Blood on the Bluegrass - Chapter 3-5

Chapter Three




Detective Michael Norsworthy, Florida Bureau of Investigations, got the call from Paradise, Florida, at 8:30 am. After a quick shower, and the twenty-minute drive from Gainesville he arrived at The Palace pawnshop at 9:30 am. He had had a rough night, up until two in the morning waiting for his daughter to come home. Lisa has seemed to go wild since her mother passed, and graduating high school this year. In his opinion anyway, hers differed.

            Michael felt inadequate in dealing with her swinging moods. It was not a job for a sixty-year old cop. He was never considered a handsome man before, but now his face seemed to be drawn, and haggard. Dark circles under his eyes now a permanent fixture on his deeply creased face. His hair had turned gray practically overnight.

            Things did not look promising at the pawnshop. So far, there were no witnesses. The only other person in the building was the owner who reportedly had been in the basement at the time of the shooting. He had not seen anyone enter or leave the building. Paradise Chief of Police, Tim Burke, had his officers combing the area for anyone who may have seen the shooter leave. Nothing had turned up there either.

            The pawnshop owner had locked the front doors then sat in a corner while on the cordless phone with the dispatcher who took the call. The dispatcher became so concerned about the man’s condition that he called an ambulance for him. The first officers on the scene were able to procure some information from him before the ambulance took him to a Gainesville hospital. There were officers with him there.

            The crime scene appeared not to be contaminated which was something in their favor. Forensics people were still gathering evidence. A photographer handed Norsworthy some instant photos of the scene.

            “Where’s the body, Chief?” Norsworthy asked, running his fingers through his graying hair.

            “It’s in the office here. Looks like a 38 shot to her heart, close range. The only thing that the shooter took was the cash. Nothing was touched in either the jewelry safe or the floor safe here in the office. It looks as if…”

            “I hate to interrupt, but for now I would like to go over the scene myself, and form my own opinions, nothing personal.” After thirty-five years in police work he knew that it was best for him not to let his judgment be clouded by others opinions. He was a graduate of the FBI’s National Academy, and had profiled many scenes like this.

            “Sure, I understand completely.” Chief Burke said.

            Norsworthy spoke into a tape recorder, and noted what he saw. “We have a white female approximately twenty-five years old, blond hair, about a hundred and ten pounds, and beautiful. There are bloody footprints leading away from the office, tennis shoes about a size eight. The suspect is small in stature. Only one set so the shooter must’ve committed the crime alone. Nothing else in the office seems to have been disturbed. The initial confrontation happened at the front counter.”

            Squatting down he gently rolled the victims head to the side. “There are contusions on the victims face probably from a Rossi. The impressions of the diamond shaped pattern of a Rossi’s grip were there, but needs further investigation by the lab. There are bruises on the back of her neck. Finger marks maybe.” Norsworthy positioned his hand the way he imagined the purps. “Right hand four finger marks on the back of the neck one from a thumb on the side, the perp probably ushered her in the office by her neck.”

            Norsworthy felt his knees pop in pain as he stood to get his breath. Everyone in the room was quiet, and watching him. Changing angles he looked at the scene as a whole.

            “It appears to be a spur of the moment killing, not execution. He shot her close range while she faced him. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that this wasn’t their first meeting, probably a pawn customer.” Norsworthy took a breath. “The shooter didn’t spend much time here. He was nervous and rushed. She had been standing by the floor safe. We need to find out if she knew the combination. We’re going to need an inventory of the stock to see if anything is missing. Start with that box of jewelry behind the counter.”

            “Excuse me, Chief.” A young officer poked is head in, and said. “Dispatch just called with a report of an old Cadillac on fire over on Redwing Road. I thought there may be a connection. Can I go check it out?”

            “I’ll go with you. Looks like Detective Norsworthy have everything in control here.”

            “That’s fine; I’ve got about everything I need here for now. Let me know if you think there might be a connection with the car. I’ll be at headquarters.”

            Norsworthy walked out into the front area, and looked at the footprints again, then went behind the counter. He looked out the large front window into the parking lot. She probably saw him walking in from outside yet she didn’t hit the alarm. More evidence she knew him.

            “Did anything turn up in the basement?”

            “No. I checked it myself. That’s where Mr. Cowan was when he heard the shot. He said that he was organizing the DVD players in pawn. There is one on the floor busted where he may have dropped it when he heard the shot. The only way up and down from there is a lift, and it’s real slow. I timed it to be a three-minute ride from the basement to the top floor.” Captain Masters told him.

            “That’s a three-minute ride that no doubt saved his life. No guns on the premises at all, that’s odd?”

            “No sir, Mr. Cowan is a felon.”

            “What was he charged with?”

            “Cocaine charge I believe.”

            “We will have to get a better statement from Mr. Cowan. This could be a set up, a crime of passion. I doubt it, but we’ll have to keep our options open for now.”

            “We have officers there with him now. Apparently he had a mild heart attack. He’s also talking suicide.”

Norsworthy squint his already sharp eyes taking in the huge Santa Clause outside then pulled up his pants that kept inching down his hips. He needed to shop, but honestly didn’t know how: his wife had always done that for him, but she was gone now.

As he was leaving he noticed tire marks on the curb leading out of the parking lot. Winds were picking up, and rain was on the way from a hurricane brewing off the Atlantic coast, threatening to head this way.

On his way back to Gainesville Chief Burke called, and told him that the Cadillac was burnt, but there were some good prints and a license plate.

            “The expired tags are from a Cadillac belonging to Mattie Thompson. I know her, this isn’t her car. Oh, and there is a footpath from the car leading through the field to the 98 Truck Stop? I’ve got officers there right now, but nothing has turned up yet.” Chief Burke said.

            “Anyone reported a stolen vehicle?”

            “Not yet. The clerk at 98 Truck Stop said that truck drivers park their cars there sometimes for weeks while taking their eighteen wheelers on the road.”

            “So, a car could be stolen from there, and might not be reported for weeks until the owner returns, figures.” Norsworthy said. He’d hoped this was going to be an open, and shut case. He was working on his court testimony regarding another big case, and he just didn’t have time.

            “With the interstate right there no telling where he is by now.”

            “When I was leaving I saw some suspicious tire marks on the curb leading out of the parking lot, get…”

            “Your team is already on it.”















Chapter Four




Late June rains left Howard’s Creek rushing rapidly over the broad slabs of moss-covered stones. Dense stands of sycamores, dark-green pines, and wild violets fought for space unhindered by rocky creek banks. Schools of minnows darted around in unison in shallow pools eventually permitting the current to take them further down stream.

It was their spot, their little piece of heaven they liked to call it. , and Ike had rules too. Not unreasonable ones just no glass bottles, no wandering off alone, and the usual camping rules. Pattie had her one rule too, no red whiskey. So the boys had to drink beer or soda while at the creek. Thing about that rule was that it almost always got broken. Rachel highly suspected that whiskey would play a large part in their weekend. Maybe that’s what is bothering Pattie?

“Hey gang, just look at it.” Pattie called. Pattie was the creeks biggest fan. They all loved to come here, but no one loved it like Pattie.

She’d told Rachel once that when she married Ike fifteen-years ago, and he brought her to Kentucky, she felt like she’d been brought to heaven on earth. Rachel knew that she’d been through some hard times before they met, but Rachel didn’t know the details. She just knew that Pattie met Ike in Florida when Ike was down there to buy a horse. He joked that Pattie was the best mare he’d found down there.

They never had children, and Pattie had immediately thrown herself into the farm. She used her bookkeeping skills to guard every dime.

Now, everyone scurried about setting up camp. Ike and Pattie set up their area, and Scott helped Rachel set up hers. Scott never brought a tent, preferring to sleep by the fire in one of the lounge chairs. Scott’s packing consisted of a couple cases of beer, and that’s it. Ike and Pattie had a tent that was huge, air mattress, and the works. It didn’t take long before the grill was set up, beer and food iced down, and tents all erected. They’d done this before, and had learned to set up camp first instead of waiting until it was too dark, and they were too drunk to do it. If that happened, as it did once, they slept on rocks, and used rocks for pillows. With all their chores done the women headed for the water. Ike and Bradley went to gather their fishing poles.

“Hey girls, let’s walk up the creek.” Rachel suggested.

The women grabbed a beer and a pack of cigs as they headed up the creek. They all wore cut off jeans to protect their swim suits from stains, and old sandals or tennis shoes in case of a sharp rock or heaven forbid glass.

Ike called out to the girls, “It must be jelly because jam don’t shake like that!” insinuating they jiggled when they walked. He got the middle finger from he girls in response.

“I want to go with you girls.” Bradley said laughing. , and ya’ll better watch out, I’m fresh out of jail, and you know what that means.”

“Yeah, it means your fresh out of brains.” Vivian said, and they all laughed.

The cool creek water swirled around their ankles threatening to sweep them off their feet, and they had to be careful on the slick-mossy areas that overlaid the rocks like carpet. There had been more than one busted butt on this walk, but it was worth it. To the right, a four-foot wide trough had been formed in the creek bottom that was about two-hundred feet long. This naturally carved trough was their waterslide where they rode rafts letting the water propel them down the creek until it emptied into the big pool where they fished.

Up above where the water slide started lay the water falls they called their Jacuzzi even though it was cool water instead of hot. There was only a few feet drop to the falls, just enough to sit, and let the water pour over their shoulders. It was heavenly. There were even places to set their beers in the water to keep them cold.

Everyone found a place to sit and enjoy. The sound of the falls was so deafening loud that it made conversation somewhat difficult and even unwelcome at times. They felt there couldn’t be anything more peaceful in the world, and for a long time they let the feeling cleanse them of life’s stresses.

“I’m getting a strange sensation in my jeans.” Scott announced without raising his head out of the water to look.

Pattie rose up and laughed. “It might be because you’ve got minnows swimming in and out of your jeans.”

“You better enjoy that, Scott. I suspect that’s all the action you’re going to get this weekend.” Rachel said.

They all laughed until they couldn’t, and then just sat and enjoyed the water.

“Oh look, Scott. Ike and Bradley are setting up the beer cans to do a little target practice. I haven’t shot my Smith since the last time we were down here.” Rachel said.

“I’ll put a stop to that. I want some peace, and quiet for a little while at least.” Pattie said, sounding kind of bitchy which was unusual for her.

Well, that’s disappointing Rachel thought, but they still had a day and a half so surely she’d get in some practice by then. She loved to shoot; it was a great stress reliever. It was as if all her anxiety shot out of the barrel, and left her with peacefulness. Crazy she knew, but true.
















Chapter Five




The road sign on Interstate 75 read Atlanta 50 miles ahead. Traffic was heavy going both ways on the interstate making the going slower that Joe would have liked. He wanted to stop outside of Atlanta for the night; he wanted to get his shit together. His bride hadn’t served him well. She had forced him to discipline her twice, and he was exhausted. Now, Zoe slept in the back seat of the car they had stolen at the truck stop just outside Paradise.

The old Buick had been easy enough to get. It’s amazing how many people leave their keys under the seat. With no air conditioner Joe had the car windows wide open. The hot light was on now, and there was a burning smell coming from the engine. He knew he would have to replace the car this stop anyway. This time he was going to get a better car, one with some get up and go. Besides, this one didn’t even have a radio.

He thought about his mother, and wondered what she’d be like. He figured she never told anyone about his existence, her dirty little secret. He wondered why she had let him be born at all, why she didn’t just have an abortion if she didn’t want him? He would’ve been better off. She would have been better off. She just didn’t know it yet.

Just then, someone in a red Corvette cut him off, he blew his horn angrily. The driver, a woman, flipped him off. Joe pulled his 38 from between the seats, and laid it on his lap. Turn signal on, he got in the passing lane, and punched the gas. The Corvette picked up speed too, but Joe caught up. There was an eighteen wheeler just ahead of her about a half mile.

As Joe got beside her she looked at him. Joe snaked his tongue out at her then showed her his gun. Her eyes got big in terror. Tall concrete guardrails prevented her from pulling off. Joe had her trapped. She slowed and Joe did too, all the while making a show of pulling the hammer back on the gun. Joe laughed at her shaking hands on the wheel.

They caught up with the truck then the Corvette picked up speed to try to pass the truck, and cut him off again. Bad move, Joe wouldn’t let her pass, and she crashed head on into the rear of the truck. Joe sped away looking in the rear-view mirror as fiberglass from the Corvette flew in the air. The truck jackknifing as it tried to stop. Joe laughed wildly, but then started thinking that wasn’t such a smart move on his part.

              Joe hadn’t killed before today. He didn’t consider what he did to his Aunt Mary as his doings. He had only wanted to save his stepmother. Aunt Mary was all over her; he just pulled her off, and held her. It was his stepmother who went crazy, and killed her. She wouldn’t have done it if Aunt Mary hadn’t started the shit. Now his stepmother was in prison at Lowell Correction Center in Daytona Beach. He would’ve had to go too, but his stepmother covered for him. It was the only good thing she’d ever done for him.

            He wouldn’t have killed Melanie if she hadn’t gone psycho on him. It had been so weird, like he was outside himself in a corner watching it all. Like watching a movie only he was the star. Melanie seemed like an actress playing a role. He really didn’t mean to kill her. Now he was in real trouble.

            If it came down to it, he knew he would kill himself before he went to prison. He wouldn’t fair well there, and he wasn’t about to be some guy’s butt buddy. Yes, he’d go out in a blaze of glory, just like his father did.

            He often wondered how different his life would’ve been had his father not killed himself. Joe had run into the kitchen after being out trick or treating on Halloween to find his father’s dead body on the floor. Blood had formed an immense pool around him. His stepmother came in behind him, and found Joe lying on top of his father’s body, his little vampire cape draped in his father’s blood. He never knew why his father shot himself; his stepmother would never discuss it. Knowing now how she really was he knew it was because of her, although he’d blamed himself for so long.

            Joe pulled the Buick off the interstate at exit 70. There was a Days Inn sign promising a room for $39.95. He parked the Buick behind some thick shrubs at a Shell station two lots down from the motel. The truck driver had no doubt given the cops a description of the Buick. Getting out of the car, he stretched his body to ease the tight muscles in his back and legs. The wind was strong, but felt good, and exciting. He didn’t have to be a weather forecaster to know what was brewing. He decided not to tell Zoe what had happened with the Corvette.

            “Hey, wake up. I need you to go in and get us a room.”

            “Where are we?”

            “Just outside of Atlanta, we’ll rest here for a while okay.” Joe said as he crawled in the back seat, and put his arms around her. “Baby, I’m sorry I had to hurt you while ago. You know you’re my bride don’t you?”

            “Yes, but I’m scared, Joe. I don’t want to go to jail.” Her lip was swollen, and sore, and she had knots on her head where he thrashed her with his fists.

            “We’ll be okay, baby. Now just go over there, and tell them you need a single. Here’s some money.” Zoe took the money, and they got out of the car. Her head low, and hair whipping in the wind, she turned to walk to the motel.

            Fearing she might be angry with him and call the law, Joe grabbed her by the arm, and turned her around. “I got something especially for you today. I know that I haven’t given you a wedding present yet, but you’ll get one tonight.”

            “Really, what is it?” she asked, whipping her flying hair that had landed in her mouth.

            “It wouldn’t be a surprise now if I told you, would it?”


            As soon as they got into their room Joe had to smoke some crack. He needed to get his edge back. He let Zoe smoke too, she was easier to handle when she was high. He had found a fifth of Jim Beam in the Buick, and Zoe fixed him a drink with some soda. Shedding their sweaty and still bloody clothes, they both stretched out naked on the double bed. The air conditioner felt good and cool as it hummed softly. David Letterman was on the television, but there was breaking news about the hurricane’s progress cutting in.

            Joe pulled the necklace out from under his pillow where he’d stashed it. “Look here, baby, see what I have for you.”

            Zoe’s black eyes lit up when she saw the ruby and diamonds. “Is it real?”

            “Hell yeah it’s real. I got it for you at the pawnshop. You’ve got to do what I tell you if you want to keep it though. I don’t give gifts like this to just anybody you know. You’re my bride, but you haven’t been acting like one today. Would I get you something like this if I didn’t love you?”


            Joe put the necklace around her neck. It looked good against her smooth young skin.

            “This is the first time I’ve ever stayed in a motel. Did you know that?” Zoe said.

            Taking her into his arms he rolled her onto her back, and got on top of her. “We’re going to have all kinds of adventures, you just wait and see.” Joe took his knife from the nightstand and cut a small place across his shoulder blade then did the same to her. Her blood sprayed almost as bad as Melanie’s did, but with one dominant thrust he impaled her as he sucked the warm sticky nectar into himself, a marriage renewal of sorts. Her diamond necklace sparkled against the blood as they reached orgasm. He fell off her, and went to sleep. Zoe slept too.

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Novel / Novella
writing TaintedBlood
Author, Blood on the Bluegrass
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Chapters 3 - 5