tagErotic CouplingsPink Panther Ch. 01

Pink Panther Ch. 01


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 1 - Prologue

"Nine-one-one, what's your emergency?"

"HELP! They're trying to break in! 620 Church Street, Apartment 36! 620 Church Street--"

"Sir, what is your name?"

"HELP!" said the man's voice as the sound of a door banging could be heard in the background. Then the muffled sounds of scuffling, followed by a lamp crashing. Then more scuffling--


After that, silence...

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

"All units, possible 10-31 in progress with shots fired, 6-2-0 Church Street, Apartment 3-6." said the Dispatcher at Police Headquarters. "Be advised of a 10-32 and possible hostage situation."

"This is Alpha-6, we are coming to the location now." said Patrolman Barker. Other units were right behind him, and soon Patrolman Johnson was leading three other Officers to the apartment, which was just north of the Downtown area and south of North Street.

The door was cracked open. "Body on the floor." said Barker, looking in.

"Let's clear the place." said Johnson. The Officers swiftly entered, coving all the points where they might be ambushed, then they cleared the apartment quickly as the last Officer into the apartment checked upon the person lying on the floor, his face planted into the carpet.

"He's dead." said Sr. Patrolman Morton.

Part 2 - The Crime Scene

Friday, September 22d, 9:30pm. My Police SUV was admitted within the cordon blocking off the street. A surprisingly huge crowd was on the outside of the barricade sawhorses and crime scene tape, and a contingent of TCPD Police Officers were monitoring the line.

As I got to the apartment building in question, I gave my badge number to Patrolman Culver. I looked around. The building at 620 Church Street was not all that wide from the street view, but went a long ways back, to a drainage creek that moved west and fed the River just north of Ronald Reagan Park. The building itself looked like an old converted motel, with the doors facing the outside walkways. And they were numbered 1-88, with the first 44 units on the ground floor, and the next batch upstairs.

I went down to Apartment 36, which was also cordoned off by crime scene tape. Uniformed Officers were milling about, as were Crime Scene CSI personnel. I looked around the parking lot, which was narrow, and saw that the spot for Apt. 36 was occupied by an older model Toyota Camry, a dull silver gray in color.

Going into the apartment, I saw that it was like an efficiency hotel room, with a bathroom at back left and kitchenette at the back right of the room. There was one queen size bed, a meager-looking dining room table and two chairs, and a fairly large walk in closet that was just to the front of the bathroom area; this had been built in when the hotel rooms were converted to apartments. A desk was next to the television set; it had been ransacked.

"Carry on!" I said as all activity halted upon my arrival. The activity resumed. I saw Crime Lab personnel working around the desk and next to the bed where the deceased lay on the floor on his belly. The entry wound just in front of his left ear was very visible.

"Whaddya got, Davis?" I asked. Detectives Jermaine Davis and Teddy Parker were on the scene, obviously in charge of the case.

"Sir," said Davis, "Police responded to a 9-1-1 call where a shot was heard by the 9-1-1 operator. The apartment was empty when Officers arrived, except for the dead body. Single gunshot wound to the head, what looks like a .357 or 9mmP wound."

"We've sent prints to the FBI database via our iPhone apps, but nothing back yet." Davis continued. "His wallet was apparently taken; we can't find it. Some of the papers on the floor are bills, and the name 'Rusty Dawson' is on them. Supervisor Milton is pulling DMV records to see if we get a match with Mr. John Doe on the floor, here."

"Good report." I said. "Anything that will get me interested?" By that, Jermaine knew I meant something out of the ordinary. I noted that the dead man was wearing a plaid shirt and very worn khaki work pants, black socks, and worn tennis shoes that looked like they were bought at Wal-Mart.

"Not yet, sir." said Davis. "Looks like the perps went through the desk really quick, took the guy's phone and computer... you can see where the modem and cable to the computer are, on the desk there... but didn't have time to go through the rest of the place."

I observed J.R. Barnes of the Crime Lab take a camera on the end of a fiberoptic cable and insert it into the edge of the A.C. vent. "No booby traps behind the vent." Barnes said. I nodded in approval of the wise precautions taken. That one was in Chief Griswold's book about crime scenes.

"Parker!" I called out. "Anything of interest?"

"Sir, the Crime Lab is still going through the place." said Parker. "They're going to search the mattress and box springs after we get the body out of here."

"We did find one thing that was a bit unusual, sir." said J.R. Barnes, coming up to me. He held out an evidence bag. Inside it was a disc golf disc. The plastic was a clear pink in color. "No fingerprints at all on it, sir."

"Hmmm," I said, taking the bag. "Innova Champion Discs." I continued, reading the wording on top of the disc. "Champion Panther, numbers speed 5, glide 4, turn -2, fade 1. No phone number or name on the disc. Doesn't look scuffed up, like a disc used at the disc golf park would look."

Jerome Davis said, "Sir, we think this is unusual because it's the only frisbee that we found. If he was a disc golf player, wouldn't he have more than one?"

"That's a good point." I said. "I happen to know that Panthers are often part of three-disc starter sets, and are good beginner discs for new disc golfers. So if this disc is the only one and no others were found, that might be unusual, but it's not out of the realm of possibility."

"Does the pink color mean anything, sir?" asked Christina Cho. "A woman's disc?"

"Not necessarily." I said. "Disc golfers often carry bright colored discs such as pink ones, so they can find them more easily after throwing them. And guys as well as girls carry pink discs for that reason. I think the only unusual thing is that it's a 'Pink Panther'... like the old Peter Sellers and Catherine Schell movie. And the cartoons, of course. My kids can tell you all about Pink Panther cartoons..."

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

Martha's examination of the body was pretty quick, as the bullet wound was obvious, and time of death was established by the 9-1-1 phone call and needed only the slightest bit of verification. Once the body was removed, the evidence collection hastened, including the forensic examination of the bed.

"Got something!" J.R. Barnes said as the mattress was being removed from the box springs. Inside the foot of the mattress were several plastic grocery bags, all containing cash. Most of the money was in $100 and $20 bills. When it was counted, it added up to just over $34,000.

"I'm in the wrong line of work!" joked Sergeant Rudistan. "I need to be doing what he was doing."

"He ended up dead, Mr. Rudistan." I replied. "I prefer having you alive and brightening our coffee klatches in the morning."

"Sir!" said Davis. "Myron just called. Guy on the floor is James Russell Dawson, a.k.a. 'Rusty' Dawson, age 34, employee of Prodder, Ryder & Reems, P.C., a law firm in the City."

"You know..." I said, stopping in my tracks. "I've heard that name before..." I shook my head and said "I'll worry about that in a minute. Barnes, anything in the box springs?"

"Yes sir." said Barnes. "Couple of bags full of jump drives and memory sticks, and manila folders full of papers." After taking prints, he handed me a folder, which I handled with gloves on. Opening the folder, I pulled some of the sheets out by their edges, and looked at the contents. Then I whistled in surprise.

"Ho-lee shit." I gasped, my voice barely above a whisper. "Barnes! Secure all papers found! Get them to Headquarters under two-man control, and get them copied into digital servers, stat! Rudistan, take charge of that, make sure it happens accurately and in a timely manner!" I turned to Parker and Davis. "Guys, when they're done, be ready to examine those papers with me. Go, people... Go!" People got moving.

Part 3 - Data Revelations

Saturday, September 23d, 12:35am. Myron Milton was in my office, as was Captain Cindy Ross, who'd just come up from her father's compound in Coltrane County. I'd also asked Detectives Jermaine Davis and Teddy Parker to join us.

"He was double-dipping." said Myron. "Officially part of Prodder, Ryder & Reems, but also listed as an attorney for BigAgraFoods. The thing is, I--"

Just then, my phone buzzed; it was the Duty Desk. "Sir, there are two SBI Agents here to see you, and also FBI Special Agent Nash."

"Chow and Orosco from the SBI?" I asked.

"Chow and Crenshaw, sir." said the Sergeant.

"Good." I said. "Have someone bring them to the main Conference Room." Hanging up, I said, "Let's take this to the Conference Room."

A moment later, SBI-SIS Lieutenants Norm Chow and Ted Crenshaw, as well as FBI Special Agent Martin Nash were seated in the main Conference Room with the rest of us. I was at the near end of the table, meaning the end near the door, Cindy to my right, Chow to my left and Crenshaw to his left. Parker and Davis were to Cindy's right, and Myron was at the far end, in the chair I normally sat in, putting Nash to his right and Crenshaw's left.

"Thanks for coming in at this bad hour." I said, after making introductions all the way around. "I've got you SBI guys a couple of rooms reserved at the University Hotel. The reason I asked you to come up is because we have a dead man whose name might be familiar to you. His name is Rusty Dawson. Remember him?"

"Yes sir." Chow said with seeming total dispassion. "He's a lawyer for Prodder, Ryder & Reems, law firm in the City, with connections to BigAgraFoods. We came across his name while working on the aftermath of the Larry Wheeler case."

"Yes." I said. "But it's gotten weird. Myron, what did you find?"

"Sir," said Myron, "Lt. Chow is correct that Dawson is an employee of Prodder, Ryder & Reems, and has ties to BigAgraFoods. But he is not admitted to the Bar in any State in this Nation. I also cannot find any record of him having earned a law degree, nor a paralegal degree, anywhere. He does have a Bachelor's Degree from the University... in Journalism."

"Journalism?" said Cindy. "That's even worse than being a lawyer." Myron and Crenshaw chuckled. Nash and Chow remained straight-faced. I was in a reverie.

"I think I see what's going on here." I said. "Norm, you said earlier that Dawson was something of a liaison between BigAgraFoods and U.S. Senator Samuel Russell?"

"Yes sir." said Chow. "He's met with both parties a number of times, and we suspect he's a go-between for them."

"That could be." I said. "We're going to try to find out for sure. Martin, we're getting warrants for Dawson's phone records. You might want to do that at the Federal level, as well." Nash nodded and made notes.

"So what's going on with him being listed as a lawyer, sir?" asked Cindy.

"I think they listed him as a lawyer in an attempt to protect his conversations with them." I said. "Anyone starts sniffing around, they'll claim attorney-client privilege with him, and they're hoping that no one looks past him working at a law firm. Of course... Myron looked past."

Myron grinned, as did Cindy and myself. Jerome looked thoughtful as he absorbed the lesson, which pleased me. Jerome was a sponge for information related to Detection, and I was trying to help him gain as much knowledge as I could give him.

"So this dead man is related to BigAgraFoods and Senator Russell." said Chow. "Sounds like the Larry Wheeler case."

"It sure does." I said. "But let's not jump to conclusions past the data we actually have. Myron, anything on Dawson's past?"

"Still working on it, sir." said Myron. "We've asked for Dawson's tax records from the IRS, but nothing yet. And knowing them, it may be Monday before we hear from them."

"If we hear from them at all." Cindy said. "If Russell is involved in any way, he might start having Federal Government institutions throw up roadblocks."

"What about his financials?" asked Martin Nash. (You'd think he'd worked in the TCPD before, what with a question like that.)

Myron said "To all outward appearances, he looked like he was not making hardly any money at all. No credit cards nor debit cards, at all. Living in a cheap apartment, driving a crappy car, one bank account at Second National Bank. Then we find his mattress chock-full of money, all cash. Again, tax and employment records will tell us a lot more, if and when we can get them."

"True." I said. "Okay, Myron, it's time to tell everyone what was found in Rusty's box springs."

"As we said earlier," said Myron, "Rusty was a go-between for BigAgraFoods and Senator Samuel Russell. A lot of the stuff he had was copies of stuff he'd couriered. Jump drives were copies of jump drives he'd apparently had in his possession, etc. We're still looking at the information on them. Some of it is password-protected."

"I might can help with that." I said. "For now, what did the papers you found say?"

"A number of them were emails that were printed off." said Myron. "And some of those were among the things that 'The Guardians of Justice' released to the public... emails discussing Larry Wheeler, and the BigAgraFoods plans for controlling the foodstuffs of the Nation. Some that were not released, as far as I can tell, discussed things like plane flights and parties that the Senator would be attending, how the BigAgraFoods people were looking forward to seeing the Senator at campaign fundraisers, and such stuff."

"Wow." Cindy said. "If we could connect those to actual money transfers, we might could accuse some people of bribery... enough to make the Media salivate, if not Federal and State Prosecutors."

"That's a good point." I said.

"Sir," said Norm Chow, "do you think Dawson might be 'The Guardians of Justice'? Or the guy feeding them their information?"

I nodded. "It's certainly possible... especially that he might be one of several contributors to their literature. I've always suspected they're a group of multiple persons, and fed info by multiple persons."

I fished out my Police iPhone and dialed a number. "J.R.," I said, "did y'all go through Dawson's car at the scene?"

"Yes sir." said Barnes, on speaker so that everyone could hear him. "Had the dogs sniff for booby traps and drugs first, but 'no joy' on that. We didn't find anything at all in the car, not even a scrap of paper or a cigarette butt."

"Any sign the car was broken into?" I asked.

"Not that we could see, Commander." said Barnes.

"Okay, thanks." I said, then hung up. I turned to Cindy and said "Captain Ross, and Detectives Parker and Davis, I want you to take some guys in the morning and search all around the place. Around back, in trash cans, all around the perimeter, especially behind the building. We are looking for devices... one, a mobile printer/copier that Dawson could've used in his car to make paper copies; and two, a device that would copy jump drives and memory sticks very quickly, a device he could've used in his car."

"Yes sir." Cindy. "Out of curiosity, why do you think he had those things?"

"If he's a courier," I said, "I don't think he had time to take what they gave him to his home to copy them. He could only do that while driving in his car, en route to his destination."

"Why would he risk copying the stuff in the first place?" asked Crenshaw.

"Self-protection." I said. "Mostly in case he was betrayed to Law Enforcement. Or..."

I was deep in a reverie as the thought hit me. Cindy was patient... for three minutes. Then she tapped my shoulder.

"Don?" she asked.

"Yeah... yeah..." I said in a whisper. Then I recovered my wits, such as they were.

"Myron," I said, "I need you to dig deep... see if you can find if Dawson was still employed by a news agency, of any kind, anywhere." Then looking at the others, who were looking at me in fascination, I said "It occurs to me, ladies and gentlemen, that Rusty Dawson collected this data because he still is a reporter for someone, and was gathering information for a huge exposé..."

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

"How's your dad doing?" I asked Myron at 3:00pm, Sunday, September 24th, as he came into my office.

"Good, sir." said Myron. "He's returning to work tomorrow, though he's still moving pretty slow. He asked me to tell you that your mother's medicinal chicken soup helped his recovery greatly."

I smiled. "Good. I'll be sure to tell my mom. Okay, whaddya got?"

"The IRS came through." said Myron, "as did the State Tax Authority. Rusty Dawson filed returns where he made less than $27,000 each of the last three years. Minimum wage employee for Prodder, Ryder & Reems, also had some 1099s filed by BigAgraFoods, apparently for sporadic contract work, and he reported that on his forms."

Myron continued: "I had to go back a ways to find any jobs with news organizations. Dawson wrote columns for The Silver Sentinel, the University's newspaper, while he was a student. Many of his articles were very critical of the University's athletic programs and favorable treatment of student-athletes.

"After that," Myron continued, "he was with KCTY for three years, then left. Records with the State Department of Labor show no reason given for his separation from them, and I found no record of him ever getting unemployment checks. No further records of him with a news organization. He started working for the law firm about six months after leaving KCTY, though sporadically. Only in the last three years or so has he been listed as a permanent employee."

"Hmm." I said. "Interesting. No record of him getting a license as a private investigator or bounty hunter?"

"Not in this State, sir." said Myron. "Martin Nash is looking on a national scale for us to see if anything comes up."

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

I walked into MCD. Parker and Davis were at their desks, which faced each other and were towards the front end of the building, away from the back hallway door. At a desk near that back door was SBI Lt. Norm Chow.

"What, you guys put Lt. Chow in the corner?" I asked jovially.

"We thought you did that, sir." said Jerome Davis, giving it right back. Chow's face didn't change, but I think his eyes might've slightly glimmered with the humor.

"Bring a chair on over here, Norm." I said to Chow as I pulled up a chair to Davis and Parker's desks. "Where's Crenshaw?"

"He went home." said Chow as he came over. "He had personal things scheduled. Orosco will be up here tomorrow morning."

"Cool beans." I said. "So, what do you guys have?"

"We just got Supervisor Milton's email on the tax return information, sir." said Davis. "Almost seems like this guy is a made-to-order suspect for either a BigAgraFoods-Senator Russell connection, or for The Guardians of Justice connection... whatever we want to make of it, there it is for us."

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