“Get your foot off my desk,” Sergeant Reid snapped at Brock.
Brock dropped his foot off Reid’s desk, dropping the front legs of his tilted-bak chair down with a thud that filled Reid’s office. The top ten wanted posters, map of greater Cincinnati, and picture of newly elected president Clinton did little to muffle the crash. Brock raised his shoulders and eyebrows simultaneously.
“My bad,” Brock said flippantly.
“Look, Brock, the faster we find out why Mrs. Johnson’s jewels were in the woods behind your house, the faster you can get back to the bar.”
Brock tilted his head to the side lazily and his eyelids went half-mast. He rolled his eyes and snorted loudly, clearing the mucus from his nostrils. A loud hock-and-spit into Mr. Johnson’s trash can followed.
“Look, Reid-“ Brock started.
“Sergeant Reid. Yes?”
Brock paused and took a breath.
“Look man, I gave you all the answers I have, alright! You think if I had gone to all the trouble of digging up Mrs. Johnsons body, okay, which first of all, is fucking disgusting bro, alright, but that being said, if I actually went and carved her out, why on earth would I ever leave any loot behind, man?”
Reid stared at Brock. The back’s of Reid’s eyes hurt and he hoped he wasn’t getting sick. The lack of sleep over the past few weeks was starting to weigh on him. Fourteen days ago, Mrs. Johnson was found murdered in her home with a single bullet to the head. Reid had been actively investigating this case, with Mr. Johnson the main suspect. Reid and Mr. Johnson had talked at length for several days. Mr. Johnson vehemently denied it. Mr. Johnson had said he had been traveling for business that week, but had finished his business early and returned home the morning of Mrs. Johnson’s murder. Mr. Johnson said he had gone fishing in the evening when Mrs. Johnson was murdered, which could be corroborated by no one. Reid had gone out to the fishing hole a few days before only to find Mr. Johnson was there, leaning on his rusted, beat up blue Volvo. When asked why he was there, Mr. Johnson said he enjoyed the solace of the last place he was when Mrs. Johnson was alive.
Reid was just starting to make what he felt was headway when Mrs. Johnson’s body was exhumed and robbed from it’s casket seven days after her murder. It was known that she was buried in her lavish jewels, diamonds, and gold necklaces she adorned around town. They had no suspects as of two days ago, but had a breakthrough when a gold necklace studded with diamonds was found in the woods behind Hyde Park. A hunter had been out in the almost-impassibly thick brush and had discovered the necklace right behind Brock’s house.
“Tell me one more time where you were the night of the grave robbery,” Reid asked Brock.
“Oh, ok, let’s see, for the four-hundredth time, I was working. I know you know what working is, you’re doin it right now man!” Brock pleaded.
“An you were working on…”
“I told you, my friend’s audio setup. My buddy Sam needed help getting his new guitar rig dialed in, so he tossed me some money to come help him out. We hung out, worked on the rig, drank some beers. On the other side of town, dude. That was it bro, very, very low-key.”
Sam had been a different animal to deal with from Brock. He was very quiet, but had confirmed Brock’s story, as had Brock’s girlfriend, who was there that night. Reid presumed that Brock was the ring leader and had roped in Sam and his girlfriend for the ride. He had more questions for Sam, but as of late, the twenty-year old had been very hard to nail down. To this point, Reid felt he could get more answers from a bucket of water than Sam.
“So how did the necklace end up behind your house then, Brock?”
Brock tilted his head back with a smile of disbelief and threw his hands in the air.
“Do you want me to tell you who killed Kennedy, too?”
Reid slammed his fist down on the table, making more noise than he’d wanted to.
Reid was cut off by an aggressive knock at his door.
“Enter,” Reid yelled.
Officer Wallace ducked his head in.
“Sarge, we got some more jewelry in the woods. Back behind his house,” nodding towards Brock.
Brock raised his eyebrows in shock before throwing his head back towards the ceiling and covering his face.
“This is unbelievable,” he muttered through his hands, shaking his head.
“Let’s go. All of us,” Reid said shortly.
When they arrived at Brock’s house, Reid joined the rest of his crew in the Brock’s back yard. Much of the brush had been cut out with machetes and chain saws, leaving the snarled vines and creeping kudzu hollowed out of the forest into somewhat of a den. Officer Wallace had gone over to the crew on site as Reid inspected the scene. Wallace returned vibrantly, full of information.
“All right, Sarge, this is what we got. Location of first necklace, right there,” Wallace said, pointing to the four flags in the shape of a box on the ground.
“Second location, however, thirty-three yards south, putting it behind Mrs. James’s house.”
“See! What did I say! And the jewels…will set…you free!” Brock yelled.
“Shut up,” Reid chirped.
The location of the second necklace did not help Reid’s case. Mrs. James was an eighty-seven year-old woman who rarely left the house. Her home had been one of the first built in Hyde Park, and she’d lived there the fifty-eight years since. Her husband had passed about a decade ago, and she relied on her son Sean for live-in care. Sean was also a volunteer fire fighter, and Reid had played poker with him on the random police vs. fire department Friday night games. They were friendly, and Reid was halfway up Mrs. James steps when Sean opened the door.
“Hey Serge, I hear there’s a new jewelry shop opening up behind my house,” Sean quipped.
“It looks that way,” Reid chuckled. “Hey, Sean, you heard about the second necklace and the location, right?”
“Yeah, I’m not sure what to make of it. I thought Brock was guilty since day one. He and his buddy Sam. Figured it was them when I heard about the robbery, and only confirmed it when I heard about the first necklace. You talk to Sam yet?”
“I have, interesting kid. I’ve been trying to get him in to the office lately, but he’s been tough to get a hold of,” Reid said, now eye-level with Sean. Sean wore a red fire fighter shirt that looked like it would probably fit his ninety-two pound mother better than his two-hundred thirty pound build.
“Well I just saw him walking his dog, he’s probably at his parents place right now,” Sean said.
“His parents…where is his parent’s place?” Reid asked.
Sean raised one eyebrow and motioned to the left with a thumb jutted out from his fist.
“Other side of me.”
Reid stepped back and looked at the house to the right of next to Sean’s. A large, exposed-wood house stood, vastly different from Brock’s shanty that was crumpling under its own weight on the other side of Sean’s home.
“That’s Sam’s parent’s place?” Reid inquired.
“Yes. Brock and Sam spend a lot of time over there when the parents go out of town. They get loud with their music, but it’s usually off by nine.” Sean informed Reid.
“Sonofabitch,” read snorted.
Reid had not looked into Sam’s parents yet and had no knowledge of their house. Sam and Brock had said they were across town at Sam’s condo. The second necklace was found almost directly behind Sam’s parents place. Reid walked over and knocked on Sam’s door. The door opened, letting light and air into the dank house. Sam appeared and held a hand up to shield the light streaming into his eyes.
“Sam, Sergeant Reid, glad I finally got you. You got a minute,” Reid stated more than inquired.
“Yeah, sure. But I heard about the second necklace, and as I said before…Brock, my girl, and I were across town at my condo working on my soundboard all night,” Sam reiterated.
“Yeah, Sam, I know, but what I don’t know is why there is a necklace behind your house and one behind Brock’s house,” Reid said, dodging his head downward to try and meet Sam’s eyes. Their eyes finally met. “Put yourself in my shoes. How does this look?”
“I…I don’t know. Not good.” Sam replied.
“Not good at all. Now, how often are you over here at your parent’s place?” Reid asked.
“About once a month for a week while my parents travel, just to watch over the house.”
“And your parents were home the night of the robbery?”
“Yes,” Sam mumbled.
“Yes!” sam said in a half-yell, shaking his head afterward in a nervous tick that showed he’d let his emotions best him.
Reid’s eyes went wide as yelling starting to come from behind Sam’s house. Reid looked at Sam.
“Come with me.” Reid instructed.
The two of them ran back behind the house by the carved den and found Wallace holding a pair of diamond earrings.
“Serge, just found these with a metal detector about 50 years further up, into the cul-de-sac.”
Reid shifted his gaze down the line of trees, tracing the path of the two necklaces and diamond earrings.
“Whoever it was was heading into that cul-de-sac,” Reid acknowledged.
Reid and Wallace ran up to the street and and skid to a stop in the road, looking towards the cul-de-sac. A large, plantation-style house was at the end of the drive, lights out, shades drawn. In front of the house, Mr. Johnson’s blue rusted Volvo sat parked, empty.
“Find out who’s house that is, now,” Reid barked at Wallace.
Reid and Wallace moved briskly along the sidewalk. The other officers fell in line behind them, then fanned out in a tactical V, with Reid leading the way. Wallace cocked his head to his shoulder, reached up and clicked the button on his body walkie, and began spewing codes and orders almost as fast as Reid could give them.
“Perimeter, all sides. Keep the men in the brush that are there, but have them move south towards the cul-de-sac. Get a team behind the house and to the side opposite the forest. Find out who’s house that is first.” Reid ordered.
As they approached the house, Reid could hear voices coming form inside. Yelling, not talking. Reid steadied his men, two officers flanking his sides as he went up the steps and stood in front of the door. He held up three fingers, then two, then one, then knocked and announced himself.
“Sheriff’s Department, Sergeant Reid here, please open the door.”
It went quiet inside.
Seconds past and Reid and his team stood like statues before hearing a faint cry.
Reid held his ear to the door and announced himself again, this time louder.
“Sheriffs office, Sergeant Reid here, Mr. Johnson, I know you’re in there, someone open the door or we’re coming in,” Reid yelled.
Nothing. Reid motioned for a door ram that had been brought from the deforestation police utility truck. The policemen positioned on either side of the ram, they swung the steel rod back and forth. The battering head meeting the wooden door with little resistance. A rancid smell was sucked out of the house as the battering ram went in, almost knocking Reid over. He composed himself and wondered if they’d found Mrs. Johnson.
“Help! Please, I’m upstairs!”
Reid didn’t recognize the voice. He didn’t think it was Mr. Johnson’s. Reid drew his pistol, aiming it in front of him and downward, signaled for his men to follow, and entered the house. He motioned to the left in a peace sign parallel to the ground where he wanted the first two officers to go, then instructed the other two to follow him. Reid approached the staircase and began to ascend.
“Sheriff's office, who’s here? Is that you Mr. Johnson? What seems to be the problem?”
“Help me, please! The bedroom!” another unrecognizable call rang out.
“Shut the fuck up!”
Mr. Johnson’s harsh words met Reid’s ears.
Reid got to the top of the staircase, took a few quick peaks through the slats of the railing, stepped up to the final step and aimed his pistol over the banister. Reid’s view was now down the barrel of his gun and he saw a door ajar at the end of the hallway. A building whimper leaked from the room before being interrupted by loud whap. Reid gagged as the vial smell doubled in strength upstairs.
“Mr. Johnson, It’s Sergeant Reid, I’m coming down the hallway. Everybody needs to stop what they are doing, raise their hands, and put them outside the doo-”
A gunshot went off and Reid ran for the door, kicking it in. Mr. Johnson’s gun was still smoking, pointing at a younger man on the ground. The man’s hands were still raised, a bullet hole in the wall just to the left of his head. His long hair was matted against his forehead, hiding a crimson bludgeon that spewed blood. His eyes were swollen and blue. It looked as though his nose had exploded. On the bed lay a deceased Mrs. Johnson, tucked in and yellow. Embalming fluid had begun to run along with her makeup. A wig was shoved on crookedly. Pearls, diamonds and assorted jewels radiated from the dead women like a homing beacon for Death to come and find. Reid held his aim on Mr. Johnson.
“Mr. Johnson, I’m going to need you to put that gun down right now. Just relax.” Reid said calmly yet firmly. Mr. Johnson cocked his pistol.
“Relax. Yes, relax. We all need to relax. Apparently, I’m the only one not relaxing enough these days!” Mr. Johnson said through a snarl. “My wife’s relaxed. Buxton here is relaxed, aren’t you Buxton! Look at him! He’s so relaxed! You relax Sergeant Reid!”
Mr. Johnson’s hands were wobbly with the gun. Reid could see the anger and rage on his face shift to fear and sadness. His face constricted into a frown as he fought back tears.
“You know, you try to do the best you can in life, you study, you work, you get married, you have a family…and then some asshole comes into your life and ruins everything!”
“Mr. Johnson, calm down. Lower the weapon and we can talk about this,” Reid pleaded.
“Nah, nah. This guy, he came into my house and slept with my wife. I find them when I come home early from business, great surprise! Well that was clearly the end of the Johnson family, so I figured I didn’t need Mrs. Johnson around anymore. But you know what, this guy still did!”
Mr. Johnson glanced at Buxton with a sickening feeling growing in his stomach. He looked over at Mrs. Johnson, who almost seemed to have a smirk on her face.
“Good Lord,” Reid breathed the words.
“Yep!” Mr. Johnson said with a tinge of insanity.
And with that, Mr. Johnson raised the now wavering pistol in his hand towards Buxton, his resolve strengthened. Reid lunged for the gun but not before it went off twice. Reid and Mr. Johnson collapsed to the floor, ears ringing from the firearm. Reid grabbed Mr. Johnson’s wrist and banged it repeatedly on the ground before the gun released from Mr. Johnson’s hand. The other policemen sprung into action, securing Mr. Johnson. Reid looked over at Buxton, wide-eyed and mouth open, his head tilted back against the wall. Blood ran down his forehead from the two entry wounds. Reid got up, collected himself, took a deep breath, and vomited.
“Well, I guess that get’s Brock off, eh Serge?” Wallace asked, slapping Reid on the back a few times before exiting the room.