The Serial Killer of Bush Street Part 23

Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe, Orange County, California

I sat in the front with George who drove smoothly through the thick woods. As we got closer to town, my thoughts were about Eric. I had been eager to call him ever since we left the city. My intuition needled me that Eric might be that special person I’ve been hoping to meet. Now that I’m on my way to calling him, my nerves are firing off like a machine gun, and my fingers are tingling with reverberations. Would he be mad that we didn’t go to his aunt’s house as he arranged? I sensed not. Especially not after I tell him how Stetson chased us all the way to the freeway. Wouldn’t he be glad we didn’t bring the danger directly to her? If the creep had caught us, he might have put us under arrest for some reason, maybe for what happened at the hospital. Looking back now, I know I did the right thing by coming here. No one knows where we are, and George is right, we need to keep our location a secret.

“Haley, what are you going to say to Eric tonight?” asked Jeanne.

Her question startled me. “I’m not sure,” I said.

“Well, tell him for me, I said thanks for all the help,” Jeanne said. “It would have been a lot scarier situation if he hadn’t been there.”

“That goes for me, too,” said Krista. “I wouldn’t be so calm now if he hadn’t loaned us his van to escape the whole scene. I think I would’ve gone crazy if he hadn’t been there to take charge of what we needed to do and get us away from my apartment.”

“What I want to know is who trashed our apartment, and why us? Was that The Creep harassing us some more?” Jeanne wondered aloud.

“I hope not. But worse than him,” Krista said as she twirled an elastic around her hair and put it up in a short ponytail, it could have been the work of the Serial Killer and some others. You don’t think he’s been murdering those other girls by himself, do you?”

“Maybe he is after us. Mrs. Hamlin was a sweet and loveable old woman. I’d consider us sweet and loveable young girls. We are about the same age as the other victims. It could be us he’s after,” said Jeanne.

In the rear view mirror, I saw how her smile had changed to a downturn frown. “What could the Serial Killer want with us?” I said. “With so much damage, it must have been a bunch of hired men.”

“He’s been killing girls up the street from us,” said Krista. “But why come to our building? You and Jeanne have an apartment that faces to the street where you could easily call for help from the windows. Unlike mine that’s at the back of the building. You also had a grocery store and a pharmacy right across the street. There would’ve been a lot of people to hear your cries for help.”

“I would have been screaming and throwing things at the window. A window breaking always catches people’s attention,” added Jeanne. “Maybe this has something to do with Mrs. Johnson. Haley, squeeze Mrs. Johnson in your call.”

“Right. I’ll ask Eric to tell her we’re safe. It would be dreadful if she heard about Mrs. Hamlin on the news, or, she might have heard about it already. She’ll be so worried about us.”

George turned right off of Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road. “Here we are. There are a lot of treasures to be discovered. Haley and I will be back after her call. Please try not to worry so much now. Mattie and I intend to keep you safe,” he said and he twisted the right end of his mustache.

I watched as my two best friends and Aunt Mattie got out of the van. They closed the door behind them and waved good-bye to us. George drove ahead and turned left toward the Los Gatos Roasting Company. At about the same time every day the aroma of coffee beans floated around the neighboring stores. We were there at the right moment as the rich aroma floated through our car’s window and it helped me to calm down from the impact of the day. That part of our day was over, I hoped. I thanked God we didn’t have to face it alone.

“Haley, I suggest that you take one step at a time, then things will be smoother. Don’t worry. After you update Eric about what happened, he’ll understand the continued need for secrecy,” said George.

“When will I be able to see him again?”

“Soon. Mattie and I will work it out. I promise. You both need to trust us. And what’s more, you are not going to lose him. He doesn’t want to lose you either, Haley.”

I looked at George for a moment and then turned away. How did he know? My heart filled with longing. It had felt good to be in Eric’s arms. I wished he could have held me longer. What could I say to let him know how I felt about him without sounding foolish, or scaring him off? Something in the back of my mind nagged at me, Let him take the lead.

Haley blinked back tears and stared out the window. If it had been a rainy day, she would have been crying along with the raindrops. She was tired, and so much scary stuff had happened. Where is my life going?

Quick memories flashed through her mind. Eric’s face as he kneeled in front of her at the hospital and dressed the cuts on her knees. And how he looked when the creep put out his arm and blocked her passage to Mrs. Johnson’s bedside. The pain must’ve shown immediately on my face. Eric fought for me, he defended me, and he wanted to protect me…

George’s voice brought me back to the moment. He had parked in front of a glass paned door with Celeste’s Fine Italian Food, written on it. “Let’s go inside, Haley, my very good friend, Giuseppe, owns this place. We met in the service a long time ago. You’ll like him.” There was gentleness in his face and once again, his eyes seemed to twinkle.

As we stepped inside, the aroma of rich meat sauces enveloped my senses. “Oh, it smells so delicious in here. I might get hungry all over again,” said Haley.

A man with the shape of a thin bowling pin, and a receding hairline of wavy black hair, approached us. He, too, had a mustache, but a black one. Giuseppe was shorter than George, he stood about 5 feet 5 inches tall, wore a black suit, stiff white shirt, and a black bow tie. In his hands, he held menus and he moved with ease between the tables covered with wine glasses and dripping candles. Grape ivy framed the entrances and the corners of the dining area.

George waved his arm in greeting. “Giuseppe, this is my niece, Haley.”

Giuseppe smiled big and opened his arms to greet me. “Ah, Welcome Haley. I am so very glad to meet you.”

I leaned forward and accepted his hug. “Please, come and sit down. What can I get for you tonight? We have lasagna, manicotti, eggplant, and three delicious sauces for spaghetti and the biggest meatballs in town. Are you hungry? Would you like some wine?”

“Thank you, Giuseppe, but not this time,” said George. “We’ve had an unusually early evening meal tonight, but we are here to ask a favor. May we use your telephone?”

“Certainly! Whatever you need is my pleasure to provide! Come into my office,” he said and led us to a back room. In a wood paneled room, a well polished rosewood roll top desk sat in one corner. A matching swivel chair faced us. Behind it stood a graceful replica of a stork carrying a lampshade. A comfortable floral couch in muted autumn tones was positioned against the wall opposite near a corner window. The room had the ambience more like a sitting room than an office. A wedding picture of Giuseppe and his bride hung in a beautiful gilded frame over the couch.

“Your wife is lovely,” I couldn’t help saying.

“Thank you. Thank you. Celeste is busy in the kitchen now. She will look forward to meeting you, Haley. Oh! Be careful when you lean back in that chair, it can be scary when you are not used to it,” he warned and smiled. “I will be with the guests in front.”

“I’ll be out front with Giuseppe, Haley.” He leaned over to her and said, “Remember, make the call short.”

 

I quickly dialed the number Eric gave me and he answered before the second ring.

“Hello?”

“Eric, it’s Haley.”

“Oh my God, are you okay? Where are you calling from?”

“We’re all okay. I drove to my aunt’s house and she and her friend, George are going to take care of us. But I have to tell you this first, we can’t talk long because your phone line might be tapped. George promised me that I could call you from somewhere else tomorrow.”

“Tell me where I can meet you,” said Eric.

“I can’t do that. I’m too far away and my aunt and George have advised me to keep our location a secret for now. I think after I tell you what happened you might understand.”
“Tell me, what happened. Then I’ll share some of what’s happened here.”

“I’ll try to make it short,” said Haley. “The Creep spotted us and chased us all the way to and down Lombard Street. We hid in someone’s driveway and ducked out of sight. Then I headed for the freeway. It was all a narrow escape, Eric. I drove in a panic but I didn’t do any damage your car. Oh, and I just realized a few minutes ago that while we were trying to get away from him, we probably drove right by your aunt’s house. Please tell her we are so thankful that she was willing to take us in,” added Haley. “If I had gone to her house, I would have led Stetson right to her front door.”

“You’re right. But how did he find you in the first place?”

“It was weird. He spotted us as I crossed over Bush at Powell and he was sitting in a cab. He chased us in a taxi cab!”

“I’m really glad you got away. I can’t wait to see you again, Haley. I have so much to tell you. Then there’s all the stuff that’s happened here,” said Eric.

“I can’t wait to see you, either,” replied Haley. “Oh, and George said that he’ll have your van in your aunt’s driveway by tomorrow morning.”

“Whoa! That won’t be a good idea,” said Eric. “I am glad to hear from you, and am eager to see you, but driving my van back here tonight is not an option right now. Your pictures are on the front page of the Chronicle. A photographer took a random picture trying to show residents leaving the building and he caught you, Jeanne, and Krista about to open the door of my van.”

“That’s definitely unwanted publicity,” I said.

“The problem is more than that. My license plate number is easy to read in this photo. Stetson might already have men watching for you driving my van. So it’s not a good idea for anyone to be driving it.

“I’ll tell George and he’ll work something out,” said Haley.

“Stay where you are and be safe Haley. I want to see you again, and soon, but your safety needs to come first.”

“Eric, I can’t thank you enough for how wonderful you’ve been. Ever since I met you, you have been helping and protecting me, and my friends. Oh, I’ve got to ask you right now, how Mrs. Johnson is doing? Can you call her, or go see her and secretly let her know we’re all okay? We don’t want her to hear about Mrs. Hamlin on the news. She’ll be terrified and more worried about us.”

“Sure, the Chief and I will take care of that. When do you think I’ll be able to see you?”

“George said he’s working on that, so I’ll think it’ll be soon.” Haley fidgeted with the spiral telephone cord and paused, “Eric, I’ll be calling you tomorrow. Though I don’t know what time.”

“I’ll come back here after work tomorrow, but don’t hang up yet. There’s more bad news I have to tell you.”

“What?” Haley said with alarm.

“The bad news is that the place where you’ve been living has now been nicknamed The Murder Building. Three more people were found murdered there.

Haley gasped. Goosebumps rose on her arms. “Who?”

“A mother and her two young girls, in the apartment next to Krista’s. Someone did the same to them as they did Mrs. Hamlin.”

“Oh no! Those sweet little girls and their mother? I brought them some cookies… that Mrs. Johnson baked.” Haley’s voice had trailed off, but Eric figure out what she said.

“I can understand how hard this is to hear, Haley. Fontino and his men are working hard to solve these killings. Chief Mullins and I are going to team up with him to help.”

Haley sobbed. “This is all horrible. Everyone is in danger. And none of us will ever live there again.” She continued crying.

“Haley, it would be better if you didn’t come back for a while. Keep that hiding place and stay in low profile. It will be up to you to call me. I can be here after work to get your call or a message. I’ll be waiting.”

“Eric. George promised me that I would be calling tomorrow, and I’m counting on him to keep his promises. My aunt trusts him with her life, and at the moment I don’t have a choice, but I feel that I can trust him, too.”

Haley saw George peek in at the door. “I’ve got to go right now. I’ll call tomorrow!” and she hung up right away. She hoped George had not heard any of her conversation. She wanted to say more but not tonight, she had said, and heard enough. Eric told her what she wanted to know. He was eager to see her again, and soon.

Haley and George waved good-by to Giuseppe as they went out the back entrance. In the van Haley filled him in on what she learned. “George, Eric said our picture is on the front page of the Chronicle and warned us that his license number clearly shows in the picture, too. Won’t that put you in danger when you drive his van back tonight?”

“It might have been a problem, but now that you’ve told me it won’t be. I will have the license plate changed before we move the car. Thanks for the tip though,” said George and he smiled. “You’ve got a great admirer there haven’t you?”

“You were right. Eric does care for me. He’s also very worried about all of us. Fontino and his men found three more bodies in our building today, George. Two little girls and their mother, who lived in the apartment next to Krista’s. Mrs. Hamlin lived with them. All of us, Mrs. Johnson, Krista, Jeanne and I, knew them.” Haley put her hand to cover her eyes as she began to cry again. Her body shook as the painful feelings of a terrible loss seeped into her heart. George folded his arms around her. Then a meek wail came through, “We’ll never be able to live there again.”

Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe, Orange County, California

The Serial Killer of Bush Street Part 22

http://millieannelowe.wordpress.com/2014/10/03/the-serial-kil…street-part-22/

Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe, Orange County, California

Stetson moved quickly through the crowd at Union Square and hopped onto the Hyde Street cable car. He grabbed onto the first white pole at the front of the cable car as it headed up the hill. A bench seat in front of him was available but he preferred to stand on the outside ledge. As the cable car moved forward short bursts of wind blew against his face and the coolness eased the strains from what he would say was a “crappy day.” Everything he was involved with had become a disaster for him. Even up to an hour ago, Steele had told him about his murderous rampage through the Bush Street apartment building. He had been there on a personal request from Stetson which would be a direct link . If Steele was caught, Stetson knew he would be going down with him, and maybe for all the serial killings. He couldn’t let that happen. Stetson’s heart beat faster. Steele had boasted of slicing the throats of two women and two young girls earlier today and casually threw in how he had so easily taken care of a small dog as well.

A dreadful feeling spread through Stetson’s mind and he knew he couldn’t continue to live this way. He had to follow-through with his plan.

The cable car stopped on Sutter Street to pick up more passengers before attempting the steep slope up to Bush, the street where Haley and her two friends lived. His own apartment was barely two blocks further up Bush. After a slow struggle with a full load of passengers, the cable car stopped on the corner by the abandoned flower stand. Stetson tried to see what was happening in front of Haley’s apartment. Police officers in their blue uniforms and caps kept the curious moving up the street while photographers were taking pictures of bystanders. Then he was distracted by a petite blonde who bumped into his hand as she grabbed the same white pole he was holding onto. She swung around and plopped into the bench seat in front of him. How quickly things can change, Stetson thought. The young girl, out of breath, was the Hostess from Lefty’s.

“Well, hello again,” he said.

She didn’t recognize him at first, she squinted at him for a moment. “Oh! Hello. You’re Stetson, the cop?”

“Shh! Don’t tell everyone here. It’s my day off,” he lied. He bent closer, and said in a low voice, “This is when I get to be a stranger, like everyone else.” He looked around to see if anyone heard her.

“Don’t worry,” she said and laughed. ”There’s too much noise. No one can hear what I said.”

Stetson smiled and looked at her with more interest. In a black wool coat with a small collar, she wore a light blue dress that brought out the blueness of her eyes. A small gold cross on a delicate chain hung on her neck along with a heart that had the name Mark, engraved on it. Her wavy blonde hair, no longer in a ponytail, lay on her shoulders.

“Where are you headed? Going home?” he asked.

“Oh no, I’ve just been home for a quick change. I’m headed for the Buena Vista Café. You know that little restaurant at the end of the line. Oh, how I wish I lived in that area. I love those homes with ivy growing around the windows. That’s where I want to live.”

“Oh, yeah,” said Stetson nodding in agreement. He paused. She was a little chatterbox and he wanted to let her talk some more.

At the same time, the Chinatown Branch of the San Francisco Public Library came in sight. The building shone in the sunlight like a golden brick stronghold with a double-sided staircase leading up to beveled glass doors. The library was Stetson’s landmark that a hard left turn was coming up. It was at this point that Stetson often announced to everyone, “Hold on tight for the curve!” Then as the cable car leaned outward on the curve, first time riders squealed and screamed in excitement. Many regulars that Stetson recognized on this route joined in the fun as well. Hoards of smiles and laughter came his way with, “Thanks for the warning!” However, this time Stetson said nothing. He wanted to give the Hostess all of his attention.

They were both silent but smiling as they rode through the turn like old-timers. Then she spoke, “I’m meeting my boyfriend, Mark. He’s bringing his friends from work to the Buena Vista Café for drinks and dinner. We’re going to celebrate his promotion,” she said with a big smile. “Tonight, it’ll be my turn to be waited on with good food and drinks,” she added.

“That happens to be where I’m going to meet a friend as well,” said Stetson.

“Really?” she said and then was pensive.

“Oh, no…”

Stetson watched her smiling face turned to worry.

“I hope you’re not meeting with that guy you were with at Lefty’s,” she said with a hopeful look in her eyes.

“Unfortunately, yes. He’ll be there in about thirty minutes.”

She let out a deep breath. “That guy gives me the creeps. Oh, I’m sorry. That just slipped out. He’s a friend of yours’, but I can’t help how I feel.”

Stetson heard the distress in her voice. He nodded his head to indicate it didn’t bother him. “He’s quite a flirt,” he said trying to show her sympathy.

“Ugh! When I’m leading him to a table, I can feel his eyes crawl all over the back of me. And when I see him face to face, his whole being seems to pierce me. He really scares me,” she said.

Stetson saw her shudder.

All the time they were talking, the Hyde Street cable car moved smoothly over the shiny silver rails toward the bay. When the grip man stopped at Lombard Street for everyone to catch the magnificent view of the Bay Bridge beyond the sprawl of the city below, Stetson said, “Here’s the beautiful area where you said you’d liked to live. And look, see the sailboats out by the Bay Bridge? Someday soon, I’ll have my own sailboat and be out there.”

“I’ve been sailing with my father before. On a windy day I find it exciting to be cutting through that huge body of water,” she said.

“You’re right there. I love the feel of the wind in my face,” then he changed the subject. “Hey, I’m sorry. My friend is just a casual business acquaintance. I don’t know him well, but I did notice how he has a pointed need for flirting with cute girls.”

Her face reddened a bit. “Thanks for the compliment,” she said. “Hopefully I’ll get there before he does and can convince my friends to go somewhere else for dinner tonight.”

“There’s always Alioto’s nearby,” suggested Stetson. “By the way, what’s your name?”

“They call me Stephanie at work, but my name is really Marilyn Mid…”

“Last stop!” said the grip man, as his gloved hands pulled the big brake backwards. The loud click clacking noise from the brake action, along with the murmurs of excitement from the crowd upon seeing Alcatraz had overpowered her words.

Marilyn smiled at Stetson and said, “By the way, thanks for the big tip.” She slid from the wooden bench seat before he could offer her assistance. He watched as she walked with sure and light steps in front of the cable car. Her petite figure in low tan heels skipped over the second pair of rails to the sidewalk. She pushed through the café door of the crowded restaurant and disappeared.

Stetson stepped off the cable car and weaved through the other passengers who were walking away in different directions. Heading toward the Buena Vista, he looked forward to an Irish coffee. Trying several times, he still couldn’t figure out what Marilyn had said her last name was, and gave up. The next time he was at Lefty’s he would ask the manager. For some reason though, he could not get her off his mind. She had a nice first name, and she looked like a Marilyn, too. Was he smitten with her? Stetson laughed at himself. She’s too young. He visualized her light wavy blonde hair bouncing up and down as she walked, and remembered her beautiful blue eyes. He had also noticed her full lips. She had all the qualities … that Steele would enjoy.

“Oh my God, no!” Stetson said inaudibly. His chest felt hollow as he realized that Marilyn was Steele’s next victim.

Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe, Orange County, California

The Serial Killer of Bush Street Part 21

http://millieannelowe.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/the-serial-kil…street-part-21/

Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe, Orange County, California

Stetson and Steele parted company outside the swinging doors of Lefty O’Doul’s. Steele strolled left toward Mason Street while Stetson had turned right toward Union Square, a place where he could disappear and not be known as a police officer. He had to decide what to do about Steele.

The sounds of fluttering voices and giggling caught his ear. He turned and saw a group of women standing in front of Andre’s, a fashionable boutique, eyeing Steele’s slim figure well revealed in soft blue jeans gliding down the street. He’s doing it again, even without effort, thought Stetson. Steele had dressed in a black turtleneck under his brown leather jacket, and thrown on a dark blue neck scarf. Instantly, he had the mysterious aura of an artist, or a model. Two women dressed in Chanel suits and carrying expensive handbags passed by in front of Stetson. He overhead one of them say, “Sylvia, imagine that handsome blond hunk posing naked. Oh, I could just faint!”

Stetson shook his head as if he could erase what he had just heard. He didn’t need any more confirmation that Steele’s enormous appetite for women put him closer to being caught. The man’s looks alone acted like a magnet for women’s attention. Stetson crossed Powell Street along with the crowd of shoppers. The street noise of cars honking, people chattering, and the flapping of pigeons across the grounds, mixed with Jamaican tune played by the corner street musicians banging away at overturned wash basins and cooking pots. This fabric of noise was typical of downtown San Francisco. When he reached the tall statue of Victoria, the goddess of victory, a commemoration of the victory of George Dewey in 1898 at Manila Bay, Stetson had his mind made up. After the many disagreements he had with Steele in the past, and recent unsuccessful attempts to created communications with Jeanne and Krista who worked together in the teletype room of E. I. DuPont’s Western Headquarters, Stetson had lost his patience. Steele’s non-productive attempts were the results of his distraction of hunting and the feeding his desires to kill young blonde girls. Stetson knew he had to get rid of Steele. Permanently.

Since his demotion on the police force, he had no clout with his cohorts, nor did he have anyone he could trust. He had to do this job himself. He remembered that he still hadn’t talked with any of the guys he hired to do the job on Haley’s apartment, but at the moment, he had to let those details go and rely on those thugs to keep their mouths shut. He had much bigger problems to resolve.

For one, he had to get rid of Steele. The serial killer’s death would remove the high-risk situation. His other predicament involved the rich and powerful client nicknamed, Portico. Portico had hired Stetson to carry out a plan to destroy a major portion of the Port of San Francisco using some specific guidelines. When Stetson felt comfortable enough to ask, “Why?” his client replied, “You don’t need to know. I am paying you well to get the information and to set up the job.” At that point, a bodyguard handed over a gym bag packed with $250,000, and guiding Stetson by the arm escorted him out of the penthouse of the Mark Hopkins Hotel. Within ten minutes Stetson saw his client leave the hotel in a dark and long limousine.

Stetson needed someone highly skilled to meet his needs for this job, and Steele, a former demolition expert for the Navy came highly recommended by his peers.

Upon hearing Steele’s idea of how he could easily obtain the confidential details of the shipping orders without a break-in, Stetson hired Steele and paid him with half the amount he received, and promised twice as much to come upon completion of the job.

But now, this man, whose skills as a demolition expert made him an asset had become a detriment – a serial killer who in just weeks, had murdered seven people. And as Steele told him this afternoon, the lives of four of those seven people taken before noon today. Two of which were young little girls. The terror Steele instilled in the neighborhood and around the city also created groups of angry men who were ready to do harm to the serial killer without hesitation. They were tired of waiting for police efforts to protect their loved ones and themselves. He and Steele had witnessed the beginning of small mob by men who were eager to be vigilantes. Though Steele enjoyed the notoriety, Stetson did not. He had to be rid of Steele, and he had to do it tonight.

Through crowds of shoppers, tourists, and pigeons pecking the ground for breadcrumbs, it had only taken a stroll around Union Square two times. Stetson made his decision and knew exactly how he would carry out his plan.

After a brief discussion of business, and treating Steele to a big dinner, and several rounds of drinks at the Buena Vista Café with some girl-based jokes thrown in, he planned to entice Steele to join him on a cable car ride back to their neighborhood on Nob Hill. Emphasizing how grand it would feel to see the sparkling lights of the city below Lombard Street where the cable car always stopped, and what a thrilling experience it was to stand underneath the star filled night sky and look out at the Bay Bridge that would be all lit up.

At the boarding point where people waited for the grip man to drive the cable car onto the revolving turntable, he planned to stand close to Steele and deliver a bullet that would stop the murderous heart.

Stetson carefully reviewed the details of his surroundings for that moment. At the end of the line, the front windows of the Buena Vista Cafe looked out at the spot where the conductor and cable engineers pushed the cable car around to go back up Hyde Street. The warmth from inside the restaurant in contrast to the chilly fog would create steamy windows, making it hard for anyone to see what was happening outside. Besides that, there were only a couple of lampposts in that area. The turntable at night would be the perfect setting for Steele’s demise, thought Stetson. Various sources of noise would be the helpful cover for his crime. People often called out to family members, “Over here! We have seats over here!” Everyone would be busy clamoring aboard for a seat for the long ride up and down the hills back to the core of the city. In addition to the rattling of the cable car driven onto the round wooden platform, the rumbling of cables beneath the silver rails would hide any noise of a struggle, or the gunshot.

By the time the gripman and conductor discovered Steele’s body on the ground in the darkness, all the passengers would be screaming in fear. Stetson smiled to himself as he thought of how the leather jacket, dark turtleneck shirt and navy blue neck scarf Steele loved to wear, would conveniently hide the blood. Stetson visualized himself walking along in the dark with others who were heading toward the neon lights advertising great seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf.

Releasing a deep sigh, Stetson’s body relaxed. His hands were no longer held in a fist, and his shoulder muscles were not tensed. He had a firm plan now.

He squeezed through the crowd surrounding the swaying street musicians and hopped on the outside of the Hyde-Powell Street cable car. At the end of the line, he would be ready to meet with Steele. His spirit was up, and he felt surges of energy that made him feel he could run on a track and jump hurtles, even with the two guns he packed on his body. He discreetly pressed his bent elbow against his side. Underneath his loose windbreaker a Smith & Wesson semi-automatic 1911 .45 caliber sat neatly in his shoulder holster. And although uncomfortable at times, he wore an S&W J Frame Colt 1903 .25 acp in his right ankle holster. Uncomfortable or not, that little baby had saved his life through many close calls. “How convenient my two best friends are with me today,” he said aloud. He trusted the noise surrounding him to cover what he said. The Jamaican music alone would prevent anyone from hearing him clearly. Just as no one will hear the killing gunshot by the turntable tonight.

Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe Orange County, California

The Serial Killer of Bush Street Part 20

http://millieannelowe.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/the-serial-kil…street-part-20/

Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe, Orange County, California

Robin’s evening edition of The Examiner landed with a thump against her front door. “That Jimmy Lee is going to break the glass on my door someday. His arm is getting too strong from baseball practice,” she mumbled to herself. She separated the thick front section of the newspaper and tucked the others under her left arm. As she walked back into the patio she announced, “The Examiner has several pictures on their front page. Is this Haley, Jeanne, and Krista?”

Both Eric and the Chief stood abruptly, their chairs screeched when shoved back on the stone pavement. Eric took the paper from Robin. “It’s them. This photo was snapped when they were leaving the building and getting into my van.”

The Chief looked over his shoulder. “And your license plate shows real well, too.”

“That means that creep and his men will be able to track them down wherever they are, right?” asked Robin.

“Unfortunately, yes. I wish there was some way I could warn her,” said Eric as he continued to scan the newspaper.

“I’ll give Fontino a call and see if there’s anything he can do,” said the Chief. He picked up his mug and plate and headed toward the kitchen. “By the way, Robin, you’re potato salad was delicious, too.”

“Thank you, but here, let me have those dishes. You don’t need to do this,” said Robin.

“Yes, I do,” he said and waved her back. “My mother trained me to be the perfect guest, Robin, and I value the rewards of being polite.” The Chief then gave her a big smile, leaned toward her and spoke as if a conspirator, “I get the bigger piece of cake for desert.” Robin burst into laughter and walked into the kitchen with him.

He put his dishes in the sink. “I haven’t forgotten we’re waiting for Haley to call. I’ll get off the phone as quick as I can.”

“Don’t worry about that. Just use the new line I had installed in my studio. It has a different number,” Robin said.

The Chief gave her a lingering look. “Okay, thanks. I’ll use that one.” He walked down the carpeted hall and into a room filled with paintings leaning against the walls, and in front of other pieces stored in slots. Books on painting techniques by famous artist loaded the shelves, and an easel stood near the double French doors. The atrium offered a beautiful and restful scene of ferns and flowers swaying in the mid-day breeze.

At her desk the telephone had its place next to a row of brushes ranging from small and thin to tall and thick. A big jar of pencils in a multitude of shades stood on the other side of the phone along with a tray of palette knives.

Robin returned to the patio where Eric sat thumbing through the newspaper for the second time. She sat down in the chair next to him.

“I’ve read everything here about the serial murders twice,” he said. “The front page picture shows Haley and the girls leaving as firemen are coming and going at that time. This is happening before the police arrived,” explained Eric. “Luckily, they weren’t identified by name or as residents there.”

“That a bit of a relief isn’t it?” said Robin.

“Yeah. Until Stetson,” he paused and explained. “Aunt Robin, Stetson’s the cop who harassed Jeanne and Krista in their apartment for disturbing the peace when they weren’t, and the same guy who harassed Haley at the hospital.”

“He’s a bully and a creep,” said Robin.

“Until Stetson and his men see this picture, they won’t have a clue as to where the girls have gone, or how they’re getting there,” finished Eric.

“And not everyone reads the early evening edition of the newspaper,” said Robin, “Until they do, the girls have a bit more time to disappear.”

“Right,” said Eric and he sighed. “I’m praying they are all okay and that they’ll be calling soon.”

The Chief returned with a solemn face. “What’s happened?” asked Eric.

“Well, several things,” he said as he pulled over a chair to sit next to Robin. “Fontino got a tongue-lashing and a threat of extinction from the Mayor who is demanding faster results. Our friend is still at the crime scene and he’s ticked off that reporters are juicing residents of the neighborhood for more information. He says that rumors get started that way and move like wild fire. People coming home from work down in the financial district are joining the crowd. And the worst part, someone has nicknamed the place The Murder Building.

“Ha!” said Robin as she raised her hands to exclaim, “Call it The Murder Building of Nob Hill and tourists from all over the world will come to the scene of the crimes!”

“It’s bad enough that someone came up with the name The Serial Killer of Bush Street, but now, the trouble coming our way will double,” added the Chief.

“Somehow we have to catch the serial killer,” said Eric. “We need to study the cases. Try to find a pattern, or associate the killings somehow.”

“There’s hasn’t been much time between the Bush Street murders, has there?”said Robin. “I’m feeling uneasy, like something bad is happening right now. And not too far away.”

“Eric, I hope your aunt isn’t psychic. I don’t want her to know what I’m thinking,” said the Chief with a sly smile.

“No, not that I know of Chief,” said Eric, and he smiled, too. “It’s called women’s intuition. Isn’t that right?”

“Yep,” she said. However, she wasn’t telling them the truth for at that moment, she had images of something white being torn, something shiny moving through the air, and a strong wind blowing things all around. Pretending she was fine she said, “Any women living near Bush Street is probably more frightened than they’ve ever felt before.”

Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe, Orange County, California

The Serial Killer of Bush Street Part 19

http://millieannelowe.wordpress.com/2014/08/28/the-serial-kil…street-part-19/

Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe, Orange County, California

“Eric,” said Robin, “Why don’t you show the Chief the view out on the patio?”

Accordingly, Eric led the Chief through the living room to the small flagstone patio. “Have a seat over here, Chief.”

“Heavens! What a spectacular view. I can see the whole length of the Oakland Bay Bridge,” exclaimed the Chief.

“Wait until you see it at night,” said Eric. “In the winter I sit here on a foggy night and wait for the lights to come on over the city below and on the bridge. That’s something special to see as well.”

Robin came out to the patio with a tray of hot apple cider in large mugs. Cinnamon sticks swirling in the hot cider created a warm spicy aroma. “Who would have thought that this tiny spot could have such a big view, eh?” said Robin. Her silvery hair sparkled in the sunlight as she placed napkins and coasters on the table.

“This is delicious,” said the Chief, and his eyebrows lifted in affirmation as he nodded his head. “This is just what I needed. Thank you, Robin.”

“You’re welcome, Greg. Listen, you guys rest and I’ll go make some  sandwiches.”

“The fog is starting to roll in now,” said Eric.

The Chief scanned the horizon, “Yep, that’s quite a thick fog bank out there.” He stretched, “Man, I’m getting tired and I still have so much paperwork to do down at the fire station. Right now, I just don’t want to move.”

Eric nodded in agreement, sipped his apple cider, and stared out at the small sailboats and large freighters moving along in the Pacific Ocean. It’s awesome, he thought, that in just a day and a half, he had met Haley and become enraptured with her. What was it about her that fascinated him? What was it that made her different from the other girls he had met? He remembered watching her the night before when she conversed and comforted several families in the hospital waiting rooms. As he assisted the nursing staff with the overflow of incoming patients, he had overheard her kind words of encouragement for an elderly grandfather who broke his leg. He later saw how she helped a young little girl dry her tears from a fall and become a smiling girl full of giggles, ready to see the doctor. In his mind, Haley had unique characteristics. He had always been attracted to this kind of person. Add to that the similarities from their backgrounds where they had both lost their parents when they were young, they definitely had more feelings in common that didn’t need to be spoken aloud.

Haley had just begun to sharing her aspirations for more humanitarian work through her employer’s projects. She had said that as the Administrative Assistant to the District Manager of E. I. DuPont deNemours, Inc., there were plenty of opportunities ahead of her. However, at that moment, Commander James Stetson of the SFPD had interrupted them.

Eric felt the tenseness in his arm when he thought about how Stetson had tried to persuade Haley to accept a ride home from the hospital with him. Then when Eric visually recalled how Stetson’s arm had shot outward and blocked Haley from getting closer to Mrs. Johnson’s bedside in ICU, he pounded his fist on the arm of his chair.

“Are you all right?” asked the Chief? “You worried about Haley and the girls?”

“Yeah sure,” Eric said and he started pounding his right fist into his other hand, “That S.O.B. just walked right into Mrs. Johnson’s room and tried to order everyone around. Did I tell you about how he put out his arm to block Haley from Mrs. Johnson’s bedside? That creep was so wrapped up in the authority of his position, he ended up hurting Haley across the chest.”

“No,” said the Chief in disbelief. “So that’s what caused you two to slug each other?”

“Yeah, that’s right. I was doing okay but then I had help from the orderlies, too,” said Eric. “Chief,” and Eric stopped to laugh. “You should have been there to see how these guys enjoyed pounding Stetson. You would have loved it. They were smiling when they pulled that bull away from me. They hated his guts.” Eric rubbed the knuckles of his right hand. “All three orderlies were laughing so hard when they came back on to the ICU. I overheard one of them say that when they released Stetson from the elevator and into the lobby, the Chief of Police had Stetson pulled over and he disposed the riot act on the creep and then demoted him! Stetson is no longer in charge of the Serial Killer investigations. Too bad Haley and the girls didn’t know this before they took off. I’m sure the memory of his harassments still frightens them. Now, they’re fleeing from the creep and the Serial Killer.

“And what’s more,” added the Chief, “The girls don’t know that two little girls and their mother were also murdered in the same building they lived in.”

“Right. That and the fact they are homeless now, just makes me so frustrated. I can’t do anything to help them. I don’t know where they are, or where they might be headed,” said Eric.

“Eric, stop what you’re doing with your eyebrows. You look like a fiend from the movies,” said the Chief. “Everything will work out.”

“One of them must be pretty special,” said Robin as she approached the table with a large bowl of potato salad and a tray of sandwiches “Take your pick, guys. I made roast beef, ham and cheese, and egg salad sandwiches.”

“Thanks Aunt Robin. All of this looks delicious,” said Eric. He leaned back and said, “Her name is Haley, Aunt Robin. She lives, or did live with her roommate, Jeanne, and they both have a friend named Krista who is with them practically all the time when they are not at work. But right now, their apartment has been so thoroughly vandalized, they’re homeless.”

“I’m concerned for them, too,” said the Chief. “An elderly woman was found with her throat slit in Krista’s apartment. With a serial killer still roaming in the neighborhood, and mobs of angry people wanting justice, more trouble is brewing and spreading all over this city.”

“I wish I knew where they were, and if they are safe. I don’t understand why they haven’t called yet. They had to leave their apartment so fast, all they had was what they were wearing and what money they had in their purses. On a weekday, that couldn’t have been very much,” said Eric. “Girls usually just take enough money in their purses for lunch and bus fare on the weekdays. On the weekends when they shop down on Market Street, they are usually loaded with cash.”

“That’s a good observation,” said Robin as she sat down on a chaise lounge to eat her roast beef sandwich.

“Your van wasn’t there when we got outside, Eric. Their own car has flat tires. They must’ve driven out of town. I think they were more scared than what showed,” said the Chief. “Do you know what I mean?” he added.

“Yeah, I do,” said Eric as he shifted in his chair still chewing on a sandwich. “They’re going to experience a delayed action when they finally settle down for the night. All of them were so busy running from danger…” Eric did not finish his sentence aloud but his mind kept on going. “Well Haley seems the strong one,” said the Chief. She’s taken everything in stride and still has the capability to take care of the other two.”

“I just can’t figure out why they didn’t come here,” said Eric. He rubbed his forehead.

“There’s probably a good reason for it,” said the Chief. “Maybe they decided to go to some other relatives’ home. None of them know Robin. Maybe that’s what changed their minds.”

“Yeah, that might be, but then they have my van. You would think they would call here and leave a message. They know I would need my car to get to work. Haley’s the responsible type, she’d want to contact me right away,” said Eric.

“That’s just it. Haley and the girls haven’t settled down yet. Give them a few more hours, Eric. Then if you don’t’ hear from her, our friend, Detective Fontino could put out an APB and find them.”

“An APB will let the creep and his cohorts know what’s happening. We have to keep it low profile. Just you and me for now.” Crooked furrows came back on his forehead.

“I’m hanging in here with you, Eric,” said the Chief. “Whatever you need.”

New Amazon Review

Originally posted on Gotta Find a Home::

$2.97 download. Proceeds go to people forced onto the streets. R2R

5.0 out of 5 stars: Very Well Written and Enlightening, July 29, 2014
By Irish Times (Chicago, Illinois)

This review is from: Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People (Kindle Edition)

I walk past homeless people as I leave the train station and head to my office every single day. Over time I have come to not even see them anymore. It is as if they are no different than the trash that litters the sidewalk. This book opened my eyes. The writing was superb and the author did a good job telling these people’s tales. It was at times heart wrenching but yet still uplifting to see that despite their lot in life most seem to still have a good outlook on life. Some of those stories were pretty funny too, nice to see that they can…

View original 97 more words

The Serial Killer of Bush Street Part 18

http://millieannelowe.wordpress.com/2014/07/30/the-serial-kil…street-part-18/

Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe, Orange County, California

Bewildered the three of us wandered through the cabin in the Saratoga Woods in awe. “This bedroom is the perfect size for all three of us. We can pretend we’re at camp and share secrets every night and no one will hear us way out here in the woods,” said Jeanne.

“You sound like a little kid, Jeanne,” I said. “But you’re right. We do have a lot of secrets now, and a lot of things to figure out.”

Krista walked over to a twin bed by the window. “This must be where I’ll be sleeping,” she said as she picked up a pair of straight leg jeans and a blue cashmere sweater. “Wow wee. How did they know my favorite type of clothes?”

“It’s gotta be George and his uncanny abilities,” said Jeanne. “I can’t wait to find out how uncanny he is.”

We had a much needed laugh. I felt tired and on the edge of crankiness. Jeanne flopped down on the bed in the far right side of the room.

“Soon enough. I’m going to take a shower. I can’t believe how dirty I feel.”

“I’ve got second dibs,” said Jeanne.

“No worries, girls,” said Mattie standing in the doorway with an armload of towels. “You are all welcomed to use my bathroom anytime. It’s straight down the hall.”

“Thank you for the towels,” I said, and grabbed the clothes from the bed near the door, kicked off my loafers, and unzipped my skirt. As it slid down, I saw the cuts and scrapes again. “Oh, I hope these cuts will heal without scaring.”

“I’ve got some ointment for that in your bedside table,” said Mattie.

“You think of everything. Thank you a million times over.” She smiled and I gave my aunt a joyful hug of gratitude.

 

The aroma of a great blend of spices lingered in the air as the after dinner conversation began. “That was a fabulous southwest dinner, Aunt Mattie. I’m delighted you remembered my favorites, homemade salsa and tortilla chips. And, the enchiladas were perfect. Just like you made them for me when I was a kid, not too spicy.”

“ I loved the salsa. I can eat this every day without a problem,” said Jeanne as she dipped another homemade chip into the bowl.

“I’ve overeaten tonight,” said Krista with her hand over her midriff. “It was all so delicious. Thank you Mattie.”

“I’ve got a big Thank You, too. Not only for dinner but for all the beautiful clothes. How did you know our sizes, and what we liked so much?” asked Jeanne.

“Well, George helped me with the sizes and described what you all had been hankering for the last time you went clothes shopping.” Mattie put her arm on George’s shoulder. “George, dear, why don’t you tell them how you sense things?”

George patted her hand and smiled. I saw a twinkle in his eyes, and noted that it was always there when he spoke with her.

“Let’s all get comfortable in the living room first. And Haley, I haven’t forgotten you want to call Eric. I’ll just take a minute,” said George.

“How did you know about Eric?” said Jeanne and Krista in unison. The two of them had been close friends for a long time. They now shared timing in their expressions of curiosity. They looked at me. I shrugged.

“I’ll explain in a moment,” said George with his hand up. Then he shoved back his chair and took his dishes into the kitchen.

None of us said another word. We quietly put our dishes on the tiled kitchen counter and went to the living room to find a comfortable spot.

I chose the floor in front of the fireplace that was not lit yet and leaned on a huge floor pillow. George chose an overstuffed easy chair with wide rounded arm rests, and put his legs up on a matching footrest. Mattie sat across from him in an unholstered hardwood chair next to Krista who sat on the available end of the leather couch where Jeanne had already stretched out.

“Let me tell you first girls, that what I am going to share with you tonight is not for anyone else to know. None of our neighbors or our friends have any idea about my abilities. I learned a long time ago that my life couldn’t be stable, or secure with people knowing what I might be able to do,” he paused and sighed. “There have been times when it seemed people from all over the world wanted my help. But, I just can’t do that. I can’t help everyone, so I moved here from back east, grew a mustache, and started a new life.”

“Cool. Incognito,” said Jeanne, and her face redden as she realized she had interrupted him.

Mattie spoke up, “When George courted me, we became very close. And then I came to know when he had these special feelings.”

“That’s just how it happened, girls. To me, Mattie is what people call a soul mate. She confronted me so many times just when I experienced something that I had to share my secret with her. Heck, I never wanted her to not to know, but I didn’t know how she’d take it. Then, it dawned on me that her tender heart for others, and for me, would make everything all right. And I am glad I did tell her all about it.” He sat back and twirled the left tip of his silvery mustache.

“George and I have a unique relationship. We share a lot of satisfaction in helping whomever we can, when we can,” added Mattie.

Chilling goose bumps on my arms chased away the calmness I felt earlier. I suddenly burst out, “How much do you know about what happened to us?”

“Did you know we were going to lose everything in our apartment?” asked Jeanne.

“And did you know that Mrs. Hamlin was going to get killed in my apartment?” asked Krista with a shaky voice.

George held up both hands to fend us off. “Hold on there, girls. One question at a time.” He shifted in his easy chair and leaned forward with both hands pointed together. “Now, first of all, I don’t know everything about everyone. I don’t need to. And, there are certain things I never know about. What I find out is not by my choice, though sometimes I try to concentrate on something I think is important and the answer would come, but…”

“But it comes days or weeks later,” Mattie finished his sentence for him. “We know this because that is what happened with all of you, and what’s been happening on Bush Street. It’s how we know that Eric has been watching out for you.”

“That is awesome,” said Jeanne. Her eyes were wide in wonder.

“Krista,” said George looking straight at her. “You’re a little sweetheart and I do want you to know that Mrs. Hamlin loved you. I felt it every time I had images of you with her. However, I didn’t know that she was going to be murdered. All I got were blurred images of her and a sense of danger, and that was when she was by herself,” said George. “Unfortunately, most of the time I am not able to tell to what degree of danger someone is in.”

George’s revelations had me mesmerized, and a glance at Jeanne and Krista showed me that they were entranced as well.

“What a terrible burden for you to have to carry, George,” I said. “How does someone with a gift like yours, know what to do with visions, whether clear or not? It must be hard to get to sleep.”

“Well, I’ve figured that it’s all part of the payment for having the opportunity to do some good for others.”

George turned toward Jeanne. “Now you all have a general idea of what I can, and cannot do. Jeanne. I know you are going to be one of my biggest fans. I haven’t forgotten you, dear, but I feel a strong need to tell you – to stay away from that cute guy from the Laundromat.” George said this with emphasis and we all listeded carefully.

“I sense a geat deal of danger every time I have a vision of him. Those visions are always blurry, and he’s doing something with a lot of noise in the background. My heart beats faster and I sometimes want to jump up and hit the wall or kick a tree. So please, stay away from him.”

Jeanne gasped and looked at all of us. “So you know, too, that I think he’s cute?”

Her sense of humor and timing came to the rescue again. The moment had been scary one.

George shook his head and smiled. A flash of concern showed for a second in his eyes, and he turned to me. “Haley, I have good feelings about that young man you just met. I sense that you feel the same way about him, too.”

I looked at George and saw a gentle face. His presence and the tone of his voice had been comforting for me. Then what I said next surprised us all. “George, will Mrs. Johnson be okay?”

He sat back and laid his hands on the armrests. “Yes. Yes, she is in good hands with that nurse. Nurse Geri is a bulldog. She’ll protect your friend.” George nodded his head in affirmation, and he smoothed the right tip of his mustache.

“I have more to caution you all about tonight,” said George. Jeanne sat up to pay attention. Krista and I didn’t move. We all waited for George to continue.

“No one can know where you are staying, and no one can know where you are from. Sticking to these rules and staying here with us will be safer for you than anywhere else at the moment,” said George.

“What do I tell Eric when I call him tonight? I’m sure he’s been worried about us all this time,” I 7said.

“When you call him at his aunt’s home, tell him you and your friends are safe, but that you don’t want to say over the telephone where you are staying for the night. Stall. Tell him you will call him again tomorrow night. Believe me. After all that’s happened, he’ll agree with you and go along with what you want to do,” said George.

“Can I at least give him this phone number?”

“No, it’s important you don’t. We’ll all be safe this way. When we go into Los Gatos tonight, you can make a phone call from a store a friend of mine owns. Oh, and tell Eric he’ll have his car back at his aunt’s house tomorrow morning.”

“How is that going to happen?” asked Jeanne.

George chuckled before he answered. “Well, I have my friends and my methods. Don’t you worry little gal. Don’t you worry.”

“It’s getting late. Let’s go call Eric now,” said Haley. “The sooner he knows we’re okay, the sooner I’ll stop feeling guilty. He’s been so supportive. I wonder if he’s okay.”

“I’m wondering what he’s told the police,” said Jeanne. “And Fire Chief…what’s his name? I like him. For some reason I feel akin to him.”

“I think,” interjected Krista, “they could be wondering if we’ve been caught and killed by the Serial Killer.”

“Krista! That’s an awful thought,” said Jeanne, “Especially from you, I didn’t think you would say that out loud.”

“Hear, hear. You’ve all had some big scares these last few weeks,” said Mattie as she dried her hands with a dish towel. “It’s not uncommon that when you finally feel a bit safe your fears come out into the open. Just take your time, Krista. Try to relax.”

I watched as she took her time fussing with hairpins in curls that were not out of place. Then she added, “I believe, that when you relax and enjoy these surroundings, you will feel more secure here.”

“Mattie’s right, girls. Let’s just take care of what needs to be done and then concentrate on making our home, your home for now,” George said.

Jeanne jumped up from the couch. “Okay. Let’s get the dishes done. I want to see what Los Gatos is like.”

“I’ve already rinsed them. They’ll be fine,” said Mattie. “Now, George and I picked out some beautiful coats and jackets for each of you. Look in the hall closet. Grab one and hop into George’s mini-van.”

My aunt never seemed to run out of smiles.

“Haley, after you make the call to Eric, George and I will treat us to the Rocky Mountain Ice Cream Shop. Sound like a good plan?”

“That’s the best plan,” offered Jeanne as we all got up to leave.

I saw tears welling up in Krista’s eyes, and I went over to hug her. “We’re going to be okay, Krista. We’re going to be safe here.”

She hugged me back hard and sobbed, her cries muffled in my shoulder. Then, just as quickly, she pulled away and wiped away her tears.

“That’s right. We couldn’t have anything better than this,” she said.

Mattie came over to us. “I’ve found that the gift George has is amazing. Along with his tender heart for people he has a strong protective instinct,” Mattie said. “Life is going to be very different for all of you from now on.”

“You mean that we’ll be safer, out of the reach of the Serial Killer, and that cop who has been harassing us?” I asked. “I’m sorry, but I can’t help thinking about the harshness of our lives these last two days.”

Mattie smiled and a tender look of motherly love spread across her face.

She gathered us in for a four-way hug. “I understand how you girls feel. In time you’ll all learn to trust George like I do.” She paused and said, “And I’ve trusted him with my life several times. He’ll come through for you, too.”

Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe, Orange County, California