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by Captain Midnight ©2005
Based on his play “Good Cop, Bad Cop”
For the series of stories created by Patricia51 and Linda_s
The beginning of this chapter will sound VERY off-topic, but I hope it gives some character insight. Also please note this was started well before Hurricane Katrina and its devastation, and is not meant to downplay any aspects of that tragedy.
Special thanks to LadyCibelle, jtmalone70 and especially patricia51 for all their inspiration.
Sergeant Carol Wilson’s hotel-room phone rang at 5:30 in the morning. That wasn’t so unusual, but the voice on the other end was. Her daughter Tricialeigh, five years old going on six, had awakened before the dawn.
“Hi, pumpkin! What are you doing up this early?” Carol asked.
“Daddy’s scared,” Tricialeigh replied.
Carol sat up in bed. Her husband was a cop; so were most of her family. Roger Wilson certainly had reason to be frightened for Carol and for a lot of people … but this sounded different.
“What is it, cupcake? Is he scared for me? I’ve been away before.”
“No … it’s strange, Mommy. He took me to see Aunt Stephanie last night, and he’s been scared ever since.”
Stephanie Gibson, Carol’s younger sister, was an emergency-room doctor at County General. Tricialeigh had visited the E.R. fairly often. She had never been into the treatment rooms (except for one broken arm in a playground fall), but she knew several doctors and nurses and loved to chat with them.
This time sounded like it was different. “What happened, sweetheart?”
* * * * *
The previous night, before he went on duty, Roger and Tricialeigh Wilson had gone to Open House at Tricialeigh’s kindergarten. A lot of parents were there, including Brenda Lawson, Heidi’s mom. A day earlier, Brenda had told Heidi, a classmate of Tricialeigh’s, that she was expecting another baby. Since both Roger and Carol were friends of the Lawsons and knew they wanted a large family, Roger said hello and congratulations. Brenda blushed; she had found out only yesterday and was just five weeks along.
As the adults walked through the decorated hallways, Roger cast an eye on Brenda. It wasn’t a covetous eye, though. Brenda was still flushed and seemed to be in pain.
Then the unthinkable happened.
Brenda clutched her midsection, turned and headed for the bathroom. She didn’t make it. Roger went white as a dark blotch appeared on the seat of Brenda’s pants – blood and a lot of it. Then Brenda crumpled to the floor.
A dozen parents saw it happen, and everyone whipped out his or her cell phone to call 9-1-1. Roger went them two better. He called Stephanie’s cell phone and asked her to get an obstetrician to the ER, stat! Roger then got hold of an ambulance service and gave them directions to the school.
Brenda’s husband was out of town, so Roger volunteered to accompany her to the hospital. Roger gave his car keys to another parent and asked that Tricialeigh and Heidi be brought to County General ASAP. He saw Heidi’s stricken face as he climbed into the ambulance with her mom.
It was a miscarriage, all right. Stephanie and the obstetrician rotated consolations among Brenda, Heidi and Tricialeigh. Nobody could explain what had happened to themselves, much less to two small children. Stephanie had Brenda admitted for observation.
Finally, Roger left with Tricialeigh and Heidi, heading for his in-laws’ place. Nana – Captain Patricia Gibson of Internal Affairs – and Grandpa – Deputy Inspector Michael Gibson Senior, Division Chief for in-progress crimes, were delighted to take in the girls for the night. Roger asked Pat not to tell Carol anything about what had just happened until he himself could talk to her. Pat crossed herself and said a silent prayer for Brenda, and agreed.
Roger was night watch commander under a rotation shift. When he got to the commander’s desk, he found an internal memo from Detective Corporal Darrell Evans, intended for the Chief of Detectives. Roger had trained Evans in Detective Division and knew him well. He called Evans at home.
“Lieutenant?” Evans said. “I didn’t mean for you to get that memo; it was to be routed to Sergeant Wilson. Do you know when she’ll be back?”
“If this wind is any indication, it’ll be several days at least. Why don’t you tell me and I’ll send her an e-mail tomorrow.”
“It’s something I can’t really describe over the phone. Can you get the Deputy Watch Commander to take over and meet me at the crime scene? I want to get your take on it.”
Roger frowned. This wasn’t his case, it was Carol’s. On the other hand, the evidence sounded perishable and someone needed to handle it.
“Okay,” Roger replied, “let me access Sergeant Wilson’s data – I have clearance on it – and I’ll call you back. Do you still have the area taped off?”
The search warrant for the home was to expire at midnight, an hour away, so Roger decided to back Evans’ hunch. Half of the hour remained şişli eskort when Lieutenant Wilson joined Detective Evans at a wealthy man’s suburban home, the scene of a brutal shotgun murder three days earlier.
Evans gave Wilson a quick rundown on how the victim had probably known his killer, because there was no evidence of forced entry, and how nothing had seemingly been taken from the house. “But we missed something the first time through.”
The dead man had a nice entertainment center set up in the den where he had been killed. Evans got out two pair of gloves, gave one pair to Roger and asked him to help drag the big cabinet away from the wall.
“You got what was coming to you, faggot prick.”
The missive had been scratched into the wall with a screwdriver. Evans photographed it close up. He then spoke.
“We have some handwriting samples on file. I’ll need authorization to compare them to this, but I believe this ‘writing’ will match one particular person.” Pause.
“And then there’s this. A possible motive.”
Stuffed into a drawer was a check stub for twenty-five thousand dollars, sans the check itself. The logo read “Counterspy Productions.” Roger clenched his jaw and looked at Evans.
“You think the killer robbed him?”
“Only symbolically, but yes,” Evans replied. “The check’s not good yet. It won’t be until September 30, after the show airs. If somebody tried to deposit it now, it would bounce. You know how they don’t pay out prizes on game shows until after they air, in case a contestant is crooked? Looks like Bring ‘Em On Out does pretty much the same thing, holding its wager until the race has been run.”
Roger pursed his lips. “But the check itself isn’t here? You think the killer took it?”
“Possible. We went through the victim’s wallet, and we didn’t find it in the bedroom bureau drawers. The victim could have stashed it in some secret place, I suppose. That’s one reason to extend the search warrant, to see if the check’s on the premises.”
“But if you don’t find it,” Roger continued, “odds are the killer took it. That ups the stakes for the killer. The D.A.’ll call it murder during a grand theft, and a hate crime as well.”
“Do you want to call a judge and get the search warrant extended, or shall I?” Evans was sure of the answer; it gave Roger a chance to take charge.
“I’ll do it. I’ll tell Sergeant Wilson tomorrow morning.”
When Roger had finished his phone call, he asked Evans a question. “Off the top of your head, who might fit the handwriting?”
Three words. “Van Charles Nichols.”
Many things ran through Roger’s head, each with a particularly venomous curse word attached. Evans did some figuring of his own.
“Lieutenant,” Evans asked, “Sergeant Wilson told me something about checking out Counterspy Productions. Have you heard back from her?”
“Nothing specific yet,” Roger replied. “But I figured out some things on my own. One, that they’d throw a dog in the path of a speeding car and edit the tape to show the driver was cruel to animals. Two, that they spend a lot of money to get what they want.
“Three is just a hypothesis, but I get the feeling they’ll combine One and Two and start climbing up our asses. This guy’s dead. Well, that’s too bad, but it gives them a chance to rip us new ones on national TV. If we don’t bust Van Charles Nichols and skin him alive, we are fucked. It’ll be like the L.A. riots over again.” Roger let out a furious curse which included the name of his Creator, paused in shame, and looked over at Evans in slight shock.
Evans said, softly: “There’s not one case in a hundred where someone sets up someone else to take the fall.”
Roger nodded curtly, and then added: “But I’ll be God-damned if I’m letting some TV show try, convict and hang him. Especially if Pete Moskow’s mixed up in this.” Pete Moskow, a free-lance TV director, had helped the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department on many cases. Now he was working for the TV show. Roger set his jaw.
“First thing in the morning, I’m calling the Feds and alerting them of a hate crime. Then we see about Van Charles Nichols’ whereabouts. Then we get an arrest warrant for him, and we let Wilson and Adams take it from there.” Roger paused. “I just hope they do everything exactly right.”
“They always do,” Evans said.
* * * * *
Van Charles Nichols was the featured guest on the season premiere of “Bring ‘Em On Out,” taped a week earlier for a Labor Day airdate. The production company, which had just sold the series to a TV station in Savannah, Georgia, had heavily hyped the program in Savannah and the surrounding counties; Jackson County was one of them. Lieutenant Wilson had seen a promo for that show on Sunday Night Football the night before the Monday-morning murder of a fellow guest, George Harvey.
The details were sketchy, but it appeared Nichols had been lured onto the show under false pretenses. The interview segment between Nichols and the host had started out escort bayan şişli innocently enough. Then the host had started asking Nichols questions about his sexuality. As Nichols, his face getting redder and redder under stage makeup, indignantly denied being anything but straight, strategic questions from the host and from selected audience members indicated otherwise.
Then George Harvey came out from behind the curtain – and kissed Nichols on the mouth. For the remainder of the show, Nichols was barraged with details about a one-night stand with Harvey, which Nichols clearly either barely remembered or had really suppressed.
Roger Wilson actually knew more about the show than did his wife, the detective investigating the subsequent murder of George Harvey. The day Carol boarded a plane to Orlando and the production offices, one of her investigators called the TV station carrying Bring ‘Em On Out and learned that a new set of promotional announcements had been fed to the station. The promos were designed specifically to lure viewers to check out Jackson County and see what sorts of redneck gay-bashers lived there.
* * * * *
As Roger prepared to leave, he saw people on the day shift arriving in all sorts of rain gear, dripping puddles all over the lobby floor. From a buddy who loved The Weather Channel, Roger found that Hurricane Leonard was scheduled to hit Jacksonville in a few hours and that sheets of rain and were blasting the area within several hundred miles each way, including Jackson County in Georgia and the area of Orlando, Florida, where Carol was investigating Bring ‘Em On Out. Roger was enjoined to watch out for downed power lines and to prepare for lots of water in the streets.
As Roger drove up to the Gibson residence, he recognized the sport utility vehicle favored by Carol’s work partner, Sue Adams. Since Sue was in Orlando with Carol, Roger figured Deputy Inspector Linda Shannon, Sue’s life partner, was visiting for a cup of coffee before heading to the office.
Before Roger could get out of his vehicle, Linda came out the front door with Tricialeigh and Heidi in tow, and hanging onto an umbrella for dear life. Linda was physically extremely strong; part of her job was teaching strength and movement exercises for unarmed combat. But she was fighting wind gusts faster than an interstate speed limit, and losing.
Roger got out in a hurry and slogged through shin-deep water to get to the group. Linda was holding the umbrella with one hand and Heidi’s hand with the other, apparently to keep the little girl from blowing away, and was very precarious on her feet. Roger blocked out the wind and ran interference for Linda on the way to the big car. Linda got the girls in all right, though it took three tries to open the rear passenger door with the wind blowing against it. She asked Roger, via gestures, to get in the front passenger seat.
Roger realized what all of this was about when Linda turned on a DVD player pointed at the girls, so neither could hear the conversation.
“I heard you took Brenda to the hospital last night,” Linda said.
“Yes, ma’am,” Roger replied. “Did Pat tell you?”
Linda shook her head. “Brenda called me herself from her hospital room. She lives down the block from Joey and Erin.”
That explained a lot. Joe Shannon was Linda’s son, a young attorney. Erin Shannon, Linda’s daughter-in-law, was a divinity student. Erin, one of the most outgoing and sweet women in a Deep South full of them, had done a lot to help Joe and his sister Miriam deal with their mother’s lesbianism. She was also famous for her block parties, welcoming new neighbors with handcrafted gift baskets.
Linda continued: “Maybe I’m going to become a grandmother and maybe not.” She paused while a wide-eyed Roger wondered whether to give his surrogate-aunt-by-marriage a huge handshake. Roger wisely decided against it, and Linda smiled a thank-you.
“Brenda told me Erin is a little … late this month. She hasn’t told Joey because they’ve both been really busy, but Erin came to the volunteer get-together with something on her mind, and Brenda guessed it. Brenda was very concerned in case Erin goes through … this.”
Roger understood better than he let on. Carol’s cycle was notoriously erratic; she might go for three months on end without resorting to pads, then have cramps and related health problems for two weeks in a stretch. They hadn’t known Tricialeigh was coming until ten weeks into the pregnancy. Carol’s mom had had many of the same problems, and still considered her 10-year-old twin sons to be miracle babies – although she was coy on the exact details. (See “To Serve and Protect: Night Watch” and “Bridget’s Nights Chapter 10”, both by patricia51, for more specifics.)
Linda finished up: “But that can wait. I need to ask you, as a Detective Lieutenant – should Sue take herself off this case?”
Roger pursed his lips. Linda was too close to Sue to be objective as to how Sue would handle a gay-themed şişli escort bayan murder. Roger hoped to hell that he was.
“I vote no,” he finally said. “Adams is one of the coolest heads in the department. I’ve seen her in the interrogation room and I’ve heard suspects call her some of the vilest names in four languages. When she gets angry, it’s a façade to draw out information. She’s not going to let this get to her.
“At home, maybe she’ll need some reassurance, but no more than any other officer. You remember when Adams had to fire on that young drug dealer eleven years ago? You didn’t know me then, but I was one of Adams’ rookie training partners, helping administer the psychological tests.”
Linda remembered the shooting all too well; she had been critically wounded by a panicky teenage drug addict. But Roger was right; Linda hadn’t known him, and she was a little surprised that he had known Sue so long. “How did she do on the evaluations?” she asked.
“Exactly the way a good cop reacts – full of sorrow, full of doubt, but ultimately convinced she had done the best thing she could. I don’t know what she told you afterwards, but she kept in touch with me and asked me to keep an eye out for Patricia during the case.”
Roger continued: “I’d say that if you treat her the way I treat Carol or how Mike and Pat treat each other, she’ll be fine.”
“Thank you, Lieutenant,” Linda replied. Her eyes twinkled. “If Adams makes Lieutenant anytime soon, I’ll trust you to keep her up to professional standards.”
Roger blushed. The little girls giggled.
* * * * *
The brunt of the storm hit northeastern Florida later that day. It wasn’t as bad as some of the storied hurricanes of the past, but it was bad enough. Carol and Roger managed to find satellite phones – just about the only communication untouched by the storm – and talked to each other about the progress of the case.
Sergeants Gibson and Adams had attended a marathon day of tapings of Bring ‘Em On Out, five shows in succession. Usually the series taped one show per day, but a producer announced they were going on hiatus for a week. Carol and Sue realized the whole crew would head for Jackson County for a blockbuster special episode and needed time to assemble the program. Both hoped nobody except director Pete Moskow, a longtime friend, recognized them.
Carol had posed as Pete’s girlfriend-of-the day to get into the studio control room on the previous day’s taping. It was Sue’s turn this time, but her skin crawled at living a lie and pretending to be a so-called cheap tramp – especially since she was and had always been gay, and especially since she owed Pete a lot for his help in getting her father off the hook when a cop was killed long ago.
Then lightning struck.
Sue hugged Liz Guerrin, Pete’s longtime camera operator, as she walked toward the side door of the studio. Liz and Pete had collaborated with the Jackson County Sheriff’s office for several years, before Liz and Pete both suffered relapses into drug abuse. Pete had come out of it, for a while; Liz had hidden out in rehab and then in a South Beach gay lifestyle.
Liz confirmed that Bring ‘Em On Out had hired her on special assignment for a fat fee, and that the nature of the assignment – to portray the good folk of Jackson County as a bunch of redneck gay-bashers – had stimulated her to figuratively shove their own assignment up their collective noses. Liz suggested Sue pose as her girlfriend to get into the control room. Sue and Liz walked different paths, but that wasn’t uncommon in the gay community, and they got along well anyway.
And Liz did a lot more than expected. She had gone through at least a dozen 20-minute tapes in each of the last three days, and her camera eye had caught much of what human eyes, even trained ones, missed. When Pete sent Liz back to the editing room to go through the raw footage, Sue went along. By the end of the ten-hour taping session, Sue had seen everything at least twice and had notes on a good many things even the investigators back home didn’t know.
Liz planned to head back to Miami and work for a counseling center, but Sue sternly enjoined her to keep in touch and to renew her friendship with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department. Then she kissed Liz in friendship and sent her on her way.
After the two Sergeants staggered out of the studio into a fierce wind, Sue said: “We have to get an arrest warrant for Nichols, but I don’t know if we can go before a judge and keep him on the inside all the way to trial.”
“According to Roger’s information, this will be considered a capital crime and an extremely high-profile one,” Carol shouted back. “There’s no chance of bond being set.”
“True,” Sue replied, “but I have serious doubts about the case and I know you do too. The question is whether the District Attorney will as well. You know how Pete is going to feel about that, especially if he’s called to testify for the prosecution and he feels he’s railroading a man.”
“Dear God,” Carol replied. Pete absolutely hated District Attorneys, especially those who sought the death penalty on weak cases. “You think we’ll have to put him in jail as a material witness? That could destroy him.”
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