View Full Version : About Dead Doris 3 of 8. Detective Adult 2,000

October 11th, 2014, 08:13 AM
Synopsis: In mid 2003, Detective Sergeant Jablonski and partner are called to investigate an old woman found dead in a small hotel room. They find out it's a murder. The scene shifts to Doris Trumbell, sixteen and wild in the year 1942. Her and friends, Harry and Sammy, with the help of her boyfriend, Pete, rob a bank where Pete works. During the robbery, Doris accidentally shoots Pete. They Escaped with the cash. Sammy being caught later, Doris leaves town.

Back to 2003. Sergeant John Jablonski, pockets loaded down and jingling with tools, plodded back up the hotel stairwell to the third floor. On that final search, he spared nothing. Starting in the center of the room, he pulled a chair over and began with the ceiling. He thumped with a wooden hammer for loose sections and used a screwdriver to pry at all the seams -- looking for hollow sounds or loose nails or boards.

Shining a bright flashlight along each section of the surface, he searched for shadows which might indicate heavy weights on the upper side of the pasteboard ceiling. Over time, a heavy object would tend to bow the surface directly below it.

Then he did the same with the floor in the center of the room, checking it carefully, inch by inch. His procedure was slow but effective. First the center of the room, top to bottom, then the furniture, leaving the walls for last.

Next, starting at one side of the door, he moved around the perimeters of the room, checking out each piece of the meager furnishings. As he finished with each, he would shove it into the middle of the floor and start on the next. John probed and pried each piece carefully from all sides, looking for marks, loose nails, lumps or sealed tears in padding, discolorations of any sort. Lastly, he shook or slammed them against the floor to see if anything loosened, then did it all again. Each piece was then piled into the center of the room, leaving bare spaces around the walls. After that were the walls, checked in the same manner as the floor and ceiling, inch by inch.

After spending several hours at his task, Jablonski was becoming discouraged until he found two loose nails on the inside of a window sash. With the glass down, the nails were hidden, but raise the window and they could be seen. Not only seen, but almost fell into his hand when he pulled on the head of the first with his screwdriver.

With the nails out, a six-by-one-inch section of wood came loose. Inside the windowsill he found a bankbook. Handling it carefully with his handkerchief, he opened it. The name on the account was Doris Trumbell. It occurred to John that Trumbell was close to Trum, Mabel’s name. Flipping carefully to the last page, he saw a fantastic figure of over $170,000.

The savings account was very old, dating from 1943, and had started out as slightly more than $150,000. It had gone both up and down over the years, indicating some sort of employment. He also noticed one period of about fifteen years with no activity. He figured it as a bank account that held the key to many secrets.

Detective John Jablonski sat back onto the floor, legs spread, while he rested and thought. He now had both a name and a possible motive. Unlike the other bills and bankbook, he hoped that this one might have valid references to check.

After he returned to the station and queried bank records by telephone, he called the FBI and State Police, asking both to check out the name “Doris Trumbell.” The detective then began the difficult process of trying to locate the three references this Doris woman had needed to start the old account. Of course all of them could either have died in the last sixty years or be fictitious. At least it was a place to start.


Back to 1942, the day after the robbery. “$400,000?” Sammy had been idly listening to the radio while looking over new car ads in a newspaper. He had already given about $10,000 to friends and family. “Did Doris hold out on us?” he asked himself.

Upon reflection, he didn’t think so. Although flighty, Doris had never seemed to him a devious type. She was too open to plan anything of that sort. Maybe the radio or bank was inflating the amount?

Later, listening to another broadcast which mentioned that many bonds had also been stolen, Sammy remembered the papers Pete had shoved into the bag. Sammy had been too busy at the time to question it and, although annoyed during the robbery, certainly couldn't stop Pete. He had thought of it as wasting time. He also recalled that the bags, including papers, were out back in his shed, still in the rear seat of the robbery vehicle.

Walking out to check, Sammy found the bonds. Figuring Harry was long gone, on his way to Texas, he split the bonds and Canadian money down the middle. Half for him and half for Doris. He intended to find and inform her later.

With an unexpected windfall of $150,000, Sammy’s spending went wild. He immediately drove to another town, another larger bank, to cash it all in.

He bought a new house across town, paying land taxes on it and, just for the hell of it, on his old property for the next hundred years. The county needed cash at the time and allowed paying that far in advance on taxes.

Sammy also bought not one but four new cars; two for himself and a couple for relatives. His mother had never had a new one in her life.

In the forties, that much money went a long way. Since his younger brother had always wanted his own auto-body shop, Sammy bought one for him.

The newly wealthy man became a frequent sight in local bars and bistros, spending money as though it were water.

Naturally, the police were checking for such activity. Sammy soon had a knock on his door. It was two police detectives along with a uniformed patrolman.

“You Samuel Burrows?” one of them asked. When Sammy nodded, the man requested, “We’d like to talk to you, Sam.”

With no way to explain, Sammy found himself bereft of his new riches, along with most of his recent acquisitions and his freedom. They tried, but couldn't get the land-tax payment back, sort of an intergovernmental matter.

Sammy found himself sentenced to thirty years hard labor in a penal institution. It could have been less, but Sammy refused to tell on the others. The state was famous for its early releases and he had managed to keep a little cash from the robbery -- hidden in that same old shack. Not a very good stake for the future, but better than none at all.


Driving her Buick, Doris was ready to leave the shack on her way out of town. Bag of retrieved loot over her shoulder, she was surprised to see another car, a fairly new Chevrolet, bouncing over the ruts of the dirt path -- coming toward her.

She dropped her bag and returned to the now-unlocked getaway car, grabbing a convenient pistol from the back seat. By the time the Chevy arrived, she was back outside, the gun jammed in the back of her belted jeans.

She was shocked to see Harry get out and walk toward her. He had a revolver in hand as he approached.

“What’s this shit about $400,000?” he called out, pointing the revolver at her chest. “You trying to cheat us, uh?”

“I didn’t know, Harry. Honest.”

“The hell you didn’t know. Thought you’d get away with it, bitch? I wouldn’t be surprised if you already killed poor Sammy. Where you hide his body? Probably back in the shed there. Or is it the woods?”

Badly frightened, Doris backed away from the advancing madman. She saw no way to run, no place to hide from the angry man and his weapon.

“Well, it didn’t work. That your money on the ground? Your’s and mine, and probably Sammy’s too.” He gave her an evil grin, his waving pistol then settling, aimed at her head. “I got news for you, bitch. It’s all mine now.”

Doris, not knowing what else to do, dropped to the ground and reached behind herself, even as Harry's weapon followed her movements and fired.

He missed, a bullet hitting the ground near her left knee. She managed to get off a single shot before he could correct his aim. It hit the man high in the left shoulder, jerking him in that direction. Holding the shaking pistol with both hands, she emptied it into Harry's body, dropping him where he stood.

Doris lay in the dirt for several long minutes, looking at Harry's body. Finally hearing bird chirping restart, she managed to get to her knees while sobbing hysterically and trying to breathe as panic ebbed, slowly draining away into a dull empty feeling.

Struggling for breath, she could see his blank unseeing eyes staring as though accusing her, as if it were her fault instead of his own. She would have worked something out between the three, Doris thought. No reason to ... to ... kill each other.

Finally getting to wobbly feet, she managed to drag his body into the shack, clumsily and frantically levering it into the back seat of the getaway car and slamming the door on a rusting metal tomb.

Not even thinking of searching him or his car, she threw her bag into her own Buick. Her only wish was to get out of there. Seeing newspapers on a shelf, she thought briefly of burning everything. Even while reaching toward them, she came to her senses, realizing that a fire would attract people to the shack. Doris only wanted to put distance between herself and that whole damned town.

Not having any real destination in mind, she turned south, finally settling in Florida. At first, she bought a nice little house and set it up. Putting the money into a local bank -- the same account Jablonski later found -- she lived a life of leisure. Having enough sense not to seem ostentatious, she didn’t flaunt her wealth.

Over the next few years, Doris went to and graduated from a local business school. Having attained an interest in firearms, she bought an interest in a gun-shop, one that catered mainly to the police, and settled down to a simple life. Instead of drawing from her bank account, she added to it.

Her business partner, however, was the opposite. He ran the shop into the ground, trying to expand by buying several others. He had controlling interest, so Doris was helpless to stop him.

Tired of day to day repetitious work, she bailed out of the failing enterprise and married a wealthy business executive. That marriage ended fifteen years later with a divorce.

Fat, fifty, and free, Doris again looked for fresh climes, ending up in a hotel room in Smith City. She figured that, if she spent it wisely, she still had enough money for the rest of her life.

Because of the bank robbery, she had never applied for a Social Security account when the program had started, afraid it might come back on her. In Smith City, Doris found there were private non-government social programs to help people in her position. Using the name Mabel Trum, she applied to a church for aid.

Using that program forced the need for a local bank account. Business savvy, Doris never kept much money in that bank, only enough to use day-to-day. Her robbery money was saved for emergencies and a few luxuries.

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

Olly Buckle
October 11th, 2014, 10:28 AM
My main objection is that you simply tell us what happened with little description, the old thing of 'telling not showing', see how a bit of 'showing' spices it up.
"Starting in the center of the room, he pulled a chair over and began with the ceiling. He thumped with a wooden hammer for loose sections and used a screwdriver to pry at all the seams -- looking for hollow sounds or loose nails or boards."
'Pulling a dining chair out from the table and standing on it he started with the ceiling. His wooden mallet rung hollowly, but always with the same note, there were no loose sections. His screwdriver squeaked and sent showers of dust that threatened to get in his eyes and make him sneeze as he pried at seams and tried nails, confirming there had been no disturbance here before his'
Going through the senses, seeing, hearing, touch, taste and smell, and finding which apply is a good way to personalise it and give it more depth.
By the by, you missed out the light fitting, I once created a beautiful stash in a ceiling covered in ceiling tiles using a cupboard catch, push up on the light rose and the whole tile hinged down.

The other thing it can do is condense things.

'Shining a bright flashlight along each section of the surface, he searched for shadows which might indicate heavy weights on the upper side of the pasteboard ceiling. Over time, a heavy object would tend to bow the surface directly below it.'

'The bright beam of his flashlight shone along the flat surfaces of each section, revealing no shadows where a heavy weight might have bowed the pasteboard over time'
No need to tell me he was looking for shadows if you have shown me were not there, remember the other adage 'less is more'

'His procedure was slow but effective.' not yet it wasn't, 'slow but thorough' would be more accurate.

There are no 'errors' that I see, nothing is 'wrong', but your 'this happened, then this, then this' approach gives an overall slow and plodding effect, fine when it is the sergeant plodding upstairs I suppose, but it doesn't work on things like the show down where you want immediacy and excitement.

October 11th, 2014, 05:12 PM
Thanks for commenting, Olly. You're right, of course. I should put more action into it. He could hit his thumb, swear, make comments or scratch his butt, he-he. I'll have to change it on the original. I hear Admins here are against "bouncing " stories by making changes in the posting. My only excuse would be that the previous posting had a lot of excitement. The next has an interview and the start of a romance. Something like that procedure is more an attempt to tell a naive reader about how a thorough search is conducted.

I was never much of a pot smoker in my youth, though I did smoke socially. And I have used light fixtures and switches to hide money in cheap hotel rooms. After checking in and before heading out to drink, I'd hide excess cash and unneeded ID inside light switches. At one place, where I stayed a week, I pried off a section of moulding from beneath a window sill to hide things. I never trusted hotel locks, normally carrying my own in my suitcase. Since most of my stays were short, if the management might, but never did, complain while I checked out. No big deal.

When I first started writing , I thought that less more. Then I picked up a used pocket novel from a guy who served as a crewman on a B-17 in WWII. It was loaded with excess verbiage but so interesting that I have it on my reference shelf and have used it in several stories. Now, I'm not so sure. What's excess to one individual may be enlightening to another. I admit, though, that it is a failing. And the showdown, when the finally go after her killer is a long five sections away.

I'm attempting to keep the 1940s part from getting too far ahead of the 2003 investigation.

Thanks again,

Olly Buckle
October 12th, 2014, 04:30 PM
Yeh, sure, there are times to go into one, look; remember what I said about all the senses

He missed, a bullet hitting the ground near her left knee. She managed to get off a single shot before he could correct his aim. It hit the man high in the left shoulder, jerking him in that direction. Holding the shaking pistol with both hands, she emptied it into Harry's body, dropping him where he stood.

The bullet hit the ground by her knee and whined off harmlessly as she felt the gravel spatter off her leg. Before he could fire again she got off a single shot. Simultaneous to the crack of the pistol he felt himself jerked round to the left as the bullet hit his shoulder, followed almost instantly by a searing pain. He looked down through a red haze to see her take the shaking pistol in both hands. That was the last Harry saw as she emptied round after round into his toppling body, until she had emptied the weapon, and lay in silence absorbing the smell of blood, cordite, and the dirt against her cheek.

It is not putting more action in, that would be distracting with trivia, it is making more of the action that is already there.