He didn’t write it down; that would have looked like he believed her. But Tremain found that, unconsciously, he was counting the days until Liz’s alleged victim would wake up. It was just a coincidence, there was no way she was as good with the drug she used to actually dose someone accurately. Still, he checked with the hospital a few times a day, despite their promises to alert him as soon as there was any change.
In any case, three days isn’t very long to wait. Unless you’re the one doing the waiting.
The bomb team had gone through Tremain’s apartment, followed by the bug sweepers and even a guy from forensics who wanted to play with a fancy new spectrograph analyzer or whatever it was he said. It was supposed to show up any traces of human interference. All three teams came up clean, not even finding anything to make fun of Alan for. So they teased him for that. His house was neat, tidy, and uncluttered. “You need a wife and kids to make the place look lived in,” the forensics guy said. “At least smear some grape jelly on the arm of the sofa. It’s just not natural.”
But, natural or not, they didn’t find anything to worry about, so the next night Alan slept in his own bed. The third night after he was assigned to the Liz case he lay in his bed, but didn’t sleep. He kept looking at his phone, not expecting it to ring, but wondering if it were going to ring. Of course he didn’t believe it, but it was possible…
the phone rang. “Detective Tremain? Your patient is awake.”
“I’ll be there in fifteen. Thank you, nurse. How his he?”
“Groggy. He’s looking around a little and has accepted some juice, says his mouth is dry.”
“Okay, thank you, let me know if he says anything else. On my way.”
Vincent Davis wasn’t a large man, at five foot eight he was a little shorter than Tremain, but he was built along smaller lines. He had dark hair, and after three days his goatee wasn’t as neatly trimmed as he normally wore it. Also, after three days in a hospital bed his tan was starting to fade. his natural skin color was a light olive shade once the effects of the tanning bed and bronzer wore off. Basically, nobody is at there best in a hospital.
His dark eyes looked up incuriously when Tremain walked in. “Hello Detective,” he said, his voice oddly detached, and yet still seeming sllightly amused.
“Hello, Vincent. It’s good to see you awake.”
Vince just nodded.
“I’d like to talk to you about how you got here. Have the nurses told you what’s going on?”
Vince smiled weakly. “They don’t know what’s going on. But what do you want to know? I don’t remember much.”
“Do you remember being attacked?”
Vince shook his head. “The last thing I remember was coming home from work. I opened the door to my apartment and the next thing I remember is being here.”
Tremain stood breathing quietly for a moment, trying not to grind his teeth. “Do you know someone named Liz?” he asked, and described her as best he could from the descriptions he had been given. Again, Vince smiled weakly. “Yeah, I know Liz. We don’t have what you’d call a healthy relationship. And anyway I haven’t seen her since…since…”
“Was that her name? Little brunette girl? Yeah, since her.”
“Do you happen to remember Liz’s last name? Or Jenny’s last name?” It was a long shot.
Vince just laughed weakly. “I didn’t even remember Jenny’s first name, what do you think? And no, I never knew Liz’s last name. She was just my girlfriend’s annoying roommate until…”
“Until she beat you up?”
“Is that what she said happened? Naw, it wasn’t like that. I was pretty messed up on….I wasn’t feeling well, and when she got home I guess I’d been pretty rough with Jenny. Don’t look like that. she liked rough treatment. Anyway I guess I’d gone too far, because next thing I know Liz is taking Jenny out the door to the hospital. Somehow Jenny’s arm got broken. That was the last time I saw either of them. I woke up the next morning in their crappy little trailer and when nobody brought any food home that night I went home.”
“I,” Detective Tremain told himself, “am a professional. I do not get emotionally involved in things like this. I will not berate or harm a source of information, especially in a hospital.” Instead he counted to ten and said “How long ago was this?”
Vince shrugged. “Six months? I guess? I dunno man, It’s not like I wrote it down in my journal.”
Tremain nodded. “Okay. Do you know the address of the trailer?”
Vince didn’t know an address, but he gave a pretty good description and direction. Tremain thanked him and walked out the door. Once in the hall he asked the officer on duty, “how much of that did you hear?”
“All of it, Detective, like you asked.”
“Good. Keep our boy here until the police decide he’s clear to go, then take him downtown. We’ll probably have a few more questions for him once he’s put back together. I’m gonna go follow up on the one lead I’ve got.”
The trailer park didn’t deserve the name. Three trailers surrounded by the remains of a fence out in the middle of the desert with one electrical connection shared between the three. There was a noisy pump in the middle of the “park” and some really rough pipework running to the three trailers. The place was just about as off-the-grid as you could get, because the grid didn’t want it.
One of the trailers stood dark and empty, the other two had lights on as Tremain rolled up. One of the lit trailers had the word “manager” spray-painted on the side and a bunch of noisy kids playing outside, so Tremain knocked on that door.
The “Manager” turned out to be a harrassed, sunken-eyed woman with long, greasy hair and another baby on her arm. She definitely remembered Liz and Jenny.
“Yeah, Jenny and her little angry friend. Jenny was a sweet girl.”
“Do you remember either of their last names?”
“Jenny…I want to say Richards. Yeah, that sounds right, Jenny Richards.She’s the one that always paid the rent, so I remember her name. They were the last ones to rent that trailer right over there.”
“The empty one? Mind if I take a look around?” Tremain asked. “Without a warrant,” he didn’t add.
“Nah, go ahead. Why? Is someone in trouble?”
“We found Jenny’s old boyfriend, Vince.”
The manager’s face darkened at the mention of Vince. “Yeah? well, if you’re looking for evidence against him go right ahead.” She grabbed a keyring off a hook by the door. “Here’s the key.”
Inside the trailer was a disaster. A low coffee table lay split in half, the cheap IKEA paper unable to hold up to whatever had been thrown down on it. A futon on one wall was covered in clothing and fast food wrappers. The sink was full of dishes and teh smell of the place said that even in the desert things had stayed wet enough to rot. The only clean place in the entire front room was the dining table. The only thing on that table was an envelope…
With his name on it.
Impatiently he pulled the letter out of the envelope and laid it flat on the table. He snapped a picture of it with his phone and sent it to headquarters, along with a request for a forensics team to get out to his location, with a warrant if possible. And then he sat down on a chair that didn’t quite collapse under him and read what Liz had to say now.
Hey Alan, how’s it going?
If you’re reading this Vince is awake and lying. But at least he gave you this address. He’s not good for much, but at least he did that right. he probably told you about Jenny too. Listen, Jenny’s fine, I told you that a while ago. You don’t need to worry about her. What you should be worrying about is Jenny’s first roommate in this trailer. I found out about this first roomate yesterday, when I called Jenny to tell her what I did to Vince.
“Did you kill him?” she asked me, which is weird for her.
“No, I killed the demon in him.”
“Liz, he didn’t have a demon in him, he was a demon. You should have killed him”
“I can’t do that now, Jenny, I’m an Angel” I told her, but she still doesn’t believe me. She plays along though. “If you’re an Angel, Lizzie, be an avenging angel and get rid of Vince.” She said and the she told me that Vince used to date her roommate, and that he killed her. And then he moved on to Jenny.
So here’s what I want you to do, detective. Walk out the door, walk around to the back of the trailer, and walk 100 feet out into the desert. Then start digging. but use a spade, you’re not going very deep.
I’m leaving Vince in your hands, Detective. See what you can find out about Vince’s poor girl. P.S. the manager never knew me; she only knew the girl you’re about to meet.
Also Jenny knows you’re going to call. She’s willing to talk to you, but be gentle with her; she’s had a bad life.
I’m glad you’re sleeping in your own bed again, Detective. Don’t worry; your home is your castle, and it won’t be violated.
See you soon, talk to you whenever,
Tremain read the letter and his phone started ringing. It was HQ and apparently they had just finished it as well.
“WE just put two more guards on Vincent’s room, and we’ve got a forensics team with lights and sirens on their way to you. They’re excited, they never get lights and sirens. They’ll be there soon Detective.”
And then Detective Tremain walked out into the desert where he really hoped he wasn’t going to find Jenny’s body.