Rating: NC17 for violence, murder, gunplay, adult themes. For safety’s sake, this will apply to ALL chapters. There will be no smut in this fic. There will be references, but references only, to rape, murder, mutilation in places
Copyright © November 2006 xxxevilgrinxxx
I don’t know how long I drove for after I left his apartment. I drove past the South Pacific Lounge twice in a large circle to scope out the area. Seedy and out of place in the middle of the desert. A rough stretch of road, a potholed gravel lot full of puddles out front. It was a refurbished Quonset hut painted in gaudy colors and stood in the entranceway to an even seedier looking trailer park that went back quite a ways into the hills on the borderline.
I put out any thought of going in right away; I would stick out like a sore thumb in there, even if I lost the tie and jacket. It was hard to drive away; all I wanted to do was walk right in there and pull him out. If he was even in there. I would be burned if I ever needed to go back again and I had to think of this strategically and not blow it by getting pissed off and doing something stupid now.
It was strange to think of him drinking there, it was such a shitty looking dive. Danno must have taken one look at those fake palm trees out front and felt right at home though. And they had strippers; that will take a man’s mind off most things. The trailer park behind it made me think of all those numbers stuck on Danno’s fridge, all with the same prefix. Maybe he picked up women here as well. I wondered if Amy was one of those, if she lived in the trailer park, close to work. My knuckles were white on the wheel as I drove out; I hated this damned suit all of a sudden.
Going to Douglas was harder than I thought it would be; I didn’t know what to say to him, about Danno. Douglas had leaned against the desk in his office when I filled him in on what had happened at the morgue. I left out a lot of details but I wasn’t fooling anyone. I didn’t know when he was going to be back. I didn’t know where he had gone. I didn’t know anything. Yet.
Douglas had given me a hard look and asked me what I had, off the record. The silence stretched out but I finally told him what I had, at least about where I thought to start looking for Danno. I didn’t tell him about the girls, and I didn’t give him Amy’s name. I just mentioned the trailer park, and the bar. Douglas knew I was holding back; he just nodded and told me to watch myself. He would cover for me, for Danno, for a few days. I was now officially on vacation.
I couldn’t sleep at home and by the second night after he had left all could do was lie still beside my wife and run through everything I had, everything I thought I had. It seemed like less and less the longer time went on. All that remained of his family was back east, and I didn’t want to call them, not yet. I wanted him to just show up. Drunk maybe, angry, confused. Just to show up.
The murders kept coming back to me. Six women dead, and now my partner had disappeared. Knowing how he felt about women I knew he would take it personally and would want to find whoever had killed those women, whoever had killed Amy. If I could find that out, maybe I could find my partner. I had no idea where to look for them either. Four of the six women were Jane Does, and on the other two we had nothing. All I had was Amy.
Back and forth I paced on the porch until Adriana came back out and started in with that rapid fire Spanglish I had loved since the first time I had heard it. She was annoyed with me, and that was an understatement. She had come home to all of the locks changed unexpectedly. Danno had been gone nearly three days by that point and there had been no sign of him.
He was gone and I didn’t know where he was. I did know that he had keys to my house and that he was connected to a brutal murder, maybe a whole series of them. Adriana didn’t understand that either; she had never met my partner and now all of a sudden I was changing the locks and asking her to take the kids and move in with her family until I sent for her. I would be driving her there after she talked to her mother. She had cried at first, and I told her why I needed her to leave, it killed me to see her cry.
In the house by myself, my wife and kids gone, my partner gone, I sat out on the back porch and cried a little myself, when the call from Peters came. I’d never felt so helpless. The body would have been unidentifiable, to anyone else. Peters knew Danno, so it made the identification easier. We both agreed it would be for the best, at least for the moment, if he stayed a John Doe. His Amy, a Jane Doe, was in the cooler next to him. I don’t know how it all went so wrong so fast.
“You’re sure you want to do this.”
The voice was deadpan, clipped and cold. A grey voice, like everything else about him, without inflection. I didn’t think it was a question. Detective John Holloway, except that he wasn’t really there as a detective, at least not officially. I wasn’t there as a DEA agent either so I guess we were even. Neither one of us showed our badges, it wasn’t necessary. If he was here officially he would have braced me; badge, rank, name and serial number. This wasn’t official. He had come out from around the side of the trailer silently; I wouldn’t have heard him at all if not for the click of his zippo as he lit a cigarette.
Douglas would have been the one to tip him off about where he might find me. I didn’t know whether to thank him or not. “If you’re here to stop me…”
I didn’t get a chance to finish; he didn’t really cut me off, he simply continued in that same cold voice, as though I hadn’t said anything at all. “Just here to make sure you don’t fuck up what may be a crime scene.” His cigarette hung from his mouth as he talked, as though this was the most natural conversation in the world. Maybe to him it was, there was something about him that let me know he had seen a lot worse.
That he knew right where to find me interested me. If I thought he would answer me I’d ask if he tailed me. Maybe those dead women had just caught his attention too; he didn’t look like a man that missed much.
My eyes went back to the scrollwork on the screen door. I had driven down here in the dead of night last night, at closing time in the only dark shirt I owned. To wait for what I don’t know. It led to driving around the decrepit trailer park, which is when I spotted the scrollwork door and remembered the picture from Danno’s nightstand. It was a slim chance and my heart raced as I cut the engine and parked a short distance away.
Holloway waited until I loided the lock, he didn’t stop me or interrupt my breaking and entering, just slid through the door behind me like smoke. I half expected him to just vanish.
The trailer was small, and it looked like it had been tidy at one point. Someone had tossed the place. The room smelled of old blood and death and I wanted to run. Someone had died hard here. My pulse raced as I reached out for a tattered rag of a shirt. The iron grip of Holloway stopped me. “Don’t touch anything. We’re not here.” I squatted down on my haunches and eyed the piece of fabric, crusted heavily with dried blood. He had been cut up pretty badly when I saw him at the morgue. Those fucking parrots, even through all that blood they shone through. I pushed past Holloway to throw up in the scrabble of weeds that passed for a yard. I would be back here, but not yet. I said nothing to Holloway when I walked back to my car, and he said nothing back. I watched his tail lights disappear ahead of mine.
Danno’s place smelled musty, of stale air and rotting food. The oddly sweet odor of a fermenting pineapple on the coffee table. It was easy enough to clean up; he hadn’t lived here long enough to make a real mess. All I could find was a half a bottle of white rum in the fridge but it looked like as good a place as any to start.