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from Killing Time In LA by Kenneth Lawson

Copyright © 2020 Kenneth Lawson

Chapter 8 Day Eight: Thursday June 17, 1949

The death of Lyle Clements had set certain wheels in motion.

Among them, the ringing of my phone at seven in the morning.

The ringing of the phone had pulled me from my much needed sleep.

 I recognized the voice on the other end as Bob.

“Yeah what you want at this hour of the morning?” I grumbled as I pushed back the blankets and tried to sit up in bed.

“Caption wants you up here first thing this morning.”

“The caption, what's he want with me?” I tried to make some sense out of the request which was more of an order while I tried to wake up.

 “Just get your ass down here. Oh and bring Brenda too. My Office.” he hung up. 

I sat staring at the buzzing receiver. Putting it on the hook, and I reached for Brenda.

She grumbled at being woke up so early. But I explained the summons. It didn't take us long to get dressed. 

Within an hour we were on our way to the station.

I parked the packard in front of the station and we went in the front door. The walk up to the third floor seemed longer than usual. I had this feeling of being called to the principal's office. That I’d done something wrong and didn't know what.

We approached the door of Bob's office slowly. I hadn’t been worried about seeing Bob since I was seventeen, and had just shot a kid in self defense. 

We stood just out of sight of the door listening. Voices could be heard. I swallowed hard a couple of times, took Brenda's hand and I knocked on the frame of the open door.

“Come in.” Bob didn't look up.

 To my relief, he was the only one in the small office.

“Bob,..”

He cut me off with a look. I just stared at him.

 He picked up a stack of files and stood up,and motioned us to follow him. We stepped out of the way so he could get around and out the door. I knew where the captions office was but we went the opposite direction.

It dawned on me suddenly we were heading for the District Attorney's office. This was not good. I had worked with him last year and while eventually we got along I knew he didn't like me. 

 The DA’s office was on the fourth floor.  

The DA’s secretary nodded to Bob as we came to the outer office. 

“Go right in.”  I instantly knew there was going to be hell to pay, and I’d probably be the one paying it.

The door opened and we walked in.

 The District Attorney was standing behind his desk. To his left was the Captain. And further in the room was another man.

  I hung back with Brenda as Bob went in first.

Introductions were made all around. The DA and I knew each other, as did the Caption and I. So Brenda was introduced to them. Then the odd man out was introduced.

 The older man stepped forward and his glasses gave him the air of respectability he so wanted. It was yet to be determined if he earned it.

 I shook his hand a good solid grip, No wimp here.

The DA was speaking.

“This is the gentleman I told you about, James St.James,”

“Mr. St.James, this is Randal Reed, Defense Department, Washington.”

***

I said appropriate things. Such as Glad to meet you, and how the trip was. But I didn't mean any of them. I wanted to ask him “What the hell were they thinking?”when they started this project. That would wait until I had more ammunition.

Brenda asked, rightly why she was here.

“Because you were present when Lyle Clemets died. And we need to colorabate your and your husband’s statement.” was the answer. I didn't believe him for a minute. They wanted to check us out and see how much trouble we’d be.

 The Da took over. From behind his big fancy desk. While the rest of us sat round in whatever chair we could find. The Lane Hardy file was on his desk. Along with the files I’d given to Bob yesterday.

He thumbed through the files. As he spoke.

“This Lazarus Project, this was your idea?” He asked Randal. Randal squirmed in his chair a second.

‘Well, not mine, but yes, it came from my office. My superiors thought it could work.”

“Passing the buck. Here's the deal, I have a list of people here identified only as numbers, the only I have a name to go with is 354, and he died yesterday. Now Rhonda Clements gave St.James a list,’ He held it up “Of names to go with at least some of the numbers. I want you to start matching the names with the numbers and I want an accounting of all the bodies and where they are now.”

Randal turned white.

“I Can't do that.”

“Why the hell not?”

Because I never got the names, Just the numbers. As for what happened to them, I don’t know.”

“Well, you have lots of papers to sort though. To figure it out.” He held up the papers we’d taken from Lane's Office.

Randal took them and muttered to himself as he looked them over .

“Where’d you get theses?”

“I found them last week hidden in Lane’s office. They were waiting for someone to come and get them. As far as we know no one showed up looking for them. We’ve been trying to make sense of them ever since.” He looked at me.

“These were in Lane Hardy’s Office at the college?”

I nodded yes. 

“Why are you here? Now? All of the sudden? Not last week when Bob or the Caption called you people. All you did was stonewall them. Now all the sudden you put in a personal appearance?” I pushed him.

I stood over him. Looking Down at him , I considered what I could get away with. Deciding that hitting a defense department man in the office of the County DA , with him watching, wasn’t a good idea, I sat back down. But my point had been made.

The DA perked up. “Yes, that is a good question.”

“Well, it was like this, we didn't want to ..”

“Admit that you'd used americans as guinea pigs in a failed experiment?”I finished.

He nodded yes, “And the papers could easily be fakes, which we thought they were.”

“Now you see they’re not. Now what are you going to do? What about Rhonda Clements? You pulled your money from her after the war, left her to fend for herself after she and her husband worked on your damned project. You let her watch her husband die a slow death the last four years.” Brenda pushed him some more.

Randal Reed had not intended to walk into this. He thought he would throw his badge and weight around and bully us. The DA stood up. 

“Well? Seems to me you owe her and us some explanations., and her some money to pay for what you should have been paying for right along.”

“Emma Hardy. What did she have to do with any of this?” Bob asked.

“If Emma Hardy hadn’t been killed, none of this would have come to light. Where does she fit into all of this? Lane Hardy?” He ran the project. Thomas Cranford, he's a drunk now. At one time he helped run the project. Seems to me you have some explaining to do There, Reed?” the DA sat up in his chair. And glared at Reed.

 We all sat quietly waiting for some kind of response from him. He just tied to shrink into his leather club chair and looked down at the papers in his lap.

He looked up finely . Looking directly at Brenda he spoke.

“Truth is I didn’t even know this existed until late last night. When I was called into my bosses office and handed the papers. And a ticket out here. I read the papers on the flight out. I don’t know anymore about this then you do. I know they thought the papers, you told them you had,Theses, were probably fake, and they didn't want to admit to even knowing about it, and to come check them out, would be admitting that there was something to it.”

“Yeah there are at least three dead bodies that we know of.” The Caption spoke up for the first time. He’d been quiet after the introductions. 

“Three?” Reed questioned, turning to look at the caption.

“Yes, Emma Hardy, Lyle Clemets, and a lawyer, named Jake Renyolds. All tied to either Lane Hardy or his brother Clearance, or Rhonda Clements.” The captain told him.

“That's not even counting the bodies here.” The DA held up the files.

“Also tied to this.” I pointed to the files in his lap.

**

Randal Reed looked back and forth between The DA and I. 

“They didn't tell me anything, just handed me the files and a plane ticket.”

“Randal, How long you been on the job, a Fed?”

“Six months.”

“Six Months?”

“I was transferred out of accounting six months ago. They never told me why or anything. I just took notice and told my boss to report to my new boss.”

“Who is your new boss? And what do they have you doing?”

Special Agent Lee Parker. And all I do mostly is serve papers, and drive other agents around, I’m a glorified errand boy, with a badge.” He ran out of steam.

“You're biding your time until you retire.” The captain told him.

Reed nodded yes.  

“You got a number for this Lee Parker, special Agent?”

He reached into his jacket and pulled out a card and handed it to the DA. Who handed to the Bob, “Find Out everything there is to find about him, Yesterday.”

“Lee Parker just became a Person Of Interest. “

***I pointed out the calling Washington would only serve to alert them of our interest and result in more stonewalling, and get us nowhere. The DA conceded the points.“You have a better suggestion?” “No not really, at least not yet. As far as Emma Hardy is concerned, I think the whole thing is local. It's possible it has nothing to do with the Lazarus Project at all. That's more personal than that. The original main objective here was to find out what really happened toEmma Hardy. If we believe Lanes, story, and he didn't do it, Which I have to say, I tend to, at this point. Then it's who else knew where she was and wanted her dead. Figuring out the Lazu us Project is a separate job, Until it's not. I’d like to suggest we run two investigations, one is Emma, and the second is Him” I pointed to Randall Reed. meaning the Lazarus Project.

 I waited . Looking back and forth between the DA and the caption. I ignored Reed. He didn't count what he wanted was irrelevant. At least at this point it was.

“OKay, what do we have on the Emma Hardy case?”

For the hour or so Bob and I briefed the DA on the particulars of what he had so far, the tie in with Jake Reynolds, missing brother Clarence and his possible tie in with Emma and Lane The professors at the college had been checked out. Bob's men didn't find anything of use on any of them. They were still checking other elads, and had had men staked out on Clearance’s hotel. I told them about him never having stayed there. But it appeared to be a dead end.

“So we’re nowhere?”

“Nowhere might be a little harsh, but yeah, nothing really solid”

**

As it was clear I wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Brenda had given her statement about the death of Lyle Clements. And was told she could go.

The captain told Bob to have a uniformed officer drive her home.  

I stayed behind with the DA and the Captain and Bob and the old man Randal Reed. Using a restroom trip as an excuse to get out of the room. I called Walt from a payphone in the lobby. Telling him to start checking on Randal Reed and his boss, Lee Parker.

**

Back in the DA’s office, I told them to start checking the victims of the project, the few that they had names for. Bob agreed it was a good place to start. The Captain and the DA figured it was a waste of time, But until they had a better lead on Clearance or a lead of Jake Renyolds, there wasn’t much more they could do.

 They finally let me go after I signed a statement about the death of Lyle Clements. 

In the back of my mind, I was wondering.

***

A lot of things passed through my mind as I walked down to my car. The core question was who killed Emma Hardy? Why? And How? The second question was who stands to gain from it? As far as Bob could find there was no will. So Lane wasn’t up for inheriting anything. I doubt there was that much to inherit anyways. After the expenses were figured. I doubt that Lane would break even when Emma was finally buried. The Lazarus Project as a smoke screen or a diversion. A good one at that. There was no denying that bad things had happened during the war. Both sides had done some pretty horrific things in the name of what they perceived as right and true. Finding out who had put these files in Lane's office and why, would go a long ways towards solving this thing.

  So it was back to college for me. Time to get back to the basics .

I found the building where her class was and scouted out the room where it was to begin. Lane’s name was still on the schedule posted in the hall.

Standing in the back of the large hall I imagined the seats filled with bright eager young minds waiting to be filled with the knowledge of higher math and all of its properties and the possibilities of knowing what it could do.

I checked my notes, I was early for Jenifer's class.   

So I hung back in the shadows of the Acadiana and waited. 

Several young ladies came in and sat in a corner talking. I made sure I was well in the shadows of the darkened room. 

Their long hair bounced around as they joked about professor Lane and Emma. 

 As far as I could tell the gist of the joke was that we were trying to think up math problems that would excite him enough to get him up. One commented she wondered what math formula Emma used to get him going. As crude and rude as it was, I did get it. It seemed like one of the few things that brought him alive was math. Within a few more minutes several guys came in they were all neatly dressed, their button down shirts pressed and their books neatly stacked onto a seat next to them. They didn't say much. Opened their books and started reading.  

 Eventually Jenifer came in. I resisted the temptation to go see her. Instead I stayed well backout of the way and out of sight.

 The next two hours were the most boring I’d ever spent. I didn't understand one word of what the professor who filed in for Lane said. Even so I understood what Jneifer thought he was a bore. 

 I slipped out just before the professor dismissed the class.

 By the time I saw Jennifer again I was sitting in the commons room where we had met before, drinking a cold drink. Trying to wash down the memory of the most boring lecture I’d ever sat through. Having sat through lectures in training and even more as an officer in the war, I’d heard my share of boring speakers. But he took the cake.

**

 I spotted Jenifer sitting at a corner table drinking a cold soda and munching on a sandwich with a book open in front of her. Whether she was really reading it I doubted. But it gave the right impression to any professor who happened to wander by. I took my time getting over to her. Stopping at a vending machine and getting a new cold drink , having just finished the first one. I was still trying to wash down the lecture I’d just sat through. How she had managed to slip into the commons room without my ...






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