“You sure you specified the gun had to be a .44?”
“Yeah, calm down,” said Candy “I’m trying to drive here. You in that much of a hurry to shoot somebody?”
Logan stared ahead in silence.
“Fine then,” she said. “Don’t tell your partner why you so urgently need an exactly certain type of gun.”
Logan rolled his eyes. “You’re not my partner.”
“Fine,” she said with a shrug. “I guess you don’t need me to get that gun for you, then, huh? You’ll take it from here, right?”
He sighed.”I’m sorry. You’ve been a tremendous help. I really do appreciate this, more than you know.”
“Say it. Partner. Say it or I won’t take you to Bonez.”
“Partner,” he said through his teeth.
“See? Wasn’t so hard.” She brushed her hair out of her eyes.
“Do you think Chance Miller was seeing anyone else besides you when he was killed?”
She shrugged to indicate that she didn’t know, but she seemed uncomfortable. She did know. Something, anyway. He didn’t want to press her too hard and make her clam up. It would come out when she was ready.
“How should I know what he does–did when he wasn’t with me. He had his life, I had mine.”
“Anybody in his family have beef with him? Any feuds with anyone else around town?”
“No,” she said, with a little too much certainty.
“You sure about that?”
She shrugged. I don’t know. One of his employees, maybe?”
“From the garage?”
“Yes, from the garage. Where else?”
“I’ll have to go and take statement from everyone who works there. Find out if anything was going on.”
“I guess. I mean everybody who worked for him has been there for years.”
“If you want to be a detective,” said Logan, “the first thing you need to lean is that no one is excluded from suspicion. And when it comes to murder, those closest to the victim are the first ones you want to look at.”
“Well then I guess you have to investigate me, too.”
He looked at her. “Who says I’m not?”
“So you suspect that I killed Chance.”
“No, not really. I don’t think you have the strength to drag a 210-pound man across a pasture and toss him in a hog pen.”
“Well, there wasn’t much left of him when they found him. He was in pieces. How do you know I didn’t cut him up?”
“I don’t. His family tells me that the coroner wasn’t able to determine whether the body had been dismembered beforehand or was torn apart by the pigs.”
“Well, I didn’t do it. That’s crazy and it kind of pisses me off that you think I did. Maybe you aren’t as good a detective as I thought.”
“I didn’t say I thought you did it. I don’t, by the way. I’m just saying I can’t rule you out.”
“That’s fine,” she said, slowing down and turning right as they came to an intersection on the washed-out gravel backroad they were traveling on. “We’re almost there.”
They drove past several dilapidated houses, each spaced far apart and camouflaged by trees. Rusted car bodies, half-collapsed barns and other assorted remnants of days gone by were everywhere.
“What’d you find out from the town rapist?”
He was grateful she’d broached the subject the first. “‘Not much, really. Got a name of somebody named Walt Sheckley. Know him?”
She shook her head.
“Well anyway,” he continued, “apparently not everybody left Groundswell. He stayed. He still lives there now, as far as anybody knows. No running water, no electricity. He was there for all of it, though.”
“Wanna come with when I go out there to talk to him tomorrow?”
She didn’t answer.
“Did you hear me?”
“Yeah, I didn’t know you were talking to me, though. You left off a very important word.”
Logan sighed. “Wanna come with? Partner?”
Candy grinned and pulled into a long, winding driveway that led them to a house much like the others surrounding it.
A pit bull with a dirty bandage wrapped around one of its legs emerged from beneath the porch and limped over to greet them. When Candy parked and Logan opened his car door, the dog began to bark.
“Aw,” said Candy. “He’s defending his territory.”
“You won’t think he’s so cute when he’s tearing your arm out of the socket,” said Logan.
“Bullshit. Quit believing stereotypes about pits. There are no bad dogs–only bad people who train them to be that way.”
“I disagree, but say you’re right. We are at a bad person’s house. This is his dog.”
“Yeah, I’m going to need you to keep that attitude in the car when we go inside. Don’t piss him off.”
“Hadn’t planned on it.”
“Good. Now just be cool.”
A tall, skinny, shirtless man with a series of random tattoos scattered across his arms and chest came staggering out of the house. He took a hit from his vape pen and yelled something unintelligible at the dog, repeatedly, until it finally acquiesced and quit barking.
“C’mon out! S’alright!”
Logan was unable to muster up much trust in the assurances of the individual beyond the windshield. He’d arrested dozens of idiots who looked just like him.
“Is this the infamous Bonez I’ve heard so much about?”
“No, that’s jay, one of his boys. Come on.” They got out of the car, and Jay, holding the dog by its collar, waved them up onto the creaking, rotting porch and into the house.
The inside was surprisingly clean, although it did reek of marijuana smoke.
There were two people in the living room. One of them was a Caucasian male of about 25, bald, with about a week’s worth of growth on his face. He was stretched out across the couch with an Xbox controller in his hands. He didn’t look up when they came in.
The other was another Caucasian male, approximately 27. He was about 5’2″ and wore a black adidas tracksuit with white stripes. His curly black hair almost touched his shoulders, and he had a neatly trimmed goatee. Logan could tell right away which one was Bonez.
“‘Sup baby girl?” he said to Candy before giving Logan a once-over.
“Yo, you didn’t tell me he was 5-0.”
Logan’s muscles tightened. He was suddenly conspicuously aware of the absence of the gun he typically concealed beneath his jacket.
How does he know I was a cop?
“He’s not,” said Candy. “Not anymore. He used to be. He’s a private detective now.”
Bonez’s ears perked up. “Oh word? So you like some type of mercenary cop like Dog the Bounty Hunter or some shit, huh?”
“No, that’s a whole different thing,” said Logan. My time is mostly spent following cheating spouses.”
It was a lie, but he wanted to appear as non-threatening as he could to these people.
“Yo, check it out,” Bonez said to the man on the couch. “My boy here does shit like they do on Cheaters.”
“Cool.” He still didn’t look up.
“Watchu need this gat for then? Cheaters be gettin’ mad and shit, huh?”
“Nah,” said Logan. “I’m here about something much more serious. Something your cops here have been dragging their feet on, according to the victim’s family.”
“Oh, you investigatin’ them murders, huh? That shit is crazy. Yeah, they ain’t finna find out who did that shit. Stupid asses.”
Logan laughed. This was his entry point.
“Tell me about it. Kimball over there is really giving me a tough time.”
“That motherfucker trippin’,” said Bonez. “I hate that dude.”
“Help me make a fool out of him, then,” said Logan. “I solve this case, he ends up looking incompetent.”
“Hell yeah homie, I feel you. Hold on.”
He retreated down the hall into one of the bedrooms and came back with a .44 magnum, an S&W model 69 remarkably similar to the one he’d tossed in the pasture.
And shot a child with.
“Candy say you need a .44 but I got all types of shit if you interested. Anything you want I don’t have, yo, I can get that shit.”
“No, that’s perfect,” said Logan. “That’s just what I need. How much?”
Bonez shrugged. “I mean, I would do normally do at least a G on piece like this, but I’ma give you a discount. Eight hundred.”
“Sold,” said Logan. He wasn’t about to risk souring the deal with haggling. He needed that gun, and the price was fair.
“How’d you know I used to be a cop?” asked Logan as he counted counted out eight bills from a crisp new set of hundreds he’d pulled from his wallet.”
“I know a cop when I see one, bro.”
Logan looked at Candy, who wore a satisfied “told you so” grin on her face.
“Fair enough,” he said. “Pleasure doing business with you, Bonez.”