CONNECTED: SANGER ROAD
Copyright 2016 W. W. Watson, all rights reserved foreign and domestic.
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This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.
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All the cops were calling on their radios at once it seemed to Carl. He broke into a run and the city cop looked his way.
“There’s another one in my back yard with a dead guy,” he yelled.
The cop looked amazed for a moment and then went back to talking on his radio once more. He finished, threw the radio handset back into his car, and glancing once more at the burning car, he turned and followed Carl into his back yard.
“Jesus,” the young cop said. “That happened when he hit the tree? No way!”
“The other car was shooting at them,” Carl said. He immediately wished he had kept his mouth shut.
“You saw that?” the cop asked.
Providence again, Carl thought. “Well, no, I didn’t. I heard shots… I didn’t see ’em,” he lied.
“So there’s people in that other car?” the cop asked.
“I think so,” Carl answered. He took a few moments to formulate a lie. He didn’t need a complicated lie. Something simple. Something close to the truth so he could remember it, but something that wouldn’t make him an eye witness.
“When I got out, I seen the car laying on its top. I didn’t know about the other one. I had to get dressed. Once I got out of the house and headed down the road the car made this little popping sound and flames shot out of the engine compartment: When I turned away I saw the other one in the back yard. I knew something had crashed, because a few months back another car crashed into that same tree, and this sounded the same to me,” Carl said.
The cop nodded. “You go near either car?” he asked.
“The one out back. I leaned through the window to see if the guy was okay… Had to catch my hand on the seat… It was gross… I realized the guy was dead and got away from the car as quick as I could… Waited for you guys,” Carl said.
The cop nodded, pulled a small notebook from his shirt pocket and wrote in it. He asked Carl for his name and the address and wrote that down too.
Stupid, stupid, stupid, Carl thought. He hadn’t wanted to link himself to anything, but he had been afraid that they would find the hand print on the seat. An area of the seat that had been covered with blood and splatter and he had left noticeably cleaner in the shape of a hand. What else could he do?
“You okay?” the cop asked.
“Not really,” Carl admitted.
“Go sit down… I’ll have somebody talk to you.” He looked intently at Carl for a moment. “How much you had to drink, Carl?”
“Uh… About a six pack… It’s my night off,” Carl explained.
“Easy, Carl… I’m not here to bust your balls. They’ll want to know… Impairs your judgment. It will determine whether they will take what you say or look for other witnesses, you see?” the cop asked.
“Yeah,” Carl agreed. “I do see.”
“So?” The cop asked.
“Oh… Right. I had about a twelve pack,” Carl said. He shrugged.
“Night off,” the young cop said.
“Night off,” Carl agreed.
“All right, Carl. Go have a seat and when the detectives get here I’ll send them over,” he told him.
Carl went and sat down on his front steps and waited for the rest of the cops to show up. He watched the lead fire truck drown the burning car in foam, and in just a few seconds the fire was out, the car sat smoking: Steam rising into the air. The smell of burned meat thick and heavy.
“I understand you had quite a lot to drink during the evening,” a big, blonde haired cop said to him.
“Well, yes,” Carl admitted. “But it’s my day off,” he added.
“Easy, son, nobody’s blaming you. You’re home. Day off. No reason why you shouldn’t have a few drinks. It’s not like you knew a car was going to crash into your back yard.” He smiled to put Carl more at ease, and although Carl knew that was why he smiled he felt more at ease anyway.
“Did you know?” the shorter dark haired cop asked.
“Did you know the car was going to crash into your back yard?”
“No… Of course, I didn’t,” Carl told him.
“You look familiar to me,” The dark haired cop continued.
“Did a little county time a few years back,” Carl admitted.
He looked at him.
“Possession with intent,” Carl added. “Eighteen months.”
“Out in a year with the good time though, right?” the blonde haired cop said.
“Still fucking around with pot, Carl?” The dark haired one asked.
“No… Not no more,” Carl told him.
“So we could check the house and find nothing,” he asked.
“Sure… Sure…. Go ahead,” Carl said. “There’s nothing there at all.”
“But we aren’t going to do that,” The blonde said. “Your past is your past, Carl. I said I ain’t here to give you a hard time and I meant that.” He turned and looked over at the Chevy which had been lifted into the air. The roof had been cut away and two bodies had been taken out as they talked. They had set the car back down and were now winching it over onto its wheels so they could pull it up onto the flatbed wrecker that waited. He glanced back to the backyard. They were still working to pry the car in the back yard away from the tree. The body was long gone. They were using metal saws to cut the car away. Once enough had been cut away to move the car, it would go on a flat bed too. The cop’s eyes came back to Carl.
“You think of anything that might help us?” he asked.
“The gunshots,” Carl said and shrugged.
The blonde nodded. “We have an eyewitness to that. Says she was walking down the road when she saw the two cars coming, jumped in the woods. She saw the passenger lean out the window and fire at the car ahead… The dude in the car in your back yard, Carl. That’s how he got dead.”
To Carl, it felt as though his eyes had bugged right out of his head, but he struggled to maintain his composure. She? Who was she? He had seen no one at all, but whoever she was, she had described exactly what he himself had seen, so she must have been there. What else did she see?
“You okay?” the blonde asked.
“Tired… Sickened too, to be honest,” Carl said.
“Yeah… Pauls, that’s the name of the officer that spoke to you, J. Pauls, said you leaned into the car to check on the guy… Found a hand print there…. I assume it’s yours. I guess if I had found that I wouldn’t be feeling too good either.” He sighed. “We’ll be out of here in a few minutes,” he added. “But if you think of something.”
He closed his own little notebook that he had pulled from his pocket and looked at the other detective. He shook his head.
“I guess we have nothing else, Carl. Like I said, if you think of anything,” he reached into his pocket and pulled out a business card. He handed the card to Carl. “Give me a call, okay?”
Carl nodded, looked over the card and then shoved it into his pocket.
They all stood and watched as the Chevy flipped back over onto its wheels: Metal screeching, the car lurching from side to side on its ruined suspension as it slammed down. The men began hooking up the cables to winch the car up onto the flat bed truck. A few seconds later a second flat bed truck drove around the first and then backed down Carl’s driveway to the back yard. A steady Beep… Beep… Beep sounding as it backed up. The three, Carl and both cops, watched in silence as two men hooked up the remains of the Ford and then winched it backwards and up onto the flat bed.
A second later the two cops walked away without another word. Carl sat back down on his wooden steps and watched them get into their car and drive away. The trucks followed, and a few seconds later the silence descended once more on Sanger road. Carl sat and watched the dust settle back down to the dirt lane.
There was a little gray seeping into the sky above the tree tops. Dawn was not far away. Carl walked up the steps and into the trailer He took one of the beers from the refrigerator, went back outside and sat down on the steps once more.
She, whoever she was, was on his mind…
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