CHAPTER SEVEN

“Jaz are you sure you should mix those together?” Hazel asked
“Sorry who is the chemistry genius here? Me or you?” Jasmine retorted slowly putting a drop of sodium hydroxide into an unknown chemical.
They were in the school’s chemistry lab. Jasmine was doing a project for a competitive scholarship. She had asked to use the school’s lab after school hours.
“So did you talk to Jeremiah?” Jasmine asked, swirling the contents of a flask.
“Yeah, he said John gave his statement and left.” Hazel replied. It got pretty intense though.”
“Sounds like John.” Jasmine said frowning at the contents of the flask. “I think I might have to start over.”
“What are you making, Meth?” Hazel said turning her nose.
“Ha ha very funny” Jasmine said as she poured the contents of the flask into a drain. “So where is Toni?”
“She has detention.” Hazel said texting on her phone. “Something about calling out a teacher.”
“Figures.” Jasmine said heating a liquid in a test tube over a bunsen burner. “Hazel you might want to take a step back.”
“From Toni?” Hazel asked her voice raised. “Look we have all done some pretty horrible things, punishing Toni for one mistake doesn’t change anything, Carla is still dead, hating Toni doesn’t bring her back. And if you know the whole story, you’d know Carla had known about it for months.”
Just then there was a tiny explosion, and white smoke came out of the test tube. Hazel choked, Jaz gave her some water.
“I meant take a step back from the table.” Jaz laughed. “I suspected that would happen.” She wiped the table. Hazel handed the bottle to Jaz.
“Yeah, silly me.” Hazel said averting her eyes from Jaz. There was a minute of silence.
“So, Carla knew about Toni and Tom, and she did nothing?” Jaz asked swirling the contents of the flask again.
“I don’t know.” Hazel said. “When I met her crying that night she just told me she had known for months.”
“Huh.” Jasmine looked at the flask contents again. The solution slowly turned pink. “That’s more like it.” she said pouring it into a beaker.
“Look would you put down your project for a moment?” Hazel said flinging her arms.
“Okay, okay I’m done anyway ” Jasmine laughed. “Look Hazel you have got a big heart, and you want to see the best in everyone, but sometimes I think people just use that against you. Carla was like you too, and now she is dead. Just don’t want to see you get hurt.” She finished.
Hazel was quiet for a moment. “I told Ben.”
“You told him what?” Jaz asked.
“What happened that night.” Hazel said.
“Why-”
“He was looking for you, he came by my house looking all tortured and-” she paused. “Look Jaz you just have to learn to forgive.”
“Yeah, I know” Jasmine sighed.
*   *  *

“Hey O’ Brian let me show you something” James said staring at the screen. Corbin walked over to James’s desk and stared at the screen. It was the video footage of the fairway gala.

“What am I supposed to be looking for?” Corbin asked

“Just watch.”

They watched as the guest moved around made niceties, Eric and Maria Stuart were talking to  Mayor Grant and his wife. Moraine Heathway was at the far end discussing with a man. There was a band playing, some of the guest were on the dance floor dancing, others just walked or stood around having conversations. There was nothing out of the ordinary.

“I don’t see anything” Corbin complained.

“Look now,” James pointed at the door on the right. A young blonde entered the room wearing a black dress, and carrying a small purse. She took a glass of champagne from a waiter, and looked around nervously.

“That’s Carla right?” Corbin asked.

“Yeah.” James replied. “Here comes the best part.”

A young man with dark hair walked across the room towards Carla. He bumped into her and her drink spilled all over him. They watched as she made apologetic gestures and attempted to wipe his clothes. The man turned slightly. It was Thomas Bridges.

“Bridges? Really? That’s who she was meeting?” Corbin said.

“I don’t think so” James said, as he watched Thomas draw Carla to the side and engaged in a frantic discussion with her.

“Then what was he doing there? That party is not exactly his scene.” Corbin said.

“I don’t know but you see hoe he is trying to dissuade Carla of something?” James said pointing to the two of them as Carla made to leave and Thomas was holding her back shaking his head. “I think he knows what Carla was there to do.”

“If the person she met was the killer,” Corbin started.

“Then Thomas knows who killed her.” James finished grimly. “Let’s ask him.”

An hour later they were sitting in front of Thomas Bridges in the interrogation room. He was watching the video with a blank expression on his face. When it was finished, James turned it off and faced him.

“So can you tell us what was going on in that video.” James asked

Thomas shrugged. “I don’t really know.”

“What do you mean?” Corbin asked. “You were telling her something what was it?”

“She was going to meet someone, I told her not to. Simple as that.” Thomas said.

“Who was she going to meet?” Corbin asked.

“I don’t know. She wouldn’t tell me” Thomas replied.

“What were you even doing there?” James asked.

“I was there to meet someone.” Thomas asked. “She asked me to meet her there.”

“Who was that?” Corbin asked.

“Moraine Heathway.” Thomas replied.

“What was it about?” Corbin asked

“None of your business.” Thomas replied. “And don’t even think of asking her, because as her client, she can’t divulge any information.”

“Why would you need a lawyer?” asked James. “Was this about your father?”

Thomas stared at him. “How do you even know about that?”

“We talked to your sister.”

“Yeah, well it wasn’t. It was about something else.” He said.

“Okay then let us get back to Carla.” James said. “Why did you not tell us about the gala when we spoke to you earlier?”

“It didn’t seem important.” Thomas said.

“Then why were you trying to stop her from meeting that person then.” James asked.

“Because she didn’t need to do that for me.” Thomas replied.

“Oh, so this was personal.” Corbin said.

Thomas sighed. “Okay I’m sure Ava already told you the whole story about how I stole some documents for Carla and got my Dad fired.”

“No, she told us it was the other way round.” Corbin said. “That Carla stole those documents not you.”

“Typical Ava. wants to blame Carla for everything.” Thomas said. “Look, Carla wanted some documents that her mother was filing. She just wanted to look at some names there.”

“Isn’t that illegal?”  James asked.

“Yes.” Thomas said. “Which is why I told her no. I was interning at her mom’s firm and it would have got me in trouble. But she begged and told me it was important.”

“So then you broke the law.” Corbin concluded.

“No.” Thomas said glaring at him. “I was making copies of the document and Carla happened to be there one of the papers slipped and she picked it up. My hands were full so I went to my dad’s office to drop the files I was holding and went back for the paper. Then she gave it to me.” Thomas finished.

“So, you broke the law.” James said.

“No I didn’t.” Thomas said. “I didn’t hand the document over to her.”

“Okay hotshot I get it.” Corbin grinned. “So then what happened?”

“Well, the file was confidential and when Moraine heard Carla had seen it, she got my dad fired for leaking confidential information.”

“What did your dad have to do with it?”

“He was the one who gave me the papers to copy. So when he was fired, I had to leave too.”

“How did Moraine find out?” Corbin asked.

“I don’t know.” Thomas said. “It was all my fault, I shouldn’t have agreed to it. I just felt guilty.”

“About lying to Carla about Toni?” James asked.

“How do you know that?” Thomas asked.

“I am not blind” James replied. “So what was Carla going to do?”

“With the papers? I don’t know”

“I mean at the party” James said.

“Oh, when I saw her and asked her what she was doing there, she told me she was going to make it right, that she was going to fix what happened. So I told her not to bother he had done enough.”

“By setting you up in the apartment, and helping you get on your feet.” James concluded. “Now It makes sense.”

“Yeah. But she was so adamant, she was like it isn’t just for me. That it is for everyone. So I let her go.” Thomas said.

“Did you see her again?” Corbin asked.

“No, that was the last time I saw her.” Thomas said.

James stood up. “Thanks for your time. We will be in touch.”

*                                                  *                                            *

“What the hell was Carla doing?” Corbin asked as they left the room. “Secret meetings, unknown agendas, this is not normal behavior for a teenage girl.”

“Well whats sure is whatever she was doing got her killed.” said James.

“How did the girls not notice she was gone for a whole day?” Corbin asked.

“I talked to Hazel, and apparently neither of them knew what the other was up to most of the time.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” asked Corbin.

“It means they were not always together throughout the day.” James said.

“Hmm.” Corbin mused. “I don’t even want to know what the hell that means.”

James laughed as they walked down the hallway. Then they saw Jones approaching them.

“What is happening?” James asked him as he approached them.

“Techs have been messing with Carla’s GPS signals since the day she was missing trying to get a lock on it.” He started.

“So have they found it?” James asked.

“It was turned on at the old miller factory around eleven pm last night,” Jones said. “Then it moved from there to a building in Fremont street. We are moving out now.”

“Great I’ll get my gear.” James said. This was going to be a wild hunt.

Moments later they arrived at the building. It was on a lonely street nothing significant.It contained various apartments. Corbin and James got out of the car.

“So which apartment is it.” Corbin asked scanning the building with a hand shielding his eyes.

“I have a feeling its right there.” James said pointing to the side of the building. A white van was parked at the side. it had a familiar logo on its side.

“That’s it.” Corbin said

“Yep. That’s the van that was used to steal Carla Heathway’s body.” James said. “I’m betting the phone is in there too.” He turned to Officer Jakes. “Get CSU down here.”

“Sure.” Jakes said getting on his radio.

“Think our killer is around here?” Corbin asked as he strapped on a pair of gloves.

“Nah, they probably just dumped it here after wiping it off.” James said putting on some gloves too.. We’ll still dust it; it see if we are lucky.” James said.

“The phone was turned on at old miller factory right?” Corbin asked as they approached the van.

“Yeah.” James said.

“Then maybe that’s where it was parked before.” Corbin said as they reached the van. He tried the door handle. It was unlocked. He opened the driver’s side, while James went to the passenger’s side.

“Well we have to find the phone first.” James said as he felt under the seat.

“Yeah well shouldn’t be to hard.” Corbin grunted as he reached and pulled some wrappers from under the rug. “Cheetos?” He said holding up an empty Cheetos wrapper. “Well at least we know this guy is a slob.”

“Well he can’t be worse than you are.”James said as he opened the glove compartment and felt inside.

“Yeah true.” Corbin said putting the rug back down and sweeping his hands under the dashboard.

“Jackpot.” James said as he pulled out a phone with a purple case.

“You found it?” Corbin asked.

“Yeah.” James said looking at the screen. “Its Carla’s phone alright. Has her picture on the wall paper, and the battery is low.” He put it in an evidence bag.

“So the killer turned it on before he moved it.” Corbin said. “Big mistake.”

“Good for us.” James said grimly. “Tell them to move out. We are heading to old miller factory.”

Minutes later the drove up an old abandoned factory. The place was eerily quiet.

“Fan out.” James said to his team as he got down from the car. “See if we can find anything.”

“Didn’t this use to be a sawdust factory?” Corbin asked as they walked inside.

“Yeah, but it has been abandoned for years.” James replied. “Perfect place to hide something.”

“Let’s hope he was careless.” Corbin said.

They searched for thirty minutes. The place was pretty much empty except for some old equipment, and plenty of sawdust.

After a while, James sighed and turned to his team. “Okay gentlemen let’s wrap it up.” They began to move out when he heard Corbin’s voice from the back of the building.

“Hey James. Think I found something.” He said. Jams walked to where Corbin’s voice came and found him squatting looking over a patch of sand.

“What did you find?” James asked.

“I think this ground has been disturbed.” Corbin said. There were patches of sand on the side and there were traces of sawdust on the edges.

“Like it’s been dug up?” James asked.

“Definitely” replied Corbin.

“Well we should get some equipment.” James said. “Let’s dig.”

They found an old shovel on the side of the building. Corbin made to grab it, but James stopped him.

“We may be able to pull some prints from that.” James said. Corbin nodded and stepped back After some time waiting, some officers came with pairs of shovels and they began to dig. After five minutes later they hit something solid. They began to pull some sand back to reveal a black leather bag.

“You want to or should I?” James asked Corbin.

“Go ahead.” Corbin said. “Got a weak stomach.”

James pulled the bag to the surface. Taking a deep breath he unzipped it. A foul odor hit the air. There was a body in the bag. It was a white female, blond hair.

“Christ.” Corbin said holding down his nose.

“Here lie Carla Heathway.” James said softly.

*                 *                                *

It was dark. Toni slightly opened her windows, and slid onto the balcony. Carefully holding on she held the railing slid her feet under. Bending her knees slightly she let go. She landed on the ground with a soft thud. She turned around and saw her sister Alicia waiting for her.

“You are sneaking out again.” She accused Toni.

“Yeah I am.” Toni said. dusting her hands. “You gonna narc on me?”

Alicia smiled smugly and held out her hands. Toni shook her head. Unbelievable. She was being blackmailed by her fourteen year old sister. Toni reached into her pocket and pulled out a ten-dollar bill.  She put it in Alicia’s hands.

“What am I gonna do with this? Buy an Ice-cream cone?” Alicia said, looking distasteful at the money.

“That’s all you are getting.” Toni said pushing past her, and pulling the hoodie over er hair. She ran into the night. Thomas’ house was just a few blocks away.

*            *        *

James phone rang. He wiped his eyes with exhaustion. Today had been a hectic day. They had made progress on the case but it just lead to more questions. The phone rang insistently. James got up and picked up the phone.

“Ashwood speaking.”  He said into the phone.

“Yeah James we just got a call.” Officer Jakes voice said. “There has been another murder.”

“Who is it?” James asked.

“Thomas Bridges.” Jakes said. “He was found dead in his home.”

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