Xenocide, Episode 2
The waitress left our beers — Sweetwater 420 for me (the name reminded me of the kid), Amber Bock for Tenesha. That kind of surprised me, I figured her to be a wine drinker.
“Well?” I asked.
Tenesha laughed. “Doc Dix looked at it like we brought him a camel. And the maintenance crew about quit when they got a whiff of the back of the ambulance!”
The mental image gave me a chuckle, too. “The sheriff called the Fibbies. I guess he didn’t want to deal with it either. They’re gonna be all over this town by tomorrow afternoon. I’m sure they’ll want you to give a statement again.”
“I oughtta just write it down and hand ‘em a piece of paper.”
“Good idea. Me, I can just hand ‘em the pictures I took and let them do the talking.”
“Y’know, that’s the last you’ll ever see of those pictures.”
“Yeah.” I didn’t mention I’d filled a keychain drive with copies of all my photos and paperwork, and slipped it above the ceiling tiles in the supply room — I trusted Tenesha, but didn’t want her getting in trouble covering for me. Sheriff Carmichael likely did something similar with the reports. The Fibs had resources that we didn’t, but that didn’t mean we wanted them stealing everything. It just might be needed.
“You know, Adler, it wouldn’t hurt to clue in that kid who called you in the first place. You know, about the FBI being in town and all.” Tenesha took a long swig from her bottle and held my eyes with her own.
“Good point. He could have let someone else find it and call it in.” I know it sounds weird, a cop going easy on a pothead. But that’s Sheriff Carmichael’s policy: his theory is if we let the little stuff go, people will cooperate better when something serious is up. My dad says that’s how it used to be: the cops would take drunk kids home to their parents instead of “miring the whole family in the legal and so-called correctional systems.” Thus, Jacob Moss and his alleged bag of weed wasn’t an issue unless he got stupid about it and made it an issue — on the other hand, we show no mercy to distributers or meth labs. It seems to work; we get tips, anonymous or otherwise, about anyone even thinking about setting up a meth lab in the county. Out of town feds aren’t likely to see things our way, though.
We finished talking shop and tried moving on to other topics. Afterward, I walked Tenesha out to her car and she kissed my cheek. I couldn’t get a commitment from her for a repeat, but she didn’t turn me down either. Which is probably how it should be in an exurban county; things can get busy.
I caught Jacob Moss on his way out of his parents’ house the next morning. He was bundled up in a black hoodie for the chilly October morning.
“What’s going on?” he asked, looking me over. I wasn’t in uniform, and driving my own car. “I’m not in some kind of trouble, am I?”
“Not any of your own making. Besides, I’m off-duty. But I need to fill you in on some stuff. Lemme give you a ride to school.”
Moss looked up the sidewalk. “Fine. But you gotta drop me off before we get there.”
“No problem.” He got in, and I got rolling. “You know that — that body you found yesterday?”
Moss looked out the side window, away from me. “Yeah. What about it?”
“The sheriff called in the FBI. They’ll probably want to talk to you. Ask you the same questions I did.”
He breathed a swear word. “I wish I never called you guys. Do the right thing, get pounded.”
“That’s why I came by. To let you know. We’re not the enemy, at least the county cops aren’t. You know that, right?” He gave me a reluctant nod. “Yeah. So the FBI is gonna walk into your house like they own the place, and they’re gonna give you funny looks because you wear baggy pants and black t-shirts, and one of ‘em might poke around in your room while the other one’s asking questions that sound like they think you did it. So… I’m not sayin’ you do, but if you got anything that you wouldn’t want Feds stumbling across, you might want to get rid of it. Okay?”
“No worry. I’m clean.” He didn’t sound like he meant it. “So when do you think they’ll come?”
“For you? I’m guessing tomorrow. Today they’ll hit town and grill my ass and confiscate the pictures I took. That’ll take ‘em all day, because they’ll ask me the same questions in like six different ways — then they’ll do the same to you tomorrow. Just stay calm, tell them what you told me, and you can call ‘em on it when they start asking you the same questions. They’ll be busy running down the list of everyone’s names on the report and talking to them tomorrow, so they won’t be in your space too long. As long as you don’t give ‘em a reason to hang around.”
Moss laughed. “Yeah. Thanks for the warning, Ossifer. You can let me out here.”