Folks in Irma Daltrey's neighborhood are acting more and more suspiciously every day. Her next door neighbor invites a mysterious friend to visit, and across the street a strange trio has moved in, toting cameras. Are they spying on the neighborhood or just engaging in gainful employment? Her life is in chaos beneath a mysterious veil of terrorism. All the while, Irma is left wondering if she is looking for love in all the wrong places.
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Bridges to Burn
A few jiggles and a turn, and he had the back door unlocked. It opened to reveal an immaculate kitchen with bright yellow walls and shiny chrome fixtures. The only sign of messiness was a pyramid of frozen dinner cartons stuffed in the trash can.
"Looks like this guy is not much of a cook," Bill murmured. To his right a standard dining room, complete with a table, oak china closet, and server. But an ugly clear plastic tablecloth draped the table. Papers and junk of all sorts comprised several sizable piles on top. Bill shifted the stacks around to see more, but it appeared to be nothing but store ads, old newspapers, and an assortment of miscellany like lost buttons and leftover change.
"Not the tidiest guy I've ever seen," Bill observed.
A door to the left led to a hallway which passed a staircase to reveal the living room. In contrast to the dining room, this one was a vision of cleanliness with pearly white painted walls and a white shag carpet, along with clean, beige furniture and shiny white tables with glass tops.
One more room proved to be a sparsely furnished bedroom. A neatly made bed filled the area with a dresser in one corner. A bed stand, lamp, and table clock completed the picture. The bed had no bedspread but the blanket was smoothed to military precision. Bill opened the dresser drawers one by one to find the typical array of shorts, tee shirts, socks, and jeans.
Glancing at his watch, he noted having already spent a great deal of time in the house. He needed to check the second story. Dashing to the staircase, he took the steps two at a time. The second story revealed two completely empty rooms, nothing more.
"Humph! Why in the heck do we have this guy under surveillance?" Bill murmured. "If he is up to dirty dealings, it isn't here."
Descending the stairs, he was about to leave when he remembered the basement. Turning on his heel, he found the door next to the kitchen and opened it. Steps led down as he took them one by one after switching the lights on. When he reached the bottom, he found nothing but a washer, dryer, water heater, and furnace. Otherwise, the area was stripped clean. "Damn!" he murmured before climbing back up the stairs. There was nothing in the house with which to bring charges against Jim Craft.
"Have any luck?" Ted asked when Bill returned to their house.
"Nah, that place looks squeaky clean. I gave it a pretty good going-over, and I didn't see anything resembling explosives, or anything else interesting for that matter."
"Humph! I wonder what Laura does when she is over there. It sounds like she has nothing to work with."
"Tell me about it! I guess we are not allowed to question her," Bill growled. "But I may ask her anyway when she comes in."
It was about time someone confronted her. What was she doing over there? Or better yet, why was she still going there at all? It was true the guy had a shady history, but nothing in that house indicated criminal activity. We'd be better off to put our resources somewhere else, Bill thought. Who knows? Maybe Laura has broken from department directives by following a dead end lead like Jim Craft. Shows you what happens when a school girl is in charge, he mused.
Shortly after, Laura entered the living room from the basement garage.
"Well, how did it go?" Bill asked.
Laura shot him a sharp glance and turned away. "Well, not much happened if you must know."
"Well, like what?"
"He went to the supermarket. OK? Just the damned supermarket!"
"Well, little Miss High and Mighty, looks like your end of the work wasn't so important after all," Bill stated.
"Bill, calm down," Ted jumped in, but Laura reacted faster.
"Look, you stupid SOB. My job and my performance is none of your damned business. Now back off, Tenant!"
The nerve of that dame! "Well, sweetheart, while you were at the grocery store, I was over there casing out his joint. There's NOTHING illegal in that house. It's clean as a whistle and I'll be damned if I know why we're staked out over it."
"YOU BROKE IN?" Laura screamed. "We don't have a warrant. What the hell were you thinking?"
Bill held his breath and glared at the woman. He replied in low rumbling tones with each word blazing its own trail of fresh sparks. "Ms. Taylor, I have been convinced from the start you aren't qualified for this job, and if I can check up after you and prove that fact for the good of the force, then by God, I will."
"I outrank you...I outrank you! I could have you fired if I wanted to, and that's just what I may do." Laura Taylor retrieved her keys from the table and bolted down the stairs to the garage.
"Looks like you've really done it this time," Ted observed, shaking his head at Bill.
"Nah, I don't think so. She may outrank me because she has some college, but I've been around a long time and no woman is going to push me out of my job."
* * *
Read a sample from another Pittsburgh book, "Tea and Chocolates"