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Thursday, December 6, 2012

I can't believe it's Thursday already!!

                                                        Some more of God's beauty!!










Chapter Three ~

            Jude made the drive downtown in a snow storm so thick he couldn't see a foot in front of his car. He slowed to a virtual crawl, as did the rest of the traffic on this stormy night. He saw a few cars sitting off the edge of the road in obvious slide-offs, but didn't see any serious accidents. He'd straightened his back and was peering intently out the front windshield when a black Chevy pick-up came racing and swerving through the intersection and slammed into the side of his car. He started spinning round and round like the bottle in the children's game.

            "Oh Dear Lord, please see me through this." He prayed out loud as his stomach revolted, threatening to revisit him with his meal. His mouth was watering profusely and he swallowed several times in quick succession to keep his stomach acid where it belonged; in his stomach.

            He continued to spin a couple more times before finally coming to a stop as he tapped the brakes gently and turned the wheel of the car. He sat for a second before reaching down to undo his seat belt. He unsnapped it and got out on shaky legs to walk over to the Chevy truck sitting motionless, steam spewing from the hood.

            As he got close, a bullet flew by his head. He ducked and jerked out his gun, pointing it at the truck. He didn't see anyone so he pulled out his phone and called for back-up. When someone answered, he was confused because it sounded like Jackson. "Who is this? I was trying to call for back-up."

            "This is Jackson. What's going on?"

            "I was going through an intersection when this truck raced through and side-swiped me."

            "Give me your location, I'm on the way." Jackson ordered, ready to assist.

            "I'm on 6200 South and Redwood Rd. You better hurry man, there's someone coming for me!”

            "Can you see the license plate?"

            "It’s UR HOT.” Jude said staccato-style.

            Jackson laughed derisively. "Is he armed?"

            Jude tried to answer, but he heard a 'thwack' and a ‘thud,’ felt intense pain, and then nothing.

            When Jackson arrived at the scene Jude was sitting on the back of an ambulance, grousing he was okay and that he had to go after the perps. Jackson walked up, flashed his credentials, and said, "This is my case."

            "Man, you the Army, that don't make you the lead on any investigation in my book." A young-looking black police officer said snidely.

            "You didn't look closely enough, son. I'm Special Forces, and as I said, 'This is my case.'" He repeated authoritatively.

            Jackson flipped his ID again and the young cop gulped, "Sorry man, didn't know."

            "You know now."

            "Hey man, Thanks for your efforts last summer. We all appreciate what you did." The young officer said before he saluted and turned away.

            Jackson walked up to Jude and said, "Friend, I could hear you grumbling before I left my car. Are you okay?"

            "Yes, other than my bruised ego. That dude got the drop on me before I could even say boo.” He grimaced.  “I see you were having some trouble with the kid over there.”

            "It happens to the best of us, but don’t worry, we'll get him. And the kid didn’t want to let me in until he actually saw who I was. I guess saving the country from annihilation affords you a little leeway, huh? So what happened?” He gestured toward the pickup sitting in the intersection.
            "It came through the intersection and slammed into me. I got out of my car, a bullet flew past my head, I heard a couple thuds, and then it was 'lights out.' I don't know why he attacked me." He was still feeling inadequate, and ashamed he'd let someone get the drop on him so easily. He shrugged, trying to appear indifferent. He sees right through my act, he thought.

            "He probably had some warrants or something." Jackson concluded. "If the truck is registered to him we’ll find out who he is."

            "Maybe, but it's probably stolen. You wanna get me outta here so we can go downtown?"

            "I guess so, what with us being friends and all." Jackson grinned.

            "Let's get out of here before the reporters show-up." Jude told him. "All I need is for this to be on the nightly news."

            "You got it." Jackson got in the car and pulled it into drive. As soon as Jude pulled his right leg in on the passenger side he moved away from the curb and sped off toward the interstate. They had an interviewee downtown.

            They arrived at the precinct forty minutes and four inches of snow later. It was still pouring like crazy and visibility was pretty much non-existent. Jackson was a good driver and hadn't caused Jude much undue stress. He was glad he'd been able to grab a ride with him because they'd had to tow his car.

            "Wow, what a relief to be outta that mess." Jude got out of the car and stretched his long legs.

            "I know right? That's the worst I've seen it so far this year."

They walked into the yellow brick building and rode up to the fifth floor.

            Bart Arsov was sitting in an interview room with a hateful look on his face. As soon as they entered the room the man started complaining. "You just couldn't wait until tomorrow, could you? My daughter's piano recital is tonight and I'm missing it!" His voice rose with each word until he was practically screaming in frustration and anger. "You people are ridiculous!"

            "Mr. Arsov, need I remind you two very nice people lost their lives this morning? We just want to ask you a few questions and then you can go." Jude said.

            "What do you want to know? Do you wanna know where I was this morning when those murders took place? I was in court you numb-skulls!" He yelled again. "All you lame-brains had to do was check the court schedule. You could've just called my office." A vein in his neck stood out, blue and bulbous, and looked very close to popping.

            "What do you do for a living, Mr. Arsov?" Jude asked.

            "You mean you didn't check that out before hauling me down here in front of my kid and embarrassing me in front of my neighbors?" He screeched.

            "Just answer the question wise guy, or we'll hold you overnight for obstruction." Jackson threatened.

            "I know my rights you silly, pompous men, I'm an attorney!" He shouted at Jack.

            That got their attention. Jackson asked, "You're joking, right?"

            "He better be." Jude said.

            "What kind of lawyer are you. Mr. Arsov?" Jude asked.

            "I'm a litigation lawyer. You know, we need lawyers too."

            "We still have to question you Mr. Arsov." Jackson said. "According to people we've talked to you made some threats to Mr. Sanders."

            "I said those things in the heat of anger. It was just talk, nothing more." He replied in a truthful-sounding tone. That didn't rectify that he'd said them though, and there would have to be an investigation.

            "Exactly how much did your wife get in the divorce?" Jack asked as he took his little blue-backed notebook out and poised his pen over it.

            "She got twenty-eight million dollars, two mansions and four bank accounts. Does that answer your question?" He asked snidely. "To make matters even worse, she got the kids, too."

Jude thought he sounded like a petulant child, but he couldn’t blame him for feeling resentful. He would, too. "Wow, that's some serious loss there man, I'm sorry."

            "Thank you, and yes it is. It took me thirty years to amass that kind of fortune and in one day she took it all away. It didn't matter that I told that weasel of a lawyer of hers she cheated on me and planned to spend my money on her boyfriend. He went right ahead and roasted me, anyway." There were tears in Bart Arsov’s eyes, and Jude could hear them in his voice. He’s not our guy. But who is?

            Jude stood up and Jackson followed suit. "Mr. Arsov, thank you for coming down tonight, I'm sorry for the inconvenience." He extended his right hand to the man in apology.

            Mr. Arsov took it and shook it firmly. He said, "I guess it’s okay. I truly am sorry for the family's loss, even though I didn't like the guy." He sniffed as he walked out of the room, his shoulders hunched.

            "Well, now what? That was the only suspect we had. "Jude said irritably.

            "I say we call it a night. You can go home and try to piece some more clues together while I go and snuggle with my bride." Jackson gave him a slap on the back. "Do you need a ride home?"

            "No, I'll have Lauren drop me off. Thanks for coming to my rescue. You truly are a good friend."

            "I am, aren't I?" Jackson saluted and walked out the door.

            Jude laughed. Jackson Masters was a character, and a good friend.  He thanked God for sending him to him, and walked to the elevators. He went down to the first floor where the locker rooms were. He figured that's where he'd find Lauren, and he was right. She was just coming out of the female locker rooms. He was glad because that kept him from having to send a woman in to get her. He asked, "Can I get a lift? My car got side-swiped and had to be towed."

            "Oh no, are you okay?" She rushed up to him and did a cursory inspection.

            "I'm fine, just a bruised ego." He smiled tightly.

            "Do you think it was on purpose?"

            "At first I didn't, but the guy shot at me, and then hit me in the head with a bat."

            "Why am I just now hearing about this? Didn't you call it in?" She asked angrily.

            "Well, I was trying to call for back-up, but I accidently hit redial and called my friend Jackson instead. He came to assist me, but by the time he got there the guy was already gone." He finished the explanation with a frown. What’s up with her?

            "That's odd, don't you think? Why would anybody want to hurt you? Everybody loves you." Lauren told him a tad bit resentfully.

            "It is odd, really. I mean, what's not to like about me?" Jude asked, flipping his eyelashes and smiling.

            Lauren reached over and punched him in the arm. "You're a jerk." She stalked off ahead of him. When she reached the double glass doors she turned and huffed, "Are you coming?"

            He laughed and followed her out the door. He loved his partner, but not in a romantic kind of way. He loved to tease her and get her riled up. She'll make some man a great wife someday.

            "So did you get anywhere on that double homicide this morning?" Lauren asked as she slid into the driver's seat of her little economy car.

            "No, we came up empty. We had a person of interest, but it turned out to be a dud. The guy couldn't hurt a fly, and even if he could, it would've been his wife, not her lawyer."

            "You shouldn't be upset that an innocent man won't be charged for such a horrendous murder.”

            "I know, I didn't mean it to sound that way, sorry. I’m just upset because we're back at square one."

            "I understand, but you need to be careful how you say things. Some people aren't as understanding as me." She started the car and pulled away from the curb.

The snow had stopped for now, but still lay heavy in the clouds. The roads were slick and traitorous, but Lauren got him home safely.

            She let him out in front of his house and said, "I'll stop and pick you up in the morning about seven."

"Thanks partner, I owe you one." He didn't notice the man standing in the shadows watching him as he got out of the car.

"No, we're even because of this morning." Lauren reminded him.

"Oh yeah, that's right. I'll see you in the morning then."

"Good night Jude, don't let the bed bugs bite."

            Jude walked into his unit and turned on the hall light just inside the door. He knew immediately someone had been inside. There wasn't anything standing out that had been moved, he could just tell. He slid his gun out and wall-walked through his whole house, but whoever had been there was gone now.

       Jude relaxed and headed to the bedroom. He grabbed his vitamins off the bathroom shelf, took two out of the bottle and swallowed them without water. Maybe he was just being paranoid.

 He put his gun away and slid down onto the side of his king size bed and began to unbutton his shirt. A piece of paper on his nightstand caught his attention. He leaned over and picked it up. In big magazine cut-out letters it read, 'She's next JJ, catch me if you can.' Jude's heart thumped loudly in his chest. He picked up the phone beside his bed and called Jackson. "He was here, Jack."

            "Who was there?" Jackson asked with a muffled voice.

            "The killer was. There was a note on my bedside table. It says, 'She's next JJ, catch me if you can."

            "Do you know what this means? He knows you."

            "Yes, I gathered that. Nobody’s called me JJ since high school. It was the nickname the football coach gave me my first season out."

            "This case just took on a more sinister air." Jackson said. "Make sure your doors are locked. I'm coming over to get you." The line went dead and Jude re-buttoned his shirt in an almost trance-like state before slipping his shoes back on. He packed a bag and went in the living room to wait for Jackson.

 




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