Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Wolf - Finale

When you go to Court you are putting your fate into the hands of twelve people who weren't smart enough to get out of Jury Duty. Norm Crosby

It's better to be tried by twelve than carried by six. annonymous

Continuation from Part II.

* * * *

It was Saturday. Now, instead of a leisurely ride in the stealth mode, I backed my motorcycle out of my garage and headed for Ken’s house with a sense of urgency. My stomach knotted with anticipation.
When I arrived, he was standing in the door leading from his garage into the dining room. I looked in all directions for some sign of vandalism. I parked my motorcycle, got off, and cautiously approached Ken as he stood in the doorway.
“What is it I need to see?” I asked.
Ken just stood there pointing at the wall across the dining room opposite the door. I looked, but I still couldn’t make out what he was pointing at.
“What am I supposed to be looking at?” I asked.
Ken answered, “The bullet hole.”
I strained to see the dark pine paneling across the dimly lit room. Then I saw it, a perfectly round puncture about chest high and in a direct line with the door leading to the garage.
“The slug is lying in the bathroom floor on the other side of that wall. It broke the tile, but the bullet is in pretty good condition.” Ken walked in the direction of the bathroom as he spoke. I followed. Ken and I both looked at the hole in the bathroom wall where the tile had broken. There was a big hunk of lead lying in the floor.
“How did this happen?” I asked.
“I had just gotten Judy and the kids off to her mother’s house. I came back inside and sat down at the dining table to eat a sandwich. I heard the venetian blinds on the door to the garage make a noise like someone was opening the door. My back was to the door, so I turned to see who it was. I’ve gotten so fat I had to lean to get around. I saw a muzzle flash and felt wind from the bullet as it passed my head.”
“Did you see the guy?” I asked.
“I only got a brief glimpse of him as he spun in the doorway and ran out of the garage. I fell out of the dining room chair, so I guess he thought he hit me.”
“Was he white or black?”
“You couldn’t catch him?”
Ken smiled and looked a little embarrassed. “I got up and ran to the bedroom to get my pistol. I was so shook-up I forgot it was right on the dining room table in front of me. By the time I collected myself and got back to my gun, the shooter was long gone. I called the State Police then I came to get you.”
I couldn’t say anything. I just stood there looking at him. I bummed a cigarette and we both just sat there and smoked until Texas Ranger, Tommy Wells, arrived. Tommy notified the police department, since it was in their jurisdiction, and their detective, Jimmy Bragg arrived at about the same time. Both officers interviewed Ken. Tommy took the bullet to have it analyzed by the state crime lab.
After they left, Ken and I decided that it was time to shake the trees. Since he was a probation officer, he had numerous sources in the criminal community. We made several stops and put the word out we were seriously interested in finding out who tried to kill Ken.
The next day Tommy Wells called Ken and told him the ballistic test on the bullet showed it was fired from a .44 magnum. Wells said the gun was probably customized. He also said that because of the increased number of lands and grooves, they believed the gun probably had a target barrel.
Ken called later that evening and told me he would come by and pick me up. He said he talked to a source who told him a recently paroled ex-con named Corey House was drunk and bragging about killing a cop. Ken wanted to talk to him. The guy told Ken that House was still at the swimming pool of the Magnolia Ridge apartments.
We both knew we should call for backup, but Tommy Wells was out of pocket, and in light of recent happenings, we really couldn’t go to the P. D. We decided to try and find House ourselves before he disappeared.
Ken picked me up and we rode in his car. It was equipped with a police radio.
The Magnolia Ridge apartments were new and slightly up scale. We couldn’t figure out how a low life like Corey House could afford to live there. We pulled up in the parking lot near the entrance to the swimming pool. We both got out of the car.
“You’ve got the badge, so I’ll hang back until you make contact.” I said.
Ken nodded and opened the gate to the pool area. I followed and looked over the loungers for someone who might not belong. The prison tattoos on the ivory pale skin weren’t hard to find. Ken approached the dark haired male who occupied the lounge chair next to a pile of empty Coors cans.
“Hey! Corey,” Ken said.
“Yeah?” “What do you want?” Corey asked as he raised his head and tried to focus his beer-clouded brain.
“I’m a probation officer.” Ken said. He showed Corey his badge.
I positioned myself to the right and slightly behind Ken with an open field of fire. I watched closely as Ken talked to House. It looked like the light in his brain finally clicked on. He recognized Ken. House let his right hand slide slowly down to a wadded beach towel that lay next to his chair. I saw the towel start to rise off the concrete pool apron. I then saw the outline of a long barreled revolver.
“Gun! Gun!” I yelled as I reached for the magnum in my waistband.
Ken was very fast for a big man. He drew his pistol and stepped to his right gripping his pistol in both hands as he pointed it at House’s body. House fired wide as he swung the long barreled gun skyward. The big .44 magnum roared and tore a black hole in the white beach towel. Ken emptied his Beretta at point blank range into House’s chest. It was over in seconds. He was dead. Avant stared at House’s lifeless body. He started to shake. A healthy dose of adrenaline pumped through his massive system. We both waited for a few seconds before we put our pistols away. Everyone around the pool looked like they were playing freeze tag. They stared, but said nothing. I ran to Ken’s car and radioed the State Police. I asked them to contact Ranger Tommy Wells, and the Roseview Police Department.
I gathered the names and addresses of all those who were present, and I asked them to stay until the police arrived. No one knew what House told us, if anything. Only one or two needed to know right now anyway. We had survived the encounter, but we lost the witness. Not the best outcome, but, definitely better by a sizeable margin than not surviving ourselves.
We both smoked another cigarette as we waited for the police. We now had a firm resolve. All leads would be checked. We had to be thorough. The wolf was among us and removing the fleece would be no easy task.