Into the Unknown By C.S. Michaels

Jake Bryant lay in bed with his eyes closed, listening to the sound of the rain hitting the window as the thunder echoed in the distance. He had always liked the sound of a hard rain, so he was tempted to get up and open the window so he could hear the rain and thunder more clearly. The only thing stopping him was the massive headache he had so he decided to just lie there for a little while longer.
Into the Unknown
Into the Unknown By C.S. Michaels

Opening his eyes, he tried to focus on his surroundings. At first, he didn’t remember where he was, which wasn’t unusual. Jake lived an interesting life, to say the least, so it wasn’t uncommon for him to wake up in locations that most people would never dare to sleep. He typically would go to sleep wherever he felt like it, many times just sleeping under the stars.

Lying on his side, he looked around and remembered he was in a motel in Omaha that he had called home for the last month. It wasn’t the best place he had ever slept, but it wasn’t the worst place either. At least it was keeping him dry from the rain that was pounding on the walls, windows and door.

Lying on his back, he stared at the ceiling as he tried to remember what had happened the night before, but he was coming up with a blank. He remembered going out with a girl he’d been seeing for the last week. Her name was Jackie Black. Every time he thought about her name, he laughed. He had given her a hard time when he first heard her name, saying it sounded like Jack Black, the actor, although she looked nothing like the actor.

He liked Jackie and they got along really well with one another. She had long, brown hair that was cut in the latest style that some movie star had made popular. She was tall, almost six feet, and thin. Wearing her glasses, she looked like a hot, intellectual college girl.

He had met her one day after work when he was sitting in a bar in midtown. As he was nursing a cold beer he noticed her sitting at the bar alone. Glancing over in her direction, he had caught her smiling at him. After a few more glances, she was still looking at him, so he finally got the nerve up to go over and sit next to her.

He had introduced himself to her and asked her if she was waiting for someone. She said she was waiting for a blind date, but considering the date was thirty minutes late, she wasn’t about to give that guy the time of day. She said it was her blind date's loss and Jake agreed the other guy was stupid for not showing up. She asked Jake to join her which he gladly did.

They hit it off and had been seeing each other almost every night for a week. They would go out for dinner or drinks and then end up at his motel for the rest of the night. She didn’t seem to mind staying in this dump with him; she just kept saying she liked to spend time with Jake no matter where it was which made him like her even more. A lot of women wouldn’t be caught dead in a place like this motel.

His throbbing head brought him back to the present. Thinking she probably came back to the room with him last night, he figured she might still be in the room with him. “Jackie, where are you?” Jake called out.

There was no response. The shower wasn’t running so she must have left already, he thought. That was normal. Although she didn’t mind coming back to his motel, she usually left early in the morning so she could go home and change before going to work.

He continued to think about the events of last night. He remembered her coming to the motel after he was done with work and then they went to dinner and drinks at the Old Market, which was an area in downtown Omaha that had bars and restaurants. Even though it was always crowded, Jake didn't mind because he really liked the atmosphere.

Jake tried to force his brain to think back to last night, but he could barely remember what he had eaten or drank. He felt like he was hung over, which would be highly unusual, because he usually didn’t drink much so he could keep his wits about him in case there was trouble. He always limited himself to just a couple of beers so he couldn’t imagine that he would have had more than that. He had given up hard alcohol years ago because that messed him up and always made him go looking for a fight.

Jake sighed and figured he might as well get up. He sat up, swung his legs off the bed so his feet were on the floor and sat there for a second with his head buried in his hands. He really felt like crap, he thought to himself. Walking over to the bathroom, he turned on the faucet, filling a Styrofoam cup with water. The water was cloudy, but he had drunk worse so he chugged it down hoping to clear out the cobwebs.

Brushing his teeth, he stared at himself in the mirror and noticed he was still wearing the clothes he had on the night before. That was surprising because if he and Jackie had come back to the motel, he knew they would have undressed before climbing into bed. He must have gotten so drunk he couldn’t even get undressed.

He was starting to worry about Jackie now. Knowing they had gone out last night, he couldn’t remember if she had come back to the motel afterwards or not. Walking over to the phone, he dialed an eight to get an outside line then dialed her cell phone number. It went directly to voicemail so he hung up the phone.

He was really worried now because she always picked up her cell phone. In the week they had known each other, she always answered when he had called her. Then again, he had only called her a couple of times so maybe she just happened to answer those two times.

Deciding to take his mind off how he was feeling, Jake turned on the TV. He was flipping through the stations when he landed on a local station that had “Breaking News,” flashing on the screen. There was a woman reporter in front of a house that was swarming with cops. The first thing Jake noticed was how beautiful she was. She had long, straight blond hair and a slender body. She was wearing a nice black pant suit with a white blouse that looked terribly expensive.

“Good morning, this is Shawna Williams reporting live from West Omaha,” the reporter said.

Jake sat on the edge of the bed wondering what had happened but knew it was something bad because of all the cops milling about. “We are standing outside of Ron and Judy Darwin’s house,” she continued. “According to a source close to the investigation, there have been two people brutally murdered inside of this house.”

Jake had no idea who they were, but they must have been rich people because the house in the background was huge. It was a large two-story house that was made of brick. It had a circular drive with a black wrought iron gate around the entire property. The gate wasn’t really meant to keep people out. It was more decorative than anything else.

Jake just shook his head in disbelief. He never could understand why people lived as lavishly as they did, often wondering if they lived like that to show off their wealth. There were a lot of other things that Jake would prefer to spend his money on rather than a huge house. But everyone had different priorities, he knew.

“The police haven’t confirmed who the two victims are, but according to one source they have reason to believe it is Mr. and Mrs. Darwin. From what we’re being told, the police think it happened early this morning.”

The camera zoomed back so they had a clear picture of the house. Two people were pushing a gurney which had a black canvas bag, obviously concealing a dead body. A minute later, two more people came out of the house pushing a second gurney with the other dead body.

The camera focused on the reporter again. “As you can see, they’re removing the bodies now.”

The TV flashed to the anchor sitting behind a desk. “Shawna, have the police said anything about the motive?” he asked.

“The police aren’t saying much at this time,” Shawna replied. “I was told by an anonymous source it looked like it was a robbery that had gone terribly wrong. That’s all they’re saying so far.”

“Do the police think these are related to the Strasburgh and Hansen killings?” the anchor asked.

“I asked the police that question and they’re not confirming or denying it at this time. However, it seems to be similar to those slayings as well. The Strasburgh’s and the Hansen’s were very affluent like the Darwin’s. They were also found dead in their homes in an apparent robbery. Although we don’t know all the details at this time, the murders do seem similar in the fact they were brutally murdered and then robbed.”

The reporter saw a detective walking out of the house so the camera followed her as she quickly made her way to him. “Excuse me Detective,” she said. “Have the crime scene technicians found anything that would point to who may have done this? Is this related to the Strasburgh and Hansen killings?”

“I can’t comment on an active investigation,” the Detective said, clearly agitated about being bothered by the reporter. He quickly made his way past her and walked away as the camera followed him then settled back on Shawna.

As the reporter continued talking about the murders, Jake decided he was in no mood to watch such depressing news, so he turned the TV off. He stood up and walked around the room for a few minutes, trying to clear his head. Normally he would go for a run, but the way he was feeling there was no way he was in a mood for a run today.

He decided a shower would do him some good, so he started taking everything out of his pockets, placing the items on the night stand. As he was taking the change out of his pockets, he dropped a quarter onto the floor. Slowly bending down to pick up the quarter, something under the bed caught his eye.

He inched closer to the bed so he could get a better view then saw what looked like a knife. He was about ready to reach for it when he noticed there looked to be blood on the blade. Alarm bells started going off in his head. Deciding he better not touch it with his hands, he went to the bathroom and grabbed a hand towel.

Walking back to the edge of the bed, he bent down and using the hand towel he grabbed the knife by the handle. He stood up, examining the knife closely. It definitely had blood on the blade and he was reasonably sure it was his knife. Patting down his pockets with his left hand, his knife wasn’t in any of his pockets so he knew this was his. He always carried his knife with him, so he had no idea how the knife ended up with blood on it and how it found its way under the bed.

One thing was for sure, blood on a knife was never a good thing. He knew he needed to get rid of it as fast as he could. First though, he took the hand towel and wiped off the knife because he knew his prints were on the handle. He wasn’t sure if the blade had his prints on it, but thought it did so he wiped that down too.

Now he had a knife that was obviously used for some kind of malice and he had a hand towel with blood all over it. He knew he was going to have to get rid of both of them in a location that could not be traced back to him. He thought the best solution was to go for a walk and dispose of them in a garbage bin somewhere far away from his motel.

As he was contemplating what to do with the knife, there was a knock on the door accompanied by a woman’s voice. “Housekeeping,” she said.

Jake looked at the clock on the night stand and saw that it said ten seventeen. He was shocked that it was so late in the morning because he never slept that late. He was always up around seven in the morning no matter what time he went to bed. The lateness of the morning would explain why housekeeping was at the door.

He would just tell housekeeping to come back later. As he walked over to the door, he heard several other voices outside. In the month he had been there, he had never seen many people at the motel, let alone heard people talking. Another alarm went off in his head as he knew something wasn’t right about the situation.

Thinking about what to do, he decided he didn’t want the knife in the room any longer than it needed to be, so he walked to the bathroom. There was a small window about five feet off the floor. The window was only two feet wide and two feet tall, but it would do. He would be able to toss it out the window and retrieve it later when it was safe.

Opening the window, he looked outside and saw there was nothing but brush below. That was good. With luck, the knife would land in the bushes and stay hidden from view. Jake’s room was on the second floor of the motel so he might be able to throw it and have it land in the bushes below. He put his arm out the window and threw the knife and hand towel as far as he could.

Looking out the window, he could see that the knife landed in the brush off to his right. The towel had just floated down to the ground, landing several feet closer to the motel than the knife did. Feeling better the knife wasn’t in the room he decided that he would wait until night and then go get the knife and rag and dispose of them.

There was another knock at the door. “Housekeeping,” the maid said again. After closing the window, he walked over to the door, looked through the peep hole, saw the maid and then opened the door.

All of sudden several men that had been hiding on either side of the door pushed the door open, rushing inside, grabbing Jake. Three of the men pinned him to the floor, forcing him to lie on his stomach while someone had a knee in his back. There was a hand on his head pressing his right cheek on to the nasty carpeted floor.

Jake could see several people swarm the room. Even though his face was pushed down into the carpet he could see the people were wearing wind breakers that said Police and Swat on the back of them. At first he wondered why they were in his room and what they were looking for, thinking it must be a case of mistaken identity.

Then he thought about the knife and started putting this whole scenario together. It seemed like too much of a coincidence that there was a bloody knife in his room and now the police were looking around. Thankfully, he had wiped off the knife and thrown that out the window. He had an uneasy feeling about the knife and how it got into his room. Somebody had placed that knife there and Jake had gotten rid of it just in time.

He could see the officers looking around the room, trying to find something. As he was watching them, his mind was racing trying to put everything together. His lack of any kind of memory from the night before was starting to make sense as he suddenly realized he must have been drugged.

That would explain why he was feeling the way he was and why he couldn’t remember anything from the night before. He knew it wasn’t because he drank too much alcohol. Even if he had a lot to drink, he still would have remembered most of the night, but he couldn’t remember anything after leaving his motel and he hadn’t had anything to drink before he left the motel.

Someone cuffed his hands behind his back and someone else started reading him the Miranda rights. Once they were through with that, they pulled him up and sat him on the bed. A burly guy of middle age, with muscle that had turned to fat from years of working behind a desk came walking over to Jake.

Stopping in front of Jake, he looked down at him. “You are being detained for the murder of Ron and Judy Darwin,” he said. “We are taking you down to the police station for questioning. Do you acknowledge that your rights have been read to you?”

Jake was more than a little confused now. At first, he had no idea who Ron and Judy Darwin were. Then he suddenly realized they were the couple that had been murdered that was on the news. The reporter had said that she was reporting from West Omaha, but he had never been to West Omaha, so he had no idea what they were talking about. Jake wanted to believe this was a case of mistaken identity, but the bloody knife told him otherwise.

“Do you acknowledge that your rights have been read to you?” the officer repeated himself.

Jake nodded his head as he looked at the burly man that must be charge. “We have a search warrant to search your room,” the officer said.

The officer held up a piece of paper, but he didn’t give Jake time to read it before he put it back into his shirt pocket. Jake looked around as the police officers were opening all his drawers, looking under the bed, trying to find something. Luckily, the blood on the knife had been dry so Jake didn’t think there would be any blood on the floor. At least that’s what he hoped. If they found blood underneath his bed, that would be awfully difficult to explain.

Jake thought it best that he didn’t say anything at this time. He needed to think and at that moment he didn’t want to say anything that could be misinterpreted. The officer that showed him the search warrant asked him if he wanted to say anything. Ignoring the cop, Jake just continued looking forward trying to digest what was happening.

Finally the officer gave up asking Jake questions, understanding that Jake wasn’t going to say anything, so the cops roughly jerked him to his feet. They took him out the motel door and started walking him to the police car as the rain pelted down on them.

As they were getting him into the back of the police car, he saw several news vans roll up to the parking lot. Jake’s first thought was that he was not in a very good situation and he was going to need a good lawyer. Unfortunately, he didn’t know any good lawyers.

His second thought was that someone had set him up and framed him for murder.

Chapter 2

After they arrived at the police station, the police officers helped Jake out of the back of the car, and marched him into the police station through the driving rain. As they entered the processing center, they were soaked from the rain, dripping water onto the tile.

As he was being led to the counter, Jake was starting to shiver from the cold. Wearing an old pair of shorts and a t-shirt, he was soaked to the bone. Just the walk through the parking lot was enough to soak him from the driving rain. He was hoping they would give him some dry clothes before they threw him into the cell.

The police officers had already searched his pockets back at the motel room, so they didn’t repeat that. With his hands still handcuffed behind his back, one of the officers unlocked the cuffs and cuffed him again, this time with his hands in front of him so it was easier to take his fingerprints.

After taking his fingerprints, they asked him his name, birth date and other pertinent information. Jake continued to give them the silent treatment so they eventually led him to another room where they took his mug shots. Jake thought about trying to look as mean as possible for his mug shot, but then decided it would be better to give a big smile like he didn’t have a care in the world.

After the pictures were complete, two police officers led him to an interview room. As Jake entered the interview room, he stopped and looked around the cold, dreary room. The walls were a light gray color that went from the tiled floor to the ceiling with no windows anywhere. Jake saw a metal table sitting in the middle of a ten by ten foot room. There was one chair on one side of the table and two chairs on the opposite side. One of the officers gently pushed Jake and told him to sit in the far chair.

Jake walked around the table and sat in the single chair, resting his hands on the table as he sat facing what he assumed was a one-way mirror. The officers left the room, leaving Jake alone staring at himself in the mirror. Jake knew there were detectives behind the mirror watching to see how he behaved so he decided he wasn’t going to give them anything to watch.

So far, he hadn’t said anything to the officers so now he was sure they wanted to make him as uncomfortable as possible. Knowing they were probably going to make him sit there for a while, Jake tried to get comfortable in the metal chair which was proving difficult. He had heard that it was a tactic the police officers used so the detainee would be more willing to talk just so they would be moved to a more comfortable place. Jake didn’t know if it was true or not, but he wasn’t going to let a little bit of discomfort affect him.

For an hour, Jake sat there staring at the mirror, not moving. His mind started to wonder and he thought about the last couple of months and how he had ended up in Omaha. Jake had spent the winter in Minneapolis which wasn’t a bad place, except for the cold and wind. It had been a long, cold winter which seemed like it would never end.

Not only was the weather cold, but the wind was brutal. The air temperature would dip below zero, but the wind would make it feel ten times worse. With wind chill, it often got to twenty below zero or worse. According to the newspapers, it had been the fifth coldest winter in Minneapolis’s history. So much for global warming, Jake had often thought.

Since Jake didn’t normally own a lot of clothes, he had to invest in some winter clothing. He had purchased two pairs of long johns, two long sleeve shirts, one sweatshirt, a big heavy winter coat and a cap for his head. Adding a pair of gloves, he was set to take on a winter in Minneapolis.

It was the most clothes he had ever bought at one time, but it was a necessity if he was going to live in Minneapolis. Luckily, he was able to keep the costs down by going to a thrift store. Jake liked to buy his clothes at thrift stores, whenever possible because he could buy a lot and not spend much money.

He could never understand why people would waste their money on new clothes and pay hundreds of dollars when they could just go to a thrift store and get the same amount of clothes, albeit slightly worn, for less than thirty dollars. He was sure that didn’t appeal to many people, but it certainly worked for him.

As the calendar turned to April, Jake had thought the winter was finally over and was looking forward to spring. He had heard spring time in Minneapolis was a great time. At first they had a few days in the seventies and the weather finally felt livable. But just as he was enjoying the spring time weather there was a storm that dumped eight inches of new snow on Minneapolis.

Right then, he decided he didn’t want to spend any more time in Minneapolis so he packed his backpack and prepared to take off to a new location. As he packed, he decided he certainly wouldn’t be coming back, at least not in the winter time.

Knowing there was only one direction he wanted to go, he headed south. He didn’t really have a plan when he left Minneapolis. He never did. For the last year, he just went wherever he felt like going, when he felt like going. Enjoying the feeling of freedom, Jake would travel around the country and live wherever it suited him. Packing his clothes into a backpack, he would just hit the open road.

He always made sure to take his money with him, which ranged from four dollars to four thousand dollars, all of it in cash. Luckily for him, he had about thirty-five hundred dollars when he left Minneapolis. It had been an extremely snowy winter so he had made a lot of money helping with snow removal. He was paid in cash which was the method he preferred.

He never used banks, so he just carried it in his backpack. It wasn’t the safest way to carry his money, but he liked having it with him at all times. Plus, he didn’t want to go through the hassle of opening up a bank account and dealing with a paper trail.

He always hitch hiked with truckers because it was a cheap way to travel so when he started traveling south he found a trucker that took him to a truck stop outside of Des Moines and then found another that took him close to Omaha. That particular trucker stopped at a truck stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa and Jake started walking west. He crossed the river into Omaha and decided to check it out.

After he found a cheap motel, the one he was staying in now, that was close to downtown Omaha, he decided to pay for a room. It was rundown and had about thirty rooms. It had a sign in the front that said “daily, weekly and monthly rates,” so it was perfect for Jake.

There were two floors, each with fifteen rooms. The doors opened directly outside as there were no indoor hallways. The motel was an ugly purple and white and Jake soon discovered the décor inside matched the outside. After walking inside the motel, Jake assumed the room looked exactly as it had in the seventies. Jake didn’t care about the appearance of the motel, all he cared about was that it was cheap and it had a bed and the motel met both of those criteria. He was a simple man and that was all he required.

It had a double bed, a table, and two chairs around the table. There was a TV stand across from the bed with a twenty year old television on it. There was a closet with no door and a bathroom with a small sink, a toilet and a bathtub that had a nasty brown ring around it.

He’d been staying in that room for a month now and the only thing he worried about was bed bugs. He had even pulled the sheets back and inspected them just to make sure there weren’t any bedbugs. To his relief and surprise, there weren’t any bugs, at least none that he could see. So, he unpacked his backpack, putting what few items he had in the drawers and settled into his new home.

He had found a job that paid him under the table to do some construction work. It was hard work, but the pay was good so he didn’t mind. After meeting Jackie, he had a beautiful woman that he enjoyed spending time with and everything seemed to been going great.

Now he was sitting in an interview room, arrested for murder.

Chapter 3

A man walked into the interview room and sat in one of the chairs across from Jake. He was dressed in a cheap dark blue suit with a red and blue striped tie. He was Caucasian with jet black hair that was starting to go gray on the sides. A beer belly was starting to show, making the suit buttons strain against his ever expanding bulk.

By the way the man carried himself, he gave the impression he had been a detective for a long time. Jake knew he was going to need to be careful with what he had to say because this detective had probably investigated a lot of murders and would know ways to trip someone up.

Rather than staring at Jake, trying to intimidate him, the man tried the nice tactic. “My name is Detective Martin,” he said. “Do you know why you’re in here?”

Jake shook his head no, although he knew he was arrested for murder. He just had no idea how he could have been mistaken as a murderer. One of the reasons Jake hadn’t said anything was because he was still trying to gather his thoughts. He wanted to know where this interrogation was going before he said anything.

“I see that you’re going to remain silent, is that correct?” Detective Martin asked.

Jake nodded.

“That’s your right. You’re being held in connection with the killing of Mr. and Mrs. Darwin. We have one witness that said they saw you walking from the Darwin’s house and we have another witness that said they saw a knife with blood on it in your room.”

Jake smiled as it started making sense to him now. That would explain why they were looking for the knife in Jake’s room. Someone had called the cops and told them they saw the knife which was total crap. It had to be someone that worked at the motel or it was Jackie. He didn’t want to let himself believe it was Jackie because it made no sense why she would do that to him.

He dismissed her as the culprit and started thinking about someone that worked at the motel. Could they have entered the room, grabbed his knife and used it to commit murder? It was possible, but why would they do that? He guessed so it would implicate him and the real murderer would be free. But why would they pick him to frame? Either it was someone at the motel or it was Jackie, but both options didn’t make any sense to Jake so he was going to have to continue thinking about it.

The detective sat there, saw Jake smile, waited for him to say something. Jake still refused to talk, so the detective said, “Did I say something funny?”

Jake shook his head no. The other reason Jake hadn’t spoken yet was to try to frustrate Detective Martin. He felt like it was a good way to try to swing the advantage to him rather than letting the cops have it. Whether or not that worked, Jake didn’t know, but it was worth a shot. Jake was always looking for a way to get the advantage over someone.

So far Detective Martin wasn’t getting frustrated by the silent treatment. “What’s your name?” Martin asked.

Jake didn’t say anything so Detective Martin continued, “According to your registration at the motel, it’s Jake Bryant. However, we didn’t find any identification in your room. Is your name Jake Bryant?”

At first Jake wasn’t going to answer the detective then he decided to throw him a bone so Jake nodded yes. The detective sat there, staring across the table at Jake noticing he was in his early twenties with a lean build. When they had processed him, they had found that Jake was six foot one and a hundred ninety pounds with no fat on him. He had short brown hair parted on the side with emerald green eyes and a five-day beard. However, the most noticeable characteristic was the hard look Jake had as his eyes locked onto Detective Martin’s. He didn’t just stare at the detective, he stared through him.

Detective Martin could sense Jake didn’t have any fear of being in the police station. He knew Jake was either innocent or he had been through this enough times that he knew it was best to wait for his lawyer. The detective thought it was the latter because most innocent people are extremely scared and will talk so much that detectives have to tell them to stop talking so they can ask questions.

Detective Martin was starting to get irritated by the lack of communication from Jake although he was doing his best not to show it. “Listen Jake, just tell me what happened and I’ll try to do anything I can to help you out,” he said in a calm voice. “You’re not helping your situation by not talking.”

Finally, sensing some frustration, Jake smiled as he knew Martin was trying to make him say something by threatening him into talking. Jake decided he had made him wait long enough. “I want a lawyer.”

“That is certainly your right,” Martin replied. “However, I was just hoping we could ask you a few questions while we’re getting the lawyer. Would that be okay?”

“I want a lawyer,” Jake said again.

The detective sat there for a second, picked up his papers and walked out of the room, leaving Jake to stare at the mirror. Detective Martin walked to a room down the hallway where there were three other detectives clustered around a desk. “Do we have anything on this guy?” he asked.

“We ran his prints and we got a hit from Seattle,” said Detective Larson, Martin’s partner. “Apparently, he was involved in some murders in Seattle.”

“No shit! I knew we had the right guy. Does it say what he’s wanted for?”

“No, it doesn’t say much. His name and prints came up as part of a closed case in Seattle.”

Detective Martin was a little disappointed to hear that it was a closed case. That meant Jake most likely didn’t commit any murders up there. He might have been a witness, but they wouldn’t have closed the case if he was wanted by the cops. “Have you followed up on it yet?” Martin asked, dejected.

“No, we just got the results back a few minutes ago and I haven’t had time to check on it.”

“Okay,” Martin said as he walked over to the telephone. “I’m going to call and see what happened in Seattle. What’s the number for the detective that was on the case?”

As Larsen read off the number, Martin dialed the number in Seattle. It was the main switchboard for the police in Seattle. The operator answered, “Seattle Police Department.”

“Yes, this is Detective Martin of the Omaha Police Department, can you transfer me to Detective Cooper’s cell phone.”

“What is this in regards to?”

“Tell him it’s about a murder case he worked on a year ago.”

“One moment please,” she said as Martin heard a click on the other line.

The phone rang three times then was answered. “This is Detective Cooper.”

“Yes, Detective Cooper, this is Detective Martin of the Omaha Police Department. We have arrested a man for murder and ran his prints. We got a hit and it looks like he was involved in some murders up in your part of the country, but it doesn’t say he was a suspect.”

“Who is it?”

“The suspect’s name is Jake Bryant.”

The other end of the phone was quiet for a few seconds. “We thought he died,” Cooper replied.

“It says he was connected to at least one murder, but it doesn’t look like he’s been charged. Can you tell me what happened?”

“We had an eye witness that said he was involved in multiple murders. This was late last year; October to be exact.”

Detective Martin just stood there in disbelief. “You have an eyewitness to multiple murders and you didn’t charge him?” he asked.

“Like I said, we thought he was dead.”

Detective Martin sat there looking at the phone as if he could see Cooper directly. He knew something wasn’t right and there was something Cooper was saying. “There’s something else, isn’t there?”

Again there was a pause then Detective Cooper said, “The witness and the supporting evidence allowed us to determine that it was self-defense. Once we came to that conclusion, we didn’t pursue the matter further.”

“Why did you conclude self-defense?”

“It was in the Mountains east of Seattle. A bunch of hired killers killed the cops then chased Bryant and his girlfriend through the mountains. They fought back and killed the men.”

“I remember hearing about that. It was all over the news. That was him?”


“What made you think he was dead?”

“After the killings, he wasn’t heard from again,” Cooper responded.

“So, why would you think he was one of the dead bodies?” Martin asked.

“There were more killings. After Bryant killed the men in the mountains, their boss and a few others were burnt in a fire. We thought Bryant’s body might be one of them. We tried to find some kind of record that had his DNA on file so we could compare it to the DNA of the dead bodies to see if one of the bodies was him. However, there was nothing.”

“What about contacting a relative to see if they had seen him or knew where he would go?”

“We tried that too,” Cooper said. “But there is no record of Jake Bryant ever existing.”

Now it was all making sense. Martin completely understood because he knew exactly what Cooper was talking about. It appeared Jake had killed cop killers. When a cop is killed then all the other cops will stop at nothing to find them. Martin had no doubt the cops in Seattle were grateful that Jake killed them and saved the cops the trouble of finding and prosecuting them. So, it was easier to just say he died and sweep it under the rug than look for him.

“Now that you know he’s alive, are you going to charge him with murder?”

“Not at this time,” Cooper answered. “As far as we’re concerned, it was self-defense. There’s really no reason for us to bring him in.”

That was exactly the answer Martin expected from Cooper. He thanked Cooper and hung up the phone, looking at Larsen. Larsen asked Martin what the Seattle Detective had said and Martin relayed the information to him, explaining the situation.

“So they don’t care that we have him,” Larsen said as a statement not a question.

“As you can imagine, they don’t have much interest in him. I’m sure if he was brought in it would just cause them more trouble than it’s worth.

Larsen shook his head in disbelief. “I remember hearing about that. Regardless if it was self-defense, this is one cool customer and we now know he is capable of killing.”

“Nothing seems to rattle him,” Martin said. “Did you see him sit there while we made him stew? Most people pace back and forth, sweat dripping off of them. Not this guy. He just sat there staring at the mirror, not moving at all. He was completely calm. He had to be freezing from sitting in wet clothes. I even turned the air conditioning lower to make him more uncomfortable. Even when I was talking to him it didn’t appear to bother him at all.”

“Are you ready to talk to him again?” Larsen asked.

“Let’s make him sit there another hour and then we’ll go talk to him again. Maybe that will make him a little more anxious to get out of there.”

“He’s asked for a lawyer, so technically we’re not supposed to talk to him unless a lawyer is present,” Larsen responded.

“I know. Let’s just let him sit there for a while longer and then we’ll decide what to do.”

An hour later, Detectives Martin and Larsen walked into the interview room. Jake was sitting in the same position as he had been for the last two hours except this time he wasn’t staring at the mirror. He had his head down on the table like he was sleeping. Martin and Larsen stood in the doorway waiting for Jake to lift his head and acknowledge them. After thirty seconds of standing there, they realized that Jake wasn’t going to do any such thing.

Detective Martin cleared his throat. “Jake, this is Detective Larsen.”

Jake slowly lifted his head so his eyes met Detective Larsen’s. Jake saw a young man with fiery red hair and a small moustache. He stood a couple of inches taller than Detective Martin and had an extra twenty pounds on him. The weight on Larsen was muscle and not fat, indicating that he worked out a lot. But it was clear to Jake that Larsen’s young age meant that he was the inexperienced detective and they partnered him with Martin so he could learn the ropes.

The detectives pulled out the metal chairs, taking a seat opposite of Jake. Before Detective Martin had a chance to speak, Jake said, “I want a lawyer.”

“Jake, we’re calling in a Defense Attorney for you,” Martin replied. “You have every right to a lawyer and you will have one. We just wanted to know if we could chat informally while you’re waiting. Is that okay?”

“I want a lawyer,” Jake said again.

“This is Saturday afternoon. It’s going to be awhile before we can get a Defense Attorney down here. You may have to wait for a while.”

“You know Jake we can hold you here for forty-eight hours so you better start talking to us,” Larsen said.

Holding up his hand to silence Larsen, Detective Martin said, “We’ve read you your rights and you don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to. It’s completely up to you. We just want to ask you a couple of questions.”

“You want to ask me before my lawyer gets here, don’t you,” said Jake.

“If you prefer, we can just lock you up in the jail cell for a while,” responded Larsen.

Jake looked at both detectives then smiled. “That’s fine, I can wait. I have nowhere else I need to be.”

“Can you just answer a couple of questions?” Martin asked nicely. “We’re just trying to clear up a few things.”

“Okay, I will tell you this. Someone is framing me. I don’t know who and I don’t know why, but I didn’t kill those people.”

“Okay. This is a good start. Do you mind if I record the conversation?”

Without waiting for Jake to answer, Martin waved at the mirror and a few seconds later a short woman in a police uniform came into the room and set up a camcorder on a tripod. The three of them waited for her to finish. As soon as she was done, she nodded once and left the room without saying anything.

Standing up and walking to the camcorder, Martin asked again, “For the record, do you mind if I record this conversation?”

“As a matter of fact, I do.”

“Why didn’t you say that before we set everything up?” Martin asked.

“I don’t know.”

“If you didn’t commit the murders, you have nothing to worry about.”

“As long as that is on, I won’t say another word until my lawyer gets here,” Jake replied. “If that takes two days, I really don’t give a shit. Did you see the motel I was living in? Staying in a cell with a cot is about the same as living in a flea infested motel.”

Detective Larsen pounded the table as if that was going to intimidate Jake. “Jake, we don’t believe for a minute that you’re being framed. We know you killed and robbed those people. You’re going to prison for a very long time you asshole.”

“Jake, just cooperate with us and we’ll see what we can do for you,” Martin added. “Just tell us why you did it.”

Jake smiled at the detectives then sat back in the uncomfortable chair. “So, now it’s time for good cop, bad cop, huh? You really should work on your routine.”

“Jake, we just want to know what happened,” Martin answered.

“Turn it off first.”

Reluctantly, Martin stood up, walked over to the camcorder and turned it off. “The camcorder is off now. Please tell us what happened so we can help you.”

“You’ve got no evidence that I did anything,” Jake said, defiantly.

“We’re processing it,” replied Martin. “We know you were involved.”

“In that case, it sounds like you have all the answers. So you really don’t need anything from me.”

“We’re just trying to fill in the gaps. We’ll know everything soon enough.”

“If you know everything then why do you need me to say anything?” Jake asked. He was kind of enjoying jerking these two around a little.

“It will just go easier on you if you cooperate with us,” Martin answered.

Laughing softly, Jake found that amusing. He knew they were just trying to get him to incriminate himself. Luckily that wasn’t going to happen because Jake really didn’t know what had happened. But he also knew the detectives weren’t going to believe his story about not remembering the night before.

“You won’t find any evidence that links me to murders because I didn’t do it. I’m being framed.”

“That’s what they all say!” Larsen exclaimed.

“I’m not talking anymore with this asshole here,” Jake said as he nodded towards Larsen.

Jumping out of his chair, Larsen grabbed Jake by the collar, looking like he was about ready to take a swing at him. Not flinching at all, Jake sat there waiting for a fist to strike him in the face. Before that could happen, Martin quickly stood up, grabbing Larsen and pulling him away from Jake.

“Calm down!” Martin screamed at Larsen.

“I guess we should have left the camcorder on,” Jake said. “I’m sure that would have looked great to Internal Affairs. I don’t think you’re allowed to touch a suspect.”

Frustrated with Jake's smug attitude, Larsen started pacing back and forth in the small room like a caged animal. He had seen suspects become defiant before but none of them had the quiet confidence Jake had. It was almost like he was enjoying all of this.

“I’m sorry about that Jake,” Martin said.

Jake leaned back in his chair, putting his hands behind his head. “Let’s just wait until my lawyer gets here and then we can talk all you want.”

Chapter 4

Jake, Detective Martin and Detective Larsen all sat there staring at each other in silence. Jake wasn’t prepared to say anything more until his lawyer came and he knew the detectives wanted to keep pressing him for answers. As Jake looked at the two detectives, he could tell Larsen was pissed and wanted to hit him, but Martin was level headed and wasn’t about to let Larsen make that mistake.

“So you’re not going to talk to us?” Martin asked, finally breaking the awkward silence.

“I’ll tell you what. I’ll answer your questions if you answer mine,” Jake said as he leaned forward, placing his elbows on the table.

“We’re the ones asking questions, you asshole,” Larsen stated.

“Let’s wait for my lawyer then.”

“What do you want to know?” Martin asked.

“Who supposedly told you they saw me and who told you they saw the knife?”

“We’re not at liberty to discuss that,” Martin said.

“If you’re not at liberty to discuss it then I’m not at liberty to tell you anything either.”

“Trust me Mr. Bryant, I would like to be able to tell you,” Martin responded. “Unfortunately, we can’t divulge that information to you that at this time.”

“Then I guess we’re done for the day. I would like to go to the cell you’re going to keep me for the next forty-eight hours. I have a headache and I would like to lie down.”

“You’ll be allowed to go to your cell when we tell you it’s time,” Larsen said.

“You know, I’m really getting sick of this asshole,” Jake said to Martin as he nodded in the direction of Larsen.

“Shut up Larsen,” Martin said, getting a little tired of him as well. He turned back to Jake. “Can I get you some aspirin or a bottle of water?”

It was funny to Jake to watch them switch back and forth between the good cop and bad cop. He had always seen that on TV, but to actually experience it in real life was something else. He could see how that could be effective because it did make Jake want to talk to Martin since he was acting like someone that was trying to help him. But he wasn’t going to fall for it because he knew they would try to ask him questions that they shouldn’t be asking, so he knew he needed to wait until they brought in a lawyer.

“No thanks,” Jake said. “I don’t need anything at this time. I do appreciate your concern though.”

Frustrated, Detective Martin said to Larsen, “I’ll be right back.”

He walked out of the room, knowing Jake wasn’t going to tell him anything. He walked over to two police officers that were standing in the hallway. “You can take him back to the cell. He’s not going to say anything until his lawyer gets here.”

They nodded, walked into the interview room and roughly placed their hands underneath Jake’s arms, standing him up. One of them pointed to the door and they led Jake out of the interview room into the hallway. After they walked down the hallway and approached the elevator one of the guards pushed the down button while they stood, waiting for the elevator.

They didn’t wait too long before the elevator made a noise as the doors opened. The tall, lanky cop pushed Jake into the elevator. “Move it.”

“What’s your problem?” Jake asked, not happy with the rough treatment he was getting.

“Shut up asshole.”

“You guys should really work on your manners,” Jake responded.

“Just keep your mouth shut.”

Jake shook his head as he stared straight at the elevator doors. He wanted to punch the cop, but he restrained himself. So far he hadn’t done anything that was going to keep him in jail. However, if he assaulted a police officer that would change everything so he just kept his composure.

A moment later the doors opened and once again the cop shoved him through the opened doors. Turning around quickly, Jake raised his hand like he was going to strike the cop then he ran his fingers through his hair. The officer flinched then realized Jake wasn’t going to strike him.

Seeing the cop flinch, Jake started laughing. Both cops just stared in disbelief before the shorter, beefier cop reacted and grabbed Jake, throwing him against the elevator wall thinking about what to do next.

As Jake’s right cheek was pressed against the elevator wall. “I do believe this is police brutality,” he said.

“You were about to strike a police officer, asshole,” the tall cop said.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Jake replied. “I was just running my fingers through my hair. Trust me; if I was going to hit you then you would know it.”

The tall cop put his face a couple of inches from Jake’s face. It was so close, Jake could smell his breath. “Are you threatening me?”

“It’s not a threat,” Jake responded. “I’m just telling you to keep your damn hands off me, jackass.”

The tall cop was getting ready to punch Jake when the shorter cop stopped him. “Don’t do it. They’ll take your badge. Let’s just get him to the cell with the others.”

Staring at Jake for a second, the tall cop said, “I’m going to kick your ass one of these days.”

Even though Jake’s head was still pinned to the wall of the elevator, he said, “I’m going to get out of here because I’m innocent and when I do, I’ll be more than happy to give you that chance.”

Without responding, they both grabbed one of Jake’s arms and led him down another hallway that opened into a big room. It had three giant cells on the right, each of them were probably twenty feet by twenty feet. Each cell had three sets of bunk beds along the walls, a toilet that was against a wall, but was open so everyone could see someone doing their business. There was a sink next to the toilet and a couple of benches in the middle of the cell. There were two men in the first cell, three in the second cell and a woman in the third cell.

Across from the cells were a couple of desks with a police officer sitting at each one. Both of the police officers were older men, well into their fifties with big pot bellies. It was clear to Jake they were probably close to retirement. Either that or they were screw ups and this is where they put them. The one closest to the door stood up, grabbed a clipboard, waiting for the men to approach.

“This is Jake Bryant,” the tall cop said. “He’s going to be spending a couple of days with us.”

One of the older cops nodded, filled out some paperwork then handed the clipboard to the cop. “I need you to sign this,” he said.

After the tall cop signed the paper, he handed the clipboard back to the cop. “Get into the cell.”

The other older cop unlocked the first cell and the tall cop pushed Jake into the cell. “Turn around.”

Jake turned around, holding his hands up so the cop could unlock the cuffs. The cop took a key out, unlocking the cuffs then turned around, walked out of the cell as the older cop shut the door. Jake could hear the sound of the lock click as there was an echo in the room. He looked around the cell as he realized it was the first time he had ever been confined in a jail cell.

“Enjoy your stay,” the tall cop said sarcastically to Jake.

He was laughing at Jake, so Jake flipped him off. “You know, I generally like and respect cops. But you’re a dumbass so screw you.”

“I hope they let you out because I’m going to kick your ass.”

Jake ignored him as he rubbed his wrists. He turned around, looking at the other two guys in the cell. They looked like twin bikers. They were bald, wearing a white t-shirt and jeans with a leather vest. Tattoos covered their thick arms. They were sitting on the benches staring at Jake, somewhat amused by his behavior toward the cop.

Not saying anything to the two on the bench, Jake walked over to the furthest set of bunk beds and lay down, putting his hands behind his head. After being in the interview room for so long, he had dried out somewhat, but his clothes were still damp. His initial hope was that they would give him some dry clothes to wear but it didn’t look like that was going to happen. So he resigned himself to the fact that he was going to have to air dry.

Jake stared at the ceiling as it looked like this was going to be his home for the next two days, unless the defense attorney could work some magic and get him out of there. Jake wasn’t too hopeful about that, knowing it would all depend on the evidence they had against him. They weren’t going to get any information out of Jake because he didn’t have any. He was in the dark as much as they were, probably even more since he didn’t know what led them to him.

The more he thought about it, the more he knew it was Jackie that set him up. As he thought about their relationship over the last seven days, things just didn’t add up. He wondered why she would be willing to come and stay at the rotten motel instead of going to her place. Whenever he suggested going to her place, she made up an excuse why they couldn’t.

One time it was because her roommate was sick, another time it was because her roommate was having her boyfriend over. At the time, Jake didn’t think much of it because he actually preferred going back to his motel. Since he didn’t have a car or any other mode of transportation, it was just easier to have her drive them back to his motel.

In the middle of his thoughts, he heard a noise so he turned his head to see what was going on. To his dismay, both of the bikers were making their way to his bunk. Jake quickly got to his feet, not wanting to be at a disadvantage by lying down. As they approached, Jake could see one of them was about his height and the other was probably two inches taller. The shorter one had a barrel chest and was somewhat muscular while the taller one wasn’t as muscular, but wasn’t fat either. It was easy to see that both of them outweighed Jake by a good forty pounds.

Assessing the situation, Jake knew they wouldn’t be coming over to talk about the weather. They both looked like they had been in a lot of fights so Jake’s plan was going to be to hit them first. Hopefully, if he struck first then it would flip the advantage to him.

Jake turned slightly to see the two guards just sitting there reading their paper, not showing any inclination of stopping whatever was about to happen. Turning his attention back to the bikers, Jake was deciding how he was going to fight them. He had fought two people at a time before, so this wasn’t anything new. However, both of these guys looked scrappy so Jake knew it was going to be a tough fight.

As they approached him, Jake prepared to swing at the tall one. Then tall one surprised when he asked, “What did they accuse you of?”

“Those dumbass cops think I killed several people,” Jake answered.

“Yeah, those cops don’t know what the hell they’re doing,” the short one said.

“What are they accusing you guys of doing?”

“We broke some guy’s leg,” said the tall one.

“You mean they accused you of breaking someone’s leg,” Jake said, correcting them. He knew when you were in jail you never said you did something or someone else did something. You always said accused.

“No, we did it.”

“What did he do to deserve that?” Jake said.

“He disrespected us,” said the shorter guy.

“I’ll make sure I don’t disrespect you guys. I certainly wouldn’t want to be on your bad side.”

Both of the bikers laughed then the shorter guy said, “We like the way you handled yourself with the cop. My name is Mad Dog and this is Fats.”

They held out their hands and Jake shook them both. “My name is Jake.”

“You’re alright Jake,” Fats said.

“Did they charge and book you yet?” Mad Dog asked.

“Not yet.”

“Then they don’t have shit on you,” Fats said. “If they did, they would have charged you immediately.”

“That’s what I thought too,” Jake said.

“Why do they think it was you?”

“I have no idea. That’s what I’m trying to figure out. I certainly didn’t kill any rich people.”

“There are some rich people I would like to kill,” Mad Dog said as he and Fats laughed.

Fats turned back to Jake. “Is this your first time in a jail cell?”

“Yes, I’ve never had the honor before,” Jake replied.

“I wish I could say the same,” Mad Dog said.

“No shit,” added Fats.

“Don’t let them bully you into saying anything,” Mad Dog said. “That’s the kind of shit they try.”

“Yeah, I just experienced the good cop, bad cop shit,” Jake said.

“They try that bullshit all the time,” Fats said, nodding his head. “They think it will make you talk. Just make sure you wait until they give you a lawyer.”

“Thanks for the advice.”

Mad Dog and Fats turned around, walked back to the bench and resumed the conversation they were having when Jake entered the cell. Surprised and relieved, Jake lay back down on the bunk, trying to think about his next steps. He was sure happy he had decided to joke around with those guys because he wasn’t looking forward to fighting those two brutes. However, he would have if he needed to.

As he thought about why he was in the cell, he also thought about what he was going to do next. First, he needed to get out of this place which would probably be no easy task. Second, he needed to find Jackie and have her answer a lot of questions.

Those thoughts were the last things in his head as he drifted off to sleep.

Chapter 5

The next day, Jake was taken back into the same interview room. Tired from the lack of sleep, he was dragging a little. As Jake walked into the room, he noticed the two chairs that the detectives had used the day before were still there, but now there were two chairs on the far side of the table as well. Assuming the extra chair was for his lawyer, he was glad that he would have someone there with him this time.

He walked to his cold, hard chair, sat down and placed his hands on the table just like he did the day before. They had cuffed his hands when they were letting him out of the cell so the cuffs made a clanging noise when he set his hands on the table. As he sat there silently, he stared at the one-way mirror, knowing they were watching his every move.

Eventually, in walked Martin, Larsen and a woman who was carrying a briefcase. The woman was short, barely five feet tall. She was probably in her mid-fifties with short black hair with streaks of gray. Apparently, she wasn’t one of those women that colored her hair as she aged. Instead she was keeping it short as it was going gray. She was thirty pounds overweight which actually made her look bigger because of her height. Her glasses sat tightly on her pointed nose and her face was round which looked even rounder because of the short hair style. Jake stared at her for a second, trying to gauge how good a lawyer she was.

The lawyer walked over to him, placed her briefcase on the table. “My name is Linda Callahan and I’m your attorney.”

“I’m Jake Bryant.”

“I hope you haven’t said anything to them,” she said as she stuck her hand out.

Jake reached out to shake her hand. He had to move both hands because of the cuffs. Linda shook his hand with a strong grip. “The only thing I’ve told them is that I’m innocent and I was framed.”

“Good,” she replied then turned to Detective Martin. “I would like a moment with my client before we answer any questions.”

“You can have some time with him after the interview,” Larsen said.

Linda was ready to fight it but instead she said, “Fine, but if you’re not going to let me speak to him first, I’m going to severely limit what he answers.”

Jake smiled at how she stood up to the detective. This interview may be fun after all, he thought to himself. If nothing else, he was sure Larsen would have a much different demeanor than he had yesterday. If he didn’t, Jake was convinced that Linda would stop the questioning immediately.

Martin and Larsen pulled their chairs out. As they sat down they put several papers and folders on the table, apparently trying to make Jake and Linda think they had a lot of evidence. Looking at the folders, Jake hadn’t the faintest idea what was in them.

“Let’s get right to the point,” Martin said.

“I would like that,” Linda responded.

Martin ignored her comment. “We are deciding whether we should charge your client with the murder of Ron and Judy Darwin.”

“On what grounds?”

“We received a call early yesterday morning from a person that said they heard Mr. Bryant talking about killing the couple. According to the witness, Mr. Bryant also explained that he was going to use a knife to kill them. Later, we received a call from another witness that said someone matching Mr. Bryant’s description was seen in the vicinity of the Darwin’s house the night they were murdered.”

Linda was about ready to say something when Martin held up his hand signaling that he wasn’t finished. “We were issued a search warrant and went to Mr. Bryant’s motel room yesterday morning. We entered his room and performed a search of the premises. We also searched outside his motel room and found a bloody knife in the bushes below his window.

“You better release my client now,” Linda said as she stifled a laugh.

“Why would we do that?” Martin asked.

“Because I hope you have more than that. If that’s all you have, there isn’t enough to charge and hold my client,” responded the lawyer.

Martin was about to say something in response then stopped himself and looked at Linda and Jake. Gathering his thoughts, Martin said, “We’re not ready to charge you yet Jake. Do you mind if I call you Jake?”

“As a matter of fact I do mind. You can call me Mr. Bryant.”

Smiling at Jake’s attitude, Martin responded, “We would like to ask a few questions.”

“Fine,” Jake said.

Martin looked at Larsen and nodded his head to indicate that Larsen should now take over questioning. Larsen opened up a manila folder, took out several papers then reviewed one for a few seconds. He looked up and started asking his questions.

“Where were you born?” Larsen asked.

“Chicago, Illinois.”

“How old are you?”

“I’m twenty-three.”

“When’s your birthday?”

“October thirty-first.”

Larsen looked down at the paper in front of him then looked up. “We didn’t find any kind of identification in your room. Do you have anything that proves that you’re Jake Bryant? A driver's license, passport, social security number, anything?”


“Why not?”

“I never felt I needed one.”

“That’s a little unusual, wouldn’t you say?”

Jake shrugged his shoulders. “Last time I checked, it’s not against the law.”

“You’re right it’s not against the law. However, it’s just strange there is no record of you anywhere. How do you get a job?”

“I just work odd jobs here and there,” Jake said.

“Do you panhandle?”

“No, I don’t beg for money. I like to earn my money like any other citizen.”

“So you don’t pay taxes?” Larsen pointed out. “That is against the law.”

Jake shrugged, deciding not to respond to that comment. They got him there and he had walked right into that one. He was going to have to be a little more careful with his answers. “Are you going to bust me for tax evasion?”

Are, you’re a drifter?” Larsen asked, ignoring Jake’s question.

“I’m not sure I would call myself a drifter.”

“Then what would you call yourself?”

“I just like living in different places so I can experience different things.”

“It sounds like you’re a drifter to me.”

“As far as I know, there’s no law against that either,” Jake said sarcastically.

Larsen looked at Martin and closed his folder. It was clear the introductory questions were asked and answered. Jake could tell that Martin was going to lead the next set of questions. “Jake, where were you the night before last?” Martin asked.

Jake looked at Linda. She nodded. “I was out all night having dinner and drinks with a girl I know.”

“What’s her name?” Martin asked.

“Jackie Black.”

“Where does she live?”

“I don’t know.”

“Where does she work?”

“I don’t know.”

“What’s her phone number?”

Jake recited her cell phone number and Martin took out a pen and notebook, writing the information down. After he wrote down her phone number, he looked up. “How long have you known her?”

“We met a week ago.”

“You’ve been dating for a week and you don’t know where she lives or works? That doesn’t sound right.”

“We just met last week in a bar. She usually comes over to my motel room.”

“You were with her all night?” Martin asked.

“From what I remember, we were together all night. We went to a bar in the Old Market then came back to my motel. When I woke up in the morning she was gone.”

“What do you mean when you say from what you remember? Were you drunk?”

“I don’t think so. I never have more than a couple of beers so I wouldn’t have been drunk.”

“Do you think you were drugged?” Martin asked.

“That’s exactly what I think happened. I don’t remember anything about that night.”

“Can she confirm that she was with you all night?”

“You’ll have to ask here that. As I said, I don’t remember anything so I’m not sure if she will confirm it or not.”

“Okay, we’ll check with Jackie and see if she confirms that she was with you all night,” Martin replied. “How do you explain the fact that you have a bloody knife outside your room?”

“Don’t answer that Jake,” Linda said to Jake as she turned to Martin. “That knife could belong to anyone that was staying in the motel. Or someone could have driven to the motel, got out of their car, walked to that spot and threw the knife.”

“It sure is a coincidence that it was outside of Mr. Bryant’s room,” Martin responded.

“Unless it has his prints on it, you can’t prove the knife is his. Are my client’s prints on the knife?”

“We’ll get to that later,” Martin answered, not wanting to divulge that information.

“There was also a bloody hand towel outside of Mr. Bryant’s room.”

“Again, that could have come from anyone,” Linda replied.

“That’s true, but Jake’s room is missing a hand towel,” countered Martin.

“He could have accidentally thrown it away. Do you have proof that it was from his room?” she asked.

Martin didn’t answer. “What’s your next question?” she asked.

Martin looked at Jake then Linda, pulled out a piece of paper, scanning it closely and pausing for effect. “We ran Mr. Bryant’s prints from the motel room. Do you want to guess what we found?”

Linda looked worried now, waiting for Martin to drop the hammer that would make her client look bad. “I’m sure you’re going to tell us.”

“Apparently, Mr. Bryant is connected to several murders in Seattle. There is even an eye-witness to the murders who gave her version of the events to the police officers.”

“What are you talking about?” Linda asked. “What murders?”

“We know you’re a killer,” Martin said as he stared at Jake. “Just tell us why you killed the Darwin’s?”

“Don’t answer that,” Linda said.

Jake held up a hand and said, “It's okay. I’ll answer it.”

She protested. “Jake, you don’t have to answer that,” she said, not wanting him to incriminate himself.

“It’s fine. First of all, I didn’t kill the Darwin’s and you have no proof that says otherwise. Second of all, has there been murder charges filed against me in Seattle? Is there a warrant for my arrest?”

“We’re the ones asking the questions,” Larsen said. “Not you!”

Already knowing the answer, Jake dismissed Larsen’s comments. Jake had followed up on the news in Seattle by going to computers in various libraries. He was able to read the news online and there were several articles about what happened. He knew he wasn’t wanted for murder. The Seattle police said the case was closed so Jake knew they weren’t pursuing him.

“I would like an answer as well,” said Linda. “Are there murder charges filed against my client?”

Martin seemed like he didn’t want to answer. “I assume your lack of answer means my client hasn’t been charged with murder in Seattle?”

“There was an eyewitness to the murders,” Martin said.

“Were there murder charges filed?” she asked again, insisting to know.

Martin pointed a finger at Jake and said, “His girlfriend saw him kill those men. Not only that, but there were more murders at a residence and he may be linked to those too.”

Linda looked at Jake with her mouth slightly open. “Can we have a couple of minutes to talk?” Jake asked Linda.

“Please give us a few minutes to talk or else the questioning stops,” Linda stated to the detectives.

Reluctantly, Martin and Larsen gathered up their papers and walked out of the interview room. “What happened?” Linda whispered as she leaned in close, making sure what was said couldn’t be heard by anyone behind the one-way mirror.

“No matter what I say, I’m covered by attorney-client privilege, correct,” Jake asked.

“That is correct. No matter what you tell me, it can’t go any further than us.”

Jake leaned close to Linda and whispered in Linda’s ear, afraid that the cops were listening or recording the conversation. Giving a brief overview of what happened, Jake said he did kill them, but it was in self-defense. They were trying to kill Jake and his girlfriend and he had no other choice. He left out the fact that his girlfriend killed one of them. He saw no reason to drag her into it. He said he didn’t know anything about the other murders they were talking about.

In reality, Jake did know something about the other two murders. He actually did commit those murders, but he didn’t tell his attorney because the cops wouldn’t classify those as self-defense. He thought, planned and acted on those murders so the cops would say they were premeditated and there was no doubt in his mind he would be charged with first degree murder. In his mind, he had no choice but to commit those murders or else they would have hunted Jake and his girlfriend until they were dead. He covered his tracks well and knew the cops would never be able to pin the murders on Jake. But Linda didn’t need to know all of that.

Linda asked Jake a couple of questions, listened to Jake’s answers and nodded her head. She wasn’t worried about what Jake had told her. Once she had heard everything she needed to, she motioned at the mirror that the cops could come back in the room.

Martin came back into the room, taking a seat in the chair he occupied before. While Jake was wondering why Larsen hadn’t come back with Martin, Linda immediately said, “I’m sure the reason the Seattle Police Department hasn’t charged my client is because they are considering it to be self-defense. We will not discuss the events that took place in Seattle because they have no bearing on the unfortunate murders that took place the night before last, which my client did not commit.”

“It shows that Mr. Bryant is capable of murder,” Martin said. “He’s a drifter with no way to prove who he is. He has no alibi for the night in question.”

Linda interrupted Martin before he could finish. “He does have an alibi, however you haven’t confirmed it yet.”

“Well, I’m sure the blood on the knife will show that it belonged to either Mr. or Mrs. Darwin.”

“You may be right,” Linda acknowledged. “It might belong to either Mr. or Mrs. Darwin. However, you still can’t prove that my client had anything to do with it.”

The questioning continued for another thirty minutes then Larsen walked into the room, sitting down in the empty chair. “What did you find out?” Martin asked.

“Mr. Bryant, there is no record of you ever living in Chicago,” Larsen said. “Can you explain that?”

“I already told you I don’t have any identification to prove to you who I am. I was born and raised in Chicago. I can assure you that I am Jake Bryant.”

“Do you have any relatives that can confirm your identity?”

“My parents died when I was very young. I was left to fend for myself since I didn’t have any relatives, at least none that I knew of and certainly none that claimed me or helped me. I was shuffled from place to place. Once I was older, I just lived on the street. I worked odd jobs to make enough money to leave Chicago and ended up in Seattle last year. After Seattle, I spent time in Minneapolis until about two months ago. That’s my life in a nutshell.”

Jake had left out a few important facts. His father had left him and his mother when Jake was five. Jake never did find out why his father had left. His mom was heavily into drugs and abandoned Jake shortly thereafter. He hadn’t seen either of them since then and assumed they were either in jail or dead. Either way he didn’t care anymore because he had put that part of his life in the past.

He spent the next several years bouncing from foster home to foster home. He always seemed to get into trouble and was constantly kicked out of schools so it was difficult for the foster families to keep him in their house. He knew that and didn’t have any hard feelings over it. He would have done the same thing if he had been in their situation.

Jake wasn’t surprised they couldn’t find anything about him. First of all, Jake Bryant was just an alias so they would never find any record of a Jake Bryant in Chicago, at least nothing that would identify Jake. When he was eighteen, he had changed his name, unofficially. He figured a new name would represent a new life and he wanted to put his old life behind him.

Jake had been careful over the years to never have his fingerprints taken and he had never applied for anything so there was virtually no record of Jake Bryant. He supposed he could give them his real name which was Cody Stevens. That name would show up in the child welfare systems but he didn’t see the need to tell them that.

“Do you expect us to feel sorry for you?” Larsen asked after Jake had told them about his childhood.

“I really don’t give a shit if you do or not. You asked me to explain why there’s no record of me living in Chicago and I told you the story.”

“What were your parent’s names?” Martin asked.

“I don’t remember.”

“What do you mean you don’t remember?” Larsen asked. “Everyone knows their parent’s names.”

“I was five years old at the time. How much do you remember from when you were five?”

“And you had no relatives?”

“I already told you that nobody claimed me,” Jake answered. “So if I did have relatives, they didn’t want anything to do with me.”

“Isn’t it kind of convenient that everyone that knew you is dead?”

Jake shrugged his shoulders. “Not having anyone in my life isn’t convenient. Trust me when I say that I wish I did have a family.”

Martin and Larsen asked more personal questions. “My client has been very accommodating and has answered all your questions,” Linda said when she had heard enough. “I think it’s time for you to let him go. You have no evidence that he committed the murders so I demand that you let him go.”

“We have a witness that saw him walking out of the Darwin’s house early this morning and we have a witness that saw Jake with the knife.”

Linda gave a slight smirk then looked questioningly at Jake, wondering if she should be worried. He could tell she was worried so he shook his head no. “No they don’t,” he said, emphatically. “I guarantee they don’t have either of those witnesses.”

“Where are these witnesses?” Linda asked. “Have they picked Jake out of a lineup?”

Martin and Larsen looked at each other then back at Linda, not saying anything. “You don’t have enough to keep my client. You need to release him immediately.”

“Not until we get the lab results back from the blood on the knife and we have confirmed Mr. Bryant’s alibi,” Martin responded. “For now, we’re going to take him to the holding cell.”

“You can’t do that,” she protested. “You need to release him now.”

“As you’re well aware counselor we can keep him for up to forty-eight hours.”

“It’s okay,” Jake said. “It’s already been a day and another day won’t bother me.”

Linda knew the detective was within his right to hold Jake. “You’ll be out of here soon enough,” Linda said.

“It’s no problem. I get three good meals a day which is better than what I’m used to.”

“I want to be called as soon as the lab results come back,” she said to Martin. “When they come back negative I want my client released immediately.”

“I’ll come back after they find Jackie,” she told Jake. “Hopefully, by that time the lab results from the blood on the knife have come back.”

Jake nodded, smiled and shook her hand. “Thanks, I appreciate your help.”

They all stood up and filed out of the interview room. The two detectives led Jake through the hallway and down the stairs to the holding cell, not using the elevators this time. Martin unlocked Jake’s handcuffs and the cop on duty opened the cell, stepping to the side to allow Jake to enter.

“We will get you for the murders,” Larsen said.

“That’s going to be very difficult since I didn’t commit them.”

“Yeah, this is the first time I’ve ever heard someone say they’re innocent,” Larsen replied.

“You really are an asshole.”

Before Larsen could say anything else, Jake turned around and walked over to an empty cot then sat down. The guard slammed the gate then walked back to his desk, pulling out a magazine to read as the two detectives left the area not feeling very confident that they had enough evidence to prove that Jake committed the murders.

Jake knew as soon as he was released from jail, he was going to do everything in his power to find the murderers and make them pay.

Chapter 6

The next day, Detective Martin and Detective Larsen were in the squad room talking about the case against Jake, reviewing everything that had come in during the weekend. Martin had hoped they would find some other evidence that linked Jake to the crimes but nothing was found.

They had kept Jake locked up through the weekend hoping something would come in that would give them cause to arrest him, but to their displeasure there wasn’t any evidence that would indicate Jake committed the horrific murders from two nights ago. Now that it was Monday morning, they were going to have to either arrest him or release him. They couldn’t keep him locked up any longer.

Martin was sipping a cup of strong coffee from a Styrofoam cup and eating a bagel as he looked through papers on his desk. Larsen was also staring at a pile of papers on his desk as he noticed the Captain walked through the doors dressed in his blue uniform, heavy with starch.

“Good morning Captain,” Larsen said.

“What’s the latest on the serial killings?” the Captain asked, getting right to the point.

Shaking his head in disgust, Martin said, “The blood on the knife is definitely from Mr. and Mrs. Darwin.”

“That’s good,” the Captain replied. “Can you prove the knife belongs to Bryant?”

“No. The knife had been wiped clean so there were no fingerprints.”

“What about the hand towel that had been thrown out the window?” Did they run the blood from the rag?”

“The blood from the rag was also confirmed to come from the victims,” Martin answered.

“Are we sure it came from Bryant’s room?”

“I certainly think it did, considering he was missing a hand towel, but there’s no way to prove it.”

“Has the autopsy been completed?” the Captain asked, disappointed at what he was hearing.

“No, it won’t be done for another couple of days,” replied Martin.

“I think it’s safe to assume the knife is the murder weapon,” said Larsen as he took another bite of his bagel.

“I agree, but we do need that confirmed,” Martin added. “Either way it won’t help our case against Bryant.”

“Everything sure points to Jake as the murderer,” Larsen replied.

“The problem is that the weapon was found in the grass outside of the motel,” Martin said. “There were no prints on it so there’s no way to prove that Bryant had the knife. The lawyer was right; technically it could have been dumped there by anyone driving by the motel.”

“It’s a big coincidence that the knife and rag were next to his room.”

“I agree, but there certainly isn’t enough evidence to prove it was him.”

The Captain thought about what they were saying. It was circumstantial evidence, at best. “What about the witnesses?” the Captain asked.

“Both of them were anonymous,” Martin answered. “Neither of them has come forward and identified themselves. The male witness that called said he saw someone that matched Jake’s description. He didn’t leave his name or number and he used a throwaway phone. The woman witness said she saw Jake with a knife and also used a throwaway phone.”

“As much as I hate to say this, it does seem very suspicious,” Larsen said. “It certainly doesn’t look good.”

“No, it doesn’t,” the Captain agreed. “In my opinion it sure looks like they’re trying to set Mr. Bryant up.”

“I agree, we’re going to need to release him,” Martin replied.

“Yes, but I still want you guys to keep an eye on him,” the Captain said.

“For how long?” Larsen asked.

“I don’t know. There’s just something about that guy that I can’t put my finger on. So, you two are going to tail him to see where he goes.”

“Sure, no problem. So you think he committed those murders?”

“I don’t know,” the Captain answered. “I just don’t trust him. Nobody lives completely off the grid the way he does unless they’re hiding something. We can’t confirm who he is or where he came from. We know he was involved in killing some people up in Seattle.”

“But they were cop killers,” Larsen said. “I’m glad he killed them.”

“I am too,” said Martin. “He did everyone a favor by taking care of them.”

The Captain gave both of them a stern look. “Don’t let anyone hear you say that. We can’t condone killing of any kind.”

Martin and Larsen both nodded. “If you look at him, it looks like he has no remorse for killing them,” Martin responded.

“So given what we do know about him, do you think he committed the murders here?” the Captain asked.

“I don’t know if he actually committed the murders,” Martin said. “Maybe he was working with someone else to rob the Darwin’s. Maybe it’s the two anonymous callers. Maybe they turned him in so they could keep more of the money and hopefully end our investigation.”

“That is a lot of maybes.”

Martin was frustrated. He thought he finally had a break in the investigation of all these killings and now he had to let Jake go. He had a feeling they hadn’t seen the last of the killings. Whoever was committing them showed no signs of stopping. In fact, it looked like the frequency of the killings was increasing and that’s what worried Martin the most.

“Call his lawyer and tell her to come down here,” Martin told Larsen.

Nodding, Larsen went to his desk, made the call then came back to where Martin was standing. “She’ll be here soon,” he said.

“We just need to make sure we keep an eye on him,” the Captain reiterated. “I think he will lead us to the man and woman that called.”

“What if he isn’t involved in any of this?” Larsen asked. “Then we’ll just be wasting our time watching him.”

Martin shook his head, took another sip of his coffee and said, “If he’s not involved then I think whoever is involved will either find him or try something else to frame him. They went to the trouble of planting a knife so they may try something again.”

“I agree,” the Captain said.

“Meanwhile, whoever is behind the killings will probably continue the killing spree,” Larsen stated.

None of them said anything, not wanting to even think about that. A few seconds later, the phone rang and Martin picked up. “Yeah.”

He listened for a few seconds. “Okay, we’ll be right there.”

Hanging up the phone, he turned to Larsen. “The lawyer is here. Let’s go.”

Chapter 7

Jake was led back to the same interview room that he was in before. He saw there were four chairs around the table so he figured his lawyer would be joining them. In fact, it looked like the furniture was in the exact same positions as it was when he left, making him wonder if anyone else had even used the room since then

He knew this morning was going to determine whether he was charged with murder or if he was going to be released. He hoped for the best as he walked over to the same chair he sat in before. Jake pulled out the chair and took his seat, waiting patiently for everyone else to join him.

As he sat there waiting, he noticed that things were different this time. They didn’t have handcuffs on this time which either they forgot or they weren’t needed. He doubted the cops would forget the handcuffs so he figured they weren’t needed. He took that as a good sign that he was going to be released.

The door opened as the two detectives and his attorney walked in. “How are you doing Jake?” Linda asked after she entered the room.

“Just fine.”

“Did they treat you well?”

“It wasn’t too bad,” Jake said. “They only beat me three times while I was in here.”

“They what?” she exclaimed.

“We never did any such thing,” Martin said, trying to defend the department.

“I’m just kidding,” Jake said as he laughed. “I’m just yanking your chain.”

Martin and Larsen weren’t happy with Jake’s little joke. Linda on the other hand was laughing. “I’m sorry you had to spend the weekend in jail,” she said, after settling back down.

“I can’t complain about the accommodations,” he replied with a smile. “They gave me three meals and a place to sleep. I’ve definitely been in worse places.”

Martin and Larsen weren’t amused by Jake’s comments, but Linda gave Jake a big smile as she walked over to the chair next to him. Everyone sat down, Martin and Larsen placed their manila folders on the table. Martin placed his hands on the table, interlocking his fingers while Larsen leaned back and folded his arms.

Linda sat there, waiting for them to say something but when they didn’t say anything, she started getting impatient. “You better have more evidence if you’re keeping my client locked up,” she demanded. “Otherwise, you need to release him immediately.”

“We’re releasing him,” Martin said.


“As soon as we’re done here, he is free to leave,” Martin answered.

“It’s about time.”

“By the way, just because we’re releasing him doesn’t mean we don’t suspect him of the murders of the Darwin’s, Strasburgh’s and Hansen’s,” Larsen added. “We still think he may be involved.”

“Wait a minute; you never said anything about the other murders. I’m assuming you have no evidence that implicates my client in the other murders or you would have said something before now.”

Martin and Larsen ignored her. “We tried to get in touch with Jackie Black and there is nobody in Omaha with that name that matches the description you gave us,” Martin said. “There’s a Jacqueline Black but she’s sixty-three years old and I’m guessing she’s not the one you were dating.”

Jake nodded his head, not surprised to learn this information. He had assumed she wasn’t who she said she was. “There is one more thing I want to ask you,” Martin said. “When they searched your motel room, the officers found three thousand dollars in cash.”

* * *


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