Publish Novellas 6 July 2022
EPISODE 3 – NEIGHBORHOOD
Despite efforts to conceal evidence, police narrow in on Dan’s neighborhood for more clues.
Did you skip prior episode?
At home, Dan begins wondering about who John Doe is and where he came from. There are several people with the name John Doe in the White Pages. This may be due to court cases involving unnamed current or prior residents.
Using a map app, Dan looks around the area of the accident for homes or ranches. There are none nearby. So the reason the person was on the road is still baffling. Perhaps it as a homeless vagrant who found a wallet, he reasons.
Dan warms a meal in the microwave. Then he falls asleep watching the news. The next morning he gets up and out early to make up for missed appointments.
Fearing culpability, officers have no success questioning restaurant and bar employees in nearby Owenstown about customers who may have left a little tipsy. Still awaiting the autopsy report, Detective Megan Anthony is piecing clues together to come up with a theory.
The fingerprints match a man named Nicholas Ryan residing in Palo Hills Estates. The coroner phones to say that wounds on the victim’s ankles and wrists are consistent with the rope restraints found at the scene. Detective Anthony goes to the home address, while officers question neighbors about any suspicious activity.
Megan Anthony finds Mrs. Nicholas Ryan at the address on record. “Mrs. Ryan, do you know the whereabouts of your husband?”
“I believe he’s in Seattle on a business trip,” she answers.
“Can you please tell me when he left on that trip, Mrs. Ryan?”
“About five days ago, I guess. Why are you here?”
Somberly, Detective Anthony continues, “I’m afraid we have some bad news for you. We have recovered your husband’s body—”
“No-ooo!” she moans as Megan catches her in her arms.
“Perhaps, with your permission, can we step inside for a moment?”
The door swings wider open as Mrs. Ryan gestures to enter. “Come here to the sitting room.”
“Thank you, ma’am.”
“Where—how did it happen?” Mrs. Ryan asks between sniffles.
“He was apparently struck by a hit-and-run driver on a rural road about 20 miles from here,” the detective replies.
“Was his car damaged badly.”
“Well, Mrs. Ryan, there was no vehicle on scene. He was a pedestrian.”
Gasping, Mrs. Ryan asks, “What was he doing there? Where’s his car?”
“I’m afraid I don’t have those answers yet. It would be helpful for you to give me a description of the vehicle.”
“It was a new-model black-and-silver Rolls Royce Phantom. Here’s the license number—”
“This is most helpful since it is an uncommon vehicle. Where was your husband employed?”
“He buys— bought and sold fine art and rare jewelry. He had his own company called Ryan Art Antiquities.
“Mrs. Ryan, take your time. Did he have any employees?”
“Yes, about 10—or 12. The office should be open now.”
“Thanks, we w’ll check it out. Can I also get a recent photo of him for identification purposes?”
Standing up to reach a framed photo on the piano, Mrs. Ryan asks, “Will I get it back?”
“I tell you what. I’ll just snap a picture with my phone and let you keep the original.” Detective Anthony then sends it to other officers canvassing the area.
“When can I see my husband?”
“After the coroner finishes the report, I can give you a call. What’s the best number to reach you—? Okay, thank you. Here’s my card. I am sorry for your loss and we’ll be in touch with you again soon.
At least half of the Palo Estates homes have maids and nannies who are unfamiliar with the victim. So it is a slow process to locate the homeowners. Detective Anthony joins the uniformed officers in their canvas of the neighborhood.
As the amber glow of the setting sun illuminates the magnificent estates, Megan Anthony reaches the home of Dan Wilson. He is already peering through the window at all the police officers going door to door. The door opens before she can lower her hand from the bell.
“Is there a problem?” Dan asks hastily below furrowed brows with his body blocking visibility past the doorway.
“My name is Detective Megan Anthony and this is officer Douglas. Could we step in and ask you some questions?”
“Do you have a search warrant? Should I call my lawyer?” he asks nervously with his finger hovering over the phone keypad.
Taking note of his defensiveness, the detective replies, “We’re not here executing a search warrant. We’re questioning everyone in the area about one of your neighbors.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. It is a little disconcerting to find police on my porch. Step in,” Dan says while pacing with folded arms without offering them a seat.
Standing in the foyer, the detective asks, “Is something burning?”
“No. That smell is from my fireplace. Who’s missing?”
“I didn’t say anyone was missing. Why would you ask that?”
“Oh, I assumed since you’re asking about a neighbor—. Never mind. Starting over. How can I help?”
“Do you know a neighbor by the name of Nicholas Ryan?”
“Nope. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful.”
“He lives just a few doors down from you. Perhaps this photo is familiar.”
Wanting to get them out as quickly as possible, Dan barely glances at the picture on the detective’s phone before saying, “No… not familiar.”
“This is important. Can you please give it a good look?”
As Dan stares at the photo on her smartphone, he has flashbacks of the accident. He is in a trance with the whites of his eyes visible around his irises. The detective elbows the officer and raises an eyebrow while tilting her head towards Dan.
After waiting a few moments, Megan asks again, “Does he look familiar?”
Her voice breaks the trance. Dan responds, “Maybe… no. I mean everyone around here works long hours. So we live near each other but are not very neighborly, if you can understand.”
“I totally get it. Can you tell me where you were the evening before last?”
“Two nights ago? Why do you ask?”
“It’s routine. As I said, we’re asking all of your neighbors.”
“I was at a business dinner with a client.”
“Does the client have a name?”
“Sure, it’s Fred. Fred Zimmerman.”
“Where was the dinner?”
“At a gentlemen’s club… called Dignified Ladies.”
“Isn’t that past the rural road in Owenstown?”
Dan pauses in pallor, feeling he has been tricked to divulge incriminating evidence. “You know what, if you have any more questions I must direct you to my attorney. Good evening,” Dan says hastily while opening the front door.