Castle Roland

On The Web

by Jack Scribe, of Honored Memory


Chapter 5

Posted: N/A


by Jack Scribe

Sunday morning

Thad opened one eye, rolled over to his side and glanced at the time. The green, digital face of the bedside clock glowed, '7:30', his reliable clock radio alarm had activated and weekend NPR talk disturbed the calm of the bedroom. 'Damn. I forgot to turn off the alarm,' he thought when both eyes opened to the sight of the familiar framed movie posters hung on the wall, 'but what a relief to be home.' Steady, heavy breathing told him that Benny was still asleep in the other twin bed. He quickly pushed the 'off' button and kicked away the cover sheet as he rolled over onto his back and stretched.

Like Old Faithful, his engorged cock was ready to blow and strained against the cotton of his CK's. Thad raised his hips, removed the offending briefs and felt his dick slap against his stomach when it was freed. He eased back onto the mattress and lazily scratched his balls. It was too early to rub one off and he still felt disorientated from the past 48 hours, but the pleasure of touching himself was comforting. 'Especially after all the shit I've gone through,' he thought as his finger went below his scrotum, 'it's reassuring to know everything is working down there.'

"For Christ's sake, would you get a room," Benny said with a chuckle.

"Morning, roomie," he replied with a stifled yawn. Thad removed his exploring hand, sat up and pulled up the sheet to cover his excited state. "Sorry for the floorshow and the alarm going off."

"Nothing I haven't seen before." Benny, lying on his stomach, clutched his pillow tighter and smiled while he adjusted his body slightly with a wiggle of his boxer-clad butt. "Although it's pretty easy to miss."

"Fuck you." Thad took his pillow and threw it at his roomie's grinning face. "And this is coming from a guy who's nickname in college was Princess Tiny Meat." He enjoyed the normalcy of verbally sparring with his good friend. "I'm going to make some coffee after I take a whiz. You want some?"

"Coffee or whiz?" Benny tossed the pillow back and rolled his eyes.

"Mr. Siegel, the golden shower queen. Who'd have guessed?" Thad judged he had returned to an acceptable state of flaccidity and stood up. Joking aside, neither friend was completely comfortable revealing an erection - whether morning wood or being caught 'in the hand' - to the other. They were strictly roommates. He grabbed his cargo shorts and slipped them on.

"Just do your thing and then make the coffee. With all the excitement yesterday, I've still got several weekend errands to run." Benny swung around and brought his legs to the floor. "How about you?"

"Gotta figure out what to do about my car. Nothing else is pressing, although I do have a message to call Doug DiMarco. It was too late to return it last night. Wonder what he wants?"

"Probably something to do with the job, since Brad told you not to sweat it."

"Wasn't that wild yesterday having Brad Williams arrive at the hospital with you and Oleg? I'd love to know more about Brad's and Doug's Navy days with your boss."

"All I know is that those three, plus a couple of other dudes who live out here, have been very tight since they were all stationed together in Memphis. One of the guys owns TJ's and the other is one of Brad's law partners. As far as returning the call, I'd wait until 9:00." Benny got up and stripped his bed. "I'm going to do some laundry. There should be plenty of machines available this early in the morning."

"Good idea. After the coffee is brewed, I'll come down with a load...of dirty clothes, Thad replied with a grin.

"That's the only 'load' you better come down with." Benny wrinkled his nose and stuck out his tongue.

"Yeah, yeah...wishful thinking. Seriously, leave the soap in the laundry room, would ya? And I'll straighten up the apartment if you go to the store."

"Make up a list and leave some money. That'll be my last stop." Benny slipped on a pair of jeans and opened his drawer to retrieve a clean tee.

"Will do." Thad walked over to Benny, put his hand on his friend's shoulder and added, "Thanks, buddy, for being there for me yesterday. You're a good friend and a friggin' lifesaver." Benny didn't react well to praise, so Thad decided it was best to go on into the bathroom and close the door.

After taking care of business, Thad padded out to the kitchen and started a pot of coffee. He knew Benny would fill a Thermos cup with coffee and disappear for the morning. 'Who is this Ed guy and how does Rory fit in?' he kept wondering as he wrote down a list of items needed from the supermarket.

He returned to the bedroom, tossed his dirty clothes on the bed and separated colors from whites. 'And what do I do about a car?' He decided to call his dad in Phoenix a little later in the morning and give him a sanitized version of 'recent events' and find out how to contact the insurance people. He was positive the Mustang was covered on his dad's policy and that it would cover renting a car. 'I also must call the police and find out where they towed the car. Detective Lamanna said they should be finished inspecting it today.' He decided he'd wait to put on a shirt until he'd finished cleaning the apartment and had a shower.

Thad grabbed a fistful of quarters for the washing machine, slipped into his flip-flops, found a twenty-dollar bill and lugged his bundled laundry out of the bedroom. He placed the paper money with the shopping list, proceeded out to the hallway and pushed the elevator call button. The utilitarian, Formica-walled elevator - whining and vibrating in protest - took him to the bowels of the building and the laundry room. Most of the machines were empty, but there was no sign of his friend - other than the jumbo box of Tide. 'Benny must have used the stairway,' he thought as he measured the detergent into two machines. One of his tasks growing up was helping his now-deceased mother with chores around the house, and being sure to wash colors separately was an ironclad rule.

Just as he opened the apartment door, he heard the telephone answering machine beep and an amplified voice saying, "Good morning, this is Doug DiMarco. I apologize for calling so early but I'm up and out..."

Thad picked up the phone and stopped the answering machine. "Doug, this is Thad. I was downstairs doing some laundry."

_"Glad we're talking in person. I wanted to check in, see how you're doing and let you know the job offer still stands." _

"Thanks for asking. I'm sure you know the detective has given me a 99% clean bill of health and now I just have to hang tight." Thad had to pause for a moment to process the news that he was going to work on the film with Doug. "Jeez, I appreciate you still giving me a chance in light of what happened."

"No problem. Maybe once the mystery is solved and the bad guys are apprehended, it'll make a good movie," Doug replied with a laugh. "I also want to confirm that you'll be available to start first thing in the morning. The production schedule is moving faster than I anticipated because one of the actors is only available for his scenes for a limited time."

"I could start as soon as I fold my laundry," Thad replied with a laugh. "Starting tomorrow would work."

"Good. Are you going to be home this morning?"

"At least 'til noon. I've got apartment cleaning duty and some calls to make. Then I need to rent a car." Thad didn't share that he also needed to have a long talk with his dad.

"Then I'm going to send Bryan over with a copy of the latest script. I figure it'll give you a chance to get up to speed. I'll also include a list of all the characters, notes I've made and directions on how to get on the lot. "

"I'll be here. 1417 North Vista near Sunset. We're listed on the callbox as Brooks slash Siegel." Thad wondered who Bryan was, but decided not to ask.

"Bry has a Thomas Guide so he'll find the place. Gotta run...see you at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow. We can talk over my ideas about the film, then you can go over to H.R. when they open and complete the paperwork."

And with that, the newest, most important man in his professional life hung up. Thad put away the Tide and poured a cup of coffee. From the contents in the coffee pot he confirmed that Benny had filled his 'go' cup before leaving. He grabbed a cloth and went into the living area. Between leaving the window open in the evenings and neither of them handling the task of cleaning for the past two weeks, the dust was very obvious. Next was a cursory attack on the worn carpet with their vintage Hoover vacuum. 'Probably rearranges the dirt, rather than sucking it up,' he thought as he continued the process. A couple of times he stopped the vacuum and picked up some large chunks of mystery dirt by hand - probably very aged sausage bits from one of their many delivered pizzas - rather than using the vacuum. Before tackling the kitchen, he returned to the basement and transferred the laundry from the washers to the large commercial dryer. This time a few neighbors were also present. No one looked interesting in their similar early morning grubbies, but he mumbled 'good mornings' to be a good neighbor as he passed by.

Halfway through the more thorough scrub-down of the kitchen, he heard a knock on the door. 'Hmmm, did Benny forget his keys?' he wondered as he walked to the front door. Thad peered through the peephole and saw a good-looking guy patiently waiting. He opened the door and said, "Hi. Can I help you?"

"Yeah. I'm looking for Thad Brooks. I'm Bryan and Doug asked me to drop off this script. Sorry about not buzzing but someone was going out the door as I approached the entrance."

"Oh, sure. Come on in...please." Thad opened the door and stepped aside as Bryan entered. 'Must be Hispanic...with the emphasis more on European Spanish,' he judged as the guy smiled and walked in, 'and about my age. Maybe he and I will be working together on the film. From the way Bryan fits into his polo shirt and jeans, it's pretty obvious he must work out. And those blue eyes and yummy dark lashes are to die for.' All of a sudden, Thad remembered he was only wearing a pair of shorts and had worked up a decent sweat. 'Oh, crap. I bet I'm really grossing him out.'

"Nice place and I love the vintage movie stuff," Bryan said as he walked over to look more closely at a Ben Hur poster featuring a fearsome, hunky Charlton Heston riding in a chariot.

"Have you got time for a cup of coffee? It's still pretty fresh." Thad decided he definitely wanted to know more about Bryan.

"Black would be great, but I can only stay for a few minutes. Oh, here's the script and a few other things Doug put inside the cover."

"Why don't you just set it down on the coffee table? I'm going to pour a cup and leave it on the counter. Give me a sec to throw on a shirt," Thad replied as he grabbed a clean mug.

"Hey, that's no problem. Living in the fraternity house, you get pretty used to guys not wearing much. Plus, you're in shape and pull off the topless look pretty well," Bryan said with a grin.

"Um, thanks...I think. Here's the coffee and I'll be right back." Thad went to the bathroom and did a fast 15-second water splash/towel-off grooming. He was a little thrown by Bryan's casual, familiar banter. 'Is this guy flirting with me?' He quickly applied deodorant from his sport stick and brushed his hair before heading over to his drawer for a fresh tee shirt. 'Guess the shorts I'm wearing will work and going commando won't matter,' he thought as he pulled down the tee. He returned to the kitchen, filled his mug with coffee and joined Bryan, who was sitting on the couch.

"Welcome back...shirt and all." Bryan raised his mug, grinned and took a sip of coffee. "Good blend. Vanilla?"

"Trader Joe's Hazelnut. Not exactly the most macho coffee, but Benny and I like it."

"Benny? As in..."

"Roommate and good friend. That's all." Thad decided to leave the door open if Bryan wanted to figure out status and availability. 'But affairettes on the set wouldn't be a good thing,' he quickly decided.

"Got it. Doug told me about Benny working for Jim Weiss and a little about what happened to you this weekend. That's about it."

"Really?" Thad paused for a moment and frowned. "I'm puzzled that he'd confide in you about the problems I encountered. Especially if we're going to be working together." He looked at Bryan and raised his eyebrow.

'Oops. I think that there's been some misunderstanding. I don't work for Doug. I'm just down from Stanford for the weekend and he asked me to run this errand before I return."

"So Doug is..."

"Oh, shit. You've been completely left out in the dark. Doug - and Brad - are my adoptive dads. So I'm part of the several ways. Guess he didn't explain the relationship. My name's Bryan DiMarco. Your name and the unfortunate series of events you experienced came up in conversation over dinner last night." Bryan reached over, put his hand on Thad's hand and squeezed it. "I'm finishing law school at Stanford and will be back in three weeks to work at Brad's firm as a gofer while I study for the bar exam." He smiled warmly and shrugged. "I really am sorry for the misunderstanding."

"Now it makes sense." Thad turned his hand over and squeezed Bryan's hand. The two guys didn't disengage. "He did mention a son but not by name. And then this morning he told me Bryan was coming over...I didn't get the connection. Hope you don't mind if I say 'fuuuuuuuck' in front of the boss's son?" Thad grinned and freshened his grip.

"Heard worse and occasionally I've been known to utter the phrase." Bryan chuckled as he freed his hand. "And I sure don't mind holding hands with a handsome guy who's single."

"You're..." Thad's heart skipped a beat as he was interrupted.

"23 and very single," Bryan replied before he took another sip of coffee. "I gotta drive back to Palo Alto so I can study for the finals. Would I be too bold if I suggested we get together when I return next month? You seem like a nice guy and I'd like to know you better. And I know Doug is anxious to work with you."

"Since we've cleared up that misunderstanding, I would very much like that." Thad stood up and added, "Let me write down my contact numbers and email address." He was encouraged he might make a new friend and to hear that Doug was supportive of his professional future.

"Super." Bryan joined Thad at the counter. "Give me a piece of paper and I'll do the same."

Thad tore off a post-it note and smiled. He couldn't believe that his shitty weekend was ending so well.

The rigorous bed aerobics of the previous evening had physically and pleasantly drained both men. Oleg was delighted to wake up and find this hot lawyer spooned in his arms, still asleep. He felt sated and a little sore - in a good way - from his houseguest's aggressiveness. He was sure Giorgio probably felt the same. Oleg snuggled a little closer and pressed his hard member against the now docile butt crack next to him. 'Between his Italian heritage and my Russian-French genes, it's a lethal combination,' he thought as he became aware of the dim lightness. There was a gray glow at the window that indicated dawn had arrived. He slowly moved his erection up and down a few times before drifting back to sleep.

Warm fingers brushing against his nipple and aureole brought Oleg back to consciousness. He opened his eyes and noticed his bedroom was now bright with the morning sun. They had shifted positions and now he was being spooned. In addition to his pecs being slowly massaged, he felt a very determined protrusion poking at his bottom-side and perineum. 'Giorgio has carefully arranged this position,' he decided, 'and must be game for another round.' He reached up and tenderly touched his bedmate's wandering hand while moving his body in synch with Giorgio's action.

"Morning, my host," Giorgio said almost in a whisper. "Did you get a good rest?"

"Right. After getting split in half," Oleg replied with a chuckle, "by that WMD of yours." He wiggled his butt and pressed closer to his bedmate's hard cock.

"As I recall in the passion of the evening, Mr. Petrov, you keep a supply of Magnums in the drawer and you fit into them quite nicely." Giorgio leaned up and nibbled on Oleg's ear. "I'd suggest a kiss but I'm sure we're both suffering from cum breath."

"Ewww, that's gross...but probably correct." Oleg snickered and moved around so that his face was buried in his new friend's chest hair. He loved inhaling the natural muskiness as he moved slightly to lick the large, hard nipples before him. At the same time, he reached down and gently rolled Giorgio's hefty low-hangers in his hand.

"Did I tell you I'm absolutely delighted we met last night?" Giorgio slowly moved onto his back and allowed the assault on his chest to continue. But he brought his hand down to hold Oleg's wandering hand. "Would you mind if we just hold the memory of last night and plan on when we're going to do a replay? Quite honestly, I'm completely spent from our lovemaking."

"Funny, I was thinking the same thing. Goes with not being 21 anymore...or anywhere close to it." Oleg grinned at the image of each of them rooting the other the previous night and their marvelous orgasmic pleasures...both times. He was also pleased that Giorgio used the term 'lovemaking' rather than the more common, vulgar term. "I notice it's about 8:00. Why don't we get up and do our thing. I've got a little business to attend to...after I take you back to your hotel."

"Works for me. I've got to get back and do a few things." Giorgio sat up and moved over to the side of the bed and added, "We must trade cards and keep in touch."

"Keep in touch for real. No air kisses and the rest of the L.A. bullshit. I think we could become solid friends with only a bit of effort." Oleg scooted to the edge of the bed and stood up. "Capisce?"

"Certamente. In L.A., real friendships are not common."

The shared shower and breezy conversation during a light breakfast confirmed their comfort with each other. While Oleg was content to wear only a pair of shorts and a T-shirt for the time being, Giorgio Como was now dressed for the day and ready to be driven back to his hotel. When they arrived in front of INNdulge, they kissed firmly on the lips and promised to call each other the following week and arrange a rendezvous in the city.

'Quite a satisfying weekend,' Oleg thought after he returned home and sipped on a final cup of coffee by the pool, 'with Giorgio being the bonus. I'm damned happy with the interesting leads in the murder case and the connection to the kiddie porn ring investigation.' He looked at his steel TAG Heuer sport watch and verified it was time to contact London. With Palm Springs being in the minus 8 BST - British Summer time - zone, he knew Dex would be in the Kensington AOI flat waiting for the 5:00 p.m. call. Oleg had left a message with the AOI's worldwide ops center for Dex to expect a call for an investigation update at that specified time.

Dexter Tate, eight years younger than Oleg and also an FBI alumnus, was a valued associate working out of AOI's Washington, D.C. headquarters. The AOI board - key Alpha secret society members - had recently become alarmed about pedophilia rumors concerning a closeted congressman: a man who consistently thumped the right-wing agenda to the delight of the fundamentalist, right wing bible nuts. Certain documents had been found that tied the congressman to a German porn producer. Now, the late Harvey Fine entered the picture with a possible connection and, along the circuitous evidence trail, the founder of a powerful religious broadcasting group in Colorado Springs had surfaced as another link to the ring.

To force congressman 'X' into retirement was the major goal of this AOI case. However, the opportunity to embarrass the ultra-conservative Temple of Salvation mega-church added to the stakes. "A real Rocky Mountain high," AOI's managing director had joked. Once Dex and Oleg gathered all the evidence, a neat packet would be anonymously sent to the FBI and the White House. And, as with the Reverend Ted and the hustler scandal a year earlier, scurrilous details of religious broadcaster Vincent Patrick's private life would be leaked to the press.

The final dregs of the coffee weren't as satisfying because it had become tepid. Oleg wrinkled his nose and returned to the kitchen. He rinsed out the mug and set it aside for a later final cleaning with the other dishes. In the living room he got his briefcase and the satellite telephone. He took the black instrument, punched in the numbers and listened to the clicks as the call was picked up, scrambled miles up in the sky and connected with the AOI corporate flat that overlooked Kensington Gardens.

"As prompt as always," Dex said as he answered the phone. "How you doing?" It was S.O.P. not to address a team member by name on a telephone conversation, no matter how secure.

"Never better. I've got some interesting news that may help our work." Oleg spent the next several minutes giving Dex an overview of Harvey Fine's murder and the tidbit of information he had picked up from Andy concerning KinderGeist Pornoladen.

"You don't think then, that the murder is related to the porn network?"

"I can almost guarantee you that Harvey Fine pissed off this porn star concerning some Frat Loft business, but proving that will be something else. The good news is I'm helping the detective on the murder case and I'll sniff around for any leads that'll help us."

"And we've got someone in Colorado Springs tracking down a few leads. Early results of our probes are inconclusive, but they point to Internet links in the vicinity of the Temple's broadcasting facilities. We're separately tracking down Vincent Patrick's application to the FCC for 30 AM and FM frequencies in Colorado. They're all masked behind several dummy corporations to circumvent the FCC ownership limits. It does appear, however, to be church shenanigans rather than his little perv side-business on the net."

"Praise the Lord and pass the lube. My gut tells me this could be a big side-business. Anything on the credit card activity from the porn sites?"

"The usual subterfuge. Data bouncing around layers of different computer know the drill. It just takes patience."

"Like peeling an onion. I'm heading back into town very soon to make contact with the detective who's on the case. I want to get into Harvey's office and sniff around. Let's plan on me calling you at 10:00 p.m. BST, tomorrow evening? I should have more to discuss."

"And I'll have a full report from our man in Dresden. Take care."

While he cleaned the dishes and washed the bedding, Oleg pulled together a plan of action. If he left Palm Springs by noon, he should be back in L.A. and his condo by 3:00 p.m. at the latest. Traffic was always iffy on Sunday returning from the desert. Weekend commute veterans would often return very early on Monday morning rather than getting stuck in potential Sunday afternoon jams. 'However, I don't have that luxury,' he thought as he walked to his car in the garage. He tossed his overnight bag and briefcase into the Boxster before continuing outside to dispose of the garbage bag.

The house looked ship-shape as he walked through for a final inspection. He lowered the security screens and the room light had dimmed to darkness by the time he had reached the door to the garage. He closed the door and entered the security code on the alarm pad. Oleg had 60 seconds to back out of the garage and close the garage door.

Traffic on the Palm Springs highway to the freeway was moderate. But as he approached the I-10, he saw miles of vehicles and trucks slowly snaking their way westward. Rather than get frustrated, he accepted the fact it would be a three-hour commute and decided to listen to a CD he had picked up early the previous week. It was the audio version of the new Vince Flynn action novel. But first, one phone call needed to be made. Oleg carefully scrolled through his Blackberry contact list - his eyes darting up and down so as not to be part of a rear-ender - until he came upon Joe Lamanna's name. He punched the send button and waited for a connection.

"Oleg, whazzup?"

"Returning to L.A., racing at 25 miles per hour on the '10'. Wanted to let you in on my interview yesterday. Is this a good time?" Oleg wasn't sure if this was the detective's day off.

"Working on the case this afternoon so I'm all yours."

Oleg smiled to himself but decided not to rejoin with a juicy double entendre. "Spoke with Andy Leeds - Fine's office manager. He seems clean and only tends to the routine business matters, payroll...stuff like that. Knows all the players and had a few opinions about our porn stud. Apparently Harvey was schtupping Rory on a regular basis at his house."

"Yeah, Rory was rather matter-of-fact about that. The guy is a cool character who is very careful about how he tells his story. Details about being with Brooks at the bar pretty much matched what Brooks said."

"I suspected that would be the case...up to the point where the guy in the baseball cap entered the picture." Oleg paused for a moment and switched to a faster lane. "I was told Fine gave Rory several expensive gifts including a car."

"So why would the guy 'off' his golden goose?"

"Good point. But that whole interaction with Thad Brooks smells like a dog turd. Rory's a classic narcissist who only has feelings for someone else when his dick is involved."

"You do have a way with words," Lamanna replied with a chuckle. "There's also a large time gap that Rory can't detail. Only that he was at the bar until about 1:00 a.m."

"Joe, are you going to be in your office at the station in a couple of hours? This traffic is getting crazy and I don't like driving with a cell in my ear under these conditions."

"I'll be here. If I do have to leave, you'll get a call."

"Until then." Oleg turned off his phone and continued to plod towards L.A.

He slipped the CD of Vince Flynn's "Protect and Defend" into his system. Out of the speakers came a deep voice that said, "Chapter One," and paused. "Mitch Rapp ran his hand along her smooth, naked thigh, up to her waist, and then over her flat stomach. His body was pressed against hers; front to back, her head resting on his arm." Oleg smiled and applauded that the fictional CIA operative assassin was getting laid for a change...before the bodies started to stack up.

Two hours and several chapters later, he pulled into the mostly-empty parking lot of the LAPD Hollywood division on Wilcox just south of Sunset Boulevard. Oleg had decided to see Joe first before going home. He also needed to pick up a few things at the store. 'Might grab a roasted chicken and chill out with the tube,' he decided as he walked inside and up to the uniformed duty officer sitting behind a thick wall of Lexan. He leaned down, announced himself to the female rookie and mentioned whom he wanted to see. The young officer picked up a desk phone, punched in two numbers and spoke briefly into the mouthpiece. She smiled, replaced the handset and said that Detective Lamanna was expecting him. She buzzed the door to release the lock and Oleg strolled in with a polite nod. He was very familiar with the sub-station layout. The desks were empty and the only noise was a faint buzz from the fluorescent light fixtures.

"Not worse for the wear from the trip, I see," Joe said as Oleg approached his desk. "I'd offer you a cup of coffee but it's pretty stale."

"Beer's more like it but I suppose that's not doable." Oleg smiled, shook Lamanna's hand and sat down on the side chair. "How about a Diet Coke?"

"That I can provide. Let's go back to the break room, get the drinks and talk there. It's more hospitable than this sea of empty desks." The detective grabbed a steno pad, stood up, and they walked to the rear of the building. In the break room, he went up to a vending machine and fed coins into it. A series of grinding noises and a couple of clunks produced two cans in the bottom bin. Lamanna retrieved the cans and handed one to Oleg.

"Thanks." Oleg popped the tab and sat down at a nearby table. He watched Joe do the same thing and they both took an initial sip.

"As you were saying a couple hours ago." Lamanna opened his pad and flipped the pages over until he found his notes. "Yes, this Andy guy."

"The office manager, Andy Leeds. He was very cooperative. I mentioned your name and suggested he plan on showing up for work tomorrow just like he normally does. He said he was going to call someone in charge of the studio and say that all the guys should plan on showing up for business as originally scheduled. I guess the cam pay sites run daily."

"Yeah. One of my guys got a real eyeful when he arrived unannounced at their studio. But we're a diverse force and I think he enjoyed the action." Lamanna laughed and rolled his eyes. "You should check the place out...might learn a few things."

"That's an idea." Oleg smiled and adjusted himself a little on the chair to ease the sore reminder of eight hours earlier. "Seriously, I told Andy not to enter or disturb Fine's office until you or someone from your department arrived on Monday."

"Thanks for suggesting that. It makes sense to see what's going on in Fine's office."

"Are you going to be the man to check things out?" Oleg asked.

"Probably. I'm on duty tomorrow but my partner's off." Lamanna paused and took a sip. "You wanna come with me before we check out the crime scene? I need to get a search warrant in the meantime. Maybe meet at Fine's office about 9:00?"

Oleg was happy that Joe offered exactly what he wanted. "You read my mind. Can I mention something on the QT?"

"Like this is the first time for either of us. What's going on?" Lamanna leaned back in his chair and raised his eyebrows.

"When I originally agreed to be of assistance to the Brooks kid, I didn't know what exactly had happened. Just a favor to friends." Oleg paused and sipped from the can. "Things got interesting when I found out some details about Harvey Fine. He may be the local key to a case I'm working on with our headquarters office. It involves a kiddie porn ring - Internet and DVDs - and he might have been in the thick of it. The other creeps are located in Colorado, D.C. and Germany. I should add that certain members of the federal government would be very grateful for any help that is given."

"You think this porn ring has any connection to the murder?" Lamanna sat up straight and wrote a few notes on his open pad.

"It's a very remote possibility. However, I think all roads lead to this Rory character and a serious problem he had with Fine. Serious enough for the end result to be lethal."

"My thoughts, exactly. He's very cocksure of himself and quite slippery. But Rory, aka Henry, will screw up somewhere along the way. They always do."

"What about the security tapes at The Abbey? Do they match his story?"

"They match. There's a shot of him entering the place around 8:45 Friday night and then his departure four hours later. He claims that he spent the time, after having a drink with Brooks, with several anonymous guys in the back rooms. No names, though."

"Does sound fishy and a little unrealistic." Oleg considered the alibi that Rory had tossed out and rejected the idea. "As a man of experience, I can guarantee you that no one - straight or gay - goes to a bar that's fairly sophisticated and screws around that long. You either hook up with someone or go elsewhere."

"But I don't have anything else to go on," Lamanna replied. "And he's on the tapes."

"Here's what I'm going to do. As much as these old bones are protesting, I'll go over to The Abbey later tonight, poke around a little and get a lay of the land. I'll bring along a picture of Rory...not that it'll do much good. But maybe it'll trigger one of the staff's memory."

"Deal. Then we can compare notes tomorrow morning."

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