The Eightfold Fence Ch. 03

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The chronological order of my stories is as follows:

Todd he was just grateful she had been perfect in her aim on this night.

She was looking down at him and he said “I’m okay.” He heard her gasp “Thank God!” then she went back inside the building, only to reappear moments later and come up to him as a crowd was forming. She slipped the 9mmP pistol into his hand, which he made sure to hold to put his prints on it, then pocketed it.

“We need to call the Iron Crowbar.” Daniel said after ordering everyone to stay away from the bodies, and checking to see if they were still alive: they were not.

“An excellent idea. I couldn’t agree more.” said a tall, titian-haired man in a trenchcoat and full-brim hat and carrying a red crowbar, as he came up behind the Allgoods. I walked past them and begin examining the bodies for evidence as the crowd began chattering about my presence there. I was not surprised to find the total lack of IDs, but a set of car keys on a ring with a push-button-lock fob was in the pocket of one of the men.

“Anyone see anything?” I called out. “Please come forward if you saw anything that could help us.” No one did; they’d all rushed out from inside the gym and the shops of the strip mall.

Two Town therefore, I was making it clear who was in charge. “You guys do crowd control, try to get this crowd to disperse.”

A few minutes later, Sergeant Rudistan and Senior Patrolman Morton arrived, and I quickly put Rudistan in charge, to McCombs’s silent chagrin. I bagged the pistol and gave it to Rudistan, then asked Daniel to come with me. I first took out the car keys I’d taken off the perp and pressed the ‘lock’ button. Nothing happened.

“Okay, let’s try the parking lot across the street.” I said. We crossed over, followed by Melina, and I pressed the ‘lock’ button twice. A car horn beeped. It was a car in the middle of the lot.

“Let’s check it out.” Daniel said, moving forward.

“Hold on, Sheriff.” I replied, literally holding him back. “We need to see if it’s booby-trapped. It’s not like perps to bring their car keys with them; they usually put them on the tire under the side-paneling.” Daniel nodded as I got on the radio and asked for Sergeant Seymour to be brought to the location. Sergeant Seymour was an outstanding explosives-sniffing dog.

Fifteen minutes later, Sergeant Seymour and his handler arrived. I gave Seymour a good petting, seeing as I love spending a few moments with members of my K-9 Corps whenever I can, and thinking that I should get a dog myself. Laura would kill me if I did, but it’d be nice to have a dog.

Then Seymour’s handler had him sniff all around the suspect car as well as other cars nearby. He detected no explosives. Still, I asked everyone to stand back as I approached the car myself.

“Okay,” I said, unlocking the door, “let’s see if there’s anything of interest in here.” I slowly lifted the door handle and then opened the car. No explosions greeted me; always a good thing. I quickly searched the car. There was nothing inside the car nor in the trunk, but there were some airline tickets in the glove compartment.

“Hmmm,” I said. “From the City to Birmingham, Alabama… through Atlanta.” I added: “There’s an old joke that when people in the South die and go to Heaven, they have to change planes in Atlanta.”

“It’s no joke.” said a voice behind me. FBI Special Agent In Charge Jack Muscone walked up to us. “I’ve gotten to know every inch of Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta over time.”

“What brings you here, Jack?” I asked as Jack shook hands with Daniel and Melina.

“We got a lot of chatter in Atlanta about something going down.” said Jack. “The two guys who are now being transported to your morgue came up on our search of flight manifests between Atlanta and the City. We got their car rental and then had to get a warrant to trace the GPS in the car, and I just got here, but obviously late for this party.”

“Glad you’re here, all the same.” I said. “Okay, let’s wrap this up. Sheriff, you’ll have to give a statement, probably to Rudistan unless Internal Affairs wants to have fun interviewing canlı bahis şirketleri their old boss. I see no reason why this won’t be called a ‘good shoot’, and quickly resolved.”

“Let’s go talk.” Jack Muscone quietly said to me as everyone went to work. “Somewhere private. Like my office here in Town.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It was late, nearly four o’clock in the morning of Tuesday, January 13th, when I got back to the Mountain Nest. Jack Muscone had come with me. Carole, Jim and little Daniel were asleep. Laura and Melina were talking on the sofa in the den by the warmth of the gas log fire in the fireplace.

“Daniel will be here soon.” I said. “The official record, which will be authored by me personally and reviewed by the Inspector General of the SBI, says that the Sheriff’s return fire caught the two perps dead center in their chests, killing them in what will be determined to be a ‘good shoot’.”

“We’ve been able to move quickly, and we got a lot of information.” said Jack Muscone. “The perps are so-called ‘good ole boys’ from Opelika, Alabama. Known to the FBI and BAFTE as gun runners for white supremacy groups. They left their wallets and cellphones in a locker at the City Airport; the TCPD Crime Scene team found the key to the locker hidden in the car, and I had my guys rush it to the City Airport. We secured not two but four wallets and cellphones.”

“Two of the IDs corresponded to the dead perps.” Muscone continued. “We put out an APB, and the State Highway Patrol picked up the other two guys, who were driving back to the City from here. We took them to FBI Headquarters in the City, and they pretty much started talking immediately. They were watching the Allgood residence, while the two that died were watching the gym, knowing the Sheriff would show up at one or the other location eventually.”

“Did they say who hired them?” Melina asked, her face showing nothing, dead to all but an intention to administer Justice…

“Yes.” Jack said. “They waived their rights to counsel and silence, and in separate interviews told us it was Harold Malone that hired them, that they’d been part of a drug-running scheme he was overseeing. Their stories matched, too. We checked their cellphone records, and a picture of Daniel Allgood was sent from a burner phone in Malone’s home county in Alabama.”

Laura and Melina nodded, then Jack said “Laura, can I talk with you in the kitchen for a moment?” They went into the kitchen and I sat down by Melina.

“Good shooting.” I said quietly. “As always, of course.”

“What makes you think it was me?” Melina asked, trying not to grin mischievously.

“As I said, these two guys had bullets in the dead-center of their chests,” I replied, “and Daniel can’t hit the side of a barn, so sorry. But someone else I know… can.”

“Too bad I had to shoot them.” Melina said. “They sounded like good white guys.”

“I think you did the right thing.” I said. “It was your husband they were shooting at. Of course, in all those years nobody tried to shoot your ex-husband…”

That got me a slap on the shoulder, but Melina then said “Tell me this: your face looked skeptical while Jack was telling us Harold Malone is behind this. What do you really think?”

“That this is way too sloppy.” I said. “Malone was careful about cell phone use, and he knew all the dead zones when he was here in Town. And those two surviving perps were a bit too eager to talk about Harold Malone. He may indeed be behind trying to kill Daniel, but there are some… strangenesses.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“So,” I asked my wife as we got ready to go to work without bothering to go to bed, knowing that we’d have to catch naps on our respective office couches to catch up on sleep, “can you tell me what Jack Muscone wanted to discuss with you?”

“Sure.” Laura said. “Jack said they got onto these guys so quickly because of their white supremacy connections, but they also have another connection that hasn’t really shown up before: gun-running. These guys have been using gun shows as cover to transport weapons all across the South, including canlı kaçak iddaa Texas and Oklahoma, and the Midwest. He wants me to check some connections through my CIA contacts.”

“And why does he want my favorite CIA officer to be checking on this?” I asked. Laura got my meaning: this was a domestic thing.

“Because international gun smuggling is the forté of our friend Henry R. Wargrave.” Laura replied. I needed to hear no more to connect those dots.

Part 7 – Councilman Reginald B.F. Lewis

“Next is Councilman Reginald B.F. Lewis.” said Cindy Ross to Phyllis. “He represents the mostly-Black regions of Town. He fancies himself the local version of the Reverend Jesse Jackson, but I know personally that he’s not respected by the real power players of the Black Community.” Cindy was remembering the Iron Crowbar’s meeting with ‘T-Square’ and the shadowy figure known as ‘The Teacher’.

“I believe my son was speaking directly with Councilman Lewis during the conversation with the eight people in the room.” Phyllis said.

“That is correct.” Cindy said. “I asked Don if Lewis was part of the subterfuge, but he said Lewis wasn’t, that he used Lewis to get the information out to set his trap. As to Lewis himself, he’s good at trading political favors in a way that he gets what he wants, but the other side may or may not get what they want. He also makes sure that his constituents provide him with cash in exchange for favors… like that crooked pharmacist Abel Fillmore that recently got thrown to the Federal dogs. Last but certainly not least, Lewis is quick to throw the race card if he feels it’s to his political advantage.”

“So do you think he’s our Crime Master?” Phyllis asked.

?”I’d think it’s the ‘Teacher’ guy before I’d think it was Lewis,” Cindy replied, “but there is no doubt that Lewis is well-connected, could arrange for one group to do something for another group and in a way that helps himself. I can’t count him out…”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“This is Bettina Wurtzburg, KXTC Channel Two News!” blared the lovely redheaded reporterette at 7:00am on Tuesday, January 13th. “Channel Two News has learned that the attempted shooting of Sheriff Daniel Allgood last night was committed by known white supremacists from Alabama. It is not clear why our Sheriff was targeted, but the FBI took two other men into custody last night, and are holding them in the City. The FBI is giving no further information at this time.”

Bettina then rehashed the attempted murder of our Sheriff as the screen showed a parking lot full of blue lights flashing on police cruisers. She ended with this scalding line of remembrance: “This is not the first attempt on Sheriff Daniel Allgood’s life in the past year. He was wounded in a home invasion while running for Sheriff last year, and has been targeted by assassins in the past…” I listened as Bettina rehashed old news, wondering why she was bothering to do so.

Unfortunately, the lovely redheaded reporterette was not finished. “Channel Two News has also learned that one Nicole Stanton, a resident of the City, was found dead over the weekend in the resort Lake Amengi-Nunagen area, very near the property of former Town resident and business executive Michael Burke. The FBI was called into the case, as the murder was committed on Federal lands, but they have given KXTC no details of the crime nor of the progress of their investigation. As always, KXTC will bring you breaking news immediately. This is Bettina Wurtzburg, KXTC Channel Two News.”

“That leak has to be from within the FBI.” said Cindy Ross.

Martin Nash’s face showed skepticism at that. “Maybe, but the FBI is pretty good about not leaking stuff. And why talk about the Lake Amengi-Nunagen killing? Why leak that, much less report on it here locally?”

“Media Lady there really wanted to make sure to mention Mr. Burke’s name, too.” Joanne Cummings astutely observed. “Commander, what do you think? Commander?…”

I didn’t reply. I had just heard something I knew in my soul was important, and I was deep in a reverie…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Cindy canlı kaçak bahis Ross had called in and said she’d be late for work, citing a plumbing issue at her home. So my 8:00am meeting was with Lt. Perlman and Lt. Teresa Croyle.

“Lorena Rose has been tracking a drug ring that distributes through prostitutes. She’s gone undercover twice.” Teresa reported. “We cross-checked with the FBI on that girl that was murdered up near the Burke cabin over the weekend, but she wasn’t involved. Funny thing, though… the FBI is acting kinda funny about that case: nobody will discuss it with us, though they finally gave me what I wanted to know.”

“That may be because my nephew Todd is involved.” I said. “I think they’re trying hard to keep me, and therefore all of you, out of the loop. Don’t sweat on it, and keep me informed about Lorena’s investigation. Anything else?”

“I’m keeping Lorena as far away from Sharples as possible.” Teresa said. Lorena hates the guy anyway, calls him ‘Fat Ass’ in front of everyone, but he was asking someone else about what she was investigating. I called him out and told him that investigations other than his own were none of his business, but that only seems to have strengthened his resolve to find out what’s going on. Lainie in I.T. has put traces on Sharples’ computers and police cellphone, which Sonali has not been told about. Commander, I don’t know if I’m running a Vice Squad or a CIA cell, what with all the spy-vs-spy stuff.”

“I hear ya. Definitely keep Sharples away if someone is going undercover. Do you have a case for him to work on?”

“I thought about that.” said Teresa. “My first thought was to give him little-shit stuff, but then I had the idea to have him investigate some of the political corruption issues going on in the Tenderloin District. If anything might the Union to stop supporting Sharples, it might be him finding out something about their political patrons.” I could not help but grin at that one.

“We’ll see.” I said. “It’s a good idea, and if he goes to them and asks for payoffs, then we have a shot to get him there. At the same time, it all but puts him right where he wants to be. Oh well…” I changed tack: “Tanya, what do you have?”

“Internal Affairs has formally taken over the assassination attempt on the Sheriff, and plan to push it up to the County’s Inspector General’s office.” Tanya reported. “But even that is for nothing, as the FBI came in and basically shut us down the whole way around. And I’ve observed that our Police Commander needs a power nap after being up all night.”

“No doubt about that.” I said tiredly. I ended the meeting and the ladies left. A few minutes later I decided to walk down the hall to the Duty Desk to examine the written logs there, something I frequently did in order to keep abreast of the tactical situation in my County at all times. I was not meaning to eavesdrop, but a conversation caught my attention.

The door to Perlman’s tiny office was open and Teresa was inside the door. I heard Teresa say “We’ve been training for the marathon, but Cindy’s coughing gets worse every day. I finally stopped her this morning and told her to either go to the doctor or ease off for a few days…”

Why was I getting a feeling of foreboding about this? I wondered as I continued on my way down the hallway…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

At 9:00am I told Helena that I was taking no calls nor visitors unless it was a truly serious emergency. I then lay down on my sofa in my office and took a nearly three hour power nap.

I was going to call Todd and Jeanine and arrange to talk with them, but great minds must’ve been on the same wavelength because at 2:00pm Helena buzzed through a call from Jeanine. She and Todd wanted to talk with me. So I moseyed on over to her law office, where she and Todd were waiting.

“We received separate calls from the FBI this morning.” Jeanine said. “They want to interview us, formally, about Nicole Stanton’s death.”

“Okay, what’s the issue?” I asked.

“I called Jack Malone about it.” Jeanine said. “He said it wasn’t his team on it, that it was some special team the Deputy Director assembled. What Jack might not have known is that I’m familiar with this kind of ‘special team investigation’… these guys have a way of probing where they shouldn’t, and trying to create guilt rather than simply investigate it.”

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