HAVE YOU SEEN SAVANNAH FRYE? - GERALD SO
Originally published in November 2007 on DZ Allen's Muzzle Flash
"I'd like to report a murder," Tom Gregory said from a pay phone.
"Excuse me, sir, did you say--?"
"Murder. Yes." He gave the address. "Get someone over there right away."
"Can you tell me your name, sir?"
"Her name is Savannah Frye. My girlfriend. We were on speakerphone when someone broke in and attacked her. Please hurry."
"Sir, can you tell me your name?"
"Jack MacLeish," he said and gave an address . "Is that all?"
"Thank you," he said gruffly and hung up.
The truth was Tom had called Savannah. Twice. When she didn't answer, he went over and found her door ajar. Moving swiftly, silently through her house, he noted an intruder's muddy bootprints. He found Savannah in the bedroom. Stripped naked. Sexually abused. Eyes empty in death.
It was like the life was drained from him, too. Thanks to training, he managed not to vomit until he was some distance away. Then he cried. Then he called 911.
He didn't know how soon the police would have a suspect. No time would be soon enough. You had to act while the enemy was still high on victory. Luckily, Tom knew who the enemy was. He'd seen him not three hours earlier, flirting with Savannah.
She only encouraged the guy because she was mad at Tom.
The truth was Savannah wasn't Tom's girlfriend. They met at Hooters his second night in Georgia. He hadn't planned on staying a third, but he liked her company. He liked her mannish laugh. He liked her big hair. blue eyes, and big breasts.
Even as three nights became three weeks, became three months, he told himself he couldn't lead her on, let her expect more than good laughs and good sex.
He remembered Savannah saying her parents had passed. You're the closest I have to family.
She'd said it after sex so it might have been a joke. It made Tom think of his sister Lisa.
He'd served six years in the Corps, getting out six months after the U. S. invasion of Iraq, turning his sniper training toward photography.
Working up the nerve to see Lisa after eight years, he found her being abused and blackmailed by her boyfriend. Tom remembered what he'd done to stop it. Lisa was alive and well, but he couldn't imagine ever seeing her again. With Savannah's death, it was almost as if Lisa hadn't survived.
Focus on the objective.
The man's name was Buck Turley. He'd been into the Hooters three nights a week the past three weeks, flirting with Savannah every time. Tom had tailed him home one night just out of curiosity. Turley didn't get into a car but, sloppy drunk, he was easy to shadow.
He lived in a trailer park four blocks over from the Hooters. Outside his trailer door were a pair of workboots. Tom knocked. Knocked again. Turley pushed the door open, filling the doorway.
He could have been miles away, but he was here. Freshly showered. Mustache and beard trimmed. Hot wings on his breath.
His eyes took a while to focus on Tom, showed no recognition. "What you want?"
"Have you seen Savannah Frye?"
Turley's eyes flashed at that--all the proof Tom needed. He hit Turley in the balls, then the Adam's apple. Before the big man could get his bearings, Tom drew his fighting knife and slashed Turley's throat.
Then he got out of there. By the time he heard his breath again, he was on I-75 South headed for the Keys.
BIO: Gerald So is fiction editor for the Thrilling Detective Web Site and co-editor of The Lineup: Poems on Crime. Visit his blog at If You Want To Know About My Life....