My new partner and I were just outside of Kilgore Texas. We’d taken a jet from Boston to Dallas, where the Bureau had a car waiting for us, and then we spent an additional two hours on the road, so the time had now arrived at quarter to seven. But in the dog days of summer, the sun was still shining.
Theresa Flores was a beautiful wiry woman, whom I admired as an agent, and nothing more. She wasn’t energetic, but she had an optimism considering her profession, that all rookies have. She was bubbly, and emotional, and passionate; she took pride in her work, and she was good at what she did. She was a woman who believed in the law. On this occasion however, Theresa was not her usual candid self, because of our passenger.
Sat in the backseat and handcuffed, our passenger, was our prisoner. Assigned to our care. Or rather we were assigned to him. He requested us. The lowlife, a slimy old fuck called Joey Witzer, had somehow conned someone from Justice; whereby he would show Theresa and myself the location of a murder victim. Someone he had killed. In return, he would be considered for early parole, and he would get to spend this day and the next, outside of prison.
Usually Theresa kept my mind occupied with conversation, but it had come to the point where I couldn’t sit in silence any longer, no matter how sick Witzer made either of us feel. I looked in the rearview to see the man facing the side window, holding his gaze on the landscape passing by, and I asked him, “Are we still going the right way?”
Witzer’s twisted mind was fortunately, on other things most of the time, but when he did speak, it made your stomach turn thinking he may someday be released, and hurt more people. Now, he was engaged, and slowly, he tilted his head sideways to look at me, and he gritted his brown and crumbling teeth, when he answered, “Oh yes. Up this road.”
“The Old Kilgore Highway?” I specified, to make certain.
“That’s right, diligent Dave. We buried that little whore up the Old Kilgore,” and he let the last word hang, before repeating it. “What a pleasant sounding name that is. Kilgore.” Then he looked to the empty window seat beside him, and asked, “We liked Kilgore a lot, didn’t we? Only stayed a day though. Just the one with Catherine. She was just the cutest little thing we ever did see, with her blond ponytail, her blue eyes. She had those long legs and big breasts that we like. We loved Cathy, didn’t we Benny?”
Joey continued, “Yeah, Benny said to drive out here. He said it would be a good spot.”
“How much further?” Theresa dared to ask, only interested in the directions.
“Oh not long now, sweet Theresa,” and Joey smiled. “There should be a… hardware store coming up on the left, called Boat Hoist if I’m not mistaken, and then it’s just another minute along the road on the right.”
Finally, we were at our destination, and I pulled off to the side when Witzer said so.
“Yeah, this is the place, agents. Bullhide Slough. We buried her out there.”
“Alright,” I said getting out of the car at last. My partner did the same. No other vehicles were on the road, in either direction, not a rig, not a truck, not even a squad car.
It was shaping up to be a hot and humid summer in the state. Though it was only the end of June, to be out of the air conditioned car was brutal. Too hot to stand around and wait. But as annoying as that sounds, it wasn’t half as bad as the cicadas. We heard them clicking away in the treetops of the oaks and the hickory, and sucking up the sap.
“My skin is crawling, David. And I don’t mean the bugs. I don’t know how much longer I can put up with this guy.” Theresa said aloud so I could hear her over the insects. Then she stepped closer and said more quietly, so Witzer couldn’t hear, “There’s something about him that’s… wrong. Really wrong.”
“I don’t like him either, Theresa, but he’s no different than the scum we’re used to.”
She sighed again, “Do you think he’s telling the truth? About there being a body out here?”
I forced myself to chuckle, “I wouldn’t be surprised if there was morethan one. This is a good enough place, and—”
“And he’s fucked up enough to do it?”
“Yeah,” I replied with a genuine smile, “more than enough.”
Then I groaned, “So... are we ready to let this guy walk around?”
“No,” was the honest answer, “but then I'll probably never be ready. Guys like him… I’ll never get used to.”
We returned to the car, and I opened the rear door, while Theresa went to the trunk and pulled out a shovel and a shotgun. She proceeded to point the latter at Witzer’s back.
The killer had a jovial expression on his face, overwhelmed by a sense of nostalgia brought on by the smell of the bayou, and the hum of the cicadas. Joey laughed, and then exclaimed, “Cicadas! Oh how I missed them! Did you know this brood lives seventeen years? And for one summer, on their seventeenth year, they crawl out of the ground, climb into the trees, and the males sing a mating song.”
“Whatever Witzer. You’re up. Show us the way.”
I took a final look around; up and down the road. And still it was empty.
Joey moved forward extremely slowly to the edge of the road, saying, “They sing, they fuck, and then they die. Then the eggs hatch, the babies jump to the ground, and burrow into the muck, so they can do it all over again. Isn’t that sad?”
“Tragic,” I replied as monotonously as possible. “Go faster.”
I didn’t remove the handcuffs, I just let him wander into the slough, hoping he wasn’t foolish enough to run, and lose balance in the muck. Although I had believed Theresa would shoot him before he got too far, and I bet she was praying he might just try to flee.
“Don’t worry, we’re real close,” Witzer assured us.
Joey asked as he plodded through the marsh. “Have you ever been to the Piney Woods… diligent Dave?”
“What about you… sweet Theresa?” asked Joey, licking his chops. Theresa refused to answer, so Joey carried on talking, “Benny and I asked Cathy that exact same question. She didn’t answer either. But I’d wager she probably did once in while. Without asking her daddy’s permission too… but what little girls listen to their fathers at that age, right?” and he gave Theresa another creepy smile.
“Shit!” Witzer chortled, (and briefly startling me) “hey diligent Dave, did that case file happen to say how old that slut Cathy was?”
But Theresa answered this time, “She was fourteen, you fucking pig!”
Seeming not to notice the anger in Theresa’s voice, Joey continued his monologue, to my partner’s chagrin.
“That’s right. Her and her tight pussy would have been… 32 in October! Damn! It’s a shame she’s no longer with us.”
“Shut up!” Theresa yelled, “Just shut up you... warped son of a bitch!” She brandished the shotgun dangerously close to Witzer’s face, but he didn’t even flinch.
Then, I noticed his voice had changed, becoming more brusque, his drawl thickened, and his speech less dignified, “Okay, you ain’t wanna talk about Cathy no more? Fine. We ain't talkin' 'bout her. ”
Witzer led us on again, slowing down now, and looking at the ground, as we were getting very close. We came alongside a pool of water separate from the Bullhide, and Joey stomped in the mud to indicate the grave.
“This is it?” I asked for verification.
“Yessir, this is the spot. Wan’ me to start diggin’, diligent Dave?” he asked, gesturing for the spade in my hand.
“No,” I replied, trying to keep my cool, but I was nowhere near as angry as Theresa was. I motioned for Joey to step aside. He did, and I sunk the shovel into the ground.
Then Witzer returned to conversation, “I remember another gal, and I remember she was sixteen, ‘cause she was more promiscuous than Cathy, and she kept comin’ onto me. And my oh my was she fine. A petite young thing. Sweet Emilia, her name was.”
Theresa’s eyes widened with horror when she heard the name, and her disgust and fear and anger, and all of the other emotions she tried desperately to bottle up in the killer’s presence, started to fizzle to the surface.
“Yeah, she had a smaller rump than Cathy, but man, was she pretty. Dark skin, bright white smile, silky black hair, perky tits. And the pheromones on her, whew! You could smell her tight lil’ cunt a mile away. Smelled like yours, sweet Theresa.”
Finally, Theresa snapped, “Shut up, you fucker! Or I’ll shoot you! Do you hear me! I’ll fucking SHOOT you!” she threatened, but once again, Joey didn’t flinch, he didn’t bat an eye. I left the shovel stuck in the mud, and I pulled out my gun, pointing it directly at Witzer’s face, and I dissuaded my partner from making a rash decision.
“Flores!” I shouted, “lower the shotgun! Now!”
Theresa was visibly upset, and Joey, who had deliberately provoked her, stood there with a stupid grin on his face, almost daring her to fire. At this point, I felt tempted to shoot him.
“Theresa… put down the weapon.” I repeated more calmly.
A minute later, she disengaged, and tried to stifle her sobs, and wipe away her tears on her shoulder, apologising to me for her outburst. I told her to step away, while she regained her composure.
I hadn’t dug a foot into the earth, when I came upon the shallow grave of Catherine Morrison. They were only bones now. Her murderer then pointed out another spot in the mire, where I found her bloodied bra and underwear wrapped inside an old plastic bag.
More than ready to go home, I said aloud, “That’s everything then, I’ll have CSU come by this evening,” when Witzer blurted out, “Whoa, wait a minute! Don’ you wanna know where to find Emilia Flores?”
I looked at the man in shock and suspicion. Suddenly I was learning about a potential murder carried out by this pathetic excuse for a human being, and that she shared my partner’s name. I queried, “What?”
“I thought you said you only spent one day in Kilgore?”
“Did I say that? You sure it wa’n’t lil’ Joey? I was there a lot longer.”
When he said this, I knew Joey’s alter ego had assumed control. I knew we were talking to someone called Benny.
“Theresa, he’s fucking with us, let’s get out of here,” I stated, as she prepared to aim the blaster again. Benny’s gaze turned to my partner, and his face filled with glee.
“Oh no,” he joked, “I can see I’ve done struck a nerve. I nearly forgot that you and Emilia was kin.” At this point, Theresa held the gun steady, with a bead on Benny, who only continued to provoke. “Tell me sweet Theresa, was your sister younger, or older than you? Joey didn’t tell me that part.”
Theresa didn’t answer, she just took a step toward the killer.
“Were you around when I sent your momma that package? Do you remember wha’ was inside? I know I remember… Emilia’s cunt.”
Benny cackled, and again, Theresa stepped, pure rage pumping through her veins, and she looked determined to kill him. I piped in, and pulled out my gun again, not certain who to aim it, although it wouldn’t make a difference. Neither of them seemed to know I was still there. “Theresa… don’t.”
“What about the letter? D’ya read that? It had some spicy language to it, if you know what I mean?”
She moved forward again, shotgun fully raised, a few feet away from Benny’s head. “Theresa! Stop!” I shouted.
“Let me read a few passages. I had it memorised,” He was staring at Theresa’s tear-strewn face, and he bellowed what I assumed to be a true composition, “Don’t worry Dallas family Flores, Emilia and I are having all manner of fun here in Kilgore. Day after day, night after night, we caress each other. We rub skin. I rub her raw… We lick. And suck. And fuck. We do our dance. Gyratin’… slowly moving up and down, rammin’ … deep inside every orifice she got. And I ravage her. I fuck her brains out. But only a few days more. ‘Cause I miss her puss. And I can only stab her ass hole so many times before I wear it out. Truly yours… Benjamin.”
Theresa was finally standing right in front of him, and she had the muzzle pressed firmly against Benny’s temple. She clearly remembered this letter.
“Theresa, please! If you kill him, I will have no choice but to arrest you!”
With a grimace, without turning to look at me, Theresa replied, “Then that will be my fate, David. But I can’t let this miserable fuck live another second, let alone the rest of his life, and give him the chance for early parole. A chance to kill again.”
“You can’t take the law into your hands, Theresa!”
“Dilemma, dilemma,” said Benny, “What are you gonna do, sweet Theresa? Can you colour inside the lines anymore? Do you need me to remind you how wet I made your sister, seventeen years ago? How she moaned like a whore over and over again, screaming for me to fuck her?”
For a moment, the drone of the cicadas was interrupted, but when the smoke cleared, and the birds had flown away, they began again. Buzzing away. Indifferent to what had happened. For to them, the death of a murderer and a rapist was insignificant. Joey’s body, wrists still clamped together, slumped into the mud, my bullet in his heart.
I rushed over to Theresa who stood motionless, and I heard rustling behind us, probably an officer rushing to our aid. An officer whom I thought would have arrived much sooner; when we did, in fact.
“Are you guys okay?” called the officer.
Looking at Theresa, I was unsure what to do, or what to say. It was impossible to know what she was feeling. Maybe she was thinking the same thing, but for the moment she was catatonic, so I finally called back, “He was about to assault my partner,” I lied, “but we’re fine now! He’s dead! And make sure to get CSU in here. There’s at least one other body out in this swamp.”
I presume the officer rushed back to his car to radio in what happened. Meanwhile, I thought about how seventeen years ago, Joey Witzer was here, and had made graves for god knows how many teen girls, who were then eaten by cicadas. Theresa and I listened to the them. In the oaks and the hickory, as their songs began to ebb.