The scheming killer is back, still fixated on the young woman reporter.
But this time he isn’t prepared for how his murders will put her in harm’s way.

Fourteen chapters.
Fourteen writers.
One thriller.

 

Click here to read Season One: The Sonoma Squares Murder Mystery.

PREVIOUSLY: A marijuana grower is slain on his land. On his arm is written the words “I’M BACK.”

Chapter 5 – Finding Robin Hood

By ROBERT DIGITALE

Gerald Mark Pointer awoke near dawn to the sound of car doors slamming and engines starting. He had slept the night inside a white delivery van parked in front of an apartment complex off West Avenue in Santa Rosa’s Roseland neighborhood. Opening his eyes, he figured he was listening to working stiffs driving away to jobs in food factories and vineyards. Slowly he pushed himself off a thin mattress. His knees and shoulders ached from a lousy night’s sleep. Pulling apart tan curtains from the back windows, he noticed the summer fog had settled high over the city. Immediately he set a Nikon camera with a 500 mm telephoto lens on a specially built stand, pointing it out the back. Gingerly he sat down on a plastic milk crate. While he waited, he ate two low-fat energy bars and chugged chocolate soy milk from a thermos bottle.

About 11 a.m. he spied a blond man with a goatee and sunglasses step outside into the overcast morning from an apartment about a football field away from the van. The man lit a cigarette and put his elbows on the roof of a silver Corvette. From his van, Pointer snapped a photo. Yes, that’s him, he thought. T.J., the one the stoners said could fix you up. So let’s see who comes to pass the time with you.

A primer gray 1969 Dodge Charger soon stopped by, followed by a red Honda tricked out with gold rims and a high, back spoiler. Deals started going down, plastic dime bags in exchange for single bills. Pointer snapped photos of each vehicle, but the drivers didn’t interest him. They were buying weed, not supplying it.

~

At 11:30, as blue sky began to break through, Tom Kenner pedaled his bike from West Avenue onto the street and stopped alongside the silver Corvette. He was dressed in black biking shorts and a neon red jersey and helmet. The blond man lifted his sunglasses and asked, “Man, how’s that spandex working out for you?”

“You ought to try it, T.J.,” Kenner said. “Cycling keeps you young. It’s good for the environment, too.”

“It’s not my kind of green, man,” T.J. said. “You get out of here before my associates show up. They’ll be stopping by in a few minutes.”

“Black Escalade?”

“Yeah, and if they think you’re following them, they’ll shoot you right off that fancy European bike.”

“European? Dude, I buy local. Thanks for another good tip.” Kenner threw T.J. a wallet stuffed with cash and turned his bike back to West Avenue.

~

Back at the van, Pointer began to snap photos as the cyclist rode away. “Who are you, man?” he asked aloud.

The cyclist stopped on the sidewalk at the street’s intersection with West Avenue. A minute later a vintage Chevy pickup jammed to a stop there. The driver and cyclist chatted for about 30 seconds. Pointer could see a few letters on the side door but the red jersey blocked the rest of the logo from view. As the white Chevy drove south, Pointer read aloud, “Three Tree Farm.”

The street sat quiet for another 10 minutes. T.J. lit a new cigarette, paced a little but stayed near the Corvette, eventually returning to lean against it, nod his head and for a minute hold still. Then he would once more pace the sidewalk. Pointer watched him do this four times. On the fifth time, the dealer stared up the street toward Pointer’s van. As he did, a black Escalade passed the van and rolled up the empty street. T.J. stepped out to meet it. He extended a small manila envelope as the vehicle slowed to a stop. A larger package was thrust from a window. The Escalade accelerated for West Avenue and turned south toward Hearn. As it blew through the stop sign, the cyclist emerged from hiding and raced after it. “What the …?” shouted Pointer.  He scrambled to the driver’s seat, cranked over the engine and whipped around the van to give chase.

By the time Pointer turned onto West Avenue, the cyclist was 150 yards in front of him and moving almost as fast as the Escalade. He soon watched the black vehicle turned east on Hearn Avenue. Already the cyclist was slowing. But even as he did, the white Chevy with the farm logo entered Pointer’s view, speeding past on Hearn, apparently after the Escalade. “You farm boys are sneaky, super sneaky,” said Pointer. He overtook the cyclist and set out after the pickup.

The Chevy turned south on Dowd, cruising past the back of the squat dealerships and the fleets of cars parked out front of the Corby Avenue Auto Row. Pointer briefly lost sight of the Escalade. However, he spied it a few minutes later parked in front of a house on Moorland Avenue. The pickup already had passed by and was continuing south to Todd Road. Pointer followed.

The White Chevy wound its way east out of Santa Rosa until it pulled onto a long driveway off Petaluma Hill Road. Pointer noted the sign out front, “Three Tree Farm, Organic Vegetables.” The farmhouse, surrounded by planted fields, looked to be at least 200 yards off the road. Pointer drove by and parked in a dirt pull-off at a spot where his telephoto lens could barely make visible the parked pickup. About a half hour later, he spotted the cyclist’s red jersey as he turned his bike onto the farm road. The pieces fit together, Pointer thought. So what next, boys? Do you want to snuff some suppliers like me? I doubt it.

~

Pointer kept watch throughout the day. About 11 p.m. that night, he perked up as the headlights of the white Chevy advanced up the driveway. The pickup turned north onto Petaluma Hill and made its way to a storage unit yard on Santa Rosa Avenue. Pointer pulled into the nearby parking lot of a carpet store and waited. About a half hour later, a dark BMW swept out of the storage yard, headed south toward Todd. Three men sat inside. To Pointer, the driver looked a lot like the cyclist. A man in the back seat turned and carefully scanned the avenue behind him.

Pointer forced himself to wait for nearly five minutes before he drove after the car. Sure enough, he found it parked with the three men still inside about a half block south of the home on Moorland. The Escalade still sat outside.

Looks like I found Robin Hood, Pointer thought as he drove past the BMW. You boys masquerade as farmers while you’re ripping off dealers. We need to get a little better acquainted.

TOMORROW: “Crossed Paths,” by Press Democrat Staff Writer Randi Rossmann. The killer lurks as the pot robbers and the detective go about their day.

 Press Democrat Staff Writer Robert Digitale conceived and co-edited Sonoma Squares/ Red Harvest. He is the host of the online blog “Digitale Stories” and the author of the fantasy novel, “Horse Stalker.” Learn more/hear the original music at www.horsestalker.com.

TO SEE ALL THE SONOMA SQUARES WRITERS AND THEIR CHAPTERS, WHEN PUBLISHED, CLICK HERE.

Edited by ROBERT DIGITALE and FREDERICK WEISEL

A PROJECT OF SONOMA WRITERS

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