Authors: John C. Dalglish
Tags: #Christian Books & Bibles, #Literature & Fiction, #Mystery & Suspense, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Cozy, #Religion & Spirituality, #Christian Fiction
“Over by those scrub bushes
. You won’t have any trouble finding it.”
Winston turned and walked back into the barn
, while Jason and John walked through the noonday sun toward where he had pointed.
Brad was right; there was no missing the spot. A large, red impression in the dirt
outlined where the horse had fallen. Jason scanned the immediate area.
A county farm road ran along the length of the fence
that would have made it easy for someone to stop at night, shoot, and drive away, all without being seen. Any moonlight would be enough to see such a large animal as a horse. The men returned to the barn without a word.
had returned to his seat on the water trough. The lieutenant shook his hand.
, I’ll be in touch.”
On the drive back to the city, Jason
decided to ply the lieutenant about his earlier reaction.
Brad’s story seemed to hit you pretty hard, huh?”
After a moment or two of silence, John looked at him
, then back at the road.
“Did I ever tell you my dad race
d horses when I was young?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Well, he did, but none as valuable as Dancer.”
“They’re beautiful animals.”
“Anyway, he had this one horse named Trinity. She was his best, and he was really proud of her. One Saturday, she’s racing in a stakes race when she stumbled and fell, shattering her leg. There was no choice; Dad had to make the decision to put her down.”
“That must’ve been tough.”
“It was a sad time in our home. Dad took it very hard, and eventually gave up racing. Brad reminded me of him.”
They rode the rest of the way
back in silence.
For the second time today, Captain Garza was in Lieutenant Patton’s office. The lieutenant got up to shut the door, but waved Jason in first. Once Jason was inside, John Patton shut the door.
“Jason, please tell the captain what the working theory on the arrow killings is.”
Jason stayed standing.
“As I’m sure the lieutenant told
you, we found a third victim of the arrow killer. It turned out to be a horse, but the key was the owner. Each of our shootings has been tied to a family member who is now, or was at one time, an SAPD officer.”
aptain held up his hand to stop Jason. “Does this mean you suspect the shootings are targeted, not random?”
“Yes sir, it does.”
“I’m not happy to find members of our city’s finest being targeted, but I am relieved we can tell the public this wacko’s not out there shooting just anyone.”
“It’s just a theory
, but it appears to be a strong one.”
“What about motive
? Have you made any headway in finding out why these victims were targeted?”
“No sir, not yet. We’ll begin looking at cases that all three people had in common
, but it’s gonna take some time.”
“I understand, Detective. Keep after it, please.”
Captain Garza turned toward the lieutenant, who had returned to his desk chair.
“John, I want to have a press conference tomorrow, noon. I need you and your detectives there.”
“Okay. Downstairs in the briefing room?”
The captain rose to leave and Jason opened the door for him. Captain Garza extended his hand to Jason and they shook.
“Good work, Detective.”
“Thank you, sir.”
After the captain had left, Jason shut the door again
, and took a seat in front of the lieutenant’s desk.
“I owe a phone call to Devin James at the News. What can I tell him?”
John Patton leaned back in his chair and rubbed both hands over his face; he looked tired.
“Tell him he can say the following:
‘An unnamed source has indicated police feel the general public is safe and The Hunter’s victims are not being chosen at random.’ That’s all we can give him for now, but let him know you’ll give him first question at the press conference.”
“Seems fair. I’ll call him now
, then I think I’ll go home.”
The lieutenant smiled.
“That is an excellent idea. Did I mention Lindsey and I are celebrating our thirty-fifth wedding anniversary next week?”
“No. Do you have something planned?”
“We do, and I’m not telling any of you around here. For detectives, you’re terrible at keeping secrets.”
Jason laughed before
leaving the office.
“You’re a wise man, John Patton.”
Bobby White finished his shift at the shoe factory and headed home. Lisa was off tonight
, and they were planning their standard barbeque with the kids.
‘Kids’ was still the way he saw both Kara and Kyle
, but they were grown now, with families of their own. Still, once a week they all tried to get together for a cookout.
one of the kids would host it at their house, but most of time, he and Lisa would have everyone over.
Bobby checked his watch.
By now, the kids were probably there with the grill going. He thought about stopping for some beer, but he knew Kyle always brought Coors. Bobby didn’t like it much, but he drank it to make Kyle happy.
Pulling into the
driveway, he unfolded his six-foot, two-inch frame out of his Honda Civic. It got great gas mileage, but it made him stiff sitting in the little car. Shutting the door, he turned toward the house before realizing he’d forgotten his cooler.
He opened the car door
, bent to get the cooler, and felt a piercing pain in his side. Crashing against the car and dropping the cooler to the ground, he looked down at his side.
In a dreamlike state, he
was reminded of the Old West movies he watched as a kid. An arrow was sticking out of him.
Sandy Strong had only been home about twenty minutes when the phone rang. The number on the caller ID was Jason.
“Hey honey, it’s me. I’m getting ready to head home.”
“Great, I’ll start dinner. How was your day?”
“Interesting. I’ll fill you in at dinner. How about you?”
Sandy did her best to keep a calm voice.
“Same as usual. See you in a half hour?”
“On my way, love you.”
“Love you, too.”
She wanted to say hurry home,
can’t wait for you to get here, or maybe just burst out with the news, but she controlled herself.
After they hung up, she took the steaks she had thawing and went out to the grill. Turning on the gas and sparking the flame, she laid the two porterhouse slabs on the grates, pulled down the lid
, and went inside for some Mrs. Dash spice.
After sprinkling the steaks with the spices, she went back to the kitchen, tore open a
premade bag of salad, and dumped it in a large, red bowl. She put it on the table along with a couple different salad dressings. Some canned corn heated in the microwave rounded out the meal; not fancy, but it would serve the purpose.
Sandy went out and flipped the steaks. As she stood watching them cook, she caught herself rubbing her stomach
. She wondered how many times she would repeat the same motion over the coming months.
Glancing at her watch, she took the steaks off while they were still bloody. She
liked to tease Jason for wanting his steak so rare it was still crawling across the plate.
Inside, the table was set
, and she was just lighting candles when Jason came through the door.
“In here,” she called.
He came around corner and saw the laid
“Wow, what’s this?”
Sandy moved to her husband, gave him a peck, and hugged him, as she always did. She tried to ignore the danger in his job, and they never actually spoke about it other than in their early life together. It was easier to deal with his career since Jason was no longer on street patrol, but she still felt grateful every night when he came home.
Somebody else was glad to see him. Penny came padding into the room, and bumped against his leg.
“Hi ya, girl. Looks like both my girls missed me today.”
Jason went into the kitchen to wash up while Sandy doled out two plates of food. They sat at the table, Jason at the head, Sandy next to him, and ate quietly for a few minutes. Sandy broke the silence.
“You were going to tell me about your day.”
“I know, but this is nice, I don’t want to ruin it with work.”
“Okay. Do you mind if I tell you about my day?”
“Of course not. I would love to hear about your day.”
Sandy put down her fork.
“I had a doctor’s appointment today.”
Jason stopped mid-bite, fork halfway to his mouth. Sandy
couldn’t help laughing at his frozen pose. Finally, he set his fork down.
“What kind of doctor?”
“A baby doctor.”
Sandy thought Jason was going to pass out.
“And no one else, just the baby doctor.”
“Sandra Alison Strong, you’re a cruel woman!”
“Okay, okay. We’re going to have a baby.”
Jason lunged at her, his elbow landing in her salad, as he wrapped his arms around her. Sandy nearly pitched backward out of her chair
, as the two of them laughed until they cried.
nce they had settled down, Jason peppered Sandy with questions.
“What is it?”
“A baby,” she teased.
“Very funny, what sex is it?”
“It’s too soon to know, Jason.”
are you due?”
“You mean when
Jason’s smile grew even wider
, if that was possible.
“Okay, when are
Jason’s cell phone started ringing
, but Sandy tried not to get upset. Being on-call was part of being a detective, and being a detective meant not working the street in a patrol car.
She and Jason were expecting now
, and his not being on the street was even more important to her. Jason gave her a pained look.
“I figured. It’s okay, answer it.”
He picked up the phone.
“This is Strong.”
Sandy got up and cleared the table, including the salad scattered all over the floor. When she returned from the kitchen, Jason was standing.
“Okay, I’ll be there as soon as I can. Call Detective Layne for me, please.”
He hung up the phone and looked at his wife. Sandy smiled as Jason moved across the room to the where she was standing. He wrapped his arms around her again, gentler this time.
Sandy held on tight, smelling his hair, feeling the strength in his arms, and sensing the joy in his soul. They were going to be parents, and she could tell they were both ready.
He whispered into her ear.
“I’ve got to go. There’s been another arrow attack.”
,” she said, but held on a little longer.
Finally, she let Jason pull himself free. He looked into her eyes before kissing her on the forehead.
“I’ll be home as soon as I can get away. I love you.”
With that, he was gone. She stayed leaning against the kitchen door for a long while. Eventually, she found herself rubbing her stomach again.
She smiled. That’s twice.
Jason and Vanessa arrived at Bobby and Lisa White’s home at the same time and they both had to park down the block. The driveway, and area in front of the house, had a combination of emergency vehicles clogging the small street. They walked up toward the house together, and Jason decided now was not the time to deliver his happy news.
With darkness comes
a surreal atmosphere of a crime scene at night. Swirling bright lights, flashing back and forth, reflect off everything shiny within a half-mile.
People stand in their doorways
, or in small groups on their lawns, wearing various costumes from pajamas to suit coats. They talk and point at the frightening circus that has come to their neighborhood.
The two detectives flashed their badges
, and ducked under the crime tape at the end of the driveway. Vanessa had stayed outside to look at the car, and study the area around where Bobby White was shot.
Jason went in the house to talk to Lisa
, finding her in the living room surrounded by her family. Jason nodded to the family members before turning his attention to Lisa.
-time officer was shaking and Jason could understand why. Crime on the street was something you prepared for at the start of each shift, but when it strikes your home, it’s not the same. There is no preparation for that.
She looked up, noticing him for the first time.
“I’m Detective Jason Strong, I don’t know if you remember me, we’ve run across each other at a couple crime scenes.”
She was sitting in an armchair, leaning forward and wiping at her eyes with a tattered napkin.