Erren Rhodes felt as dead as the man being entombed below.
The funeral was small and hard to see from the top of a hill. He couldn’t get closer, but he could hear everything. Simple. Probably to the old man’s specs.
He caught himself swallowing hard, began to sway and unlocked his knees. The mid-September Texas heat and humidity were catching him off guard. He’d wait until everyone left. Starting his bike would draw attention. He hadn’t missed the entire funeral, just to blow his cover now.
Damn shame he couldn’t pay proper respects to his mentor, his friend. But he’d find the murderer if it were the last thing he did. Sounded old-fashioned and mobster family, but he didn’t care. First things first. He needed information. The old man had sent for him but was dead two days later.
He’d been asking the question a lot recently. The whole inner dialogue thing started when he’d helped out Steve Woods and his girlfriend. New assignments after his cover had been blown. New problems. Resulting in no new enthusiasm. Just an old need to get out of undercover work.
The uniformed guard handed the folded flag to a woman. He didn’t know her. He hardly knew anyone. Hardly? He didn’t know any of them. Maybe a couple of faces from the Police Academy. He’d been away from home too long.
Erren wiped a drop of sweat from his forehead, pushing his long hair back behind his ears. “I should have bought a Big Gulp,” he mumbled to the birds flittering back and forth across the pavilion. You might not be in front of his grave, fool, but you are at Pike’s funeral. He was the only person who knew who you were. “Been under too long for me to even know who I am any more.”
The crowd was breaking up. Some genuine grief. Lots of drama for the cameras. Hell, there was a lot of news media. Murdered cops tended to bring ‘em out of the woodwork. Just longer to wait in the heat. Sunlight bounced into his eyes. An empty casing from the earlier honor guard.
Reaching down to pick it up, he stayed on one knee. He could see under the pavilion roof enough to watch a tall redhead lay the flag on Walter’s coffin and drop to her knees. She was visibly upset.
Another unanswerable “Why” escaped his lips. He didn’t have time to figure it out.
He had to find a murderer.
FINDING A HERO