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Skeletons Without Halos 16

Updated on February 26, 2016
Nightcat profile image

Nightcat is a freelance writer who enjoys crafting short stories for her readers in the fantasy, mystery and horror genres.

Who Has Been Giving Skulls and Roses?

Welcome back! We last left off with a chilling surprise. We will learn who has been behind the mysterious gifts, or will an obsessed admirer get too close for comfort? You’ll have to read on to find out!

As always, all writing and photography are my original work. If borrowing for Internet use a link back and credit where credit is due are appreciated. The video below is included to enhance your reading pleasure only. If you own the copyright and want additional credit and links, or the video removed, please contact me.

Your Music For Tonight's Tale Of Mystery And Mayhem

Dinner And A Skull

Mom was not impressed with the idea of us missing dinner and said so in the most loving way possible. “Either a skeleton’s walking around with no head, which is unlikely, or we’ll find the rest. Eat. It will wait and you’ll give the police a chance to do their work.” And bosses or not, we ate.

We’d gone back to reassure her we’d be all right and she’d not only made us eat, she’d kept the police at bay with a serving spoon until dinner was over. It was clear dinner was a sacred hour with her and I didn’t mind. Once we’d eaten our fill and even Mom looked contentedly full, she was happy to shoo us off to work.

We found the waiting policeman outside. “Your mother is a fierce woman, Boss.” He said and Chester looked pleased at the compliment.

“She is at that. I don’t want it to be obvious, but have an eye kept on her.” Chester said and the officer nodded and led the way back down to the room where the packages were opened.

“We didn’t have much of a crime scene, and of course so many people had monkeyed about with the box there are no usable prints. The man your men caught checks out. He was paid in cash to slip in when the guards changed and deliver the package. He said he couldn’t make out if a man or woman paid him but they said the package was to be delivered to the missus.”

“Tell me we caught the right guy for attacking me in the garage.” I said and the officer got quiet. “What?” I asked.

“There was a breakout last night, he escaped. We have men canvassing the city looking for him. It’s why no one was keeping an eye on the complex.” I sighed.

Chester stood stiffly beside me. “What’s the matter?” I asked as the officer left and we took the skull out with gloved hands. “Chessie, what is it?”

“This guy that’s after you. It’s got me rattled.”

“He’s no one from my past, if that’s what’s worrying you.” I said and Chester gave me an odd look. He was withdrawn as we examined the skull and package. There was nothing remarkable about the packaging. It was roughly the size of a hat box, but square and wrapped in floral printed paper that was a shade of pink that made my stomach want to run away. As for the skull I didn‘t remember the face. It almost looked like Cynthia, but with the unlife drained out of it, it was impossible to tell. Which just puzzled me more.

“Why did he escalate?” I asked and Chester snapped out of it.

“What?”

“First roses and the metal weapon we never found. Then a head and grave robbing? He’s jumped too far, too fast. I don’t think he’s the one we are after. And how do we know the first time around he wasn’t Cynthia’s goon?” I asked and Chester seemed to brighten. I realized then he’d been worried I’d go for the homicidal type and I seriously wondered about my future husband’s sanity.

Skeletons Without Halos

Is the case coming to a close with the final clue?
Is the case coming to a close with the final clue?

Mom To The Rescue

Chester had escorted me to my door, having two of our men to stand at guard, though he seemed reluctant to leave me alone. “How about Mom stays with you?” He offered.

“And leave you all alone? No, I want to you have someone with you. I don’t think our man can scale walls, OK?”

Chester nodded and went across the way to his apartment. I watched him go, then bid Clarence and Bitsy goodnight. I was too keyed up to sleep and yet I was ready to drop. I started to pace, wondering if I should make some tea to calm my nerves when there was a knock at the door. I answered it to find Mom. “Mom, is everything OK?” I asked as I let her in.

“Chessie can’t sleep a wink without you over there. He’s sure something’s going to happen to you. With me as a chaperone I think it’s proper if you two stay close together.” That said, she led the way back over and Chessie practically ran to embrace me. He hugged me to him tightly and Mom saw to making a lovely bed on the sofa for me, but Chessie insisted his best girls have the bedroom and he’d take the sofa.

Mom shrugged, then agreed.

We ended up staying up most of the night, going over what clues we had, then we all had to drop from lack of sleep.

White Heat: Film Noir

A Protective Fiancée

That's our Chester, always wanting Nicky where he can protect her.
That's our Chester, always wanting Nicky where he can protect her.

The Stalker Revealed

I awoke in the early morning, groggy, to the smell of frying bacon. Chessie was up and seemed like a changed skeleton. He made a tongue clicking sound at me when I entered the kitchen which took me by surprise. “Well, you’re full of surprises this morning.” I said and he smiled at me.

“That I am. Sorry about being off last night, Nicky. I just didn’t like the idea of someone getting so close to you. I was worried all last night about protecting you. But the police made progress. If it is the same guy he’s back in jail. Never thought I’d be thankful for the police.” He said with a chuckle.

I was getting a cup of coffee for both of us when it all clicked. “Oh God. Chessie. I know who it is.” I said as he plated up breakfast. “It all fits. How didn’t I see it before?” I was so upset I was ready to cry, and I don’t like to cry. “I’ve known the maniac all along. Oh God. Chessie, the person behind it all, don’t you see?” I asked.

He looked at me, then nodded. “Had it figured out some time last night.” He said quietly. “I wanted to be wrong for your sake. It ain’t any of my business, we weren’t back together, but did you make any promises, Nicky?”

“No. We had our fun, but that was it. I never told her I loved her. Sure, she got me back to being a detective, and maybe that’s why I fell for her. But not in the way I love you, Chessie. I wanted someone to rescue me because I thought you were gone forever. It’s been her all along, hasn’t it?” I asked and he nodded sadly.

“She had us all thinking Cynthia was the one after you. That her obsessed lover wanted you gone. And all this time she was cuddling up to the boss to get her out of the way. I had my men do some digging. Victoria was bad cop when she was alive. She got a job here easily enough with false credentials and because her old lover vetted for her. And there’s more. She had things of yours in a sort of shrine. And the skull? It was Cynthia’s. I guess she didn’t like that I’d had her buried. Out of respect for another boss, naturally.”

“Naturally.” I laughed softly. “If that don’t beat all. That explains the attack on Sugar too. She must have been stalking me and saw the one day I stopped off alone. Sugar hugged me in thanks for trusting her as our baker. It was her first huge job. She meant nothing by it but it must have sent Vicky over the edge.” I whistled. “Still think I go for the crazy type?”

“Nah, I knew better.” Chester said and I was charmed by his lie. “Mom is out on the town, my treat. I wanted her to have the works for the wedding. A new dress, hat and the like. She’s been swell. And Victoria’s locked safely away. I thought I’d leave it up to you what to do with her.”

“I want to see her first. See if the maniac has a good excuse for stalking me. This explains the violets.” I realized then lack of sleep had made me a little loopy. “Wait, she was with us when Sugar was attacked and we caught the chef, right?”

“We thought Victoria was with us. Found out it was an actress posing as her. And the chef had been framed. The cops moved too fast and pinned it all on him. But now we have our real killer behind bars. You sure you want to go see her?”

A Detective After All

It looks like Chester is a detective in his own right.
It looks like Chester is a detective in his own right.

An Unhappy Meeting

I was, until I found out she was locked away in an institution for the criminally insane. Vicky was locked away in the depths, her cell the farthest from the rest and I could see why. She was seated on her cot, tied up in a straight jacket and I’ll never forget the look of madness on her face when she tilted up her skull to look at me.

A horrible grin spread across her features and suddenly she’d rushed forward, slamming herself into the iron bars separating us repeatedly. “You never noticed me!" She screamed, hurling herself forward again. “After all I did for you, and how clear I made my love, you never noticed me." She wailed. “So I did what I had to do. I hired an actress to play me and got rid of Sugar. Then I got Cynthia’s skull, I knew you’d get the message and come see me." She slammed into the bars again, clearly exhausted. “If I can’t have you, no one can!” She’d half snarled, half wept and I’d felt horror and pity for her as she slumped to the stone floor of her cell, weeping in frustration.

“Vicky.” I’d managed and she’d looked up at me from the floor in utter adoration. “Oh, Vicky. I always loved you, just not in that way.” I wanted to reach out, to cradle my old partner in my arms and never let her go, but I knew she was lost to me forever when she snarled as I attempted to touch her skull. She whipped herself towards the bars at my gesture and I barely pulled my hand away in time to avoid her removing my fingers with the force of her snapped teeth. Weeping for my lost partner, I stood and left without another word.

Did You Know Who Was Behind Everything?

She took me by surprise, but did you suspect Vicky?

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A Love Gone Terribly Wrong

Wow, just wow. I never in a million years would have suspected Vicky as our ultimate bad girl. But you have to feel sorry for her. She’d obviously fallen for our Nicky and although Nicky was smitten, she just didn’t love her the same way.

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