Chapter 9: CRIMINAL SANCTIONS
The Detroit Police Departments 10th precinct was buzzing with news about the latest doings in the nearby DZ when Rick Tyler left the locker room in his street clothes to sign out. It had been a long day for him and the bright-eyed officers around him trying to reconstruct what had happened were wearing on his nerves.
He climbed the stairs with the boisterous chatter of his colleagues echoing in his ears. They had no moral or professional interest in the black kids on or around Cascade whod been shot to death or the old white man who had been found dead of unknown causes in the middle of Livernois. They were simply curious citizens who were privy to the grist of the local telewindow news and entertainment mill and enlivened by the kinds of stories a good programmer could make of it.
No one could recall the last time a possible casualty from one of those incidents had expired on the borderline of an "area of limited response"if, indeed, he had died where his body was found. That was the hot topic of conjecture among the first group of officers upstairs in the main corridor. Rick walked past them and another group standing a few feet away who talked more about the six dead boys on and near the porch and the heavy pool of blood on the intersecting street. They were all convinced that the killings were the work of one man. They used words like, "beautiful," and "sweet" to describe it.
A garrulous, green-eyed, young patrolman with curly brown hair was propounding a theory about an unlicensed man hunter they all knew by reputation. "It was the Bogeyman, I tellya. He always takesem out in bunches."
Rick had to stop and knock on his supervisors door, which made him a captive listener.
"This time he fucked up and died before he could make it all the way back across the border."
Another young patrolman, this one with gray eyes, straight black hair and an Errol Flynn mustache, shook his head. "You didnt see him," he said, "I did. That guy musta been in his 90s. Looked older than that. He was four long blocks away and that gun they pried out of his hand hadnt been fired in awhile."
The first officer modified his theory on the spot and kept talking as though his first theory didnt count. "The Bogeyman must have had a car nearby. That could have been his blood they found on Cascade. I bet it was. And"
Gray Eyes shook his head again, "The bodies were too spread out and all of them had bullet wounds. The Bogeyman almost always uses a knife and I cant see him leavin his own blood in the street."
A third mans ears perked up, "Hes something special, all right, but hes only a man."
"Or a woman," said the only female in the group."
"Or a woman," conceded the man.
A voice from behind the door overlapped the contentious follow-up to what the last man said. It was Ricks boss inviting him to come in. He did.
"Leave it open," said the man inside with the silver captains bars on his collar, the salt-and-pepper hair, and the name tag that said, "Dunn." "Im already signed out and ready to go." He yawned. "This overtime is starting to kick my ass."
The captain was the same ruddy-faced blue-eyed, middle-aged man who talked to Rick that morning in the DZ by way of his ear plug radio receiver and wristband monitor. The desk monitor which had doubled as the camera lens for that transmission was swiveled around in Ricks direction with a list of signatures bracketed by computer rendered in and out times. A writing pad sat on the table in front of the screen. The captain stood behind his desk smiling broadly as Rick took a ball-point pen from his shirt pocket and signed his name. It appeared on the screen just as he wrote it with the standard military time of 04:30 appearing in front and 15:02 behind it.
"What do you make of the old guy they found on the line?" asked Dunn.
Until now, Rick had avoided being drawn into the discussions of the idle, well-fed, well-dressed protectors of law and order. "What old guy?" smiled Rick, trying to short circuit any serious dialogue on the subject with a simple-minded joke.
Captain Dunn didnt get it.
"His name was Warren Mayhew," said Dunn, turning the monitor screen back around and swatting the off button on the side. "A whigger. Were having trouble nailing down an address. Had enough money onem to pay off some hefty bills." Dunn walked around his desk and ushered Rick out of the door ahead of him as they left the office. "That plastic gun he had was just like one they found on one of the bodies on the porch. When was the last time you saw a seven millimeter 40-weight, Exline plastic gun with no brand name, no serial number and a 20 round clip? Gotta be a connection, right?"
The one way conversation lasted from one end of the building to the other, around a corner, out the door and down the stairs to the reserved section of the parking lot. "The thing that gets me," said Dunn, "is where that Mayhew character ended up. Right on the goddamned line like he was put there to send somebody on both sides of the line a message."
Rick cocked his head a little to one side in genuine interest. "Warren Mayhew," he said, "Now that you mention it, that name sounds familiar."
"It does?" asked the captain, lifting the door to his emerald-green, two-passenger, Dodge Wind Dancer and sliding behind the wheel. "Was he a friend of the family or something like that?"
"No," laughed Rick, "Nothing like that. It just sounds like a name Ive heard somewhere before. But I cant put a face on it."
Dunn brought down the door and opened the window, "When the telewindow people get on this thing, youll be seeing his face everywhere you look for the next three weeks. They love weird shit like this. Could be a real pain in the ass for us...We'll see."
Rick chuckle as the captain's car pulled away. He started for his own Wind Dancer when it hit him, God! In his mind he could see the credits for the show and hear the female voiceover saying, "...And the art director is Warren Mayhew. Im Vivian Foski."
The young officer didnt put everything together, but enough of it fell into place to prime his adrenaline pump.
He sprinted to his bright yellow car and hopped in. Before the days of NEZs and criminal sanctions against smuggling significant quantities of food and money into them, he would have been able to mobilize the entire precinct. Now it was up to him alone to do whatever needed to be done. He peeled away from his parking space knowing that Mayhew must have been trying to do the same thing when he died. He knew that the boy who died on the porch a few blocks awaythe one he must have gotten the gun and ammo from, probably worked for Shag Man.
Rick had a good general idea of where Vivian Foski lived so he headed in that direction. He knew the name of the street, the nearest cross-street and enough details about the house to set it apart. Moreover, he knew that Shag Man had the same information. What he didnt know, was how he got it.
Rick drove southbound on Livernois, darting in and out of all three lanes of traffic as fast as his obstacle avoidance systems would allow. He rolled past the U of D campus and turned left on Finkle to reach the house on Log Cabin.
He spotted the white house with the black trim and the red and yellow tulip garden in front right away. He parked in front of it. His pulse rate quickened when he saw that the front door was ajar. He reached inside of his gym bag for his .38 Remington automatic service pistol.
A myriad of jangled thoughts raced though his mind as his car door scissored up and he jumped out. Did Shag Man get there before he did? Was he still in the house? How many of his boys did he have with him? Were any of them watching him now?
He ran up the walkway and bounded up the stairs with his gun at the ready fearing the worst for himself and the woman he came to rescue. Would he run smack into a face full of lead? Would a neighbor see him with the gun and call the police? Would the woman herself see him coming and blow him away in panic?
For the briefest of moments before he reached the porch, he considered stopping at the door and knocking to announce his presence. That was proper police procedureat least it would have been if he had been properly directed to be there. He stopped next to the screen, yanked it open and hurled himself through the black wooden door. It swung back hard into the wall-stop and bounced back, catching him in the thigh as his upper body bounced on the mint green entertainment room carpet.
Breathing hard through his nose and jerking his pistol at one phantom target after another, he was assailed by the strong odor of blood and spent gunpowder. Ricks forehead and upper lip beaded in sweat as he went from the prone position to a standing crouch with his eyes, his ears and his gun barrel still searching for targets. The house was deathly silent and the smell of blood grew stronger as he moved cautiously toward the dining room.
He spotted the dark stain on the far corner of the polished rosewood table just before he stepped on something small and hard that was lost in the shaggy fabric of the carpet. He lifted his foot to the side and picked it up, recalling, irrelevantly, how important it would have been less than a generation before not to touch anything. With his eyes going back and fourth between the hidden corners of the house, and the slim, tubular object in his hand, he studied the object carefully. It looked like dirty brass, but when he struck it against the steel barrel of his gun, the flat sound told him it was plastic.
It was an empty seven millimeter cartridge.
Rick cursed and darted from room to room, up the stairs and down again for any sign that someone might still be in the house. He checked the attic and the basement and returned to the dining room where he stopped and studied the wet bloodstain on the table and the carpet below.
The blood on the carpet had saturated the fabric in a wide, irregular ring leaving no doubt that the victim had lost a massive amount of itif there was a victim. Its position below the table and everything around it was so tidy that Rick had trouble believing a body had ever been there. Perhaps it was Dunns comment about Mayhews body appearing to have been placed where it was to send a message that made him suspicious about the blood spill. He was not an expert in these matters, but it looked to him as though someone had simply poured a large container of blood on the edge of the table and let it run down on the carpet. For all he knew it could have been animal blood.
He breathed a little easier with the thought that he may not have arrived on the scene of a fatal shooting a little too late twice in one day. On the other hand, there were still the questions of the open door, the empty house and the spent 7 millimeter shell. All of which added up to one big question: Where was Vivian Foski?
Rick needed help but he couldnt call the police without sentencing the woman to almost certain death if she wasnt already dead. Then he thought about Dunns message idea again and remembered something that he had overlooked when he crashed in. He hurried back to the entertainment room where the white memo light was flashing on the rosewood frame of her modest, quarter-wall-sized telewindow. He pulled out his light pen, gave it a two click twist and aimed it at the T-window.
It opened with a flutter of static. Then, "Boom!" went the unmistakable sound of a 7 millimeter gunshot that sent Rick diving to the floor in mortal fear. He didnt realize where the sound came from until he heard a chuckle and saw in the T-window the face of a light-skinned Afro man in a dark red, flat-top hat. Shag Man.
"Scared the shit out of you, didnt I," said the man in the window, with no trace of a black English dialect.
Rick made a mental note to check his shorts.
He stood and tucked his pistol into his belt as he watched and listened to the man in the window.
"Youll have to forgive me if the quality of the cut you are about to see is not so good, but we were in a hurry. You understand. The thing is, your sister is dead and you will be too if you dont stay out of my business." His tone was mild and reasonable. "We have to take the body with us but I thought you should get this so you can have the funeral and get on with your life. I would not like you to think me cruel. Vivian Foski was a wonderful person and it is always distasteful to take the life of someone like her. But I have a company to run and I have to make the tough calls. Its my job."
The next thing Rick saw in the window was an older, darker, stiffer version of Mina Foski in a body bag unzipped to her navel with a massive bloodstain in the middle of her chest. She didnt really look that much like Mina, but there was a family resemblance that Rick Tyler saw when he looked at her. Her face was frozen in a mask of shock with her lips parted and her unseeing eyes open wide. The hulking, dark-skinned youth that Mina had thought of as "The Jester" until he called himself "Horse," zipped the bag up.
Rick shut his eyes tightly and shuddered with revulsion and guilt. He was responsible for letting Shag Man know who Vivian Foski was and where she lived. And if he had remembered who Mayhew was and assembled the other available facts correctly when he should have, she might still be alive.
When he opened his eyes again, he was looking at Shag Mans image in the window. "Sorry about the mess were leaving behind. We dont have time to record this message and clean up, too. You understand. You can get the blood off the table with soap and water. A jar of "Clean Sweep" will take it out of the carpet without leaving a stain. And theres a spent bullet shell around here somewhere. We would have picked it up, but we didnt have time to look for it. Remember now, be good, and everything will be all right. Well be watching you."
The window closed and the "SAVE?" prompt flashed for a few seconds while Rick stood there in a daze trying to figure out what to do. He was still trying to figure out what to do when the automatic erase mode took over and wiped the 3-D memo disk clean.
Clearly, Shag Man had recorded it for Mina and expected that she alone would see it. But why, thought Rick, would he take a chance on the police getting here before she did? He wouldnt, unless he didnt know who Mayhew was or what had happened to him. That must have been it.
Something about Shag Mans cleanup advice drew Rick back into the dining room. "What the hell was that about?" he muttered as he stood over the noisome dark stain. Was it the psychopathic rambling it seemed to be or was there method in the madness?
The fact that Rick had stepped on the incriminating plastic shell purely by chance was the one convincing element in an otherwise unconvincing case of homicide. Now, the element of chance had been taken out of the discovery, which suggested once again that the entire scene had been staged. If so, it didnt necessarily mean that Vivian was alive. It just meant that she wasnt killed when and where it was made to appear that she had been killed. She might have been stunned and kidnapped, or killed in some bloodless way that wouldnt point to a violent death without a body.
Rick soon came to the conclusion that it might be impossible to learn what had happened without the benefit of a time scan. In another few days, when the medias flashbacks on the latest mass killings in the DZ got sorted out, one or more of the dead kids could be linked to Mayhew. In that case, Mayhew would be linked to Vivian, and the local T-window news and entertainment services would be crossing signals left and right to get flashbacks from her office and her home. Maybe the courts would allow it; maybe not. If so....
The proliferation of possibilities was building up to an overload in Ricks brain. Mina was in trouble with Shag Man and she was going to be in trouble with the law if the police requested the right time scans. That was the bottom line, no matter what. He could be in big trouble himself. He had to get in touch with Mina and he had to get some reliable advice on what to do next.
He left the house and closed the door, wondering how Shag Man and the big kid with him had managed to go in, fire a shot from a 7mm gun, and bring out a body bag without getting a rise out of the neighbors. Why did they think they could? And why take that kind of chance outside of a DZ? A single killing in a DZ wasn't even news but a killing outside of a DZ was big news.
...Ten minutes of questioning neighbors who insisted too passionately that they had seen nothing gave Rick Tyler his answer. Shag Man had relied on one of violent crimes oldest and most reliable safeguards against citizen involvement: Citizen intimidation.
Now, back in his car, Rick looked at his watch. According to what Mina told him that morning, she wouldnt be off of work for another hour or so. It would take almost that long for her to arrive at her sisters house if Shag Man had been right about where she was going. Before he talked to her, he had to talk to someone else.
He pushed the "CALL" button on his wristband computer. Then he said, "DAD." An intermittent tone sounded three times and the face of a balding, middle-aged man with a peaches and cream complexion and jade green eyes filled his wristband T-window."
"Hi Dad," said Rick.
"Hi," said the man with a warm smile. "Howya doin?"
"Wish I could say. Things are happening kinda fast. I might need you and mom to help me out."
Rick's father said a cautious, "OK. You wanna talk to your mother about this?"
"Yeah, please. Put her on. But Im gonna need to talk to you about some technical stuff when Im through. Is that OK?"
"Sure... Heres your mother...."
The face of a caramel colored African-American woman with wavy black hair, hazel eyes and dimpled cheeks replaced the mans face on the screen.
"Hi Mom," said Rick.
"Hello Son," said the woman, "Whats up?"
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