Wednesday 5 – Friday 7 August 2015
The ride to the latest crime scene served only to put Tom Passmore further on edge. He’d been witness to other heinous crimes, brutal mutilations and killings, but this one had him scared. His partner, Matilda Renner, sensed the change in his confidence.
‘We’ll get whoever is doing this, Tom, but you have to be prepared for the fact that we may lose a couple more before we lock him up.’
‘That’s not acceptable, Matty. We’ve lost enough to this fucker. We need to get him behind bars now. Mind you, between us, I’d prefer to see this one six feet underground instead of behind bars.’
‘Don’t go around saying that to anyone else, Tom, ‘cause if something just happens to go down with this guy, and you’re the cop nearest, you’re gonna wear the blame for it.’
Tom grunted in reply, a sure sign that he didn’t want to discuss the matter any further.
He indicated, and took the hard left faster than Matty felt comfortable with. The car slid on the gravel shoulder, threatening to wrest control from the driver for a few hair-raising seconds before Tom righted his mistake. Both he and Matty were momentarily thrown around, and it was only because of Tom’s insistence that they always wear their seatbelts that they weren’t more battered.
‘Tom, for Christ’s sake, slow the fuck down. I wanna live, y’know.’ She rubbed her hip where it had made contact with the car door. ‘Fuck. That’s gonna bruise like shit.’
‘Sorry,’ he replied. ‘The sooner we get there, the sooner we get the guy.’
Matty sat in silence for the last thirty minutes of the journey. There was no sense in talking to Tom when he was in one of his moods.
* * * * *
Aside from the four friends, and two other motel guests, the restaurant was empty. Kelly Hogan smiled at the travellers as she delivered their orders.
‘Can I get you a refill on your drinks, folks?’ she asked.
‘Yeah, same again, all around,’ Nash replied. Before anyone could decline, Kelly had made her way back to the counter to prepare the drinks.
‘Jesus, Nash,’ Gabrielle snapped, ‘you’re determined to fatten me up, aren’t you?’
He grinned. ‘Hey, who am I to complain if I’ve got something to hold on to?’
‘If we weren’t together, I’d have slapped the shit outta you for saying that, you chauvinist pig,’ she replied.
‘Oh Jesus, stop. Please. I don’t want to throw up before I even get a chance to eat lunch.’ Lance followed his statement by putting his index fingers in his ears.
‘Fine, fine,’ replied Nash. ‘So, how long do you think we’ll be stuck here waiting for hillbilly Jim to fix the truck?’
‘Do I look like his sidekick? How the fuck should I know?’ Lance snapped.
Kelly returned with a tray of drinks. She carefully placed each drink in front of the travellers.
‘Don’t mean to sound like I’m eavesdropping, but Jim’s pretty good with fixing cars. It shouldn’t take him too long. I mean, most of the stuff he’d need to fix a car he has at his shop, or he can get from the junkyard out the back. It’s not like he’d have to wait for something to get sent from the city. He has so many spare parts, and he’s great at using parts from one car to fix a totally different one. Always has been.
Nash threw Lance a confused look. ‘He said something about having to wait for parts to arrive.’
‘Oh no,’ Kelly said, ‘no, he hardly ever has to wait for parts to arrive. I don’t know where he gets ‘em, but he really does have heaps of spare parts. And I’m sure I’ve seen a couple of trucks like yours out in Jim’s junkyard.’
‘Son of a bitch! I bet that fucker fucked up my ride just so I’d have to pay him to fix it.’
‘Calm down, bro. We’ll finish this, leave the girls here to pack, and you and I will go see this Jim, and find out about your car. If he’s the one who fucked it up, then we’ll fuck him up.’ Lance’s offer settled Nash enough for everyone at the table to finish their order.
* * * * *
Tom and Matty stood back while the forensics team took samples, photographed the body and scene, and took evidence away to be analysed. When the medical examiner had cleared the body for release, Tom and Matty stepped in for a closer look. They knelt at the side of the naked corpse, and examined the man’s back.
‘Say, Doc, what’s that hole look like to you?’ Tom asked the medical examiner.
Donald ‘Doc’ Bryson arched his back to stretch out the tight muscles, and sighed. ‘Do I look like a walking encyclopaedia of hole identification to you, Tom? Do I?’
‘No, but you usually have some kinda idea about what tools might make cuts or holes or abrasions or whatever. I mean, it’s not like you’re a moron or anything.’
‘Tom, I’ll take that as a compliment seeing as though that’s the closest I’ve ever heard coming from your mouth.’ Doc paused, sighed again, raised his eyebrows, and gave the slightest shrug. ‘If I had to guess, because that’s all I can do at the moment, I’d say something like a screwdriver maybe. But the trouble with that is that a screwdriver head wouldn’t really leave a perfectly round entry point. I won’t know until I get him back to the office, and make a cast of the wound. You’ll know when I know, Detective Passmore.’ He gave Tom a cheeky grin, and began sauntering back through the woods to his vehicle. ‘Oh, Detective Passmore,’ Doc turned briefly to look at Tom. ‘You’ll find the rest of his body to your left . . . and some to your right . . . and there’s a bit behind you past the main part of his corpse, y’know, if you were wondering.’
Tom glanced at Matty who was doing her utmost not to throw up in front of the local law enforcement. He stifled a giggle. Everyone in homicide had been there, desperately trying to hold it together around a corpse. Unlike most of the hardened veterans of the Homicide Department, Matty had never managed to get on top of her reaction when faced with a body.
‘I’m sorry, Matty. I really am,’ he giggled. ‘It’s just that you look hilarious when you’re trying to hold it down. Just go find a secluded place to throw up. No one will think any less of you. Go on. Off you go.’
She didn’t wait to be told again, heading off into the woods to offload her lunch.
From the hide, the hunter watched the female move away from the body dump, and into the woods. The long-range scope that he’d invested in last hunting season allowed him to lay in wait further away from his prey. Ordinarily, he’d have taken her out with one shot, but with so many other police officers in the area it was a risky manoeuvre.
‘You and your friends there’ll have to wait, beautiful girl. I got a couple of others I wanna play with before I get to you.’
Without drawing attention to his position, he slipped from the hide, rifle over his shoulder, and began the long trek back to his hunting cabin.
. . . To be continued . . .