by Flying Fox
(Ch.2)Budsworth attends Higgin's funeral (Ch.3) Budsworth investigates crime scene
CHAPTER 2- GRAVES
NewLand Cemetery, New York City, New York
May 23, 5:24 P.M.
The sound of blanks being fired crushed the silence of the graveyard. Several sniffling people surrounded a six-foot deep hole. A line of men wearing blue uniforms raised their white rifles into the air, and pulled their triggers. Blanks once again split the silence. Six people in black suits marched towards the grave. They all had strait faces. It made Budsworth wonder how could someone just have a strait face and not shed a tear when carrying a dead body in a shiny red box, especially when he was such a honorable guy.
The men gently set the coffin on the grass in front of the hole. They spun around and marched away toward the men firing the blanks. A pastor in a clean black suit separated from the sniffling group. He stepped out in front of the coffin. Silence fell across the entire cemetery, not even another blank was thought of being fired. "Hello everybody..." The priest began. He stared at the group of sorrow before him.
"We are here to collaborate with the memory of David Avery Higgins. He was a fine man, husband, father, agent, and soldier. He was always there for us when we needed help or was in danger." A woman behind Budsworth busted out crying. Large tear drops rolled from her eyes down her cheek, then plopped on the grass covered ground. Her husband wrapped her arms around her.
Budsworth recognized her, Bethany Garry, Higgins sister. Her husband and her snuck out of the crowd. It was far too hard for her. It was almost too hard for Budsworth. Higgins brother, a tall lean man with Brown wild hair, dark Brown eyes, and a thin face sauntered up to the pastor. He stared down toward the ground. The pastor stepped away to give room. "Uh... hi I'm Alex Higgins. Otherwise known as little Higgins by David. Umm... my brother was a great man," Alex said, a tear rolled down his cheek leaving a streak on his skin. He quickly wiped it off. "He helped me on multiple occasions, just like he did all of us. When I was in high school I had gotten bullied a lot, but my brother was always there to watch after me. He... he was just a really great man."
"He was just a great man..." Those words circulated Budsworth's mind. He now leaned against a tree at the edge of the graveyard. A bottle of water dangled in his hand. He had heard the words from Alex's mouth about an hour ago. The funeral was just about over. They already took the American flag, folded it up, and handed it to Higgins wife. She stood in front of the coffin, which had already been lowered into the six-foot hole. She shredded tear after tear. "Hey, uh, Mrs. Higgins. I'm so sorry for your loss," Said a man who stepped to her. It was the same man who visited Budsworth at the hospital yesterday. It was his boss, Assistant Director Schneider.
Budsworth stood up from leaning against the tree. He started to head toward Mrs. Higgins. Mr. Schneider look up at him, and gave him a respectful nod. He brushed passed Budsworth. "Good to see you here alive and well," He whispered, giving him a pat on the shoulder before continuing on his way to answer his ringing cell phone.
Budsworth stepped up to Mrs. Higgins. Long brown hair curled on top her head above a bulky pair of glasses over dark brown eyes. She wore a pink rugged dress with red high heel shoes on her feet and long white socks. Long stains from tears stretched down her cheeks.
"Mrs. Higgins, my condolences. I worked with him, he was my partner," Budsworth told her, kneeling down over the grave beside her.
"Where were you when it happened, when they shot him?" She asked, mumbling. Budsworth didn't know wether she really wanted to know, or was accusing him for her husband's death. Neither did he understand what she meant by “They.” Only one guy had shot at them.
"On the floor, bleeding. The same guy who shot him shot me," He explained. Mrs. Higgins nodded, still not giving him a single glance. Instead she had a black stare aimed at the grave. Budsworth sighed, and backed away from the wife of his deceased friend. It didn’t take much to know she blamed him for the death of her husband. He spun around. His boss leaned on the same tree Budsworth had been leaning on before. He had his back to him, holding his cellphone up to his ear. A few other people littered around the grave yard. Sharing stories and condolences, and mourning over the new death.
Budsworth had enough. He needed to do something to try to take his mind off of everything. He stepped out of the graveyard out onto a parking lot outside. Earlier during the funeral service there sat thirteen cars. Now there remained only four. A black Taurus, which belonged to Budsworth. A blue mini Copper, that belonged to Mrs. Higgins. A caramel colored Mercury Mountaineer belonged to Mr. Schneider. The last car was a black Chevy Impala that was owned by Alex.
Budsworth stepped up to his car. Guilt overwhelmed him. Mr. Schneider, his boss, snuck up behind him. “So what’re you going to do now?” He asked, in his hand he held a smoking cigarette. Budsworth turned to look back at him.
“Probably go back home to the apartment, why?” Budsworth answered.
“Well, I was wondering if you’d like to go to the Hunt Town Bar?” Mr. Schneider asked. “We’re off duty, so it’s fine. I have some things I would like to talk to you about anyways. Don’t worry about getting drunk, I have a friend who’ll be coming by to drive us home.” Budsworth nodded an agreement.
“Sure thing, I’ll go,” He answered. It had been almost four years since the last time he’d drank any alcoholic beverage. He had started after his wife died, and he was even almost kicked from college for it. Higgins finally convinced him to stop those four years ago.
“Here, why don't you drop your car off at home. I’ll go get some gas for my SUV, and swing by to pick you up?”
“No thanks, I’ll just drive my own car there. My car will be fine, even if I do drink, I won’t drink much. So I should be fine,” Budsworth answered, opening the front driver’s side door of his car. He plopped down into the driver’s seat behind the steering wheel. “I’ll just meet you there.” Mr. Schneider gave him a nod of acknowledgement. He placed the cigarette back in his mouth before making his way to his Mercury Mountaineer.
Budsworth slammed the door of his car shut. The car rocked from the force of how hard he slammed it. He shoved the car key into the ignition switch, and twisted it. The engine turned over, rumbling. Budsworth took a hard look out the front window of the car at the open grave in the cemetery. Ms. Higgins, now widow, stood still overlooking the grave. Sorrow filling her eyes. Alex Higgins stood beside her with his arm around her. He, too, looked over the filling grave. Budsworth closed his eyes, and gave a deep sigh. He hoped this was all just a dream. Hoping that when he reopened his eyes Higgins would be sitting in the seat next to him. Budsworth opened his eyes again, and glanced at the seat beside him. It wasn’t a dream, the seat still remained depressingly empty.
He made another sigh before putting the car in reverse. He backed the car up out of the graveyard parking lot. Before he sped away he gave one last glance at Higgins grave. Out of the corner of his right eye he had thought he saw a familiar faded figure waving a hand at him. When Budsworth peered in it’s direction no one was there. Where did it go? He wondered, I know I saw it. Who was it? After taking another moment to look in the direction he’d seen the faded figure, he shifted the car into drive, and sped away down the road. Dread swelling up inside him.
~ ~ ~
Hunt Town Bar, New York City, New York
May 23, 7:39 PM
Budsworth pulled into the parking lot of the bar. He yanked out the car key, the engine went quiet. Budsworth stuffed the wad of keys into his pocket, and laid back in the drivers seat. The gleam of the neon sign of the bar reflected off the windshield. It was another night in New York City. Budsworth made a deep exhale, and leaned back in his seat. The night sky remained starless from the lights of the city. City lights lit the dark evening sky with a light-yellow haze. The sunroof of Budsworth’s car rolled open. He laid on the seat staring up into the sky. The moon hovered above him, trapped in the sky. It gleamed full. A white glare from it reflected on the sunroof. Someone in a black suit stepped up to the driver’s side door of Budsworth’s car. They lifted their fist and knocked on the window.
Startled, Budsworth glanced at the door window. Mr. Schneider knelt down, smiling, in front of the window so he could see his face. Budsworth sighed as he reached over and unlocked the doors. He pulled the door handle, and the car door popped open. Schneider grabbed and held the door open for him. “So you ready?” He asked, a slight small smile was stretched across his face, but Budsworth knew that smile was a lie. The reason they came here was to try get their minds off of the departure of his recently deceased partner. Budsworth nodded and arose out of his seat onto the bar parking lot.
The sounds of sirens wailed in the distance. He could smell the dirty scent of heavy traffic pollution. Horns of drivers returning home from work filled the air. Cars was lined up front to back along the four lane highway the parking lot lead out to. “You okay Bud?” Schneider asked, cocking an eyebrow. Budsworth glanced back at him.
“What? Oh yeah, I’m fine,” He answered. Budsworth turned and followed Schneider into the bar. Beyond the front double glass doors was a small cubic room. Another single glass door was on the wall to the right of the room. Decorative wooden textures plastered half way up from the bottom. The wooden texture glossed a dark brown. Budsworth could see a faint reflection of himself in it. Wallpaper of a much lighter shade of brown occupied the top half of the walls. In the center of the wall opposite the double doors, towards the top, hung a old black and white photograph of New York from 1931. In the corner of the small room sat a cushioned chair of a brownish-red color.
Schneider entered through the single glass door. Budsworth followed him into another, much larger, room. The same material still decorated the surrounding walls. Dark brown wood halfway up the wall with light brown wallpaper on the top half. Lined up along the walls of the bar rested booths with windows above them, viewing the busy avenue outside. Around the top frame of the windows was a thick curtain hanging down off the edges.
The bar counter sat up against the left wall. A bartender poured a shot of whiskey for an older man sitting on a stool up against the counter. His tan colored pants and a red dress shirt gave off a very southern vibe about him. On his head rested a white cowboy hat atop long light grey hair. Brown leather boots covered over his white socked feet. The old man glanced over at them. Schneider sat down in the stool next to him. Budsworth also took his seat in a stool beside Schneider. “Well what would you two gentlemen like?” The bartender asked. He had a small narrow head and a mustache with large green eyes. Brown hair grew around a large bald spot on the top of his head. A bright white apron and white dress pants clothed over him.
“We’ll have a double beer shot. One for me and one for my friend here,” Schneider answered. The bartender had a closed smile, and gave a slight nod. He reached down under the counter and grabbed a couple shot glasses.
“I must say, you two are wearing way too much of a fancy getup to only be here for a drink. If I didn't know better I’d say you just got back here from a funeral,” The Bartender explained. Budsworth and Schneider glanced at each other, wondering how he knew. “Oh, please don't worry. You guys aren't the only men to step into my bar after a loved one’s death. Tell me who really was it? A friend? A family member?”
“He was a friend and co-worker of ours,” Budsworth answered. The bartender made another small respectful nod. He reached up onto a shelf of drinks behind him, and pulled down a bottle of beer.
“So where do you guys work?” He asked.
Schneider pulled out his wallet. “Federal Bureau of Investigation,” He answered, flipping open his wallet to reveal his I.D. Card. A picture of him was to the left of the card. While on the right side it read is bold blue letters, “F.B.I.” “I’m Assistant Director Carlos Schneider, this is special agent David Budsworth,” He answered before stuffing his I.D. Back into his pocket. The bartender now had a strange confused look on his face, and maybe a bit of fear too.
“Wow the last time I had the FBI in my bar they where investigating a murder that had occurred next door. That was a long time ago though. I had a full head of hair back then. So what happened to your fellow agent?” He asked.
“He was shot while on the field of duty,” Budsworth answered lowering his head in sorrow. Schneider reached over and gave him a pat on the back.
“He was Budsworth’s partner, so he was really close to him. I brought him here tonight to try and cheer him up the best I can,” Schneider answered. The bartender exhaled and nodded.
“My apologies, a lot of people come here to discuss problems. Would you believe it if I tell you more people tell me about their problems then they do a physiatrist,” He said. The bartender popped the cap off the bottle and poured a small amount into the two shot glasses. Then he reached under and grabbed another shot glass. He placed it on the counter top, and poured himself a shot. “You know what?” He said, “I’m going to let you guys go. All of your drinks are on me.”
“Oh no, we can’t do that…” Before Schneider could continue the Bartender interrupted him.
“No, no, no, it’s my pleasure. It’s not everyday two federal agents walk into a bar. Especially mine,” The bartender said handing his shot glass out in front of Schneider. He grabbed the beer bottle and placed it on the rack behind him. He lifted his shot glass off the counter top. Budsworth and Schneider did so too. “To your loss I give my condolences,” The bartender said, raising his shot up into the air.
“To David Avery Higgins he was a great man,” Schneider said as he tapped the edge of his shot glass with the bartender’s. They both glanced over at Budsworth.
“Yes... to Higgins, my friend and partner in crime,” He sighed lift his shot up to theirs. With a CLANK they lowered their shot glasses, and gulped down the drink. The door into the bar opened. In came a tall African American man. He searched around, and then he saw Schneider. Schneider glanced over his shoulder at him. The man stepped up to them. He was big in both height and buff. His arms where thick of stone strong muscle. The blood veins of his arms popped from his muscles. Hair was absent from his head, replaced by a reflective bald top. With him he carried a small silver briefcase with metal reflective edges on it, just as reflective as his own head. He sat down in the stool next to Schneider.
“You said you wanted to see me?” He asked in a strong deep voice. Budsworth gave him a confused stare. Schneider turned to Budsworth.
“Buds, remember that case I told you about yesterday?” He asked.
“The Colorado one with those missing people? Yeah.” Budsworth answered.
“Well this is Mr. Danes. He specializes as a type of librarian for the unsolved case files of the FBI. Otherwise they are commonly known as the X-files. Yesterday when I returned I got some mysterious information from Mr. Danes here. Mr. Danes, tell agent Bud about your findings will you?” He asked.
Mr. Danes nodded. “Last night while I was in a small room located in the basement of the building. While there I found several case files all relating to Foxvalley, Colorado. I was only able to locate one case that was actually solved.”
“Did you bring the case files by any chance?” Budsworth asked. Mr. Danes nodded, and reached into the small brief case on the floor next to his stool. He used a key he pulled out of his pocket to unlock it. He opened the case, and pulled out four vanilla folders. Three of them had a piece of packaging tape on the front that read in black permanent marker, “X-File: Foxvalley.” The other last one didn't have anything on it, but the words at the top of the folder that read, “Confidential” in red and underlined. He handed the four folders to Budsworth.
Budsworth grabbed the folders from Mr. Dane’s hand, and placed three of them on the counter beside him. In his hand was the oldest one of the four. It was dated 1909, which shocked him. That meant that it was probably one of the first cases the Bureau ever worked on. Inside the folder was a few old style, black and white, photograph. A dated document laid behind the photographs. It was written with cursive hand writing, which Budsworth found difficult to read.
Case file: Foxvalley disappearance 01
Location: Foxvalley, Park County, Colorado
Victims: Marie Haylin; female; child:7(Vanished), Carl Haylin; male; child:9(Vanished)
Agent on the case: Agent Samuel P. Gotland, Agent Jake A. Arnold
Agent reports: Two children disappeared on date October 11th, 1909. They were brother and sister, Marie Haylin(7) and Carl Haylin(9). The sheriff of the town had no clue as to their whereabouts and neither did their parents. At the crime scene a track of some kind of a giant dog had been found with candle wax in the center of it. We spent weeks trying to find the children. They were finally found October 21st, 1909, dead in the dumpster of a cabin hidden in the woods. The culprit was never found, and we believe he may had left for another city. Please alert all police officials to a vicious child killer on the loose. The case still remains open...
Behind the paper remained two more pages which contained information of the children who had gone missing. Budsworth closed the folder, and set it off to the side of all the others. He grabbed the second one, dated 1932, not all that long before the 2nd World War. He opened the folder to more black and white photographs. These ones where better quality, and a lot easier to see what they were. On the first photograph there was a man in a black coat overlooking a body with a white cloak covering it. On the shoulder of the man’s coat, glowing in white letters, FBI. On the stomach area of the cloaked body a pool of blood seeped through the fabric. The document remained much similar to the last one, but instead having a date of January 29th, 1932. The victims were instead two teenagers, a 15-year-old and 17-year-old. The two were found dead in that same dumpster the Haylin kids where found in. This crime had also gone unsolved. After two weeks the FBI quit searching again.
Budsworth closed his second folder, and placed it on top the last case file. He Glared at Schneider. “Did you just take me to a bar so you can talk me into going or what?” Budsworth asked.
"This was just too simply speak with you about it. It’s a missing persons case. You’re one of the most known agents in the bureau for your ability to solve missing persons cases. Even if you don't do this assignment, I want you to take a vacation from work. After all you've been through, you should use a break. So what do you say?" Schneider proposed. Busworth relaxed back in his bar stool. He opened one of the folders again. Flipping through the several papers, he made up his mind.
Busworth set aside the files. "Alright, I'll do it," he answered, "it's not like I really have much more to do," Busworth said, placing a five dollar bill to on counter top for the bartender. He stepped out of the bar, up to his car. When he had gotten in his seat he looked around. Then he popped open the glove box. When his hand retracted he held a cigarette box. Busworth popped open the top, and grabbed onto the butt of one of the cigarettes and dragged it out.
He stored the pack away in his back pocket, and replace it with a lighter out of his front pocket. He lifted the lighter up to his cigarette, and flipped the switch. A flame erupted from the lighter onto the cigarette, protruding from his mouth. The window rolled down, as he pressed the button on the driver’s door. Budsworth reached his arm out of the door, cigarette in hand. He tapped on the end, forcing flakes of tiny embers to float away in the wind.
CHAPTER 3-POLICE TAPE
May 27, 4:28 P.M.
Budsworth had been on the road for three days now. Going on almost non-stop. Of corse he stopped a few times to go through the drive-thru of some cheap fast food restaurant and to sleep in cheap junkie motels. He started his drive after he awoke three days ago. It was the day right after he had gone to the Hunt Town Bar with his boss, Assistant Director Schneider. That night he returned back home, and packed a few things for the 1,800 mile trip. Which turned out to be only a few clothes for him to where for a couple days. Schneider did want him to take a vacation after all.
He stopped, first off, in Pennsylvania to stay the night in a crappy small Budget Inn outside a small town called Frankfort. It had a terribly small population of 800 people. Though the residents said that the sign was false, and the town population was actually lower, around 500 residents. It really surprised Budsworth to even find that little crap hotel there on the edges of Pennsylvania. According to the hotel owner they were always getting customers who stepped in wondering why it was in the middle of nowhere. Even though the town was tiny it sat alongside a popular road. So it even had a few things to offer most other small towns didn't have.
Some of these places had gas stations, and libraries, and even a theater. On the outskirts of the small town was a casino that got booming business. Even though it was closer to Frankfort, another small town in the nearby state of Ohio got all the business from it. That small town was Millington, Ohio. It was bigger than Frankfort, but not as peaceful. Since most people where there for the casino the town had a lot of crime. That explains the reason it had a bigger police force than some bigger cities such as Fort Wayne, Indiana and Columbus, Ohio.
After a few hundred more miles Budsworth made another small stop in another anonymous small town. Since he lived in the big city Budsworth never really got the see the quiet side of towns. He also wanted to get used to how these small communities would be. Foxvalley was a very small mountain town in Colorado with a population around 1,500 citizens.
He stopped in Illinois, in a small town on the edge of the wide Mississippi River. It stood about a mile wide. Well it at least felt like a mile. He knew it wasn't though, of course. Sometimes he had wished he'd brought a camera along with him for the ride. He spent a few hours sitting on a bench along the river. Listening the cool rushing waters as they slap the cliffs of the shore. A great bridge stood overhead. It was a color of rusty white.
He had stayed the night in that town. A nearby busy road still kept him from too much sleep. His apartment back at home was at a high level, so the noise of traffic on the road below remained audible, but not this loud. The next morning he had made his next great escape into the wild. The greenness of the grass began to dissipate. Turning from a bright green to a yellow color. The ground began to take a shape as Budsworth passed into the land of Kansas. The cornfields looked mighty different from those he's seen elsewhere. They where like tall grass covered hills that rolled over miles of high land.
The land began to become infected with mounts of incredible size. Some seemed to scratch the sky with Rocky tips. Budsworth passed the Colorado sign about seven o'clock the latest night. He settled on a hotel in an eastern Colorado town. This one, unlike the others, wasn't all that special. It was to the side of a popular interstate highway. The highway led only a few more hundred miles into Denver, Colorado. He was about, maybe, a five hour drive from Foxvalley. Maybe more, maybe less. That night he decided to go to a bowling alley there in town. If Budsworth were to stay within the same town for the night, he figured he might as well do something about it. That night he went to bed around 1:25 in the morning.
Due to a lack of sleep, Budsworth had slept in through the morning. His eyes awoke to the piercing daylight. It was 12:18, just about an hour after checkout time. "Dammit, " he cursed under his breath. He packed few things he had brought in last night. He’d forgotten to set the alarm clock to the side of the bed last night, mostly because he was mentally drained. Budsworth returned back onto the road in no less than twenty minutes later. He traveled down a little known road to the north of Canon City, Colorado. He drove down state road 9. Mountainous Forest was on both sides the road. Budsworth finally passed a green town welcome sign. It read in white letters,
Welcome to Foxvalley
The true American dream town
the bottom of the sign where it told the population was gone, missing. The sign had large pointed jagged pieces where the rest of the sign used to be. It gave Budsworth a sense of false security, but he continued to drive by. Just ignoring the missing part of the sign. The silver legs at which it hung on, stood strong, stabbing into the ground. Red paint stained one of the legs. Or was it really paint?
Budsworth drove his car down the streets of the small peaceful town. It could’ve of been any more serene, in fact it might’ve been a little too serene. He drove past a playground for children. In the middle of the sand box, is where all the children's equipment existed. A few feet off stood the slide, crowded by its lonesome. A merry-go-round stood, almost motionless. The wind occasionally pushing it slowly. Two children swing sets stood behind it. Wind blowing frequently with the sound of a creak broke the silence. The playground was the completely dead. One of the last thing he'd expected. Normally kids loved playgrounds like this, today was a Saturday so they were out of school and could if they wanted to, but not a single kid dwindled in the sandbox.
In the center of the town was a large two-story, red bricked building. A black tiled roof hung from the top of the building. It was supported by four thick marble white pillars. A row of wooden benches pushed up against the front wall. Large wooden light brown double doors guarded in the center of the building's front wall. To the side of the double doors stood a rusted dark brown plaque that read, "Foxvalley Town centre." Along both the bottom and top floors of the building sat several black framed windows. Two chimneys stabbed through the roof at opposite sides of each other. They were made of dark red brick, the same color as the rest of the building.
Budsworth couldn’t to see inside. Instead, behind all the windows hung white curtains. A large sign stood outside the building. It had the same thing written on it as the plaque behind it did, "Foxvalley Town Centre." A wide sidewalk led from the road sidewalk up to the stair case, leading up to the building. Surrounding the town centre laid a large courtyard that stretched out around the building. A old bronze cannon stood to the side off the court courtyard in the corner.
Around the courtyard a street entrapped it into a small square. On the outer side of this street stood many more buildings along it. On the north side, next to the road, rotted an old run down bookstore. Beside it stood a friendly looking B&B. It looked in better shape than most hotels he spent the night in previously. A cross-section lead to a large group of houses across state road 9. To the west of the street, behind the town centre, stood a clinic along with a pizza shop on the county line. Hints the reason it had been called, "Pizza between the park and Fremont." To the south of the town centre was the Sheriff's station and fire department, which were connected together by a back cement room, most likely a hallway of some sorts.
Budsworth pulled into the parking lot of the Sheriff's station. A large copper bell stood out between the parking lots directly in front of the building. It looked very similar to the liberty bell, except it was missing the large crack in it. It stood upon a square of stone. The sheriff's office itself looked not at all fancy. As just about everything else in this town, it was worn down. The building looked as if it used to be an old apartment building at some point. It had multiple floors. Only three remained noticeable from the outside. It had three windows on each floor of the wall facing the street. The bottom floor windows appeared larger than those on higher floors.
Budsworth stepped up to the glass entrance door to the station. The door had a white drawing of a sheriff's badge. Under it in large white bold letters it read, "Foxvalley Police station.” The wide window to the left of the front glass door had the same picture and words printed on it. Budsworth open the glass door to a hallway inside. Even the hallway gave it a very old apartment nostalgic look. It almost made it look charming. Striped yellow and vanilla wallpaper plastered along the hallway walls. An old dusted group of old metal rusted mail boxes hung from the wall off to the side. Further down the hall stood dark brown wooden doors on both sides of the walls, guarding the way into rooms. The nearest door to the entrance had a wide glass window placed in the top center. It was fogged up, and tough to see though. On the window in white letters it said, “Sheriff Andrew H. A. Henderson.” Budsworth knocked hard on the door.
“Come on in,” a voice summoned him from inside. Budsworth creaked open the door. The sheriff sat on a large black wooden desk inside. His head, occupied, in a newspaper that read, “Foxvalley Gazette.”. Smoke arose from behind it. His boots rested up on the desk next to a stack of neatly placed papers. “Sheriff Henderson?” Budsworth asked, as he pushed open the door. The newspaper folded up as a man peeked at the door in curiosity. Short black hair lifted a few inches from the top of his head. A thick cigar erected out from his mouth, displaying a quite terrible smell. The man pulled the cigar from out his mouth, and stuffed it into an ashtray in the corner of his desk. He flopped the newspaper down on top of the neatly stacked paper. He lowered his legs from the desk and stood up. HIs round barrel chest sat atop two long, strong, sturdy legs. His eyes shined a bright green. The man’s police uniform, colored light brown, looked like something out of an old 60s TV show. On to right side of his chest was a golden star shaped badge. It read around the corners on both the top and bottom, “Foxvalley Police, Sheriff.” He stepped up to Henderson and held out his hand. “You must be that FBI agent I called for, right?” He asked with a serious strait face.
Budsworth nodded, taking the sheriff’s hand in his and giving it a good shake. “Yeah, FBI agent David Budsworth,” He answered, flashing his FBI badge at him, and slipping it back into his pocket. The sheriff gave as much of a smile as he could. Which wasn't much. Then he beckoned Budsworth to take a seat in a chair across from his leather chair in the desk.
“So what have you gotten thus far on the case?” Budsworth asked, taking his seat in the comfortable cushioned chair.
“Not much,” Sheriff Henderson admitted, in a depressing manner.
“How about clues, or evidence?” Budsworth asked. The sheriff gave him a nod, and stood from his chair. He stepped up to a filing desk in the corner of the room, and came back with a vanilla folder in his hand. Henderson opened it, and tossed it onto his desk in front of Budsworth. He returned to his leather chair and sat back down in it..
“Yes, we found some blood on the road at the crime scene. We sent it to the clinic to see if they can compare the DNA to Mr. Johnson or Deputy Mills,” Henderson explained, “We also found a horse thigh out there too.”
“A horse thigh?”
“Yep, I guess the creep we’re after goes after both humans and animals,” The sheriff said, handing Budsworth a couple photographs. One was of the bloody horse thigh lying in the mud. What in the world could do that? Budsworth wondered. The other photograph was of a puddle of blood covering a patch of gravel. Most likely the driveway. To the side of the puddle laid a pistol, the handle was bloodied. Four streaks stretched along the handle, as if someone tried to grab it while it they where bleeding out. “We also… huh… we found this. We really don't know what to think of it,” Henderson told him, while handing another photograph to Budsworth. The next photo had what appeared to be the paw print of some animal. It was anything, but normal. Whoever took the photo had put a foot-long ruler in the center of the print. It was five times the size of the ruler across. Budsworth placed the photographs back down on the sheriff’s desk.
“You know, some killers draw their inspiration of stories and legends. Some even get it from video games. Most likely our killer has some sort of obsession with animals. I’d like to go out there, and take a look at what’s going on,” Budsworth told him. The sheriff nodded in acknowledgement.
“So are you saying our sub could be into Zoophilia?” Henderson stood from his seat and opened a drawer in his desk. Out he pulled a revolver, and gently placed it into a holster on his belt.
“Highly unlikely, unless he’s into dead ones. Typically, those into Zoophilia would be less likely to kill off over animals. On most circumstances they’d kidnap them. I’d even believe the possibility that it could be an Animals Rights group trying to scare the public, taking things too far, but they would be even less likely to kill farm animals, let alone horses. It’s just bizarre,” Budsworth answered, as he followed him out into the hallway. One of the deputies walked by. He stopped when he saw Henderson.
“Henderson!” He called from behind. Budsworth turned and locked eyes on him. “Where you going?” He asked.
“I’m going to take Agent Budsworth here to the crime scene, Deputy Gregory,” Henderson answered. The man approached them. His think blonde hair added a whole new layer to the top of his head. The cubby stomach gave away he had probably eaten way too much doughnuts during his time on the force.
“Oh, so you’re that FBI agent we called, like what? A week ago, huh?” He asked. Budsworth nodded. “I wonder what took you so long. The Bureau slippin’?” Gregory asked, a hostility burning in his voice. “You know life doesn't only take place in Washington. I know what you big city dicks think of our little towns. You think it’s a small waste of land and property,” He growled, crossing his arms.
“I’m not from Washington, I’m from the New York field office.” Budsworth answered.
“Well why did they send an agent from New York City and not Denver.
Denver has a field office, don’t it?”
“Okay Greg, that's enough. I called the FBI because I need their help,” Henderson confronted him.
“Well, they sure as Hell don't think you need any. Otherwise they would've arrived sooner, and they would’ve sent two agents instead of one,”
“Gregory, STOP!” Henderson ordered, “Unless you want to be relived from this case I would keep my opinions to myself,” Gregory lowered his head. He turned and stomped down the hall muttering insults under his breath. Henderson sighed, he looked back at Budsworth. “My apologies, Agent. Gregory was good friends with Deputy Mills,” He explained. Budsworth felt a pang of remorse. He knew how it felt to loose a friend and fellow partner. He followed Henderson outside onto he parking lot. Henderson explained the car at the end of the parking lot belonged to him. Your normal, standard small town patrol car, except in bold brown letters it read, “Sheriff.” Budsworth stepped up to his car, sitting on the parking lot directly in front of the Sheriff’s department behind the bell.
Budsworth watched as Sheriff Henderson backed his patrol car out onto the street behind him. The patrol car’s engine roared as it sped onto State Road 9, and disappeared beyond the corner wall of the town centre. Budsworth followed close behind, not aware of what he might find. He only hoped he could get some better leads than the ones they already got.
The road lead out into the far corner of town and further. The houses and streets soon turned to fields and forests. Massive sized mountains scratched the clouds of the sky on both sides of the town. A small pull off laid to the side of the road, providing a nice view of the valley. The road continued until it split off onto another, much skinnier, gravel road. Budsworth followed the sheriff. Dust spewed out from behind his car as the tires crunched over the gravel. The sheriff’s patrol car came to a rolling stop in front of a yellow police tape. “CAUTION, CRIME SCENE” it repeated in black bold print. Budsworth opened his drivers side door, and stood up out of the car. The car door of the sheriffs patrol car slammed shut, as Henderson closed it behind him.
Budsworth closed his door more steadily. His eyes wide, filled with shock and confusion. The farm looked a hideous mess. A splotch of dried red blood marked the gravel next to the dense forest. A pistol laid beside it with blood stains across the handle. Same as the photo, but the photos he’d seen showed nothing compared to all this. In the house wall stood a massive hole, the wall missing, replaced by the jagged, sharp pieces of wood that remained. A truck laid inside the living room of the house, tipped over on its side. The couch against the living room wall had a stain of dark scarlet red covering the cushion. A couple trees leveled over the gravel road ahead of them, leading to the animal pens.
“So how many people knew Johnson?” Budsworth asked.
“Pretty much everyone in town. Agent Budsworth, I know you live in a big city, but if there’s one thing you need to know, it’s that in a small town like this everybody knows everyone,” Henderson answered. They pulled the police tape over their heads and stepped into the crime scene.
“Do you know anyone who’d want something bad to happen to Johnson?”
“It was normally only his wife who complained about him. He was generally a nice guy.”
“Where’s his wife?”
“No one knows, but she couldn't have killed him. Sure she might’ve hated his guns, but that was her only problem with him. She hated violence. Maybe that’s the reason we can’t find her. She got mad and left the house before she would do anything she’d regret.”
“I still can’t rule anyone out yet,” Budsworth informed. Henderson turned his head away with a worried look. They stepped up to the bloodied pistol. Budsworth pulled a couple latex gloves out of a pocket in his suit. Then he strapped the gloves on to his hands with a SNAP! Budsworth bent down next to the puddle of blood. “You said you sent some of this blood to the clinic, right?” He asked. Henderson nodded, watching him from behind. Budsworth pulled a plastic bag out of his suit, and picked up the pistol between two gloved fingers.
“What are you doing?” The Sheriff asked, curiously. Budsworth plopped the pistol into the plastic bag, then zipped it up.
Then he glanced back as Henderson hoping over him. “Evidence,” he answered, standing back up.
“But that pistol belonged to Mills,” The sheriff informed him.
“Well someone might have took his gun, and shot him. Sure, it might have been on him, but we need to make sure. As I said, I'm not ruling anything out yet,” Budsworth explained. Henderson gave him another worried glance. Budsworth just shrugged it off, and headed for the house. “Does anyone know how this happened?” He asked, pointing at the hole in the wall.
“Well, kind of. We got Alexander Gale out here to look at it a few days ago. He's the town mechanic. He told us the brakes in the truck were out,” Henderson answered, “At fist we thought Johnson must've lost the brakes while making an escape, but we found proof in his little garage that the brakes were broken before then.” Budsworth stepped up to the holed wall. Glass crunched under his shoes as he continued to step up into the house. Budsworth trudged to the tipped-over truck. Glass shards flooded the floor from the truck’s shattered windshield. Glass surrounded the living room, all over the floor, through the leather seats of the truck, and stabbing into the walls.
Crusted blood painted around a whole in the leather diver’s seat of the truck. Most likely a piece of glass had grazed Henry Johnson’s leg, it tore the skin, nailing into the leather of the seat beside his bleeding leg. Even worse case scenario the glass went through his leg, but that would be less likely. The glass would become nailed to his legs, and couldn’t get to the leather to puncture a whole in it. What about his hand? What if the glass sliced through his hand and stabbed into the seat, or would that’d also be unlikely because of the amount of bones in the human hand. “Found anything?” Henderson asked, coming up behind him.
“Johnson must’ve been driving his truck, realized the brakes were gone. So to stop the truck he tried to get it caught on the edge of the house, but his attempted failed. The truck slammed into he house, tipped over on it’s side. The windshield shattered, and cut Johnson’s leg,” Budsworth pieced together. Then he looked at the hole in the back window, the hole was guarded in sharp jagged glass. A number of which was tipped with red. “Then he smashed through the back window, and climbed out, cutting himself in the process.”
“Yeah, we kinda got that. Why would he drive the truck that he’s been repairing. It doesn’t makes sense, he had to have known it wasn’t working right. I just don’t get it,” Henderson crossed his arms, and rolled his eyes.
“Maybe he saw something. Maybe he knew what was going to happen,” Budsworth stepped around the back of the truck toward the couch with the blood covered cushion.
“After he got cut, he sat down here. His leg was pumping out blood, he was in need of a First Aid Kit. Most American family keep their First Aid Kits in the bathroom,” Budsworth turned to Henderson. “Who else was it here with him that night?”
“His son, Markus Johnson,” Henderson answered. Budsworth nodded, and squeezed through a tight spot between the truck bin and living room wall up to the staircase, leading into the darkness upstairs. He glanced up at the top floor.
“What’s up there?” Budsworth asked Henderson.
“The bedrooms and a restroom,” Henderson answered, “Why?”
“Because, I have to go to the bathroom,” Budsworth answered. He flipped the switched, but nothing occurred. “Did Henry pay is electric bills?” He asked as climbed up the creaking stair case, one step at a time.
“Something tore down the electric lines that night,” Henderson answered.
“What could’ve cut the electrical wires,” Budsworth mumbled under his breath. Upstairs, all doors on the top floor were wide open. “Sheriff, did any of your men search up here?”
“Yeah, a few,” Henderson answered from downstairs. Budsworth made a disappointing sigh. More work for him. He wondered through the open door to the right at the top of the stairs, painted lime green. The lime green bathroom hidden from behind the closed lime green door. Many objects, such as the toilet, sink, and even the shower were green to match the lime green color of the walls. A mirror hung on the wall above a sink. Stains of water painted the bowl around the drain of the sink. A towel laid sprawled across the floor of the bathroom in front of the shower.
Budsworth crouched down to have a better look. He lifted up a corner of the towel and rolled his finger over the fabric. Dried and crisp, as if someone used it but never washed it. The sound of the stairs creaking alerted Budsworth. The sheriff stumbled up onto the top floor of the house. He leaned against the doorway. His hands were buried in his caramel colored khakis. “What’s with the towel?” He asked, lifting his head off the doorway to stare blankly at the it.
“The towel was used at some point. Unless Johnson was a slob, he was in a hurry.” Budsworth guessed, standing from the towel, laying on the floor. They stepped back out into the hallway outside the restroom. A portrait in the hallway hung slanted to the right. The glass of the frame had been shattered at some point, glistening in pieces across the floor. Not like enough glass flooded the property already. Budsworth stepped through the glass up to the portrait, and tipped it back in place. “Did one of your officers do this?” Budsworth asked. Sheriff Henderson, standing behind him, shook his head. Budsworth look back at the portrait. “If Johnson was in a hurry, to go somewhere, anywhere. Why in the world would he go this way?”
“Maybe it was his son. Supposedly, his son was here to go hunt down some coyotes hiding in the woods,” Henderson pointed out. Budsworth glanced back at Henderson.
“So I take it they have hunting rifles then.”
“Anywhere you wasn't unable to access?”
The sheriff nodded, “Downstairs there’s a door in the kitchen. We believe it leads to the basement. The door’s locked, so we didn't go down there because we didn't know if his wife would want a warrant if she found out,” Henderson explained. Budsworth nodded and hurried back downstairs into the living room below. He stepped through an arch way into the kitchen. A door stood in the middle of the wall where the stairs stood on the other side stood. Budsworth stopped in front of the door and wiggled the handle. Indeed, it was locked.
After a few short seconds Sheriff Henderson stepped into the room with him. Budsworth backed up a few paces, about ready to kick. “Woah,” Henderson stopped him, “Don't we need a warrant for that?”
Budsworth only glared at him, and grumbled, “I am the warrant.” Then he smashed foot into the door, and it slammed backwards into the wall behind it. Now a massive dent was bent into the wood of the door. Budsworth took out his LED flashlight, and shined it down a dark staircase that lead downstairs to the basement. “Besides, the house belongs to the victim doesn’t it?” He asked. Darkness filled the room, surrounding the beam of light protruding from Budsworth’s flashlight. Not even a nocturnal raccoon could navigate through that much darkness. Budsworth slowly began to make steps down the cement stair case. He shined his flashlight around the room. In the corner of the room stood an open gun safe.
Sheriff Henderson followed carefully behind, ducking his head under a thick pipe. Budsworth stepped down onto the basement floor. A light switch hung from a the ceiling. It swung mildly. Budsworth glared up at the light, as he flipped a switch implanted into the wall beside the staircase. The light flickered on, along with the sound of an air conditioner running through a few vents. Budsworth put his flashlight away, and stepped up to the arsenal of hunting rifles. There weren't only hunting rifles filing the gun safe. Pistols, shotguns, ammunition, a couple grenades even, and a collection of a bazillion survival knives flooded just about every corner of the gun safe.
The sheriff joined Budsworth up by the arsenal of firearms. “God damn,” he said, “It just about looks like he was ready for an all out war. Do you think Johnson knew this was going to happen?”
“I’m not sure, but I going to find out,” Budsworth promised. The sound of walking came from upstairs. Budsworth pulled out his pistol. “Someone's upstairs,” he announced. Sheriff Henderson pulled a shotgun from the arsenal. They fled upstairs.
Budsworth rushed through the open door and aimed his pistol into the living room. His eyes widened, and he slowly lowered his pistol. A woman in dirty old clothes stood in the living room, she cried in front of the stain of blood covering the couch cushion. Tears gushed from her eyes. Budsworth could hardly see her face to place her, all he could see was her curled, dirty blonde hair. Sheriff Henderson busted into the living room behind Budsworth and stared at the women. “Charlene Johnson?” He asked, shocked. She look up at him. Makeup strung down her cheeks as she cried.
“You mean Johnson’s wife?” Budsworth asked.
“Yep,” He answered...