Mystery and Crime Fiction posted December 31, 2013 Chapters:  ...25 26 -27- 28... 


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A chapter in the book Fatal Beauty

The Uninvited Guest

by Mastery



Background
Cleve confronts Lisecki at his home.










I was as taut as a strung bow, as I drove home from Clyde Hargrove's place. I knew I had Professor Lisecki right where I wanted him. The pieces of the puzzle were coming together like leaves settling to the bottom of a pool.

The setting sun behind me was red in the mirror as I drove back to my place. As much as I hated it, the showdown at Lisecki's home would have to wait until the next day. It would take some planning, and with no warrant I couldn't afford to screw up.

I knew Lisecki would be working at the college during the day, and although I thought about pulling a B&E on his house, I was sure he had security systems in place that would nail me before I got to his door. I decided the best way to gain entry without setting off all sorts of alarms, would be to have him let me in the house.

Timing would be critical, so I called the university and was told Lisecki's last class was at two-thirty in the afternoon; I figured he'd be home by four-thirty at the latest. I had the entire day to prepare before I went out there.

When I got back to the apartment, I checked the machine for messages. There were none, and although I was disappointed that Mo hadn't called in a few days, I had no right to consider that since I hadn't called her either. I was sure she would understand. I needed time to think and analyze everything Clyde Hargrove had told me and figure my plan once I got inside Lisecki's house.

Grabbing an Old Style from the fridge, I turned the radio to some blues on WGMR and went out onto the balcony. I stood in the warm night air and enjoyed the cold beer. The smell of a neighbor's freshly mowed grass was still strong in the early spring evening, and it automatically carried me back to my teenage years of doing yard work. Good times.

I watched the sunset turn into long strips of maroon clouds, back dropped by a moment of robin's-egg blueness on the earth's rim. The light drained from the sky and I listened to the distant hum of rush-hour traffic on Lakeshore Drive. Leaning my elbows on the railing, I ruminated about my plan for the next day.

I couldn't depend on the cooperation of the Chicago Police Department. At least not yet. My former partner, Kris Branoff, had made it crystal clear that I wasn't to mess with the professor. I was to stay away from him, and in fact, Branoff had suggested he wouldn't even consider getting a warrant to search Lisecki's house, no matter what. I knew that was bullshit, but he was the man in charge at homicide, so I'd pretend to go with the flow.

Eventually homicide would have to get involved, whether Branoff liked it or not. I was disappointed in my former partner because he allowed an asshole like Lewis Lisecki to control his investigating capabilities. Having no warrant when I went out to the professor's place could make for an interesting situation when the shit hit the fan. Nevertheless, I had my mind made up, I would take Lisecki down by myself and worry about consequences later. Branoff could kiss my ass.

I didn't know if my plan was clever or just plain stupid, but I was determined. I went inside and got another beer. I felt a bit jittery about the whole deal and it was times like this when I wished I hadn't quit smoking.

Plain and simple: Lisecki was guilty. He lied about knowing Bart Hodgkins. Not only that, but he had paid to bail the scumbag out of jail. Why? I could only conclude that Lisecki put up the money because he was worried about the possibility of Hodgkins opening his mouth. Who knew what Bart would do under intense pressure of interrogation? Perhaps confess to something incriminating, including the admission that Lisecki was his partner in crime. I even toyed with the idea that Lisecki may have had something to do with the unusual circumstances surrounding Bart Hodgkin's death.

Since we already knew that Bart was a killer, it followed that Lisecki was probably involved too. He thought himself untouchable, but I had the feeling I could stick thumbtacks deep into his scalp with relative ease. He was most likely the brains behind the abductions of the women who were ultimately raped, tortured and killed. In my mind it all fit, but I wasn't sure what I would find in Lisecki's house to nail it down. At best it was a crapshoot and I knew it, but I had always followed my gut.

Four beers and a couple of hot dog sandwiches later, I fell asleep on the couch, watching reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond.

***********
Before I left the next afternoon, I slipped the 9mm Glock in a shoulder holster and pulled my right trouser leg up over my sock, exposing the hideaway .25 that was Velcro-strapped to my ankle.

Lisecki's house was located on the outskirts of Rolling Hills. It was a huge place, white and towering, as I came up the hill toward it. Across the front and around the side of the house was a wide porch. It appeared to stand alone on roughly twenty acres, with a pine plantation at the far end, and a half-dozen pear trees clustered in an expansive back yard.

I noticed the flower beds along the front of the house were weedless and obviously received constant care. Between them and the road the long wide lawn was thick and well cut. To one side of the house there was a neglected apple orchard, the trees barren and twisted like broken fingers in the air. Knee-high field grass surrounded the dying trees.

The driveway was concrete, and at the entrance there was a mailbox with a hand-painted sign on an adjoining pole that said "Home of the Brain." Egotistical bastard, I thought.

A forest-green Mercedes was parked in front of a three-car garage. I pulled my Crown Vic up alongside the car and hesitated a bit before I got out and walked to the front door. Above the door was a fan-shaped stained-glass window.

I rang the bell and heard loud chimes ring inside. Lisecki opened the door. He wore a pale gray Italian suit with an open-necked black dress shirt. Somehow he looked different without the suit, tie and glasses I'd seen him wearing at the university. A tasteful gold bracelet clung to his left wrist just below a diamond Rolex.

He was soft-looking, overweight and pasty-faced, with thinning hair, and I remembered he had one of those faces you instinctively don't like--pinched and perpetually frowning, with high prominent cheekbones. His eyes were narrow, and his eyeballs seemed fixed in their sockets.

He looked shocked at first; then there was a glint of hope in his eyes before he sagged. Opening the door just a crack, he said, "Yes--can I help you?"

I flipped my ID at him and said, "Yes, Professor, I'm Cleve Hawkins, remember me?"

"Ah, yes, Mr. Hawkins . . . what can I do for you?"

"Well, for starters you could show some manners and allow me to come in for a moment."

"I don't see why I should after all, I . . ."

"I do," I said, as I shoved the door open and bumped past him.

"Hey! Who do you think you are, sir? You can't just come barging in here like some storm trooper. I'm calling the police, right now." His left eye flickered with an unexpected tension.

"Yes, I agree, we're gonna call the cops, but not just yet, Lewis." I crowded in on him, and he backed up. The closer I got the faster he retreated out of the foyer and down a polished oak-floored hall, past a curving stairway. A Persian rug covered the floor in the foyer. I admired the cathedral ceiling that enhanced the interior as Lisecki unintentionally led me to the inner sanctum of his den.

Determined to get to the phone, he wheeled around and marched to his desk. He was barely there when he reached out and seized the receiver fiercely, as if it were the neck of a cobra. I smacked his hand when the receiver was barely off the cradle.

"I said later, Lewis."

He studied me as if he were deciding whether or not I would back down. "How dare you? That's assault, Mister. You just assaulted me."

"Not yet, I haven't, but if you don't sit down and shut up I'll show you assault."

"I don't appreciate the intrusion, Sir," he huffed and struggled to get his breath as I edged past him and took in the surroundings.

"Nice digs you've got here, Lewis. Make good money, do we?"

"That's none of your damned business and I want you to leave this instant. You have no right to come . . ."

I whirled around to face him. "I said, shut up and sit down."

About thirty pounds of unnecessary stomach spilled over his belt. He shifted his weight on his small buttocks and wet his lips before he sat in the swivel chair behind the desk. "What?" he said, looking stung. "What do you want here?"

"I'm here to look around, Lewis. I want to see what else you're hiding." I continued to wander around the room as we talked.

"What? What do you mean by that? I'm not hiding a thing. I don't have to." He acted neither angry or pleased. "I looked into you," he said. "Everybody said you thought you were tough and funny."

"And good natured."

"No. You are an abrasive, mean man, and, I've also learned you're a killer. That's why they took your badge, Hawkins."

I stood next to the desk. "Why are you so obnoxious? Is it because you're fat and ugly, or is it because you're fat and dumb? It's a mystery to me." I grinned. "And, you're a liar, Lewis."

"Says who?"

"Says me. You told me you never heard of Bart Hodgkins, but I can prove you not only know him, but you're asshole buddies with him."

"You're wrong. I said I didn't know him and I didn't"

"That's not what Joan Vidross says."

Lewis shrugged as if he didn't care. At first he remained as calm as a spider waiting at the edge of its web, but then, his cheeks turned red and his eyes narrowed. His face collapsed into a pile of gravity-ravaged tissue that pulled his eyes, nose and mouth downward into a scowl.

"Ha! You can't believe anything that woman says. An unhappy and unstable woman, that one. She was doomed from the moment she tumbled from the womb. Joan's a member of the Women's Wine and Whine Club. She lies and will do anything or say anything to get what she wants." His mouth opened and closed like a goldfish pecking at the surface, and his breathing was labored.

"Really? Well, she was right here the night you made your deal with Clyde Hargrove. Remember that? The night you paid Clyde two hundred dollars to go into town and bail Bart out of jail?" I leaned over the desk. "By the way, I noticed you used Bart's name in the past tense. How are you aware that something happened to Hodgkins?"

Lisecki opened his middle drawer and came out with a gun. I was ready for him, and slammed my Glock down on the back of his wrist, and it cracked against the edge of the desk. His gun rattled across the desk top and fell on the floor. He could tell I wasn't impressed. The only thing that would have scared me more would have been if he threatened to flog me with a dandelion.

He doubled up over his hand and made a repetitive grunting noise, rocking back and forth in his swivel chair, drooling and making sounds that were very much like crying.

I scooped up Lewis's gun, yanked him out of the chair and shoved him against the wall, pinning him like an insect to a board. His breath came in broken, disjointed spasms; he turned his blubbering face away from me.

"Now, my perverted friend, you're going to take me on a tour of this house, room by fucking room. Let's go!"


Recognized


Characters: Cleve Hawkins . . . Detective (Ex cop)
Deckle . . .A homeless friend.
Maureen . . .Cleve's ex-girlfriend
Kris Branoff . . . Detective active with Chicago Police.
Florence Rhorman . . .Mother of Missing girl.
Bart . . . A serial killer
Lewis Lisecki . . . A serial killer
Joan Vidross...ex-girlfriend of Lisecki's
Clyde Nowack...Joan's live-in boyfriend

Thanks again to Dean Kuch for the Artwork
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