Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Chapter Sixty-Nine

The ride back to the station was silent. Jacoby and Reno had plenty they wanted to talk about but neither wanted to say anything with Stone in the back seat.

Stone only spoke once. “You can let Senator Jaffe go now. You’ve caught the one you want.”

Jacoby and Reno exchanged amused glances, but said nothing.

Only after Stone had been placed securely in his cell did they allow themselves to discuss what had happened. They went to Reno's office where he buzzed the front desk. “Let me know when Ellis Mosby and Bonnie Jaffe get here – and could you bring us a couple of cups of coffee? Black.”

After their coffee had been brought in the two men relaxed for a moment before either spoke.

“It’s been quite a day, hasn’t it, Jack?”

Jacoby smiled. That was the second time Barry Reno had called him by his first name. That was fine with him. The two of them had probably been through enough to put them on a first name basis. “You’re right about that, Barry. Do you mind holding onto Stone until I can arrange his transfer?”

“No problem. After all you’ve done, it’s the least we can do.”

“My only regret is we couldn’t come up with more on the Senator. How long do you think you can hold him? It’s pretty clear that Stone doesn’t intend to implicate him.”

“It depends.” You wait here. I just remembered I needed to check on something. I’ll be right back.”

It occurred to Jacoby that the little detective had something up he sleeve but the was too tired to speculate. He just sipped his coffee and let his thoughts wander. He was surprised when one of the things it wandered to was Bonnie Jaffe. From the moment he met her, Jacoby had been intrigued by her wit and her dynamism. He also admired the way she had handled herself earlier. He found himself wondering what she would do if he invited her to dinner sometime when all this was over with.

Barry Reno was gone more than fifteen minutes and when he returned Mosby Ellis and the young technician that Jacoby had met earlier were with him.

“You remember Sam don’t you, Jack? He has something to show us. I invited Mosby to join us. I figured he’s earned the right to see what Sam’s going to show us.” Reno pulled up a chair. “It’s your show, Sam take it away.”

Sam looked a little nervous but he took a position next to Reno’s computer. He looked like a professor about to address a class. He leaned over the keyboard for a moment and then he stood up again. “Can every one see the monitors okay? Earlier tonight Detective Reno asked me to compare this” he touched a key and a high-resolution image of Victoria Sherwood’s cherub tattoo appeared on one screen “with this.” Sam touched another key and an image of Jaffe’s eagle tattoo appeared on the screen next to it.

“Detective Reno told me he had a hunch that buried somewhere in the eagle I would find a find the cherub.” He took a deep breath. Everyone else in the room was holding theirs. The first thing I noticed was that there were two distinct signatures in the eagle tattoo. The first one – this dog icon – was evident immediately. But this one was more obscured.” Sam isolated a section of the eagle image and zoomed in. A likeness of a lily was clearly visible.

Mosby cried out, “That’s Lilly signature. When she was completely finished with a piece she often signed it that way. I expect you found a similar signature on the girl’s tattoo.”

“I did.” Sam zoomed in on the cherub tattoo to show then the second lily. “Now, watch. This is the interesting part.” For the first time Sam allowed himself a bit of theatrics. “Gentlemen – through the magic of computer graphics – voila!” All eyes were on the screens as Sam clicked first on the image of the eagle on the right screen and then pulled the mouse across the desk and released it. Under the image of the Victoria Sherwood’s tattoo was an identical copy. “You can see for yourselves that Detective Reno’s hunch was dead on. The suspect had his tattoo altered to conceal the cherub.”

It was a moment before anyone spoke and then they all spoke at once.

Reno held up his hands. “Hold on. Hold on. It’s not irrefutable, but I think the District Attorney will be able to convince a Grand Jury that Stuart Jaffe’s actions were those of a guilty man attempting to conceal not just a tattoo – but his involvement in the death of Victoria Sherwood.”

“To say nothing of his involvement in the deaths of Lilly Petulengro and Dennis Doggett.” Jacoby stood up and walked across the room to shake hands first with Sam and then Barry Reno. When he got to Mosby Ellis he clasped his shoulder. “You were a good friend to Lillian, Mosby. You didn’t quit. Come one. I’ll give you a ride home.”

“Thanks. Let’s drive by Bonnie’s on the way. Just to make sure everything looks okay.”

“Good idea. Remember, Mosby. I want to hear about that dream of yours.”

Jacoby and Mosby could hear the commotion even before they turned into the cul-de-sac.

“What in the hell is that?”

“I don’t know, Jacoby, but I don’t think Bonnie is getting much rest.”

When they turned the corner they could see the source of the hubbub. The street in front of the Senator’s house was packed with satellite trucks, remote trailers and news cruisers. Reporters stumbled over each other and cables as they jockeyed for position in front of the house. There was no sign of Bonnie Jaffe.

“Come with me, Mosby.” Jacoby pushed through the crowd, waving his badge and threatening to arrest anyone that didn’t get out of his way. “Stand back everyone! Now! You might as well disburse now. Nothing’s going one here.”

He was peppered with questions from the assembled reporters. He ignored them all and banged on the front door. “Bonnie! Open up. It’s Detective Jacoby.” In a few minutes Bonnie opened the door just wide enough for Jacoby and Mosby to squeeze in.

“How long has this been going on?”

“They started gathering just after Mosby left. They’ve been banging on the front door, prowling around the back. The phone rang constantly. I finally took it off the hook. Can you make them go away, Jack?”
She looked so miserable that Jacoby had to fight the urge to hug her. Instead he went to the phone and dialed Reno’s number. “Barry, glad you’re still there. Listen. We have a media circus here at the Senator’s house. Could you send someone down here to get it under control.”

He looked at Bonnie. She was still wearing the clothes she had been wearing earlier. She looked worn out.

“She’s fine. But I’m going to take her downtown with us and get her checked into a hotel. She can’t get any rest with those idiots banging on her door. Thanks, Barry. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

“I love a man who takes command.” Bonnie managed a tired smile. “You two wait down here. It won’t take me a minute to get my things together.”

Mosby walked into the study. He saw the poker lying in front of the fireplace. Next to it was a broken glass and a puddle of brown liquid. “This must be where she struggled with him. She’s a lucky woman.”

“She’s lucky you showed up when you did. You still haven’t explained how you happened to be here.” Jacoby sat down in the chair next to the fireplace.

“Well this might sound crazy, but it was Lilly. I was having this dream and she was in it. She was singing this Romani folk song she always sang while she cooked. It was like she was telling me what I needed to do next. When I woke up, I knew I had to come here. I only had the vaguest idea where the house was but it was as though I were being led. I know. It sounds insane.”

“A little insane. But you managed to get here and if you hadn’t Bonnie would be dead and Stone would have escaped.”

“Lilly told me once that Gypsies settle their own disputes. They fear ghosts because they believe the angry spirit of the dead will seek revenge on their killer. You don’t think it’s possible that …. Nah. That’s absurd.”

Before Jacoby could respond, Bonnie came downstairs carrying her overnight bag. “Ready gentlemen? Let’s get out of here.”



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