SEALs of Honor:Jackson(5)

By: Dale Mayer

The military police vehicle was on the side of the road, and, sure enough, local cops were up there with it too. After Jackson and Tanner explained what had happened and had given their statements, they were allowed to head back to the Jeep.

As they waited for everybody else to leave, Jackson asked, “What do you think?”

“I think there’ll be a full investigation on both sides,” Tanner said, fatigue in his voice. “And I don’t think either will find anything.”

“But this sounds like it was a setup,” Jackson said. “I don’t know if the bullets fired into the windshield of my rig were directly intended for us as much as to get somebody to follow them.”

“Meaning, the shooter wanted to be followed? So he could attack a second military truck?”

“It’s possible. What have we got then? Military killers? And for what reason?” Just the thought made his blood boil. Military men served to protect—not to get ambushed, especially not at home.

“It could have just been a prepper, who thought we were encroaching his territory,” Tanner said quietly. “As much as we like to think all the bad guys live on foreign soil, we should know that’s not the case. We have enough homegrown assholes here that we don’t need to go looking for anybody else around the globe.”

“True enough. But, if that’s the case, it’ll be a local police matter, not a naval investigation.”

“Yep. It already is,” Tanner said. “But there’s also a good chance it’ll be a joint task force. I don’t think they’ll let you be on it because you were one of the men shot at.”

“That’s so not fair,” Jackson snapped. “I have every right to track down this guy, particularly after being shot at.”

“You keep talking like it’s only one guy in the pickup. Is that correct?”

“Only one shooter, that I saw, and he was the driver. But he had a passenger with him.”

Tanner nodded. “We have two days off coming up.” Tanner looked at Jackson. “What were you planning on doing for those couple days?”

The thought of beer at Mason’s backyard pool party flew out the window. “I guess I’ll be tracking down an asshole’s black pickup truck,” he muttered. “In which case, we should check out the gas station where I picked up the bullet holes to my radiator. Maybe it was behind the sabotage of my rig in the first place.”

Tanner turned off the Jeep and looked at him. “My lady isn’t in town until tomorrow, so I’m available today.”

“Really? Are you sure?”

Tanner hopped out and walked across the road. “You know we’ll never gather better forensic evidence than we can right now. The teams that just left already looked but …”

Jackson knew, while they were waiting for forensics, the expected rainstorm could come and wash away evidence left behind. Plus the shooter could come back, looking for something in particular.

Jackson and Tanner drove first to the gas station and searched the area. But too much traffic had passed for tracks, and there was no evidence to collect at the parking lot that they could see. Further questioning of the gas station personal proved fruitless as well. No one saw or heard anything and they didn’t have a working video security feed outside of the store.

On the way back the two men searched the road for evidence where the pickup truck had been parked. It was farther down the road than they expected—a good 150 yards away from the accident scene. There they could see the tire tracks on the shoulder. They carefully photographed them as Tanner walked around, looking for any evidence the shooter or his passenger may have scattered when opening the pickup’s doors. “Did the shooter really lie in wait for these men? Were he and his buddy just happy to kill anybody, or were these two targeted?”

“They didn’t kill them,” Tanner said. “Remember that. They could have put a killing shot in both of them.”

Jackson didn’t want to think about it, but it was hard not to. Both men had been completely vulnerable at that point. It would have been easy enough to kill them.

“Aha,” Tanner said as he squatted down. He glanced at Jackson. “I don’t suppose you have any evidence bags, do you?”

Jackson checked his backpack and found a couple small grocery bags from the treats he’d picked up earlier in the day. He dumped one out, turned the bag inside out and handed it to Tanner. And watched as Tanner carefully used his hand inside the bag to pick up a cigarette butt on the ground. “Is it fresh?”

“Yeah, I can still smell it,” he said. “One of the men is a smoker.”