CAHILL--Part 1 of 6

CAHILL—Part 1 of 6 by Senorlongo

Sure enough, no sooner had I taken my first step into the bar than the noise died. When I turned left and stepped up to the bar the people there couldn’t back away fast enough. I took a stool in the middle of the empty space and sat down, waiting for the bartender to approach. “I’m not looking for any trouble.”

I reached into the lower left pocket of my cargo pants. Like almost everything else I was wearing they were a true deep navy blue. My heavy shoes were black as was my wide belt. My belt said as much about me as the bold white lettering across my chest. Just below the American flag over my heart were the letters that were my life—U. S. MARSHAL. On my right hip was my nickel plated .44 Magnum Colt Python, just behind two speed loaders in addition to the twenty-four rounds on the belt. On my left hip was my ASP Talon baton—every bit as deadly a weapon in my hands as the revolver. A pouch at the back of my right hip held my stainless steel handcuffs and its partner on the opposite side held my radio—my link to my backup team.

He gulped a few times but did as he was told, nodding slightly in response. I continued almost at a whisper. “If my nose is pointing to twelve o’clock, my right ear to three, the back of my head to six, and my left ear to nine, tell me where he is. Again, don’t point or do anything obvious and we’ll be fine.”

I picked up the reflection in the mirror then asked, “Red shirt with black and white stripes, looking away from me?” He nodded again. Now, in my normal tone of voice I asked, “Where’s the men’s room?”

I was only a few feet from him when I pivoted, my left foot crossing in front of my right. A fraction of a second later my big left hand was on his neck, pushing his head onto the table. “Michael Clifford, you are under arrest for kidnapping, rape, sodomy, murder, interstate flight to avoid prosecution, and violations of the Mann Act. Place your hands flat on the table. In fact, all of you…hands flat on the table.”

Clifford’s hands came up empty. His friend, however, was either deaf or just plain stupid. I didn’t want to shoot him out of fear that the bullet might pass through his body then strike and injure one of the bar’s patrons behind him. I holstered the revolver quickly and pulled my ASP Talon baton. It’s roughly nine inches closed, but expands to almost twenty-eight with a flick of my wrist. I brought it down on his right wrist as soon as he moved to raise his hand. A switchblade rolled harmlessly onto the floor just a millisecond after my second blow, a backhand that blew out his bicep and badly bruised his upper arm.

“You…in the green shirt.” I continued once he pointed to his chest. “Yes…you; open the door and hold it open, but don’t stand in the doorway.” I moved a thin brass tube to my mouth and blew twice. There was no sound—nothing we could hear, but less than ten seconds later people in the bar gasped as Max, a 130-pound German Shepherd, ran through the portal. He stopped at my side as I pointed down at Clifford’s friend.

Digging into the right-hand cargo pocket I removed a plastic wrist cuff that I wrapped tightly around his friend’s crossed wrists. Max was only inches from his face when I told him, “You’re either the best or the stupidest friend I’ve ever encountered. Your actions tonight will cost you at least ten years of your life.” I pulled both prisoners to the bar where I searched them once I had them off balance—legs back and apart, leaning forward against the edge of the high wooden structure. Clifford had a switchblade tucked into the cup of his briefs. Under the table I found two .38 caliber snub-nosed revolvers. I tucked them into my waistband. Only then did I radio my backup team. They ran in thirty seconds later with a team of EMT’s. I stood by while both captives were read their Miranda rights and were searched again. Both were wearing cowboy boots and, sure enough, both had large hunting knives hidden within their right boots.

“How many women, Marshal?” A middle-aged man had stood to ask the question.

Clifford and Smith had been trapped by DNA evidence. Clifford had briefly served in the U.S. Army after graduating high school. He had been in basic training only three weeks when he lost his temper and tried to punch his drill instructor—a big mistake on his part. The DI took him down in a heartbeat. He was court marshaled and spent six months in the stockade before receiving a dishonorable discharge. His DNA was on file with the Army and it was that file that had led to his arrest. Both switchblades had traces of their victims’ DNA in cracks in the cases and the mechanisms that opened the blades. Tracking them down had been a long and arduous job, but that’s why they pay me the big bucks. I left for home in eastern North Carolina the following afternoon, planning on taking a well deserved three week vacation.

I pulled on my yellow rubber rain parka, raising the hood over my head as I exited, leaving Max in the dry car. The sign said open, but the door was locked when I reached it. Looking in through the windows I could see a woman behind the counter and, peering into her eyes I could see her fear. I was hungry and thirsty and I was getting wet below my parka so I opened the front of the jacket and stood as close to the window as I could so she could read the letters on my shirt.

“I’m really not. That sign goes on automatically when I turn the lights on. I’m sorry, but I don’t have anything I can offer you.”

“Coke I can get for you and how about a couple of bags of chips? Think that will tide you over until tomorrow morning?” I smiled and nodded my appreciation as she went into the kitchen for the chips and a plate.

“Well, when I saw the size of your hands I knew you’d never get them into one of those little bags.”

“My car doesn’t run too well in the rain and even if it did I still would have to drive through a big puddle to get home. Last time I tried, the damned thing stalled right in the middle and I was stuck until a tow truck pulled me out. I made a few calls, but nobody wants to come out in the rain. I think a lot of them are afraid of going through the puddle, so here I am.”

“Normally, I’d say you had about twenty miles to the nearest motel, but a deputy sheriff stopped in earlier and told me that the bridge over Bascomb’s Creek was closed. Apparently, it’s under water from flash flooding. Last time that happened, it was closed for two months while the state checked it out. It’ll be more than a hundred miles up north and around the lake and then another hundred back down. You’ll never make it in this weather. Half of the roads are probably flooded out.”

“I wouldn’t do that either. The sheriff’s deputies will arrest you. There’s a county law about it. We had a problem with Gypsies a few years ago and that was the county’s solution. I guess it worked. They never returned”

“You wouldn’t say that if you knew our sheriff. He’d take the greatest pleasure in locking you up. He’s a legend in his own mind. He’d brag about it for years. If you can get me home you can sleep on my couch. I’m Lucille; I own the diner.”

“That’s what my father called me when I was a baby. I thought it was cute when I was little, but I learned to hate it by the time I was ten. Unfortunately, he had opened the diner long before that and the name has stuck. And your name is…?”

The characters in all of my stories are fictitious, but most—if not all—of the places are usually real. Included are towns, cities, roads, restaurants, and even menus. In this story, however, virtually all of the places are figments of my imagination. There is no Bascomb County, no Bascomb’s Landing, and no Lulubelle’s Diner. They are merely tools I have used to make the story realistic. As in all of my stories there is plenty of sex, but only when it fits into the plot of the story. If you’re looking one meaningless sex act after another I suggest you look elsewhere. If you are looking for sex, romance, mystery, and adventure, then stick around and read. It is a long story—154 pages--in six parts, so don’t be surprised if the story takes a while to develop. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Sr. Longo.

I could hear the din from the bar as I exited my SUV and I was still almost a block away. What a shame! I knew from long experience that would change as soon as my foot crossed the threshold. I tend to have that effect on people. I’m six feet six inches tall and I weigh an even 250 pounds—all of it broad shouldered muscle. My Body Mass Index at my last physical was less than four percent. My light brown hair is styled exactly the way it’s been for the past fifteen years—ever since I first joined the Navy.

“Good…neither am I. Give me a ginger ale.” He reached under the bar for a glass and some ice. Twenty seconds later he slid the glass in my direction. I pulled a fiver from my pocket and dropped it on the bar. He ignored it and walked away to draw a few beers and pour some wine. It looked to me that this was a pretty cheap crowd. Checking up and down the bar all I could see were longnecks and drafts.

I placed the photo flat on the bar as the bartender returned to me. “I’ll have another,” I said in a loud voice, continuing soto voce so I wouldn’t be overheard. “Don’t pick it up and don’t make a production of looking at it. I’ve been told that he comes here a lot. Is he here tonight? If he is and he escapes because you’ve given me away I’ll see to it that you’re arrested for obstruction of justice.”

He pretended to wipe the bar as he whispered, “About 4:30 with his back to you.”

He must have been a quick study because he caught on immediately. “Take the hallway to your right…last door on your right.” I turned, not to my right, but to my left so the people at his table wouldn’t see me loosen the leather strap from my holster, tucking it up and under the top edge where it wouldn’t interfere with my draw. I thumbed the safety off then I spun around and slowly walked toward the hallway.

I was pleased to see the two at my left comply immediately as well as those seated at nearby tables. Clifford, however, and his buddy to the right needed a bit more persuasion. The sound as I cocked the hammer on my Python reverberated through the now silent room. “Listen carefully because I’m only saying this once. What you feel at the back of your head is the business end of a Colt Python—a .44-Magnum. If I see either you or your friend pull any kind of weapon there will be about a half-inch hole in the back of your skull, but in the front there will be nothing but gore. It will blow your face half way across the room. NOW! Place your hands on the table.” I wasn’t at all surprised to hear something “clunk” as it fell to the floor.

I still had my left hand on Clifford’s neck when I kicked the knife away toward the bar. I grabbed his friend by the hair and pulled him to the floor. I turned now to face the door.

“You’ll be fine as long as you don’t move, but he’ll tear you to ribbons if you even blink. Max growled and bared his fangs as the hairs on the back of his neck stood straight up. The guy laid there not even breathing. My attention returned to Clifford as I pulled his left hand behind his back, applying the handcuff with my right. I followed up by snapping the cuff tightly around his right wrist.

We unloaded the pistols then tagged and bagged them before removing both suspects. I was the last one to leave and, as Max and I crossed the threshold, I turned to address the crowd. “I really am sorry to have ruined your evening. We’ve been chasing that bastard all over the Midwest for months. Believe me when I tell you this: you’ll sleep a whole lot better tonight knowing he’s behind bars.”

“Six…six beautiful young women kidnapped, raped, and sodomized before being brutally tortured and murdered—six families torn apart by their violent and senseless crimes. If all of you weren’t in potential danger I would have gladly exterminated vermin like him in a heartbeat. We thought he had an accomplice, but we weren’t sure. Now it looks like we were right.” I turned and strode into the dark starless night, Max walking easily at my side.

I’d had a brief talk with the other two who had been at the table with Clifford and friend—one Jordan Smith. They had told me that they knew Smith from high school, but hadn’t seen him in years until tonight in the bar. They willingly gave me their ID’s and told me that they were graduate students—one in California and the other in Massachusetts. It was easy to verify their stories. I did the following morning. They were in the clear; both had been hundreds of miles away when the crimes had been committed.

The skies were filled with dark threatening clouds when I left around three in the afternoon. I hadn’t been on the road an hour when the heavens opened and traffic slowed to a crawl. Max walked aimlessly in the back seat before lying down for a nap, leaving me to navigate through the maelstrom on my own. I was driving my personal vehicle—a specially modified Ford Explorer. It was a good dependable SUV with four-wheel drive, that had been structurally changed to accommodate Max, but even with it the trip was challenging. I had hoped to be at least a third of the way home by the time I stopped around ten that night, but it wasn’t to be. The interstate was closed due to flooding and I had to take an alternate through back roads that weren’t any better. A deputy sheriff tried to give me directions for a detour, but I must have taken a wrong turn in the heavy downpour. It wasn’t until 12:35 that I spied lights ahead on the dark deserted road. I prayed it wasn’t the “Hotel California” as I approached. Those lights turned out to be a diner—Lulubelle’s, if the big sign in the parking lot was to be believed. The sign in the window said “OPEN” when I drove into the empty lot.

It took a few seconds, but I could see her relief when she exhaled and began to relax. A minute later she had opened the door and I had hung my parka on a nearby hook. “I’m surprised you’re open at this hour,” I said.

“How about a fountain soda and some chips or pretzels? It’s been a long difficult night.”

I was dumping potato chips onto the plate while she poured a large fountain Coke over ice. “Thank you, Ma’am. This plate was a good idea.”

“I do appreciate it. Mind if I ask why you’re here at this ungodly hour?”

“Is there a motel anywhere nearby? I need a place for me and Max…my dog”

“Then I guess I’ll be sleeping in my car.”

“Surely, they wouldn’t arrest a federal officer.”

I laughed briefly before asking if she was also known as “Lulubelle.”