Chapter Twelve


Donnie had just returned from the Belltown crime scene, with pages of new notes and pictures to add to his growing file of mystery. He walked in the door and set his notes and map on his desk and his cell phone immediately started ringing. He looked at the display but didn’t recognize the number.

Tentatively he answered, “Donnie Lutz. How can I help you?”

“Hi Mister Lutz. I am Angie Braun from the Public Defender’s office. I have been working on you brother’s case. He thought it would be a good idea for you and I to meet.”

“He did?”

“Yes, he mentioned your field of work, and thought you might be able to provide some insights and information, which could help me with his case.”

“Yes. Between you and I, I have already started to do some research on this case and what I believe to be other related cases.”

“Other cases?” she asked.

“Didn’t you see the recent cover story in the Seattle Times?”

“Sorry Mr. Lutz, I am carrying a load of thirty to fifty cases at any given time. It is all I can do to do enough research to take care of the clients I have.”

“We need to talk about the article. I think it might be related to Adam’s case. Have you defended any murder cases before?” he asked.

“I have defended five clients for murder.”

“And your record so far?”

There was a pregnant pause, audible over the wireless network. Angie cleared her throat, “Four were found guilty and are in federal prisons now. Your brother is the fifth.”

“Holy shit! I am not liking those odds. Are you available to meet later this afternoon? We could meet for a late lunch somewhere and I can let you in on what I have discovered to date.”

“Let’s meet downtown this afternoon and I can share with you what I have found. There’s a great little Irish Pub on First Avenue, Fado, where we can get a big table there and start working. How about 3 PM?”

“That sounds good. I will meet you there at 3 and will bring the information I have so far, and my initial theories on his defense case.”

Donnie disconnected from the call and thought, “I wish Adam hadn’t have been so proud. I am sure I could have helped him hire a more experienced attorney.”

It there is one thing Donnie Lutz was adamant about it was punctuality. He arrived at Fado at 2:40 PM and immediately spotted an empty eight-top in a secluded part of the pub. He noticed the heavily tatted staff all wore black clothing and aprons and piercings seemed to be the restaurant’s answer for flair.

A 20-something slender blonde server walked to his table. The left side of her head was shaved and the rest of her shoulder-length hair was parted to the right. She only had a septum ring and a pierced eyebrow, so she was probably catching shit from the flair police. “What can I get you to drink,” she asked.

“Well, I don’t want to irritate the gods of Eire. How about a Guinness on tap?” He was pleased with his droll humor.

“I’ll bring it right out,” she said. Right before she headed for the bar, her eyes told Donnie. “Like I have never fucking heard that before.”

Donnie started arranging his notes, newspapers, and photographs on the large oak table. He broke out his Mac Book and got it booted and opened a notebook to a fresh sheet of paper. He got his favorite blue medium point pen and put the date and “Notes from Meeting with Angela Braun,” on the top of the page.

By this time, the server returned with a frosty glass of the dark nitrogenated nectar and put it on top of a coaster she deftly whipped from an apron pocket. “Here you go.”

“Thanks, nice and cold,” said Donnie.

As she turned to leave, a striking younger woman, Donnie believed to be in her early thirties walked into the foyer of the pub. He actually gasped a little when he saw her. She was about 5’7″ with a slend-urvy figure. Donnie had a special place in his heart for women that weren’t completely slender and had some curvature about them. And that is when he created that word. She had slend-urvy going on. Her hair was raven black and unlike the servers in the pub, there were no visible tattoos or piercings. This made sense given her role. Her nose was slender and aquiline, and her lips full, with just a hint of pink lipstick on them. The deal was sealed with her blue eyes. They were the color of the water in the Caribbean and just as inviting. Donnie hoped this was Angela.

He called out to the young woman. “Miss Braun?”

She spun completely around, “Yes, and Adam said you were a twin of his, but you are definitely identical twins right?”

“Yes, I am nine minutes older than him.”

“What are you drinking?” he asked her, and followed with, “I recommend the Guinness, it’s nitrogenated you know, instead of carbonated. Give you a nice frothy head.”

“I’ll take one of those.”

She sat down next to Donnie and pulled out her Lenovo laptop and after several minutes got it booted up.

Chapter Thirteen


(c) 2013 – 2015 – Darin Hartley


Chapter Eleven



Donnie knew what he needed to do. He wanted to create his own map of the murder sites, so he could walk them all, one at a time, looking for clues and patterns. He drove his car into downtown Seattle and went to the Barnes & Noble at Pacific Place. While Donnie was very savvy with computers and technology, there were some things he preferred to do “old school.” One of those was using maps to discover areas relatively close together. So, at the Barnes & Noble,  he picked up the most recent edition of the Greater Seattle Street Map Book. He loved the large size and ability to capture notes right on the maps.

He took his book and backpack over to one of the open tables in the store, and removed the wrinkled Seattle Times. He spread the newspaper on the table and opened it to the cover story on the series of murders. He then opened the map book to the Pioneer Square section and focused on the Occidental Park area. Where each crime scene was described, he marked the location on the map. He repeated the process for the murders that took place near Pike Place and Bell Town.

Donnie’s ultimate plan was to go deep undercover and pose as a homeless person. He had started growing a beard and was letting his hair grow. For now, though, he just wanted to walk every crime scene he had marked. After about an hour, he had meticulously captured all the locations and he drove up to First Avenue and Pike Street and parked his car there.

There are several famous “underground” walking tours in Pioneer Square in Seattle. Tourists pay to walk in groups to see actual storefronts and other remains of buildings, etc., below the street, which were literally built over in what is today’s modern Pioneer Square. Donnie chuckled to himself, “I am going to be taking the “six foot underground” walking tour.

The first murder scene on Donnie’s map book was at the Gum Wall near the Pike Place Market. This wall literally has hundreds of thousands of pieces of gum stuck all over it. It was in an alley, which sloped downward, with the original brick showing through some of the pavement there. During the tourist season during the day, it would have been impossible to commit a crime here with the density of people walking through and taking pictures, etc.

Donnie thought, “This definitely had to be done in the middle of the night.”

He closely looked at the gum walls, the alley, and everything else that was close. The only remaining clue he thought was still there was a darkened splatter stain on one of the walls opposite the gum wall, and a similar stain, which ran down the alley in a stream-like path for about eight feet.

“That’s where the victim bled out,” thought Donnie. He took some additional notes and took some pictures on his Nikon camera, and trodded back up the hill, through the Pike Place Market and up to his car. He decided to head back home to start compiling his notes on his computer, before heading back out for more of the grisly tour.

Chapter Twelve


(c) 2013 – 2016 – Darin Hartley

Chapter Ten

Mind Map

After leaving the Dean, Donnie headed back to his office. He had some reference books, equipment, computer, and other miscellaneous items he wanted to take back home with him. His office walls were cluttered with notes, marked magazine articles. His desk and bookshelves hosted stacks of books on forensics, criminology, and modern mysteries by authors like Cornwell, Connelly, Kellerman, and others. When he gathered his belongings into a handled cardboard box, he turned out his lights before heading into the hall.

As he drove home to his house on Ravenna Boulevard in the U-District of Seattle, his mind was racing. “What is the best way I can help Adam? Why was he implicated? Could he possibly have done it? If he did do it, was he involved in the others?”

The drive home took about ten minutes. Donnie took his box to the stairs on his landing on the stately looking older house and set it on the covered front porch while he opened the door. He went inside, put the box down on the coffee table in the large front room, kicked off his shoes, and headed straight for the refrigerator. He grabbed an icy bottle of Elysian’s Immortal IPA and cracked it open with the refrigerator mounted opener. Elysian was some of his favorite local beer, even if they had sold out to AMBev.

Donnie had always been a visual thinker, and when he was planning any new project, he always started with a mind map, which is a visual diagram to capture ideas, in a logical way. When he builds it he starts with a common core idea or problem and then spider webs ideas and content from the center. “Let’s call the center of the map, ‘Get out of Jail'” he thought and chuckled.

From the center of the mind map, he added topics like, planning, timeline, ideas, research, places, forensics, DNA, trial, Public Defender, Adam, Donnie, and parking lot. This was a good start. The parking lot could be used for uncategorized ideas or concepts. Many writers and creative types use these maps to create initial outlines and to show relationships between content or ideas. Donnie used it often when he was outlining the curriculum for a new course at the college and/or when writing an article or research paper.

One of the items in the box was a section of the Seattle Times Newspaper, which had recently done an investigative report on a series of murders committed between Pioneer Square and Belltown over the previous 18 months. The Seattle Police hadn’t really considered these 11 murders to be linked, but the reporters from the Seattle Times, picked up some parallels and consistencies in them, which was uncanny.

For example, nine of the eleven victims to date were homeless black men, who were known pimps in the area. The other two victims were older homeless white men. “Hmmm, two patterns here. All men. All homeless. So maybe someone has a vendetta against homeless men?”

As he looked at the map provided in the newspaper article, seven of the eleven murders happened in or near Occidental Park or Nord Alley. There are plenty of nooks, crannies, stairwells, vestibules, and other places bad things can happen there. “And shit, the last murder happened there too…the one Adam is accused of.”

Donnie knew where he wanted to start and focus his energies looking for ways to help Adam. The plan was embryonic but getting better with each addition to the mind map. After a couple of hours on the mind map, Donnie went to his kitchen cabinets where he stored the hard stuff. He pulled out a local whisky from Eastern Washington, Dry Fly, and poured himself a double shot neat. He plopped on his leather recliner and sipped his whisky until he fell asleep in the chair.

Chapter Eleven


(c) 2013 – 2016 – Darin Hartley

Chapter Nine


Donnie Lutz was still in a state of unbelief since he got the call from his brother the month before. He could feel the gray hairs growing at a hyperbolic rate in his hair and beard.

The story of the heinous murder was everywhere. It was a regular weekly story on the local broadcast news. There were regular letters to the editor. The local entertainment rag, The Stranger, did a provocative cover story, “The Hipster vs. The Homeless.”

To make things even work, multiple homicides, committed in Pioneer Square, Belltown, and downtown seemed to exhibit similar patterns. The only suspect to date in jail implicated in any of these crimes was Adam. “You stop looking when you have found what is lost,” thought Donnie. “The police will be looking to pin more of the other 11 murders on Adam too.”

Some local and national reporters and paparazzi were starting to gather outside his house. They were snapping pictures, asking stupid questions and generally trying to get him to snap on camera. Those were the money shots.

He had stayed really as busy as possible at the university to try to move the awful reality of his brother’s news to the back of his mind. But the call and the desperation in his brother’s last call felt real. “He’s my identical fucking twin,” and “I believe him.” He decided at that moment he had to do more.

He met with the Dean of Forensic Sciences, who was very aware of Donnie’s situation.

“Donnie, good to see you again. How goes the war?” asked Dean Hank Rusk.

“Win some… lose some,” said Donnie. His face looked like he was in much pain as hurt in his voice. “I need to ask you a favor, Hank. I have been a loyal hard-working tenured full professor here. I am well published and my students will do anything for me.”

“Of course.”

“My brother is in some serious shit, and I need to take a sabbatical for awhile to help him. I know him better than anyone on the planet. And I know he didn’t do what he is accused of.”

“How much time do you think?”

“Adam’s trial isn’t until later in the new year. So at least, six months maybe more.”

“Go…find the truth. If anyone can do it. It is you.”

“Thanks, Hank. I might be coming to you for advice also.”

“Will help you any way I can.”

Donnie extended his hand and shook Hank’s and pulled the Dean into his body in a powerful bear hug.

He turned and left the Dean’s office feeling a sense of relief he hadn’t felt in over a month.

Chapter Ten


(c) 2013 – 2016 – Darin Hartley

Chapter Eight


Adam was in the King County Jail nearly six weeks before he got the first chance to meet with his public defender, Angela Braun. The oversized corrections officer addressed Adam through the small opening in the steel door.

“Lutz, let’s go. Your attorney is here. I am escorting you to a room where you two can talk. I am going to cuff you.”

The Corrections Officer front-cuffed Adam before he opened the door. Lutz came out and followed the CO in an orderly fashion. He was on the ground floor of the wing he was being held in and he was escorted through a series of long hallways and locked and unlocked doors. After several minutes of this, he arrived in a room with many four-seater tables. Some of the tables were occupied with prisoners and family members. Some of the tables were empty. At the last table in the corner, sat a young-looking woman in her early thirties with long straight hair.  Her worn, but very professional looking green wool skirt and matching jacket wreaked of persistence and a seriousness, which Lutz could tell served her well.

The CO pushed Adam down into the seat across from Angela. He stepped back from the table, but only about three feet.

Angela extended here right hand. “Mr. Lutz. I am Angela Braun, your court-appointed attorney. I am sorry it has taken this long for our initial meeting, but there are too few of us compared with the trial load.”

Adam stood up to extend his cuffed hands far enough to briefly shake Angela’s and then he slide back into his chair.

“I am just happy you are here at all. I was beginning to believe I had been completely forgotten.”

“I have read the charges against you and have reviewed all the information provided to date. What do you want to tell me?” Angela was savvy beyond her 33 years. She had thoroughly researched Lutz’ case and she never led with what she knew. She wanted to see if her client’s recollection of the case events mapped to her official reports.

“Well, I know it looks bad because this guy was found murdered close to where I work near Occidental Park. And the fact that I walk through that park every day creates even more circumstantial evidence against me. But I tell you, I didn’t do this.”

“Do what?” she probed.

“Kill that homeless guy.”

“How do you know that for sure? The police found you less than eight feet away from the deceased passed out. Your DNA all over the body and the knife used to kill the victim.”

“How can you be sure Mr. Lutz?” probed Angela.

“Please, call me Adam. I was working late in the office to get a proposal out that was due the next day. I remember it being really cold, dark, and misty as I left the office. I took my usual shortcut through Occidental Park, and the next thing I knew, I was in here, calling my twin brother Donnie, for help.”

“I see. There was one of those mini-bats the Mariners give away near the scene. The detectives at the crime scene believe there was a potential altercation or a last minute bit of struggle between the victim and you. Your DNA showed up on the end of the bat, which could corroborate that story. What am I missing Adam?”

“You are missing the point. I didn’t do this crime. And I am not sure how you are going to do it, but you have to get me out of here. I have gotten some parking tickets before this. Does it make sense that I would escalate straight to brutally murdering someone?”

“I hear you, Adam. But there are plenty of sociopaths wandering the streets of Seattle. Who have never done anything or more likely have never been caught before. I am just starting to dig into this case and your background, but it is my intent and passionate belief that all of my clients are innocent until proven guilty.”

“Ms. Braun, I will do anything I can do to help support you. Just let me know.”

“Adam that is great. The only thing I ask of you is that you are 100% honest with me. If you are innocent…the truth will set you free. If you really did commit this crime, honesty will lighten your potential sentence.”

The CO barked, “Two minutes.”

“I have one special request for you,” said Adam.

“What’s that?”

“Please go meet my brother Donnie. He is a forensics expert and professor at UW.”

“Okay. Do you have his phone number?”

“Sure.” Adam gave her the ten digits and she wrote them down.

“Thanks so much Ms. Braun.”

The CO approached the table quickly and pulled Lutz up by the shoulder roughly. “Let’s go Lutz.”

“I’ll call your brother and set up a meeting,” said Angela. “And I will let you know how it goes.”

Adam turned his head, still in the grasp of the CO, and yelled, “Thanks!”

Five minutes later he was back in his eight by ten cell alone with his thoughts and meager hopes.

Chapter Nine


(c) 2013 – 2016 – Darin Hartley

Continue reading “Chapter Eight”

Chapter Seven

Totems in Occidental Park


Ned was a seriously compulsive and focused individual. He listened intently to the demons in his head. He had done everything they had asked. But the meeting with Penny, and the explosion of feelings that shot from his hand on her breast and down to his loins was omnipresent now. The cacophony of sounds the demons in his head normally made were nothing compared to the kumi-daiko performance of the Japanese taiko drums…Penny’s demons, now playing in his lower regions.

So, he continued cataloging and tracking people in Pioneer Square, and in particular, Occidental Park. But, now he was keeping a close watch on the homeless men, who fought with or struck the homeless women in their tow. Just like in the “first world,” many women are attracted to the bad boys, the thugs, the felons, the pimps, and the abusive types.

It didn’t take long for him to catalog a list of more than five potential sacrificial lambs for Penny. And because he wanted to please her quickly, and report back to her with an initial slaying, he spent less time on the particulars, and more time just watching habits and snapping pictures, clandestinely of the scum in the park, abusing women.

One fellow, in particular, he noticed had a small rogue harem of women he was pimping out for alcohol and drug money. His street name was Denzo. He was a six foot tall, light-skinned African American, with massive dreads, which were partially covered with a scarf, exposing the long corkscrew locks that wouldn’t fit in the main portion of the scarf. He was quick to anger, spewed harsh words, and foul language at these women. The language was just a precursor to shoving, which almost always escalated to physical violence. He slapped, smacked, kicked, and routinely slugged these women on a regular basis. Surprisingly, these women would stay by his side, even when the police had been called in after one particularly-brutal incident.

“Denzo is going down,” thought Ned.

And for the rest of the week, Ned concentrated his efforts on secretly watching Denzo’s every move. He watched where he crashed at night, when he got up in the morning, and his morning rituals. He followed him as he pimped his girls out in the park and in various places in Pioneer Square. As sick as Denzo was, he was a shrewd business man, of sorts, and knew how to get the most from each of his girls.

By the end of the week, Denzo’s patterns were consistent. He was pretty habitual about everything he did. This was going to make it easier for Ned to make Penny happy.

For instance, Ned noticed that around 11:00 PM every night, Denzo would head to Occidental Park and sit at the base of one of the native American totems there and smoke a fat blunt. It was Denzo’s time to savor living another day, avoiding arrest, and having sex with one or more of his ladies.

When Denzo smoked in the park the first night, Ned thought it was probably just happenstance. When it happened on nights two through four, Ned grew more optimistic. When it happened a fifth night, Ned knew that Denzo’s last puffs were going to be on the sixth night in the park, near the massive totem, with a…

Chapter Eight


(c) 2013 – 2015 – Darin Hartley

Chapter Six


Ned arrived an hour early to snare a bench in Occidental Park. He wanted to make sure he wouldn’t miss the meeting with Penny Lane. And he had always been obsessive about being on time. His Grandfather once told him, “It’s better to be an hour early than a minute late,” and it had been a mantra for him since.

Penny Lane walked into the park looking for Ned at 4:15, so she was early also. Ned raised his right hand and waved. Penny looked a little longer and noticed Ned’s black Fagan glove waving wildly at the other end of the park. He stopped after he noticed Penny approaching him.

Ned moved his decrepit looking pile of belongings he had been using to save the bench so he could share it with Penny. She looked more cheery than when they first met, somehow hopeful, and relieved. She sat down on the wooden bench and shifted her body to face Ned. She was in jeans and a weathered Seattle Mariners sweatshirt, which was so old it was nearly sheer in several places. Strategic places.

Ned liked how close she was.

“Hi Penny. So what did you learn?” he asked.

“You mean at the library?”

“Yes,” said Ned.

“Well, I think you are really on to something. I got some information from a book on forensics and DNA and I think you are really smarter than you look,” she said and playfully pushed Ned’s closest shoulder. The hair on the back of his neck stood up. He couldn’t remember the last time an actual sexy woman had flirted with him.

Penny continued. “And I think you can help me exorcise some of my personal demons. If you do, I promise you I will make it worth your while.” She whispered the last sentence into his ear, enunciating each word slowly and softly into Ned’s ear, grazing Ned’s lobe with her lower lip. Her warm breath covered his neck and he visibly shuttered.

“What are you thinking?” asked Ned.

“I was abused as a teenager…so much so that I ran away from my home in New Mexico to here when I was fifteen. My Stepfather was an asshole. He beat my Mom who put up with it. He verbally abused me, and touched my lady parts a lot. When he came after me with a kitchen knife, drunk as hell, I broke his kneecap and left.”

“So, what does that mean for me?” Ned asked.

“I have been on the streets eight years now. I am pretty jaded. I think I know how to survive. But I see plenty of drugged up, drunken, crazy dudes out here hurting and pimping the women out here. I want you to start tracking and categorizing those guys like you are doing now.”

“And then what?” Ned had an idea already of what his bench mate was going to ask.

Penny got extremely close to Ned and pulled his right hand up onto her left breast. “I want you to kill them, and bring me the pics to show me that you really have done it. You can have all of me if you do that.”

Ned slid off the park bench and said, “Done.”

He leaned over and kissed Penny on the mouth and disappeared from the park.

Want to read Chapter Seven?


(c) 2013 – 2016 – Darin Hartley

Chapter Five


Seattle Public Library

True to her word, as soon as she parted ways with Ned, Penny started trekking south-east to Fourth Avenue to get to the Seattle Public Library. It had been chilly down on the waterfront and by the time she huffed it up the five blocks of hills and entered the library, she started unlayering.

While Penny didn’t own a computer now, she had one growing up and was quite adept at finding resources in the library. First she looked up “criminology,” but there were so many matches, she decided to narrow the search. So, she put in “DNA evidence.” The list was much more manageable. There were some streaming videos, and various books but one in particular that caught her eye was titled, *The Forensic Casebook.*

The author had researched many cases, which were solved in part, due to the forensic evidence. In particular, there was good data in the book related to DNA and where samples could be retrieved. The list was long and in some cases strange. DNA has been found and used on the following items:
– fingernails or fingernail clippings
– tissues, paper towels, cotton swabs, ear swabs
– toothpicks, cigarette butts, gum, straws, cell phones, basically anything that has been in contact with the mouth
– blankets, pillows, sheets, dirty laundry
– head gear of any type
– eyeglasses, contact lenses
– used stamps, envelopes
– used condoms
– tape, rope, cords, anything used to tie someone up
– and, bullets that have passed through a person’s body.

Penny closed the book and thought, “I’ll be goddamned. Ned is on to something here.”

She took the book to the checkout counter, officially checked the book out and would be able to read it now for three weeks. More if there were no reserves placed on the book.

She left the library, satisfied with her initial research…and she could feel her inner demons starting to wriggle back to the front of her thoughts.

Want to read Chapter Six?


(c) 2013 – 2016 – Darin Hartley

Chapter Four


Penny Lane hung out in Seattle from Pike Place Market to Pioneer Square. She had lived in the streets since she ran away from her Mother and abusive Stepfather when she was fifteen, ten years previously. Penny decided to leave for good after her Stepfather beat her Mother in a drunken rage and then rushed her with a large knife that had been on the kitchen counter. He swung the knife erratically past her head, which threw him off balance. Penny used this opportunity to straight kick her aggressor’s knee perpendicularly. She heard something sinewy snap as she did this and her Stepfather’s howl as he fell to the kitchen floor, writhing in pain. She left with the clothes on her back, and never returned.

She vowed never to suffer abuse at the hand of any man.

She hitchhiked from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Seattle, fending off the unwanted advances of truckers, and other drivers who picked her up, as much as she could. She arrived in Seattle after eight days on the road with high hopes for a fresh start.

The streets of any inner city are dangerous for teenagers, especially attractive young women. Penny Lane, whose real name was Janet Cleary, decided to take the name after a confidante and Beatles fan, played the song Penny Lane multiple times a day. Sadly, after a six month friendship she was mugged for her stash of heroin, and died at Harborview Hospital a couple of days later.

Penny felt alone again and scared. She had gotten some street smarts by the time she was sixteen, but the lack of sleep, and decent food, combined with regular abuse of alcohol and drugs was starting to take its toll. She was always a natural beauty and this was a huge benefit for a homeless woman. But she was definitely looking years older than she was.

As the years went by, she got more accustomed and hardened to the streets. She knew the places to go for meals and how to stay out of the cold. She knew the places it was safe to stay and where it was more dangerous. She had a magnetic personality, and as her confidence grew, her bubbly personality and charisma started to return. Homeless women confided in her. Homeless men did too, right before they fell in lust (and love) with her.

Penny was born in the middle of July and like most people who have Leo as their sun sign, she had beautiful thick red hair. She has always loved it and even while homeless there were only a couple of times in the ten years she had been on the streets that she went more than a couple of days without washing it.

She was 5’8″ and because of the inconsistency in her diet typically weighed between 150 and 160 pounds. She was stunning and had beautiful curves that made the boys and some of the girls crazy.

And she was smart. She spent a lot of time in the Seattle Public Library. This modern architectural wonder on Fourth Avenue was a wonderland of books, music, movies, and comfortable chairs. In the winter, it was warm. In the heat of Seattle’s summer, it was a place to get to air conditioning. Penny was continuously curious and she discovered she actually had developed a photographic memory. So what she read and cared about was locked in her mind.

In the summer of 2008, Ned Strahan, ran into Penny Lane on the sidewalk near the ferry terminal. He literally ran into her, as he was heads down reviewing his notes, and didnt see Penny coming. But when he did after nearly knocking her off her feet, his mouth opened wide like those cartoon wolves from the 1940’s. He caught a whiff of her beatiful red locks and the damage was done.

“What the fuck are you doing ass hat?” snarled Penny.

“I am so sorry. I got caught up in my notes.”

Penny was curious now. “What kind of notes?”

“I haven’t really told anyone before. It is kind of a secret.”

Now Penny was very intrigued. She changed direction on the sidewalk and walked the opposite direction with Ned down the giant sidewalk on the waterfront, past the iconic Ivar’s and out to one of the open piers used for events. They grabbed a bench near the water and out of earshot of any bystanders. Penny coyly leaned over and let her cardigan sweater open so her bench mate could get a nice view of her wonderful cleavage heaving from her tank top.

“Let’s start over. I am Penny. Penny Lane. And who are you?”

“I am Ned Strahan. Just call me Ned, though. How come I haven’t seen you before?”

“I roam around the city. I spend a lot of time at the library. I love to read. I love the architecture of the building. I ran away eight years ago and have been on the streets since then. I am 23 now. I know I probably look older, but I am.”

Ned was nervous and excited. He was still not sure why he decided to talk to Penny. “You look stunning to me.” He said it and quickly took another quick glance between her cardigan and then down at his feet.

“Awww, thanks, Ned. Now, what are these notes you are taking and studying? Are you going to school?”

“You might say that,” said Ned. “First of all, I have never told anyone about what I am doing, and why I am doing it. Can you puh-rom-ise me you will not tell another soul?” The polysllabic intonation of “promise” was meant to show her he meant it.

Playfully, she responded. “Puh-rom-ise.”

“I’ve been on these streets for over 20 years. There is a kind of comfort being anywhere that long. I have been in and out of psychological rehab facilities over four times. They can’t cure me, and I don’t care. I have a person or maybe a demon inside my head, which taunts me. It wants me to kill people. It said I would meet a beautiful red-haired woman who would be my muse in this, and would tell me what to do. And then I ran into you. And Penny…I believe you are my muse.”

“Well thank you Ned. That is quite a confession.” While she probably should have left visions of her Stepfather kept welling up in her mind. She saw this as a way to potentially rid the world of bad people like that, using Ned as her muscle to do so. “What are the notes for then Ned?”

“Well…Do you know what birders are?”

“Sure. They are people that like to bird watch, and take notes on what they have seen and where they have seen them. Are you a birder?”

“Of sorts. I track and take notes on people.”

“Why?” asked Penny.

“I have a plan Penny. I have to do what my demon and now you, my muse, tell me what to do. But I also don’t want to get caught. I track people and learn their habits, so I know when they are vulnerable. I also collect any cigarettes or gum or other items, which may have enough DNA residue, I will be able to contaminate the bodies, with other DNA. Hopefully leaving me out of the suspect loop.”

“Wow,  that is ingenious. And you know. I have my own demons too. I want to do some research on DNA and evidence at the library. Let’s meet in Occidental Park, the day after tomorrow at 4:30 in the afternoon, and I’ll tell you what I found out. Here is my cell phone number if you need to call me before then.”

Ned scribbled his clamshell number on a clean piece of his tracking notebook paper.

“My demon just told me to tell you hello and thank you.”

And as quickly as they had run into each other…they went their separate ways.

Want to read Chapter Five?

(c) 2013 – 2016 – Darin Hartley