Arnold Labadie had served as an officer in the NOPD for fifteen years. He started as a patrolman working mostly in East New Orleans. After nine years on the force he managed to get a promotion to Sergeant and at the same time was appointed to the Homicide Squad. He had worked homicides all over the city.
Homicide officers rarely took a day off. Crime happened twenty-four/seven and often it was late at night. Labadie owned a tiny shotgun house on Monticello Avenue just off River Road in Jefferson Parish. There had been some move afoot in recent months about forcing all NOPD cops to actually live within Orleans Parish but so far nothing had been done about it. Arnold hoped nothing would come of it because, despite living in his tiny bungalow with only a German shepherd to keep him company, he liked it. Besides, if he stood in his front yard he could throw a rock over into Orleans Parish. He was that close.
On those night’s when he was able to go home, Arnold drove right by Jake’s Place. He often stopped in for a drink. Jake’s was the perfect place to stop and unwind. No stop lights and no traffic between him and home. Especially late at night. He could drink all he wanted and not worry about having to drive.
Jake lost the first round. He set up two beers and two whiskeys. They clinked glasses, tossed the whiskey back at the same time and then followed it with a long draw from their beers.
“So, Arnold. I saw in this morning’s paper that there was some excitement in the neighborhood Friday night. You involved in the investigation?” Jake hoped it sounded like just idle chatter. Something to talk about.
– Page 78 –
“Oh yeah. It’s pretty well summed up in the paper. Our best guess is that the big guy was looking for somebody to rob when he saw the couple start down the driveway. We think he approached them and when the fellow put up a fight the big guy started pummeling him. When he did the girl screamed and scared the big guy. Afraid the scream would attract attention, he finished the job on her boyfriend and then shoved her down to get her to stop screaming or maybe he just tried to grab her to shut her up and she tripped. Whatever actually happened, whether she was pushed or just fell down, she hit her head on the corner of the stoop and was knocked unconscious. It’s lucky she’s gonna survive or it would be a double homicide. As it is the big guy is only facing one count of murder, not two.”
Arnold picked up the dice cup and tossed the dice on the bar. He slid two fives aside and put the other three back in the cup. He shook it and tossed them again. Six, four, three. “Pair of fives and a six high. Beat it.”
Jake rattled the dice and threw. Six, five, two, one, one. He thought about it for a minute and decided he might as well throw all five again. A pair of ones wouldn’t beat Arnold’s two fives. Jake’s second roll didn’t beat them either so he set up another round.
“Looks like you’re drinkin’ free tonight, Arnie.”
“That’s the way I like it.” Arnold said as they tapped the shot glasses and threw back the contents.
After the two of them had set their beer glasses back on the bar Jake asked, “So has the girl regained consciousness yet?”
“Hadn’t as of about eight o’clock this evening. I got busy on another case after that and didn’t get another report. Doc had said he couldn’t predict yet when they might bring her out of it.”
“Bring her out of what?” Jake asked.
“The induced coma. Did I leave that out. She lost a lot of blood so she was in shock. The docs figured it would be best just to keep her in a comatose state for at least a few days. They’re not sure how long it will take for her to completely stabilize before bringing her out of the coma. They’re not even sure if there was brain damage or not.”
“And you have no leads on who the fat guy is?” Jake asked, trying to sound as nonchalant as possible.
“None that we can use right now. The only fingerprints we could raise from the man’s apartment are his own. Must not have had any visitors lately. There were lots of fingerprints in the woman’s apartment but we talked to the people she worked with and found out she was quite active socially and had even had a get together at her place just a few weeks ago. One guy said Paul from the front apartment was there at the get together but it was the first time any of them had ever met him and Polly had never mentioned him. They said she hadn’t paid him much attention at the party either. But no one knew her well enough to say she wasn’t seeing him. Bottom line is, everyone at the party has agreed to be fingerprinted so we are waiting to get those to find out if there are outliers. You know, any prints besides the people that weren’t at the party.”
“All I can say is, when you catch the slob, I hope you cut his balls off.”
Arnold chuckled. “He’ll wish that’s all we did to him by the time we’re through.”
Jake picked up the dice cup and shook it. “Feeling lucky enough to try one more time?”
– Page 79 –
“Might be lucky enough but better not drink any more tonight. We got a stakeout going and if things get ugly, I’ll get called back out. Better not get too fucked up.”
– Page 80 –