Dead Air - By Robin Caroll Page 0,1
She swallowed against a dry mouth and scrambled to Robert’s side. His pulse was strong and regular, but he didn’t stir. His head lay against the corner of the bottom concrete step, blood pooling beneath. She touched his face. “Robert, Robert.”
Kevin hovered over her. “We need to call the police. There’s a gun.”
Sure enough, a handgun lay inches from Robert’s hands. What did that mean?
She patted Robert’s shoulder. “We need to call an ambulance. And Sheriff McGruder.”
Mr. McKay continued to perform CPR on Howard. No response. Tears spilled from her face.
Poor Howard, he’d been with the station since Robert bought it—he was as much of an icon of KLUV as anyone. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered as tears soaked her cheeks.
The morning newsman cleared his throat. “I’ll call McGruder and ask for an ambulance.”
Gabby swiped a sleeve across her face. She stood, wobbling a bit. “Let me call the sheriff.” She pointed at Kevin. “You stay with them.”
She rushed inside, her heart thumping hard. She washed her hands quickly, a lump lodging in her throat as she watched Howard’s blood trickle down the drain. Tears threatened to spill again, but she couldn’t break down. Not now. She dried her hands, strode to the reception area and lifted the phone. After punching in the number to the sheriff’s office, Gabby pinched the bridge of her nose. Mystique didn’t even have 911 capabilities yet.
“Sheriff McGruder.” His voice sounded like gravel in a barrel.
“It’s Gabby Rogillio at KLUV, Sheriff.” She swallowed, forcing the panic from her voice. “Howard Alspeed has been shot. And Robert Ellison is unconscious. We need an ambulance.”
“What? Wh—Never mind. I’ll call it in. Don’t touch anything. I’m on my way.” He barked orders harder than a Doberman after a petty thief. Good thing the sheriff’s office was only a block away, the hospital only three.
The phone went silent in her hand. Silence…dead air! She tossed the receiver back on its base and rushed into the studio. Sure enough, her loop had ended and nothing but silence filled the airwaves. Gabby quickly grabbed a previously recorded segment of her show and queued it up, not bothering to explain on-air. How could she?
She shut the studio door just as the front door lock disengaged with an echoing click. Gabby jumped, then let out a long breath as station manager Eric Masters waltzed inside.
“Morning, Gabby. It’s a beautiful day—” He cut off abruptly and studied her. His wet-from-the-shower hair lifted from the blast of the air conditioner. “What happened?”
“Oh, Eric. Howard’s been shot and Robert’s unconscious.”
His eyes widened. “When? Where?”
She shook her head, struggling to push the words past the mountainous lump in her throat. “The back door was wide-open. Sheriff’s on his way. So is the ambulance.”
“Did you see anything?” He set his briefcase on the desk and moved around her toward the hall, shoving his hands into the pockets of his slacks.
“Nothing. Kevin’s on the back steps with them. Mr. McKay is there, too—he’s doing CPR.”
Eric rubbed his clean-shaven chin. “I’ll check it out.”
“Sheriff McGruder said not to touch anything.”
“I’m not. Just gonna look around and see if anything’s missing.” Eric took two steps down the corridor.
She bit her bottom lip, pushing down the panic knotted in her gut from seeing Howard. And poor Robert, the man she looked up to like a second father…Well, her heart ached.
Eric didn’t look back at her, only continued to stride down the hall.
The front door swung open, letting sunlight spill into the station. Gabby blinked a few times until her eyes adjusted.
“Gabby.” Sheriff McGruder nodded at her. His tall, lithe frame wore the standard uniform well.
“EMS should be here any minute. Where’s the crime scene?”
No polite exchanges—all business.
“Back door. Come on.” She moved around the desk and took one step down the hall, the sheriff silently following.
Tears clogged her throat as she led the way down the hall. A siren wailed outside, followed by the crunch of tires on gravel.
Eric joined them in the corridor, leaning against the wall and crossing his arms over his chest. “Sheriff, I’ve looked over the offices. Nothing appears to be missing.”
“Y’all stay here while I secure the scene and direct the paramedics.” The sheriff moved to the back door and stepped outside.
Kevin and Mr. McKay entered, faces long. Gabby raised a brow. Mr. McKay shook his head. “Is there a place I can wash up?”
“I’ll take you.” Kevin moved toward the hallway. “I called Mrs. Ellison,” he mumbled over his shoulder.
Long moments passed with no one