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The chronological order of my stories is as follows:
Todd the WBA this ain’t). I was very pleased with how well Nash did throughout the competition.
But this was the biggie. Billy sticks could be used, but for some strange reason everyone wanted to use crowbars these days. Can’t imagine why.
Cindy was attired in plastic armor that motorcycle riders wore, coving her shoulders, chest and torso, back, thighs and calves, all white with blue trim… and a blue football helmet with plastic face shielding. Claire Michaels, the leader of the Police SWAT teams, was similarly attired, but in white plastic armor with red trim, and a red football helmet. The United States Marine Corps’ boot camp had nothing on this Police Force when it came to personal combat training.
They both had crowbars, standard crowbars bought at the hardware store. Neither Cindy nor I had been allowed to use our blue or red crowbars. The crowbar Cindy was using was painted international orange. Claire’s was international yellow.
Cindy’s route to defending her title had been relatively easy. There was no gender separation, and she had taken down every man or woman that had opposed her. Detective Joanne Cummings had given her the best fight, going over two minutes. Cindy had ripped through Theo Washington, Chester Morton, and Precinct Captain Damien Thompson, and was awaiting the final challenge.
Claire Michaels’s route had been tougher. Patrol Officer Lydia Green, Patrolman Roy McGhillie, and Patrolman Jermaine Davis had given her strong opposition. But her semi-final match had been the greatest challenge at the time, as it was me… Your Iron Crowbar.
I had taken out Patrolman Louie Towson, a big husky officer; then Patrolman Phil Goodwright, being careful not to hurt them as they were not very experienced. Then Senior Sergeant Gregory Charles of SWAT administered a relentless pounding to me, but really didn’t get any effective shots in… he was just whaling the ol’ Commander for the fun of it. At his first slip, I rapidly took him down and subdued him into submission, with perhaps just a bit of administering of pain. Then came Claire Michaels…
And I almost won, but in the third round a slip cost me the game as I fell to the floor… and got swarmed. “I yield.” I had cried out after an administering of several blows was followed by Claire’s crowbar at my neck. It was okay; the crowd watching roared for Claire as I got up and congratulated her, and I knew that it was all good for morale. And in another way there was a silver lining: while I was disappointed, I also had to admit that I was happy that I didn’t have to take the beatdown before the entire Force that surely would’ve followed in the Championship…
Over one hundred and fifty officers had given up their Saturday to be here and watch. Micah Rudistan was the referee, also wearing armor, a helmet and face shielding in case a billy stick broke or, more likely, a crowbar swing accidentally came his way. And the noise in the room went from silence to pandemonium when, after the introductory “crossing of the swords”, Rudistan gave the single command: “Box!”
The sound of crowbars clanging could be heard over the cheering of the officers. Cindy and Claire were pretty well matched, though Cindy had tremendous experience. At one point, she parried a crowbar blow and delivered a vicious martial arts kick to Claire’s midsection… perfectly legal, and one reason Cindy was so formidable. Two black belts is huge. Wielding the Blue Crowbar every day is more huge.
But Claire had her own training from the LAPD… and the Streets… and she was very tough. She rolled with the blows and delivered a few of her own. And she was ready for the tricks: when Cindy tried her favorite move, which was to duck below a high swing, then swing her body around on one arm like a gymnast on the ‘horse’, her legs cutting her opponent’s out… Claire was able to side-step it. But her attempt to follow up was not fast enough to take advantage of the dangerous move and get Cindy off-guard, and Cindy parried the blows and was quickly back on her feet. And the roars got louder as it went on.
It actually went two minutes into the second three-minute round. But then Claire, tiring at the relentless onslaught and a couple of blows to the football helmet, made a lunge and went off-balance. Cindy whaled her on sincan escort bayan the back with a crowbar blow as she stumbled by, then as Claire tried to turn, Cindy pulled her legs out from under her. Claire went down hard, and found Cindy on top of her, the crowbar to her neck. “I yield.” Claire said.
The crowd roared, some in celebration and some groaning in disappointment. As Rudistan held Cindy’s arm in the air, denoting her as the Champion, I wondered how many green dollar bills would exchange hands to settle bets.
Moments later, as the designated representative of the Chief, I presented Martin Nash and Claire Michaels with their 2nd Place trophies, then Ronnie Kirkpatrick his bigger 1st place trophy with the label “Police Boxing Matches, Boxing Division, Champion” and the year; and finally gave Cindy her trophy with the label “Police Boxing Matches, Freestyle Division, Champion” and the year.
As she absorbed the huge ovation for herself and Ronnie, I thought I could see something in Cindy’s eyes… for someone accustomed to winning, there was still pride at winning something important. Challenged all her life, Cindy’s competitive nature took no prisoners. She still considered herself as being challenged, as having to prove herself… on every occasion, every day.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Ohhh, I am sore.” Cindy stated as she, Teresa Croyle and I sat in my office. “Claire was tough as hell.”
“You were much better, though.” Teresa said. “You’d’ve won on points, if anyone was keeping them.”
“How’s your lung?” I asked. “Take any blows to it? Need to get looked at?”
“No… ” Cindy said, pretending to look down and check herself out. “Most of the hits were to the arms and shoulders. But in the late going, I hit Claire on the head pretty hard a couple of times. She might should be checked for concussion.”
“Are you coming to the Cop Bar for the party tonight?” Teresa asked me.
“Uhhh, I don’t know.” I said. “It’s my son Jim’s first birthday.”
“Yeah, and we’re coming to the party at your house.” said Cindy. “Which starts in… thirty minutes. So after that, bring Jim to the Cop Bar party, and we’ll all sing Happy Birthday to him.”
“Are you kidding?” I asked. “You want me to bring a one-year-old child to a bar full of rowdy cops and firefighters during the Police Boxing Matches party?”
“Uh, yeah, that pretty much sums it up.” Cindy said., her face expressionless, her voice deadpan flat. What was she up to? I thought to myself. Her eyes did not give herself away; she was used to me by now.
“I tell you what.” I said. “If you can convince Laura to let me do it, I’ll go along.” I did not like the grin on Cindy’s face that immediately ensued. Had I stepped right into a trap, here?
I got my cellphone and dialed a number. “Hi Claire, this is Commander Troy. How are you feeling?… I see… I’d like for you and Hugh to come to my house, the Mountain Nest, and help us celebrate my son’s birthday… it’s not really a request, a very nice doctor is going to informally check to make sure you don’t have a concussion. I saw where you took a couple of blows to the head… I’m glad to hear you’re feeling fine, and I’ll be even happier when my wife tells me you’re okay. See you there… okay, bye.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Maybe a very mild concussion.” Laura said after checking out Claire in the living room of the Mountain Nest, with only me in the room… and my dog Bowser, who was watching Claire very attentively. I wondered if Bowser could sense things…
“Claire,” said Laura, “if you begin feeling dizzy, faint, or sick, I want you to go right up to the hospital and get checked out again.”
“Does that include those symptoms from drinking that swill they call ‘beer’ at the Cop Bar?” Claire asked. I laughed. Laura was a bit less amused.
“You now have an official excuse to drink in extreme moderation.” said Laura. “Doctor’s orders.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Claire said. She saw Bowser studying her. “Hi doggy. How are you?” She let Bowser sniff her hand, then she petted him. Bowser’s wagging tail was one indication of his happiness. He was starting to trust people, some people, which was good considering his near-fatal ordeal in his early puppyhood.
Hugh had been talking to the others in the den, which included Todd, Jeanine (whose pregnancy eryaman escort was really beginning to show now), Phyllis, Teresa, Cindy, Laura’s assistant Gayle Roberts, and Dr. Bonnie Karpathian. Hugh and Todd had talked a good bit with Teresa, I noted. I also observed something else: my mother making a great number of observations, seeing things that seemed to be eluding even me. I made sure to look around again, and I saw what some of it was about. Storm clouds rising, I thought to myself.
As Laura and Claire came back into the den, with Bowser following along, Cindy piped up. “So, Laura, you’re okay with us taking Jim to a birthday celebration at the Cop Bar tonight?”
“Just have him home by his curfew.” Laura joked. “And watch out… his daddy might be teaching him about fake I.D.s” Cindy’s eyes sparkled as she looked at me. Her second victory today.
“Well, there’s a silver lining to it.” I said. “I get an excuse to come home early from that party.”
“My thought exactly.” said Laura with a wily smile on her face. Checkmate. I was whipped again…
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
But it didn’t go badly. Cindy carried Jim into the Cop Bar and held him as she and the Detectives sat at the “Detective’s Table”, which was the table in back left just before the side door to the patio deck. On the other side of that door, just before going into the private back room, was the “Command Table”. Tonight Police Chief Bennett, Fire Chief Quinlin, and the Sheriff Department’s Chief of Staff were there. Obliged to join them, I did so for a few minutes.
The Chief of Staff, Deputy Sheriff Charles T. Oswald, was a big man but not fat, with a big face and white hair. He’d been a member of the County Sheriff Department for well over twenty years, had turned down a previous offer to become Police Chief (before Chief Griswold was hired), and was a master administrator, doing the ‘beans-and-bullets’ job for the entire Public Safety Department.
When he wore his uniform, he had a gold oak leaf cluster, like an Army Major… but the trick was that the Sheriff Department’s gold insignia were the equivalent of the Police Department’s silver ones. Therefore, ‘Chief’ Oswald, as he was colloquially called, was equivalent to myself, Brownlee and Fire Marshal Zoe Singer in rank.
He often met with the Deputy Chief of the Police Department, the Assistant Chief of the Fire Department, and the Assistant Public Health Officer of the Public Health Department to go over equipment counts, orders for supplies, and other such Executive Officer (XO) things. I didn’t really like those meetings, but Chief Bennett was having me go to more and more of them… probably to make sure Deputy Chief Brownlee didn’t create any mischief. But Oswald was straight-up, and if Brownlee tried anything, Oswald was letting me know behind Brownlee’s back. Nice to have friends.
“That your kid?” asked Oswald as I sat down next to him with a pitcher of beer for the table, which was quickly poured into glasses for consumption. “Good looking boy, there.”
“Thanks.” I said. “Today’s his first birthday, and I think Ross and Croyle have something sneaky planned.”
“Not much gets by you, Don.” said Chief Bennett. “I daresay you are right. By the way, we’re instituting a new, or maybe an old, tradition at this table. No ranks, no insignia; if you’re Command Group in any branch, then you’re like an Army General, and here we’re all on a first-name basis. Sheriff is good with that, too.”
“Speaking of him, where is he?” I asked.
“He’ll be back Monday.” Oswald said. “He and his wife went on vacation for Memorial Day, and said they’d take the whole week unless something came up. I told him that with the Iron Crowbar watching over things, he could plan on that full week of vacation.”
“Good.” I said. “And since I let my Crowbar’s Angels keep watch over everything, which makes my job easier, Daniel can relax. I hope he enjoys the time off. He’s been under duress the last month.”
“Any idea why?” asked Oswald? “We’ve noticed he’s been on edge the past month. I always thought he could handle the pressures of the ob, but maybe they’re weighing on him?”
“His wife is pregnant.” I said, not wanting to give the real reason, of course. “And I think he felt the political pressure of that KSTD lawsuit over those Burke tapes.”
“I felt that, myself.” said etimesgut bayan escort Bennett. “As did Krasney and the entire Council.”
We were interrupted by a ringing of a spoon against drinking glass. The bar settled down as Cindy stood up. “Everyone, I would first like to congratulate everyone who participated in the Police Boxing Matches.” There was an acclaim.
“I also have Commander Troy’s son Jim here.” she said, holding Jim up. “Today is Jim’s first birthday.” Louder acclaim. “We have a little present for the Iron Crowbar Junior.” Cindy said as Teresa handed her the newspaper wrapped long object. Cindy and Teresa ‘helped’ Jim open it. It was a small blue crowbar… thankfully made out of soft rubbery foam instead of iron.
“And the crowbar is blue,” Cindy said loudly and happily, “because I dearly hope that Jim will attend his mother’s University, and not his father’s! Go Bulldogs!” Very loud cheering and acclaim, as many in the bar looked over at me. I was laughing, seeing what Cindy and Teresa had wanted to do. Payback would be merciless, I resolved, but for now I rolled with it.
“Your turn to speak.” said Chief Bennett. So I got up and stepped out where everyone could see me near the bar.
“I do appreciate that little gift.” I said. “And it’ll make his mother happy… which means I won’t have to sleep on the sofa this month, so I do thank you for that.” Laughter and loud cheering, especially from the guys.
“I do want to congratulate the winners and runners-up of the Boxing Matches today.” I said, to acclaim. “But I especially want to congratulate all of us, including myself, who participated and got our asses whipped… and lived to tell about it. Salud!” I raised my beer glass and then drank, as did everyone else amongst the cheering… except little Jim, whose fake ID did not fool the wily bartender and owner of the establishment.
“Let’s sing Happy Birthday to ‘Bulldog Jim’!” shouted someone, who I would later learn was the mischievous Micah Rudistan. A strong chorus began:
“Happy birthday tooo you,
Happy birthday toooo youuuu;
Happy birth-day, Bull-dog Ji-immmmm,
Ha-ppy birth-day toooo youuuuuuu…
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Only a few minutes later, I left the Cop Bar with little ‘Bulldog Jim’. The party was getting louder and more raucous, and Jim had fallen asleep. Chief Bennett and Deputy Oswald had also walked out with me and we made our way to our separate cars.
As I strapped Jim into his child safety seat in my mother’s car, which I had driven tonight instead of my Police SUV, I felt the hair on the back of my neck rising, and a very strange feeling come over me… as if there were eyes watching me. I looked around in every direction, but saw nothing. Going around and getting into the driver’s seat, I again looked around warily in every direction. I didn’t have any night vision devices with me, so I couldn’t look into the darkness.
I was careful driving home. I quickly took right turns and a couple of fast left turns where it was safe to do so. I zig-zagged my way back home, finally convincing myself that I was not being followed.
Once home, Laura took over the duties of putting Jim to bed while I took Bowser out back to do his business. I looked up at the new Cabin; only a streetlight in the driveway was lit, the rest of the house shrouded in darkness. As Bowser finished his business and looked around his perimeter, I no longer had the feeling of being watched, but I knew to be on my guard… the hammer was coming down on Henry R. Wargrave, and he was now a cool and desperate man.
Part 2 – Femme Fatale
At just before 5:00am on the morning of Saturday, June 13th, I was roused out of sleep by a phone call. It was SBI Deputy Director Tom Conlan. He said that the City had requested me personally as an SBI Reservist to come to the City to investigate a murder, and that Cindy and I were authorized, and requested, to go.
I called Cindy, only to find out she’d been called by DD Conlan already. I went and picked her up in my Police SUV, and we headed east. I was burning the blue lights and drove at speeds in excess of 90 miles per hour on the nearly-empty highway.
“Oh, I meant to ask you.” I said to Cindy as we hurtled down the road, “Did you ever find out anything about the Widow Athena Jones?”
“Oh! Gosh, I’d forgotten about that.” Cindy said, as she looked out the side window. “The answer to your question is ‘no’. I followed up on an address Rita gave me, but it turned out to be a dead end. I looked around the area a bit, but she’s not showing herself these days.”
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