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He really was trying to be helpful, thought Jake. Still, something was bothering him about the information the guy was handing them. It was almost like he was trying to be too helpful.

Jake berated himself for thinking poorly about Larkin, after all, with everything he had witnessed that night it was no wonder that he wanted the bastard caught. At least that was what he had told the detectives. He had even come in voluntarily to answer questions, they didn’t have to ask him to be there.

He let the other team members ask the questions while he quietly made notes. But when Larkin couldn’t, or wouldn’t, get specific enough about which bar he and the mysterious John had picked the girls up in, Jake voiced his dissatisfaction with an impatient sigh and a snort. And he got a disapproving look from his superior for that.

“I don’t remember, we went to several nightspots, I don’t remember which one we were in when we met Holly and Beth. All I know it was somewhere in Westchester.” He whined. Larkin fixed his watery eyes on Jake. “I am so sorry, I really wish I could remember.”

Jake excused himself from the room, he’d get the notes from the rest of the interview from one of the detectives.

Larkin had worked with a police artist and now Jake had a sketch of the perp. He also had a photo of Holly and an artist’s sketch based on a reconstruction of Beth’s face. He sent those pictures over the wire to the local Westchester police along with a list of the clubs Andrew had named. Now if only someone would recognize the missing man and give them some clue as to his whereabouts.

Meanwhile he had pulled several missing persons files on descriptions matching the two girls; sometimes the victim’s identity was an important lead as to who the murderer was. There were a few files that came close, but so far nothing had matched.  Jake was suspicious by nature, and in this business it was best to check out everything, so he ran any information he had on Andrew Larkin through the computers as well. The man came up squeaky clean.

It irritated Jake that Larkin didn’t have even a traffic violation on his record. Something about Larkin bothered Jake and he was hoping to find something out about him that would justify his dislike of the other man. He just couldn’t figure it out.

The forensics team had found evidence that the car found at the scene was the same vehicle that had carried the two girls and Larkin. There were inconclusive signs of a fourth person. Only Larkin’s prints were on the steering wheel but that only confirmed the story that he had related to them. The carpeted floor mats were filthy and it seemed impossible to get a clean copy of any shoe prints. The well-worn cloth-covered seats didn’t give up much evidence either.

The team was thorough about collecting any evidence from the car in the hopes that they might get some leads on the identities of the other three occupants. The tires were well worn but scrapings were made from the treads to see if there was any telltale substance that might lead them to a garage, industrial parking lot, construction site or anywhere that Larkin might not have remembered driving to that night.

The lab techs collected shoeprints and fingerprints from all the responding emergency service workers and had diligently weeded those out of the prints found in the cabin. It was time consuming but necessary. Still, although they were able to pick up another man’s shoe prints, they had nothing else to go on.

Curiously neither of the girls seemed to have carried a purse with them, at least they didn’t have one at the crime scene. Both female victims had been dressed in similar gauzy robes with no underwear or footwear. What should have been their normal street clothes were missing and Jake wondered if the absent man had taken those items with him as some sort of perverted souvenir. It wasn’t unusual for the police to find a victim’s personal effects among a killer’s treasured possessions, a trophy collection of sorts.

Without any hard evidence, the trail was already feeling cold. Jake was frustrated at the lack of clues. The crime was definitely one of the more heinous he had ever encountered, he rarely felt as jolted as he did now. He couldn’t explain the strange foreboding he had about this case or the frantic need to solve it immediately.

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Final Sin was an
Honorable Mention in the Fiction Category of the 
2010 NY Book Festival 

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After His Lucky Charm this is Tom’s Story…

It was already night when he got back home, but he had to go pay a visit somewhere. Tom had only been at Joyce’s grave a few times. In the beginning it was just too painful. Now, it was just not something he ever got used to doing. After attending the funeral for the young state trooper though, Joyce was pulling at him. He stopped at the local grocery store and bought a small bouquet of flowers from the produce rack.

He knew where the grave was even though it had been a while. Tom arranged the flowers in front of her headstone and then sat on the wet grass. He leaned his head against the cold marble. There was a full moon above that played games with the lighting in the cemetery. He was alone. It was after hours and he really wasn’t supposed to be there but he didn’t want to have this conversation with anyone else around.

“Hey babe, I’m sorry it’s been so long. You’re probably pissed, I know…” Tom heard the silence and felt the cool breeze. “I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. They finally found the guy who hurt you… I am so sorry for all that you went through. Hey Joyce, I almost killed him, but someone else beat me to it. I did beat him up though and put him in the hospital.” He thought of all the trouble he had gotten into being accused of killing Dunlop. “Okay, maybe I wouldn’t have killed him. But I wanted to…”

He closed his eyes and remembered a time when they were tumbling around behind the football field tickling each other. She had accidentally swung and hit him in the lip. She was so upset because his lip bled. He teased her and made so much fun of her that day. “Hey, I saw your folks and your baby sister. Kristen looks so much like you. It really threw me when I first saw her, I almost thought it was you. Cat was also amazed at the resemblance.” He swallowed and let his words be absorbed in the night. “Remember how we both were so frustrated because Cat and Stephanie were such pains in the butt to us and how we swore they’d never grow up? Well Steph’s in Iraq in the marines. And Cat’s a mom! Do you believe it? Wow.”

Tears came to his eyes as he remembered seeing her casket lowered into the ground. He felt like his heart had turned ice cold that day. “Life has gone on all around us babe. So many things have changed… So many things.” He put his hand on the marble headstone and wished he could feel some life force or something. Tom had heard stories from people who claimed it happened to them. The stone was cold and still.

“Joyce, I met someone. I fell in love with her, but I don’t know if I am ever going to see her again. She walked away from me. But I love her. Her name is Alli. But I swear my heart can feel again.”

There was no explanation for it, no reason to believe it. An incredible calm feeling engulfed Tom suddenly. He sat upright and looked at the headstone. His fingers traced the little cherub that was engraved in the stone. He just felt as if Joyce had smiled for him. “I want to find her. I want to marry her and have a family with her. I don’t know where to start looking but I know I don’t want to lose her too.” He leaned his forehead against the stone and closed his eyes tightly against the tears. “I think you understand. Thank you.”

Tom sat in the darkness remembering Joyce’s love, remembering the way Alli made him feel. It was several minutes before he spoke again. He was sure that Joyce was filling him with hope for a future. He almost swore he could hear her voice telling him to live and love.

Somehow he knew that Joyce liked Alli. Finally he got to his knees and faced Joyce’s name engraved on the stone. “I love you babe. I always will, that’s never going to die.” But it was good that he could love again. Joyce was happy for him, he was sure of it. He just had to find Alli. “Thank you.” He placed a kiss on the top of the headstone. “Good bye.”

Within the Law

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