Dead Low Tide

Dead Low Tide by Bret Lott Read Free Book Online

Book: Dead Low Tide by Bret Lott Read Free Book Online
Authors: Bret Lott
by the surprise of what he didn’t know, and whoever it was coming in.
    Because he always knew what was going on. He knew. He’d know from the crunch of the gravel the sort of cruiser it was out there, whether it was one of those Dodge Chargers the Hanahan police drove or the heavy Crown Vics the sheriff’s office still used or the big Chevy Silverado pickups the DNR tooled around in. And if not from the sound of the tires on gravel, then he’d know from the slam shut of those doors exactly who it was.
    But not this time.
    The flashlight beam busted into my eyes, and I put a hand up. I should’ve known better than to be looking right where they’d have to be.
    “Command Master Chief Petty Officer Stanhope” boomed out deep from behind the light. “Master-at-arms, U.S. Navy.”
    “You got to be kidding me,” Unc let out hard. He didn’t move there in the front of the boat, the flashlight beam no challenge to him. “The Shore Patrol?”
    “Master-at-arms, sir,” the voice boomed out again, the last word a broad and flat
ahhhms:
he wasn’t from around here. “I am placing you under arrest. Do not move.”
    I took my hand down, squinted toward the voice, and the flashlight beam fell away.
    There were two of them, moving toward us: the one with the flashlight, his other hand at the holster on his hip; beside him a man holding what looked from here for all the world like an M4, the short barrel pointed down, the butt against his biceps. The one with the flashlight—Stanhope—was white, the other one black, and they were both big, over six foot, both in digital camo BDUs and billed caps. But the fatigues weren’t that desert brown and beige, I could see inthe porch light. From here they looked almost blue and black and gray.
    They stopped, the flashlight down, Stanhope’s hand still at his hip, the M4 down but ready. They’d passed the Cuthberts and Mrs. Q, the three of them backed away and against the low brick fence, their eyes open wide. Mrs. Q had a hand at her throat holding tight the neck of her sweater, Grange Cuthbert with his hands at his sides, Priscilla leaning into him.
    What the hell was a
master-at-arms
?
    “On what charge?” Unc said, and I could hear the steel in his jaw, the set of his teeth and bright tough edge of his voice that signaled this was a load of shit he wasn’t about to be putting up with, and whoever was shoveling it was about to get his ass kicked. It was a sound I’d heard only a few times—one of which was when we were about to be killed out on an island at Hungry Neck, just before it was me who’d done the killing—and I wondered for an instant if either of these two sailors had a clue what they were up against.
    But they had the guns, and they were the Navy. And of course I knew what this was about: two infrared illuminators on us from across the marsh. At the Naval Weapons Station.
    “Leland Osborne Dillard and Huger Simpson Dillard, you were observed trespassing on property owned by the United States Navy. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and—”
    “What in the hell!” Unc roared out. “We got the body of a dead girl here in this godforsaken muck and you come over here and treat us like we’re a couple terrorists just busted out the Navy brig—”
    “Trespassing?” I said out loud, me too stunned at the all of this—how’d they know who we were, us a half mile away across marsh when they’d seen us, and us in the backyard of someone else’s house?—to even understand what he was talking about. All I’d done was see them over there in the tract, me with my own night-vision goggles on. How was that trespassing?
    “If you want these—” I started, and bent down, reached for thebook bag at my feet. If it was the goggles they were after—these things some commander had sweated over losing at poker, and that nobody anywhere was supposed to have, goggles valuable enough and unlawful enough to dispatch sailors with guns to get them

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