Thursday, November 08, 2012

NaNoWriMo day eight

"Yes." Thibodeaux repeated in a flat monotone. He didn't like Hartwig. They had a history, and a not very good one at that. Hartwig, to his credit, didn't hold grudges. He kept information, and was sure to use it to his advantage. But nothing was ever personal. Feelings only got in the way and clouded one's perceptions. Hartwig's feelings ran diochromatic - he was either sunny or stoic, and always played off the mood of who he was with.


"I've got some fresh meat for you. Better get the boys together. This one's a sure thing," Hartwig said.




"Name of Tom Higgins, over at the Alpha Upsilon Mu house. Word on the street is he's a major player in the scene out that way."


"We got a warrant yet?"


"I'm working on that."




"No need."


"Then how are you getting a warrant?"


"Like I said, I'll work on that."


"Listen, detective, with all due respect, I can't 'get the boys together,' as you say, until we get that warrant."


"Easy, Thibodeaux. Look, it's Wednesday. I want this Higgins by Friday night. We'll get him before he makes a weekend sale. I want to get him all stocked up, see? And I just thought I'd give you a heads up."


"Next time detective, with all due respect, for future reference, please don't ask me to get the task force together unless you have a warrant. Unless you need surveillance help to get a warrant. Is there anything else?"


"No. I'll call you back."


Thibodeaux hung up. Hartwig nestled the phone back in the cradle and thought a moment, staring off at his door. Damn, that Thibodeaux had a rod up his ass. Hartwig knew Thibodeaux kept mentioning surveillance as a dig at Hartwig, who used informants, many whom he had in back pocket and, yes, raw hunches sometimes, to figure out who to nab.

Thibodeaux knew Hartwig didn't need to take evidence before Judge Walter Giannini to get a warrant. The two were old friends. They'd known each other since childhood and had competed together on the 1967 state championship runner-up Bonneville High School (The Fighting Bluejays!) football squad. They were closer than brothers. Surveillance? Hartwig chuckled at the idea. His cold coffee days were long behind him.


 Hartwig started to dial Giannini's number, but checked the time and put the phone back in the cradle. "Shit," he said. "Ol' boy's on the links right now, I'm guessing." This wasn't good. Hartwig wanted to get the warrant pronto to show up Thibodeaux. Maybe the secretary would expedite it for him. The judge's signature was needed, and even though forging a judge's name was a crime, she might be good for it. Giannini'd had her do it before. Or, Hartwig could stop by the judge's office, get the warrant, and meet him out by the back nine. Maybe he'd stop at the fraternity house too to get a lay of the land for Thibodeaux.


Hartwig thought better of that. Hartwig thumbed through the rolodex again, looking for the fire marshall's number. He held up the card as he dialed the number. Fire Marshall Orrin Batista proved very helpful, and let Hartwig know where the fire escape was in relation to room 8, where this Higgins fella was supposedly operating. Hartwig then called Giannini's secretary and gave her the particulars for the warrant. She said she'd draw up a draft while Hartwig talked to the judge.


But the judge didn't answer his cell phone. It was finally time for action, Hartwig supposed. He took a long sip from a two-liter bottle of soda at the foot of his desk. It was flat. He finished it off and threw it in the corner, landing in proximity of the trash can. There were other empty bottles nearby. Damn if the janitor didn't do anything but empty the garbage can and nothing else, Hartwig thought. He'd have a talk with the lad, but then again maybe that wasn't such a good idea. Didn't want anybody rooting around in his stuff. Hartwig's office was chaotic and messy, but it was his chaos, and he comprehended it. If someone else were to monkey around in here, Hartwig might not be able to make sense of the new order imposed.


Hartwig rose with a groan, tucked his shirt in his pants, put on his wrinkled suit jacket and, as an after thought, carried his gun and badge as he headed for the door. The elevator was conveniently across the hall from Hartwig's office. Although he was only on the fourth floor, it had been years since Hartwig had seen the stairwell.


As if to spite Thibodeaux and his digs about surveillance, Hartwig drove by the Alpha Upsilon Mu house anyways. After all, it was on the way to the Limmers Creek Golf Course. Greek Row was on the south side of Bonneville. It was the newest part of town, built in the 1980s to accommodate a growing student population. The population density was highest here, a mix of private dormitories, apartment complexes and townhomes. It had convenient access to the interstate. These factors all made the Bonneville Police Department nervous. It was common for robbers and shooters to commit crimes and then get on the highway and go. The young population was unpredictable. Crowds and parties and driving were a bad mix. Urban planners didn't take these factors into account. Developer money and a new tax base in what was formerly corn fields blinded their judgment in this regard.


The frat house was on a corner lot and had a large parking lot. The fire escape was at the back end of the two-story structure, leading onto the parking lot. Higgins room was in the middle of a long hallway. He was on the first floor, so officers would need to be stationed outside his window as well. A shared bathroom was two doors down from Higgins's room. That would be a non-factor.


Yes, Hartwig thought. This should be an easy in-out. Clean. Cut and dried. No muss. No fuss. Nothing was ever as easy as it looked, but this sure looked easy. The layout was ideal.


When he got to Limmers Creek, Hartwig went directly to the lounge, hoping to find Giannini, but he wasn't there. Damn, Hartwig thought. There'll be no quick turnaround on this warrant after all, but at least it'd be taken care of by day's end. He thought about getting a cart and tracking his old friend down on the course, but thought better of it. Let him enjoy his round without interruption. It was easier to wait at the bar. He asked the bartender to look out for the judge.


The lounge was an ideal place to wait, for it looked out on the course, and the 18th pin was in sight of the back deck area. Hartwig ordered a whiskey sour, paid, and placed the skewered fruit, uneaten, on the coaster with a look of disdain. Although it would be cool in the shade of the deck area, Hartwig wanted to enjoy some fresh air. He sat outside and was nearly finished with his drink, feeling drowsy and wound down after the busy morning, head slumped down in his lap, when his old friend nearly walked by without noticing him.


Hartwig felt a slap on his foot.


"Hey, no sleeping on the job, Snoopsy," Giannini said, referencing Hartwig by his team nickname, which was still appropriate in Hartwig's chosen profession.


Hartwig raised his head up, startled, and spoke as he yawned, "Well, shee-it, Go Go, seems your get up and go done got up and went. I wouldn't be sleeping if you didn't take so long on the back nine. What'd you shoot today?"


The two others with Giannini laughed as they passed by. "Shh. Shh." Giannini laughed. "Let's just say I kept it in two digits. Damn wind kept putting me in the rough."


Hartwig shook his head and reached into his back pocket for the warrant. He spread it out on the circular table before him and then reached in his shirt pocket for a pen, but didn't find one. He searched through his suit pockets.


"Damn," Hartwig muttered. "You don't have a pen, do you? I need you to sign this arrest warrant for me."


"Well, can I at least read it?" Giannini said, taking a seat across from Hartwig.


"Trust me. This one's squeaky clean. But check it out while I hunt down a pen. You need anything from the bar?" Hartwig asked.


"Yeah, sure. Tell Darla I'll have my usual, and have her put it on my tab." Giannini said.


Hartwig rocked back and forth three times before heaving himself up. He limped slightly -- an old injury, a gunshot wound that shattered his ankle twenty years ago -- and lumbered towards the bar, returning moments later with a lime rickey for the judge and a lemon lime soda for himself. There was too much work yet to do today. Hartwig couldn't tie one on. He handed a pen to Giannini, who looked up briefly to grab the pen, but continued to read.


Annoyance crept over Hartwig's face as he sat back down and set Giannini's drink before him.


"Anything wrong?" Hartwig asked.


"No. Everything looks pretty straightforward. How did you find out about this Higgins fellow?" Giannini asked.


"A little birdie told me." Hartwig said. "No. We've been getting complaints about increased traffic out by that house, you know, the usual signs of dealing, people coming in and out, leaving their engines running, empty gram baggies on the sidewalk."


Hartwig hated to lie to his old friend, but it was in his best interests to keep his informant to himself. Chalmers was his cash cow.


Giannini signed the warrant and handed it back to Hartwig. Giannini had a quizzical look on his face.


"There's something about that name -- Higgins -- I can't place it. Heard it somewhere before. Is he from around here?" Giannini asked.


"No. He's a student. From somewhere in the suburbs. As far as I know, he's got no prior arrest record." Hartwig was going entirely on information provided by Chalmers. He hadn't looked up Higgins in the police data base. The computer in his office was out of order - had been for months - and Hartwig didn't like technology anyhow. Hartwig was slow to adapt to the Internet and most other conveniences of the 21st century.


"Well, I'll let you know if I find anything more about this Higgins." Giannini said, and took a long sip of his drink, draining it almost to the ice in two deep gulps. "Damn, that's good," he said.


Hartwig rocked and rose once again, breathing audibly through his nose as he buttoned his suit coat and organized the gun and badge in the jacket's pocket. He folded the warrant lengthwise and waved it at the judge.


"Thanks, as always, for your expedition in this matter." Hartwig said. "And thank Shirley, too. She's a crack typist. And a saint for putting up with your bull hockey all these years. Will you be back at chambers anytime today?"


Giannini finished his drink, sucking a couple ice cubes into his mouth. "Maybe," he said. "I'll give you a call, okay." He gave Hartwig a couple soft taps on the belly. "Take care of yourself, old friend. I'd like to get you out on the course sometime. A little fresh air and exercise could do us all some good."


Hartwig rolled his eyes. He didn't golf and had no intentions to start. "We'll see." He waved again before turning back to the club house. He wanted to get back to the office as soon as possible and hoped to catch Thibodeaux in person before he left.


The bust was on. Friday would be a good day. There would be a little action. The department would earn commendations. The university would applaud their safekeeping efforts. And a minor player would enter into the criminal justice system. All the pieces were in place.


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