Wade pulled the Crown Vic off of the highway and followed the exit until the road turned to dirt, followed it a mile and then turned onto a dirt road with a street sign marked Markham. It didn’t say West or street but the GPS pointed directly to it so the detective turned. A quarter mile down on the right he spotted the turn off for the house. The small shack appeared to be nothing more than a grey stucco covered cinderblock building with a thin hollow wood door and only one window that Wade could see. It sat in a small clearing between a pair of old boats that were deteriorating on their trailers and an old barn like structure that looked as if it was being used as a garage for an old muscle car. To the side of the house there were six large steel barrels that were completely rusted that the detective could tell had been used on more than a few occasions to burn trash or who knew what else? Date looked to him and motioned that he was going to check around back and then quietly pulled his service piece from the holster and started to make a perimeter around the building.
The crunch of dirt under tires alerted Wade that a squad car had pulled up silently as backup like he had requested. He motioned for the officers to approach the front of the building signaling for them to come to him first.
“My partner is already headed to the back in case he tries to make a break for it. I want you to make a slow walk to the outer perimeter heading to the left and you can stay back here behind my car while I approach. We don’t know if this is our asshole yet but make sure you keep your eyes wide fucking open okay?” The two officers nodded and took their places as they were told as Wade approached the home. He unbuttoned his holster, moved his finger across the safety releasing it and then knocked three times on the door. There was no answer, Wade looked around once and then listened closely, craning his neck toward the door. He could hear the faint sound of a girl answering questions in the house. He listened closer and could tell the sound was coming through some sort of speaker, like it was a playback of a recording. His mind flipped through a catalog of different scenarios trying to imagine what he was hearing. Was the sicko watching a video he had made of one of his victims? Why the fuck didn’t he answer the door? Wade knocked much louder and shouted directly at the door.
“Mr. Crane, Lake Havasu Police, we need to ask you some questions!” There was no response but he could still here the girl’s voice somewhere in the house, it sounded like it was coming from somewhere lower. He stepped back and took another look at the house. Did it have a basement? It looked impossible but Wade had read a story about a psycho in Texas that had dug out his crawl space and been dumping his boyfriends in there for years, so not completely impossible. He began to make his way toward the left side of the house to see if he could get a glimpse of anything through the one window. Date walked around the corner and looked at Wade with a questioning face.
“Maybe the asshole is not home.”
“There’s a girl talking on a recording, sounds like its coming from somewhere low. Did you see any sort of crawlspace door?”
“No, but I wasn’t looking, I’ll circle around and check.” Date, gun still drawn made his way back around the little house as Wade tried to clear a spot on the inch thick dirt on the lone window. Then he saw them, two small feminine feet sticking out from behind a door. It was definitely a body on the floor. He rushed towards Date, still speaking in a whisper.
“I’ve got a body on the floor in the back of the house.”
“Was it his or a females?”
“I can only see feet but I’m pretty sure it’s a she.” The two detectives made it back around to the front of the house. There was no back door and no other windows so there was no other reason to stay posted in back. Plus Wade didn’t want to go in blazing through the front alone. The detectives each signaled to let the officers know they were going in the front door and took their positions at the ready outside of the front door. Wade reached for the handle and gave it a turn. At a house in the middle of the desert people don’t usually lock their doors and as usual this was the case. Surprisingly, the door made no sound as it effortlessly opened into the small living room of the home. There was an old couch, a dirty oriental rug on the tile floor and a fifty inch flat screen with an Xbox hooked up to it. Behind this was a small kitchen that had a tiny round table with three chairs pulled up to it that was covered in beer cans that each had been used as an ashtray. To the right of that was the slightly open door that Wade had seen from the window. Wade pointed to the door, showing Date where the body was and slowly made his way around the couch toward it. Standing slightly to the side of the door he outstretched his hand and gave it a slight push, it stalled as it hit the top half of the body. This did not make the body move, it was obviously a corpse. He looked toward Date who was signaling that he could see another way into the room from the other side and he would make his way toward it. The throbbing of his blood died down in his ears and once again Wade could hear the girl’s voice. It sounded like it was right beside him. Or maybe he was over it, he couldn’t tell. Right then Date’s words ripped through the silence like a carpet knife.
“These two junkies ain’t dead they’re fucking passed out.” Wade pushed the door fully open and could see that the body on the floor was that of a young woman probably in her mid-twenties. He could tell by the way a blanket wrapped around her partially she had rolled off of the mattress and onto the floor. Her breathing was quiet but it was there, she was alive. The man was laying propped on his side with a small wall of body pillows behind him. Wade had seen Junkies do this so they wouldn’t roll onto their back and end up choking on their own vomit while they slept. There were two wooden vegetable crates, one on each side of the mattress on the floor that were covered in debris, old soda cans, spoons, lighters and different belts and other items used for tying ones arm off. The sound of the girl’s voice was an old laptop that lay on the floor. The browser was open to a porn site that was now showing what the questions led up to. Wade closed the lid and the computer thankfully went into hibernate.
Date especially hated junkies because he had lost a sister to heroin. He never seemed to realize that every member of his family had chosen a different poison of their own and that just because he could buy his at a store legally it was no better. He reached down and tapped on the back of Tim Crane’s head with the barrel of his gun.
“Get up junkie; we’ve got questions for you.” Crane rustled in his sleep but didn’t show signs of waking. Date looked up to Wade for approval; he nodded yes and then looked toward the front door. He could hear the sound of a foot being applied to Crane’s side and the junkie springing forward with a howl immediately throwing up right beside the sleeping woman.
“What the fuck man?”
“I think your friend kicked you in the ribs and then hit the floor, would you like to press charges on her for battery sir?”
“Oh your pigs that’s fucking awesome.” Crane straightened himself on the bed and then stood up; he was a tall skinny man but he had short dark brown hair instead of long and blond and Wade doubted he would have had the strength to pick up a Big Mac much less a teenaged girl.
“Excuse me, I’m going to piss if you don’t mind.” He walked into the small bathroom that Date had crossed through and proceeded to take care of his business. When he came out, he walked through the bedroom straight to the kitchen and took a seat at the kitchen table finding a carton of Marlboro Reds in the center of it and removing a pack for himself. He smacked the box against the table three times hard and then opened it and removed a cigarette. One of the officers appeared at the front door and Date waved him on. This guy may have been a walking garbage can full of white trash but he wasn’t their guy. Wade pulled his pack of smokes from his shirt pocket and lit himself one and took one of the remaining two empty seats, Date the other.
“Sorry to bother you Mister Crane but when you didn’t answer my repeated knocking we got worried for your life.” Wade decided since Terry had already done his best bad cop he would go for good cop.
“Great, well I’m fucking alive now and my sides killing me so what can I do for you two…” He hesitated remembering Date’s form of police work and though again before insulting the pair.
“On the night of Sunday, April the 20th you drove a Fleetwood Bounder RV home from the Xandaloo Festival and parked it here for the night and then returned it to Albuquerque, New Mexico late the next evening. Is that correct Mister Crane?”
“Almost” he took a pull from his cigarette and sat smugly in his chair.
“Would you care to elaborate on almost sir?” Wade wanted to play bad cop so bad right then he thought he would wear one layer of enamel off of his teeth with the grinding he was doing.
“We picked up the Bad bus and came back here but then J-Dawg drove it home for the night and came and got me around six the next night and we drove it to NM.” He opened a can of warm beer that was in the clutter on the table and took a long drink from it.
“J-Dog, would that be John William Grant?” Wade’s heart dropped; he hadn’t even considered Grant. On paper Crane had looked perfect for it. Now that he thought about it harder he looked a little too perfect. Wade and Date stood up from the table simultaneously and turned for the door.
“You know where he lives? Wade demanded.
“Somewhere off the strip I think, I’ve never been there though.”
“You got a number for him?” Crane stood up and walked back into the bedroom, returning after a minute holding a small cheap looking cell phone. He walked over to the table and wrote the number down on a piece of a white Burger King paper bag.
“You don’t fucking call him or anyone that knows him or I’ll lock your ass up for obstruction.”
“Dude, I don’t give a squirt of piss about him. Happy hunting detective! You can haul that creepy son of a bitch in all you want.” Crane continued but they no longer had time for him.
Wade typed frantically on the face of his phone looking for the phone number of Adventure Jeep, just praying that Grant would be at work and easy to apprehend. He found the text from earlier in the day from Gaines with the address and phone number for Adventure Jeep and pressed hard on the number so that his phone would call it.
“Adventure Tours, this is Brie how can I help you?” the teenager from earlier in the day.
“Brie, this is detective Wade from earlier today is your boss Justin still there?” There was no way he was going to ask the teenaged idiot if Grant was at work she was sure to call him and let him know that the police were asking about him. The phone clicked twice and then began to ring, she had transferred him without saying a word.
“This is Justin.”
“This is Detective Wade, is John Grant at work today?”
“No, he won’t be in until the weekend. He has company this week or something.”
“Okay, do you have a home address for him?” Wade could hear the same noises he had heard earlier as Justin pulled a file from the filing cabinet and placed it on his desk.
“It’s 2624 Inverness Way, Lake Havasu City.” Wade hung up the phone and stepped hard on the gas spraying dirt and rocks across the front of Crane’s house, shouting the address to Date as he did so.
“Call it in and tell them to give us whatever they have on John William Grant and get us a couple of uniforms over there as fast as they can no sirens.”