Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters” – Part Four
Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters”
“This is Detective Martindale. I’m calling in reference to the shooting at the Mall yesterday.”
“I figured as much when you started talking. Look, I’ve already given all of my details when I answered your boy’s questions yesterday so I don’t…”
“I want you to come down here. We have some more things we need to know from you. I understand you were on the job once so you know where to come.”
“I told your boys everything, in detail, about what went down…”
“Ellis, get your ass down here or do I have to stop being polite and have you brought downtown in a black and white? Get sober and put on your pants. Be here in thirty minutes or I send out a car to embarrass you in front of the neighbors.”
He hung up on me. Detective Game Show Host hung up on me. There was no need for that. Well, yes, there was.
I got dressed and drove downtown. Just to give his blood pressure a jolt I waited to walk through the door five minutes after his deadline and I said I was there to see Detective Monty Hall.
It had been more than a few years since I’d been upstairs at the Department HQ. When I left it was not under the best of circumstances. My superiors more or less understood my reasons for leaving. There had been others – other men for whom the pain of looking into the eyes of the people we were supposed to protect, but didn’t – couldn’t haunted them. Those men were never talked about. It was as if they had died.
It wasn’t the same with a lot of the men still wearing the blue uniforms. For them The Job was still a “Man” thing. Even some of the women officers were caught in the “tough” thing, like the shield made them impervious to the pain that filled each day. They looked at me like I was a weak sister.
Their time would come. They would reach a point where they would either wrap their hearts in steel, shutting out everyone not in blue, or they would end up sitting in the dark one night and swallow their service weapon. Everyone in their lives either left or receded from sight blocked out by the glare of The Street. It became Divorce or Die. So many honest, dedicated, members of The Force let their job make them into Hermits lost in the crowd.
Detective Martindale didn’t know me, just “of me.” He made me wait – a show of disrespect – before he came out of his cubicle and led me to one of the interrogation rooms. There was no need for that, treating me like I was a suspect. I wasn’t surprised. Nothing surprised me anymore.
The room looked like it hadn’t been painted since I left. It was still that same sickly green color that we used to call, “Universal Men’s Room Green.” It looked even worse now. Evidently there had been a leak at some point and the walls had patches that were discolored and peeling. At least the small desk and the two chairs were, if not new, new to the room. Every other time I’d been in there I’d been the one sitting at the desk. Not this time. This time I was sitting in “the Perp chair – bolted to the floor and made of hard plastic. King Kong couldn’t use it as a weapon.
Martindale sat behind the desk – also bolted down. He didn’t bother to pull out his chair choosing to swing his leg over the back like he was some sort of cowboy getting on his horse. That move is supposed to intimidate the person in the Perp chair. I’d used it myself when I was the one with the questions. To counter the horse maneuver he offered me a cigarette. That was meant to confuse me. Was he going to be a tough guy or more friendly?
“I don’t smoke. I gave ‘em up when I gave up everything else from around here.” I didn’t mean that to sound as sarcastic as it did. Well, maybe just a little.
He slipped the smokes into his coat pocket and dropped a file folder onto the desktop.
I decided that I was going to answer his questions with bare facts and nothing else. If he asked me if I knew the time I would look at my watch and answer, “Yes,” and leave it there. Not until he asks me “What time is it?” would I give him 2:13 or whatever.
“I needed to ask you a few more questions about that incident at the Mall.”
Incident? Someone slipping and falling would be an “Incident,” this was a butchering.
“There seemed to be some confusion about how it all went down. Tell me again what you saw.”
“I saw a nutball with a pump action shotgun killing people at random. I didn’t want to be one of them. That pretty much sums it up. C’mon, why are we doing this, really? I gave your boy yesterday a detailed report. All he had to do was type it up and turn it in.”
“I’ve already read it. Humor me for a few minutes and then I’ll cut you loose so you can go do…whatever you do these days”
“Did you know the shooter, Mr. Ellis?”
“Did he say anything to you?”
“Did you say anything to him?”
“Not that he heard.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that he was dead when I called him a Son of a bitch.”
Mr. Game Show jotted something in his file. I doubt that it was complimentary.
“Did you know the shooter?”
“You asked me that already. Check your notes.”
“Are you sure you didn’t know him?”
“Yes, I’m sure I didn’t know him. Should I have known him?”
“Did you know the other two shooters?”
What the…? What is he leading to?
“I doubt it since I wasn’t at the other two scenes. Did I know the other shooters? Cut to the chase ‘Wink’ or I’m leaving. I have laundry that is waiting to be done.”
“OK, you want The Chase? I think you knew that shooter at the Mall – the one you iced with two very nice shots to his chest. His name was Nate Williams…”
“Never heard of him,” I interrupted.
“Nate Williams. His father was also a Nate Williams. You put him in for 15 to 30 years just before you walked away. Ring a bell?”
It did sound familiar. Like hearing the name of someone you went to high school with twenty years ago, and didn’t know them well even then.
“A faint bell. So what? I boxed and shipped a lot of guys.” He wasn’t listening. He had his nose in his file folder. He was going to need glasses before long, probably bifocals.
“What about Leslie Ann Wolas? Know her?”
“That the girl shooter? Nope. Don’t tell me I knew her mother. Did we meet at an AA Meeting?
“No – you shot and killed her father, Greg Wolas.”
“Doesn’t ring a bell at all. What’s the sob story on number three? Was his daddy and me classmates in Kindergarten or what?”
“Not quite. Timothy Collins. You busted up his father in front of him when the kid was 12 years old. You were disciplined on that one. He sued the city for six million dollars. You blinded him in one eye while ‘questioning’ him about something he turned out to be clean on.”
“Three shooters somewhere in the middle of twenty-some dead people scattered around town and all three of the shooters are tied to you.”
“How did you ID all three of them? I heard that two of them got away.”
“The girl called one of the TV stations and gave them all the details. They wanted us to know…and you too.”