Deception is best suited for the honest. A liar is constantly scrutinized. His testimony is questioned and challenged. An honest man is most often overlooked. We believe the words of the honest are without deceit, his motives are pure. When the world sees you, live honest and show that you are worthy of honor and trust. That way, when it becomes necessary, your deceit will not be disputed.
In the world in which daily I live, my words are law. If I were to stand before a judge, he would hear my words as more honest than yours. That is the nature of who I am. It’s important to note that all evil is based on the premise of truth. Without truth, evil would have no place to exist.
Ben arrived at the address twenty minutes before scheduled. He wanted to look things over before he walked to the pickup point. He saw no signs that anyone was watching, lurking around to do him in. Actually, he wasn’t all that concerned about there being anybody around to cause him harm. Mr. Smith would be miles away, he was sure. Nobody that planned this well would be willing to be close by, especially with the FBI involved. Whoever he was, Ben was sure that he would take the appropriate precautions to avoid capture.
Ben went onto the property on El Camino Real as instructed. When he found the mailboxes, however, they were not the key boxes he had expected. They were combination locks, and he had no idea how to open them. At one minute before midnight, his cell phone rang. “Hello,” Ben said.
It was the woman again. “Three right, sixteen left, twelve right.” Then the phone went dead.
That was just a little too spooky for Ben. He now wondered if there was indeed someone watching him after all.
Ben put on a pair of surgical gloves and carefully opened the mailbox. After all, he mused, it could easily have a bomb. With Mr. Smith’s apparent background, Ben couldn’t rule out any options. There wasn’t a bomb—just another envelope. He thought about opening it immediately, but thought better of it. Still wearing his gloves, he placed the envelope inside a crime scene bag and sealed it. It was time to head back up the mountain to Santa Cruz. I hope I get extra mileage for all the driving I have to do for this guy, Ben thought.
Back at the office, Ben met with the others for the package’s “opening ceremony”, as they were now calling it. Tempted to forgo the formalities of forensic protocol, they waited patiently as the envelope was dusted for prints and checked with the ultraviolet lights and every other means of discovery available to look for a clue regarding this crazed person. The FBI had brought in their portable forensics lab to expedite the turnaround. Since Santa Cruz was a small town, they usually had to send any forensic material to Sacramento or San Francisco to process. This case had started taking on a life of its own. Now instead of taking days or weeks to get answers, things were happening much faster.
Unfortunately for Ben and the others, minutes still seemed to drag on forever. After what seemed an extraordinarily long time, this package had proven once again to be without any detectable particles or prints. It was opened, and they read the following:
Dear Detective Simeon,
I am beginning to realize that you are absolutely the right person for this job. Honestly, detective, how in the world did you get the FBI to set aside their egos long enough to let you take charge? I have to admit that when I selected you I wasn’t sure if you had what it would take to pull this off. I am glad I was right about you after all.
So, now it’s time to move forward. In this communiqué I will tell you about two more on the list: Lawrence Appleby and Cynthia, a.k.a. Christian, Carter, Larry’s transvestite lover. I figured that since these two were entangled, as it were, that it would only be fitting to expose them together.
Poor Cynthia wanted so much to be a woman that I just couldn’t resist helping her reach her goal. But alas, the surgery didn’t work, and I lost her. At least for a while, she was a complete woman. Maybe if I would have used anesthesia she might have appreciated my efforts a little more. Unfortunately, I didn’t want her to miss even a moment of that which would make her dream come true.
Larry, on the other hand, was all man. At least that was what he wanted everyone to think. But if the truth had been discovered, Larry would have been exposed as the coward he was. He didn’t have the guts to be a proper man. His death was very slow. Very painful. I wanted to make sure that when he died he understood that the old saying about a coward dying a thousand deaths was true. He learned that lesson firsthand.
Is it not amazing just how much blood is contained in the human body? What I found to be even more interesting was just how much of the precious crimson fluid could be lost, while the body still maintained life. My assessment is that if the body is shocked with the loss of blood, it will shut down quickly. However, if the loss happens slowly, as in a very light oozing, a person can lose almost twice as much and still squirm on the press-studs that hold him. I know because I’ve measured both.
You should have seen the looks on their faces as they watched each other die. Hanging like beef with those large hooks digging into their flesh, they feared moving about because to do so, I am told, is most excruciating.
However, let’s not dawdle with the niceties and move on to what you really want to know. Where might they be located?
Unfortunately, I cannot present you with the entire bodies of these lost souls. Their bodies have been given to nature to enjoy as a feast somewhere far out into the Pacific. But take heart; I have preserved for you the remains of their heads. I thought about giving them to you on a platter, but wasn’t sure you would catch the humor or the biblical significance with such a presentation. So once again you will find them with the directions attached just as you did poor Amanda Douglas. I am quite sure that the dental records of both will confirm their identities.
Now for the most difficult part: how do you explain to the public that which you have been told?
I am not so concerned with your explaining how they died, so long as it is factual, with enough detail that it will be known that their deaths happened slowly. What matters most to me is for you to expose how they lived. You must tell the world that they were cowards and liars and sexual deviants. You must tell the world that they spent their lives pretending to be something other than what they were. Their families must know that their deaths happened as a direct result to the way they lived. That their lies and being cowardice hurt many families and cost many lives. You must tell them that their punishment was exact.
You have until the six o’clock news tomorrow night to discover what you may to confirm my accusations. Because whether you find this information or not, you must tell it as the truth. Anything less will be considered a forfeiture of our agreement.
Until next time, I remain. Very truly yours,
After Ben finished reading, everyone sat stunned. The silence seemed to last forever, yet in reality it was only a minute. Nobody could believe what they had just read. Mr. Smith was a monster. He had taken the circumstances to an entirely new dimension. Before, he had been considered by most to be brutal, if not cruel. Now, especially with what he was requiring, he was proving to be evil beyond what anyone could readily comprehend.
Cheryl Johnson was the first to speak.
“He’s elevating the playing field. And based on what he just told us, it will probably get worse before it gets any better.” She paused as everyone absorbed what she was saying. “Ben, this is going to get real difficult for you, more so for you than any of us. You are going to be in front of the public. There’s going to be an outcry, and you are the one that needs to provide the answers that we don’t have right now. How do you want to handle this?”
Cheryl didn’t really expect Ben to have much of a response. What she was trying to do was to get him focused on some sort of action steps to take his mind off the doom she believed he was now facing. She was guiding him, forcing him to break the inertia that she was positive he was dealing with.
“I can’t think of that right now,” Ben finally said. “We have to find Appleby and Carter and get as much information about them as possible. What do we have to work with so far?” He looked directly at the FBI agents.
“When we went through the data banks,” Conley started, “looking for the names given to us earlier, we had three Applebys in the last ten years, by that or similar first names, that had died or disappeared. Of those, only one was considered missing.” Conley flipped open his notebook. “His name was Lawrence Prescott Appleby III. Judge Lawrence Appleby. He went missing about two years ago. His wife reported that he didn’t come home after his weekly poker game with his buddies. Later it was discovered that he hadn’t been to those games for nearly two months. His wife stated that he had told her he was playing poker. He had been going there for so long she never called to check up on his whereabouts. She was told that if anybody wanted him those evenings that he was unavailable and that she was not to call him. That was his time, and he didn’t want anyone to disturb him, even her. His car was never discovered when the APB was put out. There was a witness, the manager of a small economy motel, who indicated that she had seen him at a motel south of Sacramento on Interstate 5. She was sure it was the judge based on the picture posted on the news. She said that he and a lady friend had been staying there every Tuesday night for about two months. When forensics checked the room, there were a few prints that could have been the judge’s, but they were smudged, and we couldn’t get enough points to confirm that they were indeed his. The room had been checked in under a phony name and paid for in cash. Also, by the time the forensics were done, it was close to a week later and the room had been used and cleaned multiple times.
“As for Cynthia Carter, we found no matches that could be isolated. However, we were looking for a female as part of our search criteria. If the real name is Christian, then we will have to amend the research protocol to see what we can find out. I will follow up on that as soon as we’re done here. Where does the map say they can be found?” Conley’s curiosity was getting the best of him now.
“According to the map,” Ben said, “they’re on Cachagua Road in Carmel Valley, Monterey County. I’ve been in that area several times, and it’s quite mountainous. If my recollection serves me, Cachagua Road goes over one of those mountains. Very curvy. I’ll contact the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department and fill them in on what we just got. I’m sure that they’ll cooperate with us. I know several of them, and we’ve always had a good relationship. They’ll be ready for us by the time we get there.”
“I guess that we aren’t really a part of this case, are we?” Bill Anderson looked first at Ben, then back to Willie Mason. “It’s not our turf.”
Anderson seemed dejected by the fact that both he and his partner would soon be fazed out of what was going on because the SFPD had no jurisdiction on any of what they were now working on. He had seen and heard so much that he didn’t want for things to be over for them. He wanted to be a part of catching this guy. He wanted to see the guy fry. The thought of being sent home was infuriating.
“As far as I’m concerned,” Ben replied, “you are both welcome and, if I have anything to say about it, necessary. You guys know the local turf. Especially San Francisco and, I’m sure, Sacramento or San Jose. We already have the feds working the big picture. What we really need is to keep someone around that has the street smarts that you two bring to this case. If we need to get in touch with your captain or chief, let me know. Does anybody here object?”
Ben realized that once again he was walking a tightrope and that by doing this he could be creating problems down the road for himself. He also knew that these men needed to have some closure on this case. Kicking them out now would be counter-productive. Besides, he thought, they have a strong working knowledge of the Amanda Douglas case, and that information could be very useful down the road.
Nobody objected to his request.
“When you get to the place where the victims are supposed to be,” Cheryl Johnson began, “I want extensive photos taken before the first shovel enters the ground. Until then, I have to go back over all this correspondence from Mr. Smith. He’s telling us something. Actually, he’s telling us a lot. I need to get all of his words right. He’s becoming smarter and bolder by the day, and I’m convinced that every word he gives us has multiple intentions. Just keep me posted.”
Ben was getting motivated now. Everybody had work to do. The next piece of the puzzle was in hand, and they had something to do that would, hopefully, get them closer to Mr. Smith and the possibility of catching him.
As Ben turned to leave the room, Cheryl looked up from her material and gave Ben a sideward nod. She wanted to speak with him privately. And though she was being secretive about her motions, he almost caught himself asking aloud about what she wanted. He thought better of it.
“Cheryl, when you get a moment, I need to ask you a few questions. Could you come to my office when you get done?”
She was pleased with his approach. If she had gone to him of her own volition, there may have been questions arise from her actions. Instead she was being asked for her help, and that would surprise no one. She knew that sometimes the best secrets were the ones left in the open.
“Sure,” she replied. “I’ll be there as soon as I can get a few things together.”
She was beginning to like this detective. Even though he was new to many aspects of criminal investigations, Ben Simeon was proving to be very astute regarding his people skills. His intelligence was greater than she had first suspected. She watched him leave the room and felt that this man was going to do all right.
Barely five minutes had elapsed when she entered his office. Captain Black was just finishing his conversation, and she overheard that he would be ready to leave in about 15 minutes. He also said that he would call Monterey and have them meet up at the sheriff’s satellite office in Carmel Valley. From there it would take them about twenty minutes to get to where the “X” was marked on the map. Ben understood the why behind it taking nearly twenty minutes to make the five-mile trip. The roads down there were so winding that you thought you might turn one corner and meet your ass trying to catch up with your nose.
The only decision left was to determine whether they should try doing anything in the dark by bringing in lights or simply wait a couple of hours until daylight.