THE SEVENTH CROSS

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O'MALLEY

So Claire began to reach out and soon found that detective O’Malley, now retired, still lived in Portland and could be found daily out along the seaboard. He and his Tom Cat 6.2. She had done a little sailing herself so that might just be an “in” if she needed one. She decided that she’d show up in person rather than call ahead. Eyeball to eyeball. Then she’d know!

Claire got up the next morning still unsure if she could go through with it. The thought of seeing her brother for the first time in, oh my God, thirty years! How was that possible? She was eleven at the time, he was fifteen. They were babies, and now she was planning on meeting her forty five year old brother!

But first, O’Malley. So she dressed for the occasion. If she read him correctly he might well pull something on her and invite her out for a cruise just to test her a little. By God, if he did, she’d be ready! She’d learned a thing or two about dealing with these curmudgeons. Maybe he wasn’t one but she’d be ready just in case. Right down to the deck shoes. Bring it on, O’Malley!

As if he didn’t know who she was! He knew someone would show up eventually, but it should have been thirty years ago, for God’s sake! He’d tried to bring attention to the case back then but he was shut down by his captain and told to never speak of it again. Or else. Well, he needed his job and he’d toe the line, but if anyone starting sniffing around and he got wind of it, he’d be the first one in line to take a stroll down memory lane!

He’d gotten to know Mikey, and often went up to visit him at the prison. Yeah, he’d committed the crime, no doubt about it, but the most he should have got was manslaughter. Everyone knew what a bastard their dad was, and he got what he deserved. Everyone knew it! But, the pressure was on to close the case quickly. The force didn’t need the attention and the sooner it was swept under the rug, the better. Besides, he did the crime so he needed to do the time! Fine. But life without parole? Come on. What a bunch of gutless bureaucrats. O’Malley nearly quit after that debacle, but crap, he needed the job. What else was there to say?

So he stayed on, rose through the ranks, and eventually retired early. One can only stand so much odour, and he knew if he hadn’t left when he did, he’d either succumb to it entirely or he’d open a hornet’s nest they’d never be able to contain. God, he wanted to. But it gets lonely when you’re all alone. Except when he was out sailing. That was different. And it was time to go right now.

He spotted her before she saw him. Striking indeed, and he had to chuckle, she had dressed as if she were going sailing! He liked her already but he’d make her work for it a bit! Maybe she had profiled him but he’d had his eye on her for years! There were a few such cases of justice denied, and he was hellbent on being part of the eventually solution of every one of them, even if it meant he had to drop a clue or two here and there. And that’s exactly what happened here! It helps to have contacts, and he had no lack of them.

“Hey, are you O’Malley?”

“Who’s asking?” Like he didn’t know.

“My names Claire. I’m an Investigative Journalist with the Post. I’d like to ask you a few questions.”

“And why would I talk to you?”

“Why wouldn’t you? I heard that you’re a pretty straight shooter. And besides, you’re retired now so there’s nothing they can do to you.”

“Who’s “they,” friend?” O’Malley like her style.

Claire was moving way too fast. Damn, I know better than that! I need this guy on my side.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that. I’m looking into a case that you worked on thirty years ago and I was hoping you could help me out.”

“And why would I do that?”

“Because the case stinks, and it stunk even worse back then. And I’ve been told that you were one of the best in the business back then. I was told that this case was a thorn in your side, and still is, according to my source. I’m talking about the Michael Godfrey case. You know which one, I’m sure.”

And he did indeed. And crap, he liked this woman. Aggressive or what! Definitely his style but he wasn’t going to let her off that easy.

“You a sailor?”

“I’ve done some sailing. Is that your rig?”

Like she didn’t already know that.

“Yep. I’m about to go for a cruise. There’s enough room for the both of us. Let’s go.”

“OK, but I need your help.”

“Come on. We’ll talk later.”

And that’s what they did. He put the Tom Cat through its paces. She hung in there like the trouper he knew she was. This was going to be fun! And oh yes, they’d be talking real soon!

It became obvious that they had both checked the other out thoroughly before this meeting ever took place. And it was equally obvious that they respected each other. There would be no more games between these two!

O’Malley was adamant that Claire know all the facts, not just the file version, before she went to see her brother. Her father was well known to the police and in fact, had a sheet a mile long. But that fact was not admitted into evidence. That was just for starters.

Michael Godfrey. 15 years old. Murdered father with two shots from a double barrel shotgun. Called 911 and waited for police to arrive. Taken into custody without incident. Pleaded guilty to first degree murder. Avoided the death penalty but received life without parole.

There was a bit more, but essentially, that was it. All wrapped up. A slam dunk.

Except that wasn’t quite the way it went down. Now it was thirty years later and all hell was about to break loose! Why? Because everyone who was part of that crappy deal was still alive and O’Malley could barely contain himself! Oh happy day!

But of course it wasn’t a happy day. This young man had spent the last thirty years locked up like an animal. He needed to pay for his crime. No one would deny that, but had the same investigators who built a case against Mikey been on his defence team, he may well have walked. Neither scenario was acceptable but that mattered not to the powers that be, and Mikey was thrown away.

Until now. And with Claire on the scene, well, O’Malley could hardly contain himself! He knew the files he had secretly filed away in a “safe” place would one day bear fruit, and it was nearly harvest time!

That’s where they began. One file after another slowly shook off its’ cobwebs and came alive under the relentless stare of those who had disturbed their sleep. They spewed forth their secrets so they might finally rest in peace, finally free from their deep, dark secrets. Claire had been privy over the years to many such files but this was different. This was her life revealed; her families portrait brought to life in front of her very eyes. And she didn’t like what she was seeing.

No wonder her mom had not been there for her. And her father? My God! He was vile; he had a record a mile long: child molester, thief, drug dealer, and on and on and on. Yet, somehow, she had thought of him as her hero! Her daddy, who could do anything! Claire involuntarily shivered, and she could not contain the tears that made their way down to the tip of her chin. O’Malley silently watched her, as she devolved into the small child of yesterday, and then he watched as she re-evolved to the powerful person she was today. At that moment he knew he was on the right side of this issue. This woman would not be stopped! And he was going for the ride!

“I want to see my brother.” That’s what he liked about her. Straight to the point. He had spent hours with Claire by this time, telling her about his many meetings with Mikey over the years. How they had become close friends despite him being on the other side. She learned of Mikey’s guardian angel that had appeared the day he was incarcerated, in the form of a huge black guy by the name of Charlie. Charlie was a lifer but had given his life to Jesus some 40 years prior. And he’d walked straight ever since. It didn’t change a thing as far as the authorities were concerned, but it probably saved the lives of hundreds of inmates over the years. In fact, he had eventually became an ordained minister.

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