Saturday, March 2, 2013

Serial Saturday: "Protective Custody", Part 7

 
Alex was in a decidedly good mood when Ted and Marlo appeared the next morning.
"Congrats on the capture last night, son," Ted said as Alex basked in the glory of actually nabbing the bad guy on a stakeout. Trouble was, it was the only congratulations he'd gotten all day, the one from a couple of ghosts, because those that knew didn't care, and the rest just plain didn't know.
Alex smiled, "Thank you," he responded.
"What?" Chris had been walking by his desk in time to catch the comment.
Alex flushed and ducked his head. "Nothing," he muttered.

He noticed as he filled out his paperwork (more, lately, but Alex didn't find it as much of a drag as he expected) that the Brendons stood with awkward expressions, watching him.
"What is it?" he asked under his breath.
Marlo cleared her throat. "Um...about that guy you caught last night..."
Alex glanced toward the holding area where the miscreant awaited processing. "What about him?" he asked the couple with a puzzled expression.
Ted sighed, "Marlo thinks he might be the accomplice who stole all our stuff."
"Really?" Alex was so shocked that he couldn't help squeaking a bit and turning a couple heads. He dropped his voice, "Are you sure?"
Marlo nodded, her eyes wide and sad. "He's wearing my dad's cufflinks in his ear-gages!"
Alex shook his head, "I don't believe this—but we only got him on attempted robbery; there's no way we can pin that one on him."
"There's gotta be a way!" Marlo persisted. "Couldn't you, like, question him on it or something?"
Alex shook his head, "And when the chief asks me where I got my intel from, what do I tell him? I heard it from a couple ghosts?"
Marlo twisted a lock of hair in agitation, "Maybe an anonymous tip?" she suggested slowly.
Alex scoffed, "Yeah, right, who is going to tip about a robbery where the only witnesses are dead and the murderer is already caught?" he saw that in spite of his derision, Marlo still seemed concerned. "Incidentally," he whispered under his breath, "why are these heirlooms so important to you?"
"Mom gave them to me because she knew that out of all my brothers and sisters, I was the only one who would regard them as treasures and keepsakes, not sources of money when mine ran out! None of my siblings would have thought twice about turning around and selling the things to pay off debts or to increase credit. Now that man probably has them, or he's pawned them off now that we're dead!" Her voice choked like she was crying, but Alex could see no tears.
Inwardly, he could hardly believe his good luck, but he hid it behind a blank face.
"I'm sorry," he told the couple, "It's not my department."

Alex behaved as one trying to make up for a shortcoming. He accepted even the most obscure calls: a squirrel stuck in the chimney, he settled an argument between a woman and her son as to whether or not her son had stolen something from her (chalk it up to paranoia; the woman was not even missing anything, she merely mistrusted her son when he said he had not stolen anything from her), and an elderly woman who did not know who else to call when she could not get the lid off her pickle jar.

Alex did not even head home immediately upon returning to the station before his shift ended.
Ted glanced dubiously at the stack of reports Alex would have to fill out.
"Well, it's getting near quitting time," he observed.
Alex did not appear to hear him. The clock above the door of the bullpen clicked off the last few seconds.
"See you tomorrow, Alex," Marlo joined her husband, and the two ghosts disappeared.
Alex stayed where he was for five extra minutes, just to be sure. Carefully, he laid down his pen and sauntered toward the holding area.

As luck would have it, Tom Jones stood watch over the prisoner.
"Say, Davis," the eager young cadet greeted him, "I hear you were the one who arrested this guy."
Alex forced a smile, "Yes, I did."
Jones grinned from ear to ear, "Oh man, a real arrest! I wish I could have been there!"
"Hey Jones," Alex tried to sound casual, "Would it be okay with you if I talked with the guy for a bit? I just have a few questions."
Jones looked confused, "Questions? I—I guess so. I don't know all the policies of—"
"Thanks buddy," Alex winked and patted Jones on the shoulder.
This simple movement emboldened the young man, and he waved Alex through.
"Certainly, take as long as you like. As long as he doesn't leave his cell, no harm done, right?"
Alex nodded as he proceeded down the hall. Jones started to follow him, but Alex stopped him.
"I kind of wanted to talk with him alone, if I could," Alex hinted.
Jones nodded, "Oh, right; wouldn't want to spook him, right?"
Alex grinned. "That's exactly right."
"Good luck, Davis!" and unsuspecting Tom returned to the front of the hall.

Alex knew his time was limited, in spite of Tom's assurances, so when he saw the familiar lanky figure in jeans and a t-shirt, he got right down to business.
"Nice cufflinks," he remarked.
Chad Andrews looked up, recognized Alex as one of the officers who arrested him, and scowled. "Whatchu talkin' 'bout?" He sneered, "I ain't got no cuffs!"
Alex chuckled, "I'm talking about your studs dude; those are cufflinks, right? Pinched 'em off a job you did oh, I guess it would be about a week ago, now, wouldn't it?"
            Chad registered surprise that he would know about that job, but quickly lapsed into indifference. "I ain't talking to no cop," he stated gruffly.
"Oh but you see," Alex returned, "I'm off-duty right now; you'll already be jailed for attempted breaking and entering, oh, and a few other robberies with your fingerprints; that's what led to last night's party you know. All I want to know is, did you do the job on Seventh Street last Saturday?"
Chad's eyes shifted dubiously. "Seventh?" he hedged, "Yeah, I might'a been thereabouts recently."
"Did you keep all the stuff you stole, or did you fence it?" Alex pressed.
Chad jerked away from him and cried out, "Hang on dude, I ain't ratting on my fences! Those are my professional connections!"
Alex knew he needed to be more careful or he would lose his source entirely. "Look," he hastened to reassure the thief, "I just want to know where to find the stuff; did you pawn it? Did you sell it? Did it leave the country? Is it out-of-state?"
Chad's manner did not change. He moved closer to the bars, squinting at the young officer in front of him. "Why you wanna know?" he asked suspiciously, pointing a dirty finger at him. "I tell you this, you go find the crap, that's evidence against me, evidence that I done robbed another house!" Fear showed in his eyes.
Alex tried to keep it casual and shrugged, "Hey, like I said before, you'll already be doing plenty of time for those other robberies. It would take more than just getting back those heirlooms to extend your sentence longer than it's going to be." Alex paused only a moment before promising, "Just tell me where I can find the stuff, and I won't rat you or your guys."
Chad's face twisted in confusion. "You sure about that, blue?"
Alex nodded, "I'm sure. The other guys in this precinct don't even have to know that we had this conversation. I'm sort of doing this on the side."
"Why you wanna get it all back so bad?" Chad grinned, showing several crowns even at his age, "Impressing a lady-friend? Working with the family on the side or something?"
Alex nearly denied it, but he thought of Marlo; he was trying to impress her, and she used to be part of the family who owned it. "Something like that," he admitted.
Chad hemmed and hawed for a minute, then finally said, "Okay, I'll tell you this much, most of the heavy stuff I pawned off at the stores around Harding Avenue. Start there."
Alex nodded, "What about the rest?"
"Hey! Davis!"
Alex turned around to see Lieutenant Garrison, a grumpy, portly cop, striding toward him while Jones all but cowered in fear.
"You're not supposed to be here, Officer," Garrison sneered. "What do you think you were doing?"
"Helping Detective Haversham," Alex replied instantly. A plan formed in his head. "He said there was an item missing from the list of stolen loot, and sent me to retrieve it." He turned back to Chad, "Hand over the cufflinks," he ordered.
Chad rolled his eyes and pulled the gems out of his ears.
Alex smiled and stepped past the lieutenant. "Have a nice night!"
Alex went straight back to his apartment and straight to bed, but not before setting his alarm for six-thirty. He had a lot to do in the morning, and he wanted it to be out of the way before the ghosts showed up.
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