This was originally written in the mid 90’s, it’s undergone several rewrites but the main story is still the same. It is set in the Collegium universe but centers on some new characters.
I’m trying something a little different this time, instead of posting the entire story, or the first page and linking to a doc, I’m going to post it a chapter at a time.
“Robert 55, 57.”
Officer Wilhelm reached for the mike, casting a side glance at his new partner to make sure she wasn’t reaching as well. A rise in violence against police officers had brought about changes in how some departments handled road patrols. Fairfax PD’s answer had been to start assigning two officers to a cruiser. Thad was still getting use to the idea of having someone in the car with him all the time.
“Robert 55, go ahead.”
“Welfare check, 3632 Parklane Road.”
Thad grimaced faintly before answering. “55, clear.”
“You’re clear at 2115 hours.”
“Welfare checks,” he muttered hanging up the mike. He punched the message display switch to call up the printed dispatch, and additional information. “52 year old male, lives alone. Hasn’t been seen since mid-afternoon. Car still in the drive. No lights on in the house. Complainant is a neighbor.”
“Sounds fun.” Rhea Yokama nodded. “Probably out with some of his buddies.” She swung the cruiser around and headed for Old Lee Highway.
“No doubt,” Thad snorted softly as he hit the ‘en route’ key. A few minutes later they were driving down a quiet residential street populated with homes built shortly after World War II.
“Well, they were right about the lights being off. Still bet he’s out for the night, and forgot to ‘check-in’.” Rhea chuckled softly as she turned the cruiser into the driveway. After telling dispatch that they had arrived, they got out of the car and walked towards the front porch.
“Mr. Jacques?” Rhea called out as she rang the bell. After waiting a moment, with no response, she tried the bell again. This time Thad called.
“Mr. Jacques? Police, Mr. Jacques, is everything all right?” He tried the door when no reply was received. “Check round back?” he asked, cocking an eyebrow at Rhea.
“Sounds good to me. You take the right side, I’ll go left.” Thad nodded and hopped off the porch.
He paused and looked in each window as he moved slowly around the house, trying to see if he could detect anything that might be unusual. Unlatching the gate to a tall wooden fence that separated the yard from a local park, he moved into the backyard, after quickly scanning the yard he moved back to the house He stopped and pointed his flashlight in one of the rear windows. Someone was lying on the floor. He scrambled to the back door and tried it; it was locked. “Robert 55 to Dispatch.” He keyed his portable radio with one hand while he grabbed his baton and snapped it open with the other.
“Go ahead Robert 55.” Dispatch answered promptly.
“Get me a 45. I’ve got a man down,” Thad called into his shoulder mike. Stepping to the side of the door, he solidly rapped the glass above the lock.
“You’re clear, Robert 55. Squad will be en route. 2129 hours.” Dispatch’s voice carried over the sound of breaking glass.
“I’ve got the kit, Thad.” Rhea ran over towards him, emergency trauma kit in hand, as he reached in to unlock the door. It took him an extra second to find, and release, the deadbolt. Rhea was inside before he could get the door open by more than a few feet. Thad moved past her to unlock the front door and get some lights on before the squad arrived. “Rhea?” he called over his shoulder.
“I’m not gettin’ a pulse, or respiration. Starting C.P.R.” She delayed just long enough to slip on a pair of latex gloves then rolled Mr. Jacques over, placing him in the proper position. She paused again as something bright caught her eye. “Shit!” Rhea exclaimed as saw the bright red stain. “He’s been shot!”
“Go ahead and start C.P.R., there may still be a chance,” Thad directed as he reached for his mike. “Robert 55, Dispatch. Tell Squad to step it up. We have a code here.”
“You’re clear, Robert 55. 2132 hours.”
Thad dropped down on the other side of Mr. Jacques and yanked bandages, and a set of gloves, out of the kit. He quickly snapped the gloves on, and then centered the covering over the wound. Holding the dressings in place with one hand, he ran the other down Mr. Jacques’ side and back, trying to see if the shot had gone completely through. He stopped when he felt something wet and sticky near the waist. Thad stared at his damp, sticky, hand puzzled. It appeared as if the bullet had exited down by the waist. That meant that the shot had been at an extreme angle or the bullet had tumbled. “Anything?” he asked as Rhea shifted to start compressions again. She shook her head in mid stroke. He glanced briefly at the man’s face, and then looked back, frowning.
The front door all but bounced off its hinges as the first of the life squad stormed into the room. Thad and Rhea quickly rolled out of his way as more of the squad members entered.
While the squad worked to salvage something of Jacques, Thad stripped off his gloves, slipped on another pair, and then walked around the living room and kitchen areas. He found that all the doors were, or had been, locked with a deadbolt or a night chain. The windows were securely latched. The only thing he found open was a dog door in the kitchen. There was no sign of forced entry, or exit. Nor was there any sign of someone hiding on the premises. He returned to the living room in time to see the senior paramedic shaking her head. “EKG flat, no response to defib, skin exhibits a pallor, and we’ve had massive blood loss. I’d say this man is beyond our help.”
“I’ll call for a coroner to declare. Rhea sighed and keyed her shoulder mike. “Robert 57, Dispatch.”
“Robert 57 go ahead.”
“I need a 10-79 and a supervisor.”
“Robert 57 clear at 2150 hours.”
“Rhea, I’m going to do a full walk through, make sure the house is secure.” Thad jerked a thumb towards the back of the house. Rhea just nodded and turned back to watch the paramedics.
Thad checked the window in the bedrooms, looking in the closets, under the beds, and anywhere a person could hide, for signs of anyone in the house, and then started looking through the top dresser drawers and the jewelry box. He growled in mild frustration as he closed the last drawer.
“It’s not here. I didn’t see it on him. I’m sure it’s him so, where is it? He would have kept it someplace safe, but where he could get to it. Maybe he does have it on, and I missed it.” He returned to the living room. The shift supervisor, Lt. Wall, had arrived and was standing near the middle of the room with one of the homicide detectives quietly talking while they waited for the coroner.
“All the doors and windows are secure, sir. There is no sign of anyone hiding on the premises.”
“Good,” the lieutenant nodded. “Have we found the gun?”
“No, we haven’t,” Rhea told him.
“You checked outside?”
“Better do that then. We don’t want some neighbor kid finding it and shooting their friends.”
“No, we don’t.” Thad emphatically shook his head. He stepped over to pick up the flashlight he had dropped when they arrived. While doing so he took a close look at the man’s face and neck. The shirt collar was worn and frayed slightly on the insides, as if he wore a moderately heavy chain: a chain that was not there now. He started for the door before the lieutenant could repeat his order, passing the coroner as he walked out.
“Any luck?” Thad asked as he stepped out. Rhea was talking to an off-duty officer who was standing by the front door. He could see the shadows of neighbors standing in their driveways, watching, trying to see why there was an ambulance and several police cars parked at the end of the street.
“Not so far. We got two other teams searching.”
“Slater and Hendricks and Compten and Kimple. The guys are checkin’ the back yard. The girls are checking the front.”
“Nice. What about the garage area?”
“That’s next.” She nodded in that direction and started moving.
They searched in relative silence for several minutes, the beams from their flashlights dancing across the grass.
“Hey, Wilhelm,” Kathy Compten called from the front corner of the house, stopping the search. “Thought you might like to know, Mills is coming with the dog.”
“Good idea,” Rhea nodded. “Searching that park out back is going to be hard.”
The sound of a car engine brought them to the corner. They looked around in time to see the canine handler open the rear door for the dog. A large black and tan German Shepherd leapt out. At just over two foot tall and around ninety pounds, Panzer presented a very impressive image.
“He is beautiful.”
“He’s also extremely intelligent.”
Rhea turned to stare at her partner in mild shock for the second time. “I thought you didn’t’ like dogs?” Something in his voice spoke of some familiarity with the dog.
“All right, so Panzer is one of the only dogs I can get along with,” Thad half growled, looking back around the corner. “Besides, he has quite an impressive reputation within the department.”
Panzer moved purposely towards the front door, Mills half a step behind. He paused briefly at the door, barked once to get someone’s attention. The door opened and Panzer walked in. The two-footed officers returned to their search.
Inside, Panzer walked towards the body. He nosed it for a few seconds, and then started walking around the room in an ever widening spiral. When he moved towards the bedroom without his handler, the coroner turned to Mills.
“Aren’t you going to stay with your dog?”
Mills paused in his conversation with Lt. Wall. “Panzer? Nope. If he needs me, he’ll call.”
“I thought handlers were supposed to stay with the dogs, in case they get distracted.”
“All I do with Panzer is drive the car and open the doors. He does the rest by himself. Works better without someone standing right behind him actually. In fact,” Ron laughed, “if he could figure out how to get the key in the ignition and turn it, he wouldn’t need me at all.”
“Interesting.” The coroner turned to watch as Panzer moved out of the bedroom, back through the main room, and into the kitchen. A soft half whine brought Mills and Lt. Wall into the kitchen. They found Panzer standing in front of the kitchen door, looking intently at the dog door.
“What ya got, Panz?” Mills asked, absently rubbing Panzer’s ears.
Panzer barked once and pushed at the small swinging door with his nose.
“Panz, you could barely fit through that. There’s no way a human could.”
Panzer looked back at Mills and snorted.
“Perhaps he has something.” Lt. Wall turned and started back towards the living room. Mills and Panzer followed a few steps behind. “An adult man, of average build, might not be able to fit through. But a youth, or a small woman might be able to.”
“That’s a thought.”
In the living room the coroner was in the process of loading the body onto a cot, preparing to remove it. As he pulled the sheet over Mr. Jacques’ face one of the officers came in and reported that they had been unable to locate the gun anywhere, inside or outside.
“All right, tell the others to seal the house and cordon off the perimeter. We’ll need to have one unit stay in the area and watch the house. The others will return to their patrol. We’ll let homicide take over.” He nodded at the homicide detective standing a few feet away.
“Yes, sir.” Slater nodded, turned and headed out.
“Mills, take Panzer around the outside of the house. See if he’ll hit on anything. Make sure to focus near the park.” Mills nodded and motioned Panzer towards the door.
An hour later, after a futile search of the yard and the immediate region of the park Thad and Rhea closed the cruiser doors.
“Well you did say you wanted some action, Thad.”
“That wasn’t exactly the kind of action I was thinking of,” Thad half laughed.
Chapter II will go up next week.