Detective Blackhorse left the Heavenly Hash Smoke Shop and strode to his car with a spring in his step. Once Smokey said that the victims in his murder case were drug dealers who had stolen from a customer, things finally started making sense. As he drove off, Blackhorse let everything sink in. If what Smokey said was true, then one or all four victims had most likely cheated Dakota by keeping a portion of the drugs she was owed and diluting what they gave her. On the streets, they called that stepping on it; mixing some other substance into the drugs to stretch it. Blackhorse wondered if Dakota had discovered their deception or if customers brought it to her attention.
Dakota denied killing them, saying that dead men could not repay debts. Of course, in the drug trade, sometimes people were willing to take a financial hit in order to make an example of someone who has crossed them as a message to others thinking about trying to cheat them. Dakota didn’t strike Blackhorse as the impetuous type. As an outsider, she automatically became a suspect anytime something illegal went down. Unless Blackhorse was mistaken, she had no family or friends in town. That meant Dakota had no allies. Poisoning four men would most assuredly bring unwanted attention and lead to harsh prosecution.
Everyone’s eagerness to pin the murders on Dakota was precisely what made him want to take a closer look. After all, if those men had stepped on the drugs, then she was not the only one who got cheated. How many customers had paid full price for watered down product? It didn’t take much to enrage someone in the throes of withdrawal. An irate customer was just as likely to go after them.
It also occurred to Blackhorse that the victims’ beggarly existence indicated that they were not drug dealers. That begged the question of where had they gotten the drugs in the first place? Were the drugs stolen? Was one or more of the victims a drug runner? If so, then did the dealer they worked for find out about them skimming off some of the product? Drug dealer retribution tended to be swift and deadly.
Blackhorse started looking for someplace to pull the car over. He had a needed to organize his thoughts and jot a few things down. A growing headache made focusing challenging. Blackhorse didn’t know if the heat was getting to him or all the smoke in the shop was making him lightheaded. It was midday, so there were several cars on the road. Blackhorse glanced in his rear and sideview mirrors and noticed that the same gray car, which had been on the strip mall parking lot was behind him. Blackhorse realized that he had been seeing that the same vehicle in his rearview mirror for a couple of days. Out of curiosity, he abruptly turned down a side street and quickly made another sharp turn. Yes, the driver of that gray car was definitely following him.