Wednesday, May 17, 2017

#FreeDailyThriller - Lust, Money & Murder - Book 10, "Black Widow" - Part 43

* * *
As Luna watched Tutter’s SUV back out into the street, her heart was thumping with excitement. With this new information she’d just gotten from Sheridan, she had a feeling she was very close to figuring out exactly how Patrick Brogan had been killed.
She waited until she saw Tutter’s SUV flash across the intersection that led in the direction of the town center, then started her engine and drove around the block to his house again. In the satchel in the back seat—the items she’d brought from France—were a pair of latex gloves, a set of locksmith tools, and two GPS tracking boxes. A few minutes ago, she might not have taken this risk, but the new information she’d gotten from Sheridan had inspired her.
She wished she’d thought to slap one of the GPS devices underneath the bumper of Tutter’s car before she had knocked on his front door, but then as the saying goes, hindsight is always twenty-twenty.
 She parked in the same place she had before in front of Tutter’s house so as not to leave any obvious new tracks in the snow.

* * *
When Luna stepped onto Tutter’s front porch, she glanced around at the front windows, looking for a sign of an alarm system, but could not find any wires or sensors. She was fairly sure the house didn’t have one—burglary in a small town like this probably wasn’t a serious problem.
Although most people kept a spare key hidden somewhere around their front door, she was prepared to pick the lock if necessary. Fortunately, after donning her latex gloves and searching the porch, she discovered that Thomas Tutter was indeed like most people—she found a spare key positioned directly underneath the rear leg of a wooden porch bench that was just under the windows.
A moment later, she was inside the house. She quickly relocked the deadbolt with the key and put it in her pocket. Most of the lights that had been on when she’d been here were still on, and that bothered her—Tutter might have just driven into town to use a pay phone.
After thoroughly wiping her feet on the inside doormat to make sure she didn’t leave any tracks inside the house, she drew her pistol and quickly but quietly moved through the entire downstairs, then the second floor, glancing only briefly into each room. No wonder he didn’t have an alarm system—she didn’t see anything worth stealing. Tutter obviously hadn’t made much money as a county prison guard, and he was probably struggling to get by on Social Security checks. The furniture looked old and worn, and the TV sets looked even older.
She went back downstairs, into the kitchen, and squatted in front of the cellar door, inspecting the lock. It looked fairly new, as if installed only a year or two ago. She pulled her locksmith tools from her pocket and went to work on it, pausing every few seconds to listen to make sure she didn’t hear the sound of Tutter’s SUV pulling back into the driveway. Still stuck in the back of her mind was that damn toilet paper roller. While she fiddled with the lock, she kept trying to convince herself that her theory was plausible, that whoever had gone into Patrick Brogan’s “unit” had carried in one or more rolls of rope or cable that he had used to secure the sleeping Patrick to the bed, and then suffocated him. But she still didn’t buy it. Even with his body shielded with a blanket, there would have been one hell of a struggle, and there would have been telltale signs from that rope or cable digging in somewhere on Patrick’s body. She had seen all the photos herself—there were absolutely no marks.
Finally she was able to set all the pins in the door lock and applied the torque with her wrench.
The lock turned.
When she opened the door, she found a light switch at the top of the stairs and flipped it on. All she could see was what looked like a gray concrete floor down at the bottom. But there was a strong smell of leather in the air...the odor reminded her of the storage room in a barn she’d frequented as a kid, where saddles were kept.
She considered pulling out her pistol, but decided against it.  She preferred to keep a first grip on the rail with one hand and the other hand free to keep her balance—the stairs looked rather rickety.
She slowly descended…and the interior of the basement, in all its lurid glory, came into view.
“Oh, shit,” she gasped, looking around bewilderedly at the whips, chains, handcuffs, and riding crops hanging everywhere.
So Thomas Tutter is into BDSM, she thought, turning in a circle to take it all in. She knew quite a bit about the BDSM culture and practices—several of her FBI cases had involved suspects who were heavily into that somewhat mysterious realm. Tutter had an impressive setup—there was a St. Andrew’s cross in one corner, a bondage bed with leather restraints, a spanking bench, and a large array of leather hoods hanging on a row of hooks, even a gas mask. Situated on one side of the basement was a wooden “rack” that looked almost medieval, and behind that was a windowed cabinet full of dildos, water syringes, and other sex toys...
All of the sadistic equipment could be more than a little shocking for those not familiar with the sexual kink, but in terms of Thomas Tutter being a likely suspect in Patrick Brogan’s death, none of this meant anything. Luna knew that the vast majority of the people into BDSM were ordinary, law-abiding citizens. These days there were even well publicized, national conventions attended by thousands of enthusiasts and practitioners. Luna was quite sure that, due to several popular books and movies that had come out in the last few years, sexual sadomasochism, in one form or another, was practiced in private by millions of ordinary people but who would never admit it.
Luna had never been one to judge. “Whatever floats your boat,” was her motto.
She moved to the wall farthest from the stairs. There, she found stacks and stacks of old gay pornographic magazines, most of them with men depicted in leather outfits on the covers.
It was clear that she had been right about Thomas Tutter being gay. Or at least bi.
She picked up a partial stack of the magazines and went through them, looking at the covers, and then suddenly stopped on one titled BDSM World.
The cover photo showed a man lying on a table, bound to it head to toe, with clear plastic that had been wrapped around and around him. There was only a hole for his mouth and nose.
It was a creepy image—the shiny, translucent plastic made him look almost like a caterpillar wrapped inside a chrysalis.
Luna was familiar with the dangerous practice.  Plastic wrap seemed quite thin and flimsy at first glance, but used in this particular way, it could bind a person as tightly as a psychopath in a straight jacket.  Tighter, actually, with the victim’s arms, hands, legs and feet completely immobilized.  Once bound in this virtually paralyzed state, the master would often cut off the oxygen of the “sub,” taking him or her close to the edge of asphyxiation.  The utter helplessness and inability to resist heightened the sub’s sexual excitement and experience.
Then it hit her.
That’s how Patrick Brogan was killed!
The toilet roller that had been left behind in his prison cell wasn’t a toilet roller at all—it was a roller for plastic wrap, one had been trimmed to a shorter length, the same length as a roll of toilet paper! The killer had smuggled it into the cell, maybe several rolls of it, in his pocket. If Patrick was a very heavy sleeper—and Elaine had confirmed that he was—the plastic wrap could have been used to immobilize him without him waking him.  This would made him easy to suffocate...yet it would not leave any marks or residue on his skin, like rope or tape would.
“What the fuck are you doing here?”
Luna whirled around and gasped.
Thomas Tutter was standing there, halfway down the stairs. He was wearing a parka and a wool cap, his gun leveled at her over the railing.
 “Get your hands in the air!” Tutter shouted.
Luna quickly complied.  Now she wished she’d drawn her gun.
Tutter continued down the stairs, keeping the weapon aimed at her, stepping carefully onto the concrete, his gaze darting around his fully-equipped S&M dungeon.
“Look, I work for the U.S. Secret Ser—”
“Yeah, and I’m Santy Clause. Get up against that cross!”
Luna glanced over at the X-shaped medieval torture device—the two boards that crossed each other in the middle were upholstered in black leather, with heavy eye hooks on all four corners to shackle a masochist’s wrists and ankles. But Luna was no masochist.
Her eyes cut over to the rolling metal rack that held the whips and canes—one end of it was within her reach.
Tutter caught this, and when his own eyes cut in that direction, Luna spun around, simultaneously compressing her body into a crouch and swinging her right leg out.
It caught Tutter in the ankles and knocked his legs out from under him, the gun going off as he tumbled sideways into the metal rack, knocking it over. The bullet he fired went wild, hitting the ceiling somewhere above her head.
When his shoulder hit the floor, the gun clattered out of his hand.
Luna leaped for it, but he slapped it into the corner, rolled over, and somehow managed to grab a heavy wooden cane from the rack.
He sprang to his feet and swung the thing at her head. She hadn’t quite regained her own balance, and was reaching into her jacket to pull her gun.
The wooden rod, which was more than an inch thick, smacked her hard across the neck and ear before she could raise her shoulder enough to block it.
Tutter brought the cane around a second time, the wood whistling through the air, directing it, she thought, at her head again. It suddenly changed course and slammed into her left thigh, just above the knee.
It hurt like hell. The thought He’s good with that thing went through her head as her knee buckled and she fell sideways down to the concrete. She gasped a heavy “Uh!” as her shoulder connected with the solid floor.
She did a backwards summersault and sprang back to her feet, once again reaching for her gun.
Shit, it was gone!
Tutter moved closer, wielding the heavy cane over his shoulder like a baseball player, preparing to strike again. Her damn gun was right at his feet, but he didn’t see it.
He whipped the cane through the air again.
In that half second she realized she would have to beat him in hand-to-hand combat, and the words attacker with stick flashed through her mind. From years of practice, her body automatically prepared itself, the muscles that would make the required defensive and offensive moves flexing, her stance assuming a strike-ready martial arts pose.
Tutter noticed this, glancing down at her legs. “Come on, bitch!”
The cane cut through the air again.
Luna lurched at him at the same instant, dodging the whistling rod and delivering a roundhouse kick that smacked him across the face. It didn’t quite connect but knocked him off balance long enough for her to move in and deliver a flurry of blows with her fists to his midsection, neck and face, driving him backwards. Blood splattered as she hit him square on the nose.
She whirled around and caught him again in the stomach. Her gun was now just behind him. Despite the damage she was inflicting, he managed to hold onto the cane and swung it wildly back and forth. He smacked her again across the head, right on top of her ear.
“Stop it,” she bellowed, over the ringing her brain, “or I’m gonna put some serious hurt on you, Tutter!”
He took hold of the cane with both hands, pulled it back, and thrust it at her chest, like a sword. She partially dodged it but it hit her in the shoulder and it spun her around, and she was down on the floor again.
Tutter’s nose was gushing blood. He leaped to the left and dove onto the floor, presumably to get his gun—he still had not noticed that she’d dropped hers.
She dove for her own weapon, and she grabbed hold of it and aimed it at him just as he scooped his pistol off the floor.
“Freeze!” she yelled. “I’m a federal agent, dammit, you can’t—”
He half-turned towards her. Instead of trying to shoot her, he flung his gun at her, and Luna had to duck as the heavy weapon went sailing past her head.
Tutter dashed across the basement floor with amazing speed, jumping over the spanking bench, heading straight for the bottom of the stairs. Apparently he had now decided she was a genuine law enforcement agent and had changed his mind about shooting her. He was simply trying to escape, knowing she probably wouldn’t shoot him if he was unarmed, especially in the back.
“Freeze!” she roared again, as she scrambled after him.
He took the steps two at a time and so did Luna, right on his heels.
Just as he reached the top step, Luna dropped her gun and dove forward, grabbing him by the ankles. One of his boots came off in her hand but she had a firm grip on his other calf.
“Would you just calm down?” Luna said, “I just want to talk to you, for god’s sake!”
He struggled with her, screaming and writhing around like an unruly child.
All at once, Thomas Tutter went as limp as a ragdoll. “I just let him in, that’s all!” he wailed. “I didn’t have anything to do with it!”
“You let who in?” Luna gasped. “What are you talking about?”
Tutter just lay there now on the stairs, blubbering to himself, trembling, and winded from their fight. “I didn’t know...he just wanted a hookup...I just thought it was sex...” He was choking on the blood that was spurting from his nose.
Luna climbed up next to him and then rolled him over face-up.
“Tilt your head back,” she said, pulling a handkerchief from her coat pocket. She handed it to him and helped him hold it to his nostrils. “Come on, let’s get you upstairs.”

Next Part =>

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