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The betrayal, p.15
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       The Betrayal, p.15

           Jerry B. Jenkins
 
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  “Do we want to do this here? Place gives me the willies. I know I’m working out of here for a while, but I’m ready to get away for now.”

  Jack nodded. “I need you to go back downtown with me anyway. I just drove your new wheels here myself.”

  “What’d you find me?”

  “Twelve-year-old Chevy Impala.”

  “Perfect.”

  “I thought so. You can lay out your case on the way.”

  Boone went to his room to get his notes. When he returned, Jack said, “I do have a confession.”

  “I’m listening.”

  As they headed out, Jack said, “I sent crime scene investigators to your apartment.”

  “You didn’t.”

  “It was the right thing to do.”

  “But I didn’t want that. That’s why I didn’t even call it in.”

  “Of course you did. I’m a sworn officer of the CPD. You tell me your place was ransacked, that’s a report.”

  “You’re splitting hairs. So, what’d they find?”

  “Nothing.”

  “Terrific.”

  “In a way it is, Boones. What does that tell you?”

  “That it wasn’t druggies looking for something to fence.”

  They climbed into the old Chevy, Boone first standing in the cold to remove his parka and sling it into the backseat.

  When he was finally in the car Jack fiddled with the heat. “You knew it wasn’t druggies when you saw nothing had been stolen. Zero fingerprints, except on the bottom section of the fire-escape ladder—which will turn out to be Pastor Sosa’s, right?”

  “Right.”

  “So the clean apartment except for your prints tells you these were pros, probably wearing rubber gloves. They left nothing to chance.”

  “So they were coming to whack me.”

  Jack nodded. “And I think the same guys trashed Mrs. Lamonica’s car. But that one I don’t get. Just trying to scare you? What does that get ’em? Maybe they were frustrated because you’d eluded them again. But it was obvious you had loaded the car so you could go somewhere else. Why wouldn’t they follow you to find out where? Anyway, no prints, and the only damage was the back window and the left-rear side window. Already fixed and covered by insurance.”

  “How do you know it’s covered?”

  “Insurance docs were in the glove box.”

  “Tell me Mrs. Lamonica doesn’t know yet.”

  “I saw the car before I came down here,” Jack said. “If she can tell anything happened to it, I’d be surprised.”

  “I owe you.”

  “Do you ever. All that shopping I did for you? I feel like your nursemaid. Now make it worth my while. Give me both barrels.”

  “You’re not going to like it, Jack. It doesn’t look good for your friend.”

  “Well, you ought to know something about that, speaking of charges that don’t look good for a friend.”

  Boone nodded. “I need you to keep me in line and make sure I’m not jumping to conclusions.”

  “I trained you better than that.”

  “But this seems so cut and dried to me, and it just can’t be, can it?”

  “You tell me.”

  Boone pulled out his notebook.

  20

  The Deal

  Tuesday, February 9, 2:35 p.m.

  As Jack pulled out of the former junkyard complex, he said, “I saw the cell-phone photo I know you’ve seen. What do you make of that? You going to be able to counter it?”

  “The one Garrett supposedly shot of Haeley’s meeting notes about where we originally hid Pascual? Think that through, Jack. First, you were at the meeting where she made those notes. You heard Fletch remind her that she was a sworn member of the CPD, even if she wasn’t a police officer.”

  “I did.”

  “He told her it was her responsibility and that he was making it an oral directive that she immediately lock that document away as soon as the meeting was over.”

  “And she assured him she would,” Jack said.

  “It was written in code, too, so only a cop would likely be able to figure it out.”

  “That doesn’t help your case, Boones. Fox would have been able to decipher it easily, especially with her help.”

  “But here’s my question. Why did he need a picture of it? If I even for a second stipulate that he and Haeley were in on this together, does that make sense? She shows him the document, he clarifies with her what it means, and then he tells whoever he needs to in order to get Candelario offed. The cell-phone photo serves only two purposes: to implicate Haeley or to implicate him. He doesn’t need it. What was he going to do, forget? That picture was for one purpose only: to frame Haeley.”

  Jack shrugged. “Can’t argue with that.”

  “Who all have you talked to, by the way?” Boone said.

  “Pete, of course, the US Attorney, Garrett, and your guy, Zappolo.”

  “You talk to Garrett since all this broke?”

  Jack nodded. “He made a big point of Haeley having told him about all her lovers.”

  Boone gritted his teeth. “I keep thinking I want my chance to interrogate him, but I’d better go into it unarmed or I’m likely to put one between his eyes.”

  “You’ll scotch everything by talking to him. You can clearly see his motive in this, can’t you?”

  “Sure.”

  “I mean, I don’t think he ever forgave you for not standing up for him when he was willing to lie for you.”

  “You taught me better, Jack. You always said we were all brothers under the blue and that we had each other’s back unless someone was unethical, immoral, or criminal.”

  “I also said when in doubt, you give your partner the benefit. Fox would say that was what he was doing for you. He said under oath he could corroborate your account of having injured the arrestee by accident.”

  “Even though he didn’t believe it.”

  “Yeah, but he was saying he trusted you, Boones.”

  “In private he told me he knew I had snapped and crossed the line. Then he goes on the stand and supports my version, only to have a video prove he had his back to the whole incident. That’s what nailed him.”

  “He says you could have saved him.”

  “Sure. By being unethical myself. My career means more to me than that.”

  “Anyway, he feels like he was willing to stick his neck out for you and you weren’t willing to do the same for him.”

  “Guess that’s true. He was willing to lie. I wasn’t.”

  As they passed into Addison, Jack asked if Boone had seen the transcript of the US Attorney’s interview with Haeley’s former boyfriend.

  “I didn’t even know they’d talked to him. Would you believe I don’t even know his name?”

  “It’s in my envelope. The folder is labeled Mannock. DeWayne Mannock. And the US Attorney said he made a big mistake when he referred to him as Mr. Mannock. Apparently the guy insisted he use his first name, then scolded him when he pronounced it as one syllable, like Duane.”

  “Two syllables?”

  “Yep. And the first e is long.”

  “Dee-Wayne?”

  “Yeah, like that. DeWayne Mannock.”

  Boone put his notebook in his pocket and found the folder. “Jack, why do I feel like this is just the start of something between me and him?”

  He jiggled the folder with one hand until it slid free of the envelope, but as he was replacing the envelope between the seats so he could manage the rest, his phone rang. Boone tucked the folder under his leg and grabbed his cell, peeking at the readout. “Someone within the department.”

  “Better take it.”

  “This is Drake.”

  “Mr. Drake, this is Brigita Velna. Remember me?”

  “Of course! How are you? I didn’t expect to hear from you again until after my surgery.”

  “That was my plan, Officer, but frankly bureaucracy has somehow crept in.”

  “So
rry?”

  “So am I, and to be honest I don’t understand it. I’d rather not discuss it by phone, but the fact is that there is a move afoot that makes it important for me to speak to you sooner rather than later. Is there any way you could visit me even this afternoon?”

  “Hmm. I am in the middle of something. And I’m underdressed.”

  “Sir?”

  He explained about the sweat suit. “On the other hand, it is department issue.”

  “That’s good enough for me. Shall we say this afternoon, as soon as you can get here?”

  “This is really that important?”

  “I’m afraid so.”

  “Just a second.”

  Boone covered the mouthpiece and ran it past Keller.

  “Who is she again?”

  “The department counselor who works with people who have gone through traumas, fired a shot in the line of duty, been wounded, that kind of thing.”

  “Lost loved ones.”

  “Right.”

  “And what’s so important?”

  Boone told him what she had said.

  “You and I have a lot to cover today, Boones. But tell her yes. I’ll be sure I’m out of my three o’clock in time so when you’re done with her, I’ll be free.”

  Back on the phone, Boone said, “On my way.”

  Boone retrieved the Mannock transcript and Jack told him, “The interesting stuff starts on page sixteen.”

  Boone riffled through the pages. The US Attorney was abbreviated USA.

  USA: And what makes you wonder about the paternity of the child in question?

  DM: You mean if I’m the dad?

  USA: Yes, sir.

  DM: ’Cause she was loose. She even liked telling me about all her other lovers.

  USA: So you’re saying that [name deleted] could not be yours, in your opinion?

  DM: Well, he could be, I guess. But I’d say maybe a one-in-ten chance.

  Boone tensed, the pain breaking through his medication. The last thing he wanted was to keep reading. “Any more of this relevant?”

  “He asks him later if he’s ever seen Max.”

  “Just tell me what DeWayne said.”

  “Said he had no reason.”

  Boone looked out the window and shook his head. “Too bad there are metal detectors at the courthouse. Fox and Mannock in the same room? That would be too tempting.”

  “Don’t say that to anyone but me, Boones.”

  “Don’t worry. You know, Haeley was a virgin when she met DeWayne—”

  “I don’t need to hear that, but I hope you’re right.”

  “Jack, I hope she’s going to be my wife someday and that we will all still be friends, maybe even coworkers. You need to know. Haeley and DeWayne lived together for about six weeks before she came to her senses. When she found out she was pregnant, he left and she never saw him again.”

  “Classy guy.”

  “See? She went through some deep stuff, came back to her faith, reconciled with her parents, had Max, and pretty much stayed below the radar as she rebuilt her life.”

  “Until now.”

  “Exactly.”

  “You see the photo of him, Boones, there at the end of the transcript.”

  Boone leafed to an eight-by-ten black-and-white headshot. “Are you serious? He’s a white trash cliché!”

  That made Jack laugh. “Gotta love the mullet and the moustache that looks like underarm hair. And what is that? Looks like a tux shirt.”

  Boone studied it. “It’s his work shirt. See the logo of the casino? He wore that to the interview?”

  “Perfect.”

  Boone put everything away, stashed it between the seats, and pulled out his notebook again.

  “That looks jammed, Boones. How much information you got for me?”

  “Oh, just what I learned from a whole day’s work yesterday, that’s all.”

  “We’ve got only a few more minutes before we hit the city, and traffic is light. Give me the basics.”

  “No. It’s complicated. Hey, after you drop me, you’re going to the office, right? There’s something I need.”

  “Oh, goody! I get to play secretary again? Let me stop home for a skirt first.”

  “That I don’t even want to think about.”

  “Well, I don’t have gams like Margaret, but I’d stack ’em up against any other guy my age.”

  “Spare me.”

  “So what do you need now, Boones?”

  “Thelma Wade’s maiden name.”

  Jack pressed his lips together and shook his head. “Why do you have to be nosing around Pete? It doesn’t look good, turning the spotlight on him.”

  “Jack, the evidence leads me where it leads me. Now if her maiden name isn’t what I think it is, a lot of this goes away. If it is, there are things you need to be aware of.”

  “Well, I knew her maiden name at one time. It’s on the tip of my tongue. It should be easy enough to get.”

  “Without his knowing you’re asking?”

  “No, I think it makes more sense to let him know that while he’s investigating Haeley, we’re investigating him! What do you take me for, Boones?”

  “Sorry.”

  “So, do you know the maiden name and just need it confirmed, or . . . ?”

  “Maybe,” Boone said.

  “I remember it’s just a normal name, nothing exotic. Miller. Jones. Something plain like that. Hit me with it; see if it rings a bell.”

  “I can’t, Jack. I don’t want to suggest anything. I’ve got to have it confirmed for sure.”

  “Fair enough. Hey, you going into an office building in a sweat suit and parka with your Beretta peeking out?”

  Boone shrugged. “Yes.”

  “Speaking of classy. All you need now is a mullet and a moustache.”

  3:10 p.m.

  To Boone’s surprise, when he got off the elevator, the fiftyish, matronly, Latvian Brigita Velna was waiting for him. He followed her to her crowded, plain office and was directed to the side table, where she joined him.

  “You know me as honest and straightforward, do you not, Officer Drake?”

  “If nothing else, ma’am.”

  “I felt we made a bit of connection while you were working through your trauma.”

  “I agree,” Boone said, wondering if she was overstating it. “I appreciated your help.”

  “I don’t generally get to where conversing with a troubled officer becomes as easy as it did with you. So often they are here against their wills, and they don’t want to hear what I have to say.”

  “You also made it clear that your priority was the CPD and not the employee.”

  “Like I say, I want to be honest.”

  “But if you stipulate that with everybody, it might explain some of the distance you feel.”

  “That and the fact that my looking out for the department means I often recommend keeping affected officers off the job longer than they’d like. You took it well. I appreciated that.”

  “I was faking it.”

  She smiled. “I knew that. But you didn’t get your back up or file a report on me or lodge an appeal.”

  “Didn’t have the energy.”

  “Detective, I want to tell you what’s going on, but I must first ask for your complete confidence. Because of our history, I am prepared to say more than I ever have to an employee under review. If you’d rather I not—”

  “Oh, I’d rather you would.”

  “As long as we understand each other.”

  She stood and grabbed a file off her desk, then returned to the table, seeming to study just the first two pages. “As I hinted on the phone, someone downtown is bum-rushing the process with you. Frankly, I think I am being pressured by the brass because the brass is being pressured by someone else.”

  “Who?”

  “I don’t know. It’s just a hunch.”

  “Welcome to my world. So what’s the thrust?”

  “They want you
off the job, and they want me to be the one who gets that done.”

  “I can save you a lot of time and effort, because that’s not going to happen.”

  She held up a hand. “Don’t dismiss anything out of hand. You haven’t heard this yet. Anyway, if I do what I’m supposed to, follow the directives of my superiors, I have to see this through. For you to counter it, you would have to appeal, and that could hurt me.”

  “I don’t want to do that, ma’am, but that will not keep me from fighting for my job.”

  “I was afraid of that.”

  “But you’re not surprised.”

  “No, but I will be if you hear the offer they’re making and still refuse.”

  “They’ve sweetened the pot that much just to get rid of me? Who am I such a threat to?”

  “I don’t want to know, but you want to hear this.”

  “Fire away. Maybe the wrong choice of words.”

  That made Brigita Velna smile again, and Boone knew that was rare.

  “I have to say, Officer, that their suggestion of how to frame this is hard to take issue with. I might have gone this route myself, even without input. I’m sure you’re aware of what in my profession we call stress indicators.”

  “Sure.”

  “These are measured by major life experiences, good and bad. For instance, being promoted can be nearly as stressful as being fired. Having a child can be nearly as stressful as losing a child. Numbers are associated with the stress levels for such events, and if a person’s totals are above a certain figure, they become a candidate for a breakdown—or at least for being at risk as an employee.”

  “I’m with you.”

  “All right then, follow this. Some of the most stressful crises in an adult’s life are these: the loss of a spouse, the loss of a child, a change of residence, being charged with a crime or malfeasance, a promotion, a life-threatening injury, and major surgery. Any one of those rates so high on the stress list that it raises a red flag. Add another from the same list, even if both were positives—say a promotion and a move—and professionals should take notice. Do you see where I’m going with all this?”

  “I’d have to be deaf and blind not to. Would falling in love be on that list?”

  “It would. Is that true of you too, Detective?”

 
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