The Knight Prowler a Novella by John G. Bluck by John G. Bluck - Read Online

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The Knight Prowler a Novella - John G. Bluck

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I am especially grateful to my wife, Sheryl, for correcting my grammatical and spelling errors.

My friend, Michael Mewhinney, served as a beta reader for this mystery novella, The Knight Prowler. He gave me excellent suggestions, and I used all of them.

Of course, any errors in this book are mine and mine alone. I hope my readers will enjoy this story.

Chapter 1 -- The Date with Lisa

I rolled out of bed early at six that Tuesday night in late October 2047 to get ready for my 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. shift. My usual gig was trolling the Bay Area for scenes of villainy that I could record for my employer, KGO-TV News, Channel 7, San Francisco.

As the nighttime crime reporter, I was usually all by my lonesome. I was correspondent, cameraman, light man, audio man, and technician. The difference that night was that I was going to have a lovely, blond passenger ride along with me in my cruiser, an electric Land Rover.

I usually spent a lot of time scouting around Oakland. People often asked me if I carried a piece, but I didn't own a firearm. Crooks rarely were stupid enough to hassle police or the news media back then.

In fact, one Oakland cop, John Crosby, once told me that he would personally do-in my killer, if anybody wasted me. What good would that do me? I had asked Crosby.

It's a deterrent, Crosby said. They know that I'd take them out, if they even tried to kill you. Don't worry, buddy.

I put on clean corduroy trousers, my best blue flannel shirt, and a new pair of black Nike shoes. Usually, I wore a more comfortable, though admittedly, stinky pair of sneakers, but I didn't want to look or smell too bum-like to Lisa Grotz, my rider.

I first met Lisa at Blackie's Bar in the City. Almost every evening after the six o'clock news for the last year we'd seen each other in the bar. We played slop pool, darts, and talked a lot. Maybe she took a liking to me the first time we met because that booze hall was dark, and she didn't see the acne scars on my face. Even so, she should have noticed that I was horse-like with a long nose, stringy brown hair, and a six-two frame. Frankly, I've always thought that I look like Ichabod Crane, tall and lanky. Despite my shortcomings, she seemed to like me.

Blackie's was frequented by TV reporters and some electronic print journalists. Just as today, most of the TV folk that October were pretty people, unlike me.

Lisa was my opposite, beautiful. She was one of the weather forecasters at KRON-TV, Channel 4, San Francisco. She stood five-foot-five and had blond, wavy hair that came down to her shoulders. She spoke with a slight Brooklyn accent. Well-endowed, she wore skirts and dresses that flaunted her figure. You'd never see her wearing slacks. She balanced on sharp-pointed high heels. When she walked, men followed her every movement.

You ask, how in the world would a fancy lady like Lisa hook up with a loser-geek like me? Well, I think it's because I was in the news business, too. Also, I was non-threatening because I wasn't attractive like the slick news anchors who were always undressing her with their eyes.

Just before I got to KRON's front door about half past seven that night, I called Lisa's cell.

It's me, Rick. I'm outside, I said. Just like you predicted, it's chilly, clear, and a great night to see the Milky Way from the dark boonies outside Livermore.

It'll be fun, Lisa said. I hope you don't mind. I brought along somebody else, too.

What do you mean? I asked, thinking she'd brought a chaperon. I took a quick swig of Jack Daniels from my hip flask.

Charlie's with me, she said. My miniature poodle.

Can he hold it? I asked. I didn't want a dog, even a small one, relieving himself in my vehicle.

He can last all day without an accident, she said. Sorry. My dog sitter got sick at the last minute.

That's okay, I said. I was glad the weather had cleared up for us after Monday's heavy rain. I looked forward to showing Lisa the stars. For once I hoped the night would be quiet with no big, breaking stories like murders or massive fires.

I'm off for a week and a half, Lisa said, so you don't have to worry about keeping me up late in case you have to cover a story.

Good, I said. See you soon.

Chapter 2 -- Lisa Rides Along

I pulled to the curb. Lisa Grotz exited KRON's front door. She led her poodle on a leash that was way too long for the small dog. It had brownish-white, curly fur and looked especially tiny next to Lisa.

Lisa got in the front passenger seat. Charlie hopped onto her lap and then leaped into the back seat next to my mini-cam, which I'd put there to make room for Lisa up front. I hoped he wouldn't claw the camera controls.

You sure have a lot of scanners, Lisa said, as she gazed at the flashing lights on the three radios I had bolted into my dashboard. They were searching the police and other emergency channels for two-way radio calls.

Yeah, I said. I need 'em because nobody at the station is monitoring the radios at the assignment desk after midnight.

How long have you been doing this? she asked me.

About six years. I started at KGO just after I got out of journalism school at Northwestern University. Suddenly my mind wandered, and I began to think about how pale I was for a Californian. Like an owl, I was active mostly at night. My colleagues called me the Knight Prowler in the newsroom behind my back. I didn't like that, but what can you do? Snapping back to reality, I said, I need to get us to Livermore before a big story breaks. Otherwise, we might not have time to see the stars.

That'd be okay, too, she said. I always wanted to see what being out in the street is really like. Lisa smiled and patted my right shoulder as I stepped on the accelerator.

Chapter 3 -- The Police

Traffic was fairly light. I liked to speed -- still do. In about an hour I exited Interstate 580 onto Livermore Avenue and went north until it became Manning. There were ranches along the sides of the country road, and the night was coal black except for the occasional light that came from houses and headlights.

I turned right onto Morgan Territory Road, near the Contra Costa County Line.

"I can