The Voice - Part 26 (Conclusion)
- The Voice - Part 25
The Voice speaks and demands complete obedience. You better pray it doesn't speak to you!
From Part 25
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.
Lance slowed the vehicle as he approached the stop light. Siren still blaring, he made sure the intersection was clear as he zigzagged in and out of traffic and through the intersection. He turned the car sharply into the parking lot at the Lafayette Hilton. Standing outside was a short, round man, balding slightly with a touch of gray. Lance could picture him laughing, and his belly shaking like a bowl full of jelly. But he knew in an instant who he was – Ronald Thompson. The description matched perfectly with the description listed on the fax.
This was the real McCoy. Lance squealed up beside the hotel entrance and hopped out. “Agent Thompson – Detective Lance Fisher. Thank you so much for being involved in this case, and thank you, for meeting with me. What can you tell me about Alex Barto?”
“No, Detective, thank you. I have a personal score to settle with Barto. It will be a pleasure to bring him down. I became acquainted with Barto early on. He has constantly been under the eye of the FBI for various crimes ranging from drug smuggling to murder.
“The FBI had been working on developing time travel technology for quite some time. Barto knew about this, too. Kepler’s the mastermind. Barto’s just your average two-bit thief. He shared his knowledge of the time portal information with Kepler and the rest is history.
“He manipulated his way into the Denver FBI field office. Once inside he was able to steal the plans for the portal. I hate to admit that. He has to be pretty smart to pull something off like that – but he did. Anyway, I was assigned the case. After going over surveillance of the theft, Barto was identified, and I was on him twenty-four hours a day.
“After gathering more evidence, I attempted to arrest him. He got the upper hand, and at gunpoint, took me to an old cabin in the Colorado woods. He worked me over pretty good and stole my identity in the process. He thought he killed me, so he dumped my body over a bridge leading from town. He still thinks I’m dead, but . . .” Thompson proudly raised his hands over his head and turned a complete circle. “. . . as you can see, I’m not. I’m going to nail him, and your police force is going to put away the last of these criminals in the McClanahan case.”
Relief sank into Lance’s emotions. “Mr. Thompson, we’ll take the cruiser back to the station. I have the meeting you requested set up. We’ll grab a quick bite to eat and then head to the station. Hop in!”
By the time Fisher and Thompson arrived at headquarters, the others were already assembled, doing their best to patiently wait. Lance entered the conference room and directed Thompson to the front of the room. “Lady and gentlemen, may I introduce to you the real Ronald Thompson.”
Agent Thompson began at the beginning, just as he did with Lance, and brought them all up to speed on the plan. It would not be easy, but the element of surprise was in their favor.
Thompson continued, “As of yet, Barto doesn’t know about the arrest of Kepler and Powers. He is still expecting his monthly payoff from Kepler. Two days before the payoff is due, Barto utilizes the portal to come to our present. He meets with Kepler to ensure the money will be deposited. Then he returns by the same means on day number twelve of each month to clear it from his bank account. Because the account is in the present, he could not collect it in the future. It necessitates him to come back. You can count on it.”
Amy was the first to speak. “Agent Thompson, how do you know all of this?”
“Oh my dear lady, I’ve been tailing Barto for years. He is so predictable. I know his moves and his schedule better than he does. I assure you, this is what he will do.”
Bobby took his turn. “So all we have to do is to wait by the portal and when he crosses over we grab him, right?”
Lance watched as Thompson’s belly shook like a bowl full of jelly. Thompson was laughing. Lance was laughing, and everyone in the room was laughing. Only Thompson knew why.
“No, my good man. That’s too easy. If he were to be arrested as he entered the present, you’d have no charges. Remember, he like Peter, has committed these crimes in the future. Kepler and Powers, even though just as guilty, did their business in the present. On the other hand, Barto was in the future as he arranged for the murders of these innocent men .He has to commit a crime in the present before he can be arrested in the present”
McGee added, “Extortion – he commits extortion in the present. We got him on that, right?”
“Oh my goodness, son,” Thompson replied. “Extortion – he may get a hefty fine and maybe, just maybe, a few years in the state pen. We’re talking murder. We have to get him off the streets for good – present and future. I hope Peter’s up for this.”
Lance broke in, “Peter, what’s Peter have to do with this?”
Later in the day, Lance and Thompson found themselves heading to Dawson Street. The two were going over the plan one last time before presenting it to Margie and Peter. Lance rang the bell then he stood back.
“Hi, Margie. I’d like you to meet FBI Special Agent Ronald Thompson. Mr. Thompson, Margie McClanahan.”
The pleasantries were exchanged, and Margie invited Lance and Thompson into the living room where Peter was waiting. After more introductions to Peter and some small talk, the men got down to explaining in detail how Barto would be taken down.
Agent Thompson began – “Peter, I won’t lie to you. This has the potential to be very dangerous and there is a certain amount of risk involved. I understand if you’re not willing to participate, but this really is the only way we can get Barto off the streets – in the present as well as in the future.
For the next three hours, the four went over the plan covering every possible scenario. An agreement was made. All there was to do now, was to wait for September 10th, the day Barto would make his move to Lafayette’s present.
For the next week and a half, the entire Lafayette police Department was given over to Agent Thompson. Lance’s prayer was for crime in Lafayette to be at an all-time low during that time. Every man and woman on the small force were needed to pull off the Barto capture. The troop practiced all possible outcomes. It was almost like theater as they went through their respective moves. Rehearsal and much of it was needed to be sure the arrest would go off without a hitch.
The hard part for Margie was to sit back and watch. She was just a spectator to the play, but she knew her son played the leading role. Even though all officers were involved, it would be Peter, who would make or break the case.
Margie tore another page from the desktop calendar on the counter. September 9th – tomorrow would be the day. Mother and son spent a leisurely morning around the house and garden. The afternoon was given over to cleaning and cooking. Margie had invited the entire Lafayette Police Department for the evening meal.
This was to be an act of faith. This was a celebration of finally bringing a close to fourteen years of unrest in everyone’s lives. Certainly, Peter and Margie were affected the most. Lance and Booby had invested much time over the years. But everyone had a part to play. Each one had a stake in the outcome.
The evening turned into yet another night of anticipation. There was plenty of nervous tension to go around as well. Lance remained behind as the other guests left one by one.
“Margie, tomorrow’s the day. Are you going to be okay?”
“Oh, my, Lance. I’ll be just fine.”
Lance looked deep into Margie’s eyes. He could see the uncertainty and fear hidden behind her brave façade. He held her close as all three made their way to the couch. Lance, Margie, and Peter knelt before their makeshift altar and made their requests for safety and a favorable outcome of tomorrow’s efforts. They were assured God heard their prayers and Lance went his way.
September 10th arrived just like any other perfect autumn day. The sky was a brilliant shade of blue with just the right mix of a puffy cloud here and there. The leaves were beginning to turn to the reds, yellows, and oranges of fall. The air was fresh and clean. The Lafayette men in blue were in their place. In approximately a half hour, Alex Barto would be crossing over into the present. An arrest was about to be made.
Lance waited in his gray, Lexus RC convertible about a half block down Jackson from Medford Alley. Marx, McGee, and a new rookie, Rich Wilson, stood across the street from the alley on Jackson pretending to be sharing glances at a cell phone. All three were dressed in plainclothes as was Lance. Chief Gordon and Thompson observed from the seventh story of the National Pride building at the corner of Jackson and Monterey Avenue. Amy Bauer sat quietly by their side. If need be, she would notify the police helicopter to fly in the event Barto got away. Margie sat to her left with a perfect view of the stage that was set.
Peter was wired and the signal was set to go to all officers at all locations. He stood just around the corner on Monterey waiting for his instructions to move forward.
A flash of light nearly went by unnoticed in the bright morning sun. McGee saw it and sent out the word. The portal had opened. Barto was on the move. He momentarily stood in front of Medford Alley’s doorway to the present, then he made a sharp turn to his right, heading down Jackson. Marx, McGee, and Wilson quietly and quickly crossed the street and stood in front of the portal. Barto wouldn’t be going back the same way he came.
Peter was waiting for the word from Thompson. Then he heard it.
“Go! Go! Go!”
Peter came quickly around the corner from his hiding place on Monterey and turned just as sharply on to Jackson. In an instant, Barto was bowled over and held at knifepoint – the same knife Peter had used on the other victims. He pressed the point slowly but deeper into Barto’s neck.
Peter blurted out, “I’ve been watching you! Now – you’re gonna give me answers. Why did you do it? Why did you do it?”
Barto blasted back, “Do what, you crazy kid?”
“Oh Barto, You’ve got it all wrong. I’m not the crazy one, and fourteen years ago I became a man. Why did you kill Jesse Allen?”
“Oh, come on, McClanahan! I didn’t kill him. You did. Remember? Now, get off me.”
Peter pressed the knife further into Barto’s neck. “Remember the last time I had you like this, Barto? On the other side of the portal? I’ve killed before and I have no problem doing it again – TO YOU!” The knife brought a drop of blood from Barto’s neck. “I’m asking you again – nicely. WHY DID YOU KILL THAT POOR, INNOCENT KID?
“You didn’t even use any originality. You had to make it look like I did it. The cops are after me for that one, but I’m not taking the fall for you. Now tell me why?”
Peter forced his knee hard into Barto’s abdomen and added just enough pressure to the slow, bleeding wound on Barto’s neck. “If I’m going to go to Death Row, I’m going to do it for a crime I committed, not one of yours. The knife went further into Barto’s neck.
“Okay! Okay! Look, man. That stupid kid was nothing but trouble. He was playing with that stupid ball and I tripped over him. He could have caused some serious injury. His stupid mother just laughed. She didn’t do a thing to correct him. So I did.”
“You did what, Barto, and it better be believable!”
“I corrected him. I corrected him good. He’ll never bother anyone again – and why shouldn’t I have made it look like you did it? One more stupid murder on your stupid list wasn’t a big thing. Like you said, you killed before. Who cares who killed the stupid kid? The important thing is he’s dead.”
“And you did it, right?”
“Oh yeah, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
Thompson heard enough. He began his walk down the hall to the elevator. Chief sent out the orders through the earpieces supplied to each officer.
“Lance, get yourself down there. Thompson will meet you for the arrest. Peter. hold your man. Help is on the way. Oh, and Amy, get the helicopter up and running, just in case.”
Peter continued to add pressure to the knife and to Barto’s pudgy midsection with his knee. Lance and Thompson made their way to the scene and stood over Barto looking down. Thompson spoke. “Alex Barto, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have a right to an attorney. If you can not afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Cuff him, Fisher!”
As Lance was administering Barto’s final blow by cuffing him, a police cruiser pulled up. Within the hour Barto was being processed in the county jail. Soon, his home would be the state penitentiary with the address of Death Row for the murder of Jesse Allen. Further investigating also found him guilty of the murder of Officer Chris Shields. Raymond Kepler was given life in prison without the possibility of parole for his part in the Lafayette murders. Marissa Powers received the same. And Doctor Cloyd Bonard – well, he suffered a heart attack during the proceedings and consequently passed away with no charges being filed.
Bobby, Wilson, McGee, and Amy all went their way and continued to increase in rank. The closure allowed Peter and Margie to heal and Margie and Lance were married shortly thereafter.
What seemed like a long morning was, in reality, very short. Long because everyone was exhausted. Short because nobody was minding the time. The smoothness of the arrest was noticed by all and congratulations were in order for all who participated.
Lance drove Margie and Peter home. Margie went about getting some sandwiches made for a well-deservedch while Peter and Lance sat in the living room full of smiles.
“Peter, you did a fine job this morning. It’s all over now. We can put The Voice to rest . . . but I do have two questions.”
Peter could see the concern in Lance’s eyes. “Which would be what?” He ventured.
"The cocaine? Where did it come from?"
"Oh, that's easy. Barto handed it off ontheother side of the portal at Kepler's command. Next question?"
“Your future trial. Powers is the prosecuting attorney. And you’re on trial for murder. This isn’t really over, is it?”
“Of course, it is.” Peter sported a sheepish grin. “Can I call you Dad?”
Lance threw a pillow his way. “No, now just answer my question.”
“Two things happened that night when you entered the portal with me. You had things so off balance. Neither the past nor the future was accurate portrayals of what was or will be. Just bits and pieces here and there.
“But the other thing is this. The past can’t be changed. The past at one time was our future and depended on the choices we made then. It’s a done deal. Our future today is dependent upon the choices we make today. It can be changed as we wish. It’s in relation to the choices we make now what will happen tomorrow. The only thing that’s sure is the present. That’s all we have. The choices made today will put Marissa Powers, Kepler, Bonard, and of course, Alex Barto away for a long time – for the rest of their lives.
“You and me – we made choices, too. Choices to be active in bringing them to justice. Choices regarding the importance of right or wrong, good or evil. Choices to be determined and committed to seeing this thing through for fourteen years. . . ”
Margie cut in. Boys, lunch is ready. Come and get it!”
It was a race to see who got to the table first.
I actually had three different endings for this story. Please take the poll below and let me know which one you think works best. I appreciate you all as you have read through The Voice with me. Thank you for your constructive feedback as well as your encouragement.
The Voice - Endings
Which ending do you feel works best for the story?
© 2016 William Kovacic