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:: Shot to Death: Thirty One Tales of Murder & Mayhem by Stephen D. Rogers
Shot to Death: Thirty One Tales of Murder & Mayhem by Stephen D. Rogers
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Like a 31-bullet magazine, Shot to Death delivers a major dose of murder and mayhem. The work of short story author Stephen D. Rogers has graced over two hundred publications. Here, collected for the first time, are 31 of his stories of murder and mayhem, strewn across the back alleys and back yards of New England. Let this veteran writer lead you through the darkness to show you where the bodies are buried. You might just make it back alive.
You could learn a lot about a community by analyzing how they dealt with their trash.
I’d been following this town dump truck all morning, and was impressed by the number of public trash receptacles strewn across the pier, playgrounds, and parks. The town seemed committed to keeping trash off the streets.
Twice the truck had returned to municipal maintenance to drop off its load.
Twice the truck had been joined by a green SUV, the maintenance supervisor stopping to chat with the two guys in the dump truck: Jack Tobey and the other guy.
The other guy drove.
Jack lifted the plastic bags from the metal receptacles and swung them into the back of the truck. Unfolded empty bags into the receptacles and tied a knot to hold them in place. Jack was the younger of the pair, his green jumpsuit crisper.
Chasing empty coffee cups as they skittered in the breeze coming off the Atlantic, Jack didn’t look one bit a pornographer.
Of course, I didn’t look like a private investigator, or so I hoped. That was the funny thing about appearances: However much of the time they were all we had to go on, they didn’t always amount to much.
My client certainly believed Jack to be a pornographer, and that wasn’t something often mistaken for something else.
Putting the image of my client sobbing out of my mind, I followed the trash truck into a strip mall and watched Jack and his partner saunter into the Cape Coddage. Clams. Lunch Specials. Ice Cold Drinks.
Seemed like as good a time to eat as any.
Jack and the other guy sat at a corner table under a large map of the Cape. Neither of them looked at me, which either meant they hadn’t noticed my surveillance, or nothing at all.
My stomach growled as I stepped closer to the grill.
“What can I get you?” Behind the counter waited a Caucasian male in his forties, hosting the furrowed brow of ownership. He slid an order pad front and center.
“Large spicy Italian sub, please. Toasted. Dry. For here.” A steak and cheese sizzled on the grill. My stomach roared.
“Ten minutes.” He ripped off the order number and pushed it across the counter. “Ice cold drinks in the cooler.”
After grabbing a bottle of lemonade, I approached the corner table.
They were discussing the Sox.
“Excuse me. I’d like to talk to Jack for a minute.”
His head rose. “Do I know you?”
“Not yet.” I hadn’t seen Jack up close until now. His face was weathered for a twenty-something, but that could be from working outside. Anyway, his eyes were clear, and his face clean-shaven.
His coworker pushed back his chair and stood to face me. He looked only a few from retirement, his face wasted away. “What’d you say your name was?”
“I didn’t. The conversation is personal. Between Jack and me.”
Jack’s coworker tried to back me down with a watery stare.
My client’s sobs were more effective.
In the silence that followed, the owner of Cape Coddage called, “Steak and cheese. Clam roll.”
“I’ll get them.” Jack’s coworker picked up his soda and brushed by me, plunking down his drink on the next table.
I sat and stuck out my hand. “Dan Stone.”
Jack shook. “You seem to know me already.”
“I’m not here to wreck your lunch.” I smiled to prove my good intentions. “As I said, this is personal, and I figured you’d rather I didn’t approach you at work.”
He glanced over my head. “Thanks, Bill.”
Bill handed Jack the clam roll, standing above and too close to me, a zombie bodyguard.
I tensed, keeping my gaze on Jack. “You can go now.”
Once Bill sat at his new table, I relaxed. “I believe you know a Carrie Wilcox.”
“Sure.” Jack lifted his fried clam roll out of the cardboard sleeve. “We went out for two years.”
“You broke up with her last month?”
He laughed around the food in his mouth. Swallowed. “Is that what she told you?”
“Part of it.” Broke up with her after forcing Carrie to strip so you could take naked photos of her.
“Yeah.” Jack dragged the word out. “I remember it a little differently. Out of the blue, Carrie told me we were done. She was starting a business with her friends from college and she no longer had time for me.”
I tried to fit the two stories together. “So Carrie broke it off. That must have hurt.”
“Once the shock wore off. I still haven’t told my mother. She’s still working on her list of baby names.”
“Was Carrie pregnant?”
“Someday. I mean, that’s what I envisioned.” Jack took a huge bite of his clam roll, filling his mouth to cheek-bulging capacity.
From the counter, “Large spicy Italian.”
“Back in a sec.”
I retrieved my sub and skipped the chips, already doing enough damage to my stomach with the hots, sodium, and saturated fats. The tension created by learning how much my client had lied wouldn’t help matters either.
Bill watched me cross the restaurant.
Jack chewed clam. “So what do you want from me?”
“Are you still mad at Carrie?”
“What if I am? Does she have a problem with that, too?”
I shook my head, slowing the exchange before it escalated. Whoever broke up with whom, and whether or not Jack was a pornographer, I’d been hired to complete a job. “This is about some things of hers.”
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