Never is Now – Chapters 15-17

Chapter Fifteen

To expect the best or the worst from a man was foolhardy. Most did enough to get by and called it a job well done. Getting by, it was all that life really asked. No one Boggs knew ever consciously obeyed the law; everyone got by it. Those veering too far off sometimes were caught, but the penalties were seldom severe enough to coerce a man back. Boggs appreciated those who got by on the fringe and if possible or profitable he helped them when they took the fall. The type he instinctively reacted against was the achiever, the one who did more than just get by, the loner driven beyond redemption to get within reach of the dark idol of his goal and then strike so quickly as to be almost unobserved. By far most criminals weren’t achievers. Ninety-nine out of every hundred that passed through the courts paid not so much for their crimes as their stupidity. They were stupid enough to allow themselves to be blinded by passion, deluded by drink or thralled to the thrill coursing through their blood. The only link between the horde and the achiever was the criminal act itself; the former acting out of thoughtless desperation and the latter calculating within the shadow of the idol, the long desired goal, and the obstacle that stood before it. The swift and sure dispatch of Billy Blake had the hallmarks of an achiever, one so determined he left nothing but ashes. There was no evidence of, and it was pointless even to look for, signs of an impassioned quarrel or something as ordinary as a grudge. No, the murder wasn’t the work of an outraged person but a bent businessman. The fire suggested just how profitable the business was. Blake was a liability that had to be removed. But what fire Wendy Allen set in the mind of the killer, possibly just her killer, eluded Boggs. As a result, he fell in with everyone else, concluding solely on the basis of the swift and sure way the killer plucked her and then dropped her spent carcass that he, the anonymous he, the killer came out of nowhere and thence returned. If silence was what the killer meant to accomplish, and certainly the death of Blake, and Allen too, imposed the absolute, then there seemed the imposition of another silence from another quarter: the sheriff’s department. Boggs realized there was a certain prejudice at work here. His last two years at Greensburg PD were spent in the detective division. The rivalry between the city squad and the county’s was such that when Boggs joined the DA’s staff as an investigator his inclination was to work against the sheriff’s men. They were not so much inexperienced as inept. Yet their laziness and clumsiness wasn’t what disturbed Boggs now.
Through the years Boggs came to realize that the most concise and cogent statement a man could make was a fart; words utterly failed men. In the field and in the courtroom, time and again, he watched helplessly while well-meaning people so distorted the truth that it became irrevocably lost. So for Boggs the safest course was to pay close attention to what a person didn’t say. That the sheriff’s department failed to say anything about a possible connection between murder weapons deafened Boggs.
Standing woodenly before the barbwire-rimmed fence surrounding the jail, Boggs wondered if what he saw could deafen him. He plugged a finger in his ear and concluded what he heard was only the remnant of the shotgun ringing. He resumed his examination of the four-foot slice in the links. It was a neat vertical cut, already mended with thicker, darker wire. Absently he touched one of the tips of the new wire and watched a thin crease of blood surface. As he sucked the blood he scanned the compound, passing over the trustee mowing burnt grass, over Trollinger’s Plymouth and trailer, and alighting on the walls of the jail, a structure which brought to mind the Alamo. Everyone was safely inside those walls, numbered and stored in roles and niches; the orange clad trustee, the half naked inmates hanging on darkened windows. Everyone was safe but Trollinger.
The screech of tires diverted Boggs’ attention toward the back of the jail. A gray cruiser rocked after hitting the curb and coming to a stop. Tinnin pulled himself out from behind the wheel. Boggs called to him.
Tinnin’s big smile looked as if pinned. The pinch of snuff under his lower lip seemed responsible. His stride reminded Boggs of a dog irrepressibly shaking with excitement. For this Boggs granted him his best smile. “How you gettin’ along, Tinnin?”
“The hurrier I go the behinder I get.” The deputy’s walkie squawked. He spoke into the receiver saying he was 10-7 and holstered the radio.
“Hear you was down at Blake’s trailer. Find anything interesting?”
“Can’t rightly say.” He spit juice and added, “Noways for sure.”
“Can’t stir you boys with a stick.”  Grinning, Boggs shook his head reprovingly. “Spose you can’t say what happened here either?” He pointed to the slice in the fence.
“Was one 10-55 coming to fetch another, but you might could say the boy sort a missed his turn.”
“Naturally it happened after Trollinger got his?”
“Yep, third shift. They was gettin’ it all night, way I hear it.”
“And where’s this drunk driver now?” Boggs nodded toward the Alamo jail.
“Fled, I heard.” He spit.
“Fled?”  Boggs jingled the coins in his pocket. “Seems like a man can’t get in jail easy as he once could.  I mean, the boy all but drove up to the jail door.”
Tinnin shrugged. “There’s them that get away.”
“Yeah, and sometimes with murder.”
Tinnin smiled. “Ya know, why just the other day I come over here ...’fore they done the mending. And I’ll be damned if there weren’t no paint on the fence, no glass, no nothing on the ground ... Not even a buckle in the fence. Sure seemed like that DUI sort a blessed it, ‘stead of hitting it.”
“If you want my theory, I’d say this drunk driver of yours slipped right through here and went up to Trollinger’s window.”
Tinnin spit. “Me, I don’t know nothing about theories.”
Boggs asked if the deputy was aware Trollinger had been taken to Central Prison for safekeeping.
“Heard they was fixing to. Judge Hardy sign the order?”
“Shouldn’t he?”
“Just seems like he’s taken what you might could call a real special interest in the boy’s case.”
“Why’s that?”
“Oh, I was there for his first appearance. Cleared the courtroom and everything. Wasn’t like your usual not-guilty hearing.”
The silence that intervened was broken when Boggs jingled his coins. “Say, they ever—I’m sure they did. But I never did hear no one say what was the results of the ballistics they run on Blake and Allen.”
“You on her case too?”
“Strictly charity work.”
“Thought when they throwed out the life line you was the one drifting away.”
“What about the ballistics?”
“Can’t say as I heard.”  Without prodding, Tinnin explained that unlike other major investigations there was very little talk about the Allen murder. “No jokes or nothing. But there’s a good reason for it. Like the old men down my way say, If you can’t protect your women, ain’t no hope of protecting the children.”
“Seems like you boys would a done it first thing, seeing as how it was a .38 in both.”
“Everybody’s got himself a .38.”
“Almost every cop does.”
“Yep, that or a .357 or a Glock 22 or a 9mil or a 45cal  ... I could go on.” Tinnin wanted to say more but hesitated. He wiped a trickle of juice from the corner of his mouth. He studied Boggs, wondering how far he could go. Where men were concerned there were no guarantees, not anymore; and certainly not from the likes of Boggs, a man so despised by the department for his conniving and so loathed by others for his philandering. Guarantees or no, the five days since Trollinger’s court appearance defied any standard of caution. Time lost track of itself, forgot how to count, and so the days were interminable and the nights infinite. The nickel-plated .38 special he now carried at all times wasn’t much of a companion. Still, while he knew he wasn’t safe with it, he felt threatened without it—without it and the AGT .22 rifle with the long clip. With or without the weapons, he distrusted everything he saw, he heard, he imagined. He distrusted himself most of all.
His deliberations took him a step further—maybe by telling Boggs what he knew the heavy hand on his conscience would lighten with the sharing. 
“Boggs, I’m gonna tell ya something on account—Know why? On account there ain’t no one that likes you. Hear them that do like you can’t say why for sure. So I’m gonna tell ya something.”
Tinnin had scarcely started when Boggs broke in, “What’s ‘sense’?”
“What they call marijuana buds. Spost to be real strong, kind a like grape brandy only you smoke it.”
Boggs never stopped jingling the coins. So voluble as to surprise even himself, Tinnin told him how the franchise worked, how he learned about it, how Mary Jane knew Trollinger wasn’t safe in jail, how Shorter, Wynne and the sheriff were more interested in the informant than the information, and how he found the butt of a Kools at Trollinger’s trailer.”
“So what? Know how many people smoke Kools?”
“Yeah, but Shorter smokes ‘em. Go see for yourself ... Yeah, go on over there tonight and ...And see if he still’s got all that dope. Rolls of it, just lying around on his desk. Said Wynne seized it, but he ain’t made no arrest or nothing to show for it. I checked. So it ain’t like it’s evidence. He told me he was fixing to burn it. The onliest thing is I ain’t never heard of anyone burning dope or anything else for that matter .... Ya know, how’s they’re spost to burn confiscated weapons every so often. Never heard of one burning.”
“So why you telling me all this?”
Tinnin’s stomach cinched. “Cuz everyone hates you, and won’t no one believe you if you go repeating it.”

            Chapter Sixteen

The dried underarm stains reappeared within minutes of his leaving the air conditioned office. The crescents were wet again and growing larger. The forecast was for cooling temperatures; down in the 80s, a feat the steamy night showed no signs of performing. The stagnant air resembled a membrane, one pliable sheet after another. Boggs hooked his suit coat over his shoulder and loosened his tie further. He rolled a flat toothpick over the tops of his lower teeth. His eyes, painted the usual way by Ancient Age, swept across the law enforcement quad. Bats, too quick to count, dove through the street lights lining the walkways.  Boggs crossed to the PD side of Davis. From a block away he heard the profane merriment coming from a dingy bar called Gipper’s. The place was a veritable pharmacy, bootlegging all sorts of highs. Times harder than the loneliest night found Boggs there, slowly sinking with all the others toward dawn and greater desperation. Those times allowed for others, when information was what he needed.  Boggs turned away from Gipper’s and toward the river, cutting down Bragg. He had a blind date with a calculated risk.
Boggs had plans for some of what Tinnin told him. A great deal of the information was unserviceable, even if it were true; and not for a minute did Boggs believe it wasn’t. Even so, he laughed with mirth and malice at the neatly wrapped way Tinnin implicated Shorter simply because the sergeant smoked Kools; a single cigarette, one of hundreds of thousand made each year, and Tinnin or any other deputy or detective over there concluded the case closed. Tinnin was likeable enough; in fact, it was impossible to dislike the man. No, the problem with the deputy was the outfit he worked for. The sheriff’s department did nothing so much as sink to new, as yet unexplored or even unimagined, depth of incompetence. Deputies made the common criminal seem a mastermind, and pitted against the Blake killer, the entire bumbling bunch were drowning in the hadal depths of its own ignorance. In the Allen case, without a clue, without so much as a scene of the crime, deputies roared up and down the county in great officious haste, so determined and persistent; but only persisting in their incompetent ways so that any chance of examining what they already had or finding anything new was lost, trampled and buried under their own rushing tread. Yet even as they worked against themselves, there were a few that worked for themselves.
Of all the prominent figures in the department, the cocksure captain of vice was one who deserved to be brought down. Wynne didn’t so much fit the description of an achiever as redefine the limits: decorated Special Forces officer with three tours in Vietnam, a meteoric rise through the ranks at Greensburg PD, the well publicized promotion to captain and chief of the then newly created vice squad, an elite unit under the sheriff’s command which was to rid the city and county of all its sins; all this despite the continuing controversy surrounding the man and his methods, despite this blatantly illegal use of criminals on probation and prostitutes to catch would-be felons, despite the three serious accidents in which Wynne, had he been a civilian, would have been charged with driving under the influence, despite the near riot he touched off in Halifax by shooting a dog for no apparent reason, despite the Frye case in which he gave a service revolver to an informant who then shot and killed two suspected drug dealers; the DA’s office considered itself lucky to get a manslaughter conviction against Frye. Many of Wynne’s busts never got past the preliminary hearing due to that stickler of a concept called probable cause; and those cases that did pass muster were generally plea bargained because Wynne had this embarrassing knack of explaining an individual’s rights with a blackjack. Miranda could have been an illegal Mexican for all he cared.  The thing of it was that Wynne knew better, better than anyone else. He was the only cop ever to attend the FBI Academy, an accomplishment even Boggs respected. Yet all his training paled against that troubled kind of liberty exercised by an achiever. In wedding himself to the community, Wynne took it not for better or worse, but for richer, period. In many ways Wynne was very rich indeed. More than that, he was proof you could take your riches with you. For whenever he fell, he landed firmly on his feet, ready, more than willing and extremely able.
Having associated with Wynne while a DA investigator, Boggs knew that the man met everyone head-on, as if he or she were an obstacle, something to be overcome, overpowered, preferably crushed and removed. Such a personality seemed tailored to the Blake killing, but definitely not Allen’s. And to assume that Wynne was involved in selling drugs wasn’t merely an assumption but a fantastic leap. The man dedicated his life to law enforcement, certainly not for the money or the hours, probably not even out of respect for the law, but for the job itself, a job that allowed him to flex his powerful personality. A man had to have a place in which to fit. Finding it was as important a force as sex, and once he found it instinct would prevent him from jeopardizing it. Wynne’s niche was that of a cop, albeit a rogue cop. It was his place where time became his. To think he would endanger his one and only place in life was no less absurd than to think an extinguished cigarette was enough proof to arrest a man. Wynne’s only known connection to drugs was to stamp out its illegal trade; and while drugs doubtless played a role in Blake’s death, since he was a dealer and stupid, two of the surest ways to get killed, there was no evidence, not even a hint, of drugs in the Allen case. If she wanted to slum it and buy “sense” she could surely afford to meet any price. But by all accounts she wasn’t interested in drug; she was an athlete, a competitive runner.
Overwhelming as the reasons were to dismiss any link between Wynne and the murders, Boggs saw no reason why he shouldn’t pursue the possibility; if for no other reason than to run the cigarette theory up Wynne’s flagpole and watch it flap. And besides, he was available tonight since his latest sugar was home at mother’s and his wife was probably in bed, holding out no hope of her husband joining her.

Boggs walked down the drive of the brick house, headed for the yellow light over the side door. When the light went out, he hurried to meet whoever was leaving. His stride faltered when no one came out. Just then the dark windows brightened. He hastened to the door, giving it a solid rap. No one answered. To his disbelief he thought he heard sounds inside. He knocked again.
“Get in here.”
Boggs wrapped the paw he had for a hand around the knob but hesitated, then cautiously turned it. The door was locked. He jiggled the knob.
“Kick it in” came the scream.
Rearing back, Boggs hoisted his beefy left leg and then stopped. He smiled. He removed a thin blade with a wooden handle from his inner coat pocket and picked the lock. The grin he toted in split. A man, the size of a pony, was stretched out on the floor. Dressed as usual in his country club casual, Wynne ordered the detective to call rescue.
Wynne continued to administer CPR. Boggs stood beside the black phone on the secretary’s desk but didn’t dial. Something was wrong, or if not wrong, very peculiar. He studied Wynne, but not until the captain rose to take in a heavy load of air did Boggs see what it was. The man was wearing sunglasses, dark sunglasses at night.
“Call ‘em, dammit,” shouted Wynne, who dropped to deliver the next payload of air.
Boggs picked up the receiver but again didn’t place the call. He stared at the fallen man’s rumpled pant leg, fascinated by the stark contrast between the black sock and the white skin. He thought only glossy paint could be that white. The lifeless face was losing color, awash in a bluish gray, a shade many times lighter than that of the man’s disheveled suit. The clay-like texture of the man’s skin was so malleable that Wynne’s thumb sunk deep under the chin. Boggs broke away and when he pushed the first of three digits, it suddenly occurred to him who the prostate man was. The flushed face! That was why he failed to recognize him. In all the years Boggs had known the man he never once saw the sheriff so quiet, so white, so composed. He completed the call. In the second it took for an answer he looked at the sheriff and Wynne, the two locked in a dedicated regime with the sense of hope almost tactile. Just as he was about to speak, Boggs burst into laughter. He clenched his teeth to stifle the sound.
“Just what in the hell was so funny?” asked Wynne after an ambulance had carted off the sheriff.
“I wasn’t laughing,” said Boggs as he watched the deputies who had gathered disperse. He looked at Wynne and fought back the curl of a smile. The captain still wore the sunglasses. “What happened?”
“I don’t know.” Wynne rested his butt on the rail. “We were leaving. Just about at the door when all of a sudden he fell, keeled right over. He said something about retiring and just fell over.” He snapped his fingers to illustrate how quickly it happened.
Boggs said, “The way it happens sometimes.” He added, “But the EMT’s think he’ll be all right.” He settled into a pause. “Probably be as good as new.”
“You sound disappointed.”
“Oh, me and Harris go way back. Use to let him cheat at cards so long as the pot wasn’t too rich. After all, he provided the liquor, the good stuff too.”
“So what’re you doing here anyway? And where were you when I was outside?”
“Snoopin’ around.” Boggs had found no trace of the marijuana Tinnin mentioned. “Got a smoke?”
“Find what you were looking for?” Wynne flicked up a pack of Marlboro. Boggs pinched one. Wynne took one himself and lit his first, then the one Boggs pressed to his lips.
Watching the flame dance toward him, Boggs said, “Don’t reckon I did.” He puffed and exhaled in squirts, fighting back the urge to cough. “Ya know, I never knew you were an arson specialist. Where’d you—“
“Stick to your cheating wives, Boggs.”
Boggs admired the smoke, rolling the filter. “Spose with that kind of training you’d know how to start one with just—“
“I said, Stick to your cheating wives.”
“Hey, they told me you smoked menthols. What’s with the cowboy smokes?”
Wynne drove his fist into the big man’s jaw.

Chapter Seventeen

The silence rang out. All day long masons worked on erecting a 74-foot obelisk in the center of the new law enforcement quad. Why they needed jackhammers confounded Boggs; after all, they were building the confederate monument, not tearing it down, and besides, the top 47 feet had already been carved in Italy. Yet in the quiet aftermath, without any immediate annoyances to complain about, Boggs couldn’t stay still. His office felt confining, too cluttered with baleful reminders. One was the tape recorder which contained the ludicrous tale of Gail Etheridge, the girl who accompanied Wendy Allen through Asia and Mexico. Reached by phone in Charlottesville, Etheridge gave a glowing account of their trip saying that whatever problems they encountered were not too difficult for their friend, Simon Sasser, to handle. Wendy met him jogging one day and he befriended the pair, at once taking charge of their affairs. They saw him every day while in Singapore, Hong Kong and Macao. In Mexico he proved to be a knowledgeable tour guide, fluent in Spanish as well as Portuguese, Mandarin and Cantonese. Altogether they were with him for twenty-seven days. Despite all the time they spent together, Etheridge knew very little about the man; she wasn’t even sure where he lived. She thought his home base was Singapore. She knew he was in shipping but in what capacity she was uncertain. Likewise, she was at a loss as to how to contact him. What she was sure of was that he was the handsomest man she had ever seen, and why he chose Wendy over her was decision that barred the admission of rationality.
Boggs stopped pacing. At the door he switched off the overhead light. The room huddled around the desk lamp. He resumed his walk, feeling the claims the walls and framed displays made on him. There were certificates, licenses, an associate degree, an honorable discharge and an expertly-done architectural drawing he used in a murder case some years back; they all worked for and against him. He stopped at his desk, sneering at the heap of scribbled notes, none of which amounted to anything. He went to the window and let the rattling breeze from the air conditioner roll down the slope of his belly. He looked out at the night. All was at a standstill; no traffic, no noise. He cussed and went back to his desk. He stared into the dark and forced himself to go down the dead end of maybe’s once again:
Maybe there was an address for this Simon Sasser hidden in Wendy’s room; if there was the doctor couldn’t find it. But there had to be one somewhere, after all she wrote to him every day. Maybe this man thousands of miles away could have killed her, or ordered her death, and the executioner took it upon himself to rape her, to beat and bludgeon her; after all, there was no prescribed way to murder. Maybe Sasser and Wynne knew each other, having met in Asia when Wynne was in the army … or when they both were in the army. Maybe it took more than ten years to establish a supply line from Asia. Maybe Wynne wasn’t involved at first but once he discovered the line he took charge and became the sole distributor, the so called franchiser who had all the kids spooked, this JCPenney of the underworld. Maybe Wendy and Gail, so smitten by the man-who-lived-everywhere, never took a good look, never knew or suspected enough to look behind his so called shipping concern. Maybe Sasser ordered Wynne’s removal because the incorrigible captain took more than his share, and so Sasser hired someone to perform the brutal rites and leave a trail back to Wynne so some unsuspecting character such as Carson Tinnin would have no other choice than to believe, doubt but at the same time believe, that Wynne was the killer. Maybe it wasn’t happenstance that Tinnin fell into this role. Maybe Sasser’s man or men ran a check on Tinnin and knew at what point the deputy would be forced through personal conviction to sever ties with the department and betray a fellow officer. Maybe Sasser’s operatives knew more about Dinwoodie County than Boggs himself.
And then again, maybe not. Maybe Tinnin was a confused paranoid, acting out of some desperate remorse for a deed committed on the night of the Blake murder when he should have been on patrol. Maybe he suspected Wynne out of a new-found dislike because the legendary Wynne, maybe even a hero to Tinnin, couldn’t catch the killer. Maybe Tinnin wasn’t striking out at Wynne but at the department for turning its back on Blake and concentrating, if such an activity could be attributed to the department, on the Allen case. And maybe Wynne could punch like a contender, but he wasn’t big time; after all, this was backwater U.S. of A., a town not unlike any other and just as capable of killing as any big city. And maybe they were selling “sense,” but if it was homegrown, the need to import from Asia or Mexico disappeared. And maybe Sasser was nothing more than Wendy’s paramour. And maybe Wynne was what he represented himself to be, a cop, underpaid and overworked. And maybe Tinnin was just plain dumb, so reckless that before long he would accuse the sheriff himself of a crime perpetrated while flat on his back in the coronary unit. And maybe … “Maybe I ought to get a drink.”
Boggs left for Gipper’s.
In the midst of the usual crowd of kids outside sitting on cars, drinking beer and smoking whatever, was Sally Allen. Although he wore loafers, Boggs bent down and pretended to tie his shoes. His surveillance told him that she was no debutant. Her dress was the same as the others; tank tops and jean skirt, and her speech was fouler than the others. She was downright common; swilling beer, smoking, spitting and letting any arm reach around her shoulder. Rather than bypass the group as he usually did, Boggs waded through it. He received the greeting of a regular. While he joked about underage drinking, he steadied his sights on Allen. “Buy you a beer?”
“Sure, why not?” She examined her tall neck bottle and drained it.
At this time of the night the scales at Gipper’s tilted toward the pool tables. That end, overcast with smoke, smelled like sour dough starter, but the young and old, either playing or perched on the elevated benches, didn’t seem to notice. Boggs steered Sally toward the far end of the bar where they could talk without interruption. He ordered two beers, drinking his before the bartender had a chance to pour a shooter from a plastic pitcher. He threw back the bourbon and held out the glass for another. Once he finished the second, the glass disappeared under the bar. Another beer in hand, he asked the girl,”Need something else?”
“Like what?”
“You tell me.”
She shrugged and took a pull on her bottle.
Boggs said, “Ya know, I work for your father?”
She cut her eyes at him. Through pressed lips she said, “That—What, he got you following me?”
Smiling, Boggs explained who he was and how he had been hired to investigate Wendy’s death.
“So what’s that got to do with me?”
“Nothing. Just—“
“Good. See—“
“Don’t run off.”
She squared herself in front of him. “You’re a fucking creep, you know that?”
“Yeah, and your sister was raped and murdered. Ever think it was you they were after?”
“No,” she replied defensively. “Why should I? Wendy wasn’t the—She wasn’t the All American girl they make her out to be. She got around.”
“Around here?”
“Oh, no. She was too good for that. It was always Charlottesville. Everything was always better at U.V. A.”
“Even the dope?”
Sally sneered. “Her? Dope? You gotta be kidding. She’s one of those fitness freaks. Going around all the time saying how a joint was the same as a pack of cigarettes.”
Boggs drank. “You didn’t like her?”
“Naw,” she said, her voice fading as she cast her eyes down. “I like her enough. Just that she’s always—Well, I’m always compared to her, like.”
“That day you dropped her off for the run, you see anything unusual?”
“Like what?”
“Oh, I don’t know.” After a moment, he told her to forget the question and showed her a newspaper photo of Wynne. “Ever see this guy?”
“No, who is he?”
“A narc.” Boggs drank. “How many times a week she run?”
“Every day, just about.”
“Just about anywhere … Depending on where she was. She liked running down around Random because there was very little traffic.”
“What, she just slip into her outfit like Superman?”
“No, she’s always brought her stuff along with her. You know, shoes, socks …”
“You know the Blake boy that got killed?”
She shook her head. “I know where it was. Used to take Wendy down there.”
“She ran down there, huh?”
“All the time.”
“She ever have any—any, let’s say, uh, encounters?”
“Like what?”
“I don’t know. Anyone ever harass her?”
“If anyone did, she never said.”
Boggs turned to the bartender.
“Well, there was that one time.”
He swung back. “Say what?”
“A truck … It almost hit her. Came out of a dirt road … She said it never stopped. Swerved out onto the paved road, leaving rubber. She had to dive into in a ditch.”
“What kinda truck?”
“All she said was red, a red pickup truck.”
“You tell the sheriff’s people about this?”
“Nope,” she shrugged. “They never asked.” She paused, “Besides, it happened before the murder.”
“When, a week before …?”
“As best as I can recall, the day before.” After a moment, she added, “Or maybe it was the day it happened?”
“Damn. All she could say was it was a red truck?”
“She was too busy pulling her ass out of the ditch.” Sally paused and said, “No, wait. We went to the club on Friday—“
“The club?”
“Greensburg Country Club.”
“Oh, right. The club.”
“Whenever we went to the club we took Wendy down by Random; it’s closer, ya know? So we went Friday and then we went Saturday too. I know it was Friday or Saturday because Gail went with us on Sunday. So the truck had to knock her into a ditch on Friday or Saturday.” She taped the bottle rim against her lip as she considered the sequence. Nodding, she said, “Yup, that’s it. Friday or Saturday. And she went missing on Sunday.”
“You sure? That was almost a month ago. That’s a long—“
“No, I’m sure. “ She drew in a light breath, stopped to exhale and then said, “I remember we went down there a few days after the murder. Wanted to see what the fire looked like.” Without waiting to explain why, she added, “There’s not a whole lot going on around here in case you hadn’t noticed. So we went down there to take a look. And I remember thinking, I wonder if the ditch along that road wasn’t the one Wendy fell in?”
“I’d bet my next drink it was.” Boggs signaled to the bartender. He snatched the shooter, downing it quickly. He followed it up with a slug of beer. He pointed to the second beer, telling Sally, “This is ready when you are.”
The girl nodded, his eyes distant. “So you think Wendy’s murder had something to do with that killing in Random?”
“Ya know what I think, young lady? I think that if you can put two and two together, why can’t the sheriff’s department?”
“Ask ‘em.” She switched out her empty for the sweaty bottle.
“I will. Trust me, I will.” He paused. “I wonder … You say the truck left rubber, huh?”
“That’s what Wendy said.”


About timrodriguez49

Timothy L. Rodriguez was a journalist when newspapers counted, he is a poet when poetry doesn’t count for much, and he is a novelist when the fate of fiction is uncertain. He has published in English and Spanish. His most recent novel—Guess Who Holds Thee?—is available on Amazon. He makes loose change selling his seascapes. He is a practitioner of Robert Frost’s line—the only certain freedom is in departure; he has traveled widely and assumed many walks of life. For the moment he lives on a barrier island in North Carolina.About the photo below--Taken when I was a young man traveling through Europe.

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