Episode II: Part IV - The Case of the Menacing Notes
I’m running late, I thought to myself, a reminder to slow down as I sped back to the office. Although it was well past normal working hours, I knew Delia would still be around to keep Becca company, to include a meal order delivery due to the extended hours. I called the office and brought Delia up to speed on what occurred at my home, then provided the plate number of the getaway vehicle that my neighbor provided.
“I’ll have this run before you arrive,” she assured me.
I pulled into the office complex and parked, exited my vehicle and scurried toward the front door.. The office lights shimmered softly through the opaque window film applied to the vertical sidelights of the main office doorway. I reached for the doorknob, then hesitated; call it a sixth sense, a gut feeling, intuition ….., something just didn’t ‘feel’ right.
I unlocked the door, then gave it a gentle push, moving inward in unison with the door as it slowly opened. “Delia, Becca,” I called out softly. No response. I removed my snub nose revolver from its holster, then remained motionless, detecting no sound or movement.
I continued inside, noticing Delia’s desk was vacant, her chair shoved back against the wall. My office door was closed. I carefully opened the door, flicking on the light switch. My chair was turned around, facing the window behind my desk. It took only seconds to realize Delia was in the chair. She was bound and gagged so tightly she couldn’t move or utter a sound. I placed my revolver back into its holster, then proceeded to remove the gag. Her eyes widened frighteningly the moment the cloth dropped below her chin.
“Matt, lookout,” she yelled.
I turned and instinctively jumped back and away from the unmistakable click of a switchblade or stiletto, its spring loaded blade locking into position. I was facing an unknown male, dressed in a pair of worn jeans, a long sleeve pullover shirt, and a ski mask pulled down to his chin. He was in a knife fighting stance, lurching forward, jabbing and swinging a glistening, black handled knife. I moved clockwise, dodging his attack, my back against the wall, the thug continuing after me until I reached my coat valet. I grabbed the coat rack and slammed it between his outstretched and widened arms. The thick, metal pole struck the perp in the forehead, stunning him; he wobbled slightly, then dropped to his knees. I stepped slightly to my right and connected with a stinging haymaker to the right side of his head; he crumpled and slumped unconscious on his left side. I reached down and grabbed the knife.
Delia appeared rattled, but uninjured. “You’re bleeding Matt,” she said, still tied to the chair.
“Where’s Becca?” I asked, ignoring her observation. I used the hoodlum’s knife to cut the rope binding Delia, then helped her to her feet.
“This guy and his partner walked in half an hour before you arrived,” she began. “They were wearing ski masks, both carrying guns.” Delia pointed to the thug on the floor. “This creep gagged and then tied me to your chair. His partner zip tied Becca and placed duct tape over her mouth, then forced her out the door. I heard tires squealing, so the other guy must have thrown her in their car and left, but not before I heard ‘Prince Charming’ here tell his sidekick, “‘I’ll take care of Duggan when he gets back.’”
I wrapped my pocket square around my left hand, picked-up the telephone receiver on my desk and called Blanchard. “I’m on my way,” she replied after briefing her regarding the incident in my office.
I placed the blood streaked receiver back on its cradle, then turned and glanced at Delia. “Are you sure you’re okay?” She looked at me, a wry smile on her face.
“Let me see your hand, Matt,” she ordered, avoiding my question. She placed her hand under my wrist, then unwrapped the handkerchief. “Looks like he nicked you pretty good; right in the snuffbox below your thumb. Let me grab the first aid kit.”
“Not before I secure this bozo,” I retorted, turning our ‘visitor’ face down, removing his mask, then securing him with handcuffs Delia removed from my desk drawer. I grabbed the unconscious assailant under the armpits, pulling and twisting him into a sitting position. I dragged him out of my office and and propped him against a group of file cabinets in the main lobby.
I checked his pockets. I walked to the bathroom and washed my hands, leaving a trail of blood on the floor and the perp’s clothing. “No wallet, no id,” I told Delia as I exited, drying my hands with a paper towel and using it as a bandage.
She opened a file cabinet and removed the office first aid bag, unzipping it on my desk. Delia cleaned and disinfected the laceration, covered it with a gauze dressing, and wrapped just enough elastic bandage to hold it in place.
“Nice job,” I said, looking over the medical wrap applied sparingly around my hand, held snuggly in place by several clips.
Delia glanced at me, smiling while she counted and placed the contents of the first aid supplies back into the red zippered case. Let’s see, that’s one package of gauze, one package of clips, one ….,” stopping her count in response to the hoodlum groaning and regaining consciousness.
“Ahh! O… Oh! Aghh!” the perp moaned, lifting his head upright and opening his eyes. He looked up at Delia, smiling in an irritatingly smug way.
“Oh, and here’s one for you, you bastard,” Delia shouted, dropping the first aid supplies and kneeing her assailant squarely in the jaw. His head slumped forward again, his chin resting on his chest.
“What’s with ‘Sleeping Beauty?’” Blanchard asked, exchanging glances with the suspect and Matt, the unconscious suspect motionless as she walked through the front door, two uniformed officers accompanying her. “And what happened to your hand?”
“He insisted on catching a few winks while waiting for you to show up,” Matt sneered, snatching the switchblade off the desk corner and pressing the release catch. Blanchard jerked her head toward the sound of the spring loaded blade popping into position.
“That answers my second question,” motioning for her two officers to take a position on either side of the culprit. “Help this guttersnipe off the floor and sit him in that chair,” she ordered, pointing at the chair. “Do you have any smelling salts in that first aid kit?”
Delia reached into the bag and removed an ammonia ampoule, handing it to Blanchard. She snapped it open, then waived it in front of the unconscious man’s nose. He reflexively moved his head up, twitching back and forth and away from the ammonia vapor. He opened his eyes, then flailed his arms trying to push the capsule away. “The lights are back on,” Blanchard quipped.
“Alright, champ, start talking. Who are you and where’s the other girl who was here?” Matt demanded.
“I was just doing what I was told,” the accomplice mumbled, bobbing his head, still groggy from Matt’s punch and Delia’s knee to the chin. “My jaw --- I think it’s broken,” he cried out incoherently.
“He’s not going to talk, Matt,” Kate said. “We’ll book him on breaking and entering, kidnapping and assault, and attempted murder; that’s after we take him to the hospital. His jaw does appear to be broken.”
“She did it,” the injured crook garbled, turning his head and looking upward at Delia.
“Oh, really? Prove it.” Blanchard mockingly replied. She motioned her two officers to walk toward her and the gangster wannabe. “Help him out of the chair."
The MPD officers stood on either side of the suspect, then reached down to lift the cuffed criminal out of the chair. “On your feet,” one of the officers ordered, the tough wobbling slightly as he was assisted upright.
Blanchard read the culprit his rights, then told the officers to place him in the back seat of the cruiser. “Drop by the precinct early tomorrow, Matt. We’ll have Mr. Mysterious identified before you arrive. You and Delia should get some rest. Oh, and remind me to return your cuffs.”
Matt smirked. “What about Becca?”
“That’s exactly what our line of questioning will focus on, just as soon as he’s done at the hospital and we complete his booking at MPD.”
Pausing, Matt rendered a reluctant nod. “I’ll see you at the precinct in the morning.”
Blanchard and her officers walked out of the agency with the handcuffed felon in tow, placing him in the backseat of the cruiser. Matt closed and locked the door, then pulled the string loaded shade down, covering the door’s decorative glass panel. He turned and walked toward his assistant’s desk.
I’m scared to death for Becca,” Delia said. “Unless that accomplice talks, MPD can’t do a thing about her whereabouts.”
Matt didn’t didn’t disagree with her assessment. “Did you run the plate number that I gave you over the phone?”
Delia smiled. “I did you one better. I ran the plate and a criminal history. This guy’s been a busy beaver; talk about a rap sheet, his history looks like a road map. She opened her middle drawer and picked up the folded copies, handing them to her boss.
“Yeah, about the length of the entire country,” Matt confirmed out loud, chewing on his bottom lip as he perused over the folded printouts. He looked up at his assistant. “Thanks, this is exactly what I need.”
Delia rendered a sidelong glance. “Uh, Matt, she began cautiously, “are you planning what I think you’re planning?”
Matt chuckled; she knew him too well, including why he didn’t say anything to Blanchard about the printouts. The MPD detective had enough on her plate as it was, and Matt had no intention of risking Becca’s life with any further delays. It was obvious after reviewing the printout that the two criminals who terrorized Delia and kidnapped Becca were the same two who shot and killed their colleague outside of Matt’s home, one of them now in custody and the other with Becca in tow.
“You’re going after her,” aren’t you, Delia knowingly asked.
Matt responded with a rhetorical glare.
A pause. “You’re not doing this solo again," Delia tersely announced, scouring through her desk, grabbing a can of mace and another pair of handcuffs.
“NO!” Matt fired back.
“Matt!” she bellowed out in frustration. “It’s too risky.”
He looked at Delia appreciatively, walking over to her, gently sliding his hands up to the top of her arms. “Hey, you’ve been through enough today - which is exactly why you’re not going. As a matter of fact —“
“And no, I’m not going home,” she interrupted. “Not until I hear back from you.”
Matt smiled and winked; he grabbed his sports jacket, turned around and headed for the door, printouts in hand. “I’ll be in touch,” he said, walking out of the office.
Delia paused, then walked up to the door, peaking through the shade, watching until he drove out of the office complex parking lot. She turned and walked back to her desk, grabbed her handbag, stuffed the cuffs and mace inside and walked toward the main office door.
He’ll just have to fire me.