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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The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 43

(picking up where we left off…kind of…i reshuffled chapters last month. you’re use to it by now, right?)

The Alibi – Chapter 43

Cisily lounged naked on the Lady Eglesia‘s maindeck after piloting it far enough out that Boston appeared only as a bright hump on the western horizon. A meteor burned across the sky and she imagined it smacking into the Atlantic, boiling the ocean, tidal waves leaping from its impact, people racing to get inland, …

She shook her head to clear it, took a deep gulp of a martini she’d only waved the cork at, and giggled like a schoolgirl chatting with mates about their prom dates.

Except she never went to a prom. Any prom.

Oh, she’d been on dates. The boys figured her easy because a) she was a lubra and b) anybody built like her had to be asking for it.

They didn’t realize this bitch had teeth sharper than a croc’s and they were the ones to do the asking.

Another meteor blazed across the heavens. You could see them clearly, in all their northern glory, this far out of the city. Sometimes she’d turn off everything save her runniing lights just to watch unhindered by background light.

This one must have come in low. She heard it crackling across the sky.

A light breeze walked across the deck, rustling things uncovered, moving things unsecured, the sounds of their movements coming to her like silent footsteps, questioning hands.

Coming high up and out of the north, something thin and black obscured some stars as it traveled across the sky.

Couldn’t be a commercial aircraft. They’d need their lights on. Unless there was some malfunction.

And couldn’t be a satellite or the ISS or one of the shuttles. Traveling north to south, they’d reflect the sun from suborbital on up.

One the old bushmen – George? – knew how to go up into the heavens and taught her when she was young.

She giggled again. Yeah, when she was young. Impressionable. Goerge or whoever told her about Auwanbananggnari, a male landsnake and wunggud animal of the earth, who had an argument with a beautiful young girl who’d become a constellation.

“That’s you, Little Girl. That’s you.”

Right now she believed it possible.

The dark star continued through the night. It seemed to slow. At least it wasn’t occulting stars as rapidly as before.

Perhaps there weren’t that many stars left to occult?

“What the hell are you thinking, Thorne?” She finished her martini and put the glass down beside her. “Add this freaky to the rest of today’s freakies.” The drink and the sky relaxed her. A breeze brought a long ago scent to her. Urine on hot stone. “Nitjamrung gnari?” The scent called back old stories, old memories, made her giddy. “Didn’t know I remember that; ‘Somebody pissed here’.”

Another meteor. Lower still. Glowed hotter than the other ones. Almost like an ember looking for something to burn. And this one cackled. She could’ve sworn she heard laughter. And came down close enough she should have felt the wave.

“Get a grip, Thorne. First you think you’ve walked through a spirit, then the pillars at the garage entrance turn in Nightjar Men. Wodoiya and Djingun. Thank god that hippie kept you moving forward or people would’ve tripped over you.”

A meteor cut a high arc in the sky, lifting from a shining place far in the east.

The Sunrise Gate?

She watched it flare and spark and burst into flames high above her and continue its arc down, down, down, closer, closer, closer, until –

“Holy Shit! It’s going to hit!”

Cisily stood up but the sea swelled and the Eglesia rocked. Between that and the booze and the exhaustion of the day, she fell back into her lounge chair.

But there were no waves and the sea didn’t swell. “Something from that other meteor, maybe?”

The fire fell lower and lower and Cisily closed her eyes. “Coming home, Ancestors. Please welcome me.”

The fire landed squarely on her deck. She heard Creation Songs and Old Ones and Storytellers, smelled the soft smells of croc and emu cooking. A gentle tapping on her toes made her open her eyes. A Bunyip sat on its haunches beside the fire, a long thin stick in its hand it used to tap her.

Boro? A learning fire?”

“What your skin?”


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The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 38 Read

A rather fitting offering for #WorldReadingAloudDay

Welcome to February!

(still looking for my flying car)

I recorded the following for a Facebook group and also used it for my first Nothing To Do With Gay Arthropods Substack post.

I’m sharing it here because I’m a strong believer in double, triple, and fourple use.


ps) and it indicates how long ago this was recorded that the above was chapter 38…

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The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 42

And more coming together.

The Alibi – Chapter 42

Morelli and Vox drove back to the orchard to the murmur of the AC and the twinkle of a clear nightful of stars. Vox remained quiet the entire drive and Morelli, keeping his eyes on the road, grew increasingly uncomfortable with the silence. Gio Fortuna aka John Chance went quiet and you never knew if he was sitting beside you, a thousand miles away, listening to a conversation only he could hear, seeing how things would play out, and Morelli, wanting to coax Vox out of his silence, offered the obvious. “Long day, huh?”

Vox swallowed hard a few times and wiped a tear from his cheek.

Morelli spoke just above the whisper of the AC. “Tissues in the glove box.”

Vox nodded at an approaching exit. “Turn. Here.”

Morelli looked at the exit. “Is this a different way to your orchard?”

“Okay if we. Go to. The horse. Rescue?”

“You know how to get there?”

Vox grunted and ran his hand over the top of the dashboard. “Clean. Machine.”

Morelli quietly sang, “Penny Lane is in my ears and in my –

Vox turned to him. “Penny Lane?”

“Oh, come on, you don’t know Penny Lane by the Beatles? Magical Mystery Tour? Really?”

“We need to find. Penny Lane. How do we find. Penny Lane?”

“The Penny Lane the Beatles sang about? It’s in Liverpool, England. What’s – ”

“Penny Lane is a person?”

Morelli slowed at the bottom of the ramp. He had his answer. Despite Vox’s protestations, he was Gio’s student. “Which way? And who you talking to now?”

Vox pointed. “Penny Lane is a person. Who’s important. How?”

“You talking to the dead guy again. I get all skeevy when you do that, you know? And what’s at the horse place we need? Or you need?”

Vox indicated another turn. “Horses don’t hit me. When I tell them. Things they need to. Know.”

Morelli sighed. “Yeah, that could’ve gone better. You really pissed her off. I didn’t know you spoke Italian.”

“I spoke. Italian?”

Morelli slowed for an approaching stop sign. “Keep this up and I’ll believe you when you say you don’t know what you’re doing. Do you know what you said?”

“Not a. Clue. Hey!” Vox enunciated each syllable. “More RELL ee. You must speak. Italian. What did I. Say?”

“Hey I’m second generation Italian-American. I can do family names and cussing. Beyond that it’s a crapshoot. Something about her daughter, her daughter’s marriage, and her granddaughter. That’s all I could make out. I’m good with family nouns and cussing. not with verbs, adverbs, adjectives. I can ask about bathrooms. That’s about it.”

Two pickups towing horsetrailers passed them going the opposite direction. “We close?”

They rounded a curve and Vox pointed.

“Yeah, guess we are.” Morelli pulled into a parking space and turned off the ignition. “Are we here just to say hi to the horses or is something else going on?”

Vox exited the car without acknowledgement of any kind and entered the main barn. Horses in the field nickered and pranced to the fence. Those in the paddock stretched their necks over the rail so Vox to touch them as he passed. Bright flood lights threw long angular shadows of Vox and the horses.

Morelli leaned back against his Impala and watched the shadows move and merge like alien dancers on some sacred landscape. He whispered, “They’re greeting a freind.” He ran a hand through his thick hair. “Probably say hi to friends and something else.”

He pushed off and followed as Vox entered the barn and remained outside, a witness to the mystery, not a disciple.

Horses stuck their heads out of their stalls and nickered as Vox approached. He stopped roughly mid-barn, arms outstretched, hands open and forward. Some horses shook their heads, others whinnied, some stomped their hooves, one or two snorted. They nickered, they nodded. Some lifted their tails and shit. One or two peed. Quaterhorses, Morgans, Thoroughbreds. Breeds Morelli couldn’t identify except from beer commercials. All wounded, scarred. One missing an eye. One hopping on three legs. Morelli shuddered.

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The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 41

Yep, definitely coming together.

The Alibi – Chapter 41

Ginni held her keys in her hand as she walked from the elevator to her condo. She kept her buttocks tight to keep a tampon in place.

She couldn’t remember Briggs being so…violent? He was always demanding but most of the time he expected her to do all the work. The only difference was when he drove the hershey highway. He actually expected her to do office work when she was bent over, her skirt pulled up around her hips, her hands filing folders or typing when she wasn’t bracing herself against his desk.

Sick fuck.

But this time?

This time he practically lifted her off the ground with his thrusts.

All three of them.

What the hell was his problem this time?

And when he was done?

“Go clean yourself up and get back to work.”

She so wanted to say, “Yes, Massah. Thank you, Massah,” but kept her mouth shut.

Thank god she kept an extra set of clothes in the office.

Her mobile rang her mother’s TXT as she turned the key and opened her door. “Not now, Mother.”

Inside her condo, her mother TXTed again.

She threw her mobile, pocketbook, and briefcase on the floor, undressed on her way to the bathroom, left her clothes where they dropped from her, and turned on the shower full and redline hot.

Her mother TXTed again.

“Fuck off, Mother.”

A steaming shower, a vigorous shampoo, a full lathering of shower gel, and a generous smothering of her skin with body lotion followed by her thickest, most plush, bathrobe.

What else?

A good Oban, neat. Double. Yeah

Her mother TXTed again.

“Oh Jesus Fuck, Mother.”

She picked up her mobile.

“What the fuck?”

Her mother TXTed her the entire time she was in the shower.


The same message every thirty seconds.

What, did she have it on autodialer or something? Had someone hacked her mother’s cellphone and given the info to robodailers?

She called and got voicemail.

She dropped the robe and got into sweats and trainers.

Somebody knocked on her door.

“Mom?” She opened the door without looking to see who was there. Her hand fumbled coding her lock. “That you, Mom?”

No answer.

She looked up.

A late middle-age guy, clean shaven, nice tan, dusty brown hair sliding towards gray, gave her a great smile while his bright gray eyes gave her a once over. The way his eyes moved and the way he smiled, she wondered if he had x-ray vision.

She moved back behind her door and braced it with a foot and both hands. “What is it? I’m in a hurry and need to be somewhere.”

“Yes, your mother’s. Correct?”

Her hands relaxed slightly. “Are you with police? Is my mother okay?”

“May I come in?”

Whoever this guy was, he seemed the polar opposite of Lane. Lane was smooth when it served him while remaining an asshole through and through.

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