The Sea Switch

Part One:

In The Quiet Of Night

In the wee, small hours of Saturday, June 7th,  1958, two connected crimes were under way in the Southern California citiy of Long Beach.

     A short, thin man in his mid-forties, wearing gloves and dressed in a black sweat shirt and black pants, with a black, knitted cap on his head, had just used a small pry bar to open the office door of a dry cleaning establishment on North Long Beach Boulevard.  Working swiftly, he located the wall-mounted box that contained keys to the dry cleaning service trucks.  Taking a set of keys that had a tag indicating they were to a vehicle “4,” the thief made his way to the cashier’s counter, reached under it and removed a metal cash box.   Breaking open the box with the same pry bar he had used to gain entry to the office, he took the petty cash he knew he’d find there – a hundred dollar “bank” – and stuffed it into the left pocket of his pants.  Then he deliberately made a mess of some paper work in the office, turned over a chair, knocked off a small fan on the manager’s desk, tried to make it look like teenage vandals had paid a visit. When he was satisfied with the effect he was trying to create, he made his way back to the rear door of the facility and out into the parking area where the company kept its service trucks.  Finding the vehicle marked “4,” a van with a sliding side door, he got in, started it up, and  drove up to the gate he planned to leave by.  He looked to his left at the black Cadilac parked half a block down the street but saw no sign of any other traffic on the street.  He rolled through the gate and turned right.

    The Cadilac quickly moved up to the gate the van had just exited and the driver resecured the gate with a new used chain and pad lock. Until Monday morning there was little chance of anyone realizing that the gate had been tampered with. Then he got back into the Caddie and swiftly caught up to the van.

    Within minutes they flowed onto Highway 710 and continued until just short of Compton. Turning off the freeway they drove into area of deserted buildings, many still showing damage from the last race riot and general deterioration of the impoverished community. One of the buildings had been a service station and garage. The van pulled into the unkept driveway with the Cadillac right behind it. The driver of the Caddy got out and unlocked the garage, the doors of which opened easily for the van driver had serviced them only two nights before. Now the thief pulled the van into the garage, followed by the Cadillac. Sliding the doors of the garage closed, both men were certain that no one had observed them. Neither the thief nor his lookout knew that at that moment another crime was being committed.

****     ****     ****     ****

    A nude woman examined herself in a bedroom dresser mirror and squealed with pleasure at the sight she saw.  The necklace was stunning. “Oh, Darling, it’s just beautiful! You’re so good to me. Thank you, Sweetheart.”

    Perhaps, if the necklace had not been so beautiful – the reflection of it in the mirror against her creamy, coffee-colored skin holding all of her attention – she might have seen the sudden movement behind her and dodged the blow that fractured her skull.  As it was, save for the sound of the blackjack’s impact with her temple and the thump of her body as she fell to the floor, she made no sound as she died.

    The naked man who only moments before had given her such pleasure with the gift, and before that, he was sure, with the best fuck she had ever had, now reached down and stripped the jewelry from around her neck. He then set about getting dressed and removing all evidence of his frequent presence in the house which had been bought under a false name, and anything that might easily identify his dead playmate.  When he had gathered most of the items that could be connected to either of them in a overnight bag he placed it carefully by the kitchen door he expected to leave by. Next he went to the garage where he retrieved a three gallon can of gasoline he had stored there several days earlier and took it to the bedroom where the dead woman, still surprisingly lovely, lay crumbled on the floor. He intended to leave nothing behind to connect him or the dead woman to this hide-a-way.

    With time to kill, he retreated to the living room, poured himself a moderate shot of bourbon, and sat down to wait for the security patrol service to make his final round of the complex for the night.  After 2:00 am, anyone needing access without the key code to the outer gate, would have to ring someone’s home and wake them up.


    To help him pass the time, the man decided to watch a tape of the wild sex he and the woman had together only an hour before.  He decided that when he was through viewing the kinky romp they’d had, he would dismantle the concealed camera setups he used to photograph the young women he brought here without their knowledge. As for the three dozen tapes of his collection, he thought there was no need to deny himself the pleasure of occasionally reviewing the videos of the delightful, unsuspecting sluts he’d brought here, nor occasionally viewing the six or so tapes he had of the woman he’d just killed, taken over the two years she had been one of his favorite toys and immensely important to him in other ways.

    When he had allowed enough time for the security guard to clear the complex, he set about executing the plan he had so carefully worked out.  He put all of his tapes into the case he had prepared for them and took it and the overnight bag to his car in the garage. He went around the house, locking all the doors and windows leaving only the exit he planned to use unsecured.  Then, assured that all was quiet on the street and no one was likely to see his car when he drove out of the garage, he returned to the bedroom where he liberally doused the body of his victim with gasoline, being careful not to splash any on himself, turned on the jets of the decorative gas fireplace she had admired so much, lit a short candle that he placed near her body and, locking the kitchen door to the garage behind him, quickly backed out of the driveway and drove his car a hundred yards down the road.

    He had to be sure the gasoline would do its thing and set up a roaring blaze hot enough to destroy any meaningful evidence of his crime. Although only a few minutes, it seemed like a long time to him, long enough to make him wonder if the candle had somehow failed to ignite the fume-filled room and gas-splashed body.  Then he saw the first flame, followed by the eruption he had expected.

    As he drove away from the house no one knew he owned,  for it had been bought by the dead woman who had signed all papers relating to it, keeping to the legal speed limit, he felt elated at how well it had gone.  Exactly the way he had planned.  Oh, the police would eventually figure out that someone had been murdered, but they would play hell of easily identifying her body, and it would take time to connect it to him even if they eventually did.  He was, he thought, in the clear and safe.  And should remain that way long enough to execute the larger plan he had developed over the past six years.

    Turning on the car radio to  listen to his favorite Mozart sonata over the local classical music station, he drove to his home on Signal Hill overlooking the City of Long Beach and its bustling harbor, feeling extremely pleased with himself.

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