tagNovels and NovellasThe Predator Ch. 25

The Predator Ch. 25

byD.C. Roi©

"That Ott guy you busted the other day wants to talk to you," a sheriff's deputy from the jail detail told Tim Jackman on the phone. "He says he knows stuff about some other crimes and wants to make a deal."

It was almost end of shift, and Tim had been looking forward to going home and spending a quiet evening with his wife, Lynn. It didn't look like that was going to happen now.

"He tell you what he knows?" Tim asked.

"Nah. All he said was he has information and he's willing to deal," the jailer said.

"You think he's being straight with this?" Tim asked.

"I couldn't tell you for sure, but he sounds like he means it," the deputy said. "He's scared shit being in jail and he knows he's going to get serious time on the blackmail charge."

"We'll be over as soon as we can get there," Tim said.

"What's up?" his partner, Martha Draper, asked when he put the phone down.

"That Ott guy we busted wants to deal," Tim said. "He told the deputy at the jail he has information he thinks we'll be willing to deal for."

"You think he's on the level?" Martha asked.

"We won't know until we hear what he's got to say, will we?" Tim replied. "I figure we ought to at least go see what he has to tell us."

"We ought to call the boss first," Martha suggested. "After all, the Ott case was his."

"Yeah, maybe we should," Tim said. He called operations and asked them to page Alex.

Alex called in five minutes later. "What's up, Tim?" he asked.

Tim told him. "Martha and I were wondering if you wanted to come in and go along over to the jail to interview Ott," he said.

Alex thought for a second. Did he really want to give up an evening with Jennifer when there were two perfectly competent detectives available? "I don't see why I need to, Tim," he said, "Two of my best people ought to be able to handle it, don't you think?"

"Yeah, right," Tim laughed. "Should we check and see if the prosecuting attorney wants to send one of their people along?"

"Good idea," Alex said. "Give the P.A. a call. And let me know if you find out anything important."

"Will do, boss," Tim said, and put down the phone. Then he picked it up again, called his disappointed wife, and told her he wouldn't be home until late.

An hour later, Tim and his partner were sitting in the jail's interview room, looking across a table at Mel Ott, who looked very uncomfortable in an ill-fitting orange jail jumpsuit. It occurred to Tim that it was the first clean thing he'd seen Ott wearing.

"What have you got for us, Mel?" Martha asked.

"What kinda deal you offering?" Mel asked.

"You look good in orange, Mel," Tim observed. "It's a good thing, too. You'll probably be wearing it for the next five years or so."

"No he won't," Martha said.

"Oh," Tim said, "How come?"

"Mel's going to the state pen," his partner told him. "They wear gray up there."

"Hey, I thought you guys wanted to know what I had to say," Mel protested.

"You're the one who said you had to talk to us, Mel," Martha said. "It makes no difference to us whether you talk or not. We got you dead on the blackmail charge. Like Tim says, you're gonna do five years, minimum. You gotta understand, Melvin, Atherton's old man's good buddies with a lot of judges. He's got a lot of clout. Maybe you'll get even more than five." She smiled.

"Yeah. We don't do deals, Melvin," Tim said. "If you tell us what you know and it amounts to anything, we will tell the P.A. you're cooperating. If he thinks it's worth it, maybe he'll cut a couple years off the time he asks for. What do you know that we don't?"

Mel was sweating. This conversation wasn't going the way he thought it would. He figured the cops would be happy to make a deal in exchange for information. That's the way it always was on TV. But these two cops acted like they didn't give a shit if he talked to them or not. He wiped his hands on his jumpsuit. "You had a guy broke into a woman's house, tried to hurt her the other day, right?" he said.

Tim and Martha both kept straight faces. It looked as if Mel was giving them information they wanted very badly. They had absolutely no leads on the attack on Marion Norris.

Tim shrugged. "So?" he said. "What if we did?"

"Maybe I know who did it," Mel continued. He looked at both officers carefully, trying to see if either one was showing some sign of interest in what he was saying. It didn't look that way.

"Do you know who did it, Mel?" Martha asked.

"Maybe," Mel replied.

Tim stood up. "Come on, partner, let's go," he said. "This piece of shit doesn't know anything. He's wasting our time. I've got lots better things to do than sit here and let him blow smoke up my ass. I think we might as well call the P.A. and tell him Melvin's been jerking us around. You know how he likes that."

Martha looked at Mel. "Last chance, Mel," she said. "Give me some names or I'm gone."

"Pete...Pete Butler," Mel said.

Tim leaned on the table, looking down at Mel. "And..." he said.

"Me," Mel admitted. "I-I was there, too. But...but I-I just drove the car. I-I didn't know Pete was gonna try and kill that lady."

Martha took a small voice-actuated tape recorder out of her purse. "Tell us all about it, Mel," she said.

Two hours later, Pete Butler, who had been taking an alcohol-induced nap on his sofa, woke up and, through bleary eyes, saw the muzzle of a police riot gun just six inches from his face. As his eyes came into focus, he saw that there were four uniformed police officers and two detectives standing in his grubby apartment, around his sofa.

"Pete Butler, you're under arrest," Tim said. He proceeded to read the huge, grubby man his constitutional rights.

"I unnerstand my rights. What are you bustin' me for?" Pete grumbled. "Whadda ya think I did?"

"How about breaking and entering an occupied dwelling, attempted aggravated assault, attempted rape, two counts of assault, attempted murder, and conspiracy to commit murder?" Tim replied. "I hope you don't have anything planned for the rest of the century. You're going away for most of it, Pete."

Two of the uniformed officers hauled Pete up off his sofa, handcuffed him, and started leading him to the door.

"Wait a minute," Pete said. "I wanna talk to the detectives."

"What do you want to tell us, Pete?" Martha asked.

"All right, I did most of that shit. But I was hired to do that broad," Pete said. "If I tell you who hired me, you think I can cut a deal?"

Tim and Martha looked at each other in amazement. The last thing they expected was that Butler, who had the reputation of being a pretty tough customer, would roll over this easily.

"Some days it's better to be lucky than good, right, partner?" Tim said, shaking his head.

"Yeah," Martha replied. "You sure as hell got that right."

"I won't make any promises, Pete, but it probably won't hurt you if you give us some information that means something," Tim said. "Who hired you?"

"The old man of the broad I was gonna off," Pete said. "Guy name of Norris, Ray Norris. He said his wife was gonna divorce him. He didn't want to pay her no alimony, and besides, he was pissed at her because she told him she was dumping him while he was in the hospital. He wanted her wasted. Bad. Real bad. And he told me the more painful I did it, the better."

"Why don't we go down to the station?" Martha said. "I think we need to get the P.A.'s office in on this."

Milly Perkins, a slim, young woman with straggly blonde hair wearing wire-rimmed glasses and a wrinkled brown suit, paced in front of the table in the interrogation room.

Pete Butler watched her pace, looking very nervous. Tim Jackman and Martha Draper sat on either side of him, watching him.

Perkins, who looked fifteen but was one of the toughest, most experienced deputies in the prosecutor's office, wasn't happy with what Pete had offered so far. "Maybe, just maybe, you've cut a couple years off your time, Pete," she said.

"Maybe I need to get me a lawyer," Pete said. "Maybe I could do better then."

"Good idea," Tim said. "We'll call a public defender for you, Pete. The first thing he or she will tell you is to clam up. While they negotiate your future away with the P.A.'s office, you can sit in jail for the next six or eight months. They'll make you a deal all right, but it won't be as good as what you could have gotten if you hadn't been stupid tonight." He stood up and started for the door. "I'll call the public defender's office for you right now."

"He's right, Pete. The clock is running," Perkins said. "Now is the time I'm offering my best deal. Any deal you make tomorrow won't be as good. Day after that, it won't be as good as that..."

"OK, OK, I get the message. What kinda deal you gonna give me if I give you this Norris guy and a big time lawyer?" Pete asked.

Tim took his hand off the door and turned. "How big?" he asked.

"You know a lawyer named Dean Abbott?" Pete said.

"What are you giving Abbott up for?" Perkins asked. Her face had gone a bit pale. She'd faced Dean Abbott in numerous criminal trials and knew he was a sharp attorney. She found it hard to believe a prominent lawyer like Abbott would be stupid enough to hire someone to kill his wife.

"I know Abbott because he defended me one time on an armed robbery charge. A while back he called me and asked if I could get someone to kill his old lady for him," Pete replied. "And he was the one sent that Norris guy that wanted his wife offed to see me."

Martha Draper put a blank tape in her tape recorder and set it on the table in front of Pete. After she again read Pete his constitutional rights and got him to admit he understood them and didn't want a lawyer on tape, she said, "Tell us the whole story, Pete. Don't leave anything out."

"I think I better call my boss," Perkins told Tim and Martha after Pete Butler finished making his statement and had been taken to a holding cell. "This is turning into a lot bigger case than I thought it was going to. We can't bust Abbott with what Butler gave us. His lawyer would take what we got and make mincemeat of us in court. We need corroboration. Solid corroboration. We have to figure out some way to get it."

"Yeah, I think we better call our boss, too," Tim said. "I don't think he expected anything like this."

Three hours later, Tim, Martha, Alex, Milly Perkins, and her boss, Leo Duggan, were sitting in the interrogation room with Pete Butler.

"Here's the deal, Pete," Perkins said. "If you cooperate with us and do what we want you to do, we'll let you plead to one count of assault and recommend you serve two years."

"Yeah, OK," Pete said. "What do you want me to do?"

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