21 November 1000 hours:
Judge Patty Traylor stood behind the lectern and looked out at the small group of reporters. The glare of flash bulbs caused her to shield her eyes. She cleared her throat and forced a smile.
“Today, I have tendered my resignation. The reasoning for my stepping down is because I…” Judge Traylor’s voice cracked, and she stopped to compose herself. The gaggle moved closer to record her confession.
“I’m sorry. I used my position to target pedophiles after the rape of my son. I was wrong to do so. “Bulbs flashed, questions were shouted, but Judge Traylor turned from the lectern and walked back inside of the building.
Across the street Billy and Tia Mathers watched the show. They looked at each other when the press conference was over. Billy and Tia smiled at each other.
“That’s one out of the way,” Tia thought as she sipped her coffee.
Lilly stood just inside of the door where the Traylor’s press conference was held. She gave a small smile to Patty Traylor when she drew near.
The former judge’s face was wet with tears. Lilly pushed the door open for her. She gave Lilly a nod.
“Ma’am, may I have a moment of your time?”
“What is it, Detective Thompson?”
“Ma’am, your resignation is so sudden. Is everything okay? Has something happened?”
Patty Traylor looked around and shook her head. She took a breath and forced a smile.
“No, detective. Everything is fine. My guilt got to me is all.”
“If there is something going on, please talk to us. I know that you are having a horrible week. Your assistant…”
“Thank you, detective. I appreciate it.”
Lilly watched as Patty Traylor walked away. She shook her head. “First, Traylor killed the man who raped her son. Then, she went after kiddie rapists. No one would have ever known, but now, she is defeated, and her secret is known. Plus, her assistant was brutally murdered.”
Konan walked up and stood next to his partner. Lilly stared out the door at the town square. “There is more going on here than a simple murder. I can feel it in my bones.”
There was nothing to do but wait and see what would happen next.
Tia Mathers had fast-tracked to Chief of Police. She had attended the right schools, made the right connections, but she was not satisfied. There was always another rung on the ladder to climb, another goal to crush. She wanted more, and Billy was her goose that laid golden eggs.
So far, everything was on track. She would implement Phase Two tonight.
Lilly drove Konan home. Konan noticed her quietness and attempted to make small talk. She wasn’t having it. Lilly pulled in front of his mobile home and shut off the car.
“Will you have trouble sleeping tonight,” she asked.
“I don’t know. Probably.”
“I can’t unsee her body. The rats and the bites…it’s too much.”
“Then, come in. I’ll take the couch. You take the bed. I’ll make us breakfast in the morning.”
“Are you sure? I don’t want to intrude.”
“It ain’t no thing, man. Come on. Let’s get inside.”
Konan and Lilly walked to the door. He unlocked it and turned on the lights. Lilly walked over and sat in his recliner. Konan walked over to the closet and pulled out a black tough box.
“This is stuff I saved from my time overseas. I told you, I would tell you about, um…”
“Okay. Tell me.”
“I was a member of a reconnaissance team. It was me, Billy, and Blankenship. We had an interpreter; his name was Shelton. As usual, we nicknamed our interpreters. We called him Shelly.
Anyway, he went missing. It was nothing unusual for them to miss a day or two. After a week, we began to worry. It rolled into two weeks, and then, a local kid approached us.
Shelly was in a cave outside of a camp called Hitt. He was chained to the wall, like Tiffany Watkins, gutted, and left for wild dogs. His face was eaten off, his torso…it was bad.”
“That’s why you didn’t freak out at the recovery of Tiffany Watkins.”
“Yeah, I guess. Animals, rats especially, have been used in the torture of prisoners and such.”
“Wild dogs ate your interpreter?”
“Yeah, someone set him up.”
“Did anyone ever find out who did it? Was it Blankenship?”
“No, we never found out who did it. Blankenship was a weapon. He was an assassin through and through. If he wanted Shelly dead, he would have killed him outright.”
“I don’t know. Billy was…different.”
“He was a thinker. Billy never made a move until he could see how it would work. He was a planner; he had all the right connections.”
“Let me ask you something, Konan. Do you think there is something more going on than just a murder with this case?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Lilly.”
“Tiffany Watkins is murdered, Patty Traylor stepped down. Doesn’t that strike you as strange? For God’s sake, Watkins worked for Traylor.”
“Walk me through it. What is your instinct saying?”
“I think that someone is removing obstacles to open up slots for promotion.”
“What’s your proof?”
“I don’t have any.”
“Okay. Then, we work the murder case and keep our eyes open for this gut feeling of yours.”
“Do you think I’m nuts?”
“No. I think your instincts are on point. There something more going on here, and we need to find out what it is.”