sc_ban.gif (7151 bytes)


grn_bt.jpg (687 bytes) March 27, 1995 - Monday

WAH-WAH-WAH-WAH-WAH.

Ryan slammed his hand down on top of the alarm clock. It was eight o' clock. 'Sink and rust' as Jarrod would say. Ryan had forgot to turn his alarm clock off so he could sleep in. Webb's sociology class had been canceled for Monday while the college scrambled for a new instructor to take his place. In reality, Ryan didn't have to wake up till ten

"Ignore the alarm Jarrod." Ryan groaned. There was no answer, not even a grunt. "Jarrod?"

No answer.

Ryan sat up in bed to survey the situation. Jarrod was not in the room, although his bed looked like it had been slept in. Peculiar. Jarrod up before Ryan? He looked over at the phone machine to see if the red message light was blinking. It was flashing. Once every few seconds indicating that there was one message. Ryan hoped it was a memo from Jarrod.

He stumbled across the room, and pressed the PLAY button on the phone machine.

The message played, it was Jarrod, "Ryan, Tiffany called while you were asleep. She wants you to call her back when you get up. Also, I went to work to get my schedule. When I get back, I'm going to the newspaper office to play on the Internet with my lap top. If you get some time, come see me. Later." Ryan picked up the phone to call Tiffany. The phone rang several times before Melissa picked up.

"Melissa? It's Ryan, is Tiffany there?" he asked.

"Ryan, I'm glad you called. Tiffany's in trouble." she said. "The cops showed up here this morning. They wanted to talk to Tiffany about Professor Webb's murder."

"Where are they?"

"I think they went to the cafeteria."

"I'm on my way." he said throwing the phone into the cradle.

Ryan appeared in the cafeteria wearing only sweat pants and a T-shirt. The casual dress of the college student. Tiffany was sitting in the back, with two other men around her. One was in a suit, the other in uniform. Off to one side was another man, in street clothes. He was not really paying attention as much as he was keeping an eye on the interrogation process. Ryan had seen this man before. He was a well built black man who patrolled the campus on occasion.

"What the hell is going on here?" Ryan called out approaching the table. The black bystander approached him as if to stay away. Tiffany looked up and started crying as the two men questioning her merely glanced his way.

"Sir, this is an official matter." The black man warned. "Would you please not disturb us."

"Ryan!" Tiffany called out. She was reaching for him from across the table. Ryan proceeded to go to her but the black guard would not let him.

The man in the suit approached Ryan. "Ryan Thomas?" he asked.

"Yeah, who wants to know?" he snapped. The man in the suit opened his wallet to reveal a badge.

"I'm Detective Norman Miller. My partner, Detective Ian Perri." Miller said motioning towards the table." We have a few questions we'd like you to answer. Would you mind joining us at the table." Ryan glared at Miller, not knowing what to think. Was he in trouble?

Then Ryan made the connection. Norman and Ian. These were the two policemen Ryan had been eavesdropping on at Donut World a few days ago. They were in charge of Webb’s murder investigation. And now they were here interrogating Tiffany. Ryan wondered how were they able to make a connection so soon.

Ryan walked towards the table without responding and sat down next to Tiffany, putting his arm around her. She buried her face into his shoulder. Miller returned to the table after whispering something to the black guard. "What's going on here?" Ryan asked looking at both Miller and Perri.

"Gathering some facts Mr. Thomas. Were you a student of Professor Austin Webb?"

"I was." Ryan replied.

Perri interrupted, "Detective Miller and myself are trying to determine if there were students in any of Professor Webb's classes that had some animosity towards him. A grudge maybe."

"None that I know of off hand." Ryan answered. "Webb was well liked by everyone I know."

Perri continued, "We have one student who say's he witnessed a student arguing with Professor Webb the day he was murdered." Perri thumbed through his notebook. "A Jarrod Mayfield. Do you know anything about this?"

Ryan didn't answer right away, recalling the conversation he had with Alan about the spat between Webb and Jarrod That was all he knew.

"I heard something about that a few days ago." Ryan offered. "But I don't know what it was about."

"Jarrod Mayfield is your roommate, is he not Mr. Thomas?" Miller asked.

"I guess he is."

Miller glared at Ryan not liking his tone of voice. "Yes or no please."

"Yes, he is."

"Did he ever make any mention to you about his relationship with Professor Webb?"

"Relationship?" Ryan asked surprised. "I wasn't aware they knew each other on a personal level."

Miller glared at Ryan, hard. He thought Ryan was being a smart ass. It was Perri who interrupted. "What Detective Miller means, Mr. Thomas, is did you know of any correspondence between Mr. Mayfield and Professor Webb that was less than friendly."

"All I heard of is that one rumour about Jarrod and Webb having a spat. That's it. Jarrod never talked about Webb in a slanderous manner, if at all." Ryan answered.

Miller said, "Where were you the night of Professor Webb's murder?"

Ryan was taken aback. Was HE a suspect? "What, me? I was working."

"Where do you work?" Miller asked.

"Pizza-To-Go, at the 140 Village Plaza."

Miller: "Can that be confirmed?"

"Ask anybody who was working that night." Ryan said. "I was in the building the whole time. From about eight till midnight. Why?"

"Just curious Mr. Thomas." Miller said leaning back in his chair, satisfied with the answer. Perri shot him a dirty look. It was apparent to Ryan that Miller was fucking with him. "We would however like to speak with your friend Mr. Mayfield. Is he in the dorm room?"

"Actually, he's probably at the newspaper office. I'm supposed to meet him there later." Ryan said. "Now maybe you could answer one of my questions. what the hell do you want with Tiffany, and what the hell did you say to her to make her cry."

It was Miller who answered. "Thats none of your concern Mr. Thomas."

"Bullshit. Tiffany is a good friend of mine and I just found her here crying at your hands." Ryan retorted. "If there's a problem here, I'd like to know about it."

It was apparent that Miller was going to get up and say something nasty to Ryan. Perri put his hand on Miller's arm and answered instead. "We were questioning Miss Cutter about her relationship with Professor Webb, Mr. Thomas. There's no need to get upset. I apologize for the scene with Miss Cutter. We were about to let her go."

"Let her go?" Ryan asked harshly. "Is she in any trouble?"

"Are you her lawyer?" Miller snapped. Ryan did not like this overweight man in front of him.

"Goddam right I am." he snapped standing up.

"Mr. Thomas." Perri interrupted, standing up also. "I can understand your frustration in this matter. But I'm going to have to ask you to control yourself and act in a civilized manner, please."

"I'm sorry." Ryan apologized, looking at Perri, then Miller. "It bothers me to see Tiffany so upset."

"Understandable." Perri said, sitting back down. He turned his attention back to Tiffany. "I think that'll be all for now Miss Cutter. We'll contact you if we have anymore questions." Perri handed her a card. "This is my number if you think of anything else we should know."

Tiffany stood and linked her arm around Ryan's. "Okay." she said, resting her forehead on Ryan's shoulder.

Perri looked back at Ryan. "Would you mind showing us to the Newspaper office? We'd like to ask Mr. Mayfield a few questions." Ryan nodded as the two detectives stood up. He turned to Tiffany.

Ryan said, "Go back to my dorm and wait for me." He handed her a key. "I'll be there in a few minutes." Tiffany took the key and walked away. Ryan looked at Perri. "This way please."

The four men walked across the campus towards the student activities building.

"Is she your girlfriend?" Perri asked Ryan as they entered the building.

"No." Ryan answered. "She's a real good friend of mine though. She's going through a rough time right now."

Perri did not respond. Ryan looked over at him to see if he was making any looks on his face. Looks that might give away what he was thinking. It was solid as a rock, very professional. Perri looked to be in his later thirties. There were streaks of gray in his brown hair. Ryan looked behind him to see the black guard meet his glance. He nodded at Ryan as if he knew something. The door to The Forum office was open, and the sound of a typewriter keyboard could be heard. Jarrod was probably somewhere in the Internet.

The four men walked through the door. Jarrod turned his head around as he spoke. "Hey bro, what u---, uh-oh."

Miller spoke, "Are you Jarrod Mayfield?"

"I am."

" I'm Detective Miller, and this is Detective Perri, we have a few questions we'd like to ask you regarding Professor Webb's murder. Do you have a few minutes?" Miller asked. Ryan thought for a moment that Miller was not really the friendliest person on the face of the planet. He had all the warmth of a tree sloth.

"Okay." Jarrod said shutting down the computer. This caught the attention of both detectives.

"What was that you were doing there?" Miller asked.

"I was on the Internet, talking to a few people I know over in Virginia." he replied. Miller looked at Perri who shrugged his shoulders like he didn't care.

Perri started, "We understand you had a confrontation with Professor Webb the day he was killed. Is this true?" Jarrod looked concerned and shot a glance over in Ryan's direction. Ryan shook his head to imply that he didn't know what the hell they were talking about.

"We had a few words." Jarrod responded. "But nothing to warrant murder."

"What was the discussion about?" Perri asked. Jarrod was making note of the black man behind Ryan. And then looked back at Perri.

"Am I in some kind of trouble here?" Jarrod asked. "Do I need a lawyer?"

Perri answered, "No Mr. Mayfield, this is a preliminary investigation into the murder itself. You are NOT a suspect. Detective Miller and myself are merely gathering evidence and collecting facts. We are in fact going to talk to every student in Professor Webb's classes. We just happened to find out that you were engaged in a bit of a spat with Professor Webb the day he was murdered. We would just like to know why."

Jarrod looked satisfied with that answer. "Fair enough." he replied. "I really did like Webb. Everybody did. He was one of the most well liked instructors this college has. There was never an empty seat in any of his classes. I've heard it said that there is a waiting list for his sociology class. He's asked for by name at registration time.

"My little spat with Webb, as you put it, was not really a spat. Webb and I had a disagreement about one of my grades. I received a B on his last paper." Jarrod explained. Miller looked at Perri doubtfully. "I know you guys think that's probably a silly thing to say, but, my grade average as it stands now is 4.0. That B conceivably could set me back. I can't say that for a hundred percent, but the possibility exists. Anyway, I expressed to Webb that I thought I didn't deserve the B. The only reason that paper was a B and not an A was a few careless punctual errors on my part.

"The thing you have to understand about Professor Webb is that he's tough. He doesn't let little things like punctuation slide. And that's a good thing really if you think about it. A lot of instructor's here don't care about things like spelling and punctuation. As long as your grasping the material they're teaching, your okay. Webb wasn't like that. He was very picky, however, he was a great guy and his classes were fun. The debates were heated and well thought out. I will miss him."

"Heated?" Miller asked suspiciously.

"Not heated like flat out arguing. Heated like passionate." Jarrod said. "You could ask Ryan, we have that class together. Webb was usually the moderator. The third party who ran interference. The debates were usually among the class." Perri looked at Ryan for confirmation. He nodded.

"Back to the spat thing." Miller said. "Your telling us that you had 'words' with Professor Webb over a grade?"

"Maybe 'words' was a bad choice of words." Jarrod said. "There was no arguing, no yelling. I merely expressed...displeasure if you will, about the grade. I was worried about my G.P.A. Webb explained to me his grading policies and I accepted that. I don't know what you heard detectives, but it sounds exaggerated. In fact, Professor Webb told me he was very impressed with my writing skills and suggested that I just re-check my punctuation next time. And that was it. I never saw the man again."

"One more question Mr. Mayfield." Perri said. "And I ask this strictly out of curiosity. Where were you the night Professor Webb was murdered?"

Ryan knew the answer to that one. He was working. Jarrod said, "I was working at Pizza-To-Go that night."

Perri glanced at Ryan briefly. "You two work together too?" he asked. Ryan nodded.

"We worked the same shift." Jarrod said. "Ryan left a little earlier than I did. He got off around twelve I think." Ryan nodded. "I left at close, which was around one thirty."

Perri whipped out two more of his cards. He handed one to Jarrod and one to Ryan. "I thank you gentlemen for your time. If we need anything else, you'll be contacted. If you hear of anything else, please, don't hesitate to give me a call. I can be reached anytime." The detectives shook hands with Jarrod and Ryan, then left the building. The black guard was about to walk out the door when he handed Ryan a piece of paper.

"Meet me here later." He said. "I may be able to help you." Ryan looked him in the eye and the black guard nodded again. He left. Ryan turned back to Jarrod.

"What the hell was that all about?" Jarrod asked sounding a little perturbed about the interrogation.

"I'm not sure." Ryan said opening the piece of paper. It simply read,

WEBB'S OFFICE
MIDNIGHT
THE DOOR WILL BE UNLOCKED
DON"T BE LATE

RON

"What's it say?" Jarrod asked. Ryan showed him the note. "Do you know this guy?"

"I've seen him around." Ryan said. "I think he's a security guard."

Jarrod handed the note back to Ryan and said, "I'm going with you."

"I don't think that's a good idea."

"Why?"

"I think he wants me to meet him alone." Ryan theorized.

"I thought we were all in this together!" Jarrod protested standing up.

"We are bro." Ryan said putting his hand on Jarrod's shoulder. "He said to me as he left he might be able to help. Let me meet him, and I promise you, I will tell you everything when I get back to the dorm." Jarrod looked unsure and sat back down.

"I'm gonna trust you on this one brother." Jarrod said. Ryan nodded as Jarrod booted his computer back up.

"Find anything else out?" Ryan asked moving closer to Jarrod to see the computer screen.

"Not really." he replied typing in a strange bunch of letters and numbers. It was all Greek to Ryan. He didn't mess with such complicated things as the Internet. That's why there were people like Jarrod around." Nobody's really talking about it anymore."

"Oh well."

"What was up with Tiffany this morning, she sounded concerned?"

"I'm not sure." Ryan answered, studying what Jarrod was doing. "The cops were grilling her pretty hard when I caught up with her." Jarrod stopped typing and looked back at Ryan.

"Should we inform damage control?" he asked concerned. "Is she in any kind of trouble?"

"You know as much as I do man." Ryan said. "She was crying when I found her. She might have spilled something. I haven't talked to her yet. As a matter of fact, she's waiting for me right now."

"Then go." Jarrod said with urgency. "Fill me in later."

"Get a hold of Alan if you can." Ryan instructed as he was walking out the door. "Let him know what's up with tonight. He'll probably want to know about it." Jarrod said okay as Ryan started to walk back to his dorm.

Tiffany was waiting for him when he arrived. She appeared to be in rough shape. Ryan sat down next to her and held her. There were no tears this time, just silence. Even in this moment of solitude, Ryan managed to be blunt. "How much do they know?" he asked.

"Everything." she said, without emotion. Ryan closed his eyes in disgust. "There's more." She continued. "Thats why I called you this morning. I got a call from Austin's lawyer this morning. There was a change in his will." Ryan cringed, knowing what was coming next. "Austin wrote his wife out and bequeathed everything to me and his unborn child. This is how Linda, found out my name."

"You mean Webb's wife knew he was having an affair?" Ryan asked.

Tiffany nodded and said, "Apparently so. Linda also knew that whoever Austin was having an affair with was pregnant, according to his lawyer. He also said he wanted a divorce from Linda, but she wouldn't give him one. So he was going to sue her for one. Richard, that's Austin's attorney, said that Austin wanted to be with me and the baby. Apparently, Linda could not get pregnant and Austin wanted a kid."

"Tiffany, this doesn't make any sense." Ryan reasoned. "You said you didn't know about the divorce."

"I didn't." She insisted. "That's why this whole thing bothers me so much. I broke it off with Austin after I found out I was pregnant. I guess he figured it was because he married to someone else and assumed I would just go along with his plan just because I was pregnant with his kid. Ryan, even if he did divorce Linda and proposed to me, I wouldn't have accepted. I didn't love him. The truth is that he was just a convenient fuck. We agreed that there would be no strings attached. I explained this to you. He just wanted to get laid. My excuse was that I just wanted to have sex and not worry about a relationship. Ya know, love and all that other stuff." She looked up into Ryan's eyes. "I can see that I was wrong."

Ryan held Tiffany even tighter. "Tiff, it'll all work out."

"It gets worse." She admitted. "Linda thinks I killed Austin, or had him killed." She sat up to face him. "She said something to Richard like I wanted all his money and what not because he changed his will. Ryan, I didn't even know about the will. I made an appointment for an abortion even before Austin was murdered. It was on a Tuesday I went to the health clinic. Austin was killed on Thursday. I figured I would go ahead and just get rid of it, and stall Austin as long as I could. Now I find out he was leaving his wife for me and the baby. It's just too much. I'm sorry I ever got involved with the man."

"I can assume Linda told the cops of her suspicions, and that's why they were here this morning?" Ryan asked.

"It looks that way." She replied. "Although they didn't say anything to me about Linda. They were more interested in my affair with Austin. If I knew anything about the change in the will. I only found out about the will this morning, right before the cops came. Richard wanted me to be present for the reading of the will. Linda wants to contest it, and as far as I'm concerned, she can have it all. I don't want anything more to do with Austin Webb."

"That's probably for the best." Ryan said. "Just sign whatever you have to so Linda can have it all. If she's got the cops thinking you had something to do with the murder because of the change in the will, it'll look give if you just let her have it all."

"I didn't do it Ryan." she said looking into his eyes with more sincerity than he had ever seen from her.

"I know you didn't baby." he soothed. He believed her. He REALLY believed her. It would be a little harder to convince the other guys. "Your just a victim in this whole thing too. And I'm sorry." Tiffany was hugging him again.

"Thank you for being here Ryan. This means more to me than you'll ever know. I'm glad you're taking care of me. I don't think I could take care of myself right now."

"Tiffany." Ryan began. "I would do anything you asked me to." She didn't reply, but Ryan saw the smile creep across her face as she closed her eyes to rest. "When are they going to read his will?"

"Wednesday morning, at Richard's office." she said.

"I'll go with you." he offered.

"Good. I'll need all the support I can get." she sighed.

The thing that troubled Ryan now was that if Tiffany didn't kill Webb and Porter. Who did? It was probably going to take another murder or two before the killer started to slip up and leave some REAL clues. Ryan knew there was going to be another killing. The man's name was going to be West. 'Go West'. That was what the card from the last murder scene said.

Now he had to convince the guys that Tiffany was innocent and they were barking up the wrong tree.

Ryan and Tiffany barely made it to their twelve o'clock classes on time. Not that it had mattered. Neither one of them paid much attention and though they were in separate classrooms, Ryan could still feel Tiffany's pain.

Ryan's class could not have gone by fast enough for him. He was anxious to get to the newsroom to see Alan. Tiffany had back to back classes, so Ryan would not be seeing her till this evening. Alan on the other had, was busy working on a story in the newsroom when Ryan poked his head through the door. "Alan?"

"Ryan, come in." Alan said. Ryan entered the room. "I hear you have a date tonight."

"What?"

"With Ron."

"Oh yeah, that." Ryan said, almost forgetting about it.

"Jarrod explained the whole thing to me." Alan said. "Are you sure you want to go alone?"

"It's probably better that way." Ryan admitted sitting down. "I got the impression he wanted to see me alone."

Alan nodded and said, "Ron is an off duty security guard here. During the day he's a city cop."

"Westminster city?"

"Yeah."

This didn't sit well with Ryan. "Do you think this is a set up of some kind?" he asked.

"It's possible. Wait and see what he has to say. Let him talk first, and don't offer him any kind of information until you've talked to us." Alan warned. "If you go down, we all could go down."

Ryan nodded. "Listen Alan. I really think Tiffany is innocent. We had a conversation this morning after the cops had gotten to her. There are some more things you don't know."

Alan turned around to face Ryan, hands on his knees again. This is what Ryan referred to as Alan's attention stance. "What happened?"

"Well," Ryan began. "That change in Webb's will I told you about? It gave Tiffany and her unborn child all of Webb's Earthly possessions, including his bank account. His wife knows all about it and she's pissed. Webb's lawyer called Tiffany this morning and asked her to attend the reading Wednesday. Linda claimed she was going to contest the whole thing saying Tiffany killed or had Webb killed so she could get her hands on his money. Tiffany had no clue about the will. She also said she had made the appointment for the abortion BEFORE Webb was killed. According to Webb's lawyer, Richard, Webb was suing his wife for a divorce, so he could be with Tiffany. However, Tiffany says she didn't want to be with Webb. It was a purely sexual thing and she didn't love him. She would have turned down his proposal, if he had asked."

"Convenient." Alan said doubtfully.

"No, listen to this." Ryan continued. "Tiffany doesn't want any of Webb's money or possessions. She's going to let Linda have it all. I said I would go with her to the reading Wednesday. Alan, Tiffany is really shaken up by all of this crap. I think were barking up the wrong tree, meanwhile, the real killer is preparing for his next victim.

"If our theory is that Tiffany killed Webb because he wouldn't let her get an abortion, it just got blown all to hell. You know as well as I do, Tiffany is NOT the killing type and she is NOT a money grubber."

Alan leaned back in his chair. "I'm impressed Thomas." he gleamed. "What you say has merit. But, I want you to check it out. Find out where Tiffany got her abortion, and when the appointments were made. See if she has any clue who Duncan Porter is."

"Yeah." Ryan interrupted. "What do we know about this Porter guy anyway?"

"Not much." Jarrod said appearing out of no where throwing a manila folder on Alan's layout desk. "He was an accountant for the Baltimore County government. Divorced from his wife whose whereabouts are unknown and he has a son who attends Towson State University in Baltimore."

"An accountant for the government." Ryan mused. "Sounds like a pretty boring guy."

Jarrod continued, "Yeah, but check this out. Porter was a student right here at beautiful Western Maryland College. He graduated in 1971."

"VERY good Mayfield." Alan commended. "I AM impressed. How did you find this out?"

Jarrod smiled slyly. "It was a shot in the dark really. The college has records for every student who ever attended here. Its all kept on their database at the student information center. I figured since Austin Webb was a student here back in the sixties, maybe Duncan Porter had been too, and voila."

Alan was smirking at Ryan. "I should have known." Alan said. "It's a computer hack thing." Jarrod took a bow. Alan directed his attention back to Ryan. "I think this does take the attention off Tiffany." he admitted. "Webb graduated in '71, Porter in '71. I wonder if this is more than a coincidence that these two men attended the same college and graduated the same year?"

Ryan asked, "Did you know Porter? You would have been here about the same time."

Alan looked off in another direction, obviously thinking. "The name Duncan does ring a bell." he admitted. "As for me personally, I didn't know him. I think maybe Austin might have. That was a long time ago."

"Do you remember him?" Ryan asked. Alan got up out of his chair and went for his briefcase. He brought out an old yearbook that had been well taken care of.

"This is one of my old yearbooks." Alan explained. "Its from the class of '71. Austin's graduation picture is in here. It would stand to reason that Porter's would be too." Alan flipped though the pictures, which were alphabetically listed

He stopped at one and pointed at it. "That's him." Alan said. Ryan and Jarrod gathered around the yearbook to see the picture of Duncan Porter. "I don't recognize him guys." Alan admitted. "Sorry."

Ryan read Porter's biography which was printed next to his picture.

DUNCAN P. PORTER
Duncan
FUTURE PLANS: To become a RICH accountant.
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT: 5-23-70.
CAN BE HEARD SAYING: Get out of Vietnam...War is not healthy for children and
other living things...Groovy...A.J., good shot.

"Groovy?" Jarrod asked. "Thank God the 70's are dead." Ryan shot him a doubtful look. Alan reached down and flipped to Austin Webb's graduation picture so they could look at that one too.

AUSTIN D. WEBB
Austin
FUTURE PLANS: Why makes promises I can't keep?
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT: 5-23-70.
CAN BE HEARD SAYING: The hippest band IS Three Dog Night, I don't care what
you say Bob!...Will this night ever end?...What goes around comes around, remember that.

"That's Austin Webb?" Ryan asked in complete amusement. "He looks so...young!" Alan looked at him with disgust.

"Thanks." Alan barked walking away from the group. "That makes me feel a lot better!" Ryan studied Webb's biography more closely. There was something there that intrigued him. "Hey Alan?" Ryan asked. "What happened on May 23?"

Alan looked at Ryan like he was crazy. "What, back in 1970? Hell if I remember."

"Webb put down for most memorable moment, May 23, 1970." Ryan said. "So did Porter. Coincidence?"

Alan stood up, eyes wide open. "Are you sure?" He walked back to the table to see if Ryan was saying was true.

In was in fact true. Alan sat back down in his chair. He didn't look well.

"What does it mean?" Jarrod asked looking back between Ryan and Alan.

"I don't know." Alan said flatly, staring off into space. "This has to be a coincidence. There is no other explanation." He looked at Jarrod then. "Jarrod, see if there is anything in the school database about an activities calendar and if so, what was happening on May 23, 1970. Maybe there was a dance, or a rally, or something like that."

"Okay." Jarrod said heading for the door when Mike Wagner burst into the room.

"Ryan, I'm glad I found you." he gasped out of breath. He was holding something in his right hand, a piece of paper of some kind.

"What's up?" Ryan asked curiously.

Mike handed him the piece of paper. "I think you should take a look at this." It resembled that of a flyer. Only it was not an advertisement for a school function or a bake sale. It was a topless picture of Tiffany, photocopied. Underneath it said,

AUSTIN WEBB'S LOVER REVEALED.

Ryan was furious. He handed the paper to Alan who cringed in disgust. "Where did you get this?" Ryan snapped. Mike handed Ryan an envelope that he withdrew from his back pocket.

"It was in my mailbox." Mike answered. "There's a letter in there you should read. I don't get it, I thought you might. I recognized the picture of Tiffany from that roll I developed for you."

"Alan." Ryan said. "Get me those pictures please." Alan went to his safe as Ryan took the letter out of the envelope, which was in fact addressed to Mike Wagner. The letter read,

BACK OFF. OR I WILL CIRCULATE THIS.
ONLY WARNING.

Ryan handed the letter Alan who in turn handed the pictures to Ryan.

"Laser printer." Alan said. "This letter was done with a laser printer, just like the cards." Ryan was flipping through the pictures of Tiffany. The one that appeared on the flyer was not in the mix.

"I remember seeing that picture of Tiffany when I picked those pictures up from Foto's" Ryan told Alan. "It's not in here now."

"Nobody has been in my safe." Alan said. "You said these were in your car before we locked them up?"

"Yeah, and my car was unlocked too.." Ryan stopped in mid sentence. He was wrong, the car was locked, on the passenger side. That had not been right, as that door was never locked. "Wait," Ryan said trying to get the facts straight in his head. "I was with Mike when I looked at those pictures. I put them away and put them in my glove box, which I leave open. When you asked me to go to my car Alan, to get the pictures? I tried to get in my car through the passenger side door. It was locked. I never lock that door. NEVER."

"Are you absolutely positive about that?" Alan asked.

"Yes." Ryan said quickly, sure of himself. "I always make it a point never to lock it. I know that sounds weird, but its true. I think somebody went into my car and took one of those pictures, locking the door behind them, thinking that it should be locked. Most people lock their doors. I don't."

It was Jarrod who spoke next, "How many people knew about those pictures the day they were developed?"

Ryan said, "Mike and myself. I didn't tell Alan until after I had gotten back from the mall. Tiffany doesn't even know I have these pictures."

Alan was looking at Mike. "How much of this do you know? " Alan asked.

Mike was about to speak when Ryan interrupted him. "It wasn't Mike." he said. "There are only one set of negatives, and they're all in here." Ryan was holding up the pictures which he tossed back to Alan to put back into the safe. "Plus, Mike was working between the time I got back to the college and when I went out to my car to get the pictures. No one else could have known."

"Unless your being followed." Alan reasoned. "That means the killer is here on campus somewhere."

"Not necessarily." Jarrod offered. "Look at the facts. Two men are dead who both went to this college about twenty five years ago. They both have the same date under their most memorable moment column. Chances are Webb and Porter knew each other. The killer probably knows both of them. Therefore, it stands to reason the killer may be close to Webb and Porter's age. What ever Webb and Porter had in common back on May 23, 1970 is the connection. We'll probably find the killer there."

"Good point." Alan said. "The killer may be in his forties, which would probably make him even more dangerous, as he's older and wiser. Clearly he or she means business if your being followed Ryan.

"We need to be real careful here. If this picture of Tiffany gets out, its gonna complicate things real bad."

Ryan said, "Not to mention it'll make Tiffany's life a living hell."

"True." Alan agreed. "Ryan, I really don't want you going to meet Ron by yourself. If it's a set up, you could be in real danger."

"No." Ryan insisted. "I have to go by myself. Gut feeling. However, there is room for compromise."

Before Ryan had a chance to explain, Mike chimed in, "Does somebody want to tell me what the hell is going on around here, or is this some kind of secret club where I need to hang out of a window naked to get into." Jarrod chuckled in the background somewhere.

Ryan shifted his look to Alan without turning his head. Alan looked back unsure.

"A photographer might be helpful." Ryan reasoned. Alan nodded. "Mike, have a seat and smoke 'em if you got 'em." Ryan said. "You want in? Fasten your seat belt."

Mike sat down looking innocently afraid. "I was just kidding. I don't want to hang out a window naked."

The group laughed as the door to The Forum newsroom was shut and Mike Wagner was brought into the fold.

 

Ryan’s Advanced Journalism Techniques class ended close to four p.m. He immediately tried to locate Tiffany, but she was no where to be found. Ryan assumed she must still be in class. On his way back to the newsroom, he passed the sidewalk that led to Alumni Hall. He stopped and looked in it’s general direction, mysteriously drawn towards the building again.

"No!" Ryan told himself. "I don’t believe in ghosts!"

But he knew whatever was going on there was not natural. Unless Todd Matheny was setting us some kind of sick joke to play on his friends. And if that was so, how did he manage to chill the whole room in a split second.

Ryan figured Todd was probably legit in his episodes, but it was still weird nonetheless. Against his better judgment, Ryan started for Alumni Hall again.

When he got there, Todd and a few more of his thespian cohorts were there goofing off on the lower level stage. Ryan tried to sneak in unnoticed, but was unsuccessful as Todd had spotted him.

"Hey!" Todd called out. "It’s our resident campus Ghostbuster!"

Ryan threw him a harsh look. "Blow me Todd. I just stopped by to see if there was anything else unusual going on down here."

One of the other actors, the girl Todd had been with the day he tripped asked Ryan a question, "Are you really writing a story on the haunting of Alumni Hall?"

"Yeah, I guess I am." Ryan admitted. He could not remember her name.

"Cool, will you interview me so I can get my name in the paper?" She asked.

"Are you for real Deborah?" Another guy asked.

"Shut up Bill!" Deborah snapped. "I’m a part of this whole thing too!"

Ryan interrupted the debate. "I can talk to all of you later on, I was just wondering how things were down here. In a weird sort of way, this whole thing is fascinating."

"I knew it!" Todd said. "You do believe in ghosts!"

"I didn’t necessarily say that...." Ryan began

"Oh come on Ryan!" Todd intruded. "You have to keep an open mind about this. if you didn’t, the whole experience would drive you crazy. Things, are not always as they appear."

"Should have been a writer Todd." Ryan retorted. "So. Did anything else happen?"

"No, not since yesterday." Todd replied as the room went cold, again. They all felt it that time. Deborah pulled her sweater over her hands.

"You stand corrected." Bill uttered. Todd was looking around furiously, as if he expected to see some kind of a aberration. "This place really is spooky sometimes. It’s been this way since Webb was kill...."

"Shut up!" Todd hissed. Ryan looked curiously up at Todd who met his glance immediately.

"Touchy subject?" Ryan asked.

"No." Todd replied immediately. "I just don’t like to speak of the dead."

"That’s oxymoronic of you Todd. You won’t speak of Austin Webb because he is dead, but you will speak of ghosts, who are people who have been dead for a real long time. I don’t get it."

"Oxy-what?" Bill asked.

"Shut up!" Todd barked. "We were trying to have a rehearsal here Ryan. Would you mind ever so terribly coming back later to perform your investigations please?"

"Yeah." Ryan said turning to go. He stopped at the entrance of the stairwell to look back at the group. They were watching him go.

Ryan thought that this was really strange. And not right.

 

Tiffany was still no where to be found and there was no answer at her dorm room. Ryan returned to the newsroom where Alan was still working on some kind of story.

"Question." Ryan said.

"Shoot."

"Does the name Todd Matheny mean anything to you Alan, besides the incident at Alumni Hall?" Ryan asked.

Alan looked up from the newsroom computer. "I don’t think so. Should it?"

"I was investigating the Alumni Hall thing and had a conversation with Todd and the others there. One mentioned that the ‘haunting’, or whatever you want to call it didn’t get this intense until after Webb’s death. Todd told the guy to shut up and asked me to leave after that. I mean he got really defensive Alan."

"Huh. No, I can’t say I am that familiar with him. I know he’s an honor student, and has been the lead in practically every play the college does. He’s really a talented actor." Alan said.

"Yeah, I guess so." Ryan muttered as Mike walked into the newsroom.

"I got ‘em Alan." Mike jeered. "Oh, hey Ryan." Mike handed the envelope to Alan.

"Thanks Mike." Alan said. "You don’t happen to know Todd Matheny do you?"

"Todd?" Mike asked. "Yeah, I know him. We went to the same high school together. He’s a punk who’s been in trouble with the law more times than anybody I know, why?"

Ryan looked back at Alan who was sitting back in his chair.

"What kind of trouble?" Ryan asked.

"Oh, the usual high school shit. Shoplifting, breaking and entering, even arson I think. I remember one time he tried to steal a car, but got caught before he could actually get away with it. The thing is, his old man is a lawyer, so Todd manages to get off every time."

"Anything else?" Ryan asked.

"He’s mellowed out since he became a college student." Mike explained. "I think it’s been a couple of years since he’s been in trouble."

"Or gotten caught." Ryan added. "I would maybe consider adding Murder one to that rap sheet."

"Ryan!" Alan snapped. "You don’t know that."

Mike looked taken aback. "What is that supposed to mean?"

"Somebody mentioned Webb’s murder in front of him and he flipped out. Got all bent out of shape, then asked me to leave the room. It was real peculiar." Ryan explained.

Mike looked at Alan, and then back at Ryan. "Todd? Commit a murder? I think that’s highly unlikely."

"Why do you say that?" Ryan asked.

"He’s a pacifist, I think that’s the word." Mike said rubbing his chin. "Somebody who preserves life? That’s what I’m trying to say. He’s a real animal rights activist. I don’t see him as a killer. A punk maybe. But not a killer."

Ryan shot Alan a confused look. "A life preserving arsonist. What’s wrong with this picture?"

"People are strange." Alan replied. he opened the envelope Mike had given him and spread the sheets out on the desk. They were actually pictures of the college stadium.

Mike chimed up suddenly, "If you don’t need me anymore for now Alan, I’m going to get dinner."

"Okay." Alan replied. "Just be back here by eleven thirty."

"Yep." Mike said and left the newsroom. Ryan was feeling hunger pains himself. Plus, he wanted to find Tiffany.

"I think I’m gonna grab a bite too Alan, wanna go?" Ryan asked.

"No, thanks Ryan. Nora is making a pot roast tonight. Don’t wanna miss out on that." Alan said.

"Okay." Ryan said turning for the door. "See you at eleven thirty."

Alan waved at him, engrossed with the pictures. Ryan watched him for a few seconds and left.

Ryan told himself later that he should have gotten a better look at those pictures. He wondered why was Alan so infatuated with them?

Tiffany was still not back at her dorm yet either. It was going to be a lonely dinner.

 

Ryan looked at his watch. It read 11:55 p.m. He was standing in front of the building where Webb's office was located. The night was cold and there was a slight breeze that nipped at his face as he turned to looked towards the south end of the quad. Underneath the mercury vapor lamp Alan and Jarrod were standing, looking on. Jarrod was smoking a cigarette. The two appeared to be having a conversation. They were not.

Alan nodded his head. Ryan looked up at the north end of the quad. Mike was standing underneath another lamp with camera in hand. It was the zoom lens that gave it away. Mike gave Ryan a thumbs up.

"Here goes nothing." Ryan muttered to himself as he walked for the door of the building. True to Ron's word, it was unlocked Ryan entered the building and walked upstairs to Webb's office. That door too was unlocked. Ron was waiting inside dragging on a cigarette looking out the window.

"Your comrades stick out like sore thumbs." Ron said not looking at Ryan. He dragged on his cigarette again and tossed it out the window.

"Precautionary measures considering the circumstances." Ryan said, nervous. "Wouldn't you agree."

"It's cool." Ron said turning to face Ryan. "I have nothing to hide. Actually, we could probably help each other."

"I'm listening."

"As you've probably already figured out, I do off duty security here at the college a couple nights out of the week." Ron said. "I’m with the Westminster City Police department. We speak tonight off the record." Ron showed Ryan his badge and tossed it on Webb's desk. "I will tell you everything the department knows in exchange for everything you know, and then I will offer you a deal. To show my faith, I will speak first. Agreed?"

"My colleagues and I work as a team." Ryan said. "I would like them to be here." Ron looked Ryan directly in the eye. After a few seconds he nodded. Ryan walked towards the window and flashed a penlight twice into the darkness of the quad. Three people started to walk for the building.

"Team work is good." Ron said looking out the window also. They did not speak again until Alan, Jarrod, and Mike entered the room.

"What's happening here Ryan?" Alan asked, looking at Ron.

"Ron here has a proposition for us. We exchange information, off the record, and then Ron will offer us some kind of deal." Ryan said. Alan looked suspicious.

"Are you wearing a wire?" Jarrod asked.

Ron turned around and spread his arms. "Would you like to frisk me?" Alan stepped forward to do the honors.

"He's clean." Alan said. "But I would like to move to another room."

"Wherever you like." Ron said.

The group moved into Webb's classroom at the other end of the hall. As Ron promised, he offered what he knew first.

"The police actually don't know very much. They're completely baffled. Norman Miller and Ian Perri with the Maryland State Police are the detectives on the case. As the crime happened within Westminster city limits, they have to share with us what they find. We know that each of the victims had a symbol of a crow burned onto each of their foreheads. This is a completely new MO that nobody understands.

"Austin Webb was killed last Thursday sometime between eleven and midnight from stab wounds to the chest. The weapon appears to be that similar to a large kitchen knife about a foot long and an inch and a half wide. You know about the card left with his body, 'Ring me a Porter.' Obviously, the killer was talking about Duncan Porter, which I'm sure you've heard about by now. Webb was killed behind the bleachers down in the stadium area. Our best guess is that he was meeting somebody there, but we don't know why. There were very few clues, no witnesses. The only thing that was found was a clear clip that fits on the back of a beeper."

Ryan remembered that the pager Tiffany was using, the one that she misplaced, had no clip on it. The evidence was pointing back to Tiffany again. Ron continued, "Duncan Porter was killed Saturday approximately ten thirty in the morning. This murder was a little more creative. There was a bomb planted on the phone box outside of Porters house that was rigged to blow up when a call came in. A call was placed to the house about ten thirty which triggered the bomb. It destroyed the entire house.

"The unusual part is that Porter was already dead before the explosion. The killer entered the house, stabbed Porter to death, burned the symbol of the crow on his forehead, planted the bomb and left. The police figured this happened about ten, ten fifteen. The killer then made the call which triggered the bomb. The phone records indicate that the last call made to the house was from a pay phone at the Owings Mills mall, specifically the phone in front of Ruby Tuesday's in the food court. The thing is, because there were so many people in and out of that area of the mall. It would be next to impossible to get a print off the phone.

"There was another one of those cards at the scene. It was found in the mailbox. It said 'Go West.' Naturally, we are assuming the name of the next intended victim will be West. Unfortunately, we don't know where to start. We're checking out acquaintances of Porter to see if he knows anyone with the name West. So far nothing." It occurred to Ryan to check Alan's yearbook later to see if there was a person with the name of West who graduated in 1970. "Miller and Perri suspect that Tiffany Cutter might know something, as she had been having an affair with Webb."

"Wait." Ryan interrupted. "Your a friend of hers aren't you?"

Ron nodded. "I knew her through Karl Cross, her old boyfriend." Ryan had just discovered Tiffany's 'source' at the city police department. " Miller suspected Tiffany had something to do with Webb's murder initially. She didn't. She was with me the night Webb was murdered."

This got Ryan's attention. Actually it might have been the 'jealous factor.' What was Tiffany doing with Ron? Ryan blurted this out without thinking, "What were YOU doing with Tiffany that night?"

"I knew of her affair the whole time it was going on." He explained. "On occasion I would let her into this building so she could wait for Webb. I was consoling her when she turned up pregnant, and ended it with him. At the time she had no one else to turn to. It just so happened the night Webb was killed, we were at Tully's tavern, at the mall."

Ryan looked at the others expressions, to get their read on what Ron was saying. They looked blank for the most part, like they were listening intensely. "Jeez." Ryan barked. "Am I the only one who didn't know about this affair?"

"She wanted to tell you about it." Ron said. "She was afraid you wouldn't respect her after she told you. She's quite fond of you actually."

Ryan felt himself blush with embarrassment. The guys were teasing him about this new revelation. This would not be that last time he heard about Tiffany's fondness.

Alan asked, "Do the police have any REAL suspects?"

"Not as of now." Ron answered. "As I explained before, whoever this person, or persons are, they're good. They don't leave much behind to find. Any other questions?"

"Has the killer written an letters to the police or the press?" Alan asked. Ron shook his head.

"None that I am aware of." he said.

"I know where the beeper that is that goes to the clip the cops found at the scene of Webb's murder." Ryan offered. He had Ron's complete attention now. "We have it."

"Where did you find it?" Ron asked.

"Actually, it was found lying on the parking lot next to my car." Ryan said. Ron looked baffled. "Jarrod found it there Saturday morning. The beeper belonged to Tiffany. Webb gave it to her so they could communicate without being suspicious. In my talks with Tiffany, she has never made mention of it missing. She told me she had given it back to Webb."

"Yes." Ron mused. "I remember her mentioning something about a beeper Webb had given her."

Ron directed his attention towards Jarrod. "You said you found it next to Ryan's car Saturday morning?"

"Yep." Jarrod replied. "I had gone to breakfast and then to the movies. I got back to the dorm around four or so and parked next to Ryan's car. As I walked by it I saw the beeper lying on the ground by the car door. I thought maybe Ryan had gotten a beeper and dropped it, so I took it back to the dorm. Turned out it was Tiffany's."

Alan looked up from the floor at Ron. "Wait, I see what your getting at." he said. "If we're assuming the killer took the beeper at the scene of the crime, and the clip broke in a struggle, then the beeper could have fallen out of his or her pocket as they were walking away from the scene of the crime. If that's true, Tiffany was the killer. Who else would want that beeper. Tiffany could have been trying to get it back to cover her relationship with Webb up." Ryan didn't like where this was going.

"Not necessarily." Ron said. "Tiffany was with me, it's a physical impossibility."

Unless your covering for her. Ryan thought. How convenient that Ron showed up when he did.

Alan said, "So your saying somebody else had Tiffany's beeper?"

"I didn't see it on her the night we were at Tully's." Ron said. "I think Tiffany is being set up."

"What about the knife?" Jarrod piped up.

"What knife?" Ron asked.

Ryan interceded, "We found a knife in one of the desks in the newsroom. It looks to be a kitchen knife comparable to the one you described that was used to kill Webb."

"You still have this knife?" Ron asked. Ryan glanced over at Alan.

"As far as I know." Alan replied. "I didn't touch it, in case it was the one. I found it Saturday afternoon. It was not there Friday, as I go into that desk drawer often for pens. I left the knife alone in case it had something to do with Webb's murder. I figured I watch the desk and see who went into it and if they fucked with the knife at all."

"Could I see it?" Ron asked. Alan nodded.

 

The five men walked to the newsroom which was on the other side of the campus. When they got there, they were all in for a hell of a shock.

The knife was gone. In it's place was another one of the flyers with Tiffany's naked picture on it. There was a message done with cutout letters, photocopied on top of the picture of Tiffany. It read,

I AM WATCHING.
NO COPS.

"What the hell is this about?" Ron asked, pulling on a rubber glove to pick up the picture with.

"There's more I haven't gotten a chance to tell you yet." Ryan said. "There were pictured Webb took of Tiffany during one of their rendezvous’. I came across the roll while searching Webb's office with Tiffany. I didn't tell anyone about it until I had them developed. After that, Mike knew and then I told Alan, and then Jarrod. Before I told Alan, I suspect that someone had broken into my car and stole one of the pictures. We got a message earlier from the killer. It was this very picture and a message that told us to back off or they would circulate this picture. Only warning. It's Alan's theory that whoever the killer is, is following me, and knew I had these pictures in my car." Ryan saw Ron looking at Mike, almost suspiciously. "No, no." Ryan said. "Mike was at the mall when I got back to the campus. I remember this picture when I was looking at them. It isn't in the pack now. Besides, I have evidence that somebody went into my car on the campus. Trust me."

"We think the killer is an older man." Alan explained, telling Ron about the yearbook pictures and the Most Memorable Moment date of May 23, 1970 that Webb and Porter shared. "The killer obviously knew Tiffany and Webb were having an affair. I think somehow the killer is nearby, probably on campus somewhere. I don't see how else he can be watching us."

In the split second of silence there is between two people talking during a conversation, a noise was heard outside the newsroom. All five heads turned to face the door.

Somebody was on the other side, listening. Ron nodded towards the light switch as he withdrew a gun which had been holstered underneath his shirt. Jarrod flipped the switch as a shadow passed over the frosted window of the newsroom door. Ron pointed the gun at the window.

"Stay back," Ron whispered as he swung open the door. There was nobody there. Directly in front of the newsroom door was a hallway that led to the other side of the building. The door at the other end of the hallway was closing as if somebody had just left the building. Ron faced the group. He motioned towards Alan, Mike, and Jarrod. "You three go the other side of the building, cut him off." he said pointing his finger down the other hall way that was to the right of the newsroom. "You, come with me." he told Ryan, then continued. "Don't be a hero, just chase him and call for me, please, be careful."

"You too." Alan said as the three men ran down the a joining hall. Ryan and Ron ran down the first hall to the door, stopping at the end. Ron looked at Ryan.

"Ready?" he asked. Ryan nodded. "Go!"

The two men threw open both doors, immediately scanning the entire area. Ryan didn't see a thing. Ron looked around furiously. He saw Alan at the other end of the building scanning the area also. It was Mike who pointed a finger in the direction of the dorms. The women's dorms. Ron followed the direction Mike's finger was pointing in time to see a dark shadow disappear around the first dormitory building. "Down there." he told

Ryan pointing off into the darkness. Alan, Mike, and Jarrod were already running down the hill towards the building where this person was running too. Ron and Ryan followed. The group met up at the far end of the building where the mystery person was headed.

"Now what?" Mike asked, obviously nervous. Ryan recognized this area. Tiffany's dorm was in the building directly in front of them, about five hundred feet away. The door on the right side of the building was closing. Somebody had just entered the building.

Ryan pointed at Tiffany's building. "Over there, that door. Tiffany dorm room is in that building."

"We got the left side." Alan said as the three of them ran for the other door. Ryan and Ron went for the door that was closing. Ryan started to enter the building.

"Wait!" Ron hissed.

"Tiffany's in there, you wait!" Ryan snapped back. He flew up the stairs towards Tiffany's room. He knocked as Ron came up behind him. "Tiff? Tiffany, you in there?"

No answer. Ryan glanced at Ron as he knocked again. The other three men appeared on the other side of Ryan. They had come up the stairs on the other side of the building.

"Is she there?" Alan asked.

"She's not answering." Ryan said with concern. He knocked again. "Tiffany? Melissa?" This time Ryan reached for the doorknob. It was unlocked and Ryan opened the door. The room was dark and clearly no one was home.

"She's not here." Ron said flatly. Ryan walked for Tiffany's phone machine. It was flashing a message light. "What are you doing Ryan?"

"This isn't right." he answered. "Tiffany and Melissa NEVER leave their door unlocked." Ryan pressed the play button on Tiffany's answering machine.

It was Tiffany's voice. "Hey Missy. I went to spend the night at my parents house. I needed to talk to them for a while. I should be back before Psych. class tomorrow. Have a good night. Love ya." Somebody in the room turned on the light to reveal a yellow 'post it' posted on the phone machine. The note read,

Tiff,

I guess we had the same idea. I'll be at my mom's house too. I lost my key to the dorm so I didn't lock the door in case I got back before you did. Sorry.

Love,
Melissa

Ron said, "Well, I guess that explains everything. We should probably leave. I could get in trouble for this."

Ryan was not satisfied. "Where did that person go. They came into this building, and we didn't see them."

"It might have been somebody who actually lives here." Jarrod said. "We probably lost whoever it was." Single file, the men left Tiffany's dorm, and started to walk back to the newsroom.

"We are being watched." A paranoid Alan figured. "Jesus, I hope one of us isn't next to get killed."

"It's doubtful." Ron said. "Evidence suggests that the killer has already targeted his victims. These killings aren't random. They're premeditated specifically for people the killer has chosen for whatever reasons they may be."

Jarrod offered, "I think May 23, 1970 might be the reason." He then turned to Alan. "I checked out the college mainframe like you asked Alan. There was nothing there relevant to that date back in '70. Sorry."

"We'll have to extend the search." Alan reasoned. "I want to see what the newspapers were saying back then. That specific day, plus a week before and after. I think the county library has newspapers on microfilm. I want you to check it out Jarrod. If you find anything strange that happened those two weeks, I want to know about it.

"Good idea." Ron agreed. "When I get a chance, I'll see what kind of information the police had about those two weeks, if there's anything out of the ordinary there."

Ryan had then remembered there was supposed to have been some kind of 'deal' Ron was going to offer them. "Hey?" Ryan asked Ron. "You never did tell us what your involvement in this whole thing is."

Ron looked at Ryan from the corner of his eye as a smile creeped up one side of his face. "I knew what you guys were up to." he said. "Another one of the security guards here, Bob, told me about your little rendezvous with Tiffany in Webb's office. I thought maybe you were going to do your own investigation into Webb's murder. I thought I might be able to help, in return for a favor." They stopped walking.

"What kind of favor?" Alan asked a bit skeptical.

"I'll provide you with whatever the police know." Ron said. "There are apt to be a bunch of things we'll know that the press will never get wind of. Things that could prove useful to you in your own vigilante investigation. There were things you knew, such as the information from the yearbook, that we haven't thought of yet. I can see that Webb's murder was a personal blow to all of you, thus you have more motivation to get to the answers than Miller or Perri.

"Not only can I get you privileged information, but access to people and places you could not get to by yourself."

"In return for what?" Alan inquired.

"Whatever you find, you tell me. And me only." Ron said. "If there is another killing with this MO, the one with the crow, it's bound to become a federal matter."

"Your not talking about the FBI are you?" Jarrod asked.

"Possibly." Ron replied. "If you guys happen to figure it out 'who dunnit' before any officials do, you tell me, and I make the official arrest, with the incriminating evidence. It could boost my career in ways that ass kissing can't touch."

It was out. Ron's real reason for involvement. He wanted to further his career. Ryan laughed to himself. They do all the work, and Ron gets the credit. "What do you think guys?" Ryan asked the group. "We solve the murder for Ron in return for official information?" There was a brief pause in the conversation as silence hung deafly in the air.

"Your taking an awful big risk Ron." Alan said.

Ron put his hands in his pockets and nodded his head. "I know." he said. "If I was ever caught leaking official information to civilians, it could ruin my career. I have way more to lose than you do. But, the reward would be even greater."

Alan spoke again. "Your right Ron, this is personal. Austin Webb was a good friend of mine. I would like to see whoever killed him pay for it. I don't really care who makes the bust as long as it happens. If I can help make that happen, then I'm going to give it my all. I don't want fame and glory, I want justice. So if you want to trade privy information in return for what we can find, its a fair trade to me! Are there any objections?"

There were none.

Alan continued. "Okay, its a deal."

Ron nodded his head and said. "I'll look into what else the police know tomorrow, plus what ever else I can dig up that's on record the weeks surrounding May 23, 1970. I will contact you if I find out anything. If you need to contact me, I'll give you my beeper number. Call from the newsroom and enter the number 70. I will return your beep as soon as I can.

"I will rely on your discretion. Word of our partnership must not get out. If it does, I will deny ever knowing any of you to cover my butt. You will do the same. I have to get back the security office before they notice I've been gone this long." Ron handed Alan a card with a phone number on it. "That's my beeper number. If I don't hear from you first, I will get back to you the day I find out anything new."

"Good enough." Alan said. Ron nodded and walked away. He was gone as quickly as he came.

There was idle conversation in the group as to what had just transpired. It was unanimous that Ron's information for his official involvement was a fair deal.

Ryan and Jarrod had gone back to their dorm. It was late, and there was class tomorrow.

Scarecrow Main Page | Stories Main Page


Scarecrow   Copyright 1995 - 1999  C. Kevin Provance.   All Rights Reserved
No parts of these works may be reproduced in any way without the prior agreement and written permission of the author.

Copyright 1995 - 1999  C. Kevin Provance / TPA Software.  All Rights Reserved.