Dead Is Dead (The Jack Bertolino Series Book 3)

Dead Is Dead (The Jack Bertolino Series Book 3) by John Lansing Read Free Book Online

Book: Dead Is Dead (The Jack Bertolino Series Book 3) by John Lansing Read Free Book Online
Authors: John Lansing
hundred yards off Sunset Beach. The waves were nonexistent and Toby sat calmly with a thousandyard stare. He was digging the water lapping against his board, the warmth of the late-afternoon breeze, and the bright orange sun that was trending toward the horizon, painting the shoreline with a golden brush.
    His friend Dean paddled alongside, muscled to an easy sitting position, and gave Toby an appraising look. “You look bummed, man.”
    “Nah, just a few things on my mind. I’m mellow.”
    “Not buying it, but I can help your disposition, bro. Wanna kick something into the kitty?” he asked with a wide grin. Dean had a short crew cut with an oversized blue bar code tattooed on the back of his neck and blue eyes that were bloodshot from the saltwater.
    “Oh yeah?” Toby said, snapping out of his reverie. “Put me down for two hundred.”
    “Done. It’s coming in tomorrow night. I’ll have your taste on Thursday.”
    “For sure?”
    “Guaranteed.”
    “Sweet. Meet me up at the Jeep. I’ll slide you the cash.” Now that Toby was back to himself, he realized he didn’t need a friend like Dean being his pal, asking him questions that Toby didn’t want to answer. “Later.” Toby paddled for shore, no longer interested in the setting sun.
----
    Jack decided to stop by the scene of the shooting and interview the only known witness of record. He wasn’t due on the film set for another few days. Susan Blake was shooting interiors, scenes dealing with her character’s family life and personal relationships. With Jack’s contentious divorce still a nagging wound, he didn’t think he was the right man to give advice on marriage. The director, Henry Lee, would be glad to have Susan’s technical adviser off the set.
    Jack pulled his sterling gray Mustang convertible to the curb a few houses beyond the Sanchez residence. The shrine that had been set up to honor six-year-old Maria had grown in scope: rows of lit prayer candles, wilted flowers that had been battered by the rain covered with fresh bouquets along with a grouping of soggy stuffed animals. He’d decided to give the family some privacy. He’d let Jeff give the family the good news about Juan’s release.
    There was only one white house on the block, so referenced by Lieutenant Gallina, and Jack was taking a flyer and stopping in unannounced. A six-foot varnished redwood fence obscured the property, exposing only the second floor of the dwelling. He was about to press the intercom at the front gate when he heard, “Son of a bitch!”
    The entrance to the driveway was open, and Jack walked toward the voice. A man who appeared to be the owner of the house was balanced precariously on an upper rung of a fifteen-foot ladder that had been propped against the side of the house.
    Leaves, mud, and water were running down the front of his Hawaiian shirt, dark green khaki shorts, and thin bare legs. His orange Crocs were filled with the runoff. The copper gutter was stuffed with debris and the muddy water was now overflowing the blockage and staining the white stucco side of his house.
    “I just had the fucking house painted,” he said to himself as he threw a glob of detritus on the cobblestone driveway with a muddy thwack.
    After one more handful of gunk the water started running properly and the man shuffled carefully down the ladder.
    “What can I do you for?” the man said with a thick Brooklyn accent as he picked up a hose and trained it on the side of his now less-than-pristine house.
    “Jack Bertolino,” Jack said by way of introduction.
    “Oh, okay, sorry, I hate doing things twice,” he said, referring to the paint job. “And uh . . . my name’s Mike Triola. Give me a second, will ya?”
    Jack nodded and looked back toward the shrine. The Sanchez house was five doors down.
    Mike finished spraying the house, sprayed down his own legs, his Crocs, and turned off the spigot satisfied that the sun once again reflected off white paint.
    “You’re

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