Authors: Susan Rogers Cooper
Table of Contents
The Milt Kovak Series
THE MAN IN THE GREEN CHEVY
HOUSTON IN THE REARVIEW MIRROR
OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES
CHASING AWAY THE DEVIL
DEAD MOON ON THE RISE
DOCTORS AND LAWYERS AND SUCH
SHOTGUN WEDDING *
RUDE AWAKENING *
HUSBAND AND WIVES *
DARK WATERS *
The E J Pugh Mysteries
ONE, TWO, WHAT DID DADDY DO?
HICKORY DICKORY STALK
HOME AGAIN, HOME AGAIN
THERE WAS A LITTLE GIRL
A CROOKED LITTLE HOUSE
NOT IN MY BACK YARD
DON'T DRINK THE WATER
ROMANCED TO DEATH *
FULL CIRCLE *
DEAD WEIGHT *
*available from Severn House
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First published in Great Britain and the USA 2013 by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
9â15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.
eBook edition first published in 2013 by Severn House Digital
an imprint of Severn House Publishers Limited
Copyright Â© 2013 by Susan Rogers Cooper.
The right of Susan Rogers Cooper to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
Cooper, Susan Rogers.
Dark waters. â (A Milt Kovak mystery)
1. Kovak, Milton (Fictitious character)âFiction.
2. SheriffsâOklahomaâFiction. 3. Offshore sailingâ
Puerto RicoâFiction. 4. MurderâInvestigationâFiction.
5. Detective and mystery stories.
I. Title II. Series
ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8273-8 (cased)
ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-399-0 (epub)
Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.
This eBook produced by
Palimpsest Book Production Limited,
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.
For the newest little love of my life, Josey Tucker Law
I'd like to thank Joan Hess for the many mutual plot sessions over a semi-friendly game of backgammon; my long-time reader and even longer-time daughter, Evin Cooper; my stalwart agent, Vicky Bijur, for her input and support; my editor, Sara Porter, for her advice and counsel, and a special thank you to Jan Grape, long-time reader and friend, who invited me to swim with the dolphins.
he old man was way too drunk â he knew that. He could barely walk. Oops! Actually, he couldn't walk at all. He fell to his knees. There was someone there, helping him. Little someones, with their little hands all over him. Leprechauns, he figured. His grammy's little people. He always believed â at least when he had a few whiskies in him. And he knew he had more than a few in him now. Little hands pushed him down, so he was lying on the floor. OK, this wasn't bad, he thought. At least I can't fall! he told himself and laughed out loud. Hands in his pockets. No, the old man said, maybe out loud. That was the money he'd won! No, no! Don't take my money! he thought, or maybe said out loud, he wasn't sure. He needed that money. It was for his grandson! To get him out of the trouble he was in. The old man tried to sit up, and felt the stabbing pain in his chest, the ache in his left arm, the tightness in his throat, and then he didn't feel anything. Ever again.
magine my surprise when, while at the Rural Sheriffs of Oklahoma (or RSO for short) annual meeting in Oklahoma City, I won the big door prize: a seven-day cruise for four to Puerto Rico on the brand-new Gypsy Cruise Lines' Star Line ship. It was supposedly a smaller ship meant for more intimate travel: it only cruised five hundred, as opposed to the thousands on other cruise ships. Coming from a small town, I feel that five hundred is still a crowd. There were seventy-six people in my high school graduating class; a hundred and ten registered members at the Longbranch First Baptist Church, and eight members of my department. Yep, five hundred souls seemed like a bunch to me.
Now things would have been just fine if I hadn't mentioned my great prize to my wife. She was born and raised in Chicago, went to school at Northwestern University, and got her MD at Johns Hopkins. To her, five hundred people are what you invite for a casual lunch. And then Johnny Mac, my ten-year-old son, overheard us, and the mention that I had won four (and us being only three) tickets, and decided then and there that we could do this at spring break and take his best friend Early Rollins with us.
I harped on the fact that the air fare to Galveston, Texas, from where the cruise ship set sail, wasn't included, but Jean countered that by suggesting a quick day-and-a-half car trip which would be, and I quote, âfun and educational.' She's a shrink. You would think she'd know better.
âHoney,' I said, âI'm thinking that's not a good idea.'
âWhy not?' she demanded.
âWe're talking a ten-hour trip with two ten-year-old boys cooped up the entire timeâ'
âThat's why I suggested a day and a half. We cut the ten hours in half â or better yet, say seven hours the first day, if we get up early. And speaking of Early, he'll spend the night with us the day before we leave so we can get out of here at the crack of dawn, drive until lunchtime â so seven hours â stop at a motel with a swimming pool, let the boys swim off their pent-up energy, then finish the trip the next day with plenty of time to board the ship in Galveston!'
And she smiled. Now my wife is a good-looking woman: almost as tall as me, she's got short reddish-brown hair turning gray a little bit, green eyes, bodacious ta-tas, a killer ass and well-shaped legs, even if they didn't work too well due to childhood polio. She's got a real pretty face, but her smile â I can't do much against one of my wife's smiles. They not only light up her face, or the room â it's like the whole universe smiles back. And they not only make me weak-kneed, but weak-willed to boot. So that's what we did. And it wasn't pretty.
Our crack-of-dawn departure on the Saturday morning of the first day of spring break did not occur. Early, Johnny Mac's best friend since first grade, had wispy blond hair and watery blue eyes and, although he made the same Little League team as Johnny Mac, couldn't throw or hit a ball worth a damn. His one really good point, as far as I could see, was that he seemed to idolize my son. Jean disagreed, saying he was bright, inquisitive and very funny. Hadn't seen that yet. Anyway, he forgot one of his bags, so we had to go into town to his house and pick it up, which Early, Johnny Mac and I did while Jean stayed home and fixed treats for the trip (and we all knew they'd be organic, non-sugar, non-fat and non-fun), then we had to drive back to the house to pick up Jean and her treats, and then we had to go back into town because I forgot to gas up Jean's minivan, which is hard for me to drive because it has multiple hand breaks and stuff on account of Jean's polio when she was a kid. We didn't leave until after ten and I had the pleasure of teaching the boys military time, 'cause adding seven hours to ten o'clock made seventeen hours, and you can't do that on regular time. Meanwhile, Jean sat fuming in the shotgun seat, blaming the whole getting out late thing on me because of the gas. I'm just saying, it wasn't all my fault. She also might have been a little miffed when nobody ate her homemade granola â oatmeal, dried fruit and raw nuts, with nothing to stick it together. It wasn't pleasant. Even the boys wouldn't eat it.
We made it about thirty miles south of Dallas before we decided to find a motel with a pool. We found one around seven that evening that had a coffee shop as well as a pool. It was right outside a town the size of a postage stamp, but right off the freeway. Unfortunately the pool hadn't opened yet for the summer, and the coffee shop had a sewer leakage problem and was closed for the foreseeable future. We got a double room, then got in the car to find someplace to eat.
âWhy don't we find another motel?' Johnny Mac whined. âYou promised us a pool.'
âWell, he didn't exactly promiseâ' Early started, but Johnny Mac cut him off.
âShut up!' my son said.
âYou shut up!' Early said.
I'm pretty sure my son instigated the first blow.
âOK, you two!' Jean said, turning around in her seat to glare at the boys. âKnock it off and I mean now!'
There was one more bout of slapping, then they retired to their respective corners. Turning around, Jean said, âIf you say a word I'll slap you!'
âWouldn't that be lowering yourself to their level?' I said, keeping my eye on the road and the smile off my face.
She hit me anyway, in the thigh, and it wasn't a love pat. âOw!' I said.
Then we spied a Denny's. I pulled in and we had supper. In lieu of swim time, Jean let the boys have whatever they wanted for dessert. It was a God-awful mess and we had two bloated and moaning young'uns on our hands as we headed back to the motel.
At three o'clock in the morning I made Jean get up when Early started puking. He puked so loud that it woke up Johnny Mac, who decided sympathetic puking was in order. At that point I thought it would be just cruel if I didn't get up to help. But feeding them hot fudge sundaes and molten lava cakes hadn't been my idea. I rolled over and stuck Jean's pillow over my exposed ear. I figured she wouldn't be back for a while.
The next morning was no crack-of-dawn experience either. Jean decided both boys needed to sleep it off, which she explained to me in a no-nonsense, I-don't-like-you-much tone with no eye contact, and then demanded I go out and find coffee and fruit. The only thing I could find open in this East Texas burg of maybe twenty-three citizens was the Denny's (and how they deserved a Denny's and Longbranch didn't, I'll never know â OK, they had a freeway and we didn't, but still). I got two large coffees to go, a fruit plate, an extra-large orange juice, two small cereal boxes and a medium milk. I carted all this back to the motel.
The boys were up by then.
âI was sicker than you,' Early was saying as I walked in the door.
âNo, you were just sick first. I was sicker than you!' Johnny Mac insisted.
âI was so sick I puked up dinner!' Early proclaimed.
âI was so sick I puked up green slimy stuff!' Johnny Mac countered.
âI was so sickâ'
I interrupted whatever it was Early was going to say. âGot the fixin's for your ills, boys! Come sit down at the table.'