Saturday, November 29, 2014

Aphrodite Shuddered - Chapter 5

Chapter 5
Dirty Laundry

The headline on the front page of Saturday's Seattle Post-Impressionist:
Suspect's Uzi Linked to Shooting of Prince County Child
This being an election year, I presumed that the local sheriff breathed easier upon learning the results of the ballistics comparison of the dead suspect's Uzi against the spent slugs and shells recovered at the scene of the drive-by shooting. In the midst of the Grand Jury's police-corruption probe, the last thing the Sheriff's Office needed right now was another public relations crisis. However, in this particular instance of Black-Man-Killed-By-Cop, few citizens expressed concern over the elimination of a thug who put a little girl's life in jeopardy, even as the evidence proved that he had not fired shots at the deputies.

* * *
For the next three weeks, Angie and I stayed at less costly temporary lodgings, at a tolerable motel near downtown Seattle, far from the criminal iniquity of the Sea-Tac Airport area. I had asked Tina to join us there, but again she flatly refused, on this occasion citing the reason that she had no intention of - quoting her exactly - “sleepin' on crusty cum-stained motel sheets.” I could only assume that Hilton was very scrupulous in cleaning its linen.

While living at the motel, we devoted our time to hunting for a house or apartment to replace our trashed-out mobile home, to which I had made only a single furtive visit in the early morning in order to board-up the broken windows and grab personal belongings. Our funky old second-hand furniture could be hauled to the city dump, as far as I was concerned.

On Sunday afternoon, less than 48 hours after the dreadful excitement of the drive-by shooting(s), my work week commenced. I was one of the few employees working that day at the 15-story Xeno Building. After loading the company's Unisys mainframe with enough programs and computer tapes to keep it running virtually unattended for hours, I was able to catch-up with my phone messages. Aside from the usual pleas from computer users for technical support, there was a message was from a representative of MJ Recruiters, an employment agency (ostensibly), which had been trying to recruit me, on and off, for the past six years, ever since my military discharge from the United States Air Force in 1980. They had an uncanny knack of knowing whenever I was considering changing jobs or about to get laid-off. Seemingly not by coincidence, it wasn't going to be long before I found out whether my position at Xeno would be cut. If the past was any indication, getting contacted by those “headhunters” at this time made my upcoming unemployment almost a certainty.

MJ Recruiters must have been acting as a front for US intelligence agencies (ultimately for the CIA), since little else could explain their keen, long-term interest in me. There was nothing special about me, except that while working as a low-level analyst in Air Force Intelligence, I had been allowed access to extremely sensitive classified information, referred-to as “ESI”. Having once possessed a security clearance with ESI access made me a convenient, ready-made candidate for employment within the intelligence community. In spy agency jargon, I was considered “pre-vetted'. But because they didn't offer much more money than I could make on the outside, I had always politely rebuffed their persistent recruiting efforts. Furthermore, I had grown weary of the melodramatically secretive and somewhat depressing way of life which goes hand-in-hand with intelligence work. That's why I had decided to leave the Air Force in the first place, despite being offered a lucrative bonus to re-enlist.

* * *
After work that night, Angie and I managed to catch this report on the late local news on TV: “...The man killed by Prince County deputies last Friday has been identified as 22-year old Gary Matthew Edwards, who, according to officers in the sheriff's Gang Unit, had ties to a local street gang called the BWMs. Edwards had previous run-ins with the law...”

When an old police mug shot of Edwards appeared on-sceen, Angie let out a gasp. “Oh my God, I've seen him somewhere before, Den!”

“How could you? You're joking, right?” But for some reason, the longer I viewed the photo, the more familiar he appeared to me, as well.

Flapping her dainty hands in excitement, she said, “No, no, wait-a-minute, where did I see him at? Oh yeah, at the New Year's party at A.J.'s apartment! Everybody there called him 'G'.”

I exhaled heavily. “Well, that only confirms what I already suspected.” Having said that, it suddenly struck me: “G” was one of the two men I had seen balling Marta and the other young chicks to a fare-thee-well on the video tape.

Before going at work on Monday, I called Detective Jameson from a pay phone. I had already decided against accusing him of having an information leak in his office. Because if that happened to be true, there was no sense in making wild accusations and possibly face retribution from corrupt cops. Now that we had moved away, and with Edwards dead and A.J. on the run, I would leave bad-enough alone. So rather than shooting my mouth off, I merely gave Jameson new information pertaining to the sex video: that Gary Matthew Edwards was one of the three men in the video. Jameson replied, “Really? The same Edwards those deputies just put on a slab? Hang-on a second, Denny.” He then punched-up Edwards' mug shot onto his computer screen. “I'll be damned, it sure looks like him. I'll have to take another look at that tape.”

“On the news they reported that Edwards was in the BWMs, and I know that Davis is, so maybe the other guy on the tape is too.”

He wasn't overly impressed by my powers of inductive reasoning : “It's a lead, at any rate.” Then he abruptly shifted gears, as if to catch me with my guard down: “Denny, why didn't you tell me that you witnessed that drive-by shooting of the kid? I'm looking at the incident report right now, which includes your field interview with Sergeant Kronwall of the Gang Unit. Kronwall writes, 'Witness SMITH, DENTON T advised that he believed he was targeted by perp, possible suspect DAVIS, ANTHONY J and/or unknown BWM gang associates'.” Then Jameson admonished, “This is a big county, Denny, and we can't be everywhere simultaneously. Had you told me right away, Davis might be behind bars right now.” And if I had told him right away, I could have received police protection, thus sparing myself from Davis' subsequent attempt on my life, I might have added - but didn't.

Instead I hesitantly said, “Well, I wasn't sure if I could trust you guys anymore, to be honest. I never had to worry about fuckers shooting at me until I gave you that sex tape.”

Skeptically - or so it sounded to me - he replied, “Next thing you'll be telling me is that we got a BWM spy working in this office.”

“Hey, you didn't hear that from me. Listen, if the County Prosecutor wants me to testify against Davis someday, I have no problem with that. But until then, I'm keeping my mouth zipped.”

* * *
April 3, 1986
The day after Angie and I had moved into our new apartment, the law finally caught-up with Davis. His arrest set in motion a chain of events which would eventually expose a criminal network far more extensive than I could imagine at the time.

Here's the gist of the story of his arrest and the immediate aftermath: In the month since I had last spoken to Jameson, the sheriff's Vice Squad, in conjunction with the Gang Unit, obtained court orders authorizing the monitoring of the home phones of Davis' associates in the BWM gang. After two weeks of electronic and physical surveillance, the cops traced him to a BWM stash-house located in a quiet, upscale suburban neighborhood. In addition to collaring Davis and two of his gang cohorts, the Sheriff's Office had seized several kilos of a new type of smoke-able cocaine called “crack”, a kilo of pure China White heroin and a large amount of cash. But what garnered the most media attention was what had been discovered in a bedroom and in the garage. In one bedroom they had come across two underage Asian females, Chinese citizens who had been smuggled into the US, probably hidden inside shipping containers . And inside the attached garage was what was alleged to be a makeshift video studio. As a result, dozens of video tapes were also seized, to be closely examined for suspected child porn content. Davis, who was considered a high flight-risk, had been denied bail and would remain in Prince County Jail indefinitely.

That night, during a brief press conference which was broadcast live on local TV, beleaguered Sheriff Pat Nuttingham beamed with pride as he laid-out in sordid detail the allegations which I have just described. By the time he was finished, his arms must have gotten sore from patting himself on the back. 

Copyright 2014 by K.D. Bishop 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mayor Grants Pardon to Soy-bean Product

In a display of compassion to the Plant Kingdom (or perhaps cynical political pandering to vegan voters?), Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has granted a pardon to a mass of tofu molded in the form of a Thanksgiving turkey. His act of mercy parallels the traditional Thanksgiving Presidential Pardon of an actual turkey, aside from the fact that a "tofurkey" is already dead. Beyond the silliness, though, the purpose of the "pardon" was to publicize a holiday food drive for local food banks. We only hope that the food banks don't give tofurkeys to the hungry!...Only in Seattle!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Aphrodite Shuddered - Chapter 4

Chapter 4
Hotel No-Tell

Seconds later:
The police vehicles surrounding the Monte Carlo had caused such a massive traffic snarl that I had little to fear at this time from A.J., whose car was stuck at least two blocks behind mine. Moreover, obstacles such as trees and a Metro bus shelter prevented him from copying my desperate act of driving on the sidewalk. Nevertheless, I kept a vigilant watch in the rear-view mirrors.

Finally turning the corner onto International Boulevard, I noticed the Monte Carlo's wire wheels, which caused a shudder of recognition as I relived the terror of the drive-by shooting outside Laverne's apartment. Then I wondered why a blue tarp covered the driver's side of the car - until the sight of the Medical Examiner's van answered my question. I obtained grim satisfaction from that, tinged with guilt because I was glad he was dead.

The moment my car cleared the long line of emergency vehicles, I floored the accelerator and wasted no time in covering the last half-mile to the Hilton. While parked behind four cars that were waiting for valet service at the hotel's front entrance, I frantically shoved the shotgun back inside the duffel bag, which I then I tossed into the trunk.

When I got to the front of the line, the middle-aged parking valet looked askance at my 1969 Camero with its spiderweb of cracks in the windshield. Getting behind the wheel, he looked through the windshield - or attempted to - and observed, “You must have a hard time seeing anything at night.”

Slightly embarrassed, I muttered, “Had a little accident just now.” I took out my wallet and asked, “Say, do you know Tina at the front desk?”

His eyes said “yes” but his reply was a non-committal hemming-and-hawing: “Ahhh, well, you know. I'm not supposed to give-out information about the staff or our guests.”

I handed him a 20-dollar bill and said, “That's okay - I'm not looking for information. Would you just let her know if you see a green, late-model BMW pull up? That'll be her crazy ex-boyfriend, and she wants nothing to do with him anymore. He's about 35, black - ”

“Oh yeah, I think I know the guy you're talking about. Do you mean A.J.?” Astonished by his reply, I nodded vigorously and slipped him another 20. His mood brightening, he said with a sly wink, “Unlike yourself, he's a real lousy tipper. I'll call the desk if I see him.” Entering the clinically sterile lobby, I idly wondered how often A.J. had come here in the past, being that the valet had recalled him so readily.

Seeing the weekend hustle and bustle of the lobby, I came to the conclusion that Tina was as safe here as most anywhere else. When I got to the front desk, Tina looked me over and said, “You look like hell, Herc. What happened to your homely face? Did Angie claw you or somethin'?”

Not wanting to distract her from her hectic job, I merely replied, “No, it's nothing, really. Hey, I told one of the valets to let you know if A.J. shows up here.”

“We already got it covered, Herc. Hotel security'll call the cops if they see 'is ass.”

“Great - then I just paid that parking lot scammer 40 bucks for basically nothing. So, how much is this luxurious penthouse suite gonna set me back?”

Abruptly shifting to her smoothly officious mode, she replied, “Sir, since you don't have a reservation, I'm afraid the penthouse suites are unavailable tonight. However, we do have a nice room on the 10th-floor, with a spectacular view of the Sea-Tac control tower - 179-dollars, double occupancy.”

I flopped a credit card down on the counter and grumbled, “Now I know we'll only be staying here for one night.”

“Live a little for a change, Herc.”

“After all the shit that went down today, I'm glad to be living period.

Angie, who had been caught in the same traffic jam as I, then came into the lobby. She and I then went up to our room. After getting off the crowded elevator, I told her what had just happened to me. “A.J. just tried to kill me, Angie - on the way here.” Now all the built-up fear and stress began pouring out, making my hands and knees tremble all over again as I fumbled with the room key. “Today's been fucking nuts - I wish we were a thousand miles away from here!”

Right after entering the room, I dropped to the bed in exhaustion. Rubbing my closed eyes, I then felt Angie cuddle-up next to me. “Denny, you're shaking.” She put an arm around my chest. “It's okay honey, everything will work out - it always does.”

“I tried to do the right thing for once in my life, Angie, and look what happened. That little girl could die, thanks to me,“ I groaned.

She hugged me tighter. “Come on, Denny, you know it's not your fault.”

“I was so na├»ve, going to the cops. I should have known better, considering how they let this area turn into a fucking hell hole since we moved here. Have you watched the news or read the paper lately? From what I've seen, the Sheriff's Department is the biggest criminal gang in the county.”

“Do you think that vice cop told A.J. that you gave him information?”

“Jameson? I thought he did, at first. But it could just as well have been a civilian employee in the department with ties to A.J.'s gang - a file clerk, secretary, whoever.”

“You mean, like, a girlfriend or relative?”

Drowsily I replied, “Yeah.” The radiating warmth of Angie's petit body was very comforting and reassuring, so with a sigh, I immediately dropped-off to sleep. About an hour later, the explosive brrrapp! rat-a-tat-tat! of automatic-weapons fire awakened me with an adrenaline-charged jolt. “What the fuck!” But it was merely the movie Rambo: First Blood Part Two on television, at full volume.

“Oh, Den, I'm sorry! I just turned it on - I didn't realize it would be so loud.”

I stretched my arms and said with a yawn, “That's all right - I feel a lot better now.” I then walked out onto the balcony for a minute for some fresh air. Going back inside, I stopped short, staring at the room and its contents in disbelief.

After about 30 seconds of my standing unblinkingly like a statue, Angie sat up in bed and asked, “Is there anything wrong, Den?”

“No, I'm just admiring the place - nice, huh.”

She reclined again and said, “Hell yes. And I love this giant bed, like floating on a cloud.”

Viewing the room from this angle, I was struck by the fact that it looked much like the one where A.J. had made the sex tape with Marta and two other underage girls, right down to the framed lithographed watercolor of Mount Fuji. Of course, it probably wasn't the exact room. It chilled me to consider the possibility that Tina had been on duty when A.J. had somehow smuggled the three girls upstairs. The tall, willowy, sophisticated Marta could effortlessly pass for 21, thus she might have accompanied the other two girls in the hotel without drawing undue attention from the busy staff or from the hundreds of guests. Although his turning a hotel room into an impromptu child porn studio was very risky, legally speaking, utilizing any other location (such as an apartment) would have been just as risky, or nearly so. Whichever way you slice it, sexual predators are not known for having a brilliant decision-making ability.

As Rambo machine-gunned another dozen Vietnamese soldiers, I grabbed the TV remote, muttering, “I'm not really in the mood for this right now.” I clicked through the channels until my attention was seized by a reporter standing in front of a multitude of flashing red and blue lights. An on-screen graphic read: Live from Sea-Tac. I exclaimed, “Angie, look! This is about that car they pulled-over right down the street. They might even be the same scumbags who shot that girl and destroyed our fucking house!”

The reporter was saying: “...I'm standing at the intersection of South 188th Street and International Boulevard, where a suspect in this afternoon's shooting of an 8-year old girl was allegedly shot and killed by Prince County deputies during a traffic stop. The Sheriff's Public Affairs Officer is here with me - Sergeant Flaherty, were any weapons fired by the suspect, or found in the car?”

Flaherty relied, “Yes, deputies discovered an Uzi-type weapon with a 30-round clip on the front seat.”

“Is there evidence that the suspect fired at police officers?”

“That information is being withheld pending the completion of the crime scene investigators' report.”

“How many officers were involved?”

“There were two officers who discharged their weapons. As of now, they both have been placed on administrative leave.”
While watching the rest of the largely uninformative interview, I thought again about the question I had first asked myself two hours ago: did the sheriff's deputies kill the guy in order to silence him? Since he had royally fucked-up by shooting a child, he was now expendable - or so I imagined. One thing was certain: if he had possessed first-hand knowledge about corruption in the Sheriff's Office, he conveniently was no longer in a position to trade that information in exchange for a lighter sentence.

Copyright 2014 by K.D. Bishop