Midnight Owl (A Joe Leverette Mystery, Book 1)

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CHAPTER TEN

Leverette and Marsden walked into Andy’s lab and, as usual, were amazed by all the electronic equipment he had. Shelves were lined with various types of electronic gadgets they didn’t recognize.

Andy Clark had been with the force for thirteen years and was the best at what he did. He didn’t look like someone who would know about computers or any other kind of electronics. He looked more like someone who should be on a farm. A good ole boy, tall and muscular, who should be bailing hay instead of being tucked away in this lab.

“Hey, guys,” Andy said in his bright chipper way. “Got something for me?”

“Yeah. Footage from some warehouse surveillance cameras,” Marsden said. “How soon can you get to them?”

“Let me take a look now,” he said and took the two tapes Leverette handed him. “They still use tapes? They should upgrade. Glad I still have a tape player.”

Leverette and Marsden knew he was just thinking out loud, something he was known for.

Andy rolled his chair to the other side of the desk he was sitting at and slipped the first of the two tapes into the machine and started it.

“At least its good quality,” he said as it ran through the tape player. “Is there a specific time you’re looking for?”

“We don’t know for sure,” Marsden said. “We think maybe earlier this morning.”

“Oh, this is the dismembered body case,” he said enthusiastically. “I was hoping something would come into my lab.”

“So you heard about it?” Leverette asked.

“You bet,” Andy said. “And there’s the body part. What was it? It looks small.”

“An arm,” was all Leverette said.

“Let me put the other tape in,” he said, ejecting the first one and putting in the second. He fast forwarded to just before the time stamp on the first tape. As he got closer to the time, with Leverette and Marsden looking over his shoulders, he stopped the tape.

“There’s a figure there,” Marsden said. “Can you wind it back a bit?”

“You bet,” Andy said and wound it back about ten minutes and let it play.

The three watched as a dark figure approached and looked up into the camera. It held up the arm as if taunting them. Then it walked the few steps to the pallets and laid it right on the top palette. It turned, looked back up at the camera, saluted and walked away.

“That fucking bastard,” Leverette said. “His face was completely covered and he had sunglasses on.”

“Did they give you any other tapes?” Andy said. “Maybe I could see what vehicle he used.”

Leverette had two other tapes marked ‘parking lot’ and handed them to Andy. He took the tapes and looked for the one that would correspond with the time stamp on the one they just watched. Andy took out that tape and put in the other. Again they watched. Nothing. He didn’t get into a vehicle just walked out of the parking lot.

“I can check with other area cameras and see if I can find anything,” Andy said. “I’ll give you a buzz if I do, or not.”

“Thanks,” Marsden said and the two detectives left the lab.

McCullough called his boss and told him about what they found.

“Man, I can’t do this today,” he told his boss. “I’m shaking so hard I can hardly stand.”

“How many cars are left?”

“Fifteen. We checked them all and this one was the only one with – someone in it,” McCullough said. He felt like he was going to be sick.

“All right I’ll send Benton to finish up. I want them all moved today.”

“Thanks Boss,” McCullough said and hung up. He told his partner what he just spoke to their boss about then got in his truck and headed home.

He’d just made it through his door when it hit him and he vomited into his toilet. After he was done he flushed it and went to the sink to rinse out his mouth and put some cold water on his face. When he looked in the mirror he saw how ashen he was and thought he’d lie down for a while.

After taking his boots off he stretched out on his sofa trying to get the image out of his head. Then another image crept in: the dream he’d had last night. He watched a man put the body in the two plastic bags and then look him in the eye. The man put his fingers to his lips and made the “Shh” sound. In the dream McCullough heard an owl hoot three times and he woke up shaking. He looked at his clock and it was midnight.

What a fucked up dream, he thought as he opened his eyes. He wondered if he would ever forget it. All he wanted right now was to rest and not remember any of it.

Should he have told the detectives about the dream? No, they’d think he was crazy. He didn’t want to tell anyone. He didn’t want to admit it to himself!

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