Authors: Mike Markel
The Reveal: A Detectives
Seagate and Miner Mystery
Copyright © 2015 by Mike
All rights reserved. No
portion of this novel may be duplicated, transmitted, or stored in any form
without the express written permission of the publisher.
Warning: The unauthorized
reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal
copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is
investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to five years in federal prison
and a fine of $250,000.
This is a work of fiction.
All characters, events, and locations are fictitious or used fictitiously. Any
resemblance to actual events or people is coincidental.
The Detectives Seagate and
Miner Mystery series:
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Table of Contents
He sat in his car, a
hundred yards from her house, thinking about what had happened. For the past
four days now, that was all he had thought about. What she had done. At first,
it had made him furious, but by the second day the fury had cooled into
determination and begun to assume a shape. He had molded that shape, kneading
it, pressing and forming it, and now he was ready to act.
Nobody would notice his car parked among all the
others on her quiet street in the original residential neighborhood in
Rawlings, Montana. The houses were old—fifty years, even a hundred—two stories
set on narrow lots separated by fences. Running alongside the fences were
driveways of broken concrete or pea gravel or tire ruts on grass leading to
one-car detached garages in the back.
He cracked the window to let out the cigarette
smoke. One leg tapping rapidly, he was oblivious to the sweet aroma of the
turned soil from the gardens that edged the front porches up and down the
block. In the purple twilight of a mild late April evening, he did not notice
the white, pink, and yellow petals of the daffodils, chrysanthemums, peonies,
and tulips all around him.
Here on Harkins Street, there were no light poles.
Porch lights on the
close-set houses, some only
ten or fifteen feet apart, provided ample illumination. He glanced at the house
sitting back from the curb to his right. On one side of the large spruce tree
in the front yard was a metal swing set; on the other, a trampoline with netting
around it to keep the kids from tumbling out. He looked up at the second story.
It was dark; the kids must be asleep. An indistinct yellow glow came from the
side of the house, near the rear on the main floor. He guessed it was the
kitchen. That would be the parents sitting at the table, exhausted after
getting the kids to bed. They wouldn’t hear anything.
He looked down the street toward her house. The
last car had left more than fifteen minutes ago. He pulled his phone from his
jacket pocket to check the time: 10:03
He lowered his window halfway and flicked his cigarette out, watching it bounce
once and then roll a few inches and come to rest on the pavement, the grey
smoke snaking into the night air and then disappearing.
He got out of the car and closed the door softly.
The lock didn’t catch. He leaned his hip into the door and it clicked almost
silently. For a moment he stood there, looking up and down the block and
listening. A pickup truck approached. As the driver saw him and steered out
into the middle of the street to give him room, he turned back toward his car,
as if he had forgotten something on the front seat.
After the pickup rumbled past, he looked and
listened again. He picked out the tiny scratching sounds of two squirrels
chasing each other around the base of an oak tree in a yard across the street.
He heard the rustling of new leaves on a quaking aspen twenty yards in front of
him on the narrow strip of grass between the street and the sidewalk. But he
saw no one and heard nothing to cause him any concern. He was alone on the
He walked around the front of his car, his finger
tracing a line in the fine layer of dust on the warm hood; then he crossed the
grass strip and stood on the sidewalk. His hands in his pockets and his head bowed
slightly, he walked toward her place. A gentle breeze carried the sound of
recorded music from the top floor of a boxy, ugly tan-brick house. In the next
house, blue and red lights from a widescreen flickered across a front room.
He stopped, her house now just across the street.
Although the eight or ten cars that had been parked in her driveway and along
the curb were gone, the house was still lit brightly on both floors. He looked
around one more time but saw no one. He stepped between two parked cars,
crossed the street, and approached her waist-high wooden fence. He pushed the
gate open, the spring creaking softly. He followed the flagstone path, then
climbed the five concrete steps to the painted wooden porch.
He opened the dented white aluminum storm door and
stepped up to the window in the navy blue wooden door. He peered inside, then
glanced over his shoulder once more. Seeing no one on the street, he tried the
knob. He smiled, relieved to find it unlocked. He opened the front door slowly,
stepped into the house, and gently closed the door behind him.
He stood on a worn oval-shaped braided wool rug, the
blue, green, yellow, and red braids faded with time and use. He closed his eyes
and breathed in the air, still moist from all the students, still heavy with
the scents of their sweet lotions and perfumes and the cheeses, dips, coffee,
He opened his eyes. Before him was the wide
staircase, made of sturdy, dark wood ornately turned. The balusters were
polished, but the handrail was dull, the surface scratched and nicked. His eyes
followed the worn stairs to the second floor, which was lit by a single bulb in
He glanced to his left, into the living room. The
inside wall was dominated by a wide brick fireplace, painted white but stained
grey above the firebox by decades of smoke. The room was crammed with
mismatched furniture: sofas, loveseats, armchairs, and cherry dining-room
chairs. Side tables, hassocks, and metal TV trays were scattered about, all of
them covered with glasses, cups, china dishes, and plates.
To his right was the dining room, with a cut-glass
chandelier from another era and a heavy, dark dining table with thick legs. At
the far end of the dining room was the doorway to the kitchen. He heard the
sound of running water.
He walked into the dining room, over the old
carpet with floral patterns and ragged fringes around the four sides, past the
large table. He paused in the entryway to the kitchen, glanced behind him, and
listened. He was confident they were the only two in the house.
She was washing dishes, her back to him. Her hair
was wavy, grey mixed with brown. She wore a grey wool blazer over a red
turtleneck knit top. Her jeans were black, her socks red. She wore no shoes.
She did not hear him.
When he stepped onto the old linoleum in the
kitchen, it creaked, startling her. She turned to face him, her eyes wide.
It took him a moment to realize that she was
weeping. She turned off the faucet and faced him again. “You scared me.” She
wiped at her eyes with a finger. “What are you doing here?”
He did not respond.
She gathered herself and stood up straight, her
posture defiant. “What do you want?”
His voice was soft and unforced. “To give you one
more chance to fix this.”
She raised her chin. “And if I don’t?”
He held her gaze. “What you did was wrong.”
She shrugged, becoming more comfortable in a
familiar role. “Wrong?” She almost smiled. “That wouldn’t be the first time.”
“I don’t think you realize what is happening
She tilted her head slightly. “Tell me what is
happening here.” Her jaw was high. “Explain it to me.”
His expression was solemn. “We’re way past that
now.” He paused. “I explained it all before. No more talking. It’s time for you
to make it right.”
She shifted her weight and asked again. “And if I
“Then I have no choice.”
“You always have a choice. You could, for example,
take responsibility for your actions. You could move on.” She shook her head,
as if arguing with him were futile. “But I imagine that isn’t your style. That
would be a foreign concept to someone like you.”
He advanced a few steps. She stepped back until
she bumped into the counter, which was covered with dirty dishes and glasses.
Her eyes fixed on his, she moved her right hand tentatively across the
countertop. Her fingers wrapped around the black wooden handle of a long bread
When he saw the blade coming at him, his left hand
came up quickly. Grabbing her wrist, he stopped her tentative thrust. He
twisted her wrist, pulling her trunk and head downward. She cried out and the
knife fell to the floor.
“You shouldn’t have done that.” His voice was
“You’re going to kill me? Over this?” She lost her
composure and began to weep again, out of control.
He maintained his grip on her wrist, then twisted
it sharply. She cried out once more, her upper body bowed over.
“You didn’t get back to me,” he said.
Through the pain and the fear, her speech was
high-pitched and halting. “You know … very well why I didn’t.”
He tightened his grip again and twisted her wrist
once more. Something in the wrist gave way.
She screamed in pain. “Do it, then.”
“Last chance,” he said.
As he twisted her wrist again to draw her arm
behind her and spin her around to face the counter, her left hand came up
quickly and she scratched his neck. He flinched, more in surprise and
indignation than in pain. He drew his right hand up to his neck and
inspected it for blood, but the scratches were too
shallow. He drew the hand back and hit her hard across the side of her face.
She recoiled, her body sending glasses and plates crashing onto the linoleum.
Then she fell forward and sank to the floor.
Still conscious, she reached out, grabbing at his
leg, but her hands had no strength. He pulled his leg back, breaking her grip
easily. He bent down and lifted her, her legs swinging weakly in the air.
Gathering her up, encircling her arms, he hoisted her onto his hip and carried
her out of the kitchen and into the dining room.
She tried to kick him, but her legs bumped
harmlessly against the dark table. He stood in the foyer, looking up the
staircase. He shifted her body, her legs still swinging but slower now, and
tightened his grip on her waist. He stepped onto the staircase.
He heard her breathing, faint and shallow, as he
climbed the stairs. She didn’t scream but moaned softly as he paused briefly on
each of the thirteen steps. Finally, his breathing labored, he stood on the
pale green carpet in the hallway. He lowered her to the floor and looked at
her, but her eyes, half-shut, did not focus on him.
He looked down the staircase toward the foyer and
the front door, then reached down and picked her up again from her waist. He
tried to get her to stand but her knees buckled. He took a deep breath,
gathering his strength. Reaching under her armpits from behind her, he pulled
her up to her full height, her toes barely touching the carpet. He adjusted her
position so that she was centered over the broad staircase.
He grunted as he pushed her off the landing. When
her face first hit a step, he heard a single cry of pain, but then she made no
more sounds, except for the rumbling and slapping as her limbs and her head
thumped against each of the steps. She came to rest with her face and shoulders
on the braided rug in the foyer.
He walked down the steps, careful not to touch the
handrail or the wall. He stepped over her legs, which extended up to the fourth
step. Lifting her blazer, he saw her chest rise and fall softly beneath her red
turtleneck and smelled the faint aroma of fresh perspiration.
He picked her up again by the waist. It was easier
this time because now her limbs did not move at all. Once again he carried her
up the thirteen steps and lifted her to her full height. Her head was slumped
forward, her chin on her chest, her arms and legs limp. Once more he thrust her
out over the staircase. Her head hit the steps with a muffled thud and she
tumbled down. This time, her body came to rest on the staircase. She looked
like she was swimming down the stairs, her right arm dangling over a step, her
left arm behind her, by her hip.
Again he walked down the staircase, stepping
carefully around the body. Standing on the braided rug, he placed two fingers
on her neck. There was no pulse. He waited another moment, studying her red
turtleneck, which now did not move. He lowered himself to one knee and placed
his ear to her mouth. He felt no breath.
He stood up straight and walked to the front door.
Using his jacket to turn the knob, he opened the wooden door, then shouldered
the screen door, which had not clicked shut when he entered the house three
minutes ago. He wiped the doorknob with his jacket as he secured the wooden
door, then pushed the screen door shut, the air hissing as it escaped from the
pitted aluminum closer. He rubbed at the push knob with his jacket, then turned
and descended the five concrete steps. He followed the flagstone path, opened
the gate, and walked down the block toward his car, his hands in his pockets
and his head slightly bowed. He heard no unusual noises and saw no one.