“I called my contact, Sammy Sparts. He was a third-rate gangster and a first-rate drunk. He told me to meet him in an old warehouse south of the city. So I went.
“Sparts held a gun to my wife’s head. He seemed high, souped-up on some drug. But he didn’t have any men with him. It seemed odd, but I was too focused on my pregnant wife to worry about it.
“I tried to talk him down, but within minutes, a…thug showed up with Bobby. He must have found Bobby in the car and brought him in.
“I had no escape route, but I had one last ace up my sleeve. Before I’d gone in I’d called the police, gave them an anonymous tip. I figured I had a half hour before they showed up in droves, but it only took twenty minutes. As Sparts turned his attention to the sirens and lights, I pulled my grappling gun off my belt and shot him. I caught him in the chest, but I grazed my wife, Catherine.
“Sparts was winded, but not out. He must have had on some body armor or something, or he wouldn’t have lived. I picked my wife up and took her to safety.
“I thought the police would have the situation wrapped up, so I made certain she was okay before going back. It was selfish, but she was my wife. She was carrying our daughter. Just then the warehouse exploded. One big, honkin’ fireball. I guess Sparts’s superiors didn’t trust him to finish the job, or they never planned on letting him finish it, or maybe even Sparts did it himself as a plan B—I don’t know. Sparts must have gotten out since he talked to the papers, but I never saw him again.
“My wife and I left town, changed our names, and didn’t look back. If it weren’t for my daughter’s job at the University, I’d’ve stayed away.”
“That’s interesting,” Mr. Sturgess said. He stepped in front of the prosecutor’s desk, leaned back on it and folded his arms. “Are you certain that’s what happened?”
Hank didn’t answer.
“The man who brought Bobby,” Mr. Sturgess continued, “the ‘thug,’ I believe you called him. Did he hold Bobby the whole time?”
“I couldn’t say.”
“You see, Mr. Wipple, the funny thing is, only one body was found in that burned-out warehouse, Bobby’s body. And Bobby was holding a device I believe you recognize.”
Mr. Sturgess held up an evidence bag containing a rusted and partially melted grappling gun.
“What is this, Mr. Wipple?”“Are you certain you want to go down this road?” Hank asked in a low tone. “Mr. Hess may not like what you find.”
To Be Continued…