The Dream Ender by Dorien Grey – A Dick Hardesty Mystery Book 11
When rugged construction worker and biker Cal Hysong is killed, Dick knows the reason. Cal was widely suspected of deliberately spreading AIDS to other gay men. Like the rest of the gay community, Dick’s initial reaction is “good riddance.” But when Jake Jacobson and Jared Martinson, two of Dick’s closest friends, become suspects, the case turns personal, and Dick sets out to clear them and find the real killer. His search takes him into the unfamiliar world of gay bikers and leathermen, and through a labyrinth of suspects, motivations, blind alleys and memorable characters.
Thursday passed without incident. I was, of course, curious about how the police investigation was going, but while under other circumstances I may have been tempted to call Marty Gresham to ask him, I didn’t want to even consider it now. The further I kept away from things, the better.
I was just getting ready to walk out the door for work on Friday when the phone rang.
“Dick, it’s Jake. We’ve got a really big problem.”
“What’s wrong?” Stupid question.
“The police just left. They showed up with a search warrant for my gun.”
I was a little surprised but tried to offer some reassurance. “I told you they might ask you if you had a hunting rifle. But that they’d have a search warrant is a little extreme, I’d think.”
“That’s not the problem! When I went to get it for them, it was gone!”
“Gone?” I echoed, immediately feeling stupid for doing so. “When’s the last time you saw it?” I also immediately thought of the meeting they’d had with the other guys from the Male Call.
“The last time I saw it was when I put it under the bed right after I bought it. I didn’t have any need to take it out until hunting season.” He paused, then, “I should have looked for it when you told me about it on the phone. I at least could have reported it stolen before the police showed up looking for it.
“And what’s worse, if that’s possible, is that the warrant wasn’t just for a Winchester hunting rifle. It was specifically for a Model 94 Chief Crazy Horse Commemorative. They’re a limited issue.”
“Chief Crazy Horse?” I asked. “Why in the world would you want a Chief Crazy Horse Commemorative rifle?”
“Winchester does commemoratives all the time,” he explained. “When Stan and I were kids, we always played cowboys and Indians, and Stan always insisted on being Chief Crazy Horse and me being General Custer. I know they didn’t have anything to do with each other in fact, but you know how kids’ minds work.
“We had been talking about buying new rifles this year anyway, and when Stan heard about this particular commemorative, he insisted we get it. How could the police have known I even had one?”
Good question. Obviously the police had been doing their job.
“I’d imagine they tested the bullet taken from Hysong’s body and that it came from a Winchester 94,” I said. “You said it was a pretty new model—apparently, they were able to pin the spent bullet down to the exact model that fired it. They undoubtedly checked the gun shops and dealers for a list of people who’d recently bought one.
“They’ll undoubtedly be checking with Stan, too,” I added.
“Oh, that’ll go over big!” Jake said. “After all the battles Stan has had with the bureaucracy dragging their feet on the AIDS problem, he doesn’t look kindly on authority figures. But even so, with my gun missing, I’ve got a pretty good idea who the police will move up to the top of their suspect list.”
I did, too, but didn’t say so.
“Well, there’s no point wasting your time worrying about that right now,” I said. “Did you tell the police about the guys from the Male Call being over?”
“No. I couldn’t see any point to dragging them into it, since for all I know the gun might very well have been gone before they were even here. These guys talk tough, but I can’t imagine that any of them could actually steal the gun, let alone use it!”
“But they knew you had it,” I pointed out.
“Well, yeah. The weekend I got it, we were at the Male Call, and I know I was talking about it then. It’s sort of like getting a new car. Okay, so I was doing the old ‘mine’s bigger than yours’ thing. Hey, how many people do you know with a Chief Crazy Horse Commemorative Winchester 94?”
“And you never had any indication that someone had broken into your apartment?”
“Not a clue, but…” He paused, then, “Jeezus, how stupid can I be? I sometimes leave the kitchen window open a crack. Somebody could have gotten in that way—but there’s never been any trouble in my building, and I’ve never even heard of a break-in anywhere in the neighborhood.”
“Jared was there when the cops were?”
“Yeah, but he had to leave for Carrington in time to make it to school. They seemed a little reluctant to let him go, and they fingerprinted us both before he left, which I thought was kind of strange.”
I did, too, but again didn’t say anything.
“They didn’t say so,” Jake continued, “but I imagine they think Jared has the gun at his place, and I’ll bet the minute they left here they called the Carrington police to get a search warrant. They won’t find it, of course, but I guess I can understand their thinking. Of all the rotten luck!” He paused for a moment and then said, “I was wondering if maybe you could do us a huge favor and check with your police contacts to see what’s going on. We didn’t mention that we knew you, by the way.”
Well, now that the police were aware—and I was afraid that was a gross understatement—of Jake and Jared, I at least didn’t have to avoid using their names.
“I can do that,” I said. “But tell me what else they said or asked you.’
“They wanted to know if we knew Cal, and of course, we said yes. It would be stupid to deny it. Then they asked if either Jared or I had a grudge against him. I told them that, of course, we did—Cal was murdering gay men. They wanted to know if there might be any other reason, and I told them as far as I was concerned, the reason I gave them was reason enough.
“Then they asked if either one of us had AIDS. I told them to check with our doctor.