SYNOPSIS: Jason Franco is an aspiring novelist stuck in a dead end job working for a newspaper in a small town where nothing exciting happens until someone rapes and murders a young woman only eighteen years old. All evidence points to the woman's boyfriend who confesses to the crime. Jason is assigned to write a follow-up story for the paper and soon suspects that the local police are covering up for one of their own. Jason enlists the help from a high school classmate who works at the state crime and the two soon fall in love. Jason and his girlfriend, Tina, follow the leads, and Jason finds himself a target for the rapist turned murderer. An attempt on Jason's life puts him in the hospital as the alleged rapist commits suicide. An unexpected turn of events put Jason back in the cross hairs of a different killer.
Javier Radcliffe, Art Rudd's Best Friend
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Jason returned to the Star-Gazette and transcribed his notes from interviewing Ms. Diaz. He summarized the interview for Sean. “How do I find this Javier Radcliffe?” he asked.
Sean thought for a moment. “You might check our files. In the people section we sometimes run news about people in the military.”
After meeting with Sean, Jason asked Zac to search the news files for any mention of Javier. It took Zac only ten minutes to find information. He gave Jason a print out. He also handed Jason a list of names.
Zac sighed. “That’s the list of registered sex offenders within two hundred miles. Over 250 in Cheyenne, 200 in Casper, 150 in Goshen County, 46 in Scottsbluff and 45 in Laramie. Then add those in rural areas. It’s like the whole world is sex crazy.
“Oh, that’s not the whole list. I weeded out the pedophiles like grandpa suggested. Kinda scary, huh?”
“Yeah. And to think you almost joined that list.” Jason looked over the list. “Zac, you have women on this list. I don’t think the rapist is a woman. Delete the women and the homosexuals. Just list those men who assaulted women.
“Okay. I’m not sure how to check each one for military training, martial arts training or EMT.”
“The military won’t enlist anyone with a felony. Maybe Tina can help. “Let me know when you’re done.”
Jason read through the information Zac provided on Art and Javier. It started with entries in the sports section on the results of wrestling matches. Then came a list of the graduating class from high school. Starting with an item about Art and Javier joining the Army, there were several items in the military news section about their military training, promotions and transfers. One article weas about Art being hired by the TPD and Javier being hired by the University of Wyoming campus security.
Jason called the University of Wyoming and was told that Javier was no longer employed there. He had been hired by the Denver Police Department. Another phone call confirmed that he was still employed there. Jason called the Denver PD and was transferred to Javier's telephone number. He left a message and Javier called back an hour later. He agreed to talk to Jason on Wednesday during his lunch at a diner in Denver.
Jason then called Tina. He figured that as long as he was passing through Cheyenne, they could meet for dinner and he might spend the night. Tina suggested it before Jason could ask. The next day he drove straight through to Denver. He met Javier for lunch at a burger joint near the Denver Police Department. Several other officers in uniform were eating there so Jason figures the food might be good. It appeared to be a favorite with the Denver police.
Javier was a couple inches taller than Jason. He was built like a weight lifter with large biceps and forearms – he was buff. His hair was cropped short with white sidewalls. Except for a nose that pointed to his left and a dent in one check bone, he was a good looking man. Jason did notice that he didn't have cauliflower ears. He also noticed Javier's knuckles – they had calluses like those he saw on Art's knuckles.
Jason did not want to eat much since he would be taking Tina out for dinner later. He ordered a salad and got a funny look from the waitress. Tina had convinced him to start eating healthy foods. Jason was a shocked to see Javier order the greasy bacon burger and fries. Jason started to explain who he was and why he wanted to talk to Javier.
Javier interrupted Jason. “My parents still live in Torrington. They've been sending me the articles y you wrote in the Star. I'm guessing you suspect Art of doing something to cover for the rapist. You're wrong. He won't do that.”
“Okay then, I'll get right to the point. What was your relation with Art Rudd?:
“Let me first say that Art and I aren’t friends anymore,” said Javier.
“Why is that?”
Javier laughed. “I’ll get to that. Art and I met in high school. We hit it off right away. I guess we were friend, because we were both misfits. We had no other friends. We both wrestled. All the other jocks were interested in chasing pussy, but Art and I were more interested in fighting. We got into a lot of fights. We spent more time in the principal’s office than we did in the classroom.’
“I spoke with Ms. Diaz. She remembered you.”
Javier laughed and slapped the table. “That old bitch? Is she still teaching? She was a dinosaur back then. I’ll be damned.”
“She said that she thought the Army was good for you two. It helped you mature.”
“She may be right about that. Art and I joined the Army right after high school. We enlisted together – a couple of dumb hicks from Wyoming. We both became military policemen and were sent to Korea--same unit up by the DMZ.”
“How long were you in Korea?”
“Just two years. I really enjoyed Korea. Hell, I enjoyed being in the Army. If it weren’t for Art, I’d still be on active duty.”
“Did something happen in Korea?”
“That's an understatement. You have to understand that Korea is a lot different from the US. Prostitution is legal there. Any time we had money, we were either drinking or whoring. One night Art got into a little incident that got him in trouble.”
“Well Art’s a short tempered. He can be a heavy handed, and sometimes he roughed up the whores. This particular night the madam wanted to charge us an extra hundred dollars for damages. She said that she had to pay medical bills after he hit one of the girls. She wanted to charge me too just because I was Art’s friend. Art and the madam started arguing.” Javier stopped talking to take a drink of his milk shake. “Finally, he agreed to pay the extra hundred, but he tried to stuff the money in the madam’s bra. She got mad and slapped him. Before I could stop him he punched her.”
“I know that Art used to box so I guess that did not go well.”
“Oh man, it couldn’t have a worst place to pull that stunt. That particular bar was a hangout for off duty MPs. That particular night our lieutenant was there. Art was surrounded and cuffed on the spot.”
“What happened to the madam?”
“Oh, he broke her jaw. She couldn’t chew solid food for weeks after.”
“Did Art get into trouble?”
“He got lucky. The madam didn’t press charges, because she thought it would be bad for business. I guess these things happen occasionally. After an investigation the lieutenant, concluded that the madam provoked Art by slapping him. He made Art pay the medial bills, and that was it. But he did do something to keep Art from reenlisting.”
“What was that?”
“It’s called a bar to reenlistment. That means that Art’s file was flagged so he couldn’t reenlist. He had to get out when his tour was up. Things started to cool between us after that. He convinced me to get out with him. He said that his stepfather would hire us as police officers in Torrington. High Marini was Chief of Police back then.”
“So Art got hired but not you?”
“Affirmative. Torrington’s a small town. Not much turnover. They couldn't hire two more police officers. Someone has to retire or die. That's when we parted company. I'd stayed in the Army if it hadn’t been for Art. I got a job with campus security at the University of Wyoming. A couple of years ago I landed this job with the Denver Police. I like it here.”
Jason recalled the dates of the rapes at the university and realized that Javier was in Korea at the time. “I spoke with the Casper Chief of Police, Chief Higgins. Did yiu know him?”
Not really. I may have talked to him once, that's all.”
I read somewhere that Art was a boxer. Were you his sparring partner?”
“At first. But he got too good for me. I got tired of getting beat up. You know how hard it’s to get dates when you have a black eye and broken nose? We both took karate lesson in Korea. He got a new sparring partner when he joined the TPD.”
“Jeri Cruse. He used to fight Golden Gloves. He’s better than Art. A real tough fighter.”
“Chief Jeri Cruse? I didn’t realize.”
“You don’t want to cross Jeri.”