The Body in the Pool
Book One of the Dismember Killer Series
He met Melanie in the garage and they took an unmarked car out to the Rusty Porpoise using lights and sirens to part the late commute traffic.
“Why are we forced to do all this without a warrant?” asked Melanie.
“Because Narco is building a case against the dealer and they don’t want to tip her off early.”
“We don’t have evidentiary support? Great,” Melanie grumbled.
“Maybe this will finally be the one piece of good luck we get in this case and the bar will give up the guy and he’ll actually be who we need to nail Paulson.”
“That’s a lot luck you’re asking for.”
“We need it. In 19 hours Arlene Paulson gets on a plane to Grand Cayman island. Bye bye. She ain’t coming back.”
“You don’t have to remind me.”
The Rusty Porpoise was doing brisk business on a Thank God It’s Almost Friday, Thursday night. Dive bar or not, the parking lot was full with a wide variety of vehicles. Motorcycles, jalopies, and Beamers sat next to each other. Spence killed the lights and sirens before they drove in.
Spence and Melanie hit the doors and the noise inside hit them back. Spence mouthed, “Manager,” at Melanie and she nodded. They wiggled and worked their way past the three-deep bar patrons and the fully occupied tables towards the rear of the venue. Before they reached the kitchen an open door revealed the office. No one was in it. Melanie gestured to the swinging door and Spence nodded. She pushed through with her left arm extended holding open the door, her jacket away from her body. “Hey,” she called.
The dishwasher looked up from the plastic rack he was loading, saw Melanie, saw Spence, and bolted out the back door.
Without losing a beat Spence took off after him. He slipped and slid across the wet floor, keeping his footing but slower than the young guy used to working on that kind of slip and slide.
Spence hit the parking lot. The kid was nowhere to be seen. He rounded the corner of the building in time to see the dishwasher, still in his full body rubber apron, leaving the parking lot on a scooter. Spence raced to his car. The kid had too much of a lead, chasing after the scooter wasn’t really feasible. He cursed a bit and then went back inside.
Melanie had tracked down the manager and cornered him in his own office.
“The dishwasher, what’s his name? Address? Was he working November fifth after six in the evening?”
Spence touched Melanie’s shoulder. “He got away.” To the manager he added, “I need a name.”
“What is it you think he did?” the manager asked, overwhelmed by the detectives.
“We only want to ask him a few questions. He sprinted the second he saw my partner’s badge,” answered Spence.
“I can see how that looks bad to you. Casey is a good kid.”
“Casey Jackson. Give me a second and I can pull his file for you.” The manager spun in his chair and opened the file cabinet behind him, thumbing through manila folders until he found Jackson, Casey. “Here you go.”
Melanie grabbed the file and flipped it open. “Got an address. I’ll call the office on the APB, you GPS it.”
Spence nodded. “Casey was working on the fifth right? At the dish machine in the back.”
“Yeah. He works most nights. I told you though, he’s a good kid.”
“Good kids don’t run when they see the police. Thanks though.”
Spence met Melanie outside.
“The all points is on the air. Where’s the house?”
“You really think he’ll go home?” Spence asked.
“If he’s a good kid in over his head, like the manager said, then yeah, there’s a good chance he’ll run home.”
“GPS says 20 minutes. Let’s see if we can cut that in half.”
Lights flashing, sirens blaring, and not waiting for red lights, shaved the time down considerably. Casey Jackson lived in a small neighborhood that had seen better days. Lawns were overgrown with patches of moss. Leaves littered yards and piled in the drainage ditches along the streets. Large dogs barked from the front yards of most houses, that wasn’t unusual. The chains and chain link that held them there were. No money in this neighborhood for frequency based fences.
Number 834 was a weathered gray cottage with a sagging front porch. Someone had raked the leaves from the front yard which could be considered an improvement over the neighborhood standard. Spence parked in the driveway. He left the headlights on to illuminate the yard. The scooter wasn’t in sight. Spence headed for the front door while Melanie walked cautiously around to the back. No lights seemed to be on in the house. He knocked loudly and shouted, “This is the police, Casey Jackson, open the front door and come out with your hands up.”
Nearby a dog started to bark.
Spence banged again and called out, “Casey Jackson.”
From the right the sound of a door banging echoed. Spence spun with his hand on his side arm.
A woman in a bathrobe, leaning heavily on her walker, stood on the front porch of the house next door, a barking pit bull at her side. She squinted at Spence. “Who’s asking?”
“Sheriff’s Office, ma’am.” Spence held up his badge.
“Well they ain’t home.” She put her hand on her dog’s head and it stopped barking.
Spence left the Jackson front porch and jogged to the fence separating the two yards. “We’re looking for Casey Jackson.”
“What’s the boy done?”
“We have a few questions for him,” Spence tried to be as evasive as possible.
“Did you try his work? He washes dishes over at the Rusty Porpoise.”
“Yes, ma’am. We’ve been there already. Do you know when his parents might be home?”
“His mama’s dead. His daddy works one of them fishing boats. Hasn’t been home in months.”
“He’s a good kid, officer. Rakes my leaves for me. Walks Brutus here for me every day before he goes to school.”
“Thank you, ma’am. I’ll keep that in mind.” Spence walked back towards the car.
Melanie was leaning against the side waiting. “The back is closed up tight.”
“Yeah. He ain’t here.”
“Looks like I led us wrong,” Melanie commented.
“You might have been right, if the kid had a home to come to.”
“You want to drive out to that country club while we wait on the APB?” Spence asked.
“Let’s do that,” Melanie agreed.