tagErotic CouplingsEbb Tide Ch. 04a

Ebb Tide Ch. 04a


High tide: The moment between the flood tide and the ebb tide

This tale is an espionage fantasy under assault by reality

The 'hero' of this tale might be considered a Libertarian, though the label means nothing to him. He is not completely sane by some people's definition of the term

The principal characters in this story are listed at the end of the chapter


{Las Vegas, where dreams go to die ... and be buried in tombs of Gold}

Why was I standing next to Kip Churchill's gurney in an Emergency Room? Because I let myself care for completely irrational people who lead with their hearts, not their heads, and have no concept of what real violence means or costs. I was standing at Kip's bedside because Dabney's big mouth and her belief I could do anything had led to this. Amateur. This was not my friend, my place, or my damn JOB.

Until that point, it had been a 'not-horrible' day. I had started the morning by attending a meeting with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD)'s Gang Crimes Bureau (GCB). They had wanted to talk with me on Tuesday night or Wednesday. Tuesday night was a no-go. Wednesday ... I ended up killing people again ... although unlike Tuesday, I'd killed them 'off the clock' and out of LVMPD's jurisdiction. What they wanted to see me about was the Tuesday killings.

I didn't call and set up an appointment because it is not in my nature to let armed people I can't rely on know where I'll be. I showed up at 8:15 am. I let the cops at the entry way know who I was, that I was legally armed and I was not giving up my weapon in order to talk to some cops.

They knew me - no ID required (I had risked my life and killed a person to save the life of one of their own - a Sgt. Dunston.) They believed me when I said I was packing without needing to be patted down and they called the GCB for me. The GCB proved to me they were operating under the misconception that I wanted to help them fight gang violence in Clark County.

The only gang I was worried about was the LVMPD. The Playboy Bloods could attack me from surprise, except far better outfits had taken that approach and died for their temerity. The cops could disarm me, then kill me ... or try to kill me. It certainly was more legally complicated killing them back.

Playboys ... the Mayor was considering giving me a medal for the ones I'd already moved to the afterlife. I told the GCB that I had another appointment, so I'd be leaving at 10:30 am and my offer was going - going - gone in two and a quarter hours. They told me to come back at nine. I thanked the officers for helping me and left.

Promptly at 8:59, I returned. The duty officer made his call, I was invited up without my firearm. I called Soledad, told her I'd honored my pledge of the night before to come by the department, I had been rebuffed and I expected her to honor her commitment.

She wanted to know 'Had I really tried?'. I handed my phone to the duty officer. He confirmed his location and this was my second appearance, he had called the GCB for me - twice and then said he didn't understand why I wasn't going up. Of course no one armed was allowed to walk around the building unless they were in law enforcement.

(I neglected to mention my journey to the building Tuesday morning when I'd bluffed my way in using a stolen police ID.) The cop gave me back my phone.

"Be reasonable," she insisted.

"I am being reasonable. People are trying to murder me. Some of those people even carry badges, so surrendering up my weapon at this juncture isn't the reasonable thing to do," I countered.

"Hang on," she sighed with exasperation. "Let me call 'our' guy at the GCB.

Seven minutes passed before a plain clothes officer came down to retrieve me. We went through the rigmarole of him signing in my gun and knife, then off we walked.

"Why are you being so damn difficult?" he - Officer Marquez Hermosa - asked rather angrily.

"Since you people suck at bringing crime victims back from the dead, I find your inability to help me to be troublesome. My 'difficulty' is reminding myself why I've bothered to show up at all," I sounded bored.

"You are killing people," he pointed out as he opened the door to his section.

"I haven't put a gun in anyone hands, Marquez," I countered. "These are 'your' fuck-nuts criminals trying to murder me. If you were successfully protecting me and the other citizens of Las Vegas, I wouldn't have had to pull out my gun in the first place," I explained as we passed through the door. "So I am hardly going to feel guilty about your complete failure to protect me from danger."

"Now, I don't expect you to magically appear to ward off crimes before they happen. Don't insult my intelligence by pretending you can," that last bit drew some stares from the people in the room. The key dude was the one Marquez directed me toward.

"Lieutenant, here he is," my guide grumbled.

"Mr. Vardanyan," he extended his hand. I ignored it.

"I go by first names whenever I can. Call me Vance," I regarded him. "To clarify my visit, I promised an acquaintance I'd stop by and be as helpful as I can be without risking my life. I don't want to help you, I'm not afraid of the Playboy Bloods, or 'Florencia 13'. Within those parameters, what can I do for you?"

"O-kay," he withdrew his hand. "I'm Lt. Gor Mirzoyan. Please call me Lieutenant or LT. There is a preliminary matter to take care of. Officer Gatsby," the Lt. motioned to another officer. This one wasn't in the GCB. All those guys and gals had a rougher edge to them. This guy was - plainer.

"Mr. Vardanyan," Gatsby began, "I would like to ..."

"ID," I stated. He handed it over. I checked - he was Officer Thomas Gatsby with Vice - I handed it back.

"I'd like to talk with you about Pablo Bastos," he studied me.

"Dabney Curtiss's ex-pimp, short, thick Brazilian guy ~ second generation most likely ~ a brutal thug. What about him?" I replied

"We are looking for him," he prodded me. "He seems to have vanished."

"Funny, wouldn't that make this a Missing Person's case?" I remained uncooperative.

"Some people think you killed him," he came out with the 'boom'. It was more of a bust.


"And ... did you kill him?" Gatsby asked.

"Wouldn't that be a matter for Homicide?" I kept playing along.

"Vice doesn't know if he's dead, on vacation, or retired," Gatsby kept trying to make me verbose on the matter. My bet was they had a turncoat, or a body.

"Right now, he's still a pimp," he clarified LVMPD's side of the case. "He's also a pimp we think you put in the hospital the day before he disappeared."

Nah, they had an inside source who didn't know the particulars of Pablo and my disagreement. The four man crew that had actually killed and buried Pablo wouldn't flip on me. So this group had nothing but corroborating testimony from other known criminals, plus I'd spent the past two days showing the whole world I took care of my problems on my own.

There was also the niggling little fact the four guys had been hanging around the murder scene in the first place because they had accepted Pablo's money to kill me. I had turned that around because Pablo was an ass, and someone they hated. I hadn't even paid those men off.

Someone else had - someone they couldn't even name if they wanted to. The phone I'd been using to make all those calls was the burner phone Pablo had given me through a third party. That 'third party' was the only guy who knew for sure I had that phone and he'd rabbited. Guys like that didn't stand up to people like me, especially if word was circulating about Pablo having gone missing while I was still hanging around.

The poor sap would have to face me at trial and my non-verbal intimidation tactics were finely honed. An experienced prosecutor wouldn't try to hang a murder case on that guy's word against mine.

"Since he hasn't talked to my friend in a few days, I don't care about what has happened to him," I replied.

"I don't like the guy. As long as he leaves my friend alone, I don't see that his well-being is any of my business," I made sure to use the 'present' tense.

"What is your friend's name?" Thomas requested.

"Since you already know it, my confirming it is a waste of breathe. Personally, I'm disinclined to help you go after a friend," I continued treating him like an amateur because he kept treating me like a common criminal.

"Her name is Dabney Curtiss ... she has a few prior arrests ... only two convictions ... nothing serious until now ... goes by the name 'Care-Free'," he read off his palm pilot. I stared at him. "Well, is that the prostitute in question?"

"Refer to my last two sentences, Thomas," I stared.

"Fine, we know you've been seen with her on multiple occasions, including yesterday's shootout and Tuesday afternoon at the hospital," he pressed.

"Yes, I was seen in her company," I kept staring. "As I said, she's 'my friend' which would suggest the possibility of us being seen together."

"What is your next question, or do you plan on persisting with this line of inquiry while eating through the remaining 69 minutes I'm going to be here?"

"69 minutes?" Gor (the Lt.) inquired.

"Yes, a few of your cohorts convinced me to spend two and a quarter hours with you today, so that's what I'm doing ~ wasting two and a quarter hours it appears."

"Two and a quarter? Man, you just got here," one of the GCB guys spoke up. "Can't you count? That would be 125 minutes, taking into account the ten minutes you wasted signing for your weapons."

"I showed up at 8:15 am, which is within the legitimate business hours for your unit. You chose to send me away for 45 minutes."

"That's on you, not me. I even relayed my time table to you; you ignored it. Then it took you seven minutes to send your guy to get me and ten minutes to satisfy your bureaucracy that I have the right to bear arms."

"So, 'Failed product of the Arizona Public School System' (I knew the accent), that's - do the math with me now - 135 minutes minus 45 minutes, minus 7 minutes, minus 10 minutes, minus 6 minutes being interviewed thus far and you get ... 67 minutes now."

"Dude, you are starting to really piss me off," the guy growled.

"It might help if you reminded yourself that you are a public servant questioning a legal citizen of the United States who hasn't even been accused of violating a single municipal, county, state, or federal law," was my retort. "I'm not going to spout the incorrect 'you work for me' bull crap. You work for the LVMPD, not the public in general, and not the taxpayers in particular."

"In theory, your job description requires you to accept that US citizens have certain rights and liberties and you are to protect said rights and liberties. Right now your actions are insulting me ~ 66 minutes," I added.

"You appear to be a well-read man, Mr. Vardanyan. Are you aware of 'reasonable cause' ~ you and the Mr. Bastos had a physical disagreement the day before he went missing," Gatsby resumed. "Then there is law enforcement's 'power of direction' which requires you to answer questions that don't involve self-incrimination," he thought he was clever. "Now I'm directing you to tell me about your relationship with Ms. Curtiss."

"On what grounds? I am not aware of any criminal complaint involving myself, Ms. Curtiss, or Mr. Bastos. To utilize any of your police powers, there has to have been a crime committed and you have to inform me of what that crime is. Only when you have 'reasonable cause' to think I'm involved in an actual crime do you get to apply the 'power of direction'."

"'Power of direction' applies if we suspect a crime has been committed, Mr. Vardanyan. A man is missing. Now, if ..."

"Has a Missing Person's report been filed?" I asked. "No? Then has Mr. Bastos been sought after in questioning for another crime? If so, what crime?"

"Mr. Bastos is involved in an investigation involving pandering," he grudgingly admitted. The law on this matter was vague. He had to supply me with a legal reason to question me. Otherwise I could claim his queries were of a personal nature thus allowing me to ignoring them, or even be deceptive.

He could threaten me with Obstruction of Justice and I'd come back with False Imprisonment. His accusation toward Pablo was suitably vague, yet it also gave me some wiggle room.

"Call an ADA and have them grant me, in writing, blanket immunity for any and all matters dealing with our discussion today," I suggested.

"Why would you want blanket immunity?"

"Because you are a police officer questioning me about an issue so unspecific," I sighed, "it borders on violating my right to privacy. You are allowed to question me about a specific crime, not my social life. Do you have a specific incident you want me to comment on?"

"I'm trying to figure that out, Mr. Legal-Aide," he bantered.

"Dabney Curtiss is my friend. She is not a prostitute," I said.

"She has plenty of priors and a suspicious ability to have her charges reduced, or dropped entirely," he persisted. "She's a prostitute."

"She is no more a whore for hire than you are, Thomas."

That bought me a momentary respite. I hadn't called him a whore.

"What do you think she'll say when we bring her in?" he inquired.

"She'll probably think you are a whore too."

"Fine, what do you think she'll say after being grilled for ten hours?"

"She'll think you are an expensive whore," I shook my head. That retort got me a few semi-suppressed chuckles from the other officers.

"Okay, Funny Man," he re-charted his approach, "what can you tell me about Kip Churchill?"

"I never met him. To my knowledge, Dabney only talked to him once. He believed they had some business to conduct and she corrected that misconception," I answered. The extent of my response confused him.

"And that was it?"

"I don't keep track of her phone calls. I am not aware of any other communications between the two," I told him. "Next two questions: I left her at my home before coming here ... an hour and forty-eight minutes ago, so I don't know where she is ... and I do not give you permission to trespass on any part of my property."

"Do you have anything useful to my investigation into the whereabouts of Mr. Bastos?" he conceded he was getting nowhere with me.

"If I have this correctly, you are looking into the absence of a pimp and want to question a former prostitute about him, as opposed to doing something about him when he was actually out on the streets being a flesh-peddler," I glared.

"Normally that would suggest he was an informant, except in the scant few minutes I actually interacted with him, he appeared far too pig-like and sadistic to be reliable, so that means one of his stable was/is a Confidential Informant (CI) and you are trying to figure out if she's still safe," I studied his reaction. I was right on the money. "Thomas, I've done some counter-intelligence work before."

"You've given up a whole hell of a lot more than you've learned - which is nothing you didn't already know. Now you need to trot back to your boss and let him decide to let that poor girl hang out to dry because I have neither a name, nor am I credible enough source," I reasoned. "Basically, pat yourself on the back for being a thoroughly despicable cretin."

"Ah ... you don't know any of that," Gatsby sputtered. "That's bullshit and if you end up getting some poor girl killed, I'll make it my personal business to ..."

"Shut up," I yawned. "You don't want to make this personal with me. I'm not the citizen who believes you are fair, just, or struggling in my best interest just because you have a badge."

"We both know you are not. To me, the LVMPD is the largest and best organized gang in this city and less trustworthy and more entitled than most. Thomas, if you stay on your side of the line, it will guarantee we don't and won't have issues. You cross it, there is always IAB and there is me. 'Nuff' said." That wasn't even a threat of violence.

"We are not done," he rose. "If something happens, I'll come looking for you." I let him pass in silence. Once he was gone, I examined the five GCB officers.

"Just so we are clear, you let a fellow officer threaten me and did 'jack' and 'shit' about it. If you wanted to impress upon me your lack of professional standards, you have succeeded."

"He's allowed to set you straight, Vardanyan," Gor stated.

"Why? Because he's a cop and within your fraternity while I'm not?" I chuckled. "Which only increases my desire to not work with you in any matter."

"If the situation was reversed, you would want to protect your source," my guide tried to create some false empathy.

"If the person was my 'at-risk' source, I wouldn't bluster. I'd pull them out because Dabney told me this 'Pablo' character was a savage beast. If there is someone new in her life, this would be the perfect time to ease her out of the trade, instead of using them until she ends up as a Jane Doe no one really misses."

"How about we move this discussion along, Gor? Factoring reliability, past conduct and personal trust, why shouldn't I side with the Florencia 13," I asked, "over you, or the Playboy Bloods?"

"Why do you believe they won't turn on you in a heartbeat?" Gor said.

"I believe they will turn on me given the right motivation. I'm not going to join their gang. I wouldn't if they offered. They are also not going to ask me to do anything stupid and thus contrary to my survival. You want me to betray Ramone Garza, which is the opposite of aiding my survivability."

"What about the Playboy Bloods?" Gor prodded.

"I doubt Ramone is going to assign some guys to me to protect me. That means there won't be any people with guns that I don't know hanging around me to confuse with people meaning me harm."

"You can't keep running around, shooting up the city," a third cop spoke up.

"Funny, I see the amount of criminal mischief I've been involved with this week as more a failing on your part than any desire for violence on mine," I pointed out. "You didn't save the girl kidnapped by the Playboy's, I did. I didn't start that firefight at the Hilton, I was attacked ~ and you haven't made a single arrest despite someone hiring twenty-one losers to make the attempt to kill me."

"It hasn't even been twenty-four hours," Gor grumbled. "Besides, it is a Homicide case, not Gang Crimes."

"Yet you were more than capable of getting a vice cop over here, Gor," I shook my head. "You have your own agendas."

"No, we have one agenda - putting criminals behind bars, Vardanyan," Gor stated.

"Why would I want to help?" I countered. "You have proven to me this week you are not on my side."

"We don't work with Officer Shell, nor do we endorse his actions," Gor became defensive.

"Yet you let Gatsby threaten me, Gor," I skewered him. "It is that exact same attitude that lured Shell into thinking he could get away with framing me. Do you really believe Rothschild didn't have a clue what Shell was up to?"

"Neither officer works in this unit."

"Stop," I held up my hand. "You are embarrassing yourself. Let's get back to 'why' am I here?"

"Had we known you would be such a selfish, inconsiderate ass," Gor groused, "I wouldn't have invited you. You are the problem, Vardanyan. People ..."

Soledad walked into the GCB offices at that moment. She took in the long faces on her follow cops, then gave me a stern look.

"Vance, what's the problem?" she chastised me. "They look like you tossed their puppy in a wood-chipper."

"Gor here sicked Gatsby from Vice on me first things first," I related. "He's looking into Dabney's old pimp, Pablo. Apparently one of Pablo's ladies is one of Gatsby's CI's."

"... Treating you like an idiot again," she groaned. "Jesus Christ, Lieutenant, I didn't brief you on this guy because I enjoy hearing myself speak. He's a spook."

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