Thursday, July 30, 2015
DRAGONFLY: PART TWO
By Daniel Skye
PART TWO: THE TAPE
Friday, October 31st, 2008.
The night Jamie Reynold’s life changed forever.
Meticulously carved jack-o’-lanterns sat on almost every porch and doorstep in town. Excited trick-or-treaters roamed the sidewalks in bright, vivacious costumes and lined up in droves to beg strangers for candy.
Eight year old Jamie Reynolds decided to be a princess that Halloween, just as she had been the year before and the year before that. Laurie Reynolds accompanied her that evening and never once let Jamie out of her sight.
Jamie had a mental map of all the houses she wanted to visit that evening, and all the houses she wished to avoid. She knew to avoid Mrs. Wester’s house because she always gave out apples instead of candy. And the Johnson’s always gave out mini toothpastes and toothbrushes because their father was a dentist. But Mr. Briggs had a tradition of giving out full-sized Snicker bars to all the kids, and Mr. and Mrs. Nolan would give out bags of Skittles or peanut M&Ms, Jamie’s favorite.
Halloween falling on a Friday meant no school the next day. So there was a bigger crowd than usual and most of the parents let their kids stay out late and visit every house in walking distance. Heck, the parents seemed to enjoy it as much, if not more, than the kids. Almost every parent in Dorchester was wearing a costume or mask.
The Dorchester police were in full force, patrolling every block in search of teenage vandals prowling the area with cartons of eggs and cans of shaving cream and spray paint. But it was still relatively easy to blend in with the crowd, especially if you were wearing a costume.
So when the tall stranger in the Jason Voorhees style hockey mask passed Jamie and her mom on the sidewalk and slipped a VHS tape into Jamie’s bag of candy, it went by unnoticed, even by Jamie herself.
Her pillowcase was practically bursting with candy and the tape didn’t significantly alter the weight she had already been lugging around.
It was just after ten o’clock when Laurie called it a night. They returned home and Jamie turned her pillowcase upside down, the VHS tape spilling out with the rest of her candy.
“Hey, mom,” Jamie called out, but Laurie was busy on the phone in her kitchen, talking to her new boyfriend. The one with the goatee and the lip ring. The one who drove a motorcycle and always reeked of cigarettes and exhaust fumes. The one that Jamie found utterly grotesque.
“I think you should see this,” Jamie tried to get her mother’s attention again.
Disregarded by her mother, Jamie wandered over to the ancient VCR placed under the TV set. There was a DVD player stacked on top of it and Jamie’s mom hardly ever used the VCR anymore, but it still worked.
Jamie popped the tape in and pressed play.
The next thing Jamie’s mother heard was not the gruff, scratchy, two-packs-a-day voice of her motorcycle boyfriend. It was the sound of her daughter’s screams emanating from the living room.
What Jamie had seen on that tape could never be unseen.
Those sadistic, violating images were forever burned into her innocent retinas.
Saturday, November 1st, 2008.
Leland Tuttle was perplexed by the presence of Richie Carter. He thought this was going to a brief meeting with Mitch Calloway, the claims manager of Vanacore Insurance. He was expecting a signed and dated check and for this ordeal to be over with.
“So what’s all this about?” Tuttle asked, fidgeting in his seat, tugging at the legs of his pants. “I already filed the claim. Filled out all the necessary forms. I’ve answered a billion questions. So why isn’t this case closed? Why haven’t I gotten the check for the insurance money yet?”
“Oh it’s on its way,” Calloway assured him. “But my associate just has a few more questions for you.”
“I’ve already spoken to the claims adjuster, and the claims investigator too,” Tuttle said, exasperated.
“I’m not a claims investigator,” Carter said. “I’m a private detective. Now Mr. Tuttle, you wrote in your report that the fire in your factory was due to faulty wiring.”
“Well that’s what it said in the police report.”
“Yes, but nowadays fires can easily be made to look like accidents. That’s why we have to be very thorough with these investigations. Does the name Izzy Kingston mean anything to you?”
“It doesn’t mean a thing,” Tuttle shrugged. He was starting to sweat a bit. Carter could see the beads accumulating on his forehead.
“Are you sure you’ve never heard of him?”
“I’m positive. And why am I talking to you again? You’re just a private detective.”
“I am. And I happen to have some rather incriminating photographs.”
Carter pulled an envelope from his leather jacket and tossed it in Tuttle’s lap. He slid the photos from the envelope and flipped through them, his face growing whiter with each picture, the color draining out of him.
Photos of Tuttle paying the man who started the fire that burned down his factory. Photos of Tuttle posing with items believed to have been destroyed in the fire. Photos of the man who started the fire talking with the police.
“They’re waiting for you downstairs,” Richie said. “The police. They have some questions of their own they’d like to ask you.”
Right on cue, security marched into Calloway’s office to escort Leland Tuttle downstairs.
When Tuttle was gone, Calloway couldn’t help but applaud. “You have no idea how much money you just saved this firm. And did you see the look on his face? I’d love to see him trying to explain all this to the cops downstairs.”
“Ah, this one was easy,” Carter said. “The guy was an idiot. If you want something done right, do it yourself. And if you’re not going to do it yourself, don’t hire an ex-con and a drug addict who’s infamous for getting busted.”
“Come work for my firm,” Calloway said, practically begging. “You’re a pro at sniffing out phony claims. I need more guys like you on my staff.”
“Sorry,” Carter said. “I like being my own boss.”
“You sure? It’s an awful waste of your talents.”
What talents? Carter thought.
“Thanks, but no thanks. Call me if you have anything else though. I could always use the side work.”
Sunday, November 2nd, 2008.
Richie Carter was nursing an awful hangover that morning and was just starting his fifth cup of steaming black coffee. He’d smoked half a pack of unfiltered Lucky Strikes. And it was a safe bet he’d smoke the rest of the pack by noon.
Richie was a gumshoe, as old school as they come. He was a private detective, or a private dick as his brother, Anthony, loved referring to him. Richie got paid to snoop, follow people around, rummage through their trash, dig up the dirt from their past. It was a filthy job, but Richie’s hands were never truly clean anyway.
He’d been in and out of trouble since he was sixteen, getting tossed around from juvenile center to juvenile center. And his adult life was no different, as he found himself bounced around from correctional facility to correctional facility.
It was a miracle he was able to perform this duty. Normally you can’t just walk into a job agency and apply for a detective license. Most gumshoes are ex-cops with twenty-plus years of experience in solving crimes. But Richie lucked out, as the county of Dorchester does not require a private investigator to be licensed.
Therefore, Richie was able to run his small operation out of a strip mall on Prince Street. His office is sandwiched between an antique pawn shop and a juice bar that sells smoothies to spaced-out hipsters. Not the best location, but the rent was manageable and his clientele didn’t seem to mind.
His phone rang at about eleven-thirty and he picked up, hoping for the call that would put him back in business. Instead, Anthony Carter was waiting to harass him on the other end.
“What’s up, broski?” Anthony shouted. He’d always say broski, never bro. And it drove Richie berserk for some reason. But broski wasn’t bad in comparison to his substitutions for curse words.
“Not much,” Richie said, rubbing his throbbing temples and then reaching for another cigarette. “How’s thing on your end?”
“Can’t complain. Work is always interesting. And speaking of work, how’s the private dick business treating you?”
“It’s in the shitter. Apparently people don’t cheat on their spouses anymore. And if they do, they’ve gotten better at covering their tracks. I haven’t had a decent case in months. They’re threatening to turn my electricity off.”
“I heard,” Anthony said as if this should come as no surprise to Richie. But it did.
“Mom told me,” he explained. Then he added, “Duh.” Another thing Anthony did from time to time that irked Richie.
“Bad news travels fast, huh?” Richie groaned.
“In this family it does. You know if you need help, you can always ask me for money.”
“No, borrowing money is not an option for me. Once money becomes involved, it completely changes the relationship you have with a person. I might be broke, but I still have my pride. Thanks anyway.”
“If you change your mind, you got my number.”
“How’s dad, by the way?”
“Good. He asked about you.”
“Then why doesn’t he call and see how I am?”
“I don’t know,” Anthony sighed. “You know how stubborn dad is. He doesn’t hate you. He’s just disappointed. He feels you wasted so much time in jail when you could’ve made something of yourself.”
“Well, I certainly can’t argue with him there. Listen, I’ve got to run. I’ve got some errands to take care of. I’ll talk to you soon.”
“Wait!” Anthony exclaimed.
“What is it?”
“I know you won’t accept charity. But what if I paid you in exchange for a favor? Then would you take the money?’
“What are you talking about?”
“I must confess, I had an ulterior motive for calling you. This woman came to the station on Saturday. Some creep stuffed a videotape in her daughter’s bag on Halloween. The kid is traumatized after watching it. Hasn’t spoken a word since. We popped the tape in not even knowing what the Sam Hill we were about to watch. But holy moly…Richie, I don’t think this tape is a joke.”
“Ok, so where do I fit in?”
“We’ve nothing on this tape. No time, no date, no witnesses that saw the person who slipped the tape into her bag. We can’t even confirm if it’s real or fake. But if you watch it, I think you’ll agree it looks pretty damn real. I figured given your history, a guy with your record, your connections, could probably yield better results.”
“You want me to verify the tapes legitimacy?”
“Yup. And if it’s real, you can help us nab the son of a plumber that did this.”
“I don’t know, Anthony…I’d feel…awkward about taking money from you.”
“Then don’t take the money. Just look at the tape and help us out.”
“Alright, I’ll take the money,” Richie said.
“That’s the spirit. Got a VCR?”
“I don’t even own a DVD player.”
“I’ll get you a loaner so you can watch the tape. I’ll bring at by after four. Is that cool?”
“Sure,” Richie sighed. “See you soon.”