Nora paid cash for the room. Now that it was confirmed that we had dirty cops looking for us we didn’t want to do anything that could leave a trail. Luckily for us Nora was a planner. She’d made up a “go bag” a few nights before and left it in the cab of the truck just in case we ever needed to take off in a hurry. The bag had a change of clothes for each of us, a couple of bottles of water, a hundred dollars in cash, and a burner phone. Luckily for me I’d also thought to stick my cane in there as well before we’d gone to bed. I almost left without it the morning before and hadn’t wanted to forget it again. I’m not a morning person.
After we took turns taking a shower and getting into fresh clothes we had a pow wow to discuss our next move. “I hate to say this Nor, but maybe we should go to your dad.”
She shook her head emphatically. “No, we can’t do that until we have more to go on. We don’t know who else is involved or how high it goes. What if we tell him and he says something to the wrong person? They could go under and we’d never know who was involved. Besides that, it could put him in danger too.”
I couldn’t deny the logic. “Okay, so our goal is to find out which cops are involved. If we can do that then we can take it to your dad and let him clean house.”
She nodded. “So we go to the one source we know of that most likely has that information, or can point us at someone who does.”
We both said it at the same time. “Danes.”
On our return trip to Potosi Correctional we decided to go with the direct approach this time and just barge in on the guy. Unfortunately, it was still a maximum security prison and that meant we were going in unarmed… sort of. The guards gave me the stink eye when they saw my cane but I wasn’t in the mood to take any shit. Nora flashed her badge and I showed the nearest guard my consultant I.D. “I’m working with the police on a murder investigation and I need this cane in order to walk.” I handed him the laminated card from my wallet. “This shows that I have metal implants in my left leg.”
The guard grunted and took the cane, then gestured for me to step through the metal detector. Of course, it beeped at me, so they went to work with their little magic wand. It beeped at my waist so I lifted my shirt. “Belt buckle”.
The guard grunted again and gave me back my cane. Nora went through without an issue and we went straight for Dane’s office. We were sure the guards called ahead and let him know we were coming, but that was okay. Even if he did call in backup with his dirty cop buddies it’d take them at least an hour to get out there, and that was more than enough time for us.
We let ourselves into his office and were disappointed to find that he wasn’t there. “Well, that’s a bit anticlimatic. I guess we’re waiting.”
“You know he won’t be coming alone.”
Nora took position off to the side while I planted my fat ass right on top of his desk purely to piss him off. Danes showed up a few minutes later with two of the biggest brutes I’ve ever seen. They were dressed in guard uniforms and following like obedient dogs. He stepped through the door and sneered when he saw me on his desk.
I threw him a mock salute. “Hey there, chief. We had a few more questions for you.”
He glanced aside at Nora and then back at me. “You’re either extremely brave or extremely stupid to come back here after what went on yesterday.” He spread his hands and grinned. “Either way, I should thank you because you just made me a very rich man.”
His muscle chuckled from behind him. I arched an eyebrow. “Oh? How so?”
“There’s a lot of people looking for you two. You’re a very hot commodity right now.”
Nora’s voice came out cold and steady. “With whom?”
Danes chuckled again and wagged a finger at her. “At-ah. I don’t think so honey. You’ll be meeting up with them soon enough. Right now hows about you come over here and take ah seat with your friend there.”
Nora’s smile was frosty. After the night we’d had she’d been looking for an excuse to cut loose a bit. “Or, how about I come over there, kick your ass and make you tell me what I want to know.”
All three men started to laugh heartily now. I smiled along with them, silently wishing that I had some popcorn. When he sobered enough to speak Danes made a “come on” motion with his left hand. “Sure sweetheart. Show me what’cha got. We got ah little time to kill.”
A lot of people underestimate Nora. She’s short, cute, and looks like she should be a soccer mom or a kindergarten teacher. But when she’s angry, when she’s in the zone, she is one of the scariest people that I’ve ever met. When she moved, she was barely a blur. One moment she was standing nonchalant beside the desk, the next she was already on Danes and had his outstretched left arm in a hold that sent him tumbling over her shoulder and to the floor.
It took Dane’s muscle a second to catch on, but Burley #1 planted a meaty hand on her shoulder, which she promptly gripped, elbowed him in the ribs a few times, and then gave him the same treatment she had to his employer seconds before. This had the happy side effect of sending all two hundred and sixty some-odd pounds of beefy muscle right on top of the security chief struggling to get back to his feet. Both men let out a groan and were down for the immediate future.
Burley #2 was a little quicker on the uptake and took a few steps back, putting some distance between them, and he had his hands up in a guard like a boxer. Nora was game, and the grin on her face was absolutely predatory. Nora ducked a jab, followed by a right hook, and then an upper cut. Burley was getting more frustrated every time he hit nothing but air, and his swings were getting sloppier. Eventually she got tired of playing with him. She side-stepped another jab, knocked the arm away, and sent a palm thrust into the man’s nose. There was a loud pop, a spurt of blood, and Burley #2 staggered backwards. Nora followed up with a swift kick to the jewels, which dropped the man to the floor with a squeak.
By that time Burley #1 and Danes had untangled themselves and started to get to their feet. They both had their nightsticks drawn and were cautiously stalking towards her. Nora glanced at me and held out a hand. “Cane!”
I tossed it to her with a grin, and she thanked me with a wink. She twirled it in her hands a few times like Jackie Chan, and then motioned for them to bring it. Burley #1 was the first sucker to take the bait and he charged at her, nightstick raised like he intended to brain her with it. Nora did the last thing any of us expected her to- instead of meeting him stick to stick, she hurled the cane like Captain America with his shield and caught the man across the legs. He tripped and fell face-first to the floor. Nora kicked out with a hiking boot as his head rebounded off of the tile and connected with his temple, sending him off to la-la land.
Danes was next. He approached cautiously, knowing better than to underestimate her now. He held the nightstick by the smaller jutted out handle, so that the length of the stick ran along his forearm. He jabbed at her, but she ducked away. He swatted at her a few more times, never connecting but coming uncomfortably closer with each swing. The length of the fight combined with the lack of sleep was starting to take its toll on her. With Dane’s last strike he caught her in the stomach with a woof, but Nora managed to grip his nightstick and arm between hers as she doubled over. She lashed out with a palm thrust in the same way that she had with Burley #2, but Danes flinched back at the last second so he took it on the chin rather than on the nose. Nora twisted and ripped the nightstick from his hands and then kicked out with a sidekick that caught the man full in the chest and sent him staggering backwards until he rebounded off of the wall.
“I think that’s good enough, Nor.”
I pushed off of the desk and walked over to her. She was breathing hard and her hair was a mess, but a fire still burned in her eyes as she stared Danes down. He was clutching at his ribs. Nora’s kick must have caught one or two. Good.
I made eye contact with him. “Whadda ya say, chief? You ready to tell us what we want to know?”
Like a gentleman, he hocked a loogie at my feet. “Go to hell, fatass. I ain’t saying shit.”
I sighed. “How disappointing. Here, Nora. I got you a present.”
I handed her the stun gun that I’d taken from a drawer in Dane’s desk. Nora dropped Dane’s nightstick with a thud and took the offered weapon. She grinned mischievously as she aimed the little red targeting light at his chest.
Danes snorted. “What, you think ah little shock is gonna make me talk, sweetness?” He slapped at his chest and opened his arms like he was offering a hug. “Go ahead, bitch! Do it!”
The red dot slowly started drifting downwards until it stopped at his crotch. Dane’s eyes bulged and his former confidence gave way to fear. “Woah, now. Wait ah minute!”
Nora is an excellent shot. The two prongs leapt from their compartment and hit dead-on. Danes dropped to the ground and flopped like fish as Nora pulled the trigger. When she let go I bent down next to him. “We want names! Tell us who’s running the show!”
Nora pulled the trigger again and Danes made a pained squeak that made me wince. When she let off I tried again. “Tell us or she’ll hit you again. Who’s in charge?! Who’s involved?!”
He growled incoherently so Nora pulled the trigger again and he stiffened. When she let off he slumped, too exhausted to do anything more than moan. “Give me a name!”
“Brennan! Captain Jack Brennan! Please…please stop…”
I looked back at Nora and she looked pale. I walked over to her and whispered in her ear. “Who is he?”
“Captain in charge of narcotics. My dad plays golf with him every Friday. They say he’s next in line to take over when my dad retires. Shit, Nick. This is bad. We have to take Danes in. We have to get his statement on record.”
I nodded, bent over Burley #1, and pulled a pair of handcuffs from his belt. I walked over to Danes while Nora covered me. It didn’t look like he could fight a kitten at that point, much less give me any trouble. Still, no sense in taking chances. I got his hands cuffed behind his back and spoke down to him. “You’re going to take a little ride with us back to the station and you’re going to say what you just told us, on the record.”
I shook my head. “No, see, I don’t think you get it. Brennan has already had two cops killed to hide his little secret. You think he’s going to think twice about putting a bullet in your sorry ass to keep you quiet?”
“He knows I’m no rat! I’m family! Brennan is my uncle, and when his men gets here he’s gonna to take you and your little bitch over there, and then you’re both going ta disappear.”
Nora yanked on the two cables attached to the stun gun and Danes yelped as the two prongs were ripped from the tender flesh. She tossed the gun away, picked the nightstick back up, and then pressed the point of it to Danes’ throat. “No, that’s not how this will play out. See, when we get to the car I’m going to get on the radio and let every cop that’s listening know that you just ratted out the traitor in the department and that we’re bringing you in. Brennan may get to us first, but he sure as hell isn’t going to let you skate away, family or not. The only way that you’re getting out of this with your balls intact, more or less, is if you cooperate and score yourself protective custody. Now get your ass up!”
We did a perp walk through the halls of Potosi Correctional with their chief of security handcuffed and looking like he’d just been used as a chew toy. As we walked past the chapel Father Michael stuck his head out, took in the scene, and gave me a nod. “Mr. Taft! It looks like you’ve been busy.”
I winked. “Just doing my part to make things a bit better, Father. Thank you for your…guidance.”
He smiled faintly. “You’re very welcome.” His gaze flicked to Danes and his expression darkened. “There is more than enough evil in this world. I’m glad that you’ve managed to remove even a small piece of it.”
Before I could reply his head disappeared and the door closed.
The guards at the security station looked like they were going to be a problem until Nora flashed them her badge and growled, “Make one fucking move and you’ll be serving time here right next to him.”
They both held up their hands and backed away as we stepped through the metal detector. I waved with my cane as we headed out the door. “Thank you for your cooperation!”
We made it through the door and almost to the truck when for the second time that week someone cold cocked me from behind and my world went dark.