Angelites - Body of Persons Empowered

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Chapter 37

Natalie felt like a lab rat in a maze driving through the winding roads of the Norwood section of the Bronx. Ninety-minutes had passed since finding Don Crass, most of it spent looking for a mundane Jamaican bar on Webster Avenue called Buster & Brown’s. Jill said no cop would dare go there without at least ten men, fully armed. Grungy conditions out front. Dim lighting inside. Mellow mood. Smothering Caribbean memorabilia. Pumping reggae music. Very few customers at this time. The perfect place to sit down and talk.

Natalie and Don took the last booth toward the back of the bar. Two cold bottles of Red Stripe sweated on the table. Don looked like a pervert caught in the girls’ bathroom: flushed cheeks, bewildering eyes and trembling. Part of him wished he stayed at the precinct and got arrested with his crew. At least he wouldn’t be alone.

“Have I made a terrible mistake?” Natalie thought, reading Don’s clueless demeanor. She had to cut him loose before his problems became hers, which was the last thing she wanted. Then again, he’s been running for days now. Maybe he’s just scared. “I wouldn’t trust me either if I was him.”

Feeling uncomfortable being stared at without uttering a word, Don cleared his throat and asked, “Since you’re not arresting me, then you must be here to kill me, right? So, what are you waiting for?”

“I’m not going to kill you,” Natalie answered.

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“I suppose you wouldn’t tell me if you were.” “I would. Trust me.”

“Do you work for John Hart?”

“No I don’t work for that piece of crap. An Internal Affairs agent was killed

a few days ago and you’re going to help me find the scumbucket who did it.”

“What makes you think that I can help you? Most Captains I know wouldn’t

have crossed that line and done something so reckless and stupid.”

“Maybe so. But, I bet you have a good idea as to who may have orchestrated the hit. Now. Start talking.”

Don got a good look at Natalie and recognized her for the first time. He tightened his eyes and moved in a bit closer. “You’re that private eye from Brooklyn. Mercedes, right?” Natalie was unmoved. “Christ. I heard your name plenty of times in Captain Randall’s office. He wanted you dead for interrupting his cash fluctuation from the street dealers in your district.”

“What stopped him from trying?”

“Hart wouldn’t honor his request. He didn’t give a damn what Randall wanted - or any of us for that matter. Whenever Hart told us to jump, our job was to ask how high. That’s it. I should’ve transferred out the 14th when I had the chance, but the money was too good to pass up.”

“Yeah, right. Spitting on your oath for a couple of extra bucks. Great choice. Look at you now: spending the rest of your life running and facing inevitable death from the first cop who lays their eyes on you. Banks are probably on high alert, so you can’t even withdraw that supposed good money you spoke about. I hope it was worth it.”

“Who the hell are you to judge? What makes you think that you’re any better than me, huh?”

I am better than you. Your love for the green must’ve started five years ago, swallowing that garbage about a revolution, right? Guys in my precinct gobbled up the same nonsense. Rise against the machine - blah, blah, blah. But, did I follow the crowd? No. I turned in my badge and got the hell out of dodge.

Gathered all the resources I could and then started serving justice my way.”

“What the hell do you want from me, Mercedes?”

“A name. Place. Anything I can use to bring Hart down, concrete evidence that’ll hold up in a court of law. Do that for me and maybe I’ll get you out of town. You tell me nothing, you get nothing.” Don buried his head in his palms, not knowing what to do. “You hit me with a damn wooden beam, and yet you’re still breathing. I even bought you a beer on top of that. I’d say you owe me one.”

Loyalty was now meaningless. The officer inside Don wanted to help obtain justice but fearfully thought of a bullet flying through his brain the moment he opened his mouth. “Hart didn’t kill the agent,” he said timidly, “but I have a strong feeling on who did.”

“I’m listening.”

“You have to know what you’re up against first. News reports say that Hart worked undercover to bring down the Pagnucci family. That’s a lie. Hart was put in that situation by the hierarchy in law enforcement, namely Internal Affairs. They set up every one of Hart’s operations with purposed intentions to bring down every crime family that posed a threat. Why? Because they knew the people would turn toward the mafia as the city’s last line of defense if cops ever got organized. Have you ever wondered why organized crime still exists? The cops run it now.”

“So all cops are crooked?”

“Right now, I’d say it’s about fifty-fifty. But with the steam Hart’s picking up, along with top government agents backing his every play, those numbers will soon be lopsided. It’s only a matter of time before city officials declare Martial Law on these streets. Nothing would move unless they allowed it.”

“Back to the hit on Martha. I get why he ordered the hit: to avoid his cover

being blown. But you eluded to someone else making the kill.”

“John never offs anybody himself. This way they’ll be no shred of evidence to implicate his involvement.” He cleared his throat, becoming timid again. “He has a contract killer in his inner circle, a ninja without the black outfit. I heard the police report say your agent friend was brutally murdered, shot multiple times and crushed by a train.”

“How did you know that?”

Don showed a police radio holstered on the side of his baggy pants. “Since I’m off the grid, I’ve been able to keep this baby on without being traced, which also explains why I’ve eluded the cops thus far. Whenever they got hot on my trail, I moved to the next county.”

“Go on.”

“Once I heard them say motorcycle tracks were found at the crime scene, I already knew who was responsible. Only one killer I know who’s able to appear and disappear at will without leaving a shred of evidence or witnesses. Cat Strutter.”

“Where can I find him?”

“You can’t. By the way, it’s her.” “Whatever! Where can I find her?”

“Doesn’t work that way. She never meet her clients. It’s kind of like ordering a pizza: you make a call, the order gets passed and the job gets delivered. No matter how long you hunt these streets you’re not going to find her. She needs to come to you. That’s the only prayer you have in catching that broad. Like how you work above the law to seek justice, the same rules apply to Strutter.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Cat Strutter is a cop.”

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