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Dennis Larsen

With Cruel Intent

“There is no fire like passion, there is no shark like hatred, there is no snare like folly, there is no torrent like greed.”

--Siddhartha Gautama ~ 400 BC

PROLOGUE

The hammer snapped forward sending the firing pin into the primer cap of the 9mm cartridge. Smoke arose from the barrel as the metal-jacketed slug whined through the air towards the intended target. He rarely missed; hours near the little shed pumping rounds into soup cans had perfected his aim and honed his craft. Gunpowder now filled his nostrils propelling his memory back in time; his dad standing with him on the makeshift gun-range, the Beretta seemed much larger then. He could almost hear the patient, soothing whisper of his father's voice very close to his ear. The strong embrace as he wrapped the boy in his arms, steadying the youth's frame comforted the eager student, holding the handgun outstretched and shaking slightly.

'That's it son, breathe easy, when you're ready to fire, hold your breath and squeeze the trigger. Don't jerk it! Slow and easy, now go ahead, take the shot.'

Oh, how he desired to hear those words again. To feel his father's presence, to smell his aftershave or to be wrapped in his arms; he would give everything he had for just a brief moment in time.

The weight of the gun bouncing off his thigh brought his thoughts to the present and the work at hand. An anonymous source had requested his 'special talent' and was willing to pay mightily for it. In the back of his mind, he knew it was almost too good to be true, but who was he to question as his ego reminded him that he was certainly in a class by himself.

'Stir things up!' they'd said.

That was something he knew how to do and the gun would be his insurance.

INTRODUCTION

Thick humidity hung in the air, countless, tiny particles collectively suffocating Blanche as she stood on the corner of 300 Woodrow Wilson Drive. Sunshine streaked through the branches of the ancient oak that stood as a sentinel over the once prominent public library. Recent years had taken their toll on the regal structure that housed both the library and the regional museum. Weather, heat and public indifference had worn on the old girl and she was showing her age much like Baby Jane had in the classic Southern thriller. Gone were the days of government funding and the money pouring in from benefactors like Andrew Carnegie. Self interest and a soaring debt had taken care of almost all of the money needed to keep the library operational, however, a small donation here and there and some money still left over from a grant provided at the death of the towns “Bookmobile Lady” had kept the doors open, at least for now.

Blanche took a white, neatly folded and starched handkerchief from her small clutch and noted the dampness even prior to its use. Gently, she blotted her forehead and nose being careful not to smear her makeup and returned the hanky to her purse.

“Much hotter here than I expected,” she muttered to herself, realizing that she was indeed in a public place and talking to oneself was perhaps not uncommon in the South, but still could label one as ‘odd’.

Doing her best to push the heat, humidity and lack of confidence aside she smoothed her silk-lined pencil skirt over her flat abdomen and ran her hands quickly over her behind for good measure.

“Okay, here goes nothing,” she mused, as she took the first few steps to a new life and the unknown that awaited her in Valdosta, Georgia; fifty six thousand strong in the heart and soul of the 'never say die' confederacy.

Ms. Blanche D. Delaney was born in a rather quaint, unassuming town in southern Utah. Grew up as most kids did in the late 70’s, her days spent in class and evenings playing ‘kick the can’ until dark then ‘no bears are out tonight’ until parents would call them in for the night. It was a simpler time. Two recent wars behind them, people were getting back to work, the economy was thriving and families didn’t perceive a rapist or serial killer behind every closed door. Children were able to roam the streets, playing at will and occasionally getting into mischief. On one memorable outing, Blanche and her ever-eager friend Holly had snuck into the local theater to catch the R- rated, taboo flick, The Fearless Vampire Killers. When her parents learned of the incident, one would have thought the world was coming to an end, ranting about the lack of morals and the decay of modern society. The reaction was a little overblown for Blanche who at 12 didn’t care much about rock and roll, drugs, the hippie culture and certainly not boys.

She was, however, very interested in the forbidden love of a crazed fiend or the swashbuckling antics of every Harlequin romance villain she had read about from the time she could put two words together. Hours had passed in a fantasy land filled with beautiful women and savage men traversing uncharted landscapes in search of treasure but usually only finding love and lust. Her affair with literature and in particular romance novels had led her to college in Arizona where she obtained her degree in library studies and met Anthony, or Tony as he liked to be called, in her last year. Looking back on their relationship Blanche could not figure out what it was about him, beyond his strong jaw and blonde wavy hair that she found appealing. So it came as little or no surprise that after seven years of living together he greeted her at the door of their apartment, suitcase in one hand and their dog, Cuddles, in the other and announced, “I can’t hide my need to be me any longer, I’ve found someone who understands me and my urges and I’ll be moving in with him. Please put my things aside and I’ll be by to get them in a day or two.”

Blanche had to catch herself to prevent tumbling down the stairs of the complex, “Did you say, HIM?” her mouth hanging open, arms lifeless at her sides.

Tony had acted very matter of fact about the whole thing, suggesting that she was standing in his way of a brighter future. What did that mean anyway, and no wonder she’d never felt any connection or burning intimacy with him. She craved and longed for a ‘Jessie’ to ride into town, pull her into his arms and ride off into the sunset, but no, here she was, two jobs later, the economy tanking and no mystery man, no ‘Count Dracula’ and thankfully no Tony Two-steps.

At 33, Valdosta had come as a bit of a shock, after all she’d put her resumes out to over 100 jurisdictions including Saginaw, Michigan, voted ten years running one of the worst and most dangerous places to live in the USA, however, even Saginaw needed a librarian and anything was better than wasting away in Podunksville, AZ collecting unemployment. The offer was enticing especially considering that they were prepared to hire her without an interview thus sparing her the cost of a plane ticket and the possible let down that would follow if she didn’t get the job. The Internet had been encouraging, listing warm temperatures, friendly small-town atmosphere, lower cost of living and lots of parks and trails that would lend themselves to Blanche’s need to keep her body toned.

Her years in Arizona and Utah had harbored within her a yearning to feel the warm rays of the sun caressing her limbs as she jogged the many river washes and ravines that crisscrossed the southwest desert. In Blanche’s mind she was an attractive woman, not really anything special. She had to admit that she was in good physical shape and had been amply blessed in the bosom department, although she never saw herself as busty. Her brothers had never given her any indication that she was shapely and continued to call her flat-chested even when the boys at school noted her sweaters were taking on a life of their own. She ate well, salads and nasty looking green

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