Chapter 24: A Visit With the Mayor
Detective Lassiter and Buzz McNab waited outside of Mayor Swaggerty’s office. Buzz was sitting patiently in a chair while Lassiter paced anxiously. He was just about to approach the secretary to express to her one more time his sense of urgency, when Swaggerty’s door opened, a man in a formal suit exited, and Swaggerty peeked out and waved for Lassiter and McNab to enter.
Swaggerty circled around and sat at his desk and motioned for the men to take a seat. Lassiter remained standing though, and McNab looked back and forth between Lassiter and the mayor with his hand on the back of a chair, trying to figure out if he should sit or stand. He settled on standing.
“Detective…Lassiter? Correct?” started Swaggerty. Lassiter nodded. “And…”
“McNab, sir,” said Buzz.
“McNab,” repeated Swaggerty. “What can I do for you two?”
“Well Mr. Swaggerty,” began Lassiter, “We are here to express our concerns about the current interim Chief of Police, Harris Trout. We believe…we know that he is involved with a criminal operation.”
Swaggerty was silent for a few moments, his face unreadable. “What kind of operation?”
“Well… we are not exactly sure, sir” said McNab. Lassiter shifted uncomfortably. He wished that McNab wouldn’t speak.
There was another long silence, and then finally Swaggerty responded. “I see,” he said. “You realize those are some very serious accusations.”
“We are aware, sir,” said Lassiter.
“Hmm. And why haven’t you taken up these concerns with Internal Affairs?”
“We have, sir, but they did not take our concerns seriously. And now we need to act with utmost urgency. You see, we believe that Trout, along with two detectives, have kidnapped a former consultant of the SBPD and a teenage girl.”
“What consultant?” asked Swaggerty.
“Shawn Spencer, the…psychic.”
“Ha. That guy.I don’t like that guy.”
“I don’t either, sir.”
What makes you think Trout has him?”
“Spencer was suspicious of Trout and believed he was seeking to harm the girl, who might have witnessed Trout at a crime scene. Both the psychic and the girl disappeared early this morning and neither Trout nor the detectives have been seen since.”
Swaggerty’s brows creased and his head tilted. “That is all you’re going on? Chief Trout hasn’t been seen for a few hours and suddenly he’s responsible for a kidnapping? How can you be sure Spencer and the girl have even been taken by anyone, at all? Maybe they took off on their own.”
McNab spoke up. “Mr. Swaggerty, sir, we’ve found evidence that the girl and Shawn were in an automobile accident and then abducted from the scene by someone in an SUV-like vehicle similar to Trout’s.”
“Really? What evidence? Are there any witnesses?”
“Well…no,” admitted McNab. “There were skid marks and a dented parking meter. Shawn’s cell phone was found at the scene!”
“Is that all...?”
Lassiter spoke up again. “Sir, Trout and two of his detectives have been acting suspiciously for months. They’ve been communicating secretly with someone using the alias, M.O.M. We have reason to believe that at least one of the detectives is not who he says he is. Now, as soon as Spencer gets a little suspicious, he disappears? I don’t believe it is a coincidence. And….I can assure you he didn’t just run off. He had a very important appointment this afternoon with his fiancé, and he wouldn’t miss it unless something was terribly wrong!”
Lassiter was a little surprised that he was standing here defending Spencer. Part of him thought that it would be just like Spencer to disappear at such an important time, but somehow he knew he didn’t. He was just too loyal to Juliet. Lassiter knew that Shawn loved her too much to do that to her.
“I’m sorry, you two, but this all sounds circumstantial to me. No wonder Internal Affairs didn’t take you seriously! Tell me. What are your credentials again? Lassiter, weren’t you just demoted from head detective for questionable practices? And McNab…I gotta be honest…I have no idea who you are. Where do you fit in at the SBPD?”
“A former officer, sir.”
“Mr. Swaggerty, please!” Lassiter begged. “You have to believe us! Trout was the one who demoted me and fired McNab…”
“…and he had a reason. He is up to no good, and knew we would get in his way in our former positions. Now we have to act fast! Who knows what he plans to do with his victims…or may have already done?!” Lassiter gulped.
“I’m sorry, sirs, but I am going to have to ask you to leave.” Swaggerty pressed the button on his intercom. “Mabel, please escort Misters Lassiter and McNab out of my office.”
“But, Mayor Swaggerty!” exclaimed McNab. “You don’t know what you’re doing! This is a mistake!”
The middle-aged secretary entered the office and motioned for Lassiter and McNab to step outside. They hesitated. “Your appointment is over sirs, it’s time to go,” she said sternly. Despite her rosy silk shirt and magenta pantsuit, something about her gave off an air of intimidation that forced both officers to obey. As they were leaving, Lassiter took a look at the nameplate on the secretary’s desk and his eyes widened.
“Mabel. O. Miller,” it said.
Karen Vick’s vehicle pulled up to the trashy looking storage lockers that McNab had followed Trout to on two occasions. McNab indicated that both times, Trout had driven up to locker number 107. Nobody appeared to be at locker 107 at the moment, so Karen, Henry, and Gus got out of their vehicle and approached the locker. Henry listened through the door to make sure that no one was inside and then carefully knocked and listened again. There was no answer.
Gus took a closer look at the padlock on the door and grinned. Once again, his subscription to Safecrackermagazine would prove useful. Gus put his face right up to the padlock and then appeared to sniff it, stroke it, and otherwise look like he was having very inappropriate thoughts about it. Henry and Karen waited uncomfortably until the lock was gently released and the door was opened.
At first, they didn’t see anything but some stacks of Rubbermaid containers. The place looked completely innocent and they all were disappointed. Then Henry noticed some pieces of cut rope and a roll of duct tape. He walked over to where Shawn had been sitting less than an hour earlier and he noticed some fragments of bloody gauze on the floor and remembered his son’s bandaged burns. Karen happened to be looking in the area where Avery had been sitting and picked up a broken bracelet that looked like something a teenage girl would wear. “Do you think this is Avery’s?” asked Karen
“It looks like something she would wear,” said Gus. “So, they were here?”
“I think so…” said Henry, pointing out the gauze.
“Well, where do you suppose they are now?” questioned Gus with worry building in his voice.
“I don’t know…” said Henry, matching Gus’s worried tone.
Karen’s phone rang again. She answered. “Lassiter! We…”
“Chief, Dobson’s just radioed that he spotted Trout’s Xterra on Mariposa and we’re on his trail!”
“That’s great! We’ll be on our way. Just keep us posted to where you are headed.”
“Will do, Chief!”
“Oh, and Lassiter, did you notify Swaggerty?”
“Uh…yeah. About that, we’ve got a big problem. I’m pretty sure Swaggerty is in on all of this too.”
“Oh. Crap!” Karen hung up. “Come on guys! We gotta go!”
Karen, Henry, and Gus sprinted to her vehicle and got inside. Karen placed her police light on top of her car and started the siren.
“Today’s your lucky day, boys. I bet you’ve never seen my pursuit driving skills in action.”
Henry and Gus shared a look of surprise and a bit of fear, and Vick’s vehicle took off at full speed.