Web Site: Immaculate White Smoke
Do you think you have figured where this is going after reading the first part? Hold on to your hat. This takes twists.
What Jack found out at the Medical Examiner’s office was pretty much what he had suspected. No signs of drug abuse. The only signs of violence were the bruises around her neck. She had been strangled and the person strangling her was wearing gloves made of imitation leather.
That’s when Jack got a call from his chief. When he walked into the office he already knew it was to replace his long-time partner, who had just retired, but he had a surprise that he was not ready for.
Standing to the right of the chief was a beautiful woman. She had dark brown hair and blue eyes and she was dressed in a business suit.
“This is your new partner,” the chief said by way of introduction. “Her name is Audrey Shoemaker.
Jack was going to say something when the chief gave him one of his ‘don’t go there’ looks and Jack decided he would have to make the best of it. He didn’t like the thought of working with a female cop.
He spent several hours bringing Audrey up to date on the case they were working, and then they went off to finish the call list Jack had made.
Audrey did not say anything in the car. She seemed to know that Jack was fighting with the problem of having a female by his side. She couldn’t figure if it were that he was a macho sort of guy or if he was simply worried that she may get hurt. She figured anything she said right now would not be much help. She could only hope that he would learn to trust her as a fellow cop.
When they got to the home of Sandra Madigan, Frank was given food for thought.
He was getting nowhere with this lady. His surly attitude was simply a turn-off to her. She decided to simply swap put-downs with him instead of answering his questions.
Audrey took a deep breath. She figured this male chauvinistic jerk-off should be called to task, but she knew there were things to be learned.
“Jack, would you mind if we ladies talked alone for a few minutes?” she asked. Jack wanted say no, but he was taken aback by her request.
“I’ll be in the car,” he muttered as he walked out the door. Audrey looked over to the other woman.
“Can I call you Sandy?” she requested.
“Actually, that’s what my friends call me,” answered Sandy. “Look, I really don’t know what happened to Sarah and I don’t appreciate some wise guy coming around treating me like I’m a piece of meat.”
“He can be a jerk,” Audrey agreed. “He’s just trying to find out some background on Sarah. We’ve been told you know her well. Nobody is trying to say you were in any way a part of this, but if there is any background you can tell me, it may help us find out what happened.”
“What kind of background? You mean like her sex life? I don’t understand what you want to find out from me,” Sandy responded.
“How were things between Sarah and Joe Morton?” asked the detective. Sandy looked into her folded hands.
“O.K., I guess,” she said. Then she studied her hand some more. When she looked up into Audrey’s eyes, Audrey could not help but notice Sandy’s eyes were misty.
“Look,” she said. “I don’t want to create any problems for Joe; things between them would have been fine if he hadn’t been so possessive. If she stopped at the coffee shop for a cup with me after work, he grilled her as to why she didn’t come home sooner. It was like he was completely sure she was always out with somebody else.”
“Was she?” asked Audrey. It made since that if this man was so super possessive he may have driven her to someone else.
“I guess I shouldn’t tell you, but she was seeing a guy on the sly. That was only because Joe was becoming such a pain in the ass.”
“Do you know his name?” Audrey enquired. All Sandy could tell her was his first name was Lynn.
“If you think of anything else, give me a call,” requested Audrey, handing Sandy her card. Then she said goodbye and walked out to the car.
Fortunately for both of them, Jack had a chance to cool off by the time she got there. Moreover, he knew he wasn’t getting anywhere with the lady. His old partner used to do much the same thing as Audrey. On occasion he did the same, himself.
“What did you find out?” he asked, purposely not looking her way. Audrey turned to look at him though, and explained everything that went on with the two ladies after he left. She did leave out the part about calling Jack an Ass.
In spite of himself, Jack was impressed. Maybe there were times when having a woman for a partner might come in handy. Still, though Jack was concerned about how she would handle a life or death situation.
“I have a feeling this guy is the Perp,” he said. “I can’t explain why, but call it a hunch.
“Are we going to check out the other people now?” asked Audrey. Jack stared out the window as he drove.
“Yes. I think maybe you would be better equipped to handle the questioning. I guess I just don’t think like a woman.”
Audrey smiled to herself. Jack took her back to the precinct and dropped her off at her own car.
“I’m going back to the hotel,” he said. “Maybe they can shed some light on this lover boy of the vic.”
Audrey went to visit the other girls on the list and Jack headed for the hotel. He got out of his car and went inside. Jack didn’t notice the man standing across the street watching as he headed for the lobby. The man, Peter Brady, knew him as the detective because he had seen him asking questions after the murder of that girl. Peter had seen what happened, but he choose not to get involved, so he went into the bar and had a few beers without letting anybody know he had seen anything
Now he was feeling something completely out of character for him. He was feeling guilty. He did not like cops. Peter had a wrap sheet for pushing dope on the streets. Why was he feeling so bad about staying out of this mess? He couldn’t understand what was nagging at him but it was.
Meanwhile, Jack went up to the desk and showed the girl’s picture to the clerk
“Oh, yeah, that’s the girl that got killed out front,” exclaimed the clerk.
“Did she ever come in here?” asked Jack. The clerk seemed a little hesitant to speak, but finally swallowed and answered.
“Yes,” he said. “She’s been in quite a few times over the last few months with some guy. I got the feeling she was seeing him on the sly. They would rent a room, stay for three or four hours and then leave. I didn’t want to poke my nose into other people’s business so I never asked questions.
“Who paid?” asked Jack.
“She did, with her credit card,” the desk clerk answered. “The guy usually stayed out in the lobby. I don’t know who they thought they were fooling; they acted like just two people who happened to be here at the same time. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to tell they were together.
“Did you ever get his name?” asked Jack
“No,” answered the clerk. “Like I said, they were acting very sly but not sly enough.”
“Would you recognize this guy if you saw him again?” Jack asked next.
The clerk said yes and Jack asked him to come down to the precinct to talk to the sketch artist.
Jack spent quite a bit of time with the hotel clerk and the sketch artist, getting a picture of the man who was seen with Sarah before her murder.
Then he went back to the hotel to ask anyone who may know the identity of the man, Audrey was busy questioning the other women on the list about who Sarah may have been seeing. She got pretty much the same story from each person she talked to until she asked Joyce McCauley, a close friend of Sarah’s.
“She asked me not to tell anyone this,” Joyce began. “But, she’s dead now. I don’t think I am violating her trust now. I must say that I don’t believe Lynn would hurt her.
“Lynn who?” questioned Audrey.
“Lynn Morgan. They loved each other, but Audrey was afraid to tell her boyfriend, Joe, that she wanted to break off their relationship.”
“Why was she afraid?” Audrey prompted. Joyce told her that Joe Morton had an awful temper and had threatened her in a manner of speaking if she ever left him.
“What did he say in the way of a threat?” asked the detective. Joyce didn’t know. She said Sarah had told her several times that the man she thought she loved turned out to be a manipulative man who wanted everything his way and would not consider her feelings.
When Audrey headed back to the precinct she contemplated what the witness had told her. Now, it seemed she had two possible suspects.
Audrey shared what she had learned with Jack and he in return brought her up to date with what he found. The two of them didn’t have to look far to find Joe. They already had his address.
“I had nothing to do with her murder,” exclaimed Joe. “I loved her. Why are you trying to pin this on me?
“Where were you on that morning between eight and nine?” Joe asked once again.
“Look, you asked me already and I told you. I was stuck in traffic. Please stop wasting your time and find the person who hurt her. I hear she was seeing someone at that hotel. Maybe, he was the one who did it.”
The two detectives shared a look. So, Joe knew about Sarah’s affair. They didn’t say anything. They didn’t have enough to get a warrant so they thanked Joe for his time and went back to the car.
“So, he knew,” said Jack and Audrey almost in the same breath. Jack looked at her and smiled
“Goes to motive,” said Audrey
“And the man has no alibi,” said Jack, “but we still don’t have enough to pin a murder charge on him.”
“Maybe we should check out this Lynn Morgan,” suggested Audrey. There were about eighteen listings of Lynn Morgan in the New York phone book, so the two decided to go back to Joyce with the sketch to see if it was in fact the man Sarah was seen with at that hotel.
They found it was. They also found after some talk that Joyce knew more about the man than she had originally told Audrey. She knew where he worked.
The two went to a small advertising firm on the west side and asked for him.
When Lynn came to them he looked like he hadn’t slept for several nights. He looked tired and dejected.
“You asked for me?’ he enquired.
Jack and Audrey introduced themselves and showed their badges. Jack announced that this conversation would go better if they went downtown.
Once they were at the precinct they began asking questions. After asking some more questions the two detectives got him to open up.
“Look,” he began. “We were seeing each other but I didn’t kill her. I loved her. I wanted her to dump that fool she was with and I would have given her a life with me.”
“Maybe, you loved her so much that you couldn’t stand the idea of her going home to this fool,” offered Audrey. “Maybe, you gave her a choice and she didn’t love you as much as you did her. Maybe, you figured if you couldn’t have her to yourself you would make sure no man did. I’ve seen it all before.”
“Audrey,” Jack interrupted. “Let’s not fool around with so many maybes. The poor man loved this woman.
“I’m going to get a cup of coffee,” said Audrey as she stood. “Would you like some?” she asked the suspect. Lynn declined but Jack said he would like one. Audrey gave him a steamy look as she walked to the door.
“Next thing, you’ll want me to do your laundry,” she huffed as she went out of the room.”
Jack smiled to himself. The two were playing good cop, bad cop in hopes of getting a confession out of this guy. However, something kept nagging at Jack. He didn’t truly believe this was the man. His money was on Joe.
“Look,” he began. “If this was an accident or something that happened before you could contain yourself, we can get the D.A. to come down on the charges. After all, a man will do some strange things out of love.”
“I would have killed myself before I would have hurt Sarah. Look man, I’m going to have to live the rest of my life without the woman I love. Why would I even want to hurt her, knowing that I would never kiss her lips again? Even if she was afraid of that rat she was with,” Lynn continued, “Just being with her when I could hold her in my arms for a few hours, was better than never making love to her again.”
The door opened and Audrey walked in with two cups of coffee. She set one in front of Jack and took a sip from hers.
She had dropped the good cop, bad cop deal. She really believed what she had heard through the sound system from the other room.
They sent Lynn on his way and headed back to their desks to contemplate what they could from the situation.
“My money is on this Morgan, fellow,” said Audrey. Jack stared at the notes of what they had already found out and simply nodded. Then he looked straight into Audrey’s eyes for the first time since they met.
“You know something?” he asked. Audrey didn’t respond. She was struck by the fact that he was looking into her eyes. Joe simply continued.
“You and I will make a great team,” he said with a smile. Audrey wasn’t sure how to handle this. For the first time since she met him, she found herself feeling defensive. The strange thing about it was the fact that this was the first sign of friendship from Jack. That was something she was not prepared for. It made her nervous. Then she realized that the reason for that nervousness was the excitement. She, for the first time had to admit that she was attracted to this man.
What was equally strange was that he was also attracted to her and now for the first time he was admitting it to himself and to her.
“You got any plans for dinner, tonight?” Jack asked.
“I was just going back to my apartment and grab something there,” Audrey answered.
“How ‘bout having dinner with me tonight?” asked Jack. “I know a real nice little Italian restaurant.” Her answer was a yes and their date was set.
The man who had been watching Frank go into the hotel spent the evening fighting with himself. He really did not want to get involved in any way with the police but he saw that girl get killed. At the very least he saw the man take her around the corner into the alley.
His name was Arnold Moats. Although he didn’t see the murder, his information would have cleared Lynn. He preferred not to get involved. Now, however, he was finding himself thinking that he really should. This really bothered him. He had never cared much about anyone but himself.
“Good Lord,” he thought to himself. “I’m developing a conscience.” No matter how he tried he could not shake the feeling that he needed to call someone’s attention to what he saw that night.
After work, Jack and Audrey each went home and took showers. They had agreed that Jack would come by to pick Audrey up at seven.
Audrey found herself not only showering, but looking for something super attractive to wear. She even took the time to splash on some perfume before Jack got there. She was humming to herself. When she realized that she was going to all this trouble, she found herself chuckling. She had not bothered with such feminine stuff for many years.
When the doorbell rang she sprinted to the door like it was prom night. She was almost breathless when she saw Jack standing there wearing a suit and tie.
Jack was equally surprised to see Audrey looking more beautiful than he already thought she was.
“You’re beautiful,” he told her.
“I bet you say that to all the girls,” she countered, while the look in her eyes told him she was thrilled to hear it.
“Nope,” he retorted. “I can’t remember the last time I said that.”
For a while the two talked about the case they were working. They even shared some stories with each other about other cases they had worked. One might get the idea they were just a couple of guys eating together.
Then Jack changed the subject. As they were eating he suddenly took her by surprise by asking a question which she was not sure she wanted to answer.
“How come a beautiful lady like you isn’t married?” he asked. Audrey deliberated for a spell.
“I almost did, once,” she said. “It didn’t work out. How come you’re still single?”
“You first,” said Jack. Audrey explained that the man she thought she would love forever turned out to be a control freak.
“He wanted me to quit my job and be a stay at home wife,” she explained. “When I told him I wanted to keep working, he said he couldn’t live with me that way. So, I told him we were better apart. “Now, about you?”
She said that kind of in the form of a demand. Jack took a bite of spaghetti and sighed.
“My old man was a bit of a rat,” he explained. “My mom finally divorced him and we lived alone. To tell you the truth, I don’t know how she stayed with him as long as she did. I never wanted to be in the position to hurt anyone like he hurt her, and I never wanted to be hurt. I guess that’s why I built a wall around my feelings. You seemed to break through that wall, Audrey. I didn’t want to fall in love with you, but I couldn’t stop it. To tell you the truth, I’m kind of scared. I hope we can build a life together.”
“Are you proposing?” asked Audrey. Jack blushed. He hadn’t realized how it sounded until she asked that question. There was a long pregnant pause. Jack finally broke the silence with a soft answer.
“Yeah, that is what I have wanted to ask you from the first time I laid eyes on you in the chiefs’ office.”
Audrey quietly put her fork down on the table. Suddenly she didn’t feel hungry. She looked into his eyes. Tears were fighting to erupt from her eyes.
“This is so sudden,” she answered quietly. “I wasn’t ready for this so soon.
“So soon?” Jack prompted, his eyes pleading with hers.
“I think I have loved you from the beginning too, but I thought things would go a little slower. Man, Jack I’m kinda dizzy.”
“You don’t need to answer now. I’ve waited this long for you and I can wait longer,” he offered
Suddenly Audrey didn’t want to wait and now tears were flowing freely from her eyes.
“I hope those are happy tears,” Jack crooned. Audrey assured him in between sniffles that they were definitely happy tears.
After dinner Jack took Audrey home. At her door he took her hands in his.
“I’ll see you in the morning,” he said. Audrey looked deeply into his eyes. She wanted him to kiss her. Suddenly he took her into his arms and they shared a long passionate kiss. It took all his will power to end it.
“Bye,” he said softly. Audrey leaned forward and kissed him again. Somehow he managed to reign in his desire. Audrey went inside and as soon as the door was shut she fell back against it.
“Don’t forget to lock your door,” Jack said through the door. He heard the lock turn and went outside to find his car.
Jack drove home and went to bed. Audrey also went to bed. They both would dream of each other. Neither of them cared about the work load they would have the next day.
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|Reviewed by Marguerite Lemoine
|It sounds like neither had their mind on he business at hand Marguerite|