Tell me your dreams, p.6
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       Tell Me Your Dreams, p.6

           Sidney Sheldon
 
Chapter Six

  DEPUTY Sam Blake had earned his position in the Cupertino Sheriff's Office the hard way: He had married the sheriff's sister, Serena Dowling, a virago with a tongue sharp enough to fell the forests of Oregon. Sam Blake was the only man Serena had ever met who was able to handle her. He was a short, gentle, mild-mannered person with the patience of a saint. No matter how outrageous Serena's behavior, he would wait until she had calmed down and then have a quiet talk with her.

  Blake had joined the sheriff's department because Sheriff Matt Dowling was his best friend. They had gone to school together and grown up together. Blake enjoyed police work and was exceedingly good at it. He had a keen, inquiring intelligence and a stubborn tenacity. The combination made him the best detective on the force.

  * * *

  Earlier that morning, Sam Blake and Sheriff Dowling were having coffee together.

  Sheriff Dowling said, "I hear my sister gave you a bad time last night. We got half a dozen calls from the neighbors complaining about the noise. Serena's a champion screamer, all right. "

  Sam shrugged. "I finally got her calmed down, Matt. "

  "Thank God she's not living with me anymore, Sam. I don't know what gets into her. Her temper tantrums - "

  Their conversation was interrupted. "Sheriff, we just got a 911. There's been a murder over on Sunnyvale Avenue. "

  Sheriff Dowling looked at Sam Blake.

  Blake nodded. "I'll catch it. "

  Fifteen minutes later. Deputy Blake was walking into Dennis Tibble's apartment. A patrolman in the living room was talking to the building superintendent.

  "Where's the body?" Blake asked.

  The patrolman nodded toward the bedroom. "In there, sir. " He looked pale.

  Blake walked to the bedroom and stopped, in shock. A man's naked body was sprawled across the bed, and Blake's first impression was that the room was soaked in blood. As he stepped closer to the bed, he saw where the blood had come from. The ragged edge of a broken bottle had punctured the victim's back, over and over again, and there were shards of glass in his body. The victim's testicles had been slashed off.

  Looking at it, Blake felt a pain in his groin. "How the hell could a human being do a thing like this?" he said aloud. There was no sign of the weapon, but they would make a thorough search.

  Deputy Blake went back into the living room to talk to the building superintendent. "Did you know the deceased?"

  "Yes, sir. This is his apartment. "

  "What's his name?"

  "Tibble. Dennis Tibble. "

  Deputy Blake made a note. "How long had he lived here?"

  "Almost three years. "

  "What can you tell me about him?"

  "Not too much, sir. Tibble kept pretty much to himself, always paid his rent on time. Once in a while he'd have a woman in here. I think they were mostly pros. "

  "Do you know where he worked?"

  "Oh, yes. Global Computer Graphics Corporation. He was one of them computer nerds. "

  Deputy Blake made another note. "Who found the body?"

  "One of the maids. Maria. Yesterday was a holiday, so she didn't come in until this morning - "

  "I want to talk to her. "

  "Yes, sir. I'll get her. "

  Maria was a dark-looking Brazilian woman in her forties, nervous and frightened.

  "You discovered the body, Maria?"

  "I didn't do it. I swear to you. " She was on the verge of hysteria. "Do I need a lawyer?"

  "No. You don't need a lawyer. Just tell me what happened. "

  "Nothing happened. I mean - I walked in here this morning to clean, the way I always do. I - I thought he was gone. He's always out of here by seven in the morning. I tidied up the living room and - "

  Damn! "Maria, do you remember what the room looked like before you tidied up?"

  "What do you mean?"

  "Did you move anything? Take anything out of here?"

  "Well, yes. There was a broken wine bottle on the floor. It was all sticky. I - "

  "What did you do with it?" he asked excitedly.

  "I put it in the garbage compactor and ground it up. "

  "What else did you do?"

  "Well, I cleaned out the ashtray and - "

  "Were there any cigarette butts in it?"

  She stopped to remember. "One. I put it in the trash basket in the kitchen. "

  "Let's take a look at it. " He followed her to the kitchen, and she pointed to a wastebasket. Inside was a cigarette butt with lipstick on it. Carefully, deputy Blake scooped it up in a coin envelope.

  He led her back to the living room. "Maria, do you know if anything is missing from the apartment? Does it look as if any valuables are gone?"

  She looked around. "I don't think so. Mr. Tibble, he liked to collect those little statues. He spent a lot of money on them. It looks like they're all here. "

  So the motive was not robbery. Drugs? Revenge? A love affair gone wrong?

  "What did you do after you tidied up here, Maria?"

  "I vacuumed in here, the way I always do. And then - " Her voice faltered. "I walked into the bedroom and. . . I saw him. " She looked at deputy Blake. "I swear I didn't do it. "

  The coroner and his assistants arrived in a coroner's wagon, with a body bag.

  Three hours later, deputy Sam Blake was back in the sheriff's office.

  "What have you got, Sam?"

  "Not much. " Deputy Blake sat down across from Sheriff Dowling. "Dennis Tibble worked over at Global. He was apparently some kind of genius. "

  "But not genius enough to keep himself from getting killed. "

  "He wasn't just killed, Matt. He was slaughtered. You should have seen what someone did to his body. It has to be some kind of maniac. "

  "Nothing to go on?"

  "We aren't sure what the murder weapon is, we're waiting for results from the lab, but it may be a broken wine bottle. The maid threw it in the compactor. It looks like there's a fingerprint on one of the pieces of glass in his back. I talked to the neighbors. No help there. No one saw anyone coming in or out of his apartment. No unusual noises. Apparently, Tibble stuck pretty much to himself. He wasn't the neighborly type. One thing. Tibble had sex before he died. We have vaginal traces, pubic hairs, other trace evidence and a cigarette stub with lipstick. We'll test for DNA. "

  "The newspapers are going to have a good time with this one, Sam. I can see the headlines now - MANIAC STRIKES SILICON VALLEY. " Sheriff Dowling sighed. "Let's knock this off as fast as we can. "

  "I'm on my way over to Global Computer Graphics now. "

  It had taken Ashley an hour to decide whether she should go into the office. She was torn. One look at me, and everyone will know that something is wrong. But if I don't show up, they'll want to know why. The police will probably be there asking questions. If they question me, I'll have to tell them the truth. They won't believe me. They'll blame me for killing Dennis Tibble. And if they do believe me, and if I tell them my father knew what he did to me, they'll blame him.

  She thought of Jim Cleary's murder. She could hear Florence's voice: "Jim's parents came back and found his body. He had been stabbed to death and castrated. "

  Ashley squeezed her eyes shut tightly. My God, what's happening? What's happening?

  Deputy Sam Blake walked onto the work floor where groups of somber employees stood around, talking quietly. Blake could imagine what the subject of conversation was. Ashley watched him apprehensively as he headed toward Shane Miller's office.

  Shane rose to greet him. "Deputy Blake?"

  "Yes. " The two men shook hands.

  "Sit down. Deputy. "

  Sam Blake took a seat. "I understand Dennis Tibble was an employee here?"

  "That's right. One of the best. It's a terrible tragedy. "

  "He worked here about three years?"

  "Yes. He was our genius. There wasn't anything he couldn't do with a
computer. "

  "What can you tell me about his social life?"

  Shane Miller shook his head. "Not much. I'm afraid. Tibble was kind of a loner. "

  "Do you have any idea if he was into drugs?"

  "Dennis? Hell, no. He was a health nut. "

  "Did he gamble? Could he have owed someone a lot of money?"

  "No. He made a damned good salary, but I think he was pretty tight with a buck. "

  "What about women? Did he have a girlfriend?"

  "Women weren't very attracted to Tibble. " He thought for a moment. "Lately, though, he was going around telling people there was someone he was thinking of marrying. "

  "Did he happen to mention her name?"

  Miller shook his head. "No. Not to me, anyway. "

  "Would you mind if I talked to some of your employees?"

  "Not at all. Go ahead. I have to tell you, they're all pretty shaken up. "

  They would be more shaken up if they could have seen his body, Blake thought.

  The two men walked out onto the work floor.

  Shane Miller raised his voice. "May I have your attention, please? This is deputy Blake. He'd like to ask a few questions. "

  The employees had stopped what they were doing and were listening.

  Deputy Blake said, "I'm sure that all of you have heard what happened to Mr. Tibble. We need your help in finding out who killed him. Do any of you know of any enemies he had? Anyone who hated him enough to want to murder him?" There was a silence. Blake went on. "There was a woman he was interested in marrying. Did he discuss her with any of you?"

  Ashley was finding it difficult to breathe. Now was the time to speak up. Now was the time to tell the deputy what Tibble had done to her. But Ashley remembered the look on her father's face when she had told him about it. They would blame him for the murder.

  Her father could never kill anyone.

  He was a doctor.

  He was a surgeon.

  Dennis Tibble had been castrated.

  Deputy Blake was saying, ". . . and none of you saw him after he left here on Friday?"

  Toni Prescott thought. Go ahead. Tell him. Miss Goody Two-shoes. Tell him you went to his apartment. Why don't you speak up?

  Deputy Blake stood there a moment, trying to hide his disappointment. "Well, if any of you remembers anything that might be helpful. I'd appreciate it if you'd give me a call. Mr. Miller has my number. Thank you. "

  They watched as he moved toward the exit with Shane.

  Ashley felt faint with relief.

  Deputy Blake turned to Shane. "Was there anyone here he was particularly close to?"

  "No, not really," Shane said. "I don't think Dennis was close to anybody. He was very attracted to one of our computer operators, but he never got anywhere with her. "

  Deputy Blake stopped. "Is she here now?"

  "Yes, but - "

  "I'd like to talk to her. "

  "All right. You can use my office. " They walked back into the room, and Ashley saw them coming. They were headed straight for her cubicle. She could feel her face redden.

  "Ashley, deputy Blake would like to talk to you. "

  So he knew! He was going to ask her about her visit to Tibble's apartment. I've got to be careful, Ashley thought.

  The deputy was looking at her. "Do you mind, Miss Patterson?"

  She found her voice. "No, not at all. " She followed him into Shane Miller's office.

  "Sit down. " They both took chairs. "I understand that Dennis Tibble was fond of you?"

  "I - I suppose. . . " Careful. "Yes. "

  "Did you go out with him?"

  Going to his apartment would not be the same as going out with him. "No. "

  "Did he talk to you about this woman he wanted to marry?"

  She was getting in deeper and deeper. Could he be taping this? Maybe he already knew she had been in Tibble's apartment. They could have found her fingerprints. Now was the time to tell the deputy what Tibble had done to her. But if I do, Ashley thought in despair, it will lead to my father, and they'll connect that to Jim Cleary's murder. Did they know about that, too? But the police department in Bedford would have no reason to notify the police department in Cupertino. Or would they?

  Deputy Blake was watching her, waiting for an answer. "Miss Patterson?"

  "What? Oh, I'm sorry. This has got me so upset. . . "

  "I understand. Did Tibble ever mention this woman he wanted to marry?"

  "Yes. . . but he never told me her name. " That, at least, was true.

  "Have you ever been to Tibble's apartment?"

  Ashley took a deep breath. If she said no, the questioning would probably end. But if they had found her fingerprints. . . "Yes. "

  "You have been to his apartment?"

  "Yes. "

  He was looking at her more closely now. "You said you'd never been out with him. "

  Ashley's mind was racing now. "That's right. Not on a date, no. I went to bring him some papers he had forgotten. "

  "When was this?"

  She felt trapped. "It was. . . it was about a week ago. "

  "And that's the only time you've been to his place?'

  "That's right. "

  Now if they had her fingerprints, she would be in clear.

  Deputy Blake sat there, studying her, and she felt guilty. She wanted to tell him the truth. Maybe some burglar had broken in and killed him - the same burglar who had killed Jim Cleary ten years earlier and three thousand miles away. If you believed in coincidences. If you believed in Santa Claus. If you believed in the tooth fairy.

  Damn you, Father.

  Deputy Blake said, "This is a terrible crime. There doesn't seem to be any motive. But you know, in all the years I've been on the force, I've never seen a crime without a motive. " There was no response. "Do you know if Dennis Tibble was into drugs?"

  "I'm sure he wasn't. "

  "So what do we have? It wasn't drugs. He wasn't robbed. He didn't owe anybody money. That kind of leaves a romantic situation, doesn't it? Someone who was jealous of him. "

  Or a father who wanted to protect his daughter.

  "I'm as puzzled as you are, Deputy. "

  He stared at her for a moment and his eyes seemed to say, "I don't believe you, lady. "

  Deputy Blake got to his feet. He took out a card and handed it to Ashley. "If there's anything you can think of, I'd appreciate your giving me a call. "

  "I'll be happy to. "

  "Good day. "

  She watched him leave. It's over. Father's in the clear.

  When Ashley returned to her apartment that evening, there was a message on the answering machine: "You got me real hot last night, baby. I'm talking blue balls. But you'll take care of me tonight, though, the way you promised. Same time, same place. "

  Ashley stood there, listening in disbelief. I'm going crazy, she thought. This has nothing to do with Father. Someone else must be behind all this. But who? And why?

  Five days later, Ashley received a statement from the credit card company. Three items caught her attention:

  A bill from the Mod Dress Shop for $450.

  A bill from the Circus Club for $300.

  A bill from Louie's Restaurant for $250.

  She had never heard of the dress shop, the club or the restaurant.

 
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