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Monday, August 31

Operation Bravo: Part 1 – Gas n' Sip

The remnants of a formerly vibrant company town were still to be found surrounding the core of what Hellbend had become. Derelict buildings, long abandoned and overrun by weeds and witch grass, dotted the roads leading up to town – Hunt Electrodynamics' legacy.

The town once supported an entire workforce of nearly 4,000 people – and they left their dwellings behind. Most had fallen into near-complete ruin; windows long ago shattered, paint peeled off, decks collapsed, foundations shifted. Some, however, were still lived in and some were even meticulously maintained.

Most of the eighty-two residents of Hellbend lived near the center of town or within a few blocks of Main and State streets. Others however lived a bit off the beaten path – further out in the desert. The only business worth mentioning was the Gas n’ Sip – the local gas station/video store/ supermarket/post office on the corner of Main and State. Nearly every piece of mail came or went through the Gas n’ Sip and nearly everyone who stopped in Hellbend did so for one of two things – gas or directions.

The Gas n’ Sip was a two-story rickety looking building with a gable roof that sat on the corner of Main and State streets, dead-center in Hellbend. It was adorned with aging Coke signs, ancient ads for Brylcreem and other less memorable products long since washed out by the relentless sun. There were two old gas pump placed dead center on a simple concrete block out front.

"Jarvis?" asked Androzy, striding ahead of the agents. "Some men here to see you. This is Agents Grange and Baxter."

Jarvis Greene, the current proprietor, lounged in a weather-beaten rattan chair in the shade of the roof. He was a young, sunburned hippy.

"Hey guys." Greene stood up. "You must be here about the murders."

"That's right," said Hammer. "What do you know about them?"

Greene sat back down. "I knew Clifford Potter—" began Greene.

"He discovered Potter's body at the ruins of the Hunt Electrodynamics plant outside of Hellbend," interjected Androzy.

Greene nodded. "I rented Potter the Bobcat Lifter for the afternoon. When Potter didn't return that evening with the equipment, I took my Jeep out to the site and found him. That's when I called the sheriff."

"Did you see much of Potter prior to his death?" asked Hammer.

Greene nodded again. "Yeah. He took to interviewing my grandfather, Montgomery Greene, about his experience in the Hunt Electrodynamics Plant. A few times, Potter taped his interview with Monty, and asked specific questions about Hunt and the plant, though what they were, I can’t recall."

"You said you rented the Bobcat to Potter. Is it still here?"

"Sure is," said Greene. "It's 'round back. Want to see it?"

"Please," said Hammer.

Hammer grabbed his forensics kit from the car and Greene led them to the shade of a garage port. They smelled the Bobcat before they saw it. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 6:40 AM


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