The Possibilities - Desire - A Collection of Short Stories (4 page)

BOOK: The Possibilities - Desire - A Collection of Short Stories
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The ‘insufferable prick’ was lying
in a pool of blood next to the obviously dead dealer, but the ‘prick’ was
talking to a plain clothes police officer and the entire building was
surrounded by flashing blue lights mounted on police cars.  Bridie started
snapping pictures.  She was absolutely certain her editor would find the
right desk to send these to.

“Ma’am, we’re going to have to
interview you down at headquarters,” the polite young uniformed policeman told
her, taking her arm.

“I haven’t done anything wrong,”
Bridie protested.

“Yes ma’am that’s true,” he said
again, “but the detectives are going to need to see the photos you took and
question you about what you saw go down between Jimmy Spuds and Lieutenant
Harcourt. “

Bridie looked at the young cop as if
he was nuts. “Who?”she asked incredulously.

 The cop pointed to the two men
on the ground.  The prick was being loaded onto a stretcher, an I.V. stuck
in his arm, as an ambulance backed up to where he was at.  Two men wearing
coroner’s jackets were standing by as an Evidence technician took pictures of
the dead dealer.  “Him,” the cop pointed at the ‘prick.’  “Lieutenant
Nick Harcourt.  He just stopped a gunfight from happening in that crowded
club…if he hadn’t done what he did, there would be a lot more ambulances here
right now.”  The young policeman shook his head in admiration.  “He
risked his life to keep it from going down in there, and blew a two year
undercover operation doing it.”  He sighed.  “Guess it doesn’t matter
now,” he said, “they’ll decorate him and promote him to Captain…his cover’s
blown and he’s out of the undercover business from now on.”  He turned to
Bridie. “Come on please ma’am, we need to get to headquarters pretty quick or
they’ll have you there all night.”

“I apologize Ms. Halloran, the
officer should have been more clear.  We are
requesting
copies of
your pictures, no one here has any intention of restricting your first
amendment rights.”

“Then I can send a copy to my editor
before letting you see the pictures?” Bridie said defiantly.

“Absolutely,” said Detective Bill
Sterling.  “We
do
request that you blur Lieutenant Harcourt’s face
before publishing them.”  Bridie glared at him but reached for the preferred
laptop.  She checked to make sure of the internet connection and inserted
the SD card from her camera in the slot, then emailed the photos to her
editor.  She explained the photos and gave as much of the story as she had
gleaned outside the club to her editor, and then removed the SD card from the
slot.

“I saved a copy of the pictures to
your desktop,” she said with an insincere smile.

Detective Sterling smiled at
her.  “Thank you.  Most of the media don’t seem to appreciate that
we’re dealing with some really nasty people, people who don’t mind intimidating
witnesses…and worse, to keep them from testifying in court.”

“Oh come on Detective,” Bridie
retorted, “It’s not like we’re living in Miami or New York, we’re a small city
of maybe a half million people.  We don’t have a lot of drive by shootings
and murders here, and we don’t have drug dealers on every corner.  We
don’t really have a great deal of crime here at all.  I think you people
just try to make it sound worse than it is so you can keep your budget nice and
fat.”

Bill Sterling, a veteran of twelve
years police service, nine of them in Crimes Against Persons, a department
of the detective division that covered all assaults, robberies, and murders,
sat back in his chair and tried to assess Bridie Halloran.  She didn’t
look
stupid.  “Exactly what do you
do
for the paper?” he
asked.  “Don’t you read it?  Disgusted, Bridie didn’t answer him.

Sterling sighed and opened the
pictures on his laptop. The first and second pictures showed another man, well
dressed with the same tacky gold jewelry the dealer had been wearing. 
“Did you have any contact with this man?” Sterling asked her.

“No,” Bridie said, “he was there
when I got outside.  “When I looked again, he was gone.”  Sterling
narrowed his eyes.  She had gotten the third man on three photos. In the
first two he had been going through the dealer’s pockets, and in the third he
was leaving…and he seemed to be in a hell of a hurry.

“Ms. Halloran, at the risk of
offending your sense of journalistic propriety, you might want to consider
accepting police protection when it’s offered to you,” Sterling said, “this
gentlemen you took two pretty decent photos of is an entirely unpleasant man
who works for one of the Mexican drug cartels.  He is a native Colombian
who went with the highest bidder after the takedown of the Colombian cartels in
the late 90s.  He is a very nasty individual known for his cruelty and his
love of killing.”

“I don’t know why you are trying to
scare me, Detective Sterling, or what the police department is trying to hide,
but I will tell you I think I need the newspaper’s lawyer and right now!”
Bridie said angrily.

“No,” Detective Sterling told her,
suddenly all business again, the friendly look and calm tones gone.

“I know my rights!”  Bridie
snarled, “You
have
to give me access to my lawyer!”

“You need to read the law again Ms.
Halloran,” Sterling said drily.  “I have to provide you with a lawyer only
if you’re being charged with a crime.  If you wish to sign a release
saying that you refused protective custody when the need for it was explained
to you and when it was offered, you are free to go at any time.”  He
pushed the unsigned form towards her with absolutely no emotion on his
face.  Bridie was livid, but she signed the form and left…heading straight
for the editor’s office even though it was now one a.m.  She called for a
cab on her cell phone.

The plain, dark gray Ford pulled out
after the cab was on the street and moving.  It stayed back, barely
keeping the cab in sight.  He was pretty sure he had gotten away before
she had taken any photographs, but not certain.  In any case, she had
talked with the police now.  If she had seen him or taken a photo, it was
not in his best interests to leave her alive to testify in court. 

 

 

 

A
HARD SURPRISE

 

“I know it’s not my regular beat
Jason,” she said, “but I was right there when it happened and I’m already
inside with the detective working the case.”  She neglected to mention
that they really disliked each other and that the wounded officer was an
insufferable prick.  What she also didn’t mention was that it was a quick
way out of the ranks of the fashion editor’s office and into the excitement and
opportunities of a hard news reporter. 

Jason Enders knew exactly what
Bridie was about.  He had started out writing fluff pieces for the
‘Community Living’ section, and he remembered the despair of ever writing hard
news.  He had gone straight to the Police Beat, a job he had fallen in
love with.  He had stayed with it until he had been promoted to editor
against his will.  He looked at the time on his computer screen. 
“All right,” he said, “you have less than an hour to get something written up
so I can get it in print. I’m holding a slot on page two for three paragraphs
and a photo.  If you don’t do it and do it well, it goes to Tom Banks
tomorrow.”  Tom Banks was the current Police reporter.

While Bridie sat at her terminal and
worked on her three paragraphs from the notes she had been taking since the
beginning, Jason made a call to Bill Sterling.   They were old
friends.  “Jesus Jason,” Sterling answered, “I’m glad you called! 
That lady reporter of yours is in really deep shit and she won’t listen to me…”

“Tell me all,” Jason sighed, leaning
back in his chair.  Sterling spoke for a few minutes, giving Jason the
details as he knew them.  “So she refused protective custody even after
you explained who Torres is?” he asked.

“Firmly,” Bill said, “you’d have
thought we were covering up a presidential assassination.”

“Are you thinking what I
think
you’re
thinking Bill?”

“Come on Jason, she doesn’t have to
know about it.”

“You don’t think the name and the
close resemblance will tip her off Bill?”

“If it doesn’t click when she sees
him again she doesn’t deserve to be a reporter Jason, and you know it. 
Besides, Nathan Harcourt quit the department when Nick made Lieutenant. 
They’re fraternal twins, not identical…she might not make the connection, but
if she does, so what?  He’s an established photographer for your
paper. 
Just make sure he’s carrying Jason, his license is up to date, and I’ve got a
copy of it in my hand.  Torres is one of the bad ones Jason, a no shit,
bona fide bad guy.  He’s killed more than a dozen men we know for
sure, and all of them were messy.”

“Are you sure she wouldn’t be better
off in protective custody Bill?”

“She probably would, Jason, but she
wouldn’t be any safer.  They don’t come any better than Nathan.  He
was the best we ever had.”  The obvious question was on the tip of Jason’s
tongue, but he didn’t ask it.  If Nathan was the best, why was Nick
promoted and why had Nathan quit?

“I’ll assign him to the story and
give it to her…and I’ll explain to him why I’m doing it…and thanks Bill.”

“Make sure you tell him about Torres
Jason, I’m sure he’ll recognize the name and take the right steps to cover the
woman.  Nathan and Torres have a history, I know that much but that’s
all.  I gather it’s personal.”

Bridie was thrilled with the
assignment, but she was less than enthusiastic about Jason’s condition
requiring that she partner up with Nathan Harcourt.  “You wouldn’t do this
to a man,” she raged.  Her anger took a steep dip at Jason’s next words.

“Yes, I would,” Jason said evenly,
“and if you don’t agree to it the Police are going to take you into protective
custody as a material witness.  This is not a game Bridie.  The guy
in these pictures you took is a real international bad guy.  He’s a wanton
killer, a guy who leaves a real mess as a signature.  We know he’s
responsible for a dozen murders in this country alone.  The Feds tell me
they know about as many more overseas…some of his victims were women.” 
Jason’s eyes were somehow old as he spoke the next words.  “And then we
know about the kids.  As far as anyone knows, the kids were to teach a
politician in Colombia that he was not untouchable.  The bodies were
almost unrecognizable.  Frankly, I debated just having the cops come pick
you up Bridie.  I’m still not sure I shouldn’t do just that…and if you
don’t agree to stay with Nathan Harcourt twenty four hours a day until this is
over, I’ll do it anyway.”

“Okay Jason, I understand why you
want me to have a protector…but why a photographer?”

“Nathan is prior military, a Special
Forces type, and a former cop.”

Bridie rolled her eyes and then
froze.  The last name suddenly clicked.  “Harcourt?” she asked, “Is
he related to the guy that got shot tonight?”

Jason nodded.  “They’re
brothers Bridie, fraternal twins.  I called him at the hospital. 
Nick’s going to be just fine by the way, they’re only going to hold him
overnight for observation…and then
he’s
going into seclusion until after
the trial.  This is no game Bridie; it’s dangerous as all hell.  You
either agree to it or you sit this one out in a safe house with Nick until
after the trial.  I called Nathan and he’s leaving there to go by his
house to pick up his gear and some clothes.  The paper’s going to pick up
the tab for a double suite at a hotel…even I won’t know where you’re at. 
You’re going to need a disguise, a good one” He reached into the top
drawer of his desk and pulled out a credit card.  “You’re going to need
this.”

Bridie’s eyes widened.  If the
paper was willing to pay for all this, she had underestimated the danger very
badly.

Jason saw her surprise.  “Try
to wrap your head around this Bridie, this is real, and this is dangerous. No
one can know where you are or what you are doing.  Not, friends, not
family, and not colleagues.  This guy is seriously bad news, and any
contact you make with them will put their lives in jeopardy.”

NATHAN HARCOURT

 

He came through the door of the city
room with a black rucksack on his shoulders and a very large camera bag hanging
in front of him.  He wore a weathered chambray work shirt, faded jeans,
and black cowboy boots that were worn down and the heels and scuffed. It looked
as if they hadn’t seen polish in years.  His height and general build were
the same as his brother’s.  His features were more angular, as if chiseled
out of granite.  His eyes were a stony gray and his wavy black hair was
clipped shorter and more neatly than his brother’s.  When he got close,
Bridie smelled the Old Spice and smiled.  It was a very simple and
inexpensive scent, but it brought back familiar memories of her father and
grandfather, memories of being safe and protected.

Other than his dress and his
grooming, the family resemblance was strong.  The man’s one hundred eighty
degree difference in sartorial choices from his brother was immediately negated
by his brusque response to Jason’s introduction.  Nathan looked her up and
down as if she were a head of cattle and then turned to Jason for specific
details, completely ignoring her.  He did have
that
in common with
his brother Bridie decided.  Her body’s response to this man was
instantaneous heat, but he was an insufferable prick.

BOOK: The Possibilities - Desire - A Collection of Short Stories
3.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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