The further adventures of Rollie Chambers.
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Rollie Chambers was speeding. Weaving through traffic he jumped a yellow light and roared through another intersection. Damn rush hour, he thought. City's getting too crowded. Rollie cut in front of a car on his right, getting a one finger salute and a long horn blast for the maneuver. Turning into the lane leading to the Washington University Hospital emergency room, he did a power slide up to the door.
A security guard approached Rollie as he left his truck. "You can't park here," the man said in an officious voice.
"Police business," Rollie replied as he rushed past the guard and into the emergency room lobby. "Keys are in it, move it if you have to," he yelled over his shoulder.
He had lied to the security guard so he wouldn't have to take the time to find a parking place; Rollie wasn't with the police anymore. He'd resigned three months earlier due to his disgust with what he called the 'Oh So Politically Correct Brass Hats' running the St. Louis Police Department.
Rollie knew it was possible that the real police would either be waiting for him or would look for him in the hospital. It didn't matter to him; he had to get to his friend, Ted Crowe.
Ted had retired from the First Patrol Squad as a Patrol Sergeant of the St. Louis Police after 30 years of service. Almost 5 years ago he and his wife Donna had bought and remodeled a neighborhood bar and grill, renaming it First Squad. They served good food and honest drinks to their customers. The clientele was mostly off duty and retired police and/or their families; there was also a good number of cop wannabes and groupies. The place was known as a "cop bar".
Rollie had been on his way out the door that morning when his friend, roommate, and girlfriend called to tell him that Ted had been brought into the emergency room. Rollie's lady was Jessica Talbert, a Doctor of Psychology. She had been making morning rounds at the hospital and learned that Ted was being treated for injuries caused by a severe beating. Jessica said Ted asked a nurse for her and then asked her to call Rollie.
"I'll be there in 20," Rollie told her.
Whatever it is, whoever did this will answer to me," Rollie thought as he walked up to the nurse's station. Two nurses were gossiping about a new doctor in the department. One of them glanced up but ignored him and continued the gab fest with her friend.
"Excuse me. Could you stop talking about the new doctor's cute ass long enough to help me?" Rollie asked sarcastically.
"And who are you?" The older of the women asked.
"Not that it matters but I'm Detective First Class Rollie Chambers of the St. Louis Police Department. I'm looking for a man that was brought into the emergency room this morning." Rollie didn't feel bad about his subterfuge.
"Oh sorry, Detective," the nurse said. "Who were you looking for?"
"Ted Crowe, he was beaten very badly. I'd like to talk to him."
The woman typed for a few seconds on a computer. "Mr. Crowe is in Trauma Room 4. Go to the end of the hall, make a left into the emergency room and check with the nurse at the desk. She will direct you from there."
"Thank you. You can go back to talking about Doctor Sweet Cheeks," Rollie said with scorn as he turned and walked away.
Jessica was waiting at the nurse's counter when Rollie walked in. She took three or four steps toward him and put her arms around him.
"How's Ted?" Rollie asked.
"He's stable; the doctor says he's going to be okay." Jessica tried to swallow the sob that threatened to come out. "Oh Rollie, they almost beat him to death."
"Ted won't say. He wouldn't talk to the patrolman that found him or to me. He asked me to call you." Jessica paused and added, "That's all I know."
"Take me to him please. When we get there, get anyone in the room out and close the door as you leave. Okay?"
Jessica nodded, hugged Rollie again, and took his hand. She led him to Trauma Room 4. There was a nurse adjusting the monitoring device hooked up to Ted. Jessica identified herself and herded the nurse out of the room, closing the door behind her.
Rollie stepped closer to the man on the bed. Ted's left eye was swollen shut, he had a gash that had been stitched closed on his left cheek, and it looked like his nose was broken. The injured areas were beginning to bruise and Rollie knew his friends face would be black and blue in another couple of hours or so. There was also a cast on Ted's right arm. As he stood there, looking down, Ted opened his one good eye.
"Glad you could make it Rollie. You missed the party though."
Rollie took Ted's left hand in his. "Sorry, but next time send the invitation a bit earlier."
Ted's smile was almost gruesome because his lips were cut and swollen too. "I'll remember that next time."
"Who did this Ted? Do the police have any ideas?"
"I didn't talk to the patrolman. Acted like I was in too much pain to talk." Ted chuckled and winced at the pain it caused. "Wasn't far from the truth either. Have a seat and I'll tell you about it." Rollie pulled the only chair in the room closer to the bed, sat down and waited.
"About a week ago two big gorillas came into the First Squad right after I opened. They introduced themselves as the Dalton brothers. Said they represented the Carondelet Neighborhood Redevelopment Association and they wanted me to join. Told me that the dues were $1000 a week. I told them to go to hell; that I knew a protection racket when I saw one." Ted paused and asked, "See if I can have some water will you? They wouldn't let me have any before."
Rollie stepped out of the room and talked to Jessica. She had the nurse bring a pitcher of water, a glass, and one of the straws that could be bent to make it easier for the patient to drink. After Ted took a few sips he continued his story.
"I asked them if they knew who most of my customers are and they just laughed. Said I wouldn't tell the cops about them if I knew what was good for me and that I would pay up. Sooner or later they said. I told them to go to Hell and they turned around and left the bar without another word. I was coming out of the First Squad with last night's receipts on my way to the bank. Just like every morning. The Daltons grabbed me and pushed me into the alley." Ted asked for more water and Rollie held the glass so he could drink.
"They told me that they were going to give me a little example of what would happen if I didn't join up. The bigger one, Riley I think I heard the other guy call him, told me that if I reported any of this to the cops they'd throw a Molotov cocktail through the front window of the bar. And if that didn't convince me they would find my waitress Tina and invite her to a party. One of them grabbed my face, looked me in the eye and said my wife would be next. Then they beat the hell out of me. I tried to fight back but these guys are huge; like professional wrestlers or something."
He paused in pain. "They took the receipts from the bar. I told them there was more than the $1000 they originally wanted in the bank bag. The one called Shawn laughed; said I should consider it an initiation fee." Ted grabbed Rollie's hand. "I can't tell the police and take a chance on Donna or Tina getting hurt. That's why I wanted to talk to you. Could you maybe look into these guys and get them off my back?"
Rollie looked at his friend remembering how Ted and Donna had helped him when his wife, Susan, died. She had been beaten and raped. When Susan discovered she had also been infected with the HIV virus, she had committed suicide.
"Ted, you and Donna were there for me when Susan died. I know I would have made it but your help made it a lot easier." Rollie got a faraway look in his eyes for a few seconds. "I'll take care of it."
He squeezed Ted's hand. "Give me a description of these guys."
"The one called Riley is bigger and older than the other one. Shawn," Ted said all at once. He tried to snap his figures but winced in pain. "That's the other guy's name, Shawn. Riley told Shawn not to go crazy on me." Guess Shawn doesn't take direction well." Ted gave Rollie a painful smile.
"Riley Dalton, 35 to 40, Caucasian, 6' 6, about 270 pounds, dark brown hair, brown eyes. He's got scars around his left eyebrow, like he was a boxer or something. Shawn Dalton is his brother, late 20s, Caucasian, 6'4, 230, light brown hair, blue eyes, tattoo on his right forearm; a shamrock with the words Erin go Bragh in a circle around it. "Oh yeah, Shawn has a hell of a punch. Don't think I've ever been hit that hard." Ted paused. "That's all I can remember."
"Thirty years as a police officer taught you something," Rollie said with a laugh. He got serious and asked, "Where's Donna?"
"She's down in the waiting room. I wanted to talk to you before she came in here."
"I'll go get her," Rollie said. He left the room and Jessica joined him. "Donna is in the waiting room. Can you go get her or send someone for her? I've got a couple of phone calls to make."
"I'll get her," Jessica replied. "I can tell her about Ted's injuries and reassure her that he's going to be okay."
Rollie took his cell phone out of his jacket and punch in a number. "Hey Tully. How's the washed up Gunny today?"
.... There is more of this story ...