The chronological order of my stories is now listed in WifeWatchman’s biography.
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This story contains graphic scenes, language and actions that might be extremely offensive to some people. These scenes, words and actions are used only for the literary purposes of this story. The author does not condone murder, racial language, violence, rape or violence against women, and any depictions of any of these in this story should not be construed as acceptance of the above.
Part 1 – Prologue
“Okay, Sharples, whaddya got?”
It was me, Your Iron Crowbar, asking the question. We were in Classroom ‘C’, the Vice meeting room. I was at the head of the table, Captain Cindy Ross to my left. Sharples was to my right, and on his other side was Lieutenant Teresa Croyle. It was 8:00am, Monday, August 3d.
“I went back to some old investigations in Texas.” said Sharples as he slid a file of papers over to me. The file was an inch thick. “The digital files related to this have been entered into the evidence servers. Basically, I haven’t found any connections between them and anything going on in the Tenderloin District or the Southwestern Ghetto, but I did find a connection to a group called ‘Victory Christian Ministries’.”
“What can you tell me about them?” I asked as nonchalantly as I could, while perusing the file Sharples had compiled.
“They were incorporated a couple of States over,” said Sharples, “in a town called Apple Grove. They don’t seem to have any public offices or works, just some bank accounts in several States, including at Second National Bank here in Town.”
“And who is behind them?” I asked.
“I’m still trying to get that.” said Sharples. “They were filing their tax returns out of an office in the Dallas, Texas area. They claim to be an exempt religious organization with donations and all that, but the records of their donations are sketchy, at best. What is more clear is that they made sizable donations to the Oldeeds Ministries, also based in Texas. It’s all in the file, there.”
“Yes, it is.” I said. “This is good work, Sharples. What resources do you need to continue your research on this?”
“More access to Texas databases.” said Sharples. “And maybe an authorization and expenses to go down there and do some research.”
“I’ll see what I can do, on both counts.” I said. “Keep up the good work. If you find more, I can possibly have you liaison with the FBI on this. You’ll get plenty of credit if and when we bust these fuckers.” Sharples nodded acknowledgement of the praise, but said nothing.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Wow,” said Cindy, “he really is coming through on this.” Teresa scowled at the words.
We were in my office after the meeting with Sharples. We only had a few minutes, as the promotions and medals ceremonies were starting at 9:00am.
“Yes, he is.” I said. “He found the ‘Victory Christian Ministries’ connection to Oldeeds, too. I had the VCM from my April trip to Apple Grove, but only firmly connected it to Oldeeds this past weekend.”
I continued: “And you’re right that he’s coming through: Myron and Mary have been following his progress. Everything he does on a computer goes to them. Sharples has indeed given us just about everything he’s found. He hasn’t thrown Thomas Cook under the bus yet, though. I may have to press him on that.”
“Commander,” Captain Cindy Ross said, “my Vice Lieutenant won’t say this out loud, but she is worried that this is not helping her get the Fat Boy out of her Vice Squad.” Lieutenant Teresa Croyle just looked at me.
“I understand, Teresa.” I said. “You do understand why I gave Sharples this, don’t you?”
Teresa replied “I figure you’re giving him something to do, and also distracting him from fucking the rest of us up. To a point, that’s worked.”
“True.” I said, “but hasn’t the real reason occurred to you? And you, Captain Ross?” That got both of my ‘Angels’ thinking hard.
“Ohhhhhhhhh,” Cindy said, “I get it.”
“I’m not a Troy, as someone in here used to say,” said Teresa. “So enlighten me.” I began laughing at Teresa’s little shot at Cindy.
“Watch what you say,” Cindy said as she glared at Teresa, “or someone just might find a family connection for you, too.” Cindy then glared at me, as I was ankara eryaman escortlar still chuckling.
“You’re soul sister to this Michaux woman, Teresa,” I said, “and that’s good enough for me. Cindy, tell your soul sister what I’m doing vis-a-vis the Fat Boy.”
“He’s getting everything he can out of Sharples about the Oldeeds child trafficking ring,” Cindy replied, “which he’ll never get once he finally moves to get Sharples completely out of our Police Force.”
“That’s Iron Crowbar thinking, there.” I said. “And I’m doing even more. I’ve been hoping Sharples would either double-cross some of his dirty allies by investigating or revealing them, or else do something so we can connect him to them and therefore bust him, and them. We have to use him, and play these dirty bastards at their own game, then we can shred them.”
Teresa was not mollified. “I still want that fat slug out of my Vice Squad.” she said. “He’s a drain on morale, and he’s becoming a problem to work around. I’ve already been ‘informally’ told by Internal Affairs that I’m not keeping enough written or email records on our operations… but if I do make any records, Sharples can access them.”
“I know.” I said. “I.A. is just doing their jobs, but the Police Union is pressuring them and the Chief, so the workarounds I’ve tried to make for you are being shot down, as well. But fear not, the pain hopefully won’t last too much longer…”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The ceremonies went well enough. The Town and that they will not release the data to the SBI at any time. KSTD reached out to the Town & County Sheriff, Daniel Allgood, for a comment, but has received no reply. The Town & County Police Department issued a statement reiterating their standing policy that they will not comment further on the tapes nor the lawsuit.”
Priya wasn’t finished: “In other news, KSTD’s investigation into the murder of the Reverend Jonas Oldeeds in this County continues. In an interview for my upcoming special report, SBI Special Agent Dick Ferrell stated that his investigation of the case was impeded by the local police as well as the FBI, and that he was physically assaulted by an FBI agent as he attempted to investigate the case. Special Agent Ferrell also claimed that physical force was used to prevent the SBI from collecting physical evidence at the scene of the crime, and that the Town & County Police has refused to cooperate with the SBI. Commander Donald Troy, then a Supervisor in the Police Force, was nearly killed himself when a bullet grazed him. Asked for comment, Commander Troy referred KSTD to Public Relations Officer Lieutenant Scott Peterson, who said the Police Force had no further comment on the matter..”
“And speaking of Commander Troy,” said Priya, an almost malicious smile forming on her face as she spoke, “”Five Alive News has learned that SBI Director Jack Lewis is going to request that Commander Donald Troy of the Town & County Police Department be brought into the SBI and assigned to the Henry R. Wargrave case. Commander Troy is an SBI Reservist, and the SBI does not believe Mr. Wargrave committed suicide. Asked for comment, Commander Troy stated that he had not yet received any such request, and that he sees no reason why the City Police and Coroner’s Inquest evaluations of Mr. Wargrave committing suicide is being questioned at all. Before his untimely death under suspicious circumstances, Mr. Henry Wargrave was a board member of the parent company of KSTD.”
I turned off the television in my office as Priya moved on to a discussion of the upcoming Coltrane County Homespun Festival. I was sitting behind my desk in my office. In one of the ‘hot seat’ chairs in front of my desk was my MCD ‘Angel’, Lt. Tanya Perlman.
“I now know why coffee was created.” Tanya said. “It’s the only thing keeping me calm after watching that bitch and her reports.”
“I know the feeling.” I said.
“Have you been contacted by the SBI concerning Mr. Wargrave?” Tanya asked as she sipped her coffee.
“No.” I said. “Not yet. I’ve heard rumors that Lewis wants to put me on the case, but nothing official yet.”
Tanya was looking around. “Where are Teresa and Cindy– er, Captain Ross?” she asked. “It’s way past 8:00am.”
“I asked them to delay coming in until 8:30.” I said, knowing it was time to address the situation. “I need to talk to you privately first.”
“Sure, escort etimesgut whassup?” Tanya asked, her cherubic grin not leaving her pretty face.
“Internal Affairs wanted me to ask you why you’re looking into the ‘Murdered Lovers’ case files, particularly about Joe Arruzio.” I said. The cherubic smile disappeared from Tanya’s face.
“What, are y’all spying on me?” she said, her voice not friendly.
“Not as a matter of routine.” I said, knowing she was going to ask that. “But they, as well as Data Branch Supervisor Myron Milton, have been closely monitoring for any attempts to access the Burke tapes information without authorization. You didn’t access any of that, but flags did come up when you accessed other case notes, and then they followed up and noticed you were getting data on Arruzio himself.”
I added “There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but I am curious. So, what were you looking for, and what did you find out?”
Tanya nodded at my explanation, but was clearly, and understandably, not happy that her actions had been monitored. She said “I got a request from an anonymous source to look into Joe Arruzio, and to see if the murders were just a case of domestic violence and a man catching his wife in bed with a young stud, or if there was more.”
“And this request came from the deceased stud’s younger brother, I would guess.” I said. “Who by sheer coincidence also happens to be my nephew.”
Tanya peered at me a moment, then said “You must’ve overheard us at the party.” I nodded then asked her to tell me what she found.
Tanya said “The only thing I found of any interest was that Arruzio was doing business deals with Jack King… the same one who came up in the ‘Black Badge’ case, and who escaped Supermax prison and is believed to be in France now. Their deals may have been underhanded and involved smuggling, but I didn’t find any more, and didn’t find anything that would connect to Arruzio shooting his wife and Jack Burke.”
“I see.” I said. “I told Internal Affairs that I had authorized your looking into that, and I really do want you to keep looking into it and let me know anything you find. I’d also suggest looking into Marie Arruzio’s past. She was the older sister of the prostitute Cherie, who was also murdered in the City more recently. Todd might be onto something, but do not tell him anything without clearing it with me first. Last but not least, get with your friend Jack Muscone of the FBI if you need his help… and I’m sure after any work you do with him, you can… socialize with him afterwards.”
Tanya’s grin returned. I regretted having to wipe it off her face again, but had to ask:
“One more thing.” I said. “You got Dr. Karpathian’s interview request?”
Yep, the grin was gone. “Yes sir.” Tanya said. “I… I don’t think I want to… that I’ll be able to do that.”
“I understand.” I said. “Just to let you know, I have agreed to do it, though I don’t really want to. My wife asked me to help her fellow psychiatrist with the research. But you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to, and I’ll stand up to my wife on that if I have to.”
“Thank you, sir.” Tanya said solemnly. “It… it’s not that I can’t talk about Pete’s death… I just don’t want to talk about what happened when we rescued Hugh. And for more than just emotional reasons.” She meant legal reasons, and I again understood.
“I’ll tell you what.” I said. “If you’re willing, I’ll tell Bonnie– Dr. Karpathian, to submit questions in writing, and she’ll understand that you’ll answer only the ones you want to. Good or good?”
“Uh, yeah, that’ll work.” Tanya said. Just then my lovely assistant Helena French buzzed me that Captain Ross and Lieutenant Croyle were reporting for the morning meeting. I bade her to let them in…
Part 3 – Suppositions Redirected
2:00am, Wednesday, August 5th. Detective Leonard ‘Sergeant’ Sharples got into the backseat of the Cadillac Escalade which had pulled up to his apartment. He’d been forewarned of the pickup thirty minutes earlier.
“What’s this about?” Sharples asked the man to his left in the backseat. It was businessman and Town & County Councilman Thomas P. Cook.
“Thank you for coming with me.” said Cook in a show of manners that belied the lack of civility this really was about. “We are going to meet some friends of batıkent escort mine. Please say no more until we get there.”
Sharples noted that the man driving the Escalade had his collars up and hat low over his eyes, to prevent easy examination of his facial features, and the man in the shotgun seat was nervous… he probably was fingering a loaded firearm, the fat detective noted to himself.
The drive in silence took them through the Warehouse and Industrial Districts, then they turned along a road leading to a back access road. Driving along that, Sharples saw the buildings of Ward Harvester coming up. Sure enough, the vehicle came to a back entrance, where men wearing dark clothing, hats and bandanas covering their lower faces opened the gate. Once the vehicle was through, the men closed the gates with themselves on the outside. They melted into the brush on the other side of the road.
The vehicle stopped near the entrance to the office areas. Going inside, Cook led Sharples through the dark corridors to an office that was lit by only one lamp. It was the office of the man himself, Mr. Thaddeus Ward.
“Ah, Mr. Sharples, do come in.” said Ward in his aged voice. “I’ve been looking forward to having this short conversation with you. I can assure you that it will not take long. Sit down.” Cook indicated a wooden chair in front of Ward’s desk. Ward seated himself in his chair behind that desk.
Sharples was instantly aware that the three men were not alone. Someone was watching or listening to them from an adjoining room. A feeling of foreboding began to creep into his fat soul. And was that… a faint whiff of perfume he was catching?
“What’s this about, Mr. Ward?” Sharples asked, attempting to show bravado and a lack of fear.
“We… my partners and myself…” said Ward, “… understand that you have been given an assignment by Commander Troy, and that you are working diligently upon it. Is that not so, Detective Sharples?”
“What assignment is that?” Sharples warily asked. Cook frowned and Ward’s eyes sparked with a bit of anger.
“Detective,” Ward said, “my partners and I are not fools, and I would suggest you not continue wasting our immensely valuable time. We are talking about your continued investigation into the child trafficking rings that you stumbled upon in Texas some years before. I would think that the experiences delivered to you there would’ve dissuaded you from ever attempting to reopen that investigation, but I can see that we were wrong.”
“What, you’re part of that?” asked Sharples accusingly.
“Oh, hell no.” said Ward. “But I think you know who is part of that, and some of their friends are also our friends.”
“Sharples,” said Thomas P. Cook, “we’ve brought you here for two purposes. First, you are to cease and desist from further investigation into that trafficking ring. Second, we’re going to tell you what you are going to do on our behalf, in order to fuck up the Police and their investigations into several things in this County.”
“Yes.” said Ward. “The Police Union and our friends on the Force will have your back completely, and there is not a thing that God-damned bastard the Iron Crowbar can do about it.”
Sharples became more intensely aware of that hidden presence watching him, concentrating on him. Something was very wrong, here, he thought to himself…
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Sergeant McCombs and Officer Justin Hendricks sat in their police cruiser outside Ward Harvester, waiting to hear from Sharples or possible trouble concerning him.
“Can’t believe I wasn’t promoted.” grumbled Hendricks.
“Fucking Commander Troy held up your promotion. Lt. Masters gave you bad evaluation scores, too.” McCombs replied. “Sharples and Commander Brownlee put me in for a Commendation Medal for getting Ricky Morris. Troy and the Chief both blocked that one, the fuckers.”
“Oh well,” said Hendricks, “they’ll be getting what’s coming to them, and soon– whoa, who’s that pulling up behind us?”
Another TCPD police cruiser had pulled up behind their vehicle. The uniformed officers getting out approached McCombs’s car with hands on guns, as if it were a dangerous traffic stop.
“Gentlemen,” said the officer approaching the driver’s side door, “what are you doing here?”
“Stakeout.” said McCombs. “And you’re fucking it up. What are you doing coming up behind us like that, and without getting on the radio first?”
“I think you boys better move along.” said the officer.
“Who in the fuck are you to tell me what to do, boy?” snarled McCombs. He was about to open the car door and get out to confront the officer when another person approached the car.