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Excerpt #5 of 5
I pushed the button, feeling a little guilty for not buzzing her in right away.
She hurried to the counter and leaned her elbows on it. “I’m sorry to bother you, but I haven’t been able to reach my brother since yesterday. He hasn’t answered his cell or house phone. This isn’t like him at all.” Her hazel eyes were a nice complement to her
“What’s his name?” I pulled the resident listing book from next to the telephone.
I wasn’t familiar with his name either. I found his number and picked up the phone. “I’ll call his apartment.” I got an answering machine with a man’s voice, probably her brother, telling me to leave a message at the tone. I didn’t leave one.
“Answering machine.” I shrugged.
“Can you please let me in his apartment? He’s a pastor and runs Outreach Orlando Ministries. He didn’t show up for work today and didn’t call in.” Her voice cracked, but she caught herself and regained composure. “Something’s wrong; I just know it.”
After fifteen years of police work, I was pretty good at spotting trouble and troubled people. She was neither. I had the master key and would escort her up to his unit. I could have let Crevis do it while I attended to my puzzle, but even though I didn’t know this lady, she’d given me no reason to subject her to Crevis.
“Hey, Crevis,” I called into my radio. “You need to cover the front desk for a minute. I’m going to let someone in an apartment on the fourth floor.”
“On my way.” He was out of breath and no doubt running to the desk, as he did with every request.
She leaned over the desk and touched my forearm as I stood. “Thank you.”
“No problem.” I got my cane and started down the hallway. She followed.
“Everyone at the mission is worried. David is the most responsible person I know.”
A pastor? Fifteen snarky responses piled up in my head like rush-hour traffic. I have a filter in my brain that’s often “out of order” and allows whatever I think to flow way too freely across my lips. It’s been my undoing more than once. But today, for some reason, I shut off the comments and didn’t tell the lady what I thought of pastors, religion, or anything else, for that matter. Didn’t know how long the filter would keep working, so I’d best get this done and finish my puzzle.
“What’s your name?”
“Ray.” I fumbled with the keys in my hand. “Ray Quinn.”
“I appreciate this, Ray.” She scooted ahead of me to the elevator and pushed the Up button. “I’m Pam Winters.”
I nodded. Different last name than her brother, no wedding ring, but a rather fresh indent on her ring finger. Must be a story there. I pay attention to hands. When I was a cop, it was a matter of life or death. The hands were what could cripple or kill you. Not to watch them was a dereliction of duty. Now it was just an annoying remnant of my former life.
We were on the fourth floor before I knew it. Pam exited first, well in front of me. I did what I could to keep up with her brisk pace.
She stopped at room 419 and knocked. No answer. I knocked.
Pam tapped her foot and then pounded on the door. “David. It’s Pam. Open up. Are you okay?”
I waited for a second. Still nothing. I unlocked the door and eased it open. “Mr. Hendricks, it’s the night watchman. Are you all right?”
“David.” Pam stepped around me as we entered the living room. No one was there.
The living room was nice with an open kitchen area. Nothing opulent, but not a bad place for a single guy. Sure beat my digs.
Pam walked into the kitchen and over to the phone on the counter. The message light flashed.
I stayed where I was because I didn’t feel comfortable milling around someone’s apartment, but I didn’t want to leave her alone here either, just in case I was being duped and she was some crazed stalker chick or something.
She called to her brother again and then moved down the hallway toward the bedrooms. As she opened a door on the left, her scream could have peeled paint off the wall. I ran forward as best I could, nearly stumbling in the hallway.
Pam halted at the doorway, hand over mouth, another shriek tearing through the air. I stepped into the room and found out why.
I pulled my radio from my belt. “Crevis, call 911 now!”
“Call OPD right now. We’ve got two people down.” I switched hands with my cane and grabbed Pam by the arm because she looked as if she was going to faint.
“Tell them it’s a homicide.”
Thanks for taking a sneak peek at The Night Watchman by Mark Mynheir! Look for it in stores and online starting May 4th, or, Pre-Order The Night Watchman now! (Available May 4)
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