LEGACY OF DEATH:
THE DYSON’S COMET KILLER
By Richard Paolinelli
© 2019 Richard Paolinelli . All Rights Reserved. No copying or any other reproduction of this story is permitted with written permission.
One week earlier…
“Look out you damn fool,” Inspector Steve Foster shouted as the driver of the sedan, totally oblivious to the flashing lights and blaring police siren of the car he was in, nearly slammed into his side of the car.
“Relax,” Bolton said from behind the wheel of the car he and Foster were in. “He missed us by a mile.”
“Wasn’t talking to him,” Foster shot back. “I ought to give you a ticket right here.
“And I ought to arrest you for obstruction while I’m at it too,” Foster added for good measure, looking back at the offending car as it slowed to let the police car pass.
“I’ll settle for getting the guy we’re after right now,” Inspector MacKenzie Bolton said chuckling at his partner while weaving his way through the traffic-snarled streets of San Francisco in pursuit of an armed robber making his escape on a Harley Davison bike.
The two Inspectors had been working the case for weeks, trying to nail a suspect who’d been terrorizing ATM customers across the city. Unsuspecting customers, always in the late evening, would find themselves accosted at gunpoint by a man on a motorcycle just seconds after withdrawing cash.
The assailant, sporting a ponytail and dressed all in black leather and riding boots, would swiftly ride up; relieve his victims of their money and other valuables, then zoom off into the night. The crafty crook always used the heavy traffic to full advantage, easily making his escape into the night.
After the first few nights had resulted in five successful jobs, and several thousand lost in money and jewelry, with each ending with police pursuit snarled in traffic, a sting had been set up to catch the bandit. Based on a pattern spotted by the department’s psychologist, several Inspectors and plainclothes cops had laid siege to an ATM near the Embarcadero only to have the thief strike an ATM on the other side of the city.
More traps were laid by the now-chagrined police, only to have their quarry find another unguarded ATM time after time. The press started calling the suspect the Easy Rider Bandit and the brass was breathing hard down the necks of the Inspectors to get this guy and quick.
The frustration was felt department-wide and increased with each successful heist, but just when it seemed like the Easy Rider was invincible he finally made a mistake and it proved to be the only break the police needed to put an end to his run of luck.
As he was holding up an elderly woman at a machine on Market an off-duty patrolman drove by, spotted the bandit and raised the alarm as he pursued the motorcycle and its rider into the early-evening traffic.
A quick turn into a tight alley shook off the cop but when the Bandit emerged onto Van Ness he ran right into the path of Bolton and Foster.
Try as he might, the Bandit couldn’t shake off Bolton. He’d even tried his alley trick twice only to find that Bolton had guessed right and was staying close behind. In desperation, the thief had even gone the wrong-way against one-way traffic, but Bolton kept the unmarked, but modified, Ford Crown Victoria on the suspect’s tail.
Zooming through the city streets at the speeds they were reaching it was only going to be a matter of time before one of them ran into, or over, something. An ill-timed glance in the rear-view mirror at his pursuer and splash of oil from a leaky car engine that had passed hours before proved to be the bandit’s ultimate undoing.
Both wheels simultaneously lost traction and the motorcycle slammed to the pavement, sliding across the road and into a pile of garbage cans and plastic bags stacked up on the sidewalk
Bolton slammed on the brakes, skidding to a halt a few feet away. The two Inspectors leaped out of the car, with Foster reaching the man just as he was getting to his feet. Even though he had to have been injured in the crash, the man quickly picked up one of the cans, spun around and smashed it into the oncoming Foster, who crumpled to the ground.
Bolton jumped the man from behind, intending to drive the man down to the ground and cuff him. But his opponent proved to be somewhat slippery, breaking out of Bolton’s bear hug and slamming a hard, bony knee to Bolton’s groin before turning away to make a run for freedom.
Bolton, grunting in pain and trying to suck in all of the oxygen the kick had pushed out of his lungs, made a desperate grab at the only part of the thief he could reach. Latching on to the ponytail sticking out from underneath the dark-visored helmet, Bolton swung the man back around and slammed him headfirst into a nearby light post.
Shards of the visor flew in all directions as the man crumpled to the ground again, this time staying down. A shaky Foster dropped on top of the man, rolled him over and cuffed both wrists and ankles.
“Have you lost your damn mind,” Foster growled at the semi-conscious man. “You okay, Mac?”
“I’ll live,” Bolton replied as he slowly stood up and tried very hard not to rub the injured area. As he straightened up his attention was drawn to a small object lying among the pieces of the broken visor. Foster saw a strange look appear on his partner’s face.
Bolton shook his head and reached down to pick up the object, lifting it up so Foster could get a better look at what appeared to be the upper plate of a set of dentures.
Both men looked down at the suspect, whose face was still covered by the ruined helmet and its visor, and took notice of the color of the ponytail that Bolton had grabbed.
It was gray. Very gray.
Foster, cursing under his breath, pulled the helmet off its owner’s head to reveal the weathered face of a man in his early sixties. Bolton couldn’t help but chuckle and he was hard-pressed not to laugh out loud at the expression on Foster’s face.
“We almost got our butts kicked by the Geritol Kid,” Bolton said, clapping Foster on the shoulder as several patrol cars arrived on the scene.
“Old man,” Foster asked as Bolton helped the recovering man sit up. “What are you robbing folks for? You should be home with your grandkids.”
The old robber waited until Bolton rinsed off the plate with bottled water from their car before answering.
“You try living on Social Security these days,” he said, wincing at the pain from his broken nose.
Both Foster and Bolton laughed aloud then. Foster gently lifted the man up and helped him into the back of the car. Just then the radio sprang to life with the voice of the Chief of Inspectors.
“Central to Inspector 17.”
“17, go-ahead,” Bolton replied, after leaning into the front of the car and grabbing the mike.
“Mac, I’m at Golden Gate Park,” the Chief said tersely. “You and Foster drop whatever you’re doing and get down here now.”
Bolton shot a look at Foster before replying.
“We just collared our ATM guy,” he explained. “Can it wait?”
“Hand him off to whoever is there,” the Chief replied. “They can put him in holding until you get in to process him. I need you two here.”
“What’s up?” Bolton asked.
“A patrolman found a body in the park,” the Chief said. “It’s a bad one Mac.”
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Next Week: Chapter 3 – The First Victim
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