Continued from Chapter 6.
Leaving the dark confines of the store and stepping into the bright morning sun, Colin and Joe shaded their eyes and watched as the coroner’s assistants loaded Pete’s body into their van. All they saw was a large frame enclosed in the black vinyl body bag atop a folding gurney.
Colin spoke briefly with Trudeau and the Flash, asking for additional close-up photographs of the blood on the sidewalk and of the scratches on the victims’ forehead, before heading down the block to Jessop and Toru.
Morgan Toru’s mother was an English school teacher who had immigrated to the United States. His father was a second generation Japanese farmer from the San Joaquin Valley. He spoke fluent Japanese, Mexican – not to be confused with Spanish – and the Queen’s English.
Morgan was a year senior to Colin on the Department. They had met on Colin’s first day alone on patrol in Western Division; on December 7th. Colin had been assigned as second car on the Beat 611, which was bordered by the San Diego Harbor. Morgan had asked for a meet with his new beat partner at Shelter Island, a man made “island” of restaurants, motels and marinas. Colin arrived to find Morgan sitting cross legged on the hood of his car, a white “rising sun” bandanna around his head. In his hands, Morgan held a silhouette chart of U.S. Navy ships, which he had been studying intently.
“Welcome aboard, round-eye,” had been Morgan’s greeting. To be known forever after as the “Harbor Bomber,” Morgan and Colin had been best friends since. Like Colin and Jessop, Morgan had also worked closely with Pete over the years. And as with Jessop, Sgt. Tom Bach had wisely assigned Morgan away from the immediate crime scene.
It was now almost 7:30 a.m. and most of the patrol cars had left the scene. Traffic, vehicular and pedestrian, had increased substantially outside the roped-off crime scene area. People slowed as they passed trying to see what the police were up to and whether or not it was important enough to inconvenience the morning commute. Two news vans, their satellite dishes pointed toward the sky, were parked at the north side of the intersection. A helicopter hovered noisily overhead. The respective news crews were filming Colin and Joe as they walked down the opposite sidewalk toward Jessop and Toru.
“Hey Colin…Joe,” Toru greeted them.
“Hey Morgan,” replied Colin. Joe nodded.
“We let the other three go, but kept this one,” said Jessop pointing toward the “woman” standing next to the patrol car.
“Fitzpatrick here took their statements,” said Toru motioning toward a young officer standing by quietly.
“Well, you waiting for an invitation or what?” growled Joe. “Let’s hear what you’ve got.”
The detectives smiled at each other as Officer Thomas Fitzpatrick opened his notebook, cleared his throat and began to read in a high-pitched nervous voice.
“The witnesses are identified as Mr. and Mrs. Ith Nguyen, Calvin Brown and Jonathan Silva, also known as Star A. Traction. He’s a known transvestite prostitute.”
“Really,” said Joe feigning surprise. “That would explain why he’s wearing a mini skirt, see-through blouse, stockings and heels. Go on.”
A little shaken by Joe’s interjection, Fitzpatrick continued, “The Nguyen’s were collecting recyclables approximately two blocks south, in the area of Seventh and Island around 0300 hours. They heard two explosions which they believed to be gunshots coming from the area. They proceeded north on Seventh until they reached G Street whereupon they observed the body of Officer Castillo. Mr. Nguyen left briefly to find a telephone, but returned when he saw Officer Charleston arrive. Neither Mr. Nguyen nor Mrs. Nguyen saw anyone in the area immediately before or after the incident.”
“Collecting recyclables, that’s sort of like trash pickin’, isn’t it?” interjected Joe. “What about Mr. Brown?”
“Mr. Brown is a known homeless person in the area. He suffers from the effects of severe and chronic alcohol abuse and I believe he is impaired in his ability to perceive reality,” said Fitzpatrick.
“You mean he’s wino?” clarified Joe.
“Well…Yes,” answered Fitzpatrick weighing the political correctness of the statement.
“What did Calvin the Wino see?” asked Joe.
“He, uh…well, he…,” stammered Fitzpatrick before he blurting out, “He believes that Officer Castillo was shot during an attempt on his life. That is Mr. Calvin’s, I mean Mr. Brown’s–that agents of the Central Intelligence Agency have been trying to kill him because of his connections with former members of the K.G.B. and the conspiracy to bring the Soviet Union back as a world power using the current civil unrest between the Bosnian and Croatian governments.”
Waiting for another sarcastic remark from Joe, Fitzpatrick looked skyward.
Instead of sarcasm, Joe just looked at him, nodded thoughtfully and said, “Officer Fitzpatrick, it is always important to listen to what people are saying to you, and not just hear the words. For example, I just asked you what Calvin the Wino saw, and you told me what Calvin the Wino thought was happening. It doesn’t answer my question. Now let’s try it again: Did Calvin the Wino see anything?”
Fitzpatrick hesitated for a moment and then said, “He told me he saw a female agent, code named ‘Scarecrow,’ shoot Officer Castillo. I figured it was a part of his ramblings and didn’t write it down. Especially after what I heard happened inside.”
“Maybe yes, maybe no. Did he give you a description of Scarecrow?” asked Joe.
“He said she changes her appearance, disguises he calls them, tonight she was wearing a black leather jacket, Levis and boots and her hair was short,” replied Fitzpatrick, speaking from memory.
“I’d suggest you write that down and put it in your Officer’s Report,” said Colin with a wink. “Where was he when this happened?”
“It wasn’t really clear, but it sounded like the manhole cover on the corner over there,” said Fitzpatrick, pointing to a large manhole cover from which steam rose in the morning sunlight.
Joe turned to Jessop and Toru, “Do we know how to find Calvin?”
“He’s been around quite a while. He’s a regular at the Mission. We can find him again, preferably a little less on the urine-feces side of odorous,” interjected Toru.
Joe turned back to Fitzpatrick, “Good work. I’m serious. I’ve known Calvin about fifteen years. He’s more lucid than most of us know. Now, how about Ms. Traction here?”
Toru took over. “Jonathan, or Star as his friends call him, admitted he was leaning over Pete’s body when Charleston arrived. He was working on F Street around three o’clock when he heard the shots. He heard the shots, walked around the corner and found Pete. He says he was checking to see if Pete was still alive. He’s acting a little weird though, more indignant than usual. What’ve you got, Joe?”
“I don’t know,” said Joe, eyeing Jonathan.
“Joe thinks something may have been removed from the area next to Pete’s body.” added Colin.
“Yeah,” continued Joe, “maybe something about the size of a penny or dime. Did you shake down Jonathan yet?”
“We took his purse, nothing in it, that’s about it,” replied Toru.
“Bring him over here,” commanded Joe. Fitzpatrick motioned Jonathan over to the detectives. He was wearing a simulated red leather mini skirt and a sheer peach blouse, black stockings and red patent leather spiked heels. As he sashayed over, he threw the long black curls of his wig back over his shoulders, exposing the garish make-up covering his face. To the unsuspecting late-night intoxicated john, Jonathan would have appeared to have been an unusually tall hooker, about a 6-foot-4-inch tall hooker. To the trained eye, however, certain tell-tale features were a dead give-away as to his true sex; large masculine hands, rock hard calf muscles and a large Adams apple. At this time of the day, Jonathan was also a sporting five o’clock shadow that would have made Richard M. Nixon look effeminate.
There was smeared dry blood on his knees, skirt and hands from where he had knelt next to Pete’s body.
“I hope you have a good reason for keeping me here,” Jonathan demanded in a husky indignant voice. “I already told three of you what I saw, which is nothing.”
“Well, sorry ’bout the loss of beauty sleep, but you’re gonna tell it one more time, sweetheart,” said Joe in quiet voice. “Now let’s start with your evening just before Officer Castillo was murdered, and give me all the juicy details.”
Sighing loudly and placing his hands on his hips, Jonathan began. “I was working over on F Street, this was about a quarter to three. I had just turned down a john who wanted to 69 for a hundred bucks. I didn’t think he’d like what I’d put in his face.” He paused, smiling coyly and waiting for a reaction. There was none.
Jonathan continued, “I heard these two loud bangs coming from over here. I knew it was gunshots, so I waited for a couple of minutes before walking over here. Lord knows I didn’t want to get shot.
“When I came up to that corner,” said Jonathan, pointing east and across the street, “I saw the officer lying on the sidewalk. I didn’t see anybody else right away. First that charming little couple came around the corner and then that smelly old man came up from his bed, I think he was sleeping on the manhole cover over there.
“I could tell those people hadn’t shot the officer, and I didn’t see anybody else, so I went over to check him. God, what a mess. I knelt down—there was blood everywhere—and looked at his face. He was dead. Then about that time, this lady officer walked up out of nowhere, frightened me half to death. She had her gun out, pointed at me. She screamed at me to get back, so of course I did. She checked the officer and then said something on her walkie-talkie and the other police started showing up a few minutes later. That’s it,” Jonathan finished, folding his arms over his ample falsies.
“So, what did you pick up next to Officer Castillo?” said Joe.
Jonathan’s mouth dropped in surprise. “Wha….Nuh…nothing,” he managed.
“Listen up,” said Joe. “As usual there are two ways to do this. First, I can arrest you, take you to County, strip search you and book you. And you will be the “star attraction” in the felony tank until we release you…or…” Joe’s voice went from business to pure malice, “you can quit fuckin’ with me and answer my goddamn questions, truthfully and immediately. Now what did you pick up?”
“OK, OK,” said Jonathan, obviously shaken, imagining the prospect of becoming the front end of a very long train. “There was a little coin or something, lying on the sidewalk next to the officer. I took it.”
“Where is it?” said Joe.
Jonathan reached into the belt of his skirt and pulled out a small bloody coin. “There,” he said, handing it to Joe.
“Thank you. That wasn’t so hard, was it?” asked Joe rhetorically. Jonathan remained silent, but shook his head.
Colin, Jessop and Toru moved closer to examine the object in Joe’s open hand. Some of the blood had been smeared off revealing a brass or copper coin, a bit larger than a penny. There was a small square hole through the center. On one side there was a rooster, wings and talons extended in a fighting posture. Joe turned the coin over. On the other side was five cornered star.
“What is it?” asked Colin looking from one detective to the other. Each shrugged or shook his head, acknowledging ignorance of the object’s significance.
“Well maybe it’s nothing,” said Joe, turning it over in his hand. “I’ll have Smith bag it, and Fitzpatrick, make sure you include Mr. Silva’s amended statement in your report.” Fitzpatrick nodded and pulled out his notepad and began to write.
“Can I go now?” asked Jonathan, his tall frame shivering in anticipation of a negative response from Joe. He looked to the others for mercy.
“Yeah, but make sure you call this number and set up a time to come to the station this afternoon.” said Joe as he fished for a business card, finding none. Colin pulled a card from his wallet and handed it to Jonathan.
“Don’t forget,” cautioned Colin.
“I’ll call as soon as I get up. Thank you, Detective,” said Jonathan smiling sheepishly, looking relieved. He turned and walked away, looking like what he was—a man in woman’s clothes.
“Are you about ready to wrap it up here?” It was Sergeant Raines walking up to the detectives. Not waiting for an answer, he continued, “E, Smith and the Flash are finished up with the initial scene.”
They all watched as the last two bodies were placed in the back of the coroner’s van.
“Nobody has been able to get a hold of the owner of the store. We will seal the store and post an officer in case he or she comes by. Is there anything I need to know about?”
“Just this,” said Joe handing the coin to Raines. “The night-queen picked it up next to Castillo’s body and, having a change of heart, gave it to us. Recognize it?”
Scott Raines looked at the coin for a moment, studying the images.
“Well, it is a coin of some kind, but not one I have ever seen. This looks like a pentacle on this side,” he said, holding it up for the others. “I’ve seen it before, when I was investigating some satanic rituals. Some high school kids were listening to music backwards and slaughtering cats. We found this type of five-pointed star painted in blood on the walls of one of their bedrooms. I have a couple of books on the subject back at the station.”
He handed it back to Joe.
“The chicken, I cannot tell you anything about it. I suggest we keep this little piece of information to ourselves. Whether it means anything or not, I do not want the media evoking the Anti-Christ for a couple of headlines. This one is already going to have sufficient sensationalism surrounding it,” Raines added, pointing to Wicked Wanda and the small army of media across the street.
“Unless there is anything else, I suggest we head back to Central and start putting this thing together. Toru, I already talked to Sgt. Bach. Take a couple hours off and meet us at the station this morning, around ten o’clock.”
Toru nodded his thanks, “Hasta la vista, Colin-son.”
“See ya’ later, Morgan,” said Colin as his friend turned and trotted up the street, hailing Joplin, who was giving final instructions to Smith and the Flash.
“I’ll catch you at the station, partner, I gotta stop and pick up some smokes,” said Joe to Colin.
“Sure, see you there,” replied Colin, knowing full well the stop would include one of the lower Broadway bars on the way. “Just take it easy.”
Joe looked at Colin with a cocked eyebrow. You don’t know what I’m gonna do, you self-righteous prick, he thought. He turned and walked to his car.
Colin and Raines turned toward Jessop who was standing, clenching and unclenching his fist, looking at the spot where Pete had laid.
“You okay, Carl?” asked Raines.
“No, I’m not,” was all Jessop said.
“I’m sending Charleston with the Chief to notify Pete’s daughter, Theresa. Do you want to go along too?” asked Raines.
“Thanks. I’d appreciate it, Sarge. I was thinking about my kids at home. Two friendly faces won’t stop her hurt, but I think it might help a little,” said Jessop. “He really loved that girl. He called her Palomita, it means little dove.”
“I know,” said Raines, “Go hook up with Charleston. We will see you at the station in a while.”
Jessop walked up the middle of the street, avoiding the spot where Pete had fallen.
“Colin, I need to talk to you,” said Raines as Colin began to leave.
Anticipating the subject, Colin said, “He’s not drunk. Hung over, yes, but not drunk.” Raines looked at Colin silently. “He was picking up on all the right things tonight. I missed that coin thing completely; he’s the one who found it.”
Raines nodded. “He is killing himself, you know. You are not helping him any by covering for him.”
“Scott, he has twice the street smarts as anyone out here. He is abrasive and pisses everyone off, but he knows his stuff. When it comes to his drinking, though, neither you, me nor anyone else is going to get him to stop until he is ready. I should know,” said Colin, unconsciously fingering the AA key ring in his pocket.
“Okay,” said Raines, “How are you holding up?”
Put off, Colin replied, “What? This or…”
“This,” Raines cut him off. “I know you are not drinking.”
“Truthfully? Not very well. This is about as bad as it gets. Pete was really well liked and he and I have quite a history,” said Colin, relieved to get away from the other subject. “Not to mention that slaughter inside,” he added as an after-thought.
“We will get whoever did this. Cop killers do not have many friends. I will see you at the station,” said Raines, giving Colin that reassuring tough guy look before walking off.
Colin watched as Raines moved off.
“Excuse me, Detective Fahey,” came a voice from behind Colin.
Colin whirled around. Fitzpatrick, obviously not wanting to be there, shifted from one foot to the other.
Angered, Colin started, “Fitzpatrick, what the hell are you still doing here?”
He caught himself, held up his hands, closed his eyes and opened them, calming his voice.
“You can go home, Fitzpatrick, just get your 153 to me ASAP, OK? Oh, and what you just heard, you didn’t hear, right?”
That was all Fitzpatrick needed to hear. “Sure,” he said as he made a hasty exit.
It was now almost 8:30 a.m. The cool night, had been fully replaced by a cloudless day that promised to reach into the high 70s.
Boy, would I like to hit the beach and get in a session for an hour or two, thought Colin. His mind raced to assimilate all that had transpired.
Colin returned to his car. Starting it up, he replaced Jim Morrison with a Tom Waites tape. Another cheery individual, he thought. As he pulled into traffic, Mr. Waites soulfully inquired, “You got to tell me, brave captain, why are the wicked so strong? How do the angels get to sleep when the devil leaves the porch light on?”
How indeed, thought Colin.
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