***

On the way in to talk to Frank, John decided to drive by the spot where Michael Gallager ran off the road. It was at Cooper's Ditch in Chesapeake, which was a good distance away from Pungo. John stayed to the back roads as much as he could to avoid the police and the chance of getting busted for the expired inspection sticker on the van. The roads were still wet from the heavy rain the night before and the bald tires hummed. Too much was happening to him, he thought. His brain was a fog. He needed to just take an entire day off and let things sink in. The private eye used the long drive across the city to listen to the morning show DJs and try to let his mind rewind.

Subdivisions surrounded Cooper's Ditch. A place that was once in the middle of nowhere was now somewhere. Development was going strong in southern Chesapeake. Old farmers were slowly figuring out that it was easier to sell their land to a developer than trying to hold back progress. Grow houses money talks. It even speaks with a southern accent sometimes.

John pulled off the road onto a gravel shoulder. Morning commuters passed, their tires making a sizzling sound as the wet pavement rushed under them. He got out of the van and walked down the grassy embankment to the water's edge. For something called a ditch it was at least ninety foot wide. Cooper's Ditch was more like a creek.

It was a beautiful summer morning. The low rising sun was bursting bright yellow on the clear blue sky. Glistening dew dripped from the overhead branches. A scared frog plopped into the water as John walked along the edge. This was a hidden treasure in the middle of a growing suburb. John decided to sit down on a nearby log. He grabbed up a handful of gravel and lazily skipped rocks across the calm water.

Lost in the moment, he had forgotten why he had come here in the first place. He stood and dusted off his shorts with his hands and walked back up the slope to where the van was parked. For someone trying to hide the expired inspection sticker, he sure picked a busy road to park beside. A dozen police cars had probably already passed since he pulled up.

At first he thought it odd that there had been no skid marks on the asphalt anywhere around there. But then he remembered that the most mysterious thing surrounding the case was the cut brake line. He was able to find the place in the guardrail where the Corvette had smashed into it. A long red streak was dented into the gray metal and glistening broken glass was all around.