The Body in the Pool Chapter 4

The Body in the Pool

Book One of the Dismember Killer Series


Chapter Four

Another flight of stairs and several more long hallways, Doctor Wallsgraf stopped before Room 319. “Please keep in mind the boy is a minor.”
“A minor over the age of sixteen,” Spence retorted. “I don’t suspect him of this crime, I do need to know what he saw.”
The headmaster nodded.
“And I think that would go better if you waited out in the hall.”
“The students don’t have single rooms.”
“Where is there a measure of privacy?”
“There’s a study at the end of the hall. You could use that.”
Spence nodded. “Can you arrange for my partner to speak to the security guard on duty?”
“Fine.” The headmaster replied shortly. “I suppose the sooner you decide we are victims and have nothing to do with this crime the sooner you will be gone.”
Spence held his tongue and waited for Doctor Wallsgraf to knock.
When the door opened, the headmaster asked the young man to send Curt out into the hallway. His roommate complied with an excited, “Dude, po-po is here for you.”
A moment later, the seventeen year old in question appeared at the door. “I didn’t do it I swear.”
Spence’s hair rose fractionally. This was a standard response from teenagers, giving a detective an advantage if he wanted to push it. Spence thought he might as well. “Well then, Curt, let’s talk about what you did do.”
“Curt, this detective just wants to know what you saw tonight.” The headmaster said soothingly.
Spence sighed. “Let’s step down the hall to the study and talk there.”
Curt nodded.
“Thank you.” Spence said in a tone to dismiss the headmaster, although he could feel his eyes watching them walk away for more than a reasonable amount of time. The headmaster was definitely nervous about what Curt might say. Was he more nervous than was reasonable to expect given the circumstances?
The study room was barely five feet by eight feet and the front wall was all glass, granting anyone passing by in the hall a full view of any goings on. Spence pulled out a chair, “Have a seat.”
Curt sat; his left knee bouncing up and down.
“What’s your full name?”
“Curt Anderson.”
“And you’re seventeen?”
Curt nodded.
“Have you called your parents about tonight?”
“Hell no. I mean heck no.”
“Could you have called if you wanted to?”
“I guess but they would make a lot of fuss.”
Spence nodded, requirements met. “Parents tend to do that.” Especially in his line of work. “So you and Stacy.” Spence waited.
A slow smile spread across Curt’s face. “She’s smokin’ hot.”
“Been an item long?”
“Not really. She’s kind of,” Curt paused, “Complicated. She’s not into how much money you have or who you know or where you summer. It’s all about art. I had to spend like all summer studying up to have a conversation with her.”
“Right on,” Spence said as he laughed. “Tonight, you two were heading outside to…”
Curt swallowed. “Look at the stars.”
Spence nodded. “Nice cloudy night for it.”
Curt fidgeted in his seat.
“How’d you go out?”
“Through one of the glass doors in the library.”
Spence nodded. “And when you got outside did you notice anything?”
“Like what?”
“Anything that wasn’t as it usually is?”
“No, everything was fine.”
“You didn’t happen to look at the pool on your way out?”
“We kinda did actually. We were thinking the pool might be fun. Changed our minds cause the cover is such a pain in the ass to drag off and right in view of the house…” Curt trailed off.
“Go on.”
“We, uh, we left the pool deck, looked at the stars a while, and then came back. The night security guard makes rounds right before he comes on. We wanted to be back in our rooms before then.”
“Does everyone know about the rounds schedule?”
“Oh yeah. When they make rounds, how many of them are around, when the security system is down. Gotta know when it’s safe to…look at the stars.”
These kids were informed, excellent criminals in the making. “What did you see when you came back?”
“It wasn’t what I saw. Well, it was. First I heard the gate bang. That’s what made me look over that way. Then I saw the pool cover all wrong on one side.”
“And then?” Spence prodded.
“We walked over to look. I don’t know why. As soon as I saw the pool cover I wasn’t worried anymore about the guard coming. Why is that?”
“Immediacy. Our brains are designed to respond to things in the now even when it makes no sense. Even when worse is coming in the next five minutes. The now holds sway.”
Curt nodded. “That’s cool dude.”
“It’s something.” Spence said wryly.
“I kind of dragged Stacy along with me. And when I looked in the pool that dude was like floating there.”
Spence nodded and waited.
“Stacy lost her shit. Like totally freaked out. Screaming. I knew we were busted when she started that.”
“Who showed up first after Stacy started screaming?”
“The night guard. He came running, which was super funny because he has all this stuff on his belt and it was flopping all over the place, and he was trying to hold it all and run at the same time.”
Spence gave a courtesy laugh.
“I know right. Idiot. Like when has he ever needed half that junk.”
When indeed. Spence grabbed his phone. “Give me a quick second.” He texted Tom: Check the equipment on the guard’s belt. “Thanks. Let me ask you this. You didn’t see anything weird when you left the building, did you smell anything weird?”
“Not when we left. But yeah I smelled BBQ when we came back. Made me kind of hungry, then kind of like I wanted to puke.”
There was no way Spence was going to mention what he thought had been grilling. “I can see that. Is there anything else?”
“Like what?” Curt asked.
“I don’t know. Anything that makes you think ‘huh, that’s weird.’ Or that you can’t quite place. Something that rubs you wrong?”
Curt burst out laughing.
“Double entendre aside. Anything?”
Curt shook his head.
“Anything the headmaster wouldn’t want you to tell me?” Spence fished a little since he had the pond to himself.
Curt didn’t say anything for a moment. “It’s decent here. They try to be strict,” he laughed. “They’re not really on top of shit. And lately, I dunno. It’s like the headmaster has been extra distracted.”
Spence raised an eyebrow and waited. Curt was focused on the tabletop, using the side of his thumb nail to scratch at a gouge. “Can I go back to my room now?”
“Sure.” Spence stood and pulled his card case from his pocket. He handed Curt a card. “Call me if you think of anything else.”
Curt nodded. “Are you gonna talk to Stacy, too?”
“Of course.”
“Could you not mention the whole studying all summer to talk to her thing?”
“No problem.” Spence said with a smile.
“Thanks, man.” Curt left the room.
Spence flipped through his notes. Not much there. Maybe Tom had better luck with the guard.

The Body in the Pool Chapter 3

The Body in the Pool

Book One of the Dismember Killer Series


Chapter Three

Tom led the way down a long hallway. Marbled floors echoed their steps. Dimly lit wall sconces provided minimal illumination. Tom turned a corner and stopped in front of an open door.
“Mr. Wallsgraf?” Tom asked.
“Doctor.” The man behind the desk removed his glasses and looked up.
“No, it’s Detective Harding.”
“No. I mean, I am Doctor Wallsgraf.”
Spence stepped into the office. “Detective Thomas.” Spence noted the over-sized mahogany desk, the lightly faded Persian rug on the floor, and roaring fire in front of leather wing-back chairs to one side of the room. “I can imagine this situation has been quite distressing for you.”
“Why, yes it has.” The headmaster’s face softened.
“It is important that we get as much information as we can about the situation.”
Wallsgraf nodded. “Of course. I don’t know what I can tell you that I haven’t already told Detective Harding.”
Spence smiled. “I know how frustrating the process of detection can be to those who are encountering it for the first time.”
Tom made a sound not unlike a warbled cough.
Spence shot him a quick glance. “Start from the beginning of your night for me.”
“From dinner? Or?”
“Do you live on site?”
“I do.”
“Let’s start with what woke you.” Spence sat in a chair in front of the desk.
Tom milled about the edge of the room, looking at the items Doctor Wallsgraf chose to display and listening to the conversation without watching their body language.
“I believe it was a scream that woke me. Clearly a young, female voice. I sat in my bed for several minutes trying to place what had occurred.”
“You didn’t immediately investigate?” Spence interrupted.
“Well, no.” Doctor Wallsgraf stopped speaking.
Spence waited. He could wait all day if he needed to. The pressure of speech would eventually force words.
“Sometimes.” Wallsgraf stopped again. “Our population is unusual. The occasional nighttime sound is not exceptional.”
“When did you decide this was exceptional?”
“The security officer on duty called me.”
Spence nodded and made a note in his book.
“I got dressed and went downstairs.”
“If you remember, what exactly did the officer say to you?”
“I don’t remember the exact words, essentially he informed me two students were out after hours, breaking curfew, and that there was a security breach.”
“Did you think the students in question were the security breach?”
“I did wonder what he meant. The guard thought I should see for myself.”
“You got dressed and went downstairs. Very reasonable, continue.”
“The female student was hysterical. I asked the boy to take her to our nurse. The security officer informed me there was an issue in the pool. I walked out onto the pool deck and then immediately called the police.”
“Did you recognize the victim?”
Spence pulled up the picture on his phone and held it out. “Are you sure you don’t recognize the victim?”
Blood drained out of the headmaster’s face and he shook his head.
“I would like to speak to the students and your security officer.”
“I don’t think that should be necessary.” Wallsgraf’s eyebrows squished together.
Spence smiled. “It is necessary.”
Doctor Wallsgraf ceased making eye contact. Spence watched his eyes flick about the room. He picked up the fountain pen on his desk, unscrewed the cap, then replaced the cap and then the pen on the desk.
“I can arrange for you to see the security officer. However, it is quite out of the question for you to interrogate students without their parents present.”
“How old are the students?”
“Our students range from twelve to eighteen years of age.” Doctor Wallsgraf’s nose twitched.
Spence waited.
“Sixteen and seventeen.”
“I think you know we can interview them in conjunction with a crime as material witnesses without parental presence as long as they have been given the opportunity to contact their parents. Do they have access to phones here?”
The headmaster sighed. “They all have cell phones.”
“I thought so.”
Doctor Wallsgraf stood. “Follow me.” He stalked across the room and into the hall. Spence returned his note pad to his pocket, caught Tom’s eye, and followed the headmaster out of the office. Tom would stay in the office as long as possible to take note of everything ‘in plain sight.’
Spence had little trouble matching stride with the several inches shorter headmaster. He even had breath to ask a few questions. “How long have you been the headmaster?”
“Seven years at this school.”
“You’ve worked at other schools, then?”
“Of course. I can provide you a list if necessary.”
“That would be helpful.” Spence wondered what he might find in the headmaster’s background. When a previously reticent interviewee suddenly volunteered information, it made Spence’s hair stand up.
They walked several long hallways and one flight of stairs before arriving at the infirmary. Doctor Wallsgraf knocked before entering. “Nancy?”
“Yes, headmaster?” Six feet of blonde, curvy goddess stepped around a curtained alcove. It was the middle of the night and she was flawless.
“The detective would like to talk to Stacy and Curt.” The headmaster gestured to Spence.
“Detective Thomas, ma’am.” Forget hot for teacher, Spence had a shrewd idea a lot of students got sick around here.
“Hello, detective. I’m afraid I sent Curt back to his room. He really wasn’t helping matters with Stacy.”
“Then can I speak with Stacy while I’m here?”
“She’s asleep now, the poor thing. I prescribed hot Chamomile and honey. That seemed to do the trick. Hysteria is nine-tenths exhaustion you know.”
Spence sighed. No point in waking the girl up now.
“You know detective, Curt is likely to be asleep as well. Perhaps you could return in the morning to question them both.”
Spence considered the headmaster’s suggestion. The problem with returning in the morning: it allowed the headmaster to ‘adjust’ what the students might say without his influence. “Let’s take a look see at the boy’s room. See if he’s awake, tweeting about his experience.”

Wednesday Words #2

With the editing of others: I finally finished editing that 105K word fantasy novel and broke the sad news to the author that genre standard for a YA fantasy is 80K, with a 90K max. She didn’t cry. I was impressed. She did start sharpening her hatchet though. I am going to assume that was so she could slash her word count…

With my own writing: I haven’t written too many new words on my novel. I am however operating like I am a functioning author. LOL. I’m getting reviews, doing interviews, participating in promos.

Emotionally: Great question. I think what it comes down to for me is this. The idea of not writing makes me sadder than not being read. Eventually people will read will me. Or maybe they won’t. Maybe I will always have just over average book sales.  I think I can learn to live with that. Maybe.

Topic for debate on my writing: To serialize or Not?

I’m considering serializing my spy novel to my blog as opposed to publishing it. I have two reasons for doing this. A) I feel like it will give me a deadline on my editing. Gotta make my post. B) I get to short circuit the whole, I published and no one cared issue.

Would you serialize, self-publish, or traditional publish? Why?