Chapter 13: Nick Bracco
Nick had to lie flat on his stomach before he could see it. The imperceptible rectangle underneath the bus.
“You lose something?” Matt asked.
“Remember that shell casing I kept from the Morrison homicide?” Nick asked while scrutinizing the compartment in the undercarriage of the bus.
“The one I told you to tag and inventory?”
“Yeah, that one.”
“What about it?”
“It’s about to pay dividends.”
Matt got down to his knees and following Nick’s stare. “What are you looking at?”
“See that bulge under the bus?”
Matt got ever lower to where his face was pressing against the cool grass. “Yeah?”
“I believe that is where Karl Saxon is currently residing.”
“Damn,” Matt said. “I am very impressed. How did you come up with that one?”
Nick pointed a thumb over his shoulder. “That kid just told me.”
“Oh.” Matt sighed. “You want me to get him?”
“No,” Nick said, coming to his feet. “Just cover me.”
“I can handle that.”
Nick strode toward the gathering of detectives and forensic techs preparing to inspect the bus and said, “Give me five minutes alone before you guys get started.”
Detective Herman Clark gave Nick a half-shrug. “Sure.”
Nick slowly made his way up the steps into the interior of the bus, then cautiously walked down the aisle to the exact location where the compartment was situated. He noticed a slight interruption in the rubber floor mat that ran down the center of the passageway. There was a clean break in the rubber pad, almost seamless to a casual inspection. Nick was very quiet as he subtly pulled up on the mat and peeled away the layer of covering that exposed the hidden door.
Nick pulled out his gun and moved a few feet back before crouching low and saying, “You can come out now Karl. We all know you’re here.”
Nothing happened for a few seconds so Nick added, “I have a very tempting proposition for you that could make your day.”
When the silence lingered Nick said, “Karl, if all I wanted to do was apprehend you I would’ve sent the SWAT team over to smoke you out, but I’m here by myself because of my proposal. If you make me wait another five seconds I will leave and send in the muscle.”
The hidden door hinged open and Nick could see a hand pushing up on the platform. Then Karl Saxon’s head came up wincing from the tight quarters he’d just subjected himself to.
“That seems very uncomfortable,” Nick said, holding the pistol out just for affect.
Saxon rubbed his neck and sat upright. Half his body was still beneath the floor level.
“Please,” Nick said. “Do me a favor and place your hands on the floor.”
Saxon complied. A huge scowl of dissatisfaction on his face. “Okay,” he said. “I’m listening.”
Nick pulled out a plastic baggie from his inside jacket pocket. A cylinder-shaped object sagged to the bottom of the bag. “Do you know what this is?”
Saxon shrugged. “No clue.”
“It’s the shell casing you left behind at the Morrison homicide.”
A flicker of recognition flashed across his face.
“Ah,” Nick said. “Suddenly you remember that little mistake.”
“Well, here is my proposition,” Nick said, dangling the baggie like a treat for a hungry dog. “This bit of evidence would surely tie you to the Morrison murder. Something you’ve been able to avoid your entire career. But I’m willing to keep my tiny souvenir if you tell me where the missing girls are.”
Saxon was about to speak, but Nick interrupted. “Please don’t insult me and say which girls.”
Saxon’s scowl wilted into resignation. “How do I know you won’t introduce it once I tell you?”
Nick shook his head. “You’re just going to have to trust me Karl. Morrison was a terrorist. You did me a huge favor by getting rid of him. Now I’m willing to return the favor.” Nick held up the baggie once again and dangled it.
Saxon seemed to be cursing himself, muttering indecipherable words under his breath.
“I didn’t hear you,” Nick said.
Saxon’s face was taut with anger. “They’re inside the bedroom closet.”
“The Master bedroom in the main house. Have Stone look at the pull down hatch to the attic. That’s where they are.”
Nick returned the baggie to his jacket pocket. “Pleasure doing business with you Karl.”