Roy turned from Janie and stared at Walter. The two men locked eyes, and Walter did not flinch. Instead, he closed the distance between he and Janie, and came to stand next to her. Roy scoffed and walked away. Janie and Walter watched as Roy climbed into a Ford Raptor pickup and floored the accelerator.
They stood their ground until Roy vanished from sight. Janie took a deep breath and let it out slowly through her nostrils. “Well,” she said in a low voice, “that was different.”
“You should take care, Janie. Roy isn’t in the habit of giving warnings or threats. He’s sure to follow up with action.”
“What is your connection to Roy Darnell Carver, Walter? I can’t help but feel you aren’t forthcoming with me concerning the relationship between you two.”
“We should get back to the station. Chief White might have something for us.”
Janie climbed into her Camry, Walter into his red, Dodge 2500 pickup and the pair made their way back to the station. Walter kept a close eye on his rearview mirror.
It’s unlike Roy to turn the other cheek. He’s a hothead, and isn’t used to getting backed down by a woman. He’s sure to attack Janie, if for no other reason than to re-establish his dominance upon the town. Men like Roy don’t use logic, they force their will upon others by demonstrating strength, intimidation, or acts of great brutality. I wouldn’t put it past Roy to skip the first two and go straight for his third choice.
Walter decided he best keep his eyes open for any signs of attack, more so, he best stay aware of every move his partner made from this point forth. The last thing he needed was for his partner to get blindsided and end up in the pit of a hungry gator’s tummy.
The station house was empty, even Artemis had not returned from the funeral, and long shadows filled the hallways. Walter and Janie walked in, personal bags in hand, and the building creaked. It wasn’t the discordant sounding of age, instead it was the disturbing racket of old horror films-like the high-pitched playing of the organ at key moments that gave away the entrance of the villain.
Both of them stood in the dying light of the waning sun, mere steps from the door, glued in place from the fear that flooded their system. Behind them the door opened with a whoosh, and Gary White frowned at the pair.
“Is everything okay?”
Janie swallowed hard and muttered, “Yes, sir. Um, a racket caught us off guard.”
White frowned and said, “What kind of racket?”
“I don’t know, chief. It frightened both of us, I reckon. I need to get changed.”
White nodded and raised his eyebrows but said nothing in response to her words. Instead, he waited for Janie to walk into the women’s room before he turned to Walter and asked, “Is there anything I should know?”
“Yeah, um, Roy Darnell Carver came to the funeral. He waited for Janie at her car. It got tense.”
“Um, well, Janie didn’t roll over. She talked back at him, and he’s not a fan of emancipated women. Roy prefers them docile.”
“How do you know that, Walter?”
Walter said nothing to the question, and White let it drop. White pulled out Artemis’s chair and sat down. He glanced at Walter and observed the officer. Walter’s face was tight, his eyes dark and brooding, a hard look to them in which no light reflected, and his mouth was taut. The man appeared to have quit breathing, powered solely by an undisclosed source of anger.
“What did Roy have to say?”
“Just that he intended to break Janie.”
“What does that mean? He plans to kill her? Or something worse?”
“I won’t let nothing happen to Janie, chief. I’ve got my eyes on her.”
“That’s good, Walter. I don’t condone going outside the law to handle cases, but in this case, you do what you must. I’ll back your play.”
“Yes, sir. I understand.”
Roy Darnell Carver foamed at the mouth, his screams of rage echoed within the cab of his truck, as he slammed his right hand down on the steering wheel. He balled his right hand into a tight fist and beat the steering wheel until he calmed down.
“No one ever dared to stand against me, much less threaten me, I will take her soul,” he screamed, “but first, I plan to make her suffer.”
He whipped off the road onto the dirt shoulder and ripped his phone from the hand-free phone holder. Roy swallowed the spittle in his mouth and wiped at the foam on his lips and in the corners of his mouth, and dialed Royce’s number.
“Hey, boss. What’s up?”
“Get the boys. We’re gonna have a party.”
“Okay, where do you want us?”
“Y’all get to the swamp. I’m bringing our guest later tonight.”
Roy terminated the call and smiled to himself. We’ll see what she has to say when I put my fist through her teeth. She won’t see me coming.
Janie came out of the women’s room. She had dressed in a black tee, Levi jeans, and steel toe boots-Red Wing Irish Setters- and her Springfield Hellcat was strapped to her waist. Chief White stared at her and frowned.
“What’s on your mind, Detective Temple?”
“Not much, sir. Thought I’d go shake some bushes with Walter.”
“He’s not here. Said he had something to do.”
“Well, I can go rattle them myself. It’s not a…”
“After the confrontation with Roy, I don’t think you going solo anywhere is a good idea. Head home, I’ll send a couple of officers over to keep an eye out.”
Janie sighed and shook her head no. White stood behind the desk and gave her a firm smile. “I’m not asking, detective. I’m telling you. Go home and rest. It’s been a long day.”
Walter drove out to House 51 and parked out in the field with the rest of the people visiting the only legal ‘brothel’ in Mississippi. Of course, it was listed as a nightclub that catered to sexual deviants of all stripes. Rachel watched as Walter walked in.
She walked toward him and hugged his neck. “Hello, cousin. What brings you out here tonight?”
Walter sighed and gave his first cousin a hard look. He motioned at the girls and the local riff-raff that made up her customer base, some of them the most powerful people within the state.
“You still in bed with Roy Darnell, Rachel?”
“Sugar, I’ve never been to bed with Roy Darnell Carver. It’s a source of frustration for the poor man.”
“You know what I mean, Rachel.”
Rachel turned and beckoned for Walter to follow her, and she led them to her office in the back corner of the foyer, away from prying eyes, and she snapped, “You came all the way out here wearing that stupid badge to jam me up about that piece of garbage?”
“He threatened my partner, Rachel.”
“Roy performs a valuable service here for me. I will not turn him over to you.”
Walter’s temper flared, and he stood and snarled, “If something happens to my partner, I’m coming back here-not as a cop-and I’m burning this dump to the ground. You will lose everything, my hand to God. Play with me and find out.”
He turned to walk out of the office, when Rachel said, “I don’t know anything concerning your partner, Walter. Roy was here earlier, high strung and fidgety. He beat two of my girls, one to the brink of death. She resting, but you can talk to her if you want. She upstairs away from all the um, regulars.”