[Note: In The Radio Murders: The Caller there are two Chicago detectives named Jersey Stempowski and Freddy Blakely. They were an intrigal part of the original story. Many who have been with me from the beginning were not happy they these two were edited out in the current version of The Radio Murders: The Collectors. Here they are investigating he disappearance of Producer Dani Drabek.]
"Somehow, I pictured her place looking a little different." Stemp peered into the beveled and frosted glass in the vinyl-covered front door.
Dani Drabek lived in a quiet section of modest houses in the 9200 block of South Mozart Street, a small enclave of mostly young, mostly white professionals. The house was in remarkably good shape. The paint job was recent and the garden was well kept. There was a comfortable and welcome feel communicated simply by walking up the gently curving path.
"You see anything moving in there?" Freddy looked over his partner’s shoulder.
"Looks like something, but it's not moving." Stemp pulled away from the door.
"Looks like we have probable cause to enter. That whatever it is may be harming Ms. Drabek in some way." Freddy played his role perfectly.
"My thoughts exactly." Stemp gave his partner a half-smile and popped the lock in seconds.
Inside smelled of leather, Dani’s unique scent of bergamot bubblegum and hints of kitchen garbage prematurely ripened by city summer heat in the enclosed space, though nothing too strong.
The entry was a small ceramic tile foyer with clean, thin cherry wood trim and cream-colored walls. Freddy carefully walked into the front room, which was decorated in half walls painted dark turquoise and separated by a black lacquer chair rail with cream paneled lower. The few pieces of contemporary furniture were simple yet expensive looking; most in leather.
The dining room was where the lone figure stood.
"Stempowski! Come over here." It was a voice Freddy would use to call his young daughter to clean up her mess. The blank, featureless stare was nearly eye-to-eye with Freddy. In spite of his durable exterior and heavy spring lower body, the stranger looked like he had been in many battles, defenselessly taking the blow and with a perfect losing record.
"The lady has one hell of a punch." Stemp scratched one of the circular yellow and black targets painted in strategic locations on the figure. The impact points of the kickboxing practice dummy were nearly worn away. Freddy hunched into a boxer's stance and gave the padded synthetic humanoid a few choice left jabs. It budged, but not nearly as much as Freddy thought it would.
"Damn! This thing is set tight as a drum."
"It's for kick boxing, Freddy, she throws those powerful little legs into this guy and I'll bet he nearly hits the floor." White latex gloves appeared out of pockets as the men took two different paths into the remainder of the house.
Dani Drabek's bedroom was a typical young woman's sanctuary, Freddy thought. There was an unmade double bed with a large Tigger and a Pooh caught in the sheets. Mini blinds treated three windows, still angled closed. The mission style furniture appeared to have been with Dani since her teen years and did not fit the rest of the house. He knew Stemp could price the items in about three seconds.
"Wow! Expensive stuff." Freddy smiled to himself at the accuracy of his prediction.
"I'm thinking Mom in Twin Cities sprung for it and a while ago. You find anything?"
"Answering machine has mom calling three times and two hang ups. None from Kradich or Bennett, though they could have been the hang-ups, I suppose." Stemp took a quick survey of Dani's most personal space. There was a small shower off the bedroom, Stemp looked in and saw it was dry. "I’d say the lady hasn't been home since yesterday." He opened the medicine cabinet and made a mental note of the over the counter medication including a large internet purchased jar of colloidal silver and the two prescription vials; one for generic prescription strength ibuprofen and one for tetracycline. He noted that the antibiotic prescription was issued ten days before and only two tablets of the original 25 tablets remained. Similar treatment, similar problem as Mrs. Janich. Somehow, he could not see Dani and Peter Janich together. "I peeked in the garage. No car." Stemp opened the sliding closet door and began pushing dark pants and blouses aside. Freddy opened a bedside table.
"Party time!" The wicker basket contained two different vibrators, one silver and one with surprising anatomic detail, and three different flavors of body lotions. "Whoa, we have a winner!" Freddy set down the basket and pulled a large dildo with two sets of straps and a Sig P239 handgun from the bottom drawer. "Forty caliber. Quite a gun for a little lady."
"She's no lady, she's a radio queen, remember?" Stemp reminded.