Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Clearing - Chapter 17

Start with Chapter 1


CHAPTER 17

January 11, 1979
Dean and Guthrie met at McDonald’s for breakfast. They discussed the previous afternoon’s activities. Guthrie had found the pawn shop in Plattsburgh Billy had visited: Earl’s. The owner recognized Billy from the photo but not Sarah. However, his records indicated Sarah had pawned two pieces of jewelry, a bracelet and necklace, in July of 1978. Albert, one of his employees, had made the deal. Sarah did not pick them up in the agreed upon ninety days, so Earl’s took possession of them. Billy bought them in November. Guthrie handed two Polaroids to Dean, one of each piece of jewelry. The bracelet, a tennis bracelet is what Cindy would have called it, was studded with clear, small stones around the entire gold band. The necklace was a less gaudy affair. A thin gold chain with a triumvirate of clear stones wrapped in whorls of bent gold. The center stone was the largest, and the two either side of it were the same size. Billy had bought them back for double the amount of the pawn, five hundred and a thousand. Everything about the items looked legitimate and corroborated Sarah’s story. So the real question was where did Billy get the money?
Dean gave Guthrie a run down of the trip to Montreal. The two detectives shook their head at the meaning of the passports and copies of The Communist Manifestos. As they were talking, Dean wondered for the first time in a meaningful way, Renard’s question was a realistic one to ask. Was Billy a spy? But why would a spy be in Zion instead of New York or Washington? Or near major military bases? He filed it away for now so he could focus on the investigation by ticking off the more likely possibilities, starting with friends and family and connections with the drug trade.
The two detectives finished breakfast and walked across the street to Bridewell’s Grocery, where they found Josh sacking groceries for a young mother, whose child sat in the front of the cart, blue-booted feet kicking. Josh had worked at Bridewell’s since high school and now helped manage for Gary Bridewell, who was in his seventies and had no children but had taken Josh under his wing.
They waited as he lifted items with his right hand and placed them in his left, which was hidden in the standing sack. He put cans of peas and corn at the bottom and built his way up, placing bread and bags of chips on top. All very practiced and efficient.
Josh offered to assist the woman out, and she accepted. Guthrie looked at the magazine rack near one of the four check out lines. The check out clerk, one of the town’s Pentecostal women identifiable by her long hair wrapped into a bun, no make up, and modest, ankle-length denim skirt, asked if Dean needed help. He said he was waiting for Josh.
A few minutes later, Josh came in, pushing three carts, which he stacked with the others. He looked over at the clerk, who gestured toward Dean. “How can I help you?” asked Josh.
Up close, Dean could see all the freckles on Josh’s face. His red hair and pale-complexion meant the boy burned in the summer. Tall and thin as most twenty-somethings are, he could still have been in high school for all Dean could tell. He held out his badge. “Detective Wallace. That’s Detective Guthrie.”
Josh raised a single hand to wave at Guthrie. “Ah, yeah, now I remember you.”
Dean said, “Can we talk someplace? It’s about Billy.”
The clerk raised her hand to her mouth.
Josh nodded and walked past the counters to a brown door hidden behind racks of candy, greeting cards, and magazines.
The door led to a few offices, one of which had Josh’s name in a fake-gold plaque with black lettering on the door. Josh’s office consisted of an industrial desk, two hard plastic chairs—one red, one blue—and a book shelf lined with large, three-ring binders with tags reading “Produce,” “Canned Goods,” and “Frozen Foods.” Three citations for employee of the month were framed and hanging on the wall next to the shelf. No windows. Josh gestured to the two plastic chairs and sat down in the cushioned one behind his desk.
“Terrible news,” said Josh.
“It is,” said Dean as he sat down.
“What can I do?”
“Tell us about the night he disappeared.”
“If Billy hadn’t gone missing, I probably wouldn’t remember it. Just a night really. Corey and Billy were at the Shambles. I had to work late—dealt with some mistaken orders. So when I got there they were already two or three beers in. But we ate some food, and I had a few myself.”
“How often did you guys meet up?”
“We tried to get together once a week at least. Sometimes more. Sometimes less. Depended on what was going on with work and stuff.”
“Always at the Shambles?”
“No, not always. Most of the time, but sometimes at Tracks. Sometimes at my place. Wherever.”
Dean scratched the side of his jaw. “So you’re having some food and drinks with Corey and Billy. Then what?”
Josh shifted in his chair, grabbed the edge of the desk, and dug at it with his thumb. “Then we left. Nothing really. It was a complete shock when we heard about Billy not showing up to work. Being missing and all.”
“What did you guys talk about?”
“Stuff. The playoffs. Work. Movies. I mean, we talked for a couple of hours. So lots of stuff.”
“What time did you leave?”
“Eleven-thirty-two.” Josh’s answer was too quick, too specific, and he knew it. “Something like that.”
Guthrie looked at Dean, but he kept his focus on Josh. “That’s pretty specific. Why do you remember it so clearly?”
“I don’t really. Well, I mean, I thought about it after I heard he was missing. So I talked to Corey to make sure we both remembered it the same way.” Josh dug at the desk’s corner with his thumb. “I don’t mean it that way. I mean, we talked after. Recalled. We thought the police would want to know.”
Dean nodded and frowned. “What are you not telling us, Josh?”
Josh stood up. “Look, I really need to get back to work.”
Dean remained sitting in his chair. Guthrie did not move.
“Come on, I need to get back to work.” He walked over to the door and opened it.
Dean stood up, took two steps toward Josh, and stood close to him. “All right.” He pulled out one of his business cards. “If you remember something, call me.” He placed the card into Josh’s shirt pocket, patted his chest, and walked out, followed by Guthrie.
As Josh started to the close the door, Dean put his right forearm to it. He looked at Josh, whose eyes were open wide. Dean bobbed his head from side to side. “So answer me this. Did Sarah and Alex have a thing on the side?”
The question surprised Josh, and he could not hide it, but he shook his head. “No. No. Absolutely not.”
Dean smiled, winked, and eased his arm off the door. He turned around as the door closed behind them. Back out into the store proper, the clerk walked up to Dean. She smiled and stood before him.
Dean smiled back. “Yes?”
“That Josh is a good boy.”
“Okay,” said Guthrie.
“You should know that. He’s a good boy.”
“Any reason why I would think differently?” Dean crossed his arms and tilted his head toward her.
“People talk in this town. But you shouldn’t believe everything you here is all.” She looked back to the register, where a man walked up cradling bread, peanut butter, and milk. “He’s a good boy.” She walked back to the check out lane.
The detectives sat in the car as it warmed up and lit cigarettes. “What the hell was that?” asked Guthrie.
“Which part?”
“Amy telling us he’s a good boy.” Guthrie saw the look on Dean’s face. “It was on her name badge.”
Dean nodded once. “Means something’s going around town about Josh. Or.” He inhaled deeply and blew the smoke out through the crack in the window. “Or about him and his buddies.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ve no idea, but we should find out. When you were doing your investigation after he disappeared, any rumors pop up?”
“No. Nothing. They seemed like close friends is all.”
“I think they probably are. Maybe Sarah’s father will tell us something.”
“Him next?” Guthrie stabbed the cigarette out in the ashtray.
“No. Let’s talk to Alex like we planned. We’ll talk to Sarah’s dad soon enough.”
* * *
Alex Smith worked at Adamson’s in the packaging and shipping department. That department broke the furniture down into its pieces and then boxed, wrapped in plastic-wrap, labeled for shipping, and loaded it all into trucks. The foreman told the detectives Alex’s shift was almost over and hoped they could wait. They did, sitting in the running car smoking. About thirty minutes after talking to the foreman, Alex walked out of the factory.
He bore a striking resemblance to his father. Short with a smallish nose that bent along the dorsal edge. He was wrapped in a heavy parka and knit hat. Dean rolled down the window. “Alex.”
Alex looked at him, surprised at his name being called.
Dean showed him his badge. “Get in. We need to talk.”
Alex shook his head and mumbled something lost to the cold. The door opened with a screech. He flopped himself heavily into the back seat and slammed the door closed. “What?”
Guthrie turned sideways in his seat and draped his arm along the top. “You don’t want us finding who killed your friend Billy?”
Dean looked back.
Alex pulled off his knit cap, revealing a full head of blond hair. Definitely did not get that from his father. “Course I do. But I already told you everything I know. What else do you want?”
“Missing is different than murder. So we have other questions,” said Dean.
“Shit man, I don’t know nothing.”
“Anything.”
“Hell, I don’t need or want a grammar lesson from you.” Alex pulled the door handle, letting the cold rush in through the crack.
“Where were you the night Billy disappeared? That’s a lot more important now. In your earlier statement, you said home. No alibi.”
“I need an alibi?” Alex jerked the door closed.
“It’d be helpful.”
“I don’t got one. I was home.”
“Why weren’t you at the Shambles with your buddies?”
Alex stared at the floor.
Guthrie tapped the top of the car seat. “We hear you and Billy had some sort of falling out. What’s up with that?”
“Can I smoke?”
Dean nodded.
Alex pulled out a pack of Marlboros, shook one loose, and lit it. Cracking the window. “He and I argued about Sarah.” He kept looking out the window, talking to it instead of Dean. “He was really falling for her, but she was just taking his money. Only interested in jewelry and expensive clothes.”
“That’s it? Corey said the same thing, but he and Billy were still drinking at the Shambles.”
“It got heated between us, okay? You know me, I’ve got a hot head sometimes.”
Dean almost praised him for his self-awareness. “So you two argue over Sarah. You were home the night of Billy’s disappearance. That right?”
“That’s right.”
“Who’d want to hurt Billy? Did he have any enemies?”
Alex stared out the door window. “Billy was a good guy. But he was gullible. Believed what people told him. Couldn’t see the darker side of folks.”
Dean waited for Alex to continue, but he did not. Guthrie raised his eyebrows. Dean said, “What does that mean? You think he was friendly with someone who hurt him? Someone besides Sarah?”
Alex sat in silence.
Guthrie snapped his fingers. “My colleague asked you a question.”
“Do you know what goes on in this town?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Shit.” Alex shook his head and flipped his cigarette out the window.
Dean sighed. “Look, a lot goes on in this town. But if you want to say something, say it. Stop beating around the bush.” He lit a cigarette.
“That body shop he works for, they’re big-time drug guys. They’re moving H coming in from Canada to New York.”
Guthrie looked at Dean. “Most of the drugs come from Miami up to the northeast.”
“Yeah, most, but not all. There’s money to be made.”
“How do you know this?” asked Guthrie.
“Rumors. People talking. McCord’s got a nice house. Really nice.”
“So, what? You think Billy found out about this and was killed?”
“Maybe. You wanted to know if he had any enemies.”
Dean breathed in and out deeply. “You hear this from your dad?” He knew that most of the drug investigations work fell to the State Police, despite his father’s efforts to keep that state agency out of Zion. But the District Attorney would know of any activities.
“Shit, I’m trying to be helpful. To know about McCord, you just have to have ears.”
“So back to you and Sarah.”
Alex looked back out the window.
Guthrie rubbed his thumb on the steering wheel. Dean watched Alex as Guthrie asked, “You and her have a thing?”
Alex turned to look at the back of Guthrie’s head, and Dean saw his jaw clench. Alex opened the door and slammed it behind him.
Dean leaned over the front seat and said out Guthrie’s now open window. “You want to tell us?”
Alex took two steps and stopped. With his back to the detectives, he turned his head. “Fuck you.” He walked away, lifting his hood over his head as he did so.
Dean flicked his still burning cigarette out the open window before Guthrie rolled it up.
Guthrie twisted himself back around in his seat and grabbed the steering wheel. “So?”
“Let’s get back to the station.” He turned on the radio. The solo from Talking Heads’s version of “Take Me to the River” crackled through the speakers.
“You think there’s anything to what he said?” He put the car into gear and pulled forward into the cars of the employees leaving work.
“It’s more than we had before. Frankly, makes more sense if Billy was shot because of drugs than because Corey or Alex thought Sarah was screwing him over. Or if Alex and Sarah were a thing and something happened because of that.”
“Or if Alex thought he could have her to himself by taking out his competition.”
“Definitely a possibility. But why would Billy go out to the Pratts to meet with Alex?”
“If it were drugs, there’d be a reason to meet.”
“Right, and for my money, it makes more sense if it’s McCord than if it’s Zorn dealing in drugs.”
“You think Billy was a part of it? Dealing drugs I mean?”
“Like I said, we know more than we did before. Let’s see where it leads.”
Guthrie drove them back to the station in silence except for the radio.
* * *
Dean typed up his reports for the rest of the afternoon, taking nips from his flask the entire time. In New York, fellow officers had often complained about report fatigue, that they spent most of their days writing reports. Dean, however, had found the activity helpful, therapeutic even. It had started in Vietnam. One of the great misconceptions of soldiering was that they spent all their time fighting or waiting to fight. Broadly true, but the military was a report hungry machine. And one of the more important reports in Vietnam were after-action reports. Whenever they got into a fire fight—no matter how small—they radioed back the initial confirmed kills and probables and casualties. Those made their way up the chain, getting inflated to ensure the ratio of casualties and confirmed kills and probables was palatable to the commanders and politicians back in Saigon or D.C.
But the after-action reports, the ones written by the soldiers in the fight, were the history of the battle, the basis for medal citations, the path of promotion. Those reports entered the official record. They became history. For Dean, they helped him contextualize and, eventually, accept what had happened. Friends saved him. Luck was on his side. But those reports, the act of writing down what happened kept him sane.
By the time he was a detective in New York, he used reports to help him think, to sort through the mental clutter of the interviews, to reflect on truthfulness and logic. Sort the good from the bad.
So when he rolled the paper into the typewriter, a sense of calm descended over him. Every press of the key and its hard slam against the paper and the appearance of the letter as it slid into view made, somehow, permanent the conversations. Brought them into history. Like all history, it was more perception of facts than objective context. Another thing he had learned in Vietnam, reading over dozens of his officers’ reports: History is one person’s context in time and place.
And what he was getting from the interviews with Corey, Josh, Alex, and Sarah was exactly what he would have expected. Different emphases. Different interpretations. Different truths. One person’s truth did not falsify another’s. It might, but it might not.
Five interviews essentially covering the same span of time the night Billy disappeared. Billy goes to work and then to the Shambles. Around eleven-thirty or so, Corey, Josh, and Billy leave, and Billy is not seen alive again. Except by the killer.
What was particularly interesting were the different interpretations of what Billy was like. Some general remarks as to his kindness or being a great guy—not uncommon from those trying to not sully the memory of the dead. Then Billy’s attitude toward work. Did he or did he not like it? Was he or was he not being used by Sarah?
Dean was inclined to believe Sarah regarding the jewelry. His friends had a wrong impression, but Corey’s wrong impression seemed genuine and Alex’s forced. He could not explain why, other than he felt that Alex was purposively leaving details out, and his hunch was Sarah and Alex had slept together at least. Perhaps during one of the breaks between Billy and Sarah. Perhaps not. It could even be more meaningful than a roll in the sack. But Alex had shown up shortly after Billy left the Shambles.
And then Billy’s pile of cash, which was not from working hard at McCord’s every day. The Communist Manifesto still stumped him. Pile of cash and communism? How did those fit in. Something was going on, and Josh—just by how the interview went—seemed like the weak link.
He twisted his chair around, opened a blank page in his notepad, and wrote down his next steps. Visit Paul Zorn. Follow up about McCord. Visit Sarah’s father. He tapped his pen against the paper. Bring in Josh to the station to talk. He put a question mark at the end of that last one.
After stacking all the papers together and bouncing them on the desk to align the edges, he put them in a folder labeled interviews and stuck them in a larger, gray-green folder holding the autopsy report and crime scene photos. He slid the report into the bottom drawer of his desk, refilled his flask, and locked the desk drawer. He looked at his watch and saw it was after five, so he put on his coat and drove over to his parents. His mom met him at the door and said she and Jenny had had fun that day and had not eaten yet. Dean smiled and escorted his daughter to the car, where he suggested they get tacos at La Jolla restaurant, a place that had opened in the last year, and go seeSuperman, which he knew she wanted to see. She smiled and agreed. The tacos were disappointing, but the movie thrilled Dean. He told Jenny about The Adventures of Superman when he was young, how he would watch it every week. As he reflected on this conversation later, he sensed that Jenny was indulging her father by listening to his memories much as he indulged his own father’s.
As they walked into Dean’s house, Jenny said she saw Uncle Tony earlier that day. Even she noticed the surprise look on his face. “He came over. He said he knew I was visiting and wanted to see me at least once.”
Dean smiled and said that was great. Perhaps the thaw between Tony and Eric was indeed occurring.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Clearing - Chapter 16


Start with Chapter 1


CHAPTER 16

Dean’s plan had been to pick up Jenny and head home, making her a dinner of spaghetti and garlic bread and maybe a salad. He had a limited repertoire of cooking, but he could accomplish that.
Instead, he stopped at the Shambles, which was empty except for an elderly couple drinking coffee in a booth and Joe Banks at his barstool. The evening crowd, such as it was on a weekday, was not due for another hour or so.
Joe nodded and told the bartender something before Dean put his elbows on the bar and crossed his hands in front of his chest.
“How’s it going Dean?” asked Joe.
Dean nodded. “It’s all right.”
The bartender, Gordon Vito, slapped a coaster down in front of Dean and then a bottle of Pabst. Dean looked up and Gordy pointed at Joe.
To Joe, Dean said, “Thanks.”
“Any time.”
“How’s the case going?”
“Actually, that’s why I’m here. Gordon, were you working the night of January second?”
Gordon had been tending bar at the Shambles since after Korea where he had flown a Chickasaw helicopter, flying front-line medical missions, helping to pioneer the use of helicopters that would save so many lives in Vietnam. He kept his hair cut in the high-and-tight style, graying along the sides. “Yeah, I was here.”
“Did you remember Billy and his friends? Guthrie’s report says you do.”
Joe looked at Gordon.
Gordon nodded. “If that’s what it says, then that’s what I said. Billy, Corey, and Josh. They were drinking.”
Dean lifted his beer and held it as he asked, “Anything seem odd?” He took a drink.
Joe put his hand on Dean’s shoulder and leaned over. “What’s with the questions of Gordy?”
Dean pushed Joe’s hand off. “Just part of the job. Gordon, anything odd?”
Gordon looked at Joe, shrugged, and looked at Dean. “Nope. Normal so far as I could tell. They talked and drank. The only odd thing was Alex showed up after they’d gone.”
“He did, did he?”
Gordon nodded once.
“What time did he show up?”
Gordon twisted his lips and looked up at the ceiling.
Joe shook his finger. “It was after I left. ‘Cause I didn’t see Alex after. I didn’t. And I left right after the game. The Knicks lost.”
Gordon gave a thumbs up to Joe. “He’s right. Alex showed up after Joe left and right after Billy, Corey, and Josh left, but not long. Before midnight that’s for sure.”
Dean took a drink and gazed up at the mirror above the bottles behind Gordon.
After a significant pause, Joe put his hand on Dean’s shoulder and quickly withdrew it. “That answer your questions?”
Dean shook his head to clear his mind. “Yeah, I think so.” He looked at Gordon and cocked his head to the side. “One last thing. I know Sarah and William were an item, but you see anything between Sarah and Alex?”
Gordon shrugged. He picked up a wet cocktail glass and wrapped a white towel around it, rubbing it dry. “I don’t know. Maybe? She was friendly with all of them. More so Billy, but yeah, I’d see Alex’s arm around her when Billy wasn’t around that I wouldn’t like if I were him.” He slid the glass into the slot hanging above the bar and grabbed another.
Joe asked, “So what does that mean?”
Dean took another drink. He smiled at Joe. “Not sure yet. Thanks for the beer.” He placed a dollar on the bar and walked out. As he drove to his parent’s to pick up Jenny, he replayed the discussion with Gordon in his head, trying to understand why Joe was so odd during it. He had not come to a satisfactory answer when he pulled into his parents’ driveway. When he opened the front door and walked a couple of steps in, the smells of cooking charged forth: Cherry pie, potatoes, and hot oil.
Jenny ran up and hugged him and told him grandma was making dinner for all of them and a pie for dessert.
Dean hugged his daughter back. “Did you have fun today, pumpkin?”
She smiled and nodded vigorously. They had played board games and worked on a puzzle together—half completed on a living room card table.
“What is that?” he asked.
“Castle New-shwa something.”
“Castle Neuschwanstein. The Walt Disney castle is based on it,” said Jessica, her voice coming from the kitchen. “Your father’s in the family room. Jenny, dear, why don’t you help me mash these potatoes?”
Jenny said, “Coming,” and darted out of the room.
Dean walked into the family room, where his father sat in his dark brown recliner. On the end table between the recliner and matching sofa sat a pipe cradle—cigars were reserved for work—with three pipes, all bent stems, along with a pack of pipe cleaners in a Ziploc bag, and a pipe lighter. The kitchen’s smells were defeated by the cherry tobacco. A cream and light red striped wallpaper put up many years before covered the walls. Dean had assisted in the process. The lamps were his mother’s touch. Light red, almost pink glass bases with cream light shades. TimeNewsweek, and Sports Illustrated fanned out on the pine coffee table. The Zenith console TV was encased in a dark, reddish wood. Family photos sat in a mixture of gold and wood frames. One photo was of a younger Eric and Jessica in San Diego just after his father’s return home from Korea, where he had been stationed after Japan surrendered.
“How’d it go?” asked Eric, looking up at Dean. He held a copy of The Shining, corners of the pages bent showing his progress through the book.
“It was a day. We’ve got some context for what happened up to about eleven-thirty the night of his disappearance.” Dean updated his dad on what Renard had told him, including the passports, cash, and copies of communist paraphernalia.
Eric re-fired his pipe tobacco and took a couple of heavy puffs. “Hmm. What’s next?”
“We still need to talk to Josh and Alex. And I think we need to make a visit to Zorn.”
Eric set the book down beside the pipe stand. Zorn and the chief had long known each other, indeed, had been rivals since high school. Zorn joined the Navy and saw action supporting MacArthur’s drive through the south Pacific to the Philippines. After the war, he founded the Grim Devils motorcycle club, which he had run since. To most people, Zorn ran a trucking company most notable for hauling Adamson’s furniture south to New York and served as president of a club of war veterans. The Wallaces, however, knew better. The Grim Devils were an integral part of illegal drug distribution in Zion. For years, Eric had attempted to get enough evidence to prove it but had failed. “What the hell does he have to do with this?”
“William’s cash. I can’t think of a legitimate reason to have that much. Nothing we’ve found yet at least. The obvious answer is its drugs, and we know where Zorn is with that. Just want to cover all the bases.”
The chief grunted. “What about that commie—”
Jenny jogged into the family room. “Dinner’s ready.” She smiled.
“What’d I tell you about running in the house?” said Eric as he wrapped his hands around the recliner’s armrests, lifting himself up.
“Sorry grandpa.”
“Don’t be sorry. Do what I asked.”
Jenny nodded and looked at her father, he shrugged, though Eric could not see that.
The chief paused by Dean as he was standing. “You got to talk to the reporter.”
“Paige?”
“Yeah, but I don’t care what her name is. If the paper sends over a reporter, you talk to her. I can’t have you getting the department on their bad side.”
“I think—”
Eric stared hard at Dean, running his tongue across the inside of his cheek and across his bottom lip. “This isn’t a debate.”
After a plateful of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and creamed corn casserole, Jenny excused herself from the table to work on the puzzle. Dean complimented the chef on the meal. She smiled and said, “You’re welcome.”
Dean tapped the top of the table next to his plate and then pushed the fork around before setting it down. “I saw Tony today.”
Eric’s eyes opened wide and he screwed his mouth sideways.
Jessica smiled. “How’d he look?”
“Good. He looked good. Didn’t have time to talk, though.”
“Probably too busy dodging,” said his dad.
“Eric.” Jessica was the one person who could scold the chief. Not even the mayor dared to. “He’s trying to make up for it.” She too had been disappointed by her son’s skills in avoiding the draft, but her sense of duty to country was less rigid than Eric’s. She accepted Tony’s job working for the FBI as his belated attempt to serve his country.
“Let’s not talk about him. Not while there’s pie to eat.”
“Pie sounds good,” said Dean.
After, the two men sat at the table, coffee cups in front of them, crumbs of pie on the plate. Eric said, “Keep working this case hard. Like you been doing. The drug angle could be right. Just don’t press Zorn too hard. He’s tough.”
“I will. I did follow up with Gordon.”
“Gordie at the Shambles?”
“Yes. He said Alex came in after the others left. About midnight.”
“Hmmph. Be careful with that one.”
Dean pulled out his flask, twisted it open, and started to pour a shot into the coffee.
Eric put his hand over Dean’s coffee cup. “Don’t do that son. You’re driving that angel home.” He pointed to the room from which the combined laughter of Jessica and Jenny emerged.
Dean looked at his dad, tried not to glare, but put the cap back on. “I plan on finding out who did this to Billy. I’ll follow the evidence.”

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