Search is loosely based on a real incident. The incident remains, the story is greatly different.
Enjoy. And remember, it’s still a work in progress. These chapters are rough drafts. I’ve completed twenty-seven chapters so far and it seems I’ll complete the novel this time. We’ll see.
Read Search Chapter 5
Dykstra drove to Norris Point on Cobbosseecontee Lake and stopped a few curves in. A Maine State Police car was visible on the side of the road blocking access to a recently walked path through the woods. The Point was shaped like a grasping hand and the path went out towards the thumb. A Maine State Police officer walked back up the thumb and over to his car.
“You’re a little out of your jurisdiction, aren’t you, sergeant?”
Dykstra read the officer’s tag. “Morelli? We got a call about an abandoned car somewhere out here. What are you doing here?”
Morelli snorted little steam jets into the cold, Maine winter air. “Well, ain’t that at tickler. We got the same call. Must be important for a desk sergeant to make the trek. You didn’t send uniforms?”
“Do I know you?”
“You didn’t answer my question and last time I checked, MSP outranks local authorities.”
“Sorry, didn’t expect to see anybody out here. Caught me by surprise. What did you find?”
A middle-aged man wearing wool pants, heavy, calf-high boots, and a parka sloshed up the path, three cameras tightly strapped to his parka and one with a telephoto so large it bashed against him like a loose limb in a storm. “Got all I need, Tony.”
Dykstra looked past Morelli. “You’re Harding, right? With the ‘Journal, right? What pictures did you get?”
Morelli shook his head at Harding.
Harding shrugged and got in Morelli’s state police cruiser.
Dykstra nodded towards him. “What’s he doing here?”
“His job. You?”
“I don’t want a pissing contest, Morelli.”
“Good. Neither do I and I got this covered. Appreciate your help and all. Ask your chief to call my OIC if he wants to see the report.”
Dykstra turned his squad around and drove off. Once he could no longer see Morelli, Harding, or the state cruiser in his rearview he grabbed his mike. “Yeah, I need you to make a call for me, and I need it to be a private conversation. Can you do that?”
Morelli watched Dykstra drive off. Harding got out of the cruiser and Morelli held up his hand. He closed his eyes tight and bowed his head as if in prayer.
Harding waited then cleared his throat. “Funny time to get religion.”
Morelli opened his eyes and chuckled. “Listening. Want to make sure he drove off and hasn’t doubled back.”
Harding gazed down the road. “You listen good, Kimosabe. Dykstra bad medicine.”
“Yeah, but nobody’s caught him doing anything.”
“Keep looking. Something’ll come up. Let me know when you do. Love to be taking the exclusives.”
Morelli nodded up towards the thumb. “The plates are missing and somebody pulled the vehicle ID. We’ve already had heavy snows and if it wasn’t for this warmup, this car would still be buried.”
Harding pulled a DayTimer out of a pocket and flipped some pages. “These camps closed in what, September? October the latest? My guess is they towed it here after these camps were closed for the season. Otherwise the summerers would’ve seen this new trail all broken through and reported it.”
“Which means they also knew when people’d come back to open their camps in late May. Late Spring, anyway. Things’d be grown out by then, the trail gone and the car worthless for forensics. Whoever did this knew what they were doing.”
“Yeah, but leaving this trail? Big mistake. Some kids or somebody hunting out of season would find this and report it.”
“Which begs the question, who reported it?”
Morelli shook his head. “No idea. I just follow orders. “How long until we get pictures?”
“The black&whites you’ll have by the end of the day. The coloreds’ll take a while. Maybe two if I tell the lab to rush them.”
“Tell the lab to rush them.”
Gio sat at his desk staring out the window at the marsh behind his dorm, a two-story house on the edge of campus converted into student housing. The snow remained in patches. This close to the ocean, even the heaviest snows melted away in a few days.
There was little backyard, room enough for a rotary clothesline and a picnic table. Close beyond that, bullrushes and swamp grasses dominated the view. Some elms and birches sheltered the dorm from nearby traffic. A light breeze rustled the few, brown leaves still on the trees. Two marsh rabbits cut across the yard, stopped halfway, stood up, sniffed, their short ears moving, listening, then hurried on. Swamp-sparrows and water-thrush chattered back and forth. A raven landed in the nearer elm. Its weight bobbed the limb and knocked the remaining snow off.
“Should you be here? Don’t you guys migrate in winter? Somewhere warm?”
The raven fluffed its wings, turned its head, and stared at him.
The raven shimmered. Gio heard his Grandfather. “Guarda attraverso i suoi occhi. Prestito. Cosa vedi?” See through its eyes. Borrow. What do you see?
Gio’s focus went soft. He felt the wind lift him, carry him to the raven, enter it. His arms grew into wings. His feet transformed into talons, his hair into feathers.
“The precision of his eyesight is amazing, Grandpa.”
“Cosa vedi?” What do you see?
The Gio-raven looked down. A plop in the water. A harlequin duck, male. It looked up at him and smiled.
The raven took to the air, flew over the harlequin, headed north.
The harlequin lifted from the pond and followed the raven. Gio watched until they were both out of sight, over the trees, beyond the campus. He stared out his window. The scent of cloves cigarettes surrounded him.
“Orologio. Guarda. Stai attento. Ricorda. Ascolta.” Watch. Look. Be careful. Remember.
Several students assembled across campus in Shepherd Hall North’s third floor corner room. Tall and lean Tom Askins, deep voiced, auburn-haired, and pallid-faced, sat in their center. He motioned to a student standing by the room’s lone window. “Pull the drapes, Steve.” The room darkened. The only light came from a banker’s green-shaded lamp on the desk built into the prefab dorm room’s structure. Askins looked around him and nodded at familiar faces. “Is this it? Everyone here?”
Others looked around the small, single, dorm room. Some leaned against the closet, also built into the prefab structure, others against walls. Two boys stood on either side of an unregulation bureau and rested an arm on its top, careful not to knock over makeup and a small jewelry box. A few sat cross-legged on the floor, their faces turned up to hear Askin’s words. Some sat on the bed, another prefab artifact built against a wall.
Petite, raven haired, and with eyes like liquid obsidian, Laurie Chavez knocked on the door frame.
The boys in the room took a long look at Laurie, silhouetted in the doorway by the hall light, the purpose of their meeting lost for a moment. Girlfriends flared their nostrils, inhaled sharply, cleared their throats. The boys brought their attention back to the center of the room.
Askins quickly stood and opened his mouth as if to speak. Instead he cleared his throat, brushed his pant legs, and slowly took his seat. “No thanks, Laurie. We don’t need this room cleaned now.”
“I’m not working, I’m curious.”
Askins stared at her and smiled. “Good. Would you please close the door, Laurie?”
She shook her head and crossed her arms. Long black hair gathered on her shoulders like storm clouds, her eyes sparked like lightning against dark, Central American skin. “It’s open dorm. You can’t close the door. Or men can’t be in here with the door closed. There’s already too many people in this room. You know the rules.”
Askin’s lips tightened. “I don’t think the housemother will mind once she knows what we’re doing. Besides, Ramsey is a Christian school and we’re all good Christians here, aren’t we?”
Some of the gathered students nodded, some grunted, some went “uh-huh”, and some did a combination of all three. A few looked around nervously and rubbed their hands together as if cold.
“You’re free to leave if you’re uncomfortable, Laurie.”
She shook her head again. “I want to hear what you have to say.”
A frail boy with glasses and acne pushed past Laurie and closed the door. He pushed past her a second time to get closer to Tom and the center of the room and she pulled away from him as if he rang a bell announcing his leprosy.
Askins stood up. “Merl. That was rude.”
The frail, acne faced boy’s face blanched. “What? What did I do?”
Laurie straightened her sleeves and brushed her blouse as if brushing away dinner crumbs. “Don’t worry about it.”
Tom sat once again, looked around the room, and smiled. “Good. Now that we’re all here, what are we going to do about the problem of John Chance?”
(continue to Chapter 7)