Two streets away in deep shadow, Sheriff Farley was parked in his old red Ford when he watched Big Donnie Brown stop outside Ben Green’s garage and go inside.
All part of the plan.
Farley smiled to himself. How long since he saw Big Donnie put Annie into the swamp? Five? Six? Seven years? Farley wasn’t sure but he was sure of one thing: now was his time. Ever since that day on the river, he had been planning his move. Tonight was the final act in his terror campaign.
He yawned and looked at his watch. Just after 8pm, and yet he was sleepy. He hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in weeks. Instead, nightmares had disturbed him. For the past three weeks, every one had been the same: Farley standing beside Donnie, unable to move; Annie’s body in the old red Ford; the car in the swamp, sinking fast; Donnie laughing, laughing hard; the dark water in the car rising; Annie’s face, grey and lifeless; the water swimming up towards her chin, her nose.
Then her eyes would open and she’d look at Farley. She’d look deep, deep into him…
Most times, he had wakened himself with a shout.
He had liked old Annie – a good woman with a kind heart. But he had no illusions. If he had wanted revenge for what Donnie had done to her, he would simply have arrested him. No, no pretence. This was about the money. After tonight, he would send Donnie the first letter: a demand from an ‘anonymous’ blackmailer for $250,000 to keep his mouth shut about Annie. Of course, $250,000 was just the start. Once Donnie was hooked, he’d bleed him dry…
Farley reached over and picked up a bag from the back seat of the car. Inside was a grey wig. He pulled it on. ‘Better be ready for when Donnie comes back out’ he thought. But he couldn’t help chuckling at himself: a grown man in a grey wig! What next? ‘Shame Mary-Beth is so big or else I could have worn one of her dresses!’ That thought made him laugh.
He began to wonder about the car. Was the shade of red the same as Annie’s car? He had chosen ‘Alabama scarlet’, but now he wasn’t too sure. Perhaps ‘Sunset crimson’ would have been better. Then again, Big Donnie would never notice the difference. That night when he had driven the old Ford all over Big Donnie’s property and Donnie had come out shooting with his pistol proved it. Farley chuckled again. It was all too easy. With skeleton keys to open the gates to Donnie’s house, Nancy Hayek to paint muddy words on his Mercedes, and a few scares with the red Ford, Donnie was ready to pay up big time. After one last scare, he’d send the first letter. After that, all he had to do was keep taking Donnie Brown’s money to the bank!
The noise of the steel shutters falling at Ben Green’s garage interrupted his thoughts.
‘There’s my boy!’ said Farley. ‘My blue-eyed ATM!’ He watched Donnie walk to the grey Buick that was parked across the street from the garage.
Farley started up the engine of the old Ford. He had had to deal with lots of criminals over the years – and a lot of bent cops. He had always stayed clean – and look what it had got him: a house that was falling down and a wife who was always complaining about not having enough money. If that weren’t bad enough, his monthly pension –when he eventually retired – wouldn’t even cover half his grocery bill.
No, Donnie Brown deserved to pay; and he, Sheriff Farley of Easton Police Department, deserved to be paid!
Farley stamped on the accelerator pedal and roared off into the fog after the grey Buick.