The Body in the Pool
Book One of the Dismember Killer Series
Chapter Twenty Three
Spence rode his motorcycle out the winding country roads still littered with fall leaves, although they were brown now rather than the vibrant yellow and orange of last month. The Roadhouse was the kind of place popular with people who cared more about the quality of the food and having a good time, than the labels on the beer or the bottle of wine. It was the kind of place that had a sign by the bathroom which read “men’s room to the left, because woman are always right” and a clientele who appreciated the humor.
Spence didn’t mind waiting for a table. The hostess always handed out a cup of coffee while you waited. He still got a seat before Tom arrived.
Tiffy was a second behind him with a refill for his coffee and a menu. “Where’s that pretty wife of yours today?”
Spence smiled. “She’s resting.”
Tiffy grinned, “She must be due to pop soon.”
“Not soon enough,” Spence laughed.
“Imagine how she feels,” Tiffy said with a smile. “What can I get you?”
“Corned beef hash and eggs, over easy, and make it two.”
“Tom coming in then?”
“It’s been an age since I’ve seen him.” Tiffy stated with a hint of question.
“He’s been rather occupied lately.”
“Ahh, a woman.” Tiffy shook her head. “He never brought her here, she can’t have been much good for him.”
Spence couldn’t help but laugh out loud, “You have no idea how right you are.”
“Get you the paper to read while you wait?”
“Thanks. Appreciate it.”
Spence sipped his coffee and stared out the window trying not to think too much. Tiffy slipped the paper onto the edge of his table and kept on walking without disturbing his thought process. Spence slid a mindless hand over to to take the folded package and cracked it open to scan the front page. Blaring across the entire front was an article by Stephanie Lewis on the latest in the Dismember Killer case, Harold Paulson. She identified the victim by name—practically common knowledge after this many days. She reported the death as a drowning. She didn’t mention the BBQ. Clearly, she was no longer getting any inside information.
Tiffy delivered the ordered meals complete with the thick homemade bread and fresh jam that accompanied every breakfast. Spence picked up his fork and was on the verge of pricking his eggs to allow the yolks to soak into the corned beef, when Tom slid into the booth across from him. “I see your manners are in top form.”
“Letting this food get cold would be a crime against humanity. Poor manners be damned,” Spence quipped.
“Miss you, man.”
They were silent for a moment as Tiffy delivered a cup and filled it with coffee for Tom and topped off Spence.
“Sorry I was late. Mike called.” Tom stuffed a yolk-laden bite of hash into his mouth.
Spence mumbled “what did he say” with a full mouth.
“He’s on duty this afternoon and will check what the security cameras picked up and send you the video.”
Then a few more minutes went by in silence as they tucked in with relish.
Finally with a sigh, Spence slid his plate slightly back and picked up his knife to spread jam on his toast. “I’ve got issues.”
“Tell me something new. I’ve known that for years,” Tom snarked at Spence with affection.
“I’m not altogether sure that this recent murder is a Dismember.”
“I’m not surprised to see a copycat.”
“I don’t know to be honest.” Spence took a big bite of his toast and jam. “This last guy, it was made to look like a drowning. They found traces of Rohypnol in his eye juice.”
“Eye juice? Seriously?” Tom set down his coffee cup hard.
“There’s a term for it. I don’t care.”
“Roofies, huh? We haven’t seen that before with Dismember.”
“It was usually longer before the body was found, things were more dessicated.”
Tom nodded. “You use the words dessicated and eye juice over breakfast?”
Spence tilted his cup at Tiffy. They waited while she refilled their coffee infusion before Spence continued. “That’s not the half of it. He wasn’t actually drowned.”
“What? We found him face down in a pool.”
“The water in his lungs was injected after death.”
“Choi found that?” Tom paused. “Give that man a raise.”
“Is Dismember changing up his game or do you have a copycat? Any motives popping up?”
Spence smiled. “You always were quick. Paulson may, and I stress the may, have been embezzling funds.”
“From the Academy?”
Spence raised his eyebrows over his coffee cup. “We’re digging.”
“The forensic accountants take years.”
“I guess this case won’t get solved for years then, is that what you’re saying?”
“We’ve got a solid 82 percent solve rate,” Tom stopped abruptly. “Well, we did. They assign you a new partner yet?”
“I wouldn’t let the lieu until your investigation is over.”
“It isn’t going to go my way. Accept the new partner. You guys need the help.”
“We do.” Spence hated to admit it.
“Barnes and Melanie pissed off?” Tom asked despite already knowing the answer.
“Barnes is pissed. Melanie is inquisitive.”
“And yet you trust me.”
“We’re family. You made a mistake. We’ve all screwed the pooch before. Not all as publicly as you.” Spence cracked a smile.
Tom snorted in response.
Tiffy took advantage of the momentary silence to stop by. “Good to see you Tom. Where you been hiding yourself?”
“Been wasting my time on a woman with half your graces.”
Tiffy laughed and slipped the check onto the table. “Glad you’ve seen the error of your ways. Don’t be a stranger.”
Spence put his hand over the check. “You’re on leave,” was his response to Tom’s unasked question.