Carmine pulled the unmarked car into a spot kiddie corner from Courtney’s mom’s house. It was eleven-fifteen the following Tuesday morning after they’d spoken to the little girl. Carmine parked the car, rolled down his window halfway, and killed the engine. He pulled out a pack of cigarettes from the center console and lit one, blowing the cool smoke from his lungs and watching it roll out of the window before the wind wisped it away. The spot they picked allowed them to watch over the house from the most inclusive angle seeing the front, side, and the surrounding streets.
“I’m glad we took your car this time,” said Bekowsky, eyeing the cigarette. Carmine gave a little smirk. “You think he knows we’re looking for him?” Asked Bekowsky.
“Bangers and dealers are always looking over their shoulders, the smart ones anyway,” said Carmine before taking another drag and exhaling. “If he’s our guy, I’m sure he’s got multiple eyes looking over his shoulders.”
There were at least a few hundred feet to cover before one could reach the front porch of the house. Carmine scanned the sidewalks and neighboring houses. They seemed to have pulled down the street at the right time because he didn’t hear any signals giving away their arrival.
The sun hid behind the blanket of gray clouds that lined the Chicago sky. The air was heavily hydrated and was perspiring onto Carmine’s skin. The engine had been off for only a few minutes and Carmine felt his shirt clinging to him. Bekowsky took out a rag and wiped his brow. Despite the lack of sunlight, the sticky air held the heat. Carmine didn’t remember it being that bad when he’d walked into the station earlier in the morning but he was feeling the full deceptive discomfort that Chicago summers had to offer. He’d lived in the metropolitan area his entire life but each summer always seemed hotter than the last.
Carmine feared to start the engine to get some air conditioning. He didn’t want to bring any attention to the car since it was a wonder no one had noticed an unmarked Crown Vic on the street already. Carmine continued to indulge in his nicotine habit while Bekowsky attempted to keep dry. Carmine had accepted the aim as futile.
Bekowsky sat forward in his seat. “Is that him? I think that’s him,” he said, pointing to a young man exiting a silver 2003 Impala.
“Give me the monocular from the glove box,” said Carmine. Bekowsky popped the handle and handed it over.
Carmine looked through the lens, seeing the man’s face clearer. “Man,” Carmine thought, more like a boy. He’d probably never shaved his face yet. As Carmine eyed him through the lens, he noticed Courtney was looking over his shoulders at every car on the street, trying to see if any seemed out of place. Courtney wasn’t startled and continued up the sidewalk from the car towards his mother’s house. “That’s him,” said Carmine. “Let’s move.”
Carmine and Bekowsky exited the old Crown Vic. Carmine was sure to slowly close his door so no sound would make their movements known. Bekowsky opened his and before he could get a grip on the door, the only gust of wind that seemed to exist in the wet heat blew the door shut, the metal on metal exploding with a bang that echoed down the block. Courtney turned and saw the two detectives standing outside their car.
“Shit,” Carmine mumbled.
Courtney shot down the gangway of the house like an Olympian. Carmine started after him, using the remaining agility he had left in his genes to get him around the chainlink fence and down the gangway. Bekowsky was trailing behind Carmine, yelling into his radio. He had to get the info out quickly because their police department didn’t share a frequency with Chicago Police and had to get relayed. “Get us some cars over to Wilcox and Kildare! We got a male black running north-bound through the gangways wearing a cream-colored shirt, black jeans, and red shoes,” yelled Bekowsky in one breath. “Wanted for questioning in a homicide!”
The two continued chasing their suspect, dodging in and out of yards, slipping between a garage, and down an alley where Courtney opened up in a dead sprint. He took a left at the end of an opening for a vacant lot. Carmine saw him glance back to see if the detectives were still on him and Courtney almost lost his footing before he charged toward the fence that lined the yard of the lot. He hopped it easily as if it were only the height of a curb before his shirt snagged on a jagged piece of the fence, yanking him back. Before he could unhook his shirt, Carmine jumped the fence and pulled Courtney down by his head into the grass, tearing Courtney’s shirt from the end halfway up his back. Carmine slapped handcuffs tightly around his wrists.
“What the fuck y’all chasing me for anyway?” Asked Courtney.
“Because you ran,” Carmine said matter-of-factly.
Bekowsky stood over Courtney as Carmine got up from on top of his detainee and rested his hands on his knees, sucking in air to his burning lungs. “One in custody,” Carmine said into his handheld radio. Once his radio clicked ending his transmission, two Chicago squad cars rounded the corner with their lights and sirens blaring. Two of the officers got out and made their way to Carmine and Bekowsky.
“Got any outstanding?” Asked one of the officers.
“Nah,” said Carmine. He pointed to Courtney on the ground, “Just wanted him.”
Bekowsky rolled Courtney onto his side and began searching his waistband, extracting a Glock 26 handgun with an extended magazine. “Aren’t you a felon, Courtney? This won’t look good to the States’ Attorney.” Courtney scoffed and turned his head away. Bekowsky pulled out Courtney’s wallet and pulled out his state ID. “Positive ID,” Bekowsky grinned.
The detectives walked back to the car, wiping their brows every half block or so. Carmine was still catching his breath while Courtney regained his wind before they’d started walking. He looked at the two huffing detectives and laughed. Bekowsky turned to him, “Something funny?”
“Y’all some out of shape mothafuckas,” he chuckled.
Bekowsky nodded. “Still caught your slow ass.”
Courtney smiled, “If it weren’t for getting caught on that fence, I’d have been in the wind.”
“Good thing there was almost no wind today, huh?” Said Carmine without turning his head.
They put Courtney in the back of the unmarked squad. Carmine drove while Bekowsky sat in the back with Courtney for the ride.
After the thirty-minute ride back to the Hill, Carmine placed Courtney in the interview room in the lockup that doubled as a cell. It was an all-white room that had a small black table that was never touched by officers because, unlike the arrestees, they knew it was never cleaned and three metal chairs. There was a small camera in the corner that allowed the lockup keepers to monitor prisoners from the control room. Carmine and Bekowsky left Courtney to sit in the room while they watched on the monitor. When Courtney noticed the camera, he extended his middle finger.
As they were watching the monitor, they heard footsteps enter into the control room from behind them. Rivera, a narcotics officer, walked in his uniform, being an unshaven face, long scraggly hair, a black t-shirt under his ballistic vest covered by a gray flannel jacket, and blue jeans.
“Jay, you look like you belong in a cage like the rest of these guys. Can’t you at least trim the beard and hair to look presentable?” Asked Carmine.
“Hard to buy dope as a clean-cut guy when clean-cut guys get their shit in clubs and not corners,” said Rivera.
“If you stopped me on the street, I’d have a hard time believing you were the police.”
“That’s the point,” said Rivera with a smirk.
“How is it out there? Are there any fewer drugs in this city like the chief claims in city council meetings?”
“Our market is just as good as the dealers’ is. They change up their game and we adapt,” said Rivera, eyeing a stack of paper in his hand. “Hey, you guys got a Courtney Williams in custody?”
Carmine turned, “Yeah, why?”
“I got a low-level corner guy saying he knows something about a hit involving your guy. He’s in D-13 if you wanna have a sit-down. I already read him Miranda on camera so you’re good,” said Rivera.
Carmine and Bekowsky turned to each other, both had their ears perked. “What kind of history does he have? He trustworthy?” Asked Bekowsky.
“Pfft, he’s a shithead looking at his fifth felony for narcotics sales. Grabbed him with five grand in cash and a bunch of smack. He’s fucked and he knows it,” said Rivera. “He’s gonna say what he can to keep out of prison.”
“Who does he roll with?” Asked Carmine.
Rivera thumbed through the sheets in his hand. “Four Corner Hustlers – Kostner.”
“Courtney’s a Kostner King. They work around the same area,” said Bekowsky.
“But they’d be rivals. Courtney doesn’t seem like the type to share. Not too sure what this guy has to offer,” said Carmine, his arms folded across his chest. “Could be just trying to get rid of his competition.”
“Could be. Let’s find out,” said Bekowsky.
Carmine’s cell phone rang. It was Parker.
“Hey, Parker. Whattaya got?”
Parker’s voice crackled through the phone. “I got a partial fingerprint off the debit card. Still running it through the state database, system is running slow. I was able to get the VIN from the engine block against the heat wall that wasn’t scorched away by the fire. The car is registered to your guy, Courtney Williams.”
“Great, thanks.” Carmine hung up and smiled at Bekowsky before filling him in.
Carmine opened up one of the drawers in the printer and removed a blank piece of paper. He wrote the date and the time on it in the upper left corner and the two walked back into lockup. They found Rivera’s dealer in the cell with his head laying over his folded arms, sleeping like he was in his bed at home. The guilty slept and innocents didn’t, a matter of conscience and all. Carmine turned the key and the metal on metal crackled in the door. The cell was similar to Courtney’s, one table with a couple of chairs. Carmine slammed the paper down on the table. The dealer’s head snapped up and he wiped the drool from his face. Carmine sat down in front of him and Bekowsky pulled up a chair in front of the cell door.
Carmine took the pen in his hand, chewed on the end of it, and stared with squinted eyes at the dealer. The dealer sat back, uneasy.
“What’s your name?” asked Carmine.
“You know my fuckin’ name.”
“I don’t, which is why I’m having a hard time figuring out what kind of information a no-name like you has to tell me,” said Carmine, not removing the pen from his mouth. He studied the young man in front of him with short black hair. He was stripped down to a worn black t-shirt, baggy black jeans with silver stitching, and his two white socks with holes in them. “I know you’ve been booked for narcotics and have priors for distribution.”
“See, you know,” said the dealer.
“I know your rap sheet. Now, what’s your name?” Asked Carmine.
The dealer smirked. “Rodney Reyes.”
“I didn’t know the Hustlers were taking Hispanics, Reyes. You guys branch out?” asked Bekowsky.
Rodney let out a sigh and folded his arms. “Y’all know as well as I do that race shit went out with Tupac. The only color we concerned with now is green. Besides, my mama black and my dad was Mexican but nobody could tell since he wasn’t around much.”
“Fair enough,” said Bekowsky.
“On with it, Rodney. What do you have?” asked Carmine.
“No, no, no. I want to make sure I have a deal here. I got priors for this shit. What do I get?” said Reyes, tapping his index finger onto the tabletop.
Carmine glanced at Bekowsky and back at Rodney. “Well, we know what you get if you stay quiet. You go to county until your court date, you get convicted and sentenced with the great case the Tact team put on you, then you sit behind bars while I enjoy mojitos in Florida. Sound about right?”
Rodney’s eyes burned, his bravado quickly deflating to desperation.
Carmine put his chewed pen on the paper in front of him. “Look, we can’t let you go, Rodney, but we can put in a good word about a cooperative witness. The State’s Attorney likes people who assist in putting bad people away. You know as well as I do that plea deals are given to those who earn them.” Carmine studied Rodney. Rodney’s eyes darted around the room as he thought of his play. He didn’t have many pieces left on the board and his King was cornered. He let out a deep sigh.
“I have your word that you’ll talk to the State’s Attorney for me?” asked Rodney.
“You have my word, but you had better give me something good.”
Rodney looked down at his feet before placing his hands palms up on the table. “That guy you lookin’ at, Williams, he and that girl was working together.”
“You’re going to have to do better than that, we’re ahead of you. We know they’ve been dating,” said Bekowsky.
“Yeah, yeah, but they not just dating, they workin’ together,” said Rodney.
Carmine and Bekowsky both scoffed and began to move their chairs away from the table.
Rodney quickly continued. “See-see, Courtney and that girl started out dating but eventually she became homie’s girl and was brought into the gang. She even had some ideas of her own. She wanted to expand the business, take over more territory but do it smart. Eventually, she wanted to do deals with, well, not rival gangs but neutral gangs. Ones far enough that we didn’t have beef but close enough that business wouldn’t be bogged down with travel. Courtney wanted none of that. He was good with the money he was making and wanted to wait. One night, with all his boys around, they got to arguin’ and she called him a pussy. Man can’t have that. Your woman talks to you like that in front of your people, it’s disrespectful. Ain’t no leader of no gang gonna stand for that.”
“How did you come to hear about their working relationship? You’re on the other side of the fence,” said Carmine.
“Like anything, word gets around. I might not be a Kostner King but we all grew up in the same neighborhood. I grew up with boys on that side of the fence,” said Rodney.
“So what are you saying? Are you telling me Courtney had her killed because she embarrassed him?” asked Bekowsky.
“I don’t know for sure but not long after that, I saw that story on the news about Felicia’s body being found under the bridge. Call it a coincidence but those don’t seem to be so common anymore,” said Rodney as he folded his arms across his chest.
Carmine and Bekowsky again exchanged looks. They both stood and headed for the cell door.
“Yo, you gonna help me out or what? I can’t go back, man. I just got a job in Gary,” pleaded Rodney. “Hey!” he yelled after the detectives.
Carmine slammed the door behind him. The two walked out into the hallway just outside the lockup.
“Do you believe him?” asked Bekowsky.
“I believe he didn’t see Courtney kill Felicia but the rest of it, not really. It’d make sense. You know as well as I do, gang leaders nowadays are so full of insecurity masked in brutish masculinity, he could’ve done it just to show everyone else he won’t take disrespect, especially from a woman,” said Carmine. “We need something more to go on to put it all together.”
“I got Courtney’s bank records,” said Bekowsky. “They responded to the subpoena pretty quickly. I’ll be right back.” Bekowsky made his way up the stairs to the investigations office while Carmine paced back and forth in the hallway. Bekowsky returned with the file and the two went to a desk in a side room and began rifling through the contents.
Carmine traced his finger down the bank statements. He stopped on one transaction. “Here, one withdrawal for five grand, three hours before the car and body were found under the bridge. The cocky son-of-a-bitch withdrew money to pay off a hit.”
“Cocky or stupid. Between that and his car being used in the crime, I’d say we have some damn good leverage,” said Bekowsky. “We can get an SA in on the interview and get him to give up the killer and possible murder weapon.”
“Let’s see if we can get him to confess first,” said Carmine as he started heading back towards Courtney’s cell. Carmine moved at a quick pace, his feet carrying him faster than they had in weeks. Bekowsky could barely keep up. Carmine was confident.
Carmine made his way into lockup and turned on the interview camera in Courtney’s cell before they both sat down across from Courtney. Courtney sat back with his leg crossed so his ankle rested on his knee. He was picking at his white sock as his shoes were removed when he was brought in. Conlon had always reminded officers that it was much easier to fight someone who didn’t have shoes for traction.
“You should know already I ain’t sayin’ shit,” said Courtney.
Carmine sat across from Courtney as Bekowsky stayed standing and leaned up against the wall.
“You don’t have to say anything, Williams. We got ya, so you can just listen,” said Bekowsky.
Carmine put the file of bank statements on the table. “You got cocky,” he started. “We know you had Felicia killed.”
Courtney sat forward, looking wide-eyed at Carmine. “Felicia’s dead?”
“No sense in playing that bullshit with us.”
Courtney’s eyes glanced around the table as he sat back. “P-people die everyday I guess,” he stammered.
“All roads lead back to you, Courtney,” said Carmine. “We know you and Felicia were having some problems. Not just relationship problems. She was proving to be more of an expansionist than you were. Even punked you in front of your crew. We know you two became partners in the drug trade-”
“I don’t know nothin’ about no drugs,” interrupted Courtney, still looking down at his feet.
“I don’t really care about drugs. It’s only background information. I care about her murder,” said Carmine. “You two were partners in distribution until she wanted to make more money. She thought she could run your gang better than you. Probably got your guys to back her after she called you a pussy in front of them. I bet that made you angry, hell, it’d make any wannabe gang leader angry.”
“Then, to add insult to insult, she started working deals behind your back using your crew, working with the Vagos.” Carmine knew the Kostner Kings weren’t cozy with the Hispanic gang but he also knew they weren’t going out of their ways to kill each other. “Since you and Felicia had become more business partners and the romantic side was fading, I’d guess that’s when you decided it was time to get rid of her. So, you paid to have her killed,” he said.
“I didn’t pay shit!” yelled Courtney, rising from his chair. Bekowsky put his hands on his shoulders and ripped Courtney back down into his chair.
“You don’t understand, shitbird. We got ya. We got your bank statements. You took out five grand the night Felicia was murdered and she was found in the trunk of your car,” said Carmine, a smirk drawing across his face.
Courtney drew a quick breath, his mouth ran dry. His arms uncrossed and went to the edges of his seat.
“You had her killed because you couldn’t stand that your woman punked you and proved to be more of an entrepreneur than you,” boomed Carmine. “We have a motive, means, and I’m guessing since you had that Glock in your possession, it wasn’t hard for you to supply the piece that was used on her, lacking a serial number of course and probably dumped. At the very least, we have conspiracy to commit murder. Grand Jury, judge, everyone is going to be able to connect the fuckin’ dots here.”
The dead air hung heavy. Courtney’s eyes scanned the floor, unsure of what his next words should be. Carmine and Bekowsky studied him, hoping he would crack under the pressure and finally admit to the hit. Glancing each other’s way, they each smiled through the corners of their mouths before returning to the task at hand.
Courtney inhaled deeply before speaking. “I didn’t pay no one no five G’s. That’s bullshit.”
Carmine shook his head. “Courtney, just give us the name of who killed her. You fucked up. It all leads back to you. The car, the bank statements. Maybe the SA will give you a deal if you give up her murderer.”
Courtney stared intently into Carmine’s eyes. “Like I said, I didn’t pay no one no five G’s. People ‘round there will kill for pampers and a couple a bags. And I sure as shit wouldn’t let a mothafucka torch my car, someone took it.”
“Sure you would,” Bekowsky chimed in. “You just didn’t think we’d be able to trace it back to you after it was toasted. If someone stole it, why didn’t you report it?”
“Because I don’t get police involved in my shit. I handle it myself. I just bought that fuckin’ car cash. And I was at the club last night,” said Courtney.
“What does your partying have to do with this? We don’t think you killed her, just paid someone else to. We knew you’d have some type of alibi,” said Bekowsky.
“What time was the money taken out of my account? ‘Cause I didn’t make no fuckin’ withdrawal. I put money in that account for my moms,” said Courtney.
“Three hours before we found the car,” said Carmine.
Courtney smirked like a cardplayer knowing he had a solid hand.
Carmine shifted in the ancient metal chair under him. “Which club?” Carmine asked.
“Bubbly’s, over near forty-two hundred west Madison. You can check they cameras, too. I was there with my boys Tip and Leek. Got in about nine o’clock,” said Courtney, his head bowed down looking up at the detectives with a conniving grin. Carmine and Bekowsky glanced at each other, unsure if Courtney was full of shit or telling the truth.
“I want my fuckin’ attorney,” said Courtney.
The detectives, angry and unsure of how to proceed, made towards the door.
“And find out who took my five G’s!”
Carmine stormed out of lockup, Bekowsky closing the massive door behind him. “Fuck,” said Carmine.
“I’m gonna call Bubbly’s. If they do have cameras, that’d eliminate him as the murderer but we don’t think he killed her,” said Bekowsky.
“But if he was at the club, he couldn’t have made the withdrawal either,” sighed Carmine. “Fuck.” Carmine stared at the floor as he pondered the next move. After a few breaths, he decided. “Okay, you call Bubbly’s and let me know what they say. I’m going to Conlon to ask if we can get a hold put on Courtney. Something’s missing here and I don’t want to let this slippery fuck out just for him to skip town when we go looking for him.”
Bekowsky nodded and the two broke off, Bekowsky up the stairs and Carmine down the hall.
Carmine knocked on the door to Conlon’s office and walked in without waiting for a reply. The watch commander looked up at Carmine. “What you need?”
“I want to hold on to Williams. We have a few things to check into and I don’t want to let him loose,” Carmine explained.
“What’d he tell you, did he do it?”
“He said he was at some club and couldn’t have done the withdrawal we found on his bank statement. We think the withdrawal paid for the hit but if he didn’t do the withdrawal, well, we have a bit more to figure out.”
Conlon leaned back in his chair and brought his fist to his chin. He began combing his mustache. “I’m not sure we have enough to hold him, legally. If he’s telling the truth and didn’t make the withdrawal, it makes it difficult to keep him for our case.”
“Yes, but what if he gave someone his debit card and had them withdraw the money for the hit, he just gave them the PIN? Then he’s on the street and I gotta chase his ass down again,” said Carmine.
“You’d have to get the cameras from the bank. I’m sure the ATM would have some type of camera for the withdrawal. You’d have identity theft on whoever used his information to get the money from the bank. As far as Courtney goes, I’m not sure we can hold him,” said Conlon.
Carmine thought for a moment. He glanced at Conlon’s side and saw his Glock 17 tucked in his leather holster. “He had a gun on him when we grabbed him but he was in Cook County. We’re not Cook and you know that if we send him there now he’ll get I-Bonded on a felony and be out tomorrow. Can you hold off on his transpo to Maybrook? Tell them I fucked up the complaints and it’s going to be a while. Maybe ‘til tomorrow morning.”
Conlon leaned back in his chair and exhaled, his hands clasped in front of him, twiddling his thumbs. “Yeah, I’ll hold off.” Carmine turned for the door. Conlon called after him, “But you get whatever you need to and get it fast before some civil rights attorney gets wind of this!”
Carmine moved down the hallway and met Bekowsky at the bottom of the staircase. He nodded at Bekowsky.
“Owner says the cameras were down but he saw Courtney there last night with two guys. Says he’s a regular. Gets a table there every other weekend,” said Bekowksy.
“Are you able to see on the statement where the money was withdrawn from? Cameras there might be able to give us the murderer. Courtney could’ve given them the debit card and PIN to withdraw the money. There was exactly five grand in the account when it was withdrawn. He could’ve set it up to give someone the debit card, have them remove the money, and he gets to claim the card was stolen and have his alibi of being at the club while not worrying about whether or not someone got greedy with his account,” said Carmine excitedly.
“Sure, I can take a look. But why go through all that trouble?” asked Bekowsky. “Why not just pay them cash for the hit?”
Carmine shrugged. “Maybe he’s dumb, I don’t know.”
“Seems like a lot of steps for a dumb guy to come up with…”
“Contact the bank. See what you can find. That’s really the only way we’ll be able to test our theory,” said Carmine as he began to head to the stairs leading to the basement.
“Where are you going?” asked Bekowsky.
“I’m gonna talk to Parker.”
In the muggy basement of the police department, stuffed in a corner of the building was the evidence processing room. Anything that wasn’t a car or large piece of evidence was processed in the basement room that had cracked tile floors with black splotches where fallen print dust had tattooed the floor and white walls with photos of crime scenes, evidence collection tips, and the occasional vandalized photo of the mayor with horns and a pitchfork with a ham on the end. Carmine walked in and found Parker in the back of the room at a desk surrounded by boxes from old cases and file cabinets.
“Parker,” said Carmine.
“Hm,” responded Parker, not taking his eyes from the computer screen.
“Did you find anything else for our case? Any word on that partial print?”
“I’m reading through the response from State Police. Seems they found a match but it’s not telling me a name,” said Parker, scrolling down the page.
Carmine waited intently, chewing his fingernails, his eyes on Parker.
“Reyes. Rodney Reyes is the owner of the partial print,” said Parker.
“Rodney Reyes?!” explained Carmine.
“Why, you know him?” asked Parker.
“He’s sitting upstairs in D-13 now. He’s got locked up by Rivera for narcotics,” said Carmine. “Why the fuck would his print be on the card?”
“Not sure, but it’s there.”
“Thanks, Parker,” said Carmine. He walked out of the room and back up the stairs. Parker gave him a wave and continued to scan his computer screen.
Why would Reyes’ print be on Courtney’s debit card? Carmine thought to himself as he sat down in his chair back at his desk in the investigations office. Could Reyes be the hitman? Carmine thought of what Rivera said after he brought him in and recalled Reyes had five grand on him. The exact amount taken out of Courtney’s account. It was a step in the right direction but Courtney and Reyes wouldn’t be caught dead in the same room. Rival gang members hiring one another for hits? That didn’t make sense, no matter how much Courtney wanted Felicia out of the picture.
“Bank manager from Irving Park and Austin sent over the images. I can pull them up on my computer,” said Bekowsky as he entered the room and made his way to his desk.
“That fast? Usually, we have to subpoena the banks.”
“Bank manager loves the police. Says he’s been robbed too many times and corporate takes too damn long to catch anybody. Must say, I agree with him there,” laughed Bekowsky as he opened his email. “Here’s the email,” he clicked.
Carmine stood over his shoulder, watching the screen as the images loaded. He smelled the faint hint of coffee breath through Bekowsky’s cologne. The image popped up on the screen displaying a thin female with long black hair.
“What the fuck?” Bekowsky cocked his head to the side, unsure of what to make of the image. “It’s Adams. She withdrew the money. How the fuck does that make sense?”
“Shit,” Carmine mumbled.
“I don’t get it. Adams took out the money?”
The two detectives stared at one another in silence, both puzzled. Carmine went through the entire case in his head. The burnt car, the money, the gunshot wound, the debit card. He wasn’t sure what to make of it. He was sure they had a dead woman. The puzzle pieces were there and he thought he knew where they fit. But why would Adams be the one withdrawing the money?
Carmine thought back to the interview with Courtney. He didn’t react like someone who’d just been caught in a lie, even for someone who’s made a career of being a criminal. Carmine thought back to the conversation with Reyes. Reyes hadn’t given them much. Barely anything worth spending time on. Carmine stared down at the case report in front of him holding his chin in hand, focusing on the name “Felicia” written on the top left of the report header.
Carmine sprang out of his chair and swiftly walked down the hall.
“Where are you going?” called Bekowsky, lagging behind. He knew his partner was excited so he was sure to make up the ground.
“That shithead doesn’t want a plea deal, he wants to get off on a murder,” said Carmine as he opened the door to lockup.
Carmine opened the door to the interview room where Reyes still sat on the other side of the table. Small fluffy white shreds were all over the table as Reyes had eviscerated the styrofoam cup in his hands. Carmine sat across from him and stared at him, studying the tapping of his thumbs, the way he held his head down as he looked back at the detective, the way he’d been sitting here in lockup this whole time and hadn’t even laid his head down.
“How long have you known Felicia, Rodney?” asked Carmine.
“W-what? I don’t know no Felicia,” he stammered.
“Sure you do. When we were in here talking earlier, you told me about Courtney and his girl and their little lover’s quarrel,” said Carmine. Bekowsky stood behind him, still unsure of what hand Carmine held. He watched as a spectator would watch Greg Maddux at Wrigley Field.
“Yeah, Courtney and his girl. That’s it,” said Reyes.
“Until near the end of your bullshit, you said her name, Felicia. How did you know her name was Felicia?”
“I-I didn’t. I don’t,” said Reyes, falling back into his chair like a child caught with their hand in the cookie jar.
“Yes, you did. I heard you say it. You’re holding out on me here, Rodney. That doesn’t look too good, especially to the detective who is working your case and the State’s Attorney who was told they had a cooperative witness. They’re not going to like this one bit.”
“They said her name on the news!” blurted Reyes.
“No. No they didn’t. See, when that news story broke, we didn’t even know her name. There was no way that would’ve been in the news for you to know,” said Carmine.
Reyes stared up at the two detectives, his eyes pleading. The sweat that had accumulated on his brow streaked down his face. He sat back and crossed his arms.
“Like I said,” started Carmine. “You need to give me everything here because I know you’re involved. You knew Felicia and I’m sure Felicia knew you,” Carmine eyed Reyes whose eyes were glued to the floor. “Rodney, how did Felicia know you?”
Reyes sat still, only his eyes occasionally blinking but glued to the floor. Without taking his eyes off the cracked cement floor, he started, “We grew up together.”
Carmine waited for Reyes to continue.
“She was always smart, she knew the game. She also knew females with no records are helpful to the business, only she was working for the rival business,” Reyes said. He wiped his brow before dropping his head into his hands. “We lost touch for a while but I saw her one day and we started talkin’. I was telling her how I was doing but didn’t have the means to do much more in, uh, expandin’ business,” he hesitated, looking for the right words to describe what everyone in the room knew to be his illicit sales. “She was telling me how she knew what to do for expandin’ but Courtney wasn’t havin’ it. How they’d gotten into an argument. We’d met up a couple times and got the idea that we should run our own enterprise, handle our own supply, demand, and distribution. But we knew we couldn’t do it in the same neighborhoods, we knew everyone here and we knew we’d get hit soon.”
Carmine sat back in his chair and folded his arms, showing his impatient displeasure and waiting for Reyes to get to the point that mattered. Bekowsky leaned against the wall, his hands in his pockets as he stared down at the concrete floor. Noticing Reyes stopped talking, as if waiting to be told to continue, Carmine impatiently waved his hand telling Reyes to get on with it.
“So, we started lookin’ for other areas. Other places to branch out to. She wadn’t dumb, Felicia, she knew how to start. We’d need a spot, some business supplies, and some money. We were planning on moving out west, Rockford maybe, to set up,” said Reyes.
“That doesn’t give me shit to do with my case and you know it, Rodney. I’m not narcotics, I don’t give a shit that you wanted to move to Rockford. Detective Rivera might be interested but I’m not. Unless you tell me why I should be.”
“Like I said, we needed money and supplies. We’d figure out the spot when we got there, at least that was the plan. Plenty of places to stay temporarily. Felicia knew Courtney’s supply guy and guy was willin’ to branch out as well, discreetly you know, seeing as he knew he’d have to look over his showder every day if Courtney found out he was supplying the woman that burned him.”
“I’m not going to be able to help you if you don’t get to the fuckin’ point here, Rodney,” said Carmine.
Rodney hesitated, thinking if he should be going forward.
“I’m going to walk out of this fuckin’ door if you don’t give me what I need to know, Rodney. Like I said, I’m not narcotics, I don’t give a fuck if you rot in county for distribution charges. I can’t talk to any state’s attorney if you don’t-”
“She wanted to rob him, all right?!” Rodney exclaimed.
“Rob who?” asked Bekowsky.
“Courtney. She wanted to rob Courtney,” Reyes sighed. “She got a hold of his debit card. She’d seen him use it before and remembered the PIN. She said if we could take out some money, we’d be able to fund the move to Rockford and set up shop.”
“So that explains her fingerprint on the debit card, but why don’t you tell me more, Rodney?”
“That’s where I got my five G’s. I wasn’t selling, at least not when I got grabbed. The five G’s were from Felicia using Courtney’s card and grabbing cash before we took off. We were gonna take his cash and split.”
“…But? Something happened that prevented you from leaving. What was it?”
Reyes stared at the table and sucked his teeth.
“Rodney, what happened?”
“She pulled a fuckin’ gun on me. We were driving down North Avenue and she told me she had to pee and to pull off in a parking lot. I stopped in a lot and she pulled a gun on me. She told me to give her the money and get out the car. I asked her what was happening but she pressed the gun to my head. I panicked. I punched the gas and we went forward and when she took her eyes off me, I unbuckled her seatbelt and slammed on the brakes. Her head hit the windshield and I grabbed the gun. She was still awake but like, half out, ya know? She started reaching for the door handle to run out but I panicked and pulled the trigger…” Reyes put his head in his handcuffed hands.
Carmine turned to Bekowsky and smiled.
“You killed her,” he said to Reyes.
“She pulled a fuckin’ gun on me, man? What was I supposed to do? She turned on him, she turned on me. I wasn’t gonna let her just kill me in no parking lot.”
“What happened after that, Rodney? What’d you do?”
“I freaked the fuck out, man. I’d never killed nobody before. I-I didn’t know what to do,” said Reyes.
“So what did you do?”
Rodney inhaled deeply. “I-I drove up the street a few blocks. I had been up there before and knew there was an entrance to the viaduct over there and drove down. It took a while ‘cause the viaduct was narrow and I didn’t wanna draw any attention. When I got to a quieter spot, under the bridge, I parked the car and got the gas can from the back. There was a gas station not too far away. I filled it up there and came back, making sure there was no one around. We’d taken some supply with us in garbage bags mixed with clothes and I dumped out the clothes. I wrapped her in the garbage bags and put her in the trunk. I put the clothes on the backseat.”
“Why’d you put her in the garbage bags?” asked Bekowsky?
“I don’t fuckin’ know. I’d never killed nobody before. I didn’t know what to do so I did that. I didn’t read a fuckin’ ‘how-to’ book,” Reyes snapped.
“Then what happened,” prodded Carmine.
“Then I threw the gas all over the car and on her body. I lit it and split. I didn’t want to wait around to find out how soon someone would find it. I went back to the neighborhood ‘cause I didn’t know where else to go. Courtney couldn’t know I’d have his money and no one knew I was working with Felicia. I was going to wait a few days and head west.”
“How’d Rivera catch you?”
“I was driving my mom’s car west and he pulled me over for no plate light. I don’t even know what a fuckin’ plate light is, it’s my mom’s car! I’d smoked in there from time to time so the car smelled like weed and he searched the car and me. Found the cash and some bags I was gonna use to set up shop. Ain’t that some shit.”
“What, plate light? Yeah, that’s some shit all right,” said Carmine, picking up his papers and pushing in his chair.
“Whoa, hey, you gonna talk to the attorney right? She pulled a fuckin’ gun on me man, I had to something. I was defending myself.”
“I’ll see if the state’s attorney goes with that. I’ll be sure to tell them how forthcoming you were, ya know, after we had to threaten you with life in prison and all. But maybe, just maybe, the state’s attorney will charge you with second-degree murder or, if they’re feeling the Christmas spirit in August, they’ll look at manslaughter. Don’t worry, Rodney, I’ll be sure to tell them everything you told me.” Carmine was pulling the cell door shut as he exited with Bekowsky out in the hallway.
“Ay! How long am I gonna be in here before you tell me?” Reyes asked as he stood up behind the table.
“I’ll let you know as soon as I know,” Carmine smiled and shut the door, turning the key and locking the cell. He threw the cell key back in its drawer and he and Bekowsky left lock up.
As they walked back in the direction of the investigations office, Conlon stopped them in the hallway.
“I was watching the interview from the camera. Great police work, Chuck. Great work, Stefan,” said Conlon. “The state’s attorney is going to love being able to send this one to the judge and see that he gets justice. The chief is going to love being able to take credit for the next comp stat meeting, too,” he said rolling his eyes.
“Thanks, Mick,” said Carmine.
“Yeah, thank you, sir,” parroted Bekowsky.
“You two did great. I’ll put you both in for a commendation for this one. Regardless of what happens at trial, whether they plead him down or stick it to him, you two did fine investigative work.”
“Ah well,” started Carmine, “you know where I learned it from, Mick. You made it to dicks before I did and were able to show me the ropes. I just did what you would’ve done.”
“No, you did more than I would’ve done. I was an average detective. That’s why they promoted me, to get me out of investigations,” Conlon chuckled. “You two, great work. Great work.”
Carmine and Bekowsky nodded as Conlon headed giddily back towards his office. Carmine turned to Bekowsky, “So, you want to call the state’s attorney?”
“No, I think you got it, Chuck. You know all the gritty details,” he said, starting up the stairs.
“Oh you know all the details as well as I do, Stefan. Besides, I’m sure the state’s attorney would love to hear your voice. Maybe you’ll get that cute blonde, what’s her name? Alex is it?” joked Carmine.
“Hey, I’ll give her a call any day,” said Bekowsky, sitting down at his desk and picking up the phone and dialing the number.
Carmine reclined back in his chair, looked up at the tiles in the ceiling, and smiled.