GETTING UP EARLY IN the morning was one of my passions. Like a spring-loaded jumping board, I woke up at 5am. Linda, looking peaceful as ever, still laid there sleeping. With love and devotion in my heart, I left her note while eating a bowl of my favourite cereal. Filled with a tremendous amount of energy, I burst out the door, got in the car and sped off. While driving into town something caught my eye at the side of the road. Stopping the car, filled with curiosity, I pulled over and stopped. Lying on the ground, I found an old helmet that belonged to a foot soldier. What did this mean? Why was it lying here for me to find? Weirdly, everything around me began to spin.
Before I knew it everything stopped, but I was in a different location. Where was I? What brought me here? Ironically, I was standing right in front of a huge wall with thousands of names engraved on it. It was all of the Vietnam veterans who died while in action. I felt a big lump forming in my throat. Suddenly, the wall seemed to be clear in appearance. A soldier who appeared to be a mirror image to my reflection appeared on the other side of it. In amazement, I put my hand to the wall. The soldier in the reflection put his hand out to me. With tears in his eyes, we stared at each other for the space of ten seconds. His lips kept saying the following words:
"Please help me and release me from this world."
I looked very deeply into the man's eyes and could see much sorrow in his eyes. Using the situation to my advantage, I quickly looked at the soldier's nametag. His name would probably be permanently engraved in the windows of my mind. Then the soldier spoke,
"My name is Private Decker; I have been assigned to Bravo Company."
In a blink of an eye, I was back at my car and the vision ended. What does this mean to me? Does this helmet belong to him? Questions filled my mind as I took this helmet and got in the car and drove to my office with a feeling of bewilderment. While opening the door to my office, Hank Olson patted me on the back.
"How is it going?"
"Just fine and how are you?"
"What can I help you with Hank?" I asked.
"I was sent here to collect the rest of the evidence for our last case."
"Ok, go ahead and have a seat. I'll open the small vault and give you what I have."
I got into the vault and gave Hank the rest of the evidence. He quickly left and I remained inside of my office pondering on what happened. What did the soldier mean by saying?
"Please help me, and release me from this world?"
These thoughts ran with my mind like water rushing over a waterfall.
These thoughts plagued my mind until I picked up a newspaper to break my concentration. On the front page, there was a story that caught my eye. It stated that Harold Decker had just released from the state hospital. It appeared that the man suffered from 'flashbacks' caused by the Vietnam conflict. It appeared that Palm Cove Island had put him in the mental hospital, as I would soon learn when I turned the television on to watch the Palm Cove Morning News. In my mind, many questions surfaced regarding this mysterious soldier.
"Harold Decker, Vietnam War Hero has just been released from Palm Cove State Hospital for the Mentally Ill. According to reliable sources this man is dangerous and all residents of Palm Cove Island should be on the guard until he proves himself worthy to be a citizen of our island once more."
I knew that the first move was to look on the police computer to see if anything on there could help me on this case. The man had a spotless record except for one part of the file that was sealed. Ted Parker was the only person that could unseal any records. It was time for me to give him a call. With an investigative thought in my mind, I picked up the phone and called Ted.
"Hello, Parker estate, can I help you?" Ted asked.
"It's Michael, Ted."
"How can I help you?" He asked.
"What can you tell me about Harold Decker?"
"Hold on, let me go in my study to have some more privacy."
"Why was part of his record sealed and why has he been released?" I asked.
"Many years ago his family was executed right in front of him."
"How were they executed?" I asked.
"They were dismembered." Ted said with a tone of shock and concern in his voice
"After this happened, he went to Vietnam and came back a hero, however, he suffered some deep mental scars. He was not able to function on the island. He built a fortress called Devil's Kitchen. He built booby traps and made it appear like it was Vietnam once again."
"That still doesn't tell me why he was committed to the hospital."
"You must keep this information confidential." Ted said.
"You know that you can trust me."
"He killed a whole family and pleaded innocent due to mental insanity."
"How did he kill them?"
"The same way that his family was killed, they were all dismembered. The verdict ruled innocent; however, I placed him in the mental hospital to go through intense assessment and tests. He served his time there and convinced the doctors that he is well and now he's a free man."
"Isn't this a gross injustice?"
Yes, but that's the way it is."
"Do you think that he'll kill again?" I asked.
"That is a hard question to answer. It could be a strong possibility Michael."
"Where is Devil's Kitchen?"
"It's at the very north end of island but I must caution you, he has it under lock and key."
"I am going to keep an eye on him."
"That is a good idea, however, please be really careful I feel that he belongs in the hospital for the rest of his life."
"That will be no problem. I'm going to go undercover and become friends with him."
"I want you to keep in close contact with me." Ted said with a high-pitched tone of concern in his voice.
"Come to the estate and I'll give you some weapons and surveillance equipment."
"No problem, I'll be right over."
I left the office and headed over to Ted's place. Time went by very quickly. Ted greeted me in the driveway.
"Let's go to the shed." He said. I am really nervous about you doing this." He added nervously.
"Why is that Ted?"
"There are many rumours about Devil's Kitchen."
"What kind of rumours?"
"It has been said that he practices witchcraft. Also, there are bodies hidden there somewhere."
"That gives me even more reasons to go there."
Ted handed me some tape recorders and a watch.
"That wrist watch has a hidden microphone. When you press the red button on the right side, it will alert the department and give you backup any time you need it."
"Who will be monitoring me?"
Hank Olson will be monitoring you."
"Why are you using him?"
"He is one person in the department that I can trust. Hank will keep this issue under wraps until you find more evidence to get him back in the hands of the right people."
After receiving all the equipment from Ted, I went in and said hello to my mother-in-law. Ted grabbed my shoulder and handed me a piece of paper.
"What is this?"
"You will need a search warrant won't you?"
"Yes, thanks Ted."
"Don't mention it, please be careful. I will be close to the phone when you need to call me." He said
* * * *
AFTER GIVING CLARA BIG hugs and smooches, I got in my car and drove to this so-called fortress. Just before I got there, I had a strong feeling that something was wrong. I kept driving but something told me to pull over. Following a hunch, I pulled over and remained silent inside of the car.
A very weird feeling came over me. Suddenly, my body vanished from the car and I found myself at the Hogan's Estate. The building stood alone, there was nobody living within miles of it. Suddenly, I saw Decker walking toward the mansion. Fear filled me as I quietly walked inside of the mansion. There was a family of five sitting in the far room watching television with no knowledge of what was about to happen to them. I looked around and saw a man wearing a ski mask and hiding in the midst of some furniture. The question was what to do next. Should I kill him? Alternatively, should I let him kill these people and then put him in jail? Then the famous quote that I heard as a boy came to my mind.
"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."
I quickly walked behind this stranger and grabbed one of the nerves in his neck. He quickly collapsed into my arms. I used my powers to bring us back to my car without anybody seeing us. Both of us vanished from the scene of this potential crime. The family remained blissfully unaware of what had been about to happen, knowing nothing, hearing nothing. The man laid there on the ground with a ski mask on his face. From seeing him walk into the mansion earlier, I assumed that it was Decker but something was telling me that it was not. Hastily, I pulled the mask off and it was not Decker. I searched the bag brought with him and found the following items: knife, axe, tape, piano wire, gun, and white gloves to avoid having fingerprints. I pulled out his wallet and noticed that he was only a young man of nineteen. Opening the wallet, I noticed that his name was Gary Hogan as listed on his driver's license. I found his address and drove him back to his parent's estate. Soon after we arrived, the boy seemed to be very slow in speech and thought. We walked toward his front door. His father quickly opened the door for us.
"Who are you and why is our son staggering?" He asked.
"My name is Detective Grego; your son was found lying by the side of the road." I lied, hoping not to disclose where I had really found Gary Hogan.
"Thank you very much detective, we'll take him from here." He abruptly said.
"Tell him to be more careful next time."
"We'll do." He said.
As soon as I got in the car, the cellular phone rang. There was a sneaking suspicion in my gut that Decker killed somebody.
"Hello Grego here."
"Michael this is Ted, you must go to Smith estate right now!"
"What is the matter?"
"Come and see for yourself and then you can tell me."
"I will be right over."
I quickly started the car and drove over to the Smith Estate. It was getting dark and the rain poured. As I drove up to the Smith Estate, there were cop cars with lights flashing. Ambulances were at the scene and the fire department. I flashed my badge to the police officer that was keeping everybody from the scene of the crime.
"Walk in and see for yourself." Ted said.
"Before I walk in, were there any murder weapons found?"
"Yes, there was." Hank answered.
"What were they?" I asked.
"There is piano wire and an axe." Hank said.
"Ok, I am ready to go in."
Hank showed me a family of four that were sitting on a couch facing a huge mirror. All of their throats were cut by piano wire. All of their feet and hands were cut off with an axe and placed in their laps. The woman was naked; her body seemed to be bruised all over in the pelvic area. It looked like the killer might have sexually assaulted her. Blood was splattered the floor, the walls, and the clothes of the victims. We walked in the bathroom and found small traces of blood in the sink. I turned around and found a small shelf with a little closing door that had a bloody fingerprint on it. Hank pulled out a handkerchief and opened the shelf. We found some more piano wire. There was blood in the center and at the very ends of it. Hank and I quickly walked out and noticed some footprints in the mud.
"Ted, get one of your officers in here to assist me."
"Ok, a couple of them will be right in." Ted replied.
Soon after, two young officers walked in. I stood there trying to fit all the pieces of this puzzle together.
"Move the woman's body and place it on the floor after you chalk where she was sitting."
"Yes sir." Both of them said sharply to me.
I waited for a few minutes and the task was accomplished. Shortly after, Ted walked in and came toward me. I stared at the woman trying to find some more evidence. There was some hair between her left thumb and index finger.
"What have you found detective?" Ted asked.
"I have found some evidence that will somewhat identify the killer."
"What kind?" He asked.
"There is some hair in this naked woman's hand. We found a fingerprint on the shelf in the bathroom. In the shelf, we found another piece of piano wire with blood in the center of it. Then we looked closer and found blood on the ends of it, which means that the killer may have cut himself while committing the murders of his victims."
"Where was the axe found Ted?" I asked.
"In the backyard, hidden in the bushes."
"How did you find it?"
"I used my flashlight and found some fresh blood on the leaves of the bushes where the killer threw it."
"Hank, have this place dusted for fingerprints. Take samples of the blood drops on the sink and on the ends of the piano wire and take some samples of blood from the victims. Test for the blood types. Remove the hair from the woman's hand and keep it for evidence. Have the coroner check this woman's uterus for semen traces of the killer. Take photos of the footprints and get a cast made Try to find any evidence that you think will help this case."
"Ok no problem." Hank said.
While talking, I noticed that there was blood on the handle of the axe.
"Also take samples of blood on the handle of this axe."
"Do you think that Decker did this Michael?"
"Yes, but I have to prove it."
"How are you going to do that?"
"After all of the test results come back, I'm going to go undercover."
"Is there anything that I can help you with?" Ted asked.
"Get a hold of Decker's military records and keep them at your estate until I'm ready for them."
"That will be no problem."
"Have the officers clear the scene and cordon it off. Take care of the funereal services for this family." I told him. "Try to get in touch with their immediate family."
"What are you going to do Michael?"
"I am going to go home. All available police officers should patrol the mansions on the island. Twenty-four hour protection must be on your family Ted because you are the one that placed him in the hospital."
"That sounds like a good idea."
"Oh there is one more thing that I forget to tell you Ted."
"What was that?" He asked.
"Just before I called you, I found a young man inside of a mansion with some of the same weapons that were at this murder scene. I prevented him from killing anybody and took him back to his parents with no questions asked."
"Do you know his name?" Ted asked.
"Why didn't you take him into custody?"
"Because a crime was not committed, however, he had the intention of killing someone. Have one of the officers bring him in for questioning. Ted has them ask him why he was at the Hogan's estate."
"Do you think he is linked to Decker in some weird way?"
"Yes, I do."
"I'm going home; I will post some officers at your estate Ted."
"Don't forget that when the tests come through I'm going undercover. Since you mention it, I think that we should have a late dinner together."
"Go ahead call your wife to see if that will be ok."
I walked back to the car and called Linda. She said her mom would come and get her. Ted and I got in my car and drove to his house. Three patrol cars followed us back to the mansion. Linda and Clara already had some snacks ready for us. Ted and I could not believe that my wife made it there before we did.
"How are you doing son?" My dad asked as he walked in the door.
"Just fine and how are you?"
"I am just fine."
We sat at the table enjoying each other's company. Linda and mom left the dinner table. They were having their own private conversation in the living room. Ted and my father sat there very quietly and were ready for me to tell him about going undercover.
"Dad, I am going to ask you a big favour."
"You said that you have friends in high places right."
"Yes that's true, why?"
"I want you to talk to the army and develop a phony military background for me. I am asking this because Decker and many other vets have created a secret group. This group may be tied to the mafia. This will require some help from the feds."
"What kind of help on the island do you need?" Ted asked.
"Have the newspapers and the news station develop a welcome home ceremony for me to make it look realistic."
"Will you need some fake identification?" Dad asked.
"I will make the necessary calls to the island. Your dad will call the army to have them help you."
"How much time will you need?" Ted asked.
"Give me twenty-four hours."
"I am going to fly to the coast to take Clara and Linda with me for safety reasons."
"Is there somebody they can stay with?" I asked.
"I have a brother on the coast."
An hour later, I drove all three of them back to the airstrip. I felt very lonesome as Linda and Clara walked up to the private plane. In haste, I followed Ted up to the door of the plane.
"Are you coming back Ted?"
Goodbye Michael, I love you." Linda said, hugging me.
"Please be careful Michael." Clara said.
"Oh, Ted what about my mom and dad?"
"They flew back an hour ago for their own safety. Your father will be in communication with you about your needs from the military."
"Ok goodbye everyone."
"Goodbye son and be careful."
"I'll be waiting."
Soon after, they were gone and I headed back to the Parker mansion. For the first time in a long time, I felt very lonesome. The next two days were going to be like hell to me without my wife. Feeling bored, I found some old films that Ted had in his collection. I plugged them in and watched them until falling asleep. Suddenly, the phone woke me up in a panic.
"Hello Parker residence."
"Michael, it just me Ted." I said while jumping the phone ringing loudly.
"You seem a little on edge." Ted commented.
"I wasn't expecting your call until tomorrow."
"This was only to tell you that we love you and that we made to the coast safely."
"Thanks Ted, let me speak to my wife please."
"Hi sweetie how are you feeling?" Linda asked in a very sweet voice.
"I miss you terribly."
"I waited for four years, so be patient, and I'll be home before you know it."
"I love you Linda."
"I love you Michael more than you will ever know."
"Well dad wants to speak to you goodbye honey."
"I will call you by five p.m. tomorrow."
"Ok, I'll be waiting for your call."
I hung up the receiver and went back to sleep. Before I knew it, morning came. I got up and took a very hot shower to wake me up. I found some cereal, which seemed to be very inviting. I sat and engulfed myself in pleasure. Meanwhile, I turned on the stereo and put it up to its max. During the course of the day, I watched television and tried to keep my mind off things. The phone rang; I hoped that it was Ted. I quickly ran over to the phone and grabbed the receiver.
"Parker residence, can I help you?"
"Is this Detective Grego?"
"Yes, who is calling?"
"Officer Anderson, there has been another death on the island."
"That is just what I needed." I muttered.
"What was that?"
"Nothing, how many people were killed?"
"One and it was a young man."
"Have you found any identification for him?"
Yes, it is a young man named Gary Hogan. He did it at his home."
"I thought he was brought in for questioning and then put into custody."
"His parents bailed him out."
"Was it a suicide?" I asked.
"The officers at the scene have found no evidence of a killer."
"How did he kill himself?"
"He strung a piano wire from a pole in the mansion and hung himself."
"I am expecting an important phone call. I need somebody to be by the phone here at the Parker Estate. That way when he calls, I will be alerted right away."
"Go ahead and assign one of the officers that are guarding the estate. Give them your pager number and they will beep you." Anderson said.
"I'll be right over."
Very quickly, I drove over to Gary Hogan's residence. As normal, cops had surrounded the scene of the crime with their flashing lights. I got out of the car, walked over to the police line, and flashed by badge.
"Come in detective."
While walking in, the first thing I noticed is the body was hanging in front of a mirror. Anderson and I walked into his bedroom and noticed he had an answering machine. In addition, on his computer there was a suicide note. However, I needed a search warrant and the judge was out of town. Just when that thought came to mind, my beeper went off. I quickly found a phone and called Ted.
"Hello Ted have you got it all arranged?" I asked.
"Yes I do, my plane will be there in about three hours."
"I need you to issue me a verbal search warrant and have it typed when you get here."
"Why?" He asked.
"The Hogan boy killed himself at their home."
"Boy this is turning very ugly." He remarked.
"I can second that."
"Get the chief of police on the horn with me."
I put the receiver down and told the chief that Ted wanted to talk to him. The chief picked up the phone.
"I am issuing a verbal search warrant to Detective Grego; the paperwork will be typed when I get there in three hours."
"Fine, he has my permission to search the mansion."
"Here Judge Parker wants to speak to you again."
"I am supposed to say hi from everybody to you."
"Tell them I said hi too."
"I'll see you when I get there goodbye."
We immediately searched his room. Anderson and I turned on the answering machine. There was a conversation recorded between Gary and Decker, it said the following:
"Remember the vow you have made to The Black Eagles. You are never to tell anybody of our organization otherwise, you will be put to death. It would be better for you to go to the grave than to die a horrible death from all of your brothers." Decker warned.
"Mr. Decker, the police are after me. They are trying to get me to expose you and the rest of our brothers." Gary said, agitated.
"Remember our master Lucifer will redeem you for the pledge of the sacred truth you made to him. He will give you eternal life and this life will seem unimportant to you my son."
"Fine, I will see you on the other side."
The chief and I quickly went over and read his suicide message,
"Please understand that I had to do this. There was no other way; the police were trying to make me tell them whom we were working with. I love you mom and dad, see you on the other side."
This told me that his parents were also involved. I quickly found them trying to go out the backyard toward the volcanoes. I pulled my gun and told them to halt. I had them placed under arrest.
"Who is this Black Eagle group?"
"We don't know what you are talking about." Mr. Hogan replied sharply.
"Chalk the crime scene and remove the body. Take this s whole family down to the station and book them on suspicion of murder until further notice. Seize the answering machine for evidence, print out the suicide note, and keep it for evidence." I ordered. "I will be at the Parker Estate until further notice."
"No problem sir." A new cadet sharply answered me.
The whole family remained quiet and were not willing to talk to me about the Black Eagles. Soon after, I decided to go back and wait for Ted. Before leaving, I talked to Anderson.
"As soon as the results are in for the tests of fingerprints and the blood type, I want to be called right away night or day."
"No problem detective."
I quickly got in my car and drove to Ted's home. Time was starting to get me down, so I turned the radio on and listened to it full blast. After parking the car, I headed into the Parker Estate. There was a woman completely nude standing in the doorway. Her nipples were perky and erect. She licked her lips as she played with her moist pussy.
"Hi Michael, how are you?"
"Why are you here?" I asked sharply.
"I am a gift from one of your admirers, indulge yourself in passion and delight."
"I don't know how you got past the guards but you have to leave."
"Why, aren't I attractive enough for you?"
"Do you know anything about The Black Eagles?"
"You have got the wrong opinion; I'm a gift from one of the police officers to you."
"The thought was nice but put your clothes back on and leave."
"I should have known that you were going to be faithful to Linda."
"Please leave, I'll have one of the guards escort you off these grounds."
"Ok lover boy, I'll see you later."
I hoped that something like this would not happen again. All of the sudden, I heard a helicopter, which probably was Ted. I ran toward the copter with my head hung low. Ted got out and met me. A few seconds later, we made it back to the mansion.
"Fill me in on the details Ted."
"Your father called me on my cell and provided me with all the information needed for your undercover identity. Tomorrow you will be Private Joseph P. Hilken, just arriving from Vietnam as a rescued P.O.W. I have your military identification and your fake social security number. The news station on the island is going to televise your arrival. The newspaper will have you on the front page."
"When am I supposed to arrive here on the island?"
"You will have to develop some kind of code word because some federal officers are going to be joining you in this operation."
"How did you pull this off?"
"Your dad and I have friends in high places, which include the president and some supervisors of different departments in the federal government. Have you found any more information about the Hogan suicide?"
"I found out that all of the Hogan family is involved in a group called The Black Eagles, which didn't sound familiar to me. Let me clear something up for you. The Black Eagles are a group of Vietnam vets that vowed to stay together. Ironically, they were all are devil worshipers. While in the Vietnam conflict, they were all tied to the Mafia in Italy. They sold drugs on the black market. Decker's fortress is probably filled with booby traps and many things that symbolize evil, so I must caution you. Every move you make must be right or it might be your last. As you go undercover, follow along with him until you find out more. The moment I feel that your life is in danger, I will close down the whole operation. The president has assigned a troop in case we need them."
"Why are their murders so gruesome, and why did they involve a young man like Gary Hogan?"
"They believe in keeping their group family oriented, which is really gross because they are teaching little kids evil practices." Ted said with a disgusted look on his face.
"Do you think they are still involved with the mafia in this day and age?" I asked.
"The F.B.I. has sources that told me the Coast Guard has seized a whole shipment of cocaine coming from Italy. So I guess the answer is yes."
"How do you want this organization closed down?"
"First get in, find out their crime activity, and see if you can find any more bodies. They have been missing for the last two months on our missing person's list. As soon as all of the feds arrive, have them help you develop a trap for their leader. When the time is right, push that button on the side of your watch. I'll be right outside the fortress waiting for your orders."
"That sounds good boss."
"Your flight will be arriving tomorrow, so you have to leave on a copter at four in the morning. You will be going to an air force base on the coast. Your flight will be arriving here at noon. The television station and the press will be covering your story. Before you leave early in the morning, you must give me your code word, so that I may pass it on to the feds when they arrive to help you."
"No problem, I better hit my rack. Tomorrow comes very early."