Mr. Philip Wentworth sits huddled in his den, which is also his library. He has just got off the phone and the information he had just received is giving him some tingling in his left leg, which he favored slightly. He got the limp from a nasty fall he had while skiing in the Alps five years ago. He had been on an assignment to find out all he could about a man who had swindled the company he worked for to a tune of a million dollars. Receiving a tip-off from an old friend, a retired cop living in New York, he had been able to track the swindler down to Austria. But someone had got to him first, to settle an old score, perhaps. He had found several police cars parked in front of an apartment building the guy rented. A cleaning maid had found him sprawled on a settee, throat slashed and surrounded by dried, caked blood. Seeing that the case was abruptly closed, with nothing more to do at the time, and being entitled to two more days on the assignment, he had gone back to the Haus Kienreich, where he had been lodging. The skiing accident had occurred the following day and with the help of the staff working at the lodge, he had taken the next available flight back to Maine.

Now, looking at the writing pad on his lap, Mr. Wentworth writes down a few more points. Ever since Eileen contacted him about the maniac who had been fiercely stalking her friend, Lucille, he had been having a certain gut feeling that bordered on a sense of foreboding, no thanks to a similar case he had been faced with several years ago. He had just come out of a mutual divorce settlement with his wife of 13 years, who felt that being married to a police officer was taking its toll on their social life. They had shared custody of their two kids, a boy and a girl. Still trying to get used to his wife’s absence, he had been awakened to the shrill ring of his phone late one night. Jada, a young black lady and also a police officer, was on the phone. According to her, the station had received a 911 call from a man who gave his name as “Mr Z.” He had called to inform them that a young lady may be lying dead in her apartment on Pine Street. He had hurriedly dressed up then, leaving his apartment in less than ten minutes in his police cruiser, strobe lights flashing and arriving on the scene in another ten minutes. He was startled to see about three police cruisers parked there already. Jada had run towards him, and interpreting his questioning glance, had nodded silently, saying, “Yes, it’s bad, Philip. Head was merely dangling from the torso. The perp had also left a scented note on the dresser with a tiny smear of blood on the corner.” At the mention of this, Mr. Wentworth had asked if a fingerprint could be lifted from the note, already knowing what Jada’s response would be. And Jada had given a wry smile, shaking her head. “No such luck, I’m afraid. The perp must have worn gloves.” Nodding, he had asked what the note said. Looking at him gravely, Jada had said, “The crazy bitch made me do it. Her boyfriend, also. Wish I had done him, too.” Studying the note later, back at the station—he had taken on the case—he had noticed that the paper smelled of lavender. It obviously belonged to the dead woman. However, after nearly two months of unceasing investigation and some false leads, he was able to trace the perp to an isolated cabin, where he had holed up after committing the heinous crime.

Now, glancing at the pad where he had been taking several notes the past hour, he silently prays that he locates this nutty fellow, Geoff or whatever he’s called, before he stumbles on the couple, or else he would be having two bodies instead of one to deal with. His contact has just relayed to him that he had met a man whose description fitted that of Geoff’s.


Pulling up at a gas station at the interstate, Philip’s contact had opened the hood of his car pretending to check the battery and had taken a sidelong glance at Geoff, confirming that this was the crazy guy he was asked to watch out for based on the photo given to him. He had given a slight cough, like he had the flu, and by way of conversation had commented on the draughty weather. The guy who was actually Geoff had sniffed the air in a wolf-like fashion, and, pushing the nozzle of the gas pump into the tank of his mini-van, had muttered that he didn’t mind what the weather was like so long as he got to a rendezvous he had planned with his girlfriend, Lucille. Feeling a sharp tingling in his spine and trying to keep his face as deadpan as possible, Philip’s contact had given a careless grunt, closing the hood of his car and moving towards the gas pumps. Grabbing one for himself, he had commented dryly, “One could easily get lost in these parts with its winding roads. Missed two turns back there at the sharp incline.” However, the other man had stared stonily ahead, forgetting that Philip’s contact was still there. “See you in 20 minutes, Lucille,” the man called Geoff said absently as he quickly replaced the gas pump, got into his minivan and drove off, spraying some gravel. Philip’s contact had memorized the license plates of the fast disappearing vehicle. Driving away from the gas station himself a few minutes later, careful to keep a safe tail of the minivan, he dials his boss, Mr. Wentworth, giving him the information he currently had.

Philip Wentworth gets up from the leather cushion to pour himself a snifter of brandy. Andre, his contact, needed no emphasis on the need to be careful in the extreme. They are dealing with a heartless brute, who although hadn’t committed any murders in the past, could still be capable of it from all indications from previous investigations. Shonda Myers’ near fatal attack had been an eye opener. Her case could be regarded as one who was “saved by the bell.” According to Irene, Shonda’s nosy neighbor who had got back from the salon on the day of the attack, she had heard some heavy sounds coming from Shonda’s apartment. According to her, it had seemed like someone was on a rampage. She had quietly opened the latch on her door to furtively observe a gentleman, probably Latino, leaving the apartment. Giving a shrug at the strange goings-on, she had turned on the TV to watch a favorite program of hers. Midway through, however, she had heard frightened sounds made by Jack, Shonda’s Scottish terrier. She had gotten up, lowering the volume of her TV and glancing through the peephole of her front door. She had noticed that the door of Shonda’s apartment remained shut. Getting really concerned about Jack’s eerie yelp that was followed by an ominous silence, she had dialed 911 and, thankfully, the cops had arrived five minutes later. She was happy that she had acted impulsively by calling the cops. Her mind had gone swiftly to the janitor. “Probably into his fourth or fifth cup of the day,” she had sniffed. “She would see that he’s removed before he got them all murdered.”


Grabbing the phone, Mr Wentworth dials Eileen. He had really been concerned about her welfare, especially upon learning of her recent encounter with Geoff at her office parking lot two days ago. He had assigned a friend of his, a retired detective, to surveil Eileen’s apartment, even though he knew that she was not in immediate danger. But he wanted to make sure that every loophole was covered. Eileen answers with a breathless “Hello.” He gently relays to her the latest information his contact had given him. Nodding briskly at the other end, Eileen hangs up and quickly dials Lucille, her friend.


Lucille and Bob had just finished eating a hastily prepared meal of a frozen pack of stir-fried chicken with vegetables, which was microwaved with some baked potatoes. Bringing a tray of steaming mugs of cocoa—including a half-filled jug—towards Bob, who was looking at the paper in the living room, they hear the phone ring. Glancing quickly at one another, Bob gets up to answer it, dropping the paper on the settee as he does so. Lucille gently places the tray on the coffee table. Placing her hands on her hips, she walks over to Bob, who is giving her the phone with a hint of alarm in his gaze. Lucille silently curses herself for being a blight to Bob’s otherwise ordered existence. “Hello!” she says quietly, her heart constricting as she listens to what Eileen is telling her.

Emptying the untasted jug and mugs of cocoa into the sink, the couple quickly rushes to their room. They are dressed in minutes, as they had not brought much along with them in the first place. The safe haven, which happened to be Eileen’s friend’s place, has now become too dangerous for them if what Eileen had just said to her was true. According to her, Philip had said that Geoff was on his way here, and he had sounded like he knew exactly where he was headed. Bob and Lucille do not say anything to each other until they are well away from the attractive, semi-detached bungalow. Bob is driving and looks exasperated too. “I’m sorry, Bob,” Lucille says with a catch in her voice. Clasping her hand in his, Bob says quietly, “I resent what this guy is doing to us, but mostly to you. I wish I could get my hands on him.” Ruffling her almost tangled braids, Lucille asks, “Where do you think we could hole up for the night? At least before the next day, that is.” Giving a wry smile, Bob says, “We’re going to my friend’s place. He’s in the army, and his wife is a volunteer nurse in the army, too. They’re both away in Costa Rica right now.” Hearing this, Lucille heaves a sigh of relief, leaning back against the seat of the car.


Gripping the wheel of the mini-van, and licking his upper lip, Geoff curses, mounting rage almost sending him off the embankment, just like the other guy who was trying to be too smart had gone over some minutes ago. He had noticed something fishy about the guy as soon as he opened the hood of his car to putter around, back at the gas station. Who’s got the fu**ing time to check the battery of a car that is obviously in tiptop condition at a gas station? Then he had dropped the bait, about meeting “Lucille at a rendezvous.” Stupid guy had obviously bitten the bait, and what a bite he took. Geoff gives a dry chuckle at his poor attempt at humor, nearly missing a turn he was supposed to take. Quickly applying the brakes as he makes the turn, he gives another dry laugh as he relives the events of just moments before. He couldn’t forget the panicked look the guy had given him as he laid in wait for him at a lonely shoulder of the road. He had nudged his vehicle, a Passat, off the embankment, but not before catching a glimpse of the terror-filled eyes of the young man as he fell over into the crashing waves of the water below.

Dimming his headlights so as not to draw unwanted attention, he approaches the road that would bring him to the apartment where Lucille is skulking with her beau. The cowards. He thinks of the fun he’s going to have with them before putting them out of their misery. He angrily mutters a few curses that almost send him into a coughing fit. He blames Lucille for getting him exposed constantly to the persistent cold weather, as he takes continuous surveillance of her comings and goings. He almost regretted not dealing with them the first chance he got: when Bob had come to pick her up from her office. He had followed them home to find out where they lived. He was impressed at their modern home, which only served to enrage him further.


He parks the minivan two blocks away from Bob and Lucille’s home and moves casually towards their building, hands in pockets, appearing casual to any observer. The first thing he notices, however, was the living room lights which were left on, though the drapes were drawn. But these are light drapes and could only offer little shield. Keeping in the shadows, he goes around to the back door, feeling around in his pockets for a switchblade, which he uses to open the door. He pushes against the door, finding it was bolted from the inside. Openly snarling, he gets a piece of cloth for this purpose from the deep pockets of his overcoat. Wrapping it around his hand, he breaks the glass part of the door and slips his hand inside, unbolting it. He moves noiselessly inside the dark interior. He knows that the sound of breaking glass was faint. But one cannot be too sure. Whipping a .38 out, he moves into the house, checking all the rooms in seconds to find out that he was the only one there. He hurls a chair against the wall, screaming out in frustration, not caring about the noise he made. The lovebirds have flown the coop, no thanks to the weasel he had shoved into the embankment. He was probably in this cat and mouse game, too, and had possibly relayed the information that he was meeting Lucille at some rendezvous. That was a gamble on his part: he knew. He had given away too much information. Flicking on the kitchen lights, not minding his own exposure—such was the level of his fury—he sees the unwashed empty coffee mugs and jug in the sink. “Probably in a hurry to leave before he got here. The bastards,” he thinks, giving a guffaw. He’s beginning to enjoy this cat and mouse game, but he’s also getting bored with it, too.


For all installments of “Echo of Silence,” click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Prologue
  2. Part 1
  3. Part 2