Saturday, December 24, 1994

 

Prologue


Fear.

He could sense it. He could smell it. Acute, refined, a sixth sense above and beyond the other five. Not just a postscript. But a twitching at the base of his sinuses, almost pleasurable, light, feathery. Feeling it, breathing the fright deep into his lungs, a wonderful high.

It wasn't radiating from the child's neck. No, that was just a mixture of heat, a little sweat, and that persistent thump-thump-thump of the jugular. The fear was everywhere else. In the room. In the house. Up and down the snow-covered Currier and Ives boulevards. The Goddamn town was gripped. But especially in the father's eyes -- that look of utter helplessness, that plea to kill me instead.

"Don't worry," he wanted to say, as if patiently addressing the next customer in line, "your turn will come."

So small.

"He's only three," the mother wailed. "Please."

It was nice really. All that dread. A cozy, Sunday sermon sort of feeling. A drunken punch to his fourteen-year-old jaw. So long ago. God'll punish you one day, like he punished me. Yes, dad. I'm sorry, dad. I'll never do it again, dad. I miss her too, dad!

Familiar, yet energizing.

"El, maybe, um, this ain't such a good idea."

The V-man. There's a joke for you. A human punch line.

"I want them to know we're serious," he said, in a voice so steady, so void of emotion, that even he didn't recognize it.

He scratched at the day-old stubble on his chin, then turned and caught a glimpse of himself in a mirror hung over the dresser. Such a pretty picture. Mommy and daddy seated on the edge of their king-sized bed, three children huddled at their feet, the fourth thump-thump-thumping at the end of his prosthetic hand, his artificial hand, his left hand . . . a hand no more. A hand that -- it had been so long -- never was. And there, over by the window, overexposed by the constant red-blue-red-blue-red-blue flashing of a cruiser's light, the always courageous V-man keeping vigil, an Uzi pointed at the family, an eye peeled toward the street, sweating like a hog in heat.

More fear. And from his partner -- was he ever using the word sparingly, generously -- no less. The joke he was unwittingly part of.

He sucked in a long breath, and raised the 9mm. It had been a tough decision: to hold the gun in his good hand, the child in the plastic one, or visa-versa. The electronics were good, he could feel some pressure, heat and cold. But that magical click, the on/off switch to someone else's life just didn't hold the same thrill via the sensors-circuitry-nerve ending route, it just didn't seem the same when experienced though flesh-colored rubber fingers tipped by those always perfectly-manicured flesh-colored nails.

Flesh colored? He wondered now if this boy had ever used a flesh-colored crayon, to fill in faces and hands, and the arms and legs of people at play?

He brushed away a lock of the kid's hair with the tip of the gun. The mother, or maybe it was the oldest sister, gasped. He did his best to hold back the laugh rising, phoenix-like, in his throat. But no use. First came the smile, then the guffaw. Hearty. Such a good quip. And all eyes were on him, even V-man's.

Such fear.

Then came the tune. One he had heard every hour on the hour, for too many Goddamn hours to remember. A chiming grandfather clock. Tick-tock, ding-dong. An eight note tune, following by one chime for every hour. There'd be twelve this time. Plus an accent. An orchestral miscue: tuba flatulence, with a kettle drum exclamation.

He worked the tip of the gun into the child's mouth. The little boy stared up into his eyes, not crying, not any more. Not squirming. Prepared? Perhaps.

"Aren't you afraid?" he asked, pulling back the hammer of the pistol.

The child shook his head just slightly, as the echoes of the final chime rippled through the still waters of the huge house, and with his good hand he squeezed the trigger of the gun.

"You should be."


USA TODAY

Wednesday, March 13, 1996

GUILTY!

By Junella Wingi

USA TODAY

BOISE -- It took a jury of twelve only ninety-seven minutes to today convict Elliot Haring and Chuck "V-man" Vincenzo in the 1994 Christmas Eve slayings that rocked the nearby affluent community of Bedford Falls, Idaho.

The pair was each found guilty on over thirty separate counts, including capitol murder in the shooting death of guards Leonard Brown and James Spinrad, during the armored car robbery that began their fourteen hour rampage of violence.

Haring was also convicted of murder in the first degree for the brutal execution-style murders of Harold and Shelley Dunlap, and their four children, Debbie, age 11, Harold Jr, age 9, Claudia, age 5, and Paul, age 3.

Haring and Vincenzo had forced their way into the Dunlap's sprawling Bedford Falls, home once their getaway car became disabled due to a snow storm-related accident.

A patrolman, spotting the abandoned vehicle, gave chase, following Haring and Vincenzo to the Dunlap home.

Quickly surrounded, Haring attempted to trade the Dunlaps' lives for his freedom, but when both members of the FBI and the State Police Major Crimes Division refused to bargain, the carnage began. Beginning at midnight, Haring shot one family member an hour, pushing the bodies from the window of the home's second-floor master-bedroom suite.

Vincenzo was convicted of being an accessory to the six murders.

A third accomplice, identified by Vincenzo as Lauren Devereaux, is still at large. She was believed to be driving a second getaway vehicle, taking with her the estimated three and a half million dollars stolen during the robbery.

Sentencing for both men is scheduled for April 27. Prosecutors are expected to seek the death penalty.





USA TODAY

Monday, April 22, 1996

LETHAL INJECTION FOR HARING!

By Junella Wingi

USA TODAY

BOISE -- Convicted murderer Elliot Haring was today sentenced to death by lethal injection for the 1994 Christmas Eve slayings of eight.

His accomplice, Chuck "V-man" Vincenzo, received two consecutive life sentences, without any chance for parole.

Upon hearing his sentence, Haring turned and, using the middle finger of his prosthetic left hand, saluted the Shelley Dunlap's elderly parents, causing a disruption in the proceedings, as other family members and friends lunged at the smirking Haring.

Once order was restored, and the remaining sentences were handed down, both men were immediately transported to the maximum security Idaho State Correctional Facility in the central town of Jarring.

Norman Johnstone, warden of the Facility, promised that, "Haring will be put to death within a year. I'll stake my job on it."

Neither Haring nor Vincenzo are expecting to appeal.

USA TODAY

Thursday, November 7, 1996

"V-man" Dead!

By Junella Wingi

USA TODAY

JARRING, IDAHO -- Chuck "V-man" Vincenzo, serving consecutive life sentences for his part in the brutal murders of four adults and four children that rocked a Boise suburb on Christmas Eve 1994, was found dead in his jail cell last night of multiple stab wounds.

Norman Johnstone, warden of the Idaho State Correctional Facility where Vincenzo was serving time, stated last night that Vincenzo's partner in crime, Elliot Haring, who's currently awaiting death by lethal injection on the prison's death row, was not a suspect in the murder, but quickly added, "We're examining every possibly avenue."

A murder weapon has not been found, but an initial coroner's report suggested an ice-pick-like device had been used to stab Vincenzo "forty to fifty times."

A third accomplice in the crime spree, identified only as Lauren Devereaux, is still at large. Despite the concentrated efforts of both federal and local authorities, Devereaux's whereabouts, as well as that of the now estimated four-point-one million dollars stolen during the armored car heist, remain a mystery.






Friday, November 8, 1996

Chapter One


"Stuck a pin in my backbone."

The words were so out of tune -- okay, so she couldn't sing worth a lick -- and so loud that Paige Madeline Turner almost drowned out the stereo, which she had turned up way past loud.

"You're yelling," Steve McRae himself yelled from the bathroom. He was standing in front of the vanity, gazing into the medicine chest, trying to remember the list of items she asked him to fetch.

"What was that?" Paige hollered. She was on her knees, digging through a cedar chest at the foot of her bed, retrieving sweaters that had never even seen the light of a Miami day, sweaters that had been in this fancy-smelling foot-locker of sorts for over four years.

Steve began to laugh. This was pure Paige, volume and hyper-kinetic energy. Edginess, in it's most lovely form. He was amazed he had survived this long.

Making a quick turn, and walking into the bedroom, through it toward the living room, he lowered the volume on her stereo. It still astonished him. The Adcom power amps, the B & W reference speakers. In a room that was otherwise filled with second-hand furniture and no TV, this stereo system was an apartment full of new Ethan Allen furnishings, it was the down payment on a nice home, or a new Mazda Miata paid in full.

This was loud!

"That's better," Steve said guiltily, stretching out the words, heading back into the bedroom, finally able to think. Then he bravely inquired, "What, um, was that, exactly?"

"Exactly," she said, not at all happy about the parental-like control on the volume of her music. "The Archers of Loaf,"

"How come I've never heard them before?"

"You've heard them," Paige said, with a half-smile, and a half-baked caustic glance. "You've just never paid attention. But don't feel bad. It's a male thing. You can't help it. You're not equipped to pay attention."

"Uh-huh," he said, shooting her a caustic-clipped look of his own, as the guilt evaporated and he ventured back to the list of items he needed to bring from bathroom to bedroom. He glanced at his watch. Damn. They needed to hurry if they were going to make the flight.

Standing, Paige walked over to a full-length mirror, and held an old black sweater up against her body, then nodded, and tossed it into the American Tourister, which rested on the bed.

"If it was the Moody Blues," she said, "you'd have turned it up, or sang along."

"If it was the Moody Blues," he said, glancing at the three different flavors of dental floss -- mint, grape, and cinnamon -- trying to decide which she'd prefer, "I'd have danced a jig on top of your bed."

"And wouldn't that have been special?" she muttered, shaking her head slightly, thinking, I can't believe I'm dating a guy who likes the Moody Blues.

"What'd you say?"

"Nothing," she grumbled, pulling out another sweater, this one with large horizontal stripes. She glanced at it as if wondering when she purchased it? And, more importantly, why?

"Oh," Steve called from the bathroom, having chosen mint, "remember to pack a bathing suit."

Paige stopped dead in her tracks, and whispered the words, "Thank you," to the great God of frequent flyer miles above. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Her prayers had been answered.

"I knew this visiting friends in Montana thing was just your idea of joke," she said, pulling the black sweater, and a dark green one underneath it, from the suitcase, thinking, bad joke, adding, "Not funny," and tossing the sweaters aside. She'd fold and put them away later. Right now it was Caribbean, here I come!

Steve stepped from the bathroom, balancing in his arms: shampoo, conditioner, tooth paste, mouthwash, a toothbrush,

two hair brushes, a blow dryer, hair spray, mousse, that mint dental floss, some sort of facial scrub, shaving foam, and a teal-colored woman's razor.

He walked up to the edge of her bed and said, "Where do you want this stuff?"

She took a quick inventory of the drug store items cradled in his arms. "Aren't you forgetting something?" she asked.

He shot her one of those looks. A raised eyebrow and a smirk that said: you're pushing it . . . please, don't push it!

"The suntan lotion," she said, her own eyebrow raised. Both of them.

"You don't need suntan lotion in . . .," and though she normally loved the low timbre of his voice, that FM-jockish growl and vibrato, she certainly had grown to hate the sound of the three syllables that made up the name of their ludicrous vacation destination, ". . . Montana."

"But," Paige said, wishing she were six-years-old again, and that tantrums weren't viewed as inappropriate behavior for adults.

Montana was not where she wanted to spend a vacation. Not her first vacation in years. A vacation she shouldn't even be taking. Not now. Not in the middle of the biggest case of her young career.

But the powers that be insisted. Wesley Selden insisted. "Take a break," he had said. "We all need a break. And it's only a week. Rest, recharge, and get the hell outta here. You been working this case for over eighteen months."

Nineteen months to be exact, a year and seven months of waiting -- undercover was nothing more than a long wait, the eternal wait, a lifetime passing by.

Hurry up and wait!

And now, most recently, the waiting had been performed -- mastered, really -- in the Keys.

Key West, precisely. South, there was no place further south for the sick bastard to go. And every Friday, every Saturday, every Sunday, she'd frequent his haunts, or what they could only assume to be his hunting grounds. Anticipating, a break, a clue, or to be chosen as the next victim.

Anything to end the wait.

Paige was so tired of waiting. So tired, period. Cranky, and irritable. Snapping like a dry branch, like a frozen Charleston Chew. Snapping at Steve, of all people.

Maybe Selden was right. Maybe Paige needed the rest.

"Prince Charming isn't going anywhere," Selden had maintained. "He isn't just going to vanish into thin air. We aren't that lucky."

"But what about his next Sleeping Beauty?" Paige had asked, thinking, he's overdue, long overdue, or due any day. She could feel it. Almost as if the Prince were watching her. Wanting her. Needing to take her home. And wouldn't he be in for the surprise of his life? Wouldn't . . . he . . . just . . . die?

"You'll make sure there isn't one," Selden replied confidently. "When you get back."

"Rested and recharged?"

"Right."

"Right."

Paige nodded a little to herself, then took a deep breath, and switched gears. She wanted to be a good sport. This Montana thing meant a lot to Steve. Visiting Peter and Alison and their new lodge.

But . . . still . . .

Walking over and up close to Steve, she gently took each of her bathroom items from his arms, and placed them beside the suitcase on the bed.

Then, smiling mischievously, Paige whispered, "Think about it. Making love on the beach in the moonlight. The warm ocean waters splashing at our sweat drenched bodies."

She moved her mouth to within mere millimeters of his ear, so that he could feel the heat of her breath.

"I promise you," she continued, "you'll have a much better time in, oh, I don't know, Saint Barts."

Paige liked the heat, loved it actually, and despite working in it, living it in, having grown up in it, day in and night out, she'd still much prefer to rest and recharge, if indeed she must, where it was warm.

In the tropics.

She took a step back, and waited for his reply.

Steve was smiling, a good sign. And shaking his head, that sign could go either way. But it was the tone of his voice that told her making love on the beach in the moonlight would have to wait until the next vacation.

"You're always in the tropics," he said. "You work in the tropics. This'll be a nice change."

"A nice change is fresh lilies, instead of roses," Paige said. "A nice change is peppers on your pizza, instead of pepperoni. A nice change is . . ."

"I get the picture."

". . . the Archers of Loaf, instead of the Moody Blues."

Steve cleared his throat loudly, then shook his head. "You're a dangerous woman," he said.

She answered his smile with one of her own. One that signified she was giving in. She would be a good sport, even if it killed her.

"I was trained to be," Paige said, reaching out, giving his hand a little squeeze, then turning her attention back to packing -- those Goddamn sweaters -- and muttering, "And don't even think about making love in the snow."

"It never even crossed my mind."

"Umm," she said, knowing better. His appetite. Oh, who was she kidding? Her appetite. "Right."

Paige pulled open the bottom drawer of a cherry lingerie chest she had inherited from her grandmother, and from that drawer pulled out two bathing suits: a dark green and white striped bikini, and a solid black two-piece with a miracle bra top. Decision making time.

At five foot, eleven -- okay, she was six feet, she'd admit it, but be damned to hell before she'd disclose that precious information to the Department of Motor Vehicles -- and one hundred, twenty-six pounds, Paige had one of those runway model bodies. And though many, especially matronly types, seemed to be of the opinion that such physiques were unhealthy -- anorexic was the term she had heard on a few too many occasions, gawky back when she was a teen -- Paige felt that at the ripe age of twenty-nine, she knew her body a little better than that. She worked out -- aerobics, weights, cardiovascular -- at least sixty minutes a day, and ate three square and hearty meals, not to mention desert and snacks. She was just thin, period. That was her body, take it, or leave it, or just plain kiss off.

"Hmmm," she said, running a hand through her just-longer-than shoulder-length bob of red -- naturally red, beautifully red, magnificently red -- hair, and tossing it back, out of her eyes. The decision was made, and Paige folded the dark green and white striped bikini -- it made her legs seem even longer, her eyes even greener -- placed it in the American Tourister, along side a pair of black leggings, then set about cramming the bathroom items into the suitcase, and lowering the lid.

Then she suddenly remembered.

Returning to the lingerie chest, she opened the top drawer, reached under the collection of silks and lace, and retrieved one of two standard-issue Smith and Wesson model six-six-nine 9mm automatic pistols.

These were Paige's big guns, ones she rarely, if ever, used.

Instead she normally carried a Colt Mustang Pocketlite, a small 380 that weighed only twelve and a half ounces, and fit perfectly in most any purse, or in the fannypack she wore while jogging, or to the grocery store.

She popped the Smith & Wesson's clip, checked to see that it was loaded, then gently placed the pistol atop the black sweater.

Steve let out a silent breath as he stared at the gun. "Do you really need to bring that?"

She stared into his eyes for a moment. Paige liked this guy, a lot, had since that outrageous first date. Since those mistaken identities at Tobacco Road, when he pulled her to safety as she was drowning in her own boredom and insecurities. Dying from the wait. When he made her forget what she was, at least for a little while. But made her remember who she was.

And that they had survived, despite of and in spite of everything, was testament to the way they felt about one another.

Paige liked the way he looked, the way he looked at her, the way he laughed, the way he made her feel when after an endless day she just wouldn't shut up about Prince Charming already, the evidence, or lack thereof. Forensic, DNA, crime scene photographs. Just the thought of the Sleeping Beauty case made her shake with anger, revulsion. Made her . . . oh, God. Why must Wesley be right all of the time?

Focus on Steve, she thought, still gazing into his beautiful blue eyes. She sighed.

He was, in a way, her Prince Charming.

And she liked this Prince's body. Steve stood six-four in stocking feet, and was toned just about right -- a little lank, a few well-placed ripples. After six months, she wasn't bored with the thirty-six-year-old syndicated sports columnist for the Miami Herald. In fact, every day, she found herself wanting more, to know more, to have more. Wishing she could bottle his smell, his smile, and take them with her, along with the Pocketlite, everywhere she went.

Of course, a precious week off in some God-forsaken nowhere could quickly change all that.

Finally, Paige nodded understandingly, lifted the pistol from the suitcase, and placed it back into drawer. "I thought guys liked guns," she said.

"A misconception. We like football and beer," Steve said, thinking about his friend Peter D'Angelo -- Peter, the pacifist, the anti-war demonstrator -- and his utter hatred for guns, for weapons, for any means of destruction. "Guns we can live without."

"And you're speaking for all men?"

"I wish," Steve said. "That would make you're job a lot easier."

"That would eliminate my job," Paige said, then, "Wanna check the windows?" She was just about ready.

"Absolutely," he said, excitedly exiting the bedroom toward other points of her one-bedroom South Beach apartment.

It was small, and over-priced, but with its right-on-the-beach location, the view was a killer. Besides, as far as Miami neighborhoods went, this one was safe. And though Paige rarely feared for her own safety -- she could rumble with the best and biggest of them -- it was her old but pristine Saab 900 that she worried about. So far, so good.

"Make sure the bar is down on the sliding door," she called after him, waiting a beat.

The door in question opened onto a small balcony. And though three stories up, one could never be too safe. Music could never be too loud. Politicians could never be too liberal. And the weather could never be too warm. Words to live by.

As she heard the sounds of the bar sliding into place, Paige took one giant and silent step back toward the lingerie chest. She removed one of the Smith & Wessons, and placed it into the safe sweater-insulated confines of the American Tourister, then lowered the suitcase's cover and locked its locks.

Paige let out a little sigh of relief. She would never travel anywhere without a piece, at least not since graduating from Quantico. It was as much a part of her as her badge, as her soul. And she never left those at home either. She had fought too long, too hard for the right to carry one, for the honor of serving, protecting. For the honor of fitting in, in a place, a profession, where she was viewed by most as a aberration, at best.

By most, but not by Wesley Selden, who understood her strengths, taught her how to utilize her anger, how to focus -- the BIG Wesley word. Taught her how to fight longer, harder, using her head, channeling . . .

And never could that fight be considered in vain.

"Let's get moving," Steve called from the living room, derailing her train of psycho killer thought.

"Qu'est-ce que c'est?" she said, half-singing in her best off-key David Byrne, ignoring her subconscious call for some fa-fa-fa's.

Paige picked up her leather knapsack from the floor, and slung it over one shoulder. It was her carry-on bag, containing the essentials for any long trip: a Walkman, some tapes, a granola bar, the latest issue of Spin magazine, and a book, her favorite book, one she had long been meaning to reread, Anatole Laferriere's Healer.

She grabbed the suitcase from off the bed, then lastly she picked her purse, a Coach Taylor Zip in black -- a purse which was twelve and a half ounces heavier, a Colt Mustang Pocketlite heavier, than Steve would have probably liked -- up from the nighttable.

And then, joining her lover in the living room, Paige looked around her apartment, and made sure everything that needed to be turned off was just that.

She handed Steve the American Tourister, grabbed her keys from a red crystal ashtray, and opened her door.

"Tell me again what Peter and Alison are doing in Montana?" Paige asked, inserting a key into the deadbolt lock.

"I swear, you have selective memory," Steve said, walking past her into the hallway.

"I'm supposed to," Paige answered, matter-of-factly, closing the door, concentrating on the turning of the key, checking to see that it in fact locked. "Men don't pay attention, and women have selective memory. It's the way things are, Steve."

She shrugged and flashed him an impish smile.

"Get used to it."

SNOW BLIND 2004 Gorman Bechard - All Rights Reserved