Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Charmaine held onto her son and fought back tears as she watched the firefighters extinguish the final burning part of her dream. They had barely been home for a few hours before she got the call.
"Kenton! Mrs. Hayes!" A voice called out from a block away. Despite it being barely seven-o-clock in the morning, Olivia was ready to be there for her boyfriend and his mother. Without saying another word, she wrapped her arms around the two of them.
"Charmaine Hayes?" another person said, causing her to look up from the two kids grabbing onto her.
"I'm Mr. Nelson, I'm the fire marshal for this area." He said, shaking her hand.
"Already? They barely have the fire out!" Kenton exclaimed.
"I apologize for intruding, but I would like to ask you a couple of questions, if you don't mind." The marshal said. Charmaine looked at the two kids and nodded.
"Kenton, go back home and make some coffee." Charmaine said. With some hesitation, Kenton turned around started to walk away with Olivia.
Later that evening, the latest shift of officers was sitting down and getting ready for their briefing.
"Tonight, I'm sure you all have heard the news. This is the Night Owl Café on the corner of Panther and Jaguar. As you can see from the picture, it went up in flames early this morning."
"Hey, that's the place owned by Andre Hayes' old lady, ain't it chief?"
"That's the one. Normally, we wouldn't be talking about a fire, but Fire Marshal Nelson's preliminary investigation raises the possibility of arson. As you can see, there's evidence that an accelerant has been used. We have a sample on the way to Portland, and when we know something, you'll all be knowing. Now, I want to turn the floor over to Agent Sequoia Anson."
The detective-turned-agent from Illinois walked up to the front of the briefing room.
"Good evening. I am here to investigate the possibility that Butch Conner might be here. We were given a tip that he and his son were in Los Angeles, but that was a dead end, and we have reason to believe that he might be passing through the area to escape to Canada. Be on the lookout."
The chief took back the floor and concluded the briefing before allowing the officers to start on their shift. Instead of leaving, too. Anson found himself staring at the pictures of the smoldering shell of Charmaine's restaurant.
"Something catch your fancy, Agent Anson?" the chief said, trying to remain cordial despite having a Fed imposing on his "territory".
"Not really, it just brings back memories. When I was a sheriff, the guy I helped take down ended up dead in a restaurant fire. Restaurant's almost similar in style."
"I've been wanting to talk to you about this if you have a minute. Charmaine Hayes owns this restaurant. Sweetest lady I've ever met. Her son was Elias Conner's best friend. Gave the eulogy at this funeral."
Anson stopped and turned to the chief.
"Yeah. I'm sure you already know the Elias Conner case, but there was a little side-deal with the kid that Elias whacked where they tried to sabotage the restaurant. It's almost kind of weird that you think that Butch might be in the area, and then this happens."
"No kidding. That is a coincidence for the ages. If you don't mind the imposition, can I look over the case files you have on the Elias Conner case? It was closed when Butch and his missus were taken into custody, but now I'm curious to see."
"You got it, buddy. But tell me, what's this about there being another kid? I thought Elias was an only kiddo."
"It's complicated. Butch had his wife here in Oregon and they had the deceased son, I mean, Elias. He also had an affair with a lady in New Mexico and they had the other one, named Lucas." The chief said as he popped open a file cabinet with the intent of shuffling papers around.
"So, he was getting a little something extra when he was running the smack down there?"
"Yeah. When Butch escaped, he went back to his home to pick up his son. It was also here where they tried to lure a twelve-year old boy with them."
"Right. He has an accomplice in Los Angeles who tied us up by giving us a runaround before letting it slip that Butch was going to make a break for the North."
"And that's why you're here."
"Precisely. She said that Butch was coming up here for some 'unfinished business'. What's bad is that we don't know if he's already been here. I guess I'm here looking for some luck."
"Well, I hope you find it. Here's the file on the Elias Connor case."
"Thank you." Anson said as he sat down at a desk and began to look through the paperwork.
"June 30, 2014. Small group of kids at park to celebrate birthday party." Anson mumbled to himself as he started to jot down some notes.
"Four children were present: Elias Connor, Kenton Hayes, Mia Kleve, and Olivia Gabriel. Connor and Hayes were playing basketball when William Spears approached them. Spears pulled a switchblade and proceeded to deflate the boys' basketball before proceeding to harass them and making references to Hayes' race to get him to act violent. Spears proceeded to make references to Hayes' father's demise to further aggravate the boy." Anson read as his eyes widened a bit.
"Connor, fearing that Hayes was about to give into Spears’s intimidation, grabbed a piece of rebar left behind from some construction and proceeded to deliver one swift blow to the back of Spears's head, fracturing his skull. Connor was arrested and charged but was bailed out by Butch Conner's wife. July 3, 2014, Elias Connor, pending trial, was working in his bedroom when he was electrocuted by a project on which he was working. The force caused him to fall backwards and land in a manner that caused his spine to become fractured from a bedpost.
When his father, Butch Connor, discovered the boy's body, he called for medical aid which led to the discovery of his criminal activities and his arrest. Elias Conner was cremated by the state and his ashes were donated by his relatives to be buried at a local cemetery."
"Well, that's definitely a tragedy, but I don't know where this fits in with the whole restaurant fire. Where's the sabotage?" Anson said to the chief as he walked by again.
"Oh, that's in another file. Basically, the kid that Elias whacked got angry and met up with an older lady online and then teamed up with her to release enough vermin to cause the restaurant to close for two weeks. During that time, he lured his little brother to his house and tied him up with the intent to kill him. It was when Charmaine Hayes and her son found him."
"...You're kidding me. That is absolutely insane."
"I know, right? The big brother was found mauled in the woods when he tried to run from us. Older lady couldn’t face the heat and got a number five off of the value menu, if you know what I mean. Counselors here at the schools are tracking the little brother, because you don't get away from that without getting at least a little messed up."
"Yeah. This is absolutely nuts. But, unfortunately, the common factor between the two cases was William Spears, who is no longer among us. Any possible link between the Elias Conner case, and therefore my case, and this restaurant fire can't be established at this time."
"Aw, well, thanks for looking."
"Anytime, best of luck to you on this case." Anson concluded before handing the files back to the chief and going back to his original case files.
Thursday, December 24, 2015
The next day, Charmaine opened the door to her house and welcomed a local detective into her living room, offing him a seat across from the chair where her son was sitting.
"I'm just going to cut to the chase, Mrs. Hayes, do you know of anyone who might want to harm you, your family, or your business?"
Charmaine sighed and looked at her son. Part of her wanted him to go sit in her room, but that would only make him more concerned, so she took a deep breath to prepare herself for what she was about to tell the detective.
"Well, it started when I was discussing the idea of buying into a restaurant in New York City. The person invited me to come to the restaurant to meet with him in person. Not wanting to spend money just going to the East Coast just for a meeting, we flew to Maine to visit my son's girlfriend before taking a bus to New York City."
"Alright..." the detective said as he wrote into his notepad.
"Well, when I walked into the restaurant's office, I recognized the man who wanted to talk to me. He's the uncle of my former best friend, Andrea Berger."
Kenton's eyes widened a bit at the news.
"Yes, Ms. Berger was the one who wrecked your restaurant right before it opened last year, am I right?"
"Right. She's also the same one who conspired to release mice, which forced me to temporarily close." Charmaine replied.
"And helped kidnap my best friend." Kenton chimed in.
"Yep. I had the 'honor' of working that case." the detective said.
"Anyways, Andrea's uncle, who's information I have written down, tried to say that I owed him $10,000 that Andrea had scammed from him. When he started screaming and threatening me, I immediately left the establishment." Charmaine finished as she handed a piece of paper to the detective, who was surprised at the wealth of information given to him.
"Thank you. You might have just cracked the case all by yourself. I'm going to take this back and make a few calls to see what I can get from this." the detective said as he got up and shook Charmaine's hand.
After excusing himself, the door was barely closed before Kenton said, "Why didn't you tell me about all of this?!"
"Baby, I know how you can worry. Edward is a nutty old man with way too much money. I took his threats at face value."