Interlude Number Five: Borrowed Time
Just as Robert Pagano was leaving AJ and Brian’s room he was given the news that the fingerprints they had lifted at the crash site yielded no results besides the five band members and two people who worked at the rental company. There was one print that was deemed inconclusive which most likely belonged to the elusive Tim Muntkey.
Research confirmed that the stripper that Tim’s father supposedly killed was in fact pregnant and had given birth a few months before her death but since she had no living relatives to speak of, they were at the mercy of child services which was the least favorite department that Robert liked to deal with. They were usually slow and unwilling to help which didn’t give him the best feeling when it came to entrusting them with children in need. While waiting for answers from them, he also had people tracking down the original birth certificate in hopes that maybe the father listed would have a traceable address or better yet, recognizable name.
There was no death certificates listed for Marilyn or her husband, so his hope was to find all three alive and well. Three for the price of one wouldn’t be a bad day’s work. They had also managed to round up an old psychiatrist that worked with Marilyn Muntkey during one of her stays in the mental ward. Two of his agents were on their way to talk to him.
He walked over to the window and peered out, “It’s a zoo out there.” He said as he sipped on a coffee and took a bite out of a doughnut. The news trucks were everywhere and people were lined up outside just waiting for something to happen. This was probably the most action this town had ever seen. He looked at his watch, “And it’s not even 7 in the morning yet.”
“Agent Pagano,” one of his team members said, “Captain Blake is on the phone you’re going to want to take this call.”
Robert nodded and grabbed the phone, “Pagano.”
“Robert we found Howie Dorough.”
The Agent put his coffee cup on the table, “Alive?” He asked hopeful.
“Yes and he knows were Muntkey is.”
“I’ll be right there!” He said as he handed the phone back to his man and started barking orders at his team.
Pat was on route back to the hospital when he got a call saying they had found the white truck just stalled on the road with the driver still inside. Luckily he was only ten minutes away from the location so he was able to get there in no time flat. He met his four policemen with guns drawn and aimed at the vehicle. No one had made a move yet. So he nodded and grabbed the bullhorn out of his squad car, “Come out with your hands up!” He said.
He wasn’t sure what to expect but was kind of surprised when the door opened almost immediately after his request.
“Please don’t shoot, it’s Howie Dorough, I’m one of the Backstreet Boys.” He pleaded as he slowly got out of the car with his hands raised over his head.
Once Pat was able to identify the suspect as one of the victims he called an ambulance but the musician was hesitant to get help, “We have to go back! I knocked him out but he may wake up any minute and Nicky is dying. He’s needs our help. He’s not going to make it!” The desperation in his voice was evident. That’s when he called Agent Pagano.
He walked to the back of the ambulance where Dorough was sitting, “The FBI is on the way.” He said.
Howie seemed relieved and nodded, “How long?”
“Not long at all. About how far away is this cabin?”
“I’m not sure, I wish I could say. I was trying so hard to get away I wasn’t paying attention. I keep messing up.” His voice was shaky and he seemed to be in shock. The paramedics had a blanket around him and were examining his eyes and tending to some minor cuts on his face.
“You think you would be able to lead us there though?”
Mr. Dorough nodded. “Without a doubt but we have to go soon. Kevin’s ankle is badly broken and Nicky was unconscious…we couldn’t’ wake him up…he…” He looked up, “We need to get there soon!”
“Was he armed?”
Howie nodded, “He had a rifle but Kevin is holding onto it now. I drugged his coffee and then hit him in the head with a fire poker. He wasn’t moving when I left but I don’t know if I killed him.” He looked the Captain in the eyes, “I might have killed him.”
Pat put a hand on the victim’s shoulder, “If you did, it was self-defense, Mr. Dorough.”
“Yes, self-defense,” he repeated as he pulled the blanket tighter around himself.
Pagano and his men rolled onto the scene a few minutes later and once Pat briefed him on what Howie said, they were in the squad car heading back to the cabin.
Robert insisted Howie ride in the back of the squad car because he was afraid he might try to run out to help once they reached the actual crime scene. He had seen it happen one too many times for his liking. Someone leads them to where they need to be only to end up putting themselves in danger and in so doing risk the entire mission. At first it took some convincing for Robert to even go along with the idea of Howie joining them. He felt like they could find it themselves especially now that he had finally managed to get the chopper off the ground to help in the investigation. But after hearing how badly one of the band members was hurt, he decided to forgo his instincts and let the singer lead the way.
The chopper was heard overhead as they turned on to a small gravel road.
“This is it; he lives at the end of this road.” Dorough said pointing.
“And you said he lived alone? No sign of his parents anywhere?” Pagano asked Howie.
“I’m pretty sure his parents are both dead.”
The cars all turned onto the driveway that led to the house and gradually came to a stop. “I’m going to ask you to stay in the car, Mr. Dorough.” Robert said.
Howie nodded as Robert and Pat got out of the car armed and wearing vests. They slowly and cautiously moved to the front door which was opened with a line of blood leading away and down the steps. The FBI and police all moved in single file up the stairs and surrounded the cabin from all angles. Pagano used his fingers to gesture that they were going in on three. He held up his first finger, then the second. When his third went up he moved into the doorway with gun at the ready, “This is the FBI! We have a Warrant!” He said as he looked inside.
There was no one lying in the living room like Howie had said there would be. So cautiously the team proceeded into the cabin and moved to the bedroom where someone was lying on the floor, “We need a medic stat!” he barked into his walkie talkie.
Robert and Pat knelt beside the victim who was semiconscious and bleeding from what looked like a gunshot wound to the head. “Help is coming Mr. Richardson.” Pat said in a calm voice as everyone else in the cabin gave the all clear.
“You have to find them. He took Nick…please.” Kevin sounded weak.
“How long ago?” Agent Pagano asked.
“Not long. They were on foot…find them…please you have to…”
The paramedics came running into the cabin, “We’re working on it right now!” Pat reassured as he held onto Kevin’s hand. Upon closer inspection he realized that the wound wasn’t a gunshot but a gash. “What happened?” He asked as Pagano ran out of the room in pursuit.
“He grabbed Nick…” He said sounding a little dazed, “I had to shoot, I think I hit him but then he grabbed the rifle and smacked me in the head with it.”
Pat nodded now realizing all the blood they found belonged to the suspect.
“I tried to stop him but I couldn’t…” He started to cry, “I couldn’t…”
“If he’s injured I’m sure he couldn’t have gone too far. We’ll get him Mr. Richardson.” Pat said smiling at the man sympathetically.
“He’s on foot with the other victim, and we need to start a search now.” Pagano said as he ran out of the cabin and spoke with his team.
He then spoke to the chopper to search the surrounding area before heading back to the squad car where a very anxious Howie sat with hand on window looking like a dog wanting nothing more than to break out and run around.
“What’s going on? Why is everyone scattering like that?”
“Mr. Dorough I need to know if Tim mentioned anywhere he might go on foot.”
Howie’s face turned a shade of white, “He’s not there…oh my God. But the paramedics…”
“Mr. Richardson was hurt.”
Dorough lost it at that point, “Let me out!” He cried, “I need to see him!”
“Calm down, Howie, you can see him in a minute, but first an answer to the question I just asked you.”
Howie nodded, “There was a campsite not too far from here. I was actually there hiding at one point. It’s off of the main road.”
“Yes….Nicky is he in there too?”
Robert shook his head, “We believe he’s with the suspect.”
Howie placed his hand to his mouth, “You have to find him! He was going to kill Nick!!”
He nodded and then ran towards a few members of his team. “We need to find GPS coordinates for the exact location of that campground.”
“We see footprints over here Boss!”
He ran to the place where his agent was standing. “Let’s follow those and the two of you take a car and start a search about a mile down the road.”
Kevin Richardson was being taken out of the cabin as Howie ran towards his friend, just as Robert was making his way into the woods following the footprints which he hoped would lead to Tim and Nick before it was too late.