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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

("You're what I couldn’t find A totally amazing mind So understanding and so kind You're everything to me…")…Cranberries…2002

Chapter Thirty

Hollenbeck Station…Tuesday, Feb 24, 2009…7:00pm

This wasn't at all what Oscar had expected to find on the whozie-whats-it, the, the, the flash drive that's it; that Tran found at the University where that poor lab rat, Ernie Namura, had bought the farm. Now, to be fair it wasn't in fact the complete load of crap he expected. It was a clever load of crap! Oscar had thought for sure that all they would find would be the geek's homework and "sure thing" list, nothing useful. But what was in front of him was a pretty impressive list of names and dates. At least at first glance. It would have fooled numbskulls like Whitey Roode and Iggie and led them on a wild goose chase at the taxpayer's expense. For the moment he left Rebecca Tran off of team airhead, although he could see that she was definitely riding the pine and itching to get in the game! But Oscar had been at this too long and had heard and seen it all.

This was a clever ruse, an obvious misdirection. The question was why? If that thing was left to be found what made it worth killing for? This stuff he was reading was all just noise, no substance, information anyone could acquire especially given the whole internet angle. Hell, half the info on that medium was bogus anyway. Anyone could store anything in cyberspace, fact or fiction. This didn't make any sense, unless? Wait, that's it, the flash drive was bait only the wrong fish bit. That was an interesting thought and it made Oscar think immediately of Dr. Judith Looney. Why did she run, and why so fast, and why in the dead of night right after finding her boyfriend or whatever he was to her, face down in a puddle of his own mud? And why was she hooked up with that jack-hole Roode, what were they up to?

Suddenly Lt. Celaya regretted sending the aforementioned nincompoops to Las Vegas all on their own. Oscar pushed the folder and report away from him and slapped desktop hard enough to draw a few sideways glances from the squad room on the other side of his office window. He ignored the curious looks and picked up the handset from the desk phone cradle. He punched the Vegas are code while he flipped through his rolodex for the rest of Wally Price's phone number. Wally's phone rang five times on the other end of the line before auto transferring to the desk sergeant.

"LVMPD, Sgt. Hernandez," the officer answered.

"Yeah, this Lieutenant Oscar Celaya, LAPD, I'm trying to find to reach Detective Sergeant Price please. Can you locate him for me or give me his cell phone number," Oscar asked in a nicer tone than his current mood dictated?

"Sergeant Price is indisposed sir. Can I leave a message or call back number?"

That was the wrong answer. "INDISPOSED! You're goddamn right you can leave him a message. You tell Price to call me ASAP, he has the fucking number! And sergeant, if I don't her from the shit heel in five minutes it's YOUR ASS! If you value those stripes on your sleeve Hernandez, don't bother replying, you got it," bellowed the frustrated police lieutenant from Los Angeles!

Oscar gently hung up the phone, setting the handset back in the cradle as if he were defusing a bomb. Leaning back in his chair he clasped his hands behind head and stared at the ceiling, mentally decompressing while he waited for Wally Price to call back. Blowing off steam like that was his secret weapon against heart disease. He learned early in his career that stress was the silent killer of cops. The guys that held everything in either stroked out or ate their gun sooner or later. He closed his eyes and went to his happy place, which believe it or not was with that young wife of his. Oscar had waited a long time for happiness to come into his rough and tumble life. Olivia Celaya was fifteen years his junior, a widow with three kids when they met five years ago. It was the second marriage for both of them.

She changed him, brought the decency in him that the job and life had robbed him of over time. Oscar's first wife was a casualty of the law enforcement profession; she couldn't hang with it, and she pushed him away enough times to drive him to look for compassion elsewhere. He wasn't proud of that and although it was a short detour the damage was irreversible. Fifteen years later someone up there in the heavens, call him what you like, introduced him to the love of his life. It wasn't love at first sight, it was a slow burn, but isn't that how the tastiest sauces are made?

Olivia was the polar opposite of his ex. She was a hard shell with a soft center, meaning she could be bitchy but you never doubted her love, it was deep and forever. The former Mrs. Celaya was soft on the outside and hard on the inside, where the heart was supposed to be. He was a lucky man and he knew it. Truth be told, and I'll deny I ever uttered these words, so was she. The man she molded with her genuine love for him was turning out to be a pretty good egg. That's all I want to say about that!

The phone rang and Oscar opened his eyes slowly. He check his watch, it had been five minutes exactly. He leaned forward and slapped the phone up and it flew into his hand.

"Price," he asked?

"In the flesh Lieutenant, what can I do ya for," Wally Price asked sarcastically?

"Cut the crap, let me talk to Roode, I know he's there listening."

"Actually he's not LT. We had some trouble on this end."

"Where is he?"

"He's with Dr. Looney and Iggie."

"Where's Detective Tran?"

"Right here," Wally said, handing Becca the phone. "It's for you," he said.

Becca took the telephone from him, "Hello?"

"Very slowly and leaving nothing out, not one detail, tell me what the hell is going on out there," Oscar said gently but sternly, like he was talking to his fourteen year-old step daughter, Katrina. Becca swallowed and began to recant the events of the afternoon.

"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph," Oscar said, whispering to the four walls of his off

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