Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Long Shot

“I went to shoot Johnny, but he was already dead.”

Without even the hint of a cracker this caged canary was singing his heart out. Un-coerced information just isn’t supposed to come this easy, but his predisposition to song intrigued me, like a chili-dog with extra cheese and onions lies in wait for a man with irritable-bowel syndrome.

After serving a stint up-state, Johnny Smirconich resurfaced in my beat. His arrival was as welcomed as a turd floating in the east river. Not that my beat was squeaky clean but I prided myself on progress made. I intended to cut off the source of raw sewage spilling onto my streets by squeezing Johnny to roll over on his boss, ‘one-eyed’ Don. My efforts would be severely hampered by this inconvenient dirt nap. Fresh leads were becoming scarce and I hoped lighting a fire under Mark Kimball would provide something.

“Kinda ironic don’t you think? You go to a man’s house to kill him and presto, he’s already taken two rounds to the melon.”

The young man simply shrugged, “Just a matter of time, really—you piss enough people off they’re gonna come looking for ya.”

As much as I hated to admit it Mark was right. The line of those wishing to exact revenge on Johnny Smirconich produced more slobbering, wild-eyed onlookers than a Chippendale dancer at a nunnery. Only the fear of retribution kept the angry mob at bay. ‘One-eyed’ Don was known for brutally defending his own, even a lackey like Johnny. The killer was either extremely stupid or very well connected.

I was a man of proven techniques, pacing seemed to produce a decided advantage in fraying my quarry’s nerves. As I moved from view, I retrieved a cigar and offered it to him.

“I hear congratulations are in order. Is your wife expecting a boy or a girl?”

Wide eyes telegraphed his disbelief; that I had actually done some homework, but as quickly as he had taken to song; my canary suddenly lost his willingness to warble. He ripped the cigar from my hand and adopted a defensive tone.

“Neither Patty nor her pregnancy have anything to do with this. Is it too much to ask that you stay on topic—flatfoot?”

I stood flabbergasted; never in the history of man has a fine celebratory cigar met with such harsh greetings. The probe had obviously exposed a vein of sensitivity. With the care and compassion a Doberman shows a T-bone I gripped the vein between my teeth, anxiously wishing to discover the source of discomfort.

“Word has it pretty Patty likes to put out and she has a penchant for bad-boys. Honesty Mark, how long did you think she’d settle for bumper cars before looking for a wilder ride? Is that why you went to whack Johnny?”

A vindictive grin graced my lips. In one fell swoop I had accosted his manhood, the integrity of his wife, and at least to my satisfaction addressed the flatfoot accusation. The rage boiled in his eyes and I was certain only a few seconds separated me from information vital to busting this case wide open.

“She didn’t ask for it—that no-good bastard raped her!”

One juicy tidbit is all he provided, a measly hors d'oeuvre tossed to a man expecting prime-rib. He refused to comment any further without representation.

Not surprisingly his lawyer dodged my calls. For three days I left messages with his secretary trying to arrange the meeting. Perhaps some of the sympathy in my voice had been lost in the shorthand translation. I simply suggested the counsel had misplaced his conscience beneath a pile of law books and for the sake of his client I hoped his weakened spine would allow for the unearthing of such.

On Wednesday morning at 4:03 am my phone rang. It was the illusive counselor advising me we would have to delay the meeting further. Mark allegedly awakened to find Patty taking advantage of an early morning swim—facedown in the pool and fully clothed.

A small caliber round lodged in Patty’s brain had significantly lessoned her ability to recall the front crawl. There was a mound of evidence piling up and I was about to unleash an avalanche of justice on a very unsuspecting suspect. Call me twisted, but I was as giddy as a homely schoolgirl standing by the punchbowl at her first dance. With lust-filled eyes she spots the geek in the corner. He fiddles with his pocket-protector while sixteen years of unfulfilled passion boil in her loins. This case hadn’t dragged on that long, but before the night was through I also aimed to get a piece of someone.

An uncomfortable air fell about the place as I paced in front of Mark and his representation. Each of us sensed an eerie explosion was about to take place. The small interrogation room would provide little refuge from shrapnel and I suspected we’d all emerge bloody.

“I suppose the only question remaining is how do you feel about a shiny new set of bracelets, Mark?”

His lawyer smirked, “Don’t waste our time with your conjecture—let’s get down to business.”

“As you wish, counselor—Johnny Smirconich was not a model citizen, and for that matter neither was Patty Kimball, but an unfortunate set of circumstances led to their murders. Due to Patty’s promiscuous ways she found herself pregnant and in desperate need of a father, so she claimed Johnny had raped her. There’s one serious flaw with her choice. Johnny had just finished serving time for a child-molestation charge. A bit of jail-house justice saw to it that Johnny’s offending member was severed with a shank. They eventually stopped the bleeding, but shall we say ‘little Johnny’ was unsalvageable.

Believing his wife’s accusation, in a fit of rage, Mark went to settle the score. After releasing an errant shot he panicked and ran, evidenced by the coroner report stating the round in Johnny’s upper thigh was inflicted at least a half-hour prior to the deadly rounds.

Once Patty learned Johnny had only been wounded she went back to close the deal. Patty Kimball was loose, but she wasn’t stupid. She realized once word got out, and word always gets out; ‘one-eyed’ Don would be coming for Mark. She must have presented some convincing argument.”

His lawyer laughed out loud, but I knew from Mark’s pained expression that my supposition was not far from the truth.

“Both of the victims were dispatched with a .22 caliber pistol.”

“Yeah—the most common weapon on the planet”, his lawyer quipped.

“Ballistic test show these rounds came from no ordinary .22, each fired from a top of the line Pardini, costing upwards of three grand. I must admit the weapon choice seemed a bit strange at first. A search through appropriate records showed twenty-three sold in the New York area during the time frame we’re considering, but most notably only one in a left hand model.”

My information seemed to ruffle Mark’s feathers as the canary regained his voice.

“What makes you think Patty knew how to handle a gun? Besides she was right handed.”

“You purchased the gun, Mark. You snatched the cigar from me with your left hand and the paperwork signed for the weapon has already been analyzed. As far as Patty is concerned, this little piece of evidence should remove any doubt.”

I took the opportunity to back up my assertions with a yellowed news article. The title was ‘Patty’s Pardini Wins Gold’. No one could deny she was a crack shot, but two days before the Olympic finals a cruel twist of fate saw her right hand crushed by a car door. Patty insisted on competing and despite shooting left handed she managed to blow the competition away and glided on to gold.

The sober expressions indicated I had their full attention. I seized the moment by closing to within inches of Mark’s face.

“Isn’t it true that Patty refused to get an abortion which you insisted upon? When she flatly denied your pleas you decided that if you couldn’t kill the baby you would take her life!”

Mark shot out of his chair and bolted for the door. Expecting such desperation I intercepted him midway. The subsequent rustling of chairs summoned two other officers which assisted in subduing the confused man. Before Mark was escorted from the room he turned to me and posed one last question.

“If Patty wasn’t raped—do you think there’s a possibility the baby was mine?”

I carefully considered my response, “Sure, son, it’s possible.”

Mark obviously wasn’t thinking clearly, but who says detectives don’t have a heart. Just yesterday I had confirmed with medical officials that Patty had been informed of the sonogram results; those revealing a genetic defect in the baby. The affliction is called Anophthalmos; a condition whereby none of the tissue for the eye develops. The baby she was carrying was ‘one-eyed Don’s.


paisley said...

your fiction just keeps getting better.... excellent complexity in the story line!!!!!

Jo A. T.B. said...

As always your descriptives are amazing, and sometimes humorous! I love the twist and turns in your plot! Really good Dan, Happy New Year!

Shirley said...

Wow, talk about a defining moment! I agree with Jodi, the more you write the more I like what you write.

Anonymous said...

"like a chili-dog with extra cheese and onions lies in wait for a man with irritable-bowel syndrome." Had me laughing out loud with the metaphors all through this...

And man, what a jaded detective! good story!