This story is posted for the exclusive enjoyment of readers of the Nifty Archive. While you are free to make a personal copy, no copy of this manuscript may be published, copied, posted to another web site, or otherwise disseminated without express permission from the author.
The contents of this story are fictional. Any resemblance of characters to living or lived persons is strictly coincidental. Certain characters engage in sexual acts which may or may not be legal in the state or country in which a reader may reside. Any reader with objections to graphic descriptions of sexual encounters between males who may not have reached the legal age of consent, or whose local, regional, state or national jurisprudence prohibits such descriptions, should not read further.
Wednesday, July 7, 1993
Officer Tremane (actually, Captain, as it turned out) was polite, firm, and absolutely no-nonsense. After he read the card, he started peppering Brad with questions . . .
"Do you understand the rights you have just been advised of, Mr. Weston?"
"Yessir," said Brad.
"May I see your ID, Mr. Weston?"
Brad handed over his Driver's license, already conveniently out of his wallet. Tremane looked at it for a moment, then scratched the surface with his fingernail.
"Have you ever purchased a weapon?"
"What were your movements last night?"
I had this ridiculous image of Brad taking a dump. Despite the tension, the trickle of fear that slid down my backbone, I stifled a giggle. Some guys just don't have respect, you know? I wished I could sent the thought to Brad, then thought better of it. He'd just think I was weirding out again.
"I was here at home from lunchtime yesterday until you came in the door."
"You at no time left the premises?"
"Can that be verified?"
"Brad didn't leave this house from two yesterday afternoon," Jeremy said.
"What about during the night?"
"He was here all night," said Boo. "The doors were locked and the burglar alarm was on without interruption from 9pm until six this morning."
"That doesn't mean he didn't leave," said Tremane. He was writing in a little notebook.
"Yes it does," said Boo. "I set the alarm when I went to bed last night at ten. Brad and Tim were both . . . in bed, and Mr. Waters and Mr. Charter were in the guest rooms. The alarm goes off if the front or back doors open, or if the windows are opened more than four inches, unless the alarm is switched off. If it's switched off then back on during the night, the 'interrupt' light is on in the morning. It wasn't lit this morning when I shut it off. I suppose you can verify that with the alarm company."
I wondered how Boo knew about the alarm so quickly. I guess housekeepers have to know a lot about things like that. I looked at Throckmorton. He was looking at Boo intently, and gave a slight nod when she finished. I thought fleetingly "how can she know we were in bed?" but it could have been just a turn of phrase . . .
"Do you have any idea as to when the car might have left the garage?"
I wondered if it was the sound of the car or the garage door that had wakened me in the middle of the night.
"I heard a car engine around eleven-thirty," said Boo, "but I didn't pay much attention. It could have been next door." The Ripley's driveway is pretty close to ours at the back, maybe thirty five feet or so, ever since they put the extension on their house after his brother's kids came to live with them. His brother and sister in law died in a light plane crash in 85, and their three teenage daughters were adopted by the Ripleys the same year. With four kids of their own, they either had to move or build. They built an extension with four bedrooms and two or three baths. I guess girls need more time for makeup and stuff.
"Wouldn't you have heard the garage door as well?" said Tremane.
"Dad had doors built that don't make a lot of noise," said Brad. He's right -- they ran on Teflon bearing strips. Dad showed me how they worked. He said when he was a kid in Sunnyvale, his bedroom was right over the garage, and he couldn't stand the noise the door made going up and down.
"Did you loan or give your car to anyone?"
"No. I was just reporting it stolen when you got here."
"Do you own or have access to a . . . " he consulted the little notebook. " . . . 357 Magnum handgun or a (here, I forget the marque, but I think it was Browning, if that's a brand) semi-automatic nine millimeter hand gun?"
"Who has keys to the vehicle?"
"No-one but me. And my Dad has a set. One key for the ignition and another for the doors and trunk."
"May I see the keys, please?"
Brad took his keys out of his shorts.
"And the set your father has? Where are they?" Staccato questions, as if to keep Brad off balance.
"He . . . he . . . "
Jeremy jumped into the ring. "Officer, Brad's parents were killed three days ago," he said in a voice that you could tell was being controlled by someone who was very, very angry. "You're pushing too hard."
"I'm very sorry about that," said Tremane, as if he was talking to a child, "but a woman has been murdered and found in this man's car. If she were your daughter, would you want me to ask questions and be a heartless bastard, or roll over and play dead?"
"What!" at least three of us said. I think Brad was the only one who didn't start firing questions.
"How was that?" said Jeremy. His face read "dumbfound" in capital letters.
"Are you sure?" was my equally brilliant query. As if they wouldn't have checked.
"Who?" said Boo.
Tremane held his hands up like a gospel minister and almost shouted to get us all quieted down.
"The vehicle was found this morning near Chico, completely burned out."
I could see Brad's face fall through his chin. His "baby," the Camaro he'd worked for so hard and for so long to buy, was gone. All those hours and hours spent on restoring it, all that TLC, had gone up in smoke.
"It contained the remains of a woman, burned . . . beyond recognition. They also found a .357 Magnum and a semi automatic."
I'm not sure to this day exactly what a .357 Magnum looks like, but it packs one heck of a wallop, according to Gutierrez. It's what was used to . . . kill . . . my Mom and Dad. The weapon was produced as evidence at the inquest, but I . . . couldn't look at it.
Jeremy was a little contrite -- but not a lot. "Ask your questions, officer. But don't forget you're still part of the human race." You could still see the anger.
"Mister Weston. Where did your father keep the other set of keys to your car?"
"On his key-ring," Brad said.
"Which is where?"
Jeremy jumped in. "In the morgue, as far as we know. In the bloody morgue, for God's sake!"
"Are you sure the keys are still on the ring?" asked the cop in a soft voice. He was speaking directly to Brad, but looking at Jeremy -- not unkindly.
"No," said Brad. His voice was muted, but strong. My guy is not weak. There was fire in his eyes, a combative look that was more than a little intimidating. "Why haven't you checked?"
Tremane looked right back, and the air took on a chill as the two glared at one another.
"How were your parents killed?" Tremane asked, very softly, almost in a whisper. He looked . . . apprehensive. He didn't know.
The telephone rang, saving the moment. Boo answered it, and held it out to Tremane. "For you," she said. There was a haughty quality to her voice, and she looked at Tremane the way she'd look at a water stain on the countertop. She was not just a disinterested observer. She was on our side.
Tremane spoke -- or rather, barked -- his name into the phone, then listened a while, said "right," and handed the phone back to Boo.
"Our apologies for the intrusion, Mr. Weston. We're just trying to find a murderer."
"So are we," said Brad, starting, as if from a trance. "So are we."
There was a steel edge to his voice. It spoke of determination, strength, maturity, and fearlessness. It said "This man is to be reckoned with." I felt yet another sort of admiration for my man, my brother, my partner.
"That was Detective Gutierrez," said Tremane. "He should be here in a few minutes." Tremane must have given some kind of signal, because all the officers seemed to relax, hands moving away from their pistols and their rifles, guns -- whatever they are -- lowered.
"First, my deep apologies for this intrusion," said Tremane. "I wasn't . . . I didn't know that your parents were . . . deceased, or that there was an active file in the department."
He was talking to Brad, glancing at the rest of us. He suddenly looked less threatening.
"May I ask a few more questions?" Tremane said, the edge in his voice gone. "I really need your help."
The doorbell rang again, somehow reducing the tension in the air. Boo went to get it, before William could react.
Brad said, "Sure." The fire was no longer in his eyes, but you could tell it wasn't far away.
As Tremane started his questions, I looked at the two cops who had come in with William. They stood in the passageway to the dining room, their heads almost touching the doorframe. They were watching Brad and me and Jeremy and William the way snakes watch mice.
"Did you loan the car to anyone recently?"
Brad said "no," almost mechanically.
"Has anyone driven it at any time besides you since you bought it?"
"Just Bud, my best friend. And Tim."
"Charles Carter. I've known him since kindergarden. He and I restored it together. He's only driven it once or twice since we finished restoring it."
"Who put the car in the garage, and when?"
"I did, yesterday, at maybe four-thirty." I said. Tremane turned to me, his pencil scurrying over the little pad.
"Did you lock the garage door?"
"I put it down with the door opener," I said. "It can only be opened with the remote, or from inside the garage."
"Did you lock the side door to the garage?"
"I don't remember. Probably not," I answered. "We usually leave it open unless we're going away." Brad gave me a look that seemed to say I was doing all right. I wished for the hundredth time that he could "talk" with me.
"Who owns the Bentley?"
"I do," said Jeremy. Tremane turned away from me, and I started breathing again. I hadn't realized I was holding my breath.
"How long has it been parked in the drive?"
I saw Thurston Throckmorton out of the corner of my eye as he rounded the table, brushing against the mail basket, not quite tipping it off the table. One time I was glad to see a lawyer, for sure. Becky was right behind him. They weren't rushing, but you could tell they were not dallying.
"Since about two yesterday after . . .," said Jeremy, not quite finishing as he looked over at Throckmorton.
"What seems to be the trouble, Captain?" the smooth, calm voice of our lawyer seemed to blanket quiet over the room. Becky quietly sat down at the table alongside Boo, while Throckmorton took up position beside it, one hand touching it with two fingers, not quite pushing down on it, just touching lightly. There was a studied look to his stance, like it was . . . a courtroom interrogation stance.
"Who are you?" said Tremane, after a pause to size up this latest arrival. Throckmorton was in his attorney guise, copy fifteen, and cut a pretty imposing figure. Not a bead of moisture on his face, despite the oppressive heat outdoors.
"My name is Thurston Throckmorton, Captain Tremane," he said, holding out his hand. "I'm Bradley and Timothy Weston's temporary guardian as well as their family counsel. This," he said turning his head to Becky, "is Rebecca Houston, of the Sacramento County Human Services Department. May I ask the nature of your business with my clients?"
I marveled at the smoothness of the guy. He'd read Tremane's nametag, taken charge with the introduction, and put Tremane into a neat compartment, all in one phrase.
"I see," said Tremane, hesitating for just a second before he shook hands with his natural foe. At least that's what it looked like. "Good afternoon, ma'am," he said with a slight bow to Becky.
"Hello, officer," Becky said in a new voice. It was hers, alright, but it had a steely edge to it.
"Your client's car was found this morning on a construction site just off I - 5 at the Chico exit," Tremane said, like he was tired of repeating the tale. "The thing was torched, completely burned out. The tow truck driver found the remains of an unidentified person, probably female, age unknown, about five-five, five-eight, slight build. The body was apparently bound and gagged, shot through the head, stuffed into the trunk. The car showed no signs of being hot-wired or jumped."
"Was it necessary to bring an armed force into the house?"
"I felt it was prudent to ensure that we had all bases covered," Tremane said, a little defensively.
"I agree," said the lawyer.
I was a little surprised at that. Why was an armed guard needed? Then I thought of the murders, the guns, the car being taken out of our garage, and I understood.
"At what time was the car burned?" asked Throckmorton quietly.
"Sometime between midnight and seven this morning. The contractor's security firm drove past the spot where the car was found a little after midnight. CHP got a report of a possible grass fire from a trucker on the interstate at four-thirty, but never found it. It could have been the car. It got light at about that time, and the fire was . . . hot enough that it didn't produce a lot of smoke. It wouldn't have attracted much attention on one of those big building sites, anyway. When the work crews arrived at 7am, the fire was pretty much out, but the car was still hot."
I had a thought, which burst out in a question. "Duct tape?"
"Probably. The restraints apparently melted in broad bands around the hands and feet, as well as the face, leaving the metallic waffle pattern typical of duct tape," Tremane said. His eyes bored holes in mine. "Why?"
"That's what . . . they . . . used on Mom and Dad." I said. I was surprised that that didn't make me teary. "It's hard to breathe with duct tape over your mouth and part of your nose," I said without thinking. Then, only then, I remembered . . . Dad was snorting a little on the kitchen floor, trying to clear his nose to breathe, tormented by the allergies of early summer.
Tremane cleared his throat. The room was quiet, for some reason. "Yes."
It was Brad's turn. "Execution-style? With the three fifty-seven?"
"Apparently, yes," Tremane said. "There was too little . . . unconsumed . . .to be able to say for sure. The Coroner will have to work mostly from photographs . . . the remains disintegrated where . . . the wind caught it."
I wondered how it was possible for a car fire to consume a body that much, but I didn't dare ask.
"Same as Mom and Dad," said Brad. "Cold-blooded."
The doorbell went off again, and William turned to get it. The hulks in the dining room doorway had moved, so he went through it as a shortcut. Boo looked at me, then at William's back, and gave a little grin at me.
"Are my clients under any suspicion of connection to the death?" Throckmorton asked, quite formally.
"Not at present," said Tremane. "Neither of them appears to have been able to have been in Chico at the time of the incident. But it's impossible to determine the time of death of the victim. I've spoken with Detective Gutierrez."
"Very well. Then unless you have any further questions that my clients might answer . . ."
"No, I think we've about done for now," said Tremane. He put away his little book. "I'm sorry if we caused any concern."
Just then, Gutierrez walks into the room, which is now starting to look like a bus terminal.
"Hello, John," Gutierrez said to Tremane. "You do quick work."
"Hey, Armando," said Tremane. "Thanks."
"Thurston," said Gutierrez, turning to Throckmorton, "I may have committed a judgement error here. We'll have a car on duty here until we're more comfortable with security -- if that's all right. I think you should have the locks changed."
"Yes," said Throckmorton. "I agree."
I couldn't help but wonder if he agreed that an error had been made.
"We've got a possible I.D. on the Jane Doe," said Gutierrez. "We found what may have been the victim's purse a few feet in back of the car. The credit cards belong to a Susan Westley. I believe she was employed by Mr. Weston?"
"Yes, she's his bookeeper," said Throckmorton.
I thought of the meek little woman with the big smile, who'd shown me how a calculator with a paper tape worked when I was maybe seven or so, and every year remembered my birthday, sent me a Christmas card. She was never too busy to show me something new with numbers, for as long as I could remember. She always smelled of lavender and rosemary.
Brad looked at me with an expression on his face that I couldn't quite make out. He wanted to talk to me, though. He gave a barely perceptible shake of his head towards our rooms.
"Excuse me," I said. "I want to talk to Brad about something. In private."
"Of course," said Gutierrez.
I walked towards the back of the house, and Brad followed me.
"You're pretty brazen," he said to me as we went into my room and closed the door.
"Like Dad says," I said, turning into his arms for a hug and a kiss. "You don't ask, you don't get."
"I'm asking," Brad whispered on my lips.
"Not now," I said from somewhere. "My bed squeaks."
He laughed, which was a good sign.
"What's up?" he asked.
"Do you get the impression this has something to do with Dad's business?"
"Yeah. But there's something weird. Why would someone take my car to dump Suzie's body?"
"Somebody's maybe trying to make the cops think you done it?"
"Did it, dip."
"How can it be a who-done-it if it's a you-did-it?"
"Oh, cripes. I walked into that one," he said, and goosed me good.
"Yeah," I said, squeezing just the head of his dick, feeling the sponginess inflate under his shorts. "What you think is going on?"
"I don't know, Loon," he murmured in my ear. "Somebody trying to . . . steal the company?"
"I'm more worried about somebody trying to steal you from me," I said. "If they can steal your car while we sleep, they could have put a bullet into one of us just as well."
"I know. I thought that too."
"What do we do?"
"I think we stay here until . . . Thursday is over, then we get outta here."
"Jeremy and William?"
"Not sure, " he nuzzled my neck, just under the ear. It's one of the spots that has a direct connection to my shiver center. "I like them a lot so far, but I'm just not . . . I don't know. Silly I guess."
"Well, I almost feel like they're intruders a little. Like they'd get between us somehow. Try to, well, influence us, take over more than I want them to."
"Dunno," he turned and flopped on the bed. His ass just glowed like a homing beacon. I wondered if he knew how beautiful it was. "There's no place for her to . . . stay apart from us up there."
"Can we go anywhere on our own?" I asked, sitting down on the floor next to the bed, my back to the mattress, his right arm draped around my front. His lips found the back of my neck, and made shivers float up and over the crown of my head.
"My car's gone," he said. "We've got no wheels."
"Will they let you get another?"
"Who's to say no?" His lips were driving me bananas. I could feel the whisper of his breath on my neck as he spoke.
"I don't know - it's just like I don't feel we're . . . in control, here. I don't know who's . . . in charge."
His hand snuck inside my Tee, and his fingers found my left tit -- naturally, the most sensitive one. My dick rose, hoping to take a look around the room, but my boxers and shorts kept it flat against my leg.
"I dunno," he said softly. "I think this situation is pretty much under control." He scooped me up and pulled me up on the bed, crosswise, so that my head was almost to the left edge, and my crutch was right under his nose.
I couldn't resist, and let him have his way with me. He just lifted the leg of my shorts to one side and pulled me out, and swallowed me whole, before it was totally hard -- but only by a microsecond.
"We'd better get back, before they get antsy," I said as sincerely as possible, not wanting to blow my cookies too fast. It's better when it builds up, right? His tongue was working magic on the head, sending thousands of volts down the shaft, while his mouth milked me like a calf. His hair felt soft as down between my fingers.
"Mmmmpppffff," he said. His finger found my hole, and despite the shorts, he got enough in to touch my nut, and it was all over, the tiny bit of fight in me evaporated, and I slid down the jump to liftoff. His fingertip massaged me like a urologist, and I closed my eyes for just a second, trying to touch him, tell him I love him, and . . .
Wham! His finger must have been attached to a battery, because I felt the shock. My muscles clamped down around his finger, and his mouth just Hoovered a climax right out of me, pulling my seed from deep inside me into deep inside him, his lips frozen maybe a third of the way down my dick. His tongue and the suction of his mouth drove me crazy, and I had to twist my head into the pillow to keep from shouting out.
That would have been something -- a houseful of cops, a scream from the bedroom, they all rush in to find Dannyboy getting blown by his brother . . .
The Distant Early Warning Floorboard squeaked -- I shot up.
"Jesus, Mary and Joseph!" I whispered loudly. "If we get caught, they'll lock us up for sure!"
I scooted down on the floor again. Brad stole a quick kiss as my face passed his, and he rolled on his back, and raised his knees up just as Jeremy called through the door.
"You guys all right?"
"Yeah," Brad called back. I was too busy stuffing myself back into my boxers. "Be right there."
"Tremane's about to leave," Jeremy said, opening the door just a few inches and sticking his head in. "You want me to make excuses?"
We were as far apart as you can get by this time, me back on the floor on the right hand side of the bed leaning up against it, Brad on the bed, but on the far left side.
"Just talking a little about the car and stuff," Brad said. "I want to ask Tremane something before he goes. Be right there."
"Okay." Jeremy closed the door behind his disappearing head.
"Let's go," Brad said, lunging onto his feet. His shorts still showed a bulge.
"Hadn't we better take care of that first?" I said. I really would have liked to stay in my room for another half hour or so.
"Later," he promised, putting his hand in his shorts to move things into respectability.
"I intend on making you keep that promise," I said, jumping up and adjusting Jimmy, still swollen from the explosion. "Do you think Jeremy . . . suspects?"
"Don't be silly," he said, looking back at me from the door. "Who can tell?"
"They say 'it takes one to know one' don't they?"
"We're not like that," Brad said. He had his hand on the knob, but didn't turn it.
"I'll bet he does," I said. "And if not him, William. I saw him look at us a couple of times yesterday, sorta funny-like."
"Whatever. C'mon, let's go," he said, and he yanked the door open, a little too hastily. I half expected to see Jeremy still there, ear to the door, but he wasn't. We paraded back into the family room.
The cops were all gone, except Tremane and Gutierrez. The two of them were sitting on the couch, going over some papers. Boo was doing something in the sink, and William was in the TV room, sitting at the cards table tapping on his PV. I guess Jeremy had gone back in there with him, hidden by the half wall. Thurston and Becky were at the breakfast table, a yellow legal pad in front of Thurston, who was writing busily. The lot of them looked up as we came down the hall.
"There you are," said Becky. "I thought you'd had a bolt of sense and were going to take a nap."
"Nah," said Brad. "We just wanted to talk something over."
Throckmorton said nothing, just looked at the two of us.
"Captain Tremane?" Brad asked.
"How hot does it have to get for somebody to burn up so much that . . . the wind breaks the remains up?"
"Don't usually see that in car fires," said Tremane. "Has to be really hot, for quite a while."
"Somewhere above a thousand degrees, I think," interjected Gutierrez.
"Is my car . . . melted?"
"Partly," Tremane said.
"What made it get so hot?"
"Well, the car was parked almost on top of a pile of kiln-dried lumber. The wood and gasoline made a sort of mini-firestorm, I guess," said Tremane.
"So my car is a total loss?"
"Total." There was coldness in his voice. I think he was upset that Brad would think of his car, and not the person inside who'd lost her life. Thurston gave Brad a funny look, and Becky too. Gutierrez had no expression at all on his face. I was puzzled. Brad wasn't that concerned about the car, I could sense it. He had another reason for the question.
"Does that mean that any fingerprints and things would be gone as well?"
"Did the gas tank explode?"
"No . . . ," he said, pensively. "It must have been open. Good question."
"How much gasoline would it have taken, I wonder?" Brad asked. "I mean, to make that hot a fire?"
"Probably a full tank, maybe even more . . . " Gutierrez wasn't really answering. He was sort of thinking out loud. You could see the gears grinding.
"How full was your tank, son?" asked Tremane. "Any idea?"
"Well, I filled it up in Burney on Sunday. That's better than two hundred miles. There wouldn't have been more than maybe a third of a tank left when it was here. Figure another fifty miles to Chico, the tank would have been below a quarter."
"Unless it got filled up . . . " Gutierrez.
"By whoever stole it," Brad finished.
"Did you have a spare gas tank in the trunk?" asked Gutierrez.
"Nosir," Brad answered before the question was all the way out of Gutierrez' mouth. "Dad says it's too dangerous if you get rear-ended." He thought a second. "Said."
The conversation ended there. Tremane and Gutierrez got up to leave, and Tremane apologized again, shook hands with Throckmorton me and and Brad, called out a goodbye to William and Jeremy, and left by the back door. Gutierrez stayed behind for a bit, after closing the door behind Tremane.
Jeremy came into the room from the TV room, a half-full glass of orange juice in his hand.
"I just want to tell you that a plainclothes officer will keep the house under surveillance for the immediate future," Gutierrez said. "If there's any sign that you're being watched, or someone makes any attempt to . . . do anything, we'll move you out of here."
"Isn't that a little bit late?" said Jeremy. "Maybe we should move them now."
"Maybe," said Gutierrez. "But it's easier to protect someone in a neighborhood like this than in a hoter or a motel downtown. You know who doesn't belong here, and there's plenty of open space a perp has to cross before he can get to the house."
"I think . . ." said Brad. Everyone turned to him. "I think Tim and I should leave after the funeral. Until you get your man."
"Up to you," said Gutierrez. "But let's talk first, before you leave. I don't want any more bodies in this affair."
"You got it," Brad said.
"Detective Gutierrez," started Throckmorton.
"Armando, please," smiled Gutierrez.
"Armando, then. Any idea what is going on?"
"I suspect this is most likely related to the business, somehow," said Gutierrez. "That'll please the politicos, at least. Takes the pressure off."
"I agree," said Throckmorton. "But if it's business, and not political, there's more danger for the boys." He nodded at us. "They own it now."
"That's why we'll have the house staked out," said Gutierrez. "I'm taking no chances from here on."
"A wise course," Throckmorton said, a little grandiously. "But catching the killer or killers is the only way to ensure their safety."
"Yes. And that's what we're going to do. So, if, you'll excuse me . . ." Gutierrez turned to leave by the back door.
"Before you go, Armando . . . " Throckmorton's voice took on an edge. The detective turned back, his hand already on the doorknob. "I don't want to find that some bozo thinks it's necessary to pull a stunt like this again. I'm sure you'll do your best to observe the spirit as well as the letter of the law."
"Yeah," said Gutierrez. "Tremane's got a reputation as a bit of a hothead. He should have checked with me before he got the warrant and plowed in here."
"He's in your department?" Brad asked.
"Yes. A good man. The computer didn't link your car to your parents' file. My fault."
"Why did he get the warrant?" Throckmorton asked.
"There was probable cause," said Gutierrez. "The .357 was traced. It was sold last year to Bradley Parker Weston, age 21, of this address. When the gun and the car have the same registration locus, and there's been a murder, we have to react fast."
"That's crazy!" said Brad. "I never bought a gun in my life!"
"We know," said Gutierrez. "It wasn't your thumbprint on the register."
"Whose was it?" at least three voices asked in harmony.
"Susan Westley." With that, Gutierrez opened the door and left, leaving behind at least four open mouths.