Read Cold Lake Online

Authors: Jeff Carson

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

Cold Lake (9 page)

BOOK: Cold Lake
7.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“Okay.” Wolf nodded. “Were you concerned for your safety when my father came asking about Nick Pollard that next day? On the evening of the fifth?”

“Yes,” she said without hesitation. “Because my father had a bag of bloody clothes lying next to the house. I saw it the next day. Then I thought about how my father was yelling all those things the night before, and … I put two and two together.”

“So you saw the bag of bloody clothes, too?”

Kimber nodded.

Wolf frowned. “So, he left it outside all night? The bag?”

She frowned for an instant and then nodded. “Yes. It was up against the house. It was there the whole time your father and the other deputy were talking to us, actually.”

“Why didn’t you tell my father about the bag? About your suspicions?”

“I hadn’t seen what was in the bag yet. I checked it later. After your father left.”

Wolf leaned back and took a breath. “My father came the next evening. The evening of the fifth. So you saw the bag of clothes the next evening.”

She shook her head impatiently. “I don’t see what—”

“You said you saw the bag of clothes on the next day. Now you’re saying you actually saw it the next evening.”

She snorted a laugh. “I saw it the next day, then I looked in it the next evening.”

things exactly?” Wolf asked, changing tack. “Do you remember what made you think he’d done it?”

She narrowed and widened her eyes a few times and then looked at Wolf. “I don’t know. The whore thing. He kept telling me I was a whore. Like I had been going out on the town and screwing every guy or something.” She looked at Wolf. “Which I hadn’t been, by the way. Then all of a sudden the guy I went on a couple of dates with goes missing? And then the clothing with blood on it?”

Wolf nodded and sipped his coffee. “Do you have those bloody clothes?”

She snorted again. “No. Like we told your father, my dad left with those clothes. Your father never found any blood traces of Nick’s. You guys scoured the place.” She looked into her cup. “What? Are you testing me or something?”

Wolf sipped his coffee. “Like I said, I haven’t watched your interview yet. Do you know who called your father that night? At the marina?”

“No. They say it was a woman. I still don’t know who it could have been.”

“It was the number to a gas station down the valley, right at the junction of highway 734,” Wolf said. “That didn’t ring any bells with you back then?”

She shook her head.

“And it still doesn’t after all these years?”

She shook her head.

“And did you or your mother suspect he was seeing someone else? Cheating on her?”

She frowned and then shook her head.

Wolf stood up and walked to the kitchen doorway. So far he’d seen the entryway to the house, which was a cramped T-Junction that went left and right. They’d gone left into the kitchen.

“Could I see this
I keep hearing about?”

She shrugged and stood up. “Yeah, sure. It’s not the same, though. I’ve made sure of that.”

She led the way through the kitchen doorway, past the front door and into the living room, which was a good-sized rectangular space with creaky wood floors and a bay window. A wood-fired stove stood against the interior wall on a brick hearth, which extended in a semicircle a few feet in front of it. The stack of wood on the hearth was reduced to slivers.

Wolf bent down and ran his hand over a logo on one of the bricks.
Tracer Building Supplies

“What?” Kimber asked.

Wolf stood up. “Who made this hearth?”

“The bricks?” She frowned.


“I don’t know. It was here when my father bought the place. Must have been Mr. Heeter.”

“Mr. Heeter?” Wolf asked.

She pointed out the window toward a house on the hill a quarter mile in the distance to the north. A two-story structure with a deck off the back, the house was higher than the Grey’s cabin, and clearly visible above the tops of the pines now that the weather was clearing.

“Mr. Heeter. My parents bought the place from him.”

Wolf nodded and looked past her into the hallway. “The room?”

She turned and flipped a light switch and a coverless light bulb lit up the corridor. There were three doors, one on the near left and two on either side of the hallway at the end.

She stopped at the first door. “This was it.”

With a twist of the knob, she pushed the door open. It creaked on its hinges and cool, stagnant air that smelled like fabric softener hit Wolf’s nostrils. An uncovered square window straight ahead showed dense pine trees outside, illuminating the space in soft natural light. There was a crisply made twin bed against the left wall, a dresser, a nightstand, and a closet in the corner.

Wolf looked down at the exterior of the door and ran a hand over the jamb.

“I removed the lock. Removed the bars on the window,” she said, following his eyes.

“May I?” Wolf asked, stepping into the room.

She nodded. “Be my guest.”

The boards underneath him sagged, squeaking with every step as he entered the room and walked to the picture window. Looking out the glass, he noted the grooves cut into the wood on the outside frame—three on each side and two on top and bottom.

“That’s where the bars were. My dad cut those grooves and put rebar in there. I cut them out when he left.”

Wolf shifted his gaze to the woods beyond. There were hundreds of old-growth trees butting up against the back yard of the property, the darkness within deepening with each passing minute. Wolf pressed his right cheek against the window, catching a glimpse of the lake through the trees off to the left.

Wolf flinched and turned around when a series of digital
sounds came from the living room, like a noise when a car door is left ajar only much louder.

Kimber glanced quickly toward the noise and then seemed to dismiss it.

“What was that?” Wolf asked. “Is someone at the door?”

Kimber shook her head. “No,” she said after a moment hesitation.

He gave her a quizzical look. “What was that?”

She exhaled and walked out into the living room again, pulling a phone out of her pocket. A few seconds of intensely focusing on the screen and then she tapped and pocketed it.

“I have an array of motion sense activated cameras and perimeter alarms set up around the property.” She pointed up at a tiny speaker mounted in the corner. “When they’re tripped, they trip the alarm, and I hear it.”

Wolf walked to the window and looked outside. “So did you know I was coming?”

“No. Well, yes. I’ve set it up to notify my phone, and I knew that someone had driven in, but I didn’t know it was you.”

“And the camera on the tree? That’s yours?”

She nodded.

“Can you watch who comes in and out?”

“I have to get on my computer and check footage. If I want to sit and stare at a live feed, then yeah, I guess I could monitor it. But that’s definitely not my style. I would guess that was Mr. Heeter leaving. Or a deer. Or a bear.” She shrugged. “Who knows?”

Wolf looked at her. “So a motion sensor being tripped out in the woods, or a person leaving on the road is the same sound?”

She nodded. “Yep. Not exactly top-of-the-line, but good enough for the job.”

“And what exactly is the job your system is performing?”

“I’d like some more coffee.” She disappeared back into the kitchen.

Wolf stepped to the window and looked out. He looked down at his truck, noting the beads of water had almost dried on the paint. He looked into the surrounding forest. Despite the lifting clouds it was dark and getting darker and he saw little past fifty yards into the trees. The west windows of Mr. Heeter’s structure were glowing pink now, reflecting the sunset. Wolf continued into the kitchen.

Kimber was stirring sugar into her cup and standing by the sink.

“So … tell me about it.” Wolf said, leaning against the counter. “Why all this security?”

“My father left us on the sixth. The day after your father came to talk to us about Nick. My dad knew the cops were onto him. He knew my mother and I knew about him. About what he’d done. And then, a couple days later my mother up and left. I’d heard him threaten my mother numerous times.
If you two leave me, I’ll hunt you down
, stuff like that.” Kimber shook her head and stared into her swirling coffee. Her voice dropped to a whisper. “She left a note. And she just left.”

The file on Wolf’s passenger seat contained a copy of the note. “What did the note say?”

The turning coffee in her hand hypnotized Kimber. “It said she was going into town, and she’d be right back. Into Rocky Points. Then she, just never came home.”

“She took her truck? You were stranded up here?”

Kimber’s eyes swam with tears, glittering in the vague light of the kitchen. “She called me the next day from some payphone from somewhere. She said she was going back home. Back to Tennessee. She apologized, and said she had to follow her heart and
go back home
. She left the truck down in Rocky Points, in the grocery store parking lot with the keys in it. I had Mr. Heeter take me down.”

Though he knew the incredulous story already, he felt a mild shock as he watched her speak about it. Surprised by the surge of sympathy washing through him, he turned to look out the window as she clenched her eyes tight.

Quickly she wiped her eyes and smiled defiantly. “Sorry. Old habit. Playing the victim.”

She walked to the wall and flipped on the light switch, and the kitchen filled with yellow light, washing out the majestic views outside with hard interior reflections.

“I have to say, I don’t blame you for being upset. Your parents both abandoned you. But, that doesn’t explain the security measures. What? You think your father took your mother? Is that why you’ve rigged the place like an Army base?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe my father came back, and then made my mother write the note. Then took her or something. And then there’s always been Mr. Heeter. Not exactly the most normal of men.”

Wolf leaned against the counter. “You think Mr. Heeter is dangerous?”

“No,” she said with a chuckle. “He’s sweet. But maybe creepy? Like a dirty old man? I mean, I live below him, and he lives up the hill. He has a big telescope, and who knows where he’s pointing that thing at all times. He’s always been socially awkward, too, and now that his wife is dead he’s worse. His wife was definitely his better half. He’s a Vietnam vet, and I think whatever happened to him over there screwed with him. Dangerous? I don’t think so.”

She scrubbed the coffee cup under the running water and put it on a drying rack.

“And what about your father?” Wolf asked. “You think he’s coming back for you?”

She shrugged. “Your father and his department looked into my mother going home. They never found her. Your father figured she hitchhiked out of town, because buses didn’t run back then from Rocky Points to Vail, which was the nearest place you can pick up a bus. The bus company didn’t remember her, either. No credit card receipts. Our family always used cash.

“Your father said he notified law enforcement from here to Tennessee. No one reported seeing her. I have no clue where she called
in Tennessee.

“After all that investigation into my mother and father and not getting anywhere, believe it or not, it was
father’s idea all those years ago to put motion sensors out there. He came out and helped me rig up the system. I’ve updated it a bit here and there over the years, adding the Wi-Fi camera on the road and stuff. But basically, it’s all your dad’s fault I live like I’m on an Army base.” She smiled wide and sniffed.

Wolf returned her smile, feeling unexpected pride in his father.

“So you’ve been living here by yourself since you were seventeen? For the last twenty-two years?”

She nodded with her chin up.

Wolf blinked a few times. “And how have you kept the place up? How are you making a living?”

“Don’t worry, Sheriff. I pay my taxes like the next person.”

Wolf shook his head. “No, I mean it must be tough. You hunt for food? Fish?”

“Yeah, I do that. But I have money. My father came into money back in Tennessee. An inheritance. That was the reason we came out here and how we could afford this place. But when they left, my father and then my mother, they never touched the money. They just left it here for me.”

Wolf stared at her. There was a muffled caw of a crow outside. He looked out the window, focusing through the reflections. There was a soft orange in the west, but over the lake the sky was completely black.

“They just left it right here … in a safe?”

She shook her head with a hint of a smile. “No.”

Wolf held up his hands. “All right. Just curious. And you haven’t had
contact with your father since that day he left?”

BOOK: Cold Lake
7.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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