Chapter Twelve, Part One




TWELVE
 
Reggie Learns a Lesson
 
    “She’s not going to try to transport the body home in the car, is she?” Street asked, rounding the ranch house and coming towards us.
    “No,” Reggie laughed. “She’s waiting on someone from HQ. You didn’t believe me about the confession on the phone?”
    Det. Street tilted her head. “Did he confess to both murders?”
    “He claims he didn’t even know his older son was alive,” Reggie said. “And then he claimed he didn’t pull the trigger on Noah. He blamed Salazar for both, but I think—”
    “Did you know that Mike Salazar is out wining and dining White’s wife tonight?” Street asked.
    “I’m not surprised,” Reggie said.
    “She filed for divorce this morning,” I said.
    “That makes sense,” Street nodded.
    “Detective,” Reggie said, “It’s not safe to leave her alone with him.”
    “Relax, Holmes,” Street said. “I know some guys on the city force who owe me a favor. They’re keeping tabs.”
    “What exactly have you been up to?” I asked.
    “What time is it?” She replied.
    “It’s 10 o’clock.” Reggie said, checking his phone.
    “Great,” Street said. “They’re probably just having dessert now. Let me show you.”
    She escorted us to the back door of the ranch house.
    “The boys from the State Investigators spent a lot of time sloshing through the waste lagoons. Obviously, we’d been through it before, and apparently no one was dumb enough to use the same hiding place twice. We continued searching the property, and we found a small abattoir. Salazar sends most of his pigs to a place in Albuquerque, but apparently he makes his own sausage here, too.”
    There was a collective shudder.
    “We found the head, and some bones that probably belonged to the victim,” she continued. “No fingertips, though. We’re going to have to match the dental records, but it’s looking like it was Pat White’s older son, like you said. We’ll have to pay a visit to the doctor who signed his death certificate, but that won’t be hard. He’s already in PNM for falsifying records.”
    “PNM?” I asked.
    “The Penitentiary of New Mexico,” Reggie growled.
    “What was the purpose in kicking Packey out in the first place?” I asked.
    “I guess Patty’s just that cheap,” Reggie shrugged.
    “Point of interest,” Street cut in. “She spends a grand monthly on her wardrobe. She isn’t cheap, Mr. LaKino. She just likes to be the biggest expenditure around.”
    “And then she just goes on smiling and making nice with her husband and other stepson?” I asked. “Did anyone else just get a chill?”
    “So it was the money, then,” Reggie smiled, his chest swelling.
    “No,” Street grinned, gave her denial half a moment to register, then continued on as before. “We’ve taken most of Salazar’s tools, and are going to test them for human blood, but there’s too much pig blood in there. We don’t think we’ll find much more. We found an antique military rifle, loaded with silver bullets. The rifle is definitely from Pat White’s collection, but what’s the deal with the silver bullets?”
    “White family legend,” Reggie explained. “Apparently they thought the Renards were werewolves.”
    Street massaged her own temples.
    “This case is driving me nuts,” she said. “I’ll end up like Banks by the end. Believing in crystals and conspiracies.” She sighed, and kept us walking towards the house. “The gun’s gone to the lab for fingerprinting. We tried searching the pig pens, too, but that was pretty fruitless. What I really wanted to show you is in here.”
    Street pushed open the back door to Mike Salazar’s home, and lead us in.    I was beginning to feel like every time Reggie and I entered a room, it had been turned upside down. Street’s search of the place hadn’t been nearly as haphazard as what I’d seen at Pat White’s house, at Reggie’s old apartment, or in my basement. She’d ben thorough, but methodical. Drawers lay pulled out, their contents arranged on tables. Every closet door was open, with piles and boxes stacked nearby. She took us right to a linen closet.
    “Recognize anything?” Street asked.
    “That’s the same pattern as the sheet Packey was wrapped in,” Reggie nodded. “We saw the same sheets over at the Whites’ house.”
    “Looks like Patty White does all the shopping in both homes,” I said.
    “Looks like,” she nodded. “And this set’s brand new. Almost like it was a replacement for something. Then there’s this.”
    We followed her down a hall, where she threw open a door to a room full of books. She drew our attention to the rug, which she pulled up. Underneath there was a large, relatively fresh stain.
 
    By the time Mike Salazar and Patty White arrived at the front door, Street was standing just inside the threshold. Reggie was seated in a high backed pigskin chair, and I was standing next to him, doing my best to live up to my “psycho” bodyguard image.
    “What the fuck do y’all think you’re doin’ here?” Salazar demanded, looking around. “What the hell’d you do to my house?”
    “We stopped by Mrs. White’s home first,” Street said. “But we understand she won’t be living there anymore.”
    “And y’all just thought you’d make yourselves at home here instead?” Salazar said.
    “Mike, sweetheart, let them talk,” Patty sang, laying a hand on her new beau’s shoulder. “Just because I’m getting a divorce doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear what happened to my poor stepson.”
    “That’s just what we’ve come to tell you, Mrs. White.” Street said.
    “Patty,” she insisted.
    “Patty. Thank you,” Street nodded back towards us. “I hope you don’t mind. Mr. LaKino and Mr. Brown had taken an interest in the case. I thought they might want to see it through.”
    “Not at all, Detective. The more the merrier.” Patty White smiled.
    “I fuckin’ mind!” Salazar yelled. “How in hell did they get into my house?”
    “Oh, I apologize,” Street said. “One of your staff let us in, Mr. Salazar. I believe Carmen lives in the maid’s quarters on the far end of the building? I served her with a warrant, and she was very cooperative.”
    “A warrant,” Salazar said.
    Street Nodded. “Certainly. After we’d found Noah Renard in your sewage lagoons, and the mutilated corpse of Patty’s stepson nearby, we were able to convince a judge that some remaining bits and pieces might also have found their way onto your property.”
    “This is ridiculous,” Salazar shouted. “I demand my rights!”
    “Mike!” Patty broke in. “They’re just here to talk. They haven’t accused you of anything.”
    “They’re up to something. I don’t like the look of those two.” He pointed at us. “That half breed looking cur especial.”
    “Oh, Reggie’s just fine,” the oblivious widow waved her hand. “And Sam’s a sweetheart. Anyway, is there somewhere more comfortable we can sit?”
    “Maybe the library?” I suggested. Street chuckled.
    
    “This room seems very quiet,” Reggie said aloud as we entered. Salazar’s library was extensive, with hundreds of books along the walls, including above the door, and above the window. I hadn’t expected Salazar to be this well read. From books on animal husbandry and business management, to the complete works of Thomas Wolfe, there wasn’t a light read in the room. I wondered if he’d actually finished all of these, or if they were like my Kierkegaard collection. There were two chairs, and Salazar sat himself resolutely in the more comfortable looking one. Reggie chose the other and grinned. Street and I stood by the door, while Patty stood behind Mike.
    “A gunshot could go off outside,” Salazar bragged, “and I wouldn’t hear it.”
    “We’re not here to admire your sound-proofing, Mr. Salazar,” Street said. “As I was saying before, we came to update you both on the status of the case.”
    “Get on with it,” Salazar insisted.
    “Alright then,” Street said. “Earlier tonight, Mr. LaKino and Mr. Brown assisted my partner, Detective Banks, in attempting to arrest your current husband, Patrick White, for the murder of Noah Renard.”
    “Pat?” Mrs. White gasped. “Why?”
    “He wrote and signed what at first appeared to be a confession,” Street explaind. “He later confirmed his involvement in the presence of witnesses. But he did claim he hadn’t been the one to pull the trigger.”
    “I mean,” Patty said, “why would he do it?”
    “Apparently,” Street looked at Reggie, who nodded. She locked eyes with Patty again, took a deep breath, and forced herself to say, “he believed that the Renards are werewolves.”
    “That’s ridiculous!” Patty said. “He isn’t crazy, he would never—”
    “I heard him say it,” Reggie said, “we confronted him with the evidence, he ranted for a while about werewolves. Then he,” Reggie coughed, “committed suicide.” I swallowed, remembering the gore from only a few hours ago. I forced down bile, and shuddered.
    I expected Patty to fly into hysterics at Reggie’s tactless attempt at “breaking the news lightly.” Instead, she took half a step back, until she could rest her full weight against a bookshelf. She stared at the floor, then at her wedding ring.
    “Okay, so your ex was off his rocker,” Mike said. “Hid it pretty well, I’da never guessed it. But what the hell? Why’s he go and kill his own kid for?”
    “He denied that one,” Reggie said.
    “Yes,” Street agreed, “and the evidence points to someone else entirely in that case.”
    “Poor Melvin,” Patty said mechanically.
    “It wasn’t Melvin White whose body we recovered on the Renard property,” Street said.
    “But you said—” Patty’s head jerked up, her eyes widened, her mascara was just barely beginning to run.
    “Let her finish!” Reggie growled.
    “You see,” Street continued, “despite a death certificate signed in 2004, Patrick White, Junior — I believe you called him Packey? — has been alive and living as best he could on the streets of Santa Fe for the last five years.”
    “No!” Patty shook her head.
    “I’m afraid so,” Street said. “Dr. Burns at the home was apparently open to taking all sorts of cost cutting measures, especially if he could line his own pockets in the process. Or satisfy certain, well, urges.”
    “That’s sick!” Salazar said.
    “Not with the patients,” Street assured him, “with the people paying the bills.”
    “On top of that,” Reggie said, “there were some discrepancies about the corpse itself. It was thoroughly mutilated, which at first suggested a murderer of much different mind than the killer of Noah Renard. But looks can be deceiving. The mutilations correspond in almost every respect to Melvin’s tattoos and scars.”
    “Pat was furious when he found out Melvin had gotten tattooed,” Patty nodded.
    “I can imagine,” Street said. “Do you know how many Melvin had?”
    “A mother always knows,” Patty smiled again. “He had three.”
    “Up until his trip to Mexico,” Reggie said. “Where he acquired a fourth tattoo, high on his back. This tattoo was missing from the second victim, although that part of the body was intact.”
    “What?” Patty asked.