Chapter Thirty Seven



A chiseled 45-year-old Asian man sat in his office, on the fifth floor of the King County Courthouse on Third Avenue reviewing the contents of a frequently-read file folder, which had “STATE vs. LUTZ” on the tab. As more information was discovered by his staff, Seattle law enforcement, and other sources, the folder got fatter and the case more complex. He was well aware of the case and the uproar being caused by the invisibility cloak the criminal or criminals who perpetrated the other related homicides created. It made his department look weak and as the Deputy Prosecuting Attorney (DPA) for King County, he got to speak with the Prosecuting Attorney (PA) on a daily basis. Vincent (Vinnie) Silverstein, the PA, made it a part of his daily routine to get an update on the Lutz case, which infuriated Danny.

I am doing the best I can given the information I am getting. This is a tough one. I’ve got my best people on it and we are starting to get some of the witness and evidence we need, but this isn’t a smoking gun kind of case for sure.

Danny hadn’t always been the DPA for King County. In fact, he had only lived in the greater Seattle area for the last eight years. When he was younger, his family would fly to Seattle from San Francisco to meet some of the family’s relatives who lived in the International District. Danny was fascinated with the smells, sights, sounds, and the unique flavors of this melting pot of Seattle and were a favorite memory of his. His grandparents lived there and they had great Chinese food at their house. Danny really loved it when they would venture to Uwajimaya, which was a fusion of food, shops, bookstores, gift shops in one central location. Danny still made it there for lunch a couple of times a week, when he worked in Seattle.

Danny was bright as a child and continuously curious through middle school and high school. He was a star on the high school debate team and also active in some of the theater productions. He played varsity football his sophomore and junior year but got more interested in the law. The summer break before his senior year, he clerked with a boutique law firm with 15 attorneys who loved his drive to learn about the law, and of course, his cheap (free) hourly rates. He was a great student and he had researched colleges with law schools that produced the best trial attorneys and Stanford routinely was in the top five of this category. Because of his flair for debate and his acting skills, Danny felt like he could excel as a trial attorney.

He graduated from high school and did his undergraduate and graduate work at Stanford. It cost a fortune, but with some of the scholarships he won and his full-time jobs he held while going to school, and some school loans, he persevered and ultimately graduated with honors from Stanford. Like most Stanford Law School graduates, he passed the Bar and was quickly hired by the Santa Clara, California Prosecutor’s office, where he successfully worked and got promoted for many years. One day while working there, one of his Stanford college buddies called him and told him about an opening in the King County prosecutor’s office. Danny applied, went through multiple rounds of interviews, and ultimately was hired. He had to pass the bar in Washington State as part of the condition of his employment and he did.

Now he is working on the most perplexing case of his career and is trying to figure out the right angle to win.


© 2013 – 2016, Darin Hartley


Chapter Thirty Six



After Angie realized it was Donnie, the stench he dragged in with him disappeared. Her heart raced in her chest and she felt her hands getting moist. She stood up and looked Donnie in the eyes and wrapped her arms around his neck and shoulders and gave him a bear hug. It was love at first sight in a long time. She then kissed him first on his right cheek, leaving a puckered cherry marking there, and then she kissed him hard on the mouth.

Donnie was pleasantly surprised but was being coy. “Ummmm, Counselor, so nice to see you again.” Donnie returned the bear hug favor and he actually lifted her off the floor so her feet dangled like wind chimes in the breeze.”

“I am so happy to see you. We have a lot to talk about. Do you want a coffee?”

Donnie placed Angie gently on the tiled floor. “Yes, please. Just a black drip coffee is fine. I don’t need anything fancy.”

“Okay.” Angie  returned to the counter and ordered Donnie’s coffee.

When she returned, Donnie had removed a couple of layers of clothing and was looking intently at the top page of notes Angie had on the table. “Here you go.”

“Thanks. I got a little panicky when I read your texts. It sounds like you have some news for me. I’ll give you an update as well.”

Angie looked down at her notes. “I am pretty sure that Adam didn’t commit this murder. I have been researching the article and all of the recently related killings and while they all seem to be linked by victim archetype, they don’t really align with Adam’s daily habits or the ways he goes into work, or his personality and temperament. When I spoke with the COs last time I visited him in jail, they said Adam was a model prisoner.”

“Thanks for digging into the data. I think that lane of thinking is going to be great to help debunk any motive the prosecution might try to raise.”

Angie’s cheeks reddened and she could feel her neck getting hot too. “Thanks, Donnie. I am 1,000 percent committed to getting Adam out of there. There is one other thing I wanted you to know. When I visited Adam last, he came to the meeting room where I was with a massive bandage on his head and two giant black eyes. He looked like a zombie raccoon.”

“What? What the fuck happened?”

“Adam told me he was having breakfast with his cell mate and another inmate approached him from behind and hit him twice in rapid succession on each side of his head.”

“Geez. Did he know the guy? Did he have any reason to wonder why someone would do that to him?”

“Neither Adam or Derek Escobar, his cell mate, had seen this man before. Of all the people eating breakfast there that morning, there must have been a reason to do this. Adam had no clue.”

“Hmmm.” Donnie stroked the thick beard on his face. He did this often when he was trying to problem solve.

“This is my fear. Either Escobar or someone heard Adam talking about you working on the outside on his behalf. Someone got the news out to whoever the real murderer is and he made arrangements for this guy to try to kill your brother. Maybe he believes if Adam is dead, you’ll lay off the undercover work.”

“That motherfucker clearly doesn’t know who I am. If my brother gets killed before this trial starts, I will make it my personal life mission to hunt him down and get him thrown in jail forever.”

Angie loved the passion in his voice and his dedication. She smiled as he spoke and held his hand.

“I also wanted to tell you about something I witnessed in the park the other night too. There was a tall dark figure who was collecting gum, cigarettes, food, and other things passersby were discarding. I spoke with my Dean from UW and we both think the guy might be picking those things up as a way to contaminate the crime scenes.”

“Wow, that is crazy, and slightly genius, if he is able to pull it off.”

“I need to get back out there Angie. I want to get this figured out, or at least, be ready to help my brother at the trial.” Donnie gathered his belongings, stood up, and kissed Angie on the mouth.

“Please be safe. And know that even if the phone doesn’t ring or the text message doesn’t come through, it’s me.”

Donnie smiled and waved and headed into Nord Alley.

© 2013 – 2016, Darin Hartley

Chapter Thirty Seven



I have been fascinated with writing since I was in elementary school. Reading has always been a way for me to escape into other times, places, and universes. Writing is a way to take people with me to times and places I create. Like the pixels on a screen, which can be manipulated in an infinite number of new combinations to create new images, so can the written word.  I like to believe I paint with words.  I also love writing because it is such a primal experience and a tradition kept alive for thousands of generations.

I had only written non-fiction books before this. I have vowed to get this done and I have a tremendous support system around me.

Based on my commuting across the Puget Sound from Poulsbo, WA via the Bainbridge Island Ferry and a walk through Pioneer Square, I have noticed an increase in the population of homeless in the city. Seattle is now ranked in the top four cities in total homeless citizens. A recent volunteer count totaled 4,505 homeless in Seattle. In Kitsap County where I live, there are over 650 homeless. The statistics are staggering and sobering.

While this book is a mystery that takes place in the Seattle and involves some homeless people as primary characters, my research and personal experiences have shown that the despair of homelessness drives inappropriate behavior. Not only by those in that situation but those who would prey on them. On January 26, 2016, two homeless people in Seattle were murdered and three others were injured in a place called “The Jungle,” which is a makeshift hovel  of tents, sleeping bags, and garbage, where many homeless people camp underneath I5. By November of 2015, 66 homeless people had died in Seattle. The Mayor declared a state of emergency.

Why do I tell you this? Streets of Blame is raw and paints a realistic picture of how hard it is to live when you have no place to permanently call home.  The streets are a hard place to claw out a living and in the case of Seattle, often cold and wet too.  I have had a major personal epiphany while writing this, which has driven me to take personal action to help these souls out in some way. I have started a campaign to provide support to the homeless and will give a portion of the proceeds from this book when finished to a reputable charity focused on improving the lives of the homeless and homeless veterans.

Darin Hartley
February 12, 2016


Chapter Thirty Five



Penny left the tent with her tentative belongings there and headed towards First Avenue South to the J&M Cafe. This bar was originally established in 1889, on what was Skid Row, and now had a pseudo-revival as a gentrified bar and grill. The food was actually great and they still had one of the best happy hours in town, which would be started about the time Penny ambled in.

She was on a mission. She was as certain as the next sunrise that Ned would come through at some point on a “twofer” and she needed to be ready. Over the years, surviving in the Square, Penny had run into and made friends with a plethora of people over the years. There was one woman, in particular, she had fallen in and out of love with more than a handful of times. Penny needed her now.

As Penny suspected, when she entered the bar, she could see Annie Archer strategically sitting at the corner of the long polished dark oak bar. She liked sitting at the corner of the bar to improve her chances of talking with a mark by fifty percent. Even though the weather was a little cooler, even at four o’clock in the afternoon, you could tell Annie was a clothing minimalist. She was a slender, petite girl. She was what many people would call vertically-challenged at an even five feet tall. She preferred the “Big Six-O.” Sixty inches somehow sounded more impressive than five feet.

Annie watched one of the big screens behind the bar with one of the ESPN channels incessantly scrolling scores and showing highlights. She really looked bored, but the day was early and happy hour was just beginning. There was plenty of more alcohol to come; and men who liked alcohol; and men who liked women who liked alcohol; and, ultimately, to buy those women drinks so they could feel a little alive for part of one day. Annie hadn’t seen Penny enter the bar.

Penny walked in quietly and quickly. She got right behind Annie and grabbed her shoulders and yelled, “BOO!”

After Annie got back on her bar stool, she turned around. “Penny, you scared the shit out of me! I think I peed a little,” she tried to sound mad, but when she was around Penny she lost her mind a little more than normal. “Well, sit down and let me buy you a drink gorgeous.” She pushed the bar stool to her left away from the bar so Penny could sit down easier. Penny sat down, took her jacket off, and hung her purse on the hook on the bar nearest her.

Annie leaned over and kissed Penny’s right cheek. “I can’t remember when I saw you last. Must be almost six months at least.” As Annie sat upright, she coyly looked at the soft cardigan gray sweater and the white tank top and smiled. “What are you doing here? Can I help you with something?”

“Actually, you can Annie.” She, not so coyly, gave all sixty inches of Annie a good look. She loved the way her tiny little black dress seemed sculpted to her body, and the delicious cleavage that was trying to escape its feckless decolletage there.

“You remember me telling you about that bastard stepfather of mine? How he abused the crap out of my Mom and me?”

“For sure.”

“When I ran away, I vowed to never be hurt again. And I don’t want other people to experience that if it can be avoided. Anyway, there are some guys that have been messing with me, and a dear friend of mine is helping me deal with them.”
“Mmhhmm. Why do I think I know where this is going?”

“He is really getting me out of a jam and I want to do something special for him. Want to join him and me for a date sometime?”

“Hey, if he’s getting rid of a creep or two from your life that makes me happy. Glad to help out. But, when and where?”

We’ll have to play it by ear Annie. Did you get a mobile phone back yet? Last time we spoke you were getting a new one.”

“Yes. Let’s exchange numbers.”

“I don’t know when or if it will even happen, but I needed to get your answer.” Penny smiled and kissed her friend on the mouth.

She doesn’t need to know the full story. No need to get someone else involved in this.

The ladies had a lot to catch up on and closed the J&M that night.

© 2013 – 2016, Darin Hartley

Chapter Thirty Six


Chapter Thirty Four



When Angie left the jail after speaking with Adam, she felt like she had accomplished a good day’s work, but also was fearful for Donnie.  She suspected Adam’s assault was somehow connected to Donnie and his undercover work.  She didn’t know why or how.  She just felt it intuitively.  I need to connect with him.  I know he is deep undercover, but he needs to understand what happened to Adam and how it might be related to what he is doing.  I know Donnie asked me to minimize the contact with him, but I think this is a case that warrants it.

She pulled out her phone and searched Donnie’s number and texted him.  Hi Donnie, it’s Angie. I know you want me to keep it quiet, but, I need to meet with you to share some information.  And a warning.

She kept walking towards her car.  No response.  When she got to her 2000 Subaru Outback in the garage she got a return text from Donnie.  Nice to hear from you.  Can you meet tomorrow at Caffè  Umbria at 2nd & Occidental?

Yes, I can.  How about 8:30 AM?  texted Angie.

Sure.  That works for me,  Angie.  See you then.


Angie woke up the morning a little earlier than normal.  She wanted to have some extra time in the shower.  When it was cooler like it was now, she would often go that extra day or week or two and not shave her legs.  She wanted to look as beautiful as she could for Donnie because she knew he was going to be very unkempt.  She washed her silky thick hair twice, conditioned it, and still had plenty of time to blow dry and style it, try on several outfits (leaving a growing heap of clothes on the floor next to her), apply her makeup artfully, and dab just the right amount of her favorite Issey Meyake perfume in sundry strategic locations.  She didn’t realize it, but she had been humming since she got out of the shower.

Angie walked from her bathroom to stand in front of the full-length mirror hanging on the back of her closed bedroom door.  She chose a pair of gray wool dress slacks, a long-sleeve silk shirt with an extra button undone.  Her shoes were sensible, yet sexy.

Looking fucking sassy!

She flipped the bedspread up on her queen-sized bed and left her apartment.

Angie drove to the appointed location in Nord Alley, parked, and walked into the Caffè Umbria there.  Retro-Italian-modern was probably the best way to describe the place.  Classic yet contemporary; Italian, yet not; and, actually a favorite of Rachael Ray when she was in Seattle.  She got in line behind several other patrons and moved past the gelato display, which was a colorful glass-enclosed display of tasty varieties of Italian ice cream.   Hmmm. The gelato is protected much like the Pope.  Except his vehicle moves.  As she thought this, she laughed and placed her order.

She moved to the back of the bistro and sat facing the street so she could keep an eye out for Donnie.  Angie was never earlier than Donnie when they met.  Don’t look so desperate Ang.  Calm down.  She took a sip of her Misto from the large ceramic mug and pulled her well-used legal pad out, a folder, and pen and prepped for the meeting.  She got engrossed in her notes and was intently studying them when a large odd-shaped shadow covered her table.  Simultaneously, an acrid, pungent, and stinky smell raced directly from her nostrils to the olfactory part of her brain, which ciphered smell, and she almost choked.  She was about to stand up angrily and dress this skunky invader of her personal space down, and then she saw from the depth of the shadows, Donnie’s gentle eyes.

“Hello, Angie.  It’s me.”

© 2013 – 2016, Darin Hartley

Chapter Thirty Five


Author’s Note


I have commuted from the little town of Poulsbo, WA, with a population of less than 10,000 to Seattle, WA via, truck, bus, ferry and a walk since July of 2003.  One thing that has been eminently clear is the increase in the population of homeless in Seattle (and frankly, many other communities).

I see this every day when I walk into the city from the ferry and back to the ferry at night. I shot the cover picture last week.

Seattle does an annual count of the homeless with volunteers, and the numbers were staggering this year.  A whopping 4,505 souls.

Real Change Sobering

I am writing this novel to help drive awareness of this issue and have vowed whether this book is published the traditional way or self-published, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to a recognized Homeless or Homeless Veteran Charity.  How can you help now?

  1. Post in the comments viable charitable organizations you believe would benefit from donations.
  2. Share and Follow Streets of Blame and help the homeless! with others.
  3. Pay it forward.  When you see a homeless person, if you can, offer a donation or even better some food or clothing, etc.
  4. Follow my Homeless in Seattle pictorial on Pinterest.

Thanks for your continued support!


February 7, 2016


Chapter Thirty Three



He wasn’t sure about heading to Seattle from Sacramento. But he was quickly wearing out his welcome there with his family, his friends, local law enforcement, and the many drug dealers and others he chose to hang around. To say Gailen was skinny would be an insult to the meaning of the word. He was just under six feet tall and weighed 125 pounds. He was extremely pale with a shocking head of dark hair and greys eyes. He had lived a better life and had a pretty enviable future in front of him if he stayed the course, but one night after a winning game his junior year as the starting quarterback at Sacramento State one of the younger players convinced him to try heroin back at his apartment off campus.

That was the event, which catalyzed a swift downward spiral, except in Gailen’s case it wasn’t really a spiral. He screamed downward in a linear fashion. The 210-pound quarterback got so addicted so quickly to the drug, it became his holy grail. His meaning to wake up, his meaning to exist, his meaning to live. In less than a year, he went from a strapping and successful junior college athlete to a shady drug-seeking criminal, who couldn’t be trusted by anyone. His parents stopped taking his calls because invariably he overtly asked for money or asked for items of his or theirs he could ultimately pawn for money and ultimately for dope. His parents eventually had to change the locks on their house and sadly get a restraining order against him.

Yes, it was time for Gailen to move on. He had saved the $99 for the Greyhound bus from Sacramento to Seattle. He boarded the bus with a backpack and eighteen hours later arrived at the bus terminal in Pioneer Square in Pioneer Square close to the International District. When he stepped off the bus it was noticeably cooler than Sacramento and he pulled out a sweatshirt from his pack to get a little warmer.

He asked one of his fellow riders that got on the bus in Oregon, “Do you know where the closest mission is?”

“I am not from here but I can look it up on my phone.” He looked down at his phone and punched a question into search. “It looks like it is at First Avenue South and Main. It is just a couple of blocks away.” His bus mate pointed towards his destination.

“Thanks, brother.” Gailen started walking towards the mission
completely unaware of the shroud of peril he was entering.

(c) 2013 – 2016, Darin Hartley

Chapter Thirty Four


Chapter Thirty Two

SuperfuzzWHO’S NEXT?

Ned left Penny Lane feeling empowered, alive and intrigued.   As much as he was curious about what his just reward might be for a double homicide, he didn’t think he was really ready.  He wanted to get at least one other slaying under his belt before he expanded his operations so significantly at one scene.

Too many things can go wrong.  More time.   More risk.  More chances of one of them escaping or alerting people to their eminent peril.

He wandered around the Pike Place Market for several hours after the food from the diner.  He was insatiably hungry again and headed south closer to the ball fields.  He was getting shaky and nauseous.

So, Ned went to one of the bodegas in Pioneer Square to get some great Dominican food and some much-needed beer.  One of his favorite bodegas was called Manuelo’s on First Avenue South just past Elysian Fields.  This was his thinking and drinking place.

Ned was enough of a regular when he walked into the just-above-a-dive bodega the server, Lucita, approached him smiling brilliantly.  “Hi Ned, I haven’t seen you in a week.   I was starting to get worried.”

Ned grinned.  He liked feeling desired.  “I don’t want to overstay my welcome.  You might fall out of love with me.”

Lucita was the perfect elixir of saucy, sexy, seductive, and savvy.  Her olive skin was one-of-a-kind and her complexion was as smooth as the finest Italian Marble.  She rocked the curves she had shamelessly.

“You know you are my favorite customer.  What can I get you Ned?”

She directed Ned to an open two-person booth that was on a giant glass window, facing First Avenue South.  Perfect.  I can eat and stake out who is going to get it next.

“You guys are right next to Elysian.  How about a Superfuzz?”  Superfuzz is a phenomenal Seattle-based brew with a psychedelic label and blood oranges added to the boil.

“Do you want something else?”

“You mean besides you?” he said, thinking he was hilarious.

She rolled her eyes so hard you could actually hear the black of her irises hit her upper lid.  “Ned, you know I am not on the menu.  And for damn sure you’d pay more than $12.50 for me if I was.”

“Well okay.  How about a basket of the blackened Dominican chicken wings with Ranch dressing on the side?”

“I’ll be back shortly with your beer and then a little later with your wings.  I love those damn things too.  You may have one missing from your order by the time you get it.”  She smiled and turned.  Her loose-fitting cotton pants did little to hide the cat fight going on in them as she increased her pace towards the kitchen.

Ned felt things stirring wonderfully beneath the retro-looking table of his two-person booth.  Down boy.  We gotta pace ourselves.

True to her word, Lucita arrived quickly with the Superfuzz.  About ten minutes later, she brought Ned his wings.  “Enjoy,” she said.

“I will and thanks,” he said.  As she turned and headed quickly toward the bar, her resident cats started wrestling in a symphony of rhythm, Ruben, and rhapsody.  Yes. Thanks so much Lucita.

© 2013 – 2016, Darin Hartley

Chapter Thirty Three