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The International Writers Magazine: Two Writers on their new novel
- now with an extract added

On Writing 'A Vow of Silence'
John Alexander/Jeremy Michaels
Our novel, A Vow of Silence is a novel fitting for our times and for our world.  A world of “red states” and “blue states;” the “east” and the “west;”  liberalism and fundamentalism; peace and jihad; life and death; mortality and immortality. 


Structurally, the novel parallels- both outwardly and inwardly- so many of our lives- if not all of our lives, worldwide- as a story within a story.  There is the person we portray ourselves to be while at the same time there is the person that we keep to ourselves, keep hidden, a person- for whatever reasons- only we know.

Throughout our lives we live that way; we walk around that way; we conduct our business and our personal relationships that way- as a story within a story.  The sinner, the saint; the good person and the bad person- the perpetrator and the victim are stories within stories, both simple and profound.

In each of the two entwined stories in our novel, there is the tale of a life- two lives brought together, intersected, if you will- by something more than sheer chance, by something more that being the products of birth, contemporaneity or even need.  The whole of A Vow of Silence is a fractious binding of two people who possibly- given a reversal of circumstances- could have been each other, and in some way just might be mirror images of each other.  The hunter becomes the hunted, the prey becomes the predator- ultimately, one and the same.

Of course, in a less general and over-arching way, we also wrote A Vow of Silence for a number of other reasons.  First and foremost, it was written out of empathy for the victims; direct victims and indirect victims.  The child who was abused; the parent whose trust was shattered; the parishioner who was deceived; the parish that, in a myriad of ways, was cheated; our communities and our societies which were undermined; our faith which was shaken.

Furthermore, we wrote the novel so as to portray the perspective of a particular fictional life story- and a particular fictional person- and their handling of the matter.

Thirdly, we wrote the novel so as to “fix” the broad range of the clerical abuse phenomenon into a lasting and permanent artefact that cannot be so easily forgotten or swept under the proverbial rug once a sufficient amount of time has passed.

Fourthly, we wrote it to demonstrate that there are “levels” of the sacred as much as there are “levels” and “kinds” of persons who are “called” to the ministry- not of the Bible; not of the New Testament; not of any other “sacred book” or religious belief- but to the ministry of good versus evil.

Finally, we wrote A Vow of Silence so as- as much as possible- to make it a story that is “virtual” in place.  What this means is that we attempted to create a story that the reader can actually- physically, with whatever device that accesses the Internet in hand- go to a great number of the locations where the story takes place.
Of course, there are limitations; one can, with a modicum of detective work, pretty much figure out which house the writer, Steve, lives in once the reader gets to the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago.  However, once found, the reader cannot enter the house.  By writing our story in such a way, our hope was to begin to create a sort of “organic” relationship with the adventuresome reader.

In conclusion, A Vow of Silence is a novel that vicariously- physically and psychologically- takes the reader on an in-depth journey into the hearts and souls of the parties- the participants- of what has now become a world-wide phenomenon.
Download A Vow of Silence here

Sample part of Chapter Eleven here:

by John Alexander and Jeremy Michaels
(Copyright  ã  2008 John Alexander and Jeremy Michaels)

(excerpt from)

            It was more like the sound of a fire truck than an alarm clock that woke him at noon.  He turned off the alarm and headed off to shower before his meeting with Dan.  “I’ve got about fifty minutes to be ready and get there- a piece of cake,” Steve told himself.  He was dried off and dressed, out the door and down to Mick’s, arriving with about seven minutes to spare.  Once inside, Steve was directed by Mick to join Dan in one of the booths in the back. 
            “Dan!” Steve called as he walked into the backroom.
            “Steve!  I wasn’t sure you were going to come.”
            “Why not?”
            “Well,” Dan began, “you know- you called- well, actually, someone called- I figured that it was you- but you didn’t leave a message, so I started wondering.”
            Steve nodded and knew that he had not called, but was fairly certain of who did.  “It was nothing,” Steve said dismissively and continued walking toward the booth where Dan was seated.  As he approached, he saw that Dan had brought a fair amount of material that he had in a stack in the middle of the table.
            “Wow!” Steve exclaimed.  “It looks like you’ve been working overtime.”
            “That?” Dan asked.  “That’s nothing.  Sort of like ‘Serial Killers for Dummies.’”
            “Thanks,” Steve snickered.
            “Hey,” Dan entreated.  “Come on, sit down and we’ll go over some of it.”
            Steve slid into the booth across from Dan.  No sooner did he seat himself and start to become comfortable, than did Mick appear.  “You guys want a beer?”
            Dan and Steve looked at each other across the table.  “You go ahead,” Dan said to Steve.  “I’ve still got to get back downtown.”
            Steve thought for a moment.  “Sure,” he finally said.  “Why not?”
            Mick nodded.  “And you, Dan?” he asked.
            “I’ll have just a coffee- black.”
            “Okay,” Mick said as he walked away.  “Be back shortly.”
            “So,” Steve began.  “What do you have?”
            Dan nodded.  “All right,” he said, “I suppose that we should start with the basics and then move on to a couple of distinctions.”  Dan shuffled through the stack of papers and books that he had brought until he found two-stapled pages.  “Here it is!” he said, pulling it out from near the top of the stack.  “I thought for a moment that I might of forgotten it.  Okay, what I have here is not only a basic working definition of what constitutes a serial killer, but you’ll see here, also, the distinctions between serial killing on the one hand, and  ‘mass murder’ and ‘spree killing’ on the other.”  Dan handed the sheets to Steve.  “I worked these up,” Dan added,  “both from my years of experience in the department and from some of the authorities who have written on these kinds of murders.”  He fell silent, giving Steve time to look over the sheets.

“So,” Dan continued, “you see- and you know that you’ve got to keep in mind that just like the profiles, the definitions are approximations- that serial killing is a series of murders committed over weeks, months or years in which there is a cooling off period between the killings.  Whereas, ‘mass murder’ is a number of killings in a brief- or sometimes, like with the Nazis a longer- period in one place, while a ‘spree killing’ occurs over a few days or, say, well, a week.  You got that?”
Steve glanced at the sheets and then nodded.  “It seems pretty straightforward.”
“It does,” Dan agreed.  “Probably the best way to remember it is with examples; ‘mass murder’ is like the Holocaust, ‘spree killing’ is like Richard Speck, and ‘serial killing’ is like Gacy.  Okay?”
“Got it,” Steve said and set the stapled information off to his left side.
“Good,” Dan said.  “Now, I want to touch on some general stats and characteristics. 
Mick entered the backroom carrying a tray with their respective drinks.  He placed the beer in front of Steve and the coffee down on a coaster next to Dan’s napkin.              “Anything else, right now, guys?” Mick asked.
“We’re fine, Mick- thanks,” Steve said.
Dan and Steve took sips of their drinks and returned them to their place on the table.
“Okay,” Steve began.  “You said that you had some stats and characteristics?”
“I do,” Dan confirmed.  “There’s really no, so to speak, place to begin, so it’s going to seem like what I going to give you is all over the place.  All right,” Dan sighed, shaking his upper torso as if he were about to step up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with the game tied.  “Sixty-six percent of all murderers are in custody within twenty-four hours.”
“Two-thirds?” Steve asked incredulously, began to laugh and then caught himself. 
“What’s so funny?” Dan asked.
“I was just wondering whether it was great police work or just stupid killers?”
“Well, maybe neither, maybe both,” Dan said analytically.  “Because,” Dan nodded and then took a sip of his coffee before continuing, “most murderers are friends, relatives, associates- or somehow know the person they end up killing.”
Steve thought for a moment about his relationship with the Caller.  “I guess that could be reassuring,” he said.  “But what happens if the investigation goes past twenty-four hours?”
“Well,” Dan replied with a touch of resignation in his voice, “if the murder is not solved within forty-eight hours, the chance of solving it drops markedly.”
Steve picked up his beer, sat back, sipped and thought.  “That means,” Steve finally began, “that since it seems that serial killers probably do not know their victims, the odds of them getting caught- at least from what you say- seem to drop like a rock.”
“But,” Dan added quickly, “that just the half of it.  The other half is that because some serial killers are on the move, well, there are issues and debates - and real questions - being raised about the validity and reliability of the current data and projections on the number of serial killers out there.”
“What do you mean?” Steve asked.
Dan took a long moment to sip his coffee and an equally long moment to think before he answered.  “Look at it this way, okay?  Yes, you had that guy in Baton Rouge killing women.  Right?  And,” Dan continued, “you had those two snipers driving around metro D.C. shooting people, and you had Berkowitz in New York and Gacy here- what I’m saying is that the serial killers in these examples all have staked out a territory.  Right?”
“Sure- okay- they did, they have,” Steve agreed.
Dan nodded.  “That’s all fine and dandy.  But, think about this, you start driving on Interstate eighty or ninety and pick up what looks like hitchhikers or runaways”-
A wave of realization swept over Steve and it led him to interrupt and say, “Or prostitutes or bums or homeless men”-
Dan interrupted Steve in kind.  “Exactly!  The killer moves from jurisdiction to jurisdiction killing the unwanted or the missing or the dregs of society.  And, what’s important here is - who is going to know?”

Steve sat there across from his friend and shook his head in amazement before finally asking, “How much of this goes on?”
“Well,” Dan began his answer, “it’s what’s being called one or the other- or both- of two things.  Some people refer to this unknown area as the ‘dark figures’ while others call it ‘linkage blindness.’  The idea behind the use of the term ‘dark figures’ is that we may be seriously- if not significantly- underestimating how many serial killers are out there, wandering around.”
“And the ‘we’ is?” Steve asked.
“Law enforcement agencies- from the FBI straight on down.”
Obviously, they think that there are more of them, don’t they?”
“Plenty more,” Dan acceded.
“And this- what did you call it- linkage, what?” Steve continued.
“’Linkage blindness’” Dan informed him.
“Right, right.  ‘Linkage blindness.’  I hate to think what I think that means.”
‘Linkage blindness,’ is exactly that- an inability by law enforcement to tie a series of unrelated crimes, together, across jurisdictions.”
Steve shook his head.  “That’s actually scary,” he said.
“It is,” Dan confirmed and nodded.  “’Dark figures’ and ‘linkage blindness.’”
Steve picked up his glass of beer, sat back again and fell silent while sipping and thinking before he finally sat forward.  “It seems like they’re almost impossible to catch.”
“Not always impossible, but often very tough,” Dan added as a clarification.
“But what about,” Steve began in a different way, “this business about them- the serial killers- taunting the cops with notes, clues and stuff like that?  Like those two guys in Washington, D.C.?  Doesn’t the fact that the clues, the messages are left, doesn’t that make it easier- at least you would think that it would make it easier- for the police to catch them?”
“Good point,” Dan said and took a sip of his coffee.  “I’ve included in this material,” Dan began, while searching the stack and then, finally, having found what he was looking for, pulled it out and handed it across the table to Steve.  “I’ve included a photocopy of an article- written by Guillen, from the Journal of Criminal Justice.”

Steve looked at the copy that Dan gave him.  “’Serial Killer Communiqués:  Helpful or Hurtful?’” Steve read and then turned the pages, briefly glancing at a few of the headings before closing it up and setting it aside with the other materials.  “But,” Steve offered, “it seems, though, that anything is a clue- anything and everything is just one step closer.”
“It could seem that way.”
“You mean it isn’t?” Steve pursued.  “Look at those sniper guys in Washington.  Their communiqués- clues, messages- ultimately led to them being found and arrested!”
Dan shrugged.  “True, but- I don’t know,” he offered.  “My theory is that they were so desperate for the attention and the- ‘quote,’- ‘respect’ that they thought that they weren’t getting, that they basically screwed themselves.”
“Atypical,” Steve assessed.
“Very good,” Dan said in an encouraging tone.  “Yes, atypical- and as you can see as I’ve been repeatedly pointing out- it flies in the face of the stereotype once you settle yourself in and cozy up with the stereotype.”
“I think that I’ve learned that,” Steve laughed.
“That’s good,” Dan continued.  “Because I’ve also included,” Dan pulled a book from the middle of the stack, “some light reading for you.”  He handed the book to Steve.
Steve turned the book over flat, cover up and read the title, “Using Murder:  The Social Construction of Serial Homicide
“I see, the kind of thing you want to curl up with.”
“Exactly!” Dan chimed.  “And remember to bring along cookies and warm milk.”
“Pretty much the usual fare,” Dan shrugged.  “It talks about a lot of things.  Some of the things we talked about the other day.  I hope that it helps you out.  I don’t know,” Dan began, again, “whether you’re writing about men or women- or maybe even both- but there is a difference between them- I mean, in their style of killing!  That’s what I mean.”
“Tell me,” Steve asked.
“Well, male serial killers tend to be more violent than the women serial killers.  The women are, generally, non- aggressive, they tend to use poison.”
“Great,” Steve said.  “That’s a hell of a way to die.”
Dan laughed.  “Yeah, and eighty percent of female serial killers have used poison in some way or another - a lot of times in food.  And, women generally kill people they know and one of their prime motives is for profit!  They kill for the insurance and the pensions.  They’re called ‘Black Widows.’”
“I’m glad that I’m divorced!” Steve exclaimed.
Dan laughed.  “Think you’re safe, Steve?  Not so fast!  There are two other motives that motivate women serial killers- they also kill for control and revenge.”
Steve slunk back in his seat, beer glass in his hand.  “Just dandy.  That’s all I need, a serial killer ex-wife.”
“You know what they say - till death do us part,” Dan said and looked at his watch.
“I’m going to have to go soon, but there are still a couple of things I want to go over, and I did tell you that I would bring some photographs.  You realize - and I’m sure that you do,” Dan said after a deep breath, “that for a lot of these serial killers it’s not just the act of killing- the taking of a life- that brings what they’re doing to an end?”
“I know,” Steve said.  “Some of them are really sick.”
“They are,” Dan agreed.  “There are some of them, for example, who keep- shall we say- keep trophies from their kills.”
“Wasn’t Dahmer even worse?” Steve asked.
Dan nodded.  “He was into cannibalism and necrophilia.”

Steve took a long sip of his beer.  “You know, you can hear about people like Dahmer a million times- and you can hear about the cannibalism and necrophilia- but, somehow- for some strange reason- it never sets into your mind that he actually did this kind of stuff.  I mean, yeah, sure, you believe what’s being reported, but to think about one human being doing that to another human being?  I don’t know.”
“I know what you’re saying, Steve.  I guess you could imagine it- even picture it- from a distance, but to accept that someone would kill and eat another human being is mind-boggling.  The only thing I can say is that you’re not alone in your bewilderment.”
“You said you had photographs?” Steve asked.  “Dahmer and Gacy shots?”
“No,” Dan said.  “Something better.”
“Better?” Steve echoed, his mind racing.  “Who?” Steve finally asked.
Dan smiled.  “Did you ever hear of “The Lipstick Killer?”
“Where from?” Steve asked.
“Right here in Chicago.”
“You’re bullshitting me?  Right?”
“Not at all,” Dan said.  “You’re going to find this very interesting because it’s part what you’re doing, part serial killer lore and part local history.”
“When was he around?” Steve asked.
“From June 1945 to January 1946- that’s when he was convicted.”
“In Chicago- in the city?  Not someplace like Joliet or Aurora or Rockford?”
“Not only in the city, but on the north side,” Dan said.
“How many did he kill?” Steve asked.
“Three people- two women and a child.”
Steve leaned back and scratched his face.  “Well, that doesn’t seem like a lot now, but, I guess, back then, it was probably a lot.”
“It was.  People were hysterical.”
“So, who was he?” Steve asked. 
“His name is William Heirens,” Dan said as he searched through his stack.
Is?  The guy is still alive?  Since 1946?”
Dan nodded.  “Inmate C-06103.”
“How old was he when he was convicted?” Steve asked.
Steve took another good long sip of his beer and then asked, “’The Lipstick Killer‘, how did he get the name?”
“Some Chicago reporter tagged him with it- and it stuck,” Dan said.
“But why the name?” Steve asked.
That’s what I was looking for,” Dan said as he opened a manila file folder, took out a photograph and handed it to Steve.  “What you have there,” Dan informed his friend, “is an actual picture of the reason he got the name.  He wrote a message in lipstick.”
Steve examined the photograph, closely, reading what was on the wall in the photograph: “For heaven’s sake, catch me before I kill more- I cannot control myself.”
“Where is this place?” Steve asked.
“It was on one of the victim’s- a Frances Brown’s- wall.”
 “Incredible,” Steve managed.  “How did he kill her?”
“Shot dead, a bullet hole in her skull.  Though, when she was found, she also had a butcher knife in her neck.  I have pictures,” Dan added quickly and brought a number of additional photographs out of the file folder.  He handed the first one to Steve.
“But let’s start at the beginning.  This is a picture of the first one- stabbed to death in ‘45,” Dan said.  “Her name was Josephine Ross.  Married a bunch of times- identified, in the end, as a housewife.  She lived on Kenwood Avenue, in the Edgewood District.  They found her on the bed with her throat gashed, slashed- whatever- by multiple stab wounds.”
Steve looked closely at the photograph.  “It’s hard to tell, but how old was she?”
“Forty-three,” Dan said.
 “Anything else?” Steve asked.
Dan nodded.  “Yeah, her head was wrapped in a dress.”
“Okay,” Steve said sitting forward.  “What about the others?”
Dan sighed.  “All right.  The second one that they say that he murdered”-
“Why do you say, ‘they say?’” Steve interrupted
“Because, first of all, Heirens was not stupid- maybe a petty thief- but definitely not stupid.  Second, yes, he did confess, but not until after being given truth serum and a spinal tap.  It ended up that he coped a plea bargain to spare himself the death sentence.  Third- and I’m jumping the gun, here, but- some FBI analyst said that neither the lipstick scrawl that I showed you in the picture or the ransom note”-
“Ransom note?” Steve interrupted.
Dan nodded, again.  “I told you I was jumping the gun- but, I’ll get to that shortly.”  Dan paused for a moment in order to take a sip of his, now, cold coffee. “Anyway,” Dan continued.  “Neither the lipstick scrawl nor the ransom note- according to this FBI handwriting specialist- were Heirens.”
“So what did they convict him on?” Steve asked.
“The CPD said that they lifted a fingerprint.”
“And the confession,” Steve added quickly.
“But he says it was under duress,” Dan said and paused for a moment, before he continued.  “Ever have a spinal tap?”
“No,” Steve said.  “But they found his fingerprint.  What about that?”
“Heirens says it was planted.”
“Anyway,” Steve continued.  “Go on- tell me about the second one.”

Dan nodded and took another photograph out of the file folder.  “This here is Frances Brown.  She lived on Pine Grove, again, on the north side.”
“The butcher knife and bullet hole victim- the one with the lipstick on her wall,” Steve said.
“That’s right,” Dan said.  “I’ve got a picture of her body, too.”  Dan took another photograph out of the folder and handed it to Steve who examined the photograph of what looked like a woman, stretched over a bathtub with her head covered or wrapped- the photo was old and the angle was bad- in what looked like pajamas.  “Gruesome,” Steve managed.  “Was she another housewife?”
“No,” Dan shook his head.  “She was a former Navy WAVE.”
Again, Steve looked at the photograph.  “And Heirens confessed to this one, too?”
Dan laughed.  “Yeah, him and another guy.”
Steve sat up straight in his seat.  “What?”
“You heard me,” Dan said.  “It seems that this local butcher- a guy by the name of George Carraboni- also confessed to the crime.  And, as I understand it, Carraboni’s story changed so often that- as an end result- he was never held or charged.”
Steve shook his head.  “But the guy confessed?”
“That’s just incredible,” Steve said.
“Think so?” Dan snickered.  “What if I told you that- at the time- Carraboni was under investigation, in Cleveland, for thirteen other murders?”
Are you serious?” Steve asked in a shocked tone.  “And they let this guy walk?”
“They did.”
“Linkage blindness?” Steve asked in an assessing tone.
“You’re learning fast,” Dan remarked.
Steve placed the pictures of Frances Brown on his stack, and turned back to Dan. “You said there was a third murder- and it had a ransom note?” Steve asked.  “It was a kid?”
“A kid- a six year old by the name of Suzanne Degnan.  They lived up around Thorndale and Kenmore,” Dan said and proceeded to take out another picture from his manila folder.  He handed it to Steve.
“Cute kid,” Steve remarked.  “How did they say he killed her?”
Dan paused for a moment to check his manila folder.  “Sorry, I just wanted to make sure that I remembered to bring the other photos.”  He shifted, back and forth, before he began.  “She was strangled and then dismembered- arms, legs- and the head.”
“Geez!  Where did he kill her?”
Dan shook his head.  “Nobody knows.  She was kidnapped from her house.  That’s where they found the ransom note.”  Dan took two photographs from the manila file folder.  “Here is one side of the note,” Dan said and handed Steve the photograph.  “And here is the other side.”
Steve looked at the first photograph and read what it said.  “Get $20,000 ready & waite for word.  Do not notify FBI or police.  Bills in $5’s and $10’s.”  The he slid the first photograph under the second and read what was on the second photograph.  “Burn this for her safty.”
Slowly, back and forth, Steve looked from one photograph to the other and then back, again.  “Looks like there’s a couple of misspellings in this note.” Steve finally said.  “What was this Heirens kid doing when he was suppose to have committed these murders?  Was he a dropout- a delinquent or something?”
“Like I said, he had a tendency toward petty theft,” Dan explained.  “But, at the time, he was a student,” Dan said.
“High school?”
“Where?” Steve asked.
Steve looked up from the photographs.  “Chicago- as in University of?  What was he majoring in?”
“Electrical engineering,” Dan said.
Steve rubbed his face and, again, examined the photographs.  “Well, normally I wouldn’t think that somebody from U of C would make these kinds of spelling errors, but, considering the circumstances and the major- it’s possible.”  Once again, Steve looked at the photographs before setting them aside.  “Okay,” Steve continued.  “Let me ask you this, how did they find the body parts?” Steve asked.
“There was this anonymous telephone call,” Dan replied.
“Saying what?  Where to find the parts?”
“One of them- the head,” Dan said.  “Do you want to see more photographs?”
“Sure,” Steve said without hesitation.
 Dan took another photograph from out of the file folder.  “This is the head,” he said and handed the photograph to Steve.  The eyes were open, almost as if the were looking- staring- into the camera lens.  “Damn,” Steve said out of the corner of his mouth.
“You want to be part of this?” Dan asked, after allowing Steve sufficient time to absorb the impact of the photograph.
“This is nasty,” Steve said.  “But the book’s already in progress, I’ve talked to one of my old editors about it- he wants to see what I have- and, besides- a book is a book.”
Dan shrugged.  “Hey, I’m only a cop.  You’re the writer.  I’ve seen my share of dead people.  But, if you can handle it, well, I guess it’s your call.”
“Where did they find the head?”
“In a sewer,” Dan said.  “Over on Winthrop, somewhere.”
“And the other parts- the torso?”
“In a number of other sewers,” Dan replied.
Steve looked back and forth at the photographs, from the picture of the smiling Suzanne Degnan to the picture of the head, the eyes, looking shocked and bewildered.
“Any other suspects in this case?” Steve asked.  “You know, like Carraboni?”
“Sure,” Dan said.  “This case is even better than the others in the sense of really being complicated,” Dan clarified.
“Well,” Dan began with the deepest sigh of the afternoon.  “To begin, there were witnesses who said that they saw a woman carrying a ‘child-sized’ bundle near the house and putting it into a car that had a balding man as a driver.  Second, the police noted that the kid’s dismemberment was a professional one”-
Steve laughed.  “A professional dismemberment?”
“Sure,” Dan said.  “They suspected a medically trained person or maybe a butcher”-
“Carraboni!” Steve interrupted.
“Dan nodded.  “Good thought- but it gets better.  There was this guy,” Dan continued.  “By the name of Richard Thomas who- believe it or not, and I know that, considering this case, that is an understatement- confessed to the Degnan crime.”
“Another confession?” Steve asked, incredulously.
“Yep,” Dan said.  “Thomas was in a Phoenix jail cell andmade the confession before Heirens was arrested!”
“So, why wasn’t it admissible- or whatever they call it?”
“I don’t know.  But, it seems that Thomas had previously lived in Chicago and had worked in a car agency near the Degnan home.”
“Coincidence?” Steve asked.
“Maybe,” Dan agreed.  “But they did find the kid’s arms, weeks later, in a sewer across from the car agency.”
“Unbelievable,” Steve finally managed to say after he deliberated as to what was the most appropriate sound to utter.  “Go on,” he then managed to add.
“Further,” Dan continued.  “The three cases had two writing samples for investigators.  The lipstick message and the ransom note.  So, at first, it seems that upon handwriting analysis that the lipstick message and the ransom notes were written by different people.  Second, the phrase in the lipstick message, ‘For heaven’s sake…,’ well, some number of investigators felt that only a woman would use that phrase.  Third, in the Degnan murders, witnesses said that they saw a woman near or at the scene.”
“Very interesting,” Steve said and sat back.
Dan looked over the table at his friend and smiled.  “There’s one more thing, and then I have to go,” Dan said looking at his watch.  “The handwriting experts identified Thomas as the author of the ransom note.”
Steve looked down into his glass and swished the dregs around the bottom.  “I don’t understand how it is that Heirens ended up in prison.”
Dan nodded.  “Yeah, I know- there were obvious investigative irregularities, but don’t forget, Heirens didn’t help himself out either.  It wasn’t like he was a saint.  He had that profile that put him up on the cops’ radar.  And, with that, I’ve got to go.”
“This is just incredible,” Steve managed.
Dan picked up the stack of remaining materials and handed them to Steve.  “There’s more information in here, I just thought that we should go over some of it.”
“Thanks, Dan,” Steve said and began stacking the materials.
 Dan began sliding to the edge of the booth.  “You staying or going?” he asked.
“I’m going to stay, but I’ll walk you to the door,” Steve said and exited the booth.
He picked up the stack of material that Dan had brought for him and put it under his arm.
“Not taking any chances?” Dan asked.
Are you kidding?” Steve laughed.  Together, they walked out of the backroom and into the barroom.
“Mick,” Dan said as they approached the bar.  “Thanks for everything, good buddy.”
Mick turned at the call of his name.  “You guys leaving?”
“I’ve got to get back,” Dan said.
“I’m going to stay,” Steve added.
“You want another beer?” Mick asked.
Steve thought for a moment.  “How about a pitcher?”
“Same booth?” Mick asked as he reached for a pitcher.
“Same one,” Steve replied.
Dan and Steve turned and continued toward the front door.
“It’ll be there when you get back,” Mick said as he began drawing the beer.  “Catch you later, Dan.”
“You, too, Mick,” Dan called back as they exited out onto Western Avenue.

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