Raven’s Wordzzle Challenge

Raven’s Wordzzle Challenge: Week 58

Wordzzles are little Word Puzzles gifted to us weekly by Raven at Views From Raven’s Nest.  Raven presents these puzzles in the form of lists, which we must unravel and expand into a story.  This week I supplied the words for Raven’s Wordzzle.  Every word was common and ordinary, so why was it so danged hard to fashion my story around them?!

I present to you another installment of my ongoing series, and an apology, because in order to post this on Saturday (which it still will be here in Hawaii for another few minutes) I have to stop short of using all the words, so a part two (of part 4) will be coming — though probably not tomorrow because we have an Easter party to attend, and probably not Monday because I have Handbell Choir practice, but definitely before Thursday when I have more words!  Copper better solve this mystery, it’s wearing me out!

The first parts of this story can be found here:  The Daze of Wine & Murder

Forensics

Copper eyed the tenebrous chartreuse liquid and his stomach flipped like an acrobat.  “No thanks, I’ll pass,” he drawled.

Credence nodded his head. “Wise choice. This is what we pumped out of Janice Wheeler’s stomach. Apparently she had chicken noodle soup and a green salad for dinner, and a Prozac for dessert. Then a couple of hours later, she ingested yet another Prozac, followed shortly thereafter by a lethal dose of benzodiazepine.”

“Benzodiazepine?” Copper queried. “The victims of the Reisling and Merlot County murders died of benzodiazepine overdoses.”

Credence nodded. “The M.O. is the same all the way down to the brand of of wine.”

“Except Janice Wheeler. She was roughed up. She ingested two poisons. And she’s still alive.” Copper ticked the points off on his fingers. “Why?”

Credence turned to his computer and tapped the keyboard, bringing the screen to life. “Prozac is a serotonin inhibitor. An overdose of Prozac causes abnormal brain activity.” The computer screen showed an electroencephalogram. “The thought process is severely inhibited. Speech and motor skills are also adversely effected.” Credence pointed his finger at different parts of the image on the screen as he spoke. “Best case scenario, the victim of an SSRI over dose suffers some mental confusion, lack of coordination and trembling. Worst case scenario — coma, convulsions and death.”

“So Janice Wheeler only suffered a mild case of Prozac overdose.” Copper surmised. “But what of the benzodiazepine? You said she was given a lethal dose?”

Credence  grinned at Copper and said, “Janice Wheeler is incredibly lucky. The primary treatment for an SSRI overdose is the administration of benzodiazepine.”

Copper demanded incredulously, “Are you telling me she was poisoned and given the antidote at the same time?”

“Yep,” Credence nodded. “The dosage on both was a little sloppy and the wine complicated things, but I just spoke to her medical doctor and he anticipates she’ll pull through with no lasting ill effects.

“Could she have planned this?” Credence asked. “What if she’s the murderer? Could this be a red herring she concocted to keep herself from suspicion?”

“Damn risky,” Credence answered. “But,” he shook his head and shrugged, “that theory might explain the bottle mystery.” He waved his hand and motioned for Copper to follow him a bit further into the lab. Copper glanced over his shoulder at the door before following reluctantly.

Credence noted Copper’s hesitance and laughed. “How is it that a big time murder investigator can still be squeamish about dead bodies?”

“They haunt me,” Copper said. “Every night when I try to sleep, every body from every unsolved murder parades behind my eyes and I usually see them in whatever form was the goriest.”

Credence clapped Copper on the back in sympathy and said, “We’re not headed for autopsy this time. Just right over here.” Credence pointed at a station just a few feet away that was littered with fingerprinting lifting paraphernalia and manned by a pony-tailed tech in a pink lab coat. “Copper, this is Janelle Poplin. Janelle –,” The tech was surrounded by wine bottles and was busy brushing one with titanium dioxide while singing a horribly off-key rendition of the Coasters’ 1959 hit, Poison Ivy and didn’t respond.

Credence raised his hand and tugged the iPod wire trailing across her shoulder, popping the ear-bud from her ear. “Hey!” The girl complained, then snapped to attention when she recognized Credence and saw Copper beside him.

“Oh, sorry,” she said and smiled nervously. “I plug into this because I can’t stand listening to the ceiling fan. It buzzes like a bumble bee.”

Copper thought her coworkers might find the ceiling fan less bothersome than her singing,

“Janelle, this is Vin Copper from homicide. Tell him what you’ve found.” Credence ordered.

“Uhm, okay, uh –” the girl stammered. “Where do I begin?”

Credence waved his hand at the array of bottles and glasses on her workbench and prompted, “How does what you found here differ from the other two Bacchant murder scene evidence?”

The girl grinned, “Oh, hey. That’s easy,” she said happily. “At the first two crime scenes there were 18 bottles of poisoned wine. All of that wine was of the same vintage and purchased in bulk directly from Lightening Bird Vineyard. It was a so-so wine and had a moderate price tag. The wine was ordered over the phone and shipped to two different addresses, both empty homes.”

Copper nodded. He knew this. He’d visited both the homes. which were up for sale and signed on to the multiple listing service. Literally hundreds of people had access to the homes on a daily basis. Two officers were following that trail.

“The Wheeler woman is a Realtor,” Credence said.

Again Copper nodded. “That piece of news was relayed to my team last month,” he said, then motioned at Janelle, “Go on.”

“Okay,” she said. “From this crime scene we have the 18 bottles of Lightingbird Wine, and 12 bottles of this lovely Cabernet Sauvignon from Black Cat Cellars, and one bottle of Vidussi Schioppettino 2004. The Lightening Bird wine was laced with a generic benzodiazepine. The Cabernet Sauvignon was laced with prescription Xanax — tied to a theft from Mercy Hospital –”

“Still under investigation,” Copper muttered. He pulled out a leather bound pocket notebook and scribbled several rapid notes. “More,” he ordered.

Janelle complied. “And this one bottle of wine,” she pointed at the bottle in question, ” is a Vidussi Schioppettino 2004. Not your average grocery store wine. It was laced with Prozac.”

Copper repeated, “Three wines, two poisons –”

“Actually”, Janelle interrupted. “There were dozens of wines. Everything from homemade dandelion to hundred dollar bottles of champagne. That was pretty much standard in all three cases. Everybody brought their favorites, but the rituals were observed with the common — poisoned — wines.”

“So these victims had twice as much poison in them than the previous victims?” Copper asked.

“That hasn’t been verified yet,” Credence said. “When we’re through here, I’ll check with autopsy –”

“Right,” Copper said. He turned to Janelle, “Anything else?”

“Fingerprints,” she said. “In the first two crime scenes the only fingerprints found were those of the victims, and not one person left their prints on more than two or three bottles. Here Janice Wheeler’s fingerprints are on every bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.”

“Perhaps she is a copy cat killer,” Copper mused. He jotted a few more notes on his pad.

“And we have one set of fingerprints currently unaccounted for.” Janelle tapped the side of the Vidussi Schioppettino bottle with her pencil. “The only set of fingerprints that haven’t been tied to a victim.”

Copper fastened his gaze on Janelle. “Have we matched them?” he demanded. Janelle looked at Credence. Credence shook his head. “Manny is running them now. So far he’s not in our local or state data base.”

“He?” Copper demanded.

“Well, we can’t be certain, but judging from the size and shape, the hand belongs to a male of average stature.” Janelle supplied.  “I found the same fingerprints on the Bacchante’s alabaster goblet, which is how we think she got her second dose of Prozac.”

Copper said, “Okay, let’s see if I follow.  Janice Wheeler had two Prozacs, a Xanax,  and a dose of generic benzodiazepine –”

“No,”  Credence corrected.  “Janice Wheeler had no Xanax in her system.”

“Then she didn’t drink the ritual wine,” Copper mused, “And if she didn’t lead the ritual, then there had to be another Bacchante present.  Was she among the dead?”

“Janice Wheeler was the only tattooed Bacchante at the festival,” Credence answered.  “If there was another ordained Bacchante priestess there, she left or her body was removed before we arrived.”

“So,” Copper tapped his pen against the tablet in his hand, “There’s a good chance we’re looking for two people, and we don’t know if they’re acting together or separately.  That makes things easier, now doesn’t it?”

Raven’s Wordzzle Challenge


Raven’s Wordzzle Challenge: Week 56

Wordzzles are little Word Puzzles gifted to us weekly by Raven at Views From Raven’s Nest.  Raven presents these puzzles in the form of lists, which we must unravel and expand into a story.  This week I bundled all the words together and wrote only the mega challenge, which actually began Thursday on my blog post,  The Best Laid Plains.

The Crime Scene

“We’ve definitely got a serial killer on our hands,” Detective Vincent Copper spoke as he strode a marked path through the crime scene, the Bluetooth transmitter in his ear relating information to the Barbaresco Chief of Police.  “Three months, three different Bacchanal clans snuffed.  Somebody has a grudge.  But they may have made a mistake this time.  They’ve left someone alive – barely.  The EMTs are working on her and the Life-Flight helicopter is just now landing.”

Copper tapped the Bluetooth and ended transmission.  The noise of the chopper would have made further communication impossible anyway.  He demanded an update on the victim’s medical status, secured transport details, and asked the lead of the forensics team if they’d found anything of significance in her personal effects.

“I think it’s supposed to look like the lady fell off the mountain side and died right here,” Marty Credence told the detective.  “But she’s alive and we may just have an important witness.”

“Oh?”  Copper took a recording devise from his pocket and clicked it on.  He nodded toward the crumbled embankment and said,  “Tell me more.”

“Well,” Credence turned to face the mountain and pointed uphill.  “She arrived, traipsed around a bit through the brush in the dark – no clue as to why – and then took a tumble.  We found her hair combs, her shoes and bits of her velvet dress scattered down the mountainside.”

Credence handed Copper a sealed plastic evidence bag with a jeweled hair comb inside.  “The lady’s purse was here beside her – her name is Janice Wheeler, but as an initiate bacchante she took the name, Chianti Sangiovese – she’s a real estate agent from a successful firm and – by the way, the jewels and gold are real – she’s not hurting for money.”

Copper was used to Credence’s detailed parenthetical monologues, and sometimes he even appreciated them, but for right now he just wanted the big picture. He waved his hand in the air in a rolling motion, urging Credence to move it along.

Credence dropped the chatty air and started listing facts.  “So far we know Ms. Wheeler fell a short way down the mountain, got up and walked a few more yards, and then fell the rest of the way, landing here.”  Credence took a side-step away from where they’d found Janice and pointed at a spot several feet to the left and about a yard closer to the embankment.  The sand held the deep imprint of her hands, knees and feet where she’d landed.  It also showed her staggering steps as she gained her feet and struggled to the band stand.

Copper visually traced the fifty yard path.  “She went to the bandstand.  So how did she end up back here?”

Credence elaborated.  “We found a microphone covered in blood we think is her’s, from the lacerations on her hands.  She definitely went to the bandstand and we think she was able to speak.”

“What you think doesn’t matter,” Copper said.  “I don’t want imagination.  Give me facts.  What do we know?”

“We don’t know how long she was on the bandstand, or if she may have gone anywhere else, then returned to the bandstand, but we do know that she arrived here,” Credence pointed at the place they’d found her, “walking between, and very close to, two other people.”

The sand told a story.  “So you’re saying she was carried,” Copper asked, noting the marks that looked as though her feet were dragging.

“Supposition, but it seems that’s so.  The sand here isn’t anymore tightly packed than anywhere else.  Unless she can levitate, something or someone else was keeping her footsteps from sinking in.”

“What about the other two sets of footprints?”

Credence unfolded a measuring rod and lowered it into one of the larger footprints.  “They are measurably deeper in the spots where it looks as though Ms. Wheeler was being carried.”

Copper smiled.  “I want cartography on all of this.”

“In progress, sir,” Credence assured him.  “Photographs, plaster casts … all standard procedures.”

Copper nodded.  “Anything else?”

“We have a theory that the additional prints belong to a man and a woman.  His prints being the wider, deeper ones, and her’s being roughly the same size as Ms. Wheeler’s, only wearing shoes.  But we won’t have any firm evidence until we get everything back to the lab and look at it more closely.”

“Nothing from the club house?”  Copper pointed at a huge octagonal building floating in the middle of the lake.

“It wasn’t open.  There are no signs that any of the party ever left the beach.  The boat ramp is chained every evening at nine p.m. and this shindig didn’t start until midnight.  Even so, we’ve asked the D.A. to subpoena any surveillance equipment they might have.”

“Good work, Credence,” Copper switched off his recording device and shook the forensic officer’s hand.  “Keep me posted.”

Copper followed the carefully-marked path around the outskirts of the crime scene.  Fifty-seven people had died here last night.  Almost fifty-eight.  Why?

This was a crime of wholesale slaughter.  It was not a crime of passion against a single victim – or was it?   Nothing made sense.  In January, 72 people from the Reisling County Clan died at bacchanal.  In February, 32 people in Merlot County died the same way.  Now this.

Unlike their legendary counterparts, these Bacchanal ceremonies were non-violent – in fact, surprisingly non-violent given that sex and alcohol were the reveler’s prime pastime.  Copper stopped as near to the bonfire as the marked path allowed.  From his vantage point he could see a scorched Big Mac box, what looked like a religious tract, and a pile of sharpened sticks ready for roasting marshmallows.  They looked out of place amidst the police tape, orange evidence flags, and body silhouettes.

Copper turned his back on the scene and walked to the edge of the lake.  He stared down at his mirror image on the surface of the water.  Years ago he’d built a partition in his mind between his job and his life.  Everyday that partition seemed to grow more fragile.  Copper wondered if it was time to get out of law enforcement.  His dreams were haunted by the sightless eyes of those whose cases had never been solved.

He walked to his car, then turned and stared out over the crime scene.  Tonight one hundred sixty-two people would haunt his dreams.  He thought of Janice Wheeler and hoped it wouldn’t be one hundred sixty-three.

Copper activated the Bluetooth in his ear and dialed his cell phone, then started his car and headed for the highway.  His call was answered on the first ring.

“Well?”  The Chief demanded.

Copper sighed.  “Just like the other two,” he said.  “All three crime scenes are identical.  Dead revelers, scattered bottles and glasses, and no signs anybody had a clue anything was wrong.”

“This one had one difference,” the chief pointed out.

Copper nodded even though he couldn’t be seen.  “Janice Wheeler.  I’m on my way to the hospital now.  Not only is she alive and a possible witness, but there is some evidence that she may have been assaulted.  Plus, she was found several yards beyond the party grounds.”

“What are you thinking?”
Copper shrugged.  “It’s just a hunch, but I’m thinking there may have been two different crimes here.”

“You know we can’t investigate a hunch,” the chief said.  “But keep your eyes open.  And keep me informed.”

Copper left the freeway via the 8th Street exit.  An environmental group stood on the corner waving picket signs bearing green panther silhouettes and the slogan, “Green Power, the salvation of the world.”  He braked for the stop-light and one of the kids tapped on his car window and offered him a pamphlet.  Copper rolled his window down just far enough to take it.  “Be green!”  The kids said, and waved as Copper pulled away.

Copper glanced at the pamphlet.  It contained an ad for some sort of environmental poet’s corner combined fund-raiser, and promised a Ralph Nader autograph to every one pledging $100.00 or more.

Tossing the pamphlet over his shoulder and into the back seat,  Copper wondered if Ralph Nader authorized the sale of his autograph.

(to be continued)

Raven’s Wordzzle Week #50


Wordzzles are little Word Puzzles gifted to us weekly by Raven at Views From Raven’s Nest.  Raven presents these puzzles in the form of lists, which we must unravel and expand into a story.  This week, pressed for time, I bundled all the words together and used them in one short (mega) story.

Raven chose the words — phrases actually — for this 5oth Wordzzle from the blog names and/or taglines of her regular players.   I am honored to be included in such a talented group of bloggers.

So, without further ado —

The Scavenger Hunt

Nonsense is ubiquitous and insanity prevails in the Fortress at Pigeon Falls.  Today the Freemasons are having a scavenger hunt.  I asked, “What are they supposed to be finding, Pam?”  She said, “They seem to be after everything and nothing!  It’s a wild goose chase.”  “Oh,” I said while peeking again into the envelope I’d found under the cherry tree, “Are you sure they’re not looking for plane tickets?”

Just then one of the Freemasons yelled, “Do you see what I see?”  He pointed at a raven’s nest and a guy wearing a t-shirt bearing the slogan, It’s all about bloggers, climbed to the top of the cherry tree and grabbed the nest.  He carried it to the ground and they tore it apart.

Then everybody started talking and yelling and carrying on so much that even though I tried really (well, sort of) hard, I wasn’t getting a word in edgewise, so I just got in my car and drove away.  There might have been a bit of a smile on my face.  This grandmother of five is working at shortening the distance between herself and a calm. blue, Pacific Paradise.

Bridging The Gap & Wordzzle

It is time to bid adieu to Bridging The Gap. Alice of, I Was Born2Cree8, has been a wonderful host. I have seen bridges of many kinds, sizes and shapes from all around the world. Thank you, Alice. You sure know how to throw a great party!

For my last Bridging the Gap entry, I wanted to show a type of bridge I don’t believe anyone has posted yet.

USS Missouri aka Mighty Mo
USS Missouri aka “Mighty Mo”

This is the Mighty Mo, and the rolling gang plank (staircase and bridge) that make her accessible to tourists. I learned a bit about Mo that boggles my mind — it took three years to build and over 3 million full hour work days! And did you know that if Mo were stood on end near the Washington Monument, she would be 332 feet taller? She was the last US Battleship to be commissioned, and the last US Battleship to be decommissioned.

Mo saw war time duty in WWII, the Korean War and the Gulf War. She is currently in Pearl Harbor, but will soon be moving to dry dock to have her hull scraped and painted, and much of her decking replaced.

Ships Motto
Ship’s Motto

Welcome aboard: When you step off the gang plank and onto Mighty Mo, you are greeted with a show of pride — and the Mighty Mo has plenty to be proud of. History was made — the world was shaped and changed by this ship and the men who worked on it.

Surrender of Japan, WWII
Surrender of Japan, WWII

Over this spot on 2 September 1945 the instrument of Formal Surrender of Japan to the Allied Powers was signed, thus bringing to a close, the Second World War.

General Douglas McArthur was there to oversee the proceedings. Other high-ranking officials included: Chinese General Hsu Yung-Ch’ang, British Admiral-of-the-Fleet Sir Bruce Fraser, Soviet Lieutenant-General Kuzma Nikolaevich Derevyanko, Australian General Sir Thomas Blamey, Canadian Colonel Lawrence Moore Cosgrave, French Général d’Armée Philippe Leclerc de Hautecloque, Netherlands Vice Admiral Conrad Emil Lambert Helfrich, and New Zealand Air Vice Marshal Leonard M. Isitt. You may read more interesting facts here.

The Bridge of the Mighty Mo
The Bridge of the Mighty Mo

* * *

WORDZZLE!

It is time for Raven’s weekly word challenge, Wordzzle. This is my first time participating. I had a blast designing my paragraphs so that each of them (one for each Wordzzle Challenge I completed) used all of Raven’s words and told a comprehensible story.

Raven’s Words For The Ten Word Challenge Were: pogo stick, ant farm, psychic, tin box, wall safe, Waterloo, surge protector, pneumonia, ravages of time, turtle

My turtle was suffering from pnuemonia, so on the veterinarian’s recommendation, I bought him an electric heat rock. If I were psychic I never would have mounted the surge protector on the wall above the aquarium, but I am not psychic, so how could I have known that I would knock it into the water while practicing on my pogo stick. At least the turtle was warm when he met his waterloo. And at least I can happily report that I have learned from my mistake. No more water pets for me. I purchased an ant farm and I know just how to keep it safe. I’ve tucked it away in a tin box and locked it in the wall safe. My new pets are safe from fire, flood, my pogo stick, the ravages of time — and me!

Raven’s Words For The Mini Challenge Were opera singer, oil paints, potter’s wheel, swollen ankles, toothy grin

The fat opera singer disdained the petite wire chair I had set out for her and, complaining of the pain in her swollen ankles, swiped the ordered row of my oil paints into the floor, flashed me a toothy grin, and hefted herself onto my work bench. My potter’s wheel and the cat completely disappeared beneath her bulk. She motioned toward me, standing stunned beside my easel, and said, “You may begin ….”