SYNOPSIS: Jason Franco is an aspiring novelist stuck in a dead-end job working for a newspaper in a small town where nothing exciting happens until someone rapes and murders a young woman only eighteen years old. All evidence points to the woman's boyfriend who confesses to the crime. Jason is assigned to write a follow-up story for the paper and soon suspects that the local police are covering up for one of their own. Jason enlists the help from a high school classmate who works at the state crime and the two soon fall in love. Jason and his girlfriend, Tina, follow the leads, and Jason finds himself a target for the rapist turned murderer. An attempt on Jason's life puts him in the hospital as the alleged rapist commits suicide. An unexpected turn of events put Jason back in the cross hairs of a different killer.
Press Conference in Denver, Colorado
Thursday, August 6, 2015
The next day, two hours prior to the press conference Jason had a visitor. Naomi Marini stuck her head in the door.
“Knock, knock. Mind if I come in?”
Jason looked up. “Sure, come on in. I’ve to go to a press conference in a couple of hours.” A laptop sat on the table. Jason had been talking to Zac on Skype. He left it on, intending to continue when Naomi left. He put it on mute. He pushed the over-the-bed table off to one side.
Zac had been recording his conversation with Jason as a continuation of his interview. He could hear Naomi and Jason talking so he continued to record.
Naomi glanced around and then came into the room, quietly closing the door behind her. “I know. That’s why I’m early. I wanted to talk to you before the conference.”
“I didn't recognize you. I never saw you in civilian clothes.”
“I’m on admin leave. It’s standard protocol when an officer shoots a suspect.”
I guess I owe you and Officer Boyd a thank you for saving my life.’
Naomi waved her hand. “You're the real hero. Mr. Tyler pulled you from the burning car at the accident site.”
“Naomi, I saw the video. I know what you did. That took guts.”
Naomi pulled up a chair and sat down. “The TPD, owes you an apology. The actions of Chief Cruse don’t represent the rest of the department. I’m sincerely sorry.”
“I know that it’s not your fault. He was a psychopath.”
“Thanks to you and the Star-Gazette he’s no longer a danger.”
“On the video, you shot and killed him. It was a mercy killing. He was burning to death.”
“That’s not why I shot him. I was trying to stop him from setting your car on fire while you were still inside. I thought if I stood in front of him, he would stop. I realize now that he couldn’t see or hear me. He was moving downhill because he knew your car was in front of him. Even while dying, he wanted to kill you. I shot him to stop him.”
“Thank God that you did. I owe you my life.”
“That’s what I’m dealing with now. Jeri was very close to me. He was a mentor to me and most of the department. I thought he was also a friend. All these years we never realized.”
“You couldn’t have known.”
“Over the last couple days, all of us are thinking if there were any clues that he was a psychopath. There may have been subtle signs, but we all deferred to his experience and judgment.”
“Has it been determined if he was a serial rapist?” asked Jason.
“Yeah. We have his confession to killing Angelina on your video. His DNA matched the DNA from three of the rape cases. We also found all the panties he took as trophies in his house. He raped all the women whose names are on Register Cliff.”
“Good. I thought so. I just didn’t suspect him. I thought it was officer Boyd.”
“I know you uncovered my relationship to Art; that he’s my half-brother.”
“That was by accident.”
Naomi smiled. “I know. You also learned what happened in Montana. How I shot and killed Art’s parents.”
Naomi continued. “I don’t know if you realized that his mother was also my mother.”
“Yes, I know that too. That explains why you became Art’s guardian.”
“For various reasons, my relationship to her was kept secret. I want to talk to you about Art. He was abused sexually, physically and emotionally by his parents. Every way that you can abuse a child, they did and they videotaped it. Both parents raped him.”
Jason was stunned. “I didn’t know the details.”
“Art has been under the care of a psychiatrist in Cheyenne ever since. I go with him usually. At first it was once a week. Now it’s once every three months. Art was addicted to sex. His parents never taught him how to treat a woman. He has made great progress. He made mistakes in the past, but he’s doing much better now. The events of the last few weeks have been a setback for him. He’s afraid that people will find out about his past and start looking at his old videos. They’re still out there.”
“So you would like me to keep your secret?” asked Jason.
“Yes. Someday Art will come out about his past, but he isn’t ready yet. I don't know if he'll ever be ready.”
Jason frowned. “But several people know now.”
“I'll talked to Mr. Tyler, Mary and Zac when I get back. I know we can’t keep this a secret forever, but right now Art isn’t ready. The very idea that he was a suspect has sent him into a state of depression.”
Jason smiled. “I’ve no problem with keeping your secret. It had nothing to do with the Angelina murder.”
Naomi bent over to hug Jason and as she did, she injected his neck with a hypodermic needle.
Jason tried to sit up in his bed but with his leg in traction, he couldn't sit up. “WTF!” What are you doing? What was that?”
“Just Roipnol, you know, the date rape drug called 'roofie'.”
“You killed Angelina! You and Cruse.”
“Yeah. Jeri and I have been a team for several years. He beats them up and I rape them. Jeri just liked to watch me rape them. We were a great team. Life was good until you came along and spoiled it.”
“You won't get away with it.”
Naomi laughed. “We’ll see. Jeri and I already planned our escape. We wanted to leave a week ago but Jeri got it into his he to kill you. I’ll just go it alone now.”
Jason started slipping in and out of consciousness. Naomi found his oxygen tube, put it on him, and turned on the oxygen. ”You’d be surprised how many people burn to death in hospitals. Pure oxygen and cigarettes don’t mix.” She pulled a packet of cigarettes out of her purse and placed several on Jason and on the bed. Naomi squirted some lighter fluid she retrieved from her purse on some tissues and placed them on Jason's face. Once she was satisfied, she pulled out a box of matches and fished out one match.
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