Sunday 9 – Wednesday 12 August 2015
Bleeding, and moaning in pain, Jim rolled on to one side and once more attempted to stand. Despite managing to get to his knees for a second time, he fell backwards, unceremoniously landing on his now-bruising ass.
‘You fuckers,’ he screamed at Nash and Lance who were heading back to the motel, ‘you wait until my brother gets back. You’ll be sorry, you worthless pieces of shit! You fuckers! You fuckers.’ Jim gasped for air; the pain in his ribs prevented him from inhaling properly. With his arms wrapped around his legs, he laid his head on his forearms, and sobbed. Blood and snot hung from his nostrils as he battled for breath.
Consumed by his pain and inability to take a good breath, Jim didn’t see or hear his brother’s SUV pull up around the side of the garage. Nor did he register the slamming of the SUV door.
‘What in the name of hell are you doing there, Jimbo?’ A larger and older looking version of Jim stood over him.
‘Fuck does it look like, Claymore?’
‘You taking a nap?’
‘Look like I’m taking a nap?’ Jim raised his voice and his head. Bloodied snot stuck to his face.
Claymore reached into his pocket, and pulled out a slightly dirty handkerchief. He dropped it on to Jim’s arm.
‘The fuck happened, Jimbo?’ He waited for his younger brother to reply. ‘You rip off some whiny-assed city-slicker who just happened to figure out your little scam?’
Jim nodded. There was no point in verbally answering – either way, Clay would backhand him for getting caught again. Jim steeled himself for the inevitable beating at the hands of his brother.
‘Sweet Jesus, Jimbo,’ Clay spoke into Jim’s ear, ‘when will you ever learn?’ He wrapped his hand around the back of Jim’s neck, and squeezed harder with each word that he spoke. ‘I’m sick to death of having to clean up your screw-ups, Jimbo. Do you understand? Do you? Jimbo? Do you understand exactly how sick and tired I am of fixing things that you fuck up?’
‘Yes, Clay, yes. I understand. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I won’t ever do anything like that again. Please, Clay, please let me be.’
Clay gave one last squeeze of Jim’s neck, and then threw his brother’s head forward. Jim’s forehead hit his knees, and he yelped in pain.
‘That’s what you said last time, Jimbo, and here I am again, having to clean up your mess. This is the last time, little brother. From here on in, you’ll clean up your own messes. Now get this city-slicker’s car fixed, and get him on his way.’
Clay walked back to his SUV, and pulled his hunting gear from the backseat.
‘There’s four of ‘em,’ Jim called out.
‘What? What did you say, Jimbo?’ Clay asked.
‘Not just one city-slicker, there’s four of them.’
Clay grinned. ‘Four’s my lucky number,’ he whispered to himself.
* * * * *
Detectives Passmore and Renner made their way to the motel after having stopped by the police station to speak with the local officers regarding the bodies. They selected a table at the back of the restaurant where they could speak without being overheard, and where they could easily see folks entering and exiting.
‘So, now that we’re here, what are you thinking, Tom?’ Matilda sucked a mouthful of chocolate milkshake through the bendy straw. It was ice cold, and resulted in case of brain freeze above her right eye. She rubbed the spot hoping to disperse the headache faster.
‘That’s what you get for being able to have a milkshake after seeing that corpse,’ Tom replied. He smiled at her pain.
‘Answer the question, butthole!’
He gave her question the consideration it deserved, stealing a few of her fries as he did so. She pushed the bowl of fries closer to her partner, and he feigned disgust in the morsels of potatoey goodness before taking a few more, and folding them into his mouth.
‘What I’m thinking is that,’ he lowered his voice to a whisper, ‘judging by this latest dump site, we’re looking for either a local, or someone who comes out this way regularly.’
‘You mean like a weekend hunter?’
‘Not someone I’d thought of, but yes, a weekend hunter or some guy who comes out here for hunting retreats or getaways or whatever the hell they call it when a bunch of hunters get together and shoot shit.’
‘You think we should bring in a behavioural expert or a profiler to give us a hand?’ asked Matilda, matching Passmore’s whisper.
‘Ordinarily, I’d say no, but we have to stop this from happening again, so we’re going to need all the help we can get. I think we should have a chat to the locals while we’re here, and when we get back to the office, we’ll get a profiler in.’
‘Can we eat first?’ she pleaded.
Kelly Hogan, waitress extraordinaire, sidled up to the detectives’ table.
‘You folks okay for everything, or can I get you a refill, or something else to eat?’ She readied her order pad and waited for their reply.
‘A couple of pieces of whatever pie you’ve got going, and two cups of coffee, thank you,’ Tom replied. ‘That is assuming my buddy here can fit in a piece of pie, and a cup of coffee after that mountainous burger, fries, and milkshake she’s already inhaled.’
‘You know I can,’ said Matilda. Kelly laughed but didn’t move away from the table.
‘Is there something we can help you with, young lady?’ Tom asked.
Kelly looked around the restaurant, gauging where everyone else was. She pretended to write more on the order pad as she spoke. ‘Are you cops?’
‘Mmmhumph,’ Matilda mumbled through the straw in the milkshake.
‘Is it true that there’s been another body found out in the woods?’
Matilda replied in the same manner as before.
‘Do you have some information about it that you’d like to share with us?’ whispered Tom.
‘Well, I’m not really sure . . . ’ She looked around the restaurant again, and her eyes fell on the four travellers sitting across the room. One of the women had been nice to her, and she’d told her boss, Andy Jarvis, that she didn’t want to get anyone in trouble.
‘It’s okay. We won’t tell anyone that you’ve spoken to us about it if you’re worried about people knowing.’ Matilda sensed that the waitress’ reticence might revolve around the mentality of how the residents of a small town should stick together.
The waitress surveyed the room once more. Her father was busy in the kitchen, and Andy and his wife were nowhere to be seen.
‘My boss wants me to tell you that those four folks over there had something to do with it.’ She stepped slightly to her right so that the male detective could see the four young people. ‘But they only arrived a couple of days ago, and they’re still here ‘cause Jim screwed with their car so that he could get some business, and over-charge them on parts for their truck. The guy who owns the truck was really ticked off when he realised that Jim had messed with his car. But they seem like nice people. I don’t think it has anything to do with them. Besides, they weren’t in town when the other bodies were found.’ She looked around again, and decided that she was still safe.
‘Who do you think is involved?’ Tom asked.
‘Only one person I’d put my money on, and that’s Claymore Hunter, Jim’s brother. He’s really into hunting, and he’s also kinda odd, if you know what I mean.’
She froze when the bell above the entry door jingled.
‘Kelly, you working, or are you annoying these nice folks with your gasbagging and gossiping?’ Andy Jarvis belted out at the top of his lungs. Kelly blushed, and lowered her head. Once again, Jarvis had managed to humiliate her in front of patrons.
‘Sorry, Andy,’ she replied.
‘Actually,’ Tom called back as aggressively as Andy had spoken to the waitress, ‘the young lady is helping us with our enquiries, sir.’
Matilda threw him a look that had the potential to kill. ‘What the hell are you doing, Tom?’
‘Relax, Matty. I know what I’m doing. Look at him. He’s shitting bricks,’ he whispered in reply, and continued to reply to the arrogant boss who was now making his way over to their table. ‘My buddy here has some food intolerances, and your lovely and helpful waitress was giving us the run down on what’s in your pie. Now, if you don’t want some lawsuit filed because your establishment is negligent where food intolerances, and allergies are concerned, then you’ll back off, and allow her to finish. Of course, if you’re fully covered by insurance for, I don’t know, a death in your establishment because my buddy consumes something that she’s allergic to, that’s fine, just tell your waitress here to move along, and get our orders. The choice is yours, buddy boy.’
Without saying another word, Andy turned on his heels, and walked out into the kitchen.
Tom smiled smugly at Matilda, and offered up his best ‘you’re welcome’ smile to the waitress.
‘Thanks. You saved my bacon just now,’ said Kelly.
‘Pleasure,’ Tom replied. ‘Besides, I think guys like your boss need to be put in their places often enough so they don’t forget what it’s like to be on the other side of a mouth like theirs. And thanks for the heads up about potential suspects.’ He winked at the waitress, and she headed off behind the counter to ready their pie and coffee order.
‘I think we maybe need to have a chat to those four kids over there before we hit up the locals,’ Matilda said.
‘Agreed, but only after we’ve had pie.’
. . . To be continued . . .