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.
Sylvester “Sy” Vaugh, Mechanic
Monday, August 3, 2015
Monday morning Zac was monitoring the police scanner. The scanner was on 24-7. Jason was used to it and mentally tuned it out. Zac was new, so he caught the call immediately. “Jason, come listen to this.”
Jason rushed over closer to the scanner to hear better. The scanner was monitoring a broad cast from the State Police to check an accident outside of town on the road to Lingle. An ambulance was on the way. A green Camry was off the road and was on fire.
“Didn’t Paulo say he was going to Lingle today?” asked Zac. “And doesn’t he have a green Camry?”
Sean heard the call from his office and ran into the room. “Jason, why don’t you check it out? Take Zac with you.”
By the time Jason and Zac got to the accident site, the Fire Department had the fire out, and the EMS had a body in the ambulance. Jason parked his car and he and Zac rushed over to the embankment. Down below they saw a highway patrol officer taking measurements and pictures. They climbed down.
“What happened?” Jason asked the patrolman.
The officer shrugged his shoulders. “Not sure. We’re still trying to determine that. It appears that the driver lost control and drove off the road. The car caught fire and the driver was burned to death. No passengers.”
“Have you identified the driver?”
“Yeah, we ran the plates. Are you a reporter?”
“I'm with the Star-Gazette.” Jason held up his credentials.
“Oh, Mr. Franco. Yeah, I know who you are. I can't tell you the name until we notify the next of kin. In fact, I shouldn't be talking to you.”
Zac looked at the license plates. “It's Paulo's car.” He took his cellphone and started taking pictures.
Jason was stunned. He tried not to show it on his face. He didn’t like the way the patrolman said he knew him. He didn’t like what he was seeing. He continued to ask routine questions for the news, but his heart wasn’t in it. The one guy he worked hard to free was now dead.
As Jason and Zac climbed up to the road, as a tow truck pulled up. Jason recognized Sylvester Vaughn. “Hey, Sy.”
Sy shook Jason’s hand. “Are the police done down there?”
“Highway patrol. The driver was killed.”
“Oh shit. How?”
“The police don’t know. Seems he drove off the road.”
Sy shook his head. “Probably tried to dodge a deer or antelope. We get that along this stretch. I need to take a look.”
Jason followed Sy over to the edge of the shoulder and looked down upon the scene of the accident.
Sy shook his head. “Not much damage except for the fire. Look. The front end is hardly damaged. He couldn’t have been going very fast. That’s unusual. Maybe he was drunk.”
Jason looked at the front end of the car and agreed that it wasn't smashed up as much as one expect with high speed. “Not likely. We think it was Paulo McAdams.”
Sy turned and paced down the road several feet, examining the road and shoulder. “No road kill. No skid marks.” He pointed down the road. “It's possible that the wind blew the car off the road. See that cut there? Cars coming down the road at seventy come up out of the cut, and a cross wind hits them.”
Jason shook his head. “Would it be strong enough to push the car off the road?”
“Yeah. It catches the drivers by surprise.” Sy turned around and looked at the undamaged guard rail. It extended several feet in front of a bridge across a stream. “That's odd though.”
“Well, several years ago the highway department added a longer guardrail and bent it back at the end. See that?” Sy pointed at the guardrail. “They did that so car doing seventy that gets pushed over by the cross winds would hit the rail and bounce back onto the road. This car didn't hit it.”
“I'm not following you.”
“That car would have to be going slow to miss the car rail. Couldn't have been twenty five, maybe less. I'll know more after I haul the car up.”
“How about calling me when you’ve had a chance to look over the car?”
“Sure thing. Maybe tomorrow.”
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