The Path Into The Forest
It's up to you the path you choose
to be led to the slaughter or lead the way
the quest for light, a worthwhile fight
Will you have what it takes?
Come what may.
Jon Schaffer, "Come What May"
My butt hurt.
I groaned as I shifted weight around trying to redistribute my somewhat hefty frame and provide relief to my numbing back end. I needed to get out of this stuffy car and stretch, get the circulation going again, but that wouldn’t be possible for the time being. Steam puffed out of my mouth into the freezing Buick as I tried unsuccessfully to stifle a yawn.
I looked out at the site of what I was fairly certain was a meth lab and sighed. It had been three months since my old partner, Detective McAllen, had transferred and still there was no replacement.
“Ain’t no one gonna change the world from our position in a place like Utah.” He used to tell me. “New Orleans is where it’s at. Lowest of the low hang out in that city and Katrina annihilated their old forensics. No cold cases or anything there. Lotsa murderers got off Scotch-free with that shit. Not enough people doing bad enough crap here in Utah to keep me occupied.”
And so he was gone now and as is so often the case when an employee disappears in a government position, somehow the budget no longer allowed for a replacement. I was flying solo and bored out of my mind sitting in a car for ten hours with no one to talk to and nothing to watch.
I reached over onto the passenger seat and grabbed another frozen, crusty donut and lifted the cup of ice cold coffee to my lips and took a gulp. The taste was acrid but the sensation of caffeine quickly being absorbed into my tongue helped push away the blurry edges that had begun to form in my peripheral vision.
Fall in Utah was hard to pin down. Daytime could have high temperatures in the mid seventies, while night brought the air down below freezing. Snow, sunlight, rain and hail were never a surprise, sometimes all within the same twenty-four hour period. This last night had been particularly cold and the food stuffs I had bought at the beginning of my shift were now looking similar to items you might find inside a freezer.
I took a deep breath and crunched down on the donut with a wince. A cop on a stake-out, with an expanding waist line, munching on donuts and sipping coffee. Everyone hates a walking, talking cliché in action, especially the person doing it. Not long ago I would’ve been sickened with myself. I’d make resolutions to increase my gym time, double it if necessary, but now things were different. I was getting old, and I was getting tired.
Twenty-five years on the force, three different wives, four divorces, and a dying metabolism had slowly broken my resolve. Here I was at the end of another fruitless ten hour shift and wishing I was pretty much anywhere else. How does that saying go? ‘Put a fork in him, he’s done.’
I glanced at my watch.
I stifled another yawn, this time slightly more successfully and imagined what I would do to my relieving officer if he didn’t show up on time.
An insect buzz filled the car and I quickly realized it was my cell phone vibrating on the dash. I snapped it open and brought it to my ear.
“Pizza Hut,” My usual greeting.
“Hey it’s Gavin, where are ya?” Came a familiar voice on the other end.
“Sitting on that meth lab on 113th, near State. Whatcha need?”
“You been listening to the traffic?”
“On a date with Bertha.” I said referring to the brown Buick currently encasing me. Bertha was the name lovingly given to the oldest unmarked car still in service. Its electrical was finicky at best and the radio rarely ever worked.
“The Bishop has been asking for you. We got a body.”
“A body?” I shifted again uncomfortably and tried to rub some circulation back into my numbing thighs.
“Yeah, not too far from you, it’s in those apartments just off 106th.”
“And they want me?”
“The word homicide was used and it looks like Weston got wind.”
“I take it these apartments are technically in Sandy?” I asked.
“Right on the border, but yeah.”
“I’ll be right there.”
I clicked my phone shut and grabbed the key hanging from the ignition, muttering a quick prayer to the car gods. I turned the key and felt the engine sputter in the cold. C’mon baby, I thought and was relieved by the sound of the engine finally turning over.
I glanced towards I-15 and my eyes landed on the big billboard proclaiming:
“Relax, you’re in Sandy. One of the top 50 safest cities in the nation.”
Brian Weston was Sandy’s fine mayor and damned proud of his statistic. Homicides were obviously bad for him and if he knew about it before me, things were not going to be fun at the crime scene…not that crime scenes were ever particularly buoyant.
I shifted the car into drive and Bertha gave a grunt before slowly pulling herself onto the nearby street.