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Authors: Dave Zeltserman

Dying Memories

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Dying Memories

By Dave Zeltserman

 

 

 

Electronic Edition Copyright ©2011 by Dave Zeltserman

 

All rights reserved as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior permission of the publisher.

 

StoneGate Ink 2011

 

StoneGate Ink

Nampa ID 83686

www.stonegateink.com

 

First eBook Edition: 2011

 

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to a real person, living or dead is coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

Zeltserman, Dave

Dying Memories: a novel/ by Dave Zeltserman.

 

Cover design by Fuji Aamabreorn

 

Published in the United States of America

 

StoneGate Ink

 

 

 

 

Praise for Blood Crimes, Book One:

 

“Dave has managed to meld the two genres of crime and horror into one hell of a ride: PI's, crime lords, drug gangs, sultry babes and more low life scum than you can count all collide with explosive results in this genre bending masterpiece.”

—Jim Mcleod, Ginger House of Nuts

 

"You [will be] gaping at your Kindle in shock."

—Peter Leonard, Man Eating Bookworm

 

Praise for the Julius Katz Mysteries
:

 

"Absolutely fantastic!"

—Minding Spot

 

"I love these stories!"

—Timothy Hallinan, the author of The Queen of Patpong

 

"If you want to read an amazing story… read Dave Zeltserman's 'Julius Katz.'Zeltserman evokes Rex Stout, Nero and Archie in the most fascinating way."

—Author Joe Barone

 

Praise for Bad Karma:

 

It’s as though Zeltserman has aimed a 12-gauge sawed-off at smarmy New Age sensitivities and fired off both barrels… if you liked the first novel in this series, you’ll love this one.

—Elliott Swanson

 

“If you haven't read Zeltserman's work, it's time to start. He's making quite a name for himself these days.”

—Bill Crider

 

“Top-notch P.I. reading.”

—Bruce Grossman

 

 

 

Other Books by Dave Zeltserman

 

Bad Karma

Blood Crimes

Outsourced

The Caretaker of Lorne Field

21 Tales

Julius Katz Mysteries

Killer

Pariah

Small Crimes

Bad Thoughts

Fast Lane

 

DYING MEMORIES

Prologue

Other than the man who watched her intently though a pair of high-powered binoculars from a fifth-floor office window across the street, most of the people who passed the woman didn’t notice her, which was understandable. She was in her thirties, nondescript, dressed neither expensively nor shabbily, her hair thin and dull brown in color, her body hidden under a bulky black-and-white checkered cloth coat. It didn’t help matters as far as her near invisibility went that she was standing at a busy spot for pedestrians rushing off to work: right outside the entrance for the forty floor office building at One Post Office Square in the heart of Boston’s financial district.

Those who did glance at her might’ve wondered about the tautness hardening her face into an angry mask and the deadness glazing her red-rimmed eyes if they weren’t so preoccupied with their own busied thoughts or their cell phone conversations or wolfing down their greasy breakfast sandwiches and gulping down the remnants of their coffee. It was eight thirty-seven in the morning, which meant that most of these people were already seven minutes late for work. The few who did slow down on noticing her assumed that her obvious distress was over something trivial, such as a rough morning or an unpleasant business meeting scheduled for later, and they sped up quickly as they dismissed the idea that she was anyone to be concerned about.

They paid attention to her after the shots blasted out. There were a lot of them and everything seemed to stop then. Nobody screamed, though. As people turned to her she stood stone-faced, her right hand stretched out in front of her, her knuckles white as she gripped the handgun that had earlier been hidden under her cloth coat, red speckles dotting her coat sleeve and gun hand, the acrid smell of gunpowder penetrating the crisp autumn air. Lying on the sidewalk crumpled only a few feet from her was a well-dressed man, his legs twisted unnaturally beneath him. From the gray showing in his hair and his weathered face, he appeared to have been in his early fifties. He looked like before the shooting that he could’ve been a good-looking man; slim, athletic, but it was hard to tell with the way his chest had been turned to a bloody pulp and the gaping red hole carved out where his left eye had been only seconds earlier. Some of the people staring at the scene were probably in shock, others might’ve thought this was some sort of TV stunt and were expecting Ashton Kutcher or some other such person to come running out yelling that they had all been
punk’d
.

Nobody ran, but people slowly began to back away from her, especially as they realized that as unreal as the scene may have seemed, it was quite real. The blood that had spattered on the woman was genuine, as was the gore littering the sidewalk and the blood pooling beneath the man that she had shot. He was dead. This wasn’t staged, the shooting wasn’t an elaborate special effects and makeup job. The gunshots still reverberating through the street were real. The woman standing as still as a statue with her gun hand outstretched had indeed fired bullets into the man lying dead on the sidewalk in front of her.

As people moved away from her they did so as if they were moving through molasses, even the ex-Marine who recognized the model of the gun that she was holding and was pretty sure he had counted seven shots, which would’ve left the magazine empty. When the crowd had gotten to what they felt was a safe distance from her, some stopped to watch, others continued on. Nobody spoke. A hushed silence had descended on the area. The woman seemed oblivious to them all, her attention focused solely on the ruined body of the man she had murdered.

Several minutes passed before the quiet was broken by the pulsating wail of police sirens. By the time four Boston police cruisers came screeching to a halt in front of her, the woman was alone on the sidewalk; all other pedestrians had moved to the other side of Post Office Square to watch the events from there. Orders were barked at the woman to drop her gun.

The woman remained frozen. She appeared unaware of the small mob of police officers shouting at her to give up her weapon. They didn’t fire on her. Instead three of them edged closer to her with their own guns drawn. When they got within ten feet of her, they charged her, first pulling her gun out of her hand, then pushing her to the sidewalk and, with their adrenaline pumping, violently jerking her arms behind her back so they could cuff her. The woman remained mute throughout it, just as she had while she had waited for her victim and later during her assassination of him. If she felt any pain from the near dislocation of both her shoulders or the abrasions that the rough cement of the sidewalk caused to her face, she didn’t show it. It was only when she was pulled to her feet that she muttered something under her breath.

One of the police officers asked her what she had said. He was holding her by her right elbow, his hard, narrow face red from the excitement, perspiration wetting his upper lip and gleaming along his forehead. She turned to face him, confused, as if she were only just realizing he was there.

“I’m glad I killed him,” she said.

The officer was still breathing hard from the arrest. He grunted, nodding towards the dead man. “You knew him?”

Her eyes grew small and her mouth started to quiver as she glanced towards what was left of the man she had shot seven times. She swallowed back whatever emotion was fighting to come surging out.

“I knew him,” she said. Her voice broke off for a moment before she continued. “Kent Forster. He raped and murdered my daughter. Jenny was only eleven when that monster did that to her. He deserved worse than what I did.”

She started crying then. Mostly a silent sobbing, her face twisting into a massive crease and showing nothing but pain. Two of the officers put her in a police cruiser and drove off.

Simon, the man who had been watching her through binoculars, was alone in the office. He had also listened to her statement to the police using a state-of-the-art parabolic microphone. He was dressed neatly and conservatively in a dark gray suit, white shirt, light gray tie, and black oxfords. Thin, with black hair that had been cut short, and a square-shaped and freshly-scrubbed pink face; his most distinguishing features other than the extreme pink hue of his skin color were slightly pointed ears and small round eyes that didn’t look much bigger than a pair of dimes. Satisfied with what he had seen and heard, he packed the equipment into a small canvas suitcase and left the office.

Chapter 1

Bill Conway was still buzzing from the day’s events. It was nine-thirty in the evening, and as he walked down Hanover Street in Boston’s North End to meet up with his buddy, Jeremy Brent, he couldn’t keep the silly grin off his face. Twenty minutes earlier he had put to bed the biggest story of his career so far, and for once Boston’s ugly sister of a newspaper, the
Tribune
, would be scooping the more prestigious
Globe
, as well as the
Herald
.

Thirty-five years old, six feet tall, a solid hundred and ninety-five pounds of mostly muscle, Bill was a good-looking man in a rough sort of way, even with all the little twists and bumps that had over the years been added to his nose. He had his thick, dark hair grown out far longer than from his army days, and several days of stubble covered his face, and that gave him an almost rock star look, or maybe more of that of a country music star. In the cool autumn night, he was dressed casually in sneakers, jeans, a black tee shirt, and his faded and heavily-worn leather bomber jacket. He tensed for a moment as he heard a rush of footsteps from behind, and waited for the hand that clasped him hard on the shoulder. Forcing a deadpan expression, he turned nonchalantly to see his friend, Jeremy alongside him with a large duffel bag slung over his shoulder, beaming at him.

“I thought that was you ahead of me,” Jeremy said, a little out of breath from his exertion to catch up to his friend. “Bill, thanks for meeting me tonight. I know it couldn’t have been easy with the shooting that went down today. Knowing O’Donnell, he must’ve been fighting to keep you chained at your desk.”

The ‘O’Donnell’ Jeremy was referring to was Jack O’Donnell, the city desk editor at the
Tribune
, and Bill’s boss. At one point Jack had been Jeremy’s boss also, but two years ago Jeremy left for greener pastures to the
Globe
, or at least what had seemed like greener pastures at the time. These days all newspapers were struggling, and regardless of the difference in their reputations, the
Globe
and the
Tribune
were tottering equally on the verge of extinction.

“Yeah, he tried,” Bill acknowledged, “and if you weren’t going off to Italy for ten days I probably would’ve let him guilt me into staying.”

“Fuck, I appreciate it.” Jeremy hesitated for a moment, then asked, “I heard you covered that shooting today?”

“You heard right.”

“Find anything interesting?”

Bill maintained his deadpan expression. “A few things. Like what she told the police.”

“Bullshit,” Jeremy said.

Bill just continued his empty stare, knowing from the way Jeremy’s smile had tightened that the
Globe
didn’t have the story. A buddy of his from basic training who was now a member of the Boston Police had been there at the scene and overheard the reason the woman gave for killing Kent Forster, and he repeated it to Bill, promising that no other newspaper or media outlet would have it, at least not given the departmental orders to keep it under wraps. The woman’s name was Gail Hawes, and as Bill dug into her background the story quickly became much more interesting. He couldn’t find a daughter named Jenny, or any child. He looked into whether she could’ve given up a baby when she was a teenager or in college, but there was nothing there either. No mysterious baby sister appearing in the family, nothing to explain where a child of hers might’ve gone. Her parents wouldn’t talk to him, but friends of the family that he was able to track down claimed she couldn’t have hid a pregnancy without them knowing about it. Since leaving college, Gail Hawes lived in Arlington and worked as an accountant. She had never been married, and according to a close work friend, hadn’t dated in several years. Co-workers and neighbors claimed she led a quiet life that focused on work. According to everyone Bill talked to about her, she was a decent and stable woman who never showed any signs of mental illness, and none of them could believe she did what she did. Even though Hawes clearly knew Forster by sight and where he had his office for his private hedge fund, so far Bill hadn’t been able to find any connection between the two of them.

Jeremy stood silently sizing Bill up, his hard grin tightening to the point where his canines showed through. “Okay,” he said, “I believe you. So what’s the story?”

Bill shrugged, and maintaining his pokerfaced expression, said, “You’ll have to read it tomorrow in the
Tribune
like everyone else, and don’t cry about being in Italy, you can look it up online. And what she told the police is only the tip of the iceberg.”

Jeremy made a face at that. “Sorry, I don’t read rags. Not even ones with your byline. Besides, over the next ten days I’m not going anywhere near a computer. Shit, Bill, I’m on a flight to Rome in two hours. There’s nothing I can do with the story since unlike that rag you work for, we at the
Globe
like to verify our stories before we run them. So why don’t you satisfy my curiosity and just spill it, okay?”

It was a bald-faced lie, one that Bill didn’t bother responding to. They both knew that Jeremy would be on the phone to his editor with whatever Bill told him. Jeremy broke off their staring contest first. His hard grin relaxed into something more good-natured and he offered Bill his hand.

“Forget it,” Jeremy said. “If you’re going to be a paranoid fuck, then keep it to yourself. But shit, if what you’re telling me is on the level then congratulations are in order. This is big. Breaking an exclusive like this could propel you, maybe get you into
Time
or
Newsweek
, or if you fix that nose of yours, TV. Or maybe even a book deal. I never thought I’d be jealous of someone working at the
Tribune
, but I got to say right now I am. You just might be able to escape this damn newspaper business before they all crash and burn.”

Bill took his friend’s hand. “Thanks.” With concern, he added, “You hear anything at the
Globe
?”

“No more than usual, but it’s bleak.”

They were standing in front of a small hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant, and Jeremy’s gaze drifted past Bill and towards the restaurant’s window. The restaurant was mostly empty but sitting at a table by the back wall was a woman in her late twenties with a small stack of books in front of her, along with a cup of espresso, but no food. She wore glasses, a Boston University sweatshirt that was several sizes too big for her, and had her long red hair pulled back into a ponytail. Bill found himself weak in the knees as he looked at her. She sat oblivious to him and Jeremy, her focus intent on one of her books, her brow furrowed deeply in concentration as she chewed on the end of a pen she was holding.

“You clean her up and she wouldn’t be half bad,” Jeremy remarked. “Definitely fuckable.” He gave Bill a quick questioning look. “How about a change of plan, and we eat here instead?”

Bill found himself nodding. It had been seven months since Karen broke up with him, and the wounds from that had cut him deep. Whether it was because of a low-grade depression or to give himself a chance to heal emotionally or that the breakup had left him too simmering in anger to risk allowing himself to be left vulnerable again, he had busied himself with work these past months and avoided thoughts of meeting someone new. This woman, though, took his breath away. It was more than just how attractive he found her; and she was certainly stunningly beautiful. More also than the gentleness she seemed to exude. It was as if at the instant he caught sight of her that he felt a connection he’d never quite felt before. He wouldn’t have been able to walk away from the restaurant if he wanted to, and he followed Jeremy inside, ignoring the crack his friend made under his breath about how with a little bit of luck he’ll be able to get her lips around something thicker and meatier than the tip of a pen during his cab ride to the airport.

When a waiter approached them, Jeremy asked for a table, preferably next to the woman sitting alone in the back. The waiter complied, sitting them at the table neighboring hers so that she’d be facing them if she weren’t too preoccupied with a book on Italian renaissance art to have noticed them. The other books stacked on her table were also on the subject of art history.

Jeremy interrupted the woman, asking if he and Bill could join her at her table. “In two hours I’m heading off to Italy for ten days, and since you obviously know a lot more about Italian art than I do I was hoping you could recommend museums for me to visit.”

She looked up, startled, consternation momentarily ruining her mouth over the prospect of having to turn him down. Then her eyes met Bill’s. He felt the jolt of electricity, and he was sure she did too. Her consternation vanished, and instead the corners of her lips pulled up slightly into a near heart-stopping smile.

“I’d like that,” she said, her eyes remaining locked on Bill’s.

Jeremy was oblivious to the way Bill and this woman were looking at each other, and as he left his seat to join her at her table, he gave Bill a sly wink, and asked her if she would like to join him on his trip—the wink to Bill clearly to indicate that what he really wanted was to get her in the cab with him to the airport. “I could try to scrounge up an extra ticket,” Jeremy offered. “My itinerary will have us in Rome, Florence and Venice. So what do you say, would you like to see these paintings in person instead of just from a book? Are you up for an adventure?”

Her smile shifted slightly but she resisted the urge to comment about his proposed adventure. Instead she politely declined his invitation, while briskly shaking hands with him and introducing herself as Emily Chandler. When she shook hands with Bill it was different. Their eyes remained locked and neither of them seemed willing to let go. Jeremy finally picked up on what was happening and he groaned inwardly, his mood quickly turning sullen. He waved the waiter over and ordered himself dinner, telling the waiter he was in a hurry. Later, when Emily mentioned the museums he should be visiting and what they had of special interest, his expression showed mostly disinterest. He was several inches taller than Bill, and he considered himself better looking, and he took it personally whenever women gravitated towards Bill instead of himself. After a couple of glasses of wine, he lightened up, accepting the obvious mutual attraction that Bill and Emily felt. He signaled the waiter over and asked that his dinner be packed up to go. After the waiter walked away, he mentioned how he’d better be heading off to the airport.

“Really? That’s a shame,” Bill said with forced disappointment. “You’re sure you don’t have time to eat here?” Emily put up a token effort also.

Jeremy smiled thinly at that. “Probably best that I get going.”

“Yeah, well, you don’t want to miss your plane,” Bill said. His eyes flashed as he remembered something. With a concerned smile, he asked, “What are you doing with Augustine?”

Emily raised an eyebrow at that.

“Augustine’s my roommate,” Jeremy explained to her. “A demanding little Persian cat with a pushed-in face who can out stare just about anyone.”

“Why the name Augustine?” Emily asked with a wry smile. “Is it because he’s a saint, or that he waddles around like a hippo?”

“Very good,” Jeremy said. “St. Augustine of Hippo. I named him that more because of his philosophical demeanor, but he is a fat little guy.” Then to Bill, “A neighbor’s going to be looking after him.”

“You could’ve left him with me,” Bill said.

“Yeah, right. If I did that I’d never get him back.” Jeremy crossed his index and middle fingers and told Emily how Bill and his cat were crazy about each other. “Bill likes to pretend he’s a dog person, but probably the only reason he’s hung around me the last five years is because of Augustine.”

“He is a pretty cool cat,” Bill said.

The waiter brought over a bag with Jeremy’s dinner packed away. As Jeremy left the table, Bill joined him. The two of them shook hands. Jeremy pulled him closer for an embrace.

“Ten days, fuck,” Bill said. “I can’t even imagine that. Have a great time.”

Jeremy nodded. “You bet I will. And for this one time only, I hope you kick the
Globe’
s ass with this story.” He pulled Bill even closer. In a low voice he added, “It’s good to see you finally moving on past Karen, and this girl’s certainly a sweetheart. Just don’t do anything stupid, okay? Try not to go nuts and marry her while I’m gone.”

“Sure,” Bill said.

“And you still won’t tell me what you got on this shooting?”

“Not a chance.”

Jeremy smiled at that. Stepping back, he gave Bill a solid punch in the arm that was meant to look friendly, then waved so long to Emily, and with his duffel bag and dinner in tow, left the restaurant. When Bill returned to the table, Emily remarked about what a character his friend is. “Did he really think there was a chance I’d fly off to Italy with him?” she asked.

“It’s hard to tell sometimes with Jeremy,” Bill offered diplomatically. He had ordered lasagna with meatballs, and when it was brought over, Emily helped him with it, as she did with a chocolate coated cannoli. As they sat and talked, Bill learned how Emily was from Cedar Falls, Iowa, and had moved to Boston six months earlier to work on a doctorate degree in art history. He admitted he was originally from Queens, New York, but avoided mentioning anything else about his childhood, and she didn’t press him on it, seeming to sense it was something he didn’t want to talk about.

The time went by fast, with Bill mostly lost in Emily’s soft hazel eyes, and he was surprised when the waitstaff started grumbling about closing up and saw that it was almost midnight. Emily lived three blocks away, and he asked her if he could walk her back to make sure she got home safely.

“I’d like that,” she told him.

Bill carried her books under one arm and soon found himself holding hands with Emily as they walked. It was the kind of thing he might’ve done back in high school—at least if he’d had anything resembling a normal teenage existence. Emily’s apartment building was a red brick building that had to be at least two hundred years old, and when they got to it they made their way up four flights of steps to her apartment door. Bill kissed her gently on the lips, pulling away after a few seconds knowing that otherwise he wouldn’t be able to. As it was it left him dizzy.

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