The Alpha Eye

The actual text of this book has no space between paragraphs, and each paragraph is indented, as is normally found in a book. But this web format does not allow for indents, so I had to put the spaces between the paragraphs here on this site.
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Chapter 26

One week later, on a Saturday night, Ryan rings the doorbell at the address he was given. The night is below average temperature and he stands outside holding a bottle of Merlot in his left hand, and the other stuffed in the pocket of his beige kakis. With the addition of a thin black leather jacket made in Italy, and a clean shave, he appears to have put himself together nicely, except for the cowboy boots which are scuffed up and old. He doesn’t own a better pair of shoes, and besides, he thinks they’re cool.

Lynn, who is wearing dark sunglasses, flings open the door. Jennifer stands over her shoulder, saying, “Hi, Ryan! This is Lynn. Lynn, meet Ryan.”

Ryan shakes her hand, saying, “Nice to meet you, Lynn. Happy Easter.” And he hands her the bottle of wine.

“Thank you! Nice to meet you too.”

“Sunglasses at night?” Ryan asks.

“So I can keep track of visions in my eyes,” she replies.

Ryan looks puzzled, and Jennifer explains, “She’s quoting a song by Corey Hart.”

Putting his hands in his pockets, he smiles, “Never heard of him.”

“One hit wonder from the eighties,” says Lynn as she holds the door open.

Jennifer says, “Come on Ryan, I’ll show you where the drinks are. Follow me.” But before leading the way, she turns around and rips the glasses off Lynn’s face, saying, “Don’t be ridiculous!”

“Hey!” shouts Lynn. “Give those back!”

Ryan laughs and follows after Jennifer who is still clutching the sunglasses. He cannot help but notice the sway in her walk. She’s wearing high heels which may add to that sway. She’s hypnotic in every way and showing a lot of leg tonight.

Laid out across the dining room table are hors d’oeuvres, cheeses, crackers, wines, liquor, an ice bucket and other beverages, along with the majority of what was once a six foot Italian hero. Ryan mixes Jack Daniels with ginger ale on ice in a plastic cup. He likes to keep the little red stirrer in the cup for occasional stirs, to rest a finger on for balance when carrying the drink around, and for an added distraction for those awkward moments.

Jennifer engages him in small talk, allowing his system time to absorb the alcohol. He appreciates her obvious sympathies for a new friend who would be nervous when arriving at a party full of complete strangers. After a few minutes, she offers to introduce him around to some of her friends. He obliges.

“Ryan, this is Wyatt, Lynn’s husband. This is his house.” They laugh compulsively and Ryan shakes his hand.

“Well, thanks for opening your home this evening,” says Ryan.

“Thanks for being my guest.”

“Being the guest is the easy part, but look at the nice spread you put out, and then there’s the clean up afterward.”

“Ah, it’s nothing,” Wyatt replies. “Lynn and Jenny are the masterminds here. How long have you and Jenny been seeing each other?”

Jennifer laughs nervously. “Don’t be silly, we are not dating!”

Ryan’s face drops from a blushed smile to a blank stare.

She continues, “He’s just a friend and-”

“She’s seeing me, but I don’t see anything. I mean, I’m just her test subject for her new book,” he interjects.

Darting her eyes at Ryan, and grimacing, she says, “Well, yes, um, he happens to be a great control subject for my new book.”

“Sorry,” says Wyatt. “I didn’t mean to embarrass you guys.” They all chuckle, and he continues, “But what does that mean, a great control subject?”

Jennifer attempts to answer, “Well-”

“Because,” interrupts Ryan, “I hypnotize real easy. And I’m sane, unlike all her other subjects.”

Jennifer elbows him with an angry gleam in her eyes. His drink spills a little as he scoots his feet back to avoid getting it on his pants and boots.

Ryan turns to her. “What?”

Wyatt says, “Sanity is only skin deep. I’ll get that.” And he walks away to grab a napkin or two.

“That hurt! What are you doing?” he says in hushed tones.

“I thought I told you that what we’re doing is top secret until I’m ready to go public with the book,” she hisses.

“You never said that!”

“I didn’t?” she says. “Well, I should have. And I don’t want to broadcast that I’m comparing a control group with, quote-unquote, the ‘mentally ill’. That’s tacky.”

They stop talking abruptly when Wyatt returns with napkins. He drops them to the floor and begins sliding them back and forth over the spill with his shoe.

After downing a few more drinks, and having met Lynn’s other family members and friends, some of which are mutual friends of Jennifer, Ryan snaps his head toward a scream coming from the front of the house. There’s some commotion followed by a deep gravelly voice and several people laughing. The tall older man making his way through the living room is turning a lot of heads. Ryan scratches the back of his neck, finishes the last half of his Jack and ginger, stuffs one hand in his pocket and looks the other way.

“Scotch on the rocks?” says Jennifer to the man. “You got it!”

On their way to the dining room’s makeshift wet bar and buffet, she yells, “Ryan! You know Chief Inspector Thomas Kleiger. Tom, this is Ryan, one of the two witnesses of the getaway car? He’s lending a hand for a new project I’m working on.”

When Ryan shakes his hand, they lock eyes and freeze. Ryan says, “I never forget a face.”

“Thanks, Ryan, for helping out with law enforcement.”

Jennifer walks over to a group of three ladies gossiping nearby, allowing the men to speak alone.

“No,” says Ryan, maintaining the clasp on Kleiger’s hand, “thank you for introducing me to the photographic memory I never knew I had. I just wish it led straight to the killer.”

“Well,” Kleiger shakes off Ryan’s grip, “the stolen vehicle remains a vital piece of evidence. We’re confident that its yield will be significant.”

“I wish there was more I can do,” says Ryan.

“Well, I hear you’ve stuck around to help Jenny with other things.”

“That’s right.”

“Between you and I,” asks Kleiger, “how many people - family, friends - have you told about your help in this investigation, particularly your working with Dr. Jenny?”

“Are you here on business or pleasure?” asks Ryan with a subtle but noticeable slur in his speech.

“To me, business is pleasure. Answer the question.”

“Not unless I have my attorney present,” he says with a grin.

“We have ways of making you talk,” says Kleiger, smiling back at him.

“With a name like Kleiger, I bet you do.”

The Inspector’s face turns grave. “I didn’t take you for a wise ass when we first met.”

“It’s Dr. Jenny, officer, she brings out the worst in me.”

“I ask again, how many know that you and Dr. Jenny were helping with this case?”

“My mom and dad, and my friend, Skeets. That makes three.”

“Skeets?” asks Kleiger taking out a tiny pad and pen from his inside pocket. “What’s his real name?”

“He’s not your man, Chief.”

“No one’s my man until I say he’s my man! Now, what’s his real name?”

“Zachariah Canales.”

“What is that, Israeli or Puerto Rican?”

“What difference does it make?”

“I’m asking the questions here.”

“Yes, Gruppenführer.”

Kleiger raises his fist, but stops himself.

“He’s Puerto Rican,” he says, “but that doesn’t make him a criminal. He’s an American citizen and an employee in my tree trimming business.”

Kleiger tears off a page from the notepad and hands it, along with a pen, to Ryan. “Please write his address, phone number and the correct spelling of his name. Would you do that?”

Ryan takes the pen and paper and turns to a nearby lamp stand to lean on. After jotting down the information, he hands the items back to Kleiger. “That’s the street,” he says, “but I forgot the house number. His phone number’s there.”

“Thank you,” he says. “Why do you call him Skeets?”

“He likes to go to the gun range and he’s a pretty good shot, so we call him Skeets, as in skeet shooter.”

“Oh, he likes weapons, huh?”

“Guns are like a hobby to him, but he’ll tell you that he keeps them for protection, not mayhem. It’s his Second Amendment right, is it not?”

“I wasn’t questioning his right to bear arms,” says Kleiger, “I was merely asking if he likes weapons.”

“Yeah, well, obviously.” Ryan crosses his arms.

“Do you know Celia, the receptionist at Dr. Jenny’s?”


“Are you aware that her cousin was stalked by a man that fits the description that you and Mr. Walsh provided?”

“Yes, I’ve heard.”

“Then keep your eyes open. There’s no such thing as coincidence in a homicide investigation. The killer might have been aiming for Celia. And what you may not have heard is that Dr. Jenny thinks she may have been followed by the same character. If you see anything suspicious, or are suspicious of anyone, call me immediately, or tell Jenny and she’ll let me know. Here’s my card.”

“I have your card already in my wallet. I’ll call if I see anything unusual.” Ryan reaches into his inside pocket. Kleiger’s eyes widen as he suddenly grabs his arm with both hands. Ryan responds by clasping one of Kleiger’s wrists with his free hand. Kleiger’s face goes white. Some of the other guests turn their heads toward the scuffle, and Jennifer is horrified. “I just wanted to give you this,” Ryan says with a quiver in his voice. With their arms clasped in a jittery struggle, Ryan’s hand emerges from under his jacket to reveal what he’s holding. It’s a Hire Wire Tree Surgeon business card.

“Sorry.” Kleiger exhales as he releases him. “I have all your information already.”

Ryan fixes his jacket and says, “This is for business.”

He takes it and stuffs it into one of the many pockets of his long coat. “Of course, of course. Thank you.”

Kleiger walks away as Ryan’s eyes follow him out of the room. Jennifer scurries after him, saying, “Let me get you that drink!” She glowers at Ryan while passing by.

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