By Dell Sweet
Copyright © 2018 by Dell Sweet
PUBLISHED BY: Dell Sweet; all rights reserved
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living person’s places, situations or events is purely coincidental.
This novel is Copyright © 2018 Dell Sweet. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the authors permission. All rights are retained by the Author.
Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print.
Cover art Copyright © 2018 Dell Sweet
Copyright 2018 Dell Sweet, all rights Reserved
“Last one,” Sammy said.
It was 2:00 AM and they had just come back from 6 hours of sleep to get a jump on the day. The last half hour they had been interviewing the people who worked the same shifts as April Evans.
“Candace loi,” Sammy added.
Don looked up and stopped writing in his little notebook. “How do you,” spell her name, he had meant to ask Sammy, but she was right in front of him.
“EL. OH. EYE,” she said with a smile.
“Vietnamese?” Don asked. She was obviously mixed race, African American and Asian, he questioned himself.
“Japanese,” she told him.
“Nice name,” Sammy said, “Candace.”
Beautiful girl, Don thought. “Did you know April Evans? Sometimes works this shift?” he asked.
“Not really,” she answered. “I mean I met her, but only in passing… I just started here myself.”
She really was beautiful, Don thought. “You wouldn’t know if she had a boyfriend… Other friends?” he asked.
Candace shook her head. “Sorry,” she said… “What has she done?”
“Nothing: She’s gone missing,” Sammy supplied.
“She was an eye witness to a serious case and then went missing,” Don said. “She’s not in trouble we just want to ask her a few questions… And, really make sure she’s okay.”
Candace shook her head. “I just started here a few weeks back, and like I said, I don’t really know her… but I heard it might be a girlfriend not a boyfriend though.”
Don looked at her. “You wouldn’t know who?”
“No. It’s just a rumor. Someone said to me… I don’t even remember who… but I’ve never seen her with a guy. And I have seen her with other girls… Maybe also the way she looked at me a few times… That’s all I know. I hope you find her though. She seems like a nice girl,” Candace said.
“You don’t seem the type for this… Bagging groceries at 2:00 am,” Don said.
Candace laughed. “I had this idea of dancing… Tough to get a foot in a door though.”
“Any good,” Sammy asked.
“Excuse mister smooth there,” Don told her. Sammy feigned a hurt look and Candace laughed. “He meant have you done some dancing? I know somebody… Might be interested.”
Candace arched her eyebrows. “I can dance. I just need to prove it to the right person.”
“Probably start out serving drinks… Dance a little… Then if he likes you he’ll put you in.”
“I can do that,” she said slowly.
Sammy passed her a white business card with his own name scrawled across the back. “Tell him I sent you… That’s my name on the back.”
“Jimmy Vincioni,” Candace asked.
“Just V… Jimmy V. Good guy,” Sammy said.
Candace nodded and tucked the card into her front jean pocket. “I’ll call him… Thanks. Look…” Her voice dropped to a near whisper. “I’m pretty sure she had a girlfriend here… I just don’t know who,” Candace added quietly.
Don finished writing in his notebook, nodded once he met her eyes and then shook the hand she offered. She walked away.
“Beautiful,” Sammy said.
“Absolutely,” Don agreed. “You ain’t getting none of that though.”
“Yeah? Well if Jimmy V hires her? It’ll be the next best thing.”
Don shook his head, but smiled. His eyes rose and watched as Candace walked away. “Guess I’ll have to have a few drinks at the club if that happens.”
Sammy chuckled low. “You and me both,” he agreed.
They had spent most of the previous night at David Cross’s trailer. The techs hadn’t picked up much, but what they had picked up was telling. Blood stains under the bed and beside one wall in the bedroom. A splatter of small pink stains that had tested positive for blood in the kitchen sink. Two rolled up socks drenched in blood in the kitchen garbage. Blood spatters in the bathroom sink too. All his clothes seemed to be gone, or at least there were none in the battered dresser in the bedroom. The forensic team had come up with two sets of fingerprints in the bedroom, his and someone else. Hair samples from the bed, from the couch in the living room. Foot prints out back and in the soft dirt of the front yard. And best of all, a tech that had been sent back to get pictures put the girl in the trailer yesterday afternoon.
The tech said the girl had seemed quiet, subdued, standing behind Cross, like Cross didn’t want her to be seen.
Questioning her friends was fill-in work while they waited on the warrant for her place. The tech that had put her at Cross’s trailer would probably clinch that. There had been bits of bone and brain matter along with the bloodstains under the bed and by the wall too. That bothered Don. It probably meant that something had happened. He didn’t have a lot of hope of seeing April Evans alive again.
He circled the word gay that he had written on his note pad. Maybe he had been asking the wrong questions.
“This girl,” Don said and underlined the name Alice Chambers in his notebook. “Knew her well. Or at least better than anyone else here. Why didn’t she mention a possible lesbian thing?”
“They were in high school together… She’s still here, maybe we should have a conversation with her again?” Sammy said.
“Maybe,” Don agreed. He looked up, spotted the girl working one of the checkouts and walked over to the manager; a young kid who didn’t even look old enough to shave yet. The manager himself went over and relieved her and sent her over to Don and Sammy.
It was clear as she made her way over to them that she was worried. “You be the bad guy,” Don whispered to Sammy, “I’ll be the understanding father figure.” Sammy nodded almost imperceptibly.
Alice Chambers smiled weakly as she walked up. Sammy scowled at her and her smile melted.
“Don’t worry,” Don said. “I’m sure we’ll get this cleared right up. Sit down, Alice.”
“Why is he so upset?” she asked looking at Sammy who continued to scowl.
“Because I don’t like being lied too, missy,” Sammy told her. “Pisses me off.”
“I didn’t lie,” Alice said, going on the defensive.
“Yes you did,” Sammy said, as he leaned toward her across the table. “You lied, and now you’re lying about having lied.”
She cringed away from him, looking ready to cry.
“Alice, I’m sure Sam here will be fine,” Don told her. “We work around hardened criminals all the time. I guess he forgot you’re a young lady, not a criminal.” Don sent Sammy a potent stare, and Sammy sighed and turned away. “It’s this lesbian thing… It’s understandable that you wouldn’t want to mention it, but this girl’s life could be at stake…” He made eye contact with her and made her hold it. Her eyes filled up and began to overflow. “Alice?” Don asked. She looked back toward the front of the store where she had been working and then looked back at them, swiping at the tears with the back of her hand and she did. “You want to tell me?”Don asked. She nodded.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered. She took a few seconds, seeming to fight to gain control. Don left and came back with some tissues that he handed to her. She thanked him, blew her nose, and then took several deep breaths.
Don mentally looked her over as she got herself under control. Alice Chambers was on the skinny side. Almost no breasts. A body like a boy, no hips, short, bobbed blonde hair. Nose ring, tongue ring, probably a dozen other piercings in her ears and who knew where else. He had taken her look for punk, not gay, but now that he was really looking at her she seemed more boyish than girlish. It seemed like maybe it was more than just a subtle statement, and he had overlooked it: Seen it wrong. It wasn’t just that she didn’t look all that attractive as a woman, she just looked more like a boy. And it looked like most of it was by choice.
“We were together in high school,” Alice said in a near whisper.
Don nodded like he’d known it all along. “Here at work too?” he asked.
“No… Of course not. April isn’t… April’s not… She likes boys… It was… It was just a thing for a little while… This guy…” She took a deep breath and swiped at her eyes. “This guy forced her, you know and so she stayed away from guys after that for awhile.” She focused on Don, refusing to look at Sammy.
“This guy… Know his name? The one who raped her?” Don asked.
“She didn’t say raped, she said forced,” Alice corrected.
“Okay, forced… but you can see, Alice, that even if you don’t say it’s rape, it’s still rape, right? Are you saying there was no intercourse?” Don asked.
“No… There was,” she admitted.
“Then its rape, Alice. Let’s not cut the guy any slack at all on that, okay?” Don asked.
“Okay,” Alice agreed.
“So, his name?”
“He’s dead,” Alice said. “Tyler Matthews. Died in a car crash a few months back, remember?”
“Yeah… The local football star,” Sammy said.
Don just nodded. “So it was just the two of you. What came between you?” he asked.
“I told you, guys. She’s not like me,” she looked down at the table and then back up. “But I don’t know this David. I never heard her say anything about him. Maybe a cute guy that lived at the end of the road. And two guys on either side of the trailer who have been bothering her,” Alice said.
Sometimes you failed to ask the right questions, Don thought. Sometimes the answers were right there. “Okay… Tell me about this cute guy who lived at the end of the road? You mean the trailer park road or Lott road?” he asked.
“Lott road. I don’t know about him. She said she saw him a few times. She thought he was cute, but she couldn’t get him to notice her,” Alice said. She blew her nose once more. The tears seemed to be dried up, Don thought: At least for now.
“Anything else about him… Anything at all?” Don asked.
“She said he worked nights… Drove a truck back and forth to work… That’s all I know, honest,” she looked over at Sammy who nodded. Done with his bad cop routine.
“Did you know David Cross at all… I can’t remember if I asked you that before,” Don said. He knew he had asked her; he simply wanted her to answer again.
“No,” Alice said.
“Didn’t know he lived at the end of Lott road… All the way at the end?” don asked.
She looked surprised. “No. I didn’t know that. I guess that means it was him she thought was cute… Did he do something to her…? Is that it? Did he?” her voice rose slightly and panic crept into it.
“I don’t know… I certainly hope not, Alice, but I don’t know,” Don said. “He’s a bad guy though… I can tell you that. Did time… If there’s any other thing you remember I could use the help. He may have done something to her… We just don’t know yet,” Don finished. Actually he was pretty sure that David Cross had killed April Evans in the back bedroom of the trailer at the end of Lott road that he called home: All, but positive.
She looked at him and her eyes began to spill over again. “I couldn’t stand that,” Alice whispered. “I couldn’t.”
He nodded. “You want me to talk to your boss, get you the rest of the day off, Alice?” Don asked.
“No, no,” she said. “I think I’ll go have a cigarette… Then I’ll be fine.”
“You know, I was thinking of having one too,” Don said. He reached out and took her hand and she came to her feet, “Come on.” He made his way to the front door taking her with him. Everyone in the store watched them walk out. The manager raised his hands slightly and looked at Sammy.
Sammy made a calm-down gesture with both hands. “It’s fine,” he said. “It’s fine.”