Saturday, March 26, 2011

Anasazi Strip - chapter 25 - Part II

Jason guessed that Saunders was a soldier of fortune, a professional killer, and able to get his hands on machine guns.

"Looks like we're not the only ones with trouble around here anymore, Sheriff." It was Deputy Mutz standing in the doorway.

Jason looked up from the notes he had taken over the course of the last several hours. "Oh yeah? What's up?"

"I just talked to a friend of mine on the Cedar City police force, and he said they have a homicide up there that's got 'em really scratching their heads."

"What happened?"

Tom was a tall, bearded man who always seemed to know the latest gossip. "My buddy was too busy to tell me very much about it. He just said it was a strange one – maybe a murder. They’re not sure yet. Do you want me to call Caleb back and try and get some more details?"

Jason shook his head. "Nah, that's okay, Tom. I'll check it out myself. I need to talk to Sheriff Smoot anyway."

"Sure, Sheriff, you can probably find out more than I can anyway."

"Cedar City reminds me. Where's that number we got this morning for Linda's boyfriend?"

"I've got it in on my desk. You want it?"

"If you don't mind," said Jason impatiently.

He dialed Professor Jarvis’ number. The phone rang eight times before being picked up by a man who sounded out of breath. "Jarvis residence, may I help you?"

"Yes, I'd like to speak to Professor Jarvis, please."

"Who's calling?"

"This is Sheriff Pratt, from Fredonia."


"Yeah? Who's this?”

“It’s Barry Smoot. What the hell are you calling this number for?”

Jason was already kicking himself in the ass for not having called the number sooner, because it was now obvious to him that Professor Ken Jarvis was dead.

"Well, it's kind of a wild story, Barry. But the long and short of it is, I'm calling because I thought I should talk to the Professor about the murders we had down here this past week."

"I see," replied Sheriff Smoot in a tone of voice that made it clear he didn't. "What did Jarvis have to do with your two dead Paiutes?"

"We have a secret witness to the second murder, but I'm afraid we blew it. It looks like the killer somehow got hold of the license number on her truck and then used it to get her phone number. He called the woman's house yesterday and talked to her roommate. He made up some cock-and-bull story about how he worked with the lady. The roommate had no reason to suspect that he wasn't on the up-and-up, so she gave him the number of the woman's boyfriend."

"Professor Ken Jarvis," said Sheriff Smoot.

"You got it."

"Well, I'll be damned. So that means we're looking at a homicide, and not a suicide. To be honest with you, we weren't sure what the hell we had."

"Why's that, Barry?"

"Jarvis didn't show up for his classes yesterday, and he didn't answer his phone, either. No one thought too much about it until today, when he still didn't make it to his classes. Someone from the Earth Sciences Department went over to his house, and when no one answered the door, he got in touch with the landlord, who came by with a key to the place. They went inside and found Professor Jarvis sitting stone cold dead at his desk. He had died from an overdose of heroin."

"Heroin?" exclaimed Jason.

"That's right. We found a small vial by the body, along with a used needle. There was no sign of struggle, nothing had been stolen, and everything appeared to be normal. The only fingerprints belonged to the victim. We figured it had to be a suicide, but there was no note, so maybe the guy accidentally overdosed. That seemed reasonable enough until we started talking to his friends. They all swore that Jarvis didn't do drugs of any kind. So that left us with the possibility that he had fooled all of his friends into believing that he was straight, or, he was murdered and the killer hoped to trick us into believing that Jarvis had killed himself. Up until you called, we had absolutely no motive for any of this."

"The murderer was using the professor to get at our witness."

"You sure of this, Jason?"

"I'm gonna be honest with you, Barry. A lot of this is speculation. But it adds up. If I'm right, then we're both looking for the same man. And I also know our suspect's name."

"Really? Who is he, Jason?"

"A former American mercenary by the name of B.T. Saunders, who now lives in Hurricane. Give NCIC a call and check out his file. It makes for real interesting reading. He served time at The Point a couple years back on a felony count."

"Something to do with drugs?" asked the Utah Sheriff.

"You got it. They popped him with a kilo of heroin. This guy is a professional killer, and the Indians were pothunting for him. Maybe they were double-crossing him. Or maybe it was the other way around. But either way, he murdered them both. The first time, he killed at a crowded bar on a Friday night, and nobody saw a thing. In the second case, he choppered into an isolated canyon with the victim, and then blew his head off in front of a pothunted site. That's the one our our witness saw. And now her boyfriend turns up dead from an overdose of heroin. So what do you think, Barry, are we dealing with coincidence here? Or are we both working on the same case?"

"It sounds to me like were in this thing together, old buddy."

"I was planning on paying a visit to Saunders' house in Hurricane later tonight."

"You figuring he'll be there?"

"I don't know, Barry. But before I go over there I want to get a search warrant so we can have a look around. I'll see Judge Cram in a few minutes. And as soon as I get the warrant, I'm rolling, Barry. I want this guy so bad I can taste him."

"I want to be with you when you go after this sonofabitch. And it is out of your jurisdiction, being Utah and all."

"The more firepower we have, the better I'll feel. I plan to take a whole SWAT team with me when I go, 'cause this could get real dangerous, real fast, Barry."

"Technically, since the house is in Utah, I should be running the show, but this is really your baby, Jason, and it would take me hours to get a warrant and mobilize my men. So, I’m gonna let you lead. This kind of crap might go on in the big cities, but it'll be a cold day in hell before I sit back and watch it spread into my community. It ends right here."

"What say we meet at the Hurricane City Park in three hours? I'll be responsible for the backup, you just bring yourself."

"I'll be there at nine, Jason."

Jason hung up the phone and spoke out loud. "How about you, Saunders? Where are you going to be?"

Before leaving for Hurricane, Jason picked up the phone and called Dwayne to warn him that Linda Joyce's whereabouts might no longer be a secret.

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