Chapter 1: Back on the Job
Ellery walked into his office at eight the next morning and Carol was waving him down as he stepped through the security door. “What?”
“Uh... maybe you don’t want ta go in there, Ellery.”
“Why the hell not? I’m the Chief Deputy here ain’t I, or is somethin changed I don’t know about?”
“Too late,” she said, hanging her head. As he stepped through, a familiar grey head appeared in the door of his office.
“Eagleton,” he sighed.
“Listen, Cantrell...” and Ellery held up a hand.
“This had better be about Arizona vs. Steele or we ain’t havin this conversation.”
“I think there are some things we should discuss...”
“About the case? Then let’s step into my boss’s office an he can discuss em with you an refer you to the D.A. You know our wonderful and multi-talented District Attorney, Mel Ruskin I suppose...”
Eagleton wrung his hands. “You know damn well it isn’t about that. Listen to me, Cantrell... I know you care about Bruce –“
“No, you are wrong there. You are dead wrong about that. Now since you didn’t come down here on Sheriff’s Department business I am gonna have ta ask ya ta leave.”
“Then can I call you an talk on the phone later?”
“I don’t think we got nothin ta talk about. I did what you asked, an that is that.”
“But... I think.... Cantrell, Bruce is a very depressed young man.”
“Bruce is a very not young young man, an the sooner you realize it the more he’ll get over bein a spoiled brat makin you live his life for em. An none a this has fuckall to do with my job an I got ta ask you ta go or I am gonna step in my office an slam the door in yer face.”
Eagleton finally got angry. “We need to talk about this further. I’ll give you a call later when you are a bit more reasonable...” he muttered, and Carol buzzed him out through the security door.
Ellery stood in the doorway of his office, quietly fuming, as he waited for Eagleton to leave the building, then he stalked over to the fishbowl. “Carol.”
“I know what yer gonna say Ellery.”
“That ain’t Sheriff’s Department business. That ... is a nuisance. And where is Wes?”
“Hasn’t come in yet.”
“Worse luck. Carol, do not let that man in here. His point a contact is the D.A., I don’t care how busy Mel is.”
“Well you should,” came the brusque voice of Mel Ruskin as he stepped up to the fishbowl. “Because I can’t prosecute both of these cases simultaneously without appointing somebody my deputy and you aren’t a lawyer so I can’t steal you from Wes.”
“Nice a you ta say, Mel, but what brings you here?”
“Arizona versus Worrell, for a change,” Mel said.
“Damn, we finally goin ta have a date for an arraignment?”
“Maybe, depends. Looks like Worrell’s out of danger an his doctor was compelled to offer up a release date for his return to maximum security.”
“So why are we worryin?”
“Because I am putting in an emergency request for a new deputy D.A. due to the case load. I do not want these things languishing because then there will be a different kind of trouble. Wes in?”
Ellery shook his head. “No but you just missed his defense counsel.”
“Oh yeah, about that. Let’s go in your office.”
Ellery took a deep breath and ducked into his office and Mel took a seat. “No coffee for me today?”
“Sorry, I’m a little rattled. You want one?” Ellery moved to get up.
“No, I’ll help myself. I just didn’t think it would be prudent, considering how well your voice carries into the foyer yonder, to talk about delicate personal matters in the squad room.”
“You have some personal connection with Eagleton?”
“No, not really. Knew his son in college.”
“Really... knew him,” Ellery said.
Mel’s face darkened. “Oh.”
“Pure coincidence. I ran into him, literally, on the county road before the case went to hearin, when he was involved in a crash, an when I found out the name I looked him up at the hospital, and discovered he was the daddy of a man I knew durin my first year a college. I suppose you want ta hear the rest of it.”
“If it runs a risk of complicating the prosecution you bet, son.”
“Then spit it out.”
“Me an Eagleton’s boy had a relationship when we were in college, an he broke it off abruptly, then he got married. Told me he was straight. I never heard from him again till this traffic accident a couple a weeks back, an gave his Daddy my card then found out he was the defense in the Steele case an he came over ta get some files... he didn’t get from Amos. Then he talked to his boy about me an discovered he had a big secret that had him in an out a mental hospitals an I was part of his secret.”
“I am not going to like the rest of this story, am I?”
“Probably not. He pressured his boy ta see me, an he pressured me ta see em, an dragged em down here this week when the hearing opened an had em drive over ta meet me for lunch. We had the uncomfortable chat an I left. Now his boy is runnin amok in Tourmaline, callin me in the middle a the night ta tell me about it... an has shown up at my bar too.”
“Have you kept em at arm’s length since this... lunch?”
Ellery nodded. “But his daddy has got some more ideas a interferin an Wes already told me ta throw em out a the office if he showed.”
“Good. That has got nothin to do with this prosecution, an that was real bad form of Eagleton dragging his family into this, particularly now.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Well keep out of it, an if this Eagleton harrasses you we could ask the judge to take Eagleton off the case.”
“But if that is Steele’s chosen counsel...”
“I know, but you aren’t going anywhere – you are the investigating officer – and if he is going to sully the case with some personal agenda then I might be able to file a motion of some kind, I’ll have to think on it.”
“You do that. Cause I had a enough a blasts from the past.”
Mel gave Ellery a smile. “You are really very amusing. No wonder Amos detested you. That man has no sense of humor.”
“Umm... do we know what’s gonna happen next with this... investigation thing?”
“Yes. Amos is gonna be forced into the earliest retirement in county history.”
“Yes really. Which is what I came to talk to Wes about. I didn’t really have anything more for you except we might have to ask the judge to continue Steele until I can get a deputy.”
“Understood.” Ellery stood up and opened the door, and Wes was making his way to his office.
“Just the man I wanted to see,” Mel said.
“Mel...” Wes said, smiling and shaking his hand. “Oh Ellery, good to see you back, how you doin?”
“As well as could be expected. Caught up on my readin.”
Wes cocked an eyebrow. “We need Ellery for this?”
Mel shook his head.
“Good, because you need ta bring Murdoch with you, he was called on a shootin last night an I want you to take the case from em.”
“Why doesn’t he keep it?”
“Because he ain’t a detective an Joe Tooey is still investigatin the pornography thing with the liaison from Denver. You can have Dupree though.”
“Good. Murdoch still on?”
“He’s sleepin but I told em to come in after lunch an hand it off ta you.”
“Who’s the victim?”
“University student. William Wilkes or somethin.”
Ellery shook his head. “Shame, okay. Homicide huh?”
“Probably.” Wes went in his office and brought out a thin, new folder. “Here’s what he got, an the crime lab’s got the photos, body’s in the morgue, you can start now.”
“Welcome back boy.” He slapped Ellery’s shoulder and ushered Mel into his office.