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Authors: Alex Ankrom

Falling On the Sword

BOOK: Falling On the Sword
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ONE

Detective Gabriel Carter finished smoking his cigarette as he watched a fat wharf rat scurry across the sidewalk in front of him. He burnt the cherry down so close to the filter that it started to singe his fingertips. He flicked the butt at the vermin; it glanced off the rodent’s large body. The animal shook the ash from its fur and got up on its hind legs. It stared at Carter and chattered at him.

He shook his head. “Yeah, fuck you too.”

He was about a block away from the scene of the crime. He had a clear view of the pandemonium. News vans from all the local major networks were butted against black and white Philadelphia PD cruisers. Reporters and cameramen were held back from the apartment building by a long, thin wisp of yellow police tape. A larger group, resembling a mosh-pit, jammed in behind them. They all pushed and pulled and got on their tip-toes, trying to get a better view of the meat-wagon resting next to the patrol cars with its rear door open. This wasn’t the normal sight at a murder especially in a city that had seen as much blood as Philadelphia had. This was something bigger, and already Carter felt the headache forming behind his eyes. It was going to be a long night.

Carter slid the hood of his black sweatshirt over his bald head as he walked toward the massive group of civilians, looking at the ground, scanning for any kind of evidence that the officers wouldn’t even think to look for, but nothing jumped out at him. When he reached the edge of the war zone, he pushed his way through the rubber-neckers and ducked under the wavering strip. The news-people didn’t bother to shout questions at him, even as he headed toward the front entrance.

A black patrolman named Watson nodded his head. “Hey, Carter.”


Yo.” Carter changed direction and walked toward him.


You got a light?” He held up a pack, shook one free, and clinched it in his teeth.

Carter fished through his right hip pocket, until he felt the cool, metallic Zippo. He pulled it out and tossed it to him.


Thanks,” Watson said as he caught it in both hands. With a flick of his wrist, he snapped open the hood, sparked a flame, and dipped the cigarette’s tip into it. He took a deep drag and exhaled the smoke high over his head. “What the hell are you doing here, anyway?”


Phone was playing my song.” Carter shrugged. “Locke left a message. Said she picked up a call. Though I told her not to. Same shit different day, huh? Just another day in Killadelphia.”

Watson cocked his head to the left and furrowed his brow.


Yeah, I know. Back when I was walking the beat. My TO showed me this tag on the Commodore Barry Bridge: ‘Welcome to Killadelphia. Good Luck.’”


That’s a little clever.”


Yeah, the fucking hoppers have their moments. So, no bullshit, what kind of cluster fuck do I got waiting for me in there?”


Well, we got a call of shots-fired at around eighty-thirty. But guy was ten-seven when I got here.”

Carter arched an eyebrow and shook his head. Ten-seven referred to police radio code for unit out of service, or a disrespectful way refer to a dead body. Carter scanned the crowd from his new vantage point. The flashing blue lights reflecting off their faces made them look as though they were overgrown Smurfs. The uniforms did what they could to hold them back, while reporters tried to coax any sort of sound bite. One of the prettier television anchors with a multi-cultural-hyphenated-last-name flirted with an officer too green to know better.


Shit man, I’m sorry. I know you don’t like hearing that.”


It’s okay. Whatever helps you through the day, right? Just don’t let one of those reporters hear you say it. This a big one?”


Yeah.”


You the first on the scene?”


Naw man, that was Kramer. He’s still up there, holding down the scene.”


Any witnesses?”


No,” Watson said. “But we got two suspects stewing downtown.”


She still up there?”


Yeah. I tell you what, though, that partner of yours ain’t the lame everyone thought she was gonna be. You know with her dad being who he is?”

Carter snorted. “Good to hear the patrolmen have confidence in her.”


What? You don’t?”

“I don’t know yet.”


You vote for her dad in the last election?”


I don’t vote.”


Why not? What about civic duty, and all that jazz?”


I always thought it was a little weird picking the guy that was gonna fuck you in that ass next. You know what I mean?”

Watson laughed.

“So how big is it?”

“Better you find out yourself.”


Hey man, do something for me. Don’t talk to no reporters. Any of you, okay? I hear one of you did, and I’ll have your balls. You understand?”

Watson looked over at the lust-struck rookie. “I’ll get him. But Carter?”


Huh?”


You forget something?” the uniform asked, lobbing the lighter back at him.

Carter snagged it. He looked at the Zippo, polishing its surface with his sleeve until he could see his reflection. “Thanks.”


Hey man, can I ask you a question?”


Shoot.”


Why’s it say ‘Fuck Communism’ on it?”

Carter laughed. “It’s a memento from the ‘Nam.”


I know black don’t crack and all but you don’t look that old.”


Not me asshole. My old man.”


What? He bring it back with him?”


More like they brought it back with him.” Carter walked into the apartment building, pocketing the heirloom.

TWO


Can we take him, yet?” asked the medical examiner.

Detective Susan Locke reminded herself that she knew what she was doing. There were five other people in the place depending on that fact, not to mention the bloody corpse in the living room. She told herself that this was the same as every other case she had investigated in the five years she spent in Robbery, except for one small difference: this was the theft of a human life. “No. Not until Carter gets a look.”


When’s he gonna get here?” he asked, checking his watch.


When he gets here,” she said.


Well, we don’t move him soon, he’s gonna start stinking. “

Locke bent down next to the victim. He was seated with his back against the wall in the living room. His blue eyes were still open. A cut ran down the side of his face. A small, round wound marked by powder burns was visible over the young man’s left eye; it still oozed a clear liquid. The wall behind his head was caked in drying blood and bits of bone. She leaned back and looked at the four other leaks in the guy’s torso: one in his right shoulder, two in his stomach, the last in the right side of his chest. There was also a hole in his right hand.


Now if you’re not going to be of any use,” Locke said, looking up at the ME, “get out of the way. And don’t touch anything.”


I know the drill, Detective. This isn’t my first scene.”

The ME turned away from Locke and took a few steps toward the front door.

Locke muttered to herself, “This isn’t my first scene either, asshole.”

Over the ME’s shoulder, Locke saw a middle aged man in a dark hooded sweatshirt and jeans enter the apartment. He slipped a lanyard around his neck that held his credentials, nodded to Officer Kramer, and walked over to her. He looked pissed.


Now, what the fuck did I tell you before I left yesterday?”

She stood and said, “I know Carter, but-“


No buts.” He sounded like her father. “What did I say?”

She hung her phone. “Don’t pick up any phone.”


Don’t pick up no phones. What was so hard about that? Just sit in the office, do paper work, maybe prelim a couple witnesses. That’s it. But no, you just had to pop your cherry.”


There was no one else in the office. I had to pick it up.”


Okay, you pick up the phone, take down the particulars, and then call up Mac or Nate.”


They caught one out on Broad. Corner boys beefing.”


What about Washburn and Fucktard?”


They picked up another bloodless corpse out in Old Town. It looks like it’s turning serial. I was all alone. I picked up the phone. Lt. Hardy told me to run with it.” She arched her back, popping her sore disk. “Dylan win his game?”

Carter cracked a smile. “Yeah, 58 to 47. The kid had 15, 8, and 10. And a couple steals. Once he puts a little more weight on and finishes growing, I think he could turn out to be a pretty decent ball player.”


I guess you like being a dad now, huh?”

Carter’s stern expression returned. “Don’t try to win me over with that. I’m still pissed at you. Where’s Hardy?

Locke shook her head. “He was here, but this one’s turning political. The Lieutenant had to run out and report to the Captain, who’s probably as we speak reporting to the Deputy Ops, who will report to the Commissioner, who’s going to have to kiss the President of the City Council’s ass and beg for forgiveness for letting this happen on his watch.”

Carter turned his head toward the body. “Why? Who was he?”


You don’t know?”


Looks like some white boy wanna be. Should I know him?”


He’s Rick McCullough, Jr.”

Carter raised his eyebrows. “Rick McCullough, Rick McCullough?”


Yes, Rick McCullough, Rick McCullough.”


No shit. Your first red ball then. The Councilman know yet?”


I’m sure he does, some stupid uniform leaked it. And press jump on in before I even got here.”


Sucks to be you. That’s what you get for giving a fuck when it wasn’t your turn to give a fuck. Unless you want me to take primary?”


No need.” Locke gave him a sly smile. “I already put it down. It was a simple dunker, really. Two suspects found at the scene with a compact .357. It might get a bit complicated though because one of them used to be a police.”


Really? Who?”


Just some burnt out patrol jockey, before my time. Been retired about ten years now. I got the name written down here somewhere.” She looked through her notepad.

After a few seconds, Carter said, “It can wait. Just slow down and give me what you know.”

Locke took a breath. “Okay. So the uniforms find this former badge and his daughter at the scene, blood on their hands. All I need is to figure out which one pulled the trigger, and I can put McCullough’s name in black.”


Anyone run them for gunshot residue?”


Not yet. I want to do the GSR myself so I can see that ‘Oh, shit’ look on the guilty one’s face.”

Carter cracked a smile. “I do love that moment.”

He walked down the hall, following a trail of blood. “I’ll assume you pulled slugs matching the .357.”

Locke hustled to join him. “Well, we pulled a .357 slug from the exposed brick in the bedroom, but I’m confident that ballistics will match them to the recovered weapon and the slugs in Ricky Jr.”


Ricky Jr? You know the vic?”


Same family circles, but not really what I would call a friend.”


What would you call him?”


Let me put it like this, he had a nasty habit in college of mixing girls’ drinks for them. And then his dates had memory lapses.”


Oh.”


Nothing was ever proven, but everyone knew.”


He never-to you?”


No, just rumors around our social circle.”


This gonna effect the job?”


I’ll admit that when I saw him my first thought was that it couldn’t have happened to a better asshole, but the law’s the law. That’s all that matters now.”

Carter stared at her for a moment. She felt uncomfortable, but she didn’t want to show him any weakness. He nodded and continued down the narrow path that led to a single bedroom with a modest bath off to the right side of the room. The molding around the frame leading in was splintered, and a smudged black shoe print marked the door. Locke could still smell the distinctive bitter scent of cordite and sulfur mixed with copper and vomit, making her nostrils burn, eyes water, and stomach gurgle. She put her hand over her nose.


Not used to it, yet?” Carter asked. He appeared to be unfazed.


No. Not yet.”


You will be. After thirty or forty, the smell almost becomes comforting.”

BOOK: Falling On the Sword
4.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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