Back at his desk Luke drained what was left of his now tepid coffee, then examined the empty cup in his hand. He read the café name emblazoned on the large take-out cup. He shook his head as his thoughts returned to his unpleasant encounter with the beautiful, yet bitter coffee shop owner. With a slight grin, he considered how that certainly wasn’t how he pictured it going in his mind.
After shrugging it off, Luke remembered he had one more case left to work through—the apparent robbery-murder of John Bishop, shot and killed while sitting in his vehicle near the Fenway Projects.
From the notes he scribbled into his diary during his impromptu chat with the old man in the bar, Luke recalled how the old man told him he’ll find the answers to the Bishop murder in the TELCO phone records.
Given the old man’s track record of three from three, Luke wasn’t about to question the old man’s reasoning. He lifted the envelope with the T-Mobile branding from his file and tore it open.
A letter stapled to the front of the records caught his eye. It was a note that historic SMS messages were not kept for this mobile number on their T-Mobile server.
Luke’s shoulders dropped slightly as he rolled his disappointed eyes. Not off to a good start. He aggressively ripped the advice letter from the records.
After placing the phone records on his desk, Luke dragged his hand across them to flatten them out. ‘Let’s see what gems of information these hold,’ he said to himself.
Luke noted a mobile phone number on the 1st page of the records appeared several times. He circled this number then he continued to read. By the time Luke had finished reviewing the records, there was one mobile phone number that was called, or texted several times every day. The pencil circles for this number alone dominated the landscape of the phone records.
It was unlikely the vic would call or text his wife that regularly throughout the day, every day. Maybe Mr. Bishop was having an affair with a work colleague.
A quick check of the telephone records he obtained from Sandy Bishop following her husband’s murder, confirmed the recurring number wasn’t that of the vic’s wife.
Reverse checks for mobile numbers were more difficult than landlines due to the increasing prevalence of pre-paid sim cards that don’t record the owner’s details. So finding the owner of this mystery number wasn’t going to be so straight forward.
Luke eyes remained fixed on the mystery phone number as he rubbed a thoughtful hand across his mouth. Of course he could always call the number, but what if it was the killer’s number? What if the murder was the result of a dangerous liaison between lovers gone wrong? He didn’t want to risk it. Plus, he wanted to rely on the element of surprise when arrived to speak to the owner of this mobile phone number.
Inquiries with his contact at T-Mobile confirmed the recurring number appearing on the vic’s phone records was not a pre-paid sim. However strict privacy legislation prevented his contact releasing the personal details of the account holder without appropriate court orders.
Although he had tried to avoid going down this path, he now had no choice but to seek a court order requesting the mobile phone account holder’s details from T-Mobile’s records.
With the relevant affidavits prepared Luke visited the court house, where following his presentation of evidence to a Judge in camera, the warrant was granted.
Armed with his permission to by-pass privacy legislation, Luke drove from the court to the Downtown Brooklyn office of T-Mobile.
The friendly, pleasantly smiling T-Mobile receptionist directed Luke to the adjoining waiting area while she contacted someone from their Compliance section to attend at reception to assist Luke.
After a brief wait, a short, thin middle-aged male wearing a white short-sleeve business shirt and dark tie confidently strode over to Luke in the reception waiting room. He introduced himself as Warren, the Compliance Team Leader.
Despite his diminutive physical stature, and choice of pencil-thin porno mustache that would’ve been chic circa 1980, Warren was a man who spoke with confidence and implied authority.
Following the customary hand shake exchange and explanation why he was there, Luke served the court sanctioned request for records on Warren, who was a thorough, but cautious type.
Warren accepted the warrant from Luke and began to read the court order. He then told Luke he would need to get his legal department to run their eyes over the document before he could release the requested account holder’s private details.
‘I’m sure you understand…’ Warren confidently said with a cheesy grin — all teeth.
Luke gestured to the warrant in the man’s hand, ‘You do know that is an order signed by a court Judge…?’ Luke said.
Warren nodded at Luke, smiled and replied, ‘Yes.’
Warren gestured to the waiting room, then suggested Luke take a seat before he trotted off with the warrant.
After several impatient glances at his watch during the ensuing twenty-five minutes, Luke noticed Warren finally returning. Warren asked Luke to follow him to his office, which in essence, was a workstation surrounded on three sides by partition walls, in an open-plan office.
As the two men strolled to Warren’s ‘office’, Warren mentioned that everything seemed to be in order and they would be complying with the court order, which he followed up with another cheesy grin.
No shit, Einstein, ya have no choice. But what he actually said in response was, ‘Thank you. I appreciate that.’
Luke sat in the visitor’s chair at Warren’s compact, but surprisingly clean desk. He watched Warren access customer records on his desktop PC.
While he waited Luke glanced around the small workstation, before returning his gaze to Warren, still tapping away at the computer keys.
Luke smirked to himself while regarding the over-zealous TELCO employee, who clearly loved the implied power of his mid-management position.
Finally, Warren sat back in his chair. 'There we go,' he said shifting his focus from the computer screen to Luke sitting opposite. Warren pointed to the printer just outside the workstation, ‘I’m just printing it up for you now...’ Warren moved to the nearby printer to collect the print.
Luke accepted the printout from Warren. It was an application form that recorded the mobile phone account holder as,
“Jacqui Herbert. 181 Tulsa Road Brooklyn Heights.”
The account holder’s date of birth was recorded as 1968. So that made her…45, Luke calculated.
With a firm handshake, Luke thanked Warren for his assistance before being escorted from the back-of-house office area to reception.
After sliding into the driver’s seat of his vehicle, Luke sat to consider what he had to go on. Right now, given the number of calls and texts messages Jacqui Herbert exchanged with John Bishop, it was his suspicion that this Jacqui Herbert was probably the vic’s lover. But who was she? Where did she fit in the picture?
From the T-Mobile offices Luke decided to take a drive by 181 Tulsa Road Brooklyn Heights on his return to his office, just on the off chance Jackie Herbert was home. Luke was certain this woman held a vital clue as to what happened to John Bishop.
Did he meet Ms. Herbert for a lover’s rendezvous…? Was he supposed to meet her at the park but it never happened…? Did his wife or her husband find out about their affair and decide to take matters into their own hands…?
His thoughts kept going back to what the old man suggested he do…check the TELCO records. Well, he had now done that and they had provided him with the name of Jacqui Herbert.
Luke parked his unmarked police vehicle directly outside number 181 Tulsa Road. The availability of parking spaces in the street outside her home suggested to him that she either didn’t own a vehicle, or she was currently at work.
After turning off the ignition Luke sat and briefly examined the three-story, brown brick terrace at number 181. The facades of all the homes in the street were the same with stoops leading from the sidewalk boundary, up to a front door elevated above the street level.
Luke trudged up the twelve or so steps to the front door then rang the doorbell. The standard ‘Ding-Dong’ tone was audible from within.
He turned to regard the quiet street while he waited for the door to be answered. After a brief wait Luke tried the doorbell again, followed immediately by a solid knock on the timber door. Still no answer. As he descended the stairs on his way back to his vehicle, Luke made a mental note to re-visit this address after-hours.
Since separating from his fiancée Luke moved into a small apartment in a tastefully remodeled factory in the Brooklyn suburb of Cobble Hill. His home was close enough to the 84th for ease of commuting, but far enough away to keep sufficient separation between his office and his home neighborhood.
As the working day drew to a close Luke contemplated what he would do for dinner tonight. Luke wasn’t one who did a big grocery shop each week. Instead, he usually visited the supermarket on a needs basis, often several times a week, depending what he had in his cupboards and freezer.
He remembered his pantry was a little on the bare side at the moment so he decided to call into his neighborhood grocery store on his way home from work to pick up some supplies for dinner tonight.
Luke looked every bit the bachelor as he navigated his way around the supermarket aisles with the store provided carry basket, adding bits and pieces for his dinner along the way.
He stood at the sweet corn table examining which ear of corn to select when his focus was broken by a woman’s voice emanating from somewhere behind him.
‘I wasn’t aware you lived in the same neighborhood as us cynical, lonely old women…’ the voice said.
Luke frowned. He turned to the voice. His eyes widened slightly when he noticed it was the feisty woman from the coffee shop who earlier tore strips off him for asking her out. She stood to his rear smiling at him. Luke didn’t know whether to laugh at her sarcastic humor, or tell her to fuck off. Fortunately for him, he opted for the former.
He smiled, somewhat awkwardly in response then he turned back around to attend to his corn selection.
Having experienced first-hand how this fiery woman could tear him a new one with her words, he was cautious about interacting any further with her.
The last thing he wanted was a repeat of this morning in his local grocery store. Luke rolled his eyes to himself. He rued the timing of his decision to stop off and buy supplies for dinner.
The woman moved to stand beside Luke so she turned towards him, facing him. She stared at him and smiled. Luke’s nervous eyes flicked to the smiling woman before his focus returned almost immediately to his corn selection.
What the hell does she want?
After selecting an ear of corn, anyone would’ve done under the circumstances, Luke placed it in his basket. He nodded and smiled at the woman before walking over to the potato display behind him. He wanted to make it quite clear to this woman that he had no intentions of continuing their acrimonious interchange from this morning.
‘I’m glad I ran into you…’ she continued. ‘There’s something I want to say to you,’ she said as she followed Luke to the display of loose potatoes. She sidled up beside him.
Luke again glanced to the woman, briefly making eye contact. This time his eyes were inquiring.
‘Look…’ the woman began. ‘I just want to apologize for my behavior this morning…’ she said. Luke held her gaze, but his expression was blank. 'I was out of line. Everything you said was right…I don’t know you, and I had no right to pre-judge you…which is exactly what I did.’
Luke’s confused eyes dropped to the potatoes in front of him. He fumbled with a number of potatoes he selected and replaced. He didn’t know how to take what this Jekyll and Hyde woman was saying to him. This morning she wanted to scratch his eyes out, and now she is all warm and fuzzy.
‘I understand what I said may have been hurtful to you…’ she continued.
Luke scoffed. Do ya think…? He still smarted from the bake.
‘And for that I am truly sorry,’ she said. ‘I hope you can find it in yourself to forgive me.’
Luke’s eyes lifted from the spuds, to the wall directly in front of him. He found himself reading the large ticket that displayed the price of potatoes per pound. All kinds of thoughts bounced around in his head. This was one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. She was stunning in every possible way. The problem was, he had the misfortune of seeing her ugly side this morning. The last thing he wanted was to meet that person again, nor did he have to.
While Luke’s mind struggled with the reality of what was happening, the woman gently touched Luke on his right forearm, in a non-threatening manner, to get his attention. Luke’s eyes dropped to her soft hand resting on his forearm, before lifting to meet her eyes.
The woman continued. ‘When you said you thought I was a beautiful woman…and that all you wanted to do was share a drink, or dinner with me…’ she said as her big green eyes stared into Luke’s, ‘I wanted to cry. I wanted to take back everything I said…but I couldn’t. I wanted the ground to just open up and swallow me …’ she said. ‘I wanted to chase after you when you stormed out of my shop…to tell you how sorry I was. That fact you thought I was beautiful and still told me so… even after what I said to you…well…’ she shook her head as it lowered. ‘I knew you were nothing like the person I made you out to be,’ she said returning her eyes to meet Luke’s.
Luke’s eyebrows raised in curious response. Go on…
‘The type of man I wrongly accused you of being…this type of man’s ego wouldn’t allow him to be rejected by a woman…he wouldn’t say what you said… the way you said it…it took a lot of guts and an enormous amount of character and dignity to do what you did. I can’t tell you how much I respect that,’ she said as she stared into Luke’s eyes.
Luke waved the back of his hand. ‘That’s OK…apology accepted,’ Luke said with a tone devoid of emotion.
‘I know you must be thinking I am some sort of psycho bitch…’ the woman continued, ‘but truly, I’m not. I have just had to look after myself after growing up surrounded by misogynistic men who viewed women as trophies, or possessions…something they can brag about to their mates down at the bar.’
‘Oh no, I understand that,’ Luke said with a nod. ‘You made that perfectly clear to me this morning...’
‘And I am soooo sorry,’ she said. ‘Can we just start over…please…?’ the woman’s eyes pleaded with Luke.
She moved back half a step and extended her hand towards Luke in a professional business style greeting. ‘Hi, I’m Kelly…It’s lovely to meet you,’ she said while keeping her hand extended. ’And I am not a psycho bitch,’ she smiled.
Luke’s eyes dropped to the extended hand then lifted to meet Kelly’s sparkling eyes. She was gorgeous. Her smile was captivating. It lit up her entire face. Her perfect teeth were a gleaming brilliant white and her large green eyes were entrancing.
Unlike when he saw her this morning in her café, Kelly’s long dark brown hair now draped down over her shoulders, perfectly framing the natural beauty of her face.
After a pause of measured contemplation, Luke smiled and slowly shook his head. She had him and he knew it.
‘Luke...’ he said accepting her handshake. Her small, soft warm hand seemed to fit perfectly into the contours of his much larger hand. The sensation of her touch sent a tingling up his body, awakening senses that had lain dormant for way too long.
While prolonging their hand shake he used his left hand to open up his suit jacket. ’And I have no notches in my belt.’
Kelly laughed out loud at his humor as the two strangers stood slowly shaking hands, staring affectionately into each other’s eyes. The prolonged duration of the hand shake was probably becoming a little awkward, but Luke didn’t care. He was in no hurry to let go. Surprisingly, she appeared the same.
‘You mentioned to me this morning something about an offer of a drink…’ Kelly said as their hands separated. ‘If that offer is still on the table…I’d like that, very much.’
Luke glanced at his watch. ‘Definitely…’ Luke said. ‘What about now…? I know a quaint little Irish bar not far from here…’ he said. ‘Or…I could just call you sometime…’
Kelly laughed at his nervous uncertainty. ‘Now is great for me...’ she smiled. ‘And I know the bar you are thinking of….Paddy Murphy’s, and it will be perfect.’
Luke again checked his watch. ‘The only problem is…there is a place I have to be later tonight…’ Luke said. Kelly eyed him suspiciously. ‘No, no… it’s nothing like that…’ he smiled. ‘It is a work related call. I have to interview someone at their home…someone who works during the day.’ Kelly smiled and nodded her understanding.
After glancing down at his basket of grocery items sitting on the floor beside his feet, Luke decided he wouldn’t be needing them now. He lifted the basket and placed it on the potato display to abandon it as he motioned towards the street. ‘Shall we go…?’
Kelly nodded once and smiled. ‘Let’s,’ she said as she commenced to walk with him to the street exit.