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In the Cabinet: 12 of 13



I stopped off at a late night vet I know of and had the cat looked at. I was worried about him, but besides a bit of strain he'd be fine in a few days. The owner had taken care of him though, and had even gone so far as to put one of those little tracker chips in his back. It turned out the cat was only from a few houses down the road from where Hain's house was.

It was late when I went to the old farm house, but I decided to knock on the door anyway. The door opened a crack and a man about a dozen years older than me looked out at me. He didn't look suspicious so much as cautious, but who could blame a man for that.

"Have you recently lost your cat?" I asked.

"Yeah." He said.

"Here he is." I said holding the one eyed black cat up for inspection.

"Jack?" The man asked rubbing the cat's head and looking at the scarred face where the left eye was missing.

"Yeah, that's my name." I said wonderingly.

"It's his name too." The man said. "You can set him down, he's an indoor and outdoor cat. Where has he been?"

"I'm not sure." I said setting him down and watching as he walked into the house like he owned the place. "I saw him on the side of the road with his head tangled in some cord, nearly choked himself. I cut him loose and took him to a vet to have him looked at."

"Come in." The man said and we walked through the living room and into the kitchen where a girl of about ten was already giving the cat a saucer of milk. "How much did the vet cost?"

"Oh, don't worry about that." I waved my hand and concocted a lie quickly. "I got it for free. The vet's tech is a friend of mine."

"You say he was nearly choked?"

"The rope was pretty tight around his neck." I said. "Some one just left a tangle of rope at the side of the road or something and he must have gotten caught in it."

"You chasing things you shouldn't again?" He asked reaching down and tugging one of the cat's ears. Jack looked up with his one yellow green eye and winked. It might have been thought that he was just blinking, but it looked so much like a wink I couldn't shake the thought. "That's how you lost your eye my friend."

"Is it?" I asked.

"There was a badger bothering the live stock about three years ago and Jack decided to prove that those were his sheep and the only person to harass them was going to be him."

"Did he prove it?" I asked.

"Oh yeah." He laughed. "The next morning we find Jack dragging this badger about twice his size back to the house and he'd lost one of his eyes."

"Well, it is comforting to know that all things named Jack and be content that they are the baddest of the bad in their field." I said scratching the cat behind the ears. He responded by rubbing up against my leg.

There wasn't much to say after that, so I left them waving to the cat as he ran out of the house and watched me from the porch. It is fairly nice to know that if your name is Jack, you can be content to be the baddest bastard in the area. I decided that I would let him be the baddest thing on four legs and I'd remain the baddest on two. With each of us content with being the baddest in our weight class, it would never have to come down to an exhibition bout to find out who was the baddest of them all. I would win anyway, cats can't use guns.

After that, it was my turn to go to the hospital. It occurred to me that I was going to have to explain why I had taken about seven hours to come to a hospital to get this taken care of. I kept trying to work out something as I got to the hospital and started towards the emergency room, which is all that was open at that hour. When I sat down though, I decided that telling a near version of the truth and that the police were already aware of everything might do.

"How did this happen?" The internist asked me as he looked at my hand, which was already less swollen than it had been earlier.

"A person who is already with the police decided my hand would make a good testing ground for a leather and lead sap." I told him as he examined it.

"The police have already been informed?" He asked.

"The police already have him." I told him. "I just need some x-rays to see if anything is actually broken."

I won't go into the rest of the trip to the hospital, as it's about as dull as you think it might prove to be. It was a lot of sitting around waiting for someone to remember I existed, have them take a couple of pictures, look at the pictures and then give me the good news. The good news was that Knock hadn't actually managed to break anything. Most the bones in my hand were cracked or hairline fractured, but nothing was broken. I was given a splint made up mainly of Velcro and plastic and told to go home to bed. I also got a prescription for something to ease the pain, but I decided that sleep was probably all I needed and went home to bed.

When I got up I arranged my things into easily packed piles and places. This is actually no great feat as my things are usually set up to be packed at a moment's notice. I got my note book out and looked up Mrs. Pendleton's address to tell her to pack everything away for me. This time though, I was going to have her send everything into storage for a while. I kind of thought a while would be forever, but I didn't tell her that. I packed all my clothes that would fit into the matched suitcases my mother bought me a few years ago and put them in the car. I then left my place, wondering if I should call the landlord or just keep paying until the lease ran out. Things being what they were in Michigan, he might as well keep getting paid for the place standing vacant rather than it just sitting empty and not earning.

I got to my office right around noon, which is an odd time to get to the office and find myself alone. In a normal day, Debbie would be typing away at her computer. She would never sit at that desk and type at the computer again. I almost wanted to sit down at her desk and look at the computer, just to see if I could figure out what she'd been doing all those years. I decided not to though, I mean I'd stayed in blissful ignorance all these years, why not extend it for the last few hours I would be in this stupid state.

I walked into my office and found an envelope on the desk with my name written on it in Debbie's handwriting. It was a fairly thick envelope, and when I opened it I found what I had been expecting. Debbie had gone to the bank and gotten about ten thousand in cash from the account and put it on my desk with a note. It was a private note, but it told me simply that it was for me to travel on if I decided I needed to just go hide for a while.

I heard a knock on the door and realized that I had to go get it for myself. I got up and deposited the cash into my trench coat pocket when I passed it. It was a good thing I did because Assistant District Attorney Talbert was the sort of man who would just yank an envelope of money out of a person's hand without making sure he had a proper warrant to first. He marched past me and went into my office without saying a word. Crammer was with him, but no other bulls had come along. Crammer also didn't just march in, but looked at me while we stood on the threshold.

"They found part of a Webley." He whispered as he moved past me. "If I were you I'd do everything up to an including accusing us of planting it."

"It's not on you." I whispered back. "I'll have to get mean though."

The two of us walked back into my inner office, and Crammer had presence of mind enough to close the door behind him like he would have if Debbie had been there. I sat down and looked at them, getting ready to ask what they were doing there. Talbert started though, amazingly free of bombast this time.

"Where is your gun?" He asked me folding his hands.

"In your property room." I informed him. "And sadly, it going to be destroyed. That's an antique you know. You can't get Marleys any more. The company went out of business in forty-nine."

"Not that one." Talbert said, and I thought he must have something up his sleeve. "The Webley."

"I don't own a Webley." I said shaking my head. "The company owns it."

"Where is it Collier?" Talbert asked, starting to look annoyed.

"No idea." I told him.

"Your gun is missing and you didn't report it to the police?" Crammer asked cautiously.

"It's not my gun, and it's not missing." I said.

"It's your detective office, and your gun!" Talbert barked.

"Wrong on both counts and please don't shout." I said raising my finger. "I signed the company over to my former secretary yesterday, she became my boss. I turned the gun over to her as part of her property. You'll have to ask her for the gun, but you'll have to go to Chicago and I suspect you'll need a damn good reason to ask."

"We've got a reason." Talbert started to shout again but I raised my finger at him and he lowered his voice half way through. "As you know, Knock is dead, and we found a piece of a Webley revolver's handle scale at the scene of his murder."

"How do you know it was murder?" I asked.

"Because you put a shovel through his face!" Talbert shouted.

"Then what does part of a gun have to do with it?" I asked. "I mean if I'm being framed for a killing, why a part of a gun you can't even acquire? I mean if you're going to have the Troy Police plant things, why not have it be something more substantial? If you're going to plant evidence to frame me after all."

"How dare you suggest that?" Talbert actually screamed. After realizing what he was doing he returned to shouting. "You are slandering the finest police department in the country, if not the world!"

"What does the Kansas City Police Department have to do with what I just said?" I asked, and I could help but notice that Crammer actually started to laugh. He had to put his hand over his mouth, but his shoulders kept shaking.

"This isn't funny!" Talbert resumed shouting.

"Damn right it's not." I said. "You walking in here with some cock and bull story about a piece of a gun."

"I have it right here." He reached into his pocket and tossed the plastic evidence bag on my desk.

"You can prove it was me?" I asked raising my left hand from above my desk for the first time and extending my finger at him. "Good enough for a court? Good enough to prove the word murder? Homicide isn't murder Talbert."

"What happened to your hand?" Crammer asked. "Why is it in a splint?"

"One might suggest it's in a splint to prove self defense. If you get a search warrant for Saint Joes, you will find that the report shows that my left hand was done over pretty well with a leather covered sap."

"Knock had a leather sap in his pocket." Crammer said. "It had blood on it."

"Probably mine." I told him. "You want to cuff him? I can shove my socks in his mouth and we can discuss this like civilized human beings."

"Sit down Talbert." Crammer said softly.

"Crammer."

"Sit down." Crammer said and pointed at the seat and then looked at me. "Okay, tell me."

"Everything I know?"

"Everything." He said.

"Sam Hain and Knock are your murderers." I said flatly and sighed. "They wound Hewie up on a bunch of drugs to get him to do over Becky Hain, but it was Sam and Knock. When you guys started to get close on Sam, Becky came to be hoping I could find the real killer. Sam and Knock thought she had figured it out and got Hewie to cut her up like he did. They then gave him a suggestion to kill himself through some post hypnotic trance or something. Knock explained all this while he was doing his work on my hand."

"Did he?" Talbert asked.

"Yeah." I nodded. "He said it didn't matter anymore because he was going to kill me anyway. Which he decided to do after realizing that he was going to have to kill everyone connected to the case. He killed that doctor, killed Eddie the Bear and he says he killed Sam."

"With the car bomb?" Talbert asked, and it occurred to me I should try and play poker with him. He was so bad at covering his thoughts I could have made a fortune on him.

"No." I changed my tone to one of condescension. "The car bomb was a dodge, it was Sam's brother or cousin or something. He killed Sam yesterday before he took me out to the woods."

"How the hell did you know that?" Talbert demanded.

"Didn't I just say?" I asked, turning my head to Crammer. "I did say he was a chatty fucker didn't I? So anyway, Knock decided that I should sign a confession which is why he smashed up my left hand. When I explained that it wasn't going to happen, he decided that we would go for a trip to the woods. He had the grave pre-dug for me and I just had to do a little extra work before he killed me. I hit him with the shovel instead, you know the rest."

"Did he say where Sam's body is?" Crammer asked.

"He said he was going to deal with it later, I suppose it was somewhere on hand." I shrugged.

"He was using Hain's house as a base?"

"I was only in the garage." I said shrugging again, because it felt good. "I suppose he could have."

"You're still withholding evidence." Talbert snapped. "You left the scene of a crime and you drew a weapon on police officers. I'm going to have you license revoked!"

"You missed the part where I struck a pissant assistant DA." I said.

"I can't get corroboration on that." He growled and looked at Crammer.

"No." I shook my head, "I mean right now."

I shot up out of my chair with my fist back, but Talbert was in such a hurry to avoid my punishing blow he tripped over the chair and fell on his ass. I looked at him on the floor and waved a dismissive hand at him before sitting back down in my chair. I looked at Crammer who looked at the ADA and then at me.

"Forget it." I said shaking my head. "I'm leaving the state anyway. Revoke the license if it'll make you feel like a man, I won't need it anymore. As for leaving the scene, my hand was smashed up. I had been put through the wringer as it was. For crying out loud if the story we've just discussed is true, and that's not an admission by the way, then I nearly cut a guy's head off with a shovel. Any jury in the world would let me off and probably give me a big slice of your ass for compensation. In fact if we were to face our judgment from an almighty that might or might not exist, I wouldn't be blamed. But I'm not taking you to court, because I don't intend to stay, I'm leaving the state and I'm not coming back. I shall of course be telling the papers it's because of the constant harassment I've suffered."

"You've suffered harassment?" Talbert demanded.

"Yes." I nodded. "Not only have I caught your serial killer, and disposed of him, but I explained how he committed his crimes. My reward is to have my license revoked. Such grateful thanks. That should really encourage private citizens to help you in the future."

"No one's going to take your license." Crammer said standing up. Clearly he was ready to go. "Can you prove what you just said?"

"No." I said rubbing my forehead with my left hand, which caused some pain so I stopped. "I have no evidence whatsoever. However, now that you know where to look and the killers are all dead anyway, it should be fairly easy to piece it together."

"Yeah." He nodded, "Probably. C'mon Talbert."

"Crammer." He muttered.

"Now you fucking idiot." Crammer barked.

They left together, Talbert the one in tow now. I watched them go and decided that this case was well and truly wrapped up. Oddly, I thought that I probably would find that I had a license still intact if I needed it. I couldn't think of a reason why I might, but you never knew.

There only now remained one unpleasant task, and then I could drive down to Langley and hang out with Alice for a while. I looked at the phone and decided it could wait just a little while.

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