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Amateur

Movin’ on

In the aftermath of the shoot out in Melbourne, Lisa is called on to help with the investigation and just as it seems the police have run up against the criminal code of silence an unlikely witness takes a stand. The investigation however turns deadly as Lisa and a colleague check out one of the men named as being a possible shooter.

Author’s note: The dog’s yard is prison slang for a protection within the prison where prisoners in danger of losing their lives are housed along with sex offenders and informants.

The beak is a judge and going for the high jump is appealing to a higher court.

The DPP is the Department of Public Prosecutions, the equivalent of the D.A’s office in America.

A show pony is someone who likes to boast but isn’t prepared to do the hard work.

The nature strip is the strip of grass on each side of a suburban strip, the equivalent of a verge in Britain.

One of the things people don’t really understand is police work and crime investigation, due in no small part to the plethora of crime shows on television. There is a common trope that detectives are notoriously stupid except for this one solitary detective who is the star of the show. They are the only ones capable of seeing the big picture or finding that one clue that leads to a conviction but the truth is far removed from that scenario. The police force is the largest gang in any city and we work twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Criminals on the other hand have to sleep and Dimitri was sleeping on Sunday morning when the SOG kicked his door in and hauled him out of bed in his underwear.

Dimitri was a small fish in a rather large pond but he wasn’t about to give anybody up, particularly the gunmen he’d driven to Samantha Beal’s house. Giving us names would only endanger him if he was put into the mainstream prison population and so another deal was struck. The DPP would drop the charges against him if he’d give us names but he wasn’t buying that and so we had to go back to basics and trawl through a list of likely suspects.

Both Barrows and Serbian Steve had a criminal network but despite a lot of door kicking, no one was giving us a name and none of the people we questioned matched the identity. I came into work on Monday to the news that we’d drawn a blank, which meant I’d be trawling through CCTV in pubs and at the racetracks. Byres put me on that specifically because I was due to leave next week, if I was successful at my interview and it was while I was reviewing footage from a pub that I got a call from Lamara.

“Hiya,” I grimaced, “sorry, I’m at work right now.”

“Can you get away? I’ve got Mylene in my office, she’s got some information that might help you.”

“What kind of information?”

“She calls them the gunmen but she won’t give me names.”

“Tell her I’ll be right there,” I checked the clock on the monitor.

Byres raised an eyebrow when I passed on this latest news.

“Do you think she really knows?”

“Hard to say but I said I’d turn up.”

“Take Paula with you, but if she’s just spinning a line I want you both back here, okay?”

“No worries,” I backed out of the office.

Paula was a few years younger than me. She’d made detective eighteen months ago after spending three years in uniform and had spent the first twelve months with the Sexual Crimes Division. She was an attractive woman with a healthy head of blonde hair and bright blue eyes and bow-shaped lips. She could’ve been a model I suppose and she’d certainly gained herself a nickname in Major Crimes as Miss Congeniality although she looked nothing like Sandra Bullock but my colleagues were referring to her fashion sense.

However, despite her eagerness to prove herself, she’d been relegated to office work for the most part and when I told her to come with me she jumped at the chance to get out of the office.

“It’s just all they’ve got me doing at the moment,” she complained, “at this rate I’ll be transferring back to Sex Crimes.”

“You don’t want to be there?” I looked over at her.

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like we’ve got our lives on the line but I’m sick of looking at child porn and at least with Major Crimes I’m dealing with something that doesn’t involve checking out sick videos, I’ve got two kids myself.”

“It’d take a special kind of person to handle that. I don’t think I could do it to be honest but as for the paperwork it is important to get that part right. I’ve seen too many so-called watertight cases fall apart in court because the paperwork was messed up, so don’t look on it as unimportant. You’ll get your chance soon enough, trust me and probably sooner than you think. I’m applying for another job so there’ll be an opening for another detective to take my place.”

She didn’t reply to that until we drew closer to Lamara’s workplace.

“So, where are you going?”

“Myers, head of security.”

“Is it better money?”

“Shit yeah, it actually shocked me and the shift patterns bahis şirketleri are amazing.”

“How do you feel about leaving the force though?”

“It’s not as hard as I thought. To be honest I’d never considered it until this job offer came up but I’m getting tired of putting my life on the line and never knowing if today is going to be my last day on this Earth.”

“My partner says that sometimes,” she replied, “it gets a little tedious nowadays.”

“It goes with the territory,” I grunted.

***

Mylene was waiting in a small conference room not far from Lamara’s office and she managed to give me a smile when I walked in with Lamara.

“Bet you thought you’d seen the last of me.”

“You never know your luck in the big city,” I replied, “this is my colleague, detective constable Beaumont,” I glanced at Lamara, “I’ve heard you might have some information for us.”

“I do but I want a guarantee that I’ll be put into a safe house this time. I heard what happened to that poor chick on Saturday night.”

“I can ask but I need a name first.”

She fiddled with a ring and Lamara spoke up.

“They can’t do anything without a name, sweetie.”

“Tony,” she replied, “Tony Smith, from Broadie.”

“Tony Smith?” I repeated the name, “what’s his connection to Barrows or Serbian Steve?”

“That’s just it, there’s no connection,” she replied, “Tony was big mouthing himself at a party out in Elwood a few months ago and Serbian Steve threw him out on his arse.”

“Uh huh?” I sat down at the table, “so you think Tony might have been responsible for the drive by shooting on Saturday night or is it something else?”

She looked again at Lamara and then turned back to me.

“He kept going on about how he’d knee capped people and he was sucking up Steve’s arse saying he’d watch his back but Steve called him a show pony. Tony pulled a gun and that’s when Steve went off his rocker and king hit him but about a month later I saw him driving Steve down Fitzroy Street.”

“So they kissed and made up,” Paula spoke up.

“Yeah,” she glanced at her, “Tony was a runner for Steve, we called him Steve’s piss boy that was all he was doing, running errands for Steve.”

“What makes you think he was one of the shooters?” I asked.

“Because he’s the last one you’d suspect. You’ve probably got all the others under surveillance but you’d never do that with Tony because he’s got a big mouth.”

“Let me make a phone call, wait here,” I rose and left the room.

I had my doubts but Byres on the other hand thought it was a possibility. Smith had a record as long as my arm for burglaries, assaults and an armed robbery when he was sixteen. He wasn’t the one who took part but he acted as a lookout for the crew who knocked over a 7-11 store in South Yarra. He’d gotten away without a charge because we were focused on the crew. He’d been charged with rape nine months later and sent to prison where he’d been bashed. Nobody likes rapists in jail but Tony had impressed one of the guys and he took him under his wing and taught him the skills he needed to survive in the yard and the shower room.

What was interesting though was the thought that Steve might have used Tony for the shooting, the task didn’t require accuracy and there was doubt that he intended to kill Samantha but a hothead like Tony could perhaps scare her into changing her testimony or refusing to testify, which would seriously damage our case.

All that was moot now that Steve was in the morgue but if Tony was one of the shooters then we had to get him off the streets and Byres asked Paula and I to go over to his place and see if he was at home and if so, we were to call it in and then wait for the SOG to turn up.

“Do not under any circumstances approach the little fucker, just sit back and watch the house, we don’t want another shoot out in a suburban street.”

“What about Mylene?”

“If her information turns out to be credible then we’ll give her the full treatment but speak to the department and see if they can arrange something in the interim.”

I farewelled him and went back to the conference room.

“Okay, we’re going to check him out but we need you to get into a hotel room,” I looked over at Lamara, “can your people arrange that?”

“We can but first I need to speak to God,” she rose, “bear with me.”

“So, you’re going to check him out?” Mylene looked doubtful.

“Yeah, and if he was the shooter then you get the full treatment.”

“What’s that?” Mylene looked alarmed.

“A new identity and we can arrange to have you move interstate if you want to. These people have contacts all over the city so there are certain things you’ll need to consider like how much contact to have with your family.”

“I do want contact with my family,” she replied, “but they’d understand if I couldn’t see them.”

By the time Lamara returned Mylene had settled on a new identity and a move to country Victoria, which wasn’t the full treatment bahis firmaları because she’d still have contact with family.

“Okay, she’s approved three days in a hotel for you and your child,” she looked at her, “but we do need a police escort to help her get her things from home to the hotel room.”

“Just the basics,” Mylene replied, “clothes and sanitary stuff like soap and shampoo.”

***

Broadmeadows or Broadie as the locals call it, is a classic example of lazy government planning, it was built after the Second World War when thousands of migrants flooded in from Europe seeking a new way of life in a country that had escaped the horrors of the Nazi regime. At first they were put into holding camps closer to the city but that became problematic and so they were pushed out to places like Broadmeadows, which was experiencing a building boom. They were essentially just dumped and left to their own devices. Social services were in their infancy and inevitably people had their own ways of solving problems, violence was the preferred method. Broadmeadows joined the list of crime-infected suburbs along with many of the Western suburbs. Broadmeadows’ other claim to fame was the sheepskin moccasin made famous by the Broadie boys. They could be easily kicked off during a fight and they also became known as Broadie wedding shoes.

Tony’s house looked pretty much like all the others, a standard brick veneer house with a small front yard and a driveway. We parked a little way away and I gave a Tony a call on the landline registered to that address. We had a few different methods when it came to this sort of thing. The first was to ask for the person we wanted and if so, pose as someone from a company asking if they wanted to upgrade their mobile phone. We would pretend to take their details and then say, sorry we can’t offer you an upgrade just yet. If someone else answered the phone we’d ask for the person who we wanted to speak to and if they said they’d just go and get them we’d hang up.

As luck would have it, some woman answered the phone.

“Hullo, whaddya want?”

“Hey, is Tony there?”

“Who’s this?”

“Someone he hasn’t seen for awhile.”

“Hey, shithead,” she called out, “some chick on the phone for you.”

I hung up right away and got onto the radio and called it in. I was told to stay in the vicinity and wait for the Special Operations Group (SOG) to arrive. The Soggies were equipped with all the best gizmos and weapons. Amongst ourselves, we changed SOG to sons of God because they were an elite unit although I’ve never had problems dealing with them to be honest. They were always very professional and I have seen situations where they’d disarm an armed assailant instead of shooting him.

Nevertheless, we had to wait and it’s here where things went south. Paula got out of the car to make a private phone call to her mother who was babysitting that day and as luck would have it, she was within view of the front window. I saw movement at the window a minute later and then the door was flung open and Tony stepped out with a pistol. I got out of my car and drew my firearm at the same time but she had her back to the house. He fired, but she turned at the same time and the bullet that should’ve gone into her back grazed her shoulder.

I fired a split second later and the shot hit him high in the chest about where his shoulder-blade was and he jerked back and looked down briefly before glancing up at me. As he turned towards me I fired again and this bullet hit below his Adams apple and that sent him flying onto his back, the gun went off again and the bullet hit a parked car. By then, Paula had drawn her weapon but she was hurt and I moved swiftly forward.

“Are you all right?”

“Yeah,” she replied, “but my shoulder hurts.”

“Get behind that car and call for backup,” I ordered her as I crossed the road.

Just as I reached the start of the driveway however the front window shattered as a man slammed the butt of a shotgun against it. I ducked behind the side fence and dropped to my knee.

“Put the fucking gun down now!”

“Fuck you, pig,” he aimed in my general direction and I got out of sight.

“Police are on their way, come out now if you want to live through this.”

“You fucking killed him,” he shouted back, “you take one of us we take two of you out.”

“He’s not fucking dead yet but if you don’t throw the gun out the window he’s gonna die.”

I heard the blast of a shotgun and looked over in Paula’s direction but she was nowhere to be seen so hopefully she was out of danger. He fired again and shotgun pellets hit the car she was probably hiding behind. It wasn’t going to do her any damage but he fired again and this time the car alarm went off. I chanced a look around the fence, he had a sawn off shotgun, which is lethal in a closed environment like a room but useless outside. Still, there was the chance that a stray pellet could hit me and so I retreated across the road to our car. Paula was kaçak bahis siteleri sitting on the nature strip with her back against the car that had been damaged.

She gave me the thumbs up and I got behind our car and waited. The man with the shotgun fired off another shell, I could see it was a pump action shotgun, which meant he might have several more in the magazine. I heard the siren a moment later and a police car came into view soon after. He fired off another shell and then there was nothing more. I chanced another glance over the bonnet of the car but couldn’t see him at the window. Tony was still lying down but he’d managed to get up onto the front verandah and he had the pistol as well. He was pointing it across the road but because he was wounded he was having trouble focusing on a target.

The man with the shotgun appeared at the flywire door and hauled him inside while I kept my gun trained on him. I wasn’t about to try and take him out because there was a woman inside who might have been an innocent. By the time I got to Paula two more cars had arrived, one had a sergeant and I briefed him and then went back to Paula. The bullet had grazed her shoulder and she was bleeding but if she hadn’t turned it would have been a far more serious, if not fatal, wound. She was in shock though and so I stayed with her whilst other officers knocked on doors and told residents to get into their backyards and stay there.

The SOG arrived minutes later. There’s something to be said for watching them in action, if you’re close enough and we were maintaining an outer cordon. After the exchange of gunfire everything was deathly quiet and then we heard the call go out over the radio.

“All clear, one suspect in custody, the other needs medical help.”

Byres turned up not long after and we got Paula into an ambulance and whisked away for a checkup and Tony was wheeled away on a stretcher.

A woman and two kids were the next to be escorted out and put into a police car, which made me feel a little better that I hadn’t fired at the man with the shotgun.

“Are you okay?” Byres asked me.

“I’m fine sir but I fired back so there’ll be an investigation.”

“No worries, I’ll take your gun now.”

I obliged, hoping it was going to be the last time I’d see it again and then I was sitting in his car and trying to let the adrenaline of the last half an hour subside. I was shaking and he noticed it because he offered me a cigarette, which I took because it gave me something to with my hands. Someone drove my car back and I rode back to the station with him later for a formal debriefing, it’s what we have to do after any incident like this and when we came to the end of my chat with two colleagues we got the news that Tony would survive. He was in the intensive care unit but doctors were pretty confident that he’d pull through.

Sometime around three o’clock I finally stepped outside and called Lamara and told her that there had been an incident but I was unharmed.

“Thank fuck for that,” she breathed, “I heard about an incident in Broadmeadows.”

I stared out at the traffic and tried to think of something to say. If she’d been just a friend then I’d have stuck to the same script but we were involved, sort of and so I gave her a little information, I didn’t give out the name of the guy in hospital but I confirmed I’d pulled the trigger.

“So you’ll be in therapy then.”

“Yeah, it’s pretty much par for the course,” I replied.

“Fancy dropping in after your shift or would you rather just go home?”

I hesitated for a few seconds and then agreed but it felt as if I’d given up my independence but two hours later I was pulling into her drive. What I remember most about that night was the way Milo greeted me, like I was a part of the family. Lamara looked a little bemused as she handed me a cup of coffee.

“Sorry it’s nothing stronger, I’m not really a drinker as a rule.”

“Thanks,” I replied.

“So, how was the mandatory review?”

“Tiring, I get asked the same questions but in a different way. It’s standard police procedure to see if your story stacks up. The one thing that kept coming up was why I didn’t give him a warning but he came out shooting and my colleague was in danger.”

“Split second decisions are hard to question,” she replied, “it’s the fight or flight reaction.”

“I reckon that Paula might come in for some hard questioning.”

“Uh huh?”

I told her about the minute before the shooting when she’d been in view of the house, he would’ve seen the pistol on her hip if he’d been looking outside. I should’ve called her back and told her to make the call out of sight of the house but I hadn’t.

“Try not to relive it. You might have done things differently or maybe not, you wake up in the same place and repeat the same old cycle over and over, it’ll drive you mad.”

“I’m on light duties for the next month although if this interview is successful then I might be out of the force by then. I just hope this doesn’t impact negatively when I’m being interviewed.”

“I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

We talked a little more that night and she made some dinner. I didn’t stay the night but she kissed me at the front door.

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