Authors: Gale Borger
Tags: #criminals, #Gardening, #gangbangers, #prostitutes, #echelon press, #posse, #garden hoe, #police, #murder, #undercover, #half-way house, #quake, #juvenile delinquents, #juveniles, #teens, #friends, #gardens, #gardener, #greenhouse
An Olive Branch Mystery
Digging Up Dirt
Digging Up Dirt
An Olive Branch Mystery #2
An Echelon Electric Short eBook
First Echelon Press Publication / April 2011
All rights Reserved.
Copyright © 2011 by Gale Borger
Cover Art © Karen L. Syed
9055 G Thamesmeade Road
Laurel, MD 20723
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information address Echelon Press LLC.
Published by Echelon Press LLC.
Looking in the mirror in her room at The Olive Branch Garden Center, Spaz combed her hair. The bottle of hair dye rested on the sink. "The bastard likes blondes so we'll give him a blonde," she said to her reflection. She'd already bleached her hair white. The blonde color would now look even and natural. Better than the black/purple/pink of her normal look.
Someone banged on her door. Squeezing her eyes shut, she leaned on the sink. "Leave me alone!"
"You're going to miss supper."
She covered her eyes with her hand. "Go away, Bean, I'm not hungry."
"They're waiting for you. Come on down, Spaz."
"Get lost, Peckerwood. I'm busy!"
"Fine. Be that way." She took the sound of footsteps pounding down the stairs as a good sign. She sighed.
"Damn Bean, always sticking his nose in." She made a face in the mirror and in a singsong, nasally voice said, "Spaaaz come eat! Spaaaz, where ya goin'? Spaaaz, do this. Spaaaz, let me go with. Spaaaz, do that. Spaaaz, be my friend. Ahhhh! He makes me
She didn't consider Bean total pond scum, but it wasn't as if this was high school and he wanted to go to steady either. Hell, he was a kid and she'd been used up, a freak. Life had forced her to grow up at the age of twelve. "Yup, old Crack Ho Momma saw to that, didn't she, Freak?" Spaz slid the plastic gloves over her hands. She picked up the comb and parted her hair.
Spaz and Bean were the same age but light years apart. He wanted to be friends. She was just trying to survive. She threw the comb in the sink. She felt dirty. She didn't want friends. She stared into the mirror. "I don't want friends. I don't want friends. I don't want friends."
Hot tears burned her eyes.
I do want friends!
She slapped her hands on the edge of the sink. She squeezed her eyes shut. The words of her mother pounded in her head.
Near panic, she tried to remember Dr. Browning's words.
Think positive thoughts. Breathe, two, three, four. It's not working! Breath, two, three
oh no, she's comin!
The mirror wavered and she saw her mother, belt in hand. She heard herself as a child, begging then screaming. She could feel the leather slash her skin. The smell of booze on her mother's breath made her want to gag. She could smell the crack burning in the next room and the B.O. of the man her mother left there.
"Ugly. Scumbag. Whore! Who was that girl? A friend? You don't want friends!" Slash went the belt. "You don't want friends!" Slash, again the belt. "You will not bring anyone to this house. You're worthless trash. They don't like you. They're just scum. They just want to see where the freak lives. You think you're some kind of princess?" Slash went the belt. "Ain't nobody gonna rescue you, Cinderella. You don't need friends. I got news for you--no more school either. You know all you'll ever need to know about lying on your back. Whore, get back to work, and dry those tears or I'll strip the meat off your bones!"
The pounding on the door startled her. She'd huddled in a corner with her arms covering her head. Her breath came in hard, ragged gasps. Tears poured down her cheeks. Near panic, she stood and splashed water on her face. The pounding persisted. She screamed, "Leave me alone!"
How did I end up in the corner?
Panic threatened to overwhelm. She reached up, turned off the water, and looked wildly around the room. Her gaze froze and she looked at the object in her hand.
Where did that come from?
Slowly Spaz raised her right hand. The harsh light over the bathroom sink glinted off the razor blade she held in her hand.
Ahhh, my friend.
She stared at it and began to calm. Her breathing slowed. She smiled, a sly smile. She promised Dr Browning she wouldn't cut any more. She promised to call during a crisis. She lifted the blade and ran her tongue slowly along the side
. Someone Help me! Please stop me…
The blade moved to her thigh. She watched as it lay there. "Hide it. No one will know,"
whispered an evil voice
She pressed the end into her flesh.
Just this once.
The sharp sting of her skin breaking open made her jump. The shallow cut welled with blood.
Pain. Blessed pain
. The panic began to fade as the blood flowed out of Spaz. She made another shallow cut.
Control. I'm in control again
No more belt, no more Momma
. One more cut.
I can do this. For Amy I can do this.
Spaz grabbed toilet paper and pressed it to the shallow cuts.
Feel the sting.
She closed her eyes and slowed her breathing. Focus. Breathe….breathe…
A sense of calm rolled over Spaz. She sat in the corner and stared at the blood seeping through the toilet paper. She must have cut deeper than she thought.
As the blood leaves my body, so does the pain.
Spaz took a deep breath and let it out, it left her hollow. Numb. Time to get on with it. She stood and went back to the sink. She dropped the razor blade into the garbage. She picked up the hair dye. She still had the plastic gloves on. She ducked her head. She poured the dye over her hair. Next came the plastic hat. Her neck itched. Time passed slowly. After twenty minutes, she ripped it off her head.
After a quick rinse and a blow dry, she looked in the mirror. The effect was stunning. The soft gold color made her blue eyes stand out. She tried the new light makeup she'd bought yesterday. She looked young! She looked different. She looked…almost pretty.
"Good. This just might work, Spaz."
Digging through the box under the sink, she found a large Band Aid and slapped it over the razor wounds.
She went to her small table and looked at her notes. "Hunnicut. Let's see what's up with you, ya murdering bastard."
Spaz now had a name. Hunnicut. Yesterday, Spaz sold herself to Amy's pimp. Her bargain with slime ball Woody wouldn't come to anything. She never planned on holding up her end of the deal. She figured she'd be dead by the time Woody came looking for her. But she knew his name.
. Franklin B. Hunnicut IV. The IV stood for
time someone was saddled with such a stupid name. Who did they think they were? King of the World or something?
It must be him. Woody told her he'd let Amy go fool around with the "Old Man." Hunnicut. Amy made big bucks. She worked for Hunnicut in Milwaukee and Woody would take a cut of what she made. When the old man went out of town, she would come back here and work for Woody. She'd called Woody last Saturday. Amy told him she wouldn't be down. She said something had come up. She was staying in Milwaukee for the weekend. Woody said Amy sounded funny. He'd asked her the same questions three or four times. He thought maybe she was juiced or high. After that call, nothing.
Hunnicut liked blondes. Young blondes. If Hunnicut's man came back to Woody, Woody would turn him on to Spaz. The word was on the streets. It was only a matter of time. She hoped she could figure out how Amy got herself killed. Then she would kill Hunnicut. She'd kill him for Amy. Bean and Pone would freak if they knew. Dr. Browning would lock her up in a psych ward. She'd get her probation revoked and go to prison. She might end up dead in an alley.
So what? Who will care? I sure as hell don't.
She looked in the mirror. A fresh-faced blonde-haired, blue-eyed fifteen–year–old stared back at her. "You are now Kelli. Kelli Ann Riley."
Spaz stuffed her bag with things she'd need. Mini skirt, tank tops, underwear, make-up, hair stuff, toothbrush. She grabbed a Harley do-rag and wrapped it around her new hair. She'd never hear the end of it if Pone, Bean, Cash, or Shroom got a load of her hair. They'd know she was up to something. You can't live with four guys and not know something's up.
"Business as usual." One last look in the mirror and Spaz was ready.
She picked up her backpack and slipped out the back door.
Se trotted to the greenhouse where Ollie stood potting flowers. She wrinkled her nose. Marigolds, eh?"
Ollie smiled. "Yup. We'll need about a thousand or so between the city and our customers this year. Come on over and dig in!"
Spaz stashed her backpack and picked up a tray.
"Man, what do you think was up with Spaz?" Bean tore at the weeds poking up between the neat rows of vegetables.
Shroom grinned. "Don't know,
. Maybe she got a good look at your face." He wiped his nose and shoved the spade into the earth. "Hey, White Boy, bring me some of that rotten crap so I can mix it up over here."
Cash looked up from his place at the compost pile. "This ain't rotten crap. It's compost. You make it on purpose to make the soil better."
Bean looked up from what they called "The Garden of Weeden." He walked over to the compost pile and helped Cash fill the wheelbarrow.
"Yeah, Shroom. Compost is made up of veggies, eggshells, coffee grounds-anything but animal, fats, oils, or dairy. Then you mix it in a pile with leaves, grass clippings, straw, twigs, and weeds–anything brown or green. You water the pile and turn it over and over so air gets in. The pile heats up. Everything breaks down. The heat kills the weed seeds. Ya keep the pile damp and keep turning it. When it's done cooking, it looks like this and doesn't smell."
Shroom tossed a shovel of dirt to the side. "Yeah, whatever, Mr. Science. Quit showing off and bring me more rotten crap."
Bean sighed. "I can't win."
Cash laughed. "You never will with him. You don't come from his world. He sees you as the enemy."
"We're doing community service together. We've lived in the same house for over two months now."
Cash tossed a scoop of compost into the wheelbarrow. "It doesn't matter. Shroom is mad we are investigating that dead chick we found in the alley. He thinks we should stay away from it. He doesn't trust anyone. Not the cops. Not even us."
Shroom stood and leaned his arms on his shovel. "That's right, White Boy." He swiped his shirt over his sweaty face. "You and Einstein over there are gonna get yourselves thrown back in jail, man. You be messin' with the wrong crowd. Those rich white cats up there are gonna have you punks for breakfast–and for what? To try to pin the murder of a street ho on one of 'em? They'll get some fancy lawyer and you'll rot in jail."
Bean looked at Cash. "Well, put that way, it does sound pretty stupid."
Pone walked around the corner of the Olive Branch work truck. He read from a piece of paper. "The way I got it figured, the rich guy will never see us coming. We can pose as lawn care guys and see how much snooping we can do. Hunnicut will never know we're there."
"Wait just a minute!" Shroom stomped up to the other three. He shoved an index finger in Cash's face. "You're going to make
look like a lawn care guy? Hah! You might as well dress me up like a prom queen! I think my tattoos will be a nice touch."
Pone and Bean looked Cash up and down. Shroom smirked and backed up.
Pone plucked at Cash's polo shirt. "The shirt's gotta go."
Bean nodded. "The hair. Get rid of the Ken doll hair. Maybe if he grew some scruff."
Pone pointed to his head. "Got to lose those $800.00 sunglasses."
Shroom stepped forward. "Hand 'em over. I'll take them off your hands."
Cash snatched the sunglasses off his head. "No way, man. You aren't even on this team. You're too scared of the cops to help,
Shroom tilted his head and gave them a sly smile. "However, I
be bought. For a pair of those Trons, I could make a pretty convincing lawn guy. Just think. Being Mexican, I can go places you white boys couldn't even think of going."
Pone sneered. "Yeah,
us white boys
. Cut the crap, Shroom."
Shroom laughed aloud. "Sorry, Pone. But sometimes you be more like them white boys than my nigga."
Bean grinned widely. "Or it could be I'm just more like a
than a white boy!"
The other three looked at Bean and laughed. "No way, man!"
The four of them discussed how to make Cash look like a lawn guy. First, they took away his docksiders.
Shroom commented, "You don't need no fancy boating shoes to cut lawn, man." He gave him a pair of Chucks. Bean loaned him a pair of cargo shorts and Pone gave him a beat up Brewers ball cap. They mussed up his hair and told him not to shave for a week.
Shroom stood back and admired their work. "Well, he won't pass on close inspection. He looks like one-o-them cops gone undercover on a drug sting. You know, they grow a scruff beard, but they wear their shiny black shoes. They think they look too cool in their Hawaiian shirts, but they don't get it that they're the only ones wearing them!"
They all laughed until they hurt. Pone said, "We'll just keep Cash away from people. He can check out the sheds and greenhouses. He'll look like a college kid with a summer job."
Shroom looked Cash up and down. "I don't know…he looks like he never had a job. He looks like he gets his nails done. He looks like his hair–"
"Get my nails done."
"I said I do."
"Get my nai–"
"Knock it off you two! Geez, we'll never get anything done until you two kiss and make up."
Shroom huffed. "My ass, maybe."
Cash rolled his eyes. "Don't be a girlie mouth. Shake my hand like a man, Shroom. Let's bury the hatchet, but hopefully not in my head."
Shroom grabbed his hand and grumbled. "Okay man, but I still want those Trons."
Cash pulled the sunglasses out of his pocket and flipped them to Shroom. "They're on loan. Don't wreck 'em."
Shroom caught the Trons with both hands and stared at them in awe. "Damn."
Bean scratched his head. "Damn!"
Shroom slid them on his nose and slapped Bean on the shoulder. "For once we agree Einstein.
Pone joined the three and held out a fist. "Okay. Are we all together in this?"
Cash, Shroom, and Bean all put their fists in so they touched. Pone looked at them, one at a time. "Bean?"
"You know I am."
Silence. They all looked at him.
Shroom slowly removed the sunglasses and looked at each of them.
Pone nudged his fist. "Shroom?"
Shroom looked at Cash, and then at the Trons. "I love you, man!"