Authors: Keith M Donaldson
Death of an Intern
Book 1 of the Laura Wolfe Thriller Series
by Keith M. Donaldson
Death of an Intern
Â© 2004 Keith M. Donaldson. All Rights Reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, digital, photocopying, or recording, except for the inclusion in a review, without permission in writing from the publisher.
First edition printed in 2004 by iUniverse Publishing Company.
This second edition was published in 2011 by Boutique of Quality Books Publishing.
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, names, incidents, organizations, and dialogue in this novel are either the products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
Published in the U.S. by Boutique of Quality Books Publishing Company
Printed in the United States of America
ISBN 978-1-937084-21-9 (p)
ISBN 978-1-937084-23-3 (e)
Library of Congress Control Number: 2011940039
Cover and interior by Robin Krauss, Linden Design,
Other Books by Keith M. Donaldson
Senate Cloakroom Cabal
Book 2 of the Laura Wolfe Thriller Series
To my mother, Virginiaâ¦
A poet, writer, and an artist who saw in me
things I took long to realize.
I will be forever grateful for your inspiration, love,
t was a rainy April night in the nation's capital with wind gusts turning umbrellas inside out, tearing them from frustrated hands. The torrents blurred the nighttime beauty of monumental Washington.
Second Street NE was within close proximity to the brightly lighted Capitol Dome, but in this part of Washington, D.C., there were no gleaming lights on buildingsâunless there was a police search. Tightly drawn curtains and boarded up windows prevented inside light from getting out, and there were few if any street lamps working. These back streets were dark and invisible in the shadow of the Federal enclave, business, and tourist areas.
It was the perfect place.
In a corner house, a clinic for unwed mothers-to-be quietly attended to its clients' needs. Like the once lovely house that practically had the Washington Mall for its front yard, 2nd Street had seen better days.
This night, a stranger sat parked in a black cargo van a half block from the clinic. The torrential rain obscured any view inside; however, the hooded person sat passively behind the wheel, attention fixed on the clinic's front door. The van's radio went from soft rock to an announcer reading headlines and a weather forecast. The weather would improve; the rain would stop after midnight. Tomorrow would be a clear and sunny day in the low 70sâa beautiful day in a beautiful city.
Except for one person, the driver reflected.
The clinic's last class should be ending any minute, and the women would flow out. Would one come toward the van? Would she be alone? Last night, the women had dispersed in all directions. Two had gone past the van. Either was ripe for selection, but last night had been for planning only. In addition, it hadn't been raining.
The stalker had done a complete survey of the neighborhood. There were no construction barriers obstructing the roads. No stores were along the escape route that the driver had selected. No clutter of cars. No stores to be robbed or bringing the police. This was a quiet, rundown residential neighborhood.
A police scanner sat on the van's front seat and announced no local disturbances. Bad guys didn't go out on nights like this. Well, with certain exceptions. A gust of wind shook the van as the rain kept beating down.
A light was reflected on the windshieldâthe clinic's porch light had come on. Women gathered under the small portico, turned up collars, pulled up hoods, tested umbrellas. Two walked down the half dozen steps to the sidewalk and turned in the opposite direction. A third stopped at the bottom to say a final goodbye. She turned, bent her head down under her small, virtually useless umbrella to ward off the relentless bombardment, and walked quickly away toward the van.
No one followed her.
The approaching woman was alone. Stealthily the stalker moved through the van to the rear, opened its doors, and then stepped out carrying a large box, placing it in the middle of the sidewalk. Its positioning would force the oncoming woman to step closer to the van. Hidden by the van's doors, the driver waited. The pedestrian nearly stumbled over the box. She adjusted, and then did as expected. She sidestepped it to the outside, all the while looking down, stepping carefully to avoid falling off the curb into the stream of water flowing down the gutter.
The stalker was swift. Strong, gloved hands grabbed the woman. In one was a chloroformed rag, which the attacker held against the struggling woman's mouth, instantly preventing a scream. She dropped everything in an attempt to free herself, but the anesthetic quickly reduced her to a crumpled mass. Her deflated body was shoved into the van. The mugger climbed in, quickly pulling the doors closed.
Moving with mad purpose, the assailant strapped the woman down and gave her another dose of chloroform just to play it safe, even though the ride would be short. Up ahead, the clinic's light went off. The street was again dark and lifeless. All to the kidnapper's liking.
The driver eased the van out of its snug harbor and drove past the clinic, leaving 2nd Street in its wake, the woman's bag and umbrella in the gutter.
The van was soon on K Street NW, heading west through the central business district, and then under the Whitehurst Freeway to Georgetown's waterfront. A black cargo van fit in well here with the usual Mercedes or Lexusâa very eclectic place, Georgetown. The parking lots were mostly empty, unlike the norm. People were not idly out on this unpleasant weeknight. No drunks to contend with. The van passed Wisconsin Avenue, rumbled over old trolley tracks and potholes, and moved under Francis Scott Key Bridge.
Practically everything in Washington was named for somebody, and then later renamed to accommodate a new saint, while discarding the old one. There would be no ceremonial naming for the woman in the rear of the van. Maybe a moment, a brief news item, but then she, too, would become old news. The van glided into a lot occupied by commercial vehicles and parked. Those vehicles would not see their drivers until the predawn hours.
There was plenty of time. The abductor clamored eagerly into the back.
our name?” the receptionist, dressed like a nurse, asked me.
“Laura Wolfe. I called aboutâ”
“Sign in here please,” the woman's dispassionate voice interrupted, “and have a seat. The doctor will see you shortly.”
My mind was actively collecting clever retorts, but I chose instead dutifully to sign in and plunked down in the farthest chair from the door.
I felt a wave of apprehension as my mind flashed over what I needed to do, or should have done. I'd left a message for Mary, my motherly news assistant at the
She'd worry when I was late and call my husband. I didn't want Jerry to knowânot right now anyway. I'd already killed the rabbit, so I was pretty sure; but my newspaper reporter's training said this story was not leaving my lips without official corroboration from two respectable sourcesâthe rabbit and my OB-GYN.
I wanted to pace, but the other women in their different phases of pregnancy appeared calm. Maybe I should have listened to the radio or read the paper as I usually do before leaving our apartment. Even though I didn't have a story in today's edition, I liked reading my peers' stories before I entered the hallowed halls of the
Washington Daily Star.
I felt frumpy. I looked at my feet to be sure I wasn't wearing unmatched shoes.
I had set my alarm a half hour early, showered quickly, and bypassed having my specially brewed coffee. I wanted to slip out quietly before Jerry awoke and began asking questions. That's the trouble with being a person of habits and having a very observant husband.
I glanced up as a woman, who looked like she was about to deliver at any minute, walked in. She talked with the receptionist and took a seat.
Jerry was no longer a criminal trial lawyer, but he still had that discerning eye. Fortunately, after three years of marriage, he was used to my flakiness. I checked my watch. Come on. I need to get this over with and get to work.
I wondered how Jerry felt when his two sons, Scott and Colin, now into their adolescent bravura, were born. Having a child together was important to us, but we had waited to allow us, me, time to adjust to married life. Although this was my first marriage, I had not been celibate. However, no relationship went six months, and at no time did I do the live-in thing.
I exhaled a little too loudly and drew the attention of one waiting room partner. “It's the waiting,” I reflexively said, giving her a weak smile. She smiled and nodded. Enough for conviviality. Just then a woman in nurse's garb came out of the inner office; unfortunately, she called another's name.
I've been a beat reporter with the Washington Daily Star nearly four years. One of Jerry's morning routines was checking the paper to see if any of his clients were in the news. But I knew he also looked for a “Laura Wolfe contributed to” attribution. He never had to search when I had a byline story because I'd have called him one minute after I knew it was going in the next edition.
I don't think I'm as impulsive as I used to be, but in no way am I less passionate about being a reporter. I have a page-one headline to my credit, one that got me positive notoriety last year. But if the truth be known, I really enjoy my crime beat assignments. That's how I met Max Walsh, Metropolitan Police Department's captain of Homicide, the man partially responsible for my being in this waiting room.
He and Jerry had been friends before I came to Washington. I was a veteran reporter when I came to the Star. Max recognized that and saw that I was respectful of his work. A professional relationship slowly grew, and after a year or so, we began having an occasional lunch together. Although most of my colleagues found the hulking African-American difficult, I found he had a softness and keen intellect about him. He was around fifty and a native Washingtonian.
The turning point in my life came during one of those lunches when Max mentioned he had a male lawyer friend he'd like me to meet. Like everything else, I obsessed about it. I didn't date very often, but I was curious and said yes. From the moment I met Jerry Fields, a white, divorced, six-foot-two, physically fit man, my heart fluttered, maybe for the first time in my life.
We were married eight months later.
I looked at my watch. I picked up a magazine and flipped through the pages.
The inner door opened. “Ms. Wolfe, the doctor will see you now.”
Following the doctor's examination, I dressed and met with him in his nicely appointed and comfortable office.
“You're fine physically, but you'll have to take some extra precautions.”
“What's wrong? What did youâ”
“There's nothing wrong, beyond what we already knew.”
What was he saying? Was he covering up something?
“This may have been why you had trouble conceiving.”
“I understand.” I nodded. We had been trying for nearly a year. “Since I have conceived, isn't that behind us?”
“Everything is fine,” he said reassuringly. “If you take good care of yourself, you won't have any worries.”
That was it? The appointment was over? I'd seen that attitude many times in too many interviews not to catch it in a doctor's office. No. He was talking again.
“Maybe you should cut back a little.”
“Quit my job!” This was an unexpected consequence and a bad reaction.
“No. Adjust your lifestyle to get more rest,” he said unperturbed.
My mind was racing. What, a siesta after lunch? He didn't know the newspaper business, with its deadlines every minute. “I always take care of myself.”
“Diet is important. Stretching, light aerobics. Just be sensible with everything.”
“Thank you,” I said, wanting to leave. I'll have to read up, get a load of books, and have Jerry monitor my every move. He was great at red-flagging. I can, I will do this. The doctor smiled, like he could read my mind.
“Call if you have questions. Stop out front. Helen will have a prescription forâ”
“There is something wrong!” I blurted.
“Oh no. Nothing like that. It's for anxiety, just to reduce any edginess.”
He gestured as if I'd know. I nodded as if I did.
“They come in handy. I occasionally use one. Taken sparingly, they will have no negative effect on your work. Oh, no alcohol or caffeine for a while,” he added admonishingly.
I thanked him and headed for the receptionist to get my prescription.