Excerpt From “The Telephone Killer” by Paul J. Stam

A local television station is the link between a murderer and his victims. But why is he killing seemingly random people? An insurance salesman, a police officer and a hitchhiker; the police cannot connect the victims to each other much less to the killer.

The questions haunt Vince Williams as he takes charge of the task force set up to stop the serial killer. When the team comes too close to answers, the killer makes a bold and very personal move against Vince. As Vince races to find the killer and rescue his fiancé, he is haunted by the killer’s calm promise to destroy the woman Vince loves. Vince will do anything to save her. Anything.

EXCERPT:

After the funeral of Officer Remke, there was nothing more from the Telephone Killer for several weeks, and people started to forget about him. Ralph Moore was not happy with the pause in communication. He had, for a brief moment, enjoyed a certain amount of renown. For a little while, he was somebody.

It was Tuesday morning, and Bob Martin had just assigned Ralph and his crew to the Finance Committee meeting at City Hall when someone answering a phone called above the din of voices, ‟Ralph, it’s for you. Line five.”

He picked up a nearby phone expecting it to be Jessica reminding him of something and pressed the blinking button. ‟This is Ralph Moore.”

‟Good morning, Mr. Moore. This is Ferus Vitium. Do you remember me?”

As soon as Ralph heard the first words, he started waving his arms to get Bob Martin’s attention and, pointing to the phone, exaggeratedly mouthed the words, ‟It’s him. It’s him.”

Martin stopped what he was doing and looked at Ralph curiously just in time to hear Ralph say, ‟Yes, Mr. Vitium, I remember you.”

A hush fell over the newsroom and everyone looked at him expectantly. Ralph liked that.

‟First of all, Ralph, I want you to tell Bob Martin he is to give you the assignment of covering this story. If he does not, I will take future stories to some other station. Our conversation is being recorded, is it not?”

‟Yes, sir.”

‟Good. Incidentally, I don’t like Bob Martin. He is arrogant and stupid. I can’t understand why the management doesn’t realize he is a liability. The only reason I ever watch KWBD is because of the network affiliation, but that’s beside the point. What I am calling you about is the man who cut in front of me on the Beltway. Do you remember my telling you about him?”

‟Yes, sir.”

‟I’ll give you a little background for this story. I told you before how he cut in front of me. He was trying to pass another car and cut in front of me so closely I had to jam on my brakes to keep from hitting him. I wasn’t the only one he did that to. I feel those kinds of drivers should be taken off the streets. Don’t you agree?”

‟Yes, sir.”

‟I did, however, want to give him the benefit of the doubt. I thought maybe there was some emergency he was rushing to, but that was not the case. I followed him home and learned where he lived. I stalked him to learn his habits. He used to go jogging about six o’clock every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings and about eight every Sunday morning. He always jogged the same route so I started doing my jogging along his route. We got familiar enough with each other that we waved and said ‘Hi’ as we passed.

‟Last night it was drizzling so there was no one walking the trails and not many joggers out either. I shot him in the area where there are all those trees and brush just behind the pavilion on the lake in Hampton Park. There was a certain amount of risk. Because of the trees I could not be sure someone was not coming around the corner, but sometimes these little risks make things interesting, don’t they?”

‟I don’t know, Sir.”

‟The police will find the body hidden in the brush by the culvert. I left a few clues for the police to play with if they know where to look. However, some of the clues may have been washed away by last nights rain. Well, that about covers it. Oh, I almost forgot. John Crawford, that’s his name, was killed at precisely six thirty-seven in the evening with the same gun that killed Officer Remke. Well, that’s it then. Do you have any questions, Ralph?”

‟No. I guess not.”

‟Incidentally,” Ferus said, “you don’t know it but in addition to having your phone at home bugged, the police have been checking you out you are probably being tailed.”

‟How do you know that?”

‟The police always do those things. They think there may be some connection between you and me.

‟One more thing. Why don’t you put out a message that if anyone else cuts me off at an intersection, cuts in front of me on the highway, or takes a parking space I have been waiting for, the same thing will happen to them that happened to Crawford. That should put the fear of Vitium into them.” He chuckled again and said, ‟Good-bye,” and hung up.

As soon as Vitium hung up Bob Martin was barking orders. ‟Ralph, you take your crew to Hampton Park. You probably can’t get there before the police, but do what you can. Radford, you find out who this John Crawford was, where he lived, and go interview the family. Be sure you get the right John Crawford. You may be the one who is going to break the news to them so do it diplomatically and sympathetically. OK. Everyone, move it.”

***

At age 13 Paul hunted big game in Africa with his father, not as a sport but to provide food for the station. He’s had a leopard’s face six inches from his own in the middle of the night where the only thing protecting him was the mosquito net. He has single handedly sailed a 38 foot ketch from Tahiti to Hawaii. Another time with only his wife and 13-year-old son on board, he sailed their 42 foot cutter through a hurricane.

Paul has been a construction worker (while going to college),a sailboat skipper, and  university teacher and administrator before and after his sailing days. Paul is now retired and lives in Hawaii where he spends a lot of time on the potter’s wheel making bowls and mugs and at the computer writing.

Click here to buy: The Telephone Killer

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