[If you have not already done so, you must
read the Introduction
001 002 Prologue 001-002 003 004 005 Chap 1 003-005
Chap 2 006 007 008 Chap 3 007-008 009 010 Chap 4 009-010 011 012 013 Chap 5 011-013 014 015 016 017
Chap 6 014-017 018 019 Chap 7 018-019 020 021 022 023 Chap 8 020-023 024 025 026 027 Chapter 9 024-027 028 029 030 031 Chapter 10 028-031 032 033 034 035 036 037 038 039 040 041 Chapter 11 032-041
Revenge Should Have No Bounds 042
Chapter 12 (1 of 7): The Detective
She was floating somewhere in the borderland between sleep and wakefulness when the phone rang. She turned over and looked at the red number on the clock radio. 7:30. She had asked for a wakeup call at 8:15 and felt irritation at the loss of the last forty-five minutes of rest. She’d never get back to sleep at this point.
Tossing aside the heavy bolster tangled around her legs, she sat upright on the edge of the bed without robbing Samuel of his share of blanket and cradled the handle against her ear.
“Yes?” Not pleasant, not rude.
“Phoebe! Glad I caught you.” Mollifying and light.
“Tanya, what’s up? Isn’t it a bit early to be so cheerful?” Monday morning, not yet eight, and Tanya was already at it. Phoebe did not know anybody who was so demonstrably enthusiastic about her job as Tanya, who had been with her going on a decade now.
She lashed the extension cord a few times to free it from the kinks it had acquired and walked over the window. She pulled the curtain and narrowed her eyes against the intense brightness. “I see it’s snowed a mess since last night.”
“Yes, it started here about an hour ago and it looks like it’s going to pile up.” Tanya was calling from the Detective Bureau. Her responsibility was to coördinate the case by case field work for the city detectives, a job for which her organized mind suited her perfectly.
“Looks like we already got about a foot here,” Phoebe said, looking out on the wintry landscape beneath the window. “But you didn’t call to talk about the weather, did you?”
“On point as usual.” She hesitated. “We got a call from the County Sheriff’s Office a few minutes ago. They’ve got a body out in the boonies, and they’re not equipped to handle this kind of thing. The boss thought you should catch this one. You’re not that far from the scene.”
Phoebe Light knew Bud Eaton, the Swaithe County sheriff, and had worked with him once before about five years ago. “No, they’re really not. Fortunately, the sheriff down there is smart enough to know when he needs help, something I can’t say for every other sheriff in the state.”
In her mind she was already reviewing what needed to be done. “What’s the story?”
“It seems a hunter stumbled … and I do mean stumbled … over a body in a ditch by the road. He had a cellular and called it in right away. Have you got a map with you there?”
“It’s in the car. But I know the area reasonably well. Here, let me get my pad and pencil.” She went back and sat on the bed, grabbed a paper block on the nightstand and clicked out a stub of lead from her pencil. She laid the notepad across her knee. Shoot!”
“It’s near Dust. Just go straight south from Woulfton on 933 down to the Pellman turnoff. No need to stop at their office. The sheriff department is already at the scene, in force, and a tech unit is on its way from here. You continue west on 612 till you get to 519; go south till you hit Dust, and hang a left on 630 for about a mile or so. Where it turns south again, continue straight onto county 67; it angles off to the left. The body is about eight miles in.”
As she talked she drew a rough map and made some notations. She repeated Tanya’s directions back to her. “That’s right,” Tanya confirmed.
“Tanya,” she said, “have you got Eaton’s cell number?”
“Coming up,” her efficient secretary answered. Phoebe heard the rustling of paper, and copied down the number Tanya came back with. “Is the hunter still on the scene?”
“Last I heard, yes. Apparently he was pretty flustered.”
“Give Eaton a call and ask him to have the hunter hang around if at all possible. It’s going to take me a half hour to get ready here, and probably close to an hour down there. Tell Eaton I should be there by maybe nine.”
“Will do. Anything else?”
“The usual, Tanya. Make sure Eaton and the others don’t touch anything till the tech people arrive. And ask them to wait until I get there. For now, the only thing I want the sheriff’s people to do is rope off the area with a good fifteen feet border on all sides around the body.” She thought for a moment? “Do we know if anybody has touched the body?”
“The hunter did. But only to get the snow off it. I don’t think he moved it.”
“That’s good. Thanks for small favors.”
There was a moment’s lull on the whispering line.
“One other thing, Tanya.”
“Be sure you don’t come on strong. This is technically a county beef, and we don’t want to look like we’re walking in and taking over. I mean, we are, and they invited us. But let’s be polite guests.”
“Got it,” Tanya responded, silently admiring Phoebe for her sense of fair play and typical attention to the importance of turf and personalities at a time like this.
Phoebe Light had come up the old-fashioned way: she hadn’t slept around for it, and the government hadn’t mandated it.
TO BE CONTINUED