The murder did not appear to be a typical ordinary street crime. Divine Fury. Chapter 4

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Chapter 4

The Dogpatch neighborhood hugs the eastern edge of San Francisco and is surprisingly close to the city’s downtown.  Once, a working waterfront bustled only a couple of blocks away.  But that stretch of the San Francisco Bay shoreline was abandoned decades ago for parts of the waterfront that could better accommodate huge modern ships.  Now, rotted pilings litter the shoreline.

The blue Toyota Corolla had been abandoned on Terry A. Francois Street, not far from a waterside bar and restaurant known simply as The Ramp. Lee knew it as an out-of-the-way spot frequented by locals where you could sit outside on a warm sunny day.  He’d shared a few pitchers of beer there on lazy Saturdays with old high school friends still sweaty from a game of pick-up basketball.  It was a perfect place to have a burger, watch the gulls dive amid the pilings and catch up with each other’s lives.

A cluster of police cars and an ambulance sat with lights still flashing and blocked half of the two-lane road.  Lee drove past in his Spyder and parked 50 yards farther down the street. He dug around in the glove box until he found an old yellow press pass laminated in plastic.  He hoped it would give him a slightly more exalted status than his small notebook and pen.

He was a lean six-footer a few months shy of 40.  Chinese on his mother’s side and Italian-Scottish on his father’s, Lee’s mixed heritage made him difficult to pigeonhole ethnically.  He was regularly mistaken as being Hawaiian, Filipino…even Mexican and Persian.  His short-cropped black hair was graying steadily on the sides.

It was chilly so Lee threw a navy windbreaker over his light blue golf shirt, black jeans and brown leather Rockports.

As he neared the Toyota and the cluster of police cars, Lee noticed a black woman wearing a dark gray suit with a white dress shirt open at the neck.  Her hair was in a profusion of braids that reached her shoulders.  She wore tinted glasses and seemed to be running the show.

“Hey, Bobbie,” Lee said.  He was glad that Det. Bobbie Connors was working the case.  Unlike the few reporters who routinely covered the cop beat,  Lee didn’t have extensive contacts among the San Francisco police.  But he and Connors had helped each other on a difficult case a couple of years earlier.  He’d come to enjoy her outsized personality and the fact that she never seemed to hide behind her status as a cop.  They’d since shared a couple of beers together.

Lee would have given Connors a ‘hello’ squeeze but for all the other cops around.  He knew some cops hated reporters and wasn’t sure how a show of familiarity would play with her peers.

“Enzo,” said Connors.  “What are you doing here?  Changing beats?”

“Naw,” said Lee.  “Not likely.  Just helping out.  I guess there was a lot of action last night, huh?  Duffy’s pretty jammed.”

“Yeah,” said Connors.  “Just one of those nights.  Full moon or something.  Look, why don’t you stay out of the way and let me finish up a couple things here. I’ll catch you up then.”

“Sure,” said Lee.  He walked a little farther past the cluster of cars.  He slowed when he passed the Toyota.  The back doors were opened and he peeked inside.  He saw the form of a body lying in the back seat, the bottom half covered by a brown blanket.  He could see the brown hair on the top of the head and an orange sweatshirt heavily stained with blood.  It was a mess.

As he waited for Connors, Lee stood on the shoulder of the road that looked out east toward the bay.  He sucked in the ocean air and gazed over the water.  The Bay Bridge ran out to his left.  The office buildings of downtown Oakland stood in the haze across the bay.  A big freighter in dry dock a half-mile away blocked his view on the right.

After 20 minutes Lee saw Connors walking toward him, her black pumps crunching on the gravel along the side of the street.  When she reached him, Connors put one arm around his waist and gave him a big hug.

“Forgot to do this earlier,” she said.

Lee wrapped his arm around her shoulders and returned the hug.  Connors didn’t seem too concerned what the other cops at the scene might think.  But then, Lee knew Connors had often marched to her own drummer during her 20 years in the department.  Not only had she stepped on toes during her quick rise through the ranks, Connors had also been the first lesbian cop to walk in full uniform many years earlier in the city’s annual Pride Parade, celebrating the city’s gay and lesbian culture.  This had mortified some of her superiors.  She had remained an out-of-the closet activist ever since then.

They walked up the street, enjoying the ocean breeze.

“There’s not a lot to tell right now,” Connors began.  “Kid’s name is Scott Truman.  He was 26.  He’s got ID as an employee for the USF Medical Center.  We’ll try to confirm that.”

“He was shot, obviously,” prompted Lee.

“Multiple gunshots to the chest,” she said.  “Witnesses say the car was there all day Sunday.  So, we think he was killed Saturday night or early Sunday and moved here before the morning.”

“Moved?” said Lee.  “Then, where was he killed?”

“Don’t know just yet,” said Connors.  “Got to find his friends, family.  See what he was doing this weekend.  When we figure out where this went down, that will tell us a lot more.”

“Okay.  Thanks for the head start, Bobbie,” said Lee.  “This saves me a lot of time compared to waiting around for everything to filter up through your PR department.  They’re doing their job.  It just takes forever.”

“No problem,” said Connors.  “Who knows?  If the past is any guide, you might turn up something that will help me.”

“Uhhh.  Sure.  I guess it’s possible,” said Lee.  “But I wouldn’t count on it.  I think I’m happy to let you guys deal with this one.”

“Well, there was one more thing you might find interesting,” she said.  “Just a small thing.”

“Okay,” said Lee.  “What is it?”

“Well, whoever put him in the car was wearing gloves,” she said.  “You saw all the blood.  It’s all over.  The seats.  Steering wheel.  But no real prints.  Just smudges.  The kind left by gloves.  You know.  Like the ones they use in hospitals or that we use for that matter.”

“Okay.  So, maybe not your garden-variety street crime then,” said Lee.

“Uh…no,” said Connors.  She chuckled.  “I would say definitely negative on that.  I don’t know many guys on the street packin’ latex.”

Chapters of the serial are published Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

You can learn more about Divine Fury on Amazon.