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Confrontations

grn_bt.jpg (687 bytes) April 8, 1995 - Saturday
grn_bt.jpg (687 bytes) Confronting Stewart

The news was all over the morning paper. It big black letters on the front of the Carroll County Times.

SERIAL KILLER CAUGHT?

The article was a bunch of gibberish about what had happened in the case to date. The only new information was what had been broadcast on last night's evening news.

The morning paper had been passed around the kitchen table while Alan made breakfast for his two guests. Cold cereal, specifically Alpha-bits and bagels with cream cheese.

Alan sat down at the table to eat, only glancing at the paper. He was hurting, and did not need a reminder of what had happened. He was going to live with one for the rest of his life.

"I have some things I need to take care of this morning." Alan said. "At eleven I have to go to Taylor funeral home and work out the details for Nora's cremation."

"Do you want company?" Ryan asked.

"No. I'd rather do this one by myself, if you don't mind."

"It's okay Alan." Ryan said, remembering that eventually, he would have to acknowledge the fact the his own father had already been cremated, and that the ashes were waiting for him at another funeral home.

Jarrod address Ryan. "Do you think you might be able to drive me somewhere this morning?"

"Sure, where do you need to go."

"Pizza-To-Go." Jarrod replied. Ryan and Alan stared at him.

Alan asked, "Why do you need to go there?"

"There's some personal stuff in my locker there that I haven't gotten yet." Jarrod replied. "Most of my insurance information. I'm going to need it if I want to attempt to get another car."

"Of course." Alan said. "Sorry. I couldn't fathom a reason why anybody would want to go there ever again."

"In, out." Jarrod said. "Will take me a total of ten seconds."

"Do you still have a key?" Ryan asked in surprise.

"Yeah, its at the dorm room. We might have to stop there too."

"I was planning to go anyway." Ryan said. "I don't have any clothes here."

"Me neither." Jarrod added. "I need my laptop too. In a weird sort of way. I miss it."

Ryan laughed. Alan merely chuckled. It was going to be hard to make him laugh for a while.

He needed to take care of business before he would start to feel the hurt.

When breakfast was over, Alan left for the funeral home. Ryan and Jarrod picked up some things from the dorm room and drove to the 140 Village, where the Pizza-To-Go building stood. Alone and empty.

"It looks like a ghost." Ryan said looking at the building from his car as he parked in the spot designated for the owner, Stewart. Ryan looked at Jarrod and smiled. "I've always wanted to park here!"

"Ha, Stewart would have had a cow!"

"Pffft, do you think I care? Stewart can go to hell and French kiss the devil himself!" Ryan spat.

Jarrod produced a key. "Lets get this over with. You coming with?"

"Yeah, why not." They got out of the car and entered through the side door the drivers used to use for deliveries. The building was the same, as if it were never abandoned. Only it smelled different.

Ryan looked at Jarrod. "Do you smell something weird?"

"Yeah, what is it?" He asked in response.

"I'm not sure." Ryan said. "Maybe its just what an unused building smells like when it sits for a while."

"No." Jarrod insisted. "It's not that. It smells familiar."

Jarrod looked worried.

 

 

On the other side of the parking lot, a man on a motorcycle was watching Ryan and Jarrod pull up to the building. They got out of the car and entered through the side door.

"Shit!" He hissed, gearing the bike to life and closing the visor on his helmet. He scurried across the parking lot and darted behind the building, out of sight of Ryan and Jarrod.

 

"You don't look well." Ryan told Jarrod as he was looking around the kitchen. "What the hell is going on with you?"

"It's probably nothing. Let me get my shit and then we can get the fuck out of here. This place is giving me the willies." Jarrod said walking back to the lockers. He spun his combination on the combination lock and opened the door. What he wanted was inside.

He grabbed his shirt and papers and walked away, not even bothering to shut the door. There was a noise in the storage room behind Jarrod. Ryan heard it first and grabbed Jarrod, pulling him away from the door to the storage room.

 

The man jumped off his bike and used a key to open the back door to the storage room. When he walked inside, he tripped over a mop and fell to the ground, knocking a few boxes over.

"Fuck!" He hissed trying to get back up, reaching for the doorknob. He flipped the visor up on his helmet so he could see better.

"What the fuck was that?" A muffled voice said on the other side of the door.

"Stand back." The other said.

The man stood up and grabbed the doorknob. He turned it and pushed the door open.

 

"What the fuck was that?" Jarrod asked petrified. Ryan pushed Jarrod behind him and grabbed a knife from the pile of utensils next to the dishwasher.

"Stand back." Ryan ordered holding the knife out in front of him. Somebody on the other side of the door fumbled with the doorknob. The door swung open and a man in a helmet stood before them.

Jarrod shrieked.

"You have to get out of here!" The voice behind the helmet commanded. "Get out, now!"

"Who are you?" Ryan demanded. The man took his helmet off.

"I fucking knew it!" Ryan snapped. "So, it has come down to this!"

Stewart threw the helmet down to the ground. "Ryan, you don't understand, we have to get the hell out of here, NOW!"

"What?" Ryan asked, completely baffled.

"Don't argue with me, just get OUT!"

"There he is." Ryan told Jarrod. "Mr. Hyde in all his glory!"

"FINE, BE KILLED THEN PUNK!"

 

Linda Webb, who had been released on bail sat in her car and looked at her watch. She was parked next to a corner pay phone at one of the local shopping centers.

It was time. Soon she and Stewart would have enough money to leave the country.

Stewart had arrived at her doorstep last night and told her the whole ugly story about 'scarecrow'. He needed to get the hell out of the country and fast if he was going to be free.

What better way to come into a large chunk of money than collecting insurance on an accident. Say, your business burns down to the ground due to arson?

Stewart had it all planned out. He would start a gas leak in the restaurant and rig the phone to produce a spark when a call came in.

Linda would make that call from a pay phone in another town. Hampstead to be specific, about 13 miles from Westminster.

What either one of them failed to appreciate was that it was not as easy as losing your business and collecting a check. Neither one of them had a clue.

Her watch read eleven o'clock.

She stepped out of her car and walked modestly over to the pay phone, picked up the phone and plunked in a quarter.

 

"Call 911 Jarrod!" Ryan said holding the knife on Stewart, or whoever was in front of them. Jarrod dashed for the phone.

"NO!" Stewart screamed. "YOU'LL MESS UP EVERYTHING."

Jarrod picked the phone up and listened for a dial tone. There was none. "The phones not working." Jarrod sighed as he slammed the receiver back onto the phone.

It fell off the wall and onto the floor.

"FUCK!" Stewart screamed and ran across the kitchen to the phone. Ryan didn't even see it coming. Jarrod jumped out of the way and ran out of the building.

Ryan knew then that Stewart was planning something crooked. He didn't know what, but what ever it was, it wasn't good. He had wanted them out of there very quickly. Why?

"Ryan, get out of there!" Jarrod called from outside. "There's gas leaking in there. That’s what that smell is! GET OUT!"

Ryan bolted for the door while Stewart was scrambling with the phone.

 

Linda heard the quarter fall to the bottom of the phone. Making that familiar sound of one quarter landing on a pile of others.

She dialed the number and waited.

The phone rang once on Linda’s end.

 

Ryan and Jarrod ran across the 140 Village parking lot as fast as they could.

The impact of the explosion knocked them down as the Pizza-To-Go building blew up. They quickly got up to their feet and ran behind another building to avoid being hit by the falling debris. A huge chunk of twisted metal landed in front of them and bounced nearly ten feet away.

It was raining debris. People all over the 140 Village shopping center were screaming and running for cover.

A second gas tank exploded sending fire raining down across the parking lot. Ryan was holding Jarrod underneath his body for cover.

Hadn't they been through enough already?

 

Linda heard the phone ring start to ring a second time. And then a buzzing sound. The line had been disconnected. She hung up the phone and walked to her car.

In the distance, she heard something that resembled light thunder.

"Holy shit." She whispered to herself. "It worked."

 

Ron Blake was sitting at his desk studying the five copies of the photo fragments, pondering who the people might be.

It was almost a giveaway that one must be John Myers. The other was probably Beth.

There was suddenly the rumbling of thunder. Various things in the room shook ever so slightly. A framed picture of his college degree on the wall crashed to the floor.

"What the hell was that?" He asked himself getting up from the desk to look outside the window for storm clouds.

It was a beautiful spring day. Sun shining, not a single cloud in the sky.

Something had happened.

Someone was dead.

 

Detective Ian Perri actually saw it.

He had just tried to contact someone at Alan's house. There was no answer. Nor was there an answer at Ryan's dorm or The Forum newsroom. He decided to go to the college and see if any of them were looming around there.

Perri walked out to his police cruiser and was about to get in when he heard it.

A clap of thunder.

This was not possible as the sky was radiating baby blue.

On the horizon was the mushroom cloud of fire and smoke. Bit of fire were raining down in the all to near distance.

"Jesus H. Christ!" Perri swore hurrying into his car. He flipped on the light and siren and started to drive into Westminster. The explosion appeared to be in the vicinity of the 140 Village Shopping Center which was only a few miles away.

As Perri started to speed down Route 140, a huge chunk of metal crashed into his hood, embedding itself there. Perri screeched to the side of the road. The engine was still running.

That was all that mattered. The car could wait till later. Perri raced towards the 140 Village as fast as the car would go.

 

Alan Kittridge did not hear or see a thing as he waited for the cremation of his wife to be complete.

Tears were streaming down the side of his face.

Nora was gone.

 

Ryan looked around the side of the building to see what was left of Pizza-To-Go. Various shrapnel was still falling from the sky, only not as intense as before. The building was gone.

Ryan did not see his car either.

"Fuck!" He said as Jarrod peeked around the side of the building also. "Looks like were both without wheels now."

"Were lucky to be alive." Jarrod managed. "What the Christ was that about?"

"Stewart was setting something up." Ryan theorized. "For some reason, he was rigging his business to blow up. Looks like it happened a little prematurely."

"Was Stewart still inside?"

"I think so." Ryan sighed. "He couldn't have survived that. Stewart is dead."

"Why would he blow his own business up?" Jarrod asked.

"I don't know." Ryan admitted. "But I have a feeling we're going to find out before to long." Ryan walked around the side of the building back towards the site of the explosion. It was as if a missile had struck the parking lot. There was a huge crater where the building once stood. The gas tanks that blew up had been underground.

"There's your car." Jarrod called out. Ryan looked around to see him pointing out towards Route 140. The force of the blast had blown Ryan's cheap little Corolla onto the traffic island in the middle of the road. It was sitting on it's roof.

However, it was still in one piece.

Traffic had come to a standstill as various pieces of shrapnel had littered the highway. The Pizza-To-Go building was right next to the road. There might be casualties further up. Not to far off in the distance, a police siren could be heard.

Jarrod walked up from behind and surveyed the destruction with Ryan. "Stewart was incinerated." Jarrod mused. "Good. Fucker had it coming."

"It doesn't make sense." Ryan said. "Unless he was setting this up for someone. Clearly it was not meant for us. He was animate about that. I wonder if this was for Adam?"

"Think so?" Jarrod asked.

"It's the only thing that makes sense right now." Ryan figured. "Hmmm."

Perri drove across the traffic island in the middle of Route 140 and into the parking lot where Ryan and Jarrod were standing.

Other people were beginning to approach the scene as Perri jumped out of his car. "What the hell happened?" Perri asked surveying the situation. The sound of massive sirens were approaching.

"I'm not sure." Ryan said. "Actually that's not true at all. I do know what happened, I just don't know why."

"Was anybody hurt?" Perri asked.

Ryan looked around. "I don't know. Nobody I've seen yet."

"Does mentally count?" Jarrod chimed.

"So what happened." Perri repeated.

"Jarrod and I came up here so Jarrod could get some things out of his old locker at Pizza-To-go. We were about to leave when Stewart appeared out of no where and told us we had top get out. I pulled a knife on him for protection and told Jarrod to call 911. Stewart flipped out in his Mr. Hyde personality. The phone wasn't working and fell off the wall. Stewart told us we would ruin the whole thing and tried to fix it.

"We smelled gas when we first got here, but didn't know it was gas. Jarrod figured it out and took off, warning me to do the same. I did, and the place blew up while Stewart was fucking with the phone. That's it."

"Christ almighty." Perri said with deep exasperation. "He blew himself up."

"Yeah, but I don't think he did it on purpose." Ryan said. "I think he was setting this up for someone."

"Adam?"

"I think so."

"But Adam is out of town." Perri said. "Unless Stewart knows he's coming here for some reason."

Ryan asked. "You mean he contacted Adam somehow and told him to meet him here?"

"Yeah, maybe." Perri said. "It's all speculation until the explosion itself is investigated."

A swarm of Westminster City police started to pour into the shopping center, blocking the entrances and exits. State police were working their way through the stalled traffic.

"Excuse me." Ryan said running through the traffic to his car. Jarrod followed as Perri started to investigate the scene. As Ryan was running across the grass he stepped on something that didn't quite feel right. He stopped and lifted his foot to see what it was.

It was a charred piece of Stewart arm with a few fingers missing. He stared at it in amazement. "Holy shit." He said backing away from the fleshy remain. Jarrod saw it and got immediately sick off to one side. "PERRI!" Ryan called. "PERRI, GET OVER HERE!"

Perri looked up at Ryan and started to run across the street. "What is it...Oh Christ. That isn't what I think it is, is it?"

"I think it was Stewart." Ryan gasped.

"Or part of him anyway." Jarrod managed through a cough.

"Well, there's no question now." Perri sighed. "Stewart Boswell is dead. This whole thing may finally be over."

"I hate to say it in lieu of Stewart’s death, but I hope your right." Ryan said. "What a horrible way to go."

"He didn't feel a thing Ryan." Perri assured. Ryan walked to his car and started to inspect it. Perri was on his police radio asking for assistance, and a body bag.

"Jarrod." Ryan called out. "Help me push this thing back on it's wheels." Jarrod joined Ryan at his over turned car.

"Your not seriously thinking of flipping it back over are you?"

"Well, broken windshield and windows aside, it looks like it might actually be drive-able." Ryan said. They started to push the car over onto its side. It practically fell to it's wheels on its own. Ryan opened the hood to check for major leaks. There appeared to be none.

Surprisingly enough, the car started after a few tries. It was going to need new glass, the roof banged back out and some body work. But it was road worthy.

Ryan decided then he would drive it back to his father's house later and drive his dad's Lexus for a while.

Confronting Adam

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