Thrill of the Huntby GiAnna Moratelli / Mystery & Detective
THRILL OF THE HUNT
COPYRIGHT 2013 GiAnna Moratelli
The gold lettering on the side of the white sheriff’s car, glistened in the bright sun as it pulled off the pavement into a sandy parking lot. The sheriff pulled up as close to the front of an unpainted wood, rustic looking building as he could; to shade the car from the heat.
An old building from the late 1800’s, it had a large overhang to shade a sprawling front porch. Tourist, if the town ever had any, would think they’d stepped back in time. The building front had the appearance of a saloon in a western movie. But instead of the word saloon scrolled across the front, it said Colton’s Place. A flapping, white, red lettered, plastic banner pulled across the front, tied to the support post, read, ‘Welcome Hunters, $4.99 breakfast.’
Sheriff Tom Moratelli stepped out of the car. Taking off his dark, mirrored, sun glasses he stretched his five-foot-eleven as he looked across the highway, his dark brown eyes scanned the desert toward the blue hue mountain range in the far distance. Putting the glasses in his shirt pocket, Tom stepped up on the course wooden porch. Opening the door, a small bell jingled.
A woman in her early sixties with light pink hair piled on top of her head, looked up from wiping down the lunch counter. “Afternoon, Tom.”
“Mildred,” he greeted. He walked between the empty tables to one sitting along the opposite wall.
Mildred looked toward the kitchen. “Sandy, your husband’s here!”
An older man sitting at a table looked across the room at Tom. The only customer in the place, he nursed his cup of coffee on the lap of his faded blue jeans as he sat crossway of the chair, leaning against the wall, his arm propped up on the chair back. “Sheriff Moratelli, how’s it goin’?”
Tom sat with his back slightly to the man. “Kind of slow this morning, Mr. Stoutman. How’s business at the feed store?
“Kind of slow this mornin’. Sold two bags of dog food and one bag of cat food all mornin’.” Hank Stoutman took a drink from his coffee cup. “That waitress, the blue-eyed blonde, you gotta watch her.”
“If you’re talkin’ about the waitress with hazel eyes and light brown hair, I watch her all the time. It’s in my job description.”
“What job description’s that?”
“Husband,” Tom answered. He looked up at the counter, as Sandy walked out of the kitchen carrying two plates.
“She looks like a blue-eyed blonde to me,” Hank said, looking at Sandy’s butt, as she leaned over to get two glasses from a lower shelf.
“You don’t see all of her that I see.”
Hank laughed. “No, I don’t suppose I do. Felt a little cool out there this mornin’. Guess winter’s comin’.”
Tom nodded, “It’s plenty warm out there now.” He noticed Hank watching his wife. “Now you know why I tell her to wear longer skirts.”
“I kind of like the short ones.”
“I know you do.”
Sandy walked up to the table. “What’s that?” she asked, as she put one of the plates in front of Tom and sat the other one in front of the chair beside him.
“Hank’s watchin’ your ass.”
Hank sat his cup on the table. “Hell she knows it.”
Sandy nodded. “Him and every other guy that comes in here.”
As she turned to go back up to the counter Tom pulled her down on his lap. “You don’t have to hurry off.”
Sandy kissed him, running her fingers through the back of his hair. “I have to get you something to drink. You want coffee, ice tea or lemonade?”
“Tea will be all right.”
“I’ll be right back.” Sandy kissed him, then started for the kitchen.
Tom watched as she swayed up to the refrigerator. Yeah, they all looking at his wife. But she was just that, his wife. And they better not forget it.
Hank held up his empty cup. “Get a refill over here?” He looked at Tom. “Any word about Lucy Handling?”
“Not yet.” Tom moved his chair up to the table and looked at his plate, hoping it tasted better than it looked. “You never know, Hank. Maybe no news is good news.”
“Four, five months can’t be good news,” Hank replied, as Mildred brought a coffee pot to his table. He watched as she filled his cup. “It looks darker than the first pot.”
“Sandy made this one and her hubby likes it stout.”
“He isn’t drinkin’ it. He’s drinkin’ tea.”
Mildred shrugged. “You want tea?”
“No, I don’t want no damn tea.”
“Anything else before I get back to work?”
“This isn’t working?”
“Only if you leave a tip. Other than that, it’s volunteering.”
Hank smiled. “I’m fine. So what do you think, Tom?”
Tom shrugged, “Lucy’s a young girl with a lot of dreams. Maybe she got tired of the desert and decided to go someplace where there’s something goin’ on.”
“Hell too. Lucy’s a cowgirl. She likes it here, ridin’ and breakin’ horses, workin’ cattle, ropin’ and brandin’.”
“Maybe she ran away with the rodeo.”
“With what? You never did find the son-of-a-bitch that stole her horse.”
“Yes I did!” He was tired of hearing about Lucy Handling’s damn horse. “But there wasn’t any proof it belonged to her.”
“Everyone knew that horse was hers.”
“Maybe they did. But it didn’t have any papers and it wasn’t branded.”
Hank took a drink of the coffee. “God that’s stout stuff,” he said and sat the cup on the table. “You really drink it this strong?”
“All the time.”
“She probably took off lookin’ for that guy that has her horse.”
“That’d be stupid.” Tom looked over to see what was keeping Sandy. He was ready to shove his mouth full of food, no matter how it tasted, so he wouldn’t have to talk to Hank about Lucy Handling.
Sandy poured two glasses of iced tea. Picking up two cloth napkins, she put them across her arm then picked up the glasses.
“Glad you’re back,” Tom said as she walked up to the table, “I’m getting hungry.”
“You don’t have to wait for me,” Sandy replied, as she sat the glasses on the table. She handed her husband one of the napkins and sat beside him.
“You don’t wrap it around his neck for him too?” Hank asked. “I think you have him spoiled.”
“I like spoiling him,” Sandy said smiling at Tom.
“Busy morning?” Tom asked, as he put the cloth napkin across his lap.
Sandy nodded. “It was kind of busy,” she said, parroting him. “I think every hunter in New Mexico came in this morning for Colton’s special and everyone of them complained about it.”
Tom took a drink of the tea. “He’s having it every day through the season or just opening day?”
“Every day from what I understand. If they come back.”
“Whether they complained or not, I hope they were good tippers.” Tom took a bite of the lasagna and frowned. “I wish Colton would hire a cook that knows how to cook.”
“Most of them tipped pretty good.” Sandy gently rubbed her knee against his. “Not too loud,” she said lowly, “he has hard enough time finding a cook around here.”
“Well, Pendarvis isn’t much of one,” Tom replied lowly.
“His dad’s a doctor, what do you expect? He could probably dissect it better then he cooks it.”
“Somebody needs to dissect it,” Hank piped up. “If my wife brought home meat like what Colton’s been serving around here, the last few months, I’d tell her to take it back. But the garlic bread ain’t too bad.”
Tom glanced back at him. “Yeah, it comes in a box. All he has to do is heat it up.”
Sandy shook her head. “Don’t you have something to do, Hank?”
“Not really,” Hank said and took a drink of his coffee.
Tom looked behind the counter at the office door, which was closed. “Where is Colton, or do I have to ask?”
“Hunting. It’s all he does these days.” Reaching up to her neck, Sandy checked a diamond, heart-shaped necklace; making sure it was still there. “Colton isn’t about to miss opening day. Although I don’t know what difference it makes; seems like the past few months he’s been hunting most every week.”
“Sandy,” Tom shook his head.
“I know, but he does.” She took a bite of her bread, looking at the door as the bell jingled and two men walked in. “Doesn’t look like Russ Sayles and Mitch Ihnen are out on opening day.” She started to get up from her chair.
Tom took hold of her arm. “Let Mildred get them. You’re on your break.”
Tom pushed his plate back. “I think this has to be the worst Colton’s ever had you serve in here. You have something else back there?”
“I’ll get us something else.” Sandy picked up the plates and went to the kitchen.
“How’s it goin, Hank?” Russ greeted, patting Hank on the back as he sat at the table next to him. “You’re not out hunting, Moratelli?”
“Some of us have to work. So why aren’t you?”
“Opening day, all the nuts are out there.” Russ answered, looking up at the counter at Mildred. He picked up a coffee cup, and raised it. “So when are ya ever going to find out what happened to Garrett Handling’s daughter?”
“We’ve been working on it.” Tom said, watching Mitch sit beside Russ. He acted like he’d been tipping a few.
“She’s not the only one that’s disappeared from what I hear at Zinggs,” Russ said.
“Only one I know of,” Tom said, as Sandy sat a plate of mashed potatoes and roast beef in front of him. “This looks a lot better.” He picked up his fork and took a bite, nodding. “Much better.”
“Ya aren’t workin’ very hard at it or you wouldn’t be in here, would ya?” Mitch snapped, slurring his words.
Tom put his fork down on his plate.
Sandy put her hand on his. “Tom.”
Tom looked at her then turned toward the men. “I’ve been all over this damn desert looking for that Handling girl. If you have any information, spit it out. If you don’t, then shut up.”
“What about Zingg’s girls that are missin’?” Mitch asked.
“They probably got tired of this hell-hole, packed it up and left town,” Tom said and took a drink of tea.
“What makes you think that?” Russ asked.
“What the hell is there around here, except for a bunch of cheap-asses that go into that flea-bit whore house that won’t give them five bucks to look at them?”
“That’s because most of them aren’t worth looking at,” Mitch blurted out, laughing. He slapped Russ hard on the back. “Can’t believe you, Moratelli! Calling our fine establishment here in town a whore house.”
“It wouldn’t be here in town, if I’d got here first,” Tom said. Looking at Sandy, he took a bite of the bread. “Ought to close the damn place down, then there wouldn’t be any more problems with it.”
“It’s just a tiny titty bar.” Mitch snorted through his nose as he laughed, slapping Russ hard on the shoulder.
“You hit me one more time like that and I’m gonna knock you on your ass,” Russ warned.
“With the sheriff sittin’ there?” Mitch asked, and laughed.
Mildred sat two glasses of water down hard on the table.
“If you’d ever go in there, Moratelli you’d know what I’m talking about. Hell my dog has tits big as most them girls,” Mitch continued.
“That’s ‘cause you won’t get the bitch spayed,” Hank spouted.
Tom looked at Sandy, who slightly shook her head that he shouldn’t engage in the conversation or comment any more about the strip club.
“You know,” Mildred said, putting her hand on Mitch’s shoulder as she stepped over beside him. “I may not be Colton, but I can still throw your drunk ass out of this place.”
Mitch looked up at her and smiled. “Mildred, I ain’t that drunk and you ain’t that big.”
“You may not think you’re that drunk, but it smells to me that you’ve been tippin’ a few this mornin’,” she said. “I think there’s a law against public intoxication, isn’t there, Tom?”
“Last I knew,” Tom answered taking a bite of his roast beef.
“Must be your air freshener you’re smellin’.” Mitch said. “I don’t smell nothin’.”
Mildred walked back behind the counter. I may not be bigger than you,” Mildred said reaching under the counter, “but this is.” She pulled out an over-under shotgun laying it across the counter, pointed in his direction. “Get out of here, Mitch. Go find someplace else to sober up.”
Mitch swallowed as he looked down the barrel of the shotgun. “Moratelli, you’re the law. Ain’t you gonna to do somethin’?”
Tom looked at Mildred with the shotgun then took a drink of his tea. “Nope.” He put his hand on Sandy’s. “If she pulls that trigger, I’m gonna shit.”
“Well I hope not, because I don’t want to have to clean up the mess.”
“Me or him?”
The bell jingled and the door slammed. Glancing over at the table, Tom saw that both Mitch Ihnen and Russ Sayles were gone. “You should have had the roast beef sandwich, Hank. It wasn’t too bad,” Tom said and finished his tea.
Mildred picked up a large plastic tub and walked over to Tom and Sandy’s table, sitting it on a table next to them. “I was just kidding around with Mitch, you knew that, didn’t you, Tom?”
Tom looked at her as he sat his glass on the table. “I was hoping. I don’t really think it’s necessary to have that thing in here. All you had to do was ask.”
“You were havin’ your dinner,” Mildred said, gathering their glasses, putting them in the tub.
“I wouldn’t have been if you’d squeezed that trigger.”
“Mildred, I can clean up,” Sandy said.
“I’m getting’ it.” Mildred picked up the plates.”
Tom noticed she wasn’t leaving, lingering at their table. “What is it?”
“Lucy Handling. You don’t really think she left do you?”
Tom shrugged. No, he didn’t really think so, but what could he say, he hadn’t been able to find her. “I don’t know,” he finally said. “I haven’t found anything to suggest anything different, unless you remember something she said that you haven’t told me?”
“I told you everything I know, Tom. But damn it! She wouldn’t just leave. Lucy loves this land and living out there on that ranch. She wouldn’t just take off.”
“And join the rodeo?”
“Rodeo, hell! She didn’t join no damn rodeo. And she wouldn’t go somewhere without saying something to her parents. She and Nancy are real close, they’re more like friends than mother and daughter. Lucy’s a responsible kid, you know her, she always has been.”
Tom shrugged. He didn’t know her. How was it that everyone in town expected him to know everyone? “Maybe she is. But I haven’t been able to find her, her body, her truck, or anyone who’s seen her.”
“She’ll show up. I’m tellin’ ya. She’ll show up,” Mildred said confidently. Picking up the tub, she looked at Sandy. “You goin’ home?”
“Kind of early isn’t it?” Sandy asked looking at the small, gold watch she wore.
“You might as well. It’s dead around here.” Mildred walked up to the counter, putting the tub on a cart. “I can handle it, go on home.” She threw a handful of silverware into the tub. “Katie ought a be coming in before too long. Her, along with that new gal.”
“I didn’t think she was starting until tomorrow evening?”
“Colton said she was starting this evening,” Mildred said. “He told me he went over everything yesterday afternoon with her. I’m only going to say one thing about her; she better show up dressed for the job.”
“What new gal’s that?” Tom asked.
“One of Nicole Zingg’s girls,” Sandy answered putting her hand under the table, which was covered by a red table cloth. “Colton hired her so that one of us doesn’t have to work a double shift.” She rubbed Tom’s leg under the table.
“A stripper’s going to wait tables.” Tom raised his eyebrows at the thought and shook his head. “That’ll last about thirty minutes. She gets a load of what real work’s like and she’ll be running back to Zingg’s.” Tom put his hand on Sandy’s under the table, looking at her, as he stopped her rubbing and she smiled.
Mildred, watching them, shook her head. “Yeah well, Colton’s the one who hired her. So I guess he thinks she’s going to work out.” She looked at Hank. “You need more coffee?”
“I’m fine,” Hank answered.
Standing, Tom took his wife’s hand. “I’ll give you a ride home.”
Tom walked into the police station. He glanced at the wall where a picture of the missing seventeen year old, blue eyed girl with long, blonde hair, wearing a white western hat, was pinned on a cork board. She had been missing four months and one week.
“Missed you at mayor’s meeting this morning,” the deputy said with a New York accent. He looked up at Tom from where he sat as his desk reading the morning paper.
“Really?” Tom picked up the morning mail lying on his desk. Leaning against the desk, he looked through it. “You know, Glen… I forgot.”
“You don’t seem too upset about missing it.”
“Upset. Why the hell would I be upset about missing that two-bit speech he gives every week?” Tom said not looking at him. “I figured you had it memorized by now, Glen. It’s always the same speech, every week. We need to write more tickets to help generate money.” He tossed an envelope in the trash. “We need new business in town and more people so the town will grow?” He tossed another envelope in the trash. “There’s never enough money, and it’s always our fault, because we don’t write enough damn tickets.” He tossed another envelope in the trash.
Glen frowned and nodded. “That about covers it.”
“So I didn’t really miss anything, did I?”
“Guess you didn’t.” Glen leaned back in his chair. He looked at Tom, his grey eyes watching as Tom tossed the remaining mail on his desk. “He never said anything about Lucy Handling this week or any of those other girls that’s disappeared.”
“That’s good.” Walking over to a small apartment size refrigerator, Tom took a cold bottle of water out of it. “You want one?”
“No thanks. So what do you think happened to them?”
Tom twisted the lid on the bottle. “Lucy Handling or those… working girls?”
“All of them.”
Tom shrugged and took a drink. “I don’t know about Handling, but the others high-tailed it out of here. Nothing’s happened to them.”
“You seem pretty sure about that.”
“Think about it. Why would they stay? They’re not making any money over there. I’ll bet if any one of them makes ten bucks a night she’s doin’ good. How much does a blow job cost?’
Glen shrugged, “I don’t know.”
“There’s nothing out here but desert, a very few businesses, which only carry the essentials to survive out here, and a bunch of cheap son-of-a bitches, why would they stay?”
“Yeah, well I like the hunting. You’ll stay until Kelly starts bitching about not having any place to shop, then you’ll be looking for a job someplace else, just like the others did.”
“How many deputies have you had?”
Tom nodded, thinking. “Since I’ve been here, you’re the fifth… sixth.”
“Sandy, she doesn’t… complain about not having any place to shop?”
“She doesn’t like shopping,” Tom said and took a drink of water.
“Is that normal? I didn’t think God ever created a woman that didn’t like to shop.”
Tom smiled. “Sandy’s special.”
Glen folded up the newspaper, offered it to Tom who declined, then tossed it in the trash. “There isn’t anyone around here that thinks Lucy Handling’s left town.”
“Hell I don’t know! How should I know?” Tom walked over to his desk. “The only ones who seen her the evening she disappeared were Mildred Chaplin and Colton Hornbaker, when she stopped in the café for a coke. They both agree that she was only there for about twenty minutes, than she left, saying she was headed home and that’s the last anyone’s ever seen or heard from her. That’s been four months ago.”
“Long time for a body not too show up.”
“Not out here,” Tom said and took a drink. “But what I can’t figure out is why I haven’t found her truck.” Looking at the mail, he sat the bottle on his desk, picked up an envelope and tore it open. “It’s a big desert.”
Glen smiled, “Maybe Frank Zingg has her.”
“Yeah, right,” Tom said as he pulled a letter out of the envelope and unfolded it. “You think he’s keeping her in the house for private entertainment with Nicole watching?” He sat on the corner of his desk reading the hand-written print.
“I don’t know, but -.”
“She isn’t up in front of a bunch of guys taking her clothes off or I’d have heard about that.” Tom tossed the envelope in the trash. Folding the letter, he put it in his shirt pocket.
Glen shrugged, “There’s been couples where the woman gets off watching her husband with someone else.”
“Not very many,” Tom replied taking off his watch. Turning it over, he looked at the back of it.
“Don’t think Sandy would get off watching you with some other woman, huh?”
“First of all, I wouldn’t do that to her,” Tom said putting his watch on. “And if Sandy walked in on something like that… Her little Irish temper would flare and… she’s a pretty good shot.”
Glen smiled. “Can’t say Kelly would get off on that either. Nice watch. I see ya look at the back of it every once in awhile.”
“Yeah, it is. Sandy gave it to me on our first Christmas. It’s a diamond and gold Rolex. She saved every extra buck she made to buy it. I remember when I opened it.” He shook his head remembering. “I wasn’t very happy she’d bought it.”
Glen shrugged, “Why?”
“We were barely scrapping by at the time. We hardly had enough to pay the rent. But she was so happy.” Tom swallowed. “I couldn’t be mad at her. I just... You can’t be mad at her very long for anything. Her heart’s always in the right place. She had an inscription put on the back of it, and every time something comes up…” Tom shrugged. “She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me, what can I say?”
“Even with her Irish temper?”
“I can handle it.” Tom smiled. “I gave her a spanking once and told her to grow up because she threw a fit over something stupid. It made her madder than hell.”
“So you were in the dog house huh?”
Tom shook his head. “It isn’t hard to make up with Sandy.”
“Just screw the hell out of her, she’ll get over it.”
Glen nodded. “The solution to everything.”
“Don’t knock it till you try it.”
“Yeah, well like you said, she’s a special gal.”
Tom nodded. “You don’t know half of it.”
“So what’d you get her on your first Christmas?”
“I… I’d bought this pistol,” Tom said, touching the gun on his side. “I didn’t have enough money for Christmas.”
“I thought you were barely scraping by?”
“Yeah, I know. I guess I was kind of an ass, wasn’t I? Mad at her for buying this,” he looked at the watch. “This Colt probably cost as much.”
“What’d she say about it?”
Tom looked at him. “She said… Sandy said she’d rather have me home safe every night than getting something for Christmas. And if I needed the gun, than that was fine.”
“Must have been some kind of Christmas?”
“Yeah, well… we went out and shot up every box of ammo I had, then we spent the rest of the day in bed. So I guess it worked out.”
Glen nodded, “The solution for everything.”
“I gotta go.” Tom walked toward the door.
“Where are ya goin’?”
“I have to check a couple of things. Lock up when you leave. I won’t be back before this evening.” As Tom started to open the door a short, scantily clad, young woman in her twenties with bright, blue eyes and long, bleach blonde hair entered.
“You’re Moratelli, the sheriff?” she asked, looking up at Tom.
“Looks like it, doesn’t it?” he said looking down at her. The light blue blouse she wore was unbuttoned down to her belly button, revealing her small, bare, breast. She was obviously one of Zingg’s girls and he thought about what Mitch Ihnen had said about his dog. “And you are?”
“What can we do for you, Ms. Brewer?”
“I need to report a missing person.”
“Girl I work with. She and I are roommates.”
Tom glanced up at the ceiling and took a deep sigh. Like he had time for this? “Where do you work?”
“Does it matter? She’s missing!”
“I work for Nicole Zingg, at The Club.”
“You’re a stripper?”
Marla crossed her arms in front of her. “What if I am?”
“Is that what your roommate does too?”
“She’s missing man! What does it matter what she does?” Marla asked, raising her voice.
“How do you know she’s missing? Maybe she hitched a ride out of town, shacked up with someone, or shot herself up with too much heroine and is laying out there dead somewhere?”
Marla frowned. She looked around then looked at Tom. “You cops are all the same. You think just because we strip that we hook and do drugs.”
Tom nodded, “That about covers it.” He motioned toward Glen. “Deputy Norman can take your information,” he said and walked out the door.
Marla looked at Glen. “You know, that guy -.”
“He’s really an ass,” Marla grumbled as she walked up to Glen’s desk.
“Seems to be a popular opinion,” Glen replied, and motioned for her to sit in a chair beside his desk.
Marla looked at the picture of Lucy Handling on the wall. “Why’s her picture up here? She wanted or something?”
“No, she’s missing too,” Glen answered, as he took a pad of paper from his desk drawer.
“There’s more than just her that’s missing.”
“I know.” Glen motioned to the chair. “Why don’t you have a seat and we can start with your friends name and a description of her?”
Marla sat in the chair looking at him. “Her name’s Chila Herendez.”
“She’s Mexican?” Glen asked as he wrote down the name.
Marla nodded as she moved the chair closer to him. “Yeah, but she’s lived here in the United States all her life. She isn’t illegal or anything. She moved here from Arizona.”
“How long as she been here?”
“I don’t know. Five, six months I suppose.” Marla smiled. “You’re new here aren’t you?”
“Sort of,” Glen answered jotting down the information. “My wife and I have only been here for a couple of months.”
“I’ve seen you around town a couple times, but I’ve never seen you in The Club.”
“Nor will you.”
“So? Most of our customers are.”
“I’m different than most of your customers,” Glen said. “When’s the last time you seen, Ms. Herendez?”
“Yesterday afternoon. She said she was starting a second job than she’d come to work at The Club after she got off from there.”
“Is that what you call it, The Club?”
“That’s the name of it,” she answered, running her fingers through her long hair.
“I didn’t know what it was called. So when did she disappear?”
“After two o’clock.”
“In the afternoon or morning?”
“Did she meet someone or -?”
“I don’t know. The last time I seen her, she was talking to that dude that owns most this town.”
“Yeah, I guess. I don’t get hung up on these guy’s names. I’m just a dancer. And I don’t do drugs or hook.”
“Why was she talking to Hornbaker?”
“Chila told me she was going to work for him as a waitress. If it worked out, and she could make enough, working both places, she planned on getting out of this place.”
“Did she leave with him?” Glen asked jotting down Hornbaker’s name.
“I don’t know,” Marla shrugged. “I seen her talking to him then I went to bed.”
“At two in the afternoon?”
“I was tired. I had a late night. But Chila wasn’t at The Club last night and she didn’t come home this morning.”
“Does she usually stay out all night?”
“Sometimes we get sleepovers, you know. But when she didn’t come to work, and then she wasn’t home this morning...” Marla shook her head. “I know somethin’ s wrong, Norman.”
“My name’s Glen. Norman’s my last name.”
“You said she was planning on leaving town. Are you sure she didn’t split without telling you?”
“No way,” Marla shook her head. “She’d told me if she was leaving. Her clothes, money, everything’s there, including her favorite shoes.”
“Yeah, she wouldn’t leave without those,” Glen commented thinking.
Marla frowned. “This is serious, man! She’s missing!”
“I know it is.” Glen put his hand on hers. “Believe me, I’m not making light of it. There are certain things people don’t leave behind when they take off.”
“I had to find a teen-age girl that ran away once. She took a stuffed dog with her that she’d had since she was a young girl.”
“Yeah, I’m serious. She said it made her feel secure.” Glen took his hand from hers and ran it back across his short, crew-cut, blonde head. “I’ll post this and talk to a few people. We’ll see what turns up. If you have a picture of her, that’d be helpful?”
Marla nodded as she stood. “I’ll get you a picture. Are you going to talk to that dude she was going to work for?”
“Yeah, I’ll talk to him. I appreciate you coming in. When something happens… you need to come and see us.”
Marla looked around the station. “I don’t think that sheriff, what’s his name?”
“Yeah, I don’t think he wants to see us.”
“Then you come and see me.”
“Yeah, all right. I’ll do that.”
Glen watched as she disappeared out the door. Looking at the picture of Handling on the cork board he shook his head. “I doubt very much if you’re alive. And no harder than what Tom’s looking for you, I guess he feels the same way,” he said out loud. “Like he said, it’s a big desert. But if you’re out there, I wish you’d give us some kind of sign.”
Entering the small house through the back door, Tom walked through the kitchen to a doorway, which entered straight into the living room or left into a bathroom, which also served as the laundry. Looking in the bathroom he saw Sandy batching clothes into piles on the floor. Barefoot, she was still dressed in the white blouse and black skirt she’d wore to work.
“Hi honey,” Tom greeted, as he walked into the bedroom, which was around the corner from the bathroom doorway. Taking off his gun belt, he laid it on the dresser then unzipped his uniform shirt. Taking it off, he tossed it into a basket beside the wall, than unbuckled his belt.
“Home already?” Sandy asked, walking around the corner from the bathroom. She leaned against the doorway and smiled as she looked at Tom in his shorts and tee shirt. “I love a man out of uniform.”
Unbuttoning her blouse, Sandy walked up to him. She stretched her five-seven up and kissed him. “Glad you decided to come home early.”
“I know you are. But I’m on tonight you know.”
“You have a few minutes,” Sandy said as she slipped off her blouse, tossing it on top of his uniform, she kissed him.
“That’s why I’m here,” he said between her kisses, “to take care of you first.” He unfastened her bra strap. “I don’t want you getting lonely, and I kind of thought you needed a little attention this evening.”
“What gave you that idea?” she asked, unzipping her skirt, as Tom pulled her over to the bed.
“If you’d got your hand any higher on my leg under that table, you’d been rubbing my balls,” he answered, sitting on the edge of the bed looking at her.
“They have table cloths.” Sandy giggled, sliding down her skirt and panties.
Tom pulled her closer to him. “I’m know they do, but I don’t need to stand up with a hard on.” He buried his face in her breast, kissing her as she ran her fingers through his hair.
“You’re going to take off your shirt and shorts aren’t you?” she asked, moving on top of him as they moved up on the bed.
“You want me too?”
She kissed him as she reached down into his shorts, rubbing his dick. “Yeah, I want you too.”
“That’s what I like about you,” Tom said as he took off his t-shirt. “You don’t waste time, or words.”
“I really thought you liked something else about me.” Kissing him, she moved down to his chest, continuing to kiss him as she moved down to his groin.
“I like that too. Good thing you weren’t under the table doing that.”
“That’s the midnight special.”
“Glad you close at nine or you’d never get home.” Tom took her hand and pulled her up to him, then rolled her over and moved on top of her as she cradled him between her legs. “Is this what you want?” he asked, sliding inside her.
“Oh yeah. Oh god, Tom. You feel so good.” She braced her feet on the bed, pushing her hips up against him, working with him, moaning as the springs under the bed squeaked.