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The next morning Steve called Ralph. Rafferty listened to one side of the conversation.
“Yeah, it was kind of a shock but thanks for getting it to me.”
“I appreciate it. I don’t need much right now just some information. Do you have anything on where that video came from or who is getting the money?”
“Well, can you email me the details?”
He reeled off an email address that he had created just that morning.
“Thanks. If you find anything else, sent it to Stu. He can get it to me.”
He hung up the phone. He found Rafferty sitting on the edge of the bed expectantly.
“The website where the video is posted is hosted somewhere in Hong Kong. Not much way to get any other information. The payment portal is also in Hong Kong. They are working on finding out who is running it and where the money goes. He can’t tell me much more because it is a joint operation between them and the feds.”
She sat and thought a moment.
“Do you think your wife was involved in this thing and she was killed to keep her quiet?”
“No, she wasn’t that clever.”
“I don’t know and that’s what bugs me. Why would they kill her and why in such a gruesome fashion and why video tape it?”
“At 50 grand a copy that could be very lucrative.”
He walked to the window and stared out.
“We need to find out who this mystery man on the key holder list is.”
He grabbed the phone and made some calls. She listened quietly to the first one.
“Yes, it is me. Do you know Angus McDuff. He is on the keyholder list.”
He hung up and dialed another number. He asked the same question and got the same answer each time. It seemed that no one knew Angus McDuff or had ever met him. They had no idea where he got a key.
“This is getting stranger and stranger. Nothing fits together. None of the other keyholders knows anything about this guy.”
“You haven’t talked to all of them”
He looked up at her.
“You haven’t talked to Cogborn. Isn’t he on the keyholder list as well?”
“God damn Rafferty. I may keep you around yet. I was overlooking the obvious. Let’s give old Cogborn a call.”
Steve dialed the phone.
“Mr. Cogborn, this is detective Stevens.”
“How the hell did you get this number?”
“Never mind that I need to ask you a few questions.”
“Fuck you. I don’t have to answer anything.”
“True, but before you hang up, think about this. I have not only the member list from the group, I have talked to the entire board and I know who the keyholders are to that building. You can either answer my questions now or face a grand jury when we present this to them.”
“What do you want to know?”
“Who is Angus McDuff?”
“I have no idea.”
“He is on your member list and had a key and you don’t know who he is?”
“Not a clue.”
“If you figure it out or if you suddenly remember let me know.”
“I’m sure I won’t remember anything.”
“I bet you won’t.”
He hung up the phone and looked at her.
“That’s one slimy bastard. He denies any knowledge of one Angus McDuff so somebody on that list is lying.”
“Which one do you think it is.”
“I don’t know, but there is one way to find out. The bylaws of the group state that every new member must be vouched for by an existing member and their application voted on by the board. Somewhere there is a record of that.”
He picked up the folder of material, thumbed through it until he found the list of the board members. He grabbed the phone.
“Yes Sir. This is detective Stevens.”
“Nothing yet, but I have a few more questions.”
“You are the board secretary, correct?”
“Can you look back through the minutes of your meetings and tell me who vouched for Angus McDuff.”
“I can wait.”
“Thank you sir.”
He hung up the phone and had a wicked grin on his face.
She looked at him expectantly
“Mr. Albert Cogborn, attorney at law vouched for Mr. McDuff, he paid his membership fee in cash and no one has ever seen Mr. McDuff at a meeting.”
“You think Cogborn set up a dummy membership.”
“That would make sense. It would throw suspicion away from him and to someone else. It was a clumsy attempt. He should be smart enough to know that we would eventually figure it out.”
“Let’s see if we can blow some more smoke down the weasel hole.”
He picked up the phone and dialed the number on the list for McDuff. He got a recording saying the number was out of service. He immediately called Cogborn.
“What do you want now?”
“You have current contact information on everyone in the organization, right?”
“Then you get in touch with Mr. McDuff and tell him I want to talk canlı bahis şirketleri to him ASAP. Give him this number. If I don’t hear from him, I am going to issue a felony warrant for his arrest and he can answer my questions in an interrogation room downtown.”
He hung up the phone and looked at her.
“Now we wait.”
“You really think you will hear anything?”
“Something will happen. Cogborn will panic and run or he will find someone to play the part of McDuff.”
Several hours later the phone rang.
He heard a raspy strange voice on the other end.
“This is McDUff. You wanted to talk to me.”
“Mr. McDuff, I have some questions I would like to ask but I would like to do it in person. Can we meet this afternoon?”
“I have business all afternoon. We can meet this evening.”
“How about you meet me at the amusement park at the taco stand at 9pm?”
“I guess so.”
“Good. I will be there.”
The phone went silent and he looked at Rafferty.
“We have found our weasel or the weasels rat! One way or the other I think we are close to finding out what this is all about.”
At 8:30 he was in position at the taco stand in the amusement park. The crowd was a little smaller tonight but still plenty of activity to make it almost impossible to start anything nefarious without raising a lot of alarm.
At 9:15 he was sure that McDuff wasn’t coming. By 9:30 he was convinced. He keyed the small radio
“Rafferty are you there?”
He looked around as he hurried to the concealed spot he had left her and found nothing. He broke and ran to the parking lot. The car she was driving was still there.
He dug the cell phone from his pocket and dialed the number of the phone she was carrying. He heard it click
“Rafferty, where the hell are you?”
He MsDUff’s raspy strange voice.
“She is fine Stevens and might remain so. If you want to meet me you will come to the old Donagin Manufacturing building, park in the back and come down the back stairs.”
The phone went silent.
He sprinted to his car and sped from the parking lot. It took him almost 30 minutes to get to the address across town in a heavy industrial section. The building was a large manufacturing plant that appeared to be deserted and abandoned. He parked at the back in the shadows and slowly approached the door way. Peeking around the corner h coeuld see the bottom of the stairs. Staying close to one wall he eased down the stairs, the Glock drawn and ready. At the bottom, he found another door. The knob slowly easily. Pushing the door open slowly, he was startled to heard a familiar voice.
“Come on in Steve.”
Pushing open the door he stopped dead in his tracks.
It looked like the same setup as the building downtown. Dungeon equipment scattered about but he also saw that on one side was what looked like a complete video studio. In the middle of the set, illuminated by the bright lights was Rafferty. She was tied to a cross, stretched tightly. Her wrists pulled up above her head and her ankles pulled wide apart and tied tightly to the bottom legs of the cross. She was gagged and naked. He could see that there were already some bruises showing on her face. Red welts crisscrossed her belly. He head hung down and she appeared to be unconscious.
Like he had been slapped with a cold wet towel, everything fell into place. Steve took a step toward Stu.
“God Damn it Stu.”
“Hello to you too Steve. I think you know Cogborn”
“I should have known something was up when you suggested meeting at the amusement park.”
“I couldn’t resist. You think you are so goddamned smart. I knew where you would stash Rafferty and it was easy to get in and out with a badge. That goofy kid who sells tickets didn’t even look up when I flashed it.”
“You are a good detective, Steve. too damned good it seems. Even I couldn’t keep you confused enough to throw you off the track. I probably could have made it work if that idiot of a chief hadn’t ordered me to put you on admin leave and let you keep your badge. I thought if I sent Rafferty with you I could keep tabs on you, but it seems you have corrupted our young eager detective. I should have known that the bomb thing wouldn’t scare you off. You are too pigheaded to let it go.”
“It was you who bombed my house?”
“No, that was Cogborn’s idea and Cogburn’s goons. I knew you weren’t staying there so I let him go ahead.”
“And Rafferty’s House?”
“That was me. I decided it might throw you off. I wanted it look like whoever tossed her house thought you were dead and was warning her off.”
Steve looked from the bound woman back to the two men.
“Steve, before you try something stupid, check up there.”
He canlı kaçak iddaa looked back to the set where Rafferty hung on the cross unmoving and saw another figure standing behind the cross. He saw the flash of a blade.
“That was a nice knife she was carrying. He managed to slice Richard with it before he took it away from her. He is still pretty pissed and I think he wants to exact a little more revenge on her before we are through. He already has a little fun as you can see. She screams real nice.”
“Just what the fuck are you going to do? She doesn’t figure into this.”
“Sure she does. You got her to close. I suspect that you are banging her as well. I don’t blame you. In fact, before we are done here I imagine all of us are going to get a taste of it.”
Stu motioned to the gun Steve still held.
Steve tossed the pistol to one side. It clattered to the floor, the sound sharp in the large space.
“Do you mind explaining to me just how you figure unto this?”
“Steve. You haven’t the foggiest yet do you. Let me explain.”
“I found about the Dashwood group almost accidentally. A friend was a member and told me about some of their activities. He put me in contact with Cogborn. I had a plan to make some extra money. Most of these people are wealthy and in very sensitive positions. You know as well as I do that cops make shit and I didn’t want to spend my retirement sitting in a bank lobby somewhere nodding off in the afternoons.”
“Now you are catching on. And it was going swimmingly. We had arranged a gangbang deal and were going to catch 5 of our more prominent members in the act but we needed a woman. You remember Robert, our friend from Detroit. He was our initial contact into the video black-market. Once we had our contacts in place, he became a liability with the FBI hot on his tail. Anyway, he asked around some of the swing clubs and your wife’s name came up. He and Richard went to pick her up that night and bring her to the building. It was a sweet set up. She was willing and doing one hell of a job. That bitch could fuck. I got there late and walked into the scene and before I realized what was happening your wife recognized me and I recognized her.”
Stu leaned back against the table, the gun still pointing at Steve but in a more relaxed way.
“We let the whole thing continue. Your wife was a trooper. She fucked like a machine. She even asked me if I was going to join in. After it was over, we bundled the marks off and secured the video tape. Then we had to decide what to do with your tramp of a wife. There was no way I could let her go now that she knew me. It was Cogborn who suggested the video. He was our contact into the market now and took care of all the business arrangements. He said if we could make a snuff video, we could make more from each video than we had doing the whole blackmail scheme. He is the one that thought up the idea of the sharp pole. I think he is probably some kind of sex pervert.”
“And you aren’t?”
“Hell, no! This is all strictly business. Big business. I was really upset that your wife happened into this, but, profits before personal feelings.”
So my wife was just an unhappy accident.”
“Yeah, if she hadn’t been such a slut she would still be alive.”
“So it was you who set this whole thing up.”
Me and Cogborn. Poor Robert wasn’t to keen. He was a career criminal but one with just a touch to many morals. He really didn’t want to participate but Richard there managed to convince him. A 45 at your back doesn’t leave you with a lot of choices. Like I said he was a liability anyway. The FBI was looking for him on a piracy count. We couldn’t have the feds sniffing around especially now. He had to go.”
“You are some sick fucks.”
“Yeah, but we are making a shit ton of money. We have already sold over 300 copies of that video. It is amazing how many Arab and Chinese millionaires want that kind of shit.”
“And I suppose that me and Rafferty are the next video?”
“See, you do catch on quick. We are going to make a nice long video of Rafferty up there being tortured to death. Richard is intent on making it last hours. He really is a sadistic bastard and now he has a personal interest since Rafferty sliced him up. You are going to watch and then you will be the finale. We get the video, you get dead, and we have a wind up to our case. Pervert detective kills his wife after catching her in a S&M sex scene with her partner, then kills his partner/mistress and suicides. We wrap this up in a nice neat package and send it off. We move this whole operation to a new facility and continue to make scads of money. Cogborn thinks if Rafferty last at least an hour, we can get more than a $100,000 a copy for it on the black canlı kaçak bahis market. You, my friend, are going to make me a multimillionaire.”
“Somebody is going to figure this out.”
“Yeah. you’re right. I can stall it off for a while since I am in charge of homicide. Every good businessman always has an exit strategy. When the time comes, a plane ride to a nice non-extradition country on the shoreline, the millions in the bank and the continuing sales of the videos mean I get to I live like a king.”
“You’re a sicker fuck than Cogborn. He’s just a pervert. You’re a fucking bastard.”
“Now Steve, no need to get vulgar. Any way, if you’ll walk over there and sit in that chair, we can get you fixed up to watch your little whore in her starring role.”
Steve felt the muzzle of the Glock punch his back prodding him toward the chair. He considered his options. Even if he took out Stu, the guy on the stage would use that knife on Rafferty before he would have a chance to close the distance.
He sat in the chair and again sized up the scene. He saw the guy on the stage move off several feet toward a table covered with the torture implements he meant to use on Rafferty. Steve took the opportunity. His hand came out of his left pocket with the blade held downward. He reached for the gun with his right hand and twisted it out of the way. Stu reacted just as he had anticipated by grabbing his wrist to try and turn the gun back toward him. The knife flashed over Stu’s arm and slashed across Stu’s face, opening his cheek from the bridge of his nose to the corner of his jaw. Steve felt the blade grate against teeth and bone. Stu howled, dropping the gun and sank to his knees trying to staunch the flow of blood with his hands. Steve dove for the gun and rolled trying to bring the pistol to bear on Richard who was turning to look at the commotion near the center of the room. Steve saw the big man spin as he realized something was horribly wrong. He leapt toward the stage with the knife still in his hand. Steve came up on one knee desperate to get a clear sight picture before Richard could get to the stage. Just as he was about to fire, a single shot came from the behind him and Richard crumpled into a heap on the stage just feet from Rafferty. Steve rolled to his other side and brought the pistol around trying to find the source of the shot.
“Steve. Its Ralph. The Geek Squad. I got 4 other officers here. We’re going to come out into the light.”
He watched the five men come into view spread out across the back of the room. They were dressed in black tactical gear. One of the other officers had Cogborn handcuffed.
Steve rolled to his feet. Without thinking he turned and ran to the stage. Finding the knife the dead manhad dropped, he cut the rope that held Rafferty’s arms and legs to the cross. She collapsed into his arms and he carried her to the chair. Placing her in the chair, he covered her with his jacket. Only then did he look at Ralph.
“How long have you guys been on to this.”
“About 36 hours after you got that video from me. Our guys cracked the payment site and tracked the funds back to an offshore bank. It took a bit of doing but the feds got the bank to give up the account holders. You can imagine the surprise when it came back to our friend Cogborn.”
“I thought Stu was running the show?”
He looked over at Stu who was still bleeding on the floor. Paramedics were tending to his cut face as officers were placing him in handcuffs.
“He was. Cogborn was his front. We suspect that when it came time to run Cogborn was going to end up somewhere hard to find and dead. Stu would disappear. We would easily find out that “Cogborn” had left the country and Stu would get off the plane, ditch Cogburns passport. Stu would end up with the money from the video, Cogborn’s millions and a villa on the beach in some far away country.”
“Jesus. All that shit going on right here in our fair city.”
“Yeah. The feds are rolling up the rest of the people involved in this. Of course, we can’t touch the people in Hong Kong who are dealing the stuff, which means we can’t get the videos off the internet. Even if we took them down, there are enough copies now that they will be available forever.”
“Can we go?”
“We will need to get statements from you both but that can wait until tomorrow.”
Roger knelt next to Rafferty.
“You sure you don’t want to go to the hospital and get checked out?”
“Thanks, but will be fine.”
Rogers eyes went to Steve for confirmation.
“She’s a tough one. She’ll be ok. I will take care of her.”
Ralph looked at him with a raised eyebrow.
“Hey. We are partners. Partners look out for each other.”
Steve found her clothes, or what was left of them, behind the stage. He helped her put on what was salvageable and then put his coat over her shoulders.
“You ok partner?”
“Yeah. A Little bruised but nothing that won’t heal.”
“Ready to go.”
“Where are we going?”
“No, our house.”
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