Case of the Black Badge Ch. 02
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The chronological order of my stories is as follows:
Todd & Melina series, Interludes 1-5, Sperm Wars series, Russian Roulette series, Case of the Murdered Lovers series, Case of the Murdered Chessplayer series, The Swap series, Interludes 6-10, Case of the Black Widow series, Teresa’s Christmas Story.
The Case of the Black Badge, Ch. 1-2
Feedback and constructive criticism is very much appreciated, and I encourage feedback for ideas.
This story contains graphic scenes, extreme language, and actions that might be extremely offensive to some people. These scenes, words and actions are used only for the literary purposes of this story. The author does not condone murder, racial or racist language, violence, rape or violence against women, and any depictions of any of these in this story should not be construed as acceptance of the above.
Part 9 – The Crime Scene
February 29th. Leap year. At 9:05am, I pulled up to the address given me, a warehouse that was at the west end of the Warehouse District, near the road that led to the farms and ranches on the west side of the railroad tracks and river. This warehouse was part of a defunct meat packing plant.
Police Senior Sergeant Hugh Hewitt was riding with me, and we discussed the new SWAT team. The Council had approved it! Of course Malinda Adams had fought viciously against it, but Kelly Carnes and Pastor Westboro were won over when the Chief went into a closed-door, off-the-record session to tell them the horrors of untrained police forces that had necessitated and led to an awarding of a Medal of Valor… his, not mine.
It was overcast but not raining as I noticed the Crime Lab team standing outside the door with uniformed officers. “She said she wanted us to wait until you got here, Lieutenant.” said ‘Labcoat’. I knew who ‘she’ was.
Entering the large, empty warehouse, I noticed light filtering in from slats and skylights high above me, made visible by the dust particles floating in the air. One such beam of light was bathing Supervisor Tanya Perlman as she looked upwards at the objects before her, framed in their own beam of light.
As I approached, I observed what Tanya was looking at. This had been an old meat-packing warehouse, and large tenterhooks hung from crossbeams above. Two dead men were now hanging by two of those huge hooks, which had been driven through their upper backs and out their chests. They were naked and their hands were manacled behind them with what looked like piano wire. Their mouths were taped shut, and I could see that their penises had been cut off. My hunch was right: the first examination by ‘CMB’ revealed that their cut-off cocks had been stuffed into their mouths and their mouths taped shut.
In addition, they had been the recipients of the infamous ‘Colombian Necktie’… their throats slit and their tongues pulled down and out through the slits. And they had been disemboweled, cut open from their groins to their sternums.
“Wow, and I thought the Black Widow left gruesome crime scenes.” I said, barely able to look at the scene. Tanya seemed unaffected; in fact, I was seeing the first gleam in her eye since Pete had died, adding to the rosiness of her cheeks.
“Yes sir.” she said. “This obviously didn’t happen here. There’s almost no blood on the floor.”
“Who called it in?”
“The Duty Desk got a tip.” replied Tanya. “They said someone called in that there were bodies at this location. When the Desk Sergeant asked who it was, the guy said he ‘didn’t want to get involved’ and hung up. Patrolmen McGhillie and Johnson investigated and found the bodies. They called me, and I talked to the Desk Sergeant as I drove here. By the way… haven’t you recognized those faces yet?”
At that, I peered harder at the faces. Recognition was difficult, but then it hit me. One of the victims was Sergeant Carroll. The other was ‘Blondie’, the kid who had been in possession of the black badge.
“Oh my, this is big… the party’s just getting started now.” I said. “Tanya, as part of the lab tests, run a DNA comparison on the blonde low-life to ‘Big Alex’, the kid who my nephew Ned murdered. I once had a hunch that they might be related. Let’s see if they are.”
“I won’t bet against you, Lieutenant.” Tanya said. “Shall I call in the Lab Team?”
“First, I want to bring Hewitt in.” I said. I called on the radio for Hewitt and any combat veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan to come inside. Hugh and one of the uniformed men came up to us within a minute.
“Jeez…” said Hugh, who was on light duty, still not fully recovered from his ordeal at the hands (and pussy) of the Black Widow. He grimaced, not really one for grisly crime scenes like Tanya was. The other officer also looked like he didn’t want any part of this.
“Gentlemen,” I said, “I hope this doesn’t bring flashbacks to you, but are any of these wounds like what you saw in Iraq?”
“I never saw anything like this.” said the uniformed officer.
“I did.” said Hugh. “A couple of guys almanbahis got captured by the Muslim terrorists. They cut off their cocks and stuffed them into their mouths, then disemboweled them. Didn’t do that to the throat, though, or hang them on meathooks.”
“Thanks, Hugh. You guys can go.” I said. “Send the Lab team in.”
As the team worked and I looked around, I noticed the trashbag-lined, plastic office trash can that was set up, as always. But only one person needed to use it: Tanya Perlman. This was different; Tanya never got sick. She had been known to finish breakfast and coffee at crime scenes, and suck lollipops or ice cream bars while watching autopsies.
“Sorry, Lieutenant, it must be something I ate.” as she came up to me after getting sick in the trash can.
“It’s not food poisoning, Tanya, now is it?” I said. “Sure you don’t have something you want to tell me?”
She looked at me sharply as I got out my cellphone. “I’m calling an excellent doctor to schedule an appointment for you to see her this afternoon. She’s good-looking, too.”
“I’m fine, Don. I appreciate it, but I don’t need to see a doctor, especially your wife.” Tanya said. I did not bother to reply. When Laura answered the phone, I told her that I wanted to send Tanya over for an appointment in the afternoon. Laura cleared 2:00pm immediately.
“Okay,” I said, “two o’clock, Dr. Fredricson’s office. Be there. That’s not a request.” I said. “Especially after I pulled strings to get you the appointment. Good thing I have some influence with this excellent doctor.”
Part 10 – Correlations
The 4:00pm meeting in the main Conference room was attended by the Chief, myself, Tanya Perlman, Daniel Allgood, Cindy Ross, Martin Nash, Diana Torres, Theo Washington, and the FBI’s Jack Muscone, Sandra Speer, Eduardo Escobar and Lindy Linares. Lindy gave me a very warm smile when she saw me, which I returned as the pleasant memory of what we’d done together came back to my mind.
Tanya had just made it in time after going to her doctor’s appointment with my wife. She confirmed the identities of the victims as Sergeant Carroll and the young man known on the streets as ‘Blondie’. “We’re still waiting for toxicology, so nothing on alcohol, drugs or poisoning yet. Their bodies were essentially drained of blood, so we’re having to analyze tissue samples to get these results, hence the delay. CMB thinks they were killed sometime the night before, around midnight, give or take two hours.”
She continued: “An autopsy will have to confirm all this, but CMB and I agreed that they were alive when their penises were cut off and taped into their mouths, and they likely were disemboweled alive. The hara-kiri is what killed them, of course. The Colombian neckties were administered after death, and of course they were dead when they were brought to the warehouse and hung on the meathooks.”
“Geez.” said Martin Nash. “Why the overkill?”
Special Agent Eduardo Escobar, an FBI expert on drug trafficking, spoke up. “The Colombian necktie is meant to intimidate and cause fear. It may be a message for… or from… the living drug traffickers that these men were associated with.”
“The penis thing is meant to psychologically humiliate and insult the victim.” said Lindy Linares. “It might suggest that they were punishing these two men for some infraction of their criminal code.”
“Crowbar, you’re looking thoughtful down there.” the Chief said. He always sat at the head of the table, near the door, while I sat at the other end.
“I’m just absorbing the information right now, Chief.” I said. “What we do know is that the victims were brought to that warehouse dead and naked. There were no clothes found, there was not much blood at the scene, not many tracks or footprints. They came, hung up the bodies, and left.”
I continued: “The call came in to us right at 8:00am, which happens to be during shift change. Myron says the caller used a burner phone to give the anonymous tip.”
“Why did they do that?” asked Jack Malone.
“The call, the timing, or using a burner phone?” I asked, not clear on Jack’s question.
“Oh sorry, the call.” Jack clarified. “Why not call earlier? For that matter, why did they call at all?”
“Good questions. Let me think about that.” I said, then continued with my report. “Speaking of that warehouse, it’s part of a property that was once owned by T&C Councilman John Colby while he ran his beef cattle farms. Stating the obvious, it was a beef processing plant. Colby sold the plant to a concern called King & Ebenezer Food Industries about three years ago, but they went into bankruptcy reorganization and dropped the property as part of the settlement. The J.P. Goldman bank owns it now, and hasn’t found a buyer in the two years they’ve owned it.”
“Jack?” the Chief said, “FBI hearing anything about this?”
“Not a word, so far.” Muscone said. “It’s early days yet, but no chatter about it that we’re picking up.”
“Okay, Crowbar,” said the Chief, almanbahis giriş “if you don’t have the answers already, do you at least have the questions?” He was needling me; I’d once said that the most important thing was to find the right question to ask, and then answer it.
“Just a few.” I said. “First, assuming he was not killed elsewhere, why did Sergeant Carroll come back to this County? And if he was killed elsewhere, why was he brought back to this County? Second, what was the message the killers were trying to deliver, if any? Third, where did the killing take place? I’m hoping to hear that someone has called in having found a huge pool of blood somewhere, but no such luck so far. And last, as we discussed, why the anonymous tip?”
“And by the way, Martin, to answer your question,” I added, “the overkill was partially to send a message, but also to confuse us. Too many mixtures of style here. They either want us to think this was done by pure amateurs that just did everything they ever read about and could think of to do, or they want us to be scattered and stretched thin, searching along many different false lines. Either one is a blind, and I’m not concerned about that minutiae. I’m looking at the ‘why’, not the ‘how’. And that tells me that this was done with intent and purpose, and by one group of criminals that these men had been associated with.”
“Black Badge gang?” asked Diana Torres, which got her some nasty looks from her fellow Detectives, as if she’d said too much in front of the FBI agents.
“Mmmmm…mmmmay-be….” I said, looking at the ceiling and thinking as I spoke. “I was thinking along different lines but maybe they’re… connected… hmmm…” I went into a reverie. “Yeah… could it be…” When I came out of the thought-trance, I realized that eleven pairs of eyes were watching me intently.
“Thanks, Detective Torres.” I said. “You gave me an interesting line of thought to consider.” Diana looked much less uncomfortable, but no less confused than anyone else.
“Which, I’m sure, you’ll now share with all of us.” said Cindy Ross, no small amount of acid in her voice.
?”Rosssss…” admonished the Chief.
“I know there’s stuff about this that hasn’t been shared and it’s not up to me to decide to share it, Cindy.” I said.
“It’s okay, Don,” said Jack Muscone, rescuing me from the wrath of my partner, “I told the Deputy Director that I might be discussing more of this case with you guys, and now is the time to do it, so let me fill you guys in on some of this.
“This is your murder case, but what you don’t know is that my team has been investigating the disappearance of Sergeant Carroll for several weeks now. We believe he may have been involved with a race-hatred organization. And after that acquittal of that black man in this County recently, some activity began showing up in the organization we’re watching. That’s all I can tell you for now. I don’t know if this organization is behind these killings, but if they are and I find out, I’ll let you know immediately.”
“Thanks, Jack.” said the Chief. “And the Black Badge comment refers to the fact that the other man found hanging alongside Carroll was arrested some days ago, and not being the sharpest tool in the shed, he admitted to us about being part of a Black Badge organization… complete with a real black badge in his wallet. And I’m betting that Don just started correlating those things in his head.”
“That’s about the gist of it, sir.” I said, my eyes still introspective. “We have two lines going: white supremacy group, drug gang. And they keep finding reasons to intertwine. Keep this under your hats, people, but we can add to it that Ward of Ward Harvester was found to be making extra explosives that might have been shipped to the supremacy group… so I’m starting to wonder if we’ve just stumbled onto a BFD.”
“What’s a ‘BFD’?” asked Sandra Speer.
“A ‘big frickin’ deal’.” said Theo Washington. “Looks like I walked into this party just in time.”
“Exactly.” I said. “And we’re happy to have you here at the party, Theo. This just might crack a lot of things we’ve been pursuing wide open.”
“We’re ready to help you with anything you need.” said Jack Muscone. “Oh, by the way… what about the SBI?”
“Shhh!!!!” I admonished. “Speak not of those hideous fools!”
“So far, nothing from them.” said the Chief. “And as far as I’m concerned, it can stay that way. As long as I’m Chief, this Police Force’s policy is one of non-communication with the SBI, especially its Narcotics Task Force. Certain SBI Reservists excluded, of course. Anything else?”
“Just this.” I said, having just had an insight. “Jack, to answer your question: they called in the tip because they wanted us to find the bodies. Not much good for their purposes if the bodies are left hanging for a year in a completely abandoned warehouse. And that suggests they’re sending a message and needed that message to get out. As to the time of the call, I’m not sure, but I think it’s almanbahis yeni giriş not a coincidence it was called in right at shift change.”
“Okay, people, start data-mining and number-crunching.” the Chief said, wrapping up the meeting. “Please do take advantage of Special Agent Muscone’s offer of help.”
It was sunset, the light fading as I reached Cemetery Hill and made my way to the graveside of Corporal Pete Feeley, carrying a small bouquet of flowers. Cemetery Hill is more of a north-south ridge, and Pete was buried on the South end, in a place of honor amongst other police, fire and military personnel who had passed on.
I was not surprised to see who was standing at Feeley’s grave as I approached. It was Tanya Perlman.
“You were right.” Tanya said as I stepped up beside her and placed the bouquet against the headstone. “Dr. Fredricson confirmed it: I’m pregnant.”
“Good.” I said, solemnly, but also happy for Tanya. “Congratulations.”
“I… I was just up here telling Pete.” Tanya said. “Telling him that he’s going to be a father. I just… I just wish he could’ve known before he…” She did not finish the sentence.
“I’m sure he knows.” I said, somehow sure. “And I’m sure he’s watching over you and his child right now.”
“It is his, by the way.” Tanya said, as if I’d asked. “I didn’t sleep with anyone else after he asked me to marry him.”
“Well, you be sure to do what’s needed to bring that child into the world safely, healthy and happy.” I said. “And you’re not going on any more bullet-flying missions, either.” I wanted to make sure this baby happened almost as much as Tanya herself did.
“Thanks, Don.” Tanya said, understanding me completely.
“Okay, I’m going to go catch some criminals.” I said. “You take care, and I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“I’ll come with you.” Tanya said. “Let’s go mete out some Justice. For Pete.” We walked down the slope back to our cars as the sun set upon this day.
“Yes, she’s six weeks along.” said Laura as we ate supper. “Thanks for sending her to me. After I told her she was pregnant, we had a good long talk. It was… an emotional time. It was good, she needed it.”
“That’s good.” I said. “So you think she’s doing okay now?”
“Oh yes.” said Laura. “Losing Pete was tough for her, but she’s pulling through just fine. I hate to say this, but I think you taking her on that mission and letting her blow away Angela Harlan was the best thing that could’ve happened. She got some closure out of that.”
“I think we all did.” I said. “It was worth the Council’s formal asschewing.”
“And you were lucky that was all you got. By the way,” Laura said. “I haven’t noticed anyone following me, and I’ve been watching over my shoulder for nearly three decades now.”
“I called you about being careful as a precaution, though I know you always are.” I replied. “I’m very concerned about what’s going on with these murders and this Black Badge gang… this is a ‘BFD’, and I think they’re playing for keeps.”
Part 11 – The Opening Salvo
March 1st. I was driving in my SUV through the Downtown district, listening to “Channel 5” on the police radio. I had told my team put their radios on Channel 5, which was automatically encrypted and decrypted on those radios that had the same key. Multiple groups could use the channel with different keys, and only messages with the key one had would come through. Sophisticated technology that many other police departments could only dream about having.
I had placed Rudistan and Morton on “mobile stakeout”, and had even asked Detectives Diana Torres and Theo Washington do some riding around. That way, I explained to them, Theo could get to know the layout of the town, and both of them would be helping with the case.
And the people we were staking out were Sergeant Brody and Patrolman Tommy Gunn. We were following them discreetly in unmarked cars. This was what Internal Affairs should be doing, but I did not trust them to respond to trouble with the speed I would need. I had been getting a very bad vibe about what Brody and Gunn might try to do next, especially after the phone call I’d gotten a couple of days before.
Jeanine had called me on the phone and told me she thought she was being followed around by a police car. I called Todd and asked him if he’d noticed a police car following him, with Jeanine or alone, and he said “Now that you mention it, I have seen a cop car behind me several times.”
That evening I went to visit them. I held the two babies as I discussed with them that it was possible a couple of rogue cops were watching them, especially after Jeanine had defended that black kid and won his acquittal. “Whatever you do,” I said, “if the cops stop you, cooperate with them. Even if they get rough or aggressive with you, don’t try to fight back. Todd, be sure to drive Jeanine wherever she needs to go; don’t let her go anywhere alone. Last, but not least, if you’re stopped by the cops, any cops that aren’t me personally, then speed-dial me on the phone and tell me where you are… then leave the line open so I can hear what’s going on as I come to you. And if you have a camera in the car so you can videotape the stop, by all means use it.”
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