Thanks to the Hip and Knee doctor for editing assistance.
It should have been light enough by now to turn off the headlights, but the clouds and the rain had taken command of the situation. It wasn't a heavy rain; more of a dark drizzle, but enough to keep the wiper going. The rain didn't bother me because I would go fishing in any weather, as long as the water wasn't frozen. It was a habit that I had adopted six years ago, after my two kids left for college.
My married life took a turn for the worse at that time. For years, I had anticipated the children leaving so that Marci and I could spend a little quality time together, if you get my drift. Marci went the other way. After the kids were gone, she found new interests and new friends that didn't include me. Of course, being the trusting fool that I was, I initially never imagined that it was anything more than that. Luckily, I found out before it was too late.
"Danny! Danny! Wake up we are almost there."
Danny Greene, my passenger and fishing companion for the day, let out a loud groan as he raised his head from the side of the truck window. After a few more grunts and groans, he reached for the thermos on the dashboard.
"You are crazy, Terry. I have no idea why I let you talk me into this. I only get two Saturdays off a month and you had to insist that I go fishing with you today. Why today? You know that I hate fishing."
I was smiling to myself as I watched Danny spill more coffee on his lap than he got into the cup. That resulted in a colorful stream of cuss words as he struggled to wipe himself off and at the same time try not to spill any more.
"It's special, Danny. I'll explain it all to you after we get out on the lake. I absolutely needed you with me today."
Danny and I grew up together. He was now a Detective with the Madison City Police Department and I was an assistant director at the Department of Parks and Recreation. We both were fairly happy with our jobs and our lives in general. We were not, what you would call the closest friends, but we were close enough to go fishing together.
Ten minutes later, the rain had relented just enough so that we could launch the boat without getting completely drenched. Danny was still cussing and groaning as we pulled away from the ramp and headed for fishing waters. As to be expected, we had the lake all to ourselves. Nobody else was crazy enough to go out on a day like this.
The coffee was gone, so all we had to drink was the beer in the cooler. Danny looked in the cooler and then changed his mind. Although it wasn't actually raining, it was damp and miserable; not really beer weather.
I just brought some night crawlers and a little bit of mush along; no minnows today. After drifting into a quiet little cove we both baited up and dropped in a couple of lines. Danny got as comfortable as possible under the circumstances and stared me straight in the eye. He didn't have to say anything; I knew what he wanted.
"Danny, I brought you along today because I need to get an alibi fish".
That got his attention. "What the hell is an alibi fish?"
It was not an easy thing to explain. Now that I thought about it, it would probably sound stupid as well. Of course when I planned all of this, I thought it was brilliant.
"Danny, I have to be able to prove that I was here today; fishing. I need you to verify this and I need the fish to prove that you are not lying for me, just because we are friends."
My friend gave me an exasperated look as he reached into the cooler. I didn't think he was going after the beer to cool off, but rather to be able to wrap his head around my ridiculous explanation. He gave me a weird look and waved his hand at me, indicated that he wanted to hear more, as he twisted off the cap. I didn't respond. I went for the ice chest and got a longneck for myself. It was too cool for beer, but we both had one anyway.
"Do you remember Hannah Marshall?"
"Yeah. She married that trucker from Paxton. Big brute that everybody said used to run with the Devil Dogs."
"Roscoe Boucher. They got married about eight years ago."
"So what does Hannah Marshall, urhh Boucher, have to do with your alibi fish?"
"About two years ago, Marci started to hang out with Hannah. At first, I just thought it was girl stuff, you know, shopping and having lunch and things like that."
"Go on, go on. Where are you taking this Terry?"
"Danny, I ain't the smartest guy in town, but it didn't take me long to figure out that Marci was running around on me."
"I don't want to get involved with this Terry. I am not going to stick my nose into your personal problems."
"Hold on! Hold on! I am not asking you to stick your nose into my married life. All I want you to do is to verify that I was here with you today and that we have obtained the fish to prove it."
"The alibi fish?"
"Right. Without the fish, anything that you say might be suspect."
Danny finished his beer, but didn't go for another one.
"Damn it Terry. I think you are watching too many detective shows on TV. That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of. If I say that we were together fishing this morning, that should be the end of it."
"I will feel better if we had the fish."
I heard a groan come from my fishing partner as he pulled in his line. While he was putting on a fresh worm, he tilted his head sideways to look at me.
"You haven't told me why we are here, Terry. You still haven't told me why you need an alibi."
I hit the trolling motor for about five seconds to allow us to drift closer to the pads near the shore.
"I started to get seriously interested in what Marci was doing, but I didn't know what to do about it. She isn't big on using the computer for anything, so I discarded the idea of trying to track any activity there. Marci loved her cell phone, but I had no idea how I could get any information by monitoring her calls. Hell, I wouldn't know how to do it if I wanted to."
"Okay. I get it. You're a technical klutz. What did you do?"
"I got three voice-activated digital recorders at Radio Shack. I put one in the kitchen, one in the living room, and the last one in the bedroom. I had to move the one in the kitchen three times so that it wouldn't pick up noise from the refrigerator and the other appliances."
"Since we are here under these peculiar circumstances, I have to assume that this idea worked for you."
"Yes. All I found out the first couple of weeks is that Marci and Hannah were seeing two guys on a regular basis. That bothered me so much that I didn't listen to any more recordings for about a week."
"Did you find out who they were?"
"Hannah was seeing a guy named Simon who worked at the Power Lift Gym over on Bleeker Drive. I never got his last name."
"We have had some problems over at that place. It is not the kind of establishment where housewives typically go to do aerobics. What about Marci?"
"Do you know a guy named Carmen that works at Monsano Motors?"
"Carmen Cambria?" Oh boy, are you lucky. That guy is trouble, big time. We have been trying to nail him for years now. How the hell did Marci hook up with him?"
"I have no idea, but it looks as if they have been seeing each other for almost a year."
Danny grabbed two bottles out of the chest and tossed me one.
"Okay, Terry. So now I know that Marci is cheating on you with Carmen Cambria, but I still don't know why you need an alibi."
"Most of the time the conversations that I pick up between Hannah and Marci are not of any importance. Last Tuesday, when I got home, the recording from the living room was a little different. I made a couple of copies of it, and put one aside for you."
I stopped talking for a moment as I watched one of my bobbers jiggle around on top of the water. It stopped moving so I started talking again.
"Why don't I just play it for you?"
(Recording) "We have to do it on Saturday. Terry always goes fishing on Saturday and he goes alone. That means that he won't have an alibi."
"Saturday sounds good to me, but we have to get it done early, before Roscoe wakes up."
"I'll give Terry's gun to Carmen right after Terry leaves to go to the lake. I figure he can get over to your place about 8 O'clock. Is that early enough?"
"That will be great. Roscoe will still be dead to the world. He doesn't start to move till about noon on Saturday."
"Carmen said he will shoot him once in the head and once in the heart, just like they do in the movies. He will wipe off his prints and then leave the gun by the body. You can call 911 and report an intruder. By the time the cops get there, Carmen will be back over here."
"Are you sure they will be able to trace the gun back to Terry?"
"Absolutely! He bought the gun from a friend of his who is a detective. It is registered and easily traceable. Terry won't have anybody to claim he was fishing with him, since he always goes alone."
"Just in case, Simon will be down in Atlantic City until late Sunday."
"I can tell the police that Carmen was with me all morning, if it becomes necessary. It is time to put this charade to an end anyhow."
"Wow, I hope that all of this works out. I'll get two million in insurance money and you can watch Terry go to jail for a long, long time."
"Hey girl. We got to go. Kohls opens in ten minutes."
Danny stopped drinking his beer and just stared at me.
"I never heard anything so stupid in all my life."
"What do you mean?"
"Are you sure that they weren't pulling your chain, or setting you up?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, maybe they found one of the recorders and knew that you were listening in, so they staged this little discussion to mislead you."
"I guess. Anything is possible. Actually, I didn't go to the police or call you earlier because I wasn't sure myself."
Danny finished his longneck and stuck it in the trash bucket.
"Are they talking about the Beretta that I sold you three years ago?"
"Must be. It is the only gun that I own. Hell, I never even shot the thing. It just sits in the night table by my bed all the time."
"Terry. If this is for real it will get nasty."
"You do realize that if you knew that murder was going to be committed and did nothing to stop it, you could be considered an accessory?"
"Who was I going to tell? Who would have believed me? I played the tape for you and you don't even believe it, and you are my friend."
"So you did nothing?"
"No! No! Last night after Marci was asleep, I took the Berretta out to the garage and disabled it."
"Yeah. I fixed it so that it wouldn't fire."
My fishing partner left out a long sigh. "Well, that's a relief. I feel a lot better about the situation now. Good move Terry."
We still hadn't caught a fish. Danny pulled in one line and took off the bobber. I watched as he fastened a lead sinker on the bottom and put a mush ball on the hook. He flipped it into the channel and fed out line until it hit bottom. Two minutes later, he pulled a foot long sucker into the boat.
"Okay, good buddy. We got your alibi fish. Let's get the hell out of here. I have a feeling that I am going to get a phone call very shortly if your recording wasn't a sham."
We were driving for about twenty minutes when Danny started verbally pounding on me again.
"Terry, I can't believe that you let this thing get so convoluted. It sounds like some sort of weird urban legend tale that you would read on the Internet. Nothing makes sense."
"Ah, come on. It's not that unbelievable is it? It could happen."
"I don't think so. It is the worst planned crime of the century. Nobody would be stupid enough to try something like that. I can't believe you fell for it."
"Okay mister know-it-all. If the conversation was a set up, what were they trying to get me to do? Did they want me to call the police? Did they want me to warn Roscoe? Did they want me to confront Carmen? Hell, maybe Marcie just wanted me to leave and file for divorce. Why would they set something like that up?"
"I don't know. I just can't believe any of it. Why would they leave a gun, that was wiped clean of fingerprints if they were trying to frame somebody? What about GSR and DNA. This is not the twentieth century. We have technology now to clarify all of this evidence."
"Hah! Now who is watching too much TV? Before they can get all of that stuff straightened out, I will be rotting away in a jail cell."
Danny was just starting to crack a smile when his cell phone rang or whatever they do.
"Detective Greene. What's up?"
As Danny listened to the phone call, I noticed he silently voiced the words; "Oh shit."
"Okay. Give me the exact address, but it will probably take me ten minutes or so to get there. Keep everybody at the house and don't move anything unless it is absolutely necessary."
Danny turned the phone off and leaned back in his chair. "I take it that you know the way to Roscoe and Hannah's place?"
Five minutes later he looked over at me. "Stop smiling, you smart-assed son-of-a-bitch. It's not funny."
I was still grinning when we pulled up at the house. Danny quickly stopped the EMT guys while they were wheeling a gurney out to the van. As he looked over the occupant he shook his head in disbelief. An officer in plain clothing approached him and they were soon in a deep conversation, with lots of arm waving and indistinguishable shouting. There were at least four Black-and-White units on the street with their lights flashing.
Danny waved me over as they started walking towards the house.
"Detective Wallace, this is Terry Connor. Terry, Don Wallace."
As I shook his hand, he casually commented; "Oh, you are the guy who owns the gun?" It was a comment sort of posed as a question.
Danny stopped and turned to him. "Wallace. Who told you that it was Terry's gun?"
Don Wallace seemed a little uncomfortable at the question. "It was Mrs. Boucher. I asked her who the owner of the gun was, and she said Terry Connor without hesitating."
"Don, how did she know that?"
"I don't understand?"
"How did Hannah Boucher know that that gun belonged to Terry Connor?"
"I am not sure."
"Have somebody take her down to the station. We have a lot of talking to do."
Detective Wallace went into the house. Danny glanced back at the EMT vehicle as it was leaving.
"I couldn't catch much, Danny, but he looked to be in bad shape from what I could see. Is Roscoe going to be okay?"
"Roscoe? Roscoe is fine. That bloody mess on the way to the hospital is Carmen Cambria."
"Terry, I thought you said you disabled the gun?"
"I did. Hell it took me about two hours."
"What the hell did you do to it?"
"I drilled a small hole in the barrel and then forced a bolt into it. It seemed to be blocking the barrel pretty well when I finished. I burned through four drill bits getting that hole done. Why?"
"Why didn't you just take out the firing pin?"
"I didn't know how to do that."
Danny sighed deeply and gave me a small grin. "It seems that Carmen decided to wake Roscoe up just before shooting him. I guess it was some kind of macho thing. Anyhow, when Carmen pointed it at Roscoe's head and pulled the trigger, it exploded and blew half of his hand off. He lost his thumb and two fingers. It only took a few seconds for Roscoe to figure out what was going on. He was still beating on Carmen five minutes later when the police finally arrived. They had to hit him with a TASER to pull him off."
"Well, I sort of disabled it. It didn't truly fire."
"Geeze, Terry. I can't believe all of this."
As we walked into the house, Detective Wallace was bringing out Hannah in hand cuffs. I guess he figured something out. Danny looked over at Wallace as he passed. "Go by 321 David Drive and pick up Marci Connor also. And whatever you do, don't let the two of them get together. Use two cars."