“Officers, I’m Brenda Malone.” Slamming the
car door, she advanced on the two cops standing in the dark just beyond the headlights of the cruiser marked Campbell County
Sheriff’s Department. The cruiser’s beams focused on an old trailer and a white panel van. “I’m the
stepdaughter of Sam Wyatt. Two officers showed up at my house at midnight. Said
a dead man had been found in Sam’s trailer. Sam in there?” Not waiting for their answer, she set off toward the
vehicles wrapped in yellow plastic “Police - Do Not Cross” tape.
The taller cop intersected her path to the scene of the crime.
“Uh, Miss! Please stay on this side of the tape.”
Brenda dutifully halted. She was curious to see inside the trailer
but supposed it wasn’t going anywhere.
“I’m Deputy Cage and this is Deputy Fox. We don’t
know who the man is yet. Maybe you can help with our investigation.”
What d’ya need?” Brenda lit a cigarette while Fox pulled out his pad and pen. Cage left them and disappeared into
the warmth of the cruiser. Focusing on the young deputy, his handsome face and athletic build qualified him as hunk in her
book. It wouldn’t be as hard to answer questions about a man she hated to a gorgeous cop. “Deputy, er, what was
your name again?” she was glad she’d grabbed a hat to cover her yanked-from-sleep hair do.
“Deputy Fox. What’s that sticking out the window of
“Well, Miss Malone.” He paused, consulting his notes.
“It’s a hose wrapped with rags, taped through the window and connected the same way to the exhaust pipe of the
“You mean he…?” She screwed up her face in disgust.
“It looks like the victim may have done this himself but
we need more information before we can determine what actually happened.”
Brenda took a deep pull on her cigarette, turned away and glared
at the trailer. Dropping the spent butt, she ground it under the toe of her boot and hissed, “Damn you Sam!”
Fox raised an eyebrow at her snarl and watched Brenda for a moment
before turning back to his notes. “Miss Malone?”
“Yeah?” She turned her back on the trailer, pulled
her zipper to her throat and stuffed her ungloved hands in the pockets of her leather jacket.
“Do you have some identification?”
She fumbled through her purse, dug her license out of her wallet
and gave it to the cop.
She lit another cigarette and waited while he checked her identification
in the light of the cruiser.
“That picture sucks.”
Fox glanced from the license to her face. Brenda smoked while he wrote her vitals on his notepad. Handing it back, he asked, “You said you’re
Sam Wyatt’s daughter?”
The question caught her mid-drag. Hacking and choking, she walked
around in a little circle trying to clear her throat. “Jeez, you tryin’ to kill me? I am no more his daughter
than you are a ballerina.” She snorted at her comparison. “I’m his step-daughter, Officer. Step-daughter.”
he’s married to your mother?”
“Yes, Mrs. Maxine Bettmann Malone Wyatt.”
“And her address?”
“9800 West Freedom Circle. National City.”
“You live with her and Sam?”
“Well, yes and no. Mom lives there but Sam moved out a couple
of days ago.”
“Yeah, he came home on Tuesday I think and took a bunch
of stuff. I’m sure you’ll find it all in there.” She used her cigarette to point at the trailer and van.
“Do you recognize the vehicles over there Miss Malone?”
he nodded toward the van and the trailer.
“The van is Sam’s. Brought it with him when they got
married five years ago. The trailer, they bought together so they could go camping.”
“The security guard told us that Wyatt worked here and was
staying in the trailer temporarily.”
Brenda shrugged. “Guess he didn’t have anywhere else
to go. He’s a deliveryman for the bakery. Leaves the house every day at 4:30.”
“And you said Tuesday is the last day you saw him? Three
forget that day. I was getting ready to go to work at Red Lobster and Sam came
home in his usual nasty mood. I didn’t know it at the time, but Mom had told him she couldn’t take it anymore. He went off on her, yelling loud enough for the neighbors to hear. I watched Mr. and
Mrs. Vishy from up the street drive real slow past our house rubbernecking. Gave
‘em the finger after they drove on.” Brenda shivered.
“Are you cold, Miss Malone?”
“A little. I’m
okay. You have many more questions?”
“Just a few. Did
Sam leave then?”
“No he started throwing stuff in his van. Mom yelled at
him to leave the things that belonged to the house, but he just yelled back and said ‘I’ll take anything I want,
you whore.’ He ended up with the van full of stuff like tools and frozen food.
He even took the lawn mower. Now what would he need a lawn mower for?”
Fox ignored the question, jotting more notes on his pad.
Brenda continued, flicking ashes off with her thumbnail. “Only
reason he’d take the mower is so we wouldn't have one. Same mower that
almost chopped my brother’s foot off now that I think of it. Sam decided that Chuck, he’s my little brother, needed
to mow the lawn one afternoon. Happened to be Chuck’s graduation that night. Rained in the morning and Chuck argued
it was too wet. Sam kept at him and to stop the fight, Mom told Chuck to just
do it. You know, keep the peace. The yard goes down a hill and sure enough Chuck slipped on the wet grass. His right foot
went under and forty-eight stitches later, he’s standing at his graduation on crutches and pain medication. Pisses me
off! My brother could have lost his freakin’ foot because a freaked out
old drunk made him mow the lawn.”
Fox stopped writing on his pad and consulted his notes. “So
you last saw Sam on Tuesday.”
Brenda lit a new cigarette from the glowing tip of the smoked
up butt. “Yeah, riding off into the sunset in his van with the trailer behind.”
“When was the last time your mother saw him?”
“Not sure. He’s been known to drop in unexpectedly
where she works. Creates hell for her cause he’s drunk most of the time.
His daughter works there too and he’ll waltz in pretending to see Nadine but stops by Mom’s office and gives her
a bunch of grief. God, she’s so embarrassed. Her boss has hassled her over him coming in like that. But what’s
she supposed to do?”
“So you’re not sure when your mother saw him last?”
“Do you know anyone who might want to bring harm to Mr.
“Uh, Yeah!” Fox’s head rose sharply from his
paperwork and Brenda saw his suspicion.
“Well not like kill him or anything. But if that’s
Sam in there, you can bet that none of my family will shed more than a few tears. And those will be for Mom who’ll get
the short end of the stick in all this. Guess Sam’s gotten his revenge for all the heartache we supposedly caused him.
Oh, poor Sam!” Her fake sniveling was sharp with sarcasm.