The Body in the Pool Chapter 42

The Body in the Pool

Book One of the Dismember Killer Series

 

Chapter Forty Two

Spence stood in observation with Melanie. Casey Jackson sat at the wooden table on the other side of the glass, his head in his hands, his elbows on the table. His night was about to get much worse.
“We’re down to 15 hours before she flies,” said Melanie.
“No pressure.” Spence laughed.
“Um, no, actually the opposite. Lots of pressure. Get in there and break him.”
“Yes, ma’am.”
Spence grabbed the folder he’d prepared, a yellow lined notepad, and a pencil with wobbly lead then headed on in to interrogation. He sighed loudly. He kicked the chair away from the table and plopped in it. He gave Casey an exhausted look, before he picked up the folder and pretended to read from the blank pages inside. He didn’t speak for several minutes, letting the tension build as he “read” up on Casey. Finally, he closed the folder and slapped it down on the table.
“You’ve got yourself in quite a pickle.” He didn’t leave Casey an opportunity to speak. “Alright. Your name is Casey Jackson, yes?”
With a slow nod, Casey agreed.
Spence started to write down Casey Jackson on his yellow notepad, pressing hard enough to break the wobbly tip. “Ugh. Seriously. I can not catch a break today. First I have to chase you. I slip and fall on that damn wet floor. Then I got to walk around looking like I pissed myself. Get called back in here at midnight to interview you. And now my pencil breaks.” He broke the pencil in half, slapped the pieces down on the notepad and sighed.
“Can we make this easy, kid? It’s been a long ass day. Tell me why you ran.”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know why you ran from the cops.” Spence kept his tone flat.
“No.”
“You don’t know why you ran but you ran so far and so fast you ran out of gas halfway to the summit.”
“Yup.”
Spence took a beat in his act. The kid wasn’t defiant. He wasn’t copping attitude. He looked resigned.
“What made you think we were even looking for you?”
Casey shrugged.
“Do you know what department I work for?”
Casey shook his head.
“Homicide. Did you kill anyone?”
“I don’t know.”
This took Spence by surprise. “You don’t know if you killed anyone?”
“I might be a what do you call it, accessory.”
“You might be. How do you figure that?”
Casey shook his head.
Time to switch gears. “Everyone I talked to about you, told me what a good kid you are. Your boss, your next door neighbor.”
“You went to my house?”
“We did.”
“Then you know half the story already.”
“Can you tell me the other half?” Spence asked kindly.
“If I talk to you, can I go home?”
“I suppose that depends on what you tell me. If you don’t talk to me, you won’t be going home.”
“I kind of really need to go home. I walk Mrs. Semple’s dog for her every morning. He’s a pit bull. He has a lot of energy. That’s how she fell last year and why I started walking him for her. I don’t want her to get hurt if I’m not there to walk Brutus in the morning.”
Spence didn’t know what to say. He’d never grilled a suspect like this before. The kid wasn’t worried about getting arrested or charges or jail time. He was worried about not walking the dog. “I’ll make you a deal. You tell me what’s going on, why you ran from us? And I’ll walk Brutus in the morning.”
“You promise?”
“I do.”
Casey stared at him. “Are you the kind of man who tells lies?”
He startled Spence. “I am. I wish I wasn’t. I promise I am not lying about walking Brutus though. You tell me what time and I will be there.”
“I usually walk him around 6:30, you know before school.”
“I can do that. I will do that.”
Casey stared at Spence for a long minute. “A few weeks ago this woman comes up to me in the parking lot of the Rusty Porpoise. I was on my break. Smoking a cigarette. I know it’s a bad habit. Mrs. Semple gives me hard time about it.”
Spence nodded.
“She asks what I do at the restaurant. I tell her I wash dishes. She wants to know how much I make an hour washing dishes. Eleven dollars.”
“She opens her purse, this big leather thing, and pulls out five hundred dollars. She asks if I want to make double that. At first I’m thinking hell no. It’s got to be illegal if she’s offering cash to strangers in a parking lot.”
Spence had to agree with the kid.
“Anyway, I guess she saw my suspicion because she pulls out five hundred more. I’ll double it, she says. Two grand. That’s a lot of money. I ask her what I have to do for it. Play mailman. Mailman. I didn’t know what to think about that. But she explained it. Someone would bring me a package at work at the back door on a specific night. I would give them fifty bucks. Then I would hold the package until she picked it up the next night. She’d give me the other grand then.”
“It sounded too good to be that simple. Also too good to turn down, you know. I agreed and she asks me about the days I work. Says the delivery will be on the fifth, hands me the grand cash and walks away.”
“That was it. On the fifth a kid knocked on the back door. I gave him fifty, he gave me an envelope. The next night the woman came back. I gave her the envelope and she gave me ten more hundred dollar bills.”
“When you showed up today I thought maybe she’s done something bad with whatever was in the envelope and I was in trouble for it, too. I didn’t even spend the money.”
Spence stared at the kid for a minute. “Could you pick the woman out of a photo array?”
“I guess so. I saw her in pretty good light when she picked up the envelope.”
“Give me a minute,” Spence said.
“I can’t really go anywhere.”
Spence chuckled and bolted from the room.
Melanie met him in the hall. “I know, I know. Get a photo array.”
“No. I’ll get the photos. You get the district attorney on call on the line and them that we have a witness that can tie Arlene Paulson to the purchase of Rohypnol. Tell her they won’t cooperate without full immunity. Make sure you stress Arlene is leaving the country in less than fourteen hours.”
Melanie stopped walking. “What are you doing, Spence?”
“He’s gonna do time and he’s already paid a harsh price.”
“The dead mommy?”
“The dead mommy, the missing dad. He’s working full time, going to school, and still making time to walk his neighbor’s dog. And he isn’t smart enough to work this for himself. We’re gonna do it for him.”
“Yeah. I’m in,” said Melanie as she grabbed the nearest desk phone.

The Body in the Pool Chapter 41

The Body in the Pool

Book One of the Dismember Killer Series

 

Chapter Forty One

Spence typed the name of the country club into his GPS and had to laugh.
“What’s funny?”
“Mountain Springs Country Club is on Mountain Springs Road in the adorable hamlet of Mountain Springs.”
Melanie laughed. “Sometimes you gotta wonder about people with money.”
Spence put the car in reverse and they pulled away from Casey Jackson’s home. Their destination was back through Shadow Valley, a minuscule blip of a town that could almost be missed if you blinked too long. The country club was the exception.
A long curving drive wound its way between golf greens. A palatial building contrasted heavily with their last stop. Lights glittered in the evergreens spaced evenly on either side of the walk from the parking lot to the club itself. Twelve foot high wooden slat double doors greeted them.
Spence whispered to Melanie, “We ain’t in Kansas anymore.”
“And I thought the Academy was money,” she responded.
“They will want a warrant.”
“Oh yeah.”
Spence grabbed a hold of the four-foot long wrought iron door pull. The door swung much easier than he anticipated causing him to stumble back a step.
Melanie bit her lip to keep from laughing.
The moment they crossed the threshold a young woman dressed in a dove gray suit approached them. “May I help you?”
Spence smiled and subtly flashed his identification. “We have a couple of quick questions.”
“Of course. Please follow me.” She escorted them away from the bar and dining room which were visible through a large arch and down a long hallway to a small seating alcove with fantastic full height glass windows looking out over the lit golf course. “If you’ll wait here, I will fetch the manager.”
She moved away quickly, her two inch kittens heels making almost no sound on the marble floor.
“This place is giving me a complex, even her voice sounded rich,” Melanie groused.
“And she works here. Imagine the members.” Spence shook his head.
The manager did not keep them waiting long. “I understand you are members of our fine sheriff’s office. How may I assist you?”
“I have a few questions for you which may sound odd but I am not at liberty to ask directly what I need to know.”
“We must go round about things. I understand perfectly.”
Spence smiled. This place. “If someone who was not a member wanted to gain access to the facilities, how might they go about it?”
“I suppose anyone could walk in our front door, as you did this evening. However, as you observed this evening, they would immediately be greeted by a member of our staff.”
Melanie stifled the urge to giggle and asked, “I know clubs that offer single day use passes for purchase.”
“We do not offer that option. This club is for the use of our members and their guests.”
“Do guests need to register?”
“Of course.”
“If I gave you a name, could you confirm if this person is a member or has ever attended your club as a guest?”
“It would be against our policies to reveal the private business of our members and their guests.”
Spence sighed. “It is a matter of life and death. Someone will get away with murder if we can’t find a way to stop her.”
“And knowing if she has attended this club will assist you in that endeavor?” The manager sounded skeptical.
“It’s a matter of knowing if she was here to receive delivery of certain goods we know came into this country club on certain days.”
There was a long minute of silence before the manager said, “Very well. What is the name?”
“Arlene Paulson.”
“I shall return shortly. Please continue to wait here.”
Spence nodded.
Melanie pursed her lips and released a long exhale. “I might need to change my mind about the rich. I thought he would stonewall.”
“I think he has brains capable of actual thought,” Spence answered.
Melanie’s phone chirped. “Incoming text from dispatch.” She read. “They found Casey Jackson. He’s being brought back to the office. He’ll be waiting for us in interrogation when we get back.”
“Nice. Once we clear this end up, we can see why he thought it prudent to run.”
“Prudent?” Melanie asked with a laugh.
“I think this place is rubbing off on me.”
“Excuse me, detectives?” The same young woman in dove gray stood behind them, her hands clasped behind her back. “Our manager asked me to pass a message onto you. The name you gave him is not in our system.”
“And if it’s not in your system, she’s never been here.”
“That is correct. Can I do anything else for you?”
“No, thank you. We’ll show ourselves out.” Spence was even more eager to talk to Casey now that their other viable option had been eliminated.

The Body in the Pool Chapter 40

The Body in the Pool

Book One of the Dismember Killer Series

 

Chapter Forty

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 what?”
“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.”
Spence sighed.
“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.”
“I heard.”
“You want to drive out to that country club while we wait on the APB?” Spence asked.
“Let’s do that,” Melanie agreed.

The Body in the Pool Chapter 39

The Body in the Pool

Book One of the Dismember Killer Series

 
Chapter Thirty Nine

By the time he drove back the building was in that golden period between when the day shift guys have gone home and before the night shift insanity kicks in. The building was almost quiet, or as close to quiet as it ever got. He badged in through the front desk and ran the stairs up to the third floor. The narco bullpen was deserted. A steaming cup of coffee rested on Detective Hooper Amudenson’s desk. Spence pulled up a chair and sat down to wait.
Hooper returned a short time later, munching on a snack. “Hey man, how’s it going?”
“It’s good, but it would be better if you had something for me?”
“Just came from your office. I heard there were blueberry muffins.” He held one up.
Spence nodded. “Wife brought them in.”
“Nice. I’ll get down to business. If you’re sure your suspect wouldn’t have gone urban for her material it cuts your list way down. There are only a couple of suburban end user suppliers.” Hooper made a few clicks on his computer. “This is Marcus Grady. He runs a crew of little shitheads that supply all the local raves and house parties.”
“Seems unlikely. This woman doesn’t have kids.”
“Another possibility then is Sweet Sarah Snow.”
“Seriously?”
Hooper laughed. “They call her that. Her real name is Sarah Barker. She’s currently supplying all the boys and girls at several local area high schools. And I do mean supplying. Word is Sweet Sarah can get you anything you want from drugs, to tests, to under age prostitutes.”
“A one woman supermarket of illegal products.”
“I’d think twice about the woman moniker. Check the date of birth on that one.”
“February 28, 2002. She’s 16 years old. Now I’ve seen everything.”
“Yep. Coming up on her 17th birthday in a few months. Rumor also has it she’s a shoo-in for early admissions to MIT.”
Spence laughed. “This is a joke, right? You’re winding me up.”
“Wish I was. She runs her whole operation online. Underground website. Once you access it, you can order up anything you like delivered to your door. She’s as good as it gets, two days or less.”
“How have you not shut her down?”
“We’re working on a little more information. Want to see who her suppliers are, where she gets her materials.”
“Tell me you are wiretapping her site.”
“I am wiretapping her site.” Hooper said straight.
“Don’t fuck with me.” Spence was nearly jumping out of his skin.
“I’m not,” he replied with a smile.
“How many people bought roofies or GHB since October first?”
“Do you know how many people you are talking about?” Hooper sounded highly disgruntled.
Spence shrugged. “Sooner you bring it up the sooner I’ll know how many people.”
He groaned and dove into his keyboard. “All orders from October first to when? When was the murder?”
“Last Thursday night.”
“I don’t have an entry for that. I need a date. Where’s my damn calendar?” He fussed a bit on the desk and then found it. “Okay. November 17th.” He clicked enter and sat back. “I’m warning you, this is going to be a huge list. Halloween is a damn party day.”
It took only a few minutes to get the results. “We’re looking at 92 orders for GHB or roofies, using a keyword search. I assume we can exclude some of these orders based on other criteria.”
“Like what? What can you sort on?”
“Other materials ordered? I assume your killer won’t be looking for the answers to the chem midterm.”
Spence laughed. “Touche. Maybe also filter for people who are looking for large quantities, over say twenty doses, and people ordering other drugs as well.”
Hooper nodded and continued to click and sort, sort and click. “We’re down to 11 orders in the month-and-a-half before the murder.”
“They don’t use their actual names, I’m sure.” Spence paused while his brain turned. “What about delivery addresses?”
He nodded. “Smart. I think it would be easiest at this point to look at the transcript of each order, narrow them down that way.”
“Let’s do it.”
Hooper read from the screen. “Order number one was for a double order of liquid GHB on October 15th for delivery to locker 219, Shadow Valley High.” His voice lost all interest at the end.
“Yeah. That’s not it.”
Hooper read on. “Order number two was for five ounces of GHB, ordered on the 11th of October, delivery to the coffee drive through at Mountain Springs Road and 195th Avenue NE.”
“That could be a possibility, I guess.”
“Alright, I flagged that one. Next is a half an ounce, ordered on the 30th for delivery to the high school library during fifth period.” Hooper shook his head. “Seriously. We need to bust this girl. I hope that was a student accepting delivery.”
“Fifth period pretty much guarantees it was a student. Keep going.”
“Next, two ounces, ordered on the seventh of October, for delivery to the Mountain Spring Country Club on the tenth. It’s very specific about leaving the drugs in the BBQ on the side patio.”
“That is a good possibility. The whole BBQ connection. I’ll pull the club surveillance for the tenth, see who picked up the package.”
“Next one is for two ounces, man that’s a popular amount, delivery to a locker at the high school again.”
“Keep going.” Spence pulled out his cell phone and texted Melanie. Are you in the office? Can you contact the Mountain Springs Country Club and see if they will share their security video without a warrant for October 10th, specifically who picked up a package from the BBQ on the side patio.
“Next order, three ounces, for delivery on the 30th of October to locker 514 at the junior high.”
“You have got to pull this girl in and take her out of business.”
“We will, we will. Next order, three ounces, for delivery on the 20th of October at the country club again. This one to be hidden in the women’s locker room in locker 51. It includes the combination to the locker and says cash payment will be in the locker.”
“Sweet Sarah takes COD?”
“She does.”
“Aww, such a kind hearted entrepreneur.” Spence texted Witlow again. Need footage from the country club for the 20th as well, specifically women’s locker room.
Melanie responded almost immediately this time. Where are you? You better not be snogging Tess as you give orders.
In the Narco bull pen. Working with Hooper. Arlene Paulson had to get the roofies somewhere, Spence responded via text.
Was this Tess’s idea? Your wife is flipping awesome, Melanie texted back.
In a round about way it was her idea, Spence responded via text. Tess told him to talk to Tom, it was her good idea that produced the results. To Hooper he nodded. “Keep going.”
“Order for delivery on the second of October of five ounces to the school library during seventh period this time.”
Spence snorted and shook his head. “Keep going.”
“An order of three ounces for delivery to an address this time.”
This peaked Spence’s interest. Arlene wouldn’t be that stupid would she?
“On the twenty sixth of October. The notes on this one.” Hooper shook his head. “‘Please don’t come by until after eight thirty when I should be able to have the kids I am babysitting in bed and asleep, the parents never come home until after midnight so it will be cool.’”
“Make a note of that one. You need to let those parents know what their sitter is up to.”
“Right, cause that wouldn’t tip off Sweet Sarah too much.”
“After you bust Sweet Sarah, you can let the parents know.”
“I hear rumors from the upstairs folks that they’re planning on running a full breakdown in the paper, outing every kid they can name.”
“They’ll never do it.” Spence shook his head. Publicity was anathema to brass unless it was positive publicity. Busting a minor running drugs and prostitution in local high schools would not be positive publicity, no matter how you spun it.
“Two more orders for delivery to lockers at the high school and one to the junior high again. Finally, one more for delivery on the fifth of November to the Rusty Porpoise.”
“That dive bar in Shadow Valley?” asked Spence.
“Yup. Says deliver to the back door of the Rusty Porpoise after six on the fifth of the November.”
Spence pulled out his phone and texted Melanie again. Can you reach out to the Rusty Porpoise and find out who was working back of house on 5 of November? Again, no warrant.
“Anything more I can do for you?” Hooper asked.
“Is there anyone else selling in the area?”
“Not really. Not on a large enough scale to be on our radar. Which means probably not on a large enough scale for your suburban housewife to know about them.”
“Thanks man. I’ll give you an honorable mention if we manage to catch this woman.” Spence clapped Hooper on the arm. His phone buzzed and he pulled it back out to read a text from Melanie. Left message at country club for manager. Front desk says not in until morning. Did you say the Rusty Porpoise?
I’ll go there in person.
Want backup? still upstairs.
Let’s do it.
Spence hightailed it back down the stairs.

The Body in the Pool Chapter 38

The Body in the Pool

Book One of the Dismember Killer Series

 

Chapter Thirty Eight

“So there’s no usable forensics in the wheelbarrow. Smart.”
“Worse, even if there was I don’t think we can get a warrant for it.”
“What about the knife?” Tom followed up.
“She probably washed it and returned it to her kitchen. And there’s no way we’re getting a warrant for that either. It wouldn’t be probative if we did. She could explain any blood evidence by saying the husband cut himself in the past.”
Tom nodded and took a drink of his own beer. “Your shot.”
Spence swallowed his irritation and studied the table.
“What was the definitive cause of death?” Tom asked as Spence was lining up a shot.
Spence smiled and sunk the three ball anyway. “She smothered him.”
Tom chewed a bite of burger thoroughly. “He just laid there and let her cover his face with a pillow.”
Spence missed his shot on the four ball and the cue ball ended up nowhere near the rail.
“She drugged him with Rohypnol or GHB, something that breaks down similarly.” Spence slapped himself in the forehead.
“Where’d she get the roofie or GHB or whatever she used?”
“Damn I miss you.”
Tom nodded. “Me too.”
“Where does a suburban housewife get illegal drugs?” Spence asked before digging into his own burger.
“Don’t you have Narcotics for that?”
“It was a rhetorical question. Give me a minute.” Spence stepped away from the table to call the office. “Hooper, hey, how’s it?”
“It is. What’s on your mind.”
“I need to know who’s moving Rohypnol out in the burbs. Shadow Brook or Shadow Valley to be specific.”
“How soon do you need it?”
“Tonight. Now.”
“Give me a couple of hours. I’ll have something for you.”
“Thanks, man.” Spence hung up and moved back to the table to finish his meal with Tom.
“Narco have anything for you?”
“In a couple of hours. Any word from the Lieutenant?”
“Investigation is pending. Disciplinary action to come.”
“I tried to go to bat for you. Sell her on the idea you didn’t know Stephanie was a reporter.”
“She buy it from you? Cause she wasn’t having it from me.”
“I don’t know.”
Tom shook his head. “It’s not gonna go my way. I’m not pushing them to wrap things up. I interviewed yesterday in the private sector.”
“For who?”
“Private Military Contractor.”
Spence shook his head. “No way man. You can’t do that.”
“Yeah I can. My options are burned to the ground here. No one is going to hire me after I get fired for cause. I have that solid military background. It might as well be good for something.” Tom chuffed. “Other than meeting you.”
“Do you know how many of those guys don’t come home again?”
Tom shrugged. “It’s all a roll of the dice. Depends on where I get deployed right?”
“Oh man. Don’t. We can work it out here.”
“Work out what. You know what’s coming.”
“At least give me a little time. I’ll wrap up this case. Try to convince the brass.”
Tom laughed. “I appreciate the love.”
“I want you to be around when Junior is born. Literally and figuratively.”
“What if you have a girl?”
“Oh god. Then I need you around to help me move a dead body or two when she’s a teenager.”
When the meal was finished Spence left Tom with a quick back-thumping hug and headed back to the office to see what Hooper might have dug up for him. With twenty-odd hours left to find enough evidence to bring in Arlene Paulson, he couldn’t afford to wait until morning. Nighttime was when the majority of the dealers were active. If he could get a line on her possible dealer, he could set up a buy tonight and roll the dealer for testimony on Arlene by morning.

The Body in the Pool Chapter 37

The Body in the Pool

Book One of the Dismember Killer Series

 

Chapter Thirty Seven

Spence rushed them out the door to the privacy of their car.
“What are you two so amped about?” asked Melanie as soon as the door closed.
Spence started the car. “Go ahead Barnes, this is all you.”
“One of the bird watching idiots spotted a person with a wheelbarrow that night.”
“Did he know who it was?”
“No details. A wheelbarrow,” Barnes emphasized.
“I get it. Arlene and her trip to DIY. If he didn’t actually see her, we don’t have anything we can use,” Melanie said, raining on their parade.
“Can’t we even have a moment of joy before you stomp on us?”
“I think you did. Move on to how we’re going to arrest her,” said Melanie.
Barnes deflated. “How are we going to arrest her?”
“Magic?” Spence quipped. “We’ll go back to the office. We’ll step it through. Maybe we don’t have enough. Maybe we do.”

As he drove, Spence kept hearing Tess in his head, “when you’re in a tight spot, you use your best players.” Without Tom the balance was off. Could he push his luck with the lieu and ask again to have Tom taken off the bench to finish this case? Or was it better to ask for forgiveness than permission? He hadn’t reached a decision by the time they returned to the squad room.
“Let’s take it step by step. Go back over everything involved in this case. Photographs, reports, evidence logs, interview notes. We’re looking for anything we can go further on. For anything that might have gotten lost in the shuffle. Anything we didn’t pursue immediately because something hotter came along.”
Melanie and Barnes agreed. All three allowed the case to absorb them. They worked the rest of the afternoon, reading and sorting.
Tess texted Spence around six. Did you go see Tom yet?
Spence sighed. Permission or forgiveness? He thumbed a quick text to Tom. You free?
The reply came in less than a minute. No job, friends still on the job, no girl because she caused the no job situation. What do you think I’m doing all day?
Spence laughed. Waiting for me to text you. Roadhouse?
On my way.
“I have to run guys,” Spence announced.
“Tess?” Melanie asked.
Spence nodded the affirmative. His gut gave a twist. Lying to the team. Wasn’t that how Tom got into hot water?
“Give her my love,” Melanie replied before turning back to her computer.
“Sure.” Spence grabbed his coat and got to getting before his conscience got the best of him. He hit the stairs two at a time. With commute traffic he was looking at an hour plus to get out to the restaurant, his motorcycle could cut that down a little. It all depended on how much lane splitting he was in the mood to risk.
Tiffy greeted Spence cheerfully, “Back again and with my friend Tom.”
Spence nodded. He was too eager to talk things out with Tom to get too chatty with anyone else.
She read his mood and gestured to the back. Spence caught sight of Tom at the pool table and moved directly to him. Tossing off his jacket, he grabbed a cue stick from the wall. Tom was busy racking the balls for a game of nine ball. “Your break.”
Spence nodded and did as directed sinking the seven ball. As he moved around the table to follow the cue ball, he spoke, “I have a problem.”
“You make it too easy,” Tom quipped.
“It’s serious my friend.”
“Foul.” Tom kept one eye on the table.
“It’s almost touching the rail.”
“Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.”
Spence tossed his free hand up in a give gesture. “The case, it’s too clean. We’re pretty sure we know who did it but we have nothing to arrest her on. We don’t even have anything to press her on.”
“No one is that good,” Tom responded, sinking the one ball.
“Can you stand to hear about it?”
“Of course.”
Spence recapped the investigation as they continued to play.
“This was meant to look like Dismember. And I think as a back up, she put the body at the Academy to tie it to them, if we saw through the serial killer facade. We have one dead accountant, who used his position to embezzle funds to the tune of millions to fund his new life with a much younger mistress.”
Tom interrupted, “The nurse, right?”
“Yeah. How’d you know?”
“She dropped the cream jug when you mentioned his name.”
“That’s one hell of a jump.”
“I’ve had a lot of time to think lately.” Tom shrugged and reracked the balls.
“Harold told his wife he was leaving her. She booked a plane ticket to the Caymans.”
“Is that where the money is? The embezzled money?” Tom asked.
“We’re still waiting on that. Takes forever to get these banks to cooperate.”
“That’s why people stash money in places like the Caymans and Switzerland though, because it is hard to get information on the accounts.” Tom lined up his break and stroked the cue ball.
“That said, we can’t prove the money is there. If we can’t prove the money is there then we can’t prove she’s going there to collect.”
“When’s her flight?”
“Friday night,” Spence took a drink of his beer.
“No minute like the last minute, eh?”
“I know, quit effing wasting them. She books a flight. She buys a wheelbarrow and supplies to disguise it later. Kills the man and launches her cover up. Moving him to the school, where she was seen with the wheelbarrow.”
Tom held up a hand.
Spence nodded. “Yeah, she was seen. Not well enough to be identified.”
“You can’t catch a break on this one.”
“Tess says my mojo is off because I need my work wife,” Spence said with a laugh.
“Smart woman, your wife-wife,” Tom joked back.
“I’ll be sure to tell her. Anyway, Harold’s wife cuts off his bits, dumps him in the pool, tosses the shrimp on the barbee. Goes back home, sands down the wheelbarrow, fills it with dirt, and a plants a fern.”
“You’re kidding me. She turned her body disposal tool into a planter?”
Spence nodded.
“Who caught that? Melanie, right?”
“Tess might have helped a little,” Spence mumbled.
Tom laughed. “Substituting the wife-wife for the work-wife? Just don’t try the reverse.”
“No worries there man, I’ve tasted your cooking.”
Tom opened his mouth to comment something less appropriate but changed his mind as Tiffy delivered burgers and another round of beers.

The Body in the Pool Chapter 36

The Body in the Pool

Book One of the Dismember Killer Series

 

Chapter Thirty Six

Billy Singh looked nervous when the headmaster escorted him into the lounge to speak with Barnes.
“I’m Detective Barnes.”
“Sir.” His hands were clasped in front of him, his knuckles white. His eyes could have given Bambi a run for his money.
“Did you kill the man in the pool last Thursday night, Billy?” Barnes asked harshly. Better to rip the band-aid off with this one.
Billy gasped out, “No.”
“Then you have nothing to worry about. Take a few breaths, calm down.”
The kid tried to comply. His breath stuttered in and out of his nose. It took a few more before Barnes noticed his hands relaxing their grip, his shoulders lowering a little.
“Thursday. A little late night bird watching?”
“It was Parker’s idea. Please, my dad will kill me if I get kicked out of another school.”
“I’m not planning on expelling you. I need to know what you saw.”
“Curt left to go meet up with Stacy as soon as the security cameras went down. Parker started in on me to go watch them. It’s my first year here. I don’t really have any friends other than my roommates.”
“I can see that would be hard,” Barnes attempted a sympathetic tone.
“I didn’t really want to go. It took him a while to convince me. And then we didn’t know where they had gone. So Parker thought we could look for them from the windows with binoculars. So we did.”
“Did you see anything?”
There was a long pause before Billy answered. “We never found Curt and Stacy. They must have been too deep in the woods.”
Barnes looked at the young man as time ticked by. Billy would not make eye contact. His hands were gripping tighter again. He fidgeted in his seat.
“You saw something.”
Finally Billy blurted, “I’m so sorry I didn’t report it then. Parker said it was just a bear but I knew he was wrong but he was so mean about it and I knew we would get in trouble for breaking curfew.”
Barnes checked his irritation. “You aren’t in trouble. What did you see?”
“I saw someone with like a wheelbarrow I think over by the woods.”
“Was the wheelbarrow empty?”
“I think so. It was really dark. Something small could have been in it.”
“But not a man’s body?”
Billy’s eyes popped wide enough Barnes wondered if the kid had done himself permanent damage.
“I didn’t see a body.”
“Okay. Did you see anything about the person wheeling it?”
“A shape in the dark. Parker’s binoculars aren’t much good.”
“Thank you.”
“You won’t tell my dad will you?”
“No. We won’t tell your dad.”
“Thank you. Thank you so much.” Billy scrambled up from the couch and headed for the door.
“Can I give you a little advice kid?”
Billy stopped with his hand on the door and turned to look at Barnes.
“Find some new friends.”
“Yes, sir.”
Barnes stepped out into the hall after him. Spence was escorting Curt into the lounge on his side of the foyer. Barnes walked a few steps towards them. Spence held up a hand. Barnes nodded and stepped back to lean against the wall and wait.

“Why did you drag my friends in here?” asked Curt angrily. “I thought you were cool man.”
Spence raised an eyebrow. Were they supposed to be friends now? “Look Curt, I’m sorry to be the bearer of nasty news, your friends were at every window in this place Thursday night trying to catch a glimpse of your girlfriend with binoculars.”
“I’m gonna kill ‘em both.”
“Probably not the kind of thing you say to a homicide detective.”
Curt shook his head. “Right.”
“We needed to know what they saw. Not about you two, which incidentally was nothing, what they saw otherwise.”
“I can see that. Sorry I was…rude.”
“No problem. While you’re here, did you think of anything else since we spoke last week?”
“Sorry, man. I wish I could help you. I was really all about Stacy. If a dead body hadn’t landed in our path, I wouldn’t have noticed anything else that night.”
“I remember those days. Go on back to class.”
Curt reached forward to shake the detective’s hand. They shook and then Spence texted Tess. Hope you’re resting after your big morning. Love you.
He pulled up open the door to the hall. “Barnes, what you got?”
“We’re still waiting on Melanie.”
“Still?” Spence pulled his phone back out and texted her now. How long does it take to mother dirt out of a suspect?
“You get anything from the kid?”
Barnes lifted his hand and wiggled it. “He saw someone, can’t give any details other than the wheelbarrow they were pushing.”
Spence stood stone still, his phone buzzing in one hand, his mouth half open.
Melanie came around the corner from the hallway. “Sorry that took so long, after the headmaster spilled, I stopped in to talk to the security guards. Turns out Doctor Wallsgraf is the one who put the special security system in the conference room. He didn’t trust the Board of Directors, thought something weird was going on and afraid he might get the blame he took steps to have proof on hand.”
When neither man responded, she asked, “What?”