He wend his way through the scrub trees, blackberry briars, and weeds. Her body thrust over his shoulder. A small woman she seemed to gain weight with every step. He stopped before climbing the hill dousing the lantern. Dumping her on the ground, he rolled his shoulders, taking out the kinks. He waited his eyes to become accustom to the dark. The full moon flitted in and out behind the clouds. Lightning flashed in the west. The storm was about an hour away.
Picking up the girl’s body, he climbed the rest of the way to the top of Killer’s Nob. On top, he threw her down she was past feeling it, anyway. Turning around surveyed surrounding flat land below him. No lights shone. At 2 AM he was the only one awake. There was only one house within a mile. The grave was on the south side of the cemetery. His were the only kills buried in this secret ground in the last hundred years. He buried the first one 21 years ago. Not here, but several counties away. Right after Buck Olson became the sheriff of Beaufort County, Kentucky. At 18 he was just starting out. He looked down the valley at Buck’s home. He had to be careful since his wife died last fall Buck didn’t sheep much.
As usual, the sheriff was home as on most nights unless there was in an accident on route 5 or one deputy called in sick. Moonlight glinted off the windshield of Buck’s patrol car. Beaufort County Kentucky was a quiet place to live. Just some druggies and a moonshiner or two. Five years ago guy from Indianapolis robbed the bank. Didn’t get far. Buck chased him down and had him in jail before the FBI showed up. The guy was resting his heels in the federal prison at Terre Haute, Indiana. Crime rarely happened in Beaufort County. When it did, Buck was on it like a blue jay on a June bug.
For the next 30 minutes, he dug. The earth soft from the present rains turned over easily. A light winked on in the back of Buck's house. He froze even though the sheriff could not have seen him even if the clouds weren’t covering the full moon. He didn’t move, his eyes fixed on the light. Another light came on the bathroom. Three minutes later, the light in the bathroom blinked off. The the one in the bedroom.
When the house dark again he resumed his work. The grave wasn’t deep enough.
Rain was coming and would catch him before he reached the truck. He rolled her body into the fresh grave. He had a vague feeling he should say something over her grave, but what? He wasn’t a religious man. The one he called his grandmother used to drug him to church each Sunday. Until at 13 he refused to go. He could still see the disappointment in the elderly woman’s eyes. e She had been dead 10 years.
Now he stood over this girl’s final resting place. Pinky her dad called her Pinky. At least he hoped it would be her last grave. If they found her daddy would claim the body and take her back to Indiana.
Girls hitchhiking through Kentucky were all of his kills. Most were transients. In big cities, they would be considered homeless. In middle Kentucky, they called them wanders. Well Pinky would wander no more. What should he say? He knew no Bible verses. For a murderer to say something from from God’s Book over the body of his victim didn’t seem appropriate.
Taking a card from the pocket of his shirt, he strained to make out the letters.He leaned over until his nose almost touched the rough surface. Mumbling the pastor’s name, the name of the church and the rest of the writing. it wasn’t the best material to read over the dead, but if the card had touched the fingers of a preacher, maybe that made it somewhat religious. Several miles away, lightning flashed just over the ridge. He hurriedly, he covered her with the fresh earth. She was number eight the completion. He straightened the gravestone over her head. She was not the first person murdered to be buried here, but she was the last.
Finished, he looked at the grave one last time. Nothing else to be done. He was halfway to where he parked the truck when the first drips fell. Big heavy drips of rain like liquid bullets. By the time he reached the truck, he was soaked. The rain cold even on this hot night refreshed him. He set in the truck, listening to the rain pounding the hood. He closed his eyes, thinking of her.
He saw her for the first time this afternoon, hitchhiking on Route 5 just south of Barstow. Passing her, he took a chance. A mile up the road he pulled to the side of the road and faked a breakdown. This time of day traffic was light. He didn’t think she would have to wait long for a ride. In the eyes of the public, a young girl didn’t pose as much danger as a man. She would feel comfortable if there is another woman or children in a car that stopped for her. He had to appear to non threatening to her. But if someone picked her up, he would lose the game. Or if someone saw the two of them together, he would abort the operation and hunt elsewhere. If they did, he would let her live. He popped the hood and waited for her.
Peeking through the opening between the hood and windshield, he saw her in the opening. She walked over the small rise stopped hesitated come on a few steps. Backed up and started to cross the road. Cautious he liked that it made the hunt more fun. He straightened up, looked around the truck and grinned at her. Some women in actuality most concerted him handsome that is until they saw his eyes. His smile charming, his eyes cold and hard as stones.
“Know anything about motors?” He called. “She was running fine til I topped the ridge.”
“No I’m sorry I don’t.” She said coming closer.
“Well that’s makes two off us.” He said pulling out his cell phone. “Guess I better call for a ride can’t be late for the gig tonight.”
“Gig? Are you a singer?” A little closer. He said to himself. Almost to the tailgate on the truck. Still ready to run if he proved to be dangerous.
“Backup and drummer.” He said. Palming the sap. His hands hidden by the open hood of the truck. He put it in the back pocket of his jeans ready for use.“Ever hear of Garth Brooks?”
“Garth Brooks he’s wonderful.” She said a big smile lighting her face. “You play drums and sing with Garth Brooks?”
“Yeah and fill in on one of the guitars occasionally.” He said. He straightens up and smiled. “Hey tell you what I can probably get you in the back door to meet Garth if you’re in Louisville tonight.”
Her face lit up and then fell. “There’s no way I can make it to Louisville by tonight. It’s too far.”
“One way or the other, I have to be there. You might as well come along.” He said his cell phone rang. He looked at the caller I D. Bill collector. This was wonderful. He hit the end button and held it up to his ear. He had intended to fake a call. This was better. “Hello yeah bill. What no I’ll be there. Trucks broke down on Route 5 bout a hundred mile away. Yeah, if I can’t get it fixed in the next hour I’ll… Sure that would be great if you can send the chopper. Ok I’ll let you know.” He put the phone back on his belt.
“Bill Sands, he’s in charge of the band. Good guy, just a little crazy.” He grinned at her. “Course we all are.” She smiled at him. This was taking too long. Somebody could come by at anytime.
“Here let me take a look. Dad used to work no motors. He got so good the neighbors had him fix theirs.”
Stepping to the front of the pickup, she put her head under the hood. He backed up so she wouldn’t feel threatened. He held the sap behind his back.
“Sometime the battery cable can become loo…” He hit her in the back of the head. Not hard. Just enough to knock her out. As she fell, he caught her. She was lighter than she looked. Throwing her in the bed, he covered her with the blue tarp. Slamming the hood, he started the truck and pulled out onto the highway. A mile down the he passed his first car going in the oppose direction.