“I hope he doesn’t back out,” said Karen Blane.
“That makes two of us.”
She sat with her former boss and producer at WPLQ, Allen Viera. They sipped nervously at their second round of coffee as they waited for Officer Paul Emmert to arrive.
“Listen, Allen, I can’t say how sorry I am that you lost your job over my stubbornness.”
“Don’t be. We’re in this together,” he said.
They sat across from one another under the poor lighting of Morning Glory Café. Karen reached out and squeezed his hand. “But thank you none the less. I wasn’t always a producer, you know? I was out in the field once and believe it or not I was more tenacious than you would think.”
“I’d like to hear about that sometime.”
Karen smiled and Allen blushed.
Wait staff bustled about around them, cleaning spots of mixed wintery mess off from the floors and wiping down the tall tables and bar stools in preparation for the next wave of customers.
“I think that may be him.”
Allen pointed to a man standing in the doorway. He was disheveled from top to bottom and scanned around the seating area with darting eyes. Karen stood and pivoted. She had a face that was impossible to forget; perfect for television as Allen pointed out on several occasions under past circumstances. Blonde hair bounced with minimal effort on slender shoulders and her aqua eyes always welcomed a conversation. Officer Paul nodded and sighed before approaching with an outstretched hand. It was an awkward approach and Allen thought to himself there was an eerie tremble in his fingers as Karen grasped ahold.
“Thank you for meeting with us, Officer Emmert,” she said. “May I buy you a drink?”
“No, thank you. I’ve had one too many cups already and please, call me Paul,” he said.
“Very good. And this is Allen. He was my boss at WPLQ.”
“You didn’t say anything about doing an interview for the station,” said Paul.
“I was fired, too.”
“Oh. Jesus, I am sorry to hear that. I guess everyone lost something that night, huh?”
Their silence concurred his rhetoric. Paul didn’t sit until Karen had, and when he did, it was next to Allen.
Fear has a particular odor only an otherworldly sense can pinpoint. It’s acrid, sweet, and Paul reeked of it.
“So I have to ask, if you two don’t work for the station anymore, then why are you interested in what happened?”
“It’s journalistic integrity at this point. I took an oath—just as Allen did—to uncover the truth and we plan to do just that. Or we will at least exhaust all possible sources of information that are available. And honestly, if anything could help find the eldest Parish son, I think this will.”
“Not only that, I feel that WPLQ is hiding something,” Allen said. “Between you and I and this weak cup of joe here, the interview Karen took with the neighbor was never meant to be aired. If we can come to a… I guess logical conclusion, then we will air this online.”
“I take that airing that interview was how you lost your job.”
Allen rolled his eyes. “Yup, that is. But it’s for the best. I’m only bitter because this is incomplete… and fresh. I worked there for better part of a decade. So please, don’t mind me.”
“I understand. And my name will be kept anonymous? I still plan on going back to work once my psych-leave is over.”
“Of course,” said Karen.
Allen noticed that Paul wasn’t reassured.
“What we will do when we have the audio completed is add a voice modulator to your parts. I promise you that you’ll have a hard time discerning if it is you or not. And I’ll edit out any parts that indicate your role as first responder.”
“Alright. I just want to say before we start that I am only doing this because there is no other way to bring that Parish boy home. I don’t even know if this will help but what else can I do. Silence is acceptance.”
“How do you mean by that?” asked Karen.
“Well… if I was to say or do nothing, then I would accept that what little effort is being put in by the FBI and State Police is fine. It’s like the case is closed already and we’ve accepted that the boy is lost. That’s not right… and it isn’t what I signed up for. I want to protect and serve, and I feel that this is the only way to get some answers. So no, I will not sit back in silence when I know I can do something.”
They found their common ground and Karen pushed record.
“Tell us how the call came in that night? And more importantly, at what time?”
“I was on the roads at the beginning of the storm. I came in early, actually. I wasn’t due for work until midnight.”
“Graveyard shift?” Karen asked.
“Like all rookies to this department, yes. And I was the nearest to Perry Lane when it came over the radio as a domestic dispute at… I want to say seven on-the-dot. My sergeant… do I have to say his name?”
“No, no. What you said is fine.”
“My sergeant for that evening was ten or so minutes out and he arrived before I did. I wasn’t surprised. I’m not local to here and he knows the back roads better than I ever could. Plus, the storm wasn’t nearly as bad as it was made out to be. I’m originally from Aroostook County so I am use to a pounding.”
Allen now understood the accent. A Maine tongue sounds almost identical from county-to-county, coast to inland. There was a certain laid-back hum in Paul’s speech overshadowed by a tormented shrivel that Allen guessed was never present before that night.
“Was he already inside or did he wait for you?”
“No, he was inside. I pulled in behind his squad car and when I got out I just… I knew something wasn’t right. It’s hard to describe.”
“All I ask is that you try your best for us.”
He sighed and looked to the ceiling. Even in the dismal lighting it was apparent that the color was slowly receding from him as he recalled further into the depths of some abhorrent memory that prodded with nefarious intent from the darkened corners of his mind.
“It was the streetlights… and the noise.”
“How do you mean?”
“The silence was deafening and I remember turning before I ran inside to see a plow truck pass by. I saw it, but I couldn’t hear it. And it crept by at a speed that seemed something out of a movie. Like it was in slow-mo. When it went under the streetlights—which were on, I swear they were—it vanished and appeared on the other side. It was as if something was keeping the world away from Perry Lane that night. And the storm. I always forget this and I don’t know how ‘cause I have dreams of it every night since… but the storm seemed to come from that house.
“Snow whipped around me and I felt like I was sprinting through a blizzard. The winds gnawed at my face and there was this horrid blast of cold pelting my body from the opened doorway. There must’ve been a two-inch difference in accumulation on the Parish yard than anywhere else in town. I rushed in and hollered for my sergeant, but he couldn’t hear me and worse, I couldn’t hear my own voice. This all must sound crazy.”
Paul brought his pale hands to his pale face and began to breathe. It was shallow and strained.
“It’s okay, you’re doing fine,” said Karen as she reached out and squeezed his hand as she did Allen’s. “What happened next?”
“There was a foyer and to the left the door was closed. On the right was the first victim. I guessed it was the mother’s body parts that I saw.”
“Wait, did you say body parts? The official statement by FBI only said beheading,” said Karen.
“That is what we’re all supposed to say if anyone asks. Her limbs were severed and just piled haphazardly. It must’ve been the living room—or one of them—see the house was bigger than it looked on the outside and I didn’t get much further than that. I saw my sergeant in the next room with his weapon drawn and he turned with it raised. He didn’t fire and I remember he chewed my ass out something fierce for coming in quiet. I knew he couldn’t hear me… he won’t admit it but I know he didn’t.”
“Was every victim like that?”
Allen sat in awe as Karen’s resolve remained stoic through the details.
“Yes… even the little girls. Chopped up in fucking piles. My sergeant was pale as a ghost and I could tell he was going to be sick. I was in shock. I couldn’t move or speak, let alone process what I saw come from behind him. It was the husband.”
“I knew him right off. I mean—I didn’t know him personally, I just remember being briefed a few weeks back that he was the cause of several minor disturbances. But he was different than you or I.”
“How do you mean?”
“My sergeant isn’t a small man by any means. He must be six-three on a good day and weighs close to two-forty. But Mr. Parish was easily seven feet and he came from those shadows quicker than anything I’ve ever seen and he was screaming over and over ‘He’s coming back. Oh yes, oh yes. He isn’t done and he isn’t happy.’ He took us both off guard. My sergeant was knocked out cold with a single blow and he grabbed his gun and shot me, twice.
“I was ridiculed for wearing my vest since I started as a deputy and I am glad I just ignored it. I know it’s small town Maine, but you never know what you’ll face. Complacency is a killer worse than murder. I am glad that I drew my gun and shot him dead where he stood. Would you be surprised to hear it took the entire clip to drop Mr. Parish? Every single bullet hit him square in the chest and in the arms and in the face. I am quite the shot and I know I dumped four rounds into the kill zone.”
Paul made a circle with his index finger that started above the eyebrows and went around to the bottom of his nose.
“That also wasn’t in the report and yes, I am very surprised,” said Karen. “What happened next?”
“First there was this sensation and a popping sound. I can only describe it as a tremendous amount of pressure being relieved from every inch of my body and I could finally hear. Then I called it in. Triple murder, suspect down and one officer injured. My sergeant roused easily. When he came to he ran through the kitchen and out the back door. I yelled out to him and he only said that the oldest—Bobby Parish—was not here. I still don’t know how he knew but I guess he searched the house prior. He has never said. Some say he is friends with the mother and maybe more at one point years back.”
“And what did you do?”
“I went out the front door and I hurled. I don’t think I have vomited more in my life. Once I composed myself I went around the house and out back to find my sergeant scanning the ground with his flashlight. He found tracks and ran into the woods. He was only gone for a few minutes and said the tracks just stopped, but they had to be Bobby’s. By now the rest of the department showed and I never stepped foot back in that house.”
“But why was it called a murder-suicide when you shot him in self-defense?”
“Because of the note,” said Paul.
“They didn’t share that, huh?” His scoff was filled with disgust. “Course they didn’t. There was a suicide note found on the kitchen table. I haven’t read it nor will I ever, but from what little I heard is that Mr. Parish aimed to off himself one way or the other after he killed his family. Police Chief Sandborn took that as enough to call it a Police Assisted Suicide, even though he believed that I shot him in self-defense. I asked him why and he said that I would thank him later. I already have, to be honest.”
“What do you think he meant by that?”
“I think that he didn’t want me—the rookie—to be labeled a hot-head and ready to shoot at the first sign of trouble, even though I have been branded a hero from my fellow officers and the FBI, but I know where he is coming from. He is not only protecting me but the town. And his force. He isn’t a bad man or a liar, he just wants to make sure we stay small-town-Maine for as long as we can.”
“Thank you, Paul. I think that will do. Can we contact you if there are any other questions?”
He never gave them a direct answer. Paul only stood and applauded them for trying to uncover the truth, and left. Allen spoke for the first time since Karen started recording when the door of Morning Glory Café shut behind him.
“We’re getting into that house and we’re doing it tonight.”
© Copyright John Potts Jr 2016 – 2017
Sorry for being a day late on this friends.
I am honestly having a fucking blast writing this piece and I didn’t expect it to run this long, so look for Part Four at some point in the coming week.
Right now I am reading some Joe Hill. I was first introduced to Lock and Key a few years ago. I am sadden to say that I am only up to book three in the phenomenal graphic novel series and the exquisite illustrating of Gabriel Rodriguez is second to none. I want to buy them all in hardcover and I will not read it unless it is in hardcover. I’m weird like that but I do have an extensive graphic novel collection and dammit, I am going to do this one justice.
Right now I am on 20th Century Ghosts, an anthology of short stories that is just….
Once I am done with that I will move onto The Fireman and will probably reread Heart Shaped Box. Well, let me correct that. I listened to the audio version narrated by Stephen Lang. What an adventure.
If you haven’t heard of Joe Hill or read any of his stories then I have to say that you’re doing it wrong. Doing what wrong, John? You may ask.
Stop what you’re doing and go read anything of his. You won’t be disappointed. If you are, then I don’t know what to tell you. I can only lead a horse to water.
I think a new “King” has come forward in horror, and his name is Joe.
See what I did there? If anyone doesn’t know, Joe is Stephen King’s son. Writing must run in the family.
Speaking of audio reads… Psudopod or Wayne June reading Lovecraft is usually how I end my nights. I am working on my own audio reads for the stories posted here. I have a decent setup at the moment and–most importantly–I have overcome this awful sore throat that lingered something fierce, so I hope (no guarantees for a timeline or schedule) to roll-out some narrations done by yours truly.
That is my setup right now. Vault boy approves. I use the Necronomicon to elevate the microphone so that my mouth is slightly above the pop filter. I know, it’s probably a sin to use that book in this manner, but it helps with body positioning and it does catch some of the mush-mouth and denture-click noises. I don’t have dentures (or do I?), that is just the term used.
Thanks for coming back. Keep warm and stay true to what you feel is right. Even if it is summoning dark forces to better your advancement in life.
Just make sure the bargain is advantageous.
John Potts Jr