Authors: Michael J. McCann
a Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel
Michael J. McCann
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This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, institutions, places and events portrayed in this novel are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright 2011 by Michael J. McCann
All rights reserved.
The Plaid Raccoon Press
The day that Lieutenant Hank Donaghue walked into the alley beside the Biltmore Arms Apartment Building on 121
Street in South Shore East was the day the alleged soul of Martin Liu departed its body and began the next segment of its journey from nothingness to eternity. It was a warm afternoon in early June four years ago and the wind was blowing in off the river. Summer had not yet completely settled in, but the heat was right behind the door, waiting to come through.
Uniformed police officers shifted from one foot to the other at each end of the alley, their presence preventing onlookers from ducking beneath the yellow crime scene tape for a closer look. Detective Joe Kalzowski stood off to one side, questioning the elderly African-American woman who had called 911. She lived in a two-bedroom apartment on the sixth floor of the Biltmore Arms and had spotted the body from her bathroom window. A second witness, the elderly woman’s 14-year-old grandson, waited with one of the responding officers, staring at the body on the ground with a mixture of shock and fascination. Dr. Jim Easton, the Assistant Medical Examiner, crouched beside the body, withdrawing the long thermometer with which he had measured the temperature of the corpse’s liver. Members of the crime scene unit had already claimed the victim’s wallet, containing his driver’s license, credit cards and sixty
five dollars in cash, and were now taking photographs and bagging scraps of trash to be brought along for further study.
Hank knelt beside Easton, who grimaced up at him over his glasses.
Looks like cause of death is going to be exsanguination, roughly five hours ago,” Easton said, putting the thermometer away.
Not much blood.”
Right. Your primary scene is somewhere else. This is a dump site. Shot somewhere else, died here.”
Hank looked at the bullet wound in the body’s left leg, just above the kneecap on the inside of the thigh. “Sloppy work. Shot from the front?”
Yeah. Through and through, very close range. He wasn’t running away.”
Self-inflicted? Accidental discharge, maybe?”
Easton pursed his lips for a moment and then shook his head. “Awkward angle.” He shuffled around behind the body and held his own hand out so that his wrist was twisted back on itself. “Have to be something like this, but only if he were struggling with someone, and there are no contusions on his wrist that would suggest a struggle for a gun. We’ll test his hands for GSR, but I’ll tell you right now, someone else did this to him.”
Hank looked at the nose, which had been bloodied and broken, at the split upper lip and at the bruises on the forehead and both cheeks. He shook his head. “Worked him over first.”
Felt like some broken ribs,” Easton agreed, smoothing his blond mustache. “Maybe internal injuries.”
Hank noticed that the young man’s clothing was nearly new. His hair was neatly groomed and his hands looked soft. The scattered packets of merchandise and paraphernalia suggested a drug deal gone bad. It was definitely the wrong part of town for a 24-year-old Asian with little street experience to be selling junk, as the neighborhood, from 118
Street all the way south to Kensington, was territory claimed by the African-American R Boyz gang.
Hank frowned. A CSI had already done a field test on one of the packets that indicated heroin, but it wasn’t a heroin kind of neighborhood. If the kid had been selling, he definitely didn’t have a clue as to how to go about it. Something didn’t add up. If the kid had been shot somewhere else, then he wouldn’t be here trying to sell—
Hank’s cell phone rang. He stood up and moved a few steps away from the body before taking the call, then he put the phone away and went over to Kalzowski, who was wrapping it up with the elderly woman.
Joe, I gotta go.”
Kalzowski frowned. “What is it?”
Jumper downtown. There’s no one else. You okay here?”
Kalzowski’s eyes flicked to the packets and syringes scattered on the ground near the body. “Yeah, pretty cut and dried, I’d say. Go ahead, I’ll handle it.”
All right.” Hank ducked under the yellow tape and peeled off his latex gloves as he approached one of the uniformed officers, a sergeant named Booth.
Can someone give me a ride downtown?”
Booth squinted at Hank. “The jumper?”
No problem.” Booth snapped his fingers a couple of times. “Jamieson! Take Lieutenant Donaghue downtown, will you?”
As Hank waited for Jamieson to unlock the passenger door of the police cruiser, he glanced back at the alley. Another wasted life. Between the buildings the late afternoon sun flickered and cast its blinding light across his face. Hank closed his eyes for a moment, aware of the warmth on his flesh and the glowing redness behind his eyelids. Then he slipped on his sunglasses and got into the cruiser.
By the time they were flying across Harborfront Bridge into Midtown he had already forgotten Martin Liu’s name.
Four years later, on a Monday morning in the middle of May, Hank sat in front of his computer in the homicide detectives’ bullpen working on a report. He’d assisted in an arrest this morning and liked to get rid of administrative chores as soon as he could. He and Detective Jim Horvath had gone over to Chinatown to interview a witness in the fatal shooting of a grocery store owner. Horvath was in his early thirties, tall and slender with neatly combed straight black hair. He’d been with Homicide for two years now and was showing an aptitude for the job. His partner, Detective Amelda Peralta, was attending the autopsy of the victim and was unavailable, so Hank agreed to fill in.
Horvath parked the car in front of the four-plex on Fremont Street where the witness, John Li, lived. According to Horvath, Li was the victim’s son-in-law.
We proceeded around the north side of the building to the door at the rear serving as the entrance to Unit C,
. Detective Horvath knocked loudly on the door, identifying himself and asking Mr. Li to open the door
What happened next happened quickly. As Horvath pounded again on the door, Hank took a few steps back to see if he could see anything through an upstairs window. He heard the door at the front of the building open and close. His angle of view being better than Horvath’s, he caught a glimpse of someone peeking around the corner at them. Before he could open his mouth to say anything, Hank saw a gun. He yelled and threw himself down as a shot punched into the vinyl siding of the house next door. The gun disappeared as Horvath bullrushed the shooter, chasing him around the corner and down the street. Hank caught up with them in time to see Horvath grab the kid around the shoulders and steer him into a row of garbage cans on the sidewalk. The kid fell among the cans as Horvath danced aside. By the time Hank reached them Horvath had secured the gun, cuffed the kid and was searching him for other weapons.
During the course of said search I saw Detective Horvath find a plain white envelope in the front right pocket of the suspect’s jeans
, Hank typed.
The unsealed envelope contained eight (8) small paper packets sealed in plastic. Consistent with the appearance of single-use bags of heroin, each packet bore the inscription “Flyer” stamped in red ink. I telephoned Detective James Schein in Narcotics and—
A clatter at the desk across from him pulled his eyes away from the monitor.
Goddamned lawyers,” Detective Karen Stainer growled. She slammed her leather portfolio down on her desk and dropped into her chair.
Hank looked at her, saying nothing.
Goddamned court.” She wore a crisp white blouse and a black skirt suit, and had removed her jacket to drape it over the back of her chair. She carried her weapon, a Browning Hi-Point C9 nine millimeter, in a leather holster on her right hip. Also clipped to the belt of her skirt were her departmental identification and her gold shield. “I don’t get why they don’t go straight from arrest to the fuckin’ gas chamber without all the bullshit in between.”
Her Texan drawl, which made “get” sound like “gee-yit” and “between” sound like “bit-wayuhn,” would be charming if it weren’t coming from a mouth that looked like it might bite a chain in half at any moment. Karen was 36 years old and a fifteen-year veteran of the police department. A Tai Kwon Do black belt with a mean streak, she was five feet, three inches tall, weighed one hundred and five pounds and had fists like a pair of shoemaker’s hammers, small and very hard. Her face was sharp-featured, her blond hair was carelessly chopped short, and her eyes, a lovely pale blue shade, tended to fix on people in a laser beam cop’s stare.
Excuse me,” said a voice behind Hank, “I’m looking for Lieutenant Donaghue.”
Hank looked down at his hands, still poised over the keyboard. “Donaghue?”
Uh, yeah. I thought his office was over there, but Lieutenant Jarvis said his desk is out here in the bullpen. Do you know where he sits?”