Read Cold Lake Online

Authors: Jeff Carson

Tags: #Mystery, #Thriller, #Suspense, #Serial Killer, #Crime, #Police Procedural

Cold Lake (5 page)

BOOK: Cold Lake
9.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Pulling forward, he parked in the carport and got out.

He stood and stared at Sarah’s SUV through the fog of his breath, listening to the sounds of the forest to the rear of the house. A symphony of crickets chirped and he heard an owl somewhere in the distance, but there were no patter or squeak of footsteps inside.

The hinges complained as he pushed open the kitchen door and stepped inside, and he thought it was warmer than he was used to. The thermostat had definitely been raised. The kitchen and the entire house beyond were dark. Curtains were drawn in the living room, blocking out the glint of the full moon.

A faint parallelogram of light showed his bedroom door as open, moonlight illuminating the interior.

“Sarah?” He called.

There was no answer.

“Sarah! You there?”

Wolf walked fast to the rear of the house, his pulse quickening with each step. Why wasn’t she answering? Something was wrong.

He pulled the chain to the ceiling fan hanging in his family room as he walked under it, and had to squint at the sudden brightness. When he got to his room he reached around the corner and flipped on the light switch, like he was a cat pouncing to catch his prey.

The light went on and he saw what awaited him.

Sarah sat on his bed, the sheets pulled up to her armpits. She dug her fists into her eyes and bared her teeth. “Ah, turn that off.”

Wolf took a deep breath and stared at her. “What the hell are you doing?”

She made a visor with her hands and looked at him, her expression softening. “I … wanted to see you. To say I’m sorry. Can you please turn that off?”

Wolf flipped the switch and the room went dark again.

The sheets rustled, and then Sarah was in front of him, wrapping her naked body around him, locking her wet lips over his, plunging her soft tongue into his mouth.

She pulled back and pushed him. “Ah! You’re freezing!”

Through the swimming circles of light in Wolf’s vision, he watched her stark naked figure jump back onto the bed, lie down, and pull the sheets over her head.

He smiled, pulled his clothes off and climbed in after her.


Chapter 7

Wolf woke up from a dreamless sleep, and found himself alone in bed. The clock said 7:14 a.m.. He rolled to his side and rubbed his eyes, wondering for a second if he’d imagined the night before, then he caught sight of Sarah’s jeans, t-shirt, sweater and underwear neatly folded on the chair in the corner and he smiled, remembering the night with flashes of pulse-quickening images and sensations.

He got up and pulled on his boxer shorts, then walked toward the noise in the kitchen.

Sarah paced by the opening of the kitchen straight ahead and then poked her head back into view. She was wearing a red and black flannel shirt of his with nothing on underneath.

“I’m making French toast,” she said with a smile.

Wolf walked into the kitchen and pulled her into his arms. After a few moments of kissing she dropped the spatula and they made their way back into the bedroom.

They made love for ten minutes until the smoke alarm squealed because of the smoke billowing off the black flaming square of egg-covered toast in the pan. Wolf ran into the kitchen, dumped it in the sink, ran back to the bedroom and they made love for another ten minutes, with such hunger and passion Wolf found it was impossible to contain the noises coming out of his mouth, and Sarah didn’t seem to have a sound filter working in her brain either. It was like they were animals, making up for lost time, letting out years of pent up tension in a few short, unimaginably hot minutes.



       An hour later Wolf drove down the dirt road to town, his SUV passing through vivid memories of Sarah’s naked body, through the smells of her neck behind her ear, and the sounds of her panting, Wolf not once seeing the road in front of him. Not once registering anything in the outside world.

When he reached the stop sign at highway 734 running into town, with supreme reluctance, like a crack addict saying no to a hit off the pipe, he shifted his thoughts from Sarah to the seven severed heads in plastic bags they’d pulled out of the lake. And then to the Pollards, who had been waiting twenty-two years to learn the fate of their missing son.

He turned down the radio. The engine idling at a soft purr, Wolf looked left and right, considering heading south toward the ski resort and Hal Burton’s house. The man would still be in bed; fully clothed just the way Wolf had left him last night. Angry. Worthless until he’d slept off the booze. Wolf twisted the wheel right and headed into town.

Chapter 8

Private Investigator William Van Wyke was used to pushback, so he sat back in the chair and waited patiently for his chance to parry.

“Whatever you think you’re doing, it won’t work with me.” The slick-dressed man looked at his gold Rolex and stood up from behind his desk. “It’s clear you are blowing smoke up my ass. Now get up, and get the hell out of my office. And let me tell you something else. You listen real, real good. If you want to do contract work for any law firms in Boise any longer, or any other firm in the state of Idaho … scratch that,”—he leaned forward and hissed—“If you want to live—”

William Van Wyke P.I. slapped the manila folder on the mahogany desk and sat back with a frown. “If I want to
? What did you say?”

The City Council Chairman and President shut his mouth, staring at the manila folder. He glanced at Van Wyke and then pulled the folder across the desk.

Van Wyke watched the Chairman’s eyes as he twisted and opened it, and it was even better than Van Wyke had imagined it would be.

“What the …”—the chairman picked up the color photo prints and gaped—“How the hell did you…?” His eyes landed on Van Wyke’s. The color drained from the Chairman’s face. He wiped his forehead and with a crumple of leather collapsed back into his chair.

“Did you see that last one? You’re a swallower. Interesting. Shit doesn’t just spew out of your mouth, it goes the other way, too.” Van Wyke bent over and picked up his shoulder bag and stood.

“What do you want? Are you working for Smith?”

“No.” Van Wyke slung the strap over his head and took a step closer to the desk. His voice dropped and he lowered his chin. “But your opponent in the race for Senate may get a folder exactly like this in his mailbox. Now how’s that going to look? A man like you, with your firm anti-gay message as the backbone of your campaign in the reddest state in the west, found to be sucking cock in a back alley at four in the morning? You piece of shit hypocrite. No, I don’t work for Smith. I work for me. I’ll be in touch with my demands, and I suggest you act swiftly.” He leaned onto the desk and bent closer. “And let me tell you, I’ve operated in a lot seedier alleys than that one where you liaise with your diseased fun-boy, and I know a lot of men who would slit your throat and drop you in the center of Payette Lake in a second if I told them to. Not if I asked, if I
them. Got it?”

The Chairman swallowed and his voice cracked. “How much we talking here?”

Van Wyke slowed to a stop. His plan was to make the man wait, to let the man shake overnight in his oversized bed while his ugly wife slept next to him, text him in the morning while he was at church, pretending to be a good Christian. That would have been perfect, but Van Wyke was also on a tight deadline.


“One? Hundred thousa—”


“What? I … I don’t have—”

“By Thursday.”

“My God. What? I don’t have that kind of cash just lying around. I’d need to sell my house to get that kind of money. I have two children in Ivy League schools. I—”

“Thursday.” Van Wyke turned and walked toward the door.

“Okay, okay. Wait. Wait. I can give you two hundred thousand. I can get that. I can get that Monday. I just can’t do a
. I just can’t.”

“That’s a shame.” Van Wyke turned back to the polished door. “Good luck in the race.”

“Wait, wait.” Boise City Council Chairman Phillip Chatham all but crawled around his desk. “Please. I can get you more. It’s just not going to be now. You have to wait until I’m inside. Then I’ll be slicing the pie. Then I can get more. I can … just don’t.” He held out both hands. “Please. Don’t.”

Van Wyke stood silent and waited for five ticks on the grandfather clock that stood against the wall.

“Two hundred. Monday,” he said. “I’ll contact you from the same number. You’d better answer.”

Van Wyke walked out of the building into a sunny Saturday morning. The air was damp, heavy with moisture sliding in from Washington and Oregon, but not nearly as heavy as his thoughts.

He opened the door to his black Mercedes Benz M-Class SUV and sat on the soft, warm leather.

With an exhale, he pulled out his phone and dialed.


“Hey. It’s me.”


“Van Wyke.”


Van Wyke chittered a nervous laugh and rubbed his eyes.

“What do you want?” The voice was evil sounding today. With every passing day, the man’s voice on the other side of the line had dropped to greater depths of malice.

“I’d like to discuss a proposal.”


“I can get you two-hundred thousand by Tuesday. Then I would like to discuss a future agreement for the remainder, plus interest.”

There was no answer, and then there was a static tick, and then there was a dial tone.

He threw the phone into the floorboards of the passenger seat, his breath wheezing, his throat constricting, his heart hammering out of his shirt. For five minutes he breathed slowly, eyes closed, trying to calm down enough so he could drive home.
If only things had turned out differently
. There were so many instances in his life where he’d dealt with the wrong people, taken the wrong turn, but he’d always found his way back, his way out of trouble. How the hell did he get himself into this? How did he manage to get on the wrong side of such dangerous men in Boise, Idaho? Idaho? There were more animals than people here, damn it. He was the man who dug up the dirt on other people, not shoveled himself under it.

He clenched his teeth. It was that
, with her perfect body, and her perfect face. And her perfect lies. Rage inside him made him shake like a boiling pot.

There were no other opportunities. This City Councilman was his last hope, and now the hope was gone.

He jumped in his seat as someone knocked on the glass next to his head.
. He relaxed when he saw the black man’s face outside his window.

“Hey. What’s up?” Darnell’s voice was muffled.

Regaining his composure, Van Wyke lowered the window.

“Mind if I come in?” Darnell said in that eager tone of voice he used when he had something for Van Wyke.

“I’m not in the mood right now for work. Can’t this wait until Monday?”

Darnell laughed and then looked confused. Van Wyke had always told his apprentice that a P.I. worth the fees he charged worked seven days a week.

“A P.I. worth the fees you charge—”

“Yeah, yeah. Get in.”

Darnell walked around the front of the SUV, and Van Wyke took the opportunity to pick up his phone off the floor mat.

Van Wyke’s protégé got into the passenger seat in a fluid, athletic movement.

At five foot ten and two hundred pounds of pure muscle, the high school dropout from Chicago could have played division two basketball or football had he wanted to, had he continued on with high school and gone to college, but the young man sitting in the passenger seat had not had the same opportunities as Van Wyke growing up.

While Van Wyke grew up playing junior golf, studying, and fishing on the wide Snake River, rowing himself out into the water when he needed to escape from his alcoholic father, Darnell sold crack cocaine on Cabrini Green street corners, dodging bullets daily. His escape: hiding inside the Lincoln Park High School library.

Van Wyke had been born into opportunity, and Darnell had made his own, starting with finally getting “out”. “Out” being Boise, Idaho, because it had been
the whitest place he could think of
to start over when his mother had died of cancer. Darnell had never known his father.

Coming to Idaho, Darnell had found it difficult to find a job. He was black, and everyone else was not. He was alone, and everyone else had families. He was homeless, and everyone else had warm homes to go to. But somehow he’d managed to defy astronomical odds by talking his way into becoming a caddy at the Sandy Ranch Resort in Coeur d’Alene. Apparently when he’d gotten the idea he wanted to make big bucks at the golf course, he’d sat himself in the Boise Library for days on end, watching YouTube videos on the public computers and reading books, and then created a history for himself as an accomplished golfer and caddy.

The first golfer Darnell ever caddied for had been William Van Wyke, who had been on a three-day outing with a junior partner in a law firm he did investigative work for.

Van Wyke had smoked Darnell out as a fraud on the first hole, but he’d been intrigued more than angry, and by the end of the trip, and four rounds of golf later, he knew Darnell’s entire story, and found he had connected with the troubled, extremely determined young man.

“I could use an assistant like you,” he’d told Darnell back then. So Darnell came south with Van Wyke, and that was the beginning of his now three-year-long apprenticeship to become a qualified private investigator offering services to some of the most prestigious law firms in Boise, Washington, Oregon, and Montana.

“Everything cool?” Darnell asked.

“Yeah.” All that opportunity, and Van Wyke had pissed it away. He looked away from Darnell, hoping the sudden envy of his apprentice was invisible.

“The Chatham thing work out?”

“Yeah. Your pics were … persuasive.”

“But? He doesn’t have the cash.”

Van Wyke exhaled and leaned his head back. “You’re a smart man.”

“Well, I’ve got something very interesting for you to check out.”

Van Wyke remained unmoved, physically or mentally, leaning back on his headrest with closed eyes. He heard Darnell unzip his bag and the brush of him pulling out his laptop, and then a tiny beep as it powered on.

“Shit … you have to move closer to the building. No Wi-Fi signal here.”

Van Wyke shook his head. “Hey, listen. I can’t check out YouTube videos right now with you. I’ve got a lot of stuff to figure out.”

Darnell stared at him in silence until Van Wyke turned to meet his gaze.

Darnell’s brown eyes were dead serious. “You need to see
YouTube video.”

Van Wyke did as he was told, driving over and parking near the entrance to the building.

Council Chairman Chatham was walking out of the building, and flinched at the sight of them in the Mercedes, then he narrowed his eyes and shuffled off.

“He don’t look happy.” Darnell chuckled and clicked open a browser window.

After a quick Google search a news website called Channel 8 Rocky Mountain Action News materialized and Darnell clicked a button.

“What’s this?”

Darnell looked at him. “I remember a story you told me once about a guy who you helped liquidate all his assets in one day. Do you remember that?”

Van Wyke frowned at looked at him. “Yes?”

“And then you said he burned his house down and skipped town before paying you?”

“No. His house
the payment. He signed the deed over to me and then burned it down, and then skipped town. Get to the point.” Van Wyke’s eyes narrowed to slits.

“Here you go.” Darnell pecked the laptop and twisted the screen towards him.

“…here at Cold Lake, twenty-seven miles northwest of Rocky Points, Colorado, where Sluice County law enforcement and rescue team divers have been working through the afternoon yesterday, and then all through the night, and now are resuming their work this morning, searching the bottom of the lake for what we are being told are multiple dead bodies. Now, I’d like to stress to our viewers now that I will be describing in detail the condition of these bodies, which may not be suitable for children viewers…”

Van Wyke’s curiosity was piqued. His pulse began to race.

“…severed heads, and torsos that have been sliced open. According to our sources, the eyes of the heads have been removed. All in all, a grim find by a local fisherman, and, the question is now, could this be the break local law enforcement has needed to crack a cold-case that has stumped everyone for decades?”

The camera panned out revealing a tall man with a hunter-orange hat standing next to the reporter. “I have with me here the man who was fishing and actually snagged one of the severed heads with his fishing hook, and then brought it back into his boat. Mr. Oliver Chevalier. Sir, can you—” 

Darnell clicked the button to stop the video and looked at Van Wyke.

Van Wyke was staring out the window in deep thought. “Kipling. My God, you found him.” He felt energized, and then he snapped his head toward Darnell. “Has the Boise Sheriff’s Department gotten hold of this?”

Darnell shrugged. “I don’t know. How’m I supposed to check without tipping them off? They would swarm down there.”

Van Wyke rubbed his face, unblinking, and then after a full minute looked over at Darnell. “How quick can we get to Colorado?”



Darnell shook his head. “Sh …” He went to an internet map and plotted out the course. “Boise … to … Rocky Points, Colorado … Eleven hours, nineteen minutes, according to this.”

BOOK: Cold Lake
9.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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