THE EXCITING JOURNEY OF Writing
a Fictional Book
"IT'S A LUXURY BEING A WRITER,
BECAUSE ALL YOU EVER THINK ABOUT IS LIFE."
BECAUSE ALL YOU EVER THINK ABOUT IS LIFE."
Detective's Barton and his partner of two years, Dale Young, pulled up to the burning building. By the time they parked their unmarked car, clouds of thick black smoke had transformed to white vapors lifting lazily into the night sky. Near one of the fire trucks the fire captain and two firefighters surrounded a distraught man wearing khaki shorts and a t-shirt.
Extending his hand the chief greeted the two approaching men.
“We called you and one of our investigators, he's already inside. There's a body inside, female. This man says she's his girlfriend.”
“Dale you talk to the boyfriend and I'll go inside.”
Glen retrieved a white hazmat suit and breathing apparatus for protection against any contamination and entered the partially smoke filled apartment. He stood examining the area. The living room's off white colored walls were now blackened and charred from smoke and fire damage. What was once a flat screen television hanging on the wall was nothing more than a heap of melted plastic on the floor. The little amount of furniture and accessories that dressed up the room were burned and in ruin. This was all part of his crime scene.
Calvin Sharp, the arson investigator, arriving twenty minutes earlier stood in the doorway of another room snapping pictures. Glen tapped Calvin on the shoulder and flashed his badge.
“I've been waiting for you,” said Calvin. He shot a few more pictures then turned to Glen. In a muffled voice the investigator said, “Careful where you step.”
Glen nodded slightly irritated he was being treated as if this were his first crime scene. They peered into another destroyed room. “This is where it started,” said Calvin. The investigator cast his flashlight's beam on the blackened walls. “The fire moved quickly through this room.”
Glen, caught off guard, stiffened when Calvin cast his light beam over the corpse. The detective had seen numerous grotesque bodies before, but nothing this horrifying. Lying in the middle of the room was a female body, burned beyond recognition. The hungry flames had reduced portions of her to nothing but ash.
“What's that,” asked Glen, looking at a small pile of debris on top of the body.
“Aerosol cans and those small bottles, I'll bet nail polish remover, very flammable.”
“That started it?”
“No, see that melted glob by her, that's plastic. Whatever was in there is probably the accelerant. Whoever did this is an amateur. They didn't hide that someone wanted her dead. Look at the line around the neck.”
The two men bent down to inspect the victim's neck area. “Looks like her throat was cut,” said Glen.
“That'd be my guess,” said Calvin glancing around the room, “they cut her then set the place on fire.”
“Sorry, just a figure of speech,' said Calvin.
Minutes later Glen stepped out through the charred front door and approached Dale and the boyfriend.
“Let's move him away from here, talk near the car, this is not going to be pretty when the Coroner comes out.”
Not long after, two men in white suits from the coroner's office carried a stretcher with the blanket-covered body.
“Ohhh nooo.” The boyfriend turned away burying his face in his hands.
“I'm sorry, can you tell me who she is.”
“She's my, was my girlfriend. I can't believe this, shit oh no,” he said. The detective's watched as the man paced back and forth, his arms wrapped around his upper body in an attempt to remove the shock induced chill.
“We're sorry for your loss. Sir, please, sir, I know this is a very difficult time for you, but please just a moment. Who is she?” said Dale.
The boyfriend responded in a tone bordering on indignation as if everyone knew her. “It's Toni, Toni Wilcox. She's an actress and a model.”
Glen removed his hazmat suit and stepped over to the fire captain. “What can you tell me?”
“When we rolled up the building was on fire. Flames were spilling out from the ground floor where they lived. We got it out quickly and found the woman's body in the bedroom. It started there.”
“Yeah, that's what your investigator said.”
“First man entering said the body was on fire.”
“It's a scene I'll never forget,” said Glen scanning the area.
“We never do,” said the captain.
“What about the boyfriend?”
“He comes running up the street screaming. We tackled him to the ground.”
“He tried to rush inside. He was screaming out her name.”
“Dale what do―”
Glen stopped to see the mounting commotion building in the crowd of onlookers.
A slender blonde haired woman with thick black rimmed glasses led the way pushing forward through the maze of several people. In a voice of a high school principal breaking up a fight she said, “Come on, we need the cameras rolling, let's go guys.” It was Susie Pinkerton, a television reporter from Channel 9. “Excuse me excuse me, would you please, sir?” she said advancing.
Dale blocked the reporter. “Please, a little privacy. He's just lost his girlfriend. Have a heart.”
“And miss this story detective you've got to be kidding.”
“Susie give us a break will you,” said Glen.
“Hi Detective... Barton, that's it Barton. It looks like a story for 11 o'clock.”
“You let us do our job and I promise I'll give you the scoop, but back off.”
“We'll step back right over here, but I'm going to hold you to it.”
“Okay lets backup here with the camera. Susie swung around and stuck her microphone into the face of a startled young boy. “Did you witness anything?”
Shaking his head in disgust Dale turned back to his partner. “Boyfriend's name is Peter Sklar, says he chased the man who did this.”
“I'm sorry Mr. Sklar to put you through this, but we have to ask these questions. You say you chased someone?”
“Tha- that's right,” replied Peter, his teeth chattering. A paramedic wrapped finally a blanket over his shoulders and helped the boyfriend over to the rear of the ambulance.
“Do you think you can take us through what happened, Peter?”
“Toni and I li-live, I mean lived together. I-I walked over to Trader Joe's to pick up some foo- food items and a bottle of wine. It was a celebration.”
“N-no, Toni just landed a role in a new movie. She was go-going to start work next week along with a modeling gig for a cosmetic line. I walked down to Trader Joe's while she was setting the table and checking her email. Stuff like that.”
“I ca-came home.”
“How long were you gone?”
“Twenty-twenty five minutes. I put the key in the door, opened it part way, and someone inside slammed it in my face and locked it. My key popped out of the lock and by the time I picked it up, and unlocked the door, some guy's running out the back. I threw the groceries down and yelled for Toni and― and ―”
Glen sympathetically placed his hand on Peter's shoulder. “We're really sorry to put you through this.”
“Did she answer,” continued Dale.
“I don't remember, I- I don't think so.”
“Did you recognize the intruder?”
“No, but he looked Hispanic.”
“That's helpful, then what?”
“I chased him out the back door and over the back fence. We ran around the block and up the street to the next block, and down an alley.”
“What happened next?” asked Glen.
“I chased him. He turned and ran up a staircase of a small building. I lost him there.”
“Were you and Miss Wilcox arguing about anything,” asked Dale.
“Wh- what, what are you talking about? Why would we argue?”
“Nothing Mr. Sklar, I'm sorry, but it's our job to piece things together. You're gone, a fire starts, the fire department calls us and says they discovered a body. You come running up and you can see that we have to look at every angle.”
Bothered by the inference. “I'm not an angle, Detective. Someone killed my girlfriend, but it wasn't me.”
“We understand, but it would be helpful if you come to the station and talk some more,” said Dale.
“Bullshit, I'm not going anywhere with you. I didn't do this. I don't know where you're going with this but it's bullshit.”
“Calm down Peter,” said Glen.
Standing up, the blanket fell off Peter's shoulders. “Don't tell me to calm down or what to do.” He stepped forward pushing against Glen's chest and Dale grabbed the boyfriend's arm twisting it behind his back.
“Ricky, you getting this on camera?” asked Susie.
“Clear as can be.”
“Damn it, where is my cameraman,” asked Dirk Sullivan the reporter from Channel 11.
“Don't worry Dirk, after I call my stuff in I'll share some notes with you,” she said with a devilish grin.
“Susie, I was here first.”
“I'll make sure to mention that on television on my 11 o'clock.”
Glen gripped Peter's arm. “Stop moving Mr. Sklar or will have to arrest you.”
“Come with us,” said Dale.
He jerked his arm away. “I'm not coming with you.”
Glen and Dale reached Peter at the same time handcuffing him while he screamed his innocence. Susie and her camera operator got all the juicy footage while Dirk Sullivan stood helplessly by. Vans from other channels pulled up to the scene and crews scrambled out of their rolling vehicles as the detectives placed their suspect in the unmarked car.
With Peter handcuffed in the back seat Glen gave instructions to two uniformed officers about securing the crime scene as the forensics team arrived.
Minutes after they drove away Glen instructed his partner. “Pull over on this side street.”
“What are we doing?”
“Pull over here.”
“Just do it,” said Glen.
Dale turned and stopped on a poorly lit street as Glen got out.
“What are you doing Glen?”
Opening the back door Glen replied, “Just let me do this. Mr. Sklar, would you please get out of the car?”
“I've got this trust me.”
Peter glared at the detective who was reaching into his pocket while motioning his prisoner to exit the vehicle.
“What are you going to do to me?”
“Turn around, you say you're innocent. You say you didn't start the fire or kill your girlfriend.”
“Peter, I believe you.”
“Then why arrest me?”
“Yeah on two counts, look at her picture, she's gorgeous, and look who her father is. Do you guys know him?” asked Dale.
The Captain's expression hardened.”I know him.” He turned and walked away.
“What did I say?”
“Three years ago, just before you came on board there was a crime committed by a State Senator and a call girl?”
“Wilcox defended the Senator. He got him off on some sloppy police work. Chief almost lost his job over that case. He hates Wilcox because this lawyer made the force and the Chief look bad,” said Glen.
“Oh shit's right, I almost got assigned to that case, but ducked a bullet. And you're right about the other thing.”
“The daughter is, I mean, was beautiful.”
The two detectives walked back into the interrogation room where Peter was sitting, staring blankly into his untouched cup of coffee.
“How much longer do I need to be here?”
“Peter, until we get to the bottom of this, all night. Is that's all right with you?” said Dale.
“Tell us about your girlfriend, Ms. Wilcox. How and where did you meet her?” asked Glen.
Massaging his temple with his index and middle finger Peter closed eyes. “About a year and a half ago I met her at Largo West, it's a club.”
“The club downtown?”
“Yeah that's it. I was a guest there with some friends and Toni was sitting with a group next to us. I asked her to dance, and we hit it off.”
“What does that mean, you hit it off?” said Glen.
“Just what it sounds like detective. Pretty much, we danced all night and around three we Ubered to my place. She spent the night and two weeks later she moved in.”
In a cold tone to match his mounting impatience Dale said, “Open your eyes Peter and look at me. Do you know your neighbor Ray Filbert?”
Peter's body tensed. “You mean the old guy next door, what about him?”
Reading from an opened thin folder labeled Sklar, Dale said, “He says lately you and Toni have been arguing with the windows open.” Scanning down the single sheet of paper. “I also have a police report about a fight you got into with someone two weeks ago. What was that about?”
Peter sat forward. “This guy said something to Toni, and we got in a fight.”
Dale sensed he had his suspect on the ropes and continued probing. “Report says you broke his nose and your neighbor says he heard you yelling at her. He overheard her saying she was moving out. Is that what happened Peter? She was talking to another guy who she hit it off with. Way I see it you got jealous and took things into your own hands. I think you're guilty.”
Peter slammed his hand down on the table knocking the coffee over, “You're fucking crazy.”
Dale achieved the reaction he was aiming for. “Really Peter, I don't think so and you're going to clean this shit up.”
Glen, standing over in the corner, felt his cell phone vibrating in his pocket. He answered. “Detective Barton.”
“Hey Glen it's Russell. We found one of those small MP3 players, I think they're called a Shuffle. It was on the staircase and it looks like we can get some prints off it.”
“What color is it?”
“Hold on Russ. Peter when you were chasing this guy was he carrying anything?”
Peter squeezed his eyes shut. “Let me think. Yeah, he was.” In an “aha” moment his eyes shot open and wagging his finger to help his memory Peter said, “Some small plastic square, it looked like one of those MP3 Shuffles.” His eyes coldly locked in a staring match with Detective Young.
“What color was it?” asked Glen.
Still staring at Dale, the vein in Peter's right temple pulsing said, “I don't know maybe dark blue, it wasn't black.”
“Thanks Russ, how long before we get some prints.”
“Give me a couple of days, I'll call you.”
Glen stood up and said, “Partner, let's go outside I want to talk to you.”
As Dale followed Glen out into the hallway he turned and said to Peter, “Have this shit cleaned up before I get back.”
“Who was that?”
“I'm cutting Peter loose.”
“No fucking way. He's guilty. You saw him in there, I say we charge him and throw it over to the DA.”
“No, he didn't do it. That was Russ on the phone and they found an MP3 player like Peter described.”
“It could have been his, he could have dropped it.”
“I don't think so. No one is going to chase another person and hold on to this little thing, he'd put it in his pocket. My gut's telling me he's not the one.”
“Glen, you're wrong he did it. You're going to see. She was leaving him, he gets jealous, and kills her. This guy sets the place on fire, leaves out the back door, and waits around the corner for the fire trucks. He's planned this for a while. You cut him he runs, I'll bet you twenty he's gone before the end of tomorrow.”
“Hell no, I'm not betting twenty, I'll bet you fifty!”
“Fifty bucks he's not a rabbit? You're on, we'll be chasing this one.”