Murder Me Tenderly
by Gary Clifton
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3, 4
By the time Jonic finished the night shift at the Rooster, ate his cold pizza, and slid into his sofa-bed, Susie stirred, but never woke up. He came to at eleven, confident Susie had been on the job since daybreak.
He drove to Geno’s address in his old GMC pickup. The massive house was on a corner. Susie was parked a block down. Jonic had rigged her van with two-way glass so they could sit in the rear and watch in any direction. The only relief from the heat was a small battery-powered fan. Bathed in sweat, Susie opened the rear door and Jonic slid in.
“Any activity?” he asked as he handed her the keys to the GMC.
She looked at her notebook. “She went out just before ten, worked out at a gym on Royal Lane, and drove straight back. You can see the back edge of her Mercedes in the driveway from here. Nothing further. Oh, the mailman knocked on her door about ten minutes ago. She didn’t answer.”
“Mail carrier? On foot?” He looked at the row of curbside mailboxes stretching down the block.
“Yeah, uniform, bag, and all. He walked away south on the sidewalk of that street that runs beside the house. Guy limped. Maybe got dog-bit. ”
Susie closed her notebook. “Gonna go home and grab a shower and nap. Too bad you can’t come along.” She smiled. “I’ll relieve you at five.”
As she drove away, Jonic grinned at the irony of a very attractive, intelligent young woman who came from a home with nine bathrooms calling a fold-out couch behind a storefront “home.”
* * *
Declining to sit in the suffocating rear of the vehicle, he settled into the driver’s seat and watched the house in his rear view mirrors.
In less than ten minutes, a mail carrier in full uniform passed him driving a marked postal delivery truck, stopping regularly to stuff mail into curbside mailboxes. Jonic glanced away to avoid eye contact.
The carrier slipped several pieces of mail into the Colbacci box before the situation struck like a speeding bus. If Susie had seen the mailman ten minutes earlier - on foot, who was this guy? Or, better yet, who was the first guy?
He bailed out of the van and trotted down the block to Megan and Geno’s house. A cold hand gripped his heart as his cop instinct jammed into high gear.
He’d simply knock on Geno’s door. Geno was usually home this time of day. If Megan answered, he’d say he was supposed to meet Geno. He knocked, rang the doorbell, then banged on the door. On tiptoe, he peered through the small glass in the front door.
Jonic had seen Megan wearing only the bandaid on many occasions, but never totally in the buff. She was lying on her back, naked. Her erect breasts passed the gravity test. The round bullet hole in her forehead in a widening pool of crimson was a hell of a problem. A sheer robe lay beside her.
The first mail carrier had to be a ringer. He could have walked down the side street, circled into the alley, and somehow gotten inside. He couldn’t be far away.
Jonic kicked in the front door, stepped over Megan’s body, and in a hurried search found no one. He bolted out the back door, through the back gate, and then south on the side street.
He saw his prey a block ahead of him. The fake mailman, burly and running with a noticeable limp, jumped into a green Dodge sedan and was gone. Jonic caught a brief flash of white on the man’s forehead, but the distance was too great to make any conclusion or to read the license.
Jonic walked back to Geno’s house and dialed Susie.
“Susie, Megan’s been shot and killed in the entryway. Cops are gonna suspect me because they’re too dumb to do otherwise. If the police show up, say nothing.”
* * *
A call to 9-1-1 brought several marked squad cars, followed twenty minutes later by two detectives from Homicide. During the wait, Jonic phoned Geno with the bad news.
Lieutenant Richard Durban, pudgy, forty, balding, leaned over Megan’s body. “Whooee, lookie at them knockers. Looks like you shot one I woulda held onto, Jonic.”
Durban, widely known as “the rat,” had been one of the investigating officers when Jonic had shot the two semi-armed robbers that had made him a civilian. “Looks like you’re caught in the trick box for sure this time, tough guy.”
The second detective, Charlie Rose, was late twenties, slender, with sandy hair combed straight back. Rose was a rising star in the DPD with a reputation for an ego which made him a legend in his own mind.
Durban said, “Gimme your piece, Jonic. You might as well tell us how and why you plugged this darlin’ and make it easy on yourself. Front door kicked in, lady across the alley says she saw you run out the back gate waving a pistol. Let’s have it.”
Jonic handed over his Glock pistol. “Mine’s a .40 caliber, Charlie. That hole in her forehead is a .22 at best.”
“A .22? You a ballistics man?”
“You gotta know a contract shooter tends to favor a .22. Less noise, and the little slug is a ballistics nightmare.”
Durban eyed Jonic. “Yeah, Jonic, we know the damned rules. Contract killing, huh?” He turned to Rose. “Get uniforms looking in trash cans and shrubs for a .22 he mighta dumped.”
Jonic heard the implication. “Dumped? Me or the mailman, Durban?”
A loud commotion out front announced Geno had arrived.
“I’m Genovese Colbacci, copper,” Geno spat at a young uniformed officer. “This is my damned house and this is my damned wife, and this nutball security guy I hired let somebody murder her.”
Jonic made eye contact. “Security, Geno?”
To the pair of Homicide cops, Jonic made his best explanation of the two mail carriers, one of whom limped badly before fleeing the scene in the green Dodge. He would have fared as well speaking Mandarin.
* * *
They hauled him to Homicide where, after five hours of very hostile interrogation, Durban knew he didn’t have enough to charge him.
Charlie Rose smiled. “Jonic, beat it. We got no case at this time, but I bet your boss, Geno Feet, might be able to handle this deal, and you too, all by hisself.” Rose walked Jonic to the door. “Look, dude,” he said softly, “I know you didn’t shoot that babe. I’ll stay in touch.”
Jonic walked a block up Lamar Street from DPD Headquarters and called Susie. She chugged up in the old GMC in twenty minutes.
“Had any contact from the cops?”
“No. You got arrested?” Her eyes were as wide as silver dollars.
“Naw, they have nothing on me, but they’re still trying.”
“Wanna go home?”
He squeezed his big frame into the pickup. “No, baby, I want to go to the Wiltshire Royale on Stemmons.”
“Motel? Are we gonna...?”
“No, I want see a man about a dog. Just drive.”
* * *
Copyright © 2016 by Gary Clifton