Read Wicked Lies Online

Authors: Lisa Jackson,Nancy Bush

Tags: #Fiction, #Thrillers, #Suspense, #Crime, #Psychological

Wicked Lies (7 page)

BOOK: Wicked Lies
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“No, thank you.” The sickeningly sweet herb stench clouded Justice’s sense of smell.

“Jesus, damn,” the guy said, gesturing in the direction of Justice’s prison and squinting behind his glasses as he let out a puff of smoke. “Did you see? The whole damn county sheriff’s department went flying by thataway!” He hitched a thumb and shook his head. “Not one stopped, y’know.” Then, as if considering the consequences if a cop had stopped and found his weed, he added, “Maybe that was a good thing.” He took another long drag.

“Which way are you going?” Justice asked, talk of police making him anxious.

The dude pointed the opposite direction, west, toward the coast, and after a few seconds exhaled a pent-up cloud of smoke. “Where’d you come from?” he rasped.

Justice gestured in the general direction of the steep hill to the north. It was flat-topped, a mesa, basically, since clear-cutting had taken off its timbered top. He’d driven the hospital van up a muddy track along its eastern side, over sticks and small boulders. He’d nosed the van through a forgotten chain gate that had been there since the beginning of the decade and broke with little resistance as he’d gunned the engine. He knew the area and had planned where to go when he escaped, and so he’d driven straight to the hilltop and then partially down the back side, parking the hospital van on the edge of a cliff side. Climbing out, he’d grabbed the jacket the orderly had left, with its Ocean Park Hospital patch on the sleeve; then he put the vehicle in neutral, got behind it, and pushed.

The van had shot straight down into a gully, snapping off small trees on its way, crashing and blundering, splashing into a small stream at its bottom and turning onto its side. It made a horrendous amount of screeching noise—tree limbs grabbing at it—but it had made it all the way down and the whole noisy melee was over in the space of two minutes. Wary, ears straining, Justice had waited at the top of the mesa, squatting in the underbrush, hoping the van’s noisy crash was a distant rending for anyone within earshot. He’d then seen the line of police vehicles fly by far below, lights flashing in the early darkness, sirens screaming. He’d watched them disappear, and he’d sat down on the top of the mesa and waited, unsure of what form God’s next message might be.

Then, as if God Himself had answered, this psychedelic relic of a Vanagon had staggered to the side of the road. Without doubting for an instant that this was his destiny, Justice had trekked rapidly down.

“Can I get a ride?” Justice asked, trying not to cough at the vile smoke, a sense of urgency running through him. He couldn’t leave himself exposed, not for any length of time, even though darkness was approaching.

“Can ya help me fix my tire?” the dude asked hopefully.

“Gotta pump?”

“Yeah, but there’s a hole, man.”

“Got a spare?”

“Nah . . . not one that works . . .”

“Get me the pump,” Justice ordered. He heard the sound of a car’s engine whining closer and fought the urge to scramble back into the bushes.

“Uh, okay.” The guy looked him over again, and then, as if deciding Justice was just a little tightly wound, he shrugged and opened the rear of the van, rattling around through a bunch of baby gear—a Big Wheels, a Pak ’n Play, some kind of circular bouncing device with brightly colored knobs—until he found a toolbox and the pump.

The car’s engine was louder, and Justice, pretending to be looking over the axle, hid on the far side just as the car, a rattling old Toyota, cruised past. He caught a glimpse of the driver, a red-haired teenager, a girl, who didn’t so much as glance at the disabled Vanagon as she drove lead-footed toward the next town.

“I’m Cosmo,” the dude said, as if he’d just realized he’d never introduced himself. He dropped the toolbox at Justice’s feet. “You?”

“Bob.”

Cosmo frowned. “Your name tag says . . .”

“Yeah, I know.” Justice waved off the question and bent down to the box. If the guy got too suspicious, he’d have to take a hammer from the box and . . . His fingers curled over the smooth wood handle as he explained, “Had to borrow my buddy’s today. Left mine in my car. Sometimes I’m a damned fool!”

“Well, Bob, if you can fix this thing, I’ll take you anywhere you wanna go,” Cosmo declared with an easy smile that showed a row of slightly crooked teeth. If he had any doubts about “Bob,” they were lost in a fog of pot.

“You got any gum?” Justice asked, trying not to show his anxiety as he pushed the hammer aside and studied the rest of the contents of the box. Wrench, screwdriver, box cutter . . . all weapons he could use.

“Uh . . .” Cosmo ran his hands through a few pockets and pulled out a pack. “Bubble gum.”

“I can pump the tire full of air, put some gum on the leak.” Justice palmed the box cutter with its razor’s head and stealthily slipped it into his pocket before he straightened again, his shadow lengthening over Cosmo. “Good for a few miles, I think. But you’ll have to get it fixed in Tillamook.”

“I can do that.” Cosmo was nodding, a little more comfortable. “Sure you don’t wanna toke? Or a beer? They’re not cold. I had to leave my woman and the kids for a while. Big fight. Big, big fight. Got any kids? Babies.” He shook his head, long tresses beneath his headband shivering. “All they do is cry.”

Justice thought of babies. Of pregnancy. Of the unborns. But he didn’t respond as he bent down and pumped up the tire while Cosmo finished his joint, then chewed up some gum.

All the while he thought of time ticking by, the cops. . . . Oh, God, had they reached the hospital and now were returning? His stomach tightened, and he told himself to relax, try to stay cool.

Gingerly taking the slick pink wad from the other man’s fingers, Justice had discerned where the nail was and he stuck the gum over it in a thin and messy line. Might help. Might not. All he wanted was to get off this stretch of road and fast. Before the cops returned.

“Nice, man,” Cosmo said, grinning widely as he surveyed the near-bald tire with its pink patch.

Justice knew cars. Engines. Boats. He knew about babies, too. The devil’s spawn. His nose suddenly filled with the sweet, rotting scent of betrayal and deceit, a smell that was only growing stronger. One of them was nearby. The one that could hear him and shut him out! They all were cursed with some ability, and this one . . . she was close. His skin crawled and the back of his mind went dry as he tried to call up her image. . . .

He snapped back quickly.

Hurry! You’re wasting time!

Cosmo was saying, “My old lady, she got really pissed at me ’cause I said, ‘Can’t you shut him up?’ which was kinda mean, for sure, but she just went nutso. Threw all my clothes out the door. So I took the van and all this kid stuff and just fuckin’ took off. I love her, man. And the kids. But it was a bummer. You a hospital employee?”

The patch on the jacket again. Damn. Justice gave a quick nod. “I’m an EMT.”

“Yeah? Like the guy whose jacket you’re wearing? Huh.”

Justice tensed up. Cosmo was putting two and two together. “Yeah, we work for the same company.”

“So . . . what’re you doin’ out here?”

“Hitchhiking. Got my own problems with a woman,” he improvised again, hoping to strike a chord with the man.

“Ahh . . .” He seemed to try and think that one over, but Cosmo wasn’t really tracking all that well.

Justice glanced at the tire. “Won’t last long.”

“But long enough to get to Tillamook?”

“Depends on how fast the leak is.”

“Well, get in, man,” Cosmo said suddenly, as if he’d told himself not to look a gift horse in the mouth—another one of Maddie’s old sayings. God, why was
she
coming to mind today? Cosmo threw the toolbox in the back of the Vanagon and slammed the door. “We’re losin’ daylight. Let’s roll.” He walked to the front of the Volkswagen and slid behind the steering wheel.

As Justice climbed into the passenger seat and cracked the window against the thick scent of marijuana, Cosmo fired up the engine of this less than discreet getaway vehicle.

In a few seconds, they were out on the road, bumping along as the vehicle’s shocks were shot, too. Justice was counting off the seconds in his head. How long before the sheriff’s department started circling back? They had to realize which way he’d traveled after he turned out of Halo Valley’s long drive to the two-lane highway that connected the Willamette Valley to the coast. He knew he had only a small window of time in which to disappear. He would have headed east, toward Salem, if he’d known the area better, but Justice was most familiar with the ins and outs of the Oregon coastline. The land was rugged here, steep, craggy cliffs rising above the pounding surf. Hundreds of acres of old-growth timber. Hidden coves that the Pacific had carved at the shoreline.

Lots of places to hide.

And, more importantly, that was where
she
was.

As they traveled, he sensed the change . . . the slight shifting of the world . . . the moment when he slid inside himself and let his senses take over, the slipping of this outer skin to open to his true self.

There are many of them. So many.

“You cannot kill them all,” the old woman warned me, and I nearly strangled the life from her right then for not believing in me!

“I can. I will,” I told her.

“God will save them. . . .”

But they do not listen to God. Their master is from the dark realm of hell. Satan is their soul mate. Their lover. Father to their children. Father to them!

I cannot wait to do God’s bidding and fulfill my mission in this world.

First, there are those outside of the walls. One is nearby . . . and near to the old woman as well, who has survived against all odds. It is my duty to end her torment. Dear, dear, mother.

“Hey, man.” Cosmo’s voice sounded liquid and wavy. From a long distance away.

Justice opened his eyes and saw lights ahead as they approached the town of Tillamook. He felt the uneven roll of the Vanagon’s wheels, smelled the familiar scent of cattle from the surrounding dairy farms. Located on the south end of Tillamook Bay, the town was actually inland from the ocean. Still, he was closer, felt more alive, his nerve endings snapping.

“You took a nap, but like with your eyes open. Creepy.” Cosmo glanced his way and grinned.

Justice was glad for the dope, which had obviously slowed down Cosmo’s perception.

“We made it,” Cosmo added. “But I think the tire’s really shot now. I’m gonna have to hit some kind of service station. God, maybe I should call the old lady. It’s kind of a pisser.”

“Don’t call her.”

Cosmo turned the Vanagon south onto Highway 101, the road that ran straight through Tillamook’s gut. Though Justice wanted to head north, he wasn’t quite ready yet.

“Man, are you giving me relationship advice?” Cosmo turned his way again, his Lennon glasses winking in the streetlights.

Justice thought a moment, his skin tingling as he mentally slipped it back on over his naked soul. His camouflage. He already knew he was going to have to kill Cosmo and hide the body so that when his van was discovered, there would be no trace to Justice. Mentally, he ran over what he’d touched. The pump. The left rear tire. The passenger door handle, the toolbox, the hammer . . .

“Keep going,” Justice said as Cosmo glanced toward a service station that looked half-deserted on the south end of town. Its bank of fluorescent lights flickered, and the red stripe painted on the extension over the pumps had dulled and chipped away.

“We ain’t gonna make it much further,” Cosmo said, ignoring him.

They pulled into the service station, and Cosmo rolled down his window under the weird, unsteady lights. After what seemed a millennium the teenager who seemed like the only one on duty stepped out of the office to look at them. “You gettin’ gas?” he yelled, his face screwing up as if he couldn’t see well.

“Gotta patch a tire,” Cosmo yelled back.

“Can’t help ya unless you want gas.”

“Shit.”

“Go on down the road,” Justice said quietly, though his nerves were jumping. “I’ll pump it up again.”

“Might as well get out and pump it up now.”

“No.”

“What’s up, man?” Cosmo gave him a searching look.

Justice wondered if maybe he wasn’t quite as stoned as he’d made out. Either way, it sealed his fate. “Go on down the road,” he said again, and after a moment, and with a shrug, Cosmo pulled onto Highway 101 south and the dark road that cut through the farmland. There were plenty of little nothing roads both east and west of the main highway, lanes really, that wound through fields and brush and the Coast Range foothills, scarcely traveled byways where a vehicle could be hidden indefinitely.

Perfect.

“Just keep driving.” Almost reverently, he fingered the box cutter he’d slipped into his pocket.

“It’s your funeral,” Cosmo said, unaware of the irony in his words.

CHAPTER 5

H
arrison drove into the parking lot of Ocean Park Hospital with a sinking heart. The Channel Seven van was parked outside, and Pauline Kirby and her gophers were already setting up for a report on the escapee. He had remembered the psycho’s name—Justice Turnbull—on the drive over and had double-checked with Geena Cho to make sure he was right and she’d reluctantly confirmed.

“You didn’t hear it from me,” she’d said over the wireless connection, “but now you owe me two.”

Bingo. Justice Turnbull was the lunatic who had escaped.

The wind had kicked up and Pauline’s perfectly coiffed hair was trying desperately to escape, but under the security lights for the parking lot a hairstylist was spraying something at her head that worked like industrial glue, as the dark tresses were slicked to her scalp and stayed there.

Harrison had no interest in dealing with Pauline. He wasn’t sure she would recognize him. He would have been safe except for the brouhaha that had developed after he accused Manny’s business partner of being involved in his death. Then the news vultures had descended on one of their own. Him. And Pauline had been in the forefront. Microphones had been thrust at him, and he could recall the way her lips pulled back from her perfectly capped snow-white teeth and the sneer that seemed a brush away from the smile.

BOOK: Wicked Lies
13.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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