This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
CHAPTER 1 The big house sat atop one of the many hills that towered above the highway, one mile away, and the airport, seven miles farther. Big and rectangular, it lacked only a bow and stern to resemble Noah’s Arc, and it was just about as welcome to the local residents. It looked as if it had plowed into the hillside at full flood and stuck there. One end perched above ground on a twelvefoot foundation, jutting arrogantly above the sloping hillside. Its other end nestled deeply into the earth, forming a cavernous basement and made a first story entry to what would have been considered the second story if one approached from the rear. Another floor, accessible by an inside staircase through the foyer, connected the building’s apartments. Spanish clay tiles of orange-red color pressed down from above onto hand-hewn fir beams and white stucco that never yellowed or lost its abrasive edge. It was old. A painting in the foyer showed the building when newly constructed eighty years earlier. The giant live oaks in the painting were the same shape and size as those that now surrounded the house, perhaps one hundred-fifty years old.
Subdivisions came later, after World War II, and never stopped their relentless growth. They crept up, around, and over the lower hills until they bumped resentfully against the acreage on which the house rested. Gone now were most of the Hooded Orioles, Sparrow Hawks, and Meadow Larks; gone were the colorful Madrones, most of the Tanbark Oaks, and the California Laurels, replaced by concrete, too white to look at in the bright sunlight, and black asphalt streets. The owners of these new homes staked little ash trees, planted juniper bushes, and watered their lawns incessantly. They looked up and resented the old house in its wild setting, but they resented its occupants more. Luis Calderon lived here with a woman he respectfully called Momma. She wasn’t legally his mother, but the point was moot because the townspeople lumped them together as Luis was of mixed Black and Hispanic ancestry while Momma’s ancestors had given her swarthy skin and dark eyes that spoke of Spanish-Morocco. She and Luis now lived together with her aged brother, sister, and Luis’ retarded sister, Dina, in the house, which Momma had inherited. Momma dressed in gypsy fashion because her people had always dressed that way. She loved the bright colors, scarves, and jewelry even as she loved the dark vests, shawls, and lace-up shoes she wore with them. She had come to this country from Spain as a young girl in the company of her aunts and uncles and settled in the Deep South, mixing with the black and immigrant Spanish peoples from the Caribbean until she became just another dark-skinned cipher. She dressed Luis as she dressed herself, with mix and match hand-me-downs until Luis knew little else and became habituated to his wardrobe. The other
inhabitants were beyond caring what they wore. To the townspeople, they were all strange and dirty. Their several acres were slightly sloped hillside, for the most part, with native oak and a few other species. In the last fifty years, Silver and Bailey’s Acacias spread everywhere, hiding the house with their foliage and dusting it with golden pollen early in the year. Monterey Pines and Monterey Cypress had been planted also and now provided small a copse of greenery that stretched from southwest to northeast. The property was referred to as the field, the old house as the Hacienda, and its inhabitants as the gypsies. The younger, righteous, more affluent middle-class that surrounded Luis and his entourage let their collective hate build and fester. “God damned eyesore is what it is.” “You bet, and what in hell you think goes on there at all hours?” “I seen people comin’ and goin,’ always sneakin’ around in those rags they call clothes. It’s a God damned crime to let that go on in a nice neighborhood like this.” “Well, there is Luis?” “Yeah, ain’t he a number, now? Only one that goes out much, him and that wreck of truck.” “Works pretty hard from what I hear.” “Him and those Goddamned chickens, hundreds of them, I’d guess, and roosters crowin’ at 5:00 a.m. I heard they got goats, too, milk goats or some Goddamned thing?”
“Do you think he can talk? Meg, down at the hardware, says she thinks he understands a whole lot. Says he can talk like you and me, but I don’t believe that for a second. He’s as vocal as an oak stump.” “He’s got a driver’s license or they wouldn’t let him drive that truck all over, and he writes out receipts. Wrote one for me once, so he must have some learning?” “Hellfire, anyone can get a God-damned license these days, and my eightyear old can do sums. That’s no big thing.” “I know for sure if you phone his momma, she’s a sharp-tongued old bitch, and leave a message you need trash hauled or trees cut and give her a time and a day, and Luis is there like a June bride with his truck and chainsaw.” “He’s got a helluva pile a firewood he stacks up and sells. Good wood, too, I got some from him a couple years back. No short cords either.” “You mark my words, they’re trouble. They’re dirty and sneaky and they’ll steal anything that’s not tied down, you give ‘em half a chance. That includes Luis. They’re cheap foreign trash the whole bunch.” If Luis knew the depth of their hatred, he never let on. Each day he went about his work the way Momma said that “God intended.” He tended his modest garden from a small spring about which the locals had long forgotten, composted his refuse, milked his goats, and fed his chickens (of which he had many). He collected and cleaned eggs that he sold on a regular egg route on Tuesday and Friday mornings.
Today was Saturday, and Luis was in a cheerful mood as he drove to the address Momma had given him from her phone message, the home of Mr. Anton Richards. He saw no one out front and received no answer to his forceful knock on the front door. A tree obviously needing removal caught his attention. A Modesto Ash had grown too fast, making the load in its upper branches considerable. It had split at the first vee of the trunk, probably during the ten days of heat that had just passed. A good wind would finish it off without Luis’ help, but it also might catch and crush the corner of the roof. It was at this point that Luis noticed the side gate open. He walked that way until he could see the back yard. This was one of the first Rancho Estate homes. ‘Gracious living – Modest prices,’ said the sign down on the highway that no one had removed after the last home was sold. Modest living and big mortgages thought Luis. A full-size pool and room for two Azaleas was more like the truth. A squat pool house with sliding glass doors squeezed into one corner under a massive oak that one day would drop a big limb, crushing the pool house. Its roots would seek and find the pool and uproot the cement walkways that bordered it. The drapes of the pool house were pulled, and the only movement Luis saw was the pool vacuum as it swept randomly, occasionally squirting various parts of the yard with jets of water. Suddenly, one sliding glass door moved a couple of feet and a girl moved the drapes aside to make her exit. Luis’ first reaction was visceral as he spotted the extremely short skirt, high heels, and long, tapered legs. His second reaction was alarm and shock; she couldn’t have been more than twelve or thirteen. As
and he smiled. I’ll give you two hundredfifty dollars. “I need that tree removed and the wood bucked up for my fireplace. the girl’s skirt had been hurriedly pulled up. “What the hell do you want?” yelled the man with unfeigned anger. He pointed her toward the pool house. as the girl turned toward him. uncertain and trembling. Luis looked blankly at the man. his fly was once again zipped.” Luis said softly to himself. Her mother slapped some sense into her when she caught her playing dress-up. Luis noticed the man’s fly was open and a piece of shirttail protruded. moreover.” He walked by Luis as if he didn’t exist and then pointed to the tree out front. and her walk. was sticking out on the side. “Wasn’t expecting you so soon. and I need it done today. It was then. Color rushed to his face. Kids these days dress like cheap trollops.” He pointed to where some firewood remained near the gate. Something was very wrong. thought Luis. he could see an excessive amount of lipstick smeared onto one cheek. tucked in front. I want the wood stacked over here. that Luis noticed her eyes. When he turned back. They’re not going to do it while I’m in charge.Page 6 she walked toward the house unaware of his presence. as the seam was pulled crookedly to one side while her blouse. dark-haired man emerged to follow several yards behind her. The man turned back to angrily rebuke his daughter. He pointed dumbly to the gate and raised his long-handled trim saw. empty and hollow. “Son of a bitch. Her hair was tousled and a red welt on one side of her face looked like it may have been from a hand slap. He made a cutting motion at the 6 .” he said. “Sorry. The drapes again parted and a tall. He felt sick inside. He saw Luis before the girl did. although he understood every word.
” thought Luis. this one for $400.” the man nodded and showed Luis how long he wanted the firewood lengths. yes. Instead he nodded cautiously and said. Luis nodded. Richards ran to catch up to him and grudgingly shoved the $375 receipt into his hand. showing it to the man and pointing to the name.” He wrote this above the figure Luis had written and gave it back to him. People often did this thinking he was deaf. he heard Richards calling him to stop. “That’s right. I’ll pay you $250. Luis was good at this game. Anton Richards. He showed no sign of hearing and continued his slow amble toward the truck until he felt a small stone hit him in the back. He balled up both receipts and threw them backward over his shoulder as he walked to his truck. Stack?” The man appeared pleased and shook his head appreciatively until Luis took out his receipt book and wrote $375.Page 7 base of the tree and then made slicing motions with the heel of his hand. “I ought to cut your dick off with this handsaw. Anton Richards. but not $375. Before he’d gone halfway. and began to unload his equipment. “Mr. pointing at the diminished wood stack. Anton Richards couldn’t hide his frustration and swore loudly as he handed Luis back both receipts. he cared not at all about this man or his tree. he played it all the time with much success. “Cut. This guy was a pervert and a moron and was very close to getting punched. Luis shook his head and took his time to write another receipt. Actually. 7 . entered the receipt back into his book.
and placed the cash in his billfold. In spite of this. he waited until Richards had counted out the full amount before slipping the cardboard cover under the original and the carbonless copy. He experienced a sense of helplessness. he thought. She was now dressed as any normal teenager might. It was the same as always. Luis’ face clouded and he began to slide into a mood darker than his suntanned skin. He’d always be an outsider in this town. There was not much he could do. He knew himself as no one else did. He was unprepared for what happened next. No. He then signed it. Luis wanted very much to pay the man back for what had happened in the pool house. handing it to Richards. She wore a comfortable loose top that hid her developing bust and came down over jean 8 . he forced himself to accept the handshake because he wanted to see if there was any strength in the man’s hand.Page 8 The job went well and Richards wanted to pay him before Luis was finished stacking the firewood. A wave of nausea enveloped Luis. He was capable of rage and more. He looked at his gas can sitting beside the chainsaw and woodpile. a six-foot one-inch paper tiger that bullied others and abused children. Richards offered him his hand. The man was a sham. These things shouldn’t go unpunished. There was not. He wanted nothing to do with this man who had certainly been abusing his own daughter. An ill-formed plan began to form in Luis’ mind as he watched Richards drive away. bad idea. he’d be caught in an hour and then who would take care of Momma and the rest. Only the girl’s voice interrupted him. not even Momma. Removing his receipt book. This combined with the image of the poor young girl brought him close to rage.
Her eyes began to send little rivulets down her cheeks. not ignoring the girl rather 9 .” said Luis. putting her head into her hands. She’s like a porcelain teacup. He nodded.” she sobbed.” she fibbed. and spoke for the first time. “You don’t know him. “I know what went on in the pool house. Luis approached to within a few feet of her.” “I wish you would have. “Are you almost done?” she asked. graceful lines. Her skin was so clear it was translucent in the strong daylight.” she stammered. You don’t know what he can do.” replied Luis. firewood in his arms. She had sandals and a ponytail that made her seem even younger. Luis couldn’t help noticing that she was delicately pretty and small-boned. and her lips began to tremble. neck. The girl’s face drained of what little color it had. I got in trouble for dressing in my mother’s clothes. “Daddy says I have to stay until you’re gone. He could see thin blue veins in her arms. I saw. “I know how to make it stop. I wish he was dead. he thought. He sensed he had her attention as he saw her face give the slightest twitch. Luis returned to stacking firewood.Page 9 cutoffs with ragged edges that reached to mid-thigh. “I wanted to take my saw and cut his head off. “You just don’t understand. “I do understand.” she sobbed. that’s why my Daddy got so mad and yelled at me. That’s what I wanted to do. yes. I wish you had cut him up into little pieces until there was nothing left of him. You just don’t know.” he lied. Her hands were well formed with long. and face. Then I can go to my friend’s house.
“The lady from the Agency came by two or three times and that was it. she stood up and walked over to where he was working on the last tier of wood. You have to tell a priest or a minister or someone right away. “then I guess I better just call the police and let them handle it. You can’t wait. Just a little. He doesn’t go either. Child Protective was out a few years ago when he beat me up.” “It was just beating on me then. Now its all the time.” “Oh no.” thought Luis. what you saw. Please don’t.” “You have to tell your teacher at school. or you have to tell a counselor.Page 10 giving her some time to compose herself.” “Nothing will change. It has to be done right away.” Luis just listened.” said Luis. I can’t tell anyone. Luis didn’t answer but looked at her intently.” he said. “Not me. “How?” she asked.” “Daddy doesn’t like me to go to church anymore. “You have to tell someone. He said I was bad all the time. “How can I make it stop?” came her voice.” she dropped her eyes.” she pleaded.” she said wearily. “Soft like a rustling of willows.” 10 . “Then you better tell me what is going on. I can’t do much. maybe I was? Maybe I deserved it? The other stuff. “that started last year. That will just make things worse. After a few minutes. We haven’t been in years.” “If you are not going to tell. I don’t remember. They just talked to him and put me back here after a few days. you can’t. I just can’t.
no home. spermicidal jelly. no father. Luis tried the first drawer but found it locked. She inhaled then slowly let her breath out. reaching under the bed to produce a key. He picked these up one by one. sash cord. Luis noticed her gasping for breath in between sobs as she tried to control herself. calloused hand to take his shirtsleeve. 11 . caught her as it were. just Luis looking at her. She then pulled him towards the side gate. She pointed to the dresser and swallowed. Reaching forward she reached past Luis’ large. She no longer was alone with her shame. There in the pool house was a rumpled daybed and a small chest of four drawers.” she said. and no school. She felt after a while that there were only his eyes. and now the secret was out. his dark eyes met hers and wouldn’t look away or let her look away. turning them over in his hand before showing them to the girl. She hadn’t wanted anyone to know her secret.Page 11 She began to cry again while struggling not to. Luis unlocked the first drawer to reveal handcuffs. yet he had seen her.” she said. When she stopped. I’ll show you. It was an old dresser with a skeleton keyhole. There were other implements about whose function he had no knowledge. In a bizarre way. He knew he could open it with his knife if necessary. She winced but looked him at him steadily and nodded affirmatively. He shot the girl a questioning look? “Here. “What else does he do to you?” he asked. and condoms of various make and design. Luis unlocked the other drawers and went through their contents. “Come. There he found women’s underclothes. it was a relief for her.
One drawer held several negligees of a type Luis had seen in a neighboring city’s mall the year before. and he had to work it out gently by the drawer pulls so as not to tear the face from the side rails. and some leather shorts and tops. 12 . and when she said she just wanted to get out. all metal alloy but still of considerable weight. He sat on the edge of the daybed without saying anything for a while. “She’s gone. “I don’t understand how this could happen. She showed him her wrists as tears flowed unchecked from her eyes. he’d hunt her down. She’s not ever coming back. you know. just threw them on the floor. he beat her up and told her that if she ever said anything. Inside were manacles and chain.” “She just left then?” “No.” “Did he do anything else?” asked Luis. He broke a lot of her things. He turned to look at her and lifted up one manacle for her view. he threw all her clothes in a pile by the back porch. He threatened her when she caught him one day. yet the question moved her to anger and her anger to words. like her cups and china and pictures. He said that what he did to her wouldn’t be anything compared to what would happen if she told anyone. The bottom drawer was heavier than the others. He busted a lot of stuff up. then put the drawers’ contents back and locked each drawer with the key.Page 12 panties of red and black lace. giving voice to her feelings for the first time. surprised by what he had heard. Where was your mother during all this?” She didn’t want to say more or reveal more in her shame.
There were lipsticks and makeup and eyeliner. They went upstairs and talked after that so I don’t know what went on. and she’d say. Noting the garish colors. He felt as if he were about to explode. ‘You’re Daddy’s little girl so you probably don’t care how mean he is to me?’ and stuff like that. and handed the key back to the girl before turning to walk out in the sunlight. That’s not what I’m concerned about.” Luis noticed that he had forgotten to put away some items he’d set on the dresser’s top. Now I don’t. I don’t have any feelings for her at all. he shuddered at their intended effect on the girl’s adolescent face and lips. He promised he’d never do that again. What drawer did they come from? He wondered. He needed some fresh air and could feel heat from within him rising to his face. Right now I’m worried about you.” “Do you hate her for leaving?” he asked. I think she knew even before she caught us. “She could have stopped it if she wanted. She used to get really angry with me. 13 .” she sneered. “But she believed him. He turned to look at her again. maybe you don’t and maybe you do. A little while later he came down and helped her pack her things in the car.” “Well. Fat chance.Page 13 “Then he got nice to her and apologized. He always does that after he gets mad. He was acting real nice toward her and me. He placed them into a drawer with the negligees. She was leaving anyway. But I did care. The girl followed him as he walked to the front of the house and watched him load his equipment into the back of his truck. locked the dresser drawer. She had been packing stuff in her car for a couple of weeks and taking it somewhere. that’s for sure. She wasn’t taking me with her.
” 14 . Stacey. “My name is Stacey. Promise me that you’ll do it Monday for sure?” “I promise.Page 14 “You need to tell one of your teachers or a counselor at school right away. Luis just cut down a tree for us. You can’t wait.” “I like you. but through clenched teeth.” “I know. He could feel emotions raging within him and knew he had to leave quickly. “Is there some trouble here. He turned to find a postman standing directly behind him. offering a timid smile. Daddy told me your name. that you’ll do it. When you promise someone something you need to know his name.” she said. Luis.” she said.” She continued to look at him.” Luis smiled back. Turning to Luis he glared at him.” “Thank you.” “You don’t look okay?” said the postman. too. and now he’s leaving.” “Then you won’t tell the police?” He knew he wouldn’t be believed. “Maybe you’d better get on your way. Stacey. I’m okay. “If you promise to tell a counselor at school on Monday without fail. Stacey. “I like you.” “It’s nice to make your acquaintance. Luis noticed that she was looking over his shoulder as she spoke. “I want you to promise me that you’ll do it Monday morning before school begins. Stacey?” “No. “Just promise me. besides he knew enough about the way this community worked realize that he didn’t want his name connected to anything that had gone on in the pool house.” He paused. Monday for sure. My name is Luis.
He checked his mirrors and pulled out with his load of leaves and branches. and gave a shiver.Page 15 Luis slid onto the bench seat and cranked the engine. 15 . It caught immediately. He shook his head at what had started out as a pleasant day. White folks. he thought.
Don’t push it too far. Close to closing time. Luis. He knew almost everyone in town and was accorded a fair amount of respect. with twelve patrol officers under him. Luis kept to himself and. He logged his last call. Until seven years ago. Down on the highway Blake Kudrow was watching Luis’ truck career down the freeway on-ramp. Currently he was deluged with paperwork. Kudrow knew he could stop that old truck anytime and write enough fix-it tickets to keep the clerk at Sommersville City Hall busy for hours. meetings. “You got a free ride this time. reported to dispatch. but there was no point in doing that. and then swung the cruiser in a tight U-turn to head back to town. thought Kudrow. Luis would just get in the gates if he didn’t slow down. in his own way. He wondered when Luis would remember to cover the load as regulations required? He looked at his watch. and what he called “super agency” stuff.Page 16 CHAPTER 2 At the Hacienda. he had been a constable. or so the City Manager and 16 . Rapid growth had changed all that. If there was a county committee that met on anything of general interest. Kudrow was now the chief of Sommersville. performed a valuable service for the townspeople. Off to the refuse dump to recycle cuttings into compost.” said Kudrow to no one in particular. Most of his calls in the previous period had been a real service in some way. Kudrow liked it better the old way despite the increase in salary. Momma was eyeing one of Luis’ pullets while also considering what to make for supper. it was his duty as a stakeholder to attend.
” The woman replied that the streets weren’t safe enough for children to walk four blocks like they used to do and went on to remind the chief that he was an elected official that needed to attend to citizen’s concerns promptly. “Ma’m. but you’ll have to personally sign the complaint. it’s probably just a friend visiting one of your good neighbors?” The caller hung up gasping. It was better to take a drive in the country and get away from some of this craziness. Probably late for a tennis lesson and can’t get her car out of the driveway. why don’t you just walk on down and get your kids. Last week some asshole had parked his or her Mercedes in some other asshole’s driveway so that the second asshole couldn’t get her Lexus out to pick up her kids at school. There was a 17 . If that car is still there. “Another major crime averted. he was assaulted with trivia. we’ll ticket it and have it towed. It was a lot of hooey and too many lunches with people he had grown to detest. “The school is four blocks away and the kids can’t walk?” he wondered. Worse than the endless meetings.” answered Kudrow. “If both your legs aren’t broken.Page 17 Town Council had reminded him many times. Kudrow wondered how long she’d sit in her living room before she walked down to get her own kids.” snarled Kudrow as he slid his hand toward the dash-mounted microphone and told his dispatcher that he’d be checking out a situation up on Crane Canyon Rd.” he explained. “Perhaps we can have someone come by shortly. “but you’ll have to find another way to get your children. I’ll have one of my patrolmen swing on by in a bit. He drove by the address himself less than three minutes later to find the Mercedes gone and the driveway empty.
She wanted it to stop. He saw himself holding Richards under water in a river much as he had done to the other man. and they fought. These idiots want it all right now. then Luis remembered the backyard pool. that he drove right by the entrance to the refuse collection point. The man gasped and inhaled water while Luis held him. Everything is about them. Luis twisted the man’s head with his hands. Luis found trying to choke the man didn’t work well. Kudrow hit the window buttons and let the air rush over him as he drove to where some of the old-time ranchers still lived. The man had jumped him late one afternoon. An accidental drowning? He thought of Stacey’s pain. permanently. He’d have to be careful. still a few years ahead. he just hadn’t decided how he would do it. He thought seriously of his retirement. Luis for his part was so focused on what he’d seen and what Stacey had told him. letting his weight force them both down into the flow. He knew his 18 . It was going to stop. The man’s eyes were still looking at him when they ceased to blink. he reflected. He remembered an incident years ago in Texas in the Rio Grande River. like when a Black Angus broke out onto the road at night or some of the boys were getting drunk and out of control at the Midway on Saturday evening. He thought of her courage in telling him. probably to rob him. In the midst of a fight. tumbling into the river. disorienting him but leaving his mouth and throat unobstructed. He didn’t think Richards was particularly strong. The man just held his breath. when a call meant something. He made a U-turn and tried it again. Luis was almost joyful as he unloaded his truck. He had already decided Anton Richards must be stopped.Page 18 time. he simply wrapped his legs around another man.
He looked for his youngest and newest officer. and he wanted him to know what was happening to him in his last moments. Luis was a wealthy man by town standards. enough for the old folks. but it had worked so well that Luis let it continue as he banked the rewards of his honest labor in a town a few miles to the north of Sommersville. who was supposed to be on bicycle patrol writing parking violations. hold on. His feigned deafness had been a temporary measure at first.” Luis said. little oases of pleasure where his own voice confirmed his thoughts before he retreated to the role of third-class. Police Chief Blake Kudrow was a formidable figure behind the wheel. He didn’t want to snap Richards’ neck. He wanted Richards to die more slowly. even happy. He gave Momma enough on which to get by and a little more besides.Page 19 strength and how his anger could get away from him.” grumbled 19 . but his lifestyle and habits had been fixed many years ago and now were like a comfortable coat into which he easily slipped. Luis felt normal again. enough to take care of his sister. “Hold on Stacey. The police cruiser was just rounding a corner to turn onto Main Street on its return from Crane Canyon when Luis entered the ice cream store. The folks on his egg route had no idea that Luis could buy several of them out at once from the profits from this and his woodcutting business if he so chose. Having concluded his business and having put all pertinent matters to rest. gypsy moron. “Town gets the revenue and we do the work. He’d go back to town for an ice cream and then head home to clean his old ‘Husky 42’ and oil it up so it would be ready for his next job. enough to pay the taxes and utilities on the Hacienda. He liked these moments of talking aloud.
To be sure. “when we all did that. and insurance. and he had time for other duties. It wouldn’t cover salary increases unless Kudrow personally negotiated them with the penny-pinching slate of officials that had brought new politics to Sommersville. down his throat. he thought.Page 20 Kudrow. The Council funded the young officer’s salary. who was supposed to be doing meter duty on his bicycle. Customers entering and exiting gave him a wide berth. Kudrow spied Luis sitting on the sidewalk in front of the ice cream store. like many other projects. Most of the old-timers parked in the alleys or side streets as they had for fifty years. The meters angered most of the regular shoppers while some businesses thought it hurt shopping and drove customers to one of the newer Malls in the next city. looking for all the world like a composite of America’s Worst Dressed Men. When he still couldn’t find Officer Penbroke. We’ll let things run their course. Warnings were to be politely given first. retirement. but the stipend didn’t cover driven costs for health care. “Mother of God. “better get him out of there before the phone starts ringing. cone in hand. Was a time. he turned the cruiser back toward the city square. Because the young man was related to an elected official. The newly constituted Town Council shoved the meters.” said Kudrow. sat in the awning’s shade and licked an ice cream 20 . it would be politically difficult to get rid of him. slowly licking a double-decked chocolate banana-fudge nut. Kudrow had given explicit orders to all of his patrolmen stating that no tickets were to be given for parking in red or yellow zones unless there were unusual circumstances.” he thought. His legs were extended and his back placed against the store’s brick front.
have a good day Luis. albeit sparsely. I’m still the chief in 21 . Luis. “There you go. Chief Kudrow. It doesn’t look so great you sitting here all spread out on the sidewalk.” “Hey.” responded Luis with a ready smile. which was really a small park. “You writin’ me up.” He dated it and handed it to Luis. “Doin’ Okay. Luis looked back at the chief and raised his eyebrows. Why don’t you move across the street into our town square and sit in the shade under one of those beautiful Elms?” Luis looked across the street to the square.Page 21 on a nice afternoon – no parking meters and we still had hitching racks in some places – times change. Kudrow really didn’t expect an answer. Anyone hassles you. Luis. show him or her that piece of paper. This says you can sit there until the cows come if you want to. It held walks and benches and a kid’s playground that was filled with young mothers and their children. but he had talked with Luis enough times over minor infractions to know the man could converse intelligently. “You?” “Fine. just fine thanks. Mr. put a line through violation. Chief?” Kudrow whipped out his ticket book. “Don’t look like I’d be much welcome there. how you doing today?” Kudrow called as he slid off his seat and approached him. Chief?” Kudrow just grinned and read aloud to Luis that which he had written: “Luis is authorized to sit in the park whenever he chooses to do so – signed Chief of Police Blake Kudrow. A few groups of teenagers were hanging around in various spots. and began writing.
Decent guys who made their stake and after a few months went home to Mexico and their families.” He neither liked nor disliked the chief. Nevertheless.” thought Luis. too. Go on now. Two had stayed over at the Hacienda for several days.” He’d hired a number of men as casual laborers over the last few years on jobs where another strong back was necessary. “I don’t care for some of them myself. and there would be no question which one Luis would pick as a straight shooter.” 22 . A few even had work visas. “Hell. we’re not so far apart on some things. The chief didn’t care much for people of color that came through town. without complaint. enjoy your ice cream just like any other citizen. Sir. He’d had good luck on client referrals for seasonal help that had come up from Mexico. Luis noticed. Chief.Page 22 this town even if the Town Council thinks otherwise.” said Luis as he took the slip and ambled across the street. He was a bit condescending at times. but he was that way with others. Kudrow had never given him any trouble.” he thought. and never argued about the conditions or the pay. “Okay.” “Thank you Chief Kudrow. Most of the people he’d found at the Laborers’ Hiring Hall and all of the men he’d picked from those that hung around the railroad yard were worthless. He’d hired three men from Michocan that worked tirelessly. He liked them a lot and afterward took them home so Momma could feed them Paella. “Why not stay. “So the chief is having trouble with the yahoos on the Town Council. Put him in a row with the bunch that was running the city. He was tempted to get into his truck parked behind the store and drive off but didn’t want to insult the chief.
she inherited the Hacienda in California.Page 23 He finished his ice cream and closed his eyes. such as when an Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms agent without warning busted through the door of the little clapboard shack he and Momma and his sister had shared in Texas. That was seventeen years ago. When the agent burst unannounced through the door in the dark. and Dina were well on their way to Nogales before the sun rose where they hid with one of Momma’s sisters. He saw the face of the man he had drowned in the Rio Grande. he cautiously took the safety off his shotgun. which came unpleasantly when he was very tired. she and Luis and Dina moved back across the border at night. There were other times. 23 . Esmeralda. full flowered skirt and white peasant blouse. Tio Jorge with them. but she was a young Mexican girl in a long. or she was a Cajun girl with earrings like Momma wore while she danced to the fiddle and concertina around and around. other dreams. Luis had heard stirring outside the door behind which he slept. taking Luis’ Tia Esmeralda and her husband. Figuring someone was coming to steal his cash or some bootleg liquor he’d been selling. He was back in Mexico and alternately in the United States as images seemed to come and go and time was not consequential. Momma. Luis dropped him with two 00 slugs from a Stevens12 gauge double-barreled shotgun that he kept near his bed. He saw Stacey’s face several times. Being citizens. When Momma’s brother died the year after that. He. The events of the day still disturbed him as he fell into a fitful sleep.
His mind registered the sensation. but a kid with a nasty streak.” he sneered. As Luis rose to his feet. nerves complaining. Luis was instantly awake now and sat suddenly upright to see a young man about seventeen deliberately kicking the bottom of his work boot. not such a bully. He could feel himself gearing up and didn’t want to lose control. He rolled over and felt a pain in his foot. Slowly he moved his hands up. Had the boy been less sure of himself. but Luis was not one to leave a punch unanswered. standing half a head taller. “Who says you can lay around this park like a bum you worthless piece of shit?” “What?” asked Luis. or cautious and alert. “Get your sorry ass outa’ here before I have to hurt you. He knew it wasn’t worth taking the boy on. Only a kid feeling his oats thought Luis. got to move a little. never taking his eyes off the young man. He held it out to the boy. The young man stepped even closer than before and shoved Luis with both hands. He awoke sluggishly to feel his foot twitching.Page 24 The day was still warm and the descending sun had found Luis’ face as he slept. He might have noticed Luis’ cat-like 24 . he would have noticed Luis’ powerful build under his loose clothes. palms outward. shaking his head as if he could make the apparition disappear. Must have worked too hard today. He stepped back to put a little swinging distance between him and the boy. the young man came face to face with him. Luis was energized now as if someone had thrown a switch. as one who picks fights should be. changing his field of vision to take in the boy’s eyes and hands. With calculated slowness he reached into his shirt pocket to produce the paper that the chief had given him. he told himself.
It would be tough on Mama and the others if he had to leave town over something like this. foolish. If the boy swung at him. Chief Kudrow flew from Luis’ right like a runaway locomotive on the Truckee Grade. knocking the tall boy who had pushed Luis onto the nearby grass. Luis cautiously stepped back. He should have watched Luis’ dark unwavering eyes as they tracked his movements and noted the lack of fear or alarm in his intended victim or the slight pulling back of Luis’ ears. As it were. He read the note and responded. Having made up his mind. He hoped it wouldn’t be too bad and hoped he could restrain himself when things turned really ugly.Page 25 movements as he rose then stepped backwards. and ignorant about the things in life that could bring him to sudden and violent death. As the boy swung and Luis stepped back. Luis had decided not to remain there and confront the young man with one exception. Okay. that changes things. Before the boy could reflect on what had happened. Bigger than their friend who had accosted Luis but not as tall. Kudrow had planted his two hundred thirty-five pounds of muscle and bulk directly onto the boy’s back and held his neck to the ground with his black 25 . the boy was young. Suddenly. I guess some folks are going to get hurt here. so hard the boy would think he was going to die. Luis decided that he would hit him very hard in the gut. they stood about three feet to his rear on either side. “Chief Kudrow? Fuck do I care about that?” He tore the slip of paper into little pieces that fluttered to the ground from his hands like lawn moths. thought Luis. two more boys who had approached unheard from behind him shoved him forward. He had no illusions as to how everyone else would see the incident.
You must not know who my father is?” Kudrow smiled as he placed handcuffs on the boy and jerked him to his feet.Page 26 baton. Anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law. son? You just assaulted a citizen of this city and county and deliberately littered a public park.” pleaded one of the boys who had stood behind Luis and pushed him. “What do you think you’re doing. You prepared for that?” Shock on the young man’s twisted face was soon replaced by anger. That’s how it happened.” 26 . “It means I’m placing the three of you under arrest for assault. and then turned back to the first boy. I wasn’t doing nothing. If you cannot afford an attorney. Physical assault carries a one-year sentence in County and littering will cost you three hundred dollars. “Is that your official explanation?” asked the chief. “Do you want to waive your rights and talk to me about this?” asked Kudrow. “Yeah. they’ll tell you. one will be provided for you. Just ask my friends here. to have an attorney or parent present during questioning. He cuffed the other two boys together with his second pair.” “But that’s not what happened. “You have the right to remain silent. Do you understand these rights as I have explained them to you?” “What does this mean?” asked the taller boy. “Maybe you’d like to tell me what was going on here?” The taller boy quickly concocted a scenario wherein Luis had confronted him and made remarks about the boy’s family. that’s it. “You let me up.
I saw the kicking and the pushing.Page 27 Kudrow turned to the other two. Chief.” “That’s fine. “Just paper he shoved in my face so I tore it up. “Do you have anything to add to that or change in the account you just heard?” They didn’t. More importantly.” “I don’t want to hear what you have to say now. saw you read my note. As for your father. I’m a wide receiver and these two guys play tackle. we can add littering.” said Kudrow.” The tall boy was downcast as were his two friends. Takes a lot of guts to do that three on one. we still are. and the chief duly noted their agreement and had them sign statements before taking a statement from Luis. Then I’m going to take you three over to the police station where you will be transported to the Juvenile Detention Center.” 27 . I’d like to tell you what really happened. besides lying to a police officer in the conduct of an investigation and the other charge of assault. I already know who he is. I know who you are and what you are. “We really didn’t mean anything. someone you mistook for a vagrant or just someone you didn’t like. Weren’t you guys on the football team?” “Yeah. You’re someone who’ll assault a sleeping man.” “You didn’t read it or he didn’t explain what that paper said?” Kudrow barked. “How do you explain the paper?” he asked. I know what really happened. “No. too. I saw the whole incident from the beginning.
this was a scheduled school function.” “Seems to me you were still under school authority from the time you left until the time you normally would have reached your homes. Chief. We all do. Moreover. and the coach didn’t want us to get stale.” 28 . I’ll tell them whom your father is if you like. it was just an afternoon scrimmage because we had a bye this week. part of the regular school activity schedule. I live in Ravenswood. Sir.” “Suspended? We’re on our own time Chief. Let’s take a walk to the car boys. he then turned back to the boys.” “Really? What time was practice over?” “About four-thirty. yes.Page 28 “No I think you were on the football team.” said Luis. “You saved me a lot of trouble. “Move it.” “And what time would you normally get home if you were walking there directly?” “About five-thirty to five forty-five maybe after we showered up and put our stuff away. who smiled at him and nodded. Thanks. Oh. You can’t be arrested and suspended from school and stay on the team. That means you were involved in an offense for which you could be suspended under the State Education Code and also in violation of school policies governing behavior of athletes on and off the field.” He turned to look at Luis. I will be sure and let the Principal and your Coach know immediately. We were just walking home from a Saturday practice.” “You all right.
Momma took note of his preoccupation (she always did) but made no comment. He headed for home to collect a few more eggs for his delivery tomorrow. Luis was a little surprised that the chief had been watching him the entire time? Well. Luis would have to be more than careful about getting rid of Anton Richards with Chief Kudrow around. They may not know how much. and pieces of Luis’ young pullet. “I think I saved them from a lot of trouble. and how he had come back to Luis with his comment that it was the boys who had been lucky. and spices. Momma’s supper was a delight. this she had rolled in cayenne. Louisiana style jambalaya with rice. He liked the routine into which he had settled. Luis was preoccupied with the events of the day and didn’t ask for another helping. Despite the symphony of flavors and Momma’s smiles. Luis. and partially fried to a nut-brown tone before adding it to the mix of rice. but I do. seafood.Page 29 Kudrow looked back at Luis. He was thinking of how quickly Chief Kudrow had sized up the situation with the boys. how tough he had been with them. It had been the way of men folk in her family to be brooding and distant at times.” He walked the boys to the car as Luis turned toward where he’d parked his truck. this time with a wry grin. spices. Why should Luis be any different? At least he didn’t ask how she had come by the succulent chicken. shrimps. floured. Luis was grateful that his life hadn’t suddenly come unraveled. 29 .
Second. He already knew the 30 . there would come pleas that these were just boys pulling a prank that got out of control. usually after they had explored alternatives and talked to lawyers. The victims’ parents would fire a final round. there would come an appeal to his fairness. He knew what would happen before he began the calls. Like the last sentence in a letter of complaint. usually a mother. First.Page 30 CHAPTER 3 Kudrow was soon on the phone to parents of the three boys. He would counter this with his eyewitness commentary that in almost thirty years he had not seen such a malicious provocation of an innocent man (and in this case a sleeping man). usually from a father unless he was dealing with a single parent family – more and more of those lately. Certainly he could reduce the charges in some way? He would explain that this was not the end of the world and that the boys would probably be charged and released that same day with a hearing scheduled later that month before juvenile authorities. There would be the initial contact with one parent. Better they learn a lesson while still juveniles. it would be wrong to let this one incident disrupt the boys’ lives. their lives would be ruined. Kudrow smiled. Kudrow had watched these young men getting progressively out of control over the summer and knew a day of reckoning was coming. but their parents likely deserved it more as it were their indulgences which had brought these young men to this juncture. followed by a call back in an hour or so. It was not possible to change any element of the arrest at this point. they wouldn’t get into college. they’d fall behind at school. The arguments seldom differed measurably. it often spoke to their values. They richly deserved the treatment he had administered.
Bernice. given your attitude. She looked at his calendar as he got his jacket on and said not a word. he’d hear. and your questioning of these boys without a parent present. Moreover. “They’ll miss the big game with Eastridge. have a heart here?” When that availed them nothing. The team would certainly lose the conference title? Come on. Chief Kudrow. I’m going to make sure everyone knows who and what you really are.” Kudrow wondered if they all went to the same school somewhere to be coached in these tactics. a place where one’s head was filled with vermiculite that caused one to be confused when people told blond jokes. Chief. I’m going to contest this and have it expunged. “All right. your physical assault on my son.Page 31 salvo being prepared would deal with the boys’ place on a football team that had championship hopes. you were a boy once. Chief. knew the sources of pressure that had been irritating the chief. his office manager. It’s important that the Chief of Police of this town be tough but also a human being who can discern the difference between the acts of hardened criminals and the indiscretions of youths. It could all 31 . where one left his or her civic sense and values behind and picked up New Age fluff. “To hell with you all. You’ll hear from my attorney. you play hardball on this and so will we. He next told his secretary to receive and log calls but not disturb him unless resurrection day came before his Saturday night football game was over. I question your reckless handling of what was a minor incident. He had bigger problems than crybaby parents to deal with.” he said. Maybe there was someplace in the Colorado Rockies where everyone was tanned and blond.
A typical day began with. “The manpower and focus of my office will not waste time trying to prevent crime in areas where it seldom or never occurs. In twelve years she’d seen Chief Kudrow change from a tough but caring officer who liked to joke and laugh to become a harried public servant of serious mien. or official actions. minutes. arrest those who break the law and we will 32 . but she framed these thoughts with words completely out of place with her fundamental Christian upbringing. Ms Streeter-Thompkins is on line one again. the general tone was consistent. Can I give her the flip charts that listed discussion items?” She wondered why so many of these nuisances had hyphenated last names? The chief. had diffused some of the pressures on his office and on himself (some of which he had caused by his candor) by forming community teams to discuss items and organize and pursue grants. Although the names changed. Everyday she opened the office to a plethora of problems. She was a decent person and had her own views of the new citizenry of Sommersville. Fighting with noveaurich suburbanites had taken much of the fun out of his job and also out hers. She wants to know what you are going to do about traffic on Santa Florita and Hillside Avenues during rush hours? Mrs. I didn’t take minutes.Page 32 wait until tomorrow. Things had begun to fall apart politically when the chief in answer to an antagonist’s barb in a public meeting had said. Pelthrow-Swearingen is on line two and wants the minutes of the last PoliceCommunity Action Meeting. I don’t have any idea what it is she’s after? That was just an informal meeting for sharing of ideas – no agenda. instead. “Chief. at the suggestion of the County Counsel. We will.
” thought Bernice. and bicyclists. they never ceased to surprise her with what they brought up. Most never told you outright what they wanted. Groups that seldom spoke to each other got together to attack the chief in concert. but once in the chief’s 33 . school abduction.Page 33 enforce all the laws now on the books. Once in the door.” Sommersville was a city with a few wanabees but no gangs. The dogs-on-a-leash people who had been fighting with bicyclists’ use of parks for several years put aside their differences to demand that the police department do preventive work to make the Thursday Night Market safer for pedestrians. Bernice had grown weary from handling their phone calls. One strange liaison saw the anti-gang people joining hands with those who didn’t want police on school campuses to campaign for measures to prevent child abduction. One group of touring Cambodian and Vietnamese athletes and cheerleaders from Stockton had arrived at Sommersville High School to put on a self-esteem workshop one day last fall and drove twice around the campus while looking for a place to park. The next morning there were four separate groups of parents demanding a meeting with the chief to discuss the presence of Asian gangs. people with dogs. “in a community that hadn’t had a serious crime. Many calls were just a pretense to make an appointment with the chief to discuss something vital to community safety. “All this.” Many protests followed. That’s what we do. She wasn’t sure whether the chief was similarly duped. or a bicycle-pedestrian accident of note in five years. Bernice still couldn’t figure out how that came together.
He referred to this as The Great Grant Lottery. Bear had come up from Taos six years earlier as a patrol officer and quickly became invaluable. She wondered if in their dictionaries values and venom had the same roots. This always seemed to occur after people had become comfortable with a new level of service. The odds were pretty slim that anything would actually come of their efforts and. cleverness. meantime. Pembroke.Page 34 office. under one of the grant programs and was now stuck with 34 . This he handed off to his most trusted officer. To his credit. The result was predictable. Sergeant Bear. and the chief. they usually revealed their hidden agendas. Much to his surprise. The city refused to help out. He wanted desperately to keep the young man. were forced to panhandle among various civic groups to continue services that Kudrow could no longer fund. or perseverance of the participants. they were often successful due to the luck. knowing that Bear could have made sergeant in any big city department several years sooner than he had in Sommersville and be well on his way to a captain’s position. It looked as if the department was backing out on its commitments. grants run out. The grants always included police participation. but there was no way with his department’s budget to sustain that level once grant funding was removed. Kudrow had promoted him after fierce arguments with the city manager over salary issues. Bear. the big Indian now ran a good part of the department. He had hired an officer. Kudrow had funneled some of their demands into action committees that sought out grants. he was out of the loop. Problem was that even with Bear running the grants. With the chief’s blessing.
Tooney.Please excuse – Anton Richards. “Hi Stace. but she returned with a note that read. Stacey stayed home on Monday because the marks on her wrists still showed. inefficient. Bernice thought he was cute.” Kudrow thought. ineptitude. He couldn’t see how he was going to get the money to continue his position next year. right?” 35 . He suspected that he had hired poorly and yielded to political pressure. young. Tonya. when she met one of her best friends. He hadn’t earned any commendations either. Kudrow had no such illusions and planned to cut him when politically expedient. Kudrow unkindly referred to him in private as Officer Fuzznuts. Penbroke. So we’ll see you there. Thank God there is no real crime to deal with in this town.” She had no idea how wrong she was about to be. ‘Flu. “poor Chief Kudrow with all his problems. Mrs. hadn’t given him cause for dismissal or reprimand.’ Her promise to Luis was still fresh in her memory as she walked toward the counseling office to pick up a request slip for her counselor. what’s happening? Where were you yesterday? Oh you’re coming with Juneal and me to the rally today.Page 35 him. and it irked him. right? Right after second period? We’re all going to sit together and yell our F’n heads off when Maria gives her speech for treasurer. “Oh well. but pleasant and hoped he’d grow into fine young policeman.” thought Bernice. “It would help to have some additional slackness. or unsuitability upon which to base his decision and let the young officer go.
“I’ve got to get to counseling. Stace. remember? So who’d you promise?” Stacey looked at her friend who still held her hand. Stace. I can do it later. Already the conversation with Luis seemed less distinct. Let’s go ‘cuz it’s almost first period. okay?” “Yeah. you’ll see. This guy’s such a hunk. I met him at the roller rink on Saturday. that’s all. and his locker’s near the shop area. Come on will you? He’s hot. I met this guy on the weekend. she told two of her friends about the really nice black man she’d met that weekend. instead focusing her attention on which boy she’d ask to the Girls’ Choice All-School Dance on Friday afternoon. What’s the problem?” “I promised someone that I would go to see my counselor this morning.Page 36 Stacey nodded her approval and then looked toward the door of the counseling office. By noon. He’s not going with anyone either. He’s dreamy.” “Oh come on. Even more exciting. Stace. Tonya.” Stacey couldn’t resist her friend’s enthusiasm. let’s go. She wavered as Tonya grabbed her hand and began to pull her away toward the shop area. By Wednesday she’d temporarily forgotten her promise. “Just someone. We’ll just act normal and walk by like we don’t see him.” “You promised me you’d meet me at the snack bar this morning and you didn’t. her father would be working late on Friday so she knew she could call her friends and talk 36 . In the company of her friends she seldom thought about her problem. Come on with me.
Luis. It had been years since Luis done anything bad. She had plucked Luis and his sister from certain placement at an orphanage by claiming to be related after a fire that ravaged their trailer home. The merchants bribed her with little gifts and specials to move her along. most of them would cross to the other side in hopes she didn’t see them. Spotting her on the street. Merchants came to treat her with courtesy and respect just so they could quickly move her out of the store so as not to upset other customers. indignation. 37 . indistinguishable in her ebullience from thirteen hundred other junior high youngsters as she scrambled from class to class. Calderon. She was once again her old self.Page 37 for long hours without being caught. Momma. She used her sharp tongue and dark looks to feign anger. but before each episode had come the same moodiness and withdrawal she now saw. nevertheless he continued to use Calderon in deference to Momma. she caught others off-guard with her pithy remarks and made them worry. however. and talked incessantly. or disdain. pushed through crowded hallways. ate junk food. She had mothered them through their childhood and helped Luis through some serious situations. knew something was afoot. surprise. had not forgotten Stacey or what he saw in the pool house. Ten minutes in the produce aisle could turn a profitable Saturday into a fire drill. but not legally. She had changed Luis’ name and that of his sister from Torres to her own. who was finely attuned to his moods. Momma was worried and Momma didn’t worry often. customers fleeing in all directions. she recalled. Instead. It was only years later that Luis inadvertently found this out. Anything she returned was accepted without complaint.
she got her shawl that she planned to wear to church after she fed the others and hung it near the door. Tuesday. don’t you go makin’ no trouble for these old bones. Luis. and she heaved a big sigh. too.” 38 . He’s my boy.” With that said. Momma watched Luis leave early with his load of eggs. It’ll be bad before it gets good. He’s got dark eyes and a bad look all over him. “Goin’ to be a long week. We can’t be up and movin’ again. “Luis. Lord.Page 38 Today. watch over Luis. You be good. I feel it.
file. Meanwhile at the Police Station. placing one item of interest in the chief’s priority 39 . A large number had ‘cc:’ at the bottom for copies sent to the City Manager. sort. It was like having another boss in the office. At first she was delighted with the new toy and talked about how much time it would save. Wednesday was Bernice’s early shift for the week. Within several months.Page 39 CHAPTER 4 Momma Calderon was pleased to see Tuesday end without incident. and many wanted to meet with the chief. forward. Bernice cursed the fax machine that the chief had surprised her with six years before. it began to spew material non-stop. having mastered computers and cell phones. and sometimes the State Attorney General. many of citizens’ complaints. the second one worked twenty-four hours each day. among other things. Bernice sometimes began her day with deep knee-bends as she stooped to pick them up and resort them. and she mulled over the ‘fax-trash’ as she called it. When she opened up her office in the morning. Beyond that it was pleasant fall day with sunshine and no hint of early November rain. all of which Bernice found she must read. The town’s residents. Town Council. she often saw many faxes spilled onto the floor. Most demanded answers in writing or by fax. or otherwise process. Luis complained about some of his customers while the local merchants suffered anxiety attacks when they saw Momma walking down the street with two bags that probably meant returns. County District Attorney. In the clutter that cascaded from the fax machine were. had no reservations about utilizing their fax machines and computers to inundate city offices.
What did these people want from the poor man? She felt that most of them had too much time on their hands for their own good.. had already garnered thirteen hundred signatures. but she could do no less. Eight weeks before his annual review. She wondered what lies or coercion enticed them to sign. they also wanted a say in the interview and hiring processes. once they went public with their agenda. five preceding his appointment as chief and seven since. She knocked tentatively on Chief Kudrow’s door. They made it clear with gossip that they were after the chief’s job not just reform. and two past Town Council members. something she’d seen little of lately. Bernice was surprised to see the names of some leading citizens.Page 40 box and then began to make some coffee. She’d worked with Blake Kudrow twelve years. 40 . It wasn’t always this difficult. The wording of the petition also demanded an oversight committee to examine and make recommendations on incidents involving the police procedures impacting public safety and the common good of the people. They met secretly until their core leadership reached forty people and. “Whatever the hell that meant?” she questioned. a group of citizens was prepared to ask the Town Council to replace the chief for specified reasons and reopen the position. so she decided that after his coffee she’d tell him about the petition now circulating. Bernice’s morning was thoroughly ruined by the necessity to tell the chief about the petition. church people. but now each week there seemed to be one more nail in the chief’s coffin. The chief appeared to be in a particularly good mood when he arrived.
Bernice. he could think of several sweetheart deals members made with each other at the expense of the good citizens. He was self-conscious about his vice. too.” He laughed to make her feel more at ease then volunteered to make a run to the coffee shop or bakery to bring her back a goodie. “Don’t worry about the petition.Page 41 Blake Kudrow already knew about the petition and knew its authors and their henchmen. He had a few trump cards to play for the Town Council if it came to that and wouldn’t hesitate to play them. instead. and moved it out onto Main Street. He started the big cruiser. “Shit for brains. logged in. She left relieved while Kudrow just shook his head and marveled at the gall these so-called reformers demonstrated. As far as the Town Council went. pressuring them for nonrenewal of his contract. These included zoning and planning violations of their own codes and county codes. This way he could eat as many as he wanted without appearing obvious and deposit the remainder on the desk next to the coffee pot. The petition would not garner enough signatures to qualify for a place on any ballot. I know about this. He put on his jacket and headed out of the office. Bernice was watching her waistline and had turned down the donut. They were always bothering Bernice with this or that and upsetting her. His waistline might have similarly profited. but it was one. but he liked visiting the local bakery to get a dozen in a bag not a box for the office. but it would. He had no supper most days unless he defrosted and microwaved it himself or stopped at his favorite local diner. that should be permitted him since he ate minimally otherwise. along with mismanagement of a fund they collected from the 41 .” is how he described them privately. he argued. be presented to the Council.
if only for a brief moment. The worst part was that he had no one with whom to share his memories and no one with who to ease his pain. Katherine knew it. It was better for both of them he knew. It had been coming a long time and there had been no arguments or hysterics or property fights.Page 42 confiscation and sale of property seized by the police and court. Occasional flings with a woman here or there didn’t count. They were still friends after the shock of disengagement. he would let them know that he knew all about their zoning and planning violations and leak information to the press about their handling of public funds. Cute. which should have long ago returned to the citizens in the form of lowered taxes. no one to who he could confess his doubts and 42 . He’d found no one in whom he could confide. but it was over for good. Remembering things as they were when he was a constable also recalled memories of his wife and made him sad. calling him away much too often. Similarly. the capital was used as security for projects at the end of each fiscal year before a new budget had been okayed. These people ought to be spending time with their wives and kids instead of obscuring budget language and getting into nonsense. as his own marriage had ended abruptly five years earlier. Katherine complained that she had married him while he had married the department. thought Kudrow. If it came to it. too. The interest was always specified in city budgets but was deliberately obscured by complex wording and several transfers to from other holding accounts. The monies were not refunded to the citizens but continued to grow and had produced an astonishing amount of interest over the forty years of the fund’s existence. His police work drove a wedge between them.
One car suddenly caught his attention as it passed. When he pulled one driver over. just like using a dropper fly for lake fishing. and turn into an alley behind the Thrifty 43 . He watched it roll down Second Street. past Industrial Avenue. Being the chief meant he was always in control. He half-hoped they’d all rear-end each other at the next arterial stop. He had often wanted to work in tandem with another couple of officers. Easing the big Chevy into drive. the other the hook.Page 43 insecurities. the others invariably flew by his parked cruiser with its flashing lights at ten to fifteen miles over the posted regulatory limit of thirty-five. and never able to fraternize with his own men in the manner he formally did. This spot was always good for three to five tickets in a half hour and several warnings. enabling traffic to avoid two stoplights and the usual bottleneck at Industrial and Railroad Avenues. Today he headed for the new shortcut that commute traffic had found. Many of them were on cell phones as they sped by. The back license had a current sticker. He still missed day-to-day patrol duties that he had forsaken as he climbed the ladder of administrative responsibility so took every opportunity to see perform routine duties. always setting an example. Being the chief was a lonely existence. no problem there. He told the driver he was about to ticket to slow down a bit and went back to his car. It was hard to say what it was about the ’82 Olds Cutlass that caught his eye. What was there about that hardtop Cutlass? It had faded blue paint run to primer in spots and sported a tattered vinyl roof. one was the lure. he slid into traffic and stayed a block behind the Olds. He didn’t have the manpower. but Kudrow had learned to trust his instincts.
too. only honey and a pinch of salt.Page 44 and 7-11 stores. She watched his eyes and face as he ate. too.” replied Luis. At the end of the short block was a coin-op car wash. chicory coffee. Te Gusto?” “Si Mama. Kudrow pulled into Hardy’s Used Cars and parked in line with a string of cars. he concluded. You got some sausage I can take with me in case I run out of gas?” 44 . “I have made coffee for you. enough to take in your thermos. Kudrow pulled off a block before the alley and came around from the other direction where he could better see the car. the Olds pulled into a wash stall. pulling some cornbread from the oven when he was almost finished. “Gracias. Coffee is good. It’s how you like with no sugar. he removed his field glasses from their case and opened the bag of donuts. Settling into the seat. make. French Market. The Olds had been moving just a bit too slowly for traffic at that hour of the morning. Luis. and model. Momma insisted that Luis eat a good breakfast before he went off to work. The driver got out to open the hood and fiddle with the radiator while his passenger stood nearby. She fed him Louisiana style sausage and eggs that she scrambled with chilies. He punched his radio button and read the dispatcher the license plate. He settled in with a jelly-filled potato donut and kept his eyes on the Cutlass coupe. not looking at the car but staring at the 7-11 store. he might be here for a while. telling her he’d be on traffic watch for a while at this location. At 8:03. You have some now while this cornbread cools. Then I will cut some for you and wrap it up for your lunch later. and green peppers. onion.
porfavor. chickens. I got that old prune orchard to clean up near the new construction site south of town. I’ll be home around five or six after I clean up. Momma. one quart of milk. If you were late. and fresh vegetables from their garden. Momma was proud of it and didn’t like to get it dirty. It was good when Luis teased her about her spicy cooking. no more. arriving home late with his jacket burned and his face and hands sooty. She 45 . and told him that was his hard luck. Momma. She’d keep only what wouldn’t spoil. That night Luis reheated cabbage soup and ate alone in the kitchen. She learned to cook without waste. He seemed at peace. some chicken fat on rare occasions. The refrigerator was not a good source of food. No apologies. Supper was at seven. she did without refrigeration and mostly without electricity. Momma just looked at him.” Momma served at seven sharp whether anyone was at the table or not. pulled her shawl over her. and she cooked just enough to serve her guests.” “Sure. Growing up as a young girl in Spain and then in the moist heat of the rural Deep South. Most of what she cooked was fresh. and not many leftovers. or a compost pile. but there was still something in his demeanor that left her unsure. Luis could usually find a few cubes of butter. no excuses. It wouldn’t have kept hard working Luis alive for even a week.Page 45 Momma smiled.” “Comida al Siete un punto. Luis had stopped one night to help a stranded motorist with a car fire. but she wouldn’t hear of it. Whatever was left went directly to the cats. “You are home for supper?” “Sure. Luis had asked her many times to replace her old gas stove with its smoky wood-burner. you missed whatever was served. That was her rule.
Sitting in the wash stall with two men lounging against the grill. Luis had come to love her tortillas and their unique flavor even as he loved his Tequila and lemon nightcap. about the prune orchard. He would be hard put to explain rationally the other information he gathered in that quick glance. He noticed no brake or signal lights out when he tailed the vehicle. and sneakers without socks. and no shirt nodded at him. And Kudrow saw more. but it’s food on the table and money in the bank. He laughed and sipped something he held in a paper sack. He thought fondly of the meal Momma had made. he thought. “Bye. The second man wore a long. blue-sleeved shirt.Page 46 still cooked using only the wood burner on many occasions. The Olds had not been reported stolen and was currently registered. but he guessed that they had both 46 . black corduroy pants. tied it with string. Sad. It would give him energy all morning and the newspaper would soak up some of the grease from the leftovers. simple pleasures were always enough for him. and placed it under his arm as he strode out the door. and hauling. cleaning. vest. The other man was shorter and compactly muscled. and he loved her deeply. He wondered about its driver and passenger. he made eye contact with both men. As Kudrow slowed momentarily for a better look. hood up. Momma. The one who was lanky with faded jeans.” He had a full day or maybe two brushing. She took good care of him. Kudrow waited until he’d received word on his call-in of the license plates before doing a casual drive by. He now stuffed his cornbread and sausage into an old newspaper. DMV listed it as belonging to a Marvin LaClergue in a city fifteen miles to the south. the car showed no obvious violations.
The shorter one had a face that had seen much. He put down what he already knew about the vehicle on a note for Bear. there was the Olds. perhaps a druggie. he thought. small town crooks. why not? Find out! 47 . parked in front of one of the housekeeping units. Sleaze. Much to his surprise. Something was about to go down here before he’d made them. He doubled back to take up his position at Hardy’s car lot only to find that the Olds and its occupants were no longer there. and drifters flashed the message board in his mind. Felony or petty theft he wondered? Perhaps they were about to take down the 7-11 store? Kudrow sped up as if he was satisfied with his look and drove as if he was doing normal traffic surveillance. Later Wednesday. He hastily jotted a note to Sergeant Bear. The tall one looked less resolute. probably back on the freeway by now.Page 47 been in jail before. with its tattered top. Druggies. Underneath he wrote and underlined check to see if either is Marvin LaClergue? If not. to keep an eye on the pair. he passed the Village Motel on North Winslow. as Kudrow was preparing to wind up his day after a meeting with the Planning Commission over proposed zoning changes. who would follow him on duty tonight. hard time he guessed.
but he had no clues as to her whereabouts. Anton Richards was barely able to control his anger. it knew he had to act quickly. but Bear expressed genuine concern. he made a few calls to friends as darkness had already settled in. A deeper nervousness suddenly began to permeate his consciousness. It knew remorse that he felt at odd times during the day.” he muttered. his perfect little girl. what if she had told someone? What then? After two hours of rising tension. It knew his frustration over losing his wife and his inability to control the angry beast that raged inside him when alone with Stacey. Panic gripped Richards along with emotions that ranged from concern to anger to anguish. Stacey was his little girl. but perhaps she had run away and had told someone or soon would? Part of him knew his sickness as surely as it knew the rest of his sins. he called the local police department and reported her overdue. quickly grabbing some paper grocery bags in which to place items. Upon his return home after work. He ran to the pool house to rid it of objects that might turn up in a search of the premises. tender times they’d spent as a family before his problem had gotten out of hand.Page 48 CHAPTER 5 When Stacey failed to answer his call to home on Wednesday evening. uncertainty. “ She has orders never to stay out late without my permission. Moreover. and concern. Bear explained to him that it was not uncommon for a teenager to be late. About fifteen minutes later he received a call back from Sergeant Bear. Still another part of his mind was cunning and resourceful. It was not his compulsive sense 48 . reflection recalled the calm. He was only a few miles away and said he’d drop by in a few minutes.
and observant. condoms. Bear was intelligent. The chief’s occasional bluster was usually more for effect than real. He didn’t bother trying to pick up items one at a time but pulled the dresser drawers out and poured the small items into the last bag. he’d deny it vehemently. perplexing incidents. Would he open the pool house? “Certainly. he was easy to talk with man-to-man. The man. After one quick check. Things had changed. If Stacey had told the authorities about him. folksy manner was disarming to most. evasions. He had an uncanny way of finding the truth in the midst of lies. This wasn’t about Stacey anymore. I’ll be in the house making some coffee.” He now rushed from the pool house and through the yard to enter through the back porch just as the bell at the front door chimed. missed nothing. Look around all you like.Page 49 of order and cleanliness that led him to empty the dresser drawers but rather his survival instincts. Better still. There was a lot he could learn from the old country boy. Into the other he put the negligees. it was about him. Bear understood this while most others didn’t. The chief. panties. my pleasure. He threw the chains into a sack that said Tire Chains and stuffed some of the other items of his perversion into one paper bag. He quickly stuffed the grocery sacks into a hall closet and briskly walked to open the door and greet Officer Bear. The chief’s memo on the two drifters was still taped to Bear’s dash when the call came announcing the disappearance of Stacey Richards. and make up. well trained. was a wolf in sheep’s clothing and his offhand. and minor details. mused Bear. He liked working for the chief. One 49 . however. Officer. he again locked the drawers and placed the key back under the bed.
He swung the police car sharply and headed up the steep road to the chief’s ranch after first calling on his cellular phone to let the chief know he was coming. Sam?” “Well. but I can see fear in his eyes. Hope it’s just you. junior high kid. Bear?” asked Kudrow. “What’s up. Chief. I don’t know what. Chances are she’s at a friends somewhere. “Come on over. “What’s up. and there’s no mother in the home. I made a call this evening about a child that never made it home today. I’ll have some coffee made since one of us has to be up all night. It was on this account Bear decided to disturb the chief at home.Page 50 could say whatever was on one’s mind. child is Stacey Richards. No problem. The chief understood this was all part of problem solving. Routine kind of thing. float ideas and hypotheses aloud to see how they sounded without feeling embarrassed or foolish. That okay?” Kudrow understood immediately that this was something that Sergeant Bear didn’t want to talk about on the air. Anton Richards.” “So what’s bothering you?” “Chief. Got to visit in private with you on something. Kudrow looked up from his coffee. Like a tell in a card 50 . this guy. the chief’s preferred room for socializing. “Sorry to bother you. After they’d made themselves comfortable in the ranch home’s kitchen.” the chief laughed before hanging up. is lying to me and he’s hiding something. Father is Anton Richards. Kid doesn’t come home and dad panics and calls us.
Page 51 game. but mostly I wanted to run it by you. “I don’t want this to sound really stupid. He motioned Bear to pick up the portable phone and listen in. I was before I even knocked on the door. and began asking questions about Stacey Richards. but I got a bad feeling about this one. and the conversation that Sam had just concluded with him at the Richards’ residence.” “That’s it?” “More or less. Chief. where you’ve raised your opponent and watched that little eye-flicker before they decide to call or fold. “What’s this all about Chief Kudrow?” “I have reason to believe the girl may be missing. friends or anything like that yet?” “No. He identified himself. wanted to give it a little time. I can’t explain it. Chief. I’m uneasy about this. principal. I need your immediate help. although with his voice he really didn’t have to. Perhaps you can get us a valuable 51 .” Kudrow didn’t reply nor did he stop looking at Sam Bear for a while. “You talked to the girl’s teachers. asked Bear some questions about Richards.” Kudrow pulled a couple of school directories out of a drawer.” he continued. Finally he added. his former wife. counselor. Got a feeling this one might sneak around and bite us both on the ass somehow.” Bear didn’t say anything for a while and the chief didn’t press him. Bear heard the principal ask. “I’d like to give you some time to contact the girl’s teachers and counselor and a few of her classmates. then dialed the principal’s number.
I don’t want her talking to the father. I didn’t mean to call out the Marines.” answered Bear. If we are wrong at least we acted with dispatch. “Chief.” Bear was now plainly distressed. He can drive her down in his patrol car.” “These things are usually solved before we can write down the missing persons report. Sam. Anton Richards and pointedly question him about the disappearance of his daughter. Make him 52 . get him where he can’t sit down or get comfortable. If he gives you any problem. what’s his name? Anton Richards?” “That’s it. This guy owes me big time or I would not presume so much. We’ll be heroes to all the parents and laughing stocks to our fellow officers. I just felt something was wrong and I thought it would be a good thing to run it by you. I have no reason to suspect her were it not that a sizeable number of these missing children turn out to be parental abductions. I’ll call you back in a couple of hours if that’s acceptable?” It was and the chief thanked him and then turned to Sam. Mostly. I want to speak to them separately before they can concoct some bullshit story. I didn’t want to interrupt your evening and throw what may be an ordinary event into overdrive. You are going to back to Mr. I’m going to ask him to bring the mother here to help us. “If there is something going on.Page 52 lead from one of them to help us locate her. But we need some additional information. I’m going to call a friend of mine in Davenport and have him go to the mother’s home and check her and it out. we are prepared to utilize any means at our disposal to locate her and get her home safely.” “Chief. tell him that if his daughter’s welfare is in question. When you talk to him.
” concluded the chief. Bear. wait. Press him and keep hammering on anything to do with his daughter.Page 53 stand. Let’s find out what. Chief. listen carefully and see if he reveals a new avenue for questioning.” “How many were as strong as the feeling you had about Richards tonight?” “Two. Trust them. If he clams up. interrupt him with. how many times have we talked together over the last several years?” “Sam grinned. Try to push him into corners. If that happens. Maybe he’s growing pot in the attic or something?” “Sam Bear. Chief.” “You’re probably not wrong on this one. Anytime you get a chance. ask him why he feels that way. “How do you feel about that?” When he responds. There was the Stanley Murder and that mess at Silva’s Retirement Home. People usually talk to fill the void.” “Sam. how many times have you come to me with one of your hunches?” “More than a few times. say something they didn’t intend to say.” “He’s going to be upset. It may have nothing to do with Stacey Richards. “I lost count. Chief. his little girl didn’t come home and he’s lying to you about something. a feeling I had that he was covering up something. but make him do the talking. You are a good cop with good instincts. what if I’m dead wrong. “Chief.” “He ought to be upset. Right now we’re hunting in brushy country and our 53 . It was only a guess.
” “Anything else. Then have some officers baby-sit them while you give that Olds a good once-over. Let’s stir things up and maybe we’ll see the bear run through the buck brush. If they complain. Sam. Then roust those two assholes in the Village Motel on the basis of that report. Chief?” “Hell yes. his eyebrows rose. Let’s just have it ready in case we need it. Maybe we’ll get a sense of direction or some clues. That will give you a paper trail if anyone checks. make up some story about an Olds cruising the industrial area with its lights off. I want you to get a photo of the girl. We’d be lucky to find them again in a year. call Marvin LaClergue and ask him where his Oldsmobile is.” “I thought we waited 48 hours?” “Normally we do. No pun intended. Have a fax ready to go out on the wire in 24 hours. I want to know what those two asshole are up to? If they are connected with her disappearance. Then get back to me.” “Chief?” Bear asked. we’d better act fast. call dispatch and say you are following a vehicle of that description and you are going to check it out. I’m sure they know the routine. You probably won’t be 54 . Better yet. “You want to find that little girl.Page 54 quarry is standing still. There’s a Slim Jim under the mat in your trunk. a recent one that we can scan for a flyer and pass out first thing if needed. do it anyway. after you harass Richards. Get them to the station on some technicality for questioning then get some prints. He does stuff like that in between fixing his bicycle tires. Leave it for…Penbroke. Those two are drifters. If you can’t reach him.
He was looking forward to his return visit with 55 . He liked this Kudrow even better. Politician and Mr. He had no idea it was three bullies picking on the town character and more bullies in suits downtown picking on everyone else. That way we’ll have some information before we talk to the mother. Me? I’ve had a lousy feeling ever since I saw those two creeps in my town this morning. Call me by eleven tonight. Chief. Let them all go fuck themselves. He’ll like the overtime. You had a hunch and your hunches are good. still uneasy about the pace of events which he felt he had suddenly accelerated. that’s what I do or should be doing.” said Bear. so just get back with whatever you find. I have spent a lot of time trying to be Mr. there’s no guarantee that we’ll get anything back in less than a week.Page 55 able to hold these guys. the one he’d heard about and caught a glimpse of when he first came to work here. we’ll do what we do best. I’m a cop. Peacemaker in this town the last few years between groups of people most of whom I can’t stand. Bear wondered what had set the chief off. This was the old chief. Call Beltramo in and have him send those drifters’ prints off right away. that’s what I am.” “I’ll get right on it.” Bear left in a bit of a haze. but I’ve never seen you react this way to what is probably a routine matter. my friend. and I’ll let you know what I have found out. We’ll put our heads together after you question Richards and I talk to the school people. Bear. “It isn’t just you. Meanwhile. More than that. With the system we use. but let’s try..
56 . he’d seen enough to make him want to stick around this town a little longer. Even if Stacey showed up and nothing came of all this.Page 56 Richards.
“Stupid. right?” When Bear nudged Tony in the direction of the patrol car.” answered Billy Roy.Page 57 CHAPTER 6 Bear first checked out the two residents of the Village Motel. Billy Roy was only going to plead Pardee’s case on the basis of extreme stupidity but never got that far. Billy Roy made the mistake of reaching out to grab Bear’s forearm. then cuffed them and pushed both into the rear seat of the patrol car. you said you’d taken care of all that crap. and pushed him against the trunk while kicking his feet from under him. “Tell him to shut up. If you guys are on the level. and then asked Pardee to accompany him downtown while they straightened the matter out. Shit” and “Jesus. Pardee. I’ll get you 57 . You didn’t do it. spun him. Billy Roy had been quietly muttering things like. Bear grabbed the arm. the taller of the two. Bear suggested he surrender the keys and get in the patrol car. Bear asked him for the current registration and certificate of insurance. neither of which he could produce. had a sales slip signed by Marvin LaClergue indicating that he had supposedly paid LaClergue $250 on account and owed the same amount in ninety days. after which he would receive full title. Pardee said he would follow Bear. sure. Bear carefully patted both men down removing a pocketknife from Billy Roy. Every time he opens his mouth he tells me something he did that I can book him for. One was Billy Roy Sieboldt while the other was Anthony Pardee. Before Billy Roy could get his balance he was securely cuffed. “You want to help your friend out?” Bear asked Sieboldt? “Yeah. Tony. As a precaution.
we’re straight. I been in jail a couple of months back so I couldn’t pay her nothing. We’re just passin’ through. “So what did you do with the money for the DMV.” “Hey. I’ll get work and start makin’ payments again soon.” Bear nodded to encourage him. That’s the way it is. It got real bad. Anthony. Hell. I just said get me outa here. He even got a smog certificate for it in the glove.” 58 . I helped him make out the registration stuff for DMV two weeks ago. The car is legal. wait man. so tell me how this whole thing got out of control?” Tony means well.” Bear gave him a skeptical look. Tony was supposed to register it in his sister’s name so he’d have insurance coverage under her policy for thirty days automatic like. Fuckhead?” Pardee muttered something that Bear was not able to discern and saw Billy Roy roll his eyes and put his head back on the seat cushion. “Well. I needed some breathing room. “Okay. When Tony came by. “Ain’t no fuckin’ hope for you. no problem. You are beyond fuckin’ belief. That gives him a few weeks to scrape up the insurance money before he switches title. that ain’t all of it. No business of mine.Page 58 released in less than an hour so you two can come back here and do whatever two guys do together in a motel room on Wednesday evening. I’m havin’ trouble with my old lady and she’s really raggin’ my ass about some missed payments for child support. but she wanted money right then. he just don’t follow through on little details. We don’t do that stuff.” Then turning to Pardee he said.
” answered Pardee. Having printed them.” “What’s that?” asked Pardee. I’m satisfied you two just got off on the wrong foot with me tonight. Satisfied for the moment that he had done at least what the chief requested. You’re going back to the motel for a pleasant evening at home. lesser of two evils. that’s all. I been in jail and I don’t want to go back. When he reached the station. 59 . “Look officer.Page 59 A few curious residents had come out of the other units when Bear had arrived with his light bar on. he put them in a holding cell while he faxed their prints and identities off on the wire. “And you wanted to drive downtown?” he asked Pardee. “That right?” he nodded in Billy Roy’s direction. stand up and turn around. It was still flashing.” Bear put the car in gear and moved quietly out of the motel. fellows. but no harm was done so I’m taking you back on one condition. Billy Roy shot him another exasperated look. I can’t be around anyone does drugs so I let him drink. He turned it off and turned to confront the two in the back seat. he returned to the two where they sat waiting. who simply hung his head in reply. Billy Roy shook his head no and then gave a nod upward to indicate that a six-pack was probably a modest appraisal. “ How many beers you guys had?” “We split a six pack. “Okay. he told them he wanted to make a phone call or two to check on the sale of the vehicle and to see if the prints on their licenses really matched their fingerprints. no more.
” he replied.” “Don’t open the door for those two. no matter what. Bear could see the car was locked and worried about a second set of keys. Sergeant.Page 60 “I’ll tell you when we get there. If you don’t like that. Let’s go. “Here’s the deal. What do you want to do here?” They both quickly agreed and watched Bear walk to the office with their licenses and car keys. understood?” “Sure.” The ride back was quiet. if you know what’s good for you. Tony attempted to make small talk but got a sharp elbow in the ribs each time from Billy Roy. or someone else will. better deal through that security window if those guys or any of their friends come by to chat. you surrender your licenses and car keys to me so you don’t take a notion to drive anywhere while under the influence. Bear told him. You got more units to rent?” “This town on a Wednesday night? Not much chance of that. in the morning 60 . They’re a little drunk and will probably get a little more so. but not before 8 a. gentlemen.m. I’ll leave them inside the motel office where you can pick them up in the morning when you settle up and check out. You can give them back to the guys in unit six. I’ll be by. The manager was awake and cooperative. “Okay then. then we all go back downtown and you sleep in that little cell you were just sharing. He could fix that later.. he faced them both off. As Sergeant Bear pulled into the Village Motel driveway and let them out. It’s pretty much over by now. “I’ll be back later tonight and throw the car keys in your night slot.
is just fine. sir. You’ll have to file the complaint if that happens. and they can spend the next few nights free room and board with us. Any problem with that?” “No. Any damage.Page 61 to make sure they check out without having destroyed the room.” Bear nodded and turned to take care of his most pressing problem. a talk with Richards. and 8:00 a. 61 . no problem at all. we’ll arrest them.m.
Kudrow examined it for a while then handed it back without comment.” “Okay. I’m sorry. come on up the hill. Chief. Bear rang up the chief afterward and told him it hadn’t gone well. and quickwitted.Page 62 CHAPTER 7 Anton Richards was not an easy interview. “No. Bear. “I shouldn’t have asked you to do that. not a trace. but the chief’s method wasn’t something he’d practiced doing. Sam intended to follow the chief’s suggestions to the letter. he handed the photograph of Stacey Richards to the chief. Bear. it wasn’t quite his style.” 62 . just said I was uncomfortable. Chief. He became surer of himself as Bear tried to pressure him. certainly not the worried. Bear explained his frustration when trying to interrogate Richards using the chief’s suggestions. polished. In the future. and the officer could feel himself losing control of the situation. please just ignore me. he was trying hard to pick up as many pointers from the chief as possible and made a decision to try and stick to Kudrow’s suggested procedure. Nevertheless. Bear found him evasive. Richards was as quick as a bantamweight when Bear tried to engage him. The chief sighed and apologized.” Once inside the ranch house. Let’s talk. wasn’t my interrogation was it?” Bear felt relieved and smiled. I had no right to ask you to do something other than what you’re comfortable with. “I didn’t say it didn’t work. “Any sign of the girl?” Kudrow asked. shifty-eyed Anton Richards of earlier in the evening.
but it was definitely there. Nothing. and garage. said he’d done that three times already this evening.” “Did you?” “You bet. when he gave me the pictures of Stacey. and his hands had a little tremble. He kept looking away when I asked easy questions. this was something else.” “What changed it?” asked Kudrow. He said by all means and offered to help me. I checked the property.” “Maybe he was just worried. and he clammed up completely. After what I thought was an extremely long wait. I asked. and suddenly he was all cooperation. He got it under control.” 63 . including a walk up the hillside behind the house. the place was inspection ready. and the photo triggered a reaction?” “I don’t think so. “Do you take a lot of photos of your daughter?” “And?” “He looked as if I had punched him. He’s got a little pool house out behind so I looked that over as well. I waited without saying anything. “I told him that I ought to look around the premises with my flashlight. just hung that out like a salmon egg on a bobber. Then everything changed. Chief.Page 63 “Explain?” “Well. I saw that same fear I noticed earlier. you know emotionally vulnerable. bushes. pool. Then I asked him if there was something else he wanted to tell me? You know.
Says Stacey was there. Bear.” “When I asked him who had been in the backyard besides Stacey and himself. Says it was Luis. at least a towel or something. It didn’t fit the dresser locks. 64 . Must have been caught in a drawer slide or taped underneath. Chief.Page 64 “Well. I mean. and it felt empty. ‘You’ll never guess what I found in the pool house?’ I got another strange reaction. I couldn’t hear anything slide. “There was a small dresser in the pool house and it was locked. He wasn’t facing me. I tilted it to see if there was anything in it. but when I lifted it a small key fell out on the floor.” “He left Stacey there alone with Luis and went off to work?” asked Kudrow. you know kids. nothing is ever inspection ready?” Bear continued. and that he left for work before Luis was finished. “You know what this looks like? It looks like a handcuff key for the kind of cuffs they sell in novelty shops. he just seemed puzzled and said he didn’t know where it came from. Paid him before he left. he said there was a guy he hired last week to cut a tree out front.” “What do you mean. I told him I better hold onto it in case it was material in some way. that’s odd.” “Luis? Our woodcutter and town character? That Luis?” “The very same. When I showed him the key. When I walked back in and said. but I saw him stiffen right up.” said Kudrow. too.” “Let me look at that. Says the guy walked right into the backyard. Chief?” “You expect some clothes or stuff scattered around.
Her mother is not at home and can’t be located. Maybe he saw something. he says he didn’t see any problem except for Luis giving him a bad time on the bid. and truthful. He’s always driving around in that old Dodge truck. that cute little girl in the photograph. I suppose. especially if you tell him straight up what your concern is. The Richards’ place isn’t that far away from his. “I take it you didn’t get much from the people you talked to?” asked Bear. “No. They all stressed her truthfulness. Neither does anyone seem to know where she is nor have they seen her. “How does that help. helpful. “We’ll check the neighborhood tomorrow in the event Stacey Richards hasn’t turned up.” the chief added. Chief?” 65 . I may need you to talk with Luis.” “Smart?” “Average. Everything was okay with Stacey when he got home so he didn’t give it a thought. actually I got a lot. Luis may know something. it sounds like the usual parental custody abduction. see if anyone saw anything. At this point. but solid with good common sense. but there is more. He’ll probably talk to you easier than me.Page 65 “Exactly.” Bear asked. Luis sees more of what goes on in this town than almost anyone I know. is reliable.” opined Kudrow.” concluded Bear. “How?” “Stacey Richards. We’ll check the mother’s place of work tomorrow if the kid doesn’t show up. The school people helped in other ways.
66 . Her school counselor confirms the rumor. why would a mother run off and leave a little girl like that? Apparently. Why would the ‘Father of the Year’ according to some accounts have a daughter that hated him so much she repeatedly wanted to run away?” “Teachers said that?” “Not in so many words. It’s on the edge of strange. On the other hand we know that Stacey is a straight arrow and tells the truth. She’s never had a friend to stay overnight and can’t bring anyone home after school. That sound normal to you? She’s not allowed to date and can only attend school dances if they are in the afternoon.Page 66 “Well.” Kudrow rose and paced a moment. but perhaps explainable if the father is a single parent and trying to hold things together. Namely. that’s what happened. and it raises some additionally perplexing issues. Where is Stacey’s mother now? Why did Richards not allow any of his daughter’s friends to visit their home? She could occasionally go to someone else’s home but not the other way around. raising some questions rhetorically for Bear and himself. but they told me that numerous kids had told them that was the case. we know or strongly suspect that Richards is a liar and is hiding something. Too many reports to discount.” Bear was perplexed.” “Well. “Unless we have a conflict in stories.” answered Bear. I don’t see how that helps?” “It has a lot to do with how much we believe of what others say.
Chief. You dropped their key back in the night deposit box?” Bear smiled and held up the key for the chief to see. I also made a phone call to the Richards’ residence to see if Stacey had turned up but got an answering machine. after I talked with Richards. I then had Beltramo send their prints off along with a search on Anton Richards.Page 67 “What’s your guess? Bear. thanks for checking them out. You handled Sieboldt and Pardee beautifully. What happened with my two boys from the Village Motel? Any girl’s clothes.” “Good idea. Sam. “excellent.” I took the liberty of removing the coil wire and rotor from the Oldsmobile in case those two yahoos decided to leave before morning. You think she’s with her mother?” “It may be worse than that.” “I know one thing for sure. That was about 10:45 p.” “Chief?” “Something is rotten at the Richard’s house whether Stacey turns up tomorrow or not.” 67 .m. I did get their prints by telling them I had to compare their prints with their licenses. in fact. since I had kept the car keys. “The night is still young. anything like that?” “I checked back later. Maybe he’s got some skeletons in his closet. too. I gave the car a good once over but didn’t find anything suspicious.” Bear. Chief.” “You did well.
and call me no matter what the hour if that girl turns up.” He showed the Sergeant to the door. “Is there something still bothering you?” “Yes. I’d like to know what happened to that little girl.” 68 .Page 68 “I like the way you think. Bear. Chief.
If school occasionally failed to hold her interest. but that could wait for tomorrow. She loved to see the wind. Taking off her clothes even in front of her friends had become embarrassing for her for some reason so she dallied until the class bell made her late for math. her favorite teacher. so it wasn’t too bad. 69 . Colletti. That was it then. she’d talk to Mr. with its hint of coolness. Tooney.. Colletti. Mr.E. Because of this. and she could study for midterms in detention today. she reasoned. Her father would not care for her spending three hours detention on Saturday. it was settled. she had an hour detention. there was lunch. perhaps tomorrow or today before he went out to coach cross-country after school. she looked forward to walking in the pleasant fall afternoon. Colletti as soon as she could. come stir up dust devils and swirl them around.E. She didn’t know if she could talk about details with him. She had been tardy recently because she took too much time getting dressed after P. She thought once or twice about going to her counselor. books under her arm. She usually walked home anyway. In the meantime. plus a Saturday School if she didn’t show for the assigned detention. She liked the hilly canyon area behind her home with its wild sage. P. her counselor. She had hoped to see Mr. As she left school. Her father was working late. the world outside more than made up for this. and her math class. but she knew she’d feel better talking to him than to Mrs. or better.Page 69 CHAPTER 8 What happened that Wednesday was that Stacey set off for school and a full schedule of activities? She had midterms that kept her mind off personal matters. She loved to kick the leaves.
and chaparral odors. and she regretted that she had taken so long to walk this far. Today she noted the Big Leaf Maples turning yellow and beginning to lose their leaves. their seeds like brown fingers hung on branches ready to be spun about by the winds that signaled winter’s approach. Her father had rubbed lotion on her buttocks where he’d reddened her with his hand or a ruler. It was a good time of year. She watched Poison Oak turn scarlet red. It passed from that to caressing and from caressing to what the woodcutter had seen. Bucks seemed fearless as they came down from the hills to eat their fill of nuts for winter. She noted the seasons in ways most young people did not. While the hour was late. She didn’t remember exactly when the sexual advances began. The light was fading more each day. when only weeks earlier it had been scarcely discernable. He’d hold both her wrists pinned with one of his big hands and paddle her with the other while he verbally abused her. it seemed ages ago when she was eight or nine. These were the only times her father was openly affectionate to her. regretted she had stopped to look at everything.Page 70 Live Oaks. it was not yet dark so she quickened her pace. dark like his mood when he gave her spankings for being bad and made her pull her pants down. showing itself as twisted vines around trees and through other shrubs. This was the time when acorns began to fall from the trees and brought squirrels in great numbers. In the spring she waited for the Crane flies to signal the Easter break and the flowering of the Madrones to tell her she had less than two months of school before summer vacation. He actually treated 70 . Dark reminded her of the way her father pulled the drapes in the pool house and the way he kept the windows shuttered in front.
she replied. In public. As much as she dreaded the beginnings of these sessions. “Come over here so I can see who you are. her father always treated her like a princess. She was startled when she heard a voice ask with authority. they always ended with cuddling and kind words. She only had one parent now. Colletti or her counselor. With that she took her usual shortcut that brought her across the piece of overgrown land upon which rested the Hacienda. If she told Mr. he was the perfect father. but Stacey couldn’t fix on that at the moment. Embarrassed by being on someone else’s property. she thought. She didn’t want that either. Where do you live?” There was something familiar in the voice.Page 71 her with tenderness and gave her little presents for being a good girl afterward. she the loving daughter. As she drew near she could see only a man’s trousers and a shape behind one of the big. hanging pine boughs. she thought. To anyone watching. She was confused by his actions and seldom clear-minded about her own feelings. She’d heard that voice before. “I’m just walking home from school. With the setting sun behind him. “What are you doing here?” She was accustomed to complying with authority. “What 71 . It was getting late. CPS would surely come and maybe take her away and put her in a foster home. Her path was shielded from the house by the oaks and acacias and part of Luis’ chicken house. as part of her life was intact and working. he was only an indistinct shape.” Her voice wavered as she spoke and she swallowed hard. She had worked her way along the path she often took in the tall grass past piles of pruning and though the big Monterey Pines and that stood in the center of the property.
It was if she were looking down a long tube with weeds and light at the other end. the one that ended her life abruptly.Page 72 do you want?” she asked. She fought to remain conscious. When her assailant next appeared in her vision. She couldn’t understand the words. and she could feel the pain. My father is expecting me. After a short time. She let herself go then. 72 . She soon felt herself being dragged and was aware of her head bumping up and down on the grass and weeds. She closed her eyes and pleaded over and over in her mind. the motion stopped. Stacey’s head now hurt a lot. letting the pain from her head blot out what was happening.” It would be difficult to say if the shock of what was happening or the original blow to her head made her lose consciousness. please. She wanted to move her hands and feet but couldn’t.” The blow to her head was so sudden and unexpected that she experienced only a flash of light before darkness began to envelope her. Overhead were trees and the sky. what it was he wanted. When he began taking off her clothes. still light but getting darker than before. she never felt the second blow. he was smiling and saying things to her. “My name is Stacey Richards and I’m on my way home. She seemed to be tipping to one side as if she were falling but couldn’t move her hands to steady herself. She was aware of her incapacity and also of the sound of her breathing as she inhaled and exhaled. I really have to go right away. and the light was flickering. not fighting anymore. even in her stupor. please let it stop. “God. As she drifted off to some other plane. she understood.
the phone rang and rang before Richards finally picked up. we’ll be in touch with you in the morning. much as he had earlier done.” Again Bear waited until he couldn’t stand the void. “Her friends haven’t seen her. but no one has any idea where she might be. Sergeant.” “You talk to a lot of people?” asked Bear. Mr. Bear didn’t buy that. his voice rising in intensity as he pronounced earlier. Richards.” “Did I wake you?” asked Bear. “I was just out driving around to see if I could find her anywhere. “I was upset. Officer. He simply jotted down Richards’ replies. I couldn’t find her anywhere. a long painful silence. “You talk to her mother yet? She may know something. Surprisingly. He knew exactly what he had asked and what Richards had replied.” Bear waited. but he decided not to pursue that at the moment. She was supposed to visit a sister in Solon. “Sure.” Richards offered. “Okay.” explained Stacey’s father. “there is no news and no one has seen her. Please call us at the number I’m going 73 . Ohio.” “She left last Monday for a trip. “No. if I recall correctly.” “You didn’t mention that when I spoke with you earlier.” said Bear.Page 73 CHAPTER 9 Sergeant Bear returned the keys he had taken from Pardee and Sieboldt to the motel office and then dialed Anton Richards’ number. saying nothing. I may have forgotten to mention it.
Billy Roy Pucy was another matter. thought Bear. Their first names were correct but Pardee was really Anthony “Tony” Moen while Sieboldt was Billy Roy Pucy. and had been apprehended while in possession of a controlled substance. he received a call on his radio that the reports were already back on Sieboldt and Pardee so he swung by the station to pick the reports up. I can see why he wanted to change that one. neither had any incident of sexual misconduct charged against them. and had been apparently without incident since his release two months ago. He served eight of fifteen years for armed robbery.” He repeated the number twice then pushed the ‘end’ button on his cellular phone. cocaine. They were obviously in violation of parole just by being in each other’s company. Significantly. been drunk and disorderly. After a long juvenile crime career.since he’d already dealt with them. He had early and frequent conflicts with authority. he had a number of drunk and disorderly charges. He indicated that he would be happy to come in and help the chief take these two in .Page 74 to give you now if Stacey returns or you find out her whereabouts. Upon his release. it might be easier . He left the chief a note clipped to their rap sheets before signing out early the next morning. He got an early release as part of a diversion program and hadn’t been arrested for anything since. he was arrested and convicted for aggravated assault and did time in the county jail. in a quantity that guaranteed a felony conviction. and then done his big number. He was the tougher and meaner of the two. Both were felons with long rap sheets. Tony Moen had skipped bail. some fistfights with others of similar backgrounds. Moments later. Most of it was small-time stuff. was now on parole.sober and 74 .
It had been a long night. Bernice got a smiley face sticker attached to her memo. a favorite hiding place for a small revolver or automatic. he drove by the Richards’ place on his way home. Because he was every bit the cop that Kudrow believed him to be. Richards’ Chevy Impala was parked in the driveway. Just because there was no gun in the vehicle didn’t mean there wasn’t one in the motel room. Well. It read: Please get a printout of calls from the Richards’ home phone from last Thursday through Wednesday of this week. they’d both be hung over and still fumbling around if they got up at all before 11 a. Ohio. He scotch-taped the coil wire and distributor rotor to the bottom of the note. Despite his tiredness. He took a leisurely route back to his residence. He wrote a second memo telling the chief of his conversation with Richards. With luck. 75 .Page 75 alert. They weren’t going anywhere too quickly. He figured the chief could have coffee and sneak a few donuts before rounding up these two. you sure didn’t drive more than a few blocks. adding large question marks and underlining Solon. Billy Roy Pucy might be a problem. he had failed to check inside the air cleaner of the Olds.m. he thought. moreover. He felt little heat from the grill and put his hand on the exhaust pipe. taking care to note in the small book he carried in his left shirt pocket that he had checked Richards’ car and found the exhaust pipe and radiator almost cool just after Richards told him on the phone that he had been out looking for Stacey. Bear was pumped up by the events of the evening. if you were out looking for your daughter.
Wednesdays. taking the more physical jobs on Mondays. He decided he’d take it in his trunk on the way to work tomorrow morning and deposit it in one of the many commercial dumpsters he’d seen along the way. the other bag he’d left sitting on the driveway. he would have noticed that one of the brush piles he’d saved for a fall burn day had been moved slightly to partially cover the body of Stacey Richards. He liked these morning jaunts to the dumps. condoms. Tuesdays and Fridays were his egg delivery days and he used the afternoons for gardening. which sent him home in a greater panic. now wet with the morning dew. It was an area that neighbors often used to dump their rubbish. Teens used it as a place to deposit trash when they parked and drank there. Today he found only fence posts with dry rot and a few newspapers. he would have seen the contents from a paper bag that had held undergarments. He had learned to pace himself during his workweek. household garbage. It was not unusual to find beer cans. condoms. repairs. He checked the southeast corner of his property before making his trip. Had he looked fifteen feet farther into the property. and cording wood. and Saturdays. and bottles from wine and spirits scattered about. Anton Richards had driven only a few blocks to get rid of the incriminating items. Sundays were mostly for 76 . Had Luis gone farther into the property. One bag he’d thrown into the front seat. Luis was in a bright mood as he tossed the old posts onto his load. and makeup from the Richards’ pool house’s dresser.Page 76 Luis began Thursday with a quick run to the refuse area to rid his truck of cuttings from the previous day.
Page 77 relaxing and reading and accompanying Momma to church. as usual. as he first had to get a burn permit from the fire department for his brush pile. Luis liked the excitement and mystery of it all. Luis had begun checking out more and more books each week. enough to manage his obligations and a lot more. Every other Thursday. He would begin by a stop for coffee and a once a week sweet roll at a local shop and then visit the town library. The egg route brought him a sizable income. however. It was on these occasions. an assistant librarian. Luis would visit a nearby city where he made deposits in a bank there under his birth name. were special. There were a few women with whom he kept company. The only exception to Luis’ disguise and the only hint he gave Sommersville of his real personality and his intellect came at the local library. 77 . It had grown over the years to the point where Luis had considered taking on help or refusing new customers. Thursdays. He loved these escapes from his adopted identity just as he loved to return to the comfortable routine of life at the Hacienda. even the egg collection for Friday could wait. bringing himself to the attention of Gwen. He needed to dump a few things at the refuse dump. Today was Thursday and. carefully since neither knew of the other. And it came entirely by chance four years earlier in the person of Gwen Lissner. On this Thursday. that Luis was able to speak normally. but there was no hurry. while banking. Luis Torres. it was to be the highlight of Luis’ week. carry on conversations in a city where it was not unusual to be a minority.
Page 78 Gwen.” She pointed to her hearing aids. I am partially deaf and have trouble with some words. “Now. and then pronounced the word several times.” she said again pointing to her hearing aids.” She wrote down the phonetic spelling and diacritical marks. perhaps more haltingly than she needed to. “These marks and spellings show you how to pronounce words. She had no problem with the little white lie since it allowed her access to those who.” She laughed having said that and Luis laughed with her. “I’m not sure. Gwen had used this technique before. What 78 . “I can not speak too well either. was a bit out of the mainstream of everyday life and had come by her job in the spirit and the letter of an Equal Opportunity Employment program.” Gwen came back with. needing help. too.” she said. “I can hear you if you speak. She looked at him. giving it to Luis. may be reticent to ask because of their own perceived handicaps. It was not true by any means that Gwen didn’t know how to pronounce the word. but it made Luis more comfortable.” she said. “That is wonderful. and then produced a note pad to write.” she wrote on her piece of notepaper. She pushed a dictionary at him from the reference shelf behind her and proceeded to look the word up. But these help a lot. you don’t have to write. He smiled back at her and wrote. “See. which Luis had not seen under her full head of hair. Then she spoke. smiled. Luis did. Luis had chosen to ask Gwen how to pronounce a word he had found instead of asking the other woman at the librarian’s desk because Gwen looked more approachable. you try it. successfully. “Thanks. He liked her immediately.
It was during these times that she began to suggest reading selections to broaden his background. “Library card. She did. carefully pronouncing each syllable.” and signed each word after she pointed to it. leading more and more people to accept his semi-mute state as normal. and he had her do it several times. Shortly she returned with a pictorial representation of American Sign Language. She had a deliciously wicked sense of humor that could 79 . Luis grinned even more as he copied her motions. Many times he skipped his banking visits so he would not miss a trip to the library. He. please. As the weeks rolled on Luis began to sign to Gwen each time he checked books in or out while she selflessly coached him through the process. Luis became quite proficient in four years of working with Gwen and was delighted that he could talk with his hands. and a wonderful teacher. she also made signs with her hands. found her patient. please?” That was the beginning. She pushed it in his direction and said. intelligent. They quickly became good friends.Page 79 really caught Luis’ attention was that as she spoke. in turn. Consciously or unconsciously he began to sign to people even as he played his role as Luis the slow-thinking woodcutter. He had seen this done before but never paid it much heed. She motioned him to wait and then walked off into the stacks with a gait that matched her halting speech. “What was that?” He mimicked her hand sign.” he asked. “Do it again. “Do it again. on the other hand found him to be a quick learner and vigorous in pursuit of knowledge in ways that surprised her. She pointed to his message. Gwen.
She made Luis feel good and in his way he gave her a certain purpose also. and a pronounced limp. She signed back. “Maybe its your deodorant?” She was always ready with repartee. He gradually came to revere this somewhat attractive woman with glasses. limburger cheese?” and smiled. 80 . She then added.Page 80 snap him out of any reverie or personal dilemma. hearing aids. “What am I. Once in a moment of candid exposure he confided to her that he felt very alone in this town.
Richards. If she arrives home without it.” 81 . She has a key. “How may I help you?” The chief was not prepared for that answer and it took him a moment to respond. I assume your daughter is back home today?” “I don’t have any idea where she is. all the while waiting for just a word or phrase that would lead to further information. Where could he be? He’d come in early and tried several times to reach the man. He had Bear’s report in hand as he called Richards’ place of work at 8 a. his mind was still on the events of the previous evening. Right now I am deeply disappointed and a bit angry with her for taking off somewhere.Page 81 CHAPTER 10 Thursday morning at six fifteen found Kudrow calling Anton Richards to no avail. He didn’t know exactly what he was looking for or even what he would ask. This morning as he dialed the number. “Mr. “May I speak with Anton Richards please or if he’s not available perhaps his supervisor?” began Kudrow in a forceful manner. but he often made calls this way. concerned. He’d introduce himself and convey a friendly. this is Chief of Police Blake Kudrow. “This is Anton Richards. before calling on the two yahoos in the Village Motel. He was good at it. she can sit on the front steps until I return tonight.m. I’ve locked the door. Chief. casual interest. and other emergency actions that he had already decided to take. sharp to talk with his boss or supervisor hoping to get a little background information.” came his voice over the phone.
He’ll jam it again. Mr. “I saw you duck behind that file cabinet you spineless worm. not kidnapped if that’s what you think. He nearly broke the phone as he put it back in its cradle. Mr.” continued the chief. she said. Poor kid. please let me do that. I’ll see that everyone gets these right away. “Chief.” she said as she shushed him through the door. you don’t know if she is a runaway or has been abducted or is in trouble somewhere. Is there anything else I can do for you?” “Not one thing. She’ll be home.” Before she could intervene. and this kid has a mother who abandons her and a father like Richards. thank you. Richards. Richards. Now I have a heavy workload and really have to go before all my phones begin ringing.Page 82 “I see. “Don’t worry. and when she arrives she won’t find it a pleasant experience I assure you. he thought. Then to her office assistant she blared.” Kudrow hung up and steam issued from every portal. He looked at the photo Bear had duplicated and decided he’d run a few copies for the Post Office. get over here and help me before I scream. Chief Kudrow. the Street Department. Bernice watched him rip the copies off the machine while they were still feeding through the rubber rollers. to herself. and you are not worried?” “She’s been brought up correctly.” 82 . and Parks & Recreation so they might assist in the search. I’ll have it all straightened out and done before you get back. he jammed the machine and angrily began to attack it until Bernice asked him to go across the street and get some donuts to go with the coffee she’d made. “Your daughter is missing. now grown with a family of her own. remembering his own daughter at an early age.
Privately. He also asked her to contact the former mayor. Kudrow first contacted the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Unit to get a helicopter overview of the rough terrain that lay over the hill behind the Richards’ residence. he thought. Bear had noted in his report that Richards had said his daughter often climbed the hills and took walks that way on her own during the summer. as queries would be coming to and through her phone. “I want him to direct this search and be the contact person for every group and individual. and called Bernice on the phone to tell her his plans. and regular visitor before the city had gone to a council-manager government.Page 83 Yet when Kudrow returned with donuts ten minutes later. He also called the president of Sommersville ALERT. an old friend. He felt this was the case now. he just nodded to Bernice and Patricia as he passed. which met regularly and specialized in making organized foot searches. Patricia looked at Bernice who motioned to her to be quiet and run the copies. Next he asked the Sheriff’s Mounted Posse for assistance and called the Findem Foundation to secure bloodhound assistance. its group of experienced hunters and outdoorsmen were always ready with dogs to volunteer in the nearby counties when a crisis arose. and went into his office. Interrupt if I’m on the line. dropping the donuts on her desk.” Certainly. “Have him phone me and patch him through wherever I might be. Kudrow worried that the terrain in the canyons behind the Richards’ residence would be too rough and too steep for horsemen. 83 . The donuts sat unattended on the desk.” he told her. a citizens’ volunteer group equipped with VHS radios. Hans Kirkhoff could manage this if anyone could.
and I don’t need to know everything. I don’t want to interfere. don’t care how they’re dressed or if they come in bathrobes. maybe start calling them first.Page 84 That done. have Patricia run that color photo down to the copy shop and make two hundred color copies right now. even if they just went off shift. “Can I ask you something. he remembered the photocopying he had begun fifteen minutes before and buzzed Bernice to have her quadruple the copying and have some for each group he had contacted on the phone. I’ll get on that press release.” 84 . he said. Also. but I didn’t see the news release anywhere?” asked Bernice. Chief. I want bodies in fifteen minutes. get them here now (he planned to have Bear organize the bunch and immediately check the convenience stores on each end of town and the railroad yard for any reports of sightings). Also get me Colonel Wilkens on the phone so we can use the armory for a staging center and control area. “Okay. I’ll get it done before the boys come in. then the other things. Hopefully we’ll have color copies before any of the search groups show up.” “Chief?” asked Bernice. Then I want you to call the radio stations and television stations in the area (there’s a list in your emergency action binder) and give them the news release and photo. have you begun calling them yet?” When Bernice answered him with an irritated tone. I want all of the school people to know as well and spread the word to our neighboring police departments. get every policeman in here for a meeting. “That’s because I haven’t written it yet. “Bernice. including Bear. send them a photo. Tell them to bill the department. well. okay?” “Yes.
” “Oh my God.” she gasped.Page 85 Blake Kudrow paused. Chief. please. Bernice. but it seems we went from nothing to something overnight and I wondered if we had gone a little overboard?” “Come into my office. Do remember that old man that lives up by the hill where the subdivision ends. that little girl has only been missing a short time. and had run down the edges of the pages.” She stumbled in her speech then recovered. binding. 85 . “What is it?” “Well. “Read the last name. There in a neat loopy adolescent hand was written Stacey Richards. Bernice. Kudrow said. Kind of funny really. and I know you are under a lot of pressure and I’m sure we’ll find her. He opened the book and showed her the names written by each owner in the box provided on the book’s inside cover. I remember. and close the door behind you. When she had done this.” he directed.” “Well.” Kudrow held up a math book. “Sit down. Bernice. he called me early this morning. Bertram James?” “Yes. He had a hound that was always taking someone’s morning paper or stealing groceries left by the deliveryman on porches. “Are we going a little too fast here? I wouldn’t ask. We have been friends since I was a kid. Sure. hours not days. I remember. Fresh bloodstains were on the cover. I dropped by and picked this up on my way in today. People were calling about him mostly to complain.
I’m going to ruin your day. But that’s all we’ve got right now.” And he did. Kudrow grabbed his Stetson and headed out.Page 86 “Bert called me. Bernice.” Bernice thanked him and left very subdued. Then the dog shows up with Stacey’s book. He was once told 86 . When he walked into the outer office with the news release all of his officers were assembled. as this was his normal Thursday garb twice a month when he did inter-agency meetings with other local law enforcement groups. thought I’d want to see this. and Joseph. “Jesus. The Stetson was a holdover from earlier days and added a nice western flavor that he found pleasing. About that. “What I’m afraid of is not that she was abducted or attacked but that she fell and hurt herself somewhere out there and may die of exposure before we find her. The chief turned to write his memo and actually managed to finish it in fifteen minutes despite three phone calls. Having instructed his officers and ordering to Bear take charge of duty schedules for the next few days to assure 24-hour police coverage. He had come in this morning in chino slacks and a dressy sports jacket. I hoped to have one or two of those bloodhounds follow the route his dog took. He doesn’t have the faintest idea where the dog had been. In his hand were memos Bear had left along with those that had come off the police wire and been placed in his priority box. but that’s not likely to produce results as that dog could have covered fifty square miles in that time. Says the dog’s a male and takes off for days at a time. Says his dog brought it to him this morning.” He waited until he was sure she was again composed. I’m sorry. He hadn’t seen him since Monday evening. did you guys just come from an all night frat party? Come on into my office. I’m very worried. Mary.
he dropped the visit to the Richards’ residence and instead swung his cruiser toward the Village Motel. having intended to drop kick it under the car when he arrived to avoid any questions of tampering. he noticed a blue Olds with a ragged top whiz by the opposite direction going north on McElroy. He had their coil wire and rotor on the seat next to him. if that was where she actually was headed. Pucy had quickly figured out that an early departure was critical as he Officer Bear was suspicious enough to run their prints. His answer was. and rousted Moen out in the morning to help rewire the Olds when 87 . He wanted to give the Richards’ place a personal once over. Couldn’t be those enterprising assholes actually got that car started and took off? Could it? He swung the cruiser in a u-turn.Page 87 that the hat wasn’t regulation. His plan was to call Richards’ ex-wife’s place of work and try to determine her exact date of leaving and date of expected arrival in Ohio.” There were no more questions after that. a notoriously early riser. When he read the memos on Billy Ray Pucy and Anthony “Tony” Moen. He stopped drinking early. “It is if I wear it. for him. He decided to follow without stopping them to see why they had come to Sommersville. He still hadn’t heard back from Colonel Wilkens. so he’d call him back and then phone the school. As he drove briskly along with morning traffic to the edge of town and the motel that adorned its southern entrance. associating with a known felon and lack of payments for child support. He turned his cruiser toward the Richards’ house and began to skim the reports as he drove. he thought.D. You are out of your designated area for parole purposes. too. I’ve already got you two for false I.
“Get your stuff man. They’d still have to do a few stickups to get some working money. He also knew that they’d need those phony licenses back before leaving the motel. he had installed a completely new cable set. check for a rotor. They couldn’t afford another vehicle as they had come with limited funds to buy weapons for what Pucy hoped would be his break from small time gas station and market robberies. and fast women. When he had troubles getting an ignition miss out of the engine after Moen brought it home. The Olds roared to life then settled down to a purr. good booze. Pucy had wanted an unobtrusive older Toyota. but then they were on their way to good times.Page 88 it failed to start with his spare key. but Anthony had purchased the Olds instead. and get replacements out of the trunk and installed. I’m good. something that would blend in anywhere and look like a million other cars. Let’s boogie. and get out of there by eight-fifteen they might as well call a cab and get dropped off at the police station because that’s was where they were going to end up. he thought. I’ll get our licenses and the other key while you put the rest of that beer back in the trunk. He told Moen that if they didn’t get the licenses back. and rotor. he told Moen. “Damn. Much better for guys like us.” he said. He had trouble with this clunker when Moen had first purchased it. Cops goin’ to be here any minute. It had been only a few minutes work for him to spot the missing coil wire.” The Olds pulled into the Sommersville Rod & Gun shop without noticing the white police cruiser that followed behind then turned into the lot next to the 88 . He still had the old parts in the trunk. the car going. Pucy wiped his hands of grease and hit the key. cap. It sobered Moen up enough to get him dressed and moving.
please.Page 89 shop and parked behind a trailer. he handed that and the 38 Special to Tony. Regular 38 might be too light a caliber. “You gonna deal a little on the price if we take both of them?” “If you buy two. “I’ve got a . The chief listened quietly. “You boys both California residents?” “Absolutely. “We’re looking for a couple of revolvers. a . We’ll be carrying rifles so whatever we get shouldn’t be too heavy. Cal Harris. After checking the 357.38 Special. All used but in good shape. and over here is a Smith & Wesson .” answered Pucy and Moen almost together. that’s a Ruger. to take with us when we hunt. appeared absorbed in the process of choosing a shotgun.357 Colt. It’s been a little slow for handguns since the politicians have been on the stump this fall. used or new. Its occupants paid little attention when the man in tan slacks and sports coat sans Stetson entered after them. Any of those interest you?” “I’d like to see the Colt and the Ruger. same for ammunition. “I see. who nodded his approval.44 magnum. Neither noticed the small notebook he quietly withdrew from his pocket with which to take notes.” said Cal. Might get worse until crime starts up again to boost sales. “May I help you gentleman?” asked the owner. Standard load on the ammo?” 89 . you know what I mean?” asked Billy Roy. Meantime I got to stay in business. waved the owner off and proceeded to browse among the used shotguns. I’ll take 10% off the top.” replied Billy Roy.
” answered Pucy. and I’ll have to have a look at those licenses. who wanted to be part of the purchase. How about I get you a bag for that ammunition?” “How long did you say before we can pick these up?” asked Tony.” “I can’t argue with that. Billy Roy withdrew seven hundred fifty dollars and deposited them on the counter.” He checked his calendar and said. “I’ll need some licenses for identification. I wait. You both have a good day now. How you paying?” “Cash only. you’ll have to sign under this paragraph for the State information. He handed them four boxes of ammunition.” said Cal. “It’ll be ten days before you guys can come back to pick these up. “You’ll both have to fill out these forms. “Thank you gentlemen. and handed each a receipt as he counted out the change on the counter. “You’ll each need to sign right here. I only buy what I can afford. Okay?” Cal removed the two weapons to the counter back of him as Billy Roy took a couple of rounds out of one of the boxes to juggle them in his hand. more so as the chief was obviously paying attention now. 90 . He passed the box of 38 Specials to Tony who let his fingers caress the smooth shell casings.” answered Tony. Can’t afford it.Page 90 “Sure. He took the cash from Billy Roy. Reaching into his wallet. After I fill in these blanks.” Cal said to them as he placed the forms in front of them. made change. “Damned credit cards and easy money is gonna ruin this country. Cal was becoming uneasy with the chief present and his mind was going over all the steps he needed to take as mandated under law.
“Yeah. but you told Cal that you weren’t and that’s what went down on the sheet. You are going to get nailed for each of those violations since you are both convicted felons. You handed Tony the first revolver and picked up the second one.D’s and gave a false address when attempting to make a purchase here. make that another dozen and a half years.” spoke Kudrow. “You.” He displayed his badge while letting the two men see his Glock 9 mm automatic. he usually is. my friend. Did you forget about that Anthony?” “Yeah. You with me so far?” Billy Roy nodded.” “Is he always this stupid?” Kudrow asked Billy Roy. That doubled the charges. Then you two ordered a couple of boxes 91 . That’s only a few years each. “Pardee and Sieboldt my ass. sometimes worse.Page 91 “Could be about ninety years the way I figure it. Shut the fuck up Tony. “You each lied on every question and you each gave a false address.” Turning to Billy Roy. Moen and Pucy I’d believe. Billy Roy knew the routine and did as requested while Tony wanted to dawdle. and his recalcitrance earned him a shove. “Seems to me you boys used fake I. Tony’s mouth merely hung open as he searched his brain for excuses. Let’s see. That ain’t no ninety years. You two both know you are felons. committed another felony when you took that revolver in your hand. “Could be a little more or less either way depending on the judge. Kudrow swung them around while Cal Harris looked bewildered. and Moen has a failure to appear. Kudrow said. You mean ninety days. I honestly did. After they were cuffed and patted.” Kudrow motioned for them to turn around as he displayed cuffs.
please? Now you two will get a chance to do the same once I get you downtown so don’t get restless. I need you to write a statement. You want to stick to that cock-and-bull story?” He looked over his paperwork. You sure you didn’t want to buy a few more boxes? Maybe you’ll get a little less time if Tony here or you can prove you are not drug users or traffickers?” He looked at Tony who seemed to shrink in stature then sputtered something. You’ve already been 92 . I’d be glad to do that?” “No can do. briefly. You’ll get them back”. “What was that?” asked Kudrow. saying what took place between the time these two guys entered and the time I interrupted. He looked at the two culprits now leaning against the counter. “Cal. You’ll get everything back when we’re through.” “With a thirty-eight and a three fifty-seven? What in hell you expect to hunt with those weapons. okay?” “I could just bring them down later if you want. and handled them. Cal.” “Cal. “I said we was just goin’ to do a little hunting. As felons that puts you in violation. Just sign it here. Just print it out and hand it to me when you are finished.” He worked on some paperwork and then read Cal’s finished statement. Chief. it is ten years for each of the times and each box.Page 92 of ammo for each weapon. “Looks exactly like what happened. I’ll need both revolvers and the boxes of ammunition for a time. “Let’s go you two idiots. took the shells out. Cal. not like we intended to do anyone any harm here. Unfortunately for you. He’d remembered to bring a clipboard with standard forms and leave it outside Cal’s shop before entering. Officer.
93 . boys.Page 93 in my town too long. “What’s the difference. Moen had hidden his little stash of drugs inside the spare tire after first cutting the casing from the underside. between a hundred twenty and a hundred forty years? Doesn’t make much difference now does it? You boys are going away for a long. If Billy Roy could have had two minutes alone with Tony. You two might as well have put a flashing neon sign on the top that said . Don’t suppose there are any controlled substances in that trunk?” He looked hard at Tony. I need my morning donuts and you two have ruined my breakfast.follow me.so let’s go. long time whatever the judge says. I ought to book you for driving that wreck outside. the courts would only have had to try one felon and that on a charge of homicide.” said Kudrow moving them toward the cruiser outside.
Keep the press away. Bernice. I want these two men I’m sending in held incommunicado until I can question them. Bear already did that but I am expecting the newspaper and TV people any minute since they were coming to cover the search. this is the Chief.” “Okay. I don’t know for sure yet because I haven’t heard for sure from Sergeant Bear.” “Okay. I’ll tell Geangelli and Ryan as much when I hand them over so this is just for your information. and have dispatch call those officers and tell them to maintain radio silence. have dispatch indicate that the two officers are to meet me there to take two felons into custody as if that is the only thing going on. Then I want you to standby to call off everyone I had lined up for 94 . Bear sent two officers to the scene and immediately followed in another vehicle. Ryan and Geangelli are on their way. Pretty hysterical call so we don’t know much. The caller said it was a girl’s body.” came the call seconds later. I’m still so upset from this morning.” “Chief. “Is this what I think it is?” “I’m afraid so. we’ll have to live with that.Page 94 CHAPTER 11 Two boys cutting school discovered Stacey’s body Thursday morning at approximately 9:15 a. In case the press is listening. Chief. when they came to hang out in the trees near the Hacienda and smoke cigarettes. I heard that on the radio. The dispatcher knew the chief was on his way in with two men under arrest and had him call the office on his cellular phone. and Bear is right behind them. I guess. kind of keep them out of the way.m. “Bernice. We set up the small room off the lobby for them to use.
he began to laugh and couldn’t stop even when Gwen angrily hushed him twice. I’ll call you on the phone when I know more.Page 95 search and rescue except for the bloodhounds I may still need them. He was much more interested at the moment in finding some additional books on the architecture of Greece and Rome. There was a similarity there to something he’d seen elsewhere and recently. had in fact been puzzling over drawings and photographs of three buildings whose fronts and sides were alike in design but different in scale. He decided it wasn’t the library itself or the Town Hall. still chuckling. Luis spent the morning reading in the library and talking to Gwen several times before loading up with books for the week and turning toward what would now be an afternoon banking appointment in nearby Bell Canyon. He marveled at the beautiful simplicity of design. but as he looked at the 95 . I don’t want anyone with a police frequency radio. He was troubled somewhat with his decision to kill Richards as time passed. ahead of us on this one. It bothered him most of the morning that he couldn’t recall where he’d seen the same proportions locally. His anger. that includes the press. he’d have to measure the Hacienda’s dimensions to be sure. That’s it for now. When it finally came to him. if you know what I mean. once hot and ready to burst forth had settled to a slow burn that interrupted his quiet times but left him undisturbed during the normal course of daily routine.” The chief signed off and turned his cruiser toward the Hacienda. He finally left. He might even look up one of his lady friends there since he was dressed in his Thursday go-totown clothes. Call Colonel Wilkens and Hans Kirkhoff and tell them what we have as of this moment since they’re getting ready to mobilize the entire Sixth Army.
on whose property the bodies were found. Moreover. he realized he’d only need to remove some Spanish clay tiles and add Dorian columns to achieve the intended similarity. negligees. before the chief got 96 .Page 96 ancient buildings. Luis Calderon set off to do his banking. Currently. the chief long ago found that it is best to keep the suspect list open and ask lots of questions. Both boys had been thoroughly grilled by Geangelli and Ryan and then by Bear. where murder was concerned. Nevertheless. The chief called the county forensic team after giving Bernice the bad news and further instructions. and women’s garments they’d found when crossing the property toward the woods. he was the chief’s number one suspect. Having concluded his business in town. The two idiots he’d handed off to Ryan and Geangelli were next. as he wanted to place a boom on the stake bed of his truck with which to lift and move stumps. Richards himself and wanted to be there when he identified the body. blissfully unaware of the drama that was being played on the Hacienda’s property. There were strong sexual innuendoes here by the look of the body. He could probably do it again from memory but thought he might want to look at the book again and pick up some more information on pulleys. Bear and the chief quickly confirmed that the body was indeed that of Stacey Richards. For measurement he’d need to check out that book on applied mathematics with the angles and diagrams he remembered reading last fall when he had been curious as to the height of the trees on his property. Luis. was a distant third. He decided that he would call Mr. The chief wanted to see if the man had any feelings besides anger. the two boys had first found and played with a bag full of panties.
Can I give you that now?” “Certainly.” “Tell me what the supervisor told you.Page 97 them.” Kudrow mulled over what information he had and decided that he needed to talk to the residents. Take prints.” The chief listened. The chief added them reluctantly to his list of subjects before turning them over to Bear. when did it come in? “Just a few minutes ago when a supervisor from the post office called. too. they’d found some make up and packages of condoms. They still had these in their pockets when questioned by Bear. anything else?” “Yes. The press van just pulled up. He went over it all again. Kudrow told them they had tampered with evidence in a murder case and would have to be taken downtown and fingerprinted. “I want them locked up in a cell away from reporters and parents until I can question them again. He called Bernice on the phone and had Ryan and Geangelli hustle back after dropping off Billy Roy and Tony to pick up the two boys.” “Chief? There was an important call that may have some bearing on what happened. Bernice. Apparently after clowning around with the clothes. To scare them a little. 97 . the County Coroner is on his way and the forensic people. “Okay. or his men needed to. Send up anyone else who is available as I need to keep this area pristine until we can do a thorough search. We are going to need them since these two had their hands on everything. He told Bernice to do the best she could and then walked to the door of the Hacienda where he knocked several times.
politely. were partially covered with hand-woven rugs but only as necessary and not so as to cover the waxed wooden surface. The overall effect was like walking into another dimension. not art treasures. The inside was not at all what he expected. please sit down and tell me what it is that you come to my house for this morning. These were not the usual designer type items but small and medium oil paintings of what he guessed were village scenes from Mexico. They were well crafted. The floors of hardwood.Page 98 He was greeted by Momma. of which there were several. The furniture matched the décor being made of a dark. Similar doilies covered the small tables holding lamps. After all he’d heard and watched over the years. Instead he was greeted with a aromatic fragrances. probably candles. “Please. The walls were a pleasant earthen color but light hued and covered in places by pictures. white oak he guessed. as he saw several of those. Kudrow had expected darkness and musty interior. and some bouquets of fresh and dried flowers. but tasteful and unpretentious. and asked to please come inside. Small doilies covered the back of each cushion for a headrest. hand-hewn wood of a type he couldn’t identify and covered with large plain colored cushions of subtle greens and reds. no?” 98 . There were crucifixes on several walls of the living room. I see the cars outside and the lights. he was unprepared for what he found. It is something serious. perhaps oily smells as well. someplace where time moved slower and people were gracious in a simple way. Overhead were exposed ceilings of Red Cedar. Senor Guardia. There was an air of orderliness and tidiness.
she was composed. Mrs. perhaps? “I see many people each day cross the property. Kudrow noted how her words were exact and clear. We just found the body. He dresses up and goes somewhere. Sometimes they come to see the chickens and the goats. as the word Deo was spoken repeatedly. After while I don’t pay attention to them. not so much anymore. Calderon.Page 99 “Yes.” “Did Luis see anything? Is he here now so I can talk to him?” “Do you think my Luis had something to do with this?” she asked. Sometimes they throw rocks and hit the house. Most children are nice to have here. “I don’t believe so. They walk their dogs here.” He watched the emotions play quickly across her face before she turned away and heard her whispering in Spanish. a young girl was killed on your property. Many children play here. he supposed to God. I don’t mind. When she again turned back to him. Do you know where he is now?” “Today is Thursday. Mrs. There is a regular path (she pointed from one side to another) that the school children follow. This certainly wasn’t the shrewish hag that had driven the local merchants nearly crazy. She had been waiting to ask this question. but I do have to talk with him. Thursday he doesn’t say much to me. I know he goes downtown. Every Thursday he has more 99 . “Did you notice anyone on the property the last two days? Someone you didn’t recognize. Calderon. “How may I help you?” she asked.
Momma pointed. He reads much. he found most were salvaged from library book sales. He wondered what else Luis was capable of? “Mrs. I show you. She introduced them as Tia Esmeralda and Tio Jorge and Dina. Always books coming and going. too. He had misjudged Luis. but late into the night the light is still on. to where two old people sat nex to a woman. Calderon. he thought. otherwise I will come back this evening to speak with him. no?” Kudrow nodded as he perused the bookshelves and read the titles. The two old folks nodded to acknowledge the introduction while the girl sat silently rocking back and forth.” as he handed her his 100 .” She motioned to a pile of books on the desk. perhaps in her late thirties. He reads until late at night. These are big books. It was paned and hinged and looked older even than the Hacienda itself. “Please. “Always books with him like these. The walls were covered with bookcases except on the west side where an enormous window reached from knee height practically to the ceiling. I wonder how many he’s read. As he opened each. Piles of books were everywhere on the desk and the cases were filled to overflowing. all as neat as the first. I don’t know how he has time for all these. Always books.” She led Kudrow through a doorway and several other rooms. every night he comes home.” He added. Come.Page 100 books. that much was for sure. Impressive. Tthese change every week.” “You have him call me if he comes home today. Off the sitting room was a small study furnished with a comfortable chair and large desk. do you expect him home tonight?” “Yes. He will be here. This collection must have taken some time.
Page 101 card. he drove downtown to interview the supervisor and the letter carrier. I’m sorry to have to disturb you with such bad news. This is very important. ‘I promise.’ Then he says ‘I like you. Calderon. Calderon. He hoped he’d never have to do that. ‘I like you. When Kudrow finished at the death scene. “She was thirteen.” Kudrow would be back that evening with Bear to disturb Momma again. “I’d swear to it in court. had overheard a conversation between Stacey and Luis the previous weekend and had reported this after he recognized the girl’s photo that the chief had sent over. Kudrow examined the door as he left. She had phoned because a postal department supervisor reported to him that one of his postmen. First. There was nothing that his department had that could ever go through it.’ 101 .” Kudrow acknowledged as he allowed Momma to lead him toward the front door. Mrs. too.” “A baby. but he didn’t know that at the moment.” “Yes.” “The little girl. “Are you absolutely sure about the conversation?” he asked. In the interim he made the call whose importance had been intoned by Bernice that morning. You’ll do it Monday for sure?’ Then she says. “Thank you. Mrs. how old was she?” asked Momma. one that delivered the route which included the Richards’ home. Everyone must keep away. “Do not have Luis go near where we are working. One would need a fire ax and a bit of time or explosives to gain entry here. I hear Stacey say. He was impressed by the man’s ability to remember the exact words. It was massive.
It had a load of brush and branches loaded on to it and carried a heavy load. right side. The county’s forensic team had taken several hours to go over every inch of the crime scene before Stacey’s body had been removed. noticing 102 . Before they were finished.Page 102 About this time I figure that something wasn’t right here. red around her eyes. but right now he wanted leads that had substance. Kudrow had made his own reconnaissance of the property. Goodyear Radials with highway tread. So I suggest that the Luis character leave. like she’s been crying.” Kudrow thought for a moment. The man would be a powerful witness if indeed Luis were connected with the girl’s death. but you mean a broken taillight lens on the left side?” “Nope. kind of groaned when he took off. That’s all there was. and this one looked promising. Kudrow had thrown the left taillight lens out as a red herring just to see if he could distract the letter carrier or get him to doubt his story. You know.’ She said it like she wanted him to go so I suggested he do just that. He was. too. “I think I know the vehicle.” “What kind of truck?” asked Kudrow. He talked again to the letter carrier’s supervisor and also the Postmaster to see if the man was trustworthy and reliable. Especially since the kid looks all shook up. “An older Dodge one ton. He hoped not. ‘No. He drove off in that old truck. I asked if there was some trouble. Had ten ply tires on it. The man didn’t budge. faded red with a broken taillight lens on the right side. but she says. Luis was just leaving.” he added. Kudrow had also noticed that same taillight lens on several occasions.
then left to meet with Anton Richards and accompany him to the morgue. The explosion of emotions came when he told Richards that there would have to be an autopsy.Page 103 nothing of interest. There were 103 . One set belonged to the victim. carefully chosen arguments before the chief could get him to acknowledge that this would be necessary if they were to have any chance of apprehending her killer or killers. The man was crushed. He still had to book the two felons from the motel. Just preliminary stuff at this time. “This is Chief Kudrow. and showed none of the arrogance he’d earlier displayed. Kudrow began to feel that maybe he had mistaken the man’s haughty demeanor and imperious manner. Kudrow was quite surprised to find a call waiting for him from the county crime lab when he returned. It was a thoroughly lousy afternoon for everyone. Bear had interrogated the two boys whose day off school began the morning’s disclosure and ruled them out. but he was not going to rule them out. too. almost broken. We called you because we got some good prints off the lipsticks. This went well enough. the other to a Luis Levi Calderon living at the address where the body was found according to DMV. but not his. He picked up the call. Chief. humble. County Coroner’s Office. He’ll know more when he’s finished. Against his better judgment. what have you got for me?” “Kevin Morrison. He did his best to prepare Richards for the shock of identification. We checked the other makeup cases and found her prints on them. Chief. He wasn’t sure if they were connected to Stacey’s disappearance or murder. Coroner says the girl was dead at least twelve hours. The man went nearly berserk. It was twenty minutes of calming.
He made a mental note to call Bertram James and thank 104 . and thank you. maybe I can use that for leverage to get him to turn Anthony in for the girl’s rape or murder. okay?” “I’ll do that. I guess I’ll grill my two idiots from the motel. Kudrow. he thought.” “Bernice. Two kids found the stuff in the lot before they found the body. The poor kid had just turned thirteen a few months ago. Kevin. The chief’s men had found the stash of drugs hidden in the spare tire. Does that help you?” “Yes. the conversation. Thanks for the quick response. Coroner wanted you to know that he’s working late on this one and will probably wrap it up quickly.Page 104 some other prints.” Kudrow had enough with the prints. I’m guessing juvenile prints. too. and the body’s location to take Luis in now if he could be found. and one adult print that was smudged. the rest in a couple of days. and then went to get Billy Roy from his holding cell. What a shitty world we live in sometimes.” “Get the bastard. probably male. Worth a try. If not. checked the video cartridge. as he walked back to the room he used for interrogation. He turned on a camera. He’ll give you most of what you need tomorrow morning. He rightly suspected that they belonged to Anthony Moen not Billy Roy Pucy. I probably have a match on the juvenile prints. thank Bill very much for me. thought Kudrow. “Get me the judge on the phone and tell him I’ll be over in a couple of minutes for a search warrant.” he called. Well. We won’t get a match on that one or the juvenile prints most likely. He filled out what he wanted on the warrant and tossed it to Bernice to be typed. He’d take them separately to see if Pucy knew about the drugs. Do it for all of us.
” groused Billy Roy in nasty mood. “Turn around. What’s the charge now. This might go well. This was the political part of Kudrow’s job. He opened the cell for Billy Roy. They do it with an injection now. these duties always came when he was busiest. He liked to keep in contact with people so this was no imposition. You or your buddy. No more gas chamber. you are going for a walk.Page 105 him for his help with the book and let him know what was up before he read it in the papers. impersonating a human being for fifty more years?” “Nope. Undermanned for emergencies.” “Put the bracelets on and let’s get this over with. “Murder. Nevertheless.” He pushed Billy Roy Pucy toward the interrogation room despite his protestations and genuine look of shock. first degree. thought Kudrow. 105 . Ditto for some of the folks he’d called for help with search and rescue. Bozo. his little department just managed the workload during regular times.” said Kudrow in a quiet voice. one of you is going away for good.
Since Luis always tipped. Luis liked the way the waitress treated him. 106 . Race was not an issue. in case he ever had to make another exit like the one he made after shooting the Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms agent. He said he did. As if to underscore his feeling of independence. Well. Luis Torres. She catered to him just as she would to any other customer. he mused. That was a nightmare he didn’t want to relive. he dropped into a tavern by the bank for a drink and a sandwich. firewood sales. giving up the extra taxes in exchange for having an alternate identity. Those deposits gave him some respectability with the Sommersville bank in that his deposits constantly grew in small steps and matched exactly what he had entered in his books from checks and cash payments for which receipts were given. When the sandwich finally arrived it was on a bun but not toasted. and contract labor went into his Bell Canyon account under his real name. I might have to. Luis called her over. which he made in person. He remembered to keep enough out to deposit in his Sommersville accounts. if I drown Richards. Most of the cash from his egg route. Luis did his personal banking in nearby Bell Canyon by depositing cash and a deposit slip in a night drop box. he thought. she had just secured a slightly larger addition to her daily income. He paid taxes separately on each name.Page 106 CHAPTER 12 After opening his account years earlier. there’s time to think about that yet. Unfortunately she returned two more times to ask if Luis wanted that sandwich on a toasted bun.
buddy.” Luis grinned. He watched her move away. Luis held up his hands. He turned to the man next to him. not even close. “Ain’t it just wonderful?” said the one who had not previously spoken. he saw two men at the next table grinning at him. “Never mind that question. “Mister. “No. you?” One man began laughing silently while tears rolled down his cheeks as the other addressed Luis. She smiled again. he noticed her clean toothy smile. I’d think you were being prejudicial toward me?” As she answered. In my case. everything is just fine. He says after work we can do whatever we want. “Yes. I ordered a ham and cheese on a toasted French roll and got pastrami on a plain bun. Boss’ rule. but we are not allowed to get too friendly with our customers while we are on the job. As he turned back.Page 107 “Miss. “I’m not sure what you mean by that word. “Hey.” He. I just won five bucks from this guy next to me who thinks there is such a thing as a law of averages. long legs. Brenda hasn’t got an order straight since she started here last month. that ain’t 'til seven tonight. if I didn’t know better. she get your order straight?” asked one. Is everything okay with your order?” He looked at her blank smiling face and realized that there was nothing behind it that could hold his interest or hers for more than fifteen seconds. Double or nothing and we do this again if we’re 107 . “Why you come here then?” he asked as Brenda drifted by in a white blouse and what looked like a skating skirt over ruffled baby style training pants. too. and big breasts. I understand. thank you. began laughing.” he replied.
She was a dear person who had at first refused the checks he’d leave monthly for the privilege of using her address as his own.” “Thank you. Sooner or later he knew that he would change his lifestyle. You guys have a great afternoon. He stopped to look at his reflection in the window. and camel hair sweater. “I really need to drive a convertible today. Slacks. It was so nice. Luis. so natural. I have a lot to get done today.” he said aloud. She carefully stored all of Luis’ mail and asked no questions. plus I’m afraid I’ll start betting. she gradually came to appreciate then depend upon Luis’ monthly gratuity. too. “You are looking very good today. but no thanks. bet?” His friend nodded and the man who had just spoken turned back to Luis. He somewhat enjoyed baiting the salesmen. leave Sommersville for someplace more tolerant. There were several auto dealerships on the route he took. Luis remembered that he had to make a separate deposit to the investment trust account he had set up at the Bell Canyon branch. After leaving the tavern. Why don’t you run a credit 108 . white long-sleeved shirt. As the social security payments bought less and less. “I really can’t decide between a classic vintage sports car or a new BMW.Page 108 still nursing these beers when she comes by to see how we are doing. He made another stop to check on the aged widow of a friend he’d lost shortly after coming to California.” Luis gave them a nod of acknowledgement and a smile as he left. fellows. He couldn’t do it yet but maybe soon. if I stay here any longer.” he laughed. and so easy here only thirty miles away. He stopped at the first to play a familiar game. “Buy you a beer? I’m going to get it all back and then some in a few minutes.
grounds. It was a moving experience. News spread quickly. A memorial service was scheduled for Saturday and a funeral for the following Wednesday. It was likely that his two felons in custody were not involved with Stacey’s murder despite some inconsistencies in their stories and gaps in their memory relating to the evening of the girl’s murder. then perhaps I’ll take one for a test drive if I have time?” Today he’d just look. Richards protested but grudgingly acceded to Judge Eton’s order. The matter of the small handcuff key still bothered him. Almost 350 attended the memorial service at the small Adventist church where Pastor Dewey Fine officiated. Luis was apprehended as he returned home from Bell Canyon about eight that evening. Kudrow estimated there were over one hundred fifty students in attendance. Chief Blake Kudrow had been able to honestly say that two men were in custody and that further arrests were expected shortly. In Kudrow’s mind. When asked by reporters if any arrests had been made thus far. as there was a lady he needed to meet in a short while. Richards might still be implicated. Kudrow took him to the city jail and booked him for the murder of Stacey Anne Richards. and vehicles of Luis Levi Calderon and Anton Richards. although Kudrow kept silent on that issue. and he wanted to stop and buy some flowers before meeting her. not drive. outbuildings. He explained to Richards that this would be necessary to determine if the suspect under suspicion had visited the Richards’ residence. After advising him of his rights and the charge against him.Page 109 report while I look around. He had asked old Judge Eton to grant warrants allowing a search of the domiciles. even for the chief 109 . Prayers were offered and eulogies given by those who were her teachers and friends.
Page 110 who believed himself hardened to death. I’m sure you understand. Was he home when she was killed? He said he didn’t know when she was killed. As Kudrow left the service. Apparently. Luis awaited the arrival of deputies that were to move him to the county facility where security was better. “A pathological examination has failed to determine the exact cause of death at this time. His conversation with the chief and with Bear had been direct and mostly aboveboard. what can you tell us of the investigation and apprehension of Stacey’s killer? Was she sexually assaulted? How did she die? We understand you have made an arrest already?” The chief chose his words carefully. but he was home all night. Statements made to the press before arraignments lose too many cases. They had asked if he had killed Stacey. When I can tell you more. “We have a man in custody that we believe may have killed Stacey Richards. members of the media and press corps accosted him.” he explained.” In his cell at the city jail. Did he know the girl? Kudrow placed a 110 . Chief Kudrow?” “That is all you get for now. and he said that he had not. but that is it for now. Kudrow had told him that emotions were running very high and that his safety might be at stake in Sommersville. I can tell you nothing of the crime scene as that might jeopardize the case we are preparing and possibly affect the outcome of questions that will be asked of the suspect at a later time. I will be happy to do so. However. “Chief.” “How long was she dead before the body was found. the big city papers and television stations were covering Stacey’s death.
I put that stuff back into that green dresser. he didn’t know her. They appeared to not dwell on his answer but went on to other questions. She was found on his 111 . He did stuff to her.” When they had finished. Now what could he say. I’ll tell you one thing.” Emotion in his voice was evident from the start. I never saw that girl after that. Anton Richards. I didn’t kill that girl. Immediately. Damn it. He could see it in their faces. I didn’t kill that girl. and I told her she had to tell her teacher or talk to a priest right away. Chief. I just talked to her when I was stacking that wood from the tree I cut. only one of us walk out of the room alive. in case you have forgotten?” “They gonna string me up for sure. though. Luis knew he had made a mistake with the chief and Sergeant Bear. “I think we still have to go for the murder charge based on evidence.Page 111 photograph taken from the Richards home before him. he replied. After what seemed like an eternity to Luis. No. Kudrow asked Bear what he thought. Kudrow angrily told him that he knew Luis was holding back and indicated he knew that Luis did know the girl. I never went back again. Won’t be him. you might like to just tell us what really happened? We know you knew the girl. bad stuff. The charge is first degree murder. That poor little girl is dead? You better be talking to that man. and it left some suspicion as to its origin in the minds of the two policemen. “She took me to that pool house and showed me panties and bras and chains her Daddy made her wear. Chief. Chief. She said she’d do that on Monday for sure. That’s all there is. I told her she could make it stop. We know you worked cutting a tree for her father. “Luis. He’s the one that did bad things to that little girl. you put her Daddy in with me.
Chief. will go with. still do. If Luis gets a sharp attorney. We turn it over to the District Attorney and let them take it from there.A. so how do you feel about this whole thing aside from the weight of evidence?” “His emotion seems genuine but could stem from his fear of being caught and realizing he may have to stand trial for murder. “But you turn this Luis guy loose. I trusted your judgment that evening. a mile maybe.” “Okay. we both better find somewhere else to work fast. no more than that?” answered Bear. but his story explains the prints and the clothing items we found. Right now. but there is no 112 . but I also suspect that Luis was attracted to the girl somehow and may have killed her when she resisted his advances. Bear. and you were right on the mark that something was very wrong.” “I suspect that is what the D. Did he make the story up to cover up? Where were the other items he said he saw?” “Where was Anton Richards when he said he was out looking for his daughter? I checked that car. “We have prints and we have an eye-witness account of their conversation. He didn’t go more than a few blocks. I believe he may be right about Richards’ perversion. he may be able to muddy the waters with Richards’ involvement. But what about his anger when we mentioned Richards? You were pretty uneasy about Richards that night.” Bear responded.” “I know that. Bear. He does not have an alibi that can be verified by anyone except a relative and maybe not even then. Luis doesn’t know we have that.Page 112 property. You got that from Anton Richards not Luis Calderon.
“Why does he leave her on his property where she will certainly be found? That leads directly back to him. Chief?” “Well. A father figure?” Kudrow moved his hands expressively. I don’t know. “Luis fills that role then steps over the line in the comfort department so Stacey pushes him away.” “But rape?” “That’s a tough call. Richards is crafty enough to wipe his prints off something while Luis is probably not that devious. There are no witnesses to support Luis at this point whereas Richards has an ironclad alibi. neglected and possibly abused by her father. “ responded Bear. a young girl seeks comfort of an older male. he has phone calls logged in and out for hours. He was working late and others saw him. I know the District Attorney’s people will say that he did. Then they’ll say that he hit her again so she wouldn’t tell. She has taken a route through his property. Richards’ prints are not on any items and Luis’ are.” “I like it except for one or two things. She fights back so he strikes her. Additionally.Page 113 corroboration. Why not put her in that old Dodge and move her somewhere else? Why leave all those clothes scattered around the property like advertising? He’d have to be panicked or very dumb to do that then go off the next day to the library as if nothing had happened?” “And you don’t believe he is dumb or panicked?” “No. He attempts to hold on to her.” “So what do you think. perhaps meeting him at the Hacienda several times over the past few weeks. either mentally or physically or both.” 113 .
The U. “Sorry it had to end like this.” “They were mostly violations of Federal Codes. and has put us all on with his ‘Step-and-Fetch-It’ act. Neither can any of the other agencies. We have to go with that.” “Thanks. or passion gone wrong followed by a blow to the head and panic.” answered Kudrow. The prosecution is going to say he lured her there to kill her so it may come down to murder one versus murder two.” Bear smiled back at the grave-looking man across from him. I think Luis is the best we have for now. Marshall can’t be bothered. I think we have done what we can. They’ll do some time.” said Kudrow. “Luis is careful.S. but the last one is going to be about the best I can do at this point. maybe the only ones left at this point. “Which do you like?” “None of them really. Boss.” “Those being?” asked Bear. Bear. although we can keep digging for additional evidence as time permits. Congratulations to you for getting the bad guys at the gun shop.” “What do you mean? You had those guys on enough charges to put them away for years. I want to thank you for following through on your hunch that Wednesday evening. We’ll nail them both for 114 . “Insanity. temporary insanity.” “Not really.Page 114 “Neither do I. I want her killer to pay a stiff price for his actions. There is a lot more to him than people imagine. smart. doesn’t vary his routine much. There are several possibilities that his defense attorney may seize on.
I’m more tired than hungry though.” 115 . I think I’ll just hang it up for tonight and see you in the morning.Page 115 parole violations and get Anthony Moen drug charges. Bear. Chief. unless it is an offender they want .” “Thanks again for your hard work. Politicians write all those laws nationally just to get votes then leave enforcement up to city and state police and our court system. “See you tomorrow. those laws give them the power to really throw the book at them.in that case.” the chief called as Sergeant Bear moved toward the door. You have dinner yet?” “No. Feds want us to bust them on local charges. but they’ll be back out again soon.
” Luis was nudged and quickly rose. this was a quieting factor. Luis began to wonder about the confusion of the last several days. the rat-a-tat-tat ended in a whimper as they entered the carpeted courtroom of Judge Felix Eton. It reminded him of masses he’d spent as a boy. an ode to his incarceration). His thoughts were interrupted quickly by a sonorous voice. was sterile and lifeless. As they again sat. like all those that went to make up city offices.” His 116 . You are similarly charged with…(the voice went on. when Judge Eton entered in his black robe. The sound drummed on as if it would lead to a clash of cymbals or be followed by a trumpet fanfare. He could see white walls and granite-gray floors buffed to a high finish. He was led to a table on his left and helped to sit. Each footfall that he and others sounded.Page 116 CHAPTER 13 It was raining lightly as Luis was moved from the County Jail to a cell at Sommersville’s Police Department. The surroundings upset him. as they wound their way into the corridor. To Luis. “You are charged with the murder of Stacey Ann Richards. as he was not a person who spent his life confined by concrete and glass or tucked into an enclosure. as did everyone else. He stood. The building. The manacles were still firmly fastened to hold his hands and attached to others on his feet by a chain. echoed in emptiness. “The defendant will stand and move forward. It rained heavier still when he was brought from there into the building that housed the Justice Court under heavy police guard. They occasionally looked at him. Instead. looking away quickly when he returned their glances. He watched as people came and went and spoke in whispers that he could not decipher.
It was just this feeling of helplessness that he again felt as he heard the remainder of charges being read for the record. your plea?” 117 . Mr. the tree snagged him by the shirt with the broken stub of a branch. He was alive and without broken bones but badly mauled.” yelled Luis as he dropped his saw and sprinted to what he hoped was safety. to provisionally represent him on the condition that Cooper investigate Luis’ financial situation so the court could determine if a public defender was warranted in the event Luis rejected Cooper’s counsel. He was caught in the legal machinery of the justice system. Calderon?” asked Judge Eton. Luis for the first time realized the enormity of what was taking place. “Luis. As if it were alive. Luis began a frightening ride downhill. It was Cooper that now whispered. His arms bore some scars from that experience. Just for a moment. bumping over rocks and dirt and scraped by Manzanita and Huckleberry until he bled with hundreds of tiny cuts. Frank Cooper. not from fear but with quiet anger at the injustice that was now being played before a packed courtroom. He planned to stay close to the base until he could judge the tree’s direction with certainty and then move quickly away. The tree’s long trunk began to tip with agonizing slowness. At that moment a strong gust of wind hit the tree and then another.Page 117 hands trembled. “How do you plead. The tree began to spin. The court had allowed an attorney. He heard the tree hit and then a limb behind him swept him off his feet as the tree began to slide downhill. Impaled. he recalled cutting a dead Douglas Fir on a steep hillside overlooking the town several years earlier. He was turned loose just as the tree’s base tipped sharply upward before resuming its downward plunge. “Damn.
odd jobs.” “If the court please.” 118 . and delivering eggs locally from his own hens to townsfolk.” began Cooper. Cooper. Is the prosecution ready?” asked Judge Eton of the several men in gray suits quietly whispering. All reside at the same address on Barcelona Avenue. Mr. Do you have anything further to add?” “May I have a moment with my client. and his sister. Currently none are on welfare. and his tax returns for the last several years appear to be in agreement with his business records. Mr. Frank Cooper rose before they answered and the judge acknowledged him. Mr. The deed is registered to his mother. Calderon is the sole support for his mother. you are hereby appointed as attorney of record for the client. he cannot afford private counsel given his family’s situation and current savings. Should Mr. Calderon deals on a cash only basis with his customers but keeps good financial records. “Certainly. Your Honor.Page 118 “I plead not guilty. I accept the appointment and have discussed my client’s rights with him.” “Very well. Calderon face continued or lengthy incarceration his family will undoubtedly be forced onto welfare roles. He has a small bank account in Sommersville but no other assets except for tools and his truck. Likewise. who is retarded. Calderon. He fully understands the charges against him and agrees to waive further arraignment. Mrs. Mr. He makes his living through selling wood. “Your Honor. Calderon. please?” asked Frank Cooper. “Mr. Cooper. He pays taxes regularly and on time. two elderly relatives.
especially when Cooper suggested that a date for a preliminary hearing be set immediately.” Eton scowled openly and gave a look to Jim Bonnano that might have flamed a marshmallow at thirty feet. “Mr. and the prosecution would like to suggest that the Attorney General be brought in to try this for The People. The attorney of record for The People may be recognized at that time. now.” They did and Eton unloaded in his professional undertone. He sent them back to their respective tables and announced.” 119 . “With agreement from both attorneys a preliminary hearing will be held next Thursday. “What in hell are you trying to do here Bonnano?” He already knew the biggest problem. “And the defense’s position. Bonnano?” Eton looked at the prosecution’s table. at ten-thirty a. in this courtroom. “there are some special problems with this case. November 21.” muttered Eton. Bonnano would be running for public office soon and didn’t want to get his reputation tarnished in the event this wasn’t an open and shut case. here?” “Your Honor.” Judge Eton liked the man’s style to the same degree he abhorred his opponent’s.” said Bonnano rising. “Both attorneys will approach the bench. “Your Honor. Eton listened to Bonnano’s arguments then turned to Cooper.Page 119 “So noted.m. we don’t care if they bring in the Attorney General himself to try this case.
Page 120 Jim Bonnano rose to object. and that will be our plea. He had asked Frank Cooper to please not have Momma present for the proceedings. and Frank had taken care to see that Momma. and at that table. we 120 . in my courtroom. “Mr. was kept away from the press for now. On the day mentioned and at the time mentioned. He hadn’t had much time alone with Luis. He certainly didn’t want Luis to speak to the press at this time. maybe not at all. He fielded the first of many questions saying. an uncontrolled and perhaps uncontrollable element. He had also cautioned her not to talk to anyone on the phone or in person.” “Mr. Is that understood?” Mr. it has. We would be amenable to any date in December for which the calendar is open. Bonnano.” “Good. “Yes. Calderon is remanded to further custody while bail is denied due to the seriousness of the offenses. The People can hardly make its arrangements by that early date. you and your entire entourage will be in this building. Flashes from photographer’s cameras erupted as Luis made the passage from courthouse to the car. “Your Honor. Frank Cooper instinctively interjected himself between reporters and his client.” All stood as Judge Eton rose and made his way from the courtroom. Calderon is not guilty based upon what I now know. Luis felt very small and very alone as he was led in cuffs to the waiting police car under close escort. Calderon to trial on the aforementioned charges?” “Yes. Your Honor. has The People decided to bring Mr.” He then answered another.
which moments before had witnessed the brief question and answer session. he and his family are parishioners in our local Catholic diocese and have been for many years. and a man with no criminal record. You are going to see that the citizens of Sommersville will not let his color or background interfere with justice. Moreover. a local businessman. He really doesn’t understand why they are charging him with this terrible crime. He has never been in court and doesn’t understand these proceedings. a man with a job. The man is a little overwhelmed. already upset by the events that had taken place since last Thursday. Frank Cooper waited then smiled. I don’t either. “Look. This is a religious man.Page 121 had considered a change of venue. but we have to balance things out here. That is one of the first things that came to mind. respected by those who have done business with him. Several teleprompters had been set up in a way that allowed them not to be seen by a camera that was now focused on a young Asian newswoman standing slightly to one side of the steps with the name Sommersville plainly visible behind her. I believe a terrible mistake has been made in his arrest and incarceration. Gwen Lissner. he is not confused or dazed or anything like what you are hinting at. A 121 .” Happy with their sound bites.” To still another question. I suppose. paused to collect her thoughts and then watched the Channel 4 News Team assemble back on the steps. the flock of journalists and television personalities went off in various directions. a man with a family. a man who pays taxes. but he is also quite well known. He is a minority person in a town made up largely of white people. Frankly. That is all for today if you don’t mind. None of you would either if you hadn’t been here before.
Newswoman: “Tell me Mr.” Gwen was somewhat confused by the whole episode. After a few false starts. do you believe your client can get a fair trial in this town?” The camera panned Cooper and Luis. The mystery was quickly resolved when Gwen turned on the local news at 6 P.” Newswoman: “Your client appears bewildered. Several times Gwen heard her say. Does he understand what is happening?” Cooper: Newswoman: Cooper: “The man is a little overwhelmed. Cooper: “He is a minority person in a town made up largely of white people. Cooper.M. especially since she didn’t recall seeing the woman ask any questions during the time Luis was led from the court building to the car and because there was no one there beside her when she held out the microphone.” “Can you tell me if he has had problems before? “He’s quite well known.Page 122 young pinched-faced man seemed to be orchestrating the filming as he continually motioned to men holding cameras and lights while he placed handwritten cue cards before a camera that displayed them on the teleprompter screen. I suppose. “Thank you Mr. the young newswoman spoke into the mike and then held the microphone toward the steps at arm’s length.” 122 . Cooper. The process was repeated a number of times. Mr.” and “Just one more question. Cooper.
news that evening. Frank Cooper in the morning. Now back to you at News Central. By the following Thursday. After his visit with Gwen Lissner the next morning. Luis couldn’t eat at all despite being hungry.M. “So that’s how it going to be. made a note on her calendar to pay a call to Mr.M. There was little he could do to stop vivid news photos showing Stacey’s memorial and burial or Sergeant Bear carrying evidence from the death scene. The daily news coverage never again reached the degree of irresponsibility that was displayed by the Channel Four-News team.” she said bitterly. and said he would consider not taking this to their network affiliate if he received a complete unedited tape of the original broadcasts and the two corrections by 5:00 P. the next afternoon. Eventually she calmed herself and sobbed quietly in anger and resignation. knocking a table lamp off its perch. “May God damn you all.Page 123 Newswoman: “Thank you Mr. There were other shots in black and white showing the coroner’s team moving Stacey’s body into an ambulance. He planned to use the television film to support charges of bias and change of venue if it came to that.M. She threw several pillows in different directions. and 11:00 P. Each morning and each evening there were additional photos and rewrites of evidence already in the public record. and made a mess of microwaving a chicken potpie. Frank Cooper’s call to Channel Four’s News Editor had been scalding.” She called a friend. but sensationalism was rampant in town. reserved for the 123 . Jim. Cooper. He received corrections on the 6:00 P.” Gwen screamed and stomped her feet and then screamed some more.
He then began again. He could see a camera crew hurrying toward them even as Cooper recognized the infamous Channel Four-News team. and you know that.Page 124 preliminary hearing. only the lack of elephants and a brass band differentiated the courthouse from a big top tent. You have no interest in presenting full and fair evidence but only evidence unfavorable to my client and favorable to the prosecution. “Good morning gentlemen. Cooper.” countered Cooper. catching Bonnano before he could mouth a television newsbyte. waiting until the camera crews were on top of them.” He was lecturing the 124 . Frank Cooper had acted with dispatch and leaked word that he would ask Judge Eton to close the hearing to the public.” Frank Cooper parried before Bonnano could find the words he needed. that the evidence presented in a preliminary hearing is done to establish reasonable cause to hold a defendant to answer charges in the Superior Court. Even Kudrow had begun to enjoy some of the hoopla that the arrest had kicked off. Mr. “You don’t seem to understand. “I respectfully disagree because.” he said as he looked to see if there were television cameras nearby. as he had just ascertained that the little guy was passing up county positions for a possible state office. He met Bonnano and Cooper in the hallway just before ten o’clock and chuckled as he saw Jim Bonnano’s angry face. The people of this state have the right to be present at these proceedings. are we plea bargaining already?” “You seem upset counselor. “I thought you were going to take this to the Grand Jury for an indictment?” “I never said anything of the sort. Kudrow laughed to himself. Jim Bonnano.
” Still glaring.” “You are a man of the law. You know that. and we have chosen not to go to a Grand Jury indictment because we feel that the people of this state deserve the right to hear the evidence with their own ears. We represent the people of this state. Jim. Bonnano walked into the courtroom.Page 125 District Attorney for the benefit of the cameras and they were not missing any of it. he heard Frank Cooper’s motion under Section 868 of the California Penal Code and saw Judge Eton order the courtroom cleared. For these reasons my intention will be to ask Judge Eton to place a gag order on the evidence in accordance with provisions of the penal code. there were few secrets in the court building. Two minutes after the hearing began. Judge Eton had been aware of developments long before he saw the two attorneys standing before him yet managed to look surprised. and that with the benefit of widespread publicity? You know it was counselor. may see widespread prejudice develop because only the prosecution’s evidence is given. “And was not that law written specifically to protect a client like Luis Calderon who. and well-respected. Does not the law make it mandatory for Judge Eton to bar the public if requested to do so by counsel for the defense?” He went on without a pause. That is our job. Bonnano had become red in the face and waged a vicious counteract on his own. “That’s what we do. Fifty-six people. in the interim between preliminary hearing and trial in a county and town as small as this. including nearly twenty newspersons from local and 125 .
an African-American named LeShawn Marquette. Kudrow noticed that Cooper had brought in an outsider from the Oakland area. Eton reiterated his order.Page 126 network television stations along with five newspaper reporters. he felt that Bonnano was a clever. which was the prevailing opinion in the county. but the man learned from his mistakes and grew craftier and more experienced from each battle. Bonnano wouldn’t forget that. Kudrow did not view him as pompous little stuff-shirt with a Napoleonic complex. Marquette was previously able to do well with big city juries. “Only those persons directly or closely connected with this case and specified in lists by the attorneys for the prosecution and the defense will be allowed to remain in this courtroom. as payback time would come eventually. Kudrow knew Cooper needed to watch his flanks. Instead. he called Judge Eton. were ushered out into the foggy drizzle. He knew that he wasn’t a public defender. how he would fare in this town was anyone’s guess. and he wouldn’t overlook it either.” As the crowd cleared. and they genuinely enjoyed the few days each year they spent 126 . He had done some checking without bothering to go through Jim Bonnano. Kudrow knew a little about him. dangerous little man who would use anyone to further his own ends. Blake Kudrow had also been interested in Cooper’s appointment. He had watched him bumble years earlier. The two had hunted upland birds together for close to thirty years now. Unable to find out much more on his own. Cooper had given him a sound thrashing in front of the cameras when Jim had tried to gather a little publicity earlier. In fact he hated to even be in the same room with him.
As he looked around. he instead asked to have Frank Cooper visit him. Eton was guarded and professional in his response. according to Felix Eton. the nine witnesses summoned were sworn in and ushered to a room away from the court proper until they could be called for questioning. Good to have friends like that. After a brief visit he officially called Frank to be his attorney. Cooper disclosed to Eton that an unnamed benefactor had arranged to pay legal fees but Cooper would serve pro bono. 127 . Eton admitted that he asked him why a sane man with a growing practice would take such a case. thought Kudrow.Page 127 together. Cooper’s reply. It seems that although Luis could ask for public assistance. was I’m doing it for a friend.
He testified as to the location of items found in close proximity to the body including clothing and makeup. Tracy’s body was found under a pile of brush on the Hacienda’s property several yards from a stand of acacias. “Would you tell the court what Tracy said to you at school on Tuesday before her disappearance the following day?” he asked.Page 128 CHAPTER 14 The first witness to be called was Sergeant Bear. The next witnesses to be called were the two boys who actually found the body. “Let them know that they will be held in contempt if they continue.” Frank Cooper wanted it noted for the record that the reporters and others who had been cleared from the courtroom were peeking in over the high windows on the west wall.” rasped Eton. “I won’t put up with any of that nonsense. Yes. Judge Eton asked the bailiff to send two uniformed policemen outside to warn the onlookers that they were in violation of a judge’s order when they attempted to look into the courtroom. and they admitted handling the articles of clothing and makeup. There were no challenges.” As Frank Cooper conferred with LeShawn Marquette.C. 128 . they had not touched the body but had run to a neighbor’s home across the street to report what they had found. Photographs were introduced and marked as exhibits. He had no idea that with his next several witnesses. who described the murder scene. No. Jim Bonnano was about to exact his retribution for Frank’s earlier comments. he paused to note two classmates of Tracy about to be called to the stand. Also admitted to evidence and tagged was a gas can found near the body that bore the initials “L.
did she act normally?” “No. “No. Her friend. She kept saying she had to see her counselor about some problem she had. and Frank Cooper strode toward the witness box to question Macy. Did Stacey act unusual in any way by your estimation during the week before her disappearance?” continued Bonnano. that you are under oath?” She shook her head. “Did she tell you about their conversation or mention anything else?” Bonnano asked. This was something else. she just said that he was really nice.” Bonnano closed his questioning. “How then? What did she do or say that wasn’t ordinary or normal?” pressed Bonnano.” replied Macy.Page 129 “She said she had met a really nice black man.” “What was the problem. Your Honor. I don’t think it was about school because we always talk about school stuff. she wasn’t acting normal. Miss Billings?” “I don’t know. “Well.” The defense chose to waive questioning as Alicia Davenport left the stand. “What do you mean?” asked the girl. No further questions at this time. 129 .” “Thank you. that’s all.” replied the first witness. She didn’t really say. took the same seat. “You recall. Macy Billings. Miss Davenport. “She was nervous and fidgety on Monday and Tuesday for sure. “Good. Miss Billings.
” “Thank you Miss Davenport. Miss Davenport?” “Dark.” “And my client. Marquette stand up (he motioned LeShawn up) so you may look at him. I guess. The postman seated himself in the witness box and faced the District Attorney. Bonnano next called Arnie Drucker to the stand. that will be all for now.” Frank Cooper recalled Alicia to the stand and asked her. she didn’t say his name.” “I am going to have my co-counsel.” “Do you see him sitting there at the defense table?” “Yes. “No. Calderon. I didn’t pay much attention.” “Miss Davenport. I do.Page 130 “You don’t know what she was nervous about? She never told you?” asked Cooper. Bonnano couldn’t conceal a smirk as Frank made eye contact with him on the way back to the defense table. he is lighter. Sir. I really don’t know. is he the same color? “No. as scanty as it was. How would you describe his color. “Did Stacey mention the name of the black man she said she had met?” “No. did you know that the defendant is both Hispanic and Black?” “No. Mr.” concluded Cooper. He had exercised some damage control but the girl’s testimony. Mr. might cast a cloud on Luis’ defense. With devastating 130 .
that is exactly what she said. he did.” Arnie pointed to the expressionless face of Luis Calderon while Frank Cooper felt his fortitude withering with every question and answer.Page 131 clarity.’” “Mr. has identified the defendant. that the witness. Luis Calderon. Bonnano had laid another trap for Cooper.” “Could that mean meeting Luis?” asked Bonnano. Drucker. did Mr. He knew that Frank would probably wade right in and challenge the veracity and accuracy of this witness. ‘I like you. “Sustained. somewhat angrily. “The clerk will strike the last question. Calderon respond?” asked Bonnano. Arnie Drucker.” “Let me ask you again what it was exactly that Stacey said to Luis Calderon on Saturday preceding her disappearance?” asked Bonnano.’” “I see. “Arnie took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Let the record show. It was done so cleverly in pre- 131 . “And is that man she spoke to in this courtroom today. too.” Jim Bonnano returned to his seat with a self-satisfied air. “Yes. She was promising him that she’d do it Monday for sure. Drucker?” “Yes.” said Jim Bonnano. please. he’s sitting right there. “Objection. the man recalled verbatim the conversation he had overheard between Stacey and Luis in the Richards’ yard. “’I like you.” Eton ruled.” said Cooper. as the man to whom Stacey spoke. Mr. “Yes. He said. “She said. And he had coached Arnie to respond truthfully but clearly on a few points if questioned.
“Why were you eavesdropping. Then I really didn’t like it. Drucker. “was pressing her pretty close. and one of them had. you were outside on a day when there was a ten mile an hour wind blowing and cars going by from time to time. It looked like the girl had been crying and this guy. Your Honor. how can you be so sure of what was said?” “I’m sure because I was standing right behind him a couple of feet. Mr.Page 132 hearing examinations that even Arnie Drucker didn’t realize he was being set up to provide a mortar blast at the defense. He knew that there had been several complaints of a minor nature on record about Drucker’s nosiness. “I could see something was wrong between those two. I assume. to sneak up behind people and listen to what they have to say?” queried Cooper. “Mr. Yet.” he again pointed at Luis. the witness is not qualified to make that assessment?” 132 . These had all been dismissed without but still were worth exploring if he could establish that they involved minorities. This guy was trying to hit on her. and he knew from experience not to go after the man’s record or Bonnano would have him up on the stand in uniform.” answered Drucker. Drucker. Frank Cooper chose his words carefully. I didn’t like the look of things so I came up quiet-like and listened. instead of delivering letters? Is it your custom to pry into conversations.” “Move to strike. Cooper never got a chance to go down that road as Drucker quickly responded. you are absolutely sure of the victim’s and defendant’s words. He had to discredit this witness somehow.
He passed on cross-examination and watched Bonnano call Chief Blake Kudrow to the stand. he’d seen it in Kudrow’s face in the hallway. He realized it could be devastating if Drucker’s allegations about Luis liking to talk to women were common knowledge. one of 133 . Mr. Your Honor?” “Granted.” “Did you ever see my client and Stacey Richards together at any other time?” “No. and Frank Cooper made his way back to the defense table smarting from what had been an unpleasant cross examination of the prosecution’s witness. but I heard he kind of liked talking to women. As Bonnano began to question Kudrow about fingerprints on a piece of make-up found at the scene. Your Honor. Sir. Do you understand. Cooper already sensed the tension between Chief Kudrow and the District Attorney. Drucker?” “Yes. He listened to Jim Bonnano artfully question the policeman about a blood-spattered bag found at the scene that belonged to Stacey Richards. Perhaps there was some way he could use that. the witness will confine himself to facts and answering the questions without interjecting his opinion. and he would have to prepare for that eventuality.” “Move to strike as hearsay.Page 133 “Granted.” “No further questions of the witness.” Drucker was excused. Certainly someone would come forward during the trial phase. The lipstick. The clerk will strike the last sentence. the jury will disregard it. a plan began to form in Cooper’s mind.” replied Judge Eton. Sergeant Bear was recalled to testify before Cooper reached his seat.
where on the property the lipstick was found and estimate how far it was from the body?” “Yes. When Bonnano finished. Chief. 134 . please do so. you might well be qualified as an expert in these matters. “may I use that flip-chart since the photographs do not give an aerial view of the entire area?” “Of course. the stand of acacias. and the area where undergarments and cosmetics were scattered. you have a long and distinguished history of law enforcement.” encouraged Cooper. certainly.” “Chief Kudrow. “And the prints on that lipstick were those of the two boys and my client.” replied the Chief. Luis Calderon?” “Yes. Would that be an accurate assessment in your opinion?” asked Cooper. and reputation for honesty and accuracy. there was another lipstick there at the scene. Chief. again. are you satisfied that the fingerprinting of the lipstick mentioned by the District Attorney was accurate and reliable?” “Yes. Cooper rose and approached Chief Kudrow. had Luis’ fingerprints and also those of the two youngsters who found the body. Are you also sure about that one?” “I am. experience.” replied Kudrow. Kudrow quickly sketched the position of the house on the property. Because of your knowledge.Page 134 two found. “Chief Kudrow. “Can you show us. I’m sure about that.” “Chief. the body.
Page 135 “Your Honor. Will the prosecution also accept the chief’s testimony in regards to the reliability of the lab reports and all the information contained therein?" Bonnano could feel a deep hole opening in front of him. “the prosecution does not see how Chief Kudrow’s history as a law enforcement officer has much to do with the accuracy of a lab report that was prepared by the County’s Forensic Team in their laboratory. turning to face Judge Eton. but do not try the court’s patience too long in making your point. Chief Kudrow. Mr.” “If the court will allow. the prosecution requests a brief recess to confer with staff on this point?” “You may take five minutes. “The statement is accurate. “Proceed. but that couldn’t be helped. Cooper. He was sorry it had to happen in a capital case.” Judge Eton was beginning to take some private delight in watching these two men attempt to lay snares for each other. Chief Kudrow will you please answer the last question by the counsel for the defense?” advised Eton with one eyebrow raised as he fixed Cooper with a stare. I am satisfied.” “Very well. “the defense simply wished to officially acknowledge the Chief of Police’s ability to judge the accuracy of evidence based on his history and experience. He also knew both attorneys had underestimated the chief. We accept his credentials and will be pleased to accord him the status of an ‘expert witness’ if the prosecution will also acknowledge and accede to that?” When they did. Mr. Judge Eton continued.” said Cooper. Their sparing 135 . “Your Honor.” spoke up Jim Bonnano. Bonnano.
Bonnano could be seen on the very edge of his chair. Nevertheless. “So be it. not the one you previously reported on. the second a bright red gloss.” “Can you say that they were both in the weeds about the same length of time before being found?” 136 . as he saw it. hands like talons on the prosecution’s table.” thought Eton. unable to see any obvious perils and wishing to maintain the credibility of their witness. formally agreed to Cooper’s request. Bonnano and his team. closing the door to his chambers and discharging a blast that would have cleared the courtroom all by itself. His role. Chief. Is that correct?” “It is. and (if he could use these five minutes in chambers to privately relieve a gas attack building in his lower intestine) might even be tolerable. The first was Revlon.” “Was the lipstick bearing her prints and the one bearing Luis’ the same brand?” “No. The second was Estee’ Lauder.Page 136 could be interesting.” “Were they similar in color?” “No. He already knew this case was headed for Superior Court. the first one was a deep red-black. Stacey Richards’ prints were on that other lipstick. was to make sure legal protocol was followed without exception. Upon reconvening. “Now. as he watched Cooper approach Kudrow.
Calderon and Luis Calderon have called to complain about this for several years? “Yes.” answered Kudrow. Chief? Have you ever seen my client engaged in cleaning up refuse in that corner of the property?” Kudrow remembered responding to one of Momma’s calls and recalled having seen Luis loading household items and refuse into the back of his old Dodge truck.” replied the chief. Chief Kudrow?” “That would be up to the residents of the property. I believe that is so. is it not also a fact that your own police records show that Mrs.” “Could you be more specific. “Is it not common knowledge that the corner of the Hacienda’s property closest to where the cosmetics and underwear were found is used as an illegal dump by the town’s residents? In fact has been used as such for many years?” Kudrow acknowledged this and Cooper went on. “Chief.” “Would it be possible in your expert opinion for Luis Calderon to have at some time picked up and dropped a lipstick from refuse he had gathered and for the two boys to have added their prints at a later time?” 137 . He shifted his position in the stand to have a better look at Bonnano’s face as Cooper prepared his next foray. I have seen Luis Calderon doing just that on one occasion.Page 137 “There is no way to say for sure. “Yes. “And who cleans this up. smiling inwardly since he already sensed where Cooper was going with this. He judged that Cooper somehow had come by that report and probably had it sitting on his clipboard even as he asked the question.
Page 138 “Yes. “He could have had it in his pocket and dropped it. Is that so?” Bonnano was growing disturbed as this was the next area he wished to present. a smudged set.” “Just one more thing if you please. Chief. I believe that is one possible explanation. The coroner’s report indicated that the body had a number of bruises consistent with what might occur were a body dragged over rough ground.” “Then based on fingerprint evidence alone it cannot be ascertained with certainty that Luis Calderon was present at this location at the same time as Stacey Richards. and here was Cooper slipping in ahead of him to steal the show.” replied the chief. also watching Bonnano. was there not another set of prints. there were no bruises on her forearms nor were there scrapings from her nails to indicating she tried to put up a defense. “or at the time of the murder. “I believe that is a plausible contention.” Cooper moved a little to one side where he could also watch Bonnano’s reaction.” “In fact.” answered Kudrow. and probably that of an adult not a child?” “That is correct. Yet. “He could have picked up that lipstick that didn’t match the other in type or manufacture at some earlier time when loading his truck with trash that neighbors had dumped?” “I can’t say that he wasn’t there. unidentifiable. on that same lipstick that held Luis’ print? Was it not smudged. 138 . Chief.” he pointed at the point where the body was found.
the lab report was inconclusive on one point.” shouted Bonnano. “Mr.” said Judge Eton. in your expert experience. had been raped.” Cooper turned to the witness. It was unclear from the report whether the girl. “Then it is irrelevant as to whether Luis’ prints were on a lipstick that cannot be determined to have belonged to the victim since the body was moved to that place from somewhere else?” “Objection. Cooper?” “Withdrawn.” The judge looked at the defense. 139 . yet my client was charged with that offense. Your Honor. Perhaps you could clear that up for the court.” “Would you say. “the clerk will strike the last question. You Honor. “This is all a matter of record in the lab report. we are straying from the area of fingerprints wherein we acknowledged the expert testimony of Chief Kudrow?” “Denied. “Chief Kudrow. Your Honor. Can you tell us why the lab report.” Jim Bonnano was out of his seat now and standing. “That calls for a conclusion by…” “Sustained.” stated Judge Eton. was unclear on that issue?” “Objection.” continued Cooper. You opened that door yourself when you granted expert status on material contained therein.Page 139 “Objection. “that Stacey Richards was killed somewhere else and dragged to the point where her body was found?” “I believe that to be a tenable conclusion based upon the report.” answered Kudrow. Stacey Richards.
have you ever come across an incident where a victim’s clothes have been folded and neatly stacked?” pressed Cooper.Page 140 “Overruled. have you ever investigated incidents of murder during your career as a police officer?” “Yes. sit down please counsel. “Aside from anything on the lab report. “Never. Chief Kudrow.” said Cooper. but it remains unclear as to how far the attacker went. “And in any of those times past. many times. 140 . the lab report was conclusive as to the cause of death but not as to some other matters.” replied Kudrow.” “The initial charge of rape was instituted because the girl was found unclothed and the sleeve of her jacket was torn and she had an abrasion on her left shoulder. This was clearly a sexual assault. This mark was the same width as her bra strap and it appeared that this was what had caused the mark and it was forcibly removed.” answered Kudrow.” replied the chief.” “I see. pretending to be deep in thought. “You may answer the question. “ barked Eton. Chief Kudrow. The lab report indicated that further tests needed to be performed to ascertain whether there was penetration or if hair or semen were left behind. not even once. “The victim’s blood?” “Yes. Chief Kudrow. in short. “Can you tell me about her clothes again? How were they found?” “They were all neatly folded and placed one item on top of another on the ground and were splattered with blood.
The remainder of that afternoon and the next morning were spent gathering additional testimony that the prosecution hoped would make an arraignment in Superior Court an easy choice for Judge Eton. There was a photograph of a branch from a Monterey Pine approximately two and one-half inches thick and several feet long that was identified as the probable murder weapon. There was his gas can that was found near the pile of brush. White butcher paper had been stretched across the courtroom windows. it became evident that Judge Eton was serious in his injunction to keep this preliminary hearing private. moreover. checking the credentials of every person who sought entry. The prosecution could assert that Luis had planned to burn the brush and body together. Luis had 141 . and the odor had permeated Stacey’s book bag. It seemed as if the sheer number of seemingly incidental things that transpired in the course of Luis’ routine now conspired to move him closer to a waiting abyss.m. Some traces of gasoline were found on the brush pile. It matched those branches in the brush pile that Luis wanted to burn after rains had removed the fire danger from the property.Page 141 “No further questions. A very determined deputy was stationed outside between the windows and reporters while another stood guard beside the courtroom doors.” The court declared a recess after this first session of an hour forty-five minutes and announced it would reconvene after lunch. It had just been found and had been sent to the County Forensic Team where they would type the blood and tissue samples. which was still in her left hand. Later. at 1:30 p. as the parties began to file back into court. Your Honor.
This was to ask that the transcripts from the preliminary hearing be sealed until the Superior Court jury was empanelled.m. 142 .m. “Was the prosecution ready to proceed?” he asked. Neither had lost a capital case in five years.m. Seven days later Jim Bonnano announced that Fischer Stevens from the Attorney General’s office would be trying the case for the prosecution. Cooper was unable to find any witness that actually placed Luis elsewhere during the period from 5:00 p. Judge Eton remanded Luis to Superior Court for arraignment. Judge Arthur Blankenship from Superior Court was appointed to hear the case. Yet..Page 142 stopped by the Fire Department to get a burn permit the morning following the murder. When the preliminary hearing concluded on Friday at 1l: 45 a. noting that Luis’ arraignment by law must be within fifteen days. This would be a problem for the defense. The postman’s testimony that he had seen Luis on Guadaloupe Avenue and Luis’ admission that he sometimes stopped there were damning. the time frame for Stacey’s death. Cooper made a motion that was neither opposed nor supported by Bonnano before Blankenship.. Cooper understood Bonnano was seeking to establish that Luis had opportunity to commit the crime. Blankenship read the preliminary transcripts and granted the motion. Arthur DeVries would assist him. Frank Cooper conferred with Marquette and agreed when the latter suggested they act quickly to handle the media. The remaining witnesses on Friday morning were called by the prosecution and testified to Luis’ and Stacey’s schedules on Monday through Wednesday. until 7:00 p.
she was not one to let others lose heart. If there was one task about which Gwen could complain. made connections. crippled Gwen that attended public functions. 143 . attended high school events. It slowed her down. resilience. It was a quiet. she made a decision to assist Luis Calderon whatever the cost to her. it was combing her hair. There was simply too much of it. Luis Calderon. and once committed. and determination. An accident. She arose.’ By arrangement with its editor. Gwen did not make decisions casually. and creatively reorganized her mind on the fly before most public speakers had finished their presentations. read every newspaper (even the free throwaways). she signed her letters with a pseudonym to protect her job as a public servant. More importantly. a small Phoenix. she was not one to lose heart. to first contact Frank Cooper and then assist the man she considered her friend. and wrote encouraging letters those who took courageous stands on public issues. which years ago had crippled her physically and almost taken her life. had also given her new direction and purpose. Gwen was one who could be present yet remained unobserved while she absorbed information. Gwen usually sat unnoticed in the back row or to one side near a public address system speaker without making a fuss. and did.Page 143 CHAPTER 15 Gwen had been in agony from the moment she had seen the Channel 4 newscast. with energy. Familiar with injustice and the recipient of many invisible bruises from government agencies and private insurers. She was a constant critic and often published contributor to the local newspaper’s ‘Let The Public Speak.
with her familiar voice and hands.” She pulled the ribbon and resumed combing. Then and only then would they risk Luis’ appearance and inevitable grilling by the prosecution. After several frustrating sessions Gwen. she was once again the quiet. “Maybe if I were prettier?” she wondered. When she exited the bathroom. There were times he wouldn’t talk with them at all. twelve days after leaving Sommersville Justice Court as Luis stepped into the courtroom of Judge Arthur Blankenship. yet. 144 . Only Gwen. Second. “and it accents my hearing aids. He had listened to the instructions from his lawyers and encouragement from Gwen. First. Two developments occurred simultaneously over the next fourteen days. “I’m not ready for that. The chief question that divided them was whether to let Luis take the stand or not? It was decided that he would not do so unless Frank and LeShawn felt the case was in jeopardy. Luis began a descent into a state wherein he sometimes seemed irrational and at other times nearly comatose. seemed able to get through to him. He talked with his attorneys but didn’t always make sense. and LeShawn Marquette repaired to a local coffee shop to discuss defense strategies.” she said. yet. “No good. efficient assistant librarian that everyone knew and really didn’t know at all. Frank Cooper. and then laughed aloud.” she thought.Page 144 especially in the morning. he looked around and took no cheer from what he saw. A magazine cutout of Sineaid O’Conner hung on her wall next to her mirror. led by Stevens and DeVries. She then closed the medicine door cabinet after replacing her brush on its shelf and with that closed the door to any personal indulgences. She tied it quickly up with a ribbon and did a slow pirouette before the mirror. although the simplicity appealed to her.
A trial date looked to be a month to six weeks away at best. As the selection of jury members took place over the next day and a half. 145 . Instead. January was cold and rainy almost without let up. but he would not have to account for Stacey Richards. Time wore slowly on. and Esmeralda. These moments often concluded abruptly when he remembered Anton Richards. He may have to stand before God and explain why he had drowned a man in the river between Texas and Mexico in the heat of anger or why he had shot the ATF agent. Superior Court calendars are often backlogged. Christmas came and went. He didn’t even think often of Momma. Jorge. he remembered pleasant Thursday mornings spent with Gwen and the relaxation he found when reading about faraway things and distant places. He decided that even if it were his last act on earth. and he knew that he could do little about it. Dina. His lawyers mistook his calm for confidence and mistook his sudden interest for alertness as they began their fight for his freedom. Luis did the best he could. thought Luis. In the interim. Momma and Gwen (who believed him innocent). He saw Momma on several occasions and Gwen almost daily. he would see Anton Richards in hell ahead of him. He had remnants of his faith from childhood. Luis began to think no longer of the events of his arrest or trial. he felt Richards was ultimately responsible for what happened to Stacey. and better legal assistance than one could reasonably expect.Page 145 he suspected there would not be a good ending to this process. One way or the other. Certainly he’s bound for hell. Knowing this gave him surprising peace. He guessed he would be found guilty.
Her clothes had been forcibly removed. The second blow came when she was in a prone position and caused immediate and massive brain hemorrhaging. but it did little to help Luis. said that Stacey Richards had not been raped or molested at the time of her death. Upon returning to his cell that evening after court. he again closed his eyes and lay quietly for a 146 . as there was still the matter of intercourse as recently as the Monday preceding her death. probably prior to her death as they were splattered with blood but not soaked. The charge against Luis was reduced to sexual assault. It was established that the first blow. Dr. The pathologist who examined her could not say which was the more likely.Page 146 It wasn’t until late January that his trial finally began on a Monday that began clear and sunny. could have been caused by a deliberate blow to the head or could have been the result of a fall. Reginald Owens. He refused to eat and instead slept for almost twelve hours. perhaps within the last several days before her death. Judge Blankenship admonished the twelve regular and four alternate jurors not to talk about the case or about the guilt or innocence of the defendant until the trial concluded. Upon waking. Luis once again experienced tiredness and helplessness. Luis and Momma took it as a sign. Two important facts were developed during the morning session. The charge of rape was dropped because the Pathologist. It was this second wound on her skull that matched exactly the piece of pine branch with its telltale tissue samples. but no semen was found nor were the usual signs of severe vaginal trauma present. the one that had dazed Stacey. Reducing the rape charge lessened the emotional impact of the prosecution’s case. She had engaged in sexual intercourse recently.
As Tia Esmeralda and Tio Jorge were here illegally. There was a high school boy around the corner that Luis hired on several occasions who could do this for Momma. LeShawn Marquette called on him at 8:45 a. eggs. to get some references of people for whom he had worked that might testify to his ethics and reliability. and handstands. The rest of the day was unscheduled since his next court appearance wasn’t until Wednesday. they would have to remain unmentioned to the authorities. but that was something Momma could manage. push-ups. In that period. Oddly. between Monday morning and Wednesday morning. The garden and chickens would supply her with fresh produce. They needed water regularly. he worried about his chickens and whether they would get enough care in his absence. Luis came to grips with his dilemma. He knew Momma would manage without him. so he asked Marquette if he would also take care of that.Page 147 time on the hard pad that served as a mattress for his bunk. sit-ups. Momma could probably chop kindling for her cook stove and fuel for the woodstoves that heated their apartments. These he counted using little 147 . but he didn’t want her to do so. He set a routine for himself as he emerged from the shock and subsequent depression of his arrest and incarceration. His goats had to be milked. If she were to strain her back or injure herself. there would be no one to help and care for the others. and they needed their eggs collected. and meat. Each morning he arose early and began pull-ups (against the vertical bars). Their fencing needed to be checked for holes that might let a raccoon or neighborhood dog into the compound.m. Luis asked and received assurance from Marquette that a social worker would help Momma and Dina apply for county assistance.
and determined as he prepared himself for court on Wednesday morning. The shackles would be a problem. and who was paying attention to what as they moved through the jail complex to a waiting bus with bars. After working out. once more mistaking Luis’ energy for a positive attitude. as he had been the previous week. The routine was repeated at intervals throughout the day and night. “I’m fine. he counted the steps along the corridor. for his part. 148 . I’m just preparing myself for a day in court. was looking forward to seeing Anton Richards in court. Frank arrived with a suit. shirt. he would rest a while and then rise to go through stretching exercises for almost as long as he had worked out. He also noticed how many guards accompanied them. the courthouse. He was invigorated. Luis smiled at him. where they stood. fresh. He would make eye contact. He would let Anton know that he knew what Richards had done to his daughter. He repeated his observations at their destination. Just as he had calculated the fall of trees or estimated the cubic yards of refuse he had hauled.Page 148 balls of cotton that he coaxed from the mattress’ pad. what doors were nearby.” And Luis did just that. don’t worry about me. Each little ball was ten repetitions. We’ll see which of us looks away first. As they wound their way to the small room from which they would emerge into the courtroom to avoid photographers and newspapermen. sensing that Luis might again become unmanageable. he now determined the number of steps to each door and the position of each policeman. Luis. socks. he thought. and shoes for Luis’ appearance. In between times he slept or tried to sleep. “Are you okay?” asked Cooper. often dropping off into little fifteen-minute catnaps. boss.
after recalling the many books and library salvage sale items that made up Luis’ collection. but hadn’t seen her face. The testimony and presentation of evidence went as it had in the preliminary hearing with insignificant changes. There could be a clue in his reading selections. a neighbor who lived three blocks from the Hacienda on the route probably taken by Stacey. the ever-observant letter carrier. and he knew he should keep out of the case at this point. on the evening of the killing. He noticed that most of the deputies carried handcuffs in leather cases on their belts. it might help the prosecution. Arnie Drucker. Kudrow noted her presence. She was Luis’ mentor and guide. They would all be on the library computer. He didn’t wish to aggravate open wounds. Gwen with her trim figure and without her glasses was still an 149 . perhaps on a day when Gwen wasn’t there. He vowed to at least check to satisfy his own curiosity. much as he noted everything else that went on. Throughout the trial Gwen Lissner sat several rows back with a younger woman and signed to her as each question was asked and each answer given. It came to him later that evening. There were a few surprises. On the other hand.m. He supposed that the smaller pouches held keys.m.Page 149 and he resolved to deal with that. He wondered if there was more to their relationship than books? They weren’t more than a couple of years apart. his job was finished. George Seider. and wondered why she was so interested in this particular trial. reported that he had seen Luis’ truck parked several blocks from the Hacienda at 5:20 p. He was not mistaken. If there were some prurient interests recorded there. He had missed that one. reported that he had seen a girl matching her description around 5:35 p.
Cooper asked Luis if indeed he had parked several blocks from his house that evening and if so. There is a nice view from there. Luis.m. We are not doing well enough at this point to take any risks. I sometimes park up on Guadaloupe Avenue for a few minutes at the end of my day. he called Gwen to set up a meeting for the three of them at lunch. who has the same transcripts. I often stop to enter mileage in my record book. is staying away from this. The trial was set to convene at 1:30 p. other times I listen to music on the radio or plan my work for the next day. During a break that morning. “This guy is either very much for real or he is one hell of an actor. After discussing the options with Marquette.Page 150 attractive woman at forty-three despite her limping gait. He had seen the transcripts from Kudrow’s interrogation of Luis and had previously talked to him about the inadvisability of trying to cast blame on the grieving father. why? “No. Kudrow had noted that on at least two previous occasions. and he wanted everything in place. That didn’t help at all as it putting Luis in the general area about the time of the crime. Don’t blow the case for us. I just don’t recall. Even the prosecution. we are not doing well. Worse. I don’t know. I could have been there. but I may have.” Cooper grimaced. Either way. It was after lunch when Cooper said to Luis. we lose more than we can ever gain if we make accusations we cannot substantiate.. Moreover. Like I said in the preliminary hearing. I don’t recall doing that. it made it seem as if he might have stalked the girl. period. Cooper had noticed that Luis was staring very hard at Anton Richards on several occasions. We had a strategy worked out and also a fall back 150 .
Marquette?” The attorney didn’t answer.” continued Marquette. “I have defended a lot of inner-city people and people of different ethnic backgrounds. “and we have to get you on the stand. “Do you want them to get up on the stand and testify?” “That’s the general idea. don’t you.” “Work with me here. where you would have to take the stand and testify. Marquette?” “I want you to answer Steven’s questions in the manner that we talked about when we discussed this possibility. 151 .” responded Marquette.” offered Marquette.Page 151 plan.” “Good luck. Proving to the jury that you have a lifestyle similar to theirs breaks down prejudice. we discussed this at some length during lunch.” replied Luis. assuming they are presentable. There is a big risk here. Do you remember?” “Of course. “Well. Luis. Is there a lady or two who could testify to the normal quality of your sex life without bringing up any kinky habits?” “You get right to the point. if it came to that.” “What do you want. one who would never commit an act of this sort. We have to let the jury see you not as a shadowy figure who only does odd jobs but rather someone just like them. Our goal is demonstrate that you are an ordinary person with deep ties to the community. It would also help to show that you have an active love life and didn’t need to molest young girls.
but lay off Anton Richards. Do you want their husbands to testify as well?” “Shit. the courtroom again filled with onlookers as Judge Blankenship gaveled proceedings to order. Luis took a brief look at the packed courtroom.” A few gasps and a ripple of conversation ensued. all right?” “Okay. 152 . We would like to call Luis Levi Calderon to the stand. The younger woman sitting next to her watched her not him. “Yes. After lunch. I couldn’t do that to them. I believe I stopped twice that day. but that information would be written down in my vehicle log book. We’re not going to do that. One has a couple of kids. As he began to speak she signed.Page 152 “They are.” Luis grudgingly agreed but still managed make eye contact one more time with Richards. Calderon. Blankenship rapped his gavel for order.” “Exactly. then told how he had eaten and set off to work that day cutting up a prune orchard scheduled for development. Go with the plan we discussed. The mileage is also there. “Mr.” answered Luis. occasionally signing back. that doesn’t help at all. Your Honor. Luis?” Luis looked again at the crowd in the courtroom where his eyes quickly found Gwen in the second row aisle seat. They are both classy and good-looking. can you tell the court about the sequence of your day on the Wednesday Stacey was murdered?” asked Frank Cooper. “Did you stop anywhere to get any gas for your saws or truck. That’s poison. stopping momentarily to fix Richards with his eyes. “Is the defense ready?” “Yes.
“The mileage shown in your log matches exactly the mileage from your home to the prune orchard and back if one were to take the shortest possible route. If I make a mistake I just put a line through it and make a correct entry next to it. “Mr. except for a Spanish inflection. The defense would like to enter this as evidence.” “Why?” “I don’t know.” “Do you make all your entries in ink in your log book?” “Yes.” “What time did you arrive home that day?” “Approximately 5:15. Is that correct?” “Is which correct?” asked Luis.Page 153 His voice was clear and strong and showed little connection to his southern rural boyhood. it does not appear that you took anything less than the most direct route. maybe a little earlier. “Did you take the shortest possible route on the day Stacey was killed?” asked counsel. “Yes.” “Did you stop anywhere?” “No. They are easier to read that way. certainly not the extra mileage to have put you on Guadeloupe Avenue as was indicated by a witness. Moreover there are no erasures in your book and the entries are in ink. Calderon. Calderon. did you kill Stacey Richards?” 153 . please.” Cooper said as he handed the book to the court officer.” “Mr.
Luis answered clearly and to the point.m. his mind began to search for someway to compensate for this turn. no fool. I took a long. have you ever been arrested?” “No. I checked the chickens’ water and gave them some feed. who was no longer the attorney for this case. Even before Cooper proceeded.” “Did you have a watch or did you look at a clock?” “No. hot shower. Bonnano. Bonnano.” 154 . Calderon?” “I can’t be sure.Page 154 “No. I cleaned my saws and put my equipment away.m. Calderon.” “What time was that.” “How do you know what the time was?” “I watched the 6 o’clock evening news right after that.” Again. and he whispered something to Arthur DeVries who passed it on to Fischer Stevens.” “Mr. after that. “What did you do when you got home?” “I did as I usually do. watched with alertness and focus as Cooper continued. Mr. I fed the goats and made sure they were in their pen for the night. but I suppose it was almost 6 p. knew he had severely underestimated the man on trial and possibly his defense counsels. Supper is always at seven p. sir. This was certainly not the confused handyman and woodcutter he had expected. I washed up and I went upstairs.” I usually read a little before supper. I have never been arrested.” “Did you then eat supper?” “No.
days when supper is late or maybe a little early.” “Did you go back outside after watching the evening news and showering?” “No.” “And after that did you at any time go outside?” queried Cooper. Mr.” “Did you see or hear anything that might suggest that a crime was taking place on the property?” “No.m.m.” “After your supper what did you do.” “Not ever?” “Once. I suppose when the clocks in the house were off because of daylight savings time. Calderon.” “Thank you. no further questions.?” “I am not aware of any such days. That was the only time.m.” “What time was it when you finished?” “I don’t know for sure. say 6:45 p. or perhaps 7:30 p. Mr.” 155 . I read for about twenty minutes. Calderon?” “Do? I did the dishes and helped Momma with some boxes she wanted brought up from the basement. Then I folded and put away my clothes that Momma had laundered and fixed a faucet on the sink that was leaking in the bathroom. Certainly there are some days when that is not true. then brought up some wood and kindling from the basement so Momma wouldn’t have to do that. My best guess is about 8:30 p.Page 155 “I see. “No. I didn’t hear anything suspicious. Just that once. I read for several hours then went to sleep.
there wasn’t any of that wood.m. maybe ten feet each. Calderon.” There was a chuckle from some of the locals in attendance. who was staring right at him. “No. Mr. I believe I was down there for a couple of minutes only. You don’t want to track dirt into the house with Momma around. and that was about 6:45 p.” “Yet you cut some on the property to put on a burn pile?” “No. Sir. and finally to the prosecuting attorney.” “Is there a side door to the basement that leads out into the property in the direction of the grove of acacias?” asked Fischer Stevens. I fed the cats some scraps.” “Did you open that door at any time that evening.m. “Yes. Calderon?” “I suppose I did. They have a food dish out there. That would be big trouble. encouragingly. Mr.Page 156 Fischer Stevens was up immediately to cross-examine. “The wood you brought up to burn. I came in that way with my chain saws from the carport after work so I wouldn’t track grease or dirt into the house. That made it a lot easier to drag them. so I cut them in half.?” Luis didn’t answer directly but looked as if he were thinking as he rolled his eyes toward Gwen. I dragged some limbs that had broken off in a storm. was there any Monterey Pine in your woodpile?” “No.” 156 . I didn’t cut any short pieces. A couple of limbs were pretty long.m. but that was after supper. “So you were down in the basement between 6:00 p. and 7:00 p. there is.
almost defiant tone. Calderon?” “What exactly are you asking?” Stevens was a professional but had hadn’t liked Luis’ quick. I certainly don’t. How do you explain that?” “I don’t explain it. There’s about three acres total. I never saw a piece like that.” answered Luis. He was more than ready for a scrap with this unschooled. Calderon?” “Yes. I wouldn’t do that to someone else’s property. Mr.” “It was on your property?” “I have broken pickets from a picket fence on my property and lots of beverage bottles that I have to clean up from time to time. prompting a quick gavel by Judge Blankenship. perhaps thirty-three inches in length. “Do you recognize the person in this photo. Some people dump their refuse there. “I believe you know exactly what kind of relationship I am referring to. I didn’t throw stuff on my own property. who hid 157 . Did you have a relationship with this girl?” “I don’t believe anyone in this courtroom knows what you mean. I don’t know why people think they can do that on our property?” He showed Luis a photo of Stacey Richards taken the previous spring. scruffy man in a suit.” The light laughter that had surfaced after Luis’ previous answer now erupted into a roar.Page 157 “The piece of limb that killed Stacey Richards was cut at one end and broken at the other. Mr. “Did you have a relationship with this girl. Calderon. Mr. that is the same photo that Chief Kudrow and Sergeant Bear showed to me when they took me down to the station and questioned me.
I only know 158 .” “Yet. the period of time you say you were at home. a romantic relationship with this girl?” Stevens blustered. I can’t say because I really didn’t know when she was killed. Calderon. yet you can’t tell me you were home when she was killed?” Luis was suddenly at ease again. “Please.m. When he didn’t continue. Stevens then moved so that his back was to the jury making Luis face him as he answered. I don’t know when she was killed so I don’t know if I was home at that time. I told you earlier that Stacey was killed between 5:00 p. now visibly red in the face and angry. Cooper and LeShawn Marquette watched nervously. “No. He knew Luis was guilty and Fischer wanted the jury to see Luis’ face as he foundered with these questions.Page 158 his grin by placing a fist against his mouth in a poor imitation of Rodin’s The Thinker.m. as Luis remained mute. “No. a boy-girl relationship. and it showed in his face and his answer. and 7:00 p. “Which?” asked Luis. Mr. “Any of them?” Stevens practically shouted.. “You asked me if I knew when that poor little girl was killed and if I was home then.” Stevens thought Luis was going to continue and so stopped and waited while Luis glanced casually around the courtroom. the question is very simple. “Did you have a sexual relationship. Stevens began to pace slightly right then left. you admit you were home when she was killed?” returned Stevens.
but I told you when she was killed. and Luis was allowed to stand down. not quieting until Judge Blankenship rapping his gavel threatened to clear the court if there was another outburst. Mr. “I believe that is what they call hearsay since I got that from you. once again a victim of his own questions. “Very well.” replied Luis.” Stevens. 159 . not firsthand. was still not about to lose face. Calderon. that is not right.” With this the court erupted in laughter and derision. Stevens asked the court for a brief recess while he conferred with his team.Page 159 when I was home. Is that right?” “No. Sir. “What would you call it then?” asked Stevens belligerently. and you were home during that period. and I think you got it from someone else.
wave to people as you pass by?” “Yes. but she couldn’t say if it was Wednesday or Tuesday? Stevens. thought Stevens. Once more he answered carefully and with surprisingly good choice of words. The clerk remembered seeing Luis. nevertheless. he bought gas at the Shell station that morning. in his audience seat.” Kudrow. only a couple of gallons of regular. Calderon. “I wave to everyone who waves at me. still stung from his previous interchange with Luis felt he had. “Mr. Yes.” answered Luis. he again bought gas on his return from work. With Luis on the stand. made some points with the jury by placing Luis at home at the time of the murder. Lack of response meant the person was a stranger or preoccupied or just plain rude. He had cash receipts. the trial was far from concluded. Well. Stevens recalled Luis to the stand and asked about his activities on the day Stacey was killed. but the date on the receipt from Billie’s was not legible due to a printing problem at the station. enough to get him to the prune orchard where he was to work. this was on Stacey’s route home. he had a witness who indicated Luis had been parked on Guadaloupe.Page 160 CHAPTER 16 After about five minutes. That nicety of a wave had quietly slipped away without anyone noticing over the years. 160 . It was a courtesy and commonplace. do you ever wave to anyone as they drive by or. Stevens now approached him cagily. conversely. reflected that this had always been the custom before the town grew too big. Moreover. I am always in a happy mood like that. This time he stopped at Billie’s Gas-O-Mat to fill his tank. Yes.
” “You lied about that. “In your pretrial statement to police you told the officers that you didn’t know this girl when they asked you?” He held up Stacey’s photo. that was the truth. spoke up Cooper. too?” “No. “No. who she was.” Stevens had used the wave as an excuse for his next group of questions and endeavored to link Luis’ name and Stacey’s in the same sentence whenever possible.” “How do you explain that the police found no trace of any of the objects you described at the pool house yet found items like those you described on your property after the murder?” “I don’t know. “that calls for a conclusion by the witness?” 161 . Is that correct?” “Yes.” “Were the garments and devices found the same ones as you contend you had in your possession in the pool house?” “Objection. I never did. I can’t explain that. Your Honor. “You later admitted that you did know who she is. You also admitted that you were in the pool house alone with her and saw undergarments and devices similar if not the same as those later found near her body.Page 161 “Did you ever wave at Stacey as you drove by?” pressed Stevens. I only saw her that one time. Excuse me. Did you lie about that.
He looked up at Blankenship.” said Luis. Cooper and Marquette were worried as Luis looked in their direction for some assurance or clue to answering. “Can’t you answer that question. Cooper. “No. “God knows what. and turned so he could address the jury directly. I don’t remember the question.” “Then your memory is clear on the events of that afternoon?” “Yes. “That’s the problem. Calderon? Is that what you said?” 162 .” “In your statement. Cooper wanted him to shut up. “The recorder will recite the last question. the witness seems able to discern and make judgments about more difficult issues than the issue currently before the court. Stevens immediately stepped between them. He didn’t want this kind of question played and replayed for the jury. “The witness will please answer the question. I didn’t lie. Mr.” intoned Blankenship while Cooper cringed. please. threateningly close to Luis. The question was restated.” said Judge Blankenship. Is that correct?” asked Fischer Stevens? “She had been in there with her father doing God knows what?” responded Luis angrily.Page 162 “Overruled. Mr. Calderon? Is there a problem with that question?” Luis appeared unclear and confused as he looked about.” opined Blankenship. but this was not his hand to play. you said she exited the pool house dressed cheaply in a short skirt and blouse with her lipstick smeared. Luis said nothing. Mr.
Mr.” “Hardly the words of a man who would abuse his own daughter. Mr. like you suggested previously.” “Then you don’t know what? Do you?” “She told me what that man did. Calderon. One more issue. you memory has been so good today. Calderon.” “Were those his exact words. “What did Mr. did Stacey have pretty legs?” “Objection. Calderon?” He waited until he was sure the jury got the connection with the previous fiasco then plunged on. Richards say when he came out of the pool house and saw you?” “He asked me what the hell I was doin’ there. 163 . Mr.” shouted Cooper.” said Luis. “Wouldn’t that be hearsay.Page 163 “Yes.” “Don’t suppose. what did he say?” asked Stevens. yes or no?” “Yes. Are you changing that now?” “No. Mr. “I don’t recall.” “When you told him. “Come now. Stevens remained cool and in control.” he pointed angrily at Anton Richards as gasps were heard in the courtroom. that was your testimony to the police when questioned. Calderon. Did he not say that he was opposed to that kind of dressing up and that no child of his was going do dress that way?” “I suppose.
both men returned to their tables. Stevens arose and said. Mr.” answered Luis.Page 164 “Overruled. He only knew that if he answered truthfully. He was asked to stand down. Luis shrugged and said. He took a long time to answer while Stevens patiently waited. Cooper was close to experiencing apoplexy. If he were caught in another lie.” Stevens stared and Luis could see a flicker of disappointment on his face. Stevens asked if he and the defense counsel could approach the bench. “In the course of your employment have you ever told another customer that she had pretty legs?” Luis was sick inside. a cat about to pounce when the moment was right. I can’t say when or where because I really can’t recall. it would further undermine his case. He had done that several times to patrons on his egg route. and he was close to an angry outburst. He had taken liberties occasionally with stay at home wives who also enjoyed the casual flirtation. “At some time in my life I suppose I have. “No further questions at this time. However. “I suppose she did. He wasn’t sure if Stevens knew this but suspected that he did. the witness will answer. watch it here.” Luis let out a long controlled breath. I will permit this only as it relates to the testimony previously given or the state of mind of the parties during this encounter. Stevens would make him out to be a predator. He could see where this was going. 164 . Stevens.” Stevens repeated the question. Your Honor. Finally. After a brief discussion.
Sommersville was more 165 .m. at which time the members of the jury will be transported by bus to the Hacienda property. He closed his eyes. would you see that someone arranges to let the occupants know of our visit and also see that bystanders are kept away? Please see if we can get some decent transportation this time. Your Honor. Bailiff. please. “If it please the court. Stevens?” asked Judge Blankenship.Page 165 “The prosecution requests a visit to the crime scene to better orient ourselves to the places depicted in the photos introduced into evidence?” “When do you propose this. Get something without bars on the windows. but one could say you have ugly legs and that was rude but not damning. The man had been up here for a conference and wanted to see the country. He wondered about all the little innuendoes. He thought again about waving to people and remembered a time when he had been given the duty of escorting a visiting police commissioner from Los Angeles through his jurisdiction. this afternoon.m. I will ride with the jury. Court is adjourned until 1:00 p. Mr. we favor this afternoon?” “The court declares a recess until 1:00 p. wondered if together they would add up to a conviction or acquittal? He thought about Luis telling a lady that she had pretty legs.” Luis was returned to his cell where his earlier despondency began to come back to him. too tired by the morning’s events to even exercise or eat. One can’t do that anymore in most cases. Kudrow watched the entire procession file out. and I will not be transported in that wreck the county uses to move prisoners to and from the Honor Farm.
The man waved back as was the custom.” replied Kudrow. Elva’s cousin. Kudrow filled in one fictitious history after another. and he headed back to Sommersville for whatever the café was serving. Richards had already lost a daughter. “That’s Ed. 166 . Perhaps that terrible experience might effect change in his life? Not his problem. He had no respect for Richards. You just never know about people. was fairly impressed with himself and Kudrow soon grew tired of his company. although he actually knew a great number of those to whom he waved. Kudrow waved back. What a mess he was in now. The man. a man on a tractor. He rolled down his window and waved at the next fellow. “that is was Jimmy Davis. That was the most real thing he’d seen in the entire trial. “Do you know that fellow?” asked the commissioner. his former wife who had not even attended the funeral. there might be more trouble. He now watched Luis led out in manacles and shook his head at the man. He hadn’t missed the anger in Luis’ eyes for Anton Richards. whose name he had forgotten.” And so it went one person after another until the commissioner was in awe. troublesome images plagued him. There was Richard’s strangeness. As he drove. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for Kudrow and made a trying afternoon entertaining. Kudrow’s problem right now was lunch. He farms 160 acres and leases another 80 across the valley. “Sure. he thought.Page 166 agricultural then than it now was. When a car passed and the driver waved. Were the jury to find Luis not guilty.” This brief interruption to the commissioner’s monologue gave the chief an idea. but he couldn’t let the man be victimized again. works down at the feedlot.
and he believed Luis’ recall of his routine that evening made perfect sense. a mysterious fingerprint. He still thought that Luis might have killed Stacey. yet he didn’t know why and that bothered him. He couldn’t say why. but he believed Luis when he said he hadn’t cut that limb. 167 . and the club used to kill Stacey. Blake Kudrow was not a man that tolerated loose ends.Page 167 conflict in evidence.
CHAPTER 17 The following Monday, Stevens told the jurors that it was difficult to imagine a set of facts that showed more deliberate malice than this case. He spoke of the pretty, young girl, just into her teens, bludgeoned and left to die alone in a field under a pile of brush. He spoke, too, of a grieving father, Anton Richards, so disconsolate and distraught that he could barely attend the trial and often had to leave in the middle of testimony. He went on to say, “We will probably never know precisely what happened here (he held aloft a photo of the death scene), but we are sure beyond any reasonable doubt that this man, Luis Calderon, killed this girl, Stacey Richards, and that he did it with premeditation and without remorse. Let me reconstruct for you the events leading to her death on that fateful day.” he continued, “Stacey walked home across the Hacienda property, probably taking the shortcut because she had stayed late at school. There Stacey met Luis Calderon, Luis the dark-skinned man about whom she had spoken with her friends, Luis, who had asked her if she would ‘…do it Monday for sure?’ Luis waited for her, knowing her route. Luis parked on Guadaloupe Avenue to watch for her as she walked home. Perhaps he told her she had pretty legs. He may have suggested that she try on some clothes that would make her look real pretty, clothes that he had ready nearby. We don’t know for sure. We do know that her jacket sleeve was torn. Perhaps she tried to pull away as he grabbed her and then was struck by a limb. We know that she was hit on the side of her head hard enough to knock her to the ground. In any case, Luis pulled her by her feet and dragged her to the place where she was later found and began
removing her clothes. With forethought, he removed each piece and folded it neatly beside her body on the ground. Her bra was ripped off, leaving a mark on her shoulder. Perhaps she came to her senses for a moment? Maybe she called his name or pleaded with him. He knew he couldn’t let her go; she would certainly tell her father or the authorities. His life, as he knew it, would certainly come to an abrupt change, and he would be thrown in prison. Then with the utmost malice, he picked up the club, with which he probably struck her the first time, and delivered a crushing blow to her head. He then covered her with brush that he intended to burn on Friday morning. He had the burn permit on him when arrested. He left her there to die of her wounds hastened by exposure to the cold and chill of the night air.” Stevens strode back and forth in front of the jury where he could see the tears in some eyes and the hurt or anger in others. He went on, “This event was planned from the outset. I call your attention to the clothes, which Luis Calderon scattered around the property; these were the clothes he so accurately described and tried to make us think they were from the Richards’ pool house. I call your attention to the club, a piece of pine limb, that Luis Calderon had earlier cut and probably broke to the length needed as he waited for Stacey’s arrival. He had it close at hand, close enough to reach out and grab and smash that young girl’s head. All of this accomplished methodically and within the time frame that Luis Calderon admitted allowed him several trips to the basement and its side door to the property. A crime committed by a man with regular habits who kept careful records of his travels, a man who knew how to plan and how to manage his time.”
Stevens waited for his words to sink in then went on, “What did Mr. Calderon do then? Did he show remorse? Call the police? Attempt to help poor dying Stacey Richards? Nothing of the sort. He moved the gas can near the brush pile, scattered the tawdry clothes and other sexual items to make little Stacey look like a tramp, and went in to eat a pleasant supper with his family.” Stevens now moved to the table that held the exhibits. “Callously he sat in his warm house while Stacey was outside dying. Callously and with malice he smashed her skull. Callously he left her to die alone. Callously he went about his routine that night and the next morning as if nothing evil had happened. But we know. We know what he did was horrible and also deliberate. He stalked her. He planned her assault in case things didn’t go as he wished. He was prepared to destroy the evidence of his crime by burning Stacey’s body with his brush pile. He neatly folded and stacked her clothes as he stripped her on that cold evening. What could be more deliberate, more premeditated?” Stevens now held up his exhibits beginning with a photo, one showing the right side of her head crushed. Blood covered her delicate face, and the crushed bones made it almost unthinkable that this was the same girl pictured in a school photograph previously introduced. “This is the action of a murderer, a man who deserves no mercy at your hands as he showed no mercy to her.” He held up oneby-one Stacey’s book, stained with blood, a photo of her memorial service, and her photo from school. Each was shown to the jury as he said, “This is a homework assignment that will never be completed; these are friends Stacey will never see again in this life; this is a life that will never be lived.” He waited until
audience gasps subsided and waited a little longer. “You have a choice, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. That choice is to find Luis Calderon guilty of murder in the first degree or to turn him loose so he can kill another innocent young girl. The choice is solely yours. I believe you’ll make the right choice. Thank you.” Frank Cooper and LeShawn Marquette stared at each other wordlessly and in consternation. Each knew what the other was thinking; they had discussed this previously. Further discussion was not needed. They had decided that if Luis could not be proved innocent, they must try to raise doubt in the mind of the jurors and hope for acquittal or a sentence less than murder in the first degree. Marquette nodded his assent as Cooper rose to give his summation. He spoke with great conviction as he told the jurors that when trying a human being for such a vile thing as murder, jurors must be absolutely certain of guilt. He hoped they would not be swayed by their emotions. He told them that emotions were powerful but easily led to clouded judgment. “Who among you has not reacted in anger at sometime and reacted wrongly? We all have, have we not? And the same can be said for decisions made in great sorrow or shock. Yet emotions can help us when we harness them to logic.” He went on to point out to the jurors that there was no motive for murder in the case before them. “There is, moreover, no anger, no desperation, no wronged lovers, no alcohol, and no fear. Luis Calderon, my client, met young Stacey but once, saw something was greatly wrong, and urged her to get help as soon as possible. ‘Will you do it Monday for sure?’ he asked because he wanted her to seek counseling. He never had further contact with her again. Logic says this is not a deviant, a criminal, and a killer because
Luis is a man with close ties to the community, a man who selflessly took care of his aging mother, a sister, an aunt, and an uncle. He is a man with no criminal record; he does not even a traffic ticket on his record. He is a man who has never demonstrated a violent act against anyone in this community. His vices include reading lots of books from the public library, watching the evening news on television, and puttering with his old truck. He arrived home, tired. He cleaned up his equipment, did chores, showered, watched the news, ate, and did more chores before reading and going to bed. Charging him with this crime just because it happened on his property is as ludicrous.” Cooper walked back and forth as if in thought. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. A crime has been committed in this community. If you find Luis Calderon guilty, you will be committing another one. We all mourn the death of this young girl. It grabs at our hearts and terrifies us because that body could be our child, our niece, our neighbor, or a close friend. But anyone looking at Luis’ life would have to challenge the prosecution’s arguments. There is simply too much to doubt about everything. Luis had no reason. The prosecution would have you believe that since he had regular habits and was careful, he was also capable of planning an assault down to the split second. They have taken his virtues and made them into something evil. It seems to me that he is the kind of person we want in this community. He is kind, caring, owns his own business, supports his family, and is probably more law abiding than you and I in his driving habits. It hurts me deeply that the prosecution would attempt to take a
There is no opportunity. “Ladies and gentlemen let us use a little logic to cast doubt on the prosecution’s argument. I would have my own doubts right now. It requires a tremendous stretch of imagination to think that Luis Calderon or anyone could have performed cold-blooded murder. The prosecution would have us believe that he was going to burn her up in a pile of limbs soaked with gasoline. moved the body and covered it.” He paused again before shifting into his next argument. It just doesn’t make sense. Each of you during the last two weeks must have had many occasions to doubt this allegation or that allegation. The elements normally present in a case of murder are conspicuously lacking.Page 173 life led responsibly and make it into something evil. They claim he laid in wait for her. The time frame is too tight. although he didn’t know her route. What have we come to as a society when a person can no longer return a friendly wave without being considered a pervert and a murderer? Are we that insecure?” “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury the prosecution’s case does not rest on facts. The prosecution would even have you believe that because Luis waves at people who wave to him that he is a sexual predator. those doubts are overwhelming. you know. It just isn’t right. If I were the prosecution. Why was there no gasoline on the body? There was none. We have doubts and we have discrepancies. removed 173 . How could that be? Remember she took a shortcut? He could not have known her route or even that she was even coming since she got a detention that day and had to stay late. He couldn’t possibly have known about that could he? Just doesn’t make sense. We all have. But put all together. It rests on supposition and doubt.
We have no witnesses. I call upon you now to exercise that good judgment without being swayed by the sheer emotional impact of some of the exhibits. I remind you. Please do not take away a man’s life. When you retire to deliberate on the evidence and testimony that you have seen and heard you have an awesome responsibility. and sprinkled undergarments for a false trail in between the normal routines of a tired workman waiting for his supper. need not prove Luis Calderon innocent. but the prosecution must prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Those are the key words. That is the criteria by which all such cases are judged. You cannot convict where there is reasonable doubt. We ask you to return a verdict that is fair and unbiased. But I must also tell you that motive tends to point away from my client. Examine the prosecution’s arguments and you’ll see they appeal to your emotions not your logic. Their strength is dependent upon juries all over our country who exercise good judgment. One usually has witnesses in a murder case to either tell about seeing the crime or talk about the accused person’s frame of mind leading up to the event. “I can tell you that as a practicing attorney the existence of a motive is not necessary for a first or even a second degree conviction.Page 174 and folded her clothes. and his family when there remains reasonable doubt.” Cooper moved away from the jury and looked into the courtroom as if it were a theater. I submit to you that they do not and cannot. a verdict of not guilty. Examine them and see if they hold water. Of course there were no witnesses. his reputation. beyond reasonable doubt. The defense. His safety and presumed innocence are the same measures of protection that you and I enjoy.” 174 . his livelihood.
then you must still find him guilty. This was not manslaughter in any sense of the term.Page 175 After a few moments. At any time the perpetrator could have stopped before he had gone too far. That was to shut this girl’s mouth forever.” Judge Blankenship quietly addressed the jurors in the hush that followed Steven's soliloquy. too. Fischer Stevens stood before the jurors. “If after examining all of the evidence. she knew him. Why was this necessary if she didn’t know him? If this was some passing thug. Instead she was killed. Thank you ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Having charged them to return a verdict after deliberation. This was a criminal act with a sequence of events leading to a young girl’s death. He knew her. Do your duty. He thanked the jurors for their participation and attention during the trial and outlined for them the various possible verdicts from murder in the first degree to acquittal. I remind you that reflection and preparation went into his decision. after reviewing the testimony. She knew her murderer. after recalling the arguments presented by the prosecution and the defense you are not satisfied that the accused is guilty of murder in the first degree. He sits in this courtroom today and awaits your verdict. the prosecution was allowed a rebuttal. and we know him. he reminded them that there would be a penalty phase after their verdict was returned and that it was of utmost importance at this point for them to completely abstain from outside contact until they had reached a decision. The sheer force used to deliver the blow to her head leaves no doubt that her attacker had a singular purpose. murder with premeditation. 175 . he could have left her there.
” The deputy put a handkerchief in his hands saying. Cooper. Luis looked at him blankly and shrugged. but I’ll be fine. He stumbled once more but caught himself before anyone could move to help him. Luis was remanded to the custody of the sheriff for transport to the county jail. He was knocked back into the deputy behind him and let his knees go limp as he felt the warm blood begin to cascade down his face. Luis managed to turn a little to his right and run his forehead hard into the doorjamb.” Luis did as he was told to do.” “You stay right there. He then turned to his guard to ask what had been said. maybe a little light-headed. Just help me up and let’s go. he was amused with how seriously his escort had taken the incident. In a few moments he suspected they’d all have 176 . He nodded to the deputy and then to Marquette before saying to the deputy. “We best get going. Marquette. “I’m okay. Marquette called out that he would be in touch with him later that afternoon.” As they went through the door. Blood was running profusely now. “I’m okay.Page 176 The jury was excused and the court adjourned. His manacled hands were still limp at his sides and attached to those on his feet by a strong chain. Sit down and don’t move. Rather. I’m okay. Many times Luis had struck his head with a branch while cutting. thus exposing one eye to the light and keeping one unexposed. and several others stopped to look at him. asking him if he was all right. I don’t feel all that good. His escort was watchful but supportive.” he replied. “You hold that to your head until I get a first aid kit here. He knew his head might bleed profusely but wasn’t much concerned. keeping his hands to his face and keeping his left eye closed behind his left wrist. It was on leaving the courtroom that Luis stopped and bent at the waist.
” The guard helped him to his feet as others stood on three sides of him. There weren’t that many stairs. Maybe if I stand up I’ll be better. Luis exhaled a long breath through pursed lips. I was fine then felt a little queasy.” The deputies shrugged their shoulders. “How are you doing?” asked the deputy standing next to him. Maybe if I get some food in me I’ll feel better. He turned his head toward the deputy behind as he quickened his step. “I’m fine. Let’s go. prompting the deputy behind him to nudge him once or twice as they approached the stairs. “So what’s on the menu today? Hope 177 . Don’t know what happened. A first aid kit was soon opened and rubber gloved hands pressed a compress on the wound while another set of hands removed a roll of gauze with which to wrap his head and hold the compress in place. That wasn’t the plan. From the corner of his eye he could see the deputy’s feet ahead of him. “You okay?” “Yeah. In the confusion and tangle of people next to him he could easily have grabbed for the pouch he wanted or even have taken a weapon from the holster of the guard working on his forehead. as they passed the last doorway next to the stairs. Luis stuck to his plan. Luis measured his gait. Three more deputies had responded when he fell. He soon looked like a Civil War casualty. and moved Luis off down the hallway. Sorry ‘bout the mess. we’re all goin’ to miss lunch. counted his steps. just a single flight down to the next landing where they would take another corridor toward the exit. He had lagged just a bit. nodded to each other.Page 177 much more to think about. Next thing I’m hitting the door. We don’t get goin’ soon.
We threw a bandage on him and figured we’d get him back to the jail where a doctor or orderly could look at him. and he felt a sharp pain in his shoulder. keys. He said he was okay. I don’t trust this asshole for 178 . He wasn’t sure if he could move at all or even should so he lay there. “What the hell happened here?” barked a Sergeant. Paramedics and additional sheriff’s deputies soon arrived to assist the injured officer then Luis. Below him on the landing a door opened and he saw uniformed legs moving toward him. breathing slowly and keeping his left eye tightly closed and his right eye open. The deputy hit hard as Luis tumbled on top of him. Sirens followed.” Luis felt the paramedics turn him over.Page 178 its not that white stuff on toast again. Luis shoved the key into his mouth. He could hear all sorts of shouting and hear footfalls as they sounded in the hallways. swallowed. He could feel roughness in his throat as if the key had stuck there. His fingers went for the pouch with the handcuff key. and weapons? Check right now. and hurtled past the deputy to take a beating on the steel edged steps of the courthouse. As the deputy slid and rolled to one side. They went down quickly. This time he was hurt and bleeding in a few more places. “Anything missing? You guys got all your equipment.” he grinned as he stepped on the feet of the deputy ahead of him and threw his hip into his stride. “Everyone okay or what?” “He got dizzy leaving the courtroom and stumbled. He felt bruised but could move his arms and legs. Hit his head pretty hard on the doorjamb. He lay face down without moving. The Sergeant asked.
Luis felt a finger searching every bit of his mouth. but nothing serious I hope. “I want to check this one myself. Let me have a look at his eyes and take his pulse again. Hell. It has a bad snap.” “Check his waist band and pat him down too.Page 179 one second.” “No chance. I went down. “Seems to be nothing broken or out of place.” He asked the paramedic what he was doing and wasn’t satisfied with his response. He caught my foot with his. He got a couple of good raps on the head from those stairs. After a while he asked. Well?” “I’m missing my handcuff key. what’s the deal here? He okay?” The paramedic replied.” He spent a short time then turned to the sergeant. “Take care of the fucking officer first. That case is always popping open. “Well.” “Is that right Burks?” asked the sergeant. He just flew right over Burks and did a header. the son-of-abitch. He was looking at me behind him and asking about lunch when I saw his eyes kind of roll up. pressing his fingers from the side to open his mouth wide. and he landed on top of me and kept going. “I guess. See how his 179 .” He ordered two officers nearby and then moved aside to let the paramedic examine Luis.” he said. “He must have swallowed it. he was manacled the whole time. He went down too fast. Sergeant. flipping Luis over on his side. “This man has a mild concussion. I check it all the time but it still comes undone. Sergeant. It was quick.” “Jesus Christ!” He checked Luis’ hands and then roughly grabbed Luis by the jaw. Next thing they are both doing a header on the stairs.
One way or another that key was going to reappear.Page 180 left eye is only slowly responding? I think you better get him to the infirmary on a stretcher and have him checked out by one of the doctors. You need to fill out a witness statement. I’m okay. you help him. “Yeah. find that fucking key whatever you do or you’re going wish you had. He jerked Luis to his feet. Burks?” he asked. We’ll keep him healthy so we can watch him bite the big one after the jury brings in the guilty verdict. and he’s going down for murder one. Weren’t you supposed to be 180 . Hey. Burks grinned back. Jim. He shouldn’t eat anything or move around much till you do. Get his sorry black ass outa’ here. here it is!” He held it up and smiled. and pushed his prisoner toward the door. Let’s see if we can find that key. A little sore. Fill out the usual stuff for work related injury.” The other officers smiled and left to accompany the sergeant and Luis as they were climbing into the waiting van. I’ll take care of stumble-foot here. He raped and killed a thirteenyear-old girl. I don’t know his past history so my guess is take it slow and easy. Then get yourself over to the doc and get checked out. They might not give him food but he could have water. You. glared at the paramedic. “Let’s go do some paperwork. Luis nestled into the seat as well as he could with his bracelets holding wrists and ankles. “You all right now.” “Fucker can die right now for all I care. He never saw Jim put his own handcuff key into Burks’ hand. Burks. You guys stay and help him.
Most of all. Box with a different key. pro bono. He probably couldn’t ask Momma and the others to move without him at this point in their lives. Don’t tell anyone even if I am convicted. he thought. I guess someone is looking out after me. “This is security for your old age. That was over. one he had hidden in the basement. Good to have a fall back plan. yet he rode with quiet confidence. Leave that one alone and don’t open it. but I’m paying the court fees. My injury settlement for my hip and leg provided me with more than enough money to live on.Page 181 nauseous when you had a concussion? Maybe throw up? If that didn’t work he’d wait a few days and work it out the other way.” he told her. Okay?” Luis marveled that no one in Bell Canyon had made the connection between his bank account there and the news accounts that they must have seen on television and in the newspapers. He knew he wouldn’t be able to return to his old life in the community even if the jury acquitted him. There is another small wooden box next to the one I want you to put the statements in. the Hacienda was really home to all of them now. he’d miss visiting Gwen. Helping you doesn’t even dent the interest payments I 181 . bank statements every couple of months and secrete them in a hiding place in a box in the basement. It is for Dina and the others. It is screwed shut to keep the mice out. He told her to take the contents. The van bounced as it went causing him to feel every injury no matter how minor. He had talked secretly with Momma at one of his visits. He asked her when she came to visit if she had paid for the attorneys Cooper and Marquette? She said. telling her to visit his P.O. “They are serving as a favor.
and she saw the Luis Calderon she had known for a number of years.Page 182 get so don’t even think about it. and then he turned away as she left the meeting room. muttering only thanks. Marquette and Cooper were waiting to escort her out. 182 . Luis?” said Gwen as she rose to leave. “Don’t give up. He grinned at her.” he said. wonderful lady. “Give up? That will never happen.” Thank you seemed so small a thing to say and he was in a dark mood between the injustice of his arrest and his hate for Richards that he left it at that.
In anger or frustration. Luis sat with his head in his hands as Judge Blankenship individually polled the jurors. maybe threatening to tell on him. He did the same.Page 183 CHAPTER 18 The jury of seven men and five women deliberated for two days before returning a verdict.” said Cooper. the jurors decided that the relationship had taken a bad turn when Stacey met Luis as she cut across the Hacienda property. He had gotten angry because she wouldn’t again have sex with him as she probably had on the previous Monday. “Single malt. withdrawing a small flask from his briefcase and reaching for a couple of paper cups from a water cooler’s dispenser. In their deliberations. She tried to pull away. and in anger or panic he struck her again. perhaps argued or screamed. thanks. Luis made a tragic mistake and struck the girl and then dragged her off the path. twelve years old. It was at this time that Stevens approached Cooper and asked to speak with him in private. reminding them that they would be asked now to deliberate on the penalty phase and that he would give them instruction thereto when court reconvened after a short recess. “What’s up?” 183 . This time it was harder. he covered her with brush while he decided how to get rid of her body. She must have said something else as he removed her clothes. They retired to a small conference room nearby where Stevens motioned Cooper to sit and make himself comfortable. He thanked the jury for its effort and dedication. Realizing what he had done. They could not agree on premeditation but unanimously settled on second-degree murder. Water?” “No straight is fine.
I’m sure you know the scenario?” “Sure. “I get a conviction that didn’t much interest me to start with. a kind of town stumblebum. I’m not out for blood on this one. I’ll have to talk to my client and co-counsel?” “Cheers. We had a good jury. This was Bonanno’s case and he dumped it on us. semi-literate who hardly spoke a complete sentence. So what are you suggesting?” asked Cooper.” Stevens raised his cup and Cooper joined him. Seems to me that Calderon was a pretty good citizen until his hormones got out of control. 184 . The man is a bull terrier and has no class. I think you did one helluva good job with this case. “You were pretty impressive out there. “What do you get out of this?” asked Cooper. You know Bonnano told us we were dealing with a half-breed. but I have other cases that I really need to work on. Why don’t we agree to waive the jury part for sentencing and leave it up to Blankenship? He seems to be moderate and fair. I like it a lot.Page 184 “I did what I had to do as a prosecutor in there.” Cooper downed his whisky then turned to Stevens. Stevens smiled. They do something in the heat of passion that they regret for the rest of their lives and will never do again. That summation really took the starch out of us. My case wasn’t as strong as I would have liked. Your client is just like most of the people that commit a murder. but most of all I get away from Bonnano. I think. What do you say?” “Personally.” “Thanks. but that jury is going to go for a maximum sentence. “I have spent a lot of time on this.
That sure wasn’t the case, changed our whole approach. Where did he come up with that? I asked him, but he went off on me so I just let it die.” “One of Jim’s many inaccuracies and misadventures as I’m sure you realize. Ready to go?” Stevens nodded and they made their way back toward the courtroom. Judge Blankenship heard their request in chambers after Cooper had conferred with Marquette and Luis. Asked by Blankenship if in view of the people’s statement he wished to waive the right of trial by jury during the penalty phase of the proceedings, Luis nodded and answered with a restrained, “Yes.” The judge announced that court would reconvene the following morning at 9:00 a.m. to hear his decision, explaining that it was necessary to have the jurors present at the trial’s conclusion. “It would be unfair for the jury to go uninformed of the people’s decision until it was announced in the local newspaper.” There were no banner headlines for Wednesday’s morning edition as the trial had gone on for some time and readers had somewhat lost interest. In bold type, the Valley Star proclaimed that Luis Levi Calderon had been sentenced to twenty years to life in a state penitentiary after having been found guilty of murder in the second degree. Thursday’s newspaper was a different matter. In two-inch type it announced, “CALDERON ESCAPES FROM COUNTY JAIL” and underneath in smaller bold type “Convicted Killer On The Loose.” A brief summary of the trial and some gorier aspects of the case followed. Momma’s phone rang so much she refused to answer it. Kudrow went on full alert. He simply did not have the
manpower to watch the Richards’ residence and the Hacienda but, nevertheless, increased neighborhood patrols at the expense of traffic enforcement. Sheriff’s deputies were everywhere, and helicopters flew back and forth between the jail and various roadblocks. The entire county was gearing up for a massive search. Gwen was in tears, knowing that Luis would probably be shot not captured. A rather agitated sergeant from the sheriff’s department was observed punching a fellow deputy after a discussion about a lost key. What transpired that day was that Luis had complained of headaches and refused to eat, resulting in his being transported to the county hospital under guard for a CT scan of his still bruised head. It was while exiting the vehicle that his shackles fell off. He grabbed both guards and pushed them over an embankment and then made a run for the back of the county hospital. At the time of his escape, Luis knew that his enemy was panic not the deputies who would be in pursuit, although they’d call for help and bring swarms of county and local police to cover every inch of the area. He knew he needed to think this out. If he ran helter-skelter, he’d be caught for sure. As he sprinted around the back of the main building, he noticed the foundation being laid for the addition of new wing. Rebar, wire and stakes were everywhere. Some parts of the foundation were ready to be poured while others were yet to be wired and tied in. He grabbed an iron perimeter stake with its sharp point and turned the northeast corner on a route that would bring him eventually back to the street that coursed in front of the hospital. On his left was an incline with woods and brush that led straight up to a wooded ridge. Beyond lay miles of confused, hilly
country that led eventually toward the mountains. On his right, the building did an in-and-out succession of angled turns to accommodate protruding wings, doorways and low-level additions. It was by one of these alcoves he found what he sought. There, seventy-five feet from a set of doors that led to the hospital kitchen, was a manhole cover, leading (he rightly suspected) to a storm drain. In seconds he had wedged the stake under the cutout in the lip and tipped the cover up. He held the stake in place with his foot and slipped both hands under the heavy iron lid. With a concentrated explosion of muscle, he slipped the lid enough to gain entry. Once on the rungs beneath, he used his back and legs to push it back into place. He dropped the bar and heard it ring about eight feet below as it bounced on the concrete drainpipe. Once into the hole he found only a few inches of water there. He supposed that the slight down-slope led to an undeveloped area south of the hospital and a swampy holding area of about 120 acres, which many hoped would become a bird and wildlife refuge. There was ample opportunity for him to go many directions from there, although most routes would take him directly into residential areas. The back of the hospital and the new construction area was a better bet. Luis quickly crawled as far up the storm drain as he could. He hated the pipe’s small diameter and wondered if he could even turn around once he was inside. It would be difficult if not impossible. He pushed on in the wet and darkness until he came to another chamber much like the one into which he had originally crawled. No light showed from overhead, but he could feel the metal rungs on one wall and crawled up, stopping only when his head hit the manhole cover. Why no light he wondered? His sense of
direction was a little confused since the pipe had made two turns. Nevertheless, he estimated that he had crawled north and slightly east for about fifty yards. If so, he would be about even with the new construction he had observed when he ran around the back of the hospital. He guessed, correctly, that the cover was now under a pile of sand or gravel. He could hear no sound, but that was good; his pursuers could hear no sound either. Dropping down again, he followed the pipe farther north and then east until it made a right turn. This time he found himself in a collector box with a locked iron grate overhead. Looking up, he could see oak branches and surmised he was at the base of the hill on the edge of the parking lot behind the hospital. He could see more if he could raise himself, but he could already hear sirens screaming toward the hospital. He supposed that dogs would be in some of the vehicles and bloodhounds would probably follow. If he could hear them, the dogs could hear him and probably smell him as well. He turned around and crawled back to the dirt covered manhole and positioned himself so that he was out of the water and able to climb the rungs upward if necessary. The water was cold and there was a lot of muck resting on the pipe’s curved bottom. He supposed it was clean and the residue was the wash off the hill and the parking areas (a mixture of dirt and oils from the parking lot plus gravel and sand used for construction). It would have to do. He scooped up handfuls of the muddy paste and began to cover his scent by rubbing it over his exposed head, hands, arms, and legs. That having been done, he curled into a ball and prepared for a long wait until the searchers had moved on.
Luis was good at waiting but wasn’t fond of the cold. He knew he would have to wait perhaps twenty-four hours or more before venturing out of his self made prison. Well, wait he would. As he rested in his fetal position, he recalled doing just this many years previously. His life had depended on it then, even as it now did. Arms and liquor and sometimes drugs had come into the little villages along the Mexican coast, Media Luna, Del Tio Bla, and Isla La Tuna. He would meet the boats, unload, and ferry the cargo along the highway that ran north through La Pesca, then turn from Route 101 onto Route 97. There between Rio Bravo and Brownsville, he would find a way across the river. El Gato they called him because of his night vision. Most were too eager or too stupid to sit still. He waited and watched and counted until he felt sure he knew exactly where each border patrol unit was and when they would pass by. The ones that were hard to elude were those who also watched and waited, letting many slip by without apprehending them, creating a sense of safety before they drew in their net. Once across he could bury his cache and walk into town like any legal citizen. He was stopped often but always had an excuse - his car was out of service - he was just returning to Villa Cavazos from Olmito when he had car trouble - he had broken down while visiting friends at Los Indios and had to get to an aunt’s house in Brownsville. He had little trouble with the residents, as most of them wouldn’t give the border patrolmen the time of day. As he waited in the pipe beneath the dirt-covered manhole, an idea began to form in his mind. It was a plan so simple and so easy that he marveled at the opportunity that now presented itself. If he eluded the police and the dogs that were sure to accompany them, he would slip
as his darker skin made him just like any other minority that seemed to staff the hospitals these days. Pleased with his tentative plans. toothpaste and brushes in the patients’ rooms. He didn’t want to involve Gwen. would be watched. he closed his eyes and tried to conserve every bit of warmth left in his body. slept. He would have to hide out somewhere until he wasn’t such a hot item. He guessed that he could pilfer a clip-on ID from an employee changing room or from a coat left hanging in the cafeteria. that was a sobering thought. She had done more than enough. He couldn’t go home. There were sure to be stocks of soap. He shivered. and look for a meal from those the patients didn’t eat. At one point. not anymore. He might even check wallets and purses of those who slept to get a few bucks with which to buy a bus ticket. and he remembered reading somewhere that doing anything for him would make her an accessory to his escape. She didn’t deserve that. he heard noise and sounds of voices. but sleep and food came first. Momma could bring it to him. too. There were many avenues to explore. He would do what he had to do and wait for opportunities to present themselves. and shivered some more. Home.Page 190 into the hospital as the morning workers arrived the next day. No one would miss the food nor would anyone question him riding a bus home in his hospital garb when the shift changed. but he knew that the Hacienda would be watched. shaving kits. but never did he see a light in his tunnel. dress in hospital greens. He heard hounds baying. He needed the identification that he had hidden in the wooden box in the cellar. 190 . but he supposed that she.
People the chief really didn’t care to speak with stopped and chatted with him on the street. and some of the town’s busybodies went back to tennis and health clubs where they could entertain themselves with who was on which diet and who should be on one. MaryAnn. Sorry about tying up a table so long. “I just have to sort them out. until it was too cool to drink.” she said with a wink. and you haven’t had more than three sips out of any of them. The chief and his men were heroes for their speedy arrest of a killer while the news of the arrest of two felons attempting to buy weapons was still talked about.” “Chief. He did this habitually. taking only occasional sips. Too many interruptions in the office. Kudrow sat quietly at the table in the little diner across from the police station slowly stirring his coffee. there is always a table for you here.” “That’s your third cup this morning. Even Bernice had some relief as the phone calls and faxes seemed mostly routine and ordinary. Something on your mind.” he answered. watched him and chuckled to herself. If there isn’t. I’ll take you home and cook you breakfast myself. “Breakfast Chief?” “I’ll wait for Bear. Chief?” “A few things. She did this without comment as the chief looked up and smiled at her. There was no more talk of a petition. thanks Mae. The double entendre 191 . She liked the chief and simply made it a point to bring him a fresh cup whenever necessary and remove the cold one. Mae for short.Page 191 CHAPTER 19 Sommersville had changed since Stacey died.
Did you get a tip?” 192 . but only because I got lucky and because you did your homework and helped make it possible. To Bear he said. sit down. He didn’t even see Bear approach until the officer sat down opposite him at the table. You got two repeaters off the street. what’s the occasion? When you spring for breakfast in the middle of the week I begin to worry. They were headed for bigger things. they were too different. He returned her wink with a nod and again began the clink of teaspoon on cup as he stirred his fourth cup of the morning. you made the bust?” “Yes. “We haven’t had a chance to sit down and chat in a long while because of the trial and all.” Kudrow looked around for Mae only to find her already headed his way with a cup and two menus. The town is still talking about that.Page 192 wasn’t lost on Kudrow. You can bet the ranch on that. Bear. but this was conveniently overlooked when circumstances and hormones were in proper celestial conjugation. Each knew that they had no future together. who had enjoyed her company discretely on several occasions during the last few years.” “Ah.” “Chief. glad you’re here. “Morning. I have been meaning to ask you how you picked up on them at all. but it was still your bust. Chief. I wanted to congratulate you for making it possible to nail those two morons in the gun shop.” “Thanks again. Coffee?” “Sure. Chief.
” said Bear. call it intuition or experience or just dumb luck. “What do we know about the case.” answered Kudrow. I’m convinced that you’ll be doing my job not too far down the line. Your instincts told you that all was not right with Richards. You’ll need all the tools at your disposal. down here in my gut. “Let’s do a little debriefing on the Luis Calderon case. The chief smiled at the jibe and sipped his coffee. You know. nothing like that. “I heard you go Code 5 on my scanner before I dozed off that morning so I figured you were on a stakeout not making a donut run. city council members. “he still running around in the hills?” “It would seem so. After some pleasantries. MaryAnn arrived to take their orders. The same feeling you must have had with Anton Richards I suspect. He could be out of the state by now.Page 193 “No. okay?” “Sure.” replied Bear. “It didn’t feel right once I got a look at those two and that Oldsmobile. We all have to go on instincts we sometimes can’t explain.” said Bear. “I wouldn’t bet on it unless he does something foolish. Think they’ll track him down soon?” “What do you think?” asked Kudrow.” “So that’s what this is about?” “Bear. and you’ll have to work in ways that are hard to explain to other officers.” replied Bear.” “It wasn’t. you are a fine officer. They don’t have a clue yet. and even yourself. Bear?” “The facts?” 193 . Kudrow continued.
” “I think he might get Richards. “But Luis isn’t just some hothead. He does things in an orderly. I’d be sleeping with a dog and gun. I have seen him hold off when he could have attacked and destroyed those kids who were provoking him.” said Kudrow. “For starters. I believe he can be volatile. “I know that. he’d kill Richards straight away. what do we know about the people involved?” asked Kudrow. I think he’s just the opposite. then so what triggered Luis’ desire for revenge against Richards?” Bear smiled and then took a long pause to compose his response.” “Okay. Yet. If I were Richards. I think Luis was serious about only one of them walking out of the room. “Luis was morally outraged when we questioned him after 194 .” “Yes. I know I wouldn’t be able to contain myself that well. What puzzles me is Anton Richards showed public disgust with Luis but not any real anger. “Is Luis irrational and unpredictable?” “No. often predictable way. If I had a daughter killed. It was in the form of conjecture.Page 194 “No. exactly. His routines and life apart from this incident were so regular one could set a watch by where he went and when.” suggested Kudrow.” said Bear. but let’s stop there for a moment.” replied Kudrow. “so what triggered his rage for Anton Richards? Was it because he thought Anton Richards was diddling Stacey?” “Possibly. too. we know that Luis is likely capable of killing. I’d vow to have Luis’ blood on my hands despite my police status. Chief. Okay. He convinced me that if he ever got out.
Bear.” “You do?” asked Bear.” said Kudrow as he positioned the plate of food Mae had just set before him. He waited until Bear was served and Mae moved on. Luis operates on a much more visceral level than do you or I. Bear. Luis. surprised. He may have been in love with Stacey. but I think Luis knows that Richards didn’t kill his own daughter. He believes Anton Richards has to be held accountable and must be punished. “I suspect that he was lying to me and very nervous about something. for better or worse. We know Richards didn’t. “Let’s look at Anton Richards actions. wouldn’t do to disrespect him to his face. There is no way that Luis could be positive that Richards was trying to frame him. “Moral outrage and a desire for justice perhaps. maybe even insulted him by making a reference to his family. Why?” “You don’t leave me many options. we don’t really know what was said between the two men that day.Page 195 Stacey’s death presumably because Richards dropped items on Luis’ property after killing her to cast the blame on him?” “I don’t believe Richards tried to frame him. but you may be close.” said Bear. Stranger things have happened between men and young girls. Richards is an egotistical ass and might have stupidly made some derogatory racial remark to Luis. I’m not certain. Moreover.” suggested the chief. “Hold that thought for a moment. We never figured out why or what. Her death 195 . Luis asserts that he didn’t kill Stacey. is a man that came from a tough background.
If he really cared for her or hated Richards enough. 196 .” groaned Bear. Whether he was in love with her or not.” suggested Bear. he is a very complex man. it might explain why he momentarily started to break down when shown her photo. He’d be reacting the way I would have expected Richards to react under similar circumstances. “But that doesn’t explain his bloodlust for Richards. I’m getting that uneasy feeling I sometimes get when I have these chats with you. Chief. That ‘step-n-fetch-it’ routine all these years was a cover. “If we go that way. Chief. Only Richards didn’t.” explained Kudrow. if selfeducated.” “Yes. and that brings up the allegations he made against Richards in the first place. and if Luis was telling the truth about what Stacey supposedly showed him.Page 196 may have been the result of a lovers’ quarrel or rejection. and has learned to play various roles to get by in this community while building a respectable business doing things that others can’t or won’t do. those would make sense if we believed his story.” “And the fingerprints?” asked Kudrow. He is bright.” agreed Kudrow. “and the motive for wanting to kill Richards?” “I suppose that would be the first reaction of some people to sexual abuse of a minor. One can’t make a living doing that without understanding peoples’ value systems and without having a highly developed one yourself. “Yes. it puts a different spin on everything.” “Exactly.
Creoles. But there’s more.” answered Bear. then Stacey would still be alive. more. too. more. “You bet.” demanded the chief.” “Because he’s a half-breed in a town that doesn’t care that much for minorities of any kind. or Mexicans and because he’d be reporting a fine. there are a lot of folks that don’t care much for me with or without the uniform. He may be angry with himself. Bear. I’m doing this not just because of Luis. Blacks. does that stir your tribal feelings a bit?” The chief grinned as he usually did when he alluded to Bear’s heritage. “What if Luis was reacting out of guilt? Assuming he has a sense of moral correctness. middle-class homeowner.” answered Bear. if he had reported the incident that he says occurred the day it happened. and I think he does. Bear. I want you to be able to do the same when you are the chief of this department. “Yes. “He doesn’t trust authority.Page 197 “Good investigators review their assumptions continually. Bear. white. and I’m only halfway through my breakfast.” “What do you mean?” “Well. Bear. He may have a history we don’t know about?” “Yes. The big sergeant never 197 .” continued Kudrow. Why didn’t he report it?” “He wouldn’t be believed. Why didn’t he report it if it was true?” “Chief. you are giving me a real headache.” “Think hard. Hell.
he’d be finished.” replied Kudrow. He was sharp enough to not say or do anything stupid under pressure.Page 198 made race an issue. if we can believe Luis. No wonder he was nervous. “ I know he was lying to me. horrible as it is on one level took him off the hook on another. He got a little nervous a couple of times but then got real cool and tried to turn the tables on me when I questioned him.” The chief moved some remnants of food around on his plate and then asked. Luis was telling us the truth!” 198 . Privately. “She was missing and he didn’t know where. Her death.” said Bear.” said Bear. done. Her story would be backed up by physical evidence. and he knew the chief’s comments were always delivered with respect. For all he knew she could have been on her way to tell what was going on and he’d be caught with the evidence in the pool house. they made their differences into strengths and with humor and understanding waged a silent war together against the intolerance of Sommersville. If someone came to investigate. “Sharp enough to plant evidence on Luis’ doorstep? Sharp enough to get the evidence out of his residence when he knew Stacey was missing?” “Why? He had an alibi that was rock solid and he didn’t even know Stacey was dead at that point?” “Exactly. we can assume he is a liar and perhaps abused his own daughter. “Oh my God. I was the last person he wanted to see that night. “What about Anton Richards then?” “Well. and he’d be on his way to jail.
” “And because it was close. He may have just thrown them on the Hacienda property because he didn’t have time to do otherwise. Chief. He was at work in the company of some business associates at the probable time of death. That doesn’t mean he didn’t still kill her.Page 199 “I think that’s probably close. He could have strewn the things around and headed home in less than a couple of minutes. remember?” “Yes. If Richards had been connected with her death. Chief. Just like Luis said he saw on the chains. “Okay. “So what happened to the clothes and the other items? You were there and got a good look around that evening and the place was cleaned out. It’s beginning to make sense now. correct?” “Correct. he couldn’t have been there. 199 . That went to a set of handcuffs.” added Kudrow. It explains his knowledge of the sexual items. We are sure of that. and I remember that key. “But Richards didn’t kill his own daughter. When I came back later he said he’d been out driving around to look for her but his car was barely warm. Even if we go an hour on each side of that event.” “Luis was telling the truth about that part of this incident then. Bear. he hardly would have returned to the same area to scatter those items.” agreed Kudrow. Richards was in a panic because he had just cleaned out the items in the pool house. but it throws a pall over what we thought was a pretty tight case and makes me question all my assumptions about the case.” “I’m afraid so. He couldn’t have gone more than a few blocks. It’s about that far to the Hacienda property.
No person reported seeing anyone else in the area about the time of her death according to what I got on the phone. but I’m worried if we didn’t get the right guy. our killer may believe he is safe or become careless without realizing that we are on his trail. Even stranger. Let’s keep our minds and eyes open on this one but keep a low profile.” “You think we got the wrong guy.” answered Kudrow. meanwhile. Chief?” “Another girl’s body was found over near Ford’s Point in some trees behind a carport.Page 200 underwear. I’m thinking that if Luis didn’t kill that girl then there is a killer loose out there. Until they do.” “What do you mean more. but if Luis didn’t kill that girl. So far the press hasn’t picked up on the folded clothes.” “We did everything we could under the circumstances. we’re here drinking coffee and having breakfast without a clue about what is really going on. I am more than a little bothered by this development. but they sure as hell will. and even fingerprints. I want whoever did. “ I don’t have a problem with that. “I’m going to go over there this afternoon and talk with people that handled the investigation. All those helped to convict him of murder.” 200 . Sound familiar?” “Luis?” “He was still in custody at the time. her clothes were folded and laid next to the body.” said Bear. and there is more. She’d been dead about one week. No one reported seeing anything unusual. Chief. there are other young women at risk. or was this a copy cat crime?” “Either perhaps. her head was bashed in.
Richards kept the girl under lock and key most of the time. her guilt could be enormous. She walked out of that relationship and wrote the husband and her daughter off a couple of years ago. I’ll catch up with you later. Just one more thing. Oh.” “Why didn’t anyone see Stacey’s killer? Why didn’t anyone report seeing a possible assailant when the second girl was killed?” “I don’t know. “You bet we are. mysterious deaths or assaults of women in a hundred mile radius that have similar characteristics.” concluded Bear. Bear?” “I’m afraid to ask. is this a trick question?” asked Bear. But there is always the ex-wife. Work on that and see if a crack opens up somewhere.Page 201 “Are we on the killer’s trail. Chief. Bear. “She was part of it or let it go on when she should have stopped it. There are no witnesses that we know about. Why would she do that?” “What is the most perverse reason since we are talking about perversion here?” asked Kudrow. Go find her and rattle the bones in her closet. and we didn’t get much from the neighbors. Chief?” asked Bear. See if Beltramo can run a check of disappearances. Chief. I hope you enjoyed our de- 201 . I’ve got to visit the public library before getting back to the office. now. “Exactly. “Just think about it a bit. With Stacey dead. “I can imagine why. murders. What else do we have on the crime at the Hacienda?” “Not much. this is official police business so see that you are on the clock the whole time.” said Bear.
202 . He left a large tip for Mae without acknowledging her presence and strode out. Mae looked at his napkin as she cleaned up to see the words “Invisible People” under which were a long line of question marks.Page 202 briefing?” Bear scowled at him as the chief picked up the tab and smiled back.
and I’m not about to let that pass. tables. The room was warm yet functional and effused a soft yellow glow attenuated by the indirect lighting refracting off the beams.” She turned away from him and he could almost feel the heat emanating from her body. please. The stacks came out from the sides of three separate rooms and connected to the central carpeted desk area with burgundy runners dappled with enough other colors to hide dirt but still give a feeling of richness. complimented the massive oak library tables and open ceiling beams. in fairness. “Why should I talk with you? You put my friend in prison. At a lesser desk near the reference area. there were lots of windows that brought in light from above and accommodations for computers and data searches. but the essence of the old library had been preserved. Kudrow saw the object of his visit.Page 203 CHAPTER 20 Kudrow entered the newly reconstructed library and felt good about its recent remodeling. could do no less than to confront her with his newly discovered knowledge. Can we have a word together. the old stalwarts who had endowed the library for years had stood firm. 203 . Gwen?” Her tousled mass of naturally curly hair turned in his direction to reveal smoky gray eyes flecked with blue and green that shone with fierceness when she saw him. He dreaded conversations like the one he was about to have with Gwen but. To be sure. and bookcases. At a time when most people were rushing to build newer and ever more modern structures. The oak flooring. with its newly applied finish.
” He said. with surprise or anger in her face. No. this woman was ready for a title bout. He couldn’t tell which. anyone at all. “With Luis. He watched the tiny tremors around her mouth and saw the color rise to her cheeks. neighbors. “About Momma seeing anyone on the property that day. Gwen.” Gwen took a piece of notepaper from her desk and wrote “ABOUT?” on it. better make that everyone she saw that day: kids. and it appeared. that she was about to break into tears. He quickly realized that it was emotion he saw but not surprise or fear or shock. “I need you to talk to Momma for me. although he had seen her in passing many times.” 204 . He chose his words carefully.Page 204 “I’m a policeman. He didn’t know if that was due to emotion or just her normal cadence. She didn’t respond in words but raised her eyebrows and stared directly at the chief. “I need your help. momentarily.” spoke Kudrow plainly. Her voice had a broken quality. still facing away from him. deliverymen. everyone. She turned toward him quickly. It stopped and started on syllables differently than the average cadence. She won’t have anything to do with any of us. Please?” “With what?” she answered. newspaper boys. He hadn’t spoken to her over the years.
She motioned him to follow her. glassed conference room nearby.Page 205 “I THOUGHT THIS CASE WAS FINISHED. “THAT WAS NOT MY QUESTION. Although she had just spoken to him. He knew there was a close connection between Luis and Gwen. Will you help me clear them up?” Gwen continued to stare at him until he felt like he was back in third grade with Miss Hutchinson and being grilled after an incident at recess. “Gwen. AND SOMEONE WILL CERTAINLY SHOOT HIM. thought Kudrow and he admired her pluck even as he understood some of the pain he knew she must now feel. She had written “YOU ARE LYING TO ME NOW. still fixing him with her eyes. Gwen. He also had transgressed her privacy by coming here so it was Kudrow who now felt uncomfortable. and they walked to a small. “Do you believe Luis killed that girl?” he asked. that have been bothering me. halting manner. I WANT TO KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON?” she wrote with a bold script that broke the pencil tip when she dotted the question mark. but its nature eluded him at present. He had a little difficulty pulling his eyes away from her to read the note. loose ends.” She’s a tough one. she took her 205 .” wrote Gwen. “YOU FIRST. She quickly wrote something down on another piece of notepaper and pushed it in his direction. “Do you want to speak to me straight and in private?” she asked in her deliberate. there are some routine aspects to this case.” answered Kudrow. When he did he got a shock. “That would be good. LUIS HAS RUN AWAY NOW.” Kudrow just nodded.
made him feel sick inside. YOU SAY THIS IS A ROUTINE MATTER. “Do you believe Luis killed that little girl?” “I don’t know. He hadn’t been beaten up like this for a long time. YOU WERE TRUTHFUL UP TO THE POINT YOU SAID THIS WAS ROUTINE. “I believe Luis was telling the truth about what happened at the Richards’ residence. AND I READ YOUR WHOLE BODY NOT JUST WHAT COMES OUT OF YOUR MOUTH. because he cared about her.” Kudrow carefully read what she had written and took a deep breath. Here stood a hearing impaired woman of no great physical stature who had just made him feel he had lost a fight in some back alley. He hadn’t come here for a confrontation. I WATCH YOUR HANDS. Gwen once more asked. YOU TALK STRAIGHT TO ME RIGHT NOW OR GET OUT OF MY FACE AND STAY OUT OF MY FACE. IT IS NOT ROUTINE. YOU JUST PUT A GOOD MAN IN PRISON. A witness now might help.Page 206 notepad with her. I also believe that Stacey’s death affected Luis. he began again. Neither the prosecution nor the defense had a witness that could link Luis to the time of death or acquit him. She began to write with a hand that trembled slightly at the start: “WE MAY BE DEAF AND SOMETIMES MUTE. TO ME YOU ARE JUST ANOTHER ASSHOLE WITH EARS. Aware of his previous mistakes. YOU ARE LYING. although he knew what he had to say was likely to have adverse results. HOW CAN I TRUST YOU IF YOU CAN LIE SO EASILY ABOUT THINGS? I SEE YOUR EYES. Kudrow let his breath out relaxed and felt his face soften. it 206 .” Kudrow paused and waited for a response. BUT WE ARE NOT STUPID.
She wrote. we need to act quickly and not just for Luis’ sake or yours.Page 207 certainly couldn’t do more damage. Gwen read him quickly.” “Not so crazy. Can you ask Momma whom she saw that day? I believe I am looking for a person one might easily overlook. do you have new evidence?” asked Gwen. it is better that the killer believes that we think he did. “Nothing that bears directly on this case. From the homeless to the poor. “HE ALREADY HAS. Chief Kudrow.” Gwen said aloud. There are others as well who go unnoticed.” explained Kudrow. That’s why I hoped you might speak with Momma. “Many people never notice us because some of us can’t speak or choose not to.” answered the chief. He knew a little more than he had shared with Bear earlier that morning but wanted corroboration from others before he made any public statements. “Gwen. If Luis didn’t kill that girl. When she turned back the anger was gone but her eyes glistened with wetness.” answered the chief. “What changed your mind. she snatched the note back. put an “X” through the message and wrote. “But you have something?” “Nothing I am free to discuss with anyone at this point. Gwen turned away for a moment to reach for her notepaper. a person that one wouldn’t normally notice as crazy as that might sound. “THE KILLER WILL KILL AGAIN.” The chief didn’t make a verbal response but he didn’t need to. from the Spanish-speaking girl who 207 .” Before the chief could answer.
He needed a drink but unfortunately had to get to the coroner’s office at Fords Point before noon. and then gave her privacy and quietly left the room. This was a tough woman. He knew he had taken an important and necessary step in talking to Gwen. Kudrow thought he had seen tears fall as she turned. There are legions of them. “Thank you. He sometimes wished that someone could do that for his brain.m. 208 . He went Code 3 with lights and siren until there were few cars around him then turned the siren off. “I will help you.” then quickly turned away. and few even know their names or bother to ask. Kudrow didn’t speculate much in these areas.” to her back. He checked his watch and knew he’d never make it in time unless he broke free from traffic. He said. And he suspected that she had somehow arranged for his attorneys. It managed all his accessories in turn by measuring the load and power curves and then allowed each to interact when ready without overloading the circuits. perhaps in love with him. He left his business card on her desk as he walked through the quiet lobby and out into the bright sunlight.” She waited a moment then said. He felt like he had been run over by a steamroller and it was only 10:45 a. They quietly go about their work. he thought about how he had liked the way Gwen put her values on the line. There was no sound. Donuts wouldn’t help. and she was totally committed to Luis. He had ruined Bear’s morning and she had ruined his. marveling at the little box from Wired-Rite that sat under his dash and made everything ‘plug and play’ with its programmable chip. As he drove. but he wasn’t sure.Page 208 cleans your motel room to the Eritrean who sweeps the floors at city hall to men and women and even children who pick crops.
and he let the cruiser inch upward to about 75mph as he wrestled with his current dilemmas.” came the reply. I am 707 to Fords Point. He had slept fitfully and wakened many 209 . He had to laugh aloud remembering the woman in the Volvo he had blown out of his way with his lights and siren tones. 10-4 to your 707 and 11-98. Do you copy?” “I copy. drink coffee. I’ll be 11-98 with the coroner. who killed Stacey and where was Luis? CHAPTER 21 Upon waking. K44M.Page 209 After a while. She had spilled coffee all over herself trying to maneuver. beneath the dirt-covered manhole. Good. Luis was unable to determine how many hours had passed. thought Kudrow. You can reach me there if you need to. and use her cell phone all at the same time. dispatch. He called in. “This is K44M. he turned everything off and settled into thought.
times due to the cold. Now he was shivering beyond control; he could do nothing else but move on lest he give in to the numbness that precedes hypothermia. Without further delay, he began his crawl out toward the manhole that had allowed him entrance fifteen hours earlier. The cotton jumpsuit that he wore did nothing to insulate him, and the dampness of his dungeon had made the cold unbearable. His mind, less clear than it would have been due to his lack of food and fitful sleep, yet drove him purposefully forward, bent over and shaking. He was sure that he had suffered worse hunger and worse cold, but such was their present effect upon him that he could not recall when or where. Ahead lie perils he had not imagined, any one of which would return him manacled to maximum security. In the dark of his tunnel, he was unable to see his watch. Much to his surprise, it was morning as he reached his point of exit. He lifted the manhole cover with his back and sent it sliding up onto the asphalt. His first glance showed no cars in motion and no one moving in the parking lot. He knew he had but seconds as he scrambled out and pushed the lid back into place. A door led into the hospital beside a row of Sierra Blue ceanothis planted ornamentally beside a walkway. About seventy-five yards away he enviously observed heat and steam rising from a squat rectangular one-story building attached to the hospital’s northeast wing. He moved behind the row of ceanothis where he was shielded from the walk but not from the parking lot. There was really no hiding in his orange jumpsuit. Stopping only for a second, he let the cold determine his course and made a dash for the low building at the rear,
assuming, correctly, that it was the power plant for the hospital. A single steel fire door beckoned. He could almost feel the heat inside. But the door was locked securely, and he stood out brazenly against its dark green color. A second time he took cover behind some shrubs. Walking into the hospital in his jumpsuit would certainly bring shouts of alarm and hospital personnel, including security people. The local police or sheriff’s deputies would soon follow, if for some reason they were not already there. He could not without preparation escape into the hills beyond nor could he enter the hospital clad only his underwear. People were beginning to arrive in autos, some with hospital smocks, to park in spaces behind the building and enter the building. Luis crouched low and moved his upper body into position to look for open windows on the ground floor. He found none. Rubbing some mud from the face of his wristwatch, he observed the digital readout as 7:25 a.m. “What you going to do, Luis Levi Calderon? What you going to do?” he said aloud to himself. “You just going to sit here until hospital security guards or sheriff’s deputies come snooping around? You got to make a move or go to jail. You got to do it now.” His answer came not as he looked at the hospital with its windows closed against the cold of post dawn winter air, but at the power plant. What he saw wasn’t a perfect solution but had merit. He could easily scale the building’s wall by using a corner drainpipe and the relief offered by a masonry window ledge as a purchase for his feet. In this manner he might access the roof with its amalgam of heating pipes, vents, and sheet metal boxes, which would provide cover. Although he suspected that he might not be wholly hidden, especially from someone looking down from
above, he thought that he would not be seen from below unless he moved. Dogs infrequently looked up, he recalled, and neither did most people. In seconds he had leveraged himself using the pipe and window to a secure position on the rooftop. Not only was he well hidden, but with minimal body movement, he had an excellent view of two sides of the hospital. Best of all, he was able to lay prone and wrap himself around a warm vent pipe. He felt heat seep into his body and finally felt his shivering cease, then more warmth came, reaching every part of him as he laid his head against his arm. The winter sun, as it broke through the morning’s overcast, began to warm his back. Soon he fell into a deep untroubled sleep that lasted several hours. When he again woke it was mid-morning. He felt good but took several minutes to stretch the cramps from his legs and arms. He thought that his hunger had called him forth from sleep until he heard dogs barking. The sound was proximate but not so close as to prevent him from looking. He slowly inched his body forward until he could peek around a ventilator housing. There below him at a distance of sixty to seventy yards were two sheriff’s deputies with large German Shepherds moving clockwise around the parking lot’s perimeter. Turning to look in the other direction, he saw two hospital security personnel, closer and moving counterclockwise in a tighter circle. He lay flat, unmoving, hardly daring to breathe. The dogs were barking at something ahead of them when he first saw them. He heard the security personnel and the sheriff’s men hail each other while the dogs continued to bark sporadically until they turned and gradually passed out of sight. He was surprised by the increase in his pulse and
the energy that coursed through him. It was time to leave before they made another circuit of the hospital. Small pipes led up from the roof and into the main building but offered no opportunity for him as they led to no balconies or entry points. It was then he noticed the rectangular raised box that sat about ten feet from him. Its top was tar and gravel, like the remainder of the roof, but a metal pull bar, about fourteen inches in length, stretched across the top on one end. On the other side were hinges. He crept, or more properly slithered, the distance, stood up, and pulled hard on the bar. To his surprise it slid easily back on counterweights to reveal ladder rungs leading directly down into the power plant. In less time than it had taken him to cover the distance, he was inside with the lid pulled closed and starting down the rungs. Below was a platform from whence a steel rail ladder led down to another landing and then to the floor of the plant, resting about fifteen feet below the hospital’s ground level. Probably easier to accommodate the routing of pipes that way, he thought. Everywhere he looked, he saw gauges, ducts, and valves. He could see pipes running out through several tunnels slightly above floor level. Two men were at the building’s far end. They were dressed in dark blue coveralls and appeared to be taking apart a large gate-valve that they had lifted off the floor with a chain hoist hung from iron supports above them. Seeing no other movement and noting their preoccupation, he slowly descended the ladder’s steps until he gained the floor level. Straight ahead were two tunnels with pipes. Bracketing the side of a third tunnel were heavy, black rubber cables that he
supposed carried substantial voltage. He could see dim, uncovered light bulbs every thirty to forty feet inside each tunnel. To his left was a short stairway leading up to a platform, probably to the locked door he had first tried to open. To his right were two doors, one open. He could see a table and chairs and a bank of lockers. He guessed, rightly, that this was a staff room, and it was here that he cautiously crept. Hearing no sound, he entered to find an employee lunchroom and changing area. A narrow closed door inside was marked ‘women only.’ Luis’ first action was to quickly check the lockers, where he found a pair of dark-blue maintenance coveralls with the name ‘Roberto’ over one pocket. They were a little large around the waist for him, but the length was about right. He also took a pair of rubber boots and then rolled his jail slippers and jumpsuit into a tight bundle that he tucked under his arm. He appropriated one of several individual cartons of milk from the refrigerator and a cheap paring knife from a drawer under a sink. Then he was out and down the leftmost tunnel, headed he knew not where. Moving along the tunnel’s length, he soon found a place where some repairs had been performed and the cement tunnel wall only partially patched. It was here that he stuffed his bundled jumpsuit through a hole into the void behind the wall, then took a minute to remove the nametag on his coveralls with the paring knife and tossed that into the hole as well. Continuing, he soon found himself at a place where the pipes diverged many directions and a staircase led up to a short landing to a door that opened by means of a panic bar. Once through, he knew he would not be able to return as a key undoubtedly opened the door from the other side. If he jammed it, a security
he planned to have a change of clothes. in which to make his second escape. He figured that he had perhaps one day. but he realized he was very much on his own now. was unable to maintain her focus. she turned west and began the one-mile uphill walk to the Hacienda and Momma Calderon. She could and often did drive herself places. for her part. Instead. and a plan of escape worked out. since her talk with Chief Blake Kudrow. Gwen. since the police were obviously patrolling the area. Luis was not given much to melancholy. he still had his legs and the hill behind the building that led to the foothills. Luis took a couple of breaths. no more. but walking had helped her maintain her muscle tone and gave her time to 215 . Before that happened. she told her supervisor that she wasn’t feeling particularly well and needed to go home. food. It could work. Ahead of him he saw two workers in hospital greens pushing carts. He knew that eventually those who looked for him would figure out that he hadn’t run into the hills and would come back here to look and search again. If not. no one seemed to even notice him. About threethirty p. Instead of walking the few short blocks to her house. except for Gwen and Momma whom he dared not contact. he thought. and he smelled delicious odors of hot food. a shave. fooling not even herself. That was not entirely untrue. He was a man without family and without anyone who believed in him. and stepped out into the hospital corridor. climbed the staircase. and he felt very much alone. personally or professionally. As he walked the corridor with a casual gait. he would answer in Spanish and pretend he was just sent on an errand to trace a water leak.m. she mechanically went through her afternoon.Page 215 person might find it routinely and investigate. If stopped.
Muscles. On occasions when she went too far on a leg and hip that would never again be whole. and ruined Luis’. she mused. not even after her accident or the agony of a hard-fought settlement in court. and I am not through with this business either. By the time she reached Momma’s house. With each block that afternoon she seemed to gain energy. As she waited for Momma to answer. Attitude was everything. she merely called a taxi on the little cellular phone that she otherwise hardly ever used. nerves. “but I am one handful of a woman.” she said aloud as she overcame each change in elevation that brought her closer to the Hacienda. disturbed hers. “I may not be in perfect working order. Chief Kudrow. CHAPTER 22 216 .” She lifted the large iron clapper and let it bang twice on the Hacienda’s front door.Page 216 think as well. and other connective tissues strengthened their networks even as her mind overcame the psychological trauma that accompanies major injury and reconstruction. She wanted revenge against the monster that had ended Stacey’s life. she was alert and ready to take on whatever the world might push in her direction. Gwen felt feelings she hadn’t experienced before. The titanium plates that held her leg together had allowed the bone graft to connect the piece of cadaver bone with her own leg bone.
on taking off her clothes. The police could not find recoverable tire 217 . After leaving her place of employment at a golf course restaurant. and about the same height and proportions as Stacey. The trauma to her cranial cavity caused continuous bleeding. She had been wearing a simple white cotton shirt and black slacks. These and a bra were found neatly folded and set atop her black pumps next to the body. Her underpants were soiled with urine and feces. she was on her way to a late afternoon class at an adult education school across town. Alma Ortiz.Page 217 Blake Kudrow’s visit to Fords Point had been productive. this time with a blunt object. and cause her to lose sphincter control. The blow that killed her was struck her in position not unlike to the blow that had killed Stacey. The coroner believed she would have died even if help had arrived shortly. the restaurant’s uniform. eighteen years of age. This may have precluded a potential rape but didn’t save her life. found she had soiled herself. and a maroon blazer. she had been missing a week and had been exposed to the elements suffered from decomposition. The coroner reported that two vertebrae in her neck were dislocated and suspected that she had received a disabling blow. His guess was that the first blow was severe enough to disable the girl. There were fibers on the body that appeared to be from an auto carpet of blue hue. slim with brown hair. Last seen at a bus stop several blocks from where her body was found. She was of Hispanic background. probably a hard chop to the back of the neck. possibly the heel of a hand. He found that the girl in question had been older. The coroner believed the girl was transported in a dazed condition to where she was found and struck again. light-skinned. but in other respects resembled Stacey. The killer. before she was again hit.
He had tossed the rubber boots in favor of a pair of work shoes his size worn by a man who would probably never need them again and rifled the wallets and purses of a few sleeping or sedated patients to obtain 218 . dazed and dying. Kudrow was direct. she knew him. while he made a getaway after hitting forcibly with what he guessed was a metal object.Page 218 tracks due to the rains that came all the next day and continued on into the evening. The bus on which he rode stopped several times as it approached the western terminus of the city. “What do you think happened here? Off the record. “Okay. Her attacker hit her hard to stun her but used excessive force. she was late for a class. rain was forecast. too. fugitive Luis Levi Calderon thought about the events of the past month and the past day. he looked familiar. He wore these over slacks and a shirt that he had removed from a patient’s clothes closet. He left her there. The next morning as Kudrow readied himself for work and Bear prepared to leave the station.” said Kudrow. The coroner believed it was an aggravated assault and intended rape gone awry. while his blue maintenance coveralls were stuffed into a large white laundry sack full of supplies for his escape. Why did she get in the car with this guy? Did she know him?” People do strange things the coroner told him. she was horny. He was dressed in hospital greens that he had pilfered from a supply cabinet. and Luis watched carefully. “I’ll buy that. who knows? Kudrow liked one of those possibilities but he had to talk further to Bear and Officer Beltramo before taking it to the next level.” The coroner’s reply seemed to fit the hypothesis he had formulated as he heard the evidence.
toothpaste. Satisfied that he had accumulated as much as 219 . The last item was one he knew to be of crucial importance. He took one small bottle. A few drops of chlorine should take care of that. Luis was careful in choosing the items he would take with him.Page 219 some pocket money. Leaving the cafeteria area. soap. He washed it out and then refilled it with chlorine from a bottle that he also found there. Among these were the paring knife from the power plant drawer. He visited the cafeteria dressed in greens when most of the staff seemed to be elsewhere. shaving gear. hand towels. a wool blanket. antibiotics and generic painkillers. He genuinely regretted doing this but could see no alternative under the circumstances. emptied it in a utility room where he found a sink. several pillowcases. These were heavy but would be eaten first. From patients’ trays he had managed get some bread rolls and cello-wrapped cookies. and disinfectant. he found an assortment of hand creams and lotions at a nurses’ station. He had also eaten hot food from stolen trays for a day. purchasing several bottles of water and as much hard food as he could garner without attracting attention. He knew he could drink the water in the hills but not without risk. He removed as many packages of different kinds of crackers as he could and went back several times to load up with more. and first-aid supplies. he gathered a large number of apples and oranges. he tossed in a pair of scissors. he thought. toothbrush. Buying a bowl of soup allowed him to approach a shelf with condiments and crackers. Along with the usual assortment of bandages. doing so might weaken him and thus lead to his capture. all pilfered from a hospital supply room with a newly jimmied door. tape. It would be easy to hurt himself while on the run. Additionally.
he might remain hidden long enough to make others think he had fled across the border. he would not be faceless or look like just another Hispanic laborer. For sixty dollars he could have a California driver’s license and a green card equal in quality to many of those in use around the county. wild pigs. he could visit one of the little places he knew that serviced farm laborers. but he couldn’t risk going without identification hidden in one of the wooden boxes that he had asked Momma to hide for him. mountain lions. If he could make it that far. He’d get by. He decided that his primary destination would be the rugged area of mountainous country that ran west for miles to the coast. he still had some unfinished business. country largely without roads and carved with canyons that sheltered deer.’ Luis would have preferred making a run for Bell Canyon rather than returning to Sommersville. 220 .Page 220 he dared carry. and turkeys. Were it late spring or summer. Besides. To them. He’d find a way to let Anton Richards know that his days were numbered and his nights about to become sleepless. and it would not yet be safe to attempt public transportation to Bell Canyon even if he had identification. ‘HAS ANYONE SEEN MY COVERALLS? – Roberto. He remembered with humor a note he had seen pinned to a bulletin board outside the staff room that read. he spent the evening back on the power plant roof against the pipe and covered by a blanket. and somehow he’d let Momma know that he was okay. although some of the operators might turn him in just to stay in the Sheriff’s good graces and keep the heat off their illegal hiring if they could.
with heat signature infrared capability might be used to make passes over the area. Luis knew that it was checked daily and expected service vehicles. It was when crossing open terrain that Luis grew most cautious. At first. the water fell further until it had reached the city’s center some 400 feet below and four miles away. He might be safer in the growths of Oak. working the margins. smoke. From that point. Luis knew that Army helicopters. A chlorinator facility stood next to one of the tanks. from HunterLiggett. he had already gone a considerable distance by keeping mostly to game paths. A proper course would have been always to skirt the edges of meadows and open areas. If he had to flee at night it would be altogether different. He was sure that during the day the sheriff was doing aerial reconnaissance and would be watching for movement. he did just that. He had followed a trail that branched off this road several times before and knew that it ran along the ridges. California Laurel. He sat on the bench until the County Transit driver sped out of sight and then moved briskly along the road until he reached a gate that said “Municipal Water District. All went well for a while. but this was time consuming.Page 221 Luis stepped off the county transit bus where it made a city bus connection.” The service road ran to the city water tanks and pumping station atop a low hill. He remained cautious. and he needed to put some miles between him and his last reference 221 . fading in and out of the tree line’s shadow. His goal was to pass the water storage area and take the fire road behind that led into the backcountry. and anyone on a road or open trail. and Madrone during the day than on the ridgeline. By noon.
he grew bolder and moved openly over exposed ground. and the more delicate aroma from clematis. that is until it was directly overhead and beginning a slow circling path to get a better look at him. the County Transit bus stop. the pungent odor of sage. He lay down upon the slope and rested. he thought as he took a moment’s rest. Luis could have taken a number of actions instead of choosing the one he did. It was his first real mistake since escaping from the two 222 . Hearing nothing and seeing no one. Despite his innate toughness. The day was clear and warm for late winter. such a beautiful day that he was awash in the perfume of the chaparral. He relished that image as he lay in the oat and rye grass of this and previous years. As he rounded a northern slope at a point where some of the rains of winter had washed away part of the trail he followed. Small rivulets of water ran in the hills’ folds until they disappeared into the steep brushy canyons. he was tired. Ahead he could see his real destination. tilted toward the southeast. He could smell the sweetness of the grasses. he saw signs of spring in bright red Indian Warriors pushing up through the broken ground. Inside the copses of coastal woodlands there were smells of leaf mold. Soon he came to a small meadow. He swallowed the last of a biscuit from his cache and took a small drink of precious water. The sun warmed his closed eyelids and he dozed off. The stress of the trial and the pace of his escape and flight had eaten at his natural reserves. and he bolted back into the woods at full speed. but he had just been awakened abruptly to his worst fear.Page 222 point. Unbelievably beautiful. He never even heard the Bell 206B as it rose throbbing from behind the hill on which he rested. the higher mountains to the southwest.
His next call was to Chief Kudrow. Fifteen minutes later the Sheriff was airborne and on his way in a plusher model Bell 407. just as he knew that he couldn’t outrun the helicopter overhead. an old friend. He needed a way out of his present predicament but continued to run back the way he had come while he grappled with his situation. I need some help to pick him out at night so I can direct my officers on the ground. “I need some help running down a fugitive. “Someone who doesn’t get 223 . CDF. Luis soon realized his momentary interlude might cost him dearly.” he directed. and requested their help while his pilot continued south towards Sommersville. “Have you got an officer who knows the subject and the area?” he asked. but they could both be fueled and at his service in a couple of hours. he had sufficient reserve for hours. “Don’t press him too much. The pilot of the Bell 206B checked his Davison digital readout and called in the time and position of his sighting. They had his position and would quickly set up a perimeter and begin to close in on him. just stay behind him and keep him moving and try not to lose him.” he pleaded. Can you guys help us?” The CDF had two 206B’s equipped with thermal infrared radiometers and would be happy to assist. County Sheriff Jack MacNamee radioed that he would be over the target area in less than a half hour and asked the pilot to try and establish Luis’ present course and position.Page 223 deputies who had brought him to the County Hospital. One was in Stockton and another in Bakersfield. having already contacted the California Department of Forestry. “It will be night in about five hours and this guy will still be moving somewhere into the Los Padres. With the 20gallon fuel tank in his Bell 407.
We plan to spread out ahead and on both sides and just let him come to us. he had done this many times in Army Special Forces and later in the mountains of his native New Mexico. but he had his doubts. Minutes later. They’ve spotted our man running through the Los Padres not too far from here. Luis was clever. I have deputies already on the way to these points (he showed Sam a map). It appears that our man is still bearing north and slightly west along the ridges. checked the batteries in his radio. And he wasn’t stupid. Of course. I’d kind of like to see the place he was 224 . Sam knew the drill. He had already proven that. “I’ve got the best you’ve ever seen. filled two water bottles. “Sam. He hasn’t changed direction. What do you think?” Sam Bear knew better than to challenge MacNamee’s plan.” Sam grabbed his emergency pack from his locker. He had enough provisions for at least a week. “Sam. Sheriff. moreover. otherwise he’d see that he is heading directly for a network of old forestry roads and firebreaks right here (he again pointed to the map). he and Sheriff MacNamee were flying west for a rendezvous with the pilot who had made the original sighting. You are going for a ride with the Sheriff. “Sure. “I think that’s real good. and changed into comfortable hiking boots.Page 224 airsick?” This was a good-natured dig at Kudrow who had lost his lunch twice on previous flights. Besides. He removed his holster and service automatic and instead took a scoped 243 Winchester from the gun locker and thirty rounds of ammo.” said Kudrow. he can’t see what we can from the air. I’ll have him on the city green in ten minutes.” Then to Sam Bear he said. grab your gear.
before nightfall anyway. We’ll see him coming and he won’t even know it. My men have Viper Night Vision units with 8X power. The trap was being set. I’ll have men in concealment along each route. but I want our suspect to think that the roads are open. In the distance.Page 225 first spotted if that’s possible? What about the roads? Are you going to block them?” “Not exactly. 225 . and they have the best thermal imaging equipment around. We have two choppers from CDF coming in a few hours.” said the Sheriff. Sam could see columns of dust rising from approaching sheriff’s units. They’ll pick him out.
The head librarian was unable to accommodate her request.” commented MacNamee. who had done nothing wrong. As her frustration grew. She worried more. couldn’t be bothered with explanations or regrets so she quickly removed items from her desk and walked directly from the library to the Sommersville Police Station lugging a box containing her personal effects. but perhaps she might understand why Gwen again needed to take some time off work. “Can we make a big loop around the area from a little higher up?” 226 . Gwen asked the head librarian if they might speak in private about a personal matter. had reached the point of the original sighting.Page 226 CHAPTER 23 Gwen had talked with Momma Calderon and found information that was vital to Luis’ case. she felt then heard the helicopter’s pulse overhead. When she heard it lift off a few minutes later. she could not stand the emotions that were buffeting her. She desperately needed to talk with Kudrow. the idiot. “This is where we caught him sleeping in an open meadow. for her part. but every time she called. The woman was not Mother Theresa. meanwhile. Luis. was in even more danger now than he had been at the county jail. she received the message that the chief was unavailable. Gwen finally explained that unless she were allowed to take some time off immediately for personal reasons. she would regretfully have to ask to be relieved from her position. They were hunting Luis like some helpless animal. Gwen. The conversation went poorly. Sam Bear. in the company of the Sheriff and his pilot while the other chopper moved off again to continue its harassment of the fleeing Luis Levi Calderon.
Sam noticed how the country south and west was extremely steep and brushy while to the north and east it was less so. “Thanks. No other explanation seemed to make sense. “Okay but our man is heading the other way and I’d like to get on him as soon as possible. more or less back on the same direction from which he had come and directly into lower elevations and more gentle terrain. He had no doubt that Luis was that man.” replied MacNamee. Sam was thinking about the jacks he’d seen and remembered that they usually ran in big circles. but he’s about two miles north and west of here and running like a jackrabbit. As they climbed higher. Now he was heading north.” replied MacNamee. Behind the next ridge 227 . Sam marveled at Luis’ ability to hide out beneath the noses of the very people who were actively looking for him. He knew better than the sheriff that Luis was experienced in the woods. He had been headed somewhere deliberately.Page 227 “Sure. And Luis had beaten a path south and west toward the mountains until the chopper had overtaken him. “Can we go up another five hundred feet?” he asked. A report had been phoned in earlier that a county transit driver had dropped off a man dressed in hospital greens near the city bus connection about 70 degrees east of the spot Sam now circled. not running willy-nilly. Sam doubted that catching Luis would be as easy as the sheriff envisioned.” Sam looked at the fingers of mountains and canyons that ran in irregular patterns north and east until they spilled into the plain where vehicles were now taking up positions and getting ready to deploy.
lynx. This was a rugged maze and one could forget about easy tracking there. There were wild pigs. that Sam saw the thin line of red bumps appear. Bear considered all the options he could 228 . He’d have to rub his arms. as beyond to the west the canyons and streams flowed toward the coast. All along its ridges were spires of rock and irregular protrusions that were formidable even as they reached down into the rubble filled canyons beneath. Like the others. It was always after these scratchy encounters. It marked a boundary of sorts. He could see the canyon’s route fade in a blue haze to the southwest. Dense stands of Chemise and thorny Blackberries awaited the visitor to these clefts in the mountains where the Manzanita and Buckthorn could claw one badly. and face with preventative oil before going in there. its northern terminus joined with the others spilling into the lowlands. which opened cuts on his skin. The tallest peaks he could see to the south were largely under 5000 feet and most just in the 3000 to 4000 foot range. There were places here no man had walked for thousands of years if indeed any ever had. lions. This was an area filled with rattlesnakes. neck. but they were going to be tough. Luis’ current path along the ridgelines would bring him to a saddle where he could jump from his current position to that other rugged canyon that headed south into the higher mountains. and enough ticks to suck the blood out of a bloated James Bonnano in no time at all. There would be Poison Oak vines everywhere not yet showing leaves and in the wetter area along the streams. this was their country not his or Luis’. nettles. After that came itching he could hardly stand. although he knew that most would not be out until late March or April. Nevertheless.Page 228 ran a deeper gash leading away south into mountains.
Besides. and you’ll be thrashing through that brush in the dark?” commented MacNamee. The best part is that Luis doesn’t know I’m behind him. Sheriff. Sam made a radio call on the sheriff’s frequency to let him know he was okay and 229 . Ahead was the game trail Luis had been following. I know my way. okay?” “If that’s what you want. He waved an arm to let them know he was okay and scrambled back to where Luis had been seen.” The chopper soon came down over an open area not far from where Luis had dozed off. every summer for deer. You’ll never make it out now before night falls. I’ve hunted these hills every year for pig. and beyond were the broken grasses and branches where he had abandoned his original route and turned back north. Sam. but he’s got quite a head start on you. Remind them that I’ll be pushing Luis from the rear on the ground while you dog him from above. Sam threw his pack down then jumped the last few feet holding his rifle. Just tell your men to please identify their target before they sling any rounds.Page 229 see from his vantage point then addressed MacNamee. “That’s all right. I’ll be okay. What’s up?” “I want to be behind him in case he decides to double back and head into one of these canyons. I have a radio and will be in contact with you so we’ll have him both ways. “Can you take me back to where he was first spotted and put me down?” “He’s miles away. and every fall for turkey. Sam. your men have a net spread out ahead of him and are in a good position to nab him if he comes out on the course he is now taking.
Chief. I think I know where Luis was headed before they spooked him. He then turned the radio completely off and put it into his backpack and pulled a cellular phone out. “Up Digger Canyon toward Badger Peak and the high country. I’m supposed to follow up behind in case he doubles back on his route. Chief.” “Sam. I’m at the spot where Luis was spotted. “Sam here. Chief. 230 . but I want to save my batteries.” “Okay. Sam. we’ll play hell trying to catch him. That’s what I’d do. The Sheriff is chasing him north and he has a net spread out ahead of him.” He heard the chief chuckle. From that point.” “Oh shit. But isn’t he heading the wrong way?” “Correct. We could easily get a lot of people hurt just trying. “Do you think he has a cache somewhere up there near one of those old miners’ cabins? If he makes it in there. I’d call more often. why do I think that you are not going to do that?” “Guess you know me pretty well by now. call the Sheriff and report I called you on my cell because I was having radio trouble and probably won’t be able to make another transmission. We may not catch him.” “Where?” asked Kudrow. can I help in any way?” “Sure.” exclaimed the chief. Chief. but he’s going jump the ridge he’s running at a saddle at least two miles from where they are expecting him. he’ll move southwest again up Digger canyon.Page 230 moving along Luis’ route.
They have spread out at the base of the hills where they spill out into the valley. Kudrow opened his office door and invited Gwen in. The sheriff has called in the fire fighters with their infrared imaging devices on CDF helicopters to help track him no matter where he runs. He should make an exit about six this evening. but I’ve put her off. north of Sommersville. I’ll call MacNamee and tell him you have radio trouble and that you are saving your cell phone for emergency contact. I have been worried sick about him. Better save your batteries on that cell and keep the calls short.” He heard what he thought was ‘right’ before the line went dead. Remember. “You look disturbed.” 231 . that’s still police business. Richards for now. I’ve had calls all morning from Gwen. I’m not letting her know what you found out from the ex Mrs. Now she’s in the outer office with a cardboard box so I guess I’ll have to see her before I’m ready.Page 231 “Okay. My hair is a mess and I heard that helicopter land and take off again. There are now two helicopters behind him and enough deputies ahead of him to start a small army. Luis is dangerous and can hurt you as big as you are so don’t take any chances. Was that about Luis?” “Gwen. call me once tonight to let me know you are okay and be careful out there. Gwen. I’m afraid it is not good news that I bring you. he has been sighted by a sheriff’s helicopter and he’s running through the mountains. The deputies are heavily armed and have night scopes and high-powered rifles. Listen. just as it is getting dark. Sam. is something wrong?” “I quit my job this afternoon.
won’t they?” “It is likely that he will be shot if he resists or runs. “Are you in love with him?” She looked directly at him without answering immediately.” she said. His position is that Luis is still a wanted killer and the evidence is inconclusive at this point. I’m younger than he.” The disappointment on Gwen’s face couldn’t be hidden. I have seen him learn so much. That pleases me. Chief Kudrow? I don’t want to lose him. truly an amazing desire to learn everything he can. Did you know that Momma Calderon took him and his sister in after their real mother died in a fire? His father had run off a few months after his sister’s birth and never was seen again. and a desire to better himself. Finally. He said he would do his best. He didn’t have much. she spoke. then carefully chose her words. but he won’t let any of his men get hurt by being overly careful with a man who has to be considered dangerous since he is on the run from a murder conviction. too. He has an insatiable thirst for knowledge. His men have wives and children and mothers and fathers. “I don’t believe so.Page 232 “They will shoot him down. I spoke with Sheriff MacNamee earlier today and shared with him what I have found out. “What can we do. You can see the reasonableness of that from his position. and she put her head in her hands for a while. What we have is more conjecture or supposition than substance. but he looks up to me like a wise old mentor. especially not much of an education. More 232 . He promised me out of friendship that he would do his best to take him without doing him harm. but he is very bright. I have come to respect him a lot because he tries so hard and has come so far in his life.
” Kudrow stated in a matter-of-fact tone. I do care for him a great deal. I expect the same courtesy in my office from you. Each time it was when the prosecuting attorney moved to stand between you and him. combined with his innate intelligence made him a formidable witness on the stand?” asked Kudrow.” She took a breath and then continued. Chief. “I suppose so. we agreed in the library that I wouldn’t lie to you. It is all very complicated at times and. maybe even had my fantasies. an ex 233 . He has shared little pieces of his past with me from time to time. He is good-looking in a very rugged way and kind. He looked at Gwen and waited for her answer. if that is what you mean?” “Now Gwen. I don’t believe that will ever change. I am not in love with him. but I do love him in other ways. There has been no romance between us ever. “So you knew what was going on?” she asked. You were very clever and very good. That makes him attractive.” Gwen said. I first had a hunch of what you were up to when Luis got lost a few times under questioning. yet I feel protected and safe when I am with him. I brought in a friend that owes me a favor. Instead of the anger he expected.Page 233 than that. yes.” “So his education. he is kind and cares for people in ways a lot of folks don’t. “He is quite intelligent and at times articulate. “No. “Not at first but eventually I figured it out. he received a grin. however late it came. I don’t believe he’d ever hurt a child after going through all he did to grow up. I have thought about whether I was in love with him.
almost word for word. I was just curious as to how you managed it all. Your translations were coming through before Luis made the same statements orally. you are a menace to civilized society.” she countered. On the day Stacey was murdered. and had her write down what you were supposedly translating to the girl who sat next to you. “Yes. She sees a lot but isn’t good at deciding what is relevant and what isn’t. It’s a little like stealing signals at a baseball game. “I did it for the softball team when Sommersville played Bell Canyon for the championship last year. I suppose. The coach is a long-time friend of mine. and I love to win. Gwen.Page 234 court stenographer who also is a sign-language interpreter. I understand. What did you get from Momma Calderon?” “Momma and I talked for a long time.” “My God woman.” said Gwen. It was the time of the month when they read the water meters. Who was the girl next to you? “She was just someone that Marquette brought down from Oakland to help out. you really play hardball?” “I was fighting for Luis’ life while that worm Richards sat in the courtroom playing the grieving father of a child he had molested. a UPS driver made a morning delivery across the street. I love baseball. too.” said Kudrow philosophically. A girl in uniform came by to do that sometime 234 . “I do that. make it appear that she was deaf and that I was translating the trial testimony for her benefit. You aren’t going to get him in trouble with the Bar Association are you?” “No. although it crossed my mind.
Page 235 before lunch. “ Doesn’t tell you too much.” “Or maybe our postman has some secret habits we don’t know about?” “You mean molesting and killing young girls?” “That’s one possibility. She is very upset. About two-thirty she saw one of the witnesses. She thinks he walks into the trees and takes a whiz there since there isn’t any public convenience available. Maybe he just is too lazy to drive back to the Post Office or a local gas station.” Kudrow interrupted her. Anyone else?” “No.” said Kudrow. Another possibility is that he might be an alcoholic and needs to take a few minutes to fuel up where he is not likely to be seen.” suggested Kudrow. The others are probably not much company but take a lot of care. the postman. Arnie Drucker.” “I wish I could tell you more. He is her family. on the property. Does that information help in any way?” “Yes.” suggested Gwen. that was all she could remember.” 235 . Chief. She is also very guarded in her answers like she still doesn’t trust me. She has seen him on the Hacienda property many times before. “Seems to me that his mail delivery was later in the afternoon as that was when he says he saw Luis parked on Guadaloupe?” “I asked her about that. it actually helps a lot. “I think she’s just Old World in her ways. Besides. I phoned most of the morning and earlier this afternoon but couldn’t get you. she doesn’t want to lose Luis to a woman she doesn’t know.
which Kudrow knew could blow up in his face. Gwen began to laugh. You don’t want to be just another asshole with hearing aids. a bit of hope?” “You first. the opportunity. Kudrow saw a little rush of color in her face and he knew he had struck a sensitive area. 236 . “Because you had the means. You cannot even speak to the two lawyers you hired to defend Luis.Page 236 “I also used my contacts and did some investigation on my own. Instead. too. however. Gwen. I can give you one bit of hope.” Gwen continued. but I can’t share them with you at this time. “Maybe this will help. I’m only sharing this with you to give you some reason to hope. “You can’t under any circumstances say anything to anyone else about what I tell you. Level with me. handing the chief a sheath of computer printouts. “It confirms what I already know but it helps a lot. I found out a few things from the County Coroner that may help even more. Who else even cared about him besides Momma?” Kudrow rested his arms on the desk and stared at Gwen. alright?” “What makes you think I hired them?” she asked. a nice hearty laugh that went well with the smile lines under her eyes.” Kudrow studied the list silently. and the desire to see him get an adequate defense. do you?” It was a calculated risk. This has to be in confidence.” He paused until she made eye contact with him again. “You were going to give me something that I couldn’t share with anyone.
Cooper was ‘pro bono’ but he brought in Marquette so I paid for that. I don’t want Sam hurt any more than you want Luis hurt. I confess. and he has had a lot of experience and training. Now give me the good news. It helps me a lot even if it doesn’t come out the way I want. “That was completely true. I also agreed to pick up the court expenses win or lose. Chief. And I coached the witness every chance I got. I did not slip him the handcuff key because that would be against my ethics.” “Don’t thank me. I believe Sam can reach him before the deputies do. I am just facilitating things for him.” “You said he was running straight into a trap. but Sam is every bit Luis’ equal in the brains department. please?” “I have Sam Bear tracking Luis in the mountains. But Sam is a smart cop and has figured out that Luis is going to give them all the slip because he is every bit as clever as you think him to be. I hope for both their sakes that won’t happen. I hired the attorneys. Normally I wouldn’t put much stock in that kind of Hollywood drama.Page 237 “Yes. He’ll try and talk Luis into coming back with him. Just for the record. We just have to 237 . Gwen. Sam is armed and might have to defend himself if Luis goes off on him. If anyone can pull it off. that they were all waiting for him?” she exclaimed. Chief Kudrow. Sam can. This was Sam’s plan from the start.” “Thank you for doing that. Sam has plotted Luis’ course and plans to intercept him.
typed and signed by our favorite judge. I’ll have to use him. Chief. here is the arrest warrant you asked me to prepare for you and with it is a search warrant. “Chief. Whatever you do don’t turn on the television. the usual lab stuff.” “Chief. Gwen. “Thanks for going the extra mile.” 238 . Bernice. Bernice came in with a soft knock. I’ll serve that in the morning about 5 a. This one is a long way from over. You’ll need some rest. Go home and get some sleep. “You are most welcome and most kind. I guess. Watching will just make you worry. I also need some forensic back up. please. What other officer is available or not doing something vital? Who do we have available?” “Penbroke is the only officer not assigned or in court tomorrow?” “Okay. and lets have videotape and still camera loaded and checked out. This was really an ugly case wasn’t it?” “I’m afraid so.Page 238 hope for the best. You were one once. He’s just a green kid.” He retuned the smile. Thanks. Call the two regular dayshift men and have them join me for a morning of fun and adventure. too. They know almost nothing about everything. I love to roust sleeping rats.” She stopped at the door and turned back to face Kudrow.” he said with studied formality. I just can’t believe that man did such a horrible thing.m. will you? Tell them I’ll work out some comp time for them since I’m already over budget on overtime. be nice to him. “Now go home and put your feet up.” As she left.
Page 239 “I never was. It was a full five minutes after Bernice left that he realized that he had somehow pissed her off. but he couldn’t remember what he had said. Bernice. 239 . Chief Kudrow. I sprang with claws from my mother’s womb fully capable of deceit and evil. he guessed. I agree with you. something about Penbroke. The city would just have to do without bicycle patrol tomorrow morning.” she said as she closed the door and went back to her other responsibilities.” “For once.
He figured that Luis would come on that side. The water was still up a tiny bit after the recent winter rains so he proceeded with care. brush and small trees 240 . Occasionally winter rains with flash floods had come with great force to move these around and form great barricades through which the creek twisted and turned. Boulders. Small pools. Getting his socks and boots soaked was not a good idea if he planned to do any serious hiking. and many smaller rocks had tumbled for centuries down these slopes. and rolled again. There was another lesser ridge over which he climbed. Rocks the size of small houses had rolled downhill. were everywhere. rubble filled canyon overgrown with thickets.Page 240 CHAPTER 24 Sam worked his way along the ridge on which Luis had first been spotted and followed the path he supposed Luis would have taken were he not surprised by the Sheriff’s Department’s helicopter. smashed into smaller pieces. thinking of ticks. if he came at all. huge ones. The effect over many years was a deep. It was about twenty minutes after that when he found the remnants of an old skid road that led him down the other side of the ridge. glad he had worn his high boots. He was still on the east side and needed to cross over Salt Brush Creek to gain the bank that held the trail he wished to follow. So much rock and gravel had filled the canyons narrow bottom that some of the flow was subterranean. and he had enjoyed bathing in them after a day of hard walking and hunting. because it afforded better footing and more cover. and then he was deep into Digger Canyon. The stream ran quietly at other times yet flowed year-round. Many held water even in summer. four to six feet deep. He walked along game trails when he could.
When fully rested. they gave the stream a coolness it might not otherwise have. 241 .Page 241 shaded the narrow watercourse. rather a labyrinth of tunnels under huge rocks. Stealthily. They were not caves in the truest sense. What would make his job. Luis slipped over the saddle and into Digger Canyon father north. just as he planned. He could sleep in a cave securely during the day. tree to tree. especially in their dens. shale. A couple of these Sam had no desire to confront. The caves were home to many animals. He would now have to make this up in the dark over increasingly rough country and was prepared to hike all night and through the gray morning mists until the sun’s dissipating heat made it imperative to once more play cat and mouse. and then turned southwest. He gauged his movements from boulder to boulder. and the job of the deputies chasing Luis difficult. and sandstone. Between them. cave to cave by the nearness of the choppers’ blades. was the way the boulders and water had formed numerous caves. he moved up the canyon. but sparing no time for food or drink. he would advance cautiously. Thermal imaging would not penetrate these bastions of serpentine. as he had today. until he could once again stand and walk like a man. When night began to fall. Dirt and smaller rocks eventually filled the openings in many places to create underground passages that were often as black as pitch even in daylight. knowing he had four-and-a-half hours to recoup due to his earlier carelessness. He moved carefully and listened for the throbs of the helicopters’ rotors as they swept back and forth overhead. he moved with greater speed.
He missed the clear mountain air and open spaces. He chose a route that led up the canyon as he searched for landmarks he remembered clearly from earlier treks.m. It was as he moved out of the hollow and across an open rock face. Here he felt trapped and smothered. He didn’t want to be mistaken for Luis and he didn’t want to be seen moving away from his quarry at this point. moreover. It was almost 9:30 p. the cold here was a moist cold that would soon suck the heat from his sweaty body and force him to pull his jacket from his backpack. The exertion brought back pleasant memories from his childhood of herding sheep with his uncles and brothers in New Mexico’s high country. he again began his climb along the canyon’s upward tilted floor. There were places here that the sun seldom reached due to the narrow confines and tortuous route created by the stream and uplifted layers of rock. The way was becoming rougher and the dark made travel more perilous. He wanted to eat and rest but knew he had an inadequate lead on his pursuers and allowed himself only a drink. He had to keep moving. Several times he took cover in one of the cave-like passages as a helicopter moved in his direction. where he could hardly see to place one foot in front of another. that he heard his name called. After a moment. he wanted Luis tired and hungry when he confronted him. when Luis dragged himself into a hollow that had formerly held a rock the size of a dump truck. Meeting Luis that way would give him no alternative but to run smack into the Sheriff’s posse. Unlike New Mexico.Page 242 Sam decided against moving down the canyon. 242 .
Luis Calderon. If I wanted you dead. We need to resolve some things.Page 243 “You did real well. Luis. “Who are you?” “Sam Bear. Sam Bear. They are making bigger circles 243 . when you sat down in that hollow a minute ago. I’m going to end this right now. cutting across that saddle and running back up Digger Canyon. You make the choice. Sam?” “Your word is your bond. Give me your word and come across or turn and take the canyon back the other way. then raise his hands and move tentatively forward.” said Luis. when you crawled out on that rock to get more water for your bottle. Luis. “So what now?” “Get your butt over here before one of those helicopters comes over and be quick about it. when you slipped and fell coming down that rocky slope. remember me?” Luis now made out the figure leaning against the boulder ahead and to his left. But if you have any bright ideas about taking this rifle or hitting me on the head with a rock. “I’m here. Luis. second. It’s big enough and deep enough to let us talk and still stay hidden. I could have shot you three times already: first. The moon was not yet overhead but it lent enough illumination to show the shiny barrel of Sam’s Winchester. and third.” “How do you know I won’t say one thing and do another.” Luis strained to look and listen but couldn’t see the speaker. “Yes.” He saw Luis sag and lose stature. “What now? What is it you want if not to shoot me?” “There is a cave up the canyon about a hundred yards. I remember you.
he’d soon find out as he heard Sam say. He’d keep his word. Watch your head.Page 244 with those choppers. It will be about forty feet beyond the entrance. Keep one hand out ahead of you head-high so you don’t get low-bridged by a rock. Well. He wondered what Sam Bear wanted to talk about and why he was here waiting for him in the canyon.” When he reached the chamber that marked the cave’s terminus. I don’t have any options. The cave twists steadily to the right so just hug the right wall and keep your head low. Even in his tiredness Luis was examining his escape options in the event Sam Bear’s proposal was unsuitable. “I’ll be right behind you. He maintained a close but cautious distance from him. He had given his word about not taking Bear’s weapon or hitting him with a rock. ahead and to the right. “Right there. they’ll pick us both up on their screens. I’ll have to radio in and say I have you in custody.” said Luis. If we are still standing here when they come over. At that point. I’ll turn on a small flashlight. See that opening. You want to stand here and jaw all night or get up the hill quick?” “Let’s go. Smart guy. Luis turned with a questioning look. That didn’t preclude making a dash for it if things didn’t work out to his satisfaction. “I hope it’s not too far? I don’t have much left in me at this point. thought Luis. There was tiny but growing suspicion that Sam Bear had brought him here to kill him.” motioned Bear.” Luis moved ahead as quickly as he could but noticed that Sam Bear was not right behind.” “After you. Once we are inside. He’d never be found in the rubble of the 244 . Just keep crawling until we come to a large open space.
now on the ground. eerie sounds of the wind outside suggested otherwise. 245 . He then leaned back against the rock wall and watched the pot boil. and Sam removed a small folded piece of paper from a pocket in his backpack. He produced from his pack the smallest stove Luis had ever seen. Bear released his hold on the weapon and spread the three wire legs and then attached a small canister of gas to a thin rubber hose fitting. A match soon produced a clean blue flame.” Inside the baggie were a candle and a book of matches. his left hand reached into his backpack. Sam Bear said not a word but instead watched Luis closely. placed it upon the stove. Sam took out a large metal cup with an insulated handle. he reached into his pack and produced something wrapped in a plastic produce bag.Page 245 canyon. “Open it and. While the light gave the illusion of warmth and comfort to the space they shared. After a few minutes the water began to emit wisps of steam. the eye farthest from Luis was sufficiently open to observe any movement. while his right hand held the rifle with quiet authority. not taking his eyes off him. put it between those two rocks. He took several pinches of something from the paper and added it to the water before turning the stove down to a simmer. and added enough water to bring it two-thirds full. just two wide slits in the shadows that framed his face. The small stout candle flickered from the residues of breezes that blew down the canyon and reached their fingers into the small spaces between the rocks. and then light it. He tossed it to Luis saying. Although his eyes appeared closed. Sam motioned him to sit against a wall and set the flashlight on a small rock. Without taking his hand off the rifle’s stock.
the policeman. His afternoon and evening had been a frantic affair with all of his running and hiding.Page 246 Luis watched the blue flame. some. Sam Bear turned the stove off and opened his eyes wide. It had taken its toll on muscle and sinew and also on his nerves. He leaned forward to look at Luis.” answered Luis. Take it slow. mostly I miss the life I had. “I do. and don’t drink much at one time. After a long quiet period. I don’t really understand how all that happened so fast. “You tired? Bones ache a little?” Sam asked. I’ve been moving. I guess. “Sip it slowly. Save some for me. moving again until I’m about whipped. It doesn’t seem real to me. his successful escape from the hospital. “This will help. stopping. the making of a false trail and doubling back. Doesn’t seem all that could happen so fast. and his terrible exposure while napping. You miss your Momma?” Sam looked interested as he asked.” Luis said as he put the cup back on the burner and turned the handle toward Sam Bear. a lot.” “What is it?” “Just some herb tea my family sends me from New Mexico. 246 . What are you going to do with me?” asked Luis. “Yeah. “How you feeling?” “Okay.” said Sam as he added a little cold water to settle the contents then turned the handle toward Luis. Most every morning when I wake up I’m surprised to find I’m on a cot or in a cell. and the shadows bounce from the candle’s flickering light and was overcome with tiredness.
” “I guess you could say that. I got this. “So that’s how you hid out. “Thanks. Luis.” Luis said. “Luis. There was an intake of breath from the man in coveralls and surprise was evident in his face. we have some serious things to work out and a few problems to solve tonight. No one even paid attention to me.Page 247 “You better get something on you before you get a chill. Pretty good disguise. He looked at him with concern. and they all have big searchlights. Maybe someone else did. You got any clothes in that sack?” “Sure. “I’d make that about a hundred deputies if you don’t count the mounted patrols working up the lower slopes and those riding up the ridges on both sides. I slept on the power plant roof next to a vent pipe.” He pulled out the blue maintenance coveralls causing Sam to laugh heartily.” He pulled some crackers out of his bag and offered them to Sam.” “So why don’t you just put the cuffs on me and end this chase?” “Because maybe you didn’t kill that little girl. “I have a murder sentence that I am evading and probably thirty deputies right behind me that would love to shoot me on sight. No one challenge you at the hospital? “No. Add four helicopters. Luis.” replied Luis. At least two of them have heat sensor imaging devices.” said Sam helping himself. 247 .” Sam replied.” Bear laughed again. and I ate in the cafeteria.
I didn’t kill her. I have reason to believe that the story you told about Stacey and her father is true. didn’t he?” “To his little girl? If so. that he didn’t give it much thought if he threw those clothes your way. then it is just your poor luck that the Hacienda was close enough to serve his purpose. we know that. then perhaps you are not the man that should have been charged with that crime. He did do that. That’s one reason I can’t let you get shot by an over-excited deputy who likes to see his name in print.” Sam explained. plus another one for what he was doing to that little girl. I only tried to help her. Some cowboy with a badge shoots you dead. he may have thrown those clothes on your property to avoid implicating himself. that’s all. “But he threw those clothes on my property to make it look like I killed her. “Do you know who killed her?” “Her father didn’t kill her. I only met her that once when I cut that tree on her daddy’s property.” continued Sam. Let’s just say. I don’t know enough right now to say who did. If that is what happened.” blurted Luis.Page 248 “I didn’t. She was just a baby. I just said that he didn’t kill her. I would never do that. “Who did is another matter. there’s not a lot of reason to go on looking for another killer is there?” “Where do I fit into all of this? They already tried me so no one is going just confess because it’s the right thing to do? You are pretty sure that her father isn’t involved?” “I didn’t say he wasn’t involved. but I have a few ideas. If that is the case. I still have a score to settle with him for that. 248 . I really didn’t even know her.
My job is to take you in. He has to do something quickly to get rid of the evidence. This is all a guess. Now I’m not sure that I made a good decision. But why are you doing this for me?” asked Luis. “I guess you could call it that. Then she shows up missing and he’s afraid that she is going to tell on him or go to the authorities. I do. “You are not off the hook. and I may not have been wrong. We have a few cards to play yet. “Well the question then is . “You really want the answer?” “Yes.Page 249 Let’s assume that he had no idea that you knew anything about him and Stacey. For all I know you could have killed that girl. It may not be enough to get you acquitted.” replied Sam. I don’t like being wrong. .” replied Luis. . “I thought you were guilty. I’ll do anything. not sure I took enough time earlier. Luis. in the pre-arrest stage. I just don’t know. Are you willing to take a long shot chance at flushing out the killer?” “Of course. The way I see it. What we may have might only be enough to get you a new trial. I really did. I can march you back down that canyon or I can take you up the canyon so we can ride out on a 249 . “The question is who killed Stacey Richards if not you?” Sam concluded. I want to find out the truth. You could be lying to me now and could have been lying to everyone else as well right from the start. okay?” “You mean it was just an unlucky accident that he chose me?” asked Luis. but time is working against us.” began Luis.
Do we have a deal?” “Won’t he know where the call is coming from? What if he has one of those phones with Caller I.D?” 250 . “This person. it may upset him. The chief always said that you were smart and that everyone underestimated you. If he is guilty. Do you understand?” “I understand that’s the story I better tell if anyone questions me about what happened. just a hunch. Did I get that part right?” asked Luis. If the person is innocent. Not positive he’s our guy. I’m inclined to think he was conservative in that respect. This is not something you can ever admit to.” said Sam. What am I supposed to say?” “That’ll be the easy part. “So what is the long shot? “I have a suspect I want you to call once we are out of the canyon. I have made a decision to go up the canyon. That’s the story I am going to give to the sheriff. otherwise no deal. If it ever comes out I’ll have to deny it. I can’t raise anything but static down here. you aren’t going to tell me who he is are you?” “Can’t do that.Page 250 helicopter. it may be enough to make him panic and admit something about the crime that will put him in jail and get you out.” explained Sam. “But you must have a pretty good hunch if you are willing to call him. It will have to remain between the two of us forever.” answered Sam. ending the conversation with his face very close to Luis’.
“That’s very clever. “I only told you part of the plan.” “We have a deal. let’s go. Do we have a deal? You be on your best behavior and no funny stuff? I’d hate to have to cuff you when we try and climb out of here. He won’t know where it came from. he won’t know when or how close you might be.” They soon were snaking their way around boulders as the trail led on up the canyon. the only part you need to know. no way for someone like him to trace it. I’d like to talk to my Momma for a little while if that’s all right?” “I don’t have a problem with that. Sam Bear. And if he is. that you know that he did it. Despite 251 . Sam said. He’ll know you have escaped. “And that being?” asked Sam. he must read the papers and watch television. nothing more nothing less. Every few minutes they climbed higher. Luis. When you tell him that you are coming for him.” said Sam. a small one?” asked Luis. but what happens then? He could just sit there until I’m back in custody and then relax?” asked Luis. Could be very unnerving if he’s guilty. If this person is the killer.Page 251 “I have a cellular phone with a blocked number. but I have one request. he probably won’t want to call and ask for police protection because he’d have to explain why you called him and publicly add himself to the suspect list. “After I make that call. “Anything else?” When Luis shook his head from side to side. You’ll have to say exactly what I tell you when I punch up that number. “Okay. I want to make that call before midnight.
Luis. can you tell me what you have?” asked Luis as he climbed between two trees. helped by a rising moon that began to light the trail from the southeast. Let’s make tracks while they spend 252 . After a while Luis asked.” explained Sam. I’m not the only one involved. Both men stopped to listen and watch. It lent a silvery sheen to those trees in leaf and seemed to freeze Luis’ grief and frustration for the moment. “Now let’s keep moving.” Sam said. Luis.” Just then a burst of gunfire erupted from far down the canyon. “Well. I don’t know for sure. that’s not asking a lot is it?” asked Luis. “Sam you had to have some evidence to make you rethink this. they made good time. culminating in a wave of sound that grew suddenly and then descended into confused. right?” “I guess you might say that. it all depends on what happens. The sound echoed eerily off the steep canyon walls and was followed by additional shots from rifles. “That could have been you or me down there. that’s all I can say at this point.” “When will I know more? I need something to keep my hopes up. perhaps fifty or sixty rounds in all.Page 252 the night and the roughness of the trail. Sam. Sam gave him a little shove in a friendly way to keep him moving forward. muffled reverberation. “Maybe tomorrow. “We have some photographs. The light illuminated the smaller obstacles by casting elongated shadows that showed their exact placement.
Despite Sam Bear’s disclaimers. There were photographs of some sort. But I know he’s weak. “Ellen. It was 11:15 p. he knew his chances were slim. “You had a conversation with Anton Richards didn’t you? You ought to be able to figure out why someone would want to leave that relationship?” “No. Luis was not one to make gloomy choices when brighter decisions were possible. “She is now.” said Sam. I’m not her doctor. both listening for the throbs of the rotors. Ellen Richards. when they crested the canyon’s western edge and stopped to rest behind a stone spire of rock.m. cold night he’d spent beneath the manhole cover.Page 253 time figuring out who shot what. Luis knew that Sam 253 . I don’t know?” suggested Sam. Then he decided that he liked my first bid so I cut the tree. Many reasons. I just wrote a figure down on my pad and he threw it at me as I walked away. what was her name?” asked Luis. I never did speak to him. I shook his hand. nevertheless. I never spoke with him. he would once again be on his way back to jail. “So why didn’t that guy’s wife come to the trial or the funeral for that little girl. except to ask about what he wanted done with the tree. A guy half his size could take him down one-handed. When it ended. He’s all bluster and show. Luis wondered if this might not be the longest night of his life. “Did she ever say anything about why she left that little girl with that monster? Was she even sorry?” asked Luis. longer even than the dark.” They continued onward at Sam’s urging. I suppose. as it surely would. Sam had told him a great deal.
Before he had gone another mile. He also knew Sam had talked to the elusive Ellen Richards recently. 254 . he had his answer. as he said that she was ‘sorry now.Page 254 believed he didn’t kill that girl. From that point on he hiked with a lighter step and even smiled as he thought about the possibilities.’ His mind began to consider how it could use what information he had to better advantage. He was good at reading people.
With their marriage disintegrating. If he could find Luis. Richards. Sam had done things his way and gently pressed Ellen Richards until she was in tears. Anton Richards for his part had been more sophisticated about it and managed to win Stacey’s trust. and offered to expose her adultery if she contested his move for a divorce on terms favorable to him. She refused to discuss divorce. who also suspected something was not right between her husband and her daughter. The result was a shock even to Kudrow. it would still be uncertain if the man would be reasonable or cooperative. They had decided. that they could do what they had to do without Luis’ cooperation if need be. She maintained. and Arnie Drucker contended. Arnie Drucker. He was not going to let her off the hook or give her any absolution for the tragic death of her daughter until he had found out why she had left. Arnie didn’t want to face an angry Anton Richards but did and made a convincing appeal. Richards wanted a separation. This disclosure had the chief right out of his chair and pacing the office while Sam continued to fill him in on what he had uncovered. further enraging Ellen Richards. that their indiscretion was a one-time event. assuring Richards that he would 255 .Page 255 CHAPTER 25 “Kudrow waited for Sam Bear’s call and worried about his officer and friend. When things began to unravel between Anton and Ellen. they still maintained the illusion of marriage. wanted Stacey. given the information that Sam had turned up when questioning the ex Mrs. Things turned nasty when Richards caught her one afternoon with one of his friends. threatened her physically. each had attempted to use Stacey as a weapon against the other. Sam had good instincts.
Stacey. “I think she is just as sick as he is. Hopefully Richards and Ellen could patch things up. She unexpectedly found two Polaroid shots of Anton Richards and Stacey when she made a surprise visit months later to pick up some things she had forgotten. He was sorry that he had done this and regretted losing Richards’ friendship. according to Ellen. Stacey was at school. She will testify in exchange for immunity from prosecution. had simply laughed and said he didn’t give a rat’s ass what either of them did. and that led to the confrontation that Stacey recalled and Luis had recounted. Sam told him. she maintained her silence. Richards gave Ellen an ultimatum with a twoweek time limit. It was about eight months after the disastrous liaison with Drucker that Ellen caught Richards with her daughter. The divorce was put on the back burner. but we need her to stop him and to verify Luis’ story. I 256 . As a result.Page 256 never have anything to do with Ellen again. Richards. She had two photographs that guaranteed her an income should Richards ever decide to withhold her monthly stipend. he agreed to counseling and she moved out with most of the available family savings and a guarantee of two hundred dollars a month to help her get settled. Richards at work. She vowed to send the photos to the police many times but hadn’t had the nerve. Two weeks became four and four weeks became six months. Realizing that he hadn’t changed or gone for counseling and afraid of being arrested herself for not disclosing what she knew was a crime. And so it went for a while. Sam doubted her motives after questioning her.
hinted that we could work something out, but didn’t want to give her too much at once. This gal has a mind like a ferret,” “Apparently the hormones of one as well,” the chief agreed. Kudrow had asked him what he thought of the Arnie Drucker connection. Sam had replied, “This is the closest thing we have to a lead. You mentioned that Gwen said Momma Calderon had reported that Arnie had been on the property earlier that afternoon?” “More than that,” Kudrow replied, “I checked with the postmaster. Arnie works an early shift. He comes in a 6:00 a.m. every day, pulls stuff for his routes, and is off by 3:00 p.m. The defense never checked his schedule or they would have been able to put a serious dent in the prosecution’s case. Drucker would have made up a lie about why he was in the area, but the damage to the prosecution’s case would have been significant. He was also off work on the day when that girl was attacked at Fords Point.” This was enough for them to consider Arnie Drucker a logical suspect. He met Gwen and Kudrow’s criterion for being an invisible person, except to Momma Calderon. Kudrow leaned in his chair and watched the night deepen. He waited for Sam’s call from the rugged Los Padres forest. With Luis on the run everything might unravel before they could investigate Drucker further. Luis getting shot would be the worst yet. No, Sam being shot would be the worst, reflected the chief. Sam only suspected that Luis Calderon was a dangerous person, or could be if provoked or cornered. Kudrow knew he was dangerous. He half-hoped that Sam would not find Luis and that the Sheriff would honor his word to take the
man alive. But they had a plan in place if contact were made. The chief waited anxiously. Sam and Luis pulled up about twenty minutes after reaching the canyon’s lip at a place where some Manzanita bushes sheltered them from over-flights. Their heat signatures would still register, but that was no longer of concern to Sergeant Bear. He took out his cell phone and called the chief at home. “Kudrow here,” came the reply. “Chief, it’s Sam. I have our man, and he is cooperative,” Sam replied. “Great, Sam, are you okay?” “A-Okay, Chief. We are up on Diamondback Ridge. Do you want to make the relay to the Sheriff for me?” “Do you have another call you want to make, Sam?” “That’s affirmative, Chief. Are we ready to go in other respects?” “Yes, Sam, everything is in place and ready to roll. I have some additional information for you, but that can wait until we are more secure. I am going to arrest Richards in the morning, first thing, then pay a visit to Arnie Drucker. If your call goes well, he should have spent a restless night and be shaky when I get to him. I have his work schedule. He was off on key days for other incidents about which we spoke. If he gassed up his automobile on any of those days in any of those places, we may have him; moreover, I want to get some samples from his auto and home carpets to match up. He won’t know about all that. He won’t know that one of his victims, after an unsuccessful attack, reported the man who attacked her had uniform pants with a stripe down the
outside of the leg. She is pretty muddled about everything else, but she is sure on that and may be able to make him on lineup identification. There’s more, we’ll talk later. I want to get Richards behind bars first. Are you clear on everything we talked about?” “I read you five-by-five, Chief. Let’s do it. Will the Sheriff keep the arrest of Luis here off the news for a while? Our suspect may be sleepless and turn the radio or television on,” asked Sam. “Yes, I’m sure I can strike a deal with MacNamee. I spoke with him earlier to fill him in on part of what we were up to. If I let him have Luis, I’m sure he’ll agree to maintain radio silence and give a report to the press that the search has been called off. That should raise a little hell in Arnie’s head,” suggested Kudrow. “Okay, Chief, I’m going to make that call then build a small fire up here on the ridge so I can give them a reference point. There is a small, flat spot about fifty feet south of here where I’ll build the fire. The wind isn’t gusting at all up here. It’s very quiet on top the ridge. Give me a few minutes so I can get Luis in handcuffs before you call the Sheriff so it looks right. Can I tell him about Richards?” “I’m surprised he isn’t in cuffs now, Sam. Jesus, you are taking one hell of a chance.” “Matter of trust, Chief. Besides you can’t climb this canyon in cuffs.” “All right, go ahead and let him call if it will keep him calm, but don’t underestimate that man; he is still dangerous. Do you copy?” asked Kudrow.
“Sure, Chief, I copy. I’ll catch you sometime tomorrow. Out.” Sam turned to Luis, “I suppose you heard most of that?” “What was the part about Richards?” asked Luis. “He is being arrested tomorrow morning, actually about six hours from right now. They will go in with a search warrant as well and may find additional evidence to use against him and to help you. Does that make you feel better?” “Yeah, a lot. Thanks. Are we ready to make that call you spoke about?” “We are,” replied Sam as he removed a notebook from his vest pocket. He pre-dialed the number at the top and then turned to face Luis. “Here’s what you say,” said Sam as he held his small flashlight on the notebook page. Read it aloud a couple of times so you are familiar with it. It should sound spontaneous. So don’t say it like you are reading it off a card. Assume that this is the man that actually killed Stacey Richards and that you are coming to get him for it. Don’t actually say anything that isn’t printed here. You can’t threaten to kill him. He’d use that against us in court. Got it?” Luis read it aloud several times, the third time with feeling, and announced he was ready. Sam punched ‘recall,’ checked the number that flashed, and pressed ‘send.’ He handed the phone to Luis when he heard Arnie pick up. “This is Calderon, remember me? You lied on the stand to put me away, but I’m out now. They are beating the bush for me, but I’m right here in Sommersville. I figured it all out and so will the police because you let one of those other girls scratch you. They’ll have DNA from that. They just didn’t have a suspect to match it up with. They will now. They’ll be coming for you, but I’m
going to get there first. I’m coming tonight. Keep the light on for me.” Spoke Luis. He smiled at Sam. “How did I do, coach?” “Hell, you had me scared. You did great, Luis. Now we just hope for the best. I have to cuff you now, that’s the deal,” said Sam. Luis backed away causing alarm to rise in Sam. He let one hand slide toward the safety on his rifle. “You said I could call my Momma?” Luis reminded him. “Certainly, no problem. Can you dial the number with the cuffs on?” “Sure.” Luis held his hands out in front of him and Sam snapped one of the bracelets on him using his left hand, his right still holding the rifle. When Luis moved his other hand in position so Sam could easily snap the other in place, Sam relaxed. “You want me to dial the number for you?” “No, I can do it fine, thanks but I’d like a little privacy. I have to talk to Momma. I just need to talk some personal stuff, okay?” “Not a problem,” said Sam. “Walk that way about thirty feet but stay in sight while I work on this fire.” Sam wasn’t worried about Luis as the precipice on that edge would have thwarted a human fly; yet, he noticed that Sam cradled the phone and moved downwind to make his call. He saw him fumble with the phone twice and called, “You having problems with that phone?” “No, I’m doing okay. I just wasn’t used to this model. I figured it out.” Replied Luis.
Page 262 Sam continued to watch Luis while also breaking branches from the Manzanita to use for fuel. As Sam. As it approached he could see it was the Bell 407. He brought the bigger branches close and then struck a match. they had probably pulled off from the search area so 262 . we’ll let the Sheriff’s boys do that.” answered Sam. probably transporting MacNamee himself. Into this he placed the torn up paper with which he had coached Luis when Luis had made his call to Arnie Drucker.” “No. He didn’t want to take a chance now with Luis in custody. “All done?” he asked. Well. He’d leave well enough alone.” Luis handed the phone back to Sam. too. “You want to put these cuffs on the back so it looks more by the book? I spent enough time in that damned jail to learn some of the finer points. I’ll say that we needed them in front for climbing out of the canyon. Sam was amazed at how quickly he could do that. He placed the grass nest on the ground in the open and laid small twigs and branches over it before lighting. Within minutes he was fast asleep and snoring lightly. He gathered enough of last year’s matted grass from beneath the newly sprung green grass around the rocks to form a bird’s nest. You want to eat something?” Luis didn’t but instead lay down next to the fire. he saw the running lights of one of the choppers coming from the southeast. Judging from the direction from which they approached. as there could be problems despite Luis’ assurances when the chopper approached and he realized that he was going back to his cell. sat down and rested by the fire. As the fire began to grow he added branches as he saw Luis returning to him. “Thanks. “Why don’t you have a seat by the fire while we wait. he’d have a nice ride back.
Yet. The sheriff had come the long way around. Two officers would meet him at the Richards’ residence at 5:40 a. to determine the possibility of coincidence with Drucker’s work schedule and other assaults. He had gone off shift at three and had no business being in the area in an official capacity. while a third officer would relieve the officer parked near Arnie Drucker’s residence. The correlation was extremely high for a number of unsolved rapes and also included the Fords Point incident. Arnie wasn’t working during the hours he reported seeing Luis on Guadaloupe Avenue. Kudrow had found that Officer Beltramo had not been able to get much worthwhile material from calling around but Gwen had. She was a board member of a Women’s’ Crisis Center and worked part time to counsel and did office tasks.Page 263 as not to draw attention to themselves. a list which Kudrow cross-checked with Milt Cogswell. and settled in for a few hours sleep. The group kept their its own private database of attacks.m.m. Luis still slept by the fire and didn’t awake until Sam kicked him away to scatter and stomp the fire as the chopper made its approach. That officer would send the officer in the unmarked vehicle home and park so as to block Arnie’s driveway until the chief arrived. rapes. or alert the media. big time. It was this list that she’d given to him in the office. and murders so a spokesperson could quote accurate statistics when applying for grants or simply beating up reluctant town councils. he could see how they might miss it as there were often shift changes to 263 . the Postmaster. Blake Kudrow set his alarm for 5:00 a. The defense team had blown that one. many council members either didn’t think they had problems or didn’t want to know what kind they had.
m. He had Officer Reilly turn on his Christmas tree light display and sent young Officer Penbroke around to the back of the house as he strode up to the door and pounded on it announcing. Kudrow had to yank himself out of a stupor to reach the shower. “You won’t have to do that. He’s hanging from a branch of a big oak. It’s going to be tough getting him down without dropping him into the deep 264 . That was just a ruse they planned to use to pressure their suspect. Nevertheless. But until he actually placed someone under arrest. Mr.Page 264 cover for employees who were out sick and overtime wasn’t unusual in such circumstances. they didn’t ask the question.” said Penbroke. They hadn’t done their homework. Penbroke. Chief. it was permissible to lie to a suspect who was lying to you. The poor girl had clawed at the dirt but not her assailant. Gwen had. There were still carpet fibers that were likely to match up to Arnie’s Buick’s carpet.” When there was no response. dress. It looks as if he’s been dead awhile as he is all covered with dew. and make his rendezvous with his men at 5:40 a. This didn’t bother Kudrow in the least. please. Kudrow angrily knocked louder than before. Drucker didn’t know that. and now provided him with some very useful material. Morning came much too soon. open the door. “Police.” roared Kudrow. “Sir looks like Richards hung himself last night. Richards. “You are supposed to be watching the backdoor. There would be no DNA test for material found under the fingernails.
Want to take a look?” replied Penbroke. a visibly shaken Arnie Drucker opened the door. Chief. It was just 6:30 a. I’ll personally notify his wife. Let’s go. Kudrow was surprised at finding Richards hanging from his oak tree. but before he could knock a second time. Take pictures of anything you find that looks interesting before you tag it for evidence. There’s a ladder down there in the water.” explained the rookie. he left the two officers to wait for the coroner and headed for the Drucker residence. Go through everything and box up any correspondence. when he arrived with lights flashing. “Sure.Page 265 end of the pool. We are still going to do that. It simplified things from his standpoint. and it will be a complete search if takes you all day. Kudrow went inside to see if there were any notes left or any obvious clues. He parked his cruiser behind that of Officer Aldrich and motioned him to accompany him. I’m not the one hanging from the oak limb. He probably stood on that to get up. Then you two tape the area off and take some pictures but save some film for the search. sorry I took your head off there. “Okay. thanks. Kudrow just stared 265 . We’ll call in the coroner before we touch anything.” After determining that Richards was beyond an ambulance call and that the rear door was open. He told Aldrich to watch the side and back but not to move in yet as the suspect might be armed and was probably upset. No reporters across the line and no relatives.m. Are you okay?” “I’m fine. Let’s go. Finding neither. He went to the front door and knocked once. Penbroke.
Page 266 hard at him. Mr. When Arnie’s signature on the paper indicated that he had received his Miranda rights. do you want to do this here on the porch or go inside so the neighbors don’t have to watch?” Arnie motioned him inside and stepped back. “Yes. 266 . Is that right?” Arnie nodded his agreement. It was 10:15 when they ushered him out of the house and into the back of his police car before a crowd of astonished neighbors and television camera crew. please. “but first I have to read you your rights. The gathering of information took longer than Kudrow had imagined it would take. One of those girls scratched you and we’ll match up the DNA in a short time.” “Certainly. I suppose you’d rather talk here than at an interrogation room downtown. “Make a note of that will you. Kudrow sat him down in the living room and filled out a few things on the form Aldrich handed him. after which we are going to go over there where you will walk me through the crime scene. Kudrow had him stand and cuffed his hands behind him before sitting him back down on the sofa.” agreed Kudrow. Aldrich. and get a clipboard with statements so he can sign off before we proceed. “We are going to talk about Fords Point and then we are going to talk about what really happened at the Hacienda. Drucker. “Do you want to waive the right to have a lawyer present and talk to me right now about all this?” Arnie shook his head.” Kudrow called to Aldrich and had him come up on the porch as he did so and then asked. yes. but I think I have to sit down. He wanted the emotional advantage the cuffs provided.
“Sorry. but that’s why we have jobs. How about you?” 267 . just relaxing after a job well done. Sam joined him minutes later and ordered a full breakfast.” She brought him coffee and the paper. I guess. What a lousy world we sometimes live in where a nice little kid has to die like that. It was on the chief and he intended to enjoy every bite of it. What are your plans for the day?” asked Kudrow. My fault.” “In a way. Sam. Mae. Sam. I have to do some paperwork for the budget and get that training exercise lined up. you warned me that he was clever. “No. “Just coffee for me. I never picked up on that move by Luis. Beyond that. Chief?” smiled Mae as she motioned him toward a table. “Coffee and breakfast. Guess he had the last laugh. her usual courtesy. You bring that stuff I wanted?” Sam handed him the envelope. Chief. it’s all for the best. I have to go to the range for qualifying sometime this week. “We debriefing again?” asked Sam. but Sam will be here and may want to eat. it’s just routine stuff. It was mid April and the air was already warm and pleasant and promised several days of sunshine and spring fragrance.Page 267 CHAPTER 26 Kudrow entered his favorite café and greeted Mae. I’ve got a brunch appointment in Bell Canyon today so I just want to get my engine started.
“I am meeting Gwen for brunch in Bell Canyon today. Officially. how the money went from one budget account to another without oversight. she could teach Ellen Richards a few things about blackmail. “Why Bell Canyon?” “Better choice to go somewhere else when you live in a town this size. Chief. 268 .” “You are seeing a lot of that lady lately. she just wants them to play by the same rules everyone else plays by. She’s a nice woman or a fiend depending upon which side of the fence you’re standing. keeps the tongues from wagging. but before she’s through she tells me that we’ll have a new Youth Center with funding for staff guaranteed for ten years and plans in place for a civic center for arts and music. is she going to throw the rascals out?” “No.” smiled Bear. but I do enjoy her. I’m not sure which sometimes. “Oh boy.” Kudrow explained.Page 268 Kudrow removed the contents of the manila envelope and arranged it in front of him. and why seven meetings of the council were conducted at a private residence in contradiction of the Sunshine Laws for open meetings. I assume that Ellen wasn’t charged formally?” asked Sam. I am taking the day off. They include who okayed building on the ridge top above town against regulations.” “Ouch. She found on her own a fund that the city leaders have used for a pork barrel all these years and is preparing to ask some hot questions of our elected leadership.
here’s what I was looking for. Then at 11:46 a call was made to 411. Probably something like I’m coming for you tonight Richards. 269 . she was hauled in front of a judge and told that she could still be charged if the County decides to do so.” “A call to 411. “What on earth do you suppose Luis said?” “I can guess. but I never elaborated.” said Sam “Exactly.” “It was just a little after that when Richards went out to hang himself. “It will be one lonely house!” “Ah.” commented Sam. that’s the next one dialed thirty-seconds later. that’s information.” offered Sam. The case is closed and everyone wants to leave it that way. At 11:44 you called Arnie Drucker. Speaking of Ellen Richards. and I already sent the photographs I got from Ellen to the newspaper? Who knows?” “I told him we had photographs. See here. You phoned me from the ridge at 11:43 p. our man Luis got Richards’ number. but it won’t. I never said they came from Ellen Richards?” “Luis put all that together himself.m. you know that she collected big on Anton Richard’s insurance.” “Holy smokes. your cellular phone bill for that night.” exclaimed Sam. can you believe him? And I thought he only called Momma Calderon. and you knew that she got the house as well?” “I didn’t know that.Page 269 “Not exactly.
I don’t want to ruin that.” “Sound like you are giving the kid a chance?” “I suppose I’ll keep him on if he’ll take some training and pass his reviews. Anyway we are meeting Luis in Bell Canyon today for brunch. And he was for Momma Rachel. He and the entire family are moving back to the southwest. He is pretty good with computers as well and found a file on Richards’ machine that links him to a number of known offenders around the country and to others who may be but just aren’t known yet. Apparently he didn’t know how to scrub his e-mail files from his hard drive. It must be buried in the cellar because we sure couldn’t 270 .” “He’s leaving?” “Well. and Dina. He’s tougher than I thought.” “No. “You going to share any of this with Gwen?” “You mean about Luis?” “Exactly. she still thinks he’s a knight in shining armor. His life here is over and he says he has enough saved to make the move. He handled that business with Richards without blinking. Penbroke really came through for us. he knows he has no life here. Even if the court excused him the townspeople aren’t ready to do that.Page 270 “Anyway. That little key you found fits the cuffs that were with them. It’s kind of a farewell event so we thought it would be better to do it there.” said Kudrow. Texas maybe. He found chains that Richards likely used on Stacey in a bag in the garage that was marked tire chains. Esmeralda. Jorge.
I asked Sheriff McNamee to keep Arnie Drucker in an isolation cell while we worked on getting Luis released. “The one I had Luis make that night. and he wouldn’t have had someone else do it. “Arnie thought Luis would kill him for what he did to Stacey Richards or you did?” asked Bear. If they were put together in the same jail for any length of time.” said Kudrow. What did he say to Gwen do you suppose?” asked Sam. There was another call Luis made at 11:47 to Gwen Lissner. Good thing that he never got to Richards or we really would have had to put him away for murder. You never saw anyone so happy to be in police custody.” explained Kudrow.” “Well. 271 .Page 271 find it when we looked before his arraignment. I thought he was having trouble manipulating the phone with his cuffs on and just fumbling around. that certainly pushed him over the edge. “You think so?” asked Sam. Look at your phone print out.’ Kudrow pointed to the record. “Why did Arnie Drucker cave in so easily? Was it just the phone call?” “Which one?” asked Kudrow. “Arnie told me as much when I took his statement.” “What!” exclaimed Sam. “My God that man was busy. Luis would have found a way to get to him. “Right there. “I know it as sure as I’m talking to you now.” said Kudrow.
Chief.” explained Kudrow. “That being?” 272 . And there is a little more.” said Sam. He knew who it was so he called Gwen. There are some aspects of the trial procedure where she coached the witness so she doesn’t want that exposed. I never let that slip.Page 272 “I asked her that. “Are you asking?” queried Kudrow. “I’m afraid to ask. “Apparently he recognized Arnie’s voice from the trial. Sam. She suggested that he might like to get these back in exchange for a small favor. “Sure.” continued Kudrow. She will keep quiet about it. “That could come back to haunt us. maybe screw up the arrest?” worried Sam. Gwen’s print out of names and dates of attacks on women from the Women’s Crises center correlated with Arnie’s schedule.” argued Sam. in for a nickel in for a dime. She said he told her he had just made a call to Arnie Drucker. It confirmed my suspicions.” “Gwen called the Channel 4 news director at midnight and reminded him that she had the tapes of his botched and phony journalism that had worked to help convict an innocent man. Luis won’t say anything and Gwen won’t.” “He couldn’t have known Drucker was the suspect. Let me have it all.” explained Kudrow. “Not to worry.
he knew his photo would be on every television screen and newspaper in the state.” “Well.” “I still don’t see the angle?” questioned Sam.m. The phone call set him up and the press arriving made him cave in.” commented Kudrow. that’s why I don’t mind him moving out of our jurisdiction. Scares me a little. and she’d give them the tapes.” 273 .Page 273 “The deal was that she would turn over the identity of the real killer of Stacey Richards so that Channel 4 could have an exclusive if they promised to do a top notch job of journalism this time. I understand why he called Anton Richards. too. “She told them to meet her at her home at 6:45 a. She gave them Arnie Drucker’s address instead then drove up there to meet them.” said Sam. I understand his reluctance to mention that he had met Stacey during the early questioning. “that explains why the press showed up so soon.” exclaimed Sam. “but I see something else in him. He figured it had all come to an end so he may as well just give it up. and Arnie later told me that when he saw the press vans roll up and cameras being set up.” “Sure.” “Oh my God. that many of the women he’d assaulted would come forward to testify. It’s always just under the surface beneath the smile he wears most of the time. Luis really told us the truth about almost everything. “Sure. He knew it was all over.
Sam Bear. Enjoy your visit with Luis and Gwen and give her my best. and nailing 274 . but I appreciate the honor and the promotion. I’ll do that for sure. returning the chief’s handshake. too. MacNamee knows that.” “I’ll do that. It had been a long time since he had felt this way. You did good work and you risked a lot going after that guy.” With that Kudrow walked out into the spring air thinking that once again all was right in the world. wanted to know if I would part with you.” laughed Sam. too. “No. Then. He phoned me the day after and wanted to hire you on the spot. I’m glad you’re taking a little time off. Sam. We played it down because of our deal with the Sheriff and his department’s need to save face. Lieutenant Sam Bear. you earned it. He wasn’t sure whether it was because this case was wrapped up or because he saw Sam Bear growing into the kind of officer that could take over what he felt was his proprietary interest as chief of the department. I need to thank you. it may have been the relief he experienced by seeing the town council backing off from their directives. Please enjoy your breakfast. Chief?” “Sure. I still can’t believe I went for that bit about calling his Momma. exposing Richards.Page 274 “Glad it worked out Chief. Chief. They had accorded him great respect since his arrest of Calderon and the two inept felons. greater yet after solving the crime. but you were the guy. Do you want to go?” “No thanks. “Lieutenant. I promise I’ll spend the extra money as soon as possible.” said Kudrow standing up and offering Sam his hand.
white long-sleeved shirt and a windbreaker. maybe for the better. he said he would be satisfied for nothing less than a captain’s rank for the young man in a few years. He hadn’t felt this good in years and he wasn’t sure what it meant for him. That would come in time. On a boulevard in Bell canyon. a few for himself. they were going to lose him to Sheriff McNamee. about five thousand in cash. a letter of credit from Bell Canyon Wells Fargo. Bernice was happy. and evidence of bank securities in the mid six figures. dressed in blue jeans. There would be many that would remember the affront to Luis. cordovan loafers. He glanced at his watch and realized he needed to hurry. Most of all. and a 275 . He’d offer his hand honestly to Luis and wish him well. He’d noticed that Luis had already sold off the chickens and goats and the remainder of his firewood. When they gave their assent. They didn’t even flinch when he told them that these results could not have occurred without the services of Sam Bear. In the small trunk space were his overnight bag. He knew the town was changing again. he was happy because he was on his way to meet Gwen. and that if they didn’t authorize funds for lieutenant status. He gently pressed the accelerator of his Replicar blue Ford Cobra and took quiet joy in the power he knew he could muster at a second’s notice. there were not yet enough to regret it. He supposed that the sale of the property would bring in enough money to care for the family wherever they settled. the town council was happy.Page 275 Drucker. and he’d told the city manager that he wasn’t sitting on any more interagency bullshit panels so don’t even call him about that. Luis Torres. Next to him on the seat was a bag of new books to give to Gwen.
It was the best of all possible days. thought Luis. too. and it was Thursday.Page 276 Cuban cigar for the chief to show there were no hard feelings. 276 . He had sent Momma and the others on to Texas where they would be met by an aunt while he drove down a week later.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.