us came the clanking of plates and iron bars being wracked. Beefy men and women grunting and hefting, pushing and pulling, making their bodies stronger, tighter, more confident. But I felt like an absolute drip in my gray sweats and old, somewhat faded Mysterious Bookshop T-shirt, my face not having seen a razor in a few days.

“Think I gots to use the head,” Blood said. Then, “Good to see you, Val. Stunning as always.” He turned, headed for the locker room.

That left me alone with the woman whom I’d left standing alone on the altar more than ten years ago now. The woman who’d been my on again/off again for more years than I cared to count. A complicated situation that didn’t have to be so complicated, and that was all my fault. You see, the one woman I’d loved as much as Val had been taken from me by a hit-and-run driver two decades ago, and when I buried her, a part of me went underground along with her.

I never wanted to go through that pain again.

So I kept my distance from Val. Soon as things between us heated up, I always seemed to cool them down by retreating. It made for a lonely life. But I loved Val, and I knew that she loved me. The fact that she was standing in front of me looking sad but beautiful right now meant one thing and one thing only.

She needed me.

“Can we talk, Keep?” she said.

I swallowed something.

“Sure,” I said. It was a gray, mid-winter day and I knew I should grab my coat, especially with a slight sheen of sweat covering my skin. But I didn’t want to leave Val, even for an instant. Here’s the deal. I felt that if I left her for the minute or two it would take to grab my coat in the locker room, she would get cold feet and run away.

“Let’s just go outside,” I said.

Turning, she went for the gym’s front door.

I followed close behind. Very, very close.

Outside, she pulled a pack of cigarettes from her leather purse, placed one in her mouth. When she went to light it, I could see for the first time that her hands were shaking and that it wasn’t because of the cold.

Without asking, I gently took the lighter from her hand. I also reached out and took the cigarette from her lips, placed it between my own.  

“When did you start back up?” I said, thumbing a flame, cupping my hands around it, lighting the cigarette without inhaling into my lungs.

“After everything that’s happened at the shop,” she said, “I needed something.”

I handed her back the cigarette and she took to it like a fish that’s been out of water for way too long. Some people find it impossible to quit a second time after they go back to smoking. But I knew that Val wasn’t one of those persons. She would quit again, cold turkey, one day when she was ready. But not before.

“I heard,” I said. “About the shop.”

What Val was referring to, and which the all of Albany had heard about via the city’s numerous media darlings, was the alleged murder of her partner in the small clothing store they’d started late last year. The John Patrick Boutique was a far cry from what Val was used to when she worked for me as my Girl Friday back when I was warden at the Green Haven Maximum Security Penitentiary. Instead of keeping daily records on murderers, rapists, con men, and drug dealers, Val now sold high end fashions to some of the city’s wealthiest female customers, most of them the suburban, country club, and Botox fed wives of prominent lawyers, judges, and businessmen. I could bet an entire year’s paycheck that not one of Val’s customer’s was married to a private detective.

The reason for Val’s emotional state of being was that her partner was found brutally stabbed on the floor of the boutique one late Friday evening almost two weeks ago now, the cash in the till wiped out, the jewelry counter emptied, more than a few pieces of clothing lifted. Her throat had been cut from ear to ear and what had the cop’s baffled, aside from the fact that there were no witnesses to the murder nor any suspects thus far, was that there was no signs of a struggle. As though, Val’s partner, Anna Kruise, just stood there and allowed the killer to slowly and carefully run a razor sharp blade across her neck. In other words, whoever killed Anna must have known Anna enough for her to trust him. Theoretically speaking that is.  

Val smoked, exhaled the blue smoke into the gray city air.

“Then you know that there are still no suspects,” she said, looking away.

“Yeah,” I said. “I know. And I can see that it’s making you upset.”

She smiled bitterly suddenly, shook her head, quietly mouthed the word, “Shit.”

“You know what, Keeper?” she said. “I’m not telling you the whole truth.”

Confusion filled my head like oxygen to an iron-pumped muscle.

“Val,” I said, “stop beating around the mulberry bush and tell me what’s going on. What’s made you suddenly show up in my life after six months of total radio silence?”

She smoked some more, and once again, looked out onto the empty downtown Albany concrete jungle.

“The cops,” she said, “they do actually have a suspect now.”

“Who?” I said.

She looked into my eyes.

“Me,” she said.

2

“Wait for me right here,” I said, peering into her now wet eyes, setting both my hands on her shoulders. “I’m gonna grab my stuff.”

Making my way for the gym door, Val called out for me.

“Keeper,” she said.

My hand on the door opener, I turned to face her.

“What is it?”

“Are you going to say something about this to Blood?”

The world paused for a moment.

“Blood loves you.”

“Okay,” is all she said.

Blood was standing directly in front of the room-length, wall-mounted mirror. He was doing bicep curls with the easy curl bar. He had forty-five pound plates on each end of the bar. He was lifting the bar, one repetition at a time, with such ease and grace, I almost suggested he add another ninety pounds. But then thought better of it. Like I said, Blood lifted to maintain his physique these days, not to add even more bulk.

“You gonna tell me what’s wrong?” he said after completing ten quick reps, “or I gotta beat it out of you?”

His arms were exposed in a cut off T-shirt that had a picture of Bruce Lee on it. The bare-chested image captured Bruce in mid-air while he kicked the snot out of some fat Chinese gangster. It was a badass action shot that might have distracted me if not for Blood’s veins which were pulsating and popping out of his skin.

“I’ll give you the short version while you pump,” I said.

“Thoughtful of you,” he said.

I told him what Val told me and I kept it short.

He racked the bar, shook the oxygenated blood around in his pumped up arms, inhaled and exhaled a breath.

“Cops know better than to question a lady like Val,” he said, tone steady, even though I knew he was, at present, angry and getting angrier. Like I said, he loved Val like she was his own daughter.

“My guess is they gotta be desperate for them to approach her,” I pointed out.  

“Who in charge of the investigation?”

“I’m guessing Nick Miller.”

“Miller a good man. Look like Clint Eastwood, circa 1971, Dirty Harry.”

“Miller’s hair is all gray now.”

“That’s okay. He still Clint Eastwood.”

“I’m going to talk with him now,” I said.

“What are my marching orders?”

“Marching orders?”

“Been expanding my vocabulary lately. I never used the term marching orders before. Now I have. You dig?”

“Yeah I dig,” I said. “I assume the strip mall where the John Patrick Boutique is located has an owner who maintains the place and oversees security.”

“You want me to go there, find out if there’s a CCTV video of the boutique from the night of the murder. Then you want me to examine it and get back to your pronto.”

“That about sums it up,” I concurred.

My brother from another mother lifted up both arms, struck a double biceps pose that would have made Arnold faint on the spot.

“Why you gotta do that to me?” I said.

“Do what?” he said into the mirror.

“Pose-down your perfect torso like that. It makes me feel infinitely inferior. You know how sensitive I am.”

“Perfection is in the eye of the beholder.”

“I guess that makes me a beholder.”

I started for the locker room to retrieve my stuff. But then something dawned on me.

“Hey,” I said, about-facing. “If you already knew what I was going to ask you, why’d you make me ask it in the first place?”

“Told you already,” he said. “I wanted to say marching orders.”

“I’ll be in touch,” I said, marching my way to the locker room to grab my coat.

3

First I followed Val back to her townhouse in historic downtown Troy so we could park her old Volkswagen Cabriolet. Then we drove back across the river in my Toyota 4Runner to my place on Sherman Street where I changed into something more befitting of a man who was about to make a surprise visit to the Albany Police Department. That is, a pair of clean Levis button-fly jeans, dark brown cowboy boots, a black T-shirt under a black flannel work-shirt, and finally, a brown corduroy blazer that was large enough to allow room my Colt .45 Model 1911.

While I showered and dressed, Val sat quietly in my living room, not looking at the television, not reading the old National Geographic and Atlantic magazines that littered the coffee table, not even looking at her smartphone.

Truth be told, I was attracted to her.

Attracted like any man with warm blood swimming through his veins would be, and for a moment or two, I considered making a pass at her. But she was lost inside herself right now. And now was most definitely not the time.

But a warm-blooded man could always harbor some hope.    

We left the apartment in silence and drove to the South Pearl Street precinct of the APD which was located on the other side of the city, across the street from the Henry Johnson memorial projects. I parked the 4Runner right outside the stone-faced, five-story building and got out.

Stealing a quick look at the brick-faced projects, I caught a young black man sitting outside on the front porch steps. He was wearing a black wool cap that bore a New York Yankees emblem on it. He was also wearing a long black parka, and white basketball shoes with the laces untied. When he noticed me eyeballing him, he opened up the parka to reveal the grip on what looked to me to be a 9mm Sig Sauer.

I smiled at him.

“What’s your name?” I politely asked.

“You really wanna know, white bread?”

White bread…what ever happened to originality?

“Just being neighborly,” I said.

“It’s AK Jerome,” he said. “AK, as in Ass Kicker, bitch.”

“Well in that case, I’ll be happy to tell my brother, Blood, you said hello, AK Ass Kicker, bitch.”

He was a dark skinned young man, but you could definitely see his face turn a shade of pale. He closed up his jacket and averted his eyes so that instead of staring at me, he was looking down at his sneakers.

I came around the front of the 4Runner and gently took Val’s hand. We started up the concrete steps on the way to the headquarters front doors.

“I’ll never understand your unending desire to piss people off,” she said, a little under her breath.

“It’s my hobby,” I said, happily. “Still miss me?”

“Hobby like that can get you killed around here,” she said.

“Not me,” I said. “I’ve got Blood on my team.”

We entered into the headquarters. I approached the guard sergeant who was manning the desk behind a bullet-proof glass window with a little round hole cut out of it at the bottom.

“Aweeee Jesus H,” he said as he spotted me. “Look at what the cat just dragged in.”

“Bradly,” I said. “Sorry, but I didn’t have time to stop for donuts. Will you ever forgive me?”

“You still got that wise ass tongue of yours, Marconi. So to what do I owe the pleasure?”

Bradly was a fixture of the APD. Way beyond retirement age, he was also way out of shape, which relegated him to permanent desk duty.  At present, he was the longest standing member of the APD next to Detective Miller. Another way-beyond-retirement aged cop who refused to pack it in, collect the pension, make the move to South Carolina or Sarasota. But then, he was a good cop. I might go so far as to say great. His on-the-job experience spoke for itself. Which is precisely why it baffled me that he would begin to question Val, of all people.

“Miller in today, Brad?” I asked.

He put his bifocal reading glasses on, gave Val a glance, then gave me one too. He then removed the glasses, allowed them to hang down against his barrel chest by a thin leather lanyard, and sat back in his chair.

“Would you believe me if I told you the old man’s expecting you?”

I cleared my throat.

“And you’re young?” I said.

“Hey,” he said, “the old man is nine months older than me. That’s saying somethin’.”

“Oh forgive me for even mentioning it.”

He reached out, hit the buzzer for the metal door which was to the right of the window. The door opened.

“You’re no spring chicken yourself, Marconi,” Brad said, handing me two visitor’s badges through the little window hole.

“Cluck, cluck,” I said, and went for the door.

Val and I made the walk along the narrow, brightly lit, white-painted concrete block corridor on our way to Miller’s office. When we arrived at his door, I knocked. Since the Venetian blind was closed and blocking the glass plate embedded into the door, he barked, “Yah, who is it?”

“Old pal of yours,” I said.

“That didn’t take long,” he said. “Come on in.”

I opened the door and placed one foot inside, my hand still gripping the opener.

“Brought a friend, Nick,” I said.

“Let me guess,” he said, sitting back in his swivel chair. “You and Val are suddenly speaking again.”

“How’d you know?”

“What day is it today?”

“It’s Wednesday.”

“It’s anything can happen day,” he said. “That means what was impossible just yesterday is now possible. Val needs your help and you two are about to be like a couple of peas agains. You can thank me later.”

“What are you, a matchmaker?” I said.

“No, I’m a cop. And a bigshot at that. I put bad guys and gals behind bars.”

“In that case, we’ll be happy to take a few minutes of your time.”

I opened the door wide, and Val stepped inside.

4

Miller was a tall guy.

Taller than me anyway, which wasn’t all that unusual considering my ethnicity. Italians generally weren’t known for their height. He was also in shape and from what I’d heard, ran five miles per day and still ran at least one marathon per year. Not bad for a guy who would never see his fifties again. Today he was wearing a blue button-down shirt with a black tie that was impeccably tied. He was clean shaven so that his cheeks appeared concave, and his full head of hair was buzz cut and gray white. Even though he was seated at his desk, he wore a shoulder holster and inside the holster was stored a 9mm semi-automatic service sidearm. It looked good on him, like he’d be naked somehow without it.

“Take a seat,” he said. Then, nodding at Val. “Good to see you again, Ms. Antonelli.”

“Oh cut the crap, Nick,” Val said, seating herself on the old leather couch that was pushed up against the side wall. “We’ve known each other how many years now?”

“Sorry,” he said, not without a grin. “Just trying to be kind, courteous, and respectful.”

“All you need to worry about is protecting and serving,” I said, crossing my arms over my chest. I decided not to sit since I wanted to appear the dominant alpha male in the room.

“Thanks for reminding me,” he said, placing his hands behind his head, using them as a headrest. “So what’s up?”

“Val says you’ve been questioning her in the case of the murder of Anna Kruise.”

“So,” he said.

“She a suspect?”

“You mean like officially?”

“Yup.”

“That depends.”

“On what…Detective Miller?” Val interjected.

He pursed his lips, removed his hand-headrest, sat up straight.

“It depends on if I find myself another person of interest in the case.”

“Coming up empty, huh?” I said.

“Yup,” he said.

“You check out the CCTV vid?”

I didn’t bother telling him that Blood was looking at it as we spoke.

“Yup. Watched it a dozen times. Not much to see there.”

“You dust for prints?”

“Of course.”

“Question the neighbors?”

“Yup and should I also add, what the hell do you think?”

“I get it. This ain’t your first day on the job. Brad even calls you, the old man.”

“I might have to bust him for that.”

“He’s old too,” I pointed out. “He says I’m no spring chicken. That’s an insult to spring chickens, you ask me.”

“Gentlemen,” Val broke in, “if you don’t mind, can we get to the bottom of this?”

“Oh yeah,” I said. “I sort of got off point.”

My eyes back on Miller.

“Now Detective,” I said, “will it be necessary for my friend and former girlfriend–”

“–Former fiancée, don’t forget,” Val was quick to add.

“Yes, former fiancée…Will it be necessary for her to obtain the services of a lawyer?”

Miller rolled his eyes.

“No,” he said. “But it may be prudent for me to question her a few more times.” He opened his top drawer, pulled out a manila folder, tossed it onto the desktop so that it nearly skidded off the side and onto the floor. “Fact is, I just don’t have anything. No prints other than Val’s, Anna’s, those two guys who design your stuff.”

“John and Patrick,” Val offered.

In my head, I pictured the diminutive designing pair. Both of them short, portly, and totally committed to one another both as business partners and lovers.

“Yeah,” Miller said, “John and Patrick, and a whole bunch of other prints from the people…the women, I should say…who do their shopping there.”

“You interviewed John and Patrick?”

“They have a rock solid alibi. Fashion Week in Florence, Italy which they were attended at the time of the murder.”

“Damn,” I said. “You mean I missed Fashion Week again this year?”

I picked up the folder, opened it. What I saw didn’t shock me. But it did rob me of my breath a little.

Anna Kruise was about forty years old, but looked much younger.

Small, of South Korean decent, she was an attractive if not super attractive woman with dark eyes, a killer smile, and a killer body to go along with it. I’d met her a few times back when Val and I were still dating, and I remembered her as cheerful, pleasant, and eager to please. She was always laughing, or if not laughing, trying to come up with reasons for laughing. She was that optimistic about life and especially about her partnership with Val.

But the woman I was looking at in this photo was a far cry from the woman I’d come to know from the John Patrick Boutique. She was lying on the painted floor of the shop, her throat cut from ear to ear. The gash was so deep, that a bit of the white vertebra bone was visible through the cut flesh and dark arterial blood. The pool of blood that surrounded her head looked like a scarlet halo, while her long black hair had become soaked and matted with it. Her eyes were wide open. Anna Kruise caught up in a snapshot in time. The very moment she faced down her killer. The last moment of her short life.

A wave of sadness washed over me.

I shuffled through the pictures, one by one, occasionally taking the time to glace at Val. She was keeping her head down, her eyes focused on the tops of her boots. It told me she’d seen the photos. Or maybe, she’d see the real thing? I’d never thought to ask.

Shoving the pictures back inside the envelope, I set them back down onto Miller’s desk.

“Question,” I said. “Who found the body?”

Miller cocked his head in Val’s direction.

“You gotta ask?” she said. “I found it the next morning. I’m the one who called the cops in the first place.”

My cell phone vibrated in my pocket. I pulled it out, stared at the digital screen readout.   

Blood.

The text said, Meet me at Newton Plaza. Maintenance and realty office behind the strip mall. Something u need to see.

I pocketed the phone without answering the text. Blood gave you a directive, you followed it. Even if technically speaking, you were the boss.

“Val,” I said, “we gotta go.”

Miller stood up. Stood up tall and strong, his pistol at the ready. He wasn’t a cop so much as a dramatic portrayal of a cop. He fit the bill perfectly.

“Listen, Keep,” he said. “We know one another a long, long time. I don’t have to tell you to keep your distance.” He bit down on his bottom lip. Whenever Miller bit down on his bottom lip, it always meant there was a But coming.

“But,” I said like a question.   

Leaning forward, he planted both hands on the desk, looked me in the eye.

“But, if in the course of your private investigation, if you should happen to stumble upon evidence, circumstantial, tangible, or otherwise, it would behoove you to alert me about it pronto.”

“Pronto,” I said.

“I like that word,” he said, cracking a hint of a smile.

“New words,” I said. “Lot of that going around lately.”

“Listen,” he added. “My hands are a bit tied in this case. You’ll find out why the more you poke your nose in it.” He exhaled. “Let’s just say I’m not entirely unhappy your gonna work on this thing.”

“Really,” I said. “And here I just thought that was a banana in your pocket.”

Val stood up, shook her head like she’d had enough guy talk for one day, and went for the door. I followed her, both mine and Miller’s eyes locked onto her behind as it strutted gracefully out the door.

5

Newton Plaza was a strip mall located in a little hamlet of North Albany nestled in between the wealthy suburb of Loudonville and the more Pleb-like Latham. It was one of those long open-air malls that sported a Starbucks, an expensive Italian restaurant and bar, a bagel shop, a hair salon, an art gallery, and few high end shops and jewelry stores that were supported more or less by a handful of wealthy housewives who didn’t have anything better to do with their time than spend their old man’s hard earned paycheck. That’s not to say some of the slacker husbands didn’t mind spending their wife’s hard-earned checks, but they didn’t do it at Newton Plaza. There were plenty of gin mills and casinos surrounding the area for that.

I drove passed the John Patrick boutique, the door to which had two long strips of yellow crime scene ribbon blocking the glass door in the shape of a tall X, but instead drove around the back of the mall like Blood directed. I parked the 4Runner directly in front of a white-doored entrance that had the words Stephens Real Estate stenciled on it.

As we were getting out, a car was pulling up.

Turning to look at it, I could see that it was an expensive car. A silver Porsche convertible, the top up because of the cold. The guy driving it pulled up so close to my tail end, I was convinced he was about to ram it.

Pulse picked up. My hands naturally formed fists.

“Keeper, relax,” Val said. “That’s Bruce Feingold. He’s the CEO of Schuyler. He’s the one who holds my lease on the John Patrick space.”

“Oh in that case,” I said, “I’ll be careful not to hit him in the face.”

Bruce got out, stood tall and Gold’s Gym fit. But then I noticed the large sticker prominently displayed on the rear windshield of his Porsche that showed two rowing oars criss crossed like an X. So that’s how he stayed in shape. He was wearing a finely tailored gray suit under a camel hair coat. His hair was long for his age, and slicked back on his head with clear gel. Or what word did Val use for the stuff? Product?

“We got a problem?” I said.

“Yeah,” he said, his voice not too deep, but not to high either. “Can’t you read?”

He held out his hand, pointed to a small sign that was planted at the top of the parking space. I had to crane my neck a little around the front of the 4Runner to read it. It said, Space Reserved for Bruce Feingold, CEO.

I turned back to Bruce. His arm was still extended like he wasn’t about to lower it until I took notice of his gold Rolex.

“You’re the CEO,” I said. “How silly of me. Tell me, how does one get to be CEO?”

He gave me a look like he’d just stepped in dog shit.

“My father started this business, and I built it up to what it is today.” His smile didn’t portray pride, but outright arrogance. “Answer your question? Now please move your behemoth of a vehicle before I have it towed.”

“So you’re like the local Donald Trump,” I said.

“President Trump, you mean,” he said.

“Duly noted,” I said. Then, “What’s with developers and they’re fixation with their hair?”

“Excuse me?” he said.  

Val came around the front of the 4Runner.

“Bruce, lay off,” she said. “Keeper is a private detective. He’s working on the Anna Kruise case for me.”

Now his face went from sly smile, to downright anger.

“Yes, the horrible murder that took place in my plaza. My plaza. Do you have any idea what that does for my reputation? Tenants are already talking about moving out or renegotiating their leases over what’s being wrongly interpreted as a lack of security. Going to cost me a fortune in security improvements.”

“Listen, Mr. CEO,” I said. “I’ll only be a few minutes. My associate is inside viewing the CCTC video of the night of the murder. He wants me to see something that I can only assume, you and the police did not see.”

He squinted his eyes.

“I’ve seen that video one thousand times.”

“Time for one thousand and one,” I said.

“Be nice, Bruce,” Val pressed.

“Oh…whatever,” he said, throwing up his arms.

He got back behind the wheel of his Porsche, backed it up, then parked it in the handicap parking space beside my 4Runner.

Blood was waiting for me in the vestibule of the Stephens Real Estate offices. He had his arms crossed when I entered into the black and white-marble floored lobby.

“Been waiting long?” I said.

He glanced at his watch.

“Anytime somebody make me wait it’s too long.”

“Brothers got no patience,” I said.

“That’s racist,” he said.

“Just trying to lighten things up, bridge the great divide.”

The door opened again and Val walked in with Bruce on her tail. I noticed that the first thing he did upon entering was look at himself in the mirror that was mounted to the wall beside the front door. He patted his hair and smiled, clearly pleased with himself. Maybe he wanted to be president one day.

“I take it you’re Mr. Blood?” Bruce said, holding out his hand.

Blood took it, shook it.

“Thanks for letting me see the video,” Blood said. “It helps a lot.”

“Never will anyone say that Bruce Feingold stood in the way of justice served.”

“What Bruce is trying to say gentlemen,” Val said, “is he wants to find out who did this as much as anybody else so that his he can get his business back on track and start making money again.” She turned to her landlord. “Isn’t that right, Bruce?”

He cocked his head.

“Well, I’m not running a charity.”

“I got the video on a laptop in the conference room,” Blood said.

“Movie time,” I said.

6

The conference room was big and rectangular. One entire wall was constructed of smoked glass that looked out onto the woods that covered the back of the Newton Plaza property. The other wall was covered with dozens of framed photos of the numerous properties either constructed or acquired by the Stephens Real Estate Company.

The laptop Blood was borrowing from the staff was set up on the near end of the long mahogany conference table. We all took places around it, while Blood sat down in front of it, his sausage thick index finger positioned over the enter key.

“Before we start,” he said, “I want you to focus on something in particular.”

“Such as?” Val said.

“Since this video only shows the exterior of the building at night, and from an awkward angle at that, it’s not all that easy to make out. But it’s there.”

“What exactly is there, Mr. Blood?” Bruce asked impatiently.

“The person I believe to be Anna Kruise’s murderer,” Blood said.

 To Be Continued…

*

Vincent Zandri is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling winner of the 2016 ITW Thriller Award and PWA Shamus Award for Moonlight Weeps. Suspense Magazine recently selected his novel, When Shadows Come, as the Best Thriller of 2016. He lives in New York. His newly released Jack Marconi PI novel is The Corruptions, based on a true story. 

WEBSITE

 

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