Mac felt a bit uncomfortable. He should have called more regular, but the job...“Dad, tell Mom not to worry, I’m bullet proof, you know that. And I got news. A new girlfriend, but she’s in trouble Dad.”
“New girl, huh? About time you settled down, your mom’s itching for a grandchild. But who’d have a homicide cop for a partner? She crazy or something?”
Mac nodded to himself in agreement. Homicides had a nasty habit of getting in the way of relationships. “Dad, it’s early days, we’ve only just gotten together. She’s nowhere near crazy, but her sister was murdered a few days ago by a nine-eleven crazy. She’s taken it real bad.”
There was a silence at the other end. Dad thinking it through. Mac waited. He knew his father was still pretty much on the ball, even though he was long retired. Retired from the fire department, he understood danger only too well. ‘Nine-eleven’ was their private code for ‘back up required’. This was serious.
When his father eventually replied his tone was more serious. “Well son, I guess you’re asking us to help out here a little, is that right?”
“Dad, I’m sorry to dump this on you. Can you and Mom keep her safe for a week or two?”
There was a relieved chuckle at the other end. “Son, your mom’s tired of my company every day, she’d welcome a female buddy with open arms. Give me a break also.” There was a pause. “What’s your girlfriend’s name?”
Mac heaved a sigh of relief. It was going to work out just fine. “Thanks Dad, her name is Katie. Katie Forbes. I know you’ll get on real swell.”
“Son, you just hold on there. Better clear it with your mom, or she’ll be bitching at me.” They both laughed. Dad always let Mom have the last word. Secret of a happy marriage.
With Katie safely packed off to San Francisco bay, and Elmer working with Andy, Mac was able to concentrate on his case load. Chief Amos cut him some slack, told him to focus on finding the serial killer as number one priority. “Dump the other homicides on my desk,” he had told Mac at the coffee machine. “I’ll call in Bill or George, anyone but Sue.” A Johnny Cash fan, his style sure helped to get the best out of his team. Chief Amos put his arm around Mac. “Fatherly advice, Mac. Just make sure you walk the line,” he had warned. “We don’t want this one to slip away.”
“Chief, it will be done by the book. Every step, don’t worry on my account,” replied Mac in his most sincere voice. He pointed to the coffee machine. “Your dime or mine?”
Chief Amos gave him his ‘are you being serious’ look. “You pushing my generosity too far; get your dime in there, and get your ass in gear. I got another media briefing later, they’ll be expecting us to have made progress, ok?”
Mac smiled. That’s the Chief he knew best. “I’m right on it,” he replied, removing his cup from the machine and inserting another dime. “You want maid service, go call Sue.” Chief Amos punched him on the shoulder with his big mitt, “Get outta here.” They both laughed.
“BG, it’s that cop Mackenzie again,” shouted Arnie. “You seeing him, or what?”
“Arnie, have I got a choice?” he shouted back. “I need a migraine a few days before Saturday’s big game. Like, it helps me focus and all.”
“Is that a Yes or No?”
Mac wondered if Arnie understood sarcasm. Probably not. He seemed a typical country boy.
There was a long pause. Probably BG feeling resigned. His voice had a tired sound. “It’s a yes. Send him up, Arnie.”
Mackenzie climbed the stairs to the balcony above the locker rooms. BG had finished his workout and was casually dressed. Blue Bees T shirt and matching trainers. He had miraculously recovered his zest for life. Not a hint of migraine. “Hi there, Mr. Mackenzie, help yourself to a cold soda.” He pointed to the fridge. “You just passing through or something?”
Mac helped himself to a bottle of Pepsi Max. For the moment only BG and him upstairs. “Thing is BG, we got a particular ugly homicide. For all I know, you could be in the frame.”
Babe George choked on his soda. He coughed and spluttered. “How you mean?”
“Look BG, something you’re not telling me about that Stockton homicide. Until I get some ready answers, I can’t rule you out on this one.” Mac waited. He had offered a deal.
BG sat back. He squinted at the sunlight, and put on his shades. He tapped his nose. “Look, if I come over with some information, you take the heat off me a while?”
“I was taking a run in the park. You know, cooling down from the Stockton game. I stopped to rest a while, catch my breath when I heard a scream. I looked through the bushes and saw these two women arguing by their Ford. Ruth and Emmy, the photo shoot girl. They were struggling and the gun fired. I shouted. Emmy saw me and took off in the Ford. I ran over and saw Ruth. She looked dead enough, but I lifted her up and tried to make her breathe. No good. I panicked and ran back to the hotel. That’s the god’s honest truth.”
Mac couldn’t see if he was telling the truth or not with those shades on. “BG, why didn’t you come clean before?”
“That Emmy is blackmailing me. Says she’ll implicate me if I don’t pay up. Detective, I got my career to think about. Any scandal will kill my sponsorship deals.”
Mac had a hunch. Elmer had told him about Sammy De Maggio and how he had pointed the finger at BG. “Anything else you not telling me?” There was a long silence, while Mac waited.
BG shifted awkwardly in his chair. Seemed to be making a decision. “Yeah—well -- since I told you all, Ruth’s brother Sammy is mixed up with the mob. You know he’s got family connections here?”
Mac nodded. He knew the mob. Mario Coppola, the family head.
“Well Sammy put the heat on me, wants this Emmy real bad after what she done.”
Mac pushed, now it was all coming out. “What you give him, BG?”
“Emmy’s bank details, local account at Fargo, and her description, is all.”
Mac nodded. Find Sammy De Maggio and check BG’s story. “You know where I can find him?”
BG shook his head. “Negative. I don’t know and I don’t want to know.”
Mac had enough to be going on with. “Okay BG, one more question and we’ll leave it until after the game.”
BG lifted his eyebrows as if to say what next? His voice took on his resigned tone. “What you want now?” he asked.
“Everyone travelling on the Bees tour for the last two years. You got a people itinerary someplace?”
Mac was pretty sure that BG wasn’t involved in the serial killings. The Stockton homicide was a mystery but it was not his main priority. Still it had triggered Elmer to focus on homicides committed in the past, and linked somehow to the Bees. The latest Longfield homicides were an escalation of the violence, as if the perp was becoming more desperate for recognition and not satisfied with just maiming and killing his victims.
He needed to find Sammy De Maggio, plant a seed into his head, maybe get him thinking that the serial killer, not Emmy Parton, had murdered his sister. From the investigation, it was plausible. Put a doubt in his mind. Cindy, the pretty HR person, had given him a people itinerary from the Bees’ records. Let the Mafia flush out the perp.
Mac’s line was a slim one.