View Full Version : About Dead Doris 1 of 8. Detective 2,600

October 7th, 2014, 03:49 PM
July 2003, Smith City in Ohio.
The old lady’s body lay silently though not exactly in peaceful slumber. Rather than resting in peace, it's repose seemed violated by two city employees hovering over its bed. They were Smith City detectives. Its eyes were open accusingly, mouth gaping as if to say, “leave me alone, you bastards.” At least that was Detective Sergeant Jablonski’s impression, and would have also been his choice of expletive if it were him being exposed to the world in a similar condition.

The body lay on its back on the bed, sheets twisted as if fighting its demise -- an all too familiar sight to them both.

Jablonski’s partner, Detective Second-Grade Edwards, stood in the open doorway to the room. It was a single in a cheap residential hotel. The coroner's assistant had been called to certify death.

Once a popular stay, luring visiting tourists and businessmen, the Statler Hotel had downgraded to cheap lodgings for local residents and prostitutes; showing its age by a sign reading “Stat_ _ _ _ otel." Even local pimps lived in better quarters around the corner.

“Here she is, Trix,” Edwards led the assistant coroner, named Trixie Thompson, over to the reposing body. Trixie's looks did little to belie her name, in that the lady looked as though she would fit well on the stage of a burlesque theater next door. A tall, fashionably-dressed brunette, thick glasses magnified the image of large green eyes, accentuating their color.

“This okay?” she asked, nodding at a cluttered dresser top near the bed as a place to leave her bag.

“Better not. At least until you make your expert opinion, Trix,” John Jablonski told her. In that city, every death rated the heading of “homicide” unless, or until, the cause was known without doubt. Even little old ladies dying peacefully in bed.

“Here, this should be okay.” He pulled over a kitchen chair that had been sitting in a corner. Just one hell of a way to start a Friday, John thought.

Trixie sat a brown medical kit on the edge of the chair, laid out a few instruments and began a simple but, to her, repetitive task of determining cause of death. While John complained of a few times a week, Trixie repeated that duty six or eight times a day.

While she was busy, the detectives looked the room over. It seemed cut and dried -- an old woman dying alone in bed. Neither detective or ME expected any complications.

It was only bad luck that they'd caught the squeal on their way to work. Hell, it was bad enough, John thought, that they had to suffer through the constant chatter of radios in their official cars, but now the damned things were required in their personal vehicles. Detective work required concentration and who could concentrate while listening for a call sign?

The landlady had knocked on Mabel Trum’s door that morning. No cooking being allowed in rooms, the two older ladies normally breakfasted together in the hotel manager’s apartment. That morning, Mabel hadn’t shown up.

Since they were such good friends, the landlady had checked on her friend. Discovering poor Mabel still asleep, she had shaken the woman by the shoulder -- with no reaction.

In her capacity, the landlady had seen many dead bodies and recognized her friend would never again be down for breakfast. Checking the magnets on her refrigerator door, she had called the police.

“Well, John?” Edwards poked a pen at a picture of three people standing next to what looked like a Ford from the forties or fifties. It appeared to be a normal-looking shot for the time-frame, but more like Bonnie and Clyde in that all three had the handles of pistols protruding from their waistbands or pockets.

Except by a trained policeman such as Larry Edwards, the weapons were barely discernible in the small print. He bent into dim light filtering through a dirty window to study the photo.

“With any luck we should get a weekend off for a change,” he said, looking closer. A rifle or shotgun barrel could be seen through the glass in the back window of the Ford. “Hey, John. Take a look at this.”

Jablonski leaned over to pick the picture up with two fingers and his handkerchief, holding it to the light.

“Don’t look like one of those amusement park thingies.” Jablonski studied the picture, looking back and forth from the body to the teenage girl in the picture. “She looks like a younger edition of our body here, Larry. Wonder if she has a record?”

“I suppose we can run her prints after Trixie gets them? Wouldn’t hurt nothing,” Edwards answered, idly stirring items around on the dresser top with the tip of his pen.

The detectives were killing time until Trixie finished making her ruling of death from old age in some form or other. Although mildly curious, both knew they wouldn’t really bother running the prints. The two had too much other work to do if they hoped for time off.

After Trixie finished, the detectives would search the room for identification, notify the meat wagon and the deceased's relatives -- if any, then go on to other things. After finding a cup of coffee and donuts somewhere on the way to the station, of course.

Later, Trixie would send a report to them giving information to use in their own one-page summation. That would be the end of it. The two had up to a half-dozen of those deaths to check out in an average week.

“I don’t think you guys are going to make it home this weekend.” Trixie interrupted their puttering around. “Come here a minute.”

She had the corpse’s head cocked to the side and, using a penlight, showed them spots of blood on the exterior of the left ear, along with a small glint of red inside. A dribble of dried blood led from the inner ear down to the earlobe, hardly noticeable unless you were looking.

“I’ll have to take the body back for Dr. Johnson to do an autopsy, gentlemen. It looks from here as though it’s an icepick wound and someone has jammed toilet paper in to stop the bleeding. Sorry fellows.” She grinned up at them as though she weren’t all that sorry.

Icepick. Icepick? Jablonski thought. Where the hell did you find one of those things these days? A few years back he had even looked, and couldn’t find one anywhere.


Back in 1942, Doris Trumbell had been an abomination -- ask her parents. Only sixteen, the girl already had a long juvenile record. Nothing serious: minor shoplifting, curfew violations, fights in school, drinking alcohol, and petty theft. Her parents were hoping they could survive until their daughter made eighteen and could be legally ejected from their home. Assuming Doris would, at the rate she was going, make it to that age.

It wasn’t her actions around her parents, brother, and sister that worried them. Doris was rarely seen at home, living with whichever man or boy would support her. It was the potential for trouble that worried her hard-working parents. At any moment, they expected a telephone call that Doris was either dead or in jail. It seemed a tossup as to which would come first.

The country was in the throes of war production. Manpower being scarce, even women were accepted in industry. Rationing was the norm, with a black market to supply goods to the populace. Police manpower also being affected by the draft, crime escalated out of control.


“S’all right, Jerry Honey,” Doris said, leading the mark through the back door of an abandoned and empty house, “mama ain’t home. She works nights at the Acme Plant.” Both of them obviously drunk, she stumbled on the top step, skinning her knee. “Ouhhh, that damn step.” She giggled drunkenly. “Shhhh, don’ wanna wake the neighbors.”

No way he could lie and say she looked eighteen, Jerry Honey knew. “Yeah baby, don’t want the neighbors to see.” He followed her into an empty kitchen.

Although drunk, Jerry Honey had enough sense left to notice the room was indeed empty. It had nothing in it but the kitchen sink and piles of trash.

“Hey, Janet, babe. What the hell--”

The flat of a half-rotten two-by-four jerked his head forward, blood splattering a wall. Jerry Honey fell to his knees.

“Hey, watch it.” Doris, suddenly a great deal soberer, jerked away. “You’ll get it on me. Ick.”

Jerry Honey was jolted by another blow, that one against the right side of his head. Since he was trying to stagger up at the time, he fell over instead. Two more blows, the last breaking the dry board, and Jerry Honey was out for the night.

“Damn it. That board stung my wrist when it broke, and I got splinters all over my hand,” Harry complained, sucking on a bleeding thumb while Doris went through Jerry Honey’s pockets. She also remembered to take off the guy’s watch. Still bickering, the two simply walked through the empty house and out the front door.

Harry was parked down the block. While he drove, Doris checked their loot.

“Pretty good, baby. We got us over forty dollars and a cheap watch.” She took out two tens and the watch, passing them to her confederate. “You keep the watch. It’s a man’s.”

“You wanna come home with me, Doris? I have a bottle of Crown Royal, unopened?” Harry checked the watch in the light of the car's dome light, then flipped it out his window. He rented a small room in an apartment building. Prices there were cheap, with most of their former roomers in the military.

“Na, I had enough for one night. Just take me to my place. Pete’s gonna be home before long and he gets mad if I’m not there.”

“I don’t know what you see in that guy, short and fat. I can just imagine you two in bed, as though you were a minnow topped by a whale.”

Both laughed at the implied picture.

“Now, it ain’t all that bad, Harry.” Doris giggled as she got out.

Her lover wasn’t home yet. Doris poured herself a drink of vodka and Coca-Cola and turned on the radio. She almost had Pete convinced. If he wasn’t such a coward, she would have done so long before and be out of that hick town by then. Despite his looks, and his relative impotence, Pete had a couple of good attributes.

For one thing, he had been wounded during early in the war and was an experienced soldier. He also worked as an assistant manager at the First National Bank downtown and, to make it even sweeter, was a gun collector. Pete even had one of those tommy-guns the gangsters used to use, supposed to be Pretty Boy Floyd’s, and had taught her how to use it.

In those days, defence plants going full blast and cash payrolls weekly, banks brought small bills in on Friday afternoons to cover paychecks. She was trying to get her lover to come in on a robbery at his bank, right after an armored truck dropped off the payroll money.

The bank had few employees. They were: Mr. Simpson, the manager; his assistant, Pete; two loan clerks and three tellers. Not even a uniformed guard. Pete had bragged one time of having over $ 100,000 on hand for a typical payday, counting the usual amount kept for emergencies and daily use.


At first, Harry wanted Doris to serve as the getaway driver, which she flatly refused.

“I set the whole damned thing up and you ain’t leaving me in no frickin’ car,” she fairly screamed in anger at Harry and their friend, Sammy. “If it wouldn’t be for me, you’d be home jerking off and talking about robbing another gas station. I go in or I’m taking my guns and going home.”

Finally, all of them agreed on simply leaving the car running out back with the doors locked and all three going in. The lot back there was usually empty and they wouldn’t be inside long.

Doris had never been in the bank with her boyfriend. Pete was against letting the world know he had a sixteen -- young looking sixteen at that -- year-old girlfriend.

One sunny day in July they parked in back of the bank. The lot was empty except for a few employee cars parked against a fence at the rear. Wearing Halloween masks, they went in through the little-used back door. Doris, dressed as a boy, carried her favorite -- the tommy-gun -- in a large brown paper shopping bag, hand on the pistol grip.

As the others headed for the entrance to the teller section, in the front of a large room, Doris fired a burst of .45cal rounds into the ceiling. One old man and two female customers were there at the time. Nobody needed to say anything. The three customers simply stood silently, looking at Doris and her smoking weapon.

Excitedly, nervous energy boosting her senses, she motioned them against a wall while trying to keep one eye on her companions who were active on the other side of the counter.

Pete had reluctantly agreed to go along with the robbery -- as long as no one was hurt. He was to act as surprised as the others but to make certain the robbers found all the money and help prevent anyone from fighting back.

Keeping an eye on the customers and the front door, Doris edged toward the partition. Pete, maybe misunderstanding his role, was taking far too active a part. Doris saw him helping stuff bags -- standing right alongside Harry. Harry’s shotgun, actually one of Pete’s own, lay on a counter between them.

The manager and tellers were lying on the floor, Sammy guarding them while watching the two frantically fill cloth sacks.

The employees must have realized that something was wrong with that picture Doris was thinking. At least one was probably wondering why Pete didn’t grab the gun and fight back, and why he was helping them so willingly.

Doris sighed. Pete’s willing attitude could ruin the whole damned plan. She knew her boyfriend and that he would talk if threatened with prison.

Sammy, supposedly on guard on that side of the counter, didn’t seem to notice one of the male loan officers lying next to a desk and pulling a telephone to the floor by the cord.

Doris fired a couple of rounds at the man to frighten him. The guy ducked and pulled harder, the telephone falling off the desk and landing next to him. As he grabbed at it, Doris adjusted her aim and fired a long burst. The loan officer jerked as .45cal rounds stitched his body. The smell of cordite accompanied rattling of empty cartridge cases as they hit an imitation-marble floor. One of the women screamed.

Panicking, Doris heard Pete yell and jerked her weapon in his direction, firing into his body as he turned and Harry dodged out of the line of fire. It was simply a reflex but, with the stakes raised, maybe the best solution, she decided later.

The robbers escaped the way they'd come in, through the back door and out of the lot.

End of section One of Eight. To be posted approx. every two days. Please tell me of any mistakes you noticed.

October 7th, 2014, 04:10 PM
I like it, the only thing that hit me right off was the transition from the present to the past. I believe they should be a new chapter, at least. The change is a little jarring. Also, you mention Dunkirk but the background suggests America. You might want to clarify where we are - for example is Pete English? How did he get to America? Are we in England?

Just some thoughts. Keep writing.

October 7th, 2014, 05:10 PM
Thanks for commenting, midnightpoet.

Since this is a fast-paced story, not a novel, transitioning a chapter at a time would make it difficult to keep the chronology. About a third of the story occurs in the forties, the rest in 2003. Posting either in longer sections would make it virtually impossible to keep the occurrences in both periods from overrunning each other.

I wouldn't want the detectives to find out about, for example, a killing before it actually happened in the forties. Going between the two eras, the killing of Doris and the initial bank robbery, can be confusing as is. Longer dedicated chapters would only make it worse.

The two crimes are related and intertwined. Doris was in on the robbery, then killed sixty years later. I try to let the detectives find out facts about the robbery AFTER revealed in the forties. For instance, they still think Mabel Trum was killed, while we know her name was probably Doris Trumbell and she was a bank robber. Later, the detectives will find out those facts on their own. Step by step, they'll zero in on Doris and the robbery, eventually finding who killed her and why. Another way to look at it is in very small often alternating chronological chapters.

It takes place in the US. I'll change the story to specify that fact. Also, there were Americans fighting with England early in WWII. Not officially, but volunteers. A good many of them were in the British Royal Air Force. Later, when the US entered the war, they converted over to American units. I wanted to emphasis Pete's having wartime experience and that was the first thing to come to mind, easily changed. So, I'll make two changes based on your comment, he-he.