Book Updates!!!

First, thanks to those that purchased Rimworld- Into the Green, and thanks for the reveiws.  One reviewer pointed out there is a discrepancy with some formatting of text colors, and I’ve fixed that. It appears a random switch from black to dark grey occurred on some pages, somewhere in the process of uploading the book, and converting it from paperback to Kindle.

My apologies to all those who’ve dealt with this. The corrected copy should be up tomorrow.

On The Grey Man #5, I continue to make progress, and another tease for you… As usual, stream of consciousness, unedited…

Grinding Through

Jesse huffed, blew a stray strand of hair away from her face, and picked up the next batch of papers El Paso PD had forwarded from Deen’s apartment. Bank statement, bank statement, water bill, electric, internet… Oh, wait. Phone bill. She deposited the bank statements and other bills in one of the piles on the conference table, picked up her coffee cup and headed back to the kitchen. Taking the last cup, she grumbled, “He who takes the last cup, makes the new pot. Why, do I always seem to get the last cup?” Digging around in the cabinet, she found a can of Folgers and filters, setting them on the counter, she dumped the old grounds in the trash, put the new filter full of coffee in the brewer, and hit the brew button.

She checked her watch, groaned, and steeled herself to go back to the paperwork battle. When she walked back into the conference room, Matt was sitting on the other side of the table, smiling. “What are you so happy about,” she grumbled.

“Broke the code on the phone. It was Deen’s TPO employee number. I’ve got at least forty incoming and, so far, twenty outgoing calls, and a few SMS messages, but all those look work related.”

“I’m glad somebody is getting something done. Came up cold on the banking info. His checks are direct deposit by TPO, and all of the deposits are from TPO. They match his payroll records, and his withdrawals are all at a branch that was a block from his apartment. I called the branch and they knew him. Seems like his big withdrawals were always just before he went back in the field. Other than that, he used his debit card at the grocery, the cleaners, and that’s about it.”

Matt nodded, “Ties in with what Owens told us.”

“Did the Rangers get anything off his home computer?”

“Nope, he apparently seldom used it. Most of the emails were from the company, a couple from an old military buddy, and two from that cousin we identified, Harber? No, Haber. She was bugging him to come see her, which she’d already told us when we did the phone interview, remember? No real media presence, one dormant Facebook account, one old Yahoo email, and one work email was it.”

“Oh, right. She was his emergency contact at TPO. Gah, now I know why I never did a murder investigation. This is a PITA! This is what, the fourth shift that we’ve worked on this background stuff.” Sliding the report across the table, she said, “Here’s the autopsy. Death by gunshot. One hollow-point forty-five round, Speer Gold Dot. Fired at less than a foot, upward angle, approximately thirty degrees. Powder residue on his shirt, along with stippling from the unburned powder. Round clipped the aorta, causing Mr. Deen to bleed out in less than a minute. Possible defensive wound, powder residue on the left palm, but not definitive.”

Matt replied somberly, “It’s not fun, but it’s necessary. At least we’re getting help from the Rangers and El Paso PD, otherwise we’d be driving all over hell and gone. And don’t forget, we’ve got to be back down at TPO thirty-seven this afternoon. Owens is going to meet us there with one of Deen’s friends.”

Jesse sighed, “One of his few friends. That must have been one lonely man. Parents all dead, no brothers or sisters, the one cousin that seems to be his only family point of contact. Ex-wife hasn’t seen him or talked to him in over ten years, no kids. He really didn’t have anybody, other than Owens that he appears to have ever talked to.”

“Apparently, quite a few oil field folks are loners, guess this is one more proof of that. What did you find on the bank stuff?”

Jesse handed her notes across, “So far, one checking account, eighteen thousand in it. One savings account, one hundred thirty thousand in that one. TPO HR, grudgingly mind you, did admit he was in the four-oh-one K, with slightly over four hundred thousand in it.”

“Huh, not a big spender in the last fifteen years, then. Apparently, at one time, he was a boozer and a fighter. He had an arrest record going back to the mid-eighties for fighting and two arrests for drunk and disorderly. Owens confirmed those, and I think Owens was probably with him, or at least I got a sense of that. The stopping point for both of those appears to have been his divorce, nothing after that.”

Jesse cocked her head, “Get anything off his personal cell?”

Matt grimaced, “Nope. Calls to and from Owens. One call a month ago to his cousin. A string of texts, but they were all work related. One text from his cousin, something about a family reunion, never even answered it. Only four numbers in his contact list. Owens, his cousin, TPO Operations, and his bank. That was it.” Waving a sheet of notes, he said, “El Paso PD came up dry too. Neighbors knew him to wave and say hi, but that was it. Bar around the corner recognized him, but said he only drank cokes and watched college football. Pretty much a dry hole there too.”

“Wow, so he really was a loner.” Jesse glanced at the clock on the wall, “Well, better pack this up, we need to head out to the patch.” She started putting the spread out paperwork back into file folders, as Matt put his sheets back in the evidence bags with the respective phones.


They pulled into TPO 37’s rig a little after lunch, with Matt backing the Tahoe in next to Owen’s truck. Owens leaned against the front fender, somberly watching them, as they got out. “Afternoon, Deputies.”

Jesse took the lead, “Good afternoon, Mr. Owens. Thank you for…”

Owens interrupted, “It’s Jim. And I was wondering… Well, have you found anything?”

Matt shook his head, as he watched a middle aged Hispanic walking toward them, “Nothing that is any different than what you told us, sir. I still need the unlock code for the Iridium though.”

Owens smacked his head, “Ah crap. I thought I gave that to you, It’s the numerics for TPO Ops.” Pulling his phone out, he read off, “Eight, seven, six, six, seven, seven. TPO Ops.”

Matt nodded, “Thanks.”

Owens turned to the Hispanic, “Jesus, the deputies would like to talk to you about Rick.”

By unspoken agreement, Matt stuck out his hand, “Thank you for coming out to talk to us. I’m Deputy Carter, this is Deputy Miller. And you are?”

Shaking Matt’s hand he answered, “Jesus Garcia. I worked with Rick and the rest of the boys for the last six years.”

“The rest of the boys?”

Jesus answered, “Si,” waving at the other men moving around on the rig, he continued, “We all work together. Same, same people, six year now.”

Matt whistled, “Damn, isn’t that kind of unusual?”

Jesus grimaced, “We… We are all, how you say, recovering.”


“Mostly booze. Jason, drugs. Danny, booze and drugs. We keep each other sober. Nobody else wants to work with us. Fine by us. Is quiet, and we get job done.”

“How long did you know Mr. Deen?”

Jesus thought for a moment, “Probably fifteen year. I fight him once on a rig. He beat some sense into me.”

“What about the others?”

“Probably close to ten year. Jim, he put us together six year ago. Call us his go-to crew. We get hard jobs, don’t screw up.”

Matt questioned him for another fifteen minutes, then asked, “Did you know or work with anybody that rode a motorcycle, anybody that got fired lately, that might have blamed Deen?”

Jesus shook his head, “No. We don’t know who get fired. We work together. Not pay attention to other crews.”


Two hours later, they were both sweating but had completed the interviews with all of the crew on the rig. Jesse turned to Matt, “Now what?”

Matt shrugged, “Good question. Nobody knows anybody that rides a motorcycle, and this crew obviously got along. Doesn’t seem like anybody had problems with Deen, in or out of the company. Let’s go back and I’ll pull the data from the Iridium, and we’ll go see your Grandpa.”

“Sounds good to me, I need some A/C about now. You know we probably should have used their office to do the interviews, right?”

Matt shook his head, “Nope. No telling who would have listened, or even tried to record it. This way, we had them out in the open and they didn’t get a chance to compare answers. Let’s go find Mr. Owens and get out of here.”

They trudged slowly over to the rig office, and found Owens on the phone, obviously not happy, “I don’t care what you have to do, I need two more guys for forty-four, and I need them by tomorrow! If you can’t get ‘em, I’ll pull these guys off thirty-seven and send them up there.” They heard a mumbled response and Owens started to slam the phone down, but stopped and put it very gently back in the cradle. “What can I help y’all with now?”

Jesse replied, “Nothing, sir. Just wanted to let you know we are done. Still wondering if anybody rides a motorcycle that might have interacted with Mr. Deen.”

Owens threw up his hands, “Beats the hell outta me. Only thing I can do is ask ops if anybody that works on the yard rides one. That would be the only other place he might have known somebody that rode one.”

“We’d appreciate that, sir. Sorry we took up so much of your time.”

Owens waved them off, “Not your fault, you’re doing the best you can, it’s just that I’m short people, and HR is screwing around with the hiring. I need people now, not in two weeks!”

Matt said, “Good luck with that, we’ll go through the Iridium phone, and I should be able to release that back to you next week.”

As they started for the door, Owens asked softly, “Anything on the equipment or the truck?”

Matt and Jesse glanced at each other, and Matt replied, “Nothing that we are aware of. It’s like everything disappeared into thin air.”

Owens huffed, “Probably went across the border then. Well, that’s why the company has insurance, I guess.”


A half hour later, cups of coffee in hand, they were camped in the old man’s office, waiting for him to get out of a meeting with the sheriff. Yogi was sitting with his head on Jesse’s leg, as she petted him distractedly, while she and Matt played 20 questions over what they had and hadn’t found. Matt finished his notes on the Iridium, shook his head and disgustedly shoved it back in the evidence envelope, “Nothing. All work numbers, both incoming and outgoing, except a nine one dial at nineteen thirty on the… Shit! We’ve got a time for the murder, if I’m right. I wonder if he was trying to dial nine one one?”

Jesse sat forward, “How does that factor in with what Doc estimated was the time of death?” Jesse opened her notes, searched for a minute and said excitedly, “That’s in the window!”

The old man came in, asking, “What’s in the window?”

Matt and Jesse both tried to answer, and Matt finally said, “Found a nine one dial at nineteen thirty on the Iridium that fits with the date of the murder and might give us the time of the attack, if I’m right. I think he might have been trying to dial nine one one.”

The old man sat slowly in his chair, “What makes you think that? And where would a nine one one call go from an Iridium?”

Matt replied, “In the US, it would actually connect to nine one one. I know that for a fact.”

The old man cocked his head, “How?”

“I’ve used one before for an emergency evac during an exercise.”

“Okay, what else do you have?”

Jesse started the review of the paper and bank records, Matt did the phones and what had come in from El Paso PD, and they laid out the timeline they had come up with, based on the phone data, interviews, and personal connections from all the data.

The old man didn’t say much, wrote a couple of notes and grunted a couple of times, but let them get all the way to the end.

“So, we have a spent Speer Gold Dot shell case, which means the perp didn’t take the time to pick it up, or didn’t bother looking. That might correlate with the nineteen thirty attempt at nine one one, it was, no never mind. Sun would have still been pretty high, so that doesn’t work. Interviews with the crew didn’t turn up any problems, nor did the El Paso PD canvass. In other words, what you’re saying is we have an unknown perp, maybe riding a Harley, or some type of road bike, who may or may not have ridden through an open gate, and murdered one Rick Deen.”

Jesse slumped, “That’s pretty much what we came up with Papa. And he’s a… was a loner.”

The old man reached for the phone, set it in the middle of the desk, hit speaker and dialed Clay’s cell. Three rings later, they heard a tinny, “John?”

“Clay, this is John, with Jesse and Matt. Want to chat about the Deen investigation.”

“Standby. They heard a click and a pop, then an even tinnier reply, “Okay, I’ve got Levi on here with us. You want to start?”

Matt and Jesse ran through their respective findings yet again, with Clay and Levi asking the occasional question. After they finished, Clay added, “Had CBP pull the tapes for the southbound lanes, three trucks matched your stolen truck, two with US plates that went down and back, and one with a Mexican border zone plate. It got flagged for no windshield sticker, but the driver claimed he’d taken it to the dealer for a new windshield and transmission work, so they let him go. That might have been your truck. Or it might have been stripped and parted out. Either way, its disappeared. Same, same on the computers. Nothing’s shown up in any pawn shops. Considering those are oil field computers, our IT guys in the JOIC[1], they may have been sold to somebody looking to see if they can get any industrial data on TPO’s operations or procedures.”

The old man said, “So dead ends?”

“Pretty much. And the Fibbies came back with the same thing you did on the motorcycle tread. Generic Avon Cobra tire, which fits most of the touring bikes. The oil patch was Mobil One, twenty W fifty. Again, generic to most touring bikes.

Jesse said, “We did ask about other people that might have ridden a motorcycle and work at TPO.”

Levi replied, “Good thinking. I’m pretty sure Deen did spend time at Ops. We’ll send you what we have, and we’d appreciate your forwarding what you’ve documented, too.”

Matt and Jesse chorused, “We’ll do that.”

“Okay, talk to y’all later. John, give me a call tonight.”

“Will do.” The old man punched off the speaker, “This one isn’t going well.” Holding up his hands he said, “Not your fault. Just too many missing pieces. Y’all go write up what you’ve got and we’ll keep pluggin’ on it, for what that’s worth.”  Matt and Jesse gathered up their papers, silently left the office, and started looking for open computers they could use to finish their documentation.
[1] Joint Operations Intelligence Center


Book Updates!!! — 12 Comments

  1. You sure know how to bait the hook. Of course knowing that this is another Grey Man novel, I would have climbed out of the water and into the boat on my own and not waited for the hook to hit the water.
    Great teaser!

  2. Hey Old NFO;

    I say this with all seriousness……Hurry up….Just saying 🙂

  3. It’s impressive how the quality remains consistent, and hasn’t descended into formula or easy “straw man” bad guys. Can’t wait for the new book!

  4. Looks to be another good one.
    By-the-by, loved the cross references in “The Green”.

  5. I’m so hooked on these people!
    Thanks for the preview, will just wait patiently outside in the rocker for this one to come out…

  6. Okay, I’m ready. Now, where’s the book?? Hmm? Waiting….. patiently (?).