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Critical Error (9)


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“I worked at the Chamber of Commerce for nearly two years, until recently, when I began working at the Travel Agency in the Thunderbird Mall.  From time to time, clients send presents of gratitude ranging from thank you cards to dinner or drink invitations to assorted gifts.  Of course, I explain that these things aren’t expected or necessary, and I generally refuse everything but thank you cards, which I automatically answer.”

“For example, I recently received French Perfume from Paris, a beautiful Boat in a Bottle from Germany and Chocolates from Europe as well as a Dove made out of wood from a couple I had made reservations for, from Israel.  So you see, it isn’t always such a terrible thing.  Usually, the gifts are motivated by thoughtfulness and gratitude.”  Taking a deep breath, she continued, “The problem isn’t with the gifts that I’ve received in the past, but what I’ve been receiving lately.”

“I brought a few samples of what I’m talking about.”  Eilea pulled them from her purse and handed them across the desk as she continued, “I wasn’t expecting anything peculiar when I opened these; they took me completely by surprise, they aren’t your ordinary garden variety thank you cards.”

“If it had been one or two, it could have been random (wrong post box or something of that sort) but as the numbers grew, I analyzed them, and soon realized they’d all been sent by one individual as each contains the same handwriting. That’s when I began to feel very uncomfortable about them.”

“That and they’re getting stranger!  Some were written in weird letters with peculiar shapes,  others almost look like they were written in blood.” She couldn’t stop the shiver that shook her head to toe.  When I received a photo of me at Carrot Park, wearing a sequined evening gown, I got really worried.”  She looked him dead in the eye, “I don’t own an evening gown, much less one with sequins on it.”

“Do you ever go to Carrot Park?”

“Yes, I jog every weekday morning.”  Taking another deep breath, she continued her narrative.  “Soon afterward the phone calls started.  At first, it was just one or two, usually at work, again I wasn’t overly concerned.  I decided I had cause for worry when they started at home. I have an unlisted phone number.”

“I see.  Any possibility you accidentally gave the number out?”

“No way!  I managed apartments for quite a while and accumulated a few threatening letters and even a death threat followed by obscene phone calls from irate tenants.”

“Not to mention I was going through a separation and divorce at which time I received disturbing phone calls from the ex’s girlfriends and or their kids; heavy breathing and the like.  I wasn’t too worried about those either since they were more annoying than anything. . . still, I decided an unlisted number would solve a lot of problems.”

“So I guess I’m trying to understand how someone could get an unlisted phone number.”

“I brought some tapes (not sure of the legality of it) but I let the tape machine run while he chatted, more as proof it was happening, and they probably aren’t useable but I figured it would give you an idea of what I’m dealing with.”

“So I’m here to see what the next step is.”

“Have you told your kids what’s going on?”

“Not yet, no,” she laughed deprecatingly.

“For a start, tell your kids and explain you’re doing everything possible to safeguard their welfare.”

“Do you think that your ex might be involved in this?”

“I don’t think so.”

He hinted, “You never know, people change.”

“There was a time I would have categorically said no way, but after he met his most recent girlfriend, he changed, became involved in things he would never have considered before.  Having said that, I still don’t believe he would do anything like this!”

“I need his name anyway in order to eliminate him as a possibility.  If you receive any more cards, or letters, bring them in so we can take a look at them.”

Slipping on rubber gloves he took the envelope, flipped the top open and inspected each envelope and its contents.  “I see why you’re worried.  Some of these are pretty peculiar.”  She noted the surprised concern evident in his voice.

“Is there anything you can do?”

“We’ll start by dusting for fingerprints.”

“I  wasn’t sure if you could do much, but I feel better knowing that I told you and you’re aware of what’s going on. I admit I’m relieved you don’t think I’m over-reacting or crazy.”

“My first thought is that we’re dealing with a person with a fixation.  As soon as we know who is behind this we’ll get a restraining order to keep him away from you and your family.  Prepare yourself, it will take time to track the villain down, and longer, to convict.  The up-side being, we will get whoever is responsible.”

“Either way, stalkers are cagey and dangerous.  There’s something else you should know.  A stalker’s obsession can last for up to fourteen years.”

Eilea stared at him as though he’d grown a second head.  “Stalker?  Fourteen years?!  You’ve got to be kidding me!”

“I wished I had better news for you.”

“So what do I do in the meantime?”

“Inspect your mail, inform the post office, have them watch for anyone regularly dropping mail into the slot without return addresses, and ask them to hold the mail there.”

“Think about anyone new in your life, someone you met within the specified time period during which these incidents began occurring.  In all likelihood, the person responsible is someone you already know but it could also be someone who’s met you once and feels they know you.”

“There are reliable websites regarding stalking, read as much as you can about the behaviour associated with erotomania so you have an idea what you’re up against.”


“I’ll run some tests on these, pass them by a couple of professionals to see what their take is on the mind of the perp and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can with the news.  Ok?”

“Thank you, Officer Morton.”

“I’ll be in touch.”  He escorted her to the front door and after returning to his desk to begin searching through the mail for anything untoward that might hint at who or where they originated.  “Fred, could you come here?”

“Sure, what’s up?”

“I want you to take a look at something.”

“Holy, mother. . . . I’d say someone has a pretty serious problem.”

“Who is it, anyone we know?”

“Never met her until about an hour and a half ago.  Her name’s Martin and she works at Golden City Life Travel Agency, in the Mall.”

“Oh, the looker!”

“Enough, Fred!”

“Alright, alright.”

“So any idea who the perp is?  A jealous lover, an ex-boyfriend, or husband?”

“That’s what I’m going to check out first.  Her marriage ended a little over five years ago.  Divorce.”

“Martin, Martin.  Sorry, can’t tell you anything about her.  There were plenty of rumors, but nothing involving us.”

“What do you mean?  He beat her?”

“Nothing on record, we never got a call so it’s doubtful.”

“I’m going to run a background check on the ex and see what comes up before we go and have a talk with her.”

“I’m with you.”

He checked computer files but came up empty.  Well, that seemed to rule out the jealous husband angle, but not necessarily the scorned or angry vengeful husband.  Just because he didn’t have a record didn’t mean much, just that he’d never been caught.

He then pulled the files on any known or suspected stalkers in the area or on the island.  Nothing.

Joe worked for another twenty minutes before signing out.  He had to get home and get some sleep; he’d been on duty since five-thirty.  His microwave dinner didn’t appeal much.

Sleep wouldn’t come.  Ms. Martin’s problem kept infiltrating his thoughts.  Getting out of bed, he dressed and returned to the station.  Walking into his office, he closed the door and sat down behind the desk to listen to the tapes she’d left.  Each started with heavy breathing and slowly progressed into a series of vulgar sounds, followed by more heavy breathing followed by a click.  Nothing too startling here, he decided.  As he continued listening to the other tapes, though, he noticed the tone of the caller had changed.  His chatter went from talking to obscenities that were becoming more and more vulgar to outright screeching!  A very disturbed individual.  ‘Crazy’ came to mind.  For whatever reason, he seemed to be losing control.

Yeah, there was a problem here alright! He understood why she didn’t want her kids discovering the tapes.  It was enough to stand his hair on end, let alone a single woman, seriously distressing to an innocent teenager.

He wanted to get started on her case right away.  This kind of thing didn’t happen often, but when it did, the result wasn’t good.

. . . . . .

Changing into her favourite cream and blue fuzzy top and an old pair of jeans, she lay on the chesterfield and almost immediately, fell asleep.  She didn’t wake up until the kids walked through the door.

“Oh my god, I fell asleep.”

“Mom, what are you doing home?”  Christina asked in surprise.

“I had some errands to run and George suggested I leave early so I took him up on his offer.”

“Oh.  I was surprised to see you.  You’re sure you’re ok?” she asked in concern.

“I’m fine, really.  So, whose turn to cook tonight?”


“I guess I’d better get started then,” Eilea smiled warmly at her daughter and went into the kitchen.

The topic of conversation during dinner that night was what to do about their holiday.  “What do


1 Comment

  1. Okay, I’m caught up now.


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