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Pink Lemonade Ch. 02

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Blonde

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 6 – A Study In Pink (Lemonade)

“Secure this scene!” I ordered my fellow officers, instinctively using military language. “Secure the entire perimeter! No one leaves or enters!” Cindy Ross immediately took charge. Coltrane County police were also coming up, and she took control of them, too. I began looking around, seeing a plastic cup with pink droplets between Reubens’s left hand and his left side. It was the only cup on the ground in the area. Taking latex gloves out of my pocket, which I always carried, I put them on, then carefully picked up the cup.

“Anyone have an evidence bag?” I asked. Tanya Perlman did (of course), and I put the cup in it, then wrote the necessary information on the bag. She and I further examined the mortal remains of SBI Agent Jeff Reubens, finding little except his wallet, which had only a couple hundred dollars and some credit cards. His SBI badge was not on his person at all.

It soon became chaos in the area, but police got the perimeter under control. Sheriff Sorrells came up to me.

“Consider your help asked for.” he drawled. “What happened here?”

“Looks like this man was poisoned by cyanide.” I said. I scanned the crowds. I saw TCPD and Coltrane County officers keeping people back as the ambulance and EMTs arrived…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Cindy and I logged in as SBI Reservists, having been asked by Sheriff Sorrells. I told both Coltrane County and TCPD Law Enforcement to begin taking statements, not worrying about jurisdictions. It was then that several crying Girl Scouts came up to me. I called Laura over as I saw them approach, knowing I would need the help of the (to me) world’s greatest psychiatrist.

“Are you the Iron Crowbar?” the tallest girl asked.

“Uh, yeah.” I said. “What’s the matter, girls?”

“It’s my fault!” one of the girls said through her sobs. “I killed him!”

“How could you have done that?” I asked in the calmest, sweetest voice I could muster. I had the girl sit down next to me and Laura on a nearby bench. “What’s your name?”

“Margaret.” sobbed the girl.

“What happened, Margaret?” I asked. “Take a breath, then tell me what happened.”

“We were selling lemonade, and this man came behind me with a cup of pink lemonade.” Margaret said. “He said this other guy liked pink lemonade and asked me to give it to him. So I did, and then the man I gave it to drank it and fell down and died!” Margaret started crying again.

“Honey, it’s not your fault!” Laura said, hugging the girl. “I drank the pink lemonade too, and I’m fine. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“That’s right.” I said. “Margaret, can you tell me what that man looked like?” I noticed Cindy standing near me, listening and taking notes.

“He had a hat on, and sunglasses and a big mustache and beard. I think his hair was brown. His beard was brown.” Margaret said.

“Was his voice deep, or kind of high?” I asked.

“It was kind of soft, like he was whispering.” Margaret said.

“Was he tall or short? Fat or skinny?”

“I… I’m not sure how tall he was.” Margaret said. “He was kind of big, not like a fat belly, but big all over.”

“I see.” I said. I talked to the other Girl Scouts, who said they had not really seen the man. They also said that there was only one pitcher of pink lemonade, and they only sold it when specifically asked for it. Tanya Perlman and Joanne Cummings were already confiscating all of the contents of the Girl Scout booth, which would become evidence to be ankara eryaman escortlar tested.

I said “Margaret, you’ve been very helpful to us, and this is not your fault at all. What are your parents’ names?” Margaret told us, as well as her phone number.

“Okay, we’re going to call your parents and tell them what happened. And I’m going to tell them what I’m telling you now: I don’t want to hear you blaming yourself ever again, okay?”

“Okay.” Margaret said, pretending to concede. But I knew this was going to haunt this young girl for a long, long time…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

At 2:30pm I was in the Coltrane County Sheriff’s Office. With me was Cindy Ross, Sheriff Sorrells, Tanya Perlman, and SBI Agent Ted Crenshaw, who’d arrived an hour before. I’d also received a text from the Governor of the State, Val Jared, calling me and Cindy up for full-time SBI duty to investigate Agent Reubens’ death.

Just then the door opened… and in walked SBI Director Jack Lewis. With him were SBI Agents Grigsby and Greenwalt.

“Sheriff Sorrells,” Lewis announced, not bothering to say hello or introduce himself or anyone else, “the SBI is taking over this case.”

“No you’re not.” said Sheriff Sorrells, not rising to the bait and instead keeping calm. “I’ve asked these SBI Reservists to help, but I haven’t called you in, nor am I conceding the case to you. This is my jurisdiction.”

“This is an SBI internal matter now.” said Lewis. “And I’m taking it over because it’s an SBI Agent’s death. That’s the law.”

“Director Lewis,” I said, “why don’t you sit down with us and discuss this, rather than use your usual ‘bull-in-a-china-shop” approach…”

“You’re off the case, Mr. Iron Crowbar.” said Lewis. “Full-time SBI Agents are taking this over.”

“C’mon, Lewis.” I said loudly. “I know you got cc’d the Governor’s text directly calling me up. You know it’s my case now… unless you persuade the Governor himself to take me off. Good luck with that.”

“Ah shit.” muttered Lewis, seeing his bullying gambit had failed. “All right. I guess we have to work together again. Is Ms. Ross going to be part of this?”

“Of course.” I said.

“Hey, wait a minute–” started Sorrells.

“Sheriff,” I said, “we will keep you well within the loop, but Director Lewis is right: since this is an assassination of an SBI Agent, they can come in.”

“As long as you are leading it, I won’t make trouble about it.” said Sorrells.

“Not your call.” said Lewis. “I’m putting Grigsby and Greenwalt in charge–“

“No, Lewis, you’re not.” I said, standing up. “You can put Crenshaw as co-lead with me on this, but that’s as far as I’m giving you. Now if you want to know who murdered your agent, back off, stop the theatrics, and let us get to work. Your gubernatorial campaign is not going to direct nor affect our actions, Lewis. Capice?”

That one stung, but Lewis did the smart thing: he conceded to the righteous might of the Crowbar(s).

Part 7 – The Investigation

Sunday, August 9th. At 10:00am, the meeting convened in the main conference room of Town either he was doing a supreme acting job, or he really didn’t know.”

“Crenshaw, you’ll have to look into that.” said Lewis.

“Here’s another question.” I said. “Why did Agent Reubens not have his SBI badge on his person? It wasn’t on his belt nor in any of his pockets, and it wasn’t in the rented car he drove up to Coltrane County. Should he not have had it on his person?”

“Crenshaw?” asked Lewis.

“I…” Crenshaw started, thinking about it. “I can’t think of any reason why he wouldn’t. I don’t know of any undercover mission he was working on.”

“So either his badge was stolen from him at the scene, or he never had it on.” I said. “And either way, that is what I call a… ‘strangeness’.”

“Uh oh.” said Cindy, somewhat under her breath. “That is not a good omen for the perp that did this.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I was in my office, alone with Crenshaw. I was bringing up data on my computer.

“I looked into Reubens’s SBI computer escort etimesgut files last night.” I said. “He left no notes on any cases he was working on in the Northwest Tri-County area, and no notes or calendar entries showing that he was coming up here, much less why he would.”

“How did you get into his files?” Crenshaw asked.

“Oh, I have authorization,” I said. “as an SBI Reserve Lieutenant.” I did not mention that Myron and I had also hacked into the SBI files at much deeper levels, only to still find nothing on why Reubens was in Coltrane County.

“Oh.” said Crenshaw, somewhat surprised. “Well, its a good question. I looked last night into what he was working on. You know he was somewhat in the doghouse with the SBI brass over a failed drug operation?”

“I heard something about that.” I said. “What more can you tell me? In fact, just tell me the whole thing.”

Crenshaw did so, telling me basically what Reubens himself had told me some time before (Author’s note: see ‘Sting of the Scorpion, Ch. 4’ for that), except Crenshaw omitted any details about Sharples being the subject of the investigation. Did Crenshaw know and was hiding that info? I wondered. Or did he really not know?

“What you may not have heard, Commander,” said Crenshaw, “is that since that failure, Reubens became a lot more eccentric. He was getting on his computer looking for dirty SBI Agents. I heard that Inspector Maxwell offered him a job in the Office of Ethics and Review, but he turned it down.”

“Oh really?” I asked idly. “Well, I think that’s the key to the case… that and the fact his SBI badge is missing. He came up for a reason, and he was waxed because of that reason.”

“There is one other theory that some of us have been talking about.” said Crenshaw. “The killer was after either you or your wife, and hit the wrong target.”

“Yeah, I thought of that possibility. And in reply, I again direct your attention to the missing SBI badge.” I said. “So… if that’s true, that the perp was after me or my wife, we need something to back it up. And if it’s true, the killer missed his shot. It’s bad to miss… my wife won’t.”

And neither will I, I thought to myself. Neither will I.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

About 2:00pm that same Sunday, I got a cellphone call, asking me and Cindy, and just the two of us, to come to Campus Police Headquarters and the office of Campus Police Lt. Bill Hanson. We got into my Police SUV and headed over. Upon our arrival, we were surprised to see two unexpected visitors: SBI Agent Ted Orosco, and SBI Inspector Britt Maxwell.

“Hi Britt!” I said, giving the drop-dead gorgeous raven-haired woman a warm hug, remembering our intense sexual coupling just a few days before. I just shook hands with Orosco as Cindy and Britt, once roommates, exchanged a very warm hug with each other.

Lt. Hanson excused himself to give us a chance to talk. After we all sat down, Orosco said “Thanks for coming over. We need to talk with you, and we do not want Director Lewis and his lackey Crenshaw knowing we talked to you.”

“Absolutely.” said Britt.

“Sure.” I said. “What’s it about?”

Orosco said “I’m sure you remember Reubens and me coming up to talk with you last May, about Sharples.”

“Yes, and Captain Ross is aware of that.” I said. Cindy nodded.

“Good.” said Orosco. “We know you gave Sharples that assignment to look into the Oldeeds child trafficking, the case he stumbled onto some years before. That was a pretty neat thing you did in doing that, Commander.”

I said nothing, just nodded shortly.

“At any rate,” Orosco continued, “what you may not know is that Reubens continued to look into Sharples’s past, and to see if he had any connections with dirty SBI agents. The name ‘Dick Ferrell’ comes quickly to mind.”

“No doubt about that.” I said. “Britt, I heard you offered Reubens a job with the State Office of Ethics and Review. My guess is that you wanted to give him some resources behind looking into dirty officers, n’est pas?

“Oui, mon Commandant.” Britt batıkent escort replied. “I knew he was looking into stuff, and I knew Jack Lewis was aware of it and was about to move to fuck both him and Orosco up. So I offered Reubens the job. But he didn’t take it. I’m not sure why not, especially as Lewis was about to do his classic dirty tricks to throw Reubens under the bus.”

“Interesting.” I said. “But let me ask this: do either of you know why Reubens came up to Coltrane County and the Homespun Festival? And without his badge?”

“Yes, at least on why he came up.” said Orosco, his face grave. “And that is why I asked you to come here today. Reubens was keeping me informed of what he was doing, and we were both careful to make no SBI records of it. Reubens thought that Sharples was working for someone, someone big, maybe a Crime Syndicate leader, and that dirty SBI agents might be a part of that Syndicate. He also thought that there was a potential assassination plot against you, Commander.”

“And he may have been right about that.” said a voice in the doorway.

I turned to see FBI Special Agent In Charge Jack Muscone in the doorway. He came on inside and closed the door.

“Sorry to crash your party,” said Muscone, “but I suspect you’re meeting this way so that Jack Lewis won’t know about it, and I don’t want him knowing I’m here, either.” He sat down next to me and said “The FBI is not going to take any active interest in this case unless you call us in, but we are interested behind the scenes and off the record.”

“Keeping your favorite FBI Consultant out of trouble, Special Agent Muscone?” said Britt Maxwell with a grin.

“You might say that, Inspector.” said Muscone. “It’s a full time job, too, considering what happened in the City the other night. Aside from that, we’re also interested in following up on the Oldeeds Organization and connections to other large organizations that we’d like to break up. National syndicates.”

“Ted,” I asked, “any idea who this Crime Syndicate leader is that Sharples might be working with?”

“We thought it might be Thomas P. Cook.” said Orosco. “We also think that there might be some ties to the University, too, and Inspector Maxwell would know more about that than I would. But Reubens and I had no luck at all finding any connections to anything we could really act upon.”

“That’s why they call him the ‘Shadow Man’.” I said. glancing over at Cindy. “Isn’t that right, Crowbar 2?”

“FBI doesn’t believe in the Shadow Man.” Cindy said adroitly. “Or they believe he jumped to his death in the City a few weeks ago.”

“Guys,” I said, having an insight, “why don’t you give me and Agent Orosco a couple of minutes alone?” Everyone looked surprised, especially Orosco, but they got up to go.

I quickly took the bug Jack Muscone had secreted under the arm of his chair, then stepped up to Britt’s chair and found the one she’d left.

“Come on, guys,” I said in joking fashion to them. “Who do you think you’re dealing with here? Dick Ferrell?” I handed Cindy the bugs, who gave them back to their owners as she escorted them out the door and closed it behind her. Still not mollified, I turned on my bug-jamming device.

“Okay, Orosco,” I said, “It’s just us, and off the record. What’s the real story?”

“What do you mean?” Orosco said.

“I hope you don’t think like those guys do, and believe you’re dealing with an Agency of the Weak Minded.” I replied. “I know that you and Reubens came to see me because the two of you think Sharples has some connection to the Oldeeds Organization and their smuggling, and you were hoping to co-opt me into solving it for you. You didn’t want Sharples so much as you wanted the much bigger fish behind him. Hey, I’m fine with that, though I prefer to do it on my terms. But then Reubens came to that Homespun Festival and he did not leave it alive. And I don’t think I was that target; the killer murdered the man he wanted to kill, and very successfully.” Orosco winced at that.

“How do you know that?” Orosco said.

“The SBI badge going missing.” I replied. “And by the way, I think Reubens accepted Inspector Maxwell’s offer of a job, and with her supposedly secret SBI Internal Affairs unit. His refusing the OER job was just cover, was it not?”

Orosco’s eyes practically bulged out of his head. “How… what, did she tell you that?” He meant Britt Maxwell.

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