Jack sensed a cloud of gloom as soon as he entered the 5th Precinct. The usual rounds of cheers, jokes and witty remarks were replaced with condolences and pats on the back. Jack expected some blame for Larson’s death, but the way everyone was acting, it was as though no one even knew Jack had been down at the docks with Larson that night. Victor must have gotten Jack out of there before the police showed up. It all made sense now. Jack hurried past the rows of officers and headed toward the back of the building. He climbed the steps that led to the Captain’s office, dreading each one. They might not know it, but the Captain probably does, Jack surmised as he hit the top stair. This was one meeting he wished he didn’t have to attend. When he reached the closed door, he stood there for a moment. He took a deep breath and then slowly exhaled. He glanced down the hall to the left where Larson’s office used to be, half expecting to see his old friend in the doorway, but that was just wishful thinking. Finally, he drummed up the courage and knocked on the door.
“Enter!” a gruff voice yelled.
Jack slowly turned the handle. Beads of sweat streamed into his eyes and his heart raced. Calm down, Jack. Just get this over with. He entered the room and stood in the doorway. It had been months since he’d last seen Captain Morgan. He was a giant of man, standing over six feet with a bulging waist, a mop of white hair and beady brown eyes. He could put the fear of God in most men and often did.
“Sit down, Jack,” Morgan said as he lifted a cup to his lips. He took a sip of coffee and placed the cup down on the desk.
Jack sat down in a chair to the right of his former boss. He didn’t want to look at him straight on. He shifted in the chair trying to get comfortable. Sweat still beaded across his forehead, so he took off his fedora and set it on a chair beside him. He pulled a handkerchief out of his pants pocket and dabbed his forehead with it.
“You look nervous, Jack,” Morgan said as he stood up and walked to the edge of his desk. He leaned against it and stared down at Jack.
Jack cleared his throat. “Not nervous, Captain. Still recovering from this wound.” Play it cool, Jack. Just play it cool, he thought as he put the handkerchief back in his pocket.
“Yes, about that wound… how’d that come about, Jack?”
Jack wasn’t sure how much Morgan knew, but he wasn’t about to hang a noose around his own neck either. “Got into a tussle over a dame,” he replied.
Morgan let out a chuckle and crossed his arms. “Same ole Jack, I see. Let’s get down to business, shall we?”
“Well, that’s just it, Captain. I’m not sure I know what business we need to discuss,” Jack replied as he stretched his legs out and settled into the chair.
“It’s about Larson, Jack. You knew him better than anyone. That so-called official story about him down at the docks investigating money laundering, well… I don’t buy it. I should have investigated it myself, but the Commissioner let the 7th Precinct do it because it was in their jurisdiction.”
Jack knew it was a lie. A fabrication between Victor and Morano. It suddenly hit him that Morgan didn’t know the two were cousins. I should tell him, Jack thought, and the he decided he would see how this played out first.
“What makes you think it’s a lie?”
Morgan stood upright and walked over to a filing cabinet. He removed a file and handed it to Jack.
“What’s this?” Jack asked as he took it.
Jack opened the file and scanned the first page, flipped it over and scanned the second. The file contained evidence that Victor had purchased the warehouse down at the pier with money from an account that had been frozen several years prior while he was under investigation for smuggling. He closed the file.
“Is this why Art was down at the pier that night?” Jack asked as he handed the file back to Morgan.
“Maybe, but I don’t know for sure. I found this on Larson’s desk the day after he was shot,” Morgan replied. He tossed the file on his desk and picked up his coffee.
“It doesn’t prove anything, Captain.”
“It proves that Victor owns the property where Larson was found dead.”
“Yeah, but it doesn’t prove that Victor was there that night.”
Morgan eyed Jack as he took a sip of his coffee. He placed the cup down and leaned against his desk again. “I know you don’t owe me any loyalties, Jack, but did Larson call you that night?”
So the Captain doesn’t know, Jack realized. I should just come clean, but if I do, what’s to stop Victor from snatching Dani again? Jack decided to keep the information to himself and bluff his way out of this one.
“No, Captain. I had talked to him earlier that day, but he didn’t call me that night.”
“Damn it! Something is fishy about this whole thing, Jack. I know it!” Morgan exclaimed as he slammed his fist down on the desk. “There’s not one damn file on money laundering and Larson never said a word to me about it.”
“Want me to do some snooping around, Captain?”
Morgan sighed heavily. “I don’t want you to end up dead too, Jack, but my hands are tied.”
Jack gave him a reassuring smile. “I understand, Captain.” He stood up, placed his fedora on his head and stretched his hand out. “I will let you know if I find out anything.”
Morgan shook his hand. “Thanks, Jack. It’s good to know I can still rely on you.”
The Stacked Deck is a noir-style WhoDunIt serial which will appear as 31 parts, told every day in March. I hope you will join me again tomorrow for another exciting part of this story!
The Stacked Deck, copyrighted ©2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved. Permission must be granted to distribute or copy this serial (unless reblogging). Thank you.
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