Of Mistresses, Masters, and Monsters (ch 39-41)

Thriller written by AlexScribe on Saturday 14, October %8

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a mystery novel

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Chapter 40 – Off the Reservation I woke up with the seed of a plan. It was a long shot, but better than no shot at all. The first step was to talk to Madero, but I wasn't familiar enough with the guy to know how to bring it up so he wouldn't tell me to go to hell. Or arrest me again. Then he himself solved my problem. “Hey, if you haven't had lunch yet, how about joining me?” It took me a few seconds to recognize his voice on the phone, “Madero? Yeah, sure. Where are we going?” I was happy to let him pick the place: cops always know where you get a great deal on food. Not necessarily healthy, but good and cheap. I assembled copies of the appropriate portions of our research just in case I decided to turn it over and headed out to meet him. * * * The place Madero suggested was small, quite a way from home, and otherwise unremarkable, except there were no other cops in evidence. The menu prices weren't cheap, so the food had to be extra good. After we ordered lunch (actually, breakfast for me) we chatted about the case while waiting for our meals. He seemed nervous, glancing around constantly – he's taken the side of the back booth facing the door just like in the movies. Our food arrived and it was – well, not exactly the worst I’ve ever tasted, but it damn sure wasn't good. Another myth shot to hell! We ate our remarkably bad meals in silence, then refused dessert (a man can take only so much punishment at one sitting). I ordered another Coke and this time Madero followed suit. I guessed the coffee was of the same quality as the food. Fortunately, the soda came in cans so they hadn't yet learned how to screw that up. Once the waitress was out of earshot, he looked around yet again, then said, “Sorry about the food, but I needed a place no other cops would be at. All this has to stay between us, OK, MacIntyre?” “I don't know what 'all this' is, so I can't promise that. But I'll do whatever I can, all right?” “It'll have to be. I told you something was off with Gorman for a while before she went postal. She was looking ragged, bitching about not sleeping, muttering stuff I couldn’t make out. I knew something was up with her and needed to know what, so I put a tracker on her car. Not the department car we use; her private vehicle. Nothing complicated, just a burner cell phone with GPS, and a charger I clipped into the back of the external twelve volt plug for hooking up to taillights on a trailer. Now, this was all unofficial, no warrant, no nothing, so if my bosses found out I'd be toast.” “Damn, Madero, you've really got your neck out! Is it still there?” “If we're going to be partners in crime, you should call me CJ. No, I got it out when we impounded her car. I don't think there's any trace left, but even if the crime scene techs do find something, they'll just think somebody jury-rigged a hookup to a trailer without the right plug. “Now, I looked at all her travels and couldn’t see anything that stood out. Thing is, I can't use anything from it, can’t even investigate based on where she went: wouldn’t have any explanation for what I was doing without running into illegal search crap. Can't even tell anyone in the department about it. But, if you have it, you might be able to learn something. Hell, you might even learn who the vic's boyfriend was. Your team is pretty impressive judging by what you came up with for the trial – want the phone records to check her backtrail?” “Hell, yes, we want them! And you'll be a lot more impressed with my team when you go through the package we prepared for you, CJ,” I patted the folder beside me on the seat, “And it's Kurt. Shouldn't have any trouble keeping your name out of it – the phone can't be traced to you?” he shook his head, “All right then, it shouldn't turn up but if it ever does, we'll just say one of the Ladies got over zealous – don't know which one; won't happen again. “Oh, and we’re pretty sure we know who Jeanie's boyfriend was, but you'll think I'm nuts if I tell you.” “You know? Who? Don't worry, as crazy as this case is, I wouldn't even blink if you said it was my chief!” “Worse than your chief, CJ, much worse. Lester; Conrad Lester.” “What? Judge Lester? You are nuts! Are you kidding me? Law-and-Order, Hang-'em-high, Execute-everybody-and-let-God-sort-'em-out – that Lester?” “Yep. Wait till you see our evidence, then you tell me. Be good to have an independent eye evaluate it.” “Hey, is that why you recused him?” “No, no – didn’t even suspect him till much later. I recused him because of his reputation and he was ruling against me on everything. Now I know why.” “My God, Kurt, you've… we've all stepped in a bigger pile of shit than I thought! And you're still working it, trying to bring down the most powerful judge in town – and he's heading for the State supreme court! Plus his wife's got more money than God, and she's a lot more influential than one State senator ought to be. “Oh, man, you better be right and be able to prove it if we go after him! Like they say, when you shoot at the king, you better not miss – cause he damn sure won't!” We sat in silence a few minutes, then he shook his head, “I can't wrap my brain around this, Kurt. Are you sure?” It took a lot of persuading, and it's doubtful he really believed it then, but he finally admitted it was a possibility. Then I described the plan. Without referencing it outright, I played heavily on the fact that he still felt he owed me. He wasn't convinced it would work, but in the end he agreed it was worth a try. He'd be the one calling in a lot of favors this time. He said, “You know, thinking about it, some things about Gorman are tying in with your theory. She went to UC Sacramento law school. Along the way she got involved with some computer startup; it got bought out by a big time company and she made a shitload of money. She stayed in school and graduated, and even passed the bar, but then decided she'd rather be a cop like her dad had been. She worked for the sheriff up north first then joined our department ten, fifteen years ago.” “Fifteen years ago would be right about the time Lester – and Jeanie – moved down here.” “Yeah, and something else: she knew Lester was assigned to your case before anybody else did. When she told me I remarked something like, 'MacIntyre's really toast with Lester on the case,' and she replied, 'You'd better believe it,' and I said, 'That guy's so tough in court, he's probably pussy-whipped at home!' and she laughed so hard and said, 'More than you'll ever know!' She knows both of them from when she worked security at their parties and then as a volunteer on Snowton's campaigns, but I thought it was just casual, one of hundreds, money people knowing money people, and she was blowing it up – she puts on airs at times cause of all her degrees and she's got more money than the rest of us – but now, I wonder!” “Shit! Maybe she's Lester's other girlfriend. Got jealous when Jeanie turned up pregnant. As Meg says, this thing's got more twists than Watergate!” I traded him our (slightly redacted) research package for his tracker phone and associated files, and we shook hands and parted ways. Later I told Meg all that CJ and I had discussed, and we decided to keep it from Tanya in case any of it blew up in our faces. In so many ways, what we were doing couldn't be legal even though we weren't sure exactly what laws were being bent. * * * That night CJ called: our plan had been set in motion. So far the case had left a huge black eye on both his department and the prosecutor's office, and the powers that be were willing to break rules to redeem themselves – as long as they had others to take the blame if it went sideways. In fact, the DA, citing more pressing matters, had distanced herself from the whole mess, passing the case to an assistant previously not involved with the case. He would handle all aspects of the case until and unless it turned favorable for her to take over again. The ADA realized he was being set up to take the fall unless the case produced a conviction and he was therefore amenable to working with us to that end. I asked about our operative and CJ assured me she could play the role of one ruthless gal: a sheriff's deputy borrowed from San Diego, she'd even gone undercover as a biker babe at one time. And she'd never met Gorman. I told him we had started plotting Gorman's movements – or, anyway, her car's – but that was going to take some time. When Meg and I got to bed we were both restless. I got up early and called CJ: nothing yet, these things take time. I got back in bed and told Meg, then we tried to get some sleep. A couple of hours or so later I woke suddenly with another mystery solved. Maybe. I slipped out of bed carefully and went out to the garage. After a careful examination, it appeared the trailer wiring hookup connector on the passenger side of our car was clean inside, without the dust and grime of its mate. Son of a bitch! Those damn wires are coming out as soon as I get the car to our mechanic. Now at least there was an explanation for how Gorman kept track of my location. I knew nobody followed me! But, Damn! I should have been checking the car regularly – and I even had the bug detector then! It’s a bitch getting old. I called CJ and asked him, in a round about way in case there were any extra ears on the line, where he got the idea for using a cell phone GPS tracker. His guarded response confirmed it was from something Gorman had related doing. He really got a kick out of using her own trick against her. Some day I’ll tell him she also used it against me. So, one mystery solved and another created: if Gorman had a tracker on our car, why didn’t she know exactly when we got home that night? I couldn’t get back to sleep and Meg woke up soon and couldn’t either (no, I didn’t wake her, not even accidentally) and we gave up trying. Tanya was tied up that day which was just as well: Meg and I were so keyed up, we probably wouldn't have been able to keep things from her. * * * The next day was a groundhog day. These things take time. We made excuses to Tanya. And I finally got my Baretta and spare blades back from the cops. Thanks, CJ. * * * Groundhog day again; excuses to Tanya again. Sure, these things take time, but Damn! Then, late afternoon, CJ called. The operation went off without a hitch. Now we had to wait for the results. Waiting never was my strong suit. * * * CJ called early (for us) the next day, but we were up already. Gorman had sent word she wanted to see the ADA! Apparently yesterday's events had caused her to reconsider. She had been 'mistakenly' taken to the showers while somebody else was still there and only an alert guard had saved her from the vicious attack of another inmate armed with a (fake) shank. Muttering about missing her big payday, the attacker had been hustled off to solitary – solitary in her squad car out on patrol again down in San Diego. And, if the plan succeeded, leaving a shaken Gorman, also in solitary, believing that her erstwhile co-conspirator had decided it was safer and/or cheaper to eliminate her than to defend her. With her arm in a cast, she was at a serious disadvantage in any fight. Now we had to await the results of her meeting with the ADA to find out just how shaken she was. The ADA was going to hold off a day or so on the meeting to allow time for the stress level to peak. CJ said the hardest part of convincing him to go along with the plan was overcoming his fear of repercussions from Lester if it went sideways. The ADA’s final comment was, “What the hell, I always wanted to be an explorer, and, if this blows up, Antarctica will be a lot warmer than this office!” I brought CJ up to date on our tracking of Gorman's car and all the places it had stopped for more than a few seconds. Then the Ladies were checking on-line maps and, where reasonable, two of the younger ones were even going to each site, armed with photos of Gorman, to see what they could learn about why she was there and what she did. So far, our main conclusion was that she was a gourmet and oenophile with expensive tastes, far more expensive than any normal police detective should have been able to afford. Maybe that 'computer startup' was a cover: if you're going to be a hit(wo)man, be one for the rich. CJ asked how they managed to get that kind of information – cops had trouble even with a warrant. I explained. Fortunately not bound by the restrictions placed on the police (although the police themselves often did not bind themselves by those same restrictions), the Ladies had two approaches: If the person being asked recognized Gorman from the news, they said they were investigating her, implying – without actually saying so – that they were with the police. Considering the prolonged public interest and the heinous nature of the crime, most people obliged; If Gorman was not recognized as the courtroom gunmoll and presumed Baby Blender Butcher, they claimed to be relatives or co-workers trying to get an idea for what to get her as a present for her upcoming fiftieth birthday. Clerks, sensing a significant sale, were generally eager to reply. CJ stated that we never had the part of the conversation that mentioned impersonating police; I replied, “What conversation?” and he just grunted.
   

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  • Interesting twist here. I want to see how it ends.
    - October 26 2017 00:10:31