Chapter Two
Deputy Marvin Moore manhandled Bruen into the Hexewald Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Connie Corvus stood up in her office to gather a greater view of the infamous killer. Tall. Lean muscle. Dark, lifeless hair that looked as though it hadn’t had a decent washing in a week, the tufts curved under his earlobes. His eyes. Connie focused on the eyes. Irises the color of death, yet alive and aware of his surroundings. The sheriff exited her office.
She walked over to the shackled prisoner. Bruen gazed to the floor, perhaps praying a trap door would drop him to safety. More likely to hell. Connie’s cousin, Deputy Marvin Moore, maintained a firm grip on the offender. His right hand was clamped around Bruen’s bicep. Deputy Harris Coggins held onto the skel’s right arm. The sprig of rain glistened on the deputies’ hats and filtered down to their shoulders.
“Picked up any?” Connie asked as she met Bruen’s glare.
“Little, cuz. Think Fiona’s heading this way?”
“That’s what Shelby on the weather station insists.”
The prisoner shifted his weight. The deputies tightened their grasp. Bruen’s lightweight jacket crinkled under their adjustment. “You processed him already?”
“Sure thing, Sheriff. Poor Jansen did the search. Wasn’t too pleased. Clean as a bottle of bleach,” Marvin said.
Connie said, “Place him in the hold. Will you, Deputy Coggins?”
Harris Coggins nodded and ushered the fugitive down the hall. Bruen shuffled his feet, and they tugged on the linoleum. His right foot hit the floor, a slight drag on the push off. Wounded? Not by her staff. The door to the lockup closed.
“I talked to the U.S. Marshals Service. With the hurricane approaching, they won’t get here for another four or five days.”
“Shit, we’ve got to keep him that long?” Marvin pulled off his cap and shook the raindrops free.
“I’m afraid so. Look. It might not be so bad. Keep him in a private cell. We have what…eight other inmates awaiting transfer to County or State?”
“Campbell, Watts, Brown, Hillerman, Daniels, Winkler, Arnez, and Lopez. Transport delayed?”
“You’ve lived in Florida enough to know the drill during hurricane season. Hafta wait until after the storm surge.”
Connie walked back to her office. She sat behind her desk and scrubbed the computer mouse to deactivate the sheriff’s office screensaver.
Marvin entered her office. He remained standing.
Connie said, “I hate to ruin your week, but I need you to stay on call.”
“Not an issue. My week was light. You hunkering down as well?” Marvin asked.
“Sure.” She pointed to a sage-colored three-cushioned couch. “Not as comfy as a bed, but I’ve enough reserves to survive the week.”
“Guess that’s why they pay you the big bucks.”
“Go on, take a breather while you can. With any luck, we’ll only get the fringe.”
Marvin turned, stopped a halfway to the door, and faced Connie. “You know what he did?”
Two deputies stood outside her office. “Shut the door, will you?” After the door closed, Connie continued. “Look, I know what he is accused of–“
“Bullshit. What he did. He killed three law enforcement officers. That isn’t gonna sit well with Harris, Wally, and Jansen.”
“It doesn’t sit well with me either. I know what’s going on in your minds. I see the way you look at him and the way he looks at us. Mutual hate. I know he did it. You know he did it. Harris, Wallace, and Jansen know it, too. We can’t let that get the better of us. We screw up, and all the media and AG will be all on us. It sucks the weather isn’t going to cooperate with us to get his ass out here ASAP. We all have to deal. He gets the same treatment as the others. The same. No difference. No matter how much he deserves it. You understand me, Marv.”
“I hate it when you call me Marv. But I hear ya. I’ll pass the word.”
“See to it. Don’t like the BS, but it goes with the badge. You signed up for the life. We just gotta hope that the prosecutor does his job and doesn’t end up with a bunch of fuckwits in the jury.”
Marvin reached for the doorknob. “We know where he’s being extradited to?”
“The Marshal Service said up near Lynchburg in the Western District of Virginia.”
“That’s one helluva long car ride with a psychopath.”
“Fugitive transport will have two Deputy U.S. Marshals.”
“Right.” He opened the door and left. Connie revisited the latest weather report. A crack of thunder interrupted her solitude. Fiona upgraded to a CAT Three. Wasn’t much else they could do besides hunker down.
The stout Deputy Harris Coggins ushered Bruen to the last cell at the left. The law enforcement officer went out of his way to give the impression of cordialness. Bruen sensed the forced politeness. Coggins would love to be in a room alone with Bruen and no retributions. Bruen felt the same.
“Please enter. When I close the door, I need you to face the back wall and slid your hands through the slots, so I can take off the cuffs. You get gruff with me, and I’ll leave your cuffs on and you can try to open your zipper with your mouth to take a pee. Are we on the same page?”
Southern hospitality. One of those quirks of the demographic. Bruen would never get used to it. He missed the to-the-point attitude of the North. “Sure do, Deputy Coggins.”
He entered, the roll of the door closing behind him. A step backwards. He slipped his hands through the food tray slot. Mechanism hand cranked. Unevolved station. The brunette female was the sheriff. She seemed south of forty. A woman sheriff–the town entered the twentieth century, at least. Shit, Bruen didn’t even know what backwater town he was in. A rustle of metal and he noticed the slight feel of fingers releasing the handcuffs. Bruen retrieved his hands from the hole. He spun around. The deputy folded the shackles and placed them into his pocket.
“Do you mind me asking where in the hell I am?”
“No, I don’t mind.”
Cute. Backwoods humor. “Then could you tell me?”
The deputy put his hand on the bar six inches from Bruen’s forehead. “Hexewald.”
“Hexewald. What the hell kind of name is that?”
“German,” the deputy said. “It means witch wood.”
“Shouldn’t it be warlock wood? Witches can’t get wood.”
The deputy smiled. “Good one. I’ll be back. You just missed lunch. Dinner will come around six.”
“Can’t hardly wait.”
The deputy left. Bruen looked at the other residents of Hexewald prison. He saw three prisoners from his vantage point. One Hispanic. One black. And one, well one he didn’t know what, as the detainee lay on his cot, his rear to the bars. They stared back. None spoke. Silent. When Bruen finished his assessment, he retired to the cot. It squeaked. He reclined. His shoes remained on. A rumble from outside permeated through the walls. A storm brewed. How could he make this development benefit him?
He stared at the ceiling. Paneled drywall. Bruen never seen a jail with this type of overhead. He brushed the outside of his hand against the wall and rapped his knuckles against the rough material. The concrete walls were added later. The floor plan of this jail was off. Bruen turned his attention to outside of the cell. A camera swept the area, tilting side to side. He hopped off the steel cot and aimed for the bars. The three other prisoners that he saw moved to another side of their cells. “Hey, any of you goombahs know anything about this shithole we’re in?”
“You don’t know where the fuck you are?” the Hispanic said.
Bruen eyed him. Mid-forties, might be an Indian, hair pulled back. A side view revealed a child’s hair tie. “Can’t say I do. I sorted stumbled in by mistake.”
“Ha, yeah, mistake. Tell you what, buddy, everyone’s here by mistake.”
Another voice chirped up. “Me, too. I’m waiting for Johnny Cochran to bail me out.”
“You’ll be waiting a long time, moron. Cochran’s been dead for years,” Bruen said.
“Fuck you, asshole.”
“Ya’ll shut up in there.” Deputy Coggins appeared from the entrance. “Don’t make me put the television on.”
“Shit, I’ll love some entertainment, officer.” Bruen stared at him, issuing him a challenge to see who would blink first.
A shit-eating smile on the deputy’s face. “All right, you asked for it.”
Groans from the other prisoners. Coggins departed. Six televisions on the wall, flipped to…the Weather Channel. “What the hell–“
“That’s their idea of entertainment,” the older man, whose back was toward Bruen, said.
Bruen hadn’t been aware that there was a hurricane developing. A weatherman, not a hot-looking piece of meteorologist ass, related the details about Hurricane Fiona. The cyclone transformed into Category Three storm. Winds between 111 and 130 miles per hour. According the weatherman, Fiona could drop down to a Category Two storm once she made landfall, but she might turn into a CAT Four before landfall. Hell’s bells, don’t anybody know anything?A scroll on the bottom of the screen listed the affected counties in Florida. “What county are we in?”
The older prisoner looked at Bruen as if he were an idiot. “That one there.” He pointed to the screen. “That yellow one there at five o’clock in the cone of uncertainty.”

The cone of what? “What’s the fuck that mean for us?”
“It means,” the old-timer said, “we are in a shitstorm of thunder, lightning, and power outages.”
“Aren’t they gonna evacuate us?” the Hispanic asked.
“How long have you lived in the Sunshine State, fella? Shit, this here building was a storm shelter before Sheriff Moore took office and turned it into a jail. We’re elevated here. We’re on the outs of the cone. We’ll get the tropical storm winds, rain bands. This one’s a wet one.”
“You don’t say,” Bruen said. He turned around and lay back on his cot. From his vantage point, he was able to watch the television. The old-timer rambled on. The newscaster spoke of the need to evacuate if you were in the evacuation zones. Bruen studied the maps of the area on the screen. He had always been good with memorization. The weatherman went on to explain, once the storm hit, if you needed emergency services, you were SOL. You were stranded for days. Too dangerous for the emergency personnel. Remember Hurricane Katrina, the reporter reminded. The next video was of a cute little correspondent dressed in a raincoat and drenched in Fiona’s fluids. He soaked up all the information the television provided. A rumble of thunder flittered in, and a whipcrack of lightning joined it. Perhaps his unintentional detour into this Mayberry could prove beneficial.