Another part in the saga of Rollie Chambers.
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"Rollie Chambers," he said, answering his cell phone.
"Hi Rollie. This is Julie. Perhaps a strange question, but have you seen Tully today?"
Julie Colwell was 40, she was the RN supervisor at St. Louis University Hospital, and she was Jacob Tully's significant other. Tully was Rollie's best friend, mentor, and part of Rollie's detective agency, Chambers and Associates.
"Hi Julie. Last time I saw Tully was at dinner with you guys the other night. Why?"
"It's probably nothing, but he and I had a little spat day before yesterday and he left in a hurry back, to his own place after our date. Said he wanted to chill for a night. You and Tully are like brothers and to be honest I thought he might have called and talked to you about our discussion."
"No, like I said I've haven't talked to him since the dinner."
"Well ... Our disagreement was about my 20 year class reunion," Julie said. "It's in two weeks and I was telling Tully about some people from that class and mentioned Ken; he's a guy I went out with for almost three years. I'd told Tully about him before, just in passing. I think Tully thought Ken was the reason I wanted to go to the reunion."
"Sounds like jealousy is rearing its ugly head," Rollie said with a chuckle.
"It's not funny Rollie," Julie complained. "I asked Tully to go with me but he refused."
"He say why?"
"Tully said he wouldn't know anyone there and didn't want to spend the evening watching me and my old boyfriend get re-acquainted." Julie hesitated and added, "Then I made a big mistake."
"What did you do?"
"I smiled at him and asked if it would bother him to see me talk and dance with Ken. I was just teasing and fishing for a compliment, but he took me seriously. We'd been sitting together on the sofa and he stood up. Said I should give him a call when I got back from the reunion. Then he said, very sarcastically, that maybe Ken and I could get re-acquainted. That's when he left and I haven't heard from him since."
"Okay, Julie, I'll do a recon mission and find our wayward Gunnery Sergeant. Call you when I talk to him." Rollie hung up and stared out of his office window. Julie's right, Rollie thought, Tully should have checked in by now.
Rollie stood, took his Glock 21C out of his desk drawer, and put it into a holster attached to his belt in the small of his back. Maybe I ought to run by Tully's place before I send out the troops, Rollie thought. He had a key to Tully's apartment and let himself in. The place was a shambles.
One of the two big easy chairs usually in front of the fireplace was pushed against the wall and the other one was lying on its side. The big screen TV had been knocked off its stand onto the floor; it had a big crack across the screen. There were three table lamps on the floor. One of the metal ones was bent almost in half and had a blood smear on it; as if it had been used as a weapon. Rollie's practiced eye saw the two bullet holes in the far wall. Guess that answers a lot of questions, he thought.
Rollie made several calls, trying to track down his friend with no success. Then he made two more calls. The first was to his one of his Confidential Informants. Calvin had been "working" as a CI for Rollie for a number of years while he was a detective and continued after Rollie left the force. He was the largest fence for stolen merchandise in the St. Louis area, but he knew a lot of street people who were on the fringes and the wrong side of legal. Rollie had kept Calvin from going to jail and now the men were friends.
The second call was to Ricky Willard; a "reformed" computer hacker and geek who worked for the St. Louis Police Department. He could find most anything and everything if it was posted on a computer someplace. Ricky would track Tully's credit cards and bank account to see if they showed activity.
Rollie tried to call Missouri Tactical Academy but got an answering machine. He got into his truck and drove out of St. Louis to the facility. The Academy instructed civilians in proper shooting techniques and held Concealed Carry Permit classes. They also instructed and trained policemen and even military personnel in urban tactical situations. It was run by a group of former military and police personnel. Tully was the majority owner and head instructor.
"Hey Rollie," Ray Jenson said as Rollie entered the office. Ray was also one of the owners.
"Hi Ray. I called earlier and got your voice mail. You all by yourself?"
"Sorry, I've got desk duty today but I had to step out to the shooting bays and explain some safety procedures to a new client. Ever since Mike Thomas left us, I've been doing double duty."
"Yeah, I heard Mike sold his share of the business to you guys. Why'd he leave?"
"He moved to North Carolina to be with his son and his family. They've got three kids now and Mike wanted to be closer to his grandkids." Ray smiled, "Tully's the one that bought Mike's share. Makes me the minority stockholder. What did you need?" Ray asked.
You seen Tully in the last day or so?"
"No, in fact I was just gonna call him with a reminder. He's got a class for some of the rookie Hillsboro police this afternoon."
"Tully won't miss an appointment. Have him give me a call when he shows up," Rollie said. He didn't go into details about Tully's strange actions and the condition of his apartment. No need to get people freaked out, he thought.
"Sure thing. Nice to see you Rollie. Come back sometime and we'll have another shooting contest." Ray grinned. "I want a chance to win my money back."
Nodding, Rollie smiled and waved as he left the office. He didn't want to get Ray and the other instructors at the Academy involved just yet, he thought. Like Tully, almost all of them were former Marines, Seals, or Green Beret. They'd treat this situation like a search and destroy mission. If Tully's in trouble, they might chase whoever is involved underground.
He headed back to Tully's place again. Maybe I missed something, he thought. The previous time he'd checked the place, he'd just walked in and called out for Tully; this time he stopped just inside the door and let his eyes slowly examine the living room. Then he saw something he'd missed the first time.
Tully had lost his right leg, below the knee, to an IED while serving in Iraq. He wore a state of the art, titanium and carbon fiber, prosthetic leg. The prosthesis was lying under the coffee table in front of the sofa with one of the sofa cushions over it. Rollie walked over, bent down, and picked up the device. Tully might go off on his own to work something out or to get his head straight, but he'd never leave his leg behind, Rollie thought.
On the floor under the coffee table was a brochure for Missouri Tactical Academy. Rollie looked closer at the glossy pamphlet. It was opened to the second page, which had a mark on one section. It looked like someone had used a fingernail or something to underscore and mark one line. That line was one that advertized that the Academy had several fully automatic weapons on site; both for rental with the right permit and for instruction.
While on the St. Louis Police Department, Rollie had been, if not the best, one of the best detectives in the Precinct 16 squad and the Department for that matter. The intuition that made him a good detective came into play. Why would Tully have an advertisement for his own business in a prominent place on his table? And why would he or someone mark a section?
After another hour of searching, Rollie went home. In spite of his concern for his friend, he had to smile when he entered his apartment. Jess was cooking, standing at the stove barefoot and wearing one of Rollie's shirts. Nothing sexier than a woman in a man's shirt, he thought; especially when she's as beautiful as Jess.
Dr. Jessica Talbert had been the therapist for Rollie's wife, Susan, after she had been attacked and raped. Jessica and Rollie had talked several times while Susan was in therapy. When Susan committed suicide, Jessica approached Rollie to help him with his grief. They later worked closely together when Jessica was brought in as sort of police profiler on a serial rapist case. Their relationship built quickly after the rapist was caught.
They had discussed marriage and decided they liked things just as they were at least for now. Jessica had been married after a two year live in relationship, but it ended in divorce. She said things changed after the wedding and they sort of lost who they were. After Rollie's wife ended her life, he wasn't sure he wanted to get married again so the hurt for each was still close to the surface. Rollie and Jess were totally committed to each other and neither thought a ceremony or paper work could make their life any better.
"Hi Sailor, looking for a good time? Jessica turned to greet Rollie. The shirt's top three buttons were undone and the resulting view when she turned proved that she was wearing nothing but the shirt. She saw the look on his face and asked, "What's wrong Rollie?"
"Tully's sort of missing," he replied. Rollie explained Julie's call and what he'd found at Tully's place. He laid Tully's prosthesis on the coffee table. Tully wouldn't go on a 'walk about' or bug out without telling me and he certainly wouldn't go without this."
Jessica walked over, hugged Rollie, and said, "You're right Rollie, something has happened to our big brother."
.... There is more of this story ...