The Voice - Part 25
- The Voice - Part 24
The Voice speaks and demands complete obedience. You better pray it doesn't speak to you!
From Part 24
“Okay! Okay! You have me going in circles. But Peter, this is an awful lot to expect anyone to believe. You understand that, don’t you?”
“Oh, absolutely. I’m not sure I understand it all.”
Chief added, “I have to make sure you’re telling the truth, and not just trying to cover up for your crimes. You understand that as well, right?”
Peter nodded. “There’s still something you’re not getting, right Chief?”
“Peter, how did you get back in this time period? You said Kepler led you out, but this time, Barto destroyed the transmitter. You couldn’t hear Kepler if your life depended on it. How do you explain that? Because honestly Peter, your story doesn’t line up.”
“Oh, okay. I see where you’re coming from. I could have been back to the present a lot earlier, but I knew this. Barto wanted his money from Kepler. I just had to keep my eye on him, and I knew he’d eventually lead me back in time. I watched him like a hawk and he never knew it.
“Any other questions from anyone?”
Peter waited a few seconds with no takers. “Good. It’s been a long trip. I’m going up to bed. I’ve been so looking forward to sleeping in my own bed again.”
Chief looked at his watch. “Lance, I hate to tell you this, but it’s time we get to the station. With the information Peter gave us, you’ll not need a search warrant, just an arrest warrant. It’s going be a long day, but in the end, it will be worth it. Let’s get to it.”
Margie watched as Lance drove down the street, then she climbed the stairs for a much needed and long awaited sleep. Exhaustion set in, but she never felt better knowing her son was safe – and knowing there was a wedding to prepare for. Her dreams turned sweet as she and Peter slept the morning away.
Unfortunately, that would not be the case for Lance. Plans had to be made to make the arrests on Kepler, Bonard, Barto, and Powers. Their network of evil was too closely knit. The arrests had to be timed to take all by surprise. The possibility of a tip-off was too great and too much work had been put into the case over many years to watch it go sour now.
The morning briefing centered on the forthcoming arrests. With very little time to organize the sting, Chief began, “Fisher, you’re on Kepler. He opens his office at 9:00. Take him before he starts his day. Marx, your man is Bonard. He worked the night shift at the ER. He should be easy. He’ll be tired from the night just like some of us.”
The remark wasn’t appreciated by Lance.
The Arrests Are Made
“McGee, you’ll have to take Powers. She’ll be entering the courthouse about 8:30. Make sure you control the situation. She can be a handful. Keep focused and don’t let her wiggle out of this one.
The department was short staffed without losing Shields, but his absence made things especially difficult. There weren’t enough officers to go around. The McClanahan case wasn’t the only case happening.
Lance spoke up. “Chief, what about Barto?”
“What about him? He’s yours, too. You’ll have to move fast. If he tried to contact either Powers or Kepler, and they don’t respond, he may put two and two together. Get Kepler in here as fast as you can, then hit the road for Barto. I want this done by 9:30 – smooth and fast. Any questions?”
Chief may as well have been talking to an empty room. The silence was annoying.
“Go get ‘em!”
Officer McGee, Detective Fisher, and Detective Marx were out the door in a flash and on the streets.
At approximately 7:55, Bonard arrived home from another exhausting night at the emergency room. Bobby cut him off as he attempted to drive into the garage. Number one was down.
McGee took his place just inside the courthouse door to the right. Like clockwork, Marissa Powers arrived at 8:30 on the dot, to start another day of corruption. She jumped at the surprise of finding Office McGee in her face.
“What are you doing? Get out of my way, you punk cop!”
McGee shot back with, “You have the right to remain silent . . .” which she did. Half of the four was successfully brought in.
Next, it was Lance’s turn. There had already been nearly an hour separating the first arrest and the anticipated arrest of Raymond Kepler. Now a slow drizzle began to fall making the roads slick and not as easy to maneuver. It also slowed the pace of the pursuit slightly. Lance’s only hope was that no one was attempting to communicate. Silence and unanswered voicemails could create a potential problem – a problem that could ruin the case forever.
Apparently, that was not the case as an unsuspecting Kepler trotted up to the entrance to his office. Once inside, Lance was right behind him and had him under control before he was able to unlock his office door. Another one bites the dust.
Lance sped off with Kepler secured in the back seat. He radioed for help,if any was available. Hopefully someone could meet him at the station and continue to process Kepler while he went after Barto. He was so very much looking forward to taking in Barto. He had a long-standing score to settle with McClanahan-Barto-Thompson-Frommson. This made the last fourteen years of the investigation worthwhile in Lance’s mind.
He squealed the cruiser as he pulled into the police headquarter’s parking lot. Bobby was back and ready to take Kepler off Lance’s hands as he went off to gather in the fourth and final suspect.
The Perfect Crime
Seeing Barto’s car was parked in the driveway, Lance parked a few doors down from Barto’s residence. Quietly stepping up on the porch, he rattled the metal door knocker. The face on the knocker seemed to stare back at Lance, taunting him. Then he heard the back door slam.
He kicked it into high gear and flew around the left side of the house just in time to see Barto jump the hedge in the back yard. The chase was on. The rain began to fall harder and the grass gave no traction. Barto felll down. Lance knew this was his chance. He dove for Barto, but Alex did a fast roll to the right and was up and running leaving Lance sprawled on the wet turf.
Lance refused to take it lying down - literally. In a split second, he was back up and in hot pursuit. While he was running, he radioed in to get some backup. Bobby was just finishing up with Kepler and was out the door and on his way like a stroke of lightning. Lance tried to keep Bobby up on their location, but it was slowing Lance down. His only hope was that Bobby would find them before it was too late.
Barto headed down Worthington, gaining distance on a tired Lance. Lance took a short cut through a back yard or two and came face to face with Barto. Just then Bobby pulled up. “Hey, Lance. Everything under control?”
Hearing his name, Lance turned around. Barto pushed past him and the chase was on again. Due to the heavy traffic on Worthington Street, Bobby had difficulty getting the cruiser turned around. Even with the siren wailing and the lights flashing, there was very little he could do. This was rush hour at its best.
Barto turned sharply on Jackson Street, but Lance was in overdrive and gaining on him second by second. As the two approached the intersection of Jackson and Medford Alley, Lance reached for Barto’s jacket. Alex made the turn into Medford Alley. A flash of light appeared, and Alex was gone – somewhere in the future. Lance was left standing in the rain holding Barto’s jacket.
Bobby skidded to a stop. “Lance, are you okay? A beyond weary Detective Fisher turned and looked deep into Bobby’s eyes, “No.”
“Come on, buddy. Hop in. I’ll take you back to get your vehicle. Then we’ll give Chief the bad news. I guess Amy was wrong. She said there was no such thing as the perfect crime. I think Barto just pulled it off.”
As they reached the precinct, Lance realized for the first time how much stress he had been under; up with Peter all night, taking in criminals in the early morning, and allowing one to get away was almost more than Lance could handle. It wasn’t even that one got away, but it was which one that bothered Lance. Lance had vowed early on to bring in Barto. Now his last chance had been missed.
Chief understood the boys gave it their best shot, but he was also disappointed, realizing the chance to nab all four had been lost. Marx tried to lighten up the situation. “Well, you know Chief, three out of four ain’t bad.”
“Marx, you dumbo! It’s two out of three – two out of three ain’t bad.”
“Well then, we really did good. Three out of four is seven percent higher than two out of three.”
Chief’s jaw dropped. “What did you just say? Oh, never mind. This is going nowhere.”
Chief and Lance gave Bobby a disgusting look. “Okay, okay. I get it. guys. I’m going back to work.” Bobby shook his head and walked back to his cubicle.
Chief continued to talk with Lance.”I’m sorry, Lance. I know how important it was for you to bring in Barto, but you know Bobby is right. He’s the only one to get away. We still have Powers, Bonard, and of course, the main man, Kepler. You did it right!. Take the rest of the day off. Go get some rest. We can finally put this case to rest after all these years.
Appreciative of Chief’s gesture, Lance set out for Montgomery Park and the bench that he swore had his name on it. Sitting comfortably in the late morning sun, his thoughts shifted to Margie. He began another dialogue with himself. “I ought to let Margie know what’s going on. She’ll be sorry we missed Barto, too.”
The other side of Lance answered, “What do you mean we missed Barto? You missed him – period. Don’t try to get out of this one.”
“Maybe if Bobby hadn’t called my name when I had Barto standing right in front of me?”
“You know any good cop would have nailed him – no matter what. Get real, Fisher. You let Chief down. You let the boys down. You let Margie down. You let Peter down. So tell me Fisher, who’s the real dumbo?”
Lance stood and stretched, then walked a little further down the path. He remembered the time he saw Barto and Peter just up around the bend in the trail. He wished he had that opportunity now, but it wasn’t forthcoming. He found another bench and proceeded to mope in self-pity.
“Why God, why didn’t you stop him? You could have, You know. So tell me, why didn’t You? You just let a hardened criminal escape into the future. Why?”
Tears of self-pity. Tears of anger. Tears of confusion. Lance didn’t know. He was so engulfed in his private world of pain, he didn’t even realize Margie was standing behind him rubbing his shoulders.
“Lance, Lance.” He looked up as Margie made her way around the bench. She sat down and took his hand. “What’s going on? How can I help?”
“Margie, what are you doing here?”
“I just felt the Lord wanted me to take a walk in Montgomery Park. Now I know why.” She looked closely at Lance and repeated her question.
Lance sighed as he began. “We lost Barto. We got the other three, but Barto got away into the future. I chased him down to Medford Alley. I should have known what he was trying to do.”
“Which was what?”
“Get to the Alley to take the time portal to the future. He’s safe there, and he knows it! I let everybody down, but especially you and Peter. Why? Why didn’t God stop him? He was right in front of me. I should have had him. Why, Margie? Why?”
“Why? Why does it matter? It is what it is. God has his number. He knows how to handle Mr. Barto. But why? Maybe so you can get over yourself. Maybe to show you that you don’t have things under control. Maybe to show you just how much you need Him.”
Margie squared her eyes on his and gently smiled. “Besides, three out of four ain’t bad. Let’s go over to the house.” She knew there would be no wedding plans this day.
Lance stopped by Bobby’s cubicle with a question.”Do you think if I were to go through the portal at Medford Alley, I could find Barto? Do you think I could safely bring him back?”
“Nope. He’s gone, Lance. Just get over it. We have other work to do as well as get the McClanahan case ready for the jury. I know how you feel, but . . . “
“But wouldn’t it be nice to see all four of them pay for what they’ve done?”
“Oh, it would be nice, but it isn’t going to happen. Face it, Buddy. Barto pulled off the perfect crime. Besides, he controls the time portal. It’s not there at Medford Alley right now. It’s only operable if Barto puts it into place. And right now, he’s on the other side, out of harm’s way – safe as safe can be.”
Lance scratched his head and walked away. His mind was working overtime. “Amy says there is no such thing as the perfect crime. But I just saw Barto pull it off. Who’s right?” Lance was on the phone.
“Amy, answer me a question. You said there’s no such thing as a perfect crime –right? How do you explain Barto?”
“Well, I’m not sure I can, but I’m working on it. I’m in the process of redeeming myself. It wasn’t you who let him get away, Lance. It was me. I brought him into the picture.”
“No. He was in the picture from the very beginning. I just want so bad to nail this guy.”
“I know, Lance. Let me think this over. I’ll get back to you.”
Lance turned, with his head down, and slowly walked back to his desk. There were indeed new cases that demanded Lance’s attention, but he couldn’t clear his mind to work on them. Every time he tried, he found his mind thinking about Barto.
A trip to the break room didn’t help. A short walk around the block didn’t help. He had no choice but to force himself to focus. Carrying his now empty coffee cup, moping, he went back to his cubicle.
He leaned back in his chair. His feet found the familiar corner of his desk and with arms resting behind his head, he looked skyward.
“Lord, please help me. I can’t get Barto out of my mind, but there’s nothing I can do to bring him in either. Please help me get back to the work you have for me today.”
He closed his eyes, just for a moment, and let out a low sigh. He could hear the fax machine chugging away down the hall. He could also hear the hurried footsteps of Detective Robert Marx running down the hall. Bobby grabbed the corner of Lance’s cubicle to bring him to a stop.
“Lance! Lance! This just came in.” Bobby threw the latest fax on Lance’s desk. A rather lengthy document addressed to the Lafayette Police Department in general and to Lance in particular. it read in part:
Because of the nature of the McClanahan case, it was necessary for me to work behind the scenes. This case is not over as many might expect. On the 12th of this month, Alex Barto is expecting his regular 10,000 dollar deposit from Kepler. He will have to enter your present to obtain it. Know that he will be entering Lafayette on that date via the Medford Alley time portal. Time unspecified.
The fax was signed by FBI Special Agent Ronald Thompson.
Lance’s energy returned. “Bobby, get Chief and McGee. Call Amy Bauer. Have them meet me at the conference room at 1:30.” Lance and Bobby were running in different directions; Bobby to Chief’s office, Lance to meet with Ronald Thompson.
Running purely on adrenaline, Lance hopped into his cruiser, lights flashing and sped off to meet the FBI agent that was thought to have been murdered. The fax seemed legitimate, but Lance had to be sure.
You can relax. Only one more chapter to go!
- The Voice - Part 26 (Conclusion)
The Voice speaks and demands complete obedience. You better pray it doesn't speak to you!