The Dove and the Cockerel: Chapter 3

Continued from Chapter 2

Colin took the Tenth Avenue exit, heading into Downtown, south past Broadway. He came to a stop at Tenth and G Street. Looking west, he saw at least twenty police cars barricading G Street — four about mid-block, six at the intersection with Seventh Avenue, the remainder at the intersection with Eighth Avenue. All but two or three of the units had the red, blue and amber overhead lights activated, bouncing colors off the windows and walls of the surrounding buildings; something akin to an outdoor disco.

Two cars were parked mid-block on the south side of the street. The overhead lights were turned off, but the spotlights were on; one directed on the lifeless form of Pete Castillo and the other shining into the open door of a small store front.

Someone had run yellow plastic tape announcing “POLICE LINE – – DO NOT CROSS” the width of G Street. In conjunction with the wall of police cars, the tape was an additional warning to the curious to stay away. Colin had already placed his department identification card on the outside of his green wool tweed jacket. Even so, he was stopped by a stoic looking young officer as he lifted the tape to walk to the crime scene. The officer’s shiny new, brass name tag read R.L. Chambers. The absence of stars on the name tag, the crisp uniform and squeaky leather of his gun belt were further indices of Chambers’ rookie status. Colin was in mid-sentence explaining he was a homicide investigator when he was interrupted by another officer.

“He’s okay Chambers, let him on in. How you doing, draft dodger?” Colin turned to see Agent Gerald Mills walking towards him and Chambers.

The two stripes on “Uncle Gerry’s” sleeve indicated his status as an agent, a rank somewhere in the netherworld between patrol officer and sergeant. Mills had received his nickname many years before, due to his affinity for the music of the Grateful Dead and the band’s lead guitarist, Jerry Garcia. Mills’ hair had always been a little too long for department standards. That, along with his droopy walrus moustache and tendency toward the portly side, Mills was what Garcia may have looked like as a cop. Then again, maybe not.

Mills was two years older than Colin and had served a tour in Vietnam. Although the draft had ended the year Colin turned eighteen, Mills had benignly tormented Colin with the nickname “Draft Dodger” ever since they had met twelve years ago. Colin, not to be outdone, referred to Mills as “baby killer,” but only in private.

“I’m a little tired, Uncle Gerry. Who’s the supervisor in charge?” Colin replied.

“Lt. Jorgenson,” Mills said motioning toward a clutch of officers on the north side of G Street. “Lucky you, old Wicked Wanda’s acting like the queen mother tonight.”

“That’s why we’re staying way up here,” a voice from one the cars added. Inside the car sat Larry Richards, Mills partner.

Richards was the yin to Mills’ yang. In his late twenties and slender, Richards looked like the rock star, Sting. His short- cropped hair was too long for a flat top, and the styling mousse gave it a spiky effect. Mills smoked and drank coffee; Richards drank herbal teas and had at one time expounded on the benefits of the high colonic. They had been teamed together for almost four years and, despite their odd couple appearance, were known as felony cops — one of the better two- man units in the division.

Colin noticed that for all their serene bravado, Mills and Richards looked beat. Every officer responds differently to the loss of a fellow officer; anger and frustration are most common, but when there is no suspect, there is a tendency to internalize what they perceive as failure. Mills and Richards had seen the loss of enough officers through a variety of situations, on and off duty, and were just trying to keep up appearances.

“Thanks, guys, watch your back,” said Colin as he started toward the makeshift command post. During his career, Colin had been present at three on duty officer homicides. What immediately struck him as strange about this scene was the presence of Castillo’s body. There had always been extraordinary lifesaving efforts in every other homicide, which included taking the officer to the nearest hospital emergency room. This happened even when the officer was obviously dead. But there was Pete lying on the sidewalk in a clearly visible pool of blood. There was a paramedic van down the street, but he could see none of the telltale signs of first aid near Pete’s body: no gauze pads, no wrappers, no syringes.

“Over here, Fahey!” yapped Lt. Jorgenson, waving Colin toward the group of officers and detectives.

“It’s about time you got here,” continued Wicked Wanda, so named because of the similarities between her appearance and the comic heroine of Guccionne’s Hustler magazine.

It was well known that Jorgenson had achieved the rank of Lieutenant through her horizontal expertise with the previous administration and not her tremendous policing and supervisory skills.

I really don’t need your shit right now, Wanda, Colin thought to himself. Ineptitude is not suffered well in homicide investigations.

“Why is Pete still over there?” he demanded, addressing Jorgenson.

“I was third on the scene. I determined he was dead and there was nothing we could do. I ordered CPR stopped and set up a perimeter to preserve the crime scene,” snapped Jorgenson.

“You did what?” Colin almost shouted. “Listen, I know how you got those lieutenant bars, but I didn’t think the Department awarded you an M.D., too. What gives you the right to stop CPR, especially…especially on an officer?”

Jorgenson’s eyes widened and her voice came out almost as a shriek. “How dare you question my authority Detective Fahey … that … that’s…that’s incineration!”

“I believe you mean insubordination, Wanda, and I think it is probably more undiplomatic than anything else. Right, Colin?” a calming voice interceded from behind.

Fortunately for Colin, the voice belonged to his guardian angel, Sergeant Scott Raines, supervising sergeant of Homicide Team Four.

Raines had been Colin’s sergeant for the past two years. In fact, it had been Raines who had specifically asked for Colin to be moved to his team.

A 23-year veteran of the Department, Raines had been recently rated within the top five homicide investigators in the State of California. His abilities as an investigator and his ability to get along with others had put him in a position to work with a number of outside agencies. During his 14 years as a homicide investigator and supervisor, Scott Raines had also acquired a master’s degree in physiology and a doctorate in social psychology.

Scott Raines had one minor, yet obvious, personality quirk. He rarely, if ever, used contractions. To those unfamiliar with him, it was passed off as a reflection of a highly retentive personality. His friends and co-workers knew, however, this was just Scott Raines.

Scott Raines’ investigation was credited with the arrest of two suspects in a series of Shasta County murders several years before making him the equivalent of the Department’s star quarterback. When Raines asked the Department for something, he generally got it. This included a hand-picked team of investigators.

Colin had worked a detail temporarily assigned with Raines’ team before his transfer. Raines had been impressed with Colin’s crime scene reconstruction and interview techniques. He told Colin he wanted him on his team, with one stipulation: “Get off the booze. One drunk on the team’s enough.” Colin took it to heart. The order was more effective than any intervention could have been.

“Now Wanda,” continued Raines, “I have almost my entire team here, and so has Sergeant Bach. We have enough investigators to handle the scene. The media will be here in force soon and you are much better at dealing with them than me. I would appreciate you setting up a media command post away from the area and keeping those vultures out of our hair.”

Placated, and forgetting Colin’s insult, Wanda mustered, “Good idea, but you keep me posted, Raines.”

With that Wicked Wanda yapped a few more contradictory orders and went to make sure she looked her best for that hunk from Channel 12. Maybe she’d even be on CNN, she thought as she strutted away.

“You never cease to amaze me, Sarge.” said Colin, now cooled down.

“Grasshopper, it is sometimes better to keep quiet and be thought a fool, than to speak and merely confirm it. Do you think you can get through the night without ruffling any more of the peahen’s feathers?” replied Raines with one eyebrow raised.

“Fifteen seconds,” another woman’s voice piped in. “That’s a new record for pissing off a supervisor, Fahey.”

The voice belonged to Detective Shelley “with an E” Trudeau, the youngest member of Team Four. She was in fact the youngest officer ever to be assigned to homicide, just shy of seven years with the Department. Like Colin, Raines had been impressed with Shelley’s interview technique. Short and stocky, she joked she didn’t grow up, she grew out. Her athletic expertise, short dark bob haircut and tomboyish nature got her treated like a kid sister by the older officers. For some reason it also made the bad guys want to confess.

Shelley had been working special assignment with the Sex Crimes Division when Raines first ran into her. She had arrested a serial rapist in the act. Her 20-minute interview had concluded with him freely admitting to eight other rapes, cancelling the series. Over the next several months, her interviews and testimony were responsible for the conviction of 17 rapists and the cancellation of 58 sex crime investigations.

Shelley always introduced herself as “Shelley, with an E,” which had earned her the nickname of “E.” Shelley also kept her private life just that, private. After politely refusing the advances of an over amorous administrative lieutenant, it was rumored she was lesbian. After all, who could resist that mix of Grecian formula, Brylcreem, and Mennen aftershave? In retaliation, he had arranged for her transfer to the report writing team, in which officers took police reports over the phone. Known as the “rubber gun squad,” the assignment was reserved for Department personnel suffering from physical and emotional disabilities. It was generally considered the end of the line.

Citing a need for a woman in homicide to more accurately reflect the mandates of Equal Employment Opportunity, Raines had requested Shelley for his team. After initially balking at his request, Raines reminded the Administration of the potential of a discrimination and harassment suit. The end result was Shelley’s transfer and the eventual promotion and early retirement with full benefits of the lieutenant. Funny how that works, but it was all for the best. Over the past eight months, Shelley had proved her worth to the team time and again.

“Thanks E,” said Colin sarcastically, “I just can’t believe that bitch stopped CPR. Pete was a friend. I worked with him. You just don’t stop CPR and leave him lying on the sidewalk.”

“He was my friend, too,” said a deep, soft voice. “We rode in the same car for five years.”

Raines, Colin and Trudeau turned toward the voice and saw the huge man staring at the lifeless form of Pete Castillo across the street. Carl Jessop sighed and turned around to face the other members of the team.

Carl Jessop was not just big, he was huge. At 6-foot-4 and 290 pounds, his dark brown features made him that much more imposing. An exceptional athlete, Carl had played on the Department football team until a shoulder injury sidelined him. Before the annual Police-Sheriff football game, during a live pregame interview for a local television station, he was asked what his job on the team was. He quietly responded, “I hurt the other motherfucker.” The quote had become famous, much to the chagrin of the Department brass.

Appearance, however, is deceiving. Carl was the father of six and had been married to his high school sweetheart, Barbara, for nineteen years. He volunteered as an assistant coach for football at Lincoln High School in Logan Heights. In the spring he had coached three of his four sons’ little league teams, the fourth son opting to play that “silly-ass Mexican sport,” soccer. Even then, he was responsible for the post-game barbecues.

It had taken Carl three tries to pass the entrance exam for the Department and he had graduated third to last in his academy. He excelled, however, on the street. His ability to size up a situation, communicate and problem solve were noted by every training officer. He just could not write. At the urging of Pete Castillo, Carl enrolled and completed four semesters of junior college English. By the time he was through, he was correcting his supervisors’ reports. Carl was on Team Four when Raines had been assigned, and he was one of the two original team members. Raines had never even thought about transferring Carl out.

Carl was quiet and shaken. The team was hesitant about how to respond.

“Shit, you should see old Wicked Wanda prancing around up there, said Joe Amadiana as he arrived, shoving another stick of Big Red into his mouth and lighting up his sixth Camel of the early morning. “You’d think she was up for Fairest of the Fair. Okay, Scotty, I’m here. Let’s get this show moving. What’ve we got?”

The moment’s reflection broken, the team turned to the task at hand.

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Steve Burns

Steve Burns is a former cop for the San Diego Police Department and first introduced himself to the Free Press as a Sex in San Diego contributor. His 32-chapter novel, The Dove and the Cockerel, is set in the late 80s and takes place over the 72-hour period of an investigation of some murders. A new chapter will be published every Saturday.

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