SYNOPSIS: Jason Franco is an aspiring novelist stuck in a dead-end job working for a newspaper in a small town where nothing exciting happens until someone rapes and murders a young woman only eighteen years old. All evidence points to the woman's boyfriend who confesses to the crime. Jason is assigned to write a follow-up story for the paper and soon suspects that the local police are covering up for one of their own. Jason enlists the help from a high school classmate who works at the state crime and the two soon fall in love. Jason and his girlfriend, Tina, follow the leads, and Jason finds himself a target for the rapist turned murderer. An attempt on Jason's life puts him in the hospital as the alleged rapist commits suicide. An unexpected turn of events put Jason back in the cross hairs of a different killer.
Javier Radcliffe, Art Rudd's Best Friend
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
A Korean woman approached Javier and kissed him. “Hello, honey,” she said with an accent and sat down.
Javier laughed. “This is the main reason Art and I stopped being friends. This is my wife, Chin-sun. Chin, this is…I’m sorry, I forgot your name.”
Jason stood. “Jason. Jason Franco. I’m a reporter from the Torrington Star-Gazette.”
Chin smiled and shook hands. “How you do? You write story about Javier? He from Torrington,”
Javier interrupted. “No. He’s asking about Art.”
Chin frowned. “Don’t care for that man.” Chin reached over and cut Javier’s hamburger in half. Then she took half and put it on a napkin. She returned the top bun to Javier’s plate and helped herself to a few fries.
“Chin and Art don’t get along. I met Chin in Korea. She was a teacher. We met in Taekwondo class. She doesn’t approve of drinking.”
Something about the way Javier stressed the word 'teacher' that made Jason believe that he was lying. Maybe Chin was an ex-prostitute.
Jason noticed that Jason didn’t mention whoring this time. “Are you and Art black belts?”
“No. I’m a brown belt and Art is still brown too. Chin is third degree black belt. She can kick my ass and yours at the same time.”
Chin smiled. “You better believe it.”
Jason started to eat his salad. “Did Art ever get into trouble with the law before the Army?”
Javier laughed. “Are you kidding? Art has no rap sheet if that’s what you mean. High was like his guardian angel. He protected him. The Army won’t enlist anyone with a record.”
Jason shook his head. “But he had issues, right?”
Javier thought for a moment. “Yeah, I guess. Something happened to him when he was very young. Both his parents were killed. He never talked about it other than to say that they abused him.”
“Did Art have a girlfriend?”
“Not that I recall. He had the knack of pissing off every girl he ever met.”
“You should say that again,” chimed in Chin.
“You could say that,” corrected Javier.
“Whatever,” answered Chin. “That man a culvert. No girl like him.”
“Pervert,” corrected Javier. “You mean pervert, not culvert.”
“Okay, honey. Please go buy me coke. I forget my purse.”
Javier got up to buy a drink for Chin. Chin leaned closer to Jason. “Sometimes my husband is a pain in the butt. I know Art. He used to beat up hookers. He evil man. He give me the creeps.”
Javier came back with a coke for Chin and sat back down.
“I couldn't help but notice your knuckles,” said Jason. “Art's knuckles looked that way too. What's that from?”
Javier held out his hands palms down and looked at them. “Knuckle push-ups. We do them in TaeKwonDo. It toughens up the knuckles. Now it's a habit. I always do push-ups on my knuckles.”
Jason didn’t get the type of information he wanted on Art. He was looking for psychopathic behavior. He wasn't sure if beating up prostitutes is psychopathic behavior. He felt that Javier was trying to protect his old friend even though he said that they were no longer friends. As soon as Javier and Chin left, Jason called Tina to let her know he was on the way there. Jason was tired after driving from Torrington to Denver and back again to Cheyenne, but the thought of seeing Tina and making love excited him awake. Tina was anxious to hear what Jason learned from Javier and to share her news.
Jason updated Tina on his interview with Javier. That took all of five minutes. “Well, I’m disappointed that Javier didn’t help much,” said Tina. “But I may have found something.” She laid a map on the coffee table. “The serial rapist isn't a truck driver.” Tina pointed to the map. “I plotted the locations of each rape on this map.”
Jason studied the map for a minute. “Holy shit!” He started measuring distances with his fingers.
“I already did that. The farthest points are less than two hundred miles apart.”
“So if the rapist lived in the center, he could drive one hundred miles easily and return the same night.”
“Correct. It’s a local guy. Probably lives in Wyoming.”
Jason sat back and looked at the map. “So he could live in Cheyenne, Torrington, Laramie, or any number of smaller towns. That narrows it down to eastern Wyoming and parts of the adjacent states.”
“Maybe even a farmer in the middle of no where.” Tina handed Jason a printout. “Zac sent me the list of sexual predators. We eliminated the homosexuals.”
Jason looked over the long list of names and addresses. “How do we narrow this list down further?”
“I’ve been working on that. We checked on military and medical training. We ended up with two names.” Tina handed a rap sheet to Jason.
Jason looked at the rap sheet and read out loud, “Theodore McPherson was a medic in the Army. Discharged in 1993. Worked for an ambulance service in Cheyenne. Convicted of rape in '94. He and another driver raped an unconscious patient they were transporting. He ratted on his partner for a lighter sentence. Served eight years. Still lives in Cheyenne.”
Tina handed Jason a second rap sheet. “Read this one. He’s my top suspect.”
Jason read the rap sheet out loud. “Rex Gilmore. He was a drill sergeant in the Army. Court Martialed for having sex with his recruits. Served ten years at Fort Leavenworth. Paroled in 1999. Nothing since then.” Jason looked at Tina with raised eyebrows.
“Look at his address,” said Tina.
Jason found the address. “Holy shit! He lives in Torrington. It’s what? Maybe nine or ten blocks from the Littlefield house. WTF. He’s my number one too.” Jason put down the rap sheet and looked at Tina. “You know, I haven't talk to many rape victims,” said Jason. “I should probably talk to a few to get their perspective.”
“Then you should talk to Dyanna,” replied Tina.
“What? When? You didn’t tell me she was a rape victim.”
“Yeah. It didn't come up in conversation. It happened when she was a freshman at Wyoming. She doesn’t like to talk about it. That why she volunteered so fast to help us.”
“Do you think she’ll let me interview her?”
“You? Yes. Just wear tight jeans.”