After Carol Sawyer had collected herself, she invited Dallas and Bo inside. Now they sat in her living room, each of them armed with a single cup of coffee. Bo sat beside Dallas on the couch, an open notebook on his lap and a pencil poised and ready for note-taking. For that, Dallas considered himself thankful. His partner in Narcotics had always hated taking notes, had always passed it off to Dallas–not that he entirely minded–but with his dominant hand out of commission, he appreciated Bo’s willingness to be the designated note-taker.
“Miss Sawyer, when is the last time you physically saw your son?” Bo asked.
“Saw? The, uh… the day before he turned eighteen.”
“Why’s that?” Dallas asked.
“He’d been obsessed with this group of people for… years. Two or three, I think. One of his friends at school was a member, and he wanted to join the group too. I told him time and time again that he wouldn’t be joining some group of self-proclaimed cannibals while he was living under my roof. So the very day he turned eighteen, he packed up his things and got the hell out while at work. I haven’t seen him since.”
Carol nodded. “That’s what I gathered from Rob, anyway. When he was trying to get my permission to let him join this… group of freaks, he explained some of it to me. I don’t know if they ever actually did it, but I remember him telling me that they believed eating human organs would give them strength. I can’t say they actually ate them, but I can say that’s what they believed in.”
Dallas glanced over at Bo’s notebook. Much to his surprise, the analyst had kept up with notes just fine. They were in some kind of vowel-less shorthand, but he was right on track. Dallas took a sip of his coffee before looking back at Carol again. “When was the last time you heard from your son? A text message, a phone call… Anything of the sort?”
“He called me on his twenty-first birthday. I was at work, so the call went through to voicemail.”
“He left you a message, then?”
Carol nodded. “Yeah. He wanted to let me know how happy he was to be with them. He said he felt at peace, felt… he finally had a purpose in the world.” She shook her head, closing her eyes. “He called me from a payphone. I couldn’t even call him back and try to talk some sense into him. Not that that… ever worked before, but still, a mother hopes.” She opened her eyes, clasping her hands in front of her mouth. “Did those bastards kill my little boy?”
“We can’t say that for certain, ma’am. We’re still in the beginning stages of this investigation, but I assure you we will explore every possibility to find the person or persons responsible for your son’s death.” Dallas cleared his throat. “I just have a few more questions for you, whenever you’re ready.”
As they walked down Carol Sawyer’s driveway, Dallas pulled his keys from his pocket. “I know we didn’t get a cult name or anything, but now we have confirmation that he was involved in a cult. That’s a good step forward.” He unlocked the cruiser before looking down at Bo. “Are you okay with admitting that? Or is it too much of an assumption?
Bo grabbed the handle of the passenger door, a small frown set on his face. “Are you mocking me?”
“No. God, no. If talking about it like it’s a fact bothers you, I wanna avoid doing it, that’s all. The closer we are to the same page in our investigation, the smoother things’ll go. In my experience, anyway.”
“In mine, as well,” Bo said quietly. He pulled open the door, clearing his throat. “No, it’s not an assumption. Despite their distance now, her son lived with her until the day he turned eighteen. He spoke of this cult. He requested her permission to join it previous to society-proclaimed adulthood. He called her to tell her how much he loved being a part of the cult. If it wasn’t a fact, it is instead the most elaborate prank to play one’s mother I have ever seen. Calling it a fact doesn’t bother me when it is a fact.”
One corner of Dallas’s mouth lifted. “Good to know, Austen.” He opened the driver’s side door of the cruiser. “Where do we go from here?”
“There are many options for which direction you would like to go.” Bo slid into the car and closed the door.
Dallas let out a breath. He’d need to get better at wording his questions in a way that would get a more direct answer from Bo on the first try.
Or we could kill him and be assigned a new lab geek, one that’s less… Oh, let’s be kind and say ‘complicated’.
Or you could go fuck yourself.
Dallas rolled his eyes and slid into the driver’s seat, closing the door behind him. “Where do you think your favorite officer would’ve gone from here in terms of… the next step in the investigation?”
“That would’ve been mostly dependent on the case and what we had accomplished prior to this specific point. Like I said, there are many directions we can go with our next step. For instance, I’m still waiting on blood test results from the victim. I already know he died from blood loss, but if we know what he was injected with prior to that, we may have a better clue as to what kind of person had access to what he was injected with.”
Starting the car, Dallas glanced over at Bo. “What do you mean by that? Uh, the ‘what kind of person had access’ bit.”
“Apologies. Was he injected with something only a veterinarian has access to? Only a doctor? Or was it something you can make? Something you can buy anywhere? If not everyone has easy access to the drug, it helps us narrow down who we’re looking for.”
“Ah, yeah, a fair point, man.” Dallas reached across with his left hand to punch Bo’s shoulder. Bo flinched away, though the look his face read as confusion rather than pain or fear. “Sorry. That was playful. I was about to follow that with the thought that I’m glad to have you as my partner.”
“Playful,” Bo echoed. He nodded once and turned to look out the window.
Dallas let out a breath. Forging a friendship with the short blonde would be a hell of a lot harder than he had initially planned for. Shifting into drive, he pulled away from the curb. “Were you homeschool, Austen?”
“No, I attended public school for the entirety of my schooling career.”
“What were your friends like?”
“There were none?”
“Not even one?”
“No. I had kids that were slightly kinder to me when they forced me to do their homework than other kids were, but that was the general extent of it. It’s one thing to befriend the short kid or the smart kid who skipped a couple grades. It’s another thing entirely to befriend the kids who is both. I could fit in lockers and do all of their homework. You don’t befriend that kid. You make that kid do the assignments you don’t want to do on your own and threaten to lock him in a locker if he doesn’t.”
“Jesus,” Dallas whispered. “I’m sorry your schooling experience, umm… was far from the best.”
“It’s the hand I’ve been dealt, and it’s the one I’m used to. I was prepared for it long before I got to school.”
“Because of your mom?”
“I’d prefer not to discuss it.”
“Yeah, man, of course.” Dallas cleared his throat. “We, uh, we can still watch that security footage together, yeah?”
“We would have to bring one of the televisions down. Those are upstairs for the officers and detectives.”
“Are they, like, trying to corral you guys? You don’t get computers, you don’t get TVs… Why not?”
“It isn’t in the budget. We have our forensic-specific technology, and that’s more or less all that matters.”
“Even though you guys are normally the ones that do the tech shit?”
“Yes. As long as we have what we need to do our job, the majority of the funds are allocated elsewhere. Officers, detectives, insurance, upkeep on police vehicles and weapons.”
“Does Pitman do that?”
“Mister Pitman hands the budget for each department to his lieutenants. They may do with that as they please. I’m sure he would allot more to a department if they deserved it or needed it, but I believe Lieutenant Fox isn’t exactly willing to ask for more.”
“Why do you think that is?”
“I can only offer assumptions.”
“Okay, what kind of assumptions can you throw my way?”
Bo shook his head before letting out a sigh instead. “Mister Fox isn’t a fan of chats with Mister Pitman. Budgeting for an increase to the forensics department would require a chat.”
Little tip, Tex, Ed said. If you want this good streak to keep going, don’t ask him any more questions.
Why do you care?
You with friends lets us kill more often than you without friends. I’ll make the sacrifice and leave the little blonde’s life IN his body.
Dallas bit back the initial urge to thank him. Ed was and always would be a monster. Just a voice or not, the monster still didn’t deserve genuine thanks. “Thank you for answering that, Austen. I know you have trouble with certain questions, so thank you.”
“No one… has ever thanked me for that. Are you being sarcastic?”
“No. I appreciate you going a little out of your norm just to answer my question.”
After a moment, Bo nodded. “You’re welcome.” He cleared his throat. “Do you… mind if we go to the coffee shop before we head back to the station? I personally don’t much care for the coffee in the break room.”
Dallas smiled. “I don’t mind at all, Austen.”
“No problem, man.”
Enjoying the story? Consider dropping a comment or a like down below!!
Updates every Thursday!
Love what I do and want to help support me? You can ‘buy me a coffee’ on Ko-fi!