Smiley Jack was unhappy. For three days his enforcer had not shown up for work. No one had seen him. Runners were sent to his house. There was nothing out of place. On the second day, his vehicle was found by a deputy in a ditch on CR 141.
Blood at the scene revealed it was Hillbilly Bob’s. However, no body was recovered. They were still at square one. Sheriff Salmon wiped at his face and let out a heavy sigh.
“Come here,” he hollered at one of the new deputies. Her name was Rachel, or Raquel, something with an ‘R’. She came over.
“Go into town and dig up friends and close associates of Jacob and his family. Compile a list of people and make copies. Then, find them and talk to them. See if you can’t shake something loose.”
Salmon watched her leave. She was feminine, soft, and well-educated. He shook his head in disgust. The first two traits were fine, but he detested women who were smarter than he was.
The sun had begun its descent when Salmon and the crime scene techs finished at the scene. Sheriff Salmon’s phone rang, it was Smiley Jack.
“What have you got, Sheriff?”
“It’s a car wreck. There’s broken glass, blood, and the crime scene folk discovered a second set of footprints here. Someone was here, we just don’t know who yet.”
“Get me a name to go with those boot prints.”
“Yes sir,” Salmon said meekly.
Smiley Jack was very unhappy now. His enforcer was missing, and now, a second set of footprints were at the scene. “Someone sneaked him. Ain’t no way Hillbilly Bob would go down without a fight.”
“Get Suzy in here,” he shouted to no one in particular. A tall brunette picked up the phone and called the house.
“Smiley Jack wants to see you, madam. He’s not happy.”
“I’m on my way.”
Suzy grabbed her keys and headed for the door. When Smiley Jack paged you, you rushed to wherever he was located. This time was no different.
Underneath her unfinished carport was a covered vehicle. She loosened the straps and pulled back the tarp. The removed tarp revealed a hunter green 1968 Plymouth Roadrunner with a 440 engine. Suzy climbed inside and fired it up. The headers rumbled, and Suzy backed up.
She threw it in drive once clear of the carport and floored the accelerator. The engine roared. Suzy looked in the rearview mirror, her eyes were dead, her frown etched in ice.
“Dang you, Warren. I don’t know what you’ve done, but God have mercy on your soul.”
The Hollowing Hollow was packed when Suzy pulled up. A massive black man stood at the door and scanned ID’s. He waved Suzy on through. She nodded at him.
“How ya doin’, Titan?”
“Oh, you know how it is Ms. Suzy. Trying to stay off Jack’s bad side.”
“Yeah, me too.”
Suzy walked through the club and headed for the back rooms that Jack frequented. The tall brunette who called her waved her over.
“Bob’s missing. Jack is…angry. Be careful in there.”
She patted Tiffany’s hand and moved into the room. Smiley Jack watched her walk in. He forced a smile and gestured for her to sit beside him. She complied with her boss’s demand.
“How’s business, Suzy.”
“That new crop got the boys all excited, sir. Business is good.”
“You knew Jacob, right? The one that died?”
“Yes, I went to high school with him and his wife.”
“Did he have any close friends that you know of?’
“I don’t know. We fell out of touch before we even graduated. He was a goody two-shoes.”
Smiley Jack laughed but it was humorless. He leaned forward to peer into Suzy’s eyes. “You’ve got a thing for the bad boys, don’t you doll?”
Suzy smiled an uneasy smile and nodded. “I used to.”
“When Jacob moved back here, he was returning from war, yeah?”
“I heard he had a friend, Warren something or other. Did you know him?”
“Vaguely. He lived here for a few years but moved away.”
“Does he live here now?”
“He does. I don’t know where, Jack, but he moved here a while back.”
“Does he come over and visit your girls?”
“He has once or twice. He’s not what I would call a regular.”
Smiley Jack grinned and sucked on his tongue stud. His eyes showed no mercy, no love. Suzy thought he was a soulless husk unleashed upon an unsuspecting populace. “He’s an incurable disease.”
“Do you have his number?”
“No, why would-“
Jack slapped her across her face and knocked her to her knees. He stood up and grabbed her by the throat. He squeezed; Suzy gagged.
“You’re a lying little harlot,” he said quietly. “Bob is missing sugar britches. I think your little friend killed him. Go find him and bring him here, and maybe I will spare your worthless hide.”
Suzy gasped for air. Smiley Jack waved the brunette over to where he sat. The brunette stopped a few feet short having watched the mistreatment he had visited on Suzy.
“Congratulations,” he said to the brunette. “You are the new house madam. Come with me to my office, I’ll explain the details and perks of your new job.”
Jack gripped the wrist of the new manager’s hand and pulled her to the office. He nodded at four other men, they followed them in. At the door the brunette turned and looked at Suzy tearfully. Her fear was written all over her face.
“Yeah, Smiley. I’ll go get Warren. I hope he kills you; you sick freak.”