Chapter Sixteen (Part Two)
“He’s got ten minutes,” Trip reminds him, looking pointedly at her watch. “Chill, Mowgli. I’m going to check on our friend next door.” She slips out of the room and enters next door where she left O’Reilly. He is apparently sleeping or resting or dead. “Hey, Caleb,” Trip says, poking O’Reilly’s bloodied temple with her finger. “You still with us?” His eyes fly open and dilate in terror. There is a strong smell of urine and shit, and the skin around the makeshift gag in his mouth is chafed. “Still with us, I see.” Trip prods his temple again, and he flinches away from her. “I’ll be back, big guy.” Trip salutes O’Reilly, turns off the lights, and leave the room. She isn’t worried about him being found because she’s left explicit instructions that the room not be entered during her stay. A crisp hundred dollar bill had ensured that her request would be honored. She goes back into the room where she’s to meet the mayor.
“Well?” Mowgli is puffing on a cigarette, even though it’s a non-smoking room. He ashes on the floor, not seeming to notice or care.
“He’s still with us,” Trip says, holding out her hand. Mowgli hands over the cigarettes with reluctance. “You don’t smoke,” Trip states, sliding a Camel out of the pack.
“I do now,” Mowgli says simply, sucking on his cigarette as if it were an oxygen tube. Five minutes later, there is a knock on the door.
“Show time,” Trip says, stubbing out her cigarette in a glass. She opens the door cautiously, making sure it’s just the mayor and Andretti; it is. “Welcome, Mr. Mayor,” Trip says, gesturing the mayor to enter. “DiCalvo,” she adds, staring hard at the man who is the cause of her misery.
“Andretti,” he corrects her nervously, his face already sweating. “Lucien Andretti.”
“I believe you have something of mine,” Davies says coolly, looking at her in disdain. He is taller and skinnier than he appears on television, well over six-feet with no spare fat to be seen. His skin is the color of mahogany, and his black hair is streaked with gray, but neatly clipped. It’s hard to see his eyes behind the Ray-Bans he’s wearing, but the best bet would be that they’re not smiling. He is wearing a suit, and he looks around him in contempt as he steps into the room.
“If you don’t mind, my partner will search you,” Trip says, just as coolly and with three times the disdain. “We don’t want to be caught off-guard.”
“It’s your show,” Davies says, holding out his arms. Mowgli pats him down before doing a thorough check on Andretti. Both turn up clean. Without asking, Davies sits in a chair and waits to hear what Trip has to say. Andretti stands behind his boss, doing a grotesque imitation of an Italian mob goon. Trip decides to stand to give herself the edge. “Now, let’s see what you’ve got.” The benevolent mayor is nowhere in sight; in his place is an exceedingly angry man who has much to lose. “I don’t pay for shoddy goods.” Trip stares at him for a minute without saying anything before pulling something out of her coat pocket. She drops it in his lap. It’s a photocopy of a picture of O’Reilly with a nine-year-old Korean girl, and it’s grim.
“What does this have to do with me?” Davies studies the picture and hands it back to Trip who accepts it with no expression on her face. “It’s most unfortunate that he’s my attorney, but I have no say over him. He will certainly be let go after this—rest assured.”
“Let’s cut the crap, Davies, shall we?” Trip sighs theatrically, placing the picture back into her bag. “O’Reilly told you about the disc we have of you. You are definitely involved.”
“Let’s see it. I have to make sure it’s authentic, you see,” Davies says, holding out his hand. Despite the coolness of his voice, his hand is trembling slightly.
“I got something even better.” Trip pulls out still from the disc, staggered ten minutes apart. There are ten in all. “Look here, Sam,” Trip says, fanning the pictures. “Look really closely.” She suddenly grabs Davies by the back of his head and grinds his face into the photos. Andretti starts, but Mowgli easily restrains him. “Look familiar, asshole? Brings back memories, you sick motherfucker! How does it feel to be looking at your dead daughter?”
“What?” Andretti chokes out, struggling in Mowgli’s death-grip. “That’s what—you mean—what?”
“You didn’t know, Andretti? You didn’t know that five years ago, this man killed his eight-year old daughter after he’d been diddling her? That he raped her, strangled her, and disposed of her body?” Trip asks mockingly. Andretti is staring at her, his face a study in horror. “You didn’t know that this whole fucking set-up was to cover-up that particular crime?”
“I didn’t—I wouldn’t have—no,” Andretti whimpers, going limp. His shock appears authentic, but then again, he also almost had Trip fooled when they first met.
“What, did he tell you it was about the factory girls in Mexico? Or the other girls he had you kidnap so he could rape them? He didn’t mention Kendra to you?” I pull out my Smith & Wesson and shove it under the soft part of Davies’s chin. “You didn’t tell him, you sick fuck, about strangling your own daughter?” Without taking my eyes off Davies who has remained silent, I toss a handful of the pictures at Mowgli who picks them up off the floor, dragging Andretti with him. “Show him, Mowgli,” I order harshly, jabbing the gun further into Davies’s neck. I take off the safety and cock the gun. “You did it, didn’t you?”
“What can I say?” Davies says, his shoulders sagging infinitesimally. “You’re the one with the gun pointed at me.” So far, he’s refused to look at the pictures I have left in my hand. I knock off his sunglasses and bring the one of him strangling his daughter right up into his face.
“Look at this, asshole,” Trip hisses as Davies tries to look away. “You kept the damn disc; you can certainly look at a few photos.”
“I didn’t keep the disc,” Davies shouts at me. “What kind of sicko do you think I am? O’Reilly had the DVD; I didn’t even know that session had been taped.” Trip refrains from telling him exactly what kind of sicko she thinks he is and focuses on his words.
“You didn’t have the DVD?” Trip is amazed, but doesn’t let on. “You didn’t know it was being made? How can that be?” Davies is silent so Trip jabs the gun further into his flesh. He lets out a yelp and begins babbling.
“My wife was out of town, but I still had my boys, Sam Jr. and Eddie. The nanny was there. I couldn’t, you know, at home so I took Kendra over to Caleb’s house. He has a playroom in his basement. I didn’t know he taped us until—later. I needed his help, anyway to clean up the mess so it didn’t really matter. But he kept the disc, said he had it in safekeeping. Hah.” The mayor’s voice is bitter and distressed at the same time. “I never saw the disc, but that bitch, Blanche, certainly watched it after she stole it from Caleb.”
“Well, someone watched it more than once,” Trip insists, remembering the skip.
“It must have been Caleb,” Davies says, closing his eyes. “He liked to watch.”
“You told the press that your daughter was kidnapped,” Trip seethes, her rage escalating. “You had the police scouring all of San Francisco for her!”
“At least I didn’t say it was a black man who took her,” Davies says, trying to secure points for himself. When he sees it isn’t going to fly, he whines, “I had to tell them something. What else could I do? Nelson was a big help.” Charles Nelson is the chief of police and fellow pedophile. Trip just bet he was a big help. “Then my wife, she, you know, flipped when she got home and found out that Kendra was gone.”
“Patricia,” Andretti says in horror. “My God, Sam, what she went through. You did that to her!” He isn’t struggling any longer, not since viewing the pictures Mowgli thrust into his face. “You piece of shit!” Andretti’s voice is angry. “How the hell could you do that to Patricia?”
“You’re not in a position to talk, Lucien,” Davies says coldly, leveling Andretti with a glare. “It’s not as if your hands are lily-white. That’s why you set this whole thing up, remember?”
“I didn’t have nothing to do with any of that San Francisco shit!” Andretti storms, his voice rising. “And I sure as hell didn’t have any part of this! You’re one sick bastard, Sam!” Mowgli looks as if he’s eaten a lemon as he stares down at Andretti.
“Shut up, Lucien,” Davies spits out the name as if it’s a curse. “This is not the time nor the place.”
“This never was about Mexico, was it? The whole fucking time I’ve been covering for you, and you did this to your own daughter. To Patricia!” If Trip had to make an educated guess, she would say that Andretti cared more for Patricia than he did for Davies. “This is why you killed Blanche and the others. This is why you made me hire this bitch in the first place with some trumped-up story—to save your own sorry ass.” Davies looks as if he wants to fight with Andretti, but the latter is on a roll. “You wouldn’t give a shit if everybody else but you went down, would you? If all the evidence didn’t include you, you wouldn’t have lifted a damn finger to save O’Reilly or Nelson or the others or me, would you?” By now, Andretti is shouting at Davies who seems to be tuning Andretti out.
“Answer the man when he’s talking to you,” Trip says harshly, prodding him some more just because she can. It feels damn good, so she pokes him some more. He doesn’t seem to enjoy it as much as she does.
“I would have done everything possible to shield you,” Davies says through gritted teeth. Beads of perspiration are popping up on his forehead at an alarming rate.
Mowgli is watching the scene dispassionately, his gun still tucked into the small of his back. Andretti is a small man who doesn’t need much subduing, but Mowgli isn’t dropping his guard. His grip is firm, and he has his eyes firmly glued on the smaller man. He cannot refrain from glaring at Andretti. Even if Andretti had nothing to do with the actual rapes and tortures of those poor girls, he had been the one to procure the kidnapped girls or at least to transport them so in Mowgli’s eyes, he’s just as damnable as the other men. Mowgli, defender of the weak, is itching to put Andretti out of commission, out of principle if nothing else. He hopes that Andretti gives him a reason to pull his gun. Mowgli tries to suppress the thought, but it keeps dancing in the forefront of his mind. He is a pacifist, but he thinks dying a slow, painful death is too easy for these assholes.
“How much?” Davies asks bluntly, casually crossing his legs. Trip has to give him credit for his aplomb, even if she’s eager to break both his kneecaps. “I have my checkbook with me.”
“How could you do it?” Andretti says, looking at Davies as if he doesn’t know him, as if he never knew him. “How could you? Your own daughter?”
“She wouldn’t stop crying,” Davies explodes, pounding the chair with his fist.
“Don’t move, you prick,” Trip says, pulling out a pair of handcuffs from her bag. It’s a struggle to put them on him when only one of her hands is free, but she manages to shackle his hands behind his back.
“After I—had sex with her, she wouldn’t stop crying. I told her I’d get her ice cream. I didn’t know she’d make such a fuss—she never did before.” A sliver of distress shows in his eyes, but he quickly shuts it off.
“You never actually fucked her before, did you?” Trip asks, jamming the gun so hard into the mayor’s neck he rears his head back. “That’s why she was crying, you son of a bitch. You took her virginity then you killed her.” Trip can’t get the image of that little girl’s face streaked with tears out of her mind.
“I couldn’t let her, she wouldn’t stop, I knew she’d tell. I couldn’t let her tell,” Davies says, his voice panicked. “I worked hard to make it as mayor of San Francisco, and I’ve done many good things for this city. Do you honestly think anyone else could have accomplished as much as I have the last two terms?”
“That’s not the point, Sam,” Trip says softly, her face inches from his. “You raped and killed your eight-year old daughter. Kendra. You made a zombie out of her mother. Patricia. Who knows what the hell you’ve done to your boys? Sam Jr. and Eddie.” Each time she utters a name, Davies flinches.
“I had to do it,” Davies says softly, tears filling his eyes. The tears he is crying, however, are only for himself. “Can’t you understand that?”
“You sorry son of a bitch,” Andretti explodes, trying to escape from Mowgli. Mowgli is too quick for Andretti, however, and refuses to let go. “I didn’t say anything when you hurt those girls, but this? This is just too fucking much! I want to cut a deal.”
“No deals for Lucien,” Trip smirks, pointing her gun at Andretti just to see him twitch. “No deal for any of you baby-fuckers. You both don’t understand that I’m head nigger in charge.” Davies visibly flinches at that, but holds his tongue. Trip has her eyes fastened on his face and refuses to look away. Davies either can’t or won’t meet her eyes, so she has to hold his chin in her hand in order to stare into his eyes.
“Leave me alone,” Davies whines, trying to free himself. “What have I ever done to you?” Trip deliberately backhands him across the face, following it up with a quick slap. The sound of flesh on flesh is so satisfying, she does it again.
“You fucking set me up to take the rap for three murders, asshole,” Trip replies, slapping the mayor again. His lip is beginning to puff from the repeated abuse. “If you had your way, I would be in a cell somewhere waiting to be gassed to death. This is called justice, Sam, so don’t play that innocent with me.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Davies says virtuously. “I had nothing to do with the murders. I admit that things got a bit out of hand with my daughter, but I had nothing to do with these murders.” Trip chuckles, albeit without mirth. You have to give the mayor credit for chutzpah. Even as fucked as he is, he can’t resist trying to squirm out of the mess. Well, why the hell not? His other option is to admit the horrible things he’s done and face the death penalty for sure. Incredible as it sounds, he may actually escape it as it stands because no one cared about some black girl getting killed.
“Come on,” Trip says, grabbing Davies and pulling him to his feet.
“Where are you taking me? I’ll scream.”
“You do, and I’ll start tossing these pictures around like they’re confetti,” Trip snaps, not interested in playing his game any more. She pokes her head out the door and after ensuring that the coast is clear, hustles Davies next door. Mowgli is hot on her trail with Andretti in tow.
“What the?” Davies exclaims as Trip flips on the light, displaying O’Reilly in all his glory.
“Caleb, you awake?” Trip says mockingly. “I’ve brought you company.” She pushes Davies into a chair before approaching O’Reilly who is staring at her with dull eyes. She rips the gag out of his mouth as well as the socks.
“Oh, God, please, I need a doctor,” O’Reilly groans as soon as she removes the gag. “And some water.” His face is ashen, and the stench is growing. Gone is his arrogance and any charm he might have possessed. He has been reduced to a mass of nerves, ready to cringe at any movement on Trip’s part. Her lips curve into a smile at the sight of him trembling, but her triumph is tinged with scorn. She would have thought a man as tough as he was would be able to withstand a bit longer before giving in.
“Look who’s here!” She pushes forward the mayor who isn’t looking so hot himself. “Your friend, Sam. And Lucien, too!” She nods to Mowgli who gives Andretti a not-so-gentle push that starts him howling again. The three men refuse to look at each other, their fear palpable.
“What more do you want from me?” O’Reilly moans, thrashing fretfully. “I already told you I’d give you all my money.” His words are coming out slowly, as if he has to think carefully to produce each one. “If you’re going to turn us into the police, just do it now!”
“Stop sniveling, Caleb. Nobody likes a whiner.” Trip shoves her gun into her jeans after making sure she put the safety back on. She looks at the raggedy band of men and feels her anger rising. How many years did they get away with terrorizing little girls? How many families have suffered because of them? The damnedest thing is that none of them display any remorse for their victims—only for the fact that they had gotten caught.
“This is all your fucking fault, Caleb,” Sam mutters, venom in his voice. “If you hadn’t taped me, I wouldn’t be in this kind of trouble.”
“Will you get off that tip?” Trip says impatiently. She’s had enough of the mayor’s blaming. “You’re the one who organized all this—everything. You’re the one who had Blanche as a mistress. You’re the one who sicced Andretti on me. It’s all your fucking fault, Sam,” Trip mimics Davies’s whiny tone. She shifts to a more business-like tone. “All right. I’ve had enough of the banter. It’s been fun and all, but it’s time to end this thing.” She pulls out her gun and points it at the mayor’s temple. O’Reilly and Andretti turn white whereas Mowgli watches with no expression on his face.
“How much?” Davies asks, breathing heavily. “If you give me a couple days, I can get you around five mill.”
“Boy, it certainly pays to be the mayor, doesn’t it?” Trip asks, raising an eyebrow. “I bet if the IRS looked closely, they’d find some interesting business deals.” She turns to Andretti who is like a stone in Mowgli’s grip. “What about you, Lucien? How much can you get me?”
“Close to a million,” Andretti says immediately.
“And you, Caleb? You said you’d give me all your money. How much is that?”
“Um, four or five million,” O’Reilly says after a minute of calculation. “Just say the word, and it’s all yours.”
“Of course, we’d get all the evidence in exchange,” Davies says desperately. “We value our privacy, you see.” He’s quiet for a second, then adds, “And I’d remain mayor.”
“Not asking for much, are you, Sam?” Trip says admiringly. “I think you and the boys would be getting the better end of the bargain. Seems to me a set-up like yours is worth more than five million. Don’t you think so, Mowgli?”
“Especially when it’s cut two ways,” Mowgli agrees. The others have forgotten that he’s there and jump as he speaks.
“OK, OK, I could get you perhaps six or seven,” Davies says, his tone urgent.
“Just like that, Sam?” Trip says mildly, rapping the mayor’s head with the gun. “You pull out another couple mill just like that? Seems suspicious to me. What do you think, Mowgli?”
“Fucking suspicious,” Mowgli growls. He’s a gentle bear until roused, then he’s fearsome. “Makes me think the mayor is holding out on us.”
“What about it, Sam? You holding out on us?” Trip takes off the safety and jams the gun back at the mayor’s temple. He looks as if he’s going to pass out in fright. “Think if I pistol-whipped you a couple time, you might be able to come up with another couple million? What about I call your wife and ask her how much you’re worth? Patricia, right? I call her right up and say, ‘Hey, Mrs. Mayor, how much is your husband’s sorry-assed life worth?’ What do you think she’d tell me, Sam? Think she’d even want your black ass back?”
“My wife loves me,” Davies says with an attempt at dignity. “She believes in me.”
“Don’t you dare talk about Patricia,” Andretti exclaims, his face turning purple. “You’ve put her through hell and back, you asshole.”
“You were right there with me,” Davies snaps, his nerves frayed. “I didn’t hear you objecting to those cushy bonuses I gave you for keeping your fat mouth shut!”
“It’s going to kill her,” Andretti mutters, shaking his head back and forth. “She’s a ghost as it is, Sam. This is simply going to kill her.”
“How much, Mr. Mayor?” Trip asks, her voice like ice. “How much are you worth?”
“I can’t tell you exactly,” Davies says helplessly. “My accountant—”
“Give me a ballpark figure,” Trip interrupts her lips set in a thin line.
“Um, fifteen million or so,” Davies mumbles. “But that’s not cash, you understand.”
“Poor Patricia,” Andretti mourns, his face looking dour. “She deserved better than you, Sam. You stole her from me, anyway!”
“Touching, Lucien, the ever-faithful servant,” Davies sneers. “No fucking backbone. That’s why she dumped you. And you were no good in the sack.”
“I’ll kick your ass!” Andretti hollers.
“Fuck it, Del.” Mowgli says, the first time he’s spoken without having being addressed by Trip. He gives Andretti a good shake to calm him down. “Get on with it—I’m sick of this bullshit.”
“You’re right, Mowgli,” Trip says. “I’m being self-indulgent. You see, boys, I don’t want your fucking money; I want revenge. The question is, who goes first?” She points the gun at the mayor who shrinks away from her in dismay. “The mayor? Nah, I think I’ll save you for last.” She whirls around and strides over to Andretti who is still muttering under his breath. “Lucien? No, I can’t do you yet. I want to make you suffer for what you put me through.” Calmly, she shoots him through the shoulder. He gives out a yelp and doubles over, but Mowgli maintains a firm grip on him. “Pussy,” Trip says in disdain before striding over to the bed. “I guess that leaves you, Caleb.” She stares down at the lawyer who is a complete wreck by this point. “Guess what, pretty boy? You lose. This is for all my Asian sisters.” She points the gun right between his eyes and pulls back the trigger.
“Please, please, one request,” O’Reilly whimpers between clamped lips. “May I have a glass of water? I really need it.” Trip doesn’t point out that he’s not going to need it in a minute.
“I guess I can grant a dying man’s last request.” Trip chuckles as she goes to the bathroom to fill a glass of water for O’Reilly. As soon as she leaves the room, she hears cacophony from the bedroom.
“Del! Get out here!” Mowgli shouts just as a shot rings out in the room. “Now, goddamn it!” Trip drops the glass which bounces off the floor, her gun raised. Andretti and Mowgli are rolling around on the floor, blood spattering around them. O’Reilly is yanking on his hands while the mayor is at the door, trying to open it with his hands behind him. Trip aims her gun at the duo on the floor, but knows that she’s not that good a shot.
“Goddamn it, Mowgli, clear!” Trip shouts, her gun trained on the pair. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees the mayor has turned around and is working on the door backwards. She clubs him on the temple with her gun, and he topples over. She turns her attention back to Andretti and Mowgli who are still grappling, though it looks as if Andretti is getting the upper-hand. She can’t spot the gun, nor does she know who’s been shot. Just then, there is a commotion outside the door which then proceeds to explode into little bits. Not really, but it seems that way. A host of cops storm the room, led by the one in the paper. They step over the mayor as if he’s merely deadwood. What was the detective’s name? Beauchamps? No. Trip can’t remember, but it’s irrelevant.
“Freeze,” he shouts, his gun trained on the grappling duo. They freeze immediately and separate, both holding their hands in the air.
“It’s about time,” croaks Andretti, groaning dramatically. He’s holding his right shoulder to stem the bleeding. “Arrest these two, please. They are holding us under false pretenses.”
“I don’t think so,” the detective says, his gun holding steady on Andretti.
“Mowgli, are you all right?” Trip hurries to Mowgli’s side, certain that he’s been shot.
“Fine,” Mowgli growls, glaring at Andretti. “The asshole took me by surprise, that’s all. Grabbed my gun and managed to squeeze off a shot before I knocked it out of his hand. Fucker’s a lousy shot.”
“Please, I need water,” O’Reilly croaks from his position on the bed, but no one pays attention.
“Get the hell out of here,” Beauregard snaps at Mowgli and Trip. “I’ll talk to you later.”
“But, but, but,” Trip protests as Mowgli pushes her out of the room, only stopping to scoop up his gun. “No!” Trip yells, her hands clenched in anger. “This isn’t how it’s supposed to end.”
“Keep your voice down,” Mowgli hisses, dragging Trip into the hallway. “We’re out of here.”
“No! I was supposed to shoot the motherfuckers.” Trip is resisting the whole way, but Mowgli is stronger and simply drags Trip down the hallway. She quiets down as they exit the hotel and get into her car—him on the driver’s side. Once the car is started, however, she finds her voice. “You lied to me, Mowgli.” Her dark eyes are fastened on his face, enormous in displaying her hurt. “You told the cops everything, didn’t you? Somehow, you were wired up to them. That’s how they knew.”
“We needed them,” Mowgli says simply. “They needed us. I got you your confrontation, but I wasn’t going to let you go to jail for murder.”
“We had a plan,” Trip reminds Mowgli, her lower lip pushed out in a pout. “We were going to make it look like Andretti had killed O’Reilly and the mayor and then himself.”
“Come on, Del,” Mowgli says impatiently, taking his eyes off the road for a second. “It’s not as if we’re professionals. We would have fucked it up somehow. Besides, you’re not a killer, not really. You don’t even like guns.” Trip doesn’t respond because she’s still pissed. She may not like guns, but she liked girl killers even less.
“I would have killed him” Trip says softly, her eyes flinty. “I would have shot the motherfucker right in the temple and not lose any sleep over it.”
“I know,” Mowgli says with a sigh. “That’s part of the reason I called in the police.”
“They were going to come in before I killed any of them, weren’t they?” Trip says in resignation. It does no good to be angry at Mowgli now.
“Yes.” There is no more to say as they drive back to the hotel. Silently, they each breathe a sigh of relief; their nightmare is over.