Secrets of Apple Grove Ch. 01


The chronological order of my stories is as follows:

Todd & Melina series, Interludes 1-5, Sperm Wars series, Russian Roulette series, Case of the Murdered Lovers series, Case of the Murdered Chessplayer series, The Swap series, Interludes 6-10, The Murdered Football Player Series, Case of the Black Widow series, Teresa’s Christmas Story, The Case of the Black Badge series, A Case of Revenge series, Teresa’s Summer Race, The Trilogy series, Dark Side Of The Force series, Caught In The Act series, The Phyllis Files 1-2, Case of the Murdered Bride series, The Credit Card Caper series, The Phyllis Files 3, The Hot Wives Investment Club series, Seriously Inconvenienced series, Case of the Paper Trail series, Christmas Mystery Theater, The Porno Set Mystery series, The Medical Murder Mystery series, The Eightfold Fence series, The Phyllis Files 4, Pale Morning Light series, Silverfish series, Cold As Ice series.
Secrets of Apple Grove, Ch. 01
Secrets of Apple Grove, Ch. 01

Feedback and constructive criticism is very much appreciated, and I encourage feedback for ideas.

This story contains graphic scenes, language and actions that might be extremely offensive to some people. These scenes, words and actions are used only for the literary purposes of this story. The author does not condone murder, racial language, violence, rape or violence against women, and any depictions of any of these in this story should not be construed as acceptance of the above.

Part 1 – Prologue

“This is Bettina Wurtzburg, KXTC Channel Two News!” blared the lovely redheaded reporterette from outside City Hall at exactly 7:00am on Thursday, April 9th. “Channel Two News has learned that the Town & County Council will meet next Tuesday, April 14th, to make their final decision on who will become the next Town & County Police Chief!”

“Just tell us now, Bettina.” said Cindy Ross sarcastically, as we all watched in the MCD room and drank our coffee. I chuckled at her comment, but everyone else remained silent as they listened.

Onscreen, Bettina said “The Council will meet again on April 21st for the second reading of the bill that will name the next Police Chief. Chief Antonio Griswold retired at the end of last year, and Commander Donald Troy has been Acting Chief during the interim, with Sheriff Daniel Allgood keeping a close eye on the Department during this transitional period.”

“In other words, The Commander’s babysitter.” Tanya Perlman said, grinning at me. I wagged a finger at her.

“Despite some efforts to draft him to the post,” Bettina continued, “Commander Troy denies having any interest in being promoted to the Chief position, and has repeatedly stated that he should not be offered and would not accept the permanent post at this time. Frontrunners for the position include Precinct 3 Captain Susan Weston, newly brevetted Captain Harold Bennett, and two outsiders, Captain Sean Moynahan of the Midtown Police Force, and Captain Tony Sugo of the Southport Police. In other news…”

“Wow, Molly’s boss?” Cindy said. “Does he want to come up here?”

“Possibly.” I said. “Some things are going on in the Midtown P.D. that a lot of officers there don’t really like. For example, Molly was supposed to be considered for the Lieutenant position in her group, but that got put on hold. Maybe ‘Cav’ Moynahan sees writing on certain walls.”

I then added “But those outsiders are just being interviewed as a courtesy. The Council wants to promote from within.”

Chuck Pringle’s Sports report was now on the TV, a taped discussion of the University football team’s Spring practices that were underway. Most of us were tuned out of the news as Martin Nash asked “So, Commander, how is your new house coming along?”

“Great!” I said. “Ahead of schedule. We’re looking at a mid-May housewarming party if all goes well and the weather holds up.”

“Which it never does.” replied Tanya Perlman. “But it’ll be nice having those house lights back on the mountain top where they belong.”

I could not have agreed more.

Part 2 – Duty and Honor

At 9:30 that morning, I received a telephone call in my office. I recognized the name of the editor of the newspaper of the town in which Teresa Croyle had grown up, the man who’d helped me get that photo of Teresa and her sister that had meant so much to making Teresa the best Vice Lieutenant in the State (yes, I’m biased about that).

After exchanging greetings, he got to his point: the Shady Acres Rest Home had been trying to find and contact Teresa. He told me why, and I said I would pass on the information. I then made two phone calls, one to Cindy Ross, before making a third.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Come on in, Lieutenant Croyle.” I said when Teresa popped her head in the door of my office. Cindy Ross was already sitting in one chair, and I pointed at the other for Teresa to sit down, which she did.

“Teresa,” I said, using her first name to let her know this wasn’t a normal police business meeting, “I have some mobil porno news from your home town. The Shady Acres institution has been looking to contact you, and ended up finding me. The news is that your father is very near death. They wanted you to know while there is still time, but there is not much time at all.”

Teresa had a strange look on her face, as I expected, and her words were not unexpected either: “So what? I have no father, and haven’t for many years.”

“Yes,” I said, “I know of your past history, there. But I do want you to think about something. When your father dies, someone needs to take care of those final things. You could just leave it to the rest home and they’ll take care of it… with no regard for him as a human being. You may not feel any love for your father, Teresa, but I hope you’ll think about going home, at least to bury him with dignity.”

“Thank you for telling me, sir.” Teresa said. “May I go?”

“Not yet.” I said. “I’ll just say one more thing. There may come a time in your future when you look back upon this moment. If you go to your father and do the right thing by him, take the high road and take care of things, you won’t regret it… because it was the right thing to do. If you don’t… you may not regret it now, but then again you just might sometime down the road, and you don’t get do-overs on things like this.”

My words were not having much effect, so I said “If you need to talk to a Chaplain, let me know. Dismissed.” Teresa got up to leave, and Cindy was right behind her upon my nodding to her.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Don’t get in a mood with me.” Cindy warned as she and Teresa sat down in her office. Cindy had seen the look on her friend’s face plenty enough times to know what was behind Teresa’s thoughts. “I’m sure some bad memories are coming up, but take a breath before you say anything.”

“You’re right.” Teresa said. “I know the Commander meant well in telling me, but I wish he hadn’t. If my father had died without me ever knowing, that would’ve been just fine.”

“No, it wouldn’t be.” said a voice, a male voice. The visitor had not bothered to knock, and had just strolled into the room. Cindy was about to say something unpleasant, then recognized who it was. It was Don’s nephew, Todd Burke.

“I’ll let you talk to her, Todd.” Cindy said, getting up and leaving the office, wondering how in the hell Todd knew to be here at this moment, when he was most needed. She had no way of knowing that a certain uncle had called a certain nephew, anticipating Teresa’s thoughts and (lack of) actions.

Todd sat down next to Teresa on the loveseat sofa and said “How are you feeling, babydoll?”

“Not good.” Teresa said, staring forward, looking miserable. “You wouldn’t understand.”

“Try me.” Todd said. “I understand a lot. I haven’t had the greatest relationship with my mother for some time, either. But I’ll do the right thing when she passes on, and so will Uncle Don… because it’s the right thing to do.”

“You know,” Todd said, pretending to reminisce as Teresa looked stonily forward, “I never could understand why Uncle Don went to my brother Ned’s funeral. That bastard tried to kill Uncle Don, did kill Jeanine’s husband, made a lot of people’s lives holy hell. But Uncle Don went anyway, and I finally realized it was because Uncle Don understands ‘duty’.”

Todd continued: “The Japanese have a word for it: giri. One translation of it is ‘the duty hardest to bear’. I felt it when I knew I had to go tell my mom in State Prison that Ned was dead. It was my duty. I know we’re not Japanese, Teresa, but you’re conflicted inside because you know you have a sense of duty, and it conflicts with your hatred of your father. Let go of that hate, Teresa, and do your duty.”

Teresa looked up at Todd, anger in her face. Todd held her look, matching it, wondering in his own mind how he was sensing what she felt. Is this how Uncle Don and my grandmother do what they do? he thought to himself.

Todd finished up, his words a battering ram upon Teresa’s very soul: “And there is one more thing: your father is your sister’s father, and if you don’t want to respect your father in his final time, at least take care of things for your sister’s sake. It’s what she would want you to do.”

Teresa’s face changed at the mention of her sister, and as Todd’s words were finally absorbed into her brain. “You’re right.” she said. “I better go tell the Commander and get authorized to take leave.”

“Want me to go with you? To your home town?” Todd asked.

“Thanks, but no.” Teresa said. “This is my… ‘giri’.” Todd smiled his brilliant smile and took Teresa into his arms in the warm hug that she most very much needed at that very moment.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“But Don,” Cindy said in the privacy of my office, “I shouldn’t be away when either of my Lieutenants are on leave.”

“It’ll be fine.” I said. “I’ll put Tanya in the hot seat for a while, having her do your job, and I’ll mofos porno keep an eye on things, as well. I already am, what with Sharples’s antics and all that shit.”

I bore down: “Look, Cindy, you’re Teresa’s best friend, just about her only true friend. She’s going to need someone to lean on, and I’ve already authorized the leave time for both of you. Now scoot! That is not a request, Lieutenant.”

“Yes sir.” Cindy said, inwardly elated at Don’s decision. She made a mental note to herself that she should always take care of her people as well as the Iron Crowbar took care of his. True leadership, this man has.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Later that afternoon, Cindy and Teresa met back at Headquarters, having gone home to pack bags for their trip. I had a surprise for them.

“Your car is here to take you to the airport.” I said at the door of Cindy’s office.

“What?” Cindy said. “We’re going to drive to the City and take the next flight, which is this evening.”

“Would you stop arguing with your boss and get your ass moving?” I said. “You too, Teresa.” The women followed me out into the secure employees parking lot, where a big black SUV awaited. Cindy noted the Federal Government tags on the vehicle.

“Y’all have a good trip.” I said as I ushered them into the vehicle and firmly closed the door with the tight finality of sealed metal.

Inside the vehicle, the women saw that they were not the only passengers. Dr. Laura Fredricson was in the SUV with them. The SUV pulled out of the parking lot and headed north, to the County Airport.

“What’s this about?” Cindy asked Laura.

“I’ve arranged transportation for you to Teresa’s hometown. Faster than the commercial flights and renting a car could get your there.” Laura said. “Teresa, your father’s condition is extremely grave, he might not live another full day.”

“Thank you.” Teresa said woodenly. “But you didn’t have to do anything.”

Laura gave a brief smile. “I had your airline tickets cancelled with no cancellation fee, and your credit card credited back for the fare. There is a local airport near your hometown, and there will be a rental car waiting for you there. Make sure to inspect the car for sabotage before driving it… under the tire wells and such stuff.”

Cindy just nodded. Obviously this was being done for her and Teresa’s security, she realized. Teresa was too absorbed in other thoughts to be paying any real attention.

They reached the airport, where a sparkling new Learjet was waiting at the terminal. There were no markings on the jet, but Cindy observed the number on the tail and realized that it was not privately owned… it was an Air Force aircraft!

Cindy realized that Laura was doing this in her capacity as a Deputy Director of the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology. But why? she wondered silently, then realized that this was part of the security plan. Something beyond intuition told her that Don was behind all this, again taking care of his people. But were these measures really necessary? she thought to herself.

Laura ushered Cindy and Teresa inside, gave the pilot his destination instructions, and then wished the two policewomen Godspeed in their journey before disembarking. Cindy and Teresa were agog at the luxurious comfort of the aircraft as it taxied onto the runway.

Seconds later, the Learjet roared down the runway and into the air. As they circled around to fly west, Cindy looked out the window, at the Town below them. It was always strange how the Town looked so different from the air than from the ground, she noted.

A young woman in an Air Force uniform came from the back and asked them if she could get them a drink. Cindy ordered single-malt Scotch. “And make hers a double.” she said, pointing her thumb at Teresa.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Laura watched the CIA plane as it flew west, becoming a smaller and smaller speck until it vanished into the clouds. I came up beside her.

“Thank you, sweetheart,” I said, “for doing this for me.”

“Don’t mention it, darling.” my wife replied. “As you said, they’ll be safer this way. Much safer. Besides… what good is it being a Deputy Director in the CIA if I can’t order a plane ride every once in a while?” I just smiled, then suggested that we go have a late lunch somewhere, and that we call Todd and ask him to join us.

Part 3 – Sins Of The Father

“Okay, Tanya, you’re ‘Crowbar 2’ for a few days.” I said. It was getting late in the afternoon and we’d be going home soon.

Tanya grinned her cherubic grin, then cackled. “Ah, power, real power!” she said with another evil cackle. “First the Chief’s chair, then I’ll rule the world!”

“Careful,” I said, “or the Council might really make you Chief.”

“Moohahaha!” Tanya said, rubbing her hands as she continued the joke. “You will be my personal sex slave when that happens!…” Neither of us could hold back; we broke down laughing hard.

“Speaking of the Chief’s position,” naughty america porno Tanya said, “who is it going to be?”

“You tell me.” I said. “Observe and deduce.”

“You know who it will be?”

“I’d bet the mortgage on The Cabin.” I answered. “So, think about it and tell me who you conclude it will be.”

Tanya thought for a long minute, then the dawn of understanding came into her eyes. “Ohhhh… they just brevetted Harold Bennett to Captain, but didn’t really give him a position.”

“You’re on the ball.” I said. “He’s been a top candidate for a long time. The Sheriff nominated him before the Council, and do I even need to tell you who suggested his name to the Sheriff?”

Tanya grinned. “No, of course it was you.” she said. “So you think he’ll be the right guy for the post?”

“Yep.” I said. Harold Bennett was tall, though not as tall as me, and fairly slender in build. He was in his mid-fifties, but his hair was already white. That came from 25 years in the military, rising to E-8 (Master Sergeant) and being a First Sergeant in an Armored Division unit. He then joined the TCPD, and in his 12 years had done numerous duties, from Senior Patrolman and quickly to Sergeant, then to Administration in Supply and then Physical Properties, becoming a Lieutenant quickly but remaining there for several years.

He was fairly soft-spoken, thoughtful, sometimes grandfatherly, but he definitely could be a tough man if he needed to be. I had a lot of respect for him, having had several conversations with him since I arrived, and he and Captain Charles had been very good friends, which meant he was a superlative Police Officer. Captain Charles was a tough and accurate judge of such things. Captain Charles deeply hated Robert Brownlee.

“I asked Chief Griswold about it,” I told Tanya, “and he said there was probably no better choice right now, especially to watch over me, your friendly neighborhood Iron Crowbar.”

“Think he’ll let you do your job, or will he interfere like Brownlee tries to?” Tanya asked.

“I think he’s going to do the Chief’s job very well.” I said. “He’ll let me do my job, but it will be his Police Force, and no mistaking it. I’ve already told him that I’m very aware of that and will support him as he has every right to expect if he’s named Chief.”

“There is one other thing that is worrying me.” Tanya said. “It’s about Cindy– er, Lieutenant Ross. She’s doing a great job, but Brownlee is really looking for ways to smoke her like a cheap cigar. I’m just concerned that if you’re not around, if you’re doing something for the SBI or FBI, Brownlee will fuck with all of us, and especially her.”

“Miss Perlman.” I said, staring hard at her. “Are you suggesting that I am allowing the grass to grow under my feet?”

Tanya got it. She just grinned that beautiful cherubic grin of hers, knowing that I had something in mind. Something really good in mind, I thought to myself with an inward smile.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The sun was low in the sky as the rental car drove up to Shady Acres Rest Home. The car had been waiting for them at the local airport, and Cindy’s examination of it found no problems.

They walked into the facility and Teresa asked for her father’s room. The receptionist seemed surprised that anyone was asking for him, and she asked who Teresa was. When Teresa said she was his daughter, the receptionist was totally shocked. “He said his daughter died years ago.”

“That was my sister.” Teresa said. The receptionist then called up the head nurse, who came up.

“Ah yes,” the nurse said, “our records showed your existence, but we never knew how to contact you. I must tell you that your father is dying. You got here just in time.” With that she led the women down several corridors to the door of a small room. Teresa looked at Cindy, who just nodded. They went inside.

The sunlight of the dying day was streaming into the window on the far side of the room, giving it a seemingly abnormal, yellowish brightness. To the left was the bed, and on it was an emaciated man. He looked much older than his age, and it was clear he was near his final destiny. There was some machinery between the bed and the far wall, which included a heartbeat monitor.

As Teresa looked down upon her father for the first time since the night her sister Alexis had died, the night he had set fire to their home, the old man stirred. Cindy noted that his eyes were the exact color and brightness as his daughter’s.

“Sarah…. Sarah, is that you?” he asked as he saw Teresa. Sarah was the name of Teresa’s mother, who had died in childbirth when Teresa was born.

“No, Daddy, it’s me, Teresa.”

“Teresa? She’s gone, Sarah.” said the old man, and both women realized he did not have possession of his mental faculties. “Teresa is gone. Alexis is gone. They’re all gone.”

“Daddy, it’s me, Teresa. I’m here.” Teresa said. “Don’t you remember?”

“Sarah… ” the old man said, tears forming in his eyes. “Teresa looked just like you… every time… every time I looked at her, I saw you… I… I wanted to love her, but every time… I saw her… I saw you… and you were gone… you were gone when she was born… I wanted… to love her… but I couldn’t… oh Sarah, I’m so sorry… I wanted to…”

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