Monday, July 2, 2018

The Sunshine City Chronicles, The Freshmen- Part 11: Hook, Line and Sinker

June 10, 2018,
14:02 local time,
Sunshine City Police Headquarters,
Sunshine City, Sonora

“Harv,” said Morgan on the phone with Bullock as he drove to the station. “Harvey...listen to me. I know what you're feeling...but you're feeling it all wrong...Kirkman fed that info to April O'Neil to throw us off and undermine our investigation...I watched that press conference...April didn't goad Kirkman into anything...that was all him...trust me, man...no one leaked anything.”
“Yeah, well,” said Bullock, unmoved. “I don't care what your profiling mumbo-jumbo tells you...I can't leave this to chance. Just leave me your phone when you get here...I gotta look through it.”
“Harv,” said Morgan, “you're overreacting. I mean, I'll play along, but...you're going after the wrong fish.”

Just then, Bullock hung up the phone as he had to ring in an unexpected guest.

“Hi April,” said Bullock, pleasantly surprised that April O'Neil had paid him a visit.
“Hey Harvey,” said O'Neil, shaking his hand and then taking her seat. “Long time no see.”
“Thankfully we haven't had a 'notorious' crime for you to cover in a while,” said Bullock with a smile. “Of course this one is...quite a doozy.”
“Tell me about it,” said O'Neil. “The President has been so odd lately...I'm beginning to think he had Martin Coleman killed.”
“Really?” said Bullock, intrigued by O'Neil's words. “How do you figure that?”
“On Tuesday,” said O'Neil, “I read about Martin's death and started to do some research on him...he posted a screenshot of his high school yearbook on his social media accounts and noted he went to high school with Tom Kirkman. I found that quite interesting...so, on Friday, I went to Montreal to visit Tom while he was self-indulging himself by unveiling that horrible statue of him in that park and...I asked him about Martin.”

O'Neil then leaned forward and looked Bullock in the eye.

“Do you want to know what the funny thing is?” she said, Bullock's interest really piqued at this point.
“What is the funny thing?” said Bullock, eagerly anticipating O'Neil's answer.
“I asked Tom about Martin's death,” said O'Neil. “I didn't mention anything about him getting murdered, and I didn't say anything about how Martin died because I couldn't find that information anywhere. Yet there was Tom, revealing to me that Martin was poisoned, right on the stand for all to hear. He tried to tell me after the event that he misspoke and accidentally revealed classified information but I saw through that...it was a total excuse. He's hiding something.”

Bullock was momentarily relieved hearing O'Neil say she didn't have a source for her question, but his gut told him to verify the statement.

“So, wait,” said Bullock, “you didn't hear from anyone that Martin was poisoned?”

O'Neil smiled and relaxed her demeanour, hoping it would relax Bullock.

“I know what you're thinking,” said O'Neil. “You think you have a leak at the station...but I can assure you that you do not. At least no one leaked to me...I'll even show you my phone if you don't believe me.”
“No no,” said Bullock, who was now fully relieved. “I believe you...I don't need to see your phone.”
“Now, of course, someone could have leaked that info to Tom,” said O'Neil. “Why they would do that, I don't know.”
“We have some supporters on staff,” said Bullock. “I'll still have to investigate the leak...which will take time. I know that in my official communique to the President's legal counsel I did not mention that Martin was poisoned. In fact, I didn't even mention that it was Martin who was killed...just that we were conducting a murder investigation and that it required a DNA sample from Kirkman.”
“Oh?” said O'Neil, her eyes and ears perked up. “You asked for his DNA? Why?”
“Crazy story,” said Bullock. “A woman came to us a few days ago telling this story that she's Tom's biological daughter, conceived on the same night her mother was raped. Tom, Martin and a few other friends had stayed at the Paradise Resort and one of them raped this woman's mother, which led to the conception of the woman. Martin had come down to Sunshine City for research, upon which we think Tom- or, more likely, a lackey- came down and killed Martin, using poison to do it.”
“What kind of poison?” asked O'Neil.
“That we're going to keep under wraps,” said Bullock. “It's a highly specific M.O., so I hope you understand.
“I do,” said O'Neil with a smile.

She then pondered for a moment before continuing.

“So Tom Kirkman has a lovechild,” said O'Neil, finding this information interesting, “and Martin was murdered to cover this up.”
“Basically,” said Bullock.
“Where is this lovechild?” said O'Neil. “Do you mind if I get in touch with her?”
“By all means,” said Bullock. “Her name is Raven...she's staying here at the station, I'll lead you to her. Maybe you can interview her and bring her story to the wider public.”
“I'll do it on live TV,” said O'Neil. “It'll have more impact...and it may pressure President Kirkman into providing that DNA you need, just so that part of the story 'goes away'.”
“That's a great idea,” said Bullock. “I always knew you were an asset, April.”
“I care about justice as much as you do,” said O'Neil as both she and Bullock got up from their chairs. “I'm always here to help.”

Just as Bullock escorted O'Neil out of his office and started to lead her to Raven, he saw out of the corner of his eye an interesting person at the front reception.

“Kimble Hookstraten​?” he said, making O'Neil turn to look as well.
“It is Kimble Hookstraten,” said O'Neil, just as shocked as Bullock was. “What's she doing here?”
“I don't know,” said Bullock, who decided to usher O'Neil to Raven before dealing with Hookstraten.

Once he was finished with O'Neil, he met Hookstraten himself at the receptionist's desk and brought her in.

“Madam Speaker,” said Bullock, extending his hand. “I'm Police Chief Harvey Bullock.”
“I was ready to ask for you,” said Hookstraten, shaking Bullock's hand. “I have some important information on a case you're working on.”
“Tell me inside,” said Bullock.

The two then made their way to Bullock's office.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams that I'd be getting a lead from the Speaker of the House of Representatives,” said Bullock, still in shock.
“It's a bizarre situation,” said Hookstraten, “but this is a bizarre case. I was tasked to it by Aaron Shore, who was worried the President may not be telling the truth about his dealings with Martin Coleman.”
“Right,” said Bullock, “because if he looks for it, he's 'undermining the President', whereas if you look into it...well, it's your job to undermine the President.”
“I wouldn't quite put it in those terms,” said Hookstraten, “but, yes, there will be less eyebrows raised if I push back on something the President does or says.”

Bullock chuckled in acknowledgement before getting back to business.

“So I understand you have a lead,” said Bullock.
“Yes,” said Hookstraten. “Or, rather, a concern that I was hoping you'd clear up for me. See, I took it upon myself to interview both Jim Zack and Cory Fellows...both of them denied having raped Nancy Simpson but they confirmed that Kirkman and Simpson both met and went back to their motel rooms, where 'the deed' supposedly happened and Kirkman impregnated Nancy. Jim and Cory assert that Kirkman raped Nancy...they say they actually saw Kirkman do the act.”
“They saw him?” said Bullock, not hiding his shock.
“Yes,” said Hookstraten. “The four of them went back to Kirkman's motel room along with Nancy and they all drank heavily...which eventually led to Kirkman raping Nancy.”
“Well, if we've got witnesses,” said Bullock, “looks like we've got an ironclad case.”

Bullock chuckled and then offered a restrained smile.

“Problem is,” said Bullock, “when I talked to them, they asserted that no one raped Nancy...everything that happened that night was consensual. So it's odd they changed their story.”
“Interesting,” said Hookstraten, intrigued by Bullock's words, “but that's not what I found odd.”
“Oh?” said Bullock.

Hookstraten leaned forward and looked Bullock in the eye.

“No,” said Hookstraten. “Though I find it interesting they changed their story for me, what I found interesting is that they both told me that they had to deal with someone called 'The Beaver', who contacted them for over a year, essentially since Kirkman got elected. This 'Beaver' never left any explicit threats...but he kept asking them about Nancy and if they'd ever speak up about her. At one point, The Beaver even offered a monetary settlement so that neither would talk about her. I'd be curious to know if Martin Coleman also heard from this 'Beaver'.”

Bullock looked on, his interest piqued.

“We reviewed Coleman's phone records,” he said. “I never once saw him refer to a 'Beaver'...but 'The Beaver' could have been stored under a different name in his phone.”
“It could be,” said Hookstraten. “I just want to know who he is.”
“It could be two things,” said Bullock. “One, it's a reference to female genitalia, which would be an odd alias to use but it's not out of the question. Or-”
“It's Kirkman,” said Hookstraten, realizing where Bullock was going. “Tom is Canadian...and the beaver is their national animal.”
“I doubt Kirkman personally contacted them, though,” said Bullock. “He wouldn't have the time...he likely hired someone to threaten Jim and Cory, and likely Martin as well, eventually killing Martin as well. Tom Kirkman is a smart guy...he wouldn't get his hands dirty.”

Bullock leaned back and let out a sigh.

“Well, we've sure got a lot of questions,” he said.”
“Questions Tom Kirkman are going to have to answer,” said Hookstraten pointedly.