Each week 1000 words or more, of a continuing story, will be posted Friday
(equivalent to approximately 3 paperback pages).
Part One - Chapter Five
(Saga began with original story post one / chapter one - on May 23rd- see archives on this blog)
Real Horror Games
We rolled to a stop and parallel parked in front of Real Horror Games’ storefront. It was located on Elm Street in downtown Glen Falls, which was a small city, not too far from the college town where the victim, Jennifer Taylor, had lived. There was a line of storefronts on this street, older buildings with large glass windows from ceiling to floor, built during the Industrial Era that once grew this community with jobs at local mills, which busily created fabric and paper. The industries have left now, and most of the structures that managed to remain are homes to the new up and coming restaurants, that seemed to attract the younger crowd to the streets, and created the only current industry still vital, tourism. Like most old towns and cities in this hillside county, the business owners struggled to make ends meet, so any new customers were pampered. They tried to cash in by using WI-Fi friendly cafes and lounges, to give the new digital generation what they wanted. This store was a niche for gamers. The store had the old front glass, large and ornate with yesteryear trim, but painted over with colored modern twists and design. It was attractive for the crowd they sought - young nerds.
“Well this is quaint.” I said sarcastically.
Rory smiled for a second and then got right to business.
“Tell me what you know about this place.” he demanded.
I explained all I knew, which wasn’t much, and then he reminded me this was his investigation, and that he would ask the questions. I was welcomed to tag along, but merely as spectator. I shook my head in agreement since that was better than nothing. I internally decided I would be the eyes and ears, and try to notice everything possible, about the people and the place. Maybe that was my way of deluding myself that I was important, and could solve this murder case. Boy, in retro spec, I had no idea what I - I mean we - were up against.
Rory got out of the car and I followed like a good little Ranger. The door to the shop had a bell that tingled as we entered, with an yesteryear sound that matched the store structure. The floor was old wood, that swayed and creaked underfoot, as we made our way to the counter that was positioned to the side. The ceilings were high and still showed off the old tin panels, but the walls clashed with murals of colorful swirls and modern scape of game worlds, abstract design, and cartoon characters with exaggerated features. I wished I had a figure as busty and curvy as the girl drawn on the wall, touting a gun in one hand and giving a super hero peace sign with the other. At least my hair was as wavy, when I let my hair out of a ponytail after work. I wondered if Rory still thought I was beautiful, and then I internally snapped myself out of that revere. There was no time to reminisce about our old romance. It was over a long time ago, and there was no hope to relive the past.
Rory leaned over the counter and tapped the young man’s shoulder to get his attention. He was wearing a pair of noise reduction headphones and didn’t even notice we were there. This clerk was any thief’s best friend. He turned with a start and quickly took off the head gear when he noticed Rory’s uniform. He was intimidating, wearing the gray blues of a state trooper. Rory smiled and the clerk seemed to ease his nervousness a bit.
“How can I help you Sir?” the clerk asked.
“I need a list of your clients. Everyone who bought games at your place.”
“Sure, no problem. I can run a sales report; it will only take a few minutes. Just give me the time frame you need.”
“The past month.” Rory said.
The young man turned around and started the task. I knew this wasn’t what we needed, but was told not to say anything, so I gently kicked Rory instead. He turned and looked down at me with his forehead crunched in a frown. I couldn’t tell if he was angry or wondering, what the hell. I murmured through my teeth, but he didn’t hear me, so he bent his ear close to my mouth and I whispered again.
“We need to know about the real life role playing games. Maybe she got into trouble participating.” I suggested.
His cologne wafted up to my nose and a sweet memory of him was sparked. A warm thought. Rory’s face lit up after my mumbles. He turned his attention to the clerk and clicked his fingers to get his attention again.
“You know, what I really need also, is a list of all your role playing games, and the members, and of course the players.”
Rory smiled. The clerk looked scared, his face turned red and he started fidgeting with his hands, rolling his fingers back and forth on the counter top. The thumping of his fingers sounded like a small drum roll, as he stammered a moment, then he said,
“Sorry, but I can’t give you that information.”
Rory looked confused, then disappointed and then angry. It all passed through his face, and those big dark eyes of his, in an instant flash. I felt myself losing it, knew my resolve was slipping away, I was still infatuated with him. Every facial emotion stirred a memory. No wonder I never dated anyone since, I was still in love with him, even though he broke my heart. I kicked myself internally for feeling this way, and reminded myself I couldn’t let him know. I had to keep my secret to myself. What a fool I was!
“Listen young man, this is an investigation. I need that information now.”
“I think you need to talk with the owner. He promises to keep everyone’s anonymity, you know, everyone doesn’t even use their real names anyway. I don’t have that information, only he does.”
“How can I contact him? The owner I mean.”
The young clerk scrawled a number and address on a pad that was near the register, tore off the sheet and handed it to Rory. Rory’s face lit up red as he read the the note. He turned and went back to the cruiser. We left and went directly to the residence of the owner, Keaton Hakes. Rory was quiet while driving to our next stop, and I wondered what was going on in his mind.
“Sorry I kicked you back there.” I said.
“He shook himself out of his thoughts, and looked over puzzled, and then said,
“Don’t worry about it. Thanks for the reminder. Maybe we can get some real answers now.”
He smiled half heartily. He still seemed upset. The cruiser made it to the residence in record time. The car crawled up the slope of the long, steep driveway, which opened up into a car port area, once on top of the hill. The house was huge, a three story old Victorian, with fancy details and a tri-color paint job. In the world of houses, this was a classic. We both got out of the car and stepped up to the porch. The front door opened before Rory could ring the bell.
“Please come in Sir, Miss.”
A house maid opened the door wide, and bowed her head for us to enter. She was wearing a uniform and apron, something you only see in movies on the late show. Her face was timid and small, a petite figure, and she had shoulder length brown curly hair. I noted in my head that she resembled the dead girl, and hoped that it meant nothing.
“Mr. Hakes is expecting you. Follow me.”
We followed her through the grand marble floored hall and into a great room. The room was decked out with antique satin and velvet furniture, highly polished woods, oriental carpets on the gleaming floors, and lots of flowers in crystal vases. We both heard rattling and looked across the room, where there was another doorway. The glass doors opened and a man entered.
“Well hello officer. What can I do for you? My employee called and said you would be stopping by. Please have a seat.”
The man waved his arms towards the sofa and chair arrangement. Then Keaton Hakes held out his hand to shake, but Rory didn’t take it. Instead he went right to the questions. He flipped open a notebook and had a pencil in hand.
“Mr. Hakes, we need a complete list of all the live role players that have been using your services, as well as the descriptions of said games.”
Rory looked straight into the man’s eyes, without a blink, as he listened to his response. The man shook his head and started talking about protecting his clients rights. Rory let Mr. Hakes ramble a bit, a technique often used, hoping some information might leak through the gibberish, and offer leverage into the questioning. Rory had heard enough and interrupted him.
“Sorry Mr. Hakes, but that argument does not apply, and if you don’t cooperate, you will be charged with interfering with an investigation, and not cooperating with an open case. We need the documents.”
I had never heard Rory so firm and hard. His voice was almost dangerous. I realized then, that these two already know each other. There was some kind of history between them that I wasn’t privy to. Keaton Hakes walked to the desk in the room, his eyes still staring at Rory with hatred, as he opened a drawer. He pulled some papers out, and briefly looked through them, and then he held out his hand with a few sheets of white paper, flapping in the air.
“I think this is what you want. I hope you don’t harass my clients, I pride myself to do business with discretion.” Keaton Hakes said.
“Let’s hope that’s all you need to worry about.” Rory said.
He turned and walked out; I followed, like a good little Ranger.
Until next week - happy reading! and writing.
Until next week - happy reading! and writing.