Ok back again for that stuff, I do.
So on the plus side being banned on facebook for another thirty days does do away with a lot of the distractions I suffer which coupled with the intense tiredness associated with getting back into weightlifting is nothing too dissimilar from a literal handicap haha. Just half awake scrolling and scrolling forever haha.
It’s better that I do something vaguely productive despite feeling like I’ve been run over by a truck everyday. I went pretty heavy when I started up again, went straight to the eighty pound bar bell for the chest press which I don’t regret, if anyone hasn’t tried weight lifting or any good excercise, it really is like a drug. My drugs of choice are chocolate, coffee and excercise and I’m trying to cut back on the coffee.
Updates, updates, get down to business, get things right in my head. Still don’t have the finished edited copy of this which is infuriating and I’ve emailed and emailed and emailed and it’s getting me absolutely nowhere.
Also I realised I fucked up with the editing of Diana after Dark, because I did some story tweaks changing one of the characters so they’d be more integral to the story in later manifestations but I sent the old version so I had a minor freakout about that but hopefully it’s all fixed, Chrissy, my new editor seemed to take it in stride and it really put my mind at ease. But really what a fucking rookie mistake, changing it and forgetting to label it correctly, fuck me I feel dumb.
Anyway it’s going forward and recently it’s been a slog with all the weightlifting death feelings but I’ve working my way through the plans for the sequel to Diana after Dark and it’s going really well. I’m really liking the direction it’s taking. Also I decided to change Diana’s name to ‘Deedee’ for the title, so her name will still be Diana Harrison, Deedee will like be a nickname. I just think it’s cuter, its less heavy and librarianish and I think it makes for a snappier sound. Also the references to Dexter’s lab amuse me haha.
That’s about all. Just gonna spend the rest of the day editing.
On the drive home the ‘kid’ was relatively quiet, just staring out the window. Something in him seemed lighter, the weight was gone. Porter followed the highway back towards Selma and into Valhalla. As they reached the entrance he started to talk again.
“So you’re a detective?”
“Most of the time”.
“How do you get that work?”
“I got my license in a cereal box.”
He smiled and said “Cereal stopped giving away prizes long ago, I think”. Nulidad went back to staring out the window, or maybe just looking at his own reflection in the glass.
There was some activity in the sky, a black helicopter flew overhead. “I’ve got to let you out here, you know the way?”
“I know the way”
Porter stopped outside the childs play area in Valhalla park and the kid started walking. Porter did a u-turn and watched the kid disappear around the corner.
The next day he was all over the news, videos of his arrest outside of his home. The boy now a man was bundled out of a white car, held with his wrists cuffed behind his back by FBI in brown suits. He smiled at the camera, his hair turning an orange colour due to the bleaching and lights of the cameras.
The story was ‘master imposter fools his way into america, pretending to be a missing child. Fooling the fbi and even the boys parents’. They described him as a predator preying on the most vulnerable. Feeding off their hopes and fears to gain their confidence.
“It’s almost unheard of, a foreigner pretending to be a missing child fooling the boys own mother. It’s hard to even imagine it.” The news anchor said, ruffling his neat grey hair and deeply creased face. His voice ringing with faux concern and moral outrage.
Angela refused to be on camera. A tearful Peggy on her way to the sheriff’s office was stopped by reporters and cried “Where’s the real Johnny?”
Porter was sitting at the bar eating beer nuts and watching it all fall apart on the flatscreen above the bar. Patrick craned his neck with his hands on hips and every mouth was open watching. Patrick looked at Porter and Porter said nothing.
The phone rang in the back and Patrick slapped his bar clothe down and went to go get it. Only to come back a few seconds later. “Its for you, some FBI woman wants to talk to you about ears or some such nonsense.”
Porter went around the back feeling a little smug but keeping it off his face and out of his voice. “Hello”
“Porter Carraway, this is Special Agent-“
“-Nancy Jaeger, yeah I remember, can we get to the point?”
“Which is what?”
“What, you were right?”
“Not in so many words”
“We have him, but it’s not over and I think you know that better than anyone.”
“…” Porter started counting his teeth with his tongue.
“He’s been talking, a lot, about the real Johnny. What he thinks happened to him, he’s implicated the kids parents and someone named ‘Jack’. We’re having trouble tracking him down for an interview”
“Did you question his mother?”
“We did, she passed a polygraph twice?”
“And the third time?”
Nancy exhaled into the receiver and smiled “She failed, on every question. The needle almost jumped off the table.”
“Uh huh, what happened after that?”
“She didn’t take it well, the poligrapher confronted her and she stormed out the room screaming.”
“So you’ve got nothing.”
“Less than nothing. Poligraphs are a cheap parlor trick to convince juries but they’re not solid evidence.”
“Ok, now get to the part where I do you a favour”
“He’s saying a lot, too much. He’s claiming to have information on several missing person’s cases. And he’s already been caught using his phone calls to impersonate other missing children. He’s a compulsive liar and fraud, there’s not a jury on earth that would take anything he said seriously”.
“But you believe him? About the boy.”
“I have my suspicions, but I’m too caught up in all this to shift focus on finding the real Johnny to do anything about it. If I try to shift focus onto the parents now without any evidence they’ll give the case to someone else. I have to be nailing Nulidad to the wall or the case falls apart.”
Porter breathed in deep and thought about it.
“Do you understand?”
“Yeah” Porter said as he hung up the phone and then picked it up again and started dialing.
Porter parked outside their old house on Swallow street. It was a bright Texas morning. He set off after breakfast and sat for a moment thinking and getting hot in the cab with the air conditioner off. The house looked the same as last time, the only difference was there was a black Jeep pickup outside.
After a moment of hesitation he opened the door and stepped out shutting the door hard. He walked up the driveway to that small white garage door. Crossing the round the stone footpath onto the porch and he rang the doorbell like last time.
Like last time the drapes were pulled and he couldn’t see inside.
He waited, there was some rummaging happening behind the door. Before long a figure appeared through the white lattice window in the door.
“What d’ya want?”
“We spoke on the phone.”
“Oh yeah.” He said letting the sound of the door unbolting be a full stop. Then the clinking of the chain being taken off. A large man around six feet, well built with a gut of a long distance truck driver sood in the doorway. He had a rough short beard and a shaved head but otherwise a friendly face and an affable demeanor. “Hey hows it going?” He put his hand out to shake and Porter took it. “Sorry about that, we get a lot of salesmen around here, you know what I mean, please come in.” The large man let go of Porter’s hand stepped to the side to invite him in. He was wearing a generic white tee and sweat pants.
“Darrol was it?”
Porter entered a small living room from the front door. A black coach pushed up against the wall. Through an alcove in the same wall he saw the dining room with a ceiling fan spinning. A screen doors lead onto the back yard.
The large man then sped up past him and lead him into the dining room furnished in a sandy wood. There was a table and some cabinets with books and dvds and a small tv poking out of one of the gaps in the dresser.
“Darren” The man corrected. “how did you get my number again?”
“Your realtor was real chatty, I just had some questions to ask you”.
“About that case right? I saw it on the news about the missing boy. He used to live here? Had reporters buzzing around here wanting to look around but I really don’t know anything, how could I?”
“You said something about a black tarp on the phone”
Darren opened the screen door and walked out into his yard and Porter followed him. The yard was relatively small slightly overgrown but otherwise well kept. Bushes and trees lining the outer edges and a fence running all the way around.
“When we first got my dog Bernie, he would always dig in the back corner”. Darren pointed off to the right back corner of his yard. Where the back fence met an overgrown bush that leaned over into his yard was choking a small maple tree. “over by that tree there, and one day I was mowing, and I sort of went under the bush a little. And I started picking up some of this plastic like tarp, got all clogged in the blades of the mower.”
He looked over at Porter to make sure he was hanging on his every word and he was.
“And I stop the mower and I find where it’s coming from and it’s this black plastic coming out of the ground.” Darren gestured with his hands like the dead were reaching out of the ground. He turned to Porter and he was nodding. “So I tried to pull it out from under the bush” Darren mimed the action of pulling the plastic out of the ground. “But as I kept trying to pull it, it just kept coming off in my hands, I couldn’t get a grip on it.” He sucked his gums and put his hands on his hips. “So I got fed up of that and I just covered it up and never paid it any mind until last night when we were talking on the phone.”
Porter inhaled some fresh cool air and rocked his head back and forth looking at the overgrown bush. “That bush has been there a while, you didn’t plant that?”
“No sir, that was here when we moved in.”
“Your wife home?”
“No she’s at work, she works at the hospital, she’s a nurse practitioner, she wont be back til about six maybe later.”
“You got a shovel?”
They migrated to the bottom of the yard. Darren did in fact have a shovel but he didn’t want some stranger digging up his lawn so the compromise was a trowl. Instead of clipping back the hedges. Darren would hold it up while Porter probed the ground with the trowel.
“Yeah it was right about there, I think, it was a good couple years ago when I found it.”
Porter knelt down, he’d tossed his jacket over the side of the fence and rolled up his shirt sleeves. He started gently prodding the earth with the trowl kneading it like dry dough. Only after a minute of this did he feel any resistance and he could hear a crinkling sound. He started to pry and dust the dirt off just enough not to irritate Darren too much.
He managed to get a good chuck levered out with the trowl. From what he could see under the bush, there was something taking in some light. A dull plastic tarp nevertheless caught some of the light and was throwing it back.
Darren watched with a morbid curiosity. He struggled the keep the bush out of the way like wrestling an octopus. Porter looked up at him, on his knees in the dirt. He made a sucking sound and looked to Darren for some tacit permission.
Darren was getting tired and he nodded furiously out of his own sudden desire to know more. Porter started to dig a little more. Gently removing a few more layers of dirt until more of the tarp was exposed and he could see a seam and more.
It seemed cliché and dreamlike, predictable, so predictable it was almost laughably. It was stupid really, like an episode of murder she wrote, but there it was lying on the ground.
“What is that? A bone? Is it like a dog bone?” Darren said nervously praying that he was right.
Porter pryed the tarp open revealing more of the bone, it was long and white and discoloured. “I’m no expert”.
“But can you make a guess? I mean come on man, did my dog put that there or what?”
“I can make a lot of guesses, none of them any good. But I can be sure your dog didn’t wrap it up in a tarp before he buried it.”
He moved it with the trowl to get a better look at it, catch more light.
“It’s human aint it?”
“Seems that way” Porter sighed “Ah I dunno” he said as he rolled back onto his heels and dusted himself off.
“So what does it mean? Is that the kid, was he here all along? Oh jesus help me!”
Porter sighed, something prickly crawling up his back and was breathing down his neck.
“No, I don’t think so”
“Wait what d’ya mean, who else could it be? You don’t think it’s the kid’s?”
“It looks like a femur, a leg bone.”
“It’s too long to be a kid’s”.
“Oh jesus, then who?”
Porter sighed and gritted his teeth with his lips tightly pursed.
“I have no idea.”
“Well what the hell do I do with it? I should go to the police?” He said like he didn’t really want to.
“Sit on it for now, you don’t want the cops digging up your lawn with a back hoe over what could just be a dead dog”.
Porter stopped at a gas station the first chance he got to use the phone.
He lit a cigarette leaning out of the booth listening to it ring.
It clicked on, a tense woman’s voice answered.
“Jaeger, it’s Porter. I had a visit with the guy who moved into their old house.”
“And? Did you find anything?”
“There was nothing in the house but we found something in the garden, buried under a black tarp.”
“Oh jesus you found him?”
“Not so sure, can’t guarantee it’s even human, just bones but from what I can tell it looks too developed to be a kid”
“I told you, my hands are tied right now. I can’t touch whatever it is you’re doing and I can’t send forensics to some guys house on your say so.”
“So what can you do?” There was a challenge in his voice.
“He called me, I’ve been trying to get hold of you all day but your friend said you were out and you don’t carry a cellphone.”
“And what did Mr ‘Long-chain-on’ have to say for himself?”
“I asked if he’d come in for questioning and he refused. Apparently he didn’t believe from the start that Nulidad was his brother. But didn’t want to say anything to upset his mother.”
“And then nothing”.
“Do you know where?” Porter sighed.
Nancy sighed and there was a sound like someone rubbing their temples. The clicking of plastic as the phone was moved between hands.
“I looked into his records and there’s an address of a rehab clinic he spent some time at. It’s possible they might know where he stays, it’s on Calebra, West San Antonio.”
Porter paused and took a breath.
“So I go there and I find out where this guy hangs out and then what?”
“If you find him. Call it in as an anonymous tip related to drug offenses and we’ll have him picked up and questioned, that’s all”.
“First, tell me”
“Tell you what?”
“What you think”
“You wanna know what I think? I think they know where their son is”. She paused and put her hand over the receiver for a second. She came back on with a rustling sound as she took her hand away. “I don’t believe a mother could not know her only son for a stranger, not in a million years.”
Porter let out a breath and then sucked on his gums before saying “I’ll let you know” and hanging up.