A Murder of Crows (Part Four of Nine)

An excerpt from Descendant
Available now from Belfire Press

FOUR

Wolfe and Crowe followed Brian Potter into his grandparents’ backyard. Lyle and Elspeth Potter were vacationing in Florida, having long ago leased out their surrounding fields to larger, more corporate-minded farmers. Selina was pretty sure that they’d be appalled by the state their property was in. The pool and surrounding patio was littered with broken glass, empty beer cans, liquor bottles, and enough general refuse to start a small landfill.

“As you can see, the party got kind of out of hand.” Potter kicked at a discarded bottle of cheap wine, its remnants splashing red onto the multicolored river rock that bordered the cement walk that encircled the pool. “I wish there was more I could tell you. Billy and I were close. ‘Were’ being the operative word. After high school we drifted apart. I tried to make a connection with him at the party, but he was out of it. He was dead set on Jennifer and nothing I said registered with him one bit.”

“Jennifer?” Agent Wolfe repeated. “That would be Jennifer Cox.?”

“Yes, ma’am. I saw them leave together, so as much as I’d like to help I really think it’s her you should be talking to.” He took a step back and motioned toward the pool area’s side entrance. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have guests arriving soon and I’ve a lot of preparations to attend to.”

“Not so fast, chief,” Crowe said, his eyes burrowing into the young man. “It’s our understanding that Craft and Cox were last seen leaving by way of ‘the cemetery gate’. I take it that’s through here.” He pointed toward the ivy covered gate leading toward the rear of the property.

“I wouldn’t know.” Potter’s eyes darted away and Selina smiled.

“You don’t know what?” Agent Wolfe asked. “If your friends left by way of that gate, or whether it leads to the cemetery?”

“Let’s go, kid.” Crowe put his hand on Potter’s shoulder. “We’d like to have a look at what you’ve got cookin’ out back.”

“Sure, but… you know, the sheriff, he already…”

“Yeah, we know, the sheriff’s been all over this with his fine tooth comb, but you of course understand why we’d want to have a look for ourselves.”

“Yes, sir.”

The three passed through the ivy gate and strode across the back lawn, Potter leading the way. The small cemetery plot, nestled between a bower of mulberry bushes and the wide expanse of corn awaiting harvest, consisted of a few dozen stones, many of which were broken and leaning against their bases. As twilight descended, their walk was accompanied by the sound of crickets and the caws of the gathering crows whose flight was framed against the purpling sky.

“It’s nice to see that Logan County’s crack detective work is in full force.” Agent Crowe hovered over a low mound of fresh earth laid out in front of a weathered headstone. “I hope you’ve got a good explanation for this, Mr. Potter, because unless I’m mistaken, this looks like a fresh grave.”

“I, uh…”

“Selina, cuff the kid and plant his ass on the ground over there where we can keep an eye on him. I’ll bring the Cherokee around.” He walked up to the young man and smiled, patting him on the cheek. “Something tells me your plans for tonight just got changed.”

As Crowe stalked off into the growing darkness to retrieve their vehicle, both he and his partner failed to hear Brian Potter’s mumbled response.

“Don’t be so sure, Agent Crowe.”

Return here next week for another Wicked Wednesday installment of
A Murder of Crows

Chapter Five will be posted on September 28th

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