True blue, p.20
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       True Blue, p.20

           David Baldacci

  distance, and she doubted any of them were bad shots.

  “Hands on your head and fingers interlocked, Roy,” she hissed. “And get on your knees. Now!”

  They both dropped to the asphalt as the blues approached cautiously, firing lines and trigger fingers still set.

  “Some guys in a car tried to kill us,” barked Roy.

  It was at this moment that Mace noticed the silence. No big sedan, no thumping V-8, no gun muzzle with a can pointed her way. Silence.

  “What guys?” said one of the cops skeptically.

  “In a big black sedan. It was chasing us.”

  The cop looked around. “I don’t see a damned thing other than you two.”

  Another one pointed out, “All I ever saw were you and the chick on the bike coming at us hard.”

  “I was here about thirty minutes ago,” said Mace. “I was talking to Tony Drake. He was parked here at the hoodle with an egg named Francie.”

  “You a cop?” asked one of them.

  “Used to be. Tony can vouch for me.”

  The first cop shook his head. “We got here about ten minutes ago. And I don’t know any Tony Drake. Or a Francie.”

  Roy started to get up. “Look, this is crazy.”

  “Stay down!” roared the second cop. His pistol was aimed right at Roy’s skull.

  “He’s staying down,” snapped Mace. “He’s not going anywhere. No sudden moves. We’re both cool. We’ve got no weapons.”

  “We’ll see about that,” said the first cop, as he holstered his gun and pulled cuffs from his belt. “You two look like you got stuff that would concern me. So you don’t mind me searching you and your vehicles?”

  Roy eyed the cuffs and said indignantly, “Where the hell are you coming from? We didn’t do anything wrong.”

  “This is a stop, Roy, not a contact,” said Mace. “We are definitely not free to go.”

  The other cop eyed Mace. “What, are you his lawyer?”

  “Other way around, actually.”

  “You said you were a cop. Do I know you?”

  Mace started to say something but then stopped. These guys might be part of the thirty percent who believed she was dirty.

  “Don’t think so.”

  The first cop was looking at the damage to the Audi. “You hit something, mister.”

  “How about that sedan and two big-ass rifle rounds?” snapped Roy.

  “Right, the sedan,” the cop said sarcastically. He nodded to his partner, who snapped the cuffs on Roy first, then Mace.

  “Have either of you been drinking?” asked the first cop.

  “For God’s sakes!” yelled Roy. “They were trying to kill us. We came to you for help and all we’re getting is hassled and cuffed.”

  “Shut up!” snapped Mace.

  “In case you didn’t figure it out, you’re both under arrest,” said the second cop.

  “What’s the damn charge?” exclaimed Roy.

  “How about disturbing the peace, reckless endangerment, and assault on a police officer for starters? I thought you two were going to run right into us.”

  “That is bullshit! Look at my damn car. They shot out the windows. They were trying to kill us! Or at least her. What the hell did you want us to do? Now, can you take the damn cuffs off?” Roy pulled his arms free of the cop’s hold.

  “Okay, I just added resisting arrest. Anything else you’d care to tack on?”

  Roy started to say something but Mace managed to jab him in the side. “It’s bad enough. Don’t make it worse.”

  The first cop said, “Lady’s right. Now you both have the right to remain silent. You…”

  As he performed the Miranda, Mace tuned out his words. Busted and not even out a week. Hadn’t even had time to see her probation officer. She was completely and totally screwed.

  I’m going back to prison.


  IT WAS like déjà vu all over again. The barred door slid back and there she was, the stars all in alignment on her broad shoulders.

  “It’s really not what you think, Beth,” Mace said quietly as she sat hunched over on a metal bench at the back of the cell.

  Her sister sat down next to her. “So tell me what it is about. Please tell me what the hell you and Kingman were doing down there last night.”

  “We weren’t together. I didn’t even know he was there until his car flew in between me and the guys trying to shoot me.”

  “What guys?”

  “Town Car. Tinted windows. Didn’t the arresting officers fill you in?”

  “I want to hear it from you. License plate?”

  “No plates. At least on the front. I never saw the rear.”

  “Go on.”

  “They came flying at me. Rear passenger window came down a few inches. Saw the gun muzzle. A rifle barrel with a can attached.”

  “And they fired at you?”

  “Twice. And they would’ve gotten me if it hadn’t been for Roy.”

  “And then what?”

  Mace explained how she had gone back to the hoodle for help. “But my buddy wasn’t there, just two cruisers with blues I didn’t know. They jumped to the wrong conclusion.”

  “Their report says they never saw another car.”

  “It obviously had already peeled off. But Roy’s car hit it. You can take paint samples from his ride and see if you can get a match somewhere. And you’ll find the rounds either in Roy’s car or on the street somewhere.”

  “We found no slugs, either in his car or on the street, and I’ve had a dozen cadets from the academy walking the line for the last five hours.”

  “So you do believe me?”

  “There’s also a line of smashed trash cans that Kingman apparently ran into. You sure the damage didn’t come from that?”

  “Beth, I’m telling you the truth! There was a black sedan chasing us. Somebody fired a rifle from inside it. The rounds shattered the windows in Roy’s car and almost hit him. You sure you didn’t find anything?”

  “No slugs, no casings.”

  “Any casings would’ve ejected in the sedan. They must’ve gone back and policed the slugs.”

  “That takes time, which makes it a big risk. Why would they do that?”

  “I don’t know.”

  “But who would want to kill you?”

  “Do you have a few hours so I can give you a list?”

  “Did you tell anyone you were going down there last night?”

  “Just Roy. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing.”

  “Kingman said he met you for a drink after you left me and then he went back to work. And he just happened to find you in Six D later, right before someone tried to kill you?” Beth’s frown hardened into a scowl. “Don’t treat me like a chump, Mace. I don’t deserve that.”

  Mace hesitated just a moment, but it was obviously enough for Beth. “Okay, when you’re ready to actually tell me the truth, maybe I’ll be waiting on the other side of the bars, okay?” She headed to the door.


  Beth turned back. “I’m waiting.”

  “I was with Roy at his office building last night while you were there.”

  “Wow! Never saw that one coming.”

  “Hey, you asked for the truth so don’t rip me for giving it.”

  “Why were you there?”

  “He told me about the construction site and things going missing and it made me think of the Liam Kazlowski case, you remember the elevator guy from five years ago?”

  Beth nodded slowly. “I think of him sometimes sitting in his max security cell wondering where his balls went. You always did have excellent aim.”

  “So Roy and I went there to see if we could catch the guy.”

  “And calling your sister, the chief of police no less, never entered your mind?”

  “For all I knew it was a wild-goose chase. I didn’t want to call you out on a hunch. Not when you were dressed so pretty,” she added lamely.

s face was so tight, the balls of her cheeks so hard against the overlap of skin, that it looked like she had been shrink-wrapped. “I don’t know whether to shoot you or drive you back to prison myself,” she said in a low, barely-in-control voice.


  Beth lunged forward, forcing Mace to jerk back flush with the cement-block wall. Her voice came at Mace like the thrusts of a knife.

  “Within hours of me letting you walk away from a tampering and obstruction charge and me telling you to stay the hell out of the case, you turn right around and stick your nose right in it. What the hell is the matter with you?” Beth was shouting now. “Will you please tell me how in the hell I’m supposed to get through to you?”

  Beth’s face was spotted with red anxiety flecks. Mace was pressing the back of her head so hard against the wall it felt like her scalp was being split open.

  “It’s the only shot I’ve got to get back on the force,” Mace said in a calm voice that belied the emotion churning through her.

  “What are you talking about? I told you I was working on it.”

  Mace hesitated but then decided to just get it out. “Mona’s ahead of you.”

  Beth straightened up. “What?”

  “Mona ambushed me in the ladies’ room at a hotel where Roy and I were having a drink. She knew your plan and she’s already talked to all relevant parties with the result that even if you dig up people with signed confessions it won’t matter. I’m never getting back on the force that way. I’ve never seen her happier.”

  Beth slowly sat on the bench next to Mace. “And that’s why you—”

  “Look, bottom line, it’s not your battle, Beth. It never has been. It’s mine. If anybody is going to do something, it has to be me. Mona was also hoping that you’d keep pushing on the case so she could nail you with some bullshit misuse-of-resource crap or building a bogus case to help me and then get you fired. I may go down, but I am not taking you with me. I’ll go back to prison before I’d let that happen.”

  The two sisters sat there for a few moments in silence.

  Beth finally said, “But if the guy you nailed last night is the killer?”

  “Yeah, maybe I have a shot at reinstatement.”

  “You don’t sound convinced.”

  “I’m not convinced about a lot of things. So has he spilled his guts yet?”

  “He hasn’t said a word except that he wants a lawyer.”

  “Really? He’s not so stupid, then.”

  “I don’t know if he is or not. He wants your drinking-buddy white knight as his shyster.”

  “Roy as his lawyer? Why?”

  “Says he’s the only one he’ll talk to. Seems like they were good friends. Funny, Kingman never even mentioned to me that he knew him.”

  “Roy told me he helped the guy out some. Repped him once on an assault.”

  “So you whacked the guy in the head with a piece of wood, right?”

  “He outweighed me by about two hundred pounds.”

  “It sure was a little piece of wood to knock out a guy that big.”

  “I built up quite an arm in prison,” Mace said defiantly.

  “Why’d you go down to Six D?”

  “To see where it all went down.”

  “Where they grabbed you?”

  “There was a huckabuck on the street named Razor. Heard of him?” Beth shook her head. “Well, he and I had a chat, then I rode on. About five minutes later, here comes the car with the rifleman. Then Roy showed up and the chase was on. That’s all I know. I need you to believe me.”

  Beth sighed. “I do. A couple of my guys on CP rounds scrounged up two witnesses who saw the car bearing down on you and Kingman’s Audi coming from out of nowhere.”

  “And the shots?”

  “And the shots.”

  “If you knew that, why were you giving me the third degree, then?”

  “Because I’m pissed at you and I wanted to make you sweat.”

  “Did your witnesses get a plate number?”

  “There were apparently no plates on the rear of the car either.”

  “Okay. That’s interesting.”

  “You see what happens when you lose my hover guys?”

  Mace had a sudden thought. “So how did Roy follow me, then?”

  “Why don’t you ask him? It seems pretty convenient him showing up like that. If I were you I’d go a little slow with the man, not that you’ve ever listened to me when it comes to the male species.”

  “First time for everything,” Mace said slowly.

  “So they fired two rounds and left nothing behind. Not your typical street shooters, because those guys don’t police their brass since nobody will squeal on them anyway.”

  “Does Roy know that this Captain dude wants him as his lawyer?”

  “I told him.”

  “You’ve already talked to Roy?”

  “I wanted to see how your stories matched up.”

  “Thanks a lot.”

  “Oh, and if someone is trying to kill you, I’d appreciate if you would confine your rides into the Valley of Death to daylight hours.”

  She turned back to the door.

  “Is this going to screw up my probation?”

  “You were never officially charged. Kingman’s waiting down the hall.” She thumbed the bars. “You’re going to work this case, aren’t you?”

  “What would you do, Beth, if it were you?”

  The chief left without answering.


  SO WHERE’RE our rides?” asked Mace. She and Roy were standing out in front of the district police station while the sun rose above them.

  “Impoundment lot,” he said, stretching his arms over his head.

  “Are you kidding me?”


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