April at the Antique Alley (16 page)

North Texas is traditionally dry even in April but the cemetery, of course, needed lush green grass so they watered every single morning. That is why the blacktop was wet. As Donald goosed the throttle and the Harley carried him and Jill quickly away his path could be marked by a dry tire tread pattern left on the wet blacktop for just a moment until the moisture reclaimed the spot erasing the track but it was in that very brief moment that my brain screamed at me that it was important to think and I looked harder as five diamond shapes glowed then faded from the road.

 

CHAPTER-16.

 

I was sure Jill could not hear my loud shout over the roar of the Harley’s engine as she and Donald quickly faded from view. I ran the few steps to Detective Samuels. It was unfortunate that Samuels was still engaged in conversation with Fredrick Smith because I interrupted to tell Samuels I had seen the diamond pattern which would mean that Fredrick’s son, Donald, was the person who broke into my house and also did at least one of the killings. Fredrick looked surprised but I saw that spark of recognition in Detective Samuels’ eyes and that is all I needed. I knew he would spring to action.

I turned and quickly spotted Jana who was still talking with the Crowleys and currently had her back to me. With my right hand I grabbed her left wrist and physically pulled her across the road. The two of us dressed in matching black utility dresses sprinted across the cemetery towards the chapel where my car was parked. As we were running I shouted to her what had happened and somehow our troubles with each other either melted or were at least postponed.

When we reached my car as I was fumbling with my keys I noticed three things. First; Samuels and one or two others had followed me and were running for the cars. Second; the other mourners were quickly crowding into the limos and other cars with the exception of one man. Third; that one man was Fredrick Smith who was furiously shouting into a cell phone. My only hope was that he was not telling Donald we were on to him, but I couldn’t think of anything else that would be so important that he would take this moment to make a phone call. I also did not know if one could operate a cell phone while driving a motor cycle but expected he

 

would at least leave Donald a voice message. I had no control over when Donald might listen to that message.

Jana and I got into my car and I quickly headed out of the parking lot but by then, of course, Jill and Donald were long gone. I tossed my cell phone to Jana and told her to call Jill. Jill’s phone rang once then rolled to voice mail which told me she had set it to silent for the funeral service and had not yet turned it back on. I then told Jana to stay off the phone and wait for Samuels to call us.

I knew that the original plan was for Jill and Donald to go get some breakfast which meant they would stop at some restaurant. It was my faint hope that Donald had also set his phone to silent and prayed that he had not yet heard from his father. Unless someone had slipped, Donald would not even know that the tire track was one of the clues we were following, so my hope was that he still thought he was in the clear and he and Jill would be enjoying scrambled eggs somewhere while all of us searched for them. That hope though was not an expectation. No, it was clearly a hope. I more expected that by now Donald knew we were after him and Jill, rather than being a pleasant date he might get lucky with in a little while, would be rather his hostage as he tried desperately to formulate a plan that would keep him out of jail.

I was not familiar with this part of Dallas and had no idea where I might find the nearest breakfast restaurant so I vaguely pointed the car back towards the part of town where the Antique Alley was located on Routh street.

There was traffic so I couldn’t go as fast as I wanted. I believed I had it all figured out so I started going over it out loud so that Jana could hear it and possibly correct any holes in my theory. Before I got started though the cell phone chirped to life. It was Eric Samuels so Jana handed me the phone. He told me that he had an APB out on Donald and his Harley. I shouted Jill’s phone number to Samuels and told him it was a new cell phone so it would have a GPS. He rung off and I tossed the cell back to Jana.

The way I figured it Donald Smith was supplementing his income by trafficking drugs. He would buy large quantities of pure heroine and then cut it and repackage it and sell it for a profit in smaller quantities. He might not even cut and repackage the drugs, he might simply be part of the delivery chain. In any case the drugs would get into the country or be manufactured here and find their way to the Dallas area. For security purposes they needed a way to get the packages from one person to another without those people being seen together so the scam they had arranged was that someone would buy a piece of furniture, stuff the drugs inside, sell the furniture on a predetermined day to one of the antique stores, and Donald would collect it and then do whatever his part was. He could do this on a motorcycle because he wasn’t moving furniture, just the drugs themselves.

 

I did not think Fredrick Smith was actually involved because if he was they probably would have had all the drug laden furniture delivered to his store and not risked needing to break into the other stores to collect the drugs.

The problem was, of course, that I had accidentally bought one of their stashes and Lola had taken the fall for it. We had collected about a million dollars worth of drugs from that desk and I was positive that Donald Smith did not have a million dollars so that meant that he had the drugs on credit from some really mean and nasty people who would want their money or their drugs no matter what Donald had to do to get them. He would now be desperate because he would have the drug people after him for cash and the police after him for murder.

As I was spouting this all out Jana reminded me that Donald was not in the room when she and Jill and I had discussed going to Harry Hines Bazaar, and Jana once again promised that she had not told him. I thought about that a minute and then figured he had probably just left my house in the morning and then parked up the street where he could wait for us to leave so he could follow us. Once we were at the Bazaar he could get his drug friends there in just a few moments via phone. I was certainly not convinced myself that this was plausible but it was very nice to not only have another theory that did not implicate Jana but also voice it out loud for her.

My big concern now, of course, was Jill’s safety. I figured that if Donald were on the run he would first stop wherever he kept whatever money or drugs that were valuable to him, pick them up, and then get the hell out of town as fast as he could. I prayed that would mean that wherever he stopped he would simply let Jill go as excess baggage rather than keeping her as a negotiation chip. So I tried to figure out where he would keep the things valuable to him and I could come up with only two possibilities. The first was his home, and it horrified me to realize that I did not know where his home was. Somewhere in my notes I would have that written down but my notes were at my house and I was nowhere near my house. I did remember though that I was surprised at how close all the merchants lived to their stores so I expected Donald’s residence to be near the Antique Alley. The other place that Donald might stash his precious things was at the store that his father owned. Even if Fredrick Smith wasn’t involved at all Donald could have a locker or storage closet there that he felt secure about. Of course there were also a million other places he might bury his treasures but this was all I had to go on so I headed in the direction of the Antique Alley.

 

By driving as aggressively as I could, and frightening Jana as I did, I got to the Antique Alley before any of the store owners. We drove down the alley behind the stores and then down the street in front of the stores. We did not see Donald’s

 

Harley anywhere but he could have even taken it inside with him. We also saw no sign of Jill.

I opened the glove box and pulled out my 38. It had been in the glove box a few days and I wasn’t even sure I was going to find it there. I checked the ammunition though and dreadfully realized I had only one single bullet. Well, one was better than none. I told Jana to call Samuels and get Donald Smith’s home address from him. I had no idea how Samuels would get it but I was sure he could get it quicker than I could. Next I told Jana to stay in the car and watch the street. If she saw any motorcycle at all she was to give me three loud toots on the horn and lock the car up tight.

I ran to the front door of Antiques of Dallas which was the store that the Smith’s owned and found the door locked, but there were big plate glass store front windows, and I found a good sized rock so with a shower of broken shards flying everywhere I made entry into the store. I had, of course set off an alarm but that was O.K. because I wanted the posse to arrive as soon as possible. I searched through the store and found no one. There were several locked doors and I would have to systematically go through them, but before I got started I barely heard three blasts of my car horn above the scream of the store alarm.

Gun drawn I jumped back out of the broken window expecting to find Donald on his motorcycle but my car was the only vehicle out there. Jana screamed at me that she had Samuels on the phone and they had used the GPS to locate Jill’s cell phone and we were nowhere near the area where her phone was.

As I got into my car I got a quick update from Samuels himself. Jill’s cell phone was tracked briefly up near Belt Line Road in Carrollton, Texas which is a near north Suburb of Dallas. Eric told me that he had APBs out to every city in the county but they did not have a helicopter available for the chase.

The Dallas metropolis is one of those modern areas that has a super highway that rings the entire area and it was highway 635. Long before 635 had been built though Dallas had a set of surface streets that ringed the city called Belt Line.

Donald was now on the north end of the city. I was sure that he was on the surface street instead of the highway because in traffic he had a very big advantage being on a cycle that can weave in and out and make his own lanes. On super highways he would not have as much of an advantage.

I had to gamble here. On the surface streets I could never catch him as he already had too large a lead, but if I could predict where he was going I might be able to hit an expressway and cut him off. I asked Samuels to get another read and try to figure out which direction he was heading. Samuels reported that Jill’s cell phone still appeared to be on Belt Line and appeared to be moving west. He also made sure to tell me that the GPS was only going to be able to get within a couple of blocks of true position. It could actually do better than that but by the time the

 

information traveled up to a satellite and then down to some computer on Earth and was processed and the information was sent to Samuels who then by voice would tell me, Donald would still be moving.

My best guess at this moment was that Donald would want to stay on Beltline until it turned south and took him through the western suburbs of Dallas.

He would stay on Belt Line and then other surface streets always going south until he was well south of the city proper and then hit a major road, probably highway 35, and take it south to Mexico. At least that is what I hoped his desperate plan might be.

From where I was, I could skirt through downtown Dallas, pick up route 30

and take it to Grand Prairie where it intersected with Beltline as Beltline wound its way south. With a little luck I might even get there before Donald could take the old Beltline all the way around the northwest corner. The traffic was lighter than I should have expected for a Monday in the downtown area but it still seemed extremely slow to me.

It took only fourteen minutes to get from where I was to the Beltline exit on Route 30. According to Samuels Donald was still north of me which meant I was ahead of him but only a mile or so.

With Jana working the phone I turned the Taurus north on Beltline.

Immediately to my right was the big new racetrack where Texans go to watch horses run and lose money on the races. The area has been built up a bit around the new racetrack, which is in Grand Prairie, but just to the north of that is some open land that stretches a mile and a half until you reach the roller skating rink that marks the southernmost part of Irving.

There, about halfway between the race track and the skating rink, in the middle of nothing but open land I spotted Donald’s Harley on the southbound shoulder of the road. There was little traffic at this lonely spot on the road. Since I was northbound and Donald was parked southbound I did an illegal u-turn over the hump of grass praying that I did not do any damage to the undercarriage of the Taurus. I pulled to a stop about fifteen yards from Donald and Jill. They were standing next to his bike. Jill was holding a small rucksack in each hand. Donald was holding a handful of Jill’s hair in his left hand and a gun in his right. He currently had the gun pointed at Jill.

Time was on my side because we still had a cop on the phone. I reported exactly what I saw and exactly where we were. I then removed the key ring from the car key leaving the key in the ignition and leaving the car running, but taking the rest of the key ring in my left hand. I had my 38 in my right hand. I instructed Jana to get out of the car on my side behind me and to run the other direction (north) until she reached the roller rink. She did not argue with me.

 

Slowly and carefully I opened my door, waited just a second or two and stepped out. I took a step forward and Donald did exactly what I wanted him to, he pointed the gun at me instead of Jill, but of course I was pointing my gun at him. I waited until Jana was out of the car and well on her way north before I took my next step south towards Jill and Donald.

I told Donald to give it up, that it was all over. I did not expect him to give it all up but it was worth a shot. He told me that his bike had run out of gas and offered to trade Jill for my car. It sounded like a pretty good deal to me so I agreed, but I knew he was a killer so I knew we would not be safe simply by my giving up the car to him.

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