Enciso Martinez and Erin Reilly were married in a Catholic mass. After weeks of surreptitious planning, Mamba and Martinez’s fellow officers managed to get over seventy of his family members from Calixico to Manzanita by bus in time for the ceremony.
When the day ended, the guests were unanimous in their decision that it had been the best Irish-Mexican wedding in history. There was also unanimous consensus that Waldo Wiggins looked outstanding in a tux.
* * *
Joanna Louise Mamba was born without complications only two days before her projected due date. At seven pounds and seven ounces in weight and twenty-one inches in length, she was an adorable bundle of joy.
Jimmy got to hold his sister, with plenty of Daddy’s help, the day after she was born. Much later in life, Jimmy described that experience as the formation of a lifetime bond and the moment he’d made the decision to protect his little sister from bullies and bad people.
* * *
After only eight months of physical therapy, although he insisted it must have been eight years, Michael Mulligan was officially released from his doctors’ care.
“I go work now,” he told Kate on the morning of his second day home. At his physical therapist’s recommendation, he’d been reading about James Brady, President Reagan’s Press Secretary. The man sustained damage similar to Mulligan’s during John Hinckley, Jr.’s assassination attempt on the President.
The courage and commitment to a full recovery and the effort Brady exerted to make that happen inspired Mulligan to similar commitments and efforts. The hard work paid off.
“I will drive you to the police station. That is where you used to work,” she said. “But, I will also go into the station with you.”
Mulligan started to protest, but thanks to the lag time between his healing brain’s decision to do something and any action related to the doing of it, Kate was able to divert his protest.
“Don’t even start with me, Michael Mulligan. I know what your doctor told you that you could and could not do. Going by work is okay. Going to work is not okay! I will go in with you. When I decide you are too tired to stay any longer, you will go home with me. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Wife.” Mulligan paused for several seconds before he added, “Kate.”
They both smiled at the intentional gaffe. Early in his recovery, he’d been unable to find specific terms to use. As his rehabilitation progressed, the undamaged right side of his brain had been trained to store and recover many of those terms.
Now and again, to reinforce the extent of his progress to himself as much as anything, Mulligan would make a statement that was straight out of his early recovery time. Unintentional gaffes were decreasingly frequent but not gone. Many missing pathways were not yet reconstructed.
Kate pulled into one of the two handicapped parking spaces at the Northeastern Division station. While Mike worked on getting the passenger door open, she reached into the glove compartment, removed the temporary handicapped parking tag, and placed it on the dashboard where it was visible through the windshield. This is dumb. Now that he’s home for good, we’re going to need a handicapped license plate.
She popped the trunk and retrieved Mike’s walker. She was standing by the front passenger door before her husband was ready to exit the car. Once out of the vehicle, she walked beside Mike as far as he could use his walker.
At the base of the stairs that led to the station’s front entrance, Mulligan grabbed the stair’s handrail with his good arm and muscled his body determinedly up the steps.
“Good leg first to heaven,” he recited. The phrase was part of the mantra the physical therapists used to teach patients with malfunctioning legs about how to ascend and descend stairs—step up with their good leg. The counterpart phrase, “Bad leg first to hell,” reminded patients to step down first with their weakest leg.
Kate watched her husband as he labored up three steps. Then, she collapsed the walker and muscled it up the stairs behind him.
“Lieutenant Mulligan!” Desk Sergeant Smith exclaimed as an exhausted Mulligan pushed his walker through the door that Kate held open. It had taken nearly all his strength to pull himself up the steps using the handrail. He vowed to work for easier access to public buildings for the handicapped.
“Pass the word,” Smith bellowed. “Lieutenant Mulligan’s back!”
Mulligan smiled. This was the longest prolonged stint of exercise he’d attempted since his release from rehab. At the moment, in spite of the grin on his face, he was wondering about the wisdom of his decision.
“Have a seat, here.” The Sergeant indicated an empty chair.
“Thanks, policeman,” Mulligan sighed as Kate helped him into the chair. “It long way here up.”
“Twelve steps to climb is too many,” the Sergeant agreed. The whole Division had been briefed on the idiosyncrasies of Mulligan’s speech pattern, so incorrect grammar was not unexpected. “I’ve tried to talk the city into lowering the building a little,” he added as he patted an expanding paunch.
“You got my help,” Mulligan promised.
Most of the officers in the station made a trip to the lobby for a few words with the popular Lieutenant. The departmental position on the recovering Mulligan was that he would be allowed back to work in a consulting capacity only. He would continue to receive full pay, as his disability was considered to be one hundred percent.
He greeted by name those few officers whose names he could recall. Other officers he recognized, but, as with his wife and Phil Mamba, he would have to relearn the names that had been blown away by the bullet. In reality, he had to be reintroduced to most officers and staff in the division.
* * *
Throughout the next year, Mulligan continued to improve. Plastic surgeries completed the rebuilding of the left side of his face and head. While he’d never be considered handsome by most, he was happy with what Kate now called his “rugged countenance.”
Biofeedback techniques were used to assist the man in learning motor control of his right side by the right side of his brain. Hours of intense mental concentration helped him to store the concrete nouns he’d lost when his left-brain tissue was destroyed in the shooting or cleaned away during surgery to minimize infection.
It appeared that he would always limp. It also looked like he would be a southpaw for the rest of his life. Both the doctors and Mulligan himself were pleased with the level of rehabilitation achieved.
Eighteen months after the shooting, Departmental Consultant Michael Mulligan established his regular hours at the station. He would be on site Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from nine o’clock to noon. He was “on call” during the rest of those day shifts.
His desk was in the common area in the squad room, making it easier to maintain contact with the rank and file. To keep his muscles in tone, he found his way to the therapy pool at the hospital’s rehab center for a part of each of his workdays.
By the one-and-one-half-year anniversary of the shooting, even the habitually stoical Dr. Liebowitz admitted his amazement. As he put it, “I expected to sign a death certificate on the man when they brought him into the ER eighteen months ago. Now, here I am signing off his back-to-work release.”
A Loose End
There was one loose end that Mamba couldn’t ignore any more than you can ignore that place in your cheek after you’ve bitten it while chewing. The discrepancy between Mulligan’s official Army file and the copy of at least one page of that document that rested in his police application folder gnawed at him. He knew he’d never report his findings to the Department. But, he had to know.
A phone call to Mulligan’s now retired CO from Vietnam provided him with the name and phone number of the Company Clerk of Mulligan’s unit. On a morning in March of the year after Mulligan returned to restricted duty, Phil made the call.
“This is Philip Mamba,” he began when the phone was answered. “You don’t know me, but I’m a private investigator in Manzanita, California. I know that you may not be able to tell me what I want to know, or you may not want to tell me. Regardless of either of those conditions, I’ve got to ask the question.”
“Mr. Mamba, I hope you’re not always as confused as you sound now,” Master Sergeant Eugene Owens (Retired) chided. Then, in his best Sergeant’s voice he ordered, “Spit it out!”
“Yes, sir!” was Dancer’s automatic response to the words and their delivery.
Mamba relaxed and continued.
“I’m sorry, Sergeant. It’s just that this issue could be sensitive. Actually, I suspect it’s very sensitive.”
“I understand that, Mr. Mamba. But, it’ll be impossible for me to comment on your situation.”
“I do not have any information on that situation yet. Tell me what the issue is.”
“Yes, sir,” Mamba said with a grin. He proceeded to outline the situation as briefly as possible. He included his partnership with Mulligan, Mulligan’s promotion to Lieutenant, and his viewing of Mulligan’s file in the Pentagon. He chose not to describe how he’d managed to see that Army personnel file, and he omitted Mulligan’s attempted murder, which he deemed irrelevant to the situation. When he finished, there was silence on the end of the line.
“I guess I struck out,” he concluded, misinterpreting the silence.
“No, sir,” Owens responded. “I was just reminiscing. I’m the one who changed the document that you found in the police file.”
“Facts be told, sir, Sergeant Mulligan was a company favorite, the entire company, except for one 90-day wonder.”
“Hold on. I was never in the service. I’m not familiar with that term.”
“Ah. Full-time civilian. A 90-day wonder is what those of us in ’Nam called 2nd Lieutenants. It’s a qualification time period reference. Most of the 2nd Lieutenants were straight from ROTC. Those that fit the description were the least likeable of all the butterbars. I could go on, but, well, is that enough explanation, sir?”
“That’s plenty. Thanks.”
“Anyway, that raw kid couldn’t see how valuable Mulligan’s assistance was to him—to all of us. He was one big hard case. None of the men liked him much.”
“I see,” Mamba commented, although he didn’t.
“Well, after this one patrol, the Lieutenant comes back all riled up. Somebody had done what you read about in the official file. I suspect it was probably our favorite Lieutenant himself, but no one’s ever said anything to me officially.”
The line went silent. Mamba thought about saying something, but then he realized he’s back in Vietnam. I hope what I’m asking doesn’t haunt him after today.
“Regardless of who was in truth responsible, whether out of spite, or in a CYA maneuver, the Lieutenant placed the blame on Mulligan.” Sergeant Owens picked up where he’d left off as though he hadn’t paused at all. “We all knew it was a bogus report, but no one could do anything about it at the time. Except me.”
There was another pause. This time, Mamba didn’t try to anticipate its end. After several seconds, Owens resumed his narrative.
“I sat on the report until the Lieutenant caught it. That was about three months later. He pulled a John Wayne maneuver and stood up when he should have been belly crawling. After his death, I re-issued the document in its revised state and gave it to Mulligan. I told him that I couldn’t stop the paper from flowing, but he could divert the flow if he ever needed to. And I guess he never thought he needed to.”
“I guess not.” Sounds like Mike. He knew about the lie and accepted the falsification of his role out of his sense of duty.
“I did send an amended copy of the report to Division HQ. Wasn’t that in the personnel record?”
“Huh? Oh, uh, no. It isn’t there.”
“I could follow up again if you think it’s necessary. Even though I’m not on active duty anymore, I am in the Reserves.”
“No. I think we’d best leave well enough alone right now, Sergeant. The last thing Mike needs is any worry outside of his recovery.”
What a bonehead mistake. Gotta explain now.
“Your Sergeant was shot in the line of duty about a year ago. He almost died. He’s lost some memory and most of the use of his right arm. He’s still working his way back.”
“Sorry to hear that, sir, the shooting part. But glad to hear about his recovery . . . Did our conversation help you?”
“Just re-affirms my opinion of the man. Thanks a lot.”
“Give my best to Sergeant Mulligan, sir. Tell him Ollie hopes he heals completely.”
“We all hope that, Sergeant Owens. We all do.”
Don’t be stupid. This is a chance to reconnect with a fellow Marine who fighting his biggest battle.
“You wouldn’t have his address or phone number, would you, sir?” Owens asked.
“I would. You wouldn’t happen to have a pencil and paper, would you, Sergeant?”
Another chuckle. “On top of it, sir. Fire when ready!”
After giving Mulligan’s contact information to Sergeant Owens, Philip Richmond Mamba hung up the phone. He made a fist and crumpled the paper that held the last two phone numbers he’d dialed. He tossed the wad into the trashcan beside his desk as he headed home.
Sometime in the summer of 1986 or 1987.
The quaint village of Gachupin is nestled in the rugged hillsides of the northeastern finger of the state of Baja California, Mexico. Occupied long before Cortez arrived in the New World, Gachupin is an enduring example of the heritage of the indigenous populations in what is now the country of Mexico.
At least that is what a travel brochure might read if anyone had the desire to travel to such a desolate location. Gachupin is located roughly one hundred kilometers west of the Sonoran border and one hundred thirty kilometers south of Mexicali. The best travel time from the US Border is six hours in a 4-wheeled drive vehicle with extra-high clearance. Less arduous routes often take nine hours to traverse. A four-wheeled drive vehicle is highly recommended on those routes as well.
Or, as one native puts it, “You don’t need four-wheel drive . . . unless you want to get to Gachupin.”
Gachupin sits astride the Cerro Prietro fault line that extends into the Gulf of California. At one time, it was an outpost for discontented Mexican soldiers. Such soldiers were rendered unconscious and transported in windowless wagons to Gachupin. The malcontents who spent time in this purgatory returned to duty with a much more positive outlook on military life and discipline. Either that, or they disappeared without a trace.
The largest building in the village is known as La Casa Grande. Technically part of the military complex, in reality, it was and still is a single-family residence. The house has six thousand square feet under the main roof and four acres of grounds around it.
El Rancho Arcenas, as the entire walled compound is known, includes a well that is deep enough to allow access to water year round. Perched atop the highest point in the village, La Casa Grande and its Rancho is a most impressive sight.
La familia Arcenas is the owner of the rancho. Allegedly purchased by la familia from the Mexican Military after World War I, it is occupied year-round by servants and staff. Family members visit at their whim.
On this day, dust generated by the oversized tires of two Range Rovers could be seen on the road leading into el centro de la ciudad. The dust arrived with the vehicles—a choking cloud of grainy brown settling slowly as the Range Rovers slid to a stop. After drivers and staff of La Casa Grande opened the passenger doors, three men exited each vehicle.
“Buenas tardes, señores. Yo soy, Guillermo Arcenas. I thank you for traveling all this way to meet with me today. I hope your journey was not too unpleasant.”
Suspicious head nods greeted this unknown man and his slickly delivered welcome.
“This meeting will be brief. I know you all would much rather be enjoying the Olympic-sized swimming pool that waits at the far end of the courtyard. Water misters ring the covered patio and lower the scorching temperature to ensure your comfort.”
Four men sat up straighter at this news. The temperature hovered around 105 degrees. Even the thick adobe walls of La Casa Grande could keep the temperature no better than tolerable.
“So, here is a question and a proposal for your consideration.”
The two remaining men now straightened their spines. Six men now sat painfully erect or leaning slightly forward. Anticipation oozed from their psyches.
You are now mine to lose. Listen and begin to drool, amigos! flashed through Arcenas’s mind before he said, “First, the question: How many of you are satisfied with your current financial condition?”
Not a single hand moved. They all suspected that Arcenas must know they were greedy men. Men who might have coined the answer, “Just a little bit more,” to the question, “How much money do you need?” if John D. Rockefeller hadn’t said it first in the early 1900s.
“I thought so. Now, the proposal. I invite you to become charter members, and members of the advisory board, of a new business group. The purpose of this group is the export of chemical products to our rich neighbors to the north.”
Nervous rustling noises greeted this information. If he was aware of the noises, Arcenas ignored them.
“There will be significant hurdles to overcome in the shipping and receiving of what the Americanos call drugs. However, I am confident that my group.” Arcenas paused and feigned embarrassment. Perdóname señores, I should have said our group will become the most powerful cartel in all of el norte de México.”
Heads turned side to side as the six men began closer evaluations of one another. Cartel was a term they all knew and respected. Being included in the creation of a new cartel was what dreams were made of. After a time, what appeared to be the oldest man asked a single question.
“Señor Arcenas. You describe a bold and potentially lucrative undertaking. How do we fit in?”
“Is that a question you all wish answered?”
“Sí,” echoed through the room six times.
“Bien. Muy bien! Let us continue our time together by getting to know one another. I have swimwear in the pool house. There are hostesses present to serve you as well.” Here Arcenas gave an exaggerated wink. “Enjoy a time of fellowship and feasting. After you have satisfied yourselves, then we will discuss our arrangement.”
Cast of Characters in Order of Appearance
First Name Last Name-Description-Chap
Anthony Garmel-Head of drug trafficking syndicate.-1
Jana-Garmel’s personal assistant-1
Gene Marcotti-Head of St Louis branch of drug syndicate-1
Weyland Krebs-Driver for Security Express in St. Louis-1
Charlie-Desk Sergeant for 9th Precinct of St Louis PD-1
“Sergeant” - Sergeant in charge of records for Manzanita PD-2
Petula Jacobs-Chief Rogers’ admin assistant and mistress-2
William/ Guillermo Anderson/Arcenas-Owner of pharmaceutical company-3
Reed-Saxophone-playing addict, snitch, and informant who provides list of names of drug dealers-3
Hope Mamba-Phil’s wife and secretary and mother of Jimmy. Alias: Ms. Stapleton-4
Phil Mamba-Private Investigator in Manzanita, CA-4
Dwight (Buck) Rogers-Manzanita Chief of Police-6
Franklin Stallings-Sergeant of Narcotics Transfer from St. Louis-6
Lizbeth Stallings-Wife of Franklin-6
Cap’n Tug-Owner of Tug’s Tavern. Used by Mamba as meeting place with Reed-6
Mike (Michael) Mulligan-Former Mamba partner. MPD Lieutenant Crimes Against Person – Northeast Division-7
Peggy Wallace-NE Division Secretary for Lieutenants -7
Eddie” Edwards-Senior Records Officer in NE Division-7
Jimmy Mamba-Hope and Phil’s son-7
Enciso (Snake, Cue Ball) Martinez-Detective in Narcotics-8
Flatly Broke AKA Waldo Wiggins-Former boxer. Mamba’s informant and undercover buyer-8
Kate Mulligan-Lt. Mulligan’s wife-9
Weston-Name on Reed’s list. Low-level drug dealer. Takes Flatly to Mary-10
Mary Carstairs-Mid-level drug dealer. Killed by hitman after ratting out her boss-11
Billy Kennedy-Mary’s associate dealer-11
Sidney/Sid Brewster-Another notch higher than Mary in drug syndicate. Uses Sam Brenner as an alias-12
Nina-Dispatcher for Manzanita PD-13
Rick Elkhart-Brewster’s #1 associate-14
Oscar (Big 0) Briggs-Hitman for Sid Brewster-14
Eileen-Anderson’s personal assistant-14
Marvin Dexter-Flatly’s neighbor’s son-16
Lawrence (Larry) Lester-Mamba’s CI - playing both sides of this story-18
Officer Collins-Works with Martinez-19
Hal Armstrong-Scraggly young delivery man for Brewster-19
Janet Cowan-Officer assisting Eddie Edwards distribute copies-20
Luke Hargrove-Senior Officer in Internal Affairs Division-21
April Desantos-IAD officer-21
Erin Reilly-Nurse for Flatly Broke-22
“Captain” Darling-Stalling’s Captain in Lincolnvale Police Department-23
Lewis Conner-Stallings’ high school teacher-23
Louise Conner-Wife of Lewis – excellent cook-23
Doris Hopkins-Lizbeth Stallings’ mother-24
Elyse-Friend of Stallings. Waitress in Tifton, OH-24
Mrs. Simpson-Once Stallings’ neighbor in Tifton-24
Oliver Kraft-Stallings’ superior in St. Louis-25
Woodrow (The Whack) Evans-Hitman hired by Brewster to replace Big 0 Briggs-26
David-Clerk at ice cream store-26
Bob (Smitty) Smith-Desk Sergeant in MPD’s Northeastern Division Station-26
Darrel (The Dispatcher) Evans-Walt Evans’ brother. Also a hitman for hire-27
“Captain” Abbott-Captain of the Northeastern Division of the MPD-28
Brad Finch-Lab technician that owed Martinez a favor-31
Father Henry-Runs a rehab facility-31
Rotunda-Grossly overweight hooker favored by Reed-31
Dr. David Liebowitz-Mulligan’s primary surgeon-33
Jeffery Ellerbe-Assistant Chief and later Chief of MPD-37
Noemi Herrera-Assistant District Attorney for Manzanita, CA-37
“Commander” Internal Affairs-Over the entire Internal Affairs Division-38
Ellis Winston-Manzanita’s District Attorney-39
Eugene Owens-Retired Master Sergeant and Company Clerk for Mulligan’s unit in Vietnam-A Loose End
Books by C. R. Downing
Traveler’s HOT L - The Time Traveler’s Resort
©2014 Koehler Books
The first eight award-winning accounts of
time travel and its results
Traveler’s HOT L Volume Two – 2nd Edition
New Tales from the Time Traveler’s Resort
©2014 Time After Time Publishing
Seven more accounts of time travel and its sometimes unexpected results.
INSECTICIDE - A Science Fiction Thriller
©2014 Clurn Publishing
An epic tale of alien intrigue and invasion
The Observers - A Science Fiction Odyssey
©2014 Koehler Books
Follow two bumbling operatives on four unforgettable missions
The Mixer Murder - A Mamba Mystery Volume 1
©2015 Mamba Mystery Press
A chronicle of four cases by private investigator Phil “Dancer” Mamba. The last case is this book is a “you solve it” story with evidence-including fingerprints-included
egamI esreveR – A Timeless Tale from The Traveler’s HOT L Volume 3
©2015 Time After Time Publishing
Life in an antiparallel universe is more than simply reversed.
Sir Isaac’s Car – 9 Tales of Daring and Disaster
(The Adventures of Henry Langdon - Volume 1)
©2016 CRD Press
Humorous short stories for the young and the young at heart.
Tune Up Your Teaching and Turn On Student Learning
Move from Common to Transformed Teaching
and Learning in Your Classroom
©2015 Morgan James Publishing
Strategies and examples for changing the way learning takes place. For Teachers, Parents, and Administrators
Idea Farming – A Science Guy’s Read on Writing – Volume 1
©2015 CRD Publishing
A discussion of the best ways to grow a bumper crop of short stories, novellas, anthologies, and novels grown in an analogy of writing as farming.
Book Creation – A Science Guy’s Exploration of Publishing Resources – Volume 2
©2015 CRD Publishing
What you’ll find in these pages is how production of a physical—or electronic—book is significantly different from the process of writing the story that fills those pages or megabytes.
NICU – An Insider’s Guide
©2015 CRD Publishing
The story of Hadley Marie Downing’s 60 days in NICU intermixed with commentary from one and two years later. Also included are lessons learned, advice for helping others in this situation, and a glossary of NICU terms.