Authors: Victor Methos
In the morning, Richard woke up
after what must’ve been no more than two hours of sleep. He felt dizzy and weak, as if he’d been drinking all night or had the flu. In the bathroom, he kept urinating outside the bowl and thought about wiping it up with toilet paper. But it was Saturday; the maids would be coming that day.
Let them clean it up.
He hopped into the shower and nearly fell asleep with his head leaned against the wall. He forced himself awake
then slapped his face a couple of times.
After his shower, he went downstairs to have breakfast by himself and think.
All he had to do was think everything through. But without sleep, he didn’t believe he was doing very well at it. He decided to pick up some Ambien from his doctor.
On his way to
the kitchen, he saw something outside the living room windows—flashing lights. He walked up to the windows and looked out. Several police cruisers were barreling toward his house. One slammed on its brakes in front, and three officers jumped out.
Richard sprinted to the back of the house. He had a gun and cash upstairs but no time to get them. He could get the money from the safe deposit box anyway. He was almost to the back door when he realized he needed his keys and ID to get into the safe deposit box. He ran back to the kitchen and grabbed them just as someone pounded on his front door.
He ran out
to the back. His backyard was encircled by a high fence with only one locked gate, and no officers had made their way over it yet. Richard raced across the yard and jumped over the fence, falling onto his face into his neighbor’s yard.
He dashed across the yard
and into another neighbor’s yard then went in the opposite direction of his house. Running on the pavement, he felt pain in his feet and realized he wasn’t wearing any shoes.
Never heard any sirens. In the movies, they always turned their sirens on.
The street he was on wound up a hill then came out near an upscale country club, where he could buy shoes in the pro shop.
He took out his membership ID as he went inside.
He rode the elevator to the bottom floor, where he had to scan his ID to get to the store. It was packed with swimsuits and gym clothing. Richard bought socks and sneakers. The cashier glanced at his shoeless feet but didn’t say anything.
“Lost my shoes,” he said awkwardly.
He decided the club gym was a good place to hide out for a couple of hours. The police would be at his home and work. But they wouldn’t guess he belonged to the club. Not right away anyhow.
Richard walked out to the pool
area and collapsed into a deck chair. His heart felt as though it were pounding so hard it might stop. He went to check the time on his phone and realized he didn’t have it.
His mind began churning, spitting out ideas. He could live in the jungle or buy a little cabin somewhere. No, they would find him. Leaving the island—maybe even the country—was the best thing. He’d been to Canada several times and enjoyed it. He liked England. His only problem was getting the money to go. He had over half a million in his safe deposit box, but did the police know about that already? No way—how could they? Only he and Sharon knew about it, and she was gone. Unless the cops already had her.
He stood, and marched out of the
pool area. Then he bought a wide-brim hat and sunglasses on the way out of the club. He needed to get to the bank right as it opened.
The basement walls pushed in on him. Tate paced between them, the gun in his hand. He heard a voice, and only after a few minutes did he realize he’d been talking to himself. He had urinated in his pants, and the warmth had long ago turned to coolness down his leg, but he didn’t care. None of that mattered.
His mind was a blur of images and thoughts. He thought briefly that it would be fun to stab
himself through the tongue with the coat hanger lying in Lee’s basement. That was when he grasped that he’d smoked too much angel dust. The shit was in his system, permeating his mind. He kept smoking weed to calm himself, but it wasn’t working.
Lee came down the stairs
, and their eyes locked.
Yo, you don’t look so good, man. You a’ight?”
“No,” Tate said, contin
uing to pace. “Shit’s fucked up. Shit’s fucked up today.”
“Smoke a bowl and calm down.”
“I have been smoking bowls,” Tate growled.
asy, bra. Easy. You want somethin’ to eat?”
“Yeah, yeah. Yeah, get me… get me a
hamburger and curly fries and chicken, and—and fuckin’ sandwiches. Meatball sandwiches. And chips.”
“Okay, man. You just chill,
a’ight. I’ll see what I can get.”
As Lee headed upstairs,
he heard Tate talking to himself. That wasn’t good. Tate was unstable enough as it was. Lee jogged up the stairs and out to the RV. Hiapo was asleep, as was the young girl. The woman was sitting on the toilet, her hands still bound with duct tape.
was about to wake Hiapo when the woman said, “I have to use the bathroom.”
Lee looked up
at her. “What?”
, I have to use the bathroom.”
“I don’t give a shit.”
“Unless you want a mess in here, I need to use the bathroom.”
Hiapo was sound asleep, snoring in fact. Lee kicked him, but the big man didn’t even stir. “Fine.”
Lee walked to the back of the RV.
He helped the woman up off the toilet. As he bent down to flip open the toilet seat, he felt an impact like a brick against his head and his forehead slammed into the toilet. He bounced off and lay on his back on the floor. The woman had something in her hands—a small black box, like a TV or DVD player.
The woman sprinted off the RV, leaving Lee cussing and grabbing the back of his head. He could feel the blood seeping
over his fingers.
He jumped up. “Fucking bitch!”
Lee dashed after the woman. Screaming, she ran up the sidewalk, and Lee followed. A loud pop echoed through the neighborhood, and the woman collapsed. Lee instinctively hit the ground. His eyes darted around until he saw Tate standing on the front lawn, a gun in his hand.
He walked up to the woman and fired three more rounds. Lee covered his ears
with trembling fingers. Tate yelled at the corpse.
He ran up to Lee
and shouted, “Fuck you!” Then he pointed the weapon at Lee’s head.
“Nah, Tate, man. Nah, I
ain’t done nothin’. Tate!”
Lee didn’t hear a pop or any
more shouting. There was only a slight pain in his head then darkness.
The police cruisers
just ahead of them slammed on their brakes in front of the home. Stanton jumped out of the car as soon as Laka pulled their car to a stop. The Kevlar vest made Stanton feel heavy and immobile, but he knew how necessary it was.
A SWAT van pulled up just then.
The SWAT commander was heading the operation. As Stanton walked over to him to confirm the strike, he saw the body on the sidewalk—a black male with a head wound. Just ahead of him was a woman whose wrists were bound with duct tape.
Stanton ran to the bodies. The man was cold and had been dead
for hours. The woman was even colder, and most of her blood had pooled around her. Stanton recognized Sharon Miller from a photo of her in Richard Miller’s house.
anned the street for an RV, but there wasn’t one.
“What the hell happened?”
Laka asked, jogging up to him.
“The way she fell,
it looks like she was running when the round entered the back of her head. But him—I don’t know why he was shot.”
“Maybe he was
gonna sell him out?”
“Maybe. Let’s hang back and let SWAT do their job.”
The SWAT team was a precision instrument. They didn’t have a wide range of functions within the police department, but the ones they did have, they executed better than anyone. After a shout, they knocked down the front door and delivered the tear gas. Then they slammed through the side and backdoors nearly in unison. The men shouted constantly as they cleared one room then another. Smoke billowed out from the living room window then swirled in the breeze before disappearing.
The SWAT commander came out a few minutes later. He lifted his mask and stood in front of Stanton with his rifle slung over his shoulder.
“House is clear, Detective.”
“You sure?” Stanton knew he was and
that he’d probably checked everything several times, but he couldn’t think of anything else to say. The frustration of having Tate slip through his fingers was too much.
Stanton watched the house. The forensics techs had arrived and were analyzing the bodies. A few of them were staring at the SWAT members in wonder and awe. The two groups worked in the same factory but couldn’t have been more different.
Laka said, “We’ll get him.”
Stanton shook his head. “Before he kills the girl?”
Laka didn’t respond. Stanton strode into the house. The tear gas had cleared, and a few SWAT team members were mulling around the living room. They filed out of the house when they saw him. A couple uniforms were around, surveying the scene for their supplemental reports.
Stanton sat down on the sofa
. The living room had only two windows, and both were blacked out with what looked like black paint or tar. He could only see because of the light coming in from the open door. He put his hands on his thighs and stared at the carpet. Sharon Miller was dead. He hadn’t gotten to her in time. All that work, all that effort, and she had died. And her daughter would probably soon follow. And to top it off, he had just gotten word that Richard Miller was MIA.
“You all right?”
Laka asked, sitting down in the recliner across from him.
“No, I don’t think so.”
“The girl. I just keep thinking if I’d have worked a little faster… I don’t know. I don’t know.”
“This isn’t anything you did, Jon. Her dickhead father put evil out there, and that’s what this poor family saw the universe give back to them. The father started this, not you.”
“I couldn’t save her,” he mumbled
, more to himself than anyone else. “I did everything I could, and it wasn’t enough.”
“Sometimes it isn’t. But you just pick up and keep going. We’ll find her. You have to believe that.”
Stanton leaned back on the sofa and looked around the living room. Everything was old and weathered except the television, which was at least eighty inches and clean enough to be brand-new.
n island-wide BOLO—be on the look-out—call had been sent out for any RVs matching the description Sticks had given him. Stanton could think of nothing else to do but wait.
Tate’s gonna wanna get off the island,” Laka said. “He might need somebody to help him with that.”
for a moment. “The only person on the island that would possibly help him is his wife.” He bit the inside of his cheek and ran his tongue over the membrane—a habit he’d had since he was a child. “Better than sitting around eating bagels. Let’s go pay her another visit.”
In the noonday heat, Richard dripped sweat.
He decided he needed new clothes before anything else. But he was scared the police could follow his credit card transactions. But, then again, by the time the police saw his credit card history for today, he would be long gone. They already knew he was still on the island, so he wouldn’t really be giving anything away if he just ran in and bought shorts, a nice button-down shirt, and sandals. He decided it was worth the risk. His suit was too hot, and the pressure of his tie around his neck felt like a noose. It’d never felt that way before.
A strip mall wasn’t far from where he was.
He tipped his hat low as he walked down the street. It was a woman’s hat, and he wondered if it was actually drawing more attention to him. He tossed it in the bushes on the walk to the mall.
The sidewalks were never really
very swamped in downtown Honolulu, considering how large the city really was. A lot of people from the mainland moved there, thinking it would be paradise, only to find the cost of living was double or triple of where they had come from.
The strip mall was just across the street from where he was
, and he considered jaywalking, but instead, he walked the extra hundred feet to the crosswalk at the intersection. He glanced into each car as he crossed, wondering if someone would recognize him. He didn’t know if his face was on TV.
had at least twenty stores. When he spotted the Polo store, he practically ran in. Then he forced himself to take his time perusing the shorts. He found a pair he liked then chose a polo shirt and sandals. After he purchased them, he asked the cashier if he could use the changing room, then someone else on the floor unlocked one for him. He hung up his suit and looked at it one more time. Leaving it was such a shame.
The price of freedom,
As he headed out of the store, he stopped at the cashier
’s counter. “Um, sorry, is there someplace here that sells phones?”
“Yeah,” the cashier said, not taking his eyes off the shirt he was folding. “Just up is a Sprint or something.”
Richard marched over there. T
he two men behind the desk were talking and laughing.
“Hi,” he said. “I was wondering if you guys had any disposable phones?”
“Not here, no. There’s a Safeway right up the street, and they got some.”
“Thanks a bunch.”
The Safeway was another short walk, and getting around in his sandals felt better than his walking in his wingtips. Pleasant music was playing inside the store as he entered, and Richard hummed along. Given everything that had happened, he had to admit that he wasn’t in a particularly bad mood.
Richard found the
phones right at the front of one of the aisles. After purchasing a phone and minutes card, he went out to the curb and set them up. Once the phone was activated, he called the only person he could think to call: his lawyer.
Klep and Barnum,” the receptionist said.
. Can I speak to Candace Strain, please?”
“May I ask who’s calling?”
“Um, is this Marleen?”
“Oh, hi. It’s Richard.”
“Um, Richard Miller
. I work there.”
, right, Richard. Sorry. Yeah, Candace is here. Hold on a sec, ’kay?”
The line clicked
, and Candace’s voice came on. “Richard, what can I do for you?”
That was a good sign. The police were probably staked out
outside the offices, but word hadn’t yet reached Candace.
“Um, Candace, I think I’m going to need you to be my lawyer. You’re the best lawyer I know
, so I thought I would call you.”
“Your lawyer for what?”
“I’ve done some questionable things, Candace.” Richard swallowed. He couldn’t believe he was sitting on the curb, begging his boss to represent him.
“Well, I may have set some things in motion, and people got hurt. I don’t know that for sure, but I think maybe. I may have hired someone to hurt my wife.”
A long silence.
“Um, Candace? You there?”
“I’m here. Is Sharon dead, Richard?”
“I don’t know. I can’t contact the people I hired anymore.”
“You need to turn yourself in.”
A car passed, and Richard glanced up at the driver then let his eyes drift back to the pavement. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. I need you to help me get off the island.”
“That’s not what criminal lawyers do. I’ll represent you, Richard. But the only way
for me to do that is if you turn yourself in. I’ll be there with you to make sure they don’t ask any questions. But the process can’t even start until you turn yourself in.”
, I’ll get back to you on that.”
“What the hell happened, Richard?”
“It’s a long story, I guess. I’ll call you later, okay?”
“Okay. If you do get arrested, don’t say anything to the police. Just give them my name and number.”
Richard hung up. Speaking to her
had actually made him feel better. He liked knowing someone out there was on his side. But she was completely wrong. There was no point in turning himself in. Hawaii didn’t have the death penalty, but he would be an old man before he got out of prison. He wasn’t about to let that happen.
So that left one problem: how
to get off the island. There wasn’t a chance that the police hadn’t notified all the airports. But cruises left from Oahu all the time. Maybe the authorities hadn’t notified all the cruise lines yet?
He rose, brushed off his bottom, and began walking.