The one-seven was full of activity. Ladies of the evening protesting their arrests. Drunks asleep on benches as they waited to be processed. Crooks of all types locked up in jail cells. The place was crowded and noisy. It wasn’t one of
Sitting at his desk, Detective John Nelson was oblivious to the noise and insanity that surrounded him. Everything about him reflected that attitude. He dressed as casually as the department dress code allowed, which meant he was the only detective who wore sneakers with his shirt and tie. He still had dinner at his mother’s once a week, and he’d been to every birthday party ever thrown for his partner’s kids. He was focused, almost to a fault, and determined to catch whoever it was he was after.
John’s eyes were pinned to the open folder in his hands. Regina Cavelli’s picture smiled up at him from the pages. He couldn’t bring himself to pull his eyes from hers. They seemed kind and compassionate - yet she was married to a monster. It was well known that
“Hey, man. What are you doing?”
Frank Holstrum and John had been partners for the past five years, ever since John had made detective. Frank was older than John and more experienced. The father of three kids, he was married to a woman who some said was too pretty to be with a man like him. But what he lacked in looks, he made up for in charm. He was a nice guy who got along with everybody. Unlike his partner, he always dressed well — but only because his wife picked out his clothes every day.
John hadn’t heard Frank come in.
“Hey, are you deaf or something?” Frank asked. It was not the first time John had ignored him with his face buried in a file.
“Oh . . . hey, Frank. I’m just looking over the Cavelli file.”
A look crossed Frank’s face. Leaning over, he placed his hand on John’s shoulder, whispering quietly, “You know, John, people are starting to talk. You have to get a grip. You’re starting to obsess about this guy. You should pay as much attention to your other cases as you do this one.”
John jerked his shoulder away. “I don’t need this type of crap right now, Frank.”
“Screw you, man.” Frank turned and started to walk away.
“Look, I’m sorry, Frank. I didn’t mean to bite your head off.” Frank turned around, so John continued, “You know how much this case means to me. I just got an idea . . . a new angle. I want to bounce it off of you.”
Frank rolled his eyes and shook his head. “What is it this time?”
“I know I’ve said this a hundred times, but I think we’ve been going about this thing all wrong. Look —” John thrust the picture of
Frank shook his head. “Bad idea, John. That’s the kind of thing that will only get you in trouble . . . or dead.”
“Listen. I think this could work. She’s nothing like her husband. She doesn’t seem to be messed up with the family business. So, that being the case, I bet we could get her to turn on him.”
“How do you know? You’ve never met her. You don’t know anything about her. She might be the force behind the man for all you know.”
“It’s just a feeling I get. She owns a nice restaurant; she gives to the poor and needy. Maybe she doesn’t know what kind of guy he is, and we can enlighten her. You know, get her on our side.”
“You’re crazy, John.”
“Come on, Frank. Let’s give it a try. Just once.”
Frank just looked at him a minute and then sighed. “Are you forgetting that her father worked for the Cavellis, too? Do you have a death wish? You can’t go around harassing a man’s wife, especially if that man is Anthony Cavelli. Did you forget what happened six years ago with your brother?”
John’s complexion changed. He didn’t have to be reminded. His brother, Sam, a detective, was working on the Cavelli case back when Antonio “Poppy” Cavelli was still in charge of the family. His brother’s name and reputation were ruined by his death. John swore he would not rest until he cleared his brother’s name and exposed the truth about his so-called suicide.
“Look. I’m not my brother! I’m going after the Cavellis with or without your help. I know they had something to do with Sam’s death, and one day I’m going to prove it.”
Frank studied him. “All right, you win.” He paused before proceeding, “It’s not that I care that much about you; it’s just I’ve gotten used to you being around. I would feel guilty if something happened to you. So tell me the plan, and let’s go catch the bad guy.”
“Now that’s more like it. I figure we can pay Mrs. Cavelli a visit today at her restaurant and see what’s cooking.” He chuckled at his play on words. Frank just rolled his eyes again. “This might work, you know. I really think she could be our one weak link in this whole thing.”
“That’s the big plan — that’s it?” Frank saw the excitement in John’s eyes and gave in. “All right, but I’d better come with you to make sure you don’t do something stupid.”
“Thanks.” John smiled. “Okay, well — no time like the present.” He grabbed his jacket and they headed out the door. It was a good plan . . . or maybe Frank was right and it was going to backfire on him.
But no, he had a good feeling about Mrs. Cavelli. All that information he had about her couldn’t be wrong. She wasn’t like the rest of the Cavellis. He could see it in her eyes.
Besides, everything else he’d tried had failed.
© Nadine Z. 2007