Beyond the Night Road

When Harold Nielsen, a detective, investigates a series of murders in Austin, Texas, he faces time isn't on his side as the deaths continue.

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1. Beyond the Night Road-Part One

***

Austin, Texas-1971

The dead body was lying on the hard ground. 

Sheriff Davis Franklin smoked a cigarette.

"Goddamn horror show", he said to Deputy Al Young.

He stomped on the rest of the cigarette with his brown boots, as the fiery embers died in the warm, northerly, breeze.

***

Sharon Thomas gazed at the television screen. President Nixon was waving his fingers in a victory salute. He was eager to make America believe in his success as the war in Vietnam continued in the jungle. She didn't think she would deal with her over-bearing parents; she was a free spirit who vowed to roam the night roads of Texas, and meet people who thought that the growing feminist movement only affected her job prospects in town. She smoked a cigarette, as she gazed at the empty road in the mirror of the lounge room. "I'm going out", she said. She checked her watch. It read: 8:21 PM. She opened the front door, and grabbed her brown wallet. As the front door shut behind her, Sharon saw her mother was dressed in her blue nightgown...and pink slippers on her feet. "Don't be too late. There's been too many girls who disappear these days", Karen Thomas said. She kissed her, then she let her daughter walk up the dusty road towards an unknown future.

***

Marty Westwood, Jr., shifted uneasily in his black seat. 

"Damn if I know about any murders, Tom", he said. He was eating a hamburger at Burt's Burger Town. Tom Reynolds, shook his head. "Texas is getting soft on crime, these days", he said. He remembered all of the talk of the political, social, and economical structure of America was tainted because of Nixon's severe opposition to have any of the Kennedys in office. After the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy in November of 1963, and Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, the taint in America couldn't be erased. Marty, who a staunch Republican, stared at the television screen...and sighed with a growing frustration. He finished eating, then ordered a coffee. Tom, who was a Democrat, saw a waitress holding her black pen in her small hands; she smiled at them. "More coffees for us, Delia", Marty said. "Sure, anything else?", she asked. "No, we're going to meet our wives, and children, afterwards", Tom answered. "Yeah, and I'm working until eleven o'clock in the evening". She saw President Nixon speaking during a late-night rally in Washington, DC, to his supporters; she looked away. Suddenly she attended to the orders, as the bright lights glowed along the dim streets in Texas.

***

Sheriff Davis Franklin saw Francine Keeley, the Coroner, arrive in her car. As she struggled to smile, he spoke to her.

"The victim isn't from Texas", he stated.

"How can you know that, Sheriff?", Francine asked.

"She has no ID. She travelled here by a van, or truck. And died at the hands of a killer who used a knife", the Sheriff answered her.

"Messy, isn't it", Francine suggested. She grabbed her white gloves, and put them on. Then, as the yellow CRIME SCENE tape was erected around the body, the darkness arrived in town.

***

Sharon noticed a man was watching her by a black bench. She shivered with fear, as she watched him strode forward with a hammer in his right hand. "Bad things happen in Texas, girl", he said. He grinned. She kicked him in the right hand, as the weapon dropped near his brown boot in the dust. She then grabbed the hammer in her right hand, and brought it downward, causing her attacker to scream.

***

Marty finished drinking his coffee.

"I have to leave, Tom".

"Yeah, as do I", he said.

And they paid their bills, and opened the front door. They headed to their cars, and drove home to their families.

***

 

 

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