dicey,” he said. “Everybody’s buzzed with that one, I’d advise you to keep your distance.”
Shannon hesitated; Gerald deserved the truth, but telling him what she knew served no apparent purpose, so she held back. “I don’t want you to do anything that makes you uncomfortable or jeopardizes your job. But I need to find the owner of that bike, that’s all I can say right now.”
“Talk here says Steve Carson did himself in with drugs. You know anything about that?”
“Not really, but maybe we shouldn’t judge things too fast.”
“Will you tell me about it later?”
“Later is good, I’ll fill you in soon as I can. Trust me on that.”
“I do trust you,” Gerald said. “Always have.”
“One more thing,” Shannon dared before he hung up. “Any video cameras in Helena? You know . . . at traffic lights, ATM machines, the airport maybe.”
“At least a few,” Gerald said. “Not one on every corner like the big cities but still, it’s worth a try. You think somebody drove that monster bike through our fair town of Helena?”
“It’s a possibility, don’t you think?”
“You think like a cop.”
“I watch a lot of CSI .”
“I’ll see what I can find out.”
“You’re a doll,” Shannon said.
“I’m a fool,” Gerald said.
“Call me if you find anything.”
“You’ll be the first.”
Shannon closed the phone and scanned the area again. A hawk sailed overhead and she wondered about Rick. Where was he? Was he safe? Would he call her? Keeping her hand on her holstered pistol, she stepped off the porch and hustled to a weathered wooden birdhouse just past where she’d parked the truck. There she stepped onto a foot-high rock, stood on tiptoe, and reached to the bottom of the birdhouse. Two items fell into her hands as she pulled them from the perch where she’d tacked them, both wrapped in a triple layer of thick plastic bags. One bag held the knife taken from Steve Carson’s body; the other the miniDVD from his desk. Although her orders said to leave both items alone until instructed otherwise, she decided she couldn’t wait any longer to view the DVD’s contents.
Dropping off the rock, she rushed back to her bedroom and slipped the knife into a small secret pocket on the bottom of a black shoulder bag she took from her closet. Then she moved to the computer that sat on a small desk in the corner. With trembling hands, she inserted the DVD into the drive and leaned forward. Unless she missed her guess, the contents of the DVD would tell her a lot, perhaps more than she ever wanted to know.
The computer whirred and the DVD flashed on, but the screen showed a prompt for a password and Shannon had no clue what to enter. She sat back, a hand over her mouth, confusion written on her face. Although she knew exactly what her superiors wanted her to do, she felt totally inadequate to accomplish it.
T he hotel on the outskirts of southeast Atlanta rented rooms for $49.00 per night, and Rick paid cash when he checked in. After slinking to the cramped, dingy space, he threw his bag by the bed, took a quick shower, slipped into a pair of sweat pants and T-shirt, and lay down with his Luger on the night table and tried to rest. When no sleep came, he flipped on the television and watched the news for an hour. A patchwork of calamities flashed before his disbelieving eyes—a suicide bomber, a sniper at an abortion clinic, a lawsuit in Boston advocating polygamy—all of it crazier by the minute. His story still led the broadcasts, but the other disasters added fuel to the news fire and the blaze seemed way out of control. Thankfully, though, nobody mentioned his appearance at Rolling Hills and that calmed him a little. His mom didn’t need any more disturbances.
He paid close attention to the news about him. The cops had searched his three houses and two apartments but found nothing incriminating. So far, said the media, the authorities had not reached a conclusion about