From: Sam Harper, Homicide
Subject: Call From Shannon Wallace
My current case was about to crack. I was looking forward to putting this one to rest; thought a few extra hours would just about wrap it up when I got the call. I recognized the phone number on the display and glanced at my watch—7:00 PM. It was Shannon Wallace, a friend of a friend of a friend. Damn it, she was in trouble again. How did I know? Call it instinct or maybe dumb luck—mine. Either way, that torque in the pit of my gut went for a spin. I was willing to bet Shannon was neck deep in trouble and sinking fast. Why else would she waste a perfectly good chunk of change on an out-of-state call?
Our conversation went something like this:
HARPER: All right, Shannon, just settle down. Let’s start from the beginning. You had the incredible bad judgment to fall for your boss, he fired you and hours later he’s dead. You have to admit, it doesn’t look good. How did you ever get involved with a guy like Rick Fine?
WALLACE: Oh you know the type, Sam.
HARPER: Come on, it’s late. Enlighten me.
WALLACE: I was young, impressionable, and naïve. Who ever thinks that they can get out of a relationship with their boss, for crying out loud? Not without losing your job, right? So… that’s me in a nutshell. I needed a job, it came with strings.
HARPER: Right, some strings. So what kind of dealings was Rick involved with anyway? I mean, were there any suspicious characters hanging around before he was murdered? And don’t give me any snappy answers. I want details.
WALLACE: I’ve been thinking about this and I remember a situation that happened not long ago. Someone was calling Rick's house and hanging up. I always put it off as his mean brother. His brother is a real character, Sam. His own dad fired him from the family business for his bad deals and even worse attitude. He could have done it.
HARPER: You’re going to need more than a ‘could have done it’ excuse to convince the authorities. What do you have on the guy?
WALLACE: Hey, I heard that going on your gut instinct is good enough for cops, why not me? I definitely have a gut about Charles Fine. He’s just the type to do it. I mean he blamed Rick for getting fired. That’s a motive in my opinion.
HARPER: What about detective Ramirez? You said you knew him—I know you’re on shaky ground with him, but can he be trusted?
WALLACE: Shaky ground? You could say that. I don’t know about the trust thing, we, uh, had a friendship at one time. He can be trusted to do the right thing for himself, maybe, but I’m not so sure about doing the right thing for me.
HARPER: If he’s clean, he won’t let his personal feelings interfere with the job. You know, you really should be talking to Ramirez, not me. Just tell him the truth.
WALLACE: But, geez, Sam. The DVDs are the thing. I can't let him find out about those damn disks. He’s always held a grudge. I just don’t believe he won’t use them against me if he gets the chance.
HARPER: DVDs? I’m afraid to ask … what exactly is on the DVDs?
WALLACE: Oh, um, can I take the fifth? Oh okay, look, we took a video camera and we turned it on at various times including… you know. THOSE times. Lots of them. And don’t tell me about Paris Hilton or anyone else making sex tapes. Dwayne said that too, and I just don’t want to hear it. That’s why I broke into Rick’s apartment. I don’t want anyone to see me wiggle my jiggle on television! Oh Lord.
HARPER: Damn it, I can’t believe ... anyone ever mention that breaking and entering, especially into a crime scene, is against the law? All right, I’m sorry, stop crying. Look I’m sure forensics combed through the place. If you didn’t kill the guy ... you didn’t did you?
WALLACE: I didn’t do it, Sam! I swear I didn’t. I can only hope that I didn’t leave anything behind for forensics to connect me to Rick’s murder, including my disks.
HARPER: If you're innocent, you'll be in the clear. None of the evidence will point to you. But the DVDs are another matter. They're incriminating. They give you motive and you certainly had opportunity. Who else knew about them?
WALLACE: Unless Rick had some kinky friends, well, you know what I mean. I can’t believe he would just leave them laying around for Mr. Anybody to find. What the heck? I mean, he promised me. He PROMISED me, no one would ever know. That’s what I get for believing a man.
HARPER: Don’t beat yourself up. Everyone’s made a mistake or two in their lifetime. You mentioned Rick’s personal phone book was missing. How do you know he didn’t leave it someplace--that it’s not missing?
WALLACE: Well, this is the kicker. I know the freak took the phone book because it was missing. Ask me why, I can’t tell you.
HARPER: All right so you have a feeling about it. I go with my gut too, but you know Ramirez is going to want answers.
WALLACE: Answers? He’ll want my blood. He’s got reasons to get me back. I stole his personal journal in college and I published it in the freaking newspaper. There, do you understand now? He’s out for revenge. I’m surprised he hasn’t been the one calling to threaten me.
HARPER: If Ramirez was into revenge, why wait until now? It doesn’t add up. You really think the killer’s the one who’s been calling you?
WALLACE: Whoever killed Rick took that phone book. I know it has to be him.
HARPER: Why single you out of all the names in Rick’s phone log?
WALLACE: Why? Well, that’s the million dollar question.
HARPER: So tell me about them--the phone calls you’ve been getting.
WALLACE: He calls me at all these weird times. I think he watches me and knows that I am going to be asleep or in the shower. Then, he blows up my cell, breathing heavily into the phone, threatening to come after me.
HARPER: Did you recognize the voice?
WALLACE: No. He masks his voice. I swear it could be Charlie. What if he stole that phone book and now he’s calling up all of Rick’s girlfriends? He’s a big enough creep to do it.
HARPER: What’s Ramirez doing about it? Is he checking your phone records?
WALLACE: I don’t know. I told him about the calls, but he sort of took the attitude that I am imagining an old boyfriend has turned into the killer. I mean, what the eff? I’m scared all right! I have a plan to draw this freak out but Dwayne thinks I’m nuts.
HARPER: Sounds to me like you should listen to Dwayne. After all he’s your closest friend. Right?
WALLACE: Sam, I’m damn scared.
HARPER: I know.
WALLACE: If I don’t do something to get this guy to show himself, Rick’s killer will go free and with my DVDs. And believe me free is bad in this case.
HARPER: That's Ramirez's job, not yours.
For a moment, neither of us spoke. What was she thinking? I knew calling me was probably Shannon’s last ditch effort for justice, but what the hell was I supposed to do from over 900 miles away? Still, the plea in her voice rang as true as the bells from St. Paul’s.
HARPER: Look, I’ll probably regret saying this ... actually I know I will, but let me make a few calls. See what I can find out. In the meantime, keep your nose clean and stay under the radar. Understand?
WALLACE: Yes sir, way under the radar. I’m already hiding over at Dwayne’s from everyone including my aunts. No one will think to look for me at his place. You’ve got my number. Please see what you can do to help me. I owe you one, man.
I had her number all right and that ugly place between a rock and a hard spot just pinched a nerve and shot a pain straight up to my neck. I didn’t like the sound of this—any of it. I sure as hell didn’t need or want to get involved. Shannon is as wild and unpredictable as a porcupine in heat, but … she's a friend of a friend of a friend and then there’s that promise I made to serve and protect. I drew in a deeper than usual gulp of air and broke the silence.
HARPER: I’ll be in touch.
About the author:
Kim Smith was born in Memphis Tennessee, the youngest of four children. After a short stint in a Northwest Mississippi junior college, during the era of John Grisham’s rise as a lawyer, she gave up educational pursuits to marry and begin family life.She has worked in many fields in her life, from fast food waitress to telephone sales. “I always got the seniors on the phone who were lonely and wanted someone to talk to. My boss couldn’t understand why in the world I spent so much time talking to them and not enough time selling. That was when I realized I love people and care deeply about their lives.”Writing was a dream, hidden but not forgotten, and soon Kim began to talk again of trying her hand at it. She played with words, and wrote several poems, one of which was picked up for an anthologyOne day in the early nineties her husband came home with a desktop computer and sat her in front of it. “Now you have no more excuses,” he said, and she realized the truth in his words. Procrastination, now no longer an option, she took off on the pursuit of penning her first book. Though that book, a young adult fantasy, was lost due to unforeseen circumstances, she kept going, writing a historical romance, and another YA.When she decided to try out her hand at mystery writing, she discovered her true love and niche in the writing journey. She has since had four short stories, and her first mystery novel accepted for publication.Kim is a member of Sisters in Crime, and is a Coffeetime Romance and More author member. She still lives in the Mid South region of the United States and is currently working on her second book in the Shannon Wallace mysteryseries.