The Color of Greed (Raja Williams 1)

BOOK: The Color of Greed (Raja Williams 1)
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The
Color of Greed

Jack
Thompson

Copyright
©
2012 by Jack Thompson

Published by
Crackerjack Publishing

Cover art: ©
Eti Swinford | Dreamstime.com

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
places and incidents are either products of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously.

A list of other titles by Jack Thompson is included
at the end of this book. For more information visit
JackWrites.com
.

Contents

Prologue

Chapter
One: Seagulls

Chapter
Two: The Widow

Chapter
Three: The Party

Chapter
Four: Leonardo

Chapter
Five: Vinny

Chapter
Six: The Girlfriend

Chapter
Seven: The Case

Chapter
Eight: Loose Ends

Chapter
Nine: Loose Lips

Chapter
Ten: The Ranch

Chapter
Eleven: The Club

Chapter
Twelve: Road Trip to Hell

Chapter
Thirteen: Doin’ the Triad Two-step

Chapter
Fourteen: Judgment Day

Chapter
Fifteen: See No Evil

Chapter
Sixteen: Back to La-La Land

Chapter
Seventeen: Bloodhounds

Chapter
Eighteen: Tinseltown

Chapter
Nineteen: Love Bites

Chapter
Twenty: Operation All In

Chapter
Twenty-one: Red Riding Hood

Chapter
Twenty-two: Underdog

Chapter
Twenty-three: Meet the Press

Chapter
Twenty-four: Invisible

Chapter
Twenty-five: Linchpin

Chapter
Twenty-six: Pay It Forward

Chapter
Twenty-seven: The Policeman Only Rings Once

Chapter
Twenty-eight: Dueling Hard Drives

Chapter
Twenty-nine: Cop Killer

Chapter
Thirty: The Invisible Woman Returns

Chapter
Thirty-one: Claus

Chapter
Thirty-two: Fool’s Gold

Chapter
Thirty-three: Squeeze Play

Chapter
Thirty-four: Special Delivery

Chapter
Thirty-five: All Points Bulletin

Chapter
Thirty-six: Mad As Hell

Chapter
Thirty-seven: Slim Is Better Than None

Chapter
Thirty-eight: Back Door Man

Chapter
Thirty-nine: Gangrene

Chapter
Forty: Love Stinks

Chapter
Forty-one: All Roads Lead To Rome

Chapter
Forty-two: Top of the World

Chapter
Forty-three: Cut and Print It

Chapter
Forty-four: The Fat Lady Sings

Chapter
Forty-five: Montezuma’s Revenge

Epilogue

Preview
Book 2

About
the Author

Other
Titles from Jack Thompson

Contact
Jack

Prologue

A twenty-five foot cruiser floated idly next to the
dock at the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club, just north of Seal Beach on the
Southern California coast. A recent storm in the Pacific had churned
up enough sea to send choppy waves now and again into the bay. As the
boat rocked up on a wave, the name
Maid Marion
flashed
momentarily into view in the moonlight. The sound of two voices
interspersed with giggles echoed from below deck.

A tan young man and a cute girl in shorts and a
halter top were making out on the curved bed in the boat’s
lower cabin. As he heated up, the young man made his move to climb on
top of the girl. Realizing where things were headed, the girl
straightened her arms between them and managed to break his grip
momentarily.

“Darryl, are you sure no one will see us out
here? What if someone comes along? I don’t feel safe on this
boat.”

“Are you kidding? It’s just like a house
on the water. We are completely alone, Sandy. Trust me.” Those
two words were uttered countless times by a boy to a girl to invoke
favor from the gods of love. Darryl’s hopes that they would
work yet again soared when Sandy smiled, untied her top and dropped
it onto the floor. The two resumed their fevered grappling until a
loud thud echoed in the cabin followed by an unpleasant scraping
sound. Darryl ignored the interruption twice and pressed on, but when
it happened a third time, Sandy’s eyes bugged wide and her body
stiffened.

Darryl knew then he would have to deal with whatever
was making the horrible sound.

“What was that?” said Sandy, right on
cue, reaching for her top.

“Wait here,” ordered Darryl,
impatiently. He was halfway to the stairs. “I’ll be right
back.” He thought it was probably a tourist who hadn’t
secured his boat well enough. A couple of quick knots and he’d
be back for business. Darryl climbed up to the deck and peered
around. The thump repeated behind him. He turned and saw a forty-foot
sports yacht scraping against the seaward side of the dock. It was an
Azimut 40, high-end luxury and nicer than most, and there didn’t
appear to be anyone on board. The edge of the hull screeched loudly
as the boat pushed itself outward. Darryl hopped onto the dock and
ran toward the boat that now drifted ten feet away.

“Hello? Anyone on board?” he shouted,
listening in between for any sign of life. Nothing. When the boat
drifted back toward the dock again, he leaped onto the rear deck.
“Hello,” he said, once more. There was no sign of anyone.
As he searched in the pale moonlight for a line to tie the boat,
something bumped into the back of his ankle. He jumped and let out a
girlish yelp. It was only an orange mooring buoy that had rolled
across the deck. Darryl laughed at himself, shook his head and
continued searching until he found the dock line. He tied the back
end of the boat to a cleat on the dock, and then went below to look
around.

Meanwhile Sandy managed to get her top back on and
came up on deck just in time to see Darryl ducking into the interior
of the derelict yacht. She pulled on her sneakers and hopped onto the
dock and from there to the rear deck of the other boat. She noticed
the yacht’s name
Clarice
painted in cursive on the back
panel. Several gruesome scenes from the movie
The Silence of the
Lambs
flashed into her head. Sandy shivered involuntarily and
decided not to follow Darryl below deck. Feeling safer in the open
air, she climbed up to the overhead flybridge. There was a sundeck
behind a control panel full of dials. She noticed a rumpled piece of
canvas along the railing. When she pulled one edge to move it out of
her way, the canvas shifted and a man’s body rolled out and
flopped on its back in the center of the deck. The face was bloody
and had no eyes. Sandy screamed.

Chapter One: Seagulls

The police showed up within minutes, despite the
late hour. Even a call from a small yacht club like the Alamitos got
fast service. Yachts meant wealth, and wealth meant there were bound
to be important people demanding action through their most
influential connections. By default the case fell to
robbery-homicide. Hearing the location, Detective Rafferty knew
better than to bitch. Cases involving the wealthy rolled
downhill—fast. He raced to the scene, hoping to get out in
front of the media noise. Most of these calls were not crimes, and if
they were, the parties involved usually wanted them swept under the
rug as quickly and quietly as possible. Rafferty arrived at the
Alamitos Bay Yacht Club at three thirty, wishing he had stopped for
coffee. He hated cases like this. They reminded him how long he had
until retirement, and how unlikely it was he would ever save enough
to buy even the cheapest of the boats he saw docked there.

Detective Rafferty stopped and took in the whole
scene. The local uniforms had detained the young couple who had found
the body, and were getting their statements. The coroner’s
office had sent Dr. Sharon Becker, their top pathologist, who was
already examining the body. Rafferty liked her. She knew her business
and didn’t try to get into his. One of the uniforms approached
him.

“What are we looking at?” asked the
detective.

“White male, thirty-two. ID we found says the
vic’s name is Randall Hope. The boat is not registered at the
local yacht club.”

“How did it get here?” demanded
Rafferty.

“Working on it,” said another detective
who had arrived at the scene.

“Those two found his body on his boat.”
The officer pointed to the scared young couple sitting on the back of
an emergency vehicle. The girl looked to be in shock.

Rafferty walked over to the kids who had found the
body. “You two all right?” he asked, almost sounding like
he really cared.

“I am,” said the boy. “Sandy is
pretty shaken.”

The girl was in that state of shock where she looked
like she was going to cry, but she couldn’t. She wouldn’t
be much help.

Rafferty talked to the boy. “So you’re
Darryl Harmon?”

“Yep.”

“And this boat?”

“It’s my dad’s. He lets me use it
sometimes.”

“I’m sure he does. You found the other
boat drifting?”

“Yeah. It rammed the dock a few times. I went
on board to tie it up. That’s when we found the body.”

“See anyone else?”

“No, sir. Just the dead guy.”

“And you don’t know him?”

“Never seen him or his boat. It’s a nice
one, though.”

“I’m not so sure he would agree. Okay.
Make sure we have your phone number and such. You can go. I’m
done with these two,” he said to one of the uniforms standing
by.

The other detective returned. “The boat—is
it a boat or a ship? I can never remember.”

“Go on, go on,” urged Rafferty.

“Oh yeah. It’s registered to a Clarice
Smith Hope—she is the vic’s wife. It’s registered
at the Catalina Island Yacht Club. Very exclusive. He must have been
out somewhere near the island, and then the Catalina Eddy must have
pushed the yacht into the mainland.”

“Catalina Eddy? Sounds like a pirate name.”

“It’s a weather phenomena that swirls
around the Catalina Island area. Currents and wind can move a boat
around.”

Rafferty turned to the uniformed policeman. “You
get anything else?”

The uniform looked at his notes. “No sign of a
struggle. The witnesses claim not to know him. And—”

“Yes?” said Rafferty, impatiently.

“His eyes.”

“What about them?”

“He doesn’t have any.”

Rafferty got interested for the first time. “Show
me.”

The officer led him to the yacht that was now
secured properly to the dock. Spotlights had been rigged up and
Rafferty could see Dr. Becker working up on the flybridge.

“Hey, Doc. Hell of a night to be working.
Anything interesting?”

“Always. Come on up, Tommy.” Rafferty
loved when the doc called him Tommy. It had a ring of familiarity he
longed for. One of these days he would return the gesture. Rafferty
stepped carefully onto the yacht’s rear deck and climbed the
stairs to the flybridge. Lying face up on the sundeck was a man with
empty sockets for eyes.

“He wasn’t kidding,” said
Rafferty, in the detached manner you might expect from a veteran
homicide detective in LA. He had seen much worse.

“Who wasn’t kidding?”

“The kid downstairs. No eyes. What do we got?
Some freaky ritual murder?”

“Not unless you want to start arresting the
seagulls.”

“You’re telling me seagulls did that?”

“Here’s a gull feather and those are
bird droppings,” she said holding up a white and grey feather
and pointing to several splotches on the deck. “Gulls eat
shellfish

clams and
oysters

and scavenge.
Probably took his eyes for a couple of oysters on the half shell.”

“Thanks a lot, Doc. I won’t eat oysters
any time soon.”

“The point is, no ritual murder. No sign of
murder at all. Of course, we’ll need a tox screen and full exam
to be sure. But with the hemorrhage in his cheeks, if I had to guess
I’d say heat stroke or heart attack.”

“You’re no fun today, Doc.”

“Got to call ’em like I see ’em.”

“Okay. Let me see if I understand this
correctly. We have a stupid rich guy who stayed out in the sun too
long, had a stroke and got blown over here by a wind called Eddy.
That sounds like a wrap to me. Doc, let me know if anything turns up
on the autopsy. Otherwise, I’m closing the book on this one.”

“Will do, Tommy,” said Dr. Becker.
Rafferty liked the sound of that.

Chapter Two: The Widow

The phone ringing next to the bed had not woken
Raja. He kept the volume down to a barely perceptible level. Nor had
the woman’s distraught voice on his computer messaging system
pulled him from sleep. Although the early sun was just peaking over
the treeline and into the bedroom of his three-story home on the
northern tip of Clearwater Beach, Raja Williams had been awake for
almost an hour. He had an uncanny sense of trouble when it was
coming. Much like the internal clock that tells nocturnal beasts to
head for the safety of their homes long before daybreak, or an
animal’s recognition that a storm is coming before there is any
change in the weather, Raja had a sixth sense about trouble. He
thought of it as his own internal version of stormwatch. However, in
Raja’s case, he always headed right toward the storm. Although
someone might say that made him dumber than the animals, Raja saw it
as a point of responsibility. If he knew about something, he should
do something about it.

BOOK: The Color of Greed (Raja Williams 1)
13.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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