Eyes in Headlights E2

Novella Miniseries · Possible Cameo with Login


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By Kevin RR Williams

The Smartphone


Dan receives a late-night phone call after leaving a crime scene. It’s from someone familiar to him.

“I promised to call and make sure you got home okay. It sounds like you arrived safely,” says Fred, the client.

“Oh yeah, I forgot. Yes, I’m at home. Thanks for calling. We’ll talk again soon.”

“Sure, I’m going to bed now.”

“Same here. Thanks again. Goodbye.”

Dan goes upstairs to examine his clothes further and take a shower. There is blood on his shirt sleeves. He decides to burn all his clothing and socks in the fireplace. So, he carries them downstairs and uses them as kindling. Then he goes back upstairs to get into the shower before putting on his pajamas. He falls asleep on his bed without getting under the covers.

In the morning, he wonders how much of what he remembers was a bad dream. Downstairs he smells the remnants of a fire with the acrid smell of burnt plastic buttons, and rubber sandals. After sweeping up the ashes, he tosses them into the trash bin outside. His phone has several text messages asking where he is. At 11:15 in the morning, he has missed all his early appointments.

The Recording

Dan phones his secretary to say he won’t be in until 2:00 in the afternoon and to cancel any remaining appointments for the day. While driving to the office, he remembers the dictation to the cloud from the prior evening.

His secretary usually retrieves them to type emails and put appointments on his calendar. He can’t remember how much was audible, but something incriminating is there. It picked up the screeching tires, the impact, and him dragging the body.

At the office, Dan tells the valet to have his car detailed. When he gets inside the building, he calls his secretary to his office and asks if she has completed the dictation. She replies, “You mentioned a couple of appointments. Before finishing the second one, there was a long pause and then some odd sounds and unrelated sentences.”

“I figured that dictation may have been garbled. The client interrupted me at the restaurant. There was a movie playing in the bar. The distractions corrupted the dictation. Just delete that recording from the server for me,” Dan instructs.

“All right, sir,” Susan replies with askance, since the shouts were clearly Dan’s. The horn honking and tires braking were in the foreground. She decides to save a personal copy of the recording.

Dan updates his coworkers on the successful business dinner. They begin making plans for a large order of pharmaceuticals.

The Body

Checking the local news on his computer, Dan sees Officer Frank Jacobs telling reporters, “We are investigating the suspicious death of a John Doe found on the side of a rural road. The situation is fluid.”

Detective Megan Anthony investigates the scene. “This area has been compromised, not only by the rain. Someone dragged the body off the road.”

“Do you think it was a Good Samaritan?” asks Officer Jacobs.

“If he was all that ‘good,’ why didn’t he phone 911?” Megan replies.

“Maybe he didn’t have cellphone reception,” Jacobs suggests.

“For two days? He should have reported it by now,” reasons Megan. “Take a look at the point of impact. Tire tracks swerve back and forth before hitting the victim.

“Though compromised by the downpour, there appears to be some blood spatter. Fifty feet later, the body lands here. Someone drags it away. Even more curious are these iridescent splashes where the water beads up. It’s as though someone did an amateur job of cleaning the scene.”

“What chemical do you think this is?” asks Jacobs.

“If I had to venture a guess, I’d say something found in a trunk—perhaps antifreeze or break fluid. I’ll have the crime lab confirm,” Anthony says. “Get some castings of the footprints in the grass!” Megan tells officers gathering evidence. “Photograph and bag anything suspicious.”

“Take a look over here where the skid marks end,” Jacobs shouts.

Kneeling down close to the pavement, Megan says, “It looks like faint bloody footprints. At sunset, I want this entire area photographed under blacklight.”

“Why do you think the victim was out here in the first place?” Jacobs asks.

“That is a question that deserves an answer. The driver’s license is obviously fake. The address on it is a vacant lot. There are no buildings near here for 10 miles, yet the victim was on foot… expand the search perimeter another 100 yards,” Anthony instructs a dozen other officers processing the scene.

A policeman discovers some pieces of rope about 20 yards from the body and more 10 yards away. Between the two locations is a shoe that matches the one John Doe is wearing. The findings are photographed and bagged.

Detective Anthony allows the coroner to take the body but advises, “I need a full report as soon as possible… and see if there is evidence of restraints on the victim’s wrists or ankles.”

“All cases are rush. I’ll get on this one right away though,” the coroner replies.

The Concerns

Dan is unproductive at work because of the distractions from the prior night. So at 6 o’clock in the evening, he clocks out. When the valet brings his car, he examines the cleaning carefully, inside and out, before tipping.

On the way home, Dan begins doubting whether he thoroughly rinsed the blood down the drain at the car wash. Perhaps someone else used the stall since then. Maybe not.

He drives back to the self-car wash to look. No one is using the same stall. He parks, walks over to it with his head down, puts money into the machine, and sprays the area with the high-pressure hose.

Someone from the next stall, who apparently saw him walking up, shouts, “It cleans better when you drive your car into the stall!”

Not wanting to engage in conversation, Dan stops spraying without a reply. As the stranger looks on, he walks back to his exotic car and drives to the dealership to replace the broken headlamp.


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