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R. J. Beam, Author of Fire Cop


                                   R. J. Beam

R. J. has been both a volunteer and paid firefighter. He currently works in Law Enforcement in Wisconsin.

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New Title(s) from R. J. Beam

Fire Cop by R. J. Beam Cops and Stalkers by R. J. Beam

 

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Fire Cop by R. J. Beam








When Officer Ben Graystock becomes fed up with drug dealer Avery Spade’s ability to avoid arrest, he tries a highly illegal method to bust the criminal. Ben sets fire to Avery’s house. The officer assumes fire investigators will see the meth lab evidence and make an arrest. The plan does not work, resulting in Ben tracking down Avery’s other drug labs and setting additional arsons.

Police officer and volunteer firefighter Stuart Thompson is assigned to investigate these arsons. Thompson also happens to be Graystock’s close friend and partner at the police department.

Fire investigation turns to a murder investigation after Avery Spade assumes the arsonist is a local rival dealer. Spade kills the rival using a fire as a form of street justice. As the investigation progresses more fire deaths occur. The pressure is on for Officer Thompson to find a suspect and end the fires before more people die.

                                                                             Excerpt
Word Count: 73100
Pages to Print: 224
File Format: PDF
Price: $4.99
   
         

   
Cops and Stalkers by R. J. Beam
When a thrill-seeking serial rapist terrorizes the college town of Platteville, WI, Officer Stuart Thompson takes up the hunt. As he closes in on the rapist, the assaults escalate to murders, and Thompson finds himself in the crosshairs.

                                                                       
Excerpt
Word Count: 82843
Pages to Print: 262
File Format: PDF
Price: $4.99



      
   
   
   

Excerpts
 
Fire Cop 

Chapter 1

It all starts with a click. The room has to be very quiet for anyone to hear that click, but it is audible. The sound of a circuit closing and power being sent to a dormant speaker. That click is almost instantly followed up by the alert tone. A five-second-long staccato of high pitched beeps. This alert tone is designed to awaken a person from the deepest of deep sleep. Tonight it only took the first two seconds to bring Stuart Thompson from dreamland to fully awake. Thompson keeps a touch lamp right to the side of his clock to ensure it is easy to turn on in the dark. Reaching past the clock he catches the time: 2:50.

Twenty minutes after bar time and the fire pager is going off, I know what this will be. Soon after that idea passed through Stuart’s mind the alert tones ended. The bedroom didn’t return to the silence of five seconds earlier, but a female voice filled the air.

“This is a page for the Platteville Fire Department and Platteville EMS. We have a two vehicle 10-50 with injuries and possible entrapment, Highway 151 southbound lanes just past the trailer court. Again, we have a 10-50 on Highway 151 just south of the trailer court. The complainant states there are injuries and thinks there could be entrapment. I have officers en route and will get you more details as soon as they are on scene.” 10-50 is police radio code for a traffic crash.

Before the pager shut off, Stuart was on his way out the door of the bedroom. Like all veteran volunteer firefighters, he placed jeans, T-shirt and socks by his bed before falling asleep. Like many of those worn by his fellow volunteers, the T-shirt was bright red with the fire department logo screen-printed onto it. Down the steps Thompson jogged, then across his living room into the kitchen. His house keys were on an end table right next to the door leading to the garage. Under the table was an old pair of running shoes. They were already tied, and due to their age Thompson was able to slip them on without effort. In the wintertime he often left a jacket hanging on the hook stuck to the back side of this door. On this late August night, the jacket, wasn’t there, nor would it be needed even if it were there. Out into the garage he went. The electric opener whirred to life, lifting the door, exposing Thompson to a blast of humid warm air. The inside of his house had been air conditioned. A nice cool 70 degrees with little humidity. The air tonight was in the mid-70s but the humidity was well over ninety percent. Thompson started to get the feeling that they would be getting rained on at this crash scene.

He climbed into the seat of his truck and the V8 set inside his black Chevy full size pickup rumbled to life. Thompson habitually backed into the garage to make pulling out into traffic in emergency situations like this one easier. On the dash and in the grill of his truck were red strobe lights. Also under the grill was a one-hundred-watt speaker. The lights and speaker tied into a box bolted to the underside of the dash. That box had a row of buttons and a turn knob. Thompson hit only one button on the row and the red lights started to flash away. He turned the knob from the off position to the one labeled yelp. The speaker up front started to call out a high pitch cry telling others on the road to move out of my way. The gearshift hit the spot for driving forward, and Thompson raced out onto the nighttime street.

Down the street to the four-way stop sign he went. At that intersection, Thompson slowed up to see that no one else was around, then went right on through the intersection, making a right-hand turn toward the fire department building. The firehouse was just down the hill from his home, so Thompson was first to pull into the parking lot. There was a time when he would run down to the firehouse, but an ice-covered sidewalk cured him of that silly habit. He shifted the truck into park and turned off the key. As soon as the engine quit, the lights and siren also went dead. Thompson had them wired into the same electrical circuit as the power windows, a neat trick to avoid a dead battery from forgetting to flip off the strobe lights.

On the side of the building was a box with a keyhole. Thompson put a key from his ring into the hole and turned it. Across the front of the building garage, doors started lifting up, and the bright red fire trucks became visible. Little kids dream about getting onto firetrucks and racing to a call. Adults know what goes on at 2:30 in the morning and dread the idea of seeing someone injured or dead. As soon as he could duck under the door closest to him, Thompson entered the building and made the quick jog down the row of trucks to the rack holding his gear bag.

By this time, the sirens of other volunteers were audible as they pulled into the department parking lot. Thompson kicked off his shoes, stepped into the fire boots and pulled up his bunker pants in one smooth move. He grabbed his gear bag then ran over to the fire engine. Thompson pulled open the door to the engine and tossed the gear bag up, before pulling himself in.

Thompson was no sooner seated than William Risto opened the driver door to the engine. Risto was pushing seventy years old, but could keep up with the best of the young guys when fire calls came in. Risto climbed up into the driver seat and flipped the power to the engine on. The red lights outside the truck came on, and a steady beep started chirping in the cab, telling the driver he had the needed power to turn over the engine on this beast. Risto reached down and hit the button with the label start. The diesel motor purred to life, as other firefighters climbed in. One of the three people in the back area yelled up that they were okay to roll out.

The air-powered brakes let off a squawk and the truck started to roll forward. As the engine was clearing the garage door the radio speaker came to life. “Truck7 is 10-76.”

The firefighters in the engine see the old ambulance that now hold the jaws-of-life equipment fly past their doorway toward the highway.

Rice hit the siren switch and picked up the microphone that sits next to that switch. “Engine one 10-76.” A roar replaced the purr of the diesel engine, as William pushed the gas pedal and pulled the fire engine in behind the jaws truck.

The back area of the fire apparatus had an odd quiet to it. The radio speaker was still alive, the other two trucks that pulled out, calling themselves en route to the crash. Chatter from the police arriving at the crash started to come in. The siren of the fire apparatuses could be heard. Yet it was still quiet to the guys putting on their jackets or turning out, as firefighters called it. They were not talking to one another, just pulling up suspenders, hooking all the latches to close jackets, pulling hoods over their heads, and adjusting chin straps on helmets. They all heard the police officer say it was a semi versus a pickup truck. They understand that the pickup is in the ditch, on its side with a person pinned under it.

This crash was almost three miles outside of town. The drive to it took only four minutes, but it felt a lot longer for the firefighters. When they pulled up to the scene, it looked as if a bomb had gone off. There was a semi pulled to the side of the highway, the bumper and grill caved-in. On the north side of the highway about 20 yards behind the semi, in the ditch, part of an older Chevy truck was visible. The asphalt between the semi and the truck was a debris field. One whole axle with both wheels attached sat mixed in with chucks of metal and plastic vehicle parts at the center of the debris field.

Thompson was not part of the jaws team, so he didn’t not rush to the truck to help free the victim stuck under it. Not that it would have mattered. When the Jaws Team crew got to the truck, they found the passenger had been partially ejected out the side window. When the truck flipped on the side, the passenger was basically cut in two. Legs and lower torso in the truck cab, with his head and upper torso outside it. Some flesh and the broken spine holding the two parts together were stuck under the doorframe. Not much the Jaws of Life would be doing here until after police finished their investigation and the coroner said the body could be moved.

When Thompson got out of the fire engine, he began to look for other dangers or other victims from the crash. Like everyone else on the Platteville Fire Department, Thompson had a full time job. His real job happened to be police officer for the Platteville PD. He might respond as a firefighter, but his mindset was always working like a cop. Other firefighters were getting out orange cones and starting to block off the scene, so no cars could drive through. Some firefighters were setting up a detour, to get traffic moving again yet keep them away from the scene. Thompson started looking over the debris field, walking slowly toward the pickup truck. Knowing one person was partially ejected tells a good cop to start looking for the other person or people who got fully ejected.

As Stu got close to that truck axle in the roadway, he saw the body. A second victim was fully ejected out of the pickup truck. The body was face-down, and must have gone through the front windshield from the looks of the shredded clothing.

As Thompson drew near the body, he heard his name called out. “Stuart, don’t worry about him. I checked, and he is long past saving.” Thompson turned toward the voice, which came from the ditch on the opposite side of the highway from the pickup truck. Walking along the ditch line was Officer Graystock, a shift mate and friend of Thompson’s. Graystock was shining his flash light around in the ditch, Thompson knew he was looking to ensure there had not been a third passenger in the truck.

Graystock started to walk back over to the axle and the face-down victim. “Hey buddy, sorry to drag you out on your off night like this.” The two men met near the feet of the body. “Bet you will never guess who this is.”

Thompson looked down at the lifeless body. Overweight, brownish hair and blood was all Thompson saw from his angle; could be anyone from the area. “No clue, Ben. Who is it?”

“It’s Tommy.”

“Tommy who?” Tom was an average enough name, and this dead body’s appearance didn’t trigger recognition in Thompson.

“Oh, you know who—the shithead, lives up on Ridge Street.”

“Shithead on Ridge Street? Not sure I know any Tom from Ridge Street.”

“Yes you do, he only gets arrested in the bars once every month. Heck, we had a domestic with him a few weeks ago. He beat the tar out of his wife. She was in the hospital overnight even. Remember? It took three of us to cuff him even after covering him in pepper spray.”

“Holy shit, you mean Bull, right?”

“Yep. Bull. Whoever gave him that nickname was right on. Big, dumb fuck that he is . . . err . . . he was, I guess I should say.”

“Humm, you know, for all the years I worked here I never heard him called by his real name. I never arrested him, either, I have always been just the back up.”

Graystock looked over at the body and pointed. “Step over here and check out the cut on his neck.”

Thompson stepped over to the other side of the body and looked where Ben’s flashlight was now illuminating. The cut started at the ear, by the upper part of the jawbone. It ran right down the neck, continuing across the collarbone. Meat from the neck and facial muscles was clearly visible, along with open blood vessels. Stu Thompson saw now why Ben Graystock did not feel that first aid would help this man. A cut like that would mean little to no blood left in the victim.

“You know, the night it took three of us to get him into cuffs he was high on meth. From what I hear, Bull here has been collecting ingredients for Avery Spade, for his meth cook operation.” Graystock turned away from the body to look at Stuart. “Want to make a bet that Bull here was driver and being high on meth was the contributing factor to this crash?”

Stuart Thompson might not have known his real name, but he knew enough about Bull to figure that being tweaked out caused this crash. After declining the bet, the two friends went their separate ways to finish up the work at the crash scene. Eventually, Graystock would be relieved by a State Trooper and be able to return to the city. Graystock, who also was a volunteer firefighter, went down to the firehouse to sign in on the attendance sheet. He might not have gone to this call as a firefighter, but he was on scene and might as well make the numbers look good. By 6 o’clock, all the firefighters were released from the scene to go home and try to get a bit more sleep before going about their Sunday plans.
Back to Fire Cop
 
Cops and Stalkers
 
Chapter One

Alcohol—the social lubricant computer geeks need to enjoy their Christmas party. In actuality, it was a holiday party because they were government employees. All the database administrators and information technology staff for the University Wisconsin-Platteville campus were enjoying a night out at the college bars. It was a Monday evening, so not many college kids were out in the bars.

Michelle Schultz wasn’t one to dance, but she was out on the dance floor, mixing in. The thin database administrator was dressed in her typical uniform of Yoga pants and black T-shirt. She sometimes lamented the yoga pants were the only thing that could make her butt look bigger, but preferred comfort over vanity. Her jacket, also black, was nearby. People always assumed she was copying the look of Steve Jobs of Apple Computers. Michelle liked this ensemble due to the practicality of not worrying about a favorite outfit. When every day presented the same outfit, life had one less thing to fret about.

The bar had enough people in it, but Schultz seemed drawn to Nick Padgrove like a magnet. The two were long-time friends. They had gone to college together, and both started working for the UW immediately upon graduation. They were not roommates, but Nick lived upstairs from her in the same apartment building.

Grabbing his buddy, Nick turned Michelle around and started to grind his crotch against her butt. The pop holiday music provided a cool groove for the two, implying they were more than friends; their moves synced as flawlessly as if they’d done this before. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Various coworkers hooted and hollered about the display, a few females close by slapped Nick on his backside. Eventually, the song ended and so did their dance.

Separating herself from him, Michelle offered to buy Nick a drink, as she’d done many times before. At the bar, Michelle held up a folded ten-dollar bill, attempting to attract a bartender, but after a minute of being ignored, Nick took over. A simple wave of the hand and the underdressed busty female bartender was standing in front of them.

“Hey there cutie . . . I need my Jack and Coke topped off, and she needs one more . . . what is that . . . oh . . . yeah . . . Vodka Gimlet.”

The blonde girl smiled and then scampered off to the back bar to make the drinks. Soon enough, she was back quoting a price. Nick handed over the money and walked away from the bar before she could return with the change. Michelle followed Nick eagerly, sipping her drink through the stir stick. She drank it innocuously, as she absorbed the feel of the bar and acknowledged the slight buzz she felt. She looked at Nick and noticed a puzzled look on his face.

“You don’t come out to the bars much, do you?” Nick asked Michelle, looking down at the stir stick.

“No . . . why would you say that?

“Oh, nothing to worry about . . . just you know . . . how you handle yourself in a bar.”

Michelle was somewhat offended by the comment her friend made. “What do you mean how I handle myself? I am having fun just like everyone else.”

“Well yeah . . . it isn’t that . . . just forget it . . .”

“Forget it? What the fuck . . . I can’t ignore a statement like that!” Michelle was annoyed Nick would try to blow her off. She worried that her voice might have been too sharp, but decided the tone was justifiable.

“Never mind . . . it is nothing . . .”

zzz

Nick might be a computer geek, but he was what some called an alpha geek. He was
smart and technically proficient, but also suave. Nick tended to wear designer jeans, trendy button-down shirts, and would put on a tie at work. He had a comfortable casual look, yet it was also very professional-workplace appropriate. While others they worked with looked like slobs, with untucked shirts and ruffled hair, he always looked hip.

Nick often went on dates, with real girls, in the real world. Many of his coworkers would ask him for tips to getting dates. Nick’s answer was always the same. “Log off the computer and go out in public to places girls go to.” This advice often fell on deaf ears.

A couple of ladies walked up to Nick and Michelle. Nick recognized them as working in the college foundation office. Both ladies were young, fresh business school graduates who had participated in internships in the foundation office while attending their respective classes. Nick always laughed at how it seemed the foundation kept such a large staff of young, attractive females. He always suspected there was a statistical correlation between the number of male alumni who were willing to donate to university charities, and the attractiveness of the staff seeking donations.

“Hey, Nick, what brings you out on a Monday night?” one of them, a cute red head, asked, smiling and clutching her glass.

“Hey girl.” Nick had no clue what her name was. “The IT department always gets slow the first part of finals week. So, we do our holiday party on Monday night. This way at the end of the week when all the grades are being entered and systems start to slow down, our staff have recovered from the hangovers and don’t get bogged down. How about you, what brings you ladies out on a Monday evening?”

“Same . . . foundation office is having our holiday party. We are across the street at OT, but a few of us decided to check out what the other bars looked like.” OT was what the locals and students called a bar named Over Time. The bar mostly catered to the Greek organizations, especially the fraternity Sigma Chi and the sorority Delta Zeta, which were known to have money and the inclination to party. In addition to mostly hiring young ladies, the university foundation also seemed to employ based on social nepotism. Much of the staff came from these two Greek chapters, especially the DZs.

“Hi, I’m Michelle, by the way,” Michelle said as she stuck her hand out toward the two ladies.

“Oh . . . sorry, I’m Stacy, and this is Beth. We do donor relations, mostly focusing on the endowment of scholarships.” Stacy was the redhead, still dressed in professional attire like she’d left the office to come right to the bars. Her loose curls fell into her face each time she took a sip, and she pretended not to brush them back. Beth was a tall blonde with straight hair who was more casual, wearing skinny jeans and a fitted polo shirt with the school’s emblem. The lowest button of the shirt was unclasped, and she occasionally touched the pendant on her necklace, lying just above her breasts. By their body language, Nick knew both had an interest in him.

The group chatted about campus politics and local events. Nick purchased a round of drinks for everyone. During the conversation, Stacy seemed to be hitting on Nick, but Nick had his eyes on Beth. His gaze kept drifting down, stealing glances at her large breasts. The polo shirt didn’t show any cleavage, but the form-fitting fabric did accentuate her curves, hinting at a possibly lacy bra underneath.

Michelle wasn’t very active in the conversation, and Nick found himself annoyed she was hanging around. Neither Stacy nor Beth tried to engage her much. Despite picking up on Nick’s nuances of annoyance, for the most part, Michelle was all right with just watching. Nick felt she was going to wreck his chances of bringing one of them, preferably Beth, home.

Eventually, a guy walked into the bar, wearing a polo shirt like Beth’s. He was taller than Nick, and heavier set, as though he might have played football at one point. He walked directly over to the group and interrupted the conversation. Nick recognized him as having some kind of accounting or bookkeeping role with the campus foundation. The guy gruffly said the director of the foundation wanted to present some gifts to the staff and was buying a round of drinks; the girls were being summoned back to OT.

Turning toward his silent friend, Nick commented, “Well, that sucks. I thought maybe I might get some action tonight. We could have asked them back to your place for an after-bar party.”

“Oh, and let me guess . . . you would have even allowed me the redhead while you got stuck with the blonde . . . right?”

“Well, you do seem to have an obsession for that Doctor Who companion with the red hair. What was her name?”

“Amy Pond,” she replied, knowing that he knew.

“Yeah . . . her . . . you still have that photo of her and The Doctor as your desktop wallpaper for your office computer. She isn’t even on the show anymore. Heck, even The Doctor is being played by a new actor this season.”

Nick, for all his suave exterior fashion, was a true geek at heart. His affection for Sci-Fi was something he hid from most. Then again, Nick hid a lot about his personal life, even from those who believed they knew him well. It always seemed to be subtle little things, too, like the bottle of ketamine in his pocket, which he used to drug and rape women. A rumor on campus spoke of a serial rapist. Nick enjoyed knowing the story was true, and it was him.

Someone going into Nick’s home wouldn’t guess he was an expert on all things Star Wars. He didn’t display posters and collectibles like the stereotypical fanboy. But a close inspection of his bookcase would show row upon row of books based in a galaxy far, far away. In public, he tended to hide that side of himself, not out of shame, but rather as an inside joke, not much different from how he hid his rapist side. But in private, Nick was happy to binge watch a trilogy of movies, or get into a verbal debate over which Star Trek captain was the best.

With the girls gone, the two neighbors started to talk to some coworkers. Michelle was a bit more open talking to her fellow database administrators. Then again, their talk was all about systems and dreams of what hardware they could budget for in the next year.

The bar began to empty and time began to wind down. Even with this being a slower time for the IT staff, employees were expected to show their faces in the office at some point the following day. Nick finished his drink and looked at Michelle. “I think we should walk over to OT and see if Beth and Stacy are still there. Maybe we can still get some after bar action going.”

Michelle just shrugged and set her glass on the bar.

Upon their entry to OT, the two found the bar nearly empty. Nick was surprised and angry to see the girls, especially Beth, were gone. He ordered a drink for himself and Michelle anyhow. The half dozen people in the bar all looked like college students, and all had Greek letters shirts on. Nick thought how he and Michelle didn’t exactly fit in with the typical clientele here for a Monday night. The local fraternities were relatively non-cliquey, so no one minded the two nerds who never pledged an organization being in the bar. Some people said hi as they walked from the tables to the bar to buy more drinks. Then again, Nick thought, it is a regular Wisconsin thing for strangers in a bar to say hi. Midwest mannerisms.

Not a lot was said, the pair just stood at the bar in a comfortable silence. Nick was the first to finish his drink. Michelle must have felt obligated to buy him a new drink. She wasn’t even halfway done with her vodka gimlet, so she only purchased the single drink for Nick. Still, the two stood in silence while Nick kept an eye on the door to the bar. He was keeping an eye out for the girls, but they never returned.

After taking a long swig from his drink, Nick announced he was going to use the bathroom. A minute later Nick returned from the bathroom and grabbed his glass off the bar. “I think it is time to get the fuck out of here.” He then drained the liquid from the glass and slammed it to the bar. Before Michelle could respond, Nick was walking out the door.

He sensed she had followed him out the door and was walking a half step behind him.

The walk to their apartment building was less than a mile. Nick could hear Michelle’s steps echoing in the cold night, and her heavy breathing as she trotted to keep up with him. He felt more annoyed, telling himself he wasn’t her babysitter. Their building was close to campus, but was also newer, so the owners kept the rent a little higher. The intent of the owners seemed to be to attract university employees. UW-Platteville had a reputation as a stepping stone campus. Many support staff, such as these two IT professionals, took jobs to gain experience on a smaller campus network, before seeking a job at a larger, more lucrative campus. People looking for just a few years’ job experience were not likely to buy homes, so upscale rental properties were in demand locations.

During the walk home, Nick complained about going home without a potential lay. He could tell his speech was slurred, and he wasn’t walking in a straight line. Michelle suggested the two go to her apartment to have more to drink and watch television. Nick agreed.

Nick was familiar with the layout in Michelle’s kitchen, it was like his own. As she turned on the TV and loaded an online video streaming service, Nick made them drinks from her liquor supply.

Nick had never thought of Michelle in a sexual way. She had always been the girl he worked with and mildly got along with. But, he was drunk and feeling horny. Fingering the bottle of ketamine in his pocket, he debated if he should drug her. Holding the bottle up, he decided he needed a thrill and tipped it into her drink. His buzz must have been stronger than he thought; he emptied the bottle into her glass. Typically, he only put a few drops in a girl’s drink.

zzz

Michelle’s living room furniture consisted of her old college futon acting as a couch, a La-Z-Boy chair, and an entertainment center. After handing Michelle her glass, Nick plopped down on the futon. “This sucks. When we left to go uptown, I thought for sure I was going to get laid tonight. Then we met up with the girls like that.” Nick sipped his drink. “I have been hoping to hook up with Beth for a while now . . .” He sighed. “Such is life . . .”

“Yeah . . . it is what it is . . . maybe next time, right?” She turned toward the television and un-paused a movie she’d selected for them to watch. Nick ignored the lights and sounds of electronics, focusing his attention on the drink he’d just handed her.

As Nick watched, Michelle’s eyes started to glaze over. They chatted, and she drank. Her words were getting muddled.

Eventually, Michelle slouched over on the futon. Nick saw her eyes were open and empty, staring into nothing. On further examination, Nick thought her eyes looked dead.
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