The Case of the Prosecutor: A Short Story (Part II)
Days later, police investigated the source of a second text message sent to the lawyer’s phone, which they traced to a Christopher Colton who lived in the suburbs. Sure enough, the guy also had motive. His father had been tried on a felony charge which included armed robbery and possession of a deadly weapon. And you guessed right. Ryan was the prosecuting lawyer in that case as well. But despite this, the suspect denied any claims of having threatened the lawyer at all.
“I had my beef against the guy in the gray suit. But I also know that what my dad did was wrong. I would never collude to torch someone’s car as a form of revenge, especially that of a legal representative.”
Fingerprints lifted from the missile that had been launched into Avery’s room were run through the database and the results led to the arrest of a third suspect in the ongoing case. This time, it was traced to a criminal who had been recently let out of the local guardhouse on parole after several years spent behind bars for a crime that Ryan had put him away for. Like the suspects before him, Scottie Williams denied the charges, claiming he was not even familiar with the location where the lawyer resided, let alone having anything to do with the midnight attack that was staged there.
Detective Jarvis Turner did some investigation on the two phones they had confiscated from the men and using cell tower triangulation came to the conclusion that both phones had been at the exact same location a week prior. The precise coordinates were determined and they pointed to a central restaurant at the west side of the city.
The detective wasted more time in heading straight to the restaurant and interviewing the staff who were on duty there, two of whom recognized the suspects whose photos he carried with him and recalled having served them there. They had seen each of the two men in the company of the same lady on two different occasions. A forensic artist was immediately assigned to sit with them in order to generate a composite sketch of the lady in the restaurant who had been seen with both men. The waiters tried to describe as much as they could of the features of the unknown woman and what she wore. One of them observed that she was lefthanded.
Further questioning of the suspects concerning this new information led to the admission by Colton and Henderson that they had been contacted separately by a woman online who introduced herself and expressed an interest in starting a relationship with them and this is how each of them ended up in the restaurant. Both admitted they did not hear from the woman again since they first met her in person. A meticulous examination of the internet links and communication that was exchanged between the men and the mysterious lady did not reveal much since the profile she reportedly used had since been erased and she appeared to have used an alias to cover her tracks.
The artist’s sketch of the woman in the restaurant matched the descriptions provided by the suspects. Detective Jarvis probed if both men could recall anything that happened that night which would shed some light on the ongoing case. To his surprise, Garrett stated, “During the course of my conversation with her, she did ask if she could use my phone to urgently page a family member.”
Colton admitted to the same thing when he was later questioned separately. The fact both men recounted the same experience in the restaurant with the same woman eliminated them from being suspects in the detective’s mind. They were just as much as victims as Ryan was.
Following the night scare, both Ryan and Avery were temporarily relocated from their home to a hotel where they stayed under police protection while their home was kept on close watch. Only Jarvis, Warren and the officers knew where they were.
They had what they needed transported to them in the new premises and as the school days were over, Ryan was glad that his daughter at least did not have to leave the premises. The possibility of an abduction haunted him as it would any other parent. To divert his mind away from the situation, he thrust his energies on an upcoming case which involved a tough legal battle between two rival companies each of which stood to lose millions if matters did not move to their favor. But Ryan had prepared his evidence and list of witnesses well. He felt his prosecution’s case was solid.
Ryan received a message confirming that Hans, the officer guarding them at the hotel would be replaced as he had a family emergency to attend to. Later that day when Warren came over to visit, Ryan recounted the details of the ongoing investigation to him and it was obvious that the latter’s interest was heightening by the minute.
Finally, Warren sighed. “Well, it is rather obvious that someone wants you out of the picture pretty fast.”
“And aside from the three who have been apprehended thus far, there is no shortage of potential suspects or members of their clan. It would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.” Then Ryan paused for a moment. “But what if we are looking in the wrong direction altogether?”
“What do you mean?” Warren who had been quietly pacing the carpeted floor came to a halt.
“See despite what the police say, I don’t believe one bit that any of those men are guilty. If you are going to threaten a key prosecutor to such a degree, you would obviously do a much better job of covering your tracks in all matters digital. At the same time, till now, we have just been considering past cases. What if has nothing to do with the past at all?” his eyes moved over the files on his desk.
“Well, before we start jumping to any conclusions, there is foremost the mysterious woman at the restaurant. Has Detective Jarvis or the officers been able to ascertain her identity yet?”
Ryan paused for a moment. When he responded, his voice was solemn.
“I recounted to you general facts concerning the restaurant. The details were only known to the officers and myself. I never mentioned someone met both men there. Or that the unknown person was female.”
Ryan turned his chair around abruptly and stared into the countenance of his colleague. He was trained in body language and what he read there surprised even him.
“You didn’t? Oh well… well, then I had a lucky guess, didn’t I?” Warren let out a chuckle which felt a bit forced, as far as the lawyer was concerned.
The latter was unmoved. He changed the subject momentarily. “How’s your family, Warren?”
“Doing very well, thanks.”
“How about your younger sister?”
“Olivia?" Warren shrugged his shoulders. "I believe she is getting on OK, though it’s been a while since I heard from her.”
“Say, doesn’t Olivia reside on the 57th street?" Ryan responded and then paused for a moment. "And isn’t she left-handed?”
His colleague’s countenance betrayed irritation. “What are you trying to imply?”
“You tell me. What should I be thinking, Warren? What are you not telling me?”
Warren threw up his hands. “Out of a whole city full of lefties---”
“Not all have brothers who understand my schedule and have driven my car in the past. Besides, come to think of it, wasn't I was once involved in a case involving your brother-in-law? The background check we did on him revealed something interesting concerning involvement with explosives."
Ryan leaned back, tapping his fingers against each other.
"Moreover, how would you have known to tie the fact that your sister is left-handed and lives close to the restaurant with this case? The only way would have been if you had information that had not been disclosed by me or by the authorities.”
As he spoke, Ryan watched his colleague closely. Warren did not need to respond. There was something there which gave Ryan all the answers he needed.
The latter presently rose to his feet and now both men stood eye to eye.
Ryan turned and glanced at the buzzer on his desk. It had been set up as a means of alerting the cop outside in case there was an emergency situation.
“I would not bother if I were you. It will do you no good,” Warren advised him in an almost half-whisper. He called out, “Keith, you can come in now!”
The door opened to reveal the armed individual who had been supposedly assigned to protect the prosecutor and his daughter. Ryan recalled that he had met the man on his way up to up to the apartment. He had struck the lawyer as being vaguely familiar though he could not trace where exactly they had met before. But now, here inside the hotel room without his peaked cap and spectacles, Ryan was able to recognize Keith instantly.
The lawyer turned to Warren. “What did you do with Officer Hans?”
Warren gave a chuckle. “I must say, I admire your wits, Ryan. But I’m afraid we have to do what needs to be done. Now, let’s cut to the chase. I’m sure you have met my brother-in-law here before, who by the way was responsible for the incident at your apartment that night with the projected missile and warning note. He also was key in planting evidence which led to the arrest of Scottie Williams. Progress has been made, though things have not gone exactly as we planned them from the beginning.“
“You--” Ryan was furious but struggled to control his emotions as Keith reached for his holster. “How could you, Warren? I trusted you!”
“There was no other way, Ryan. You were going to prosecute them next month, no matter what. And the case filed against them if successful was going to make them lose millions, a chance they could not take. So the company hired me to derail you from the job. Besides, you were the one lawyer whose stellar performance was making scores everywhere, attracting high profile cases as though the rest of us did not exist! Why should all the rich and famous want you on their side in the courts? I had to find a way of tipping the balance somehow - kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.”
“So you came up with the diabolical scheme to divert all attention from yourself and implicate innocent people. You would send the police and investigators on a wild goose chase, while it bought you time to instigate and complete this. What came over you, Warren?”
“A million dollars, Ryan. My sister, her husband and I could not resist the offer. We were going to split it between the three of us. Do you know how many years I would have to slave behind an office desk to come up with that amount of money? Judging from experience, I knew how you could not be trusted to if had brought you in on the deal. You would have spilled the beans straight away without giving the matter a second thought.
“Our assignment was to take you off the case and ensure the trial never took place or if it did, that there would be only one outcome. We planned to infiltrate the crime lab and destroy all the evidence implicating the company. But first, we must relieve you of all the files which are connected to the lawsuit. I would not mind at all taking the leading role as the prosecutor after you are gone, so that I can expertly play the game right into the hands of the defense." The man clasped his hands in pleasure at the thought.
Then Warren continued. “Now, let’s not make matters worse than they already are. We need to behave ourselves as gentlemen and proceed with what needs to be done. As we speak, your daughter lies tied and gagged in the next room. I could not take any chances of her raising the alarm here as she did in my last visit to your apartment, so we had to take care of her first. You already know too much, so Keith is here to ensure we give you some much-needed service. We will make sure what happens here looks like an accident and this time it must be untraceable to either one of us. You have left us no choice Ryan, but to engage the contingency plan.”
“What did you come to my house to retrieve that night, Warren?” The lawyer shot the question at him.
“The file you’ve been working on, of course. I knew I could grab it but I didn’t count on Avery pouncing on me from nowhere like that. I would have exited the place and left both of you on your own had she not gotten to me so quickly.”
Ryan thought of his daughter in the next room. “You should leave Avery out of this, Warren. She is innocent.”
“Is she really? She has already identified us both and that is enough. Don’t worry, Ryan. We’ll try to make it as quick and painless as possible.”
“Detective Jarvis is already closing in on the three of you.” The lawyer responded. “It won’t be long before the truth emerges.”
“As you have shared with me. And by the way, thanks for all the updates you have provided concerning the investigation, it has really helped me to move forward with my plans. We will be taking care of Jarvis shortly, just as we took care of Hans. But first, we need to deal with you and your daughter and then clear out of this place.”
Warren’s voice sounded eerily stern as Max had never heard it before. He was seeing a completely different side to the man he thought was his trusted colleague.
“Quick, tie him up,” he instructed his brother-in-law as he began collecting the files which Ryan had arranged to be brought to him from the office.
All Ryan could think about at this point was his daughter, alone in the next room. What was going through her mind this very moment?
“Look, you don’t have to do this. Whatever they are paying you is not worth inflicting such damage to so many innocent people plus their families.”
Warren was about to answer him when suddenly the hotel phone rang.
Keith and Warren became transfixed for a moment.
It continued ringing.
“You’ve gotta pick it up,” Keith was the first to find his voice.
Finally, Warren reached over and grabbed the receiver. “Yeah?”
“A detective Turner is here to see you Mr. Thornton.” The pleasant voice of the receptionist came sailing through the line in sharp contrast to the circumstances that were playing out in the room.
There was a long pause as Warren reflected on the next move, debating within himself.
“Uh-- well, tell him to come right up. We-- I mean, I have been expecting him.”
Ryan could have shouted, but Keith, who had the lawyer securely fastened to a chair had placed a gag over his mouth.
Ryan did however manage to make some muffled sounds and rock his chair before Keith grabbed him roughly.
“Is everything OK there?” The receptionist’s voice had a different tone to it.
“Everything’s fine madam,” Warren responded. “Please inform the detective he can come up now.”
He replaced the receiver and turned to Keith. “Is the bomb ready?”
The man nodded in response.
“Then we need to leave.” Warren continued. “The detective is on his way and probably thinks something’s up.”
Turning to the gagged lawyer he remarked gleefully, “What a perfect opportunity. Now we have all three of you witnesses exactly where we want you to be.”
As soon as they left the room, Ryan observed a figure at the window. He could see the man was suspended with some sort of climbing gear and as he motioned at the lawyer with his finger pressed against his mouth.
In the lounge, Warren and Keith quickly positioned themselves against both sides of the front door and waited. The plan was to pounce on the detective upon immediately upon entry, incapacitate him and then leave the scene for the explosive to do the rest.
Before they could make a move, the sound of shattering glass came to their ears. Instinctively, they turned around and Keith grabbed at his weapon, but before they could react, the door behind them was flung open and armed FBI agents came streaming into the premises. Another team rushed in from the other side of the suite. They had made entry through a smashed window and now the two conspirators were cornered on both sides.
Back in the study room, Detective Jarvis was busy untying Ryan. The lawyer remarked, “Boy, am I glad to see you. Avery---”
“Don’t worry,” the detective nodded affirmatively. “She’s OK.”
“Jarvis, the woman at the restaurant is Warren’s sister, Olivia. All three of them were in this together.”
“We have men tracking her down as we speak," responded the detective. "First, we found Hans tied up in an abandoned warehouse that was rigged, but fortunately, the bomb squad managed to deactivate the explosives before they went off. He gave us some much-needed information. Later, we checked the surveillance video footage of the hotel and saw both Warren and Keith entering the suite and knew they were up to no good. However, we had to be careful and bid our time as we knew at least one person had a live firearm. Good thing we interrupted this party before it was over.”
As FBI agents led the malefactors away in handcuffs, both detective and lawyer emerged from the room into the lounge.
A blonde teenage girl rushed forward and leaped into Ryan’s arms half-sobbing with relief.
“I was so scared, Dad.” She whispered.
“I know Avery," Ryan responded. "But you’re safe now. It is all over.”