SEALs of Honor:Jackson(10)

By: Dale Mayer

“Thanks. I’m pretty damn happy about that myself,” she muttered. “The thing is, I was there. A couple bullets were fired, but they were aimed at the windshield. So warning shots.”

“Could they have seen Jackson?” Mason asked Deli. “And, if they didn’t see him clearly, they may have thought Chester was there instead. Maybe they have an old beef with him and just wanted to rattle his bones a little bit.”

“Then why shoot the two military guys who went after them?” Jackson questioned.

“It’s possible they were too close, and the shooters were in danger of getting caught,” Mason said. “So they turned around and attacked instead. That would also explain why they didn’t kill them. It wasn’t their intent from the start.”

“But they did shoot them—one at least,” Jackson said. “That driver had a bullet hole in his shoulder and a graze alongside his head.”

Deli nodded. “But I bet no bullets were found there, were there?”

“I did a cursory look but didn’t see any,” Jackson said. “Of course the head shot grazed him, and that bullet could be somewhere along that road or down the hills off one of those tight turns. But the driver’s shoulder shot was through-and-through. The bullet didn’t enter his seat. So it’s got to be somewhere.”

“Maybe we should go on a drive,” she said suddenly. “Take a look …”

“Whoa,” Jackson said. “You did hear me say that thing about getting removed from the investigation since I’m a witness?”

“I did. But you and Tanner already picked up that cigarette butt and took photos of tire tracks,” she reminded him.

He glared at her. She glared back at him.

Mason started to laugh. “You can’t go tonight,” he said. “It’s pitch black out there, and you won’t be able to see anything. However, if you’re both up to it, I suggest—if you feel that strongly—that you go at the crack of dawn, before that storm is supposed to hit. Take a look, see what you can find. But I would also park a long way away and walk in. You don’t know if anybody else will be watching. Or if the shooters are returning to the same crime scene.”

“Why would they?” Jackson asked curiously.

“Hard to say,” Mason said. “But, for all you know, they’re seeding forensic evidence to lay the blame for this elsewhere.”

“Meaning, they could have found a way to blame Chester?”

“I don’t know how or why that would be,” Mason said. “But, considering Chester is the one person who couldn’t have been involved because of the accident he had earlier …”

“But do the shooters know about that?” Deli asked. “Still, it’s a bit of a stretch.”

“All this is a bit of a stretch,” Mason said in exasperation. “If you have to go, don’t take anything or remove anything from a crime scene,” he warned. “There will be a formal investigation into this. But, as you know, sometimes the brass’s wheels move slowly.”

Chapter 3

When she got home later that night, Deli walked straight to her shower. She had a small one-bedroom apartment to herself on base. She preferred living on base, but, at the same time, a part of her wanted to find a place out of town. She’d only been in Coronado a year, but somehow that year had come and gone, and she hadn’t done anything about moving. But, even more so now, as she was living and breathing the military life, it was important to get some sense of balance. And living away from base would help in many ways.

She quickly scrubbed down, taking extra time on her hair. She had auburn hair that stopped just below her shoulders. She kept it in a braid, but, for washing, she took it out of the braid and gave her head a good scrub, almost moaning as the hot water poured over her body. When she came out, wrapped in a bathrobe and her hair in a towel, she made a cup of tea and sat down in front of her laptop.

She downloaded all the images she’d taken with her cell phone. While she waited for them to load, several emails came in, and they were all from Jackson. He had sent her the photos from the crime scene: the photos he’d taken of the tire tracks and of the overturned military truck. She appreciated his thoroughness. She searched through them and found some amazingly close-up pictures of the accident.

Obviously one of the two men had been pulled from the vehicle and was lying to the side of it as they awaited medical assistance. Jackson took the pictures as he had tried to help the two injured men. Photos of the side of the vehicle, the top, the undercarriage—basically he’d done a three-sixty inside and out as much as he could. She slowly went through them one at a time, looking to see what damage had been done. Because it had flipped end over end, an awful lot of the vehicle’s metal damage came just from its collision with the ground.

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