Here is a sneak peek of the second book in A Town of Murderers series called The Second Plan.
After breaking into a morgue to steal evidence linking him to a murder, Ricardo Leon kills the witnesses and sets fire to the building to cover his tracks. He knows he’ll get away with it because he has a mole in the police station.
Ace Cankey vows to bring the notorious gang leader Ricardo to justice. He will use any means necessary to get his man, including planting evidence. An easy task as the new Treble County Coroner. Can one man bring down a ruthless gang of killers? Or will Ace let his ego and ambition be his ruin?
***Warning this book contains graphic content.***
“Don’t show your faces,” Ricardo Leon said before covering his face with a black ski mask. Only his mouth and eyes were visible.
He waited until the three guys with him were hidden, too. He tested the door handle, but it wouldn’t turn. His heart pounded, and his mouth ran dry. He needed to get into this room now because his future depended on it.
The access pad on the wall needed a badge. He didn’t have one, so he knocked instead. The lack of a window on the door might work in his favor if someone was dumb enough to open it without checking who was there first. He glanced at his gun’s safety to make sure it was off.
“Did you forget your pass again Tony? I’m coming. Give me a minute.” A guy in a white coat opened the heavy, wooden door. When he saw the weapons, his mouth fell open.
“Where’s everyone?” Ricardo asked.
“In the morgue,” the medical examiner said.
The ME pointed to the first door on the left.
“Get your ass on the ground.” Ricardo pushed the muzzle of his gun into the other man’s fat belly. When the guy didn’t comply, he hit him in the back of the head with the butt of his 9mm.
“Please don’t hurt me. I have a wife and a family. My youngest son turned three last week.” The ME fell to his knees. The wound on the top of his head bled and he brought his hands up to cover it.
“The boss says to get on the ground. If you don’t, I’ll kill you,” Juan Gonzalez said, his steady tone let everyone know he would do it. He lifted his gun, pointing it at the man. This wouldn’t be his first murder.
Tears formed in the ME’s eyes. He lay on the gray tiled floor, and a whimper escaped from his lips.
“Lock your fingers together on the back of your head. Who else is in the room with you?” Ricardo asked, once his hostage complied with his demand.
“Just my apprentice and the guard,” the ME answered, fear etched in his voice.
Ricardo motioned with his head for Juan to enter the morgue first. He took the second position while one of his men followed behind them. The other stayed inside the doorframe AS the look out. They needed to move fast.
The moment he walked into the morgue, Juan demanded, “Get your hands up and step away from the dead body.”
Ricardo followed his man inside with his weapon drawn in front of him. The attendant was the only worker.
Where was the guard? The three separate, autopsy tables were big enough for a person. They had a sink at the head of each one and were open, not a place anyone could hide. A man was cut open on one. The lower half of his body was covered by a white sheet.
The scared attendant stepped away and raised his hands. He was wearing plastic gloves. The scalpel he had clattered to the ground. The pants he wore slowly became wet in the crouch. He peed himself. Some of the urine leaked down his blue scrubs to the floor and on his shoes. The stench filled the air, smelling worse than cat pee. The room already stunk like rotten meat and antiseptic.
“Did you see what I made him do? The chicken pissed himself,” Juan said. A loud and high laugh, like a hyena, burst through his mouth. He earned the animal nickname for this reason, and, the fact, he was a scavenger. He ate almost anything.
“Juan, you badass,” Pablo Nuestra said, he sounded impressed.
“Shut up dumbass. The boss said no names.” Juan pushed his friend into the metal table near the young ME.
“Man, you made me touch a dead body. I just touched a dead body.” Pablo smiled at something. The guy had to be high. Ricardo told him last night to not take a hit this morning. If Pablo messed this up, he’d be taught a lesson later. He lifted the hand on the guy on the slab and waved it. He giggled afterward.
“Where’s the guard?” Ricardo asked the worker after he decided to ignore the two clowns. His posse wasn’t the brightest. He wouldn’t have brought them if he wasn’t desperate. The worse part was they were the smartest inside his gang now. Some of his guys were in prison. Others were dead. His lieutenant went to jail for unpaid child support. He’d be out in a few days, but not in enough time to complete this mission. If Ricardo failed here, he’d be inside the big house for years or get the needle.
“Burt’s in the bathroom,” the ME said.
The ME pointed to one of the closed doors at the back of the room. The other might be a supply closet.
Ricardo couldn’t tell what it was from where he stood. He said to Juan, “Go get him.”
The big man lumbered over to the door. He pounded on it with a beefy fist, and when the guard didn’t respond, he shook the handle. Juan was six-foot-tall and built like a furnace. He was dumb like a heater, too. He was a good lackey, always doing what he was told.
“Get your ass out of there before I kill your friend,” he said.
The door unlocked with a click.
Juan kicked it, and the handle busted away from the frame. He grabbed a hold of the rent-a-cop, yanking him out of the restroom and tossing him onto the ground.
“I did what you want.” The guard rolled onto his back and put his hands in the air.
Juan raised his gun and squeezed the trigger. His weapon made a firecracker sound when it went off. The bullet left the chamber, crashing into the guard’s skull. The silencer on the end didn’t prevent the big bang. Anyone in this four-story building and a few blocks away could hear the noise.
“Why the hell did you kill him?” Ricardo asked, pissed off. His temper rose, and he fought to keep it in check. He wanted to kill the witness after he stole the evidence. Any gunshots would bring the cops here. The fastest they could get here was ten minutes unless a squad car was nearby.
“The cops will be here soon. The guard made a phone call. I figured you want to deal with one less person,” Juan answered.
“Shit, we better hurry. The timetable has moved up to eight minutes.” Ricardo glanced at the man on the autopsy table. His skin would’ve been dark if he was still alive. He wasn’t the person Ricardo came here for.
Ricardo raised his gun to the attendant’s face, grabbing onto the guy’s shirt and lifting him off the ground by three inches.
“Where the hell is the dead gang banger?” he asked.
“He’s…he’s in the freezer,” the ME said with a stutter.
“The third door on the left in the hallway.”
“Show me.” Ricardo released his hostage and pushed him to stand in front of him.
They walked into the hallway, stepping over the ME.
The guy was alive for now.
“What should we do boss?” his man at the door asked.
“Clean up the mess in here and check for any evidence.” Ricardo glanced at the ceiling. Two dome cameras covered the entrance and the hallway. “Don’t forget the video feed. We don’t want the cops finding us.”
“You alright?” His guy nodded at the prisoner with Ricardo as they left the room.
“I got this. We have seven minutes remaining.” Ricardo pushed the young man forward. “Move.”
“Why should I? You’ll kill me.” The ME stumbled and caught himself from falling on the ground.
“If you don’t, I’ll gun down your family.” Ricardo searched the guy’s back pocket, pulling out a wallet. He opened it and read the name on the license. A wedding photo, pictures of two kids, and a family portrait were in the plastic credit card holders. “Donald Thatcher lives at 3618 Terrace Drive. Is your wife at home? She doesn’t want a visit from me. Trust me. You have cute kids.”
“Please don’t hurt them. I’ll do anything,” David said.
“Show me where the dead gang member is.”
“Who? We haven’t autopsied several victims in a drive by shooting.”
“Jeremy Camp,” Ricardo said.
“Did you kill him?” Donald asked.
“Does it matter if I did?”
Donald shook his head and shuffled down the hallway.
Last man walking. The other guy knew he was on death row. If he was any trouble, his family would be dead, too. A few beats of the march song strummed in the Ricardo’s head. He tried to contain the smirk from forming on his face. He didn’t try hard.
“Mr. Camp’s body should be in here.” Donald stopped outside a door.
“What do you mean by ‘should be’?” Ricardo asked, suspicious. His gaze narrowed on the worker.
“We haven’t identified some of the bodies yet.”
“Open the door.” The entrance was made of wood. The freezer must be somewhere inside the room. He doubted his hostage would mess with him.
Donald fumbled with the keys he took out of his pocket. Selecting one, he stuck it into the lock. The bolt unlatched, and the door swung open.
“Everyone is in the freezer at the back,” Donald said.
“I don’t care who you have in there. Show me the punk, Jeremy,” Ricardo said.
“I’ll need your help finding him. I don’t know what body bag he’s inside.” Donald opened the freezer door, entering the little space. He went over to the first black, human-sized pouch. He unzipped it and checked the name on the paper on the dead girl’s chest.
“Hurry up and skip the bodies in the shape of a chick or a kid.”
“Some of these bodies haven’t been identified yet.” Donald checked his fifth cadaver bag. There wasn’t any identification on this one. “Is this him?”
“That’s the punk, Jeremy. Have you removed the bullet?”
“The autopsy hasn’t been done yet. We’re behind because the county coroner is leaving,” Donald said, after reading the sheet.
“Grab the bullet,” Ricardo said.
Jeremy didn’t have an incision on his chest.
“You want me to go inside him and retrieve it?” Donald’s voice was filled with confusion or disbelief. His eyes widened.
“Yeah, I need it. Get your skinny hand inside the corpse and get me the damn bullet. Quit stalling.”
“How can I remove it without any tools?”
“Use your fucking fingers. If that don’t work, I’ll cut a bigger hole,” Ricardo said.
After Donald placed two fingers inside the wound on the dead body and dug around for a minute, he said, “I’ll need a bigger cut.”
“Move.” Ricardo stuck his gun in the waist of his jeans.
The ME’s gaze stayed on it.
Pulling out a switch blade from his pocket, he pressed the button and the blade slid out. “Do you think you can take me?” Ricardo asked.
“I…I can’t. You’ll…You’ll need to cut lower,” the ME stammered.
Ricardo stabbed Jeremy right below the rib cage. He used two hands to slice the flesh there until the cut was wider. Once he was done, he wiped the blood off his knife and onto the body bag.
Donald closed his eyes and stuck his hand inside the body. Once he found something inside the chest cavity, he pulled his arm and it out.
“This looks like the slug of a 9mm. I’d need to run some tests to be sure. Did it come from your gun?” Donald held the slug up and rotated it between his thumb and pointer finger in the low light.
“Yes, the one right here. Give the bullet to me.” Ricardo waved his gun. He held out his hand. The weapon he carried now wasn’t the one he used to kill the rival gang member. He owned that one. He didn’t get a chance to hide the body before the cops came. Once he had the slug, the state attorney would have a hard time pinning the death on him.
“Promise me you won’t hurt my family.”
Donald stared at him for a moment and then dropped the slug into the outstretched hand. The guy didn’t grovel and for that Ricardo admired him for it.
Ricardo didn’t have a high enough regard for the ME to spare his life. He’d at least keep his word. He pulled out his gun, aimed, and fired.
The bullet slammed into Donald’s head, right in an eye and came out the back of his head. His body fell back first and then to the ground with a loud thump when he tried to move away.
“Are we good here? The rest of us are finished. We have two minutes left,” Juan said, at the door.
“I need some gasoline. Do you have any?” Ricardo asked.
Juan shook the halfway full container. He walked into the freezer and dumped it on Jeremy along with the floor and a few other cadavers. He tossed the red gas can aside when he finished after wiping it down.
Ricardo pulled out a lighter, dropping it into a small pile of gasoline. The liquid ignited, and the blue flame streaked across the floor. Once it hit a pool of gas, a fire burst out. A thick cloud of smoke filled the air, forcing the people alive in the room to cough. The blaze started Jeremy on fire or at least his black bag.
“Let’s get out of here,” Ricardo said satisfied.