Wade Griffin had been prowling the woods around Silver Pine Trail every morning for the last week. The Wellman cops, who had stepped up patrols after the assault on Cindy Carver, had never seen Griffin. They also hadn’t seen the man in camos and mask who was hiding in a clump of bushes about twenty feet from where Griffin was concealed.
According to the news, the as yet unidentified man had dragged Cindy into the woods around the walking trail and had beaten her so severely that he had broken most of the bones in her face. Griffin had seen the pictures. The attacker had obviously enjoyed himself. That meant it wouldn’t be long before he came back. The cops knew that too, but they didn’t have the man power to keep a constant watch on the trail. Griffin wasn’t currently employed and he didn’t mind getting up early.
Griffin heard someone coming along the trail and he turned his focus to the here and now. A woman appeared out of the morning fog. Petite. Bright running clothes. Blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail. Griffin saw camo slowly stand up and go into a crouch. He had obviously been watching the police patrols and knew they were a long way from his current position. His plan was probably to step out and hit the girl hard, stunning her or knocking her cold. Making sure she couldn’t scream. Then he could drag her into the bushes and have his fun.
Griffin covered the distance between he and camo as silently as a ghost. He slid one arm around camo’s neck from behind, grasped his own bicep on the other arm and leaned in so camo couldn’t reach back and go for his eyes. Properly applied, the ju-jistu choke hold he used could render an opponent unconscious in less than four seconds. Griffin applied it properly.
• • •
The jogger was long gone by the time camo came to. The man sat up, rubbing his temples. Griffin knew that the choke hold, which cut off the supply of blood to the brain, would give the recipient a hell of a headache.
It took camo a few seconds to realize that his hood was gone. He looked over at Griffin who was now wearing a ski-mask. Camo said, “You can’t prove nothing.”
“You’re wrong,” Griffin said. “Cindy carver scratched you. She’s got your DNA under her fingernails.”
Camo shook his head. “Bitch didn’t get a chance to scratch me.”
Realizing his mistake, camo said, “Nobody heard that but me and you. Don’t mean anything.”
“That’s true,” Griffin said. He removed a pair of leather gloves from the pocket of his jacket and began to pull them on.
“So you going to arrest me or what?” Camo said.
“I’m not the police,” said Griffin.
“I’m not here to arrest you. Now stand up, please.”
Camo’s eyes had gone wide. “Why do you want me to stand up?”
“I’m giving you a chance to fight back. It won’t do you any good, but it’s more than you did for Cindy Carver.”
Camo got to his feet slowly, his hand slipping to his pocket.
“Your knife’s gone,” Griffin said. “I thought about letting you keep it, but that would be stupid and you could get lucky.”
‘This ain’t fair. You’re bigger than me.”
“And you outweighed Cindy by a hundred pounds. I don’t have that much on you.”
“So you’ve been waiting out here just to beat on me? That’s crazy.”
“Probably. I’m done talking now, except for one last thing. You broke most of the bones in Cindy’s face. I want you to know that I’m going to do a better job than that.”
“Jesus, man. Don’t!” Camo started yelling. That was fine. The cops were a long way off and this wouldn’t take long. Griffin had an appointment for later in the morning so he was glad things had gone his way. He shrugged his shoulders, blew out a long breath, and went to work.