Highway of Tears
By Henry Hatchet
You couldn’t see him in the darkness, unless you knew he was there.
The tall smoker, wearing a black leather jacket, leaned on the burbling Chevy Camaro, as the silver BMW whipped past. It was all wind and tyre noise.
He smiled, crushing out his cigarette.
So much for the speed limit, he thought.
He got in the car, buckled up his four-point harness, and slipped on his night-vision-goggles. This was a special moment. His moment.
Hunting the hunter.
He turned off the traction control and put his foot down hard. The 6.2 litre V8 roared, supercharger screaming, cold tyres barely gripping the bitumen.
Gaining quickly, he rolled down the passenger window and pulled out his .357 magnum revolver, just as he drew level with the hurtling BMW.
He aimed and squeezed the trigger. The vicious boom of the big revolver deafened him. The BMW’s window exploded; its driver slumped to the side. The vehicle swerved off the road to the left, rolling over and over and over, coming to a rest on its roof, amongst the broken glass and debris, catching fire.
Orange flames licked the inky darkness.
No more serial killer.
One week earlier.
‘I don’t need a warrant, if you consent to a search.’ Detective Anne Nikal was very bored, very young for her position, and very attractive. She threw two USPS parcels on the ground at Andrew Jack’s feet.
‘Controlled buys,’ she said. ‘We know all about you Andy, or should I call you by your handle—halfway-house? Your suppliers ship it to you via interstate truckers. You break the marijuana down to retail amounts and you sell it online, on the Dark-Web. I had RCMP Cyber Crimes hack your laptop two weeks ago.’
‘It’s a living,’ Andy said with a smile. He didn’t get many cute visitors. ‘Coffee?’
‘Sure,’ said Nikal. ‘Just cream.’
Andy’s wheelchair whined as he made his way up the ramp to his renovated warehouse. He lived at the back of his parents’ roadhouse on the Highway of Tears in British Columbia, halfway between the towns of Prince George and Prince Rupert. Highway sixteen earned its gruesome nickname because it was the playground of serial killers. Remote and isolated, with soft soils, and an abundance of carnivorous scavengers to carry away human remains.
Nikal was close behind him; he could smell her perfume as she walked up the ramp. ‘We’re not interested in your little racket, Andy.’
‘You’ve certainly done your homework.’ He couldn’t help smiling at the pretty detective, as he flicked on the electric kettle. She walked over to a covered vehicle, still wearing her pink backpack. Long tanned legs ending at a short denim skirt. She looked like the typical backpacker.
‘We’re looking for a vigilante. Have you seen any unusual vehicles or suspicious people hanging around?’
Andy spooned instant coffee into the cups. ‘He’s doing the world a favour if you ask me.’
‘That’s not an answer.’
‘Sorry. No, I haven’t noticed anyone out of place . . . nobody acting suspicious.’ He handed her the coffee.
She took a sip and grabbed the corner of the car cover. ‘Do you mind if I take a look at your car?’
‘You’re barking up the wrong tree. Look at me. Do I look like a vigilante?’
‘Humour me,’ she said and removed the cover from the car. ‘A ZL1 Camaro. Limited Edition. Nice.’
‘My pride and joy. I used to love driving it,’ said Andy, glancing down at his legs. ‘Before the accident, that is. I may have to sell it now.’
‘We know who killed your sister,’ she said, unexpectedly. Her face took on a serious look. ‘We can’t prove it though.’
Monica was twelve years old when she disappeared. She was last seen happily pedalling her bicycle home from school. Andy felt an anger building in his guts, smouldering.
Nikal sipped her coffee, and she ambled around the car, lightly touching it with her fingertips. ‘Of course, we can’t tell you who the man is.’
She put her coffee down and took a notepad from her pocket. Scribbled in it and tore the page out, handing it to Andy. ‘My mobile. Thanks for the coffee and your time. Please call me if you hear or see anything that might help.’
‘Sure,’ Andy said, watching her walk away towards the highway. He looked at the note. There was no mobile number on it.
It read: “Garry Taylor Handlin. Silver BMW M3. Personalized plates 4MYEGO.”
He closed the front door and stood up from the wheelchair, walking around the Camaro, lovingly replacing the car cover.
An unexpected knock startled him, and he quickly sat in the wheelchair again, rolling towards the entrance.
She must have forgotten something, he thought and opened the door.
The man standing in the doorway surprised him.
‘Sergeant Rob Vermeulen. RCMP,’ he said, holding up his identification. ‘Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?’
‘What’s this about?’ asked Andy.
He put his ID away. ‘Just some routine questions. We’re looking for a vigilante. We think they are operating in this—’
Andy interrupted him. ‘I’ve already spoken to Detective Anne Nikal a few minutes ago. She must be your partner.’
The detective was silent, eyeing Andy seriously.
‘That’s not very amusing, sir,’ he said. ‘In fact, it’s kind of sick.’
‘What do you mean?’ said Andy. ‘She just walked out of here a few minutes ago. I’m surprised you didn’t bump into her.’
The detective shook his head slowly, locking eyes with Andy.
‘Miss Anne Nikal was one of the victims. We found her remains last year.’
About the Author:
Henry Hatchet grew up Brisbane and as a teenager, his quest for work led him to the Country. He fell in love with the Australian Outback and although his work led him overseas for a time, he never worked in a city again. He experienced the trials and tribulations of rural life, first hand: the droughts, the floods, the fires, the accidents, the joys of happiness, and love. He now resides on his property in Queensland and wouldn’t have it any other way.
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