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Authors: Edwin Attella

Tags: #crime, #guns, #drugs, #violence, #police, #corruption, #prostitution, #attorney, #fight, #courtroom, #illegal

THE FOURTH WATCH (10 page)

BOOK: THE FOURTH WATCH
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"Then Alex gave me a bunch of double talk, the
gist of which was that he wouldn't be surprised if I turned
something up."

"How do you mean?"

"Well, you know what Alex is like, but I got
the feeling that he was saying that it wouldn't surprise him if
someone took the old man out."

Jack kept nodding and kept eating. "What do
you know about this guys business?"

"Nothing, yet?"

"All that junk he sells. Must buy it all
overseas. That could be something. You might have a little
international intrigue on your hands."

I thought about that. ''I could live without
the excitement."

''Not me."

We finished our lunch in a comfortable
silence, except for the sounds of our silverware working like picks
and shovels.

When we were done Jack said, "Listen Kato, you
don't know, there might be something there. She has more money then
she knows what to do with, so it’s not like you'd be breaking the
bank. If you don't take the job, someone else will, and they won't
have any qualms about taking her money. They might just burn it up
and tell her to forget about it, that there's nothing there, and
she'll maybe go away satisfied and then if there is something
there, justice won't get done, see what I mean? At least with you,
she gets her money's worth. You at least will follow the thing
where it goes, give her an honest days work for an honest days
wage, and in the end, if nothing turns up, then at least she won't
have false closure."

I thought about that for a while, nodding,
then I said: "1 could have figured that out all by myself, Jack,
forget what I said about buying lunch."

"Ah," he said, "but you were buying me lunch
in hopes that it might be a cheap

ticket to heaven, not because of any wisdom I
might impart."

"Oh yeah," I said.

5

It always starts with the sound of
music.
The voice of violins caressed
softly, high on fretless necks. Then I think, no ... voices… quiet
voices, soft on the tongues of children in choir. But then, no, no
... whoshing and whispering ... shushing really, like .. .like
...

And then I am a point of light, no
more than a singular match stroked against the darkness of the
universe. I am turning there, warm and tumbling, bobbing, floating.
But, wait! I'm not the light, I'm hurtling toward it - or it toward
me, in the long narrow tunnels of my vision. It is as if I am
standing back from two windows on either side of a room and looking
out of them, but I can bring them together into a singular vision
... looking telescopically through ...

I hear the rhythmic tumbling of
a...dryer? ... thuderdum ... thuderdum ... thuderdum...not a dryer
though, what? And then I know, It is a heart, beating somewhere in
the fathoms of darkness above me. I am rolling with its cadence in
a warm and fluid bliss.

Now, in a microsecond, I realize
that it's all of that, and none of it. The singing of tires on wet
pavement, and the whisper of water sluicing through treads. The
singular spot of light hurtling toward me, splitting in two...and
coming for me ... hunting me now!

Annie Knight is humming softly to
the baby, the small baby floating warmly in her womb. It is the
fifteenth day of twelfth month, and its cold, but not really cold
enough to snow, but close. Just close enough for a cold rain ...
just close enough that the road could…

Christmas is in the sound of
Annie's soft purring. Christmas songs, rendered almost in silence
and without words, heard only by her and I ... intended for only
her and I. In the gathering, roaring, whooshing torrents, the rain
from the tires thundering against the aluminum skin of the car, I
am warm in my rolling sea. As I look through her eyes at the lights
growing brighter on the black carpet ahead, I am suddenly aware
that I am not me, but he ... her baby ... our baby ... and just
then I know ... as I see the tanker truck turning sideways on the
road ahead, sliding sideways without traction and jackknifing into
a V-shape before flipping and rolling ... that I am powerless
against their fate. I can see Annie's knuckles go white on the
wheel, and her mouth makes an 0, and I can see her foot stomping on
the brakes, and the car sliding toward the tumbling tanker that
suddenly bursts into a massive fireball and roars toward us…them…
and then we are engulfed in the scorching light! Annie screams and
...

*****

I SAT BOLT UPRIGHT
in bed, bathed in sweat, the echo of my own
scream reverberating throughout the empty house, my heart racing in
my chest, my lungs gasping for breath. I sat there in the dark,
waiting for it all to go. I cried softly, my eyes stinging, the
center of me aching. After a while I got up and pulled on a pair of
shorts and went down stairs. It was 2:45 AM. I got a can of beer
out of the refrigerator and took it out onto the deck and sat in
one of the lawn chairs that I used for deck furniture. A soft
breeze off the lake cooled my sweat-slick skin.

The lake always has a different sound in the
early hours of morning. It is owned and operated by the bugs and
nocturnal creatures, by the crickets and foraging coons rustling in
the underbrush. The sound of the water lapping at the pilings
around the docks and the wind whispering with a silky voice in the
tree branches has a volume that is never heard in the day. It can
be peaceful or unsettling.

The sky was choked with stars, and a
three-quarter moon rode high among them. I drank beer and watched
and listened. I remembered the night Annie died. Unbidden it came
to me in quick glimpses. Me dozed off on the bed when a urgent
knocking on the door brought me around, the TV playing in the
background as I stumbled down the stairs not awake enough yet to
worry. Pulling open the door and staring dumbfounded at Alex, and
Jack with his collar on, and a cop in uniform. I think I asked what
the hell time it was - or something as meaningless, and then the
wrongness of it all reached me through the fog in my head and a
sick feeling washed through me and my skin began to crawl and I
whispered "Annie."

Then Jack had me in his arms and he was saying
that there was a terrible accident, and something about a truck. I
was looking over his shoulder at Alex standing there with a look of
such profound sorrow on his face that I knew and my knees buckled
and he zoomed out of focus as I passed out. Later in the night-
when I awoke, Jack was sitting in a chair next to the bed, his
reading glasses down on the tip of his nose, his Bible opened in
his lap, and then he told me it all. I became physically ill and
vomited into the toilet until my stomach was raw and
empty.

The days that followed remain a blur. I don't
even really know how they happened except to say that Alex took
care of everything material and Jack, everything Spiritual. I
remember the wake, the endless river of people flowing by the
closed box where Annie lay. The open earthen mouth of the grave,
and Annie's parents standing at the edge of it, her mother small
and frail, her eyes red, her small hands holding a singular yellow
rose as Jack's voice softly prayed in farewell. The elegant catered
affair at our home after the funeral, the house full of people
speaking in hushed tones, Jack always at my side talking to me,
promising me that all was well with Annie, and our baby, in a far
better place. And then the empty house, when it was finally over,
and the desperate, endless loneliness that I feel still.

6

MY EYES CREAKED OPEN AT
DAWN.
I was still sitting in my chair on
the deck. At some point, during my wee hour communion with nature,
I had dozed off, and when the morning sun brought me around, my
eyes were glued shut, I had the stale taste of old beer in my mouth
and my body ached from crouching in the sling-back chair. I went in
and fixed the coffee, and while it brewed I took a shower, shaved
and dressed. I went out front to the driveway and fished around
under the Jeep until I found the newspaper. I sat at the kitchen
table and ate a bowl of cereal, drinking coffee and reading the
paper until 8:30. Then I put the dishes in the sink, turned off the
coffee, brushed my teeth and headed off to Police Headquarters
downtown.

They were expecting me at the front desk and
waved me through. I took the elevator up to the fourth floor. Carl
Wallings greeted me when I got to the Chiefs suite, and sent me
down the hall to Matte's office. I was still a little punchy from
my night on the deck, but the coffee and shower had
helped.

Matte Genetassio didn't look too happy to see
me. It is not hard to tell when Matte is not happy. He stands about
6'5" and has to weigh over 300lbs. There was a time when none of it
was fat. When he frowns, his whole body seems to scowl. He still
had most of what was once a mop of tight, blond curls on his head.
The blond was going gray and he had picked up a few extra chins
over the years. He was leaning back in the chair behind his desk.
His teeth were clamped down on a large black cigar, and there was
smoke curling up in front of his face. His office was a poorly
arranged collection of cardboard boxes, plastic chairs with chrome
legs, stacks of file folders and photographs on the walls, mostly
of him with politicians or other police officers. Nicotine yellowed
windows looked out onto the parking lot. When I knocked on the open
door, he put down the paper he had been reading and folded his
giant hands over his belly. He squinted at me through the cigar
smoke and grunted, I think in disgust, as he pushed himself up out
of his chair. He took the cigar out of his mouth and examined the
end of it. Then he spit some tobacco litter onto the floor, and
without a word headed out the door, motioning me to follow by
pointing the wet end of the cigar at the hallway.

We went down a short corridor and turned into
a small conference room. The only reason I knew that it was a
conference room was because it said "Conference Room" on the door.
Matte gestured that I should precede him. In fact he never actually
came into the room. He stood leaning on the door jam, his hand
resting on the doorknob, his huge body filling the door-frame. On
the table was a medium thick, legal sized manila folder and a
cardboard Dunkin' Donuts coffee cup with a plastic lid on
it.

"What, no donut?" I said.

He looked at me with hooded eyes.
“One day I will remind you that it was
you
that brought extortion into our
relationship," he promised. Without another word he pulled the door
closed and left me with the file. If I were a cynical man I’d have
read a threat into that remark.

I pulled a chair up to the table and centered
the file in front of me. I pried the lid off of the coffee and
resettled the container on a paper napkin. I opened the file and
did a quick inventory of what was in it. There were two envelopes
full of photos (autopsy and scene, I guessed), four police reports,
an autopsy report, a log indicating every person visiting the scene
during the initial investigation, a list of people that were found
on the property, several statements taken from those people and a
death certificate. The first thing I noticed was that there was no
inventory of materials or evidence collected at the scene, and no
chain of custody report. This meant that someone made the
"accidental drowning" call very early in the program or someone
screwed up royally, or both. I took a legal pad out of my briefcase
and put it on the table next to the coffee and made a
note.

Next I took the visitors log and the various
reports and matched them up. There were 11 official visitors: 2
from the medical examiner’s office (yielding one report), 7 police
officers of various ranks (yielding 3 reports) an interpreter and a
representative of the District Attorney’s Office, Rick Wall as it
turned out, (no reports). I figured that the DA's office was there
because it was a high profile corpse, but made a note to check it
out anyway. I arranged the reports in the order of the author's
appearance at the scene and read them through.

It seems that at 6: 15 on the morning of July
the eleventh Detective Lieutenant Scott Madigan responded to a
general dispatch call about a man drowned in his pool at 8 Baron
Ridge Lane on the City’s west side. When Lt. Madigan arrived he was
met by a very distraught family that was just waking up to news of
the discovery. It was bedlam. Everyone was screaming and running
around. Mr. Edward Whorley, the deceased's 33 year old son was
shouting at a Hispanic male, 47 year old Fernando Herrera, who was
white with terror. Lt. Madigan called for backup, and an
interpreter, after determining that Mr. Herrera had discovered the
body and didn't speak much English. He then separated everyone so
that independent statements could be taken from each. The
Lieutenant first took the statement of Edward Whorley, whom he
described as 'beside himself with grief.' Mr. Whorley indicated
that he and his wife, Ellen, were asleep in their east wing bedroom
on the third floor at the back of the house when he was suddenly
awakened by the sound of Fernando, their gardener, screaming. He
jumped out of bed and hurried down the stairs and out through the
doors that led to the deck. He could see Fernando darting around
the pool area, waving his arms and howling, so he ran down the
stairs and across to him. When he got there he saw a man floating
face down in the pool. He recognized the man in an instant as his
father. He yelled at Fernando to get hold of himself and get his
father out of the water, then he ran back to the house and dialed
the police emergency number.

BOOK: THE FOURTH WATCH
3.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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