The Betrayal, p.27Jerry B. Jenkins
“What’s your plan, Chief?”
“Just going to show up in Pete’s office. His look will tell me all I need to know, not that there’s any mystery left.”
“And I can come with you?”
“I may need backup.”
“No, you won’t.”
“But you wouldn’t want to miss this, would you, Drake?”
“Not for a million dollars.”
Thursday, February 11, 1:35 a.m.
When he emerged from the marked squad that pulled in behind Jack and Boone and Carl Earl’s phony septic truck at the CPD precinct station house on North Sedgwick, Antoine Johnson proved to be a buff, good-looking man in his late twenties, skin the color of milk chocolate. He looked both agitated and embarrassed.
Half a dozen cops jogged out, guns drawn, and surrounded the truck—something Jack had arranged while Boone was busy monitoring Haeley and talking to Fletcher Galloway.
Boone extricated himself and his excruciating shoulder from the unmarked squad in time to see Jack approach the young Johnson with both palms facing out at chest level. “Officer, you and I are going to have a talk after I tell you how this is going to go down.”
“You’re protecting a civilian who shot a cop back there!”
“A cop taking aim at fellow officers,” Jack said. “And that civilian happens to be a former cop who saved our lives.”
“Speaking of fellow officers, do you know how hard it was for me to stay on your tail when other cops were making arrests on the Kennedy?”
“There were plenty of them,” Jack said. “They didn’t need you. But how do you think your coconspirators felt about your abandoning them?”
“I was told they were with us on this deal,” Johnson said.
“And what was this deal, Officer?” Jack said.
“A breach of security at the safe house.”
Jack turned to an officer at the precinct. “Take the truck around back and get the family out of the tank. Maximum protective custody until you hear back from me.”
The cops directed Carl’s truck down a narrow alley between buildings as Antoine Johnson peered after them. “Don’t worry,” Keller said. “It’s all under control now.”
“This is one monster snafu,” the young cop said.
“Who were you under orders from, son?”
“The Gang Enforcement Section commander of the Organized Crime Division.”
“And you don’t think I know you two are related?”
Johnson’s eyes darted; then he seemed to study the unmarked squad. “What’s that smell?”
“That’s rubber on steel, Officer,” Jack said. “I’m surprised we made it this far.”
“What’s going on, Chief Keller?”
“You really don’t know, do you?”
“I thought I did, and I want to, but I’m freezing.”
“Let’s get inside,” Jack said.
“I’m taking the car,” Boone said.
“Take his,” Jack said. “Mine’s not going to last much longer.”
Antoine Johnson shot Jack a double take. “I can’t let—”
“Relax. I’ll clear it. We’ll get you wherever you need to go.”
Johnson shrugged. “Keys are in it, Drake. Bring it back in one piece.”
As Jack led Johnson inside and Boone was getting into the squad, he heard the young officer saying, “All I know is, Commander Wade—yes, my uncle and a man I have admired all my life—told me . . .”
Was it possible he really didn’t know what was happening? Worse than his disappointment in Pete Wade would be his chagrin over being duped.
Fewer than ten minutes later Boone rolled up on the perimeter established by the SWAT team half a block from the Wade condo. Once he had identified himself, he was cleared through to the officer in charge, whom he told about the pizza delivery.
“That’ll be perfect, sir. Our assessment at this point is that it is just the two women in there now. We doubt the one is armed, but we want to ensure the safety of the other.”
“Let me make the delivery.”
“Won’t she recognize you?”
“I’ll wear the delivery guy’s hat and stand close to the peephole. That’s all she’ll see.”
“Okay, but as soon as that door comes open, my guys will overwhelm her with size, noise, and . . . well, you know the drill.”
“Just tell ’em to watch the shoulder, eh?”
“You’re a hero to these men, sir. Nobody’s going to let you get hurt again.”
Boone moved through the phalanx of massive bodies outfitted head to toe in black helmets, armored vests, padded gloves, elbow and knee pads, and combat boots. Each carried an M4, a heavy, ugly assault rifle nightmares are made of. The appearance of star troopers alone would give pause to most bad guys. Boone didn’t figure Mrs. Wade would offer much resistance.
He waited on the street near a gate that led to the condo complex, shivering in the darkness. Adrenaline fought his ravaged shoulder for attention. Boone would be so glad when this was over.
A few minutes later, a beat-up compact car with a lighted pizza sign on top skidded to the curb. When Boone emerged from the darkness to the light of a nearby streetlamp, the delivery guy opened his door a crack. “I’m not carrying much cash, but I have Mace!”
Boone flashed his badge. “Chicago PD. Just need a second.”
The man emerged and approached cautiously, a red thermal bag in one hand, a small canister in the other. “Let me see that ID again.”
Boone showed him and introduced himself.
“I know you,” the man said. “You’ve been on the news.”
“Good. I’m going to make this delivery for you. I just need you to give me the pizza and your hat, and there’s fifty bucks in it for you.”
“Sure! But I gotta get the bag back. Any pie will be cold in sixty seconds in this weather without that.”
“Don’t need it,” Boone said.
Boone pulled the cap down over his eyes, then waited as he slid the box from the bag. “You get yourself clear of the area now, hear?”
“I’d ask what’s going on, but I don’t suppose—”
“I can tell you? You’re right.”
Boone moved down the row of condos, and four SWAT team members fell in silently behind him. He approached the door of the fifth one from the street and leaned in so the only thing anyone could see through the peephole from inside was the hat and a bit of his face in the shadows.
He rang the bell. “Pizza!”
When he didn’t hear anything, Boone was tempted to peer through the window. But he knew better.
The inner door opened and Thelma Wade stood there with her purse and only the glass door between them. “How much again?” she said.
“Ticket’s in my pocket,” Boone muttered. “Can you take the pizza?”
Mrs. Wade set her purse down and opened the door, but as she reached, Boone’s four backups slipped past him and stormed in.
“Down on the ground!”
“Hands behind you!”
“Ms. Lamonica! Are you here? Chicago PD!”
Boone stepped inside just as Haeley appeared.
“You all right, ma’am?” one of the officers said as Haeley held a hand over her mouth and looked down on Thelma Wade, who was being handcuffed. A female SWAT team member suddenly took charge.
“You’re under arrest for kidnapping, unlawful detainment, and conspiracy to commit extortion. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. . . .”
Boone moved past the officers to Haeley, who set her jaw when he wrapped his good arm around her.
“You were great,” he whispered. “Like you were made for this.”
“All I want is to see Max. How soon can we—?”
“When did you sleep last, Boone?”
“I don’t even remember. But I’ll be on adrenaline rush for a while. When this is all over, you can drive, and I’ll medicate myself. You can wake me when we get there.”
When Boone pulled into the department headquarters parking garage downtown, he found Fletcher Galloway just inside the double glass doors that led to the elevator. Fletch had his hands deep in his pockets, shoulders hunched, and was pacing, his breath visible.
“Get where it’s warm, man,” Boone said.
“Don’t want Pete to know I’m here yet. Anyway, we’re waiting on Keller.”
“Good job at the condo, but you’ve been out of the loop. Jack’s bringing Officer Johnson with him and one other special guest.”
“Wants to be here. What can I say? Jack can hardly believe it, but he’s become convinced Johnson was duped. And Jack has custody of Thelma. She’s ready to come clean. Mostly to get leniency for herself, I guess, but Ms. Lamonica had a big influence on her.”
“Haeley has that gift. She’s had a big influence on me, too. Where do they have her, by the way?”
“Being interrogated upstairs. Fritz Zappolo is with her. He’ll probably bill you for overtime.”
Boone wanted to laugh, but Fletch still looked grave. “Tough night for you, boss.”
Galloway looked away and nodded. “Some good police work going on, though. Listen, when the rest get here, we’re going to meet in the little conference room on three. And if Wade starts to leave before we get to him, the front desk will tip me off. Don’t think he’s going anywhere, though.”
“Keller got Johnson to give Pete misleading information. He knows Jazzy is dead, but he thinks Pascual and his family are too. As far as he knows, the only ones who can tie him to the mess are his wife and Garrett Fox. If he’d succeeded and we weren’t onto him, he just has to eliminate Fox and control Thelma, and he’s home free.”
Thelma Wade looked like death and spent most of her time apologizing to her nephew. Antoine had the shell-shocked look of one whose world had caved in before he knew why. The truth seemed to be washing over him in stages. “Uncle Pete’s a very persuasive and convincing guy,” he said, shaking his head. “Had me go with him to the bank and to the evidence lab!”
When they were settled in the meeting room, Fletcher Galloway quickly ran down how he thought the confrontation should go.
“It should start with Drake,” Jack Keller said.
“He’s dead to rights and we got all we need on him, but you deserve the satisfaction.”
“So do I,” Thelma said.
“That’s for sure,” Jack said.
“Don’t forget me,” Antoine said.
“We’ll all get to make our appearances,” Fletcher said. “And while this may seem satisfying, seeing a guy get his, it’s not a happy day.”
Fletch herded everybody to an anteroom down the hall from Pete’s office and set Boone’s phone to transmit to his own so they could all listen in.
Boone dialed Pete’s cell.
“Hey, Boone! What’re you doing up?”
“Just heard everything went in the toilet at the safe house.”
“Yeah, tough deal. One of the guards was killed too. A guy I assigned there.”
“You anywhere we can talk? I’m downtown and I wouldn’t be able to sleep anyway.”
“I’m in my office, Boone. I don’t sleep well after a fellow officer is lost either. Come on over.”
Thursday, February 11, 2:46 a.m.
Boone had never seen Pete Wade looking anything but dapper, but here he sat, out of uniform, plaid flannel shirt over jeans. And when he stood to welcome the younger man, Boone noticed his tan construction boots. On his desk lay a stack of papers that looked like busywork, time sheets and the like. Who did that kind of work during the wee hours?
Pete’s familiar look of confidence was gone too. He appeared distracted, continually checking his watch. His Glock was strapped into his shoulder holster. He pointed to the chair in front of his desk, and Boone sat.
“Sad day for the CPD, eh?” Boone said.
“Hm? Oh yeah! Press will be all over this. All your great work with Candelario, and most of it goes up in smoke.”
“A lot of evidence is already in play.”
“I know,” Boone said. “Without the star witness . . .”
“I’m sorrier than ever that you got mixed up in this, Boone.”
“Mixed up in it? It was my case, Pete.”
“But look what it’s cost you. Almost your life. Your shoulder. Your new relationship. Maybe your career.”
Do you know, Pete? Do you have any inkling, speaking of relationships and careers? How about your freedom? “I’m pretty disillusioned, I’ve got to say that,” Boone said.
“I can only imagine.”
No, you can’t.
“But don’t let it get you down, Boone. Remember Fletch and Jack and others who walk the talk.”
“And you, Pete. Much as I hate that walking the talk cliché, you’ve been an example to me.”
“Oh, well, I don’t know about that. To me there’s only one way to do this job.”
“Mm-hm. Hey, thanks for showing me your Glock the other day. Sweet.”
“It is, isn’t it?”
“May I see it again?”
Pete unsnapped the flap over the holster, then hesitated, staring at Boone. Had Boone given himself away? He had to get the weapon from Pete so he wasn’t dangerous to Boone or to himself.
“You’ve got me thinking about switching from the Beretta.”
“Really?” Pete said, seeming to relax. He handed over the sidearm. “There are a lot of similarities.”
Boone hefted the piece. “Still, there’s something about a Glock.”
“That there is.”
“Jazzy always liked the Glocks, didn’t he, Pete?”
“Villalobos. He was the arms guy for the DiLoKi, and he was a Glock man.”
“You tell me, Pete. He was your friend, not mine.”
A hardness settled in Wade’s eyes. “Give me the gun back, Boone.”
“Answer the question. Jazzy get you a good deal on the Glock of your choice?”
“What’re you implying?”
“I’m not implying anything. I’m saying it straight out. All the pieces fit, Pete. You and Jazzy, Glocks, Jazzy’s nephew taking a shot at me. You and Fox trying to frame Haeley to get to me.”
“I want the gun back, now.”
“If I give you anything right now, it’ll be one between your eyes. You always told me to follow the evidence. In fact, you even told me once to follow the money. Well, I’ve followed it all, and guess where it all leads?”
“You’ve got nothing,” Pete said, standing now.
Boone rose and cocked the Glock. “Sit. It’s over. No more dancing, no more misdirection. So many people are ready to tell the truth, you have nowhere to hide anymore.”
Pete slumped back down. “Haeley? Who’s going to believe a tramp like that?”
“Nice try. You’d love to goad me into putting one in you, wouldn’t you? We’ve got all we need on you even without Haeley.”
“Who’ve you got, Drake? Fox? He’s damaged goods. Jazzy? Dead!”
“Yeah, you even got one of your plants at the safe house killed. You going to kill everybody, Pete?”
Wade blanched when his wife slipped in. “Yes, Peter, are you going to kill me, too? You’ve taken so much from me that you’ll have to to keep me from telling everything
“Thelma! What are you saying? You let them get to you?”
“Uncle Pete,” Antoine said from the doorway, nearly in tears. “How could you?”
“You too? After all I’ve done for you? You turn on me?”
“Don’t do this, Uncle Pete. I had no reason not to believe you. You were my hero, my role model. I bought everything you said.”
“It was all true, Antoine! They’re just pulling your chain now, trying to cover for themselves by blaming me!”
“Stop! I’ve seen the evidence. You can’t fool me twice.”
Jack came in, looking miserable, gazing sadly at Wade.
“I should have known you’d be behind all this, Keller,” Pete said. “You’ve been jealous of me for so long.”
“That’s true,” Jack said. “I never thought I could ever be the cop you were.”
“Jack, it was Fox! He threatened me. He had the connections to the DiLoKi. I had no choice!”
But when Fletcher Galloway appeared, Pete fell silent. It was the end of a reputation, end of a career, end of life as Wade knew it. And Boone knew that if Wade still had his weapon, he would have shot them all or himself.
“You were one of my stars,” Fletch said. “One of my boys.”
Thelma burst into tears and Antoine led her out, Pete calling after them.
“It’s just us now, Pete,” Boone said. “Just our little team. When I joined the OCD, I thought I’d landed in paradise. What cop wouldn’t have given everything he owned for a privilege like this? Look what you’ve done to us.”
“I want a lawyer. I’m not saying any more.”
“You don’t need to,” Fletch said. “Everything you’ve said since Drake got here is on the record.”
“What can I do, Fletch? I’ll do anything, give up anybody, everybody. I know I can’t keep the job, but I can’t go to jail. Please. For old time’s sake.”
The old man approached Pete’s desk and leaned over it, palms flat on the top. “I liked you better when you weren’t going to say any more.”
“Fletch, please! We go way back. I’m going to need you in my corner.”
“There’s nobody in your corner, Pete,” Fletch said. “Nobody who can help you. Word I get is that Fox is already singing, and you know the tune.”
The Betrayal by Jerry B. Jenkins / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes