Sunday, January 25, 2009

Secret Identity #1.5

The suburb of Tecumseh lies between Topeka, the state capitol and Lawrence. Barney always liked the drive from Centropolis to Topeka on Highway 40. The road winded out of Lawrence through rural countryside that was still untouched by the progression of Centropolis. Barney pulled into the driveway of a stucco house on the outskirts of Tecumseh. A couple police cars were also there and the house's property were cordoned off by police tape. Barney got out of the car and walked up to the door. A policeman met him on the porch.

"Barney Renauld?" he asked.

"Yeah. What do we got here?" Barney asked.

"Well, come inside and take a look. You can probably figure it out yourself," they walked into the house and Barney saw the woman's dead body lying on the floor. She was gutted like a fish and blood had pooled on the floor and was splattered on the walls and furniture. "We have here Rosalyn Carmen, single divorced mother of one. Just moved to town a couple months ago. Neighbors said she was quiet and heard nothing. She never showed up for work at Shawnee Heights Junior High. Principal was worried and called the cops."

"So why was I called?" Barney asked.

"We put the time of death at yesterday at six in the evening. We're a small town police squad and we're going to need some help because we honestly have no leads. You are rumored to be the best detective in the metro area and we need that now," the officer said.

"I'll do my best. You said she was a single divorced mom? Where's the child and husband?"

"Who Killed Rosalyn Carmen? Part 1"
Andy sat at his cubicle with the headset on his head. He had just finished a call and was finishing up closing the call out when another call came in. "Thank you for calling Allied American, my name is Andy. How can I help you?" he answered.

"I want to know why Allied does pay for everything," the person on the other end asked.

Andy sighed lightly. "Can I get your name please?" Andy asked the caller. He glanced at his phone toward the phone number on the screen. It looked familiar to him.

"Debbie Raina. I've called before," Debbie said. Andy typed her name into the computer and a huge list of calls associated with Debbie's name.

"And you want to know why Allied doesn't cover everything?" Andy reiterated. "Well, first of all Allied covers all medically necessary procedure and just about everything requested by a doctor."

"What about mental health services?" Debbie asked.

"For mental health services, Allied pays fifty percent but doesn't pay for any prescriptions related to mental health."

"Why not?"

"It's just not covered."

"Why not?"

Andy had been looking through her call list and saw that she complains about the same thing every day at least five times a day. Andy lightly sighed again and spoke, "It's just too expensive. Allied tries to offer the most coverage at a low price to it's subscribers. And while it's unfortunate, some people do get lost in the shuffle."

"I think it's very unprofessional that you don't cover something that could actually make me better," Debbie said. "Because I have to pay for all of my prescriptions, I am in so much debt. What are you going to do about that?"

Andy pursed his lip together then cracked a smile. "Ms. Raina we're an insurance company and don't really care what you do with your debt, pardon my words," Andy said.

"Why don't you care? I've been a loyal customer for fifteen years," Debbie said.

"Ms. Raina, I'm looking through your call record and you call several times everyday and you complain about the same thing. You even call in using different names and voices. Why waste your time and ours doing that?" Andy asked.

"Because then maybe Allied will change it's policy."

"One person doing that isn't going to change policy. It wastes mainly your time and, I know it sounds cold and mean, but we just don't care about your debt or anyone else's," Andy harshly explained.

"Do you have any suggestions on what I can do about my debt?" Debbie asked.

"Not really. Call the creditors and just talk to them. You may also try one of those debt consolidation companies," Andy suggested.

"Would you seriously consider one of those companies?"

"If my back was against the wall and I had no other option, I would at least look into it," Andy said.

"Jerk," Debbie said and then hung up. Andy quickly made sure he wouldn't get another call and then logged out and laid his headset on his cubicle.

He stood up and stretched. He left his cubicle, surrounded by other cubicles and people doing the exact same thing as him, and went into the break room. He got himself something to drink out of the vending machine and sat down at one of the tables.

"Doing okay?" a girl asked, coming up to Andy.

Andy looked at the girl then turned to look around him to make sure she was talking to him. "Yeah. Just had a rough call, I guess."

"Been there. You on break?" she asked.

"Kind of. I just needed to get away from my cubicle."

"I'm Mariah Routh. I'm new here. I just got out of training," Mariah introduced herself and sat down next to Andy.

"Andy. Andrew Warren, actually. Nice to meet you," he said.

"Nice to meet you, too, Andy," Mariah said. "How long have you worked here?"

"Three years," he smiled.

"Wow. You're a veteran."

"It's okay work. I also work part-time for a private detective so that gets a little more excitement," Andy said, being truthful but also trying to impress the freckled-face caramel-haired girl.

"Wow. Is there anything else that you're hiding?" Mariah asked.

"Oh, you would be so surprised."

Mike Nolan knocked on the apartment door to Andy, Kyle and Jess' apartment. Jess answered and smiled when she saw him. "Mike! How are you doing?" she asked.

"Not so good. I need a place to stay. I moved out of my father's house. I couldn't stand being there anymore," Mike revealed.

"What happened?" Jess asked.

"I found out that my father told all the newspapers not to hire me. He sabotaged all my interviews and scared the editors," Mike said. "I know he's sometimes unscrupulous but to do that to his own son is just all kinds of wrong."

"Hey, Mike," Kyle said, coming out of his studio, wiping his hands off on a towel. "What brings you here?"

"He needs a place to stay for awhile," Jess said.

"Just until I can get my own place which shouldn't be too hard," Mike said.

"I don't care. You may have to check with Andy but he probably won't mind either. Welcome aboard," Kyle said.

"Thanks. Hey, Jess, are you still in touch with that photographer who nearly got you killed?"

"Alexis? Yeah, I have her phone number. Why?"

"I need to talk to her about working with her at her newspaper," Mike sighed.

"But she works for tabloid rag," Kyle said.

"But it's work and it may be my only chance. Besides, journalism is journalism," Mike shrugged.

Mike, Jess and Alexis met each other a couple hours later at a coffee shop. "So how would we do this?" Alexis asked. "Everyone knows you as the mayor's son."

"I would use a fake name and, of course, I would try to keep my face out of the papers. Since I'm staying away from my dad until further notice, hopefully the paparazzi won't be hanging around."

"I'll talk to my editor and see what he says but I say you have a pretty good shot. I'll see you at work, Mike," Alexis shook Mike's hand and she finished her iced coffee and got up to leave the coffee shop. "She you around Jess."

"See you," Jess answered. "Well, good luck Mike. Have you decided what fake name to use for your bylines?"

"Not yet but I'll come up with something."

Barney went through Rosalyn's house--the body had been moved two hours ago--looking for any clue that could help him solve Rosalyn's murder. The police were informing the family as he walked around the house. Rosalyn's little girl was featured prominently in dozens of photos throughout the house. Barney stood in the kitchen and looked around him. He saw on the kitchen counter and spinning utensil holder. It had several knifes, spoons and spatulas and other kitchen knick-knacks hanging on it.

Barney noticed one of the knives were missing. Barney began looking around the kitchen for the missing knife, going through the drawers, cabinets and the dishwasher but not finding it. Barney's cell phone rang and he quickly answered it. "Hello?"

"Barney? This is Officer Huntsiger, we met at the house. We informed Carmen's family. Her husband--well, ex-husband--is on the other line, he wants to talk to you."

"What? Really? Why?"

"I don't know. He asked to speak to the person in charge so I was going to throw him to you."

"Uh, I guess I can talk to him. Send him through," Barney said and waited for the call to come through.

"Hello?" asked a man on the other end.

"Yes, this is Detective Barney Renauld."

"Are you in charge of my wife's murder?" the man asked.

"Uh, yes I am heading the investigation into your ex-wife's death," Barney said. "We haven't ruled out suicide or accident, Mister..."

"Murray. Professor Everett Murray. I'm a professor of linguistics at North Central Kansas A&M. Do you have any suspects yet?" Murray asked.

"No, not yet. We still have to search the house and note the cause of death so it may be a couple days before we start ruling people out. Why did you want to talk to me, Mr. Murray," Barney asked feeling uncomfortable talking to this man.

"Just wanted to tell you that I am at your disposal. If you need anything, please feel free to pick my brain," Murray said. "And it's Professor Murray."

"Sorry. I'll definitely keep you in mind and we will probably be in touch later, Mr. Murray. Bye," Barney quickly hung up the phone and put it back in his pocket. "Well, he wasn't suspicious," Barney sighed.

Barney pulled his phone back out and called Officer Huntsiger back. "Huntsiger," he answered.

"This is Barney. Can you give me the address for Carmen's parent's house? I need to talk to them about her ex-husband. He gave me a weird vibe so I want to know more about him."

"Do you think he did it?" Huntsiger asked.

"He seems to have some sort of superiority complex but I don't think he could accomplish murder," Barney said. "I have a pen and paper, give me the address."

Barney drove to the small town of Lecompton to see Rosalyn's parents who were watching her daughter, Emili. Emili was a gorgeous girl of about six with long blond hair who was always smiling.

"Mr. and Mrs. Carmen? I'm Detective Barney Renauld and I'm sorry that we have to meet under these circumstances but I want to ask you a few questions about your daughter's ex-husband."

"Did he do it? Did he murder Rosalyn?" her father asked.

"I can't comment. We honestly haven't even stated the cause of death yet," Barney said. "Are you still on good terms with Everett--Mr. Murray?"

"Yeah. We kind of have to be with Emili in the picture but he's a really guy and very smart. He's never raised his voice or fist to anyone. Rosalyn just gushed about him from the time they met until a couple years ago," her father said.

"Who filed for divorce?"

"She did. Rosalyn found evidence of Everett having an affair with a student. He admitted it, had the student switch professors and tried to make it up to her but she still filed for divorce," Rosalyn's father shrugged. "I guess she just couldn't overlook it."

"Rosalyn has a history of her boyfriends and such cheating on her. I don't think she's ever had a faithful one," Rosalyn's mother finally spoke.

"Is Mr. Murray good with Emili?"

"Yeah. He doesn't get in the floor with her but he does enough to keep her entertained on his weekends."

"Were you aware of any problems between Rosalyn and Everett in reference to Emili or anything?" Barney asked.

"Not that we were aware of," Rosalyn's parents looked at each other.

"That should do for now, Mr. and Mrs. Carmen. I'll keep in touch and when we get the autopsy done, we will call you and tell you what we found out," Barney shook both their hands and left the house. When he got to his car he pulled out his phone again. "Huntsiger? What's a good but cheap hotel in Topeka? And can I get the address for Professor Everett Murray?"

Next Week
Barney talks to Professor Murray and begins to piece together the murder; Andy reveals his powers to Mariah; Jess suffers a devestating loss.