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Authors: Lynda La Plante

Tags: #General, #Mystery & Detective, #Fiction

Cold Shoulder

BOOK: Cold Shoulder
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Synopsis:

From the author of the Emmy Award-winning TV series
Prime Suspect
.

Former Police Lieutenant Lorraine Page, is a recovering alcoholic. Her drinking has caused her marriage to breakdown and cost her her career. When she reaches her lowest point, earning her living as a hooker, a man tries to kill her with a hammer. Lorraine, now sober, discovers that there have been a series of hammer killings of prostitutes and she tries to catch the killer.

La Plante’s characters are great creations and her plot develops along with the thrills and spills we are used to by this author. Though sometimes downright depressing there is always the hope that Lorraine will succeed and outwit a more powerful adversary.

Film rights sold to Michelle Pfeiffer/Twentieth Century Fox. Film version will star Michelle Pfeiffer as Lorraine Page.

 

 

COLD SHOULDER
LYNDA LA PLANTE

 

The first book in the Lorraine Page series

Copyright © Lynda La Plante, 1994

 

 

 

 

 

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, 12 April 1988

 

I
T WAS dark, the alley lit only by neon flashes from the main street; not a single bulb above the many exit doors leading into it remained intact. The boy was running. He wore a black bomber jacket, a bright yellow Superman stripe zigzagging down its back, shiny black elastic knee-length pants, and sneakers, flapping their tongues and trailing their laces.

‘Police officer — freeze.’

The boy continued to run.

‘Police officer — freeze.’

Half-way along the alley, the boy sidestepped a trash-can like a dancer. The flash of a pink neon light gave an eerie outline to his young body, and the Superman stripe appeared like a streak of lightning.

‘Police officer.
Freeze!’

The boy turned, in his right hand the stiff, flat metal of a 9mm pistol, and Lieutenant Page unloaded six rounds from the long-barrelled .38. Bam-bam-bam-bam-bam-bam. The boy keeled over to his right, in a half spin, his head jerked back, his arms spread, his midriff folded, and he fell face forward. His long dark floppy hair spread over his gun arm, his body shuddering and jerking before he was still.

Lieutenant Page approached him, automatically reloading the .38. The hoarse voice of Sergeant William Rooney barked out to back off, to put the gun in the holster. Pushing past, his wide ass hid the body as he squatted down on his haunches.

‘Get back in the patrol car, Lieutenant.’

Page did as requested, snapping the shoulder holster closed. The car doors were open. A crowd of people, hearing the gunshots, had started to press forwards. Two uniformed officers barred the entrance to the alley.

Sergeant Rooney was sweating as he carefully wrapped the weapon before easing it away from the boy’s bloody fingers. He stared at the young dead face, and then walked slowly to the patrol car. Leaning inside, he displayed the weapon, cushioned in his snot-stained handkerchief. ‘This the weapon, Lieutenant?’

The 9mm pistol was a square, flat silver Sony Walkman. Inside was an old Guns ’N Roses tape. Axl Rose had been blasting out ‘Knock on heaven’s dooowarrr…’

Page turned away. Rooney’s fat face was too close, sniffing like an animal, because he knew, and he could smell it. ‘Get back to base — and fucking sober up.’

 

 

The locker room was empty, stinking of feet and stale sweat; the vodka was stashed under a tote-bag. Just feeling the coldness of the bottle gave Lieutenant Page’s jangling nerves instant relief. Page leaned on the sink, not even attempting to hide the bottle, drinking it like a man in a desert until it was empty. Suddenly the sink was slippery and the floor uneven, moving, shifting, and the long bench against the nearest wall was a good, safe, secure place to hide beneath.

Fifteen minutes later, Sergeant Rooney kicked open the door. ‘Lieutenant? You in here?’ His fat feet plodded down towards the washbasins. ‘Captain wants you in his office. Now!’

 

 

She was hunched against the wall beneath the bench, her skirt drawn up, one shoe on, one off, knee poking through laddered tights. Her head rested on one arm, the fine blonde hair hiding her face. The other arm was spread wide across the floor. Rooney tapped her upturned hand with the toe of his black crêpe-soled shoes. ‘Lieutenant!’

He bent down slowly, and yanked her hair roughly away from her face. She was unconscious, her lips slightly parted, her breathing deep and laboured. A beautiful face, the fine blonde eyelashes like a child’s, the wide flattish cheekbones, and perfect straight nose almost enhanced by her flushed pink cheeks. Out cold, Lieutenant Lorraine Page was still a class act.

Rooney stood up, then with his foot pushed her arm closer to her body. She moaned and curled up tighter. He wandered over to the washbasin, picked up the empty bottle, then returned to Captain Mallory’s office.

‘You find her?’

‘Yep! She’s out cold on the floor, bottle must have been in her locker.’

Rooney stood it on the Captain’s desk and just shrugged his shoulders. ‘She’s a lush, been coming down for a while. I reckoned she was in control, I’ve talked to her… She always had an excuse — you know, marital problems, et cetera, et cetera…’

Captain Mallory stared out of the window, then sighed. ‘Get her out of here, will you? Get her badge, her gun, and tell her to stay out of my sight.’

 

 

Lorraine didn’t even empty her locker: it was done for her, everything stuffed into the regulation tote-bag. The key was taken, her weapon and badge signed out. She was helped from the station, too drunk to comprehend what was happening. Rooney had gripped her by the elbow, pushing her roughly through the corridors. The zipper on her skirt was half undone, her slip showing, and if Rooney hadn’t held her tightly she would have fallen more than twice. He even banged her head, as if she were a prisoner, warning her to dip low to get into the rear of the car. She had laughed, and he had slammed the patrol car door so hard the vehicle rocked.

‘You think it’s funny? I hope you can sleep tonight, Lieutenant. Sleep as deeply as that kid you took out. Now get her the hell out of here…’

As the car drove out of the station yard, the mother of the dead boy, weeping hysterically, was being brought in. All she had been told was her son had been shot while escaping from a drug bust.

 

 

Two weeks later, Lieutenant Lorraine Page was officially out of the precinct. No disciplinary action was taken. She lost her pension, her career, but her forced resignation was quietly glossed over and it never reached the press. Tommy Lee Judd’s family never knew the name of the officer who shot their fourteen-year-old son six times. At the inquest it was stated that the boy had ignored three police warnings to stop. He had been charged with crack dealing two years previously but the statements from his probation officer that he had been clean for the past six months were glossed over. His death was recorded, and the record filed away. No one mentioned that he had had no weapon, and had been mistaken for another suspect — or that the officer who opened fire had subsequently been released from all duties and was no longer attached to the force.

In fact, Lieutenant Page might never have existed, and, as word passed, no one who had worked alongside her spoke to her again. She was given the cold shoulder. She had betrayed their badge, her rank and position: she had been drunk on duty, and a fourteen-year-old boy had died. They closed ranks — not to protect Lorraine, but to protect themselves.

Twelve years’ service, two commendations, and a service record that any officer, male or female, would have been proud of, was over. No one cared to find out what would become of ex-Lieutenant Lorraine Page.

After the shooting, when she had been unceremoniously dumped outside her apartment, she had stumbled inside and collapsed onto her bed. Mike, her husband, knew she was on night duty and had already dressed, fed their two daughters, and driven them to the school. Their babysitter, Rita, collected them and took them home where she checked the details of Lorraine’s duty times. According to the rota, she was due for two days’ leave. Rita would have stayed to make the girls their lunch, but little Julia, only six years old, was calling, ‘Mommy, Mommy,’ as four-year-old Sally began collecting her toys to play with her mother.

‘Is your mommy home?’ Rita asked, surprised.

‘Yes, in bed,’ piped Julia.

Rita tapped on the bedroom door and peeked into the room. Lorraine was lying face down, her head beneath a pillow. ‘Mrs Page? Is it okay if I shoot off now?’

Lorraine eased away the pillow. ‘Yeah, yeah, thanks, Rita.’

Julia climbed up on the bed. She had already delved into her toy box, bringing out puzzles and something that made a pinging sound that cut like a knife through Lorraine’s blistering headache.

‘Mommy, can we go to see the puppets?’

‘Mommy, I want pee-pee.’ Sally pulled at the duvet.


Mommy
, can we go to see the puppets?’ Julia repeated, as Lorraine slowly sat up.

‘Mummy, I want pee-pee
now
.’

Lorraine had to hold onto the edge of the bedside table to stand upright. She took her younger daughter into the bathroom and helped her up onto the toilet. ‘I not got my panties down,’ the little girl howled.

After a good belt of vodka she found in the freezer, she was not so jumpy and strung out. Once she’d settled the girls in front of the TV, Lorraine had another few nips of vodka with three aspirin so she could bathe and clean herself up. By the time Mike returned from his office, the kitchen was in order, their bed remade and Lorraine, with her face made up, looked presentable. Wearing a long cotton wrap, she was checking the fridge for what she could cook for dinner when she heard the front door slam and Mike’s usual, ‘Hi, honey, I’m home.’ He dumped his briefcase and, smiling, came to stand behind her, slipping his arms around her and cupping her breasts in his hands.

‘We got time for a quick one before they come?’

Lorraine eased away from him. ‘Who?’

He returned to the table and picked up his briefcase. ‘Donny and Tina Patterson. I said we’d eat here and then go to the movie. Rita said she could babysit.’

She closed her eyes.

‘You haven’t forgotten, have you? I wrote it down, it’s on the board.’

‘Fine, yeah. Did you get groceries in?’

Mike pursed his lips. ‘You said you’d pick up dinner on the way back from work this morning.’

‘I’m sorry, I forgot, I’ll go get something now.’

‘Don’t bother,’ he snapped, and went into the bedroom. She followed.

‘It’s no bother, for chrissakes, it’ll take me two minutes. I’ll get dressed and—’

He began to loosen his tie. ‘Send out for something. There’s a list by the phone of takeouts, they’ll deliver.’

She rubbed her arm. ‘Anything you don’t make a list of, Mike?’

He glared. ‘Yeah, and you know what that is. I haven’t slept with you for a month — you want me to start putting that down? Like, when it suits you?’

She walked out, not wanting to get into an argument as the two little girls hurtled into the bedroom to fling themselves at Mike. He swung them round, tickled them on the king-sized bed to their delight. Then he showered and changed, bathed each girl, combed their hair and put them into their pyjamas. They were tucked up in bed, each with their own special toy, when he returned to the kitchen. Lorraine was sitting with a mug of black coffee.

‘You want to say goodnight to them?’

‘Sure.’ She got up and bumped into the edge of the table, and gave a little smile. As soon as she was out, he checked the freezer. One look at the bottle was enough.

‘Did you call for some takeouts?’

Lorraine was cuddling Sally. He repeated the question and she sighed. ‘Yeah, yeah, there’s some pizzas coming any minute.’

‘Pizzas?’ he said flatly. Donny Patterson was his superior in the law firm, so Mike had wanted something more special but he went to lay the dining table. He could hear Lorraine reading to the girls, who were giggling loudly — she was good at funny voices. He took out the best cut glasses and the best mats and even gave the cutlery a quick polish. Then he went into the kitchen and began to make a salad. He was neat and methodical as usual, carefully slicing each tomato, washing the lettuce and the celery.

‘You going to get dressed?’ he called out, one eye on the clock.

Lorraine was lying on their bed, eyes closed. He opened the wardrobe and began to choose a shirt, a pair of slacks. He took great pride in his clothes, which were expensive, stylish, proof of his new-found success. He was hoping to be made a partner in the firm, and knew it was on the cards.

‘What you working on?’ she asked, stretching her arms above her head and yawning.

‘It’s the Coleridge case. It looks like he’ll divorce his wife without too much aggravation, and it’s more than likely he’ll get custody of the children.’

‘Really?’ she said, without any interest, as she watched him holding up a shirt against himself.

BOOK: Cold Shoulder
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