The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 43 Section V Mega Chapter 2 (part 8)

The Alibi – Chapter 43 Section V Mega Chapter 2 (part 8)

Willmette and Seamus sat at Willmette’s Park Plaza suite’s dining table. Willmette led Seamus down a utility staircase at Logan to a waiting limo. The driver said nothing and brought them to the Park Plaza. Another man, not dressed as a doorman, opened Seamus’ door, waited for Willmette to come around the car, and led them both to Willmette’s suite.

Willmette nodded at him. “Thank you. That’ll be all.”

The door clicked shut and Seamus faced Willmette. “Am I kidnapped?”

Willmette pulled back. “Certainly not.”

“A hostage, then?”

Willmette snorted. “No.”

“Then where’s me cousin and why am I here?”

“As I said before, I don’t know where Sean – ”

“How do you know his name?”

“I know his name, your name, your bride’s name, your parents’ names, your – ”

Seamus banged his fist on the table. “Enough. What do you want with me?”

“Me? I’d love to learn more about this amazing discovery you and your cousin made under Boston Harbor. The people I work for? Pretty much the same thing.”

“Pretty much?”

“They want information.”

“Ah, I’m Number Six now, is that it?”

“The Patrick Magoohan series was so much better than the McKellen-Caviezel one, don’t you agree?”

“What’s to stop me from walking out that door right now, Number 2?”

Willmette shook his head. “I really am Red Willmette. At some point you’ll have to start trusting me.”

“Where’s Sean?”

“I’m famished. Would you like some breakfast?”

Susan’s Birds

My beloved Susan (wife/partner/Princess) loves birds.

Doesn’t matter the kind, size, shape, or call. All birds are her friends.

It’s something that’s been in her life as long as she remembers.

When we first courted, I visited her when she worked with horses (she’s quite the equestrian). I mention to her that the horses she worked with didn’t know her as “Susan” and instead recognized her as “Feather.”

I thought because she rode such a light saddle, hence “light as a feather” and quickly realized that’s a Two-Legger concept, not equine, so I did what any red-blooded American male raised in the latter half of the 20th century in a land of great promise and wealth and technological mastery of the universe would do…

I asked the horses.

“She is the same as they,” the horses explained, and by “they” their thoughts referenced birds.

So my wife, my Beloved, is Feather to those who carry her through woods and down country paths.


ps) she takes pictures, not videos)


The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 43 Section V Mega Chapter 2 (part 7)

The Alibi – Chapter 43 Section V Mega Chapter 2 (part 7)

Penny and Tommy emerged from the Logan side of the harbor tunnels. She glanced occasionally at stores, traffic, pedestrians, and remained quiet as they drove up 1A towards Revere. “Long way home, don’t you think?”

Tommy glanced at her in the rear-view mirror. “Making sure we’re not followed, Ms. Lane.”

“I have to piss.”

“You didn’t go before we left?”

“The espresso. I can piss the seat if you’d like.”

He pulled into a gas station.

“Are you kidding? Look at this place. I’ll get the clap just asking for the key.”


She pointed to a 7-11 a block down. “That place looks clean enough.”

He pulled into the 7-11. “I’ll be right here when you’re done.”

“I’m so comforted.”

Penny walked up to the cashier. They exchanged words, the cashier pointed to a hall at the rear of the store. Penny nodded and headed in that direction.

Tommy played ten games of solitaire on his phone, checked the time, and made a call.

Connelly answered. “What do you think?”

“Do I think she’ll keep her end of the bargain? No. Do you?”

“She’s intelligent but not clever. She’ll do what we want, not what was asked. Or do you think we made a mistake letting her go?”

“You think she’ll lead us right to him?”

“I think he’s both intelligent and clever, too clever for that. She’ll get us close and hopefully close enough. There’ll still be a gap we’ll have to cross.” Connelly paused. “Put on a good show of looking for her, just in case, then head on back.”


“Good work, by the way.”


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The Scout

Last time I mentioned the need for broad attention in The Wild.

Often there’s a lot going on and even those who’re trained in situational awareness techniques need help from their friends.

In The Wild, this often takes the form of scouts.

Any predator species which recognizes group identity sends out scouts who report back what’s going on where. Doesn’t matter if it’s ants, bees, coyotes, wolves, …

Group survival requires a pooling of knowledge, of information, of what happened where, when, and if possible, why.

Humans, for the most part, do not employ scouts. We call ourselves a predator species, we like to think of ourselves as apex predators, and that’s an amusing deceit we employ. Ninety-nine-point-nine-nine-nine percent of the population doesn’t know how to monitor situations beyond what’s for dinner, what do you want to watch tonight, how’s my job going, who’s picking up the kids when, …

These are nice, yes, and hardly qualify as survival issues.

Unless you’re under fire or threat.


Ask someone who’s a war zone, or works undercover, or in espionage, or intelligence.

They well know the value of scouts.

And as a species, as we learn more of what’s in our universe, as we discover more potential threats real or imagined, the number of scouts multiplies.

Until everyone is a scout.

Scouting on each other.

Ala 1984 or McCarthyism or … umm … (and dare I say it?) … Trump?


The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 43 Section V Mega Chapter 2 (part 6)

The Alibi – Chapter 43 Section V Mega Chapter 2 (part 6)

Naomi took a final tour of the store, stood before her open changing room locker, gathered her things, and surveyed the employee lounge. It was a little past the end of 3rd shift, the time when insomniacs and early risers mingled, the former anxious to go and the latter anxious to get going. The two things they had in common were coffee and energy drinks. She got third shift because the first and second shift supervisors were afraid of her, the store populace went down about a third overnight, and she could pretty much do what she pleased.

The lounge – not so much a lounge as a high-priced cafeteria with a “commercial free” company video feed of good and bad employee behavior. One of the guys from automotive gave the screen the finger. A few others laughed – was industrailly antiseptically homey; neutral colors, comfortably uncomfortable couches, tables, and chairs, and all from the Damaged-in-Shipping containers out back of the store.

Naomi wondered when she’d appear in the “bad employee” videos. She closed her locker and spun the dial. Pitiful. Anybody could break in with a sharp yank.

But right now her concern was her absent teammate. “Anybody seen Annabelle?”

“Check with HR. If she clocked in, she’s here.”

She hadn’t.

The kindly grandmother type in HR typed on her keyboard then looked at Naomi over the top of her readers. “You’ll need to talk to her manager, Ms. Dillinger.”

Naomi went back out to the floor and cornered her latest manager, a skinny, older woman who pulled her hair back into a bun so tight Naomi considered it a cheap replacement for botox and plastic surgery. “Did Annabelle’s shift change?”

“She hasn’t been back since the detergent spill.”

The kindly grandmother type in HR reluctantly wrote down Annabelle’s phone number and address address for Naomi. “You won’t tell anybody, will you dear? I need this job.”

Naomi smiled. “You’re safe, Mrs. …” Naomi searched for a nametag and finally caught sight of an opened bill the woman tried to hide under her hand. “Lane.” Naomi cocked her head. “Mrs. Lane?”

A tear created a path in the old woman’s blush. “Yes?”

She studied the woman’s face, probably seeing her for the first time, and noticed the jaw line, the set of the cheeks, the brow.

Although old, the woman still carried the family facial features. “Are you related to Briggs Lane?”

The woman bowed her head. “Yes.”

“Isn’t he one of Boston’s Homegrown Billionaires?”

Mrs. Lane’s voice broke but she recovered quickly. “I wouldn’t know. I see his name in the papers sometimes.”

Naomi glanced at the open bill again. “May I?”

Mrs. Lane lifted her hand. Naomi saw “Overdue” stamped in large red letters across the top. She picked it up and read the amount. About ten dollars more than her weekly take home. “HR can transfer my paycheck to another employee if I sign off on it, right?”

Mrs. Lane’s eyebrows rose. “I don’t know. I’ve never had that request before.”

“Where do you live, Ms. Lane?”

“The North End.”

Naomi pulled back. “The North End? Isn’t it expensive living up there?”

“A nice policewoman owns the building. It’s been in her family for years. She lets me live there. All I have to do is pay the utilities.”

Naomi pulled back. “Annette Funicello?” She shook her head. “No, that’s not right.” She closed her eyes and furrowed her brow. “Cuccello.”

“You know Marie?”

“A friend invited me there for lunch today. Or dinner. Not sure which.”

“Oh, you’re lucky. I’ll bet she’s making pizzas. Sometimes she makes them and brings a slice or two to everybody in the building.”

Naomi nodded. Thank god there were kind hearts out there. “Then you’re Annabelle’s neighbor? I don’t know that area. You live close to her?”

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