(Previously, Detective Victor Pauline and his partner, Rollie Mallory, were assigned to organize a drug bust. They are hot on the trail. Sort of…)
Sargent Roland (Rollie) Mallory was particularly good at stake-outs. Primarily because he could sit and eat and drink coffee. Between sips he could read his latest girlie magazine and fantasize about women.
Victor Pauline was in the driver’s seat, Rollie was shot gun. At the moment, they were parked in the darkening shade of a large tree. They were three houses down from their stake-out spot.
“You know what Rollie?”
“What’s ‘dat, detective?” Rollie’s mouth was full of pastrami sandwich and his eyes were glues to an issue of Hustler!
“Your problem is you have the maturity of an eleven-year-old and the gonads of an adult.”
Rollie looked up and thought a minute. He wrinkled his brow.
“That’s not so bad is it?” he was thoughtful a moment. “At least part of me is completely adult. The important part.” He leered playfully at Pauline.
Pauline rolled his eyes and shook his head. He sipped his coffee. Somebody has to do the long stake-outs, he thought.
Pauline glanced at his watch and his eyes slid side-ways to Rollie.
“So, you be good if I cut out for a few hours. Not much movement over there.”
“Naw, I’m fine. Got my girls,” he waved the magazine, “and,” he shook a paper bag, “extra maple crunch donuts. You want before you go?”
Pauline refused to calculate the number of calories he was looking at in Rollie’s cuisine choices.
“Ah…no…maybe, one donut, for later. So,” he looked at his watch, “I relieve you in, say, three hours?”
“Yeah, that should be time for you and your date to eat, screw, clean-up and be back here. Or, you could just screw the whole time and come back here and have one of these donuts.”
Pauline laughed. He shot Rollie with a finger gun. “No getting anything past you, is there?”
“Nope,” Rollie shook his head sagely.
Quietly, Pauline got out of the car and closed the door softly. He glanced around and turned around on the sidewalk, no one. He did an slow jog around the block to where his own car was parked. He went to get some Thai food and get home to feed the dog.
Three hours later, per agreement, Detective Victor Pauline was back at the car. A member in very good standing with Central Valley Police, Victor was thirty-eight years, divorced, tan, buff with wavy dark brown hair, almost black, and as some would say, beautiful clear blue eyes. He never drank to excess and had given up smoking years before. He was at the gym six days a week in the early am and church on Sunday. He was what his mother called a ‘good boy’.
If she only knew, he mused to himself thinking for a moment of his Mom.
Pauline was in good standing because he was intelligent, intuitive, charming and knew his business about making arrests. He was insightful while other policemen could be described as ‘plodding’. Pauline saw the big picture. It might take a minute, but in the end, he always saw it.
Pauline was back in the driver’s seat. He liked to keep his eye on the rear view mirror and check out anyone approaching from the rear. His eye caught something. A figure separated out of the shadow of another tree. His right hand traveled over to the revolver in his armpit holster. His fingers wrapped around the grip and slowly brought the weapon to his lap. His body tensed. The figure moved furtively toward the car. It was a man, hunched over and coming up the left side of the car. He finger was on the trigger now.
Suddenly the figure was at the window and pawing to get his attention. As if, he thought to himself. He hit the button and the window rolled down.
“Jesus, fucking Christ, Scratchy, you almost got yourself plugged.”
“Sorry,” the little man was obsequiously. “Sorry chief, I didn’t want nobody in ‘da house to see me.”
Pauline sighed and let out a breath. “Want you want?” He let his hand relax on the revolver.
“I got sumthin. Sumthin good. Worth sumthin.”
“Fifty, are you shitting me?”
“Dis is very, very good boss.” The little man was nervous as a cat on the proverbial roof. He kept looking around.
“It had better be.” Pauline sighed again and pulled out his wallet. He pulled out some bills and waved them in the air.
Scratchy tried to grab them but Pauline pulled away. “Give it.”
Scratchy rubbed his nose and scratched his arm. Looks like he needs a fix, Pauline thought.
“Over ‘der at de house. Delivery. Some heavy stuff.”
“Gonna be Tuesday about 11pm. Donut truck.”
“Donut truck….” Rollie started. Pauline flashed him a look.
“Okay, buddy.” Pauline handed over the cash. “This better be good or I’m coming to get you.”
“It’s da goods, Boss. For real. I gotta go.”
With that, Scratchy oozed away and melded into the shadows.
“Tuesday night, Boss?”
“Yeah, Tuesday night.”
“So, I guess we come back on Tues with some backup.”
“Good for me,” Rollie replied. “Monday night football.”
Pauline smiled and started up the car. He pulled slowly away from the curb, did a u-turn and went the other way.
“You’re chewing loudly.” Victor Pauline was tense, his hands gripping the wheel of the Crown Vic.
“It’s just a little snack,” his partner replied with a full mouth.
Pauline took his eyes off the stake-out house for just a moment and stared at his partner.
“Alright, alright.” Rollie crumbled up the brown paper bag and stuffed it under the seat.
‘Shh!” Pauline hissed.
There was a slight sound of static on the walkie-talkie he was holding.
“Alpha dog reporting, in place.”
“Copy that, Alpha. Can you see Tango and Bravo?”
“They seem to be moving into place, Victory. Copy.”
“I copy, Alpha,” Pauline kept the device close to his mouth.
There were some more hisses and low conversations. Rollie chanced a tiny sip of his coke.
They were in an older section of town. The street lamps were intermittent and the light they threw off wasn’t very bright.
Thank God there’s no moon tonight, Victor thought to himself.
“Vic, look!” Rollie whispered.
From their right came the rattle and clang of an old delivery truck. It could have been tan and brown, but the lamps distorted the colors. Mil’s Donuts was emblazoned on the side with faded lettering.
Victor hit the button
“Target approaching. Do you read? Target approaching.”
‘Copy that, Victory.”
“Stay in position until I give a go,” Pauline whispered into the microphone.
The truck rattled to a stop in front of the residential house. Victor checked his Peugeot timepiece. 11:00 pm.
“A little behind schedule,” he whispered.
“Better late…” Rollie started but Victor waved at him.
Two chunky men got out of the truck. One went around to the back and could be heard rolling up the back door of the truck. The other guy grabbed a dolly and loaded some boxes and rolled them to the front door. It opened, and another hefty guy came out and started helping them to unload.
“What are we waiting for?” Rollie whispered.
“We want to get more of the merchandise inside the house to show it’s really a delivery. Enough for distribution and not just some guys getting high once.”
They waited a few more tense minutes.
“Okay, I’d say that looks to be enough for evidence.”
Pauline spoke into the device. “Alpha dog go to the back. Tango and Delta, hit the front. Victory and Mallory will secure the truck.”
Victor signaled to Rollie and they slipped out of the vehicle, barely closing the doors. Keeping to the shadows, they advanced to the truck. Victor reached inside. The key was still in the ignition. He pulled it out and put it in his pocket.
“Go!” He whispered into the walkie-talkie.
Suddenly, a small army of men appeared in combat fatigues with rifles at the shoulders shouting commands at the truck driver. Pandemonium erupted on the quiet street, people yelling and screaming. Windows flew open on the little house and bodies were seen jumping out and attempting to run. Most were grabbed immediately.
Victor Pauline saw what looked to be a girl, slip out of a bathroom window and start to run down the sidewall. He tucked his revolver into his hostler and went in pursuit. After two blocks he was gaining but it wasn’t easy.
This is one fast chick, he thought Jesus, must do track!
He forced himself to put on a burst of speed and tackled her. They went down in the grass in a big lump. He immediately jumped up and pulled out handcuffs pinning the skinny wrists behinds the kid’s back. Yanking her up he was surprised to realize through all that hair was a boy.
“Oh, I thought you were…”
“Were what?” The boy snarled at him.
The face was almost pretty, angelic even, Pauline mused. What a twist!
“Let’s get going buddy. Back to the house.” He pushed the uncooperative teen in front and they walked back.
Several hours and numerous cups of coffee later, a fatigued Rollie and Victor were finishing up paperwork.
“So, who’s the pretty boy?” Rollie asked.
“Says his name is Thomas Dolby and I better be afraid of his father. Dr. Somebody or other.”
“Maybe you should be.”
“Yeah, after an hour with that little punk, I wanted to bitch slap him.”
“Police brutality,” Rollie smirked.
“I think of it more as community service,” Victor replied calmly.
So, is he a juvey? Rollie asked.
“Yeah, seventeen. Too bad, he’ll probably get a little rap for possession.”
“Not too bad for him.”
“This time maybe,” Victor got up, stretched and dropped some forms in a wire basket. “But nobody ends up in a place like that, at that time of night, with those people if they aren’t trying to get into the action. Become part of the distribution network.”
“Yeah, maybe.” Rollie nodded and yawned widely. He rubbed his mop of curly black hair. “I’m beat. Let’s go. It’ll be here tomorrow.”
Pauline yawned back at him. “You’re right. We’ve done our bit.”
They were walking out of the cement fortress that was police headquarters.
“You know,” Roland commented, “that little Scratchy guy did deliver.”
“He did indeed,” Victor agreed. He’s okay. “I try not to get too attached for when he dies from a heroine overdose. “
Rollie gave a little laugh. “I hear you. Nite, Boss.”
“Nite, Roland. Sorry if I chewed you too much about your snack.”
His partner waved at him and they both went home.
It was 11:00 am. Roland Mallory and Victor Pauline were both showered, shaved and in fresh clothes. They both grabbed coffee and their files to meet with the parents of Thomas Dolby in an interview room.
Dr. Thomas Dolby, Sr. and his wife, Lollie, were already seated in the pea green interview room. Rollie and Victor entered and left the door open.
The detectives introduced themselves and sat.
Pauline started. “Mr. and Mrs. Dolby, we asked you to come in to discuss what happened last night with your son.”
Mrs. Dolby started to cry and pull out a hanky. It was already damp.
“The charges,” Dr. Dolby asked quietly.
“The charges will be for possession of drugs. Your son had a quantity of marijuana and cocaine in bags in his pockets when I arrested him.”
“That doesn’t seem like….”
“It is not going to be a very serious charge, Sir, however, that is not really the problem.” Pauline leafed through his file. Mrs. Dolby continued to sob quietly in her chair.
“Do you know where all this occurred, Sir?”
“No, Dolby replied, we didn’t get many details. Just that he had been arrested and we needed to come down right away.”
“Yes, sir. The area of town is a very economically depressed area.” Omit the words poor, he thought to himself. “In the southwest area of town close to the 99 freeway. We had the house involved under surveillance for a number of days.”
“I don’t see what this has to do with my son,” Dolby was defending.
“This house,” Pauline went on to explain, “is not a place where people usually come to buy. It is more like…well…a distribution warehouse. Like Target or Sears.” He attempted a smile and looked at Mrs. Dolby. She was still weeping. “The owners get the big deliveries there and then break them up for their dealers. The dealers pick up there and then go out into the neighborhoods to sell.”
“I still don’t see….” Dolby protested.
“What I am telling you, Mr. Dolby….”
Dr. Dolby,” the man corrected.
“Dr. Dolby… is that the average person would not come to this locate just to make a purchase. They come to get product for the purpose of selling it.”
Dr. Dolby sat back and stared at Pauline for a long moment.
”Are you saying my son is a drug dealer? Do you have proof of that?”
“No, sir. Actually, we don’t have proof. But, the fact that he was there at all, especially at the exact time of a large delivery doesn’t look good for him.”
Dolby sat and said nothing.
“Your son will be charged and bail set. However, he is still a minor and rules regarding minors still apply. Unless….”
“Unless….” Dolby’s mouth formed a line thin.
“Unless the judge hearing the case feels there is enough evidence to charge Thomas as an adult.”
Dolby swallowed. Lollie Dolby cried harder.
There was a pause. Dolby spoke slowly like a man unsure of his ground.
“My son…has a problem…with the drugs. We have been trying to get him help but nothing has seemed to work.”
Pauline nodded. Rollie sat with his hands folded.
“The last man…the PI…. said he should go to a rehab clinic. To send him before he turned eighteen.”
“A PI?” Victor asked. “Who was that and what did he do?”
“Ah…” Dolby looked at his wife.
“Reynolds,” she told him.
“Right, ah, Sam Reynolds. We hired him to find Thomas last spring.”
“Ah,” Victor replied and glanced at his partner. “Well, maybe he has something there.” He started to close his file.
“Please, detective. Certainly the judge will listen to you, your recommendations about this. To help our son,” Lollie Dolby spoke, tears still in her eyes.
Victor paused and looked at Rollie.
“Well,” Roland rotated his head around before he spoke. “It will probably depend on what your son says to the judge and how convinced he or she is about his…. ah…sincerity about getting help.” He glanced at Victor who nodded.
“So,” Victor rose, and Rollie stood up with him. “Hopefully, that will work out for you.”
Dr. Dolby got up with his sobbing wife.
“Thank you for your help, detectives.” He led his wife out of the room.
Victor and Rollie waited until they left the area.
“Jesus,” Rollie breathed out. “Thank God I only have daughters. I might have to commit murder if I had a son like that.”
“Yeah,” Victor breathed out. “He’s a heartbreak walking, that one.” They went back upstairs to their office.
A month later, Victor Pauline was coming into the office fresh from the gym. His dark curly hair was still damp.
The day Sargent winked at him. A cute, petite red-head, she was always trying to get his attention at work.
Damn I wish I didn’t have a rule about dating women from work, he told himself.
“Paulie, Chief Brassballs wants to see you.” She smiled her most charming smile. She waved a little telephone note at him.
Pauline came very close to pick up the note.
“Thank you so much, Pam, you are so good at your job.” He grinned.
“Among other things, she smiled.
He winked at her. “However, I wouldn’t let him hear me talking like that.”
“It’s okay, he loves me. How do you think I got this cush job?” She smiled broadly.
“Well, yeah.” Pauline let it go. “See ya.”
Taking the stairs to his office two at a time, he rolled his eyes. Women, first they want to be on the force. Then…. he dumped his briefcase.
“What up, Boss?” Rollie called from behind a large Starbucks.
“Chief wants me. Is he mad?”
“Hell, if I know,” Rollie shrugged his shoulders. “No one tells me nada.”
Pauline hustled down the stairs to the Chief’s office.
He gave a little knock and peeked around the door.
“Sir, you wanted to see me.”
The Chief waved him in.
The Chief shuffled through some things on top of his desk. He grabbed a paper and pulled it up where he could see it more closely.
“Here it is.” He stared at the paper. “Ah, you made an arrest last month. Thomas Dolby, kid, seventeen.”
Pauline could feel his neck getting hot. If this little brat was accusing him of something….
“It was a clean arrest, Sir,” he started.
The chief motioned with his hands, palms down.
“Don’t get excited. You haven’t done anything wrong. What was this kid like?”
“He’s a little prick. Too much money and not enough ass kicking as far as I can see. So, what’s up?”
“The kid has run away,” the Chief replied. “He was in the process of being taken to a rehab, the driver stopped for gas, the kid said he had to pee and crawled out the bathroom window.”
“Yeah, well, he’s pretty good at that.” Victor replied remembering the arrest. He shrugged his shoulders. “So what, that’s not on us is it?”
“Well…” the Chief paused and stared at the paper again. “Ah…Victor. Do you know who this Thomas Dolby, Sr. is?”
“A doctor of some kind?”
“Well, yes. He is a doctor. But, not a medical doctor. He has a PhD in something exotic, I don’t know what the hell. But,” he paused, “he teaches at the University and does some additional work.”
“Yeah, work for some agencies with letters we shall not name.”
Victor was puzzled.” I still don’t see….”
“It appears the kid may have taken something. Something belonging to his dad.”
“Yeah, something very valuable, that he really, really should not have taken. Now, these agencies that shall not be named want it back.”
“So,” Victor spread out his hands. “What is it?”
“I don’t know exactly and I’m not sure I even want to know. Anyway…”
“He wants to talk to you Victor. Apparently, he was impressed by your professionalism and the way you dealt with things on the street. He just wants to talk to you is all.”
“Go talk to him, Victor. Hold his hand for a few minutes. Hell, I don’t know. Just listen, okay. There may be absolutely nothing we can do. I have no idea. Just go and find out what is going on. Community service kind of thing. Plus, the kid is on probation, so ….”
The Chief was busy filing the paper away in a file folder in his desk. He looked back up.
“That would be a now, Victor.”
Victor got up and left the Chief’s office cursing. He had real work to do. Not hand holding some over indulgent parents who couldn’t control their own kid. Jesus!
He stomped upstairs, grabbed his briefcase and was stomping out.
“What?” Rollie said to his back.
“Later,” and Victor banged down the stairs.
The butler let Victor into the three-story red-brick mansion. He felt crummy parking the Crown Vic in the driveway.
Shit, wish I had the Austin.
He was lead into the study.
“Ah, Detective Pauline. Thank you so much for coming. Coffee? Rolls?”
Pauline stared at the buffet style arrangement on one table. His stomach was rumbling, and he had only had a protein shake before the gym.
“Well, maybe one.”
The butler quickly got him a clean, sparkling white plate. China with a white cloth napkin. He made a selection and the butler promptly took it to a small side table.
“Coffee, sir? “
“Caffeinated or Non-caffeinated?”
“Ah, just regular.”
“No, just black, thanks. “
The butler handed the white china cup to Pauline and gestured for him to have a seat in the winged-back chair.
Victor sat down and bit into the roll.
Oh, my God. What is this? He stared at the roll. Almond something, wow! He ate some more and eyed the table again.
“Thank you, Phillips,” Dolby spoke, “that will be all.” The butler faded away like smoke.
Pauline glanced around, and the man was gone. He looked back at Dr. Dolby.
“So,” Dolby began, your chief probably told you a bit about what is happening.”
“Your son is gone.”
“Yes, Thomas, Jr. has, as the saying goes, taken a powder. Do you know what I do Detective?”
“No idea. PhD in something or other.”
“Yes,” Dolby smiled. “PhD in Theology and dead languages.”
Pauline nodded. Esoteric as hell.
“Those are my theoretical qualifications. My practical applications of these studies are a little more, ah, pedestrian.”
“Do you know, Detective, anything about cryptology?”
“Cryptology? Like codes and stuff?” Pauline had actually taken one such course in college, but that was awhile go and he wasn’t to attempt to keep up with this guy.
“Exactly, you are a fast study. Exactly right, codes and stuff. My company…”
Pauline looked a question at him.
“Yes, I have a company and they are downstairs in this house.”
Pauline’s eyebrows shot up.
“We will take a little tour and I will introduce you in a minute. But my real specialties are Aramaic, ancient Greek and ancient Latin languages.”
“Aramaic?” Pauline asked.
“The language of Jesus, Detective. The language spoken by the Jews at the time of Jesus.”
Pauline shrugged and finished off his delicious roll.
“I am sorry, Dr. Dolby. I don’t quite see what this has to do with anything.”
“What is the important part of codes, Detective?”
“Ah, well.” He thought a moment remembering his class. “That they can’t be broken or read, I would think.”
“You are absolutely correct. That they can’t be broken or read. Let me ask you, Detective Pauline, how many people do you think can read ancient Aramaic?”
“Well, since I have never even heard that phrase before and since all the Bibles I ever look at are in English, I would guess, not too many.”
“Only a handful of scholars in the world can still read any texts that were written in that language. Also, since the Catholic church changed their services away from Latin and into the current language of the people, fewer and fewer of even Catholic priests can read and understand Latin.”
“Okay, good so far. Now…”
“What we have designed, here at our facility, Detective, is a code language which is a compilation of Aramaic, Latin and Greek.”
“Impressive,” Pauline said sipping on his quite delicious coffee.
“Yes.” Dr. Dolby sighed and sat down. “What was taken, Detective, and what we now think my son Thomas has, is an electronic translator for this code.”
“Oh.” Pauline paused to absorb the information. “That doesn’t sound good.”
“It isn’t,” the Dr. sighed, and his shoulders slumped. “We have been selling this new code script to a number of agencies and they have been using it with success. Primarily, as I said, because so few people can either read or understand any of these ancient languages and there are no commercial translators out there for these words.”
“So, you think your son may have gotten his hands on this…gadget. How?”
“It was kept in my safe and only I and my wife have the combination. It looks like Thomas persuaded his mother to get him some hard currency that I have in the safe. She opened the safe, the phone rang, she went to answer it in the other room and came back a minute later. There didn’t appear to be anything wrong or gone. She got him the currency and closed the safe.”
“When did you discover this?”
“After he left for rehab, some nagging feeling told me to check the safe. He seemed too…. willing to go.”
“And you don’t trust him.”
Dr. Dolby shrugged his shoulders.
“You discovered it was missing then.”
Sadly, the man nodded his head.
“But, does Thomas work with you on your projects. How would he even have known about it?”
“I don’t know. I am afraid someone would have had to have told him what it was and how to find it.”
“Someone who works for me.”
“Ah,” Pauline said, the light dawning.
“So, what now?”
“The critical thing is to get the translator back before it can be sold. Then, stick Thomas in rehab and hope to God they have strong locks.”
“Well, that’s well and good, but I don’t do missing persons search.”
“I know. I have hired the guy I hired last time to find my son.”
“Ah, the PI guy.”
“Yes, him. But, he is not a cop and doesn’t have your resources at his disposal. I am asking the police to work with him, apprehend the fugitive and them both, the translator and my son, back. Time is of the essence.”
“I think I understand, sir. Are we going to take that tour?”
“Any chance I can get another of those great rolls?”
Dolby laughed for the very first time.
“Of course, grab a roll and a napkin and we will go downstairs. When we are done you can just give me your impressions of what you think of my staff.”
“You think one of them…”
Dolby looked forlorn. “It has to be. Nothing else makes any sense. And we have worked so closely together….I just can’t believe….”
“So, Detective, the tour?”
Pauline nodded his head and finished his roll. He wiped his mouth and hands with the white table napkin. It was soft and fluffy and smelled good. Not like the harsh, starched and stiff jobs you got at most hotels. He had an irrepressible urge to stick it in his back pocket. Victor Pauline was a guy who appreciated nice things.
With a little effort, he placed the napkin back on the table. He picked up an ice-cold bottle of Evian and opened the top.
“After you Doctor.” He took a sip. Man, these people know how to live!
Dr. Dolby went out of the study. The ubiquitous butler was in the tiled foyer, apparently waiting.
“We will be downstairs Phillips.”
“Yes, Sir.” The butler did the slightest of bows.
It that an actual English butler? Pauline asked himself.
“Yes, his is.” Dolby seemed to sense the question. Straight from Manchester. And also, ex-career military.”
Victor’s eyebrows went up. “Impressive, Doctor.”
Dolby allowed himself a little smile and walked over to an elevator and pushed a button.
“The office is downstairs.” The doors opened. “This way.”
The elevator zoomed for what appeared to be two floors and opened up into a white, lab style office. There were desks and modules here and there. Big poster boards up on the walls were festooned with various articles and sheets of information.
There was a quiet hum to the place and people could be seen hurrying here and there.
Dolby walked to one of the cubicles.
“Dr. Collier let me introduce Detective Pauline. He is helping us. Dr. Collier is our expert in Greek language.”
“Morning, Detective,” the scientist extended a hand and gave a friendly shake.
“Do I detect a Canadian accent, Doctor?”
“Ah, geese, and I left the moose hat at home too.” The man grinned.
They moved on. “Here’s Dr. Livermoore, our expert in Latin.”
Dr. Livermore shook hands. “Aye, pleased to meet you.”
“Ah,” Pauline added, “a Scots.”
“That’s what my mother tells me, but she’s been known to lie once or twice. He gave Pauline an impish grin and went back to work.
The two men worked their way through the lab and came to another cubicle toward the back.
“And this,” Dolby paused, “is Dr. Ben-Hur. Our expert in Aramaic.”
Dr. Ben-hur stood up and Pauline’s heart did a little flip-flop.
She was tall and slim with lots of mahogany brown hair. The skin a healthy, ruddy color. But it was those eyes. Large, luminous and deep dark brown with softly arching black eyebrows. She looked at him and smiled. The pert mouth curling up at the edges. He felt himself falling into those eyes.
“So pleased, Detective. Paulie?” She took his hand. A strong hand but with incredibly soft skin.
Pauline coughed. “Pauline ma’am. Pauline. But people do call me Paulie.” Was his face getting red? He felt like he was twelve.
Dr. Dolby was smiling at Gallah Ben-Hur. She appeared to be a favorite with him too.
Dr. Ben-Hur bent over her desk a moment and stood back up. She had a business card in her hand and held it out for Pauline.
“In case, you need anything. Please call.” She smiled at him and dimpled.
Pauline was a little breathless and just nodded.
“Let’s continue, shall we?” Dolby guided Pauline toward the rest of the lab and kept up an ongoing discourse about the nuts and bolts of what they were doing.
Pauline didn’t hear anything. He was mostly thinking about how he could ask Dr. Ben-Hur to coffee and not sound like a complete dolt.
(continued on Part III)