was in Trauma Two by the time Chandler parked his car
illegally in front of the emergency entrance and pushed
through the cops lining the corridor. The police officer
who had been shot lay in Trauma One, and since that was
where most of the attention was directed, Chandler was
able to slip into Jaco's surgery by doing little more
than lifting his press credentials and waving them at
no one in particular.
Almost immediately, he wished he'd waited
There was blood everywhere-on the examining
table, on the floor and on the five doctors and nurses
who leaned over Phil Jaco with various instruments. His
face seemed to have caved in on itself, as if he had somehow
swallowed his own teeth, nose and cheeks in one great
gulp. What was left wasn't something immediately recognizable
as a face.
Two IVs had been set up, and lactated
ringers flowed into his veins, but as Chandler watched
from the doorway, Jaco's skin went suddenly from the color
of a robin's egg to the color of a deep pool in summer.
"Stridor!" the surgeon shouted.
Jaco, in respiratory distress, wheezed
and struggled on the table as blood bubbled from his mouth
and nose. He needed air, but the massive facial edema
made normal breathing impossible. At the surgeon's order,
a second-year resident made an incision under the Adam's
apple and inserted a large steel needle, through which
air began to enter Jaco's lungs.
Almost immediately, the blue cast to
his skin began to disappear, and doctors turned their
attention to raising his blood pressure.
"Notice the bloated stomach,"
the surgeon instructed. MCV was a teaching hospital, and
even in the midst of a crisis, senior staff found opportunity
"Internal bleeding," the resident
"We need to draw blood for type
"Correct," the surgeon said.
"And we need X-rays of the chest and abdomen."
As they swung a camera-and-arm mechanism
around for the X-rays, somebody bumped the door against
Chandler, and he stepped aside. It was the cop who had
been with Robinson at the scene. He stared at Chandler
"Reporter," Chandler said.
The cop frowned and stepped up behind
"Has he said anything?"
"Of course not," the surgeon
replied, without looking up.
The cop lingered, fascinated with Jaco's
face. "Let me know if he talks."
The surgeon grunted. The cop walked
"Fractured ribs eight through twelve,"
someone yelled, from across the room.
"I'd like a CAT," the resident
said, but the surgeon shook his head.
The surgeon picked up a scalpel and,
with a short, darting motion, made a small incision under
Jaco's navel. Then he inserted a catheter to drain fluid
from the abdomen. For a moment, everyone watched the fluid
flow through the tube into a plastic bag on the floor.
It was pure blood-a liter or more.
Immediately, Jaco's abdomen was opened
up, and the surgeon reached in behind the fractured ribs
and felt what he suspected: a mushy spleen. It was too
badly damaged to save, so he pulled the spleen from behind
the rib cage, severed it and shut off the connected arteries.
That's when Chandler walked out of the room.
Robinson sat filling out his report in the waiting room,
so Chandler got two cups of coffee from the vending machine
and carried them over to Robinson's chair. Captain Brenda
Montgomery, chief of the detective division, walked out
of the room where the wounded officer lay. She was visibly
upset, though she had enough presence to scowl at Chandler
as she walked toward the door. They knew each other, but
not well. She sometimes showed up at the television station
with Robinson for a call-in show, a regular feature of
Channel 4. The station often invited police to join the
regular volunteer staff to go on the air and invite viewers
to call in police tips. It was a useful service that got
results. There had even been occasions when wanted criminals
would see the invitation to turn in a criminal and call
in to report themselves. Robinson watched Montgomery leave
the hospital, then took the coffee as if he had been waiting
for it. Chandler waited for him to take a sip, and then
he asked the obvious question.
"Any theories yet?"
Robinson glanced up and shrugged. "Not
really. Could have been a professional job, I guess."
"The guy's face was bashed in by
at least two blows that would have broken the attacker's
hand if he wasn't wearing protection. Which he had to
be wearing. My guess would be a sap glove."
"Yeah," Robinson said. "One
of those gloves you can get out of Soldiers of Fortune.
It's filled with lead pellets. You know, to weight your
"Damn. Not many people have things
like that, huh?"
Robinson shrugged. "Some do."
"Then you think it was a contract
"Right off-hand, I'd say: I don't
know. How's that?"
"How's the officer who got shot?"
"Not good. He's on life support,"
Robinson said, lowering his voice even more.
"Any idea who hit him?"
"None. He didn't call in. Apparently
he just pulled the guy. Don't know why. Nothing serious.
Didn't even have his book with him."
"Who called it in?"
"A citizen," Robinson said.
"He said he didn't see anything, just heard a car
screeching, went outside and saw Burke lying in the street."
"Bill Burke, Patrolman."
"Who was the citizen?"
"The owner of Buddy's Restaurant,
just up the street from the shooting."
"I've got a theory," Chandler
"Already? What took you so long?"
"The guy who hit Phil Jaco was
speeding down Cary Street, and Burke pulled him over."
"Burke would have called in before
he made the stop."
"What if he didn't have time?"
"We have procedures, Chandler."
"Okay. Who called in the Jaco thing?"
"I don't know. A neighbor, I guess."
"You don't think much of my theory
do you, Lieutenant?"
"Look, I've got work to do. When
you solve the Burke shooting, give me a call. If it's
connected to the other thing, I'll say you're brilliant
and recommend you for a citizen's plaque or something.
"Thanks, Lieutenant. You've given
Robinson stood up and joined a group
of officers across the room. After writing a few notes
in his pad, Chandler glanced at Gloria Jaco. She sat in
a beige chair next to the window with a Styrofoam cup
of coffee balanced delicately on her knee, as if she were
taking tea alone on a slow Saturday morning. After confirming
that the protective neighbor wasn't around, Chandler crossed
the room and knelt beside Jaco's wife.
"I'm sorry to bother you. My name
is Chandler Harris. I'm a reporter with WRT-TV."
"So? "she said coldly, not
looking at him.
"I know this is a terrible time
to do this," Chandler said, "but I was wondering
if I could ask you a couple questions."
She shrugged. "I didn't know you
did news on the weekend."
"Yes, ma'am, I do. I mean, we do.
Would you spell your husband's last name?"
"J-A-C-O. Just like it sounds."
Chandler scribbled it down on his note
pad. "And his age?"
"Why do you care?"
"I may be able to help."
She shrugged. "He's president of
'Family Bakeries,' Chandler wrote, telling
himself he'd never eat their cookies after having seen
their president's face.
"How long have you been married,
if you don't mind my asking?"
"Forever," she said.
"That's a long time these days."
"You don't need to tell me,"
she responded coldly. She leaned over the side of her
chair and took a cigarette out of her purse.
"I'm going to ask you a few more
questions," Chandler said, as she held a lighter
up to the cigarette. "They're a little personal,
though, and you shouldn't feel a need to answer them,
"Of course," she said, without
In rapid succession, Gloria Jaco denied
that her husband was in financial trouble, was involved
with another woman, gambled or socialized with anyone
who might be associated with organized crime. She also
denied that it was even faintly possible that her husband
might be involved with another man. Lieutenant Robinson
had asked that, and to hear it again disturbed Mrs. Jaco.
It was a thought she had never had.
Chandler stopped the questions for a
moment to find her an ashtray-it was a no-smoking area,
so she ended up using his empty coffee cup-and then he
resumed. She didn't know the details of her husband's
finances or business dealings, but she conceded that he
was a good person, of sorts.
"Even in recession years,"
she said, "Phil did not reduce his staff. When times
are tough," she added, smiling bitterly, "people
still eat cookies."
For a moment, Chandler wondered that
the woman who had been in a state of panic a half hour
earlier was now capable of sarcasm.
"Thank you," Chandler said.
"I guess you have a point." He started to walk
away, then turned for one more question. "Mrs. Jaco,
you found your husband?"
"Did you call the ambulance for
"Yes. But I was a little late."
"A little late?"
"The lady at 911 said she had already
gotten the call, and an ambulance was on the way. She
told me to relax."
"Did she say who called?"
"No." Mrs. Jaco shrugged and
flicked a length of ash into the cup. "She just said
the ambulance would be there any minute."
Chandler thanked her and looked around
for a pay phone. There was one in the waiting room, but
he wanted more privacy. He found a vacant office down
the hall and dialed the television station.
Chandler said, after a few rings. "I think we should
send Wally over to the assault victim's house in River
Heights for some video after he finishes with the cop
"It's just an assault, right?"
"Yeah," Chandler said. "But
it looks like a professional job, and you don't get those
in River Heights. Besides, I think there might be a connection
to the cop shooting. It's not out of the way. Wally can
snag it on the way back to the station."
"No, not at the moment. I'll call
you back shortly."
He hung up the phone and headed straight
for police headquarters, which was located in the Public
Safety building three blocks away. The Police, Fire and
Rescue Phone Center filled the basement of the building.
Everyone was too busy to notice him, so Chandler walked
down the stairs without showing his press credentials
to anyone. All that red tape, he thought—going through
the process of getting press ID, as if it were for the
CIA or something—and nobody wants to see my press
Six or seven phone operators tucked
behind partition walls hardly noticed Chandler enter the
dark room. As he hesitated, wondering who was in charge,
an older man walked out of a corner office.
"May I help you?"
"I'm Chandler Harris with WRT-TV.
I just left the hospital."
"How's the wounded officer?"
"Not good, I'm afraid. I think
they're just keeping him alive."
"I'm sorry to hear that. Who was-excuse
me-who is he?"
"Patrolman Bill Burke. That's all
"I don't know him."
"I don't either," Chandler
said. "Apparently, he pulled a vehicle over, and
the driver shot him when he approached the car."
For a moment, Chandler stood next to
the man and shook his head. Then, as the man started to
turn away, Chandler asked him the question he'd come to
"Before Burke was shot, there was
an assault in River Heights. I suspect it might be connected
to the Burke shooting, but the police don't see it yet.
Can you tell me where the River Heights call came from?
I mean, I don't want to cause a problem but..."
The supervisor, apparently unruffled
by the unauthorized request, walked over to a computer
screen and tapped keys on the keyboard. A few seconds
later, the information came up on the screen.
"Lockdale Lane, 10:37 a.m., from—the
Jaco house. Same place we sent the ambulance."
"Yes, I know. Mrs. Jaco called
it in. But she said you-or your operator, rather-told
her that it had already been called in. Is there another
The supervisor played with the keys
some more and called up another screen of data.
"Here we go," he said. "10:24
a.m. Wait a minute."
"It's a pay phone."
"3619 Cary Street, outside of-"
"How did you know?"
"I didn't," Chandler said,
elated. "I just guessed. Thank you very much, Mr.-"
"Hilton. Jerry Hilton. Used to
be a cop myself."
"Is that right?"
"Yeah, I spent seventeen years
on the street. Couldn't take it any more. So they promoted
me to this basement."
"Were you a detective?"
"Nope. But I solved a lot of cases."
"Mr. Hilton, you may have just
solved another one. Thanks for your help."
"Any time Mr.—what did you
say your name was?"
"Chandler. Chandler Harris from
"Do you work with Brady Soles?"
"Yeah. In fact, I'll be filling
in for Brady next week."
"I don't like him—I watch
Channel Nine, to tell you the truth. But I'll look for
"Thanks. Tuesday night. I start
Chandler hustled back up the stairs
and drove toward the TV station. On the way, he called
Charlie again and ordered some exterior shots of Buddy's
Restaurant, featuring the phone booth outside.
"I'll explain later," he said,
before Charlie could ask.
Then he hung up, checked his address
book and dialed the number for Robinson's supervisor,
Captain Brenda Montgomery. If Robinson had no imagination,
he would go over his head.
Robinson, he muttered, would be sorry.
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