November 12, 1991
Prairie Junction, Kansas
A sickle moon peeked cautiously at the killer waiting in Penny Holland’s wood framed farmhouse on the Kansas prairie. A long pot-holed gravel drive led out of the grove of oak trees that surrounded the house to the two lane black top that led to Prairie Junction.
The killer knew that Penny Holland's husband, Doug, was driving to California and wasn't due to return for at least two days. He knew there was a spare key under the clay flowerpot by the back door. He knew that tonight was Penny's night out with the girls. It was all recorded in his journal.
He had watched Penny with her friends for weeks. Sometimes they would go to a movie at the new mall. They would shop and then eat and always talk like the high school girls they once were together. Penny was thirty-two. She had no children and could still ware the dress from her senior prom. Dark hair, brown eyes and built to catch a man’s attention. He waited with the anticipation of a boy on his first date.
It really was like a date. He had made it last night when he heard her talking to her husband. There would be no surprise appearance tonight. Penny would be his date for the evening.
He moved to the front hallway when he heard Penny’s tires on the gravel driveway. He waited in the shadows by the front door for Penny to come to him. A knife held tightly in his hand. She placed her key in the lock and turned it for the last time. No one heard her screams.
Hours later the killer left the way he came with only the sickle moon as a witness. He carried a bloody souvenir in his pocket. He would later write in his journal how much he enjoyed the evening with Penny. The sex was easy, a sure thing, but the begging was his favorite. The things they say before they die. Penny said she loved him. That she would leave Doug and go away with him. He loved that part. The part when he owned them, when they were his and no one else’s. It was the best.
Saturday, January 9, 1999
Pelican Shores, Florida
The pink neon blinked, “ESCAPADES”. Painted below in a bright pink was, “A Gentleman’s Club”. Randy Smyth was looking for some relaxation and this was just the place. Escapades was dimly lit and smelled of old beer soaked wood. The jukebox played “Sympathy For The Devil” and the dancer was blond. Randy paid the cover, bought a beer at the bar, and found a dark corner with an empty chair.
A dark haired dancer approached and asked, “Want a dance”?
She was smiling as she placed her hand on his shoulder. “You look lonely sitting here by yourself.”
Randy liked her right away. She had a thin dancer’s stomach, augmented boobs, dark eyes, and a great ass. “What’s your name”, Randy asked?
“Jasmine, what’s yours?”
“They tell me I give the best dances,” she prodded.
“Twenty for one, fifty for three.”
“Wow, you must be good.”
“Want a dance than?”
Monday, January 11, 1999
Pelican Shores, Florida
In the eastern sky the rising sun colored the clouds orange and red. From the west a cold front rushed across the Gulf of Mexico like the breath of an artic demon. Pulling the warm moist subtopic air into its clutches, driving it skyward creating a roaring wall of light and rain which would hit the west coast of Florida like a fist.
Tornados, rain and winter wind would shove their way east past Pelican Shores through Tampa, over Lakeland and Winter Haven onto Vero Beach and the vast Atlantic.
"I'd like to introduce Randy Smyth. He's going to be helping us out for a few months." Ralph Franklin announced to the early shift as thunder rattled the aluminum siding of the Inland Telephone Company’s gang room. The wind was already up. "Be careful out there until this thing passes. Find some inside work if you can." Twelve telephone installers sat in the gang room and listened to Randy, their supervisor. None of them paying much attention, with the front coming there wasn't much they could do until it passed and the rain stopped. The only inside work they had planned was sipping coffee and waiting out the weather. “There would be overtime tonight, count on it,” Ralph warned.
Ralph looked at Jake Shaw and nodded toward the conference room, “Jake, I need to see you before you leave this morning. The rest of you work safe today." Randy and Jake followed Ralph into the conference room.
"Randy, this is Jake Shaw." Randy leveled his gray eyes at Jake’s and grabbed his hand with the grip of a baby gorilla. He was about 35, as was Jake, only shorter and 40 pounds lighter. It was obvious that he used his hands to make a living.
"Jake, I need you to show Randy the ropes. He'll work with you today. Come see me before you leave tonight."
Ralph turned to leave, "You can stay in here and get started if you want."
After the door shut Jake asked, “Randy would you rather get a cup of coffee than stay here?”
"It's up to you."
Jake gave him directions to Jesse's, a small coffee shop north of the work center.
Jesse's was on the corner of Gulf Boulevard and 27th Avenue. They parked in back and took a booth with two other installers, Bill Garret and Tim Moore.
"Bill, Tim this is Randy." They shook hands as Willow, the waitress and owner, approached.
"Hi, Jake, can I get you some coffee?"
"Yeah, two," replied Jake, pointing to Randy.
"Be right back."
"Now there's a set of legs." Randy leered as Willow walked away. "I think I'm gona like Florida"
His eyes followed her until she disappeared into the kitchen. "Something like that could sure take my mind off work"
Bill looked at Jake, raised his eyebrows and nodded once toward Randy while he was occupied with Willow's backside.
"I'm breaking Randy in, Bill, do you have any advice for him?"
" Bill smiled and said, "Where're you from?"
"Anywhere they're paying me to do phone work. I worked in Dallas until December when they laid us off."
"You're a long way from Texas." Bill queried.
"Yeah, I know Jack Lewiston. He does the hiring for Craddock Cable. So I called when they laid me off. He said he had plenty of work. I took December off and drove over here."
Willow brought the coffee and a warm up for Bill and Tom. "Any breakfast this morning?"
"No, not this morning", Tom replied. We all shook our heads and she turned to go.
"Anything sweet as you on the menu", Randy looked at Willow and smiled.
" A sweet roll would go good with the coffee."
"I'll take it just to watch you walk back over here."
Thunder clapped overhead, the rain was coming hard now. The street across the small parking lot in front of the Jesse’s was flooded.
"Do you work in this?” Randy asked.
"Hell, no! We got a good union here. Our contract keeps us out of this." Tim said looking out the window. “ It’s dangerous in these storms.”
Randy smiled as Willow came back with his sweet roll.