Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Clearing - Chapter 12

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CHAPTER 12

Dean had Guthrie drive them to the Tracks Diner for lunch. The restaurant was beside the old freight-line railroad tracks. Guthrie asked him what the FBI line was about.
“I haven’t a clue, other than we’re talking a border here, so maybe he thinks the FBI knows something. Or he heard ‘communist’ and assumes the FBI knows something. That’s a scratcher.”
They stepped out of the car. Guthrie asked across the roof, “And what about the drugs question? You hadn’t mentioned that before.”
Dean stuffed the keys into his pocket and shrugged. “Seems only natural, right? How many of the B and Es around here are ultimately drug related?” Breaking and entering. People smashing open a window or door and grabbing the valuables. Sometimes they turned violent if a person were at home, but most often just a violation of property.
Guthrie shrugged. “I don’t know. A quarter? A third?”
They walked across the poorly cleared parking lot to the restaurant, a small building on the edge of town. The restaurant was more a mobile home than a proper building. The poutine was the reason—at least in Dean’s opinion—that the Tracks had survived the arrival of McDonald’s.
“I’d bet you it’s half.” Dean held the door open for Guthrie. “I mean, most crime when it comes down to it,” he continued as he followed to their table, “is about money or love. And drugs are a big part of the money factor. I want a hit, I don’t have money, so I hold up a gas station for it. I sell drugs. You do, too. I want more money. I kill you I sell drugs to your clients. I make more money. Stupid, simple shit.”
The waitress put two plastic cups of water on the table. Dean asked for coffee and ordered the poutine. Guthrie chose the meatloaf sandwich and a Coke.
They talked game plan over their coffee and Coke while waiting for the food. The diner was crowded, the noise of people talking, glasses and plates clanking and jingling, and the door opening and closing with a swoosh of wind were enough to make discussion challenging. They agreed they would talk to Billy’s friend Corey next. Guthrie asked why not interview Sarah, the girlfriend, first. Dean wanted to get to at least one of the friends, see what his opinion of the girlfriend was.
The waitress set their plates in front of them and asked if they needed anything else. Guthrie tapped his Coke glass, which was two-thirds empty, and Dean shook his head. She turned and headed back to the counter.
Dean stuck a fork into his poutine as Guthrie eyed him before dousing his meatloaf sandwich in ketchup. He set the ketchup bottle down. “I don’t know how you eat that stuff.”
Dean smiled. “Like everyone else who eats it.”
Guthrie frowned and shook his head.
“I love it. As good as you can get in Quebec.” Dean watched Guthrie’s lips thin and almost say something before winking at him. Dean stuck a forkful of curds and fries into his mouth. After he finished chewing, he said, “I keep trying to figure out why Billy was out there, at the Pratt farm.”
“Who knows.” Ketchup squirted out the backside of Guthrie’s sandwich. He looked down at his pants to ensure none fell there. “I mean, we’ve got to figure that out. But if you ask me, the stack of money. That’s the key.”
“How so?” Dean thought it was key as well, but he wanted to hear what his partner came up with.
“Frankly, seems like he got involved with some people he shouldn’t have. That’s where drugs make sense.”
Dean leaned back and wiped his mouth with a white paper napkin. The door to the restaurant opened and in walked Tony, his younger brother.
He looked around the restaurant, caught sight of Dean, smiled, and waved. He walked over and the two brothers embraced. The middle of the Wallace brothers still maintained his thin frame by running five miles daily—rain or shine. He wore a wool, gray peacoat and light blue jeans. A large gray scarf encased his neck and piled on his chest. He pulled off his Montreal Expos knit hat, revealing his full head of light brown hair.
“Join us?” asked Dean. “This is Jeremy Guthrie, my partner.”
Tony shook his head. “Nice to meet you.” They shook hands. Dean’s brother looked back at him. “Was in town for some supplies, but I need to get back. You should come by. We’ll share a beer.” Tony patted Dean on the back and walked up to the counter, where Steven handed over a styrofoam container. Tony left cash on the counter and walked out.
Guthrie turned from the closing door back to Dean. “Can I ask you something?”
“Is it about my brother?”
“Yeah.” Guthrie grinned. “It is.”
“I won’t stop you.”
“What’s the deal with him? Your dad doesn’t have a photo of him in his office at all. Got yours and Nolan’s everywhere.”
Dean picked up the last gravy-covered fry with his fork and jammed it into the last cheese curd. “There is one photo with Tony.” He paused before continuing, “Short or long answer?”
“I always prefer the long.”
“Hmmph.” He popped in the last bite and ordered two coffees, which he spiked with some whiskey from his flask. “You’ll have to ask him.”
The truth was, Tony had used college and other deferments—actions not unique or special during those years—to avoid the draft and active duty in Vietnam while Dean, the rambunctious thorn in the family’s side, and Nolan, the youngest and favorite of Jessica, volunteered. Dean joined the Marines in an effort to impress his father and without much sense of purpose. Nolan joined out of a sense of duty. Dean still had the letter the youngest brother had sent him from Zion a few days before he officially joined. He read it on some blasted, forgotten, terrible hill. Read it between shouts of “Tubing” and huddling in captured NVA bunkers.
Dean, I know you think I’m crazy for doing it. I know you’re counting the days until you can leave. I know this. But I can’t sit around here and do what Tony did or many of my friends are doing. I can’t ignore that my brother is over there fighting a war his country has asked him to fight while I sit here, drinking cold sodas, enjoying walking out in the world, while you walk in terror. I can’t not join. Duty calls.
And Nolan did.
“Seriously, man,” said Guthrie.
Dean chuckled. “The old man has his reasons. Let’s say Tony didn’t land on the right side of the war.”
Guthrie dug with his tongue into his teeth. “Fine. Does he live around here?”
“He lives out down Route 22 toward Plattsburgh. He works for the FBI. One of their lawyers.” Dean slapped his forehead. “We had our FBI guy there. We could’ve asked him about what Renard said. I’ll call him up later.”
Guthrie folded up his napkin and put it on his plate. “He can probably help, yeah. So why did you move back?”
Dean squinted at him. The question was such a radical pivot from their conversation it held him up a bit. He did not like that Guthrie had asked it. “You know why I moved back.”
“Only what they say on the streets. Is it true?”
“Is what true?” Dean ground his teeth.
“Did the guy get off? The one that killed those hookers?”
He stood up and put a dollar on the table. He leaned in close, putting his hand on the back of Guthrie’s chair. “Then what you heard is probably true. Yeah, the shithead got away with it because I was too drunk to do anything right.”
Guthrie looked at Dean’s arm on the chair and changed the subject. “So besides talking to people, do we need to do anything else with Billy?”
“Yeah, we need to see who owned those pistols. The forty-five and the thirty-eight. Look up all the people we’re talking to and see if they have a gun license.”
“Hold on.” Guthrie pulled out a notepad. “Let me write this down. Check gun licenses.”
Dean tapped the table with is fingers. “While you’re writing it down, note we need to talk to Corey, Alex, Josh, Sarah, and probably Paul Zorn.”
Guthrie sighed. “You think he’s the source of the drug money?”
“Who better to talk to than Zorn?”
Guthrie wrote it down and closed the notebook. “Let’s get going.”
They picked up their checks from the table and walked to the register.
“Detective Wallace.”
Dean looked behind him to find her standing nearby, arms crossed. “Paige.”
Guthrie turned back and looked at Paige as he handed his check to the waitress along with three dollars.
She smiled at the both of them and focused back on Dean. “So you got anything for me?”
He shrugged. “I’m a public servant. I can only afford my lunch.”
“You know what I mean.”
“I do.”
The waitress handed Guthrie his change. Dean handed her his check and three dollars.
“Come on. You’ve got to say something.”
Dean smiled at the waitress. “Thank you.” He looked back at Paige. “Actually, I don’t.”
The two detectives walked back into the cold January air. Cold despite the shining sun.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Clearing - Chapter 11

Start with Chapter 1


CHAPTER 11

Beside his desk, Dean found Jeremy waiting for him. Dean nodded, grabbed his coat off the back of the chair, and pointed to the exit. Halfway toward the door, he patted his coat and realized his flask was still in his desk. He jogged back, slid open the bottom drawer and, with his back turned to the rest of the station, stuffed the half-full flask into his inside coat pocket.
When he turned around, Etheridge was wrapping his coat around the back of his chair, a small styrofoam cup of coffee on the desk. Jeremy was standing beside Laura’s desk. As Dean walked back, Jeremy opened the door and stepped outside.
Once in Dean’s car, Jeremy broke the silence. “So a homicide, eh?”
“Yeah. Here’s the file.” Dean handed it to him. He started the car. “We’re still waiting on the Doc’s report. Should have it today.” A stream of cold air rushed out of the vents. Dean turned down the heater. “It’ll warm up fast.”
Jeremy opened the folder. “Where we going first?”
“Let’s start at McCord’s.”
Dean pulled out of his parking space, crunching over the snow and gravel. He turned onto the square and kept on High Street for four blocks before turning onto Fox Street. Two blocks down, McCord’s Body Shop sat back from the street. A half-dozen cars sat in front of the body shop. The mayor had long tried to adjust the ordinances to prevent the unsightly view, but Charlie McCord found a rare ally in Joe Banks, whose own business was a similar eyesore.
Dean parked the car in the lot. He left it running and looked over at Jeremy. “So you’ll need to look at the photos and evidence we collected at the site. You will probably want to go out there to see it for yourself today or tomorrow.”
“Makes sense. What do we have that you can tell me?”
“Right. Billy Nimitz walked into that clearing. We’re not sure from where. We haven’t found his car yet, and we’re not sure when he got there. Obviously, some time after he was last seen by his friends on the second. Somewhere along the way in the woods, he jacks his knee and ankle. Doc Cotton says there’s no way he was going to run. Painful to walk. So he leans against a tree. His knee’s probably throbbing.
“Someone else comes into the clearing. Sees Billy. Puts a bullet in his head. Probably dropped the gun, but we need to wait on ballistics. Billy has a thirty-eight in his pocket. Was buried deep in it. Both the Doc and I missed it with all the coats and gloves. There’s a copy of The Communist Manifesto in his front coat pocket. When I check Billy’s closet at his parent’s house, I find a crap load of cash and a copy of The Communist Manifesto.”
“He was a pinko?”
“Probably best to leave it as, ‘We found a copy of the book.’”
“How much cash?”
“Nearly twenty thousand.”
“Jesus.” Jeremey rubbed his chin.
“So was he meeting someone out there?”
“Or did he come across someone?” Dean turned off the ignition. “No way of knowing right now. That said, I don’t know why you’d go out there—no trails, nothing—unless you’re meeting someone, right?”
“So he could’ve jacked his knee if he were running away.”
Dean nodded. “Yeah, he could’ve. So let’s go with the probabilities: he was meeting someone. But is that the killer or just the reason he’s out in the woods?”
“Meaning, maybe the killer was not there to kill Billy but whoever he was meeting?”
Dean gave a thumbs up and opened the car door to a rush of cold air.
They got out of the car and walked up to the front of McCord’s. Dean rubbing his gloved hands together while Jeremy stuffed his deep in his coat pockets and brought his shoulders in tight.
The garage doors were closed, but through the grimy windows, Dean could make out two cars and shapes of people. The brick facade had been painted white years ago and not touched since. They walked into the front entrance—the bell hanging on the inside dinging—and the smell of auto grease and oil hit Dean immediately. The concrete floor was covered in a film of black grime accumulated over the years. A small counter with a cash register sat on the right. On the left stood a set of shelves with Pennzoil, Havolene, Castrol, and Marathon oil cans. A door behind the counter led to the garage.
Jeremy pulled his hands out of his pockets and stood beside the counter. Dean stood close to the entrance door.
Charlie McCord—former tight end for the Zion Panthers—ducked as he walked through the door. He wore a gray coverall with the dark blue McCord Body Shop logo embroidered on the left chest. Stray black hairs from his balding head fell down toward the back. Thick sideburns were peppered with more gray than black. He held a thick, short cigar at the side of his mouth, the leaf wet with his chewing on it. “Ah, this ‘bout Billy?” He wiped his hands on a grimy, red rag.
Jeremy looked at Dean and when he realized Dean was not going to say anything said, “It is Charlie. Did you hear?”
“I heard he was found out at the Pratt farm. That’s it. Sad to hear. What happened?” He set the cigar on the edge of the counter.
“He was killed,” said Dean.
Charlie’s eyebrows lifted and he took in a short breath. “God, that’s awful.” He pulled a stool, silver with a red vinyl seat, over and plopped heavily onto it.
“It is. It is. And we’re doing some follow up now that we know it’s not a missing person’s case.”
“Sure. Sure. How can I help?”
“Tell me about Billy.”
“Of course. Anything I can do. Billy was a good kid. He started working for me, um, let’s see, it’s probably been five years. Didn’t know a thing when he started. But we were training him. Getting him up to speed. He started as a helper, basically. Cleaning up. Grabbing parts and tools. Checking people in and out. Calling them. That kind of stuff. Over time, we got him changing oil, which we do for a few of the ladies in town, you know. He started to learn how to fix dents and rust. He painted his first car not too long before.” Charlie hung his head and shook it. “Damn. I liked that boy.” He looked back up at Dean, still shaking his head.
Dean said, “How was he? I mean what was he like?”
“Nice. Nice kid. If I had a daughter, I’d let her date him.”
“Anything odd the day he disappeared? Or the weeks prior.”
Charlie looked down at the counter, frowned, and shook his head. “No. Everything seemed normal. I didn’t talk to him much beyond work, mind you.”
Dean grimaced and cocked his head to the side. “So when I talked to William’s parents last night, they said he’d never shown up to work.” He noticed the quick and focused glances between him and Guthrie.
Charlie picked up the cigar. “I think they, um, well, have it wrong. He did show up. Late. But he showed. He showed.” He rolled the cigar from one side of his mouth to the other. “Yeah, I mean he was late.”
“Okay. What time did he show up?”
“Hold on.” Charlie held up a finger, stood up, and walked to the door that led to the garage. He opened it, leaned out and reached for something, his head and arm disappearing behind the wall.
Dean raised his hand casually into his coat pocket, hand on his pistol, unsnapping the button strap in a singular, practiced motion.
Charlie leaned back in, looking at a timecard in his hand. Dean dropped his hand.
The former football player looked over the card, tapped it with his middle finger. “He came in around nine. Clocked out at five-thirty.”
“Why was he late?”
“I don’t know. I’m flexible, you see. My boys put in their hours, they get the work done.” He looked up. “I’m sorry if his folks got the wrong impression about him not being here. They were pretty upset though.”
“Sure. I think they were.”
Jeremy, who had been taking notes, asked, “What about his friends? You know them?”
“Nah. I didn’t.”
“Billy had a girlfriend, right?”
“Yeah, he talked about her. I can’t remember her name. Susan. Sarah. Something like that.”
“Sarah Esposito?”
Charlie snapped his fingers and pointed at Jeremy. “That’s it.”
“You know her?” asked Dean.
“Nah. I seen her around town I guess. But I didn’t know her.”
“Tell me about the day he went missing.”
“Just a normal day. Except for that, of course. I got to the shop my normal time.”
“Which is?”
“Six. Always been an early riser.”
“Sure.”
“So I get here and start to open up shop. The guys start coming in normal time. Eight. I want them here at eight. Well, Billy’s as prompt as the rest of them, so when eight-thirty rolls around, I’m thinking he must be sick or something. So I called his home. He lived with his parents, you know?”
Dean and Jeremy nodded.
“Anyways, they tell me they hadn’t seen him since the day before.” Charlie stuffed the rag into his back pocket. “That’s the last I know. Well, like I said, he did show up. Left on time. That’s it. Then Jeremy here shows up with his questions.”
“Were you guys working on anything before the holiday?” asked Dean. “Or did anything odd happen over the past few weeks?”
“Nothing odd. No. Not that—no. Hold on.” Charlie reached down behind the counter and pulled out a battered metal box. He lifted the latch and started thumbing through a list of index cards. “I keep everything sorted here. Insurance, you know?”
“Yeah, sure.”
Charlie kept flipping. “Ah, here.” He pulled out an index card and gave it to Jeremy. “So this would have been that Friday before the weekend. The twenty-ninth. And the second, when we all got back. Mrs. Hendrickson’s car.” He reached over and tapped her name on the card Jeremy was holding. “She’d slid into a tree. Real light. She wasn’t going fast or anything. But she banged up her passenger door. We were fixing that.” He kept flipping. “And Mr. Davis. Chris. Yeah, he wanted to repaint his Corvette.”
Everyone knew Chris Davis and his Corvette, a silver 1974 Stingray Coupe. Davis and his brother, Jack, ran the biggest law firm in Zion—anything from wills to injury lawsuits.
“Nothing odd about those, though,” said Charlie. “I know you guys are wanting to find something odd, something that’ll give you an answer or a direction or whatever, but I ain’t got it here. Everything was normal. Absolutely normal.”
“How much overtime did William work?” asked Dean.
Charlie tilted his head and squinted. “None. None at all.”
“None?”
Charlie shook his head.
Jeremy looked at Dean, who nodded toward the door. Jeremy said, “Thanks, Charlie.”
“Sure. Sure thing.”
Just as Jeremy was getting ready to step outside, Dean looked back at Charlie and asked, “Did Billy have any money issues you know of?”
Charlie slid the stool back to its corner. “No, not that I know of.”
“What about his political views? You guys ever discuss that?”
Charlie looked at Dean, one eye squinting in confusion.
“You know. Republican? Democrat?” Dean shrugged. “Socialist?”
“I don’t know. We never talked about it.”
“Thanks.” Dean walked out into the cold air, followed by Guthrie. They got into the car and started it. It was still warm enough to start cranking out warm air.
“So what do you think?” asked Guthrie.
Dean leaned back in the seat, the vinyl creaking. “We’ll see. Seemed pretty straightforward other than that he didn’t show up, he showed up late discrepancy. But I can see upset parents making that mistake.”
His partner, Dean did not know what else to call Guthrie now, shook his head and tapped the pen he still held in his right hand on the dash.
Dean smiled, sat upright, and put the car into gear. “Let’s talk to the Canadians.”
* * *
Dean sat at his desk, and Guthrie sat at his. Both were on there telephone, on the same line. Dean gave Guthrie a thumbs up and called Renard Desplains at the Sûreté du Québec. Renard, a longtime detective, also worked as the U.S.-liaison officer out of Montreal, a couple of hours north of Zion.
“Bonjour ceci est lieutenant Renard Desplains de la Sûreté du Québec,” said the rough voice of the French-Canadian Renard.
“Renard, this is Dean Wallace of Zion. In the States.”
A short pause. “Ah, oui, oui.” Renard and Dean knew each other casually, having participated in several cross-border conferences, meetings, and an investigation since his return to Zion.
“Look, I’m calling about a murder down here in Zion. I have my partner, Jeremy Guthrie on the line as well.”
“A murder?” The distinctive ticking of a lighter.
“Yep. One of Zion’s folks got themselves murdered. Thing is, it was really close to the border. Less than a mile. We think there were footprints leading to the border, but with the snow, wind, and some melting, it was at best a guess.”
“How long ago?”
“The person disappeared the day after New Year’s Day. The second. He was almost certainly killed that night. A William ‘Billy’ Nimitz. Aged twenty-five. I’ll send you a picture. He worked at an auto shop down here in Zion.”
“I see. How can I help?”
“Well, thing is, I found a lot of cash in his home, tucked away in the closet. Way more than what one earns at a body shop working normal hours.”
Renard took in a long drag. “You think drugs?”
“That’s a possibility, yeah.”
“Oui, that would make sense.”
“So I’m calling, to see if you know or can keep an eye out for anything close to the border down here near Zion.”
Renard muttered something quickly in French, covered the mouthpiece, and then came back. “Désolé. I will. I will ask around, but it is a long shot, you know, eh?”
“Yeah, yeah. What about drug trafficking?”
“We have seen the normal. Heroin mostly between here and there.”
“Anybody or groups specifically?”
“The normal. You are aware of these, eh?”
“Yeah, I think we’re on the same page there.”
“Excellent.”
“Hmmm.” Dean put a cigarette in his mouth. “The only thing I can’t figure is the copy of The Communist Manifesto with the cash.”
“Pardon?” Renard covered the mouthpiece but less effectively this time. Someone was wanting to speak to him. “Désolé. What’s this?”
“I found a copy of The Communist Manifesto with all the cash. And a copy of that book in his front coat pocket when we found the body.”
“Oui, oui. Look, I must go. But have you spoken to the FBI? Ciao.”
The line went dead.
The FBI? What was Renard talking about?

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Clearing - Chapter 10

Start with Chapter 1

CHAPTER 10

January 9, 1979
Grandma.” Jenny clasped her arms around Jessica Wallace.
Dean’s mom smiled and clasped back and then lifted her granddaughter off the porch a couple of inches and swung her back and forth. “Jenny, it’s so wonderful to see you again.” She winked at Dean standing on the sidewalk beside the porch, his hands in his pockets.
His mom seemed younger than her age by a decade, betrayed only by her quickly graying hair. Her dark brown eyes could be mistaken for black in the right light. Thin, tall, yet strong, Jessica was a Zion native. She worked part time at Willows Realty but spent most of her days reading, gardening, and “tending the home”—her phrase. When she had had three boys in the home, life had been different for her. Days of packing lunches, making dinners, seeing them off, volumes of laundry. To Dean’s eyes, she did not miss those days, but she had never really gotten over the death of Nolan, the youngest of the Wallace boys. He had died in an ambush outside a village Dean could not remember the name of anymore. A mortar shell exploded in a tree above him. The wound was invisible, so fine was the splinter that killed him. Dean had thrown his Purple Heart into Monroe Lake when he found out. His mom had sprouted a sadness that never seemed to leave her. Her every smile tinged with mortality.
“We’ve got some fun things to do today, my sweet,” said Jessica. “Now let’s get in from this cold.”
Dean leaned over and kissed his mom on the cheek. “Thanks. I’ll see you this evening.”
“No thanks needed.”
As his mom and daughter walked into the house, Dean retreated to the warmth of the car. At the station, Laura told him to go into the chief’s office. He was on the phone and wanted Dean in there. She grimaced, cluing him in on the chief’s mood.
Dean rapped twice on his dad’s door before cracking it open. Eric waved him in when he saw Dean and then gestured for him to close the door.
“Yes, I know,” said his dad.
The chief’s office was paneled with wood from floor to ceiling. The wood beginning to curl outward at the base. Carpet was long ago abandoned in the station because any heavy rain storm could send a torrent of water down the outside steps, so the floor was a light tan linoleum with darker dots and splotches to provide variety.
Eric paced back and forth behind his industrial desk, gray metal with a black highly varnished wood top. Photographs in small frames leaned on their easels. His three sons on a fishing trip in 1958. A snapshot of Eric and Jessica on Coney Island. A family vignette near Niagara Falls—the Canadian side. On the wall behind him, an official portrait of Eric with the mayor. Dean’s official Marine photograph with his Purple Heart citation. Nolan’s official Marine photograph. Only that one image from 1958, though, of Tony, the middle of the three.
Their father had always been an overwhelming presence in their lives. Chief of Police for many years of their youth, they lived not unlike many a preacher’s child. Obedience, doing the right thing, all of that was presumed. It hardened Eric too—always being the chief. Never off.
“Look,” Eric waved for Dean to sit in the chair across from the desk,” this is my city’s jurisdiction. I’ve got a former NYPD detective here. We’ll handle it ourselves. I’ve already told the sheriff it was on city land.” The chief, whose fist pressed down on the top of his desk, shook his head at the voice on the other end and then bit his upper lip. “Look here, colonel, this is my jurisdiction. I don’t want and don’t need your help. Capiche? Mmm. Yes, a good day to you too, sir.” Eric shrugged the phone’s handset from his ear, tossed it lightly with his shoulder, and caught the shoulder rest attached to it, setting the handset in the cradle in one smooth motion. “How the hell did the state police find out about Billy?”
Dean grunted. “The news? The bullet Doc Cotton sent to the lab in Albany?”
“They say it’s a homicide.”
“It is.”
“Why did I find out this morning?”
“Because I found out late last night and had Jenny.”
“You should’ve called.” Eric paced behind his desk, looking down at the floor.
“Okay.” Dean rubbed the leather padding on the right arm of the chair he was sitting in.
“And now the state police want to come in and take it over.”
Dean nodded. “I don’t think that’s a bad idea. They’ve got—”
“I don’t care if it’s the best damned idea since sliced bread. It’s not their case. It’s not their jurisdiction. It’s mine. And it’s your case.”
Dean held up his hands. “Fine. But they’ve got more—”
“Zip it. I’ve already pissed off the colonel, so I ain’t going back groveling for his help now.”
Dean crossed his arms.
“So tell me. What’s next?”
“We talk to the people we know Billy talked to before he disappeared. When Jeremy talked to them back a few days ago, he approached it like a missing person’s case, which is what it was. So we go back now. We talk to them like what it is: murder. That usually shakes up the scenery. We’ve also got what we think are steps going north. Killer could have crossed into Canada. So I want to call the provincial police up there. I know someone there. It probably won’t lead anywhere, but you never know.”
“Good. Do it.”
Dean stood up. “One thing, one of Billy’s friends I’m talking to is Alex Smith.”
“Henry’s boy?”
“Yep.”
“Just talking though.”
“Right now, yes.”
“You think he’s involved?”
“At this stage, anyone could be involved. But, no, I have no reason right now to think he is. But you know what he’s like. He’ll raise a stink to his dad, probably. Just wanted you to know.”
“I never liked that prick.”

Dean nodded and left, not sure if his dad was referring to Henry or Alex.

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