Fair Play

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Prologue: 8 months ago

Judge Bob Maxwell pulled into his garage more than a little pissed off. It had been a lousy day. He slammed on the brakes bringing his sedan to a halt with a squeal on the concrete pad. His blood sugar was dropping and he felt the need for a meal. For just a moment, he sat in the driver’s seat, engine running. Retirement and several solid years of deep-sea fishing was a week or so away. He had wanted to retire with a conviction and ‘go out on top’ but that was not to be. He swore to himself, turned off the ignition, exited the vehicle and shut the door. Suddenly, the overhead garage light clicked off leaving him in complete darkness.

“Damn.” Maxwell said. The light usually gave him enough time to get to his door and in the house. He opened the car door and reached into the dash to click on his headlights. Navigating his way through his darkened garage was more than a little dangerous. The gleam from the headlights inside the confined space of his garage made the shadows dance eerily on the walls. Had these movements of shadow and light not disoriented him, he may have seen the dark figure step out from behind him. He did not.

Maxwell heard the step behind him and felt the needle slide into his neck before he could react. Cold fluid flowed into his blood stream quickly as he turned to see the intruder. He fell to his knees and glanced up at the face of his attacker.

“What have you done?” the figure asked him coldly. Maxwell gasped once and fell into unconsciousness.

The figure stood for a moment over his victim. The white-hot rage that led him to this garage, this night, evolved into the sobering realization that he had no choice. He bent over, dragged the frail Maxwell to the car and took the head of his victim in his hands. With the slightest bit of hesitation, he contemplated Maxwell’s fate, tightened his grip and slammed the skull into the floor. The hollow crunch of bone meeting concrete sounded oddly like a melon smacked against a kitchen counter. Blood flowed from Maxwell’s wound and began to pool around his head.

He had killed before but this was different. In war, you fire your weapon, sometimes at random into the area where the enemy is. When your bullet found its mark in the enemy, sometimes you would see the man stumble backwards and fall dead. At other times you would never know.

Up close, he was able to see the life flow out of his victim, able to see his last breath. He opened his victims eyelids and watched as the pupils expanded for the last time pulling in the last light he would ever see. He could see his reflection in those dying eyes. This war he was in now was a different kind of war. And he was a different kind of soldier. He was fighting a war for justice, what more noble pursuit was there?

He scooped up Maxwell’s keys, slid behind the wheel and started the ignition. He turned to stare intently into the face of this man who had failed. He had failed and had to pay the price. Justice must be done. He left the garage as silently as he had slipped in. The war had begun and he had much planning to do.

****

Day One

5:45am

Detective Paul Friedman was jarred out of his dream by the obnoxiously loud buzzing of the cell phone on his bedside table. He reached over halfway expecting his dream Beyonce to still be there, she wasn’t. He grabbed the phone, hit the button with his thumb, “Friedman.”

Silence.

“Paul Friedman, who’s this please?”

Scuffling.

Paul sat up pressing his ear to the phone, straining to hear.

Heavy breathing.

A gasp and nothing more.

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