Warning Warning: I am able to write to the configuration file: /var/chroot/home/content/83/5452483/html/catalog/includes/configure.php. This is a potential security risk - please set the right user permissions on this file.
Warning Warning: The downloadable products directory does not exist: /home/content/h/a/i/haiderrobert/html/catalog/download/. Downloadable products will not work until this directory is valid.
Categories
What's New?
Prisoners of Paris
Prisoners of Paris
$2.99
Information
Top » Catalog » Novels » » The Game Begins (Sample Chapters)
$0.00
Sample Chapters The Game Begins

(Note: This full length novel is available for the NOOK through Barnes and Noble.com, for the Kindle through Amazon,com and your favorite store for iPad books along with free previews at each of those sites. On this website it is available only in Adobe Acrobat PDF form.)

Prologue

Chicago, Illinois

Alan Holt trembled. Despite a howling February wind that stung his face with the sharpness of icy daggers, the shirt beneath his coat was soaked in nervous, terrified sweat as he eyed the gun leveled at his chest.

Through the darkness he saw the faint outline of his assailant’s goatee and thick-rimmed eyeglasses, as recognition slowly registered in Alan’s eyes. He swallowed hard, the terror gripping his throat in a stranglehold that restricted his voice to a stammer. “I…I…saw you…in…the bar!”

His assailant flashed a haughty, sickly smile as he casually removed a wig, his eyeglasses, and peeled off the goatee. The enigmatic man stepped forward within the soft pale of a streetlight that cast a sinister, shadowy veil across his face.

“I don’t think being seen will be any problem at all,” he smirked in self-assured arrogance, as he raised his weapon higher.

In a microsecond the barrel emitted a yellow-white flash but before Alan Holt’s brain could register color, his limp body fell to the frozen turf of the vacant lot.

Chapter 1

Disbelief flashed across Sharon Barton’s sleepy face as the illuminated numerals of a clock radio stared at her in the pre-dawn darkness. Her husband was bent over the side of the bed tying his shoes, as she said groggily, “I didn’t think you were serious. You shouldn’t start running all of a sudden. You need to ease into jogging by taking long walks.”

“I’m not gonna sprint through the neighborhood,” Cy Barton answered. “I’m just gonna jog.”

“This from a man whose idea of exercise up to now has been turning the ignition key,” she shook her head. “Suit yourself, but you’d better bundle up. It’s cold out there.”

“No problem,” he said, as he headed downstairs. The six foot, two inch Chicago homicide detective hadn’t paid attention to his weight until a recent physical exam. He was astounded when the nurse continuously moved the metal square to the right past the two hundred thirty pound mark, two forty, and two fifty until the scale finally balanced at two hundred, fifty-five pounds. He vowed he would shed twenty-five pounds---quickly.

Fifteen minutes later Sharon was in the kitchen making coffee when Cy hobbled into the house. “What happened?” she asked with pointed sarcasm.

“Hamstring,” he answered grasping the back of his thigh as he pulled out a chair and clumsily sat down.

“You’d better go soak yourself in a hot bath.”

" Cy repeatedly shook his head. “I don’t want to move right now,” he replied, as he rubbed the back of his leg. “What are you doing up?”

“Couldn’t get back to sleep…thanks for that,” Sharon smirked.

“Oh, sorry, Sweetie,” he replied in the affectionate way he often addressed his wife. “Is the coffee ready yet?”

Sharon was already on her way toward him with a cup. “Maybe this’ll wake you up, make you realize you’re not twenty-five years old anymore.”

“I don’t need coffee for that. I have you to remind me,” he smiled weakly, as he took the cup and quickly sipped the steaming brew.

The intrusion of a ringing telephone surprised them, but as the wife of a homicide detective, Sharon didn’t wonder why a call came at such an early hour, as she reached for the phone. “Hello?”

“I’m sorry about the hour, Sharon. Is Cy there?”

“Oh, hello Steve, yes, the walking wounded is sitting right here,” she said, as she handed Cy the phone.

“What is it, Crawford?” he barked into the phone.

“Well, good morning to you too, Lieutenant. What was that about the walking wounded?”

“Nothin’,” he cut him off abruptly. “What’s up?”

Barton listened, as his partner Sergeant Steve Crawford relayed the details of what he knew thus far.

“Would you mind swinging by the house to pick me up?” Barton asked.

“Not at all,” Crawford answered. “What’s the matter, car on the fritz?”

“It’s not the car.”

“Oh, well, I’ll be there in twenty, thirty minutes.”

“That’s fine. I need to shower and shave.”

Cy handed the phone back to Sharon as he struggled to his feet. “I’ve got to go in.”

“Yeah, I gathered that,” she said, as she watched her husband arise out of his chair move gingerly down the hallway and slowly ascend the stairs…all the while shaking her head at him.

Chapter 2

As Steve Crawford arrived, Lieutenant Barton limped out of the house down the front walk and climbed into the passenger’s seat.

“What the hell happened to you?”

“My ass hurts! What’s it to you?” Barton snapped, as he buckled his seat belt. “Let’s get going.”

After a couple of years partnering with Barton, Crawford knew when not to engage in small talk, as he eased the car from the curb and headed toward their destination.

Over the past ten years, Chicago averaged more than seven hundred murders per annum. Last year’s figure was down to six hundred and thirty, of which only three hundred forty-five were cleared---a paltry Fifty-four percent---which happened to be the average percentage cleared during the past ten years on Chicago murder cases and was thus the benchmark for each area office. Barton once surmised if he were in business and accurate to only fifty-four percent of a shipping forecast he’d be out of a job the first quarter. But in homicide beat 54% and city hall would stay off your ass. Slip below fifty-four percent and you might see a new commander in your Area Headquarters not to mention a delay on promotions.

Barton noted they were heading away from Lake Michigan where a bright orange sun was just now peaking above the horizon.

When the detectives arrived at the scene, they were greeted by the revolving lights of a police car.

“Looks, like we’re in the right place,” Crawford commented.

“You’re a helluva detective, Crawford,” Barton deadpanned. “I guess I’ve taught you well.”

“Nah, we learned to recognize the revolving lights of a police car in Homicide 101 in college.”

“Good curriculum.”

As Crawford eased the car to a stop, he saw the yellow police tape was in place. “Homicide 102, Lieutenant,” he said, as he flipped off the ignition, “the crime scene is cordoned off.”

“This is pretty far out,” said Barton, referring to the location just inside the western boundary of their area office.

Chicago is divided into twenty-five police districts, and those districts are organized into larger units called areas. Each area has five districts and each of the five area offices has a homicide division. Lieutenant Barton and Sergeant Crawford operated out of Area 3 which comprised the 18th, 19th, 20th, 23rd, and 24th districts.

Area 3 stretches from Lake Michigan on the East to the north branch of the Chicago River on the West, from Navy Pier on the southern edge of district eighteen, to the boundary of the city of Evanston at the northern most point of district twenty-four.

As the detectives exited the car, they stepped into the icy Chicago wind. Though the temperature was 31 degrees, the wind chill made it feel like five. Lake Michigan which generally warmed the city in the winter didn’t help in this wind.

As they walked across a vacant lot, the frozen turf crackled beneath their feet with each step they took.

The coroner, Brad Langley was at the scene attending to his preliminary examination when Barton’s long-time colleague looked up and saw the limping detective approach.

“What happened to you, Lieutenant?”

“Nothin’,” he barked. “What have you got, Brad?” asked Barton, as he gazed down at the lifeless body and saw frozen blood on the victim’s clothes.

“One body, male Caucasian,” Brad stated the obvious. “Shot once in the forehead at close range. There’s an exit wound in the back of his head, so we don’t have a bullet for ballistics unless you can find it somewhere around here.”

As Brad was speaking, Barton eyed the lifeless body and the stubs that had once been hands.

“Was he tortured?” Barton asked.

“No,” Brad answered immediately, “there’d be more blood if that were the case. The victim’s fingers and thumbs were cutoff after he was dead.”

As Barton and Crawford scanned the general area around the body for the severed digits, Brad pointed out, “The killer took those with him.”

A knot formed in Barton’s gut whenever human trophies were involved in a crime scene. “You’re sure the fingers were severed after he was killed?” Barton asked.

“Yeah, there’s blood here,” Brad pointed, “as there always would be when a limb or digit is severed from the body, but, if this guy had been alive at the time his fingers were removed, they’d be pulsating and spurting a helluva lot more blood than what’s here.”

“Okay,” Barton nodded in acknowledgement, and turned to one of the officers at the scene. “How was the body discovered?”

The officer motioned to a man seated in the back of a police car with his dog. “Guy was walking his dog. Says he takes his dog to this vacant lot all the time. When he saw the body he immediately phoned it in,” the officer shivered, as he crossed his arms and hunched his shoulders in a feeble attempt at protection from the wind.

“Cold,” said Barton matter-of-factly without sympathy.

“Almost as frigid as my ex-wife,” the officer commented.

Barton ignored the officer’s feeble attempt at humor.

As Barton bent down for a closer look at the body, a sharp pain knifed through him. “Damn!” he yelled out, as he grabbed for the back of his thigh and grimaced.

Crawford reached out to assist him but Barton waved him away.

Steve glanced toward Brad Langley, shrugged his shoulders, and offered, “The best I can figure is he woke up on the wrong side of his ass this morning.”

“I’m not amused, Crawford!” said Barton, as he slowly got down on one knee, and asked, “Has the victim been checked for robbery?”

“Yes, sir,” the officer replied. “There’s no wallet, no ID of any kind.”

Barton viewed the corpse and examined the wound---a small wound in the forehead which did virtually no damage to the victim’s facial features.

“Well, I doubt the killer was trying to cover the victim’s identity by taking his ID and his fingers or he would have done more to his face,” murmured Barton, as he looked at the ground around the victim’s hands.

“Looks like marks left by a knife as if the killer was chopping carrots,” said Barton, as he arose slowly out of his crouch and winced. “I want everything checked from the tags on his coat and slacks to those on his underwear. Maybe we can find out where they were purchased and find out if anyone remembers this guy.”

Crawford scribbled in a small notebook.

As Barton got to his feet, he stared at the body on the frozen dirt, the victim’s eyes staring lifelessly into a now bright February sky. The crusty, detective had seen more than his share of dead bodies in his twenty-five years in homicide and though he couldn’t help this man, maybe he could find the one who did this to him.

Noticing the length of time Barton stared at the corpse, Crawford asked, “Lieutenant?

“54% closure is fucking pathetic!” Barton thought, as he wondered if he and Crawford would beat those percentages. He always wondered about those percentages on every new case that came their way. Without looking up, he mused, “A person wakes up in the morning, wipes the sleep from his eyes, has his morning coffee, and goes about his day. A murder victim never knows the finality of everything he does.”

Steve Crawford shifted uneasily from one foot to another not knowing quite how to respond.

“When I see the young ones I wonder how much more time a murder victim would’ve had---if the son of a bitch who killed him hadn’t done so. I wonder how much time was taken from this man.”

Crawford was seeing a side of Barton he hadn’t experienced during their time as partners. Barton hadn’t spoken like this at any previous crime scene, and Crawford thought it might be because of his sister who was gravely ill. Perhaps her mortality, everyone’s mortality, was on his mind.

Barton caught himself ruminating and abruptly snapped out of it. “Let’s talk to the guy who found the body.”

An officer gestured to the man to exit the squad car as Barton and Crawford approached.

“I’m Lieutenant Barton,” he said, showing his badge, “and this is Sergeant Crawford. We understand you found the body. What’s your name?”

“My name Hadeous Madeo,” he answered in a thick Eastern European accent.

“That’s quite an accent. Where are you from, originally?”

“Serbia.”

“You’re on holiday?”

“No. Live now in Chicago.”

“And what do you do, Mr. Madeo?”

“I teach the English. I teach the immigrants from Serbia and other Europeans who come to America. I teach them the English, yah.”

Crawford glanced away to hide a grin.

“I see,” said Barton. “You must live nearby if you were walking your dog on such a cold morning.”

Hadeous Madeo turned and pointed. “I live, small apartment, there. I here come, walk dog. Dog finds body.”

“Did you see anyone, Mr. Madeo?”

“No. I see body only.”

“Do you recognize the victim?” asked Crawford.

“Re…cognize?” he repeated slowly.

“Is the victim someone from your neighborhood, someone you’ve seen before? He is someone from your apartment building perhaps?” Barton clarified.

He shook his head, “No. May go now?”

“Do we have his address and phone number?” Barton asked the officer.

“Yes, sir,” the officer replied.

“Very well, you may go, Mr. Madeo.”

As Hadeous Madeo departed, Crawford asked, “What do you make of it, Lieutenant?”

“This was no simple robbery,” Barton shook his head, his face reflecting a look of grave concern. “It takes time to sever fingers and that’s something your run of the mill thief wouldn’t take the time to do.”

Chapter 3

The detectives spent the remainder of the morning canvassing the vicinity, while every thirty minutes or so they jumped into their car to warm their bones. By the time they were heading back to the Area 3 office on Belmont Avenue it was noon, and Barton instructed Crawford to slow down.

“Turn in there,” he pointed.

Crawford shook his head. “I thought you said last week you were going on a diet?”

“Never mind, they’ve got a special on double cheeseburgers. Go through the drive through. We’ll eat back at the Area.”

“You know, if you didn’t eat this stuff, you wouldn’t need to diet in the first place.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” said Barton as if complaining.

When they arrived at Area 3, Barton dove into his double cheeseburger with the zest of someone granted special dispensation from the dieting gods, while he noticed Crawford was eating a salad. “You ever chomp down on anything of any substance?”

“I’ll take that to mean meat---yeah, sometimes for dinner,” said Crawford.

“It doesn’t really matter what you eat,” said Barton.

“Oh?”

“Yeah, it’s all in the genes. Whatever your parents had, you’ll likely have. It’s passed down from one generation to the next. Not much you can do about that. If your parents have poor hearing and eyesight, you’ll likely suffer the same problems.”

“So, you’ve been reading those medical journals again, hey, Lieutenant?”

“Don’t get me started on those medical boys. They’re always changing their minds about something. Take water for example. They said drink eight glasses of water a day, and then they do a one eighty and say that’s too much and causes water intoxication of the kidneys. You watch, someday they’ll say too much salad and not enough meat is bad for you.”

“Mind if I ask what your cholesterol level is, Lieutenant?”

Barton smiled widely. “It’s down each of the last three years…from 218 to 209, down to 203, and now at 197.”

Bewildered, Crawford shook his head.

“Like I said, Kid, it’s in the genes.”

As Barton finished his lunch, he abruptly changed gears. “We’ll get a picture of the victim to every patrolman until we find someone who’s seen him.”

Checks on the victim’s clothes came up empty as the labels were carried by nearly every department store in Chicago, while police officers in the field canvassed the bars, restaurants, and apartment buildings and also came up empty.

It was nearly five o’clock when an officer carrying an 8 1/2 by 11-inch manila envelope approached the detectives. “This came by messenger marked to your attention, Lieutenant.”

Barton took it and noticed the absence of any return address. He grabbed a letter opener from his desk, cut through the flap, and turned the envelope upside down.

Out spilled several fingers and a couple of thumbs.

“Shit!” gasped Crawford, as he jumped to his feet.

“Go, Crawford!” yelled Barton, as the Sergeant raced from his desk in the hope of grabbing the messenger before he was out of the building.

“Ruthy,” Barton yelled to a female officer. “Get the lab boys up here, now!”

On the sidewalk across the street from the Area 3 Headquarters, Michael O’Keefe stood in a doorway and watched Sergeant Crawford rush out of the building. O’Keefe smiled knowingly as he turned and casually walked down the sidewalk chuckling as he went.

When Crawford returned to his desk, he gestured with a quick shake of his head he’d been unsuccessful in catching whoever delivered the envelope.

Chapter 4

As Barton stared at the bloody digits on his desk, a previous case from many years ago came to mind which also involved severed fingers. On that case he contacted Trevor Dorsch, the professor as he was called---a monogram acquired after developing an expertise on organized crime. They met at Salvatore’s restaurant on Chestnut Street just east of Michigan Avenue, and though it was Barton’s first year as a homicide detective, he recalled the meeting very clearly…

When Barton arrived at Salvatorie’s steak house, he went to the bar and ordered a beer. It was early and the Saturday night dinner rush had not yet arrived, but the scent of savory charcoaled steaks permeated the restaurant and bar area. The setting reminded him of a jazz club, a perception enhanced by a low ceiling, subdued lighting, and several speakers strategically placed that emitted the soothing sound of soft jazz.

When Trevor Dorsch arrived, he greeted Barton by saying, “I assume besides the dinner the drinks are on you.”

“Aren’t they always?”

Trevor motioned to the bartender, “Vodka rocks…and a couple of blue cheese olives.”

Trevor Dorsch was in his forties then. He was prematurely bald on top so he let the hair on the sides grow out until it touched his shoulders. To Barton’s eye it appeared to be a desperate attempt to hold onto his youth, and consequently Trevor achieved somewhat the reverse---he looked comical, and in fact appeared older than his years.

The bartender approached with Trevor’s drink, which he grabbed immediately and took a quick gulp.

“Oh, these always taste so much better when someone else is buying.”

When Trevor heard a Sinatra song through an overhead speaker, he commented. “Fitting I picked this place for us to meet, if you’re seeking information on The Outfit. Here’s to organized crime, may it rise from the ashes once again in some form or another so I can become even wealthier.”

Barton didn’t join him in the toast, but replied, “Organized crime is capitalism’s greatest curse. Perhaps you’ll be writing another book soon but for now…”

“Yeah, I’ve made a lot of money writing about the mob. People are fascinated with stories about organized crime. They eat that shit up as fast as I can write them. By the way, I’ve never asked. You ever read my books?”

“I have a vested interest in staying informed. I’ve read ’em all, professor.”

“Well, I’ve made a few bucks off you, haven’t I?” he laughed heartily.

Barton shook his head, “Library card.”

“Fuckin’ libraries, they get ’em at a discount, you know.”

“Look, what I want to know is---has anyone in the mob tried to send a message recently?”

“What kind of a message?”

“Severed fingers,” Barton stipulated.

Without hesitation Trevor Dorsch shook his head. “Nah, there’s no message in severed fingers per se. Fingers are for pain. The mob separates some poor slob from his digits when they want information or if they want him to suffer after he’s committed some unpardonable sin---like skimming something for himself. Only after the victim has suffered do they kill him, but the cutting always comes first,” said Trevor, as he took another sip of his drink and continued. “I hear it’s excruciatingly painful and the sadistic ones make a monstrous game of it. One mobster ordered each finger cut in pieces, a knuckle at a time, to inflict that much more pain,” said the professor, as he emptied his glass and waved to the bartender for another…

Barton returned from his remembrance and a deep concern washed over him. He’d felt something in his gut since he first arrived at the murder scene this morning. As the day progressed that feeling gnawed at him, and as he continued to stare at the severed fingers, he knew the worst case scenario was a reality---and it didn’t involve the Chicago Outfit.

Barton realized he was still holding the envelope, and though emptied of its macabre contents he looked inside and within the bubble wrapped lining saw what appeared to be a sheet of paper.

Rather than trying to slide the paper out, he grabbed a pair of scissors from his desk drawer, carefully cut along the four edges and when the envelope was completely separated from itself, he lifted off the top of the envelope.

“Son of a bitch,” Barton uttered, as three words scrawled in dried blood stared up at him…

The Game Begins

Chapter 5

Barton and Crawford sat down with Dr. Kathleen Robinson, the Departmental Psychiatrist who at five feet, one inch was miniaturized by the two detectives. The diminutive Dr. Robinson divorced and the mother of two teenagers had years ago forgone the vanity of coloring her hair. Consequently, she appeared to be a grandmother in waiting…as soon as one of her daughters got married and obliged her with a grandchild.

Still vibrant beneath the graying facade, she garnered the respect of Lt. Barton not only because she was astute but because she possessed a quality he much admired---she was hard working. Additionally, she related her knowledge of the human mind and its workings in layman’s terms, which all the homicide detectives greatly appreciated.

“We wanted to see you regarding a case,” Barton began, “in fact it’s only about twelve hours old.”

“Yes, I’ve read through the information you provided sparse as it is,” she said, as she patted a thin manila folder on her desk, “but I would like one clarification so I’m sure I fully understand the situation.”

“Certainly,” Barton nodded.

“Are you positive the severing of the fingers occurred after the victim was deceased?”

“Yes, per the coroner, Brad Langley.”

“Then you were right in calling me,” as she pulled off her reading glasses and gazed at the two detectives through pale green eyes. It was a habit of hers that Barton observed over the years. Whenever Doctor Robinson was about to make a point, she removed her glasses, which Barton thought were more of a prop than a reading aid.

“As the note implies, this is not the end of it. For the time being let’s call your killer a man since most serial killers are males.”

“A serial killer!” said Crawford, as he abruptly sat up in his chair. “You think he’s killed before?”

“I’d say there’s a very good chance he has killed before but even if this victim was his first, he’ll kill again, Detectives, and again, until you catch him. In my opinion there’s no question you’ve got a psychopath on your hands.”

Crawford whistled as he turned toward his partner.

“His note,” Dr. Robinson continued, “is a warning that it’s not going to end with this murder. You’re looking for someone with very low self-esteem, and someone who’s had no major successes in his life. Within his low self-esteem lays the reason he sent you the note; it is an interesting note indeed. It’s very succinct and to the point to say the least. It’s neither flowery nor boastful. He’s going to let his acts do his talking. He’s challenging you, Detectives, or more specifically, you Lieutenant Barton. You’re a known commodity, Lieutenant. You’re the top homicide detectives in the city and the killer knows that. He’s heard of you and that tells us something about him. He’s local. This isn’t a drifter passing through the city. Perhaps he’s read articles about you and the crimes you’ve solved. Perhaps he’s even seen you on television or at a crime scene. The killer, in order to think of himself as a success, wants to outwit the best. He wants to outsmart the proficient Lieutenant Barton, and I would expect he’ll be sending you more notes in the future, Lieutenant.”

“After another body is discovered, no doubt,” Crawford commented.

While Dr. Robinson continued with her profile, Barton tuned out and tuned in on his own thoughts about the killer. The experienced detective thought the killer was young…probably in his late twenties or early thirties because to Barton it sounded more like a young person’s dare. It certainly wasn’t someone who is fifty years old and just been laid off his job and shooting people at random. This isn’t about rage or revenge. Nor was this a spur of the moment idea. The killer planned it, meticulously planned it. He thinks things through and this murder was committed as a personal challenge. The killer wasn’t attempting to make identification of the victim more difficult. The severing of the fingers was something he planned all along so he could send them to Barton as an in your face, here, looking for these?

“The killer is toying with us!” Barton blurted out.

Dr. Robinson abruptly stopped speaking as she and Crawford looked toward the Lieutenant.

“Uh…” Barton began.

“It’s alright. I was just concluding, Lieutenant, and I agree with you. The killer used the word game which is exactly what this is to him…a high stakes competition. I hope what I’ve said will be of assistance to you, because you need to catch him quickly. He’s not going to stop.”

Barton and Crawford eyed each other, the gravity of the situation evident on their faces.

Chapter 6

The detectives approached their Captain’s office to update him on the case and saw him seated behind his desk through the glass walls of his office. When Melvin Baskin moved into his office a couple of years ago, the first thing he did was remove the blinds his predecessor used so extensively, and stated gruffly, “If I don’t want my detectives to see me or who I’m talking to I won’t bother coming to work that day.”

Captain Baskin is a large man and his six feet, four inch frame towers over most of his detectives. He works out religiously and his two hundred thirty pounds is nearly solid muscle, and if his size doesn’t intimidate you, his dark piercing eyes can stare down the most seasoned detectives when chastised after a foul up. His brawny, muscular build often leads one to believe he would be quite pleased to walk you out to the parking lot to deal with you there. He has no sympathy for incompetent cops and he has no patience for the pensioners---those simply collecting a paycheck while finishing their last years on the force.

As the detectives entered Baskin’s office and sat down, Baskin asked abruptly, “What do you have on the John Doe?”

“We recovered his fingers.”

“Oh?”

“It’s more like they were gift wrapped to us,” said Barton, as he proceeded to inform the Captain of both the note and their conversation with Doctor Robinson. “We believe we’ve got a psycho on our hands and he’s just getting started. He’s playing with us, Captain.”

“He’s doing more than that, Lieutenant. He’s laughing at you.”

“Yeah,” Barton agreed, “and I don’t like it.”

“Have you ID’d the victim?”

“Not yet but the lab got his prints off the…,” Barton’s voice trailed off before he continued. “They’ll run the prints through the data bases and we’ve got men out with the victim’s picture sweeping the neighborhood where the body was found to see if anyone recognizes him.”

“He was killed where he was found,” Crawford interjected, “but we don’t think the victim was from that neighborhood.”

“Why so?”

“Well, it’s one of only a few vacant lots in the area and though there are a bunch of brownstones and bars in the surrounding neighborhood nobody has recognized him so far,” said Crawford.

“So, you think he was transported to the killing location,” Baskin stated.

“We do, Captain,” Barton answered for both of them.

“Additionally,” offered Crawford, “we checked all the tags on his clothing to see if we could track down where they may have been purchased but the tags were very common and could have been purchased anywhere.

“All right, now that you’ve told me what you don’t have, tell me what you’ve got.”

After a brief awkward silence, Barton said, “Only Dr. Robinson’s input that he’s a psycho and that he’ll most likely kill again.”

“So there’s no motive other than what’s rolling around in the psycho’s own perverse mind…to which of course you are not privy. Any idea what his trigger was?”

“No,” Barton replied, “we don’t know what set him off.”

“You have anything else?”

Both detectives shook their heads.

“Anything you need from me?”

“Not at the moment, Captain,” said Barton.

“All right, this one is your top priority.”

“Right, Captain,” said Barton, as the detectives arose from their seats to leave.

“Keep me posted as the case develops.”

“Will do,” Barton confirmed.

As the detectives were about to exit, Baskin added, “Find the bastard. Find him fast!”

Chapter 7

The reddish-orange glow of a lighted cigarette emanated from the dark living room, a glow that brightened with each drag and alternately waned with each exhale. An ashtray overflowed with a dozen discarded butts while the smell of cigarette smoke permeated the living quarters of the high-rise condominium on Chicago’s lakefront…a locale known as the Gold Coast. The lights were off not because of any power failure but by the choice of the occupant. Tonight, as he did every night, he sat alone in the darkness. The only sound was that of a howling northerly wind lapping at the windows as it whipped around Chicago’s skyscrapers and sent the city’s wind chill spiraling downward into single digits.

Michael O’Keefe, twenty-eight years old, inherited millions when his parents were killed in an accident three years before, but he had no interest in managing the business his father built. Upon receiving his inheritance, he immediately hired an Operations manager to run the company, and he contacted him every three months when the quarterly financial figures were posted. His only interest in the business was that the company continued to operate profitably so each quarter he would continue to receive a considerable sum of money in an ever-fattening bank account.

Tonight, Michael O’Keefe contemplated the preparations of a plan he had been formulating for over a year. He glanced at the coffee table where a year old newspaper lay open revealing a photo that triggered a latent desire deep within Michael O’Keefe that lay dormant for so long.

Michael O’Keefe retained the now dingy, yellowed newspaper with long-standing instructions to the cleaning women never to touch it. He kept it open perpetually to a specific page, which served as a constant reminder and source of his crazed inspiration. He reached for the newspaper now, pulled his lighter from his pocket, and as he lit another cigarette the flicker of light faintly illuminated the photo in a wavy, shadowy image. As he stared at the undulating image, he reminisced about the evening he first saw the photo over a year before…

He was dining alone at Georgio’s, one of Chicago’s fine steakhouses located on Illinois Street in downtown Chicago. It was a favorite restaurant of many of the city’s politicians and was frequented as well by a bevy of Chicago’s well to do. O’Keefe was seated just inside the front door across from the bar in what used to be the smoking section.

It was a Wednesday night and it wasn’t as crowded as it would be on any given weekend when customers stood three deep at the bar. Now, during the middle of the week, he could dine in relative quiet. He had finished his salad and was just served a porterhouse steak with a double-baked potato, as he sipped a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon when he turned to page 16 of his newspaper. A photograph of a couple caught his attention, and he read the caption below it. ‘Chicago homicide detective receives commendation at Police Awards ceremony’.

“Hmm,” thought O’Keefe, as he didn’t recall ever seeing a homicide detective’s photograph in a newspaper and consequently the photo intrigued him. He read the accompanying article and as he cut a piece of his porterhouse steak, he realized the waiter had forgotten something. He saw a bus boy walking briskly between tables and O’Keefe stopped him.

“My waiter forgot the A1 Steak sauce. Bring it at once.”

The bus boy nodded and quickly walked away, as O’Keefe smiled to himself because he never used steak sauce. As was his way, he often requested condiments that would go unutilized. If a waiter failed to bring something during the course of his meal, O’Keefe would use the omission against him in the form of a greatly diminished gratuity.

O’Keefe turned back to his newspaper and read that Lieutenant Barton ranked number one in clearing homicide cases over the past year. In fact, he ranked number one in four of the past five years. Not only had he attained the highest percentage in clearing murders in Area 3, but was number one overall in all five of the homicide areas of the city.

The bus boy returned and set the steak sauce on the table, and O’Keefe immediately reached for it and poured a small quantity onto his plate though he wouldn’t dip a single piece of his steak into it. As he took a bite of his steak, he muttered. “So you’re considered the best, are you?” he said out loud, as he continued reading…

Homicide Detective, Lieutenant Cy Barton, of the Chicago Police Department’s Area 3 Division was honored Tuesday night, and presented with the Police Medal by the Superintendent of Police. Lieutenant Barton is a previous recipient of the Superintendent’s Award of Valor, the Superintendent’s Award of Merit, and the Police Blue Star Award. The Police Medal is reserved for those who have previously received these awards, but, in the judgment of the Superintendent, the accomplishment or performance of the individual is so outstanding as to justify additional recognition. This past year Lieutenant Barton cleared 83% of his homicide cases, a new record of achievement. The Police Medal, an award that consists of a medal, a blue and gold bar for the Lieutenant’s dress uniform, and a certificate, was presented to Lieutenant Barton at the annual Police recognition awards dinner held last night at the Hyatt Hotel. Lieutenant Barton has been with the Chicago Police Department for over a quarter of a century. Other honorees included…

O’Keefe paused as he wasn’t interested in reading about the others. It was Lieutenant Barton that intrigued him. “83 percent, huh?” he muttered to himself.

O’Keefe read the article a second time and viewed the picture again in which Barton was holding the award, his wife by his side. He continued to stare at the picture as he reached for his glass of wine, and the more he stared at the photo the more mesmerized he became.

“How is everything, Sir?” a voice startled him with a sudden incursion of his concentration. “Is everything to your liking?”

“Yes,” snapped O’Keefe without gazing upward toward the waiter. “It is now since the busboy brought me the steak sauce you forgot,” he said, and added, “I’m busy. Don’t ask me any more questions. If I want anything, I’ll beckon the busboy.”

The waiter’s eyebrows jumped abruptly so taken aback by his customer’s unexpected comments. He was about to offer an awkward apology but was gestured into silence with a dismissive wave of the hand.

O’Keefe was so captivated in viewing the grainy photo he read the article a third time, while his expression slowly evolved into an angry glare and his lips curled into a snarl. “So, you’re Chicago’s best fucking homicide detective,” he said, in a deep guttural voice.

His words carried and were heard by two men seated at the next table, and they halted their conversation as his sinister sounding voice had caught their attention.

O’Keefe felt their disapproving stare and abruptly turned toward them. “Is there a problem?” he glared.

Both men quickly looked away as O’Keefe returned his gaze to the newspaper and became more agitated, and said, “83 percent! Fuckin’ best detective, my ass!” he snarled.

One of the two men at the next table leaned toward the other and whispered, “Weirdo,” while his dinner partner nodded in agreement.

“You’re probably closing those cases because you’ve never been challenged,” O’Keefe said in a more muted voice. “Probably tracking down a bunch of uneducated high school dropouts,” he glared at the picture with increasing intensity. “Probably padded your homicide statistics by collaring gangbangers so dumb they can’t even spell their own fuckin’ names.”

O’Keefe paused, inhaled deeply, and exhaled a deep sigh as he reached for his glass and swallowed the remainder of its contents. He spotted his waiter and gestured for another glass of the same, as he looked back at the grainy photo and stared into Lieutenant Barton’s eyes. “I wonder how you’d do if you came across someone really intelligent?”

O’Keefe’s eyes widened in excitement, as he contemplated what he’d just said, and he blurted out, “son of a bitch!”

Heads turned at the table next to his again, as well as from two tables beyond. The waiter approached with his second glass of wine, and, as he set it on the table, he asked, “Is anything wrong, Sir?”

O’Keefe looked up at him and grinned. “Wrong? You remembered my wine, so how could anything be wrong? You may go now.”

O’Keefe began to chuckle. “Yeah, that’s it,” he whispered, as his grin widened into a full smile. “We’ll see how good you really are, Lieutenant Barton.”

Over and over again that night at Georgio’s O’Keefe repeated that phrase, and, he continued to do so day after day, night after night, and week after week over the ensuing months for an entire year as it became his mantra.

“We’ll see how good you really are, Lieutenant Barton.”

A plan began to form in O’Keefe’s mind and the more he sketched out the details in the privacy of his intellect, the more frequently a sickly grin appeared on his face as he enlarged, fine-tuned and honed his scheme. That was over a year ago…

His reminiscence concluded, Michael O’Keefe returned his thoughts to this evening in the darkness of his apartment. He lit another cigarette, inhaled deeply, and exhaled further permeating his living space with cigarette smoke, while he reviewed the next step of the plan he meticulously developed over the past thirteen months.

(Note: This full length novel is available for the Nook through Barnes and Noble.com, for the Kindle through Amazon.com and your favorite store for iPad books along with free previews at each of those sites. On this website it is available only in Adobe Acrobat PDF form.)



$0.00

This product was added to our catalog on Friday 22 August, 2014.
Reviews
Genre
Notifications
NotificationsNotify me of updates to The Game Begins (Sample Chapters)
Tell A Friend


Tell someone you know about this product.