On Monday night Arnie lost the first throw of the poker dice and had to buy. Jake drew two beers and poured two shots and dragged his stool up opposite the detective.
“So, anything new?” Jake asked. He really wanted to know if there had been any developments on the Friday night murder over on Burthe but didn’t want to sound too eager about it.
“Yeah, actually there is. Remember what we were talkin’ about last night.”
“Sure.” Jake said, becoming very interested but still not wanting to overplay his hand.
“Well. They brought the girl out of the coma this morning and I got to question her this afternoon. Turns out she wasn’t friends with her neighbor after all. She didn’t even like him. When she got home that night he tried to force himself on her. All she wanted to do was get away from him. When he started to attack her the behemoth showed up. She has no idea where he came from but she sorta views him as her savior. Says if it wasn’t for him she would have been raped for sure or even killed.”
“So she didn’t know him?”
“Not really. But she did say she had seen him before. Once. On the streetcar. Several weeks ago. He was leering at her and tried to press himself up against her. Something of that sort, anyway. Said that was the only time she ever remembered seeing him.”
“So, what are you going to do now when you find him?”
“Not sure. Guess it won’t go as bad on him as it would have if our original theory had been true. It’ll be up to the DA of course. But my guess is, if he has a good lawyer, he could get off with justifiable homicide or, at the worst, involuntary manslaughter.”
“Bastard probably doesn’t deserve as good as that.” Jake said.
“Likely not but that’s the law. If we don’t get him this time we’ll get him another time.” Labadie said and he rattled the cup, ready for another round.
– Page 86 –
After Labadie left, Jake closed up the bar and went upstairs. He was awake half the night trying to figure out what to do about Biggy. Should he notify him that it was alright to come back? Should he just leave him where he was for a while and see where the police investigation led? What would Biggy want to do? That became a really big question.
The more Jake thought about it the more one thing became clear. It wouldn’t be safe for Biggy to keep working for him. At least not as long as there was any chance at all that they would be keeping an eye on his movements, whether they were in Orleans Parish or Lafourche Parish or anywhere else.
And he also came to the conclusion that he didn’t want Biggy living in Peggy’s apartment. That would keep Biggy too close to him. It was a matter of record that Peggy was still a partner in Jake’s Place. It was not a matter of record but Peggy was essential to Jake keeping his side business going also. The situation gnawed at Jake the rest of the week.
He made arrangements to talk to Missy Allison. She was a defense attorney. He had given her card to Biggy. He had never met her but had been told that she was the person to call if you were in trouble. She had a reputation for defending the ‘little guy’. He made an appointment to talk to her on Thursday afternoon early, before the bar opened.
During that week there were few changes in the case. On Wednesday, Labadie reported that the girl was continuing to improve and would likely be released from the hospital on Friday. He said that as soon as she was released from the hospital they would not be able to keep it off the news. He also said that, aside from keeping an APB out on Biggy, the police had finished their investigation and were turning the case over to the DA’s office. They were trying to determine whether they could charge Biggy with manslaughter or should just rule it justifiable homicide. Biggy was certainly no longer the cops number one priority. There were much bigger fish to fry.
Labadie said that if Biggy was spotted on the street tomorrow they would have to arrest him but that, even with only a court appointed attorney, he would probably get a reasonable bail and could be back out on the street in twenty-four hours. It was that probably that bothered Jake.
Thursday night Jake once again tossed and turned all night. He could use the signal he had arranged with Biggy to summon him back to New Orleans, of course, but, if he did, what would Biggy do? But was it fair to leave Biggy down there holed up in that tiny houseboat? He certainly couldn’t stay there forever.
Thursday morning a small article about the case was buried deep within the New Orleans section of the Times-Picayune. They reported that Polly Duplessis, one of the victims in the Burthe Street murder, was to be released from the hospital the following day. The report went on to say that police were still searching for the fat man that was reportedly seen running away from the crime scene.
– Page 87 –
On Thursday afternoon Jake met with Missy Allison. She had read about the murder, of course, and had even seen the little blurb in the morning paper. She agreed to take the case, with Jake paying her fee anonymously. Missy was going to talk to one of the ADA’s she knew and see what she could find out about the case. She suspected the DA’s office would want Biggy to turn himself in to the police although it was possible they could have him report directly to them. Either way, he would be booked and arrested, naming her, of course, as his lawyer. She would be able to arrange for an almost immediate bond hearing. The DA would likely not ask for more than $10,000 bond since Biggy had voluntarily turned himself in and since it would be known that the most serious crime he could be found guilty of was manslaughter with extenuating circumstances or for justifiable homicide.
She advised Jake to bring Biggy to see her as soon as he arrived in New Orleans and she would arrange for him to go to the NOPD. He should do this as early in the day as possible to make sure there was time for him to be booked, bonded out and released the same day.
Once this piece was in place, Jake had only one more thing that was bothering him about bringing Biggy back. If the DA started looking into Biggy’s background, they would certainly want to know what he had been doing since he got to New Orleans. It would only be a matter of time before they discovered that Jake had a connection to Biggy. That would not be a good thing. He mulled over his options.
As he mulled over this problem he decided to confide in Miss Sophronia and see if she had any suggestion about what Biggy could do if he returned to New Orleans to face charges. Jake had known her for years. Theirs had always been strictly a professional relationship, first just as bar owners in the same neighborhood and then as supplier and client in Jake’s other business. She had even become involved to some extent in the latter, making a delivery from time-to-time when Jake was in a pinch.
– Page 88 –