Rubicon Ranch: Necropieces ~ Chapter 8: Seth Bryan — by Lazarus Barnhill

Deputy Kelvin Midget stared out the passenger window of the Lincoln Navigator as it sped through the subdivision. He adjusted the air vent to blow directly onto his face. Even though the early autumn temperatures had dropped from the scorching highs of summer, he still struggled to keep his 300 pound bulk cool enough to be comfortable.

“Lt. Frio tell you about the hot new Latina who moved onto Delano Street?” Midget asked.

“Yep.”

“Well I seen her.”

“Me too,” the sheriff responded.

“She don’t look all that Spanish to me.”

Sheriff Bryan smiled. “How did she look?”

“I think she looks like some of those sweet little college cheerleaders from my football days.”

He nodded. “She is a looker.” He slowed as they maneuvered their way through the subdivision. “Kind of mysterious too.”

“Mysterious how?”

“Well, the people who were in that house were only renting when the murder-suicide happened down the street. Boy was I surprised at how fast the place rented again after all that went down. Would you move into a house near where a murder-suicide happened in the last few weeks?”

“Nope. Not me.”

“Morris Sinclair is the only person I know ghoulish enough to do that. But then I heard it wasn’t a new renter. Turns out the actual owner was moving down here from NorCal. And then this Leia Menendez shows up. Does she remind you of anyone?”

“No. Like who?”

“You need to get out to the movies more often. So I did a little background on her.”

“Oh yeah. Don’t surprise me that you would.”

He nodded. “Seems like Miss Menendez goes by different names in different places.”

Midget chuckled. “So that’s like a sign for you to check her out personally, right?”

“Naw. I have a hunch she’s just trying to relax and stay anonymous. Anyway, I’m still working on Melanie Gray.”

“Melanie Gray?” There was an incredulous note in the deputy’s voice. “Why you dogging her, boss? She is not your type.”

“What makes you say that?” he asked, turning onto Delano Street.

“Well, she’s almost as old as you are. She don’t flirt back when you flirt with her. She’s not a waitress. She’s not married to somebody else. She ain’t got money. Not that she’s not attractive, but she don’t have that million dollar body.”

“How can you tell, really, Midget? I mean, she wears all those clothes. Anyway, my interest might be professional. Her husband died under mysterious circumstances. Could very well be murder and murder means you investigate the spouse first.” He glanced at the deputy. “You know those desert walks she always takes? People hear her saying, ‘Damn you, Alexander.’”

“Was that her husband?”

The sheriff laughed. “Yeah. It would be even more interesting if that wasn’t her husband.”

Midget shifted and looked out the window. “Something tells me, if you finally got up with her you would lose interest in her husband’s death all together.”

Pulling into a driveway, Seth shoved the gear shifter into park. “Let me put it this way, Deputy. My plan is either to nail Melanie Gray or to nail her for murdering her husband. The choice is hers.”

“What if she didn’t kill him?”

“What’s that got to do with it?” He pushed open his door. “You waiting here?”

“Can I keep the air running?”

“Sure.”

“I’ll wait here.”

The sheriff stepped to the front door and rang the bell. Almost instantaneously Moody Sinclair opened the door. She leaned against the frame, studying his face as if searching for something.

“Hello, Sheriff.”

“Hi, Ms. Sinclair. May I come in?”

“Please, call me Moody.”

She backed away and he crossed the threshold. As was his training and so his custom, as he closed the front door he glanced around the entry and at the visible views of the adjoining rooms. Nothing had changed in the month since he last visited her. The door to her little study—where before he sat and told her things about himself, things of which he had not been aware before he put them into words—sat open.

“I understand from the dispatcher you reported a missing person.”

She nodded. “If you can call him a person.”

“So Morris is missing? And he’s been missing for a week?”

“Do you think I should have reported him sooner?”

“What an interesting choice of words. The problem with your dad is that most of the perverse things he does are not technically against the law.”

She gave him a slow, ironic smile. “Isn’t that sick? So tell me this, why is it the kid who sold my dad the autopsy photos went to jail and my dad got off scot free?”

He shrugged. “You father hired Jeannie Fine, probably the best criminal defense attorney in Orange Country, and brought her out here. The Sweetum boy, on the other hand, had a public defender. His dad could have helped him hire a real lawyer, but he was profoundly embarrassed that his own son was stealing gory pictures for Morris. That was the difference between having the charges dropped or being convicted. But the kid isn’t suffering so much. He copped a plea and got time served and probation. They let him go back and live with his mother in San Jose.”

Moody shook her head. “Another innocent person led astray by Morris Sinclair. Sweetum’s son would never have done that if hadn’t been for Morris. My dad is a very perverted man, Seth. I don’t just mean his obsession with all the gruesome stories and pictures. I mean he’s addicted to destroying people’s lives. It’s almost as if he wants to find the filth in every soul, reveal it and exploit it.”

“So what’s he up to this time?”

“I don’t know. He’s run away before. I think part of the reason he faked dementia was because it was an excuse for him just to disappear. Sometimes he stays gone for quite a while—only never this long.”

“Well you don’t think anything has happened to him, do you?”

She shook her head. “I worry about all the people who have to deal with him. I don’t worry about other people taking advantage of him at all.” She glanced in the direction of his private room. “Although, he didn’t really take much money this time and he hasn’t been using his bank cards. I’ve been monitoring them.”

“You haven’t heard from him at all?”

“Um. The other day when I came home, someone had been in the house. I figured it had to be him.”

The sheriff smiled broadly. “So you have no idea what he’s up to?”

“No. That’s really the only reason I think about him. I wonder what mischief he’s serving up. Apart from that, honestly, Seth, as far as I’m concerned the old bastard can stay gone.”

“Yeah. I feel you. It’s sort of like that old country song: ‘Turned out he was a missing person who nobody missed at all.’ Well, if you find out where he is and you need me to go fetch him home, just give me a call.”

“Thanks, Sheriff.”

Pulling open the door, he said, “By the way, Moody, I never did tell you how much I appreciated your help with the Peterson child’s murder. We had figured out who killed who, but without your skills we would never have understood why. Things would have gone a lot harder on Dr. Dahlsing if not for you.”

She leaned against the door. “That’s my upbringing, my training and my experience. I understand and interact well with very disturbed individuals.”

“Yeah. Guess that explains how you helped me.”

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About Lazarus Barnhill

Lazarus Barnhill is a native of Oklahoma who has lived all over the south. He holds three degrees, including a Doctorate in Spiritual Development. He has been obsessed with writing since he was a boy. A father of three and grandfather of three, he resides in North Carolina with his wife of 34 years and an irritating cat, Jessie, who is for sale cheap. Lazarus Barnhill at Second Wind Publishing, LLC: http://secondwindpublishing.com/LazarusBarnhill.html
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