Once in a while I post some fiction, a few excerpts from a new novel or a short story. I have also posted a Star Trek The Next Generation short story a few year back. I keeping with writing fanfiction I have a Longmire short story. Reader of this blog will know I am a big fan of the series starring Robert Taylor and Katee Sackhoff. I also review the books by Craig Johnson when they are released (next one is Land of Wolves in September).
Well, without further ado, here is my Longmire fanfiction.
The Headless Body of Verona Marchant
I watched her thighs with careful side glances. I didn’t want her to know how much I adored their sight as the dress she wore became short due to the wind. Vic had placed her legs upon the dash as I drove the police Jeep Grand Cherokee to the scene of the accident. Vic knew I was watching her. It had been since Christmas since she had worn a dress with knee high boots during the day – other than several evenings spent at the Red Pony.
Through another glance I could see a smile beneath the Ray Ban sunglasses. It was the first warm spring weekend and I had already seen people in t-shirts strolling through Durant. Suddenly I became conscious of my 253 pound frame.
“Did Ruby say who placed the call?”
Vic crossed her left leg over her right, exposing more of her thigh.
“No. I didn’t get a name. Just that we need to move the body or what’s left of it as soon as possible. Before you know, people start taking pictures”
Vic and I had just left the cabin when the call came in from Ruby. Knowing that there were plenty of listeners to the police channel – an illegal activity – she had used cryptic language to indicate a passerby had found a body – probable traffic accident – about 20 minutes east of Durant. Highway Patrol were not on the scene, but Saizarbitoria would be soon. The body, or what was left of it was found hanging from a cattle fence. That part of Wyoming is where the low rolling hills changed to the grassland prairie that gave flat earth believers so much fodder.
* * *
We arrived at the scene of the ‘accident’, there was nobody around, just the obvious sign of a victim. We were roughly in the right area, but the sight of the victim was not as I expected. Vic pull out her phone after it started buzzing. After 20 seconds of hushed conversation she placed it back in her purse – which she was still wore as though she was going to church. Which we were until Ruby’s call.
“Was that Saizarbitoria?”
“Yup”. Vic without adding what her conversation was about. It would be important and it was up to me to pry it loose.
“Where is he?”
“At the scene of the accident”
I looked around and as much as I tried I only could see empty farmland. Just twenty miles further east the terrain would be as flat as Iowa. Nothing, just a sheriff, his deputy wearing a dress and a decapitated head lying in the grass. It wasn’t my first. It was actually my second.
“You seen anything like that before?”
“You mean other than crushed bodies, crushed heads, bit of both and missing limbs”
“Hell shit no. Nothing like a clean decap”
I looked at the head. I felt miserable looking at it, everything felt heavy. The head was still stuck in its helmet. The visor was up and the part of the face exposed was looking straight down the road. But there was no body, very little blood and no motorcycle or automobile that could explain the accident.
“What accident is Saizarbitoria at?”
“The one with the headless body stuck in the fence 8 miles north”
I performed a quick mental calculation. The road they were on went east to west. To go north, other than on closed off farm roads, you had to take the dirt road 5 miles west.
“One long way for a head to fly. Right Walt?”
* * *
After bagging the head and processing the scene I drove the Jeep with Vic and our guest to the scene of the accident – the other one. I assumed it would be the ‘real’ scene. Vic had by now planted her Ray Bans at the front of her dress top, revealing a bit of cleavage. I assumed the game would last until this evening.
“What do you reckon happened?” Vic asked.
I responded in a monotone voice so as to bring doubt to my own opinion.
“It could have been an accident. The wound looked like it had been caused by a rope”
“That is not an accident. If someone strung a rope or steel cord across the road. That is murder – in the first degree”
“If it was a rope it may have ended up on the road by accident. Anything could have tightened it? And if the head landed on a car or truck without the driver noticing it would have carried on for miles”
“It did, but how the fuck would somebody not know if somebody else got decapped in an accident”
I silently agreed with her, without first investigating the scene Saizarbitoria was currently processing nothing seemed to make sense.
“She was quite a looker though” Vic added.
“You had a look under the helmet”
“Pulled the visor up as far as I could. Early thirties, beautiful red hair and the most sensuous lips I ever saw”
I glanced at Vic in surprise.
“What? Women notice that sort of thing”
“Not many women are bikers” I responded to try and probe her opinion.
“No, and I don’t think they would apply foundation for a ride. She had”
“Then a deliberate body dump is possible”
“And forget the head, or the body – whichever way it is? No Saiz said it looks as though the accident occurred at his place”
* * *
10 minutes later we arrived at the scene of the accident. Apart from deputy Saizarbitoria nobody was there. Except for the dead body hanging in the wire fence by the side of the road. A toppled Harley Davidson bike lay beside the body. As I parked the car I could reconcile with what I saw with what I believed had happened. A steel rope indeed lay beside the road. The young woman had probably been thrown into the air after her motorcycle had hit dirt. Her slender body had ended up caught in the barbed wire not unlike some cattle after their death struggle against the barbs.
“Well, head meets body, but no happy reunion” Vic said.
Saizarbitoria walked over to us.
“Hey boss, you got the head?”
“Yup. You got an ID on the body”.
“Verona Marchant, from Salt Lake City, aged 32”
I looked at the body hanging on the fence. She was wearing a form fitting leather outfit. Too tight to be comfortable. From this angle I could see she was tall. Not the type I would imagine riding a Harley. I looked more carefully at her wound as I approached the fence. The spot where the head had severed was just a narrow piece of flesh. I would almost have been tempted to reunite head and body. Except I didn’t.
“You got any idea what happened?” asked Vic.
“There is a steel wire beside the road. It has blood on it. Now, I don’t think it was strung across. This wire has been here for a while by the looks of it. Somehow it must have tightened”
“And the head?” I asked.
“Not a clue. I looked for it all over the place until I called Vic to see where you guys were”.
* * *
After half an hour both Doctor Bloomfield and the Highway Patrol showed. The good doctor confirmed the victim was very dead and the HP apologized for being late. She made an excuse to say that she was chasing down a driverless car. I hadn’t seen Rosey Wayman in months. We first met during the events in the Wind River Canyon when a retired police officer broadcasted messages from a HP dead nearly 50 years.
“This driverless car wouldn’t be owned by a Verona Marchant, of Salt Lake City?”
“No, the markings are that off a rental service from Salt Lake City”
“Where is the car now?”
“At the Red Pony. Whoever controlled it had it stop right there”
I considered that Ms. Verona Marchant, aged 32 of Salt Lake City would be that person.
* * *
As we drove into the parking lot of the Red Pony I could see the Tesla car, with its rental advertising and Utah plates. If there was any doubt it was the car that supposedly drove itself, it was taken away by the license plate number and the fact it was only one that was parked within the designated parking spot. As Vic and I walked over to the car and passed the Red Pony’s entrance a burly man just exited.
“Are you the sheriff?”
“No he is fucking Santa Clause” Vic snapped.
I gave her a look and she continued on to the car. Just behind the burly man, whom I thought I had seen before, stood the Cheyenne Nation.
* * *
“Henry, did you know the victim”
“I do not know who drove the driverless car, but I do know the woman with red hair. She had been at the Red Pony for the last two days”.
“Was she with anyone?”
“Hey Walt, come and take a look at this” Vic yelled across the car park.
Me and the Cheyenne Nation walked over to the Tesla car, the black sleek exterior of the Model 3 impressed me considerably. Vic had already started opening the doors, either HP had unlocked them or they were never closed.
As we approached Vic pointed to the rear window.
“Those cameras are unusual”
“It’s a self-driving car” I responded, but she nodded that wasn’t what she meant. As I looked into the interior through the side door I could see a camera rig had been fixed to the rear seat rest. The otherwise Spartan interior made it clear the rear pointing camera should not normally be there.
“Those aren’t for detecting traffic” Vic stated
“What is it for?” I asked. I knew these kind of cars had plenty of cameras, but little idea about how the whole set up worked.
“My best guess, they are for a photoshoot. One in which there was no photographer. And I think this shoot was quite successful”
Vic held out a tablet, it had been lodged next to the camera. On the tablet I could see an image of the victim riding a bike without any clothes on. Vic saw my apprehension when I looked away.
“What? It is obviously what she was going for”
Vic quickly flipped through the images. By the looks of the background the victim, Verona Marchant, had organized her own photoshoot. Several times she would appear wearing a different outfits, usually not what you would wear to the office, and then proceed to fully strip while the tesla car with its camera monitored everything.
“She used the Tesla for nude photoshoots. By setting it course, usually backroads where few people would see her, she could follow by bike. Taking pauses to remove clothes” Vic said
“Are there any videos on that tablet?”
Vic was busy flicking her finger on the tablet. I had seen her do it to at the office. I however, never enjoyed using a computer much.
“Yes, going back to the last 3 days, about 20 or so. It looks like after every video was done she would select the best images and keep them in a separate file”
“And the last video” I asked.
“From today, looks like she has not gone through it yet. It must be the one she filmed during her accident”
The last phrase Vic used indicated she didn’t like this thing being accidental. But I had to admit to myself that what Verona Marchant had been doing was extremely dangerous. Riding a Harley at speed with usually no clothes on right behind a self-driving car sounded like lunacy.
Vic held out the tablet. It showed a video of today. Miss Marchant again went through several scenarios. This time wearing the biker outfit she was wearing today. Vic flipped through the video, evidently trying to move the video forward to the moment of the accident. But one brief scene showed the victim trying to take the top half her leather outfit by sliding it over her back, taking her hands of the handle bars.
“Damm dangerous bitch”
I could understand Vic lamenting the choices the victim had made. Bikers were not for nothing known as organ donors in the business. As Vic again moved the video forward we could now see Miss Marchant standing right behind the Tesla. She had evidently just entered the last coordinates into the car’s navigation system. Walking back to her bike she once again donned her leather outfit and in her hand held the helmet which now contained only her head.
Just as she was starting her bike I could see her face before placing the helmet on her head. Her expression was one of extreme frustration and sadness. Maybe she had even been crying. Vic had seen the same.
“Well, that was the end of that photoshoot”
Vic flipped the video forward, but the next shot showed no biker behind the car. She moved back again a few minutes. We were both shown a grizzly scene. Vic had guessed the moment correctly. A steel wire had sprung up just after car, decapitating the victim, who did not try to dodge the wire at all and which sent her head flying into the air. The bike maintained course for 2 seconds before it rode into the berm and sending the now headless rider through the air. In the cloud of dust, the last thing the camera saw was the body of Miss Verona Marchant landing in the fence.
“Fuck me” Vic said.
I could already imagine the newspaper articles that would be written by this event. However, I was more concerned about the head. The accident had occurred just before a parked pick up on the side of the road. The head could have landed in the back.
“It may not have been an accident” I said.
“The pickup? You mean someone tightened that rope?”
* * *
“Did you find out more about the victim?”
She worked as a prostitute, stripper and nude model. Lately she has maintained her own porn site”
“Can someone do that?”
Vic looked at me as though I should already know the answer.
“Yes, Walt. With computers, I mean the large rectangular box with screens that somehow talks, you can practically do anything. You can build your own website, create a payment system and add any pictures you want. Verona has a website for three months”
“Where did she work as a prostitute?”
Vic once again looked at the screen.
“West Wendover, Nevada”
“Where did she stay over?”
“At the Motel 1 outside of town”
I nodded again. Another one of those Patel motel’s. I didn’t know the owner much.
“Ooh Walt. She wasn’t in town alone. Some of the videos showed her with another woman, another model.”
Vic held the tablet to me. I could see two young women with their back turned to the camera holding their t-shirts above their head. The two women appeared to be flashing an older couple as who drove passed in a hatchback.
“I figured out her name – Maddie Kelly”
“Do you know where she is?”
“She is also staying at the motel. I talked with her on the phone and I have set up a meeting with her for in an hour. She didn’t want to come in”
I wasn’t happy with people not wanting to come in. Travelling through Absaroka County would take at least an hour in any direction.
“At the Busy Bee”
I made my way to the Busy Bee at the right time. Inside there were just a handful of patrons and only one that fitted the description. The young woman was seated at the far end away from anyone else. I walked over.
“Maddie Kelly?” I asked inquisitively.
“Are you the sheriff?”
“Yes I am. Walt Longmire” and I seated myself opposite her. She was in her mid-20’s with dark hair and a pale skin. She was perhaps not as comely as Miss Verona Marchant and sadly I could judge that Ms. Maddie was a prostitute. I also surmised she already knew about what had happened to Ms. Marchant.
“I would like to talk about Verona. Can you tell me what happened to her?”
“I heard there was an accident. I knew we should never have used the Tesla like that”
“You did program the Tesla to set out a course for your own photoshoot”
“Yes, it was Verona’s idea. She was always clever like that. We would place some gallon jugs of water on the seat to let the car think someone was inside”
I nodded, me and Vic had already surmised as much.
“We thought it was safe, as long as we kept a respectable distance so the car wouldn’t brake”
“Unfortunately, it was not safe”
“I guess not” she flinched at her own words, judging them to be too callous. I didn’t think they were, I had seen people react in such strange ways to death.
“How bad was she injured? I mean, I know she dead, but she wouldn’t have like to be run over like some rodent”
“I am afraid the injuries were quite horrific” I decided to judge my words carefully, not wanting to give unnecessary detail that might shock, but I had to tell the truth.
“We found her body stuck in cattle fence. It looks as though she was ejected off her motorcycle”
I saw Maddie give a somber look at the news, but in likelihood it was not as bad as she feared. The other detail, about the head that got severed and which travelled for miles in a yet unknown pick-up truck she would hear later, from someone else.
“Miss. Kelly – Verona’s death has not yet been announced, even the patrons of the Red Pony did not know until about an hour ago”
“Who told you of the accident?”
“My boss, Big D”
“Big D?”, the name sounded familiar. I considered I might know a man by that name who had once worked as a male escort at a casino. Later on he became a pimp.
“And what exactly did Big D tell you”
“Only that there had been an accident and that he had called the police”
“Someone did call the police about an accident, usually people stay at the scene until the police arrive. Your boss could be in trouble”
“I don’t think he wanted to stay and get into trouble”
“You said your boss, is Big D your pimp?”, I had already guessed that he was, but I was always curious if people would lie about such a thing. Initially they do, admitting to doing something against the norm is not easy. But Maddie surprised me.
“He is, I have been working for him for about 2 years now out in Nevada”, she said, with a little bit of shame.
“But he knew nothing about the photoshoot did he?”
“No he didn’t, it was Verona’s idea. She wanted to earn money so she could move north to Vancouver, Canada, start a new life perhaps. She started a website some time ago, to again try to get her modelling career moving forward. This time with more risqué material”, she blushed as she said it. “And a few days ago she told Big D she would take some time off. Girls come and go in Nevada, she had never really managed to settle into the brothel”
“But you went with her!”
“She asked me, told me I would get paid if anyone paid for the pictures online. I saw no harm”
“Do you think Big D might have? How come he arrived Durant?”
“He arrived the day after we did. I think he might have checked with the rental company in Salt Lake City”
“What happened when he arrived?”
“He told us he wouldn’t allow us to leave the brothel. He is keeping onto our money you see. So Verona made a deal with him. He would get a cut from her website and in a few months-time we would be allowed to leave”
“You reckon he really has your money”
That got a look from Maddie.
“You know that is exactly what Verona said. I guessed she didn’t believe his bullshit either. Anyway, he backed off and allowed us to continue the photoshoot. Until the last day”
“What happened this morning?”
“Big D told me not to ride out to meet Verona, instead he wanted to talk to her”
“And when he came back she was dead”, Maddie looked at me when I finished.
“You don’t think it was an accident do you”
“Miss Kelly. I know for a fact it wasn’t” I paused for a moment to let my comment sink in. “Your boss, Big D – he wouldn’t happen to drive a white pick-up truck would he?”
* * *
I had to find Big D. Not that I could pin the accident on him, but I definitely wanted to question him. I picked Vic up from the sheriff station and together we went to the Red Pony. Since the morning she managed to change her dress into a denim skirt.
“What? I don’t want to be on duty the whole day on that thing”
I couldn’t agree with her more. Vic had already queried the Motel 1 for a man fitting Big D’s description, but he wasn’t there. She had asked Patel under what name the man had signed in and told him of when his answer was Big D. I was reminded of the man that stumbled out of the Red Pony this morning just as we arrived and who recieved a short reply from Vic.
As we arrived at the Red Pony I took a look as what cars were parked. One mini-van, beige, two black pick-ups, one hatchback that might belong to someone who was lost, Lola and one white pick-up truck.
“You reckon that belongs to our guy” asked Vic.
“I hope so, I want to bring this thing to an end”
“You don’t know it wasn’t an accident”
“You saw the video. There was a pick-up at the scene and Maddie all but confirmed there was a row between Verona and Big D”
“But if he pulled the wire tight then he must have known he would be filmed by the Tesla as it was moving passed”
That part I did not understand myself. It may have been a spur of the moment thing. Miss Verona Marchant had earlier decided to cut short her photoshoot, as evidenced by her sad expression. So I surmised she had a row with Big D. But was it on the phone? Or was he there physically? And did he later on decide to kill her when her Tesla drove past? If he did it and Verona’s head had landed in the pick-up truck there would be blood splatter.
I parked our sheriff’s Jeep right next to the white pick-up. Vic got out as I tried to undo my seat buckle. The last thing I saw as I struggled to get my aged frame out was her slight body wearing a denim skirt stepping out of sight.
“What the fuck!” Vic said in her Baltimore accident. I was pretty certain the patrons inside the Red Pony must have heard.
Finally I managed to step out of the Jeep.
“Big D isn’t making things difficult. Walt, there is more blood here than at the prized butchers.”
I could see Vic was right when I looked into the back of the pick-up.
“How come he wouldn’t know and clean it up before parking it here”
“Probably because he didn’t know” I answered her, “This is one of those self-driving cars again. Big D had it drive to the scene of the accident on its own”
“Without him in it” asked Vic.
“I think so, can’t be certain, I think he walked over to the scene of the accident, strapped the steel wire on the back of the pick-up. When Verona approached he ordered the pick-up to start moving. It tightened the wire and the Verona ended up decapitated, with the head falling into the pick-up. Big D must have walked back to the Red Pony. The distance is not as far if he walked across those fields over there” and I pointed south.
“So he would have an alibi”
“Yup, he called the sheriff’s department right away, probably using a burner phone”
“And when he got here he ordered the pick-up back to the Red Pony”
“Or it was programmed to do so anyway, after making a timely detour. It would park itself quietly while Big D was inside having a beer”
“And the head?” Vic asked.
“It fell out when the pick-up made a U-turn – an illegal move I might add”.
“So there were two driverless cars” Vic stated.
“Yes, HP got a call. For all we know they followed the wrong one to the Red Pony”.
“How are we supposed to proof any of it?” Vic asked.
* * *
I decided to confront Big D. I wanted to talk to him anyway, make it clear I believed he should have told me about his acquaintance with the victim. Both Vic and I stepped into the Red Pony. It was not as busy as I thought it would be. It was just Henry, wiping down the bar and trying to ignore me, one couple obviously lost and one broad man in the back drinking from a glass of beer and rearranging the remains of a hot dog on his plate before him.
We walked up to Big D and actually managed to surprise him. When he looked up, with a look of surprise and fear I could see in his eyes it had been more than one beer so far.
“Sheriff Longmire” He acknowledged, “what can I do for you?”. He took more than a passing glance at Vic. I didn’t like how he sized her up, knowing in the dirty business he worked in.
“I want to talk to you about Verona”
“Ooh Verona, I always liked her”
“I spoke to Maddie, she told me the two of you had been arguing in the last few days”
“Maddie, where is that girl?”
“In town”, I wasn’t about to tell him more knowing he would do his best to take her back to his brothel in Nevada.
“It’s Verona’s death I wanted to talk to you about”
“I heard, such a ghastly accident”
“Who told you what had happened?” Vic asked.
Big D took another long look at Vic. I knew he saw potential in her. Perhaps it was how he measured up every woman, but as he looked away I felt he knew Vic wasn’t worth the hassle.
“I saw it on your local newspaper website”
Vic had told me an article has been placed online, but there had been no victim name attached.
“How did you know it had been Verona, and not Maddie?”
“Maddie wasn’t doing any photography today”
“That white pick-up truck outside, is it yours?”
“I am not certain. Do I need a lawyer to answer that question?”
“It has to be right? This place is 2 miles outside of town. And you are not that hungry, or thirsty, to walk 2 miles for some hot dog and beers”
I glanced at Vic. She had taken up position on the other side of Big D. She leaned against the bar with her arms cross-folded. If needed to, she would play the bad cop.
“It’s his white pick-up alright” said the Cheyenne Nation, who was now standing behind the bar.
“You shut up Indian. You don’t know what you are talking about!”
Henry didn’t flinch and Big D didn’t follow up on his outburst. I remained calm and looked at Henry.
“And how do we go about proving that?” I asked.
“You ask the car to call up the phone that ordered it to move” Henry said. Big D looked as though he would again say something to Henry but with my gaze fixed upon him he didn’t.
“How would that prove anything” I asked.
“Yeah, I don’t even have a phone with me” Big stated.
“That because you threw it away. After you ordered the pick-up back to the Red Pony” Vic said.
“It may prove it belongs to the fine gentleman eating my hot dogs, if it has his finger prints on it”.
“But how do we find it?” I asked
“As I said, by asking the pick-up to call it”
Within 3 minutes we had done as Henry had suggested. Big D remained inside the Red Pony with Henry. The lost couple having since departed. They knew that being lost in nearby Durant was a better idea. Vic asked the white pick-up truck to call the phone that had last ordered it to move. After two tries we had uncovered the phone. Luckily it had been ditched on top of a trash basket instead of inside it.
Inside the Red Pony Big D had an instant reply.
“That doesn’t proof anything”
“What is it not supposed to prove? That Verona didn’t die in an accident? That you didn’t tie a steel rope around a pole and onto the white pick-up? That you didn’t order the truck to move and decapitate Verona when the steel wire became taught?”
“Decapitate?” asked Big D. I saw in his eyes the look of shock. He hadn’t known, he was probably just hoping to knock Verona of her bike, maybe kill her if that was the result.
“That is what happens dipshit” Vic said. “It sent her head flying into the air into your white pick-up truck”
I could see the Big D was making quick mental calculations. He was fighting his own inebriation.
“If you had run immediately after we had left with the Tesla, you would have made it out of town. Hell, you would have noticed there was blood in the back of the pick-up. Instead, you wanted to perfect your own alibi by staying in the Red Pony. After the heat had died down you wanted to head back into Durant and find Maddie. I guess she is worth a pretty penny to you”.
“That bitch Verona should not have tried to take my merchandise. She always thought she was too good to work in my brothel”
With that I arrested Big D. It was quite an affair. I managed to press him down onto the table as Vic was fetching handcuffs from the top of her knee-high boots. As I tried to put them on Big D the weight of both of us collapsed the table. Big D was arrested but would require some emergency dentistry.
* * *
Back at the Sheriff’s office Vic was typing out the report. She had noted down most of the conversation I had had with Maddie.
“So how are we going to call this case? You know, like they do in detective novels”.
I thought for a moment.
“I reminds me of a newspaper clipping. Headless body in topless bar”
“I always thought that one was funny” Vic said.
“It’s absurd, and yes, a little bit funny” I replied. “Let’s just call it ‘the case of the death of Verona Marchant’”
I looked at what Vic was typing. All I could make out was ‘headless hooker’ before she scrolled down the police report.