Shadowy Corners

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Mystery Fiction: Questionable Motives-Chapter 12

Detective Blackhorse sat in his car, waiting for his irritation over Officer Schneider’s unprofessional antics to pass. It would be a mistake to allow that buffoon to get under his skin. Blackhorse grudgingly admitted to himself that part of him was tempted to sink to Schneider’s level and clap back at him, when he was being spiteful. How satisfying would it be to find the killer in record time, so he could gloat about it? He’d love to see the look on Schneider’s face then. Blackhorse fantasized about it for a few moments and then sighed, knowing he had to resist temptation and exercise restraint.

Trying too hard to prove that he was right, and Schneider was wrong could prove disastrous. Blackhorse had seen detectives develop tunnel vision, in their haste to solve a crime. There was nothing more reprehensible then trying to force evidence to point to a suspect. That kind of pigheadedness had sent innocent men to jail and allowed guilty ones walking free on a technicality. Blackhorse shook his head resolutely. He would never let that happen. A methodical approach would ensure that his emotions weren’t clouding his judgement.

He realized that Schneider’s comments only bothered him because he was already frustrated. As much as he hated to admit it, his investigation had not yielded any solid evidence. So far, it was all rumors and innuendo. Blackhorse felt rudderless. At least the autopsy reports had finally come back. That at least was solid evidence, but of what? Blackhorse gave some thought to what Schnieder had relayed to him about the autopsy results and wondered if it was even true. His gut told him not to trust anything the man said. Blackhorse needed to see the autopsy results with his own eyes.

It would be nice to just pull the results up on his laptop. Blackhorse knew better than to waste time firing up his laptop. Most small-town police departments still did things the old-fashioned way, with paper files. That was unfortunate. The serenity of the forest was much more conducive to his concentration than the noisy, cramped outdated precinct. Blackhorse needed to get a look at those autopsy results, before interviewing anyone else. He took a deep breath and blew it out noisily.

There was no way around it, he was going to have to stop in at the precinct and grab those lab reports. Blackhorse started his car and headed across town. Determined to get in and get out as quickly as possible, he went in and headed straight for his assigned cubbyhole to grab the reports. It was empty. Blackhorse cursed under his breath. Schneider must still have them on his desk. Blackhorse looked around but didn’t see him. Unwilling to waste time waiting for Schneider to return, he strode over to Schneider’s desk and searched for the reports.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing,” Schneider exclaimed, coming up behind Blackhorse.

“Looking for the autopsy results on my victims.”

“Ever heard of asking, before you go snooping through somebody’s desk?”

“If you had put my autopsy results back where you found them, then I wouldn’t have to go looking for them. Next time, keep your hands off of documents related to my case.”

“Your case?” snorted Schneider derisively.

“Did you think I was here on vacation?”

“Well now that you mention it detective, it don’t look to me like you came up with anything useful. So, you may as well be on vacation. I bet you ain’t found nothing, since the last time you bothered to show up around here with that stupid ring. You wouldn’t have even known the autopsy results had come in, if I hadn’t called and told you. What the hell you been doing,” quizzed Schneider.

“Last time I checked officer, you weren’t my supervisor. I don’t answer to you. That’s why I find your fascination with my case puzzling. Is there some sort of connection between you and one of the victims? Maybe you know more about this murder than you let on.”

“What the hell you talkin’ about?” Schneider snapped, aggressively stepping up to Blackhorse. The men stood toe to toe in a stare down.

“You tell me. In small towns, everybody seems to be related or dating. Besides, I know for a fact that Herbert Simmons used to live here,” Blackhorse replied coolly.

Up close, Blackhorse could see the almost imperceptible twitch of Schneider’s left eye. That little tidbit had caught Schneider off guard. He didn’t know Blackhorse had unearthed it. Had he struck a nerve? If so, what did it mean?

“How did you find out about that,” asked Schneider.

“It’s my job to know things. So, did you know Herbert?”

“Yeah, I knew him.”

“How did you know him?”

“I knew him because it’s my job to know the people I protect,” Schneider replied evasively.

“How well did you know him?”

“I knew him well enough. What is this an interrogation,” Schneider asked suspiciously.

“Should it be?”

Schneider’s face flushed red with rage. His mouth flew open and then closed just as quickly. Without breaking eye contact, Schneider opened the middle drawer of his desk and retrieved the file of autopsy results.

“I’m gonna pretend I didn’t hear that. ‘Cause if I thought you was stupid enough to come after me…”

Blackhorse calmly accepted the file which Schneider shoved into his chest, completely unbothered by the ham-handed attempt at intimidation. He smiled, taking vindictive pleasure in getting a rise out of Schneider so easily. Yes, he had definitely struck a nerve. Interesting…had Schneider lost his cool because he was one of those tiresome people who loved to dish it out but couldn’t take it? He looked to be around the same age as Herbert, so it was entirely possible that he had gone to school with him. Did he have a personal axe to grind with Herbert or had they been involved in something illicit? Blackhorse made a mental note to look into any possible connections between Schneider and the victims.

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