One cold November night, Luther and I were sitting in my car on our surveillance duty. Three guys in hoodies walked out of the residence we were watching. The porch light came on with a woman, slender with an enormous trail of thick pink- and blonde-streaked hair, shouting from the open door.

What ensued after her incessant cries brought both of us out of the car. Luther whispered, “Don’t run until we see fists landing.”

Two of the guys in the front of the emaciated man the woman called Lance, yelling, “You guys shorted us!”

The youths, looking to be younger than Lance, had him on the ground in a matter of seconds, plowing one blow after another on his head, back, and stomach. That was our cue. With handguns pointed, we were on the ruckus in ten seconds.

I pulled out my badge, “Stop! We are the police!”

Luther held his gun only two paces from the out-of-breath youths. Lance got up and began moving towards the front door. “Freeze! Don’t move one more step!” I shouted. Holding him steady, I called for backup.

Luther had put both of the youths in handcuffs and read them their rights. I had Lance in handcuffs, read his rights to him. We approached Luther’s prisoners. I asked the youths, “What was your reason for kicking the guy’s ass?”

One of them stood there shaking all over and having trouble catching his breath; he spoke shivering. “Oh, what the hell! The guy got greedy; his chick, too. We gave them what was agreed on the phone before we got over here.”

I laughed at them. “Just curious. Didn’t you two happen to find a baby blue older car with a couple of people sitting in the front seat only two houses from this one rather odd?”

“We’re too fucked up most of the time to notice shit!” the other one said.

With that sterling confession of high intelligence, two squad cars pulled up. Four officers from the APD came walking up to Luther. “Well, Detective Charles, what do we have here?” one of the taller officers asked.

“These fine gentlemen bought product from our boy Lance here being held by Detective McMahan. They have had their rights read to them. You officers take them off our hands, and we will give a look-see into the house,” Luther instructed.

We walked into the home where the woman with the mass of hair was holding a young girl. I assumed to be her daughter. “She is my daughter. Don’t take me in; both my parents are out of town.”

Luther walked into the kitchen while I dealt with her. “It depends if we find something in your kitchen. You will have to make arrangements with someone in order for us to take you into the division for some questions.” I said, speaking without rancor.

Luther came out with a long, rectangular baking pan. “Ma’am, what was in this pan?”

She put her head down and sobbed. She walked her daughter over to the couch. “Sweetie, sit down. Mommy needs to talk to these officers.”

“This is what Lance had sold to those guys. We’ve been cooking meth and processing it for a while,” she told us, then sobbed again. “Now I know they are going to take my daughter away from us.”

I got closer to her and lifted up her chin. “Miss, you knew full well what you were doing. Call a friend or a relative to pick up your daughter. We will wait while you pack her up and she is picked up.” This was one of the worst scenarios about any bust: when a young child appeared on the scene. The look on the little girl’s face of sheer fear of being taken from her mother was a memory I would save back in my personal vault of regrets.

This stakeout was fairly speedy; some can last for months. I believe the nature of the quietness of the street worked in our favor. Most of the other residents were older; they’d left for work or to the grocery, then came home and stayed until their routine started the next day. This bust was over in time for Thanksgiving.


Thanksgiving at Grandpa Pete’s came with it a well-rounded table of holiday participants to enjoy the amazing turkey dinner Grace had so aptly prepared. Luther and Althea joined us, which was a delightful perk to the day. My appetite was sated. I enjoyed the company for a time, but my mind became overwhelmed with nagging questions about why Wesley Thornton left Indiana so quickly. His departure almost overrode my burning desire to find Amora, even knowing I put my body and soul in extreme peril.

Luther and Grandpa Pete were enjoying a carafe of Pinot Grigio while Althea helped Grace clean up the dining room and kitchen. I approached the men reclining in my grandfather’s study. “Grandpa Pete, I need to steal Luther away for a moment.”

“Oh, Glenda, can’t you stop the detective work for Thanksgiving?” Grandpa Pete lamented.

“You know I’m not programmed that way. It’s important.”

We went to a corner of the living room where the grand piano sat. Luther sat down on the piano bench. His eyebrows raised, “What’s up?”

“I’m going to pay the Rathbone attorney a visit to find out where Wesley went. Do you want to join me?”

“Of course. I assume we’ll be headed to Indy first thing Monday.”

I smiled and bowed my head. “I appreciate your acceptance without my cajoling.”

Luther got up. He put his arm around me, “Now, join your grandfather and me for a drink. Partner, you need to loosen up.”


Forrest Baines’ office appeared as elegant as his former client. The secretary did not hesitate after we gave our usual official introduction. “You are fortunate, detectives. Mr. Baines is not with a client. I’ll ring him before you go in.”

We walked into his office, walls made up of Maplewood siding, with each stick of furniture resembling the fancy drawing room of an English lord. A tall, white-haired man in a charcoal gray suit stood looking out his office windows.

Luther announced, “Mr. Baines, you’re very gracious to see us in a cold call, such as it is.”

He turned around, appearing unaffected but gracious in a forced way. “I was expecting you, detectives. State your request.”

“I’ve been trying to reach Wesley for weeks. Found out from the Rathbone gardener that he’s left Indiana and put the estate up for sale,” I summed up our intent.

“Detective McMahan, you realize, I hope, that the reason for Mr. Thornton’s departure is grief. He lost his friend and employer in such a grisly way. He needed to go somewhere nothing like here for peace and tranquility,” the attorney stared at me, pressing the matter of Wesley’s emotions.

Luther walked closer, nose to nose with Mr. Baines, “We have an escaped prisoner, highly dangerous. As you well know, Wesley cooperated with the Wisconsin and Indianapolis authorities about Amora’s crimes. He is still in danger even though he’s thousands of miles from here.”

Baines nodded, then sat down behind his massive, ornately-carved desk. “Well, my compliments, Detective Charles. You have a solid argument. Wesley Thornton became sole heir to the ample Rathbone estate. The night Ethan went missing, I received an email from him to change his will. Wesley has the funds to go anywhere in the world. From a call I received last week, he purchased a home in central California.”

“Can you be more specific on the location?” I asked.

“Yes, the most breathtakingly beautiful place I’ve known to have experienced: Big Sur. I don’t have the precise address of the new residence,” Baines said, then stood up, a noticeable gesture he wanted us to leave. We compiled with his silent request.

During the drive back to Anderson, I garnered my tenacious nature to share with Luther. “This sounds a bit nutty, but I’m going to Big Sur. We need to know a lot of loose ends only Wesley can provide.”

Luther kept his response during our entire commute. This course of action he knew always drove me up the wall. I kept looking over at my partner, trying to read his stone-cold face. I huffed and lamented inwardly until he eventually opened up.

In the police department’s parking lot, Luther turned off his Esplanade. He turned to me with remorse in his large dark eyes. “I know you’re determined to do this. Althea told me last night that her gynecologist found dangerous stress to her liver. As the baby grows with each coming month, she will be forced to practice bed rest. That was the reason she went to visit her sister today.”

“So,,you’re telling me you can’t join me in this quest,” I said with noticeable disappointment.

His large dark eyes blinked slowly as he confessed. “As usual, you read me right. I have to stay here to be on call for Althea.”

I did not answer back. Not of the mind and reality of being committed to someone else; I failed to understand Luther’s plight. We went back to the division, dealing with final reports of the Elva Street bust. I got up with my finished report in hand, heading to Mitch Gable’s office.

I knocked. He yelled on the other side of the glass door, “Enter if you have to!”

He looked over from his computer screen. “Great, Detective, the chief just called about that particular bust.”

“Yeah. Sarge, I’ve got some time saved up, almost three weeks. I’m wanting leave. Already told Luther. He’s staying here.”

“Thank God for that! I can’t have both of you MIA! Knowing you, it’s not for pleasure.” The sergeant peeked at me from the glasses planted on the bridge of his nose.

I walked towards the door. From my back, I heard him say, “Come back in one piece, and don’t let your brainpower be muddied up by what you find. I’ll need you in good shape for work when you get back.”


For all installments from The Islands Tell of It, click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Chapter 1: The First Victim
  2. Chapter 2: Four Months Before October
  3. Chapter 3: Bobber’s Café
  4. Chapter 4: Heat Wave
  5. Chapter 5: Deep-End Dining
  6. Chapter 6: Rathbone Estate
  7. Chapter 7: Althea’s Run
  8. Chapter 8: Emergency Interrupts
  9. Chapter 9: Girls Talk Turkey
  10. Chapter 10: There Came a Lull
  11. Chapter 11: Dangerous Mind
  12. Chapter 12: Luana Barba
  13. Chapter 13: Trip to Milwaukee
  14. Chapter 14: Enough Killing
  15. Chapter 15: A Parking Lot Visitation
  16. Chapter 16: The Restaurant
  17. Chapter 17: Late-Night Work
  18. Chapter 18: Grandpa Pete
  19. Chapter 19: A Group is Formed
  20. Chapter 20: Rendezvous with Evil
  21. Chapter 21: The Upside-Down of it All
  22. Chapter 22: Two Ways to Fight
  23. Chapter 23: I Have to See Her
  24. Chapter 24: A Funeral
  25. Chapter 25: Unaware
  26. Chapter 26: Synchronized Surprise
  27. Chapter 27: The Show Must Go On
  28. Chapter 28: Is it Business as Usual?