Messages by Weyman Jones

Publisher: Gale–Five Star Press
Mystery/Suspese
October 2010
ISBN-9781594148798

Formats:

Trade Paperback

Copyright © 2010 by Weyman Jones

Chapter 1

Of course she didn’t believe in premonitions.
What was that prickle down the back of her neck as she pulled into the driveway of her condo?  It reminded her that the security director had told her to vary her commuting route every day. She’d told him that would require so much concentration that she wouldn’t be able to enjoy her recorded books in the car.
“I know,” he’d said, arching his brows in that here-we-go-again expression, “you don’t back off from anybody.  But these animal rights people—they’re fanatics.”
“They’re people of conviction,” she’d said. “I respect conviction.”
“You respect people who believe that ‘those who torture should know suffering?’”
“I think that’s just a slogan, and it’s rooted in ignorance.”
“You know they’ve posted your name and address on their website, don’t you?”
“Bart, I’ve never known anyone I couldn’t communicate with.”
“This isn’t a court room, Inez, or a conference room.  Did you ever try to communicate with people who threaten to kill the children of a broker who wrote a policy for a biotech company?”
“Of course that’s hysteria. But Bart, if I could just sit down with—”
“Sure, counsel. You go ahead and negotiate the Treaty of Long Island.” He ran his hand across his brush cut in that macho preening gesture. “But until you do, you’re my worry, and I want you to take some precautions.”
From the pocket of his powder blue windbreaker with the PharmaTech logo he had produced what looked like a toy pistol. Holding it in the palm of one thick hand, he had assured her it was properly permitted and registered and said it fired hollow-nose bullets that made an exit wound the size of a golf ball. She’d shaken her head, saying, “My development is gated, my condo is alarmed and my garage door is electronic. I drive with the car doors locked and a cell phone in my briefcase. That’s enough. I’m not going to start packing paranoid heat.” As a compromise, she’d accepted an upgraded alarm system and the silent SOS, although she refused to wear the pendant with the button around her neck on the ugly beaded chain that looked like a 1930’s overhead light pull.
Now she ignored the prickle down the back of her neck as she pulled up to the post at the foot of her driveway, ran down the window and said, “Nolo contendere.” The garage door lurched and then rumbled open. She drove into the orderly garage with yard tools and trash cans all in place, switched off the BMW, released the door locks, slipped the strap of her Fendi purse over her left shoulder and the strap of her Prada briefcase over her right and stepped out into the familiar quiet. Her key opened the kitchen door, she stepped inside—and there he was.
She threw the ring of keys. It sailed past the grotesque Mickey Mouse mask and jangled against the cupboard. The sappy rubber smile added menace to his voice: “This is your worst nightmare, boss cow.” He stepped around her to block the door. “Tonight, the lab rat’s in charge of the experiment.”
She let her briefcase slide off her shoulder onto the floor as she backed across the small kitchen to the butcher-block countertop, holding her purse in front of her like a shield and keeping away from the confining corner by the sink. “How did you get in here? Past the alarm?”
His voice had a hollow, artificial timbre, as if he were speaking on an inter-com. “Electrons don’t protect you from justice any more than stock options do.”
Below the mask was a gray sweatshirt. He wore rubber gloves and was holding a pillow at the left side of his baggy khaki cargo pants.  Her pillow. He’d been in her bedroom. “If this is about justice,” she said, professional discipline controlling her voice, “then I think you should be willing to hear evidence.  I don’t think you understand what we do at PharmaTechnics.”
“You’re going to tell me that the suffering of animals alleviates the suffering of people,” he said.  There was some sort of electronic resonance in his voice, like someone with a damaged throat who used a device to speak. The same voice she’d heard on her answering machine?
She nodded. “That’s true. We produce genetically altered materials to treat cancer. And Alzheimers and AIDS. Bacteria that eat spilled oil and then conveniently die.” He made a dismissive gesture with his empty right hand but she went on: “And we’re also careful of the laboratory animals.  To minimize their discomfort.”
The cartoon mask snorted a laugh. “Discomfort. Is that the PR word for torture?”
She could see no weapon, just the pillow from her bed.  But he filled the kitchen.
“What we do is all about healing and humanity,” she said, twisting open the gold catch on her purse. “We don’t torture anything.” What is that rubbery odor? His mask and gloves?
He moved to block the door into the garage. “Good. Then you won’t mind if I do to you what you do to animals.”
She moved an involuntary half-step away. “I don’t do anything to animals.”
“Oh I know,” he said. “You don’t drop the chemicals in the rabbit’s eyes, but you patent the compounds that result, right? And you litigate the claims. You’re as much a part of the torture-for-profit business as the sadists in the white coats. You just don’t have to look in the cages.”
She extended a practiced gesture. “Let’s talk about that.” A negotiating tone. “About what we really do.”
“No, let’s talk about what you’re going to do right now.”
She ignored that, trying to establish a negotiation. “Our laboratory animals are—”
“Is it true, counselor, that you have the biggest balls at PharmaTechnics?”
She eased the flap of her purse partly open. “This isn’t really about animals, is it?”
“Of course it is. It’s about a female predator.” He reached into the hip pocked of his cargo pants and brought out an ugly blue-black pistol, no bigger than the one her security director had offered her.
“What do you want?” she blurted, realizing, before she could bite the words back, that the question ceded control.
“I want you on your knees.”
“Oh really?  Is this about me or about animals?”  She slipped her hand inside the purse.
“What do you have in that little flat purse? A gun? A can of mace?”
She fumbled through lipstick, tissue and wallet to find the beaded chain. “Let’s talk about animal rights. We both agree that’s important. Let’s—”
He gestured with the pistol. “Let’s see what you have. Is it true that you bleed pure testosterone?”
She let the purse drop, freeing the chain she was clutching, and held it up to show the pendant attached to it.  “See the button inside this little disk?  When I press that, the police get a nine-one-one call.  They’ve already recorded all the information they ordinarily ask for, and so they just come.  On the double. Now, do you want to talk to me or do you want to talk to the cops?”
Mickey Mouse laughed again. Under the electronic distortion, did she recognize the tone and timbre of his voice?  Or was fear creating a false association? He said, “You don’t really think I’d let you make a nine-one-one call, do you?”
She pulled the slack out of the chain with her left hand to palm the pendant in her right with her middle finger on the button.  “I don’t think you can stop me.”
He laughed.  “I already have.  Go ahead. Press the button.”
“It will only take them—it won’t take them long to get here. They keep a patrol in this area.  Ever since—you know.”
“Ever since you started getting love notes from us? Sure, I know. And I also know that your silent alarm activates a transmitter.  The signal doesn’t even go to the nine-one-oneoperator. It goes directly to the police communications center.”
“Okay,” she said. “Better yet. They get here faster.”
He nodded. “They would, if I hadn’t turned off the transmitter.”  He held up the pillow. “On your bedside table. You made it easy to find.”
She pressed the button. Twice, and then again.
Another electronic parody of a laugh. “Case closed, counselor. No appeal.”
She took a step toward the dining room. Bolt through there into the foyer? How accurate could that little gun be? But the front door is double locked. For security. Lean her shoulder against it and thumb the deadbolt back—he’d catch up in a walk. Control. Buy time.  Negotiate. What does he really need?
She cleared her throat. “Let’s talk about animal rights.”
“What do you know about that?”
She dropped the chain and pendant back into her purse and gripped it with both hands to control the shaking. “I know that animals feel pain and know emotions. Everyone who has a pet knows that.”
“Do you have a pet, boss cow?”
“Not now.  I travel too much.” She glanced around the kitchen. Knives in a wooden block on the counter by the dishwasher. He could block her with a single step. “But when I was a child I had a German shepherd . When we scolded her, she was so ashamed she’d hide her face under her arm.” Inez raised her own arm to demonstrate. Show empathy with animals. “She also knew joy, and love and loyalty.  She even had a sense of humor.  She enjoyed hiding her toys in my bed.” Inez managed a smile. “So let’s talk about animal rights.”
“You think you can talk your way out of anything, don’t you? On your knees, mouthpiece. Learn what it’s like to be at someone’s mercy.”
Mouthpiece. That’s what he’d called her, the distorted voice on her answering machine. This voice. Mouthpiece for torturers. And her name and address and her email address had all been posted on the SACT web site. “I’m an experienced negotiator.  Understand the other point of view—that’s where I come from. I think I may understand yours—your organization’s point of view—better than you suppose.”
“Let’s see if you understand my point of view. Why do you think I want you on your knees?”
“Oh, I understand that.  But don’t you think that’s taking a big chance? You know about DNA—wouldn’t you worry about leaving your signature?”
Mickey Mouse shook his head. “You don’t understand at all. This isn’t about a blow job. You think I’d go to all this trouble for that?” He gestured with the pistol. “This is about you on your knees. Not in charge. And before you say it, no, this isn’t just about animals. It’s not that simple.”
She looked around the kitchen again. Fire extinguisher over the countertop stove, but he was closer to it than she was. Keep him talking. Try to make some kind of a connection. “You want to see me on my knees, right?”
“How many times do you have to hear it, a smart lady like you?”
”And if I do that, then what happens?”
“We negotiate then. Not now.”
“That’s a promise? We negotiate then?”
“You know, boss cow, you’re beginning to wear out my patience.”
“I think we have an understanding, right?”
Another electronic laugh. “Think what you want to think, but assume the position.”
Moving carefully, she closed her purse and set it on the floor, hiked up her skirt, lowered herself to one knee and then the other. When she looked up he had raised the pillow as if to protect his crotch, with the pistol still at his side. She took a deep breath to control her voice and said, “Now we negotiate, okay? People have rights, too. And as people become more civilized, we understand—”
“Say ‘Please, Mr. Mouse.’”
Now her voice quavered. “You said we would negotiate.”
“That’s how we begin the negotiation. Please, Mr. Mouse.”
She swallowed. “Please, Mr. Mouse.”
“Those who torture should know suffering, boss cow.”
“I’ve never tortured anything. I couldn’t torture anything.”
“Let’s not go over that again, boss cow. You defend the torturers. What does that make you, an accessory after the agony?”
“If I promise—”
“We’re past that, boss cow. Now say, ‘Please, Mr. Mouse. Give me a better break than we give the lab rats.”
She bowed her head to his shoe tops. “Please, Mr. Mouse. Please give me a break.” She looked up at the mask.
“You’re too smart.” Mickey said. He brought the pistol up behind the pillow. “I saw it in your eyes. Too smart for your own good.”
She saw the feathers begin to burst out of the pillow ahead of the bullet, which entered her forehead in a momentary flare of white light. ❖
________________________________

Buy Weyman’s Messages at:
Borders
Barnes & Noble

Reviewers described Weyman Jones’s Broken Glass, as “a fine moral thriller” and The Unexpected as “superb.” His historical novel for young readers, The Edge of Two Worlds, went to seven printings and earned the Lewis Carroll Shelf and the Western Heritage Awards.

Visit Stacey’s website at:  http://weymanjones.com/

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About Vicki Hinze
USA Today Bestselling and Award-Winning Author of 40+ books, short stories/novellas and hundreds of articles. Published in as many as 63 countries. Featured Columnist for Social-IN Worldwide Network and Book Fun Magazine. Sponsor/Founder of ChristiansRead.com & CleanReadBooks.com. FMI visit www.vickihinze.com.

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