DARK THRILLERS-A Box Set of Suspense Novels

BOOK: DARK THRILLERS-A Box Set of Suspense Novels
9.1Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


A Box Set





Copyright Billie Sue Mosiman 2012

Table of Contents:





(Bonus-first chapters)

Bad Trip South


Billie Sue Mosiman

First Published by Five Star Press, 2004, Copyright Billie Sue Mosiman

E-book Copyright 2011 Billie Sue Mosiman

Createspace Edition Copyright 2012 Billie Sue Mosiman

Lament for Long Tom

At the piping of all hands,

When the judgment signal’s spread—

When the islands and the lands

And the seas give up their dead,

And the South and North shall come;

When the sinner is dismayed,

And the just man is afraid,

Then Heaven be thy aid, Poor Tom.

John Gardiner Calkins Brainard (1795–1828)

THE thunder of gunfire filled the weeded area between the abandoned, unpainted house and the line of half a dozen patrol cars. Windows in the house cracked and blew inwards with ear-shattering concussions.

Suddenly the door opened and a little girl came running from the house toward the police cars. She was screaming, her legs pumping, and dark hair flying. Both her arms rotated like pinwheels and from deep in her little chest issued a silent scream. She looked like a ragged street child thrown on the mercy of chance.

All around her the gunfire exploded with shots coming from both directions, from behind and in front. Miraculously none of the bullets struck her as she rushed forward, her eyes wide in terror and spittle flying from her lips.

She ran until she collapsed into the arms of a man who stepped from cover behind a car where he’d been hunched. He caught her, stumbling back when she barreled directly into his extended arms. He threw her down to the ground behind the trunk of his car.

An order of “Cease fire!” had been called out and yet was not obeyed as soon as she appeared. Now that the child had crossed through Hell and survived it, the gunshots halted. That is, they stopped except for the shots coming from the house where someone at a broken window shouted something unintelligible and fired a handgun over and over, the single shots ringing and echoing loudly up into the cold blue Texas sky, drowning out the little girl’s sobbing...


"CAN you tell me what happened?" The policeman--a psychologist, he said, a very special kind of policeman--sat back in his chair and took a drag on his cigarette. He squinted one eye as smoke coiled lazily past his brow.

I kept glancing around and fidgeting in my chair just like I always did in the doctor's office when I was a little kid. Only this wasn't a doctor's office and this wasn't my hometown. And the man at the desk wasn't going to give me a magic shot to make it all right.

I was used to a little town and a little reception area where the sheriff sat behind his desk reading Burpee seed catalogs and
Field and Stream
. Nothing like this place.

Outside the office I could hear the noise of the station where at least a dozen people worked. There were policemen answering telephones, lawyers talking to people who had been arrested, illegal aliens pleading in their own language, and, out on the street, the whole city making noises like a country band I'd seen once up on the platform in the gazebo in the middle of our town. They had a tambourine player, a man on a washboard, a drummer, banjo and guitar players. That band and this place made me want to put my hands up to flip down my ears and press them hard against the side of my head to make the sounds go away.

It wasn't the policeman’s fault. All the noise. He didn't know how nervous it made me. I liked him a lot. Although he said he’d worked with my daddy back in North Carolina, this was the first time I’d ever met him. Who would have thought he’d be all the way down here in Brownsville, Texas? But then who would have thought I’d be here either? I could tell he was sorry about everything and how I had to talk to him.

He looked like Captain Kangaroo, but a lot younger. Bushy gray eyebrows stuck out over his eyes and his face was round, his mouth about to break into a smile, but didn't quite. His eyes didn't match his face. They were the kind of eyes Daddy got when he had a suspect in his squad car, questioning him. Real serious. No fun. Fun was a long way off from eyes like that.

This man had been a police psychologist a long time, I could tell. He was probably more of a policeman than he was anything else, sort of like my Daddy was in the beginning, back when I was a really little kid.

I locked my hands together so I wouldn't bend down my ears, and asked, "Where do you want me to start?"

He took the cigarette from his lips between thumb and forefinger, like hoody boys do on TV shows, and waved it in semi-circles toward me. "How about from the beginning? I have plenty of time, little lady."

I tried to smile because he was trying to be nice, but I wasn't a lady yet. Mama's a lady. You have to be over twenty years old to be a lady and I'm only ten.

He was waiting for me to say something, though, so I told him...

...when Daddy turned into the parking lot for the Long Horn Caverns outside of St. Louis, I knew he was only doing it for Mom and me. To make up for the fight they’d had outside of Memphis where Mom let slip what she planned to do after our trip. She was taking me to Grand's and moving out for good. She was divorcing him.

I knew that already so I wasn't surprised, but when she said it to Daddy, his voice got deep scratchy, like one of those old record albums Mama let me have. I wasn't surprised because I'd heard her talking to Grand when I was supposed to be packing for the trip the week we left North Carolina. Then Mama caught me eavesdropping and set me down for a talk. I knew it was really serious when we had to have a talk. Parents don’t take much time with kids with for real, grown-up conversations, unless it’s serious.

I was kind of relieved after I tiptoed to the doorway and listened. I'm going to miss Daddy, I thought, but we have to get out before something terrible happens.

It was really hot that day in the car, driving into where the big parking lot for the Long Horn Caverns. So hot the air conditioner on our new car Daddy had just bought couldn't cool us down.

I paused, looking at the nice psychologist. "It's a long story,” I said. "Are you sure I should tell you everything?"

He waved me on again. He'd lit another cigarette. I don't mind cigarette smoke. Most kids do, they make a big deal of it, coughing and stuff, but I'm used to it. It makes me feel at home. Daddy smoked Kent, the long skinny ones, before he quit when I was eight. I still sort of missed the smell. I knew when he was in the house when he used to smoke. I could detect him without hearing his voice or his heavy footsteps.

Anyway, Daddy drove into the Long Horn Caverns’ entrance and said, "You'll like this, Em." He turned off the ignition and almost instantly hot air from outside the car made the air inside feel stuffy and too close. He'd parked in front of the caverns and now opened his car door. Then the heat outside whooshed inside in one big heavy wave that smacked me right in the face.

I'd like anything better than sitting in the car where it was so ugly quiet, them not speaking to one another. Mama never talked back to him. If she did, the ugly quiet turned to screaming and hitting. Daddy hitting her.

I could smell something awful burning when they fought, like plastic or rubber, but I knew it was my imagination. Nothing was burning but the two people in the front seat. Daddy had been bad for a long time. He hadn't raised a hand to me, but he'd hurt Mom more than once. It was hard loving him. I think some grown people are real hard to love even when you're supposed to and you want to.

"You know what I mean?" I asked the nice psychologist.

He said he knew. He knew that for sure. And he added, "Even when you get grown up, sometimes it's hard to love people when you think you should."

I wanted to think about that. No one had ever told me that secret before about grown ups. But he was waving me on so I put my head back against the chair and looked up at the ceiling until I could see the caverns again, that cool, dark entrance in the side of the hill. All I could think about that day was how cool it must be underground and how fast I wanted us to walk through the boiling sunlight to get down there in the caves.

As soon as I was out on the scorching parking lot, shading my eyes to see the promise of the cool caves ahead, I noticed that man.


They called him Scarecrow in prison, but that didn't fit him, he said, he wasn't like no old damn raggedy-butt suit hung out on a cross in a field. So we called him Crow.

He wore black, like a crow's feathers. I thought he ought to wear shirts, because he had a chest that showed his ribs, and it was too white, like bread dough, but that day he only had on a black leather vest over black denim jeans. His belt had a round polished brass buckle that glinted golden and shiny as a mirror.

He stood near the store entrance where you went to buy tickets for a tour of the caves. He watched us, not even moving a muscle. Just watching. I didn’t like his eyes at all. They kept secrets. They were thinking about something that wasn’t nice and it involved us.

Then, as we started across the parking lot to where he stood, a girl came out of the store and stood next to him. She slipped her arm around his waist and leaned on him. He didn't do much, just let her. He was still watching us, too busy to think of the girl.

She had on real short shorts, cut off blue jean shorts, and her legs were long and brown, like an Indian's. Her hair was long too, the color of wheat that goes dry in the fields. It hung straight down around her shoulders all the way to her waist. I thought she was way too pretty to like a skinny guy like Crow, but you could tell she really did like him. She was whispering in his ear when we got to the store and passed them by.

When we got closer, I didn't think the girl pretty anymore. She had something wrong with her mouth. One side of it pulled down so that she talked out the other side. Like old people, when they get sick and sit in wheelchairs and they can't lift one of their arms or move one of their legs. Only the girl could move her arms and legs. Her mouth was just funny. Almost scary, like a dream that's all crooked and doesn't make any sense, but you know it means something if you could only figure it out.

Mama and Daddy paid them no mind, but I stared at them hard. I did that because Crow had been staring at us and it's not polite to stare. He smelled like swamp water, though I might have been the only one to notice. He smelled like water sitting still in dark shade, with worms wiggling in it and dead frogs floating on top.

I think he hissed when we went through the door, but no one heard it but me. I might have imagined that too, the same as the smells. And I thought I heard him whisper, "They're the ones."

Or maybe he didn't say it; I just read his mind. I don't...you know...expect you’ll understand this—or believe me. But it’s true. I just seem to know what people are thinking. I’ve never figured out why other people don't know how to do it because it seems easy. You just look someone in the eye and you can nearly tell what's in his head. Even when a person doesn't want you to know.

BOOK: DARK THRILLERS-A Box Set of Suspense Novels
9.1Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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