Blue Box Assassinations

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
James avenges the rape and murder of his daughter. Things spin out of control when he helps a friend avenge the killing of his mother and money becomes a goal.
The best kept secret is one you don’t tell.

Submitted: April 24, 2017

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Submitted: April 24, 2017

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10/6/2000, Friday:

637 pm: IG: Enters toilet.

652 pm: IG: Leaves job site.

James Galway, mouth clamped shut to keep from yelling at Ignacio, glaring all the while at him, heard the snap of the pencil lead as he pressed the tip against the paper in a new row on the table in the special section of his notepad, used the pencil feed to renew the tip, and with his usual precision and attention to detail finished recording his observations, went to his office, packed up the note pad and lap top, and left the job site to end his Monday through Friday work week. The project, ahead of schedule and on budget, would require no work this week end by the crafts or more importantly himself so after switching off the interior lights and turning on the outside lights, he left for the short drive home.

After opening the garage door, he drove the car into the garage using the utility power outlet on the rear wall and the vice on the workbench as guides to place the vehicle in the just the right spot, entered the house through the garage door, went to his home office, unloaded the notepad and lap top, and pressed the start button on the desk top while he listened to the messages on the answering machine. There were the usual spate of telemarketing messages and automated hang ups and the weekly call from mom. The desk top finished booting up, he opened the dedicated workbook on the flash drive, transferred the data for Ignacio’s activities from the notebook to a new row on the spreadsheet, and took his time to scan through the rows one row at a time with special focus on the latest week’s entries. Satisfied that today’s entries were well within the range for entries entered each Friday over the last three months, he focused his attention on the times for Ignacio’s final visit to the toilet and departure from the job site. Ignacio’s work day generally included dealing with the crafts, work place safety issues, training, meetings, reports, signing off on time cards, always ending with departure on Monday being the earliest at 615 pm and Friday being the latest at about 650 pm.

James wasn’t a superstitious person but knew that a lot of people including Ignacio regarded Friday the 13th as an unlucky day requiring extra caution and he hoped he would be ready to strike 7 days from today. Although he knew he had several things to do to get to that point, he didn’t mind and in fact took a great deal of pleasure of completing each and every task associated with getting ready to extract payment from Ignacio for the pain he had caused him and had inflicted on his beautiful daughter Sharon and precious wife Sara. With a project engineer’s thorough attention to details he wanted to complete a final test, recharge the gas injection system, and complete any modifications before the end of the day Saturday so he could go to the job site and swap out the assassination toilet for the rental unit early Sunday. Just two days earlier on Wednesday, the rental company had completed flushing and servicing the rental toilet and wouldn’t be back to service it for three more Wednesdays.

There wasn’t anything off normal about the new entries, it was now almost 715, and although his lunch of fish and chips had been tasty enough that was about 100 pm, his hunger had taken over and he was mature enough to know trying to focus on anything other than getting himself recharged with a good meal now was not an efficient use of his time so his focus shifted from the rows and rows of numbers to preparing his dinner. In the kitchen, he put in the meatloaf, selected bake and set the temperature on the oven at 350. Three red potatoes were already cooked and he would only need to put them in for the last few minutes while the meatloaf finished cooking. The dish of zucchini and crook neck squash was ready to cook in the microwave and would take a little more than 5 of minutes. After he started the meatloaf, he went to the special project room in the garage, unlocked the door, went inside, and deactivated the alarm. Just looking at the assassination toilet gave James a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of calm from the knowledge it wouldn’t be long until Ignacio was inside and James was extracting payment for what he had done. Almost lovingly he gazed at the device he would use to complete his mission of revenge for a long time. At this point the only reservation James had was Ignacio wouldn’t suffer nearly as much for what he had done as Sharon and although he considered changing Ignacio’s punishment to permanent brain damage he rejected that punishment option because if Ignacio had any awareness left he would probably feel that he had been rewarded. James finally decided that death due to nitrogen asphyxiation was the price James would extract from Ignacio.

On his way back to the study from the project room, he put the potatoes in to warm up, went to his desk, and took out the binder stuffed with news articles, court transcripts, and his own notes. The notebook was so stuffed it couldn’t be closed tightly and some of the documents had been flipped so many times they were torn and taped on the edges to hold them together. He thought about getting a second notebook but there was no suitable place to separate the information so he hadn’t done so. Maybe a bigger notebook would be a good idea. He would see how he felt after the assassination. Perhaps he would feel a total release and just get rid of everything. That was probably a good idea for after the strike but for now he felt compelled to keep all of it together to provide him with the motivation and willpower to complete his mission of revenge. Maybe he would separate out the information about Sharon and toss the rest. He had a little time to think about it so for now he planned to just leave the notebook and the collected information as it was.

The smell of the meatloaf and potatoes coming from the kitchen was making his mouth water and he knew once his appetite was whetted to this degree to concentrate on anything else was a waste of time so he left the notebook open to the article announcing the not guilty verdict on his desk, went to the kitchen, and started cooking the squash in the microwave. On Fridays he liked to use some nice dishes and flatware and eat at the dinner table even if he was the only one having dinner. It was his way of compensating himself for all he had been through, all he had accomplished, and an attempt to bring some amount of normalcy to his life such as it was now. He knew his life was anything but normal. How could he have expected it to be otherwise? Maybe everybody’s life was abnormal? James had thought about that but it did little to ease his pain. It was not one of the situations where other peoples’ misfortunes gave him comfort. His pain was too great to take solace in the knowledge that a lot of people all over the world were hurting worse than he was. He felt pain, had done so for a long time, and hoped that executing Ignacio would end or at least ease his pain. Doing a normal thing such as sitting down to dinner at the big table with nice dishes did give him one thing normal in his life. As for the rest, he thought,

Maybe in time? Maybe yes. I hope so!

After the not guilty verdict Sara tried to cope but after more than a year of trying to move on after Sharon’s death, she had gone to the garage, started the car, and gotten in the back seat. James had been called out to attend to problems with the 24 inch steel I beams being used for erecting a new plant building at a plastic compounder. The call out lasted until the wee hours of the morning so he caught a short nap on the couch in the office and returned home in the morning to find the car running in the garage with Sara inside the car. It was one more chapter in the horror of the two years during which his life had gone from being one full of extreme joy and pride in his beautiful family to one of desolation, emptiness, and depression. James tried to decide if his life was more like a dry lifeless desert or a swamp full of disease and decided it didn’t matter. It had gone from beautiful and full to desolate, empty, and barren like a dried-up field where no rain had fallen for a long time. But it wasn’t warm. It was more like an empty farmer’s field during the middle of winter with no growth and a brisk north wind making everything even colder.

His sisters, Linda and Veronica, were amazed at his ability to continue, but Helen’s son was no stranger to her and she knew that he wouldn’t show his pain. She sometimes wondered if he wouldn’t or if couldn’t was a better word. It hurt her knowing how much pain her son was likely feeling and hurt her even more to know she could do nothing to ease that pain. James had always been hesitant to show any bit of weakness or sadness no matter how badly he hurt so she finally decided to just be there for James if he did reach out to her.

What neither his sisters nor his mother could know was that completion of the tasks and activities to achieve his goal of destroying Ignacio, the person responsible for his loss, in as mean and disgusting a way as he could was the pain relief he needed. He owned up to his own action that had led to the evil done to Sharon but he likened his action and how that action fit into the overall chain of events to that of an ammunition manufacturer. Sure, the ammunition manufacturer created the cartridge but the use of the cartridge to kill someone was not an action taken by the manufacturer. He didn’t deny that his working with one of his engineer buddies to get Sharon a job working at another active construction project as a timekeeper was part of the chain of actions that resulted in Sharon’s rape, torture, and murder. Those closest to him tried to convince him that he was not to blame for what had been done to Sharon. Even his very good friend since childhood, Rick Deering, couldn’t remove James’ feeling that he was not totally blameless. James, with a project engineer’s mind, connected separate actions into a totality, seeing interconnectivity between the separate actions, and as much as he tried he could not separate his own action from the string of actions. It might have been easier to forgive himself if he could conclude that what was done to Sharon was just a bad luck of the draw and that Sharon had just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Although he never completely lost the feeling that he had something to do with the chain of events that resulted in Sharon’s death, he had made enough peace with his own action for the wound to heal over to the point that it wasn’t as sensitive as when it was fresh but it was more like it had scabbed over, still a little sore, and would likely be so for the duration of his life.

Maybe it was indeed just a bad luck of the draw. Thursday Sharon had been working on the time cards to get everything ready for payroll on Friday. As a crew chief, Ignacio had to look over the records for his crew on Thursday and had gone to the trailer where Sharon was working by herself at her desk. They were the last ones still at the site which left the construction parking lot practically empty. Lighting was generally poor in these lots and the lighting in this project’s construction lot was as poor as any. Even if all the lights had been working the lighting was poor but with almost 30 percent of the lights out the area lighting was a joke. After signing off on the time records Ignacio hit on Sharon asking her if she wanted to go have a drink with him. When she declined, he put up his most macho bluster talking about what a great lover he was and how one night with him would be just what she needed to make her into a woman. She rebuffed him more harshly, he resented her response and decided he would give her what he thought she needed. He waited in the parking lot and as Sharon walked to her car, he forced her into his van, drove to a secluded area behind the construction site, and once there raped and tortured Sharon before strangling her and dumping her body in a drainage ditch. Using the time Sharon had clocked out and the medical examiner’s estimated time of death the detective assigned to the case estimated that Sharon had been tortured and raped for over four hours.

Sara figured Sharon had gotten together with one of her girlfriends but this was a Thursday and it was way past the time for Sharon be home so about midnight she asked James to check. Sharon’s car was still in the construction parking lot. He made a round with the on-duty security guard and spotted Sharon’s body in the drainage ditch behind the plant. Interviews with the security people pointed the way for the detectives to begin their investigation. The security guard at the parking lot said he had seen someone talking to Sharon in the parking lot but couldn’t positively identify the person as Ignacio since they all looked the same to him. But the security camera showed a van in the lot about the time Sharon was recorded as entering the parking lot through the plant construction exit gate. The poor lighting made positive identification of the van as Ignacio’s impossible. The detectives made a cast of tire tracks and boot foot prints for a size 10 ½ construction boot near where Sharon’s body was found and although there was a positive match between the castings and Ignacio’s foot print and the tires on his van, Ignacio said he had driven around to the back of the plant to smoke a joint. Eventually there was a trial but Ignacio’s story as to how his foot prints and the tire tracks happened to be found close to where Sharon’s body was found were enough for the jury to return a not guilty verdict. Sara was devastated. The loss of her daughter and no apparent justice left her with such a sense of loss that after being unable to cope, she had chosen to end her life instead of going on. She figured if no one else would pay for Sharon’s death, she would do so herself.

James, devastated by Sharon’s death along with the added burden of loss of his beautiful Sara, decided he might eventually end his own life but not before he extracted a measure of revenge against the one responsible. He hired a private detective who followed Ignacio to a bar where Ignacio hit on one of the whores at the bar promising to make the whore into a woman just like he had done for Sharon. James’ detective bribed the whore getting her to tell him what Ignacio had said. Because of the double jeopardy rule and the detective characterizing the whore as a crack head, James decided there would be no new trial but for James it was as guilty a verdict as he needed and now the time was rapidly approaching when Ignacio would be called upon to pay for making Sharon into a woman. And just like Ignacio had decided that he would give Sharon what he thought she needed, James decided to have Ignacio suffer the punishment James thought he should suffer.

James planned to hold off having any alcohol until the Friday evening test run had been completed so with dinner finished, he scraped and rinsed the dishes, loaded the dishwasher, pressed start, and went to the project room. After switching on the room lights and turning on the exhaust fan, he did a walk around to make sure the toilet was ready, placed a 50 pound sack of sand on the seat, and allowed himself a few seconds to imagine that shortly the sack would be replaced by Ignacio’s sweaty, stinky butt before he sat down at the control panel. After pressing the start button, he watched as the power up light flashed red for 3 seconds, flashed green for 5 more seconds, and began showing steady green. Next he ran through a check of the subsystems. Pressures on the nitrogen and hydrogen sulfide cylinders showed good. Each of the solenoid valves to start the flow of each of the gases showed steady green and the solenoid on the lock showed steady green. James donned his mask, pressed the arm button, and watched as the arming status light flashed red then flashed green and then turned steady green.

James pressed go on the control console. The sound of the solenoid locking the door tight was so precise, smooth, and satisfying. It would happen soon and he hoped Ignacio would feel terror when he heard the lock slide into place. When James heard the nitrogen solenoid valve open and the hiss of the nitrogen as the deadly gas started to flow into the toilet, it was all he could do to keep from cheering at the top of his lungs. He looked at the pressure gauge on the toilet. After 10 seconds, it showed a good positive pressure at 17. Then the solenoid valve for the H2S injection clicked and the flow of the toxic gas began. 15 minutes later the H2S solenoid valve clicked closed. After 30 minutes the pressure still indicated steady at 18.5. The digital record showed that the pressure had risen to 18.5 only 15 seconds after pressing go and held steady for the almost the entire time. James thought,

More than enough time.

Ignacio will have been dead for almost 25 minutes.

And H2S exposure will be the apparent cause.

But the real cause will be nitrogen asphyxiation.

James knew when Ignacio’s body detected the decreasing blood oxygen level, it would begin increasing his breathing rate which in the low oxygen and high nitrogen atmosphere inside the toilet would only cause the blood oxygen level to drop faster. The response of Ignacio’s own body would do him in. And when the H2S started to flow his increased breathing rate would cause the deadly poison to be absorbed into his tissues where the medical examiner would find evidence of its presence and conclude that some unknown toxic gas possibly H2S had caused Ignacio’s death.

James had spent days and months of intense study to layout the times, rates, and responses. He pressed the complete button and listened for the solenoids to disengage. Once he had opened to toilet door he watched as the oxygen monitor in the project room dipped slightly, then rose back to 21 percent, and the H2S monitor dropped below the H2S TLV showing it was safe to take off his mask. The data for the H2S concentration inside the toilet showed it had never exceeded 2.5 percent, well outside the flammable range for H2S.

He made a couple of notes in the project book, went to the kitchen, and got a cold beer.

It was a successful test. He couldn’t see how it could have gone smoother. Maybe he would test it tomorrow with a hamster. But what point? He had no ax to grind with a little rodent. The goal was to assassinate Ignacio and by this time next week Ignacio would be done and on his way to whatever happens after death. A thing of the past. Not a person of the past. A thing. No sense in humanizing a monster.

James went to the study, looked at the mail, checked email, went to the bedroom, took a warm shower, and checked the news. He was really interested in the weather. No fronts or systems to worry about. He continued to watch while the late-night talk show host wrapped up his opening monologue.

Same crap night after night.

Why not?

It keeps selling and there isn’t anything much better.

Same old movies and sit com re runs. How could it be more boring?

Saturday morning James was up at 530. The things needing to be done included the usual chores and getting the toilet ready. He always enjoyed chores and made out his list. As each one was scratched through he felt a little accomplishment although once he had them all scratched through it left him a little hollow and feeling like he had nothing to keep him from being bored.

He was up early on Sunday morning, quickly checked the weather, backed the truck up to the project room, loaded up the toilet, and went to the job site. Once he had exchanged the toilets, he went back to his house and backed the truck into the garage. Everything was set.

Monday through Thursday things at the job site were on track. Friday morning Ignacio worked a typical day, showing up at a typical time and completing typical tasks.

At 630 Ignacio went into the toilet and James pressed the power up button, saw the green light showing that Ignacio had taken a seat, pressed the arm button, donned his mask, and pressed the go button on the remote. At 650 James backed the trailer up and slid the regular rental unit off the trailer bed back into position.

James listened for a sound coming from the toilet and heard nothing. He peeked inside the assassination toilet. Ignacio was slumped against the back wall. James felt for a pulse. Nothing. He held a mirror up to his nose. Nothing. He felt his chest. Nothing.

Me thinks he’s dead.

He transferred Ignacio’s corpse into the rental toiled, loaded up the assassination toilet, made sure the tarp was tight covering it, and left the job site. Back at his house, he backed the trailer up to the project room, unloaded the assassination toilet, and gave it a thorough scrub down with bleach and fresh water.

It had been a long week and a long but satisfying day. He wondered how long it would take before Ignacio would be missed. Saturday morning the phone rang about 9 am. It was Ken Johnson the plant manager. He was needed at the job site.

“Why? Project’s on schedule and budget. It’s Saturday.”

“Dead worker. When can you be here?”

“When do you need me? And for how long?”

“As soon as possible. You should be able to take care of everything in 30 minutes or so.”

“I’ll be there in an hour.”

“Okay.”

At the job site, James went to the construction trailer. Ken was in the conference room so he knocked on the door.

“Good morning James. One of the workers, Ignacio Gonzales, was found dead in the rental toilet. We need for you take care of whatever needs to be done.”

“Okay. I should be able to take care of everything well before lunch. Do you want to know what is going on?”

“I just need you to let me know everything is done.”

“Okay. Are you going to be around for a while?”

“No. You can just call me. If I don’t answer just leave a message. If there is anything urgent, page me. Otherwise I will just get the message as part of normal delivery.”

About 1030, James called, left a message for Ken, and left the plant. It was time for a celebration.

He was hungry. Fried chicken! He was going to have fried chicken for lunch. The drive through wasn’t open yet so he went inside and bought a 2 piece mixed meal with a thigh and breast, cole slaw, and mashed potatoes with brown gravy. Back home, he sat down at the table on the deck. It was a beautiful day! After lunch, he went to the study, took out a blank piece of white paper, wrote “14 October 2000 The End!!!!” on it in very large black lettering, underlined and circled the message for emphasis, and put the page on top of the binder in his desk.

Sunday morning the phone rang about 830. It was mom.

“Have you listened to the news this morning or read the headlines on the paper?”

“No. Why?”

A man, Ignacio Gonzales, was found dead yesterday morning at a construction project site. Isn’t he the guy who you think was responsible for raping and killing Sharon?”

“He’s the guy. I got a call from the plant manager yesterday. Any details from the newscast?”

“None that I have heard from the news.”

“Okay.”

“Do you want to come over for Sunday dinner?”

“Sure. What time? And what would you like me to bring?”

“Come over whenever you want. We can cook a pork tenderloin on the grill. I know it’s spur of the moment so just make it whenever you want.”

“Okay. I have a few things to take care of. I’ll be over after I get finished.”

Helen got a second cup of coffee, switched off the tube, sat down at the kitchen table, and thought to herself,

I wonder if James had anything to do with Ignacio’s death? I won’t ask him but if he talks about it I wonder if I’ll be able to tell.

About 930 James’ phone rang again. It was his oldest and best friend, Rick. Even before kindergarten they had become friends in Sunday School. They had remained friends and allies ever since. Rick was at a loss about what to say to James following Sharon’s or Sara’s death. He was willing to help in any way he could, knew how hard it was for James to ask for help, and thought that he would just be there for James. Rick spoke first.

“Hey man! How’s it going?”

“Everything’s cool with me. How ‘bout you?”

“Same here. I don’t know if you heard but that guy you thought did all that stuff to Sharon a few years ago was found dead in a temporary toilet yesterday. I think it was at the plant where you have a job going?”

“I got a call from the job site yesterday and had to go in. And my mom called this morning. She let me know.”

“Maybe there’s some justice after all?”

“Maybe so.”

“You got any plans for later today?”

“I’m going over to my mom’s house for a cook out.”

“That sounds wonderful. Well enjoy the rest of your day. Maybe we can get together one day soon for lunch or dinner?”

“That sounds good.”

“Let’s just leave it open but definitely make plans to get it done. Sooner is better than later.”

James ended the conversation, “Yes it is. Thanks. For everything. We’ll talk later,” and hung up the phone.

Hearing from Rick after so long was a welcome surprise and James promised himself that he would take the opportunity to rekindle their friendship. Very early in the Galway household, James learned that having pretty sisters was a great way to make male friends. Rick was particularly attracted to James’ younger sister, Veronica. If James hadn’t been her brother he would have been vying for Veronica’s affection. Soft shiny brown hair cut to her shoulders. Dark brown, practically black eyes. Smart. Great body. Pretty face. Great personality. Rick and Veronica were single and had no prior marriages to deal with and James was fine with Rick being interested in Veronica. Rick was a good guy, loyal, smart, and James thought they would make a good team.

Sunday before noon James got to Helen’s house. She was sitting on the deck on one of the chaise lounge chairs sipping a glass of iced tea. After he called out to her to let her know he was there, he went over and sat at the picnic table.

James stared at the changing leaves on the crepe myrtles. He loved the colors as the totality of the small dark green leaves changed to a mixture of golds, oranges, purples, and yellows before falling and covering the ground like a carpet. Now that it was fall the fruit trees had also run their course. After the last of their fruits dropped the leaves had taken their cue from the crepe myrtles and changed their earlier vibrant green leaves to various hues and were gradually falling to the ground around the base of the tree leaving the bare branches thrusting hopefully toward the sky trying to gather enough sun to postpone the inevitable but eventually failing with the leaves falling to the earth to cover the fruits the tree had produced as it tried to protect them. The fruits would eventually be claimed by the earth or taken by the jays, grackles, crows, possums, rabbits, squirrels, and racoons to prepare themselves for the upcoming winter’s bleak, barren period.

He looked up at the sky. No clouds today. Clear. Warm. And dry. Helen spoke first,

“Very little wind today.

“Have you had breakfast? There are some cinnamon rolls on the counter. I just made them from scratch this morning.”

“I know they’re wonderful but I think I will pass for now.”

“How are things at work?”

“I know you want to know if I had anything to do with Ignacio’s death. All I will say is that I wish I did.”

“Just be careful. I would hate to lose my son over some punk’s death.”

“Don’t worry. Someone has to prove something. As we saw with Ignacio’s trial even with evidence it’s hard to get a conviction. And I seriously doubt that the police will put forth much effort on something like this.”

Helen needed to divert her attention from James and got out a deck of cards and a cribbage board. With James’ background in probability and working with numbers he was practically a master at the game. Helen’s advantage was ignorance about probabilities. She took risks when the odds favored holding onto different cards when the crib was made. James was probably a little ahead in their win loss history but their games were generally close and the winner wasn’t known until the last hand. Sometimes they didn’t even get to the count on the last deal and someone went out during the play.

But today James’ mind was clear and he was focused. Even though he hadn’t gotten good cards he had played smart and was way ahead by the time Helen scored 90 points and started down the last street to the finish. James won the game by almost 30 points. It was one of the most decisive victories in their recent games.

After their game, they moved ahead with cooking their Sunday dinner. Helen wrapped up asparagus in one foil packet and potatoes with onions in another. The foil packets went on first and after 20 minutes, they put the pork on to cook. After 40 minutes on the grill the internal temperature of the pork indicted 140. It was a little rare as they liked it. They sat at the picnic table, James with a glass of red wine, Helen with a glass of chardonnay, and clinked their glasses together in a silent toast.

Overhead several flights of migrating geese were headed south for winter. The flights would continue well into December and would be finished by the first of the new year.

James thought to himself,

How beautiful everything is now.

After lunch, Helen switched on a football game, James’ sisters came over and joined them, and they enjoyed an afternoon of family remembrances, football, popcorn, beer, burgers, and fries.

The game over, supper finished, James said his good byes to all and headed home.

As he drove back home he felt a sense of closure like he hadn’t felt for a long time.

Maybe it’s temporary But at least it’s here now.

After supper, Linda, Veronica, and Helen speculated over whether or not James had anything to do with Ignacio’s death. They agreed that they would take a wait and see approach.

Helen knew she would lie if necessary to protect James but hoped it wouldn’t come to that because she knew she was a pathetic liar. No, the best thing would be for James not to be found as being involved in Ignacio’s death. It was fine with her if he were involved but she hoped he had been careful enough to adequately cover his tracks.

The medical examiner found evidence of toxic gas poisoning in Ignacio’s body and concluded that it was responsible for Ignacio’s death. The detective interviewed the rental toilet company technical support team. Even though they didn’t think the build-up of toxic gas was likely the evidence of some type of toxic gas exposure in Ignacio’s body was undeniable, a lead sacrificial coupon showed some evidence in the form of some corrosion which could have been caused by exposure to sulfuric acid formed from H2S, and they wanted to make it all go away quietly. It helped that recent H2S overexposures had happened at several waste treatment facilities and plants when the sewers were flushed by heavy late summer rains. The detective accepted the medical examiner’s conclusion that the death likely occurred due to the natural production of H2S in anaerobic situations and there was no evidence of having been caused by any other cause. All of the times for people coming and going at the job site were reasonable. The medical examiner released the body and Ignacio was buried in a gaudy ceremony at the church where his wife belonged. Ignacio’s wife knew what a jerk Ignacio was and although she cried and feigned a proper amount of grief, she was happy to be rid of him and actually end up with a good sum of money.

James called Rick on Wednesday and they made plans to get together for steaks at Rick’s house the following Saturday. Rick asked James if he could invite Veronica and late Saturday morning James picked up Veronica at her apartment and together they drove to Rick’s townhouse. By afternoon the talk was about the football season and a game between the two big in state college rivals was on. At the news break, the broadcaster reported that the death of Ignacio had been ruled an industrial accident, the toilet rental company had reached a settlement with Ignacio’s widow for an undisclosed sum, Ignacio’s funeral was held, and there were no plans for further investigation. Veronica and Rick talked a little about Ignacio’s death. On several occasions, James had become quite loud whenever he was involved in a conversation about Ignacio but now he was unusually silent. Veronica had seen that look on James’ face before. It was the look he had when he knew something important but wasn’t telling. She didn’t know exactly how to interpret James feelings but thought to herself,

It doesn’t matter. The guy did a terrible thing to Sharon, Sara, and James.

If James had anything to do with it, I’m fine with it. And I sure am not going to say anything or ask him.

Maybe he’s just happy that the guy who caused so much pain to him died in such humiliating way.

Imagine! Poisoned in a rental toilet because of bacteria eating human excrement!

I actually find it a very fitting end to the life of such a vermin.

Rick’s focus was on Veronica and not James. She was fun, not in a goofy way, but in a tasteful, classy way. Veronica had the next get together at her apartment. Rick arrived first and their conversation eventually touched briefly on Ignacio’s death. Veronica made it clear to Rick that she had no interest in pressing the issue with James and in fact she would do battle with anyone who attempted to question James about it. After their day together, Rick thought about what Veronica had said about James and Ignacio’s death on the ride back to his house. She knew her brother. Rick thought that any attempt to do any digging himself would be like dealing with very old dynamite: unstable and capable of exploding with little provocation.

James may have had something to do with the guy’s death.

He does seem more at peace with what happened to Sharon and Sara than I remember.

Maybe it’s just the fact that the guy died in such an embarrassing way that has him at peace. It doesn’t matter and it’s not my place to investigate.

If I want to have any chance with Veronica, I for sure don’t want to have Veronica put in the position of protecting James from me.

Veronica and Rick had been seeing each other for a few weeks and Thanksgiving evening after dinner, James and Rick were shooting pool and playing darts at a local bar when one of Rick’s friends, Pat Jenkins, joined them for a game of cut throat. The conversation touched briefly on Ignacio’s not-guilty verdict. During the game Pat talked about an accident involving a drunk driver that had killed the mother of Carl, one of Pat’s friends. The drunk driver, a welder working on a petroleum pipeline project west of town, had been given probation and a fine which the construction company took care of for him.

Between Thanksgiving and the first of the year, Pat, Carl, Rick, and James got together several times and a few months later James invited Carl for lunch. He planned to feel Carl out as to how well Carl could keep a secret. If Carl was capable and willing, James would allow him to use the assassination toilet to punish the drunk driver. Their first meeting was promising as a start but James hadn’t reached the level of comfort needed to broach the subject to Carl. But Carl was curious. Exactly where was James trying to get this to go.

James made inquiries about Carl and concluded that Carl was a man of his word and James felt he could keep a secret if he promised to do so. After the first of March, Carl and James got together again on a Friday at James’ house. James said that before they had any alcohol he wanted to talk seriously to Carl for a bit. Carl was able to follow the conversation about using a modified toilet to assassinate someone but the details about a solenoid controlled lock, solenoid controlled gas injection systems, and the effects of either nitrogen or H2S on the human body were totally beyond him. He expressed interest in learning about such a device and after he said that if James told him anything about such a device, he would keep it secret, James took Carl to the project room. Inside, James told him about the assassination toilet; how it all worked, what each system did. James offered to give him a demonstration.

After fitting Carl with a mask, James went through the steps to demonstrate the device, explaining what was going on and why.

Carl said he was interested in using the device to assassinate Alfred Thornton, the drunk driver. James wrote out a set of instructions for him and after a month of training and explaining, Carl felt he was capable of carrying out the assassination. On Friday, 6 April, Carl backed his truck up the driveway at James’ house and they unloaded the toilet. Following the usual scrub down with bleach and water, they went to kitchen, opened a couple of cold beers, and toasted the death of another scum bag.

On Monday Carl went to bank and got a cashier check for 100,000 made out to James. When Carl give James the check, James said he hadn’t done it for the money and told Carl why he had done it,

“I knew you were hurting due to no action you had taken.”

“I didn’t think you had done any of this for money but I want to show my appreciation somehow and this is about the only way I can. I certainly don’t want to offend you but this is about the only way I can show my gratitude. Maybe if you don’t want to take all of the money yourself you can take what you need to cover your expenses and donate the rest to some victims’ fund?”

James used some of the money from Carl to cover his expenses for development of the assassination toilet, took a nice vacation, and donated almost 50 percent to a victim’s relief fund. The vacation was nice but he got more satisfaction from the feeling that some good had come from Sharon’s and Sara’s deaths.

In more than 15 years as the county medical examiner, Kevin Mason had seen enough bizarre causes of human death that little shocked him anymore. And it was that lack of emotional involvement which allowed him to approach determining the cause of a human death with the clinical coldness of a razor blade cutting aside everything to eventually arrive at the truth. The income and status of a Medical Doctor were what had attracted him to the medical field. He cared little about or for humans. They were more like objects to him.

The county medical examiners were attending a conference at the state capital and Kevin struck up a conversation with the medical examiner for Alfred Thornton’s death, Brook Sanders. One of the topics of discussion at one of the seminars was organ donation. Kevin and Brook, got around to discussing the deaths of Ignacio and Alfred, and concluded that even though the H2S poisoning finding was completely supported by the evidence, for two deaths to have occurred under such unusual circumstances was unusual. They were keenly aware of the need for organ donations and the sums of money involved in organ transplants and agreed that if they had been able to get to the bodies of Ignacio and Alfred soon enough a lot of the organs could have been harvested.

Kevin remembered James Galway as one of the persons interviewed by detective Roger Carson in the investigation following Ignacio’s death and because of the H2S poisoning conclusion decided to do a little digging. Tuesday, James was at work at the project site, updating the project schedule and budget when Kevin stopped by his office and asked him if they could get together and talk sometime. Prior to Kevin’s visit, Kevin was completely unknown to James and when James asked him what it was about, Kevin told him about being the medical examiner on Ignacio’s death, which piqued James’ interest and he agreed to meet with Kevin.

When they got together the next week, Kevin told him about the conversation with the medical examiner assigned to Alfred Thornton’s death and said it was a little strange to find H2S poisoning in a portable toilet to be the cause of death in even one situation but for two was beyond strange and suspicious. Kevin sensed James tense up a bit and let him know that he wasn’t looking to further investigate Ignacio’s death but what was of interest to him was to see if deaths similar to those of Ignacio and Alfred Thornton could not be used for supplying organs for organ transplants. Kevin said that there were always shortages and that clients needing organ transplants would likely pay a hefty sum for an organ.

Several meetings later, James and Kevin formed the basis for an agreement. Kevin was interested in the money from organ harvesting and James was interested in making sure only persons such as Ignacio and Alfred who had done something bad to someone but had escaped any sort of suitable punishment were the sources for the organ harvesting. They agreed that they would meet from time to time to identify a candidate for assassination and organ harvesting.

Now that they had formed their partnership, Kevin took care of setting up his end of the organ trafficking operation. James decided that he would be the only one involved in using the assassination toilet. His reasoning was that the fewer people the better.

James’ and Kevin’s partnership’s first target was a child molester who used an opioid type designer drug to knock out a 12 year old boy at a park, abused him in a portable target at a park adjacent to the city zoo, and left the child with permanent brain damage. The child’s brain was so damaged he couldn’t testify and with no other reliable testimony the child molester went free. After that first assassination subsequent assassinations got easier and the partnership was averaging one and two donors a year. Kevin always took care of completely destroying whatever was left of the target’s body after harvesting. To avoid detection by the target’s family James always made his monetary contributions to victims’ funds anonymously. His own take from the operation had gotten to be a considerable sum so he gave some to his mom for her retirement fund. Rick and Veronica became sweethearts and two years later married. As his wedding present, James paid for their wedding and honeymoon: a nice trip through Europe and just touching on Asia.

Kevin and James avoided being seen together but some face to face contact was unavoidable and they decided the safest place for them to talk over things was a rest stop adjacent to one of the nearby interstates. With several interstates running through and around the city it was easy to find different places for their meetings and another advantage to using those locations was that they were always open and accessible. After seven assassination and organ harvesting projects, Kevin recommended modifying the gas mix used for completing the assassination step to include Carbon Monoxide and drop the H2S. He explained to James that the higher affinity of CO for blood hemoglobin would result in be less organ deterioration than with nitrogen and H2S. Kevin also wanted to include homeless people who hung out around the parks and freeways in the donor population.

James refused to agree on including the homeless in the donor pool and wanted to keep targeting only people who he referred to as freeloading creeps who had committed a terrible crime and escaped punishment in one way or another for their deed. He explained to Kevin that it was the reason he had ever began assassinating anyone. Kevin did not share James’ scruples. That difference in targets was their biggest conflict. Second, James did not want to drop H2S altogether from the assassination gas mixture because he was worried about detection. As long as Kevin were the one acting as the medical examiner the use of only CO with no H2S could be kept secret but only if Kevin were the one acting as medical examiner.

Kevin asked James if he thought they could drop the nitrogen altogether. James recommended strongly against it and explained that by starting the nitrogen first and allowing the pressure to build with only nitrogen as it was now set up, the amount of oxygen remaining in the enclosure became too low to support combustion of H2S. He did a quick check with his smart phone for CO and told Kevin that he didn’t think dropping the nitrogen first part of the assassination cycle should be dropped for CO either. He told Kevin that if he wanted to run a couple of tests they could.

That face to face meeting was one of the longest they had ever had and they finally agreed on several things. First, if Kevin wanted to use a toilet to assassinate a donor who was part of the homeless population, James would build the toilet and train Kevin to use it but Kevin would carry out all the operational aspects independently from James. James would build, repair, and service the toilet for Kevin but use of the toilet was all to be done by Kevin. Second, they would continue their previous arrangement of assassinating freeloading creeps for organ harvesting. Third, they agreed that James would set up some demonstration tests so that Kevin could see first-hand why the nitrogen should not be dropped from the assassination gas mixture.

For the demonstration tests, James got three toilets similar in size and configuration to the one they were using for the assassinations but built the controls on a panel attached to a steel plate so that the damage to them would be minimized. For the first test, they would use nitrogen and H2S. James lit a candle, put it on the seat, and they ran the test. They opened the door and found that the candle had gone out. James explained to Kevin that without enough oxygen the combustion of the candle stopped. Kevin said he believed James’ explanation but he wanted to complete the demonstration.

For the second test, James shut off the nitrogen altogether, lit a second candle, put it on the seat, and got behind a cinder block wall. Two seconds after the solenoid to begin injecting H2S opened the toilet burst into a fire ball. Luckily, they had set up their testing in a remote part of Kevin farm near an old barn. What was left at the spot where the toilet had been was little more than a pile of ashes.

Kevin agreed that since he couldn’t enforce a no smoking ban when using the toilet that eliminating the nitrogen was not a good idea.

James built an assassination toilet from one of the remaining toilets for Kevin to use for assassination and harvesting organs from whomever Kevin decided. It would be up to Kevin to select the target and use the toilet. After using the toilet to kill and then harvest organs from three homeless donors, Kevin had another modification that he talked to James about. He wanted to be able to just render someone unconscious and not to kill them so that they would stay alive until Kevin harvested their organs or at least would not have been dead for more than a few seconds.

James told Kevin that the toilet as it now was would require some controls and instrument changes for that purpose. What he recommended was to measure the oxygen concentration in the toilet and maintain the nitrogen injection at whatever level was required for the oxygen concentration to stay at 14 percent. He explained that at that level, someone would be alive but so close to death that they were non-functional which would allow Kevin to transport the victim in the toilet to the point where Kevin wanted to complete killing them or push them closer to death and then harvest organs.

Kevin liked James’ solution and started calling his donor hunts trapping expeditions. He likened it to the days when trappers would set traps for the fur trade. Three months later he was out on one such trapping expedition.

The homeless population essentially consisted of three segments. The first group although they had no home weren’t without a residence. They just didn’t have a mailing address and paid no taxes. Their residence was under an overpass or some other publicly accessible place where they were tolerated. The members of that segment, remaining practically constant with little change, actually formed a loose type of governing organization so that the homeless individuals who had been there for a long time were consulted as if they were tribal elders. The top tribal elder of the resident homeless was George Arthur Small but his name amongst the homeless was John Smite. He was a top supplier of illegal drugs to the homeless and running that business had allowed him to accumulate a considerable sum that he kept in a money market account. Another segment in the homeless population was the itinerant homeless. Theirs was a nomadic existence, following the weather so that during extremely cold seasons they migrated south but in the extremely hot months they migrated north to cooler climates. Then there were the drop ins. They were people who actually had residences and in a lot of cases a family. They dropped out of their other life when they felt like hiding from view.

Freedom to move around with little restriction was one of the biggest attractions of being homeless. One month they would be under an overpass and in another they might be under a bridge out in the country near a river when the catfish were running.

Although Kevin was smart in moving the location for placing the assassination toilet for his trapping forays the homeless population were wary as in any hunter and prey relationship and when they weren’t under the influence of any drugs an individual in the resident homeless segment was difficult to capture. But they became easy prey when they partook of any of a number of mind numbing concoctions available. It wasn’t out of the question for Kevin to bait the toilet by placing some of the latest intoxicating substances material making the rounds in the toilet.

Clark Starnes dropped into homeless population when he needed to make a couple of easy busts to make his quota or win a bet. Clark and John had their own special understanding. John would furnish Clark with as many targets as he needed, Clark’s busts would eliminate threats to John’s position, and John enjoyed Clark’s protection for his illegal drug activities. Athletically built at about 5 feet 11 inches Clark pushed through the resident homeless as if they were pieces of trash just as you would expect from a hardened undercover cop. Whether any of the homeless knew Clark was an undercover cop or not, they learned to be on guard whenever he dropped in. He took whatever he wanted, from whomever he wanted with never a hint of gratitude or remorse. If a homeless person complained or tried to fight back, Clark would take them for a ride and they wouldn’t be seen again. He was about as crooked and corrupt as any cop has ever been and had arrested and raped several newly arrived female members of the itinerant homeless group before either dumping them on the street or driving them into the woods during winter where they might die from exposure. As far as he was concerned, the homeless were trash that had not been deposited in the garbage collection bins placed around their community and his to exploit and abuse in whatever way he wanted. The homeless had some awareness of how Clark regarded them. Sexual exploitation was just one abuse Clark was responsible for perpetrating on the homeless and the resident homeless group learned not to let their guard down whenever he was among them. He had dropped into the temporary homeless population a few days earlier and watched Kevin drop off the toilet, an itinerant homeless individual enter the toilet, and Kevin pick the toilet up before the homeless person exited the toilet. Clark wanted to find out what was going on and followed Kevin to the location Kevin used for organ harvesting.

Kevin couldn’t tell what the cop was really after but after answering a few questions about what was going on and why Kevin was doing all this, the detective introduced himself as Clark Starnes and told Kevin he could provide Kevin with some amount of protection. And in return, he wanted a cut of the take from organ harvesting operation.

Kevin had no idea how to recharge the gas cylinders and completely relied on James to do that for him. On Saturday, Kevin drove to James’ house with the toilet for servicing. After 10 minutes, Clark drove into James’ driveway and knocked on the garage door. James went around to the front of the house.

Clark held out his badge and spoke,

“Hi James. My name is Clark Starnes. A recent acquaintance of mine, Kevin Mason, is here for you to service the toilet he uses for organ harvesting. From what I got Kevin to tell me, I understand that you are the technical brain behind the operation.

“First off, don’t worry! I have no problem with what Kevin is doing. As far as I’m concerned he’s providing a valuable community service getting rid of leaches and parasites that do nothing but live off the rest of us.

“He also told me that he was the one who first approached you years ago after two assassinations in which something he called H2S was blamed for the deaths of two persons who committed crimes for which their punishment was pretty much a joke. One involved a guy Ignacio Gonzales who kidnapped, raped, and killed your daughter, Sharon, and the other involved the death of an Alfred Thornton who killed someone in a drunk driving accident. I don’t know the details about that death and don’t really care.

“Kevin hasn’t been able to tell me how many assassinations have been carried out and how many were used for organ harvesting.”

James took a deep breath and replied, “I have been dreading this day. So, you aren’t here to take me to jail?”

“That is correct. By now, my hands are dirty but they are only slightly soiled and it’s nothing I can’t cover up if I need to. What I want is to help you guys doing keep doing what you are doing.

“And of course, I am going to want a cut of the take in return for my services.”

“Okay. Can we go inside?

“I need to finish taking care of the unit for Kevin and then maybe we can sit down on the patio and talk?”

“Sounds good to me. Go ahead, I will follow you. Do you mind me asking questions?”

“Can you just write them down or remember your questions and then I can answer them after I finish the work for Kevin?”

“Yes we can do that. You seem to have everything organized and I don’t want to interfere with something that seems to be running so well.”

After James finished servicing Kevin’s toilet, James, Kevin, and Clark sat down on the deck with cold beers, James was telling Clark how he had come to develop the first assassination toilet when Clark cut him off.

“I don’t care how this has come about or why.

“All I want is to get something for providing my services.”

James told him that he had refused to go along with targeting the homeless population for organ harvesting and that Kevin was better prepared to talk about that area with Clark since James was only involved in servicing the toilets.

After some conversation between the three of them, Clark said that the idea of only targeting the homeless population was probably a better idea than targeting persons who had committed a crime and escaped punishment because there was a reason why someone escaping meaningful punishment for a crime may have been targeted, who specifically may have targeted them, and there was no similar trace or motivation in the case of a homeless person.

After Clark bragged to James about some of the abuses including false arrest and raping of some of the homeless women he was responsible for James felt sick with the sudden realization that by providing services to Kevin he had helped treat some individuals in the homeless population as no more than trash like Clark had. But now he felt trapped and decided that if all he had to do was to continue providing the same services he had provided for Kevin he would go along and keep his sudden feeling of guilt all to himself.

To reduce the chance of someone being connected to the assassination of someone the three of them agreed to continue the arrangement as it had been between Kevin and James targeting only homeless individuals. Clark said he would help by giving Kevin insight about where and when they should deploy an assassination toilet for trapping a homeless person for organ harvesting. James said he would keep servicing the units for them and would take only something to cover his costs and a little to donate to the victim’s fund as he had been doing.

It took two years for Kevin and Clark to reach a level rate of one capture every four months and Clark wanted to increase that rate. After Kevin told Clark that there was a limit to the number of organs they could continue to supply and stay “under the radar” to escape detection, Clark said he would help develop more trafficking routes for organs. And in return he wanted a bigger cut of the action.

Clark was getting greedy almost to the point of being reckless. James and Kevin knew they could likely not get much by Clark so during the 2008 Superbowl, Kevin and James met at what they considered one of the most secret road side parks near the interstate 110 miles Southwest. They were confident that Clark would be watching the game and their meeting wouldn’t be interrupted or observed.

Later that year just past Memorial Day, Kevin and Clark had a toilet deployed in the location Clark had picked out when a city sanitation worker stopped to use the assassination toilet and Kevin watched in horror as the green go light on the control flashed green, then red, and then burned steady green killing the city worker. After almost 30 minutes being in the toilet another member of the work crew went to check on the worker and found him dead. Clark had already decided that if needed he would throw James and Kevin under the bus but before he did he would fine James for the malfunction of the controls. After all, Clark wasn’t to blame. James was the technical guy. The malfunction of the device was James’ responsibility and Clark reasoned it was only fair that he should have pay.

Clark waited until the city worker’s body had been removed and then stood guard while Kevin retrieved the toilet. On the way to deliver the toilet to James, Kevin called James. Clark had also witnessed the malfunction and went to James house. Kevin was already there sitting by the pool talking to James. Clark sat down and took over the conversation.

“Something went wrong with the toilet we had out. I decided that you have to give me 75 percent of what you get from the operation. No questions asked.”

James said what Clark decided was something he didn’t like but if that was what it would take for Clark to be satisfied he would do it and then asked him if he wanted a beer. The beer was practically ice cold, it was a warm humid day, and Clark had gulped downed the first half the beer when he started getting dizzy. James saw that Clark was passed out, went to the project room, and came back with a gas mask and a cylinder filled with a nitrogen and H2S mixture. Kevin helped James put the mask on Clark, turned the valve to supply the gas to the mask, and turned the regulator to begin the flow.

Kevin went about the task of harvesting organs from Clark and later disposed of the remains using his usual method of digestion with hot caustic soda and destroying the remaining bone shadows with hydrochloric acid.

A week later, Kevin and James got together at Kevin’s farm. After James made sure the valves on the nitrogen supply were closed, he took cover with Kevin behind a cinder block wall and pushed the button to trigger the assassination cycle. 30 seconds later James pressed the fire button. The piezoelectric igniters James had installed in the toilets and the gas filling the toilet went off like a bomb and each of the toilets exploded one after the other sending pieces of plastic toilet over the 50 yard area between the hay and milking barns.

Kevin and James met for the last time at the road side park southwest of the city. Kevin initiated the conversation,

“I am tired. The last several years with Clark has been so stressful that it is hard to imagine enough of a reward for me to want to continue.”

James said, “I’ve been tired of it all for a long time. But the first meeting with Clark where I learned what kind of person I became associated with turned my stomach.

“This all started with what I felt and still feel was a noble goal but then the money became the goal.

“Now I have more important things to do than extracting justice for some victim.

“So, like you, I want to leave this business behind and spend the rest of my life living with what is left of my beautiful family.”

“I’ll drink to that. Family before anything else. Once you have that it is like superpower. It can overcome everything else. Most people never even know what power they already have in their family.

“Even the homeless have some kind of family support.”

James and Kevin touched their bottles together, shook hands, went to their cars, and never met again.

Two months later, James listened intently to a story on the evening news. The police had found a fourth dead person in a portable toilet. The apparent cause was drug overdose.


© Copyright 2018 190proof190. All rights reserved.

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