This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any actual resemblance to persons or historical persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

The Greatest American Hero and Dukes of Hazzard characters, settings, ect. are owned by other entities who have not endorsed this fic nor have they given permission for their use. Author makes no claims to these characters and is not making any profit off their use.


© Copyright: ­2015. Lisa Philbrick

The Greatest American Hero/The Dukes of Hazzard
Southern Cross Series:
 

THE INGENUE 

By: Lisa Philbrick

Along a darkened and deserted Peachtree Street in Atlanta, a Cadillac Seville sedan rolled along sedately. It was well after 1am, the digital clock on the dashboard revealed in greenish blue silence.

Jacy Thomas had never ridden in a Cadillac. The 21 year old Tennessee native had dreams of spotlights and stardom and Hollywood glitz and naturally, fancy expensive cars like Cadillacs went with that. But she had never ridden in one until tonight.

But she didn’t get to enjoy it.

Jacy Thomas was dead.

As such, there was no admiring the immaculate mahogany wood finish of the dash, the leather seats or the smooth and quiet ride. These things were difficult to appreciate when one was wrapped in a blanket and stuffed in the trunk.

The sedan continued on into downtown Atlanta, passing darkened office buildings, restaurants closed for the night and even a lone Atlanta police cruiser and causing hardly a stir.  The car turned off of Peachtree near an aging apartment building complex with graffiti along the stone wall that fronted the road and crept carefully down a narrow access road to the side of the building.  At the backside of the apartment building was a dead end alley with a dumpster and it was here that Jacy Thomas’s first and last ride in a Cadillac came to an unceremonious end. She was removed from the trunk, still bundled in the blanket and left next to a pile of trash and cardboard boxes by the dumpster. Her chauffer, as it were, only paused for a moment before returning to the car. The Cadillac backed out of the alley and disappeared into the night…

**** **** ****

Detective Matt Franklin of the Atlanta Police department squinted his blue eyes from the glare of the morning sun. On the narrow access road near the Blazewood Apartments, he stepped from his black Buick Grand National and walked around the maze of police cruisers and a medical examiners’ wagon that crowded the access road. The call was for a body in an alley. Hell of a way to start a Saturday.

The sandy haired plain clothes vice detective nodded to the patrolman keeping watch at the end of the alley at the back of the apartment building. A garbage truck was parked just up the way on the access road and two City of Atlanta sanitation workers were talking to police officers. Matt walked the length of the alley to the end where two cops were standing near a body on the ground covered with a light green blanket. He paused and looked as the sergeant came over to him.

“Hey Sully,” Matt said.

“Hi Matt. Figured to call you in since Lieutenant Morrison’s on leave. I’m not all sure this one’s a working girl though.”

Matt nodded. Lieutenant Jack Morrison, head of Atlanta’s vice squad, was on a leave of absence which left Matt as sort of a defacto second-in-command. Any time a girl, or even a boy, was found dead in the city and was known or even thought to be a prostitute, Morrison always was alerted. The lieutenant’s mode of operation for his vice squad sometimes bordered on a crusade not so much to bust people in the rackets but to try to get people out of the rackets. Although the lieutenant knew he couldn’t save everybody, when one turned up dead that was the way out he didn’t like to see.

Matt had been working directly with Lieutenant Morrison for less than a year but had long respected him and had vowed to help continue to keep the vice squad operating in the same manner while the lieutenant was out. He appreciated that the beat officers recognized this.

He stepped toward the body and crouched down to pull the blanket back to look. He wrinkled his nose briefly. The young girl had been an attractive dark haired beauty. She wore a strapless burgundy cocktail dress. A diamond choker necklace graced her neck and she had one matching diamond tear drop earring in her ear. The other was missing.

“Do we know who she is?” Matt asked, before laying the blanket respectfully back over the girl.

“No,” Sully answered. “No ID on her. No purse. We didn’t find anything around here either.” The sergeant gestured to the area of the dumpster.

Matt stood up and glanced at the dumpster. “I saw the dump truck back there. They find her?”

“Yeah.”

Matt turned back to Sully. “Any idea how long she’s been here?”

“Doc seems to think not for long. Twelve hours or less.”

“Really?” Matt looked at the body and then up to the apartment building. “I don’t suppose anybody saw anything?”

“Got a couple of the boys asking residents now.

Matt nodded. “What makes you think she’s not a working girl?”

“The dress is too nice. She doesn’t have any holes in her arms either. She’s clean, all things considered. Plus, I’m willing to bet them shiny beads around her neck ain’t glass.”

Matt nodded. “My thoughts too.” The doctor from the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office approached them.

“Mornin’, Matt,” the doctor said. “Not your usual gig here.”

Matt gave a half smile. “No. What do you make of all this?”

“Well, unofficially, she suffered blunt force trauma to the head. Also, unofficially, she more than likely wasn’t killed here. We’ll figure out more once we do the autopsy and everything. We’ll try to see if we can ID her too.”

Matt nodded. “Thanks Doc. Let me know what you find out.”

“Will do.”

Matt turned to Sully. “Keep me posted.”

 

**** **** ****

Who…

Matt sat at his desk in the squad room of the Atlanta PD Monday afternoon scribbling notes on a pad for the Jane Doe found in the alley. Under “who” he had no name. Her finger prints didn’t register within the Atlanta police records and the FBI didn’t have a record of her either. Nobody at the apartment building saw or heard anything within the 12 hours of when she likely died and when she was discovered. All tenants of the complex were accounted for and no one recognized her by description either.

What…

She was a young woman in an expensive party dress and expensive jewelry who had been discovered dead in the back alley of a mid-rent apartment building. Her death seemed not to be an accident.

Where…

Matt wrote down the address of the apartment complex but also made note that place of death was unknown as the medical report concluded that “Jane Doe” was not killed in the alley.

How…

Blunt force trauma to the head. The autopsy report was more specific as the scope and area which it occurred which sometimes was more detail than Matt really wanted to read about prior to dinner.

Why?

Indeed. Why? Her lack of a purse suggested either robbery or the purse was left elsewhere when she was killed. Matt pretty much ruled out robbery since the diamond choker necklace she wore had to be worth well over a thousand dollars. If it were robbery, only a total moron would’ve left that behind.

Sergeant Sully’s assumption that she might not have been a working girl and was “clean” wasn’t completely correct; the autopsy report revealed that there was some drugs and alcohol in her system. The drug of choice, unfortunately, was cocaine.

This called to question if she might have been a prostitute, and a high class one at that. Did she hold out on a pimp and found out the price for that was more than she could bear? Did a john, possibly crazed on cocaine take things too far?

It was these questions that kept the case file on Matt’s desk for the time being. Although her fingerprints didn’t come up in the Atlanta PD’s database, nor the FBI, only meant that the young woman hadn’t come into the justice system for any reason. And given her approximate age, early 20s, Matt feared she might have been a new girl to the racket.

 

*** **** ***

 

Movie madness was running rampant in northern Georgia, near Hazzard County. A big budget Civil War epic was being filmed that required hundreds of extras to portray townsfolk and both Union and Confederate soldiers in big battle scenes. The town of Denton, just west of Hazzard, was a deserted mining town, last having a resident there some fifty years ago. When the movie production crew came in, the dilapidated buildings and overgrown brush and weeds had been transformed into a 19th century small town, with a bank, a saloon, a hotel, a livery stable, shops, homes and above all, people. Horses and buckboard wagons were scattered along the dirt main street along with modern day trucks and vehicles, lighting and sound equipment, cameras and trolley tracks.

Since Hazzard was the closest real town, the influx of movie workers, actors, extras and everybody else meant a booming trade for Hazzard businesses. In the four weeks since filming began, the Boar’s Nest was packed nearly every night, where Daisy Duke earned a ton of extra tip money in addition to the few extra bucks she earned as an extra in the movie. Along with Daisy, her cousins Bo and Luke were also extras in the movie playing Confederate soldiers along with town mechanic Cooter Davenport. And MaryAnne Coltrane, also working as an extra in the movie, found her pockets full of extra tip money the nights she worked at the Boar’s Nest.

Boss Hogg couldn’t have been happier with the flow of commerce through Hazzard.

Taking part in a movie wasn’t new for the Dukes. The last time Hollywood came close to the area was when Brock Curtis was filming a movie nearby and the Dukes ended up being in the picture with their car, the General Lee. The film unfortunately was never finished and the Dukes brush with Hollywood stardom passed.

This time around, they were merely faces in a crowd. But they were just excited about being in the movie as they were with the Brock Curtis film. The best part was they weren’t caught up in any mystery or intrigue this time.

At least, they thought they wouldn’t be. As dawn broke over Hazzard on Tuesday morning, hundreds of extras dressed in Union and Confederate uniforms mulled around a field waiting to take their places for a segment of a battle scene. Bo, Luke and Cooter stood together near the mobile commissary, each of them with their Confederate long coats pulled tight against the morning chill and a steaming cup of coffee in hand.

“I tell you one thing,” Cooter said, “I ain’t too crazy about these early morning shoots. I don’t mind gettin’ up a little extra early but this standin’ around n’ waitin’ is gettin’ a mite old.”

Luke nodded. “It’s almost like bein’ a real soldier,” he said. “A lot of time we spent waitin’ too. Spoilin’ for the fight you knew was coming.”

“The only difference here,” Bo said, “is when it’s all over, we all get up off the field and go home.”

“True,” Cooter said. “But that’s what bugs me y’all with standin’ around. I’m ready to run into that field and charge them Yanks right now, ya know?”

The Dukes smiled. “Cooter,” Luke said, “you’d’ve made a hell of a rebel soldier.”

“Amen!”

Michael Blake, a young man in his early 20s who had become friendly with the Dukes and Cooter, wandered up to the three men. “Hey fellas,” he said.

“Howdy, Mike. Good morning,” the Dukes and Cooter greeted him.

“Well, I ain’t so sure if it’s good or not,” he said.

“What’s wrong?” Bo asked.

“I think I’m going to need to talk to your local police department after we wrap up this morning. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where Jacy is.”

“What happened?” Luke asked.

“Well, I know she went to Mr. Fehr’s party in Atlanta on Friday, and I talked with some other people who were there and they said they saw her. But I didn’t see her back here over the weekend and I didn’t see her yesterday when they were filming stuff over in Denton.”

“Didn’t you and Jacy split up a few days ago?” Bo asked.

“Yeah, last weekend,” Mike said sadly. “I know she’d rather not see me but working on a movie like this it’s still a small world, you’re still going to see one another. It’s just weird that I haven’t seen her around since Friday. I guess I’m worried about her.”

“You don’t think she went back home to Tennessee?” Luke asked.

“No. At least, I spoke to her mom yesterday and she hadn’t heard from Jacy about going back home or anything. She’s worried too, of course.”

Luke nodded. “Sure. Me n’ Bo can drive ya into Hazzard later, you can talk to the Sheriff.”

“Great. Thanks, fellas. I really appreciate it.”

*** *** ***

At the courthouse, MaryAnne sat at the booking desk going over reports and stifling a yawn. The late night shifts at the Boar’s Nest, combined with her continued duties as a deputy sheriff, plus taking part in the filming seemed to be catching up with her. But she didn’t complain. She was glad for the extra tip money. It would only be for a few weeks anyway.

Next to her, the phone rang.

“Hazzard County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy MaryAnne Coltrane speakin’.”

“Hello, gorgeous.”

MaryAnne grinned recognizing FBI Agent Bill Maxwell’s voice. “Hi, Bill. Are you still in Atlanta?”

Bill chuckled. This had become something of a private joke between them now. “Yeah, I’m still in Atlanta.”

“I was beginning to wonder. Hadn’t heard from ya for a couple of weeks.”

“Yeah, I got busy with some cases here so I haven’t had a chance to call. Listen, how about lunch at the Varisty this week?”

“Aw, I can’t this week. Got a big movie production that’s taken over the county up here. Boss has me n’ Daisy and a couple of other girls working extra hours at the Boar’s Nest because he’s keeping the place open later and I’m working as an extra in the movie!”

Bill was disappointed she couldn’t come to Atlanta but he grinned at her excitement about being in a movie. “You are?”

“Yeah! Daisy too. And Bo n’ Luke and Cooter and the whole dang town just about. It’s movie madness here in Hazzard, Bill. It’s nuts.” MaryAnne paused. “Is this what it was like in California for you?”

Bill chuckled. “Well you get used to the hub bub after a while you don’t really notice. But you’re in a movie! How about that? What kind movie is it?”

“Civil War epic.”

“Wait, don’t tell me. You’re playing a rebel soldier.”

MaryAnne laughed. “No, I’m just one of the townsfolk in the background type part. I don’t have any speaking lines.”

“Ah well. So I don’t get to see you for lunch this week as you chase your Hollywood dream.”

“I’m sorry,” MaryAnne said, sincerely. Bill had been in Atlanta almost three months and they had done lunch at the Varsity together a couple of times already. MaryAnne had enjoyed it and had been looking forward to the next one and truly was sorry that she wouldn’t be able to get there. It had been a couple of weeks since they’d last done lunch and she realized, oddly, that she missed him. “Next week might be shot too, I hate to say it.”

“Well, maybe I’ll just have to come up there to see you. What’s the production schedule run? Is it seven days?”

MaryAnne brightened. “Yeah. There’s some town scenes to be filmed this weekend that I’ll be in.”

“Well, I’ll just have to come up this weekend and watch you.”

MaryAnne smiled. “Sure.”

“Ok then.” Bill was already looking forward to the weekend and it was only Tuesday. “Break a leg, gorgeous. I’ll see you this weekend.”

“Awright, take care,” MaryAnne said. “Bye…” She was still smiling as she hung up the phone.

*** *** ***

Just before noon, Deputy Enos Strate came in to relieve MaryAnne from desk duty and let her go to do a short patrol and then head to the Boar’s Nest for another raucous evening. As MaryAnne headed down the front steps of the courthouse, the Dukes pulled up behind her patrol car in the General Lee. The two cousins climbed out of the windows, still dressed in their Confederate uniforms and Luke stopped to help a third Confederate out of the back of the Charger.

MaryAnne paused to watch and couldn’t help but grin at the sight of the Dukes in Confederate garb climbing out of a car named in honor of the Confederate General with the rebel battle flag emblazoned on the roof. Was it really any surprise the movie company had chosen Hazzard County to film a Civil War film?

“Hey, MaryAnne,” Bo said with a smile.

“Howdy,” she greeted back. “What’s up?”

“Is Rosco around?” Luke asked.

“He’s over in Conyers this morning, won’t be back ‘til late this afternoon. What’s going on?”

“Well, Mike here needs to file a missing persons report.”

“Oh?” MaryAnne didn’t know the young man, but looked at him with empathy. “Somebody in the movie production?”

Mike nodded. “Yeah, a friend of mine.”

MaryAnne nodded. “I’m sorry. Enos is inside, he can do the report.”

“Thanks, MaryAnne,” Luke said.

“No problem. I hope nothing’s happened to your friend,” she said to Mike.

“I hope so too,” Mike said. “Thanks.”

The boys headed into the courthouse as MaryAnne headed for her patrol car.

Inside, the Dukes and Mike walked through the double doors of the booking room and found Enos seated at the booking desk near the holding cell. The deputy smiled seeing them all in their uniforms. “Hey fellas!”

“Hey, Enos,” Luke said. “This is Michael Blake. Unfortunately, he’s got some police business for ya.”

“Sure, Luke. What can I help you with Mr. Blake?”

“I need to report a missing person.”

“A missing person? Ok. You sure they’re missing?”

“Well I ain’t seen her since Friday and I’m worried.”

“Awright..” Enos stood up and went to the back filing cabinet to get the proper form. “I can help ya fill out the form. Is this girl a local girl?”

“No, she’s part of the movie production. She and I came down from Tennessee to work as extras.”

“Ok.” Enos sat down at the desk and slid the form into the typewriter.

The Dukes grinned. “Better pull up a chair, Mike, and make yourself comfortable. Enos only types about five words a minute.”

Mike smiled. “Thanks again for your help, fellas, I appreciate it.”

“Sure thing,” Bo said. “Listen, me ‘n Luke gotta do some errands for Uncle Jesse but when you’re all done here, Enos can call us on the CB and we’ll swing back through and pick you up, take you back to Denton.”

“Great, thanks.”

“Will do, Bo,” Enos said.

“Awright, we’ll see ya later!” Luke said and the boys headed out of the booking room.

Enos adjusted the form in the typewriter as Mike pulled up a chair to the desk and sat down.

“Ok,” Enos said. “What’s her name?”

“Jacy,” Mike said. “Jacy Thomas…”

*** *** ***

Later that evening, the Boar’s Nest was packed with locals and movie people alike. The jukebox blared country music a little louder than usual, the bar was packed with people, there wasn’t an empty table in the place and Daisy and MaryAnne were racking up more tip money in one night then they normally made in a week.

Boss Hogg was so happy with the crowds as of late, he jacked up the price of the beer from fifty cents to a buck fifty. Writing the one on the sign was cheaper than getting new signs printed up. When the girls would tell him the beer supply was running low, he just had them water it down more. Few complained about the beer, even less actually drank it. There was enough commotion as it was to go around.

Bo and Luke sat at a table with Cooter and Mike Blake.

“Sorry to hear about your friend,” Cooter said. “I hope she’s okay.”

“Me too,” Mike replied. “I feel kind of helpless at this point, ya know?”

“You said Enos told you he was going to check Jacy’s motel room?” Bo asked. “Did he say if he found anything?”

Mike shook his head. “No, he said it was clean as a pin. All her clothes were still there, her luggage. He has it sealed off for now. I guess he’s forwarding the report to the FBI in Atlanta.”

The boys nodded. “We’re really sorry, Mike,” Luke said.

Mike nodded. “I knew coming to do this movie was a bad idea.” He looked up at the Dukes and Cooter. “Not anything to do with you folks, shoot, Hazzard’s been great to everybody and for putting up with all the nonsense. But I just knew….personally it was a bad idea…”

At that moment, MaryAnne swung around the table with a tray full of beers. “Hey fellas, I’ll be right with ya!”

She never broke stride and continued on two tables away, laying beers down in front of three men, all non-locals who were part of the movie. The three men all watched her, one in particular eyeing her up and down and setting his gaze on her chest, disappointed her bust was hidden behind a modest button blouse.

MaryAnne tried to ignore the man’s looks. His name was Joey and he’d been frequenting the Boar’s Nest fairly regularly since the movie came to town and had been paying much too much attention to MaryAnne since. His table mates, Nick and Andy, weren’t so bad, but Joey made MaryAnne outright uncomfortable. A friendly tease was one thing, but Joey was neither friendly, nor teasing.

MaryAnne never lingered more than she had to at their table and remained as polite as she could. This time was no different. She set the last of the three beers down in front of Andy and gave a polite smile to him and Nick.

“Enjoy,” she said. As soon as the word left her mouth, she regretted it when she heard Joey chuckle. She managed one step away from the table when Joey who put a hand on her arm to stop her.

“Hey,” he said, “how come you don’t dress like the other waitress there?” Joey cast a glance to Daisy’s direction. Although MaryAnne and Daisy both wore the required short-shorts, Daisy wore a halter top that accentuated her top figure, while MaryAnne opted for a slightly more conservative yet feminine cut blouse that did not show as much.

“We’re not the Bobsy Twins,” MaryAnne retorted.

“Too bad,” he said. “I’d like to see you in one of those tops. Maybe some time me and you could do a little clothes shopping---”

“Oh go to hell.” MaryAnne spun away before Joey could grab her arm in a tighter grip. She marched away from the table and walked to the friendlier faces of the Dukes and Cooter.

She managed a smile for them. “Howdy. What can get y’all?”

“The usual,” Luke said, “only, can we maybe get some with a little less water in it?”

MaryAnne chuckled. “I’ll see what I can do.”

Cooter was watching Joey and his buddies at the other table who were still eyeing MaryAnne. “That dude giving you a hard time, MaryAnne?” he asked.

“He bugs me every night he’s in here. One of these nights, I’m not gonna be able to help myself and I’m gonna shove a beer mug up his nose.”

The boys chuckled. “With beer still in it, I’m sure,” Luke said.

“Heck, I’ll frost the mug the first,” MaryAnne said with a grin. “Anything else? Alex is killing himself in the kitchen cooking up the ribs, they’re pretty good. I suggest you have some.”

“Sounds good to me,” Cooter said with everyone else echoing the sentiment.

“Awright then! Ribs, fries and beer comin’ up!”

“Hey, MaryAnne?” Bo spoke and grinned at her. “Can I have mine in a frosted mug?”

MaryAnne laughed. “Sure, Bo. Up your nose will cost you extra!” She left the table and disappeared in the crowd on her way to the kitchen.

Daisy followed in a few moments later with orders.

“Did I see Joey turning on the charm again?” she asked.

“Yeah. He doesn’t like my outfit,” MaryAnne said. “Wants to take me clothes shopping. Honestly, Daisy, what is it? Why do I attract the guys with the slimy bit of tobacco in their teeth?”

“Oh now sugar, not all the guys you attract have the slimy bit of tobacco in their teeth,” Daisy said. “I can think of one whose teeth are much too nice for that…”

*** *** ***

The Wednesday morning staff meeting at the Atlanta bureau of the FBI was underway and was an organized and efficient contrast to the rowdiness and chaos of the Boar’s Nest in Hazzard. Commander Frank Mayson reviewed ongoing cases and received updates from the agents in charge of those cases.

Then came new business.

“We have a missing persons report out of Hazzard County, Georgia…”

Agent Bill Maxwell looked up from his notes straight at the Commander who was looking directly at him. Mayson then turned his attention to the rest of the room. “Young woman named Jacy Thomas, 21-years-old from Memphis, Tennessee. She’s an extra in a movie production that’s been going on up that way and was last seen here in Atlanta on Friday. Her boyfriend, Michael Blake, made the report to the Hazzard County Sheriff. Maxwell, I’m giving this one to you, I’m thinking your background in Los Angeles will be helpful on this one. See me afterwards, I’ll give you all the details.”

“Yes, sir.”

“And that’s it for now. Does anybody have any questions?”

There were no questions.

“Very well then. Dismissed.”

Agents gathered up their notes and materials and began disbursing from the room. Maxwell hung back and approached Commander Mayson at the front of the conference room.

Mayson looked at Maxwell and grinned. “Hazzard County, Bill. Getting to be your home away from home lately.”

“It would seem that Hazzard has my number.”

Mayson handed the folder to Bill. “I’m truly counting on your LA background for this since it involves a movie production. The file’s pretty thin as it is. Deputy Strate did check the girl’s motel room up north, didn’t find anything unusual but asked the motel manager to keep the room sealed for now. It’s hard to tell at this point if she just took off or if something’s happened to her.”

Bill nodded, skimming the file. “Has anybody talked to her parents?”

“I’m afraid that’s probably going to be your job and you’re going to have to find out who they are. Her boyfriend made the report and according to him, Jacy is somewhat estranged from her parents so he didn’t have any contact information or names.”

Bill nodded grimly. “Ok. Where is he, up north?”

“Yeah, he’s staying in the same motel as Jacy was. The address is in the file.”

“Ok. Guess I’ll be going to Hazzard.” He grinned.

When Bill returned to his desk, he picked up the phone and dialed an extension.

“Donna? Maxwell. Listen, have there been any requests for finger print checks for unidentified bodies found in the last three or four days?”

“I’ve had several. Any particular location?”

“Georgia mostly. I guess Tennessee too.”

“Hold on, let me get the file…” It was a few moments before Donna returned on the line. “Let’s see I’ve got two from Nashville, one from Fayette, one from Atlanta, one from Macon…”

“What’s the one in Atlanta?”

“Female. Unidentified. Request came through on Monday.”

“Any returns?”

“Nothing. No matches in the database.”

“Who’s the contact officer?”

“Detective Matt Franklin, Atlanta police. You want his number?”

“Please.”

Donna rattled off the number and Bill noted it on his notepad.

“Can I get a copy of the request?” he asked.

“Sure, I’ll get it up to you later today.”

“Thanks, Donna.”

As he hung up, Bill hoped he was wrong.

Before Bill could ponder the Jane Doe in Atlanta any further, he had more details he had to secure first, the most important of which was a decent photograph of Jacy Thomas. The faxed copy sent from Hazzard was nearly indistinguishable. It was a woman, but the details of the face were lost in the black and white fax image.

Bill figured the two best sources were the boyfriend, Michael Blake, and Jacy’s parents. Unfortunately, he didn’t know who they were and it would take some time to find that out. Then having to tell them their daughter was missing was going to be bad enough.

For now, his best source of information was the boyfriend and, perhaps, Jacy’s motel room near Hazzard.

He smiled to himself. Guess it was going to be sooner than the weekend that he’d be there.

*** *** ***

“She wasn’t here much,” the motel manager said to Bill as they walked across the parking lot to Jacy’s room Wednesday afternoon. “None of ‘em really are, what with the movie production and all. They put in a lot of hours.”

“When did you last see her?” Bill asked.

“Oh, sometime last week I figure. Thursday or Friday maybe? She was with a group of girls, they were all piling into a car.”

They arrived at the motel room and the manager unlocked the door for Bill. “Do you need me to stay here with ya?” he asked.

“Nope. If you want to leave me the key, I’ll lock it up when I’m done and get it back to you.”

“Awright.” The manager handed the key over. “Um….I did wanna ask ya a question tho’.”

“Sure.”

“Well, I don’t mean to be insensitive an’ all but…is the room gonna have to stay like it is? I mean, I can’t rent it out to anybody?”

“Well, for the time being, yes it has to stay like it is. However, unless I figure a crime has taken place here, we should be able to clear the room out and the FBI will take custody of Jacy’s things. Then you’ll be able to rent the room.”

“Oh, ok. I only ask ‘cuz I’ve had to turn folks away. We’ve been booked solid and I’m very glad for that, but I was jus’ y’know, wonderin’…”

“Yeah, I know,” Bill said. “It’s like having a restaurant, you gotta keep turing over the tables.”

“Yeah,” the manager said, seeming relieved. “When you’re all done you just come see me back at the office.”

“I will. Thank you, sir.”

With the manager gone, Bill shut the motel room door. He dropped the key into the pocket of his suit jacket and paused to look around the room. It was a basic motel layout, with a bed, a night stand, a writing desk and a small television. It was clear the room was occupied as Jacy had clothes hanging up in the little closet in the corner and three suitcases situated on the floor between the bed and the front window. Since the suitcases were closest to him, Bill started there.

More clothes. Bill searched through the suitcases, checked the accessory pockets and other compartments. He found extra combs, hair accessories, various personal items and extra toiletries.

At the bottom of one of the suitcases he found a necklace case, covered in black velvet. He pried it open, only to find it empty. There was a little card inside that read To Jacy, With Love, Michael. The inside of the lid had the jewelers name embossed in gold lettering on a white satin covering. G. Howard & Sons Jewelers, Atlanta, GA.

Bill returned the box to the bottom of the suitcase. He stood up and went to the writing desk next. A black portfolio was next to some pens and notebooks and other folders. Bill opened the portfolio.

An eight by ten black and white glossy photograph of a young, dark haired, very pretty girl looked back him. Bill picked up the photo, turning it over.

Taped to the back was typewritten resume of sorts. Jacy’s name and address was at the top, along with her age, height and current measurements. Below that was a listing of stage plays and theatre productions Jacy had been in, the titles and what roles she played. She was currently a student in the drama department at the University of Tennessee and had worked as an extra in two previous films.

Bill didn’t have to worry about finding a photograph now. He put the photo aside and flipped through the others in the portfolio. There were duplicates of the black and white photo along with additional photos, some in color.

Bill closed the portfolio and poked through the other items on the desk. Notes about how to get to Denton, Hazzard, Atlanta, along with a map of Georgia were in the folders. Papers regarding the movie, her copies of signed agreements and waivers for being an extra were included. Contact names for the movie, instructions on where to meet on various shooting days and notices regarding costume fittings were also in the folder.

Bill took his notebook from his suit pocket and black flair pen and wrote down the contact names. He also noted the addresses for filming locations and the address in Atlanta.

He went back to the signed agreement and waivers, reading through the information. Most of it was legalese and wasn’t what he was looking for. He was hoping to find something for a “in case of emergency contact” section. Unfortunately, he didn’t find one.

The television sat on a three drawer dresser. Bill checked the drawers, finding a few more clothes and undergarments and a small jewelry box. He pried the lid open to find just a smattering of sterling silver rings, assorted earrings, a few necklaces and a couple of bracelets. Most of it appeared to be cheapie department store type jewelry.

The rest of the motel room yielded just one additional item. Bill checked the waste basket next to the writing desk. He found a photograph torn in half. He put the two pieces together and saw Jacy mugging it with her arm around the shoulder of a handsome young man.

Bill wondered if that was the boyfriend. Or, given that the photo was torn, an ex-boyfriend.

Bill put the torn photo with the glamour shot of Jacy. Then he thought of the necklace case again with the card that said To Jacy, Love Michael. The boyfriend’s name that had filed the report was Michael. Bill went back to the suitcase and dug it out.

He carried it back to the dresser, pulling the small jewelry box out again. He removed the necklaces in the box and attempted to lay them on the white velvet display board of the necklace case…but none of them fit right. The necklaces he had were all too long. The fancy box was designed to display a shorter length, perhaps a choker style necklace.

Bill wondered where the necklace was and, given the fancy box, if it was an expensive piece compared to the costume jewelry Jacy had otherwise.

Bill finished his check of the motel room and determined that there was no evidence to suggest that any crime had taken place in the room.  He went out to his car, parked just outside the room, to grab evidence tags and envelopes.

He looked at the car that he was parked next to, a mid-70s Buick Century with Tennessee plates. He wondered if it was Jacy’s. Curious, he tried the door and found it unlocked.

He sat in the car and reached across to the glove box, popping it open. He found the title and registration…for Jacy Thomas.

He remembered the motel manager saying he had last seen Jacy getting into a car with a bunch of other girls. Once he finished tagging things in Jacy’s room, he would ask the manager about that again.

It didn’t take very long for Bill to collect up everything in the motel room. He utilized Jacy’s suitcase to pack up her clothes and belongings and he placed the various papers and documents in an evidence envelope. Once the suit cases were full, he tagged them and loaded them into his car to take back to Atlanta. He would have to make arrangements for the car to be brought down too.

Bill walked back to the motel’s office to leave the key. “All set,” he said to the manager. “I’ve removed everything from the room. You can go ahead and rent it out again.”

The manager nodded. “Thank ya.”

“Sure. You said you last saw Jacy getting into a car with a bunch of other girls? When was that?”

“Last week sometime, I guess. Thursday or Friday.”

“Could you be a little more specific?”

The manager thought for a moment. “Friday,” he said. “Yeah, it was Friday because I heard a bunch of them talking about some party in Atlanta they were all going to and this place was pretty empty Friday night.”

Bill nodded. “Can you describe the car?”

“Oh it was a newer one. Flashy thing….”

“What color?”

“Red. With a black hood.”

“Sports car?”

“Yeah. Ain’t something ya see around here very often.

“Any idea of the make or model?”

“I dunno. It looked foreign to me. It wasn’t very big but there was four of them that got in it though, I dunno how they did. The front end had a sloped nose to it, kinda sleek looking. The headlights have that pocket joint look, y’know where they look like they were dug into the car?”

Bill nodded. “Sure. Have you seen the car since?”

“Oh yeah, see it all the time. I dunno if it’s here now, I think they’re all out working on the movie. But yep, it’s been here.”

“Ok then. Listen, Jacy’s car is parked in front of the room. I’ll make arrangements to have it towed down to Atlanta, but it may take me a couple of days so if you don’t mind if it sits there.”

“No problem.”

“Thanks. And thanks for your help. You’ll probably see me poking around here off and on over the next few days as I talk to people.”

The manager nodded.

Bill left the office and walked across the parking lot toward Michael Blake’s motel room. He looked around at the few cars that were parked in the lot, and didn’t see a red sports car with a black hood.

He arrived at Michael Blakes motel room and knocked on the door. After a moment, the young man answered.

“Yes?”

Bill removed his aviators and recognized the young man from Jacy’s torn photo. “Michael Blake?”

“That’s me.”

Bill tucked his aviators away and pulled his FBI badge out, showing it. “Bill Maxwell, FBI. You filed a missing persons report on a Jacy Thomas?”

Mike nodded. “I did.”

“I’d like to ask you a few questions.”

“Sure...” Mike stepped back to allow Bill inside.

Bill tucked his badge back into his suit jacket and stepped inside. Mike closed the door.

“I’d offer you a chair,” Mike said, “but uh…” He gestured toward the one chair in the room, currently occupied by a suitcase.

“No problem,” Bill said. He sat down on the end of the bed and took out his black flair pen and small notepad. “I’ll try not to take up too much of your time here, Mr. Blake, I’m just looking for some additional information, however, it’s the kind of details not normally included in the report.”

“Sure. And you can call me Mike.”

Bill nodded. “Ok, Mike. Also, some of these questions can be a might personal and I apologize in advance. But I’ve got a missing person to find so I have to ask all the dirty nasty questions that go with it.”

Mike nodded. “If it helps to find Jacy, ask away.”

“You’re listed on the report as being her boyfriend. Is that correct?”

“Yeah. Well… we broke up over a week ago, if you want to be technical.”

Bill made a note on his notepad and nodded. “What lead to the break up?”

Mike sighed. “She wanted to chase a Hollywood dream and apparently I hinder that.”

“So she broke up with you?”

Mike nodded. “I think some of the other people on this production have filled her head with nonsense. And I told her that but… lot of good it did me.”

“You must have been pretty mad when she dumped you.”

“Yeah, I was hurt. I cared for her very much. I still do. I doubt anybody else on this lousy movie would have noticed she was gone and made a report.”

“How long have you known each other?”

“Three years. We met as freshmen at college.”

“Where?”

“University of Tennessee.”

Bill nodded, taking notes. “Did you go the party in Atlanta?”

“I didn’t, no.”

“Why not?”

“Not really my kind of party. I went to the first one but…there was some extra party favors going around if you get my drift.”

Bill looked up.

Mike nodded, figuring the Fed knew what he was talking about. “Yeah.”

“What kind of…favors?”

Mike took a breath, seeming a bit uncomfortable sharing this information. “Well, um…cocaine mostly…”

Bill showed no surprise at hearing this as he made the note. “Was Jacy using cocaine?”

“I think she had started to…”

“Before or after you two broke up?”

“Before.”

“Who hooked her?”

Mike shook his head. “I dunno. Somebody in the group of people filling her head with nonsense I suspect.”

“Who are they?”

“Well, the producer, Michael Fehr, he’s probably the worst. He’s a sweet talker. Told Jacy he could help her with a film career after this picture. Promised her all kinds of things…” Mike sighed. “I tried to make her realize it was no good but…he had her convinced.”

“How convinced?”

“She dumped me didn’t she?”

“Was he romancing her?”

“Probably. She stayed in Atlanta the weekend of the first party. I figured she stayed in Atlanta this past weekend too. And there’d be times when he would come up here during filming and I would see them together, talking and…stuff.”

“Stuff?”

“You know…lovey dovey.”

Bill nodded scratching a note. He paused, rolling his pen between his fingers and then looked up at Mike. “Where do you think she is?”

“Agent Maxwell, if I knew that you and I wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

“Do you think she’s in trouble?”

“Yes.” The answer was sincere and Mike gave a heavy sigh. “I’m very much afraid that she’s in trouble.”

**** **** ****                      

Before leaving Hazzard to return back to Atlanta, Bill stopped at the courthouse in town figuring to surprise MaryAnne. When he pushed open the double doors of the booking room, however, he found it was empty.

At least, he thought it was empty. He turned to exit and was almost back to the doors when he heard a male voice with a southern drawl speak.

“Can I help ya?”

Bill turned back around and saw it was Rosco. The Sheriff didn’t look particularly thrilled to see him.

“Oh,” Rosco said. “It’s you. What are you doin’ in Hazzard?”

“Howdy, Sheriff,” Bill said with a smile. “Nice to see ya. How ya been?”

“Been fine. Even better so long as yer not ‘round here bringin’ trouble.”

“Now before you run me out of town, I happen to be here on official Federal business.”

“You were last time too.”

“Your office filed a missing persons report to the FBI a couple days ago. I’m working the case. You’re going to see me around here for a bit I’m afraid.”

“Not as afraid as I am.”

“Aw c’mon, Sheriff, my typical case work is hardly as exciting as the Chattanooga thing was a couple of months ago. Really! I’m just a middle level, mediocre Fed. ”

Not according the sources Rosco had, but he didn’t let on with that. He just looked at Maxwell skeptically. “Well, it was Enos that filed that report. He ain’t here right now, he’s out on patrol.”

“Yeah, I see you’re a little thinly staffed…” Bill looked around the otherwise empty booking room. “And MaryAnne—“

“Ain’t here either,” Rosco cut in.

“Right. I can see that too.”

“Then I guess you got no other reason to be here right now.”

There was no mistaking the Sheriff’s hostility. “Uh, yeah,” Bill said. “Guess I don’t.” Hostility was usually a required trait among Sheriffs, Southern sheriffs in particular who took their jurisdiction over their respective county seriously. Last thing they liked to see was some Federal claim jumper coming in, taking a case, making the bust and getting the glory. But the Jacy Thomas case wasn’t taken from the county authorities, it was handed to the FBI due to the multi-state involvement.

But Bill didn’t think Rosco’s hostility stemmed from the case. It seemed to be something else. Something more personal.

“Well, awright, Sheriff. Nice to talk to you again…” Bill turned and started for the doors. “Be seeing ya. Oh…” Bill stopped at the doors and looked back at Rosco. “Say hello to MaryAnne for me.”

When the Sheriff didn’t respond, Bill figured he had his answer. He pushed the swinging door open and left the booking room.

Chapter 2