Smells Like Rain
Smells Like Rain (Chapters 1-4)
By Robert Woods
A lone wine glass sat atop a dark cherry antique bar. Into it, District Attorney Woody Yates stood pouring red wine he had retrieved from the cellar. It was his favorite, Chateau Haut Brion, bottled in 1939. The green bottle shook slightly as he poured, and the white collar of his Oxford shirt was stained yellow with sweat. He was a short man, morbidly obese from years of fine dining as evidenced by his belly rubbing against the edge of the bar. His black rimmed glasses had slid down his face, barely holding onto his red bulbous nose. The room was dead quiet except for the rhythmic squeak of the ceiling fan affixed high on the vaulted ceiling of his large game room. A half-ounce bag of marijuana lay next to the sparkling wine glass. Yates looked at the bag in disgust. He wondered why he still smoked the shit, but he knew why. He liked it. Marijuana accompanied with some wine had always calmed his nerves, at least that is what he told himself in the beginning. Now it was nothing but another bad habit, but his nerves undeniably needed calming right now.
It seemed that Yates had uncovered some evidence that could bury some very important people. Evidence of more vile and immoral acts than he could have ever imagined from these people. These people were supposed to be the upstanding citizens of New Harbor, devoted to family and the residents that lived there. When he learned of these acts of inhumanity, they disturbed him so much that he vomited until nothing, but bile and blood-streaked stomach lining came up.
Two days earlier, J.T. Weiderman, a local drug dealer, delivered thirty ten milligram Valium to Woody. That's when Weiderman, trying to beat a possession charge, told Woody of this whole disgusting business. The D.A. did not believe him at first, but Weiderman even supplied him with some physical evidence to prove his accusations. J.T. wanted to show that he wasn't insane and that what he said was true. This evidence came in the form of a flash drive that contained a short video clip, shot with a cell phone and a word document consisting of a list of names. The list of names was worthless without the video, but the video was pure gold. It was enough to ruin at least a career or two, and if the rest of JT's outlandish story was true then a full investigation and indictments could mean lengthy prison sentences for those involved.
Woody rubbed his balding head; he wanted to forget it all for now. All he wanted was to get high, take a Valium, and then melt back into his thick, overstuffed couch and sleep. Despite what he wanted; he could not relax. His thoughts were running wild, after all, what gave him the right to judge? What he himself planned on doing was not the act of a saint; it too was almost evil. Not because the action itself was horrid, but to blackmail someone and let all that person’s illegal and immoral acts go unaccounted for; that was unforgivable. Woody was not a bad man, but money had turned him numb to the worries and strife in the real world. For him, caring about people was long forgotten. For the last ten years, his kind of worries consisted of wondering if he should buy the gray Jag or the black one? But now, deep inside, he was terror-stricken. He felt as if micro-organisms had already started turning his bones from blood red to bleached white, dead inside. But he had no choice. His lavish lifestyle had left him broke; he owed banks, bookies, loan sharks, and women. Two million dollars might save him, or at least, let him continue his social façade. Nevertheless, the whole thing made him ill.
Suddenly, there was a knock at the door, four quick taps. It startled Woody, causing him to spill his wine onto the leg of his Armani slacks and on his floor.
"Damn! He's early." he said, looking down at the mess. The red wine was soaking into the plush gray carpet. On a normal night, he would be irate about the accident and probably rant on about it for a while. Tonight, however, was not a normal night. Tonight, he barely gave it a second thought. Looking tensely at the door, he hoped it was not him. Who else could it be this late? He checked his gold Rolex; it read 10:32 P.M. Woody thought to himself, it’s probably my ex-wife Brenda, that bitch, already needing money. I just paid her alimony last week.
“I shouldn’t have spoiled her so.” he said under his breath.
Not used to doing the menial task of opening the door, Woody scurried to open it, which just added another strange awkwardness to the night. His staff of two had already gone home for the evening, so he had no choice.
When he opened the door, his heart sank. He hoped it might have been his ex-wife, but it wasn't. It was the one he waited for, the one he planned to extort money from. Saying it to himself made him feel dirty inside. He was a lawyer, but life was winning the fight. This was his only option...blackmail.
A dry, confident, voice spoke, "Hello Woody, it’s been a long time."
"Come this way, we can take care of business in the Fun Room.” Woody said as he turned, ignoring the greeting from his visitor.
He walked through a door and headed towards the game room. He really did not expect to have much fun tonight.
The man followed behind Woody. He was a tall man with sharp features and well-manicured brown hair. He looked no more than thirty years old. He wore casual dark pants and a simple, gray polo style shirt and carried a black leather satchel at his side. The walk was slow and deliberate; the man seemed to lag behind on purpose. It was as if he were trying to annoy Woody, since he knew that Woody preferred to take care of business rather quickly.
Rounding a corner into the large game room, Woody asked, "Would you care for something to drink?”
He moved over to his most familiar spot behind the beautiful antique bar in the left-hand corner. There was a pool table in the center of the room, and to the right, a stuffed and mounted, charging black rhino that Woody had bought from an antiques dealer in downtown Atlanta. However, he tells his friends that he shot it in West Africa while on safari. Anything for his reputation, which he insisted preceded him, and it did. Most of the socially elite around New Harbor thought of Woody Yates as a good, hard-nosed, and honest man. They did not know that inside he was a spineless coward, one who was willing to forget his oaths and morals to save his reputation and continue with his obsessions.
A loud clap of thunder shook the room. The lightning blast lit up the dark night sky, filling the game room with light. It was bright enough to show the large pavilion and lawn furniture in Woody’s back yard.
"I didn't know there was supposed to be a storm tonight." Woody said.
"There's not…supposed to be." the man said, breaking into a sick laugh and exposing his almost perfect teeth, but he quickly stopped and stared at Woody.
The man’s eyes were bright gray, but the white part was not white at all. It was a dull shade of yellow. Woody suspected he was on something. The man’s cloths seemed casual, not exactly the kind of clothes a rich attorney would wear. For the first time, Woody noticed gloves. The man was wearing brown leather gloves. The gloves made Woody feel very nervous; he tried to conceal his skittishness, something he did well with his years of courtroom experience.
"Would beer be okay?" he offered, not wanting to waste his expensive wine on the trash.
"Sure, that would be wonderful.” the visitor answered.
Woody went to the mini fridge and retrieved a bottle, then he grabbed a beer flume from the rack hanging over the well-stocked back bar. He began to pour.
"So, let's get down to business. Do you have it?” the gloved man asked.
Woody stopped pouring and turned to face him, "Yes, it's safe. Do you have the money?" he asked in return, not letting his shaky voice crackle.
“Of course.” said the gloved man, patting the black leather satchel he carried.
Woody asked, “The video… its sick, what’s going on here?” he tried to be cautious, “Or, is this the proverbial, tip of the iceberg?”
“That’s not really important, I’m sure what you know already is enough to give you some chills when you try to sleep.”
“To me it . . .” he never finished, interrupted by another loud crack of thunder.
The room lit up even brighter than before. Woody saw something. It was something moving in his peripheral vision at the glass sliding door. He looked to see the dark outline of a man. He began to shake uncontrollably, frightened. Pure terror pulsed through his massive body. Without warning, he lost control of his bladder, wetting the front of his trousers.
Believing that his heart had stopped, he called out, “Who’s there?”.
The gloved man walked calmly to the door and unlocked it. It slid open and the dark figure stepped forward into the dully lit room. Heavy rain could be heard pounding the cement patio outside.
Woody’s pupils opened wide in the darkness; he could see the intruder’s face, but not well. The man’s skin appeared an awful color of gray, like the symbol of death. The eyes appeared like fiery red holes that could lead straight to hell. He was not tall, just average size. A dark, wide brimmed hat sat on his head, pulled down tight over his white hair that was stained with a dull yellow and poked out in clumped strands. The rest of him was just a hazy dark; he looked to have just stepped from a dream.
Woody's face became ashen; he dropped to his knees and began to weep.
"It's true, my god, it's true!" He blubbered, raising his hands to his cheeks as if to rip off his own flesh.
"What's wrong District Attorney?" the tall man in the gray shirt asked, "You look as if you've seen the devil himself."
He then he let out another stomach-curdling laugh.
The dark man with the scarecrow hat reached into a pocket, pulling out a pearl handled thirty-eight revolver.
He looked at the man in the gray shirt and spoke in a low deep voice, "Kill him, we have much to do."
He then tossed the revolver into the air. The gray-shirted man dropped the satchel, and the gun twirled in the air, almost in slow motion. He caught the gun on the way down, but the satchel popped open, spilling its contents onto the padded carpet. There lay a pile of blank copier paper. Not one single dollar bill came out of the satchel.
Woody never even noticed. He was talking to himself about changing his life and asking for forgiveness.
"It's too late for all that Woody." the man with the gun exclaimed, pointing the snubby barrel at his head, point blank, whilst smiling wildly.
Woody looked up at him; his eyes were glazed over with tears that would never be. The gunpowder exploded, sending a lead slug traveling at fourteen hundred feet per second to penetrate the richly pampered forehead of the now former District attorney of New Harbor. His body fell back, landing prone. His arms flopped out over his head, and his legs folded back underneath his butt. Crimson blood trickled down his forehead and pooled in the corner of his left eye. His other eye remained open. He lay there nearly dead in his Armani suit.
The last thing he saw was the man in the gray shirt pointing a gun down at his face and speaking, "I've been planning this for months. I'll thank JT for giving me the opportunity. Oh, I'm sorry; he probably won't live long enough for me to tell him. As for you, don't worry, my friend, he will take care of you now."
Two more shots were fired.
The dark man placed his hand upon the shoulder of the other and softly, sadistically spoke, "Good job, but next time don’t shoot the head, I could have used that one.”
The tall man stood over the body still pointing the gun down, wishing he could do it again, but knowing he couldn’t as smoke drifted out from the barrel of the thirty-eight. The man in the black hat opened his hand to reveal a small yellow ball. It looked like candy, about the size of a milk dud. The gray shirted man took it, smiling like a child who had just pleased his father. He popped it into his mouth.
After a few seconds the dark figure asked, “Can you feel it? The power!”
“Yes Apollyon, yes!” he answered, swaying back and forth on his feet.
Apollyon whispered softly into his pet’s ear, “It is both the end and the beginning. The time draws near; you must be ready...now let’s find that flash drive”.
Osborn Tepes emerged from a sliding glass door, outside into the sweltering sunshine. He pulled down his aviators to cover his squinting emerald eyes. Sweat was already forming into droplets across his thick brow.
He lipped the words, "Damn! It's hot as fuck!"
The heat reminded him that he needed his shaggy blonde hair cut and that in the future he should not park so far away from the door of the Food King. He strolled across the parking taking notice of all the carts not put back. Lazy fucks.
It was unusually hot for late October, but lately the weather had been unpredictable. Temperate waves rose from the asphalt in tendrils with each step. Not only was the Sun blazing, but the air was humid, so looking sharp in khaki slacks and a loose green long sleeve shirt did not last long. The cloth clung to his sticky six-foot frame, outlining his medium, yet, muscular build. An attractive young woman took notice of his person, but he did not notice her. He never noticed such things, even though they happened more often than he would have ever believed.
Named Osborn after the rock star Ozzy Osborn, most people just called him Oz. He was a very modest and intelligent man, living the reclusive life of a petty drug dealer. This is not the life he had chosen for himself, but nevertheless, this is where he was. He was not without a longing desire to change his life and make something out of himself. He always felt something deep inside calling to him, something of great importance, but he has never come close to an answer for this nagging feeling. Sometimes the feeling would be so strong that he felt like he would have his answer. However, each time he felt like he would achieve some clarity, it would float away like a feather in the morning breeze.
Weaving through the crowded parking lot, fishing in his pocket for the keys to his car, his thoughts turned to something disturbing that Tasha, his ex-girlfriend, had told him that morning. He had run into her earlier. She was out getting coffee, she looked like she had been on a bender. Tasha had told him about a shooting on the West Side of New Harbor, the murder of someone important, but she was so messed up on pills and weed at the time she heard about it that she could not remember who this important person was. She said it was last night...Friday.
Her version of the shooting surmised that it was a drug deal gone bad, “I just wish I knew where the drugs were now.” she added with a devilish smile.
How much of what Tasha said was true was still debatable in Oz’s mind. Tasha loved the gossip, and the high-class, old town of New Harbor was a sin filled cesspool. The gossip spreads like hot butter, contributing to the place in society that Oz had reluctantly taken. He was considered a blight on the town by most.
Honestly, he knew she was mixed up in some heavy drugs. Although he was a small-time pot dealer, he wanted no part of a woman strung out on coke, meth, crack or worse.
Just thinking of a grisly murder made him subconsciously rub his gold crucifix that he had around his neck, the necklace was a token from his mother. The "murder" as Tasha put it, did not disturb Oz, but the details surrounding it did. He had been dealing small amounts of marijuana to the ritzy snobs on the West Side of town for years. This part of town was known as “Pill Hill” because of all the Doctors who live there. Pill Hill was also home to Lawyers, wealthy businessmen, and even some thespians. Even more disturbing to Oz was the fact that he had been there last night ... making a deal, right there on the hill. Who could have been killed? The question lingered in his mind as he walked and a salty bead of sweat ran down his forehead, dropping off his nose. Could it have been Maranda Laboyet? She was the star of the 1974 flop film “BLUE I IS”. No matter who it was, Oz had a bad feeling about the whole thing, and he knew that most murders around New Harbor occurred on the other end of town, the east end. This was especially the case concerning drug deals. And he, a socially unacceptable person in the eyes of the Local elite snobs, was in the area that very night. This could not be a good thing.
He found his keys amongst his last twenty-dollar bill and a roll of wintergreen lifesavers, retrieved them, and unlocked the door of his cherry red 68' Camaro. Flipping up the ignition key, he fired up the sweetly tuned and powerful three fifty engine. It cranked easily. He wanted to switch the A/C to high, but it was out of freon. He listened to the beautiful purr of the classic muscle car for a moment, soaking up the comforting sound. He rebuilt the engine himself and he was very proud of the way it ran.
Listening to the radio was not possible; Tasha had taken the liberty of kicking the stereo into oblivion when Oz informed her of his intentions to break off their relationship. She took it hard and decided that several kicks from a long stiletto heel was the necessary reaction.
After letting the small block engine warm up, he eased out onto Main St. He then gave the accelerator pedal an extra tap, just to hear the tires squeal a bit. He smiled; he was proud that the old 68' did not disappoint him. The Camaro let out a short screech from underneath the fifty series Goodyear tires.
Apparently, a short tire squeal had been too much for New Harbor Police Officer Raymond Shlodsky, whom had been sitting across the street in his patrol car ever since he spotted Oz's car in the parking lot.
Oz saw red and blue lights dancing in the rear-view mirror. A much too familiar feeling of cop loathing crept into him. Quickly, he began searching for his dope stash; he needed to hide it, pronto. His hand moved slowly, so not to alert the cop. He reached his hand inside the console, then under the seat. That is when he remembered that he had left it with Tasha who was heading home and had invited him over. She wanted to get a pinch and roll herself a joint while he went and got her a watermelon. She always wanted watermelon when she was high. She also loved to do other things while under the influence, so he decided to take her up on the offer. Oz felt relieved because he was clean. He pulled the car gently to the curb in front of a small pawnshop.
Over the PA, the officer’s voice shelled out, "Into the parking lot Tepes!".
Even though the distorted voice sounded like the man was eating the mic, Oz knew the voice. He shook his head and squinted his eyes, not in anger, but in disgust. It was like when a fly lands in your fruit loops. He killed the loud motor, rolled down his window, and eased back into his Ricaro seats. Just what kind of bullshit would Shlodsky come up with today, he wondered.
This jerk must have a homing device on my car.
Oz watched in his rear-view mirror as Shlodsky placed his cock-sucker hat over his greasy jet-black hair, and then he climbed out of the patrol car. He adjusted his overloaded gun belt, crinkled up his long skinny nose in a domineering sniff, and approached the driver side window. He was a skinny man with narrow shoulders, exemplifying the typical little man complex, but he had a real mean streak.
"Well, if it isn't Osborn Tepes? I said to pull into the parking lot. Are you stupid or hard of hearing?" Raymond said, leaning into the driver side window. Before Oz could answer, Raymond huffed, "License and registration please."
"You know it’s all good Raymond, you checked it yesterday and the day before, and god only knows how many other times."
"I'm just doing my job!" Shlodsky snapped, ripping his standard cop issued shades from his face. Pointing his bony finger into Oz's face, he continued, "And the name is Lieutenant Shlodsky! Get it straight."
Oz and Raymond had known each other for years. Both men had grown up in New Harbor; they attended the same schools, Raymond one grade ahead. They even had the same first job at the now closed Cinema Two. Even back then, Raymond had an unsubstantiated hatred for Osborn. He tried to get him into trouble on more than one occasion. His hatred intensified during Raymond’s senior year at New Harbor high when the younger Tepes soundly whipped him in front of most of the school. It was for a good reason. Raymond had told the manager at the cinema that Oz was a drug pusher and Oz was promptly fired.
"Don't you get tired of this, Officer Rrrraymondo! Every time you stop me, it is the same thing; you have nothing, find nothing, and you must let me go. Well go ahead and search my car. Let’s get on with it so I can get going."
"This is my scene and I decide what gets done, not you! I decide when you go, not you! Keep the attitude and I'll call in the K-9 unit, which could take hours. Not to mention, you would probably go to jail. Do you want that, smart-ass?"
"Go ahead, I like dogs!" Oz said with a smile.
"Don't push your luck wise-ass; I'm going to write you a citation for illegal start from stop."
Oz was becoming tired of this hassle, "Just get on with it, I've got things to do."
Silence fell upon the two for a moment. Oz decided to ask a question that would probably open a can of worms, but when it came to Raymond, he kind of enjoyed turning the screws a bit just to watch Raymond get his panties in a wad.
"So, just what happened last night over on pill hill?" Oz inquired of the ticket writing Shlodsky. "I heard somebody got shot." Oz scratched his blonde go-tee and looked up with his best I'm your friend face.
"Boy, you know that's official police business! Why do you care anyway? Maybe you had something to do with it.”
Oh brother, the can is open, and I forgot my pole.
However, his reaction did confirm to Oz that a murder had taken place in the well-to-do neighborhood.
"Where were you last night Tepes?"
With his best James Cagney impression, Oz replied "Are you takin' me in coppa' cause I'm not talkin' see."
"I could you know?" Raymond responded quickly with the look of a child arguing on the playground, still living in the past, and trying to get payback for years of being picked on. "If I wasn't meeting the chief, oh, and the mayor for lunch." he boasted, "I would haul you in for interrogation, but I know you. You’re a piece of shit, but probably not a killer. I don't suspect you have the cojones for it."
Dressed in his police blues with his badge polished and sparkling in the sunlight made Raymond look much more respectable than he really was.
He pulled a toothpick from behind his extra-large ears, "You had better watch your step Tepes, ‘cause I'm watching you, and I am waiting for that slip up that we both know is coming." He stuck the toothpick in between his tarter-ed teeth that had earned him the malicious nickname, “butter-teeth” in high school. A look of success came over his face, as if he had done something important.
He then strutted back to his patrol car and got in. Oz watched in his side mirror. Raymond was looking in his own mirror, but not at what was behind him. He was looking at himself. He put his dark blue milkman hat back on the passenger seat, gave himself a little smile, and drove away.
Oz sat and laughed. Raymond, in all his glory, forgot to give Oz the ticket he was promised.
“Bye, RAYMOND, hurry now, wouldn't want you to miss your meeting with the mayor. Poor ol' butter teeth." Oz said to himself.
After another short laugh, he stomped the accelerator. Spinning his tires, he sent hot rubber and white smoke into the steamy afternoon air. The car fish-tailed out onto Main St. He was headed for Tasha's place.
Officer Bill Weaver, New Harbor Police departments chief of detectives, stood, staring at a dry erase board. One hand was wrapped around his chin, the other around a brand-new marker. He was thinking. Working hard on a piece of spearmint Dentine, his mood was poor, he was trying to quit smoking. His back was turned to a room full of blank faced rookie detectives. He began thumbing through a file folder that contained information on a new case, a murder from the night before, one that was going to shock the community.
All the new detectives in the classroom had put their time in on the streets but this was different from being a patrolman, see a crime, interrogation the witness and suspects, hook them up when needed. With investigations, you had to think, and be intuitive, a detective had to put down his emotions and go with facts and evidence, then put themselves into the mind of cold-hearted criminals, which could be hard for some, all the students wouldn’t make it. Bill was here to weed out the ones that were going to go a different route from the hardnosed detectives he was looking for. Some would go to a desk, some back to the streets and some would go home.
Of the six student officers, five men and one woman, Joey Munson, age twenty-eight was the youngest. He had grown up in New Harbor, then worked eight years on the streets of Philadelphia as a patrolman. He had grown tired of the big city and missed his hometown. When he heard that the New Harbor police were hiring several new officers and detectives thanks to a big budget increase spearheaded by Mayor Vernon Peterson, he applied for a job and three weeks later he received a letter from Bill Weaver congratulating him on being accepted as a new detective trainee at NHPD. He packed up and came home, home to New Harbor. He would find that things here would be different but no easier, the town had changed from the quiet, rich little town of his childhood to a town of corruption and violence. He was excited that he’d get to reconnect with old friends and family, at the same time not so enthused about seeing others.
Officer Munson was sitting up looking attentively at Bill Weaver. The room was cold and dirty, large with only one small window in the back making it drearier and intimidating. He was nervous and had a lot of wild thoughts zooming around in his head, was he going to fit in with the older detectives? Would they accept him? Being from a big city department, Joey expected a not so warm welcome, but he could not pass up the chance to come back home and work. He pondered if he had dressed right on his first day out of a cop uniform; tan slacks, white dress shirt, dark blue sports coat, highlighted by a red tie with various Loony Toons on it.
“Hello!” Weaver said, snapping Joey back from his nervous daydream. “For those who do not know me, my name is Bill Weaver, chief detective, and your boss. For now, you will all report directly to me concerning any police matters unless I tell you otherwise.” Bill turned around and was now facing the group. He was balding and appeared to be in his early fifties. His look was cold and emotionless, but he gave off a feeling of goodness, reminiscent of a Paladin. “I know you all assumed we would be doing paperwork and a lot of classroom training before you were put in the field…Well you’re not. We will do plenty of that in due time. So much you’re probably going to hate me. But I don’t care! I just want to make damn good detectives out of each one of you. I believe the best training is on the streets and with recent happenings I am going to give you all something to break you in.” There came an uneasy feeling to most of the green dicks, all but Joey, he relished the idea of getting out of this classroom and doing some hands-on work. Bill looked down at the manila case file on the table and continued speaking, “If you didn’t already know, District Attorney Woody Yates was murdered last night in his home. He was shot at close range three times in the head. Half an ounce of marijuana was also found, contained in a cellophane bag, in the room near where the body was discovered. The bag had three usable fingerprints on it that did not belong to Mr. Yates. Prints one and two belonged to this man.” Weaver held up the mug shot of a Hispanic man; the man looked less than trustworthy. “This is Hector Rodriguez, a thirty-five-year-old suspected drug dealer. His hometown is Brownsville Texas. We believe he brings drugs up from Mexico and supplies the local dealers. We think. He was picked up early this morning at the Holiday Inn south of town. He has a strong alibi; he was at the Brass Box from around eight p till two A. That’s a strip club downtown, two of the dancers vouched for him. One bartender also remembers him, said he was spending a lot of money. He refuses to tell us anything. Now, that leaves the one print left on the bag, unfortunately they are still unidentified. In other words, ladies, we ain’t got shit!”
The one female officer in the room, seamed offended by Weaver’s comments but Weaver neither knew nor cared. He was from the old school, the cliched School of Hard knocks. Political correctness took a back seat in his training and if anyone tried to tell him otherwise, he would probably quit right there.
Joey felt butterflies in his stomach. He knew that he should have eaten breakfast, it was already one in the afternoon, and he hadn’t even had a chance to choke down the ham sandwich he had brought for lunch. Some of the other recruits were fumbling with note pads, some just stared dumbly. Joey decided to jot down the high points, thank goodness he remembered his notebook.
“Now we are going to look at this case a little closer, let’s not speculate. We do not assume anything. We know,” Bill said turning and talking as he wrote on the white board at the front of the room.
FOUND BY MAID AT 5AM. FRONT GATE WAS OPEN
TIME OF DEATH APROX. 11PM
NO FORCED ENTRY
POSSIBLE DRUG INVOLVEMENT
CLOSE RANGE WITH A THIRTY-EIGHT
“Now does this little bit of information give any clues?” Bill asked then turned and gazed out at the room full of young, dumb faces. He noticed one hand slowly, go up, unsure.
“You in the back, stand up.” Bill directed and gestured with his hand.
“Joey Munson sir.” Joey said, while getting to his feet and nervously flipping his tie up and down on his chest.
“Oh yes, boy wonder from Philly. The chief there had good things to say about you Munson.”
“Thank you, sir.” Joey said looking down, his light brown hair falling into his eyes.
“That wasn’t a compliment.” Bill immediately responded. A few of the other recruits laughed under their breath, all glad it wasn’t them standing there.
“Tell me your theory.” Bill asked without a change in his stone-cold expression.
Joey’s face was becoming flushed with hot blood; Weaver had already embarrassed him in front of his peers, exactly what he wanted to avoid.
“Well, it seems the killer,” He began with a shaky voice, then cleared his throat, “Or killers, probably knew Mr. Yates. And I would say that it was quite possibly, just set up to look drug related, I mean, why not take the drugs with you!”
With a slight smile forming on Bill’s face, the first sign that he was human, He said, “Now explain your conclusions.” He subconsciously placed his hand back on his chin.
Joey cleared his throat again, then began again, “No struggle and no forced entry is almost always a sign that the victim knew his assailant or assailants. “Joey’s voice becoming steadier as he talked.
“Good.” Weaver interjected, “Class notice how Mr. Munson did not assume there was only one perpetrator, which is something we do not know at this time, go on.”
“Well, also I find it unusual that the drugs were left behind if that’s what it was about, who knows? That’s not much Pot to kill for, unless you were desperate for something else like crack or something.”
“Would anyone like to add anything?” Bill asked the group.
Another eager newbie raised his hand. Bill gave a go ahead nod to the rookie.
A young man well dressed with dark hair stood, “John Lott, Sir.”
“Go ahead.” Weaver said.
“How do we know the drugs were involved in the killing at all, for all we know it fell out of someone’s pocket.”
“Another good point.” Weaver seemed pleased.
John looked over at Joey with eyes of resentment, as if he wanted to be the best in the class and didn’t want Joey to interfere with those plans.
“You can see that with just a little evidence many scenarios can form. We must try each scenario and rule them out until only one remains. It will be your job to find out what is fact and cipher it into a working theory. He was pleased, thinking that this bunch might not be as dumb as they looked. He stopped to roll up the sleeves on his light blue button up and get a sip of coffee. The mug said “BIG CHEESE” on the side. Joey suspected it was a gift, Weaver did not seem like the kind of guy to go in for trivial knick-knacks. In fact, Joey figured he didn’t have much for a sense of humor either.
The silence in the room was broken by nervous chitchat; some talked about the case, some just talked. Joey took the time to glance at his note pad, clean it up a bit, just in case Weaver wanted to see it. He didn’t want to get embarrassed again so soon.
“Listen up!” Weaver bellowed. Although small in size he was very intimidating. The room became tensely quiet. “The murder scene, Mr. Yates's home, has been kept intact, I want all of you to make a walk through, starting tomorrow morning. Get with officer Shlodsky and he will assign you each a time to go. You will each ride with a patrolman and at no time shall you do anything without asking me first. You are an observer for now, so be careful. I do not expect any of you too solve the case I just want some good feedback. Let’s meet here at the same time in the morning before you all start you walk through. Oh, and for god’s sake don't touch anything.” Weaver turned to leave the stale classroom.
“Same bat time, same bat channel.” A voice joked. Apparently, some rookie trying for a laugh, not intending for Weaver to hear.
Bill slowly and deliberately turned around to face the small group. “LISTEN UP!” Bill barked with wall shaking force. “There will be no wise cracking or grab assing in my class, people’s lives depend on what we do. Two weeks on your couch, eatin’ Ruffles and watching The Price is Right will be the only thing gained from that crap. Do you all understand?” His face stern and serious, holding back a rage no one in that room wanted a part of. His balding head had one large vein down the middle of his forehead; it was distended and pulsating.
A soft, “Yes sir.” Came from the crowd of rookies.
“One more thing, there’s been another body found without a head, A young transient woman. That makes ten this month. This case has no leads; the killer has no apparent M.O., except for taking the heads, just random killing. I know you are rookies but read the case file, any help will be appreciated. Now get your butts to work studying these cases. I know it’s Saturday...get used to it.”
Oz drove south on Government Street; it was around one in the afternoon. In the distance he could see junky trailer. The heat was almost unbearable, so he unbuttoned his shirt, trying to cool himself. It didn't help much, sweat glistened off his chest.
He pulled up at Tasha's poorly kept home, a large rut in the dirt driveway bounced the old car as it made its way up to the house. Oz knew it was there and usually slowly went around it but his mind was elsewhere. Tasha’s small worn out mobile home was just on the edge of town. It was on the south end of town, the bad end. It sat on a quarter acre lot that looked abandoned. The grass and weeds were grown up around the place covering up the hole filled dry rot skirting. It obviously had not been attended to for some time, most of the weeds were almost as tall as the trailer itself.
Tasha met Oz at the door. She must have heard the loud rumble from his custom exhaust. She was wearing an old white tank top and a pair of gray sweatpants that looked like she had painted in them more than once. Her long brown hair was matted to the left side of her head, she had just woken up from a long nap. Even her normally beautiful blue eyes looked bad, they had a funny dull yellow tint. She was quite attractive, but you could hardly tell by the way she kept herself lately. One of the things that made Oz so miserable while they were together, she just changed, turned lazy and showed pure apathy for life. That's why, last month Oz called it quits after two years. The drugs and her general poor outlook and attitude were just too much for the more levelheaded Oz. He still cared for her and spent time with her, not sure how to completely give up something he had become so accustomed to.
“Hey baby cakes.” Tasha said quietly.
"You look like shit.” Oz said walking up the wooden front steps, making sure to hop over the third wooden plank. That one had a bad habit of tossing people into the weeds.
"When ya' Gunna’ to get that step fixed? Somebody's gunna’ to get killed."
"Yeah, well maybe it will be me." Tasha whispered in a sleepy voice.
"That's what I’ve always loved about you, your wonderful outlook on things." He said scratching his go-tee, “I can see the yard man didn't come this week or should I say this year." Oz sidestepped Tasha and went inside where at least the air-conditioning worked.
"Up yours! Where's my watermelon?" Tasha growled out playfully then lit a cigarette that she retrieved from the elastic waistband of her sweats.
"They were...." Oz began then stopped and began again "Hey, did you find out who got shot over on the Pill Hill last night? The one you told me about this morning." Neither had a smart phone, oz didn’t want one, he wasn’t a social person and Tasha, well, she just traded hers to one of the local drug dealers.
Tasha said, "No, but the paper boy just threw, maybe there’s something about it in there." Then she plopped down on her worn out sofa. "Where's my damn watermelon?"
The sofa was a lime green colored, cathouse style, long with a slight curve, probably valuable at one time. The rest of the decor inside the trailer was lacking in a few crucial areas, taste being the main one.
Oz looked out the window of the aluminum door, "You mean he actually throws a paper to this hell hole? How does he find it?" Then he stepped out the door to retrieve the paper.
"He is my little brother, butthole!" Tasha yelled at Oz as he vanished out the door.
Oz waded out into the jungle Tasha called a lawn and began looking for the New Harbor News. An old shoe, a rubber bone, a hubcap off an old Chevy, three yellowed newspapers, ah, there it was, lying in a bed of fire ants.
“Perfect.” he sighed.
Just as he bent to pick it up, the sound of a cars exhaust drew his attention. The exhaust was irregular from a leak, near the manifold Oz suspected as he listened with his keen mechanic ear. Looking up he saw an old white Impala, barely moving north on Government in front of the trailer. The windows were dark tinted preventing him from seeing the driver. The unkept classic pulled to the curb directly in front of Tasha's house and stopped. Oz felt uneasy and just stared at the car, not recognizing it as anyone he associated with. After a short delay the passenger window began to slowly come down.
“Oww! Shit!” Oz cursed under his breath and dropped the paper. A couple of courageous soldier ants had left the untasty old newspaper and made their way to his more edible hand and bitten him. He retrieved it and knocked off the remaining ants.
Oz looked back to the car; he could see the blue bandanna someone wore sitting on the passanger side. Most likely a gangster dew rag. The window continued down, almost in slow motion; a strange uneasy feeling came over Oz. He eased over behind his car for some cover just in case. The window was now completely down revealing a young black man, he couldn’t make out the driver. The man seemed to just ignore or not even notice Oz. The car just sat for what seemed to Oz like an eternity, but it was actually exactly one minute. Then the passenger snapped his head and looked at Oz, like he knew he was there all along. Their eyes locked momentarily; the man raised his arm to reveal an automatic pistol of some kind. He stood his ground, not revealing to the man that he was scared shit-less. The unknown man slowly pointed the gun at Oz, holding it sideways, gangster' style. Oz, still partially behind his car began to sweat once again. His heart raced, glands pumping, the hair on his neck began to stand on end like it always did when he was scared and although not appropriate, he was becoming somewhat excited. Strangely it was almost a rush he began enjoying the sensations. That feeling that he was more, that he would always do more came over him. Oz now void of all his fear stepped out from behind his refuge almost daring the man to shoot him, looking at him with his head cocked sideways as if to taunt the gunman. The Young man just smiled; he had a gold tooth in front. He mouthed “bang bang!” then the car suddenly accelerated and sped away. The man continuing to point the gun until the car was out of sight. Oz watched until he felt they were not coming back, with paper in hand. After a minute he suddenly felt relief and walked back into the trailer.
Tasha was still on the couch; she was brushing her hair and it made a big improvement on her appearance. She was transforming from beast to beauty. “What the fuck took you so long?”
"You have some real nice neighbors Tasha. Do you know anyone with a white Impala?" Oz asked. He was still feeling a slight adrenaline buzz from the incident outside, he realized how stupid it had been to dare the thug to shoot him.
"What's an Impala?" Tasha asked dumbly.
"Nevermind." Oz answered.
Tasha lit a joint that she rolled from the bag of weed he had left with her, then said, "What are you talking about? All I want is my watermelon. So where is it?" After a long draw off the joint Tasha offered it to Oz.
Oz said, "Please girl, you know I don't touch that stuff, it makes me stupid." He sat down and rolled the rubber band off the New Harbor News, opened it and there it was in bold letters on the front page, "DISTRICT ATTORNEY WOODY YATES MURDERED IN HIS HOME." And off to the left in smaller letters another headline read, "HEADHUNTER CLAIMS TENTH HEAD THIS MONTH! TOTAL IS NOW TWELVE." Oz never noticed the second headline. After reading about Woody Yates. He became flush as his heart rose into his throat. The hair on his neck stood up for the second time in as many minutes.
"Do you know who it was that got shot?" Oz uttered in a weak trembling voice. Tasha looked puzzled, probably from the dope.
"It was Woody Yates!" He blurted out.
“Woody Yates has my watermelon?"
"No dummy, he got killed last night, murdered, the D.A., listen," Oz began to read the article.
"DISTRICT ATTORNEY WOODY YATES IS DEAD AT THE AGE OF 45. DETAILS ARE SKETCHY AT THIS TIME BUT SOURCES TELL US YATES WAS SHOT SOMETIME LAST NIGHT. "
Oz stopped reading. His hands were shaking too bad to continue, his heart again was pounding in his chest.
A queasy feeling came over him, he felt like he was going to blow his biscuits and gravy. His mouth began to water, his face turned pale white, and he broke into a cold sweat.
"What's wrong baby? You look sick." Tasha said appearing genuinely concerned.
Oz grabbed Tasha by the forearm, choked down the urge, refusing to vomit and said, "You told me it was a bad drug deal, when Yates was killed, how do you know that?" He slid his hand down her arm to her hand, looking into her eyes. Hoping the answer to his question would ease the feeling causing his distress.
“You’re starting to scare me Oz, here take a Valium, it will chill you out." Tasha held out her thin arm and opened her hand revealing a small blue pill, the letter "V" was cut out of the middle.
"The Real thing too. I told you I don't touch that kind of crap,” He managed a smile, "I just sell it. Tell me why you said it was a bad deal, did someone tell you that?"
"Yeah, but you gotta’ give me another joint, if you want to know who."
"OK, what the fuck ever, just tell me!" Oz yelling a bit, he appeared desperate and not in the mood for games.
Tasha sensed something about Oz's serious behavior, something genuinely frightened him, and she straitened up in her seat trying to be a little more serious. Then she said, "It was J.T., he came by to give me these V's this morning."
"Tasha, this is very important, tell me exactly what he said?”
Tasha popped the Valium into her mouth then grabbed a coke from her cluttered coffee table. She found it in between an empty bottle of aspirin and an ashtray that was overflowing with cigarette butts and already chewed gum. There also was a small wooden box with a pentagram engraved on the top with a miniature pad lock hanging in front. After washing down the pill she began, "Look, he just asked me if I had heard about the murder over on the West Side last night. He said it was on Pill Hill. I told him no. He said, well some rich dude got popped during a drug deal." She paused. "Said he was like a judge, or something like that."
Oz said, "No. He was the D.A. Is that it?"
"Yeah...Oh, he mumbled something about it was all a bad idea and he wanted no part of it, or something, I wasn't really paying attention you know how he babbles on endlessly about shit."
Oz fell back on the sofa and placed his hands over his face.
"Why do you care so much anyway dude, you know something about it?"
Oz opened his hands and peeked out at her with the most serious look she had ever seen from him. Oz knew Tasha well, she was messed up, but he felt he could trust her.
"All right listen. You can't tell a soul about what I'm going to tell you, all right?"
"O.K., O.K. " she smiled with a perky enthusiasm about what he could possibly say.
Oz speaking softly said, "I was at Woody Yates's house last night!"
Tasha put her left hand over her mouth to cover the gaping hole. She was obviously shocked by what he said. "What the fuck, why? What time were you there?" She asked in shock and intrigue.
Oz was still shaken up from the article. He picked up the paper. This couldn’t be, he thought slowly shaking his head, then managed to utter, "I'm not really sure, around ten maybe later."
Tasha began to look totally sober now. Her face was filled with worry. She easily took the newspaper from Oz's hand. He didn't even notice, his thoughts were twisting, trying to remember exactly what happened that night but under the stress of the moment, it was just a blur. He was tired that night. Tasha began to read the article then said, "it says here the last time he was seen alive was at nine thirty, by his staff when they left. That would mean..."
Oz cut her off, "Yeah, that would mean, I'm actually the last one to see him alive and that I'm going to be a prime suspect if anyone finds out I was there." His face no longer pale was now engorged with blood; his heart pounding so hard he could hear the thud if he had been listening. He sat down again and asked,
"What time is it now?"
She looked at her cheap analog watch, "Almost two."
He noticed Tasha’s skin on her exposed arms had a yellow tinted blotches running up them, "You need to start taking better care of yourself," Oz said still starring at her arms. "It looks like you've got jaundice or something." Her arms reminded Oz of his landlord's wife; her skin always looked yellow but usually more evident than Tasha’s. Tasha looked down at her skinny arms then rubbed her left arm softly, "Oh...Um, Well I've been...using a new tanning lotion, you know the kind that doesn't take the sun, it doesn't work very well on my fair skin." Then she quickly changed the subject. "What are you going to do? Maybe you should go to the police."
"No way!" He shouted out, "Them assholes downtown are already looking to put me away, first chance they get. That Raymond Shlodsky has filled their heads with a bunch of crap about me. No indeed no! I just need to talk to J.T., maybe I can find out where he got his information about Yates."
Tasha seemed to have lost interest; she sat down next to Oz on the couch. She snuggled up next to him, twirling her hair with her fingers.
"Do you mind if I hang here for a while?" Oz asked.
"No." Tasha said, then put her hand on the inside of Oz's thigh and gave a gentle squeeze, "Not at all." She got to her feet, "I'm going to take a quick shower, I might need some help reaching the hard spots ...um ...do you think you could help me out?" Tasha spoke softly, pulling slightly at her tank top, revealing her flat stomach. Oz grinned, it had been a while since he had slept with Tasha, but right now he needed anything to get his mind off his recent problem. Besides, sex is one department that he and Tasha didn't suck at.
Tasha turned and walked down the hallway that led to the bathroom, then she looked back at Oz. Her natural good looks still shinned through, even with the rough lifestyle she had adopted. Oz got to his feet and returned her seductive stare the best he could. It seemed to have worked, Tasha slowly lowered her sweatpants revealing her light pink cotton panties and a well-shaped ass, then kicked them off into the bathroom. She winked at her prey and slipped into the bathroom, never taking her eyes off Oz. Oz got up to follow. He noticed for the first time the strange wooden box with the pentagram on the table. It was strange he had never seen it before, but he quickly blew it off and walked into the bathroom closing the door behind him.
About the author
I have always enjoyed writing and would love to hear what you think about my stories. I will post when I can.
Let me know if you prefer a few chapters at a time or should I wait till I'm finished and post the entire book?
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
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