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Short Stories by: Anthony Davis
last edited on Friday, July 15, 2005, 12:59 AM, CDST

The Case of The Balloon Man Killer

I have to admit it Tony, the fact that there have been so many reports of UFO's in the last week just over the Richland area and have been so many missing persons reports filed over the past 5 days. I have to admit, this one is very strange. David Swanson and Michael Pierpont looked over a state-wide map that had red flag pins locating all the reports that seemed to lie within a 200 mile perimeter.

Tony Franks told his 2 colleagues in the department that covered the unsolved crimes task force unit that his assumption, however strange and perhaps unbelievable was that they should go check out the local hot air balloon market and try to determine a connection with night time ballooning and the UFO sightings lately, however he had not yet made any connection with missing persons, but had a hunch that their answers would lie somewhere in the statistics at the balloon retailer.

Telescopic photos taken by a few amateur UFO buffs late last Thursday did reveal what appeared to be a balloon shaped object just over Oak dale but it's altitude was measured by investigators at the Scented University to be far too high for a normal balloon ride, in that it would be too dangerous unless the individuals flying in it had special protection and a ready supply of fresh oxygen. That is why Tony Franks and his 2 team players had to find out if any link could be made between the objects and the sale of balloons in the past month or a year.  In fact there might be a slight risk of a mid air collision with commercial jets at certain altitudes, another reason why normal altitudes of ballooning for pleasure is a mere 500 feet, or less, and the object sighted over Oak dale was estimated at nearly 5000 feet, and was said to be on a vertical incline that would put it to a very dangerous altitude.

At 7:AM Wednesday, in the suburb of Preston Hollow, Tony, David and Michael entered the only  balloon retailer within 32 miles of the inner city , called the Fly High Club Balloon Warehouse. The man at the counter seemed anxious to try to sell us a hot air balloon, but when we told him we were investigative agents for the police he acted like he suddenly lost his best friend.

I need you to do us a special favor all right? Okay, how can I help you? I need to look at your sales records for the past year, and as a matter of fact, you can start by telling us who your last ten customers are. Okay, anything to help law enforcement. What is it all about any way? Nothing, this is just a routine investigation for statistical purposes. We are working with local air port traffic controllers to reduce accidents in private plane and ballooning safety compliance, that's all. Oh! the guy at the counter replied, as if he was just plain half asleep. Have a seat Mr. Franks, I will be back in about 5 minutes with the files you need to go over. You and your partners can help yourself to coffee and doughnuts if you like.

Tony, David and Michael did have some coffee and doughnuts. It would save them gas and time for afterwards, which is just what they had planned on doing after this stop. When the man came back with the files, he admitted this: There have been an extra 11 balloons sold to one single person, who's name is: Devon Von Brugenheim, who lives in Seattle Washington. he said he was just passing through to go to a balloon fest in Lake land Florida, but thought he had enough room in his truck to pack the 11 balloons since he said he liked our prices. And just how much does a balloon go for these days Mr.? Oh my name is Jerry Minner. Okay, Mr. Minner, how much does one cost? Well, they go for as little as 4,000.00 and as high as 15,000.00 depending on the extra equipment, and oxygen tanks, and communications and size and altitude configuration. Oh, I see, so some balloons can go higher than others? Yep, but the ones I sold to this guy Devon from Seattle were bottom of the line, and I let him have all 11 of them for 2,500.00. They aren't very good for high altitudes, like the kind used to literally go around the globe. These particular balloons were just for local joy riding at parks and festivals. I made copies. If you need anything else from me, this is my  phone number. Thanks. We'll get back with you if we need you.

They left the Fly High Club Balloon Warehouse and headed to their next destination: the home of a missing person: a certain Mike Shakewell in the upper east side in a the suburb of Berkeley. This man was reported missing by his wife, 8 days ago. The home of Mr. and Mrs. Shakewell was a 2 story brick home in a well to do neighborhood. It was learned later that Mr. Shakewell was a member of an organization called: White Birds of Justice. It  might be a racially motivated organization, thought Tony. The woman was very upset with her husband's disappearance. Her husband's company called looking for him. Nobody knew where he was. He was complaining of getting some hate mail on the internet lately. So, they gathered up a copy on a floppy of the most recent e-mails that were of a blatant nature to review a the downtown office later in the evening. They talked a little bit and jotted down a few notes, and then left the worrisome woman after thanking her for her hospitality, once again,  but not coffee, just tea and cucumber finger sandwiches. Tony was gonna have to get on a diet pretty soon if this kept up. Tony reached for a Lansoprazole.

to be continued.............




 



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