Cold Hearts(8)

By: Sharon Sala

Trey sighed. “Just stay where you are. The less we move around, the less likely we’ll disturb anything vital.”

“I won’t move,” Mack said, taking a stance not unlike a soldier standing guard at his post.

Trey kept his distance, giving Mack the space he obviously needed to keep his emotions contained, but at the same time he was worried. He hadn’t heard back from Dallas, so he didn’t know if his mother was okay or if she had flipped out like she had before. He didn’t know if his sister, Trina, had left for work or if she was still at the house, too. Something was up with the two men dying so close together. He could feel it.

* * *

Mack kept his gaze fixed on a dirty spot on one of the windows directly across from where he was standing and didn’t look away. He’d spent countless hours in this place growing up. It used to be his favorite place to spend time with his dad, but once they took his father’s body away, there would be little need to come back other than to tie up loose ends.

He and Trey stood without talking while the world went on around them. Through the window he could see cars driving past, people on their way to somewhere else. A kid rode by on his bicycle. A couple of men parked a few doors down and went into a used furniture store. Mack didn’t understand how life could be so ordinary out there and a living nightmare in here.

Trey kept an eye out for the coroner’s vehicle. When a blue car wheeled in and parked, and a black van with a county logo on the doors pulled in beside it, Trey pointed. “They’re here.”

Mack blinked.

“I’ll be right back,” Trey said as he strode out.

Mack watched the men getting out of their vehicles. When they opened up the back of the van, a chill swept through him. He could almost feel his father’s presence.

“They’re here, Dad. Just hang on a little longer and we’ll get you free.”

Moments later Trey came back, accompanied by a trio of men, one of whom Mack recognized as Pryor Addison, the county coroner.

Addison knew the Jacksons and was disturbed to learn what had happened to Paul, but he frowned when he saw Mack. “You shouldn’t be here,” he said.

“And he shouldn’t be under that car,” Mack said.

Addison sighed. “You need to step outside, son.”

“No, sir, with respect.”

Addison shrugged and went to work directing his crew as to which pictures he wanted and from what angles, and then circled the car several times trying to decide which side they needed to jack up to remove the body. Until it was out from under the car, there was nothing definitive to see. “So the lift failed?” he said.

“So we assume,” Trey said. “We haven’t moved or touched anything since the body was discovered.”

Addison looked around for the lift controls and had pictures taken of that, too. “Okay, we need to get this car off the body without causing further damage.”

Trey couldn’t get the thought out of his mind that this wasn’t an accident. Carl had already told him there were no prints on the lift control, which made no sense. There should be prints galore. Every time it went up or down someone had to use the control. Now was a good time to test it.

“Do you have a problem with me trying out the lift?” Trey asked.

Mack looked at Trey as if he’d lost his mind. “What are you saying?” he asked.

“I’m not saying anything,” Trey said. “I just need to make sure the lift is inoperable before I call in the fire department to help remove the car.”

Addison shrugged. “I have no problem with that. Either it will work or it won’t, right?”

“Yes, sir,” Trey said, and reached for the control.

The hydraulics kicked in, and the lift began moving up without a hitch.

Mack caught a glimpse of his father’s body and turned his back. Trey had been right. He didn’t want this sight burned into his memory.

The coroner frowned, and then glanced up at Trey. “What made you think to do that?” he asked.

“My officers dusted for prints. There weren’t any,” Trey said.

Mack picked up that something was wrong. “What the hell is going on here?”

Trey held up a hand. “Come outside with me...please.”

Mack left without looking back, but as soon as they got outside, he stopped.

“Talk to me, damn it. That’s my father. I have a right to know what’s happening.”

“Get in my car, Mack. I don’t intend to advertise this, and I expect you to keep quiet about it, too.”

Mack got in the police cruiser, and as soon as Trey slid behind the steering wheel, despite the state Mack was in, he started questioning him.