I remember the first case I worked on my own.
Janice Stein was a mess. She looked about ten years older than she was. Her graying hair was tangled in a bun and she wore a pastel pink pajama top with a pair of holy blue jeans. Her yellow finger tips clung hard onto a cigarette and her leg was nervously bobbing causing the smoke to create a curtain across her face. Her blue eyes were watered down and red from crying.
“I don’t know where Jason went. I swear I don’t know what has gotten into that boy. All his friends have jobs and make their parents proud. Instead he lays around all day and don’t do shit, ‘cept smoke dope,” she said. Her voice was low and gravelly. She lifted the cigarette to her mouth, took a long drag and blew the smoke out of her nostrils.
“Well how long has he been gone this time? I mean it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t want to be found. Do you have any clues of where he might be?” I asked.
She shook her head, still puffing on her cigarette. I knew Jason Stein. While I was in training with my FTO, I caught him numerous times in a lot of the local drug houses around Denton. He was a skinny blonde headed hood who wasn’t very sure of himself and didn’t appear to have much of a conscience. His mom, Janice, had taken up three jobs to support him hoping he would one day turn around and become a responsible adult. Every time he was taken to jail, she bailed him out and every time he promised her that things would change. They never did.
So now I sat in front of this broken woman. She didn’t appear to have one shred of dignity left as her eyes welled up with tears, not bothering to wipe her face clean. Snot dribbled from her nose and she hugged herself around her stomach.
“Think Janice, is there anything at all that can help me. I know you want Jason back but if I don’t have anything to go by then all I can do if file a missing persons report and hope he turns up,” I said. I tried to catch her attention by bending over to look in her eyes. She turned away.
“Yes,” she sniffled, “he left a piece of paper on his bed. I can get it for you”.
Janice crushed her cigarette out in an overflowing ashtray. She stood up and walked down the hallway to a bedroom on the right. When she came back, she had a folded piece of yellow notebook paper. She handed it to me, sat down and lit another cigarette. I unfolded the piece of paper and looked at it. Written on it was the word “DAWN” in all capital letters and an address.
“Do you recognize this address?” I asked.
She shook her head.
“Well, I assume whatever he is doing at this address, it’s gonna take place at dawn. I just hope Jason doesn’t do anything stupid.”
Janice didn’t like the thought of that. She pouted loudly and buried her face in her hand.
“Please, just find him and bring him home safe.”
“Well that’s entirely up to him. But I’ll try.”
I stood up and looked over my shoulder at my back-up officer, Patrick Boddy. He wasn’t that intimidating of an officer, but I trusted that if things went down, he’d be right there beside me. He was a rookie officer like me, but we had gone through the police academy together so I knew he was fully capable to handle his own.
Just before we left out the front door Janice called to me.
“Officer Drouin,” she said softly. I turned to look at her.
“Please bring him home safe.” She muttered.
“Whoa dude, so this is it, our first taste of real police work,” Patrick said outside of Janice’s house. I nodded and looked around. It was quiet outside but felt like one of those neighborhoods that was used to seeing police cars. I looked at Patrick. He had one of those grins that reflected how I felt at the moment. It was exciting to finally have real police work, to have someone rely on you to help them. But at the same time, it was scary as hell.
“So where do we go from here?” he asked when we approached our squad cars. His thick black brow was furled in amusement and contemplation. I didn’t like having to make the decisions, but for the first time in my life people were looking to me.
“Well I guess we have to go to the address on the piece of paper. That would be the only place I know to start.”
“Shit man, I think this Jason dude is probably dead,” Patrick said.
I nodded. “Yeah, that’s what I’m afraid of. Probably got caught up with the wrong people, but this time he got in over his head.”
“So we going to the house?” he asked eager to leave.
“Yeah I suppose.” I said. I wasn’t ready, but then again, he didn’t ask me.
The address on the piece of paper was to a mobile home in a neighborhood off of Fort Worth Drive. The neighborhood had seen better days and was pretty-well forgotten by the world. The mobile home was a small single-wide with brown siding that had decayed and started peeling and crumbling away. The lot hadn’t been mowed in a couple of weeks and the wood porch was gray and weathered. The moonlight reflected off of tinfoil on the inside of their windows. The people who lived there probably used it to try and cut down on their electric bill. I could see light coming from the inside around the edges of the foil.
Patrick had pulled his squad car in behind mine. When we unloaded from our cars we both adjusted our duty belts. As the night wore on, the belt and its components had shifted out of place. We walked up to the front porch and each step groaned under our weight. I opened the screen door while Patrick knocked on the inner door. I made sure not to be right in front of the doorway.
I could hear someone inside walking from the back of the mobile home to the front door. They unlocked what sounded like five or six different locks. When the door opened, I saw a young taut-looking man. His curly brown hair, hung low and uncombed and his goatee was untrimmed. He had on a Black Sabbath t-shirt and a pair of tattered jeans. When his sleepy eyes adjusted and realized two cops were standing on his porch, they widened in fear. I knew that couldn’t be good. Sure enough, he turned and started running back through the home.
“I got him!” Patrick said with excitement and barreled off into the mobile home after him. I turned and ran down the porch headed for the back door. As I turned the corner I heard Patrick holler something and then glass breaking. The young man had jumped through the laundry room window. I came around and saw Patrick’s head hanging out.
“There’s more in here. Get him!” he said pointing. I looked in the direction he pointed me and saw the man running threw a couple of empty lots. I ran after him. It didn’t take long to catch up to him, since he was running barefoot, but I was surprised at exactly how fast he was. I grabbed him from behind. He tripped over his own feet and landed hard on the asphalt street. I slowed down, caught my breath for a second and went to turn him over. Obviously he still had some fight left. He started kicking up at me wildly with both legs. I pushed them out of the way, and kicked him in the thigh. That seemed to do the trick. He yelped like crazy and I was able to get my cuffs out and put them on him.
“Where’s Jason?” I asked.
“Jason who?” he sputtered.
“Jason Stein, where is he?” He stared out into space.
“I don’t know no Jason Stein, man”
“Playing stupid won’t help you. Tell me where Jason is or maybe we can go take a closer look at that shithole house you live in. I’m sure I can find something in there you don’t want the police to find. You wanna go to jail?” I asked with a little more force. I put my knee in the small of his back for emphasis.
“Alright!” he cried, “Jason got a call and said he had to meet someone at the lake. I let him borrow my Mustang to go out there. That’s all I know, honest!”
“Fuck if I know. He just said the lake.”
I sighed and yanked the man to his feet. I patted him down and didn’t find any weapons or drugs on him. I took his wallet out of his back pocket and found his identification card. “Figures,” I said to myself softly, I didn’t think he’d have a driver’s license. The card said his name was Derrick Jones. I walked Derrick back to the mobile home and took him inside. Patrick was talking with two other guys who sat on a dirty plaid couch. They were both handcuffed.
“Whatcha got?” Patrick asked me. I sat Derrick down beside the other two.
“Derrick here said that Jason left to go to the lake.” I said. Patrick nodded.
“Yeah these two said the same thing.”
“Did you happen to find out which lake?” I asked curiously.
“No,” Patrick shook his head.
“Damn, okay, well I guess we can call the department and get some narcotics guys over here. They’ll probably love this one.”
“Awe, it would’ve been a good bust for us,” Patrick whined. I smiled.
“I know, but we’ve still gotta find Jason.”
I took about twenty minutes before the other cars pulled up. There were a couple of squad cars and two unmarked cars that belonged to the narcotics unit. Kevin Fredrick got out of one of them. Kevin was a taller man with wispy black hair and a scraggly looking beard. He also was a heavier-set man but his arms looked thick and he appeared to be pretty strong. Kevin didn’t have the typical appearance of a police officer. Actually he looked like someone a police officer would be arresting. But I guess that was the benefit of looking the way he did. He was able to fit into the world of narcotics easier. After Patrick and I filled him in on what had happened we passed the case on to him.
“Thanks asshole,” Kevin said to me with a sarcastic grin.
“You’re welcome sweetie,” I smiled back.
“Ya know you could always help stick around a cleanup your own damn mess.”
“And spoil all your fun? Nah,” I winked and left to find the sergeant. I explained to him what had happened and promised him that I would do a report later. He wasn’t too happy that I was ditching the scene, but understood I was in the midst of an ongoing investigation.
Patrick and I headed back to our squad cars and I pulled out my cell phone.
“Who are ya calling?” Patrick asked.
“I’m calling Janice Stein. Hopefully she may know something that can help us,” I said dialing her number.
“Hello,” Janice said in a scratchy unsettling voice.
“Janice, this is Officer Drouin with the Denton police department.” I tried to sound professional.
“Oh yes, have you found Jason?” her voice rose.
“No ma’am, not yet, but I did need to ask you a question.”
“Um, okay… what did you need to ask me?”
“Did Jason happen to have a favorite spot he liked to hang out at? More specifically, did he like to hang out at the lake?” I think the question threw her off. It took her a while to respond.
“Yes, well he liked going to the lake, but he would never tell me where at exactly.”
“Ok, well what lake did he like to go to?”
“Lake Lewisville. He loved to go to Lake Lewisville. His dad would always take him there to go fishing when he was younger. Then after his dad passed Jason would go there to think. Why do you ask?” I was hesitant to want to reveal information to her, but I decided it wouldn’t hurt anything.
“Well, I heard that Jason was going to meet someone at the lake, but they weren’t sure which lake.”
“Do you think he is in any trouble?”
“No, not at the moment, but I need to find out.”
Janice didn’t sound like she believed me, but the sad truth of it was I wasn’t lying. I knew it was a race against time and I felt that I had to find Jason before he did something stupid. Something told me that this wasn’t going to end well and I was becoming more and more determined not to let that happen.
When I hung up with Janice I turned to Patrick.
“Well?” he asked with his eyebrows raised.
“Well we have a starting place. Janice said that he liked to hang out at Lake Lewisville.”
“That’s a big lake. You think we might need to get some help?”
“Honestly, I don’t think we have that kind of time.”
“So what do you want to do?” he stared at me looking almost confused.
“How about you go to Willow Grove Park and I’ll head over to Big Sandy Park. It’s a good place to start and we can let each other know what we find.”
“So I guess we’re gonna be pissing in someone else’s backyard. Don’t you think we can get those other jurisdictions to help out?” he asked. I nodded.
“We can let them know, but we need to go there and personally check ourselves. This is our case.”
“Alright Cliff, but I’m just saying maybe we should let them know. No sense in us getting in trouble.”
“Yeah,” I agreed.
“Okay, well then I guess we better go.” Patrick said and he went to his car and got in. Something told me that Patrick was right. We should take our time and do this the proper way, but I had an internal sense of urgency. I didn’t want to screw this up.
I got in my vehicle and started to drive to Big Sandy Park. When I was in high school it was a place I would go to hang out. I would go out there and sit out on the dock and watch the waves and chill. The drive wasn’t that long. I just hit the highway and exited off at Shady Shores Drive. As I drove, I saw the new housing developments. People had moved away from the city and tried to make luxury living for themselves, but instead just created the typical cookie-cutter style track homes with a pretty façade. They weren’t anything special, and most of the people who moved into these houses had to move out a year later. They blindly bought a house they couldn’t afford thanks to the power of suggestive marketing. Several of the houses now stood vacant with for sale signs that read, “New reduced price”. All I just stared at a waste of great farm land.
The closer I got to the lake, the taller the trees. The older neighborhoods stood long forgotten, and left those residents to fend for themselves. The roads were older and full of potholes, empty lots were left untended to. And with no street lights and overgrown trees, everything had a creepy aura of the bayou country.
As I pulled up to the park I noticed a vehicle in an unofficial gravel parking area. Its lights were off and as I got closer I realized that it was a Mustang. I could see someone sitting in the front seat. I pulled up slowly behind the car, scanning the area carefully. That was easier said than done. The grass was overgrown and could hide anyone easily. I could see the lake glimmering under the moonlight beyond everything. When I was behind the Mustang, I put my car in park and killed the headlights. As I started to get out, there was a bright flash and an unmistakable muffled sound of a gunshot that came from the car.
I froze for a moment in fear and disbelief. Once I collected myself and realized I wasn’t being shot at, I drew my gun from its holster and frantically ran to the car. It wasn’t the smartest move, but I was downright hysterical at that moment. I never thought I’d be in this situation. As I got closer to the vehicle, I began to realize something entirely unexpected.
The driver’s side window was smeared with dark red and I had to open the door to see inside. In the driver’s seat wasn’t Jason, but instead a young woman with brown hair matted with blood. Her eyes were still open and staring at nothing, her hand was still clenched around the pistol. She had on black shirt that was shiny from the blood and her body was entirely relaxed. I didn’t know what to do. A flood of emotion came over me and a million thoughts ran through my head.
Suddenly a pair of headlights appeared down the road and the car drove towards us. When the lights turned off I saw an older model black Mustang. I felt my heart drop when Jason Stein stepped out and started running towards me.
“What happened!” Jason hollered. His blonde hair was bright under the moonlight and I could vaguely see a distraught look on his face.
“Jason, you don’t wanna come over here.” I warned, not sure of what his reaction would be.
“Oh my God, tell me what happened,” I could hear him start to cry as he screamed. A dog started barking in the distance. It was then that I realized he was looking at my gun. I put it back in my holster.
“Jason, she committed suicide,” I said softly. It was a hard thing for me to say. He lurched forward and puked, a natural reaction. When he was done he stayed bent over for a while shaking.
“Who is she,” I asked him.
“She was m-my… she was my girlfriend… three years ago,’ Jason stuttered. When he swallowed deeply he continued, ‘She told me to come out here. Said she was miserable and couldn’t take it anymore. She told me she had something for me…” About that time I noticed a small bundle in the back seat. It was unsettling and I wasn’t sure if my eyes were playing tricks on me.
“…she said it was very important that I come to ‘our spot’…”
The bundle of blankets wrapped around a little girl with perfect blonde hair. Her eyes were closed and she was very still. The blankets didn’t even move.
“Who’s the little girl in the backseat?” I asked.
“Her name is Dawn… she’s my daughter.”
Well I guess I can start with my name, C.R. Fausset. I’ve lived in North Texas, more specifically Denton, all my life. Denton is an amazing town that holds a lot of great history and has such a relaxed atmosphere I haven’t ever left. Also I have been a police officer for about a year now. I, just like my character, am still considered a rookie, and I decided to put him in the same position. I haven’t seen too many novels about rookie police officers, only detectives. I figured that if I started a series, my character will grow with me. Another interesting side note is I hold 2nd degree black belt and have been training in the martial arts for 16 years. I love reading crime stories, mysteries, hard-boiled detective novels and have been reading them pretty much all my life.