The Elect 20, part 2 of 4: Eating the Fruit

It was dark by the time Lisa and Ashish arrived at the house.  There were others working on a search warrant, but nothing was forthcoming, yet.  Lisa paced in front of the gate and tried her best to be patient, but her instincts had her insides churning.

“Women who are going bald get wigs,” she said.  “And women who wear glasses can get colored contacts.”  She was about to say something more when she heard a faint cry for help.  It came from the other side of the house, from the back yard.a trenton police 9

Ashish heard something but thought Lisa mumbled something.  He began to speak in response, but she shushed him.  The cry came again, and Lisa leapt the fence.  For all her teasing with Emily, Lisa was in fact a mother who knew the cry of a child when she heard it.  Ashish would follow, but even if he had been young and in perfect shape he would not have been able to keep up.

Lisa rounded the house and found there were several poles set back among the trees where they would be invisible from the street as well as invisible to neighbors with prying eyes.  Two of the poles had figures in the dark tied to them.  They were small figures, like children, and tied above a platform that kept them from being dog meat.

ab doberman 5Lisa spun around at the sound of a growl.  How could she have forgotten?  She whipped out her gun, but one of the dogs leapt and clamped down on her arm.  It bit right to the bone and the gun fell to the ground.  Lisa screamed, but kept her head.  As the second dog leapt at her throat, she knocked it away with a strong punch to the head.  Then she pulled out a knife and rammed it deep into the neck of the one who had her arm pinned.  The jaw loosened as the dog howled and whimpered, but it did not let go.

The second dog was on her again, but Lisa pulled out her knife and slashed at the dog and it backed up to look for a better position.  Lisa stabbed the first one again, but this time it clamped down harder.  She was in tears from the pain, but managed to lift her arm which raised the dog on its hind legs.  Then she gutted it, and at last it let go as the second dog bit her thigh.ab doberman 1

A gun went off, and the dog, which only cut her thigh, let go to snap at its own rear.  Lisa took advantage by stabbing the beast in the ear.  She drove her knife right through the skull, where it snapped off in the dog’s head, and the dog collapsed.

Ashish came running up and had his handkerchief out to wrap her arm.  Lisa limped, but could walk.  She handed Ashish her second knife so he could set the children free while she picked up her gun and limped to the house.  The lights had all come on, and the woman Dot Guinness, alias Elena Montrose came out the back door dressed only in a nightgown and robe.

“You there,” she yelled and pointed at Ashish.  “You leave my fertilizer alone.”
“Back inside,” Lisa pointed her gun at the woman, though the woman was weaponless.  “You need to answer some questions.”  Lisa pulled Ashish’s wrap around her arm tight to stop the bleeding from several holes.  To be honest, she wanted to faint from the pain, but her determination overruled that consideration.

The woman did not resist, and on recognizing the detective, she gladly invited her in.  She wanted ac montrose 1to show off her things.  She was very proud of all she had accomplished.  The only thing Lisa could think was how unsterile Ashish’s handkerchief was.  Then she almost could not go inside because of the smell.

Dot Guinness had a living room full of machinery including a meat grinder and a wood chipper which she said was wonderful on bones.  “Of course, the best bones go to my boys.  Speaking of which, where are my boys?”

“Outside,” Lisa said in a very flat voice.

“Oh, that’s good.  They will guard the fertilizer.”

“So tell me, do they die of exposure or starvation?”

“What?  Oh now don’t be silly.  Fertilizer doesn’t die.”

“Uh-huh.”

“You know, the last thing my husband said was the Lord will provide.  And you know, Ed was right.”

Lisa felt the red flag.  It was palpable  “So what happened to your husband?”

“Oh, I killed him and ate him.  I mean, who wouldn’t?  He was delicious.  But it turns out he was ac mont manright about a lot of things.  Who knew?  When he bought that big freezer in the garage, I said he was crazy.  He said he was going to fill it with venison, but I knew he wasn’t a hunter.  But you know, it has come in real handy over the years, yes it has.”

Millsaps came in the front door at that point with the search warrant.  She directed two officers to the freezer in the garage, and Dot yelled after the men.  “You’ll find everything in order there.”  She turned again to Lisa.  “I have everything dated and marked M and F.”

“M and F?”  Millsaps asked.

“Male and female,” Lisa guessed.

“That’s right.  The females make good steaks.  Goodness, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  But the males are sometimes tough.  They need to be baked and sauced like a good barbeque.  I have found some excellent recipes over the years.  I would be happy to share them with you.”

“No thank you,” Lisa said as she limped to the door and went back outside.  The loss of blood was beginning to have its way, but the ambulance pulled up and she was sure she could limp that far, at least.  Ashish met her by the door, having had the good sense not to bring the children through the house.  She leaned on his shoulder.

ac lisa 2“I think I’ll be sick for a month.”

“You are hurt pretty bad,” Ashish nodded.

“This?”  Lisa held up her arm.  “This will heal in a few days and probably not even scar.”  Ashish nodded and helped her to the ambulance.  “Won’t the girls be surprised to see me?” She said, before the ambulance drove her off.

The Elect 19, part 2 of 4: Suspicions

Lisa and Ashish had to show their identification at the front door just to get into the building.  They had to show them again to the receptionist and a third time to the director’s secretary.  The last took an especially long time scrutinizing them before she said, “Since you don’t have an appointment, I’ll have to see if he is available.”  She was gone a long time.

Fortunately, the director was one who believed a friendly chat was better than a search warrant.ac libby 5  He welcomed them into his big office and made the call himself to fetch Ms Montrose.

“She has been here a long time and is one of our best.  I hope there isn’t anything wrong,” the man sought to cover himself.  He was permitting himself to be surprised and shocked in case there was something wrong.  When Elena Montrose came in, however, it was not what Lisa and Ashish expected.

“Have you come about my purse?” the woman said with a warm smile on her wrinkled, old face.  This Elena Montrose had gray hair, was short and frumpy and had colorless stubs for nails.  They looked like the nails of a woman who bit them regularly.

“Your purse?”  Ashish was the one who was able to speak.

“It was stolen, yes.  Let me see.  That was about a year ago now.”

“Your purse was stolen?”  Lisa asked.

“Uh-huh.”  The woman nodded.

ac mont CR2“Might I ask where?”

“Oh, at church.  I sing in the choir every Sunday.”  The woman looked at Lisa, but Lisa shook her head.

“Froggy voice.  You wouldn’t want to hear.”

“It was Sunday, and funny that mine was the only purse stolen.  We used to leave them in the choir room during the service.  Now we lock them up.”

“Wise,” Ashish said.

“Why was it funny?”  Lisa was curious now.

“Well, because I didn’t have anything with me, no money or credit cards.  All the thief got was some old lipstick, some tissues and my driver’s license, oh, and my I. D. for work, but no money.”

“Generally when a thief doesn’t find money or a credit card, they discard the purse some blocks ac mont CR1away in the nearest trash bin or dumpster,” Ashish explained.  “Odds are slim you will ever see that purse again, unless by chance it fell behind a bookcase or something at the church.”

“Oh, no.  The choir, that is, the men tore the room apart, looking.  It was definitely stolen.”

“I see,” Lisa said.  “So where do you go to church?”

###

Lisa fretted while Ashish drove.  “You look worried,” he said.

“I can’t help thinking we should be focused on finding that lab, not tracking down a social worker impersonator.”

“The girls are going to be just fine.”

ac lisa 1“I know that, but still.  There were a bunch around that dorm and they were all wired to do maximum damage.  That seems the real threat.  Imagine if they set one off in the mall or at some concert or sporting event.”

“I don’t know.  I’m wondering if this fake social worker is taking young children out of their homes, what is she doing with them?  She may be selling kids into slavery on the black market.  Maybe she is an ogre and eating them.”

Lisa turned her frown on Ashish, but his eyes were on the road.

“Besides,” he continued.  “I thought we were doing this for Libby.”

“We are,” she said.  “We are.”

Ashish stopped the car in front of a picturesque Tudor home with a white picket fence that looked to go all the way around the property.  There was a lovely garden out front.  Of course, nothing was growing just yet.  It was all still green, but Lisa identified some of the greenery and she could imagine the flowers well enough.  She knew it would be spectacular when she saw the woman out front toiling away in anticipation of spring.ab doberman 3

Lisa walked up to the gate, but waited while Ashish came around the car.  She reached for the latch, but Ashish caught her hand.  Two Dobermans came roaring around the corner of the house, barking and growling, and Lisa took an involuntary step back.  She did not like big dogs.

The woman in the garden looked, stood, squinted and yelled.  “Boys.  Boys, in the house.  Now.”  The Dobermans made a last look, bark and growl before they ran to their mistress, tongues wagging.  She held the door and they went straight in, after which she came to the gate.  As she walked, she pulled a pair of glasses out of a pocket and Lisa thought that this was the last choir member, the choir director and church organist herself, and if this was not the fake Elena Montrose, they had reached a dead end.  She did not remember Latasha’s mother mentioning anything about glasses, but she would see.  When the woman arrived, Lisa sighed.

Dorothy Guiness had red hair, what she had of it.  When the woman pulled off her hat, it was clear she was going bald.  True, she looked to be in her mid-fifties and had the red nails, but the nails were chipped, no doubt from the garden.  Besides, the woman’s eyes were blue, and a very light blue at that.  After they explained who they were, Dot invited them in.  Ashish went first.  Lisa followed with her eyes wide open.

“I remember Elena’s purse.  It was a little blue number.  I felt just awful when it disappeared.”

ac mont 5“All that money,” Lisa said.  She said that at every stop.  The regular choir members could not remember anything about the contents of the purse.

“No, it only had some lipstick and some tissues with Elena’s identification,” Dot said, and with a look at the detectives, she added, “At least that is what Elena told me.  Was there money?”

“Lovely garden,” Lisa changed the subject.  “I bet it is spectacular in bloom.”

Dot’s face filled with pride before she whispered her secret.  “It’s all in the fertilizer.  Only the best and freshest will do.”

“Wonderful.  I should try that on my lawn.  What do you use?”

“Dear, no.  It is my own special blend and a family secret.  But it would work wonders on your yard.  I grow vegetables out back in the summer, and if I am careful to preserve what I grow, I can eat from my garden all year long.”

“I bet your husband likes that idea,” Ashish suggested.

“Ed?”  Dot looked surprised.  “No, he had an accident and died years ago.  To be honest, he was never much for making money, but his insurance helped.  When we were young, I went many a time to the kitchen only to find the cupboard bare, but these days I get along just fine on S. S. I., the church and my garden.  Me and my boys.”

“Yes, well I think we better get going.”  Lisa did not need to be reminded of the boys.  She looked toward the house again and spied a big bone on the porch.  Dot saw, but said good-bye first. ab doberman 4

As Lisa and Ashish walked back toward the front gate, Dot picked up the bone and yelled.  “Boys.  What have I told you about your bones?”  She opened the front door, and the dogs raced out.  Ashish and Lisa had to run.  They got to the gate and got it closed before the Dobermans arrived, but it was close.  They left to the sound of Dot yelling, “Boys.  Boys, get back here.”

“Well, I guess that brings us back to square one.  Anyone could have walked off the street and taken that purse,” Ashish complained as he started the car.

“I’m not so sure,” Lisa said, but she said no more because she was honestly not sure what she was feeling.