The Lava Beds

Sean O'Mordha   February 27, 2019   No Comments on The Lava Beds

Author’s Comment: 

Telling stories should be fun. How they are told is the challenge. The most comfortable format for this author is 3rd Person omnipresent. Telling the story from many different angles is the most versatile style. It is not always the challenge needed to grow as a writer. Every so often, I will write three or four chapters and then re-write them from different viewpoints. That is partly the reason this author’s productivity has dropped from two to three novels a year to one. I’m having too much “fun” playing with my work. The story that follows is an example. There’s not one he said/she said or descriptor while preserving the Rod Serling / Alfred Hitchcock whim of twisting the tale.

Lava beds

“Cap, just got a call from Halin Pearson. Seems his boy, Grady, didn’t come home last night.”


p class=”western”>“Humph. Probably overslept. I’d love catchin’ that prick bangin’ an underage girl.”
“His parents have called all his known girlfriends.”

“Well, that pretty well covers the town. Handle it. Jist keep the Pearsons outta my hair. And take that college geek intern with you. He’s gettin’ on my nerves.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Captain Hollister doesn’t seem to like me much.”

“Cap doesn’t like himself. You drive. Didn’t sleep last night?”

“Up late working on an assignment. So who is this Grady kid?”

“Grady Pearson. His dad owns the mechanic shop in that Quonset at the end of Franklin Lane. Pretty good with cars. Keeps these antique patrol cars running. Grady’s his oldest. Seventeen, B-average, good-looking, at least the girls think so. Athletic type – tall, dark, muscular. Wide receiver on the football team. Gotta be a good runner if a dad ever catches him on the wrong side of a bedroom door. We’ve caught him parked more than once out in the county sparkin’ girls. Nothin’ criminal. The girls were over eighteen.”

“But he’s underage.”

“The Pearsons founded this neck of the woods. His uncle’s the County Judge. The County Attorney’s a cousin and grandpa is a County Commissioner. A boys will be boys thing. The principal at the high school had a fight a couple weeks back. Two girls vying for his attention. My daughter says the word among the girls, he’s pretty good in bed. She thinks he’s a arrogant, egotistical, over-sexed, . . . anyway, we haven’t caught him with anyone underage and there’s been no complaints.”

“So, that’s why the Captain thinks he’s at someone’s house?”

“A couple of the night guys have seen him a time or two when there’s no school walkin’ home at 5 a.m.”

“So, where do we start?”

“The donut shop. Next left.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Hi, Paul. The usual?”

“Hi, Milley, Yep. Same for the kid, here.”

“No thanks. I’ll pass.”

“You don’t drink coffee?”

“No, sir.”

“And don’t eat donuts?”

“Yes, sir, but I try to keep them at a minimum.”

“Kid, you won’t make much of a cop if you can’t handle coffee and donuts.”

“So who’s the new kid, Paul?”

“Intern from the college, Larry MacPherson. Larry, this gorgeous doll’s Milly Albert.”

“Well, at least the Department’s improving its looks. Either too fat, too thin, or ugly as sin.”

“She’s our poet laurie-ate. Got a minute, Milly?”

“All I see in this place is your ugly puss and sweet cakes here. Yeah, I got a minute. Slide over handsome and let a lady take a load off her dogs.”

“Milly, one of the patrols spotted you with Grady Pearson couple weekends ago.”

“Yeah. Ruined what could’ve been a perfect night.”

“Been out with him since?”

“No, darn it. Gotta wait my turn. He’s one hell of a bed-hopper.”

“You’ve slept with him?”

“No, sweet cakes. Gave me a lift home, but I’d like to. I’m of age and the law don’t care what underage guys do so long as it ain’t with underage girls.”

“Know who he’s been seeing lately?”

“Of course, Paul. Mary Fulbright.”

“You seem pretty sure.”

“Well, love, she’s been braggin’ about it all over town. Girls talk, too, you know. Says she’s plannin’ a long weekend at her grandpa’s cabin.”

“Up to Pearson Springs?”

“That’s the one. What’s all the interest in Grady?”

“His folks are in a uproar. Didn’t come home last night.”

“Probably overslept but not with the Fulbright chick. She was in here with some friends on their way to school this morning. I don’t think she was with him or she’d be crowing from the roof. If you find Grady, tell him to stay. I get off work at two and I’ll be on my way.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Interesting woman.”

“Yeah. Best source for free donuts, coffee, gossip, and the clap.”

“Want to check out the cabin?”

“It’s thirty miles north. Maybe this afternoon if we don’t turn anything better. Tell you what. It’s nearly noon. Most of the kids pander the burger joint across from the school. Greasy but better than what they serve in the cafeteria. I’ll drop you off. A lot of those kids don’t like me. Too many speeding tickets. You’re nearer their age. Mingle and see what you can learn. Got a couple papers to serve. I’ll pick you up in a hour or so. Just sign the tab. The Department will pick it up.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Well, looks like you survived. Learn anything?”

“I felt like a pheasant on opening day but not much more than Milly said. The only one he’s shown interest in this week is the Fulbright girl and she hasn’t seen him since yesterday at school. She’s a little peeved about that. Thinks he might be cheating on her.”

“She’s living in a fantasy world. Guess we’ll take a run up to Pearson Springs. His grandpa has a cabin up there, too.”

“Are those eagles?”

“No, buzzards. Pull over.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Buzzards don’t swarm like that unless somethin’ big’s dead out there. Watch your yourself. That rock can be hard on a body if you misstep. Cuts shoe leather like it were butter, hidden holes, sheer-sides pits, and caves that provide homes to all sorts of critters. I don’t need any workman comp claims.”

“This stuff is rough.”

“Lava. A flow rolled through here a couple thousand years ago but hasn’t lost its edge. Waive your hands in the air. That’ll get ‘em out of the way. Oh, crap! Don’t feel bad, kid. I threw up the first time I saw a dead body, too.”

“But it’s half eaten!”

“Yeah. Get back to the squad and call dispatch. Tell ‘em I need the forensics van and the coroner.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Over here, Cap.”

“Whatcha got, Paul?”

“Grady Pearson.”

“How can you tell?”

“Found his wallet.”

“Any idea how he died?”

“Hard to say at this point. That’d be up to the coroner. Appears he fell into the pit.”

“So, what was he doing out here?”

“You need ask? Found a blanket and his clothes in a flat area just over there, and this packet. Tests for cocaine.”

“Never would’ve thought to look out here. Well, that’s one less pervert to worry about.”

“Excuse me, Captain. Those buzzards seem awfully interested in those rocks over there.”

“Check it out, kid. I got better things than go bird watchin’. If you’re satisfied there ain’t any more clues, Paul, bag ‘im up.”

“Captain, you might want to have the coroner wait around a little longer.”

“Why, kid?”

“You have another body in those rocks. Kind of a cave. That’s why the birds are so aggravated. Can’t get at him.”

“Who is it, Paul?”

“It’s the Marshall guy, Cap.”

“The queer? Now, what in Sam Hill’s he doin’ out here?”

“By the looks of things this place’s been used for extra-curricular activities. He’s got somethin’ in his hand.”

“Well, pry it loose. He don’t need it.”

“It’s a love locket. I’ve seen Grady wear somethin’ like it. Well, I’ll be. It’s got Marshall and Grady’s pictures in it.

~ ~ ~ ~

“So, kid, you’ve had a interestin’ summer.”

“Yes, I have Captain. You might say I’ve profited greatly from the experience.”

“Yeah. Two perverts at one time. Enough evidence to prove the Pearson kid was gettin’ it on with Marshall while sharin’ crack. Grady stumbles into that pit and cracks his head open, then his true love, Marshall, blows his brains out. That was a shock to all those over-sexed girls and their fantasies. Nice work. Clean, neat, and nicely packaged. All that fancy book learnin’ has its uses after all.

“Five thousand as agreed. Small bills. It’s in that backpack with your stuff in the trunk. Took my time collectin’ it from different banks like you said so there ain’t no way to trace it. Can’t rightly pay for Marshall. Wasn’t part of the deal, but that’ll teach the Pearson kind to leave their stinkin’ paws off my daughter.”

“Thank you, Captain. Consider Marshall a bonus. I appreciate taking me to the airport.”

“My pleasure. Believe me, my pleasure. I like drivin’ this old, twisty road. Jist like that place over in Europe where they have that big race. Hairpin turns and cliffs to match.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Where’s Cap’s squad, Paul? Halin Pearson has the parts now and wants to finish working on it.”

“I thought he was done with it?”

“No. Brought it back to leave here so no one would mess with it.”

“Cap’s got it. Takin’ MacPherson out to the airport on the scenic route.”

“Oh, crap! The way he drives, we better radio him. Halin didn’t finish fixing the brakes.”


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