Mrs. Fisher wasn’t happy to see Taran leave. She made her displeasure known by closing the door behind him so quickly that she nearly caught the back of his shirt in the door. Taran, for his part, hurried down the walk, brushing away the near miss, hoping that he’d done the right thing in leaving her there. Her husband, he had ascertained, was not in Myrtle Beach but was up in New York for some sort of meeting with a financial advisor.
Normal people in Corbin Meadow did not have financial advisors. The rare few that might look to someone else to advise them had someone down in Hickory or, increasingly, on the internet. Corbin Meadow was not a rich town nor was it a town in which rich people retired. So far as he knew, the Fishers were not particularly rich, Mr. Fisher’s frequent travels to Myrtle Beach notwithstanding.
Close to his car, Taran heard a buzzing, not quite like a bee, but more like someone speaking too far away to be heard. It came from over towards the Hyers. He considered wandering through the trees to hear better, but no doubt Mrs. Fisher was standing in the window or sitting in her chair, watching the trees. He wondered if that’s what she did all day. He’d wondered that before.
It was fairly pleasant outside now that it was getting late. A breeze had come up and was blowing the humidity away. It would be a perfect evening in June or September. The fact that it was mid-October was odd. Still, maybe winter would hold off and there wouldn’t be so much ice this year. Maybe the curve wouldn’t have an accident, although that was just wishful thinking.
The radio spit static. “Code 187,” Mattie called. Homicide.
Taran reached for the radio, asked for the address. He wanted to ask more, but the lines were recorded. Knowing Mattie, she couldn’t say anything or she’d choke up. The address was just off the main highway, just beyond the Corbin Meadow city limits. Taran didn’t have jurisdiction, but with Blake Fellows in the office, Taran had a feeling that he was already on his way and there was a reason Mattie had radioed him.
The car started easily, and Taran drove quickly, almost too quickly. He went down the hill where he’d wind around and pick up the highway. It would be faster than going through town where he had more chance of hitting the traffic light or having to stop for a pedestrian. This way he could speed without worrying about a distracted citizen who might not notice him.
He wound through trees, going up small hills—more like bumps—and then down, his head practically hitting the roof of the car when he took one a bit too fast. Still, it was a rush, and he remembered being a boy riding in the back of the car along with his brother when his grandmother, a feisty old woman who couldn’t stand anyone’s authority but her own, drove the country roads. He and his brother would have been in back, seatbelt fastened, and she’d drive that road about a hundred miles an hour sending them both flying up as far as the seatbelts would stretch. It was one of his fondest memories of her.
He didn’t take the roads quite that fast. Unlike his grandmother, Taran had a healthy respect for others on the road. Still, he drove faster than he would have had he not been on a call.
Once on the highway, the trees bordering it gave way to homes, which gave way to commercial buildings, larger stores, and then some restaurants, all fancier and newer than the ones on Main. Finally, just past the BP station, Taran made a left turn into a small community of condominiums. He didn’t have to go far to find his way. There were at least six county sheriff cars there and an ambulance, though no lights were flashing.
Taran pulled up a few houses down and got out of the car, walking slowly, conscious of the fact that although the addresses said these people lived in Corbin Meadow, he didn’t exactly have jurisdiction.
Closer to the police tape a young sheriff, her hair pulled back so severely around her face it threatened to take large hunks of skin with it, was holding a clipboard. Behind her, Taran saw Blake talking to two other men. There wasn’t a body. He went up to the woman and flashed his credentials.
“You’re not County.” she said.
Taran shook his head, waited.
She shook hers.
He stood behind the line, looking at her.
Finally she said, “You’ll have to leave.”
“I’m not on the scene. If I am, you need to push the tape out.”
Her eyes narrowed and her lips thinned.
Finally Blake noticed him standing there.
“Chief Rees,” Blake said coming up. “You’ll want to see this.”
“He’s not County,” the woman said, putting the emphasis on county as if that meant anything.
“We’ve been stepping into his home town,” Blake said calmly. “And this resembles murders there.” To Taran he said, “This way, through the house. Easiest way through to the back.”
Taran followed Blake past other men in uniform. The only woman was the one posted to keep visitors out. They walked along a concrete path that led up to a front door painted white. The brick trim was gray and there were blue shutters. The condo next door was painted blue and had gray shutters and no brick.
The door was open but as they went inside, Taran noted that it, too, was blue like the shutters, a typical plain door that you could buy at Home Depot or anywhere and put on a house. Inside he was met with a staircase to his left and a den or bedroom to his right. He glanced in, seeing a desk, a chair, and bookshelves in white and cream, all easy to put together furniture that you could buy cheap from Ikea, cheaper from Craigslist.
The floor was a light hardwood laminate that didn’t squeak when he walked on it. The walls were cream and unadorned. The bathroom, which sat next to the den, was a powder room with only a toilet and sink with a single blue towel, perhaps to match the front door. Except, Taran wondered, why would anyone want their bath towels to match their front door?
He kept walking, the hallway opening onto a large open area with a kitchen to the left behind the stairs, only a big island sticking out into the room. There was a fireplace along the far wall to the right. A sliding door directly ahead was open to a concrete patio.
A garage was a few feet from the building, free standing, a narrow driveway next to it with a low bush to offer some privacy. The people next door—two women, blonde with hair so short you could see their scalps through the cut, practically twins—stood watching. However, the way they held onto each other suggested a romantic relationship, perhaps marriage. They stood on their own patio, toes flush against the edge of the concrete like a pair of dogs that had been told to stay against their better nature.
A concrete path divided the two properties. It ran along the back of the building to the patio, so Taran followed it with his eyes and noticed a wood door that went to the kitchen, or perhaps a room behind it. It would be where the owner came and went from his home to his garage. A similar path sat on the other side of the little plot of grass. In between, on the perfectly manicured grass that was still incredibly green, lay a body on its side, a trowel near his left hand.
“It’s a man,” Taran whispered, conscious of listening witnesses.
Blake nodded, eyebrows raised. “What do you make of that?”
Chapter 40 will be coming next Friday. Don’t want to wait? Find the book here.