Vanished in the Night(13)

By: Eileen Carr


“How ’bout you, Osborne? You ever try to kick sense into Max’s head? You knock him around a little?” Zach got into his face.

“Maybe.” Osborne didn’t meet Zach’s eyes. “No more than was necessary.”

It was damn tempting to knock some sense into Osborne’s head, but the satisfaction wouldn’t be worth the consequences.

“So you never saw Max after he went to Sierra? He didn’t come back here after he ran away? Maybe stop by to ask for some money?” Where else did the kid have to go? Blairsden was a far piece away. It couldn’t have been easy to get away from there.

Osborne snorted. “The kid wasn’t stupid. He knew if he showed his face around here, I’d kick his ass back up the hill with pleasure.”

“So you’ve got no clue as to exactly when Max went missing?” Frank asked.

“You want a clue? Go dig it up yourself. You’re the detective, aren’t you? Go detect. Start with detecting the missing persons report that the school filed.” His eyes still glued to the television, Osborne waved his hand as if to dismiss them.

“A report was filed? Up in Blairsden?” Zach hadn’t seen that when they ran Max’s name through the databases, but not everything from back then was computerized.

Osborne spared them another glance. “Wherever. They filed one at the school. Said it was protocol or something.”

Zach had a nagging suspicion the man knew more than he was letting on, but they weren’t going to get anything more from Osborne.

“Thank you for your time, Mr. Osborne. We’re very sorry for your loss. We’ll see ourselves out.” He turned to go.

“Don’t let the door hit your ass on your way out,” Osborne called after them.

“Classy,” Frank said as they got into the car.

“True that,” Zach said. “What do you think? Could he have done it?”

Frank leaned back in his seat and loosened his tie. “Kid could have shown up with his hand out for money. Osborne could have taken a swing. Maybe things got out of hand and the kid ended up dead. Doesn’t explain how he ended up in that construction site, though.”

“Even if Osborne didn’t see the kid, maybe the wife did. Maybe she gave him some money. Or the sister,” Zach added.

Frank shook his head. “The sister would have told us. Osborne, though, I’m not so sure. You have a feeling he knew more than he was letting on?”

Zach nodded and buckled his seat belt. “I did. Let’s go back to the station and check out Osborne’s record. Then let’s run it past the lieutenant. Seems like we might have enough for a warrant.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Rodriguez tossed Zach his cell phone. “Text Sheila for me. Tell her I won’t be home.”

“Okay, but I’m not sexting for you.”

“Asking you to tack xoxo to the end of a text is not sexting, Zach. You’re such a prude.” Frank started the engine and pulled away. “Here’s what I don’t get about Osborne, though. If you didn’t want to put up with a woman’s kid, why marry her in the first place? There’s lots of fish in the sea. Why not hook up with one who doesn’t have a kid? Or at least doesn’t have one who bugs the crap out of you just by being the color he is?”

Zach shook his head. “I don’t have an answer for that. Why does anybody marry anyone? It’s a mystery.”

“Spoken like a true bachelor. Just you wait. You’ll meet the right one someday. Then you’ll be building picket fences in your head and you’ll understand why men get married.”

“Just like you, Frankie?”

“Just like me.”

“Which time exactly? The first one? Number two? Or number three?” Zach razzed him.

“All of them, Zach, all of them. What can I say? I give my heart too easily.”

It wasn’t his heart that Frank gave away with such abandon, it was another body part entirely. In all fairness, he did seem pretty happy with number three. Zach had never met number one, but two he had met. He might still have the scars from it, too. Doreen was a hard, hard woman.





4



Veronica walked up the steps to her father’s porch, a McDonald’s bag in one hand and a coffee cup in the other. She’d gotten off work at seven, driven through McDonald’s to pick up breakfast for her and her dad, then come straight here. She wasn’t sure if the cops had talked to him or not yet, but either way, she figured she should stop by.