Thursday, November 22, 2012

NaNoWriMo Day 22

Chapter Eleven

It was Thanksgiving Day, a few weeks after the bust that had killed Lieutenant Thibodeaux and injured a fellow officer, and Detective Hartwig still couldn't get the vision of Higgins out of his brain. Hartwig had been in his patrol car, as usual, and had seen Higgins explode through a window and sprawl to the ground. He had also seen the glint of steel in the man's hand and knew something had gone wrong. He'd heard the muffled pops from inside, but didn't know the full situation. Didn't know about Thibodeaux and the inquiry to follow. Didn't realize the guilt he'd feel. How he could have warned Thibodeaux, at least given him some heads up that Higgins had guns.

Why didn't he tell? Because everybody thought this was going to be an easy bust. Because, when it came to the college students, the police always had the upper hand, and there was never any trouble besides the usual high jinks and ticky tacky misdemeanors. For Christ's sake, an officer had not been brought down in the line of duty in Bonneville since 1975, a good thirty plus years, and even then it wasn't during a drug raid, but a roadside stop of a troubled man who'd just divorced his wife and was planning to commit suicide. Then, it was a case of bad luck, of not being prepared for a situation to go worse, even though it was an officer's sacred duty to plan and be prepared for just that, the worst.

Thanksgiving morning, when Hartwig supposed he'd be thinking about football and going over to his brother's house for a good meal, he couldn't get the vision of the young man splayed out on a lawn, the spray of red when he was hit in the throat by the bullet. And the utter sense of fear and hatred on the man's face, even in the rigor of death, as Hartwig was the first on the scene after the smoke cleared.

Hartwig sat up in bed and looked out on the day through the dusty and battered venetian blinds. He lived alone. Had always lived alone. No wife. No kids. Hardly any friends besides work colleagues. His brother Artie, who lived only five minutes away, was the family man, though his two sons were grown, out of college, and with families of their own. Hartwig wasn't even going to his brother's today. They were out of town, visiting the youngest son and his wife, who had just had their first child and didn't want to make the trip north from Memphis, TN.

Hartwig had the entire four day weekend off, and he hated it. Not that he loved his job, or anything, but it gave him something to do. His other hobbies, which included playing bingo down at the Catholic mission and collecting pinball machines and other arcade memorabilia, could not be done this weekend. Maybe he'd futz around on the Internet or clean out his car. Yeah, right. Or just sit here in bed awhile and mope. Hartwig smiled at the silly sense of inadequacy he felt in these silent, lonely times.

Just then the phone rang. Hartwig checked the caller ID and saw it was Judge Giannini. What would the judge want from Hartwig at 8:30 on a holiday morning?

“Happy Thanksgiving, good sir, and to what do I owe the pleasure?” Hartwig asked.

“Happy turkey day to you, too, Snoopsy,” said the judge in a tired voice. Hartwig knew that the man was about to say something Hartwig didn't like.

“Jesus, what is it?”

“I'm sure you can figure it out. But I'll just tell you. I'm getting some serious heat from the DA about that search warrant I issued you for the Higgins bust.”

“I kind of figured it had something to do with that. Even though its been six weeks, every thing the department does has been under scrutiny. The Captain thinks it's a blot on his record that an officer died on duty under his watch. But what does this have to do with you? With the search warrant?”

“Remember when we were talking out on the golf course and I said something about this Higgins fella, and how the name seemed familiar to me, but I just couldn't place it?”

“Yes, of course, but I thought nothing of it because Higgins is a pretty common name.”

“You're right, it is. But our Higgins - the dead drug dealer – it turns out his father is some high rolling suburban attorney whose specialty happens to be criminal law.”

“Yeah, but so what? We still found a dealer quantity stash inside his room. And he still killed one of our own. The weapon was in his hand when he died. What's his father going to do to us? How does the law work in his favor in this case?”

“You know how it goes. Goddamn lawyers try to get by on a technicality. Usually, they don't care when their client is deceased, or has killed a cop. But this particular cop killer happens to be the lawyer's son, and the lawyer's been sniffing around big time, trying to find some way to exonerate his son. He's even trying to get criminal charges placed on the officer who shot his son.”

“I can't believe it. That's crazy. And how do you and I play into this foolish gambit?”

“The search warrant.”

“What about it?”

“First of all, there's a few typos. Janet was in a hurry, I guess, to get to lunch or something when she typed it. And you were in such a hurry for me to get it signed that I didn't notice them when I signed it. If that search warrant is invalid, then we would have been engaged in unlawful search and seizure and, despite the death of one of our top cops, it would put the entire department into liability.”

“Well, I stand by that warrant. So what if there's a few misplaced commas or misspelled words. The gist of it is true. And the warrant was valid, dammit. We got the drugs. We got our man. And he got one of ours.”

“Yes, but how did you find this out? What's the probable cause?”

“As it says in the warrant, heavy foot traffic was scene going in and out of the residence. Drug paraphenilia, baggies and drug residue, were found nearby.”

“Yeah, Snoopsy, but did you REALLY investigate it or did you just talk to some guy? I need to know. It's my ass on the line, too. I signed that warrant in good faith that what it contained was true.”

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