Authors: Jerry B. Jenkins
Tags: #FICTION / Christian / General, #FICTION / Religious
“This is so excitin',” Mrs. Archibald said, her perfume overwhelming Boone. She had huge rosy cheeks she apparently felt should not go unadorned, and her rouge was clownish. “I've never been interviewed by so many legal officials. And you're also with the police department?”
“Yes, ma'am,” Boone said, draping his parka over the back of a chair. He was aware Mrs. Archibald was staring at his shoulder-holstered Beretta, normally hidden by a suit coat. He sat and balanced his notepad on his knee, trying to manage it all with one hand.
“My goodness, what happened to you?”
“Wasn't watching where I was going. I'm a klutz.”
She trilled a laugh. “That makes two of us. I fell gettin' out of the shower the other day. Bruised my hip something awful.”
“Sorry to hear that. Now, who else have you talked with, Mrs. Archibald?”
“Well, the first was also a policeman. An African American gentleman. I don't recall his name.”
“That's him! And he had a younger officer with him, also black, in uniform.”
“I don't think he was introduced.”
“A couple of younger people from maybe the State's Attorney's office?”
“Could it have been the US Attorney's office?”
“Yes, sir, it surely could have been, not that I would know the difference. It was a man and a woman, certainly still in their twenties. I think they told me they were legal assistants.”
“Well, I apologize if this is redundant. I know it can be frustrating to have to rehearse the same thing over and over.”
“Oh, I don't mind! Makes me feel special.”
“Let me make this quick, ma'am. I understand you processed both Ms. Lamonica's deposits on the day in question.”
“I did. I've waited on her before. Nice young lady.”
“And what do you remember? Did she make both deposits at the same time?”
“Oh no. She only made the one. Her paycheck.”
“Is that right? And what about the other? Who made that transaction?”
“Her uncle. He's so sweet. She wasn't gone five minutes when he got in my line, even though there were shorter ones. I was puzzled till he told me what was going on. So precious.”
“And what was going on, ma'am?”
“Well, he wanted me because he knew I'd waited on her. I think he'd actually been waiting out of sight.”
“Is that so?” Boone was scribbling, hoping he'd be able to read his own writing.
“He was the cutest little thing. Well, not little, but short, know what I mean?”
“Stocky, I'd say. He was wearing a hat, but he had really dark hair, maybe black.”
“How old would you guess?”
“Oh, I don't know. Thirties? Maybe five years older than you.”
“And he made a deposit to Ms. Lamonica's account?”
“He did. He didn't quite know how to go about it. He said he was her uncle and that he wanted to surprise her. He didn't have her account number or anything, and he wanted to do it in cash.”
Boone looked up. “Cash?”
“He pulled out a little envelope from another bank, like the ones we use when we give people more than ten bills.”
“I couldn't tell you. Sorry. I just noticed it wasn't one of ours. Anyway, he had fifty hundred-dollar bills, and he was kinda shy about it. He kept it right in front of him, you know, like he didn't want anybody else knowing his business. He asked me if there was any way he could just have it deposited into his niece's account. He even said something like, âIÂ know you can't be giving out any of her information, but if I could just get a receipt that proves I did thisÂ .Â .Â .'
“I told him he surely could. I took the money, counted it out for the cameras, filled out a receipt with just the last few digits of her account number on it, then turned my monitor aroundâcovering the confidential information with my hand, of courseâand showed him her name and the deposit. I was careful not to even show him her balance. I mean, IÂ didn't doubt he was her uncle. Who else would give somebody an anonymous gift like that? But I'm not to give out any information on any of our customers without their permission, unless, you know, it's to law-enforcement officials.”
“I really appreciate this. Anything else?”
“Well, yes, there was something. I know he didn't like being touched.”
“Oh, it's just something silly I've got in trouble with before, and I'm working on it. I'm a toucher. Sometimes, like with an elderly person or a child, if they seem lonely or scared or something, when I'm thanking them for their business, sometimes I'll just squeeze their hand. One old man reported me.” Here she whispered. “Frankly, I think he's one of those germophobes, you know? My boss told me to be careful of people's personal space. Like I say, I'm working on it.”
“And you touched Ms. Lamonica's, uh, uncle?”
“I couldn't help myself. He was just so sweet. I wish I could see her face when she checks her balance. You just know she's gonna call, all worried about the mistake. But I put a note in her file so whoever checks it will be able to tell her it was an anonymous gift and totally hers.”
“He didn't like being touched?”
“Well, he jerked his hand away, so I guess.”
Boone turned at the assistant manager's knock, and the man pointed at his watch and mouthed, “Two o'clock.”
“Oh, my,” Mrs. Archibald said. “My break's over.”
Boone rose. “We're done, unless you can think of anything else.” He put his pen and notebook away and maneuvered a card from his wallet. Mrs. Archibald took it and accepted his help extracting her from the chair.
“I hope nobody's in trouble,” she said.
“Well, you're certainly not.”
“I was pretty sure I did everything right. And I don't think Ms. Lamonica's uncle did anything wrong.”
“To my knowledge, none of Ms. Lamonica's relatives have anything to worry about. You know we just look into out-of-the-ordinary transactions.”
“Oh yes. I always thought ten thousand was the cutoff, but that's your business.”
As Mrs. Archibald hurried back to work, Boone told the assistant manager he needed something else.
“Why doesn't that surprise me?” the man said.
“Do I need a warrant? I don't think either of us wants that, do we?”
“Hardly. If it's in my power to get what you need, I'll do my best.”
“I need to see the videos of the day in question.”
“The others already looked at all of those and downloaded shots of Ms. Lamonica making her transactions.”
“I thought it was plural.”
“And did they download pictures of the subsequent deposit?”
“Not to my knowledge.”
“But they were informed of it?”
“My understanding is that Mrs. Archibald told everyone the same story.”
“May I see the recordings?”
The assistant manager returned in a few minutes with a DVD he popped into his computer. He advanced to the time of Haeley's deposit, turning the monitor so Boone could see. “You can advance with the mouse or the arrows.”
The camera angle was from above and behind Mrs. Archibald and showed each customer full-on as they approached and transacted their business. Haeley looked sober and in a hurry, though she seemed to force a smile at Mrs. Archibald's greeting. Her deposit took just a few seconds, and she hurried off, probably to pick up Max.
The camera soon showed the man in question fourth in line, though there was no clear view of his face. He wore a long overcoat and a brimmed hat. Boone was sure it was Garrett Fox. He could hardly wait for the straight-on look.
But when he finally came into view, the DVD went haywire. Blocks of color and streaks of white blocked any clear view. “Is this in the recording or is something wrong with your computer?”
The assistant manager leaned close. He pulled the DVD out and polished it on his shirt. Before reinserting it he clicked on YouTube and found a random video. “No problems here,” he said.
He put the DVD back in and returned to the spot. Same problem. And it lasted until Mrs. Archibald reached for the man's hand and he quickly pulled away. The assistant manager shook his head. “We've talked to her about that.”
“Who had access to this DVD?”
“Well, me, the manager, and the other law-enforcement personnel who've been here.”
“Anyone have it alone?”
“Yes, I think both the police department and the US Attorney's office.”
“How easy is it to mess up one of these?”
“Not hard if you know what you're doing. You click on Record, go to an editing program, and just fiddle with the mouse.”
“Well, we don't expect people to do that.”
“And yet someone did, didn't they? Seems you'd protect these kinds of things.”
“Protect them from law enforcement? Who'd have thought of that?”
The early-afternoon sun was still prominent, but the temperature had dropped. Boone sat in Mrs. Lamonica's car in the parking lot of the bank, shivering and rubbing his palm on his thigh. What a disaster this was turning into. Everything he dug into left him with more questions, but his energy level was so low and his pain so intense that he found it hard to concentrate.
Boone was long overdue for his meds, but he didn't dare drive under the influence. There was just too much to do. He talked himself out of driving all the way to Naperville just to see Pete Wade's house. He knew enough about it, if indeed Pete's wife's maiden name was Johnson and it was where they lived, to tell him more than he wanted to know.
Boone wanted to talk with Haeley, knowing how agitated she had to be about possibly being incarcerated again. But more important, he couldn't have her taking his questions personally. He knew how it all sounded, but she would face much tougher scrutiny in court. These were professionals he was dealing with, and they would be given the benefit of the doubt. If Pete Wade went so far as to say in court what he had said to Boone, who would doubt him? How could Boone even doubt him? A man of that caliber falsely admitting to a personal failure? Boone couldn't imagine Wade stooping that low.
As the car heated up, Boone took a call from Dr. Bob Valdez, the surgeon who was scheduled to work on his shoulder in exactly one week. “Been looking forward to meeting you,” the doctor said.
“And I didn't expect to talk with you until the pre-op, sir,” Boone said, a smile in his voice. “Don't you have people who can make these calls?”
“Ah, I had a minute, and I have some questions. I'm looking at your X-rays and your MRI, and of course I see all the bullet fragments. Can you tell me what kind of metal that is? If I find I have to leave any of it in, I'll need to know that.”
“You're worried it might be lead?”
“I guess that's the advantage of being shot with a Glock.”
“It's an Austrian make. More than half the law-enforcement agencies in the US use them. The Chicago PD is pretty much mostly using Berettas, but a Glock is optional. Anyway, Glock discourages using lead bullets because they have a different kind of rifling. I don't know how much of this you want to know.”
“I think I know what rifling is,” the doctor said. “Isn't that the grooves cut in the barrel that give the bullet its rotation?”
“Exactly. And Glock uses what they call polygonal rifling rather than the usual squared-off grooves. Apparently lead could build up on the rifling and damage the weapon.”
“So unless the guy who shot you was using some ill-advised ammunition, you shouldn't have any lead in you.”
“That's my guess. But let me check with the evidence guys and be sure, if it's important.”
“Believe me, it's important.”
They reconfirmed Boone's pre-op interview appointment a few days hence, and when he hung up, Boone dialed another number.
“Chicago Crime Lab.”
“Detective Boone Drake calling for Dr. Ragnar Waldemarr.”
When Waldemarr came on he said, “It's been a while, Detective. You've been a busy boy.”
“Busier than I bargained for. How long are you in the lab today?”
“I have a meeting at four. What do you need?”
“I want a look at the evidence gathered at the shooting site.”
“Yours, I assume.”
“Right. It was a Glock, right? And the spent shell?”
“And bloodâyours and the shooter's. You want to see that?”
“I've seen enough of that. Just the shooting stuff.”
“Gunshot residue would be good.”
“Come soon as you can then. I have to leave by quarter to.”