Groundswell: Chapter seven

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter six

“Hello.”

Candy stopped walking and looked up from her phone. “Why is a strange man leaning up against my car?”

Logan stood up straight. “Sorry, habit.”

“Usually people only have that habit with their own cars. Or their friends’ cars. But yet here you are, doing it on mine.”

“I stopped.”

She cocked her head and sighed. “That you did. What the hell do you want, anyway?”

“I’m–”

“Yeah, I know who you are. Everybody in town knows who you are.”

Logan smiled. “Guess I’m not a strange man, then.”

“Jury’s still out on that.”

Logan took his hat off and ran his fingers through his hair; chuckled. “I just didn’t want to bother you while you worked.”

“Oh, thank you. I appreciate that. I’m glad you decided to stalk me in silence while I worked and then lurk around my car waiting for me to get off. Much less creepy.”

“Sorry,” he said, wincing. He decided he liked this woman. He also decided not to think about liking her because she was married. After that, he decided that this train of thought was proof positive that he was a bonafide, certified sack of crap.

You just killed a kid and you’re over here drooling over this waitress‘s snappy banter. Get a grip.

He’d initially volunteered to join the search party after the motel’s owner told him about it, but then Kimball showed up at the crumbling old Econolodge he was staying at and told him to stay the hell away.

He didn’t put up much of a fight, and spent a sleepless night on his back staring at the sunken, water-stained ceiling above his bed, awash in the flickering glow of the old tube TV on the dresser.

Carl Stintson. That name and its accompanying face would forever be etched into his memories like the pay-per-view menu screen burn-in on the aforementioned TV.

“It’s alright. So you want to ask me about Chance, I guess? I’m sure everyone has told you I was sleeping with him.”

“Were you?”

She fished a cigarette out of her purse, put it in her mouth, and shrugged. “Not a crime, is it?” The cigarette danced on her lips as she spoke. She dug around in her purse some more and sighed. Where’s my fucking lighter? Do you have a light?”

“Sorry, don’t smoke.” He pulled his key ring out of his pocket and showed it to her. “All I have is this laser pointer.”

“Cute. Why even have that?”

“Cats. Well, not my cats. Not anymore. My ex has them, now.”

She shrugged. “Well, better hold onto it, I guess. Never know when you might need to entertain some pussy.”

Logan laughed. “Are there more people like you in this town? I may have misjudged this place.”

“Like me how?”

“Funny. Clever. Smart.”

“Isn’t that kind of redundant?”

“Isn’t what redundant?”

“Clever. Smart. Same thing, right?”

“Well, actually–”

“Please, spare me the mansplaining. Besides… you forgot to add ‘beautiful.”

“You trying to get me dismembered and fed to pigs, too?”

She had found a lighter somewhere deep within her purse and was lighting up. She took a deep drag; blew it out in Logan’s face. “You piece of shit. Fuck you for that.”

“I’m sorry,” said Logan, worrying that he’d slipped up and lost her. “I’ve just heard that your husband is a big, angry jealous guy and I wonder how he reacted to finding out about your affair with Miller.”

“He was fine with it. We have an arrangement.”

“Ah,” said Logan, who thought he was beginning to understand. “What kind of arrangement?”

“He’s gone for weeks at a time. I get lonely. Horny. He lets me play.”

“Really? He has no problems with that?”

“None at all. Sometimes if he’s home he likes to watch.”

Logan’s right eyebrow shot up. “I would assume that kind of lifestyle is… frowned upon here.”

“Understatement of the millennium right there.”

“I’m guessing someone found out about your… proclivities, and word spread around that you were cheating on Blake. Naturally, people assumed he was angry, and it didn’t help that he looks angry by default, am I right?”

“You’re a good detective. Really, I mean… shit.” She chuckled. “I’m glad you understand, then, that Blake’s a gentle man who couldn’t hurt a fly. He doesn’t even like to hunt or fish, and his whole family is all about that shit.”

“Is he in town right now?”

“Nope. Be gone for another four days.”

“Well, I’d like to speak with him when he gets back.”

“Won’t be necessary.”

“Why’s that?”

She blew another cloud of smoke in his face and put her hands on his shoulders. “Because you, and I, are going to find out who did this before he gets back.”

“Are you offering to hire me? No offense, but you’re not getting this with waitress money.” He patted himself on the chest.

“You’re already getting paid to find the killer, bonehead. I’d just be helping you. So technically, you should be paying me for my services.”

Won’t be necessary.”

“Why not?”

“Because I work alone. You’d be in my way.”

“You need me. You don’t know your way around this place or understand how these people think. I do. Lived here my whole life. They don’t like outsiders.”

“They don’t seem to think much of you, either.”

“Yeah, well,” she said, waving the cigarette around and making wispy little trails of smoke in the air, “I’m from here. They’ll talk shit, but at the end of the day I’m one of their own.”

She took one last drag and flicked the half-smoked cigarette down on the street without bothering to stamp it out. “You aren’t.”

“Uh huh.” Logan was staring at the smoldering cigarette between their feet. “You uh, you not going to put that out?”

“Nah.”

He ground it out beneath his shoe. He was a stickler for such things, but generally, he was able to restrain himself from showing it. Not today, though.

A look of disgust crossed her face and she rolled her eyes. “What a fucking nerd.

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