Xenocide, part 8
I hate when a lead doesn’t pan out, but instinct told me that Freeman wasn’t exactly out of the loop on this one. The problem was, whoever used his credit card would be local to him — and that was a good hundred miles from here. Well out of our jurisdiction, and I couldn’t exactly get the State Police involved in the case since the FBI supposedly took it over.
“I’m beat,” I admitted to the sheriff on his smoke break. I was frustrated to the point of asking Carmichael for a cancer stick, but I knew Tenesha wouldn’t approve. I wouldn’t want butt-breath getting in the way. “Seriously. I don’t see any way we can take this case any further without tripping over the Feds.”
“It’s not like our friends are working the case very hard,” said the sheriff. “I’ve got Deputy Noble keeping an eye on them, but they’ve hardly left the hotel except to hit a nearby restaurant. And they’ve only done that twice in the three days since they’ve been here.”
“Yeah. I hate to let this drop, but I don’t see how I can take it any further.”
“Maybe you can’t,” the sheriff said, “but I can.”
He grinned. “I happen to know Sheriff Lester down that way, I’ll pay him a courtesy call. And while I’m there, I tell him we found a case of credit card fraud against one of his locals.”
“But how do you let him know you’re coming without the Feds catching on?”
“It’s Friday. I’m going on a weekend fishing trip — I have a trailer on Lake Baldwin, next county over. There’s no cell coverage at my place, so I’ll make the call from a payphone at the bait shop. Nothing suspicious or even out of the ordinary. I’ll be back Sunday night, and I’ll let you know if I find anything interesting.”
The weekend was a bust, no pun intended. Tenesha had shifts when I didn’t, and vice versa. I had a little excitement Saturday night, quelling a domestic disturbance. Like most cops, those are the calls I hate the most: there’s usually alcohol or less legal intoxication issues, and even the person making the call can turn on you in a heartbeat. SOP in our county for domestics is, you get backup whether you want it or not. There were two couples involved, the women no more roughed-up than the men, bombed out of their minds on who-knows-what. We ended up running all four in and getting a warrant. We found plenty of well-used drug paraphernalia, some residual this and that… but they’d smoked up everything before we got there. That was probably what triggered the quarrel.
As for the rest of the weekend, I spent it either working or watching random ballgames, either at my apartment or Ruth’s. I did a lot of fantasizing about Tenesha. You just never know how an attraction will turn out, once you get to know someone a little better, but I knew I wanted more and it seemed like Tenesha did too. There would be crap from some of the other deputies about a mixed-race relationship — bad attitudes take a long time to die — but they could mind their own business.
But one step at a time. If we were going anywhere together, we’d have to find time to be together first. She did text me Sunday afternoon: Were you in on that domestic last night?
Yeah. But they came along peacefully.
:-) Stay safe, OK?
You bet. Can I email you sched? You can pick a free evening?
Email on the way.
I got a kick out of the idea the Fibbies were reading our mushy texts and rolling their eyes.
Monday morning, I barely got to my desk when the sheriff waved toward the back door and mimed smoking a cigarette. I dropped my stuff and followed him out back.
“Catch any fish?” I was almost panting with anticipation.
Carmichael grinned. “Oh hell yes. I got enough crappie in the freezer to throw a fish fry for the entire department. Not only that, our fraud victim is a hog farmer.”
“Yeah, that fits. But we’d need more than that to pin the tail on the donkey.”
“There’s plenty more. Sheriff Lester and I go back a ways, and he didn’t have any problem telling me all about one of his upstanding citizens… and his family. If we were to bring pictures of Freeman’s son and hired hand to your detailing guy, I’d quit this stuff cold turkey if he didn’t say they’re the ones who brought the SUV in for the clean-out. Oh, and by the way, Danny Freeman owns an Excursion.”
“That fits, too. Freeman Junior and his Hired Hank ditch the body and go get the barge cleaned out for the long drive home. They pay with Dad’s credit card, then maybe call him and tell him to report it stolen to provide plausible deniability. I assume the senior Freeman was with his wife all this time, or perhaps doing something in public where they’d be recognized. Alibi covered.”
“And exposed. It doesn’t tell us who pulled the trigger, but if we could round up all three on a conspiracy charge, under normal circumstances we’d probably get one to admit to the deed.”
“Um… ‘could’? ‘Under normal circumstances’? There’s something else, isn’t there?”
The sheriff puffed his cigarette with vigor. “Yup. Turns out that Daniel Freeman, Jr. works for the CIA.”
to be continued…
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