Blackout – Chapter Twenty-One

NOT EDITED

Chapter Twenty-One

11:59 AM; CLINSTONE, LITTLE DELIGHTS DINER

“All righty. Your food will be out in just a few,” Ruth promised. She touched a hand to Jacob’s shoulder. “Good to see you, Lieutenant.”

Jacob smiled. “You, too, Ruth.” He turned back to Bo and Jacob, folding his hands on the table. “Get anything with the sketches?”

“I ran several combinations through the system and hoped for the best. I ended up with three IDs. None of them are a one hundred match, but unless a third sketch comes around, they are as close as we’ll get to, well… anything,” Bo said. “Benjamin Hill, Stanley McCullough, Robert Howard.”

“We can bring them in for questioning. Can’t get any kind of search warrant for their houses, but we can bring them in,” Jacob said.

“That’s what I was thinking,” Jensen agreed. “One at a time, run them through some basic shit, fingers crossed, and hope for the best.”

Jacob nodded. “Do what you need to. I’ll sign off on that. Persons of interest, needed for questioning. Gonna start it today?”

“Planning on it. Ryan’s still dealing with self-pity on the breakup. I’m a little nervous to take him anywhere for actual questioning.” Jensen cleared his throat. “Wanna sit in on the questioning? Make sure things run smoothly?”

Jacob smiled. “Would love to, Taylor.”

1:15 PM; CLINSTONE POLICE STATION, INTERROGATION ONE

“Really appreciate you coming in, Mister Hill,” Jensen said, closing the door of the room.

“Didn’t really have a choice, man,” Benjamin Hill muttered.

“Ah, you always have a choice. You’re just a person of interest,” Jensen said.

Benjamin grunted. “This something I need a lawyer for?”

“Depends, friend. Did you break the law recently?”

“No.”

“Then I guess you don’t need a lawyer.” Jensen pressed his hands to the steel table, cocking his head to the side. “Mind telling me where you were on August fifteenth?”

“That was a long damn time ago, man.”

“Hmm.” Jensen lifted his shoulders. “It was a Tuesday. I know exactly where I was on Tuesday. Just throw me a bone, Hill. Where were you?” he asked.

“The bar,” Benjamin said after a moment.

“Perfect. Which bar?”

“Ivory Hill.”

“Perfect. And how about August twenty-second? Also a Tuesday,” Jensen said.

“Home, probably.”

“How about around seven that evening?”

“Home.”

“Anyone there to confirm that?” Jensen asked.

“I live alone,” Benjamin said.

“Mm.” Jensen looked back at Jacob. “Mind calling Ivory Hill? Testing out our new friend’s little story?” he asked.

“Sure thing, Taylor.” Jacob pushed himself away from the wall. He clapped Jensen on the shoulder and headed out into the hall. He walked back to the observation room, closing the door behind him.

Bo stood with his phone to his ear, a notebook laid out in front of him. “He definitely was there? Sometime late in the evening. Anytime between… let’s say eight and eleven that evening?” A pause. “Of course. Thanks, Will. You’re a lifesaver.” Bo ended the call, setting his phone back on the desk. “Mister Hill was at the bar all night, practically up until last call,” he said.

Jacob nodded. “Good to know. Thanks, brother.”

“Sure thing, Jake.”

Jacob sighed. “Jass is just sitting there, barely even moved. Think he needs time off?” he asked.

“If it were me, and Jensen up and left? I’d be a wreck. Work wouldn’t be a priority. I’d need you to pull me off of casework and send me home. Ryan might need that same little push,” Bo said.

The lieutenant nodded. “Yeah, I was thinking the same thing.” He patted Bo on the shoulder. “We’ll wrap this one up, and I’ll talk to Jass while Jensen heads out to pick up the second guy. Sound good.”

“Works for me, Jake.”

1:48 PM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, LAB

Bo swiped his phone from the table as it rang. As Jensen’s name flashed across the screen, he accepted the call and pressed the device to his ear. “What’s wrong, love?”

“McCullough isn’t home. There isn’t even a car parked out here,” Jensen said. “He doesn’t have a job, does he?”

“None that I saw, no. I only briefly looked through his information. Do you need me to do a bit more digging?”

“Yeah. See if the dude’s got a job. I’ll sit in the cruiser for a bit, all right?”

“Sure thing, love.” Bo pinned his cell between his ear and his shoulder. “Jake’s sending Ryan home for a few days.”

“Yeah, I heard. He’s not focused enough to be here, anyway. I don’t want to caught between a rock and a hard place if my partner’s too busy worrying about his love life,” Jensen said.

“I know. It’s too dangerous,” Bo agreed. “All right, as far as I can tell, he doesn’t have a job. At least, he hasn’t had one for almost three months. He was let go from his last job, lived on unemployment for a while. When that ran out… Well, I’m not entirely certain. I think he just made due with what he had. I could dig into his records, but that would take me a few to get into.”

“Nah, babe, that’s all right. Find out if he’s got any family in Clinstone for me? I’ll drop by, see if he’s staying with anyone there, instead,” Jensen said.

“Sure thing. Just a sec.” Bo fell silent for a moment, listening to the soft music playing on Jensen’s end of the call. “Mother’s house. Mary McCullough. He could be there.”

“Send me the address?”

“You betcha.”

“Thanks, babe,” Jensen murmured. “I’ll see you back at the station, all right?”

“I’ll be here. Stay safe.”

“Always.”

2:01 PM; CLINSTONE, MARY MCCULLOUGH’S HOUSE, FRONT PORCH

Jensen knocked on the door, pulling his badge from his pocket with his free hand. When the door opened, he held up the badge. “Detective Sergeant Austen-Taylor. Are you Stanley McCullough?”

“Yeah.”

“If you don’t mind, I’d like to take you in for questioning. You’re not under arrest, it’s just… standard procedure. We’re looking into every lead we have,” he said.

“Umm… yeah, yeah, sure.” Stanley nodded quickly. He jerked a thumb over his shoulder. “Mind if I grab my keys to lock up the place?”

“Go for it. Like I said, you’re not under arrest,” Jensen repeated.

Stanley nodded. “Sure thing, Detective.” He started to close the door, but Jensen pressed a palm to it.

“I’d prefer we didn’t do that.”

“Of course.”

Jensen watched the man disappear. Clearing his throat, he pulled his radio from his belt and held down the button on the side. “I do believe Stanley McCullough is our guy, and even if he’s not, he’s a little shifty. Calling in for backup,” he said softly. He listed off the address of the house and tucked his radio away.

He ducked as a shot rang out, the bullet chipping at the wood on the doorway. Jensen lifted his head as Stanley booked it for the back door.

“Son of a bitch,” Jensen whispered. He ran through the house, slamming the back door open before it could latch.

Jensen pulled his Glock from its holster as a second shot rang out.

Pain exploded in his thigh.

“Put down the weapon, McCullough!” Jensen shouted, powering through the pain. He fired a single shot, nothing but warning fire.

Stanley flipped him off as he rounded the corner.

Jensen hit the ground at the corner, a hand falling to his thigh. Blood gushed between his fingers. His chest heaved as he set his gun down, grabbing his radio. “Shots fired. McCullough on the run. Umm… heading South from his mother’s house.”

“Are you hurt?”

Jensen let out a heavy breath. “Shot in the thigh. Hell of a lot of blood.”

“I’m sending an ambulance, Sergeant.”

“And throw out an APB and a BOLO on McCullough. We need to catch him.”

“Of course, Sergeant.”

“Thanks,” Jensen breathed. He closed his eyes, holding the radio to his chest. “Eli’s gonna fucking kill me,” he whispered.


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