Then he remembered he had something important to do. Call Katie?-- that wasn’t it. Well it was, but there was something else. He looked around. Someone must have had a party; there were empty Bud bottles scattered around, a quart bottle of Jim Bean Black in the garbage and a stale smell pervading his senses.
Shit, he thought. He switched on the coffee percolator and padded back into the bathroom, shaved and took a shower. First the hot to wash away the grime followed by the cold to bring him back to life. Feeling better he dried himself, cleaned his teeth with his new brush and paste, and swilled mouthwash around. He donned his police uniform and a new Mac emerged ready for the big day. Ah, that was it, phone calls. First call Rusty.
“Hi Rusty, Mac here.” He couldn’t resist it. “How was Cindy? She came up with the goods?”
Rusty laughed. “Sure was a fine evening, pal. Cindy came through ok, and she wants more. Can’t say I blame her.”
Mac chuckled. Rusty was a renowned pussy-hunter with a big appetite. “Seriously, did Cindy give you any info on my med histories?”
“Mac you wouldn’t believe it. Once I got her talking about it, she didn’t stop. Complained about Dan Shepherd trying it on, and feeling her up and all. He’s the ex lineman who got busted up in a car accident. They kept him on their disabled list. And the army discharge guy. Said it was Coach Mason. He never laid a finger on her, but he gave her the creeps whenever he was around.” Rusty guffawed. “I had to plug her mouth to stop her.”
Mac was elated. It correlated perfectly with their analysis. “Okay Rusty, that’s all I need to hear. You can save the sordid details until the next time we have a few beers, ok?”
“Sure, you owe me one,” replied Rusty, clicking off the call.
Mac groaned. Not another one wanting a piece of his soul. But he was energized. He called Elmer and told him.
“You want Andy in on this?”
Mac gave it some thought. “Not yet,” he replied. “Meet me down at the stadium in thirty. Let’s see who’s around. In case we get any resistance, regular uniform and pistol, ok?” He then called Mama. The response was unhelpful. “We’re working on tracing the limo, call back again first thing tomorrow.”
“As I told you at the fire safety inspection, Coach Mason’s not here,” said Arnie. “Dan Shepherd, you say? He’s staying with his sister-in-law this week. You want the address?” He searched through the paperwork on his desk.
Mac nodded and also asked to see the guy’s picture. Big guy. So Mason hadn’t re-appeared. Either Shepherd was their man or he would be eliminated. At the least they’d have a positive ID. Enough to send out a full alert.
Arnie gave them the address, which was way out of town, rural. It took them an hour to track it down. Run down place, it had seen better days. A few chickens running around the porch. No one around. They parked their vehicle outside the perimeter. “You go scout around the back, I’ll wait until you give me a call,” said Mac. “Then I’ll hit the front.”
Mac waited for Elmer to get into position, and then he took out his gun and flicked off the safety. He mounted the porch steps and banged the gun butt against the wooden door. Hard. Three times. “Police, open up,” he shouted, leaning to one side of the doorframe. No response. He tried the latch. The door opened. He pushed it aside and peered inside. No one. He moved quickly through the house, let Elmer in at the back kitchen “Cover me,” he said as he moved upstairs. Slowly. Step by step. Trying to avoid the steps creaking. Bedroom one empty. He moved along the corridor. Bedroom two. Door half-open and noises within. He could see the back of a young woman on her knees, arms tied behind her back. Nude. He pushed it fully open with the gun barrel.
A big guy Mac recognized from the picture was rearranging his clothing and pulling on his pants. “What the fuck you want?” he hollered. “This is private property.”
“Get on your knees, hands on your head. Facing away from me. Do it now,” yelled Mac, chambering a bullet into the cylinder, and shouting for Elmer to get up there quick.
The big guy hesitated. Mac could see him figuring the odds. Against a nervous cop he stood a chance, even against a gun. But with backup coming along behind, that was enough. As Elmer came in, he dropped to his knees and let Mac snap the cuffs on him.
“Dan Shepherd, you’re under arrest,” said Mac. He turned his attention to the woman who was looking distraught. “You hurt any?” he asked.
The woman turned. Good cheekbones, but foul mouthed. “No I fucking ain’t,” she replied. Not in the least embarrassed at swinging her bazoombas around to let them see. “First chance I get and we get two dumb cops breaking in and spoiling our fun.”
That staggered Mac. “Huh?” he said.
“Do I have to spell it out? I’m twenty-two with a big appetite for big guys. Me and Dan here like to fool around while my asshole husband’s in a blind watching friggin blue tits playing happy families or something.” She paused. “The feathered kind,” she explained, before starting up on her rant again. “Yeah, and if you really want to know, I get off big time on sadism and being sodomized, you got it?”
They got it. But it didn’t stop them taking Shepherd into custody. A big guy into sadism fit their profile perfectly. Down at the precinct, Mac brought Andy up to date in the incident room.
“Okay,” said Andy. “I’ll debrief the chief; let him handle the Bees and any media attention. You know what to do. Play it by the book, get a lawyer in, everything to ensure our asses are covered.” He waited for them to nod in agreement, and then added a reminder. “You know full well we can hold this guy for what we think is ‘a reasonable time’ for a murder enquiry. That gives you plenty of space to make it through this week-end without the chief pushing you too hard, and have some leftie politician complaining.” He paused, “Oh, and try and get the lawyer to agree to a DNA sample.”
“Is that it,” asked Elmer.
Andy got up. “No it isn’t. If you get a result either way, I’ll be the first to buy you a drink. Well done both of you. Now get your asses out of here and nail the ‘motherfucker’.”
Irwin Bernstein. Silver haired, silver tongued, slimy son-of-a bitch. Would sell your soul for some shekels. The Bees’ lawyer took off his eye glasses, pinched his nose and squinted at Mac and Elmer. “As you well know detectives, my client has an important game coming up tomorrow. He’s needed. He denies any wrongdoing. I suggest you bail him out.”
Nice try, thought Mac. First the gentle persuasion, before he gets really tough. And he could. The Bees were paying him a big fat retainer to take care of their team.
“For the record, I’ll remind you, counselor, that this is a murder enquiry. We need to eliminate Mr Shepherd before he can be released,” replied Mac. All by the book.
The posturing carried on for a few hours with plentiful breaks, so that Bernstein could rack up his time and explain what was happening to a puzzled Shepherd. Mac and Elmer had exhausted most of their initial points, repeatedly asking the same questions to try and trip Shepherd up.
Finally Bernstein came up with a deal. “Detective, my client has cooperated fully in your enquiry and answered your questions. I suggest you have no evidence to hold him any longer.”
Mac saw the opening that the lawyer had offered. “If Mr Shepherd would provide us with a DNA sperm sample, we can speed up this process.” Mac waited while the lawyer took another break to discuss this with Shepherd. When he returned the lawyer shook his head, “My client invokes the fifth on that one, although he insists he is innocent of both these Longfield murders.”
Mac looked shocked until he saw Bernstein gesturing at the tape, telling him to cut it off. When Mac stopped the tape, Bernstein asked to see him alone. Mac left Elmer with Shepherd and followed Bernstein into the adjoining room. One table, a pitcher of water, plastic cups and two chairs. He sat down and faced the lawyer across the table. Bernstein came to the point. ”You got this room bugged?” he asked, picking up the pitcher and pouring water into a cup.
Mac shook his head. “No,” he replied. “We ain’t that sophisticated around these parts.”
Bernstein seemed to accept that without smiling. “Off the record, detective, Shepherd has a juvenile record. Under-age sex with a minor. I got the feeling that isn’t the only one. While he vehemently denies having anything to do with these homicides, or any homicides come to that, he’s naturally concerned that he’ll get another rap if you distribute his DNA around the country.” Bernstein stopped talking and swallowed some water.
“You looking to do a deal, then?” asked Mac, tapping the table thoughtfully with his fingers. This was the line. Was Bernstein trying to trap him?
“Maybe,” replied Bernstein casually. “Depends what’s on offer.” He leaned back and clasped his hands together.
“You know I can’t withhold evidence, if I got a match,” Mac replied. He could see Bernstein acknowledging the obvious and waiting for Mac to come up with something. Mac thought through the options. If Shepherd’s DNA matched the homicides, they would pin him on that, and if it didn’t, well DNA samples could get contaminated or lost.
He came to a decision. Crossed the line to nail a killer. “Mr Bernstein, if you can convince your client that if the DNA doesn’t match our homicides, his sample will be history.”
Bernstein smiled and pulled out a small recorder from his jacket pocket. He switched it off. “Just for my record,” he told Mac. “The deal is acceptable. You keep your word, I trash the tape.”
Mac felt like hauling the smartass out of the chair and beating the shit out of him for pulling that trick. Threatening his whole career, even if it never stood up in court, Bernstein could make life very difficult. Instead he said. “Don’t worry on that score, I’ll be over to make sure you do just that,” he replied. “And that’s a goddamn promise, you hear me?”
“Well that’s settled very amicably,” replied Bernstein with a smarmy look on his face. He poured out another cup of water and took a sip. “Now give me some time with my client. You can wheel him in right away.”
It was after lunch before the sperm sample was clinically obtained and rushed to the lab. Elmer accompanied the sample, while Shepherd was put in a cell. “How long will all this take?” asked Bernstein.
“Usually five to seven days,” replied Mac. “That’s why Elmer is going. He’ll put the screw on them. Cut through the backlog of cases. We should have the full results in seventy-two hours. Maybe we’ll get lucky and have a partial sooner.”
“Seventy-two hours,” exclaimed Bernstein. “You got to be kidding me. I want my client out of here today.”
“That isn’t going to happen, Mr Bernstein,” said Mac, enjoying the lawyer’s discomfort. “You can chew ass all over the place, but Shepherd remains in custody. We still got a lot of talking to do, so get prepared for a long session.”
Bernstein glared. He shrugged his shoulders. “Let’s get on with it,” he said.
“Katie, I only got a minute. We got a suspect locked up. We’re questioning him as we speak.”
Katie cradled the phone close. “Is he Josie’s killer?”
Mac held his breath a while. “He hasn’t confessed to anything right now, but he’s going nowhere. We’ve taken fingerprints, blood samples and DNA. Should get first results by tomorrow, but not the DNA confirmation until next week.”
“Is it safe for me to come back?” she asked. “Your folks are looking after me good, but, well, you know what I mean. My place is in Longfield, near my sister. And you Mac. I miss you as well.”
What could he say? Katie had a right to live her life, and he missed her as well. “Katie, at the moment there’s no guarantees we’ve nailed your sister’s killer until we get the complete evidence. It’s looking good so far but I’m not getting in your way, you want to return. My folks, they’ll understand don’t worry.”
“Okay Mac, I’ll talk later, ok?”
“Okay.” Mac ended the call, deep in thought. What if the killer was still at large when Katie came back? Shepherd’s body language and eye contact was bothering him. Every time they alluded to the homicide victims, Shepherd denied any involvement. As far as Mac could tell, it was the truth. Ask him about young girls and sex, he confessed to some mutual fun, but denied going further than that. As if he was innocent. Mac didn’t take to him; a sexual sadist, but that didn’t necessarily make him a killer. Potential maybe, but not necessarily Josie’s killer. Or any of the others.