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Authors: Keith M Donaldson

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He preceded us into the house and inspected the first floor. His driver had gotten out of the patrol car, but stayed at the front door.

“The bedrooms are probably the only place there would be anything they might have been interested in,” I offered.

“What's downstairs?”

“Rec room, bath, laundry, and storage.”

He headed for the stairs. “I better take a look.” He went down.

I could hear him talking into his radio. After a minute, he returned.

“Nothing there, let's take a look upstairs.”

We followed him up. I went into Janet's room. Marsha went with him to her room, and then they came into Janet's room.

“This room's been messed with,” I said. “Could they have taken…?”

“Francona patted them down, with Pruitt covering. He didn't find anything on them that wasn't theirs. If they had something, it had to be small and, if you'll excuse me, been in their underwear.”

We smiled. I had heard worse.

“If there's nothing else,” the sergeant said, “I'll be on my way. If you want to remove anything, do it quickly. They may be back.”

“Thank you again, Sergeant Shansky. I now know who to call if and when I need the Arlington Police,” I said, smiling.

“What is it you do that makes you a good friend of Max Walsh's?”

“I'm a metro reporter for the
Washington Daily Star
.”

Shansky almost choked. “Max knows that?”

“He does. We are good friends. Ask him about it.”

“I will. I will,” he said, shaking his head as he went down the stairs.

Marsha had a funny expression on her face when I turned to her. “What?”

“Nothing, just, I was amazed at how you handled all of that.”

“The only thing I did was call Max.”

“Maybe so, but you appeared comfortable with everything that happened, like you knew what was going on.”

“I've covered a lot of crime scenes and observed police operations. It just sinks in, becomes second nature. Okay. As the man said, we had better get at it. You start with your things. I'll gather up Janet's stuff.”

“Yeah…better you do Jan's room without me. I guess one day we'll have to send all this to her folks.”

Marsha walked to her room.

In ten minutes, we both had what we wanted and were out the door. I saw an Arlington PD squad car parked across the lot facing us.

It had taken us three trips. I put the top up and we got everything in. I pulled out and the squad car followed us. My guess was it was Shansky. At Glebe Road, I hung a right and headed for the ramp to I-395 north.

I smiled. A friend of Max's was a friend of Shansky's.

T
he rousting of fellow agents by two county cops and their sergeant had Talbot furious and embarrassed. She imagined Frankie Grayson would be manic, even if Arlington PD didn't report it. A courtesy she had been told. The police had been nothing but polite.

Grayson was paranoid about no leaks, similar to the Nixon White House. Oh well, they had things to talk about and it was getting late. She knocked on Grayson's door. “I have the telephone records from yesterday and today. There was one to Wolfe from Morgan at 1:37 today, and one earlier from him to Fields' law office.”

“I'd asked Ralph to call Fields. What about the girls?”

“Nothing.”

“Check Morgan's appointment calendar. No, let's do that now.”

They moved quickly to the lawyer's office. Grayson checked his desk calendar. He was scheduled out Wednesday from 11:00 to 1:00 for lunch, no name. He had an in-office appointment beginning at one.

“He's full up the rest of the week. Wednesday's got to be it.”

“I don't think we want to tail Morgan. What would be the reason? He's well thought of, close to all of you. We have to keep records of things like that.”

“Yeah, you're right.” But her tone didn't sound convincing.

Talbot left the Vice President's sister, deciding to hold off telling her what happened earlier in Virginia. Laura Wolfe was beginning to piss Talbot off.

J
erry's blood pressure was steaming over Ralph being “…dragged in. It's his career. He's there at the pleasure of the Vice President. One word from his sister and he could be history.”

“But Grayson opened that door when she asked Ralph to call you.”

I wished he would stop pacing.

“You only suspect she did.”

“Look, I'm not in a courtroom,” I shot back, my adrenaline pumping.

He eased up. “Please promise me that tomorrow will be the grand finale to this melodrama. Get Ralph off the hook,” he appealed. “Let him tell Grayson he spoke with you and they should chalk you up to a little overzealousness.”

“I don't want to tell him that,” I retorted.

The expression on Jerry's face said I should reconsider.

Damn! I didn't want him angry at me. “Fine,” I said with a heavy exhale. “But I'm not the reason we are meeting. I mean, it's for Max. He wants to know about an Atlanta guy, George Manchester, and what his involvement is with both Graysons. Ralph knows the Vice President well. They go back to when Grayson was a senator.”

Jerry was still pissed. “Yeah well, Ralph and I go back to law school.”

I went to him and gave him a hug that he returned, but not strongly.

I could feel his heart beating. He was really worked up. “I worry about you,” he said softly, belying the intensity I felt from him.

“Sometimes you get a little too headstrong for your own good, go it alone too much. Have you told Lassiter or Max you're pregnant?”

I shook my head, still lying against his shoulder. “Things have been too hectic.”

“So I've got more reasons to worry while I'm in San Francisco. I wish you'd realize you're no longer a young, idealistic girl from a small town trying to conquer the world. You've earned some stripes and you have new responsibilities.”

I eased out from our hug and gave him a light kiss. “You have nothing to worry about. I shall heed your advice.”

“I can understand your zealousness,” he said, his mind still roiled. “I had similar feelings when I was a defense attorney. The adrenaline pumps and you're not even aware of it. I'm not saying don't throw yourself into what you're doing, just do it with care.”

“Sweetheart, I want this baby more than I can tell you.”

“As much as a Pulitzer?” he asked, easing me back to look into my eyes.

I felt a spike of adrenaline. “I'm not chasing a Pulitzer. Besides, didn't you say they don't give them for the reporting? Honestly, yes, I'd love one someday. It's probably the only way to show my father—”

“Stop that,” he said sharply, and reflexively pushed me out to arms length, but his hands didn't dig into my shoulders. “You do not live to please him. You do this for you, not for him. You are an intuitive, inventive reporter. I'm just asking for some precautions. You're dealing with some powerful people.”

“I promise to think before I leap.”

He grinned. “Right. My greatest wish is that you will.”

He knew me too well. We kissed again. This time his hug was firmer. I went to the sofa and my papers. Jerry sat in the easy chair with a book.

I was looking at the picture of Janet and the Vice President. “Do you think Janet could have been involved in intelligence work? Her work title is vague. She worked with the Vice President.”

“How much intelligence work does the Vice President get involved in that doesn't come from NSC, CIA, NSA, or the President?”

“Good point. I have these photos from Janet's apartment.”

I spread the pictures out on the coffee table. “Take a look.”

He sat beside me. “Who knows you have these?”

“Max and Marsha. Three are of the Vice President, one each with Janet, Sarah, and an unidentified woman. There are group shots of the interns with Grayson and her brother, along with softball team pictures and general groupings of smiling faces. Nothing out of the ordinary.”

“They seem trophyesque to me.”

“Nothing gives me a clue of what the Secret Service wanted at Janet's.”

“Maybe she did some work at home. Did she have a computer?”

“A laptop. If stuff in it was classified, she was breaking the law.”

M
ax had a special appointment, and this one would be a first in the seven-plus years he had been Captain of Homicide. A special visitor had made a personal request to see only him, and undercover. Yes, it was definitely a first. His guest was coming in as a private citizen under an alias.

He planned for Delia to escort Mr. Robert Brown directly to his office. She had flashed him a
what are you up to now
look when he explained the circumstances. He knew she didn't like spy stuff unless she was on the spying side.

Delia knew Max well, having worked for him over five years. She was efficient, ethical, and adroit, one of so many African-American single moms trying to bring up a family. She lived in Northwest and only worked at headquarters on Indiana Avenue NW. She was an office unto herself. She had no responsibilities to the Cold Case Division.

Delia knocked on his door. “Sir, Mr. Brown.”

Brown was white, fortyish, conservatively dressed with an air of quiet authority. A little over six feet, his shoulders and upper body gave the appearance of a man who worked out—a lot. Delia ushered him in and closed the door.

“Please, we'll sit over here.” Max indicated two well-worn, comfortable-looking chairs. He didn't want a desk between them. Authority was not the issue here. This was, as best he could tell, a cordial visit between equals.

“Thank you, Captain.”

“Max, please.”

“Max.” Mr. Brown took out some ID and presented it to him. It read Special Agent Reed Davis, FBI. “Thank you, Agent Davis, eh, Mr. Brown.” He returned the ID. “That didn't set off the security scanner?”

“No, they make them out of plastic these days.”

This was feeling-out time. “Would you like some coffee?”

“No thanks, Captain, eh, Max. The serial killings, the two women, there's a part of that we would like to unofficially tap into.”

“Unofficially?”

“Quantico's already watching it. Nevertheless, we have a situation that also happens to involve the Vice President's office. Nobody except my boss and the director knows about this. We may need access to certain findings in your investigation.”

“Oh?”

“Two things have gotten our attention: the insertion of the Secret Service on the second murder, albeit passive, and the special interest the
Washington Daily Star
reporter, Laura Wolfe, has been giving to the Vice President's office. We understand you and she are friends?”

That startled Max, but his training kept him from showing it. “Yes. A very good, professional relationship.”

“Oh, I was not alluding to anything personal.”

“We are social. I introduced her to another friend of mine a few years back. They are now husband and wife.”

Davis smiled. “The attorney, Jerry Fields, yes. I mean, yes, we knew they were married, but no, we didn't know you…eh…facilitated it.”

“I have the utmost respect and fondness for both. I stood up for them when they married.” He would never have said that, but Davis named Laura as an interest. In his experience with off-the-cuff, unofficial liaisons, it was best for the air to be very clear.

Davis showed surprise. “Thank you. You are perceptive. There were concerns.”

A hurdle had been overcome. Now he wanted to hear the reasons the FBI was interested in Laura. “Tell me your interest in Ms. Wolfe.”

“The contrasts in her articles with other news reports. It appears she has different information than her colleagues. She appears to have a strong interest in Janet Rausch and the Vice President.”

Max proceeded to fill Davis, Mr. Brown, in on Marsha Hines and Tishana Rice. Careful to tell the special agent both were uncovered by Laura.

“No one else besides you and Ms. Wolfe has talked with Ms. Hines?”

“As far as I know.” Max shifted in his chair.

“And Ms. Wolfe has told you all she uncovered?” the FBI man asked directly.

“She is a superb investigator. Highly ethical. She has shared everything with me. She probes, often getting things other reporters don't. She looks at one-hundred percent of the iceberg.”

“She wants the father of Rausch's child, even though it has nothing to do with the woman's killing?” the dapper agent asked.

“Don't say that to her. We know the paternity with Ms. Williams. We don't with Ms. Rausch. Ms. Wolfe got stonewalled by Frances Grayson, the Vice President's sister and his administrative manager. Not answering a Laura Wolfe question is tantamount to issuing a challenge. That's when her shovel comes out.”

“It's clear to you that the killings were done by the same person, right?”

“Absolutely.” He explained a calling card of the killer's, which was not public.

“Ms. Wolfe knows this secret?”

“No. She only knows what we have made public. Have you done your homework on her?”

Davis showed surprise. Max fixed the younger man with his eyes.

“Yes,” Brown said tentatively, “we know about the murdered wife case down south.”

“She gets something in her craw, she doesn't let go. Plus she genuinely wants to give closure to Rausch's baby. In addition, she's pissed because nobody in the Vice President's office is forthcoming about it.

“She knows from Marsha Hines that Rausch didn't date. Her entire social life was wrapped up in her job. There were nights Rausch didn't come home. She became pregnant and was told to get rid of the baby. Ms. Wolfe wants to know who was applying the pressure on Rausch. She strongly feels that
that somebody
may be involved in why the young woman was killed.”

“I see your point about the iceberg.”

Max went on to tell his guest about a possible drug connection and of Laura's pending lunch meeting with Ralph Morgan at the Potowmack Landing Restaurant today.

Davis checked his watch and stood up.

“Thank you, Cap…Max. We'll sniff around the Executive Offices and see what we can find out. Of course, the Bureau's involvement is between us.”

“Certainly, Mr. Brown. That works both ways. We look forward to our collaboration. We'll get the autopsy reports over to you this afternoon. Anything else, just call. Delia can be trusted with anything. Telling her is like telling me. It goes nowhere else. But she'll only know you as Mr. Brown.”

“Good. We'll stay in touch.”

“Yes, we will.”

BOOK: Death of an Intern
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