Minot: Chapter 15
Death Among The Dead
SO THERE IS something wrong. Damien didn't need to hide that anymore.
At the station the next day Kincaid was not there. Damien found out from Hawthorne that Bowen had told him to take some time off. He didn't like the sound of that at all. Nevertheless, it seemed maybe the lieutenant could use the break; Damien backed off from the station and went back to the motel.
Everything appeared to settle down at the Falcon's Nest through Friday; everyone in the apartments was wondering if maybe there really wasn't anything to find. Maybe animals had been as far as whoever it was was willing to go.
But Damien couldn't get July's story out of his head. If this truly was Four P, then they wouldn't stop at just animals. Far from it.
But what if it isn't Four P? She could have been lying....
But why? Just to have some fun?
It struck him--maybe July had been with Mitch. Maybe they were in cahoots with one another. Maybe--
But he was just getting paranoid. He sighed and shrugged it off.
It was well into Saturday when he remembered one mystery none of them had so far been able to solve--just where Bowen went at night. He sat up on the bed from a half-doze and glanced at his uncle, who was writing a letter home, in case they ended up staying much longer.
"Hey, Unc, I just remembered something. Y'know how Bowen always disappears every Saturday night?"
"Yes, I do. I wonder who he'll leave in charge of the station without Kincaid there."
"Well, yeah, but that's not it.... I think I'll stop over there and check out when he leaves. Follow him and see where he ends up."
Father Damien looked up at him, and set the letter down. "Damien, if you're as distrustful of Bowen as you seem to be, and if your fears were founded, don't you think you'd be in a pretty sticky situation if he discovered you?"
Damien offered a crooked smile. "C'mon, Uncle. It's not like I haven't been in any sticky situations before."
"I happen to believe this could be the stickiest yet."
"Nothing I can't take care of. He's already screamed in my face about a dozen times anyway."
"I'm not talking about screaming here, Dami."
"True. But in a jam I might be able to run."
Father Damien sighed. Once his nephew's mind was made up, there was next to nothing he could do to change it. "You do whatever you think's best pertaining to this case, Dami. Other than that you watch yourself."
The singer stood up and stretched. "It's not myself that needs the watching," he reminded his uncle, then grabbed his jacket and left.
The phone in Psyche's apartment rang. She picked it up on the second ring and tried to hold it while folding a shirt. "Hello?"
"Hi, Psyche, it's me. You up to anything tonight?"
Jenner. She smiled when she heard his voice. "Not really, just this terrible headache."
"Oh, that's bad. What happened?"
"I just got this nosebleed day before yesterday. Must be the dry air. It's not so bad now."
"Listen, if it's not so bad, what would you say about joining me for dinner tonight?"
She paused. "At Falcon's?"
A laugh. "No, my place. Really. I'm a wonderful cook."
She smiled again. "Well...all right. Since you're such a wonderful cook." She paused again. "By the way, how's Kincaid doing?"
"Oh. Kincaid." He sounded somewhat subdued. "He's taking the day off. I heard he had a little incident Thursday, too."
She nearly felt her heart stop. "Incident?"
"Yeah, no one's talking very much about it, it seems. I think he and Bowen got into some kind of argument. Something about the case."
You don't believe me! For some reason her better judgement told her not to press it. "Oh. That's too bad. I hope he's doing better later."
"Yeah, the weekend off should help him out. I've been thinking he needs some time off. Especially from this case. So. You game?"
"I guess so. When?"
"My shift ends in a couple hours. How about nine?"
"That's good. I'll be waiting."
He signed off and hung up. She sat with the phone in her hand, a strange feeling of foreboding creeping up in her chest. She attempted to shake it off. Maybe dinner with Jenner would make her forget it.
After he pulled in he stuck his head in the door, glancing around. Bowen's door was open; so the chief must still be in. He headed back toward his car, looking at his watch. In about an hour it would be getting dark out, and he remembered Ace's testimony that he and Mitch--and whoever else that happened to be with them--would meet when it was dark. He returned to his car and parked it around in the back--away from the squad cars--so no one would be able to see him unless they should stray behind the building, for what reasons he didn't know. Then he sat, and waited.
An hour or two passed. Damien felt the time dragging out and was ready to fall asleep when a low growl brought him back. He looked out the window. Lights hit the drive, and a car pulled out and away from the station, vanishing down the street.
He had no way of knowing who that was. He started to fire up the engine when he heard a door slam, and his hand froze on the ignition. A moment later another car pulled out and drove away. He frowned and thought.
One was going one way, the other the other way. Which one should he follow?
He sighed with frustration and closed his eyes briefly. He was getting ready to choose eeny-meeny-miny-mo when the car phone rang. Startled, he picked it up before it could do so again.
"Hello?" he asked, stupidly.
"Hi Dami, it's Psyche. Just wanted you to know Officer Jenner's picking me up for dinner at his place. He should be leaving the station any time now."
"Oh. Okay, Psych. Thanks." He hung up, stared out at the driveway--and made his choice.
He decided to follow the first car. He looked at his watch again; it was just after eight-thirty. He started up the engine and pulled out, driving off in the direction the first car had gone.
Damien didn't believe much in psychic powers, and he wasn't big on intuition either unless it was his own; yet he felt he'd made the right choice, following the car further away from the station. It was driving in an unfamiliar direction, whereas the other had been headed in the direction of the motel, among other places; he decided to assume that was Jenner. Why would Jenner head off in another direction anyway?
The car ahead slowed down, its brakelights flashing. Damien followed suit; he didn't want to follow too close behind. The car turned left and parked near a tall gate. Damien frowned, driving past and pulling off the road a good distance ahead, behind a stand of trees. When he turned back the car's lights were off.
Taking a breath, he softly got out and jogged down the street toward the other car.
He didn't see why Bowen would be interested in parking here; all he could see was that tall wrought-iron fence, with trees and some other shapes in a large open space beyond. There was no moon out so it was too dark to tell what they were--yet for some reason they looked vaguely familiar to him--
When he reached the car, ducking to avoid detection, and saw the sign in the fence, he realized just why the place seemed so familiar, and felt his stomach twist.
A cemetery! What the heck's he doing in a cemetery! Those thoughts and more rushed through his head. Something was not right here. If the cemetery was where Bowen went every Saturday night--well, what did that mean?
Was he digging up bodies? Damien couldn't picture the chief of police doing such a grisly thing; yet that was the only thing he could think of, and the longer he thought about it the more possible it became to him.
He had to find out!
He crept through the gate, keeping his head low. He couldn't tell which way Bowen had gone; there were no lights anywhere. Maybe he had better night vision than Damien did. Was that a person over there? Damien ducked behind a headstone and waited a second, then started jogging, doglike, across the cemetery. Maybe if he got to the other side, where there were fewer trees, he'd be able to make out--
A hand grabbed his shoulder. "ARRAWWWW!!" Damien screeched. He could literally feel his hair turning white. He was whirled around and a flashlight shone in his face. It took him a half second to make out Chief Bowen's face staring at him, the eyes burning and furious. The light made him look just like Satan.
"What the hell are you doing here?" he shouted. He let go of Damien's shoulder and pushed him roughly in the chest. Damien staggered back several steps. "What do you think you're doing following me?"
"I--I--I--" That was all he could get out. He knew he wouldn't be able to run should he truly want to--for he truly wanted to right now, yet his legs weren't moving an inch.
"I saw your car following me, damn it! You think I'm blind or something? I was a detective once too, you know!"
"I--I--" He nearly bit his tongue trying to force the words out. "I--was--only--wondering--what you do--Saturday nights--you're--always gone--"
"Of course I am, damn it!" He whirled the flashlight so that it shone on one of the headstones. "You ever stop to think why?"
Damien's eyes followed the beam. It had landed across an engraved headstone with a cross on top. Damien felt his heart slowing as he read the name upon the stone: MARK HALSEY KINCAID.
He felt his body go numb. "That's why you're gone every Saturday night?" he asked, his voice soft and dazed. "You come out here?"
"Yes, I do!" Bowen snapped back. He turned the flashlight so Damien didn't have to stare at the tombstone anymore. "You think I ever get any other time to come out here? You think Kinnie comes out here very often? If you do then you need to sit down and think a little longer."
"So you mean--all this time--all these Saturdays--you've been out here? Visiting this grave?"
Bowen bristled. "Listen, it's not just a grave to me. Or to Kincaid. Though it may as well be, to him, with how often he visits it. I'm the only one who bothers to show up anymore. See those flowers? I put those there. I always do. Every damn week. 'Cause no one else cares to."
Damien felt a pang. There was a certain grave he visited regularly, too, back in Cheboygan, a grave no one else bothered placing flowers on. For a moment he knew exactly how Bowen felt.
For a moment.
"Then why all the secrecy?" he demanded, finding his voice. "Why didn't you ever tell anybody this is where you've been?"
Bowen groaned and flung up his arms. "For God's sake, how d'you think everybody'd take that? Chief Bowen, Cemetery Walker! Most people don't visit places like this regularly, you know. And you also know what a title like that might do to my reputation, in a town like this."
That made perfect sense. Just hanging out at the Falcon's Nest too much could, in this city, get you labeled a Devil worshipper.
"So this is all you've been doing."
"Yeah, this is 'all.' Now do you feel happy you've solved your little mystery? Maybe now you can get back to the important stuff." He turned away and stared at the grave.
Damien understood the dismissal. Yet he didn't listen to it. Now that he knew Bowen's motivation he felt he had to tell him.
"Chief..." Bowen turned to look at him as if to say, "You still here?" "I understand your reluctance to talk to me about private things. But some of those things hinge on this case. Kincaid is one of them."
Bowen scowled and turned back to the grave.
"I talked with someone Wednesday. She told me about that 'bust' you and Sergeant Kincaid were involved in." Bowen's head turned back to stare at him. "She told me it wasn't a drug bust at all. It was cult related."
The look on Bowen's face was not pretty. "Who told you this?"
"It doesn't matter. She's leaving town anyway. But she told me that's why Mark Kincaid killed himself--because along with the other cultists they found Kinnie."
A sigh. The flashlight turned off and Damien could see nothing but the big police chief's shadow. "Why can't you just let things alone?" he asked. "I've told you it doesn't matter anymore."
"Yes, it does. If it's why these people are after him. You understand that Satanic traitor symbol on the goat. It was aimed at him. They consider him a traitor because after he was rescued from the cult he became a cop--just like Mark."
Bowen said nothing.
"And those threats in Mandie's apartment and out back of Falcon's--they were meant for him too. All this time they were. And you never believed it."
"I've heard enough of that from Kinnie, thank you."
"So how come you're turning your back on it all?" Damien couldn't believe Bowen was still trying to sweep it under the carpet. "This whole time Kinnie was right. Why won't you do something about that?"
Bowen turned back to face him in the dimness. "Don't you understand? It was him who never wanted this to get out. After what happened with Mark he didn't want to talk about it. Mark was the only one he ever really talked to, and sometimes I wonder about that. All he said to me is that he didn't want it brought up. He practically asked for my name in blood. Of course, after what happened with Mark, I told him I'd keep it quiet." A shuddery sigh. "If you're still doing your digging, you can quit. Mark and that shrink were the only ones who knew everything that happened. I just want to get this case solved and drop it. I already lost one good man to that damn cult; now it looks like I'm losing another. I don't want that to happen. Not again. Kinnie's the best guy I've got. You realize in a town like this I need all the good guys I can get."
A long silence. Damien stood still for a while before speaking again.
"You blame yourself for this?"
A snort. "Hell, who wouldn't. It was my order to raid the building. It was me who consented to the therapy sessions. It just happened to be one of my men who shot himself in the head. Yeah, sounds like my fault."
"But it wasn't."
"You're no therapist, so don't stick your philosophy where it doesn't belong. It's not me who has a problem. It's Kincaid. If you'd been at the station Thursday you'd know exactly what I mean. Ask your uncle. I'm losing him. Just like I lost Mark."
A light formed out on the street. Both of them turned and shaded their eyes. A car pulled up to the main gate, and they could faintly hear the window being rolled down.
"Chief?" Hawthorne's voice. "Everything okay out there?"
"Yeah, Hawthorne. Just a little talk."
"Okay, Chief. I'm just going to do a little more looking around and then head back."
"Whatever you want, Hawthorne."
The window rolled back up, and the car drove off down the street, toward the far end of the cemetery. The silence resumed.
"Did you ever find out anything about him?" Damien asked after a while.
Bowen shook his head. "Not me, at least. He's definitely a transplant." He noticed Damien's look. "Not from around here. Kidnapped, apparently. Mark told me he's remembered a little bit, like it happened when he was about nine, so he was in there about seven years." He shuddered. "Seven years! No wonder he doesn't remember any of it. I'd want to forget it all too. Just to make the dreams stop."
"But he still has those dreams."
Another sigh. "Yeah, I know. He never talks about them. But he's got that letter opener of his. All he does all day is stab that thing into his desk. I'm no Freudian but I'm sure that means something."
Damien remembered July's statement about Kincaid's leg being cut up. Only it wasn't cut up...it was stabbed.... The puzzle piece of his limp had already fallen into place, but now the one of the letter opener fell in just beside it. Evidently he hadn't been the only one to notice the similarity.
"He blew up at the station Thursday," Bowen continued. "He's going crazy. I just know he can't keep up appearances much longer. He's already losing it. He practically accused your uncle and me of blaming him--"
A squeal of tires, from the street. The two in the cemetery whirled around as Hawthorne's squad car sped around the corner, screeching to a halt outside the front gate. The window rolled down hurriedly.
"Chief!" Hawthorne shouted, his voice cracking. "We've found a body!"
If it hadn't been so dark Damien was sure he would have seen Bowen's face go as white as his did. Without a word they rushed out of the cemetery to join the policeman.