The Lucky Winner

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Chapter 19

The account was opened up with a stolen identity in Paraguay,” said a young detective, who looked to be in his twenties. “Then the suspect transferred your funds into it from your account.”

I was surprised to see someone besides the retired grandpa-next-door, Officer Jones. Now it was a serious crime, a detective from the state police was assigned to it.

His name was Detective Zachary Lake. He looked so different from the local officers I often saw around town. He was younger than most, with no mustache, no tummy, and no goofy smile. He had a very serious, no-nonsense look, and he kept his work face on at all times. He was lean and the muscles on his arms reminded me of Popeye, the cartoon character I saw in Mom’s old comic books from her childhood.

I wondered what was required to become a detective at such young age. You had to be super smart, I assumed. Or maybe he was just one of those people who didn’t age and looked younger than his actual age.

He brought a forensic technician with him, a heavy-set female with a short, curly hair. I’d never had a forensic technician at my house. Or a detective, for that matter.

She got right to business and began photographing the scene and dusting all the surfaces with fingerprint powder. It was great that they were collecting fingerprints—Officer Jones had done absolutely nothing. Still, a part of me couldn’t help but think it was a waste of time and effort. Even if they found a set of fingerprints that didn’t belong to us, how good was that if the owner of the prints wasn’t already in the criminal database? I knew that much just from watching Forensic Factor.

While the technician investigated the house, Detective Lake sat with us. By us, I meant, my parents and me. Kyle was, of course, absent. He was probably best friends with the store manager at Nerd It. Who knew? Even though he was the most anti-social human being on earth, it wouldn’t have shocked me if he became a completely different person as soon as he set foot in that store. After all, there was a good reason for the adage, Birds of a feather flock together, or else it wouldn’t exist.

“The suspect’s IP location was a small town in Paraguay,” Detective Lake said as he rested his forearms on the table and intertwined his fingers. “However, according to the local law enforcement, no geographical location could be associated with the IP address.”

Both of my parents just stared at Detective Lake as they tried to process the pieces of information. My parents looked completely lost. They probably didn’t even know what question to ask in response. They’d never been involved or associated with anything remotely resembling something like that. Everything Detective Lake told them must have been completely Greek to their ears.

“You might have been only a random target. But there’s a strong possibility they were aware of your assets.”

Mom finally managed to utter a word. “Do you think whoever managed to break into here could have stolen our money, Detective Lake?”

“Quite possibly. And it could also be the work of organized crime,” said Detective Lake as he looked straight at her. “Can you think of anyone who might have suspected you won the lottery?” He asked.

“No… we were all very careful about it…” Mom answered as she thought hard.

I looked at the TV where the local news was on but it was muted. I was curious to know if they said anymore about Jerry. I noticed Dad’s eyes were focused on the TV, too.

They weren’t talking about Jerry, but a different death. A woman’s body had just been discovered at the bottom of the river not too far from our house. I wondered if it was a suicide or a murder. I wasn’t sure because the volume was muted. It looked like the body had been swept a considerable distance downstream before it was found. I always thought Littleside was the most peaceful place in the world.

So much for that.

I wondered when they’d switch back to Jerry’s death although I wasn’t too worried. I would most likely get all the details from my circle of gossipers much faster than the local news.

Detective Lake noticed my eyes were glued on TV. He glanced over at it.

“I was waiting to see if they’d say anymore about Jerry,” I said with a shrug.

“The Chief Deputy Sheriff’s son,” he said as he turned to me. “I know you went to school with him.”

Either he’d done his homework or it wasn’t too hard for him to guess since there was only one high school in the area, I wasn’t sure.

With my eyes back on the TV, I commented. “I wonder if that was murder or suicide.”

Mom cast a glare at me as if to say, How could you talk about anything other than our case? She was right. How could I? We were the victims of a cyber crime.

I supposed the reasons could have been, one: it didn’t really hit me since I’d never seen or actually enjoyed our money; or two: if we had seventy something million dollars, what was a measly hundred and fifty thousand? Or three: with Jerry being shot to death, I was temporarily numbed to all the insanity around me.

Dad turned off the TV and Mom mouthed Thank you.

Detective Lake continued his questioning.

He seemed like a good detective, which were pretty rare in this town. Look at Officer Jones. Or Jerry’s dad, the Chief Deputy Sheriff. Rumors abounded that he’d probably done things he wasn’t very proud of, such as covering up his troubled son’s wrongdoings.

I glanced over at the fingerprint technician, only to see her wide butt sticking out. Reality was so different from TV shows.

I turned back to Detective Lake and watched him talking to my parents. I couldn’t help but think how charming he was. When he turned to me, I realized I wasn’t listening to a word he’d been saying.

Crap.

I didn’t want him to think I was a silly, airheaded teenager who couldn’t focus longer than two minutes. So I nodded as if I were paying full attention to his words, while hoping with all my might he wouldn’t ask me any questions. His eyes stayed on me for a brief second, then he turned back to my parents.

I wondered if he saw right through me.

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