MMM disagreement

CHAPTER 20

It was Friday night at the pub and Riago Restorini made his customary entrance. His whiny tenori demand interrupted the status quo.

“Who’s sitting in my booth? Better move or else.”

Bodies shuffled and Riago plopped down in his bully booth and yelled for a beer.

Anticipating his next demand and hoping to postpone what might happen, Joe, the barkeeper on duty set a schooner down.

“Here ya go, Dago.”

A couple quick gulps and louder than usual Restorini’s nightly rant began.

“Didanyofya see FOX News today?”

No one responded, but he didn’t need a prompt.

“We’re gonna have a Space Force. Maybe we’ll be having Star Wars after all.”

A voice from the bar responded,

“Yeah. I guess our military can’t kill enough regular humans to suit our glorious leader.”

Joe the barkeep muttered, “Nighthawks at the pub. It looks like it’s gonna be a long one.”

Over three hours of Restorini and O’Brien exchanging opposite points of view on everything. Regardless of whatever either of them brought up, the arguments took up permanent residence in the booth and got louder, more aggressive and antagonistic. Other customers just simply ordered and drank more in hopes the booze would drown them out. It didn’t but the till kept promising the best Friday night take in many a moon.

Like most political disagreements they eventually centered on religious differences. As a devout but non-practicing Roman Catholic, Restorini was spouting dogma, doctrine and documentation. O’Brien continued to parry and thrust with a sharpened-end rebuttal of an Orange Irish Native American. Having been raised on the Flathead reservation in Montana, O’Brien had many stories for evidence about the Priests who had tried to save several generations of Native American families from their perceived pagan roots.

Not deterred by what he considered polemical nonsense, Restorini countered.

“All you non-believers are going straight to hell.”

“I’m not an atheist. I just haven’t decided yet.”

“The darkest corner of Hell is reserved for all you agnostic bastards who can’t make up your mind.”

“That’s one thing I can tell you for sure. Combat is hell. I’ve already been there.”

“You ain’t seen nothing yet, Injun.”

When the rest of the patrons could no longer hold a civil conversation, they gave up and joined the fight. With the dividing line so darkly drawn in the clay colored sawdust of the bar’s wooden floor there was nothing left to do but break bottles, windows and furniture. Five minutes of what was becoming a mind-bending melee and Joe called the cops.

 

 

MMM finders keepers

CHAPTER 19

The Sports complex parking lot across from the High School looked mostly deserted. There was only one vehicle on the southeast corner of the lot.

“That looks like a Humvee.”

“Yep. Let’s check out the plates.”

“KTI Lucky 7 XMT”

“Call it in and let’s see what the hell it’s doing here?”

“Charlie Nine to Dispatch, Come in over.”

“What ya got, Charlie Niner?”“A license for verification. It’s KTI Lucky 7 XMT.”

Long pause and Dispatch breaks in with,

“DMV says that’s Kalispell Tribal Casino Security. They’re located in Airway Heights.”

“Tell Ben to call ‘em. See if he can out what it’s doing here.”

“Will do.”

“We’re on our way in. Need to drop Sean off at the Hospital to meet his mom. We’re 10-7. Over and out.”

When Mullenix and Sean pulled into the Hospital parking lot, they found Fancher and Randy waiting. Edna had the Camaro idling alongside and was talking to Randy.

“How did it go?”

“Piece of cake, Mom.”

“What’s that mean, Randy?”

“Well nothing much happened. Officer Fancher said his job was usually 95 percent boredom and 5 percent stark terror. All we got this time was the boring part.”

“That’s good, Randy. Were you able to talk to Sean during the shift?”

“A couple of times. You can quiz him now. They just pulled in on the other side.”

Beating his Mom to the punch, Sean scrambled out of the squad car and into the front seat of the Camaro.

“Hey Mom. Didya miss us?”

“Terribly, Sean. It was slow at the ER for a change. How was your ride-a-long shift?”

‘I learned how streets are named, how the town is mapped out and what a quadrant is.”

“But no crimes or shootouts, right?”

“Nope. But we did find a Humvee that had to be identified by the DMV.”

“Where was that?”

“In that big lot at the Deer Park Sports Complex. It belonged to some casino.

Officer Mullenix said that DI Perrini will be checking it out.”

“I’m sure he will.”

MMM how now?

CHAPTER 18

Michael O’Brien’s one room studio apartment across the street from Hayward Park in Spokane was his first attempt at living alone. Before joining the Marines, he was always at home. In the service even though he thought of himself an individual, he always ate, slept and spent every minute of every day in the company of others. It was barracks life, in squad or company, always with other people. Skinhead or buzz cut even the haircuts demanded uniformity. After his discharge one of the first things to do was to recover the cherished long hair of being Native American. Before and after work, he had four walls, an army cot for a bed, a toilet/shower, a make-shift kitchen counter/sink, one table and chair. Faced with three days of watching paint dry before going back to his security job, O’Brien had promised himself a day trip. Since this was going to be a covert op he decided to roll his hair in a man bun. Like most of the men in the country he put on a baseball cap backwards.

After the graveyard shift of driving around the perimeter of the casino complex O’Brien had left his Security uniform and paraphernalia in his locker. With the weekend ahead, he was taking the Humvee home. That was not only allowed but encouraged. The logo on the door panels and pinto pony paint job attracted a lot of customers. It also played hell with his need to keep a low profile. Coasting down Sunset Boulevard, the drive to his apartment was uneventful and safe. Homeagin Finnegin and not wanting to waste any free time, he decided not to go to bed.  The camouflage jacket, new T-shirt and cargo pants and baseball cap would work for the next three days.

Setting the GPS in the Humvee for destination Clayton, O’Brien headed East on Sprague, left on Division and motored North waiting for the voice to say “stay left at the Y”.

Like the Montana tourist he was the road signs and billboards made the trip North on SR395 less boring than it was for locals. Wandermere Golf club on the right, Commelini’s Junction on the left, Graffmiller’s Barn at Half Moon Prairie Grange, Wild Rose road, the metropolis of Deer Park on the right and he was almost there.  Not knowing where to begin, his search for the half-sister his dad told him about looked like it might be challenging.

When he got as to Clayton he was hungry and thirsty. A blink of the eye put the Humvee on the outskirts of town. An abrupt but safe U-turn in lieu of three lefts and a right put him back in town. Coming through town he had noticed the Clayton Hamburger Restaurant and a sign for Birdy’s Sports Bar. Of the two choices the Brew pub looked like it might be the best option.

No other cars in the lot told him this wasn’t the truckers regular stop. It was 2:00 PM and the place was deader than door nail. Walking through the swinging doors the barkeep greeted O’Brien with cordial but limited enthusiasm.

“What’ll ya have, stranger?”

“Are you sure you’ve got room for one more?”

“You must be the entertainment, buddy. Show time isn’t until 9:00 PM and right now it’s between lunch break and the dinner hour. Cookie’s out for a smoke if it’s food you’re looking for. I can pour you a cold one while you’re waiting.”

“Got any O’Brien Beer on tap?”

“That’s East Coast or import. Our supplier is always out or so he says. Can I draw ya a Coors light?’

“Not a happy choice but after the drive up here it’s any draft in a storm. Where’s your menu?”

“On the wall. It changes every day. Depends on what’s available at CMT Butcher Shop and Yokes Market in Deer Park. Cook’s back online and that BT burger, medium well is popular.”

After O’Brien had gagged down the half raw hamburger and sloshed it down with the warm beer his focus changed a bit. He began to ponder where he might be able to spend the night.

More customers drifted in and the sound level rose accordingly.  With a quiet “Howdy” an older man in a cowboy hat joined O’Brien at the bar.

Figuring that introduction was adequate, O’Brien responded.

“Excuse me, pardner. Could you recommend a place to bed down for a couple of nights?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MMM goes around and around

CHAPTER 17

When Edna told Sean that he and Randy could actually ride around in a cop car, he got excited. His imagination sparked with siren, rotating lights and a high-speed chase. It didn’t include a crash, explosion and the obligatory ambulance and EMT crew. Randy on the other hand, remembering being the target of his brother’s BB gun was less enthused.

All things considered and encouraged by their mother, they decided to give the detective’s offer of teenage supervision a try.

After school on Wednesday, the boys reported to the desk sergeant at Police HQ ready to sign in and ride shotgun for their first tour of duty. The two patrol officers on duty flipped a coin to see who would get saddled with the boys. After three tosses and to break a tie they finally agreed to each take one.

“OK. What’s your name kid?”

“Randy Roadkill.”

“Really?”

“Yep.”

“Well I’m Officer Elias Fancher. Call me “L” for short.  We’re in the Black and White DPPD marked C 8 outside. We’ll prowl the North end today. Your brother can ride with George in C 9.”

“Okey Dokey, Smokey.”

“Try not to be a smartass, Roadkill. Mount up. We’ve got a route to run.”

As the first Police Cruiser pulled out the other officer picked up the indoctrination strand.

“The log says you’re Sean O’Toole. Are you guys brothers?”

“Same mother, different fathers. You got a problem with that?”

“Definitely not. That’s kinda normal now days, right?”

“Right.”

“Good. OK Sean, since we’re going to be on patrol together, you need to know I’m Officer George Mullenix.  If things get too exciting for you, call me George.”

“When things get hot, I’m usually pretty cool, Officer.

“I guess we’ll find out. We’ll run the Southwest quadrant first.”

“What’s a quadrant?”

“Haven’t you guys had any geometry yet?”

“No. What’s school got to do with this job?”

“It sounds like you’ve got a lot to learn, Buddy. I’ll draw you a picture when we get back. Just read the street signs.

“It would be easier if I could see it.”

“It means four directions, like NW, NE, SW and SE.”

“That sounds like some kind of code.”

“When we finish cruising the neighborhood, I’ll show you one on the wall. Right now, we need to get a move on.”

Underway, Police Cruiser C 9 left City Hall on East Crawford heading West. A couple of blocks brought them to the main crossroad intersection of Deer Park. Turning South on Main, Sean started reading the street signs. After a couple of blocks, he discovered that early residents in a creative splurge had named the intersecting streets in alphabetical order. When they got to H street, Officer Mullenix turned left. Since this was the most recently annexed part of town the street was being newly paved. The oil was fresh and sticking to the tires. Thanks to recent City Council’s vote to impose a LID on the owners of the lots and houses in that part of town, the smell, mess and aggravating sound was an added benefit.
The radio crackled with, “Charlie Niner come in.”

Pointing at Sean, Mullinix said, “Let ‘em know we’re listening.”

“What do I say?”

“Charlie Niner here.”

Sean’s’ parroting, brought, Randy’s,

Charlie Eight here. Not much goin’ on in the North end. Just the usual, garbage trucks onschedule, no kids or bikes in the street so far.  What’s up in the South end?, over”

Mullenix responded this time.

“Same-oh, same-oh on this end, Charlie Niner, over.”

Fancher’s two-cents jumped in,

“Coffee and donuts have left us in need of a public convenience, so we’re going 10-7 to relieve the situation. We’ll be on monitor if you need backup. Check back in when we’re able. Over and out.”

“Roger that.”

Without missing a beat, Officer Mullenix continued with, “Hey, Dispatch. Are you awake?”

“No, but I’m not asleep. No calls. It’s been pretty dead and that’s the way we like it, over”

“Right. We’re about half done. We’re headed up past the water tower and over on to Weber. We’ll buzz back South now and prowl the Southeast quad.”

Dispatch crackled in again, “Ben just yelled, he says, check out the parking lots at the High School and the Sports Complex.”

“Tell him it’s on the bottom of our list. If we find anything, he’ll be the first to know, Charlie Niner, over and out.”

 

 

 

 

 

MMM what comes around

CHAPTER 16

A couple of months earlier, Sean and Randy had begged their mother to drive them to a rock concert. She couldn’t find a reason not to. Pleading and promising prevailed and she gave in. That Friday night Edna found herself at loose ends with three hours to burn. She had dropped off the boys at the Loon Lake Moose Lodge Hall at 8:30. Benny and the Banshees were the headline group for the show. The poster on the door said it was to be the first concert in their most recent Last and Final Tour before breaking up. They probably wouldn’t get on until midnight but for the boys, they were worth the wait. For Edna, twelve dollars a head for three hours of ear drum torturous teenage supervision was a bargain. And Sean and Randy didn’t want to miss it.

In order to save gas and driving time, Edna decided drop in to Birdy’s Sports Bar and Pub in Clayton. Always in need of leisure time and social interaction for purely selfish reasons, the idea of having a beer sounded appealing. Under the heading of rest and relaxation after a hard day’s night, it had often proved to be beneficial. She had stopped in there before.

Edna trying to enter the bar unnoticed was greeted at the door by the bartender.

“It’s been awhile, Edna. What brings you in tonight?”

“I had to drop off my boys up in Loon Lake.”

“Are they going skinny dipping in the dark?”

“Funny funnee. No. They’re going to spend the evening listening and bashing to their favorite grunge bunch, Benny Flanigan’s band. Those goofy half Irish noisemakers are playing the Loon Lake Moose crowd. Cheap teenage baby-sitting.”

“Got it. OK, then. What will ya have, Edna?”, Joe knew what she ordered, but Edna hadn’t stopped in since last month.

“Make it a tall cold schooner but hold the shot this time. I still need to pick up my kids and drive home.”

Sitting in a side booth with no audience for his nightly rant, Riago Lestioni butted in with, “I’ll buy that beer. Don’t rush off. The night’s young”.

His nightly visits to the bar provided relaxation and a bully pulpit for his political views. Sacco and Vanzetti were popular subjects for his rants.

As Joe brought the schooner, Edna joined Riago in the booth. The cold beer worked and some of the ER shit of the day slipped away. Making a feeble attempt at small talk to acknowledge the beer Riago bought, she began,

“You guys have no idea what I’ve had to deal with today.  Drunks, skunks, pussy willows in one guy’s ears, baby puke, dementia and diarrhea for starters. I thought the shift would never end.”

“That sounds like something out of an old Dutch painting.

“Well, it sure wasn’t a pretty picture to be in. Anything else would have been a helluva a lot easier to deal with. Anyhow, it’s over for now.

“And we’re glad you made it here.”

After a big swallow of beer and a couple of deep breaths, Edna’s small talk continued.

“So. . . what do you do for entertainment in this town?”

Clayton, population 443 was founded in 1889 and named for nearby clay deposits. Catering to the workers at the plant, Birdy’s Sport’s Bar opened in the building that had formerly housed the Salvation Army.  Lestioni’s family were Italian immigrants that had emigrated from Banya de Lucca in northern Italy and settled in Vermont before moving to Clayton. When the old man died, Riago and his older brother Federico dropped out of school to help support the family.

“I work at the plant with my hands, but I’m really an artist.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. Architects used to make a rough sketch of an ornament for a building.  I shaped the clay, then it was baked in the kiln.  The details were mine.”

“Could you make a living at that?”

“I could until the damn government and politics got involved.”

“What do you mean?”

“Building codes changed and designs had to be more practical than ornamental. The work dried up. Guys started drifting away.”

“And now?”

“I did some drifting myself and then I came back.”

“Yeah, I feel your pain. Nursing is like that, too. You finally get a routine down and some damn hospital bean-counter comes in and changes everything.”

“Right! A bed pan is a bedpan and a mop is a mop.”

Taking a quick gulp of his beer, Riago continued, “Anyway when my work dried up I left town for an extended “walkabout” as the aborigines call it.”

Riago’s “walkabout” took him to Minneapolis, Salina, Kansas and San Diego, California where he shipped out for points South. Finding himself in dire straits in Guatemala, he sailed as a deck hand on a tramp tanker to Tahiti. He suffered from an advanced case of “small guy syndrome” but enjoyed the danger of risk, whether on land or sea.

With the beer lubricating the story and having a captive audience Riago went on,

“It was mostly risky business and I always carried a weapon in case I needed an equalizer. After a couple years I came back, got a job in the brickyard and started painting for my peace of mind”

Finally figuring out who she was dealing with Edna faintly remembered she had heard his paintings were armed with attitude and had made quite a public stir. No surprise.

Riago’s peace of mind provoked Edna’s response.

“Fascinating, that sounds like a piece of “His”tory.  Not much of a “Her” story.”

“I met a number of hers, but none of them stuck for any length of time.”

“I can’t imagine why. You don’t sound like the strong silent type. Do you still carry a weapon in case you feel threatened?”

As he reached under the table, Edna slid sideways in the booth and Riago pulled a Ruger 22 pistol out of his ankle holster.

“OK! OK!! Put it back. I don’t need to see that shit.”

Joe, approaching the booth with another round, muttered, “I’ve warned you about that crap, Dago! This isn’t Sicily. Do I need to call the law?”

 

MMM quest for truth

CHAPTER 15

When Mac met Ben at the hospital and reported his fruitless search of the crime scene at the orchard, he made a tactical decision.

Even though the victim had Native American connections there wasn’t enough similarities between the First Nation Bands of British Columbia and the Native American tribes of Western Montana, Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington to warrant spending any more time in the US.

“Since I didn’t find a weapon or any new evidence, that puts a different spin on it, Ben. I think I need to bail out of this investigation and get back to Trail.”

“Damn it all, Mac. I thought we were a team again. Why, now?”

“Job and family, Ben. Not necessarily in that order, but . . . “

It took all of about five minutes to explain his thinking to Ben and another ten to hit the highway back to BC and the duties he’d been ignoring.

Tuesdays were Edna’s first day off. Like a weekend, with four on and three off, shift work at the ER always left her tired and run down. Faced with being a mother of two teenage boys and keeping a household together was a lot to ask of a single parent.  Going back to the Court House for more questions wasn’t very high on her list of things to do. The thought of being arrested made finding out what the detective wanted was her best option.

On edge, but alert she waited for Ben Perrini to show up.

“Thanks a lot for coming in again, Mrs. Running Eagle. That’s quite a mouthful.”

“If that’s too much for you, you can call me Edna.”

“OK, then. Edna it is. I imagine you’re wondering why we wanted to talk to you.”

“Right, or I wouldn’t be here. I think an explanation would be a good place to start.”

“Well, we’ve gotten some facts from our online data sources, but we need more specifics.

Federal and State sites have indicated that there may be a connection of some sort between you and our victim.”

“Really? And what might that be?”

“It’s not clear at this point but we thought you might be able to shed some light on it.”

“OK, shoot.”

“We found out that your husband was killed in Viet Nam.”

“That’s right. The only way I was able to go to college and Nursing school was to use his survivor benefits from the government.”

“That checks out, so the first question is what was your maiden name?”

“Grimaldo was the name on my birth certificate. My mother was married to a drunk when I was born. She divorced him when I was about ten but I was stuck with the name.”

“It turns out the dead guy’s name was O’Brien, not Grimaldo. That rules out blood, but we’ll need a DNA sample to be sure.”

“Right. I’ll be glad to provide one. So, are we finished here?”

“Not completely. We need to dig a little deeper. What was your mother’s maiden name?”

“Eagle Creek.”

“OK. Maybe we’re on to something there.”

“Oh yeah?  You mean you are still trying to pin this murder on some injun in the woodpile?”

“No. Not at all. We just have to touch all the bases, that’s all.”

“Do I need an attorney?”

“We’re not charging you with anything, Edna. This is not a witch hunt or fishing expedition. We need to eliminate the possibility of any connection. It looks like we can cross off Running Eagle, Grimaldo and Eagle Creek, but there’s still a break in the line.”

“I asked the Medical Examiner for a photo and would like you to take a look at it. It’s post-mortem but that shouldn’t bother you. Have you ever seen this guy?”

“No.”

“You’re too quick.  Take a longer look. I need you to be sure.”

“All Indians look alike, the only good one is a dead one, seen one seen’em all, Right?”

“No disrespect intended, Edna.  I’m just trying to get to the bottom of this and make sure we find who did it.”

“Can we hurry this up? I need to be at the Hospital before the swing shift starts. My kids are at home alone after school and on their own until I get home after midnight,”

“That’s not the best of plans for two teenage boys, Edna.”

“I know that, but there’s no extended family available for supervision. Any suggestions?”

“How about signing them up for a little after school learning? They could volunteer to ride around with one of our neighborhood patrols.  Come down, sign in, ride around and then have the cop on duty drop them off at the hospital when your shift is over.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yes. We have an open-door policy. It’s In the best interests of community input and police department transparency. Having another pair of eyes in the car makes the job more accountable. What a cop has to do is open to public scrutiny and that’s a good thing.”

“Is anybody else doing this on a regular basis?”

“We’ve got a couple of retired military that put in a shift or two when they feel like it.”

“That’s different. They’re experienced adults.”

“And except for the coffee and doughnuts, they’re sleepy most of the time.”

“Are they armed?”

“No. Of course not. They just ride along and sometimes take notes. It would be a great way for your boys to learn police protocol.”

“What would happen to my kids if they got an armed robbery call?”

 

 

 

MMM the begat began

CHAPTER 14

Adam Eagle Creek’s wife Evelyn Atsila, after giving birth to five babies in rapid succession died in childbirth with the sixth one. They named him Geronimo, after Evelyn’s grandfather. And now there were six. Three boys and three girls. The oldest, was now 18 years old and a girl.  They had named her Adama after her father.  When faced with six kids and no wife, Adam was in a fix. He had a wrecking and reconstruction business to run. With no one to carry the load at home, his only contribution was to whimper and feel sorry for himself.  He had with all the good intentions in the world created a large family without thinking of possible consequences. In desperation and panic mode, he told Adama she had to become the mother figure for all of the surviving kids. Not yet ready to leave her siblings stranded with her grief-stricken father, Adama stepped into the breach.

On Saturdays, the one night of the week her dad was at home, Adama had gotten into a routine of visiting her Aunt Chloe Ann in Clayton, Washington.  Adam Eagle Creek’s sister was living alone in a small house left to her when her husband had been killed in a logging accident. For Adama getting away for even one night was a life-saving event.  Meeting other people or going to a movie relieved her from the strain of being a daughter/housewife and a surrogate mother for her five siblings. Being able to stay overnight in Clayton was a much-needed guilty pleasure. Unfortunately, when her grandmother had passed away during childbirth, she was one month into to her first pregnancy.

It was late that Fall when Adama first realized that one night of fun and relaxation had resulted in a big problem for her. With no husband and no chance of finding one in sight, the threat and promise of bearing a child seemed insurmountable. When her father found out, he got busy looking for any port in a storm.  What he found was Bruno Grimaldo, one of his nightly drinking buddies. Grimaldo was a 45-year-old, butcher, baker and ice cream maker and Adam made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.  Bruno had never married and even though he knew that he wasn’t the expected child’s father, after a night of extra heavy drinking, he reluctantly agreed to marry Adama before the birth. The bad news was that Bruno had an insatiable thirst for Dago Red, Thunderbird or any bottle or can that was already open. Edna Grimaldo was born shortly after the arranged marriage.

Ten years of daily alcoholic trouble was more than enough. Adama, after consulting with Edna divorced Bruno. Taking Edna with her, she moved back to the reservation settling in again with her dad and the rest of her surviving now adult siblings. With most of them either married or just shacking up and populating the house, it wasn’t an ideal situation but might have been manageable on a short-term basis. Everyone was just waiting and jockeying for space to see who would leave first. Nobody bothered to let Edna know that Bruno wasn’t her biological father.

For Edna living in close relationships with her aunts and uncles and a goodly number of cousins only slightly younger than her self, the formative years that followed were a horrendous mix of good, bad and indifferent.  At age eighteen Edna, hoping for something a little better, moved out of the still growing Eagle Creek clan. After a whirlwind courtship she decided to marry Roger Running Eagle.  Roger was already in the Marines and an Avionics Tech crewmember of a Helicopter Squadron. His unit had been assigned to serve as advisors to the South Vietnamese Army. The helicopter Roger Running Eagle was in crashed due to a mechanical failure.  Before the war officially began, Roger was killed without ever having met the enemy and his remains were never recovered.  As tragic and useless as Roger’s death was, it helped Edna escape the fever and congestion of the Eagle Creek household. Relief trumped grief.

Facing the reality of her situation Edna Running Eagle knew she didn’t want repeat her mother’s go back home pattern. After burying her short-term husband, newly widowed Edna decided to use her military survivor benefits and go to college and earn a nursing degree.