The Train: Episode 43

Detective Ronald Brewer sat at his desk nursing a cup of hot coffee. After a sip, he reached into the bottom desk drawer, pulled out a flask, and added a generous splash of whiskey. Pushing the drawer closed, he winced and rubbed his shoulder where Richard Carpenter had winged him.

“That guy’s crazy,” Brewer said, reaching for the cup.

It had been almost two days since they found Matthew Carpenter, and with no word from Richard, he was starting to get jumpy. The mild weather of late had led to storms, and as Brewer watched out the window, heavy winds tore at trees, sending leaves swirling through the air and racing down the street.

When the phone suddenly rang, Brewer jumped, spilling the hot liquid down his shirtfront. Cursing, he dropped the cup, bouncing it across the desk to the floor. As if in a daze, he watched the coffee collect in a puddle and run down the corner of the desk onto the worn carpet. A second ring snapped him out of his daydream, and he quickly reached for the phone.

“Hello?” he asked, his voice quivering.

“Brewer,” Richard said on the other end, “release my brother and send him to the garage. The killer is trapped there, and I will need his help.”

“But—” Brewer began in protest. The line went dead.

Brewer dumbly stared at the phone in confusion before finally hanging up and heading to the holding cells.

Retrieving the keys, he found Tommy on the cell cot, out cold in a deep sleep.

As he unlocked the cell door, Brewer yelled out,

“Carpenter. Get up!”

Tommy snapped awake and turned toward the voice, struggling to focus.

“Yea. What is it?” he yawned.

“Your brother called. You’re to meet him at the garage. Said he has the killer cornered and wants your help,” Brewer explained.

“Great! I’ll need your wheels,” Tommy said, snapping to his feet.

Without another word, Brewer stood aside as Tommy burst out of the cell.

He knew it was against rules to let anyone outside the department drive his car, but right now, he didn’t care. He could feel his sanity slipping away, his life slowly unraveling.

Reaching into his coat pocket, Brewer removed his car keys and held them out.

Tommy grabbed them and ran for the exit, leaving behind a despondent Brewer.

The detective shuffled into the empty cell and plopped down on the cot. Setting the cell keys at his side, he pulled out his revolver and stared at it for a long moment. Loading a round, he pulled back the hammer and pressed the barrel to his chin. With eyes closed and a quivering lip, Brewer took a deep breath.

“That may not be the best decision, Detective,” a man with a mid-Atlantic accent said.

Brewer stopped and looked toward the cell door. The light behind the man obscured his face.

“I can promise you things are not as bleak as they seem,” the man continued.

“What do you know?” Brewer asked. “My life is spiraling out of control.”

“Spiraling? Or merely righting itself?” the man asked.

 

 

*          *          *

 

 

Tommy always spent most of his time in the garage, working on cars and giving orders to his personal crew. Eager to be of help to his brother Richard, he pulled to a stop just outside and walked through the front door. Three men, all his employees, were gathered around the television watching the latest weather updates.

“Guys, don’t we have something better to do than watch television. My brother’s here, and he needs our help.”

The men looked at each other in confusion and one said,

“Boss, your brother ain’t here.”

Another added, “Yea, boss. He called a few minutes ago and told us to wait here for you.”

Tommy knew something wasn’t right. His muscles clinched as he hurried out of the room to his office. At first glance, everything looked just as he had left it. But when he tried to find the keys to his Plymouth, they were missing. Cursing, he stormed out of the office.

“Get in the truck. We’re going hunting,” he yelled.

Scrambling to their feet, the three men ran for the truck and pulled up out front. Just as Tommy was coming through the front door, he heard the phone in his office ringing.

“Hold up,” he hollered. “That might be Richard.”

He hurried back to his office and grabbed the phone.

“Hello?” Tommy said.

“Hello?” he repeated.

While he listened for an answer, he noticed that something was different. The high backed leather chair was turned away from the desk, something he never did. In a chill of fear, he reached out with a shaking arm and turned the chair around. Slumped in the seat was a bruised, bleeding and very dead Richard. Tommy saw a crumpled piece of paper sticking out of the gaping mouth. Feeling as though he might vomit, he reached out and slowly pulled on the end. As he hung up the phone, he carefully opened the paper. Scribbled in his brother’s handwriting, the note read,

“One left.”

Tommy threw down the paper, pulled out his gun and ran to the front door. Flinging it open, he yelled,

“Guys!”

Just as one of the men opened the window to hear, the truck exploded, killing all three men and throwing Tommy back inside the house.

Lying on the floor from the impact, Tommy lifted his hands to his aching head. When he opened his eyes, he saw that written on the ceiling were the words—

“You’re next.”

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