Twenty: No Excuses
Six Months Earlier
Hines smiled to himself as the sound of the tennis ball
bouncing against the cinder block wall echoed throughout
the eight by ten cell. It was just another noise to
add to the multitude of others that seemed to plague
the prison—the constant fighting, the threats
and the sound of metal clanging against metal. If the
convicted felon wanted to be entirely honest with himself,
he knew the ruckus he was causing pissed off the other
inmates and the guards and he couldn’t care less.
well…get the hell over it, Hines thought
as he continued to bounce the ball. Not like these pansies
have the balls to say anything to me.
was the truth.
soon as he’d been sentenced to this hell hole
ten years ago, Hines quickly set the precedent that
he wasn’t one to be screwed with. Of course, it
helped that on his first day, he’d sent one guy
to the ICU for two weeks to get that point across. When
he was released from solitary confinement, Hines was
pleased to hear that word had spread quickly to stay
away from him.
that threat was diminishing rapidly and Hines knew it.
He’d heard the anxious whispers in the courtyard
and the cafeteria for the last week or so. His days
were numbered—two to go, to be exact; he’d
be meeting the business end of the syringe soon enough,
which he was sure would thrill the majority of the state
the hell did Hines care, though? Sure, he’d killed
ten people, but did he have any remorse about it?
that he’d gotten caught. In Hines’ mind,
he still had a lot more tricks up his sleeve. He still
had a lot more terror to inflict, a lot more dreams
he still had a way to do that. No way was he going to
give the state the satisfaction of pulling his plug.
If he couldn’t be out there creating havoc for
the masses, then Hines would at least dictate the way
he was going to go out of this world.
the tennis ball single-handed, the killer rose from
his cot and walked to the far facing wall, removing
a carefully carved out chunk of cinder block. Reaching
in, he pulled out the homemade shiv and smiled coldly.
though he’d made it more than a couple of months
ago, Hines had never had the occasion to use it. He’d
secretly wished someone would come along to piss him
off just so he could have felt the warm blood on his
hands, but maybe it was a blessing no one did. After
all, if that happened, the weapon would have been confiscated
and he wouldn’t get to use it for its true purpose
his finger over the finagled blade, Hines smiled in
satisfaction as blood seeped out from the cut. “Yep,
this will do just fine.”
felon felt no fear as he brought the blade up to his
throat. If anything, this would be a release—a
sweet, intoxicating release that, if he was lucky, would
still be savored for some time to come.
footsteps stopped Hines from completing his deed just
then. “Even better,” the murderer murmured.
“I always did love an audience.”
didn’t have long to wait before the penitentiary’s
newest hire—a short, lanky and constantly nervous
guard—stopped in front of Hines’ cell, his
hand resting on his nightstick as if it was the very
salvation to save his pathetic life if things went downhill.
Hines smiled in glee as he took in Twitchy’s fearful
expression as the guard eyed the blade the prisoner
think you’re gonna make it in time there, Twitch,”
Hines said as he watched the uniformed man reach for
the keys on his belt.
Twitchy could even grasp the keys firmly in his hand,
Hines brought the blade across his throat, spraying
the guard and cell in a shower of crimson.
“On my count of three. One…two…three.”
medical staff worked as a solidified unit as they transferred
Peter Hines from the stretcher to the gurney in the
trauma room. Doctor Seth Luger wasted no time as he
began to check the vitals of his patient, though every
fiber in his being was screaming at him to let the scumbag
go to Hell where he deserved.
was exactly where he was headed with this type of wound.
Hines’ breathing was ragged at best as blood continued
to sputter out of his neck. How the psycho was managing
to hold on to life was beyond the veteran doctor. Luger
had to give it to him though—Hines knew exactly
what he was doing when he slashed himself.
dropping,” one of the nurses replied brusquely.
it drop, Luger snorted as he kept the thought to
himself. Instead, he put on his practiced medical persona
and said, “Let’s keep working, people. We
still have time to save him.”
Luger was sure if he took a vote no one would agree
Hines managed to turn his head enough to look the doctor
in his eyes, a leering smile on his face as he choked
on his own blood. There was no denying that Hines knew
he was going to die and to the physician, it almost
seemed as if Hines was happy with that.
let me be the one to send you on your way….
lost his pulse,” another nurse called out as a
steady beep pierced through the frenzied air.
the crash cart in here!” Luger barked as he pushed
his way forward to begin compressions. He barely even
turned around as an intern handed him the paddles and
a nurse pushed medication into Hines’ system.
“Charge to three hundred! Clear!”
killer’s body convulsed as the paddles were pressed
against his chest and an electrical charge pulsed through
right—let’s try again!”
and his staff continued their valiant efforts but to
no avail. Realizing there was nothing more he could
do, the doctor called for everyone to cease their work.
down at his watch, Luger said, “Time of death…21:06.”
Stripping off his gloves, the medic reached for the
chart and made the notation. He cursed under his breath
when he noticed something else on the paper.
of a bitch…”
there a problem, Doctor Luger?” the last remaining
nurse asked worriedly.
guess it depends how you look at it,” the doctor
replied. “Notify the organ retrieval team and
let them know they have a new customer. The sooner they
get it done, the sooner this bastard can go to the morgue
where he belongs.”
one final stab of his pen against the clipboard, Luger
shoved the trauma room’s swinging door open, intent
on saving the lives of people who were actually worth
Five Months Later
There were days when Jerry Houston loved owning his
own business and today was no exception. A local lawyer
for the fine people of Tahlequah, the fifty-six year
old silver haired man was glad he had the luxury of
working from his home office, instead of sitting in
a stuffy brick building all day. Not to mention the
fact he got to stay near his family, especially his
grandchildren who lived next door. The prosecutor was
pretty much a happy camper.
again, Jerry had a lot to be thankful about lately—namely
a new lease on life in the form of receiving a new kidney.
Five months ago, just as the doctors were telling him
dialysis was no longer working and he only had a month
to live, the new organ had finally come along. He took
to it surprisingly well and the doctors were thrilled
to report he now had a long life ahead of him.
was ecstatic to hear the news because there was so much
that needed to be done. He’d immediately cut down
his seventy-plus hour work weeks and spent more time
at home with his wife of thirty-five years, Audrey.
Not only that, he began taking on pro bono cases until
they eventually became the majority of his caseload.
felt good to give back to the community that supported
him in his so-called hour of need.
out a sigh, the attorney tried to focus on his newest
case. Jerry was trying to get together his defense for
the case of the Dossett family against the Environmental
Protection Agency. High levels of lead had been found
in building materials used to build their new home,
resulting in lead poisoning to their two young children.
Jerry felt confident of their chances of winning the
case, but he found he was having a hard time concentrating
as little noises began eating away at his thought processes.
was the everyday noises that a person grew accustomed
to and had never seemed to bother him before—the
birds chirping outside his window, the neighborhood
children squealing with delight in the street and Audrey
bustling to and fro in the kitchen as she prepared their
dinner. The sounds kept pounding away in his head and
his notes quickly became gibberish as his hands began
shaking violently from the rage building inside of him.
in the world is happening to me?” he whispered
as the feeling of pure fury washed over him, subduing
his usual gentle demeanor.
supper is five minutes away,” Audrey said as she
stopped in the open doorway, drying her hands with a
be right there,” Jerry said, smiling tightly as
his wife’s voice grated against his nerves.
didn’t seem to notice Jerry’s mounting rage.
“I know how you are when you get a new case—there’s
no budging you.” Audrey smiled warmly. “I
promise I won’t bother you the rest of the night
if you come and eat with me now.”
only nodded tersely and watched as she left him alone
to return to the kitchen. There’s only one
way I’ll get the peace I need, Jerry thought
as he opened the top desk drawer.
inside at the very back was a small handgun that was
meant for protection, but would serve a different purpose
today. Picking it up, he was satisfied to see the clip
was still fully loaded.
up from his desk, Jerry made his way towards the kitchen,
keeping the gun at his side. He spotted Audrey with
her back towards him, fixing their plates.
must have been hungry,” she teased, but she didn’t
said nothing as he slowly raised the gun to take aim
oblivious to her husband’s intentions, Audrey
turned around, smiling brightly as she held a heaping
plate in each hand. Her expression quickly turned to
one of horror and the plates fell to the floor, shattering
upon impact, when her eyes lighted upon the gun.
are you doing, Jerry?” she demanded fearfully,
bringing a hand to her mouth.
said nothing, his face expressionless.
please…put down the gun,” Audrey pleaded.
“You don’t know what you’re doing.”
attorney tuned out her voice as his finger squeezed
the trigger, firing off two shots into Audrey’s
chest. She fell to the floor and as she landed unmoving
at his feet, Jerry seemed to finally snap out of his
he whispered in horror as blood began blossoming from
under his wife’s body. “What have I done?”
down at the gun still tightly grasped in his hand, Jerry
brought it up and aimed it at his head. There was one
more shot before Jerry’s prone form joined that
of his beloved Audrey.
Cornerstone Diner, outside of Joplin, Missouri
You can’t see the mornin’, but I can
see the night
Drive, drive, drive, let it ride
While you’ve been out runnin’
I’ve been waitin’ half the night
Drive, drive, drive,, let it ride
does it seem like every diner we go to has to either
blare classic rock or country music? Sam Winchester
thought as Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s Let
It Ride blasted through the speakers. Looking across
the table, it was obvious Dean was enjoying it as he
bobbed his head in time to the music, while shoveling
massive bites of eggs down his throat.
supposed it could always be worse because he would gladly
take classic rock over a sappy, lovelorn country song
any day of the week. It was a wonder those artists and
songwriters didn’t spend the majority of their
time with a shrink, considering all they knew how to
come up with was all of that depressing crap.
my life is not complete, I never see you smile
Drive, drive, drive, let it ride
Baby, you want the forgivin’ kind and that’s
just not my style
Drive, drive, drive, let it ride
Sammy, but I’m just not buying what you’re
trying to peddle me here,” Dean said as he chased
down the eggs with a healthy chug of coffee.
sighed as he looked up from his laptop, a rueful smile
playing on his lips. “Well, I might be agreeing
with you for once because I’m not really sure
if I’m buying it myself.” He shrugged a
shoulder as he swallowed down some of his orange juice.
“But then again, it’s too coincidental to
do you mean?”
Sam sighed. “In the last five months or so, throughout
Oklahoma and surrounding states, there’s been
a spike in murder-suicides.”
perps were all upstanding citizens of their communities,
never got into a spot of trouble before this,”
Sam explained. “They had no reason to commit these
was Dean’s turn to shrug. “People change
all the time, Sammy. We know that from personal experience.
This sounds like something for the Five-O, dude.”
thought you didn’t think very much of their abilities
to do their job?” Sam commented, grinning.
still don’t, but I don’t see how this is
our kind of gig.”
I mention that every single person who committed a murder
was a recent organ recipient?” Sam asked.
recent?” Dean asked, arching a brow.
you said that’s when the spike in murder-suicides
smirked. “Look who’s been paying attention
would it kill you to give me a little credit every now
and then?” Dean griped, stabbing at his last bite
at all, if your credit didn’t come so few and
far between,” Sam answered.
flashed a bright smile as he swallowed down the food.
“That’s the difference between you and me,
Sammy—you make life all simple and boring by paying
attention and I make it more exciting and spontaneous
when I don’t.”
rolled his eyes. “No wonder I always end up being
the bitch in almost every single hunt,” he muttered
under his breath.
smile grew. “You gotta admit, it’s more
exciting when I have to swoop in and save your ass.”
how is it you manage to keep that ego of yours in check,
Dean?” Sam didn’t look at his brother as
he returned his attention to the laptop.
Dean could reply with what Sam was sure would be his
usual biting snark, the older Winchester’s cell
phone began to chirp. Shoving a strip of bacon into
his mouth, Dean dug in the pocket of his favorite leather
jacket and plucked it out.
it open, he held it to his ear only to be greeted by
the dial tone. Pulling it away, he scrolled to the Missed
Calls menu and frowned at what he saw there.
hang up?” Sam asked quietly.
closed the phone with a snap and nodded. “Yeah.”
been getting a lot of those lately.”
signaled to the waitress for another coffee refill and
answered Sam without looking at him. “It’s
probably just a crank caller, Sam.”
you think it could be Dad?”
shook his head as the waitress refilled his cup and
waited for her departure before he continued. “Why
would you think that?”
shrugged. “He gets new phones all the time and
he’s never been the best at sharing the numbers
with us, Dean.”
not Dad, Sammy. He wouldn’t hang up without talking
to us first,” Dean answered.
if he was in trouble and he couldn’t answer?”
would find some way to give us a message if he was in
trouble,” Dean stated firmly.
but what if—”
it, Sam,” Dean said with a stern look. Picking
up his coffee cup, he nodded towards Sam’s laptop.
“Tell me more about this case.”
wanted to push the subject further but he could tell
Dean wasn’t going to budge. That was it—the
matter was closed. He trusted Dean when he said it wasn’t
their dad calling, but he could see by the way Dean
kept darting glances at his phone that there was something
his brother wasn’t telling him—whether it
was proof it wasn’t their father or just a thought,
Sam wasn’t sure.
younger Winchester didn’t want to get into a fight
with his sibling, especially in a public place, so instead
he focused once more on the possible gig. “We’re
heading for Tahlequah, Oklahoma.”
there?” Dean’s eyes slid from the phone
to Sam’s face.
where the last murder-suicide occurred, not to mention
three other recent recipients call it home,” Sam
I still think this recipient thing and the deaths could
be one big ass coincidence.”
grinned. “Sure, but you don’t believe in
those. You actually give the Easter Bunny more credit
for being real.”
willing to make an exception,” Dean argued. “And
no way in hell do I believe in a damn overgrown rabbit
that shoots Peeps out of its ass.”
face wrinkled in disgust. “Well, there’s
a nice picture for you.”
chuckled. “So, if these organ recipients are the
common link, have you been able to find the winning
frowned. “The records aren’t that easy to
come by. Hell, they don’t even let the recipients
know where their organs came from,” he explained.
“I just need to do a little more digging and I’m
sure I can come up with something more definitive.”
have no doubt about that, little brother,” Dean
said with an easy smile. “You’re like the
freakin’ Energizer Bunny when it comes to research.”
flashed a half smile before sighing as he closed up
his laptop. “This could be absolutely nothing,
Dean, but it sure as hell beats us sitting on our asses,
just waiting for Mia or Lucifer to strike.”
added his own tired sigh. “That’s exactly
my point, dude. We have enough on our plate to deal
with without adding more to it.”
when have you been worried about stacking your plate
too high?” Sam asked with a pointed glance at
Dean’s polished off breakfast. “Especially
if it involved a buffet line. Why start now?”
glared at his smirking sibling. “Bite me,”
he said as he got up to pay their bill.
laughed as he packed up his laptop and watched Dean
pay the waitress for their tab.
your ass in gear, Sammy, or you can start footing it
to Oklahoma,” Dean called out as he pushed out
of the door to the diner.
not everyday you can get Dean Winchester to shut up,
Sam thought happily as he followed after his brother.
“My God, this neighborhood could make a person
want to kill themselves,” Dean commented as he
pulled the Impala into a tree-lined subdivision. At
Sam’s look of incredulity, he quickly added, “Excuse
think a lot of people wouldn’t necessarily mind
living in an area like this,” Sam argued. “Isn’t
this what the American Dream is supposed to be about?”
scoffed. “What, paying mortgages on half-a-million
dollar homes? No thanks, dude. I’ll take our backwoods
motel rooms any day of the week.”
chuckled, but Dean ignored him. He really didn’t
understand how people could put themselves in debt by
building and living in these monstrosities. Looking
at all of the similar Italian-style villas that lined
either side of the street, Dean was sure these people
never had to do a day of manual labor in order to keep
their properties looking pristine. Why should you when
you could pay some poor schmuck to do it?
he glanced at the homes, Dean figured maybe these people
lived in these top-of-the-line homes because it made
them feel more safe and secure. All the hunter knew
was that a shotgun full of rocksalt, holy water, and
the right Latin exorcism did the job just fine, too.
is it right here,” Sam commented, breaking into
Dean’s thoughts. The older Winchester slowed to
a stop as he parked across the street from one of the
homes—the only difference between this one and
all the others was the fading For Sale sign in the front
had to give the realtor’s office credit—they
were certainly doing a great job with the upkeep up
of the property. There was really no reason why this
home should still be on the market, except for the obvious
one—the last owners dying inside. It amazed Dean
how the thought of death scared people, when in his
line of work, it could be seen as a blessing in disguise
look like anyone’s home,” Dean commented
as he stepped out into the cool, autumn afternoon.
shook his head as he joined his brother on the walkway
leading up to the home. “It doesn’t look
like anyone’s set foot here since the Houstons
looks can be deceiving,” Dean muttered as he stepped
up to ring the doorbell. “Maybe we’ll get
do realize you’re using us and lucky in the same
sentence, right?” Sam asked, arching a brow.
shrugged but said nothing as he rang the doorbell once
again. Seeing as they weren’t going to get an
answer sometime in the near future, he nodded to the
next door neighbor’s home. “Should we try
couldn’t hurt,” Sam answered and the brothers
made their away around, passing the iron fencing that
cordoned off the estates.
up that walkway, they stopped at the door and rang the
doorbell. It wasn’t long at all before it was
answered by a petite brunette, her long hair pulled
back into a messy, yet fashionably knot. She wore designer
jeans topped with a stylish pink babydoll blouse.
I help you?” she asked smiling, yet suspicion
was obvious in her voice.
returned her smile, quickly melting away the woman’s
apprehension. “We were wondering if you happened
to know the people who used to live in the house next
door?” He reached into his pocket and pulled out
the doctored FBI badge. “My name is Agent Henley
and this is my partner, Agent Denver.”
Abigail Bain,” she answered, shaking each brother’s
hand in turn. “The people that used to live there
were my parents, Jerry and Audrey Houston.”
very sorry for your loss,” Sam said gently, his
voice full of sympathy. Dean found himself having a
hard time not laughing at the way his little brother
worked his magic. As soon as Sam broke out that tone
of voice, people—especially of the female persuasion—were
putty in his hands.
you,” she answered, smiling sadly. “What
brings the FBI out here?”
we possibly go inside and discuss it?” Dean asked.
seemed ashamed of her manners as she quickly stepped
back to allow the hunters passage. “By all means,
please come in.”
you,” Sam said sincerely as he followed Dean into
shut the door behind them and led the way into the large,
open living room that was professionally decorated with
bright colors and modern furniture. A series of windows
lined the back wall, allowing the afternoon sunlight
to bathe the room in a soft amber glow.
as Dean was crossing the threshold, he was nearly mowed
over by three small children hurrying through the room
and up the staircase behind them.
three need to slow down!” Abby called out, but
there was no anger in her voice. She glanced at Dean
apologetically as another woman, who he assumed was
the nanny, gave chase after the children. “Sorry
about that. It’s a little chaotic around here
with my husband on a business trip. They tend to get
a little restless.”
really no problem,” Dean answered good-naturedly
as he sat on the sofa beside Sam. “It looks like
they keep you on your toes.”
laughed softly. “If that isn’t the biggest
understatement…I really don’t know what
I would do without Sophia being here,” she said
before her tone turned serious. “Do you mind telling
me what this visit is about?”
at all,” Sam answered. “We’re investigating
your parents’ deaths.”
shook her head in confusion. “But that doesn’t
make any sense. There is no case—it was a murder
may be so and we could completely be wasting your time,
but could you tell us if your father ever showed any
signs of depression before his death?” Dean asked,
trying to keep his voice as soothing as Sam’s.
not at all,” the woman replied. “If anything,
he seemed happier to me, especially within the last
five months or so.”
you explain that?” Sam asked.
was dying from kidney disease. Dialysis wasn’t
helping anymore and the doctors only gave him about
a month to live. Then, the next day, he gets a call
saying a new kidney had been found,” Abigail explained
sadly. “He got a new lease on life and he began
taking advantage of that.”
smiled faintly. “My father was the biggest attorney
in Tahlequah; he dealt with the high dollar cases. But
he gave the majority of them up in order to take cases
was really considerate of him,” Sam commented.
welled up in the petite woman’s eyes as she nodded
shakily. “He really was a great man. That’s
why none of this makes any sense. Why would my father
just snap like that? What could possess him to murder
my mother—she was his world.”
and Dean exchanged uneasy glances, both frowning when
she mentioned “possession.” If she only
knew how true that could possibly be. Nodding to Sam,
Dean tilted his head towards the door, indicating it
was time for them to take their leave.
Bain, we would like to thank you for your time,”
Sam said softly as he and Dean stood up.
are you going to do now?” she asked.
got some other things we need to check out before we
can come to any conclusions,” Sam said.
let me know if you find something, right?” Abigail
queried as she followed them to the door.
thing,” Dean replied, hating that he was lying
to the grieving woman, but knowing that if it was something
supernatural-related, no way in hell was she going to
believe them. Walking back to the Impala, Dean didn’t
say anything until they were both inside.
didn’t get us anything useful,” he muttered
as he started the Chevy, her loud growl earning a few
glares from some of the residents.
least she solidified what everyone else has been saying
about their loved ones—they didn’t seem
the type to do something like this,” Sam pointed
let out a weary sigh. “Where do we go next?”
reached inside his suit pocket and pulled out a folded
up sheet of paper. Opening it up, he pointed to the
first name on the list. “Gwen Barton—she’s
the first person on here who has yet to snap.”
nodded. “Okay, do you have any idea how to get
there, Tom Tom?”
chuckled at the navigational nickname as he pulled out
his cell phone, activating the GPS technology. Punching
in Gwen’s address, Sam had no trouble at all showing
Dean the way.
onto Shasta Drive, Dean was relieved to see they were
headed down a neighborhood that could be construed as
normal by the average person. Small homes that seemed
to be at least a couple of decades old dotted the street.
Leaves created a blanket over the lawns of some homes,
while others were raked, with a stray leaf here and
there. Almost at the end of the road, the brothers finally
pulled up to the Barton home, where a white minivan
sat parked in the gravel driveway.
that thing so beats a map any day of the week,”
Dean remarked as he turned off the ignition. Then he
smirked. “I wonder if it could point me in the
direction of some hot chick’s house if I told
rolled his eyes as he pocketed the phone and pushed
out of the car. “You’re completely hopeless
sometimes, you know that?”
chuckled as he shut his own car door. “Ah, you
know that’s why you love me, Sammy.”
was about to respond when a terrified, blood-curdling
scream ripped through the air. Trading anxious glances,
the brothers reached for their weapons and raced up
the wooden steps.
do you think?” Sam asked quietly as they took
positions on either side of the door.
shrugged. “Are we sure it came from this house?”
he asked, uncertainly.
if in answer to that, another cry erupted from behind
the door before it was abruptly cut off. With a nod
from Sam indicating that he was ready, Dean stepped
back and brought his foot forward to kick open the door.
quickly entered the room, Dean bringing up the rear
to cover him. Both Winchesters stopped short as they
burst into the living room and saw what greeted them
woman stood sobbing over a prone form, closer inspection
revealing it to be that of a young girl, blood soaking
through her outfit and onto the area rug. The woman’s
head snapped up when she spotted the hunters, her eyes
clearly reflecting horror for the deed she’d done.
they could even react, she brought a bloodied knife
up to her own throat.
the episode here