“We’re still waiting for the tape,” the security guard said yawning midsentence. His jaw stretched so wide it popped twice before he could continue, “but we think she left down the back stairs. You know to the lobby.”
“You think?” Blackfoot said. Scrubbing at the dark whiskers on his chin Blackfoot took a long deep breath before he allowed himself to speak again, “Do you even know if she’s still in the hospital? Have you searched?”
“She’s not in her room,” the guard said with a baleful look reaching for the pink bag on his desk. He pulled out a beignet and took a bite of the doughnut the crumbs and white powder falling on the desk and his uniform.
Blackfoot recognized the pink to-go bag immediately. It came from Ophelia’s restaurant. He wanted to shove the entire contents of the bag of fried bread down the man’s throat but he knew it would be a waste of good food. Unclenching his teeth Blackfoot turned his back on the clueless security guard, and pulled his phone from his pocket.
Within five minutes he’d given orders for his officers to begin a search of the hospital and start questioning staff.
“Don’t worry we’ll be discreet,” Blackfoot said to the guard trying to keep control of his temper.
“No worries, man,” The guard shrugged as he turned the page of the National Enquirer sitting in his lap. He gave Blackfoot thumbs up with his other hand before stuffing another beignet in his mouth.
Blackfoot cursed as he left the dark confines of the hospital’s security office. He wanted to tell the rent a cop where he could shove his magazine, and his beignets but he knew it would only result in another complaint added to his disciplinary file.
It was clear the man didn’t care about his job. Like Taylor always said going off wasn’t going to get him anywhere but damn didn’t it feel good.
Blackfoot understood burnout. He hated dealing with the enormous amounts of bullshit he had to shovel daily on his job too, but at least he tried to not show it. If anything, he was too passionate about his job, at least that was how he chose to frame it.
He knew last night he’d pushed it though. If Taylor hadn’t gotten to him when he did, he didn’t know what he would have done to that little EMT. He’d never been that out of control on the job before with a civilian. Not since Milton, but as far as he was concerned pedophile scum like Milton didn’t count.
The crack Rusty had made about his ex-wife wasn’t what pissed him off. He’d gotten past all that. He was over Pamela, but just the gall of that dumbass trying to use his ex to get under his skin was what had set him off.
He knew he had a temper, but knowing and doing something about it were two different things. Blackfoot’s temper was legendary, but it was also sometimes the only thing that kept him going.
However, dealing with the hospital security made Blackfoot wish for the second time this morning that he’d just called in and stayed in bed this morning. Maybe if he had someone to share his bed with he would have. Hell taking a vacation would be an even better idea. Then he could forget about ever hearing the name Trina Davenport, but he knew he wouldn’t.
He had the time, but he couldn’t shirk his responsibility. Even though he hated his job some days, he didn’t feel right dumping his work on someone else. It was his case and he’d see it through.
Regardless of how he felt about Davenport he was the lead detective on the case so he had no choice in his mind. The last thing he expected was for her to run though.
Even though he hadn’t had a moments rest since this case had been dropped in his lap he wouldn’t give up until Davenport was found. They might be small town, but nothing and no one could stay hidden here for long especially someone like Trina.
It was true southerners could keep a secret better than most, but it was also true the only thing a southerner liked more than hearing gossip was being the bearer of gossip. The bigger the better. He figured it was only a matter of time before he got a call about the missing woman.
Blackfoot felt his back pocket vibrate. “Speak.”
“Hey boss,” Taylor said on the other end. “Did our bird show up yet, or is she still hiding from you?”
“For the last time, I didn’t do anything to that woman,” Blackfoot said exasperated. “I don’t know why you keep trying to pin this one on me. I didn’t get to speak to her any more than you did last night. Than any one did because of your girlfriend.”
“Whatever,” Taylor said. “All I know is that your face could make Mr. T take a step back.”
“Oh wow, Mr. T, really,” Blackfoot said as he walked down the sun lit corridor. “You’re showing your age man.” He heard Taylor groan into the phone.
Blackfoot’s mouth hitched up a fraction of an inch to one side but that was the closest he got to a smile. Taylor hated being reminded of getting older, and therefore Blackfoot did it every chance he got. Taylor might look like a millennial but he was closer to Blackfoot’s age than he’d ever admit which made it so much easier to expose him.
He figured everyone had a something, a vice, and being a little vain was Taylor’s. Hell, Taylor’s suits cost more than his first car, which Blackfoot still drove, but he didn’t hold it against him. Taylor was a good cop and would only get better.
He knew the man hoped to make detective one day, and Blackfoot would be surprised if he didn’t very soon. Even though he transferred in to the department only a year ago he’d worked for almost a decade at his last precinct. Besides Taylor was a team player, and he wasn’t above doing the boot work a lot of young officers hated.
Anyone else Blackfoot would have called a kiss ass, but Taylor wasn’t that way. Everyone liked him, which benefitted Blackfoot because over the years he’d made more than a few enemies, and Taylor had the knack of finessing even the hardest subjects into talking.
“So what you got for me?” Blackfoot asked.
“Four hours of tape showing the lovely Trina Davenport in all her evil glory.”
“Ok, give me the Cliff notes version.”
“Back in high school Trina had been the girl most likely. She’d been the most likely to succeed, to be famous, and/or to marry a president or some other rich slash powerful guy. From all accounts she was bound for success but she crashed and burned her first year at college. Got pregnant then somehow got cast on that crazy TV show. Since then she’s been in one tabloid after another for bad choices and bad behavior all of which is documented for posterity on YouTube. Available to anyone with the time, a laptop and internet access.”
“Let me guess, sounds like there are quite a few people who’d like to ring our victim’s neck, or in this case put a bullet in her head?
“You could say that,” Taylor said.
“So best case scenario is Trina left on her own free will, but worst-case scenario was that the person who’d shot at her had come to finish the job. If only we’d been able to speak to her last night,” Blackfoot said.
“C’mon man,” Taylor groaned. “You know how Margaret can get.”
“Exactly, you got to learn how to control your woman, man.”
“Yeah, so now we know why you’re single don’t we?” Taylor said. “Well, maybe if someone had gone on a second date with her sister.”
“Whatever man.” Blackfoot said not wanting to revisit the first and only date he’d had with Margaret’s younger sister. “If your girlfriend is a nurse at the biggest hospital in the city, that is supposed to be an asset not a roadblock.”
“Yeah, well she’s got a job to do too.”
“Yeah just like you.”
“I’ll talk to her.”
“You do that.”
“Right, boss,” Taylor said before growing quiet- too quiet for Blackfoot ‘s liking.
“Out with it.”
“There was a possible call about a body on the beach in Biloxi a little while ago. She matches Davenport’s description.”
“Jesus, man. That was what you were supposed to lead with,” Blackfoot cursed.
“Sorry, got sidetracked,” Taylor said. “I’m already headed that way.”
“Damn,” Blackfoot said into the phone. It was one thing to lose a key figure in a case, another for them to end up dead.
“I know, right,” Taylor said. “Man, this case keeps getting worse and worse. Why do you think she ran?”
“We don’t know if she did yet,” Blackfoot said into the phone, but his silence told him they were thinking the same thing. The woman had dodged them last night. No doubt about it. There was no way she had been sleeping all that time. The fact she’d waited until morning to leave was the big surprise but what she was hiding concerned him more. With this new information he just hoped they hadn’t lost her for good.
“Look, one way or the other this case will get closed. The sooner the better. I’m gonna stick around for a little while try and ride security to give me something. They claim head of security is the only one that can give me the tape, and of course they’re out of town,” Blackfoot reached for the pack of cigarettes he always kept in his jacket pocket.
“Call me once you have word,” Blackfoot said. “Oh, and thanks man,” he added clearing his throat, “for everything.” Taylor had saved his butt last night, and they both knew it.
“Sure thing, boss,” Taylor said.
Blackfoot ended the call. He was still beating himself up for not getting the interview with Davenport. The woman had been shot. Anyone else involved and Blackfoot would have charged right into the room regardless. Nothing short of the woman being dead would have stopped him. He would have done whatever he needed to do to get his interview. He’d have called the family if he’d had to. Unfortunately, this case was trickier not because of her celeb status but because of her mother’s.
Trina may be on a nationally rated television show, but her mother Ophelia Davenport was a beloved local legend with more political connections than the governor. That’s why he was surprised she’d had no visitors all night.
Ophelia was old school all the way. It was just an overnight visit, but still it didn’t’ make sense her mother hadn’t come to see about her.
Blackfoot took a long drag from the stick as soon as he lit it. The only excuse he could think of was there must be trouble in the Davenport household now that Trina was back. The woman rarely returned to her hometown but it was for good reason. She wasn’t exactly the golden girl anymore. Everyone in town knew Ophelia wasn’t proud of what her daughter had become.
Forgoing the elevator to take the back stairs Blackfoot made his way down the three flights. He was about to open the door to the lobby when something caught his eye. In the corner he saw a balled-up piece of blue fabric.
He picked up the blue gown catching a whiff of something familiar. It wasn’t an unpleasant smell but very distinct- like lemons he thought. Looking at the gown he didn’t see any stains or tears, but the perfume he recognized immediately. He was certain it had been Davenport’s. Last night he’d been at the ambulance when she was loaded in, he’d even helped lift the bed. He was glad he had now. He’d caught the same whiff of perfume he smelled on the gown on her last night.
He wasn’t as politically savvy as Taylor but he was a good officer, and his hunches were usually right. He gave the gown a once over but other than the scent it carried there wasn’t anything else he could gather from the wrinkled fabric in his hands. However, now at least he knew what path she took. He could wait for the tape, but she was gone, and all signs pointed to it being of her own volition. Blackfoot wasn’t hanging around the hospital any longer for validation he didn’t need.
Trina Davenport wasn’t the Coast’s only celebrity but she was the most notorious. So there were a lot of eyes on him to solve the case and put it to rest quickly.
He knew putting aside his personal opinion about the young woman was tantamount to doing so. He’d lied to Taylor. He was well aware of who Trina was. Hell, they’d grown up in the same small town together. However, he was several years ahead of her. Although he’d never met the woman he’d heard of some of her exploits. She was trouble with a capital T.
Walking out the front door of the hospital he spotted his car, a brown Trans Am right where he left it. It was parked in the curved driveway in front of the hospital. The faded police sticker on the windshield was cracking and peeling, but it was still good. The drive was supposed to be a no parking zone, but exceptions were generally made as long as he had the police tag.
Although he’d long fallen out of lust with the job he had to admit the perks were good. Blackfoot wasn’t crooked but he never claimed to be a saint either. He already knew heaven was not a part of his retirement package.
Besides his daddy had taught him hell was just a lie a bunch of bored saints in heaven told themselves. His scoundrel of a father wasn’t the best to rely on for advice but even if he was wrong Blackfoot was a southern boy through and through. He wasn’t scared of a little heat.