BOOKS & THINGS
This is the first in a four part series. The setting is the quaint New England town of Maidstone, Massachusetts. The main character Danny returns to his home town after 6 years in the Marines. He thought he left the danger behind him in the desert of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan. Asa small town police officer, Danny thought that his biggest bust might be writing speeding tickets. But small towns have big secrets and will do anything the keep things quiet, even murder. Danny's time is running out as the investigation unravels. He better get to the bottom of this before he gets killed.
Lust, Murder, Greed, and a Cover Up in a Small New England Town
By Marc Youngquist
February 9, 2010, was a typically cold night in Maidstone, a small village tucked into one of the valleys of the Berkshire Hills. The air was dry and crisp with a light dusting of new snow covering the ground. Traffic at 2 a.m. had all but stopped. On a Tuesday night everyone would be home in bed—there would be a few restaurant workers finishing up their late shift. Of course, there would be a couple of police officers watching over the town. Except for the occasional drunk driver or maybe a heart attack, not much was going to happen until the town woke up at dawn and things began to come alive.
It could seem boring to some, Danny Gilcrest didn’t mind the quiet. It gave him a chance to catch up on his studies in a few community college courses, so he could move on to a four-year degree. He could do some research in the stock market even though he had very little to invest. This job had turned into a lot more than he had ever imagined. At times it was boring, just not all the time. The pay wasn’t great, though it was okay. The bills were getting paid and there was more than enough for his daily expenses. He could go out any night he liked if he didn’t go nuts and spend like he was one of the New York stock brokers who frequented the town.
IN SPITE OF IT ALL
Is the sequel to book 1. Danny has his number one target and is closing in. Unfortunately things are never what they appear to be on the surface. Everyone lies, suspects, witnesses, victims and unfortunately fellow cops. Danny has to sort through the mess to find the truth. A truth even he finds hard to believe.
Danny came straight up out of bed letting out an animal-like scream. The explosion he heard in his dream was as real as the night he heard the shotgun blast. His roommate rolled out of his bed gasping for air and staring into the darkness where his Danny had just scared the shit out of him.
Danny was trying to catch his breath and slow his heart rate, and after a few seconds, things began to return to normal.
“Sorry,” said Danny. “The shit keeps creeping back. I have no control over these nightmares. I hear the blast, and then I wake up.”
Looking through the darkness, Mike reached for the light. As he flipped the switch, he could clearly see that Danny was dripping wet and his chest was heaving. “Dude, you’ve got to go see someone about these dreams. This is the fourth time you have scared the shit out of me, and I don’t scare easy. I did my time overseas. Once in a while I have my dreams just not every damn night and not with the intensity that you have. Don’t take this the wrong way, but in the morning I am out of here. I can’t take this, and you need help.”
All Danny could manage was, “Sorry.”
Mike thought this was all about Iraq and Afghanistan. No one in the class had heard about the attempted murder in Maidstone, Massachusetts. Danny had his share of close calls in the Marines with twenty-four months in various combat zones. No one knew it was a small town in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts that gave him nightmares. Being in a quaint country village and almost getting cut in half by a shotgun blast was not what he had expected. The “BOOM” he heard when he hit his head he thought, was from the impact on the pavement only to learn later it was a blast from a shotgun. Who could guess that slipping on black ice getting out of the cruiser would save his life? Lying there on the ground dazed had given the shooter the impression that he had hit his target and that the deed was done. The false sense of security and the relative peacefulness of the mountains hid secrets that no one knew about. The FBI had cautioned Danny not to talk about the situation back home while at the FBI National Academy. Yes, it was in the news, they were controlling what information got out. The FBI did not want any leaked information than they deemed necessary to be made public until they were ready. If word got out about Danny being the target of a mob hit, there would be a lot of questions. Danny was surrounded by several hundred high ranking police officers who were used to getting answers. Danny would be informally and relentlessly interrogated by his classmates. So for the time being, he was to maintain a low profile and not standout, still people were talking. The sound of the reoccurring nightmares had extended beyond his room. The two suitemates who shared the bathroom heard all the noise and the conversations with Mike. That opened the circle of people in the know and was a topic of conversation among the rest of the class. No one wanted a roommate who was having problems. They weren’t afraid of Danny. They just wanted to study and get a decent night sleep without the animal screams in the night. There were some serious squirrels running around in that young man’s head, and he needed to do something about it. The assignment to the FBI National Academy had gotten Danny out of town, just not away from the nightmares.
Danny’s nightmares were not going away; in fact, they were getting worse. The shocking dreams weren’t from is combat duties in Iraq or Afghanistan. Those six years didn’t bother him. The random memories were like a PowerPoint slide presentation that kept scrolling through his brain. It had only been one slide for the longest time; that changed. Danny would slip on black ice getting out of his cruiser and slam his head onto the pavement as a shotgun blast passed over him. That was the least of his terror. Slide one, Penny Worthington naked and twisted in the bed covers with the back of her head blown off. Slide two, an angel silhouette of Penny on the wall outlined in blood where her husband, Brad, had pinned her and fired the fatal shot. Slide three, Gary Carlson sitting on the ground using his cruiser for cover, bleeding from a head wound while praying not to die. Slide four, Danny sticking his Glock 17 in a hitman’s mouth ready to pull the trigger if the mutt didn’t talk. Slide five, a headless man sitting at a desk that would cost most people what they paid for their home. Danny would hear that final blast of a ten gauge shotgun; and after enough repeats of the slide show, he would roll out of bed ducking for cover. This time he had no one to scare except his yellow Labrador, Bear, and Bear didn’t like it.
Geri would be coming back from England and the Interpol assignment, things were different. That short time away had changed their lives and Danny was having some serious problems. Geri would be able to handle the nightmares. The worst part was the small town politics--politics that extended to the state police covering Western Massachusetts. Danny was doomed, and he knew it. He had to get away from the Berkshires and that meant getting away from Geri. Her job as a state police detective was just taking off. Everything was breaking her way, except Danny. He was the most respected and hated member of the Maidstone Police Force. He solved a horrible murder and put the quiet town in the national news—a place the town did not want to be. He took out a corrupt police official that everyone loved for one reason or another. He identified the biggest thief in town who was also the biggest tax payer and employer whose suicide crushed the town, and it was all Danny’s fault.
U.S. Attorney for Western Massachusetts Diana Sheriden kept Danny on the federal payroll, even though there was very little for him to do. He spent most of his days waiting for a phone call to testify in any of the ongoing court cases. Then it was a ride to the court house to wait. The Worthington family was trying to get their trucking business out of receivership from the feds. Since the fuel laundering business was exposed, the federal government took over the running of the company. Cynthia Worthington, the widow of Quenton Worthington, was trying to prove that no one else in the family or company knew that home heating oil was being diverted to diesel truck fuel. The tax evasion scam had worked like a charm until Danny started to nose around. Cynthia had agreed to every demand that the federal government had imposed on the trucking company. Agent Tom Deverse of the FBI had gone over the business records with the forensic accountants, and they all agreed the trucking business without the untaxed fuel oil scam was still a profitable operation. The money that came in from the laundered fuel oil was just extra cash and not needed to keep the company in the black. The scam was profitable in every way. Cynthia was begging the court to release the noncriminal part of the company for the good of the town. She agreed to pay all the tax money owed and was willing to submit to a heavy fine. This would benefit the town as much as it would the Worthington family. The IRS and the Massachusetts Tax Department signed off on the deal. With no real effort on their part, the state and federal tax departments were going to be getting sizeable checks if they agreed to return the trucking company to Cynthia. In the end, even after paying the back taxes and the imposed fine, Worthington Trucking would still be ahead of the game dollar wise. Having several family members on the state and federal level helped out immensely. Having low friends in high places had its benefits. Everything would be back to normal except for Danny. He was spending more time on his studies and getting his associates degree. He was concentrating on areas other than criminal justice. He was convinced that he wouldn’t be in law enforcement much longer. He was sure that he couldn’t stay in Maidstone. He doubted that another department would hire him. Chiefs of police are reluctant to hire someone with the baggage he was carrying. Getting a fellow chief of police and a well-respected detective lieutenant arrested and sent to prison would not sit well with them. Forcing a state police captain into an early retirement just added to the drama they didn’t need. Why hire someone with that kind of history when there are two hundred qualified candidates to pick from. It didn’t matter that the chief and the detective lieutenant were guilty. The fact that the captain was on audio tape threatening Danny for something he didn’t do made no difference. Danny Gilcrest was trouble. Why take the chance.
Geri was due at Westover Air Reserve Base in a few days……..these were very long days as Danny watched the time tick by, waiting to see his future fiancée. Finally this small town cop would catch a break.
Guest Speaker, The 143rd In Iraq.
I will be at the Newtown Senior Center sometime in the future to talk about, The 143rd In Iraq. Stop in and say hi..(The date to be determined depending on the quarantine. .
I added some pictures from Saturday, February 22nd when I was presented a Quilt of Valor for my service. A very great honor and a humbling experience.