Crime Suspense

Instead of the breathtaking coastal scenery, he fixated on the road. He was afraid to speed up in case one of the wheels fall of the car in the feet-deep potholes. That’s when he realised that he should have hired a pickup truck, instead of this fancy 4x4. He convinced himself that even potholes were part of this adventure and so he decided to embrace all it.  

His psychologist advised him to get away for a couple of months. She said that studies had proven that a change of environment was best to move on after a stressful event. The Lollipop killer, as they called him in the media, murdered Linda, her late girlfriend. He covered her eyes with duck tape and tied her to a thick pipe in his own house’s basement. He had attacked her with a hammer that distorted her face almost to be unrecognisable. A blood clot underneath the skull caused her death as a result of the severe blunt trauma to her head.

He stuck a red, strawberry flavoured lolly into her mouth. Hence the name he got given. By the media. 

Rick only found her after solving a riddle that he had sent to the police station. He loved playing sick games with Rick, but somehow, he was always one step ahead of him and the police. He got hooked on the thrill of the chase, like a cat and a mouse. 

As an experienced detective, he knew well his type. Serial killers are intelligent and love the attention. And he didn’t stop.

He was just waiting for the opportunity to lash out again. 


Candice Belmore yawned, while she dusted the shelves in Mr. Brown's superstore. The store was a typical coastal town shop selling cheap souvenirs and daily essentials to locals and the tourists.

On most days he was fiddling with the books in the store room, keeping to himself. Other times, he annoyed Candice with lectures about life and marriage. She wished that he’d stop talking. Every time she told him to shut up, she felt instant guilt for being rude and ungrateful.  

On that day, he left soon after opening the shop to visit his uncle in the hospital. He turned 71 years old the week before, and had fallen off his own roof while he was fixing the gutters. The silly old man should have known better, she thought. To kill the hours left of her unplanned shift, she re-counted the stock of the cigarettes for the tenth time.

She wasn’t bothered by the terrifying news. She also wondered who came up with that stupid name for a serial killer. The headline said Lollipop killer is still on the loose’. ‘Local authorities confirmed, that so far, five women, all in their early twenties, average height, blonde, and blue eyes were murdered in the past 18 months. The man who is currently at custody, claims to be innocent.’ She heard a silent 'uh-mmm', then picked a blush shade of pink nail polish off the shelf. Mr. Brown wouldn’t notice for sure. She was much more interested in the latest fashion.  

She was watching the people passing by the shop headed to the beach. She should have been there with them, she thought. Cathy, her best friend invited Candice to the market this weekend. She promised to bring along her cousins, Ben and Danny to spend the day with them. 

‘I gotta go now. See you later at the club. And don’t be late!’ - she hung up. 

‘Can I help you?’ - Candice didn’t bother to look up as she was busy with filing her long nails. 

He could reach the bell above the entrance, he was that tall, skinny and athletic. His face was bony, sun-tanned and covered with couple days old stubble. Candice stood up and put the nail filer away in the drawer, next to the odd change. The tan leather boots completed this urban-cowboy-like look.

As he entered the shop, he tipped his tan hat. His silky brown hair stuck to the sides of his head. No one ever greeted her with a 'ma'am' before. He headed to the fridge packed with cool drinks and beer. He wasn’t saying much, instead, he checked out the shop from top to bottom and from shelf to shelf. 

He must have been in his forties, she wondered. She always fancied older man that drove her mother insane. At times, Grace was too bothered with what other people would say or think of her daughter.

She tucked her vanilla blonde hair behind the ears then pulled the front of the white shirt a couple of inches lower. To highlight her feminine curves, she posed exactly as the model on the magazine cover. She couldn’t stop herself from blushing.

‘Is that all?’ - she asked, and packed the cans of beers and salty crisps in the paper bag. She dropped the coins on the floor and when she bent down to pick them up, she banged her head standing up. She felt like an idiot.

He glanced on the newspaper headline. ‘Who would think that things like this happen here?’ - he continued, ‘I mean look at that.’ - he opened his arms and pointed at waves.  

‘I guess.’ - she shrugged, ‘You here on vacation?’ 

‘Sort of.’ - he opened the ice cold beer and had a long swig of it.

‘And your wife? I mean, and your family?’ - she embarrassed herself. 

‘No. She is dead.’ 

‘I am sorry.’ 

‘What’s your name?’ - he leaned forward, close enough that she could smell him. A scar was stretching from the corner of his left eye to the top of the ear. Her heart was racing. 

‘Oh, hi, I am Candice. Nice to meet you.’ - they shook hands. She didn’t want his firm grip to ever let her go.

‘Do you live here?’ - he asked. 

‘Yeah, a couple of blocks away, close to Spooky’s fish restaurant.’ 

‘I see. Is the motel down the road any good? 

‘I’d not stay there. It’s boring. Check out the houses you can rent on the beach!’ - she perked up. 

‘I’am afraid they ain’t in my budget!’ - he scoffed. 

She went up to the cupboard next to the entrance door. She pulled the cupboard out and slid the cork board out, ‘Here. It broke a while ago.’

He grabbed the advertising board with one hand and swung it on the top of the counter. A couple of minutes later, with the help of some nails, glue and a drill, it looked better than ever before.  

Not handsome, but handy too, she thought and unbuttoned the top button on the shirt when he didn’t look. 

‘Well, that’s that.’ - he smiled, and put his hat back, ‘See ya around.’ 

‘Yeah.’ - she said as she was staring at his every footstep. 

‘Hey, you left these here.’ - she shouted from inside and ran to give the smaller brown paper bag to him.

He didn’t even left the shop when Candice already dialled Cathy to tell her about her flirtatious encounter with a stranger. She spent the rest of her shift daydreaming of this handsome stranger new to town. 

Little she knew that those were her last hours of her life. 


Two days later, after countless hours of searching, there was still no sign of this young woman. Detective Hawkins had seen Candice grown up to a young lady, losing her felt the same for him as he was the father. He swore on everything to the parents that he would bring her back alive. 

Officer Whitman and Detective Hawkins had been up working for almost 48 hours straight. They knocked on every door to see if anyone had heard or seen something suspicious. 

The tension was rising among the locals to find her, and the police had no lead left to pursue.  

The media already speculated that the Lollipop killer was in Gilroy Shore. As much as Detective Hawkins wanted to deny it, this thought was the first one crossing his mind when he heard of Candice's disappearance. She fit into the category of women he used to be kill. 

‘She spent an awful lot of hours on the phone. We always argued about that.’ - Frank intervened. 

‘Okay. Do you know who she was on the phone to?’ 

‘I heard once, it was definitely a man’s voice, which isn’t surprising. Candice was very popular.’ - he wiped his eyes. 

‘Hawkins?’ - Officer Whitman entered the room in a rush without knocking, ‘He is here.’ 

‘I’ll be back, don’t go anywhere.’

‘Detective Rick Short. NYPD.’ - he extended his hand with confidence. He was wearing a khaki over-all and rubber boots. He didn’t look anything like a detective from New York.  

‘Aren’t you the guy renting the place from the Whitakers, down the lake?’

‘That’s me, yes. I prefer peace and quiet.’

‘I see.’

‘I was out on the boat, but was on my way back anyways. They talked about a massive storm in the weather forecast from tonight.’

’You don’t want to mess with the weather here.’

’I see.’ - Rick Short was born and raised in big cities, moving from one state to another due to his father’s job. He was a scientist and university lecturer.  

‘He is here. The Lollipop killer, he is in Gilroy Shore.

‘For real? You don’t look like a crystal-gazer.’ - he gave him a frown as he dragged a long one on his cigarette. Detective Hawkins and Officer Whitman took a quick look at him, then to each other and burst out in laughter.

‘Just hear me out.’ - he stepped closer to him. 

‘I’am all ears.’ 

‘Candice Belmore perfectly fits the women he was hunting for years, 1971, Kansas City, then 1973, Rogers in Arkansas, and 198——

‘’84, Enfield Connecticut. Yes, I am familiar with the Lollipop killer’s history.’- he was basking in his own glory in front of Officer Whitman.

‘Another riddle.Look here.’ - Rick Short explained the writing that Detective Hawkins couldn’t make out earlier. He thought it was some kind of a prank. 

‘So you think that he has Candice?’ 

‘Yes. But we must solve the riddle, otherwise’ - he paused, ‘Candice will end up as the other women.’

He moved closer to Rick Short, ‘Do you think that she is still alive?’

‘I don’t know, probably. But this is personal for him.’ - he pointed at himself, ‘He doesn’t want Candice, he wants me.’ 


Detective Hawkins swore an awful lot that night, in front of his team. He became angry and frustrated as the hours ticked by. The riddle was much harder to solve than he thought, and by then Candice was gone more than the critical 72 hours. He grabbed another cup of coffee and went to his office to let off some steam. 

Gilroy Shore came into the limelight: someone leaked out that Candice had been taken by the Lollipop Killer. The feds made Detective Hawkins felt uncomfortable in his own space, so he decided to keep a low key and carry on with his job.

He glanced at the letter on his desk, sent by Human Resources. It said black and white that he could choose to retire now or a year later. He did his 30 off years of service, he was eligible for a nice package and pension. His wished to look forward for these years, to relax, to travel with his wife that he’d always wanted. But it was too late, she left him years ago for a younger man, an accountant from Jersey. A Predictable life with a 9-5 job, every evening and weekend, he was at home with her which Toni couldn’t possibly give her. He felt guilt to sacrifice his marriage for work. Was it all worth it, he wondered. 

‘Any solution yet?’ - Officer Whitman asked the team. 

‘I got this, look.’- Rick walked him through his logic, moving his index finger from letter to letter in a zig-zag. 

Detective Hawkins hated riddles even when he was a kid. He said it out loud, perhaps that helped, ‘I can run, but I can’t have legs, I can fall but——

‘Serene cove!’ - Rick exclaimed, ‘it must be that! Look!’ 

Detective Hawkins wished he cracked the coded message, but one thing was the most important, to find Candice. And find her still alive. 


Reporters and curious residents were camping outside the police station for days. Like bees to honey, as Detective Hawkins stepped outside, reporters rushed up to the porch.  

'Detective Hawkins, any news about Candice Belmore yet? Have you found her body? Can it be the Lollipop killer? What is it is the Lollipop killer? Do you think it was someone local or a stranger?'

Detective Hawkins put his hand up and jumped into his car, followed by Rick. He put the sirens on full blast, and sped to Serene Cove on the coastal road. 

‘Crazy reporters! Can’t stand them!’ - he said, ‘Want one?’

‘No thanks. I quit.’

‘Mm-mmm.’ - he muttered, ‘I shouldn’t let you ride along.’

‘Is that so.’ - Rick looked at the scenery than keeping an eye contact. 

‘I did some digging.’ - he said, ‘Why did they suspend you?’ 

‘Long story and we haven’t got time.’ - he remembered the day when he turned up drunk day after day at the office, right after Linda’s funeral. He was besides himself. 

‘Okay, but I am not saying nothin’ if get into shit because of you.’ - said Detective Hawkins. If he could pick one thing of his wish-list as a police officer or a detective, it would have been to catch a serial killer. He decided to give this stranger a chance.

‘You need closure. I need the guy.’ - Detective Hawkins continued.

‘Deal.’ - the detectives shook hands, ‘Which one you want?’ - Rick opened the small paperboy, full of candies, including lollipops. 

‘Very funny.’


‘Call for back up, now!’ - Rick whispered to Detective Hawkins.

He shook his head, ‘I cannot let you go alone.’ 

‘I know you don’t know me, just trust me for God’s sake!’ His expression hardened. 

He climbed up and around, then descended rock by rock from the steep cliff. He had to hurry because the high tide was arriving within an hour. He heard Candice whimpering, and the killer laughing loud, pacing up and down in the dark, wet creek. 

Rick recognised that boisterous laugh of the Lollipop killer. There was no doubt, he was back to finish that he had started years ago. He snuggled up close to the wall of the cave, and inch by inch, shuffled closer to Candice. 

‘Just let her go! You want me, not her!’

‘Oh hello Rick! What a lovely surprise! I see you still love riddles, oh I remember, in school, you were always the first one to solve them! Oh you little nerd, you!’ - he went behind Candice, stroking her cheek with a hunting knife.

‘Stop, we can talk this through!’ - he moved a couple of inches closer to him. 

‘There is nothing to talk about, you betrayed me!’- he slid Candice’s upper arm.

‘Let’s talk. Police is on its way, you can’t run away anymore.’

‘I never wanted to run, but you ignored me. I was one of your cases, huh? Let me tell, you owe me, and you owe a lot!’ - he cut the ropes on her wrists and ankles.

‘Then explain now, I am here.’ 

While the killer broke down in tears, Candice managed to escape. Rick felt relieved that he saved her life. 

‘Remember when `I chose you to be on my team every single time? Remember when no one, only me stood up for you? Remember the once I got expelled from school because I hit the boy who attacked you? Does it fuckin’ ring a bell?’ 

Rick just stood there, saying nothing. He was searching in his memory to find out who he was from the past. He had flashbacks came at him like a fast train rushing through hundreds of kilometres. He was Kevin Spencer from school. 

They used to be friends, but never became best friends in school. He had always been an outsider, a little weird in the class. And he tried, and tried, to fit in with the cool kids. And he failed, and failed, year after year. 

‘I wanted to be like you. I wanted to be you. And then be with you!’ - he came so close, Rick felt the warmth on his face, brought on by anger and rage. 

’Well, it only took 5 women’s life to make you see me again, speak to me. Their death are on your conscious!’

‘Shut up!’ - Rick shouted, ’Why Linda? Why?’

‘I wanted you to feel the pain. I wanted to hurt you so badly that you never forget the feeling, ever!’ - he lifted his index finger up. 

‘So what more do you want from me?’

‘You need to die. You’re evil.’ - he put the gun to his throat.’it’s my mission to do. The water will wash you away of the face of the Earth and no one ever will find you!’ - he looked at the tide fast approaching. He enjoyed the power and control over Rick. 

Detective Hawkins called for back-up and surrounded the cliff up and down, and around with no escape for the killer. He descended with some of the other, younger officers in a suit. The ambulance attended to Candice’s minor injuries. He was unstoppable until he saved Rick’s life and caught the infamous killer. 

It took only one bullet, aimed at his right shoulder to let Rick go. He fell on the wet sand and his his head to a rock. He was crawling out of the cove in handcuffs. 

‘Hey. Thanks.’ - Rick shook Detective Hawkins’ hand, ‘You’ve done it.’ 

‘Ah, it was team work.’ - he chuckled and shouted to the killer in the back of the 4x4, ‘Oy! you forgot this!’ Detective Hawkins pulled a lolly out of the bag, ’Suck this asshole!’ 

February 02, 2022 18:41

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