Unfinished. Part 7

Elena and Russell join Chris as he investigates a suspected foul play in guitarist George Becker's death.

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Elena got herself accustomed to Steve's habit of wake-up' sex after they got married. Everyday early in the morning they'd have sex and Steve would fall asleep again, while she would get up, do her yoga and make breakfast. Steve would sleep for an hour or so before getting up himself.

Today, lying beside a snoring Steve she was thinking about what could be done next. There's really nothing much to do if Freddy Hicks doesn't want to talk. Russell seemed to know him personally, but even he could not persuade him. She decided to skip yoga today and get out early. If only she could find a way to contact Tommy Frederick or Peter Gibbs in L.A. Invariably their agents won't entertain small unaffiliated TV channels like them. But her boss, Dirk, was a resourceful person. Maybe he could talk to somebody.

She took a shower and got dressed. Then she went to the kitchen and called Russell.

Morning, he answered, What's on our agenda today?

Well, I really don't know what to do. She bit her lip. Do you think we have anywhere else to go to find material? I was thinking I might ask Dirk if there's a way to talk to Tommy or Peter. I suppose we can ask Freddy again. What do you think?

Umm... Russell seemd to think for a while. George has a daughter here, from a relationship he had in Dallas or somewhere, before he came here. That woman died and his daughter came here to live with him seven or eight years back. Obviously she won't know anything about Rosethorns... but she may have old diaries or maybe photos. It's a long shot but we can still ask her. She runs the B&B. Or... we can go to Toby, the bar owner. But that guy is old and not likely to remember much.

Elena sighed. Russell continued after a pause. Listen, before that, do you wish to come with me somewhere? Chris and I are going to Linus' gas station, you know, where it happened. Chris wants to check the site.

Shit, I almost forgot about that, she thought. The small mystery regarding George's death. At once she replied, Of course. When are you guys going?

Hmm... can you be in front of the park in, say, ten minutes? I'll pick you up.

Elena hurriedly ate her breakfast, went to the bedroom and kissed her still sleeping husband. Baby, I'm going out. Your breakfast's on the kitchen table.

***

On their way to pick up Chris, Russell looked at the RVM and suddenly stopped the van. Before Elena could say something he stepped out and told her to wait.

Elena saw him charging towards a teenager wearing a Slipknot t-shirt standing by the street. The boy was smoking a cigarette. Upon seeing Russell he threw it away and took out a water bottle from his backpack.

Elena got out of the car. She heard Russell shouting, What the fk? Are you smoking weed again? At nine in the morning?

The kid pulled his arm off Russell's grip. He didn't answer, instead turned his eyes to Elena who was approaching them. Who's this? he asked, Your new girlfriend?

Elena raised her eyebrows, slightly amused. Russell lowered his voice, No. She's my colleague. Elena, this teenage junkie here is Matt, my delinquent brother.

Hi, she said to him. She was feeling quite amused by how Russell was trying hard to play this responsible intimidating big brother. It wasn't working. The youngster was too rebelious.

'Sup, the kid said and turned his eyes back to Russell. Alright. I was smoking weed. Yes. Now what are you gonna do? Tell mom? he laughed.

Russell went silent for a while, and then said, Alright, if that's the way you play it, punishment's coming your way.

The kid laughed out again. Really? And what's that gonna be? Not giving me guitar lessons for a month?

Russell was about to say something but Elena interrupted him. Hey, wait a minute. You didn't tell me you play the guitar.

Russell closed his eyes, but didn't reply. She continued, Shit. Even at Freddy's you let me play all by myself. Even Freddy didn't ask you and you didn't even care to join. Now why would you do that? It was really beyond her comprehension why Russell kept this from her. Normally it shouldn't even bother her whether anybody played guitar or not. But somehow Russell had gotten close in these few days.

Matt chirped in, Your hot colleague' demands an answer, Russell.

Elena rolled her eyes and turned to him. Now you don't push it. Trust me, I've seen too many pricks like you.

There was something in her tone that caught him. The kid stared at her for a few seconds and then looked away. Alright, yeah, he said in a rather serious tone, he plays but not in front of people, god knows why. But all I can tell you that he's simply fking awesome.

Elena looked at Russell. He was standing there with hands in his pocket, looking at his feet, smiling rather meekly. She shook her head. Alright. You don't have to explain. she said and started towards the van.

***

Elena was leaning against the car and watching Chris. The guy was practically sitting on the ground, in the middle of a highway. Russell was standing beside him. Elena couldn't possibly figure out what on earth he could possibly learn. It wasn't like a little-visited creepy murder site or something. And it's been three days since George's body was found. But soon she understood that Chris wasn't interested in the ashphalt, he was just making a landmark.

Are you sure this was the exact site where the body was found? he asked Russell.

Positive, man. I saw it before it was removed. I remember it from the shrub over there. Russell said with an air of cluelessness in his voice. Elena was amused. Even Russell had no idea what his friend was up to.

Chris walked off the road. On the two sides of the highway were seemingly endless empty landscape, with a few patches of bushes and shrubs thrown in. Chris said something to Russell and started to walk. She walked up to Russell and asked, What's he doing?

He shrugged. He told me he wants to check the adjacent area on both sides.

Holy shit. She saw Chris walking a little, sitting down, inspecting the ground, looking into a few bushes... then coming back. But he just crossed the road and went to the other side and started the same routine.

Then she saw Chris waving at them, asking them to go over.

Chris was panting a little and said once they came, Some car went through here.

Elena looked around. How do you know? I don't see any tyre marks.

Chris sighed. You won't. After three windy nights. But look at the bushes through this broad line, he made a straight gesture with his hand, they're beaten down, as if a car ran over them.

Elena nodded. That was indeed a nice observation.

Russell said, So what? It might as well be a car of a teenage couple who went off the road and had sex. And even if I take it hypothetically, by a long shot, that this car killed George, what's the significance?

Chris shook his head. Well, what's on this side of the highway? Our town.

Both Russell and Elena were silent for a while. Then Russell spoke, You mean that someone from Swimmer's Due chased George and killed him?

Chris shrugged. Or killed him with that blow in his forehead and took this route to dump his body.

Elena frowned. It was indeed a tempting hypothesis but somehow it wasn't making complete sense. She said, But how do you explain all those other injuries in his body? And why would someone dump a body in the middle of a highway?

Chris let out a sigh. Maybe you're right. Maybe I'm thinking too much.

Russell patted his back. Yeah, man. Let's go.

They started to walk. But then Chris suddenly bent down and picked something up. It was a cigarette butt. Russell laughed out, Sure, Sherlock Holmes. Identifying the killer with the help of a cigarette butt.

Chris didn't answer. After a few steps he again bent down and picked up something else. This time it was a small broken fragment of dark coloured glass.

How are you even spotting these things? Russell frowned.

Chris chuckled. Because I keep my eyes open and this thing was shining in the sun. Then he added after a pause, Look, man. Honestly I've no idea what I'm up to. It's practically a wild goose chase. Even Sheriff Bob is telling me what you guys are saying. But I do suspect something out of the line in here and I just wanted to check it out. But... he sighed.

When they reached the highway they found another car pulled up beside Russell's van and Freddy Hicks was leaning against it, smoking a cigarette.

Hello Freddy, Russell went over to him, What are you up to?

Freddy turned towards them. He smiled briefly at Elena and turned towards Russell. Well, just came here to Linus for some engine oil. He told me you guys came down here. So I thought maybe I could stop by and say hello.

They just smiled. Freddy continued, So? What are you guys doing here? Is this the place where George's body was found?

Before Russell could say anything, Chris broke in. Yeah, we just needed some extra footage of the spot for the story, you know. Freddy didn't know Chris; so he just looked at him and smiled awkwardly.

Well then, I've got to run anyway. He threw away his cigarette and started to get in the car but stopped. Oh yes, I almost forgot to tell you. Peter Gibbs might come over here to attend the funeral. That should help your little story'. See ya fellas. He drove off.

Elena and Russell looked at each other. He suddenly seemed a little off, she thought. Then she saw Chris bending down and picking up Freddy's cigarette end.

Russell's jaw dropped. Dude, what the fk are you thinking? You think he

Chris smiled and shrugged. Relax, seems like our Freddy here smokes unfiltered. It doesn't match.

(to be continued)

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