Parasite: Shadows of the Past Book II: Chapter 7

Chapter 7

I’m getting too damned old for this shit, Sam thought as he sat in his cruiser behind the yellow Camaro that had pulled to the side of the road. In the tinted rear window of the Camaro he watched the reflection of the light bar on top of his car, flashing red and blue. He’d clocked the sports car at nearly a hundred miles per hour in a fifty mile per hour zone and now he sat, waiting for a response to his call for wants.

Being a small county sheriff’s office, there was no room in the budget for computerized upgrades to their patrol cars, so they still relied on dispatch as a link to information readily available to their brethren with the state police. 

Traffic stops were the number one killer of cops in the country. He didn’t know if the person in the car in front of him had recently been involved in a crime. Or if they were emotionally distraught over a recent argument with a love interest. He was coming in cold, but he couldn’t very well justify approaching the driver’s window with his weapon drawn. What if it was some little old lady who was reliving her childhood?

He didn’t know for sure, and it was the not knowing that kept him in his seat. 

It was the first real week of summer vacation and soon the tourists would be crawling all over the area. Deep Creek Lake, a man-made reservoir that offered boating and fishing opportunities, had become a prime tourist destination over the years. Land had become so valuable around the lake that a number of farmers had become instant millionaires when they opted to sell out to the developers.

“There are no wants, Sam,” the dispatcher’s voice came from the radio mounted on the dash.

When he opened the door of his cruiser, the heat hit him like a wet blanket. The bulletproof vest he wore beneath his khaki shirt added to his discomfort. The heat reminded him of summers in D.C when he walked the beat, before he made the grade and got his gold shield. Happier times that teased with the promise of what could have been.

Putting on his Smokey Bear hat, he approached the driver side window of the Camaro with his hand resting easily on the butt of his revolver. He had unfastened the strap that held it in place in the event he needed to draw his weapon quickly. From the car came the heavy bass beat of music turned up too loud.

The tinted driver’s side window slid down into the door, allowing the music to escape, filling the day with a wild medley of crashing guitars and pounding drums. A young woman sat behind the wheel, her blonde head nodding in time with the music, tapping on the steering wheel with well-manicured fingers.

“Please turn the music down,” Sam shouted to be heard.

The young woman complied and the resulting silence was a welcomed relief.

“Do you know why I pulled you over?”

She shook her head as she glanced up at him with an elfin expression.

“You were doing a hundred in a fifty mile per hour zone. I could impound this car. I’ll need your license and registration please.”

“When was the last time you had your radar gun calibrated?” the young woman said. Her demeanor told Sam everything he needed to know about her. A tourist obviously spoiled by parents who probably paved her way through life with a bottomless checking account.

“I’m not going to argue the merits of my radar gun. Driver’s license and registration please.” Sam held out his hand.

“Do you know who my Daddy is?”

“Don’t know, don’t care. Driver’s license and registration please.”

“Bullshit backwater hick town, you have no idea who you’re messing with.”

“Nor do you, young lady. Now unless you want me to impound your car and place you under arrest, I will need your driver’s license and registration, please.”

“Oh my fucking God,” she screamed as she opened her purse and searched through its contents.

Sam stood up, amused by the woman’s reaction, when a call came over his radio clipped to his belt.

“Unit S-twelve see the occupants at nineteen one twenty three East Wilson drive. They have reported a missing child.”

“Roger, dispatch, I’m on my way.”

The woman held her license and registration out the window. Sam glanced at them briefly then handed them back. He knelt down to bring the woman’s face level with his own.

“I’ve got another call I have to take so I’m letting you go with this warning. I catch you speeding on my roads again, I’m not even going to ask for your license or registration. I’m going to impound your car and arrest you for endangering the public.”

“You can’t do that.”

“Try me.” The tone of his voice left little room for argument, so the woman nodded and Sam returned to his cruiser.


East Wilson Drive was a narrow blacktop ribbon of asphalt that meandered through the dense woods bordering the state forest. Barely wide enough for two cars to pass one another, there were wider sections every thirty yards or so where a place to pull off the road had been created along the shoulder. During deer season, the last two weeks of November, every one of these wider sections would be occupied by a car or truck from down state as hunters ventured into the forest in search of white tail deer.

There had been some big ones taken from this wilderness, but in most cases the lucky hunter was fortunate if he managed to take a spike. It was almost like the deer knew to avoid this section of the forest for those two weeks. The week before the season started they were all over the place, watching from the forest as cars went back and forth, sometimes crossing in front of a vehicle, forcing the less alert drivers to slam on their brakes.

Here and there even wider areas had been cut out of the forest where houses had been built and people had come to live. Many would be grouped in clusters of three to five, surrounded on all sides by a seemingly endless forest, and in many a deer stand stood in the back yard. During the summer they would spread corn and apples to bring in the deer. Most of these people were on fixed incomes and while the baits they used to lure in the deer would be considered unsportsmanlike, it was a necessity to keep the freezer full of meat.

It was one such wide spot that Sam pulled into in response to his call. To his left two houses sat side by side, while on his right a dilapidated trailer stood in the center of a large field filled with an assortment of junk that was slowly turning into rust. The trailer was his destination and Sam remained in his cruiser for several minutes, watching the trailer for any signs of life. He had learned early that when venturing to one of these places it was best to see how many dogs lived there before you stepped out from behind the wheel.

Crossing to the small porch, he climbed the three steps and rapped on the wooden screen door that had replaced the original aluminum one, parts of which still lay on the small front porch. An easy chair sat next to the front door, the fabric moldy from exposure to the elements, and next to it stood a small table upon which an overflowing ashtray resided.

From his pocket he removed a plastic vial and dipped his finger into its contents, rubbing the paste along his upper lip. It was a menthol rub, a trick he’d learned from his days with homicide. The menthol would mask any odors in the trailer, which, judging by its outer appearance, would be a dark and crowded space filled with the odors of unwashed bodies, cooking grease, and cigarette smoke.

An old man wearing a stained white tank top opened the front door. “Are you here about Randy?” he asked through the screen.

Sam nodded and the old man unlatched the screen door before he pushed it open for Sam to enter.

After removing his hat, Sam stepped inside and was surprised to find a neat and cozy place, far from what he had expected. The front door opened into a living room with a kitchen to the right. Everything was neat and tidy, no dishes were piled up in the sink, a couple of open windows allowed a cross breeze to cool the interior of the trailer and give it a fresh scent, if the smell of cow shit in the fields could be considered fresh. The walls were covered with an assortment of plaques, each with a rustic saying.

My house was clean last week sorry you missed it.

Our windows aren’t dirty, that’s our dog’s nose art.

In the corner of the living room a new flat panel television sat on top of an older floor model that probably had not been turned on in years. Opposite from the television, which was tuned to Judge Judy, filling the easy chair with her massive bulk, sat what Sam assumed to be the missing child’s mother, dressed in a floral housecoat. Her feet were propped up on an upholstered stool and the small table beside her was covered with empty diet soda cans, silent testament to an intent doomed to failure. 

“Dee, someone’s here about Randy,” the old man said before stepping back into the kitchen and returning to the table where a disassembled shotgun lay on a towel.

“Well, show him in,” the woman said, muting the television with a remote she held in one meaty hand.

Sam stepped into the living room proper. “Good Morning Ma’am, I’m Sam Hardin with the Sheriff’s office.”

“Well, sit down, please. It hurts my neck to look up at you. My name’s Dee.”

Sam nodded and smiled as he settled into a small loveseat. He removed his notebook and pen from his shirt pocket.

“When did you first realize your son was missing?”

“This morning, well last night really. He’s been missing for several days now.”

“You didn’t call sooner?”

Dee shook her head. “We figured he was out with his friends. He’s done that before but he’s never been gone this long. Please find my son. If anything’s happened to him I’ll never forgive myself.”

“I’ll do everything I can, ma’am. What about his friends? Have you spoken with any of them?”

“He only has one real friend I know of, David, who lives with his dad down the street.”

“Do you have his phone number?”

“His Daddy won’t let him have a phone. Says they can’t afford it. If you ask me I think there’s something going on there. He’s always hungry when he’s around. I don’t think his parents are feeding him very well.”

“What about an address?”

“No,” she said shaking her head, “but he lives in the green house about two miles down the road, same side as us.”

“And what’s his name?”

Her face scrunched up as she tried to remember, her eyes vanishing into the folds of fat that surrounded them. “It’s a funny last name,” she said, “Zany, or something like it, I think.”

“What about the boy across the way?” the old man said from the kitchen, where he was oiling the trigger mechanism for the shotgun.

“What boy across the street?” she said, the tone of her voice rising several notches.

“You know, that Anthony kid that lives across the street.”

“They’re not friends, why do you think they’re friends? Randy picks on him. I’ve told that boy a thousand times to quit being like that but he never listens to me.”

“What do you mean he picked on him?” Sam said.

“Aren’t you listening to me?” she said, redirecting her anger at Sam. “He picks on the poor boy, they’re not friends, my son’s a big bully.” She stopped, her mouth working silently as realization dawned on her face. Her hand went to her mouth as her eyes widened in fear. “You don’t think?” she said then stopped, afraid to lend voice the suspicions that were obviously filling her mind.

“You say he lives across the street? And Randy picked on him?”

“As ashamed as I am to admit it, yes, my son was a bully to that boy. You don’t think? Oh my.”

“It could be nothing,” Sam said as he closed his notebook and pushed himself to his feet. “But I’ll look into it.”

Movement at the back of the room drew his attention and he watched as a young girl carrying a baby emerged from the shadowy hallway that led to the back of the trailer.

“Did he have a good nap, sweetie?” Dee said as she raised her arms to take the baby from the young girl.

“Who’s this?” the girl asked, nodding in Sam’s direction.

“He’s from the sheriff’s office, he’s going to help us find your brother.”

“I say let him stay lost,” the girl said.

“Now that’s no way to be. You know your brother loves you.”

The girl rolled her eyes at this but Sam wasn’t paying any attention. His gaze had been drawn to the baby Dee was cradling next to her ample breast. There was definitely something wrong with the child.

His head, if it was a he, was malformed with a very prominent nose that reminded Sam of the beak of a bird. The forward part of his head had a slant on either side of the nose with the eyes looking off to each side instead of straight ahead. He looked as if his skull had been squeezed in a vise when he was first born. Tearing his gaze from the child, he focused on Dee.

“I believe I’ve got everything I need. If there’s anything else, I’ll give you a call.”

“Please find my boy and bring him home to his mommy. No matter what he’s done, tell him I forgive him.”

Sam nodded as he made his way to the front door. He had a few things to go on, but the info about her son being a bully gave him his best lead. Most likely the bully’s victim had turned the tables on his tormentor or something had gotten out of hand and someone had been seriously hurt.

Either way he’d get to the bottom of it, that was his nature, the need to uncover the truth coupled with a persistence that knew no equal, and it was the persistence that always paid off.

Chapter 6                          Chapter 8
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