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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, The Murdered Football Player Series, Case of the Black Widow series, Teresa’s Christmas Story, The Case of the Black Badge series, A Case of Revenge series, Teresa’s Summer Race, The Trilogy series, Dark Side Of The Force series, Caught In The Act series, Case of the Murdered Bride series, The Credit Card Caper series, The Hot Wives Investment Club series, Seriously Inconvenienced series, Case of the Paper Trail series, Christmas Mystery Theater, The Porno Set Mystery series, The Medical Murder Mystery series, The Eightfold Fence series.
Pale Morning Light, Ch. 01.
Feedback and constructive criticism is very much appreciated, and I encourage feedback for ideas.
This story contains graphic scenes, 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 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 1 – Prologue: Remembering the Fallen
Dawn, February 3d. It was a cold Tuesday morning on Cemetery Hill, and there was an edge of overcast to the dawn. The morning light was pale and weak, matching the feelings in my deepest soul as I lay a small bouquet of flowers before the tombstone of the late Police Corporal Peter M. Feeley. It was one year ago this day that he had been brutally murdered by Angela Harlan, the Black Widow, and her cohorts. I was remembering my failure in the Black Widow case, the cost, and my resolve to not fail in that way again. I became lost in contemplation.
Something told me to come back. I realized that there was movement behind me. I turned around and was totally shocked to see that twenty uniformed officers of the Town & County Police Force were standing behind me in formation, led by Sergeant Micah Rudistan and joined by Senior Patrolmen Chet Morton, Hicks and Johnson, Officer Lydia Green, and others that had known Feeley. Myron Milton was in the group, making a rare appearance his police uniform. Behind them were retired officers Chief Emeritus Griswold and Captain Leslie Charles. And in front of the group was Lt. Tanya Perlman, holding Pete Feeley’s baby son.
A college student, who was also part of the University’s ROTC, came forward with a bugle, and as Sergeant Rudistan called us to attention, the officer played ‘Taps’ on his bugle. As the sonorous sounds of the bugle call faded, officers came forward with a wreath of flowers, setting the wreath next to my bouquet. Tanya then brought a bouquet from herself, little Pete and also Pete’s mother, who would visit the grave site later in the day.
After the flowers were laid, I saw and felt all the eyes on me, as if expecting me to say something. My vision was a bit blurry and my voice wasn’t working well as I said “Thank you, everyone, for coming this morning. Let us… let us never forget Pete Feeley’s sacrifice as we… as we go forward and continue his work, serving this Town and County as the law enforcement officers that we are.”
“Amen.” I heard a few people murmur, then we began dispersing. Tanya hooked her arm into mine, mostly to make sure I did come with them and discontinued my propensity for self-recriminations, and we left the quiet place on the hill where Officer Pete Feeley continued his eternal overwatch…
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“How was Don this morning, Cindy?” asked Laura as she, Phyllis and Cindy ate lunch at Laura’s favorite Soup & Sandwich Shop on the little man-made lake north of the University. They were eating indoors due to the cold weather outside. “Has he bitten anyone’s head off yet?”
“Oh no, nothing like that.” Cindy said. “He is pretty quiet and morose today, though, and he’s pretty much stayed in his office. I daresay paperwork is getting done in there, but I told his new assistant Helena about Pete’s death and that Don might not be his normal self today.”
“Laura,” asked Phyllis, “do you think this is normal, or is Don overreacting to Officer Feeley’s death a year ago?” Cindy had a bit of a sharp look in her eyes at that, but didn’t say anything.
“I’m not sure.” Laura replied, her eyes and voice becoming introspective. “Of all Don’s cases and even the fire at The Cabin and near-deaths of us all, nothing has really affected him like losing Pete Feeley. I think Don blames himself that he did not figure out the Black Widow in time, or that he did figure it out but did not act quickly enough. He blames himself for Pete’s death.”
“I think you’re right.” said Cindy. “It was a near thing with Hugh Hewitt, gaziantep manken escort too. Don blames himself there, as well, though he shouldn’t.”
“True.” Laura said. “But there’s one other thing. He took Tanya Perlman on the Hewitt raid knowing full well what Tanya was going to do… exterminate Angela Harlan. And that really did a great amount of good for Tanya, getting revenge for Pete’s death. But Don has had no such outlet. He still hasn’t found had a way to expiate what he considers his shame for his failure. He allowed Tanya to kill Harlan, which was a bigger sacrifice on his part than he’ll ever let on, and while he has taken out the Corrigan Cell and is on the track of Wargrave and this ‘real Moriarty’ person, he simply hasn’t been able to let go of Pete Feeley’s death.”
“Is there anything we can do?” asked Phyllis. “Is there anyone still out there upon whom we can unleash my son?” She knew full well the answer; she was saying that to get Cindy to think. And Cindy did.
“You know,” the platinum blonde policewoman said, having an insight, “there still is someone from the Feeley murder that is still out there… that guy Don calls ‘Skinny Beard’, who may have injected the poison into Feeley, and did inject it into Hugh. Skinny Beard might have had a hand in the attempt to murder Don on the day Rev. Oldeeds was shot, and he was believed to be associating with the Corrigan Cell and maybe even worked with Ned and his drug creations. Skinny Beard but didn’t go on the mission where Taichi-sama destroyed the Corrigan Cell, but he was at the house they were hiding in. He’s still at large, and maybe if Don could get him…”
“That’s an excellent idea, my dear.” said Phyllis. “You’ve been researching all of this stuff. Any insight as to where this ‘Skinny Beard’ might be?”
“I’m not a Troy, so no sudden insights here.” Cindy replied. “The FBI thinks he went to the City. He may have skipped the State altogether. Laura, what do you think about… Laura?”
But Laura was not hearing anything… she was in a reverie of her own…
Part 2 – Trial Preparations
(Author’s note: see ‘Dark Side of the Force’, Ch. 1, to refresh your memories of the Bryan Thatcher arrest.)
“This is Bettina Wurtzburg, KXTC Channel Two News!” yelled the lovely redheaded reporterette from the Courthouse steps at 7:00am on Wednesday, Feb. 4th. “KXTC has learned that Judge Patrick R. Folsom will recuse himself in the dog abuse trial of Bryan Thatcher, set to begin Monday. Judge Folsom cited the fact that he owns several dogs as the reason. He has given the case to law-and-order Judge Rodney K. Watts, who does not own any dogs… and does not tolerate theatrics in his Courtroom.”
Bettina continued: “This is a huge blow to the Thatcher’s defense team from Chase, Lynch & Berry, P.C., who intend to mount a defense of police abuse of Mr. Thatcher at the scene when he was arrested. Judge Watts has set aside a motion for a change of venue, saying that he will first determine if a jury can be seated from within the County. He also denied a defense request for a continuance, stating that the defense has had adequate time to prepare their case no matter which judge would be presiding. The defense team has said they will appeal both rulings.”
“In other news, with the Budget battle essentially over in the State Legislature, the politicians are now turning to the key legislation to revamp the State Bureau of Investigation. It is expected to be a huge battle, and no one knows exactly what will come of it. The SBI Reserve Program is on the table, as well as the scope and jurisdiction of the SBI’s Narcotics Task Force, which has come under fire in recent months. Local citizens will remember the botched drug raid that ended with gunfire exchanged with the Town & County Police, who were raiding the same drug felons at the same time. State Senator Katherine Woodburn is leading the fight for more State jurisdiction over local agencies, but she has plenty of opposition around the State to her plans, including our own State House Representative, Billy Williams. This is Bettina Wurtzburg, KXTC Channel Two News!”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Cindy Ross and I were in the District Attorney’s office in the Courthouse, at a meeting with District Attorney Gil Krasney and Assistant District Attorney Paulina Patterson, who was prosecuting the Bryan Thatcher case. Sheriff Daniel Allgood had also been invited to the meeting, and was sitting in.
“The defense intends to call you as a witness, Don.” said Paulina. “But it’s so they can attempt to paste a police abuse charge onto you. They have no chance of acquitting Thatcher after we show the dog abuse evidence; their only hope is to get the jury to sympathize with Thatcher by claiming you physically abused him while he was in your custody. I might add that Katherine Woodburn has been monitoring gaziantep masaj yapan escort this case and has been working with the defense team on Thatcher’s behalf, as well as throwing the Media some red meat about the case.”
“This should be simple to defuse.” I said. “Call me to the stand yourself. First ask me to explain what ‘resisting arrest’ is, so that I can give the jury a thorough explanation. Then ask about my crowbar being like a billy stick that all officers have. Then we’ll move to my training; I and the majority of our Officers have been trained by a two-sport black belt named Lieutenant Cindy Ross in proper techniques and use of the crowbar and nightstick. Then you put Cindy on the stand… and she can cut off any talk about Thatcher being pushed off the front porch, but I’ll leave her to make her own statement there.”
“I like that.” said Krasney. “It will also give some precedence for any future cases where your use of that crowbar has come up. Defense attorneys have been trying to use that in the past, but without success. This case has publicity about it, thanks to Katherine Woodburn, but I like your way of diffusing it.”
“The resisting arrest part is key.” I said. “We have to spoon feed that to the jury so they’ll have doubts about anything Thatcher says. After that, I think if you show the jury the pictures of the dogs in your final summation, it’ll be all over for that son of a bitch.”
“I’ll be so glad when this case is over.” Paulina said. “I start crying every time I see those pictures. I’m going to have to work hard not to break down when I show them to the jury.”
“Just be glad you weren’t at the scene when we made the arrest.” Cindy said. “That was the worst thing I have ever seen; I still have nightmares about it…”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Ah Katherine, so nice to see you.” said Henry R. Wargrave as State Senator Katherine Woodburn was admitted into his office high atop one of the City’s skyscrapers. “Would you care for some water or green tea?”
“Thank you, Mr. Wargrave, but I’m fine. Oh, thank you.” she said as Henry Wargrave held a chair for her to sit in. Once she was seated, he went around behind his desk and sat down. The pale light coming through the windows was to his back and fully in Katherine’s face.
“First, please call me ‘Henry’, if I can be so presumptive and call you ‘Katherine’.” said Wargrave.
“Why thank you, Henry.” said Katherine. “And I hope we’ll be working much more closely together while I’m in the State Senate.”
“I’m sure we will.” said Wargrave smoothly. “So how are you liking our State Legislature?”
“It’s good.” Katherine said. “I think some of those politicians underestimated me, and I had to show them my years running KXTC gave me more spine than they have put together. I’m sure you know all about that, since you’re running KSTD now.”
“Well, I’m merely a part owner and silent partner in the background, but I have some good people running it for me.” Wargrave said. “Certainly not the caliber you were while running KXTC.”
“You’re too kind, Henry.” said Katherine. “So, how may I be of service to you today?” Wargrave had called the meeting and invited Katherine to his offices.
“Just a couple of things upon which I’d like to get your viewpoints.” said Wargrave. “First, the Thatcher trial is starting over in our friend the Iron Crowbar’s County. Is there anything we can do to help cause Mister Troy some pain in that case?”
“I’ve done what I can.” said Katherine. “Chase, Lynch he’s a total buffoon.”
“Don’t underestimate Ms. Patterson.” said Wargrave, a bit surprised by Katherine’s racist language. “And KSTD is ready to begin the police abuse chant, and to try to make it resonate with the Black community, but only after the trial. Dog abuse is a tremendous headwind for us in this case. People love dogs.”
“I hope we can make the police abuse case resonate with the Blacks also, Henry. I’ve been talking to Reginald B.F. Lewis extensively about it.” said Katherine. “So what was your second question of me?”
“Ah.” said Wargrave, very slightly put off by Katherine’s directness in coming to the critical point of the meeting. “The SBI battles are coming in the Legislature. What is your goal there? And what is your strategy for implementing that goal?”
“I am working with more senior colleagues on those issues.” said Katherine. “We hope to increase the SBI’s presence in all areas of the State, and to make sure the SBI always has jurisdiction over the Counties and any local law enforcement agency in the State.”
“The Governor is in opposition to that, as well as the grassroots groups around the State.” said Wargrave. “Are you prepared to deal with them?”
“I’ll crush them as I crushed that TEA Party Extremist John Cummings.” said Katherine Woodburn. “It’s gaziantep masöz escort time these ‘Constitutionalists with guns’ learn that we are in power and in control of them, not the other way around. And we will use the power of Government to exercise that control, beginning with our broad, far-reaching legislation to strengthen the police power of the SBI.”
Wargrave could feel the woman’s deep passion for this issue as she spoke. “Well then, I wish you the very best of luck with it.” he said. “Shall we have some lunch? There’s a great new restaurant in Westphalia, just south of the City here. I might be biased in my opinion, of course, as I am the majority owner of it…”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Returning from his lunch, Wargrave sat behind his desk for some time, lost in thought. As he looked out over the City through the windows of his office, seeing the stark grays and black contrasts of the buildings in the cold, pale light of the day, he considered his plan to keep the Iron Crowbar off guard during this very busy time in the Legislature, and in his own plans. Things were reaching a head, and the time for action was near.
“You wanted to see me, Hank?” asked Austin L. Murphy as he came in the door, having been called in by Wargrave and admitted by the secretary.
“Yes, Austin.” Wargrave said. “We have to put some things together. Things will be moving soon, and we need to make sure the Iron Crowbar has plenty of distractions. I want you to find that guy we call ‘Skinny Beard’. I want him to get some of his associates to create some mayhem in the Iron Crowbar’s county.”
“Yes sir.” said Murphy. “But before we do that, there’s something I need to tell you. Seems Conrad King and his group have gotten his son Jack out of the country; Jack is in France now. But they’re wanting to make a move in Alabama. With Malone’s death, they have some cleaning up to do, and they want Skinny Beard to be part of those clean-up operations.”
“Yes, that has to be taken care of, and I can’t be anywhere near it.” replied Wargrave. “We’ll just have to hope the Iron Crowbar is distracted with all the Legislative crap as well as the Thatcher trial.”
“Yes sir.” Murphy said. “By the way, after getting tips that the Governor wants Troy in Midtown to work on the SBI legislation for his, the Governor’s, team, I checked around… but I can’t find any hotel reservations for Troy. Is he going to commute every day?”
Wargrave smiled. “Austin, Austin, I’m disappointed. Think about it… who will the Iron Crowbar be seeing in his spare time while he’s in Midtown?”
“I’m sorry, Hank, I’m not getting your drift on this one.”
“His son, Austin. His son. Family.” Wargrave said.
“Ohhhhhh…” said Murphy, realizing what Wargrave was getting at. “Well, that makes him off limits to us, then. I’m not fucking with his kids, especially after what happened with that fire at his home. I don’t know who did that, but it was sheer stupidity.”
“I entirely agree. It was a mistake on that person’s part.” said Wargrave. “I’m just glad the Iron Crowbar knows it wasn’t me that was behind that fire…”
Part 3 – A Police Force Retirement
“This is Bettina Wurtzburg, KXTC Channel Two News!” blared Bettina on the morning of Thursday, Feb. 5th. “The Police Department has announced the retirement of their longest-serving drug dog, Sergeant Laika. Laika as been with the Force for a very long nine years. She will now live with her handler as a retired civilian pet dog, enjoying her remaining years with her favorite toy tennis balls.”
The screen was filled with images of the lovely Joanne Cummings petting and cuddling Laika as the dog’s handler looked on and Bettina said “Here Laika is posing with Detective Joanne Cummings of the Town & County Police Force. Laika will continue to make appearances at the local elementary schools, helping with the Drug Awareness Education Program for kids in the County. This is Bettina Wurtzburg, wishing Laika a happy retirement, and KXTC News will bring you breaking coverage when it happens…”
“Oh, she’s such a wonderful dog!” Joanne gushed as she lovingly petted Laika after the cameras had turned off. “I’d love to help you and Laika at the schools if I’m off duty or can get the Commander to let me go with you.”
“I think we can arrange for you to make a few appearances with Laika, if her owner is good with it.” I said as I petted the German Shepherd, always enjoying spending a few moments with our excellent K-9 officers. “I think if Laika didn’t already have an owner, Detective Cummings might just steal her away.”
“I would love that, but she’s Tom’s dog.” Joanne said wistfully.
“Come visit, anytime.” said Tom, Laika’s handler. Laika happily looked up at him.
“So, Commander,” said Bettina to me as she watched the outpouring of love for Laika, “speaking of dogs, are you ready for this dog abuser trial coming up?”
“I think the District Attorney’s office has it well in hand.” I said.
“I heard that Katherine Woodburn has really been working the Media to say that the Police abused and even tortured Thatcher during his arrest.” said Bettina.
“Seeing that you are the Media, Bettina, you’d know more about that than I would.” I replied, getting one over on the lovely redhead reporterette.
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