Sergeant Gable threw a stack of cases at Luther and I. Again, this community was plagued by growing meth labs. We went through a particular report on a suspected location in a fairly safe neighborhood called Meadowbrook on the south end of the city, off of South Main Street. We began surveillance on a quiet street called Elva. I parked my vintage car across the street, almost to the end of the street from a known trafficking house, three houses up from our parked car. I felt my car would be best to use since it looked like it would be owned by an older person with a love of custom vehicles.

On the nights when there was very little goings on in or out of the house, I would try to call Wesley Thornton. I did not receive any reply after calling multiple times a day.

Around 5 p.m., Luther popped his head around my cubicle wall. “Hey, remember those Indy detectives we met during Rathbone’s autopsy?”

“I sure do.”

“They are at the front desk. They need to see us.”

Detective Felts and Detective Lutz were studying the recent wanted posters on the large bulletin board across from the high counter. I noticed their eyes were peeled on the poster of Amora Rathbone.

Detective Felts turned around as we approached them. “This poster is quite coincidental. We are here to match up fingerprints from this missing prisoner.”

My keen mind on this escaped woman was going through excitement cartwheels. I came up with an answer before there was any kind of comparison. “I bet she is mixed up in a homicide.”

Detective Lutz seemed amused, but attempted to get serious. “Ms. Rathbone’s secretary had her throat cut last week. We think the fingerprints we found in Ms. Rathbone’s office desk and the murder weapon found in the back staircase down from the research offices need confirmation you two can help us with.”

Luther spoke up, “Detectives, follow us to my computer. I can pull up Amora Rathbone’s prints.”

Like a group of college students waiting for their final exam scores, the Indy detectives, Luther, and I stood by in bated breath as Luther printed the fingerprint findings. He handed the result to Detective Felts.

He compared a copy of her fingerprints to the copy of their analyzed prints. “I’m glad we drove through the five o’clock hellish traffic. They are a match!”

I spoke up, “That day, Luther and I got the word of her escape, and we visited Wesley Thornton. To me, he didn’t seem like himself. I’ve called him several times with no answer.”

“Well, we will give Mr. Thornton a visit,” Detective Lutz assured me.

I wanted so badly to volunteer to join them, but Luther glared at in such a way I knew not to go there. It did feel reassuring my instincts were still working very well.


With each day on our super boring snail’s pace surveillance, I could not contain myself until Sunday. Luther and I negotiated with the sergeant to give us a break. Luther used his sure-fire excuse of Althea threatening to divorce him if he didn’t get a day off soon.

There did come a break in our recent case late one Saturday night. From the house we had been casing, twelve different types of vehicles parked in front only stayed there for an average of ten minutes. The ages ranging of the visitors looked to be around 20 to 30, mostly males. I knew it was only a matter of time before there would be some kind of altercation; Saturday night would be the best time for a bust to take place.


Sunday came. I shuffled out of bed around 1 p.m. My first thought was a strong cup of coffee. Grace was busy on what Grandpa Pete called “supper”: a traditional late afternoon full course meal which farmers in the Midwest had established a hundred years or so to get into bed early to rest before their rising, before the crack of dawn.

I poured what was left in the coffeemaker, doctored it up to my liking, then proceeded for my getting-ready protocol upstairs. Grace shouted before I left the kitchen, “Glenda, you have that expression of leaving-for-the-day. We are having beef and noodles!”

I peeked my head back through the archway molding, “And I know it will be delicious. Leave me a plate, Grace. I’ve got a huge lead on a case.”

Walking to my vintage 1988 baby blue Camaro, I spied Luther, arms folded, leaning against the passenger side. “Do you think I was going to let you spy around the Rathbone Estate by yourself?”

“I’ll unlock the car. I thought you were going to spend your day off with Althea?”

He got in. “Nope! She’s in Louisville at her sister’s home.”

As we got to 38th Street, travelling to North Meridian, Luther got curious. “What if Thornton refuses to let us in?”

“We will park in that open lot past the Rathbone natural wall of poplar trees. I’m glad you dressed casual. We will be doing some climbing.”

“Oh, you’ve done this before, I assume.”

“Wyla and I broke in when you were on leave.”

After parking and locking my car, we passed the natural barrier. A tan-colored picket fence divided the Rathbone acreage to the neighbor’s south lawn. The top of the spikes came up to Luther’s eye level.

“You climb on top of my shoulders and jump off into the open lawn,” Luther instructed.

I did not like his strategy, but I was clueless on a better idea to get to the other side of this fence. It was the jumping I dreaded. Luther said, “Don’t think about how you will land. Like tearing off a bandage, do it quick!”

I did it with not even the twist of an ankle. Thankfully, my hips and legs were elastic enough not to break any bones. I was amazed as Luther used a long branch to pole jump over the fence.

We made our way towards the house, passing the three-car garage. I stopped. Luther asked, seemingly puzzled, “What are you thinking?”

“I want to peek into each window. What could it hurt?”

We looked into each window. In the third window, we saw a car. Luther shouted out the model and make immediately, “That’s a Toyota Camry, looks to be a 2015 or 2016.”

I wrote the identity of the car into my pocket-size notebook out of my back jean pocket. We moved on to the front door. I rang the doorbell several times. We stood there for another ten minutes; nothing. A voice came from behind us, deep with a noticeable accent, “What do you want?”

Luther and I jumped almost a foot, then turned around to see a stout, brown-skinned, dark-haired man holding a rake. I explained, “Sir, we had an appointment with Wesley Thornton. There was no response from the gate, so we walked into the lawn. We are detectives from the Anderson Police Department.”

His expression read surprise. “That explains how you made it from the mile-long natural barrier!”

“Forgive me, but who are you?” I sheepishly inquired.

“I’m Luis, the Rathbone gardener. Mr. Wesley has gone on a trip. When he put this place up for sale, he told me he was going to look for somewhere more peaceful than here. He needed to get away.”

Luther got closer to the gardener. “Could you help us with something? Have there been strange things happening since before Mr. Thornton left?”

“Like seeing Mr. Wesley walking from the backyard shed to the back of the house naked? Is that strange enough?” Luis answered.

I asked, “When was that?”

“It was two weeks ago on a Friday night.”

“Another question and we will let you get back to work. Whose car is that in the garage?” I asked, hoping Luis would not lose patience with our lingering presence.

“That car is Missy Amora’s. I thought working these days on the front part of the lawn I would run into her. I haven’t seen her at all. That same night I saw Mr. Wesley naked, I had to get something out of the garage. There her car was parked, next to the Rathbone limousine.” Luis said, then turned to get back onto his small riding cart.


For all installments from The Islands Tell of It, click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Chapter 1: The First Victim
  2. Chapter 2: Four Months Before October
  3. Chapter 3: Bobber’s Café
  4. Chapter 4: Heat Wave
  5. Chapter 5: Deep-End Dining
  6. Chapter 6: Rathbone Estate
  7. Chapter 7: Althea’s Run
  8. Chapter 8: Emergency Interrupts
  9. Chapter 9: Girls Talk Turkey
  10. Chapter 10: There Came a Lull
  11. Chapter 11: Dangerous Mind
  12. Chapter 12: Luana Barba
  13. Chapter 13: Trip to Milwaukee
  14. Chapter 14: Enough Killing
  15. Chapter 15: A Parking Lot Visitation
  16. Chapter 16: The Restaurant
  17. Chapter 17: Late-Night Work
  18. Chapter 18: Grandpa Pete
  19. Chapter 19: A Group is Formed
  20. Chapter 20: Rendezvous with Evil
  21. Chapter 21: The Upside-Down of it All
  22. Chapter 22: Two Ways to Fight
  23. Chapter 23: I Have to See Her
  24. Chapter 24: A Funeral
  25. Chapter 25: Unaware
  26. Chapter 26: Synchronized Surprise
  27. Chapter 27: The Show Must Go On