Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Clearing - Chapter 36

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CHAPTER 36

Guthrie walked into the hallway outside the interview room, followed by Dean, who closed the door behind him. At the end of the hallway, just outside the chief’s door, his father stood, pounding his fist against the door jamb. Before him stood two men. One was dressed in a black suit with a black tie and holding gold aviators in his hand as he rubbed his thick mustache with his index finger and thumb. The other wore a windbreaker and a baseball cap on his bald head that bore the logo of the DEA.
“You can’t do this.” said Eric. “This is our case. Our man got killed.”
The man in the suit—whom Dean presumed was FBI—said, “Sir, I understand your attachment to this case, but the jurisdiction is ours.”
Guthrie brushed past the two, and Dean stopped beside his dad. “What’s your jurisdiction?”
The DEA man looked at Dean. “Special Agent Tony Hayes.” He extended his hand.
Dean shook it. “Detective Dean Wallace.”
The FBI man said, “Special Agent David Pryce.” He tapped the edge of his cap.
Dean nodded.
Hayes said, “Multiple, actually. The DEA’s interested because those drugs are crossing state and international lines. The FBI’s interested because there’s reason to believe the Grim Devils have perpetrated crimes in Canada. The Mounties called us up. Said they found some evidence in a murder outside Montreal. I understand you’ve seen some of that evidence.”
“We talking about the case where a guy was found murdered in his home and a bunch of fake passports and cash were found?”
“Yes. Marcel Lorrain was the victim.”
“And it’s connected with the Grim Devils?”
Hayes shrugged.
Eric turned to Dean. “They want to take Sam into their custody. Get copies of all our evidence on the ambush, the lab, everything. They want goddamn everything.” He raised his hands in exasperation.
“But we can keep it and prosecute, right?” asked Dean.
“Maybe. But you’ll have to wait. We may need that leverage to get some of them to talk, to cooperate,” said Pryce.
Dean put his hands to his waist. “Shit, fellas, we want these guys for killing one of our own. Reggie Hargrove.”
Hayes nodded. “We know. And we’re sorry, and we don’t intend to let them off for that. But there are—frankly—other priorities.”
“Assholes.” Eric stepped forward.
Hayes raised a finger. “You know what I meant. We’re talking about bringing down the entire gang in this area. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, all right? Just give us the evidence and reports you’ve got.”
“And Sam?” asked Dean.
“Yes. We’ll take him down to Plattsburgh. You’ve got enough evidence to hold him?”
Dean nodded. “Yeah. We’ve got enough.”
Pryce said, “Great. Then let’s get the stuff.”
Eric shook his head, waved his hand in the air in disgust, and walked into his office, slamming the door behind him.
Dean said, “Okay. I’ll have Guthrie gather the physical evidence. We haven’t had a chance to get the guns tested that we found in Sam’s house, just so you know. I’ll grab the reports. I need to type up this interview, and we’ll put it in boxes for you.”
Pryce placed his hand on Dean’s shoulder and squeezed. “Thank you.”
Ninety minutes later, Guthrie placed the last box of evidence in the trunk of the agent’s car. Pryce and Hayes signed the paperwork indicating they had taken over the evidence: A box with a short stack of reports he and Guthrie had typed up, the surveillance logs, and photographs. Another box of the meth, marijuana, and heroin seized at Sam’s house plus two bags with his cache of weapons.
Dean stood outside the driver’s side window, looking down and in. “You know,” he said to Pryce, “the Alex kid we arrested and ran that lab is the son of the county DA.”
Pryce smiled. “Yeah, we know. Lucky for him, his son is small fry. And the Justice prosecutor is an asshole, so some county DA’s not going to frighten him.”
“All right. Please keep us informed if you can. At least about the Reggie aspect.”
Hayes tapped the dash. “Let’s go.”
Dean only then realized the day had turned to evening. He looked at his watch: a quarter after seven. The western sky was a luminous orange and red and pink swaths of clouds a quarter of the way up the horizon. He rubbed his chin and then pulled out a cigarette and lit it.
When Cindy and he had been married, they had made a thing of watching the sunset together, except for winter. From their apartment in New York, it was not always a great view, but nonetheless, they would sit on the small balcony in cheap lawn chairs and watch the sunset wash over the sliver of sky and buildings. He smiled at the memory. Only in hindsight after the divorce did he realize the first sign of trouble in the marriage was when they stopped sitting and watching the sunset. He took a drink from his flask and watched.
A few minutes later, he went to check on his dad and Guthrie, but both had left.
His phone rang, so he walked to his desk and answered it. “Hello? Detective Wallace here.”
“This is Paige McFadden.”
“Good evening.”
“Yeah. So want to tell me what’s up? I saw a couple of FBI guys show up at the station. Well, they were at the Shambles first stuffing their face.”
“One of them is DEA.”
“DEA?”
“Yep.”
“Gotcha. So tell me.”
Dean told her. He gave her the rest of the information he felt comfortable giving. He attributed the lab to intelligence they had received to cooperating witnesses. He skimmed over the ambush and then gave her the high-level view of the evidence leading them to Alex and then to Sam. And now the DEA and FBI were interested. She thanked him and hung up.
He pulled on his coat and went to his car, leaving James and Stanley at the station for the night shift. He started the engine and sat there, rehashing the day in his mind and settling on a single thought: Sadie. He debated what he should do but realized he already knew. He hit the steering wheel with the palm of his hand. “Fuck it.”
Minutes later, he was pounding on the front door of her two-story house. She whipped open the door. “What the hell Dean? You drunk?”
He thrust the door open, which thudded against the back wall, denting the red and light yellow striped wallpaper and drywall behind it in the shape of the lockset.
“Hey,” she said. “What’s the meaning of this? I’ve got someone coming over. I don’t have time.”
“I’m not here for the normal.”
She saw the look in his eyes. Something beyond determination, beyond anger. She knew then to be frightened. “What’s going on?” She put her hands to his chest.
He grabbed her wrists and twisted them away. “How long have you been informing on me?”
She held up her hands.
“How long have you been telling Paul Zorn everything I tell you?”
She knew that look in his eyes was betrayal. “Now look here.” She raised up a finger and held it in the air, pointed at him. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. You get a grip and get the hell out.”
He stepped toward her, recognizing that she had gone from light-hearted, to terrified, to strong in a few quick beats.
“I mean it. You stop right there. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t tell Zorn anything. Or any of his lackeys.”
“I trusted you. I said things, and they shouldn’t have gone anywhere.”
“They didn’t. You paid me and what happened in this house, anything you said, anything we did, no one knows but you and me.” She dropped her hand. “No one.”
He stood before her, in her living room, a room he never bothered to notice. She stood, dressed in black lace negligée and a light pink robe with white lace edging, next to a brown leather couch on a large, square beige rug. Matching dark wood end tables at either end of the couch with brass lamps and off-white lamp shades from which plastic diamonds hung. A television to the right of the couch, next to the fireplace with its mantle. Framed photos of Sadie and her family and friends. A greeting card. At this distance, Dean thought it was a birthday card.
He looked back at her. And he knew he was wrong. She had not betrayed him.
“Get out.” She had moved to the front door, still wide open. “Now.” She gestured for him to leave.
He nodded once and grimaced.
As he walked past her and onto the porch, she said, “Fuck you, Dean. I never want to see you again.”
She slammed the door behind him.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Clearing - Chapter 35


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CHAPTER 35

Sam sat in the interview chair with a strip of tissue wadded and stuffed up his nose. Pieces of grass stuck to his beard. He was still cuffed. “Police brutality. You had no reason—”
“You ran.”
“I thought you were after me.”
“We were.” Dean locked his fingers together.
“You know what I mean.”
“I don’t. Help me out. A police car shows up and you run. And I’ve seen what’s inside your house.” Dean, Zach, and Etheridge had waited on the warrant before entering to find a cache of weapons: pistols, rifles, shotguns, submachine guns. Plus several pounds of meth wrapped in plastic. Dean placed photos in front of Sam. “So you usually want to shoot any officer that comes along or were you eager to sell some of your crank?”
Sam was sweating profusely from his forehead and he kept swallowing and licking his lips. “I don’t know what that stuff is. You planted it. And I’ve got people after me. I thought it was them.”
“Ah, I see. So why are people after you? Who?”
“Just people. And I thought you were them.”
“Did you tell the police earlier that you were being targeted?”
Sam laughed. “What? Hell no. Why would I do that?”
“It’s what most people do when they’re being targeted.” Dean added air quotes to the last word. “Look, it’s simple. We’ve got you on weapons and drug possession charges. You’re looking at a good number of years. Not county jail. State prison. Worse.” He pointed at Sam. “For you, it’s worse. We’ve got a witness who says you set up the ambush that killed an officer two days ago in the woods out west of town.”
“I don’t know nothing about that.”
“Of course not. Thing is, I don’t care. We’re taking those guns and checking them. I’m particularly interested in this one.” Dean pointed to the M16 in the photo. “See, I know what one of those sounds like. I heard one as my fellow officer was shot dead. I’m betting this here M16 is going to match some ballistics we found out there in the woods.”
Sam bit his lip.
“Yeah. And it seems like you set someone up for making crank. Encouraged him. Got him a loan. Even trained him. Do you offer health insurance too? What’s the vacation policy?”
Sam rubbed his mouth. “That shithead.”
“Oh, do you know something?”
Just as quickly as it disappeared, the fear, the concern came back. “You talking about Alex?” Sam squinted at Dean. “Yeah, I bet you are. Whatever he says, you can’t believe a word out of his mouth. He lies just like his old man.”
“Right now, all I care about is making sure you end up in prison for a long time. Weapons possession. Drug possession. Distribution. Murder. Whatever I can send you to lock up for.”
Sam looked at Dean and then back down. “I didn’t murder anyone. No. Not that.”
“Not sure it makes much difference if you were there and shooting at us. Attempted murder? Does that sound any better? Accessory to murder? The point is, you’re going away. Sit on that.” Dean grabbed the photos and walked out of the interview room.
Eric was standing in the hall. “How’d it go?”
Dean gave him a thumbs up. “About ready to break.” He walked to his desk, slid open the drawer with the bottle of Wild Turkey, refreshed his flask, and took a drink.
Guthrie walked up, hiking his pants when he stopped before Dean’s desk. “Alex is booked and in jail. He’ll have a few hours at least before his pops bails him out.” He thumbed back toward the interview room. “How’s Sammy boy? Heard Zach put the baton to work.”
“Yep, whacked him back along the legs, sent the man down quick.”
Guthrie nodded. “He about ready to spill the beans?”
Dean nodded and took another drink. “He’s on the hot seat now for murder. At least he thinks he is. Based on his reaction, I think the M16 we found in his house was at the lab site.”
“That’s with the state now?”
“Not yet. We’ll get that over probably tomorrow. Maybe this afternoon.”
“Can I watch him squirm when you go back in?”
Handing Guthrie the flask, Dean said, “Hell yes you can.”
They waited another hour. Dean took in a small styrofoam cup of water and set it in front of Sam, who looked up at both of the detectives. “What the hell you doing out there?”
Dean sat down and crossed his arms. “Had a good think, did you?”
Sam took the cup and downed the water in one gulp. “I was thirsty. Thanks.” He tapped the cup over so that it slid across the table. “Yeah. I thought about it. I told him it was a bad idea.”
“Told who?”
Sam looked at Guthrie and then at Dean. “Zorn. He set up the ambush. Knew you guys were sniffing around. He didn’t mean to get anyone killed. Just scare the hell out of you. Make you think it was well defended. Keep you away.”
Dean leaned back. “That’s bullshit. You don’t bring an M16 and, I’m guessing, a rifle with a scope, start shooting, and not expect to hit somebody. And that’s not going to scare anyone off. We would’ve just gone back with more. More cops with more guns. Zorn’s not stupid.”
Sam shrugged. “What can I say? I only know what he tells me.”
Dean put his elbows on the table. “I know you. You’re not stupid either. This may not be the future you thought of when you were running track, but this is where you are and you’re not stupid.”
Sweat appeared again on Sam’s forehead.
Dean stretched his arms out wide. “Fine. So Zorn says let’s go into the woods and wait for the cops to show up? That about sum it up?”
Sam nodded.
“Who was with him? You?”
“No. No. I just knew it was going down. It was Zorn, Paddy, and Jimmy.”
Dean recognized the names. Paddy was the Sergeant-at-Arms. Jimmy was a new member. “Was Jimmy looking for his skull patch?”
“Yeah. He was.”
“When was this planned?”
“This is Friday. So it was planned on Wednesday.”
“The fourth?”
“Yeah.” Sam wiped the sweat from his brow. “Yeah. Wednesday night. It was discussed after the meeting. Zorn said it had to be done the next day and they needed to leave early.”
“Just like that?” Dean snapped his fingers.
Guthrie, who had drifted into his familiar corner, stepped forward. “And how come the M16 used to kill a cop winds up at your house?”
“Look, now that, that—. That is not my gun. Zorn or Paddy must have left it there for me. I was not in the woods. I was at home asleep man. I knew it was going down, but I can’t shoot. And like you said, I thought it wasn’t very smart.”
Zorn had put Sam up as the patsy. Dean knew that was why he was talking.
Guthrie said, “You know how often we get ‘home asleep’? It’s not an alibi. And what do you mean by ‘left it there for you’?” Like a gift?”
“I don’t know. Shit.” Sam dropped his head. “Shit.”
Dean raised his hand to stop Guthrie from continuing. “I’m just not buying this Sam. But if this is the story you’re sticking to, you can be just as stupid as Paul. Answer me this.”
Sam looked up at him.
“How’d Paul know about us cops showing up out there?”
A smile flickered across Sam’s face. Pride coming back in full splendor, even if briefly. He had knowledge Dean did not. Sam said, “He says he has a bitch who tells him everything. Connected direct into the police.”
Dean leaned back. Alex telling them this was the case was one thing. Sam was different somehow because he was a Grim Devil. “Who?”
Sam shook his head and shrugged. “Hell if I know. He kept that to himself. Always said he had himself a bitch to tell him everything.”
Dean breathed in deep. Sadie. It had to be Sadie. He knew he told her things he should not, as if she were his wife. She was nice to him because he paid her. He was not under any illusions about that, but he never expected she would be pumping him for information and passing it to Zorn. He would have to deal with that later. “Fine. You don’t know shit. But what do you know about William Nimitz?”
“Huh? What? He didn’t have anything to do with talking to the police.”
Guthrie pulled out the second chair across from Sam and sat down heavily. “No, you moron. We know that. But Billy was found in the woods, a bullet in his head, and a wad of cash in his closet. Was he working for Zorn like Alex?”
“That commie piece of shit. Hell no. He wasn’t cooking. If he had showed up at the clubhouse, we’d have beat the red right out of him.”
That word again, said with flagrant disgust. Dean asked, “He was a communist?”
“Yeah, man.”
“How do you know this?”
“My niece’s boyfriend’s about the same age as Billy. Says Billy was spouting off communist crap all the time. Wanted to save people from whatever.”
“Who’s the niece?”
“Why do I need to tell you that?”
“The spirit of cooperation.”
Sam twisted his mouth, sighed, and looked at the wall. Then he looked back at Sam. “Julie. Julie Darwish. Her boyfriend is Tim Upton.”
“And where was Billy spouting this commie stuff off at?” asked Guthrie.
“I don’t know. Ask one of them.”

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Clearing - Chapter 34

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CHAPTER 34

Guthrie took delight in fingerprinting Alex and shuffling him out to the car, where the young meth cooker would be driven to the county jail.
Henry kept close tabs on the entire process, but even he knew he could not do much. His son was going to jail. He might get a good plea deal, but the county’s chief prosecutor seemed a different man, his shoulders hunched, more lines on his face. A twinge of sympathy ran through Dean. He had been the son of a police officer, which had been challenging for both him, his brothers, and his father. Being the son of the chief prosecutor or being the chief prosecutor whose son is a drug dealer must have been difficult as well.
Pond opened the chief’s door and walked out. She looked up at her boss, grimly smiled, and spotted Dean. She gestured as if she were smoking a cigarette and nodded toward the exit. He nodded once and stood up.
She waited for him as he walked to the exit. The chief came out of the office, patted Henry on the shoulder, and told him to take the day, even the next.
Dean held the door open for Clara. She pulled out a Virginia Slim. He held the light for her and then lit his own.
“So you’re the chief’s son, the detective from the city?” She blew smoke out of the side of her mouth.
“Yeah, that’s me. Can’t say I know much about you.”
“Henry and Karen, his assistant, talk about you every once in a while. They think they’re discreet, but, well, they aren’t.”
“What do they say about me?”
“Hmmm. That you’re a drunk who washed out of the NYPD. Vet who saw real combat. Lucky you have a father who’s a chief of police to get you a job.”
Dean chuckled. “I didn’t realize they had such a high opinion of me.” He flicked ash off the end of his cigarette. “But it’s pretty much true.”
“All of it?”
“Well, I’m not sure I’d go so far as being a drunk, but let’s not split hairs.”
She crossed her left arm across her body, pinching her hand between her right elbow and abdomen and holding the cigarette in the air. “You don’t remember me, do you?”
He inhaled on his cigarette and studied her face.
“I was a couple of years behind you.”
He shook his head. “Sorry. I don’t recall.”
“I was in your brother’s class.”
“Nolan?”
“Yes. Sorry.”
He shook his head and held the cigarette low.
“You were the talk of the girls.”
“I was?”
She smiled. “Anyways, seems like you have a problem.”
“Huh?”
“Someone’s telling the Grim Devils what the police are up to.”
“Oh that. Yeah, that’s an issue.” Who knew about the lab and the surveillance? Eric, Guthrie, Reggie, Etheridge, and probably a couple of the others. The lab raid? Essentially the same people. And. And Sadie. He had mentioned finding it. Did she know about the surveillance too? Had he been too drunk to remember telling her?
“Hey there.” Pond snapped her fingers. “Back to earth.”
“Yeah. Yeah. Sorry. Was thinking about that problem.”
She dropped the cigarette and crushed it under her toe. “I can see that. Looks like you have a suspect.”
He nodded and watched her walk to her car.
* * *
Dean, Etheridge, and Zach waited for Sam Darwish to arrive home. They waited down the street, away from his likely direction of return. Indeed, they heard first and then saw the Harley-Davidson and Sam driving toward them. He pulled into his driveway and turned off the engine. His long hair dropped to below his shoulders, but he was balding and his hair had a stringy, brittle appearance. He wore a red bandana like a sweat band. He had on the vest of the Grim Devils—their large Grim Reaper crushing skulls—jeans, and military-style black boots.
Sam had a good-sized rap sheet of drunk driving, assaults, and minor drug possession charges. He had spent a fair number of nights in the jail’s drunk tank and a few longer stints in the county jail. Born in 1940, he had been a track star for Zion in high school. After, he started working for Banks’s. He joined the Grim Devils in the mid-Sixties.
Dean told Etheridge to start the car and drive fast to Sam’s house, hoping to catch him off guard and minimize the danger. Etheridge punched the accelerator, and the car tore toward Sam, who looked up from his motorcycle. He lifted his aviators just as Etheridge slammed the breaks. Before the car had come to a complete stop at the end of Sam’s driveway, Dean and Zach were opening their doors and stepping out.
Sam started to run to his house, but he was a large man who long ago had lost his high school state finals sprinting form. Zach, the younger and faster officer, sprinted the few yards separating him from Sam and dove toward the fleeing man, driving his shoulder into his back.
Sam grunted, stumbled forward, and flailed his arms but kept upright and running to his house. Dean was coming fast on Sam as Zach was picking himself up, when Etheridge shouted, “Freeze. I’ll shoot you if you don’t.”
But Sam did not stop. Dean caught up with him and reached for his shoulders, but he twisted loose. Zach was beside Dean then and had his truncheon out, which he swiped across Sam’s back left leg.
The big man cried out again, but this time, he fell. Dean drove his knee between Sam’s shoulder blades, reaching for the big man’s right hand, grabbing just inside the thumb and twisting to pull the hand back and get him under his control. Etheridge ran past and stopped between Sam and his house, his pistol leveled at the biker.
Dean cuffed the right hand, and Sam gave up and relaxed. Dean cuffed the left hand and rolled Sam over onto his back. Grass and dirt covered his mouth and nose. A trickle of blood rolled down his upper lip.
“Afternoon, Sam. We got questions for you.”

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Clearing - Chapter 33

Start with Chapter 1

CHAPTER 33

Pond sat across from Henry and Alex and smiled. She said she was prepared to offer immunity for Alex in the attack. She wanted to hear from Alex, however, what Dean had heard from Henry.
Alex repeated the story as she held her index finger to her lips. When he was finished, she set a leather satchel on the table and pulled out a folder. She set the satchel on the floor beside her feet and opened the folder. She flipped it around and slid it to Henry. It was a one-page document outlining the immunity in return for honest statements, including full details of his criminal activities and accomplices, and appearing as a witness.
Henry tapped at the line requiring Alex to appear as a witness. “I’m not a fan of this.”
Pond frowned. “It’s a requirement. You know we’re not going to let Alex sing to us and then not use it. You wouldn’t let that happen either, Henry.”
Henry patted his son’s shoulder. “You’ll have to testify.”
“You don’t understand who you’re dealing with. They won’t let me live long enough to testify.”
“We’ll provide protection until the trial’s over. I can ensure you will have a detail outside your home and work until then. Once the damage is done, I doubt they’ll do anything.”
“You doubt?” asked Henry.
“He’s not going into some witness protection program for cooking up meth for a local biker gang. A uniformed officer was killed.” She pointed a finger at Alex. “He is the one who started cooking meth. He’s not innocent in this. And I’m not going to treat him that way.”
Henry pursed his lips. Alex looked at his dad and back at Pond.
Henry sighed and nodded. “It’s the best you’re going to get. I suggest you sign it.”
Alex dropped his head in defeat, took the silver pen his father handed him, and signed the document. Henry pulled the folder and document over, gently pulled the pen from his son’s hand, and signed. He put the pen back in his pocket, flipped the folder around, and pushed it across the desk to his deputy. She signed and said, “Start.”
“Early last year, March I think, Sam Darwish, he’s with the Grim Devils, and me were sitting around drinking. I was having money issues at the time. Not enough. And I was getting ready to leave, but I was pretty far gone already. Anyways, I end up telling him why I couldn’t stay. He insists I do, that he’ll buy my beers. I thought, ‘Why not?’
“After a while, he tells me there’s a way I can make a lot of money fast. He says the Devils can pay me to cook crank for them. They’d finance me to set up, I make enough to pay off the loan, and then I can keep making and they’ll buy and I get the profits. So like I’m pretty far gone, and I wasn’t thinking. And I wake up at home. Head’s hurting. But there’s this paper bag next to my bed. It’s got ten thousand in cash. I don’t recall the night before well, but I remember Sam.
“I figure he’s down at the Devil’s garage and head down there before work. He’s there. He reminds me. I say I don’t want to. I mean, shit, I don’t want to be doing that. Sam says fine, but because I had the money some time, I owe interest on it. I know I’m screwed then. So that’s how I got into making crank. Stupid, I know, but shit, I didn’t have the money to pay them back. And Sam wasn’t talking like he’d really want it back anyways.
“I happened to know of a couple of buses out in the woods that were abandoned. Not very old, but not new. I think the old Pike family left them there a few years ago. Anyways, I cleaned them up a bit and started. They had some guy from California in one week, and he taught me. I think he taught a few others in the area too. They said that crank was the next great drug. And things went fine. Fine until two nights ago. Sam finds me at the Shambles and tells me he’s got it on good authority the cops are going to raid the place in the morning. He tells me to keep away.” Alex leaned back and raised his hands as if there were no more to tell.
Pond looked at Dean. “Detective?”
Dean nodded. “I’ve got a few questions. Let’s start with why did Sam just ask you to start cooking crank? Seems a bit of a stretch to ask the son of the DA to do this. At a bar.”
Alex pursed his lips and looked at his dad.
Henry sighed. “He’s family. Not close. A cousin of mine. Son of my uncle.” He scratched his chin. “He was also probably looking for leverage over me. Something he could use if the Devils got in trouble.”
“So you’ve been cooking meth, crank, for the Devils for a little over a year now?”
Alex nodded.
“And how’d Josh get involved?”
“I asked him. Told him I was in deep shit and needed his help. He was a good friend.”
“When did that happen?”
“Him helping me?”
“Yeah. When did he start helping you?”
Alex dropped his head and rubbed his temples with his right hand. “Must’ve been a month or two after I started. I knew I needed some help. So I asked him.”
“And he agreed?”
Alex shrugged with his eyebrows. “He’s a good friend.”
“Did you know what the Devils were planning after Sam told you to keep away?”
“No. No I didn’t.”
Guthrie took two steps away from the wall. “Why should I believe you?”
Henry looked at his son. Pond looked back at Guthrie and then at Alex. Alex rubbed his hands. “I don’t know. All I can tell you is that I didn’t. I didn’t have anything to do with it. I thought he was just warning me to keep away from the lab. Lay off. Like he did a few weeks ago. And then they told me the coast was clear.”
“A few weeks ago?” Dean leaned in.
Guthrie drifted back to the wall.
“Yeah,” said Alex.
“What do you mean? What happened a few weeks ago?”
“I got a call from Sam again—I mean the first time. He told me to keep away from the lab. The cops were interested in it and that he’d let me know when it was clear again.”
“When was this?”
“Sometime in March. I can’t remember.”
“And he called you back when it was all okay?”
“Yeah. A couple of days ago. Said, get back to it.”
Dean tapped his fingers on the table. “That’s it? He didn’t say anything more. Where’s he getting the information?”
Alex shook his head. “I don’t know.”
Dean leaned back. The Devils knew about the surveillance. Knew about the raid. How?
Pond said, “Detective, any more questions?”
Dean looked up. He had drifted into his own thoughts for a while. “Yeah, two more. Was Paul Zorn a party to any of your conversations with Sam?”
Alex said, “No.”
“And William Nimitz. Was he part of your work or was he doing something similar on his own?”
Henry put his hand in front of Alex. “Hold on. What’s Billy got to do with this?”
Pond narrowed one eye and looked at the detective.
Dean said, “If he was into something similar with the Devils, it might mean we have a motive for his killing.”
Alex shook his head. “All this time investigating Billy and you really have no clue who he was.” He tapped his fist on the table. “Billy wouldn’t touch drugs. Dude was turning all commie and shit. I couldn’t stand him anymore. Asshole—”
Henry raised his hand higher. “We’re not talking about Mr. Nimitz now.”
Pond smiled. “Okay. So I have one last question.” She clasped her hands together. “Did you pay off your debt?”
“Yes.” Alex twisted his lip.
“And you still kept making these drugs, right?”
“Yes.”

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