Killer Summer

Killer Summer by Ridley Pearson Page B

Book: Killer Summer by Ridley Pearson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ridley Pearson
Tags: Fiction, Mystery
handset and decided to respond himself. Another day, another weekend, he would have left the call for others—he tried hard to avoid micromanagement—but with his patience worn thin awaiting word from the patrol he’d sent out to Democrat Gulch, he knew the short drive down to Bellevue would keep his mind on other things. Besides, he’d known Bob Parker, the owner of Sun Valley Log Homes, for years.
    A round-faced man, with clear blue eyes and hard hands, Bob had taken a small lumberyard and turned it into a company that manufactured homes of all sizes and budgets. He dressed like a lumberjack, disguising a six-figure income.
    He shook his head at Walt from the summer porch. Beatrice, who’d been heeling nicely, broke away to investigate an empty dog bowl by the porch steps.
    “Damnedest thing,” Bob said.
    “What’s that?” Walt asked, one eye on Beatrice. He didn’t begrudge her the pursuit of food, but it was incorrect to break heel without permission. Like everything else around him, Beatrice needed his time.
    “The only way I can get five minutes with you is to have my place busted into,” Bob said.
    “I thought you were probably still sore over the whooping you took in the tournament,” Walt said.
    “A different third-base umpire and you would be the one that’s sore.”
    “So you’re still sore?”
    “A game should be decided by the players, not the umps.”
    “So let’s have a rematch,” Walt proposed.
    “For the trophy?”
    “I didn’t say that. But bragging rights should be good enough for a losing team.”
    “ Losing team? You think?”
    “Why don’t we find out?”
    “Oh, we’ll find out,” Bob said. “Or, more likely, you will.”
    Walt called Beatrice away from the bowl. She’d licked it any harder, the glaze would’ve come off.
    “Such claims are better settled on the diamond.”
    “I couldn’t agree more,” said Bob.
    Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Tuttle was to Walt’s left, consulting two paramedics and overseeing their care of one of Bob’s employees, sitting on the bumper of the ambulance, a blood-pressure sleeve around his left arm.
    “So why am I here?” Walt said.
    “It’s not exactly like we guard this place at night,” Bob said. “You know me, Walt: throw a chain around the gate out front, make sure the keys are out of the equipment, and pack it up home. What’s to steal? A few hand-drawn logs? I don’t think so. Cash? Never a penny on the property. I suppose you might roll a John Deere mower into the bed of your half-ton, but it’s never happened.”
    “Isn’t that the Dodge kid?”
    “Morgan? Yeah. Looking to get a jump on his college loan.”
    “How’s that?” Walt asked.
    “College loan,” Bob repeated, as if Walt hadn’t heard. “He’s been working nights for the past month. Starts over in Moscow middle of August. Wanted to get a nut under him, and I said fine. Why not? If he wants to spend his evenings sharpening mower blades and swapping out air filters, who am I to stop him? I didn’t know that that would mean working ’til one in the morning. Good God, talk about initiative. Walt, the kid’s got a battery in him that won’t die.”
    “So Morgan was here late last night?” Walt said, hoping that might encourage the Cliffs Notes version.
    “He was. Wishes he hadn’t been now, I want to tell you.”
    “Kids?” Walt asked. “Vandals?”
    “Who the heck knows?” Bob said. “Whoever it was fried his ass with a cattle prod or Taser or something. Knocked him flat on his ass, I’ll tell you that.”
    Walt looked around the yard: five acres of piled logs, mountains of split wood, and stacks of scrap. There were a half dozen badly worn-out Caterpillar tractors and forklifts.
    “Damned near stopped his ticker, from what the ambulance boys are saying,” said Bob.
    Walt didn’t like the sound of it. The break-in itself wasn’t all that unusual. The Wood River Valley had seen a sharp increase in vandalism and burglaries over the past

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