Read A Crying Shame: A Jesse Watson Mystery Online
Authors: Ann Mullen
|A Crying Shame: A Jesse Watson Mystery|
|Jesse Watson Mysteries |
|Afton Ridge Pub. (2012)|
When Carl, an alleged kidnapper, ends up missing, Jesse and Claire search for clues inside his home. Instead, they find trouble: a psychotic killer who will stop at nothing to exact revenge.
by Ann Mullen
Copyright © 2005 by Ann Mullen
This book is a work of fiction. Any characters
portrayed, living or dead are imaginary. Any resemblance to actual persons is
completely coincidental. Any places, business establishments, locales, events,
or incidents in this book are the product of the author’s imagination, or used
book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
The drive from the
was long and tiresome. Billy and I had just spent our
honeymoon in a cozy cabin nestled in the woods, covered with six-foot snow
drifts. For two weeks, the wind howled and whisked its way through the trees.
Not once did we venture outside to explore the scenery as we had planned, but
instead, spent most of our time cuddled up by the fireplace, wrapped in each
other’s arms. We talked for hours. It was so wonderful, but as they say, all
good things must come to an end, and it was time to get back to the real world.
We’d made a promise to each other that we wouldn’t discuss our next job or
anything else that involved our business while we were on our honeymoon, but
since we were on our way back home, I figured it was okay to do so now.
“Tell me about this guy, Brian Cherry,” I said as I slid over
closer to Billy. I couldn’t help but think of how much I had come to love this
man in such a short time. Not so long ago I was sure that Cole James was the
man of my dreams, but the dealer had dealt the cards, and Billy and I turned
out to be the winning pair.
My name is Jesse Watson. I moved with my folks to a little
town called Stanardsville in the beautiful
Blue Ridge Mountains
. This happened a little less than a
year ago and since then, many life-altering changes have occurred. My father,
Mack, died from a heart attack shortly after our arrival, leaving my mother,
Minnie, alone for the first time in her life. Much to my surprise, Mom has
handled his death well. She’s a strong woman. My sister, Claire, and her
husband Carl, separated and will soon become divorced. This makes me happy to
no end, since I never did like Carl. The only thing he ever did for anyone else
other than himself was to father two delightful children. Carrie and Benny are
the light of my sister’s eyes, and I love the way Benny calls me Ant Jess. I
guess one day I’ll have to tell him that I’m not an ant. Eventually, Claire and
the kids moved in with Mom permanently, and I moved out. I took up residency in
Billy Blackhawk’s house in
. In the midst of all this, I had a
short, but intense romance with Billy’s childhood friend,
deputy, Cole James. Cole could’ve been the perfect man for me if he’d invested
more time into our relationship. Unfortunately, his job was more important than
I was. After a very short courtship, Billy Blackhawk and I discovered that we
were meant to be together, and were married on Christmas Eve. We expect the
arrival of our first child in August. And somewhere in the middle of all this,
my brother, Jack, revealed to us that he is gay.
“His name is Brian Cherry and he wants us to investigate the
disturbing incident that happened to his wife and child,” Billy said. “He
firmly believes the doctor was negligent.”
“I remember you said that both of them almost died in
childbirth. That’s a scary thought considering I’ll be going through the same
thing pretty soon,” I said, my voice a little shaky. Most of my life it was all
I could do to take care of myself; now I would be responsible for the life of
someone else. The whole concept was a lot for me to take in. However, it was a
little late to change my mind.
“If you don’t want us to take on this case, I’ll understand.
I know it hits close to home.”
“I can handle it. I think I can handle almost anything as
long as I have you by my side.” I winked at Billy, leaned over and kissed his
cheek. “You’re the best thing that has ever happened to me.”
“Aw shucks, you say the sweetest things.”
“Lord, help me.”
“One of the first places we’ll check out is,” Billy said as
he began his detailed explanation, “ER Care One. It’s located on Rt. 29 in
“You know I’m terrible on directions, Billy. Just give me a
“It’s across the street from Durrer Remodeling—the white, two
story house with a big sign out front. Coming from
, the medical center is on the right
about a tenth of a mile before you get to the Rt. 29/Rt. 33 intersection in
“Oh, yeah, I remember now.”
“Anyway, the emergency center is like a mini-mall of
doctors—a one-stop-shop is what I call it. It has a twenty-four hour emergency
care facility in the middle, and is surrounded by a lot of smaller
buildings—doctor’s offices. You can go in and have your head stitched up and if
you need follow up treatment later, you can go right next door. There’s a
doctor for your every need. They even have a drug store there. They all belong
to Regional Health Associates—a locally based group of doctors and health care
“I’m going to need a doctor for my back if we don’t hurry up
and get home. It’s been a long ride.”
“We’re almost there. Just try to hang in.”
“Oh, I’ll be fine,” I said. I lay my head back and waited for
Billy to continue with his story.
“Brian Cherry’s wife, Vicki, was about eight months pregnant
when she developed preclampsia and was confined to bed rest.”
“It’s a condition that can develop, usually in the latter
stages of pregnancy. It causes elevated blood pressure, blurred vision,
swelling of the feet and hands, and protein in the urine. It’s treated with bed
rest, fluids, and a special diet. If the condition becomes severe, it can lead
to seizures and even death. They usually induce labor before it gets to that
“How do you know so much about this preclampsia thing?”
“I did some research on the computer after I got the call
from Mr. Cherry.”
“What else do I have to look forward to in the next few
“It’s just a possibility. It doesn’t mean you’ll develop this
“What about Vicki’s obstetrician?”
“Oh, believe me; we’ll turn him inside out before this
investigation is over. When Mr. Cherry’s wife started having premature labor
pains, he called the doctor. The doctor told him to go to a first care center
close by, or to a hospital in
. Mr. Cherry took her to ER Care One.
They did some paperwork and then told him to have a seat in the waiting
room—they would get to him as soon as possible. It was a busy night. He said
the room was packed to capacity, so he told them to kiss his… well, you know.
He immediately took his wife to the hospital where they performed an emergency
c-section. It seems that not only was his wife in labor, but the baby was in
distress. His quick thinking probably saved both their lives.”
“So her obstetrician shirked his duties and sent her to that
emergency facility. He should have known better. It was his job to take care of
her right then. He should have sent them directly to the hospital.”
“It turns out that Vicki’s doctor had been drinking most of
the day. It was his day off. He couldn’t have taken care of her properly even
if he’d wanted to.”
“Once we get the dirt on the doctor and the clinic, then
“If we can prove that there was neglect and endangerment on
’s part, Mr. Cherry can sue.”
“Is that his ultimate goal? Does he want to sue, or does he
have an ulterior motive?”
“What are you talking about?”
“The crisis is over and his wife and child are doing fine.
What would be the point in suing? Is he just trying to make a big stink?”
“I can’t blame him if that’s the case. If it were me, I
couldn’t just let it go. You have to remember that he almost lost his family
because of that doctor.”
“Don’t you think that’s a little over the edge?”
“Are you saying that you don’t blame the doctor?”
“No, that’s not what I’m saying, Billy. Actually, I don’t
know what I’m trying to say. I’m tired and I can’t think straight.”
“I’d think that you’d be the first one to jump right in and
blast that doctor.”
“Mr. Cherry has just cause to be angry, but I don’t think he
has a case. I say we have a long talk with him before we make any decisions.”
“We’re coming up on our exit,” Billy said, pointing to the
sign. “Do you want to go straight home or stop at your mom’s house to pick up
“Let’s stop at Mom’s house and get the dogs,” I answered. I
was tired, but at the same time, I wanted to see Mom and Claire. I particularly
wanted to get the latest on Claire and my ex-lover, Cole. Just before Billy and
I got married, Claire and Cole’s relationship went from being friends to being
lovers. Cole immediately spoke of marriage. There was no doubt in my mind that
he was on the rebound and intent on revenge. He was a scorned man.
“I wonder how Cole’s doing,” Billy said.
My mind drifted back to those final moments when I thought
Cole had died. I could still hear the hissing sound of the bullet as it passed
by the side of my head, and remember the fear in my heart when I looked down
and saw Cole lying on the floor. Blood ran down the side of his face. His eyes
But that was a while back and since then, Cole has recovered
and acquired a real zest for life. It was obvious to Billy and me that his new
love for Claire was a facade. It was his way of throwing water in our faces.
Cole didn’t love Claire; he was just using her.
“I’m sure he’s doing fine. You know Cole…”
Billy put on his signal and made the turn toward Stanardsville.
“I’m just waiting for him to go off. I really do believe he has brain damage
from that gunshot to his head. Only time will tell.” He glanced over at me.
“Why don’t you give your mother a call and make sure they’re home? Here, use
the truck phone.” He reached down, pulled it from its cradle and then handed it
I punched in the numbers and waited for a few seconds.
“Sorry,” I said. “It rang once and then stopped. Now there’s nothing but
static.” I replaced the phone. “We need to get rid of this phone. It’s
outdated. Besides, with all the new cell phone technology, who needs a phone in
their car? We don’t need to call. It’s time for dinner. I’m sure they’re home.”
Billy gave me a wink. “I guess you’re right about that. Cell
phones are a dime a dozen. Car phones are obsolete. As long as one of us has a
working, charged cell phone, who needs an old car phone anymore? Ah… did you
forget to charge your cell phone? I guess the first order of business is to
purchase a new one for me since you destroyed my other one.” He laughed out
“You deserved it! How many people do you know who carry a
cell phone to their own wedding? You should be ashamed of yourself!”
“How was I to know that someone was going to call?”
“That’s not the point!”
Billy kept his eyes on the road as he reached over, took my
hand in his, and gave it a kiss. “Please forgive me. It won’t happen again.”
I had to laugh. “You can bet it won’t, Mr. Blackhawk. In
twenty-five years from now when we renew our vows, I’ll make sure of it!”
Our banter continued until we reached the intersection of Rt.
South River Road
. Several Greene County Police cars
had traffic at a halt.
“What do you think this is all about?” I asked Billy.
“It might just be a routine traffic stop,” he replied.
“They’re probably doing an alcohol check.”
“Today’s Sunday, Billy.”
“You think people don’t drink on Sunday?”
“I see what you mean.”
An officer walked up to the truck and motioned for Billy to
roll the window down. “May I see your driver’s license, sir?”
A blast of cold air rushed in. Winter was at its peak.
“What’s the problem, officer?” Billy asked. He reached into
his back pocket and withdrew his wallet.
The officer gave us the once-over before he spoke. “We’re on
the lookout for a couple of missing children.”
“As you can see,” I said, “there’s nobody here but us.”
The officer examined Billy’s license and then handed it back
to him. “Have a nice day, sir.” He waved us on. “Keep moving.”
“That’s so sad,” I said. “I hate to see things like that
happen. Crimes against children are the worst.”
“It makes you wonder what’s going through a person’s mind
when they pull such a crazy stunt. It has to be an act of desperation.”
“I wouldn’t call it a stunt; I’d call it a crime. A person
who does something like this should be shot!” The words were barely out of my
mouth when I suddenly had a vision of Rebecca Miller. Mrs. Miller was one of
Billy’s clients who had gone home and shot her adulterous husband, and then
told the police that Billy told her to do it. That was a real nightmare.
Billy and I looked at each other at the same time.
“Well, maybe not shot, but definitely put in jail,” I added.