CHAPTER 2


Vidor, Texas – January 2012

Captain J.J. DeMane flipped on his cruiser’s red and blues and slid the vehicle in behind the snail-crawling Grand Torino. He knew Eddie Sullivan was behind the wheel. The Torino’s paint was faded, the left taillight was cracked and kept together with strapping tape and the rear bumper was held in place with bailing wire; there was no mistaking Eddie’s shit machine.

DeMane laughed. How many times have I arrested him, fifteen? Sixteen? He’d know soon enough. Eddie always knew and answered with a sense of pride the total number of arrests and how many times each officer of the Vidor Police Department had arrested him. DeMane couldn’t wait to hear Eddie’s excuse for driving so slow. He knew he’d end up taking Eddie “downtown” for something, he just wondered what it would be.

He thought about “downtown”. Vidor’s downtown was a dream compared to his days patrolling in Dallas. Instead of coked-out bikers beating up their girlfriends and then slugging it out with the cops you had Eddie, the guy who was arrested for trying to steal toilet paper out of the Spindle Top Restaurant bathrooms because he was out at home. Instead of drug cartel shootouts that left officers and cartel members dead all over the pavement you had Eddie, the guy who was arrested for sitting on his back porch drunkenly shooting squirrels with a pellet gun that resulted in seven neighbor’s windows being busted. And finally, instead of a gang breaking into Best Buy and stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of stereo equipment, you had Eddie breaking into the Super Star Citgo to steal a phone book so he could look up his sister’s address in Beaumont.

He let Eddie roll for another quarter mile and then picked up his radio mic. He toggled a switch on the dash and then keyed the mic. “Pull over, Eddie.”

The Torino kept its slow pace forward.

DeMane sighed and keyed the mic again. “Eddie, pull over. I don’t have time for this. . .”, he paused and noticed his location. He was just passing the Rose City Baptist Church. “… stuff.”, he continued, “So, park it already.”

The Torino rolled to the curb and DeMane pulled in behind. This ought to be good, he thought, and reached for the door handle.

Eddie tried to look relaxed, but it wasn’t happening. Sweat was pouring down his face and collecting in ever-widening pools under the arms of his “1980 Invasion Van Halen” t-shirt.

He glanced in his rearview and then looked away. “Ah, man, not DeMane.” He felt his internal spicket open a little wider and the sweat flow double. He looked in the rearview again and saw DeMane glance over at the church. As quick as he could, he grabbed his seatbelt and brought it over his chest, snapping the buckle just as DeMane reached his window.

Eddie rolled down the window and smiled. “Captain DeMane, what brings you out on this fine day?”

“Eddie, how many times I arrested you?”

“I’ve been arrested seventy-two times in total and you’ve personally arrested me sixteen times.” The smile never wavered.

“And do you think today it’ll be seventeen?”

Eddie swallowed his smile slipping a bit. “I sure hope not.”

“That’s good.” DeMane glanced around the inside of the car and then stood up, turning to look back at the church. “I’m gonna’ let the seat belt slide, Eddie.”

Eddie’s face reddened and he looked down at his lap. “Thanks.”

“But we need to talk about those boxes in your back seat.” DeMane never took his eyes off the churchyard. “What’s in ‘em?”

“Toilet paper.”

It was all DeMane could do keep his laughter under control, to keep a straight face. “You been back up to the Spindle Top?”

Drops of sweat were beading rapidly on Eddie’s brow. “No, sir. I got ‘em up at the Methodist church. They give ‘em to me.”

DeMane watched as Mrs. VanBuskirk came down the steps of the church. He waved to her and she smiled, waiving back. “Both of them?”

“What?”

DeMane turned and looked down at Eddie. “I said, did the church give you both boxes?”

Eddie paused and looked away. “Yes.”

Gotcha, DeMane thought, “Well, Eddie, what I’m gonna’ need you to do is. . .” The squeal of tires and a screaming voice stopped him in mid-sentence.

A red-faded, Chevy pickup swerved back and forth across the road, its occupant screaming at the top of his lungs. Caroming off of a fence, it slammed through a pair of mailboxes, slid back on to the road leaving a pair of black, serpentine skid marks. It swayed from side to side for another fifty feet and then plunged off the road into a culvert. The occupant flung open the door and leapt out screaming. “Get ‘em off me! Please, God, get ‘em off me!”

“That’s Delbert Peavey!” DeMane grabbed the radio from his belt and pitched it into Eddie. “Tell the lady at dispatch that I need an ambulance!”

Eddie picked up the radio. “Yeah, whatever.” But DeMane was already halfway to Delbert Peavey.

“Get ‘em off! Get ‘em off! Get ‘em off!” Delbert’s voice had become a high-pitched shriek and his eyes were wide with terror.

DeMane grabbed the man and tried to roll him over, but he wouldn’t be moved. “Roll over, Delbert, I don’t see anything on you!”

Delbert’s eyes seemed to focus for just a second. “Oh, God, J.J., get ‘em off me!”

DeMane rolled the man several times looking for any sign of things to remove. “I’m not finding a damn thing!”

Delbert’s eyes glassed over. “They’re huge,” he screamed and then started to convulse and vomit.

“Ah, shit!” De Mane grabbed Delbert and rolled him on his side. This guy’s having a seizure, he thought. He tried to get his fingers into Delbert’s mouth to prevent him from swallowing his tongue but couldn’t get the man’s jaws open.

Delbert convulsed once, twice, and then stopped, air wheezing from his lungs. DeMane rolled him back over. “Delbert, talk to me damn it! Delbert!”

He reached down to start chest compressions and then pulled back. All over the man’s chest were equidistant pairs of stab wounds.

DeMane flipped up a pocket on his belt and pulled out a flatly folded pair of latex gloves. He slipped them on and started the chest compressions.

“Looks like a boar.”

DeMane glanced over and saw Eddie standing a few feet away.

“The dispatch lady said she’s got an ambulance on the way.”

 “Thanks, Eddie. Just for today I’m gonna forget about them boxes.”

Keeping a constant rhythm on Delbert’s chest he listened for breath, felt for a heartbeat. After a few minutes he stood, tore the gloves from his hands and threw them to the ground.

In the distance he heard the ambulance siren. “I think they’re too late.”

Eddie was staring down at Delbert his face scrunched in concentration. “Looks like a boar.”

“What’s that?”

Eddie continued to scrutinize Delbert. “See the way those holes are in pairs? Seen it on some hunting dogs. Looks like wild boars gored him.”

DeMane scratched the back of his head. “He said they were huge.”

Eddie shook his head. “Maybe he was talkin’ ‘bout how many. Those holes can’t be more than three inches apart. That’s a good-sized boar, but it ain’t huge.

“Well, hell.”

The ambulance screamed to a halt beside them, the siren cutting off in mid sweep. Two paramedics flew from the doors. DeMane recognized them from accidents he’d worked before. The first, Danny Autenberry, ran to the side of the vehicle and began pulling open equipment doors. The second, Dawson Hallman, knelt down beside Delbert. Slipping on gloves he began to examine the man.

“What’ve we got?”

Eddie, hearing more sirens in the distance, contemplated a quick exit strategy.

“Hey, you! What happened,” Dawson yelled.

“Oh, um, it looks like boars.”

Dawson looked at Delbert’s wounds and then at DeMane. “J.J. What do you think?”

DeMane scratched his head. “Your guess is as good as mine. He leaped out of his truck screaming for me to get something off of him, but I couldn’t find a damn thing. He convulsed a few times and then lay over. I’ve only got basic medical training, but I think he’s dead.”

Danny set a large yellow and black case on to the road beside Delbert and flipped it open, pulling equipment.

From the cab of Delbert’s truck came an odd, clicking noise. DeMane’s hand flew to his holstered automatic. “You guys be ready to move if I yell.” As he reached the door of the vehicle, he eased over the window frame, gun at the ready. The cab was empty save for a small white string blowing gracefully in the passenger window.

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