Author Topic: The Club of Chester County, George's Story (Chapters 1-4, added 10-19-20)  (Read 1932 times)

Offline LtBroccoli

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The Club of Chester County

Chapter 2. A Recent Promotion. (Nosex, setup)


Author’s Note:  This is a work of fiction.  All characters and locations are made up.  The acts portrayed are also fictional.  Rape is wrong, racism is wrong, violence is wrong.

Author’s Second Note:  This is also character introduction and setup, and will tie in to the rest of the story in the future.


"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."  March 19th sure knew how to kick a man in the dick to start the day.  This inspirational quote calendar felt like it missed the mark every day this week.  He hasn't felt inspired at all this week from his calendar.  Come to think of it, this calendar hasn't inspired him all month.  Or all year.  He looked at the calendar for a moment before grabbing the freshly torn sheet from yesterday and throwing it in the trash can next to his desk.  “If you aim for the Moon and miss, you’ll only hit the stars.”  No, you’ll float into the vacuum of space and either die from exposure, a lack of oxygen, or starvation.  

As he threw it away, the white bald man wearing a cheap suit jacket over a light blue button up shirt and dark blue tie leaned back in his chair and looked at his desk for a moment.  To the right sat his desk phone and a picture of a good-looking brunette woman in her 40's with her arms around a brown-haired teenaged boy and a little girl with fair skin and red hair.  In the middle was a closed laptop and a travel mug of coffee with the Chester County Police Department seal on it.  On the left side of the desk sat the daily calendar that mocked him and his nameplate.

Detective George Lewis.

George breathed a sigh, then looked at this watch.  8:03.  “Fuck.”  He looked at his laptop, dreading opening it when a middle-aged light skinned black woman in a dark blouse and pants walked in the aisle way past his desk and headed to an office at the end of the row.

“George, my office.”

George muttered under his breath “What now” as he slowly got up from his chair.  His knees and back weren’t as good as they used to be.  He made his way to the door that was left slightly ajar.

“Captain Janella Jenkins
Sex Crimes Division
Chester County Police Department”

George ducked his head in the opening as he knocked on the door.  Janella sat at her desk looking at a man... wait, was that a man or a mountain?

“Wanted to see me, Cap?”

“Come in.”  Janella motioned George forward.  He walked to the empty chair in front of the right of her desk.  Before he sat, the large black mass in full blue police uniform stood up.  And up. Annndd up.

“George Lewis, meet Xavier Harrison, your new partner.”

Xavier stood at least 6’4” tall and must have weighed a solid 300 pounds if he weighed an ounce.  His dark black skin and closely cut hair quickly reminded George of the obelisk from 2001.  Only this man was bigger and no background music.  Xavier extended his hand to George.

“IT’S A PLEASURE TO MEET YOU, SIR.  I LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH YOU AND LEARNING FROM YOU.”

George grabbed Xavier’s outstretched hand and shook it with a firm grip.  He was taken aback by the younger, larger man’s enthusiasm.

“Same here.”  George retracted his hand and sat down in the empty chair.  Xavier did the same in his chair.  Both men looked at Janella.

“Officer Harrison is joining us from SWAT.  He was originally scheduled to go to Homicide and learn from Boykin but he’s busy with something else that came up.”

George laughed at the statement.  

“SIR?”  Xavier asked.  George pantomimed a drinking motion with his hand closed except with the pinky and thumb extended, and threw his head back a few times, making a ‘glug’ sound each time.  Xavier nodded at catching the reference.

“George!”

“Hey, if I ever get pulled over by a local yokel on my way here for a DUI during lunchtime, feel free to make the same jokes about me.”

Janella shakes her head.  “Officer Harrison, you’ll be working with Detective Lewis starting later today.  The paperwork will be finished on your promotion and transfer shortly, and we’ll get you a desk and other equipment sometime today.  Pay attention to what Detective Lewis does.  Copy the good, ignore the bad.  Got it?”

“ACKNOWLEDGED MA’AM.”  Xavier bellowed.  George shook a little.

“Any questions?”  Janella asked the two men.

“NONE AT THIS TIME, MA’AM.”  Xavier’s voice shook both of the plain clothes cops.

“You’re a detective now, Officer Harrison?”

“YES SIR.”

“Then you should dress like one.  You live nearby?”

“I DO SIR.”

“Go home, dress like a grown-up, and come back.  You’re a detective now, you should look like it.  After that, find me around.”

“WILL DO SIR.”  

“You’re dismissed, Detective.”  Janella tells the younger man.  Xavier gets out of his chair and exits the Captain’s office.  The other officers wait for the door to close.  George laughs a little.

“What the fuck is with Loud Howard?”

“Excuse me?”

“You noticed the screaming, right?  Geez Cap, I know you’re old but you can’t be that old that you didn’t notice him yelling everything he said.”

“I noticed.  He’s deaf.”  

George’s face goes from a hearty laugh to a quizzical look.

“What do you mean he’s deaf?”

“He’s deaf.  At least legally.”  Janella said with a straight face.

“What?”  George’s smile disappeared.

“Had a flashbang go off next to his ear, destroyed most of his hearing.  Something like 80 percent of the hearing in his right ear is gone and 40 percent in his left.  This happened two weeks after he passed the Detective’s Exam.”

“The fuck?”

“He could have taken a disability retirement then and there but wanted to keep going.  Leadership thinks he’s got what it takes to move forward and could be high up one day.”

George shakes his head.  “Fuck.  Are you fucking kidding me?”

“No, I’m not.”

George takes in a deep breath.

“So, let me see if I get this straight.  This man who could easily pass for an NFL lineman but can’t hear a dumptruck back up into a nitroglycerin plant will be interviewing rape victims trying to get them to open up about their most traumatic memories, assuming they don’t break down because he’s so deaf he can’t hear himself so he screams everything without knowing it.”

“Listen George, he passed the exam with one of the highest scores to come through in a long time, and he has potential written all over him.  And the Brass put him here because Boykin’s in rehab and he can learn how to play the pass off game better from here than any other department, and you’re the least useless detective I’ve got.”

“Wow, that might be the nicest thing you’ve ever said.”  George softened his glare.  “I’ll show him the ropes.”

“Just don’t turn him into another you.  No one wants that.”

“Damn straight, he can’t be as beautiful as me.”  George said with the largest, shittiest grin he could muster.  Janella shook her head and pointed to the door with her left hand.

“Get the fuck out of my office.”  George got up, laughing to himself.

« Last Edit: October 19, 2020, 02:50:40 PM by LtBroccoli »
Always close the program you were running before exiting the holodeck

Offline LtBroccoli

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The Club of Chester County, George's Story (Chapter 2 & 4)
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2020, 11:52:21 PM »
The Club of Chester County.  Chapter 2 of George's Story, 4 of the saga.  George and X go over the basics.  (Nosex, setup, vague descriptions of rape)

Author’s Note:  This is a work of fiction.  All characters and locations are made up.  The acts portrayed are also fictional.  Rape is wrong, racism is wrong, violence is wrong.

Author’s Second Note:  This is also character introduction and setup, and will tie in to the rest of the story in the future.




It was close to 10:30AM when Detective Xavier Harrison returned to the office dressed in a blue suit, white shirt, and orange tie.  The large black man looked around for George’s desk, unsure where he sat.  After a minute, he found what he was looking for.

Sort of.

He found Detective George Lewis’s desk, but no Detective Lewis.  His desk had a note sitting on top of his laptop.  Xavier picked it up.

X,

Find me.

George.

Xavier looked at the paper for any hint where it came from.  White, torn from a small notepad.  Nothing substantial there.  He looked at the desktop, nothing too much stood out.  His laptop was still here, and a set of car keys on a Ford key fob were sitting next to it.  Those were keys to an Interceptor.  George was nearby.  There was no coffee cup or cell phone, and it was getting within striking distance of lunchtime.  He moved the note to his left hand then felt the back of the laptop with his right.  Cool to the touch and quiet.  George hasn’t turned it on recently, and the chair was pushed in completely, not left out.  George’s suit coat sat on the back of the chair.

“Bathroom, Breakroom, Cafeteria, Parking lot.  No, scratch lot, rain.”  Xavier said to himself in his whisper.  A whisper to him is conversational to anyone else besides Helen Keller.

He saw a stack of cards with George’s name on them and took one.  Xavier put the note down and walked down the hallway to coffee room.  Two other detectives were in there bullshting about something.  He didn’t know what, nor did he care.  He could have tried to ask them where George was, but since the injury a few weeks ago the large man has been a little self-conscious about speaking to strangers.  The only way he can hear himself over the constant ringing and thudding was to yell, and a massive black guy yelling at armed cops that don’t know him is a sure-fire way to get shot.

“Bathroom, Cafeteria.”

He went further down the hall and found the Men’s room.  He opened the door and walked in.  Three urinals and three stalls.  No one was in the urinals, and only the furthest stall was occupied.  Before he knocked or bellowed out, he checked the sink for George’s coffee cup.  Nothing.  Still, while he was here, he might as well ask.

“GEORGE, YOU IN HERE?”

“No!” Came a yell from the last stall, followed by a flush.  A sad looking white man probably in his 50’s came out of the stall, still fumbling with his pants.  His wild ring of dark hair looked like it hadn’t seen a comb in a few days.  He hurried past Xavier.

“Damn, that’s nasty.  Didn’t even wash his hands.”  Xavier’s whisper caught the man off guard.  He froze for a moment, then kept walking.

Xavier left the bathroom and headed for the Cafeteria.  Or at least what this precinct called a cafeteria.  It was more like a deli counter and food from a vending machine.  It was large enough to hold maybe 30 people at a time, but would only fill up between noon and one.  There were 4 people in the seating area.  Two of them were older women, probably from the motor pool, one old man eating a sandwich, and George, drinking from his coffee cup and reading something on his phone.  He walked over to George’s table.  George saw the towering man and motioned for him to take a seat.

“You found me, and you’re dressed like a grown-up.  Good.  First question, how did you find me?”

“YOUR KEYS...”

“Inside voice.”  George cut him off.  Xavier sighed, half mad at himself and the white man sitting across the table from him.

“Keys, coat, and computer were still at the desk, so you didn’t leave the building.  It’s raining and your coat was inside, so no parking lot walk.  Coffee cup was missing so you weren’t going to the range.  You wanted to test me a little but not too much at first.  That left break room, bathroom, and here.  You weren’t at the first other places, so I’m here.”

“Good.”  George took a sip of his coffee.  “What makes you think I wouldn’t bust your balls today?”

Xavier thought about that for a moment.  He was a little confused at what he said but made out ‘bust balls today.”  

“You don’t know me, so you don’t know what you can get away with.  Go too far and I might lose my shit or you’ll have to deal with some HR issues from hazing your new black partner on his first day.  But you want to see that I’m not...”

“A waste of space.  Good instincts.”  George took another sip.  “Next question, feel like lunch?”

“Uhh...”  Xavier looked around, not liking the selection cafeteria.

“Not here, somewhere else.  Besides, we should get away from here and get you familiar with your new Hell.  I’ll buy, but I’m cheap.”

“OKAY.”  Xavier and George left the table and returned to his desk.  There was no small talk between them, and Xavier’s large frame drew a few looks.  George packed up his laptop, grabbed his coat and keys, and motioned for Xavier to follow him.  They didn’t talk on their way to the elevator, down the elevator, or into the parking lot.  It wasn’t until they got to his vehicle, a Maroon Police Interceptor SUV, that George said anything.

“You’ll probably get your computer and phone later today or tomorrow.  Depends on how fast IT moves.”  George opened the tailgate and put his laptop bag in there.  George climbed in the driver’s seat, Xavier in the passenger.  There’s a Five Guys in the strip mall over the hill.  You in the mood for a burger?”

“SURE.”

George started up the engine and buckled up.  Xavier did the same.

“So, what happened with the ear?”  George put the car into drive.

“FLASHBANG DURING A CROWD CONTROL EXERCISE.  RIGHT EAR IS SCREWED BUT THE LEFT STILL WORKS.”

“How screwed?”  George pulled out of the parking space and headed to the exit.

“DOCTORS SAY IT’S 80% GONE.  I’VE GOT A CONSTANT RINGING THAT’S GONE DOWN A LITTLE, BUT ALWAYS THERE.  SOUNDS LIKE A BLOWN-OUT SPEAKER.  THE LEFT TOOK SOME DAMAGE, BUT SHOULD RECOVER IN TIME.  I’M WAITING ON A HEARING AID TO COME IN, HOPEFULLY THAT MAKES A DIFFERENCE.”

“So that’s why you’re screaming all the time?”

“IS IT THAT BAD?”

“What, to have a 6’6”, 300-pound black man constantly screaming at you?  I don’t see how that could possibly be a detriment in our job.  It’s not like we ever have to talk to rape victims right after the most traumatic experience of their lives and the slightest shock can cause them to freeze up.”

Xavier looked at him with an expression of dread.  “THAT BAD?”

“Well, I’m sure it’ll help in the box when some perp tries to play coy.  You raise your voice, and they’ll piss themselves.”  Xavier chuckled a bit.  George kept driving.  “So, how did you end up here?”

“AT THE STATION?  I DROVE.  I HAVE A CAR.”

“Mother fucker.  No, how did you become a cop?  What did you do before this?”

“I’VE BEEN A COP FOR 6 YEARS.  I WAS ON THE HARBOR CITY POLICE SQUAD FOR THREE YEARS, THEN TRANSFERRED TO COUNTY AND SPENT 3 YEARS IN S.W.A.T.  I TOOK THE DETECTIVE’S EXAM LAST MONTH AND MY PROMOTION WAS SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN IN A FEW MONTHS, BUT THE INJURY SPED THINGS UP.  BEFORE THAT I WAS IN THE MARINES FOR 4 YEARS STRAIGHT OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL AND WENT TO HCU FOR 4 YEARS.”

“Ah, jarhead.  I’ll bring some crayons in tomorrow so you can have a snack.”  

“FUCK YOU.”

“See, we’re already getting along.  Let me guess, Rifleman and MP, then got your Crim degree from Harbor City U.”

“AFFIRMATIVE.  WHAT ABOUT YOU SIR?”

“I’m George, not sir.  We’re the same rank now, more or less.”  George stopped at a red light.  “I’ve been on the force for 22 years.  17 of that has been as a Sergeant and Detective, and the last 12 of those have been in the Sex Crimes division.  I bounced around a few groups before to get a taste of things, but landed here.”  George hit the gas as the light turned green.  “And I’ve hated every day since.  Soon, you will too.”

“WHY?”

“X, mind if I call you X?”

“NO.”

“X, you will see shit you cannot unsee.  You will meet the scum of the scum, and lose your goddamn mind when they walk away, knowing damn well they’re going to again do what you had them for dead to rights.  You saw combat in the Marines, right?”

“YES SI... GEORGE.”

“Well, you’re going to see worse.  You’ll see shit that will give you nightmares.  But you’ll also see how to play the system.  And it’s in playing the system that we’ll get justice.”

“NOT SURE I FOLLOW.”

“Okay.  Our division has one of, if not the lowest clearance rates in the department at only 35 percent.  In 7 out of 20 sexual assaults and rapes, we arrest the perpetrator for that crime.  That is low for most divisions, but is pretty good for the national average.  We’re in the hardest area to get a conviction but the easiest to transfer cases out of.  Most cases that end up with us will get transferred out to someone for an easy case.”

“WHY?  AREN’T WE TRYING TO CATCH RAPISTS?”

George turned on his turn signal, then made a right turn into the parking lot of a strip mall.  He looked for a parking space and pulled in, putting the maroon SUV in park.

“We are, but rape is one of the hardest cases to prove.  There’s a hundred things that are easier for us to arrest for and the DA to prosecute.  It’s great to put a bad guy in jail for rape, but I’ll take putting a bad guy in jail for a weapons charge than risk letting him walk.”

“OKAY.”

George chewed his lip for a moment, thinking of where to take the conversation next.

“Let’s get some lunch.”

The two police officers exited the car and went inside Five Guys.  They placed their orders then sat at a corner table.  They arrived before the bulk of the lunch rush.  Still, with as loud as Xavier could be, George had a feeling their conversation could make other guests uncomfortable.

George pulled out his burger of a brown paper bag, unwrapped the foil, and bit into it.  Xavier did the same with a much larger burger.  A partially torn bag of French fries sat on the table between them.  George positioned himself so he was closer to Xavier’s left, good ear.

“You hear me alright?”

Xavier took a big bite of his burger.  “More or less” he said through a full mouth.

“Ok.  How many sex assaults do you think get reported to us?  As a percentage of how many happen, not a number?”

“50?”

“Not even close.”

“75?”

“Wrong direction.”

“25?”

“10.”

“10?”

“10.  10 percent of sexual assaults get reported to our desk.  That’s how many end up with us, anyway.  Most never get reported, or something goes wrong with reporting and the victim gives up, or they’ll make a report but have a change of heart.  Either it’s too much stress, they don’t want to relive it in court...”

“OR SHE’S LYING?”  Xavier said between bites.

“Almost never.  There’s the occasional person who resides in the dark triad who’ll try to use us to hurt someone, but that is a very small percentage.”

“WHAT’S THE DARK TRIAD?”

“Inside voice, X.  The dark triad is a term for the psychological traits of Machiavellianism, Narcissism, and Psychopathy.  Some seriously fucked up people.”  George takes a bite, chews and swallows quickly so he can continue talking.  “Anyway, most sexual assaults don’t get to us.  Those that do, we then investigate how credible the claim is.  And the perpetrator.  And the evidence.  And the victim.  Then after all of that we have to take everything to the DA and see if we can get a prosecution.  If we’re extremely lucky, we’ll get a perp, enough evidence to not rely on the victim’s testimony too much, and have a victim who is believable enough to convince a jury of 12 men and women that what happened happened and that this perp needs to rot in jail for the good of the world.  That’s if we’re really fucking lucky.”

“How often we lucky?”  X asked between bites.

“Not nearly enough.  Most often there isn’t enough evidence, the victim is sketchy on details because of nerves or they don’t remember, or the victim themselves would have a hard time being believed in court.  That one pisses me off the most.  You ever see defendant in a murder trial say the victim had it coming because of their job, or a robber use the defense that the victim was begging to be mugged because of how they were dressed or where they went after dark?”

“THAT’S FUCKED.”

“Yep.”  George took a sip of his fountain drink.  “I’ve lost count of how many cases we’ve had to let go or pass off because some chickenshit ADA didn’t want to lose the trial because some young woman got raped after dancing with the perp at a night club when they went back to his place and she said no.  I’ve got a list of mother fuckers that if I ever see their names come across my desk again, I will bury them.”

Xavier took another bite and finished his burger.  George was maybe at the halfway point.

“There is good news, though.”

“WHAT’S THAT?”

“I’m old and bitter.  And bad guys rarely only do one thing bad.  Remember how I told you that we pass off a lot of cases?”

“YEAH.”

“We pass off more cases to other divisions for easy clearance than anyone else.  For every case we sit on that we can’t clear, there’s 2 or 3 that we pass over to Robbery, Narcotics, or anyone.  Hell, I’ve helped clear money laundering and tax fraud cases that started with rape investigations.”

“WAIT, MONEY LAUNDERING FROM RAPE?”

“Fuck, inside voice X. But yeah.  Asshole banker raped his secretary and pimped her out to a client, real big hot shots.  It would be very hard to get this case to stick, but during the interview she mentioned that the asshole was trying to scare her from going to the cops but he sent it from company email.  She gave us, my partner at the time and I, this mail from official letterhead, but the company was different.  This second company was some charity he had set up that he donated to.  We bring the financial guys in since this sounds fishy to us but isn’t our ballpark, and they think something is rotten in Denmark.  We get a warrant for both the company email and charity email to prove their legit, and HOLY SHIT.  They uncovered $37 million in fraud between 3 people.”

“37 MILLION DOLLARS?”

“Yeah.  They donated money from the bank he worked at to this charity he ran, and would hold these expensive galas for stupid causes, like Save the Left-Handed Whales or some shit like that.  They’d donate some funds at the end of the night, but it would be a fraction of what they spent.  They’d drop like $50,000 on catering and $20,000 on ice sculptures for these events.  They’d hire a string quartet, the whole nine yards.  The emails discovered pointed to these crooks setting up dummy companies in either their names or their relatives, like their cousins or nieces and nephews.  They’d then all buy supplies from each other, and pretty soon the money would disappear.  The actual cost less was much less.  They’d spend $50,000 on catering, the caterer would pocket 5 grand, claim they spent 45 on staff and supplies, meanwhile their suppliers only reported getting 10, and the rest would get reinvested into the bank this came from, then redonated.  On paper at least.  In reality, they shuffled it around until it was laundered then lived high off the hog until the next soirée.  Organized financial crime, the largest ever prosecuted and convicted in Chester County’s history, and it all started from a rape investigation.”

“THE PERKINKS, PAUL, AND BANNER CASE WAS YOU?”

George smiled.  “Like I said, we passed this off when it got weird.  The boys in Finance did the heavy lifting, I dished them the rock.”

“I REMEMBER READING ABOUT THAT IN COLLEGE.  MY PROF AT THE TIME WAS GRINNING FROM EAR TO EAR TALKING ABOUT THAT CASE, LIKE SOME PROUD PAPA.”

“Inside voice.  Who was your professor?”

“John Mastracci for Theoretical Criminology.”

George smiles at hearing the name.  “I remember that old fuck.  Used to bust my balls when I started out.  He was one of my first sergeants when I was still on traffic duty.  He would talk until he forgot what he was talking about, then start all over.  One day we fucked with him so hard that we spent the entire shift making him start over.  He lost track of time so bad that the Captain came in for the beginning of the next shit and lost it.  We were in the meeting room for 6 hours.  It was fucking glorious.”

“He could go on and on and on.  You gonna finish those fries?”  Xavier asked George.

“No, take’em.  We’re wrapping up here, need to head back soon.  Besides, I’ll tell you about the worst part of this job in the car.”

“WHAT’S THAT?”

“Jurisdictions.”



A few minutes after lunch, Detectives George Lewis and Xavier Harrison were getting inside of an unmarked Ford Police Interceptor SUV, maroon in color.  George climbed back into the driver’s seat, Xavier in the passenger side.  They buckled up and George started the car.

“What was I gonna bitch about next?”

“JURISDICTIONS.”

“Yeah, jurisdictions.  We’re Chester County Police Department.  We cover all of Chester County.”  George put the car into drive and pulled out of the parking spot.  “Chester county.  Home of Harbor City and it’s 1.2 million inhabitants year-round.  And another 1.1 million in the suburbs.  Also, home to about 200,000 college students at 3 major universities, including the Power 5 school Harbor City Univeristy.”  George pulled to the far end of the strip mall and exited, stopping at red light.  “Then there are 5 smaller universities, a dozen or so trade schools, and a bunch of actual schools.  Then there are a dozen or so larger hospitals, some factories, headquarters for 3 Fortune 100 companies, 5 shopping malls, and enough gated communities and retail stores to employ every high school dropout as a security guard for the next 50 years.”

The light turned green and George turned left back towards the station.

“Let’s not forget our state-of-the-art-from-the-1960’s rapid transit system of trains, subways, and buses.  Do you know what all of those things have in common?”

“NOT REALLY.”

“They all have their own police force, security guards, resource officers, or some other term to make some rent-a-cop feel good about taking down mall ninjas.”

“MALL NINJAS?”

“Losers that dress in black tactical gear carrying around stupid weapons.”

“VIRGINS?”

“Probably, but even whales need loving.  But we’ve got a problem in this county where every local yokel thinks that we’re stepping in on their toes.  Meanwhile, they wouldn’t know how to open a rape kit, let alone work one.  We lose more cases because some local dipshit out in Blairston decided he wanted to be Harry Hardass to the victim and now she doesn’t want to press charges.”

“SO THEY DON’T WANT US AROUND?”

“Not really.  Not the low-level twerps.  Their management knows we can help them out.  That’s when they want our help.  Aside from the city, most of these forces don’t have a dedicated investigation unit for sex crimes.  And we work pretty well with the city.  At least once a year we get some dipshit who thinks he’s Perry Mason and tries to crack a rape case wide open, just to fuck it up for everyone.  We’ll get called in a lot by smaller departments to help them, even the city.  But don’t ever expect to see Collegetown.”

“WHY’S THAT?” Xavier said, once again not realizing how loud he was.

“College cops don’t give a flying fuck about stopping crime or putting bad guys in jail.  They only care about keeping their crime rate down.  What’s the best way of keeping those numbers down?”

“DON’T REPORT THE CRIME.  BUT WHY?”

“You got kids X?”

“TWO LITTLE BOYS, GIRL ON THE WAY.  YOU?”

“One of each, and the older boy is getting ready to go to college.  That little fucker gets a couple dozen letters from schools all over the country every week.  They all brag about how they’re great at this or that, but you know one thing they all boast over?”

“CRIME RATE?”

“Crime rate.  Specifically, the violent crime rate and the near non-existence of rapes and sex assaults on campus.  According to HCU’s brochure, they haven’t had a rape on campus in 3 years.  You’d have to go back a decade to find the last 5.

“THE FUCK!?”

“Yeah.  If you believe their numbers, you are dumber than I look.”

“I DON’T KNOW, YOU LOOK PRETTY DUMB.”

“So you’d have to be pretty fucking dumb to believe that there hasn’t been a rape on campus in almost 3 years.  The campus cops sweep away, obfuscate, and fuck up more cases than I’d ever count.  Don’t ever expect to get a call near the heart of any of the campuses.  We might get something between them on one of the side streets in Oakville, but most likely the only way we’ll get called in is if City gets there first.  They’ll call us in just to fuck with the campus cops, and I’m all up for fucking with them.”

“WE AREN’T LIKED MUCH, ARE WE?”

“Unlike SWAT, no one calls to stand around and look good or lend a hand at the county fair.  If we’re coming, it’s because someone just had the worst day of their life.”

George pulled into the parking lot.  He drove to a parking spot and put the car in park.  He turned off the car.

“So, what have you learned?”

“LIFE SUCKS, WORK SUCKS, SEX CRIMES SUCK, PEOPLE SUCK, COLLEGES SUCK, AND EVERYONE HATES US.”

“Halfway to Lieutenant.  IT should have your stuff by now.”

 
« Last Edit: August 20, 2020, 11:16:14 PM by LtBroccoli »
Always close the program you were running before exiting the holodeck

Offline LtBroccoli

  • Undergrad
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  • Posts: 778
  • Merits 251
Learning the Basics (Nosex, descriptions of rape)

Author’s Note:  This is a work of fiction.  All characters and locations are made up.  The acts portrayed are also fictional.  Rape is wrong, racism is wrong, violence is wrong.

Author’s Second Note:  This is also character introduction and setup, and will tie in to the rest of the story in the future.




When the detectives returned from lunch, Xavier found that he had a new desk to sit at and some new equipment, along with one of the IT guys to help get his stuff set up.  George took this time to go to the bullpen and see what was coming their way.

The bullpen, as he called it, was a windowless conference room that could fit about 10 people with 3 whiteboards the largest wall.  A projector hung from the ceiling and pointed to one of the short walls while a TV screen was mounted to a rolling AV cart.  Four filing cabinets lined the back wall, each one stationed to the side of one of the whiteboards.  The table was a light brown color with a series of power outlets and connectors in the center.  The walls of the room were a dingy beige color.

George Lewis sat in the center chair of the long side of the table, his back facing the door.  His travel mug sat on the table.  He read the three whiteboards and looked at a couple case folders when Detective Xavier Harrison entered.

“WHAT’S THIS?”  X asked George.  For his part, George didn’t jump when the big man yelled this time.

“Welcome to the bullpen.  This is where a lot of our work happens.  Sit, might as well get used to this place.” 

X closed the door behind him and sat down at the seat closest to the door.

“THIS WHAT WE WORKING ON?”

“Sort of.  Fresh cases, current cases, cold cases recent transfers.”  George pointed to each of the boards from left to right.

“Fresh cases are new to us.  They could have come in a few minutes ago, or were called in to some local yokel 3 months ago but just got transferred over to us.  Current cases are what you, me, and the rest of the team are working on.  Don’t get too territorial, you’ll get your toes trampled on quite enough.  Don’t get your panties in a bunch if all of a sudden Ortiz or Santana close a case you were working on.  The last board...”

X cut off George.

“WAIT, WHO’S SANTANA AND ORTIZ?”

“Detectives Hector Santana and Victor Ortiz.  They work night shift over the weekends.  They’re damn good, too.  You’ll meet them eventually.  Counting you, me, Cappy, and those two, that’s 5 people on our 7-person team.  There’s also Paul Swanson and Gary Waltz.  They work mostly evenings.  Heard a rumor that we might be getting some transfer from Humdinger, but nothing solid yet.  I hate transfers.”

“WHY?”

“Because transfers leave for one of three reasons.  They fucked up so bad they have to run and hide, they fucked up real good and need to run and hide, or they’re looking for something new because they feel like it.  The first group are nothing but bad trouble cause they’re probably running from a brutality case, the second group is nothing but good trouble but will probably piss off someone from the first group then we’ll have to deal with it, and the last group just weirds me out.  Like, ‘let’s throw away several years of my pension because I don’t like the coffee shop in my area anymore.’  At least the first two are predictable dangers.”

X looked at George for a moment, wondering if this cynicism was from experience or not.

“But like I said, that’s just a rumor.  There’s seven of us, in a department of nearly 400, to handle almost all of the rape cases in Chester County.  In a given week we’ll have 20-30 cases to work on.  Most of them we get come in barely lukewarm from local departments that held onto them for a few weeks, or months.  We usually get those on Monday and Tuesday each week.  That’s the board on the left.  The middle board are the cases we’re actively working, doing actual police work on.  The last board is the cold and transfer board.  These are cases that we got new info on, transferred to a different department, or something happened that we need to crack open and take a second look at.  For example, if we received a report that someone was molested by a priest 30 years ago, this is where it would go to see what we had on Father Kiddiefucker.  Each filing cabinet to the left of the board has the current files there.  Most of the physical stuff is in storage when we’re not working on it.  Sure, it’s all digital now, too, but there’s something to be said about feeling and handling the actual notes.”

X did a quick count.  3 boards, 4 filing cabinets.

“WHAT’S WITH THE LAST CABINET?”

“That,” George perked up when asked “That is my Dead and Rumored Cases Cabinet.  Those are for unofficial cases and leads.  For one reason or another, a victim declined to press charges or just wanted to forget it or were pressured into leaving things go.  Or I hear about some weird shit from people that don’t want to go through the system.  That’s where I keep that info.  Just in case.”

“IN CASE WHAT?”

“In case we get an actual case against a perp.  Nothing crushes a defense lawyer’s day faster than when he says ‘My client is being falsely accused by this one vindictive woman’ and the DA reads off a list of 7 other women that were raped by that prick.  It helps when we get cases with vague reports or there just wasn’t enough by itself, so we look a little closer into the perp.  It also includes notes from various places and people outside of Chester County.  Just in case that asshole up by the lake ever tries any shit down here.”

X looked at George getting a little heated.

“Long story, X.  Anyway, this is also where we go over evidence and do most of our work that shouldn’t be seen by anyone else in the department.  We deal with a lot of, delicate information, that can fuck with a person if they weren’t expecting to see it.  There’s a reason that Robbery and Vice have huge sections of the building, but Sex Crimes is restricted to a sound proof, windowless room.”

“BECAUSE WE INVESTIGATE THE SICKEST OF THE SICKEST?”  Xavier didn’t so much ask that but give George the answer he was looking for.

“Correct.  The reason we got sequestered to this room was a few years back we were working on a case involving some sick fuck that was pimping out his 9-year-old daughter and filming it.  We’ve got video, photos, enough evidence that the girl didn’t need to testify.  I’m going over it with the ADA, when all of a sudden, the Chief, his Deputy, a couple council members, and some of their staff come around the corner.  They were not expecting to see a 9-year-old getting fucked by a dog.  Prosecutor and I are going through the video, pointing out how the girl’s moles and freckles matched with pictures taken by the doctor, and I hear half a dozen people freak the fuck out behind us.  After some choice words back and forth and a LOT of yelling by the Brass, we got this room.  Homicide doesn’t get forced into a conference room, but they don’t see the shit we do.”

George took a sip of coffee before continuing.

“It’s also a nice place to relax and get away from everyone.  No one comes in here unless they have to.  Only the team and one or two staffers come in here regularly, and everyone always knocks.  No one wants to walk in on shit that will make you hate humanity.”

George took another sip.  X looked like he wanted to say something.

“There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.  And if it feels too disgusting, don’t worry.  I’ve been here long enough that I don’t get shocked easily.  What is it?”

“HOW OFTEN DO WE GET CASES WITH KIDS?”

“Too often.  Though once is too often.  Probably a few cases a month.  We’ll get the call from CYS or from a mandatory reporter who was worried about the kid, but most of the time it was either nothing or the family circles the wagons to protect the offender.  They don’t want the stigma of having grandpa being a known kiddie fucker, so they’ll keep their secret to the grave and let the abuse continue.  This is also where most of my complaints have come from.”

“SIR?”

“I don’t get mad very often, but when I do it’s because of bad people hurting kids.  I’ve had three complaints in ten years about putting my hands on suspects.  All three of them were dirty men that were abusing kids but used their positions to keep the kids and their families quiet.  After politely telling them that if anything happened to those kids, they would be the primary suspect, and them acting like they got away with it, their stomachs would have a run-in with my fist.  On accident, of course.  All three complaints were dropped after it was pointed out to them that if this went public, they would have to explain why they were making an excessive force claim against a detective in the sex crimes division who happened to view them as a person of interest in a child rape case.  Complaints get dropped real quick that way.”

George took another sip of coffee.

“Don’t worry too much, X.  I’ll try to ease you in with some less fucked cases, but I make no promises.  Besides, it’s the best time of year.”

“HOW SO?”

“It’s almost Spring, but it’s still pretty chilly.  It’s spring break time for the colleges, not like we’d ever get any calls.  You just missed the St. Patty’s rush, though we might see some drunken assaults come in today. We’ll get the occasional assault report from joggers getting out for the first time in a long time, or finally stripping off the bulky sweats.  It’s too cold for the flashers unless they want to get laughed at for shrinkage, but it’s too hot for the home invaders to know exactly where everyone is.  Figure we’ve got a couple weeks of uncertainty before things get busy.  That’s a good thing.  I don’t want to be busy.  If we’re busy, it’s because a lot of people had the worst days of their lives.”

“WHAT DO WE DO NOW?  WE JUST SIT BACK AND WAIT FOR SOME CASES TO COME IN?”

“Pretty much.  If anything does come over, it’ll be later in the day.  All the current stuff is either waiting for a follow-up, waiting for a warrant, or waiting for the perp to pop up.  Like the Liotta case.  Young woman was roofied at a club, woke up in her apartment after an apparent rape.  Rape kit shows DNA belonging to someone that’s popped up on radar before named Dan Jameson.  Real troglodyte looking mother fucker.  Well, last known address was a trailer park.  He took an Uber from the bar to her place, then vanished.  Last known address up and moved, but we know that he visits mommy every month to deliver her medications right after her SSD check comes in.  Right now, we’re waiting for him to pick up mommy’s insulin, then grab his ass.  Then there’s the Stephanie Taylor case, which just seems really weird.”

X looked at George curiously.

“WHAT’S SO WEIRD ABOUT IT?”

“According to the report, it sounded like a home invasion robbery turned into a rape, but nothing was stolen.  She came home and someone was in the apartment, but then it gets crazy.  The report reads like it was taken by a Harry Hardass and had some contradictions in it.  Not a lot, but enough that we need to talk to her.  Problem is, we can’t reach her.  Her number was taken down incorrectly and she’s moved since then.  Can’t say I blame her.”

“WAIT, AN INVASION WITHOUT A BURGLARY?”

“Yeah, that’s what caught my eye, too.  According to the report, there were no signs of forced entry, she lived on the third floor of an apartment building with no elevator, and it’s a secured building with no other break-ins or attacks in the surrounding couple months.”

X sat up in his seat.

“HAD TO BE AN INSIDE JOB.  PERP KNEW HER, COULD GET IN AND OUT.  NO ONE BREAKS INTO A THIRD FLOOR APARTMENT UNLESS THEY KNOW WHAT’S THERE, AND SINCE THE ONLY THING DONE WAS THE RAPE, SHE WAS THE TARGET.”

“Exactly.  Victim claims that she didn’t know the man.  He was wearing a mask and she didn’t recognize his voice.  He wore gloves and cleaned up everything he touched, including her, after he tied her up and hid her phone.”

“HID HER PHONE?”

“Yeah.  He left her tied up in the living room and told her to count to 100 before trying to get untied.  She spent an hour in the shower sobbing when she got there.  She didn’t go to the hospital so no rape kit or other physical evidence, but she said he recorded the attack.  What do you think?”

X took in what George said before responding.

“IT WAS A PLANNED ATTACK, LIKE A VICARIOUS RAPE.  SHE WAS SET UP BY SOMEONE WHO WANTED TO SEE THIS.  THERE WAS A CONSPIRACY TO DO THIS, BUT WITHOUT KNOWING MORE ABOUT HER I CAN’T TELL YOU WHO WOULD BE BEHIND IT.  MOST LIKELY A MAN THAT KNOWS HER.  CO-WORKER OR CLASSMATE, LIKELY SOME JILTED WANNABE LOVER.  THEY HIRED SOMEONE TO DO THIS, BUT HOW DID THEY PAY?  AS FAR AS SUSPECTS, WHAT DOES SHE LOOK LIKE?”

“One sec.”  George stood up from the chair and walked over to the filing cabinet.  After a moment, he had Stephanie Taylor’s file in his hands and was flipping through it.

“No picture, but the report lists her as a young female adult, short, early twenties with blonde hair.  So, we’ll say cute.  No roommates at the time, so she was the target.  Looks like she just graduated school but was working at Beefy’s over at Cornwall.  The attack happened a few months ago, but she might still be there.”

George looked up from the file in his hand.

“Feel like a second lunch?”

“AS LONG AS I DON’T HAVE TO EAT THAT SLOP THEY CALL MEAT.  THAT SHIT IS NASTY.”

X stood up and opened the door.  George grabbed his stuff and followed.
Always close the program you were running before exiting the holodeck

Offline LtBroccoli

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The Stephanie Taylor Investigation (Nosex, descriptions of rape)

Author’s Note:  This is a work of fiction.  All characters and locations are made up.  The acts portrayed are also fictional.  Rape is wrong, racism is wrong, violence is wrong.

Author’s Second Note:  This is also character introduction and setup, and will tie in to the rest of the story in the future.


Detectives George Lewis and Xavier ‘X’ Harrison arrived at Beefy’s close to 2PM.  George and X walked to the lobby door, holding the door open for a young woman wearing a red hoodie.

They stood around for a moment, casing the place.  It was the end of the lunch rush for the fast food restaurant with close to a dozen people working and about 40 diners in the place.  From what they could see of the staff, it was a mix of men and women, most people wearing ugly polo shirts and hats.  There were two men and a woman each wearing a button up shirt.  The men were each running a section of the restaurant, but they both deferred to the woman in her late 40’s. 

“See anything you want?”  George asked X.  X didn’t hear him.  George took out his phone and typed in the notes app.

“What do you want?”

X shook his head.

“You should get something.  We’re asking questions.  It’s good to buy food when asking questions, especially of the manager.  They tell more when you buy.  I’m getting a shake.  One for each of us.  Chocolate?”

X nodded.  George waited until the woman manager made her way to the register before stepping up to the register.

“Welcome to Beefy’s.”  She said.  George looked at her name tag.  Rebecca.

“Hi, I’d like 2 chocolate shakes, large.”  Rebecca rang up the order and George paid.  As she came back from the shake machine, he had his ID in his hand, folded closed.  She pushed the shakes to over to George.

“Thanks.  Hey, quick question.  I’m looking for someone who worked here a few months back, not sure if she’s still here.  Her name is Stephanie Taylor.”

Rebecca’s eyes and posture grew stiff.

“Who are you?”

George unfolded his wallet, showing his ID and police badge.

“I’m Detective George Lewis, Chester County Police Department.”

“Is this about the bank robbery?”

George wasn’t expecting this, but saw this as a possible avenue of conversation.

“I’m not at liberty to say, or to discuss ongoing cases with other people ma’am.  Does she still work here?”

Rebecca relaxed and let out a sigh.

“Thank God it’s not anything worse.  She’s had a rough last couple months.  Now, as soon as she starts a new job at the bank, they get robbed in her first week on the job.  She works here on the weekends and her days off.  You just missed her.”

“By how much?”

“Not long, maybe a couple minutes.  She was wearing a red hoodie.”  George chuckled.

“What?  I held the door for her on her way out.  When’s her next shift?”

“Saturday, she opens and will be here through lunch.”

George reached through his wallet with his ID, and pulled out a card that didn’t list his division.

“Can I give you my card?  Just in case you see her or talk to her before the weekend, you can give her this.  It has my work phone on it, she can call or text at any time.”

“Sure.”  George gave Rebecca the card. 

“Thanks.”  George took his shakes and left.  He handed one to X as they walked out.

“We walked right past her.”  George put the straw in his shake as he walked to the car.

“THAT GIRL IN THE RED HOODIE?”

“Yep.”  George unlocked their car and entered the driver’s seat.

“Quick tip.  Get two sets of cards made.  One that says what division you’re with, one that doesn’t.  That way, you’re not signaling to whomever you talked to that you’re investigating a rape case.  People get squirrelly about that.”

George started up the car and buckled up.  X entered the passenger seat.

“WHEN DOES SHE COME BACK?”

“Saturday, opening shift.  Assuming that Rebecca doesn’t give her my number before then, but I think she will.  Sounds like Stephanie works at a bank where there was a robbery.  She’s probably texting Stephanie the details right now.”

Just as George put the police issue SUV into gear, his phone rang.  He went back into park and answered the phone on speaker.

“Detective Lewis, Chester County Police Department.”

The voice of a young woman came through the phone.

“Hi, my name is Steph Taylor.  I just got a text from my boss with your phone number.”

“Yes, I just spoke to her a few minutes ago.  Is this a good time to talk?”  George pantomimed to X to grab a pen and notepad.  X did so with amazing speed.

“Look, I don’t know what else I can say about it.  There were three of them, they had guns, looked like pistols and a shotgun, but I didn’t catch their faces.  They took the money from every draw and told me to get on the floor and not look at them.”  The stress filled Steph’s voice.  George shook his head, knowing it was about to get worse.

“Ma’am, I’m not calling about the robbery.”

“You’re not?”

“No ma’am.  I’m calling about a report you filed back in November with Cornwall Police Department.”

Silence.  George let it hang in the air for a moment.

“Ms. Taylor, you still there?”

“Yeah, I’m here.”

“My partner and I had some questions about this case.  Are you available to talk about this?”

George could hear sniffling and crying over the phone.

“Yeah, yeah.  Where are you?”

“We’re at the Beefy’s parking lot?  Where did you want to meet?”

There was more sniffling coming through the phone.

“I’m over at Cornwall Combat Club, across the street.  Right next to TJ Maxx.  Who am I looking for?”

“I’m a middle aged bald white guy, my partner is a huge black guy, and we’re both wearing bad suits.  We’ll be there in a couple minutes.”

George hung up the phone.  X took what notes he felt that he needed to.

“You know anything about that place?”

“ONLY IN PASSING.  THEY’RE ONE OF THESE MMA FIGHT CLUBS, TEACH BJJ AND A FEW OTHER FORMS OF SELF DEFENSE.  MOST PEOPLE SIGNING UP ARE WANNABE TOUGH GUYS WHO THINK THEY CAN HANG WITH BROCK LESNAR OR ANDERSON SILVA.  BUT THEY DO GOOD WORK, HELP VICTIMS GET THEIR POWER BACK.”

“Good.”

It shouldn’t take 5 minutes to cross a street, but that light took forever.  That, and George wanted a little more of his shake.

They arrived at Cornwall Combat Club.  The lobby was colored in red and black, with a couple small couches to the left and a desk in the center.  A woman working on a computer barely looked up when the men walked in.  Pictures of fighters lined the walls.  A couple plants sat in the corners.

A young blonde woman sat on the couch.  She wore a pair of black pants, black non-slip shoes, and a red hoodie.  Her eyes were red from crying.

“Ms. Taylor?”  George asked, already suspecting that this was her.  She wiped away a few more tears.

“Yes.  I’m Stephanie Taylor.  You can call me Steph.”  She stood.  George flashed his badge with his left hand and reached out to shake her right.

“I’m Detective George Lewis.  This is my partner, Detective Xavier Harrison.”  He shook her hand, firmly but gently.  X followed suit, his huge hands engulfing hers.  She sat on the couch against the wall.  X pulled up a seat with his left side facing Steph so he could hear her.  George pulled over a stool to sit on, giving her the couch by herself.  George waited until everyone sat before starting, and spoke in hushed tones.

“Stephanie, we’re here about the report you filed on November 13th of 2017 with Cornwall Police, regarding an attack in your home on the 11th.  Is that correct?”

Stephanie nodded, her hands covering her face.  George continued.

“Would you mind telling us what happened?  Take as much time as you need.”

Stephanie breathed in a few deep breaths.  X went to the front desk, then returned with a box of Kleenex.  Steph grabbed a tissue and blew her nose before she spoke.

“It all started so fast.  I just got home from work, and I wasn’t paying attention when I walked in.  I opened the door.  I dropped my stuff, and before I know it, some guy had his hand over my mouth.  I couldn’t do anything.  I felt sharp, shooting pains in my back before I collapsed to the ground.  He shoved something in my mouth because when I came back around I couldn’t scream and he had handcuffed me behind my back and tape was wrapped around my head.  I couldn’t scream or talk.  He grabbed me by the hair and picked me up by it.  I had to stand, it hurt too much to stay down.  He walked me over to the couch and threw me on it.  By the time I knew what was going on, he climbed on top of me and pulled out a box cutter.  He cut off my shirt, then removed my bra and played with, with my breasts.”

Stephanie took a moment to calm herself.

“He was mean.  He bit me, slapped me, kept undressing me, threatened me with the knife.  When I tried to fight him off, he just kept slapping my face and breast.  It fucking hurt, and he was getting excited about it. He called me Stephie, then yelled at me some more. Once he undressed me, that’s when he... that’s when he... that’s when he raped me.”

She cried again.  X took notes while George patted her on the shoulder.  He didn’t say anything, just let her cry it out until she continued.

“But he wasn’t done.  One rape wasn’t enough for him.  He wiped his dick in my hair, then threw me over the edge of the couch.  He taunted and teased me the whole time.  He raped me again, this time bent over the couch before telling me he was recording it.  That’s when.  That’s when he raped my ass.”

Stephanie cried more at recalling the attack.  The receptionist looked over the desk to see what was going on but didn’t say anything.  Stephanie regained her strength.

“He just kept going, and going.  He enjoyed humiliating me.  He went out of his way to hurt me.  But the worst.  The worst was that he made me cum from that attack.”

Stephanie was full-on ugly crying at this point.  They let her go for a bit.  George patted her on the shoulder again.  Stephanie used another couple tissues blow her nose and wipe her eyes.

“He raped me three more times before he left.  He used me like a piece of meat.  I just couldn’t do anything after that.  By the time he was done, I was done.  I didn’t want to move.  He tied me up and hid my phone in the bathroom.  He said to count to 100 before I tried to free myself, and if I ever went to the cops, he’d release the video.  I didn’t call the cops, they showed up for a welfare check when I didn’t leave for a couple days.  I’m always going somewhere, but Mrs. Hanraty thought it was weird that no one came or left my place for a two days.  The one time her nosiness paid off.”

George let Stephanie cry and relax for a moment before asking any more questions.

“This was at Winter Gardens, apartment 306?”  George asked.

“Yeah.”

“Did that building have an elevator?” 

George’s question caught her off guard.

“No.  One of the reasons I was going to move before the attack was that I was sick and tired of climbing three flights of stairs every night after work.  Why is that important?  Your first question after all of that was about the elevator?”

“I’ll get to the guy in a moment.  Was anything out of place?  Anything missing?”

“No, everything was there.  I mean, I didn’t notice anything missing, but my cash was where I left it, and the bedroom was the same mess I normally keep it.”

George looked at X after Stephanie gave that answer.

“MA’AM.”  X caught himself, forcing his ‘inside voice.’

“Ma’am, was there anyone who might have wanted to hurt you?  Maybe an ex-boyfriend, someone who couldn’t take no for an answer?”

Stephanie thought for a moment, before shaking her head.

“No.”

“What about any creepy co-workers or classmates?”

She thought for a second before answering.

“Well, I wouldn’t go so far as creepy, but I’d get some weird looks from some guys in class, and a few co-workers too.  We counting the randos on Instagram and Tinder who send dick pics?”

“Probably not, unless it looked familiar.  Could you give us some names?”

“Sure, but I don’t see where this is going.  They don’t look anything like the attacker.”

“I understand.  I just want to follow up on something.”

“Okay.  Well, from work, there was Brandon, Abdul, Micah, Jake.  Brandon Jones, Micah Franks, Jake Johannsen.  I don’t have Abdul’s last name, I can try to get it to you next time I work.  Only guy who stands out from school was Mason.  I don’t have his last name.  But he was one of those incel geeks and weighed like 400 pounds.”

X took down the names in his notes.  Stephanie looked at what he was writing.

“I don’t get it.  You’re asking about these other guys, but not the rapist?”

“What can you tell us about the attacker?”  George piped in.  Stephanie took a deep breath.  Then another.  The detectives gave her as much time as she needed.

“He was taller than me, about your height.”  She said, pointing to George.  “He was white, skinny but muscular, like he worked out.  He wore a ski mask but I couldn’t see any hair sticking out.  He had brown eyes.  I didn’t see any tattoos or scars.  His voice... His voice was average but I’ll never forget it.  I didn’t see any birthmarks or anything like that.  When he left, he was wearing dark clothes.”

Stephanie cried again as she recalled her attacker.  George patted her on the shoulder.

“I’m sorry, this is just...”

“I know.”

As George was consoling Stephanie, a lanky man wearing workout gear and walking with a ‘fuck with me and find out’ demeanor approached the three people sitting on the couch.  X turned to look at this man.  George saw X turn, then followed his gaze.

“Steph, you okay?  These men bothering you?”  The man stopped within striking distance of George.  George took his right hand off of Steph’s shoulder and put his left hand in his jacket.  X reached slowly into his coat pocket.  George stood slowly, pulling out a wallet, then opened it to this man his badge.

“Detective George Lewis, CCPD.  This is my partner Xavier Harrison.  And you are?”

The man was taken aback.  George let him get a good look at the badge before closing it and extending his hand for a shake.  The man grabbed it and shook, confused for a moment.

“Max Broderick.  I run this gym.  Who’s CCPD?”

“Chester County Police Department.  We were asking Ms. Taylor some questions.”

“Steph?”  Max looked at Steph, a mix of confusion and protection came over his face.

“It’s okay, Max.  They’re here about the attack.  Detective, he can stay if he wants, I told him about it a while back.”

George and Max broke off their awkward handshake, and Max pulled over a stool to sit on.  George sat back down, and the four of them conversed.  George waited for him to stop fidgeting with his chair before talking.

“Okay Max, when did you meet Stephanie?”

“I met her back in January, when she joined the gym.  I’ve worked with her a couple times a week for the last couple months.  She was pretty secretive when she started here, didn’t go into details about too much other than work and school, but opened up over time.  A few weeks ago, she felt comfortable enough to tell me that she joined this gym so she could defend herself from another attack.  She mentioned that she was raped in her old apartment, but I didn’t want to press her for details.  She’s been coming here almost every day for the last month.  She’s getting real good, too.”

Steph blushed a bit.  George turned to her.

“Is what he saying true?”

“Not sure about me getting better, but the rest is true.”

“And this is some kind of MMA gym?”

Max responded to X’s query.

“Yes.  We teach several types of fighting and self-defense but our bread and butter is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  It’s the dominant form used in modern MMA.  Most people that join have dreams of being a cage-fighter, but some just want to defend themselves or get healthy and nothing challenges a person quite like getting punched in the face all day.  Steph isn’t the first woman to come here after being assaulted, and I’m sad to say she won’t be the last.  After a while you can tell who’s here for their dreams and who’s here for other reasons.  She’s a fighter, whether she knew it or not.”

Max reached out and grabbed Steph’s hand to comfort her.



--------------------------------------



George and max went through the events with Stephanie again from top to bottom.  Everything matched up.  She recalled how after he left, she freed herself and eventually found her phone in the bathroom.  That detail caught George’s attention.  He asked her if it appeared that her phone was tampered with in any way.  She said no, the battery died before she got home.  “Maybe that’s why I didn’t see him when I came home?  I was so busy thinking about charging my phone I missed the masked man hiding behind the door.”

After a while George and X thanked Stephanie and Max for their time.  He gave her his card, and the card to a therapist he knew in the area, in case she needed to talk to someone else about her ordeal.  George and X left.  He watched Max and Steph walk back to the gym.  Max acted like a protective big brother to her.

Back in the car, George and X went over their notes and compared their thoughts.

“So what do you think X?”

“ABOUT WHAT?”  X said, buckling his seat belt.

“About everything.  I want to see if we’re on the same page.”

X grabbed his notepad and skimmed through it.

“I THINK SHE’S TELLING THE TRUTH.  MAX DIDN’T LIKE US BEING THERE.  THIS WAS A PLANNED ATTACK, NOT SOME RANDOM ROBBERY.  SHE DIDN’T RECOGNIZE THE ATTACKER AND HE HAD NO IDENTIFYING MARKS, AND THE BODY TYPE OF HER ATTACKER DIDN’T MATCH ANY OF THE CREEPS SHE KNEW.”

George started the engine and let it run for a moment.

“You talked about a vicarious rape earlier.  Like someone raped her for someone else.  Does that still hold water?”

“LIKE A LAKE.  I’M MORE CONVINCED OF IT NOW.  WHOEVER RAPED STEPHANIE TAYLOR DID IT ON BEHALF OF SOMEONE ELSE FOR SOMETHING.  I KNOW IT SOUNDS CRAZY, BUT LOOK AT WHAT WE’VE GOT.  A PRETTY YOUNG WOMAN LIVING ALONE IN THE TOP FLOOR OF A 3 STORY APARTMENT BUILDING.  A HOME INVASION WHERE NOTHING WAS STOLEN.  THE ACTIONS OF AN EXPERIENCED IF NOT PROFESSIONAL RAPIST.  VIDEO RECORDING OF THE ATTACK, AND PERFORMING FOR THE CAMERA.  TIEING HER UP DURING AND AFTER THE ATTACK.  HITTING HER WITH A STUN GUN AS SOON AS SHE OPENED THE DOOR.  HIDING HER PHONE, THAT WHOLE COUNTING TO 100 BIT.  THAT IS SOME MESSED UP SHIT, NOT THE ACTIONS OF A RANDOM HORNY GUY.”

“I agree.  Which means we’re looking for at least two people.  The rapist and the one who set Stephanie up.  Maybe more.”

“WHY MORE?”

“How do you organize and orchestrate a rape?  It’s not like you can just call up and order one from Dominoes.  How do you motivate them to be so risky?  Plus, like you said they were experienced if not professional.  Unless one of our creeps has a crazy paramilitary friend, I don’t see how this comes cheap.”

“WHERE DO YOU ORDER A RAPE FOR HIRE?”

“Good question.  Can’t be out in the open, so I want to rule out places like Craigslist.  Possibly some dark web forums, but here’s another problem, you notice the timing?  On a Saturday night, after working her fast food job and dealing with school.  Did you work when you were in school?”

“A LITTLE.  DID SECURITY FOR CONCERTS AND SPORTS GAMES.”

“I worked a little as an undergrad but full time when I went to grad school.  I knew students that would work 40 or 50 hours then come to class then work their asses off to graduate.  It wasn’t easy.  One thing they never had was time.  Getting a weekend night off was like a small miracle.  Someone had to know her schedule forwards and backwards.  They had to know when she would be home, how to get in, and who to go after.  Plus, you catch that part about the nosy neighbor?  What, Mrs. Hanry?”

“HANRATY.”

“Yeah, her.  Somehow this lady didn’t hear the attack nor the attacker for several hours but caught wind that Stephanie didn’t leave her apartment for a couple days?”

X looked through the original police report.

“ACCORDING TO THE OLD REPORT, SHE’S A SEMI-RETIRED NURSE.  SHE WORKS A FEW NIGHTS A WEEK DOING HOME CARE.  SHE TOOK A JOB WATCHING AN OLD LADY IN LATE STAGE CANCER A COUPLE NIGHTS A WEEK.  SHE WAS OUT FROM TWO UNTIL MIDNIGHT.”

X looked up and over to George.

“THINK THAT WAS A COINCIDENCE, TOO?”

“In this job I stopped believing in coincidences a long time ago.  They happen, but I don’t trust them.  Feel like a drive to Winter Gardens?”

“YEAH, I WANT TO SEE THIS PLACE.  SOMETHING DOES ADD UP.”



--------------------------------------



It didn’t take the detectives long to get to Winter Garden Apartments, maybe 15 minutes with traffic.  It was close enough to Cornwall that driving for a minimum wage job at a fast food place wasn’t out of the question, and close enough to the highway to get to Collegetown in a half hour.

The men arrived at Winter Garden Apartments.  It was a three-story red brick building from the 60’s or 70’s that took up a sizeable chunk of the street.  There were several cars parked in front of the building, each in numbered spaces.  X did a quick count.  40 numbered spaces and a half dozen handicapped and visitor spots.  He noticed a sign warning of towing at the owner’s expense and ‘No Parking’ signs on the street.  He looked around and up.  Security cameras pointed at the parking lot.  Maybe they might get lucky.

They made their way through the outer door and to the inner door.  It had a security lock on it with an integrated number pad.  There was an intercom next to it.

“ASK ABOUT TOWING AND CAMERAS.”  X said to George.  The older man nodded, then pressed the button for the office.  It buzzed, and the voice of a woman came over the intercom.

“Winter Gardens Apartment Complex, How may I help you?”

“I’m Detective George Lewis from the Chester County Police Department.  I’d like to speak to someone from the rental office.”

There was a click, followed by a buzz and click from the door.  George grabbed the handle and opened it.  He and X entered.

The lobby was wide, with a table and chairs sitting in front of a receptionist desk.  The paint on the walls was neutral and the linoleum floor was worn with age.  X’s eye caught another security camera in the corner of the lobby.

They approached the desk.  A middle-aged white woman dressed in a sweater and wearing a cardigan over that sat behind a computer.

“How may I help you?”  She looked up at the men as they stood by the desk.  They pulled out their badges.

“I’m Detective George Lewis, this is my partner Detective Xavier Harrison.  We’re investigating an incident from last November.  We’d like to ask a few questions.”

The woman stood up.  “Sure, just meet me at the Manager’s office, right down this hallway.”  The men walked down the hallway as the receptionist put up a sign that said ‘RING BELL FOR SERVICE.’  After a moment she met the men at the office door and opened it, letting them in.

It was a cramped office, covered with books, binders, and stacks of papers and forms.  Filing cabinets overfilled.  The only sign of technology was a computer sitting on a desk and a phone that looked like it hasn’t been used in a long time.  Two chairs sat in front of the desk.  The woman moved to behind the desk while George and X sat down.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name?”

“Marlene.  Marlene Huska.”  George shook her hand, then she shook X’s hand.  All three sat down.  “What’s this about?”

“We’re investigating an incident that took place last November.”

“Oh, that.  I’m so sorry about what happened to her.  Stephanie is such a sweet, young woman.  It’s a shame what happened to her.”

George looked at her for a moment.  Marlene kept talking.

“This is about Stephanie Taylor, right?  It’s a pretty quiet building, not much happens, so when we have a police call made here news travels fast.”

“Yes, this is about that.  What do you know about what happened?”  George asked Marlene.  She shifted in her chair slightly.

“Not too much, aside from what I heard Mrs. Hanraty and a few others say.  Apparently someone broke into her room and attacked her.  She spent the next couple days crying in her room.  It wasn’t until Edith got worried cause she saw Stephanie’s car sitting in the lot but no movement from her room.”

“WHO IS...  I’m sorry, who is Edith?”  X corrected himself, forcing his voice quieter.

“Edith Hanraty.  She lives in 307, right across the hall.  Nice older lady, but ever since her Eddie died back in 2015, she’s been very lonely.  Loves to keep tabs on everyone else, and some of the neighbors keep an eye out for her.  She said that Stephanie would usually run into her on Sundays, but when she didn’t see or hear her for a couple days, that’s when she called for a welfare check.”

“Why not ask you to go in?”  X asked Marlene.

“I’m not allowed to go into a tenant’s room unless it’s an emergency or I give them 24-hour notice.  We called the cops, one showed up, then I was allowed to open the door.  We found her just curled up in a blanket, crying.”

“What happened then?”

“The police officer and Mrs. Hanraty talked to her for a bit, and I went back downstairs once they gave me the all clear.  I didn’t find out what happened until later on that afternoon when Edith came down and hung out for a bit.  After that, Stephanie was all kinds of upset, then put in a note to terminate her lease as soon as possible.  Poor thing.”

While X took notes, George asked the next question.

“Did you work on the 11th of November?  It was a Saturday.”

“Only until Noon.  I’m here 8-5 Monday through Friday and 8-Noon on Saturday unless there’s an appointment.  We don’t normally get appointments in the early part of the month.  I didn’t see anyone unusual come in that morning.”

George nodded, then continued.

“You guys have some decent security.  We noticed security cameras, the door has a lock on it.  How does that door work?”

“You punch in your code to open the door, or you get buzzed in from the intercom.  Code is a 4 digit one that is the apartment number, except for management and maintenance.  We have our own codes, but everyone else uses a generic code.  We can program new codes in, but can’t remove old ones from the system.”

“So instead of giving people new ones, you reuse them.”

“It’s the only way to get the system to work with the intercom.  Otherwise we’d have to upgrade both systems, and that is very expensive.  Owners don’t want to pay for anything they don’t have to.  It was hard enough to get them to install the cameras.”

George and X perked up.

“What about the cameras?”  X asked.  Marlene turned towards him.

“It took them a couple years to repair and replace them, upgrade them to this new cloud thing.  But he’s always bitching about how much bandwidth it uses and how expensive it is.  One of the cameras in the lot broke, he won’t fix it unless another one breaks, so we don’t see anything in half the lot.”

“Which half?”

“The upper half, from spots 22-40.  I hate to admit it, but we’ve got a blind spot there.”

“Is there any chance that you can get us a copy of the security footage from that day?”

“I can try, but I can’t make any promises.  I know that the system only keeps 3 months of complete footage then a few months of stills after that.  Something like 1 frame a second after that to save space until it maxes out.  Then they get archived or something.  When did you need?”

“November 11, 2017.  Saturday.  From Noon until 4:30 PM and from 6PM until 9PM.  We’re looking for a white male, skinny, dressed in mostly black.”

Marlene opened up the computer and navigated through it.

“This could take some time.  Would you guys like some coffee or water?”

“No ma’am, but we did have a couple more questions.”  X responded.

“Shoot.”

“Were there any vehicles towed that weekend?”

“Nope, not that I know of.”

“How many units are there?”

“We have 32 in total.  8 here on the ground floor, and 12 each on the top two floors.  The basement is used for storage and laundry.”

“Are there any other entrances or exits?”

“Only entrance is the security door.  There’s a couple fire exits, but once they open the alarm sounds.  Those were tested a week before the attack, all seemed to work.”

“Any chance we can see her old room?”

“Not hers, but I can let you two into the neighbor’s apartment.  306 was rented out, but 304 is open.  It’s almost identical.”

“Almost?”  George asked.

“The floorplan is mirrored.  Instead of turning left for the bathroom, you turn right.  Aside from that it was identical.  Not much to see, though.  They’re all unfurnished apartments.”

“Okay.  Do you have the move-out report for her room?  Any damages listed?”

Marlene looked at the messy office.

“It’s here somewhere.”  She pulled open a drawer and pulled out a keychain.  She grabbed the one marked 304 then handed it to George.

“Here, you guys go take a look.  It’ll take me a few minutes to get this footage and find that report.  Go check out that room, then come back down.”

George grabbed the key.

“Thank you ma’am.”  George and X stood, then left the office.



--------------------------------------


After climbing three flights of stairs, George was a little winded.  X, however, was ready to go another 30 flights if needed.

“COME ON OLD MAN, DON’T DIE ON MY FIRST DAY.”

George laughed.  They exited the stairwell and saw 304 right in front of them.  George knocked on the door.  No response.  Then, he used the key.

He opened the door and entered.  It was a plain apartment with white walls.  There was a small kitchen and dining area right as they walked in, and a hallway to the right that led to a bathroom and bedroom.  The living room was bare, too.  No furniture anywhere in the apartment.

“This would suck, moving up here, lugging furniture up 3 flights of stairs.  Anyway.  X, what do you see?”

“ASIDE FROM AN EMPTY ROOM IN REVERSE?”

“Yep.”

X looked around.  He looked out the bedroom windows and saw the parking lot.  He looked around the rest of the room, then moved behind the door.

“THE PERP COULD SEE HER COMING FROM A MILE AWAY.  HE COULD SEE THE ENTIRE PARKING LOT, AND WITH NUMBERED PARKING SPOTS IT DOESN’T TAKE A GENIUS TO FIGURE OUT WHEN SOMEONE IS COMING.  HE COULD STAND PRETTY FAR BACK IN THE ROOM IF HE KNEW THE SPOT SHE PARKED IN, NOT TO DRAW ATTENTION.”

“What else?”

“SEEING THAT HE COULD SEE HER COMING, HE COULD STAND BEHIND THE DOOR AND WAIT.  REPORT SAID SHE OPENED THE DOOR, HE SMOTHERED HER MOUTH WITH HIS LEFT HAND, STUN GUN IN THE RIGHT.  HE ZAPPED HER, SHE FELL.  WHILE SHE WAS COMING TO, HE HAD BOUND AND GAGGED HER WITH ZIP TIES.  HE THEN DRAGGED HER TO THE COUCH, HERE.”

X walked to where the couch would be.

“HERE HE STRIPPED, BEAT, AND RAPED HER THE FIRST TIME.  THEN HE RAPED HER AGAIN, BEHIND THE COUCH.  THIS WAS WHERE HE SHOWED OFF.  HE HAD A CAMERA IN A BOOKCASE, THERE.”

X pointed to the empty wall.

“HE RAPED HER AGAIN THERE, THEN AGAIN ON AND IN FRONT OF THE COUCH.  EVENTUALLY, LEFT HER TIED UP BEHIND THE COUCH, AND HID HER PHONE IN THE BATHROOM.  HE BROUGHT HIS OWN SUPPLIES AND WATER.”

“Which means...”

“WHICH MEANS HE HAD TO COME IN WITH A BAG.”

“So what kind of stranger carries a bag into an apartment building and no one bats an eye when they walk in?”

“DELIVERY GUY!”

George nodded.

“So we’re looking for a white man, in good shape, dressed as a delivery guy, possibly driving a car with a sign on it in the parking lot.”

“EXACTLY.”

George walked through the apartment one more time.  He could see the visitor spaces at the end of the lot by the front door and the handicapped spaces.  That would be in view of the camera.

“Either we get real lucky and he parked in view of the camera, or he was clever and parked on the street by the broken camera.  My money’s on clever at this point.”

The two men left the room and entered the hallway.  Before going down the hallway, he walked to the door of 306, the scene of the crime.  He looked closely at the door and doorknob.  X looked as well.

“NOT A SINGLE MARK.  DOORKNOB IS IN GOOD SHAPE, DOOR LOOKS JUST AS OLD AS THE REST.”

“Which tells you what?”

“HE HAD A KEY.”



-----------------------------



They returned to the office.  Marlene had found a folder for the men to look through and handed it to George.

“Here’s Stephanie’s move-out form.  Everything was in shape, no damage.”

George looked at it, X peered over his shoulder.  Being the size of a mountain has advantages.

“Were the locks changed at all?”

“No, that’s not common practice unless we’re evicting someone or we had issues with the tenant, or it was damaged.”

“No damage to the lock.  So it’s the same as before?”

“Yes, it is.”

George handed the folder back to Marlene.

“Were you able to find anything from the footage?”

“I downloaded it, I haven’t looked at it yet.  I can save you a copy if you can get me a hard drive.”

“I’ll be right back.”  George left for a moment for the car and came back.  When he returned, he found X and Marlene laughing and X talking at his ‘normal’ volume.  He looked at them puzzled.  They looked at him and laughed some more.

“What?”

“REALIZING HOW SMALL THE WORLD IS.  SHE’S ONE OF MY COUSINS.  I ASKED HOW THINGS WERE GOING, WE TALK ABOUT MY INJURY, MAR SAID THAT A COUSIN OF HER BROTHER’S WIFE HAD THE SAME INJURY.  TURNS OUT THAT HER SISTER-IN-LAW IS MY GREAT AUNT’S OLDEST.  WE’RE RELATED.”

“Amazing, isn’t it?”  Mar asked rhetorically.  George handed her a thumb drive that she plugged into the computer.  A couple minutes of friendly banter later, they had the security still footage from a few months back.  The detectives parted, giving Marlene their card and X cracking jokes with his newest kin.



-----------------------------------



Back at the station, George and X reviewed what they had in the conference room.  They plugged in the data they had into the projector and watched it on the big screen.  Just as they had laid out everything they had, in walked two middle aged white men in suits.  Both were balding.  The taller one had a grey mustache and was skinny as a rail.  The shorter one had a brown mustache and was a little chubby.

“Holy shit George, you’re actually working.” 

“Fuck off, Paul.”  The two men laughed at each other.  That’s when the taller of the two saw X for the first time.

“Who are you?”  Paul was a little taken back when he saw X.  He was even more taken back when X stood to his full height of six and a half feet tall.

“X, this is Paul Swanson.  The short guy is Gary Waltz.  Guys, this is X.  Xavier Harrison.  He’s the noob from SWAT.”

“NICE TO MEET YOU.”  X yelled, catching them off guard.

“He’s also deaf.  Mostly deaf.”  X shook Paul and Gary’s hands.  Gary was looking at the table and the file on it.

“What’d you guys do all day?”

“Remember that case we got from Cornwall back in January?  Stephanie Taylor, the home invasion?”

“Yeah, I remember.  Something was off with that.”  Paul said.  George coninuted.

“We tracked her down, talked to her, visited her old place.  X had a theory that makes a hell of a lot of sense.  Now, we’re checking the camera stills from the time the perp showed up.  If we’re lucky, we’ll get something to go with.”

“What’s your theory noob?”  Gary said, sitting down in ‘his’ chair by the screen.  In the morning, this was George’s chair.  X looked around before talking.

“THIS WASN’T A NORMAL HOME INVASION.  STEPHANIE TAYLOR LIVED ON THE TOP FLOOR OF A SECURE BUILDING WITH NO ELEVATOR.  THIS WASN’T A RANDOM ATTACK.  SHE WAS RAPED AND ATTACKED AT SOMEONE’S DIRECTION.  HER ATTACKER DIDN’T KNOW HER, BUT SOMEONE ELSE DID.  THEY SET THIS UP, GAVE THE ATTACKER INFORMATION TO GET INTO HER PLACE, KNEW WHEN SHE’D BE THERE, KNEW HOW TO HIDE HIMSELF AND HOW TO GET AWAY.  THE PERP DIDN’T JUST FILM THE ATTACK, HE PERFORMED FOR THE CAMERA.  BUT EVERYTHING ELSE HE DID WAS METHODICAL.  WHY BE ALL FLASHY AFTER GOING TO THE EFFORT OF BEING CAREFUL NOT TO GET CAUGHT?  UNLESS HE WAS DOING THIS FOR SOMEONE ELSE.  THAT SOMEONE ELSE KNEW HER, AND KNEW HER WELL.  I THINK IT WAS ONE OF HER CO-WORKERS.”

“Why a co-worker?”  Gary said, thumbing through the notes.

“AT THE TIME OF THE ATTACK SHE WAS GOING TO COLLEGE AND WORKING IN FAST FOOD.  LADY AIN’T GOT TIME TO TAKE A SHIT.  IT’D HAVE TO BE SOMEONE WHO KNEW HER SCHEDULE INSIDE AND OUT, KNEW WHERE SHE’D BE AT ALL TIMES, KNEW HOW TO GET INTO HER BUILDING, AND HAD THE ABILITY TO COPY HER ROOM KEY.  THAT LAST PART IS THE KICKER.  THEY’D HAVE TO HAVE ACCESS TO HER PURSE TO GET TO HER KEY.”

“Wait, this wasn’t a break-in?”

“Not a forced one, Paul.  The perp had access to her purse at some point, and making a key copy is easy without the key if you know what you’re doing.  You can do with a couple pics nowadays.  Also, nothing was stolen.  Why buzz in past security in broad daylight, climb three flights of stairs, get a key made, and not take anything of value?  Didn’t even nab the laptop.  That’s thievery 101.”

Paul looked at the screen as he ran through it once more.

“Who are we looking for?  You said that the perp didn’t know the victim but was hired.  How?  By whom?  How much?”

“That’s what we’re looking for.  First thing we’re looking at now is the security footage from around the attack.”

“WE WENT TO THE BUILDING AND SPOKE TO MAR.  SHE’S THE SECRETARY THERE, RUNS THE PLACE.  SHE DIDN’T SEE ANYONE SHOW UP DURING HER SHIFT, SO WE’RE LOOKING FOR A WHITE MAN, ABOVE AVERAGE HEIGHT, SKINNY FIT BUILD, PROBABLY CONCEALED, MIGHT BE DRESSED LIKE A FOOD DELIVERY PERSON.”

Paul and Gary looked at X.

“Food delivery?”  They said in tandem.

“Who can access an apartment building, carrying a bag containing a rape kit, without drawing suspicion?”

Their eyes went open with recognition.  Gary spoke.

“Of course.  No one thinks twice about the pizza delivery guy showing up and walking in.  They see a guy carrying food, they’ll hold the door open for them.  Won’t even ask where they’re going to.  Hell, they’ll help if the driver asks for a name and it’s not them.”

X looked that the older officers.

“IF WE’RE LUCKY, WE MIGHT HAVE SOMETHING FROM THE FOOTAGE.  THE APARTMENT BUILDING HAS THREE CAMERAS.  TWO FACE THE PARKING LOT, ONE IS IN THE LOBBY.  PROBLEM IS, ONE OF THE PARKING LOT CAMERAS IS BROKEN.  AND BECAUSE THE OWNER IS A CHEAPSKATE, WE DON’T HAVE VIDEO FOR THIS, ONLY 1 STILL FRAME FROM EACH SECOND, SO WE HAVE TO GO THROUGH IT PIC BY PIC.  LIKE I SAID, WHITE MALE BY HIMSELF, DRESSED IN BLACK CARRYING A BAG WHICH COULD BE CONSTRUED OR COVERED AS A FOOD DELIVERY JOB.”

X grabbed the mouse and clicked through the pics of the lobby, starting at 12:00, going through one at a time.  There was a lot of nothing.  A couple walked out, then in again.  Another old lady dressed in scrubs walked out around 1:30PM.

“That’s probably the neighbor, Edith Hanraty.  She’s the one that made the police call a couple days later.”  George said, the others nodded.  X kept clicking through.  More nothing until close to 2:00PM.  A man carrying a bag stops at the door.  X pauses the slideshow.

“MIGHT HAVE SOMETHING.  LET’S WATCH.”

He fast forwarded several frames.  The man stood there for a moment, looking around.  He wore a dark jacket, dark pants, and a hat.  Eventually a tenant came down and they exchanged food for money.  The delivery guy left.

“FALSE ALARM.  LET’S KEEP GOING.”

X continued further on.  This time he didn’t have to go far.  According to the timestamp of 2:27:58, a skinny white man dressed as a pizza delivery man carrying a black bag stopped at the door, looked over his shoulder a couple times, then punched in a code into the box.  This man wore black BDU style pants, black boots, sunglasses, a red hat that said “Giorgio’s Pizza” and a plain red jacket.  He had no facial hair and his kept his head downcast as the door opened.  After a moment, he walked inside, carrying his bag.

“ANYTHING SEEM OFF TO ANYONE ELSE?”

“The fact that the pizza man just let himself into the building, that he was looking down the whole time he walked, or that he’s not carrying a pizza bag but one of those sandwich bags instead?”  Paul said.

“Yeah, and didn’t Giorgio’s close a couple years ago?”  Asked Gary.

“No, that was Giovanni’s, Giorgio’s is nowhere near Cornwall.”  Paul replied.

“Let’s see if he comes back down within 5, 10 minutes tops.  If not, I think we have our perp.”  George said.

“Ruling out resident?”  Paul asked.

“If he lived here, why’s he acting all shifty and dressed for work?  Also, ever see a driver move that slow?”  George responded.

“Only when coming to my place.”  Gary said dryly.

“MOVING FORWARD.”  X clicked through the slide show.  5 minutes.  No driver.  10 minutes.  No driver.  15 minutes.  No driver.

“Is it possible he left through another door?”  Paul asked.

“No.  The other doors are all linked to the fire alarm system, and they tested that the week before.  The only way in and out is through here.  Plus, if he’s delivering, why enter one door but leave another?  Delivery drivers are in a hurry.  They wouldn’t walk around a building unless it was to save time.  Let’s keep going.  If he doesn’t come down before Stephanie enters, then he’s the perp.”

Everyone nodded.  X sped through the slideshow.  A lot of nothing.  There were some people that left here and there.  A younger woman going for a jog, an older couple coming back with groceries, an older man going outside for a smoke.  But the driver didn’t return.  Soon an hour passed.  Than an hour and a half.  Then two.  No driver.  Then, they saw something.

On the screen, Stephanie Taylor arrived at the front door.  After punching in her code, she walked inside, stopped, and took off her hoodie.  She put it in a bag and walked upstairs.  X paused the slideshow.

“We have our perp.  Let’s fast forward since we’re here, see if we can get a better look of him on his way out the door.”  George said.  The rest nodded.

X fast forwarded through the slide show.  Each time someone came on screen he’d slow down, but he was able to make great time.  A few more people came in and out throughout the next couple hours, but it wasn’t until 6:41:37 PM that a lone man wearing black pants, black boots, a black hoodie, a hat, and sunglasses came down the steps, carrying a bag.

“HERE HE IS.”

“Bag looks different.  He had a food delivery bag the first time, now it looks like a bookbag.”  Paul said, like his job was to shoot holes in theories.

“It is.  But the pants, boots, and sunglasses are the same.  He’s also wearing a hoodie with the hood up and dark sunglasses in November.  At night.  And it’s hard to make out the hat under the hoodie.  Similar height and build to the driver.”

“He’s walking hiding his hands.”  Gary added.  “Go forward a bit, see what he does with them.

X moved the scene forward a bit.  The man pulled his hands out of his hoodie pouch to open the door.

With gloved hands.

“That’s our perp.  He’s dressed in all black as far as he can get away with, wearing sunglasses at night, and gloves indoors.  And those aren’t winter gloves but driving gloves, riding gloves.  If he was really that cold, he would wear thicker gloves.  Those are about as thin as you can get while still wearing gloves.”  Gary was spot on about the gloves.

“I think we’ve got our man.  Just to be on the safe side, let’s go through the rest of this one before going to the parking lot cam.”

X followed George’s request.  The rest of the video was pretty quiet.  An older person here and there, a pizza delivery driver stopping at the door and delivering food, a young couple going out for a date, and a woman getting picked up by an Uber.  The only single man that came down was a tall black man.  That was the end of the slideshow.

“I’M GOING TO QUEUE UP THE PARKING LOT CAMS TO A HALF HOUR BEFORE THE MAN SHOWS UP AND GO FROM THERE.”

X brought up the video of the parking lot.  It showed a clear view of the front half of the parking lot, the front door, and the trees around.  One could almost make out cars driving on the street.  At 2:27:19 PM, the delivery driver enters the parking lot view, walking into frame.

“SHIT!”  All the men felt X’s lament.  The driver parked out of camera view.  They don’t have a car to look up.  No make, model, color, or plate to go on.  They continued watching the stills as they went past.  The driver opened the outside door at the exact same time as before.

X moved forward to a couple minutes before Stephanie arrived.  They saw her park her car in space 14, get out of her car, and carry her stuff inside.  They then fast forwarded to the time when the perp left the building.  Just as they were about to give up hope, and at the edge of the camera range, they saw something.

Facing away from the camera, the perp took his hood down, his hat off, and removed his sunglasses.  The footage was pixelated, but they zoomed in as far as they could.

“What do we got?  I’m seeing hair, short, is that brown or black?”  George asked, excitedly.

“Either, it’s dark, but more likely brown.  What about that hat?”  Chimed in Gary.  Paul spoke up.

“Red with a green brim, just like the one he wore earlier.”

X printed this picture out, then proceeded a few more frames.  The next thing surprised them.  He pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter.

“He’s a smoker.”  Gary said.  “I didn’t see that in the report.”

“Stephanie worked in a restaurant for years.  She probably smoked.  If she smoked, she wouldn’t smell it on him.”  Paul replied, bringing up a good point.

X played the rest of the pics until he left camera view.  He then pulled up the important pics from the first video and printed them out, too.  He brought the clearest two on screen.  They showed the perp’s face, as much as they could see.  His cheeks were covered with the sunglasses.

“What do we think age wise?”  George asked.

“20’s, early 30’s maybe.”  Paul said.  George’s phone buzzed.  It was his wife.  He saw the time.

“Oh shit, we’re well past end of watch.  You guys want to look into this or have us grab it in the morning?”

Paul and Gary looked at each other before Gary spoke.

“If nothing comes in, we’ll take a look.  We’ll see if we can find out how common those hats are.  Probably not too common, but you never know.”

“Good call.  X and I will talk to sketch tomorrow, see if we can get a composite going.  Maybe we’ll get lucky with something else, too.”

X and George packed up their stuff and called it a night.

Always close the program you were running before exiting the holodeck

Offline grendel

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Re: The Club of Chester County, George's Story (Chapters 1-4, added 10-19-20)
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2020, 06:39:51 PM »
Good story, love the characters ... um ... not actually what I was looking for tho  ::)  Still now that I know you write like police procedurals I will check in when I am in the mood.
Grendel
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