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BY: Forrest Martino
Writers Guild of America
MYSTERY FICTION – Crime Thriller
The storyline for FATAL ENTRY was developed while I was in Japan, shortly after the 9-11 attack on the Twin Towers. At the time, I thought that the conflict between the US and radical Islamic forces would be short lived. I believed this story would be a “period piece”… a novel specific to a short time in history where the events in the story would have a shelf-life. It was assumed that the terrorist attacks would come to an end or under control and peace would prevail between the different cultures. Ten years and two presidents later, the fighting continues… with no end in site. The sides are no closer now to resolving the conflict than they were when the story was written. The perseverance of both sides in the conflict makes this story more relevant now than when it was written. This novel can be enjoyed as a mystery-thriller with emphasis on the action hero and forensic science. Or it can be read as a story rich in double meanings and metaphors. The allegorical level explores the similarities between the actions of countries, human nature, and animal instincts. With dismay that the cultural conflict of the story rages on, I present FATAL ENTRY- where it is pointed out that the never-changing attitudes of man (and the actions of his countries) are rooted in animal behavior. Forrest Martino 2011
in the usual religious context. pious in a convent. die painful lingering deaths by cancer. The source and method of spread remained a mystery. he searched to solve his own murder… one last case for the homicide detective. The intermittent. This time it was not a question in religious context. And now lying in this terminal condition. In the advanced state of his demise he now lacked the strength to move his body or lift his arms. It is random. John Lawson also asked the question of “why me” for another reason. All that was known of the plague was that two weeks after initial symptoms.each identical to Detective Lawson’s. The decay was well advanced in his eyes. he was even more God fearing. was this his own test. Little was known of this disease. Nuns. throat. his blood. it became a symbol of stability for the area along the Illinois River. black blood. He had taught and helped people throughout his life. 330 years later. Chapter 1 – DEATHBED INQUISITION AS HE LAY close to death. He had been a God fearing man. So why him? This was a question driven by his trade.. Serial rapists win the lottery worth millions of dollars. All of the afflicted had already become casualties.his passion. He wondered. stomach. nasal passages and the limbs of his once recognizable body. His entire body was covered with open black-blue blisters and lesions. First. Lieutenant John Lawson in the final stages of his terminal condition set his mind to solve a crime… the crime of his own murder. like that of the biblical Job? He remembered that the world was full of injustices. His lifeless limbs were covered with blood. a good father. who live their whole lives. The pattern of the outbreaks throughout the United States appeared random and the source was unknown. Each time he coughed he could taste the blood as it loosened from the raw. nose. The city dated back to 1680 where it became a fort to protect from the nightmare of Indian aggressions. Now. the areas of affliction dotted the geography like their own pattern of lesions. This was the condition of Homicide Detective John Lawson and hundreds of other Americans throughout the United States. the city was dealing with another type of nightmare… another type of aggression.one of the 18 areas across the country whose residents had come into contact with the deadly disease. His mind focused enough to wonder the age-old question asked on our death-bed … “Why me?” John Lawson asked the question for two reasons. and a good husband. John Lawson began to calculate how much . open sores in his throat. lungs. As he gasped for his precious remaining breaths he could smell his own decay. mouth. involuntary movements from the coughs also caused tiny trickles of blood to slide down from his decayed eyes like tears… tears of black blood. his profession . Despite his agony Lawson remained lucid. Illinois . When plotted on a map. Why me God? The dying man looked back over his life. He had been a good man. Lawson came to the conclusion that God does not intervene in our lives . He was a Homicide Detective… the best in his field. and bowels he thought of the other patients he had seen in his ward. As he fought back the pain in his eyes.and he answered the religious riddle “why me?” to himself. there was a horrible death.. As the fort grew into a town. John was aware that the outcome was always death. This hospital room was in the city of Peoria.
my wife’s glad I’m gaining weight. No justice. John Lawson dying wish was to find the pattern and solve this one last mystery. soon to follow. It was random. Are your going to eat all that? I thought you were watching your weight?” “Nah. The owner smiled ear to ear as he hustled at the clattering cash register.” The wise-crack came from Officer Jerry Geraldi. She’s always tellin’ me ‘I’m worth my weight in gold’. what’s our offense? This is like a prison. Her two diners were regulars from the Peoria City Police Department. He had been randomly selected for this death sentence. He tried to refocus – why did he catch it? When did he catch it? Where was he exposed? He had his reason for why he caught the disease. He based his guess on others he had seen carried out to make more room for more dying. It had been a hard gray winter and the sun had not shined brightly for months. Mildred. He tried to smile in appreciation of the insect’s message. what did the afflicted have in common? Chapter 2 – BREAKING BREAD Thursday Morning OBLIVIOUS TO THE HORRORS at the hospital. “Jerry you are always in a good mood. This sunshine and beautiful morning has the kitchen staff screwing off back there. approached her table carrying four plates supported by bent elbows. How did he and all the others end up with this deadly disease? Where did he catch it? What was the point of ingress? Besides this horrible ending. His old friends – the flies and maggots. Mildred was accustomed to responding to bad jokes and had a rehearsed snicker loaded and ready.” A waitress for ten years. Allah. This day radiated the first warmth of spring and the curtains were open to display the beautiful March morning. then the distribution had a pattern. Jesus? Did the disease have natural origins or was it caused by man? If it was created by man. Solid tip she thought. “Hey. but could not move his face muscles. John Lawson was too weak to move. A sudden anxiety swept over him as his analytical mind concluded he didn’t have many breathes left before he too would be carried out as a corpse. He had the answers to his questions of why me? Both answers were the same.” She skillfully distributed the plates and swatted flies in one smooth movement. It was random. She hoped the overdue food had not been missed and was relieved to find her customers comfortable. Sorry the food is late. the local diner was doing a brisk business. But was the disease the wrath of God? Which God? Buddha. The brightness of the sun was welcome even if it caused the fly population to become visible as it swirled around the food. he thought. “There you go gentlemen. Mildred smiled. Flies flew unimpeded around the bed and landed upon his arm. Three of the four plates were placed in front of Jerry.time he had left. Hoping to advance her tip-potential the waitress smiled and said in a friendly way. Her over-reaction to the bad joke caused the other officer to look up from his . As the plates slid off her elbow the officer with the table at his chest grinned. They sat comfortably in a booth across from each other with the table repositioned to accommodate their size difference. Rapists and nuns. His eyes now felt as if they had been stabbed with a cherry red poker that penetrated to the center of his head. Neither he nor any of the others who contracted this deadly disease deserved this kind of ending. We’ve been on bread and water for almost an hour now. The answer to his professional question was the same as his theological question. the waitress.
All testosterone. good for his Napoleonic complex. “You don’t have to laugh at his bad jokes Mildred. General insubordination he calls it. “Can I get you guys anything else? And are you sure I got the order right? Three plates go to you and just salad and coffee to Matt?” Jerry chomping.. who is the cute cop? The one with the long hair and sleeves rolled up? He looks like a muscle-bound Jim Morrison. Think of poor me. “Yeah. Matt Preston. paused to take a bite and said. and Chief Wilson knows it. The two cops had patrolled the city of Peoria together for five years. “Hey. “So Matt. Boxer too. “At this point Jerry.O. the large officer.” Jerry held his burger to his mouth. The smell of coffee and onionflavored grease hung in the air. Before she could duck into the kitchen. But I still wouldn’t mind going a few rounds with him sometime. He always cites examples of my bad attitude and defiance against authority. But I know he cares a lot for his kids.D. I know his exwife. We all went to school together. cheese-burger and pie. “You got it right Mildred. She slams on him every chance she gets. That used to work in the day of Genghis Kahn. Preston looked jealously across and down at his partner who was already fully involved in his meal. The sun shining through the openings in the blinds projected diagonal beams on the blue kitchen smoke. stay clear of that one. I’ve learned to ignore him. So girl. being the Patrol Officer Dispatch car they shared ten hours a day. The Chief nails me every year in my performance reviews. if you know what’s good for you. You know. Mightmeans-right. He’ll hold me back as long as he can. “I have a problem with our modern-day chain of command. I think the strongest. I think he likes being my boss just so he can order someone around who’s bigger than him. ah… alpha-male outlook around the Chief. Wilson. “That prick. Mildred was stopped by a new waitress. You might want to soften your …..” She flashed a smile at his surly remark but wasn’t sure if he was serious or joking.” Jerry added to be agreeable.two peas in a pod. Terminator gets the salad and I get the fries. when do you think your new assignment will come through?” Matt swiped at a fly on Jerry’s plate. The little bastard keeps notes on my behavior.” Jerry salting his fries. This is the 21st century Matt. Genghis never worried about being politically correct as he raped and pillaged his enemies. As he tried to scoot closer to the table he was blocked by his muscular thighs.” Matt shrugged and gazed hungrily at Jerry’s burger. I have to put up with it all day. all-state running back. He is an exball player. I hear ya. freshly hired from the local college. folded the newspaper and looked unenthusiastically at his plate.” Officers Matt Preston and Jerry Geraldi . if we paid that guy what he was worth we’d get in trouble with the minimum wage law. alpha-male of the tribe should rule.” Matt sighed. You believe that?” .” “That is Matt Preston.” “It is too late. The P. I don’t know if it is coming through. “Yeah.newspaper and roll his eyes sympathetically at the waitress. but it would be better if you kept that philosophy locked away in the recesses of your CroMagnon brain.” “Yeah.
Jerry said barely understandable from the chunks of food being stuffed in his mouth. “Bitch session over”. “Sorry Naomi. “I guess patrol-car duty is my destiny since I can’t sell out to all that politically correct bullshit. grandmotherly voice filled the car from the radio. Jerry gave him a look of pity as he threw down the bill plus a large tip. “Unit 12 here. Even with distortion from bad speakers you could hear the calm professional pride in her voice. Naomi would deliver the message in the same unemotional voice. Protocol required the officers receive the call in the privacy of their car. The code 10-50 indicated a fatality. but I just gotta get out of this…” A radio tone stopped the conversation midsentence as both officers turned their heads to find the best angle to listen. man with a gun. See the receptionist for further information. Matt slid out of the booth lifting the table with his legs.” It was the familiar voice of Naomi Feldstein. 1700 Healthway Drive. I’ve been assigned to this patrol car so long. The police pager sang with a sound of an urgent assignment to follow. people think I like it. from cat-in-a-tree to nuclear-bomb blast. A calm. at Memorial Hospital. at least I’m not a kiss-ass.” Her return of silence spoke that the joke was out of place on this call.Matt slugged his coffee and picked at his salad. “Just the facts ma’am. All those brownnose guys I’ve trained that moved up… Ah that’s OK. He grabbed at what was left of Jerry’s fries.” Matt slid in the driver’s seat and closed the door just as a curious old man shuffled over to eavesdrop. With half digested food and anxiety of the call. Justifying “I hate to waste food”. “Jerry. The pulsing high pitch signified the message was not to be overheard by the public. The caller got disconnected. Clear to receive call. The waitress smiled to herself as she inventoried the money dropping to the table. and mixed with the words man with a gun didn’t soften the meaning any. Swallowing the last of his lunch just in time.” Matt tossed his fork into the bowl with defeat. She had been correct about the joyful mood of her customers. Any additional information?” “That’s all we have at this time Jerry. “10-50 Public disturbance. the two officers hurried off to the car radio. The first numbers out of the radio introduced the seriousness of the message. No matter what the type of call. No offence to you partner.” . That mood was about to change. Jerry joked back in his Jack Web voice. Chapter 3 – BRAINS AND BALLS JERRY DUCKED INSIDE the car and grabbed the radio mike.
.. and immigrant Timesquare bombers. five minutes ETA. terrorism had come home to roost in America. Matt drove slowly through the parking lot to scout the building with lights and siren off. “There is a . They gave each other a look of amusement mixed with seriousness as they spotted the cautionary sign on the door that stated “Illegal to carry firearms beyond this point... People are always dying at the hospital.. What do you make of that.” Matt nodded in agreement and grinned.” Both men had children born at the hospital where the disturbance was reported. “I dunno. “Let’s pull into the ambulance zone. “10-50... Somebody’s dead.Doctor Sheridan. The continuing military action in Afghanistan and Iraq layered with unemployment fed the country’s anxiety. dying of . “You’d think the dispatch could have given us something more to go with. who. so we can hear from the people coming out. pointing back. “Finest protection for vital organs. strange disease. crying. came to visit his father. From their long time together Jerry was familiar with Matt’s attention deficit disorder. With guns drawn Matt and Jerry moved quickly from the car to the protection of the brick on both sides of the emergency entrance..boy inside .. They had previously joked that since most men think with their penis you could get by with a head-shot. Jerry joked to break the serious moment. He engaged him to pull him back. about 13. An elderly lady appeared from behind the reception desk and sprinted outside when she saw the officers. checking and confirming the location out of habit. the ...“We’re in route. She described the situation as best as she could breathing hard between words. People in hospital garb were running out of the building.. Jerry had the key-map in his hands. students gunned down at schools. We sure didn’t get much information to go on.” . He smiled and quoted the promotional saying in the user’s manual. police were shot in a coffee shop. Jerry’s fit loose and Matt’s too tight..” “Easy now. partner?” Matt’s attention snapped back to Jerry and joked to cover his embarrassment. but not the reverse.the brains and the balls. He did things by the book. He went off .... When they had been issued the protective gear they noticed the vests did not cover a few vital organs .” It was mid-morning. The time of day was not normal for a shooting death.” “I guess our man can’t read”... Everyone seemed to know what was going on better than the police. “Catch your breath ma’am. He spotted his girlfriend’s car parked in the RESERVED FOR CITY OFFICIAL parking spot.. The occurrence of violent shootings was at an all-time high. Recently. As they pulled around a corner to the entrance the scene was pandemonium. Their heads swung back and forth like they were viewing a tennis match in an attempt to better understand the situation. Matt and Jerry were the first police on the scene..” Matt’s frustration showing. one mile down the street from their Denny’s. and shot… the doctor. Since the September 11th World Trade Center wakeupcall. plumb crazy.. And in this case he found the location literally by the book. His father is in isolation..” Jerry said in a calm tone. Matt knew the exact location. Jerry punched at his chest to indicate he was now wearing a bullet-proof vest.. Matt’s mind wandered as he drove to the hospital.” The officers exited their car and Jerry grabbed the Kevlar vests and threw one to Matt. a military doctor had gone berserk at an Army fort. Jerry pointed and spoke calmly. Air flights also periodically came under siege with flammable liquids and explosive underwear. and the sun remained bright and unseasonably hot for March.
The gunman. how many shots were fired when the doctor was killed?” “I counted two”. The direction of approaching sirens told Matt and Jerry that other police cars were arriving on the scene from the parking lot entrance. As police officers. Matt noticed his body-heat from the adrenaline of the situation. They simultaneously lowered their guns to a non-threatening angle toward the floor. As the lady paused to catch her breath. It belonged to his girlfriend Shannon. Matt and Jerry spread apart. With only money on the line Matt was never motivated to count cards at a blackjack game. They simultaneously moved slowly in through the door. Number four Matt mentally recorded. Matt leaned over to get a better view and accidentally tripped the weight sensor at the entrance. He was planning to propose marriage to her shortly. had enough mental control in this situation to withhold firing at the swinging doors. And by the sound of that last shot. The two glass doors swooshed open. Matt wondered. It was at that moment that another type of distraction entered the competition. He held a gun to her head. Bitter-sweet.he was acting with a plan.” Another shot. The startled gunman swung his gun in the direction of the door but didn’t fire. He had one big itch begging to be scratched. they were there as the authority to intervene in that plan. She occupied his thoughts most of the time when his mind wandered. you have been a great help. actually just a boy. Concentrate Preston he said to himself. They turned the corner and peered through the glass door to see a young female hostage being drug around by her hair by a young but large boy. Matt noticed he had good control of his gun. Matt and Jerry knew that the time to intervene was immediate.” Her information confirmed the gun and was detailed for an elderly lady. From the volume and tone of the explosion. This was both good and bad. Once clear of the door it swooshed shut behind them. please go to the parking lot and find cover. Matt asked. He knew his knowledge of an opponents weaponry meant life or death. Six shots in the barrel. 357 revolver. A gunshot and scream from inside the hospital abruptly brought his attention back to the situation at hand. The boy and hostage were at the other end of the emergency room lobby at a distance out of range of an unpracticed pistol hit. but bad he had a plan. That meant she was in the area – possibly inside. The boy was soaked with sweat and he had a huge flow of tears from both corners of his eyes. It was good he was rational. In all his 38 years of life and 13 years on the force Matt had never before seen such an outpour of fluid from eyes. This meant he was not out of his head . His clothes were soaked and sweat ran down the small of his back and pooled in the V of his buttocks.Matt was doing his best to keep his patience with the broken message from the old lady. Both men instinctively ducked at the sound of the loud. The two officers were caught in the open door and had to either retreat or move forward. Even with police back-up approaching. “Ma’am. He wondered if Jerry had picked up on the same meaning. But with higher stakes he always paid close attention to the number of rounds fired on a scene. “Give me the drugs bitch or I will finish you off like that worthless doctor.” Matt could tell from the quivering pitch of the boy’s scream that he was close to breaking. Matt judged the sound of the shot to be from a . deep crack of the gun. “Thank you ma’am”. he’s movin’ this way. And now. Matt’s mind began wandering to the car in the parking lot he had recognized. . was it from his sorrow or some other physiological factor? Matt focused intently on the gunman’s nonverbal signals. he found his mind wandering. she responded confidently. Matt felt guilty for losing patience with her earlier. They could hear a young man’s voice screaming. even at this moment of extreme job pressure and mental strain. “It looked like a Ruger Security Six.
Didn’t take me seriously. in there … this is the police. I can tell she’s heading the same way fast. and then a deeper. Even though the voice had barely reached puberty the command was taken seriously since he was holding a gun. Bad timing Jerry thought. ta help them”. “I want my mother and father to stop suffering.” After more screeching feedback. “They’s already dead. Words as loud as thunder spoken with lightning bolts spewing from his mouth were not going to be obeyed by this gun-waving kid. “You. Didn’t listen. They are good people and they sure as hell don’t deserve to suffer like this. Blood began flowing from his eyes. After a moment of silence he answered the question in a voice more childlike and compassionate.” He began to cry again. The boy had two shots left. Matt’s itch was on fire. I can barely recognize Pa. This was not the calming effect they were striving for with the boy. now. Additional police arrived and took up position outside the hospital entrance. Now! Right fucking now! Yes.. I want them to sleep. the boy became agitated and hyper again. He had seen both his Ma and Pa in this condition. “That bastard blew me off. “I want my folks on drugs now so they will be out of pain. Drop the gun!” Jerry yelled to the boy. ya know.. And Ma. From the looks on the officers’ faces the boy sensed something had changed. Matt yelled over his shoulder. “Did you kill a doctor?” Even with amplification and tone control adjusted to boost the bass. you should see’em…” The boy began to cry again. I want my folks to stop suff’rin’. The boy walked toward the officers jerking his hostage in front of him with her arms flailing like a rag doll.” he spoke softly as he smiled sadly. “Drop the gun. Just as the boy’s emotion changed from violent to a peaceful calm. his voice trailed off. You gotta help me.” He yelled to the direction of the megaphone. Just a drug-addict punk looking for easy prey? The boy continued to move the gun back and forth in a rhythmic motion like he was using a paint-brush instead of a deadly weapon. They raised their guns in unison when the youth reached a distance . one hostage. He moved fast at first and then his movement slowed as he got closer to the officers. high pitched voice of Chief Wilson. darker red. He wiped his tears and saw the blood. now wild-eyed with confusion.” Suddenly. Slowly at first. Jerry tried to speak calmly. and onto the floor. “Back off!” the boy yelled in his own commanding tones. with emphasis on the word now. He knew it was the beginning of the end for him. I killed the fucking doctor. “I guess I’ll be joinin’ them now. Matt figured at this point it didn’t matter what voice was used. Not now. The fluid flowing from his eyes was unnatural like a scene from a B-grade horror movie. as if to grasp the seriousness of the situation. “I want the drugs. Matt and Jerry looked at each other shaking their heads both thinking Bad timing. he repeated as he jerked on the girl. something horribly out of place with his remorse. “They are in such pain. We know you are armed. “We got it under control here Chief. But something was different in the tears now. The kid probably figured the unarmed hospital would be an easy target. Matt could tell the whiny. fully into the focus of the situation commanded. and I want them now”.” He softened again.“Police officers. The wild-eyed youth swung the gun back and forth from one cop to the other. “What are you after? What exactly do you want?” At the mention of drugs everyone at the scene had already figured he was a junkie in need of a fix. his chest. Matt and Jerry held their positions as the boy and hostage crossed the lobby towards them.” Matt used his practiced voice-of-authority. and a plan. They were visible to the boy through the window and he could see they had guns drawn. Brown drops began to flow onto his cheeks. screeching feedback of a portable megaphone pierced the silence. Matt. Lay down your weapons and come out peacefully..
close enough to be accurate with his pistol. He was at the mercy of a prepubescent kid. Soft whimpers strengthened into deeps sobs. especially beneath his armor-vest. Then he thought about their joke from the vest’s user manual. Matt hated how guns could shift the natural laws and hierarchy from the physically powerful to the weak and undeserving. Matt turned slowly and began the reach for scratch and long overdue relief. His girlfriend Shannon dressed in a lab-coat was peering down at him smiling with a halo of florescent ceiling-lights. All signs of his remorse gone. “Don’t move”.fast enough to quickly reach behind and beneath his vest but slow enough not to attract attention to his movement by the boy. now seemingly unaware of the officers. Loosening his grip on the girl he gave her an apologetic look and began to cry. Oh well. the boy yelled. He calculated the balance of speed to scratch his itch . His size and strength meant nothing now. The movement was all too suspicious to the assailant. Shannon was in her midthirties. His thoughts drifted to the unfairness of guns. “If you’re going to get shot.” Matt thought. he was looking down the barrel of a revolver pointed at him . Before the little man invented the gun that tainted the natural laws of survival. Her 5’5” petite figure was tight and firm as any hardbody model on the cover of the magazines . But he did not calculate correctly. Both the speed and angle of the movement caused the open-mouthed sobs of the boy to snap shut. Her eyes widened with horror as she caught sight of the color of the wetness falling onto her. Shot number five caught him pointblank in the chest and drove him onto his backside. With the confrontation defused for the moment Matt again became aware of his own fluid flow.ready to be fired. Matt planned his movement. He wished he lived at a time before guns existed. what a beautiful sight to awake to. Matt hated guns. the hospital is as good of place as any. And now. The itch was gone. Even at the close range the coverage from his hostage made any shot impossible for the officers. Chapter 4 – WISHFUL THINKING Thursday MATT DIDN’T KNOW what had happened after the shot. Conscious of his fellow policemen behind him and the assailant in front of him. Matt froze except to take a deep breath. Matt was close enough to see his finger tighten on the trigger. her genetics and healthful lifestyle made her look twenty. He regained consciousness and was greeted with a view of an angel in white. Anyone strong enough to pull a trigger can kill or make someone do something by force. Drops of blood from his eyes pooled on the ground. Blood from his tears rained down onto the shoulder of his captive. It was also happening slow. Protects vital organs. The boy stopped his forward movement and shifted the position of his hostage for maximum protection. “Easy chief”. This was Matt’s last thought before his ears filled with the explosion from the gun. The boy showed his teeth menacingly. Matt reassured him as he moved his hand back forward. except brains and balls. With a jerky movement the boy pointed the gun directly at Matt and squinted his bloody eyes suspiciously. After a quick glance toward Jerry he pulled his human shield back tight against him. Matt sensed he was going to be shot. He continued to sweat profusely. It was all happening so fast. The girl remained frozen. Matt had an itch that demanded relief and he could not stand the discomfort any longer. As the boy continued to cry he withdrew from the situation. we are just animals trying to keep the species going. His mind drifted. He lowered his shoulders in a defeated gesture and looked up at the officers shaking his head as if he couldn’t believe this was happening. Matt’s mind continued to wander. however.
Shannon was also perfection above the neck: flawless skin. the sweetest lady with the perfect face attached to the perfect body. she said. Up in isolation. she too looked on with affection. Matt.” . on two. lets get you cleaned up”. have taken over jurisdiction. “They know it doesn’t travel by air. As she looked down at the groggy officer. Matt was from a family of five brothers and he was out of his element when communicating with women. Hope they learn something from it. he turned the gun on himself. caring. why aren’t you over there with them Miss Health Inspector? Do you think the kid’s hostage will catch it?” “Haven’t a clue. At least she thought she did. They stood close together and bent over looking like a football huddle. Remember the early cases of AIDs when nobody was sure if it spread by kissing or mosquitoes? This kid cried a river for is parents and the flood gates are open. That’s like in an old zombie movie Night of the Living Dead. She knew his feelings. “Matt. it’s not your lucky day. I don’t even show up on the menu. A lowly City Health Official like me is so far down on the food chain. Shannon felt she had a sixth sense to compensate for his inability to communicate. She gazed affectionately into his eyes and whispered “I’m so glad you are ok. I’m sorry. You did good Copper. “Hey partner. especially on the ex-hostage.” Shannon tried to reposition Matt’s hair by stroking it into place. Looks like she got some in her mouth. “I wish it was that. but they still aren’t sure about contact exposure.” Jerry looking worried whispered. Jerry continued maintaining his whisper.” Matt laughed and spoke without the sensitivity of a hush “Eating brains. you OK?” Matt looked over and saw an oversized medical crew down the hall. This becomes a case study on whether the disease he had gets transmitted by eating the brains of the sick. It was shot number six. what is that all about? QB sneak… on fourth down and goal to go. ready break!” Matt joked. thinking his day was over. Making her proud was day-to-day motivation. To Matt. Jerry leaned down with a message that would put that plan to an end. “Sorry.” “So why such a beehive around the guy? The dude’s dead. Chief Wilson wants to see you in hospital room 316 right away. and so emotionally vulnerable. and looking after ‘Officer-down’ here is it. I’ve got other priorities.seen at the grocery-store checkout line. Blew his compassionate brains out all over the place.” Matt looked back into her caring eyes. He wondered how she would respond to his marriage proposal. perfect smile and a petite little turned-up nose.C. but the brains are everywhere. “Come on.” “Room 316. After he fired at you. We’ll have to wait and see what the bad blood in her mouth does to her. He made her feel safe. “Yeah. I’m proud of you. Handsome. “Brace yourself partner. “And speaking of Officials.D. why was the Chief hurt?” Matt said enthusiastically to joke about his well-known dislike of Chief Wilson. if I can interrupt you. Health Officials are on a feeding frenzy. “All the attention is on what remains of the caring son. She loved him… the gentle giant.” Jerry sensed the time was right and changed the subject.” The comment caused several medical personnel to glance over shaking their heads with distasteful looks. “Yeah.” Jerry lowered his voice. Did she care for him that much? Was he even ready to remarry? Shannon stood and addressed Jerry’s question. looked forward to a hot shower and cold beer. it’s not your lucky day Matt. Jerry lifted his eyebrows and shook his head slowly as if he knew something the others didn’t. THOSE officials from the C.” Jerry continued turning to Shannon.
too numerous to process. they now were the walking dead too. In the woods adjacent to the reservoir. Instead of heading for his car according to SOP. Matt was only now learning that the number of afflicted had advanced this far. He saw Lieutenant Lawson’s wife crying into Chief Wilson’s chest but did not connect the meaning. Defeated. Matt looked into the room from the door window and did not recognize the person lying in the bed.” The monotonic. feet. It was no different outside room 316 except that Matt recognized some of the people. sorrow-filled faces appeared at each room passed. The officers involuntarily covered their mouths and noses with cupped hands in an attempt to filter the sickening smell of the rotting corpses. Matt hoped the “word” that it wasn’t spread by air was correct. that smell. He also noticed the hospital staff was scarce no doubt because it had not been determined how the disease was spread. and in the hands of the Lord. Chief Wilson barked to Naomi through the headset. Matt deduced from the piles of debris marked with the biohazard symbol that this was the isolation ward with patients infected with the new disease. Jesus fucking Christ. GETTING OFF THE elevator on the third floor was like stepping into another building. A building where the order and cleanliness was replaced by chaos and clutter. Hordes of sluggish flies filled the cold air. “What is it? Go ahead. Can you smell that smell… The smell that surrounds you. When had the Lieutenant died? The amount of decomposition and rotted flesh looked as if he had been dead for five days. the view through the doors was the same in each room. 314. It was evident that the isolation-ward at Peoria’s hospital was not equipped to handle the large fatalities produced by the disease. homicide reported at 1585 Christian Boulevard. Jerry sang the lyrics from the Lynyrd Skynyrd song to distract from gruesome sights around them. Any other time he would have joined in singing. Unclaimed bodies. Ooh Ooh. Matt was glad for the distraction. They looked at each other both realizing at the same time that if the disease was transmitted in the air. Next to the YMCA. Matt was not a religious man. Chief Wilson sensed that Matt didn’t recognize the person in the bed and said the appropriate and compassionate thing.” The Chief gave Matt a meaningful look as he spoke the words “your husband”. “Chief there’s another 10-50.” . Matt had never seen black blood pouring from lesions or eyes decayed to that extent. He recoiled at the decay of his friend’s face. The look on Wilson’s face was directed toward Matt saying Do I have to tell you everything you dumb-shit. what a horrible way to die. “Your husband is out of the suffering now Mrs. But at this moment he was affected emotionally and thought to himself. Holy cow. But this was a new sight he would not forget. The area smelled of medical fumes mixed with the unmistakable stench of necrotic death. Don’t you even recognize you old buddy? Matt looked back through the doorwindow and saw it was John Lawson lying dead. 310. but here was not the time. lay in beds along the hallway. As they walked down the hall. “Merciful God. Wilson was a master of looks. and arms. violin voice reported obediently. As a policeman Matt had seen death many times. All three police radios in close proximity toned together reinforcing the urgency of the call. Lawson. 312.” THE SPECIAL TONES rang out for a second time that day.
lack of exercise. Years of laziness. Matt loved to hear John’s detective stories. Alpha-males give orders. Matt wanted his friend’s job. get going. Not toad-like wimps who get up the ranks by kissing ass with political correctness.” . Matt’s father was an angry alcoholic and John was the father he wished he had. That little shit. responded with an involuntary enthusiasm that even surprised himself. Matt had been waiting for John to retire so he could apply for the detective position when it became vacated. Matt looked over and down at Wilson. “Preston”. “And Preston…” added Chief Wilson.” Unable to face him directly. Matt was an outlet for John’s stories. and Matt had a deep respect for John. “Well. Chief Wilson. Wilson wears oversize clothes that make him look even smaller and an undersized hat that makes his ears look bigger. Homicide Detective for the City. “Yes sir! I’m on it. Only one man stood in his way. Wilson is short. THE Chief in charge of giving orders and having people follow them for pay. Only seven days earlier Matt had seen him healthy. His chest hurt from the bullet he took in the vest an hour earlier.” said the Chief with a worried smile. Matt lived vicariously as a homicide detective through the vivid details in the stories told by Lieutenant Lawson. He had surpassed all scholastic requirements for the position. bald.” Wilson said.“Thank you. Why couldn’t Matt’s boss be 6’8”. “I want you to act as the Officer-in-Charge at the scene. Any competition always remained friendly. Matt had a philosophy to “pick your battles”. “Be careful what you wish for. Wilson would be the first to be voted off the island. His boss embodies all of the unattractive. John was an instructor of detective methods and forensics. Chief Wilson barked. non-masculine traits all wrapped into one person. Instead of doing the best he can with what he was born with. Wilson is THE Chief. John Lawson had been Matt’s mentor.” Matt Preston couldn’t stand to look back at his old friend. his stomach churned. Buzzard meat. In the world of reality TV. 350 pounds of well trained fighting muscle? Do this or I will kick your fucking ass Mister! That is the natural chain of command to Matt. wiser and although past his prime physically. THE Chief in charge of the Department. the first day. undisciplined eating has changed his body into the shape of the letter D. He could sense he was tightening up both physically and mentally. Matt barely listening. He is overweight and out of shape. Matt’s attention deficit disorder was is full bloom and his thoughts ranted. “Did you hear the tones? You and Jerry better get on location and secure the crime scene. He was older. The realization at the loss of his close friend began to sink in. Wilson gives meaning to the clique “worthless and weak”. Did you take your meds? Are you even listening?” Preston.” He said with revived energy. This was hard for Matt Preston to handle. This was the “battle” he picked. was still a man’s man. If anyone has questions with that directive. They were also drinking buddies. with big ears and a big potato nose. Has this guy ever been laid? Instead of cleaning toilets for the Police Department where he belongs. grasping the meaning of the words. His ribs began to ache. “I’ll dispatch from here. Oh… and Preston. And with John’s one-on-one training Matt had gained detective experience even before being promoted. tell ’em to give me a call. They shot guns and hunted together.
newly promoted Homicide Detective. He left without saying goodbye or telling her the news of his job change. Arriving at the scene and back to reality. Matt whispered to him. Like lifting weights. Clear command is crucial to any effort involving multiple forces. They both .” “Good thinking”. Chapter 5 – Murder Scene 1 ON THE DRIVE to the crime scene Matt Preston. reflected how rude he had been to Shannon. From an African tribe hunting food to a military assignment against a tactical enemy. He was aware that defining the Commanding Officer was paramount at a crime scene. The farms and rural land in that part of Peoria were rapidly giving way to the development of new subdivisions. constantly working muscles for when you need them.D. After all. Deep thought. The city’s reservoir and source of drinking water was also adjacent to the newly expanded building of the YMCA. They had been on-site several hours and had preserved the crime scene by taping off the perimeter around the victim. She would understand he reassured himself. Matt prepared himself for questions that might come up concerning the chain of command at the crime scene. Matt’s A. Surely he should have remained in-tune to that situation. Earlier that morning while at a confrontation with a crazed youth holding a gun he lost focus. And now. Matt’s mind wandered. Attention Deficit Disorder. Jerry was used to it. They had been informed on the radio of Lieutenant Lawson’s death and of the passing of the assignment to Matt. Lala-land Jerry called it.D. “Do you think we should get some lights up here? Its gonna be a long night I’m afraid. Jerry understood and smiled. The wandering was exercise to keep his mind sharp. Larry Powell and David Woomer were the first on the scene. Jerry asked Matt. He thought would call her when he had a chance. he was the leader. As he drove. It had been a long day and the sun began to set. he had just been shot and then saw the horrible death of a good friend. Matt called it. The crime scene was a secluded wooded area adjacent to the athletic fields owned by the Peoria YMCA. Matt was on medication for his ADD. leadership is fundamental. But would he be able to concentrate on his new duties? Listening to stories from John Lawson is a lot different than actually “being in the ring”. They were young patrolmen and new to the force. He had seen it surface hundreds of times before. He hoped Shannon understood his distractions. But instead his mind wandered away to the philosophy of guns and their effect on the natural laws of leadership. Matt would just put his hand-eye motor functions into auto-pilot and would mentally zone out. Matt’s defense mechanisms quickly took over to remind him that his attention-deficit was just his way to alleviate boredom.
please advise Station One we are in need of lights at our location. Matt cleared his throat. “Some kids digging for worms found the body. Dead silence. The girl had been sliced at the face and genitals. She was naked and had been chewed on by large dogs after her death. It looked to him like an exercise outfit. As he reached for the sheet Matt thought about the events of the day.” “Congratulations Matt”. Where had he seen them before? . They said they saw a pack of wild dogs around the body. He made a mental note he would need to refine his speech patterns for orders and other type of commands that don’t involve shouting. Get your shit together. All eyes were on the reactions of Matt and Jerry. “Be careful what you wish for”. Matt was not prepared for what he saw. but it ruined the moment of his first order. Leopard patterns. Except for the bright spot of seeing Shannon for five minutes. As Matt pulled the sheet clear exposing the corpse the young patrolman turned away not wanting to view the remains again. But it also stirred up self-doubt of his leadership capabilities. He and Jerry walked across the soccer fields toward the wooded area highlighted by yellow perimeter tape. Matt had a quick flashback to the gun-barrel pointed his way and the finger tightening on the trigger.” Matt noticed the voice didn’t fit over the radio. Matt was caught off guard to hear the title yelled in his direction. He picked at them with a stick and spread them out. Matt made a mental-note to alert the city’s Animal Control Department to sweep for the dogs. “It’s not pretty”. Matt stood and noticed a camouflaged clump of women’s clothing close to the body. “Naomi. “Incident Command here. They put on latex gloves and bent down to the covered body. Matt knew she was being nice. said a young patrolman. “Get prepared Lieutenant”. thin slashes only on her face and vaginal area. Over. came back over the radio in a robotic yet motherly voice. Bending closer Matt saw hundreds of tiny. and spoke slowly and authoritatively in his practiced voice. Two locations appeared to have received repeated slashing by a scalpel or razor blade. A pack of wild dogs that tasted human flesh could be a future threat to small children in the area. He was having trouble concentrating. the new arrivals to the carnage. Along with the dog-bites the corpse displayed a different kind of attack to the skin. The corpse was a young woman approximately 17 to 21 years old. “OVER HERE! Lieutenant Preston”. “Fucking fast!” he whispered to himself.knew it would take a while for Matt to work into the pattern of scene command. things had not gone well earlier. “Jane Doe at this point… unidentified”. He knew there would be more commands. With the sheet removed flies scurried onto the wounds. The patrolman was correct. What could be worse than the sight of poor John. someone said from behind to break the uncomfortable silence. Matt had smelled enough decaying flesh for the day. Closer inspection showed them to be acrylic tights. He reflected. Concentrate.” the Patrolman added. Matt thought he recognized the colors and pattern of it. he thought. Then he heard Wilson’s voice echo in his ears. it had been in the shitter ever since breakfast. No wonder the kid with the gun acted in that way to help his parents. He knew he better get his act together and focus his attention fast. He flicked the sheet to chase the flies and reposition the sheet to cover the body.
Matt spoke trying for a pensive but convincing tone. Even at the distance Matt could see from the stance and stride of the mystery man’s silhouette that you did not want to mess with that guy. Then the figure leaped from the van and hurriedly strode off with long and athletic strides that indicated anger. wanna stop at Earl’s Icehouse?” “What a day. Where to begin? Matt thought he should say something positive to the men standing around. Matt said in a confident voice causing the men to chuckle. The calm was broken by a gust of wind that caused the men to simultaneously turn and face the direction of the wind. Only a pinkish-orange light remained. Now in charge. is right. the balance between being in control and serving others. The man was huge. the balance of spending time with others and by himself. I gotta get home to Bev and the girls.” As a Patrolman in the past. He stood on a van with legs wide. Thoughts of doubt crept into his consciousness as to whether he would ever be ready to solve murders. He was now responsible to solve the case and put the crime right. “We’ll check the photo IDs on record at the YMCA for the Thursday night Jazzercise class. Matt could get in his car at the end of the day and know someone else would deal with the bits and pieces of the clues in a crime. Now he was in charge and thought it better to keep his comments to himself. The colors from the sky mirrored onto the calm reservoir. As he looked at the young corpse he thought of his own daughter. He had seen the victim in the same Jazzercise class that Shannon attended. As he rolled the body over he had to admit. He remembered seeing the girl exercising at the YMCA in the Leopard clothes. Did he have what it takes? Was his dream to be a Detective too ambitious? Matt refocused from his distraction as he turned toward the sinking sky.even for a dead girl. He paid particular attention to the shape of a women’s rear-end.Matt was used to securing a murder scene and waiting for John to arrive. “What a day. Matt glanced back to the man. He had found the balance between job and family. Matt”. holding binoculars to his face. He never imagined his fixation on butts would be useful in the line of duty. He loved the view and admired the variety of cheeks as they went through the routines. Matt would often lift weights and view the class through the large dance studio windows while he waited for Shannon to finish. But could he do it? Fatigue from the events of the day began to take its toll on his energy. He had . Full attention was on the dark figure silhouetted in front of the bright colors of the sunset. “Who gives a flying fuck? Let’s finish here and go get a beer”. With his attention to detail he could differentiate the physiques of girls just by the area where the gluteus muscles meet the back of the upper leg. It was the effect Matt hoped it would have something light before breaking up for the night. Matt suddenly placed the girl from the shape of her ass.at least to himself. Jerry was a dedicated family man. “Who is that. At a distance of 100 yards a black silhouette of a man could be seen pasted against the mating-line of the sky and the reflection off the lake. he felt new unexpected feelings. the victim had a fantastic rear-end.” Matt knew the answer before it came. Jerry. He felt an obligation to the parents of the girl. But nah. MATT NEEDED a beer. Jerry asked. He just wanted to go home. I think we’ll find her there. The tone of the question caused the others to stir and look around at each other. It was close to dark and the sun was falling into the water. He was wearing a full length rain-duster that blew in the wind like a cape flailing behind a mysterious ghost rider. The man noticed the audience and shook his head side-to-side in the universal sign of disapproval. Matt enjoyed looking at women’s bodies.
But then again. he did have good news about his promotion to share. no less. Matt glanced at the clock disappointed there wasn’t more time to enjoy the beer before he crashed. The words of caution by Chief Wilson. In his past biker days. Now he disciplined himself to only six beers in one night. There goes the sleep this weekend he thought. he was honest with himself. he needed a beer bad. Blink number two was Shannon inviting him to dinner at her house to celebrate her mother’s birthday tomorrow night at 8:00PM. He always felt like a bug under a magnifying glass when in the company of Shannon’s mother. The suicide by a grieving boy. It was during beers 8. Matt enjoyed spending time with his children. Matt read that problems with alcohol were an inherited trait. Was he ready to remarry? How could he be a Detective when he can’t even figure out women? He knew the question was unfair. And speaking of smells. No. he could easily drink 40 beers by himself in an evening and rode off on his Harley. No more. with heavy winds. he said to himself as he drove into the drive-through carryout. Blink number one was Chief Wilson advising him of a meeting tomorrow 8:00 AM with a Federal Agent who had information on the plague. Although he could not smell himself he figured he was pretty ripe. Matt remembered he smelled bad at noon today. maybe even 15. two packs. From memories of his father and lectures by his brothers he knew he was messing with fire. But with it being his first full day in his new job-title he needed to be on time. Matt wondered if his own marriage had failed because of himself or his ex-wife. A full day tomorrow Matt thought. . What kind of sick mind mutilates a girl that way? What was this city coming to? Then he wondered about the plague. he would not practice a laugh. “Tonight I’m drinking to celebrate my promotion and drown my sorrows. Wise-men. He hates when people pretend to laugh at the appropriate time – whether something is funny or not. he still had the smell of Memorial Hospital’s third floor on his mind. and his first murder case. Matt hated playing politics and he was bad at it. Matt dropped Jerry off and quickly drifted into auto-pilot mode. Matt’s grandfather was from Ireland. After getting home and immediately sucking down three “Rocks” he was ready to face the blinking three-message answering machine. His father and grandfather had both been alcoholics. gurus. Blinking light number three was a voice Matt did not want to hear tonight. especially with the Fed in town. He told himself. Plus 10 points in her eyes. Matt wondered if it was his memory or the possibly contagious molecules still in his nose. On hard days his ritual was the delayed-gratification of allowing himself a six-pack after work. Either way he needed a beer. The diseased death of his close friend. What was this world coming to? He wanted a beer bad.” He thought back to the events of the day. but with his size and body weight. Practicing his militarycommand voice was bad enough. It was his ex-wife Marsha reminding him in her demanding way that he had the kids this weekend. He had divorced four years earlier and was now a single parent with joint custody – weekends and Wednesday night visitations – dolled out like a script. and sages throughout time have struggled with that issue. At beer number five he thought about fake laughter. The shooting death of the doctor. Every time his family got together his brothers would remind each other of the “trait” like it was an AA meeting. Surely this is worth at least one morning of sleeping in. “Fuck it”. no matter what. He could only imagine what he smelled like now eight hours later.” Give me a case of Rolling Rock. His chest hurt. 9. He better skip the Icehouse and head for home. Messing with fire on a dry day. and a pack of Camels. Better yet.it together on all fronts and Matt envied him for his contented life. and no water around. 10 11.
He thought back to last night’s pleasant sunset. both badly in need of ironing. When events are not going well. Matt’s philosophy in life is que cera. As Matt peered out his dirty window he was greeted by a gray sky and pouring rain. This had been given to him by Shannon to remind him that spiritual growth is a daily progress in life and not to be too impatient with himself. he reverts to the simplicity of his animal-level revelation and all is pacified. . Everyone dies. therefore. Today’s rain will bring good events. he would need to wear street clothes. Instead of the normal meaning Plato had in mind. But instead he stayed too long enjoying the heat and it put him behind schedule. cera. He hoped it was only the beers and cigarettes that made his throat sore. And if they didn’t it wouldn’t matter. what will be. He thinks mankind makes things too complicated. the message hung to remind Matt that he won’t exist if he doesn’t concentrate. Through all the drinking problems of his father. Who was that man in the coat? Yesterday had been a day of beautiful weather and horrific events. But this morning it wasn’t working. the first day of his promotion. His eyes were bloodshot and red. Maybe some kind of balance exists? A sense of justice. He staggered into the bathroom to be greeted by a familiar sign above the bathroom sink: I think. That upbringing was Matt’s roadmap to follow in life. Matt checked the mirror. Next task at hand was what to wear? Matt usually had his police uniform to wear. At least he was sure of the source of the bruise on his chest. He also had a headache. and a raw throat from the beers and cigarettes from his solo celebration last night. he thought. But today. Bad events are random. Matt still felt terrible. Things were bothering him more than normal and he had only been on his new job-assignment for half a day. Matt rolled into bed numb from the beers and the events of the day. He thought of John Lawson. Matt hoped a hot. Marsha foreclosed his dreams of a close family and never looked back. But what did John and all of the other people with the disease have in common to cause them to die so horribly? The mental tricks weren’t working. I am. Just propagate the species. He calculated he would be late for work. ‘Til death did they part. He concludes the meaning of life is that we are just animals whose only mission is to propagate the species. He had a flashback to John Lawson’s decayed body. Chapter 6 – First Lieutenant – Friday morning MORNING CAME ALL too early to Matt’s world. his parents had stayed together. He told himself they would press-out on the drive to work from body heat. Then he contradicted himself and rolled up his shortsleeves to expand the amount of visibility of his large arms. No decisions there. As he headed out into the downpour he cursed the start of his day. Matt was trying to trick himself into feeling good. His chest was swollen into one massive bruise from the gunshot of the previous day. Another sign above the mirror reads: Work in Progress.and 12 that he sunk into a self-pity of how Marsha selfishly ended their marriage. He wasn’t out to impress anyone. he thought. He grabbed a pair of worn Dockers and a polo shirt. will be. Visions returned of the bloody eyes and the kid with a gun. As he hurried for the front door he glanced at the disarray of beer bottles and smelly ashtray in the living room. he thought the disease. Anyone looking for a balance in life’s events are going to end up disappointed. Snap out of it. Oh shit. fast shower would help.
Wilson continued in his whiney voice. Matt had feelings of male pride that she was his girlfriend. The curtains and ceilings were stained yellow from the decades of smoking. the character in Star Wars. I almost forgot. He smiled and made small talk to the policemen while he feasted upon the donuts intended for all attendees of the meeting.” Matt calculated the possibility for a quick nap and strategically slid to the back of the room. The large crowd and tension this morning would no doubt contribute to the smell in the room. “Matt Preston will be acting Homicide Detective until further notice. Matt noticed the body odor wasn’t the same smell as in a locker room. The grotesquely fat Mayor Colletti sat in the front row spilling over his chair like Jaba the Hut. The events of the day turned out OK. “Didn’t recognize you without the uniform”. he was floored. He wondered. Matt spied Shannon in the front row looking both professional and sexy in her Maroon thigh-high suit from the mall. What did he mean acting Lieutenant? He hasn’t been acting like a .” “Oh yes. media. He could be looked at as a hero. At least Shannon thought so. He is going to give us a history on Bio-warfare and tell you what our government knows about this outbreak. even a potato sack. “We have with us today a visiting Federal Official from DARPA. Short. The room smelled like sour body odor and old cigarette smoke. He was proud to be out of the Patrol car and out of its uniform. Matt’s biggest fear is speaking in front of people. A locker room odor is from fresh perspiration after exercise. His words flowed skillfully as he fed his mouth with both hands. Matt took it in stride. and the mayor of the city Joe Colletti were all present to hear the latest on the outbreak of the disease. Chief Wilson walked to the podium and called the gathering to order. He always told her she would look good in anything. attempting to hold back any outward show of emotion. pock-faced complexion. potato nose. was also heard more than once. Stiff upper lip and all. how could that little shit get up there and be so calm and collected.THE POLICE DEPARTMENT meeting room was filled to capacity. nasal voice began. City employees. Dressed in her outfit this morning with tasteful makeup. Her job in the City Health Department entitled her to have information first-hand as presented directly to the police. Matt loathed the undisciplined lifestyle of this man and had to fight back his “bad attitude” every time he thought about the Mayor in charge of the City Police. Matt entered and became the immediate focus of the room. Matt thought. Then he realized he didn’t need to respond.” the Chief continued. Colletti was the head of the City Council and Chief Wilson’s boss. what were you reaching for behind your back yesterday when that kid shot you?” Matt took a bite of donut and chewed before giving a response. Matt had been with her when she bought it and he helped her pick it out. No innocents hurt.” Jerry turned to catch Matt’s reaction. He took a bullet and lived. “Hey Matt. sounding annoyed as he spoke. Before Matt could join Shannon. This smell was acrid from nervous sweat and coffee. DARPA stands for the Defense and Advanced Research Projects Agency. “We use irons now in the 21st century”. The pleasant thought was broken by someone yelling across the room. Shannon's opinion was the only one that really counted anyway . What is the source of his confidence? The Chief’s high-pitched. That little fuck. She was the only one of five women in the room full of 50 men. But inside. was the common antagonism of the morning. “So everyone is aware. police officers. she was stunning.even more than his own. He imagined his ring on her finger someday soon. there will be a memorial service this Sunday for Lieutenant Lawson at Fawnview Cemetery at 1:30. bald.
All clapping ceased and a hush fell over the room. He could be the master of ceremony of an award show. He could always reassure himself by using his self-security of knowing he was the physically dominant male in the room. His huge frame was covered in an impeccable hand tailored Italian suit. dejected. His head was clean-shaven which further accentuated his handsome black features. The man walked up to the podium. except the scar. He stood in the spot-light towering above the podium. through his eyebrow and halfway down across his cheek. This guy. They knew it. Matt thought. the shiny material of the suit accentuated his solid muscularity. The Agent had a huge scar on his face. Matt “sizes-up” people he comes into contact with. Matt sized him up physically and performed a calculation of the man’s physical-threat-potential. The abrupt silence spoke that everyone in the audience had the same impression. And from the looks of him. Yeah. Most people do this subconsciously.” This intrigued the audience.” Mild applause of courtesy began but ended quickly as the Agent stepped from a side door. That was about to change. and feeling bad Matt knew he could always get a boost in self-esteem by looking around the room and taking inventory. His black genetics had endeared him with functional. “I now give you Leon Davis. he began in a deep. Special Agent from the federal agency DARPA. The Agent was several inches taller and approximately 80 pounds heavier than Matt. He comes to us from their Washington Field Office. “I apologize. ask for their help? Matt glanced at Shannon and saw she was on the edge of her seat with attentiveness. athletic muscle. At the podium. the shadows from the overhead light caused the scar to be even more visible on an otherwise clear complexion. The permanent remains of a traumatic gash. The scar charted a course from the middle of his forehead. Agent Davis stood six foot–seven. Childish defense mechanism? Definitely. Certainly handsome enough for the part. Under normal light the scar would be obvious even at a distance. I wonder what she thinks of this guy? Matt fought back his feelings of animal competition. Matt felt wounded and stewed. was a major PTP to anyone. This guy was just too calm. How did he get it? Matt thought to himself that he would have a brown stain running down his leg if he had to give a presentation to this group. When put down. “Thank you”. He appeared more suited for the NBA than government work. eye-contact toward the audience. . “The Defense and Advanced Research Projects Agency is in need of your help.this guy did not need to be made to feel comfortable.Chief of Police for years and now he pulls this stunt. I’ll proceed by memory. Matt turns it into a science and calculates a person’s physical-threatpotential or PTP and quantifies it with a scale. Just as well. He already carried comfort and confidence with him. especially from memory. Like most male primates. he could kick anyone’s ass.Davis’s Bioweapons – Friday morning AS THE CHIEF stepped away from the podium he finished with. Why did a guy from the Government. Acting Lieutenant? I either have the job or not. He was smiling like the host of a talk show. with or without a gun. As he cleared his throat to begin speaking he had the complete attention of room. There was one feature that stood out on the speaker. He conceded to himself that . it measured ¼ inch wide from start to finish. but it made him feel better. even Matt. He wasn’t going to being influenced by anything they did.” Matt thought. so outwardly secure. applause or silence didn’t matter. I left my speaking notes in Washington. He knew it. calm voice looking up from his folder. Chapter 7 .
” “Please bear with me”. Financial problems within the Soviet Union during the 1980’s and 90’s resulted in the scientists becoming free agents to the highest bidder. one hundred nations signed the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention Treaty. Matt found himself wishing he had ironed his clothes this morning or at least wore a tie. “In World War I. Matt thought. Before we get to the part where your Department can help us. Protests throughout the Vietnam era forced President Nixon to terminate the use of offensive biological weapons. This guy should be in the movies. Before you start thinking too harshly about our enemy using germ warfare. not research. The Third World-war.” He said it like he had created both these himself.” A restless stir filled the room.” “In 1936 the Japanese used Chinese prisoners to test the lethal effects of cholera. This was quite effective and was the first recorded use of biological weapons. It was also determined that there were 10. It wasn’t until 50 years later that the US Senate finally passed a vote to ratify it as binding to the US. That wouldn’t hold me back. Davis threw his shoulders back in a movement displaying pride and stated “DARPA was responsible for creating the Internet and stealth technology.” Davis cocked his head and looked at the ceiling briefly. Pa. The fruition of their testing was the use of paper bags filled with infected fleas to be used against the enemy. the Russians continued research and endured an anthrax outbreak from a lab that killed 70 people. Matt gave the guy a break. he thought. British General Jeffery Amherst ordered blankets infected by smallpox sent to the Delaware Indians in a peace offering. Then he continued with renewed recall. The year 1925 brought forth the Geneva Protocol that prohibits use of chemical and biological agents. Wilson dresses like a toad. It prohibits use only.000 Soviet germ-warfare specialists in Russia at the time. Maybe that is why his is only acting Lieutenant. “In Europe during the 1300’s rotting corpses were thrown over fort walls for the purpose of spreading infectious pathogens. be aware that in 1763 at Fort Pitt. speak with such articulation.” The intense attention on his every word made this comment seem inappropriate and patronizing to the crowd. Don’t embellish. so large. the Germans infected enemy livestock with glanders and anthrax bacteria. Just the facts ma’am. an old woman. “In 1969 our own United States experimented with deadly biological agents with a fleet of ships in the Pacific. I would like to give some information on germ warfare. He had never seen a man.000 people. and typhoid plague. Wait a minute. Matt thought.” What a waste of life. after all he was doing it by memory.any female in the world would be attracted to this guy’s genetics when considering offspring. “We are in a war against terrorism. “In 1988 Saddam Hussein put down an uprising when Chemical Ali gassed 5000 Kurds in Halbjah. This was Iraq’s source for genocide of the Kurds. Matt acknowledged truthfully to himself these were pretty major contributions for America. anthrax. I will begin with a review of the major milestones of germ warfare. A Sovietowned antibiotic-resistant strain of anthrax loaded in long range missiles. in his spare time. It was during this period that Russia developed the superbugs. as a hobby. Even Naomi.” Without a moments hesitation Agent Davis jumped into a fact filled presentation of riveting information.” “In 1972. “In 1989 a defection by a Soviet scientist confirmed the existence of a genetically altered super-plague. But with no tangible way to enforce it. This experimentation killed a reported 10. Davis apologized. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and stay with reality. He had never heard of DARPA. does a better job of keeping emotion away than me.” . “This is almost over. he snapped to. Biological weapons are the greatest threat in their arsenal to be used against us.
For all her attractiveness.” Matt’s mind began to wander to his homicide case. “The first symptom of infection is excessive lymphatic fluid in the eyes.” Even from behind Matt could see her flush at being singled out. The man was massive. “Ladies and gentlemen. Then the tears turns to bloodflow and the eyes begin to decay.” He spoke with emphasis on the word mean.S.” Davis attempted a smile for dramatic affect at his attempt at humor. “DARPA has requested manpower support from local authorities in areas where the outbreaks have occurred. Matt’s attention drifted back to the man speaking but not what he was saying. Agent Davis’s physicalthreat-potential was off the scale. One lone scar. It didn’t work with the crowd and Matt was pleased. “Excuse the profanity. Use body-fluid isolation techniques. “One week after the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center. The momentum was really building. This resulted in 750 cases of food poisoning. is not readily spread except from the exchange of bodily fluids.” “The good news is that the disease. this is one mean son-of-a-bitch. even with a knife. past-tense. However. In everyday words this. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention never did find the common link and wrote it off as natural causes. We do know the following at this time. Anyone involved in a physical confrontation with him would have a death wish. The Ebola gives the strain its strength for longevity and transmission. In Oregon in 1985. it was the fear factor – the anxiety of the unknown that affected millions.” Applause and enthusiasm around the room followed that story. The young. He found himself thinking back to the grisly condition of the victim’s wounds. Jihad Joe and Jihad Jane are already here. existing in an infected person. They are organized. diarrhea sets in at this point as the body tries to flush the pathogens. shapely girl had been cut and flesh torn from her by large animals. Since they have been here so long they are fully .” “The infectious agent is a genetically altered germ combined from Camelpox and Ebola. These sleeping cells are multi-factional. This ingress began long before 911 or our military actions in Iraq. The method of transmission is identical to AIDs. We are enlisting City Detectives for co-ordinated assignments to ascertain the source of the plaque. If this guy were an evangelist or politician he could rake in millions in contributions. anthraxcontaminated letters were mailed to news organizations and the U. I understand you have all had training on preventive measures for AIDs. Rajneesh. Shannon was not comfortable with attention being drawn to her. Matt noticed the guy had no other scars on his face or neck. By November 17 people were infected and 5 died.” “There has been. a secret immigration of a terrorists into the United States. “As with most diseases. The Camelpox is the origin of the deadly symptoms. The source of the anthrax mailings was finally uncovered seven years later by diligent Federal work. It took one year of independent police-work. There is no cure or vaccine at this time. Very few people were physically affected by the disease. to discover the true source of the outbreak. and consist of fully trained personnel who are not afraid to die for their cause. Not a car wreck. Complete blindness results within 3 days followed by increased skin lesions and death within seven days to two weeks. Matt found himself with a sudden urge to lift weights. The lady yesterday that ingested the boy’s brain-matter has become infected.“This next event happened a little closer to home and is an example of why we are here this morning. an Indian Guru and his followers sprinkled salmonella on salad bars in a trial attack. like yours. Matt wondered subconsciously if he could take him in a fight. this is known as tearing. Treat any exposure to this plaque the same way. How did he get it? A knife? Had he ever been in a fight? Probably not. Davis apologized as he looked out at Shannon. Senate.
Make no mistake.. “If there is nothing more from Mayor Colletti.. That guy really knows how to work a crowd. Our government is searching for the method of how the C. What is with this guy and the head shake? It better not be directed at me. the Camelpox-Ebola strain. The difference is the N1H1 was a natural global pandemic. DARPA will be successful . Our national security is at stake. this meeting is adjourned. He was the silhouette from the previous night. will prevail. and he didn’t even have to fake a laugh to do it.. Davis’s size and his vicious scar intimidated Matt and he changed his train of thought. Matt recognized the coat as the one blowing in the breeze at the murder scene. Their language and customs are no longer detectable. Then he realized who he was thinking about. Thank you for your support. There are approximately 2200 confirmed cases at this time. We must find the source and contain the outbreak before the fear-factor sets in and cripples our economy..S.S.Turn the other cheek. ass-hole. Make no doubt. As Davis moved from the podium Matt saw him pick up his coat .. Then.” Matt joked to himself. butt chewing Friday MATT WAS AS EXCITED as any in the room after the pep-talk. As Davis looked out he caught the sight of Matt and shook his head negatively. Mr. Many lives are at stake. The administration has been describing this outbreak as something similar to the N1H1 virus.E. and we the citizens of the United States . We know from Shopper-card records that it is not coming from grocery stores. Chief Wilson. Mayor. Preston I would like to see you in my office in five minutes.” “We don’t know any more than what I have just presented.a full-length rain duster. is spread with the highest of urgency. That’s ActingLieutenant Preston to you. as if coached in politically correctness he concluded with recognition to his boss. This disease is targeted at America. Matt thought.” CHAPTER 8 . . With his defense mechanisms at full throttle he habitually thought.integrated into our way of life. We will be in touch if you are going to be assigned to help us. or I’ll kick his ass. Chief Wilson took to the podium again and mentioned that there would be meetings every two days for updates. terrorists are responsible for the outbreaks of C. The President is now preparing a statement for the country. Thank you for your time this morning.E.
“We set you up with a phone and table in the hall. Davis ended his phone conversation . he could see from the disarray sticking out of the boxes. See if you can learn anything from Davis on forensics. I hope you have something to report at the meeting day after tomorrow. Davis waved Matt in as if he needed his permission to enter. Wilson gave him a “get an iron” look.” Matt asked the obvious question. The Medical Examiner has his report ready on your victim. It was a strong. Yes. The sight and smell reminded Matt of fond memories with John.” Wilson shrugged and added as if to make amends.. Wilson pointed his stubby finder out his office window.” “Very perceptive Detective. Matt was livid. Matt sat and fumed as he noticed Davis continued his phone conversation with no attempt to end it. Matt walked the short distance to the Chief’s office and entered without knocking. since you are out of the patrol-car. I’ve decided to have Jerry ride along with you while you get used to your new assignment. “It’s close to the water cooler. you can start with that. No attitude. you listen. Minus 15 points for the ass-hole with his feet on my friend’s desk. Go see what you can learn from the M. “What about John’s old office?” “That’s where we put Agent Davis.” Matt leaned forward with anxious anticipation of receiving Lieutenant Lawson’s prestigious office. we set you up with a desk. Matt had spent long hours with John in this office. No.On the way out of the auditorium he and Jerry exchanged a quick word about how good Davis’s presentation was and what a prick Wilson was. But before he could finish the thought it was interrupted by what he saw down the hall outside his old friend’s office. there had not been much effort put into the organization of the items. Just before Matt was ready to storm out.” Matt left the Chief’s office and looked over at the lonely card table against the wall. Matt wanted to talk to Shannon but also needed to lose some of the coffee. Which reminds me. trying to contain his anger. Matt did not have a sharp response or any response at all. that’s the entrance to the bathroom. He comes highly recommended to us. And we’ll get you some office supplies. He took a seat and attempted to flatten the creases on his pants with his hands. As he stepped down the hallway. There is a phone outlet there and answering machine with a separate line for a fax machine. By the way. After an appropriate pause to signify Matt had not made impressive headway on the case Wilson continued. Matt headed to the bathroom and noticed a card table set up at the entrance. A good central place for a coffee machine and donuts he thought... he thought. Boxes of John’s personal belongings were lined up along the wall outside the door. that’s the only area we have available now. Matt looked at Davis as an insensitive Fed in a suit with no regard for who had been there before. That mother. At the doorway he found Davis on the phone with his size 16 wingtips deeply across Lawson’s desk.” “If you have nothing on the reservoir case I guess we are finished. “Preston. He hoped Davis would be long gone before the office begins to smell like the occupant. he would like to have a word with you when we are finished. The silence was deafening. Also. He spared the niceties and began with “What’s the latest on the homicide?” Since he had only been on the case for 14 hours with 4 of them sleep.E. Then he changed his mind as the door opened and he caught an organic whiff from the bathroom. acrid smell that Matt seemed to notice from black men. the Mayor is personally interested in this case. If he talks .. the smell in this area would definitely not mix well as a place for food. Got that? Leave that chip on your should in the squad car.” “You mean the card table in the hall? The one by the entrance to the commodes? Chief. As he waited he could smell Davis’ body odor.
in search of information. You and your fellow officers contaminated the whole area for any further forensics. “Yeah. That fucker. We need some grunt-work. What kind of locals?” Matt wondered why he was selected to be this guy’s butt-boy. Washington feels the best way to accomplish our antiterrorist goal is to enlist the help of the local authorities. Matt thought: Minus 20 points. Minus 20 points. You know who I am from my presentation.” Something was said on the other end of the phone that made Davis produce an ornery and arrogant laugh before hanging up. I’m just trying to help. “I watched your crime scene activity last evening. I get it. This guy is history. however under the circumstances he took a long..” “And don’t get me wrong. That’s pretty hard when you and your renta-cops are so quick to put it in a body bag. need you to do is organize a team of your Detectives.. “Yeah..” Plus 5 points.with “Yes sir. “What about a photographer? It is fundamental to a crime scene that photos are taken before the victim is moved.. You look like you can handle my bluntness. At the same time Matt began to stand Davis thrust his hand into Matt’s and shook hard. minus another 10 points. we need to interview the closest living person in order to determine the connection of the spread. “Let me start by saying I am highly impressed with your Chief Wilson. “The first group to talk to are patients at the hospital afflicted with CES. but you don’t determine it.” Minus 10 points. Do you know how to secure a crime scene? In your training did you ever learn about lividity?” Matt remembered the term and tried to show his knowledge. It causes a permanent bruise that you can use to determine if a body has been moved after death. And to properly do it he needs to know the position of the body. That is if they can talk. Davis released the grip with a push causing Matt to fall back into his chair. You know.” “Ok. Officer Preston or Detective or whatever.” Davis said with a white-toothed smile as if Matt should be impressed. Davis swung his legs around athletically and put his feet on the ground.” Davis continued his assault. interview. “We are here to solicit the help of your department. At least you had the foresight to call for lights from the Fire Department. Look. The handshake at the same time of trying to stand put Matt in an awkward position during the hand-shake. “Nice to meet you. I’m not here to give you cop lessons. I’ll do my best given the circumstances of the surroundings. Matt would normally not stare at a defect on someone. I heard you did a good job at the hospital yesterday. purposeful look at his scar. From what I saw the other day all you did was perform a body removal detail – absolutely zero forensics. forget it. the pooling of blood in a corpse after death. He was caught off guard and off balance from the exchange.” Davis wrinkled his eyebrows and stated condescendingly. We have a sheet of questions to ask and things to check.just remember don’t ever touch a corpse until it has been photographed. He stood and quickly went over to Matt.. Without a sign of selfconsciousness Davis returned strong eye contact and began. Matt wondered what he was going to be asked to do and figured it was coming.” He sensed Davis was softening for a reason.. “Other than the pretty redhead in the front row today.. You were in charge and you didn’t even keep notes at the scene.” “Oh. the Medical Examiner does.” This had Matt’s full attention. There are two different types of local residences we need you to talk to. If they can’t. Wilson and I. I have not seen anything positive here in Peoria. What is he doing looking at my girl? Game over.” . as it was found. May I comment freely? Your investigative techniques are extremely poor. of course. Matt continued keeping score of Davis’s behavior. “What we. Davis could tell the location of Matt’s stare.
He had a deck of cards and joked. Lookout.“The second group we need you to look into is a list of foreign people in the area. Davis called after him in a tone of voice with request in it.” CHAPTER 9 . To make sure there are no organized terrorist cells around here. “Preston. All I ask is that you take off your pointed hoods when you interview people. I equate that with the ‘good old boy’ mentality around here. great table. I’m dying to hear what Davis had to say?” Jerry stood up and Matt’s grip softened. I asked Wilson the same question. “Something you are going to need. “Hey. can you get the rest of these boxes out of here? Wilson said you would know where they go. “Secondly. “Hey ole buddy ole pal. at least you have a desk. At the entrance he saw a pile of toilet-paper on his card table as he passed. Agent Mattocks.” Davis emphasized the word detective with a sarcastic snicker as he said it. Someone in the area may be doing it and it could be linked to the terrorists. but why me?” “Not impressed by what I see. “Hey. We need to reaffirm their purpose for being in the area. the pussy slicing is something they do in some Middle Eastern cultures. Preston?” This caused Matt to hesitate and turn.” Matt was determined to not let Davis see any reaction. Besides it is your case Detective. you are ready for some serious fluid flow. He headed to the restroom to clear out more coffee on loan from the morning. do yourself a favor and burn those rags you are wearing. He pinched and Jerry squealed. shrugging his neck into the pinch. Even if it is an acting desk. “Yeah. water cooler. If you think I’m an ass wait ‘til you meet Terry. The Chief mentioned two reasons. He said you have good relationship with the others in the Department.AUTOPSY – Friday Afternoon MATT HELD STEADFAST to his emotions. We have reasons… geographical intel… that this area is linked to the distribution of the outbreak. from the FBI. Before Matt was fully rotated Davis flung a wire bound note pad at him. It’s your deal. The pad hit him in the hip pocket and fell to the ground at his feet. As Matt headed full steam for the door. Oh. He would not let it show that Davis made any kind of impact on him. It wasn’t until he was zipping-up that he caught on to the joke. “Hey partner. the body found at the reservoir has characteristics of a certain foreign element that has been linked to terrorist cells. “Oh. As he exited he found Jerry seated at the table with a smile from ear to ear. The act was meant to show pure disrespect. I’ll tell you about it on the way to the morgue. are you familiar with the term Jihad? How about clitoral mutilations? We want to give you some background information before you begin interviewing the foreign locals. Do you want to walk or ride?” They decided to ride even though it was a short walk from police headquarters to the Medical Examiner’s office in the city .” Matt did not want to make conversation but he felt compelled to ask.” Matt laughed hard as he grabbed Jerry around the shoulders and slid up to his neck. and bathroom. In language you can understand. And right near the coffee pot. has the list of people. Does that sound like something you can handle?” Matt faked a yawn. It was clear to Matt he was being provoked at this point. one more thing. We have a colleague flying in from Washington to help. Then Davis added gruffly with a malicious grin.” Matt was burning mad and had to leave before he lost control. I gotta favor to ask of you.
Ben was the senior stud in high-school. swung the door open. Matt left his on. it’s cold down here. The man was bald on top and had a piece of sandwich hanging from his neatly trimmed goat-tee. Excuse the lunch. Jerry was glad to be of service and happy to be included. He spoke between chews with an excited smile on his face. Hundreds of flies filled the room flying sluggishly due to the cold. Matt noticed. The smiles quickly disappeared as they shook off the wetness and headed down the stairs. Oh. An electric bug-light crackled continuously.” During the introduction Jerry just could not take his eye off of the chunk of chicken salad hanging from his beard.” He knocked once. how long has it been?” Matt wanted but couldn’t return the compliment. got to keep it this way.building. “Damn. Wilson did him a favor assigning Jerry to help and Matt was glad to have him to turn to. Ben. Matt and Jerry entered the back service entrance smiling at the bad timing of the downpour.… hey Ben….” Matt had no way of knowing how correct Jerry’s words of caution would turn out to be. The room was as cold as the stairwell. The long hand pointed to 38 with large letters proclaiming degrees Fahrenheit. To break the silence Matt said. A deluge hit with perfect timing that completely soaked the pair even though they ran for cover at a full sprint. This is the overflow from the hospital. That is if he could hold on to the football. Matt yelled. shivering between words. You here?” A man dressed in a bulging white lab coat appeared from the back room with a sandwich in his hand. Matt and Jerry arrived at the city building and pulled around to the parking lot at the rear. Starting quarterback and ladies man. It sounds like a tough gig. No other place . “Nice to meet you Jerry. It is a meat locker. the sky let loose with a full assault. Always eager to serve. Like a meat locker. Jerry took off his coat to escape the wetness. The temperature got cold and the two began to shiver – partially from the wetness and partially due to the task at hand. It was 1:30 in the afternoon. He’s supposed to show me the ropes in the interviewing process. “You look great. They couldn’t stop him. Good to see you. I used to hand him the ball and he would take it for a touchdown.” Matt shivered and changed the subject. What can be hard about asking a bunch of towel-heads what they are doing here in the States?” Jerry snickered. Just as they left the safety of the Matt’s truck. I would help you. the years had not been kind to Ben. even covered in a lab coat. but I have also been asked to go with some FBI Agent to interview people from the Islamic community. “Hey. “I also hope to enlist Shannon and her department to help with the questions. Below the yellow light lay the carnage of thousands of dead flies looking like a tray of raisons drying in the sun.” “Yeah. and walked in. Doctor Ben Nelson. Ben picked up on the direction of the stare and wiped. We go way back. “Ben. Benjamin Nelson. “Matt Press-a-ton …where’ve you been hiding?” Then he swallowed and added. sorry. “I don’t know partner. Their noses were assaulted by the strong smell of decay overcoated with wintergreen. “This must be the place. Yeah. I have to pick up some big dick named Mattocks coming in from Washington. Unless they are tied to the rack with electrodes on their tits. They arrived at the basement and saw a sign on the door that read: MEDICAL EXAMINER – Dr. Matt and I go way back to junior high and high school. Their chill became justified when they spotted a large round thermometer hanging on the wall. I could see where it could get messy. Jerry this is Ben Nelson. Football mostly. The solid gray sky had been content to produce only a steady drizzle. Matt explained to Jerry that Agent Davis and Wilson assigned him to be responsible to look for links in the people afflicted with the plague. Keeps the maggot activity in check. A little experience might come in handy.
to put ‘em. I would hate to think how this place would smell if we lost power. Actually we got a Cat diesel-generator in case we lose city power. It is important to keep the rate of decay controlled while we investigate. I heard at the DARPA meeting that you are in the detective business these days. Good for you. I knew you would turn out to bigger things than causing trouble with that biker gang you were running with.” “Well, I’m not exactly a doctor like you. Doctor Nelson. It has a nice ring to it. Didn’t you get voted most likely to succeed? Or was it most likely to get laid? You were the lady killer.” Ben laughed and looked down. “Years ago my friend, years ago.” Then he popped the last of his sandwich into his mouth. “Besides this is not the time and place to use the expression “lady killer”. Matt snorted at the joke and asked a serious question. “Ben, you’re a full doctor aren’t you. So why don’t you help people stay alive instead of doing autopsies on the dead?” Ben stopped chewing and looked serious at Matt then over to Jerry for his attention. “The reason that I doctor the dead is because I get a great rate on malpractice insurance.” Ben lifted his head to the ceiling and laughed out loud showing a mouthful of partially chewed chicken salad. Jerry looked at Matt and laughed at the chicken salad more than the punch-line of the joke. “Get it Matt? Malpractice insurance.” Not getting the response he had hoped for he became serious again and shrugged. “No seriously, I enjoy helping Dicks like you catch the perps. The corpse is the ultimate crime scene. Think about it. The body is the crime scene. Clues, findings, conclusions. Everyone needs to find something they like to do. I love this.” Although still cold physically, Matt and Jerry were warmed by his enthusiasm. “Take foxy lady over there…” Ben nodded sideways to a white body bag lying on a table. The table was made of stainless steel and consisted of two levels. The top was perforated to allow drainage to the lower
level. From there the fluids funneled down a tube to a drain in the floor. Ben continued, “Now, she has a story to tell. Pitifully we won’t know most of it because of the incompetent way the body was recovered. Absolutely zero forensics.” Jerry looked over at Matt. Matt looked down at his wet boots and shivered. “Yeah, I really fumbled that one.” Jerry saw Matt start to get down on himself and clarified to Ben, “Give yourself a break Matt. You had just been shot pointblank in the chest only a few hours earlier.” “I guess so, but Davis sure didn’t pull his punches.” Ben felt bad for bringing up the bad work and changed the subject. “How ‘bout that scar on Davis’s face. Whooee. Nasty. Definitely knife. Six inch blade minimum. I would guess curved too. Like the ones used in the meat packing industry. There has got to be a good story about how that happened. The guy is a monster. I’m glad he’s on our side.” The cold began to bother Jerry. Talking in shivers, “Hey, speaking of story… what do we know about the…the bag over there.” “Well, preliminarily, that’s the disclaimer before I slice into her. Preliminarily she died of strangulation. There was also a common date rape drug found in her system. Shortly post-mortem she received thin razor-like lacerations to her lips and vagina. Predominantly on her clitoris. About 30 well placed cuts to each.” With a purposeful face, the jovial Ben was now a completely serious Medical Examiner. He picked up a box of latex gloves and a jar and walked over to the white bag. He motioned Matt and Jerry with the box to follow. He opened the jar and placed a dab under his nose. A strong smell of wintergreen filled the air. He handed the jar to Matt and took a pair of gloves from the box. Matt and Jerry applied the wintergreen balm liberally under their noses. Ben unzipped the bag and folded it back. A stench of wintergreen-decay expanded
around the men. The repugnant odor caused Matt to gag. “From the assumed lividity she was killed elsewhere and dumped. Body fluids suggest she was wrapped in plastic since the time of death. There was no sign of a struggle, probably due to the drugging. And interestingly, no sign of sexual contact. Just prior to being found she became dog food here … here, here… and here” pointing to each bite-mark. Matt remembered how good the girl looked in her leopard workout clothes. His mind wandered to his daughter Kelly and her safety. Matt thoughts turned to the parents of the victim and his obligation to find the killer. “Come on, lets wrap this up, I’m cold”. Matt snapped. “Ok … in summary, the deceased was drugged, choked, no sex, sliced, wrapped up, and dumped to become dog food. Based on the separation of the inner and outer layers of skin and the level of dryness found in the tongue, she has been dead 5 days. Today is Friday, kept at 38 degrees since Thursday night. My best guess is she died Saturday night or Sunday morning. I doubt I’ll learn more when I fillet her tomorrow.” Ben finished with “Matt you should be writing this down.” Jerry stepped out from behind Matt and finished writing in his notebook with a hard stabbed period. “Got it. Let’s go.” “Before you do, here’s a photo of her to show around. Sorry it’s not a good likeness. I know you didn’t ask, but… if I were investigating this case, I would look for a sexually frustrated boyfriend. Someone who didn’t get his way in the attention department. From the slicing, the perp is a real nut-job. No sex after the drugging can mean either lack of interest or lack of function.” Matt had been taught repeatedly by John Lawson not to prejudge a case and make conclusions until there are hard facts. Even though John’s motto was “for every investigation there is a simple conclusion that is wrong”, Matt couldn’t help but be
persuaded by what his old friend the Medical Examiner had suggested. It made sense. And Matt was determined to solve his first case.
MATT NEEDED TO get away from his job and clear his thoughts. Davis had purposely degraded him and done a good job at it. What were his motives? Matt didn’t care. He needed to get back to nature – in touch with his animal strength. Matt headed to his sanctuary, the YMCA weight room. At the entrance of the facility, he pulled the receptionist aside and showed her the photo that Ben had taken. The girl did not recognize the victim. The receptionist was a student still in high-school. She became upset and began crying after seeing the photo. Matt made a mental note not to show photos of dead people to young girls again. Hearing the sobs, the manager on duty showed up to investigate the disturbance. He did not recognize the girl in the photo either but was able to provide a list of the Jazzercise attendees. With the help of the manager Matt checked the computer for photo I.D.s of the Jazzercise participants. In ten minutes Matt was able to find the girl with the memorable rear-end that wore leopard-pattern tights. Tiffany Cates. Student at Illinois Central College. Matt felt elated. His first case almost solved. Maybe he was Detective material after all. Matt got a copy of her membership application. Now he needed to find her boyfriend and who she was with last weekend. He was now off-duty and ready to forget his job for the night. Shannon had her yoga. Matt had his weights. She would describe her yoga experiences and the benefits from it. She said the stretching allowed her to feel more of her body and expand her consciousness. Matt’s weight-lifting got him expanded arms for kicking somebody’s ass. His weight training lets him feel muscles with insights into the workings of
his inner body, his animal anatomy. Matt has a fixation on his muscles that is not related to vanity. He is a survivalist at heart. His personal philosophy is to be prepared for survival in a setting of physical confrontation. Back-to-the-jungle survival. Popular psycho-babble teaches to get in touch with our inner child. Matt is in touch with his inner animal. Healthy, fit, six-foot six, 270 pounds and ready to use his strength at an instant if needed. He simplifies his routine by wearing the same clothes every time. Nothing fancy; sweats and a sleeveless T-shirt. His ritual starts with the bench-press using free weighs. In earlier days as a football player and boxer he was know as Matt Press-a-ton. Warming up at 245 pounds, he peaks at 360. Then, back down in pyramid fashion. Matt rounds out his upper body development by working his deltoids, biceps and triceps. He finishes his upper body with laterals and then moves to the legs. His biceps and shoulders are massive. Today his lifting was distracted from the events of the day. Rain, wrinkled clothes, acting-Lieutenant, card tables and that bastard Davis. Matt tried to remember the words he used regarding his case. Jee-hob or something. Matt found himself wishing he had written it down. Then he remembered Davis throwing the notepad to him. Correction, at him. Matt decided he wasn’t about to take notes from Davis like some school boy. The fury of his meeting with Davis returned and he exercised with renewed vigor. Completely drained and ready to leave, Matt looked over to one of the offices adjoining the weight room and saw Sarah Rosen hard at work. Sarah was a lawyer for the City. She and Shannon worked in the same City Hall building and were close friends. Matt liked Sarah and wasn’t jealous of the large amounts of time she and Shannon spent together. She was 35 years old, the same age as Shannon. But that was where the similarities ended. Sarah had never been
married. She was pretty in an ethnic way and wanted a husband and children. Obtaining this goal was made difficult for her for two reasons. First, she was Jewish with high expectations from her parents on who she should marry. The second obstacle was her physical deformity. Sarah was born with a withered left arm. The deformed arm resembled a fin similar to a thalidomide deformity. The appendage was terminated with tiny finger projections the diameter of a pencil. And on the ends of the fingerlettes were tiny miniature fingernails. This birth defect molded her personality and made her strong. Matt thought that Sarah, with all her feminine ideals, had more balls than a lot of guys he knew. She had chutzpah. Sarah was always in a state of self-improvement. She was particularly driven in the area of physical exercise. “There’s some major compensation going on there”, Matt and Jerry would say both joking and seriously. Sarah isn’t self-conscious of her arm and doesn’t try to hide it. Matt is amazed how she gets up in front of large groups of people and isn’t affected by her handicap. He admires this in her considering his selfconsciousness and fear of public speaking. Matt wiped with a towel and headed over to her office. “Hey lady, does your workload require two offices now?” Sarah looked up and smiled noticing the bulging veins in his huge arms “Hey Matt, how’s it going? It looks like you just had a good workout.” Matt chose not to go into details other than, “Rough day. Boy, I needed a good release today. I’m heading for the steam room. What are you doin’?” “I had a trial today and got off early. I lifted some weights for my baseball swing. Now I’m finishing up some work here until yoga class tonight. Is Shannon coming?” Matt looked around jealously at the office, “Wow, two offices. You really rate. I’ll have you know, I’ve got a card table and two folding metal chairs now all to myself.” Sarah answered with a chuckle, “The ‘Y’ lets me use this office for volunteer
usually the grandmother eliminates a young girl’s clitoris. Matt. we have a terrible time defeating them as an enemy. Allah is their God. They figure if you eliminate the clit. And her face too. Sometimes they boobie-trap their dead with explosives.” . please don’t underestimate that assignment.. Sarah appreciated the sense of humor but shook her head anyway.” She closed her work-file and leaned back from the desk. she couldn’t overcome her prejudice that big males with overdeveloped muscles didn’t have much mental snap. And then to investigate the spreading-plague. A mission to carry out the will of Allah.S. Trust me.” Matt smiled. these people do not like being on the list. In the Islam faith a Jihad is a holy mission. And when they are taken prisoner they try anything to die and take someone with them. “Hey.” “What do you mean eliminate?” Sarah demonstrated with a flip of her pen. stretching her arms behind her head. “An overzealous paradise seeker? I don’t know.” Sarah shrugged. It is called vaginal mutilation. there was a murder of a girl. First. “Interesting topic. “Since September 11 and postSaddam Iraq. Matt snapped his fingers with excitement. why do you ask?” “Ah. you’re the detective.work I do for the battered women’s group here. “But the corpse we found had her whole area sliced. “I believe he was using the word Jihad. All over the country bad things have been happening from those interviews.” “As for the twat slicing. they will go to paradise. Even though she liked Matt a lot. more like man’s way.” Sarah’s smile turned to a serious lawyer-face. I know this because many Muslims ask for lawyers during the questioning..… some guy at work mentioned it today. In their heaven martyrs get 72 virgins at their disposal and stuff like that you males might enjoy.” The idea of battered women made Matt think back to the vaginal mutilations and the word Davis asked him about. Her body was found with her lips and…ah… twat all sliced up. “Because of radical imams declaring a fatwa or a religious decree for war against the West. we are to interview local Muslims and ask them ‘what are you doing in the U.” “When that happens does the deadguy get twice as many virgins? I think he should. In order to preclude temptation for sex on the part of the women. and are you a terrorist’?” “I hope you are joking. “What is the case all about?” “It is a twisted web of intrigue. So it is written. Matt tried to remember the term Davis mentioned to him. not just trimmed. lips mostly. When the corpse is moved it goes off and they get you even from the grave. it is somewhat related to the same culture as the Jihad. What is a Jee-hob? It has to do with a Muslim movement. the Jihad mostly refers to the attempts by Arab terrorists to bring down good old Uncle Sam. you eliminate the problem of sexual infidelity. for women not to enjoy sex.. as you call it.” Matt winced.” She looked to see if Matt was following what she was saying. you would know about this counselor.. “At a young age the girls have it sliced off with a razor blade. They believe that if they die contributing to the Jihad. a family member. Matt tried not to look at her arm as he noticed the one limb was too short to reach the other.” She said with an Arabic accent. I was going to look it up on the internet. It is Allah’s ..
Chapter 10 – Dinner –
LATER THAT EVENING Matt did a strange thing. To prepare for the birthday dinner for Shannon’s mother, he got out a two-pound arrowhead shaped metal object that had an internal heating element. He plugged it in so that it would get hot. The hot object when pressed against his clothes distributed the heat into the fibers of the garment so that the lay of the fabric was even and pleasing to the eye. This was his analysis as he ironed his pants and shirt for dinner that night. To Matt the purpose of clothes is to provide warmth and cover his vulnerable genitals. Matt thought to himself, I’ll bet early man never worried about wrinkles, what a waste. Matt felt two domestic chores were not worth the effort expended- ironing and making the bed. His ex-wife Marsha and Shannon both go to extremes to make their beds each day - bed coverings perfectly aligned and crisp. Matt figured it was a girlthing. The bedroom is not in use throughout the day. Then, each night the effort is negated as you climb under the sheets in the dark with no regard to the order and effort just destroyed. Arriving promptly at the house of Shannon and her mother, Matt noticed as he rang the doorbell how perfect the yard looked around the house. Good Detective work. He was a Detective now, even if only
acting. The house was an old Victorian and from the front porch looked in good repair. Mrs. Fitzgibbons, Shannon’s mother, wouldn’t have it any other way. After her husband died she had lived alone in the house for around a year. Shortly after Shannon’s father died, her husband and six-year old daughter were killed in a car accident. They were hit by a drunk driver in a head-on crash. To help with the grieving Shannon moved in with her mother and for the past four years has lived comfortably in the oversized house. Mrs. Fitzgibbons answered the door. Matt looked in her eyes and smiled sincerely. She was having her 53rd birthday tomorrow and she looked fantastic. “I know you had Shannon young but you do not look your age.” Matt knew this was the politically correct thing to say, however, he felt comfortable saying it because he meant it. Mrs. Fitzgibbons had the same petite and firm figure as Shannon. The 18 year difference was not noticeable. They both had perfect Irish genetics. “Matt, you are the charmer”, she said as she led on. “Flattery will get you everywhere with me, and as a special benefit, it will get you fed tonight.” She winked. “Follow me, Sarah just arrived too.” As he walked behind her he could not keep his eyes from dropping to her rear. She was wearing black pants of a material that hung perfectly to the curves framing her cheeks like a portrait. Get your mind out of the gutter, mister, she is your girlfriend’s mother, Matt’s conscience was yelling in a drill sergeant bark. Hey, I study asses, he justified. I even identified a murder victim by her ass, and by what she was wearing to cover her ass. Concentrate. “Hey Matt”, said Shannon. “I’m glad you could make it. I didn’t know with your busy schedule if you would have a conflict tonight or not. Mom, did I tell you Matt has been promoted to Detective.” “Yes dear, several times.” her mother kidded.
“Acting detective”, Matt clarified, with emphasis on the acting. On the drive over Matt reflected about the title. Maybe if it turns out that I’m not ready yet, or if the trouble concentrating is a real thing with A.D.D., I just might not be cut out for detective. Being assigned in the detective position temporarily would take some of the sting out of failure. Matt selectively ignored that his nemesis, Chief Wilson, was the one who set-up the transition in this comfortable way. “Well it looks like you certainly are acting, you even ironed your pants tonight”, Shannon chided. “With your powers of observation, you should be the detective. Pants and shirt, I’ll have you know.” As they entered the living room Matt spied some familiar faces. “You ironed your clothes, you puss,” he heard the familiar voice of an old friend. “Give me a break Slack. Hey Shannon, you didn’t warn me he’d be here tonight.” Slack was Shannon’s older brother and long-time friend of Matt. “Well you shouldn’t have to act any different with your old biker buddy at the dinner table.” Shannon said. Matt thought, Shannon didn’t know, nor would she want to know, the other, younger side of Matt and Slack. They had been running buddies after high-school. They were in a biker gang with a machocode that was bazaar and alien to Shannon’s nurturing perspective in life. Shannon was active, athletic, and competitive for a girl, but she did not have a clue what it meant to be a young male on the prowl for excitement and worldly experiences. At that stage of his life and in his circle of friends, the alphamale hierarchy was paramount. Getting laid too was high on the list. Tonight however, in front of Mrs. Fitzgibbons he would try his hardest to be respectable. It was part of the courting ritual. He knew that if there was ever a time to be sensitive and politically correct, tonight was it. Matt had visions of a seal diving through a hoop, fins flapping in anticipation of a fish. Matt had to admit Shannon’s affection
was one hell of a carrot. He might even fake a laugh for her if the moment was appropriate.
MATT AND SLACK sat in the living room drinking beer and reminiscing. Mrs. Fitzgibbons joined them with a proud smile and announced dinner was being served. “I’m gonna wash my hands ma,” said Slack. “I’ll be right there.” “Slack, you still paranoid about bugs?” Matt asked jokingly. Shannon’s mom answered for him in an apologetic tone, “Yes, he is. He has always been that way. Every since he was quite young, Jimmy has been a little preoccupied by germs.” “A little preoccupied, are you kidding?” Shannon and Sarah said together. Jim Fitzgibbons was his birth name. He was tagged a slacker in high-school by teachers and the nickname Slack stuck with him. He was regarded as an under-achiever. He was also highly intelligent and booksmart, constantly engaged in reading and self-studies. He never went on to higher education because he didn’t want to “work for the man” as he put it. In younger days Matt shared those same values. According to Slack, Matt had sold out when he got married. Drying his hands as he entered the room, Slack continued his own defense, “Hey what’s wrong with washing your hands? You have no idea what things people touched that came into contact with Matt’s hand. I shook hands with Matt, and that places it on my hand - ready to go into my mouth while I eat. That’s not too hard to follow is it?” Everyone sat down at the table. “Oh, no, here it comes now.” Shannon foreshadowed that there would be more.
“Here’s one scenario to follow”, Slack continued. “Why is it when you go into the public restroom, the sequence is; first you reach for the doorknob, open the door, walk past the sink, take a leak, zip up, go to the sink, wash your hands, grab the doorknob and leave?” “Is that what happens?” Sarah asked smiling at Shannon. “So, what’s wrong with that? It has been done that way since modern plumbing.” Matt asked as he passed the bread. “Don’t encourage him”, Shannon groaned. Slack looked around the table, “The first thing touched is the one with the most contact. Thousands of people, everyone, 100 percent, touch that doorknob. All germs are common and spread from the knob to your hand. Then, following the sequence, you grab your cock , . .” “Jimmy! We have guests”, Shannon’s mom scolded. “Sorry mom, let me finish. After grabbing the stew of germs on the doorknob, deposited there from every single person, then we handle our package and contaminate ourselves with billions of germs.” “Every single person. What about the ones that aren’t single, the married ones?” Sarah joked. Slack finished with, “Then you zip up and create the best, damp, dark, moist breeding ground you can get. A science lab couldn’t do a better job for breeding germs. ” “So what’s the point?” Shannon asked. “Just finish.” “The point is, why isn’t the sequence touch door knob, wash hands, take a leak, and leave?” Slack looked around the faces for looks of revelation. “Inquiring minds want to know. May we say grace?” Mrs. Fitzgibbons asked looking at Matt, “Matt would you do the honors?” Why me? he thought. Matt avoided speaking in front of people, even small groups. “I think the honor should go to the birthday lady.” Matt said graciously.
“Oh well, alright.” Mrs. Fitzgibbons bowing her head, “Dear Lord, Thank you for the food and company we share tonight. We pray for the health and happiness of the world and especially to those stricken from this horrible plague. Amen.” “Amen”, everyone responded in unison and in earnest. “Slack you always did have some crazy outlooks on things.” Matt said across the table. “What’s your take on the plague? Did anyone tell you about what the scarfaced Fed explained to us today.” Shannon kicked Matt under the table. “Now be nice.” “Yeah, Shannon told us earlier.” Slack hesitated looking up pensively. “You know it is hard to believe the government agency that developed the internet can’t figure out the source of the germs. I mean you just look for the common element. In this day and age, how hard is that?” Sarah interjected, “We did a pretty good job tracking the source of N1H1 virus and even coming up with a vaccine.” Slack pointed out the difference, “Yeah, but at least they knew it was a virus and how it spread Just a normal flu virus. Nobody knows where this C.E.S. stuff is coming from.” “Somebody knows.” Matt reminded them. “How about the story of the incident in Oregon in 1985, I think it was. Some guru gave 750 people food poisoning at a saladbar and the Fed’s couldn’t find the common source. The local cops got a confession from a defector a year later to solve the case. With food poisoning, the affected people stay alive so you can ask’em what they ate. You get a couple hundred pukers saying I ate at Joe Blow’s salad bar, and you got it. Bingo. Not too hard.” Everyone agreed. Matt thought this was a good time to enlist Shannon’s help on Davis’s assignment at the hospital. Shannon agreed and offered the help of some of her co-workers to work with Jerry too. Shannon’s mom stood up and said in a praying tone of voice, “Well let’s hope they find the cause soon.” She began clearing the table and smiled proudly “And I hope you catch your bad guy Matt.
His account of the events did not include the details of his itch. The unfavorable trait isn’t passed to future gene-pools and dies away. Matt’s ex. The trait gets passed on genetically and thereby weakens the species. especially with his bad eyesight. Marsha said she liked Stan’s large penis. stabbing to the hilt. . Desert or jungle – he would be buzzard meat in a matter of days. something different from Matt. Matt hated the idea of a piece of paper determining when he could see his children. offspring with bad eyes have a disadvantage and don’t get the chance to have as many offspring. Matt knew what she saw in him. Deck shoes. If there is a divorce in Italy. Matt reflected. According to the divorce decree it was his time of the month to have them. Matt had first met him in a trial where Stan Clark was the defense attorney. And just as she was ready to pull out she would thrust again and walk away for the barbs and poison to do their work.” Shannon made Matt tell the story of the hostage and shooting at the hospital. was the “salt on the wounds”. To Matt. Stan Clark. eyeglasses taint the forces of natural selection. Matt felt like a million dollars on the drive home. He learned the hard way. In America they go to the mother. Stan also sported the latest style in glasses he no doubt saw advertised in his subscription to GQ magazine. Matt hated the bastard. matching shorts and not a hair out of place. answered the door. The second way. Stan. Fitzgibbons proclaimed him to a hero. when a woman has your baby. Matt had made the arrest on the case and was brought to the stand as a witness. Mrs. And Marsha knew and used them. Stan was Peoria’s highest paid most sought after trial attorney. There was no way for Matt to know that it would be a long time before he felt good about his life again. the searing. with his coke-bottle lenses and paunchy gut would quickly turn into excellent feed for the scavengers. Those are the laws of the land. To the hilt. It did gather the response he had hoped for. you are handing her a loaded gun to hurt you in the worst two ways. force you to give her your money with no accountability of how it is spent. Marsha’s new husband. money. In a survival situation. Matt wondered how long Stan Clark would last in a survival situation. the women can take your kids from you. Even dressed casual he was out to impress. Years later. Stan Clark was a little imposter with a cocky attitude that couldn’t be backed up physically. In the animal world. When you are married to someone you learn the other person’s vulnerabilities and soft-spots. He could imagine the arguments Stan and Marsha could get into. well deserving of his promotion. Getting past his failed marriage was the biggest hurdle in Matt’s life. and lots of it. The first way. Marsha. He had made it through the night without fumbling in front of Shannon’s mother. custody of the children goes to the father. Throughout the questioning he spoke to Matt in his highly practiced condescending and degrading manner. and then twisting. earth tone Polo shirt. Raw deal.Congratulations on your promotion and good luck on your new job. During cross-examination Stan Clark had confused Matt with his line of questioning and then discredited him as incompetent at his duties in the arrest. That was her style. The invention of glasses allows for humans to live and prosper with a defective trait. Matt was keenly aware that like guns. Chapter 11 – Reservoir Dogs Saturday morning MATT WAS EARLY to pick up his kids for the weekend. she still provoked Matt with remarks meant to hurt.
as his two bundles of joy rounded the corner of the house. Marsha yelled as Matt backed down the driveway. she said condescendingly.hurtful volleys from Marsha. Now just an art object for some narcissistic lawyer? It didn’t matter. Matt could see she was trying to influence Kelly’s opinion of her father by reinforcing a recent negative event. Marsha said looking up at Matt. He purposely bought it on the big side so she would grow into it. Matt did not enjoy the pressure of always having to do something with the kids. Dan and Kelly. She felt ashamed that the two parents were discussing her. raised as a guy. but he knew he was only acting dad. “Its ok sweetheart”. Two weeks ago Matt bought Kelly a new bike for her 8th birthday. some superficial event for the “quality time”. Matt could feel the judgmental hostility in her voice. Dan smiled back a big toothy grin knowing the meaning of the gesture. Any troubles or bad marks with their children would fall to his blame. He felt he could never really satisfy her in bed. Matt theorized. Another issue weighed heavily in Matt's mind. Matt referred to them as his children. He had five brothers. It sure is less complicated. the control freak. Was he too big and clumsy causing him to be bad in bed? Back when the kids were younger. Chemical. against the fact-manipulating slippery-tongued lawyer. Stan never has to plan an event when the kids are at Marsha’s house.” Time to leave. the best things to come out of his bad marriage. “What are we going to do today daddy?” Kelly asked full of anticipation. and his mother died when he was four. his son and daughter. Why couldn’t they just hang out. The dad always has a something planned. She cried for her mom and Matt had to take her home early. Thinking of Marsha. She was afraid of the size. He was a guy. “Mom and her money. Matt was pretty sure Marsha had been cheating on him. “Just in case what?” Matt being polite in front of the children. Call it joint custody. The size of the bike caused Kelly to crash and skin her knee. when you think of it as two primates coming together to perpetuate the species. how the outlook of the animal kingdom always puts things into a comfortable perspective . She made a pouting face. Matt loved his kids but hated the idea of the forced activities. “Your daddy won’t force you to ride that bicycle again. “Just wait and see”. no sisters. Single-parent circles have a name for it . Matt wondered if he was ready to remarry. just in case”. But when it comes to “quality time” with his daughter. Did that undermine his marriage and cause it to fail? Was the problem with him? Was it also going to be present in a relationship with Shannon? Could Shannon remain happy and satisfied? Matt thought snap out of it. In the animal kingdom chemicals are released at . Matt needs some help. Two minutes in her company and she was already degrading and controlling. It’s too big.Disneyland Dad. Matt thought. but tried to ride it since it was his gift.” Kelly looked up at her mom and dad. Lose-lose. That’s the rules of the game. For him? She still looked good to him.” At age 13. Matt said as if he had something big and secret planned. he wasn’t sure. Dan was well into the stage when his mother was getting on his nerves. He noticed she had makeup on early for a Saturday morning. like last time. Marsha came around the corner of the house beckoning arrogantly toward Matt. The B team. “Where are you going this weekend. with macho values. It is remarkable. but in reality his children spend 90 percent of their time with Marsha and that prick Stan. If the kids turned out successful Marsha would be quick to take the credit.such clarity. “Just in case Kelly wants her mommy again. “Don’t forget the money you owe me for the flu shot”. Matt is estrogen impaired. Matt rolled his eyes at Dan. Ask him about the male rules-of-engagement on the playground and he could write a book.
birds leave the nest. you and Slack can be checking out the babes at the mall. daddy?” Kelly leaned forward from the back seat. All those hot. Matt wondered if the common appreciation for the same type female was environmental.” Dan groaned. and young kangaroos climb out of the pouch. or race. First we’re going to McDonalds to get you your favorite happy meal.” Matt enjoyed that Dan was old enough to appreciate girls and to have that in common with him. and I will bust you.” Kelly was smiling and Matt was having fun. Dark straight hair. Then we’ll hook up later tonight and rent a movie. From little old black ladies in the outback of Australia to the Scandinavian blondes of Iceland.” “Not really. “Where are we going today. “I guess I’m babysitter for the day. soooo. Otherwise. it’s the law. genetic. They shared a common admiration for Asian girls.” Matt continued. tight-body Asian princesses.. Matt was glad to know of a study done on women around the world. I got the yellow fever too. “Put your seat belt on. and you guys are going to go shopping while I meet Shannon for some exercise.. The scrawny software inventor with the patents and huge bank account may be attractive for a divorce settlement. religion. Photos of men were shown to women and asked which ones they considered attractive. As a policeman he had seen eye piercings as a common element with youths in trouble. “Daisy has two daughters the same age as you. “Do you remember Daisy?” “Slack’s wife?” Kelly asked. “Yeah.” he said stalling for time. and porcelain teeth. He figured it was the same with humans. Matt knew he had to answer the second time she asked or she would be on to him. Matt noticed a new piercing on Daniel’s eyebrow with a ring in it. “We are headed to the bright sun shinny outdoors today. but Matt enjoyed that women were attracted to a big masculine guy for breeding. offspring would stay home and let their mothers take care of them their whole life. Matt explained.” Dan smiled. And I’m a cop. the same men were picked. They both thought that pretty Philippine girls had the best genetics on the planet. “Slack’s girlfriend?” Dan clarified stressing the word girlfriend as if he understood the difference. small firm petite bodies. Independent of culture.the appropriate time so the cubs leave their mother. MATT WORKED HARD at planning this visitation day with his children . young lady. perfect skin. Yellow fever man. fast. Matt made a plan to discuss this with his son when the time was right. all of the women picked the same common features for male attractiveness. “It’s not just a good idea. or coincidence.
“Look dad. “What’s clairvoyant?” Kelly asked. dad. Dan spoke back like a know-it-all. the straight and narrow.” Matt could see his son was clueless about the subject he was bringing up.” Matt added the profanity to further open up the man-to-man exchange. want to bring up something”. “I know. your blood.few distractions with little eye contact. On his weekends with the kids. Matt took advantage of the drive to bring up something he had been meaning discuss with Dan. Kelly always got carsick and made long drives difficult. I need to . “Well since you are clairvoyant. I want a fucking answer. Why would you want to call negative attention to yourself in that way?” Matt finished. The first thing a cop thinks of when they see a piercing is ‘an unsupervised child’..” “Well. That is why the rest of the world hates Americans. you want me to remove my eye piercing”. Dan offered in his defense. Dan responded. he had to balance his adult life while at the same time keeping the children entertained. You are a redneck. I mean since you’ve grown pubic hairs. I don’t think you have or you would know where I coming from. and looked over and down at his son. And an unsupervised child to a policeman means a source of trouble.” “I know where you are coming from. your mom and Stan are not plugged into the same reality of things that I am. hell yeah. Riding around in the car always seemed the best place for discussions . “Besides.” “Whoa there partner. He . there actually is some physical harm that can come out of it”. honey”. authority. “A mind-reader. what I want to point out is that having a pierced eyebrow at your age is a sign of rebellion. “You really want an answer?” “I’m glad we are here together and you are talking. Matt completely understood what Daniel meant. Matt said in his best parental tone.and hoped it would be satisfactory to everyone. This weekend Kelly had her own age companion. major blood. “Dan. mom and Stan don’t have a problem with it. Fighting has always been the way you and your generation straighten things out. have you ever been in a fight? Not in the sandbox. it will split your flesh like an ax through a watermelon. Matt had analyzed his own actions while growing up. I know all about that. One punch.” Matt was trying to be light in a serious communication with his son. This also helped Slack out since he had to watch Daisy’s daughter for the day. Do you really want to go around so vulnerable? Just wear a sign that reads: “Pull the ripcord in my eyebrow so I deflate and bleed to death. “It won’t get infected dad. We are so self-righteous forcing our own values up other countries asses in the name of anti-terrorism. Matt’s father had also been a cop. sounds like I struck a nerve. Dan jumped in. Or what if someone comes up and yanks it out? Blood everywhere. Look. Matt began in a fatherly tone. Matt’s voice softened. Matt could feel himself tightening up from trying to talk to two people at once. watch you fucking mouth. Your sister is around.” “Hey. “Son. Matt always liked long road trips for bonding with Dan.. He had come to the conclusion that his own defiant biker stage was the result of his dad being a cop. maybe we don’t have to have this conversation”. its hard enough being a normal kid when your dad is a fucking cop. What I’m talking about is if someone throws a punch at you and hits that hunk of metal in your eyebrow.” Matt said jokingly as they smiled at each other. I got this to offset the straight-laced image a little. Matt said in his best parental voice. “Dan. Matt was both annoyed with the interruption and impressed at his accuracy.” “What’s the harm dad? It’s artwork. the ultimate symbol of “the-man”.” “Spoken like a true lawyer trying to rationalize something.
trying to look as cool as he could for Rachel considering the subject. Nice to meet you. From that memory he knew his days of telling his son what to do were over.” Dan smiled.a splash-guard”. “A what?” they both said in unison. “Yeah.” Matt knew a more detailed explanation was coming. Dan and Kelly. After the meal Dan leaned over and quietly said. You lay down a layer of toilet paper so that when your crap drops in the water it doesn’t splash up your butt-hole. Then the father and son leaned back openly laughing. He really means well. “Did everyone wash your hands?” Matt thought. “Hey dad. “I just hope that thing on your eye gets you laid. I’ll be right back. He leaned in and whispered..remembered his own communications with his father when he was at the same age as Dan. doing his parental thing. This is a public place and all. And then Matt thought again. in the toilet. Kelly and China. this is China and Rachel.” Matt shrugged like it was no big deal.” “Outstanding day. “Dad you didn’t tell me we were meeting somebody today.” Then Dan secretly mouthed to his father so no one could see. “I’ve never given them any splash-guard instructions.” Slack smiled at being taken seriously. The attractive girl swatted her hair out of her face with a provocative flip and said.” The kids hit it off. You ever see their Myspace page?” He rocked his head sideways several times to indicate let’s move away from the others so we can really talk. “What a fox. he is right! “Slack is right. WazzzUp. Not again. “By the way that’s another subject we need to talk about real soon. “You know a splash-guard . The conversation became interrupted as he pulled into the restaurant’s enter lane. Dan and Rachel. “I hadn’t planned on it.” As if someone had flicked a switch. “Are you gonna use a ‘splash-guard’?” Matt and Dan smiled at the seriousness of the question. I can see you haven’t grasped a thing. “I like your Mudvayne shirt..” Matt gave his Homer Simpson impression.” “Hey Slack. He threw his shoulders back and stood different as he tried his best to act cool. INSIDE..” Dan looked over at his father raising his eyebrows in a delighted way and said.” Matt said winking. . To act out what he thought the girl would like to see. they said nodding patronizingly. BigMacs for the adults and Happy-meals for the kids. While Matt passed out food and napkins Slack asked. zup. they put Peoria on the map.” Matt confessed. Daniel spoke. Hey there’s Slacker. Matt and Kelly both picked up on his fresh cockiness and smiled at each other..” “Hey Matt. EVERYONE GOT their orders and sat down. still whispering to carry on the humor of it.” “Oh. Matt felt recharged being with his kids. “See dad.” Matt concluded as they all got out of the car. The day was warm and all spirits were high.” “I didn’t know either. I like your eye-piercing. “Nice day to be on a hog. “Everyone needs to wash their hands.” Matt reinforced. Dan noticed Rachel looking at him. The pairs were the same age with everything in common. Dan was a changed person. “DOOough! We were just talking about that very thing. “Well.” Slack overheard and showed cautious alarm. “Hi. I gotta use the bathroom.” Matt smiled with a gleam of nostalgia in his eyes. He placed his hands in his pockets and posed as cool as he could. trying to deepen his voice several years in age. “I’m a bad parent. Rachel smiled with enthusiasm as they walked away from the group.” Dan laughed. I’m Rachel.
they split up in the parking lot. This day was only a . Matt headed off to spend time with Shannon. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.He enjoyed the attention and shook his head pretending to listen. “Gross. Slack explained. Her stamina allows her to play full out the whole 90 minutes of game. GRoss!” They all yelled together like it was a punch-line of a joke.” Slack with a wink. lifting weights. “when you sit down and take a dump. Sarah however. running.” “AAUuugh. “You are one sick fuck. Might as well get a spoon and start lapping. Kelly looked over at her new friend and said. kicking. As prearranged. “Class dismissed. Matt enjoys the time spent with Shannon. It was the Thirty and Over Recreational Soccer Organization. did he say soup?” “Then. Matt and Jerry joked about playing with the “weekend warriors”.” Chapter 12 – Soccer Game Saturday . Each was delighted with the arrangements of their newfound friends. Just drop the kids off if I’m in the middle of a game. Every person deposits the worst of the worst of their bodily fluids in there. swinging the bat. Years later. his compact size makes him a good player. “A public toilet contains the biggest accumulation of human pathogens. Jerry and Sarah Rosen are also on the team.. But what she lacks in athletic-ability she makes up for in heart. all of the kids went with Slack. Matt put his arm around Slack affectionately and whispered. The TORSO league as it was called. He knew the subject was amusing and burst into a full laugh.” With all loose ends taken care of.” Slack was smiling as he acted out the motion of the spooning to his mouth. I hope to return the favor. They belonged to a team consisting of City Hall employees. The experience of coaching young children brought them closer than any other activity. Matt could see players warming up across the field. Matt headed alone to the soccer fields to meet up with Shannon. With ponytail shaking he announced.. Matt and Shannon loved soccer. Enjoy your time with Sis. She constantly practices her skills to improve athletically for all sports. They once coached a team together for Dan when he was younger. No need to hang around. Some get a little overzealous. but for the most part the competition remains low and it provides great exercise. and doing yoga. Thanks Slack. Slack continued seriously. coordinated and highly suited to soccer. Your butt is the same as your mouth for absorbing germs.midmorning AFTER WAITING OUTSIDE for Dan. “I’ll see you in few hours at the soccer fields next to the YMCA.” The two young girls giggled and covered their mouths. fast.” Slack continued.” Dan you might need to watch your sister for a little while if I’m in the middle of a game.” Dan figured the time was right and headed away to take care of business. throwing. Other customers looked over. they hung on to the bond and played co-ed soccer on the weekends. You know that? Splash guards. softening his vocabulary so the younger ones could understand. “You will good buddy. Jerry is natural athlete and despite the surplus weight. any microscopic splash that goes up your butt will infect you with every germ from the thousands of people before. He threw his head back and roared. is not a major contributor to the team. They don’t all flush down either. They just mix and become a more potent soup. She is agile. players that venture forth from behind their desks each weekend with a big ‘S’ on their chest and a chip on their shoulder to relive faded glories.
Matt had seen him before at the YMCA. The other team’s organizer was not present so it was left to Matt to get things going. “Who are the dudes?” Matt asked Jerry. like a statue of a Greek or Roman god. why can’t the guys on our team pass like that?” a girl on Matt’s team was heard to say more than once. Matt wondered to himself It looks good. We’re gonna need a mop and bucket for the ladies here pretty soon. moves like a cat”.” said Sarah. like a body-builder. He has feet too. Several times he gave the . “Hey. Haven’t they got magazines for viewing that kind of stuff in private? These two guys were right out of the pages from men’s underwear ads. This was particularly appealing to the women on the team. But these guys were different. You can play for the other them.” “I’ll join them. Matt thought. “Sure we need players. We have a full team. Jerry joked. The brothers on the other hand. Often men in the league become too physical and aggressive causing them to unintentionally run into the ladies. they had athletic tone. you guys are skins.” Matt looked over at Tony.” Sarah volunteered. bulging pecs. Tony used the perfect balance of dancing with the ball around Shannon but not in a way that was taunting to her. He had hoped for a quick hug by Shannon but not today. As he jogged closer Matt could see Shannon and Sarah kicking warm-ups with two guys. They moved the ball effortlessly among themselves and passed it unselfishly to everyone on their team. perfect skin-tone.” Matt attempted a tone of disinterested leadership. “Is it OK if my brother and I join you today?” Matt knew the question was coming. “That is Tony and his brother. As Tony and his brother peeled off their shirts Matt regretted the arrangement. Women on the coed teams rarely got to touch the ball. “Whatever. We are shirts. “That will balance out the number of women. the epitome of a male homo-sapiens’ physique. actually the other team has the need. Many of the players on the co-ed teams were of foreign origin. He was 5’ 8” and perfectly proportioned. It was more like men against men with the woman standing around watching. but is it functional? SOON INTO THE game Matt’s team found out the brothers were for real. The two weren’t muscle-bound. They looked to be foreigners. Alright. thinking she would maximize her improvement by playing with other people who use different soccer techniques.practice game. Before starting Tony came up and asked. You know. Matt wondered how deep Shannon’s interests were for her yoga instructor. Matt noticed longer than normal glances that turned into stares. Matt noticed Shannon gave a longer-thannormal look too. The brothers were also perfect gentlemen with the women on the other team. Cut to perfection. chiseled abs. When he arrived at the group Matt was greeted by “Hey Keep” from the others. No wonder Shannon and the other girls were over there warming up with him. Everyone began to look. He had never really seen him up close before and was immediately struck by his toned physique and handsome features. Well. Tony the Tiger. were in perfect control and appeared to be complete gentlemen. freely passing to the women when strategically appropriate. There were two teams out on the field for the practice game. “I didn’t recognize him without his yoga stuff on and 20 women around him. On opposite teams. Her attention was fully engaged in kicking with the two men. Tony the yoga dude. used for conditioning before the official season starts.
the brothers were playing on another level against the men on Matt’s team. Just when Tony should have kicked the ball toward the net. As the game wound down Matt and his team continued to try their hardest. and quick kneeing. they could see the source of the scream. “You are embarrassing me. Matt went down as blood exploded from his face. since it meant the drubbing was almost over. just let it go. Matt. Everyone else started off running across the field in the same direction. “You meant to do that you little fucker. TONY TOOK OFF running. Tony broke into the open with the ball from midfield. but not able to do anything but watch. Matt could tell by the positioning and stance of the dogs that they were in classic attack mode. Matt could not run any faster. She raised her arm to block the bite. But then he noticed he was running in the direction of Kelly’s scream. Meanwhile. The brothers were so experienced at the game that they were able to play dirty against their opponents without detection. “I’ll kill you.” Matt said pointing a finger over to him “calling him out”. Matt could see the events unfold in slow motion.” Even Shannon told him to “let it go”. and unnoticeable grinding of their heels onto feet. Unseen pushes. Matt charged out at the perfect moment and slid down to take away Tony’s shot-on-goal. He heard his daughter’s scream coming across the field. Matt caught the direction of his eyes aiming at him. It began to shake its . Matt got up fast and furious with his hand cupped below his nose. Based on the proximity of the pack it was going to happen very soon. But Shannon said to Matt. Late in the day Matt saw Slack drop the kids off in the parking-lot and waved goodbye. Rules-of-engagement by males of any culture called for retaliation. you dirty little fuckin’ towelhead. His breathing was made difficult from the blood and swelling in his face. could see it but couldn’t do anything about it. These were the same dogs that had chewed and further mutilated Matt’s murder victim. They were now freely passing the ball to the women to score. Across the field adjacent to the woods a pack of dogs had Kelly surrounded. The dogs were starving and had tasted human blood. Just as the practice game was coming to an end and scoring was academic. “You mother-fucker!” Matt raged. Chill out. Without hesitation the dog bit down across her arm. “Yeah. Tony was surprised Matt got up at all considering the full force he put into the kick. He had been sucker-punched.” The bystanders were surprised by the outbreak and lack of sportsmanship. As they ran.” Matt could not let it go. he didn’t mean it. Jerry and some of the men on Matt’s team believed the accusation was true. a huge German shepherd lunged at Kelly. Tony launched a rocket-shot kick at full throttle square into Matt’s nose. Putting forth his best effort he had been scored on no less than nine times by the brothers. The dog had Kelly’s arm fully engulfed in its mouth. At first Matt thought he had scared the bastard into full retreat. he heard a distracting sound. Just seconds away. It was a welcomed distraction. Even Sarah scored twice against Matt on strategically placed assists from Tony. like a charging bull. playing goalie. Tony had 20yard lead.ball up to her saying her defense was “too good” and “too much”. This meant an attack would be viscous and with intent to kill. “Lighten up Matt”. He had his own problems defending the goal with his bruised chest. Her scream conveyed extreme terror. Just as Matt started over to Tony.
Matt felt she was purposely trying to degrade him even more than usual because Shannon was there. “I wasn’t talking to you. “Thanks honey. whatever happens is my responsibility. little-girl voice. Damn my Irish heritage. Before the dog could continue the attack. Notes are fundamental to any investigation. but this was nothing compared to what was in store from his ex-wife. “What did you say. He was numb. It had taken place a short distance away. They would have been rounded up and my precious daughter would not be needing stitches right now. and legs twitching. he thought. He remembered Davis throwing the notebook to him. That’s just the way it works. Marsha’s assault continued. It made sounds that started as a yelp and ended as a low guttural growl. “I’m not a towel-head.head violently back and forth like a shark in a feeding frenzy. “Are you OK?” asked Shannon. I’m fine.” Matt just stood there with his nose throbbing all caked with blood. I should have made written notes in a crime-scene notebook. even in front of Shannon and the doctors. I’m Italian. I beg your pardon?” As others looked on. He was beating himself up pretty good mentally. I think it’s broken. “I’m sure you’re ok. Kelly fell to the ground exposing her face and neck as the next target for a vicious bite. “But it wasn’t daddy’s fault.” On the way to the hospital Matt replayed the events in his mind. . A short time later the movement ceased. He could not believe the man he was ready to fight ended up saving his precious daughter from certain maiming. the remaining dogs each took a turn passing by their fallen leader for a final look and smell. Is this your idea of ‘quality time’ with the children? You don’t belong having any time with them. Did he have what it takes to be a homicide detective? A husband? A father? As they arrived at the hospital Matt’s mind was far away in a world he tried to avoid but often found himself returning. Kelly’s hysteria calmed down after Shannon applied first aid to the bite. It was the dog.” Matt replied. “Yeah.” Dan interjected. Keeping their eyes on Tony. blood flowing across his teeth. Tony arrived and met the dog with a full running kick. He had meant to report the chew marks to Animal Control at the city. The dog lay dead with its throat crushed and neck broken by one well placed kick. Matt had gone home the night the corpse was found and drank more than the usual. Matt pulled up to drive her to the hospital. At the hospital Marsha ripped into Matt.” Kelly began practicing. “Boy.” Kelly answered in a soft. “You leave the children with your hippie friend. The huge dog fell to its side with mouth open. Before walking away Tony turned to Matt’s truck and said “Italian”. As far as I’m concerned you are as bad a father as you were a husband.” Matt flashed back to the dog bites in the corpse by the reservoir. But he had forgotten. He punted the dog’s throat with precise accuracy inches below Kelly’s tiny arm. If I hadn’t drank so much that night I would have remembered to report the dogs.” “Yeah. The pack quickly fled as the slower people arrived.” Shannon snapped angrily. my nose hurts. You were ready to get into a fight back there. Everyone in the car agreed. a great deal more. the world of self-doubt and insecurity. “No excuse sir” was all he could think to say. Matt thought to himself. mom is gonna be angry. Matt could sense the “See what you are getting yourself into Sweetie” tone of voice directed at Shannon. The scene was breaking up and Tony and his brother headed to their car. but when you are with me. Matt asked softening his words to the man who had just saved his daughter. I was talking to Kelly. She spared no mercy. and then he leaves them unsupervised around a bunch of wild animals.
his children. “No. grabbed a pack of Camels and headed off for his day of solving the . Today he took the amphetamine with good intentions. OK makes sense to me.S. Something in his past that made him comfortable with failures and adversity. The answer came back to him like a strong punch to his bloody and broken nose. He knew she was right. Matt poured the remainder of the pot into a Styrofoam cup. Matt only saw his lawn needed mowing and the dew from the long grass soaking his slippers. Matt had childhood baggage.As low and dejected as Matt was feeling at that moment. I’m sorry. She wanted to thank him personally. Today. and Wilson. No sleep. He didn’t notice the fresh spring growth or the birds happily chirping as he shuffled through the long weeds to the waiting newspaper. Some bastard needs to be made responsible for his actions.” Chapter 13 . He looked terrible. Shannon always told him it was wasted energy. First. but he couldn’t stop himself. Guns pointed at him. I have a softball game tomorrow night. The fresh nightmares continued to distract him.DORM VISIT – Sunday Morning MATT SPENT A sleepless night punishing himself with his negative thoughts and self-persecution. Matt. no shave. The second was when Matt asked Shannon if she would meet him for dinner the following day or the next. just look for a disgruntled boyfriend.E. And then the following night. Another reminder of his misfortune from the previous day. Soccer balls heading for his face. Something good to tell Shannon. two more exchanges would make the day even worse. He opened the paper to see the headlines “President Addressed Nation on Plague: C. The medical staff attending to Kelly’s arm did what they could to protect Matt’s nose.D. The amphetamines were in two strengths . Matt was told they would come off naturally in a few days after the swelling goes down. He remembered his old buddy the Medical Examiner’s comment. therefore I am. Not Contagious”. “Based on the mutilations on the victim. Matt fixed a cup of strong black coffee and sat at the kitchen table.” Matt could do that. That night Matt also had reoccurring visions of his recent events. Davis throwing note-books at him. The lower case title below it read “Department of Homeland Security puts country at Orange Alert”. Matt had two bottles of Adderoll pills prescribed for his A. Orange Alert. Matt rationalized he couldn’t do anything about past events. Dogs attacking his daughter. Something to feel good about. I have dinner planned after yoga class with the instructor. Matt looked at himself in the mirror but could only stand the reflection for a brief glimpse. Help from his medicine cabinet. his father. He threw on a pair of winkled jeans and a black tee-shirt. Instead he could concentrate on his murder investigation. He chugged his coffee. firing at his chest. Matt tried to clean up as best he could without ruining the bandages.D. this meant he needed to focus and get something done on the murder case.10 mg blue and 20 mg orange. Matt could not focus on the paper. An intern taped some padded bandages over the nose. refilled his huge mug and headed for the bathroom. He noticed his swollen nose still throbbed as he bent over to pick up the paper. Today he would use some help concentrating. He would need it to compensate for his lack of sleep and help with his important tasks at hand. I think. And the sights of the mutilated Leopard-girl. Marsha wanted to know who the man was that saved Kelly’s life. In the morning Matt threw on a robe and swung his front-door open to the view of a beautiful spring morning. Something to chase his nightmares away. He chugged his coffee and swallowed two orange tablets. No shower. He looked at the time and calculated the effects of the 40 mgs of speed would keep him company until dinnertime. It was 11:00 am.
Matt remarked in frustration. She did not like his size or the way he looked. Matt’s truck with light-bar on top looked out of place amid the Frisbees.” Matt pulled through the gates of the Illinois Central College campus at 12:30pm. “I’m sorry for my tone of voice. This is my way of paying respects to John. Jerry spoke cheerfully.” he said as he tipped his officer’s cap. Thanks for coming with me today. Mr.and change your clothes and bandage. Markle spoke compassionately. Perfect for TV.” She walked to the printer and returned reading the printout. “We also have to bury our best friend later today. but for yours. Win friends? Influence? What are those. blankets. The statue’s sword points to it. You ever heard of a book named How to Win Friends and Influence Others?” “Jeesh Jerry. Markle began shutting down the computer as the two men headed towards the door. “Let’s see you had said on the phone you needed information on Tiffany Cates. He further explained. Matt honked and Jerry came out from the front door dressed in his full Dress-Uniform. “Damn. From Dublin. “Thank you for meeting us here Mrs. and smelled – coffee and cigarettes.” Matt had a flashback to her corpse. This was good timing. Preston. Let’s go catch a crook. and backpacks strewn around the lawn. “You look nice too.” Mrs.” as she logged on. Majoring in Radio and TV. Jerry saw the humor and smiled. Matt spoke out. Please be soft with the message. she is pretty. She also noticed the bandage hanging from his nose was stained through with blood. I’m gonna meet Beverly and the girls at the funeral service later today. “Oh. Good luck breaking the news.crime.” Matt sensed the ill feelings from the lady and tried to explain. “I’m the one that called you to meet us. I need to notify the parents and I’m feeling the emotion. Her parent’s phone number is on the printout. “Uhh. Not for his sake. thank you. I’ll print it. “What is this about?” She looked to Jerry. Jerry. Who you trying to impress?” Matt joked. Sure. “Can you print it?” The words came out more like an order than a request. Do you have the information so I can contact them?” Jerry looked up at Matt and smiled at the sensitivity. Matt barked out with stress in his voice. Correct. Room 308. looking up at the cavalryman’s positioning. She called to Matt politely. I want to puke. Markle said what both Matt and Jerry were thinking.” Mrs.” “Here it is. “Respect for John. smooth words for how to kiss ass and manipulate?” . dressed for church. “That’s C not a K right?” “Yes ma’am. I’m so sorry. Can you drop me off?” “Sure thing partner. Ohio. The low throaty sound of his V8 engine broke the silence of the sunny spring day. I do hope you will clean up…. From first sight Mrs.” He was still being ignored and he continued. ignoring Matt.” Mrs. Look at that smile. They are trying to help. You look nice. I just finished my organist duty. “Well. “Shinny shoes and all. I do like to stay busy. “This is her murder investigation. He picked up Jerry on the way. I have a wedding at two o’clock. She tried to remain cordial but did not like the tone of his voice. Markle. Markle did not think highly of Matt. “She is … was in Brenton Hall. With a title like that.” She unlocked the door and turned on the light and headed to the computer. It’s the dorm across the lawn. “My. if you are going to your friend’s funeral.” She smiled at the compliment and spoke in a grandmotherly voice. This case has me upset. Inside they were met by an elderly white-haired lady with her hair up. The vision mixed with the speed caused a jolt of emotion. Here is the photo from her Student ID. He pulled up to the building marked ADMISSIONS. Why does everybody need to comment on my looks?” “We’ll partner it has something to do with impressions.” As the pair crossed the lawn.
He was also cautioned by Mrs. What do you bet?” “John Lawson had taught me not to become pre-biased in an investigation by guessing at the outcome before having the facts. With her looks no doubt some young stud. Yes. The door was ajar. Matt could hear a similar reaction over the phone. She was found naked last Thursday. He had prepared for this moment. Matt reached his open palm toward the phone. She was due back Wednesday. Tiffany has been found dead. He felt it was important that the facts be presented fully and accurately.” Matt knocked louder and walked several steps into the room.” Matt remembered this First Lesson but still allowed himself the fun of guessing the outcome. This was the First lesson of Detective-work. “Oh my God!” the roommate screamed as she fell to the ground and began retching dry heaves. “Here we are Jerry…308”. Matt’s thoughts were interrupted. Matt felt this was the respectable thing to do. Cates. Besides I’m ready to find out who this girl was seeing. Jerry knelt down to offer aid. Her corpse had also been chewed on by hungry dogs for food. “Mrs. A spoiled son with a rich daddy. Just an accurate account of what was known. He was confident. I have some bad news for you. I’m sorry.” Matt paused to make sure he wasn’t leaving anything out. May I speak with Tiffany’s mother?” The roommate handed Matt the phone. Her body was mutilated by razor blades on her lips and genitals. Matt waited for Jerry and knocked on the door. Yes ma’am. Sarah Rosen had helped him. “Hey… wait up… partner. he used to say.Matt turned to the task.” Jerry called to him out of breath. Freshly mowed grass. Matt rationalized that the correct thing to do was to disclose the specific facts to the victim’s mother. calling over his shoulder. Matt knew the information was not being received well and thought it best to end the call. He also felt the amphetamines. “Mrs. The girl on the phone swung around. I am Detective Preston with the Peoria Police Department. Matt also had a speed-buzz from the amphetamines and was in a gabby mood. “No Mrs. Markle to go soft. No beating around the bush. She took a trip with her friend. The girl kept her eyes forward on Matt as she crouched down to pick up the phone. get in shape. Played too many video games and turned wacko.” FEELING FULL OF energy from the speed. Still no sign of Tiffany. Matt sprinted the stairs three at a time until he reached the third floor. “Come on. He did not immediately lift it to his ear. Matt collected his thoughts focusing on what he was going to say. “Who are you? What do you want?” Jerry anticipated the reaction and had his badge out immediately even though it wasn’t him that was alarming the student. Matt yelled from the top of the steps. The door swung fully open and Matt could hear the phone conversation already in progress. Cates. “I’m Detective Preston. “Here we are Brenton Hall. Immaculate landscaping. You can make arrangements for her remains at Peoria City . He picked up the phone and in a talkative gabby way presented the following information to Tiffany Cates’ inquiring mother. The sight of the huge disheveled man frightened her and she dropped the phone. high tuition. Cates.
He spotted a book with a long title. Julie continued. go on. “Her companion. and actually advertise. Jerry looked at his watch and pointed to it. The sweet innocent college girl was now the same as her roommate. Dale Carnegie. “Did Tiffany have any enemies? Someone who might want to hurt her?” “No.” “She was attractive. “Well not exactly this time.” Jerry groaned and put his pen down hard for effect. “Ho boy.Building with the Medical Examiner’s office. Matt jumped into a series of questions with the intent of getting the most information in the least amount of time.” .” Julie sniffed. was anyone jealous?” “Yeah. Jerry apologized. who is he? Do you know his name?” Matt asked permission to light up a cigarette. “It’s safe money. Come on Matt we gotta go. only alive. The girls get good money and the men get what they want. Kind of like his kitten. I’m here to help.” She lit a cigarette and exhaled.ahh boyfriend on a trip. That guy paid her big-time. her Sugar-daddy. As she sat on the couch with her knees up to her chin. At least he brags about being close friends with him. I can see where this is headed. I didn’t kill her. With big glasses and hair up Matt figured Julie to be a sweet girl. Who wouldn’t be. “Many attractive college girls seek out. and only for her company. not interested in boys. His name is Darrel Billington. “Poor Tiff. a bookworm type. “Can’t you see what you’ve done?” Matt looked down at Jerry confused and said “What? I said genitals instead of something else. The transformation was complete. Julie sat back on the couch and explained. She threw her shoulders back and arched seductively as she reached behind her head to let her hair down. in full observation mode. She left with her…. the smoke created beams from the afternoon sun passing through a crack in the curtains. but I wouldn’t kill her. The cigarette smelled good to Matt. Matt. I guess the guy couldn’t get it up or something. Ruffled curtains and embroidered pillows also gave it a very girlie appearance. Julie wiggled seductively into the leather couch.” Matt looked at Jerry for feedback while he handed over the phone. Thank you ma’am. I was jealous. innocent. Julie told them that Tiffany had supplemented her income by entertaining an elderly gentleman.” Matt thought about the leopard exercise clothes found at the murder scene. Who was her companion?” Jerry grabbed the bridge of his nose and shook head at Matt’s insensitivity. It is win-win for both parties. John’s service is in an hour. everyone liked her. “You want to know about her companion? You mean her gravy train. who was her Sugar-daddy?” Julie hesitated. Matt had time to look around. Julie. lives up in Grandview Estates overlooking the Illinois River. noticed she had an attractive side.” Julie removed her glasses. Matt had time to glance at the bookshelf. for Sugar-daddies.” “When did you see her last?” “Saturday morning. That was soft. Candles and incense filled the room with a feminine scent. “Well.” he said out loud. Matt asked. “Poor Tiff. He turned his head to read How to Win Friends and Influence Others. It was a small room with two single beds. But I guess he still enjoyed being around her for the youthful spark. And she looked good too.” Both Matt and Jerry picked up on the hesitation and zeroed in on the relationship. Billington owns the newspaper. It went well with his speed-buzz. I’m very sorry. I think he’s the Mayor’s neighbor. She received money from him.” Matt cleared his throat.” Twenty minutes later Tiffany’s roommate Julie was calm and sipping ginger ale for her stomach. Matt understood the meaning that time was short before the funeral service. Jerry pointed his palms up and looked to the ceiling as if to say. “Sorry Julie. “Hmmm.
“Poor Tif. Matt was asked to say a few words. And we as individuals were fortunate to have known him and to have grown by his personal friendship. Other than Jerry. ‘Musthave’ reading for anybody. Jerry thought back to how Matt had talked to Tiffany Cates’ mother. never. and blew out a puff.” Wilson concluded. the officers avoided Matt. the Instructor. “No.” Julie ran her tongue back and forth on her upper lip and asked in a slow sultry voice. He treated her sweet. Matt caught a glimpse of Shannon and Sarah in the back but was unable to speak with them. Jerry’s wife sat next to John’s widow. hesitated in thought.” Julie played with her hair and nodded with a concerned smile. I can recommend one for you Detective Preston. Jerry tried some coaching as they headed down the steps. “I’m so broke I wouldn’t even be a good saccharine-daddy. City Hall. Despite Matt’s dislike for the Chief he thought he did a nice job summarizing John’s life and contributions. His grief made them uncomfortable.” JOHN LAWSON’S SUNDAY funeral service had full attendance from the Peoria Police Department. Here’s our number if you can think of anything else that might help. Chief Wilson said the eulogy. “We as a police department were fortunate to have had his professional services. Matt was in tears the whole time and everyone could tell even behind his sunglasses. That dash represents the life of Lieutenant John Lawson. it’s called How to Dress for Success. He felt jealous that Wilson was speaking for his closest friend but knew he was incapable of talking to this size crowd on this subject.” Matt thought it was a joke and laughed. He was terrified at the thought and declined for reasons related to his broken nose. the Author unselfish and devoted. Wilson’s eyes were aimed somewhere above and beyond the crowd as if he spoke to an audience in the sky. “Hey.” Matt stood away from the group and tried his best to contain his crying. The tone of his voice spoke with the right mix of friendship and respect toward his subject. whose book is that in the bookshelf? The one by Dale Carnegie. about winning friends and influencing. “Engraved upon John Lawson’s gravestone is the date he was born and the date he died. “Forget clothes partner. Never any marks or bruises. Is it yours or Tiffanies?” “I think we each have a copy. John Lawson brought pride and recognition to the Peoria Police Department. His disheveled appearance was also not endearing. Then he caught on she was serious. “John pioneered an area of forensic science that determines the time of death using fly larvae. you don’t know somebody looking for some company do you? You got any sugar?” Matt tried to be funny. the Courthouse.Matt put out his cigarette. He often joked during his classes that when he died he would have his own corpse tied to the oak tree to be used as a test case for his students to determine the time of death. we need to find you some sensitivity training. did this Billington guy ever hurt Tiffany? Did she ever come home with bruises?” She took a drag. Nothing like your nose. “I just have to know. Everyone personally knew or knew of John Lawson. “Julie.” Matt wondered what John had done to end up with such a horrible death from . He published an awardwinning book on the subject and taught seminars yearly.” As they headed toward the door Matt turned and asked. When his involuntary sobs erupted. Those two dates are separated by a dash. he did his best to camouflage the outbreaks with a coughing sound into a towel. and officers from neighboring Police Departments. The Master Detective. first and foremost.
Either way. left the note in her ball-bag. Matt waved to Sarah and Jerry’s wife on his way over.” Jerry was pulled back to the action of the game and didn’t think before he spoke. Jerry didn’t want Matt to be alone after the funeral and convinced him to join him to watch the women’s softball game. The game turned out to be hardfought.” Jerry peered through the binoculars and whistled. Look who has an interest in softball. Matt couldn’t tell if it was because of his actions the previous day or if she was preoccupied with the warm-up for the game. In the bottom of the third inning Matt noticed some late arrivers in the parking lot.” Matt waved his hand as if to spread a gas around. That food is nasty. Shannon. “The City Building Bandits are playing the Validor Vikings tonight for the season opener. Sarah. Matt figured this would give him a good opportunity to break the chill that flared up after the soccer incident.” Matt scribbled a dinner invitation on a napkin and went over to the dugout to talk to Shannon. I’m gonna pick up something up for the kids to eat. I would give my left nut to have a car like that. It was surprisingly entertaining to Matt. How bout a nice chili dog?” “No thanks.” Matt wasn’t interested in their transportation. He was drained from the day’s activities but still felt an energy surge as he felt his jealousy buttons being pushed. Tony and his brother were headed to the bleachers.such a horrible disease.Softball Game Sunday Evening THE SMELL OF bug spray and hotdogs filled the air. “Hey partner. John did not deserve it. Those baseball pants do have a nice way of displaying the finer attributes of a lady. . “I wonder what they are doing here. Matt put his tail between his legs. Shannon however. Matt was glad Jerry’s daughters were seated elsewhere so they could speak openly. lets get something to eat. “What is it?” “Check it out. let me see those binoculars a second. Keep an eye on all the tight little tushes running around. Sarah smiled and waved back enthusiastically with her withered arm. who was normally not interested in women’s sports. A black Jaguar.” Matt raised his eyebrows as if he was interested in the outcome. Matt wanted to be alone but also wanted to see Shannon. “What I’d like to know is how that Tony-guy is driving a new Jag. and Jerry’s wife played together on the City Hall team. But how did he catch it? How did all the people at Peoria’s hospital catch the disease? How did all the others around the country catch it? Matt didn’t have a clue to the source of the plague. Chapter 14 . His adrenaline spiked as he recognized the two men getting out of a car.” Jerry could see Matt’s attention was not on the game. Jerry was seated alone high at the top of the bleachers with a lap full of food. and went to the stands. “Hey partner. It’s the Two Stooges. And he knew where to find him. Arch rivals. At least Matt knew who was behind the death of Tiffany Cates.” “Suit yourself. “I don’t want to contribute to global warming. As Matt arrived Jerry spoke enthusiastically for the game. evenly matched competition. I’ll meet you in the stands. Jerry sniffed the air and focused on only the smells attached to the food. did not give him the warm reception he had hoped for.
The crowd was tense.. Why did she put herself in these type of situations? In front of all these people. “We are just animals trying to keep the species alive. thought about the woman’s father. The pressure of the opening game and the rivalry was on the line. A very soft third pitch. A slower second pitch . the crowd rose to their feet in a frenzy of excitement.” Matt looked down and wiped imaginary dirt on the bleachers beside him.. Sarah awkwardly dropped the bat with her one arm. Sarah made contact. City up at-bat.” The distance Shannon was putting between them made Matt feel really bad for himself this evening. Jerry doubted the father of the girl would be proud of his daughter displaying her name in skimpy shorts with her ass hanging out. The woman Jerry was commenting on was wearing extremely tight. even though her body is good enough to show it off. The outfit was more like a stripper’s dancing outfit then a baseball uniform. “Her name is ANDERSON. The woman picked it up and jogged to home plate shaking her head with disappointment for Sarah..“Maybe the same thing you are. “Oh damn.” Jerry handed the binoculars to Matt.. The ball dribbled directly back to the pitcher’s feet. Matt wondered to himself. Strike two.. Bases loaded. classic situation.. Matt spoke with binoculars at his eyes. he could see by the spectators it was a tense moment. Game over. even in the heat of the game. down by one run. “She’s already at the bottom of the order. “Ah. She spends that much time with yoga?” Jerry knew what it meant for Shannon to be spending so much time with another man.” Jerry groaned sympathetically.. and took off running determined to beat any throw. Matt reminded to Jerry what he already knew. I didn’t know. Last inning.” The woman’s jersey showed her name printed across the back in capital letters.” Jerry said sympathetically. Shannon wouldn’t have anything to do with a guy like Tony. however.. They have to stick her somewhere. Don’t worry. The crowd roared and Jerry turned his head back to the field.. The game was close and at a pivotal point.” Matt looked back to the game.” Matt said defensively. short pants.. “Whatever. her one arm did not.” He gave a defeated smile to his partner and added. she’ll get tired of it. “That’s all. the amount of cheek visible just doesn’t look right for an athletic contest. Jerry stood and looked to check his daughter’s whereabouts. The pitch. Shannon is waiting on deck at the top of the order. What a bad spot for her in the line-up. Sadly. Come on Sarah. He sat back down after confirming they were safe and out of trouble. Jerry saw a girl on the opposing team standing out because she was wellbuilt and wore her uniform to show it. . As she approached the plate her face looked determined and up to the task. the family man with daughters. And Sarah knew it too. was trying to let Sarah hit the ball. Everyone in the park knew the tight situation of the game. Sarah Rosen...” “Or tired of me first. “Oh. Matt and Jerry also leaped to their feet with hopeful anticipation... It looked like the opposing pitcher..” Turning his focus to the softball game for relief from the self-persecution. “Oh well.” The game was tense. “Will you look at the butt on that one.” Jerry was implying that Shannon was what they had in common. Her frail. And up comes. He suddenly realized his kidding did not have good timing considering the recent cooling-off between Matt and Shannon. . She touched home plate. deformed appendage dangled beneath her short sleeved uniform. “She doesn’t have anything to do with him except yoga three nights a week not including the private sessions. Jerry tried to redirect Matt’s focus. Strike one.. Two outs. He added reassuringly to make amends.” Jerry. “You know Jerry. “Besides.
she sends faxes to the machine at the Police Station stating “Officer Matt Preston is a dead-beat dad”. Now the evil seeds are here. The evil enemy against the mighty United States lives in caves. What kind of name is that anyway? Smallpox is OK. He looked at his upper body and thought about the size and physique of Agent Davis. Matt was exhausted. offers the most benefit. MATT RETURNED HOME to find two blinking messages on his answering machine. Glad to be home. Blink number two was the angelic voice of Shannon. Matt thought of Sarah’s disappointment. Matt drifted off by addressing his insecurities with his standard compensation. Highly likely he thought. Second warning. Matt stepped past the mess and avoided looking at it. But Camelpox? What kind of name is that? It would be comical if it wasn’t so serious. Matt thought I bet she could use a beer. Matt was ready for bed. He studied his reflection staring back. “Poor Sarah.” Matt and Jerry shook their heads and said at the same time. Sarah’s too. Matt works hard at having a muscular physique. but are they here in this small town? Blink number one was ex-wife Marsha reminding Matt a second time that he owes her money for the children’ flu shots. her interest took off like a rocket to mars. But when the replacement turned out to be a slick-talking. Comical in the same way the crazies in Afghanistan were in caves. He knows disappointment too and avoids it. we are used to that name since childhood. Sleeping cells. Matt finds it interesting how much control she exerts on him even with their marriage ended. Marsha epitomizes all that is despicable with women including but not limited to. Did the instructor have anything to do with it? He thought about Tony’s muscles with his shirt off during the soccer last Saturday. She was mildly interested when the teacher was a loose-skinned old lady. He thought about Camels and the spreading Camelpox disease. He peeled off his dirty clothes and threw them in the corner on top of the pile.“Ahhhh. Femme Fatale at her worst. From the color Matt calculated several days before his black eyes would be gone. Her increase in interest coincided with the change in instructor. Sarah. She apologized but had a very important yoga class that conflicted. deceit. He noticed the pack of Camel cigarettes sitting on the table. betrayal. and the need to control. Whenever he is slow with a payment. he thought. Chickenpox. That’s why he always chooses things he was good at. He doesn’t understand why Sarah participates in sports with her handicap? She promotes disappointment. She had called to reject the dinner plans he had tried to set up at the softball game. Matt planned to spend additional time working- . Matt looked at his face with the bandage across his nose. Before Matt fell into a deep sleep he relived all the negativity of the past days all the negative thoughts from Shannon’s rejection and Davis’s disrespect. Matt rubbed he chest to take inventory of the bruise from the gun shot. The purple was turning yellow now and it still hurt. Probably in the large cities. But after the events of the last few days he knows how she feels. What a day. The two of them can sit and talk for hours over what pose. penis envy. Bhujangasan or Surya Namaskar. Jaguar-driving playboy with the puppy-dog eyes. Matt had noticed Shannon had increased her commitment to yoga recently. vanity. What did that guy eat to be so big and cut? Matt was jealous of his black genetics. They seemed to show more definition than other ethnic groups. Despite his large strength and massive upper body development Matt’s Irish body-type doesn’t show the cut as much as he would like. Like the boxing ring.” As the crowd slowly filtered from the stands.
“You just got lucky. “Not this morning pal.out. So this is how the other half live. make ourselves at home. Grandview Drive rose out of the valley to overlook the river and city below.” Spoken with emphasis on the word old.” The sight caused Matt to involuntarily brake and slow the truck’s approach. More time. It is a beautiful day to close this open-and-shut murder case. “Not exactly a double wide. I know the women’s asses in this town. boss. We’ve got some questions for the sugardaddy neighbor. “I smell sour grapes partner. “Sure is. Our bosses’. “What’s the matter partner. Jerry joked as he pointed to the Mayor’s driveway. put our feet up.” As the road leveled at the top of the climb two driveways sat side by side with a spectacular view. Even a blind monkey finds a banana sometimes.” Matt sipped on his coffee.a wide and long pool of the river. the smell of money intimidate you?” . We should go in. That shapely figure in the yoga class led us right to Tiffany Cates’ identification. Mr. huh Matt?” Matt smiled in agreement enjoying Jerry’s enthusiasm. “Look at that castle. when we get there. The bright earth tones were amplified as it shown off the glassy river. “Beautiful morning. “Will you look at those houses. One belonged to Mayor Colletti and the other to Darrel Billington. working harder. bosses’ boss. Jerry broke the silence cheerfully. The city of Peoria developed in the Illinois River valley and was located along the Peoria Lake . CHAPTER 15 – DARREL BILLINGTON Monday Morning MATT MET JERRY downtown at police headquarters to follow-up on the lead of his murder case.” Jerry cautioned. It was flanked on both sides by gardens and plush landscaping. The stonework. “I’ll bet a week’s pay none of the owners do their own yard work. You know Billington is the Editor of the newspaper and the best friend of the Mayor. I mean how many leopard-pattern dance clothes can there be in Peoria?” Matt knew Jerry was right but he also felt confident that the lead they were pursuing would pay off. Jerry’s head bobbed back and forth as he marveled at the multimillion-dollar stone mansions and meticulous landscaping. “let’s be nice. anybody would remember an outfit like that.” Matt provoked. Hell. Some of these guys might have worked for their money. bosses’. Jerry whistled again. heavier weights.” Jerry responded to the cockiness. A short distance out of town Matt turned away from the river onto Grandview Drive. His truck growled as it climbed in elevation through the plush landscaped stone entrance.” Matt turned into the other driveway through the open gate. “Let’s drop in and have breakfast with our bosses’.” Matt joked. This is old money. This morning the lake lay calm and reflective. I gotta remind you. “I have an eye for those clues. Darrel Billington. huh partner?” “Hey. As the trees ended a limestone mansion came into view. Jerry whistled.” The driveway curved through a gauntlet of seventy-year old blue spruces. The view made the real-estate a premium where only the extremely wealthy lived. The brightly colored morning sky was a spotted mixture of burgundy and magenta.
” Jerry thought about the sensitivity of their questions and suggested.” Billington interrupted with short arrogant bark. I picked up Tiffany Cates last Saturday morning. Louis to my private cabin on Wappapello Lake in Mark Twin National Forest. So he spoke quickly to soften the abruptness of his partner. Matt showed his identification photo and badge.“I just know you have a chip on your shoulder toward Colletti and his cronies. He had white hair. cut in a flattop – military style. The man was wearing dirty clothes. “Perhaps out here in the front yard. She said she was going to take a shower and go to her yoga class at the YMCA. Are you getting this Preston? You should be writing this down. Let me save you some time. You should check with the instructor there. At the rear was a two-story high wall of glass that displayed a stunning view of the river below. You must be Peoria’s finest. When he killed the engine the manicured surroundings were quiet and peaceful.. My sources tell me why you are here. I dropped her at her dorm. Billington smiled and snapped his fingers at Jerry. He wiped his finger across the dirt on Matt’s truck as he passed shaking his head sideways to convey disgust. We have unfortunate news of . Let’s treat Billington the same as anybody else when we talk to him. gray eyebrows jerked upward from the unexpected greeting. She seemed to really enjoy .” Matt sensed a cocky defiance in his voice. “Who is it dear?” Billington shouted politely over his shoulder. His hands and arms were smudged with dirt and sweat as if he had just been digging. You know… equally rude. I am the news. “May we have a word with you in private? Jerry directed his arm to the open door. As the door swung wider the officers peered into the entranceway where it opened into a cavernous room. Then he slowly looked across to Jerry and puffed on his cigar stub. A lady’s elderly voice was heard at a far distance from inside the house. “I am Darrel Billington.” The man at the door squinted his eyes at Matt and wrinkled his upper lip as if he had just smelled something foul. Are you him?” The elderly man’s long. “I’m looking for Billington. Billington noticed Matt needed a shave and a haircut. “Ha! YOU have news. He stepped forward and looked up at Matt’s face and then over to his bandaged nose.” Jerry stepped out from behind Matt with his pad in-hand writing feverishly. The silence was broken as he clacked loudly using the round brass knocker on the double-wide oak door. Matt began coldly. Matt snickered at the sarcasm as he pulled the truck under the thick ivy-covered entrance at the front door.. “Ah… good man. “It’s for me honey. “I am Lieutenant Preston and this is my partner Officer Geraldi. The remains of a cigar protruded from one side of his mouth. you’re hired. Matt judged him to be in his early sixty’s and although no physical threat he appeared fit for his age. “Ah yes… We had to be back for her Thursday morning exam in Psychology 101.” Jerry would later regret his joke. He looked back at Matt and exhaled in his direction. Matt looked down at the man and asked in an aggressive tone.” The man followed Jerry’s gesture and looked up smiling at the morning sky still burning colorfully. “What is the purpose of your visit here gentlemen? I am busy pruning my backyard. “We … we would like to speak with him if we may.” spoken mockingly. The door swung open quickly and startled the pair. Gentlemen. A small man carrying hedge-clippers appeared.” Then he turned his head sideways and looked up reflecting. We left the park Wednesday morning and got back around 4:30 pm. I’ve got it. You can report to my paper tomorrow. I have a special arrangement with the Missouri State Forestry Service for a cabin. Jerry knew Matt’s antagonistic tone was not appropriate at someone’s front door. We drove down Interstate 55 through St.
We saw what you did to her… you are a sick bastard. she was extremely supple and toned. your little cup of coffee died right in the middle of your cottage vacation with her. “Get out of here. “Take a look at this. “Well. “Just what are you saying Preston?” Not wanting to acknowledge the man’s heated response Matt responded cocky and self assured. I’ll give him one thing though. He was with her at the time of death.” Matt understood the insult. In a way.” Billington pushed it away defiantly and screamed. Then he looked over at Matt adding. Drive. “Come on. even owning the newspaper can’t change the facts of how we found your sweet Tiffany. the judges. let’s go. I liked his spirit. Your ass is grass and Chief Wilson is the lawnmower if we find Billington didn’t do it. Billington’s face changed to anger and he spoke loud with a yellowtoothed sneer. according to the Medical Examiner’s time of death. I do hope you fine the perp. Gentlemen. well. And I’m gonna take him down. Jerry sensed the conversation turning confrontational. End of story. Case solved. Back with a search warrant and to arrest your ass. small and scrappy. “Unprofessional? Jerry that guy is a murderer. let me tell you something.” “Gentlemen. Why did you provoke him like that?” “Looking for clues.E. Matt defended himself. Matt pointed down over Jerry at Billington. He is connected in this town with the Mayor. She wasn’t so supple and toned after you got done with her. Man.’s reported time of death? The body shows Tiffany’s death occurred a week ago last Sunday or Monday. you fucking Neanderthal! One phone call and you are history.” Back in the truck Jerry told Matt he was embarrassed by his unprofessional behavior. I got rude back there to fluster him and trip up his lies. “Yeah. . This is so very tragic.” Darrel Billington released the clippers and shook his head in disbelief at his actions. “I’m saying. The guy is dirty.his class. He just confessed. report better be right. my time with you is over. not to mention all the reporters and everything that is printed. Jerry saw it coming and was quick to act. Matt was surprised that despite the age and size difference Billington responded by moving toward him aggressively with the hedge-clippers. What did you do.” “Look. He grabbed the raised clippers and inserted himself between the two. “Come on Darrel.” Billington had been talking to Jerry as he took notes.” Matt moved over to Billington and shoved the post-mortem photograph of Tiffany in his face. “That’s why I’m surprised you are here. You just told us she was with you from Saturday until Wednesday.” “Let me get the scoop from you here Darrel. He’s lying. the information is incorrect. City Council. “Come on partner…back up. Let’s use some of those dispute-resolution techniques we learned… lighten up. you better be right. you need to decaffeinate. the M.” Billington clenched down hard on his cigar stub.E. one phone call and we’ll be back.” “Matt. use those clippers on Tiffany?” Jerry pushed Matt’s waist toward the truck. And I didn’t even have to write it down. I mean. He is like Sarah.” Matt threw his hands up in disbelief. “You hope we find the perp? Well Darrel.” Matt used the first name in a mocking tone. I think we just did. How do you respond to the M. I have asked the Mayor to put his best resources on it. Period. That girl was the coffee of my morning. he is scrappy.” Matt took a step toward Billington. You just better be right. Did you see him come at me with those clippers?” Matt smiled in delight. what kind of alibi is that? How can you dispute a doctor’s report on the body?” “I don’t care if he is the surgeon general. he is wrong.
” “It all pays the same. yup…that feller’s supposed to learn me how to talk ta them thar towel heads. Seriously. you are twisted. And don’t eat any brains while you are there. I’ll never understand your enjoyment of confrontation. “That’s exgirlfriend now. “Do me a favor.” “Yeah OK. there’s a stack of questionnaires on my desk from Davis. You love it. Old food wrappers and assorted litter decorated the interior of his truck. I get to spend time with your delightful girlfriend. I’ve got to go pick up another Fed. “I’m headed for the airport. and he had to go . Oh.” Jerry didn’t laugh. And besides. remember?” Jerry smiled and yelled as Matt drove away. “And don’t forget. Please interview both the dying and their relatives. The board showed the flight had already arrived at Gate 12. He could see Billington’s finger smear of the thick dirt on the hood. He had a passing thought to clean it up but then remembered Davis’s foreshadowing of what a prick Agent Mattocks was going to be. thanks for doing the grunt-work.” Matt pretended a strong southern accent. Why bother? Who am I trying to impress? Matt checked his watch as he pulled into the entrance of the airport’s short term parking. It’s got the list of questions you are supposed to check on at the hospital. See what he thinks. it’s really not a desk… it’s a card table!” Chapter–16 THE ARRIVAL Monday Mid-day AS MATT DROVE to the airport to meet Agent Mattocks he noticed the sour smell in his truck. he was surprised to find it on time. I’m glad to help. Scanning the arrivals-board. I’ll ask him about it. Get this Fed’s opinion on the Billington evidence before you go after a warrant. He was to meet Mattocks at baggage-claim for Flight 762 from Washington arriving at 12:10. “Yup.“Matt.” Matt shook his head.” Matt dropped Jerry off at the station.
Leaving on a flight out at 8:20pm. He looked down to her chest and smirked. She had the fullest head of hair Matt had ever seen. exercise and all. You had a fifty-fifty chance on the gender and you missed it. He saw the littered condition of the truck and wished he had cleaned it. she was wearing one. She broke the tension of the silence by pointing out she was new to her job too. Do you show that passenger on your flight register?” The woman’s sultry voice spoke out playfully. Matt hoped to show wit and charm by offering some humor. Matt found the baggage-claim area empty except for an attractive flight attendant. Matt wouldn’t let himself stare but in the detective-like inquisitiveness of his profession he glanced to confirm whether or not she had a bra on.. So what if Mattocks had to wait a few minutes. the FBI is over loaded with interviewing requirements. “With these poisonings. “Let me help you with your bags. Her outfit was definitely not standard FBI issue and neither was she. Putting on his best cock-walk Matt strutted up to the lady to ask about the flight.” Agent Mattocks peeled of her suit coat and handed it to Matt.” She stopped mid-sentence as she looked down to her breasts and realized the context of the remark. he noticed an uncharacteristically firm handshake for a woman. “Preston.” As they began to walk Matt offered. Victoria Secret’s Heavenly. I’m warm from the. Federal Bureau of Investigation. “A bit nippy huh?” Confused. Let’s start again. Follow me to my truck and teach me about interviewing Muslims. He found himself looking at a pair of pert nipples pointing at him from beneath her silk blouse.” “Hey lighten up lady. They graduated me early so I could help. she started to clarify. He visualized he was meeting a barrel-chested bald man with a bearded red face. It was auburn in color with blonde highlights the way Matt liked.. Matt enjoyed the smell of her jacket. “Mister. Matt opened the passenger door for his new companion and loaded her bags. He noticed. I will let you carry my jacket. The fullness and color framed her head like a lion’s mane. Matt Preston pleased to make your acquaintance. I hope your homicide conclusions are a little more accurate. are there any remaining passengers from the flight? I am meeting a Mr. Next on the list of features Matt noticed was her long legs. I do not appreciate you commenting on my anatomy. I prefer to do it myself. Can you take me back to the airport?” Matt calculated her trip would involve two nights. I’m Terry Mattocks. you chose the blouse. “How long are you here for?” “Until Wednesday. and nicely displayed in her short-length navy skirt and matching suit. welcome to Peoria. Mattocks. “Excuse me Miss. Then the upside of the situation began to surface –here was an extremely attractive young lady that he was going to be spending the next few days with… and in the name of duty. Lean and shapely.to far end of the terminal for baggage-claim.” “No thanks. Matt did the math and figured he would be late. He tried not to display any emotion that he had fallen for Davis’s setup.” The joke did not have the effect Matt had hoped for and the two walked to his truck in silence. . “No actually. “Davis mentioned you were pretty green. A kind of a work study program. Terry Mattocks was six-foot tall and in heels only a few inches shorter than Matt. Then she took a deep breath and in her practiced monotone voice said. Matt was flustered.” She extended her hand. After noticing her height Matt was drawn to her hair.” As he shook her hand. She was the only bright spot he could remember since he had been promoted to his new position. consistent with the rest of the professional attire. Mattocks? Welsh descent he figured.
” She finished a smile and turned serious. The froofy hair. If they are ugly they got it bad.. People out of shape and involved in vain pursuits like make-up were on the top of his list to become buzzard meat. That’s a lot of people. He wanted to hear her voice again. where do we start?” “You mean interviewing stuff?” “Yeah.” Matt remembered what Sarah had told him about the culture of the Muslin faith and could see how communications could be strained. we have about a 30 minute ride. “Even though the information asked in the interviews is not in-depth.” “Well. He made sure she did not catch him looking at her legs. long finger-nails. makeup. and the hair. Hey. so I don’t offend you further. all of the FBI’s resources have been taken up by the interviews. She twisted in Matt’s direction and stretched over to reach into the back seat. If the meat section in the grocery store ceased to exist.” Terry wiggled her bottom from side to side as she pulled her skirt down so her legs would be covered to the fullest extent. these bags are heavy. Sure thing. Now I play it up. self-sufficient. So screw ‘em. Wow. But I like being a girl. so why should I adjust my style for other people.“Airport day after tomorrow. some lecher? Matt put on his shades and started the engine. Athletic. I am in a male dominated field where I am judged for what I look like rather than what I do. the occupation of Iraqi. She looked more like a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader than an FBI agent. physically trained. “The reason I ask is…you play up your feminine ‘card’… your attractiveness. Glad to have his sunglasses. As . the Attorney General asked over 5000 Arabs to come in for a chat. many unable to speak comfortable English. since you asked. In a survival situation he would probably be asking her for food. I’m out to prove I don’t need you to carry my bags. you really are a detective. With the large numbers of people involved. Who was her boss. I could start at the top. “Well. and short skirt made it even more obvious.” Between traffic obligations. You should have let me carry your stuff. I’m just trying to understand. no makeup. Now he found himself sizing-up Agent Mattocks’ survival traits. He appreciated Shannon’s health and survival abilities. Matt understood the modesty of her body language. He pretended to adjust the rearview mirror but was really just checking himself out. “OK. and yet you got a chip on your shoulder when it is noticed. Matt always estimated who would survive being stranded on a desert island and who would not. Matt didn’t think Terry had found the balance quite yet. “Because of 9-11. The Justice Department is talking to people ages 18 to 33 from the Arab-American and Islamic communities. Matt glanced over at her as she talked. He was very preoccupied with his passenger. My boss helped me a lot to find the balance. Matt was eager for deeper conversation and charged ahead. The thrust is directed toward people that came here on visas since 2000. he glanced over. Why do you ask?” Matt noticed Terry had many high maintenance features. In the back of his mind. So now the Department of Homeland Security enlists the help of local law enforcement. And if they are good looking they got it bad too. women seem to have a down side to their looks either way. and detailed make-up that involved a lot of preparation.” Matt was glad he was born male. The makeup nails and hair just didn’t fit. and now the start of this plague. Great body. Agent Terry Mattocks. When it comes to careers.. Are you sure you aren’t out to prove something?” “Yeah.” “You noticed that. At one point I dressed butch. If we are going to spend a few days together. if it is not handled properly it can lead to complications. who would live and who would perish. She was extremely attractive. It was to avoid the gender thing. He wondered if she could see the direction of his eyes under the glasses. I covered up with baggy clothes.
you don’t miss a thing.” Trained in observation. Gorgeous hair. “Boy. . He cleared his throat and said. sons. and their reaction to terrorism. Terry noticed working office supplies and notes spread out. He figured she would notice if he got and erection so he changed his thoughts to his driving. While entering the station.” Matt leaned back and pointed to the phone. Dressed like that. There was nothing overt like a whistle.” “The trouble comes from the others who don’t know what is said during the questioning. He wondered if she had checked him out the same way he had looked at her. yes. The man looked over at Matt and smiled a mouthful of gums. The bright sun shined into the truck cab showing her flawless complexion.” She smiled and blew the old man a kiss.. After the questioning innocent people are beaten and sometimes killed to disclose what they have said.” Matt said with a wink. You know. Matt pointed to the door as he sat down at his desk. “Here is the restroom if you need it. Let’s go to your office.” Matt opened his arms. interviewees are only asked to give employment. Was she this way with all guys or did they connect in some special way? “I have been trained to be observant. but Matt was getting thumbs up and winks as he made his way to his work area. Preston. Matt could see Terry’s nostrils flare as she caught an organic whiff of his dinner from the night before. Most people remember the interrogation techniques of the countries they came from. Also. She bit her lip trying not to laugh. She looked over at the old man and said “Keep your eyes on the road Mr. This caught the attention of an elderly man driving in the next lane. Terry continued to explain.” Matt said smiling. brothers.” “What are you going to do. by the embarrassing tone of Matt’s voice she deduced he was serious. please. He remembered what she said about observations. Some Muslim radicals tell us a lot. We figure anyone connected to that guy is dangerous too. A toilet was heard flushing. cousins. And she was probably used to it.. “Let’s get started on that list. Not very friendly by our standards. sit here and wait for me. “Well.. have a seat. palms up.” She said as she swung back around. Matt was glad she was amused. phone numbers. I’m OK. He noticed she was picking up a large amount of attention from his co-workers. They go into some kind of prayer trance and tell us all kinds of things about how they feel and how Allah will do this and that. Almost a confession. Seconds later the men’s room door flung open and Chief Wilson stepped out tucking in his shirt. He noticed how easy she was to talk to. He imagined the erotic vision of her long legs and thin waist with her clothes removed.” Have we ever gotten anything valuable from talking to the people on the list?” “Surprisingly. I am told it is assumed that the people interviewed spill their guts. “Go on. thanks. it comes with the territory.” “OK. “I’m told that I’m lucky because it has a fax line and I’m close to the water fountain. The past prisoner abuse by guards at Abu Ghraib doesn’t help dispel fears either.she dug into her bags on the rear seat her ass was pointed toward the front window. This girl should be in movies.” ON THE RIDE to the police station. He imagined she noticed the attention too. showing a genuine enthusiasm to help. Matt walked behind her. their travel history. She now had a pair of sunglasses on that combined with her large head of highlighted hair made a fashion statement. Matt thought. .
” Terry began squeezing her fingers tightly into two fists. It has a fax machine . “Eradicate FGM? What is that?” Shaking her head sadly. wiped with a napkin. the drinking fountain is close by. Standing back up she looked down to the top of his head. They portray FGM as an obligation for Muslim purification. When they completed making the appointments for the next day. Matt had no objections on both counts. and besides. The introduction was interrupted by an Officer on his way to the restroom. this will be fine. We will afford you any comfort you like. Even before I graduated. Despite the sexual tension. may I introduce Terry Mattocks from the FBI. Throughout the afternoon. he found it comfortable working with her. I would think you could get some better arrangements for Mr. The continuous eye contact was calming. almost intoxicating to Matt. Agent Mattocks. She couldn’t hold back the humor of the situation any longer.” “Oh no. Matt saw this as a green light to ask if she wanted to meet for a drink. “Excuse me . It’s a branch of UNICEF that promotes Women’s Human Rights. He thought about some of what Sarah had told him on the subject. rooted in the long-standing cultural values of Islamic tradition.” He wondered how much she knew about the murder case he was working on. After September 11. After a silence as if collecting her thoughts she responded.” Matt slugged on his beer.” Ignoring the comment. A few beers with this subject and I will be pounding of tables.. my boss Chief Wilson.. But in a different context.” as he shuffled past sideways. I was involved in the project to eradicate FGM and came into contact with a lot of Muslims. She accepted under the condition that she be allowed to smoke and speak freely. It supposedly raises a girl’s value and her ability to be married.” The remainder of the day Matt and Terry sat at the card-table in two metal folding chairs setting up appointments for the people on the list provided by the INS. With the ice broken she allowed him to help with her luggage. Then she pounded one fist into an open hand as she finished. She shook her head and laughed.. “It stands for Female Genital Mutilation. Matt offered her a ride back to her hotel. “God Chief. She changed into jeans and silk blouse and they headed to the bar adjacent to the hotel. Nowhere do the teachings of Allah tell you to cut a young girl’s clitoris to make them more worthy to marry.” She took a long drink. Religion is used to justify the practice in certain Islamic countries. You’ve never heard of it?” Matt mis-swallowed his beer and began coughing. “I volunteered in college for an organization named UNIFEM.” She bent down to his level and shook hands.” Matt smiled and said “Hey Chief. “Don’t get me started. I didn’t put her up to saying that. He wiped the spillover from his mouth with his sleeve. Or you could share an office with Agent Davis. He shrugged his shoulders and pulled it away from his mouth. Chief Wilson cleared his throat and said “Please come into my office. every time an officer would pass in and out of the restroom she would look at Matt and smile or wink. “Yeah. Sucking on the long-neck bottle he asked “So what’s a nice girl like you doing with a job like this? No really tell me about how you got the job. It is a horrible custom.. excuse me. It is pretty complex. thank you.“Chief Wilson. but that is horse-shit. Preston’s activities. “As you like. kinda. I’ll only be here until day after tomorrow. it sent me to the forefront of Arab intelligence.” Wilson smiled sincerely unable to hide that he liked what he had just heard. Matt twisted off the two beers and poured one in a glass for Terry. It is most often carried out by women. It is best explained as a rite of passage into womanhood. when the Bureau did a background check on my experience with that culture. Man is behind this twisted tradition for man’s own purposes. .
Her blouse was opened one more button than before she left and he could see her breasts rounding out of her black-laced bra. She could look him right in the eye.” “Ted. and then he possibility of having sex with Terry. She leaned over and removed her cell-phone from her bag and Matt found himself looking down her shirt. “Four more please.. licked her lips and fluffed her hair up fuller with her hand. You know Davis?” Matt said shaking his head in understanding. Don’t worry.” She winked and lit another cigarette as Matt drove off. “It’s my boss. He wondered what it would be like to make love to a girl the size of Terry. and smelled.” she yelled across the room.” She said in her low. . Besides Ted is a sweetie. He would bring it up tomorrow during their day of talking to “Friends of Allah”. “Waitress. “Where did that come from?” Matt asked surprised. As she returned and sat down he looked at her beautiful eyes full of youth. stood almost as tall as himself. That guy probably raises the amount of alcohol consumed where ever he goes. sultry and slightly slurred voice. They were tastefully accented with makeup and her perfume filled his nose.” Matt could see any chance of them having sex flying away by talking about this subject. “I gotta see what he needs. And she could fill his arms very nicely he thought. Davis planted the doubt as to whether you are competent to grasp the complex issues presented to you. She was physically the opposite of Shannon and he liked what he saw .” “You too. she looked good in jeans. You know. Just as they were finishing the laugh Terry’s cellphone went off. Matt. he comes on really strong and abrasive but underneath he is really a teddybear. isn’t it?” Matt asked as he checked out her ass swinging out of the booth.” Matt wondered about her relationship with her boss. Then he thought about Shannon. “Oh that fucker Davis always puts me in the mood for sedation.” “Ted is not a prick… Well. Terry looked at him. “My drinking tripled after he arrived. Because of the size difference. the illuminated numbers told her something to make her start to move. I have seen him rip people apart that don’t follow his protocol.” Matt wanted to bring up FGM again but didn’t want to get Terry all worked-up again. The thought of it was not really appealing to him either. Matt motioned the waitress for two more beers. huh. Looking down.” “It’s awful late for work. “That was Ted. All I need is some Federal prick coming to check on my learning skills..” He waved. Matt was feeling his beers. I’m going to call from the bathroom where I can hear. Terry shook her hair back in place. “See ya tomorrow cowboy.” “What do you mean? That you won’t teach me correctly. Matt drove Terry to her hotel. Then he thought about her ass again. two more beers please. Damn.“I told you I get all worked up. We’ll just have to show him you are a fast learner with a great teacher. “It’s not late for the Bureau.” They both had well deserved laugh at his expense. “That bastard Davis reported that my flow of information to you should be followed-up on. My boss Ted Armbruster is coming here the day after tomorrow to review the material exchanged. I’ll be right back. yeah his is. He can be.” “Not exactly. This is the guy that helped her with gender issues and she calls him sweetie.” she said enthusiastically. Matt was always worried about hurting Shannon. Eight and don’t be late.” “Maybe he is to you. Terry however. checked.
The others want to come to headquarters. Matt didn’t see much point in the exchanges.” Turning to the covered lady he could see the sparkle of a smile from only her eyes. You never told me how it happened.Matt was wondering if Terry had overslept. 8:05am .” “I didn’t expect a Halloween costume. I was getting used to it. What’s the first address?” “I’ve got the list marked. Terry read the morning newspaper while they drove. The headlines of the Peoria Press read.” “You FBI agents really are good in observation. “This attire helps in the communication when we meet elders and other women. Matt figured it was someone associated with their interview. Matt admitted that the outfit resulted in a more focused day.” “By the way I’m not wearing any panties underneath. “Terry.” Matt put 50 cents in the newspaper box and removed a newspaper. visible only at the eyes. DEATH -TOLL REACHES 1800 FROM PLAGUE ACROSS AMERICA. He was with her for hours and did not even get a peek at anything physical about her. Just as he was reaching for the door he heard a sultry voice muffled by a scarf. CHAPTER 17-INTERVIEWS Tuesday Morning The next morning Matt was at the front lobby entrance promptly at 7:55am. “Detective. what are you doing?” “I’m waiting for you. I’ll keep that in mind throughout the day. All he could see waiting at the entrance was a lady wrapped in standard Arab garb.Matt thought to give her more time but decided to check at the desk. 8:00am .Surpasses N1H1 flu.” The pair spent the day going from address to address asking the same questions. we’ve got a full day ahead of us. eye makeup. and perfume were missing. Doesn’t that ruin the whole effect of hiding in that sheet?” Only her hands and eyes were visible with her garb. Terry joked to Matt that he was a celebrity and read the article to him. Let’s change the subject. I am dying for a cigarette. The headlines also lashed out at ACTING-LT. It had been a late night and jetlag.” “It seems you need a lesson in Muslim attire. PRESTON FALSELY ACCUSES EDITOR DARREL BILLINGTON. . It was almost like when he was with Jerry. You’ve been staring at me for ten minutes. It looked so sexy. Her nail color. it appears you are neither prompt nor observant. About 30% want us to go to them. He scanned the headlines as they walked. Matt recognized the eyes. Still. “Thanks Terry. He was also disappointed with Terry’s choice of clothes.” Matt could see the eyes sparkle again. He shut his truck off and walked to the entrance. “How’s the nose Detective? I noticed you took off the bandage.
A unique combination of odors to Matt. An unshaven middle-aged man sat at the kitchen table. Hooters. The girl looked to be eight years old. The door was answered by a pair of eyes of an old lady dressed in the same clothing and head-scarf as Terry. Terry spoke. Terry looked up from the paper to find herself in the oldest part of town. Many also owned pet birds kept in cages. “It seems your town is all upset about having a Hooters Restaurant located in the renovated downtown Waterfront Park.” As they approached the stairway Matt noticed they were being watched by a group of twenty men in the court-yard. “It is no wonder the rest of the world hates us Americans.” Matt stopped at the next address on the list. Darrel Billington provided a Food-Mart video tape of the murder victim buying cigarettes on Wednesday. up there. “Is Mr.“Evidence was made available to Police Chief Wilson vindicating the falsely accused owner and editor of Peoria’s newspaper. “There’s the place according to my key-map. “Come in. His eyes were deep-set. He does not speak English.” The lady disappeared around the corner away from Matt and Terry’s view. The moral majority thinks it will compromise the family image of the area. He caught the sarcasm and liked her sense of humor. It was bizarre that in the middle of a national crisis. the United States has ink and time to print about Lady Gaga. This is Hamid you wish to talk to. the plague. slumped over with a defeated look. Matt thought about his son’s comment. The eyes combined with a beak shaped hooknose gave him the appearance of the exotic . The article is sandwiched between the Plague Death Toll and an article about Lady Gaga’s bra size. Terry laughed and joked with Matt about the sorry state of affairs in Peoria. “Public humiliation and I are old friends.” Her tone was of combination of remorse and respect. The windows of apartment 212 had no coverings and Matt freely looked into the apartment. “Looks like the inside of your truck. Hamid al-Harbi at home? We represent the Homeland Security Department of the United States. All of the addresses they visited had a strong smell of oily cooking and tobacco.” Matt sighed.” Terry joked. muffled through the cloth. and swollen with huge bags beneath.” Next to it in equal print size was a front-page article about the HOOTERS CHAIN SUES FOR WATERFRONT LOCATION. It’s my biggest fear and now it is front-page news. alHarbi. As the door opened Matt could smell the room inside. This was three days after the reported time of death determined by the City’s Medical Examiner.” “False accusations. dark. The girl looked down at the floor unable to make eye contact in what appeared as trained subservience. He wondered if Terry was attracting the attention or if it was him… or both.” she smiled brightly. “You live around here cowboy?” Matt gathered up the recording equipment smiling at her barb. Matt was pointing to a dilapidated apartment complex. The beautiful weather had little effect on the feel of the area.” he pointed. Remember we are going to be audited by your boss. She returned with a young girl around Kelly’s size. There were no women among the group. “Please sit at our table. The ages ranged from ages eight to sixty. We have a three o’clock appointment with Mr. He thought about how they must look as a pair and figured their size would cause them to stand out even in New Orleans during martigras. The lady is his mother. “Hamid al- Harbi.” After a long delay the girl spoke. Let’s be serious. She did not look up from the floor. Boarded windows and years of litter displayed a general apathy of the occupants. Matt grinned back. I’ll carry the stuff. Apartment 212. bra sizes… all front-page news here in Peoria.
He exhaled and coughed deeply as Matt and Terry entered the room. and coughed out some words to his niece. The man had a large pile of cigarette butts the size of an overturned cereal bowl in front of him.” The girl began crying and asked her uncle a question in the foreign tongue. And ask him his reaction to terrorism against the United States. So is my uncle. As Matt and Terry tried politely to gain the man’s attention they were startled by a loud. Matt and Terry looked at each other and nodded in agreement they would go. The girl translated his silence. She bent down very close to the man’s face and her eyes met his. The man’s eyes began to bulge as he put his head down on the table. The girl clarified the sounds. Matt thought of his daughter Kelly. Then he exhaled a deep cough of smoke.birds they had been seeing throughout the day. She was the same age as Nadeen. haven’t a clue. The man continued to smoke. The man began chanting. He also asked that they leave quickly. “Everything? Punished? By who?” The girl finally looked up from the floor revealing large beautiful brown eyes pooled with tears. The man continued to stare ahead into space unphased by the woman’s outbreak. The man began to make noises again that were halfway between spoken words and a cough.” “Please ask your uncle for his travel history since 1980 and his purpose here. “She is frightened. Her reality had been scarred by the past of the adults around her. Matt whispered.” The young girl spoke dutifully to the man in what appeared to be the request from Terry. long bark from behind them.” She answered.” After about 20 seconds the man lifted his head.” “He did not answer. ask him. Matt placed the notebooks and tape recorder on the table in front of the man.” she said. What is your name?” “My name is Nadeen. We appreciate your help. Matt felt like the grim reaper as he walked in. “Rival tribes. The two girls were living in the same city. He was smiling as if he had resolved something when his head was down. Nadeen’s world did not involve Lady Ga Ga.” Through the scarf Matt saw a wrinkle in Terry’s eyebrows. looking forward not saying a word. al-Harbi. do you know of any terrorist activities. “We only want to ask a few easy questions. As they were leaving Terry changed direction and walked to the table. Through the muffle of the vale she forcefully asked the man a direct question as if the girl was not needed. Matt looked at Terry as if to say “what the hell is going on?” Her eyes looked back with a quick lift of the eyebrows and shrug of her shoulders conveying a look of “Beats me. “The questions and your presence here threatens his health. She had been forced to grow-up fast and unsheltered. They turned just in time to see the old lady leave the room with a wailing cry. “I think his smoking is a little more threatening to his health than us”. The girl translated that he requested for them to come back in one week and he would have his responses to the information requested. Matt could sense a nervous fear coming from the man. Repeating .” Without allowing time for the man to reply Nadeen answered “He does not. All he needed was a black hooded robe and sickle to make the scene complete. “He says it doesn’t matter what he answers he will be punished as if he had told you everything. At the same age she seemed ten years older than Kelly.” The man made several short grunting noises that sounded like they could be words. lit a cigarette. “Mr. Your English is very good. He continued to look at the wall and did not turn to face them as would be expected for visitors. He could see concern in her reaction as she asked. took a long hard drag. “Is she ok?” Terry asked the child. but their lives were worlds apart.
Matt picked up the recorder and peered through the window. The translation made it sound like a confession.” Naheed could not disguise her disappointment as she told her uncle what was said. “Absolutely. He asked Terry if they should be reading this man his rights. The view from the door at the top of the steps looked out over a mob of Middle Eastern men sitting in the courtyard below. The sparkle in her eyes was now accompanied with an ear-to-ear smile. Could they have heard the discussion inside? He knew they heard the old lady’s wail. thank you..” Matt recognized one word the man spoke. not facing Mecca. Hasten to success! . Matt did not like the sinister look of the crowd. Even through a flem filled cough Matt picked out the word “Validor” and spoke it to Terry. and was still smoking. She began to cry softly. Are you ready to call it a day?” Terry removed the vale with excitement..Permission to take up arms is hereby given to those who are attacked.” . we will leave now. He asked that you leave quickly so that he may begin mullah. We saved the best for last. Great day partner. Fatwa. Armbruster will be proud.. drive them out from our lands. He led Terry around the perimeter of the courtyard to his truck rather than through the gauntlet of foreigners.. “He is saying ‘kill the aggressors where ever you find them.the same words over and over.. Validor will prevail’.came from a back room. Matt looked over at Terry and started the engine. As he descended the steps Matt fanned his back muscles open to make himself look larger. Matt knew enough to know “Validor” is not a subject of Islamic prayer. He scanned his truck for tampering for a full three minutes before he unlocked it for Terry. At that moment a loud wail. He pushed through the door ahead of Terry..” Terry was familiar with the prayer process and doubted the girl’s story since alHarbid was not prostrated on a prayer rug. She quickly clarified “My uncle is only reciting passages from the Koran.that could have passed as a pterodactyl mating call. As they were leaving all eyes looked up at the doorway. Please tell your uncle we will set up another appointment to meet with our own interpreter. Nadeen tried to translate over his loud guttural chanting.. “That was weird.. Matt couldn’t believe what he was hearing. It is our Bible. Nadeen heard Matt say Validor and stopped translating. Let’s get this tape sent off to The Bureau for their review. Terry stated firmly as if not fooled by the comment “Yes. This is our time of daily prayer.Allah has the power to grant us victory.
First Billington offers that the yoga class was the last time anyone sees Tiffany. you know it’s not against the law to be ugly..” A cold-front had moved into the central Illinois area and the morning air was crisp. He listened to a Led Zeppelin cassette banging on the steering wheel as he drove. “She has paper work this morning.” He said without a smile. the Tiger. Matt continued to explain his reasons for the visit as if the trip needed further justification. I’m reading the paper. Still. Agent Mattocks to you. Yeah. And then some guy starts raving about Validor in his Islamic confession chant. Matt Preston. “No.” “Good morning to you too. Jerry threatened to hide it just to see Matt’s withdrawals to some other music besides his one tape. Chapter – 18 VALIDOR VISIT Wednesday morning THE NEXT MORNING Matt greeted Jerry at the police headquarters with “I have a hunch. but twice during my investigations I get pointed towards the guy. He works as a chemist at Validor’s Manufacturing Plant. Matt wore his long outdated leather coat with fringe on the sleeves. I didn’t catch your name the other day. . We can’t do anything to you.” “It’s OK partner.” When Matt wasn’t harmonizing with Robert Plant’s vocals. I think the yoga master owes us a few answers. 4450 Charter Avenue. I got his background including his work address. he rambled on about how wonderful Agent Mattocks had been to work with. No arrest record. Tony. Tony Mossimo came to the US around five years ago and not from Italy. Jerry was grateful the singing was over when they arrived at Validor Tony’s work address. I asked Naomi to run the license from his Jag. “Excuse me? Oh . His papers are from India. Matt recognized a familiar face and pointed to a man sitting in the lobby.” Jerry pointed with his thumb toward Davis’s office. As they walked to the entrance Jerry admired the black Jaguar parked with an engraved sign reading Reserved for Dr. where’s your lady helper? Did she leave?” “The lady help is Miss Terry Mattocks. You’re the Detective. “Hey mister. She stayed at her hotel to work from her room instead of my card table.” Matt extended his arm and flashed his badge. The tape was a permanent fixture in the truck’s dash. Why do you ask?” “May I see some ID and immigration papers?” Matt studied them. Records show Mr. “Not once. Hey. “What are you doing here?” “I am going to take his car to get the oil changed. The other mister wonderful. Validor’s visitor entrance was a modern black-granite and glass building with a large reception area. Terry to me.” Matt did his best chest-out cock walk as he strutted over to Tony’s brother sitting on the couch.” “Preston. “Will you look there Jerry. I can’t imagine why. I saw him down the hall. whatever you want to do. not the Suit. We need to pay mister wonderful a visit.” Matt smiled and looked over to Jerry.. Massimo.
The whole floor was pungent with the aromas of delicate perfumes. by the way how is the nose Mr. She is such a fine yoga student too. I read about it in the paper. Are you interested in which participants I was watching Mr.. but my parents moved to India when I was a ten.. “I am the Chief Chemist in charge of the fragrances used in Validor paper products. in his office or lab. Feelings of territorial jealousy were being triggered on an animal level.” He said with a white-toothed grin.. I work with several of the women here at Validor that played in the game. I did know her. “Actually. “Do you know where we can find your brother?” “Yes of course. I came here from India. “This is Officer Geraldi.” Tony responded without the slightest touch of emotion. She was enrolled in one of my yoga classes. But I also enjoyed seeing Shannon’s athletic endeavors. I began two years after I came to this country. how may I help you?” Then he snapped his fingers and pointed pretending to recognize the reason for their visit. Matt could tell he was being provoked and he tried his hardest to control his emotions.” “. Mostly quality control now since the formulations were developed and standardized years ago. Tony saw the pair and went out to address them. Preston.. I am.” “What is your job here?” Matt continued with his list not looking up. I only hope your daughter’s recovery is swift and complete.. A gift is really not necessary. Preston?” Without giving any attention to the remark. “On an instructional level. They spotted Tony dressed in a white full-length lab coat through a glass partition.. “Are you watching me? Oh. you must have come for some soccer lessons. I’m sorry my schedule is full. As they got off on the third floor they were greeted by a pleasant sight and smell.. “How long have you been with Validor?” “About 8 years. “Your wife Marsha.” Matt gritted his teeth and he tried to remain calm. The mere mention of Shannon’s name made Matt see red. I would have the check my attendance book for the exact time. Preston. Preston?” Matt could feel the animal emotions stirring again from the thought of Tony having an interest in Shannon. I am Italian. “Yes. It is flattering that she refers to me as a hero. whatever… I was there to watch the participants of the game. she was found murdered last week.” Matt still looking down at his notebook .” Neither man showed a tinge of being amused. “Oh. “Did you know a woman named Tiffany Cates?” Matt searched Tony’s face for a reaction. “Marsha called to thank me for my heroic actions with the dog on Saturday.. Tony answered continuing to patronize.” “I’m sure you have checked or will check my background so I will tell you.” “When did you see her last?” “At my class at the YMCA studio.” “What were you doing at the softball game last Thursday night?” “Is this question in the same investigation?” Tony asked amused. “How did you know my name?” Preston asked. She wanted to drop off a gift. called yesterday.. yes I see. Shannon told me. Preston began a line of questioning fed from his notebook. After college I came to the .” “I’ll tell them. “Oh. Mr. Marsha. Between both ladies I know a great deal about you Mr. What is this about?” Matt and Jerry ignored him and proceeded to the elevators.” Tony interrupted smugly. The smell however was not medical. your ex-wife.After the receptionist made copies he handed them back. I forgot. Oh. This is where I learned and practiced the way of yoga.third floor.” “Years ago. “Officers. The area was clean and polished like a modern medical facility. I presume you already have that information.
Tony remarked.. Aren’t you repeating yourself?” Matt slapped at the photocopied papers of Tony’s brother. The bold print read . He scanned the headlines of the day. I like the .” Matt snapped the notebook closed. American Express charges will show dates and times as well.” Matt spoke in a low snarling voice. I must say you are still delusional if you think I had anything to do with the murder of one of my students. When did he come to visit you? Ramid Mossimo. That is where he was born. Mr.” Chapter 19ALPHA ATTRITION Wednesday late afternoon MATT MET TERRY at the front of the hotel entrance and bought a newspaper. Is there anything else you need to know?” “Yes there is. Jerry broke his silence with his own question. Matt towered above him and pushed his sleeves higher to show his arms. “But Mr. How do you like your puitzells? Do you like them alfredo or a red basil sauce?” Tony replied back to him with a tinge of nervousness. please remember. I landed this job on a summer work program and remained here. Isn’t that a strange first name for an Italian?” “It was the Indian influence. As they began to leave. “Hey Pisano.” “Don’t fool yourself.” With puppy-dog eyes Tony looked up innocently and responded. I stayed at the Marriot adjacent to the airport. “Your survival instincts aren’t very strong are they?” Tony looked confused and smiled. Preston.” All three men knew the meaning. Private words were going to be exchanged between Matt and Tony. ah .” Matt said rudely. I read in the newspaper of your first false accusation on this case. “Mr.” Matt felt himself fluster from the smug remark and hoped it didn’t show. it is she that comes to me.” “Then you needn’t worry. You can easily check flight records... I was 2000 miles away when Miss Cates died according to the newspaper.. My brother dropped me at the airport on Saturday and I returned Tuesday to teach my yoga class on Wednesday. Preston. Perhaps she is searching for something additional in her life.variety. I could check my records. both ways. “That’s enough for now.. three times a week in fact. “Let’s get to your brother. and your daughter. Do take care of that nose . her only interest with you is yoga. you are the one with the broken nose. stay the fuck away from Shannon.. “Go on ahead.” he said smiling. “If you know what’s healthy for you.. “Just answer the question.” Jerry smiled and shook his head agreeably heading for the exit. His daily donation since he never had a chance to read the paper beyond the headlines.” “Was Miss Cates at your yoga class Wednesday night?” “I’m afraid I don’t remember.” “Look. “Oh and Mr. Looking at the ceiling as if to reflect. Tony kept his hands in the lab-coat smiling and unafraid. “I was on a business trip in San Jose. Where were you on the night of March 17?” “Surely you don’t think I had anything to do with the death of my student Tiffany..” Preston said rudely. After there was distance between them. “Actually. Preston. Jerry walked over to the other side of the glass partition to the elevator.United States to further my studies at Bradley University. That’s in California.. Jerry I’ll catch up. Preston. Matt stepped close to the Tony until they were touching.
Did you see his eyes? I’ve never seen dark bags like those before. You must have a girlfriend. I thought about you all night. A great day. Too well. He breathed in her fresh morning scent. Therapeutically.” “You are the eternal optimist. I did actually. I don’t eat much. You look fantastic. The top was tucked in to define her thin waist. She fit well by his side. She wore jeans and a tight sleeveless top. “What?” Matt asked. There’s a Denny’s up the road. “Good afternoon Matt. “OK.NEW CITIES INFECTED BY PLAGUE: SOURCE REMAINS A MYSTERY. Matt was hungry and looked forward to the dinner. the stability of his life. Tall. giggled and then laughed fully. Matt looked away from the traffic and took inventory of the beautiful morning weather. That guy was a poster-ad for an anti-smoking campaign. The sky was pure blue and a bright sun warmed his skin through the windshield. ♦ His girlfriend. paused. “I mean. You have a smooth. He was ready for one. Is the swelling in your nose gone? I mean is that the normal shape of it?” She took his arm in hers as they walked and added. I just react to my feelings.” Terry was looking down at the newspaper. Matt smiled involuntarily as he blatantly looked her over. ♦ His close friend had just died of a mysterious plague. As they walked he moved slowly away from her so that she had to lift her head. She put her head on his shoulder as they walked. I’ll give you distance . “What do I owe this to?” As he said the word this he squeezed her arm to indicate the contact she had initiated. The morning contact was unfamiliar to Matt.” “I know it well. ♦ He was roasted in the newspaper for a false accusation of a suspect in his new job ♦ His daughter and ego had been injured. He was confused and started to think of Shannon.” Terry smiled. Matt started the engine. things will be better. I’m sorry. The idea for food took an abrupt . And I hope the interpreter is fluent in the combination of Arabic and deep flemrejecting coughs. Her plentiful hair pushed into the side of his neck.” “Well.” Matt changed the subject. “I don’t know. you’re a good egg. “Your own black eyes look so much better today. I think you are very handsome. it was unprofessional and inappropriate. You. I like to tune-in and read people’s fields. “That gives us time to eat if you want.. “Good morning.” Matt got a rush from her contact on his arm. “When does your boss arrive?” “Six fifteen flight arriving from Washington. Tell me about her. lean and youthfully athletic. Terry was a welcome diversion. non-malicious field around you..” “Well. Matt’s mind wandered to the sexual tension caused by his passenger. I like what I see. Matt looked up from the paper to see a vision of youthful feminine vigor approaching.” Terry said running up enthusiastically. Is that how you keep your figure so fit. We had a fruitful day yesterday and I think the alHabid tape will turn something up. Earlier that morning he ran down the list of recent negative events in his life.. was searching in other directions. up and down. Boy you look like you had a good day. but I could go for a coffee and cigarette. I hope it is more than a bunch of Allah prayers. coffee and cigarettes instead of real food?” Matt noticed she squirmed in her seat at the question. Matt thought today.” She slid her arm out. HOMELAND SECURITY DECLARES RED ALERT. The color is almost gone.
. Jerry can help when he arrives. I want cha to catch the bums that did this. “In route to the call about a mile from the apartments. By the book. I knew Richard Prior back when he lived here . “Could you unlock the door please?” Matt heard sirens approaching at the same time he got a text from Jerry that he was almost there. He thought back to his old mentor. Matt already had it in his hand.. I chased everybody out ‘n’ .. His thoughts were broken by a concerned voice. Didn’t deserve that. the room. Crime theen and all.. I called you guys right away. Nelson is on the way.” The man was shaking his head and had to step backward to catch his balance. I’m trying to reach Davis.. and some old lady wrapped in a sheet..” “Excuse me sir. Let’s start a list of witnesses. He was a tall. “Unit 12 .. cute kid.. “Nah. Matt fought to refocus. elderly black man with a tinge of yellow in his eyes.some guy.. locked it up. “Apartment 212.. can you tell me what happened. “Are you OK Matt?” Terry asked reaching out to his arm.. “Nadeen. A relative found the bodies a short while ago.” “Bodies? How many?” Matt asked. .. I am Lieutenant Preston and this is Agent Mattocks.. Lotta blood. . He was in charge now. man. what would Lawson do? Matt could see him in his mind with his feet up on the desk telling his stories and smoking his pipe. Chief. a little girl .” “Did you touch anything?” Matt had his note-pad out writing .. sure. Matt thought back to the previous day when Terry’s expressive eyes were the only part of her he could see. Matt was glad he was close. Agent Mattocks?” “Keep her with you. The early part of the broadcast dashed his hopes. multiple 10-50 at Lakeview Apartments.. Nice-ta meech..” Matt interrupted politely.. The manager staggered past Terry leading the way to the courtyard. “You better call your boss and leave a message that we won’t be able to meet him.back in.” Terry looked over at Matt with a worried look in her eyes.. Wait for the M.” “Multiple homicides.. Agent Mattocks and I were going to pick up her boss at the airport. Just no justice.” Matt’s cell phone was ringing before the message was complete. The recorded confession we sent to Bureau was from a guy that lives there..” The man slurred. See the manager. I’ll be there as soon as I get him. “Sir.” “Please sir.” Matt pointed in the direction of the apartment. “I’m Tom Sampson...” “OK... Matt hoped the call didn’t involve him. Call me after you make your initial assessment. As he got within range Matt could smell alcohol on his breath and his drunken state was consistent with the color of his eyes. door to door. Matt found it strange for the courtyard to be deserted. Usually a crime brings out the occupants. Selfdoubt permeated his thoughts.E. Why did he aspire to be in this position? He found himself wishing he wasn’t in charge. we were at that address yesterday for an interview. Go to the apartments and secure the crime-scene. “Yeah bodies. “Preston here. Terry and I.” Matt and Terry arrived at the apartments and parked in the same spot as the day before.ah. Preston where are you?” Chief Wilson barked.I theen TV shows. “Yeah. I saw ‘em.turn with one sound: a monotone pitch from the police radio invaded the truck cab.” “What about Terry.by the book.” Matt opened up the Dodge V8 and explained to Terry what was going on.. but remember her level of experience.. to take photographs. The manager came out to meet them..
“Got sha. Jerry.” The man looked up at Terry with one eye and staggered back a step. She had told him about how hard and complicated the Arabic interview process was going. He started digging in his pockets for a cigarette and became angry..” “Could you also grab us some gloves while you’re there? And a Kevlar vest for Terry. can you think of anything else we should be doing?” Being in charge and asking the advice of another officer was hard on the ego. Later. Matt reached for his phone to report. “I’ll be in my office if you need me.” Sampson screwed the cap back on. shit. health. “Mr. Remembering what Davis had told him Matt said. “That wasn’t there yesterday. He turned and pointed his finger in an agreeable way and slurred. He hung up when Jerry arrived with the radio. The manager held the door for Matt to pass but didn’t look in. and handed it to the man.. The streaks appeared to be a foreign language. if you would quit your drinking for a while. “Jerry can you get with the manager. The words were neat and clear. Sampson took a swig from a bottle. Terry saw her comment was not received the way she had hoped. He took a puff and walked shakily down the stairs clutching the rails. That would help communications. One more thing before you go. But he didn’t care.” She winked. can you tell the arriving officers where we are and help with a list of your tenants so we can talk to them. The man grabbed it and took a long drag.” Matt enlisted his help. “Holy. Sampson. He commanded a series of detailed instructions back to the station that impressed Terry.. Don’t touch anything Terry. I don’t need no white miz ‘merica bimbo talkin’ me bout my drinkin’. lit it.. Heading to the car now. I’m just worried about your . Jerry was pleased to see his friend focusing and smiled back. for clues. Can you lay out some perimeter tape? Do you have a question sheet and note pad?” “I’m on it.” Terry pointed to another wall that had an English phrase painted with bold black letters.” They looked into the apartment and focused on a gruesome sight.As he climbed the same rusty stairs from the day before he tried to remember what Sarah Rosen had warned him about.. Sampson. baby.” Terry spoke with frustration in her voice “And sir.. What do you think it means?” Matt looked across the room to see the words on the wall: ALPHAS DON’T LAST FOREVER. Mr. It was top priority to Matt that this crime-scene be handled with correct procedures. “For clues?” “Yes. Let’s just stay in the doorway for now. Matt concentrated for a minute on the priority of what needed to be done. What else had she warned him about? His thoughts were interrupted as the door swung open. She told him how the people who were interviewed were looked upon with suspicion within their Muslin community. The room was different from what they had seen the day before. It looked to be Arabic and Matt thought of the importance of the translation and preserving the crime scene.” “I’ll call Nelson and see when he’ll be here with the camera. He did not want to endure the . She quickly dug out one of her own cigarettes. The room was ripped apart with large blood streaks on the walls. Matt figured the author wanted the writing understood even if the meaning was lost. “Sorry sir. “Look toots. .” The man continued to fumble in his pants. and begin talking to adjacent tenants. The paint had been applied slowly. She lifted her eyebrows and smiled to Jerry as if to say wow. Richard Prior huh? Tell me about him when we get a chance. “Where is Nelson? We need to get photographs of this..” Terry’s attention turned back to Matt as she heard him say with tension in his voice.
” At the top of the steps. Armbruster. “That Allah-dude has some strange ideas. Jerry glanced in and saw the condition of the young corpse. In the middle of the stress-relieving laugh. you and Sampson were really bonding.. I’m Lieutenant Preston. She didn’t mention it so as not to distract Matt from his observations. We need extreme . This is an atrocity of man for reasons of control. a man appeared at the bottom of the stairs. She looked good even with the thick vest covering her body. nonexistent threat. It is not Allah’s way. He had a serious look that told them he did not like what he saw. “Come on. Matt judged him to be approaching retirement age. “Is that the FGM you were working to end? Stopping that is a pretty worthwhile cause. Matt was surprised at the man’s agility considering the surplus fifty pounds. hard laugher.” “I said I don’t care who you are. I’m. Matt did a subconscious calculation of the man physical threat capacity.” The agent stepped his leg forward through the long coat and bounded up the steps thrusting upon the arm-rail. Who is in charge here?” “I am. gray eyebrows in a low position.. “Ted!” Terry squelched the laugh but was still smiling with all teeth showing. was standing with hands on his hips and legs spread wide. “I couldn’t believe you asked that Sampson guy to lay off his bottle. “We learned that technique in FBI 101 class. but you are certainly not in control. Matt took a deep breath of her scent.” “Yeah”. “No partner. He was a short overweight man wearing a trench-coat with the flaps turned up at the back of his neck..toots. by his unbridled buttchewing to Matt days earlier. Terry could see by the familiar scarring that the young girl had received genital mutilation several years earlier. “Glad to see you. Matt stopped laughing and straightened up to show respect for the senior agent. she joked back. Terry’s FBI Supervisor from Washington.” Ted Armbruster. He had young daughters too and returned to the stairway.verbal abuse from Davis again. You may have been put in charge. Investigating agents should always carry a pack around for when you piss somebody off.” Matt thought of his daughter Kelly and was appalled at the thought of such abuse to a young girl. let’s step out for a minute before we mess something up. If that had been Davis’ intent. Low.” Matt and Terry stood at the doorway and looked in at the carnage. She was lying on her back naked and appeared to have been strangled. Her pretty brown eyes were now bulged out of their sockets lying on her cheeks. They entered cautiously and went over to Nadeen.” Matt was cut off.” “Her scars are mild compared to what I have seen. I’ll let you know if I think of something. uncomfortable with what he saw in the room. Yeah.” The kidding broke the seriousness of the grim scene and both were glad for the distraction. The medical examiner will be her shortly. He was really pissed until you saved the day with your cigarette. Simultaneously they broke into loud. He turned from Terry and made disapproving eye contact with Matt.. He found himself needing to refocus. “What is going on here? This is a sensitive crime scene. “I don’t care who you are. Matt was glad for the distraction. Matt too noticed her scars on his own and pointed to the young girl’s midsection. he had made his point. Standard procedure Section 4 paragraph 12. “Mr.” Terry’s voice began to tighten. Matt joked to Terry. Jerry returned with the gloves and vest. his long. Matt handed the vest to Terry and helped her put it on.” “With my luck I would offer it to someone who doesn’t smoke and piss’em off even more.
Terry was the closest survivor to the blast. That’s what authority.. Terry and Matt stood at the doorway.” Senses ceased to function as the room ripped apart in every direction. From there. Something triggered Matt’s animal Fight or Flight instincts and caused him to react. Do you have any gloves? My box is with my luggage. As Agent Armstrong turned back to the corpse and was heard to softly say. get Cold. Think of the bad impression it makes with the tenants around here. Critical . no. legs. He looked back over his shoulder at Terry and spoke to her the way a professor talks to a student. The body had been boobie-trapped with enough explosive to blow a huge hole in the metal reinforced cement floor.” Matt offered defensively.” Matt was relieved in more ways than one. Matt explained respectfully. Next he knelt down over the body of AlHarib. These were orders from my Chief.. A huge explosion combined all sight.. She had been wearing the protective vest Matt had given her. “Waiting for Davis? Leon Davis? I’m taking charge of command. The man was face down with his head resting in a thick pool of blood.” Armbruster spoke with anger and a sneer that exposed his oversized yellow canine teeth.” Terry walked past Matt into the room and headed toward her boss. He grabbed her arm and stopped her progress.” Ted Armbruster was living up to his hard-ass reputation that Terry had warned about. You do have latex gloves here in Peoria don’t you?” Matt handed him the box of gloves delivered by Jerry. Agent Ted Armbruster and his thirtyeight years with the FBI ended abruptly with his one underestimation of the enemy. The force also blew cement across the room toward them like a blast from a shot-gun. “Time is imperative.” He looked in the door and continued the verbal assault. . “Oh. We are also waiting on Agent Davis.. “You haven’t touched anything? What have you been doing besides laughing? Many critical clues get cold. not some school-yard antics. Cuts could be seen on the sides of his neck. Most of her body was shielded from the blast. The blast blew Terry and Matt out of the room and back through the doorway. sound. Agent Armbruster stood up and adjusted his balance to roll the body over with one foot. and feelings together into a moment of distorted reality. Matt read the body language. “Thirty-eight years with the Bureau. The parts not covered were shredded by the concrete shrapnel. Remember Miss Mattocks.” Matt saw the look on the senior agent’s face change at the mention of the name. “I could hear you two laughing all the way across the courtyard. Armbruster walked around the room taking three photos from his cell phone. the man they had interviewed and tape-recorded the day before. She turned back toward him wondering why he grabbed her. You are relieved Preston.discipline here. “On what authority are you taking command?” Armbruster shot Preston a dirty look as if to say How dare you ask. and face were transformed into raw hamburger by the blast. “I’m just looking for clarification. the three C’s. The explosion blew his legs off and sent his torso rocketing to the ceiling before falling back down in small pieces. “Bloody bodies inside. Armbruster had just told him that he was the alpha-investigator and did not want to be challenged.” “We are waiting for the Medical Examiner to take photos before we touch the body.” Armbruster put his gloves on and looked Matt straight in the eyes. Time and perceptions stopped. He asked in a tone of voice that was not challenging. and officers laughing like children. “What’s been done?” Armbruster snapped. The skin on her arms. it appeared his neck had been sliced ear-to-ear with a sharp serrated knife. “We haven’t touched anything. Clues.
deep sobs that were coming from the large officer who had been in charge. The sky had grown dark with an approaching storm. Matt clenched his fists and his whole body became contracted with adrenaline. The young Federal Agent would forever be severely scarred from the blast. Terry’s wounds were more severe. She was bleeding badly from shrapnel penetration to her head and needed immediate hospitalization. But when he left the hospital Matt looked as bad as he felt. Without a wink of sleep Matt popped 50 mg of his prescription amphetamines and headed across town to Peoria Police Headquarters for the scheduled progress meeting. and his murder investigations. The remains of her boss. The fast exit was not because of the urgency of the women’s injuries. Her beautiful lions-mane hair was covered with a thick paste of cement powder and blood. Agent Mattocks remained unconscious. Smoke and dust was still thick in the air as they were loaded into the ambulance. Before his senses stopped working. As the ambulance pulled away Matt returned to the reality of his recent failure. As he arrived he had no idea he was on the agenda to present the findings from diseased victims. He was disoriented and not able to speak when Davis and the Chief arrived. It was due to the other passenger riding in the back. the Arabic interviews.Matt had been protected from most of the blast by Terry and her vest. The ambulance arrived at the hospital and the EMS attendant quickly jumped from the rear of the ambulance. It was 7:00 am and although the gashes from the explosions were painful and still oozing fluid. He could see from the depth of the cuts in her face she would never look the same. The memory played over and over in his mind. The vision faded and with it the memory of his distant failure. In his disoriented state Matt was propelled back in time to a familiar scene of failure. He was . were also flown back to relatives waiting for closed casket ceremonies at Arlington Cemetery. The lights lit up the area and cut through the smoke like a night game at a stadium. His forehead and ear facing the blast had been injured the most. he told the medical staff the cuts looked worse than they felt. Terry remained unconscious throughout the ambulance ride. From the rear of the auditorium Matt spotted the topics of the meeting projected on a screen at the front of the room. As the ambulance pulled away the engine made a roaring sound that Matt heard as the booing of a crowd at a football game. but only to keep the area uncontaminated until more Federal Agents could arrive. The medical staff also did their best to clean him up. Detectives were called in from neighboring departments to help. The doctors wrapped his head and arms with gauze. the late alphainvestigator of thirty-eight years. When she was stable enough to be moved she was flown by a special-transit FBI helicopter back to Washington to be with her parents and expert plastic surgeons. Chapter 20. Matt thought the topic would be on the disease sweeping the country.PROGRESS MEETING Thursday Morning MATT REQUESTED TO be released from the hospital so he could attend the department meeting. The EMS attendant wanted to get away from the long. Matt was leaning over her shaking his head and holding his face in his hands. Halogen lights were set up high overhead by the Peoria Station 4 Engine Company to support the search for clues throughout the night. Matt had witnessed the blastoff and trajectory of the legless Armbruster. Terry’s condition was much worse. One side of his face and the arm that was holding her was badly abraded by flying concrete. The crowd was roaring disapproval on a running-back’s fumble at a pivotal time in the game.
He didn’t seem to mind what he looked like. Looming over the podium. Christ.L. The thought of having to get up in front of a room full of people for two hours made him nauseous. The heavy starch in his shirt accented the fullness his large muscular body. It became so quiet Matt envisioned traffic stopping outside for miles around. The place was packed. I’m glad you could make it. His long. Even with accolades. on his pocket and an Italian silk tie looking like someone out of the pages of GQ magazine. Today he was scheduled to report for two hours on subjects he had no information about. The Mayor. We have Dr. Everyone in the room could see by his disheveled look that he was not well.E. Panic gripped him. Two hours! His chest still hurt from the point-blank shot he took.M. Preston How could he be asked to present all of that information? Two hours worth. Wilson was behind this. It was as if his physical assets were offset by equally strong mental insecurities. disease and develop counter measures against it. With three huge strides he crossed the front of the room. What was expected of him? Fatigue and pain from his injuries was mixing with the amphetamines. uncombed hair was wrapped with fluid soaked bandages. 7:30 – 8:00 8:00 – 8:30 8:30 – 9:00 9:00 – 11:00 Coffee / Donuts Opening comments . Davis Disease update . the media. How do you feel?” The whole room turned to see Matt in the doorway. Jerry. He didn’t have time to prepare. Promptly at eight o’clock Agent Leon Davis walked over to the podium. Preston Murder Investigation . “Good morning. His size and physique gave him a natural strength and power. A silent hush came over the room as his serious demeanor commanded their attention. Davis began in a slow. packing it on. he bent down to the microphone and began the meeting. Lieutenant Preston. His disarray was further accented by his filthy. Whenever Matt is called on perform or compete in front of an audience. He flushed with anxiety. He was only acting Lieutenant. The Mayor saw Matt across the room and after swallowing spoke to the room in an announcing voice. Wilson had said so. and football fullback in high-school.M. his fellow officers. He began to sweat profusely – partly from the speed pills and partly from his nerves.CDC Plague Victim Data . Preston Mid East interviews . arms wide. low voice. the Chief. “Ah. Matt looked around. Matt felt it was best not to answer the question put to him.D. He was an excellent wrestler. There they were. He stood there smiling chomping on two creme-filled at a time. She has . Matt felt setup for this failure by Wilson. wrinkled clothes. Two days ago we had a kick-off meeting for the co-ordination of agencies in our efforts to determine the source of the C. He could see them talking. shot-put thrower. His head and arms were ground beef from the blast. Why would she want to be in a relationship with a failure? Matt remembered Shannon’s mother wishing him good luck on the new position. it causes him to lose focus and inevitably perform below his ability. He also thought about Wilson’s words of warning. His failure at the new position would be obvious to all persons. The self-perpetuating result is failure and embarrassment in front of people. He had on and a white shirt with initials L.deep and calm. Up front eating donuts.S. He was a mess. Wilson or Davis. he could not get over his phobia of crowds watching him. he had just been in an explosion. “be careful what you wish for”. Or a plot by both. Plotting. Phoebe Bauer with us today from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. Matt Preston was a gifted athlete. and Shannon were all there. His broken nose was barely healed and still swollen. Mayor Colletti was there too.M.spiked by a rush of adrenaline when he read the agenda. He also excelled in boxing during his time at the police academy.
His throat was dry. If they were this hard on this specialist he figured he better get ready for the tar and feathers. “How does it enter the body?” The doctor repeated the question almost seeming to stall for time before answering the question. Bauer quickly spoke into the audience’s groan hoping more information would squelch the disappointment. She spoke in a quiet voice with a German accent.” Oh great.” Matt was in the back of the room in a panic about his upcoming presentation.E. Matt playfully fantasized how it would feel on his head and arm wounds. She took a deep breath and with out any hint of apology boldly replied.” That’s a relief Matt thought sarcastically. Matt thought. Unfortunately C. It does not spread from person to person easily and therefore should not shutdown our economy like SARs did in China. The macrophages and neutrophils become inhibited. “How does it enter the body? Vhere is the point of entry? …Ve don’t know. we have found the disease does not travel from person to person except in the exchange of bodily fluids similar to HIV. “These are the body’s scavenger cells that attack and degrade the disease causing bacteria. The affliction has not been seen anywhere else in the world. Matt detected she had a great respect and a hint of affection for the strain. The room was warm to him. “Importantly. At the onset of the disease the victims feel fatigue. After extensive replication in the blood it then systemically travels to the lymph nodes. “It is helpful to put this plague into historical perspective. “We have found the mechanics of this disease. This is not like the global pandemic N1H1 flu virus. His body ached. extremely hot in fact. progresses much more rapidly. aches. The effectiveness of this stain comes from its ability to give off toxins that dampen immune system responses. bacillus anthracis. I will now take questions.” She clarified politely for those with limited exposure to microbiology. He felt tired. Davis stepped forward from behind the speaker with a symbolic motion of protection. beginning with decay in the eyes. The coat made her look like Mickey Mouse in the wizard sequence from Fantasia. fever. He had a vision of being up in front of the group when his eyes start to bleed.additional information on the disease to present to us today.” The doctor was a short elderly lady wearing an oversized white lab coat.” She concluded with increased optimism in her voice.. Just the explosion he hoped. Dr. He tried to suppress a cough as he slid toward the coffee for relief.. “At this time approximately 2700 Americans have contracted the Camelpox Ebola Strain. He figured it was because he was up all night. From this we conclude the disease is bio-terrorism directed exclusively at our country. and coughing. This disease is present only in the United States.” All in attendance who had just been on the edge of their seats leaned back with a groan. She kept her hands in the pockets of the lab coat as she spoke like a professor.” “Thank you.” A rustle of questions began with one voice louder than the others. “I vould like to start with the statistics of the plague. .” She spoke with excitement in her voice. Her body language displayed comfort in front of the crowd. 300 million people lost their lives to the smallpox virus Variola throughout the 20th century. It is a lot like the anthrax bacteria. “Hardy pathogens enter the body and colonize in the digestive tract. Leon. Doctor. Would Wilson and Davis make him continue? The doctor continued.S. including our boundaries Mexico and Canada. Tough crowd. The affliction now contaminates twenty-three discreet areas across the United States. From the gastrointestinal tract it invades the bloodstream. Matt thought as he took inventory of his feelings.
Just then. oh. This one communicated disappointment mixed with pity. are there any questions?” A unified huh? rose from the audience.. “Where do we stand in the development of a vaccine?” “As explained earlier. He refocused to reality and his real nightmare in the present. sorry.. Now at the front of the room his slow-motion fumble-memory was over.” Someone in the crowd yelled out in desperation.. He remembered asking Jerry and Shannon to get it started. He received the ball cleanly and headed into the open. We have had encouraging results with DNIs... It was developed and has been maliciously distributed as a bio-weapon against the United States. As he walked to the front of the room his mind took him back to highschool. “Matt. “I’ll start with questions.“Invasion can enter the body from a cut in the skin. And then be able to feed them. Yes. Horrified he lost contact with it. “I see my time is up. The Chief felt he owed explanation and spoke to the room. thank you. it was to have a meaningful conclusion from it.. As he grabbed at it. an angel appeared seated in the fourth row in the form of Shannon Fitzgibbons. “We will continue with the posted agenda. Matt looked up at the list of topics on the screen. Chief Wilson gave him one of his descriptive looks. Fortunately for him all eyes were on her as she stood with a stack of paper in her hand. with Dominant Negative Inhibitors in the development of a vaccine. She raised her hand and asked so the room could hear. At least we’ll save the rat population in time.” She removed her hands from her pockets and quickly pointed a tiny finger before returning it to the security of her lab coat. Matt. A huge groan of disappointment swelled from the stadium as he lost possession of the ball. or although it is not air-born it can enter into the lungs.” Matt couldn’t believe the Chief had used his first name. “We generally believe it is food related but cannot pinpoint the item. the CamelpoxEbola strain is a toxin producing bacteria. Matt glanced up and felt betrayed by the relentless movement of the hands on the clock..” Trying to take his mind off of the upcoming task Matt visualized hordes of disease-resistant rats feeding on rotting human corpses. His desperate attempt to extend his hand toward it knocked it further away. The doctor concluded. She paused to reaffirm she had the attention of the audience before adding. Without waiting for Matt to answer. The hope in the room was not only to hear the data.. “We have had positive results in experiments with rats. The bad news is that it takes six injections over 18 months to administer.” This worked as the crowd quieted to listen. Five minutes to nine. would you like me to distribute the report you asked me to prepare?” Matt was dumbfounded and tried to conceal his surprise. The first topic read: Data Collected From the Victims of the Plague. “18 months!” The restlessness of the crowd picked up again. contaminated food. as if they were old fishing buddies. but with so little time. she and Jerry began to distribute the paper as she . The exchange caused them to simultaneously turn and look toward the back of the room toward Matt. the ball changed position with a mind of its own. Acting Lieutenant Preston of the Peoria Police will now address the group on a variety of subjects listed on the agenda. Looking worried the Doctor added. there. Matt’s preoccupation with his own events in the last two days left him clueless on the topic. We are working on a toxin inhibiting vaccine similar to the AVA used against anthrax. She handed half of the stack to Jerry seated next to her.” Mayor Colletti walked over to Chief Wilson and whispered into his ear... Next question please... The crowd stirred restlessly. And it requires an annual booster. He was taking a hand-off from the quarterback. It squirmed and twisted in his grip. She tried to contain a smile. Then in slow motion the ball began to move with a mind of its own.
all on the road during the day. for example say between the number of packs of cigarettes smoked and the occurrence of lung cancer the correlation is high. focus. a detective. “I’m sorry…Terry.” She concluded with. distorted through pools of tears like a drug hallucination. Without fully thinking of the implications he blurted out his gut feeling. traveling salesmen. “An FBI agent named Terry Mattocks and I spent time interviewing Middle Eastern members of our community. Silence now would mean all in attendance would be impressed with the accomplishments he was given credit for.” Everyone was on the edge of their seats as Shannon explained the meaning of the report. injuries.. With his eyes still closed he tried to maintain his composure. what else do you have for us?” Matt’s father had taught him an important lesson regarding impressions.” “We spent the last several days filling out a questionnaire provided to us by Agent Davis. fatigue and amphetamines were all interacting within him. Matt back to you. We expanded the list of questions and found one area of commonality we believe worth mentioning. The coefficient is a number that quantifies the correlation or relationship between variables. “The dead guy… in a .trapped. Mr. nor anyone else in the U. The employment of many of the plague victims takes them outside of an office environment. this lesson was not absorbed very well. I think. front and center. and clergyman.” This meant that when you stay quiet. taxi drivers. “Outstanding work by our Police and Health departments. A man we interviewed was killed and his body was booby. “Lieutenant Preston put together a task force to question plague victims and close relatives.. Matt said playfully. mailmen.. product used.” Shannon smiled at him and sat down next to Jerry. “Please continue Shannon. He also became aware all eyes were on him. or location visited.S.” Matt smiled at the undue credit she was giving him. Matt placed his hands on the podium as if to begin talking.I mean Lieutenant Preston. We used the coefficient of correlation. “I’m sorry to say. He looked horrible and should have let it go for a better day. “The report Jerry and I distributed shows statistical analysis of the answers to the survey’s questions. truck drivers.” He hoped to joke with her later about this hoax that saved him. He opened his eyes. at this time. .” As Matt described the events to the crowd he was overtaken by grief.. The wisdom was summarized by the saying “Never give up a good opportunity to remain quiet. people will not know for sure of your level of competency or lack of it. Lieutenant Preston asked us to run the data for any relationships between the cases. This effort was to develop a common link between the victims in the hope of determining the entry point of the Camelpox Ebola strain. For instance. He saw faces staring at him with pity. We.” Matt hung his head and spoke soft. We could not determine a common food. He paused and closed his eyes. we did not find a solid link between items on the questionnaire and the occurrence of the plague. Talking slowly between weeps Matt continued. Matt Preston. He saw Wilson and Colletti talking and shaking their heads with approval as they looked in his direction.explained. “I apologize we were not able to be conclusive with our investigation. As it was. Unfortunately for Matt. he didn’t have a clue what the content of the report was. Recent events. When there is a close relationship. restaurant. I must concentrate. have been able to find a common link. When the body was moved an explosion killed an FBI Agent and severely disfigured … Agent Mattocks. Focus Matt. The room erupted with applause. in full view of all in attendance began to cry. But he had a hunch. As he clapped Mayor Colletti yelled in a booming voice fitting of his size. The emotion of the moment and lack of sleep was too much for him.. What did he want to tell the audience? He remembered. therefore I am.
But the third encounter was with six-foot seven. They were out to get him. Matt. Not to mention your false accusation of Billington. To Matt. Then discussions began among themselves.” He barked in a cold voice. he spun and punched Davis in the face.. Reacting defensively to the perceived assault. As a result he was now in bad terms with his job and girlfriend.confession… said the name Validor in his chant. . Matt stood at the front drenched in sweat. He moved up face to face and said . as best he could with the height difference.. Blood exploded from Davis’s eye onto his white shirt. The Chief got up in Preston’s face. She had just helped him obtain data and then reported on it...It is. Agent Davis walked up from behind and grabbed Matt’s arm to steady him. “Preston. And please. When Matt and Jerry were leaving Davis blocked the door. that company. You are suspended. During the blackout Shannon helped medically while Jerry tried to provide excuses for Matt’s actions.. His bloody bandages and long. Jerry whispered to her. graciously giving him full credit. crying from bloodshot and blackened eyes with a dripping nose. the chemist. take a bath. dirty hair gave him the look of someone that needed locked away instead of in front of a room speaking. I am sure the common element we are looking for is there.” Next was Shannon.. When Matt regained consciousness he had three exchanges with people before being helped to his truck.the Kleenex.” He took a deep breath. . stop your false accusations of Tony. CHIEF WILSON FELT embarrassed for the Police Department and told Matt to stop. “Innocent people blow their noses with the poison and catch it.” “I’ll wait for you in the parking lot.. What ever alpha-male macho issues you have against him. “We’ve gotta do something... “Matt.” Like the fumble he feared. His boxing experience and strength combined to land a powerful blow to the unsuspecting man’s eye-brow. their conspiracy was now in the open.. it is evil!” The words and the method of entry made sense but his delivery of the message was disturbing..the tissue paper. I think we need to spend time apart. “Beat it. Then the situation took a turn for the worse. In the mist of his emotional meltdown Matt’s primal reactions took over. He poisons something . The punch in his recently broken nose sent Matt to the floor. I think you need time by yourself to clear things up in your head. First was Wilson. You are no help to us in this condition. It is Validor .” Everyone could see Matt was losing it as he continued. He looked down at Jerry and growled. I order you to take time off with disciplinary action pending. let it go. All in the room could see a change in him from sadness to anger. Shaking his head.. Policemen in the room charged the podium in the same way a baseball team leaves the dugout when a fight erupts. Matt had screwed up in full view of everyone.. Frustrated by his inability to communicate he turned up the volume and began yelling. Mayhem broke out. 320 pounds Agent Leon Davis. Jerry and Shannon looked at each other worried. Before they got there Davis landed a counterpunch to Matt’s nose. “Don’t you see? The bastard we are looking for is at Validor. And Preston .” A gasp fell over the crowd caused by the accusation. are you off your meds? You lost it. He could tell from the faces of the audience they did not understand what he had said. Tony Mossimo . out cold. . “That will be enough. Matt’s health too was now in jeopardy..” Davis removed the bag of ice from his eye showing a new opening next to his old scar. Their faces showed pity and confusion. something causing the plague. . Especially with your ex-wife’s lawsuit going on.
She noticed herself physically aroused at the anticipation of the evening. Ready to leave. and it felt great. Tonight they would hook up. She wanted Tony. . and the challenge excited her. That must have done the trick. at ten o’clock ..to raise her status among her co-workers. and fixed her hair with that extra wave. tonight.” He looked down at his watch and returned eye contact. She liked what she saw. She worked with him in the Validor office building. She had first seen him in the elevator. but there was something physical about Tony that really turned her on.. And her interest was at the animal level. She also applied the makeup pattern on her eyes that drew the most compliments. To them. A little dinner. The anticipation was overwhelming. Boring stories about their children’s little-league game or piano concert. Suspended. The special anticipation of the day was due to Tony’s invitation to go out later that night. Melissa had been out with a lot of men. She wanted romance. She performed small.between clenched teeth. intelligent doctor. Melissa was single and loathed hearing daily stories at the office about other women’s families. But he was different. she turned and looked at herself in her fulllength mirror. Melissa wore the sexiest softball outfit she could lay her hands on.. All the women at the office referred to him as Adonis incarnate. She wanted attention. Tony seemed interested so she invited him to come out and watch the opening game against the City Building Bandits.” Chapter 21 – DATE PREP Thursday morning THIS MORNING MELISSA ANDERSON allotted more time than usual to get ready. You got that mother fucker? Nobody. he epitomizes male excellence. It was the feeling of butterflies in her stomach like she hadn’t felt since high-school. And just in case… that morning Melissa had donned her finest black T-back panties. “Nobody. barely noticeable things to make the day even more special for her. At one point she mentioned her softball activity. At first Melissa watched him park his car and found where he worked from the name in his parking spot. She went out of her way meet him and strike up conversations. She hadn’t kissed him yet and she hoped he was as good of lover as he advertised. . All day at work she had an excited feeling waiting for her date to begin. She had Good Friday off and a three day Easter weekend ahead. Far from it with her looks. handsome. She knew the pecking order and figured she did not belong so close to the bottom. Earl’s on Galena Road. She had tried hard to attract his attention and felt it took longer than normal. “Be at that white-trash bar. . All of the girls at the office would want a full report.. She hoped that come Monday she could describe how wonderful it had been. And tonight she was with him on a date. She was accustomed to faster responses when she pointed herself in the direction of a man. sucker punches me. muscular. She wanted to be noticed that night. some drinks. His movements were so smooth it was almost like he had an animal grace about him. Before long they were exchanging E-mails about things they do. MATT ORGANIZED THE contents on his card-table desk and left. back to her place. She applied her best perfume. Be there to settle this. she thought as she put on her black outfit for the day with matching heels. A rich. I want to finish this. In anticipation of his attendance. She hoped she would be able to offer a vivid tale of her conquest. He had responded favorably the very next day about wanting to meet with her in private. Soon she would be with him for the evening.
The bandages over his hands and arms were wet with lymph discharge from the skin wounds. he had to save his energy for Davis. did you notice when the dog’s attacked Kelly.” “Hurt you. God.” “It is always hunting season when you got a score to settle. and get in. Matt had the hours from 6:00pm to 8:00pm allotted to spend with his children.” Matt felt like he had been punched in the stomach. As he looked into the mirror he was reminded that his nose would have to start healing all over again. He walked in and looked around.He walked passed John Lawson’s old office and saw Davis was already gone for the day. The alpha thing is played down in society these days. “That’ll do. I hadn’t heard. Boy was that the truth. An opportunity to get money and hurt me at the same time. Matt drove home to take a sponge bath and change the bandages on his head and arms. Can never be too safe. Come on.” “Sure did. “Hey Dad”.” “Did you hear mom’s suing the City for what happened to Kelly? Police and Animal Control Departments. especially primates… like man. He looked up at Shannon’s Work in Progress sign.” “I thought it was just for who got the food.” Dan didn’t like how his parents bash each other and he changed the subject.” Dan asked with his curiosity peaked. win-win for her. “You remember how to fire one of those. “I heard your mom won’t let Kelly out tonight. He could sure use a nice hug and her reassurance. What kind of shoes are you wearing?” Matt asked. Neglect or some shit like that. How dare he come into my town.” Dan confessed. A double-plus. He is the one suing. he felt bad about her getting hurt. Matt figured this was no time to fall into self-pity. It is the Alpha thing that goes on in nature. A lot of other animals do this too. That’s cool. The physical wounds hurt.” He pointed to two rifles sitting in the back seat. Do you remember the horses up at your uncle’s ranch? Remember how all the horses fought for position in the herd. “What are we gonna do?” “We’re going hunting. That bastard. win-win situation. I was gonna go with my cross-bow this weekend. He pulled into his driveway and ignored the length of the grass and overgrown weeds as he walked to his door. it was like one was in charge and the others held back.” . He could smell Davis’ body odor lingering in the office. into my life and call me out. Crazy thing. ACCORDING TO THE custody arrangement for Easter. Something Stan drummed up. But in early times and in the animal kingdom it pushed the stronger genes into future populations. how’s that connected?” “It has to do with culpability and job responsibility. Ask that snake-in-the-grass lawyer Stan to explain it. “No. The land where therapists tell us we need to be selfish to be happy. They needed changing. Such a beautiful face to become severely scarred. Dan lifted his pants and showed his father. “Hey dad. Daniel greeted him cheerfully as Matt pulled up in the truck. But not as bad as his emotional pain from Terry’s injury. our country has a plague spreading like wildfire and your mom is pressing charges. Sounds like something your mom would enjoy.” “We going to the reservoir woods?” “How did you know?” “I had the same idea. “Me and Jimmy. And we are also going to make it a little safer around here. Double-plus. Only in America. It’s the same way with dogs. He had to meet Davis at ten o’clock which gave him time to meet with his son. We’ll take a few minutes to refresh anyway.” “It’s not hunting season.
that subject is a long one and we are almost there. So there are no doubts about who has higher rank in their society. It seems their wild survival instincts are still intact.” “In other words. As they walked across the parking lot Matt explained.” Matt had a passing thought about Shannon’s recent change of heart. like horses and dogs. but basically the same as other animals. or how many varsity letters they got. the number two dog and number three dog and so on. “Looks like they got some ducks too.” Dan said. “The fact I put some food out on the way to pick you up didn’t hurt any. Matt and Dan had been hunting since he was old enough to hold a gun and had taken every formal gun class available to him. And besides. There is always an Alpha-male who dominates based on superior physical abilities. Matt had many examples of natural hierarchies – both human and animal. It’s called a hierarchical society. It’s the same as some great ape beating on his chest or showing his teeth. the one that can kick everyone’s ass. “In the adult world people are always trying to “one-up” each other in order to establish the pecking order. biker-gang leaders.” Matt was encouraged by his son’s interest and continued. the pecking order is confirmed in the spoken language.a biker gang. The pack of dogs huddled in a clearing on the shore. The yellow perimeter tape was still in place marking the crime scene of Tiffany Cates. The two crossed the empty soccer fields and entered the woods. including humans.” The largest dog was a male German Shepard. There was also a female German . “So if we kill the alphadog what happens to the others? Does number two take over?” “Yeah. “I’ve done a lot of reading on the subject. He could see Dan finding his own examples in his mind. This keeps the pack or herd stable. Matt continued. And everyone establishes the order below the alpha-dog. You’ll see men bragging about their military duty. “In Japan. and Roman empires. or that their son went to Harvard. Man is a primate. Time to expedite matters. There is an alpha-male and everyone else falls into order with their own position. That goes for boxing champions. Animal Control is gonna take their sweet time before anything is done. nothing stays on top forever. Large piles of feathers lay on the shore. Just as I suspected. have the same rules of pecking order. “Now. “Exactly.” “Hey I’ll bet that’s where the expression ‘top dog’ comes from. The lower the bow. Look at it in your locker room.“No. Matt wasn’t the lecturing type but he could see Dan was interested in the subject. When they talk to each other.” Matt showed his teeth for effect. have rules about who is the leadership of the group.” They unpacked the guns from the car and took 20 minutes to review the guns and safety techniques they would use.” Dan interjected proudly. Especially from his younger days when he was hanging with The Tribe . I am the wrong guy to be teaching on that subject. It is in the language they speak. A little more complicated with humans. You ever see them bow to each other? The angle of the bow has significance.” Matt thought And that’s why the little shits invented guns. man acts just like the apes you read about. the words they use either addresses a person as superior or subordinate. And it’s the little guys that get picked on. it goes beyond that. Primates. everybody knows his place.” Daniel clarified.” The father and son spotted five large dogs standing in the clearing. And since the order is already defined. Animals. “They were sure easy to find. this alpha thing gets interesting.” “Is this the upcoming talk we were supposed to have? About girls?” “No. Dan laughed. and if you look around. Women too. the lower the rank. Matt wasn’t ready for his son to hear stories from that stage of his life.
At times such as hunting. I love it when you reach your own conclusions. “This is sad dad. and closer to his father. Custody over. cracked the rifles. I’m working on it. he was allowed to cuss. Matt had to drop off his son. “And who murdered the chick?” “Hey.” “Don’t forget the dogs in the back. He was involved in his first murder investigation. “Well. Matt joked.and didn’t have much of a clue on that case either. just remember your sister’s screams. It’s my job now. then doesn’t it follow that countries have the same rules as animals. I will get the other three. “And. It was as if they turned into a pumpkin at the specific time when custody changed.. It’s like they are fighting for territory or something. what’s causing this disease? We just gotta find it. He wasn’t even thinking about the mystery of the plague.” “Hey that’s pretty heavy stuff. “Dad. Tell your sister I love her.” AS HE DROVE Matt tried to take his mind off of the painful separation from his children and the upcoming confrontation with Davis. He and Daniel inserted them into body bags and loaded them in to the truck bed. it is sad. I’m worried.Shepard.” It was 8:00pm. They walked closer and finished the wounded at close range. Matt called them his Pumpkin Kids. I enjoyed the time together.. if countries are extensions of people.” “Yeah.” “Well. How could a . go on. There are people dead from the plague that can’t take care of their pets anymore. Wouldn’t that mean that there are alpha-countries in the world and then other smaller countries further down in the order? Like a herd of horses or pack of wolves. On the drive back the ride was silent until Dan spoke out pensively. one question at a time. “We need to get close enough for you to take out two. and countries. How could he solve the mystery of the nation’s plague? The whole country was stumped. do you ever think of how countries act like people? I mean wars are like two people fighting. It just gets a little out of control when they turn to eating corpses and attacking little girls for food. thanks for coming by tonight. Actually . Matt pulled the truck to the area of the slain dogs. Go on. Choose which ones you want. “You know.” The two practiced hunters wrapped up the exercise in six rounds from a 100 foot distance.” Matt was interested in seeing where his son’s thoughts were headed. And the President tells us to maintain normalcy.” “I always do too. I guess one man’s pet is another man’s predator. He didn’t have a clue. They just turn them loose.” Daniel held his nose. It made him feel older. And before you start thinking about cuddly Lassie and Old Yeller. I’m fucking scared shitless. and headed back for the truck. Hold that thought ‘til next time. Animals gotta eat. Just like an animal fights for its territory. “We should leave these on the front steps of the Animal Control building. I’d like to tell the President a few things someday. That was good about animals.” “Did you hear its Red Alert. people. I keep wondering what motivates the terrorist’s. His mind drifted to the evidence of his murder investigation.” Dan enjoyed using profanity around his father.” Matt said in a proud voice to his son. Dan added another question as he pointed to the area. two Labradors retrievers and one young Rottweiler. and people have the same rules as animals. But inside he was doubtful of his abilities and was now suspended. They finished loading and drove past the yellow crime-scene tape from the dog’s earlier meal. Dad.” Daniel was serious. Thanks for the help. Didn’t you say most of these dogs belonged to the bean farmers on Route 25?” “Yeah. I claim dibs on the new alpha-boy.
But tonight he would have his way.” He said leaning casually with a white toothed grin. Another friend passed by and stuck her head in the cubicle. “Thank you. I could come back if I am too early. Your legs look great in those shoes. Tony selected a secluded Italian restaurant close to his house. And as message to them. “Quitting time. “I am yours all night. My mission is to bring the will of Islam to this evil empire. “Your call”. and headed to the driver’s side. Nice car she thought. He couldn’t wait for the lesson to begin . I will enforce his ways.” came one Email. “Where to?” he asked pleasantly.corpse be more decomposed than the time of death? Was Ben Nelson’s evaluation of the body wrong? Matt had seen the body. “ARE YOU READY to order?” Tony asked politely. And like an apparition. The perfect gentleman. So how did she show up on a surveillance video when she was supposed to be in the woods rotting? What would John Lawson do? Chapter–22 LEON’S LESSONS THURSDAY Night MELISSA ANDERSON looked at her menu but her mind was on her boss’s comments before she left on her date with Tony. Even with the refrigeration to retard the decay. A Jaguar. how appropriate for his sleekness and body language. Melissa knew his address from his personnel file she got from her girlfriend in H. “Anything on the menu. His sleeves were rolled up to display his muscular arms. black shoes and black vest.” she giggled. fill me in on the juicy details Monday. Most men would see them as a welcomed sight.” Tony pointed. Outwardly he was practiced on how to impress women. He loathed her promiscuous ways. but he did not. Tony dressed in black dress pants. “Good luck with your hot date tonight. “Hello Melissa.R. That guy is awesome. She is a filthy animal. Allah does not approve. As a disciple of Allah. Melissa jerked back to the present and smiled to Tony for his manners. He has money. He had spent many years living in the States and was accustomed to being considerate within the Western culture. She loved men in black. she thought. she said as she adjusted her skirt and flipped her hair back seductively. A dream lover? “I pulled my car around so you wouldn’t have to walk far in your heels. The sacrilegious way she exposes the feminine parts of her body will be punished soon. To him she was no better than a dog in heat.to see her die. Nice catch too.” He smiled convincingly. This guy is the most. “You are special. don’t even look at the price. For his culture.” She winked at him. “Hey. black shirt.” She loved the attention she was getting for her romantic encounter tonight. She smiled hopefully to herself that the short drive to his house would leave them more time to make love.” her boss yelled to her as she was leaving. the decomposition of the tissue was advanced. he arrived. Tony thought this would be her last meal so he would make it special. she will be punished for her ways. I hope I am not rushing you. It’s the black Jag over there. . He opened the car door for her. Tony glimpsed over to Melissa’s short skirt and long legs. you lucky bitch. Time to party with Adonis.” He noticed my legs. Western women have no morals. you are the perfect gentleman.
His part in the Jihad would be legendary and by the time it was determined she was missing. I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God. On the drive from the restaurant Melissa could sense his anxiety. . This time was the same as before. Tony changed clothes and checked the time. Ramid was traveling for the night. Then he went to the bathroom and removed the shower curtain. Tony removed Melissa’s clothes so he could see her naked. A challenge. She flattered herself thinking it was his sexual nervousness from being with her. This evening he felt aroused sexually and he fought the feeling. Eventually. He wanted pure animal relief. Soon his last assignment would be complete. He loaded the body in the rear of the van on the curtain. He hoped the drug would soon begin to affect her.Conversation at dinner was surprisingly easy for both of them considering. Walking from the car into his house she began to feel strange and disoriented. Melissa became confused and realized this was not going to be the saucy story she had hoped it to be. “God is most great! I bear witness that there is no God but Allah. It would not matter. he would already be gone or in Allah’s hands in Paradise. Murder reports would describe the locations of the razor mutilations. He had been in the company of the provocative girl all evening and could not placate his animal urges. Tony planned to return to his house for the event – the lesson. Once inside she reached to him in the hallway for a kiss. After his climax he wiped himself off and coldly choked her to death in her sleep. A glove across the face for physical confrontation. A plan had been placed in Tony’s head by the spirit of Allah’s teachings. During dinner Tony slipped her a date-rape cocktail he learned to make.” These were the last words Melissa Anderson heard before losing consciousness. This was his way of being sympathetic to his victims. He was off to complete the message to Western society. He thought conversation was easy considering he planned to kill her shortly. Even with the brevity she noticed a strange taste in his kiss.of Allah’s ways. Simple chemistry for him. It was important these lessons did not involve sex with the victims. This would destroy the meaning of his message. He would be easily connected with the disappearance. the people of the evil empire would come to understand Allah’s teachings of female modesty. But it was not the long sweet kiss of a new lover that women dream about. The meaning of the cuts would be linked to the lifestyles of the victims. He led her inside and placed her on the couch. He only allowed a hurried touch of his mouth. Tony began talking of foreign subjects and began speaking in a different language. He knew the death of this girl would be directly traced to him. He masturbated over the unconscious girl from behind so he could avoid her face. He took it to an empty cargo van in the garage and shielded the floor with the plastic. He went to the bathroom and filled his pockets with van keys and razor blades. He didn’t want to remember her talking and smiling. She noticed an abnormal crease in his pants and smiled to herself at the bulge. He helped her walk with his arm around her. The bodies of sexually expressive women are discovered with facial and genital mutilations. Forgive me Allah he thought I am not an animal. Determination of the alpha-male was being called into play. Everyone at Validor knew he was the last seen with this woman. Though it was difficult. She thought easy considering they had just met and had a difference in backgrounds. Tony had not lost control with the first girl. Allah be praised! MATT HAD BEEN called out. There is no God but Allah.
come over here and drink my offering. Either way you are going to shut the fuck up and quit dogging me. babes. But the challenge needed to be addressed. I am tired of your mouth.” Nicky stood up with a troubled face.” From his body language you could see Nicky start to relax. bikes. Skank was back at it with a renewed vigor to determine the hierarchy between the two. Matt had been there before. Everyone was having a good time. Nicky. Then Skank’s words took a turn with a new meaning.a tribe mentality. “Put up. Come and drink or come to fight. Nicky had been called out and everyone in the group knew what it meant. You talk the talk. Nicky’s name came from his reputation from his use with his blade… always quick with the knife. he was badmouthing Skank . From the first day Nicky was accepted to the gang. smokes. He was drawn to the biker scene by their rules and codes of behavior..” Then for dramatic effect Skank opened his arms wide with a beer in each hand. Nicky. About 10 yards away from the light he turned back and called out. After high-school. Two rams ready to lock horns to determine their position within the group. why did he always end-up in confrontations? Why with Davis? What does he have against me? Is it racial? On the drive to meet Davis. The low light obscured . mocked him. Matt wondered to himself. Then his look changed to madness and he snarled and showed his teeth. sitting by himself. I’m talking to you punk. “If you want to keep your ass from being kicked. Beer. I’m talking to you. before Matt went to the school for Law Enforcement. He clearly did not see this coming and was uncomfortable. Skank and the girls were dancing and rocking. This went on long enough that Skank had to do something about the insubordination. I won’t be needing it. The established leader. Matt connects to the laws of early man more than those of modern society.putting him down and dogging him all the time. He leaned onto one leg and did his best to look cool but it didn’t work.” Then he walked over and pulled two longneck beer bottles out of the cooler. Eleven bikers and another twenty partiers were hanging out at a farmhouse around a campfire behind the barn. stuck out his chest and growled. “Hey punk. They even looked similar. Walk over here punk and let’s settle this. But before he could. fuck face.” He turned and walked into the dark away from the group. The music of Foghat was blaring from an old pickup. newer member. He turned to Nicky still sitting and said in a low growl. Matt’s mind wandered to a previous incident where the alpha-male of a group had been challenged. That’s when Nicky. and good music. He thought silently for 10 seconds.. Fighting was the last thing expected. Skank had two girls in his arms and was enjoying the vibe of the evening. Matt remembered Skank pushing the girls aside and told them to go sit by the fire. “I have two cold ones. He walked over to Matt and handed him his gun so everyone could see. overweight. hold on to this for me Mange.what’s it going to be punk?” Nicky really didn’t have a good opportunity to back-out of the fight and save face. and ungroomed long hair. leatherclad. Skank. Both Skank and Nicky were evenly matched physically. It was one too many times for Skank and things got ugly quick. or shut up. was challenged by a younger. It was a peaceful summer night. He thought back to when the leadership of his gang was at stake. Yeah. “Here. tattoos.Superior or subordinate. Skank was not mean-natured and did not become the leader through violent accession. “Hey. The words by Skank were craftily chosen to provoke a fight. he was active in a biker gang. Come show me what you got to back it up. You can come over here and drink a beer with me as a bud or come over here and fight me as an enemy. now you show us what you got. Matt had always prepared physically for confrontation. He angrily stomped away from the fire-light toward his waiting adversary. All eyes were on Nicky and how he would respond to the Skank’s challenge.
The parking lot was full.. “That fucker tried to pull his knife. Was you dating that agent that got hurt?” . I got to him first. his hands were holding two broken bottles covered with blood. As he opened the door he had a feeling something bad was going to happen. He was a mess and the last thing he needed was to get into a fight with all his injuries. “You on duty this late?” He turned and looked to Davis and nodded his head toward him. Later in college. But. at the end of the bar sat Davis. He thought to himself. nobody paid much attention as Matt entered the place. Matt wondered why he had the coat on inside the bar. It was pivotal in Matt’s moving on from the Brotherhood of the Biker to the Brotherhood of the Police.” Pointing to his nose to answer her question. What was heard next was the breaking of the two long-neck bottles against each other followed by a scream of agony from Nicky. Adrenaline began to flow again as he remembered what lay ahead at 10:00 pm. He was aware the coat could hold a variety of weapons in hidden and accessible locations. Matt recalculated Davis’s Physical Threat Potential. Matt looked for clues as to how long Davis had been there. personal. he had been “called out”. Punk had it coming. walked down the gauntlet behind the bar and smiled. about half finished. “Nothing now. And what happened to your nose?” Matt was glad for the friendly reception. Long tall Audrey. Davis was smoking a cigar. thanks. conflict arises when there is a disagreement of the pecking order. Earl’s Icehouse was dark with smoke so heavy it was hard to see across room. Matt studied the behavior of the male Silverback gorillas establishing dominance within the pack.” “You and Shannon still seeing each other? I read about the explosion. but this one was still reigning that night. An over-age woman in jeans too tight for her weight danced with a beer while picking out her next selection. Every head in the place turned each time the door opened to see who had replenished the room with breathable air. PTP: Off the scale. As he walked toward the bar the red illumination of the neon sign and the slight foggy drizzle gave a surreal look to the parking lot. scar-faced black man. I’ve got business to attend to. Earl’s had six pooltables and each had a stack of quarters waiting. I’m going to get my ass kicked by a gorilla sized. He had to park a long way from the entrance. He was wearing his long black “grim reaper” duster. He threw the bottles into the fire and said. The outcome of this incident left Nicky with paralyzed facial muscles. “Whuttle ya have hon? Haven’t seen you in a while.. He sees the same actions daily in modern man from street gangs to corporate board meetings. This was the cape he wore the first time Matt saw him as the silhouette across the lake. Matt couldn’t comprehend how the confrontation ended so violently over a verbal insult. “No. Bob Seager’s Old Time Rock and Roll played on the jukebox.” With blood stained hands he got on his Harley and drove off. of course something bad is going to happen. MATT PULLED INTO Earl’s Icehouse at 9:35. Matt scanned the place for his foe. a long-time acquaintance. He ended up with the same result as before. The ashtray was empty but it could have been traded for a fresh one by a dutiful bar attendant. Later he came to realize it was only modern man acting out what happens naturally in the jungle.the details of what actually happened. When Skank walked back into the light. The “Alpha” may not last forever. After that. Matt had been around males scrapping and brawling his whole life. With the three-day Easter weekend coming the place was packed. There alone.
” She gave a be careful look.. He knew it was not in his best interest to lose focus of the task at hand. I’ve gotta see this guy.” Matt thought back to the strategy Skank used with Nicky . Davis barked. Eight girls … eight pygmies... “Fuck you.the bottles could be used as a peace offering or a deadly weapon. “Two more Audrey. Even through the stench of the fresh cigar and decades of Earl’s beer and cigarette smoke. He decided to defuse the situation before it could play out. you could say that. The pools beneath indicated they were there untouched for around fifteen minutes. Rio. Matt was subordinate to Davis. nine years old.” This caused Davis to smile. Davis continued. He was in a bar in Soho. He walked around like everybody should get out of his way.. I’ll drink with you and then kick your ass. Matt had used his fight or flight responses several time earlier in the day and was exhausted from adrenaline rushes. Leon Davis did not return the friendly gesture. “I would like to come and drink with you as a friend and not your enemy. But he was traveling alone and he got into it with some locals. He figured he would find out soon. eight. He spied two unopened long-neck beer bottles in front of Davis. Matt handed him a beer raising it cordially. “What a day. He used to carry this macho. Davis would talk Matt would listen. Staring straight ahead Davis began talking. If they were in Japan. Directing the subject back to Matt. “Let’s talk later. you have the cockiness of my brother. “Yeah. especially about the accident with Terry. In reality. “They went outside to settle it … the guy had his buddies with him.” “What happened to your brother?” . Matt looked straight ahead.Matt was distracted by the questioning. The eyebrow was still swollen from the brawl earlier in the day and covered with a bandage.” Matt sat down next to Davis and took a long swig from the warm beer. “He was big… bigger than me. Matt could smell Davis. like packs of animals drag a full sized adult down and rob them … strip’em clean. it’s too many if they are organized.” Starring straight ahead as if talking to his bottle. He took the beer and finishing half of it in one swig. He took a long calm drag off the cigar and turned back forward as he exhaled. Let’s get this straight.. eight what ever. Same as you. This was the first time Matt had seen the man do this. as Matt headed down the bar. After an abnormally long pause he spoke in a low voice. and black. some punk hooligan.” Davis began to pause between sentences in the story as if it was becoming hard to tell. The smiling expression seemed out of place mixed with the huge scar.. “Did you know that in Brazil . The beers arrived.” Matt didn’t know if that was good or not.” Matt took off his coat and lit up a Camel. nobody can take on and fight eight guys.” He finished the bottle.” “What do you mean he used to? Did he grow out of it?” Matt figured an occasional question was allowed. bad. “I’ve got two beers here. Twenty young kids only seven. I hate this shit-hole of a town. Matt reached for another ashtray rather than moving the one in front of Davis. Jamar. As they swallowed both men seemed to understand the arrangement. Except you smell so much worst. I am not your friend. Matt would have touched his head to his knees. he was insecure... Davis looked over toward Matt for the first time. It had been established. Davis did the same. Just when he thought he might be able to relax. London. A small guy. Anyway. “You remind me of my younger brother. ‘I can kick your ass’ attitude. Big. As his cheek moved with the smile it made the scar and lump raise. they got street kids that gang up on people and rob them. As big and strong as Jamar was. “I am not your friend.. What is it with you white guys? You all got this sour smell. The sweat patterns on the bottles showed them to be full.
Like our occupation of Iraq. Cops never caught them. Davis felt compelled to finish Matt’s question.because of size. “Audrey. Matt spoke in a bonding manner. so he did what came naturally when he was uncomfortable. and had shrapnel blown into the side of my face. we should not underestimate the power of their organization. “How do you combat an enemy like that?” Davis got excited and pounded his fist. They see themselves defending their ... they’ve got a point. I don’t think they ever tried to. if I didn’t drink with you?” Davis growled in a low voice . you broke my nose again today. you look like shit too. I don’t think it was your fault. I did what Jamar asked. Been in a wheel chair about ten years now.” Matt offered up the example “Like small cancer cells attacking a huge body. The world’s one superpower. with his 38 years experience. He told me he saw that the dude had friends around.. Matt wondered if he would hear the story of how Leon Davis got his scar. you’re a pussy. kicking him. But they were all small. Not touching anything. Waiting for photos and taking notes.” Matt shook his head. lighten up. if you look at what’s going on with the Islamic insurgency. Matt always kept track of beers. I wouldn’t have broken a sweat. You gotta think like them.. Even though our enemy rides camels and lives in caves. Now. See the universe from their point of view. What were you planning. but he did it to himself.” Matt didn’t know how to react. “Yeah.” After a pause he added “Please” since he had just been called pompous. But they all got him down. you were wearing a vest when you got shot and Agent Mattocks’ blocked most of the explosion away from you. They figure we deserve it for our arrogance. everybody knows that’ trying to show he knew the old “two-bottle trick”. I’m too old to scrap anymore. Then. these were the fifth on the way. had my nose broken. Their holy book gives them the right to defend. it would have been me killed.. In the last couple of days I’ve been shot in the chest. took a drag and asked. America.. It’s a shame what happened to Armbruster. “One of the fucker’s boots crushed the spine in his lower back. “Hey. toothless. Matt spoke with an ‘of-coarse. two more beers. He sees a parallel between him underestimating the small hooligan pack and America’s underestimation of these terrorist cells.what happened with the explosion.mean and serious.” “I visited my brother before I came to Peoria.. If it hadn’t been Armbruster. “I would have broken bottles and fucked up your face with the glass. Like counting the number of bullets fired. the mighty alpha country – was shown to be vulnerable.. fuck you. Your neck and ears too. All because he underestimated the abilities his adversary . He turned to Davis and asked “You offered me the two beers when I first came in. Jamar asked me to try to convey this lesson to other people I meet in the case. We force our will around the world without consideration of the local people’s desires. His legs are barely hanging there. Matt lit a cigarette and offered one to Davis to sidetrack the emotion of the story. Audrey was keeping count too.” Davis gave Matt a disapproving look as if to say what do you know? “So there. “You gotta anticipate. The world was glad when we got our 9/11 wakeup call. “I want to say. “You’re going pretty strong on those beers aren’t you?” Matt had to know. He smiled..” Leon was feeling the beers and softening. You know. Or maybe the Medical Examiner killed. you know … just bones. You white pompous ass-hole.” Davis got serious again..He ended up paralyzed from the waist down. young … shaved heads.” Davis was visibly upset as he reflected on his brother’s situation.” “Thanks. The glass works real well. When it happened I was waiting for you to arrive. Anyway.” “That’s what I thought”.
We decided to smell the roses on the way so we detoured around the beltway to see Houston. about five-foot two. We were on the way to South Padre Island. We are the terrorists to al-Qaeda.” Davis’s open-mindedness was a surprise and words struck a chord with Matt. I was not aware that blacks are treated differently down south. the West. “But if you crawl inside the head of this enemy you will also find his own arrogance.” “Being raised as a doctor’s son. The clash of the civilizations. “When I turned my head back. We ended up in the southeast part of the city. Matt began to soften toward Davis. I gotta go. It is the arrogance of the powerless and deprived. I’ll make this short. Real ethnic.. every God-damn fucking day I look at my self in the mirror and ask myself what would provoke someone to have done this to me. I went to Purdue. and common sense. That their God is the one that should be exalted through aggression. I took it as a challenge so I walk over to him. Towering above the guy I look down and say something threatening like ‘If you don’t shut the fuck up and leave.. we decide who are the terrorists. But I really started to apply it after I got … cut. “How did it happen?” Twenty-five years ago when I was twenty.. You know. They decide who the infidels are. Or was it Davis’s message weighed more because of his threat-potential.” Matt was learning Davis had a deep and intellectual side to him. “When did you develop this philosophy toward our enemy?” Matt caught Davis glancing at his own reflection in the mirror behind the bar. Leon took a cigarette from Matt’s pack without asking. “You ask. One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. “Two more Audrey. You crackers have no idea. A Yankee black and a southern black are like from two different planets.’ My buddy starts laughing and I turned my head to look over to him. “Anyway. It all depends on the point of view.” “It is funny. After a long pause Leon Davis began to answer the question Matt was looking for.. Matt was glad when he continued with the same story.” Number nine Matt counted. The arrogance that their God is the one with annihilating power. Both were feeling the eight previous. My dad was a doctor. the bible. Poor black and Hispanic. and I get into an argument with this old guy over his table and his snakeskin cowboy boots. it is textbook stuff.” Davis squirmed in his stool and settled back down. how did I develop the outlook to try to see the other person’s point of view? Well. But this conflict with Islam goes beyond freedom fighting. A small Mexican guy.” “Every day. It’s true. Then he remembered that Davis was not there to be his friend. FBI training. I am going to kick the shit out of your bean eating ass. After a brief pause he jerked his head back up and sniffed hard – nostrils flaring he continued.” Davis’s voice started to crack as he looked down at the bar. You ever been to Houston? It’s not the most affluent part of the town. “Americans used to be referred to as terrorists by the English. What is more arrogant than to be a jihadist and to die to evict “infidel” forces for your own God? Gods don’t need man’s help. The bartender took me aside and warned me not to mess with the dude. We go into this bar.” Matt lit his cigarette.. Davis puffed upward. Their Allah obliges the faithful martyr with 72 virgins for contributing in the vicious holy war against the unholy.” There was a long pause as if there was another story on that subject. “It was spring break and I was a junior. Islam vs. this guy had his knife .homes and religion against us as the invading terrorists. Me and a buddy were down in Texas..
“I’ve got the tab. Matt lifted his arm and smelled.” “I’m glad I didn’t have to waste those first two long-necks. Matt saw two men heading his way across the bar with pool-sticks in their hands. “Hey.don’t tip your hand and broadcast your threats. You too Jess. Except I will tell you one more thing to help. You used to play ball. Now. I’ll never forget the satisfied look in his eye as he looked up at me. He understood why Davis had spent so much time thinking about the meaning of that one event. Matt reached up and felt his own face. . Matt’s pleasant buzz was gone.” “Thanks. not now. “Let it go Jake.” Matt could tell from Davis’s snarling expression and tight shoulder posture that even after twenty-five years he was still wrestling with the “meaning”. If you look at it from that Mexican’s point of view I was extremely threatening towering over him that way.” The ruckus moved from the pool tables and headed in his direction. fermented adrenaline you are smelling. As he fumbled with pen and pencil he remembered a few days earlier saying he would never take notes from this ass-hole.. The look said ‘you ain’t so big now’. Then I’m headed out.. threaten him.” Davis stood up went to the bathroom without saying a word. I have everyday to figure out why it happened and why it got settled like that. Leon Davis was back and reaching for his wallet. Leon It was good talking with you. Regretting for the moment he was a peace officer he thought to himself.” That’s an even ten count he thought. and then turn and look away?” Matt smiled changing the subject. I am just here trying to solve the case and do what my brother asked. Point 3 – Never broadcast your intentions. please. As he left Matt dug furiously inside his coat to write down the lessons he had just heard. Preston. Matt could see from Davis that facial scars leave more lasting impact because of the visibility. al-Harbi is close to it. Matt spoke before he could open it.. He had been fighting with adrenaline rushes all day and he was drained.out and slices me like a watermelon. Halfway through his last beer Matt heard a ruckus break out in the direction of the pool tables. A woman screamed and Matt swung around on his stool. He was worried about the lacerations from the blast and hoped it wouldn’t leave scars. He hoped it would be over shortly and that he wouldn’t have to become involved. As Davis left.. “So. ain’t you Preston .” “Ok. “One more Audrey.. He heard a woman yell. And it did. Point 2 – Always look to see the opposing guy’s point of view.” Matt smiled. He could see a circle of people. “Hey ass-hole. “Yeah. Dead men can’t talk. surprise outweighs size in a conflict. but Terry’s interview with that dude.. Every morning shave and every single mother fucking time I drive a car. Then he bends over and wipes his knife on his boots. We should get the translation of your tape back from the Bureau tomorrow. It looked like a fight was starting.. Now what? he thought. One slice right on the face. I hope it tells us something.” Davis walked a few steps and turned slowly. Why did I ever get that close. remember I am not your friend. take a fucking bath. I am convinced it was a bunch of small guys that invented the gun. Every time I see a mirror.” “That is pure.from Peoria High.. ’78. Shrugged his shoulders and called out. Matt wrote: Leon’s Lessons Point 1 – Don’t underestimate smaller forces that are organized.. and slowly walks out like thatsettled-that.
” Matt looked over to a woman standing close for help. But Jake stepped in front.few days ago.. Chapter – 23 the Life … Friday A Day in MATT WAS RELEASED from the hospital the next day. ten stitches..It would have split it open like a pumpkin.” “Fuck you. Matt knew them from high-school... Well. Wife beatings. He worked every day takin’ care of the city parks. The last thing he wanted was a confrontation. If that guy would have swung straight down on the top of your head. He was hurting bad and nobody came around. he said what he thought would get him to the door and out to his truck the fastest.” “You cops come to my home and asked all kinds of questions ‘bout Pa. “Ah . They were standard questions. Matt did not want trouble and got up to leave..” As he spoke Matt saw a swinging motion from corner of his right eye.” Matt spread his arms with palms up and puffed up his chest.” “Look I just want to go home. It was late morning by the time he awoke.” Matt groaned in disagreement. He didn’t deserve what he got. Matt remembered she had been the caller and brunt of all the domestic disputes. He was in a talkative mood... the plague..” Matt reached for his right forehead and felt a warm mush of thick blood over his right eye. Ain’t that right?” It was Jess and Jake.” Matt was drunk and exhausted and wanted to finish the exchange and leave. “You’s a cop now? Ain’t cha? Yeah. It could have killed you easily. Jake and Jess were short. Jake looked up and staggered...” “I’m truly sorry about your dad.” Matt did not care much for the anatomy lesson. I’m Jake. “Hey.. A lot of people are loosing loved ones. No help there. He felt the right side of his head explode as he heard a woman’s scream. you come out busting up our peace all the time. you guys did it again. the details of what he was just told about the human skull would have a major impact on his life. trailer trash derelicts and he never paid them much respect. As if she done it to him or something. The Taggart twins. get out of my way. Again. he got his medical release by convincing the doctors he . You are going to need stitches.. “You got hit on the hard part of the skull. Matt thought. Now he’s cold and they come asking Ma all kinds of shit. “If you don’t get out of the way I am going to. Matt’s patrol-car knew the way by-heart to their trailer. I’ve seen it. Without thinking.. The doc will meet us at the ER.After that you was running with Skank’s gang.. To Matt. “Look. You know you are lucky... I’d say .. The ambulance medic that responded had been on the call that took Matt and Terry to the hospital after the explosion. Matt was tired.Man. Seemed like you took it pretty hard. Where was you when he was dying? Pa just did his job. Real proud of them fields.I heard the lady will be ok. However. “Ma’am can you do something? Talk to him?” The lady just showed some bad teeth and shrugged. I don’t give a fuck who you are. that wasn’t your fault the other day. you know the explosion. Matt was relieved as he placed his pool-stick down to steady himself. “Are you OK? The ambulance is on the way? Just lie still..” “Jess get out of my way. you ain’t sorry. and the future of the country. Especially as a physical threat. They were also always getting in trouble for domestic disputes. shit” as he rolled back down. I want to go home. “I ain’t Jess. . your head is gonna need ah. looking up at Audrey. This was the last thing he remembered until he awoke ten minutes later.. Pa died a week ago.
If you love a pet. that white trash bastard had added 10 stitches to the good side of his head. Then the sound of the collision was heard. Matt’s first inclination upon getting out was to do the same thing he did every morning. Matt remembered it well. The sight was sobering. and fellow officers. To top it all off last night. As bad as he was feeling. This marked the spot where Shannon’s husband and two children were hit and killed in a head-on collision. It was on a Saturday.was feeling better than he really was. The kids would be getting out from school early. His ear. and threw a lawn chair into the bed of his truck. Yoga was not his way. already gone. On the drive to his house he planned his day. Matt and approximately 30 others from the Fire Department were practicing extrication techniques using the Jaws of Life. He had wanted to ride his Harley but couldn’t because of the bandages to his head and ear. He would spend the morning by himself and then the afternoon with them. Matt needed to collect his thoughts and clear his head. His ribs were also sore from the point-blank shot to the vest. His whole life was a series of stages in pretending to be tough. Get up and go to help and serve the people. He would try to make it a Good Friday. Matt headed toward the river and out to the wooded area near Mossville. at a podium in front of friends. His spirits became uplifted. His nose was putty too after the punch by Davis. Matt started to reflect over his troubled situation. Across from the lush grass sat three crosses covered with wreathes of flowers. media. and arms were not wet any more but they still needed bandages. The destruction of the passenger compartment made all urgency futile. After her loss Shannon adopted a philosophy to visualize things that you value. and class was almost over. Time to meditate. Rapists win the lottery and devoted nuns die horribly. The driver of a fully loaded 18-wheeler had fallen asleep and crossed the median. who had earlier talked of life-saving techniques. it was OK with him on this morning. Then he remembered he was suspended from the police department. Now his job was in jeopardy and his relationship with Shannon was just a memory. Nothing else really mattered to him. The fast response time was to no avail. He grabbed his CD player with headphones. The Fireman. He was good at it. Matt bought a newspaper. bosses. False bravado. . Stopping at the corner store. He thought about Shannon and Sarah telling him how good yoga was for meditating. At home Matt collected notes from John Lawson’s seminar on crime-scene procedures to read. Nothing except his children. Matt also remembered the grief of the young mother as she arrived only to see a demonstration of the Jaws of Death. Halfway into the drive on Route 29 he passed the soccer fields. He was reminded on the radio this day was Good Friday. He lost it in public. a pack of Camels. so you don’t take it for granted. neck. Shannon did not deserve that tragic loss. It happened less that a half-mile from the Peoria Fire Academy during a training exercise. see it in your mind burned down. What had she done to deserve that? Matt concluded there is no justice in life. It really didn’t matter anymore. and twelve pack of Rolling Rock. He had lost it emotionally. The training had gone well and everyone was feeling good and somewhat cocky over what they had just practiced. Officers and Firefighters were already on the scene before the call-tones went out. This makes you appreciate it more. A man and two small children had been crushed so tightly in their van that it was now their coffin. slowly opened the vehicle to show Shannon the raw carnage of what had been her lively family earlier that morning. approximately noon. Instead of turning his normal direction into town. If you value your house. He was becoming numb to caring what other people thought of him.
. You will appreciate it more while it is alive. He could relate. Matt reflected that animals don’t care about being political correct. Matt was in a football game against the number one triple-A seated team in Peoria County. The thought of Marsha started his adrenaline pumping again and he lost his feelings for sleep. Matt figured they just played hard to win. Matt reminisced about an adrenaline fight-or-flight event that occurred earlier in his life.suddenly his grip on the wheel was so tight it made fresh finger indentations in the plastic. Adrenaline rushes. Then he watched the ants below his chair for a while.. Matt took a deep breath and tried to relax. Players from both teams flew into the air and out of the way of the exiting running back. He would not take his A. but not for sleeping. When it is time to run… beat feet. he picked out the player most likely to have started to twist his ankle and tore his helmet off. With super-human strength and full fury he exploded with arms and legs flailing until he was free of the pile.” Matt unfolded the lawn chair and placed it in a grassy clearing. Today Matt could let his mind wander. If she could not find it with him. Seeing the wreaths and remembering the tragic accident this day put Matt’s minor problems into perspective. Shannon was a strong woman. Especially that short little runt. Matt turned his attention to the books on crime-scene procedures. At least he didn’t fumble. He did not want to visualize life without his children. But if he ever got another chance he would be ready. Matt did not wish her to be with someone else. The sun was warm and good for sleeping. No. Matt laughed out loud as he thought about the relationship of his ex-wife Marsha and her wealthy prick-husband Stan. Still full of anger and adrenaline.. He dug into his backpack and pulled out the latest edition of Scientific American.D. Realizing the extent of damage that would be done to his ankle before the pile could unfold.. He watched two squirrels playing in the trees. The other team got what it wanted. Once into the open. The opponents were a team with a reputation for playing dirty.visualize it already dead. medicine and relax. he felt two hands grab his ankle. try as they may. Matt’s father embellished the fight-or-flight lesson with his saying “It is better to be a coward for thirty seconds than to be dead the rest of your life.Tony Mossimo. Matt wished she could find it with. Promoted and then suspended. Matt broke the facemask from the helmet like a body-builder tearing a phonebook. In exchange for the food the females would turn around and bend over to offer themselves up sexually to the male foodgiver. Matt concluded what he already knew well.. I need to chill out a little.D. Anthropologists studying the pack observed that males would search for food and bring it back to the females of the population. Matt was pinned at the bottom of the pile. Matt was ejected from the game and his team lost. And then he felt two more grab the same ankle and begin to twist. Matt wanted to sleep and knew he needed rest after his recent adrenaline rushes. As he waited for the pile to clear. humans are not far removed from the natural actions of animals. great for fightor-flight.. On an off-tackle play early in the game Matt carried the ball into the line and ended up on the bottom of a huge pileup. Matt tried to imagine what it must be like to be a parent and to lose a child. Matt and his fight-or-flight reflex did both. But he learned a valuable lesson and became forever in touch with his fightor-flight reflex. Matt drove down a dirt road for a quarter mile and pulled off into a secluded wooded area. Relaxing in the half reclined position he read an article on the social customs of the Binabowa monkeys of India. They just live simple programmed lives. She deserved to be happy. He focused hard and memorized them with renewed interest now that he was promoted to detective. Well. He concluded. maybe a lot.
“I’m her father.” Matt’s mind drifted to the girl Nadeen. really. Let’s go get Kelly. I gave you my fatherly advice. Dan saw his dad’s truck and walked up smiling trying to keep cool. Number nine. Kelly heard he father and ran to the front of the bus excited and smiling.” After the short drive to her elementary school Dan pointed out her bus. “How’s the arm. I’m not sure where to begin. Dan groaned and said to his sister condescendingly. Kelly giggled. It’s called ‘The Mouse That Roared’. It becomes a strong super-power because it has the bomb. I warned you. He parted it in the middle. “Well Dan.. “What authority do you have to pick her up? Her arm is hurt. “Well yeah.” After seeing his condition Kelly added “What happened. A mouse roaring”.Back at his house he tried to clean up as best he could without removing bandages. “I see you still got the eye pierce thing going. were you in a car crash?” “Well guys. here to pick up Kelly Preston.. Nadeen’s scarred and discarded body flashed into his mind and he was unsure how much to tell his children of what had happened in the recent days. Mom keeps babying me. “There. It has a nuclear bomb. what’s been going on with your job? Every time I see you. Matt smiled at the bus driver and spoke pleasantly. He joined the other parents picking up their kids from school and parked across from the line of busses. “She gets a police escort today. Do you know that story? I’m the professor.. princess?” “I am fine.” In defense of his daughter. “Kelly.” Matt was taken back by the questioning and fought back his anger. I’m Mr. I enjoy the hell out of it. The mouse is a small country that develops a nuclear bomb. You look like a street person.D. “Dad.” Matt was surprised that his son took an interest in theatre but thought it would be good for his self-esteem. Matt decided to use discretion and not talk about the violence. His hair was matted with fluids from his head-wound and wrapped with stained gauze. are you guys comfortable getting up in front of people?” Dan responded proudly. “Daddy!” She swung up in his arms and they walked off. It is a parable. She is probably waiting inside. Oh well.” Kelly responded with a pout and looked at her father for help. Hey. That is where the title of the play comes from.” On the drive home Dan asked a concerned question. He said in a loud tone meant to show disapproval at the question.” Matt shaking his head added. “Excuse me. “That’s a funny show. She had lived in a life of mines and bombs. “Hey dad. as best as he could without putting a comb through it. it is a metaphor.” He whipped out his police badge.” Matt parked the truck and walked to the open door of the bus. Dan you want to tell it?” . here’s my I. Kelly. not a cop” as he slammed the door behind them. Matt looked at the bandage on Kelly’s arm.” The bus driver looked at his injuries and after a longer than necessary delay the driver suspiciously asked. walked up the steps of the bus and shoved it in the driver’s face. Metaphors and all. I tried out for a play and got the lead part in the school production.” “Well you don’t have to get rude. Preston. like most Americans. what’s up?” “I wanted to see you guys this afternoon. Matt turned and smiled to the bus driver.. “The mouse doesn’t actually roar. let’s start with the story of the ‘Lion and the Mouse’. has no understanding of the evils that men do. The he drove to school to pickup his children. That’s what the roaring is. “I don’t understand. you have more bandages and cuts. you know that is some pretty complex stuff for a second-grader.
” “OK. “Is this a test?” “Yeah. Soon the men will return to take the lion to his fate. heh. ‘I will not forget you..” Kelly clapped. Well the lion. I never thought about that.. dad.. Matt looked down smiling and saw tears in . After I tell the story. He thought about the beating of Davis’s brother that left him crippled.” They all laughed at the imitation and Kelly became excited she was going to hear a story. Matt’s thoughts drifted back to poor Nadeen.” Matt snapped out of the sobering thoughts and pulled into the driveway.” Matt thought Kelly was responding to the empathy she felt for the mouse. Congratulations on your upcoming acting debut.a powerful animal with big teeth and no natural enemies. I am the King of the Jungle. the mouse bit through the net and freed the huge lion. “Well guys. “So these men come and capture the lion in a net. starts laughing.” Matt demonstrated with a quit snatch of his hand and then said in low lion-like voice. Daddy. The lion laughed so hard he could not think of killing the source of the joke. “I wanna hear about the roaring mouse. “Please. the tiny mouse appears. Heh.” Matt’s mind drifted and he thought of what Davis had warned him about. so huge compared to the mouse. it’s OK. “Dad. but remember a parable is a simple story that has a deeper meaning too.you tell it. All of the other animals try to get the lion out but can’t get through the thick net to free him.again. So the mouse says.Dan answered in a voice from the Beavis and Butthead cartoon. What do you have to say for yourself before I eat you?” Kelly lifted her brows and her eyes got big. he’s a friendly lion.” Matt saw Marsha walking toward them and knew he had to cut the story short.. “Ahhhh. Just then. The lion reached out a grabbed the tiny mouse.are you alright? We are almost home. “Dan.. I am here to save you. Isn’t that right Dad?” Matt thought about his suspension and ducked the subject.” Kelly looked down and became quiet. “You woke me.. “OK. you should be an actor. Do not forget me. Matt’s wandering mind returned to the sounds of his children’s voices. not so scary. The blunder caused the lion to wake up angrily..” Dan still playing around. he thought about the sleeping terrorist cells in America and about Tony and his brother. One day the lion was sleeping and a mouse accidentally ran across his paw. small guys.. “Hey Daddy.. . ‘If you do not kill me. I promise I will forever be your servant and will protect and serve you’. let’s see if you follow the other meaning. Big commitments come from small people too’. ‘I heard your call. ‘That is so funny’ said the lion still laughing. that’s another story. Do not underestimate him. just like the mouse.’ The mouse was serious and as he left he said proudly to the lion.” Matt paused to reflect. “The police car is dad’s old job. OK… There was a lion. He knew he only had a little time before Marsha would come out to regain custody. the King of the Jungle? I will let you go free. “Yeah Kelly.. I don’t think I can remember all of it... And as everyone knows the lion is the king of the jungle . The lion ran off just in time before the men came to get him. Let me finish one at a time.’ The lion was doubtful of the mouse’s ability. “Quickly as you can say there’s your mom. that is what is written on your police car.” Dan proudly clarified to his sister. The lion can’t get out so he roars and roars.. you are right. to see if you can keep quiet and let me tell the story to your sister. He became alarmed and paused in thought.” Proud of his storytelling. Time is running out for the lion. I am proud. Protect and Serve. no enemies except man.” Kelly interrupted. Oh Great King. “So the mouse said ‘If you let me go I will be your servant and vow to always look out for you’. Now Dad is a Lieutenant and drives a regular car for Detectives. ‘How could a tiny mouse ever be in a position to help a great lion like me..
I’m just a fuck-up. Shannon. but Matt was in need of a place to hangout and be himself. Right now. “Come on Kelly. “I’m scared of big teeth. He rode in a convertible as the honored hero. I’m pretty busy being on suspension. how insensitive. Kelly and Dan. “Happy Easter to you too. Next to him sat his parents. “You bastard. children.you insensitive bag of self-proclaimed macho shit. flowers and ladylike things.Kelly’s eyes.. Then he heard the cry of a frightened little girl. Exhausted and dejected. it’s OK. But then he had the idea it could be Shannon and gave it his full attention.. On the drive home. here it comes. it’s your father just checking in to see how things are going. A place where he could put his feet on the table. As he reflected on how bad things were going he said to himself. At first he thought it was happy tears that the mouse saved the day. Sorry dad. The very last thing he wanted was to make her cry.” Then he rolled up the window.” Marsha heard her daughter’s cry and charged up to the open truck window just in time to hear the ending of Kelly’s explanation. They all looked up with raised arms smiling at the thick confetti falling from the sky in honor of Lieutenant Matt Preston. I’m gonna have that Tony Mossimo guy testify to your neglect. He could see Kelly still looking down rubbing her eyes as he looked back to the road. it is just a story. “Yeah. you can’t. waved to the children and slowly drove away.” Dan chided. and lions. Jerry was a close friend but his house was too domestic. Mom. Thanks for picking us up dad. Matt looked down at his precious daughter. Marsha. Can’t you tell she is still traumatized from the dogs? No. “Oh brother. He was in need of some adult companionship and a place to unwind. Matt fantasized of being in a ticker-tape parade. forget the story. “Kelly. He thought it was probably Marsha continuing her threats and didn’t want to listen. How stupid. I am so sorry. Give us a call when you get the chance.” Matt said sarcastically. “I didn’t think it would frighten you. See you. we better go. honey.” His father’s voice sounded proud.. “Hey son. I am not a good father. that was a scary story. smoke cigarettes and chill without any judgments being placed on him. He thought of his old friend and brother of Shannon… Jimmy “the Slacker” . how could I not sense her feelings? Poor Kelly. I know you are busy being a Lieutenant and all.” “What is it honey?” Matt asked softly. How dare you tell your daughter stories of lions with big teeth. .” Dan said knowingly as he took his sister by her good arm. you. A place he could go to talk things out and get some feedback. Having to vocalize her fear Kelly cried louder. You will be lucky to get any custody with your children when I’m through with you. things were not going well for him. big dogs. The sun was just calling it quits for the day. He thought of Shannon and his foreclosed dreams of becoming engaged to her. Matt had one message on his answering machine. Matt laid down for long-needed sleep. drink beers. Matt beat himself up pretty badly. Chapter 24– ENLIGHTENED BUZZ Friday Evening MATT WOKE AT 7:30pm that evening. That was good in its place.. Come on Kelly.” Matt tried to ignore Marsha as she began her assault. Daddy. Before drifting off.” Matt wanted to make his parents and children proud. dad just told a children’s fable. I will have your balls in a vice when our case goes to court.
“Yeah sure… the . Would you go buy them for me?” The two started laughing. Pulling into the parking lot Matt spotted two young men hanging out by a car smoking cigarettes. He got out his jeans and put on his old biker boots with the square toe and three straps joined with a metal ring. Then he remembered the request for some pot-rolling papers. She got back to the phone and said. the word wild means adventuresome or rebellious. He combed his wet hair. but really too young for anyone to consider a relationship with. But I can’t inhale. She was cute. The two teenagers had buzz-cuts and looked physically fit even through their baggy jeans. She had always had a crush on her older brother’s friend. Cast away your enslavement to civilization. You want to join us?” “I would love to join you. Matt asked. Slack could always be counted on for an insightful. He could imagine the talk that would go around after his suspension mixed with a sighting of buying rolling papers used for marijuana. See ya later tonight. Matt phoned Slack’s house and got Daisy.” looking toward Matt. Matt. He drove to the Ben’s Carryout to pick up some beer for himself. They had run around on the fringes of trouble with the law but always managed to stay clean. Bigfoot lives. if they have’em. “Would one of you guys do me a favor? I have an uncle with glaucoma and he asked me to pick up some rolling papers. Shannon entered into a marriage with a good provider and husband. Matt got into his Chevy truck noticing it still needed a good cleaning. Matt knew it would not look good to stroll in and buy a pack of Zigzags rolling papers. Slack had known Matt as Mange back in his “running days” as a biker. “Yeah. Matt reflected the meaning of the word “wild” in the Steppenwolf song “Born to be Wild. To him wild meant wild like the animals. The physical attraction between the two was mutual and unchained. As he got out of his truck he heard one of them say “Hey dude look. To Slack’s friends she was just his little sister. The rest was the magnificence of nature. and usually different.” “OK. When they were around each other.” Matt rolled his eyes as he hung up the phone wondering what he had gotten himself into. grateful it was still thick and full. Slack says we need some rollin’ papers. these days the song is probably more identified with a soft-drink commercial than any original meaning. Ben’s brother owns the target range that the police use for shooting practice and both brothers are close friends of everyone on the police force. thanks. The one that made the “big-foot” comment seized the opportunity in the request. It felt good to put on something comfortable again. Slack had seen both Matt and Shannon suffering from grief and loneliness and brought them together. Matt pretended not to hear the comment and walked over to them. point of view. Thanks. Eventually giving up on any hope of being with Matt. He could hear John Kay singing in his head Get your mota runnin’.Fitzgibbons. Then again. so tonight we were just gonna twist one up and lay back. Hell with it was his mood. I’ll do my best. Slack had seen Matt get married to Marsha and start a family.” To most people. Slack used to joke about needing to throw a bucket of cold water onto the both of them to cool them down. “Hey what’s going on tonight?” “Well my Ex has the kids this weekend. He knew Matt during the bad side of his marriage and through the light at the other end. Zigzags wide pack. That light had been his sister Shannon. They had shared a wonderful life until that fateful day when her husband and two daughters were taken from her. Can I pick you guys up anything on the way over?” Matt could hear Daisy yelling to Slack over the phone. Matt jumped in the shower in a symbolic purification of the events of the day.
“Mange.” “Well it’s been a long time since you had your long hair and fu-man chu. do not be on the streets drinking or I will kick your fucking asses sideways. I’ll do it. “I’m glad to be here. Hip huggers with exposed bellies. Matt figures nobody hangs with their drinking buddies when they have a lady waiting somewhere. you got yer old stompin’ boots on. Why would anyone want to have a relationship with a person like me when I can’t even keep up with chores? Who assigns the chores? Society? Slack certainly didn’t get a copy of the work-list.” Slack continued.” “Have you been mauled lately? I mean been to the mall lately? The guys look different than we did. He is tight with the cops and doesn’t cut anyone any slack.” . The guy that killed Shannon’s husband and daughter was fifty-two. You just don’t look the same. Give up the hair. tight bellbottoms. It wasn’t well kept like Shannon’s house.thing is. she just had her leg amputated and she is in need of some beer so we can cauterize the wound. “In fact it’s been a long time since you had any hair. she was pretty sweet on him too. Would you buy it for her?” Matt grinned at the humor and asked. but don’t be drinking it on the streets?” “Don’t worry dude we are heading to our old ladies’ place. “Hey Woodstock is dead. trying to meet girls.” as he bowed and opened his arms sarcastically. You can serve in the military at eight-teen but can’t buy beer.” Matt didn’t believe it. “Remember what I said. “Zigzags”. at the end of the night if they don’t get the action. they are drunk and numb. Daisy answered the door and easiness passed over Matt as he saw her. And tonight Matt was living proof of his theory. The fuckin Ben dude won’t sell us any. Before the boys drove off Matt reminded them in his practiced voice of authority. Matt thought The average life expectancy of people in 600BC was only eighteen. come in. Then. From the front door Matt could see Slack’s house and yard was in disrepair. but it is funny the chicks dress the exact same as when we were in high school. There is a person for everybody. Daisy was perfect for Slack and vice versa. they would not be hanging around in a parking lot. They were only twenty. But he figured they could handle six beers each.” Matt smiled and rubbed it in. Slack waved from the couch. I have this Aunt. That’s all she could talk about for days. thanks. ‘it’s been a while’.” “Yeah. Low. We aren’t old enough to buy it. “Why. Female action is first. “Mi casa es su casa. with Ben none the wiser of the American barter-system at work out in his parking lot. and my son couldn’t take his eyes off her. I still miss the goat-tee and long-hair look. “Bud Light”.” “Just good Irish genetics. Even at night he could see big clumps of weeds forming a pattern of disarray around the sidewalk. Come in. The exchange went down as planned. how old are you guys?” “We are only twenty. Beers would be down on the list of activities for the night. Alcohol is the substitute. If that were true. She wants to get her eye pierced like him.” Matt didn’t believe the story back at Ben’s that those guys had a place to go where their girls were waiting. The when Matt was eight-teen.” Daisy was enjoying the banter and interjected. The typical routine is for guys to drink all night long in bars. A twelve-pack of beer for marijuana rolling papers.” “Hey. It helps the dejection. Now that’s an ‘only’. the clutter in his room and his own yard. the law allowed him to buy beer and he could handle it. Matt thought it was strange how many laws of society were made to control people’s actions.” “Sure. He thought about his own wrinkled clothes and unmade beds. they exchanged. Matt knows alcohol is the secondary choice.” “Your daughter Rachel certainly had her look together the other day.
It smoked really smooth. “Hell no. Daisy was interested to hear Matt’s side. Concentration was hard enough without the confusion of being burnt-out and having pot in his system. Is Kelly all right?” “Yeah she’s ok. I got’em. She and her group of girls were pioneers. guess who I ran into today?” Slack said excitedly. “Need a beer?” She was already up and halfway to the kitchen before Matt could answer. And that’s why I’m here. You probably read about the shit-storm brought on by my wrong conclusion. She and Slack knew there was trouble in the relationship. “Is that your 8-track we are listening to?” “No.” “She taught me to spread hash-oil on rolling paper before rolling a joint. “She was ahead of her time you know that?” “Well. Slack joined in with an ornery laugh. Looking back. that was nuts.” Changing the subject away from Matt’s self pity Slack asked.” Matt and Daisy groaned in agreement.” Matt was referring to drug test policy of the police department. “I guess you had to be there. I’m on suspension. I’ll have one. took a drag on his cigarette to give him time to think where to begin.. Just what I need is more problems at work.” Daisy leaned forward interested. All beat to hell.” “You ever gonna get a CD player?” Matt said as he finished his third beer. “Ladies first. Matt’s rules.“At least it’s not tattoos. “My new job has turned out pretty shitty too. The room looked like a museum of 1970’s paraphernalia. what would I roll on?” as he reached for Peter Frampton Comes Alive double. and pop of that fine vintage vinyl.” “Hey dude. He took a big drag and talked as he held his breath.” “Yeah. Anybody want to join me?” “Yeah. I understand. Slack still laughing “Yeah. I remember. “Debbie Holland. crackle. Boy.” she sighed. Shannon told me about the suspension. my relationship with Shannon is in the shitter.” Matt said as finished his fourth beer and lit up a Camel. a lot of us did lose our virginity to her.with a fruity flavor. Daisy didn’t know the reason for their laughs but she had an idea by the tone. She was back in flash and settled back down as Slack passed her what remained of the smoke. Slack passed one to Daisy and said. She taught me to make a hash pipe out of an apple and aluminum foil. He looked around the house as he made his way to the smoking den. can’t you hear the snap. duty and all.” Matt smiled and laughed loudly. bean-bag chairs and incense sticks filled the room. black-lights.” With emphasis on the there. that. to understand. folding album and opened it across his lap. that was strong. Slack rolled up two large joints that Matt could tell was made from some pretty strong redbud. Society’s rules. Matt joked with him as he parted the hanging beads that divided the hall from the den. Falsely accusing the owner-editor of the newspaper of murder has a way of making it to the headlines. She didn’t tell mom. . “The man has decided this plant is ok for me to smoke. and a whole lot of guys have been there.. sorry about what happened to your daughter. Matt took a long swig on the fresh bottle and continued. Matt howled.” “Smells good. Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland blared from the stereo.” “One night she crushed up PCP and rolled it in a joint. I can’t join you though. She was a crazy bitch.” “Hey. But I mean in other ways. Lava lamps. “Well. “Sorry.” Daisy coughed and passed the joint to Slack. Hey. As he lifted the case of beer.” Matt hesitated.” “Yeah. “So what’s the latest with you big-guy? You look terrible. You get the papers?” “Yeah. Matt knew he needed to focus with all of his abilities on his new position in the Department.
I guess. I laid-out my theory in front of the whole city. What if the disease is spread from toilet paper? And it gets absorbed up the ass. I told you they were pioneers.” Slack smiled at the interest and leaned forward. is that most of the victims have non-office jobs.” “Wow.. She would come back out staggering. I never … thought of it. “Exactly. Down where the nutrients are absorbed. Na.” Slack was lighting the last of the joint held with a roach-clip. She turned to Slack and asked. I thought it was the tissue-paper made by Validor. “Nobody has thought of this?” Slack shook his head. It was like spreading my legs in an alley fight. I thought I figured out the mystery of the spreading plague? Some guy.the poison is not swallowed.. added “Back to Debbie Holland and her gang… she would take a pill and go into the bathroom and stick it up her butt.” Matt looked at the ceiling pensively and settled down. That’s why we couldn’t find the source in their homes.” He then smiled proudly. He took a long toke and held his breath. They crossreferenced shopper-cards to eliminate that.” Matt still serious continued. “What? What is it Matt?” “Did Shannon tell you. talking through the smoke with two small coughs.. It would hit them instantly. The fumble of all . “What would she do? Repeat that. She and her buddies were not content to just take the pill and wash it down with a drink. By the time the eyes start bleeding the whole alimentary canal is infected.” Slack suggested logically. that would be an easy way to pass diseases. They told me that was one of the first things they checked. That is pretty profound.. Think of my splash-guard paranoia. “I’m stoned and it makes sense bro.” “I’m not stoned and it makes sense. “No shit. that was too main-stream. He could not face telling this story after what had happened at the meeting the other day. said the company’s name ‘Validor was evil… the source of terror’. I thought the Kleenex had been tainted with the poison. Easiest way to get exposed. “There would be soapers.” Matt and Daisy looked at each other and roared with laughter. The place of ingress gets obscured. “Bingo. Matt leaned over to Daisy with his thumb pointed sideways toward Slack.” “Yeah. it is up the ass. quick on a follow-up memory. It’s not in their homes. I remember that. “Like that. “Another anal fixation of Slack’s? What. After a pause he exhaled. and 714’s both Rorers and Lemons. she didn’t have her splashguard on?” Stoned and smiling. Anyone could walk in and swap the good roll with a tainted one.” Matt clapped his hands and spoke excitedly. They would stick the pill up their bung-hole so it would go directly into the bloodstream. you catch it. That forces them to use public restrooms.“Do you remember how you would go to parties on campus and walk in and the host would have a plate full of pills for your selection? The 70’s were great. And that blew my theory all to hell. You would think the Feds would have thought of that early on. “But what if it wasn’t tissue-paper absorbed from the nose. Both Slack and Daisy noticed the mood change. Spock? The FBI must have thought of that. quaaludes. before he was murdered.” Daisy got a serious look on her face.” Matt went from laughing into a silence.” Slack.” “And by the time they got out of the bathroom they were high?” Daisy asked in disbelief. Daisy sensed another good laugh and prompted Slack to continue.” Matt said as he looked at the ceiling struggling to fill in the memory. actually your sister picked up on it.” Slacked snapped his fingers to signify fast. I just can’t believe the Feds haven’t thought of this. “Opinion Mr. “Yeah. When you blow your nose. “Well they did. Fuck yeah. The stomach is taking ‘the long way home’. One common factor we turned up.
As he drove Matt strangled the steering wheel and found himself in another adrenaline rush.fumbles. Chapter 25 – Progress Meeting Saturday SATURDAY MORNING. He took the bottle and raised it to Slack.” Matt finished his beer and was going to leave but reconsidered. Daisy returned and handed the beer to Matt. he was suspended. He was looking forward to the additional beers when he got home. I have talked to her and I just know on a womanly level that she is just finding some distance to collect her thoughts. The subject matter was brutal. his opinion carried zero credibility. Just have faith and trust in her good judgement. What did he have to lose? . you are not going to lose Shannon to some other guy. No warm woman to snuggle up to. when you got nothin’ you got nothin’ to lose. no job. “and to Debbie Holland. Kong. The meeting was to start at 8:00 am. “Matt. not taking a test-drive. He believed he knew the source of the plague. He remembered the comment Jerry made about Shannon and Tony out at dinner “they make a cute couple”. suspended. What did it matter. Perfectly proportioned for Shannon’s size-2 hard body. The voices in his head were not being nice. what did Daisy mean by that? Was she stoned or what. He planned to drink more when he got home. No credibility. She just needs to compare… to figure it out. How could he face the department to tell them his theory? After the mistake with Billington and his performance at the last progress-meeting. Go in? Go to his desk? Go to the meeting? Lose his shit again in front of everybody? Matt’s self-esteem was at an all time low. to put things in perspective. Besides. He leaned back and lit up another cigarette. Checking his watch Matt calculated he would be late. Daisy lit some sticks of strawberry incense and sprung up. he was on the bench now. “Beers?” David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust played in the background. And sometimes it takes the company of another person. Just an idea that made sense. no girlfriend. MATT headed to the station for the second progress meeting. He sat in the truck contemplating what to do. Matt started to remember Tony’s perfectly proportioned body. her personal body-guard weren’t cute together? He couldn’t help but wonder did two people of closer size share more intimacy by being eye to eye? Could a man closer to a woman’s size make love better? Could that connection be more fulfilling to her sexually? What is it about French and Italian men that women refer to when they talk about good lovers? Whatever it is. Needs to compare. “I know you and Shannon are going through some tough times. You guys are both pioneers. sometimes another guy. I just want to say.” He took a hard swig and finished. it took a stoner and slut to figure out the mystery that eluded every Suit-wearing Fed in the country. He had no place to go. Bigfoot.” ON THE DRIVE home Matt thought about Daisy’s words. Would he be allowed in the meeting at all? After what happened at the last meeting would he be allowed in the building? He pulled into the parking lot and drove to the rear area. Matt knew that an oversized Irish lush like himself was not the prize that women talk about.” Daisy said softly as she handed him the beer. Shannon is not buying a car. “Here’s to you and your splash guard.” “If it is true. She loves you and just needs to compare to figure it out. Another beer was in order. What would she compare? Matt was not numb enough. Matt reasoned. Did that mean he and Shannon weren’t cute together? She and her giant escort.
Matt noticed the attendance of the meeting was about half of the last one. The following is the interpretation from the Language Center. We will bury you. We are at your door. Wilson recapped the information from the last meeting. People have families and lives. He got out and locked his door. the deceased girl’s translations.” Matt was hurt that he was not involved in the results of the translation. not yet developed. He gobbled four aspirin and smiled to himself at the handiness of the water-cooler. He could see Jerry sitting in the same location as last meeting. His head itched from the stitches he had received at Earl’s Bar. He did not like what he saw. Oh yes. No guest speaker.. On his way to the desk he wondered what Davis was up to. On the way. Allah has provided guidance and courage to poison our enemies. Other meanings may exist. at least. I am Matt Preston. it was also determined that Kleenex is not the source of the infection. He was uncomfortable with that image and changed his mind.” . This meant there was no new information. from the FBI. Where was he? Wilson said. The translation was addressed to Agent Leon Davis and marked URGENT. The following is when she stopped talking. Personal vacation? Did Davis have a life? When he got to his table he spotted his message light blinking. Matt walked past the doorway and heard Chief Wilson say that Agent Davis was not present because he was on special assignment. And I will kick your ass if you give me a problem. Not found yet. He left the meeting and headed to his makeshift office. Mayor Colletti was sitting in the front finishing the remaining donuts two at a time. Matt was envious. It hit home. He figured that the day before Easter was the reason. Yeah. He searched the room but could not find Shannon. He planned to go to his desk. At least someone was courteous to make it available to him. America will take it up the ass. Bauer informed us that a vaccine. The message read: ============================== Please note: many Arabic words do not translate directly into English. he passed the meeting room and couldn’t help but take a quick look as he passed the door. He tried to focus on who he was. This made him ready. check for messages. We have the results of the Arabic translation from the interview between Agent Mattocks and the man the day before his murder. He checked his look in the window out of habit. He hoped it was remembered that four people had been killed and two others injured from that interview.” Wilson glanced at Matt and continued. He would visualize on who he wants to be. and get some aspirin at the convenient water cooler. “Last meeting we learned that a common link of the plague has not been found. Matt found a copy of the tapetranslation in his IN Box. VERBAL TRANSLATIONDetermined to be Pakistan dialect: We are in concurrence with the accuracy of Nadeen’s. No Davis.. I live simple and carefree. “Dr. 8:12am. who gives a flying fuck what people think. Wilson picked up a sheet of paper. “This just in. suspended is suspended.He looked at his watch. will take 18 months to administer. He gives us the Validor flowers of poison. Your aggressive ways will end by Allah’s hand. Wilson was at the podium. He looked down and shook his head. You are too late. Did anyone at the department know of the incident or even care? His reflection in the window helped him decide to skip the meeting.” Matt was sure that comment was directed at him. He stood outside the door listening for a short while and then peered in. “You have invaded our land and contaminated our ways with the stench of your arrogance. This caused Matt to stop and continue listening.
“I had a friend check on that Tony Massimo. Right in the middle of the revenge and Allah’s words it reads “America will take it up the ass”. She had been a bright spot in his life. We have activated a sweep to pick him up. But then again. In fact. Her beautiful face mutilated under his command.EDITORIAL COMMENT: We do not agree with her assertion that Mr. Our records on Mister Massan place him as a viscous KHAD agent.” He was risking more than a metaphoric skinned knee here. but doubted it under the circumstances. Message number 2: “Hey Matt. His immigration was so early. No wonder he was killed. Teddy “bear” Armbruster did it. Matt’s spirit turned remorseful again and moved on to the next message. It was too much for him to keep to himself. At the risk of further public disgrace. Your instincts are keen. al-Harib was conducting Islamic prayers. Matt remembered Terry telling him that the FBI only has 21 people fluent in the Islamic language. The guy told us how his “friends of Allah” have been doing it. I just want you to know I don’t think you had anything to do with my accident. Matt could not shake the guilt of her being injured during his watch.” He felt like he had just been hit in the stomach with a sledge-hammer. He memorized the content but also enjoyed hearing her sultry voice in good spirits. Matt thought back to his toilet paper theory conjured with Slack the previous night. WRITTEN TRANSLATION – Writing on the wall in blood: “Allah’s will above all others” “Your Alpha Empire is finished” FBI Language Department Washington. Matt read it twice. “It is better to skin your knee. To somebody who would listen. His head pounded as he put the receiver to his least wounded ear. He felt he needed to present his findings to the group. From the back of the room Matt yelled politely. Are you ready for this? We found a person with his mug that disappeared after entry. Anyway thought you should know. he thought back on his father’s words of wisdom. its Terry Mattocks calling from the hospital. Matt wondered if any of the translators that were fluent in Arabic thought this was odd. Italian Tony Massimo entered the US as Tohir Massan… from Pakistan. he wasn’t on our recent list to interview. Parts of the translation supported his theory. than to be afraid of falling. Message number one: “Hi Matt.S. for eight years. Matt went into the adjacent bathroom and grabbed a roll of toilet paper. you and your Kevlar-vest saved my life. They were the feared secret police back in the former Afghan communist regime. His defense mechanisms were no match for his guilt.” Matt listened to the message three times in a row. what did he have to lose? A day in jail at the most. DC. He became excited that the translation made reference to anal entry of the disease. I have some . With the FBI translation in-hand he strode into the meeting room and interrupted Colletti in mid sentence. I was there and clearly remember what happened. A straight-jacket? Crazy is as crazy does. When we checked records of his arrival. He hoped it would be Shannon. The dude is dirty. He noticed the profanity seemed out of context. “Excuse me. He wondered whether more than one person even listened to the tape during Easter holiday. so don’t beat yourself up over it. Have a Happy Easter!” Matt’s spirits soared from the message. The blinking red on his phone caught his attention again. The familiar voice of the answering machine notified him of two messages waiting. it’s me again. Matt had to confront his demons and speak to the group again. He was amused at finding another benefit for having his desk close. You are a class act. we came up blank. He has been in the U. Matt you were right about him.
shook it slowly. Darrel Billington stood and yelled to the Mayor. “Preston. and it goes directly into the intestinal tract. “It could have been the Kleenex into the eyes and nose.. It bounced off the podium and came to rest at the feet of the Mayor.” Everyone in the room turned to see the source of the interruption. Colletti was fuming and looking like a poster-child to become a stroke victim...” Colletti boomed. still at the podium. With the new information on Tony. “Hey partner. As they left the YMCA the sky began to darken.” Reporters were writing frantically. delivery people.S.E. We ARE taking it up the ass you fool. “You know what you say makes sense. She couldn’t remember even being in a car with another man.” He held up the sheet of paper and continued.very important information to share with this group. Get him out of here. People who use the toilet paper become infected by wiping the poison into themselves..” Matt no longer felt like he was speaking to the group and became relaxed and lucid. ready to multiply!” He yelled the last words in a carefree manner as he threw the roll to the front of the auditorium.First you think it was the Kleenex and now toilet paper. A crazy Cro-Magnon. that’s what he is.” Jerry turned and spoke to Matt in a sympathetic and comforting tone.” Matt smiled to see his partner had understood what he said.” Startled at the profanity. to public rest-rooms. are you OK? Is your head bothering you? You don’t look well..” Seeing he wasn’t getting through with his message. She noticed how clean .” They looked at each other and at the same moment and said “detectives. “I told you a week ago he was loony.. Matt’s first priority was to warn Shannon. But one wipe with this. that translation is just an expression. attempted to regain order. He grabbed Matt’s good arm and gestured for them to leave. Terrorists have distributed toilet paper tainted with C. Other than Matt. “The pubic distribution of the poison explains why it shows up more in traveling jobs. Matt unrolled three feet of the paper he was holding. Jerry did not want to stick around to see his injured buddy mix it up with dutiful police. After the session they headed for a bite to eat. SHANNON DECIDED TO take the day off and miss Saturday’s progressmeeting so she could attend a special morning yoga session with Tony. Wilson.” Matt hung his head. A cold front was entering the area causing dark clouds to roll in. I have figured out the point of entry of the plague. Officers arrest this man.. Truckers.. a stir of negative murmur rustled from the audience. Colletti. “I’m fine Jerry.” It did make sense. “The translation of the taped interview offers some new insights into the point of entry of the disease... It unrolled in a long streamer like a banner of exclamation.. “The translation says the murdered man told us ‘Americans will take it up the ass’. Colletti turned red and yelled. Tony was the first person she had been with in four years. Damn it. Matt began to feel the anxiety from the attention and he fought to ignore it.public servant. The combination created a curtain of cold darkness that coincided with the beginning of their lunch-date. do something. and said “John Lawson. I’ll have your job. Embarrassed in front of the media. During her earlier stretching Shannon reflected that she started seeing Matt as a comforting friend shortly after the death of her husband and children. “This is an outrage Preston. She enjoyed having a gentleman open her car door. Matt spotted Wilson organizing a group of officers to extricate him from the room. public bathrooms. Jerry mumbled to himself pensively as he grasped the deeper meaning of what Matt had said.
How to instill a psychological terror to the citizens of the United States. As she slowed down she lost balance and had a frightening fall. “Why do you ask?” “I don’t know. She was overtaken by the scene of the huge and powerful man being so tender with the little girl. I guess. hair. Women in America are like wayward sheep. the guy I saw you with seems very insensitive. take them to a restaurant. Shannon looked over at the handsome driver. They are misguided without the wisdom of the Koran. Returning from her flash-back.” she said pleased with the ability to choose. She had difficulty trying to imagine it. we all have our own ways about us. His leaders had instructed him on Phase Two of his operation. He appreciated how attractive she was. Her death would expose America to the high level of terroristic infiltration that exists in the country. She tried to visualize Tony with children. I’ll turn mine off too. A lesson to all of the evil empire for forcing yourself into our territory where you are not wanted. He easily understood how the cop Preston had affection toward this woman. Tony chose a different Italian restaurant than his date with Melissa. I’m going to turn off my cell phone so we are not interrupted. have you ever had a steady girlfriend?” “No. There would be no denying that the enemy is already here. That overgrown dolt needed a painful punishment. you Jane’.” She laughed. He slipped Shannon the date drug in her wine the same way as with Melissa. “Tony. the smell of new leather and a hint of tissue paper perfume. lack of fat.” Tony smiled to Shannon. “You are so sweet. don’t we? Hey. This lesson would be directed to America. a few muscles. Tony looked forward to punishing him by using her. where are we headed for brunch?” “Your call. Tony looked at Shannon and smiled. Tony turned to Shannon and with puppy-dog eyes asked with concern. her memories continued. Tony thought how predictable American women are… so easily impressed. She did not dress provocatively like the others girls he had to punish. take them home. not really. Her beauty was healthy and natural. the evil empire. Good sublimation. “Did you ever feel smothered in a relationship? As if you were a possession rather than a person?” Shannon enjoyed the intellectual sensitivity of his question. She was in her midthirties but had the skin. A fancy car. and smile of a teenager. She was complimented that he would tell her something intimate. He let loose and she glided away with a proud grin ear to ear. “My yoga fills the void nicely. The sight of Matt’s truck littered with fast food wrappers and empty coffee cups crossed her mind. Matt ran over and scooped the crying girl into his large bearlike arms.” “Italian food sounds great. Jihad Joe and Jihad Jane are here! . This lesson would be different however. Here. Wake up again America. and then they will provide sex. However. One that would surpass the destruction of the World Trade Center. My studies and work take the priority in my life. I have been celibate for many years” he offered. she thought the subject was a little out of place coming from someone who had never been in a relationship. She hesitated before answering. As they drove.” Shannon was surprised at the comment and redirected the conversation. She had visited Matt on a weekend when he had custody of Dan and Kelly. It was the first time Kelly had gotten her training wheels off her bike. Shannon remembers it was at that point her friendship with Matt turned to love. Matt ran behind her to stabilize the start of her maiden voyage. body. Like ‘me Tarzan. “Well. a few drinks. The cold-front was upon them and a hard rain started. And speaking of call.the car was.
Double-ply. To relieve his worry he filled his mind with his theory on the source of the plague. body. To cushion the poison. not healthy. “Yes. See you at 5:30. “Allah favors us with additional hostages. As he lifted her. Ramid met Tony with a full van behind a Wal-Mart. He was the epitome of health to look at. exercise. Then she lost consciousness. She was the messenger and had to remain sexually untouched. Our leaders will be pleased with our success.In the car. but it was discussed in the translation of the interview and that was plain English. The disregard given to them by Davis fueled an anger that he put to work. Tony abandoned his car and rode with Ramid to the YMCA. I will be at the YMCA this evening at 5:30 if you would like to drop it off then. Matt launched into his weight routine with his favorite exercise first: the . we want these dogs to have a comfortable wipe while they light their own fuse.D. She sensed an intense field of anger and anxiety radiating from him. Shannon began to feel the affects of the spiked wine. Admittedly a long shot. “Yes. Matt stretched and headed to his basement for some weights. “More hostages. Yes. But he had a way to make use of her. More people will mean more media and more publicity when we unveil our W. Thank you. Why thank you. “I’ve got the tainted payload. Matt knew his theory made sense. She didn’t believe Tony was the type to do this until he leaned over and kissed her. She wanted to deliver a gift to him for saving Kelly’s life. Using the landline Tony returned Marsha’s call. Straight to voice mail and no reply. Matt attended the meeting.” Tony grinned at the humor. Soon she was numb and not able to move. Tony thought it was transparent that she was doing this to antagonize Preston the cop. … Wipe of Mass Destruction. Did anyone notice his continuing dedication? He figured probably not. There was something strange to his body chemistry and aura. Did anyone besides Jerry believe him? Even on suspension.” Tony easily moved the petite girl from the car to the van. The Y closes at 5:00 today so just knock on the door or call me when you arrive. I would like to see how her arm has heeled. Clark there?” A young girl answered the phone and handed it to her mother. After a pickup at Validor warehouse. After several pots of strong coffee he decided to make the best of his downtime with his old standby. And they come bearing a gift.” What a pleasant surprise Tony joked to Ramid. please bring your daughter. Yes. She was quick to sense something foreign in her body. once again he appreciated her hair. The last thing she remembered was Tony praying to Allah. of course. his kiss tasted acrid and sour. Tony activated his phone briefly to check a message. hello this is Tony Massimo returning your call. Her motor skills were soon gone. “Is Mrs.M. His kiss tasted bad. At the bottom of the stairs he saw the boxes he had brought home that belonged to John Lawson. and smell. however. He forced himself to ignore his attraction to her.” Ramid laughed hard but stopped abruptly and spoke in a serious tone of prayer. It was from Marsha Clark.” Chapter 26 – FORENSIC REFRESHER – Saturday afternoon MATT CALLED SHANNON’S phone every five minutes and filled it full of texts. Shannon tried to open her car door but it was locked.
didn’t help. Matt decided this was a good time to clean out the boxes with John’s belongings. Matt began to unpack the boxes. out of character for Jerry. hair. I’m it. Walking past John’s boxes to go upstairs caused him to think of the murder case he was working on. the best friend of the Mayor. By the time he was finished he was exhausted. Each time he tired he imagined himself in the boxing ring with Davis and Tony and flared up with energy. The Dark Side of the Moon was on its third run when Matt got up to smoke a cigarette. His heart lurched at the thought that it might be Shannon. Matt was reaching for some more upbeat music when the phone rang. blood. or find what was exchanged. cigarette butts.bench-press. His false accusation of Billington. “Hey partner. That included the love of his life. especially from the time estimate of her death. Matt opened the binders and checked the Table of Contents. bandages. Matt got the name because he excelled in this lift. He held the Illinois State record in shot-put using this lift for the training. After refilling his coffee and starting Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. He found 3-ring binders of notes John used for seminars he taught. tissue. Oblivious to time. “Hey bud. He turned to the page covering The Law of Exchange Principle. John emphasized the need for proper police procedure to isolate the area to avoid contamination. what can I do?” Matt was glad for the distraction. His massive size coupled with his arm and shoulder strength proved useful later when he turned to boxing at the Police Academy. Jerry was on the other end.” Matt detected anxiety in his voice. Or find DNA traces left on gum. He was suspended. I’ll swing by and pick you up. and saliva. Matt Press-a-ton. “What? Where?” Matt thought it might be a bad joke and relaxed. John gave several examples in his lecture of trace evidence. Everyone else is out too… for Easter. Matt churned through the remainder of the boxes into the late afternoon. Bev and I took the girls on spring break and used up all my vacation. When he was finished the investigation material he reflected on how poorly he performed as a detective. The competition with Tony Massimo for her company enraged him and provided renewed vigor in his lifting. This chapter covered the fundamental concept of forensic science the law of the exchange principle. Matt had a powerful knockout punch that destroyed opponents in his heavy-weight class. He thought about how he had let John down. Lost it at a meeting.” . I’m almost at your house. He carried three boxes upstairs to his living room. find what was taken. I need your help bad. But what didn’t make sense was how the body of Tiffany Cates was dead and decayed while she was photographed alive. “Another body has been found. Let his father down. Possibly the contents would trigger an idea of what was going on with the decay of his murder victim. His mind wandered to her as he lifted. find sample fibers left behind on a victim. Matt had a supernatural ability. “The body was found off Reservoir Road. do you remember I’m on suspension?” “Naomi dispatched me. Was working on. Shannon. It is slim pickings here. Matt wished he had reviewed this material earlier before Tiffany was found. When it came to a forceful thrust and pushing things away from him.” Matt jerked to attention. about 15 miles past where Tiffany was found. But Billington’s involvement made perfect sense. He changed the CD to Pink Floyd’s The Wall and sat back down. Jerry answered panting. “Sure. semen. For instance. “You can count on me”. Let his children down.” Matt felt nervous butterflies starting. Any crime can be solved at the scene if you find what was left behind. He reminded himself that the use of the past-tense was appropriate.
so we give them a nice boundary to cross. combined with the coffee. “Jerry that guy is a trained killer. “Tools of the trade. “Is that what John did?” “Yeah.” Matt wanted to take his mind off of what they might find at the scene. They are always compelled to show their authority by crossing the tape. gave Matt a talkative energy.” Before leaving Matt chomped on two amphetamines to help him concentrate. “And I’m ready to do it right. Just for them.“I’ll be ready. I just wanted to prepare you.” “Jerry smiled and nodded. Jerry was glad Matt was in full focus and was all ears. Shannon’s been reported missing.” Matt smiled at the dig. “I also have paper bags to place on the hands and feet of the corpse and a clean sheet to preserve trace evidence. What do you have in the bag? A notebook I hope. and a hair net. Matt I need to tell you this. that’s why he was the best.” Chapter 27. “What’s the deal with the other boundary.” Jerry was impressed. booties. tools of the trade. That messes up any trace DNA. Nothing new taken in the boundary and nothing removed.” Matt pointed to the bag. am I glad you were home. Thanks for being here with me. “Boy. This is only to be crossed by Detectives and the Medical Examiner wearing gloves.” “I know.” Matt looked down at the John Lawson’s boxes. That’s the Law of Exchanges. He repeated procedures he recently studied from John’s notes. Matt climbed in the car holding a leather satchel. “Is Ben on the way?” “Naomi couldn’t reach him. Her phone is off. I could not do this alone. So is his. coveralls. Matt wanted to help Jerry and also redeem himself with Ben by preserving all clues at the murder scene. “We need to freeze the crime scene to preserve the evidence.MAGGOT MATH Saturday evening .” IT WAS 4:00 when Jerry arrived. He also hoped this murder would provide information to solve the mysterious time of Tiffany’s death.” “We will set up two perimeters. Was it Shannon? The amphetamines. It is inevitable. One inner boundary close to the body.” Matt froze. He may be away for the holiday. Her mom called and advises she did not return home after having a morning yoga session with Massimo. Let’s just hope nobody moved the corpse or even worse tried to do CPR. the second perimeter?” “The outer perimeter is for the VIP.
From then on.” Matt did the division on his clipboard. Matt completed his readings and went to Jerry’s car and checked his sample under a magnifying glass. This time we got here before she could become Alpo. Brilliant isn’t it. This was his baby. his passion. 14 hours Jerry. John was a genius. also remembered the impression she made. Matt and Jerry were the only people in the area. And a sick one too. Same wounds. At the same time he obtained a larvae sample. what can I do?” Matt removed a set of precision thermometers from John’s bag and distributed them. Matt was happy explain. Jerry asked. The blow-fly will implant its eggs as soon as it arrives at the body. We will develop a relationship of those readings today compared with the temperature for the past several days that we get from weather records. “Remember all the awards John got. “Yes it is. body surface and ambient. The . They performed it like a precision team. When we know the temperature we can determine the exact time the mama blow-fly deposited the eggs. father of two girls. “Now. It figures you would remember her. “Do you recognize her?” Matt had been preoccupied with his writing and hadn’t looked at the features of the girls face. “ANDERSON wasn’t it? Hell of a body. While placing bags over the hands Jerry asked. He inserted one of extended length into her rectum. They ran home and called without touching anything. Matt logged in 5:47pm.” Jerry agreed but confessed. We should be finished here by dark. “Now I take a fly larvae sample and kill it with alcohol to stop further growth and preserve it. The body had been found by a man fishing with his grandchildren visiting for Easter. maggot mass. I remember it well. The growth always follows a repeatable timeline that is dependent on the time and temperature.. Hmmm… let’s see. We determine the amount of development of the maggot sample we just obtained. The girl was lying face up on a plastic sheet. Matt logged each photo and kept detailed records of their progress. At the end he jammed the pencil down breaking the tip. She was the one with her butt-cheeks hanging out of her shorts. “I’ll tell you what it tells us. Under Matt’s direction Jerry took photographs. body-soil interface. When we divide out the temperature of 23 degrees Centigrade we get …. it appears that our specimen is at the 450 degree-hour development stage. Before we wrap her up I want to take some data. “We’ve got us a serial killer. She was naked and had the same lacerations on her lips and genitals that were found on Tiffany. And she was proud of it.” Still talkative.” Jerry looked puzzled.THE CRIME SCENE had not been disturbed before Matt and Jerry arrived. This is the time of death. The temperature has been about the same for the last few days. “I’m not sure how it works. The specific time is important. the growth of the larvae is based on time and temperature.” Matt took out a form developed by John Lawson for recording the data. We just need to let the thermometers stabilize. What does that tell you?” he said louder than it needed. Matt did another calculation on his watch. Reaching for a special bottle he explained to Jerry. “Isn’t that the softball pitcher of the other team? The girl that pitched the game when Sarah stuck out at the end?” Matt turned his head sideways to look.” Matt smiled. The relief was mutual when they could see the body was not Shannon. “What we are doing is measuring the temperature of the body mass. When something dies it sends the bug world into a frenzy for miles around. Hours earlier Matt had studied the procedure for crime-scene documentation. He looked through a book showing insect diagrams.” “Something’s already making use of her body.” Jerry. “14 hours. “Sure.
‘the fly don’t lie’. took it more seriously. “Based on skin separation and tongue dehydration . to quote John.” Jerry clarified. I’m sure he is smiling down on you tonight. What do you think?” Matt shook his head in agreement. “She sure shows more decay than that to me. I do it all the time by myself. “What like Hansel and Grettle?” Ben. “I estimate from the larvae she died 14 hours ago.” The three walked over to the body. Before we do. he stood up and answered. “Well.” Matt scratched his head. Making conversation Ben mentioned. “Preliminarily Ben. “Good” Jerry said. We were just talking about you. I didn’t see any evidence of charring or burns. Somebody else to help carry the body. He took out a tongue depressor and parted the lacerated lips. He had his shit together this time. Looks like two or three days to me.” “Don’t bother. mama blow-fly and babies tell another story. Because. “Have body. dead three days. but I get ‘em. let me get your opinion Ben. “Ben. Conclusion finished.donning booties.” “All that’s left is to tag’er and bag’er. concerned that his time-ofdeath conclusion was being challenged. you are off by a factor of five.” Before he left Ben rolled down the window. Matt. Same marks? I think we’ll nail the bastard this time.body was dropped off and larvae started growing at 6:00 this morning. if the bodies are put on ice to slow decay couldn’t you accelerate the decay with heat? Isn’t that what we are stumped about – mysterious advanced decay? So we look for a guy with a big oven.” “You got larvae? What did you find? Preliminarily that is. “Holy shit.” Jerry was ready to go.” Jerry had been quiet in thought and spoke up. “We’ll follow you back to help with the body. “It’s Doctor Ben Nelson. He clarified. But Ben.” They looked up at the sound of a nearby truck and saw head-lights approaching. Ben said excitedly “I think you may have caught a break in your first case Matt. “You know how I keep my lab so cold? The hospital is now sending over deceased form the plague for me to store. But how can this be?” The three agreed it was time to pick up the body and get it to the morgue.” Matt thought of large kitchen oven and laughed.” Matt joked. “Sorry I’m late. He wished Davis was here to see his improved work methods. “Yeah. gloves. Ben quickly suited up . exactly like a sauna room.” Breathing hard. Happy Easter gents.” and drove off.” Matt was smiling.time of death approximately 72 hours. hair net. The temperature has been steady for a few days so I might be off at the most 2 or 3 hours. when do you think death occurred? Preliminarily. I was in Springfield at dinner when I got the page.” As the man got out Matt proclaimed formally. They could send’em to any meat locker or freezer. Matt took a flashlight out of the bag and shinned it on her face. let’s see what Ben thinks.” Ben and Jerry whipped around to Matt at the same time. “Great work gentlemen. “It was all Matt. It would have to be slow controlled heat.” Jerry looked down at the once attractive girl. “A pickup. will travel. Matt looked over to the sun setting on the horizon. Jerry walked away. and overalls. Ben took a knife and slit between the fingers.” Ben looked around and became excited when he saw all of the preparations at the scene.” Matt made the connection. “I look at her and I agree with you. . People are afraid to claim their dead. External steam would help hide the uneven dehydration that might develop. “No. Ben explained. Ben studied the marks. He had had enough.” Ben grinning.
I could use a beer. The last time you spoke in public. not people. But dogs go around smelling each others butts.” Jerry was tired but he needed to say some things to Matt and figured Matt wanted to talk. The Wall CD was still on. I am convinced he is dirty. Then. probably cooked in a sauna. here with Matt. Agent Davis put a team of our guys at the YMCA. Look. with a nice car. Comfortably Numb was playing. Tiffany Cates. “That’s how I feel”. great body.” “But am I biased?” Matt opened the leather bag and pulled out his notes. You punched a Federal Agent in font of 50 people and got suspended. “Here me out. He lit a Camel and sat heavily. handsome. He had been deep in thought. Yeah. You get cleaned up and…” Jerry felt a rush of anxiety from what he had to say next to his friend. rich. “Here is my take. Happy Easter Partner. He took a slow breath. “Now.ends up dead cooked in a sauna. Softball pitcher Anderson. goes to his yoga class – ends up dead. I gotta head. You can’t even get an audience. But. “Jerry you still out? Officers on stakeout not checking in. as he handed Jerry a beer. Do you want to come in?” “Yeah sure. Ok. Need a checkout at the Y. Tony is out of an alibi. 8:15 pm. You have a compelling amount of evidence. it is important how you look. “And to top it off. sensitive. “Oh yeah. wear clean clothes. Jerry continued. “Mrs. “Jerry. my suggestion is that we wait until Easter is over. She is still missing. IT WAS LATE when they arrived at Matt’s house. The guy is going out with your girlfriend. Not a great body.” Jerry interrupted. Naomi answered his question.” Matt didn’t have to mention the name for Jerry to follow.” Matt closed the pad and continued. Matt put the leather satchel of John’s back into a box. “Now. intelligent. and we will go visit Davis and lay out your conclusions to him. it was pandemonium at the podium. works with him at Validor . I didn’t make the rules but it matters. I was sitting in the car thinking. nobody is going to listen to you. Before he could ask. “Shit what a day. thanks for being there when I need you. Maybe things will settle down after Easter and people will listen to you. who has perfect access to a sauna room for a midnight barbeque? Tony. great body. Matt said.” Matt leaned forward and put his head down in his hands. he does have a nice car. dark. If we assume Tiffany was cooked and her decay accelerated. yesterday you threw toilet paper streamers at the Mayor. I get the picture. Naomi. Give me a little reality check here.” . Get cleaned up. Thanks partner. tell me if I’m biased because he is going out with Shannon and he is tall.” “Yes. the yoga instructor with a key.” “You would do the same for me. Matt opened the door and left it open for air. “Jesus Matt. I hate the son-of-a-bitch for breaking my nose and stealing my girl…but is Tony the Tiger dirty in these murders or am I biased?” Jerry collected his thoughts. Everything we investigate leads to one guy. The mess from the boxes lay in the living room where it had been left.” He had his hand on the door knob when his radio chirped its message tone. I understand your philosophy about being in touch with your animal instincts. great job today. Sound good?” Jerry set down his empty beer amongst the debris. Larry Powell and David Woomer. Jerry pulled in the driveway and thought Matt was asleep. People think you’ve lost it.” Matt put out his cigarette and grabbed his coat. Some Islamic guy I interview speaks the word Validor and ends up dead. so he didn’t get cooked. And it has merits. After a short crackle Naomi sang out. Fitzgibbon reports Shannon has not called yet. and muscular.
Two of Peoria’s “up and coming”. I estimate one and a half hours before the dead cops are missed. Dan didn’t like something about him. Tony returned to the weight room and Ramid went out to coax Marsha to come inside. “Mom. Please come in.” Shannon awoke from four gun-shots and still thought she was in the nightmare. “Hello.” Daniel said to his mom. Dead before they could look up from their early edition Sunday paper. let’s everyone go in and show our appreciation. The light showed evening approaching. Tony took charge. Four shots for two officers. Tie her up in the chair. She rode a short distance and was taken from the van to what she vaguely recognized the as the weight room at the YMCA. Chapter 28 – BACKFIRE Saturday evening THE OFFICERS NEVER saw it coming. but what day? How long was she out? she wondered. It was strange to him to be delivering the gift to a closed establishment. It was closed early for Easter. Blurred vision told her she was in a van. Her mouth was dry. the lobby is open. Both arms and legs.” He used the knife to tuck newspaper over windshield and side windows of the policecar. pulling duty on the eve of Easter.” Marsha waved to Stan and her children to come with her. “I’ll wait in the car. why are we here when it is closed? And Stan . I’ll unload the double-ply. Duct tape and tie-wraps. She could smell a fragrance coming from boxes stacked behind her. You family can join you. nice to meet you. Ramid’s expert delivery using two rapid-fire doubletaps into the chest.” There was a knock on the glass at the front door. I am Tony’s brother. Dan looked around and noticed the place was empty. “Now our time is limited. Ramid smiled at Dan. But enough time. Dan asked as he entered. Ramid mumbled with a knife between his teeth. Tony peeked out to the lobby and saw it was Marsha dropping off the gift for him. At the rear door of the yoga room. “Move the red-head to the window of my studio.” Marsha said in a motherly tone. “What a waste of bullets. but with too low seniority. Ramid unlocked the front door. Tony looked across the room and saw her awakening and commanded.” Tony and his brother were soon back in the van headed around the rear entrance of the building. Plenty of time to poison our messengers and hit the reservoir. She was barely conscious and without full motor function. “Now dear. Tony is detained and he asked me to invite you inside. “Tape her mouth.
“He is just interested in what it is. as he reached for the side of his face. Tony thought for a second and looked at the box. Suddenly his face changed to one of determination as he yanked hard and fast tearing it through the flesh. “It seems we have an additional guest Ramid. Ramid went out of the room and returned wearing gloves and a surgeon’s mask holding a box. Look what he did to me. Marsha pulled back on Kelly covering her eyes and mouth.” Ramid tied their arms and legs with duct tape and tie-wraps.” commented Tony with a grin. Ramid pulled a gun and huddled the group together in front of him. You asked to prove it.” The brothers began laughing as if they knew something their captives didn’t.” The family saw Shannon tied and slumped in a chair with three empty chairs beside her. “I.” asked Marsha in disbelief. He set the box down and backed away. Jasmine fragrance. “Now that you have joined Miss Red-head. He bent down and whispered to her loud enough for the group to hear. down the hallway past the racquetball courts.” . Then he relaxed into a full perfect white-toothed smile and said “OK. Tell him.” Stan instructed the youth. “Keep away from me bastard.I can help you.” Tony went into an adjacent office and returned with a chair. turn left. If any of them even looks like they re going to make a move.” “Yeah. “It won’t matter if you lose circulation. And watch your mouth. Stan’s eyes got big and frightened and he stuttered. Marsha also reacted to the violence turning to Stan and screaming “Why don’t you do something?” Stan shrugged. shoot them in the head. This is your test. Kelly began crying again. “Sit! All of you. into the weight room… to the back.. “Now move.. He slammed it down with a clank to get their attention. Ramid reached out again toward the silver ring hanging above the boy’s eye. but not on the side of Daniel. Give me a chance to prove it.” “Are you serious. . Now. He smiled as he held it loosely admiring it. it is time to silence you. That’s right. Marsha complained of the tightness of the bindings.” Tony smiled at the joke and barked. Dan recoiled and yelled. that’s right.” As they sat Ramid noticed the eye piercing hanging from Dan’s eyebrow and reached out to it. It was labeled Validor Double-ply 12 count. “I told him not to provoke the situation. He calmly walked up to Stan and crushed his eyebrow with an unexpected blow from the metal grip of his pistol.” Stan was quick to intervene. open that box and remove two rolls of toilet paper.” You have a noble cause and I want to be a part of it. Trust me. Keep them covered while I get another chair. Blood began pouring hard from the rip in his eyebrow. Blood gushed from the wound as Ramid knew it would. He went over and cut Stan free.what is that cop car doing over there with its window covered?” INSIDE THE DOOR the answer became clear to Dan and the rest of the group. His military and hostage training went into effect.you seem like an intelligent guy. Gangrene is the least of your worries lady. And if you try anything I will shoot you like a dog. The captives saw from his precautions that the contents were not healthy. Kelly began to cry. Stan looked around proudly at the women like he had accomplished something. “Let him see it. “You mother fucker!” Daniel screamed. He knew he had to demonstrate control early to his captives. no reason to provoke him.
Kelly was still crying. Marsha sensed a sinister meaning behind their laughter and began yelling as Stan put the rolls into her children’s mouths. “Are you crazy?” Marsha yelled after him. however. Tony continued.” Stan said as he opened the box flaps. “You have completed your tasks very well as instructed. “The kid is driving me crazy. He thought quickly of their motives and of what they might consider useful.” Tony smiled.Allah has the power to grant them victory. “That crying needs to be stopped. all women are different. He further clarified that he wanted the rolls inside their mouths not just covering them. A commitment to our cause is a life long commitment.” “You and I think alike” Stan repeated. He fired point blank into the back of Stan’s neck killing him instantly. Her eyes bulged with disbelief as he covered her mouth. and considered himself practiced in the art of slick talking. Do you agree with this commitment?” Tony continued with other passages from the Koran.” Stan looked puzzled. I’ll go out and bring you back mine.. They don’t think like us. I can understand that.” Tony yelled. my friend. Ramid removed his gloves and mask.” Ramid added to the victorious moment. Sporting-goods store is still open. Tony said to him in a condescending tone “You have both passed and failed your tests. Tony instructed Stan to remove the rolls from the paper coverings and cut them in half. Tony raised his pistol and lunged after him. sure. Praise Allah” Tony said joking and seriously at the same time. These women.. He was a lawyer. Stan wiped the blood from his forehead with a spare roll and threw it back into the box like he was unaffected by his cut. Right down the street.. Tony and Ramid laughed to each other like they knew an inside joke. I bet you guys are in need of more guns. “I’ll be right back.” Tony shook his head negatively as if he was doubtful.” Seeing his chance Stan hurried past Tony for the door. You can count on that. . I’m committed. “I think THAT hit the spot. Eyes bulged and duct-tape flexed as the captives reacted to the violence with the only movements possible to them. He didn’t want it to backfire. “Go out and bring us back bullets.“I won’t try anything. You and I think alike. Fight them until Allah’s religion is supreme. And I can help you explain your cause. “Hurry up with those rolls.. When Stan had finished his task.. so your intentions don’t backfire. It begins with life given to us by Allah and ends with our death given for Allah. Ramid sarcastically warned Stan not to cut himself accidently as he sliced the rolls in half. “Yes. He further instructed Stan not to block their breathing since he didn’t want them to suffocate. “Yeah. Marsha didn’t say a word. “I know how I can help. Then duct-tape the half rolls into the mouths of Shannon. “All you want is America to back off your land.” As Stan crossed the room with the rolls he winked at Marsha like he knew what he was doing. you have hit the spot. “Kill the aggressors wherever you find them. Do you agree with these teachings of Islam?” Stan realized the predicament he was in.” As Stan walked past the terrorist.” Stan offered sympathetically. The force of the shot and instant death caused him to crumple to the floor in a contorted position. Stan quickly tried another approach. you changed sides a little too fast for our tastes. I’m committed. “I believe THAT is what you call a backfire. What you got there? You need 9mm’s?” Stan spoke confidently to appear knowledgeable on guns – more valuable to them he hoped.Permission to take up arms by those attacked is granted by Allah. Marsha and the children. my treat.. I’ll go buy bullets too. I have the money on me.
But it makes perfect sense. “Kevlar on.” “Naomi.” “I don’t see Sandman’s Jag. We don’t know how many are in there. Both Woomer and Powell. Matt detected a faint smell of gun-fire mixed with jasmine. Watch yer balls. but it helps to locate the source. “Here is the entrance to the weight room. But someone may be in the corners out of view so we need to be aware of that. Shot as they sat in their car. Matt checked inside and recognized Kelly’s jacket to confirm it was Stan’s. Tony’s bakery. Happy Easter partner. Possibly a cell meeting. Jerry was peering in the door window of the . Matt drew a scaled map of the building. Let me show you the layout.” Matt and Jerry checked the perimeter of the building and decided to enter at the vacant classrooms farthest from the yoga area. This is the place. The drop pattern led down the hall leading to the racquetball courts.” “Naomi. so they don’t get the drop on us. We need to check each one of these courts as we pass. but that is Stan’s vehicle. Pointing to the clipboard. Over.” “We heard a shot from inside. You can see into it through the glass window.” “Received and?” “Received and looking for somebody on duty to assist.” Jerry reassured. Officers down. He ran back to Matt shaking his head. Someone hidden in there would have the drop on us from behind.” Jerry noticed the pencil shaking in Matt’s hand. They moved down the hall toward the reception area checking class-rooms one by one with only the red illumination of exit signs for light. Who knows? Beyond the weight room is the yoga studio.” “You sure you don’t want to wait for backup?” Jerry asked. Matt noticed a Tahoe of the same model and color as one Stan owned parked at the location of the stake-out. From the weight room over by yoga studio and offices. They were silent and efficient at checking the first two racquetball courts. Find that cavalry. At the same time Jerry peaked into the squad car with newspaper across the windows. I’m with you. But you can. No information on the stakeout. Bittersweet.” Reaching for a pencil and clipboard.” Matt picked up the mic and reported. Over. Where he cooks his victims. Instead of carrying a hose they entered the building with their hand-guns held vertically. just past the racquetball courts. Powell and Woomer are dead.” Jerry looked to the speaker. It was DARPA business. Lieutenant Preston here. “Dead Matt. Jerry. He wondered how he would be handling this if it were his own wife and children in danger. I’m as ready as I’m gonna be. “I can’t wait. why did Davis have them on stake-out here?” “Received. Chapter 29 – AT THE YMCA MATT AND JERRY heard the gunshot. The sound of a shot is usually not good. we are going to enter the building.” “No. They taped and smashed the glass by the book as if entering a fire. My family may be in there too. but not many vehicles to support that.” “Sounds like the shot came from the back of the building. YMCA.” “Received. “On location Naomi. I was only worried for Shannon. Three or four off from the weight room.” “You picked it right Matt. “Received. here are the offices. “Lastly. Requesting backup. you should. That meant Marsha and possibly his children were there too. And that his partner was in clear focus. Once in the lobby they could see the blood drips from Stan’s cut eye on the white tile floor. He has the ideal oven her to accelerate his victim’s decay. Jerry was relieved at the detail. As a minimum: two.
Horror overtook him as his mind processed the images. I’ll make my way back to the car to direct backup. He was relieved to see them alive until he spotted what was in their mouths. No cure. Matt gazed up from the corpse to the rear of the room where he saw Shannon. He stopped and peered slowly around the corner. He sprinted to the end of the hall to the corner where Ramid had disappeared. The terrorist more practiced at reacting to armed confrontations immediately fired at the two officers. . you were the biggest asshole to me while you were alive. Blood pooled on the tile around the head.. Chapter 30 – GRAND SLAM AS MATT TURNED around to face the weight room. Jerry yelled as best as he could with the pain. Jerry was in a bad situation too. Jerry still turned sideways was positioned between Matt and Ramid. Matt confirmed he had not been hit. at least your death helped me tell which way the guy went.. Oh god. Oh my god.third court just as Ramid rounded the corner with his gun out front gripped with both hands. He looked up to find himself starring straight across the room at Ramid. on his tip-toes peering in the racquetball door. merciless death. The first sight was Stan’s crumpled corpse lying chest-down with its head turned up at the ceiling. Rapid. Marsha. Stan. Ramid retreated around the corner and ran back to the cover of the weight room.” Jerry passed out in shock before he could move. “Go … just go . and his children tied up. Before Matt could return fire. gun held to his chest. When Matt turned to check on Jerry the trained killer capitalized on his hesitation. Jerry. took the shot in his side. The smell of gun powder and jasmine were now combined with a copper smell of fresh blood. his gun was pointed low and out of position. Ramid had backtracked and was 30 feet away pointing the gun directly at Matt and smiling. no! Matt’s brain exploded in terror. The Camelpox-EbolaStrain on the toilet paper. The smooth puddle was broken by bloody footprints that pointed the direction of Ramid’s hasty retreat. His blood formed a puddle beneath him and he was a pale as the tile floor. Matt thought. get the bastards. Ramid and Matt saw each other at the same instant. Matt had a clear view of the weight room. He looked back down the hall at his partner. The major part of the neck was missing such that the twisted face was held on by only a sausage link of spine. The 9mm bullet entered belt-high right below the vest into the officer’s side.
holding a baseball bat. Matt’s mind drifted. Ramid was still pointing the gun down at Matt’s head. why don’t I have conflicts that get decided by physical confrontation like in the wild? Matt could see Ramid’s finger tightening on the trigger. There he saw Sarah Rosen standing in her office doorway breathing hard. The same sound of a metal bat hitting a baseball.” Matt looked over at Shannon. his daughter.the option with the highest probability. “Look across the room. He could not help but further promote his conquest. well.Once again Matt was looking at a gun pointed at him. A curious thunk mixed with a metallic clink. fuck you. The two hits resulted in destruction to both Matt’s gun and a major muscle group in his upper femur. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a body fall to the ground. dying? They will soon feel the death we have brought to you. ready to impale a tiny mouse. The next loud noise Matt heard was not the shot of a gun. Praise Allah! Ramid thought as he charged forward elated at what had happen. your future. It would either stun or wound his enemy so he could run forward for the third and guaranteed fatal shot. “Kill him now!” Tony yelled a second time. A sure hit. Seeing his enemy severely wounded and disarmed gave him cause to relax. Is that all you got?” For effect. You worthless America shit. Can you see your family. motionless look on his face. We are just animals trying to keep the species going. He cautiously backed into the office area to keep a safe distance against any retaliation. and his son. Ramid wanted to make the best use of his three remaining bullets in the gun. “Kill him now. He thought it was more spit until he smelled the copper. Ramid was the victorious warrior. He chose to fire two shots below the vest to the groin . and your fucking Allah. “You dog. Ramid was a good marksman but he also knew the limitations of the weapon if his target moved. Triumphantly he walked over to Matt and leaned over him with a gloating smile. His vision was blurred but he could see the red color of blood coming from the eyes of his son. It was the loud thunk of a home-run being hit at a ballpark. He saw it. Tony was stunned and froze motionless as he tried to make sense of what he had just seen. He sized up the coverage of Matt’s protective vest and calculated the best attack strategy for three shots. He could shoot at the head or he could shoot low. and ready to be fired. Matt thought it was the onset of plague symptoms. “Yeah. blood pouring from his ears.” Matt closed his eyes to think his last thoughts Oh. Matt looked down and said again. as he licked his blood and prepared for death. The other option was to shoot at Matt’s huge body-armor and momentarily stun him. . The mouse is looking up defiantly. facing his death by flipping the bird off with his middle finger raised. The second bullet hit slightly below the vest in the upper thigh. To make sense of what was happening Matt looked up to where the gunman had been standing. At his side lay Ramid with a blank. Can you not tell by my good fortune that Allah gives us his blessings?” He spit on Matt to watch his expression. He spit again because he did not see enough reaction the first time. finger on the trigger. Ramid’s first shot hit Preston’s gun. The confused policeman felt a warm spray on his face. but his mind was not reacting to the event. Tony had held back for safety but now left the yoga studio running toward them.” Matt looked up at the barrel and remembered a cartoon illustration where a huge eagle is swooping down with razor sharp talons. The split-second thinking and training of the soldier paid off. “Kill him” he heard Tony yell across the room. “Fuck you. Ramid could quickly run up and finish him with a final shot to the head. Matt began casually licking his blood from his hands like ice-cream.
A Jewish-American woman. Then another thought occurred to him. The Glock’s polymer caved under the force of the bat making the gun useless. Matt’s strength made him cautious of getting too close. It looked to Matt like she had been killed. Sarah swung the bat vertically like chopping wood. she fell unconscious. Cracked open by a woman. Matt found he could not apply weight to the leg. No guns. Matt spun on his good leg to maintain facing forward to him. one-armed woman with a salvage vengeance. Even holding a weight-bar. He moved cautiously and picked up another weight bar of smaller diameter. He circled looking for a point of vulnerability. The years of practicing her aim and strength for softball paid off one more time. Just as Tony reached for the gun. concentrating on the throw he knew was coming. Massan thought of using the bat. He did not want to end up in the grip of his adversary. No poisons. these were Matt’s laws. A weak Jewish-American woman with a tiny. and the two children looked on in horror as the one- . Matt was too far from the weapon but started to roll towards it. All of his life Matt controlled his primal instincts so his behavior would fit into that of modern society… of civilized man. An American woman. He used Matt’s lack of mobility to his advantage. Tony. Matt was not able to get to them. Massan changed the position of his grip on the weapon. Tony the tiger. Time was on his side. He thought about his choice of weapon and threw the bar far out of reach. Tony moved toward Ramid’s gun with purpose and quickness. He could wait until the giant became unconscious from blood loss and then end him with one blow to his head. bring that sand-box shit over here. These weren’t just nature’s laws. No tanks. Gravity and her 1 ½ arms combined for a downward blow that crushed both the gun and Tony’s hand. He tried to move toward Massan and was reminded of the cat-like quickness of his adversary. deformed and withered arm. lay on the floor with his skull cracked open. But Massan would not let that happen. The law of natural selection was left to decide the winner of the conflict. he could tear him limb from limb with his bare hands. The best he could do was swing around on his good knee like a tank that was off its treads. Shannon. “Hey pussy. He wondered how much time he had before additional police would arrive. To distract Massan from his assault Matt yelled as he crawled toward him. The shot had struck his femoral artery and blood pulsed from the wound. Come on. family and closest companion. No other people. but instead picked up a forty pound weight bar with the idea of using it to club Matt. Marsha. Blood flowed down his thigh from his movements. He calculated the striking range of the fallen giant and would not enter its zone of vulnerability. It was lighter and would have better movement as a weapon.His brother. He could see the rapid loss of blood from Matt’s leg and calculated the advantage this gave him. Just one-on-one physical confrontation. Bones in Tony’s hand were also broken and he screamed like a wounded animal.” It was now only Preston and Massan. Matt thought if he could get close enough to grab him. Now. He raised his arm and held the bar like a spear rather than a bat. Tony became as enraged and wild-eyed. none of that mattered. Saliva began to flow from his mouth like a rabid dog. No bombs. is that what your Allah teaches you… to kick the shit out of unconscious women. Sarah and Matt followed his eyes and could tell where he was headed. As his mind comprehended the seriousness of his brother’s wound. and could only watch as Tony turned and attacked Sarah. Matt had taken a direct hit from Ramid’s 9mm in the top of his right leg. After a flurry of hard kicks to the face. His eyes were on the bar. He flung the bat away and freely punched and kicked the small.
He also worried of police backup. Kill him. Preston? And now we have a strain durable enough to contaminate your drinking water.. ready to throw.sidedness of the fight started to become apparent. He had a passing thought of delight on how he would later be able to slice her at his leisure once the cop was dead and his mission completed. The terrorist looked around the room at the weights and realized he had enough ammo for an assault. Nature’s way of being merciful to the mortally wounded. “You think you are so clever trying to goad me. go after the other cop. Massan strategically threw low. at least he would feel better “checking out” defiantly. He could see the energy leaving his prey. I plan to watch you fall asleep from lack of blood. It was destroyed by that Jew-bitch. I will casually walk over to you and smash your skull with this weight: like a pumpkin.” Matt tried to ignore the pain so he would look as convincing as possible. get up. The terrorist laughed loudly. months of water consumed before anyone knows.” Matt waited for a reaction. ” . It hit him below the vest on his uninjured thigh and fell to the ground in front of him. First we sent the fast-acting version up your ass. The scene in the book showed a caveman poised to spear the immobile saber-toothed tiger that had become entrapped in a tar-pit. He hoped to take advantage of some kind of a mistake. get his gun. “Hey pussy. we have developed a strain with the same symptoms as the plague but with a stronger resiliency. Tied and gagged she felt hopeless. Your brother is on his third virgin by now. Matt was surprised at the lack of pain he felt when the end of the solid steel bar hit him. Matt was not fast enough to deflect the bar. he looked at Matt and showed a white-toothed smile suitable for a toothpaste commercial. And when you do. The giant would be unconsciousness soon. Just to let you know before you die. “Come on and fight me like a man. Just think. He was going into shock. the brain’s consciousness slips away to escape it. It reminded Shannon of a scene from prehistoric times. Massan yelled over his shoulder. Even from an illustration she had always had a sympathetic connection with the trapped animal. Massan’s hand was swelling and the pain was making him impatient.” Matt sensed his enemy’s impatience and decided to provoke his assailant into action. I don’t think so. Matt also thought that if that didn’t work. You wanna be a martyr? You wanna go to paradise? Let me help. When pain becomes unbearable. Holding it on his hip with his good hand. His movement caused the bleeding to flow with renewed vigor. fuck you and your Allah. He was anxious to kill the infidel and contaminate the reservoir.. Matt knew he didn’t have much time. He took his time and aimed it menacingly toward his stationary prey. Kind of symbolic don’t you think Mr. is that all you got? Hey. Seeing the upward motion of his prey. Now the connection played itself out in life’s nightmare. Massan took three steps back and picked up a forty-five pound dumb-bell. Matt lowered his arms and rebalanced himself. She remembered a picture from a book when she was a little girl. He looked Massan in the eyes and lifted his chin. Both she and Matt were trapped and unable to flee from the hunter to freedom.” “Then I will take a Sunday evening walk over to the city’s water supply and release buckets of our newly developed weapon. Matt rose and crossed his hands over his face to protect his head. Massan held the spear above his head poised. Massan decided to strike and faked a high throw of the weight-bar to see the reaction. It was not the one he had hoped for. Symptoms don’t occur for months. It was doubtful the giant would be able to return any threatening volley with the severity of his injury. He looked back at the gun and came to the same conclusion again. “Ramid.
“Did you hear that?” He yelled over to his four helpless captives. “That is why you are still alive Miss Health Inspector. While you are dying slowly, you will report to the media that we can contaminate water now causing the same disease. When your country becomes aware of our bio-weapons capabilities you will bow on your knees to us and to Allah.” Massan turned back to Matt and continued still smiling. “We will get your attention. Your country will be afraid to drink, afraid to go to schools, to go to stores, to work. Your society will shut down. Economic paralysis. My leaders have chosen the perfect retaliation for your greed.” Matt was tired of listening to the self-righteous lecturing and changed the subject. “Why did you kill the girls?” Massan’s smile flashed away at the comment. “Oh, you think you figured it out Detective?” The grin reappeared with lines of evil in it. “Yes, I killed the whores. Sheila and Melissa. Sluts, both of them. I had to kill them in order to teach your citizens the ways of Allah. To get your attention. We don’t want more people to die Detective Preston. Just to learn. We just want you to learn your lessons. Are you getting sleepy and cold yet Detective?” “What is the lesson asshole? Why did you butcher those girls? You are just a common misogynist.” “Your society has been poisoned by the whoring display of your women. Your culture needs to learn our ways… to control women. What you call female genital mutilation we call insurance. And your women need to learn to cover themselves. To learn the ways of modesty. It is Allah’s way.” “Our God doesn’t have a dress code, ass-hole.” “The message will soon become clear to you. We have had enough of your country’s tyranny, arrogance, bullying, and conceit. You invaded our territory and we want you out, unconditionally. Your days of being Alpha-country are over. There will be a new top-dog and it will revolve around the wishes of Allah.”
Then Massan lowered his voice as if it was meant for only the two of them, “Maybe you understand something of territory. Your woman over there”, nodding across the room, “How do you feel knowing your territory was invaded. Yes ... your precious Shannon was violated ... several times actually. I think she liked it the first two or three times. I would love to take her again, except now I’m pretty sure she is too contagious. Hmm... maybe there’s still time if I use a condom.” He grinned hopping to get a reaction. “So Preston, what do your animal instincts tell you to do when your territory is invaded? Your woman invaded by another man. Your instincts are to strike out… to fight back. To protect your territory.” Massan yelled to the ceiling like a madman so his tied-up prisoners across the room could hear, “We are striking back against your aggressions. Retaliating. You think we started it at the World Trade Center. You started it long before. Why can’t you understand that?” “And we fight back with what is available to us.” Massan shook his head from side to side. “You Americans have such a misunderstanding of our ways of fighting. You have expensive and sophisticated weapons of technology. We only have poor man’s weapons such as chemical and bio-weapons. You can deliver a bomb on a missile with pinpoint precision. We too send a bomb to our location of choice with pinpoint accuracy. Only it is strapped to a living body. ... or a dead body as your FBI discovered.” Massan began laughing loudly again with a small amount of drool falling from the corner of his mouth. “You see ... in the words of your great revolutionary leader ‘give me liberty or give me death’. Now we also choose liberty or death. We want you out of our world. You Americans are soft. We are committed. And we, by Allah’s goodness, will prevail.” Massan continued, “There is no justice in the world. We mind our own business and your country invades us for our oil. Evil men win lotteries, and muslin
clergymen who dedicate their lives to Allah get killed by your attacks. No justice.” Glancing at the clock on the wall, “Oh, why do I bother to explain to you? Soon it will be midnight…your Easter. Do hurry and die Detective, I have a water supply to poison.”
CHAPTER 31 Resurrection
MATT STARTED TO lose motor control. He wished like never before that he had a gun. For the first time he could feel what it was like to be weak… physically vulnerable. Like a traffic-light clicking from red to green he understood the equalizing benefit of guns. With clarity he now understood why a small man or woman would want to carry a gun. It was a revelation. Matt was on the verge of passing out. He tried to focus on the situation. I think, therefore I am. If I go to sleep, I am a dead. Matt placated himself, Oh well. We are only just animals trying to continue our species. Massan could see Matt’s eyes becoming dazed and his breathing shallow. Slowly Massan lifted the weight higher preparing for the fatal blow to the head. He decided to wait a little longer… to be sure the giant was not faking. Matt felt cold. His eyes became heavy and he felt sleepy. Matt thought it would be a good idea to play dead. As he pretended, the heavy loss of blood caused his reality to slip away. He laid his head down and curled into a fetal position. Shannon recognized the fetal curl as a final stage before death. She rocked her chair and struggled at her bindings. Emotion gripped her and she cried beneath the ducttape when she saw the giant man curl like a baby. Shannon had never seen Matt physically vulnerable before. Her gentle giant. He had warned her about Tony. She
thought it was male competition. She was wrong. Her nose ran and it became hard to breath with the paper roll in her mouth. Her tears flowed with renewed affection toward Matt. As the shock progressed Matt began to leave the pain and cold of his situation. He began to see from a different perspective. He transcended reality and like a camera coming into focus. He could see himself from the point of view of others. From Shannon’s perspective he saw himself lacking sensitivity. To Chief Wilson he was stubborn and arrogant. To Agent Davis he was too prideful. Then he grasped the point of view of his enemy; Tohir Massan. He understood the meaning of Massan’s mission. Islam was only protecting the territory it perceived as being invaded by the United States. Davis had it right; understand your enemy. The transcendence and understandings led Matt into a deeper state of calm. Why could he not see all this before? Was he close to death? His subconscious pulled him into a bright tunnel. The walls contained visions of good thoughts and happy times. He relaxed and thought of the American Indian word – hokehay; the expression for “it is a good day to die”. He had his children. His genes had been passed onto a future generation. His simple mission in life was fulfilled. He could now turn the page. He started to relax further into the void. A soothing calm prepared him for his deepest sleep ever. He drifted into his routine duties of sleepiness. He had a vision of shaving and with his young son looking up at him as his hero. Matt relived happy emotions with his son and the depth of feelings toward him. It was more than genetic procreation. It was the love of a father to his son. Suddenly the calmness was jolted from him by a different vision of his son. Matt could see his son with blood pouring from his eyes. He remembered the horrible fate that awaited him. The same fate as his friend John Lawson. His mind began to stir. His son would not survive. Matt’s body remained calm and settled, however, his
mind became restless. The disturbance caused him to pull back through the tunnel. His mind drifted to the events that brought him to this place in time, to this vortex of violence. With the transcendence gone, Matt now fought to remain awake, to remain alive. As he did, a list of dreadful thoughts passed before him. The physical pain from his wounds was joined with the mental anguish of the nightmare that was happening to him. ♦ He thought of his poisoned children. Dan, Kelly, and their mother who would undergo the last two weeks of an agonizing death from the plague. His son Dan’s eyes were already flowing blood. ♦ He thought of his old friend Lawson and how he died so horrifically. He visualized his children in the advanced state of decay he had seen.
He thought of the blood-eyed boy grieving for his parents and all of the other citizens afflicted by the plague left unavenged. He thought of his close friend and partner Jerry injured and bleeding.
♦ He thought of the innocent deaths that would occur if the new disease were let loose into the drinking supplies and the economic paralysis of the country from the terror.
And he thought of sweet Shannon, also afflicted with the disease. He would nevermore enjoy the soft moments with her, the taste of her kisses, or the pleasure of her in his arms. His mind flinched when he thought about how Massan had repeatedly raped his Shannon... invaded his territory.
No. It was not a good day to die.
In order to simplify the complexities of life Matt Preston kept in touch with his natural evolutionary instincts. Now, nightmarish thoughts filled him with anger and animal rage. He was overtaken by the “fight or flight” reflex. His innate instincts filled his body with adrenaline. This adrenaline and rage expanded his strength beyond that of normal energy levels. His mind and body were that of a wounded animal. However, now it also combined with thoughts of a man intent on vengeance. Matt Preston drew upon his strength and animal rage for one concentrated contraction of his muscles. Muscles he had developed for the purpose now upon him. Massan, certain his enemy was unconscious and immobile, lifted a 50 pound metal weight above his head. As Massan moved forward for the strike, Matt slid a weight lying next to him across the floor toward Massan like an oversized hockey puck. The weight traveled a short distance and hit hard against Massan’s ankle. The force of it caused Massan to drop the weight off target. The contact to his ankle combined with the awkward release of the weight made the terrorist to fall forward into Matt’s range. The weight crashed to the floor barely missing Matt’s head. Massan tried to spring sideways to put distance from his enemy. As he placed his body-weight onto his broken hand it collapsed and he fell forward again. This caused him to roll and turn his back to Matt so he could jump out of reach from a crouched position. Matt saw his enemy within striking distance and seized the opportunity. The fight-or-flight adrenaline and power from years of strength-training combined. In one motion, Matt grabbed the weight-bar from his lap and exploded toward his target with an upward thrust of his powerful arms. The power surge from the giant impaled his crouching enemy with the bar from behind. The huge force behind the bar would have made an opening into a human no
The terrorist rolled to his side and landed with his chin on the ground next to Matt’s head.. His neck twisted and face contorted.Your children.Your country. Massan’s weakly spit blood toward Matt.. With his last breaths he reminded Matt of what he did not want to remember... “Your future is over .. unconscious from blood loss. Matt rolled away in exhaustion resting his head on the floor sideways. Lying next to his enemy.. Through the blur Matt could see movements of the impaled man....” This was the last thing Matt Preston heard except the sound of sirens in the distance as he passed-out. He heard a wild animal scream of Massan going through the agony of a painful death.I am coming my brother.. In this instance however. . Now it became a race of who was wounded the worst and who would die first. it hit its victim in a particularly vulnerable location.. As they lay face-to-face unable to move.matter where it struck. He knew by the length of his thrust that he had done fatal damage to Massan’s internal organs. You will all die. Massan winced in pain. Matt senses began to fail and his eyes began going in and out of focus. Massan groaned and spoke in a whispering gurgle.. The sight took on a vision of a man-creature moving around on all fours with what looked to be a rigid tail. By the time the thrust was finished Matt had driven the end of the weight bar a full two feet through Massan’s rectum and deep into his body. Matt caught a glimpse of blood roll across the once white teeth and fall from his mouth..Praise Allah.
He had undergone surgery and his vitals looked normal. The pitiful sounds drew the appropriate question from the nurse. The nurse ran to the room and found her patient curled up in fetal position.. Preston?” The sobbing slowed.to fair condition. “Before you became unconscious several days ago you had a traumatic experience. Subconsciously. Being a police officer was the most important thing to him at one time. “I would think you would want to wake up. Wanting to be Lieutenant.” . the size and thrashing of her patient gave her a feeling of a scene from a Frankenstein movie. The movements tore the I. What happened Doc?” “Well. Mr. But that was a lifetime ago.. as he became aware of the company in the room.to guarded.” she shrugged.” Matt was awake but not fully aware of the meaning of what he had just heard. Making his parents and children proud. Lieutenant Preston. It tore open the femoral artery. The medical report cleared him from critical. He was nauseous. “Are you OK Mr. “to face your hero’s welcome. The nurse tried to remain calm. Matt delayed the painful situation he left behind. The sound was mental pain coming from Matt’s room. Preston.” Matt continued looking down with shame to avoid eye contact.V. Facing the deaths of Shannon and his children was all he could think of. out of his arm and the stand crashed to the floor. “No shit . tubes and stand.” “No wait!” he yelled after her as he clawed at the air with his arm. he was avoiding having to confront the painful deaths of Shannon and his children During the fourth day of unconsciousness the night nurse heard a deep sobbing coming down the hall. His stomach cramped and he doubled over to the fetal position for relief from the gut-wrenching. She knew she was outsized and headed out the door calling back over her shoulder. “I will be right back with the Doctor. All medical indications suggest it will heel perfectly. His throat was dry and raw from the four days of sleep. his unconsciousness could not be explained by his physical condition. During the sleep there was a mental and emotional heeling taking place. He was holding onto the sheets like an infant holds on to his security blanket sucking his thumb. Chapter 32 . However he remained in a deep sleep. however. Matt clutched at his throat. Each doctor took one side of the bed while the nurse addressed the fallen I. Day after day. Wanting to be the hero. I would like to help you sort it all out. Medically. The nurse returned with two doctors.V.Wakeup Call MATT PRESTON’S HOSPITAL room had a constant flow of visitors. patiently waiting until Matt regained his strength to awaken. “How are you feeling Lieutenant Preston?” Matt focused on the title directed to him. physically you sustained a gun shot wound to your right thigh. Now the job was meaningless. Grief swept over him like a painful shockwave.
He needed to know the medical condition of Shannon and his children but he was afraid to ask. since you discovered the source and we put out a warning. you are gonna hurt yourself. wounded. what happened to the others . the plague? I saw my son bleeding from his eyes. I’m afraid we did not develop the vaccine in time to save them. Shannon was having fun and presented the next paper with a mock drum roll. he mopped up behind the scenes. Matt. And now he wakes up a hero with future plagues thwarted. Nobody has given a tally.” “Nurse Evans tried to explain to you earlier. They can use it to make vaccines to counteract any future threat by that strain. He had gone from being at the mercy of a madman. Big headlines filled the front page. “Wow.” The wave of nausea returned to Matt.. and you are still a pompous ass’. Tony’s plot was over. the news keeps getting better and better. I reckon he could have stopped by to deliver it himself.“No.” She laid a Peoria Post across his lap. but that would have been too much testosterone in the room at one time. “What did he do?” “Calm down. you don’t know? After you saved the day with that exhibition in the weight room. Little did they know Agent Davis. This time the headline read: HERO OF THE DAY.. After you and Slack figured out the delivery and distribution of the poison. You are a national hero. According to news reports. Oh yeah. here are a few of the headlines that came out while you were getting your beauty rest. But what about the people who already caught the disease?” “They will die. He wanted to return to sleep. bleeding to death.” “He said that?” Matt said smiling. and then again publicly with a parade.” The picture started to sink in of how pivotal the fight with Massan had been..” “Did Davis get ‘em?” “Many of them. The rolls of toilet paper in our mouths did not contain the disease. Shannon moved over to Matt’s shoulder and pressed him back horizontal. He developed a sting on their whole organization.” Shannon went to the desk in the corner of the room and picked up a stack of newspapers. nobody else has become afflicted. There was a huge distribution ring ready to ship the disease to every public restroom that was reachable by truck. It was scary what could have happened to our country… and the whole world for that matter. the plot is bigger than just the two brothers.” “How do you feel. However. I am so proud of you. Agent Davis swapped boxes at Validor the night before. but it wasn’t deadly. sure.” “Davis!” Matt blurted out.” She took a deep breath and recited. “He said to tell you ‘he owes you. when you are up to it. He wants to thank you privately. Davis gave me a message to pass along to you. “Shannon!” Matt sat up so fast the bed bounced against the wall. but I softened it a bit. It didn’t taste so good. “I think he used the word ass-hole. and our country owes you. Yes. SAFETY ALERT: Department of Homeland Security warns to avoid public paper products until further notice. A subtitle was circled that read: Peoria’s Mayor and Police Chief praise .” “A national what?” “The President has called daily to ask of your condition. “Easy big guy. Peoria Detective Matt Preston Saves Thousands of Lives: by Darrel Billington. “And speaking of the news. you’ll pull out your stitches. are you OK? What about Dan and Kelly?” “Oh. The terror cells are pretty deep according to the papers.” “As far as they knew we were. He was thrilled at the buckets of unused bio-chemicals they found. Not about me. It was then that an angel entered the room smiling.. and ready to die. His angel. All he could think to say was. “Yeah.” “But how? Those bastards told me you were poisoned.” Matt still didn’t believe or understand what was said.
Take your time. “What does Colletti think about all this? Last I remember the Mayor wanted my head on a chopping block.” Chief Wilson shuffled in accompanied by a beautiful young. just hold that thought. Mayor Colletti can’t run for re-election again and he has thrown your name in for consideration. I can hear the media stirring. no more acting Lieutenant. how’s Jerry?” “Jerry is doing OK.. he gave you the most credit of all. See ya when you are ready to get back to work. before I forget. to see myself from another perspective. raped?” She got emotional at the seriousness in his question. “Hey.Preston’s assertiveness and selfconfidence.” “No really Shannon. “Is it OK if Chief Wilson in? Your children have been notified you are awake. leaned over to Matt’s ear and spoke quietly.” “Get over yourself. Hero-boy. “But like I told you.” “Well we gotta go. The last few days he has been your largest proponent of your accomplishments.” Sofie waved daintily. “Preston.” She said with a grin. The plan is for him to be up-andaround in about four-months.” Wilson said with a laugh. I guess there’ll be time for Larry King and Jay Leno later. Let’s see how you feel after women throw themselves at you. Chief Wilson.” Wilson cleared his throat. speaking of the President. It is about us. I guess the word is out that you are awake.” Matt laughed that Wilson was explaining his politically correct motives to him and asked. All the time you want.” “Oh yeah. I realize I am insensitive and self-absorbed much of the time. Their mother is on the way with them. this whole mess has brought me to the realization that my life is not worth anything without you in it. And what I figured out is that it is not all about me. He wants to publish an exclusive on you. I have just been trying to figure things out about myself. Jerry’s just down the hall.” “Shannon. I’m afraid not as good as you. “were you abused by Massan? You know. I love you.” Preston lifted his eyebrows involuntarily. My hair looks terrible. He took the shot pretty hard in his liver. Matt took advantage of being alone for the moment.” “I guess if you are going to rise from the dead.” Even as a hero the dreaded word media conjured up his fear of public speaking.. With the President looking over my shoulder I had to.” As her eyes started to tear up. You could end up my boss. I had never been so vulnerable. And Billington too.” Shannon smiled. hero. The President insisted.. “Shannon. Miss Fitzgibbons. Full pay. it was the politically correct thing to do. thin blonde right off the pages of a fashion magazine. “Nice to meet you. I was worried too. Before I forget to tell you. “Doctor please keep everyone out.” “Ah.” Matt changed to a serious voice and whispered. Preston may I have your autograph?” . Easter Sunday is as good of time as any. “That can be arranged. “Shannon.” “Nice meeting ya’ll..” The doctor straight faced said. “What a horrible photo. “Actually no. before I lost consciousness I was able to see things. The bastard drugged me and I passed out. “There will be time for us later. I thought I was a goner. you are officially promoted to Homicide Detective.” “And speaking of jobs. Doctor Lee checked me over and found no evidence.” The doctor peered in apologetically.” not able to look her in the eyes. “Mr. He has to go through therapy. Matt thought Self-confidence? I thought they called me an arrogant and loony caveman. Everyone until I’ve seen my children. Matt groaned pretending not to grasp the meaning of the public accolades. I didn’t like what I saw. “Well actually. Around the time that bastard was standing over me ready to smash my head. my wife Sofie. be careful what you wish for. You understand.
See her in.” Matt tried to refrain from the vision of Sarah pointing up in the stands like Babe Ruth . “Dad. but of course.” “Unbelievable. “Hey bud..” Matt grinned. You are the one who saved my ass. He was dead by the time everyone arrived. Dan slumbered in. that one was outta the park!” Shannon stepped in and explained with her arm around her friend. too cool to show emotion. “Hey Dad.” Matt said making a praying gesture. “She just saved it until it really. “Dad. sensitive. “and a great lover. come in. Shannon moved to answer it. huh Shannon?” Shannon responded. “Sarah. really counted. Everyone laughed. I’m gonna point and call my shot. you were right.” “I won’t say ‘I told you so’. you really did rip that guy a new asshole. I think you were right about there being two sides to the story.” “Yeah.” “Well. glad you are OK.” he said contritely as he looked down at the floor. He played along.” “Mom is licking her chops with the insurance money she’s gonna get.” Kelly squeezed her dad’s biceps.” Dan added.” “Well. “My daddy has big strong arms. I was trapped in my office when Tony and his brother brought Shannon in.” Sarah joked. She turned holding the door only slightly open and said in her best British-butler accent.Matt scribbled onto her newspaper and eyed her rear-end as she left. Dad!” Kelly screamed all excited and wound up. “And she dropped the lawsuit against you and the City for Kelly’s arm. The party wouldn’t be complete without the one who made it all possible. give me a break. What were you doing there at the YMCA?” “I used the day before Easter to catch on some volunteer work. “Wilson? Who da thunk it?” Just then the door burst open.” Matt groaned and then smiled.” Sarah timidly poked her head around the corner. “Pretty perceptive Kelly. I thought I was caught when Tony went into the office to get another chair. “There’s a Miss Sarah Rosen in the hall. “Sorry. Sofie and I spent a lot of time talking in the waiting room. She lost her lawyer. Her face was still swollen and cut from the beating she received from Massan. believe me.” Kelly chirped. According to her she finds him a stabilizing force in her life. That fucking towel-head…” Daniel glanced around the room and changed his words to fit the audience.. Matt looked at the swelling above his son’s eye and asked. “I’m sorry I didn’t do much for poor Stan. from what I hear. You didn’t know everything at age twelve either. Dan leaned over so only his dad could hear the profanity. Tiny Sarah would not register on Matt’s Physical Threat Potential scale and yet she saved his life. Tore it out in one pull. He is good with her kids. I stayed hidden in my office until the right moment. what does she see in that toad? “What a nice couple. Shall she be allowed entry to this place of worship?” Matt howled at the words and accent.you’ll have the scar the rest of your life to remind you. a great communicator. what’s goin’ on? I heard you were up. but you saved my ass.” leaning over to whisper. Matt thought to himself.” Father and son smiled at each other showing big toothy grins. “You still think America is too hard on those terrorist guys?” “Come on Dad. be nice.” “Like the ‘The Mouse that Roared’. “Now Matt.” Matt flexed and smiled down to her. Matt beamed with pride. I was hiding under my desk on my knees praying… and it wasn’t to Allah. You were fantastic. why don’t you make contact in your softball games like you did on that guy’s head. Man.” There was a weak knock at the door. “Yes. “What happened to your artwork?” “Don’t rub it in. “Next time I’m up at the plate. that sick dude ripped it out.
work in progress. that was fine with him.” Matt’s phone chirped a text. “You may have made progress but the sign says different. it’s the keys to a Jaguar. he could still knock them back by remembering … we are simply animals. Chapter 33 – Construction ahead THREE WEEKS LATER Matt stepped out of the wheelchair and shuffled toward his truck. Matt’s life had been at rock bottom four days ago with a gun pointed at him and a 50 pound weight ready to crush his skull. “Sure. Matt and Shannon looked at each other and laughed as they saw the construction sign that read SLOW . Shannon joked. Even Massan gave me a lesson on seeing the other guy’s outlook.” Matt chuckled.” Matt reached into his pocket and held something up. His resurrection gave him a new perspective. Jerry was seated in a wheelchair with his wife at his side to see them off. “Massan can have his paradise. I got something for you. Matt faked a laugh at Sarah’s joke. “Holy shit Bev. As they drove from the hospital there was some construction taking place in the roadway. “Seems like a lifetime ago. We worry.the same entrance where Matt and Jerry had confronted the wild-eyed boy four weeks earlier. I called in a favor too. People provide me with fresh insights. Matt thought if the size of the wedding ring is inversely proportional to the size of the bride’s butt. I listen now.” Jerry and his wife squinted to see what he was holding. Due to the size difference she was actually more trouble than assistance.” Shannon scooted the seat forward and started the truck. Shannon was with him and trying to help him walk. Sarah taught me strength isn’t everything. things appear clearer now. An on this day every visitor brought him better and better news. After being so close to death. Matt closed his eyes. But he felt different and embraced the change. After I awoke in the hospital. “Take care. “Do you want me to drive?” Matt usually drove he had control over his movements. “Shannon would you please run these over to Jerry?” As she walked away Matt’s eyes fell to the shape of her perfect size-2 rear end tastefully displayed in her tight jeans.perpetuating the species. “Thanks partner!” Jerry yelled. Don’t let him drive too fast Bev.” At the truck Shannon offered. “Hey Jerry. It was from his father… Out today? Do not drink too much hero. And looking over at Shannon. Wilson showed me looks aren’t everything. Nervously. good buddy. All I need for paradise is you in my life and your sculptured body sitting on my lap. but Matt gave no hint as she tried to help. PS Newspaper wants my interview.understanding things from other people’s point of view. Whatever complexities were dealt him in life. Shannon opened her hand and Jerry recognized the emblem of a large elongated cat. I don’t need 72 virgins.” Even with his new outlook. . I guess you can thank Allah. Matt’s knees hit the dash and he pretended not to notice. Matt had his standby “ace in the hole”. And that speaking your mind all the time is selfish. It’s yours now.with a withered arm. “Remember this door?” Jerry yelled to Matt. he better get a second mortgage on his house for the purchase. learned back thought about his newly acquired fake laugh… it needed some practice to improve.” “What’s got into you?” “I’ve been thinking. “Where is it and where did it come from?” “It is in the City impound lot. I feel like I have a new life. You drive Shannon. I will bust him.” They waved goodbye from the hospital entrance.
Gina Russell. Harris County Public Library Book Club. Lee Child. David Martino. I would like to acknowledge my enjoyment of the following authors whose works motivated me to write: Nelson DeMille. “As Jackie Gleason would say ‘a little traveling music Sam’.” Matt joined the tape keeping beat on the dashboard and singing loudly to his favorite Guns ‘n’ Roses song. Greg Martino for editing and content contributions. Ellis McCullough for content review. for his plot contributions. Billie Cardillo. . for her impressions and points of view. Dan Martino.Matt popped out his Led Zeppelin and inserted a new tape into the player. for her editing and content contributions. Tony Hillerman. “Welcome to the Jungle It gets worse here every day Learn to live like an animal In the jungle where we play…” AKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank the following people for having an input on the material in this story. Dan Dougan for his creative review. Pamelia Grooms.” Shannon followed the cue and said. Mona Coulombe. and early James Patterson. for his editing and content contributions. John Sanford. “How sweet it is.