Authors: John C. Dalglish
Tags: #Christian Books & Bibles, #Literature & Fiction, #Mystery & Suspense, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Cozy, #Religion & Spirituality, #Christian Fiction
“We will, and thank you for your time. We’ll let ourselves out.”
Sam Barker flipped the TV back on as the detectives left.
The Hunter waited until nearly four in the morning before taking up position in the shoot location. The target came out every Saturday morning to go to choir practice. After getting comfortable, The Hunter settled in to wait; like a tiger hiding in the
tall grass, the prey would come to The Hunter.
Vanessa had wanted to go directly out to the archery club Friday evening, but Jason suggested waiting until Saturday morning. He thought going out early and talking to the manager first might get them some information before the members became aware of police interest. Vanessa had reluctantly agreed.
seven-thirty in the morning, Jason picked up Vanessa, and they were on the way to Canyon Lake Archery Club.
Vanessa had found the address and the hours of operation
on the club’s website. It opened at eight on Saturday mornings. John Chaney was listed as the club’s owner and president.
New Braunfels, a small city northeast of San Antonio, they circled it and picked up River Road North. A few miles and they were in the foothills of Canyon Lake.
Coming around a sharp curve, a dirt
road led off to the west. Above the road hung a steel sign, swaying in the wind. Vanessa read the sign as they pulled under it.
“Canyon Lake Archery Club. I guess this is the place.”
“Well done, Detective Layne.”
She took a backhanded swing at him
, which he avoided by pinning himself against the side window.
It was just after eight and the gates were already open. They followed the dirt driveway back nearly a mile, Texas scrub pushing in close on both sides, until the road came around a bend to reveal a large
At the far end, large
bulls-eye targets were lined up across the front of a hill. The targets were pinned to hay bales, and the hill rose nearly fifty feet straight up behind them.
At the near end of the field, close to the road, lean-to shelters provided protection against the Texas sun for the shooters.
One person was firing arrows this morning, and without much success from what Jason could tell.
Passing the target range, they parked in front of a large
log cabin serving as the clubhouse. They got out and walked around to the back, where wood steps led up to a glass front door. A small bell jingled as they went inside.
“Be there in a minute!”
The voice came from a room at the end of a hallway, leading away to the detective’s right. Jason waited at the desk while Vanessa wandered around the reception area.
Various mounted animal heads hung high on the walls, leaning over the room
, as if to fall on the unsuspecting. Lining the far wall, she found pictures of hunters, mostly smiling men with their dead animals. All of the men held a bow.
smiling, white-haired man, who Jason guessed to be in his early sixties, came down the hallway.
“Sorry about that. Nature called, if you know what I mean.”
Jason waved a hand to indicate it was no problem.
“Are you John Chaney?”
The wiry man practically bubbled with enthusiasm for life.
“I sure am; what can I do for you?”
Jason showed his badge.
“My name is Detective Strong
, and this is Detective Layne. We’d like to ask you a few questions, if you don’t mind?”
“Sure, sure, no problem. I hope I haven’t done anything wrong.”
“No, nothing like that. We’re investigating the arrow killings, and need some information on one of your members; Sam Barker.”
“Oh yeah, Sam. Crack shot, one of the best we have around here.”
“Does he still shoot?”
, sure. He won our adult target club championship three straight times.”
The man reached behind him
, took a plaque off the wall, and laid it on the desk. He pointed to a name that repeated three times in a row.
“Of course, that was before the incident?”
“He didn’t tell you how he became paralyzed?”
Jason shook his head.
“Didn’t want to talk about it. How did it happen?”
“Sam’s been my friend a long time; I wouldn’t want to say something out of place.”
Vanessa had come over and was looking at the plaque with Jason. She stuck her finger on the name of last year’s champion.
Sam J. Barker.
“He won it again last year?”
John Chaney looked down at where the detective was pointing.
” He chuckled. “Sam J. is Samantha Jo, Sam Barker’s daughter. She’s a chip off the old block, probably a better shot than her old man.”
Jason and Vanessa looked at each other and bolted for the door.
The Hunter was growing impatient. Another glance at the time, eight-fifteen, and the target still had not shown. Every Saturday, eight in the morning sharp, the target would come out and get in the car to go to
practice. Why was today different?
The Hunter fidgeted, trying to get comfortable and stay calm. It should be any time now.
Jason spun the car around and headed back out the driveway. Sam Barker had not been telling all he knew
, and Jason had a guess why the man didn’t want to talk about his daughter.
Was he protecting her? Were they in this together?
They made it back to town in less than twenty minutes
, and pulled up in front of the Barker house. The garage door was closed this morning, but otherwise, everything looked pretty much the same as the day before.
Both detectives walked briskly to the front door and Jason rang the bell. This time the answer
wasn’t immediate, but after a second push of the bell, they heard Sam Barker yell.
The detectives drew their guns as they entered the house.
Again, they found Sam Barker in his
wheelchair. The TV was on, but this time he didn’t turn it off.
“Oh, it’s you two again. Didn’t I answer all your questions last night?”
He spotted the guns.
“What the hell are you doing?”
Jason was not playing the nice detective this time.
“Where’s your daughter, Sam? We want to talk her.”
Sam Barker swung around in his chair, anger flaring his nostrils.
“I told you to leave her out of this!”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that. You neglected to tell us yesterday she was an even better shot than you; so we need to talk to her.”
“She’s not here.”
“Where is she?”
“I don’t know.”
Vanessa was walking around the room, and came to a door leading off the living room.
“Is this her bedroom?”
“Yes, but I’m not giving you permission to go in there.”
“Very well, let’s take you downtown for questioning while we get a search warrant. We’ll do the search without you present.”
Jason could tell a trip to the station was not what Sam Barker wanted to do today. After a few minutes, he relented.
“Fine, you can search her room
, but you’re not going to find anything.”
Vanessa let herself in while Jason stayed with Sam Barker. It was only a minute before her head popped back out the doorway.
“You better come see this, Jason.”
Jason started over to the room.
“Don’t move, Sam.”
When Jason walked into the room, Vanessa pointed at the arrows in the wall rack.
Jason went over
, lifted the next arrow in sequence, and Vanessa ran her UV flashlight over the shaft. Jason read the name.
“Lieutenant Jesse Garza.”
He put the arrow back, and turned to look at the rest of the room. On the far wall, he found a trophy board of some sort, but what caught his attention was the map of San Antonio.
The map had an
X over three of the names on their victim list, and there were three marked locations without an X. Lisa White, who had been a target already, John Patton, and Jesse Garza.
Vanessa spun back to the wall with the arrows.
“The arrow with John Patton’s name is missing.”
Jason turned to go and found Sam Barker sitting in the doorway. He was quiet, apparently in shock. Jason heard him mumble to himself.
“Sammi Jo, what have you done?”
Jason nearly jumped over the man’s chair in his hurry to get out of the room. Vanessa was right behind him, with her phone pulled out.
As they got to the car, Vanessa hung up.
“No answer on the lieutenant’s phone.”
“I know. Thirty-fifth anniversary, remember? His phone is off.”
He fired up the car, Vanessa put the blue light from the glove compartment on the roof, and Jason sped for the lieutenant’s house.
Sammi Jo shifted in her hiding place, her mood getting darker by the minute. It was now almost nine o’clock, and her target still had not come out. The sun was beating down, and more people were starting to move around the neighborhood. Soon she would have to give up on getting the shot today.
Motion at the front door snapped her back into hunt mode, her pulse instantly surging. John Patton came out and walked down the path to the driveway. He carried with him two suitcases, which he lifted into the trunk
of his car. Lindsey Patton was not with him.
He went back up the path to the house and disappeared inside. Sammi Jo shifted into p
osition. If she was going take the shot, it would have to be in the next few minutes.
When the door opened again, Lindsey Patton was with her husband. The two of them moved down the path
, and around to the passenger side of the car. John Patton kissed his wife’s forehead as he opened the door for her. Sammi Jo drew back, lowering the bow sight onto her target.
No wind, 30 yards, crosshairs on the center of the torso. Breathe in
, then all the way out, and release the arrow.
Jason had blown his horn and raced through lights to get to his lieutenant’s home. He didn’t know if Sammi Jo was there this morning, but he couldn’t take any chances. The arrow with Detective John Patton written on it was missing from its rest, and that meant the girl had it with her. If she had it, he figured she was on the hunt.
Jason came around the corner and slid to a stop across from the Patton’s driveway. Vanessa and
Jason both jumped out. In the driveway, Jason saw the lieutenant opening the car door for his wife. Frantically, Jason scanned the area for a possible shooting location. Something glinted in the brush about thirty yards away. Jason yelled at his boss.
The lieutenant turned toward the road and Jason pointed in the direction he saw the reflecting sunlight.
Things slowed down, Jason’s
vision picking up a slicing blur, as it bore down on John and Lindsey.
John shoved his wife
and threw up his arm, the arrow tearing through his bicep, and lodging in his shoulder. The big man slumped against the side of the car as Lindsey screamed.
The scream shifted Jason back into motion.
“Vanessa! Call for back-up and EMTs, then get to the lieutenant. I’m going after Sammi Jo.”
Jason took off running toward the spot where the arrow had come from. As he arrived, he saw the girl jump over a fence at the end of the property. Jason was after her, leaping onto the fence and throwing himself over. She disappeared around the corner of a house, just across the street.
“Sammi Jo! Stop! Police!”
Jason followed her around the corner of the house and when he did, Sammi Jo was waiting twenty yards away
, with an arrow drawn. She let it fly as Jason dove back behind the house. The arrow sliced open his sleeve, drawing blood from his shoulder. Searing pain raced from his shoulder to his brain—he’d been hit. A quick look told him he could keep going.
Poking his head around the corner, he
didn’t see her immediately, but saw the bow laying on the ground; she’d abandoned it. Jason raced to the other end of the house, peered around the corner, and spotted Sammi Jo crossing the street.
Jason saw where she was going, raced across the street diagonally, and cut the distance in half. Ten more
steps, and he launched himself.
He heard the air escape her lungs as
he landed on her. She didn’t struggle as Jason grabbed one wrist, dragged it behind her, and put a cuff on it. The other wrist was quickly cuffed to the first, and he lifted her to her feet.
antha Jo Barker, you’re under arrest.”
John Patton was being loaded into the ambulance when Vanessa spotted Jason, and his prisoner, coming toward her. She checked on Lindsey Patton, who wasn’t hurt, and made sure the EMTs would let her ride to the hospital with her husband, before meeting up with Jason.
caught up with him at a patrol car as he put Sammi Jo inside.
Jason looked down at the cut on his shoulder.
“Yeah, she took a shot at me. It’s just a scratch.”
“You need to have it looked at anyway.”
“I will. How’s the lieutenant?”
Vanessa turned to look at the retreating ambulance.
“He’s lost a lot of blood
, but he’s still conscious. They’ve got surgeons waiting for him at SAG.”
“I’m gonna go to the hospital
, but first I’m headed to booking. I have some questions for our shooter, and I want to be the first to interview her.”
The patrol car
carrying Sammi Jo pulled away, lights flashing. Vanessa saw the forensics team pull up.
“I’ll stay here while things get sorted out. I’m sure I can catch a ride back to the station
in a black and white.”
“Okay, see you there.”
Jason got into his car, and followed the patrol car.