Hot Lights, Cold Steel--A Dub Walker Thriller
by DP Lyle, MD
When forensic and criminal behavior expert Dub Walker agrees to help his old friend locate her nineteen-year-old daughter, he never imagines the nightmare that will follow.
Along with another young woman’s, the teen’s body is found in a densely wooded area in a shallow grave, excavated by a pack of feral pigs. But that’s not the most disturbing part. Both young ladies were buried after undergoing a series of highly technical surgical procedures.
And that’s just the beginning. Nearly two dozen more bodies are discovered in various rural locations around the city and even in the massive midtown public cemetery.
Now Dub must unravel the questions. Who would do this? Who had the skill and the equipment to perform these procedures without attracting attention? And more importantly, why?
This was going to be totally cool. Dead bodies. Carmelita had never seen one, much less two. Would they be gross? Smell bad? She’d heard that they smelled like rotting eggs. What if she threw up? How embarrassing. Still, she’d have a great story to tell. And a ring to show off.
She had been scheduled to work until 1:00 a.m., but this was definitely worth dumping a couple of hours. Besides, it wasn’t that busy, and the tips had been lousy. Some nights were just that way. Maybe if this had been a payday Friday, she’d have stayed, but a dead Wednesday? No contest.
Before leaving the club, she changed into jeans and a red T-shirt with a yellow Ferrari logo on the front and told her friend Madison where she was going. Tried to recruit her to come along. Do a double. Both make some cash. But, as usual, Madison balked. She never joined Carmelita on her escapades. Madison called them “sexcapades.” Whatever. Of course, she always wanted to hear all the dirty details the next day.
Now Carmelita sat in the cab of a pickup between Eddie and his friend Alejandro, who drove. She had seen Alejandro at the club before. Usually with Eddie. Where Eddie was young and soft, Alejandro looked hard and tough. Didn’t smile, didn’t say a word when Eddie introduced them. Just looked at her with contempt in his eyes.
She wished Madison was here. Maybe she could’ve warmed the dude up.
First stop, a liquor store. She and Eddie picked up two six-packs of beer and a pint of Jack Daniel’s. In the well-lit store, she saw Eddie clearly for the first time. He was even more handsome than he had seemed in the dark club. Dirty blond hair, blue eyes, and a pleasant smile. She’d screwed worse. A lot worse. For a lot less. Best of all, he was naïve, and if she worked it right, she could double the two hundred he had promised.
Back in the truck, Carmelita swigged her beer and giggled as Eddie ran his hand up her thigh, squeezing firmly. “How far is it?” she asked.
“Just a few miles to my place.” He dropped an empty beer bottle in the bag and pulled out a fresh one, twisting off the cap.
“Your place? What about the bodies?” She pushed his hand away. “You promised.”
Eddie smiled. “We’re going. After Alejandro drops us off, we’ll take my truck.”
She stared at Alejandro. His dark eyes and set jaw made her uncomfortable. Vein-roped arms and scarred knuckles gripped the steering wheel. “You’re not coming with us?”
“No.” He gulped a shot from the whiskey bottle.
Eddie laughed. “Alejandro’s seen enough bodies, haven’t you?”
Alejandro didn’t respond. He pulled a Marlboro from the pack in his shirt pocket and lit it with a Zippo. He clicked the lighter closed and tossed it on the dash as he turned off University on to Jeff Road and headed north. They quickly left civilization behind and were now on a country road, passing only an occasional farmhouse.
She looked at Alejandro. “You a hit man, too?”
Alejandro’s eyes narrowed, but his gaze never left the road. “You ask too many questions.”
Carmelita inched toward Eddie, breaking the contact of her leg with Alejandro’s. “I’m sorry. I was just trying to be friendly.”
“Don’t worry about him,” Eddie said. “Alejandro don’t talk much.”
Alejandro offered a faint grunt and took another swig of whiskey. He wedged the open pint between his legs and flicked ashes out the window. They swirled like fireflies before fading into the darkness.
She glanced out the window and then over her shoulder. Nothing. Not a single car light. No sign of anyone.
They turned onto a rutted road, the truck’s headlamps gyrating wildly as they bounced along. They passed a faded sign that read Sunnyvale Trailer Park and wound through a collection of thirty to forty weather-beaten mobile homes that were arrayed along the dusty, serpentine loop. She saw that most had been permanently embedded in the soil while others balanced on dry-rotted tires.
Televisions flickered through the windows of a couple of the trailers near the entrance, but near the rear of the park everything was dark and quiet. As if no one lived back here. Beyond the park? Nothing.
Carmelita been so busy drinking beer and talking with Eddie that she hadn’t noticed just how far into the country they had driven. Or what roads they had taken. She began to feel alone and vulnerable. Her heart thumped harder, and her palms moistened.
“Doesn’t look like anyone lives here,” she said.
“I do,” Eddie said. “Just ahead.”
What have I gotten myself into? These men were killers. Eddie told her so. What was to stop them from raping her, killing her, dumping her out where no one would ever find her? Her throat felt dry. She tried to swallow, couldn’t, and took a drink of beer. It seemed bitter now. “I should go back.”
“What are you talking about?” Eddie asked.
“I’m tired. I don’t feel well.”
She noticed Alejandro cock his head toward her before she looked into Eddie’s face. He smiled. Seemed so innocent. Was he?
“Relax. We’ll have some fun, you’ll see the bodies, and then I’ll take you back.” Eddie squeezed her thigh. “You’ll see.
He has worked with many novelists and with the writers of popular television shows such as Law & Order, CSI: Miami, Diagnosis Murder, Monk, Judging Amy, Peacemakers, Cold Case, House, Medium, Women’s Murder Club, 1-800-Missing, and The Glades.
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