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   Chapter 49 No.49

My Sister's Keeper By Bill Benners Characters: 6464

Updated: 2018-05-28 11:26


DETECTIVE SAM JONES and his partner Crabby Staten stepped from their car and were met by a pudgy fifty-year-old with a two-day beard and a jaw full of chewing tobacco.

"We jus' put this asphalt down Monday, " the man slurred in a deep southern drawl. "And a piece of it caved in t'day when somebody drove over it. We figur'd we had us a water leak, but when we dug in, this is what we found."

The two detectives stepped to the edge of a hole that had been cut into the asphalt, looked down, and saw the crown of a man's head exposed in the bottom. A wisp of water misting behind it washed a trench around the body.

"Anybody missing on your crew?" Sam asked the man.

"Nope."

"Where's the cutoff to that water line?"

"Got no idea. We jus' do the paving."

Sam pulled the tail of his long coat up around his waist, stepped into the hole, slipped on the wet clay, and stumbled down to the body. Regaining his footing, he snatched a ball-point pen from his breast pocket, bent over the exposed head, and dug the dirt back from the man's face. Dark complexion. Thin mustache. Mexican?

Sam scaled back up the slope and—with the help of the foreman's beefy hand—climbed out. "Notice anything unusual around here the last few days?"

The man spit a stream of tobacco juice toward the curb and adjusted the wad in his cheek. "One of the guys said somebody'd messed with his backhoe over the weekend."

"Where is it?"

"That's it down yonder." He indicated a machine parked two blocks away.

"And the man that runs it?"

He pointed to a crewman propped nearby with his arms folded across his chest. He wore dark wraparound sunglasses under a Caterpillar baseball cap, and his hair was pulled back in a three-inch ponytail. "Thanks, " Sam replied, stamping the mud off his shoes as he walked toward the backhoe operator. While Sam took a look at the machine, a public works superintendent showed up, studied a survey m

he local antenna and flipped through the Wilmington stations. Everything seemed to be working perfectly. Plan the work. Work the plan.

As he checked items off his list, the TV station interrupted its scheduled program with a news bulletin. "Twenty-three-year-old Ashleigh Matthews has been found alive and well." Scott's eyes shifted to the TV. "She was spotted this morning at Duke Medical Center in Durham where, according to eye-witnesses, she was seated in a hospital waiting room when photos of her were aired on television. Recognized by others in the waiting room, she fled the hospital." While the reporter interviewed an elderly woman who said that Ashleigh seemed alert and aware of what was going on around her, they showed still shots recorded by hospital security cameras of Ashleigh as she fled. "Anyone with any information as to the whereabouts of Ashleigh Matthews is asked to contact the Wilmington Police Department."

Spreading a nautical chart on a table, he used a pushpin to mark the location of a farm on the south side of the Cape Fear River and dropped a key on the pin. He then wrote a note telling Tiffany to take the boat to the location marked by the pin, to transfer the boxes she'd find in the barn to the boat, and that he'd meet her there after dark.

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