Saturday Serial

Mike Lomax—Episode 10



JANUARY 27, 2017


To review what happened in episode 9, click here:




Mike ignored Stella’s threat to throw him under the bus and replied,

“Yeah, whatever. If we don’t figure out who punched Billy Ray’s ticket, it’s gonna be crowded under that damn bus. Just humor me, and you and Bubba get over to J&L and wait till I get there.”

Stella closed her locker door, rolled her eyes at Mike, and walked out the back door. Mike waited until Bubba pulled out of the parking lot, then climbed the stairs to Willard’s office. When he came through the door, Betty Buford said,

“Hey, Mike. That was you that called in the shooting, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah, it was. I’m here to give Willard a statement.”

“He just called in and told me to expect you. Said he was on his way. Want a coke or something while you wait?”

“Yeah, a cup of coffee, if you got one.”

“We always have coffee. It’s just there in the break room. Help yourself.”

Mike was pouring a cup when he heard Willard come in. He stirred in his sweetener and walked back into the office. Willard saw him and said,

“Good, you found the coffee. Let me grab a cup, and we’ll get your statement.”

They sat down in Willard’s office, and he looked at Mike and said,

“Okay, Mike, tell me exactly what happened.”

Mike began with his first conversation with Warren Lloyd, and told Willard the whole sequence of events, leaving out any mention of Junior’s affair with Bessie Lloyd, or the fact that he now was in her employ. Willard listened intently and took notes as Mike talked. When Mike finished, Willard looked up and said,

“Mike is this a complete accounting of your involvement in all of this?”

Mike hesitated and cleared his throat, trying to buy some time before he answered. Willard smiled and said,

“Or, would you like to elaborate on any point, such as Junior boinking Bessie Lloyd, or some other minor detail?”

Mike was stunned by Willard’s statement, and the shock was written across his face. He quickly realized that Willard knew a hell of a lot more than Mike thought he did, and if he didn’t come clean right now, the chance Willard was giving him would slip away. Withholding information during a criminal investigation, even if you never lied, was risky business, at best. He took a deep breath and replied,

“There may be some details that I could expand.”

“Okay, Mike, let’s start all over from the top, and I’ll play doctor with you.”

A puzzled look spread over Mike’s face, and Willard explained,

“Yeah. Play doctor like you did with the girls under the house. You show me yours, and I’ll show you mine, but you gotta go first, and yours will be on the record. I probably don’t need to tell you that you won’t get another re-do.”

Mike started over again, this time relating everything as best he could remember it. When he finished, he leaned back in his chair and said,

“That’s the whole sorry business, and I know it looks bad for Bessie, Junior, and me. We gotta be the prime suspects.”

Willard put his pen down and pushed the yellow legal pad aside.

“Don’t flatter yourself. This was a professional hit and way past your skill sets. If someone had beaten Billy Ray to death, you’d be at the top of the list, but the trigger man is long gone by now.”

“That’s going to make it hard to catch him, isn’t it?”

“Probably impossible, but I don’t really care. I want to know who paid him to do it, and your client, Mrs. Lloyd, is certainly a possibility. She has motive and financial means. What do you think?”

“I’ll give you my thoughts after you show me yours. Remember our deal?”

“Okay. I guess that’s fair. The FBI has been leading a task force that includes the DEA, the MBI, and the sheriffs of Lee and Barksdale counties. Significant amounts of cocaine have been funneling through this area and are being redistributed all over the Southeast. All of the evidence so far points to a distribution point in Barksdale County. Bessie Lloyd owns land and buildings in remote areas, and we’ve had her under surveillance for several months.”

“I guess Junior turned up on your radar about the same time.”

“Mike, I’ve known Junior Swafford all his life, and while he may be a local swordsman of some skill and repute, he’s damn sure not a killer. Yeah, we’ve known Junior was screwing Bessie, but, he wasn’t the only guy in her skirts.”

“Really? Who else is servicing the randy lady?”

“Billy Ray was until she saw Junior in the raw.”

Mike smiled and said,

“Yeah, that is an awe-inspiring sight. Really kills the idea that size doesn’t matter, doesn’t it.”

“I’m willing to accept that theory without verification, but it apparently does. At any rate, she dumped Billy Ray and took up with Junior. Can’t help but wonder just what in the hell Thornton was doing out at Bessie’s place when he outran you?”

“I’d have caught his ass, if it hadn’t been for that damn fence.”

Willard laughed out loud.

“By the way, we have the destruction of that very fence on video, if you’d like to study the film. Everybody on the task force has watched it multiple times.”

“No, I’d rather keep the version that’s in my head, but I’m glad y’all enjoyed it.”

“I’m having a hard time deciding if Billy Ray was up to something besides afternoon delight when he visited Bessie. Oh well, I guess we’ll never know now.”

“You asked if I thought Bessie was behind Billy Ray’s shooting, and the answer is, I don’t. You may be right about her having the money, but I can’t see the motive. She had already dumped Billy Ray, so she didn’t need him dead.”

Willard thought for a moment and then replied,

“Not unless she and Billy Ray were both involved in this cocaine business.”

“I don’t for a minute doubt that Thornton was involved up to his ears, but Bessie has more money than she can ever spend, and she’s way too smart to risk all of that for a piece of a drug deal. On the other hand, Billy Ray and his buddy Warren Lloyd may be a different story.”

Willard leaned back and put his cowboy boots on the edge of his desk and said,

“You know something about Lloyd you’re not telling me?”

“Maybe. I’ve heard that Lloyd is into the bookies big time, and Thornton’s been representing him to buy some time. Same source tells me that Billy Ray lost his betting privileges years ago.”

“Something to think about. Now I’m going to ask for your cooperation on something.”

“Sure, what can I do to help?”

“Nothing, back completely out of the investigation. I know you’ve told Stella about this, but I want you to read her out. If you see her before I do, tell her that she needs to distance herself from this; she’ll be inheriting the case from the MBI, so she needs to be uninvolved. In fact, encourage her to put her relationship with Bubba on hold till all of this is over. Will you do that?”

“I can, and I will, but I’ll still be working for Bessie Lloyd and protecting her interests. Will that be a problem?

“No, in fact, it may be a help. The task force may want her cooperation, and you can help convince her to play nice. Oh, and tell Bessie and Junior that I expect them to quit playing hide the weenie, or I’m going to make sure that Lucy Lee finds out.”

“Shit Willard, do I have to do that? Junior doesn’t think so well when it comes to the ladies.”

“Yeah, you do. I understand that when Junior pumps up his unit, he suffers from loss of blood to his brain, but this time I’m not kidding. Lucy Lee is a good gal, and Bessie can find another stud. You might want to apply for the position.”

“No way I’m gonna follow Junior; I’ve got enough rejection in my life without trying that. Bessie’ll have to fend for herself. Now, if we’re done, I need to meet some folks and deliver some news.”

“Yeah, I think that about covers it. Be sure to give Stella my message.”

As Mike walked across the back parking lot to his truck, he was thinking,

I feel better not withholding anything from Willard, and I told him all I know. But, I didn’t tell him all I think. I’m pretty sure I know who killed Billy Ray.

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