The Charity Case

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 11 (v.1)

Submitted: June 04, 2013

Reads: 105

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Submitted: June 04, 2013

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Thomas Larson’s alarm woke him up at 7 o’clock. Back when he worked for the police department, he used to set his alarm in order to make in into the office every morning. In all the years since that time, he kept that habit of getting up early. No matter what errands he had planned that day, he always set aside time to himself so that he could to unwind before a busy day or after a busy night.

 

He had a specific ritual he went though. He even had a special room set up in his house equipped with a computer chair, a desk and a bunch of filing cabinets. Every day at 7 AM he sat down in that room, turned on his radio, picked up a pencil and started sketching out a picture.

 

There was something about Larson that even people that interacted with him on a daily basis didn’t know about him, and that was his drawing ability and photographic memory.

 

He had developed these abilities from a young age. Like most kids in school that didn’t feel like paying attention in class, he passed the time by drawing in his notebook. But rather than draw made up things like dragons or unicorns like the other kids, he drew things he recalled from real life.

 

He would draw the scene from the lunch period from an hour ago. And he vividly remembered the long lunch lines filled with impatient kids wanting to get their food and sit down. The various groups of people that were seated at different tables talking about things that they thought were important at the time.

 

One of those groups he could tell was in the middle of a heated debate. He couldn’t hear what the argument was about but it was obvious there was some kind of disagreement based on the facial expressions that were formed on the people involved and the fact that two of the kids were standing up on either side of the table. One with his hands on the table, the other with an accusatory finger pointed at the other. He was able to recall every aspect of that moment and put it on paper.

 

It got to the point where this act of putting his memories down on paper became almost therapeutic. Maybe he got in a fight with someone else, or maybe something that happened made him worry about the future. Drawing these things was a way of distancing himself from the problem.

 

Whenever he started drawing, he didn’t consciously choose what recent memory he wanted to put on paper. Something would always be on his mind. But he always tended to draw the things that caused him the most stress.

 

The first thing that came to mind from last nights events was the scene that had caught his eye while he was sitting at the table at the convention. The one between the female surgeon and the authority figure she was having dinner with. With precision detail he drew the picture he had seen from memory from the night before.

 

He wasn’t able to deduce to who the man was that he had labeled ‘authority figure’, but he could tell from this person’s relaxed posture and confident smile that he wasn’t trying to impress anyone. He wasn’t afraid of losing his job, and he wasn’t trying to find a better one. The surgeon that had been engaging him in conversation certainly was a different story. Larson could tell from the way she tried to mask the worry on her face with a look of self-assurance.

 

As he was drawing this picture, he came to the conclusion that the man was probably some hospital executive and had decided to invite one of the employees to this charity event. She decided to make the most of the opportunity and score points with one of her bosses, maybe build a relationship that would help her get promoted somewhere down the line. They both got something out of the arrangement: she got the opportunity to make a friend in upper management, and he got to be seen in public with a good looking woman.

 

Cooper had disagreed with him when he suggested that people who got involved with charity tended to do so with ulterior motives. She was naive if she truly thought everyone was there because they wanted to get more involved in this charity. There were only two types of people that attended those types of events: those that liked to socialize with other people, and those that only pretended to so that they could obtain the thing that they were really after.

 

But Cooper didn’t believe that people were inherently selfish and only looked after themselves. Her philosophy was that everyone by nature was good, but some people are victims that got dealt a bad hand in life. And that if she really put an effort into helping the unfortunate among us that somehow the world would become a better place as a result. He could see the confidence and certainty in her voice as she spoke about these beliefs.

 

Alan Woods was the same way, Larson realized. When Larson interrogated him yesterday about his charity, he had a certain conviction in his voice when he talked about the charity he created. And the lengths he would go to help those kids was astounding. That kind of passion was something that few people had, and it was definitely something to be respected.

 

The downside to dealing with a passionate person, of course, was that all the logic and reasoning in the world couldn’t convince them they were doing the wrong thing. Cooper was on a mission to ‘save’ David. It didn’t matter if all the leads they looked into came up dead. Or that all the evidence still suggested that he just ran away. She was going to investigate this ‘missing person’ case until something happened that stopped her.

 

Although he had to admit, as pointless as the investigation was, he did enjoy the thrill of the chase. It had been a long time since he had been involved in a case. He loved that feeling he got when he discovered a hidden quirk that no one else was able to figure out. And it was really nice when he put that last piece of the puzzle in place; the one that gave him clear view of who the guy was that was responsible for any particular crime.

 

He also loved the freedom he had to be clever and outwit an opponent to get something he wanted. Usually it was information. His unorthodox style of getting something out of a person of interest was something he had developed back when he worked with the police. It was a long time ago, but after all of those years he still had the skills to get the job done.

 

Of all the cases to jump back into the game with, he gets the most open and shut, run of the mill abduction. He could’ve said no, but as soon as she said what her name was, his curiosity was peaked. This detective was the daughter of the most famous Captain that the city had seen in years, Larson thought. And yet you wouldn’t even know it by the way she acted every time I brought it up.

 

He welcomed the ‘agreement’ they had come up with when he agreed to work with her for the second time. He could only ask a question if he helped uncover some break in the case. Rules like that made this boring runaway case interesting, because he could find things that seemed like leads all day and every time he did it meant she had to answer one of his questions.

 

So far, three questions had been asked and if anything the facts he had uncovered made this mystery even more complex. He wondered if he would be able to figure out the answer before they came to the inevitable end of the case. He felt like he had to know what this secret was that the late Captain Cooper had taken to his death.

 

They had been investigating long enough to get to the moment he had personally been dreading: the time when she started to wonder why exactly Larson left HPD. He did his best to avoid the question, but he knew it was only a matter of time before she noticed that a few things didn’t add up.

 

He was a nobody coming out of high school. All he knew how to do was draw. He worked in a kitchen for those first few years before managing to get this gig working as one of those people that drew realistic looking pictures of people at Six Flags Astroworld back before it closed down.

 

Larson made a decent living doing that, and then fate drew him to his natural calling. Someone had been stabbed to death in the middle of the day while he was on the clock. He happened to witness the suspect running away from the crime scene.

 

There were dozens of other witnesses that were there to see the guy run away. The only problem was that because they didn’t know someone had been murdered until afterward, they didn’t think much of a guy running through Six Flags. The police questioned all of them, but they gave such a wide variety of descriptions that they knew that they didn’t know what to do with them.

 

When they came to Larson, he drew an exact picture. It was almost like a sketch artist drawing, but instead of the picture coming second hand from a witness with a shaky memory, he was able to draw exactly what was in his mind. From the shape of his mouth, eyes, ears and nose, all the way to his style of clothing and type of shoes he was wearing.

 

It turned out the picture was so good, they were able to match the description to one of the other “witnesses” even though he was wearing a hat and sunglasses as a disguise. They booked him, and his DNA turned out to match some skin under the victim’s fingernails. Case closed.

 

The detectives had been really impressed with his immense attention to detail. It was enough to get him a job working as a consultant that lasted for over a decade. And for the first time in his life it felt like this was a job he could do for the rest of his life.

 

Of course, all good things had to come to an end. And like most things in his life, he had drawn a picture from his last day on the job. He had hundreds of drawings filed away in different cabinets as well as a few that he hung on the walls, but this specific drawing he kept within arms length because he pulled it out every time he thought about his prior career.

 

It had been an average day late in the year, he remembered. It all started when he got into that car.

 

“Hey Boss, wait up.” Larson said, running towards his fellow colleague who was getting ready to leave in his car.

 

His name was Chuck, but Larson had gotten accustomed to calling him ‘Boss’ because technically that’s what he was. Larson at first didn’t like the idea of having a boss, having basically worked with no supervision for his entire adult life. But over the years the two of them had come to respect each other and the word seemed to be more cordial these days.

 

“You shouldn’t be here.” Chuck said as Larson sat down in the passenger seat.

 

“I guess that makes two of us.”

 

They had been working this case for the past week now. The victim was Mike Costa, a Hispanic man in his sixties, shot in cold blood in his middle class home. He left behind two kids that had long since grown up and left their hometown to pursue their dreams, and a wife that had been married to him for over forty years.

 

The wife was the one who discovered the body. She came home from the grocery store late in the evening to find her dead husband. The cops were soon on the scene to comfort the hysterical widow. They gathered witness statements and collected evidence around the house. No gun was found but all of the signs pointed to the killer being a big time drug dealer that the police had never been able to put behind bars: Jimmy Cruz.

 

Costa had made a career of being a social worker in the city of Houston, but had long since retired and spent his free time being a local community leader. Cruz had been suspected of running drugs and weapons for a long time, and was now a very rich and influential man because of it. One of the areas of town where he conducted business in was where Costa lived. The two of them clashed a few times before Cruz apparently ended it.

 

“I can’t forgive Cruz for what he did. Mike Costa was one of the good guys.” Chuck said with a tinge of anger as he continued driving. He took crimes like this seriously.

 

“The Chief said to stay away from Cruz until we could get more evidence.”  Larson said.

 

He banged his hand on the steering wheel, “We aren’t going to get any more evidence. We have witnesses that claim to have seen a black SUV, the same type of car that Cruz drives, leaving the scene of the crime just after it happened. We know that Costa was vehemently trying to get Cruz out of his neighborhood, giving Cruz enough motive to shoot the guy. And on top of it all, Cruz has no alibi for the murder.”

 

“The defense is going to point out how many black SUVs are driven in the city of Houston. With no gun or any other physical evidence, motive or lack of alibi isn’t enough to find the guy guilty.”

 

“I know what the defense is going to argue, you don’t have to tell me.”

 

“This is a high profile case, and if you do something to mess up the investigation, you might be looking at the end of your career.” Larson said.

 

“I can’t just sit around and do nothing while this guy gets away with murder. I know there are risks involved. Besides…” Chuck paused for a moment, “If they force me to resign, maybe that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.”

 

The way he averted eye contact as he reluctantly spoke made Larson wonder what he was really saying.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Mike Costa was in his 60s. And I’m not 60 yet but that’s not that far away. Maybe it’s about time I think about retiring.”

 

“You can’t be serious, Boss. What will I do if you retire?”  Larson asked.

 

He sounded a little too selfish with his question. But his boss knew it came with the best of intentions. The two of them had worked together for well over a decade and they had become pretty close friends as a result. In fact, Larson had only had the one boss in his entire career with HPD. He didn’t know what it was like to work with anyone else.

 

“You’ll be fine. I’ve worked with you for a long time and you have gotten pretty good at this detective thing under my watch. Anyone would be happy to work with you.”

 

“None one else in the department likes me.”

 

Chuck smirked at that statement. “Political correctness has never been your strong suit, but you have a unique skill that anyone would be glad to use on a case and the experience to handle most situations that will be thrown at you. Your reputation speaks for itself. It doesn’t matter if they don’t like you.”

 

“But I don’t like them either.”

 

“Not much I can do about that.” Chuck said with a laugh. “You knew I had to retire sometime. This couldn’t last forever.”

 

That’s what bothered Larson. He knew deep down that eventually all things come to an end, but he never liked being confronted with that reality.

 

“But you love this job so much. What are you going to do with your time after you’ve turned your badge in?” Larson asked.

 

“I don’t know. Maybe travel. I’ve always wanted to go vacation in Europe.”

 

“You wouldn’t vacation in Europe. You’d try and arrest the first person you see committing a crime.”

 

“You are probably right. Nothing wrong with kicking a little ass while I’m there though right?”

 

“You need this job just as much as it needs you. And I wouldn’t be the same person unless I was investigating these cases with you. So why don’t we just forget this stupid little plan of yours and go back to-”

 

“I can’t do that, Tom. I made a promise to Mrs. Costa that I would get the bastard that killed her husband.” Chuck’s voice suddenly turned serious. “I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do everything in my power to put that guy away for murder.”

 

“Are you going to do something stupid if the evidence doesn’t turn up that makes our case against him? He’s not worth it.”

 

“I’m not that desperate. But I plan on staking out his house until he gives us something we can use against him.”

 

“And what will you do if that doesn’t work?”

 

He put his hands over his lips to signal Larson to be quiet as they pulled into the neighborhood where Cruz lived. Larson didn’t like that his question was being ignored. It was just like Chuck to not have a back up plan on the off chance the stake out didn’t work. But that was how he did things. Chuck was a very stubborn and persistent man and didn’t let the possibility of failure sway him from making a decision.

 

They arrived at Cruz’s place: a nice three story house in the suburbs that he had purchased with his drug money. His house was indistinguishable from the others that were presumably bought by people that had legitimate careers. The two things that gave him away were the cars in the driveway that had been customized for racing and the fact that he was having a party in the middle of the week while playing music loud enough to be heard from outside.

 

Larson and Chuck waited on the other side of the street in view of the man’s house in an unmarked police vehicle as they tried to see and hear as much as they could inside the house. From the two front windows they could make out a few people inside the house. They couldn’t hear what was being said over the music.

 

Several hours into their stakeout, they saw another car park on the curb and two men got out. Larson didn’t think they were friendly people based on the serious looks they had on their faces as they walked to the door. Chuck grabbed a camera in the back seat and started taking pictures of the two guys approaching the door.

 

“Those two don’t look like they were invited.” Chuck said.

 

“And they are packing heat. Look at the way they both have one hand close to their sides. You can barely make out a gun there.” Larson noted.

 

“Knowing how Cruz operates, it’s likely a shooting incident is about to break out. Wanna call it in?” Chuck said as he handed in a cell phone.

 

“We’re already here. What are you talking about?”

 

“This has to be legit. I just gave you a burner phone that can’t be traced. You call 911 and report that you see two guys with guns in the neighborhood. And when the dispatcher puts out the call, I’ll get on my radio and tell them I’m nearby. They’ll send back up. Maybe we get lucky and this makes our case against Cruz. Either way, we can’t stay here and let them kill each other in there.”

 

“Technically we aren’t breaking the rules.” Larson said with a big grin. “That’s my kind of plan, Boss.”

 

“I think you are rubbing off on me.”

 

Larson called the incident in and, just like they planned, the dispatcher put the message out for someone to check it out and Chuck told them he was nearby. Then he got out of the car and approached the house. By this time the door had already been opened and the music had been turned off so now Larson could hear everything that was going on inside.

 

Larson saw Chuck take cover right at the entrance of the house and announce his presence. “HPD! Everyone drop your weapons!”

 

“Police? Did you set me up?” asked a voice from inside.

 

“Yo, put your gun down. I didn’t call them!” answered back Cruz.

 

Moments later multiple weapons could be heard firing all at once. The visitors assumed that the presence of the police meant Cruz was the one that called them. Larson didn’t know why those two strangers had come to the house, and he would probably never know, but it couldn’t have been good.

 

Chuck realized the danger he was in and ran back to the car as fast as he could. Instructing Larson to gun it as soon as he got in. Larson had long since anticipated the need for a quick get away and moved over to the driver’s side.

 

“Well, that was stupid, wasn’t it? Running to a house full of people with guns.” Larson chided as he drove off.

 

“I was hoping I could stall them long enough for the real back up to arrive. I didn’t expect them to start shooting each other.” He answered. He was breathing harder than normal, and Larson couldn’t figure out why. But when he saw the sleeve of his T-shirt start to change color he knew what happened.

 

“You are bleeding, Boss.”

 

“I know. A stray bullet caught me in the arm.” he said as blood rapidly leaked from his body into the car. “I think it hit an artery.”

 

“I know where a hospital is nearby. Can you put pressure on it?”

 

He tried putting pressure on it and it slowed the bleeding a little but because it hit a major blood vessel the damage was more severe. He winced as he grabbed the part of his arm that was wounded. “It will have to do for now.”

 

Larson sped down the neighborhood streets and quickly got on a highway. The nearest hospital he knew about was probably ten minutes away. He hoped he could make it in time.

 

“Just keep pressure on the wound and we’ll be there in no time.”

 

As Larson flew down the highway, the heavy traffic made him jerk from left to right occasionally, making the car ride not as smooth as it could’ve been. It was a really bad idea to get shot during rush hour, Larson thought. Sometimes because the street was so clogged up, it forced him to move into the median and even the other side of the road.

 

“Boss, you still there?” Larson couldn’t hear a response, so he turned to see that Chuck’s hand had loosened up a little and blood started coating the door of the car again. The fact that he could still hear his passenger breathing meant he was still alive and was probably just starting to pass out from the blood loss.

 

“Damnit Boss, stay with me!”

 

He reached over and used his hand to put pressure on the wound as best he could while he drove with the other hand. It made it slightly more difficult to drive, but he managed to speed through red light after red light without getting T-boned by an oncoming vehicle.

 

“You aren’t going to die in this car. We’re almost there, just hold on a little longer. And when you are done with all of this you can leave the force and enjoy your retirement. I don’t care. Just don’t die on me!”

 

Minutes later he was at the hospital. He drove to the emergency entrance, stopped the car right near the door and starting honking his horn so that people would hear him outside and would know to come outside and help. It wasn’t long before three EMTs were at the door with a stretcher ready to load him on it and get him some help.

 

“I can’t feel a pulse!” one of the medics said.

 

“Is there anything you can do?” Larson asked.

 

“I’m sorry. We were too late.”

 

It took a while for those words to actually register, and as they did he just walked back to the car silently.

 

When he got back in the driver’s seat, wondering what he was going to do next, he heard a noise coming from the passenger seat. It was the radio that Chuck had brought with him.

 

“Ok, we’re at the Cruz’s house. We’re going to need the crime scene guys. There’s a lot of bodies and a lot of blood. Can anyone tell us what happened?” said the voice on the radio.

 

Larson picked it up and said “There were a lot of shots fired. One of them hit the Captain and he started bleeding so we had to move. I tried to rush him to the hospital but he didn’t make it. Chuck Cooper is dead.”


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