|The Fourth Motive|
Whatever it takes...Deputy District Attorney Paige Callen is being stalked, and the man stalking her is motivated, methodical, and relentless.The police aren’t merely one step behind Paige’s stalker; they’re stumped. So Paige’s father, retired Judge ‘Iron Gene’ Callen, instead hires retired San Francisco P.D. Inspector turned private investigator Bob Farrell, to the dismay of the local police.The cops know all-too-well Farrell’s reputation as a reckless wild card. Judge Callen, however, knows Farrell as a man who never lets the rules get in the way of getting the job done.Farrell enlists the aid of former Iowa Deputy Kevin Kearns to help him protect Paige, and to stop a madman before she becomes a statistic. But to find her stalker, Farrell and Kearns must first learn why he’s launched his crusade; a journey none of them might survive.
THE FOURTH MOTIVE
This work is dedicated to dogwatch patrol-jockeys everywhere; those brave souls who
prowl the night armed with a pistol and a prayer.
Paige Callen didn’t see the man until he was upon her.
Her attention had been focused on a flock of seagulls that were grazing on remnants
of bait left by beach fishermen the night before.
Not that she would have noticed the man, anyway. The most pleasant aspect of her dawn
jog along Shoreline Drive each morning was her ability to tune out the rest of the
world, if only for a while, and lose herself in the music piping into her head via
the earphones of her bright yellow Sony Walkman cassette player. It was Monday morning,
so she’d chosen something a little more upbeat to jumpstart her mood for the impending
workweek. Appetite for Destruction, the debut album from a two year-old band called
Guns n’ Roses, was recommended to her by a co-worker. Most of the Guns n’ Roses songs
on the cassette Paige found a little raucous for her tastes, but “Sweet Child o’ Mine”
was beginning to win her over.
At 6am, the beach was almost always desolate. Paige would rarely encounter another
runner. If she did, they invariably would plod by, like her, oblivious to the rest
of the world.
As usual, Paige was clad in nylon shorts topped by an oversized UC Berkeley sweatshirt.
Her long, freckled, and muscular legs continued into the tops of her running shoes.
She eschewed socks. It was mid-September and she wouldn’t need to wear sweatpants
for another month.
Paige ran east along the water’s edge. Even without Axl Rose wailing in her ears,
the soft, damp shore beneath her feet effectively muffled the sound of approaching
Paige felt rather than saw a brief flash of movement over her left shoulder. Before
she had time to react, she was shoved forward with tremendous force. With the air
rushing explosively from her chest, she went sprawling to the wet turf and landed
on her stomach. Once more, before she could recover, her attacker pounced. He straddled
her back, pinning her down. What little breath not torn from her lungs by the initial
violent shove was now completely gone.
Choking and struggling, Paige tried to look over her shoulder at the person holding
her helplessly to the ground. Her assailant responded by pushing her face savagely
into the dirt. As a tide of panic rose within her, Paige realized she was going to
be suffocated face first in the soil. She gasped and thrashed but was trapped. She
tasted the silt of the Alameda beach.
A gloved hand released its hold on the back of Paige’s neck and ripped the stereo
headphones from her ears. The same hand grabbed her long blond ponytail and pulled
her head back sharply out of the sand. She gasped for air. Both her arms were held
against her sides by the weight of the person atop her. Paige’s eyes watered but not
enough to wash away the soggy grit embedded over her eyelids.
Paige knew she was about to be raped. But in her overwhelming fear for her life, rape
seemed strangely insignificant. She tried to convince herself that maybe another jogger
had witnessed the assault and phoned the police, but quickly realized this was wishful
thinking. She’d been jogging on the beach almost every day at this time for the seclusion
it provided. And that’s exactly what she had today: seclusion.
“Hi, Paige. Betcha never thought you’d see me again, huh?”
A man’s voice. Deep and raspy; the voice of a heavy smoker. Paige could detect no
hint of an accent, and her tortured brain struggled to find something familiar or
identifiable in its tone. The assailant’s use of her name and implication of previous
contact set her into an even deeper panic.
He knows my name. This isn’t random.
Paige felt another sharp pull on her ponytail.
“That’s right, you fucking whore; you know me,” he said, as if reading her mind. “But
I didn’t come here for a reunion. I came to make you a victim. Never been a victim
before, have you?”
Suddenly, the weight on her back lifted. She instinctively tried to get up. In the
same motion, Paige brushed a forearm across her grime-covered eyes to clear her vision.
Before Paige could open her eyes, however, she was struck a sharp blow over her left
ear by a hard, heavy object. Though not knocked unconscious, the force of the strike
flipped her over and put her flat on her back, dazed. She reflexively touched the
place on her head that had suffered the impact, and when her eyes finally focused,
she saw blood staining her fingers.
Paige looked up to see her attacker standing over her. He was wearing a gray hooded
sweatshirt and pants to match. The hood blended nicely into the ski mask covering
his face. He was Caucasian, by the glimpses of skin she could see around his lips
and eyes, and of medium height with a thin build. In one gloved hand was a large black
revolver, held loosely at his side. She realized the weapon was the object he’d struck
The man stared down at Paige, chuckling. His laugh was a harsh staccato. Then he stopped
grinning, leaned over, and leveled the revolver directly at her forehead. The distance
from the end of the barrel to Paige’s skull was no more than a few inches.
The hole at the muzzle gaped at her. Paige tried to look at the man and away from
the black tunnel of the revolver barrel but couldn’t pry her eyes from the gun. She
could feel herself trembling, convulsive shudders she was certain were visible to
the ski-masked figure looming over her.
“So long, slut,” the man said in his raspy voice.
Paige could see the revolver’s cylinder rotating as the man slowly began pulling the
trigger. She knew she was about to die.
Paige squeezed her eyes shut as a sob escaped her lips. The revolver fired.
At the sound of the doorbell, retired judge Gene Callen rose from his breakfast table
and limped toward the front door. He reached for his cane leaning against the doorway.
He’d been using the cane more with each passing year, though he had started limping
on his return from the Pacific theater in 1945. As a junior officer aboard the carrier
USS Sargent Bay, Callen had endured the unpleasant experience of being wounded during
the Iwo Jima campaign. The shrapnel damage to his right knee hadn’t been more than
a nuisance as a younger man, but as he approached his seventieth birthday, the war
wound reared its arthritic head with a vengeance.
The Judge hobbled through his large house toward the front door as the chimes sounded
“I’m coming,” he said, forgetting whoever was ringing the doorbell was beyond his
His house, or mansion as some would describe it, was on Dayton Avenue, in the heart
of Alameda’s Gold Coast. A widower, and retired from the Superior Court in the City
and County of Alameda, Judge Callen shared his home with a part-time housekeeper.
Though it was only a little past 7am, Judge Callen had risen and dressed, and was
enjoying his coffee and morning paper as had been his custom for over forty years.
Despite his age, the Judge was a remarkably vibrant man. And despite the cane, he
stood ramrod-straight and sported a full head of white hair. Up until a couple of
years ago, when his declining leg began severely limiting his mobility, it had been
his habit to take daily walks at this time of day. The degrading condition of his
gait the past couple of years had left him happy to get to his breakfast table each
morning without intolerable pain.
The Judge opened the door to find a uniformed Alameda police officer standing on his
“Good morning, Your Honor,” the officer said. “I’m sorry to disturb you at this hour,
but there’s been some trouble with your daughter. I need you to accompany me to the
“What is it? What’s happened to Paige?” His heart skipped a beat.
“She’s been attacked,” the cop answered. “I don’t think she’s badly hurt. I’ve been
ordered to escort you to the hospital. That’s all I know. The sergeant can give you
more information when we arrive.”
“Then let’s go,” the Judge said, grateful Paige was alive but filled with dread at
the word “attacked”. He stepped forcefully through the door and pulled it shut. Ignoring
the anguish in his leg, he pushed past the startled police officer and strode down
the walk toward the patrol car parked in front of his home.
The Alameda Hospital was on Clinton Avenue, only a few scant blocks from Callen’s
residence. Within a couple of minutes, he was clambering out of the patrol car, which
had come to rest at the emergency room entrance. Waiting to greet him was a tall,
middle-aged man in a suit, with a thick mustache and blow-dried hair. Callen recognized
him as an Alameda police detective.
“Judge Callen,” the man said, offering his hand. “I’m Detective Sergeant Randy Wendt.
I’m with APD’s Homicide/Robbery Unit. I believe we’ve met before.”
“I remember you,” the Judge said curtly, shaking his hand. “Where’s Paige? How bad
“Follow me and you can see for yourself.”
Wendt led Callen into the ER and to one of the treatment rooms. There, surrounded
by two people in hospital garb, sat Paige. She was still wearing her running attire
and was coated head to toe in sandy grime. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders
and sported a large shiner over her left eye. A patch of bloodied white gauze was
being held over her left ear by one of the attendants. Paige’s face was an ashen color,
and oddly enough, her forehead was covered with a bright, phosphorescent orange stain
over a nasty bruise. At her father’s entrance, Paige looked up.
“Paige; thank God. Are you OK? What happened?”
The woman holding the patch over Paige’s head motioned angrily for the Judge to leave.
It was then Callen noticed she wasn’t a nurse but a physician. She was busy sewing
stitches over his daughter’s ear.
Wendt took his cue from the attending doctor and firmly ushered the Judge out of the
“C’mon, Your Honor,” he said. “You can speak with your daughter after she’s been treated.
Let’s get a cup of coffee. There’s a break room down the hall; we can talk there.”
He escorted the red-faced Callen to a room with a table, a refrigerator, and an industrial-sized
Judge Callen sat down heavily and put his face in his hands. Wendt poured a cup of
coffee and placed it on the table before him.
Wendt sat across from the Judge. “We’re not sure yet. It only went down within the
past hour. We’re still piecing it together. Paige was pretty out of it when she was
brought in, so details are sketchy.”