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Chapter 10 of Secrets To Keep

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“Maybe we can help? What are you doing? Jim Horner hired me to find this woman’s son because he wants justice. What am I going to do when I find her son?”

“She needs help. She’s his mother.”

“But I’m not the one to help her.”

“Do you think the police are going to help? They’ll take a report, pat her on the back, and stick it in the file as soon as she leaves.”

“That’s not my problem.”

“Keep your voice down,” Jenny said.

“Be honest, you don’t care about her anymore than anyone else. You’re in this for the story.”

“Did you whine this much as a detective?”

“And you don’t work for a newspaper anymore. You work for a website.”

Jenny rolled her eyes and kept searching Terry’s room. Terry’s Mom was in another room looking for any information that might help them.

She’d been ecstatic when Jenny offered Linus’ help. She’d begun to cry again, “tears of joy” she said. Jenny had told the mother Linus was a private detective, one her newspaper had hired to help her with a story about teenagers who’d grown up in Arlington. The story sounded ludicrous to Linus but Terry’s Mom had bought it.

“There’s no need to pay him as my paper is covering his costs,” Jenny told her.

What was he going to do when he found Terry? Horner wanted Terry dealt with and even though he hadn’t specified what he wanted done, Linus had a pretty good idea. Now the mother wanted his help locating the son Horner had hired him to find. What had he gotten involved with?

Terry’s Mom poked her head into the room. “Thank you for your help. I can’t believe a private investigator would show up at my front door the very moment I needed one. You must be my angel.”

“We haven’t done anything yet,” Linus said.

“You will. I know it.”

He smiled at her unsure of what to say.

“By the way, have you come across his black backpack?” she asked, “It might help. He acted like his whole life was in that thing.”

***

The line for pictures was winding down. Jefferson hoped they’d be able to leave as soon as the last picture was taken, but sometimes the event’s organizers wanted to talk with Tabitha as well.

Tabitha’s success had made Jefferson realize he’d allowed himself to become comfortable. He’d stopped looking for professional challenges. He’d edited her books and helped her write her speeches. Without his help, she wouldn’t be where she was. Jefferson had something to offer, a way to leave his mark on the world. After a few days of thinking through the possibilities, he presented a number of new ideas and initiatives to the church board in Tampa.

“We like things just the way they are. Keep doing what you’re doing.”

“But-”

“Things are going well. There’s no need for any changes.”

He’d shared the ideas with his staff and they’d expressed excitement about the possibilities. Jefferson pushed his agenda at the next board meeting but was again rejected. He’d then pitched his ideas with the chairman of the board over lunch.

“Jefferson, let me be clear about this. The answer is no. Furthermore, the matter ends here. Stop trying to create a controversy. In case you’ve forgotten, we pay your salary.”

A month later, Gil called. “I have a proposal for you. I’ve been looking for the right Executive Director for my family foundation. Penny and I were discussing it and we came up with your name. We think you’d be perfect for the job. I know it’s a departure from what you’re doing now, but I think you’d be able to do a lot of good. What do you think?”

“I’m listening.”

“We want our Foundation to help women and children in third world countries. Because of my good fortune, I’ve been able to fund The Foundation appropriately. Money will not be an issue. As the Executive Director, you’ll have complete freedom to do what you think is best.”

And when Gil mentioned the salary, a significant increase over what he was making at the church, the answer was clear. “I’ll do it.”

***

In addition to Terry’s room, with the Mom’s permission, Linus searched the entire house. He thought he might find something in the attic or in the backyard shed, but there was nothing. Jenny scoured Terry’s computer. She learned he was into weightlifting, girls, and music, but any information as to his whereabouts or his dealing of steroids wasn’t on the computer.

Linus gave Terry’s Mom his card and told her he’d be in touch. “Call me if you think of anything or if Terry happens to contact you.”

“I will.”

Linus wiped the dirt and dust balls from his clothes as they walked across the street. The dust balls fell to the ground, but the dirt smeared across his pants.

“I can’t believe she bought your explanation. A story about recent high school graduates in Arlington. Come on.”

“People believe what they want to believe. She wants to believe in her son and that other people do as well.”

“I guess.”

“I know more than you think,” she said.

He stopped in the middle of the street. “What? What did you find about Terry? What didn’t you tell me?”

“Not about Terry. About you. I know what was said and I know what your bosses have told people, but the people you worked with tell a different story. They can’t believe the Linus Walker they knew went into an interrogation room, beat a confession out of a suspect, and then erased the videotape evidence of that beating.”

“Everybody has their own version of the story.”

“But only two people know what happened in the interrogation room and the other person isn’t talking either. If you didn’t do it, why not say so?”

“There’s nothing to say.”

“Some day you’re gonna want to talk about it.”

“The truth is irrelevant. Like you said, people believe what they want to believe. Everybody creates their own version of reality. Terry’s Mom wants to believe her son is an angel. She doesn’t want to know what he’s involved in or who he really is. As long as he comes home every day, everything is fine with her. If you want to believe something else happened in the interrogation room, then go ahead, but leave me out of it.”

“I don’t understand why’d you let them get away with it. They ruined your life. But if you want me to drop it, to quit pestering you, then stay the word, and I’ll stop.”

Linus turned and looked at her. “No you won’t.”

She shrugged her shoulders and smiled. “It was worth a try.”

They resumed walking back to their cars. “So how do you plan to find Terry?”

Linus turned and looked back at the house. “I have no idea. He’s vanished into thin air and I’m all out of magic pixie dust.”

***

Colin drove the speed limit with both hands on the steering wheel. He stayed off the highways and on the side streets, obeying every traffic law along the way. He passed the Arlington city limits sign and continued driving until he arrived at Camelot, an unfinished subdivision south of Arlington. The streets had been paved, the utility lines run, the water pipes installed, and a half a dozen homes had been built. Each home, at least four thousand square feet in size in accordance with the deed restrictions, was built on one acre of land. Only six houses had been built and the Paris Bank had posted “For Sale” signs in front of each of them. When the real estate market cratered, the developer filed bankruptcy, and the Paris Bank had been stuck with these paved streets and empty homes in Camelot.

Colin parked the Kia in the driveway of the house furthest from the subdivision’s entrance. A bulldozer was parked behind the house, as it had been the last time Colin had been here. One of Colin’s clients, a real estate agent, had insisted on meeting in Camelot.

“Nobody ever comes out here. I’ll bet nobody from the bank has even been here,” the real estate agent laughed, “With all the houses for sale in the area, it’ll be a long time before anybody starts developing this place again.”

He put work gloves on top of the rubber gloves and opened the trunk. Colin grabbed the gas can and filled the bulldozer’s tank. He hotwired the bulldozer, the engine sputtered to life, and he steered it to the middle of the backyard, where he dug an eight-foot deep hole.

Colin left the bulldozer next to the hole and went back to the car. He carried Terry and his backpack and placed them in the hole. He stared at the sheets wrapped in plastic trying to think of something to say, but the words wouldn’t come. He still couldn’t believe Terry was lying there wrapped up and covered in bed sheets and plastic.

After a few minutes, he climbed back into the bulldozer and filled the hole with dirt. When he finished, Colin returned the bulldozer where he’d found it. He drove back to Arlington and stopped at a shopping center, where he put the work gloves and rubber gloves in a trash bag and tossed them in a dumpster. Colin left the Kia in the parking lot and walked home.

He tried not to think about Terry, about the last image of Terry that was stuck in his mind, of the blood pooled on the pillow, the color drained from his skin. As much as he tried to replace the image with another, thinking of better times when they were hanging out, laughing and smiling, he couldn’t get rid of the picture of death in his mind.

The only thing that helped was when Colin focused on how he was going to avenge Terry’s death.

***

I hope you’ve enjoyed this excerpt of my book. To read the rest of the book, you can purchase the e-book for $2.99 (or the paperback for $11.95) at the following:

Amazon
iBooks
B&N Nook
Smashwords

 

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