Authors: Jerry B. Jenkins
Tags: #FICTION / Christian / General, #FICTION / Religious
Keller recoiled. “How can you even say that?”
“Well, what are you all gussied up for?”
“Downtown is doing a little press conference tribute to Fletch. I have to be there.”
“Don't start with me, Boones. You know I'm not political.”
“This is a pretty good job.”
Keller stood and turned away. “I don't deserve this, from you of all people. You know me.”
“I thought I knew you, Jack. But tell me: why wouldn't you get back to me? You knew I was desperate to know where Haeley was. What was that about?”
Jack sat again. “I got to shoot straight with you, Boones. Pete's no slouch. There could be something there. Now don't look at me like that. I can't be going behind his back, filling you in, knowing full well you're going to hit the roof, check yourself out, go see her, all that.”
“And I will.”
“That's what I'm afraid of. Why don't you just get her a lawyer and send him in there with a message from you. It gets out that you visited her, what's that going to do to the investigation, to her, to MaxÂ .Â .Â .Â ?”
“To your future.”
“I don't want to hear that again, Boones. This has nothing to do with me and my future. And in case you haven't noticed, your career has been in step with mine all along. If I do happen to get the OCD chief's job, that only helps you.”
“Like I care about that right now. You know the department is going to push me to take full disability or a desk job. And that's not happening. I'll take a civilian job before I give in to that.”
“If you must know, I don't see that in your future either. IÂ have something way juicier in mind.”
“Don't do this right now, Jack. You know I'm curious and I want to stay with you whatever happens, but how can I think about myself when Haeley's in County? I can't believe I'm even saying that! And you seem to think it's okay, a woman like that locked up with all those lowlifes.”
“You want to do something for her? Get her a lawyer and get her out of there. Surely she can be bonded out. I wouldn't have my name associated with the bail, though, if I were you. It's going to complicate things. I can just see your mug on some TV gossip show. âShe sets him up and he bails her out!'”
“Don't even kid about that, Jack. Tell me you know as well as I do that she's innocent.”
Jack looked miserable, as if Boone had raised an issue he didn't want to face. “I learned a long time ago not to jump to conclusions. I've been a Pete Wade fan a long time.”
“Spotless career. Smart, savvy, good investigator, good manager, cop's cop.”
“So what's he up to? This looks like a misdirection play to me. Taking the spotlight off where it needs to be. I mean, the department secretary is the culprit? Please.”
Jack looked at his watch. “I've got to get downtown, but listen: Garrett Fox was in line for your job. You know that. Maybe he shouldn't have been, and maybe he would have been a disaster. But he had a motive to get in the way of all this, to get you and embarrass us. He must have had help. That's the only way I can make this make sense.”
“That's a stretch, Jack,” Boone said as Keller rose. “Haeley helping Fox?”
“Do me a favor, Boones. Hard as this is, stay here a couple more days; let me come and get you when it's time to go home. Find Haeley a lawyer and get her out of there, but don't do anything stupid. Stay under the radar. And I'll get you out to see PC before your surgery. Okay?”
“How about if I make it an order?”
Boone shook his head. “Still no promises. You know I don't want to do anything that could hurt you, but I've already lost one family. I'm not about to let anything happen to my next one.”
As soon as Keller was gone, Boone began planning the most inconspicuous time to make his break. He needed a lawyer for Haeley, but he also needed to get out of the hospital. He wasn't doing her any good here.
Money would be no object. Fritz Zappolo was the most impressive criminal defense attorney Boone had ever come across. He'd try to get an appointment with him, then have lunch in his hospital room. Then, before his tray was removed, he'd have the uniformed cops escort him to his car. With luck, no one would even question them.
While his cell did not work within the hospital, Boone was able to access his contacts and find a phone number for Zappolo. But as he was reaching for the landline phone, itÂ rang.
“This is Boone.”
“Mr. Drake. This is Brigita Velna. Remember me?”
“Of course.” How could he forget the CPD counselor he'd had to meet with after losing his family?
“You can't seem to keep yourself out of trouble, can you?”
Boone appreciated the humor in her voice. “No, ma'am. If it's not one thing, it's another.”
“I've drawn the short straw again and have been assigned to meet with you. When's convenient for you?”
He told her of his upcoming surgery. She suggested that as soon as he was mobile after that he should make an appointment with her.
“Will do. But you're not going to try to talk me into full disability, are you?”
“Frankly, Officer, you'd be crazy not to take it. But no, that is not my role. My job is to protect the interests of the department. If I determine that that means reassigning you, that will be my recommendation. I look forward to meeting with you again. Everyone is most proud of you, and I must say, you have gone from a terrible low to a most impressive high. I hope you're well.”
Low to high to low was the truth, but he wasn't about to get into it. He promised to call Ms. Velna after surgery. Before he was able to call Zappolo, however, a nurse breezed in to check on him.
“You ought to be watching the news,” she said. “Just saw it on channel 9. Your shooter turned out to be a member of some funny-named coalition of street gangs. Dee-something.”
“The DiLoKi Brotherhood?”
“That's it!” she said. “Mean anything to you?”
“Means everything. No surprise, but it is telling.”
Boone called Friedrich Zappolo's office just before lunch was to be delivered and insisted on talking with the man himself. The receptionist went into a long riff about how that was not the way things worked, that one of the legal assistants evaluated potential clients and determined whether Mr. Zappolo would become personally involved. “And thenâand only thenâyou might land an appointment with him.”
Boone wanted to ask why it seemed easier to get an audience with God, but rather he said, “He knows me. Please tell him my name.”
“He knows everybody, sir.”
That was hard to argue. Most cops had been cross-examined by Fritz Zappolo at least once. Boone had squared off with him three times.
“Tell him I'm on the front page of the
again this morning and that I need him.”
“I'll take the blame, admit I made a nuisance of myself, whatever you need. And if he still won't speak to me, I'll surrender.”
The next voice was Zappolo's. In typical fashion, he dived in with no preliminaries. “You don't need a lawyer, Drake. You need an agent. You could parlay all this publicity into a comfortable living. Reality show, you name it.”
“Good to talk to you too, Fritz.”
“You're usually looking sideways at me because I'm representing somebody you thought you had dead to rights. And now you need me?”
“I'm calling for a friend.”
“No doubt one who can't afford me.”
“Of course. She's inâ”
“Don't tell me anything over the phone, Boone, please. Can you get to my office within the hour?”
“I'm sure your palatial suites will be easy to find, but I wasn't kidding aboutÂ .Â .Â . you knowÂ .Â .Â . the matter ofâ”
“C'mon, you know I don't need the money anymore. But I can always use the press. Just tell me this is related to why you're all over the news.”
“Get here as soon as you can.”
Boone had to force himself to relax and stay with the plan. He wanted to rush out to his car right then, but he would have his lunch first, then stroll out with the uniforms. Problem wasâlittle shockâlunch was late. And cold. And institutional. For some reason the hospital had deigned to treat its constituents to a turkey dinner, with, as the folded paper menu bragged, “all the fixin's.”
Two thin slices of dry turkey breast had been laid across a scoop of sticky instant mashed potatoes, accompanied by those fixin's: a clump of dressing from a box and a jiggling hockey puck of cranberry surprise next to what appeared to be a sample slice of pumpkin pie.
“Getting out today?” the candy striper delivery girl said, eyeing Boone in street clothes. “Lucky you.”
“What's this?” he said. “Thanksgiving leftovers?”
“Sir, Thanksgiving was more than two months ago.”
“Really? Where've I been?”
Boone gulped a couple of bites of each offering, thinking fuel rather than enjoyment, then gathered his stuff and invited the two officers in. “I'm taking off, but I don't want to get you guys in trouble.” He snapped off his wristband and handed it to Ferguson. “Once you've seen me to my car, check me out at the main desk. Then you're free to get back to headquarters.”
“Oh, sure. And if something happens to you before you get home?”
“Your assignment was to protect me here, right? Well, IÂ won't be here long.”
“Sorry, bro, but if you're leaving our jurisdiction, I gotta call it in. You know that.”
Boone pressed his lips together and shook his head. He'd been in uniform. He couldn't argue. “Do what you've got to do, Fergie, but walk me out.”
As the three started down the hall, Ferguson began radioing in that their charge was about to leave.
“Could you do that by phone? I don't need everybody in the place knowing my business.”
The cop switched to his cell but didn't talk much softer.
When they reached the first floor and were heading toward the exit, Ferguson handed his phone to Boone. “For you. Commander Lang.”
“Drake, what're you pulling? I know you're a celebrity now, but when you're under the protection of the 11th precinct, you got to watch out for us too.”
“I'll take full responsibility.”
“You sure as fire will. Can my guys take you somewhere, follow you somewhere, make sure you don't go from their custody into some kind of a trap?”
“I'm in no danger, Commander.”
“Yeah, nobody's tried to kill you lately. You don't have an enemy in the world, let alone the city, let alone every gangbanger who hasn't been arrested yet. Now where you going? Home? At least let them see you in and check the place.”
“I've got an appointment not four miles from here. I'm going to park in a garage. They can tail me and make sure I get into the elevator if they want, but as far as I know, IÂ haven't been assigned twenty-four-hour security.”
Lang sighed. “All right. But I'm going to be in touch with downtown about this, and if they don't want us to release you, don't be trying to shake us.”
That was all Boone needed. It wouldn't be long before everyoneâincluding Jack Keller and, worse, Pete Wadeâwould be aware of his every move. He could only hope they wouldn't restrict him.
Outside, Boone fought to keep his coat covering his exposed left hand. Unable to zip it over the sling, he felt the attack of frigid air and wanted to hurry to his car. But speed meant agony.
Ferguson helped Boone into his car while the other officer went to get the squad. Boone had not fully settled when the man began to shut his door, and Boone had to lean far to the right to keep from getting a slam to his fragile left side. As it was, the door nudged his elbow, sending a current of torture up his arm and causing him to cry out.
“Sorry, man!” Ferguson said. “Forgot.”
Boone gingerly reached across his body for the seat belt, which caused the officer to open the door again and help.
“I really need to do this myself, because there's not always going to be someone with me.”
“Suit yourself.” And he shut the door on Boone again.
With his coat bunching, his shoulder throbbing, and his vision blurring, Boone had to wrench around in the seat to snag the belt with his finger and slowly maneuver it into place. By the time he got it clicked, the squad had pulled up.
“Lang tells us we're with you all day, sir,” Ferguson said. “Sorry. And someone will be patrolling your street day and night too.”
The cops followed at a discreet distance as Boone drove slowly, hoping the heater would eventually catch up with the icy gusts that rocked his car. The Loop was heavy, slow stop-and-go, as the traffic reporters liked to say. When he finally pulled into a parking garage and up to the automatic ticket dispenser, Boone realized he would not be able to reach it. He unfastened his belt, turned until he could reach the door handle with his right hand, pushed the door open with his foot, and slid out to where he was able to grab the ticket. By the time he parked he was ready for a nap. Or at least a Percocet or OxyContin.
But that would have to wait. He couldn't be floating while meeting with the attorney.
The cops rode the elevator with him to the sixteenth floor, which was entirely occupied by Zappolo and Associates, Attorneys-at-Law. He told the officers they could wait in the hall.
Boone recognized the receptionist's name. “Didn't I tell you I'd keep you out of trouble?” he said as she carefully took his coat.
“You didn't tell me you were a celebrity. Congratulations, by the way.”
Was that how it was going to be? Strangers thanking him for his part in breaking up the gangs and taking a bullet for the star witness? That would get old quick.
Boone had been in lawyers' offices before and knew the routine. Normally he would be asked to wait until someone's assistant fetched him and schlepped him to a conference room, where he would wait for counsel.
Admittedly, he had not been in a suite of law offices quite like this. Nothing had been left to chance, not a corner cut. Everything looked of old movies and TV shows, lots of dark wood and leather.
And to Boone's surprise, no lackey delivered him to a conference room. Zappolo himself breezed out and motioned to Boone to follow. “Better we talk in my office,” Fritz said.
Friedrich Zappolo looked like he had been put together with a kit. Tall, trim, late fifties, tanned, and with short, bristly white hair, he was clearly a fitness buff and a connoisseur of fine suits.
Boone took in the cavernous office with an expansive view of the Loop and Lake Michigan. “Nice.”
Zappolo grabbed a leather-bound legal pad from his desk and pointed to a round side table. Boone had never had a powerful lawyer come out from behind the desk and sit with him. He had to wonder if Fritz would have done that if Boone weren't in the news.
Regardless, Haeley needed the best.
Boone cleared his throat as he sat. “You take this case and your client is a civil service clerical worker, currently unemployed. That makes me the payer.”
Zappolo snorted. “You couldn't afford me if you were the superintendent of police. Find me five grand for incidentals and consider the rest pro bono.”
“That's if the case is worthy and interests me.” He pulled a Montblanc from his pocket. “Shoot.”
Over the next half hour Boone spilled the story.
Zappolo wrote quickly in neat, compact lines. Finally he sat back and stretched his legs, crossing his feet at the ankles. With his hands behind his head, he seemed to study the ceiling. “I know all these people,” he said. “Except Ms. Lamonica, of course, and I may have even met her. I've been in and out of those offices a lot.”
“You know Fox?”
Zappolo chuckled. “Everybody knows Garrett. I half expect him to try to hire me. Thankfully this precludes that.”
“You mean you'll take Haeley's case?”
“Of course. That she's in County is an outrage. Let's get her out of there.”
As Zappolo was pulling on his coat, he pressed a button on his desk. “I need the car, and bring Detective Drake his coat.”
“We're going now?” Boone said.
“It's less than ten miles, Drake, and she shouldn't be there a minute longer than necessary, should she?”
By the time Boone and the lawyer reached the street, a sleek Town Car was waiting, the driver standing by the back door.
“Are they necessary?” Zappolo said, nodding at the uniformed cops who had followed them out.
“'Fraid so,” Boone said. “And we need to give them a minute to get their squad.”
“Tell them to hurry. And they don't have to come inside the jail, do they? Can they wait outside?”
“I'll make it happen.”
But when they were on their way, Boone's cell phone rang. Jack Keller.
“Where you goin', Boones?”