The Ice Pick Killer – Chapter Five (re-post because apparently the first one got lost)

After Slaughters’ revelation, it was as if a light bulb had been turned on over Burke and Powells’ heads.  They considered themselves to be good detectives but in fairness, these cases were a little outside the realm of their usual investigations.  They had been working with the assumption of randomness and not any thoughts of association.

That’s what set Slaughter apart from most.  Thinking outside the box. Seeing the big picture.  Seeing every angle.  Seeing every working part, every parallel line and every curve.

She began the mornings’ meeting with “this is what we know.  We have nine victims.  We have no motive.  We have no murder weapon.  They were all killed by an ice pick being driven into their left ear.  What does that tell us?”

Powell immediately said “it tells us the killer is right-handed.”  Burke nodded in agreement.

Slaughter said “yes, if the perp was facing them but some of these men had some heft to them and remember, none of them had a trace of evidence of having been drugged.  Since we have no clue who the perp is, we don’t know their height, weight or strength but wouldn’t it stand to reason that these men would have been able to stop somebody coming at them with an ice pick?”

“These victims felt comfortable enough to turn their backs to the perp, so what if they were attacked from behind?”
Powell said “the perp is left-handed.”

“Exactly,” said Slaughter.  “Here’s what we need to do.  We need to gather all correspondence, be it emails, texts, phone messages or snail mail. Interview families and friends and find the common thread.  There has to be a connection.  These people shared something or somebody and if it was a somebody, that somebody is most likely going to be left-handed.”

“We’re going to need warrants and I have an idea that we’ll meet some resistance, but I will get them.”  With a rare smile, she said “and detectives, this is going to be a long, arduous undertaking, so we need to be prepared to spend a lot of sleepless nights together.”

In that moment, Burke started seeing Slaughter in a different light.  He was man enough to concede that she was one sharp cookie.  After she gathered her files and walked out of the room, Burkes’ glance was a little different and lasted a little longer than it had before.

Powell noticed and chided him but Burke smiled as he said “she is a force to be reckoned with.  She’s bright, bossy, bold, brash, ballsy, bewitching, beguiling, beautiful and a bitch that would scare the hell out of Satan himself, but Captain Meade was right.  She’s exactly what we need.”

Powell smiled as he murmured to himself, “yeah, she sure beat the shit out of us.”

The first victim on Slaughters’ list…was the first victim, Larz Østergaard. Obtaining information about him was going to be difficult since he was from another country.  His territory in the States included Chicago, Atlanta, Orlando, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

More than likely, his acquaintances from the States were going to be journalists as his specialty was servicing newspapers.  Newspaper journalism is a fickle business and the question was, how many of those acquaintances were still going to be at the papers he serviced?  Not only that but newspapers are a dying business and some of those journalists might have since retired, moved on to other papers or other occupations.

She contacted the editors of the Technology Department in every city.  Her questions were generic for the most part.  “Did you know him?  How well did you know him?  How would you describe his character?  Who were his friends at the paper?  Do you know of anybody who might have held a grudge against him?”

They gave her as much information as they could but they weren’t the original editors, so they couldn’t offer much help.  Hearing the names of the other victims and trying to piece a connection together would be fruitless.

They were, however able to give her information about the previous editors. In the short span of eighteen months, two had retired, two had taken jobs in other fields and one had died.


To be continued__________

The Ice Pick Killer – Chapter Four

The next morning, Burke and Powell were already in the interrogation room when Slaughter entered.  She greeted them with a “good morning, detectives” and garnered no upward glance and no more than a grunt.

After several seconds of silence, Slaughter said “okay.  I’m not here to step on any toes but we’re in this little dance together so as I see it, there are two choices.”

“1. We can pool our collective resources and solve these murders.”

“Or 2.  We can continue to measure ourselves.”  She stood up, leaned over, put her hands on the table and through gritted teeth said “and I can tell you for a fact, gentlemen.  MINE IS BIGGER THAN YOURS.”

Powell, clearly intimidated, was the first to capitulate.  He handed Slaughter the photos from the first crime scene, saying that somehow they had been placed into the dead files.  He picked up the next file, handed it to her and she began to read.

The second and third murders were a married couple named George and Lisa Moore.  George owned a Health Food Store and Lisa worked for a local cell phone company.
It was a first marriage for him and a second for her.  An immediate suspect was of course, her ex-husband but he was quickly cleared as he was out of town and had an air-tight alibi.

Crime scene photos showed they were found outside next to their pool, laying side by side as if intentionally posed.  Both had ice pick wounds to their left ear.  There were no signs of forced entry although it wouldn’t have been difficult for somebody to gain access through the back yard.

Nothing outside or inside was missing or disturbed.  There were no signs of a struggle.  Neighbors were questioned but heard and saw nothing.  Friends and relatives were questioned about any known vendettas or problems but there were none to their knowledge.

Their autopsies showed that they weren’t killed at the same time.  George had been killed first and a reasonable guess of five hours later, Lisa was killed.  This meant that the killer either lay in wait for Lisa to come home or returned.

The fourth victim was an elderly widow who lived alone in a retirement community.  It was an open secret that she had been an alcoholic for most of her life.  There had been instances where she had fallen and injured herself while in a drunken stupor but her family always made excuses and turned a blind eye to her drunkenness.

An autopsy revealed that she was clearly inebriated when she was killed but even with her known lifestyle, it would have been difficult for her to accidentally fall onto an ice pick.

Her family denied her alcoholism to the police as did her friends and balked when it was suggested that maybe she had progressed to the next step and sought other outlets for a high, therefore becoming the victim of a bad drug deal.

That scenario wasn’t entirely plausible due to the lack of anything substantial missing from her home.  Being elderly, she didn’t own any of the attractive and easy to fence modern technological mainstays, such as a computer or fancy phone.  Most drug users and alcoholics will take anything, however the three gallons of Vodka found under the kitchen sink and her purse with credit cards and cash, more or less ruled that out.

The front door was unlocked, leading detectives to believe that she, like the other victims, knew her killer and invited them into her home.

Victim number five was a man named David Ludlow.  He was in his early sixties and had some degree of success, writing books and selling them on a local website.  He had been married in his early life.  It had ended when his wife became involved with another man but they remained cordial through the years, due to sharing a son.

Years later, while on a skiing trip in Colorado, he met a woman from his hometown, named Candy.  She was a successful bank executive, who had clawed her way from a teller to the top of the corporate ladder.  They had a whirlwind romance and were married just six months after they met.

He had a reputation for having a wry sense of humor which was off-putting to some but his inner circle of friends were a tight-knit group.  Nobody had any idea why anybody would want to kill him.  When Candy came home from work she found him sitting in a chair, still holding his favorite guitar.

There was no doubt that Candy was at work when David was killed, so it was yet another head-scratching mystery.

Slaughter put the file down and said “any thoughts?  Any commonalities that you could find in your investigations?  Did they go to the same church? Did they use the same bank?  The same dry cleaner?  Did they buy their booze from the same ABC store?”

Burke said “we couldn’t find any connection.  They seem to be pretty random.”

Slaughter said “No homeless people have been killed.  No convenience store workers have been killed.  No innocent victims, standing on the corner have been killed.  All of these people were killed in their own homes.”

“These are not random killings.  These people were carefully chosen.”


The Ice Pick Killer – Chapter Three

Still acting as if somebody had hit the mute button, the “what the fuck” question bouncing around Burke and Powell’s head was almost audible. They finally stood up and extended manikin-like hands until the firm grip from Slaughter seemed to flip their respective switches back to “on.”

In a shock-like state, Burke finally said “you have to forgive us.  You aren’t exactly what we were expecting.”

Detective Slaughter smiled and said “yes, I sort of got that impression.”

Her reputation had preceded her but it had never even been an afterthought to Burke and Powell, that the “relentless, tough as nails, no bullshit, take no prisoners, juggernaut, pit-bull with balls the size of Texas,” would be a woman.

Captain Meade was standing behind the two-way mirror, having a good laugh at Burke and Powell’s reaction.  He had intentionally let them incorrectly assume that detective Slaughter was a man.  In this largely male-dominated field, it was easy to get caught up in the “good ole boys’ club” mentality.  As he headed back to his office, he adjusted his belt and with a gratified smile, said “hopefully, lesson learned.”

Detective Slaughter had spent the last five years heading up the Unsolved Cold Case Task Force and as Captain Meade said, had never left one unsolved.  Even cases that had been pending for more than twenty years, were no match for Slaughter.

Before she became a cold case investigator, she was an agent whose identity was so deeply undercover that most of the department didn’t even know she existed.  Her entire previous life had, for all intents and purposes, been wiped out of every official database.

She was almost six feet tall and had unusually long hair that had obviously stolen a little thunder from a blonde.  It seemed to dance on her hips with precise rhythm as she walked.  Perfectly arched eyebrows framed a flawless, heart-shaped face and her mesmerizing eyes were captivating, yet disturbingly unnerving.  It was as if something was going on behind them like an ominous, unscripted plot about to unfold.

She reportedly had an IQ of 165, which begged two questions.  1.  Was it true? and 2.  If it was true, why was she working as a homicide detective pulling in 60k a year, when she could be running a major corporation making ten times that amount?

Burke and Powell had many questions and the first was asked by Burke, who was relying heavily on the understanding that she, like most women, found him irresistibly charming.  “Murphy is an unusual name for a woman.  Can I ask where you got it?”

Slaughter impatiently said “where did you get your name?”  Burke, fumbling for his words said “from my parents, I guess.”  Slaughter said “hmm” and hoped that Burke would take the hint but he didn’t.

He said “fair enough.  Forget the name.  Just tell us a little bit about yourself.  What made you want to become a homicide detective?  I know what made me….”

Clearly annoyed, Slaughter cut him off in mid-sentence, leaned forward, looked at him with a dead stare and said “Detective Burke.  We’re not here to have a meet and greet.  We’re not here to learn each others’ life stories or the origin of our names.  We’re not here to have a moment where a lasting friendship is forged.  We’re not here to do the thing where you pretend to be interested and I pretend to believe you.  We’re here to catch a killer so let’s try to stay focused.  Can you get over yourself long enough to do that?”

Burke felt he had been metaphorically castrated in front of his partner and the tightening of his lips and reddening of his face reflected his indignation.  He liked women but he had already decided that he didn’t like this one and had it not been for the request of Captain Meade to include her in the case, he was sure he would have upended the desk in a fit of rage, accompanied with a loud “go fuck yourself.”

While Burke texted Powell the words “her highness, the uppity, fucking bitch,” Slaughter opened a file and began reading about the first victim.

He was a Danish man in his late forties, named Larz Østergaard.  His business required him to make frequent trips to the states.  He was a computer program salesman who specialized in helping newspapers setup online websites.

He had been found in his hotel room, laying across the bottom of the bed in a pool of coagulated blood.  His left ear had been punctured with an ice pick.  Nine hundred dollars in cash was on the dresser and he was still wearing his gold necklace.

His friends and business associates in the states seemed to think highly of him and had no knowledge of any threats or enemies.  Whoever killed him, was apparently let into the room as there was no evidence of a break-in. The front desk was able to pin-point when he last used the key card but could offer no information as to when the door was opened from inside the room.

Slaughter immediately noticed the lack of crime scene photos and asked why they weren’t in the file.  Detective Powell took the file and said “I don’t know.  They should be in there.  Maybe they got misplaced.”

“If that’s the case, that’s pretty sloppy work, detective,” Slaughter said. Now, she had stirred Powell’s ire and before he exploded, Captain Meade opened the door and asked how things were going.  Burke and Powell were like two little boys who had almost been caught with their hands in the cookie jar.  They snapped to attention and in unison, said “fine.”

Detective Slaughter said “actually Captain Meade, I think we need to take the night to re-group and then re-visit this tomorrow with a new approach and different attitudes.  If we’re going to continue to have to whip them out and measure them every day, you’re going to continue to have a couple of sore losers on your hands.”


To be continued___________________

The Ice Pick Killer – Chapter Two

Captain Meade was a rotund, balding man whose unusually high-pitched voice would catch you completely off guard the first time you met him.  His eyes were always squinting as if looking straight into the sun and his spectacles rested on ears, that with a gust of wind could possibly allow him to take flight should he get a running start.

He perspired heavily, always dabbing his forehead with a handkerchief and when he put his hands on his hips, his crisp white shirt betrayed the armpit stains that seemed to have taken up permanent residence.

He was a cigarette smoker who took frequent breaks, accompanied by his Bible.  Nobody really understood the reasoning, as he was known to allow certain bending of the rules by his officers, if it meant getting a conviction.

He was also rumored to accept an occasional bribe and turn a blind eye to others who did the same.  That being said, it was a well known fact that he protected his officers and would without hesitation, go to the mat to defend them with the ferocity of a raging bull.

His go-to team was Burke and Powell.  He had groomed them from their days at the academy and trained them to be successful detectives, although the present rash of unsolved killings had left them, as well as him, stumped.

Burke was a tall, 6′ 4″ slender, middle-aged man with a full head of black hair and a well-groomed walrus mustache.  He was classically handsome and looked like a throwback to a 1930s’ gangster, who might have been one of Al Capones’ soldiers.  He had dark brown eyes and a cleft chin, which women apparently found sexy and he was often solicited by “women of the night.”

Powell was in his early thirties.  His height of 5′ 6″ could be described as abbreviated and he sometimes seemed to suffer from short man syndrome. He bristled when somebody would sarcastically call him “son” and used his vast collection of well-honed put-down phrases like weapons.  His sandy blonde hair, blue eyes and youthful face, certainly made him pretty but nobody was ever going to intentionally use that particular adjective within his earshot.

It irritated him that Captain Meade called him “kiddo.”  Burke found it humorous and adopted it just to needle him but never used it publicly. Powell would call him “grandpa” in retaliation.

The briefing began on the anticipated arrival of detective Slaughter, who Captain Meade said “would lend fresh eyes to the case.”  Defensively, Burke said “we don’t need some fucking outsider coming here, lending fresh eyes.”

Even with his sometimes questionable tactics, Captain Meade disliked curse words and discouraged his officers from using them in his presence.

With a scowl and a reprimand for swearing, he said “I know this is going to be an adjustment but I expect you to extend every courtesy and give detective Slaughter your full co-operation.  We’re not talking about an amateur here.  Word has it that detective Slaughter has never left a case unsolved.”

Powell sarcastically asked when they might expect to be graced with the presence of “the divine detective Slaughter.” Captain Meade said “within the hour, so I suggest you get all the case files together.  You can use one of the interrogation rooms to get acquainted…and guys…it’s time for something to shake loose.”

Burke and Powell gathered up all the files and headed to the room.  “This is such fucking bullshit,” said Burke.  “Hey.  Just because some dick-faced detective is being forced down our throat, doesn’t mean we have to like it,” said Powell.  “We just have to do our jobs.”

A half hour later, the door opened and Captain Meade said “detective Burke, detective Powell, meet detective Murphy Slaughter.”

Burke and Powell, mouths agape, sat motionless as if they had been injected with a paralytic drug.

Detective Slaughter said “I gather from your reaction that you have never seen anyone from San Francisco?”


To be continued______________

The Ice Pick Killer – Chapter One

A regularly scheduled wellness check by the local police department resulted in the discovery of an elderly man slumped over his desk.  He had the familiar tell-tale trickle of blood trailing from his left ear, which was becoming a routine find by the local police department.

Detectives Burke and Powell were immediately called to the scene.

The man was identified as Marvin Jackson.  Robbery was not a motive as his wallet was in his back pocket and a solid gold watch was still on his arm. There were no signs of a struggle and nothing seemed visibly out of place. No forced entry was detectable so it was assumed as with all the other cases, the perpetrator was known to the victim.

Mr. Jackson was a well-respected businessman who had retired just two months earlier.  He was a widower having recently lost his wife of almost 50 years to cancer and had a reputation for being as honest as the day was long.

Mr. Jackson may have had an exemplary reputation in theory but in Burke and Powell’s experience, everybody had at least one skeleton in their closet. As they questioned neighbors, friends and co-workers, to their surprise not one person had a bad word to say about him.  He treated everybody with respect, didn’t cheat on his taxes, didn’t cheat other people and never cheated on his wife.  If he had anything to hide, it was well hidden.

Mr. Jackson was the ninth victim in a string of recent murders by the person who had become known as “the ice pick killer.”  As with the other victims, an ice pick had been driven all the way through his left ear and then removed, leaving no evidence other than a penetrating wound through his brain.

The recent murders had shaken up the small Southern town.  Things like that just didn’t happen there.  People left their doors unlocked when they went grocery shopping and if their children left their bicycles outside overnight, they would still be there the next morning.

Recently, things had changed and people were becoming more and more afraid, especially since nobody had been arrested and there weren’t any suspects.  Hyper-vigilance was being urged, yet the murders continued, leaving law enforcement thinking they weren’t looking for a monster in the classic sense of the word.

Burke and Powell had nothing.  No clues.  No evidence.  No ice pick, which was clearly the murder weapon for this and the other eight murders.  They were like pawns stuck on a chess board with the killer mocking them while driving a verbal ice pick into their ear, whispering “checkmate.”

A month later, while sitting at their desks staring at stale information that had been read over and over and over, Josh Dunn stopped by.  He was a detective who had been on loan from another precinct, working the vandalism of several warehouses.  He said his obligatory “see you guys later.  It was nice to have met you” and then leaned over and quietly asked “have you heard?”

“Heard what?” asked Powell.  “They’re calling in the big dog,” Dunn said.  “Who’s calling in the big dog?” asked Powell.  Dunn glanced toward the office and said “Captain Meade.”

“And who might this big dog be?” asked a perplexed Burke.

“Murphy Slaughter,” said Dunn.  Burke leaned back in his chair and said “who the fuck is Murphy Slaughter?”  Dunn said “all I know is what I’ve heard.”

“And that is?” asked Powell.  Dunn said “from San Francisco, I think. Relentless, tough as nails, no bullshit, take no prisoners, juggernaut, pit bull with balls the size of Texas.”

“That big, huh?” mocked Burke.  As he plopped his feet up on his desk, he winked and said “as long as he understands that his big city ways aren’t going to cut it around here, we might let him tag along.”


To be continued________________


The Feisty Four – Chapter Nine

Just as Tut-Tut arrived, Julie had to make her apologies.  She needed to get home to make dinner for her three.  After a few minutes Amy made her exit, citing a looming deadline for the first draft of her next novel.

The three girls kept up with each other and would have other meetings so none of them were disappointed.  Julie and Amy had bared their souls to Irene but they left not knowing any more about her than they had known in high school.  She had always been a very private person and they had long ago accepted that fact.

The exception was Tut-Tut.  Her enigmatic connection with Irene, albeit from a distance, had never diminished.  They knew each others’ secrets and their loyalty to each other had never wavered.

Things with Tut-Tut and Jeffrey hadn’t worked out.  He had gone to college in another state and their relationship suffered.  It ultimately ended due to the distance but they had remained friends.  Sometimes, they would get together for drinks, if they were both in town at the same time.

One day on a whim, Tut-Tut had entered a modeling contest and was noticed by a fashion photographer.  After a few meetings, a successful and highly lucrative career was launched.

She had graced the covers of several magazines and was known almost globally as the “peekaboo girl.”  Due to the scar under her eye, her face was always turned slightly to the right which lent an air of mystery to her photographs.  Veronica Lake had the “peekaboo hairstyle” and Tut-Tut had the “peekaboo pose.”

She had never married.  She said “traveling takes a toll on you” and then smiled and said “but I’ve had a good time.”  She had seen the world but not in the way she had dreamed of seeing it as a little girl.  She saw it sitting in a seat rather than walking up and down the aisle, offering assistance and comfort to the souls on board.

She had kept her looks and figure through the years and was what many would describe as a “handsome woman.”

Irene had taken over the family business and therefore, inherited the family wealth.  The business took her all over the country and sometimes, “across the pond” as she liked to say.  Sometimes, she was given only a moments’ notice while other times, careful planning was in order.  Only Tut-Tut knew what the family business was.

After a few minutes, Tut-Tut asked Irene if she was “still traveling.”  Irene told her that she was but not as much.  “We’re getting older and like you said, traveling takes a toll on you.”

“So you have retired?”  Tut-Tut asked.  “Basically, yes but I take an occasional job now and then if it’s offered,” said Irene, “just to keep from being bored.”

Looking down, Tut-Tut put her hand on Irenes’ arm.  Several seconds later, she said “I want you to know that I appreciate what you did for me.”

Irene put her hand on Tut-Tuts’ hand and smiled.

Tut-Tut asked Irene if she had ever been unsuccessful in the business. Irene didn’t miss a beat when she smiled and said “never.”

“Do you miss that life?” questioned Tut-Tut.  “I do.  I really do,” Irene said. She then leaned forward and grinned like the Cheshire cat when she said “I mean…I haven’t killed anybody in almost three years!”



The Feisty Four – Chapter Eight

More than twenty years later, the feisty four would once again come together.

The first girl through the door was Julie and she immediately spotted Irene. Irene wasn’t sure if she would have recognized her if she had passed her on the street.  She looked matronly and haggard but she certainly recognized the squeal Julie let out.

Her once long brown hair was now short and grey.  Although she obviously dyed it, she had the famous raccoon look.  She immediately apologized for her roots, citing little to no time for self-pampering.  Time, childbirth and recently quitting her lifelong habit of smoking had taken a toll on her.  She was almost as wide as she was high but her jovial nature hadn’t faded in any way.

She had never left the sleepy little town and there was no mansion on a hill. She hadn’t married a rich man but she had married a man who she said treated her like a queen.  She proudly described him as the kindest, most gentle man who ever lived.  He stood six feet, six and a half inches tall and worked as a lineman for the telephone company.

They had three boys.  She called them her “three” but everybody else called them her “trees” due to their height, which they inherited from their father. They inherited her practical joke inclination and kept her on her toes with their pranks, at which they were as masterful as she had been all those years ago.

She laughed as she told Irene a few stories.  “Once, while I was taking a relaxing bath, my three boiled all the eggs and then replaced them in the carton.  The next morning, they asked for scrambled eggs.  Their snickering should have been a tip-off but I fell for it.”

“I got them back though,” she said.  “They were whining about not being able to do something and I said ‘I didn’t let your older sister get away with this kind of behavior and I’m not going to let you get away with it either’.”

“They looked at each other with confused little faces and finally said ‘but we don’t have an older sister’.  I looked them dead in the eyes and said ‘not any more’.”

She laughed and said “I tell you.  My three are making their mother old before her time,” and didn’t seem to mind admitted that she spent most of her days in her bathrobe and slippers.  Irene wondered if she realized that she had become one of the women she used to make fun of when they were in school.

Irene glanced toward the door and saw Amy walk in.

Her hairstyle hadn’t changed but the color was now salt and pepper.  Time had touched her relatively lightly both physically and mentally.  She started relaying verbatim, the conversations they used to have and brought thunderous laughter as she recalled them to Julie and Irene.

Amy hadn’t quite decided what she wanted to do when she graduated, so she enrolled in the local college, hoping something would give her some inspiration.  That inspiration came in the form of a young man named Tony Phillips.  After a whirlwind three month courtship, they were married but a happy life was not in the cards.

The Vietnam War was raging and Tonys’ number was called.  Three days into his tour, his helicopter was shot down and he was killed.  Amy had never taken off her wedding ring and the grief was still evident in her eyes.

After several years of mourning, Amy got up one day and started writing. Having never lost her flair, she began creating stories which eventually segued into best-selling novels.

Her genre was writing about unsolved mysterious deaths.  Some were based on real events and others were pure fabrication from her, as she called it “dark and twisty” mind.  She revived her long ago abandoned talent for art and illustrated all the covers of her books.

Her most successful book, titled “In All Fairness, was based on fact and hit close to home for Tut-Tut.  Almost three years earlier, the boy from out of town who killed her mother, disappeared without a trace.  No clues were ever found.

As Amy did research and delved into his life, she discovered that it was fraught with petty theft, drugs and other drunk driving accidents.  His wealthy father and their attorney had managed to keep him out of jail.  He had never had to pay any significant penalty for his crimes, until the swift hand of justice apparently delivered a fatal blow.

Tut-Tut had never stopped wanting retribution but now finally embraced what she had heard almost her entire life since the accident.  “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”


To be continued________________


The Feisty Four – Chapter Seven

As the chauffeur drove away, the girls headed toward the teachers’ house. Reeny asked them how they had gotten there and Julie said her mother had reluctantly dropped them off down the street “to get some information for a project” from another student and would return in two hours.

As they walked, it occurred to them that they didn’t really know how to roll a house.  They had only heard other people talking about it.  The one thing they did know was that they needed to work under the cover of darkness and it was fast approaching.

Tut-Tut looked at Reeny and said “maybe you can hold one end and I’ll walk around the house and we’ll wrap it.” That didn’t make any sense to Amy and seemed a certain way to be seen, so she came up with the idea of throwing the rolls over the house.  That didn’t work because they didn’t loosen the first square and half of their supply ended up laying on top of the roof.

They only had two hours before the chauffeur and Julies’ mother returned and they had already wasted half that time.  Suddenly, the front porch light came on and in a panic, the girls threw down the rest of their stash and started running down the street.

Hiding behind some bushes, they weren’t sure if their hysterical laughter was due to the comedy of errors or because they were terrified at having almost been caught.  What if, God forbid, they had been caught?  It was that night they decided that their criminal careers were over.

Panic set in as they wondered what would have happened.  They envisioned the dreaded grounding from their parents which would be a given, but would that happen before or after they went to prison?  They all agreed that they would not look very smart in black and white stripes and Reeny, being the fashion icon she was, would never be able to tolerate it if the stripes were askew.

They had seen movies where prisoners were chained together, had to break rocks all day long and were fed bread and water.  Not only that, but they would be known as jailbirds.  Jailbirds!  How old would they be when they finally got out, if they ever did?

Tut-Tut said “we’ll be all dried up, like a bunch of prunes!”  Julie quickly kicked her sense of humor into gear and said “think about it.”

She waved her hand as if it held a magic wand and said “in prison, Tut-Tut, you will be Homecoming Prune.  I’ll be the cutest raisin and Amy?  You will be most likely to wrinkle!”

That was enough to cut through their anxiety and the girls calmed down, just in time for Julies’ mother to show up and say “did you get what you needed?”

The next morning when they went to school, they wondered if old sourpuss had seen them.  Had she noticed the toilet paper on her roof and in her yard?  If she hadn’t seen them, had she told the principal anyway, who through some divine power would know it had been them?  By lunchtime, they breathed a collective sigh of relief when nothing was mentioned.

Feeling triumphant for having evaded the long arm of the law, the girls were talking about their plans for the summer.  A quiet, pensive moment came over them when they realized that the next year was going to be their last year of school.  The feisty four would come to a crossroad and each one of them would be choosing a different path to follow.


To be continued______________________



The Feisty Four – Chapter Six

Reeny, Julie, Tut-Tut and Amy were now a force to be reckoned with. Combined, they had money, loyalty, beauty and brains.

The girls had learned a lesson from almost getting caught smoking in the bathroom and one day, a casual comment from Reeny set off a chain of events that would ultimately change school policy.

The teachers had their break room where they all sat around and smoked unencumbered, so why shouldn’t the students have a space of their own? Reeny wasn’t a smoker but she was ahead of her time when it came to equality, be it gender equality or basic equal human rights.

It was a brilliant suggestion and one that was worthy of pursuit.  The girls decided to form a task force.  They started collecting signatures from all the students and it didn’t matter if they were smokers.  Their idea was that it was their right and they should be provided with a special smoking section at the school.  What was fair for the teachers should be fair for them.

After the signatures were collected, Amy was charged with writing the proposal to be presented to the principal.  She walked into the office and said “this is a petition and the entire student body has signed it.”  As she handed it to him, he looked at her and said “oh, Lord.  Well, let’s have a look.”

The principal was a strict enforcer of the rules and was not one to suffer fools lightly but by his own admission, he admired “gumption,” especially from a girl.  He was the proud father of a grown daughter who as he put it, had “determined her way into a mans’ world.”

The next Tuesday, when the weekly assembly was held in the auditorium, the principal announced that there would now be two smoking sections at the school.  One would be designated for the boys and one for the girls.

That lone gesture was what prompted the students to start calling the girls “the feisty four.”

Although the end of the school year was several months away, it was time to start working on the annual.  Reeny was of course, drafted to take part this year.

Being the practical joker, Julie had the idea to rearrange the pictures.  Some sophomores were elevated to senior status and some teachers were demoted to groundskeeper.  The principal was going to be surprised when he found himself listed as the drum major, wearing a suit and tie.  It would be explained in the caption under the picture that he had misplaced his uniform somewhere in the gymnasium on picture day.

If the girls were worried about any repercussions, their fears were put to rest when the annual came out.  Everybody appreciated the humorous touch, even the teachers.  Trying to find their pictures became a visual scavenger hunt.

It had been a ballsy move and put a punctuation mark at the end of the “feisty four.”  It also became a tradition from that year forward.  It would be another legacy left by those four girls.

Acquiring smoking sections and altering annuals were not the only things the feisty four did.  Before Christmas, they started soliciting local businesses to donate items and food.  They organized a talent show at the school and charged admission, even from the teachers and the proceeds were donated to charity.

They knew there were students at the school who would not have a good holiday because there just wasn’t enough money and they gave a list of names to the representative from the Salvation Army.

Julie asked local florists for unsold flower arrangements to take to the people at the hospital where she volunteered.  Those people would be alone on Christmas and she thought flowers, even a few days old, might brighten up their day.

They were young humanitarians but they were still capable of mischief. One weekend, they decided to roll the yard of a grumpy teacher they referred to as “old sourpuss.”  She would smack a boys’ hand with a ruler for just looking at her sideways and would send girls to the office if they were caught whispering to each other.

They worked out their plans and agreed to meet in the teachers’ neighborhood.  When Reeny arrived in the Rolls Royce with a trunk full of toilet paper, the girls laughed at first but then asked if the chauffeur would tell on them.  Reeny smiled and said “not if he wants to keep his job.”


To be continued_____________________

The Feisty Four – Chapter Five

Amy Adele Allen didn’t have the striking beauty of Tut-Tut nor the cuteness of Julie.  Her look could best be described as exotic.  Her close-cropped raven colored hair and olive skin set her apart from most and her small, dark-rimmed glasses added an air of studiousness which fit her persona perfectly.

She was called “straight A’s” not only for the obvious reason but also because of her brains.  She too had made the Superlative list as, hands down, “most likely to succeed.”  She was an auditory eidetic.  If she heard a story, a phrase, a speech or a definition once, the words became visible text in her mind.  Students and teachers alike were stunned by her perfect total recall.

It was unclear where she got her remarkable memory.  Her father was the vice-president of the local steel company and although clearly intelligent, he would oftentimes come home having forgotten to pick up the gallon of milk her mother had just called and requested as he was leaving the office.

Her mother was a homemaker, who ran the house with the efficiency of a well-oiled machine but would sometimes spend hours looking for the cigarettes she had misplaced or important papers that needed attention.  Amy once suggested that she make notes.  Her mother said she did but then she couldn’t remember where she put the notes.

In school, Amy carried her books with her but never opened one other than for display purposes while in class.  When asked how she was able to give a proper assigned “book report” she smiled and said “I read the first page, the middle page and the last page.”

With her extraordinary gift for writing and smooth verbal skills, her reports not only fooled even the most discerning teachers, they impressed them.

She also had an artistic flair.  She used to draw figures of beautiful women for boys to hang on the inside of their locker doors.  She could whip out a picture with such casual aplomb that it left everybody completely awestruck.  She was the one who was always called on to provide illustrations for any upcoming events and was the go-to person for the layout and design of the schools’ yearly annual.

Her art teacher urged her to go to school to pursue a career at the local newspaper, drawing advertisements or perhaps even being a sketch artist for the police department.  Amy could have placated her but instead balked at the idea and told her that she had absolutely no interest in an art career. It angered the teacher who reprimanded her with “you have a God-given talent and you are wasting it.”

Amy wasn’t yet sure where she wanted life to take her.  She toyed with the idea of doing research and maybe going down in history as the one who found a cure for cancer or maybe she could finally answer the mystery of why people had to sleep.  The need for those little slices of death had always fascinated her.

She only knew that she wanted to leave a mark.


To be continued____________________