The Caldera's Vice

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CHAPTER 38

A Young Suspect

Renshu flicked the ash off the cigarette after Asher Glassberg slammed the door to Captain Price’s office.

“What do you make of that?” Price snarled.

His contemplative eyes remained fixed on the blinds slapping the glass.

“The madness of grief,” Renshu poked his cigarette into the ashtray, stabbing it until it sizzled and died.

Price rose, “I’m going to the house.”

Renshu followed suit, batting a little smoke out of the way.

“Regardless of your search warrant, don’t you think it’s tactless to go in the young man’s house after he’s just vehemently denied us access?”

“We’re onto something big, Renshu. Whether he knows about it or not,” she shrugged on her officer’s coat on her way to the door, passing him.

“Virginia, this boy just lost his parents,” Renshu’s retort hinted at a reprimanding tone, unprepared for the backlash of her ensuing snap.

“We are two inches from solving this case, I can smell it. Don’t ruin this.”

Renshu gulped his retort and Price whipped back, storming to the front door. Instead of going to the Daimler, she headed for the first patrol car she could find and Renshu quickly followed her in. It was a silent drive back to the Boarder Zone and when they arrived at the house it remained unchanged. He followed Price to the door, her storming figure an unstoppable tide before she knocked and rang the doorbell several times.

“Figures he’s not here,” she grumbled and kicked down the door.

Renshu’s eyes widened but he followed her into the lit house, her gun up and held aloft at her side.

“There are cameras everywhere,” Renshu mused at the cameras, “How peculiar.”

“He definitely knew something was going on,” Price said through her teeth.

“Because he has cameras?”

“Why else would he have them up?”

“If he is storing any of those vats, considering how large they are, they would most likely be kept in a cellar or garage.”

“I’ll check the garage,” she nodded and left him staring at the open door leading into the vast darkness. He walked down the steps into what appeared to be a wine cellar, finally coming to the landing.

“This wine storage is bordering on illegal,” he smirked, then looked to another open door leading into a black cave like room. He walked over, stopping at the top to look to his upper right and found a telecam visor with the copper wire cut.

Further into the depths he walked, traversing into the black hole of the dark, bumping his head on a string of a light bulb which he pulled down. Light flooded, his tall shadow split the staircase below him in two.

“Oh dears.”

Several vats sat at the bottom of the stairs, their muddled tin warped his reflection as he descended. He opened the lid to one, a slew of spiraled vials greeted him with glimmering smiles as though they’d invited him to come sit with him and enjoy a good port.

He reached in, taking a vial and tilted it so the liquid inside bobbed. A thick, black fluid, viscous as honey. He pocketed four, looking through the other vats and seeing as they all had the same general product but taking samples regardless. With ginger steps he walked back up the stairs and met Captain Price in the living room. There was a flash of malicious intent in those eyes, hungry and fierce. The demon within peaking out.

“You find anything?”

He plucked a vile from his pocket and showed her.

“Yes.”

She narrowed her famished eyes.

“Looks a lot like Diesel.”

“Don’t allow wishful thinking to blind you. Have Lucille test it to be sure.”

“We sure will and we’re going right now.”

She strode to the door and into the patrol car, flicking on the manual transmission and sped away.

“I knew he was hiding something.”

“I disagree.”

“It’s a little odd he isn’t at home and cameras were installed, don’t you think?”

“He is a distraught boy, Virginia. If you had your parents shot to death in your own home, would you like to live there? Poor boy has probably run away to who knows where.”

Virginia winced.

“And what about the cameras? Looks like he knew something was wrong.”

“There are many reasons for that, Price,” he said and they pulled into the front of the police station.

“We’ll deal with that later,” jumped out of the seat. Renshu followed along after her. She stopped at the door, livid at the sight of the shattered glass and broken iron bars.

“That little bastard broke the door,” she kicked glass shards out of the way and pressed through. More than the usual amount of officers crowded the lobby, some of them asking for Prince’s attention but she ignored them and beelined for the chemist office.

“Lucille,” she said, just after she swung open the door and stomped in.

Lucille was on the other side of the lab, tinkering with a few test tubes and whatnot.

“Yesssss ma’am?” Lucille’s cheery voice echoed across the room, her pale hair bobbed and flounced near the curl of her horns wrapping around her pointed ears.

“I need you to test something I found,” Officer Price didn’t hesitate, tossing Lucille a vial who luckily caught it without an eye blink.

“Will do!”

“And do it now,” Price pressed “I’m on a hot lead.”

“Yesssss ma’am!” Lucille repeated, then looked to Renshu “Hello detective!”

Renshu tipped his hat, “Evening Dr. Simms.”

They left the room. The moment the door closed, they waited outside. Renshu dipped into his pocket. He struck a match on the wall and lit the cigarette held in his lips.

“What if the results verify your suspicions?”

“We arrest him.”

“You’re arresting a 17 year old boy on drug smuggling charges?”

“What’s the matter with you? I thought you wanted to solve this case.”

“I do, but there are measures we must take to maintain civility. If you’re willing to arrest a boy, then perhaps your moral compass needs a rerouting.”

He kept his focus on puffing the cigarette, blowing out a plume and watching it rise into the air as the silence between them thickened.

“My moral compass?” Her voice warned him to tread the new waters lightly.

“You are the captain of this police department aren’t you?”

He glimpsed her clenching fists from the corner of his eye, ignoring the gradual crawl of violence in the gesture. Steam clouds threatened to rise off her head and shriek out of her ears but he was unrelenting in his calm demeanor, preferring to suck a drag and release another plume.

“Yes,” she said through her teeth.

“And you are expected to be the fulcrum of morality for this bed bug ridden and flea infested town, are you not?”

He flicked a dangling worm of ash.

“Yes.”

“Then arresting the boy will only prove you’re not much better than them. At least not without a proper questioning and a trial,” he poked a hole, a playful, confident gesture into the smoke cloud.

“We’ve already questioned him.”

“I’m talking about a different sort. It’ll be more than clear that he can no longer keep this secret and if he doesn’t know, sincerely, then perhaps he may know someone who will. Never outlaw the boundless fractal of possibilities, Virginia Price.”

She clenched her teeth but before she could retort the door swung open revealing Lucille with nothing short of euphoria billowing up from her glimmering turquoise eyes and pinkish white complexion.

“What did you find?” Price asked without a breath of a pause.

“Looks like you’re in luck tonight, Price!”

Renshu turned, expecting to see drool collecting on Price’s lower lip.

“We got you a winner! The sample was one hundred per-cent Diesel, no foolin’!”

“Great work, Lucille.”

“You bet, Cap. Anything else I can do for you tonight?”

“No. Thank you,” she said and switched her attention to the lobby, walking in brisk steps which Renshu followed.

“Everyone on duty I’m going to need you all. We’ve got ourselves a raid.”

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