Chapter Thirteen: Panthers are Elusive
“What time is it, Remy?” John asked while sitting in Mel’s chair in the surveillance van.
“It’s nine forty six. We told him to contact us every half hour. He’s got fourteen more minutes, John.”
“I know, I know. I’m just nervous about letting him go it alone, that’s all. Mel’s a good kid, but Predjin’s a manipulative man,” John said.
“Mel does his job, John. He won’t falter,” Milner said. “I was the guy to assign him to this detail with me because he knows what he’s doing.”
“I trust you, but still. The kid doesn’t know any real police work yet. Predjin’s no shop lifter.” John was apprehensive.
“I know you’re a good detective, John, and you have that homicide sixth sense, but just wait a few minutes more before you go ballistic. You did the detecting, and Mel wants his day for his accommodation. Let him have his day,” Milner told him.
“I just might have made a delegation mistake by letting him have his day,” John said.
“That’s that New York mentality still in your bones. We’re in Leavenworth. The only wise guys here are in witness protection.”
“Marvin’s from South Africa. We just both ended up in this demographic location at the same time. Your location doesn’t define your deviousness. I dealt with the Mob, and he witnessed Apartheid first hand. We both have dark chapters in our stories.”
Milner knew John was a seasoned vet. He also knew if they didn’t confirm Mel’s location, John wouldn’t be able to rest with his decision.
“We can’t radio him, John. He’s supposed to be covert, and a static-like check in might compromise his not being there. If you’re that worried about the guy that took down Swamp Thing, we can go out to check on him.”
John decided to be that meddling ‘helicopter mom’, and check on Mel.
“You’re gonna laugh at me, Remy, but I want to be more safe than sorry,” John said.
“Hey, John, I suggested it because you wouldn’t stop until Mel checked in again, and then we’d go back over your New York mentality all over again twenty minutes later. We’ll just go and check on him. He’ll be the one laughing at us checking up on him.”
They both got out of the van, and walked to Marvin’s back yard.
As they went, they didn’t see Mel anywhere. There was no one there.
“Radio him, Remy,” John said as he put his hand on Milner’s shoulder.
Milner took out his communicator, and spoke into it frantically.
“Mel, come in, Mel!”
He continued to try to contact Mel, but had no results.
“Mel, come in dammit!”
John put his hand on Milner’s communicator, and lowered it from Milner’s desperate requests for response.
“Give it up, Remy. Mel won’t call back.”
“Mel’s one of the good ones, John! He dropped Korso, and Predjin is in no way Korso’s size!” Remy yelled.
“I patrolled in New York, and learned a long time ago from Vinny the Dwarf when he held off twenty cops for nine hours. I aint the dog in the fight, it’s the fight in the dog. Dammit! I should have known how dangerous he was when I saw Simin! She trains female officers in how to subdue a wacked out crackhead twice their size.
We’re not dealing with a common thug here. We’re dealing with a criminal mastermind. Call to the station for support. We’re about to breech Marvin’s parameter.”
Milner radioed to the precinct for support, and hoped they would respond quickly. Mel was in trouble.
Marvin had to augment his plans. The police were smarter than he thought. Well not the entire department. He figured that by how easy it was to capture that young officer. Detective Chandless must have been the one to figure out his mode of escape. In this chess game, Chandless put him in check, except it wasn’t mate this time. He was a chess master as well.
Marvin was sitting in his living room listening to his classical music when he heard the banging at his front door.
“Leavenworth police! Open up, Predjin!”
It sounded like a frustrated Detective Chandless.
Marvin got up, and went to his door. It was time for the mental joust to begin.
Marvin opened the door to see Chandless, and many other officers at his door. John didn’t wait for permission to enter. He just barged in.
“Where is he, Predjin?!”
“Where is who, Detective Chandless?” Marvin asked calmly.
“Don’t screw with me! You know who! What did you do to Mel?!” John was heated.
“I’m very sorry about your query being a fruitless one. I do not know a Mel.”
John leaned into Marvin’s face, and with gritted teeth he spoke to his team.
“Everybody search this rat hole!”
All of the police came in, and began to tear Marvin’s house apart.
“Whatever do you expect to find, Detective?” Marvin asked.
John ignored him.
“Korso, I know you and Mel didn’t meet eye to eye…”
“Begging your pardon, Sir, but Mel was my guy. He’s never been intimidated by anyone, and I wanted him as a partner. He’d back you up anywhere, and I want him back as much as you do, probably more,” Korso interrupted John.
John looked at Marvin.
“I think you just walked into the major leagues with a Nerf baseball, Predjin. You’ve been fooling this department ever since this started, but now one of us is missing, and we will find him.”
Marvin knew he had to remain impartial to the detective. He didn’t want to be beat with a fool’s mate by giving up anything. Especially a stupid verbal retaliation. He kept his control.
“I do hope you find your fellow officer, Detective, but tearing apart my house would be a waste of time when that man could be in danger as we speak. He could be in actual pain while your team is ransacking my home in which he isn’t here.”
John knew of Marvin’s veiled threat. He also knew Marvin was a manipulator, and when he was close, Marvin would try to redirect him away from his task of rescuing his fellow officer.
John put the warrant in Marvin’s hand.
“Well I guess that we’re wasting our time here because we’re going to make this place a little untidy. I hope we don’t disrupt your classical music, Predjin.”
Marvin took the warrant, and grimaced at John.
“I think Benjamin Zander is appropriate for this chaos, Detective. Waste your time with Mahler’s Symphony Number six being tragic enough for your background music.”
John walked to Milner in the dining room.
“Can you triangulate his communicator signal?”
“It has to be turned on for the triangulation. All I can do is a straight line from the tower,” Milner said.
“He’s here, I feel it. We have to find him,” John said.
“I’d say that if we don’t, he’s gonna die if he’s not dead already,” Milner told John the news that he knew, but didn’t want to acknowledge.
“We’ll find him, Remy. He’s here—we might be twenty feet away from him right now. I know this is juvenile, but call for him. If he’s not unconscious, he might answer.”
As Milner delegated the all call, John walked up to Marvin’s stereo, and turned off Zander.
“This music is interfering with our search so we don’t need your precious background sound track.”
Marvin was irritated at Detective Chandless’ actions of clicking off Zander. He was enjoying his bouquet of power classics, and did not want his nemesis to blatantly deny him of his pleasure.
“I understand that if one of your officers has been compromised under your watch nips at you like a wood tick lodged in your spine, but when you don’t find him here, when will you leave?”
“Then I guess we’re in a paradox, Mister Predjin, because I know he’s here. We won’t leave a man behind to be ravaged by a demon,” John had a fine mix of rage and animosity in his eyes.
The police kept investigating. The search warrant stated that they could go anywhere, so they checked all of his bedrooms, bathrooms, attic, and even up the chimney. Those places were everywhere he wasn’t. They didn’t know of, or had no access to the basement where he was bound in a chair, yelling to no avail, and listening to that infernal dripping plinking off that ancient porcelain tub.
After about three hours, Milner went to John.
“We’ve given this dump a root canal. He’s not here, John.”
“He’s here, Remy. Where else could he go in fifteen minutes of check in other than the place he was checking?! You said the kid was reliable. I don’t think he’d be doing a bender at a strip club just to piss us off.”
“Unless we had a DNA tracker, something that hasn’t been invented yet, we can’t locate Mel. I hate leaving a man behind, you know that, but we have nothing to find him,” Remy explained another truth John wanted to refuse, except that truth was a blatant omen, and unfortunately, Mel’s harbinger of death.
“I know an NSA agent in the science development field, Brad Relics, so that fabled DNA tracker is probably on the drawing board already. It probably still hasn’t been invented yet so we still can’t find Mel. Call’em in, Remy. Predjin beat us again.” John was very irritated to know that Mel was in the vicinity, but couldn’t be touched because they didn’t know where he was.
“Are you sure there’s no access to his ‘filled in’ basement?” John asked.
“We got drug cops here, and they’ve found stashes behind medicine cabinets, and in abandoned mattresses in a closet. They found no access to that basement,” Milner said.
“We just can’t peg his trick, Remy, and we can’t get a warrant fast enough to legally excavate his basement, even though I know he’s down there,” John said.
“We have done all we can do, John. We can’t do anymore. We even know what magazines he subscribes to.”
“Knowing that he’s a fly fishing fan still doesn’t get us Mel. We know all about nothing important. We’re probably standing ten yards above Mel, and we can’t get to him. I really wanna shoot Predjin in his arrogant face.”
“You can’t shoot him, John. You’d be in jail, and he would win. Remember that detective thriller in the nineties when Mills, the cop, shot John Doe, the criminal? You don’t want your credits to roll off of you shooting the alleged criminal,” Milner said.
John kept hearing Anezka’s words, and had to force himself into the L column this time. He’ll be diligent, and end up with a W.
“Shut it down, Remy. Tell them we did our best, but couldn’t find him,” John concluded.
Milner knew this was very difficult for Chandless. He also knew that he never wanted to be beaten in the middle of the country when he got Dons convicted on RICO charges. A mixed raced painter wasn’t as conniving as the Gerafeldis.
“How do you know an NSA agent?”
“I had to tap the Vescinis, and I needed some state of the art surveillance equipment. Brad Relics was my anal contact for acquiring that equipment,” John explained.
“Man, you’ve been through the mud, and I know Predjin is really irritating you. We’re gonna get him. Remember, patience is a virtue, and criminals always screw up.” Milner said.
John nodded, and walked to Marvin with a bitter scowl on his face.
“I guess you beat us again, Predjin. We couldn’t find him.”
“Of course you didn’t find him, Detective, he isn’t here,” Marvin coyly said.
John walked closer to Marvin, and looked him in his gloating eyes.
“I just hope I don’t find any heinous displays of a fellow officer because if I do, Hell will come, and even asbestos shorts won’t stop your ass from being burnt,” John tried to intimidate Marvin.
“Well then I hope there won’t be any heinous displays in the shopping center or the tennis courts in a park.”
John knew Marvin was chiding him by telling him what he would do. He couldn’t get out to cause disruption. They knew of is route of escape, but was that the only one?
Milner walked behind John, and patted him on the shoulder.
“We’re ready, John. Pissed, but ready.”
John stepped back away from Marvin, and straightened his jacket.
“Let’s go, Remy. I’m coming down with a bad case of beating civilians that think they’re sitting pretty when they have no idea the amount of pain they’ll be wallowing in if I get triggered by certain events syndrome.”
They called for the team to cease, and began to walk out of Marvin’s house.
“I am very sorry about your ineffective search for your fellow officer. While you were wasting time rearranging my home, he may already be dead.”
John was boiling. Marvin kept threatening to cause bodily terminal harm if he hadn’t already. He didn’t acknowledge Marvin, and left his home with Milner. They got into the surveillance van.
“I still have a few hours before my shift is over. Go home, I got it.”
“You can’t go it alone, Remy. You need support, and I need to calm down,” John said. “If I can’t shoot him, I can watch him, and not let him attack again.”
“Naw, you need to get away from this place because if he empties his garbage from that search, you’ll shoot him just on general principal.”
There was a knock on the door.
John looked at the monitor, and saw Korso.
“I think I may go home. We have a swamp thing outside.” John opened the door.
“Don’t get pissed, Detective Chandless, but I’m still seething about Mel, and I want to do my part.”
“Well I think Sergeant Milner needs help with surveillance. If you want to do your part, keep him company,” John said.
“Yes, Sir, we’re gonna nail him to the wall,” Korso said as he traded places with John.
John got out, and give Milner a pep talk.
“Don’t get too heated. Like you told me, follow procedure, and we’ll get him.”
“I’m glad you’re listening to reason, John, because I don’t want to lose a good detective over a pissant criminal.”
“Don’t underestimate him, Remy. He’s still beating us, and I don’t lose to idiots, I lose to masterminds.”
“You beat Dons in New York, and they were mastermind racketeers,” Milner said.
“Racketeering is a completely different animal from murder, Remy. I’ve taken down many gang thugs, and disgruntled husbands, but never a calculating serial killer before. Crimes of passion are easy to collar. Planning is incredibly difficult.”
Milner understood that being a homicide detective wasn’t just another law enforcement job. You had to know through experience, and nepotism wouldn’t fly.
“This is just another chapter in your career. When you finish reading this one, it’ll be old hat in a month.”
“I know, but I haven’t read that chapter yet. I’m just going on past experience, and painting by numbers now. You can’t hope to get him. Hope is as useful as a sloppy college roommate that doesn’t clean. I have to plan in order to nab him. I need my coach to help me plan,” he said.
“Who’s your coach?”
“A compassionate Czechoslovakian psychic that abhors violence,” John said.
“Anezka’s your coach?!” Milner was astonished.
“You know of her? Was I on the late show with leaning who she was?”
“You just never listened to Simin before. She’s your partner, and you two never discussed her phenomenal conviction rate. You’re that grandpa that never wanted to learn how a zip drive worked. I know I’m old, but at least I can download an MP3 on my smart phone,” Milner said.
“Detective Chandless didn’t know about Anezka Kranz until recently, Sarge?” Korso asked Milner.
“Okay, it’s official. If the rookie knows about her, I am the old guy. Keep an eye on him, and I’ll be back at the beginning of your next shift tomorrow” John said.
John left the two, and drove to Anezka’s house.
Marvin went to his secret entrance to his basement dungeon after everyone left. He walked downstairs to psychotic yelling.
“HELP! SOMEBODY GET ME OUTA HERE!”
Marvin walked towards the bound Mel with a rusty razor blade, and began to yell in unison.
“HELP THIS POOR PUPPY! HE IS STUCK IN A DEADLY SITUATION IF YOU DON’T RESCUE HIM!”
Marvin leaned to Mel’s face to say, “Your entire precinct was here just a minute ago. They were listening intently, but alas, my sound proofing was very proficient. Now we can yell together just to dash your hopes a little more, but I think I’ve made my point by assisting your useless decibel elevation. Shall we get on with it?”
Mel knew all of his yelling was hapless, and trying to escape was useless as well.
“Do it, Punk. I won’t scream for your pleasure. I’ll go out like a man!” Mel spit at Marvin.
Marvin climbed on Mel’s lap, and showed the rusty razor.
“Oh you will try to leave with your manly respect, except I believe your manhood will be the first thing to be sliced off. Try not to scream from that, Puppy.”
After Mel saw Marvin’s devilish grin, Marvin got off of his lap, and began to undo his belt buckle.