tagNon-EroticEnvironmental Hazards Ch. 04

Environmental Hazards Ch. 04


This story is part of an ongoing series. The chronological order of my stories is now listed in WifeWatchman's biography.

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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 17 - Retaliatory Response Redux

The man's trigger finger itched; it seemed to call out to him. He eased the safety off, reset the crosshairs on the little girl's head---


The vicious. powerful kick to the front of the scope drove the back of it into the skin around the man's eye, creating a perfectly round wound. As he screamed in pain, he rolled onto his back and looked up. He saw the shadow of the woman above him silhouetted by the blinding sun, then saw her arm thrusting the large knife at his throat. He reached up to stop her...

He was too late. The knife plunged into his throat, slicing through his larynx. The woman slashed viciously left and right, cutting his windpipe and carotid artery, and he was done...

"Good job!" called out the other woman. "Now let's get the hell out of here before we're spotted." The killer grabbed the rifle the now-dead man had intended to use to kill the Iron Crowbar's firstborn child, and the two women began walking south, away from the Mountain Nest and towards the curve around the end of the mountain.

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

Laura had tried to keep Carole in the house when she let out the dogs, but her daughter simply was not listening nor obeying today. Then Laura had tried to keep Carole shielded between her and the house, again to no effect. Daddy was going to be talking to Carole in time-out about doing what Mommy told her to do, Laura silently promised herself.

She was filled with foreboding as she took Carole back inside, Bowser and Buddy leading the way. As she looked back over the yard, she thought she saw two figures to the south, but when she peered closer they were no longer there. Laura hurried back into the house with a protesting Carole in her arms. Time-out was going to commence immediately...

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

4:00pm, Tuesday, March 28th. I was halfway through a small mountain of paperwork when Teresa Croyle came in with Detective Joanne Warner. "Commander," Teresa said, "we got a call to 9-1-1 that Rudistan and Morton checked out. They've found a dead body on the hillside above the University and below The Cabin."

"Eight feet tall, suit and tie, faceless?" I asked.

"No sir." said Teresa. "Slender Man is immortal. This guy obviously is not..."

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

The Crime Lab techs were on the scene, as was Martha the M.E. when we arrived. Sergeant Rudistan said "Sir, the number calling to 9-1-1 was a burner. Someone wanted us to find this. He was lying like this on his back when we came onto the scene."

"Any tracks to or from the body?" I asked.

"Some faint ones, going south through the tall grass." said Morton. "They end on the trail that goes from the dorms and apartments south of the Main Quad around the hill and towards Lake Reservoir."

"What the hell?" I gasped as I saw the man's face. "What is that around his eye?"

"Something round really dug into his face, sir." said Martha. "But the cause of death is someone taking a knife to his throat and cutting it to ribbons."

"Detective Warner!" I said. "What do you make of that round mark around his right eye?"

"Oh my goodness!" said Joanne as she observed it. "Sir, it looks like a hunting rifle scope bit into him when he fired his rifle. But I've never seen one that bad. Usually it's just a cut on the nose."

Joanne was a hunter, and a very good one. So I was not surprised she recognized the nature of that wound.

"I agree." I said, "It would take a frickin' howitzer to recoil that hard. Looks like someone kicked the rifle into his face, then stabbed him from above. Anyway, anyone find a rifle anywhere around here?"

"No sir." said Rudistan. He got on the radio and told Uniformed Officers in the area to look for a scoped rifle.

"He had a rifle, but let someone sneak up on him?" Teresa Croyle asked derisively.

"He must've been looking through the scope, and concentrating really hard." said Joanne. "And then, like the Commander said, someone kicked the rifle, driving the scope back into his face, then killed him."

"So what was our victim here doing?" Teresa asked. We began looking around. As Teresa and I looked north, we saw it at the same time.

"Ohhhh, shit!" I gasped. "Anyone got binoculars?"

"Oh my God." Teresa said at the same time as Rudistan handed me a small pair of binoculars. I looked through them... right at the back door of my home!

"What is it, sir?" asked Joanne Warner, seeing my neck and face flush red.

"Hold on." I said, fishing out my personal cellphone. I called Laura.

"Hi dear." I said. "Where are you?"

"Home, at the Mountain Nest." Laura said.

"Have you been outside today?" I asked.

"We took the dogs out." Laura said.

"Who is 'we'? Carole?" I asked.

"Uh, yes. Is everything all right?"

"Er, look out the back door." I said. Laura appeared in the doorway and I began waving. "Do you see a group of people, and one of them waving?" I asked.

"Yes, I see... is that you, darling?" my wife asked, concern creeping into her voice.

"Yes." I said. "Do me a favor, and keep our children in the house. I'll explain later."

As I hung up, I noticed that the Crime Lab people and Officers were working with a bit more energy as they realized what I did... that my home and family had been the target of an aborted murderous attack.

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

After making calls to Molly and Paulina and telling them to be on high alert for their (and my) children's safety, I went into a meeting in the Chief's Conference Room. Present were the Chief, Cmdr. Harlow, Cpt. Croyle, and Sheriff Allgood.

"Lt. Masters has Vice working the grapevines to see if there's any Underground chatter about all this." I said. "He called Midtown, too, and talked to Chief Soltis. Chief Soltis is not going to say anything to anyone else, but will tell Detectives Ruger and Wesson to watch their backs."

"What do we know about this guy?" asked Chief Moynahan.

"His fingerprints came up as a 'Charlie Thomas', a.k.a. 'Good Time Charlie'." I said. " Believed to be about 29 or 30 years old now, at the time of this death. He's known for frequenting resorts with an adult flavor about them, like the old Club Meds. He also was a Live Sex Show performer in the City in some of their less reputable clubs."

"Maybe your friend Rita can help find some stuff about him." said Sheriff Allgood.

"Noooo... "I said, "because all that was cover. He's actually a Mob operative. He'd go into a club, perform live sex with a woman, a man, or sometimes both, then when the next show was going on, he was in the back room with the manager, collecting protection money for his Mob superiors. He is not known to have run drugs himself, but may have been a go-between, and set up meetings between suppliers and buyers."

"How do you find this stuff out so quickly?" asked Sheriff Allgood.

"I have a good team." I said. "And this is all pretty common stuff. Charlie was well known to the FBI, DEA, and SBI-NTF. However, about a year to 18 months ago, people started realizing that Charlie had not shown up at any of his usual clubs. Some thought he'd been busted. Others thought he'd been killed by a rival Mob family or possibly by his own, for some reason. Turns out it was neither: he became a Made Man in the City's Mob, and an assassin-for-hire. When JACKAL was coming for me, I though he might enlist Charlie's help, but JACKAL hired Raoul instead."

"And Charlie is working for Organized Crime in the City?" Chief Moynahan asked.

"That's the official story." I said. "But I have a Confidential Informant that assures me that's just a story. Charlie was working for Jerry Morelli in Southport and Midtown."

"So let's just cut to the chase and ask the $64,000 question." said Moynahan. "Who killed him?"

"And if you or someone you know is behind it, Commander," said Sheriff Allgood, "then it's self-defense of your family, understandable... but we have to know."

"Twasn't me." I said. "I'd never let it get that close and let a loaded rifle be pointed anywhere near my child. I did not know the man was there."

Moynahan nodded. Sheriff Allgood still looked skeptical.

"No," I said, "I think this one was the Mob. Now who killed Good Time Charlie? That... is a more interesting question. And one for which I don't have an answer right now."

Part 18 - Persuasion

With SBI Agent Norm Chow and FBI Special Agent Martin Nash waiting in the Black Beauty, Cindy Ross entered the bar on the northeastern side of the City. She was dressed in a clingy black pullover shirt, khaki pants, military-style boots, and her SBI badge and gun on her belt. She also had the Green Crowbar in her hand, and was ready to use it.

Almost all conversation ceased and all eyes were on the platinum blonde as she walked through the bar. She went near a table in the back left and pointed at the older man with hair on the sides of his head, then crooked her finger in the universal 'come here' sign. The man got up to follow her and she turned and led the way out.

"That was a very dangerous thing you just did." said Robert Ferris as they got outside. Cindy had Ferris get in the shotgun seat of the Black Beauty, and she took the wheel.

"Not all that dangerous." she said. "They didn't know whether or not the Iron Crowbar was right behind me outside."

"Remind me not to play poker with you, Detective Ross." said Ferris.

"It's Captain now." Cindy said. "Someone played poker with me, and lost."

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

"How did you find me?" asked Robert Ferris, Chief Chemist of Forbes Environmental National Laboratories as he and Cindy sat down on the outside deck of the bar called 'The Place'.

"I'm a Detective, remember?" Cindy said. "I helped solve your wife's murder. And that's what I'm here about, Robert. This meeting is unofficial; I'll deny ever talking to you, and anything you say is privileged and can't be used in Court." Needless to say, Cindy had her bug-killer on.

"You know what's happening at FENL, and you know your own life is in great danger." Cindy continued. "And while I didn't exactly approve of her methods, I know Linda died trying to help the environment, and she was cut down in cold blood by a bastard that betrayed the PCGW." That was a lie, but Cindy was trying to get Robert Ferris broken to her fist, to use falconry lingo.

"I want to ask you to do something." Cindy said. "Cut a deal for immunity, tell us all you know, and help us put Paul Brandon away for good for the murder of Jimmy Shell."

Ferris's face fell. "As much as I'd like to, I'd end up dead. You have no idea of the hold Brandon has on me."

"Try me." Cindy said.

Ferris nodded, then started: "Several years ago, Linda and I started our own environmental lab. We needed to make money, but we thought we could use it to help the PCGW with their battle against the Corporatists. The lab didn't do well, though, and by the time the Crown Chemicals protests happened, and Linda was then killed, we were just about broke."

"We had a mutual insurance policy on each other." Robert continued. "So when she died I had a little money to keep going. But after the PCGW incident, I became persona non grata, and I lost most of my clients."

"That's when Brandon came in." said Ferris. "He and I had known each other before. He said he'd give me a loan to help pay off my debts, and to start a new but smaller lab. I was desperate, so I took the offer. And he got me the Chief Chemist job at FENL so I'd have income... to pay the loan back, with interest."

"Well, since that day, my life has been a total living hell." Ferris said. "My lab's bankruptcy was handled improperly, and I had to go back to Court to get all that resolved. That's still going on to this day. But the worst of it was the trap Brandon put me in."

Ferris went on: "We set up a little lab, the one you visited me in when you were solving Linda's death. But what I was really doing was sending most of the samples to FENL and getting a discount on the price of running the tests. I would charge the client full price, and Brandon would get the difference as part of the debt payoff."

"The problem was," Ferris said, "FENL never got paid. I found out that Brandon had pocketed all of the money himself, and set it up to look like I was having the samples run for free. Brandon then lowered the bomb, and with that fucking sneering grin of his, said that it'd be a shame if my 'scheme' were found out, and FENL would have me put in jail."

"The price of Brandon's silence, he himself said," said Ferris, "was for me to look the other way at when several projects turned up contaminated, but our tests showed they were clean. Pine Valley was the latest, and the biggest of these."

"Now you may ask," said Ferris, "why I didn't go to the State EPA or SBI about this, get Brandon arrested, and be free of him. Well, first of all he said that the money that was loaned to me was Mob money, and that if it didn't get repaid, the Mob would come for me, not him. And second... well, Jimmy Shell did go to the State EPA, and he didn't live to see the next sunrise. I knew how well FENL, and Forbes & Sehgal, were connected to the Mob but they also have a ton of politicians in their pockets. Sehgal is 'friendly' with a number of State Legislators on both sides of the aisle, and he's an ally of U.S. Senator Samuel Russell."

"So you went and hid among your old PCGW friends." Cindy said.

"Yeah." said Ferris. "They've just about taken over that bar as a meeting place. They've been planning demonstrations against the Pine Valley project and Forbes & Sehgal for weeks. I wouldn't call them 'friends', but they hate the Police and they hate A.U. Sehgal, who's a phony Environmentalist."

"Well," Cindy said, "you can give them something to demonstrate about. Give us Brandon, and Pine Valley will become a someone's long, national nightmare. We can give you Witness Protection, and you'll be free of Brandon."

"I don't know." said Ferris. "You might be shocked just how well-connected Forbes & Sehgal is. Legislators in the U.S. Congress, the U.S. EPA, the State Legislature, and on down the line. Besides..." he finished, "I'm not sure the Engineers are guilty. They were given the bad data."

"Steinhart must've known." Cindy said. "I don't believe in coincidences like him dying in a plane crash at such a critical moment in time."

"They may have done to him what they want to do to me and Cliff Ewing, and just eliminated him as a precaution." said Ferris. "But I think my best chances would be to let the PCGW help me vanish."

"Mr. Ferris," Cindy said, "you know the Detective I worked with, the one that truly solved your wife's murder?"

"Yeah, Detective Troy." said Ferris. "Not Commander Troy, though. The PCGW hates him."

"No, not the Iron Crowbar." Cindy said. "But Detective Troy got Justice for Linda. And if you don't consider being in her debt for that, then maybe it'll help when I tell you that Brandon tried to have Detective Troy's granddaughter murdered today. He'll stop at nothing, including killing children... and letting other children be be exposed to the contaminated water of Pine Valley. Only you can stop him, Mr. Ferris. Only you, right now."

Ferris thought about it a long time. Then he said "What are you offering, and what do you need?"

Part 19 - Crack In The Armor

"This is Bettina Wurtzburg, KXTC Channel Two News!" shouted the lovely redheaded reporterette at 7:00am, Wednesday, March 29th, from in front of the State Office Building. "Channel Two News has learned that Forbes Environmental National Laboratories Manager Paul Brandon will be charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the case of Jimmy Shell, who was shot and killed in his Midtown apartment!"

Bettina went on: "Channel Two News has learned that Robert Ferris, Chief Chemist of Forbes Environmental National Laboratories, has turned State's evidence in exchange for witness protection and immunity from prosecution. Robert Ferris is also the husband of the late Linda Ferris, who was murdered by Gordon Snow shortly after the PCGW demonstrations against Crown Chemicals several years ago."

"Mr. Ferris turned over documentation that Brandon conspired to hide contamination at the Pine Valley development project." Bettina went on. "Thomas P. Cook, Town & County Councilman and a partner in the development firm, says that M&C Development Corp. was unaware of any contamination, and have filed suit against Forbes & Sehgal Engineering for the devastating misreporting of contamination on the Pine Valley site."

"In the case of Jimmy Shell," said Bettina, "Robert Ferris also provided recordings of Paul Brandon making phone calls to hire a professional killer to murder Shell. This killer, known as 'Good Time Charlie', was himself found murdered in our County yesterday. Sources tell Channel Two News that the killer may have been targeting the family of Commander Donald Troy, who led the investigation of Shell's murder, and also ran the samples that showed the Pine Valley contamination, despite death threats. The TCPD does not know who killed 'Good Time Charlie' as of this time."

"And finally," Bettina said, "Governor Val Jared, after signing the Budget bill into law, ordered a full investigation into the State EPA after it was revealed that one SEPA officer took bribes from Paul Brandon and FENL, and reported Jimmy Shell's whistleblowing actions to the company. The SEPA official has accepted a plea bargain in exchange for information and testimony in the Brandon case. Democrats are accusing Governor Jared of outrageously using this unfortunate incident to destroy the credibility of the State EPA; and Jared is already firing back, saying the State EPA has already lost its credibility..."

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

A very tired Cindy Ross was in my office after the coffee klatch. She'd been up all night helping the FBI and SBI process Robert Ferris in the City, and drove back home in the Black Beauty at speeds upon which even the German Autobahn would frown. It was most very good that her sister was a Nextdoor County Police Lieutenant.

"It occurred to me on the way home," Cindy said, "that Robert Ferris had this trump card all along, and only pretended to be persuaded to turn State's evidence. He'd bugged Paul Brandon's phone for at least a couple of years, and had some good tapes of Brandon assuring various people of results they wanted to see. He just happened to get Brandon's call to arrange Jimmy Shell's murder. The FBI then got the bank records showing where Brandon paid for the hit. A hundred thousand dollars from a secret bank account. Damn."

"You did a wonderful job getting Ferris to turn." I said. "Truly outstanding."

"It's funny..." Cindy said, musing, "when I was recovering and you had grounded me, I was more than a little ticked at you, even though you meant well. And that led to your mother and I solving Linda Ferris's murder, and that has now led to her husband paying it forward and giving us Paul Brandon on a spit. Funny how that works."

"Yep. Karma is a mighty thing." I said. "And speaking of karma, it will be interesting to see what Forbes & Sehgal Engineering do. They're saying they were duped by Brandon. Their lawyers are pinning it all on him. Me, I'm not so sure..."

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