Cold Case

Raymond was a stranger to them all. In fact, thinking about it, Bill was almost certain he’d only seen the man a handful of times in the ten years he’d lived in Maspeth.

To each his own, he figured.

“Old Man Jamison’s property abuts the Raymond place, but there’s a hill and trees in the way, so he didn’t see anything but the car tearing by on the road.”

Old Man Jamison said it was pistol fire. “Small arms” is the word he actually used. And Bill trusted the old man’s judgment; he was weak and frail, but as sharp as ever. If he said he heard pistol fire, by God, he heard pistol fire.

Dreading what he might find, Bill stuffed his two-hundred-and-fifty pound frame into his squad car and drove the six miles to Deer Ridge Road. The day was cold and bright, the sun a brilliant gold and the barren trees standing in full detail. The roads were still slushy from Sunday’s storm, and heaps of snow tingled black flanked the highway. One thing Bill hated about northern PA was that the snow never melted until spring, sometimes as late as April or May; once the snow flew, it stuck, and you either lived with it, or you hung yourself.

Deer Ridge Road was a narrow and winding tract of rutted pavement that coursed through the hills for three miles before the first signs of life appeared; shacks and sheds, their lawns strewn with wreckages. The hill people were poor and hardy. A lot of people up there drank fought; last summer, a meth lab blew up there, killing two brothers and a girl from Jerusalem who had a reputation of being a white trash slut. Most of the 911 calls in this part of the county came from Deer Ridge, and even those were few and far between.

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