The Lady in Blue Ch. 13byWine_Maker©
Chapter Thirteen: Soaring free.
Note: Takes place at the same time as chapter eleven.
Hawk's point of view
I slipped my cell into my jacket and revved my hog. With a roar, I shot out of my garage and onto the street in front of my house. Ted and Lisa could find their own way out of the neighborhood, I decided, and I took to the street fast.
There was no sign of anyone following me, so I traveled the main streets into downtown. Police headquarters was busy, as usual. That might actually work in my favor today. I really didn't want to run into Captain Jordan. I was already on his shit list and he would have no qualms about giving me the third degree.
I waved to various people I knew as I threaded my way to my desk. My old wooden chair creaked as I sat and the metal spring squealed in protest at my weight. I smiled at the difference between Lisa's desk and mine. No clutter here. All the papers were in neat stacks or the in/out boxes. There were no photos, either. I preferred being in the field. I logged in to the system and ran a query on Kotov. I was surprised to see more than one Kotov in the system.
A few keystrokes and I had all three in summary format. There was Viktor and his two sons, Alexi and Uri. I clicked print on all three and shut down my system. Time to scram before trouble found me.
The place was too cheap to have anything but a shared printer so I had to hope someone wasn't printing a novel. When I saw my pages printing right out, I smiled. The gods were favoring me. I snatched them up, folded them, and slid them in my pocket. A glance at the Captain's door showed it was still closed. Perfect.
My sense of euphoria lasted all the way to the edge of Detective's row. I walked around the corner and almost ran into Jordan. The short, balding, pudgy man did things to a suit that likely made more women into lesbians than the rest of humanity all rolled together. His already unfriendly face frowned even more than his norm.
"Hawkins, I thought I told you that you were on leave until further notice. Was I less than clear? What are you doing here?" He asked in a voice that reminded me of a bad English butler without the accent. His arrogance just bled right through.
"Sorry, Chief, I was getting some personal effects from my desk. I'm going home right now. It's been a long day and I need to rest up, anyway," I said in as neutral a voice as I could manage.
"I've told you before not to call me Chief. Really, Hawkins, are simple instructions beyond you? I imagine that you'll be needing that sleep," he said with an unconscious sneer.
I've met a number of deeply religious men, most of whom were not fond of my sexual orientation. They, unlike Robert Jordan, could be polite and hate the sin without hating the sinner.
Putting my hands on my hips, I nodded. "I certainly will, Captain. A night of drunken debauchery and making love to more women than you can count takes dedication. There is a special orgy scheduled in my honor at the local lesbian 69 union hall."
"Your attitude reeks, Hawkins. I don't think you are bright enough to know when you've been beaten. That little tirade you had on the phone sealed your career. You're done. With all the other disciplinary actions in your jacket, I've already spoken to the Chief of Detectives," he sneered, "and he is letting me fire you. You have brought enough disrepute on this department and I will, frankly, be more than glad to see you gone. Come to my office and turn in your badge and weapon."
I grinned and stepped into his personal space, quietly addressing him. "You talk a lot of shit, Captain Jordan, but since it's just me and you, let's cut the crap. You hate my kind. You know, the homosexuals, don't you? It's not my attitude you hate. It's the fact I get more pussy than you ever will, isn't it?"
He reached up and pushed me back. I stumbled in surprise. "Stay away from me, you freak!" he hissed. "Don't you dare get in my face." I don't know why that enraged him like that, but he was out of control. I could hear the room quiet behind me. He was still around the corner and seemed not to notice. A low voice that would be lost in the normal rumble of multiple conversations now could be heard by the closest of the desks.
"All you should be run out of the police department. Your kind will burn in hell. Homosexuality is a sin against God and you'll burn. I've been looking for a way to be rid of you since the day I took charge of this division. Kruger was a weak-minded fool to allow you to pollute this place and I will earn credit in Heaven by correcting his mistake. Not even counting your unnatural cravings, a woman has no place in homicide anyway." He held out his hand. "Your badge and gun. You're fired. Come on, give them over."
Slowly, burning with anger, I pulled out my badge and pistol. Slowly, I unloaded the pistol, but rather than handing them over, I stepped back and held them out, making him come to me. He was like a fish, seeing only the bait. With a hungry smile, he stepped out of the hall and took them.
I looked over the room and most of the detectives were staring at us with expressions ranging from shock, anger and satisfaction. I made mental note of the various people here. Some of them would talk about it later, I hoped. Then I smiled sweetly at my former boss.
"Jordan, I'm actually glad you fired me. This place has been a cesspool under you and I know Assistant Chief Kruger will be interested in what you think about him, even if he is only working with the DA now. Oh, and I'm sure everyone out there has found your views on homosexuality and women in general to be fascinating, too."
Jordan looked like he was waking up from a dream state. He turned and stared at the room in surprise, as though he hadn't even known they were there.
"I'll get someone to escort me out, since I'm a lowly civilian lesbian now. Detective Saunders, will you escort me out of here?" I heard the mix of bitterness and triumph in my tone. I was both devastated at the loss of my badge and exhilarated at the public exposure of my tormentor. I would hurt later. For now, I still had work to do. This case was not going to be wrapped up by someone else. I would finish it.
The petite brunette stood up and walked past the open mouthed Jordan with a withering glance. "Sure, Hawk. I need to get out of here and get some fresh air anyway." We left Jordan standing there, his mouth working like a beached fish. Once we were inside the elevator, she turned to me, angry. We had never been friends but I had never been her enemy either. "What the fuck was he thinking? He's nuts! Are you gonna fight this?"
I pressed the second floor button. "I don't know what I'm going to do, yet. I'm going to torpedo that jerk, at the very least. Come on." On the second floor, I led her to Internal Affairs. The detective at the front desk frowned sourly as I came in. It was the same bozo that had handled my last suspension. What was his name? Oh, yeah, Lazlo.
"Morning, Lazlo," I said brightly.
"Detective Hawkins, what now? Did you punch out the Mayor?" he asked tiredly.
I pulled out the chair and sat down. Saunders sat down next to me. "No," I said. "I was fired and I'm here to file a harassment complaint against Jordan before Saunders throws me out of the building."
His face lit up in surprise and he pulled out a report pad. In all my years of trouble, I had never filed a complaint against anyone. That must have made him reevaluate the situation.
"Tell me what happened," he said in a newly professional voice.
I related the encounter in as much detail as I could recall. With his questions, I added details.
"Can anyone corroborate your story?" he finally asked.
I looked at Saunders to see how she jumped.
Saunders looked at me and then at Lazlo. Slowly she nodded. "Yeah, me and everyone else in homicide. Jordan wasn't very discreet." She rounded on me. "I don't like you, Hawk," she said almost defiantly, "but I can't let that pass." She returned her attention to Lazlo. "I saw him shove her, too. At least, I saw someone shove her and then Jordan stepped into sight."
I let my breath out slowly. I hadn't been sure she would back me up. Then I named off a dozen other detectives that had seen it happen.
"I'll head up there and get statements as soon as we're done here, Hawkins. Your rep won't let this stand. I can't believe he was so stupid as to say that in front of so many witnesses," Lazlo said while I signed my statement. He tore off a copy and handed it to me.
"Jordan was in the hall at first and didn't realize everyone could hear him," I said tiredly. "I don't know what I'm going to do. I guess I'll let the rep start screaming and let you investigate someone other than me to start with. That should be a real change of pace for you, eh?" I forced myself to grin at him.
He held out a hand. "I can't say I've ever been a fan of yours, but I'm sorry to see you go like this. You've always been a bit rough around the edges, but you got results. I'll handle this and be in contact with you. I suggest you call a good lawyer and your rep."
I shook it and stood up. "Time for you to toss me out on my ear, Saunders." She walked out with me and I stopped in the parking lot.
Saunders fought with herself for a moment and then stuck her hand out. "If you need something, call me. We remember our own."
That surprised me. I smiled warmly and shook her hand. "Thank you and say goodbye to everyone else for me. Don't let that bastard beat you down."
She watched me as I started my bike and drove out of the police parking lot for what may be the last time. I didn't look back.
I was filled with a mixture of anger and satisfaction; despair and exhilaration. Jordan had hung himself and I could get my job back, if I wanted it. I guess I shouldn't be so fast to decide to turn my back but that was my immediate impulse. I needed to think and make some calls. One to Kruger, for certain. I also needed something to perk me up. Starbucks coffee.
Pulling into the parking lot like a one woman motorcycle gang, I powered into the motorcycle parking area and stomped into the shop. "Give me a massive espresso, Dave. I need a major hit."
"Coming right up, Hawk," he called from behind the counter as I took a seat. Business first, I pulled my cell and dialed the rep. "Wally, Hawk. I have a little problem."
"Who did you hit," he asked tiredly.
"Wally, Wally, Wally, you disappoint me. I didn't hit anyone. I was sexually harassed." I heard his chair as it thumped back onto the floor on all four legs.
"What?!?" he barked. "You're shitting me! Who had the balls to harass you and what hospital are they in?"
"Nope, no kidding. Jordan did it in front of a dozen witnesses and then fired me. I didn't even break anything." When I calmed him down, I gave him all the details and told him I would fax him a copy of the Internal Affairs complaint. By the time I had hung up, my coffee was ready.
Kruger wasn't in his office, so I left a detailed message for him. I hoped he went down there and tied that little creep into a pretzel.
Sipping the hot brew, I pondered this moment. I had seen something like it coming for months. Jordan had a reputation and friends in high places. Even with witnesses, it would be tough going. Then I shrugged. Screw it. I'd have to head back home before I did anything else and get my concealed carry permit and backup pistol. That and get my Private Investigator's license. Thank God I had kept it current. No way I was going around unarmed right now.
First, time to read through the police reports on the family Kotov. I pulled the folded papers and read through them slowly. Daddy Kotov spent a less than impressive five years in prison for human trafficking. Charges dropped on various other counts with no reason listed. Why the hell couldn't someone behind bars actually get the time they deserved? No indication of recent criminal activity. Yeah, right.
The sons were more interesting, in a way. Suspected of being involved with drug trafficking and other crimes on a lower level. Not enough to charge them but persons of interest. Well, I wasn't really interested in them right now, anyway. Daddy Kotov was listed as still running an import/export business so I now had a place to start in on him.
With a wave to Dave, I threw away my empty cup and slid the papers back into my jacket. On the way out the door, I spotted a car across the street with a man in it, slumped down. I didn't look at it directly, but it might be a tail. I kicked the hog over and turned right on the street. My eyes took in the car as I passed it and my suspicions were confirmed. That moron, Digger, had picked me up somehow.
Well, that was good, in a way. It meant I didn't need to worry about other tails on the way to my place. I'd have a police escort. Till I lost him, anyways. I saw the car turn out and around to follow me. Amateur.
I drove slow and easy so he wouldn't lose me on the way home. Hitting the garage door opener, I drove in and closed it behind me. After shutting the bike down, I went in and turned off the alarm. A quick jog to the bedroom and I had my spare nine into a shoulder holster and my jacket back on. I pocketed the carry permit and my license.
He would be waiting for me outside. I suppose he must have picked me up here at my house. At least if he was following me and not Ted and Lisa. I could give him a real twist in the streets and lose him pretty quick.
I reset the alarm and started up my bike. Revving it hard, I opened the garage door I shot out and turned left. Another press of the button started the door close but I wasn't waiting for it to finish.
In my rearview mirror, I could see Digger starting to give chase, but he was late off the mark and a few blocks behind before he could get up to speed. Too bad I knew this neighborhood better than he did and my bike could beat the hell out of his car. I lost him in less than a minute, laughing in my helmet.
I hit an alternate route back into downtown, so that Digger wouldn't pick me up by accident. The older buildings in their grey stone gave way to the newer steel and glass buildings that dominated the skyline.
Cutting off an office drone, I slid into a newly vacated parking space. We saluted each other with one finger as he drove off. It was oddly an almost friendly gesture. Sometimes this city could be strange, indeed.
After consulting the building directory, I took the elevator to the twenty-second floor and found the offices of Kotov Imports and Exports. I should probably be more discreet, but time was not in good supply. I wanted to get this wrapped up before Lisa or Ted joined Calvin.
The outer office was plush and bright. The receptionist was the same; a bottle blonde with more breasts than brains. She smiled vapidly at me. "Do you have an appointment?" the woman asked with a thick accent. Russian, maybe?
"I'm here to talk with Viktor. Is he in? Tell him it's about a police matter." It certainly was, even if I wasn't a cop.
The secretary's smile didn't fade, but her brow crinkled. "Do you have an appointment?"
I cocked my head to the side and leaned over the desk to get closer to her. "You don't have the least idea what I'm saying, do you?" I asked.
She nodded brightly. "Do you have..."
I cut her off and nodded. "Yes, I have an appointment."
She stood up and swished her way to the inner door and knocked. A muffled voice queried her just before she opened the door.
Viktor Kotov's arrest photos didn't do him justice. He was much smoother looking in person. His thin frame looked like there might be some muscle under that shirt. The touch of grey along his dark hair added an air of distinction to him. He spoke with the woman briefly in what sounded like Russian, then he waved me in.
"Come in. Sit, sit," he said with almost no accent. "You have an appointment, you say? Vodka? I have Stolichnaya. Better than this American crap. I don't remember an appointment and I am sure I would remember a woman like you." He poured two shot glasses with vodka while he smiled and talked. I took it and raised it to him.
"No, but I couldn't get my point past your well developed countrywoman, Viktor."
Viktor laughed. "She takes calls from Russia and has only been here a few months. We don't get many visitors here." He raised his glass to me. "To long life," he said and tossed it back. I followed suit. It was smooth. He sat down on the edge of his desk. "You have more soul than most Americans. Tell me who you are and what I can do for you."
I set the empty glass down and smiled at Viktor. "The name's Hawk. I'm investigating a murder and your name came up."
Most people would be bothered some by being connected with a murder, but he seemed amused. "I killed no one. I have no need to kill people." He grinned. "Besides, you police have already been here to question me. Don't you talk to each other?"
The flash of anger inside me wasn't really directed at him but I growled anyway. "No, we just come around and ask you again. Why should I believe you had nothing to do with the murder?"
Viktor slid into his seat and propped his feet on the desk, lighting up a cigarette. The smoke was pungent and he blew it right at me.
"I was at home, alone. Not very helpful, eh?"
"Not really," I grunted. "Going from human smuggling to murder doesn't seem like too big a jump for me."
He laughed. "You don't back down. I like that. I tell you what, Hawk, I will tell you something I didn't tell your rude, ignorant friend." The smile vanished from his face and his eyes sparkled. "I want you to find who killed Samson as much as you do."
That wasn't what I had expected but I kept it off my face. "Why is that, Viktor? He put you away for years. I'd think you'd want to see him go down."
"Because he helped me testify for the Federals. I was able to still be with my children while they were young. Without him, I would still be looking at many years in prison."
I leaned back in the chair. "That wasn't in his file on you. Why?"
He shrugged. "We can ask him when we meet him again. All I can tell you is that I owe him. The other man didn't seem to care. He wanted to berate and harass, but you have fire in you. He wouldn't drink with me, so I told him nothing. You have soul, Hawk. I think I would like some sparring with you."
I shook my head. "I'm not a cop anymore."
"I know," he said agreeably.
My head snapped up. "You what?"
"I heard about it. I saw your picture after I read about the bombing, so I found your name and asked questions." He smiled at my surprise. "I have been using people to get information, Detective Hawkins. They told me what happened to you. That's unfortunate, but I'm glad to see you are still looking. I hear that your explosives people have reached some conclusions." He grinned at me. "I don't think that buffoon will have the intelligence to use it."
"Did he tell you his name was Digger?" I asked, already certain what the answer would be. I nodded in response to his affirmative answer. His opinion was the same as mine.
I'd have to eliminate Kotov the hard way or find another lead. I stood up and walked toward the door. "I better not find out you lied to me or we are going to have a real problem, Viktor. If you hear anything, call me. My cell is in the book under Shauna Hawkins."
He smiled a shark-like smile. "I will. If you need help from some sturdy people without too many questions, call me. I have many friends who owe me favors." He raised his empty glass. "Good hunting."
The woman smiled at me as I left. "Dos Vedanya," she called out cheerfully.
"Don't take any wooden nickels," I called back.
The elevator ride let me get my thoughts back into order and make a plan of action. I stopped in the lobby, looked up a number on my cell and dialed. When it picked up, I smiled.