Recipe for Death is an adaptation of Police Quest: Open Season story published in the Police Quest Casebook.

Recipe for Death Edit

John Carey steered his way through the darkening streets of South Central Los Angeles. He was looking for a side street, just about to call in for a 10-20 when he spotted the flashing lights of two cruisers, two blocks on the left. In a minute he had found the alley. He swung his car between two charred shells, remnants of the L.A. riots.

Stepping from the car, Carey nodded to the two uniforms and let himself under the yellow police barrier. Sam Nobles, the deputy coroner, was already there.

"Got an ID?" Carey asked, moving toward the body. When he got close, he realized he question wasn't necessary. "Christ," he said. "Hickman."

Nobles looked up from notebook. "You want the details?"

Carey squatted next to the body. He and Bob Hickman had gone to the Academy together. They were partners for a while. Lately, Hickman's wife had been pressuring Bob to get off the street, to take a safer position. But Hickman was a born detective, and he wasn't going to leave the street for a desk job. Looks like she got her wish. He'd be off the street now. In the ground, but off the street. "Mutilation," Nobles continued. "Contusions and multiple burn marks. This was no drive by. They took their sweet time." "Did it happen here?" Carey asked.

"Haven't made that determination yet," Nobles said. "I'm hoping that you'll find something to help me there. Right now I'll take what I have back to the lab, see what it says." Carey nodded and turned back to Hickman. The dead detective's holster was empty. Carey sighed and stood up. His eyes were drawn to the lighted sign above the street-Lucky Mini-Mart. Some luck, he thought. All bad. While he waited for SID and the crime scene unit to arrive, he thought he'd try his own luck with the passers-by gathered at the end of the alley, beyond the yellow police line tape. One middle-age black man tottered slightly near the red fence that bordered the alley. Might as well start with him, before he falls down and forgets everything he saw, Carey thought. "Hello Woodbury," Carey said to the patrolman who was trying hard to keep the drunk from sinking into the ground. "Evening, detective," Woodbury replied. "You might have a witness here, although I suspect that everything he saw might be a little blurry." Woodbury gave a slight kick to an empty bottle at his feet. Carey looked down. Mad Dog 20-20. Fortified wine, to use the term loosely, created and sold for a single compelling reason. A cheap drunk. Not a pretty one, but a cheap one. "Say, you got bit by a little of the mad dog?" Carey asked the drunk. "Well, did you see anything here?" "I did hear some gunshots," the drunk muttered. "I'm sure that's an unusual occurrence in this neighborhood," Woodbury replied. Carey shot him a look and he shut up. "They was just shots, man," the drunk muttered. Carey made a few notes. "Give your name and address to the officer here, in case we have to speak with you again," he said. "What's that over there, Woodbury?" "Just graffiti, detective. Walls are full of it around here. Crips, Bloods. Hell, I don't know." Carey walked closer and made a note of the letters spelled out in red spray paint against the dirty gray cinder block-RBGB. Then he turned to the second uniformed officer, Malcolm Allen. "Bad night, Allen." "Yes, detective, that's a fact." Carey liked Allen. He had taught the young patrolman in an evidence procedures class at the Academy three years ago. Allen was smart, and he didn't talk much. Carey could tell, even in a classroom situation, that the young man was always thinking, always puzzling out new angles to take on the questions posed to the class. "You have the crime log?" "Woodbury's got it," Allen replied. Carey nodded. "I thought I saw someone here next to you when I drove up," he said. "Just a curiosity seeker. Woman about 30," Allen said. Carey nodded. "Did you get her name?" "No," Allen replied. "I don't think she was involved-a witness, I mean." That didn't seem like Allen. Carey was sure that the officer would have taken a report, for no other reason than just to make sure his butt was covered. "You all right?" Carey asked. "It's ugly," Allen said. "What they did. To Hickman." "Yeah," Carey said. "It's bad. Kind of makes you want to change your mind." "About what, detective?" "About being a cop." Allen stood up a little straighter and put his hands on his belt. "What I want to change doesn't have anything to do with being a cop." "Glad to hear it," Carey said. "Next time you have a potential witness in front of you, get her name." He walked back to Woodbury and retrieved the crime log. A young black man leaned against the fence, obviously interested in the scene in the alley. "Did you see anything here?" he asked. The young man said that he hadn't. He gave his name as Raymond Jones. Carey wrote it down. "The Third," Jones said. "Make sure you write that. Raymond Jones Ill. You arresting me?" he asked. "No," Carey said. "Should I?" Jones shrugged. "What you do, man, ain't it? Arrest the brother 'cause there's a dead cop. A dead white cop." "Not how it works, son," Carey said. Jones barked a derisive laugh. "Yeah, tell me how it works, man." Carey's reply was interrupted by a uniformed woman who stepped under the police tape with a camera. "Julie Chester," she said by way of introduction. "SID." "John Carey, Chester. I need some shots of the alley. I want a shot of that graffiti. Then talk to me before you shoot the body." "You got it, detective." As Chester began her shoot, Carey mulled over what he knew of Hickman's recent assignments. Though close friends throughout the Academy and in their first few years on the force, the two hadn't seen much of each other in the last few months. Carey had been caught up in the daily grind of homicide, while Hickman's undercover work had made him almost invisible to his friends. Chester moved to where Hickman's body lay in the alley. Carey joined her. "There's a cigarette next to the body. Make sure to bag it for evidence," he said. Chester looked at him quizzically.

"Hickman didn't smoke," Carey explained. While Chester worked, Carey returned to his own thoughts. It wasn't good police work, didn't make sense-Hickman coming by himself to South Central at night. Who else knew about his meeting? If there was a meeting, he reminded himself. Think through the system, Carey told himself. Don't start with the conclusion until you know the answers. "Anything else, detective?" Chester asked. Carey shook his head no. "OK, Nobles," she called. "Bag it and tag it." Carey hated that kind of talk. Made it sound like they were all on stage or something. A dead cop would surely make the news, but that didn't make his murder into a TV show. He sighed. The whole world was turning MTV. He returned to his car. Now the real work started.

Death Don't Have No MercyEdit

Carey knew all he needed to know about Lieutenant Donald Block. The man had 16 years experience as a detective, in robbery, vice and, for the last six years, homicide. He was tough and thorough. And he backed his detectives all the way-loyalty was very important to him. But the man didn't like loose ends. He didn't like it when cops got killed. He didn't like it when the department made the news, unless it had to do with catching a bad guy. And, despite his last name, he didn't like doing his taxes, either. John Carey pulled up a chair across from Block's desk. He hadn't had much sleep. Most of the night he had been with Katherine, Hickman's wife, trying to offer what little comfort he could. Sometimes he hated this job. But never as much as he hated the criminals who thought they ruled the streets. There was never a shortage of bad guys. "I'm going to need you on this case," Block was saying. "Normally, I would think twice before assigning it to you, knowing how close you and Hickman were." "You couldn't take me off this case unless you killed me," Carey said. "Let's hope that isn't necessary," Block replied. "But I can tell you, I'll pull you off if you handle this in anything less than the most professional manner. This is a high-profile case. The media is going to be on this like ugly on an ape. And the Chief isn't going to be mildly disinterested, either. Not to mention the mayor and the whole damn city council." "I get the picture," Carey said. "Good. Keep it in focus at all times. I want you to start with the neighborhood where Hickman was found. I want every rock, every brick checked out. I want every potential witness interviewed." Carey nodded. "Before I let you go," Block said. "Let me ask you something. Did you notice anything different about Hickman's behavior in the last few weeks? Talk around the halls is that he was having trouble at home." "I hadn't noticed anything out of the ordinary," Carey replied. "Katherine wanted him off the streets." "Same old story," Block said. "Undercover operations can raise hell with family life. The stress can be too much-for any cop." Carey nodded and stood up from his chair. "Get started," Block ordered. "You've got a cop killer to catch. And I want to be fully informed-do you understand that detective?" Carey said he did. He stepped out of Block's office into the din of the detective's bullpen. The room was completely open-no cubicles or pods for officers to call their own. Three lines of standard metal desks divided the room into rows, across which detectives could share information or form loosely into groups for discussing leads and cases. It was the brain stem of the Major Crimes, Homicide division. Hal Bottoms, Carey's partner, looked up from a stack of papers on his desk as Carey drew near. "You and Block have some special deal going I should know about?" he asked. "Just discussing the Hickman case," Carey said. "Might be a good idea to include your partner in on those discussions, Carey." Carey ignored the remark. He didn't have anything personal against Bottoms. Just the fact that he worked like a systems analyst rather than a detective. Carey put it down to a generational thing. Bottoms was a new breed of cop, raised on computers and green-striped printouts. He used words like "download" and phrases like "integrate into the system" and "noise in the channel." Carey knew how important information was to solving cases-getting it, using it-but there was more to detective work than gathering information out of computers. You had to know how to get the story out of the people who knew it, and how to build a story out of the evidence gathered at the scene of a crime. And you had to know how to project the information you had against what you knew about the people involved. Carey opened the top left drawer of his desk and pulled out an old photo. It had been taken at the Academy, just before he and Hickman graduated. Carey smiled. We both looked a lot younger then, he thought. He tossed the picture back into the drawer and picked up his telephone. What Block had said about Hickman's problems bothered him. It didn't sound like Bob to let the street get to him like that. He punched out the extension to Hickman's undercover unit. "Crash. Varaz here." "Detective Varaz. This is John Carey in Major Crimes, Homicide." "Carey. Yeah, how's it going? You working the Hickman case?" "Right. What can you tell me about what Bob was working on lately?" "Look, Carey, I want to help, but I can't comment on that."

"You'd better find a way to say something," Carey said icily. "I need a report on what Hickman was doing in the last few weeks. And I need it 10 minutes ago." There was a brief silence on the other end. "You have your lieutenant call me, Carey. Right now, I'm out the door." Carey didn't wait to hear the excuses. He set the receiver down firmly and pulled a 3 .14 report form from his desk drawer. This was the standard form used by investigators. He filled it out using his own notes and the crime scene log Woodbury had given him the night before. "You can add this to the case file," Carey said, handing the form to Bottoms. "I think sometimes the only reason you took me as a partner is because I do the paperwork so well," Bottoms grumbled. "We all have our strengths, Hal." Carey grabbed his suit jacket from the back of his chair and headed out of the office. "I'll catch up to you later. Got a couple of things I need to check on. I'd like you to run that information through the computer and see if it gets us anywhere." "I'm way ahead of you," Hal said, inserting the 3.14 into the Hickman murder book. The elevator opened onto the ground floor. Carey nodded at the desk sergeant and pushed his way through the darkened glass doors and into the bright light of an LA morning. Immediately, he wished he was back inside. Kristy Bilden, the popular crime reporter with KKAT, was all over him, microphone in his face. "Detective Carey, what can you tell our viewers about the murder of officer Bob Hickman?" "I can't comment on that right now," Carey said. "The investigation is proceeding according to normal procedures." "There are reports that Hickman's death is gang related." "I can't confirm or deny that, Ms. Bilden." "Other reports state that Hickman was tortured and mutilated," Bilden continued. Carey smiled. "I don't know where you get your information, Ms. Bilden, but I am not prepared to comment on the Hickman case at this time. As the investigation continues, the LAPD will release a statement about the progress of the case." "Is there a special bulletin for South Central?" Bilden pursued. "Have any gangs taken responsibility for the slaying? Sources say that Hickman was not on duty at the time of the slaying, although he was assigned to that sector." Carey felt his smile freeze into a grimace. "A detective is always on duty, Ms. Bilden. Just like a reporter. Now if you'll excuse me ... " Bilden stepped in front of him but Carey pushed away slightly and was able to get by and out of the camera shot. She complained loudly but to no effect. In a few minutes Carey was in his car and headed northeast toward the morgue. Fifteen minutes after leaving the ramp and moving through traffic, Carey swung into the county morgue's parking lot. Inside the front entrance, he showed the receptionist his badge and asked for Sam Nobles. She gave a quick look up from her nails, which she was polishing to a fine buff shine. "Down the hall, turn right," she said. Carey had never told anybody, because he thought it made him sound weird, but he liked the inside of the morgue. He smiled a little inside-what would the police shrinks make of that? A homicide cop who likes the morgue. But it was true. It was quiet, clean. Like a church, but without redemption. No souls got saved here. The morgue was the refuge of last resort, a way station on the way to wherever the next stage took place. As Carey entered the outer office of the autopsy theater, Russel Marks, Nobles' assistant, pegged him for a few especially tasteless jokes. Carey wasn't listening. But he managed half a grin and that seemed to satisfy the young man's craving for attention. "Where's Nobles?" Marks jerked his thumb in the direction off his left shoulder. "Go right in, detective. He's expecting you." When he caught his first look at Bob Hickman laid out on the slab in front of Nobles, Carey had second thoughts about liking the morgue. Nobles nodded as Carey entered. "Sam, tell me something I don't already know." "The autopsy isn't quite complete yet, John," Nobles replied. He spoke quickly into a small microphone suspended above the body. Carey couldn't understand all of the medical terminology, but he didn't have to. He had Hickman's body to look at. "But what do you have so far?" Carey persisted. "Lieutenant Block is really on my tail about this one." Nobles looked up from the incision he had made in Hickman's abdomen. He said something else into the microphone, then took a couple of steps back from the table and pulled down his mask. "All right," he said. "But this is all preliminary. Don't hold me to it." "First," Nobles started, "I think we have a poisoning on our hands." Carey stopped scribbling in his notebook and looked up. "Probably to keep him under control while they tortured him. Look here." Nobles pointed to two small injection marks on Hickman's forearm. "Looks like an 18-gauge needle. Not something you'd get from an insulin kit. More like a hospital or a blood bank." "Or a lab?" Carey asked. Nobles nodded. "The burn marks~an you tell what made them?" Carey asked. "Some animal from hell," Nobles replied. "You can see here these marks around the ankles, where the rope tore into the skin during his struggle," he said, lifting the sheet slightly. "Same thing on the wrists. We've recovered fibers from both those points. SID is running a match, see if we can establish the type of rope used, maybe even a manufacturer." "Look at the eyes," Nobles continued. "The killer glued them shut. Lots of trauma around there," he said, pointing to discoloration at the outside of both eyes. "That again would indicate the victim struggled violently against his bonds. And here on the lips. I had to cut the mouth open with a scalpel. Again, glued shut." "Lovely," Carey said. "You have a match on the glue? Do you know what kind it was?" "SID is running the tests," Nobles replied. "But I can tell you one thing for sure," he said. "Hickman didn't die in that alley. You can tell, by the discoloration on the buttocks and on the shoulders, that the blood had a chance to settle in two places." "And that means two locations," Carey said, writing in his notebook. "What about the finger, Sam?" "Ah, yes, the mysterious missing finger. Well, cutting it off didn't kill him. In fact, he didn't even feel it. There's no evidence of blood emanating from the wound, so I'd have to conclude that the killer cut it off after Hickman was dead. Going to make it tough for Hickman to finger the suspect from the grave." "Christ almighty," Carey said. "Is it the formaldehyde you guys breathe all day that makes you think that way? It's even rubbing off on your assistant out there." Nobles wasn't listening. "I don't think the torture killed him, poor bastard. I believe it was the poison that finally did the job," he said. "You going back to the crime scene today?" he asked, changing the subject. Carey said that he was, after making a couple of other stops. "Why?" he asked. "Forget something?" "No," Nobles said. "Found something. Just after you left." He moved to the wall of storage lockers and pulled one out. "How old do you think this one is?" he asked. Carey looked down onto the face of a young boy. Very young. And very, very dead. He guessed his age between six and nine. He didn't need Sam Nobles to identify several gunshot wounds as the cause of death. "God, Nobles, where did you find him?" "After you left, Chester was poking around inside the dumpster at the back of the convenience store that backs up to the alley. He was inside." "Do you have anything on him?" Carey asked. "The owner of the mini-mart identified him as Bobby Washington. Neighborhood kid. I counted 10 entry wounds. The kid is carrying more lead than a number 2 pencil. I extracted three slugs. SID is running ballistics. Looked like 9mm." Carey breathed out loudly. The 9mm handgun was a popular choice among several of the gangs. But what kind of creature would shoot a little kid almost 20 times? "Has anyone come down to claim the body?" Nobles shook his head. "Mother's first name is Bernadette. A couple of uniforms stopped at her house earlier, but they called me this morning and said she was too upset to come down." "You have an address?" "It's on the envelope. Personal effects. It's on the desk up front, along with an envelope containing Hickman's personal effects. I was hoping that you'd take it to South Central to his mother ... ask her to come down and make the official ID." Carey sighed. "All right, Sam. I'll drop in on Mrs. Washington. Be in the neighborhood anyway." "Thanks, Carey." Nobles closed the storage drawer and moved back to Hickman's body. Carey left him to his work. At the front desk, he picked up the two manila envelopes stamped with the official LA County Seal. They hardly weighed a thing. Funny how a person's whole life could be wrapped up in a single 10-by-14 envelope with a string tie.

No Rest for the WearyEdit

Sometimes his life felt like a long list of victims. Too much death. Too many left behind, grieving. Carey swung his car onto Lincoln Boulevard. Although SID had already secured the area, he hoped that returning to the alley where Hickman's body was discovered might set some thought process in motion. He didn't let himself think about his pending conversation with Bernadette Washington. It rankled him that Hickman could be killed in such a leisurely fashion. Carey always thought of a cop's death as sudden, explosive, unexpected. Not bound and gagged and tortured, then dumped like so much refuse. Hickman had been an experienced cop. He should have been able to take care of himself, Carey thought. But a kid. That's different. He drove past streets of burned rubble. There had been a lot of talk about rebuilding in the aftermath of the violent orgy that had tom the city-or at least the poorest sections of it-apart, but nothing came of it. Too little money, too many hands out. After working homicide and visiting this side of the city too many times, Carey saw it as a place without hope. Just the place to begin an investigation into a cop's murder. He pulled up at the mouth of the alley. In the daylight it looked even worse than at night, if that were possible. The sun lit up the squalor without hesitation. Carey noted the dumpster where Nobles had found Bobby Washington's body. He walked over to take a closer look but saw that someone had locked it down with a heavy padlock. Carey returned to his car and pulled his briefcase off the front seat. He withdrew one of the envelopes he had picked up at the medical examiner's office. The street address listed was just around the comer. Carey locked up, then started down the street. The house wasn't hard to find. It was a ramshackle shotgun affair, not any different than the other row houses that lined the street. What set it apart was the black woman on the steps leading up to the front porch. Her mournful eyes were full of waiting. When she saw Carey she knew what was coming and she let her face fall into her hands, her body wracked by sobs. Carey hesitated only briefly at the sidewalk, then stepped up and showed his badge. After identifying himself, he handed over the envelope containing the dead boy's personal belongings. It was paper thin. The kid was only 7 or 8. He hadn't had time to collect much. "Mrs. Washington ... " Carey began. She cut him off. "What good you going to do me coming here. Police already come by. They don't care. They ain't gonna find who did this to my little Bobby." "If I can find who did it, Mrs. Washington, I will make them pay," Carey responded. It sounded as phony as he felt. Mrs. Washington nodded. She didn't embarrass him any further by asking how exactly he planned on doing that. Carey didn't want to ask, but he had no choice. A little kid like Bobby Washington didn't catch 10 slugs for making MVP on the YMCA Midget Basketball squad. Either he was mixed up in something bad or he stepped into a crossfire of a gang war. "Was your son involved in anything bad? Was he carrying rock for anybody? Was he mixed up in any of the gangs?" Mrs. Washington shook her head. "He was a good boy," she said. "Never was mixed up in that." Carey made a note in his book. Mothers always said that. When your baby is shot full of holes and thrown in a dumpster, or hit with automatic fire standing in front of a friend's house, or cut for the shoes he wears-well, a mother had to believe in something in a place where believing in anything was a luxury. Was he supposed to argue? He didn't think so. Let the woman keep the idea of a mother in her heart. It was little enough to hold in this world. "All right, Mrs. Washington," Carey said. He handed her a card with his phone number on it. "If you think of anything that might help us, I'd like you to call me. I'll be back in touch soon to let you know how we're making out." When she didn't respond, Carey closed his notebook and moved away. He walked the few streets in a circle around the alley. Not much happening. The major difference here from the rest of the city was the large number of men, hanging out on street corners, without work or hope. Confident that he had had all the cheering he could possible stand, Carey headed back toward his car, returning through the alley from the side opposite the end where Hickman's body had been dumped. As he settled himself behind the wheel, he made a mental note to stop by SID first thing. The lab work should be done by now. Just as he turned the key, his radio came on. He picked up the mike and responded with his call number. Dispatch patched through Bottoms. "Got something for you," Bottoms said. "You headed back this way?" Carey accelerated away from the curb. "Even as we speak," he said. SID would have to wait. Back at Parker Center, Carey took the elevator to the third floor and walked briskly to the detective's bullpen. "Carey," Bottoms called. He waved Carey over to his desk. "Been banging the computer all morning. But it paid off. I think you'll find it interesting." "Forget interesting," Carey said. "Is it useful?" "Decide for yourself," Bottoms replied. He led Carey over to the computer terminal that rested at the end of the room. "I thought I had seen this graffiti symbol somewhere before," Bottoms explained. "Last month I was prowling through the new image data bank-" "That techno-weenie stuff means nothing to me," Carey said. "Just show me what you've got." Bottoms frowned. He always like to lead up to his electronic discoveries with a bit of show and tell. Detectives like Carey, they were happy to use the information that computer-literate rookies pulled from the computer, but they didn't have any sense of how to get it for themselves. Guys like Carey couldn't dial a toll-free call if their lives depended on it. He restrained his scorn and tapped in his password to open the system. "Information Services put together this image bank over the last year and a half," Bottoms said. "You really ought to keep up with this, it might help you make a bust someday," he said, unable to resist a little bit of scolding. Bottoms tapped out a few more keys and entered the computer system's image bank. Carey saw over his partner's shoulder a breakdown of categories. Bottoms opened up the Gangs folder and moved to a display of gang graffiti."Incredible," Carey whispered. He was looking at a picture of the initials painted at the scenes of Hickman's murder. "I'll be damned," Carey said. "RBGB. Rude Boys Get Bail." "Says that South Central is their turf," Bottoms said. "Put them in the right neighborhood." He paged to the next screen. "Look at this," he said. "Torture and mutilation are way up on their hit parade of trivial pursuits. International connections. Gun running." "Used to be the Welcome Wagon would come calling when you moved into a new neighborhood," Carey said. "You have any information on the leadership?" "Top guy uses the name Ragtop Spiff," Bottoms said. He tapped a few more keys. "We can access his rap sheet from here, using the known alias. There you go." "Damn," Carey whispered. "That guy was at the scene last night. Gave a name of Raymond Jones III." "Seems to be legit. He was booked under that name 17 months ago. Carrying a concealed weapon-9mm Smith & Wesson." Bottoms paged to the next screen. "He stays cool, that's for sure. Suspected in several murders and disappearances related to gang activity since his release five months ago, but nothing solid." "Get your jacket, Bottoms. This is where virtual reality stops and the real world begins." Bottoms placed an electronic bookmark in the file and logged out of the system. "Where we headed?" he asked, pulling his suit coat from the back of his chair. "Back to South Central," Carey said. "You're getting to be a regular native down there," Bottoms said. "Maybe you should take an apartment." What I should take is a vacation, Carey thought. But there would be no rest any time soon. Not with a cop killer on the street.

Psycho KillerEdit

"There he is," Bottoms said excitedly, pointing out the passenger window toward a young black man cradling the receiver of a pay phone between his shoulder and chin. "Wearing RBGB colors." He glanced at the crime book in his lap. "We're not three blocks away from where Hickman was found." "Let's take him," Carey replied, pulling to the curb. Bottoms reached for the radio but Carey stopped him. "Don't you want backup?" he asked. "Just a nice friendly chat," Carey replied. "With my new friend-Raymond Jones." "Whatever you say." The two cops let themselves out of the car and walked toward the pay phone. The young man had his back to them and did not notice their approach. When they got close, Carey motioned for Bottoms to drop back a few steps. His partner stopped and leaned against the fender of an '88 Firebird parked in front of the Rainbow Cafe. Carey moved up alongside the pay phone and showed his badge. "Chill, man. Making the call here," the young man replied to the flash of gold. Carey put his finger on the receiver hook. "Wrap it up. I want to talk to you." Jones ignored him and turned his back. Carey pushed the receiver hook down with his finger. Jones tried to swing around, but Carey stopped the move by grabbing him by the left wrist and forcing his arm up between his shoulder blades. "Calm down, son," Carey said. "This is just a pleasant conversation." "OK, OK, man, let go me man-you goin' to bust my arm." Carey released his grip. The young man turned to face him, rubbing his right arm with his left hand. "Looks like we meet again, Mr. Jones." "Yo, I don't know you, cop. I know you crazy. I know that for a fact. And I don't have to talk with you. You ain't gonna arrest me, get out of my face." "True, you don't have to talk with me. But you will." "Yeah? Why will I do that? I got plenty of friends to talk to. Don't need to talk to no cop." "Because if you don't I'll tell your gang buddies that you did anyway. And I'll tell some of the other gangs looking at this turf that me and RBGB had a nice long, interesting chat about the neighborhood." "You jive, man, my homeboys ain't gain' ... " "Let's talk about Bobby Washington. Or maybe about a dead cop. I think your friends would be interested to know how you told all about how RBGB was in on that." Carey paused to let it sink in. "What do you think, Hal? Think they'd be interested?" "Interested," Bottoms echoed. "Most definitely." Jones cursed under his breath. "All right, you the man." He started down the street past Carey. "Not that way, junior." Carey took the subject by the arm and steered him in the opposite direction. "Down this way about four blocks or so." Jones accompanied the two detectives down the street, walking silently and sullenly between them. In a few minutes they reached the alley where Hickman's body had been discovered. Carey was getting familiar with the layout. It felt like a second home. "Look what we have here," Carey said, directing the young man into the alley. "Looks like you and your compatriots have been decorating the neighborhood. Want to tell me about it?" "This is what you roustin' me for? You want to ask me about some dumbass graffiti? What's the matter-they got you working the clean city detail?" Spiff giggled. "I was out here last night," Carey said quietly, "and this paint was fresh. Still wet. Found something else, too." "I can guess," the young man countered. "You musta found some litter. You want to bust me for litterin'. Oh, man, I guess I better confess right here. You gonna bust me for litterin'. Maybe for loiterin'." "Maybe for murder," Carey said. "You and you ass," the young man said. "You mean that cop that got wasted last night? Nothing to do with me and my people. We don't need-" "Tell me about Bobby Washington," Carey said quietly. "Tell me about how a little kid like that ends up full of bullets. And after you tell me, maybe you'd like to go down the street with me and tell his mother." "'Hood is a dangerous place, man. Bad place to grow up in. Bad place to live. Bad place to die."

"You got that right," Carey replied. "You better be clean on this, Jones. Clean like your momma's kitchen. Because I am all over it. And that means I am all over you." Jones shook himself off and smoothed his jacket. "Save it for the TV, Five-0. The illustrious LAPD ain't going to worry about some little black boy got found in the alley. This city is full of little black kids dead in the streets. You ain't going to worry about one more." "This one I am," Carey said. "I'm taking it personally. I'm on a mission." "Mission impossible." Jones sniffed. "You through here? If you are, you best be letting me go. Else you can take me down and we'll sit around and wait for my lawyer." These gang kids had all the answers, Carey thought. All but one. The magic formula for getting off of the streets. For most of them, there were only two ways-prison or the morgue. "Go on, get out of here. Remember what I said." "Oh, yeah. I'll remember that. And I'll remember you. No problem with that." The two detectives watched him turn the corner out of the alley. "Maybe we should have been tougher with him," Bottoms said. "Wouldn't do us any good at this point," Carey replied. "I just wanted to adjust the heat a little bit. When the heat goes up, so does the pressure. And when the pressure is on, that's when you find the leak." Bottoms nodded and the two detectives stepped out of the alley and started back to their car. Jones was about thirty feet in front of them. The sound came from Carey's left and a little behind, but it came so quick he barely had time to register it before the sound of a shot drowned it out and the smash of a bullet into the concrete wall threw a spray of plaster and dust onto his shoes. Instinctively, Carey pushed forward and shoved Bottoms toward the ground. The second shot went wide, but the third hit Bottoms square in the back of the right shoulder. He dropped with a groan. Carey managed to get him behind the cover of the car. Looking up, he saw Jones sprinting for the comer, but too late. Another shot and Jones' head jerked as if pulled by a rope. His body dropped like a sack of stones. Carey had his gun out, for all the good it would do him. Carefully, he reached up and forward and managed to get the car door open. A fourth shot careened off the windshield as he pushed inside the car and pulled the radio mike free. "Unit Able Tony Copper 34. Officer down. Repeat. Officer down." Dispatch immediately piped the call through the network to all available units. Carey gave them a quick rundown of the situation and his location. It seemed like hours, but in a few minutes Carey could hear oncoming sirens. It sounded like the entire LAPD was converging on this one comer of the city. "LAPD!" The shout came from Carey's right. He looked up to see a man dressed in a cook's apron standing toward the other end of the street. The cook reached beneath his apron and pulled out a badge. Carey held up his hand. "Fire coming from the building at the end of the alley," he shouted. "We've got an officer down." The cook signaled that he understood, then indicated that Carey should give him covering fire while he made his way toward the car. Carey nodded. A quick glance at Bottoms reassured him that the officer's wound wasn't as serious as he had first feared. "Hal, hang in there. Help is on the way." Bottoms smiled weakly. On Carey's signal, the officer dressed as a cook sprinted toward the car. Carey prepared to return fire, but there were no shots fired. "Varaz," the cook said. "Undercover." Carey told him who he was and explained the situation. "What's the get-up?" he asked. "Working a sting at the Rainbow Cafe," Varaz replied. "But your little fireworks have blown the top off of that but good." Carey didn't answer right away. He didn't give a fat rat's ass about Varaz's special sting operation. Right now he had a wounded partner and a shooting spree. Carey extracted a first aid kit from the front passenger door. He applied a bandage to the wound in Bottom's shoulder and directed the wounded officer to hold it in place. "Look after your partner," Varaz said. "I'll see if I can flush our shooter into the open." Keeping low, Varaz made it to the building's front door. Just as he got inside the entrance, Carey saw a figure moving from behind the building at the corner. "Varaz! He's making a run for it out the left side!" Startled, the suspect who had just appeared from around the front of the building scuttled toward the next block. Varaz began to pursue on foot. Thankfully, he didn't have to chase him far-a black and white pulled up short across the street, blocking the suspect's path so effectively that he hit the hood of the car at full stride and rolled off the other side. He stood to run, but by that time Varaz hit him with a blind side tackle. Carey was still crouched behind his car, but he stood when Varaz called out that the suspect was apprehended. Minutes later, an ambulance pulled up in front of Carey's T-Bird. The EMT's were able to hustle Bottoms onto a gurney and into the back of the wagon. Carey joined Varaz as the second officer emerged from the vacant building. "Look what we have here," Varaz said, pushing the offender violently out onto the sidewalk. "Gang member extraordinaire. Bucking for promotion. Community role model." "Killer of little boys," Carey said. "Isn't that right?" "I don't know what you're talking about," the suspect snarled. "I was just minding my own business-" "Found this on the floor under some old newspapers," Varaz said, holding out an automatic pistol. "Near enough to our friend here to make him a danger to society." "That's not my piece," the suspect said. "Never saw it." "Then you won't mind if we take it for prints," Carey replied. He stood back while Varaz moved his prisoner to a waiting car. In a few minutes the undercover cop returned. "Good going, Carey. I spent four months setting up that sting operation at the Rainbow Cafe and you take four minutes to screw it up with a shoot out in broad daylight." "Wasn't my choice," Carey said. "What the hell are you doing rousting gang members down here? You think you're invisible? That nobody sees you?" "I want them to see me," Carey said evenly. "When a cop goes down, I want the whole city to see me. I'm not going to sneak around to protect your precious undercover operation. You should have stayed put." "Right," Varaz replied, disgusted. "And then they would be wheeling you into Sam Nobles' inner sanctum. Hickman couldn't handle the street, and neither can you." "Screw you, Varaz." Varaz closed his hand into a fist and stalked away toward the group of squad cars gathered at the end of the street. Carey saw Block's car join the group. He sighed and walked over to where Jones lay on the sidewalk. No need to chalk this one, he thought, noting the blood that boldly marked Jones' death against the dull gray cement. Julie Chester, the criminalist who had assisted the night before at Hickman's murder, came up behind Carey. "Getting to be a regular team, you and me," she said. "How's Hal?" "He'll be laid up for a couple of weeks," Carey said. "But he'll recover." Chester nodded. "Have anything for me here?" she asked. "When the shooter opened fire, I saw a slug or two hit the wall along here," Carey said. "Let's see if we can find a slug, match it to the gun Varaz found." "What did you say to Varaz anyway?" Chester asked. "The guy's really pissed." "He'll get over it," Carey said. "Let's look for that bullet." Carey took one end of the wall, about 20 feet from where he remembered the bullet hitting, and directed Chester to a spot about 20 feet on the other side. Slowly, they moved toward each other, closely examining the wall and the sidewalk for signs of impact. "Got it!" Chester shouted, moving closer to the wall and pointing to a spot about three feet from the ground. Drawing nearer, Carey could see a ragged scar against the wall's plaster. Chester was busy with a small awl and a pair of needle-nosed pliers. Gently, she worked the instruments into the crevasse and retrieved a bullet that had lodged there. "Can't believe that it didn't ricochet into the street somewhere," she said. "This must be your lucky day, detective." Carey smiled ruefully. One of his friends gets tortured and mutilated to death. A guy gets his head blown off in broad daylight. A mother learns that her little boy was killed and dumped with the trash. His new partner takes a bullet. His supervisors are getting an earful of how he blew the top off an undercover sting. Yeah, this was some streak of luck he was having. "Take that down to SID, and check the third floor of the building over there for shell casings," Carey said. "I'll catch you later, see what turns up." "You got it, detective," Chester said. "And the lab should have results on the evidence gathered last night as well." Carey nodded and headed toward his car. He saw that Block's car had already left the scene. Probably waiting for me back at Parker Center, Carey thought. That way he can chew me out in front of the whole department-get more mileage that way.

Partners in CrimeEdit

Block didn't waste any time. Carey had taken a slow ride back to Parker Center, hoping that the situation would cool a little. But no sooner had he stepped off the elevator on the third floor than Block summoned him to his office. Carey didn't even hang up his jacket. Varaz was waiting with Block, sitting in a chair against the far wall. "Come in, Carey, sit down," Block said, motioning to a chair in front of his desk. "Bad deal, this shooting." "Yes, lieutenant, a bad deal." Block looked across the desk at Carey for what seemed like a very long time. "How's Bottoms?" "I expect he'll be back before too long," Carey said. Varaz shifted in his seat. Block glanced at him then returned his gaze to Carey. "The detective here says your fireworks cost the department several months of intense undercover work," he continued. "I don't need to tell you what a dim view my superiors take of such a waste." Carey started to speak but Block silenced him with a look. "I don't know what you were doing down there, Carey, stirring up that hornet's nest trying to get a case for the Hickman killing, but try sticking to detective work. You have enough resources at your disposal, with the lab and with other officers, that you don't need to turn South Central into a wild west show." Block paused and pushed a manila folder across his desk toward Carey. "I'm making a change in your case," he said. "First, Varaz here has been temporarily reassigned from Narcotics as your partner." "Lieutenant ... " "Shut up, Carey. The second thing is, we've got another dead cop." Silence hit the room like a winter storm sweeping over the Missouri Badlands. "Rene Garciapatrolman out of Hollenbeck. Found this morning on the front lawn of a Mr. Yo Money. Some kind of musician." "Rap," Varaz volunteered. "Money's got quite a following on the LA urban music scene. Plays clubs up and down the coast. Hasn't broken national yet, but the talk is he will soon. Records for a minor label-Ivory-and has several tapes out." "My, my, Varaz," Carey said. "You're a veritable wealth of knowledge concerning Mr. Money." He flipped through a couple of pages in the folder. "I don't see the coroner's report here," he said. "Just the prelims," Block said. "What concerns me is that the Hickman and Garcia killings may be related, that the killer or killers have a mandate for murdering police officers." Carey stood up from his chair. "I think I want to talk to Nobles. There isn't any way to see a connection from this stuff unless I have a full report from him." "One more thing, Carey," Block said. "I got a call yesterday from Community Relations. A lot of people are upset at your treatment of Ms. Bilden. Your little shoving match was all over the TV." "She was in my way ... " Block held up his hand. "She has a job to do, Carey. And you are not to antagonize the press while working this case. We are getting enough heat already from all sides. Two dead cops-and that little boy found in the same alley with Hickman. Community groups want to be sure we don't let that one get swept under the rug while we go after a cop killer." "Don't worry, lieutenant. I have no intention of forgetting little Bobby Washington." "Good," said Block. "Because l have some disturbing news about that. Just an hour ago a search team turned up Hickman's missing weapon-in Raymond Jones' apartment." "That's great," Carey said. "That links our shooter to Hickman." "I got the ballistics report from SID this morning-it matches the slugs dug out of the Washington boy." Carey faltered. "You're sure about that?" he demanded. "You can go to court on it," Block said. "That's the reason Varaz is being assigned as your partner. It isn't a matter of making friends-Varaz worked with Hickman for the last eight months. You're going to need him to get to the bottom of this." "I still don't believe it," Carey said. "There must be some other explanation. I know Bob Hickman. I can't see him shooting a kid." "Neither do I. Neither does Varaz. Nobody in this police department does. But the public is going to want more than faith. You better make them believe it," Block said. "Because if they don't buy it, if the media gets wind that the bullets dug out of little Bobby Washington came from Hickman's gun-hell, last year's riots will look like a trip to Disneyland. Doesn't have to be true. The story will be enough. That's why I want you to not antagonize the press. Let them think they have the story all figured out. If they start suspecting what we're really looking at, no cop in this city will be safe." Block took one final long look at Carey and Varaz, then dismissed them. The two detectives filed out of Block's office and took a long, silent elevator ride down to the first floor. During the walk to the car, both men were acutely aware of the growing tension that ticked between them like a bomb. Carey wished he could drive anywhere except where he was going. Katherine Hickman was already suffering, and having two cops come into her house asking questions about her husband was too much-for anyone. Last night, after Hickman's body had been discovered, Carey had visited the Hickman house to provide support. Now he was going in the role of a detective. He didn't like it, not at all. The ride to Hickman's house was almost automatic, he had done it so many times. All the way along the expressway, Carey's thoughts went back and forth, across time and place to when he and Bob had first enrolled at the Academy. Years telescoped to minutes, old jokes came back with forgotten punch lines, nights remembered on stakeout, car chases and the dull routine of report writing and case filing. The two of the them thought they would always work together, but then went their separate ways, following their instincts and interests into separate fields. Hickman, with his flair for the dramatic, opted for undercover work. And Carey took Major Crimes, Homicide, where his penchant for the analytical and the uneasy calm he mustered in the face of mayhem, within sight of the worse things people could do to one another, played to his strengths. Before he knew it, Carey had stopped before the ranch house along Sandine Drive. The drapes were drawn across the front bay window-that was unusual, he thought, knowing Katherine's fondness for sunny rooms and fresh flowers. Carey rang the bell. Valerie Hickman, eight years old, opened the door. "Hi, Uncle John," she said. She looked up at Varaz with questions in her eyes. Carey kneeled. "Hi, Princess." He brushed her hair back from her face. "We need to talk to your mother."

"Come on in," the little girl said, matter of factly. "She's in her bedroom. I'll go get her." Varaz followed Carey into the house, stepping through the short entrance hallway to the living room. Carey noticed a small box on the coffee table in front of the floral-patterned couch, and recognized it as the contents of Hickman's desk. He started toward it, then stopped as Katherine came into the room. "Oh, John," was all she could say and then she was in his arms, and he was holding her for a long time. After several minutes that seemed longer, he was able to settle her on the couch. That's when she noticed Varaz. "Detective Varaz," Carey said. "He worked with Bob on undercover assignments." Katherine nodded. "Bob never brought anyone home from the unit," she explained. "So I didn't ... " "That's all right," Varaz said. "Undercover cops don't tend to meet or visit each other's houses. If a cover is blown, it would put innocent people at risk." "Someone from his office dropped it off," Katherine said, changing the subject and motioning toward the box that Carey had noticed earlier. Carey nodded and mumbled something. "We have to ask you a few questions," he said. "We're handling the investigation." He was deliberately vague. Let Katherine think they were looking into Hickman's death only, and don't mention the SID findings, he reminded himself. Varaz shot him a look, but he ignored it. Katherine glanced over to where Valerie was leaning against the wall. "Honey, why don't you gather up your doll collection in your room for Uncle John to see." Valerie scooted down the hall eagerly. "Kate, was Bob having any problems at work that we should know about? Something that he talked to you about but maybe kept from the department?" It was obvious that she had something to say, and just as obvious that she was looking for a way not to say it. Maybe it was the presence of Varaz, or maybe it was something else, Carey couldn't tell. But eventually she spoke up. "I suppose you'll find out all about it sooner or later," she said finally. "It's probably better that it comes from me." She stood up from the couch and walked to the living room closet. "Bob and I were having some problems. Mostly about the job. Something was eating him. He wouldn't talk to me about it. Said he was getting help from the department, and that was all he needed to deal with the stress. I told him it was killing him, and if he couldn't step away-" she paused, then opened the closet door. "Last week, I found these in his jacket as I was doing laundry." She held out a prescription bottle. "Valium," Varaz said, taking the bottle and looking it over. "Were these prescribed by a doctor?" Katherine stared at him like he was stupid. "If a doctor had prescribed them, we wouldn't have been fighting over them," she said coldly. "Why would he have those?" Carey asked. "I never knew Bob to be involved with drugs." "He claimed he got them off an informant, and that he planned to take them to the office for evidence, but forgot them in his jacket pocket." "That might make sense," Carey said. He ignored another look from Varaz. "What makes you doubt that was the case?" "I could tell he was on something. He didn't sleep good at night. He was cranky, snapping at Valerie ... " "Doesn't sound like Bob," Carey agreed. "I don't know anymore," Katherine said. "I don't really know what sounds like Bob anymore." Carey took the pill bottle from Varaz and pocketed it. "He might have been having problems, but he was a good man underneath, Kate. Don't lose sight of that. And if there's anything that you need, call me right away." Carey made his way to the front door. Varaz hesitated, then followed. "Thanks for coming over," Katherine said. "I'm glad you're working the case. It's fitting, in a way." "I guess it is," Carey said. The two detectives stepped through the door and made their way down the walk to the car. Katherine watched through the glass of the storm door, then closed the front door after he pulled away from the curb.

Where There's SmokeEdit

Varaz was in a state. "What the hell was that, Carey? Do you call that an investigation?" "I call that a friend," Carey said. "That's a concept you wouldn't understand, Varaz." "Screw you," Varaz replied. "You're so blind with loyalty to Bob Hickman you can't do your job. That's not being a friend. That's being a patsy." "Look, Varaz," Carey said, steering his way onto the ramp headed north. "I don't want to get off on the wrong foot, but I need to say a couple of things up front. First, Hickman didn't shoot that kid." Varaz shrugged. "He didn't do it," Carey said. "So the way I see it we have one job here-to get that son of a bitch who killed Hickman. If it's the same guy that killed Garcia, that's even better. I might very well have screwed up your undercover operation, but frankly I don't give a flying rat's ass. We can work together on this, or we can butt heads all the way to hell and back. Which way will it be?" "I heard you were rough on your partners, but this must be a record even for you," Varaz replied. "The sooner we get this case solved, the sooner you and I can part company." "Suits me," Carey said. He parked the car in the underground garage and the two detectives entered the building and took the elevator to the third floor, then walked briskly down the hall to the Major Crimes, Homicide bullpen. Neither man spoke. Carey crossed the room to his desk and pulled a yellow interdepartmental envelope from his in-box. "Here's the crime log report on Hickman," he said, handing the envelope to Varaz. Carey went over the highlights as Varaz leafed through the papers. "DNA tests were run on the cigarette found next to the body, but there's no match on record." The telephone on Carey's desk rang. He picked it up and punched the blinking red light. "Carey, this is Julie Chester, SID." "Hi, Julie. I was just getting ready to talk about you." "Don't say anything you won't regret later," detective. "You might get what you ask for." "Right now I'm asking for lab results," Carey replied. "So what do you beaker breakers have for me?" "We ran ballistics on the weapon detective Varaz recovered from your shooting suspect yesterday. The slugs match those in the Washington case, and were fired from Hickman's weapon." "I know all that," Carey said impatiently. "But I need a way to prove that Hickman was not in possession of the gun when it was used to kill Bobby Washington." "We also have a match on slugs dug out of the wall in the alley where Hickman's body was recovered. Same weapon-registered to Hickman. Might indicate that the boy was shot in the alley." "No blood at the scene on the ground," Carey reminded her. "No, I think maybe there was some target practice going on. Hickman has an entire professional range for that, he doesn't need to shoot off a full clip at some alley wall downtown." "Then it comes down to pinpointing the time of death for each victim," Chester replied. "That's what it comes down to, you're right. Is that it? Anything else?" "One last thing. We did an analysis of the cigarette picked up at the Hickman site. "It's a brand called Quantum." Carey made a note of the name and thanked Chester, then hung up the phone. He relayed the news to Varaz. "That pretty well ties Jones to the Hickman killing," Carey said. "It certainly makes him the shooter for the Washington kid." "It won't stand up," Varaz said. "It's all circumstantial. Hell, if it wasn't Hickman, any punk could have bought that weapon on the street 20 minutes after Hickman was killed." "No, Jones is my killer all right," Carey said. "And I am going to hang him but good." "Then think about this," Varaz said. "Jones was in jail when Garcia was killed. Unless you're suggesting that we have a copy cat, or that we're dealing with a gang of cop killers, then he's not Hickman's killer." Carey swore under his breath. Everything that Varaz said made sense, but he didn't want to admit it. What he wanted was a clean trail and an easy collar. Jones and Hickman.Jones and the Washington kid. There had to be a connection between the two. "Come on," Carey said, grabbing his jacket from the back of his desk. "Let's see if Nobles has anything on Garcia yet." Carey made the drive to the coroner's office in record time. The two detectives found Nobles in the examination room, making notes in a spiral binder. He gave a quick glance up as they came into the room. "Good morning, gentlemen," he said. "I was just getting ready to step out for a small snack. Care to join me?" "Some other time, Sam," Carey said. "We just need a couple of answers about Garcia." Nobles nodded. "I've started the workup, so I can give you preliminaries. But the final results of all the tests won't be ready until this afternoon." "We'll start with what you have," Varaz said. "We'll fill in the rest later. But let's cut to the chase-any similarities between Garcia and Hickman?" "Besides the fact that they were both cops?" "Come on, Sam," Carey said impatiently. "Something we can use." "Like the fact they were both missing a piece of anatomy?" Carey and Varaz stared at Nobles in silence. "Yes, detectives. Hickman, as you know, was missing the index finger from his right hand. And Garcia - well, I hear they have a helluva band in heaven, but Garcia won't be dancing to the music. The killer or killers cut off all of his toes." "All ten?" Carey asked, incredulously. "That's how many toes most people have, detective. Except for Garcia. That little piggy has none." Varaz invoked the name of some deity under his breath. Nobles leafed through a few more pages in his notebook. "Here it is. I knew there was something else. Garcia had rope marks on his wrists and ankles-the same pattern and placement as found on Hickman. Also, we ran a check on the fibers found on both bodies and got a positive match. Same rope, a red nylon type, was used on both victims. Like Hickman, Garcia's mouth and eyes were glued shut. We don't have a match with the glue yet, so I can't tell you what brand it is. SID is working with that. Both of the deceased suffered cigarette burns to the face. We recovered tobacco from Garcia's hair. I have sent the sample to SID, along with ashes scraped from the bums. Maybe we can get a brand name ... " "Quantum," Carey said. "What's that?" asked Nobles.

"A partially smoked cigarette was found near Hickman's body. SID identified the brand as Quantum." Nobles made a note. "I'll call SID and have them check the samples I sent over against that brand. That'll be faster than running an analysis from scratch without a control." "You said yesterday that Hickman died from poisoning, and not from the torture," Carey said, looking at his notes. "Does the same hold true for Garcia?" "That's what I am guessing at this point," Nobles said. "And, like Hickman, Garcia was killed at one point and then dumped in another location-where the body was found this morning. We have primary and secondary lividity. The killer let him lay around for a little while before dumping him-" Nobles paused, and shuffled some papers on his desk. "Yo Money," Varaz said. "Garcia was discovered early this morning in the front yard of Yo Money's house. He's a local rapper." "Right," Noble said, pulling a copy of the report from his stack of papers. "Says 1201 Whittle Boulevard. Must be good money in rap music. That's a real nice address." "Let's find out how nice," Carey said, moving toward the door. "I'll be calling you later, Sam, to find out the results of the other tests." Nobles nodded and turned back to his work. "One more thing," Carey interrupted. "Have you fixed a time of death for Hickman and the Washington boy?" "My estimate is that Hickman had been dead for 4 to 6 hours before his body was found. The boy-I would say about 8 hours." "Thanks," Carey said. He and Varaz shut the door behind them and returned to their car. "You know the way there?" Carey asked. "You can drive." Varaz took his place behind the wheel and pulled away from the curb. "Now you see what I meant earlier," he said to Carey as he maneuvered his way through the city traffic and caught the expressway going south. "That guy's a piece of work, but I don't see him cutting off toes." "You may be right, Varaz. But I am still laying even money that he's the shooter in the Washington case." "With the time the coroner gave us, a good defense counsel could put enough doubt in a jury's mind to get an acquittal," Varaz said. "Just drive, Varaz. Maybe Mr. Money can provide some assistance." "Hard to believe that he would be mixed up in something like this," Varaz said. "The guy has everything going for him. Money, big contract-" "Maybe somebody doesn't like to see all that going to one guy. Maybe he got to the top by standing on somebody else's neck." Varaz shrugged. "I guess that could happen. But what are you saying? Someone killed Garcia and dumped him on this homeboy to frame him? Not too bright. Why not just shoot him?" "Maybe he ran out of bullets," Carey replied. "Bobby Washington was carrying 10."

Bad RapEdit

Yo Money filled his glass from a bottle of malt liquor and considered the day's events. Getting ready to start a nationwide tour, and now he had the press and everybody else wanting to know what he was doing with a dead cop in his yard. Like he knew. He didn't put him there. He just called the cops when he found the body this morning. Dead cop in the front yard. Didn't do any harm to his image as a gangsta rapper, he thought, smiling. He left the 'hood stuff behind a long time ago but, like the record people said, something like this could boost the sales of his fresh CD. The bad part was dealing with the cops. They made him nervous. And right now he had two cops in his living room. He knew they didn't really care if he was telling the truth or not about just finding the cop dead in his yard. They were just looking to hang it on him, bust up his record deal. Money set the empty can of malt liquor on the kitchen counter and headed back to the living room. Carey looked up from his notebook and gave Varaz a nod. They were pretty much done here. There was no question that Money had nothing to do with Garcia's murder. But there had to be something more to it than a random dump. "Mr. Money," Carey began, "do you have any idea why someone would choose your house to dump a body?" "Like I said," Money replied testily, "I don't know nothing about it. Ask me, I say it's all trying to put down the black man. One of us gets successful, and all of the sudden you white folks got to put him in his place." "Not all of us are white," Varaz corrected him. "Could have fooled me," Money said. "You ain't black, then you're white." "Garcia wasn't black," Carey said. "So it doesn't seem to me that this was purely a racial crime." "Some of you white folks got a lot of hate in you," Money replied. "Some don't like anybody at all if they aren't pure white." "Who do you know like that?" Carey asked. "Perhaps we should be talking to them." Money quickly crossed the room and yanked open the drawer of a small writing table. He pulled out a stack of papers and envelopes and tossed them on Carey's lap. "Take your pick, man. You tell me which one of your cousins is the one who did your cop friend. Ain't none of them in there worth nothing to me." Carey leafed through the papers. Hate stuff, vile racist trash that no intelligent person could write. None of it was signed. "Do you mind if we take this? We might be able to turn up a lead from it."

"Take it, take all of it," Money said. "There's plenty more where it came from." Carey stood up. "Let's go Varaz," he said. "Mr. Money, this is where you can reach us, should you think of anything at all that might help in our investigation," he said, handing Money a business card. "Anything at all, call us. And I'll have someone check into these," he said, waving the fistful of hate mail. "Even if it's unrelated to Garcia's murder, which I suppose it is, we'll see if we can put a stop to it." "Only one way to stop something like that," Money replied. "That's with a fist and a gun." "Stick to the record business," Varaz cautioned. "You don't want to get into anything you know nothing about." Money sniffed. "I know all about that," he said. "Nazis and KKK. Don't ever tell an African he don't know about that. You the one who need to get right, Jose. Five-0 isn't any friend of yours, either." There didn't seem to be anything else to say, so the two detectives let themselves out the front door and returned to their car. "Let's head back to Parker Center," Carey said. "I want to go through this and see if there's anything else turned up about Garcia's lab work." Varaz hit the gas.

Serv'em Up ColdEdit

Carey had heard it all before, and not that long ago. He leafed through Sam Nobles' autopsy report. Glue on the eyes and mouth. Rope fibers recovered from the binding points at both ankles and wrists. Burn marks on the face and torso consistent with cigarette bums. Stress marks around the eyes and mouth indicated the victim had struggled while under severe torture. Everything about it struck an uncomfortably familiar chord in Carey's mind. Same killer did Hickman, did Garcia. He pushed back from his desk and rubbed his eyes. The clock above the door to Block's office read 10:20. These 16-hour days would kill a cop just as sure as a bullet-it just took longer. Varaz was running a check on the hate mail they had brought from Money's house. Carey wondered what was keeping him. He wanted to get to a stopping place, get home and get some rest. Better yet, he wanted to stop and get a drink. He reached absentmindedly into his jacket pocket and found the pill bottle he had gotten from Katherine Hickman. He pulled it out and rolled it around in his hand. Not much different than his wanting to get a drink, he thought. Bob Hickman may have been abusing these stress relievers to escape what looked like a neverending war against the gang violence that plagued the inner city. Carey wished he knew more about his friend, knew more about how Hickman was dealing with the stress of his undercover assignment. So far, Varaz had been quiet on that score. Carey put it down to loyalty, and he wasn't about to dismiss that. Yet, at the same time, Varaz came down pretty hard on him when he held on to the pills, rather than introduce them as evidence. Carey pulled an evidence envelope from his drawer and filled out the paperwork, then dropped the pills inside. Hickman was dead now. There was no reason to protect him. Katherine knew his problems as well as anyone-better. And she had made some kind of uneasy peace with it. Just he as was about to drop the envelope into the SID pick-up box, he had second thoughts. If an investigation labeled Hickman as a druggie, then Katherine might lose her survivor's benefit. He'd have to call his buddy in Internal Affairs, see what the possibilities were. Until then, he'd keep the envelope locked in his desk. Where was Varaz? As if summoned by an invisible command, Varaz appeared at the door, with a computer printout and a smile. "We may have something here, Carey. Special Investigations has been keeping a file of hate crimes, and they spotted a pattern among the letters we got from Money. Seems SID has been keeping tabs on one Dennis Walker." "Fits the pattern, is all they say. Walker runs a neo-Nazi group out of his house-the usual paraphernalia, fascist regalia, hate literature, Jewish conspiracy clap trap that those people eat up like dog food," Varaz said. "A couple of the letters sent to Money have direct references to his operation." "Might be a fan of his," Carey replied. "Trying to make an impression." "Sure, could be. But Walker has a record. He did time in the big house, released 8 months ago. And while there, he was a real maker in the White Night Brotherhood. So he isn't afraid to get his hands dirty for a good cause." Varaz handed a photograph to Carey across the desk. It was the standard mugshot variety. "Not his best side," Carey observed. "Wears a swastika tattoo on the inside right forearm," Varaz read from the computer report. "That should make him easy to identify." "So where does this Walker live?" Carey asked. "Hollywood," Varaz said. "All that glamour," Carey said, sarcastically. "Bet you never thought you'd get into show business," Varaz chuckled. Carey muttered and got up from his desk. "Maybe we can catch Walker at home, combing his moustache." "Sure," Varaz replied. "It's early yet." The two men compared notes on the road to West Hollywood, the last address listed for Dennis Walker. "I still think we're reaching here," Carey said. "I don't see that Walker would have a reason to kill Garcia." "Let's say he's trying to set Yo Money up. Like the man said, he's trying to pin something on the black man who's making a better life than he is." "But that doesn't match up with what we know about Garcia's murder and how it relates to Hickman's murder. Same guy did both."

"Or the same group," Varaz replied. Carey thought about that for a minute. "Yeah, I guess you're right. If it's a group thing, then the similarities might be easier to explain. But what about the graffiti where Hickman was found? Looks like a gang thing." "Those Rude Boys have been running weapons in and out of LA for years," Varaz replied. "I really thought CRASH was going to nail them this time. Then this Hickman thing blew it wide open. I don't know who your snitch was, but that really screwed the whole operation." "So you're thinking that there's a connection between Walker and the Rude Boys? What is it? Guns? I don't think the White Night Brotherhood has any problems getting weapons." "Anybody with money can get a gun in this town," Varaz said. "Maybe something else is going down. Maybe Rude Boys were carrying out a hit for someone. Maybe that hit was Walker. Or maybe it was the other way around." "I don't see a black gang carrying out a hit for Nazis," Carey said. "Profit motive makes for strange allies," Varaz replied. "Don't discount greed. Or maybe one of their members owed a favor from inside." "I don't buy it," Carey said, turning off the expressway and making his way into Hollywood. "I'd bet my badge we're looking at one suspect. One really crazy guy. Even if what you say is true, and there's a connection between the gangs and the White Night Brotherhood, it doesn't add up to torture and murder. The gang would have shot Hickman and Garcia, the same way they wasted Jones. A gang doesn't go in for cutting off fingers." "Maybe they wanted a keepsake," Varaz said. "Something to show the kids back home." "Jesus, Varaz." Carey slowed the car along a residential street just two blocks off the seedy strip that plays host to Hollywood's most disreputable establishments. He switched off the lights and coasted to a stop in front of a weathered bungalow. "Here we are," he said, checking the magazine of his 9mm and sliding the clip into place. "Let's say hello to Adolph Jr." The two detectives strode up the walk to the front door. Martial music could be heard booming from inside. Carey pounded on the door. "Police!" he shouted above the din. "Please come to the door!" The music died quickly. Carey listened to some light footsteps coming toward the front door. The click of a bolt and the rattle of a door chain preceded the door corning open just a crack. A young woman's face peered out. "Carey, Major Crimes, Homicide," Carey said, showing his badge. "This is officer Varaz. Is Mr. Dennis Walker at home?" "He ain't here," the girl said. She started to close the door. Carey stuck his foot in the opening. "Oh, thank you," he said, pushing his way into the house. "I don't mind waiting inside at all." Varaz followed Carey inside. The girl turned quickly and moved away from them down a narrow hallway. Carey went after her, leaving Varaz to inspect the front room. When Carey got to the end of the hallway, he found himself in a small kitchen, with dirty linoleum flooring and badly painted cabinets. The girl was nowhere to be seen. He cursed under his breath, but took a couple of moments to look around. The sink was full of dishes, the table littered with take-out bags and half-eaten burgers. A couple of roaches skittered across the table top as he lifted the comer of one of the bags. Disgusted, Carey started back down the hallway toward the front of the house. When a small, undernourished cat ran between his legs from behind, he almost tripped. Stumbling slightly, he regained his footing just in time to see the shadow cross the wall behind him. He turned and raised his arm as an instinct, pure reflex defense, and the blow caught him on the forearm. A glint of light bounced across his eyes. The skinny girl who had disappeared came at him again, a knife raised over her head. Carey wished he had drawn his gun in the kitchen, but it was too late now. He counted on the girl being too much of an amateur to have much success with the knife, but it didn't make him feel much better. If that blade hit him, he was going to feel a lot worse. "Hold on there, sister," he said. She replied by screaming and lunging forward. Carey stepped to the side at the last minute and let the girl's momentum carry her forward. As her fetid breath crossed his cheek, he buried his elbow in her kidneys. She grunted a high-pitched gasp, but managed to turn around. The knife wasn't so high now, but it was still just as sharp. Varaz emerged from the end of the hallway and drew his weapon. The girl wasn't looking at him, though. She glued her eyes on Carey and came toward him, hissing like a bad tire. He had his weapon out now, the heavy metal of the barrel moving like a cold shadow in the hallway. "Stop right there and don't move an inch," he warned. "I'll blow your head off. I swear I will. Don't move." This time, thankfully, he got through. "Drop the knife," Carey ordered. The girl continued to stare at him and through him, but then finally relented. The clatter of the knife as it struck the floor was as loud as a truck. Varaz moved swiftly behind her and got the cuffs on. Then the two detectives moved her out to the front room where they pushed her into a ratty and stained overstuffed chair. "Where's your boyfriend?" Carey asked. "Where's your little storm trooper? Out getting his brownshirt cleaned?" The girl gazed back with hate. "Screw yourself," she said. "That's original," Carey replied. "Nice to know you have such a witty personality. She's got a great personality, doesn't she Varaz?"

"Oh, yeah," the other detective replied. "I'd like to fix her up with a cousin of mine. That would be two personalities, give or take one or two." "Let's go," Carey said, lifting the girl by the arm. "We can talk about this at headquarters. The stench in here is making me sick." By the time Varaz had finished the booking and Carey had cleared his desk of the paperwork for the arrest of Jane Doe-she had refused to give her name but it didn't help her any-it was past midnight. Carey had gone beyond the simple tiredness that accompanies little sleep and high stress. He had entered that middle state where he knew a second wind would keep him awake for several more hours. Varaz caught up with him just as he was putting on his jacket to leave. "Headed home?" he asked. "In a while," Carey said. "I think I'll make a stop first." It was a kind of code the detectives used when referring to a hangout they visited regularly, a practice discouraged by the brass. "I'll follow you," Varaz said. "Suit yourself," Carey replied. He wasn't in the mood for company, but that wasn't any reason to deprive Varaz of a little R&R. The two detectives filed out of the office and took the elevator to the garage. Traffic was light, and in less than 20 minutes they had put Parker Center, Walker, and Yo Money behind them. It wasn't as easy to shake Hickman and Garcia. The flashing neon beer sign that festooned the front plate glass window of the Short Stop bar promised a brief respite from the street and the Hickman case. It was a place of refuge, even though the Chief didn't see it that way. He saw it more as a hindrance and an obstacle to good police work. If a cop was ever busted for drunken driving, or got into a brawl, the chances were good that the Short Stop bar had been on the day's agenda. Carey ordered bourbon from Peg behind the bar, who poured it generously and slowly. Carey drank just as slowly, savoring the strong taste, the feel of ice against his teeth. "Been a long time since you paid us a visit," she said. "Not that long, Peg," Carey replied, setting his half-empty glass on the bar. Peg lit a cigarette from the pack she kept next to the cash register. "I heard about Bob Hickman. Saw it on the TV." Carey didn't say anything. "Saw you on the TV, too. You sure are rough with your women." "You should have seen him earlier tonight. He went dancing with a psycho knife pusher," Varaz volunteered. "Talk about rough." "Let's leave it, Varaz," Carey said. "I didn't come here to get the instant replay. You want that, tum on ESPN." Varaz shrugged and ordered another beer. "You want to talk about it?" Peg asked. "No, I don't. What I want is to finish this glass of whiskey, in peace," Carey said. "Touchy," Peg complained. She turned away to face Varaz. Carey thought, nursing his drink. I've got to get clear on this thing. Two cops tortured to death, a little boy murdered in a gang shoot out, a Nazi's crazy girlfriend. He didn't have any trouble figuring the body count, but it still didn't add up. He looked around the bar as if it would give him an answer. The pool table, the empty booths, the pictures on the walls just stared back, without talking. Screw this, Carey thought, tossing back the rest of his drink. He left Varaz and Peg to sort it all out, and pushed through the door to his car.

Everything Rises with the SunEdit

The next morning didn't bring any solutions to the mystery surrounding Hickman's death. It didn't answer the questions about Garcia's killing. It didn't bring a winning lottery ticket, a new car, or anything else except more questions. It didn't help Carey's mood when he found a memo in his box directing him to report to a special session of the city council. Just what he needed, some bureaucrat-clerking, pencil-pushing know-nothings eager to poke their noses into his investigation. All they wanted was the publicity and an edge on the next election. Carey wanted a lot more than that. He wanted a killer. He was on his second cup of coffee by the time Varaz arrived. By that time, Carey had made his way once more through the crime scene photos and the lab reports on Raymond Jones III, Bob Hickman, and Rene Garcia. The final reports bore out what had been indicated from the preliminary findings-the Hickman and Garcia cases shared several facts that pointed to a single killer. Nylon fibers recovered from both bodies matched. The particular brand of fiber was used in rope sold by hundreds of companies in thousands of places across the country. No help there. Tobacco recovered from Garcia matched that in the cigarette recovered from the Hickman crime scene-Quantum. None of this was new, but having it confirmed put Carey's mind at ease. The one thing that didn't quite match was the location. Hickman was killed in one location, then dumped in an alley, away from public view. Garcia had also been killed in one location, then moved-but the body dropped into a front yard where anyone might see it. That might be the point, Carey thought. An alley in South Central LA wasn't as public as the front yard of a popular entertainer, unless you stopped to think about what public you were talking about. If Garcia had been dumped in Yo Money's yard to send a message, as Varaz had suggested, then perhaps Hickman's body was dropped in that alley to send a message-but to whom? Was the message aimed at RBGB, or was it a message from RBGB? And what about Bobby Washington?

"You want to take a drive to Hollywood, see if Walker's come home yet?" Varaz asked. "Not likely," Carey replied. "We don't have time for that anyway. We've got to be at City Hall in 40 minutes to talk to the esteemed city council." Varaz groaned. Like most detectives, he shared a common distaste for politicians. "Guess there's no way we can escape that," he complained. "Come on, Varaz. Lets get it over with." City Hall was no place for a self-respecting detective. Grim faced assistant and junior assistant bureaucrats in suits and skirts crossed gleaming marble floors and passed through heavy oak doors, oblivious to the teeming mayhem outside in their own streets. Ironically, most of the clerks and receptionists and broom-pushers who kept City Hall going were from those same streets, harried commuters putting in their 9-to-S and working toward a city pension. But in the chambers upstairs, the politicians gathered in hushed tones, scratching backs, rewarding themselves with contracts and bonuses. The closest they got to interacting with the populace is when they turned on the local news and surfed the popularity polls with the remote control. Carey and Varaz were ushered into the council chambers as they stepped out of the elevator that had carried them to the fourth floor. From where he sat at a long table in the center of the room, Lieutenant Block motioned the two detectives over. Someone struck a gavel and the meeting came to order. Harold Brown, a councilman on record as a strong supporter of the LAPD, led Varaz and Carey through a series of questions about the Hickman and Garcia killings. It went pretty smoothly until Charles Clayton took up the issue of their interview with Yo Money. "Do you want to explain to this council why you thought it unreasonable to believe Mr. Money was the victim of an attack from a racist group bent on causing him professional and personal harm?" Clayton asked. "With all due respect, councilman," Carey answered, "the victim was patrolman Garcia. Mr. Money was unharmed. But we did gather evidence at the scene that indicates there may be a connection between the hate mail Mr. Money has received and the killing of officer Garcia." "And what did you do with that evidence? Did you follow it up?" "Yes, we did," interjected Varaz. "We were able to trace the mail to a Mr. Dennis Walker, and we visited his residence in Hollywood last evening." "You understand that we cannot afford to have attacks against the citizens of this city just because they have a different skin color ... " "I don't believe that there is a connection between Walker and the HickmanGarcia killings," Carey interrupted. "Evidence does indicate that a Dennis Walker was sending hate mail to Mr. Money. We have already turned that evidence over to Special Investigations so that they can take that matter up. But, in my opinion, that evidence does not contraindicate the theory that these killings are anything but the work of a psychopath." Carey's use of bureaucratese was a stroke of brilliance. "Why don't you tell this body what those indications are, Detective Carey," said Brown. "I am not at liberty to discuss the details of the investigation at this time," Carey responded. "So we just have your word," Clayton snapped. "You have the word of the entire department," said Block, coming to the defense of the detectives. "We don't want to let the public know all of the information that we have, for fear of damaging the investigation." "Surely that doesn't include the members of this city council," spoke Sara Bellows, a first-term councilwoman with a reputation for plain talk. "I don't think you mean to keep from this council vital information that will help us in making the right decisions for this city." "No, I don't," Carey said. "But I..." The mayor cleared his throat and spoke. "I believe what the detective is trying to say here-excuse me officer Carey-is that certain elements of this case must be withheld from public knowledge in order to ensure that the case can be tried successfully at its conclusion." He turned to Carey. "The case will be brought to a successful conclusion, won't it detective?" He asked it like a question, but it wasn't. It was a command, and Carey know it. "Yes, your Honor." "And when might that be?" the mayor asked. "As soon as possible," Carey answered. "I hope you're right, detective. Because I am going to hold you to it. If the press gets on this it could make it very difficult for all of us." "Yes, sir, I understand." "That wasn't very evident in your confrontation with Kristy Bilden yesterday," shot Bellows. "You might think of taking a few community relation courses and learn how to handle the media when it comes to something this sensitive. Otherwise, it might be best if someone else were put on the case." That outburst prompted several minutes of discussion about just how publicity was to be handled. All of the council members were extremely sensitive to the idea of adverse publicity. It could jeopardize the public safety. Not to mention their careers. Carey and Varaz stole a glance at Block, who cleared his throat. "If that's all, I'd like for these two officers to get back to the street and see if we can get an end to this whole bloody mess," he said. There was a murmur of assent. Carey and Varaz took that as their leave. Just as they had turned from their table, a loud commotion from outside the door grabbed everyone's attention. There were shouts in the hallway, followed by a quick burst of gunfire.

"Get down!" ordered Block. The council members and the mayor dove from their seats and took cover behind the dais. Carey, Varaz, and Block drew their weapons just as the door in front of them opened and a dark-haired man wearing a baseball cap and carrying an assault rifle burst into the chamber. The three officers took defensive positions behind the table. There wasn't any time for warnings. The three officers opened fire against the clear target, but their shots were absorbed by the shooter's armored vest. He swung his weapon around toward the table and reduced it to splinters with a long burst. He didn't know how, but Carey escaped by rolling to his left. The noise was deafening, but it was hard to tell which was louder-the screaming or the firing. Coming up to his knees, he squeezed off two quick shots, then dove for the cover of a stack of metal folding chairs that had been pushed up against the wall. The shooter turned in Carey's direction, which was just enough of a distraction for Varaz to get off five rapid shots. As a clip of ammo cut a line across the floor and skidded into the far wall, the shooter lurched forward, his forehead coming apart. The quiet that erupted was almost as shocking as the attack itself. Carey ordered the security guards who raced into the room to call 911 and dispatch ambulances and police. Block had been wounded, as had Bellows and Brown. Carey crouched over the fallen shooter. Varaz came up behind him. "I'll give you this much, Carey. You sure know where the action is." Carey grabbed the dead man's shoulder and turned him over. His face wasn't much more than slush. "Getting a positive ID is going to be a little tough," Varaz said. Carey took the dead man's right arm and turned it to see the inner forearm. "Won't be that tough," he said. "Look at the tattoo. It's Dennis Walker all right." The room was filling with emergency personnel. "He must have taken it off so as not to draw attention to himself," Varaz said. "I'm sure nobody noticed he was carrying an AK-47 with five clips of ammo." "Get a call into SID," Carey told Varaz. "I want prints run on this guy as soon as he gets bagged. Let's make sure it's Walker." He stood up and holstered his gun. "Just saved myself a dime," said Varaz, pointing to the squad of criminalists and photographers who had just arrived. Right behind them, Sam Nobles entered with his team from the coroner's office. "I am going to run out of freezer space, we get many more bodies this week," Nobles said. He waited while SID's Julie Chester printed the dead man and photographed the scene. "OK," he said to the coroner assistants after she had finished, "let's get this creep bagged and out of here." As the dead man was loaded into a black plastic body bag, Nobles drew Carey and Varaz aside. "We got another one, early this morning. Found her in Griffith Park. Body was stripped. No ID yet." He passed a photograph to Carey. Carey looked at the photograph carefully, then handed it to Varaz. "You linking her with Garcia and Hickman?" "There are some similarities. She's missing a forearm. We matched fibers from her ankles and one wrist with the fibers recovered from the two officers." "What about the eyes?" Carey asked. "Signs of torture?" "You'd think hacking off an arm would be torture enough," Varaz muttered. "No glue this time," Nobles replied. "But there are marks indicating that the victim was gagged and blindfolded. We're running a check on fibers recovered from inside her mouth and throat. And we also have a couple of burn marks, which are consistent with those marks found on Hickman and Garcia." "Just a couple?" Carey asked. "Must have been in a hurry." Nobles shrugged. "That's for you to tell me, detective. But call me this afternoon. We should have final test results by then." Nobles followed his assistants out of the room. EMT's were moving Lieutenant Block past them on the stretcher. He reached out to grab Carey by the sleeve. "Nobles have something on your cop killer?" "Maybe," Carey said. "Just preliminary. But looks like we might have another victim. Female this time." He looked to the medics. "How bad is it?" "A wound to the right arm, but he'll be all right." "Don't slack off," Block warned. "Wouldn't think of it," Carey said. The rest of the morning was taken up with filling out reports and interviewing witnesses to the City Hall shooting. Just as Carey and Varaz were leaving for Parker Center, Kristy Bilden approached and thrust her microphone into their faces. "Can you officers comment on why the City Council was meeting in secret session with the LAPD?" "No comment," Carey replied. "We have just had a serious incident here and until all of the facts are known ... " "Did this secret session have anything to do with the two police officers who have been killed this week?" "I can't discuss any investigation currently underway," Carey replied coolly. "We have reports that officer Hickman was under investigation from the LAPD's Internal Affairs division." "The man is dead," replied Carey. "So the question is irrelevant." "The body of a young woman was recovered in Griffith Park this morning, apparently after having been mutilated and killed. Does this mean that there is a psychopathic killer stalking the streets of Los Angeles?" "It means that the city isn't as safe as it used to be. Now, if you'll excuse us, Ms. Bilden." The reporter turned away from the officers to look at her cameraman. "So, far, the LAPD has been unable, or unwilling to put a stop to the killing spree that has haunted our city for the past three days. Is it the work of a deranged lunatic, or the conspired war from inner-city gangs trying to capture a share of the city's lucrative drug and gun trade? Without more cooperation from the police department, the public may never know. Lock your doors, ladies and gentlemen, the LAPD is on the case." Carey walked away disgusted, seething at Bilden's implying that the police were unwilling or incapable of solving the murders. Protect and serve was supposed to be the motto. But this wasn't television-and he wasn't Joe Friday. Or maybe he was wrong. In a city that sold illusion like Detroit sold cars, maybe everything was television. He remembered a line to an old song-"If heartaches were commercials, we'd all be on TV." From what he'd seen in the past 48 hours, Carey thought he had a shot at his own network.

Proof in the DetailsEdit

It was no small satisfaction that, when Carey returned to his desk at Parker Center, he was able to pull together a story about the killing of Bobby Washington. The ballistics match between the slugs in Washington's body and the gun that Varaz recovered at the shoot-out might be circumstantial, but subsequent interviews in the area where the boy's body was found turned up a couple of witnesses. Kim Chee, who ran the mini-mart on the corner just around from the alley where Hickman and Washington were found, identified Raymond Jones as the man she saw pick Bobby Washington up in a late model BMW, sometime in the early afternoon two days ago. Carey made a note to speak with her. He didn't want any loose ends on this one. He wished, only for a second, that Jones had survived the shoot-out. It would have been satisfying to see Jones rot for life in prison for killing Bobby Washington. But at least this way the DA couldn't cut a deal. What's a kid's life worth these days, Carey thought. Five years? Carey dialed the DA's office and arranged for a warrant to search Walker's house. When he hung up, he grabbed Varaz for a quick trip to the morgue. "Before we go, let's talk to SID about their final report here on Hickman and Garcia." Julie Chester met them in the SID conference room in the basement. Conference room was really an inflated term; actually it was a large room given mostly to the storage of specimens undergoing analysis. Baskets of evidence lined shelves, papers bulged from files. There was probably some order to all of the material, but Carey couldn't find it. The center of the room was filled by a long table, the cheap kind you can find at any office supply warehouse, with fake wood veneer on top and metal folding legs at the bottom. Carey, Varaz, and Chester sat on muddy-colored metal folding chairs around one end of the table. "OK, guys, what you're looking at here is a severely deranged individual. We developed this psychological report, with the help of the FBI's task force on serial killers. The mutilation, the torture-it all points to a specific kind of person." "You have a name?" Varaz asked. "Sure would make it easier." "No," Chester replied. "But we have a pretty good description. Male. Mid-thirties. Lives alone. Probably doesn't have any friends, at least not close friends. Holds a job, but something that doesn't draw much attention. Something in his history that is driving him to these murders, probably some kind of sexual abuse trauma. Unless he is caught or he moves on, there's little hope that the killings will stop. He kills to satisfy some need, some hunger that can't be relieved until some kind of final satisfaction occurs. The trouble is, nobody but the killer knows what will bring it to a close." "You keep talking as if the suspect we're looking for is a man. Is there something that rules out the possibility that it's a woman?" Carey asked. "The level of cruelty and violence," said Chester, "is consistent with a male suspect. Most serial killers are male. Most of their victims are either female, or males who for some reason or another are unable to put up resistance." "That doesn't fit here," Varaz replied. "We've got two cops dead, both trained in defending themselves and others-with deadly force, if needed." "Yes, that's odd," Chester agreed. "The feds picked right up on that. Usually, a killer like this hunts for victims at the fringe of society. If the victims are male, most of the time they are young, or they know the killer in some way. That would lower their defenses and make them more vulnerable to attack." "And Eudora Thurman? The body found this morning in Griffith Park?" asked Carey. "Does she fit in here at all?" "Some of the pattern is different," replied Chester. "Instead of using glue, the killer gagged and blindfolded the victim with restraints, probably a bandana or strips of cloth-something like that. We're running a check on the fibers that Nobles' office sent over, but I wouldn't expect much." "Does the fact that the killer didn't use glue this time mean we have a different killer?" "Not necessarily," Chester replied. "But like I said, it's a step off the track. Others things match, like I told you earlier: the cigarette burns, the missing body part, the fibers around the binding points. But I really don't have an answer for you about the glue. Maybe there wasn't any glue in the store. Maybe he wanted a change." "Variety is the spice of life," Varaz said sarcastically. "Speaking of glue," Chester said. "The brand used on Hickman and Garcia is a very special type-Regent's Epoxy. This isn't your run-of-the-mill model airplane glue that the sniffers use to get high. This is specially formulated for use in theatrical productions." "You mean like for gluing on beards and mustaches?" Carey asked. "Not exactly. It's used in scenery and props, especially in those areas that come under intense heat from stage lights. It dries harder than carpenters glue, but in the initial stages it's quite elastic. That lets the set builders make adjustments before the epoxy sets." "Where do you get that stuff?" Carey asked. "I've got a list for you right here," Chester said, handing him a computer printout. "Must be a hundred stores here," complained Carey. "Sorry," Chester replied. "It's the best I could do. I thought you detectives could narrow it down a bit from there." "Sure," Varaz said. "We've got a few free months." "It's all right," Carey said. "We'll check it out." "After we identified the cigarette from the Hickman scene, I took the liberty of calling the manufacturer's publicity department," Chester continued. "The Quantum brand has been on the market for about three years. The ad campaign and the marketing strategy behind it targets women between the ages of 18 and 25. The cigarette, according to the company mouthpiece, is a symbol of the independent woman making it on her own in a tough, man's world." "Back to women, then," Carey said. "Even if the main suspect isn't a woman, perhaps there's a woman in the background." "A helper?" Varaz asked. "That would be pretty unusual, wouldn't it, Chester?" "Very," the criminalist agreed. "These killers almost always work alone. I don't think your suspect, judging from this profile, would tolerate another person so close to the action." She passed the psychological profile over to Carey. "And that's all I've got for you right now. We should have more information about the Griffith Park murder by this afternoon." Carey and Varaz thanked her, then gathered up the papers and took the elevator out of the basement. "We should run a full background check on this Eudora Thurman," Varaz suggested. "Maybe something in her file can point us in the right direction." "If she has a file," Carey replied. "Everybody's got a file," Varaz said. "You just have to know where to look." "There isn't enough shoe leather in all of China to check Thurman and these addresses," Carey said. "We've got to come up with a way to narrow our choices." "That's what I'm talking about," Varaz said. "We can use the computer to run the checks. Save ourselves the interesting part." "Which is?" "The detecting," Varaz chuckled. As they entered the Major Crimes, Homicide squad room, Varaz went straight for the computer terminal. "Tell you what," Carey said. "You take on the machine, and I'll call Social Services. I'm betting that Eudora was on the dole at some point in her life." "Must have been right after she graduated Bryn Mawr," Varaz said. Carey grinned and headed for his desk. Once seated, he hit the speed dial for Sodal Services and spoke with an efficient bureaucrat who refused to release any information without a warrant from a judge. "The woman's dead," Carey explained. "What possible harm could come from me looking into her records?" "We have standards to uphold," replied the clerk icily. "OK, we'll get the warrant. I hope you're there when we arrive to serve it. I want to thank you in person." Carey hung up and pushed himself away from his desk. Varaz was at the computer, scrolling past screens of data. Carey was glad Varaz had taken on that task. With Bottoms out of commission, Carey needed someone to do his electronic searches. He stood and crossed the room to stand behind Varaz. "Anything useful?" he asked. "Turns out our friend Eudora didn't have a record. But, I did strike pay dirt when checking the visitation records for Walker. She struck up with him during the last 16 months of his sentence. Visited like clockwork, every month." "What else will this thing tell you?" Carey asked. "What do you want to know?" Varaz. "Oh, how about Walker's cellmate? He have a buddy there?" "Let me check," Varaz replied. He tapped a few keys. "Hello," he said. "Look at this here. Walker was moved around a bit during his time in prison, but for the last two years of his sentence he managed to stick it out with one cellmate. And the name of that lucky fellow-are you sitting down Carey?-was Mitchell Thurman." "You've got to be kidding." "The file does not lie," Varaz said. "Released eight weeks ago. Eudora's brother, you think?" "Got to be," Carey said. "Some kind of relation, anyway. Come on, shut that thing off. Let's get our warrants and burn some shoe leather." Getting the warrants was no problem at all. The DA's office informed Carey and Varaz that a team from SID had already been assigned to Walker's house. The two detectives decided to visit Social Services first. When they arrived, they identified themselves as police officers and produced the warrant for access to the agency's computer files. It took only moments for the clerk to bring Eudora Thurman's file to the screen. "Who is listed as her caseworker?" Carey asked. "Luella Parker," the clerk answered. "She's been out for several days. Sick relative." "Where's her office?" Varaz asked. "We need to look at her files on Thurman." "I'll take you," said the clerk, coming around from behind her desk. "It's locked."

Once inside Parker's office, Carey and Varaz went straight for the filing cabinet that stood in the comer. "Not here," Varaz said. "Teller, Torrance, Tyler. No Thurman." "Got it," Carey said, pushing aside some papers that covered the top of Parker's desk. "She must have been working on it." "But why didn't she put it back?" asked Varaz. "That's not like Luella," the clerk observed. "She very organized. She works on one file at a time, then puts it right back where it belongs." "Maybe she left in a hurry," mused Carey, thumbing through the case reports in the file. "Here, Varaz. You take this half." The two detectives spent the next ten minutes poring over the Thurman papers. Each report was a standard form that summarized the meeting between Luella Parker and her client, Eudora Thurman. "According to these," Varaz said, "Thurman was getting public assistance for the last year and a half. Doesn't look like this helps us much." "Wait a minute," Carey said. "It says here that Eudora Thurman had a job as a dancer at the Bitty Kitty Club, in Hollywood." He turned to the clerk. "Would she still be eligible for public assistance if she held a job?" "That depends," the clerk said. "Sometimes, extra income is deducted from the amount of assistance. Of course, if the earnings are significant, then the client would be dropped from assistance. A caseworker can always make a case that the client is attempting to work his or her way off welfare. A temporary waiver of the income restrictions can sometimes be granted." "So it's up to the caseworker. that's what you're saying." "Yes, in most cases. There's all kinds of loopholes in the system, detective. A good caseworker knows where they are and how to exploit them to the benefit of a client." "Is Luella good?" asked Carey. "One of the best," the clerk replied. "Someone from the department will be by to look over the room for further evidence, but I'm going to take this folder," Carey said to the clerk. "When do you expect Ms. Parker to return?" "I don't know that," the clerk said. "That's something you'd have to ask personnel. I only know that she left quite suddenly. Some kind of personal family crisis, I guess. That was two days ago." "It's a bit early," Carey said, turning to Varaz, "but what do you say we pay a visit to this nightclub?" "What would the Chief say?" Varaz asked sarcastically. "I wouldn't even want to know," Carey said.

On With the Show Edit

"This is just too convenient," Varaz said as Carey pulled to a stop across the street from the Bitty Kitty nightclub. "Do you recognize this street? Walker's house isn't four blocks from here." "Does seem odd," Carey agreed. "Let's hope some of the gold-footed girls inside can shed some light on that." "I don't think they get a job here because of fancy footwork," Varaz said, pointing to the explicit playbills at the front door. "And the last thing they shed here is light." "It's a dirty job, Varaz. But the show must go on." About the only light inside the club came from a cigarette machine positioned in a narrow entrance way that led to several tables in a room dominated by a round stage built up from the floor about three feet. As Carey and Varaz made their way toward the stage, a set of klieg lamps came on and splashed the entire room in a fiery red light. "We're not open yet, fellas," came a voice from the shadows on the other side of the stage. "Come back tonight. Really good show for you tonight." "Police," Carey answered. He pulled his badge out to show it. "We'd like to speak with the manager." The klieg lights went out and normal fluorescent lights came on. A heavyset balding man with a half-chewed cigar clinging to his lips approached from the far side of the stage. "Always eager to help the police," he said. "I bet you are, Mr. -" "Allan. James Allan. You guys aren't vice. I'd know you if you were vice." "Major Crimes, Homicide, Mr. Allan," Carey answered. "We'd like to ask you a couple of questions about one of your girls." "Performers," Allan corrected him. "I run a clean establishment here. I'm no pimp." "Yeah, I can see that," Varaz replied. "Gateway to the stars, that's the Bitty Kitty Club." Allan shrugged. "Lot of girls come to Hollywood, want to make it in the movies," he said. "I give them a job on the stage. Not everybody can be Meryl Streep, you know what I mean?" "Yes, you're quite the philanthropist, Mr. Allan," Carey said. He pulled SID's photograph of Eudora Thurman from his pocket. "Does this girl work here?" Allan took the photo, gave it a quick look, then handed it right back. "No. Not this one. Never seen her." "Look again, Mr. Allan. Are you absolutely sure?" Allan looked at the picture again. "Yeah, I'm sure. Never seen her before." "We have it on record that she danced here," Varaz said. "Eudora Thurman."

Allan laughed. "Eudora Thurman? Yeah, she dances here, that cow." "So what are you trying to hide?" Carey asked. "Why didn't you identify her picture?" Allan pulled the soggy cigar out of his mouth and threw it toward a trash can by the wall beneath a dimly lit exit sign. "Because that ain't Eudora Thurman," he said, pointing to the picture that Carey still clutched. "She's cute though. If she's looking for a job, send her down." He shook his head and started to walk away. "Come on," Carey said to Varaz. "Let's get out of here." "What do you want to do now?" asked Varaz, once they had returned to the car. Carey's reply was interrupted by the radio. "Able Tony Copper 34, respond. Able Tony Copper 34." "This is Carey, over." "Putting through a call from SID, Officer Chester," Dispatch intoned. "Come ahead," Carey replied. "Detective Carey, this is Julie Chester, SID." "We read you. Go ahead." "Made a mess of this one, detective. That Jane Doe from Griffith Park-the final results of the lab work are in. It is not, I repeat, it is not Eudora Thurman." "No kidding," Varaz muttered. "Do you have a real ID this time?" Carey asked. "A check of the dental records identified the victim as Luella Parker." Carey whistled. "That's positive?" he asked. "Affirmative," Chester replied. "Luella Parker, age 34, employed ... " "We know that already," Carey replied. "Oh. OK. To make up for it, I have some information about the Walker search. The team discovered a can of Regency Epoxy there. Also a couple of advertisements for the Bitty Kitty Club." "We just talked to the manager," Carey said. "Not much help." "Maybe this will help," Chester replied over the radio. "We rechecked the stores that sell Regency Epoxy and cross-referenced them to an area of 16 square blocks, using Walker's house as the center. There are four stores." "Give me the addresses," Carey said, pulling out his notebook. After he had written them down, he passed the list to Varaz. "Thanks for the work, Chester." "Don't mention it. Over and out." "Dispatch, get me Corrections," Carey requested. "10-4, ACT-34. One moment." While he waited to be connected, Carey asked Varaz to start checking the stores on the list. "I'll meet you at the last one there," he said. "But I just had a thought to see who Mitchell Thurman's parole officer is. Might be a faster way of tracking him down." "Sure hope we get somewhere soon," Varaz said. "This trail keeps going in circles." Dispatch came back on the radio and notified Carey that Corrections was on the line. He asked for Thurman's parole officer. It took a couple of minutes, but finally a woman's voice came over the radio. "This is Corrections Officer Sampson. May I help you?" "This is Detective John Carey. LAPD Major Crimes, Homicide. We're trying to locate one of your parolees, name of Mitchell Thurman. Do you have a current address?" "Just a moment. Thurman. Thurman. Here it is-1208 Voyager Street, Hollywood." Walker's address. This is too strange, Carey thought. Maybe they were closer than prison cellmates. "Has this Thurman got a job?" "As a matter of fact, he's been working at Third Eye Theatrical for the past seven weeks," Sampson replied. "That's on the corner of Vine and West Blocker Avenue." "Thanks, Sampson. Carey out." He replaced the mike in the handset. The address of Third Eye Theatrical was only two blocks from where he was. He jumped in the car and headed straight over. On the way, he spotted Varaz coming out of an art supply store. Carey pulled over to the curb and filled him in on what he had learned. "The guy back there in that store, he remembered selling several cans of Regency Epoxy just recently-about a month ago," Varaz said, opening the door and getting in beside Carey. Carey continued his drive to the Third Eye. "Description?" he asked. "A big woman, that's all he could remember. He didn't recognize her as from the neighborhood." "This is it," Carey said, pulling to a stop. He and Varaz checked their weapons and went to the front of the store. It looked empty, but the door was unlocked. Carey gently pushed it open. Varaz followed him inside. "Mr. Thurman?" Carey called. "Mitchell Thurman?" Silence. Varaz shrugged. "You take that side, through that door," he suggested, pointing toward the left. "I'll check through here." Carey nodded and set off, his pistol held loose but ready. Something about the setup was wrong. It was too quiet. The room he moved through looked like it would hold a dozen workers, but it looked like it hadn't been used in months. Dust covered the tables and counter tops. He let his eyes move over the floor in front of him. Slight footprints were just visible where the dust was not quite so heavy.

He pushed through a heavy swinging door and entered a smaller room, which in tum led to a short hallway that ran toward the back of the building. A metal door at the end of the hallway let a sliver of sunlight through to the inside. Carey's first thought was that someone had just come through, but the footprints were too old. Satisfied that there was nothing on his side of the building, Carey retraced his steps to hook up with Varaz. He called to his partner. When he didn't get a response, he tightened the grip on his pistol. Back in the main room, Carey started off in the same direction Varaz had gone earlier. He pushed through a pair of swinging doors into a second room. The marks in the dust showed that Varaz had passed through this room, then to the right and through an open doorway. Carey followed his trail. He was in a small room, an office. A table littered with photographs of women in various stages of undress took up most of the space. All around the walls, fastened to the yellowing paint with tape and thumbtacks, pictures from magazines-portions of pictures, really-created a collage of body parts. One section was devoted to eyes and noses. Another grouping of pictures concentrated on limbs, arms and legs arranged and ordered as if on display in a butcher shop window. Carey was so transfixed by the arrangement of photos on the wall that when he stumbled he barely caught himself. Regaining his balance, he stared at his feet, and at the square hole in the floor. A small throw rug that had once covered the hole had been kicked into the far comer. Wishing that he had brought a flashlight, Carey let himself down into the shaft. He stood still for a couple of minutes to get used to the darkness. Varaz must have come down here already. Should have called me, Carey thought angrily. Crazy fool. Must be bucking for a big promotion, trying to get this bust all by himself. As his eyes grew accustomed to the meager light in the tunnel, Carey moved forward, keeping a hand on the wall. The corridor was almost tall enough to stand erect in. As it was, Carey had to stoop slightly as he moved ahead. It was difficult to judge distance from inside the tunnel, but Carey estimated by the number of steps he had taken that he had walked at least the width of the street above. The floor of the tunnel began to change, sloping up gradually as the dimensions of the tunnel itself began to shrink, forcing Carey to bend even further as he kept moving. Finally, just as he thought he might have to get on his knees and crawl, Carey felt a slight breeze coming from ahead. Suddenly the tunnel veered to the right, and as he made the tum, bent painfully almost double, he saw the end of the hole as a splash of light. Carey lifted himself out of the hole and pulled his pistol from his shoulder holster. He was in an apartment or a house, but he wasn't sure where. Not too far from the Third Eye, he guessed. But which street? He walked softly toward a window on the right wall, thinking he could figure his location with a quick glance, but his steps brought a complaining creak from the old wooden floorboards. Cursing silently, Carey gave up his idea of the window. If he were going to make that much noise, he might as well find Varaz. A door just ahead led to an open living area. Again, photographs of fashion models and pornographic images of less famous faces lined the walls. Two mannequins hovered near a window across the room, on the other side of a worn couch. Near them, a drafting table was set up to take advantage of the natural light. Carey brought his pistol up and held it ready in front of him. He could hear a voice, singing softly, coming from a room past the large room where he stood. As quietly as he could, he moved toward the singing. He was able to get across the room to where he could see through a doorway into a brightly painted kitchen. A tall, heavily built woman stood at the sink with her back to the doorway. Carey lifted his badge from his jacket and held it out in front. He lowered his pistol to avoid frightening the woman, then stepped full into the doorway. "Los Angeles Police Department," he said, as calmly as he knew how. The woman gasped and turned quickly. She held a large carving knife in her hand. "What are you ... " she screamed. "Put the knife away, miss," Carey directed. "What are you ... you came in ... scared the ... " the woman stammered. She lifted a hand to her throat. "Scared the pants off of me," she finally managed to get out. She wore yellow latex kitchen gloves. They dripped with blood. Carey kept his gun raised. "Eudora Thurman?" he asked. "I'm looking for my partner," he tried again. He felt somewhat at a loss. What was he doing in this woman's kitchen? "Do you know Mitchell Thurman?" Carey tried again. "Does he live here?" "Mitchell?" the woman asked. "Oh, no. Mitchell left weeks ago." "Do you know his whereabouts?" asked Carey. "Can I make you some coffee?" the woman asked. Carey shook his head. "Please, Miss -" "Would you like to stay for dinner?" she asked. She turned away to lift something out of the sink. "I was just getting ready to put this in the oven." Carey's eyes went to the counter. The open can of glue sat near the window over the sink. The open can of glue. No ... Carey felt the hot bile rise in his throat. The bloody eyes of Jim Varaz stared back from his severed head. Above it, the woman beamed like a proud homemaker showing off a prize-winning recipe.

Just Desserts Edit

Kristy Bilden gave her makeup one last check before heading out of her dressing room and down the corridor to the studio. This morning was, potentially, the biggest of her career. Already word had come down from the network that more than 200 affiliates would be getting the feed. From here, it's a short hop to one of the TV news magazines, she thought. Bilden took her place on the set, on a chair that, with two other chairs and a short sofa, surrounded a low table. Billy Whalen, the show's producer, gave her the thumbs-up sign from the control room upstairs. She smiled back and turned her eyes to the assistant director. "And five, four, three, ... " The voiceover began. "It's a love affair that even Hollywood cannot imagine. The psychopathic addiction of slave to master. A despairing devotion turned to murder and cannibalism. On this morning's 'Deadline: LA'-a glance into the face of evil. Your host, Kristy Bilden." "Good morning," Bilden began, looking brightly into the camera. "The real Hollywood is far removed from America's idea of golden streets and star-studded marquees. It's a dirty neighborhood, a place where you might never visit, and if you did, you might not return." "That's what happened to Jim Varaz, an undercover detective with the Los Angeles Police Department. Varaz worked with John Carey on the Hollywood Hacker case, one of the most gruesome murder investigations this city has known. Not since Charles Manson loosed a team of drug-addled psychopaths onto an innocent population has Los Angeles seen such carnage. When John Carey finally arrested Mitchell Thurman, the official body count included three police officers and an employee of the city's Social Services agency." "But in the weeks since Thurman was jailed, the total story has become even more twisted. It begins in San Quentin, with an uneasy alliance between a group of white supremacists and a gang of inner-city criminals involving the trade of drugs and guns. That alliance, sponsored by Dennis Walker, linked the South Central gang known as Rude Boys Get Bail, or RBGB, with the White Night Brotherhood. Here to explain it to us, and to describe the face of evil, is John Carey of the Los Angeles Police Department." The studio audience applauded as Carey stepped out of the shadows and walked quickly to the set. He took a seat across from Bilden. "Detective Carey," Bilden said, "what's the link between a family of black gangsters and a neo-Nazi group like the White Night Brotherhood?" "It was a business relationship, pure and simple," Carey replied. "The White Night Brotherhood needed weapons to supply its members. RBGB needed a stable drug supply for its network of dealers. By combining forces, the two groups were able to get what they needed while maximizing their profits." "How did that work, exactly?" "The Brotherhood had connections in South America related to several of its members having served as mercenaries there during the civil wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador. The groups had a very efficient supply line between the United States and South America, complete with planes and pilots. When the AFr and FBI cracked down on the group's activities in the United States, it made it more and more difficult to obtain firearms, which the group believed were necessary for surviving the race war it believed was inevitable." "In San Quentin, one of the Brotherhood's top commanders, Dennis Walker, worked out a deal with RBGB's former leader, Reggie Wilkins. Both men were doing time for weapons charges. We're not sure how the relationship came about but, by the time Walker was released from prison last year, the Brotherhood was running drugs from South America and trading them to RBGB for stolen weapons." "And the Hollywood Hacker?" Bilden asked. "That was part of the deal Walker never saw coming. Mitchell Thurman was his cellmate at San Quentin. One of several, but the last one on record. A kid really, serving a five-year sentence on a drug charge." "That would describe a lot of inmates," Bilden said. "What made Thurman special?" "He wasn't," Carey replied. "That's the tragedy. He's like too many other kids that find themselves in prison. His life started out bad and went down from there. Thurman never knew his father, who was just one of a series of boyfriends that his mother ran through over the years." "Broken families ... " Bilden began. "This family wasn't broken," Carey interrupted. "It was ripped to shreds. The information gathered since I arrested Mitchell Thurman would make any of us sick. Should make us sick," Carey insisted. "Thurman survived years of physical abuse at the hands of the men his mother depended on. She never got the help she needed to break out of those relationships. Instead, she sank deeper and deeper into them, the men became harder and harder, more cruel. And Mitchell escaped the only way he could-with a needle and whatever narcotics he could find to ease the pain." "What happened to his mother?" Bilden asked. "We aren't sure," Carey replied. "We haven't been able to locate her, and we have no trace of her whereabouts since Mitchell was released from prison eight weeks ago. We suspect that Mitchell killed her, but we haven't found a body and he isn't admitting it." The audience muttered. They were certainly getting their money's worth this morning, Carey thought. "So what makes you think that he killed her?" Bilden insisted. "You have no body." Carey sighed. "I wish that were the case. But it's not. We have four bodies. We just don't have his mother's body." Carey stared right into Bilden's eyes. "Judging from the photographs we recovered from a search of Thurman's apartment, I would guess that he was wearing his mother's clothes when I arrested him," he said. "As far as the body-for all I know, he may have eaten her."

The audience groaned. Bilden smiled to herself. She'd be writing her own ticket after today's show, she thought. "What we do know is that Eudora believed she was Mitchell's protector. That takes a leap of faith, considering her marginal position and the abuses the boy suffered at the hands of the men she kept company with. But even mothers like Eudora Thurman cling to their illusions." "When Mitchell Thurman was sent to prison, Eudora Thurman made sure that her son was protected as well as could be expected, by working out a deal with Mitchell's cellmate-Dennis Walker." "What kind of deal?" Bilden asked. "She took Walker's messages to the outside," Carey explained. "She knew about Walker from one of her boyfriends, who had a brief fling with the Brotherhood. And when she found out that her son would serve time in the same prison as Dennis Walker, she arranged for them to be cellmates and for Walker to help Mitchell escape the worst that prison can bring." "But how did she manage that, a woman in her position?" "To tell you the truth, we aren't sure how she pulled it off. Obviously, she was a more resourceful woman than we give her credit for," Carey admitted. "We suspect that there was some collusion at the Department of Corrections. There is an investigation being conducted into that at the present time." "When Mitchell Thurman was released from prison three months ago," Carey continued, "he traced his mother to Hollywood. By that time, he was a walking bomb, primed to go off. We aren't sure what triggered the explosion. But we're pretty sure that Eudora Thurman died soon after her son returned home." Carey took a drink of water from the glass on the table in front of him. "I am not an expert in the psychology of serial killers," he said. "But the experts who have examined Mitchell Thurman since his arrest have put together a plausible scenario. They suggest that Mitchell murdered his mother, assumed her identity, then proceeded to act out a perverse fantasy of maternal protection that extended to the only person who had ever protected him-Dennis Walker. Mitchell Thurman, the theory goes, in the role of his own mother, killed the people who threatened to expose the drug and gun smuggling operation that Dennis Walker started while in prison and continued after his release." Bilden turned to face the camera. "When we return, we'll discover the face of evil in a tidy kitchen. But this kitchen never saw your mother's recipes." Carey flinched. "And to commercial," the assistant director called. "Nice work everybody. We're working on a winner here." Carey took a couple of deep breaths and sat back in his seat. "You're doing fine," Bilden said. Carey nodded absentmindedly and looked out into the studio audience. He wondered how many of them would sleep easier tonight, after hearing the details of what Mitchell Thurman did with his victim. He thought about what it was that made people want to hear these things, to read about them. He thought about Valerie Hickman, a daughter without her father, and Bernadette Washington, a mother without her son. Sure, he thought. I'm doing just fine. We're all doing just fine.