The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 11 (was Chapter 8 long, long ago, now modified)

The Alibi – Chapter 11

 
Briggs Lane stood at the window of his Lane, Cuomo, and Greenberg top-floor corner office. He held a pair of MIL710 Optical Enhancers to his eyes and focused on Innovation Square. “That stupid bastard. Didn’t he know enough not to shit where he eats?”

He placed the MIL710s back in their padded box, placed that in a desk drawer, closed the drawer, and pressed his thumb against what appeared to be a lock. The drawer hissed as the desk sucked it a microscopic inch or two further in and sealed it in place.

He stepped around his desk – mahogany and large enough to play shuffleboard on – and past a five hundred gallon salt-water reef tank dominating a windowless wall and custom made by a team from the New England Aquarium in exchange for time, materials, and an anonymous ten million dollar donation towards unspecified marine research.

A post-doc from NEAQ came in once a week to make sure the tank and its highly illegal denizens were in good order. Lane ran his hand along the side of the tank and something flashed out from under the reef. It smashed itself against the tank’s clear acrylic wall and Lane smiled down at the circular rows of teeth before continuing on to the wall opposite his desk. Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa hung there. He smiled, lifted his fingers to his lips, kissed then touched his fingers to the carving’s frame.

The wall opened and revealed what Lane’s deep intimates referenced as variously “the weapons locker,” “the Predators’ trophy array,” and “Elon Musk’s wish list.”

That last one always gave Lane a chuckle.

Musk was an ass.

Never invited Briggs to any parties, never accepted Lane’s invitations to dinner when he was in Boston.

What a fucking ass.

Lane lifted a smallish disco dance club’s glitterball from its birth in the hidden compartment to reveal a small, gold nameplate with HIVE engraved on it.

Lane turned the glitterball over and placed his hand inside. A moment later the HIVE – a prototype Human Immersion Visual-audio Enhancer – hummed and Lane fitted it over his head.

The HIVE’s separate facets, much like an insect’s compound eyes, captured video-audio feeds from whatever was available – a newscast, a store camera, municipal video, people livestreaming, devices uploading to the cloud – and built a real-time 3D immersive environment for the wearer. Tilt your head forward and you walked forward, lean forward and you ran, turn your head and you saw from side to side, tilt your head back and you looked up, down was down and so on.

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Previous entries in The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery):

Previous entries in The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery)

The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 10 (was part of Chapter 5 long, long ago. Maybe this is an example of authorial inflation?)

The Alibi – Chapter 10

 
William “Bill” Cranston grabbed the railing as he jogged up the stairs to Precinct House 17. He may have been a linebacker in college, but that was thirty-five years ago and now he needed to pull himself up inclines when he jogged them.

He snapped his hand back as if he touched a high-tension line.

The railing was shaking?

Sure, ’17 was one of the oldest precinct houses in Boston, still brick-and-mortar as they say, and with wide-paneled hardwood floors and high ceilings and big fans hanging down because putting AC in a building about to be decommissioned was a waste of tax dollars, but that decommissioning order had been on the books for twenty years Cranston knew of once. The city discovered it would cost more to put up a new precinct house rather than get rid of this old one, but somehow the money set aside for a new precinct house never made it into a working AC system.

Cranston made it a point to dig deep whenever he had to investigate a city or state official. He was going to write a book once he retired. Fuckers I have known, he was going to call it.

Old or not, ’17 was still solid. granite anchored the railings. They could shake? Like that?

He looked up and down the street. No fifty-three foot TT or heavy construction vehicles in sight, but dogs barked and pulled on their leashes. Pigeons, robins, and starlings took flight. The leaves on sidewalk maples, willows, and elms shivered as if chilled by a late October wind.

He touched the railing tentatively, one finger stretched forward, his body slightly turned and ready to pull away.

Nothing.

He shrugged and continued up the stairs. The desk sergeant looked up and nodded as he entered.

“You feel that?”

The desk sergeant shook her head. “Feel what?”

Cranston continued up the next flight to the offices. His phone vibrated in his pocket. A moment later he heard his daughter Leddy’s distinctive TXT ring and read the screen. “U OK?”



Previous entries in The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery):

Previous entries in The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery)

The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 9 (was part of Chapter 4 long, long ago, now modified slightly)

The Alibi – Chapter 9

 
Thorne let the Lady Eglesia‘s systems bring it into the harbor while she dozed on the deck, barely moving from where she slept through the night. She headed out to deep water after hallucinating being back home and visited by her people’s mythical water being, the Bunyip.

Those hallucinations were becoming more frequent.

Usually a quick trip home cured such things. She’d take AirCon’s corporate jet and be there and back in four day’s time. One day to get there, two days with her people, one day to get back.

But who to leave in charge?

Shaul. Not here next-in-command but capable never-the-less.

The Eglesia’s alarms sounded. A shoreside distress signal. Somebody breaking into AirCon HQ and caught in her team’s latest tech gadgets?

She sighed and her eyes fluttered open to the Boston skyline, the the morning sun at her back.

Something bobbed in front of her boat. It looked like a man in the water. It faced the same direction she did.

It turned towards the Eglesia as if suddenly realizing it was there. The sunlight shone off the water making it difficult to see.

Thorne shaded her eyes then opened them wide. “What the – ”

Her mobile alarmed.

The thing in the water dove and was gone.

Thorne read the message on her mobile. She shaded her eyes and looked towards AirCon HQ.

A cloud of gray smoke climbed the thirty story Innovation Square tower. Swirls of denser smoke pulled and pushed the cloud up the side of the building like some Wind Spirit King Kong waving its arms and legs.


Previous entries in The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery)

The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 8 (was Chapter 2 long, long ago, new stuff added…i think. definitely rearranged)

The Alibi – Chapter 8

 
Rexall Shaul stood quietly at the top of thirty flights of stairs. He held the door open for a moment, leaned over the railing, and peered down the stairwell’s center shaft. Music wafted up the from far below. He closed his eyes to concentrate on the sound.

So let me introduce to you
The one and only Billy Shears

He opened his eyes and softly sang along. “And Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, yeah.” He gazed down the center shaft again. “That’s an old one.”

The stairs descended from the art deco paneled hallway on AirCon’s corporate office floor to the garage underneath their building. There were many such buildings, some taller, some shorter, many shared, dotting Boston’s Incubation Square’s waterfront, and Shaul sometimes believed he could feel the waves scouring the building’s foundation piles buried deep into the landfill supporting the Incubation Square population.

He let go of the door and waited, quietly, meditatively, listening to the pneumatic cylinder ease the door shut behind him. The click of the latch served as his runner’s starting pistol.

His breathing slowed and he relaxed his still-lean body with techniques learned as a USAA level competitive gymnast.

Lift his arm to check his Omega Dark Side of the Moon watch?

Lifting his arm would raise his pulse a beat, maybe two.

The hesitation alone raised his pulse a beat or two and he wondered if he was losing his edge.

The sound of the pneumatic piston slowly increased as it reached the last moments of its transit.

Quick glance at the Omega. The door closed, the starting pistol sounded.

Off.

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Previous entries in The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery)

The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 7 (was Chapter 4, new stuff added…i think)

The Alibi – Chapter 7

 
Cisily Thorne lay naked on her stomach on a white and black checkerboard beach towel. The S/V Lady Eglesia‘s Volvo Penta IPS gently thrummed as the seventy-five foot power sail’s thrusters adjusted its position over its Boston Harbor anchorage. The low vibration transported Thorne back home; one or two elders clapping, others singing, and a didgeridoo throbbing in the background.

She missed being washed in the didgeridoo’s sound, of feeling the Old Ones take semi-human shape and walk towards the fire.

But that was thirty-five years and half a world away.

Today she let the sun warm her back and stretched out until her fingertips and toes touched the Lady Eglesia‘s teak foc’sle deck. Her left hand brushed past her mobile and she shoved it so hard it skidded to the fore-railing before banging to a stop.

She seldom took time off and when she did, it was understood – Nobody Bothers The Queen Bitch.

Cisily chuckled.

The Lady Eglesia served as her vacation while at work. A short dinghy ride from dock to boat and she could strip of her work clothes, close her eyes and be back home.

Her mind’s eye saw the brilliant magenta shield of Hamersley Range. She swam in pools of still, clear water, listening to the birdcalls of tiny white corella and pink galahs flying overhead. At night she would power out into deep water where the city lights grew dim. She’d shut down the Eglesia‘s running lights, lie on her back and watch the stars, so different from her northern Australia home, and remember the stories of the Panyjima, Yinhawangka, and Kurrama ancestors.

A passing launch tooted its horn. Thorne rolled sideways on the towel and waved, her movement revealing her milk chocolate breasts capped by their dark chocolate aureola. Boys lined the launch’s deck and applauded. She smiled, shook her head and lay back down. Both men and women still appreciated her late forties body. Long legged, full hipped, narrow waisted, and with just enough breast to keep a partner satisfied without getting in the way. Her skin glistened without needing oils or balms or ointments. A child of biracial birth, she grew up desired and hated, a dark skinned lubra in a white goddess’s body. People assumed she was the child of rape, their bigoted understandings incapable of recognizing her black father and white mother cherishing her and each other.

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