This is a chapter of the book I am writing for NaNoWriMo. If you want to read it from the start, click here for the chapter index.
5 Trays, 5 Days
Sunday night lights out were at 10pm. For J.W. it couldn’t come soon enough. It took all of his emotional strength just to keep from becoming a wailing, crying mess. He spread out his matt on the floor, pulled his single blanket over his orange jumpsuit and closed his eyes. Tater could hear him sobbing in the darkness. They all did the first night.
At night, jail is loud. Even without his anxiety and despair, J.W. wouldn’t have been able to sleep. Tonight the White County Jail housed 23 inmates, J.W. was sure all 23 either snored. Or talked and laughed. Most of them played cards or chess all night.
By 4am the talking had stopped and, though the snoring continued, J.W. finally collapsed into a dreamless sleep. The lights came on one hour later, with the sound of an air horn.
J.W. stirred, but wasn’t quick to sit up. He was exhausted and his body hurt from sleeping on the concrete, his matt not withstanding. Tater and the others in his cell sat up on their cots. A corrections officer came by and unlocked the cell.
“Better get your ass up, ‘Preacher’, head count and breakfast in 10 minutes. You miss it, you don’t eat.” His voice was snide.
J.W. willed himself to sit up. He was just again realizing this wasn’t all a dream, he was in jail.
“Come on,” encouraged Tater, pulling on his jumpsuit. “We gots to line up.” Tater appeared to be the only one of the four who even noticed J.W.
J.W. craned himself up from the floor, almost trampled by the other four in the attempt. A line formed at the heavy metal door. He hadn’t noticed last night the wide, three inch tall slot at the bottom where trays of food were pushed through as each inmate bent to retrieve in turn. J.W. was fifth to last in line.
As each tray was dispensed the inmate would then go to one of the metal picnic tables in the common room to eat. There were three, each able to accommodate six.
J.W. still in shock, shuffled forward, head down, as the line moved.
When his turn came, he bent and retrieved his tray, then looked for a table with an empty space to sit. The tables were full and J.W. was a bit relieved. He didn’t want to deal with anyone anyway. He picked a spot against the wall, and sat, “indian-style”, feeling the cold concrete block against his back. He balanced the tray on his lap.
The meal was simple. There were two pieces of bread, glued together with a thin layer of peanut butter and jelly, warm oatmeal and a child-sized carton of milk. It also boasted a tiny plastic spoon.
As J.W. looked at the tray, his shock left him motionless. The confusion of fear and disbelief caused his mind to race while it struggled to even complete the simple task of reaching for the sandwich, opening his milk or even lifting the spoon for his oats. He just stared at the heavy plastic tray.
People often talk about “fight or flight,” but there is another response to being in a position where true, deadly fear grips men’s minds: Freeze. J.W. was frozen in the catatonic grip of his fear.
As he sat there motionless, expressionless, one of the larger inmates, approached. J.W. didn’t notice him until he spoke.
“Five days, five trays, Fish.” Dakota Harriman was a full six-feet three inches tall and his steroid enhanced physique weighed in over 250 pounds. Though J.W. was a full six feet himself, huddled on the floor Dakota loomed over him.
“What?” muttered J.W., looking up at the hulking figure.
“Five trays, five days. You give me five of your trays over the next five days. Damn, Fish, you retarded or somethin’?” Harriman’s frame required far more calories than the jail provided. He “supplemented” his meals by intimidating other inmates.
The threat caused J.W. to break through the haze of his mind. Holding the tray, he stood slowly to his feet.
To Harriman, J.W. didn’t appear too threatening. He had a slim build and Harriman sized him up as someone who didn’t pose a threat. As J.W. stood, Harriman crossed his arms in front of his massive chest. He expected J.W. to simply hand him the tray. They all did.
J.W. said nothing, and held the tray in front of himself with both hands. He looked at Harriman.
Harriman, unfolded his right arm and reached out to take hold of the tray.
J.W. felt a surge of rage and adrenaline. Before Harriman touched the tray, J.W. snatched it back and swung it at the big man’s face, the edge hitting him on the bridge of his nose, breaking both.
The big man stumbled back, dazed by the impact. Before he could react, J.W. tackled him and they both fell to the concrete floor, J.W. landing on top of Harriman.
J.W.’s rage-fueled attack was not strategic, it was embodied anger. He straddled Harriman’s abdomen and kept hitting him in the face, while Harriman alternately struggled to cover his face with one hand while trying to push J.W. off him.
The original strike had opened a significant gash across his nose, and now his eyes were a mess of blood and oats.
The other inmates, always hoping for the entertainment of a fight, rushed over. The COs were less speedy. They also enjoyed watching the fights, at least as long as there wasn’t serious injury. If an inmate had to be transported to the hospital, that meant more paperwork. They did everything they could to avoid paperwork.
Within a minute, which in a fight seems a long time, the guards sounded a siren, and three COs rushed into the common area to break up the fight. The inmates all dropped to the floor, lying face down, fingers threaded behind their heads.
J.W. was still swinging wildly, but Harriman had managed to sit up, parrying the blows and pushing J.W. off him. Harriman returned one punch, an overhand right, that knocked the kneeling J.W. to the floor. It was fortunate for J.W. Harriman was still seated when he swung and not able to hit him properly – Harriman could easily punch a man unconscious.
Harriman climbed on top of J.W. now, “I’m gonna kill you you fuckin’ son of a bitch. You’re a dead man.” He pulled back his massive right fist to deliver another blow.
That’s when both men were hit with the pepper spray from the guards. Harriman had experienced this before. The guards feared him. His size and strength were intimidating, and the COs didn’t carry guns. The plan with Harriman was always to spray him first, then subdue him.
Harriman reached up to rub his burning eyes, compounding his pain. He struggled for breath. While he was disoriented, two of the officers threw him to the concrete and cuffed his massive arms behind his back.
A third officer sprayed J.W. directly in the face before roughly rolling him over on his face, straddling his back as he cuffed him. J.W.’s eyes seared with pain while his lungs struggled to take breaths.
“Guess the new fish was tougher than Biggun thought,” chuckled one of the guards.
This is a chapter of the book I am writing for NaNoWriMo. If you want to read it from the start, click here for the chapter index.
J.W. stayed doubled over for what seemed to Ray White an eternity. Ray was not a particularly empathetic guy, years practicing law had beaten that out of him, but he felt for J.W. He went over and grabbed the trashcan and placed it at J.W.’s feet.
J.W. had stopped retching now and just sat immobile, his torso folded against his thighs, his arms hugging his lower legs. Ray sat back down, also silent. Despite Ray’s newfound empathy, he had no words.
After a few minutes, J.W. sat back up. He didn’t look at Ray, he didn’t seem to be looking at anything, he just stared off into space.
Over the years as a criminal attorney, Ray had seen clients break down, cry, scream their innocence. This was different. J.W.’s mind was just not there. The shock of so much, so quickly, had left him completely stunned. Uncharacteristically, Ray just waited in silence, hoping for J.W. to come back from wherever he was and rejoin him.
When Ray could stand the silence no longer, he said, “J.W.? You OK?”
J.W.’s mind was processing but couldn’t seem to pull all the pieces together. This past week had been unbelievable. He wanted to pray, even in his mind, but he couldn’t mentally form the words. He sat there in shock, not hearing Ray.
Finally, Ray slammed his hand to the metal table. “J.W.! Snap out of it!”
J.W. turned to look at Ray, his eyes blank. “J.W., you gotta snap out of this. Are you OK?”
“No” J.W. replied.
“Look, you have to snap out of this. You don’t want to let them think you’re suicidal, they’ll put you in the hole, and that’s a lot worse than any of this.”
“The Hole” was a single cell in the White County Jail. It was normally used for prisoner discipline and had a toilet/sink combination bolted to the wall, a cot and nothing else. It had a solid metal door with two slots, each with a sliding metal shutter. One was at eye level and one was used to uncuff, cuff prisoners and pass them their food. There was no light so once you were in there and the shutters were closed, you were forced into darkness. Prisoners were placed in there for 23 out of every 24 hours.
When a prisoner was deemed a suicide risk, the law stated they had to be placed into a room where they could not harm themselves. In White County, the hole became that room. The COs would unbolt and remove the cot. The prisoner was stripped down to his underwear and placed in the cell with no blanket he could use to hang himself.
More often than not, when the COs wanted to punish a prisoner they didn’t like but who had not committed an infraction, they would “observe” him engaging in suicidal ideation, note so on his file, then throw him in the hole. “For his protection” they would say.
J.W. appeared broken already, thought Ray, and putting him in the hole would just make it worse.
“J.W. I need to talk to you about this case and what is going to happen. Can you communicate with me?” Ray wasn’t sure he could.
J.W. pulled his mind back from the brink and replied, “yes, I mean, yes, I think I can. I don’t understand any of this.”
“Well it is a shock. I want you to know we’re going to do all we can to make this as easy as possible. I need to talk you through what will be happening to you over the next day.”
“I need you to get me out of here.” J.W.’s eyes were pleading. It took all of his will to not scream.
“We’re going to see about getting that done. Let me tell you what’s going to happen. You’ll be arraigned tomorrow afternoon….”
J.W. interrupted, “You can’t get me out of here tonight?”
“I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. Judge White will do arraignments and motions tomorrow at 1pm, that’s the earliest you can get before a judge.” Ray had become used to referring to his brother as “Judge” having done so for many years now.
“So far you’re only being charged with one murder, Officer Canada, but you’ll likely be charged with two more tomorrow. I will be speaking to the Commonwealth Attorney in the morning.”
“They can’t believe I killed anyone.” Replied J.W. flatly. The fight had gone out of him.
“Look, I’m sure you didn’t. But Chief Dalton seems to think you did and we won’t see the evidence until discovery. Tomorrow at the arraignment I will file a motion with the court to show ‘probable cause’ which will, if the Judge grants it, force the police to show they had probable cause to arrest you.”
“So it could get, what, dismissed tomorrow?”
“Technically, yes, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. There is a police officer dead and it’s unlikely you will get out that easily.” Ray failed to mention his brother was facing reelection and that meant more to Judge White than justice.
“It might tell us whether they have any real evidence though. By now they’ve searched your house and turned up anything they can. Is there any reason they would find a weapon or other incriminating evidence in your home?”
“Over the years I’ve shot many guns, but I don’t own any. I can’t imagine anything in the parsonage being a problem.”
“Good. That’s good. Did they swab your hands when they brought you in?”
“No, they didn’t. It all seemed so fast. I was just talking to the chief and the next thing I knew he was arresting me for murder.”
“OK, I will ask the court to check your clothes for gunshot residue. The prosecution will want to explain it away, but it can’t hurt.”
“Now, let me walk you through your arraignment…” Ray then talked through the steps J.W. would go through Monday afternoon.
When he finished, he got up to leave.
“Please, don’t go.” J.W.’s eyes were pleading.
Ray placed his hand on J.W.’s shoulder and leaned down close to his face. “You’ll be okay, we’ll get you through this. Pray, meditate or whatever you can do. The next day will be hard, but you’ll make it.”
Ray walked to the door, called for the guard and he was gone.
This is a chapter of the book I am writing for NaNoWriMo. If you want to read it from the start, click here for the chapter index.
Early Monday morning, Chief Dalton set out, subpoena in hand, for the Baptist Children’s Home main office in London. He retrieved copies of all the adoption documents then went to the Shoney’s to see what he could find out about J.W.’s mother.
Her name was Romona Farmer, he read, and she had twin boys when she was just 16, no father listed.
As he read, he talked to his coffee.
“Twins, that’s what I thought.”
“Kept one. Need to find out what the name is.”
“Wonder if she still lives in Inez.”
He dialed his cell, calling the White County Clerk.
“Vicky, this is the Chief. Can you look up a DMV record for me? I’m looking for…” and he rattled off Romona’s details.
Vicky called it up from the Commonwealth database, giving the chief her current address and car registration.
“Thanks, Vicky. Tell your mother ‘hey’ for me.” Vicky’s mother and Dalton had gone to school together.
“I will Chief.”
Dalton disconnected, finished his coffee, gathered his papers and set out on the two hour drive to Inez.
Inez, Kentucky has been through many incarnations over the last 200 years.
James Ward first explored the fertile, wooded area surrounding Rockcastle Creek, making it his home, in 1810.* In the 19th century the valleys carved by the snaking waters of the Eastern Kentucky hills were called “bottoms,” so Ward decided the name the area Arminta Ward’s Bottom, as a joke poked at his, Arminta.
In the 19th century Martin County had few opportunities. The land was rugged and roads, if one could call them that, were sparse. The nearby Tug Fork, leading to the Big Sandy River could take supplies and out, otherwise there was isolation. The people survived by ringing every last measure of food from the rocky soil, raising hogs and using the common coal outcrops as fuel for heat and cooking.
In the mid 1800s John Warfield established the Warfield Salt Works and began mining the salt from the limestone caves surrounding the area. He also began to market the plentiful coal in the area, mining it and moving it down the Tug and Big Sandy. He eventually renamed the business the Warfield Salt and Coal Works.
The civil war ended Warfield’s ambitions as well as his Salt and Coal Works.
In 1873, the area around Arminta Ward’s Bottom was added to the newly created Martin County. Because it is a beautiful, lush valley, it was renamed on the occasion Eden, Kentucky until a year later when the postmaster found an Eden, Kentucky post office already existed. He changed the name to Inez after Inez Frank, the daughter of the postmaster of Louisa, Kentucky. He hoped to marry her and what better way to woo his love than to name the city after her.
While coal mining brought jobs over the years, they were subsistence jobs in mining camps where the men worked hard in the dark, risking their lives, to survive.
Poverty was always a heavy millstone around the neck of the people of Martin County. The area was always rugged and isolated, survival difficult. The poverty there is so extreme Lyndon Johnson used Inez as the visual representation of poverty in Appalachia, visiting Inez in 1964 to launch his “War on Poverty.” At the time 60 percent of the residents lived far below the poverty level.
Today Inez “boasts” less than 500 residents. Most of the available jobs were in coal, natural gas or oil. Some work at the Big Sandy Corrections Center just outside the town. Still about a third of the population still simply subsists.
People who grew up in the ease of the middle class have trouble understanding the way people who have lived in poverty their whole lives think. Outwardly, they are exactly the same as those who have never experienced it. Internally, they are far different.
Hardship is accepted as the norm. They have all experienced hunger. They have all experienced an illness they did not have the resources to care for adequately. Every day the minor inconveniences easily dealt with by those of greater means often meant temporary or even permanent disaster. An unusually high electric bill, a car repair, a case of the flu could jeopardize the financial house of cards they live in daily.
The constant fear means vigilance. Looking for both opportunity and threat.
This is where Romona Farmer was raised. Threats were everywhere. Opportunities were sparse. When she saw Chief Dalton’s Explorer drive up to her trailer, her heart jumped.
Dalton approached the trailer. The skirt was missing over half of it’s length. The sidings were covered with the dirt from years of neglect. As he climbed the wooden steps to the door, he felt as if they might give way.
When she heard Dalton’s knock, she almost didn’t answer. Romona did an inventory of the petty crimes she might have committed, wondering if there might be an arrest warrant out there someplace and this policeman was here to collect.
But it could also be about Ricky.
She willed herself to the door.
“Can I he’p you?” She asked, leaving Dalton on the porch.
“Are you Romona Farmer?” Dalton asked with some authority. He had found being commanding was almost always the best choice.
“Yes, I am. What’s this about?”
“Ma’am, can I come in please? I need to ask you some questions.” Dalton didn’t intend to tell her about the body yet, too soon to even know if it was her son.
Romona let him in and offered him a seat on the couch. At one time it had been a light brown, but now the armrests were black and the tops of the rear cushions were the same. The trailer had the stale smell of cigarettes and mold. He was sure the roof leaked.
“Mind if I smoke?” asked Dalton, hoping the smell would be overcome.
“Sure,” said Romona, pushing a butt filled ashtray he direction. “Can I get one too?”
Dalton handed her a cigarette.
“Ms. Farmer…” Dalton began.
“You can call me ‘Ro’, everyone does.”
“OK, ‘Ro,’ I’m from Silerville and I’m investigating some occurrences there. In my investigation I came across some information. Is it correct that you gave up a child for adoption?”
Romona’s eyes began to tear. “Yes, yes I did. I’m so sorry.”
Dalton ignored her emotion.
“Do you know what became of that child?”
“No,” she lied, “I have no idea.” Romona, despite her flaws, was a convincing liar.
“And it’s my understanding you kept one of the twins, is that correct?”
“Yes, my Ricky. He’s my pride and joy. Mamaw Eddie wanted me to give him up as well, but I kept him.”
“I see, and where is Ricky now? Do you know?”
“He’s got hisself a girl and they lives over at Cabin Creek. I don’t know if they’s home, though. I ain’t heard from them in a week. That’s not unusual or nothin’, we isn’t close like we was.”
“Ro, now I need to ask you a difficult question.” Romona stiffened. “The birth certificate doesn’t mention the father’s name. Do you know who the father was?”
Romona’s eyes became a flood and her chin puckered and quivered. Dalton took that as a yes.
“I need to find him, it’s important. I need you to tell me his name.”
“I guess it ain’t matter now,” replied Romona, trying to talk through her tears, “he ain’t got a wife or youngun any more. He’s an important man, and all those years ago having babies with me, well, would have ruined his life.”
“Who is he, Romona?”
“His name is Richard Langston.”
* Kentucky’s Last Frontier, Henry P. Scalf, 1966, p. 142ff
It was two hours before the officer returned to retrieve J.W. for his phone call. He had been too dazed by the events to even notice the guard’s name plate during the intake, but now he noted his name was Mealor.
“C’mon Reeves.” Ordered Mealor.
Reeves got up and followed Mealor. Mealor sat him at a desk in the room behind the bulletproof reception window. There was a landline phone on the desk.
“Who can I call?” asked Reeves sheepishly.
“You can call whoever the hell you want, just make it count. You only get one.” This wasn’t true, people arrested in Kentucky are allowed to make a reasonable number of calls, typically to family and attorney. Reeves was now law enforcement’s special project. He wasn’t going to get preferential treatment or even typical treatment, they were planning to make it as hard on him as possible.
He wanted to call Suzanna. He needed to. He had no clue what her parent’s number was, not having to remember numbers was both the blessing and curse of cell phones.
“Can I get my cell phone so I can look up a number?” Reeves asked Mealor.
Mealor just threw down the tiny Silerville phone book. “There ya go.”
J.W. considered protest then thought better of it. He called him parent’s phone.
“Oh, John, we have been so worried about you. We came down to the jail to see you as soon as we heard, but they refused. Said it wasn’t ‘visiting hours.'” Magnolia was supportive, but J.W. could hear the fear in her voice.
“Mom, I don’t know what to do. I need an attorney. They think I killed a police officer. I need you to call Suze, I don’t have her parent’s number with me and they won’t let me use my cell.”
“Oh, honey, I already called her. She wanted to come home right away, but with everything going on your daddy and I thought it best if she stayed there until we knew more. You might have been killed. She’s worried sick about you, we all are. What happened? How can they think you killed someone?”
“I have no idea. Mom, can you and Dad help me get an attorney?”
“Your father already called Ray White,” Ray White was a prominent criminal attorney in Silerville, and Judge White’s cousin. “He said he would be out to talk with you shortly.”
“I have no idea how I can pay him.”
“Now, your father and I have some money set back. We’ll make sure he gets paid.”
“Can you tell Suze that I’m alright and that I love her and Claire? This has got to be torture for them.”
“I will, I’ll call her right now.”
Mealor was looking over at Reeves, tapping his finger to the non-existent watch on his wrist.
“Mom, I have to go, they want me to get off the phone. I love you, tell Dad I love him.”
“I will honey, be careful. We’ll get you out of there as soon as we can. We love you.”
J.W. was trying not to cry and Mealor led him back to his cell.
Small town “justice” is not the way it is often pictured in cop dramas. On television and in the movies, there is a judge on call who handles arraignments and bond hearings twenty-four-seven. In the small towns dotting Eastern Kentucky, no such luxury exists. There is one judge, elected by the people, who presides over all the criminal activity. He does not work evenings nor weekends.
If a person gets arrested on a Friday night, they will sit in the White County Jail until at least Monday morning, unless the judge is busy that day. If he is, they’ll be there until he has opportunity to preside over the arraignment.
Justice is also not blind nor impartial. Possibly it is not anywhere, but it is certainly not in Eastern Kentucky. “Justice” is meated out according to the status of the victim and the status of the accused. This was certainly true in J.W.’s case. He was not going to get any favor from the judge, who would be facing election next year.
It was another hour before Mealor summoned J.W. again. “Your attorney’s here.”
He led J.W. to a small room, similar in almost every way to the interrogation room at the police station, down to the acoustic tile walls and ceiling. Mealor sat J.W. down and could hear Roy White in the hall outside, joking with the guards.
White came into the room smiling. “Preacher, I never thought I’d see you in here.”
White and J.W. were acquainted. They both were regulars at the Thursday lunch Kiwanis meeting. The ran in different crowds otherwise. White wasn’t a church going man.
“Well, me either, Ray.”
“OK, let me tell you what I know,” said White, sitting across from J.W. “First, though, has anyone talked to you about Doc?”
“About Doc? No, what’s going on with Doc?”
“J.W., I hate to be the one to break this to you, but he’s been shot as well. It’s not in the news yet, but it will be tomorrow.”
“Someone shot Doc?” This terrible week had just gotten much worse. “Are you sure? He might just be missing. He was up on…”
“Queen Mountain, yeah, I know. They found him up there this morning. He’d been killed, driving your SUV. I’m sorry J.W.”
J.W. felt like he had just been kicked in the stomach for the seventh time today. He grabbed his stomach and doubled over. He began to wretch. It was good he hadn’t had anything to eat.
“You OK preacher?” Asked Ray, putting his hand on J.W.’s back. J.W. didn’t answer. The room was spinning.
Sunday evening, Jon Langston was worried. He had seen on the news the shooting of the police officer in Silerville, and how Reeves had been taken in for questioning. He hadn’t heard from Mr. Black for a couple days and it looked to Langston like everything was going to hell.
And he wanted MORE money. A “bonus” Black had called it. He already arranged to have the money wired in the morning, but this all seemed like a sinkhole opening beneath him.
Dick was not doing well. His color was off, he was losing weight. He could barely carry on a conversation he was so tired. He had even quit trying to get dressed and go to his desk. He would just sit in his bedroom in a robe.
If Dick dies while Reeves is still alive, it will cost him millions.
“Fuck,” he said out loud to his empty office.
Jon, like his father, needed to be in control. In their business they both maintained control by giving people specific responsibilities and guidelines, then reaming them out when they messed up. Jon felt he had no control here.
Hell, he couldn’t even call Mr. Black or get a message to him. He had to wait on Black to call him.
Once the girls had finished watching Frozen, Rachel got up from the couch saying, “OK, girls, it’s time for bed!”
“Aw, Mom,” whined Taylor, “do we gotta?”
“Yes, now you both go brush your teeth and get in bed. Daddy and I will be up to tuck you in a minute.”
The girls dejectedly marched out of the room. They may pout a bit, but they always did what their parents told them.
Rachel and Tom gathered the glasses and took them to the kitchen. “This gives me so much joy,” he told Rachel as she loaded the dishwasher. When she straightened up again, he grabbed her and said, “so does this,” planting a passionate kiss on her lips.
“Why, Doctor, are you trying to be fresh me with?” She joked. “C’mon, let’s tuck in the girls before they figure out some way to stay up.”
“‘Night, Maddy.” said Tom, kissing her puckered lips,”What are you going to dream about tonight?” Maddy always decided what she would dream about before she closed her eyes.
“Cinnamon,” she smiled.
“OK, well you dream about Cinnamon. I love you Maddy Cakes.” He bent over and kissed her again, walking out just as Rachel entered the room.
Tom always tucked in Taylor last. She had requested that starting several years ago, though Tom didn’t really know why. The truth was Tom was Taylor’s world. She loved him. She respected him. Even at eleven she knew he was a good man, a man who everyone knew, everyone respected. She wanted to be just like him someday.
Tay was sitting up in bed when Tom walked in. “OK, Tay, time to lay down and go to sleep.”
She laid down and Tom covered her with her thick quilt.
“Daddy,” Taylor asked, “what is it like to be a doctor?”
“Well, hon, I get to see people and make them feel better when they’re sick, and sometimes I get to help them to never get sick in the first place. It allows me to care about and help lots and lots of good people.”
“Do you think I can be a doctor some day?”
“Of course you can, honey, you can be anything you want to be.” It made Tom proud his daughter wanted to be a doctor. Maybe someday they’ll call her “Little Doc.”
“Now, close your eyes and go to bed.” He kissed her. “I love you so much, Tay.”
“I love you too, Daddy.”
As Tom got to the door, he shut off the light and added “sleep tight, don’t let the…”
“…BED BUGS BITE!” Finished Taylor, giggling.
When Tom got into his own bedroom, Rachel was already changed and in bed. She had just picked up a book to read. As Tom changed, he talked to her.
“Rach, how do you feel about getting several acres and maybe a couple horses?”
“Has Maddy convinced you that easily?” She replied.
“Well, I guess. I want them both to have what they want in life. Plus it would be fun. The girls could learn how to take care of them, we could take rides together.”
“OK, Farmer Sibley, I’ll think about it. Seems like a lot of work and expense. But the girls would love it. I would too, I think. Not sure about cleaning the stalls.”
Tom crawled in bed and moved his body on top of hers. “You already deal with my bull shit, how bad can it be?”
“Good point,” she said as he kissed her deeply again. The events of the week had made them feel especially close, realizing how easily you can lose the one you love.
“Doc, I think I need a check up.” Rachel said coyly.
“Tell me where it hurts and I’ll kiss it and make it better.”
Disposing of Polly’s body had been easy. Tab picked it up in a fireman’s carry and brought it down the 30 yards to the road over the spillway. He tossed it over the low rail and it tumbled down the steep incline. Ideally it would travel all the way down to the water, delaying finding her by days, weeks or possibly longer. In the dark he couldn’t see how far down it fell, but the body couldn’t be tied to him in any way, so it was little concern.
He retrieved Polly’s purse and removed her keys. He noted her panties were still lying where she had kicked them, but decided to leave them. It made him smile to think some teenager would probably find them and take them. Only later when they heard about the murder on the news would they discover the horrifying truth.
Tab returned to the road and tossed the purse over the rail as well.
When the body was eventually found, it would likely be first thought a suicide. Unstable woman jumps over the rail to her death. The autopsy, he was certain, would reveal murder. That was little concern. He would be long gone before then.
Only 63% of murders are ever solved. The vast majority of solved murders are solved within the first hour of the police showing up. The perpetrator is still there, with the body, and is often confessing to the crime. A heated argument leading to a crime of passion.
The majority of the remaining solved murders are wrapped up within a couple days. Who had motive? Who had opportunity? What weapon was used? Typically it is obvious who had motive and opportunity, finding that person also owned or even still possessed the weapon made finding the truth simple.
The third of murders remaing unsolved typically fell into three categories.
Gang related murders were often difficult to solve. The police know what gang committed the crime and often why. Unfortunately finding the “trigger man” was difficult as it could be one of any number of people. The public was rarely concerned with these murders remaining unsolved because the typical victim was just a member of a rival gang.
The second category were uncharged murders where the police are almost certain they know who committed the murder, but lack sufficient evidence to support a charge. The cheating husband who financially benefited from his wife’s murder. The son of a victim who inherits.
Adding these first two categories to the solved murders means that in about 90% of murders, the police know the reason and people behind the crime.
Tab fell into a third category: Stranger murder. Stranger murders include serial killers, random poisoners, the like. When the victim has no relation to the killer, it makes identifying them hard.
In most cases, and certainly in Polly’s, the police would have no idea why she was killed let alone who committed the crime. They would likely question the man Tab had seen her with at the Wayside, but he will be easily ruled out one way or another. They would inquire with friends and family about other possible relationships, possible enemies, possible motives. Tab would never be on their radar.
Tab completed “cleaning” the scene, making sure he left nothing of “him” behind, the climbed into the Mustang. He moved back to seat to accommodate his frame, then drove back to the abandoned store. He shut off before he turned into the lot, and parked next to his Buick. He got out, put the seat back into the position Polly had it in. Grabbing a cotton towel from his car, he wiped down everything he had touched. He had been making mental notes during the drive there and back.
When he finally returned to his own car, it was 9:45pm. He decided to go back to the Wayside for a few hours before heading to Silerville for the next part of his “business.”
At 2:30am, the alarm sounded on Tab’s phone. He got up, stretched and went into the bathroom to wash his face. He smoked, dressed, brushed his teeth and got into the Buick at 2:58, arriving in Silerville 22 minutes later.
Tab parked the Buick on Front Street within sight of the Parsonage and church. No windows showed any light. He had already noted the Jeep was parked in the unlit lot between the house and church. This should be easy.
Lights off, he advanced the Buick to the street directly in front of the church lot. He retrieved the GPS, replaced the battery, then checked the functionality on his phone. He quietly got out of the car and walked over to the lot.
He took a second to check, still no lights on in the parsonage. He quickly slid under the high clearance of the Cherokee, found a solid spot, and allowed the magnet on the GPS to hold it snugly against the frame.
Back in the Buick he checked once more to assure the GPS was functioning then started the drive back to Corbin.
As he drove, he considered his next moves. He didn’t want to do this job at the house. That would mean he would have to kill Reeves as well as his wife. Many ways to make that into a clusterfuck. They may not be in the same room. One might run and escape, immediately alerting the cops. It could get him sent to prison for a long time.
The best situation would be if Reeves decided to take a hike. He could follow him, take him while he was in some isolated place in the woods.
He would track his movements for a few days and see what opportunity arose.