Jugs Quick Stop, known simply as the Hanky Panky, rested atop a hill 28 miles outside of Fredericksburg. There were no other buildings near it, no residences broke up the monotony of the area.
The gravel parking lot took up four acres. During the day it acted as a convenience store and truck stop, at night it metamorphosized into something totally different.
Konan and Lilly walked up to the counter and asked to speak to the owner.
“Why you need to speak to ‘em,” a buck-toothed woman asked.
“That’s none of your concern, ma’am.”
“Look here, princess. He’s my old man. You wanna talk to him, you talk to me first.”
Konan stepped between the two women and put his hands out to keep them at bay.
“Easy ladies. There’s no cause for trouble. Ma’am, I just need to speak to him concerning a case we’re investigating.”
“And that’s fine. You follow me, she stays out here.”
“Okay. Lead on.”
The buck-toothed woman led Konan into the back room. Boxes of beer cluttered up the area, and three long plastic curtains hung in the doorway. She pushed through; Konan continued to follow.
A long-haired man sat at a round table. His eyes were dark, his beard scraggly. The woman went over and sat beside him. Two men stood on either side of him, .12-gauge shotguns in hand.
“Have a seat,” the old man said by way of greeting. Konan sat across from him. The old woman turned to him and nodded at Konan.
“He’s a cop,” she whispered.
“I know who he is, woman. He’s Mad Michael’s offspring.” The old woman stared at Konan, and then looked back at the old man.
“Yeah, Mad Michael is my dad.”
“I’m sorry to hear he passed. The cancer got ‘em if I heard right. What brought you out here, boy?”
“A couple of cops hang out here, and I need to speak to them. Their names are Jackson Titus and Charles Bronowski.”
“Yeah. I know ‘em. What do you want with them?”
“That’s none of your business. Suffice to say, I’ve got questions that need answers.”
The old man leaned forward and stared at Konan. His eyes weren’t just dark, they were dead. No emotion showed in them, his mouth tightened into a stiff line.
“Them boys are trouble, but I don’t betray people unless I know what they did.”
“Fine. Both are suspected of murdering a black man. They beat him to the point of death, then drove over him many times.”
“Sounds like something they would do,” the old woman muttered.
The old man leaned back in his chair and rubbed his hands together. Neither he nor Konan said anything for a long while.
“They ain’t been here for some time,” the old man finally said. “They’d come in here and start a row. Get liquored up and talk about how they hated black folk. I didn’t think nothing of it.”
“Because it’s normal to hate folk because of their skin pigmentation,” Konan said sarcastically.
“I ain’t done nothing wrong, boy. Don’t come in here and get preachy with me.”
“So, you haven’t seen them?”
“Last time I saw them they were hitting on some ole gal that used to run with the White Devils. Barb, I think her name was. She ain’t been around either.”
“I don’t suppose you would give me a call if they came in, would you?”
“I might, leave your card. This time my information is free because I knew your daddy. Next time will cost you.”
“Well, thanks for your help,” Konan said as he pushed away from the table. ‘Yeah’, the old man muttered. Konan walked away and made his way up front.
Lilly had taken a seat at the bar. She sipped a Cherry Coke and waved him over when she saw him.
“Konan, this is my new friend Luc. He knows Titus and Bronowski.”
“Yep. He said they got rid of the van. Dropped it off at a chop shop not far from here.”
“How about that. This shop got a name, or does Luc know the owner?”
“Yeah, I know the owner. He’s my brother,” Luc growled. “I don’t want him in trouble with the law. It’d break my mother’s heart.”
“I want Titus and Bronowski, your brother doesn’t concern me.”
“That’s what I told him, Konan.”
“The shop is called Shady Jim’s Towing. It’s on the corner of Huckleberry and Pine.”
“Thanks, Luc. I owe you one,” Lilly said.
“Just leave my brother alone,” Luc retorted. “If Andy goes down, you both are in for a world of hurt.”