Valley of Shadows-Chapter Thirty-Four

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Richard eased his car onto the shoulder of the highway and cut the engine.  Rachel watched him reach into the back seat and retrieve a pair of binoculars.  She waited, but no explanation was forthcoming.  He set about adjusting the binoculars.

“Are you going to tell me where we’re going,” she finally asked.

“This is where we were going.”

“I don’t get it.  You said we were doing some surveillance tonight.”

“That’s exactly what we’re about to do.  Here take a look down there.”

Richard handed his sister the binoculars and directed her attention to the street below them.  Rachel immediately recognized the warehouse that they had visited together.

“We’ve already checked that place out.  Why are we watching it again?”

“I’m testing out a little theory of mine.  My old partner Darryl was a little too interested in what I’ve been up to lately.  I’m not sure that I can trust him, so I decided to conduct a little test.  I told him that I would be breaking into that warehouse tonight and having a look around.”

“Oh, I get it.  You want to see if he’s going to show up.  But what is that going to prove?”

“Well, for one Darryl didn’t tell me he was coming.  If he shows up with his gun drawn…”

“He might just be trying to look out for you.  That warehouse isn’t exactly in the safest neighborhood.”

“You don’t know that man like I do.  If he shows up, it won’t be because he’s trying to watch my back.  He’ll be trying to stick a knife into it.  He hasn’t shown any concern for my well-being, since I left the force.”

“Did you tell him you wanted to keep in touch?  Give him your phone number?”

“Doesn’t matter, he knows where ma lives.  If he really wanted to get in touch with me, then he could have gotten my number from her.”

“Maybe he got the feeling that you didn’t want to keep in touch.”

“What is this?  You in love with the guy or something?”

“Of course not, I couldn’t stand the man.  He was always hitting on me.  I just don’t want you to jump to the wrong conclusions.  The last thing you want to do is to get on the wrong side of a cop.”

“Too late for that, Officer Foster already has it out for me.  Of course, that’s nothing new.  He couldn’t stand me, when I was on the force.”

“Why is that?”

“Other than the color of my skin, he seemed to think I was some sort of goody two shoes and it rankled him.”

“Oh…I could see that.”

“What does that mean?”

“Let’s face it Richard, you always have been a kind of Dudley-do-right.”

“All the trouble I got into growing up and you…”

“Are surprised that you grew into a boring adult.  Of course, I should have seen that coming.  Even when you hung out with the rougher crowd, you always stood up for weak kids whenever somebody started picking on them.  I lost track of how many pathetic wretches you rescued when we were growing up.  Hell, you’re still coming to Harriet’s rescue.”

“What have you got against her?  She had a rough childhood.”

“I know, I know, please don’t go into that old song and dance again.  We’re all adults now.  How long does she get pity for her past?  I’ve struggled too. Where’s my sympathy?”

“Nice try sis.  You created your own problems by constantly rushing headlong into trouble.  No matter how many times you get burned, you still enjoy playing with fire.”

“So, I get bored easily.  I guess to a stick-in-the mud like you, seeking out a little excitement would seem dangerous.  Hey, a police car just pulled up down there.  The door is opening, but the dome light didn’t come on.  I can’t tell how many people are in the car.”

“Give me the binoculars.”

Richard held them up to his eyes and leaned forward eagerly, zooming in on the vehicle.  One person got out.  Richard studied the silhouette.  It was clearly a man. He couldn’t make out anything else.

The figure stepped into the light cast by a street light and Richard was startled to discover that it was Officer Foster.  He cursed under his breath.  Rachel grabbed at the binoculars.  Richard moved back out of her reach.

“What is it Richard?  Is it your old partner?”

“No, it’s that Foster bastard!”

“What a coincidence.”

“It’s not a coincidence.  Don’t you see?  My old partner told him that I’d be there.”

“Oh come on Richard.  That’s a stretch.  Why would he do something like that?  Didn’t you just say Foster is racist?  Well there you go, I can’t Darryl telling Foster anything.”

Richard didn’t respond.  He watched Foster draw his gun and approach the warehouse, find the door locked, make his way along the side of the building, and disappear behind it.  Rachel was still talking but Richard didn’t hear her.  His mind was racing.

Foster walked back around to the front of the building and holstered his gun.  Richard watched him take out his cell phone and make a call.  A moment later, Richard’s cell phone rang.  He looked at the screen.  It was Darryl. Richard shot his sister a triumphant look and took the call, activating the speaker phone.

“Hello?”

“Hey man, it’s Darryl.”

“What’s up?”

“Nothing, just thought I’d see what you got going on tonight.”

“Is that right?”

“Yeah man, if you don’t have any plans…hey wait a minute. I just remembered that you said you were gonna check out that warehouse. You still doing that?”

Rachel interjected before Richard could respond, “You sleazy sonuvabitch! We know you set Richard up.”

Richard waved furiously for her to be quiet and disengaged the speakerphone. He pressed the phone to his ear and for a few moments, all he could hear was his own breathing. Darryl sounded surprised.

“You had me on speakerphone? What’s your sister talking about?”

“Cut the bullshit Darryl. You never were a convincing actor. I can’t believe you would do something like this to me!”

“You got a lot of nerve passing judgement on me. Did you ever stop and think about what happened to me when you left the force?”

“What do you mean? You were friends with half the guys on the force. I knew you’d be fine.”

“Wrong, we hung out but those dudes weren’t my friends. There’s a big difference.”

“You lost me.”

“Just ’cause I watched the game and drank a few beers with them doesn’t mean they could be trusted. Do you know what it’s like to be surrounded by backstabbers and liars?”

“As a matter-of-fact I do. Why do you think I left the force Darryl? It became impossible to tell the good guys apart from the bad guys.”

“That’s the way life is man. Ain’t nothing completely black and white. There’s always gonna be gray areas. But at least when we were partners, we watched each other’s back.”

“See that’s just it Darryl. I started feeling like I was on my own.”

“That’s cold man. How could you say something like that? I’ve always had your back, even when the others tried to talk me out of it.”

“Are you….okay, just for the sake of argument let’s say that’s true. Why stab me in the back tonight?”

“Remember what I said about gray areas? A lot has gone down since you left the force. I got in a jam and Foster helped me out. I owed him.”

“So you were willing to let him shoot me to pay down your debt?”

“What? That wasn’t the agreement. He was just going to confront you. Maybe scare you…”

“Throw me in jail, and make sure I have a record.”

“No man, he wouldn’t…”

“You can’t be that naive! Do you really think that asshole would let me off for breaking and entering with a slap on the wrist and a stern lecture? That’s just insulting!”

Richard abruptly ended the call, not wanting to hear anymore of Darryl’s excuses. He snatched up the binoculars and waited for Foster’s cellphone to ring. The call came and it felt good to see Foster’s consternation as Darryl broke the news. Richard laughed, despite his own irritation.

“What is it Richard?”

“Foster is pissed off. He’s just found out that I won’t be coming out to play tonight. But as enjoyable as it is to disappoint him, it’s a little disturbing that the man is so determined to bring me down.”

“That part makes no sense to me. If Foster hates you so much, why would he wait all these years to come after you?”

“Who knows why hate filled people do anything?”

“No, really Richard. Think about it. You didn’t start having problems with Foster until you started nosing around that warehouse.”

“You may have something there. Foster has always been a little crooked. Maybe someone is paying him to run me off.”

“Exactly…so what’s our next move?”

“Well, since all my troubles started with that warehouse, I say we track down the owner and look into the business that was operating out of that place.”

“How do we do that? You’re not a cop anymore.”

“No, but our brother is an investigative journalist.”