tagNovels and NovellasThe Knave of Jacks Ch. 03

The Knave of Jacks Ch. 03


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 9 - Mycroft and Sherlock in Action

Saturday, September 24th. At 9:00am, I was in my office. The 'Iron Girdle', a.k.a. the bulletproof girdle that was providing lumbar support for my lower back, was not doing a very effective job today. The pain was not shooting nor violent, but an an aching reminder that all was not right.

Cindy was not here yet, and that was fine with me. I hoped she had had a good night and was getting some sleep. Me, I got to wake up and make breakfast, with my daughter Carole 'helping' (admittedly, she can pour cereal pretty good these days), talk with my family, and pet and play with two fine dogs before coming in to work. By way of contrast, Cindy had an ex-fiancée about to lose a political race, a crush on a hot porn star that was not the one for settling down, and had been working her hardbody ass off the last few months to make my life easier.

As I went over the data collected on who had attended Jaime Silver's party, my mother came into my office. She was dressed tastefully and well in a blue skirt and jacket, with a white sweater, but on her belt was a holstered gun, and her Auxiliary Detective badge was also on her belt. Now, Auxiliary Detectives are supposed to only be in a standard uniform if doing anything active, so I knew something was strange here.

"Hi Mom." I said. "This must be important."

"Yes, son, it is." said my mother, sitting down. "Are you aware of what happened on Campus last night?"

I had read the Campus Police reports, and Lt. Hanson had made a point to forward all the data he had to me. He'd also told me of the confrontation with Ferrell and the SBI Agents in the early morning hours. SBI Agents Carter Fischer and Ted Crenshaw were now assigned to the case, and Ferrell had left the County... so I was told.

"Yes, Mom." I said. "Student got whacked on the back of the head. Cellphone missing."

"Yes, and he's barely alive at the Hospital." said my mother. "There are two other things that are very interesting about it. One is that your wife took blood samples and sent them to the State Crime Lab, under proper evidence control. That was done at my request. The second interesting thing has probably occurred to you already."

"That his wallet was not missing, but his cellphone was?" I asked.

"That's true, but it's not the really interesting thing." said my mother. "I would suggest Agent Ferrell's appearance at the scene, taking over the case and threatening violence if you were called in, was extremely interesting."

"Well..." I said, leaning back in my chair, which gave my back some relief, "I would agree except that that is par-for-the-course for Ferrell. He was already in the County, fucking up everything we're trying to do about this casino operation, he hears about an assault on Campus, and he breezes in and takes charge of it. I'd be tempted to say 'so what?', but I don't want to be disrespectful to the victim."

What was interesting to me was that my mother's eyes were twinkling. Something was going on. She knew something that I did not, which was not unusual, and she was about to spring it on me.

"Ah yes, the victim." said my mother. She then got up and went to the door and opened it. In drove SBI Lt. Tanya Perlman in her engine-powered wheelchair.

"When are you going to get rocket boosters for that thing?" I asked. Tanya grinned.

"They're on order, but Mr. Bennett says they have to be cleared as lethal weaponry, knowing the way I drive." she replied.

"No doubt about that." I replied drily. "Okay, with all due respect, I'm very busy and about to get more busy. So what can I help you with?"

Tanya began putting documents on my desk. "This is Lt. Hanson's formal request for my help as an SBI Lieutenant and Crime Scene Investigator. And here is my formal request to you for your Auxiliary Detective's assistance. In case you don't know, I have the power to request such local help, just as I could ask you, Commander, to come to my labs and run tests on evidence."

I quickly typed out an email to Tanya, and printed a hardcopy, which I signed. "No problem." I said. "And may Mycroft Holmes and Lady Ironside solve the case and rub Dick Ferrell's nose in his own dung in the process."

"Language, son!" my mother admonished.

"Which I was keeping relatively clean for your sake, Mom." I said, making Tanya grin again. "Okay, do me a favor and keep me in the loop on how your investigation is going. And good luck."

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

At 10:00am, Cindy came into the office. I only had to point at the coffeemaker for her to rush to it. She looked a bit happier than she had been the day before, if not more rested.

"Have a good night?" I asked as she sat down in a 'hot chair'.

"Er, yes. It was good." Cindy said. "Rita, for all her weirdness, is a very caring woman. She cares about you a great deal, and I mean that in a good way. And because of that, she makes sure to care about me, and would care about all your other family given the chance."

"Yes." I said. "What does your father, Dr. Eckhart, say about Rita?"

"We haven't talked much about her." Cindy said. "He once told me that she was one of the brilliant-minded people with a lot of knowledge, who could be a great friend or a formidable foe. But he doesn't know her personally very well at all; they've almost never interacted."

"Then he would be surprised to learn that she worships his teachings." I replied. "But I'm glad you're feeling better." Cindy did not bother to ask how I knew she was feeling better. She knows that this is not an Agency of the Weak-Minded.

"So," Cindy said, "where are we on this Casino Case?"

"Well," I said, "I'm not sure. We're going to be meeting with Callie and Eddy in about an hour. They're going to talk where the bugs can hear them that they're going to the City today after having brunch at the Lilibet House. At the Lilibet House, they'll walk through the back of the place while imposters resembling them, but are really hired actors, get back into the limo and go to the City. Eddy and Callie will then meet with us over a real breakfast at the Country Breakfast Diner."

"Cool." said Cindy. "I'm hungry."

"I also am going over all these reports from last night." I said. "The SBI people went back to the State Crime Lab Building, confirming my suspicion that they have some secret rooms in there to base operations out of. Vans came out of there at intervals last night, as well."

I continued: "Jack Muscone sent me a report that the FBI got some good signal intelligence data coming out of the Myers home in the Heritage Cloisters, where the party was, of course. They also are working up a list of attendees, which includes several BigPharmaCorp Board Members. As a side note, several of them are staying at the recently renovated Lakeside Resort in Nextdoor County, meaning another of my suspicions is resolved: that BigPharmaCorp renovated that hotel so they don't have to stay overnight in my County."

"Your reputation both precedes and follows you." Cindy said. "Think they're involved with Silver?" Cindy asked. "And what about Weinstein?"

"Except for attending the party, I don't think the BigPharmaCorp peeps are all that involved with Silver." I replied. "They paid him for some fun and to get laid by his prostitutes. Meanwhile, we were hoping to see limos from Weinstein's clubs come to the party, but that was a big fat 'bolo'. Clearly he's not yet ready to feed them customers."

"Well," Cindy said, "this was a smaller private party, almost exclusively for the BigPharmaCorp people."

"And a test run." I said. "Like Rita astutely said, Silver is a gambler, but a careful and calculated one."

"True." I said. "But what is more important, and worse, is that Muscone asked the NSA to watch for internet hits on Eddie DiBianca and Callie Carrington... in a non-porn kind of way. And they got some hits! Those hits were trying to check out their high school days in NorCal (that's Northern California), and unfortunately... they hit our County public records on the Porno Set Case."

"Oh, shit." Cindy said. "Their stories won't hold up, then, will they?"

"No." I said. "And I knew the only hope the stories wouldn't break down is if they weren't checked too hard. I was hoping they wouldn't check Callie's story... but they did."

"Damn." said Cindy. "So whatever they got last night was all we'll get."

"Yep." I said. "I don't expect them to be invited to any more parties, even if they have any."

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

"They're having another party tonight." said Eddy, as we ate in the private back room of the Country Breakfast Diner. "The Hotel Desk said I had a message, which was a number to call. I called it, and an automated voice said to get a pencil, then gave the address. When I called again, the message said I'd called before and wouldn't replay the message."

"Interesting. High technology." I said. "Only a number they put in their system will get the address, but will then break it off if you call more than once."

"But they did say there was a party tonight, and invited you?" Cindy said, with some emphasis for my benefit.

"Yes." said Eddy. He and Callie both looked happy and relaxed, and it was no great feat of deduction to realize that they'd fucked each other's brains out followed by some good sleep together. Now they were eating as if they were starved... and so was Cindy. And as they ate, I sipped my coffee... and went into a reverie.

When I came out of it, I stated the address of Thomas Cook's property, and asked Eddy if that was the address for tonight's party. Astonished, he said "Yeah... yes, that was it. How did you know?"

"How does he do that?" asked a stunned Callie to Cindy.

"I've worked by his side for years now, and I don't know." Cindy replied, though she was seeing what I was seeing.

"It's simple." I said. "It's a trap."

As everyone looked at me in astonishment, I said "Guys, the story we gave you was meant to get you into the party last night, and through it. It was not meant to hold up forever nor under harsh scrutiny. I have good reason to believe they have figured out that you guys weren't kosher. I know that our Police records on the Porno Set Mystery were accessed."

"Oh." said Callie, understanding. "Shit."

"What?" asked Eddy.

"They'll have seen Callie's name as part of that case." Cindy said. "And even if it were a coincidence, they'll never accept it as one. So they'll be deeply suspicious at the least."

"And when they really dig into United Americas Distributors, and into 'Eddie DiBianca', they're going to find that it's bubble-thin and will *pop* at the slightest touch." I said. "You guys did nothing wrong; in fact, you were both fantastic. But that's the way the cookie crumbles, sometimes. Okay, so what did you learn last night?"

"Definitely gambling. Definitely prostitution." said Eddy. "I won $400 at poker, then used it to hire one of their women. They were in the upstairs bedrooms, and they made some serious coin on those old geezers who were tipping them a hundred just for making them a drink. There were tables in the basement areas. Roulette, craps, blackjack. Poker was in another room. Everything was watched; they had security posing as waitstaff all over the place. Just about every couple there had someone as their 'guide' that never let them out of sight."

"That's true." said Callie. "They also had wand technology that could detect bugs and cameras, and thought I couldn't see them walking around with those in their pockets. And there were cameras in every room. Every inch of the house was covered. I didn't go upstairs, but I'll bet every bedroom had a camera, and every sex act was recorded. I might have competition if they make porn movies out of them."

"You'll never have real competition, babe." Cindy said. Callie smiled at Cindy, glowing at the compliment.

"Plenty of criminal activity." I said. "And we now have 'probable cause' for warrants, if we could only use it."

"So what now?" asked Callie. "We don't get to party again?"

"Nooooo." I said. "Waaaaaay too risky."

"Well, hold on." said Eddy. "Let's think about this... I know you guys are watching the place. We can see what's going on. Maybe if we go in, or at least if I go in, then we can force their hand."

"No." I said. "Do you realize that you might walk up to the door and they will simply shoot you in the face and be done with it?"

"They might, but I doubt they will." said Eddy. "Look, guys, I've been a P.I. for a long time. I know how these bastards think. They'll bring us in, start questioning us some more. If it starts looking bad, we can ask to use the restroom then run like hell for the door."

"And if you don't get out, then the liabilities for the TCPD are enormous." I replied. "Jaime Silver is a gambler. But despite Captain Ross's assertions to the contrary, I am not. I only walk into traps where I know I'm going to win."

I need not say that the look Cindy gave me was 'inappropriate' at best and 'insubordinate' at worst, but she said nothing as she sipped her coffee.

"If we get in there and they have tables set up," Callie said, "then you can raid the place. You'll take down that slimeball Thomas P. Cook, too."

"I have to agree with them, Commander." said a voice behind me. My head spun back to see Lt. Teresa Croyle behind me. Having enjoyed surprising me, she asked "Mind if I have some breakfast with all of you?"

She took her time going through the buffet, then came and sat down between Cindy and Callie. Like them, she was hungry, and while she talked she wolfed down her very full plate of food.

"Sir, I've already made plans with the SWAT Teams." Teresa said. "We can have people in the alleyways by the building, and down in the tunnels if anyone tries to escape through there. If Callie and Eddy think they're in danger, all they have to do is run out the door through our lines, and we'll light up the perps."

"First of all," I said, "I'd want them taken alive, if possible. We start shooting, and the liabilities and indemnifications start cropping up. Second, I am not convinced that the risk to these two people, who are not TCPD Officers, is worth it."

"Aw, c'mon Commander." said Callie in her most persuasive voice. "We're in it for the long haul, all the way."

"Sir," said Teresa, "someone is going to be there tonight. They're not going to have Callie and Eddy show up to just an empty building. We have night vision equipment, infrared scanners, and we still have use of the FBI's drones for tonight. We can scan the place, assess the threats, see what's going down, then make our move. Even if the place is empty, we can make a few arrests of any people there, and see what information we get before we have to let them go."

"You're starting to sound like a military officer, Lt. Croyle." I said, which was partly a compliment. But her words had an effect on me, and I began thinking about it...

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


Auxiliary Detective Phyllis Troy was surveying the area behind the crime scene tape. Lt. Tanya Perlman was driving her wheelchair along the sidewalk as the older woman looked around, getting a 360-degree panorama of the scene.

The Theater Building was to her right, and looking back towards the mountain finger upon which her son's home was perched, she saw a dorm. To her left was a grassy area with some oak trees, and on the other side of that was a row of buildings that had been built in the early 20th century, which housed the Foreign Languages Department, Fine Arts, and the Music Departments.

"This area is one of the few on Campus with a good number of trees." Phyllis said. "The Old Campus and the Ring of Dorms, where Old Dorm and New Dorm are, have some trees between them, but not on their plazas. So this area is darker."

"Jeremy was a Theater major," said Tanya, "and he was rehearsing for a small play. So it's no surprise he was in this area."

"You said 'was'." Phyllis noted. "Past tense?"

"Oh, didn't I tell you?" Tanya replied. "I talked to Dr. Morgan about half an hour ago. He says they're going to run more tests, but he thinks Jeremy is brain dead, and only kept alive by the machines. His parents live in the southeastern part of the State. They were called at 3:00am, and got to the Hospital about 9:30 this morning. They'll have to decide what to do..."

"That will devastate his parents." Phyllis said. "I know I would hate to have to make that decision if if were one of my children. Don has a living will now, and Elizabeth has Todd to make that decision for her."

"I have a living will for myself. And I hope I'll never have to consider that for little Pete." Tanya replied. "Anyway, did you download the photos of the crime scene onto your iPad?"

"Yes, I did." Phyllis said, holding up her tablet. "They took a couple before rushing Jeremy to the Hospital, then several while the Campus Police were taking evidence."

"They didn't do a bad job," said Tanya, "until Ferrell showed up. Fortunately, they'd already brought most of the evidence to my Crime Lab, and there's not a damn thing Ferrell can do about that. He doesn't outrank me------" She then realized the Phyllis was not listening, but was staring at her iPad.

"Lt. Perlman," Phyllis said, "did you notice the bruising on Jeremy's face in the pictures of him they took at the Hospital?"

"Yes, I did." Tanya said. "Maybe where his face planted on the sidewalk after he was bashed on the back of the head?"

"Oh no, there are blows on his left jaw and right cheekbone." Phyllis said. "He was hit in the face, at least twice, then the blow to the head came as he was falling. Someone was beating him up."

"That almost precludes a robbery." said Tanya. "So who wanted to hurt him, and why?"

"If you've finished looking here, let's go to the Hospital." said Phyllis. "I think we need to begin looking into this theater play young Jeremy was a part of...

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

The waiting room near the Trauma wing of University Hospital was a somber scene. Jeremy's parents were sitting on one sofa, his mother sobbing. On the other sofa, facing them, were two young women. They were Stella and Pam. Stella had also been crying.

Tanya remembered that waiting room from the night she and others waited to hear if Cindy Ross would live or die when she'd been shot at the Olivet Gym. And she knew that others had gathered there when she, Tanya, had been in surgery after the attack on her family. It was not a room where good news was often heard, she thought sadly.

"Ah, there's Dr. Morgan." said Tanya as she saw the Doctor coming down the hallway. When he saw Tanya and Phyllis, he motioned for them to come down to a side room. Once inside, he closed the door behind them.

"How is he, Doctor?" asked Phyllis.

"Bad." said Dr. Morgan. "I'm about to go into the waiting room and tell his parents that Jeremy is brain dead. They'll have to decide whether or not to take him off life support. I'll let you talk to them first, if you think that's best."

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