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Authors: KM Rockwood

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We were just about finishing the second book when the front door swung open.

Kelly stood there, leaning against the doorframe and looking pale.

I sat frozen in astonishment and guilt.

“Mom!” Brianna cried, slipping off the sofa and rushing to her. She grabbed her mother’s leg. Kelly swayed precariously.

I leapt to my feet, rushed over and grabbed Kelly to keep her from falling.

“What the hell are
you
doing here?” Kelly said to me, her words slurred.

I started to say I could have asked her the same thing, but after all she
lived
here. It was her house.

Leaning heavily on me, she made her way to the sofa and collapsed on it. The front door hung open behind us.

“Are you okay, Mom?” Chris asked, his eyes and voice panicky.

“No,” she said.

The kids looked stricken.

“But I’m gonna be,” she added.

“What happened?” Brianna asked.

“Damn rehab.” Kelly struggled to sit upright. “Didn’t do a damn thing for me. No exercise plan or nothing. Just wanted to give me drugs and have me stay in bed. Didn’t pay no attention to nothing I said.”

“How’d you get here from there?” I asked.

Her eyes were bloodshot, and she was still slurring her words. A thread of spittle drooled from the corner of her mouth. “Signed myself out. Took a cab. Cost me better’n forty bucks.”

I looked at her in alarm. “Was that a good idea?”

“I don’t care.” She rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand. “We talked about no sleeping pills. They make me all groggy and sick, and I can’t think straight. But they
don’t
make me sleep. So they stopped giving them to me at the hospital. The rehab was supposed to get all the hospital records and do the same medication regime. So when they gave me some pills, I took them. And I didn’t find out one was a sleeping pill until it was too late.”

A chill wind blew through the open front door. I went over and shut it. “You want a cup of coffee or something?” I asked, remembering the instant in the pantry.

“No. I got to get to bed. I
know
that when I finally fall asleep I’m gonna sleep for fifteen hours and be sick when I wake up. But I need to sleep.”

“Then let’s get you up to bed,” I said, glad we’d changed the sheets.

She peered at the kids. “I thought you were at your grandmother’s. With Dad and Aunt Louise.”

Clutching his book, Chris said, “Aunt Louise fell. And she went to the hospital.”

“Chris had to call 9-1-1,” Brianna chimed in. “An ambulance came. With its siren.”

“Then when Dad came home, he said it was time for us to come stay with you.”

“But there was nobody home, so we drove around for a while until there were lights on. And Jesse was here.”

She looked up at me. “And
why
was Jesse here?”

I sighed. “Your dad gave me the key. Said he was taking off, and I had to come take care of the cats until you got out of rehab.”

Shaking her head, she said, “It’s way too late for you kids to be up. Let’s all get to bed.”

They looked at me. “Up to bed,” I said. “Mom’ll stop in to give good night kisses.”

Reluctantly, they obeyed.

Careful of her sore shoulder, I helped Kelly up. She couldn’t stand by herself. We inched up the stairs.

“I got to go to the bathroom,” Kelly said, bracing her hand on the wall at the top of the stairs. “Can you help me?”

That didn’t sound like something I wanted or ought to be doing, but I said, “I guess.”

Fortunately, she could pull down her own pants with one hand, and she just needed me to lower her onto the seat. I waited outside until she called me to help her stand up, and once again she could handle her own pants as long as I held onto her so she didn’t fall over.

Then I steadied her while she straightened Chris’s bedding and bent down to give him a kiss on his forehead. He looked so lonely and scared. I reached over and grabbed a teddy bear from the dresser and tucked it in next to him. He clutched it tightly, and his eyes thanked me wordlessly.

Brianna cried and threw her arms around her mother’s neck, which couldn’t be good for her shoulder, so Kelly sat down on the bed and stroked her back to help her relax. In a few short minutes, Brianna’s grip loosened, and she fell back on her pillow, asleep.

Kelly lurched to her feet and leaned heavily on me. We got to her bed, and she gingerly lay down. “I hate to ask you this, but could you get my shoes off?” she said.

Next to the request to help her go to the bathroom, pulling off the shoes was nothing. She was wearing a pair of loosely-tied sneakers. I unlaced them and pulled them off, then when she lay down, I tucked the covers around Kelly and moved to switch off the light.

“Wait a minute,” she said, her voice cracking.

“Yeah?”

“Where are you going?”

Good question. “I was gonna stay overnight and get the kids on the school bus in the morning, but you’re here now. So maybe I should just leave.”

“Afraid your little girlfriend’s gonna miss you?”

“Huh?”

“That sexy young blond you’ve been hanging around?”

“You mean Carissa?”

“If that’s her name.”

“She’s a reporter for the
Rothsburg Register
.”

“Pretty glamorous.”

“That’s not what I mean. She’s been trying to get a story.”

“About you?”

“Sometimes. But mostly about the Predators.”

“They wouldn’t be too happy about that.”

“True, that.”

“So you’re not seeing her?”

“Not as in going out with her. Besides, she’s got a boyfriend now.”

“Yeah? Anybody I know?”

I shook my head. “You know Detective Belkins?”

Kelly started to snort, but it turned into a painful cough. Finally she said, “You mean that plainclothes cop that’s been harassing you?”

I wasn’t sure ‘harassing’ was the right word, but she had the right cop. “Yeah. That one.”

“Unbelievable.”

“I was surprised myself.”

Kelly rolled over and shielded her eyes from the light. “But I guess it means she won’t be trying to get you in bed with her.”

I wasn’t so sure about that, but I was sure I wouldn’t be taking her up on it if she did offer.

“Then do you think you could stay overnight?” Kelly asked. “And get the kids off to school? I’m afraid I won’t be able to wake up in time.”

It would save me a cold, wet walk across town. And she might not be able to get the kids off herself in the morning. They shouldn’t be missing any more school if we could help it. “If you want me to,” I said. “But I thought you were mad at me.”

“I was. And I’m sorry. Turns out Black Rose was lying.”

“About me telling Razorback he could have a go at you?”

“Yeah. And about you screwing her.”

I couldn’t help but ask, “How’d you figure that out?”

“When they found Razorback’s body buried at that construction site.”

Montgomery had told me about that, but I wanted to know what she knew. And how she felt about it. “What do you mean?”

“Black Rose said he’d taken off when he realized he was gonna be picked up for rape. He’d managed to keep from getting in trouble for the last few years, but this was for sure gonna violate his parole.”

I nodded. Once someone makes the sex offenders’ registry, getting parole violated is pretty easy. Especially for new skin charges.

Kelly rubbed her shoulder. Her eyes looked heavy. “He knew he’d get locked up if he stuck around. If he survived when my dad found him. Or if he ever came back. So he cleaned out their bank account and planned to take off.”

“The money they’d been saving for new equipment?”

“Yeah. And their operating capital. That made Rose
really
mad.”

I was pretty sure I knew, but I asked, “So what did she do?”

Kelly looked up at me like I was stupid. “She
killed
him. And then she loaded his body on the trailer along with the backhoe and hauled it out to the construction site and buried it.”

I didn’t think Old Buckles had an opportunity to talk to Kelly about any of this before he took off. Had she figured that out on her own?

“If Black Rose’d had a better handle on how the storm water drainage was supposed to work, they’d probably never have found him. But the inspector had a fit when she saw how the contour was changed and insisted they redo it.”

She’d been talking to
someone.
“Who told you all that?”

“Li’l Mama. She was all bent out of shape. Black Rose has been her running buddy for years.”

“So that’s why he didn’t take his bike. It was still parked by the backhoe up at the excavating company lot.”

Kelly closed her eyes. “Yep. Black Rose tried to say he thought it was too conspicuous for him to ride if he was trying to avoid being arrested, but I’ve never known a biker who didn’t think he could outrun the law on his bike. At least for a while.”

I thought about Old Buckles on his trike. He had no illusions that it would be long before he was caught, but he rode it anyhow. “Your dad’s taken off,” I said.

She sighed. “I’m not surprised. It won’t be too long before they pick him. I actually think at this point in his life he’s more comfortable locked up. I’ll just put his trike in the garage and go visit him in prison every month. Like I’ve always done.” Her words slurring worse, and her eyes were drooping closed.

“If you can get to sleep, you’d better take advantage of it,” I said, reaching for the light switch again.

“You gonna be here when I wake up?” she asked. I could come up with so many reasons why that wouldn’t be a good idea. It wouldn’t be long before something else came up and she jumped to the worst possible conclusion about me. She still drank too much—I was being an enabler. The kids were beginning to care about me much too much. Odds were the whole thing wouldn’t work out long term between Kelly and me, and it would just hurt them that much more if I suddenly disappeared.

I looked at Kelly snuggled in her warm bed and thought about the times she’d invited me to share it. And about how it felt to fix supper for the kids and sit with them, reading stories at bedtime. Things I had no right to expect to ever happen in my life.

From down the hallway, Brianna’s voice called, “Jesse, my blankets came off! Can you come tuck me in again?”

Kelly was waiting for an answer. “I’ll be here if you want me to,” I said.

About the Author

KM Rockwood has a diverse background including working as a laborer in a steel fabrication plant, operating glass melters and related equipment in a fiberglass manufacturing facility, and supervising an inmate work crew in a large medium security state prison. These jobs, as well as work as a special education teacher in an alternative high school and a GED teacher in county detention facilities, provide most of the basis for novels and short stories.

Look for upcoming books in the Jesse Damon series, including: The Buried Biker, Sendoff for a Snitch, and Brothers in Crime.

www.kmrockwood.com

Table of Contents

Cover

Title Page

Copyright Information

Content Warning

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

About the Author

BOOK: Buried Biker
7.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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