The Posture of Innocence, day 39.5

in writing •  3 months ago  (edited)

Captain Lee, Mr. Black, and Commissioner Scott work through a big anonymous tip ... and in the middle, Captain Lee is struck giddy by a tip Mrs. Thornton gave Commissioner Scott!

To get totally caught up on The Posture of Innocence, here are the prologue, day 1, day 2, day 3, day 3.5, day 4, day 4.5, day 5, day 5.5, day 6, day 7, day 7.5, day 8, day 9, day 9.5, day 10, day 10.5, day 11, day 11.5, day 12, day 12.5, day 13, day 13.5, day 14, day 15, day 16, day 16.5, day 17, day 18, day 19, day 19.5, day 20, day 20.5, day 21, day 22, day 22.5, day 23, day 23.5, day 24, day 24.5, day 25, day 25.5, day 26, day 26.5, day 27, day 27.5, day 28, day 28.5, day 29, day 29.5, day 30, day 30.5, day 31, day 31.5, day 32, day 32.5, day 33, day 33.5, day 34, day 34.5, day 35, day 35.5, day 36, day 36.5, day 37, day 37.5, day 38, day 38.5, and day 39!

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Mr. Black arrived on Monday morning Mr. Black found Captain Lee blasting Piedmont Blues in his office and thoughtfully considering the contents of an envelope in front of him.

“A big tip,” he said. “Someone pushed an envelope under my office door with a big tip on Lieutenant Bruce Deadwood, who shows up in our data around the Soames case. He apparently is living far beyond his salary would allow, and that all started around the same time Officer Cadbury retired. Officer Cadbury said somebody took over for him as in-house assassin, but he didn't know who.”

“There is kind of the same patterning,” Mr. Black said. “I had brought you some information close to that indicator as well. We know John Soames and the 24 people Officer Cadbury murdered with him have a couple of things in common – they were involved with something that would have kept that big private prison from being built. So, they and some others had to be cleared out of the way. What I found out yesterday from my team is that people who more recently speaking up against the corruption around that prison's building have been killed too … suppose Lieutenant Deadwood took over?”

“That also raises the question of what he is doing over here, so often, since this is not his station to work out of,” Captain Lee said.

“I can think of eight reasons,” said Mr. Black.

“So can I,” Captain Lee said. “Let's go up and talk to the commissioner.”

Back to the controlled disaster … Mrs. Thornton was hard at work, but it was getting to her that day … until she saw Captain Lee and Mr. Black, and the envelope she had so carefully prepared in the captain's hand. She was so relieved that she almost started crying, but smiled brilliantly for Captain Lee and Mr. Black and let them know the commissioner was in, although in a bad, bad mood.

“... What have y'all been doing around here beside making a cottage industry of abusing Black people? We've got twelve lawsuits in five days – what in the world is coming next? Did y'all really think it was 1819, and y'all could get away with this forever? Look, I'm 60 years old and I wasn't raised to be cuddling with them or anything, but they are people – people we have a duty to serve and protect just like everybody else! How I'm I supposed to clean this up if you won't stop making more mess!”

A pause...

“If I weren't a Christian now, I'd tell you what I think of all that! Get off my line!”

Commissioner Scott slammed the phone down, and then looked up at Captain Lee and Mr. Black.

“Please let there be good news, gentlemen.”

“A big tip – can you find out exactly what Lieutenant Bruce Deadwood's salary is, and what he is doing coming through here three times or more a week?”

Commissioner Scott turned to his computer – with his combined offices, there wasn't much he couldn't access.

“He makes $36,750,” he said, “ … and, he is hand-walking things over here that don't need to be hand-walked over to the the record room here.”

Captain Lee shared the tips … Mr. Deadwood's car and house and the restaurants he liked …

“Yep, he's living way, way beyond his means.”

Mr. Black presented his information about the continuing pattern of suspected assassinations, and his theory that someone had taken over when Officer Cadbury is retired.

“I have an idea, Captain Lee,” Commissioner Scott said. “Go interrogate our friends from IA again, and just casually work in that Lieutenant Deadwood is hanging around here. One of them will tell you.”

“A capital idea, sir,” Captain Lee said. “I am going now.”

“Meanwhile, Mr. Black, have a seat. Your team has pulled together some amazing information, and I wonder if it connects with some things I learned this morning ...”

Captain Lee returned in two hours.

“The Deadwood tip pans out … they are terrified of him, and Captain Grainger broke on the subject, explaining exactly what your information indicates, Mr. Black. Lieutenant Deadwood is waiting for them to make bail – for whatever reason, the powers above have not pulled that trigger yet, but he is, if you will, on call.”

“Suppose Lieutenant Deadwood doesn't have any way to know directly that the powers above haven't pulled that trigger when these folks suddenly make bail,” Mr. Black said.

“Suppose the powers above have to pay him for his work, no matter who helps these folks make bail,” Captain Lee said.

Commissioner Scott thought about it for a few minutes, then gave a thin smile.

“Not today,” he said, “but, let me do a little more prep work for later in the week.”

His smile widened, just a little.

“I'm constantly saying we're toast as a department. Mrs. Thornton says that a wise man once told her that since we are toast, let's be the toast that does the most... why not?”

Mr. Black laughed, and Captain Lee began to feel dizzy again … he knew who that wise man was...

It had happened on this wise: six weeks earlier, while coming out of the record room on the second floor, Captain Lee had heard Mrs. Thornton's voice faintly drifting down from the fourth floor, to the tune of “When You Wish Upon a Star”:

“Working at BLPD [Big Loft Police Department],
Stupid things will come to be--
Common sense arrested and held without bail...”

Captain Lee had known three things immediately: Mrs. Thornton was alone in the office because the commissioner was at a press conference at City Hall, something extraordinary had happened that had caused Mrs. Thornton to feel extremely stressed, and, Mrs. Thornton subconsciously was calling for him, because they had made up a bunch of spoofs of that song during the first time that they had ever walked together after dark, and had laughed until they cried … and had trouble parting from each other, at least on Captain Lee's side.

To the summons he had gone, as if responding to the orders of a general … and yes, Mrs. Thornton's look of happiness had been unmistakable when he appeared in the outer office.

“You rang, madame?”

She had giggled madly – and had not denied it. The situation had not been a laughing matter, although Mrs. Thornton had needed that laugh.

“Commissioner Scott has just gone to his press conference to announce his new protocols for community policing, especially in terms of working with the African American community in Big Loft. You're the only division leader so far that hasn't called back with excuses – I've got dozens of calls and e-mails with people explaining why this will be hard to implement and why we have to do it gradually and why they can't impose this level of scrutiny … you figure treating people with respect wouldn't be such a problem, but, apparently certain people are so sick that they still feel they need to have whole communities to use as chew toys.”

“Alas, but it is so,” Captain Lee had said, gently, “but that does not mean we have to stand for it. Document who is complying and who is not, so that when the commissioner has to make personnel changes, there the evidence will be.”

“Right,” Mrs. Thornton had said. “That's it exactly. BLPD is toast, but that doesn't mean those of us who know better have to go down without a fight!”

One big tear had dropped from her warm amber eyes, and Captain Lee's heart had melted, melted so much that he went into a mode rarely seen in 27 years, when his fiancee and her family the Mortons had dubbed him “Henry the Entertainer” … the shy, moody boy was gifted in comedy as well as music, and for his close friends and relatives could still on occasion show that side of his personality. So, after he had closed the door to the hallway going to the stairwell, out came “Henrico Leevorotti,” a persona guaranteed to put the Mortons and Hamiltons and the Lees of the mountains in tears of laughter, out to capture the heart of a new audience. He had the voice for the task, but it was the overdone gestures and the lyrics of the latest Disney spoof that did the job:

“Fine time to invest in jam,
Eggs and butter, cheese and ham –
Since we're toast, let's be the toast that does the most!”

Mrs. Thornton fell over on the desk, rolling from laughter, her troubles temporarily forgotten. She had just about recovered when “Henrico Leevorotti” did a 360-degree turn and came back around as grave, mild-mannered Captain Lee once more.

“Good afternoon, Ms. Thornton,” he had said in his most deadpan voice.

Then he had winked. Mrs. Thornton had fallen over again, and Captain Lee could still hear her laughing upstairs when he got all the way down to the second floor … and that night when she told Mrs. Bell … and later that night, when she woke up laughing and cried out – “Be the toast that does the most!”

Apparently, Mrs. Thornton had gotten Commissioner Scott convinced, although she had not told him who the wise man was. Nor was that man particularly wise in his own eyes, but it struck him absolutely giddy to know how she had taken that bit of fun and turned it into something that was encouraging the commissioner to do everything he could for justice. Captain Lee was glad that Mr. Black was walking out with him, and that Mrs. Thornton was not at her desk but gone down the hall to the service elevator to double-check on some office deliveries with the man who brought them. But, it made all the sweeter for him to slip a little envelope onto Mrs. Thornton's desk as he passed.

Mr. Jetson Black laughed again, heartily, once he had gotten into Captain Lee's office.

“Captain Lee, I'm getting to like you and your commissioner, a lot … we're about to give eight, or at least seven of eight powerful White men who are used to being the hunters a chance to be honorary Black men in the South in a few days, minus the beautiful tans!”

“Well, it is always good to be able to see the world from different perspectives,” Captain Lee said, perfectly deadpan. “They, and Virginia, and the South, are sure to learn something from the experience.”

Mr. Black sat down and laughed for a long time.

“You know, Captain, in addition to being a dangerous private investigator, you could do stand-up comedy of a darkly humorous vein.”

“You're not the first person to give me that idea recently.”

And Mr. Black saw what Captain Hamilton had seen the day before … a softening in Captain Lee's dark eyes and expression, although it was not as marked as what Captain Hamilton had seen, and it was very brief – the marble front returned as Captain Lee resumed his chair and turned on his computer.

“Meantime,” he said, “Captain Hamilton suggested to me that it would be better to see this huge aggregation of data as about as straight as it will ever be, and consider it a tree instead of a lightning bolt. Let me adjust this view … well, I'll be, he was right, it does come up nicely in tree display.”

“That looks much better,” Mr. Black said. “You know how you make a tree die a slow, painful, public death?”

“Captain Hamilton said the same thing,” Captain Lee said. “I thank God He has always given me clearer minds than my own to work with.”

Mr. Black restrained a smile … it was very hard not to like those Lees who were very humble, and that explained why a certain uncle of this particular Lee had gotten away with so much. Captain Lee had picked up the secret to truly win friends even of natural foes... for even God Himself gave grace to the humble. It explained a lot.

“So, who's in the trunk?” Mr. Black said aloud.

“We have until whenever the commissioner is ready to move on the other portions to find out,” Captain Lee said. “But, look here … remember Lieutenant Longstreet, and his big data fork?”

“Yep … I see the patterning here too, places in which the program has made mirror images because two outcomes are possible – two branches.”

“In this mode, it means something a little different,” Captain Lee said. “You know how you have to maintain a fruit tree; if you want it to bear fruit, you have to trim those branches that aren't ever going to bear fruit.”

“Redundancy,” Mr. Black said. “Captain Lee, this is beautiful – because if this thing can highlight the redundancies and hide them from view, the main branches that come right out of the trunk should be clear – the main paths should be clear.”

“Right,” Captain Lee said, “and while it works for an hour or so, you and I might profitably look at known financial records. I gave my lieutenants a bunch of subpoenas this morning, and they should all be getting back just about –.”

Day 40 is up

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