Balloon Man

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Chapter 32

Detective Booth combed through Jo Bob’s belongings. “There must be something here that’ll help us, or give some type of clue. C’mon, Jo Bob, give me a sign! Tell us why someone split your skull in two.”

Booth opened every drawer and closet, searching for any trace evidence the CSI team might have missed.

“You think talking to the dead is gonna help us find anything?” Chief Fox said from the doorway.

“At this point, we need all the help we can get. If that means calling the dead, I’m not above asking. The man was murdered, so maybe his soul is floating around, waiting for someone to ask him what happened.”

“Wow, you’ve lost it. Talk about grasping at straws! I think you should just admit Elaine Emmett is the killer and close the case. If anyone else heard you ask a dead man for help, they’d take you right off this case and stick you in a straightjacket.”

“Shut up, Fox. As I said before, until we find Elaine and the missing boys, the case remains unsolved and open. It’s my call, not yours. If you want to continue taking part of the investigation, then remain useful. If you don’t agree, leave and go work on something more suited to your abilities—like finding a lost cat.”

Grumbling, Fox turned away and clomped down the stairs.

Detective Booth finished searching the den and headed to the kitchen. He pulled all the dishes out of the cabinets, piling them on the table. At the back of the last one he emptied he spied a small notebook stashed behind a huge stack of old, cracked plates.

The pages were worn and the edges stained a dark yellow. Booth was careful, making sure to turn the pages slowly so he wouldn’t tear the thin sheets. Though the words didn’t seem to have any sort of pattern or particular order, the pages were filled with names, addresses, and weird markings next to each on. A few had phone numbers, too. The handwriting matched the other papers he’d found in the den.

It was Jo Bob’s.

“Jackpot!” Booth yelled, smiling. “Fox, where are you? I’ve got something your crack team missed!”

Chief Fox waddled through the doorway and over to Booth’s side. Booth handed him the notebook. Peering down, Fox scanned the pages. “There’s at least eighty or ninety names in here!”

“Yep, and written by Jo Bob. Looks like we have a whole slew of suspects here.”

“Tracking them all down should be fun, and time-consuming.”

Booth stepped out into the hallway toward the front door. “Which is why it’s time to get us some more help. Call every agency within one-hundred miles and get us some extra manpower.”

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