Authors: Rayven T. Hill
Tags: #Mystery, #Thriller, #Suspense
But he was a cop, a symbol of authority, and he was going to get this guy.
Benny heard the siren and glanced in the rear view mirror. He swore. He cursed the cop, and then swore again.
He pushed the gas pedal to the floor. He didn’t care about stop signs now.
He shouldn’t have taken the car. Why’d I take the car! I’ve got to get away from this guy.
The vehicle weaved back and forth across the narrow street as Benny did his best to control it. His best wasn’t good enough. The engine whined. The car seemed to skid out from under him, spun around, and planted itself into a row of well-manicured hedges.
Benny rolled from the car and sprang to his feet. He wasn’t a big guy, or brawny by any means, but he spent most of the day on his feet, so he had strong legs. Those legs helped him jump over the hedge, and carried him past the house, through the back yard and away. He was gone.
Officer Spiegle couldn’t do much of anything. By the time he was able to remove himself from the cruiser, Benny was out of sight.
He swore, jumped back into the cruiser, and called dispatch.
“Let them handle it. I need to finish my coffee.”
Tuesday, August 9th, 5:25 PM
DETECTIVE Hank Corning was slouched at his tired desk in the precinct, surrounded by a steady buzz of activity. Officers moving to and fro, footsteps clattering on the well-worn hardwood floor. Complaints being handled, phones ringing, and constant chatter of all kind. A photocopier quietly whined.
He hit the message button on his cell phone.
“Two new messages,” the machine informed him.
Corning listened to the first message. It was from Amelia James. He smiled as he listened to the soft, pleasant voice. He couldn’t help but picture her face. Her long blond hair framing her beautiful features. Her gentle manner, and graceful walk. But then, he felt guilty for thinking about her that way when she was going through so much pain.
She had called to keep in touch. “I know you’re not actively pursuing this anymore,” she had said, “but I want to just see if anything had turned up.”
Corning returned her call. When she answered, he explained there was nothing new.
“I’ve contacted Lincoln Investigations as you suggested. They sound confident they can help,” she said hopefully.
“I’ve known Jake and Annie for many years,” he assured her. “They’re good at what they do.”
“Thank you Detective. They promise to let me know if anything develops. I just feel so helpless and wish there were something I could do.”
“Mrs. James,” he said suddenly. “I have some vacation time coming. I want to help you and I’m going to contact Jake Lincoln and offer to assist them in any way I can. Officially I can’t do anything unless there’s a solid lead, but unofficially . . . well, that’s a different matter.”
“And please, Mrs. James, call me Hank,” he added.
“Thank you again Hank. You may call me Amelia.” Hank could feel her sadness as she sighed deeply.
After hanging up, Hank’s chair groaned and squeaked as he leaned back. At a little more than five years away from retirement, he was ready for it. Maybe he would do a little fishing for a while, maybe some hunting. Just generally, take it easy. Then, do something less stressful, like a security guard, or consulting of some kind.
But right now, something had drawn him to this case. Maybe it was Amelia feeling so helpless. Maybe it was the thought of a missing girl, or maybe it was because his own daughter would’ve been about the same age as Jenny.
He knew the captain would cut him a bit of slack on this. This wasn’t just a spur of the moment decision. He’d been thinking about this all day. Maybe he would take some time off, he needed it anyway, and see what he could come up with.
He hit the “Next Message” icon on his cell, and listened intently to Jake’s message.
Leaning quickly forward, he tossed his phone on the desk and thumped a few keys on his computer terminal. The name Chad Bronson appeared on his screen. From King City. No record to speak of. Just a couple of speeding tickets. Hank plucked a couple more buttons. A picture appeared. He touched the print button, and in a moment, a page came whirring from the printer.
“Well what the . . .” Hank stared at the screen. A further search had shown a car registered to Bronson had just been involved in an accident. The driver had fled the scene, and the car was even now on its way to the pound.
He snapped up his cell again and hit the “Return Call” button. After a couple of rings, Jake answered.
“Jake, it’s Hank,” he said, dispensing with small talk. “I may have something here. A car registered to a Chad Bronson has just been in an accident. No sign of the driver.” Hank scanned the online police report. “The attending officer described the fleeing driver as a white male. Approximately fifty to sixty years old. That doesn’t sound like Bronson. It’s on its way to the pound right now. I can meet you there if you can come right away.”
“On my way,” Jake replied. “I’ll just let Annie know, then I’ll see you there.”
Hank printed a couple more pages, scooped them from the printer and hurried from the building.
Tuesday, August 9th, 5:55 PM
THE SUN gleamed sharply off the hood of the bright red Firebird as Jake brought it to a quick stop beside where Hank was standing, waiting for him.
“Park that thing and let’s go,” Hank said.
Gravel flew as Jake spun into a nearby parking space and joined Hank.
The auto pound on Cherry Street was the only one in Vaughan, used to store vehicles that had been used in the commission of a crime and require additional investigations or a hold for evidentiary purposes. It also held unclaimed vehicles that had been towed away for one reason or another. The enclosure was surrounded by a huge chain link fence, and guarded by a massive gate.
Hank flashed his badge to the attendant and was given the location of the white Tercel. A tow truck crawled past them exiting the lot as Jake and Hank slipped through the gate and made their way towards the back of the area.
The auto had been deposited head first against the rear fence. The keys were still in the ignition. Hank slipped on a pair of surgical gloves and retrieved the keys, handing them, and another pair of gloves, to Jake. Jake forced on the one-size-fits-all gloves, ripping the back of one hand a bit, and thought about faulty advertising.
“Be careful what you touch,” Hank said. “If Bronson was the last one to see Jenny, then this vehicle is evidence.”
A quick search of the back seat revealed a faux leather case stuffed with CDs. A McDonalds bag was on the floor, with a couple of coffee cups jammed under the seat.
“Hank, look at this,” Jake called. He was standing at the rear of the car, the trunk wide open.
Jake pointed to the rear of the trunk. He had lifted the mat to reveal a small gold pendant necklace. Hank picked it up carefully.
“I bet that’s Jenny’s,” Jake said. “And look . . . It hasn’t been broken off, or ripped off. It’s undone.” He looked at Hank. “She left it there on purpose. She was in this trunk.” He dug his cell phone from his jacket pocket, and snapped a picture of the pendant, and a couple more of the outside of the vehicle.
Hank dropped the necklace into an evidence bag, peeling off the silver strip, and sealed it. “I’ll get the forensics guys down here,” he said. “They need to go over this car completely, especially the trunk. This is not just an abandoned vehicle anymore. It’s a crime scene.”
Hank called dispatch and gave the information. He put the bag containing the necklace back in the trunk and shut the lid. “Let’s go pick this Bronson character up,” he said.
Fourteen Years Ago
JEREMY was ten years old when he first visited his father in prison. They arrived a half-hour early to the prison’s visitor center, a small building situated outside of the prison grounds. His mother showed her identification, which was scrutinized by a squinty-eyed attendant, and then they were allowed into the waiting room. Here they had to put everything they were carrying into a locker.
Jeremy looked around him at the families, the loners, and some old guy fidgeting with his hands, sitting straight as a rail on a seat at the far wall. People of all kinds. Jeremy had never seen so many scary characters. Some looked like they could bite the head off nails. The glare from a bearded and heavily tattooed man caused Jeremy to cower in fear and cling to his mother. Tattoo gave Jeremy a menacing grin. He quickly looked away. This is a terrible place, he thought. Why is my daddy here?
In a few minutes a corrections officer escorted them to the main prison. Here they were searched.
Jeremy didn’t like being searched. He didn’t like the man doing the search. He was rough, and he didn’t like it when the man touched him in a place where he knew nobody else should touch him. It made him afraid and all cold inside.
After the search, they were taken to the visits hall. The room was filled with rows of tables, seated inmates, and visitors. There was a guard in each corner of the room. Jeremy saw his father already seated and waiting for them.
His father stood, kissed his mother, and gave Jeremy a quick hug. That’s all that was allowed.
A guard was eyeing them closely as thirty-two year old Quinton Spencer sat back down. His five years in Kingston Penitentiary had taken a toll on him. He appeared much older, and had a much rougher exterior than he’d had five years ago. His short-cropped hair showed some silver at the temples. Nonetheless, he was still an attractive man. Even handsome. But still, facing another five years behind bars, he looked, and felt defeated.
“Hi Jeremy,” his father said gently, and smiled. “You’ve grown a lot.”
“When are you coming home daddy?”
“It’ll be a while yet son.”
Quinton thought back to that night six years ago. Back before this had all started. He’d done a good job of keeping the farm up. He’d been successful, and the mortgage on their property had been paid off. He had a beautiful wife, a little boy, and life was pretty good.
Then, one night their life was shattered.
Annette Spencer was awakened suddenly, sure she’d heard something in the house. She reached over and gently awakened her husband.
“I think there’s somebody in the house,” she whispered.
Quinton was immediately alert. He didn’t hear anything, but he dropped carefully out of bed, went to the closet and retrieved his Remington Model 7 hunting rifle. He crept across the dim bedroom and gently opened the door to the hallway. As he felt his way silently toward the stairs, he peeked inside Jeremy’s room. He was fast asleep. As he reached the top of the stairs, he heard some rustling downstairs.
The house was old, and the steps creaked a little as he gradually made his way down, and toward the kitchen. The half moon was bright enough to allow enough vision to avoid chairs, tables, and furniture.
The rustling noise was coming from the living room. The sound of drawers opening and closing. Hugging the wall, he inched steadily toward the sound of the intruder. He held his rifle in a firing position. Bolt back, safety off, ready to fire.
A careful glance around the corner showed a shadowy figure dressed in black, holding a flashlight, snooping in drawers, violating his home.
Quinton raised his rifle and carefully aimed. “What the hell are you doing in my house?” he demanded.
He got off one shot as the invader ducked. Then, crawling, stumbling, and diving toward the open window the thief plunged outside head first, landing with a thud six feet down.
Quinton was at the window now. A second shot winged the villain in the shoulder as he tried to rise. A third shot and he was down. Flat on his face, a bullet through his head. Dead.
It is said those with the most money get the most justice. And that appeared to be true in Quinton’s case. It seems the fourteen-year-old intruder came from a family with some wealth, while Quinton did not. In fact, his lawyer wasn’t up to much and the end result was a hanging judge handed down a sentence of ten years. Tried and convicted of manslaughter. Sent to Kingston Penitentiary. Locked away.
Now, seated at the table in the visitors’ hall of the correctional institution, Annette couldn’t hold back her tears. Seeing her husband in this place always made her cry. Glancing at Jeremy, she knew he didn’t deserve this either.
Before long, their time was up. They had to leave again. Leaving Jeremy’s father behind.
On the long way home, Annette explained to her son how this had all happened. She explained about the intruder, how he’d entered through the window, his father had shot him while he was trying to escape. She explained about how his father didn’t deserve to be in prison. He was only protecting his home and his family.
Jeremy wasn’t stupid. He knew what that meant. He realized the burglar, who had invaded their home, deserved to die. His father always did the right thing, and had killed someone who deserved it. He was glad the boy was dead. He wished he could’ve been the one who did it. It made him angry.
“Mommy, Daddy did the right thing, right?”
“Yes honey, he did.”
Jeremy looked out the side window as they sped down the highway toward home. He was deep in thought.
Tuesday, August 9th, 6:22 PM
JAKE accompanied Hank to King City. Two uniformed officers joined them there. The building on Canderline Street the printout showed as Bronson’s residence, was an ancient apartment complex. They took the elevator to the third floor. Jake followed behind Hank and the uniforms as they approached the door of 3B.
The door was opened to Hank’s knock by an elderly woman. She was wearing a faded housecoat. That, and the rest of her attire, appeared to have been scrounged from Goodwill. She looked at them blankly. As she spoke, the ash fell from a cigarette dangling from her mouth and landed on the filthy carpet. “What is it?” she demanded.