Excerpt for Madtown Redux by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Mad Town

Perry Jewell

Copyright 2018 Perry Jewell

Smashworks Edition

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places. And incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

    1. Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 1

I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed the snow and winter until I stepped down on to the tarmac in Madison. It had been better than ten years since I had left home and in all my travels I hadn’t made it back to snow country for a winter. There had been too many Christmases spent in rotting green jungles or blazing dry deserts. Granted, I had volunteered to be there but I had had no urge to go home. My parents had divorced about the time I left and both had remarried and moved on. Two siblings, both older had done likewise to lord only knows where. I felt a sharp pang of regret that we had never really been all that close as a family and none of us had made much of an attempt to keep in touch over the years. We were a family of loners with me being the worst.

As I stood looking over the snow I heard a discreet cough behind me. Without looking I stepped to the side.

“First time in the snow?”

I glanced over at the speaker. It was the cool elegant type I had noticed getting on the plane in Chicago. I had guessed her as some kind of professional, probably a lawyer from the papers she had taken from her hand tooled briefcase as soon as she had taken her seat. Her clothes were off the rack, a very expensive exclusive rack, and her auburn hair was done up in an intricate coronet braid. She reminded me of a red headed Grace Kelly from To Catch a Thief. What had surprised me were her eyes. They were a pale brown, shading towards the color of old gold coins. They were absolutely stunning in their impact.

“Not really. Its more of a homecoming.” I said smiling. Her answering smile was more brilliant than the sun on the snow.

“Well then, welcome home. I’m Claire Bennings.”

Her handshake was firm in spite of the cold. There was a brisk wind out of the northwest buffeting us with dry arctic air. She was bundled in a large fur coat, the collar turned up high around her neck. My black leather coat was half open. I guessed the temperature at about ten degrees with a pretty stiff wind chill taking it well below zero but after the heat and humidity I was used to I was reluctant to zip it up.

“Lane Garrison. Do you live in Madison or are you here on business?”

“I live here. I’m an attorney with the Attorney General’s office.” She shivered and clutched her coat tighter. “Mr. Garrison, I don’t mean to sound pushy but…”

“Could we continue this talk in the terminal? Out of this wind?” I finished for her.

“Yes, please.”

We headed for the terminal at a brisk walk. I could feel her glance at me several times during the short trip but she didn’t speak again until we were well inside the terminal and headed for the baggage claim area.

“How could you stand that cold with just that light jacket?”

“I couldn’t. I was just as cold as you.”

She looked at me questioningly.

“Like I said, this is a homecoming. I’ve been gone a long time and I just didn’t have it in me to notice the cold all that much. And what I did notice was an enjoyable change. Give me a few days and I’ll notice it right away. Right now its too well remembered to be a problem.”

“You’re a rather eloquent man when you want to be.”

I laughed as the carousel rumbled to life.

“And out of place here with that tan. May I ask where you got it?”

“Not at all. I just finished a job in Spain two days ago.”

“Spain? What kind of job?”

“Construction. I was the assistant field manager on a road and bridge project down near Cadiz.”

My flight bag came by so I hefted it off and set it at my feet.

“Which one is yours?”

“You don’t have to…”

“I know. Which one?”

“ that blue overnight.”

It came over so I picked it off the belt and grabbed my own, slinging the strap over my shoulder.

“It really isn’t necessary, you know.”

I just smiled. She was watching me again, trying to decide something. I motioned towards the door and she fell in to step beside me.

“I’m heading downtown if you don’t have a ride. Could I drop you somewhere?”

She hesitated at the doors, studying me with serious eyes then gave me another smile. Lower wattage. Like Mona’s.

The cab was warm and the lady sitting next to me had opened her coat. She was watching me with open curiosity while I watched the passing scenery. Her attention only registered on a small portion of my mind as my thoughts went over, for what seemed the hundredth time since Chicago, what it was going to be like to see my old friends again. I was torn between excitement and apprehension.

“Are you always so rude, Mr. Garrison?”

I took a slow deep breath and brought my attention back to the inside of the cab. I liked the gently mocking tone in her voice and the mischievous glint in her eyes.

“Not usually. I’m afraid I have a lot on my mind.”

“You must. I haven’t had a man deliberately ignore me since I was twelve.”

“I can imagine.”

“You make me wonder if I’ve forgotten my makeup or something.”

“You could forget your makeup and still turn every eye in a hundred yard range.”

She smiled demurely.

“I was beginning to wonder if you had noticed.”

I laughed and shook my head.

“Hardly, Miss Bennings.”

“Claire, please.”

“All right, Claire. You’re a lady used to being noticed and appreciated. You know damned well the effect you have on men.”

Her smile faltered a second.

“Most men. Or should I say members of the male species?”

“And I’m not?”

“I don’t know. Yet. You seem different somehow.”

“How different?”

She put her finger to her lips and those golden eyes watched me closely. Meeting those eyes was both easy and difficult. Easy because she was very beautiful. Difficult because there was something behind them that kept trying to reach out to me. The mood shifted as they grabbed hold and suddenly the inside of the cab became too close. We both felt it. Luckily we were pulling up to the Capitol and the cabbie said as much. He stopped and went to get her bag. Claire took a slow deep breath then blinked rapidly bringing the lady attorney back.

“A strange man.”

She quickly got out of the cab then leaned back in the open door.

“You intrigue the hell out of me, Garrison. I’m going to be a brazen hussy and ask when I’m going to see you again.”

I caught a hint of a question that she wasn’t used to asking.

“I’ll be busy for a few days. How about after Christmas?”

She smiled and shook her head.

“And I suppose there’s no way I can get in touch with you.”

“Try the Villa Roma. Lew Apollaro will be able to get a message to me.”

Her eyes met mine and the rapport flared briefly.

“I’m in the book.”

Chapter 2

I paid the cabbie and stood on the snowy sidewalk outside the Villa Roma. It hadn’t changed. The windowless white walls were still covered in posters and graffiti. Different from the SDS slogans I remembered but in the same general vein. The place was only a couple of blocks off campus and still an open wall political forum. I remembered it for its excellent cheap Italian food. For a struggling underclassman it was always a treat to come down to the Villa and pig out on pasta and dago red. Old Tony Apollaro, Lew’s dad, had been generous.

Old Tony. Short, fat balding patriarch from the old country. He had a voice like a gator’s bellow and a damn hard hand. I had bussed tables for him for pocket money my one semester at the U. It was where I had met Lew when he came back on leave to visit. He was a few years older than me but I had a season of charter boat crewing down in Florida under my belt and the wander itch growing. That one semester had been all my budget could handle and I really had no idea what I was doing in college so I had enlisted one step ahead of the draft board. I had gone Sea Bee so I had spent the prerequisite time in Ho’s paradise but things were winding down by the time I got there. I had run into Lew again there. He was a seasoned second lieutenant running the Quartermaster group at the base I was attached to for over six months. We both managed to make it through our tour in country. After Lew rotated out I was working on an airstrip near Cam Loc when word had reached me about Tony. By that time he had been in the ground almost two weeks. I sent my regrets and got an open invitation to visit whenever I was in town.

The front door was still locked so I walked around back. The kitchen was open for deliveries so I went in. The smells of garlic and tomato wrapped around me like an old friend’s hug bringing back memories of dirty dishes and late nights with old Tony pushing us hard in that gravely voice. I set my bag in a corner and headed for the double swinging doors that led to the restaurant proper. The cooks gave me a quizzical look so I smiled and waved. Beyond the doors I could hear a heated discussion with a familiar growling tone. I swung the door open quietly and looked inside. At the bar a short man was waving his arms as he yelled at a trim young man in a suit. I gathered he worked for a liquor distributor and his company hadn’t come through with a part of a promised order. Lew was heavier than I remembered but four years of running an Italian restaurant can sometimes do that to a person. As I walked up behind Lew I could hear the salesman’s pitch and I could see why Lew was angry.

“Listen, I’ve got other customers who had their orders in first. I can’t just arbitrarily decide who gets what. The computer lays out the schedule and there isn’t anything I can do about it.”

“You know what you can do with your computer. Villa Roma has been buying from Abco for almost twenty years. When I ask for an order and you say you can do it, I want it done. I don’t want excuses.”

“We do the best we can. I can see if there’s…”

Lew made a disgusted sound and waved the man off.

“Excuse me. Mr. Apollaro, I don’t like interrupting but I couldn’t help hearing the discussion and I think I can help you.”

Lew turned like a cat and glared at me, a hot reply on his lips. When he recognized me his eyes narrowed a touch and a hint of a grin touched his mouth.

“Yes, Mr.?”

“Wayne, Jonathan Wayne.” I took out my wallet and handed him one of the various business cards I had collected over the years. Lew palmed it in his big hand so the salesman couldn’t see it.

“I represent a distributor who is new to the Madison area. We cater to the specialty restaurants over in the Fox Valley and we’ve been expanding down the 151 corridor. I can safely guarantee we can supply you with the best in liquors and wines at fair prices. We’ve been working with some of the finest restaurants and we know how to deliver the products you need, when you need them. We are a family owned business and we believe in keeping relations with our customers on a personal basis. Computers are great organizers but they’re not very good at dealing with problems. Wouldn’t you agree, Mr. Apollaro?”

All during my pitch, the other salesman had tried to hide his growing discomfort. He craned his neck trying to read my card but Lew kept it well hidden.

“Yeah, I like it. How soon can you get me what I need?”

“Lew, there’s no reason to go to another distributor.” The salesman put in anxiously. “We can get the rest of your order by this afternoon.”

Lew gave the clown his best withering glare.

“What about your computer?”

“I’ll find a way to work around it. Please, Lew. Give me a chance to see what I can do before you make a decision.”

Lew thought for a minute. How he could keep that black glare on his face was beyond me. It was all I could do to keep from laughing. I thought the poor guy was going to cry when Lew relented.

“Alright. You get until 2 to get this mess straightened out. You get one more chance. Screw it up and I’ll go with Wayne here. Now go get me my product.”

The salesman pumped Lew’s hand, his feet already shuffling towards the door.

“You won’t regret this Lew. Abco will take care of you.”

“It damn well better.”

Lew waited until the door swung shut before his face split in a grin and he grabbed me up in a bear hug.

“Lane, you old pirate, how the hell are you? Damn, it’s good to see you.”

He let me loose but kept his hands on my shoulders.

“John Wayne. For Christ’s sake, you couldn’t come up with something more original? I don’t believe the putz bought it. Well, dammit, don’t you have anything to say?”

“I would if you’d shut up for a second.”

“So talk. What the hell brings you to Madison? Without a call or letter or nothing to tell your old friends you’re coming?”

“Just passing through on vacation, Lew. How’s the restaurant business treating you?”

He laughed and slapped his belly.

“Too good. It’s all this good life. I can see why the old man had this gut.”

“Glad to hear it.”

“How about you? How’s the road treating you?”

I waggled an open hand and shrugged.

“Good times and bad.”

“What say I give the padre a call and we have lunch?”

I had planned on calling Stan Campbell later but it sounded like a good idea. Stan had been a newly ordained priest back when I had gone to school and he had come from my home town.

“Sounds good. How’s the old padre doing?”

“Ask him yourself when he gets here. Help yourself to a beer while I see if I can get hold of him. You know where they are.”

I was sitting at the bar twenty minutes later debating on another Old Style when Lew came back from his office and fished a trio out of the cooler. He waved for me to follow him back to a corner booth. We had just sat down when Father Stan came through the kitchen. He hadn’t changed much. Six foot five of walking shadow with a beard that made him look like John the Baptist fresh from the desert. Lew called to him and he ambled over. As long as I had known him I had never seen him just plain walk. His loose legged ramble covered ground but always made him look like he was just about to sit down under a tree and watch the world go by. I stood up and shook his hand.

“Good to see you Padre.”

“And you, my son.”

I laughed and gathered him in to a hug. My fears and apprehensions about coming home were fading fast. Some friends are friends no matter what time and distance do to you.

“How’s the soul saving business?”

“Booming. The godless are coming back to the flock in droves. Tight economy makes for good business.”

“Will you two sit down?” Lew grumbled from the booth. “You give me a stiff neck watching you up there. Why can’t you be normal height like decent people?”

“Quit carping, runt, and get a serving wench over here. I’m starving.”

Lunch flew by. Through the antipasto and linguine with clam marinara sauce washed down with good Chianti, we swapped stories filling in the blank spaces of the past few years. We were settling in over coffee when Lew leaned back, not even trying to stifle a belch.

“Almost like old times, eh guys?”

“Close, Lew.”

“We had some good times. Even with those nuts blowing up buildings and demonstrating any place they could get together. Now we got crazy drugs making kids do bizarre things. Just last year some crazy broad went swimming in Mendota in the all together.”

“What’s so crazy about that. We used to do it.”

“Not in February we didn’t. No, Lane old buddy, that little lady was doped to the gills. A friend of mine was involved in that one. She was his lady friend for a while and he took it kind of personally. Set the guy up who got her hooked and ended up killing him.”

I sipped at my coffee.

“He get in trouble?”

Lew shrugged.

“Some but Johnny Tenadore’s nobody’s fool. He covered himself pretty well. Now we got some nutbag who thinks he’s Jack the Ripper or something. Killed a girl out on Picnic Point a couple of days ago.”


We both caught the sharp warning tone in Stan’s voice and we looked at him. It was the first time I had ever seen him look uneasy.

“I say something wrong, Stan?”

“No, Lew. Not wrong.” Stan looked at me but couldn’t hold my eyes. The good feeling was slipping away and I felt my back tingle. What ever it was he felt he needed to say just wasn’t coming out and that really set off the warning bells. I had seen this man break some of the ugliest news known and do it with nothing more than pure compassion and caring.

“Who was she, Stan?”

“Lane, I didn’t want you to hear it like this.”

Fear grabbed my stomach and twisted it. Cold spread out, damping the peace lunch had built. Lew muttered a quiet sweet Jesus under his breath.

“It was Carol, Lane. Carol Morrissey.”

I waited for the hammer of pain I should have felt. On the outside I must have looked like some one trying to keep something inside but all I could feel was a cold queer emptiness. I closed my eyes and lifted the glasses from the bridge of my nose, searching in me for the pain that should be there. There was nothing. I looked at Stan and felt a twinge of guilt at the concern in his eyes.

“Do they know who did it yet?”

“Not yet. The paper says they are still gathering evidence and checking on the known offenders in the area. They expect an arrest soon.”

Lew snorted.

“Right, padre. I think they keep that one on tape so they can trot it out anytime they hit a blind alley.”

Lew emptied the Chianti bottle into our glasses. He looked at me, half embarrassed but with that fire old Tony had whenever he suspected we were up to something. Stan wasn’t sure how to proceed but Lew wasn’t the kind to squirm when it came to friends.

“She a good friend, kid?”

I glanced at Stan then met Lew’s probing gaze. It appealed to my blacker sense of irony. I gave Lew a tight grin.

“Rumor had it we were going to be married once. Long time ago.”

“Pretty tough.”

I looked down at my glass.

“Maybe even worse.” I said flatly.

Stan caught the note and leaned forward.


Suddenly the restaurant was too warm, the air too close. My chest and throat tightened until I could hardly draw a breath. I watched in fascination as the wine glass in my hand began to tremble and shake.

“I called her from Spain just before Thanksgiving. I told her I was coming back day before yesterday but my flights got screwed up. I tried to call her but she wasn’t home.”

My voice started to break so I drained my wine. Now the pain was there. I couldn’t breathe or think. The fine Italian food was roiling in my gut like it wanted out.

“Lane, you couldn’t have known.”

“Thanks, Stan. You’re probably right and I know it. On one level. But I don’t feel it. All I can remember is how glad she was to hear from me. And how much she was looking forward to seeing me again.”

Lew waved to the bartender. He brought over a bottle of bourbon and a glass. Lew poured me a stiff shot and motioned for me to drink it. I looked at them. Damn good friends just waiting because there was nothing else they could do. I knew they wanted to help but there was no help. Not right now. I tossed the bourbon down and concentrated on the burning fire. Finally I looked at them.

“Thanks, guys.”

“Don’t know what for but I’ll drink to it.” Lew said as he sipped his wine. Stan followed suit. After a time Stan leaned back.

“So, Lane, what are your plans?”

I shrugged.

“Shot for the most part. Maybe I’ll just go up and visit the old homestead, do a little skiing. I don’t have to be back until the end of January so I guess I’ll just play it by ear.”

“Hah. More likely your boss told you he doesn’t want to see that ugly puss of yours until then.”

I grinned at Lew.

“Up yours.”

The waitress brought over a plate of deserts and set them on the table in front of me. She had to lean past me a bit to do it and she did it in a way that made sure I noticed her. I gave her a small smile and got a thousand watter in return. Lew caught the action and shook his head in disgust.

“Stan, you know what this reprobate is going to be doing as well as I do.”

Stan shot him a warning glance but the stocky paisano ignored it.

“There won’t be a skirt in town who’ll be safe. Skiing, my ass. He’s going bunny hunting.”

“Come on, Lew, give him a break.”

“Not damn likely, padre. Giving this wolf a break is like keeping a tiger for a house pet. Never cut him any slack in the past and I damn sure ain’t about to start.”

Stan looked from Lew’s wolf head grin and cold eyes to me. My face wasn’t showing anything. It couldn’t.

“Lane, if you need anything, give me a call. I’ll be available.”

“Thanks Stan. I appreciate it.”

“I known this isn’t easy for you. Stop by the rectory sometime. I’ve got a Nicaraguan house keeper who can cook an iguana and make it taste like a little piece of heaven. I’ve got to get back to work. Give me a call.”

After Stan had left, Lew and I sat in silence. I nursed another bourbon while Lew swirled the last of his wine in his glass. I could feel his eyes on me. They were way too much like Roger’s. Lew had been right in his assessment of what Rog had told the home office. There would be no new job until we had talked and Rog was sure I had things worked out.

Chapter 3

Two men sat watching the sun set from the rickety wrought iron balcony of their small apartment. The old chair creaked quietly as the older man picked up his bottle of San Miguel. It all but disappeared in his ham fist, roughed and tanned from years of construction work. His name was Roger Dykes and he had worked for Regency Construction for thirty three years, all of it in the field. He was a short man, 5’6”, but broad and stocky. His shoulders and chest were slabbed with weather toughened muscles. His dark tan was cooked permanently into his skin giving him the color of an old penny. His face was a maze of wrinkles and cracks from too many years of squinting into the sun over the blade of a cat. But the eyes were those of a much younger man. Bright blue and wise with a perpetual twinkle.

I leaned back against the railing trying to find a more comfortable spot for my back on the rough stucco wall. I could feel those eyes on me. I took a long swallow from my beer and stared out at the sunset that was turning the quiet Atlantic a bright red gold. On the narrow street below people were finishing their daily business. Cars whined along the rough cobbled streets tooting their horns at the small groups of pedestrians in their way. Every now and then a rattling burst of Spanish would be raised above the normal sounds. In another hour the noise would be more hushed as the locals settled in to their homes for the night, leaving the streets to los touristas. Rog said something I didn’t quite catch and then grinned when I turned and asked him what it had been.

“I asked if you were ready for another beer.”

I finished mine off and handed him the empty. He disappeared inside and came back with a pair of frosted bottles.

“Rog, have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a place you could call home?”

He paused as he handed me my bottle.

“Once or twice.”

I took the beer.

“What did you do about it?”

“First time I went and got married. The other times I got drunk.”

I turned and looked at my boss. I hadn’t known he had ever been married but it seemed logical. His straw colored hair was heavily shot with silver and the white threads curled out of the open front of his khaki shirt. But the arms below the short sleeves rippled as he raised his beer and drank. His face bore the brunt of his years of hard living but the eyes sparkled in the heart of that rough map. Rog was a hellion, a brawler and a joker. He’d seen life from just about every angle since he’d been born in the outback of Australia where his mother had followed his construction bum father.

“Did it help?”

“Getting drunk did. Those hangovers were enough to keep me from getting down far enough to have to drink it dead.”

He turned his head and fixed me with those damned eyes.

“You thinking its time to go back?”

“I don’t know. Maybe.”

“Let me tell you one thing, Garrison. I’ve seen a lot of men come through this game. Some stayed, some went back. I wouldn’t give a bucket of warm spit for some that went. They couldn’t handle anything life threw at them. Went running to mama when it got rough. Only mama couldn’t make it stop hurting.”

He took a long drink and looked out at the ocean.

“What about the others?”

Rog chuckled and reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out the stub of a cigar he had started earlier. A kitchen match appeared from the same pocket and he snapped it to life with a practiced flick of his thumb. The smoke swirled around his head like a fog bank in the still night air until he got it puffed to life and exhaled through it. Those eyes looked directly into me.

“You don’t miss much, do you, kid?” He smiled and chewed on the cigar. “The others were driven. Or ridden. Like you, Garrison. First time I saw you I figured you to be chased. Back then I would have guessed it was woman. Now I’m not so sure.”

“Now who doesn’t miss much.” I asked chuckling uneasily. Keep it light, I told myself. He’s way too close to the old wounds. He studied me closely for a while then nodded slowly.

“Maybe I wouldn’t have been all wrong either way. You thinking its time to head home?”

“Don’t you know, Rog, that you can never go back?”

He didn’t respond to my glib shot so I went inside for another pair of beers. When I came back he was leaning, elbows on the rail, watching the streets.

“Kid, I once got into a backroom poker game outside of New Orleans. I was about your age and fresh from a year long job down in Chile. I had more money than I’d ever had at one time so I got a little drunk and cocky and sat down to show those boys how to play cards. Eighteen hours later I was down to about $500 when I woke up got the hell away from that game before it broke me. I slept round the clock and then went back. When I left the second time I was a little poorer than I had been when I had come home but it was a damn sight better than the day before. That game was bad news, rigged as hell but while I didn’t beat it I left with a lot more money than they had intended me to have. So I didn’t beat them but I didn’t lose either.”

We stood in silence, watching the quiet Spanish evening unfold. This was the longest Rog had ever talked about anything even close to personal.

“Why don’t you think it’s a girl, Rog?”

“Because you haven’t been soured on them. And you aren’t chasing them either. I can still remember that dark eyed chiquita down in old Mexico last year. I thought I was going to lose you for sure with that one but I wasn’t sure who’d get you first, the lady or the police.”

“The police won on that one. If you hadn’t gotten the boss to use his pull I’d still be rotting in that jail. How’d you get them to do it?”

He shrugged and drank.

“Just told them if you weren’t with me when that job got done, I was quitting.”

I glanced sharply at him. I hadn’t known. Rog had never told me anything about how he had gotten me loose. And now I find out he had offered up his job for one green kid. I couldn’t think of what to say. He saw the surprise and laughed at my uneasiness.

“Jeez, kid, don’t get all cramped up about it. Regency wasn’t about to leave any of their people in that kind of a fix. Besides, I can get a job anywhere I want in this business. I just told Harry we’d been getting harassed all along and it was a personal thing so he went over the locals heads and told them if they wanted any construction work done in the future, they’d damned well better get you sprung.”

“Thanks anyway.”

“Por nada, amigo.”

A pair of girls called up to us from the street. They worked one of the clubs that catered to the sailors and construction workers. One had been a schoolteacher in England and the other a Dutch secretary before they had vacationed down in sunny Rota and decided there was better money in hustling drinks and what not in the bars. They weren’t exactly hooking but it was close. We waved back and declined their offer to join them.

“Rog, you’re talking a hell of a lot more than usual. Sometimes I think you know more about me than I do.”

“I don’t know half as much as you do but what I do know I can admit to, no sweat off my back. You just plain ain’t sure of most of it. I know you’ll be leaving after this job. Hell, I’m surprised you made it this long. Some kind of devil has been eating at you since you turned up to work for me. I ain’t ashamed to say I’ll miss you, kid or that I don’t know where I’m going to get another segundo as good as you. We’ve worked pretty damn good together these past four years and I want you to remember you’ve got a job with Regency as long as I’m here.”

“Maybe I’ll stick…”

“Like hell you will. You’ve got something to do so go do it. You ain’t going to be worth a pinch of shit if you don’t. I got along without you for years and I can damn sure do it again. But if you get things straightened out back home you get your raggedy ass back. Now it’s still early so hit the rack and tomorrow you make your flight arrangements. We’ve got about two weeks to finish up here so get to it.”

Chapter 4

Somewhere in my musings Lew had left the table. I looked around and saw him sitting at the end of the bar doing some paperwork so I went over and took the stool opposite him. He kept at what he was doing but reached under the bar and handed me a newspaper.

It was yesterday’s and the banner headline read about something in the Middle East. The murder story was in the bottom corner and had Carol’s high school graduation picture with it. It was a good picture. You couldn’t see the hazel of her eyes or the blonde highlights in her hair but the warm smile came through 1000%. I started reading reluctantly. Two paragraphs in I picked up the paper.

It was crap. Basic background, a crude layout of theorized chain of events, some righteous indignation and a few comments on the state of affairs in general. It was pretty clear they were trying to down play this one. Other than a vague tendency to moralize on the sadness of her death as a senseless isolated piece of violence, there wasn’t much to the piece. Details were sketchy but there were hints there was more that couldn’t be revealed yet. There was an implication that the police were trying to cover it up. Something about the public’s right to know. Sure the public had a right to know if there was a real danger. But they didn’t need to know all the gory details. They didn’t need to know what the police had that could help them break the case. By the end of the article my hands were shaking again, making me put the paper down.

Damn rubber necked morons. My anger became a flaming ball of ice in my chest as I thought of all the good people sitting safe and warm in their easy chairs bitching about their right to know. Carol was cold dead. She couldn’t cry for her rights. Not even for the decency of her right to die well. There wasn’t anyone fighting to keep her shame and horror even a little bit private.

I stared at the paper but I couldn’t see the print anymore.

What was it, Carol? A mistake? Blind chance? You deserved better. We all do. Dying should have some dignity, no matter how ignominious the vehicle. The police are doing what they can but is it enough? Are they looking in the right directions? I lowered the paper and looked at Lew. He was watching me closely. His eyes were hooded and noncommittal but they knew.

“Still going skiing?”

“Later, maybe.”

He nodded and reached for a beer. I waved him off on his offer so he drank without me.

“That’s what I figured.”

He took a long pull on the beer.

“Ken Manley is heading the case.”


“Same guy who worked Johnny’s case last year. He’s a good man.”

“You’re telling me this for a reason?”

“Punk. This is Luigi, remember? I was with you in Nam when you got mixed up with that peone family. You think I don’t remember that day when you walked up to those three ARVN goons with their machine guns? All for what? Huh?”

I grinned at him.

“I don’t remember you running.”

Lew snorted and waved his beer at me.

“If I’m getting bullet holes in me, punk, they go in the front. But you? What made you a hero? Li’s pretty little face?”

“Damn it, Lew. She was only eleven years old.”

“They marry young down there.”

“You are an evil bastard.”

He gave me a grin.

“Ain’t I though? But what I’m not is dumb.”


“Maybe Stan thinks you’re a cream puff inside. Me, I know different. You got good steel in your back and the kind of nerve most guys only dream about. Shit, you were more scared of those gunnies than I was but it didn’t even slow you down. And you knew what a dead end it was before you took that first step.”

“I don’t believe in dead end situations.”

Lew chuckled and gave me a knowing grin.

“Like the cops checking out known offenders? And an arrest being imminent?”


“So, you go talk to Manley.”

“Will he talk to me?”

“Depends on how you ask. He’s a hard line cop. Likes to go by the book.”

He finished his beer.

“When the book has the answers.”

The desk sergeant directed me to a clerk type when I asked for Lt. Manley. She asked me in an asthmatic wheeze what I wanted to speak with him about. When I said it was about the Morrissey case she wanted my name and number so they could take my statement. She seemed confused when I said I wanted information, not that I was offering it. She was debating on how to handle my request when a dark man in a rumpled suit stopped and asked if he’d had any messages.

“No, Lt., but this gentleman says he wants to talk to you about the Morrissey case.”

He turned his attention to me and gave me a thorough visual going over. I noticed his black hair was thinning on top and his belly was probably more muscle than it appeared. His eyes were cop sharp and I could almost hear him classifying my jeans and button down oxford shirt, my leather jacket and worn boots, the mix of old and new all backed with a dark tan and coming up with curious. He nodded for me to follow him. We walked back through a maze of partitions and desks until he pulled out a chair somewhere in the middle and motioned for me to sit. We watched each other for a minute before he broke out a pack of Camels and lit one up.

“Nice tan. You from around here?”

“Once upon a time.”

He inhaled deeply and let the smoke trickle out through his nose.

“What was it you wanted to talk with me about?”

“The Morrissey case. I’d like to know where you are with it.”

He snorted a short blast of smoke and disbelief.

“And just who the hell are you that I should tell you anything?”

“The name is Garrison. Lane Garrison. Carol was an old friend of mine.”

“So what?”

We locked eyes for a long moment. There wasn’t much give in either one of us. I finally stood up and started to leave. Manley spit a piece of tobacco on the floor before he spoke.

“Where the hell do you think you’re going?”

“Out to see what I can find out about this. Or maybe some one who has the sense to work with some one who knew Carol and might be able to help.”

He glared at me.

“So sit down.”

He continued to try and stare me down then started digging at a stack of files on his desk. When he found the one he wanted he opened it and began reading. Finally he put it down and took another drag on his cigarette before stubbing it out in an already overfilled ashtray.


I nodded. He waited a moment then prompted me with his hand and expression.

“SeaBee. I did 19 months in country. It was towards the end and I spent most of my time in the deep south.”

“See any combat.”

“Nothing official.”

His eyes narrowed and then he nodded.

“You the reason she was in town?”

“Probably. I’d called her from Spain a couple of weeks ago. We were supposed to meet on Sunday but I got held up. I just got in to town this morning.”

“And you can prove that?”

“Pretty much.”

He nodded and leaned back in his chair. It creaked ominously as he thumbed through the file.

“A bunch of kids found her at 10:30am on Sunday, December 16th. She was buried in a drift. One of the kids had dug into the bank to make a snowball and came up with a chunk of bloody ice. The coroner set the time of death at sometime the previous night. The outer portions of her torso and extremities were frozen but there was still some lividity to the internal organs. There was also ice crystals in the wounds which he says lead him to believe she had been alive during the snowfall of Saturday night. Cause of death was loss of blood due to multiple blunt trauma wounds. If that hadn’t killed her she probably would have died from the hemorrhaging in her skull from those wounds. Her skull had multiple fractures. She lost one hell of a lot of blood in a short time. We found a short chunk of wood near the body that had been used as a club. There was hair and blood on it, all matching the decedent’s and the shape of the club was consistent with the injuries. The site of the major blood loss was from where the assailant had used the club to repeatedly penetrate her. The coroner estimates he used the club at least a dozen times.”

He looked at me over the file with those cold cop eyes.

“You want me to go on?”

“If you’ve got more.”

He nodded and reached for another Camel.

“Like I said, she was alive when she was taken to the spot. There were signs of struggle. There was a scrap of cloth on a bush and other indications she was conscious and trying to flee. We figure the assailant took her out there, made his pass and went berserk when she turned him down. The guy had to have picked up a fair amount of blood from the looks of things but we can’t turn anyone who saw a car out there that night. We’ve tried to check tires tracks but we can’t get clear separation on anything useful. Any questions?”

“You mentioned you thought she went willingly.”

“Just a guess. There was too much damage to the head to be able to say for certain if she had been knocked unconscious prior to the assault. Also, she was a big girl so her assailant would have to have pretty strong to carry her any distance.”

“May I see the report?”

He started to say no but decided against it and handed it over. I read it quickly glossing over the heavy technical jargon and going for the over all picture. It wasn’t pretty. She had died ugly, slow and hurting. The ice in my chest thudded heavily against my ribs. The collar of my shirt dug in to my neck and I began to sweat.

“She was staying with an aunt here in town. Her home address is in Whitewater. She roomed with a woman named Helen Krueger. Krueger went through a divorce that was final last spring and they’d been room mates since last October. We checked the ex but he moved to Seattle for work reasons last January. That was the reason for the divorce. Carol was back in college working on a Masters and was due to graduate in the spring.”

“Any other men she was dating?”

“None that the Krueger woman could say was more than occasional and casual. She was focusing on her degree. She did say Carol had become much more animated since Thanksgiving.”

I finished looking at the report and handed it back. I noticed a lot of the cool had left Manley. His cigarette dangled from the corner of his mouth trickling smoke into his squinting eyes.

“I read in the paper she was last seen at the Stone Hearth around 11:30.”

“She had a date that night with a local jock hero name of Fred Hartman. It was something her aunt had set up for her. Freddy plays forward for the Badger Hockey team and he’s rated as one of the top college players in the country. He’ll be going pro in the spring. Anyway, they took in a play at the Fine Arts Center and then went to join some of Freddie’s friends at the Hearth after.”

“I take it Hartman didn’t leave with her?”

“No, Carol left without saying anything to anyone.”

“That doesn’t sound like Carol.”

Manley shook his head. “Maybe if I tell you that the friends they joined were mostly female admirers of the great Freddie?”

I nodded. “So Carol didn’t feel like being one of a pack. I can see her finding her own way home.”

“That’s how I figure it. She probably hitched a ride with the wrong guy and ended up dead in a snow bank.”

I leaned over the desk and picked up his pack of Camels and shook one out. I looked at him and he nodded his ok and handed me his lighter. There were things that just didn’t mesh with the tale they had built so far and I got the impression I wasn’t the only one who thought so.

“Lt., can I buy you a cup of coffee?”

He checked his watch then wrote a quick note. He snagged a young kid as he past the desk and told him to take it to Miss Fenton then motioned for me to follow him. Down in the cafeteria he picked up a pot of coffee and a couple of donuts and headed over to a table in the corner a little apart from the others. He sat down and began eating. I poured myself a cup and sat across from him.

“Ok, so talk. What’s on your mind?”

I liked his looks. He had been ready to let me walk but something had changed his mind. I knew the information he had given me so far was probably beyond what he was authorized to give out. Lew said he was by the book but that he wasn’t afraid of rewriting. I needed a friend on the inside and I had a feeling Ken Manley would make a good one.

“Lieutenant, I just got back to the states the day before yesterday. Part of the reason I came back was to see Carol. We’d meant something to each other a long time ago and I wanted to see if she was anything like I remembered. I called her a few times around Thanksgiving and we hit it off pretty well over the phone. Must have, judging from my bill. Granted, it’s not much to go on but the Carol I knew wouldn’t take a ride from just any clown. She was fully capable of calling a cab or a friend. She was no Joan of Arc but she was choosy. This killing doesn’t sit right with me. You cops do a pretty good job but I’ve got a hunch that without knowing Carol and the kind of person she was, you may miss something.”

“So you’re going to stick your nose in it.”

I liked that. No question, just a statement of fact. What I didn’t like was the tone that told me what was coming next so I jumped in quick.

“Yes. I’m going to do some digging. Quiet and unofficial. I want to talk to the people she knew and see what I can find out about her. If I find anything I think might be useful to you, I’ll pass it on. If not, I’ll just get a chance to say good bye to her.”

Manley finished his donut and took out his cigarettes. He offered me one but I turned him down. Once he had it lit he leaned forward and rested his elbows on the edge of the table. There was an awful lot of official weight behind him. Personal authority that made him the kind of police officer people trusted and listened to.

“Garrison, this isn’t some kid game. Finding murderers isn’t fun or safe. You get into this and I’ll guarantee your amateur ass is going to be sorry. I don’t need some heart broke puppy messing where he doesn’t belong. Go back to where ever it was you came from and write this off. We’ll find the killer.”

“Will you?”

He bristled and the authority ratcheted up a notch.

“I will.”

I could almost believe him. He truly did believe he would find the killer and given enough time I think he would. I just didn’t think he would have that time.

“How? You’ve got other cases to work on and pressure from the public to wrap this up. No one wants a crazy killing women in a college town. Especially over the holidays. I’d be willing to bet your boss is pushing pretty hard for a quick fix to this and from what I’ve seen there isn’t going to be one.”

The thundercloud between his brows grew and I thought it would break and he would rain all over me but he kept it under control. He finished his cigarette and leaned back, watching me carefully.

“Garrison, I’ve learned a bit about Carol these past couple of days. I tend to agree with you about the ride. It just doesn’t sit right. And there’s a handful of other things that tell me I’m going to be losing some serious sleep over this one. I don’t need you on my back or my conscience.”

“I won’t be on your back, Lt.. And you don’t need to add me to your guilt load. I was going to talk with most of the people involved anyway so maybe I can do some digging. People might say things to me they wouldn’t say to a cop.”

He shook his head. “I must be nuts to even listen to you. You play fast and loose, even hint you’ve got official backing and I’ll have your ass in the can so fast your feet won’t touch the ground. If there’s even a peep of trouble out of you and the Chief finds out we talked, he’ll have my guts for garters.”

I had to laugh. It brought a hint of a smile to his dark face that I figured was a close as he came to having a good time these days. I stood up and offered my hand. He took it and tried to get his hand positioned to put some pressure on mine but I forced my hand back into the web of his and matched his game. We both put some pressure to it, just to see what would happen. He finally grinned and released his grip.

“Where’ve you been since you last saw Carol?”

“I work for Regency Construction out of Chicago. We do road and bridge work on the other side of the pond. I just finished a job in Spain.”

“Take it real easy, Garrison. And keep in touch.”

Chapter 5

I checked in to the Howard Johnson on University and stashed my gear in the room. I had a few places to start and I needed to decide which one would be first. I didn’t think Aunt Mona would be able to give me much information. She and Carol hadn’t been terribly close and I suspected she had gone to stay with her when my arrival had been delayed. I would have to make a trip over to Whitewater to meet with Helen Krueger but the timing on that was bad. I was sure she would be dealing with packing Carol’s things and she probably didn’t need to be answering questions just yet. That left Mr. Hartman. I started making some calls. The kid I talked to at his frat house had no clue as to where he was, let alone where Freddie might be. I tried the athletic office and found the team was practicing even as we spoke and would be wrapping up around 8. That would give me time for a shower and a quick bite before I talked to the local hero. Tomorrow I would have to see about renting a car.

Freddy and company came out of the practice rink about ten minutes after I arrived. I had my cab standing by to follow them but they headed down the street walking. I paid the cab off and followed. There were five players and half again as many fans, all female and all young. It looked like the boys enjoyed their status and were milking it for all it was worth. They turned in to a pizza joint and headed for a big table in the back. I took a stool at the bar and waited for them to settle in. It wasn’t going to be easy to break in to that group for a chat but I had to give it a try. I waited until their order was in and the pitchers poured before I went over. Freddy was talking with a girl who looked like she had graduated early and he made a point of ignoring me. I waited patiently while his little friend got more nervous. Finally he leaned back and gave me an insolent challenging look.

“What do you want?”

“A few minutes of talk. About Carol Morrissey.”

“You a cop?”

“No. I just have a few questions I’d like to ask you.”

“I already told the cops everything. The bitch walked out on me for no good reason and no one does that to me. She got what was coming to her, the little prick tease.”

I could feel my nails dig in to my palms as I fought the urge to pull the arrogant bastard out of his chair and ram that cocky grin down his throat. The icy anger that was my constant companion held my face in a blank mask as I worked to get the anger under control so I could talk. He didn’t give me a chance.

“You can just peddle your questions to some one who gives a shit, buddy. Now drag ass or me and my friends will toss your ass out of here.”

A thin pale blonde with impossibly large breasts got up and flipped me the bird.

“Yeah. Get outta here before we throw you out. Freddy don’t have to talk to no one. He’s got his rights.”

Three of the other players started to get up so I turned and headed for the door. I could hear their cat calls behind me as I pushed open the door and stepped out into the cold night air. I was shaking with the anger but I knew I wasn’t going to get anything out of the boy wonder on his terms. The trick was going to be getting him alone, without his peanut gallery. There was a possibility. I went in to another bar just down the block and looked up the number for the pizza place. I told the bartender I was Freddy’s coach and asked if he would please relay the message that I wanted to see Fred down in my office. As soon as possible? She said she would. I only had to wait about ten minutes before he came out and headed for the campus at a fast walk. I was waiting at the middle of the block in an alley entrance and called his name as he stormed by. He stopped and turned. It didn’t take him long to figure out he’d been tricked and he wasn’t happy about it. He rolled his shoulders and stepped in to the alley.

“I told you I didn’t have nothing to say to you. Maybe I got to tell you a little harder.”

He may have been hell on skates but he sure didn’t know much about fighting. Without a stick he was pure bush league. His looping right haymaker went over my shoulder and I hit him with a couple of short hard shots in the stomach. He staggered back, more surprised than hurt. He was in pretty good shape. I didn’t want to drag this out so when he came again I caught his wrist and spun him around, twisting the hand up between his shoulders and ran his head into the side of the building. I pulled him back and body slammed him against the wall keeping the pressure on his hand and shoulder.

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