Continued from Chapter 27.
Colin was awake before the telephone rang at his apartment. Scott Raines had relieved him at the hospital around three o’clock and sent him home. He had to return to Thrashers to get his car, and was less than pleased that some over-zealous rookie had seen fit to leave a parking ticket on the windshield. Apparently he had parked in an area restricted for late night parking and in an effort to increase the city’s revenues, had become the object of a bored patrol officer. He would turn it over to the Department; hopefully some administrator would see fit to have it dismissed.
He had arrived home shortly after three thirty and crawled in beside Claire and slept the sleep of the dead until six fifteen. The mere sounds of joggers quietly padding by on the boardwalk below had been enough to alert him to the new day. Claire was already up. The distinctive sound of the coffee mill grinding fresh coffee beans came from the kitchen. He lay in bed, relishing the warmth of the flannel sheets and heavy comforter. The aroma of French Roast coffee drifted in from the kitchen.
When the coffee maker ceased its burbling and he heard Claire enter the shower, Colin rose from the bed, pulling on a pair of worn sweat pants and an old chocolate brown Aran Island sweater. He made his way to the kitchen and poured himself a mug of coffee. The curtains in the living room were open and the sight of the ocean beckoned him. He walked out onto the balcony and sat down on the haggard director’s chair. The sky was crystal blue; no remnants of the storm were to be seen on the horizon. A light offshore breeze blew across the turquoise green waves, sending sunlit sheens of diamond-like drops back over the tops. The snow white foam of the waves surged up the sand, grey from the soaking of yesterday’s rain.
Colin thought back to his conversation with Scott Raines at the hospital. He had told Colin he was relieving Joe from duty. Colin had not been surprised. Joe was dangerous. No one was quite sure what had happened in the alley, least of all Joe. Scott Raines and Colin both agreed that Joe had handled the whole situation poorly and that he was lucky to be among the living. What could have possibly possessed Joe to go running off after two, maybe three, suspects with no back up and no radio?
The search of the area revealed no other suspects. From what Joe had said, the girl had gone over the fence. In the darkness they found no evidence of her flight. They would have a canine unit check the area in the morning. At least everyone was sure Joe had not shot the unarmed suspect. The wounds were not consistent with Joe’s .38 police special, but rather a hot round from a magnum.
The ringing of the telephone interrupted Colin’s reverie. Before he could rise from the chair, he could hear Claire’s muffled voice from the kitchen. He watched from his seat. It was apparent from her expression and body language that it was for him. He waved and got her attention before she went to the bedroom looking for him. She brought the receiver of the cordless telephone to him. She was dressed in a light silk robe which blew gently against her body. Her hair hung wet at her shoulders and she had yet to apply her make up. She really was beautiful he thought to himself.
“Good morning, good lookin’,” she said, covering the mouth piece. She bent over and kissed him gently on the mouth before handing him the telephone. “It’s a Sergeant Bach?”
Colin nodded at the recognition of the name. “It’s Morgan’s sergeant.” Claire returned to the kitchen to freshen her coffee.
“Morning Tom,” said Colin.
“Hello, Colin. I know you’ve only had a couple of hours sleep, but we’ve got a situation.” Tom Bach hesitated. “Seems a patrol officer has located the Volvo you all are looking for in the Valley at the Motel Seventeen. They don’t know if any of your suspects are around so they just have it under surveillance for now. Do you think you can get over there?”
The news had thrown off the last vestiges of sleep. “I’ll be there in fifteen minutes,” said Colin.
“Jessop is already on his way. I still have to call Scott and Shelley. I’m sending my team, but I’d appreciate the extra back up,” said the sergeant apologetically.
“No sweat,” replied Colin, “That’s what they pay us the big bucks for.”
“Thanks, Colin,” said the sergeant and hung up.
Claire had returned to the balcony and was doing her best to pout when she heard Colin say he had to leave again.
“I’m sorry, beautiful. We are very close. I think we’re about to wrap this thing up,” said Colin.
She took his hand in hers. “I know, I’m just worried about you. Can’t someone else do this, I mean…”
“No, they can’t,” said Colin sternly and with a finality that the discussion was over. He never talked like that to Claire; he was stressed, too much being thrown at him, and he did not have time to sort it out for someone else. She looked hurt. “I’m sorry. I just have to wrap this up. We’ll talk tonight. You’ll understand, just bear with me, okay?” He took her chin in his hand. He kissed her as she put her arms around his neck and held him tightly.
“I love you,” she whispered into his ear.
He squeezed her close. “I have to go.”
He released her and walked quickly to the bathroom. He stripped and quickly showered. Toweling off, he went to the bedroom and took a dark green pullover shirt from his dresser and a pair of charcoal grey slacks from the closet. He grabbed a tweed sport coat from the closet and pulled it on. He clipped his badge and holster to his belt. Snatching his keys and wallet from the dresser, he prepared to leave. He found Claire waiting with a bagel and a mug of coffee. He smiled as he accepted her gifts and kissed her once again before leaving the apartment.
“I’ll call you at work,” he said as dashed down the stairs.
“Be careful,” she called. “Please, be careful,” she said quietly to herself.
The drive to the Valley was uneventful. Colin had selected an old Allman Brothers tape to get his juices moving. The band was engaged in the solo from “Whipping Post” as he pulled onto the freeway heading east to the Valley. The morning commute had only just begun when he passed under the Presidio towering like a sentinel over the west end of the Valley. As he approached the exit to Hotel Circle, he picked up the handi-talkie from the passenger seat. Fortunately, he had turned it off the night before and the rechargeable battery still had some power.
“Unit 21-23 Fahey,” he said into the microphone.
“Unit 21-23 Fahey,” replied the dispatcher.
“Unit 21-23 Fahey, I’m approaching Hotel Circle North, do we have a command post?”
“Unit 21-23 Fahey, go tac,” said the voice of Sergeant Peernot, ordering him to change to the tactile radio frequency.
Colin switched the frequency dial on the radio to the tactical frequency. “Unit 21-23 Fahey on tac.”
“Unit 21-23 Fahey, proceed to restaurant parking lot across from the golf course on Hotel Circle North.”
Colin was on the ramp to Hotel Circle North and was passing over the parking lot now. There were five patrol cars and four unmarked cars in the lot. Approximately ten officers were milling about.
“Unit 21-23 Fahey, ten four,” said Colin, setting the radio back on the seat. Colin pulled into the lot and parked. The lot was hidden from the motel down the street by several tall coastal oak trees.
Colin was greeted by Carl Jessop as he got out of his car. Carl looked bushed. His short Natural, usually combed tight, was particularly out of sorts. He wore a blue and gold jogging suit with “Chargers” across the back and a lightning bolt down the left leg. His deep brown eyes were uncharacteristically sleepy. He held a cup of coffee to his mouth as if trying to inhale it all at once through his nose.
“Good morning, homely,” said Colin with a grin.
“I believe the term is homey, white boy,” snarled Carl.
Colin looked Carl up and down. “No, I think ‘homely’ is more accurate this morning.”
Carl curled his lip.
Several feet away, Detectives Salvador Nunez and Annie Robertson were talking with patrol sergeant Buddy Clark. The sergeant looked more like a grade school teacher than a patrol sergeant. His disheveled salt and pepper hair, pencil thin moustache, black horn rim glasses and pear shaped figure hardly cut an imposing figure. He had a reputation of being soft spoken and thoughtful to a fault. He was, however, one of the most respected patrol sergeants in the Department. He was as fiercely loyal to his officers as they were to him.
Detective Robert Joplin leaned against the hood of a patrol car talking with an exceptionally short female officer. She was in the process of spinning some fabulous yarn as Joplin looked on feigning interest. A clutch of five patrol officers stood by their cars.
“Hey, Porkchop,” Colin called and waved as he spotted Rusty Mcgee among the officers. Rusty returned the wave.
Colin returned his attention to Carl, whose eyes were now shut.
“Did the search on the house turn up anything?” asked Colin.
Carl opened his eyes. “There wasn’t dick at that guy’s house…except,” Carl smiled, “we checked the mail box on the way out. And we found bills to two storage units. One up the road in Bay Park and the other all the way out in El Cajon. We got search warrants on both. The one in Bay Park is full of file boxes, paper work n’ shit, and a box full of cash.”
“No shit. How much?” asked Colin.
“About eighty grand,” said Carl, obviously very satisfied with himself.
Colin was amazed, “Dollars?”
“No pennies, all rolled up. Of course dollars, you dumbass white boy,” replied Carl sarcastically.
“Watch it Carl, that’s two “white boys” in less than five minutes. One more in the next hour and I get to file a complaint.” said Colin jokingly.
“Sorry, Colin, I’m running on about an hour’s sleep. And I have had it with white asshole storage yard managers watching to make sure I don’t steal nothing.”
“Apology accepted,” said Colin. “So what did you find in the other storage unit?”
“Just personal stuff,” answered Carl shaking his head. “We turned the stuff from the first unit over to the DEA. Looks like Mr. Jefferson’s into some heavy dealin’.”
They were interrupted by the arrival of Scott Raines. He had pulled into the lot with a sleepy-eyed Shelley who was still sitting in the car, trying to untangle herself from the seat belt. Scott Raines gathered everyone around.
“Good morning, Buddy. Would you mind bringing everyone up to speed?”
“Sure,” replied Sergeant Clark. “Officer McGee spotted the Volvo you were looking for at the north end of the Motel Seventeen parking lot. I’ve got two officers keeping an eye on it from the pro shop across the street. We haven’t approached nor have we contacted the Motel. That’s about it.”
“Good,” said Scott Raines. “I want Robertson and Nunez to check out the car first. I want to make sure no one is sleeping in it. When it is cleared, we will find out if it has been registered at the motel. If so, we will stake out the room and have the manager call and tell the occupant the car has been involved in an accident and have whoever is in the room come down. When they come out, we grab them. I want the patrol officers to team up with detectives and drive over in unmarked units and leave theirs here. There is no sense in having someone look out a window and see us coming. Any questions?” He hesitated, looking from face to face. “Good, let us roll.”
The patrol officers and detectives got in the six unmarked cars and drove the short distance to the motel. The motel had a covered parking area next to the lobby which easily accommodated the six cars. They were now out view from any prying eyes above. Nunez and Robertson walked the short distance to the Volvo parked by the river bank. They looked into the car as the other officers waited in the parking area. Nunez waved and shook his head, indicating the car was empty.
“Fahey, Jessop, E, Annie and Sal, come with me,” ordered Scott Raines. “The rest of you hold tight.” The six detectives then went to the lobby.
The desk clerk looked up in amazement as the detectives entered the lobby. This was certainly a diverse assortment of people so early in the morning.
“Welcome to Motel Seventeen, how may I help you this beautiful morning?” managed the clerk.
Scott Raines took the lead. Displaying his badge he said, “San Diego Police. We want to know who belongs to the silver Volvo out there. This is the license plate number.” Scott handed him a slip of paper.
The clerk looked at the paper and then to guest registry. “Here it is. Yes, the owner of that car is registered here.”
“Good,” replied Scott, “To whom and what room number.”
“Oh, I’m afraid I can’t give you that information unless you have a warrant or something,” said the clerk, trying to convince himself that was the way to handle things.
Carl stepped forward and reached over the counter. “Gimme that!” he growled as he grabbed the registry from the clerk. Carl looked down the columns. “Here it is, Leonard Jefferson, Room 314.” He turned back to the clerk and handed him the registry. “Thank you.”
Scott Raines gave the orders quickly and without hesitation. “Sal and Robert, you take the north stairwell. Colin and Carl, the south stairwell. E, I want you to make the telephone call when everyone is in place. Annie, unless you feel like running up and down stairs, I suggest you just hang here with me.”
“Hmmmm, run up and down motel stairs at seven in the morning or wait here and have a cup of coffee.” quipped Annie, with a wink.
The four detectives had already left and made their way to their assigned positions. The third floor had fire doors at either end of the hall. Colin quietly walked down the hall and found Room 314 on the west side. He took the newspaper from the floor and leaned it against the door. When the door opened, the paper would fall and the detectives could see it from either end of the hall. Colin made his way back quickly to the protection of the fire door. The heavy doors had a small pane of glass head high through which the hallway was visible. Colin and Carl had their radios turned down low when they heard Robert Joplin’s transmission.
“Unit 21-20 Joplin, we are in position on the north end of the hallway.”
“Unit 21-23 Jessop, we are in position, south side.”
“Unit 21-23 SAM, Ten-four, we are putting the call through now. Be alert.”
Inside Room 314 Leonard Jefferson had been up only a few minutes. He was preparing a cup of courtesy instant coffee and planning his day’s schedule when the telephone rang.
“Hello?” he answered.
“Mr. Jefferson?” said a female voice.
“This is the front desk, is this Mr. Jefferson?” said the voice.
“Yes, this is Mr. Jefferson.” he said, suspicion in his voice.
Shelley pressed him.
“Mr. Jefferson, I’m so sorry to bother you so early, but I’m afraid one of our guests ran into your car. You do have a silver Volvo with the license plate 3-K-T-D-4-8-8, don’t you?”
“Ah, shit!” barked Leonard.
“I’m sorry, I know it’s early, but I need you to come down and exchange information so our other guest can leave.” pleaded Shelley.
“Yeah, yeah, I’ll be down in a few minutes,” said Leonard, hanging up the telephone.
Leonard walked to the window and pulled back the curtain. There was the Volvo at the far end of the lot where he had left it. He could see no damage from his room, but then again it may not be much. He pulled on a pair of sweat pants and slipped on his shoes without socks. He grabbed the jacket from the chair and pulled it on as he headed for the door. He opened the door and the newspaper fell into room mildly startling him. He laughed to himself. As he stepped into the hall, pulling the door shut, he looked to the north end. He stopped. Was that a face that just darted out of sight behind the window? He looked south. A face passed out of sight behind that window. He was several steps from the room now. The face had not reappeared. He whirled around. He could clearly see the face of a Mexican looking at him from that window. He was being set up.
Leonard broke into a run back to his room, his keys still in his hand. He unlocked the door as the fire doors opened from each end of the hall and men came running towards him. He threw himself into the room, slamming the door behind him. He could hear the sound of pounding feet running down the hall as he slid the press-board formica dresser in front of the door. Shit, who was out there?
“Damn,” cursed Carl, “he made us.” He yanked open the fire door and began running down the hall with his pistol in his hand. Colin was right beside him.
“Unit 21-23 Fahey. The suspect made us. He’s back in his room.”
From the opposite end of the hall, Nunez and Joplin raced to meet them. The four detectives stopped a few feet from the door on either side.
Sal stepped forward, his pistol pointed at the door knob. Standing away from the door, he reached his free hand forward and rapped on the door.
“San Diego Police! Open the door!” shouted Sal, the excitement making his Mexican accent a little heavier than usual.
Inside the room, Leonard had already pulled the 9MM Barretta from the night stand. Yeah right, police, he thought. It’s Joaquin and his putos. He fired two shots at either side of the door.
Plaster flew from the wall outside.
“Chingaso!” shouted Sal as he threw himself to the floor, unharmed.
“OW! Shit! Motherfucker!” bellowed Carl as he grabbed his haunch, collapsing to the hallway floor. “Motherfucker shot me in the ass!”
He winced as Colin slipped an arm under him and began dragging him back to the relative safety of the fire door. They continued to aim their pistols at the door expecting Leonard to appear, firing. Sal and Robert sprinted back to their end of the hall.
They reached the stairwell without further incident. Colin eased Carl down, blood covering the buttocks of his jogging suit.
“I’m gonna kill that son-of-a-bitch!” he snarled.
Colin had returned to the small window and was now looking down the empty hall. “Where are you hit?” he shouted excitedly.
“He shot me in the ass! Oh man, ain’t this a bitch. He messed up my best jogging suit.”
“What the hell is going on up there?” came Scott Raines voice over the radio.
“Shots fired,” said Colin into the handi-talkie, trying to keep his voice calm. “Carl’s been hit. We’re back in the stairwell.”
“Hold tight. I’m sending up cover units.”
Leonard paced the room like a caged animal. His breathing was hard as he stared at the door, half expecting it to come bursting in. He looked out the window; the parking lot was still empty, but three stories down. He would never make the jump from this height. He looked around the room for a way to escape. His eyes fixed on the bed. He slipped the pistol into his waistband and began pulling the sheets and blankets from the bed.