Pale Morning Light Ch. 02

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The chronological order of my stories is as follows:

Todd the Enemy’s action was swift in coming. Though Thatcher’s ankle monitor signal showed him to be at home, at 10:00pm that Saturday night I got a call to come to a home in Town where middle class people lived, including many police officers. I felt sick to my stomach when I heard the homeowner’s name. I rushed over.

I got to the scene and was met by Cindy Ross at the front door, her ice blue eyes blazing with suppressed fury. She led me around to the back yard. I took in a very sad scene.

Detective Joanne Cummings was sitting on the back porch, crying bitterly and uncontrollably, not caring a shred about decorum. Vice Detective Julie Newton was sitting with her, trying to console the young blonde woman. The owner of the house, who was retired canine Sergeant Laika’s handler, was also crying as I moved to the small cluster of officers. They were Crime Lab officers, with Tanya Perlman leading the gathering of evidence. As I approached she looked up at me, a look of deep anger on her normally cherubic face that I had rarely viewed before and did not care to see at any time.

On the ground I saw the object of the crime scene. Laika, the retired police drug dog, was lying on her side, dead. I shall not describe the scene here except to say that it reminded me of what had happened to Carroll and Blondie in the ‘Black Badge’ case. A crowbar lay on top of the dog’s body, black with a poor attempt to paint it red. A note was attached that read “This is for you, shithead Iron Crowbar. Come and get me.” and was signed “Bryan Thatcher”.

“The red paint was not fully dried.” said Tanya. “We’ve already photographed the prints and sent them to Headquarters. Definitely Bryan Thatcher. I’ve already called Paulina for a warrant to arrest him.” Everyone was looking at me, wondering what I was going to do.

I felt the anger welling up in me, a deep fury that cried for action. I wanted to leave this place and go over and use my real red crowbar to beat Bryan Thatcher to death. As my vision blurred, I felt my hand gripping my crowbar so tightly that I thought I might crush the thick metal.

And then… I made it back. I took a deep breath, exhaling long and hard. Another deep breath. I fought to bring myself under control and not let the emotions overcome me. I still gripped the crowbar, but now more for mental support. I had won the battle and conquered… conquered myself. The rest would be relatively easy.

Yes, I was furious with anger. But I also realized what the Enemy’s game was. The gears had been turning in my head since I’d seen Joanne Cummings crying. Oh yes, istanbul escort they were going to pay for this, but on my terms…

I quickly turned and found Sergeant Rudistan, looking anything but his normally jovial self, awaiting orders. “Sergeant, put out the word that no Town & County Police Officer is to approach Bryan Thatcher. Keep him under surveillance, but do not approach him. The Media would just love it if we did. We are not going to give them the pleasure of any attempt to entrap us into a brutality charge.”

“Sir, how are we going to arrest him?” Rudistan asked. The yard was utterly silent.

“We’re not.” I said. “I’m going to have the SBI do it.” I could sense the relief in my officers as they realized that I was under control and in charge, and that nothing rash was going to happen.

With that, I got out my cell phone. I called SBI Agent Ted Crenshaw and explained the situation, asking him to gather agents, arrest Thatcher when the warrant was issued, and to incarcerate Thatcher at either the State-owned Campus Police Headquarters or, more preferrably, the State-owned Asylum in Coltrane County. My officers began to understand as they continued their duties. I finished the phone call and hung up.

“How is it that Cummings was allowed to see this?” I asked Cindy and Tanya a few minutes later. They understood what I meant, remembering how I’d stopped Tanya from seeing Pete Feeley’s crime scene.

“She was the first Detective to respond when the call went out. She got here before we did.” Cindy said.

“Well…” I said with a sigh, “maybe it’s for the best.” I went over to Joanne Cummings. “You okay, Joanne?” I asked.

“No sir.” she replied sullenly. “I want to kill the bastard that did this with my own hands.”

“So do I.” I said. “But we’re not going to fall into the Enemy’s trap.” Joanne began to understand through her grief.

“Commander… do you mean to tell me that the bastard butchered that poor dog just to try to get you to beat him up and be charged with police brutality?” Joanne asked, disbelief in her voice. “They did… that… just to get at you?”

“I suspect that’s the case.” I said. “Julie, take Joanne home.” Detective Newton escorted the still sobbing Detective Cummings away.

“I don’t mean to be brutal, Commander.” Cindy said. “But she’s going to have to toughen up.” Tanya said nothing, but her eyes showed agreement.

“She will, Lieutenant.” I said. “And it’s this crime scene that’s going to do it. Ross, get on the radio and re-iterate my orders to not approach Thatcher. I’m sure you see avcılar escort what’s going on here.”

“Yes sir, I do.” Cindy said, her face a mask of stone, letting my example of leadership calm her down and function as she should. She hurried away. As I watched the Crime Lab complete its work, Sheriff Allgood came up to me. I apprised him of the situation, as well as my actions in bringing in the SBI.”

“I know you hated to do that,” said Allgood, “but it’s actually a brilliant move on your part. I have to admit I was concerned about you, and what we were going to do about this.”

“I’m under control, Sheriff.” I said. “Pissed off, but under control.”

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

The Media got all-too-excellent coverage of the SBI making a raid of Bryan Thatcher’s home, led by Agents Crenshaw and Orosco. They obviously had known to be in position and to lie in wait for Thatcher’s arrest. I also knew SBI Director Jack Lewis might make political hay of this, but I also knew it was far more important to avoid the trap that had been set, with the killing of canine Sergeant Laika as the bait.

As to the Media, they were obviously deeply disappointed. I could see it on Bettina Wurtzburg’s face as well as Priya Ajmani as they interviewed me. In response to their questions of giving way to the SBI, I said into their microphones: “The recent political climate around Thatcher’s trial and accusations by his attorneys was such that I felt it best for all concerned that an outside agency come in to make the arrest of Thatcher for this… which in my view is nothing short of the murder of a retired police officer. Mr. Thatcher will pay for his crime, but bringing in the SBI removes any heated emotions from the case.”

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

“God damn it!” Katherine Woodburn all but shouted as she watched Bettina’s broadcast at 7:00am, Monday February 16th, from her office in Town. She’d been on hand, ready to spring to the Media microphones to accuse the Iron Crowbar of police brutality. She’d been sure he’d go personally to make the arrest, especially with Thatcher being given a crowbar and told to leave it at the scene. “I can’t believe the son of a bitch called in the SBI!”

“He’s smart.” said SBI Director Jack Lewis, watching the broadcast with Katherine. “He didn’t overreact, didn’t give the Media… nor you… a thing to work with. It was a nice try, Katherine, but it didn’t work.”

“Shit.” Katherine muttered, then turned to Lewis. “At least you get to make inroads into the County, take credit for the arrest that the Iron Crowbar was too much of a coward şirinevler escort to make himself.”

“Yes. Yes, sure.” said Lewis placably. He did not tell Woodburn that, upon hearing that the victim was a retired police dog, he would not be taking advantage of any political opportunities on this one, as much as he wanted to. Lewis was ultimately a policeman himself, and he loved dogs. That outweighed the politics, much less the chess battle with the Iron Crowbar…

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

“Wow.” said Henry R. Wargrave as he and his guest ate breakfast in his office, watching Bettina’s broadcast that was being transmitted by the local City news affiliate. The stunning news of the brutal killing of the police dog Laika was being covered State-wide.

“I’m shocked that the Iron Crowbar did not go and kill Thatcher on the spot.” said Wargrave.

“I can see that Commander Troy is a smart man… a smart, smart man.” said the guest, peering at the television set. “He easily saw through Ms. Woodburn’s plan and kept his cool. I was hoping his emotions would get the better of him, especially as it was a dog being killed. It’s funny how men will kill other men without compunction, but will cry like babies over the death of a pet dog.”

“Yes. Well, it didn’t work.” said Wargrave. “Do I need to clean this up for you?”

“Perhaps.” said the guest. “Thatcher is now a huge liability. He must be eliminated as quickly as possible.”

“He’s at the Asylum now.” Wargrave said. “I’ll take care of it.”

“No, Henry.” said the other man, changing his great mind. “I’ll handle this one by other means… if the Iron Crowbar doesn’t get to Thatcher first. In any case, this is not something to which you should devote your energies. It would be like a triphammer crushing a nut. The nut is effectively crushed, of course, but it is beneath your immense talents to worry about a small matter such as this.”

“As you wish.” said Wargrave. “It’s just as well. I’ve gotten some intel that some of those drugs we thought were destroyed may actually still exist. I’m bringing in our friend ‘Skinny Beard’ to obtain the drugs, and I’ll be working on that exclusively for now.” He detailed his plan, which the guest approved with a few nods of his head.

They finished their breakfast as they talked of other things, then the guest left. As always, Wargrave felt a little bit relieved to be safely out of the fearsome presence of the man that the underworld called ‘the Shadow Man’, and the Iron Crowbar called ‘the real Moriarty’.

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

“Commander, I want to apologize.” said Joanne Cummings in my office later that morning. “I was… unprofessional in my conduct Saturday night. It won’t happen again.”

“There is no need to apologize.” I said. “You now know what the rest of us felt at the first Thatcher crime scene, and then some. But do steel yourself, Detective Cummings. You’re going to see some grisly, ugly things as a Police Detective.”

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