By Cindy and Walt
At the end of the last shift before my break, and after I made the dead drop at a Kentucky Fried Chicken, I just wanted to get out of town for my two days off. Since I was sure that I was being tracked electronically, going back to visit old friends was out of the question. My calls were most likely being monitored as well. All thing considered I decided to stay in Capitol City and just rest. I didn’t even want to have sex with anyone at that time. Martin had left me pretty well fucked up, and fucked out.
I spent both days sleeping late and riding my little bike all over town. I went to Heidi’s one night, but stayed only a very short time. It was just long enough to make my presence known. If anyone had anything to say to me I wanted to show that I was available. And yes I had long conversations with Liam. Lisa called me a couple of times but I didn’t answer. It was, all in all, a pleasant waste of two days of my life.
When I returned to work it was 11 PM Sunday night. I would be working all night long for the next five nights straight. I was sure it would be most trying on my body and on my mind. I could remember staying awake a few nights during the time I worked for The Arm. What I remember most about them was that they always kicked hell out of me. I could never understand why. I always felt like those days ran together with the ones before or after. I just couldn’t imagine what five all nighters in a row would be like.
Stonebridge was waiting when I arrived. “What?” I asked as he stared at me. “I’m not late or anything.”
“No but there is a rumor you were seen having breakfast with Martin. What were you thinking? He is married to an ADA (Assistant District Attorney). She can always find something to nail your ass with,” Stonebridge said.
“Okay, it was just breakfast. It won’t happen again,” I said. I did process the fact that Martin was married to an ADA. That could be the link. I was sure the Geek and my Controller knew about it even before I got back to my apartment from the dead drop.
I found out that night the pattern of midnight shifts. There was a flurry of activity from 11 PM till 2 AM and then it was just process the evidence from the earlier part of the evening until 5 AM or so when people began arriving at the restaurants and industrial plants. That is when they began to find the break-ins from the night before. It was a pattern that was to hold more or less through the whole rotation.
When I got home Monday morning, after having stopped for breakfast, I checked my messages from the Controller. My instructions were just to lay low while they were evaluating Martin. If I had a chance to approach Louise I could but I was not to force a meeting as I had with Martin.
I didn’t even try to think what all that meant. I just went to bed and slept ten hours from 10 AM till 8 PM. I got up twice to go pee but I didn’t eat either time. That being the case I was starved at 8 PM. It was a quick shower for me then off to the Family Steak House on north Main Street. I didn’t like to eat alone which was part of why I ate most of my meals in either a fast food restaurant or in a family style cafe where people knew each other. After a half dozen visits people say good morning and even sat down at my table to finish their coffee. Yeah a lot of it was the way I looked but it wasn’t all that because the sweat suit covered the boob job almost totally. Well some of the old men seemed to stare as if they knew, so I smiled at them as I walked by.
So the point is when I have to eat alone in a real family restaurant I feel so out of place. Not only that I tend to get depressed easily on those night. I only did it because I needed really good beef for a change. God only knew where the meat came from, even in those days. Probably last week’s loser at the race track. The dog or horse track loser was equally possible.
It would be much harder to tamper with something like a sirloin or T-bone steak, probably still possible but harder. So every now and then I went to a family steak house to have one. When I ate steak I ordered the steak, bread, and a salad, nothing else food wise. I’m just not a foodie. The basics are fine with me as long as it doesn’t float in grease, I am quite happy with southern cooking of most any kind. No I’m not above a pizza but those are southern cooking now. Just south side of New York or Chicago, I suppose.
Since I was such a simple eater, and since I had it drilled into my head at Church Camp I found ways to be like the chameleon. I almost never ran into people I knew while having dinner. Running into Martin and his wife set off bells in my head for that, if no other reason. The other reasons were pretty simple even the best hacker could set off alarms. If they were guilty and figured out I was tracking them they could be dangerous.
I know it sounds paranoid but then I planned to stay paranoid as long as I was undercover. “Well imagine running into to you here,” Martin said.
And right after you screw me, I thought but said, “Small world huh? So is this the Mrs. Martin you are always talking about?”
“I’m Mrs. Martin,” the slightly pudgy but well dressed and made up woman about forty said to me. “Though I doubt he talks too much about me. We try to keep our personal lives personal. He did however mention you.”
“Then to be honest I know very little about either of you. Want to sit down and fill me in?” I asked.
“Another time maybe,” Martin said as the moved on to a booth several feet away.
“Well you have to at least tell me what gossip Martin is spreading about me,” I demanded with a grin.
“Oh just that you seem to be an interesting person, one we might want to have over for dinner sometime,” Mrs. Martin said.
Now that was truly strange, I thought. He could have ignored me and I would have done the same. For some reason he made of point of introducing us. Maybe the two of them were into group sex or more likely they had someone they wanted to set me up with. Just to be sure there was no repeat of the morning but that made no sense either. I didn’t want to drop my guard but maybe it was a coincidence, I thought.
That night at work I mentioned that I had run into Martin and his wife Debbie at the Family Steak House. “That doesn’t seem like the kind of place they would be,” Stonebridge said.
“Yeah I thought that as well. I mean with the car he drives and all. I would have thought if they wanted steak it would be at the Gramercy.” The Gramercy was a fancy inn near the airport.
“At least The Outback,” Stonebridge agreed. “Well I guess it shows all people are multi faceted.”
“I guess it goes to show something,” I replied with a smile.
“You screwed him didn’t you?” he asked.
“Now you know I’m not going to cop to that,” I said.
“That means you did,” she said smiling.
“No it means, I’m not going to discuss my sex life with you and also is none of your business,” I said just as the phone rang. I waited till Stonebridge made note of the address and other information.
“Bar fight, we need to go pick up the bodies and you need to shoot a shot of everyone present at the scene,” Stonebridge said.
He was a fast but competent driver so we arrived in just a few moments. I got out of the SUV with camera at the ready and began to shoot the crowd before anyone left. After I shot the images of anyone on the scene I began to shoot the crime scene in as much detail as possible. I made several shots of the weapons involved, then shots of the evidence tags which Stonebridge attached to the plastic bags.
Once back in the lab I processed and copied my images to make sure they were easy to find in the folder therefore easier to use. I did that while Stonebridge checked the weapons for prints, then placed them into the evidence locker.
After that it was 2 AM and there was a backlog of DWI cases to be processed. I worked on the tapes of the Breathalyzer Tests while Stonebridge administered them. The tapes most likely would not end up in court but the test results would. My tape would only make it to court if the bozo plead not guilty, which didn’t happen all that often.
The last part of the shift we ran around collecting evidence from two commercial burglaries. We didn’t take a call that came in at 6:45 AM. We held it for the day shift since there were no victims leaving the scene. The first shift workers found the break in at the electrical warehouse waiting for them.
I put on my horse blanket parka, then walked from the station to my pickup truck. The horse blanket parka hid my boob job as well as most every other part of my body. I loved that parka but the men all hated it. Maybe that was why I love it so much. It was the total opposite of sexy.
Once the sun got up a little the temperature wasn’t so cold. By the time I got to the cafe it was warm enough to go without the parka the short distance from the truck to the door of the diner. I was shocked to see Martin in the place. I looked to be sure Debbie wasn’t with him before I sat down.
“So where is that cute little wife of yours?” I asked.
“Doing her job that allowed her to lease that fancy car for me. It was a birthday present,” he said. Obviously he suspected me of investigating him.
“So?” I asked. “Why are you telling me this?”
“After our morning together someone ran a credit check on me. I just figured it was you,” he said.
“Attack,” Liam said in my head.
“Why you arrogant son of a bitch. What in the world makes you think you are more than a one night stand to me? I have no fucking interest how much money you have or where it comes from. I would say you are paranoid and now maybe someone should look into your finances,” I said in a low but menacing voice.
“Well done,” Liam said. I nodded to him but not enough for Martin to see.
“Well it is just to much coincidence,” he said.
“Well don’t worry, when I charge your ass with harassment, that won’t be a coincidence either,” I said still on the attack.
I got up and walked out, even though Martin was calling after me to stay. I got home quickly and sent the draft Email. I explained that the Geek had tripped a cyber dead fall in his pursuit of Martin. After that I found some cereal and milk that hadn’t gone bad yet. I ate that while I waited for some contact.
Go to bed now. I will check to see if you are being watched and if you don’t hear from me go to dinner at the CiCi’s Pizza Buffet tonight a 9 PM. I’ll talk to you there, the reply read.
Nine PM found me at CiCi’s Pizza Buffet but I was also ready for work. I wore the parka that was either made for a horse blanket or a cheap Mexican throw rug. I never knew which but I did know that I liked it. I took off the parka and looked around. I had no idea who I was looking for so I decided to act as though I weren’t looking for anyone. To do that I paid the cashier and then went through the buffet. I loaded up a plate since I really do like pizza.
I was sitting with a coke and a plate full of pizza when a woman sat down. “Well Rose how you doing?” she asked.
“Sorry you must have me confused with someone else, my name is Naomi,” I said.
“Of course I am sorry,” she said but she didn’t move. “So I almost hate to tell you that your instincts were good. Jonathan Martin and his wife Debbie seem to be spending a lot more money than they make salary wise anyway. We haven’t tied them to any off shore accounts but I’m sure there are some. We are just going to keep looking. If we find them before we figure out how they did it we can probably get them to roll. If we can prove they are tampering with evidence then we can get them to give up the money as part of a plea deal. What I’m saying is we need to attack them from both angles.”
“And what part do I play in all this,” I said.
“You lay low unless they approach you. If they do, then play it by ear. Don’t do anything too dangerous, but do follow any reasonable lead,” the woman said.
“She’s setting you up and giving herself an out,” Liam said into my ear.
“Yeah, I know,” I said to Liam but the women thought I was talking to her.
“Okay just make yourself available but don’t overdo it. It will do more harm than good, if they get suspicious,” she said.
After the less than stellar meal, I drove to the Capitol building. There I just sat in the parking lot to think. I felt like with all the security so close by there was less chance of a roving car jacker.
“Just like you planned nothing has happened,” Liam said.
“If I am being followed it will give the watcher an hour of nothing, so maybe he or she will get tired of it,” I whispered.
“One can only hope. So what’s the plan,” Liam asked.
The plan according to the handler is to go about my business while they do background investigations. If Jonathan Martin or his wife Debbie contact me I’m just going to play along and see where it leads,” I suggested.
“What about the ME investigator Lisa. You know you want to see her again,” Liam said.
“No I don’t know that I do. If I run into her, I guess I will play that by ear as well,” I suggested. I started the car’s engine. For now I should get to the station before I freeze. It was after all 12 degrees outside the poorly insulated pickup truck.
After two complete night shifts the shifts were all screwed up in my head. We were suddenly relieving Louise. She was almost too curt in the defensive way that black women can be. It was almost as if she were defending herself before the assault on her. A kind of preemptive strike I had seen before.
It usually meant she was competent in most things but inspiring in nothing. Every word out of her mouth was a challenge somehow.
“Louise, you haven’t met Naomi Roberts,” Stonebridge said.
“Naomi,” she said taking my hand. There was almost a challenge in her voice.
“Miss Brown it is nice to meet you,” I said. I smiled to make it as warm as I could.
“So has it been a quiet evening?” Stonebridge asked.
“It has,” the almost petite Louise Brown answered. I had a call at the Galaxy but I think they got the doer before I got there,” she informed Stonebridge.
“Finest kind,” Stonebridge said.
“Well it’s end of shift, I’m headed home. Good night you two,” Louise said.
After she was gone I could tell Stonebridge was dying to gossip. “Okay I know you can’t wait to tell me the dirt so what is it,” I said.
“Louise was a cop till she got her knee blown out, not literally of course. During a chase she ran into a garden fence in the back of a house and got tangled in it. It tore and cut her up pretty good. She limps but you would hardly know it,” Stonebridge said.
“Ah I see,” I said.
“She is competent but doing just what she is told and takes no initiative at all. That’s why she will always be a Tech,” he said. “Fat Howard had nothing to worry about from her.”
“Oh and he does from you?” I asked.
“Actually, yes he does,” he said.
“So she got the cop medical disability then why did she come back to work?” I asked.
“Medical disability is half pay based on her salary at the time. That was less than they pay lab rats now and it isn’t enough to live well. So she came back as a lab rat but she just goes through the paces. She really has no interest in the job,” Stonebridge informed me.
“Probably sees it as less important than her job as a cop was. So when was she a cop?” I asked. Something about the time line wasn’t right. Stonebridge had inferred that she was a low paid cop when she was injured. She had to be at least fifty years old.
“I expect she has been out of the business 20 years,” Stonebridge said.
“And how long as a lab rat?” I asked.
“Probably five years or so,” he said.
“So what did she do for those fifteen years?” I asked myself as much as Stonebridge.
“Married, I think. Happy homemaker kind of thing,” he said. “Anyway she is divorced now.”
“Ah do you know if she has any kids?” I asked.
“She has at least one son, he came by here once. He was one big black kid and full of fuck you attitude. I really wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark parking lot,” Stonebridge said.
“Well do you remember his name?” I asked.
“Yeah his name is Reggie or something close to it,” he said.
“Well someday maybe I’ll get to meet her big bad son,” I said with a laugh.
“So you like big bad black men?” Liam asked. I didn’t answer him. He should know that it was about the job not about men of any kind. Of course I was not above mixing a little business with pleasure when it came to men.
I got a few moments alone when Stonebridge wanted to go to dinner with a friend. I convinced me to stay behind with the promise of a whopper, fry and coke order from the all night Burger King. While he was gone I sent a message to the Geek. I explained my interest in Louise Brown’s family.
The shift continued and finally ended with me not having to cover for Stonebridge. Since he returned from dinner on time and with no obvious signs of having been gone. He didn’t want to discuss it so I dropped it. When I went into the parking lot I found my trunk had been tampered with. Actually that is the wrong word. Someone had bumped it. There was a note leaving me a name and number.
Since the sun was above the horizon I checked the pickup and found nothing I thought of as new damage. There were several possibilities. One was damage too minor to even see but someone may have witnessed the accident. The note was from a man so it might be someone wanting to meet me, but it seemed a little extreme. Finally it could be someone wrote the note to cover having been seen poking around my truck. Nothing good could come from it.
When I got home I sent a second note to the Geek explaining the note on my windshield but none of my theories. It would be best to let him make his own scenarios. Since I hadn’t stopped for breakfast I prepared a bowl of cereal for myself. The bran flakes mixed with fruit and coffee was my breakfast.
Since I didn’t hear back from the Geek I was in bed by 9 AM. I slept well as I almost always did. Well at least since I did after my release from the joint.
“When I awoke at 7 PM I didn’t even check my mail. I put on my dry but slight aromatic fleece running suit. I pulled on my canvas shoes then rolled my bike down the stairs. I passed a few of the other lower middle class workers as I rode the bike off to dinner. The traffic was a hundred times worse in the evening.
The special at the nearby diner, the one I had never tried, was meatloaf. I have no idea what kind of meat was in their meat loaf but I was sure he had been ridden in the month before. Okay that was a joke but I’m sure that it wasn’t ground beef as I had become accustomed to having. I had the mystery meat at two different restaurants so I was convinced it was to be the new normal. I found it sad that another of my childhood memories was being replaced with something so bland.
I went home to find an Email from the Controller’s Geek. In effect he asked if I was crazy there was no record of a Reggie Brown ever having lived or gone to school in Capitol City. There was no record of him anywhere.
There was a message for me to get close to Louise and find out about Reggie. Easier said than done, I thought. Louise Brown seemed to have a chip on her shoulder whenever she got around me or any other white person. Hell she could be like that around people in general, I suppose.
My new theory was that she had the child and gave him the father’s name. The kid was doing time and she was roped in to providing ‘get out of jail free cards’ in exchange for him living to walk out one day. It sounded like a possible scenario to me. My problem wasn’t proving a theory. My problem was getting close enough to Louise to steal her personal information. It would be so much easier if we could tap into the NSA files.
It seemed that halfway through our midnight tour, Louise started her swing shift tour. Which meant we relieved her. It was an excuse for me to talk to her. I stopped by for a steak and cheese sandwich on the way in to work. When I walked into the lab I found her in her wind down mood. Everyone tried to spend at least twenty minutes doing nothing at the end of each shift. According to Stonebridge it prepared us to deal with real people again. Since I hadn’t dealt with any monsters yet, I didn’t feel the need for it.
Louise however must have because she sat at her desk hardly moving at all. “Hi,” I said walking past her. I sat the sub on the desk while I went to the rear to hang up my horse blanket parka.
“Hello,” Louise said blowing me off.
“When I returned I asked, “You want half this sandwich it’s more than I can eat and way more than I should eat.”
“No thanks,” she said in a voice that told me I was interrupting her while she did nothing.
“I thought only the people with pricks acted like dicks. It’s only a sandwich. I’m not going to ask for your first born in return for half,” I said it with a smile.
“You are just so white bread cutesy,” she said looking disgusted.
“Sorry, this hair and these boobs cost me a bunch so I’m not going to apologize for them,” I said with a laugh. “Four fucking years of my life to be exact.”
“I don’t get it,” she said.
“I was married to a guy who wanted a barbie doll. I was dumb enough to go along,” I said.
“So all was not bliss in the world of Ken and Barbie?” she asked.
“Eat the other half of this sandwich so I won’t and I’ll tell you all about Ken the prick,” I promised.
“Long as you don’t tell me about Ken’s prick,” she said.
“You sure you don’t want to know what a white bread prick is like?” I asked turning the tables on her.
“Trust me Barbie, I know what a white prick is like,” she said with a depressed look.
“Now lady you have to smile when you say shit like that, or people will think you are a racist,” I said.
“Okay we can’t eat in the lab so let’s go to the break room. You can tell me all about life in the burbs over an Italian Sub,” she said.
“Steak and cheese, it’s a Philly steak and cheese,” I corrected her.
“Whatever,” she said with a smile. “Was that better?”
“It was indeed,” I said.
It really wasn’t much of a bonding moment but it was a start. “So Barbie, tell me what it’s like living in a place where you don’t hear sirens every night,” she demanded.
“You hear different noises for sure in the burbs but you still hear them. Stuff like lawn sprinklers, car alarms beeping when Susie homemaker get out of the car. I had my own business. I was a rising star in the local wedding community till the Jeff aka ‘The Prick’ started calling all my brides and offering them a refund. He explained to each and everyone that I was a drunk, and since he wouldn’t be there to back me up, he couldn’t guarantee the job would be done at all.
That’s all it took and I was out of business. Whether they believed him or not no one wanted to take the chance. I took the kids to my mom where I knew they would be taken care of then I went looking for any kind of work to get a new start. I found this grant gig after I did fill in for a photographer in the mountains. I should have killed that prick and stayed where I was. Hell he even had life insurance, I said with a smile.
“Yeah men can be real shits,” Louise agreed. My baby’s daddy went to look for work one day before he was born and still couldn’t find a job I guess, cause he ain’t come back yet. I been working here since a police friend of mine got me the job eight years ago. It beats the hell out of working in a dry cleaners,” she said.
“Funny you don’t look Vietnamese,” I said with a laugh.
“Yeah it’s kind of gone that way,” she said.
“So how old is your son,” I asked.
“He is nineteen years old now,” she said.
“Oh hell he is grown. You got a picture maybe I can date him,” I replied.
“Yeah grown and no you can’t date him you cracker bitch,” she said but she was smiling.
“Okay you racist pig,” I said also grinning like a fool.
She suddenly got serious and kind of sad looking. “He is doing time. While I was working, he was fucking with a gang. Now he is doing a dime in the state’s maximum security prison just down the road about five miles from here.”
I felt really bad because I felt like I had won. I knew her son was inside. I knew how bad prison could be, and I knew I might be giving information to put her inside, but I still felt good because I had won. It would also keep me on the outside for a while at least.
I arranged a meeting with the Controller. At that meeting I rolled over on Louise. I had Louise’s son’s name. Reggie Roman was the name he was incarcerated under. The Controller wasn’t impressed, but she agreed to check it out.
She ordered me to do a straight up burglary while the property clerk was at lunch. I was supposed to break in, copy any computers I found and leave without leaving any evidence that I was ever there.
“Okay, you stay and finish your grant out then, we will begin making the arrests in a couple of weeks. It was Louise. The reason we couldn’t find a connection is there was none. The prison gang beat the shit out of Reggie a couple of times and told mom the only way to stop it was to do what they said. So Louise befriended the property clerk and she covered for him to go to long lunches or other shit like that. Usually a couple of times a week.
The reason there was no money trail, was that there was no money involved. It was a straight tit for no tat,” the Controller said.
“Well some good news anyway. Martin is clean,” I said it knowing the Controller had more.
“Well he isn’t guilty of that but he is guilty of switching drugs for dry milk. His wife knows a dealer who takes the small quantity off their hands. Mr. and Mrs. Martin are in for a surprise when we audit the evidence,” she added.
“Well at least it is nice of you to wait till I leave to bust them,” I said.
“Well we aren’t using you as a CI and we don’t want to lose you so it’s what we will be doing. Here take this,” she said handing me a list of addresses.
“What’s this,” I asked.
“You need someplace we can find you between jobs so pick one. We are going to buy it for you,” she said.
After the Controller left Liam said, “I never did like that witch. She’s got kind of a questionable relationship with the boss.”
“Who Andrew?” I asked.
“I have already said too much,” he said and vanished.