I entered through the garage and sneaked in past the empty watch commander’s desk. Wilkins office sat to the left as I made my way up the hallway, ATM met me at the door. Wilkins was staring at the computer screen when I walked in.
I shot him in the shoulder, and he hit the ground with a thud. ATM grabbed his wounded arm and wrenched his arm back, I grabbed the other, and we zip tied him. ATM shoved him out of the office and down the hallway. I led the way out and ensured no one was waiting for us. Outside, I ran my hands into Wilkins’ pockets and found his keys. The vehicle’s taillights flashed when I pressed the unlock button, and we shoved Wilkins to it.
I popped the trunk and told Wilkins, “Get in.”
“Screw you, guy.”
ATM clubbed him and slammed his head off the bumper. “Get in the trunk, please.”
Wilkins climbed into the trunk, and I slammed the lid closed. Then, ATM and I drove to the warehouse for one last mission. ATM unlocked the door, and I dragged Wilkins out of the trunk. I shoved him into the office where I had corrected Smith and Tate, and I bound Wilkins to the chair. He still leaked blood from the wound I gave him at the precinct, and I smiled.
I’ll give him credit; Wilkins showed no fear. Anger, he had plenty of, but he didn’t squirm, nor did he flinch when I laid out my tools. ATM sat in the corner and watched.
“Do you know why you’re here, Wilkins?”
“I’m assuming it has something to do with your whore daughter.”
His eyes were flat, dead even, and I smiled. He grinned at me, and I returned it. “You’re like Tate,” I said, wagging my finger at him. “You’re a tough guy.”
“I’m tough enough.”
“Let’s test that and find out.”
Wilkins sucked on his teeth and whispered, “Let’s do it.”
“Here’s the deal, Wilkins. You can go free if you confess what you and your cronies did to my daughter. I just want my daughter avenged.”
“Old man, haven’t you heard the expression you can’t rape the willing? We did nothing that whore didn’t beg us to do to her. So, you want to be mad at someone, be mad at yourself. Cause you should have taught her about people like us.”
I picked up the hammer, and Wilkins never flinched. Even after I pulled off his shoes, Wilkins showed no fear. In fact, he seemed downright giddy for me to torture him, something was off. “You’re free to go,” I said, as I handed him his shoes to him. He blanched and stared at me. “Go on, Wilkins. Get on out of here.”
“What? Do you know who I am? What I’m capable of doing to you at any time?”
“Do I look like I care, Wilkins? You already took the only thing in my life that I cared about from me. You have no power here.”
Even as I said it, I felt like this was what Janie would want me to do. I couldn’t explain it. Janie would show mercy, and Wilkins, he needed it more than anyone I knew. Wilkins scoffed and pulled his boots on; his hatred for me written all over his face. His lips pulled back into a sneer, his eyes bright with thoughts of revenge, his fists tightly clenched until his knuckles were as white as snow. I knew he wouldn’t hesitate to end me if the roles were reversed.
And perhaps that was my saving grace.
ATM and I watched as Wilkins stormed out of the building. “You sure you know what you’re doing?” I shrugged, I had no idea if what I planned would work or not, but it seemed like the only path that didn’t lead to immediate death.
ATM cocked his head and shrugged. “We better get to it then, before Wilkins makes it to a pay phone.” My friend and I climbed into the squad car and raced back to the precinct. He pulled right up front of the police station, the lights and siren flashing, and I stepped out of the vehicle and walked through the door and up to the desk sergeant.
“May I help you, sir?”
“Yes sir, I’m here to turn myself in.”
The desk sergeant stared at me for a long moment, and then said, “Oh yeah? Have you hurt someone?”
“Yes sir, I’ve hurt two people, but in my defense, they raped and killed my daughter.”
“And who are these people?”
“That I hurt? Detectives Tate and Smith. I shot Wilkins too, but he’s on his way back in now.”
The desk sergeant leapt to his feet, drew his sidearm, and shouted, “Do not move!” He seemed nervous, so I stayed still. He came around the desk, and police officers swarmed the area, weapons in hand. “Raise your hands,” the desk sergeant yelled.
“Okay, don’t shoot me. I’m lifting my hands.”
Slowly I lifted my hands above my hands and was tackled to the ground. The desk sergeant wrenched my arms behind my back and handcuffed me. I turned my head to look outside and saw reporters and television camera operators rushing the building. ATM was long gone, but the plan was still in effect.
As a matter of fact, you could say the show was just beginning.
Reporters pushed in, cameras flashed, and the police officers tried to stop the stampede of journalists from crowding us, but it was all in naught. After leaving me in the clutches of the police, ATM had ditched the squad car and wiped it down, but not before sounding out the call that the person behind the heinous attacks of Detectives Smith and Tate had turned himself in. Then, he dialed Claire.
I was shoved into an interview room and handcuffed to the table. A lone guard stood in the corner and kept me under observation. Outside the door, I could hear the police trying to herd the journalists outside to no avail, and over the commotion, I heard Claire’s voice.
“I’m here to speak with my client, his name is Joe Freeman.”
Claire was led into the interview room, and the guard walked out. “Was it worth it? Hmm? Did you get your revenge upon those who harmed you?” I shrugged and smiled at Claire. “What would you do, Claire, if someone destroyed your world?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, that’s an honest answer. Did ATM give you the device?”
Will it work in my defense?”
“Perhaps. That was your plan all along, wasn’t it?”
“Yes, but it needed to be convincing.”
“Well, you definitely made it that. You’re scheduled for trial on the 19th. Tomorrow is your bail hearing, although I don’t expect they will grant it.”
The door swung open, and Wilkins barged in. He snarled and pointed at a finger at me and shouted, “You’re dead! Just wait until you get to prison boy, I’m gonna make your life hell!”
Claire looked up from her seat, and said, “Oh yeah? How do you plan to do that?” Claire stood and shoved the tape recorder near his mouth and said, “Go on, Lieutenant. Tell us all how you plan to kill my client in prison.”
Wilkins wiped at the spittle that formed at the corner of his mouth, his eyes wide with rage, and he hungrily gulped the air into his lungs. “This ain’t over.”
After Claire finished her interview, I was taken to holding. At 0800, I was taken to the courtroom to be arraigned. The bailiff called out ‘all rise’, so I stood. Claire stood next to me, and when the judge sat down, she motioned for us to sit down. “Call the first case,” she ordered the bailiff.
“Docket number 17-9NP, Freeman vs. Mississippi, your honor.”
“Counselor, your client seeks bail. Are you serious? He maimed two men, kidnapped, and threatened another. His victims were police officers, for God’s sake.”
“Yes, your honor. I know how it looks, but last night Lt. Wilkins said this to my client.” Claire handed the judge the recording, and the judge shook her head. “Two wrongs don’t make a right, counselor. Your client is violent.”
“Yes ma’am, but this is his first offense, and I see violent people get bail all the time. I’m only asking you to show the same leniency to my client.”
The judge, an older woman with dark gray hair, thin lips, and dead eyes shook her head and pounded the gavel, “Bail’s set at a million dollars. Next!” I was led out of the room, but an hour later, Claire walked in with an officer, and I was released.
“Wow.” I whispered to Claire as we walked out of the police precinct, every officer stared at us, and I could feel their loathing and hatred upon my back. “ATM says you owe him.” I let out a heavy sigh and nodded. “Yeah, I owe him more than one.”
I stayed with Claire until the trial date. Claire defended me with much vigor, and every evening she sat down with reporters and presented my side of the story. Word got out and the homeless community stood outside of electronic stores and watched the trial on television. After closing arguments, the jury went out to deliberate. I waited with Claire in the empty courtroom. Hours passed, and still the jury hadn’t returned. This went on for weeks.
“I’m ready to get this over with,” I muttered to Claire. Wilkins sat across from us and glared at us the whole time. Claire had presented the evidence ATM had given to Claire from when I let Wilkins leave without further damage to him. Upon hearing that Claire had presented evidence of Wilkins confessing to the ‘non rape’ of Janie, multiple women came forward with testimonials of suffering similar fates from the trio of detectives.
All three now faced multiple counts of corruption, rape, and murder for hire. On Friday of the third week of deliberation, the jury returned.
“Will the defendant rise? Madam foreman, has the jury reached a verdict.”
“Your honor, we have failed to reach a verdict, and it appears neither side is willing to compromise.”
“Then, I have no choice but to declare this a mistrial. Mr. Freeman, you’re free to go.”
Elation flooded my heart, and I turned to face Claire. A smile crossed her lips, and she pulled me into a tight hug. “Thank you, Claire. I’ll never work off this debt to you.” ATM slapped me on the back, and I walked out onto the landing in front of the courthouse. Reporters clamored around me, yelling questions, and taking photographs, and then someone screamed.
The sea of reporters ran in different directions and a shot rang out. The bullet hit me center mass; Wilkins stood a few steps from me, gun in hand and laughed. The police tackled him and handcuffed him. Blood leaked from my chest and mouth, and I said, “Janie…” I reached for her hand, and then we were together again.