Most are not mysterious. Their alarmed calls brought an ambulance and the Beaumont police.
In middle age he had re-invented himself as a landman, a familiar occupation in South Texas, easing the exploitation of mineral rights on private property for gas and oil companies. He is all cop.
Without anyone in adjacent rooms hearing a thing? When he got this surprising news, Detective Apple called Brown immediately for an explanation. The only mystery here appeared to be medical, and it was likely a minor mystery at that. Nothing disturbed in the room. He had checked out on his own terms.
So this was not a drunk. Detective work was usually a matter of doing the obvious—interviewing the drunk boyfriend with gunpowder on his hands, or finding the neighborhood drug dealer who was owed money. He is a short and very fit man with graying hair that he wears combed straight up in spikes. Over the next weeks and months Apple chased down every angle he could imagine to explain the death of Greg Fleniken.
At the end of the day he would slide off his worn brown leather boots and line them up by the suitcase, drop his faded jeans to the floor, and put on lightweight cotton pajama bottoms. Most evenings he never left the room. A case like this was a once-in-a-career event.
Susie was a delightfully offbeat southern belle, buxom and pretty and warm and oh so deferential but also, in that time-honored southern way, stubborn as a tick. Susie and Michael later told him that Greg never went to a doctor. Greg Fleniken traveled light and lived tidy. The doctor found small lacerations there, and on the stomach and liver, as well as two broken ribs and a hole in the right atrium of his heart. No blood or obvious wounds. Something had hit him hard.
But the problem with the hard cases is that they are indeed hard. Dirty clothes went on the closet floor. He was so nice she had married him twice —first as kids and then, after parting ways for a of years, again in middle age. He is one of those men who never stop working.
Women seeking man in beaumont
This was not a philanderer or a man who got into fights. His brother and co-workers said he had been universally liked in their company.
Slender, with a close-cropped white beard and the weathered skin of a lifelong outdoorsman, he had partnered with his brother, Michael, in a thriving oil-land leasing business based in this small city east of Houston. A certain amount of partly digested food had been torn from his intestines. A photographer snapped pictures to make a record of the scene, and the body was driven by a transport service to the Jefferson County medical examiner for an autopsy. He was a local character, part of the legal landscape in Jefferson County, and a respected one. They found a middle-aged man dead on the rug, prone and doubled over, a spent cigarette cupped delicately between two stiff fingers of his left hand.
As a young man he had worked as a chief engineer on oceangoing vessels, spending months at sea.
A “natural-causes thing”
There are not that many murders in Beaumont. How does a man get beaten so severely that ribs crack, inner organs tear, and the heart ruptures, all without ificant damage to his torso?
She was heartbroken and furious at the same time. At some point during the loud, computer-generated showdown at the end of the film, amid all the fake violence, Greg was struck from nowhere with a very real and shattering blow.
The story his body told grew more intriguing. If you enjoy working a stubborn whodunit, which Apple does, then this one was an exciting challenge. He was a stubbornly independent man, suspicious of authority and unmoved by the modern passion for health and fitness.
Brown was thin and bald on top and had a spray of unruly white hair on the sides that gave off a mad-scientist vibe.
And there was no answer to the all-important question: Why? Greg appeared to have had no enemies. She had been in her 20s, a singer in a rock band, when she met Greg. Shirts he wanted to keep unwrinkled hung above. After so many years on the road, he would leave his rolling suitcase open on the floor of his hotel room and use it as a drawer. There was no answer, so they got the hotel manager to open it. A blow so violent it would blind a man with pain. When Brown opened the front of the torso he discovered a surprising amount of blood and extensive internal damage.
This was interesting. It was easy to conclude that his choices had simply caught up with him. Susie was using a computer program to file for a tax extension. He managed to get off the bed and move toward the door before he fell, legs splayed and face-first. Where death was concerned, in this corner of Texas, Dr.
On the table before him was a year-old Caucasian male who appeared to be in decent shape. The condition of his insides reflected severe trauma: Fleniken had been beaten to death, or crushed. Susie was ready to believe it. Greg had never been seen down at the bar.
The body in room
Toiletries were in the pockets of a cloth folding case that hooked onto a towel rack in the bathroom. His wife had been a cop; he met her on the job. The hotel was just off the cloverleaf outside Beaumont. He went to his room early in the evening and usually stayed there by himself until morning.
Apple talked a lot to Susie. He did everything fast; he even talked fast.
Tommy Brown had a time-tested method. He would have bled out in less than 30 seconds. He smoked and broke off candy bits while watching TV. Greg was accustomed to solitary nights. After methodical inspection, the only marks Brown found on the body were a one-inch abrasion on his left cheek, where his face had hit the rug, and, curiously, a half-inch laceration of his scrotum. He would crank up the air conditioner—he liked a cool room at night—and sit on the bed, leaning back on two pillows propped against the headboard. And how could such a rumble have taken place in the hotel room without a thing being toppled or even disturbed?
Room was stuffy and exceptionally warm.
Greg was the nicest man she had ever met. She was shocked and grief-stricken but she accepted that, for Greg, sudden death was a possibility. She clearly adored him. But there was little here to interest him. There were none. He was all business—crisp, efficient, and confident. He did not socialize or drink a lot or pick up women. He had also taken a blow to the chest so severe it had caused lethal damage.
It took him through the stink of the big ConocoPhillips refinery at Lake Charles, a forest of piping, giant tanks, and towering chimneys. The doctor told him that the man in had suffered the kind of severe internal injuries he was more used to seeing in crash victims, or in someone found under a heavy fallen object. Those staying in nearby rooms had heard nothing. The sack itself was swollen and discolored, and around the wound was a small amount of edema fluid. When he failed to turn up at the office, two of his co-workers drove over to the hotel and knocked on his door.
Detective Scott Apple showed up a little more than an hour later. Unless Greg had been beaten to death elsewhere, and his body had been returned to the room and carefully placed on the rug, nothing about the scene added up to a crime. At the hotel, the police saw the death as routine. He had chain-smoked his entire adult life and had the nagging cough to prove it. It took him 45 minutes to conduct a postmortem exam, inspecting a body inside and out, measuring and weighing organs, all the while describing what he found and noting the metrics that fleshed out the official form.
He did not exercise. In fact, she took some solace in it. No of a break-in or struggle. Brown concluded that the wound to his genitals likely had been caused by a hard kick. Considerately, to avoid soiling the bedspread, he would lay out a clean white hand towel, on which he placed his ashtray, cigarette pack, lighter, BlackBerry, the TV remote, and a candy bar. The bruising had spread up through the groin area and across the right hip. But about six months into it, he was stuck.
He neither drank nor ate to excess, but did both freely. That Wednesday night, watching his movie, Greg got an e-mail from his wife, Susie, shortly after seven.