The water filled swale that fronted the McNutt property presented an easily breached barrier to Manny that could be overcome with the simple expedient of a short, two-foot leap. Light from the crescent moon along with cars’ headlights from State Road 54 spilled over the front of the yard, but farther in the shadows deepened. A single bulb burned by the front door of the main house but the small, barn-like building to the west was cast in darkness. A covered, two-deep carport stood adjacent to the house and directly next to that was a white gravel expanse wide enough to hold a pair of cars. A single car sat in the front of the ten-poled, opaque plastic covered carport. No other vehicles were visible.
Manny inhaled, raised his Glock 19 to the ready position and slipped by the orange-lettered black sign that declared in large, all caps print, PRIVATE PROPERTY, followed in smaller font with the words, No Trespassing. “Yeah,” Manny whispered to himself, “‘and give us this day our daily bread.’” Taking another deep breath Manny said to the sign, “I wish I could, but duty calls,” as he sprang across the small, water filled drainage ditch and hurried to the scrubland that bordered the single-high railroad-tie Maginot-Line that demarcated Florida suburban wilderness from weed choked lawn.
Manny knelt and listened, scanning the swampy woods to his left, the lawn ahead of him and the main house to his right. Hearing and seeing nothing that increased his concern he looked back to Black Lake Road and State Road Fifty-four for signs of approaching emergency vehicles but saw and heard nothing that indicated the imminent arrival of Pasco County cavalry. “Well, kiddo,” he said, “you’re the one who told ‘em no sirens, no lights,” as he slipped along the scrubland to a compost and garbage-can enclave.
Manny listened and heard unintelligible voices yelling. “Shit,” he whispered, breathing three deep breaths as he used eyes and ears to scan for information. From his new position Manny could see that a drainage pond sat directly behind the small shack that he assumed was Kisor quarters. “Guess I ain’t going around the backway,” he told himself as he doubled over and quickstepped from the glade to the shack’s tiny single step entryway.
Pausing, he listened again, this time clearly hearing a child demanding, “No, Daddy! No! Stop it!”
Manny looked to the road one more time, hoping to see police cruisers. Seeing none, he ran to the house, stopping at the bottom of the wheelchair ramp, back to the house, gun at the ready and listened. The screaming had stopped.
Unsure if this was a reassuring or alarming development Manny, Glock pointed skyward and to the right of his jawline, poked his head around the corner of the house. Seeing nothing that added to his concerns he tiptoed up the wooden ramp to the second window from the left. His view through the curtain lace revealed nothing as he slowly and stealthily continued his ascent, eyes trying to peer through walls and ears pointed German Shepherd like.
The porchlight concerned him. So did the screams. Manny’s attempt to see through walls failed.