by Rick Beck

Chapter 6


"I know where he gets his drugs. I went to a party there once. Ronnie came in before I was too wasted to notice. The dude who gave the party, Plato, was after him big time," the boy explained to Angus.

"After him?" Angus asked.

"Yea, you know, do the do. He kissed him on the lips, man."

"He's homosexual?"

"I don't know nothing about that. Plato is where the drugs are. Ronnie's with girls otherwise. Girls like him. He's smooth. He goes to Plato's for the drugs. Same as everyone else, but I heard rumors he's Plato's boy. What I'm saying is, sooner or later he'll run out of drugs and he'll show up there."

"Plato is gay?"

"Yea, I'd say so. I don't usually like that sort of thing, but when you need a little something you give a little something. If you're high enough, no big deal. I can show you where he lives. You spot me twenty and I'll go in and take a look around to see if your boy is there."


"Got to have a reason to go in. Plato won't let me past the door if I'm not buying something."

"Sure. That would be good," Angus said, flipping out his wallet and handing him two twenty dollar bills.

"What's the second one for? You want a little something?"

"No," Angus said. "For your time. You're doing me a favor."

"Cool," the boy said, admiring his windfall.

Angus parked around the corner and the kid jumped out and disappeared into the apartment building. He was gone nearly a half hour when he turned the corner, checked behind him, and got back into the front seat.

"All right. It's all cool," the kid said, saying nothing.

"What's cool?" Angus pried.

"Oh, he ain't there."

"You looked around?" Angus asked.

"Didn't need to. Plato asked me, 'Seen Ronnie around?'"

"That took a half hour?" Angus asked.

"No, he wanted to smoke a bowl with me. Got to play the game. I might need some and not have any money, you know. He likes company," the boy said with a distant sound in his voice and a glassy look in his eyes.

Angus took the boy back to the park. He drove to a phone to call Wes.

"Yea! Wes, Angus. I think I've got a lead on our boy. I found a local drug dealer where he hangs out. I'm going to go home and get my thermos full of coffee and set up a stakeout. Sounds like he's going to show up there in the near future. I have guys in the park looking out for him. We're getting close."

"Good, Angus. Keep me posted. Got to go."

Vince called Jennifer several times that week. She wasn't returning his calls. It was Friday before she finally answered the phone.

"Jennifer. This is Vincent."

"I know, doctor," she said.

"Can we get together this weekend?"

"No. I don't want to see you."

"Jennifer, I'm sorry about what happened. You know I wasn't at fault."

"I don't know, Vince. I keep seeing that little girl. I don't want to see you. I don't need to be reminded of what happened."

"I understand," he said, as the phone clicked in his ear.

Vince held the phone long after the dial tone sounded in his ear.

This wasn't how it was supposed to go. Jennifer had been the best thing to happen to him in some time. Most doctors at work still treated him professionally. Most associates were polite and professional. His patients showed up for their appointments and didn't request a change in doctors, but everything had cooled off around him. There was a change. Vince couldn't put his finger on it, but he knew people he'd known for years viewed him differently than before.

For his entire life, Vince had taken the bull by the horns. When something needed doing, he saw to it that it got done. He didn't like waiting for someone else to come up with the answer. He was beginning to feel helpless and he didn't like it. He didn't know what he'd do about it yet, but he would do something.

Angus decided to sleep a couple of hours. He'd worked enough drug cases while being a cop in Chicago that he knew you caught up with the people you were looking for around the drug dealer's at night. His wife Mildred handed him his bag full of sandwiches and a thermos full of coffee and kissed him goodbye.

Plato's apartment was on the first floor on the right front. There was a bright light outside the doorway of the building, and Angus could plainly see the faces of the people who came and went. He'd spent many long nights on stakeouts in Chicago. It was usually dark, unfriendly, and took a toll on the detectives on watch. Some stakeouts lasted a few days and some went on for months, depending on how big was the fish they were after.

Working for an attorney in San Diego, investigating people, places, and things, was easy compared to police work. The big difference in drug dealers and their clients came down to age. The players going into Plato's were young. In many cases they were middle to late teens, and at the most early 20's. Mostly they came and stayed. Some came and went. Most were on foot. Most were alone.

Angus did twenty years on the Chicago police department. It was intense at times, and at times it was dangerous. He'd retired to San Diego with his wife Mildred to work as a private investigator. He'd been investigating crime most of his adult life.

Before Chicago was Vietnam. He'd been an unimpressive MP. At nineteen he was a 'fuckup' according to his superiors. He drank too much, chased woman too much, and was late for duty one too many times, which brought him to the attention of the commanding general.

General Walker, soon to be theater commander, called for him when he was seriously hung over on guard duty. After being sent to the stockade on first sight, Pvt. Angus McCoy had some time to think about his future, which had Leavenworth written all over it.

Gen. Walker had him brought to the base commander's office about the time he was supposed to be shipping back to the States for a trial. Sober, his life looked far different as he faced the stern general.

"McCoy, we got two options here, as I see it. I pull the plug on your useless ass and watch you circle the drain, or you come to work for me, and by god you pull this shit, and I guarantee you, I'll make you wish you were never born. So you better think twice before you agree to work for me, son."

Angus smiled as he reminisced. Someone came up the sidewalk and stood under the light for a minute before going inside. Too dark and too short to be his boy. He watched the door a few more minutes before thinking of the undercover investigation Gen. Walker put him on. That too was a drug investigation. It's where Angus had gotten his start. From there he went to work for the Chicago police department.

Then Angus remembered the case in Montana he worked for Gen. Walker before he could get his final discharge. That was a shooting, and being in rural Montana Gen. Walker wanted a first class investigator. Angus was ready for discharge, but he knew he owed a debt to the general he could never repay. He worked the case until it was resolved, and then he went to Chicago in 1973.

He'd had a good police career. He liked investigating police cases. He met Wes Mathews through a private investigation company, where Angus learned about investigating adultery and embezzlement. One day he was sent to do some work for a defense attorney, Wes Mathews.

The two men felt comfortable working together. Angus knew his stuff and didn't need to stop for instructions once he was on a case. In the three years since the first case with Wes, he worked for him about half the time.

In his late forties Angus set up his own agency. His main client, Wes, kept him on retainer. Angus trained two secondary investigators to do the routine legwork. This allowed him to be home most nights, which Mildred insisted upon at this point in their lives.

Angus owed his success to the general, who saw his potential. After that point in his life, Angus always exceeded expectations. At nineteen it required someone to get his attention before he woke up. He was smart enough to take advantage of the break he received.

There was something he recognized in Dr. Vince Parsons that reminded him of himself. Intellectually they weren't in the same league, but professionally Angus was every bit his equal. The doctor's future depended on him. He intended to come through for him.

Sitting there outside of the drug dealer's apartment, waiting for Ronnie to come calling, Angus knew something was amiss in the case. He'd seen a lot of cases come and go as a cop, and he never recalled a doctor being pushed to the wall on a charge like this one. Wes hadn't given him a full briefing, because the job he had was to pick up the witness so the charges went away.

In the course of the week's investigation he got the flier copied, attached them to every pole and window, and carried copies with him, showing it to anyone he encountered. He'd picked up Ronnie's trail, learning more and more about his routine.

The prosecutor had an investigator on the case. The kids in the park pointed him out to Angus. It was the one and only time the prosecution had showed any interest in the witness. Their investigator peeled a flier off a pole near the corner of Laurel and 5th, folding it carefully and putting it in his pocket as Angus watched from the park. The prosecution knew there was a defense witness. This meant someone who might be able to prove the defense's case, and yet they'd upped the charges to negligent homicide. A witness usually meant a plea deal was imminent, not that Vince was going to agree to one. No plea deal had come.

They didn't know the kid was a drug dealer's boy, or that he used drugs and went with young girls in the park. These were things that would make a witness look bad, but if he had the right story it didn't matter what he did in his spare time or who he did it with.

Wes was smart enough to overcome any assault on a good witness. He too knew the hazards, but no one suggested he shouldn't find the boy. This was enough to make any prosecutor cautious. It would make most prosecutors think of a plea bargain. They hadn't, which meant there was something he didn't know, but he intended to find out.

Angus had spent as much time in the courtroom as most attorneys. After twenty years, he'd spent one of those years inside courtrooms. He knew the rules. He knew how cases looked. He knew when a case didn't look right. He had some idea of what he was looking for when it didn't look right to him.

Angus sat reading through his copy of Dr. Parson's file Wes had his staff put together for him. It was all a matter of public record and according to the doctor himself. Vincent Parsons was the perfect client. He was no black sheep. There were no skeletons in his well-stocked closets. There was no evidence he drank to excess, womanized, or practiced perversion of any kind. Work being his only vice. By all accounts he was a first class surgeon.

Angus didn't think he liked Vincent Parsons very much, but he didn't have to date him. If you needed the best neurosurgeon in town, Dr. Parsons was your man. In keeping with this kind of man, Angus didn't believe he drank to excess and then drove. It wasn't his style.

Angus was determined to get whatever was needed to see to it the good doctor kept practicing medicine. While he gave each case his best, he frequently wasn't sure of the right outcome.

Angus felt more pressure because he was responsible to make sure it turned out all right. His investigation had to turn up the evidence to prove the doctor's innocence.

He put the file back in his briefcase. He watched the building from the slope of the hill across the street a half a block away. He was sure this was the place where the case would start going his way. Instincts gave him the will to stick with it and keep the vigil ongoing.

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