Deadly justice, p.27
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       Deadly Justice, p.27

           Darrell Case
 

  “Derrick,” she said softy. He was the only person who knew she had the notebook.

  “Pardon?” Alison looked up into the waiter’s confused face.

  “Sorry, I was just thinking out loud,” she said self- consciously

  “I understand ma'am. Would you care for dessert?”

  In his office in Washington Steel made a call.

  After giving the man her order, Alison leaned back in her chair. It couldn't be anybody else. As soon as she finished she would confront him.

  From his office in Washington, Steel made a call.

  Refreshed after his nap, Derrick was in the shower when the door to his room quietly opened.

  He exited the bathroom and came face to face with the maid. With only a towel around his middle, his cheeks flared. The only woman who had ever sen him unclothed was his wife, and he intended to keep it that way.

  “Would you mind cleaning the room some other time please?”

  The woman shook her head as if she didn't understand. She looked to be of Middle Eastern descent. Derrick asked again with the same result. The woman turned to the supply cart sitting just inside the doorway.

  Derrick sighed. He would have to call the front desk. Surely, they had someone who could speak the maid's language. Reaching for the phone, he glanced at her. His heart leaped into his throat.

  She was holding Alison's backup weapon, it was fitted with a silencer. Derrick's own Glock lay on the chest 10 feet away. He glanced longingly at it. There was no way he could make it. But maybe he could buy some time. Slowly he inched his way in the direction of the chest. He held out his hand to the woman. This was the UNSUB. A hired killer. Cold chills raced up his spine. He decided to play along. It was his only hope.

  “I have money in my wallet. You can have it all. Many dollars,” he said. His hands went clammy as the only response was a stony stare. “You don't want to do this. I'm a federal officer. I work for the FBI.”

  She didn't seem to understand. Derrick knew better. He studied her mannerisms, the vacant look in the eyes, and the measured movement of the hands. This was no hotel maid. This was the assassin, the one they were chasing.

  He lunged for his pistol. There was a ‘POOF,’ like the amplified sound of can of soda being popped opened.

  The hollow point entered his heart, exploding it. He crumpled to the floor dying. Derrick's last thoughts were of his wife, his children and Alison.

  The assassin quickly deposited Allison’s hideaway gun in her room, then returned the cart to the maintenance area beside the stairwell. He changed clothes in the utility closet, hanging the maid’s uniform on a hook. He shoved the latex gloves he’d been wearing into his pocket.

  Downstairs, he entered the dining room. The maître d’ seated him three tables away from Alison. Facing her, he peered over the menu. She was writing in a small spiral- bound notebook. He wished he knew what. He dared not draw attention to himself. Raising the menu, he concealed all but his eyes and forehead. The thrill of the game made his heart beat faster. Just being this close to a non-mark violated one of his principal policies.

  He ordered a club sandwich and a soda. He had eaten half when Alison abruptly got up and left the dining room. She stumbled, almost falling into a vacant table. He grinned. The narcotic was taking effect.

  He motioned to the waiter and paid the tab and tip with cash. Leisurely he crossed the lobby, and walked out the front door. In the parking lot, he started up the Taurus. He rolled down the window, and waited. Five minutes later, he heard the first siren. He shoved the car in gear, and slowly exited the lot. On the Interstate, he punched it but was careful to stay five miles under the speed limit.

  He had taken out government officials in other countries. This was the first time he had killed an FBI agent. At double the pay, he would gladly assassinate every one of them. He laughed. A few more hits like this one and he buy several small islands, maybe even Hawaii.

  On the fifth floor, Alison stopped at Derrick's door. She hesitated. She had been friends with Derrick and his wife for years. Sally worried about Alison's eating habits always giving her recipes. Of course Allison never took the time to try them. On the few occasions Allison had visited their home, she’d played games with the kids and run around outside with them. Derrick was always kind to her. Sally treated her like a sister.

  No. He might disapprove of her actions but Derrick would never turn against her. Feeling woozy, she tapped lightly at first. No answer. She rapped harder. Possibly he went for a walk, unusual but not unheard of. Most nights he stayed in his room going over his notes from the day. She glanced at her watch five to eight. Derrick called home at eight every night without fail, even on stakeout. He wanted to catch the kids before they went to bed. Even if he had gone for a walk, he would have returned by now. She knocked harder almost hammering. Nothing. She tried the handle. It turned easily in her hand. Calling his name, she pushed the door open. Her heart shot into her throat almost choking her. Derrick lay in a pool of blood at the end of the bed. She reached for her weapon and then remembered. Not wanting to frighten other diners she had left it in her room.

  From the size of the blood pool, she knew he was dead. Still, she pressed two fingers against the side of his neck, hoping against hope. Her hand shaking, she touched his rapidly cooling body with her fingertips. Stinging tears blurred her vision. Her head pounded and she felt disoriented. She was back in her parent's kitchen, standing over their bloodied mutilated bodies and screaming to the heavens.

  It was as if the years in between had melted away. She felt the same fear she felt that awful night. Shaking her head to try and clear it, she reached for her cell phone. Her fingers were stiff, unyielding; her panic intensified as she plucked at it. Finally she managed to hold it up to her face. The numbers blurred before her eyes.

  She punched 911.

  “Nine one one, what is your emergency?”

  “This is Alison Stevens. I'm an FBI agent,” she said her speech slurred. “My partner has been shot. I need an ambulance and backup. Now... I need help now!” Alison shouted into the phone. Her hand was shaking so violently she almost dropped it. Tears streamed down her face.

  “Say again?”

  Choking down hysteria, Allison repeated herself.

  The 911 operator thought the woman was drunk and was ready to gently unload her when she noticed other reports of a woman screaming coming in from the hotel.

  “What is your location ma’am?” The operator asked struggling to keep her voice steady. She’d been trained to keep calm in all emergencies even those involving law enforcement personnel. However that didn't mean it was easy.

  “The Plaza Hotel hurry.” Alison jammed the phone back into its holder.

  “Please stay on the line with me ma’am. Ma’am? Agent Stevens?”

  “All units in the vicinity. Respond to report of a shooting at the Plaza Hotel. FBI agent possibly involved.”

  “Unit 419. We're 3 blocks away.” The officer flipped on the light bar and siren. He stomped the accelerator until the cruiser hit 70.

  “Unit510 coming off Maple on to Third. Will assist 419.”

  Alison backed out of the room so as not to contaminate the crime scene. Derrick was dead and his killer was close. She elbowed the door open wishing she hadn't touched the outer knob. Lurching to her room, she grabbed her Glock . She wiped away her tears on her sleeve. Her vision so blurred she was nearly sightless, Allison inched along with her back to the wall, squinting a she strove t assess the hall and stairwell. Gripping the gun tightly in front of her, with her free hand she jiggled each doorknob as she passed.

  She thumbed the hotel’s number on the keyp
ad. The phone rang once.

  “The Plaza. How may I assist you?”

  “This is FBI agent Alison Stevens in room 363. My partner has been shot. Close the hotel down now.”

  “Is this a joke?” the desk clerk said with a half smile. The woman on the other end sounded drunk.

  “Close it down now or I'll arrest you as an accomplice to the murder of a federal agent.”

  At that instant two uniformed police officers burst through the hotel entrance with guns drawn. Still holding the phone, it took the flustered clerk a few seconds to comprehend. “Third floor, take the stairs!” he clerk shouted at them. He waved his hand toward a door to the right of the lobby. The officers ran through it as if they were on a drug bust.

  The clerk shouted to the doorman, “Lock the doors!”

  At the end of the hallway, Allison crossed over and continued checking doors. Nothing. She didn’t even hear any sounds. She approached the utility closet. Locked. Whoever killed Derrick was gone. Why hadn't she persuaded him to accompany her to dinner? Derrick wanted to take a shower and a short nap. She was ravenously hungry as she was each time she returned from the firing range. Too late. While she was lounging in the dining room her partner was being murdered. She wiped away tears, She had failed him just as she had failed her mother and father. She returned to Derrick's room and knelt by his side. Her head was light and woozy. She almost passed out.

  “Oh Derrick why didn't you come with me just this one time?” She moaned. Whether she had spoken aloud or not she couldn't tell.

  “Hold it right there. Lay the gun on the floor and stand up.”

  Allison put the Glock on the floor and slowly rose on wobbly legs. She whimpered as one foot slid in the viscous pool beneath her.

  “I'm FBI. This is my partner Derrick Strong. He's been shot. The words came out haltingly, staccato. “Let me show you my ID,” she said, reaching for the back pocket of her jeans. Her fingers numb, she pulled out her badge wallet, praying this wasn’t a trigger happy cop.

  She tried several times finally succeeding in flipping it open. The officer relaxed, lowering his pistol and stepping closer to check the ID. Thinking he’d be satisfied with it, Allison reached down to pick up her piece.

  “Leave it,” the officer said. Alison straightened up, looking confused. The officer took a pen from his pocket, and picked up the Glock by its trigger guard.

  “Step back ma’am,” he said, placing Alison's pistol on the chest next to Derrick's.

  Two officers appeared in the doorway, guns drawn.

  “She's FBI,” the first officer told them. They holstered their guns and quickly sealed off the floor. Two paramedics arrived. Working swiftly, they hooked Derrick up to oxygen and performed CPR. They bundled him up, hauled him on a gurney and whisked him away.

  Weak Alison braced herself with her right hand on the door. Her tears would not stop streaming nor would her hands stop trembling. The room swam before her.

  “Ma’am, this is a crime scene. Please move aside.” A man stood before her with a large case in his gloved hand. On his jacket were the letters CSI. Her phone vibrated as she stumbled out into the hallway her phone vibrated. Pulling it from her belt, she looked at the display and groaned. Steel.

  With Alison out of earshot, the first officer said to his companions, “She's either drunk or high. Isolate her. We got two agents on the way.” One of his comrades stepped into the hallway to keep an eye on her.

  Hitting the button, Alison said in a teary voice, “Stevens.”

  Tony cursed furiously at her in a tirade that seemed endless. His words connected like body blows. Nausea made her stomach knot. If he didn't shut up she was going to upchuck right here in the hallway.

  Finally, he was quite for a few seconds. What he said next chilled Alison's soul.

  “This is a federal investigation. You are not to touch anything or attempt to participate. Two agents are on their way. I've spoken to the police chief. His officers will be securing the scene.”

  “I can do that… sir.” Alison said. Her mouth was dry and the words came slowly. Steel took a breath. His lips curved in a sinister smile the barbiturates were working.

  “Agent Stevens, you are hereby relieved of duty. You will surrender your shield to Agent Thompson.”

  “But I... I want to assist in the investigation,” Alison wailed through a loud sob, the tears in her throat almost choking her.

  She could almost hear him gritting his teeth over the phone. “I'll not have my chief suspect interfering.”

 

  Chapter 19

 
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