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Beau

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Friend or Foe (closed)
« on: March 04, 2015, 03:28:12 pm »
Reed Beaumont made his way to the fifth floor via the fire escape.  Dressed in black, the hood of his sweatshirt covering his blond hair he ascended the old metal stairs soundlessly.  It was art, more than science - where to step, and where to skip a rung of the white painted metal.  Practice made perfect. The sun would be up soon, but for now Reed moved like a shadow up the criss-crossed landings towards his apartment in the Royal Astaire.  His window in 5C was his own private entrance and the glass gave soundlessly under his gloved fingers as he slipped inside.  Booted feet hit the ground, in a catlike maneuver that landed him gracefully on all fours on the hardwood floor, before he stood straight.  The old building didn’t creek in response to his arrival.  Within seconds he shed the tools of his trade: backpack, electronics, rope and skid proof shoes.  All items were inconspicuously stored in the closet. The velvet jewel case went into the safe.  He smiled as he spun the dial, admiring the diamonds one final time before locking them away.

Can never be too careful.  No telling who might have sticky fingers.

Like a normal person, Reed tossed the sweatshirt on the back of the dinette chair.  His apartment was small, one bedroom with an eat in kitchen.  It suited his needs, located in the heart of Cook Town and close to his regular place of work, Marcum Electronics.  Glancing at the clock he wouldn’t have time for a nap before getting ready for the day.

Pity.  He yawned and scratched his head, sleepily.  In sweatpants and a t-shirt he looked rumpled and in need of a shower.  Reed was considering making some coffee when there was a knock at the door.
He hadn’t been moving around, but he stood still, startled by the sound.  Visitors didn’t frequent the fifth floor of the apartment building at six a.m.  It could be a mistake of course.  Apartment 5C was close to the elevator.  A few lost people had asked him for directions before.

The knock sounded again.  “Who is it?”  Reed called.

“Police.”

Unexpected.  Reed didn’t panic.  He was confident this was coincidence.  He’d executed his latest heist without being seen.  Ego didn’t cloud his vision, the crime completely untraceable. With a casual shrug, Reed moved to the door.  On the way he picked up his pair of wireframe glasses.  He didn’t need them to see, but they helped him slip into his daytime persona of nerdy computer geek.

The chain remained on the door as Reed opened it slightly.  Sure enough the blue uniform of Cook Town’s finest greeted him on the other side.  Reed blinked owlishly.  “Can I help you?”

A badge was flashed.  “Sorry to disturb you at this hour.  I’m here about Mr. Henry Olsen in apartment 5A.”

Reed didn’t respond immediately.  He remained behind the chain, waiting to learn more.  No point in volunteering that he didn’t know his neighbor well.   The policeman didn’t seem to mind the silence.  He went on to ask, “When did you last see your neighbor?”

Two doors down technically wasn’t a neighbor.  Olsen was ten years his senior.  Divorced.  They didn’t travel in the same social circle.  “Dunno.  Few days maybe.  I think I passed him in the elevator, but I can’t say for sure.”  He figured it was expected, so he did his best to appear curious, “You looking for him?”

“No,” the police officer said. 

The elevator behind him opened and a pair of men wheeling a gurney got off.  The metal wheels squeaked as they crawled across the floor.  Reed looked beyond the policeman to see the two heading down the hall to the open door of 5A.  He didn’t have time to ask if his fellow resident was hurt.  The policeman informed him.  “He’s been murdered.”


Shadow

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Re: Friend or Foe (closed)
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2015, 10:42:10 am »
Angel could hear the old cables creak and moan as they shuttled the car between floors but the elevator refused to make its way to the basement…..no matter how many times she pushed the button.  She looked over at the laundry basket full of trays, solutions and the rest of her equipment and quickly did the math ….6 floors times 2 flights of stairs for each floor “You gotta be frickin’ kidding me” she grumbled to the empty room.  She stabbed at the ‘UP’ button one more time…..just in case…..but there was no response – no sound came from the elevator shaft this time.

The lower level served itself well for an impromptu darkroom. No windows to let in light, low traffic area and plenty of places to hang the developing photos.  She had a gift for getting ‘that amazing shot’, but if asked, she would credit it to patience, although more often than not it was just being in the wrong place at the right time.   

Taking a moment to re-pile the contents, she covered their existence with an old faded towel, and then pulled off her sweater and tossed it on top.  Angel wasn’t really the athletic type but her bare arms poking out of her shredded t-shirt showed a bit of muscle as she grabbed the basket and then began the long trek up to her fifth floor apartment.

As she made her way up the flights of stairs she hummed a song that was stuck in her head since hearing it a couple nights before at the Cat’s Eye lounge. “stupid piano man” Angel cursed, but the melody continued and she felt compelled to follow along.  She smiled at the great acoustics the stairwell offered plus the distraction made the arduous task a little easier but by the upper floors, her labored breathing gave the tune dark over tones and was no longer being helpful.

The heavy basket was digging into her fingers by the time she reached the fifth floor, and she finally forgot all about the song. She hoisted it to one hip with one hand before grabbing at the heavy door, which led into the main hallway near her apartment doors, with the other.

As she stepped into the familiar hallway, she stopped dead in her tracks…with the door slamming closed behind her.  All eyes were turned to lock onto the late arrival; two men with a gurney stood outside her neighbor’s door and a third man with a scowl stepped closer.

“And who might you be” Mr. ‘Scowly’ asked

“I was about to ask you the same thing” Angel responded with a nervous chuckle, at the same time shifting the basket to her other hip.

The man showed his badge, while asking “and you are?”

She pulled the basket a little tighter to her while straining to see into Mr. Olsen’s apartment. “What’s going on Sargent?”

“It’s Detective Gains, and before I tell you anything, I need to know who I’m talking to.” the policeman said “and where were you that you’re just coming home at this hour?”

A small grin came across her lips, he reminded her of a father grilling a teenager,  “Angel Wolff, I live right there”, she pointed at the nearest door “and I’m not just getting home, I was downstairs doing laundry”

“At this hour?” the detective questioned with obvious disbelief, looking a little harder at the basket she held.
She slid the tinted glasses from her nose to sit on top of her head. “Yes” she said innocently, even going so far as batting her blue eyes at the older gentleman. “There’s not many people up at this time of day”, Angel leaned a little closer, “I can have a little privacy while washing my unmentionable.”  She held the innocent smile while obviously playing with the cop; the ditzy blonde act had served her well in the past. “You have no idea how many intimates I’ve had stolen from the dryer….it’s a real crime around here”

He looked her up and down, taking a moment to notice the tousled hair and the bare toes sticking out from torn jeans; the officer’s opinion of the young woman was written all over his face….’misplaced values and an airhead hippie that was probably clueless to what went on around here.’

“Hear anything suspicious tonight?” he asked, more out of procedure than thinking he’d get anything noteworthy.

“Hear anything?” she echoed “Like what?” Replacing her glasses to her nose, her focus moved past the policeman to the slightly opened door of another neighbor.

The better question would have been, What did I see?

He shifted the conversation quickly, “Mr. Olsen is dead and if you don’t know anything about that, Miss, I’ll ask you to go into your apartment and stay there until after the forensics team is done”

She didn’t need to be told twice, but rather took the opportunity to get the heavy basket out of her aching fingers. Quickly stepping into her apartment, she closed the door and rushed to place the basket on the kitchen table. At a half run, Angel grabbed two sticks of incense… lighting them she waved them momentarily around the large living room, being careful of the hanging tapestries and various stringed beads that hung from the ceiling, before sticking them in one of the many holders lying around the apartment. She took a deep breath, seeing if her efforts were masking the lingering pot aroma from the small joint she’d smoked earlier. The ‘herb’ was for medicinal purposes; it helped with her failing eyesight, hence the true reason for the ‘sunglasses’.

Angel went back to the basket, tossed the sweater and towel out of the way and snapped up the small pile of freshly developed pictures. There were a couple different subjects in this nights shoot but she shuffled through them to the ones of her neighbor’s front window. Angel had been out on her balcony during the late night hours, trying out a new lens. The old building’s flaws were muted by the shadows and the soft streetlight glow cast across the tan bricks, giving her an urban canvas to apply her art.  But ‘people’ were a much more interesting subject to photograph and Angel couldn’t resist snapping a few as human forms neared the window. At the time she wasn’t able to actually make out facial features but she hadn’t given it no nevermind as Mr. Owens always seemed to have a lot of people to his apartment, though she couldn’t count herself as one.

Beau

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Re: Friend or Foe (closed)
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2015, 12:04:34 am »
Murder was a pretty bold statement.  It meant that Olsen hadn’t slipped in the shower or hung himself.  Reed shut the door to release the chain, then opened it again to lean out into the hall like an average rubbernecker.  The gurney moved toward the apartment. “Wow, what happened?”

“Shot six times.  Someone wanted to be sure he was dead.”

Olsen wasn’t the nicest of people. Reed did his best to look surprised. He figured he put enough shock and awe into his expression to appear genuine.  “You don’t say.”

For Cook Town, murder was an anomoly. The city only had 50,000 people. It wasn’t the hot-bed of crime, and the residents here middleclass for the most part.  Chances were good this wasn’t some random robbery gone bad, but rather clearly calculated.  Motive would be key.

The detective asked, “Did you hear anything unusual tonight?”

The shake of his head wasn’t a lie.  He hadn’t been home after all.  Six shots would be hard to miss. “Has he been dead long?”  I didn’t smell anything either.

The detective shrugged.  “That will be for the forensics guys to decide…Mr…”

“Beaumont.  Reed Beaumont.”  Although you probably know that. Reed offered a weak smile and decided to step back from the limelight. “I’ll let you go about your duty, then.” 

He eased the door towards closed, leaving only a small gap so he could observe if he wished.  Leaning against the wall he frowned.  Typically he liked a mystery, but right now he was more worried than curious.  A telltale slam caused him to twitch.  Building Maintenance really needed to fix the stair well door.  He heard voices, and deduced Angel was being questioned.  Reed couldn’t really make out her answers, but he could tell the police were moving on towards Olsen’s apartment.  The squeaky wheel gurney gave their location away and he heard a couple of doors close, including 5A.  Figuring there wouldn’t be much more action, he shut his own apartment door properly.

In a wink he was back at the fire-escape.  A narrow wall separated the two windows that shared the landing. Be interesting to see what sort of information Angel had, and with a brief step out into the cold he could have his answer.  They were neighbors, although he suspected he inspired annoyance more than friendship, tracing back to his own nocturnal adventures and one “drunk” night where he’d gone in the wrong window.   The explanation had been the best he could come up with, but that was neither here nor there.

He tapped on the glass of her window.  “Angel, it’s me.”


Shadow

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Re: Friend or Foe (closed)
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2015, 11:00:29 am »
Six pictures.  Out of the few dozen photos that made up the night’s work, only six were of Mr. Olsen’s apartment.  Angel placed the others down on the table next to the basket, some of their contents held their own mysteries but not to the extent of life and death.  Though outward appearances can be deceiving.

Straining to get a clear visual of one of the pictures, her head bowed nearer to the glossy paper, causing long strands of blonde to fall across her cheek.  Her eyes were tired, normally after a night’s shoot she’d be heading off to bed about now.  Ignoring the fatigue, Angel quickly braided her hair into a side plait that loosely hung over one shoulder, grabbed up the six again and moved to stand beneath the bright ceiling fixture, plus utilize the early morning sunlight that streamed through the broad window. 

Angel’s choice of the two adjoining corner apartments was by design.  Having them facing different directions almost always ensured natural sunlight, which eased eyestrain yet at the same time prolonged direct exposure caused glaring, making it almost impossible for her to see.  Akin to hers, the dead man’s apartment was on the corner, but across the hall, however, the wrap around floor plan of the building gave the balcony of 5E the perfect line of sight into his living room bay window.

The first picture in the series from apartment 5A was of a tall floor lamp.  With her limited vision, the inanimate object had looked strikingly similar to a tall thin man….with a hat.  She giggled out loud…if she didn’t laugh, surely she’d cry at slowly going blind.

The second was one of a female and although it was a rear shot, Angel could tell the woman had dark hair and didn’t appear to be all that tall.  Again she pulled the glossy closer and it was then she noticed her hand was shaking.  She had been trying to not let the news of a guy dying next door get to her, nor even really think about it in any depth but the reality was, if he’d died of natural causes a cop wouldn’t be asking so many questions which ultimately meant there had been a killer in the building.

It was the following four photos that suddenly made her feel sick to her stomach. Initially Angel had thought Mr. Olsen had been dancing, his arms raised to varying degrees in each photo.  The look on his face, however, suggested something else; shock or perhaps fear... or the stark realization that the end was near.
She tossed the pictures from her hand as if they were hot embers, leaving the last two unchecked. Angel stared at the prints splayed on the floor at her feet but didn’t try to focus on the images.  She began to tremble but this time not from fear but the emotion of seeing someone’s final moments. The petit figure wrapped her arms around herself, protectively, trying to shield herself from the deepening sorrow. A strong believer in non-violence and a live and let live attitude, it was difficult to face.

The final two were perhaps more important than the others but Angel refused to look, fearing what she may have captured. If she had dared to look she would have seen in the one, that from her perch on the balcony, the angle didn’t afford seeing his features; a slight profile but he was mostly facing too far to the side to make a positive identification.  However, in the second one, appearing to look straight into the lens of the camera, the contours of the man’s nose and chin were very clear, as was the nasty scratch that ran down his right cheek.

“Angel, it’s me.”

The sound startled her and she spun around quickly to face the window. The sun was higher in the sky and had grown brighter, and she couldn’t see anything but a black form on the landing. But it took only a second for the familiar voice to register. Beau was her neighbor, a man that had too many secrets, but he allowed Angel to have hers, so she hasn’t pried...much.  They’d never talked about her limitations, and yet he’d steer her out of the way of some veiled obstacle or take the time to describe a far off object with enough adjectives that she could think she actually saw it.

She two-stepped over to the window, pulled hard to lift the pane and in a half whisper ranted to her visitor “What the hell are you trying to do Spiderman, get yourself killed?” Angel didn’t like the chances Beau took, nor did it seem wise sneaking around with the police milling all over the building. Her long fingers curled into the fabric of his shirt and sharply yanked him into the apartment. 

“Did you hear, Mr. Olsen is dead,” she said over her shoulder as she closed the window and pulled the fabric curtains partially closed “I think he might have been killed”, the anxiety had returned but only a trace might have been noted in her voice.

« Last Edit: July 26, 2015, 08:15:39 am by Shadow »

Beau

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Re: Friend or Foe (closed)
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2015, 07:29:23 am »
The window slid open and Reed smiled at the gatekeeper.  The whisper she gave him had a sexy quality to it and the grin widened.  Spiderman that was a new one.  He glanced down and noted the ordinary black t-shirt rather than the required spandex for such a label.  He didn’t mind it really, she could call him whatever she wanted.  If she ever chose Reed though, he knew he’d be in trouble.  No one, save his Mom called him that any more.  No one was allowed that close, and yet his smile flickered over an odd thought about that whisper and how it might sound on the pillow next to his.

Angel tugged on his shirt and he let himself be pulled through the window and into the apartment. She broke the mood by mentioning their dead neighbor.  Not exactly the opening line that he was hoping for. 

To keep things tidy she closed the glass behind him.  She seemed on edge, but Angel often was wired and restless.  Reed sniffed and lifted an eyebrow as the mingled fragrances that had no business mingling. 

“Yeah.  I heard.  Apparently I missed the six shots though.  Was out,” a pause where he wondered how best to explain, “working.”  The smile returned as he pushed his shoulders back proudly. “You know saving damsels in distress and pretending to be the mild mannered photographer.”

Speaking of which, it looked like Angel might have been busy with some photos of her own.  A telltale basket of laundry told it's own story. Absently he bent and picked one of the discarded prints off the floor. “Are you using the laundry room as a dark room again?”  Hadn’t he warned her it was dangerous down there.  Some hero if no one took his advice.  “That door has a nasty habit of locking behind you.  And I’ve seen strange men down there that don’t belong in the building.” 

Of course there was a reason for that…

Reed picked up another photo.  His smile turned to a frown.  Thoughts of rummaging through her laundry basket for other unmentionables was lost in the quandary before him.  It seemed Angel had been spying on Mr. Olsen.  The remaining photos were stacked next to the basket.  Reed put the ones in his hand on top of the stack, but not before one of them found its way to his pocket.

“How about I make us some tea?”  Reed didn’t wait for her answer.  He knew where the brew kettle was and the Lipton tea bags sat on a shelf above the sink.  She had some of the fancy stuff that required silver balls and loose leafs, but that was too much work.  He yawned and rubbed a hand over his eyes before gathering the kettle from the stove and going to the sink.  He let the water fill the pan, the stream pinging against the metal. 

Turning back to the stove he lit the gas and asked the question on his mind.  “Did you see anything unusual?”

Shadow

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Re: Friend or Foe (closed)
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2015, 09:41:36 pm »
She didn’t need to turn around to hear the audible sniff. A small smirk slipped across Angel’s lips and with consideration for her guest she walked to the next room and opened a different window to vent the apartment...one that didn’t have access to from the outside.  A light breeze wafted in, urging the feather light sheers to flutter lazily.

Before leaving the room, Angel tossed a sheet over a nearby easel – this particular piece of unfinished work was for her eyes only.  The bedroom had been turned into an art studio of sorts, several oil paintings lining one wall and a few water colors leaned in a small group along another.

She glanced around the room one more time, making sure nothing was visible that shouldn’t be, at the same time listening to Beau in the other room. “Working!”  Angel responded, with a giggle, “Is that what you told the nice policeman...that you were out saving damsels.”  She laughed again “No, I suppose not, you hero types like to stay anonymous.”   

When she emerged from the room, Beau was standing near the laundry basket, and the stack of pictures.  She had momentarily forgotten about having left them out in the open.  When he turned to go to the kitchen, she scampered to the table, scooped up the pile and basket, and swiftly carried them to the hall closet. There was no reasonable answer for all the photos she’d taken of him climbing down the side of the building via the fire escape or the numerous shots of him booting it through the back door of the luxury suites just down the block. For the most part, the stack hadn’t looked disturbed so she continued the conversation as she quietly closed the door, “Yeah, I was down there” Angel said, in response to his question about the basement, “but by the sounds of things, the bad men were up here.”

She couldn’t promise him that she wouldn’t go down there again. Who knows what will present itself in the future. This time her ‘stalking’ was innocent, merely photos of opportunity as she played with the new camera lens and night time lighting, but with the sensitivity of some of the pictures,  having them developed at a public lab risked too much... old school darkroom was the only option.

But perhaps Angel should have warned Beau, just in general. From experience, nobody knew better than her that you just never know who’s watching, or sometimes it’s being at the wrong place at the wrong time,....or both.  Either way, it doesn’t usually end well.  Ahh but there’s the rub, it’s far from over. Only a short while back, she made a deal with the devil, also known as her blackmailer -  the one that saw her run away, the one that can identify the bloody foot prints, the one that threatens her brother’s life.

It was supposed to be easy money. A rich socialite commissioned the photographer to take pictures of her cheating husband. The day Angel delivered them to the woman’s house, she was invited in only to see the man she had tailed, sitting on one leather couch and her employer on the other. Uncomfortably she stood between them, holding the tan envelope to her chest waiting for the lady of the house to ask for the evidence they had spoken of over the phone. But the woman’s stare never left her husband’s face, then suddenly she raised a gun and unloaded it, least one bullet, into the man.

There was no emotion on the Mrs.’s face...perhaps only a slight look of satisfaction. Angel’s eyes were wide; she couldn’t believe what just happened, or the amount of blood pouring from the man and then pooling at Angel’s bare feet.  She would have screamed had her lungs wanted to work but her chest felt tight and only small gasps slipped from her throat.

The older woman turned to gaze as the young photographer trembling on the spot, and at the same time wondering if the Mrs. was going to shoot her too. The two women stayed like that for some time, perhaps 10 minutes or more; long enough for someone to have called the police. And then, as like the first, with no hesitation, the socialite lifted the gun and shot herself in the head.

Angel was still standing in the middle of the room when the first officer burst through the front door. It was someone she knew and could trust. She could hear him calling her by name but the fog refused to lift.  He called her again, this time she looked up to see familiar blue eyes;  it was her older brother; an officer of the law for almost 10 years.

Jeremy grabbed the blood and brain splattered envelope, that held the damning photos, from Angel’s hands and ordered her to leave. He couldn’t have known that she wasn’t a part of the bloody scene, he only wanted to protect his sister and that meant getting her out before his partner showed up, who was not far behind. But the newspapers the next day told a slightly different story – a murder mystery that included millions of dollars’ worth of jewelry missing from the dead couples home. The only clue was a pair of bloody footprints going out the back door.

It was less than 24 hours after that when Officer Darian Littrel showed up at her apartment. Turns out he had been closer than the siblings thought...in fact he had been standing in the hall of the socialites home when Jeremy gave his sister a quick kiss on the forehead and urged her once again to go.  Officer Littrell explained, in no uncertain terms, that it was in both her brother’s and her best interest that she keep her mouth shut. He had enough in place that her brother would go down for the robbery and she’d be pinned for the murders. “Did you know footprints are much like fingerprints....unique to an individual” Officer Littrel had said with a knowing smirk.

A dirty cop is a dangerous thing
.

“Holy hell?” she gasped  “Six times....ouch” Her pretty features skewed into a grimace. Angel stopped at the entrance to the kitchen and just watched Beau for a few moments, a soft smile formed at the corners of her mouth. He looked good in the kitchen; at the very least this proved he could boil water.

“A stranger wouldn’t do that” she said, thinking out loud. Bare feet quietly stepped up next to him, Angel opened the adjacent cupboard and pulled two china cups from the cupboard, “Sounds like passion” she purred before walking back to the table and placing the vessels there.

Once again she crossed the floor, grabbing up the honey and  a small bowl of grapes, placing them next to the tea cups. “You’ve heard it said, there’s a fine line between love and hate....I don’t know if a stranger would waste that much lead.”

The teapot whistled its readiness and with a gentle smile, Angel reached past Beau, grabbed the handle and poured each a cupful, “Next time I’ll actually cook us breakfast”

Curling one leg beneath her, Angel slid into the nearest chair and motioned to Beau to take a seat. “All i know is that it sounded like Mr Owens was having one of his usual parties....loud music and people” she said, at the same time releasing her hair from the braid and tousling the blond locks, for a long moment she considered the pictures she’d taken earlier...”Do you think the killer was one of the partiers,” Angel questioned “...or could have been an angry neighbor” she added, then laughed too much at her own small joke. Fatigue was having its way.

BANG BANG BANG

The loud knocking on her apartment door startled her; Angel jumped, bumped the table enough to send the bowl of grapes on its side and the tea to splash slightly over the sides of the delicate cups.

“It’s Sergeant Littrel” the voice on the other side, boomed.

Angel’s eyes widened and without much forethought, motioned to Beau to keep things quiet.

“It’s Darian, Angel....open up”

For a second she felt the blood drain from her cheeks and a familiar panic set in.  Angel quickly stood and pulled at Beau....she was afraid for him, and not doing a very good job of hiding it. “You should go” she uttered quietly. She chewed at her lip nervously but tried to force a calmer exterior and a plausible excuse ” If i get busted for that lil bit of weed, I don’t want you involved” Ya sure, that sounded legit.


Beau

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Re: Friend or Foe (closed)
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2015, 06:24:04 am »
Passion and the kitchen.  You wouldn’t think those two things would go together, but Reed had to smile as the water boiled and Angel sauntered up next to him.  Tea and talk of murder.  He loved how juxtaposition was making a play tonight.  She offered breakfast and he couldn’t help the widening of that same smile as he followed her like dog into the living room.  He took the offered seat and a sip of his tea.

“You may be right that it was someone he knew.  But, it seems there aren’t ready made witnesses, or the police would have their suspect in custody. If it was a party night, someone doubled back. So, they’d like to find the nosy neighbor—“

And it seemed his theory was correct when a knock came at the door.  More than a knock actually.  And the effect it had also seemed over the top.  Reed’s brows went up as he watched Angel’s reaction with interest.  His first thought was ‘old boyfriend,’ only because she asked him to leave.  He wouldn’t want to make trouble but her pale face hinted at fear more than guilt.  Reed nodded and moved towards the window where he’d entered before as Angel got up to greet her newest guest.  He was no sooner out onto the fire escape landing when he realized he’d left his tea cup in place.  Even eccentric artists didn’t drink from multiple cups.  He decided to hover close, rather than return to his own apartment.  The window was still ajar.  If she needed help he could easily return and…well…Spiderman to the rescue.


Shadow

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Re: Friend or Foe (closed)
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2015, 07:29:24 am »
There was no missing the disappointed look on Beau’s face, and for a brief moment she wondered if she should have kept him nearby, but the cop on the other side of the door was the last person her neighbor needed to meet up with.

BANG BANG

Another series of load knocks but she waited and watched as he slipped back through the open window and out of sight.  Angel felt another wave of anxiety and forced herself to take a deep breath to try and relax.  As she stepped towards the door, she grabbed a long stick of incense and lit it with the lighter she always had handy in her pocket; waiving it about face high, there was hope that it would mask the other lingering aroma.

With one hand on the door knob, the other reached above it to undo the deadbolt, but it had barely clicked open when the man on the other side barged his way in, sending her stumbling back. Angel two-stepped it backwards but couldn’t catch her footing, and fell to the floor.

With a smirk stretched across his lips, Sgt Littrel quickly closed the door behind him.  For a long moment he stood towering over her grinning, then reached out his hand to give her help up, “Took you long enough to answer.” he said, revealing his distrust of her, “The other officer told me he spoke with you, so I knew you were home,....you weren’t trying to ignore me, were you,” he asked, “That’s never a good idea,” he added, lowering his voice an octave for effect.

First instinct was to slap his hand away but she knew better than to ‘poke the bear’, instead she slide herself backwards a few inches, then scrambled to her feet.  “What do you want Littrel?”

“First, i want you to quit wearing sunglasses indoors.” And with that, he reached out, snatching them from her face and tossed them. “I want to be able to see those baby blues of yours”

She watched in surprised horror as they summersaulted over the vintage baroque fainting couch next to her and landed with a bounce on the coil braided rug in the center of the room.  Thankfully the cushioned landing seemed to have saved the prescription spectacles from too much damage.

Without notice he continued “and second, I want the pictures you took last night.”

His gaze didn’t leave her face, and she was sure he didn’t miss the scarlet that filled her cheeks, “What are you talking about....I didn’t take any pictures....of what?” She was rambling, so she bit at her lower lip trying to get her nerves under control.

The smirk returned to his face as he stared at her, “Let me fill you in....we got a 911 call last night. The caller said they saw a bunch of flashes at this building address....happening on this floor”, the officer stopped talking and watched her intently but Angel didn’t even blink. “Now how do i know they weren’t connected with the murder next door? The caller said about 30 or more flashes, plus the dead guy bit it in the bedroom on the other side of the building that has a heavy blind over the window...doesn’t look like any light would be getting in or Out.”

“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said with false conviction.

Sgt. Darian Littrell turned slowly on his heal and walked further into the apartment. Stopping from time to time to lift the lid of a small trinket box or take note of the pictures hung on the wall. “Lucky for you the boys down at the station don’t get it either, and just chalked it up to exaggeration, but hmmmm”, his tone turned sarcastic “30 or more flashes, connected to your address, what could it be!” He dragged out the last four words, daring her to come up with another scenario.

Instinctively she glanced at the closed closet door, where last night’s pictures hid, then back to her unwanted guest, “How should I know”, she responded calmly, “didn’t the other cop tell you it was laundry night, so I wasn’t even on this floor.”

“Laundry doesn’t take all night,” he grunted

“I don’t know what to tell ya...I guess I’m no good at it”

As soon as the flippant answer crossed her tongue he turned back to her and stormed across the room, “Do you think that I’m kidding around....that could have just as easily been a murder/suicide next door – if you catch my drift” Sgt Littrell growled, “things happen, you should know that well enough”

He was tall, with a muscular build...using his size to loom over her, she was reminded of his first visit to her apartment and his intimidating manner. She was tired and in no mood to get pushed around however her brother’s wellbeing was also reliant on her actions.

Angel kept her head turned to the side, not giving him the satisfaction of seeing any fear, “I still can’t help you, Darian”, she said softly. Although she didn’t know the finer details of what had happened the night before, there was no way she would blindly throw suspicion on anyone and let this guy serve his twisted justice or whatever he had in mind.

“You can’t, or won’t,” he grumped, “Loud music, strangers in the hall outside your door, and you didn’t fancy a look? A curious kitten such as yourself?!”, he reached down and gently brushed the side of her cheek. She tried to take a quick step out of the way but she backed herself into the dining table that Beau and her had been sitting at only moments earlier, the teacups rattled and another grape rolled to the floor.

Two poured teas, two chairs and a steaming pot nearby....the scene was not lost on the police officer. “Why didn’t you tell me you had company, Angel”, Darian glared at her but his voice was syrupy sweet.

A loud commotion erupted in the hallway and both their heads snapped towards the closed door, and the noise beyond; she had never been so thankful for the lousy thin walls. The ruckus sounded like they it was getting more heated, Darian motioned for her to stay where she was; a few long strides and he was to the door and yanking it open.

 Angel could make our the voices better than the faces in the hall. She could hear a man claiming to only be there to see his partner and was hollering loudly that he didn’t know the deceased man. If she’d had her glasses on she would have seen the large scratch down the side of his face, the same as in the photograph from earlier that night. Darian disappeared through the door and around the corner to confront the loud talker. She didn’t think twice before running, half slamming the door and locking it.

Heart pounding, she pressed her ear to the door to hear more.

Beau

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Re: Friend or Foe (closed)
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2015, 02:38:25 am »
From his post on the fire escape Reed couldn’t hear all that was said.  He’d lean in occasionally as the words faded;  his brow furrowed over the tone.  He glimpsed a uniform through the sheer drapes, but wasn’t completely sure the man was an officer of the law.  His actions didn’t speak about truth and justice. The entire situation was very frustrating.  Reed wanted to pace, but he couldn’t afford the noise.

Angel had pictures and she didn’t want to surrender them.  Reed silently agreed, a fist pump in the air over her defiance, but  his hand went to the window and his spidey-sense tingled as the action shifted and the pair in the apartment moved out of sight.  He pushed the glass aside in time to hear the door slam.  With as much stealth as speed would allow, he returned to the kitchen area. 

His neighbor was plastered against the front door, as though it would fall over without her support.  Reed went to her side and mirrored her ear pressed to the wood.  “Anything good?” he whispered, hoping his proximity wouldn’t startle her, but figuring he hadn’t been quite as cat like as he desired.

The voice in the hall was familiar.  The teasing grin faded.  “I gotta go,”

He jerked his head towards the window, a hint she could come, but he didn’t wait for her to follow.  The safe haven would be there, but he needed to be at his own door rather than here.  He sprang to the fire escape and disappeared. As predicted, someone was knocking on is door as he re-entered his own apartment.

Reed bit his tongue, and kept the “Hey Barnaby,” inside until the door was at least partly open. 

Barnaby pushed his way inside.  “What were you doing, sleeping?” 

Given the hour, such was a logical conclusion.  “Maybe.”  He crossed his arms over his chest, noting the scratch and the disheveled clothing on the thin frame before him.  They were partners of a sort.  Reed did the work, Barnaby managed the office and taxes.  Nightowl wasn’t part of Barnaby’s job description. “What are you doing here?”

Barnaby must have noted the surveillance.  He put a hand to his chin and rubbed the scratch.  “Had a run in with Mrs. Lawrence.  She’s not going to be paying her bill anytime soon – or so she said, quite forcefully.”

“Is that so?”  Collections weren’t something to be done before dawn.  He kept the question to himself, and his expression bland. “Thanks for telling me.”

A pause.  The silence stretched.  Reed prompted, “Anything else?”

Barnaby frowned, but the door stayed open.  He could see the policeman outside and perhaps thought better of whatever brought him this way.  “No.  That’s it.  Call me later.”

“Will do,” Reed said.  He stepped aside so the other could exit.  “Go home.  Get some sleep.”

« Last Edit: June 10, 2015, 05:33:32 am by Beau »

Beau

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Re: Friend or Foe (closed)
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2015, 07:19:00 am »
Much as Angel had done, Reed waited a few moments, listening to the ambient noise through the closed door.  Footsteps. The swish of the elevator.  Then silence.  Oddly enough he didn’t hear voices as he had before.

Reed looked over his shoulder, towards the exit to the fire escape. No pixie face pressed against the glass  He walked into his own kitchen, but Angel hadn’t followed.  Reed frowned.  He didn’t want to admit he was worried.  The cop/”friend” hadn’t seemed like someone that should be alone with his neighbor.

It was light out now, but Reed didn’t gain any curious glance as he shimmied over to the adjacent balcony. He didn’t want to knock on the window.  No telling if she was alone, so he slid the glass aside and let himself in much as he had before.  After all, he’d left his tea unfinished.


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Re: Friend or Foe (closed)
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2015, 08:51:14 am »
For a long moment Angel sat motionless on the floor. She took a long breath in, drawing in the lingering scent of Reed’s cologne.  Even though he’d run back to his apartment, strangely there was comfort in the fading aroma.

In an animated motion she shook her head, bringing herself back to reality. Darian would return at some point –  he figured there was something of value in the pictures she’d taken the night before, now it was her purpose to figure out what it was.

Angel scrambled to her feet and over to where her glass’ had bounced to a stop on the rug. She didn’t bother to take even a second to survey for any damage but rather slid them on her nose mid-run to the closet hiding the tattletale pictures.

Gathering the evidence, then half running to the adjoining bedroom, Angel tossed the negatives and photos onto a large wooden desk that took over the back corner of the room. What was that sound?  She stopped abruptly, craning her neck she strained to hear more but there was nothing. The apartment door was locked, and there were no heavy knocks, so she turned her attention back to the task at hand.

Before viewing the photos once again, she reached to a container that sat on the floor next to the desk. Unlatching the lid, Angel allowed the metal rectangular cap fall to the floor. The acrid stench of bleach filled the small space but she hardly noticed.

Quickly, one by one, Angel viewed each picture under the large magnifying glass that was mounted to one corner of the desk. She no longer felt the fatigue that plagued her early from being up all night but her eyes did feel the strain from the long hours, yet in truth the advancement of her eye issues had her using the magnifier more than she liked to admit.

The first twenty or so pictures she was sure were not what the officer was looking for, although the subject matter raised questions and for that she couldn’t risk them being seen by anyone else. A sad smile formed across her lips....unscripted pictures were the best, they showed emotion that would otherwise been kept hidden. The late night street lights had added a soft glow to Reed’s features and the zoom lens brought in a nice close up. Angel lingered a little too long on the one picture before bending down and adding it to the toxic mixture in the opened container. After each group of pictures she slid into the solution, she paired it with the corresponding negative. There would be nothing left to see.
Six negatives left....5 pictures.

She vaguely remembered dropping some in the other room, though not picking any up,  and also the familiar feeling of dread that washed over her when she looked at the photos the first time. Angel took a step back from the desk, as if distance would keep her safe from the unknown.

Beau

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Re: Friend or Foe (closed)
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2015, 05:53:01 am »
He’d like to think that he knew his neighbor.  At least, he figured he was a good judge of character, and he had enough emotional intelligence to know how she ticked.  He was a slave to observation.  Gut instinct told him that Angel was in trouble.

And yet, she wasn’t acting like a damsel in distress. Reed noted that she no longer hovered near the front door, waiting to be bullied.  Rather, went through calculated motions of destruction.  Her concentration was so absolute that she seemed not to notice she was being watched. 

She hadn’t been difficult to find.  The apartment was larger than his, but she was making enough noise that he’d simply followed the sound of rustling papers until he stood in the connecting doorway.  He’d been standing on the threshold long enough to know she was destroying the photographs.  The one he’d taken felt like it was burning a hole in his back pocket. 

Only when she stood and took a step away did he think he might have been discovered. He reached out and rapped his knuckles on the open door, the sound intending to announce his presence.  “Hey,” the smirk ever present, “What ya doing?”

Without invitation he walked into the room and over to where she stood.  There was a window here.  Faint flashes of red and blue hinted that the police car was still parked on the street below, but the sheer drapes were closed and he decided not to venture over and pull them aside to confirm that her “friend” hadn’t left yet.

“Sorry about leaving earlier.  I heard my partner in the hall.”  A bit of sleight of hand and the pilfered photo joined the stack, only to be slid out and displayed like a playing card.  “That’s him.”  Maybe she already knew that? 

He’d wait for her to explain why she was taking random photos of people.  He could see that there was at least one of himself in the stack.  The smile on his face was falsely bright.  “You like blond haired men?”  He picked up the photo and held it up to the light. “Not exactly my best side.”  Not that her work wasn’t good.  “And it reminds me I still need to get that haircut.”

Reed glanced around the room.  He hadn’t been in here before.  It was nice.  Feminine.  Except for the chemical smell…His nose wrinkled. “You still want some tea?”

He went to the hall and tossed back over his shoulder, "He'll be back you know."  Reed knew that type too.  "You'll have to give him something.  Dog's like bones."
« Last Edit: August 17, 2015, 06:10:20 am by Beau »