Pale Morning Light Ch. 03

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The chronological order of my stories is as follows:

Todd & Melina series, Interludes 1-5, Sperm Wars series, Russian Roulette series, Case of the Murdered Lovers series, Case of the Murdered Chessplayer series, The Swap series, Interludes 6-10, The Murdered Football Player Series, Case of the Black Widow series, Teresa’s Christmas Story, The Case of the Black Badge series, A Case of Revenge series, Teresa’s Summer Race, The Trilogy series, Dark Side Of The Force series, Caught In The Act series, Case of the Murdered Bride series, The Credit Card Caper series, The Hot Wives Investment Club series, Seriously Inconvenienced series, Case of the Paper Trail series, Christmas Mystery Theater, The Porno Set Mystery series, The Medical Murder Mystery series, The Eightfold Fence series.

Pale Morning Light, Ch. 01-03.

Feedback and constructive criticism is very much appreciated, and I encourage feedback for ideas.

This story contains graphic scenes, language and actions that might be extremely offensive to some people. These scenes, words and actions are used only for the literary purposes of this story. The author does not condone murder, racial language, violence, rape or violence against women, and any depictions of any of these in this story should not be construed as acceptance of the above.


Part 13 – Resolution

“What the hell happened to you?” asked Jimmy ‘Coffin’ Cerone when he entered Richard Langdon’s office on the morning of Friday, February 20th. Langdon was sitting at the table eating breakfast, but it was obvious he’d taken a hard beating. “You look like Katherine Woodburn!”

“Yes,” said Langdon, “I got a visit from the Iron Crowbar last night.”

“That son of a bitch!” Langdon said. He pulled out his cellphone. “He won’t be alive tonight when I get done-“

“Hold it, hold it!” gasped Langdon. Cerone shut off the phone as Langdon said “If you put out a hit on him, it’ll start holy hell… and the man has backups ready to kill me if we go after him. Every one of my bodyguards was taken out by some very well trained bastards wearing all black. I swear to God I thought they were Japanese ninja.”

“Wow.” said Cerone. “That man don’t play right. He’s more like one of my old enforcers in Southport.”

“Yeah. But that’s not all of it.” Langdon replied, then confessed: “To be honest, Jimmy… I had it coming.”

“What the fuck?” gasped Cerone.

“Come over here and eat some breakfast.” Langdon said. As Cerone sat down, Langdon explained: “I didn’t know it at the time, but one of the women in the State Prison was the bastard’s sister. You know our friend up in his County? Well, he asked for the woman specifically, said he wanted to fuck that specific bitch. But when they went to get her, she fought back, broke a guard’s arm or something. So I did what comes next: I put out a hit on her. But they got her out of there. I’d forgotten about it… until last night, when Iron Crowbar gave me a very painful reminder.”

“All the more reason to fucking kill him.” said Cerone. “He can’t fuck with us like that.”

“It’s like you said, Jimmy,” Langdon replied, “the Iron Crowbar don’t play the way the pussies do. He plays our game, and for keeps. And I realize now that the man up in his county has double-crossed us, played us for fools. So I’m going to stay alive and give the Iron Crowbar what he wants, at least for now… we’re going to let him win the SBI battle. And you’re going to help me bring everyone to my bidding on this.”

Cerone stared at Langdon for a long moment, then said “All right. But one day I’m going to take that son of a bitch Troy out for this. I mean really take his ass out.”

“Sure, but only when his guard is down.” said Langdon. “Right now, he’s winning a hand or two, but we’ve got a lot of chips left for later rounds…”

Cerone said nothing, knowing that there was more to this. One man, even one with the most famous crowbar in the State, did not break this man this convincingly. Richard Langdon was one of the most brutal, ruthless, and feared criminals in the State. Yet he was now practically whimpering like an Ohio Republican Congressman after just one visit from a man who purported to be a cop but made that movie cop Dirty Harry look tame by comparison. Cerone wondered what else was going on, what the real threat to Langdon had been that had the man so utterly defeated.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“What?!” screamed Katherine Woodburn. “You’re capitulating? You son of a fucking bitch!”

“Miss Woodburn,” ‘Coffin’ Cerone said quietly as Katherine glared at Langdon with furious hatred written all over her attractive face, “calm yourself down and keep it respectful. I know you’re angry and I’ll let you get by with that one, but remember your place here.” It was a direct threat, but Katherine was not intimidated nor mollified; she continued to glare at Langdon.

“Miss Woodburn,” Langdon said, gaziantep manken escort “After you were beaten down a few days ago, how did you feel?”

“Furious.” said Katherine. “Jack Lewis might say it wasn’t the local cops, but I’m sure it was. And when I get the proof, I’m going to hit ’em back so hard their heads will spin.”

“Spoken like a true media reporter.” said Langdon. “And I mean that as a compliment, I truly do. But you can see what happened to me last night… and I can tell you right now that there will be no retaliation. Some days you get the bear, some days the bear gets you. Last night the bear got me. We’re going to give him this one, then get him back later at a time and by means of our choosing. For the time being, we need you in with us.”

“Not on this.” said Katherine, standing up. “I’m not with you. I won’t support any compromise, not on this, and especially not with him. I’m going to fight you on this, and I’m going to fight like hell, both behind the scenes and in front of the cameras.” With that, she left the room.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“This is Amber Harris with your 10:00pm news for Friday, February 20th on KXTC Channel Two News!” came the voice of the lovely blonde anchorwoman. “In an absolutely shocking development at the State Capitol today, a legislative agreement on the SBI bill was announced. Here with the details is KXTC Senior Managing Editor, Bettina Wurtzburg. Bettina, what happened here?” the blonde asked, turning to the lovely older redheaded reporterette sitting next to her at the anchor desk.

“It truly was a shock, Amber, but an agreement has been indeed been reached.” said Bettina. The camera began zooming in on Bettina as she looked into it. “Senator Richard Langdon of Madison County had been the leader of the so-called ‘strong SBI’ cabal inside the State Senate, pushing for the SBI to have more authority. He was strongly supported by Senator Katherine Woodburn, who is the former owner of KXTC and the successor to the late Nathan Allen as your 1st District State Senator. But in a shocking reversal, Senator Langdon accepted a compromise proposal from the Governor’s office, and Channel Two News has learned that Town & County Police Commander Donald Troy, who is also with the SBI Reserve, worked with the Governor to author the compromise bill.”

Bettina continued: “In the bill, the SBI will have 36 regions or zones, generally corresponding to each State Senate district but not including the City, which remains autonomous regarding law enforcement issues. Each SBI district will have two or more agents permanently assigned, and these agents will assist local sheriff and police forces, and will coordinate investigations that extend across county lines. Part of their mission will be to forge good relationships with local law enforcement and the people of their local communities.

“In addition, the SBI Reserve will be strengthened, with local law enforcement able to call up Reservists from other jurisdictions to assist in investigations. The local LEOs can also have the SBI Reservists stand down and the LEOs take back jurisdiction over an investigation. Previously, the SBI would assert and retain jurisdiction once called in; the new law will stop that practice and keep local law enforcement fully in control of their jurisdictions.”

Amber Harris said, per the previously-written script template: “Bettina, this sounds like a big win for Commander Troy and other local agencies that did not like the SBI’s heavy-handed manner in taking over jurisdiction of cases. Or is it?”

“Yes is is, Amber,” said Bettina, “but it’s not all one-sided. On the other side, the SBI’s Narcotics Task Force has more jurisdictional authority than before. The new law spells out their requirements for entering a jurisdiction for open investigations or making arrests, and this will hopefully avoid more incidents like the firefight with our own TCPD a few months ago. Under the new statute, the NTF must inform a jurisdiction at least two hours in advance, and must also forward their previously-obtained warrants before coming into a jurisdiction… and they must inform the on-duty local jurisdiction, such as our TCPD’s Duty Desk; they can’t just call the closed Accounting or Media Relations office at 2:00am and leave a message on an answering machine.

“However, if they do comply with the requirements of the new law, they’ll be able to conduct drug operations without further permission or cooperation, and they also can do more undercover work without informing local authorities, provided that they do inform the local county’s State Highway Patrol as their liaison. The idea is that the State will be better able to work on cases that cross county lines without having to go through a lot of red tape, but local jurisdictions don’t get ambushed… literally… again like what happened here previously.

Bettina continued: “I have gaziantep masaj yapan escort talked to several sources, and they all say that this only puts a band-aid on the situation, and better State-Local relationships are imperative for making this work. That’s why there’s going to be core SBI Agents in a region; hopefully those agents will forge good relations with their local authorities, and there will be a spirit of working together instead of wrestling for jurisdictional control.”

Amber asked “What about the SBI structure itself? That was such a big issue in Midtown this legislative session.”

Bettina replied “That’s very true, Amber, and Channel Two News has learned that SBI Deputy Director Tom Conlan will be made Director of the SBI Reserve Program and its agents. There will also be a Deputy Director for the core SBI Agents, and a Deputy Director overseeing the Narcotics Task Force. SBI Director Jack Lewis will retain his current position, and Inspector Britt Maxwell, formerly of our University Campus Police, will have further duties as Inspector General of the SBI. She will oversee an office that will be more autonomous and be like an SBI and State-wide Internal Affairs department. She’ll answer to the State Attorney General, but can also go straight to the Governor himself if the situation calls for it.

“Finally, the last new post is one of an outside Advisor to the Director of the Reserve Program, and the Governor announced that he has ‘persuaded’ Town & County Police Commander Donald Troy to accept this advisory role, though Commander Troy will need the Town & County Council’s permission to accept the State role. This role would essentially be one representing the various police officers that comprise the SBI Reserve Program.

“Finally, SBI Reservists are no longer limited to 60 days per year of SBI active duty, but cannot serve more than 30 days consecutively without permission from the State Attorney General, and must ‘show cause’ and receive permission from the Governor to remain on SBI active status more than 180 days of the year.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Saturday morning, February 21st. I was at breakfast in the private back room of the Country Breakfast Diner. Owner John ‘Jack’ Colby and his fellow T&C Councilperson Dagmar Schoen were there, along with Chief Emeritus Griswold and Sheriff Daniel Allgood, and we were discussing the recent SBI deal.

“So, Don,” said Colby, “who won?”

“Hell, I can’t even figure out if I personally won or lost.” I said. “They want me to be a one-man Union for the Reservists. Is that a good or bad thing?”

“It’s good you’re in a position to be involved and in the loop.” said Dagmar Schoen. “Don, you have a level of political access and influence that some politicians would literally kill to get… and you don’t even use it.”

“Count your blessings for that.” I said with a grin, which made Chief Griswold grunt with amusement. “Seriously, I agree that being involved is good. As to who won, I think both sides got a lot of what they wanted, but they’ll never admit it while they’re complaining about what they didn’t get, which is a total win over the other side.”

“I think you did an amazing job, Crowbar.” said Griswold. “Absolutely amazing. And don’t try to deny it. I have it straight from Val Jared’s mouth that it was your compromise bill that they accepted pretty much verbatim.”

“So tell me this.” said Colby. “Why did you give Jack Lewis so much? Just to get them to agree to something?’

“That’s some of it.” I said. “The truth is that Katherine Woodburn was rallying her troops so hard around a scorched-earth, dig-in, no-compromise policy that I really thought the other side was going to cave in. She was forming a coalition to block the whole thing. And I also knew that in any real compromise, something has to be traded.”

I continued: “In this case, it’s realistic that the SBI, particularly the Narcotics Task Force, have jurisdictional authority when county lines are crossed, and they often are crossed in the areas of smuggling, drugs and fleeing arrests. So I can concede what logically should be conceded. What I really wanted to stop was the bullshit the NTF did last year, walking in on our raid and shooting at us. I don’t care what anyone else says; that was no accident, the SBI was there with the intent to shoot and kill TCPD officers, not the drug smugglers. At least if they try that now, they’ll be breaking the law and I can put them in my jails for it.”

“What about Tom Conlan?” asked Dagmar. “How did he take it?”

“I talked to him personally about it.” I said. “I told him that I was not the one that added those new Deputy Director positions, nor did I mention him in any way. I told him that I was as disappointed as he is that they essentially demoted him. And that’s the truth; I certainly didn’t have anything to do with that. The Governor gaziantep masöz escort told him that, also, so he’s not mad at me, at least I hope he’s not. But he’s not thrilled about it.”

“Well, he wanted the Reserve Program and the Reservists, and at least he has them now.” said Colby.

“Yes, but this was a clear win for Jack Lewis over him.” I said. “And it’s one of the things our legislative guys had to concede to the other side. One of their lodestones was putting Lewis in position to run for Governor in the next Election.”

Chief Griswold added “I can tell you this much: it cleaned up a few things, tied off a few loose ends, but everything is about the same. This will depend on people doing the right thing and working together. Now that dirtbag Jack Lewis and I were never going to work together, but word is already going around that he’s fearful enough of the Iron Crowbar to watch himself, and that is a good thing even if for the wrong reasons. But Don, do take every opportunity to work with other people, and crush them only if they don’t work with you in return. Dagmar is right: you’re in a position that most people really envy; use the power wisely, but don’t be afraid to take advantage of your opportunities if it’s to do good.”

I nodded. The Chief was right, as always.

“Don must’ve done something right.” said Dagmar Schoen. “He got Richard Langdon, one of the toughest and dirtiest bastards in the State, to come correct and compromise. Don, how’d you do that?” The Chief had this knowing look in his eyes at that question.

“In some things…” I replied, “… only the Shadow of the Crowbar knows… only the Shadow of the Crowbar knows…”

Part 14 – New Troubles

As the breakfast meeting broke up, Sheriff Allgood said quietly to me “Come back to Headquarters with me; I’ve got something very important to show you. Go into your office and I’ll bring it to you so you can access your computer.”

As I drove to Headquarters, I noticed that the light of the new day was pale and cold. I felt that chill deep into the core of my very being, though I wasn’t sure why. Once inside Headquarters, as I sat down behind my desk, my eyes were inexorably drawn to the Police Shield of Corporal Peter M. Feeley that hung on the wall next to the desk. A further weight seemed to grasp at my soul as I contemplated it. A moment later, Daniel came in with a folder… and with Cindy Ross and Teresa Croyle in tow. I asked them all to sit down.

“Vice got this early Friday morning.” Daniel said, handing me the folder. “Ross and Croyle brought it to me. I had told them not to call you about anything while you were in Midtown, so yell at me, not them. In the meantime, we’re on the lookout for the guy now, but Ross suggested we not put out a formal, public APB just yet.”

I looked at the pictures and I’m sure my eyes must’ve been wide as saucers. When I looked up, Cindy and Teresa both were trying to suppress grins and giggles.

“Yeah, I see why you didn’t want to put out an APB.” I said. “He’d probably find out about it pretty quickly. Anything new on him?”

“I had Lorena go back in there last night.” Teresa replied. “And I sent a few other people in at intervals so that we had constant coverage. Skinny Beard never showed up. I had Geiger go in as an ‘obvious mark’ and ask a question or two.” An ‘obvious mark’ was the name we called someone that would be spotted as a cop quickly, but someone we didn’t mind if they spotted him or her as a cop. Geiger was pretty obviously a cop.

“We also had him ask around, and a woman that only we know is Lorena said she saw him for a minute and he turned her down, and that she left while he was sitting at the bar and she didn’t see him again.” said Teresa. “That whole show was to protect Lorena, if anyone was keeping an eye on her, but we hoped it’d get others to talk. But no one did, and probably no one saw or remembered anything.”

“Good enough.” I said. “Now this club is a place where mid-level people come in to make drug deals?”

“Maybe.” Teresa said. “Let me put it this way: we think people would come in from time to time to make deals of different kinds. Maybe drugs, maybe some guns or other stuff. But then the clientele changed and the punks came in, so non-punks stood out too much. We now think the main thing going on is someone comes in, drops off a note that gets back to T-Square or one of his minions, and a contact is made or a meeting is set up somewhere else. Yes, they can do that at one of T-Square’s other clubs, as well.”

“Skinny Beard probably was a bit out of place at this club, then.” I said. “So he probably left a note, or else went to the restroom and on into the back of the building and exited that way. We can watch the place, but I doubt he’ll come back.”

“We’re trying to get a warrant under seal to get a camera up to watch the doors of the place.” Cindy said. “The judge understands the need to have it under seal, but he’s worried about the open-ended nature of the surveillance.”

“Okay. If we don’t get it, I’m not going to cry about it.” I said. “Anything else?”

“I daresay.” came a voice from the doorway as it opened. Special Agent in Charge Jack Muscone of the FBI came into the office. He shook everyone’s hand.

“Seems someone came back to Town, Jack.” I said, handing Jack the file.

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