Am Vet Post Nine, Black Lake Road, Community Drive, Derek Easton, Dollar General Store, Florida, Gunn Highway, Manny Taisto, Pasco County Sheriff’s District Three Office and Firehouse House Fifteen, State Road 54, Trinity Florida, Trinity Hospital, Trinity Road
Manny, after saying his goodbyes to Suzann and company and leaving the women in the ER waiting to meet Doctor Bikeman, waded through the hot, humid, mid-May Tampa night to his Escalade. Tapping a button on the SUV’s steering wheel he said, “Call Derek Easton.”
The Escalade speakers announced, “Calling Derek Easton, on cell,” and were soon replaced with a ringing phone signal.
“Easton, Taisto,” he announced, turning right and heading east on State road 54. “I met with the kidnapper’s ex and set her up with your Officer Rosenstock for an interview. I’m just pulling out of Trinity hospital’s parking lot; anything I can help with? Where are you?”
“Nah. We got it. Just about to leave the bus depot. You didn’t get a plate number or make on this van, did you? That’d help with the APB.”
“Nope. Just that he’s a piece of shit who turned Elohim in prison and has been hunting his ex and their little girl for years. From what the ex said, sounds like he’s murdered a few. Very nice. So, what, you’re on Interlachen? I’m heading that way, you want me to bring you anything? Coffee? What?”
“Nah, nah, nah. Heading in. Don’t worry about it. We got this. Go home. Hey, tell Penni hi. How the girls?”
“Fantastic. Make me feel young again. Say hey to Brownie. Stay safe and get this piece of crap, okay?”
“Do my best on both. Later.”
As Manny cleared State Road Fifty-four’s Dollar General Store the Pasco County Sheriff’s District Three Office and Firehouse House Fifteen became visible a hundred yards to his right. He caught a long red light at the Trinity Road intersection and considered turning right and stopping by the Sheriff’s office but discarded the idea. “I done my part,” he said to himself, continuing east bound on State Road 54 with the traffic’s light turn from red to green. “Pasco’s finest have got this covered.”
“Jesus,” he said to himself a tenth of a mile later as he caught the Community Drive light red. “What is this? No good deed goes unpunished?”
Tony looked to the right, considered turning south and following Community to Ketzal/Interlachen Drive and checking out the bus depot but reminded himself that Easton and Madrigal had finished collecting evidence and left the scene.
The light at Community was short and Taisto, after driving another half mile, came to the next traffic light. The light at Gunn Highway shown a deep, dark ruby and Taisto threw his hands in the air. “Jesus, Mary and Bozo!” he cried. “I got what?” he asked himself, ticking lights off on his finger, “ten more damn lights before I get home? Am I gonna catch all of em red? This is fricking ridiculous.” Again, Manny considered turning right and heading to the depot but continued eastbound on Fifty-four.
Black Lake Road appeared on his right as Manny drove homeward. By turning right Manny would drive by Am Vets Post Nine. He considered heading in but decided what he needed more than the company of a bunch of old Testosterone filled men was his young wife and two daughters. Manny traveled on, but his eye scanned the mostly empty parking lot that was visible across the narrow, four-hundred-foot mowed grass distance that separated Black Lake Road from State Road 54. “What the hell,” he said to himself, slamming his right hand down, causing the Escalade’s turn signal to flash. “Maybe I’ll just stop in for a quick hello.”
Manny turned at the cell-tower and was about to backtrack to Am Vet Post Nine when the swampy woods ahead of him blinked in response to his headlights flashing across something that reflected back at him. “What the hell was that?” he asked, more as a reflex than a concern.
Coming to the T in the road he stopped, looked across the road to the mailbox and its adorned five-digit house number. “Wait a minute, wait a minute,” he said to himself shaking his head and pulling from his wallet the piece of paper Karla had given him with her phone number and address. “Holy shit,” he whispered, dimming his lights and backing his SUV into the short concrete driveway that stood in front of the cell tower. “That’s Karla house and if I’ll be damned if that’s not a silver van hiding in the woods right there.”