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The chronological order of my stories is now listed in WifeWatchman’s biography.
Feedback and constructive criticism is very much appreciated, and I encourage feedback for ideas.
This story contains graphic scenes, language and actions that might be extremely offensive to some people. These scenes, words and actions are used only for the literary purposes of this story. The author does not condone murder, racial language, violence, rape or violence against women, and any depictions of any of these in this story should not be construed as acceptance of the above.
Part 5 – Self-Inflicted Wounds
“Good work.” I said, my whole being feeling relief. “I thought this one was about to get away from y’all.”
“Have faith, Don.” Cindy said. “I realized it on the way back from Westphalia, and called Tanya to make the arrest. We’re still looking for the money, though.”
“We’ll get that.” I said as I listened to the interrogation going on, seeing Rudistan listening as Theo and Teddy tried to elicit a confession. But they were not succeeding.
“The biggest problem I have,” I said to Cindy, “is that it is very hard to teach good interrogation techniques in practice sessions. You have the mind to do it, but I fear these guys haven’t learned enough yet.”
“Then teach by example, Commander.” Cindy said, more in the tone of an order. I knocked on the glass. Teddy and Theo came to the anteroom.
“Commander!” Teddy gasped when he saw me. “We… we didn’t know you were back yet.”
“Sorry if I spoiled any surprise birthday parties.” I said. “Come to the one my wife and mom are throwing at the Mountain Nest tonight. In the meantime, what is this guy telling you?”
“Nothing yet, sir.” said Theo. “I feel like he’s playing with us. We read him his rights, and while he hasn’t formally invoked yet, he won’t tell us anything.”
Cindy said “Commander, perhaps these Detectives could learn from the Master when it comes to interrogation techniques? No reflection on you guys, just watch and learn.”
“Sure.” I said. I entered the Interrogation Room. I very slowly and deliberately walked to the chair on my side of the table, my blue eyes boring into the suspect’s. He tried to play bravado, but I could sense the fear beginning to well up behind his eyes. I sat down, continuing to bore into him, feeling my surroundings, and feeling his fear… which only caused me to bore down with even more intensity.
“Okay, Mr. Ben Knight,” I said at last, the sound of my voice almost making him jump, “I know you’ve been read your Constitutional rights. I also must say that I am insulted. For you to come into my Town and County and try to pull off something this easy to figure out. No respect for my reputation. Simply. No. Respect.”
Knight tried bravado. “You ain’t got nothing on me, Iron Crowbar. Nuthin’.”
I said “We shall see. I didn’t even see the crime scene, but I can tell you what happened just from my Officers’ excellent reports. After Richard Norris left, you went into the office with your gun in your hand, and you fired a bullet into Quentin Bishop’s head. You put a fresh cartridge into your gun, then took the money pack as well as the money in the open safe. You then made the mistake of closing the safe, which was habit for an employee like you, but an outside burglar would leave it open and run. After that, you took the money somewhere and hid it, along with the fired cartridge casing.”
“Then where is the money, Mr. Brainiac?” snarled Knight.
“I suggest you show me more respect, Mr. Knight.” I said. “We are talking a death penalty case here, but I might save the State the trouble and get a little crowbar practice right now. As I was saying: after you took the money and hid it, you went back inside.”
I saw his eyes flicker, and I knew I was right to surmise he’d taken the money out of the building, most likely to his car. I drove on: “You took your own .357 Magnum, which had a light load of .38 Specials instead of full power cartridges, and you turned the gun and fired it… at yourself. Having a .357 Magnum myself, I know that it spits out powder very badly. And .38s in a .357 can spit out powder even worse. You got sprayed on both arms, as you were holding the gun with both hands.”
Though he tried not to show it, Knight’s eyes fell as he realized I was seeing through his ruse. “So,” I said, “you took a bullet to your armored vest, which still hurt like hell. You waited for some minutes; indeed, you may have really blacked out. But at some point you finally called 9-1-1, and acted every bit the victim.”
“You will never prove that.” said Knight.
I pointed at the one-way glass. Cindy popped her head in the door. I said “Where is this bozo’s car parked?”
“Still at the pawn shop.” said Cindy.
“Get a warrant.” I said. “I want you to take Sergeant Stonewall and Sergeant Seymour to the car when you find it. You might have Seymour sniff inside the safe first, then sniff the car; he’ll smell the residual scent, but I expect him to smell the shell of a fired cartridge. Stonewall haramidere escort might smell any residual drugs on the money, and who knows, you may find drugs too. But either way, I expect the money to be found secreted somewhere in the car. Maybe the engine block.”
I went on: “If the money is not in the car, have the dogs search around the place, look for manhole covers, everything. When you find the money… and you will find it in the area… call me on my Police cellphone, which is in my pocket. But don’t call me if you don’t find anything, just come back here. Last, send ADA Patterson in here.”
As Cindy left, I turned to Knight. “Here’s the deal, ‘Brainiac’.” I said. “Once they find the money, it’s all over for you. You give a full confession before my phone rings, and you might avoid the death penalty. You might even get possibility of parole. But once my phone rings… they’ll strap you to the same table they strapped Lance Priemus, and maybe, just maybe your death will not be as agonizing as his was.”
Paulina Patterson came in, and I apprised her of the situation and my offer. She said to Knight “I agree. I’ll offer 25-to-life, possibility of parole, as long as the Commander’s phone hasn’t rung yet.”
We waited. The silence was interminable. I just stared at Knight. He tried to stare back, but he knew he was beaten. Would he talk before my phone rang?
The minutes ticked by. I just stared, seeing him start to sweat. Paulina and Sergeant Rudistan looked tense, also wondering if Knight would break before the phone went off–
*BRING!* *BRING!* * BRING!*
Everyone jumped. I took my cellphone out of my pocket and answered it.
“Stuffed into the engine, in a space behind the block.” said Cindy. “Both dogs alerted, and we got it all on videotape.”
“Good work, Captain.” I said. “Process it, then come on back.” As I disconnected the call, I looked at Knight. “So sorry, Mr. Knight, but it’s checkmate. You lose.” I got up and headed to the door to the anteroom.
“Wait!” gasped Knight. “I’ll tell you everything. You gotta give me the deal!”
I just laughed and turned back to the door.
“Come on, man!” Knight desperately gasped. “I’ll save you a trial!”
I turned back. “You’ll have to do a lot more than that now, bozo.” I said, slowly walking back to the table, towering over him with my height. “You’re going to tell me… everything. Who put you up to this, where Richard Norris is… and why Belfort’s badge was lying on the floor.”
“Badge?” said Knight, shock and unknowing written all over his face, “I… I don’t know nothin’ about no badge.” I turned to walk away.
“Wait!” he said. “Really, I don’t know anything about any badge! I’ll tell you the rest, I’ll tell you what I know! But I don’t know anything about any badges. Give me the deal and I’ll give you everything I have!”
I turned to Paulina. “I’m going to send Parker in here. If Mr. Knight here talks, take Death off the table. We can decide on the 25-to-life depending upon what he gives us.” With that I left the room.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The party at the Mountain Nest was in full swing. Laura had had a large canvas tent put up in the back patio area, with a string of lights illuminating the inside and heated by an air blower. After I’d blown out the 32(!) candles, with my daughter Carole helping me then clapping her little hands in delight, we were sitting around eating cake and snacks as darkness took command of the evening.
Paulina Patterson had just arrived, looking beautiful in her pregnant condition, and I insisted she get some refreshment before saying a word about the Bishop/Knight/Pawn case. Finally, a group of us were settled around, which included Paulina, me, Cindy, and Tanya.
“Knight didn’t give us a whole lot that you didn’t already know, Don… and Cindy.” Paulina said. “He admits to reloading the bullets himself. He admits to killing Bishop after Norris left. He admits to hiding the money and then shooting at himself. He says he came up with the idea all by himself, and he did it because he was tired of being poor and seeing all that money floating around. He also says he doesn’t know where Norris is, and he has no idea about any badge nor who Louise Belfort is.”
“More holes than swiss cheese in that.” said Cindy.
“How so?” I asked, letting Cindy play Iron Crowbar with the solution.
“His partner and Belfort had some history.” Cindy said. “And Knight didn’t know about that? But her badge appears on the scene? And Norris has completely disappeared, has not been back to his home… where his car is parked and has not moved. Rudistan served an arrest warrant for him this afternoon, but it was ‘no joy’. House was empty, and it didn’t look like he hastily packed, nor was there any blood or signs of struggle or foul play. Maybe Knight killed him at or near the pawn shop, or even made it up that Norris was there after killing Norris earlier. At any rate, it’s too coincidental for me.”
“We have an APB içerenköy escort out for Norris.” said Tanya. “I’ve asked Myron Milton and David Krueger to gather what they can on Norris, Belfort, and of course their incident from the past. I also told them not to stay up all night on it, and to make sure to be seen at this party.” Indeed, Myron, Mary and David were talking to Teresa and Todd at the other end of the tent.
“That’s fine with me.” said Paulina. “I told Knight that he hadn’t earned a deal with parole yet, that he should sleep on it and consider telling us everything.”
“That’s all good.” I said. That got Cindy peering at me.
“I get the feeling…” she said, “that you think Knight is telling the truth.”
“Yes.” I said. “Yes I do. That should not be confused with him not telling us everything he knows. But I have a feeling that this whole Badge thing is not a part of the Knight vs. Bishop crime. Maybe Knight did away with Norris, in which case you’re spot-on that Norris never was there in the morning, Cindy; but then again, maybe there’s more to it.”
“I can say this.” Paulina said. “Knight had no trouble talking about T-Square and T-Mac. Knight said Quintus may have been running drugs or at least laundering drug money as part of his operation, and that he and Norris met Quintus through T-Square.”
“That gives me an idea.” I said.
Part 6 – The Lockhart Badge
On Tuesday morning, October 27th, I went into Interrogation-2 with Paulina Patterson in one final attempt to coax Ben Knight to give us what he had. On this occasion, Knight had a Court-appointed attorney to assist him and make sure we didn’t try any tricks, legal or otherwise.
“Okay, Mr. Knight,” I said, keeping it formal and clean, “we already have a deal to not seek the death penalty in exchange for your confession, which you’ve given. That’s a done deal. And you can’t be in any worse situation than you are in now. So if you did something to Norris, now is the time to tell us.”
“Look, man,” said Knight, “I told you, I told the A.D.A. Ms. Patterson here, I’ve told everyone: Norris left after bringing Quintus and the money to the shop. I have no idea where he went or what he did, and I have no idea where he is now.”
“Let me ask this.” I said, getting out my Police iPhone and bringing up a photograph. “Do you recognize this man?” It was a very blurry photograph of a man disguised, taken from the day of Agent Reubens’ death in Coltrane County. (Author’s note: Pink Lemonade)
“You know, I’ve seen him before.” said Knight. “Maybe around the clubs.”
“Not in the pawnshop?” I asked. Knight shook his head as I brought up another photo.
“What about this guy?” I asked.
“Oh yeah, I’ve seen him.” said Knight. “I saw him talking to Quintus several times. Always wearing that trenchcoat and hat. Saw him talking to Norris too, but I never asked who he was and Norris never said anything.”
“What about this one?” I asked.
“That’s Bonita. Quintus’s wife.” said Ben. “I have no idea where she is, either.”
“How well did you know her?”
“We were on friendly terms, got along.” said Knight. “Haven’t seen her since she and Quintus got divorced. That was well over a year ago.”
“Why did their marriage crumble? What was going on between them?” At that the lawyer bent over and whispered something to Knight.
“That calls for my client’s speculation.” the lawyer said. “I don’t want any charges of lying to police based upon such speculation, so I’m advising my client to not answer that question. It should not affect the plea deal in any way, as it is not a part of this crime.”
“Oooo-kay.” I said. “Well, let me ask you some more questions, and if you answer these truthfully and fully, I might convince the ADA here to allow possibility of parole after 25 years. First, you were so on the straight-and-narrow that you got 1099 forms for cash payments and paid taxes… when you could’ve pocketed a lot of cash without the IRS knowing a thing… yet you resorted to murder? Whassup with that, Ben?”
“First of all,” said Knight, “it was Norris that insisted on being squeaky clean. I went along, but I’m not going to tell you I would’ve been so scrupulous about it if it’d just been me. And second, like I told you before, I got tempted by the money. Do you know what it’s like to watch well over a hundred thousand dollars in dirty money pass by your eyes every single day, so close, almost within reach?”
“Actually I do,” I said, “as my Evidence Rooms contain things of untold value. But that’s another story. Just one more question, Mr. Knight: I believe you were being paid on the side to keep tabs on T-Square, T-Mac, or both. Who was paying you to do that?”
Paulina had a stunned look on her face, and the legal beagle also looked clueless. But I’d seen it in Ben Knight’s eyes… he knew that I was right.
“All I’m going to say about that,” said Knight, “is that you might as well put me to death, because if I answered that question, I’ll be dead innovia escort tomorrow morning. No thanks, Mr. Iron Crowbar.”
“Okay, Ms. Patterson.” I said. “Death is off the table, but I have no reason to suggest giving this man parole. And Mr. Knight… we’ve taken death off the table on behalf of the State… but that doesn’t mean that it’s not on that someone else’s mind for you. We can protect you… but only if you let us, and help us. You have a nice day, and think about it… while there is still time.” With that I got up and left the Interrogation Room.
“So whose picture did you show him? The trenchcoat and hat?” asked Cindy, who had watched from the anteroom. I showed her the photo, and she gasped.
It was former TCPD Police Officer and now-SBI Agent Leonard “Sergeant” Sharples.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
At 11:00am, Tuesday, October 27th, we had a meeting in Classroom ‘E’ behind MCD. Present were myself, Captain Cindy Ross, Lieutenants Tanya Perlman and Teresa Croyle, Detectives Theo Washington, Teddy Parker, and Joanne Cummings, Sergeant Micah Rudistan, Supervisor Myron Milton, and Technical Specialist (and Detective-to-be) David Krueger.
Myron started us off: “In addition to what we’ve found on Belfort before, I’ve found a few new things. First, I reported before that Belfort had a run-in with Cpt. Wexler of the City Police. But it seemed the animosity didn’t last, because Ms. Belfort and Cpt. Wexler had later dealings.
“Because of that, the FBI interviewed Ms. Belfort after Cpt. Wexler was busted for murder, and this was done with lawyers present as a deposition. Ms. Belfort stated that the confrontation over drug raids was staged, to give Ms. Belfort credibility with her tenants in the Projects, while at the same time Ms. Belfort could become a Confidential Informant and pass on to Cpt. Wexler information about certain drug gangs that she, Ms. Belfort, would acquire.”
“Fortunately for her, she did not end up like other Confidential Informants of Susan Wexler.” I said drily. “So does anyone care to guess why they did this quid pro quo?”
“Politics.” said Joanne Cummings. “Ms. Belfort wanted to look good in front of her people and have a name in the Black community as someone who stood up against Police. Wexler went along, and got behind-the-scenes information in return.”
“Captain Ross,” I said, “Despite Detective Cummings’s efforts to appear young and naive, I am seeing through her disguises and deducing that she is astutely blowing the ‘dumb blonde’ theory to hell. Guys, watch out of these blondes.” That got a tepid laugh.
“Watch out for the redheads, too.” said Cindy. “They just tell worse jokes than we do.” A red crowbar was waved in Cindy’s general direction.
“And Belfort took money from Wexler?” I asked.
“Yes sir.” said Myron. “Standard C.I. payments. If there was more, it was under the table, likely in cash. David?”
Krueger said “I contacted some people I know about Louise Belfort as head of the State Housing Authority. Her career underlings handle the day-to-day operations, so there’s no real complaints internally. Having said that, there is no one that will say publicly nor privately that she is a good administrator. Like any politician, she makes sure to spend all of the money allotted to her Department and then find reasons to ask for more.”
Krueger paused, then said “I did find out two things that were told to me in some confidence, ‘off the record’ if you will. They told me that Belfort has some of her people, just a few, and scattered about the State, that she has private sessions with. Off the record, not official meetings and so not under the Open Meetings Act provisions. They often go to dinner, and it is not expensed nor comped. No one has any clue what these meetings are about, but the people in the group actually run housing projects in various cities and communities across the State.”
“Now that…” I said, “… is interesting.” I was going into a reverie, but Cindy stopped me.
“Let’s talk about Norris before the Commander goes off into dream-land.” she said. A red crowbar was again waved in her general direction, but I concurred with her sentiment to keep the meeting moving.
David Krueger said “First, the incident between Norris and Belfort. Norris is a registered Republican, and was placed in an appointed position in CHA when Mayor Phelps was first elected. Norris worked on the campaign of a State Senatorial candidate at the time, and while that candidate lost, Norris was commended for his ‘loyalty’. Not competency, but loyalty.”
“Norris was younger and idealistic then,” said Krueger. “He evaluated the staff on the merits, not on political gravitas–“
“There’s that word again.” I said. Seeing everyone look at me, I said “Sorry, it’s an old joke that my military unit had whenever someone used words like ‘gravitas’ and ‘behoove’, and such. Sorry for the interruption, carry on.”
Krueger was grinning, knowing our Police Academy class also had chanted something whenever certain words were used, led by Yours Truly. He continued, saying “Yes sir. Norris and Belfort did not get along at all. He wrote her up twice for being late, put a note in her file about general insubordination and failure to carry out instructions, and he gave some scathing reviews to her. He even recommended her raise be denied and her bonus withheld. He also did this for three other people, two of them White.”
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