CHAPTER FOUR: TOO HEAVY TO CARRY
As John approached his car, he felt conflicted. “Why did I let Bruce go?” he thought once he entered and struck the steering wheel, overwhelmed with guilt and confusion at once. “All this goes against virtually everything I know!” He leaned forward, his forehead touching against the wheel and let out a hard sigh. “I’ll have to follow him. He knows I’m going to see what he’s up to… maybe we’ll both find something that can clear him!” John started his car. “I didn’t see Bruce’s car out here, so he must’ve left it at Turquet’s office, coming down here on foot...”
He drove back to Turquet’s office on the corner of Fifty-Second and Twenty-Eighth Street. Just as he pulled up in front of the building, he saw Bruce entering the office and shutting the door behind him. John picked up the radio receiver.
“Code Ten,” John said, “Mark One to Control, this is Horace.”
“Go ahead, Mark One,” replied the dispatch operator.
“I’d like a want on a suspect, name Rick Collins.”
“Stand by Mark One.”
“This dead man has to have some answers,” John mused. “Nothing was taken, no registers jimmied, his wallet still intact. Who would shoot him without reason?”
“Mark One, suspect was a former accomplice to Giorgio Strozzi. He was arrested in Windhurst but tried in Delta City. Collins was released from prison just three days ago.”
“I wonder if Strozzi had a hit on Collins,” John thought as he strummed the steering wheel with his free hand. “Why would he have him shot dead if he used to work together? Unless...” The sounds of tires squealing broke John’s thoughts and he looked up to see the green and yellow sports car speeding away down the street.
“Thanks for the info,” he said into the handset. “That’s all for now.” Throwing the receiver aside, he changed gears to make a turn and followed in pursuit after Bruce’s car.
Bruce pulled up in front of the small house and made a quick turn to park the car across the street.
“Stay here,” Bruce commanded. “I’ll find out what I can about this place.”
“That’s fine,” answered Turquet. Bruce got out of the car and walked quickly up the steps. Once on the porch, he tried the door and it swung open.
“Seems that someone beat me to it,” Bruce thought, withdrawing his pistol from his waistband. He pushed open the door and stepped inside the dimly lit home to find it ransacked. “Someone must’ve been hungry for information! Let’s see what they left behind...”
Searching through drawers and desks, Bruce came across a letter written in familiar handwriting: I helped you out after that Windhurst screw-up,” the letter read. “I bailed both you and Collins out! You owe me big time and I’m tired of waiting for you to pay me back. So here’s what you’re going to do for me: One of our boys has a monkey on his back and we need your special skills for backup on the next major deal.
On the page, a single name was written across the top margin: Dawn Pointe.
“Another name, but no location,” Bruce grumbled under his breath. “I need more answers.” He left the note and continued searching, eventually coming across a single brown book with the name ‘Records’ in gilded gold stamped on the front. Bruce picked it up and thumbed through it. “What’s this?” he muttered to himself, coming to the last page. A singular entry written in red ink stood out from the rest: Shipment V, ten at 613. “This must be happening at the old hotel,” Bruce thought as he set the book aside on the desk. “It has to be! Otherwise, I’m screwed.” He exited the house to cross the street and to his car. “Hey Turquet,” he said upon entry. “I think I’m onto something...” Bruce glanced over to find Turquet gone. “Where did he go?” he wondered, then shrugged his shoulders. “Well, I’m not going to wait on him; it’s his loss.” Bruce started the car and drove back to the grand hotel.
John watched the car pull away from in front of the house and started his car, pulling down the street before parking in front of the building that matched the address he had.
“What could be here?” John exited the car and came up the stoop. Entering the home easily, he started searching quickly and came across a letter and a book sitting atop a desk. Taking them both to read their pages, John sucked in a shallow breath. “So we must be on the same route,” he mused as he dug through his pockets and withdrew the note he took out of Turquet’s folder to compare. “What did you find Bruce?” John took the record book and set both letters and the note inside, then took the book along and quickly headed back to his car. Trying his door, he found it locked and placed the book atop the car as he fished his pockets for his keys. He paused when he felt cold steel at his neck.
“Don’t turn around,” a voice sneered. John glanced at his car window to squint when the sun reflected back at him. He could make out Bruce’s figure behind him.
“Bruce!” John yelped.
“Hands in the air so I can see them! Don’t try anything funny!” John put up his hands.
“What are you doing?”
“Making sure you don’t find out what I’m up to.”
“I’m going to find out anyway,” John protested. “Why are you whispering? What’s gotten into you?” He received a strike to the temple and cried out, slipping to his knees as his vision became blurry. John reached up to feel stickiness behind his ear and grunted once kicked hard in the chest that forced him to fall back. He struggled to get up, only to get a hard stomp that rattled his chest. He squinted up at Bruce who stood over him with the sun at his back, wearing dark aviator sunglasses and pointing a gun down at him.
“Stay off my back!” he snarled and snapped a foot across John’s jaw, forcing his head to snap back. John wheezed in pain as he heard Bruce’s footsteps run away in the distance.
“Bruce tricked me!” John thought, sitting up. “Why would he lie to me?” He shut his eyes, rubbing at the lids with his fingers. “I can’t entirely trust him now, no matter what I do...”
Bruce entered the grand hotel and came up the steps to enter the lobby. Searching for directions to room 613, Bruce came onto a panel on the wall that had old room listings. After reading the listings, Bruce made his way up the stairs. Coming to the fourth floor on its way to the fifth, he heard voices speaking.
“I tell ya, Dawn,” a gravelly voice said, “Giorgio’s like a mad dog, ready to murder anybody that looks his way! I just got lucky when I got on the scene. I swear, he was gonna do it when both me and Collins got thrown in the big house!”
“But didn’t he just get rid of Collins?” another voice asked, high and nasal. “He was in charge of the robbery that Donatellos was doin’, and he got busted by those two cops.” Bruce made his way towards a room with an unmarked door that was the source of the sound. He pulled out his pistol and pressed his ear against it.
“Yeah, now Giorgio’s gonna strangle me if I don’t get the money! I’m gonna get Gognitti - it was his damn idea. He shoulda stuck with the casino. The house always wins...”
“Oh Alfred, you’re so bad!”
“I am, ain’t I?” There was laughter. Bruce stepped back and kicked in the door. The door flung open, revealing a large bald man wearing black slacks and a white A-shirt with a gun holster that held a high-powered pistol that had an oversized frame strapped over his shoulder and a young woman with long reddish brown hair wearing a simple beige dress. Both sat at a table that had a bag of cocaine between them, a mirror with lines of the white powder and two cut straws. In the young woman’s hands, she held a straight razor. Nearby rest a yellow and green couch with flowers and paisleys that had Murete’s shirt and blazer draped on the back.
“So you’re Alfred Murete,” Bruce said. “I got questions and you’re giving me answers!”
“Who the hell are you?” Murete yelled, jumping to his feet.
“It’s that cop that busted Collins!” the young woman screeched. She quickly rose to her feet, holding the razor at ready. “I’ll cut him to ribbons!”
“Dawn, get down!” Murete went for his gun and Bruce fired a shot, striking Murete in the arm. Dawn screamed and glared at Bruce.
“You animal!” she screeched and flipped the table over. Dawn charged at Bruce and he quickly dodged her swift slashes. Bruce backhanded her with her fist, forcing her to spiral onto the floor, stunned. She quickly crawled back as Bruce pointed his pistol down at her, running his free hand over his cheek that burned. He growled when he found blood on his skin.
“You cut me, you witch!” he snarled. “That’s all I got going is my looks and you ruined it!”
“You can’t shoot me cos you’re a cop,” Dawn retorted. “So just let me go!” Bruce grinned darkly.
“You’re wrong. They let me go, so I’m just another guy on the street.”
“You son of a--!” Murete shouted and Bruce ducked down from a sudden gunshot blast that barely missed his head, blowing a hole in the wall. “Dawn, cheese it! Get the hell outta here!” Bruce turned back and fired a shot before Murete could duck down behind the table, forcing the large man to cry out in pain once his shoulder was blown. Dawn scurried to her feet and darted out into the corridor. Bruce growled and stomped over to Murete who gripped his shoulder as he wheezed for breath, his face red and sticky with perspiration.
“You’ve got a blown shoulder and your arm’s clipped,” Bruce snapped, “so don’t try shooting at me again.”
“Forget you, man!” Murete snapped.
“Now, I’ve got questions and you’ve got answers.” Bruce kicked Murete’s gun aside. “So spill it, turkey!”
“I ain’t tellin’ you nothin’!” Murete spat in Bruce’s face and Bruce yanked him up by the collar, pointing the pistol at his head.
“I’ll tell him something,” a voice said from behind. Bruce turned to see Dawn pointing a high-powered fifteen-gauge lever-action shotgun in his direction. “Goodbye, sucker!”
“Hey!” Bruce quickly dove for the nearby couch when Dawn fired, blowing a large hole in the frame, splintering wood and throwing cotton filler in the air. She snapped the lever as she reloaded and readjusted her aim. Bruce quickly scrambled to his feet and ran across the room searching for a hiding place. He dove for the floor when the nearby counter had a large borehole blasted into and rolled behind the island in the kitchenette, pressing himself against the wall. Bruce quickly got up and fired a shot, only to miss and strike the wall as Dawn readied her aim. Bruce ducked back down as she fired again, shattering tiles above his head.
“Dawn, get rid of him,” Murete declared. “I’m out of here!” Murete staggered to his feet and pushed past her, heading for the stairs. Bruce came up as Dawn fired another shot and his heart skittered in his chest as part of the sink had a hole punched through it, forcing his ears to ring.
“Get back here!” Bruce shouted and pulled the hammer down on the pistol, pumping off the round of ammunition. Dawn let out a scream as two bullets struck her in the arm and the third hit her in the leg, forcing her to drop the shotgun. She crumpled to the floor and Bruce hopped the counter, tossing the empty pistol aside. He picked up the shotgun along the way as he raced out into the corridor.
“You ain’t gettin’ me,” Murete yelled and let off a burst of ammunition. Bruce pressed himself against the wall, looking in the direction the gunfire came from. He spotted Murete making his way further up the stairs, huffing and wheezing.
“I’m going to be done for with this piece against that assault pistol,” Bruce thought as he sprinted to catch up. “If I don’t hurry and disarm this idiot, I’m done for!” Bruce jumped out the way when more submachine gunfire rained down on him.
“Give it up, copper!” Murete thundered. “You ain’t got much left in that piece of yours!”
“I lost count of the shots!” Bruce considered and clenched his teeth. “Why run if you’re not guilty?” he called after him instead and ran up the steps, taking two at a time. “All I had were some questions!”
“I ain’t answerin’ to nobody!”
“You answer to Strozzi!” Bruce yelled. “Yet he’s still in jail!” He pressed himself against the wall again when more bullets tore into the floor and the wall.
“You’re gettin’ a few hundred in the back,” Murete threatened. “I don’t care what you got on me!”
“I haven’t collected the evidence yet, but you’ll squeal soon once you hit hot water.”
“Eat this!” A hail of gunfire tore up the steps, only to suddenly pause at a click. Bruce quickly entered the stairway and slung the lever, firing a blind shot above him. He cringed when the loud explosion of sound forced his ears to ring. “Ha, you missed!” crowed Murete from afar. “I don’t go down that easy, ya dick!” Murete screeched. Bruce continued up the stairs once Murete’s wheezing gasps were no longer close by.
Coming to the top floor, Bruce searched the floor and spotted the door that led to the roof’s fire escape propped open. He ran for it and threw open the door wide, only to hear hacking laughter behind him. Bruce whirled around, spotting Murete sprinting around the corner. He chased after Murete only to find the man waving at him from the elevator as the doors hushed closed. Bruce kicked at the door then made a mad dash for the stairs, jumping over the banister.
John gripped the steering wheel tightly, waiting for his vision to refocus. He ground his teeth, visualizing ways he would beat Bruce once he caught him. The radio cackled and the operator’s voice came over the line.
“Mark One, come in,” said the dispatch operator. John picked up the radio’s receiver.
“Mark One here,” he said. “It’s Horace, go ahead.”
“Code Three, a 415 has been called in on 61015 Sombocian... a possible crime of violence in progress.”
“I’m on my way,” John said and quickly put his car into gear. He struck the dash, bristling. “Bruce, why are you doing this to me?” he moaned.
Later, pulling up in front of the old grand hotel, John spotted the green and yellow sports car parked out front and tensed when he heard gunfire from within. He quickly left his car as he withdrew his revolver and held it at ready, making his way carefully inside. Going through the lobby, he caught sight of bloodstains that came down the stairs and followed the path into a rear room where he heard a shaky high nasal voice speaking to another.
“Gognitti,” the voice whimpered. “It’s that bull snooper, Mann or whatever… he’s trying to kill us!” John could hear faint squawking of another on the other end of the line, possibly throwing a fit. “Alfred’s going to die out there; please send some help!” John entered the room that had an old telephone switchboard, finding a young woman kneeling on the floor, holding a headset to her head.
“Alright!” a gravelly voice cried from nearby. “What’s your freakin’ problem? Don’t cap me!”
“Tell me everything Murete or I’ll blow you away!” Bruce’s voice shouted. John sprinted out of the reception area and made his way down the hallway to press himself against the wall. He glanced around the corner, spotting Bruce standing before a large man in a bloodied undershirt and dark slacks who gripped his bleeding shoulder with one hand, wheezing for breath as he leaned against the interior wall of the open elevator, his bleeding arm staining the steel that had been blown open with a gun blast. Bruce held a heavy rifle, gripping the lever as his finger twitched near the trigger.
“Are ya freakin’ kiddin’ me?” Murete shouted. “You’re just a lousy cop! You can’t whack me!” John watched Bruce cock the shotgun and point it directly at Murete.
“I beg to differ,” sneered Bruce.
“Freeze!” John shouted as he stepped out underneath the corridor’s arched entrance, pointing his revolver at Bruce. Bruce turned around, stunned.
“What are you doing here?” he demanded.
“Answering a four-fifteen.”
“I was just getting answers!” Bruce protested. “I wasn’t really going to kill him!”
“I don’t know if I can trust your word,” John snapped. “You’re going Downtown.” Bruce ignored him as he grabbed for Murete and twisted his injured arm behind his back. Murete yowled in pain as Bruce faced John, keeping Murete between them as a shield.
“You can’t shoot me if there’s a hostage,” Bruce said evenly. “Get out of my way, or he gets it.”
“I’ll let you get your answers.”
“No way,” Bruce snapped. “You’ll only get the word out and tell the boys in black and white that I’ve gone corrupt.”
“Release him, Manny. We can talk it out!”
“I’m through talking!” Bruce shouted. He made his way around John, keeping the shotgun pointed at Murete’s head. “I gave you enough chances to try and see this trough. Now it’s down to who-do-we-trust time... and all I can say that I have to trust in me!”
“The guns are gonna do the talking. Let me through or he’s a dead man.”
“Bruce...” John lowered his gun, unable to reason further with his partner.
“Come on, you whale.” Bruce snapped and pushed against Murete. They headed down the hallway and out the door.