Brodricksburg Pt. 03byK.K.©
DEATH OF A CLUB MEMBER
I sat up quickly and tried to focus on the digital clock on the bedside table. It was 3:45 AM. I wondered who the hell was pounding on my door at that hour.
"Just a minute," I yelled, causing my head to ache.
When I got to the door I asked, "Who's there?"
"It's Officer Martin and Officer Condon. You are wanted down at the station."
I opened the door to the two uniformed officers. "What's this about?"
"Don't know, sir," Officer Martin said. "We were just told to come over her and pick you up."
"Okay, give me a minute to get dressed."
Twenty minutes later I was escorted into an interrogation room where Captain Ross was waiting for me.
"What the hell is this about, Ross?" I asked.
"I have a few questions for you," Ross said.
"And they couldn't wait till morning?" I was beginning to feel as though I was being set up for something but I couldn't imagine what.
"No, this couldn't wait till morning. Where did you get these pictures?" Ross asked and tossed five photographs on the table. They were all pictures of Carrie sitting on a park bench with Commissioner Buske. There was nothing incriminating about the pictures. Carrie and Buske weren't touching each other, just sitting together.
"I've never seen those pictures before," I said. "Where did you get them?"
"They were on your desk," Ross said. "
"Then what the hell are you doing with them? If they were on my desk, they obviously don't belong to you," I said. I was beginning to get pissed. I didn't know what Ross was up to but I knew it wasn't going to be good for me. "If those pictures were on my desk, you had no right to touch them."
Ross just smiled at me. "You're in deep shit, Hobbs. Did you follow your wife and take these pictures or did you hire someone to do it for you?"
A group of curious officers had started to gather outside the interrogation room. When I looked out at them I saw Hanratty pushing his way through the group and into the interrogation room.
"What the hell is going on here?" Hanratty asked.
"Your partner is in deep shit," Ross said.
"What are you talking about?"
"Just be quiet and listen. You'll know everything it a couple of minutes," Ross said to Hanratty and then turned back to me.
"So, you say you don't know anything about these pictures?"
"Is there a point to this?"
"Where were you earlier tonight?"
"When earlier? What time are you talking about?"
"Between 8:00 PM and 9:30 PM," Ross said.
I was losing patience with Ross and decided not to be cooperative.
"Why don't you tell me where you think I was and I'll tell you if I was there or not," I said.
"Don't try being cute with me. We both know where you were," Ross growled.
"I don't really think you know where I was so why should I help you by telling you where I was?"
Just then I saw Chief Pasiak coming through the squad room. People quickly moved out of his way to allow the Chief to enter the interrogation room.
"What the hell is going on here?" the Chief asked while looking at me.
"Don't know, Chief. You'll have to ask Captain Ross. He seems to think that where I was between 8:00 PM and 9:30 PM last night is important but he won't say why."
The Chief looked at Ross. "Well, what the hell is this all about?"
Ross picked up the photographs off the table and handed them to the Chief. "It seems that the Lieutenant has either been following his wife or hired someone to follow her. These pictures where found on Lt. Hobbs desk."
The chief looked at the pictures without comment and then looked at Ross and waited for him to continue.
"At eight o'clock last night Mrs. Hobbs was seen going into a house at 37 Third Street. She left the house shortly before 9:00 PM. At 9:05, Lt. Hobbs was seen going into that same house. A few minutes after Lt. Hobbs entered the house, a gunshot was heard. Shortly after the gunshot Lt. Hobbs was seen running from the house. The witness called 911. When officers arrived on the scene they found Commissioner Glen Buske dead on the floor with a single gunshot wound to the head."
"Commissioner Buske is dead?" I asked as I felt the blood draining from my face. I looked over Chief Pasiak and shook my head. "You think I killed him? You can't be serious."
"We've got you, Hobbs," Ross said. He smiled at me before he spoke again. "You had reason to believe that your wife was having an affair with Commissioner Buske. You followed her to 37 Third Street last night and when she left you went into the house and found Commissioner Buske and in a jealous rage you shot him."
In spite of the shock of finding out that the Commissioner had been killed and the anger I felt toward Ross as he accused me of killing him I couldn't help but laugh.
"You think this is funny, Hobbs?" Ross said.
"How many witnesses were there?' I asked. "I am guessing just one. One person saw everything. Saw Carrie enter and leave the house and then saw me enter the house, heard the shot and then saw me leave and then called the police. Is that about right?"
"That's right," Ross said.
I heard Hanratty say, "Bullshit."
"How did you know there was just one witness?" Chief Pasiak asked.
"Two witnesses would increase the chance that they would screw up the story they were paid to tell."
"What the fuck are you trying to pull?" Ross shouted with spit flying from his mouth.
"I just think it's curious that your witness happened to know that it was my wife that entered that house and happened to record the time and then recorded the time when she left. Then that very same witness recognized me and recorded the time that I entered that house. That last part would have been especially difficult considering I was nowhere near that house last night."
Ross started to say something but the chief cut him off. "Can you prove that you were not near that house last night?"
"Do you have Agent Van Horn's cell phone number?" I asked.
"Who's the hell is Agent Van Horn?" Ross shouted.
"An FBI Agent from Philly. He was up here working on a case last night," I said. That would give Ross something to worry about.
The chief pulled out his cell phone and looked through his directory. "Got it."
"Dial it on the speaker phone so everyone can hear this?" I said.
The Chief dialed the number.
"Chief Pasiak? What time is it?" Agent Van Horn asked.
"It's five o'clock."
"Why are you calling so early?"
I motioned for the Chief to let me talk.
"Lt. Hobbs wants to ask you something."
"Good morning, Kyle. How are you this fine morning?"
"You should know. My fucking head hurts. Is this something important or did you just call to harass me?"
"There seems to be a problem here that can be solved by information that you have." I said.
"Oh? And what is that?"
"Where were we last night between the hours of 7:30 and midnight?"
"What? You don't remember?"
"I remember but there are some people here that want to know if you remember."
"Okay, we were in a pizza restaurant called Dominic's," Van Horn said.
"The whole time?" Chief Pasiak asked.
"Yeah. We drank some beer, ate some pizza. Told some lies about how great we are at our jobs and shot some pool. It was almost midnight when we left the restaurant."
The Chief smiled and said, "I hope you boys were sober when you drove home last night."
Van Horn replied, "Of course we were, Chief.
Then Ross butted in. "Did Hobbs leave your sight at any time between 8:00 and 9:15?"
"Other than nature calls to the men's room he was with me all evening."
I thanked Van Horn and so did the Chief.
"Can anyone else back up what Agent Van Horn said?" the Chief asked.
"A couple dozen people at Dominic's. Our waitress, the bartender and the guys we shot pool with."
Ross' face turned bright red, I think more from anger than embarrassment but I am sure there was some of that too.
"So who is this witness that was so sure they saw me last night?" I asked Ross.
"He was a confidential source so I can't give you his name."
"Bullshit. Your witness lied so I don't see how they can be claimed as a confidential source," I said. "Why do you think your confidential witness would want to try and pin the Commissioner's killing on me?"
"I have no idea," Ross said. "Maybe the killer looked like you."
"That still doesn't explain why your witness was watching the house in the first place," Hanratty said.
"What makes you think he was watching the house?" Ross asked.
"Why would he have noticed the time that Mrs. Hobbs entered the house and when she left?"
"I can't answer that but you can be sure I will ask him about it when I see him again," Ross said.
"Are we through here now?" I asked. "I have a murder investigation to run."
"You're off this one, Lieutenant," Chief Pasiak said. "Too close to home. Carrie may have some involvement in what happened last night so you need to stay away from the investigation... Hanratty, I want you to handle this. Keep me informed." When the Chief turned to leave the room the group of officers that had gathered outside the interrogation room quickly dispersed.
Ross was visibly shaken. I wondered if it was because he had really believed that I had killed the commissioner or was it because his plan for pinning the murder on me didn't work. He left the room and headed over to his office and closed the door.
"I'll keep you in the loop," Hanratty said. "Anything I find out I will let you know."
"You'll do more than keep me in the loop. I'll let you run the investigation but I will be the one to interview Carrie," I said.
"I'll let you talk to Carrie but please don't do anything to compromise this investigation. This is my chance to show the Chief that I am a good detective."
"Don't worry, I won't screw this up for you," I said. "Let's go get some breakfast and I'll help you plan your investigation."
Hanratty and I arrived at the law offices of Mitchell and Horne at 9:30 AM.
"We need to speak with Mrs. Hobbs," Hanratty told Marge Burke, the receptionist, after we had identified ourselves as police officers and showed her our badges.
Marge gave me an inquisitive look as she reached for her phone to call Carrie. Marge had known me for five years so our identifying ourselves as police officers and asking to see Mrs. Hobbs had to strike her as being a little odd.
"Mrs. Hobbs, there are two police officers here to see you."
Marge put down her phone and said, "You can go right up, Brian."
I thank her and Hanratty and I took the elevator to the second floor. When we got to Carrie's office I asked Hanratty to give me a few minutes alone with Carrie before he came in.
Carrie looked worried when I came into the office. "What's going on, Brian? You know you aren't supposed to come here."
"This is important, Carrie, and it's work related."
Carrie seemed to relax a little when I said that. "I just worried that you were violating the restraining order. People here know about it."
"I know but I had to talk to you about something," I said and then laid the pictures of Carrie and Commissioner Buske sitting in the park on her desk. "What can you tell me about these pictures?"
"Oh, my God, have you been following me?"
"No, I have not."
"Then where did these pictures come from?"
"I don't know where they came from but I have to know why you were with Commissioner Buske?"
"Are you accusing me of something here? I thought we were making progress and now this."
"I am not accusing you of anything but I need to know what this is about. I have to know why you were with Commissioner Buske," I said.
Carrie looked hurt. She took a deep breath and said, "That was last Wednesday afternoon. Mr. Mitchell gave me some papers that he needed to have Commissioner Buske sign that afternoon. I call the Commissioner's office and was told that he was out of the office for the afternoon. His secretary gave me his cell phone number and I called him to ask him if I could meet his somewhere to get his signature on the papers. He told me to meet him in the park. We were there for no more than five minutes. He signed the papers and I went back to my office."
"Yes. Now why do you have pictures of that meeting?"
"The caller that started all the trouble between us had them delivered to my desk yesterday."
"I am not sure yet," I said. "At first I thought it was someone who was just trying to break up our marriage, but after last night I think it is far more sinister."
"What happened last night?"
"You don't know?"
Carrie shook her head and I could see that she really didn't know what had happened.
"Did you go to see Commissioner Buske last night at 37 Third Street?"
"How did you know that? Did you follow me?"
"You better not be lying to me," Carrie said.
"Have I ever lied to you about anything important?"
Carrie looked directly into my eyes and then said, "No... So how did you know I went to see Commissioner Buske last night?"
"The same person that sent me the pictures told me that you would be there at 8:00 last night."
"So did you go there to spy on me?"
"No. I was at Dominic's all evening," I said. "So why were you meeting Commissioner Buske last night?"
"It was just business. Why is this so important?"
"It's important because fifteen minutes after you left your meeting with the Commissioner someone killed him."
"Oh, my God. Are you serious?" Carrie asked but then when she saw the look on my face she knew."
Carrie looked like she might get sick. "Why would someone want to kill him?" she asked.
"I don't know why he was killed but I believe I know why it happened last night right after you left the house."
Carrie said, "I don't understand."
"Pictures of you sitting in the park with Commissioner Buske appear on my desk and I get a call telling me that you will be at 37 Third Street at 8:00 PM last night. Shortly after your meeting with Commissioner Buske someone killed him."
Carrie just looked at me in bewilderment.
"At four o'clock this morning I was hauled down to the police station and questioned. It seems that Captain Ross had a witness that saw you enter the house at eight o'clock and leave just before nine o'clock. That same witness claimed that they saw me enter the house shortly after you left and then heard a gunshot. The witness claimed that he saw me running away from the house after he heard the shot. Captain Ross was trying to pin the murder on me."
"You were able to prove that you didn't do it?"
"What do you think?"
"I know you wouldn't do that but were you able to convince Captain Ross?"
"The fact that I am standing here should answer that," I said. "Now, can you tell me why you met Commissioner Buske at that house last night?"
"It was a real estate deal he was working on. I had to get him to sign a contract for an option to buy some land."
"Was this land out on the River Road?"
"Yes. How did you know that?"
"I'm a detective."
Carrie smiled at that.
"When did you find out that you had to meet Commissioner Buske at that house last night?"
"Mr. Mitchell handed me the papers last evening at six o'clock. He apologized for the inconvenience but said that we had to have the papers signed that evening. Then he gave me the address."
I had a sudden sick feeling come over me.
"What happens now?" Carrie asked.
"Hanratty is going to come in and take your statement. He'll just ask you about why you were at the house, when you got there and when you left. Don't worry about it," I told her then opened the door and invited Hanratty in to ask his questions.
As I listened to Carrie answering Hanratty's questions I reviewed everything I knew, thought I knew or suspected about the Commissioner, and his relationship to the other members of the Thursday Night Club.
When Hanratty finished his questions we got up to leave Carrie's office.
Carrie reached out and took my hand. "Brian."
I turned to look at Carrie to see what she wanted.
"I never lied to you about anything important either," she said.
Carrie smiled at me.
As I turned to go out the door I saw Mr. Mitchell staring at me. The way he was looking at me made the hair on the back of my neck bristle. From behind me I heard Carrie say, "Would you like to come over for dinner tonight?"
"Yes... Ah, no," I said. I turned and looked at Carrie. "What do you think would happen if Fred ever found out that Barney was tapping Wilma?"
Carrie laughed and said, "Fred would probably kill Barney."
I nodded my head in the direction of Mr. Mitchell and said, "What would Fred do to Wilma?"
Carrie's whole demeanor changed as she began to understand. "Fred wouldn't do anything to Wilma because he would never find her."
"Are you sure about that?"
"Wilma is smarter than Fred. He would never find her."
I said nothing more to Carrie as I left her office. I saw Mr. Mitchell going into Carrie's office as Hanratty and I got on the elevator.
"Were you and Carrie talking about the Flintstones?" Hanratty asked as the elevator started down.
"Yeah. It's an old joke between us. I told her once that Barney Rubble was banging Wilma behind Fred's back. It's been a private joke between us ever since."
Hanratty just shook his head and laughed.
"Why don't you drop me back at the station and then you can carry on with your investigation?" I suggested to Hanratty.
"What are you going to do?"
"Don't worry, I won't do anything that would compromise your investigation."
"I know you wouldn't. I just wondered what you are planning to do," Hanratty said.
"I don't have a plan yet. I need to think things through and try to make sense out of all this."
"I wish I could be of more help but until you can tell me what is going on there isn't much I can do."
"Sorry I have had to keep you in the dark but it won't be for much longer," I said.
CARRIE GOES MISSING
Back at my desk I couldn't get the image of Mr. Mitchell staring at me when I was in Carrie's office out of my head. He was a part of the Thursday Night Club and that worried me. My investigation was putting Carrie in danger.
I felt like I had figured out what was going on but I didn't have everything I needed to prove it. I was going to need help with the rest of this investigation but first I was going to have to make sure that Carrie was safe.
Just before noon I saw Hanratty walk through the squad room and into the communications room. When he came out of the com room I asked him if he wanted to go get lunch.
"Can't now," he said. "I got to go check on something. I'll be back later to fill you in."
He was gone before I could ask him what he was up to.
At three o'clock Captain Ross came into the squad room and headed toward my cubical followed by Hanratty.
"Where is your wife?" Ross asked.
I looked at my watch and said, "Should still be at work."
"She's not there and I want to talk to her," Ross said, raising his voice to make sure I knew he was serious. "She went out to lunch and didn't return to the office. No one seems to know where she is.
"Why do you think I would know where she is," I said. "We are separated and she doesn't tell me what she is doing."
"Doesn't it concern you that she is missing?"
"Missing? She didn't return from lunch, that doesn't mean she is missing," I said.
"Why do you want to talk to Mrs. Hobbs?" Hanratty asked Ross.
Ross turned to look at Hanratty and said, "I don't have to answer to you."
"The shooting of Commissioner Buske is my case," Hanratty said. "It was assigned to me by the chief. Mrs. Hobbs is part of my investigation so I want to know what you want to talk to her about."