Continued from Chapter 8.
About the time Susan Meyer was entering the court holding tank to meet with Clarence, Joe Amadiana was leaving Soosie Lee’s, a small bar located at the corner of Tenth Avenue and Broadway. It was the type of establishment that never needed the floors swept or mopped; when something hit the floor, if it was not absorbed by the years of accumulated filth, the cockroaches carried it away post haste.
Just as he had told Fahey, Joe had meant to go there for a pack of smokes, but the thought of a quick three fingers of well vodka to take the edge off had overcome his self-will. No need to start detoxing during this morning’s meeting. The bitter sweet beverage had the desired effect and Joe felt “well” again. A new wad of Big Red chewing gum, a fresh Camel and Joe was a new man.
As he headed the Ford Crown Victoria east on Broadway he did not hear the familiar early morning radio chatter of units clearing Code 7, the radio code for a meal break. Nor did he see any patrol cars parked at Hal’s Donut Haven at Twelfth and Broadway. What he did hear was an inordinate amount of radio traffic running warrant checks on car licenses and pedestrians. In the short trip to Central he saw no less than four police stops on cars and pedestrians.
It is a well-known fact in police circles that following the murder of a police officer, enforcement activity goes on overdrive. Woe is be to anyone who does not go along with the program. Police officers are looking for any reason to exact a bit of token revenge for their fallen comrade. Those who have contact with the police on a regular and frequent basis know this too. The normally belligerent, become passive, obedient and condoling. It is not a time to advise an officer knowledge of one’s rights, nor is it time to inform the officer that his or her taxes pay the officer’s salary. With an arsenal of over half a million federal, state and municipal statutes, one can be pretty much be guaranteed at least one statute has been violated by mere existence.
While a rookie may initiate a stop for crossing against a traffic light or littering, the true veteran may have occasion to demonstrate to the recalcitrant the far flung virtue of the law using far more creative means. Those cherished snake skin boots might just violate the endangered species act. A nonfunctioning glove compartment light may result in a citation. That old marijuana roach in the ashtray most certainly violates several state and federal statutes and can be followed by seizure and impound of the vehicle under zero tolerance. And heaven help the flatulent because manufacturing a noxious gas in a public place is a felony.
Ah yes, the public at large is in for a rough couple of days. You better be extra nice to us emotional cripples, thought Joe as he pulled into the station parking lot, noting the American flag in front of the station at half-mast.
He parked the company ride and walked into the underground receiving area to take the elevator to the sixth floor. When he reached his destination, he found a roll of black electrical tape on the unit secretary’s desk. Every badge he had passed already had a small band of black tape running horizontally across the middle, indicating the loss of an officer. He retrieved his badge from his waist band and placed a strip appropriately it. “No use standing out,” he thought out loud.
“Isn’t it terrible? I can’t believe he’s gone. He was such a nice guy.” Nancy Kilgore, the unit secretary, interrupted Joe’s alcohol buzz and reverie. He looked down at her vermillion hair, triple pierced left ear and the tattoo over her right breast, exposed by her loose-fitting blouse. Her nose and eyes were red from crying, the mascara running onto her cheeks.
“Yeah, an awful shame,” replied Joe, wondering how this ditz had ever passed the civil service written test. Rumor had it she had spent three nights studying for her mandatory urine test. “Where’s Fahey?” he asked, attempting civility.
“Detectives Fahey and Trudeau are in the line-up room with Sgt. Raines,” Nancy replied, stopping to sniffle and blow her nose with a tattered Kleenex. Continuing, she said, “Detectives Nunez and Robertson are back and with them now.”
“Thanks Nancy,” said Joe, forcing a smile. Just great, he thought, I don’t need Papa and Mother right now, referring to Salvador “Papa” Nunez and “Mother” Annie Robertson. He popped another stick of Big Red into his mouth as he headed for the conference room.
Nunez was the first Hispanic to graduate number one in the Police academy 20 years before. His attention to detail made him infamous for being obsessive to fault. This also helped in his private life. Believing he was the original Latin lover, he had married and divorced four times, resulting in twelve children. He never forgot a birthday or a child support check, which had earned him the nickname of “Papa” Nunez.
Nunez’s partner, Annie Robertson, was his senior on the Department. After 24 years, 22 assigned to investigations, Annie was one of the first woman officers to break out of the original status assignments for female investigators. At a time when the administration was still dealing with being forced to hire women, Annie had excelled early and been assigned to juvenile investigations. That, however, was usually the end of the line for a woman in investigations.
Unknown to the Department, Annie had attended night school at San Diego State University, earning first a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and subsequently a Master’s degree in Social Work. Drawing on the police reports that were public record, Annie’s master’s thesis addressed the effects of domestic violence and incest on juvenile crime. The thesis had been published and, much to the chagrin of the Department, was immediately snapped up by Police Departments and District Attorneys’ Offices nationwide as a training text. The Department, in recognition, had transferred Annie to the Sex Crimes detail where she had spent a major portion of her career.
Annie’s husband had left her during her first year with the Department and she had raised her daughter by herself. Now a junior at Vanderbilt, Annie’s daughter, Melinda, had made the dean’s list twice. With her daughter away at school, Annie had felt enough comfort in accepting Sgt. Tom Bach’s offer to join his team and keep the unusual hours of a homicide investigator. Homicide was where she planned to finish off her career.
Unfortunately, working so closely with Nunez, she had also earned the unflattering moniker of “Mother” Annie. The nickname was reserved, however, for only the most senior of officers and absolutely none of the administration.
Joe entered the line-up room slightly off balance and bounced off the door jamb. Only Colin noticed and shook his head.
Fuck you, Fahey! thought Joe, wishing for just one more vodka to get him in the right frame of mind. He plopped down into one of the blue vinyl chairs surrounding the conference table, strategically one seat away from Colin, two from Annie, and across the table from Sergeants Raines and Bach.
“Nice of you to make our meeting,” said Raines eyeing Joe.
“I told you to tell them I needed a pack of smokes,” replied Joe accusingly, turning with his hands up toward Colin.
“I did,” said Colin, looking first from Raines to Joe and back again.
“Never mind,” said Raines, “it is not important. Go on, Annie.”
“Joe, Colin briefed us on your thoughts about what happened, jealous boyfriend, revenge, and all. That’s pretty much what Sal and I think. As for Pete Castillo, I think we can all agree wrong place, wrong time.”
“The only obvious latents we found,” continued Salvador Nunez, “we found out afterward, apparently belong to Wicked Wanda. Even the machete was clean.”
“I’ve got Nancy typing up Annie and Sal’s notes. She’ll give them to Shelley when she’s done,” said Tom Bach.
“That should make some interesting reading,” interjected Joe, as everyone looked at him. Realizing no one had got his attempt at humor, he quickly added, “I mean Kilgore’s interpretation.”
“Shut up, Joe,” said Raines quietly. The rest of the room averted their eyes, obviously embarrassed by Joe’s inappropriate comment. Joe held his hands up in surrender and sat back in his chair.
Ignoring Joe, Tom Bach continued, “Unless Shelley needs any immediate help, I need Annie and Sal to finish up the Boveau-Cohen investigation and get it over to the D.A.’s office so it can be filed. They’ll be available for any questions.”
“Is that okay with you, E?” inquired Scott Raines.
“Sure, I’ve got a butt-load of stuff to put together. It’s going to take me all day. Joplin will be back soon anyway and he can give me a hand on the diagrams.” As an after-thought, she added, “Did you see the scratches on the faces on the two inside? Do you have any idea what caused them?”
“I thought they were fingernails at first,” said Annie, “but they’re too small.”
“I think, and this will probably sound silly, but they look like…like cat scratches,” added Nunez.
Colin almost blurted out, but restrained himself, “Or chicken scratches.”
Joe could not contain himself. “Yeah, let’s tell the press the KGB Chicken is our prime suspect, ” he said, in reference to San Diego’s unofficial sports mascot, having got its start with the local radio station of the same call letters. Shelley suppressed a chuckle while the two sergeants simultaneously raised one of their eyebrows in that “sergeantly” way.
“What are you two talking about?” asked Joe in a demeaning tone.
“Well, it kind of just came to me,” continued Colin, unfazed by his partner. “There is a rooster on the coin you found, Joe — maybe the scratches and the coin are linked. I don’t know, I was just throwing it out.”
“Cuz he’s a voodoo chil’,” sang Shelley.
“That is enough,” Scott Raines laughed softly. “He might have a point. I have not had a chance to research that coin yet. But for the time being, keep with the concrete…and no one talks to the media except the lieutenant. Understood?”
There were quiet nods of agreement as Annie and Sal gathered up their notes and left the room with Tom Bach.
“Now, what have you got as far as witnesses?” asked Scott Raines.
Colin quickly leafed through his notes as Joe poured a glass of water from the pitcher at the center of the table.
“Well, aside from the transvestite who found the coin, not much…other than pinning down the approximate time Pete was shot.”
“That’s not entirely true,” interrupted Joe, “What about the wino?”
“Oh, yeah, I forgot,” snorted Colin. “Mr. Calvin Brown did observe a female CIA agent who has been pursuing him in the area at the time of the murder.”
“Look, like I pointed out to the rookie, which I can assume none of us here are,” Joe said, looking at Colin and then at Shelley, “it is not what ol’ Calvin thought he saw, it is what ol’ Calvin actually saw. Just maybe there was some woman there at the time of the murders.”
“Right, Joe, some woman hacked the girl in half,” interjected Shelley, thoroughly pissed off at Joe’s insinuation of her lack of ability.
“I’m not saying that a woman did the deed,” said Joe quite pleased he had achieved the desired effect. “I’m not even saying a woman was involved. What I am saying is, Calvin probably did see someone leaving the area, and maybe we have a suspect, maybe we have another witness. But at least,” and Joe referred to his notes, “maybe we should be looking for someone who may be or may just look like a woman, with short hair, leather jacket, levis and boots. By the way, it is just about all we’ve got.”
“Joe is right, and I know it does not narrow things down much, but at least it is sufficient information for an all units broadcast, so the troops will have something to go on. Everyone feels pretty powerless right now and they are waiting for some direction from us until we have more. Joe, see to it that the partial description gets to dispatch. For F.I. purposes only at this point.” Joe nodded, making a quick note. Scott Raines continued, “Any I.D. on the two victims inside?”
“Not yet,” said Colin. “Joe and I agree the guy was in the joint, probably Quentin. I thought we could take a Polaroid shot over to state parole and see if one of the agents can I.D. him. If they can, then maybe we can find out who he ran with.”
“Good. Meet the Flash at the coroner’s office and make sure he gets some good Polaroids before he leaves,” replied Sgt. Raines. “That will be your first task. What about the owner of the Spike?”
“Nothing on that yet. The business license showed a corporation as the owner. Joplin has that info,” answered Shelly.
“Okay, when Carl gets back I will put him on that. I will check into the occult connection and see if I can come up with anything on the coin. Unless there is something else, let us get to it. Let me know as soon as you find out anything.”
With that, the remaining detectives gathered up their notes and left the room. Colin purposely took his time and as Shelley and Raines left the room he called, “Joe, hang on a second, let me grab my stuff.” Joe stopped at the door, looking bored and impatient.
When he was sure they were alone he asked, “So, how was Soosie Lee this morning?”
Having anticipated something from his partner, Joe replied, “She’s fine, in fact she’s wondering when you’re gonna pay her a visit. She says you’re not 86’d anymore, so long as you don’t piss on her palm tree or shit your pants hanging on to the bar.”
Colin knew Joe was expecting him to blow up, but he was not about to give him the satisfaction. “I know I wasn’t a pretty drunk…”
“That’s for sure,” Joe interjected.
“That’s not the point,” continued Colin, “the point is you were drunk when you showed up last night and you had such a jones on that you had to get well before you came here. Jesus, Joe, you’re killing yourself. You are one of the best street detectives around, but you’re a real liability. It’s not just me, it’s the whole fucking division.”
“Look, buckeroo,” said Joe, putting his finger into Colin’s chest, “when and if I think I’ve got a problem with drinking, I’ll let you have first crack at curing me. That should get you a few points with your little AA cripples. But I don’t. You did, but I don’t. And until then, back off.”
“Now…I believe Scotty has a couple of tasks he wants you and me to complete, so why don’t you call the coroner’s office and arrange for the Polaroids of both the inside victims. You guys seem to have forgotten that just maybe the girl may have had some run-ins with the law before and maybe she’s on parole too. Or didn’t you sober, God-fearing folks think of that? Well this ol’ drunk did, amazing, huh?
“If you can do that by yourself, I’ll call dispatch and give them the partial description, so at least the troops will only be jamming up citizens with leather jackets, levis and short hair, instead of every poor fuck who ventures on to the street today and has the misfortune of coming in contact with one of our brother and sisters.”
Joe blew himself out. Colin stood motionless, his face impassive. They stared at one another, neither one ready to make the first move. The tenuous partnership had been splintered. They both knew from here on out they would be nothing more than two detectives riding in one car.
“I’ll call the Flash and have him meet us,” said Colin pushing past Joe.
It was time to go their separate ways. Colin was not going to transfer out of homicide, but he was not going to ride with or care about this asshole drunk any longer. He was going to have to go to Raines.
He knew what he had to do. It would, however, have to wait. Not today, there was just too much going on. Tomorrow, yes, tomorrow would be better. Everyone would be fresh, it would be best to talk to Scott then, just get the whole situation out in the open and let Scott handle it.
Joe is not my responsibility, he told himself, I have got to look out for myself.
He sat down at his desk and dialed the coroner’s office from memory. As he did so, fate was about to deal Homicide Team Four its first break.
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