It looked as if Michael was coming south from the direction of Battlefield Boulevard, crossed over the oncoming lane, met with the steel rail, and then somehow kept going to the grass embankment and down into the water. John pictured different scenes from movies where cars lost control on icy patches on the road, spinning out of control.

Other than killing time and retracing his thoughts, John did not know why he was there. Maybe, he thought, he would find a little something to tell Frank about.

He walked up the road along the shoulder in order to get a different view. About fifty yards to the north he stopped and turned. Nothing strange stood out. No skid marks or plowed down mailboxes. He felt silly out there nosing around.

Maybe some of the residents around Cooper's Ditch heard something that fateful night. He pushed the notion out of his mind before he started ringing doorbells.

Suddenly he figured out why he came. It hit him as he stood on the side of the road looking back at the van with the expired inspection sticker. He was hoping for some sign that Michael used the brakes. The brake issue was clouding the whole case. Without it, he was looking at a simple accident that could easily have happened to anyone. Without it, the case was solved and he could move on. With the brake issue he was forced to doubt the lieutenant, a man he admired. But the blacktop was undoubtedly clean.

Like it or not, John was investigating a murder.

He ambled back to the van with a more focused direction in mind. He had to have a serious talk with Frank and find out why he did not know or did not want to know about the details of the case. It might mean an end to their friendship and losing a valuable connection within the police department, but his mind was made up. He had to do it and find some way to put an end to the whole Gallager mess without putting an end to his relationship with Tammy Goodchild. God, she was beautiful.

He was back on the road before it hit him that he had not called Joyce back. Even with the fantastic chemistry he had with Tammy, he still thought of Joyce. It was the way she just popped back up out of the blue and stirred all those old emotions. The way she was when they were together and planning a future. She had tossed all of that out the window for the sake of having a partner that acted in a certain way and would do only as she wished. In a way, he was glad he had not followed up with her. Making her wait a while might do her some good and make her think twice. He had a life now.