It was almost over. Jake was in the hands of the law. Moody turned away from the living room window after watching as her brother was driven away in the back of the police car. She had been worried as Frio and Midget sat in the car for what seemed like an hour but had only been ten minutes. She was afraid they would come back for her.
Peace settled over her. She looked around the living room. Everything was okay in here.
Opening the door to the guest room, she looked at the junk her brother had scattered. In only a few short hours, Jake had made the guest room resemble the messy room from his childhood. After she dropped everything that was in plain site into a pile in the middle of the floor, she carefully reached under the bed and up into the bottom of the steel springs that supported the mattress set. Her hand came away with nothing.
Moody briefly wondered if she was being a bit too preemptive in gathering all of her brother’s possessions into a black garbage bag. The thought floated away as she stuffed clothing, duffel bag, papers and laptop into the bag. She almost laughed when she looked at the bag. The bumpy curves resembled a human body folded in half.
No, she was not hasty in her assumption that the police would hold onto Jake. He had darkness in his past. After all, he was a Sinclair and evilness was in his genes. No amount of religious light could pierce the shadows inside her brother.
Moody had come to terms with her own soul’s black hole. She was content to let her life play out in an alternate field. It was one of the reasons she became a psychologist. Knowing what she was capable of gave her the peace she needed to keep from going crazy. Clinically crazy, that is.
As a psychologist, she could also see the blackness and the capability for evilness in others. Every single person in Rubicon Ranch was poised on the edge of murderous intent. Even the newcomers to the neighborhood were murderers-to-be. All it would take was a little nudge in the right direction. For some, Moody was in the position to provide that little nudge.
Dragging the black garbage bag down the hall, she paused at the opened bathroom door. Her reflection in the vanity’s mirror was bedraggled and tense. As if viewing herself from afar, she looked at her crumbling face as tears rolled down. Her eyes were red and puffy. Her nose started running.
Good. She turned the tears off and blew her nose. With the chaos of Morris’s shenanigans and Jake’s reappearance, Moody hadn’t been sure of her ability to turn her emotions on and off. It was good to know she could still flip an on-demand switch for the tears.
She reflected on her true emotional state as she tossed the trash bag containing Jake’s junk into the garage. Children learn what they live. What the rest of that statement didn’t communicate was, some children are comfortable with what they learn.
Moody and her brothers had grown up in an atmosphere of suspicion and hate. The little bit of love from their mother had been overshadowed by their father’s enormous personality. Eventually, their mother had been in as much fear of her children as she was of her husband. Moody had watched as the mother who had tried to introduce a semblance of normality into an abnormal household became a non-person. Moody hated her for that.
Her mother had interfered in the natural order of Sinclair life. Normal was abnormal during Moody’s childhood and adolescence. It was the skewered side of life that the true Sinclairs fit in with ease.
Closing the door to the garage, Moody glanced at the clock and was surprised to see that only ten minutes had passed since the patrol car pulled away from her house. She was becoming mildly obsessed with the passage of time. Maybe it was because she couldn’t wait to get the Sinclair men out of her life.
At 6:05 in the evening, she would typically be preparing supper. This was not a typical day. Of course, none of her days had been typical since her move back to her father’s house. She mentally corrected herself: it was her house, now. Morris was not coming back.
Hopefully, Jake would never set foot in the house again, either. How fortunate a blood-covered axe had been found under her brother’s bed. The sly smile on Moody’s face reflected her good mood as she sat down in the quiet living room and thought about how to celebrate.
A nice glass of wine would be a good start. She might even splurge and cook one of Morris’s precious New York strip steaks. Since he wasn’t around, he couldn’t raise hell and force Moody to eat the tougher chuck steak he had ordered in bulk and frozen especially for his daughter.
Despite his affinity for blood, Morris liked his steaks well done, almost to the point of inedible charcoal. Moody preferred hers slightly warm and as bloody as possible.
The wine was quickly relaxing her. Closing her eyes and slipping into a peaceful cocoon, her tranquility was interrupted by the sound of a powerful engine in front of her house. Frowning, Moody rose from her chair and peeked out the front window.
Her stomach dropped when she saw the same police car that was supposed to be delivering her brother to his lawless fate parked in the same position it had been in only twenty minutes before. Why were they back?
Options ran through her mind: she could escape out the back, she could refuse to open the door, she could slit her wrists. What she would not do was go back to anything with bars.
Maybe they were back because they forgot something. As far-reaching as it might seem, it was the only explanation Moody wanted to face. She couldn’t think they were back for her.
Ultimately, she did the only thing she could when she heard the knock on the door: she answered it with a shaking hand.
Midget looked at her with more than his usual poker face. A diamond-tipped drill would do no damage to the officer’s stone face. Moody’s voice caught in her throat as she opened her mouth to speak. All that came out was a squeak. No emotion from the gigantic officer.
Clearing her throat, she tried again. “What do you want?” she asked in a tremulous voice. She hated that she sounded scared.
“Miss Sinclair, we need you to come down to the station.”
This was how it had started the last time. Her last ride in the back of a police car had ended with a trip to jail. Nothing good would come of this and Moody had no way to extract herself from the situation. Even if she ran, Midget’s long legs would catch up to her within seconds.
Picking up her purse and quickly swigging possibly the last taste of wine she would ever have, Moody walked out ahead of Midget. She heard a loud click as he locked the door. Just as they reached the police car, another car showed up.
When the other officer emerged from the driver’s side, Moody fully expected him to have a roll of police tape. He didn’t. The only thing he was carrying was his radio as walked up to Midget.
“You got this?” Midget asked.
“Yeah. I’ll make sure it’s secured.” Turning to Moody, this other officer’s face was as unreadable as Midget’s.
“Nothing will happen to your house while you’re gone, Miss Sinclair.”
At Moody’s puzzled look, Midget hurried her into the back seat and into the welcoming company of her brother. Grinning at her, Jake looked every bit as reprehensible as their father.
“Well, Mary, Mary. Look who the cats dragged across the litter box,” he said with a wink.
“Did you put that axe under my bed? Mary, Mary, you should know better. My axe is a lot bigger than yours and much sharper,” he whispered. The pleasant look on Jake’s face did nothing to soften the death glare in his eyes. Mary was only slightly worried. After all, Jake’s criminal history did not make him a citizen of the year even in comparison to hers.
She should have known Jake would try to bring her down with him. He started talking again, but she tuned him out. She turned away and ignored her brother as she looked out the window for the short ride to the police station.
How could it only be 6:17? Moody looked at the clock above the officer’s desk in disbelief. Time was slowing down and forcing her to feel every damn second of her life today.
Jake had been led to another office and the sound of the door shutting was not as ominous as Moody hoped it would be. She had a bad feeling about her brother and it wasn’t out of concern for him. Moody was worried about herself.
As she sat, she noticed more official-type men and women pouring into the sheriff’s station. FBI or some other federal or state was getting involved in whatever had excited the local force. She wondered how many of these new officers were aware of her history. She wondered how long she would have to sit and worry.
Her short wait was over when one of the officers emerged from the sheriff’s office and asked her to follow him. Instead of going into Bryan’s office, they headed down the corridor and into a hall she had never noticed before.
The room they were in was not large, but not small. There was a table and chairs and in the corner, a table with a metal tray containing a somewhat battered box. As she and the officer sat at the table, a trio of official-types joined them. Amid the small talk, Moody could not pick up on any hints as to why she was there.
Sheriff Bryan came in a few minutes later and shut the door. As he settled into his chair, Moody noticed a fleeting look of sympathy cross his face when he finally looked her way. It was disconcerting and served to put Moody’s nerves even further on edge.
They’re arresting me, they’re arresting me, was all she could think. The sheriff feels sorry for me because they’re arresting me. Even when Bryan started talking, she could not hear what he said above the cacophony in her mind.
“. . . and I’m really sorry to have to do this, but your brother isn’t a reliable source since he’s been out of touch for so many years. Now, Miss Sinclair, I really hate to ask this of you, but you’re the only . . .” Bryan abruptly stopped when Moody laughed. Everyone peered at her with unreadable looks. It was a nervous outburst but how could Moody tell the officers she was relieved to hear she might not be arrested today?
Today was a good day not to go to jail, Moody thought as she tried to bring her agitated thoughts into focus.
“Sorry,” she said. “Everything with Morris missing and Jake arrested is getting to me,” and the tears started coming down, right on cue. A few expressions softened slightly as they looked at the distraught picture Moody successfully cast.
“Look, Moody, we can do this quickly and Doctor Winston is on call for you, if you need him. Like I said, you’re the only family member who’s been with Morris recently and we need you to officially identify, uh, his, uh . . . head.”
Moody almost laughed out loud again. Instead, she channeled it into a sound of anguish as the box from the corner was placed on the table and one of the officers opened it. He took out something that looked like a plastic-wrapped roast. As he peeled the plastic back, even Moody’s cast-iron stomach flipped.
“That’s Morris,” she said. The officer put the remains of the head back into the box.
Inwardly, Moody smiled and breathed an enormous sigh of relief. The old bastard had finally become the main Necropiece in the book of his life.
Everyone started talking at once. Moody sat at the table, but was no longer the focus of attention. Deadhead Morris was the center now, just like when he was alive and all his parts were connected.
Glancing at the clock on the wall, Moody noted the time: at 6:32 PM, her new life began. With new life came an appetite and Moody was suddenly in the mood for steak tartare.