Chapter Fifty — Nine: Chief

19 Apr

Did you notice my daughter's picture? Yep, she is here.

Did you notice my daughter’s picture? Yep, she is here.

Hi, I am the daughter of the author. What am I doing here? I have a place here. In fact two places. What are they? This is a mystery series. You either have to figure it out or wait until it is reveled.

Hi, I am the daughter of the author. What am I doing here? I have a place here. In fact two places. What are they? This is a mystery series. You either have to figure it out or wait until it is reveled.

 

 

Officer Morgan walked past the squad room into the bull pen past Chewy’s desk. He was early. A common occurrence for him when it was his turn to have the kids. At least they were both school age now. He did not have to worry about day care facilities. But he did have spare time between dropping them off and starting his shift. Not enough time to do anything constructive, but time. So he was early again.

Morgan was six-foot plus a pinch to grow on. Blue eyes and blond hair cut into a three-quarter inch butch. His hair was always perfectly cut, his mother saw to that. It wasn’t that he liked the cut itself. It was the fact it was convenient. He didn’t have to comb it and it was quick to wash. It had the added advantage it made him look more like a cop. Seen as he did not always act the part, he might as well do his best to look it.

Everyone in the room was busy doing something, typing, talking on the phone, talking to each other, rustling papers, cussing under their breath at computer monitors, texting, all very low-key but busy busy busy, except for one. She sat on the edge of a desk doing something intently with her nails. She looked like a teenager ready to pop bubble gum out of her mouth any second. Morgan figured she was in trouble again about something. Every partner she had complained about her.

He was picking his way across the room to his own desk, moving around people and chairs as he had almost every morning, not actively listening to what was going on until he passed close to DeVry who was saying, “Ballistics says the bullet found in the head of the prostitute matches the bullet found in the head of the horse. Fired from the same gun. At about the same distance.”

Morgan paused, wondering if he heard correctly, “The head of the horse?”
“Yeah.” DeVry looked up from his partner, a much shorter man seated in a chair. DeVry sat on the desk, causing him to tower over the other man like a giant. “You remember that horse Mr. Somebody named… Corrigan I think. Anyway you must remember. He was making a big fuss about his horse being shot in the head.”
Morgan looked down at Peters. They were both serious. “We ran ballistics on the bullet from a horse? Must be some expensive horse.”

“Nah, and nah to that too, but the guy has money and he paid for it, so we did it.” Smiling, he added, “I wonder if he loves his wife as much as he does his horse. A real cowboy, that one.”

“Morgan.” Chief of Police Collars had a voice developed to be heard, and everyone who heard it winced. “DeVry and Peters have a case to work on. Leave em alone.” Collars was a square man with a perpetually loosened tie, rolled up sleeves, buttons looking like they were threatening to pop… He looked like a man who ought to have a cigar jammed between his teeth. Perhaps he was an ex-smoker. That would explain why he was so anti-cigarette. It was often said ex-smokers were the most fanatic non-smokers.

“Yeah,” whispered DeVry, “We gotta go find out if the horse and the prostitute were working the same corner.”

“I heard that.” Bellowed Chief Collars. “Get out there and do something… You’re wasting your time sitting in here cracking stupid.” He held a piece of paper in the air. “You. Morgan. You got nothing better to do?” Collars waved the paper in Morgans face. “Here is a crank call. Some idiot’s dog won’t get off a porch.”
Morgan thought about his desk full of undone book work and the fact he wasn’t even on the clock yet and smiled ruefully.

He snatched the paper out of Collars’ hand. As he did so he realized it was an act very close to insubordination. Morgan himself could not have said if it was an act of defiance, standing up for himself, or simply allowing Collars to “get” to him.
Collars continued to bellow, “Your gold bricking partner may never get back here,”

Morgan cut him off, ”I’ll take Delavera.” Except for Morgan and Collars every eye in the place went to the Mexican girl doing her nails. She took a deep breath, which augmented her natural assets, and did nothing to distract anyone’s gaze, then she slowly, carefully, looked up at Morgan and Collars.

“You do that. You bring her back in one piece, you understand?” There was some snickering. Collars ignored it as he locked eyes with Morgan.

The stare down was an open challenge, in front of everyone, a dominant male thing. Morgan was not even tempted to stare back defiantly, a teenager’s trick used by young people who did not know how to really stand up for themselves.
Instead Morgan smiled one of those smiles he used on strange women who eyed him when he strolled into a bar when off duty and out of uniform. Maintaining the smile he strolled out of the room, not once looking back; not at Collars, not at Delavera. Morgan knew every eye and ear in the room was fixed on the exchange. This was confirmed by Collars further bellow of, “Get back to work.” and “Delavera, your partner is gone. Catch him before he leaves you.”

There was another snicker. This time a solo.

When he reached the car she was scampering up behind him.

“Puto,” she whispered under her breath.

Morgan did not acknowledge he understood. He wasn’t sure to whom she was referring, himself, Collars, or someone else. He also knew enough Spanish to be aware that, like English, what was said wasn’t always exactly what was meant.
He started the car as she swung in.

“Where are we going?” she asked. She did not “look” Mexican, she looked like she could be Mexican, and her English betrayed no accent. He thought, as he had thought before, that feature could be useful under the right circumstances.
He passed her the paper. “You tell me.”

She studied the paper; frowned. “All the way up there? Is this even in our jurisdiction?”

“Call dispatch and find out.”

Morgan had been divorced long enough that he had no immunity to her smell, which was excellent; her looks, which were way better than average; or her figure, which, if it weren’t centerfold material it would take a professional to tell the difference.

Delavera pulled out a nine-inch smart tablet and fussed with it for a few seconds. Morgan assumed she was going to use it as a map.

“Take the highway north.”

He did.

“Not sure if I should thank you for asking for me to go with you or not.”

“Probably not.”

“Okay, why?”

“Collars doesn’t like me. That’s okay, I don’t like him either. Right now he is mad at me and you have a reputation of being hard to get along with. He was going to give you to me anyway. I just saved us the embarrassment of having you dumped on me and you the embarrassment of being pushed on someone who didn’t want you.”

“Save yourself the embarrassment, you mean.”

“Have it your way.” Morgan allowed his shoulders a quick twitch that passed for a shrug. “It worked out better for both of us and took some of the wind from under his wings.”

“Why is he mad at you.” She slouched down in the passenger seat in a very uncoplike manner, sidled her eyes out the window, looking more like a teenaged brat he was detaining than a trained police officer.

“My partner had a choice. He could say I did something stupid, or he could say he did something stupid. He chose to say I did something stupid. Collars blames me for him getting hurt.”

“Which was it? Turn here.” She pointed. “Who did something stupid? You or him?”

He turned onto a side road not looking at her. His peripheral vision picking up all the information he needed. “Doesn’t matter.”

“What did you write in your report?”

“That my full attention was on the person I was arresting. I was unable to see what he did.”

There was silence while she digested the implications.

“You telling me you are always Mr. Noble?”

“Nope.”

“So why would you be noble with me? Or with him?”

Morgan smiled and looked at her, blue eyes to brown eyes,
“You haven’t pissed me off yet.”

She held his gaze. “So you think I will or you think I won’t?”

He looked back to the road. She stared at him fixedly.

“I think you’re already pissed. I think you are angry at the whole world and ready to kick out at anybody because you can’t kick whatever it is has you in its grip. Am I right.”

“So who do you think you are? The mentalist or that phony psych guy?”

“I think I’m a cop who has seen a few really pissed off people. Last girl I met acted like you are was fifteen, and her daddy decided she looked just like her mother when she was fifteen and he thought they ought to do the same things together.” He concentrated on his driving.

“So you think you are going to bring me out here and I’m going to spill my guts out to you and then what? We going to be great friends or something?” She concentrated on him.

“Nah, I’m just going to try not to piss you off any more than I have too.” He did not return her searching stare.

“Yeah. I don’t think you’re doing too well.” She turned to stare out the window.

“So tell Collars I’m an asshole. He will probably give you a commendation. Give him reason to fire me. Tell him I was looking at your butt when you got in. Then tell him I tried to look down your cleavage. He will give you a promotion.”

“My shirt is buttoned up.”

“Good liar never spoils a story with facts.”

“So what is with you? The girls say you are a single father”

“Yep.” He sucked in his lower lip.

“So you looking for a mother or a mistress or what?” Her attention was turned back to him, studying him.

“Just looking not to do something stupid again.” He kept his eyes to the road, not even catching her in his peripheral vision.

Delavera rolled down her window.

“So what did you do stupid the first time?” She was staring out the window again, hands palmed together in her lap.

“Wish I knew. Somewhere along the line I decided to be a cop and she decided to be a drug addict. Now the poor kids spend half their time with cops and the other half the time with people who think cops are the bad guys.”

“Ouch.”

They rode in silence.

“You aren’t mad as hell?”

He thought before he replied carefully, “I honestly don’t know how to feel.”

“I’d know how to feel. I’d be pissed.”

“So I don’t know my own mind.”

“Yeah, well I’m still married.”

“Doesn’t sound like a reason to be angry to me.”

“Yeah. Right. I’m married to a worthless gringo who has blue eyes like you. He has never worked a day in his life and all he does is criticize me.”

“What is to criticize?” Morgan looked at her carefully, “It sure doesn’t show from here.”

“He is sick of Mexican food. Wants me to cook more American. I told him I work all day. Why don’t you cook some ‘American food’, I’ll come home and eat it. One day I cooked some ‘All American food’ and he got mad ‘cuz I had tortillas on the table. I forgot the bread.”

“Buy him a hamburger on the way home tonight. That’s American.”

“Turn here, on that dirt road.” Morgan figured they were close. She was now sitting up straight in her seat.

Morgan had to slow down to negotiate the ruts and rocks.

“Maybe you two just married the wrong people. Maybe you should call it quits.”

“He is a racist pig. But he kept it to himself until I was pregnant with my fourth baby. Then every time he gets mad he calls me a Mexican and my kids Mexicans. Then I try to teach the kids Spanish and he gets mad ‘cuz he doesn’t want them talking that stuff.’”

“I know a lot of people speak Spanish and not all of them are Mexican.”

“When I first met him he had me teaching him Spanish. I thought ‘How cute he wants to learn my language’. As soon as we were married he quit.”

“Too bad.”

“Too bad I married him. He is such a racist pig I should have cheated on him. I should have brought him home a nice fat little black baby.”

They rounded the corner. Two men stood by the side of a cabin, next to the steps. One was smoking, the other stood hunched, and there was a large dog, its tongue lolling, sitting on the porch staring at the door as though waiting for its owner let it in.

Morgan winked at Delavera, “At least we have settled one thing.”

“Whats that?”

“You have reason to be pissed off at the world.”

“Nah. Just you gringos.”

“Time go get out and be professional. We will try to pretend we don’t notice they are gringos.” The two men were obviously hunters. Their rifles were leaned up against the porch, within sight but well out of reach.

Morgan noticed that she almost smiled as she swung herself out the door of the squad car.

“What is going on?” Morgan asked the men.

The man in the heavy brown vest used his cigarette to indicate the slightly younger, slightly thinner, man.“ He can tell you. He thinks his damn dog is Lassie or Rin Tin Tin or something.”

The other man, smiled engagingly, “Not Lassie. He is a boy. His name is Harry.”

“Yeah, Harry. Know why he named the dog Harry? Because my name is Tom, his name is Dick,” he stressed the other man’s name, “and my sister married him for crying out loud.”

“So what is wrong with Tom, Dick, and Harry?” asked Dick.

“What is with the dog?” asked Morgan.

“Does he bite?” Asked Delavera.

“Nope.” Dick answered her.

“Stupid dog won’t get off the porch. We are supposed to be up here hunting, not dog sitting. Anyway numb nuts here thinks his dog has psychic powers or something and is wasting our day because the fool dog won’t get off the porch.”

“That your car?” Morgan indicated the SUV parked a few foot away.

“Nah. Probably the guy owns the cabin.”

Delavera petted and talked to the dog, calling him Harry, and knocked loudly on the door saying, “This is the police. Open the door please.” There was no reply from within.

“So how did you two get here? Why are you here?” asked Morgan.

“Followed this stupid dog my brother-in-law thinks is a canine genius. We came in one of the other roads, hadn’t even intended to come this way. Now we’ve wasted half the morning over nothing. I swear the only reason I tolerate him is because of my sister.”

Dick winked. It was unclear who, if anyone, he was winking at. “The only reason he tolerates me is because his sister and his wife are best friends. They are like sisters and he is afraid my wife thinks more of his wife than she does of him.”

“No puedo entender porque eso seria.” Delavera told the dog in a tender voice.

Even without a basic understanding of what she said Morgan could have detected the sarcasm in her voice.

“What did she say?” asked the smoker.

“I told him he is a very good doggie.” She stood up, went to the window to look in. Harry followed her.

“We already did that,” Said the smoker again, taking a last drag off his cigarette, he spit in the palm of his left hand and then put the bright red butt out in it. He had followed Delavera and was within a foot of her, yet he was unaware of the fleeting look of disgust on her face. Like Morgan she had excellent peripheral vision and did not need to look directly at him to see what he was doing.

Morgan had two reactions to this, one was disgust, the other slight admiration for the practicality of a woodsman or hunter making sure his cigarette did not start a fire in the woods. He was also aware Delavera would have no such qualms. She would be disgusted, period.

When Tom reached into his pocket Delavera stepped back from the window, placing herself to his side. Had he pulled a gun he would have quickly found himself face down on the ground with his gun and hand behind his back. It was not a gun. It was a small plastic container. He put his cigarette butt in it. As he did so he jabbed his chin in Delavera’s direction. “Tell her it is rude to talk that gibberish in front of people who don’t understand it.”

“I was talking to Harry,” she said. “I wanted him to teach me how to speak dog but he is reluctant. Perhaps you could help?” Morgan noted Delavera suddenly had an unmistakable accent. As Tom turned red, Morgan was able to understand why Delavera’s last couple of partners had wanted to strangle her. She knew where people’s short hairs were and didn’t hesitate to tug on them. He remembered his grandmother reaching around to the back of his neck when he got out of line as a kid in a public place and giving the hairs on his neck a solid yank.

“Let me get your names. Write all this down.” Morgan used his official police officer voice, brought out his notebook. While their attention was on Morgan, Delavera dropped off the end of the porch and disappeared around the side of the cabin.

“If Dicky Wicky here would teach his dog to mind we never needed to call you and waste your time or ours. We’d all be on our way. Probably have a nice big buck by now.”

 

Dick smiled. “Harry is up about something. I didn’t want to break in and I don’t want to leave someone behind who is in trouble. I hope its not too late and everything turns out okay.”“Windows open.” called Delavera from the side of the cabin. The three men went around to where she was. She had pushed the window partway open but was unable to reach further. Nor was she able to hoist herself in.

Tom frowned, “Can you just go into someone’s house like that?”

“We have cause. Car is outside, no one answers inside and you two made a report.”

“I didn’t make any report. I think it is all a waste of time.”

“Let’s hope you are right.”

“Aren’t you supposed to go through the door or something?”

“We would prefer to do minimum damage. Why break down a door or wait for a locksmith when we can climb through the window?”

“You gonna talk all the day or you gonna do the help your partner though dee window, Meester Morgan?” Her accent was becoming thicker and more fraudulent by the minute. Still it was the man who complained about her talking Spanish that immediately offered to help her through the window.

Delavera pooched her lips at him. “We are dee professional policemans all trained right. My partner he will help me. You stands over there, out of dee way.” She indicated an area well away from the men’s rifles. They complied. The bigger man sullenly, the other cheerfully.

Morgan knelt in the basic lunge position, offering his left leg as a platform while his right leg and right hand were free next to his holster. She stepped up in one quick motion and quickly put herself waist deep into the window.

She was no more inside than she was saying, “Back, back, get me down outta here.” Her accent was gone.

Morgan grabbed her by the legs, in a not altogether professional manner and got her back down on the ground. She held herself against the wall with one hand and spewed. He waited until she was done.

“We need forensics,” she said. “And you two… Don’t even think about going anywhere.”

Tom groaned as he pulled out another cigarette, shooting a glare of hatred at his brother-in-law, who beamed proudly at Harry.

 

 

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