Written by Mark'ee Drankard
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The Sergeant Major on stage spoke with a skillful degree of high intellect; his awards and decorations spoke for themselves. As the newly soon to be graduated soldiers sat flawlessly in an upright position heeding every word that the Sergeant Major spoke, thoughts raced through their minds of things to come. The Sergeant Major’s voice echoed through the room as he finished his speech. “And with that we must remember to set the example, the standard for all soldiers to follow”, “Last but not least don’t forget the Military Police motto “Assist, Protect, and Defend”, “Congratulations and welcome to the Military Police Corps”.
I said my good byes to the soldiers who I had trained with side by side for the last 6 months.
Many had tears in their eyes for their futures were unclear. Not me, I had my future laid out since the first day. As I took my seat on the charter bus headed for the airport, I quickly fell asleep finally putting to rest all the tedious 6 months behind me.
My final destination had arrived, the humid Hawaii air filled my lungs as I breathed in deeply. It was going to be an exciting 3 years at my first duty station, to be ironic exciting wasn’t the word for it.
I awoke to the sounds of someone gasping. Since this was a nightly thing I really didn’t give it any thought. As the sound grew louder I began to realize that this was a little different. I rose from my bed and over to the door. By now I could pinpoint where the noises was coming from. Corporal Moore’s room. I slowly eased my way down the walkway and came to a stop in front of her door. Not surprised that it was cracked a little I peered in. There sat Corporal Moore at the edge of her bunk in her duty uniform, 9-millimeter pistol firmly pressed to her head. She was sweating profusely and mumbled to herself. I pushed the door open and gradually stepped in. I damn near went into shock when she turned and pointed the weapon at me. “Get the out”, she said in a now calm voice. I was at a loss for words and could not move. “You don’t know what they’re doing to me, you have no fucking idea”, she yelled as she stood up. “What are you talking about?”, I whispered. Corporal Moore smiled as she shifted the weapon back to her head and pulled the hammer back. She suddenly began to shout at the top of her lungs. “NO ONE IS MORE PROFESSIONAL THAN I, I AM A NON COMMISSIONED OFFICER, A LEADER OF SOLDIERS, AS A NON COMMISSIONED I REALIZE THAT I AM A MEMBER OF A TIME HONORED CORP WHICH IS KNOWN AS THE BACKBONE OF THE ARMY, I AM PROUD OF THE CORP OF NON COMMISSIONED OFFICERS AND WILL AT ALL TIMES CONDUCT MYSELF SO AS TO BRING CREDIT UPON THE CORP, THE MILITARY SERVICE AND MY COUNTRY REGARDLESS OF THE SITUATION IN WHICH I MAY FIND MYSELF”. She suddenly stopped and stood very rigid, “What situation huh?”. With those words Corporal Moore slowly pulled the trigger and splattered her brain matter on the walls and myself. As her body fell to the floor, I rushed over and knelt beside her. By this time a horde of other soldiers stood at the door and I yelled for them to call EMS.
2 hours had passed since the incident, and I sat in a small white room typical for an interrogation. A Hispanic male in civilian clothes stepped into the room. I could clearly make out the words on the badge on his belt which read “Criminal Investigations Division”. These were supposed to be the top Investigators in the Military, but all too often couldn’t find their way out of a wet paper bag with a map and compass in it. He sat down across from me and placed his badge on the table. “My name is Special Agent Hernandez, and I need to ask you a few questions”. I thought to myself: “Wow is this why I’m in an interrogation room?”, he spoke and interrupted my thoughts, "Now Private First Class, Drankard is it?, I nodded and he went on. “From the beginning tell me exactly what happened”. “Sir I already gave a statement as to what happened and I would be only wasting my time and your time by telling you the same thing”, I replied in a groggy voice. Special Agent Hernandez stood up and slammed his fist on the table. “DON’T TELL ME ABOUT WASTED TIME TROOP, I WILL MAKE A DECISION ON THAT, DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?” I began to wonder why he was yelling, because I was sitting right across from him. “Yes sir”, I replied in a nonchalant manner.
By the time the questioning was done I learned some information that I was never to relay to anyone else. It seemed that Corporal Moore had a secondary job within the Army. A pharmaceutical distributor, street type, 1 each, of Methanphetamins. It seemed that she was a major supplier of the drug, even though I couldn’t wonder how or why. I also wondered why Special idiot Hernandez found it necessary for me to know this information. With a million thoughts racing through my head I made it back to the barracks and fell asleep around 0645 Hrs.
At around 1130 hrs I awoke to the bothersome ringing of my phone. I finally decided to answer it and typically when I did the caller on the other end hung up. Slamming down the phone and making my way back to my bunk, the phone rang again. I picked it back up and before I even said hello I was stopped. “Private First Class Drankard?” the voice sounded kind of distorted as if the caller was trying to disguise himself. “Yes”, I replied still half asleep. “I’ll make this brief, your involuntarily painted into a corner, and I suggest that you stay in that corner.” I interrupted, “Who the hell is this? And why are you calling me?” I was fully awake now and angry. “Don’t worry about that troop, just make it happen”. With that the phone hung up. I stood quietly not knowing what to make of the phone call. Involuntarily painted into a corner. What did that mean? Furthermore who was the caller? I decided not to jump the gun and ponder the situation any further than I had to. In the back of my mind I was compelled to find out, someone had made something my business. Why?
3 Days had passed and I was assigned to Corporal Moore’s funeral detail, it figures. She was to be buried in a military cemetery by the request of her family. The entire unit was present (as if they had a choice) and no one seemed affected by the ceremony. On the other hand I had seen what happened point blank and tears formed in my eyes. Did anyone know the circumstances of Corporal Moore’s so called suicide? Was I the only one? Time passed so quickly after the service and later that night I had to personally pay my respects to Corporal Moore.
I arrived at the cemetery around 2200 hrs and made my way to Corporal Moore’s tombstone. The night seemed oddly quiet even for a cemetery. I shooed away a raven that carelessly sat atop Corporal Moore’s head stone. Slowly I knelt beside it and ran my fingers over the engraving, which read: Corporal Desiray Moore, United States Army 1973-1995, beloved daughter, and devoted soldier. Once again tears fell from my eyes and separated the newly formed dust with a soft touch. I ran over and over in my mind the memories I had of Corporal Moore; she was not just another soldier in today’s Army, but the woman that I was going to marry. I was suddenly filled with a sudden anger and began beating my fist on the ground. “WHY?” I yelled repeatedly. After what seemed forever but only a few minutes I stood up and wiped the tears from my eyes. I dropped the single white rose that I held in my hand so tightly that the thorns cut deep in my palm on her grave. I made my way back to my car and began to open the door when I heard a voice from the direction of the cemetery keeper’s building. “Lovely night, isn’t?” the voice sounded placid and I could not make out a face but a shadowy figure standing next to the building. I turned from the car and stepped forward when I heard a click. I knew this was the sound of a gun. “Stay where you are”, the voice said. “Or you’ll be laying right next to your friend over there”. “What do you want?” I asked firmly. “You know there are temptations in this world beyond control, whether we give in to em or not, they’re still there.” “What are you getting at”, I said with more firmness. “Here’s the deal, there are certain powers that are in control where ever you go, and if no questions arise then there’s no problems.” I began to grow impatient. The voice spoke again “In Lamen’s Terms, shut your freakin mouth, go with the flow and everything will be ok”. With a gun pointed at me I had no further questions. The figure departed as quickly as it came and once again the night was serene. I stepped back over to my car and located a folded piece of paper stuck to my windshield. It read: Waikiki beach 2300 hrs Friday. There was no name only an ordinary piece of paper in generic handwriting. As I made my way back to the barracks I periodically glanced at the note which haunted my thought procedure. I recalled a saying from one of my Drill Sergeants “Your not paid to think”, so I didn’t. Great Army training huh?
Friday came before I knew it with only 2 hours to go before my arcane meeting. It was getting a little chilly outside so I decided to wear a light jacket. The trip downtown to Waikiki took only 20 minutes. To my surprise after arriving at the parking structure there wasn’t many people or cars around. I exited my car and caught a momentary view of a black Crown Victoria with tinted windows pulling into a parking space about 200 meters from me. Crown Victoria I thought the choice vehicle for law enforcement officials. There I go thinking again. I watched as two men exited the car and stared in my direction. I looked behind me wondering if there was someone else there. Unfortunately there was, my face was quickly hooded with a black bag and I was smacked over the head. For now unconsciousness was the only word in my vocabulary. Ouch.
I was awakened by being smacked in the face. As if busting me over the head wasn’t painful enough. When my vision finally came into focus I was sitting in the backseat of the same Crown Victoria that I had seen earlier. Inside the car were three men, their faces covered with Baklava’s. “Mr. Drankard”, one of them spoke very clearly. “We have a proposition to make, actually you have no choice”. “There’s about 25 G’s a week to be made out here in this beautiful state”. I shifted my position. “And good help is hard to find nowadays”. “You see some people can’t take the pressure and get careless”. The man turned his disguised face towards the front window and back at me. “I know who you are, and what you’ve done”. “Fraudulent enlistment, arrested 5 times in Cleveland for selling cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and the list goes on”. “Let me take a guess”, I muttered. “Blackmail”. The man laughed and turned to his partner. “This kid is good”. “Back to the story, you see Corporal Moore was in over her head”. “By some means she found out about our little escapade and well you know the rest”. “She offered silence in return for as you would put it chedda”. “She got greedy and too expensive for us to keep”. Here I go thinking again. “So you drove her to the point where she took her own life.” “Bingo, you hit it again”. “You see in this way no one gets alerted and we keep our business, it’s the perfect crime”. I was filled with an anger to match the Incredible Hulk. I easily broke loose from the man’s grip and pushed another towards the door. I was pinned down only to find a Sig Sauer 9-millimeter pistol stuck in my mouth. “Now listen you little shit, you either cooperate with us, or you’ll find yourself busting rocks in Leavenworth for the next 50 years”. The gun was shoved in my mouth so far I started to gag. “Now”, the man’s voice went from angry to calm. “We’ll let you know when and where, all you need to do is show up”. The gun was removed carelessly from my mouth and the man holding me loosened his grip on my arm. I wiped the blood away from my mouth. “Is that it?” I muttered through a bloody lip. “That’s it, and take this with you”. The man handed me a Nokia cell phone and popped the door locks. “We’ll be keeping in touch troop”. Opening the car door, the man didn’t waste any time starting the engine. What had I gotten into, and troop? Now where have I heard that before. There’s no such thing as the perfect crime, but so far this was damn near close to it. I felt like a fly caught in a giant spider web with only one way to go. Down.
The next day I reported promptly to the CID office at Schofield Barracks. There I was introduced to the members of DST. First there was Investigator Pierce, I had seen him plenty of times before but never really spoke. Next there was Investigator Daniels. Every drug team has their hotheaded agents and Investigator Daniels was it. Third there was Investigator Cambridge, a surprisingly good-looking female in the military considering all the ones I have seen. Last but not least was the Special Agent in charge. Special Agent Crowe. Special Agent Crowe was the Colombo type of person from my eyes. Looked like him too. Just as I began to snicker he began to speak. “Investigator Drankard, today’s your lucky day”. What did he mean? “We have received a tip from our informant about a Meth lab in an unoccupied government building”. “And guess who gets to take it down?”. Great my first day and I was already going to die. Special Agent Crowe handed me a manila folder and turned to Cambridge. “Bring him up to speed and get him some equipment, we roll out tonight at 2230”. Cambridge patted me on the back and motioned for me to follow her. In the back of my mind the theme to Hawaii 5-0 was playing, I put a mental block on it and followed Cambridge.
“So how long have you been here”, I asked Cambridge as we walked into a smaller office. “It’s been about 2 years”, she said gracefully throwing her hair back. I became surprised as she switched on a radio blaring Ruffryder’s Anthem by DMX. I easily rocked my head to the music and watched as she opened a locked desk drawer and produced a small black case. “Here’s your duty weapon, I suggest you keep it with you at all times”. I reached for the case when Cambridge slammed her hand on top of mine. “Listen this is the real deal, any dirtbag out there senses that your not legit, you’re dead”. “So keep your head out your rear and stay on your toes”. She took her hand off the case and pushed it in my direction. Opening the case I removed a brand new Sig Sauer nine-millimeter semi-automatic pistol. I held the weapon up in the air and pulled back the slide. Yeah this’ll do, I said to myself. “You can sign for some rounds from Chief”, she replied closing the drawer and tossing me a holster. “Where’s the bathroom?” I asked as the music faded away. “Out the door and to the right”. “Thanks”, I said and turned. Walking down the hall I stopped and peered through an open office door with the words “Special Agent Mark Hernandez”, stenciled on it. I stepped back as I heard Hernandez on the phone. “Listen you piece of crap, 5 thousand was promised and 5 thousand will be delivered”. Hernandez sounded really pissed off. He looked up towards the door and I stepped back continuing down the hall to the bathroom.
I quickly positioned the holster on my belt and slid the weapon into it. “This is the real deal”, I mimicked Cambridge. After doing my business and washing my hands I heard a knock on the door followed by Cambridge’s voice. “Hey in there, we gotta roll”. I stepped towards the door easing out of it. “Where?” I asked not really sure if I wanted to know. “We have to make a buy from one of our suppliers”. “Great”, I mumbled. “Don’t worry this is an everyday thang, you’ll do fine”. Cambridge started off down the hall and I had just remembered. “Wait a minute, I’m thinking I might need some rounds, you know just in case”. Cambridge smiled and I followed her.
The neighborhood we drove into hardly seemed like a military housing area. This is what I visioned the South Central Projects to be like. Turning a corner Cambridge glanced in my direction. “So where you from?” she asked. “Cleveland”, I answered proudly. “Really, I lived there for 5 years before moving to Boston”. She pulled the car off to the side of the street and switched on the radio. I was again surprised by her choice in music. Singing along with the lyrics of “Streets is watching by Jay Z” she suddenly turned off the radio and pointed. “There’s our guy”. I tensed up as the African American male paused and headed in our direction. I have never bought or sold dope legally. The man approached the driver’s side door and kneeled down. “Was poppin my little chicken head?” The man was about in his 20’s and his stylish corn row hairstyle reminded me of myself. “ Ain’t no chicken heads around here, now get your broke butt in the back”. Cambridge’s whole persona changed in the blink of an eye. The man snickered and entered the vehicle quickly. The car was started and we began to roll out. “What you got for me?” Cambridge asked the man. “5 grams of X, how’s that for a night of sweaty hot doggy stylin?” Cambridge laughed loudly and pulled the car into a small half ass alley. She exited the car and slid into the back seat next to the man. Looking in my direction he squinted his eyes. “Who’s he?” he asked reaching into his pocket. “That’s my people’s, he’s from Cleveland, came down to do a little business”. At that moment I noticed a faint sound of a radio. Not your average radio but a police radio. All the noise went dead and the man paused, I just knew he had heard the same thing. I slowly reached to my side unsnapping my holster. The sound of the radio seemed to grow louder and the man reached for the door handle while I quickly hit the lock button. In a chain of events he shoved Cambridge’s head into the rear passenger window shattering it. I scrambled to reach for my weapon, but by that time the man had unlocked the door and started to run. I yanked my weapon from the holster and asked Cambridge if she was ok. Shaking her head yes, I exited the car and the chase was on. The man was quicker than I thought he was knocking down garbage cans and anything else he could to slow me down. Not today. I hurdled the obstacles with ease slowly catching up to him as he started to climb a chain link fence. Catching his clothes on the fence, I snatched the man by his shirt and threw him on the ground while simultaneously pointing my weapon at his head. “CID don’t make a move”, I yelled in love with the sound of my own voice. “Beautiful day isn’t it?” All my tension had been replaced by a surge of adrenaline and I felt like Ethan Hawke in “Training Day”. My first bust, I was on a roll.
We sat in the briefing room at approximately 2145 hrs. Special Agent Crowe stood in front of the room as everyone listened with the precision of a hawk. “If anything happens to go wrong or if anyone decides they want to bolt, we will have patrol standing by”. “Try to keep out of site until the deal is done, then we move in”. “Is everyone clear on what their mission is?” I glanced around the room as everyone nodded in approval. “Alright ladies and gentlemen let’s do some dirt”. I stood up halting Cambridge as she made her way towards the door. “Are you sure you’re ok?” Cambridge rubbed the back of her head and put her hand on my shoulder. “I’m fine”, she whispered. “I’ve been in worse situations”. With that she turned and walked off. I picked up my protective vest and followed behind her.
The time was now 2215 hrs and we sat in a well-hidden spot across from the suspect building. So far everything was going as projected. Special Agent Daniels was to give the signal when all the players were in place. The building’s windows were covered with black garbage bags, but I could see a small light emanating from the bottom. Every few seconds through the NVG’s I noticed someone pull back the covering and peer out. I removed the Motorola earpiece from my ear and picked up the sound of sirens in the distance. Out of nowhere flashing blue lights appeared and a transmission came over the radio. “All unassigned units do not approach the area of building 2905”. “I repeat do not approach the area of building 2905”. Now most people in the Army seem to do the opposite of what they are told. This was no different. Keeping my position I watched as a patrol conducted a traffic stop in front of the building we were to raid. They seemed to take forever. I counted 10 minutes before the stop was completed and the patrol sped off. Close call. Soon after Daniels had given the signal by flashing a red light on the West Side of the building. We moved in silence and picked up a 360-degree perimeter. Approaching the building from the south side was myself, Cambridge, Crowe and Pierce. Crowe rattled the door with a furious knock and announced himself. “CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS DIVISION”, he shouted with ease. “WE HAVE A SEARCH WARRANT”. We listened for a few seconds then proceeded to kick in the door. The standard government door was disconnected from the hinges with no problem and we entered locked and loaded. My instincts took over and I sprinted towards another open doorway quickly glancing in. “CLEAR”, I shouted while the rest moved up. Past the first doorway was another, which was closed. Crowe moved forward while I moved to the rear to take up security. He rattled the doorknob, which did not turn. “Stand back”, he shouted and kicked the door in. As quick as the door was opened there was a blast sending myself and Pierce tumbling backwards into the room before us. I quickly jumped to my feet focusing my vision as three masked men charged us. The smoke made it difficult to see and I yelled for Pierce to get down. I fired two shots violently throwing one of the men back into the room. Pierce sprang to his feet tackling the other. The third man came straight at me with a weapon drawn. He stopped in his tracks as I threw my hands in the air and abandoned my weapon. My whole life seemed to flash before my eyes while his weapon was aimed directly at my head. He paused for a second and pulled his mask up with one hand smiling, as his face was exposed. “Investigator Drankard”, he whispered. I had no idea how he knew my name. “Hope your SGLI is paid up”. The man pulled the hammer back and a shot rang out. I watched as blood dripped from the side of his head dropping him to his feet. On the contrasting side stood Cambridge. She had come to my rescue. I never thought Esprit De Corps existed until now. Retrieving my weapon we began to check on the rest of the team.
A few minutes went by and I finally located Crowe through the settling smoke. Crowe had not recovered from the explosion. Trying to lift his head he coughed up blood. I holstered my weapon and knelt side him. "Try not to speak”, I whispered to him asking Cambridge to call EMS. “Never thought I’d die this way”, he mumbled ignoring my request. “Your going to be fine”, I reassured him, knowing very well that he wasn’t. Crowe held my hand in a firm grip struggling to keep his eyes open. Managing to speak a few more words, he gripped my hand harder opening his eyes for the last time. Through a shaky voice he whispered “I’m scared”. Crowe’s body instantly went limp and his grip loosened. I slowly closed his eyes then stood up. “One fight”. This was the beginning of the end and only time would be able to tell the rest. Hell of a first day. Bad Guys 1, Good Guys 0.
There I stood once again in my class A uniform at another funeral. How many people had to die for this? In the middle of the ceremony I found myself thinking back to the night Crowe died. Furthermore I couldn’t shake the fact that someone knew my name. I’d really have to watch my back from now on. Later that day I approached Cambridge at the office who sat still a little teary eyed. “Are you ok?” I asked really concerned. “I’m fine”, she replied in a low voice. I slowly sat down at the desk on the opposite side of her. “Something’s been bugging me”, I whispered looking her in the eye. “One of the men at the bust knew my name”. “That’s odd”, Cambridge said standing up. “I want to find out how”. “One things for sure”, Cambridge spoke once again. “We have to get back to work”. With that Cambridge walked out of the office. I opened my desk drawer and pulled out a picture I had kept of Corporal Moore whispering to myself. “It’s not over”.
Around 2100 hrs I decided to hit the sack early. With all the things that were going on I really needed to rest my brain. Since I had been moved to CID the Army gave me money to secure an off post apartment. It was a small place but cozy about eight hundred dollars a month, right behind Pearlridge Mall, North of where I stayed at in the barracks. I had many connections in a short amount of time and had names and numbers of about 30 different dope dealers making sales on government property. When all was said and done I fell asleep around 2145.
Around 0100 hrs I was awakened by banging on my door. I reached for my backpack that held my weapon and briskly chambered a round. “Just a second”, I yelled throwing on some pants. Making my way to the door I slid the chain off and cracked the door open. “What is it?” I asked the man standing on the other side. It was Kuahilo one of my local contacts. “I need some stuff yeah”, he spoke in the typical Hawaiian jargon. I opened the door and quickly let him in. “Have a seat, I’ll be right back”. I headed to the bedroom and over to the window. Pulling back the curtain I peered outside noticing a car parked at the curb with it’s parking lights on. I retrieved what I came for and made my way back to the living room only to find Kuahilo gone. I called his name and received no answer. Opening the door I was greeted by tires squealing. “Damn”, I yelled out and slammed the door. Just then I located a note sitting on the sofa. “The next ceremony will be yours”. I crumpled the note up and sat cruelly on the sofa, pulling my weapon from my waist and laying it next to me. The caca was hitting the fan quick and it wasn’t falling. My brain was going into overload and next time? I decided there wasn’t going to be a next time if I could help it.
I made up my mind to go for a late night drive to Wahiwa. Creeping down Farrington Highway I glanced over at one of the local parks and spotted some locals hanging out drinking. I pulled in, parked and waited for a few minutes. To my consternation there stood Kuahilo in the median of the group laughing and joking. I picked up my weapon, tucked it into my pants and exited the car. Walking over to the group I approached Kuahilo while at the same time keeping my eyes on his friends. “Let me holla at you a minute dog”, I said staring him up and down. As Kuahilo started to walk I pulled my weapon and smacked him in the face with it dropping him to the ground. His friends quickly advanced on me and I pointed the weapon in their direction. “The next person that steps forward is gonna feel somthin and I don’t mean grits ”. The four men stopped in their tracks and quickly turned around running in opposite directions. I knelt down next to Kuahilo and pressed the barrel against his bloody face. “Don’t you ever come to my place of residence and threaten me, do you understand?” Kuahilo nodded spitting out a few broken teeth. I stood up and tucked the gun away. “Never”, I shouted kicking him in the face and walking away. I sat down in the car and shortly after was on my way back home. Not meaning to be sadistic but I actually felt guiltless watching Kuahilo in pain. I never liked him anyway or anyone he hung out with. Score: Bad guys 1, Good guys 1. The bases were loaded with 8 innings to go in a double header and I just hit a homerun.
I arrived at my office around 1000 hrs and was greeted by Cambridge at the front door. I was glad to see that she was finally cheering up. "What’s on the agenda today”, I asked holding the door open for her. “Just a few buys”, she replied walking in front of me. “Your just full of surprises”, I mumbled as she turned around and stopped. “Come here”, she said sounding quite seductive. I made my way over to her only to have her push me against the wall and lay a deep French kiss on me. She stepped back and began to walk away. “What was that for?” I asked speeding up my pace behind her. By the time I caught up to her Cambridge was just taking a seat at her desk. “What was that for?” I asked again. “For saving my life, and there’s more where that came from”. “I’m beginning to like working here”, I said sitting down and leaning back in my chair. At that moment the phone rang and Cambridge answered. I watched as she said her yes and no’s, throwing a couple of “oh really’s” in there. Soon after she hung up. “What was that?, I asked. “There was a car found out at the mout site, with a dead Hawaiian male”. “That’s not our purview”, I stated. “No but drugs are, and you can guess what was in the car”. “I give up, let’s go”.
When we finally arrived at the scene it was surrounded by Military Police patrols, EMS and MPI. We flashed our creds when a patrolman confronted us. Arriving at the vehicle I gave it the once over and was approached by a Military Police Investigator. “The name’s Novelli”, he said trying too hard to sound serious. “I’m Investigator Drankard and this is my partner Investigator Cambridge, we’re from DST”. “Ah ok, well let me give you the scoop”, Novelli replied. “The vehicle and body was discovered at 0900 hrs this morning by a unit using the M.O.U.T site”. “They didn’t touch anything and called the MP station right away”. “Myself and Investigator Howard immediately called Special Agent Hernandez after arriving on scene”. “Oh so Hernandez is here”, I asked disgustedly. “And the dope?” Cambridge asked. Novelli pointed in Hernandez’s direction. “He found it you have to ask him”. I thanked Investigator Novelli and made my way towards Sherlock. “Morning sir”, I said to Hernandez as he stepped away from a soldier making a statement. “Well if it isn’t my two dope dealers”. “Sir any ID on the victim?” I asked getting straight to the point. “Yeah let’s see”, he stated flipping open a notebook. “Name’s Kuahilo Ulani, a brudah from the North Shore according to his DL”. My eyes opened wide. “Took a bullet at point blank range to the head, not to mention 10 shots in the chest”. “Did anyone hear or see anything”, Cambridge interrupted. “No one’s going to call the MP station, this is a M.O.U.T site ya know”. “Yeah your right”, I replied. “Let’s go take a look”.
The murder scene was very gruesome. Kuahilo’s brain matter was splattered on the passenger and front window. His body lay slumped over the steering wheel dripping blood onto the floorboard. At his feet was approximately 10 ounces of crystal meth. “Isn’t that your boy?” Cambridge asked. “Yeah it is”, I said quietly. “Or was”.
“Let’s gather this up and get out of here”.
After carefully picking up the dope we headed back to our vehicle and sat for a few minutes. “What do you think that was about”, Cambridge asked me. I thought for a second and momentarily had flashbacks of my encounter with Kuahilo the previous night. “I have no clue”, I replied. Just as we began to pull off Cambridge’s cell phone chimed. She quickly answered. Approximately 2 minutes had passed and she hung up looking in my direction. “We have a suspect already, he was pulled over last night for speeding and ended up having traffic warrants”. “HPD Kalihi has him in custody”. I nodded in support. “Well let’s go pay him a visit”, I stated.
We drove to the Honolulu Police Kalihi station without basically saying a word. Someone had been on Kuahilo’s ass way before I had been and it finally caught up to him. We pulled into the patrol parking area and exited the car. Saying our hellos to the fellow officers that passed we entered through the front doors and straight up to the Officer at the window. I pulled my credentials from my back pocket and stuck them to the window. The officer nodded and spoke through a microphone attached to the window. “How may I help you?”, he said with a Hawaiian intonation. “We’re Investigators Cambridge and Drankard from the Criminal Investigations Division Drug Suppression Team and we believe you have an individual in custody for traffic warrants, we would like to speak to him in reference to a homicide at Schofield Barracks”. I put all the information in one breath staring directly into the officer’s eyes. “Do you know their name sir?”. “Umm yeah let’s see”, I replied unfolding a piece of paper. Cambridge snatched the paper from my hand and handed it to the officer. “Oh yes”, the officer spoke louder into the mic. “Mr. Carlos Perez, he’s in a cell let me buzz you in”. There was a quick buzz and we stepped to the right and through the door making sure it was closed securely behind us. We made our way down a long hallway and past the cell area checkpoint. Slowly but surely we had arrived at our destination after checking in our weapons. I stepped in front of cell number 6 and peered in. “Mr. Perez I presume?”. The man in the cell rose to his feet and stood about 5 feet from the bars. “Who the fuck are you?”, he said in a scanty tough guy act. “My name is Carter and this is Harris, we’re Military Police investigators”. “And?”, Mr. Perez questioned still trying to maintain his statue. “We wanted to question you about a murder”. “I don’t know anything about a murder”, Perez added. “Well why was your driver’s license found at the scene of a murder then?”. I had Perez in a corner now, he had to talk. He turned his back and stared at the wall. “I don’t know what you’re talking about”, Perez halfway shouted then turned around and came closer to the bars. “I have nothing else to say”. I became repressed, reached through the bars and grabbed Perez by his shirt. “Listen, there’s something you know and if I don’t get what I want I will see to it that you spend the next 30 years in prison as a human blow up doll”. I released my hold as Cambridge watched in awe. “Alright, Alright”, Perez yelled. “Listen up”.
By the time we had finished the conversation myself and Cambridge learned that Perez had been a dupe. According to his fib he was paid to take Kuahilo out but neglected to give us a name. Here I was a drug investigator, investigating a homicide. It obsessed our minds of who this murder for hire could be. All things must come to a finale, but how was it going to turn out? I began to play every synopsis possible out in my mind, but could not come to a realization. At least for now.
So far our investigation was going nowhere. Every single lead we had turned out to be a dead end. I hated Kuahilo as much as the next person but not enough to murder him. Today Cambridge and myself decided to pay a visit to downtown Waikiki to make a couple of buys and head on back. We started out on Kalekuaua Ave and every deal we made was despondent to say a member of the U.S. Armed forces. Marines, Army, Navy, and Airforce. It really sickened me. We made our final buy and ended up in a club called “The Wave” just next to the small military park “Fort Derussy”. As we entered our minds suddenly shifted away from our work and we decided to dance with each other. This was the first time I had seen Cambridge actually having a good time. She was a good dancer as the opposite of myself I stood and watched her shake it all over the dance floor. After a few minutes she began to turn me on. I inched onto the dance floor and gripped her hips getting in momentum with her. She immediately spun around and started kissing me. I gripped her harder and there we stood in the center of the dance floor about to engage in a sexual encounter. Unfortunately bad luck stepped in when I felt a pistol at my back and the motion for me to follow. We discreetly exited the club and I was shoved into an alleyway. For the first time I turned and faced the man behind the gun. It had been dark in the club and I really didn’t get a chance to see his face, the same with the alleyway. My peripheral optics had found Cambridge entering the alleyway slowly as the man took one step towards me. I should have seen it coming. The man swung hitting me in the stomach and dropping me to my knees. I subsequently fell over in pain trying locate my weapon, this time I was too slow. The man kneeled down and pressed the gun to my head. “A word to the wise, stay the hell off of this case”. I suddenly heard a gunshot and Cambridge call out. The bullet ricocheted off of the alley wall and the man disappeared into the darkness from which he came. I struggled to my feet and fell back over from the discomfort. “Are you ok?”, Cambridge asked watching me writhe in pain. “I’ve been better, help me up”. Once I was up on my feet I glanced back into the opposite side of the alley to make sure no one else was approaching. “Who was that?”, Cambridge asked. “I don’t know, but It’s time find out”. “Let’s go”.
Went over the logic why someone would want to murder Kuahilo. Revenge? Random act? Or just plain crazed? After a few minutes of thinking Cambridge interrupted me. “What’s going on?”, she asked plopping down in the chair in front of her desk. “Still going over these photos trying to find something to go on”, I replied switching photos. “Well I wish you luck, I’m going to run and get something to eat”. With that Cambridge left the office with me to mull over the photos. Just as I stood up and dropped the photos, the phone rang, I answered and before I got my customary greeting out I was stopped. “Investigator Drankard?” “Yes”, I stated switching on my phone recorder. “Stop the recorder”. I quickly switched off the recorder. “It’s off”, I replied. “Unfortunate for Kuahilo huh?” “Let’s make this conversation short, Hanama Bay 2300 hrs don’t be late”. The phone hung up and without a doubt I was perplexed again. Another mysterious meeting with Mr. X. I promise that I won’t be late.
I phoned Cambridge on her cell and filled her in on the phone call. She reluctantly agreed to go along as my back up. I wanted to find out who this mysterious person was and quickly before things really got out of hand.
The time neared for me to be at the announced location. Cambridge and myself proceeded in different vehicles so that she could keep an eye on things. After making it up the foothill leading to Hanama Bay, I paused at the entrance and shut off the engine. I radioed to Cambridge to make sure she was in place. After receiving the go I proceeded into the bay area where sat two black crown victoria’s. As I neared the first car I was approached by the same man who approached me that day at Waikiki. “Investigator Drankard?” “Yeah, that’s me, what do you want?” “What an exciting life you lead”, the man spoke in a near whisper. “Now let’s get down to business”. “You got the money?” “That depends”, I whispered back. “First things first, I know that was your handy work back at Schofield, so tell me,why?” The man looked back at the other vehicle. “Things had to be taken care of, and that’s all you need to know”. I tossed the briefcase I was carrying into the red dirt next to the man’s feet. “Good boy”, the man replied retrieving the case. He stood up and motioned for his partner to come forward. Another individual dressed in the same style approached me and handed me a gym bag. I unzipped it and took a glimpse inside.
At the same moment as Cambridge sat at her surveillance point, she was approached by a Honolulu Police patrol. The officer tapped on her door as she peered through a set of binos.
I zipped up the bag and looked back up at the man who had by now noticed the patrol further up the hill. “It’s a set up”, he yelled and made a dash for his car. I instantaneously pulled out my weapon and began firing at the man as he ran away. He quickly made it to the car and began to drive towards me. Just as he neared my location I leapt out of the way and began running behind the car towards the top of the hill. After seeing the Crown Victoria the Police Officer drew his weapon and ordered the vehicle to halt. Unable to get out of the way in time he was pinned between his patrol car as the vehicle lost control. My pace slowed down as I caught sight of Cambridge coming down the hill. She stopped beside me and yelled for me to get in. By that time the Crown Victoria and backed up and began it’s descent down the hill. “Go after him”, I yelled to Cambridge as I entered the vehicle. The second vehicle quickly left the scene after sight of the situation. After I was settled in we took trail after the fleeing car. It took a few minutes for us to catch up as the vehicle led us on a chase towards downtown Waikiki. We dodged other cars and people walking the streets in the late night hours. Finally I got up enough fortitude to fire a few shots at the car as we neared the Hale Koa hotel. One shot miraculously struck the right rear tire sending the vehicle into a spin causing it to crash into a tree adjacent to the hotel. A flame erupted at the front of the car and one of the men bailed out. Cambridge slammed on the brakes while I exited the vehicle before it even came to a full stop. The man led me on a chase up the hotel steps and down a hallway. While passing by the hotel desk I shouted for the clerk to notify HPD. To my luck the man had run into a dead end. I stopped in my tracks and positioned my weapon on the man’s head. “Give it up”, I yelled. He spun around a fired a blast from a sawed off shotgun hidden under his jacket. Shotgun pellets grazed my leg sending me tumbling to the floor. At that very moment I heard numerous footsteps and a resounding thunderous voice. “HONOLULU POLICE! DROP YOUR WEAPON AND PUT YOUR HANDS ON YOUR HEAD”. The man stood still, pointing the shotgun in the officer’s direction just laughing. Everything seemed to move in slow motion as the officers opened fire knocking the man back into the wall. I watched as he slowly slid down the wall leaving a large path of blood behind him.
The officers inched forward still in the offensive position. “Check him”, one of them shouted pointing in my direction. I could hear the sound of EMS approaching and after a few seconds I blacked out.
I awoke in Queen’s medical center in your typical hospital bed. Cambridge sat next to me and clutched my hand when she noticed that I was awake. “Are you feeling better?” she asked with a real look of concern. I winced in pain as I sat up. “Considering the other stuff I’ve been through I’m fine”. “I have a lot to tell you, but you need your rest first of all”, Cambridge spoke again. “Why can’t you tell me now?” I asked. “This isn’t the place and I think we’re being watched, so get some sleep and I’ll bring you up to speed later”. I inched back down and closed my eyes. “Alright you win”. Cambridge gently kissed me on my forehead and quietly left the room. Soon after I fell into a deep sleep.
While sleeping I dreamed of Corporal Moore. I constantly saw flashes of her face and flashes of her holding a gun to her head. Over and over the moment she pulled the trigger played continuously also. I saw myself trying to speak to her, but no words came out. Then everything seemed to stop and I found myself standing in front of her. “Help me”, she whispered and turned the gun on me. I woke in a cold sweat just as she pulled the trigger. Glancing around the room I grabbed a remote control next to the bed and switched on the TV Coincidentally the news was on and a report on my showdown was being broadcast.
Typically they mixed the facts with a little fiction. At that moment I became frustrated and switched off the television.
Weeks had gone by without any big events. Just you’re normal operations. The information that Cambridge had to relay to me after the hotel occurrence gave me a big break in my situation. On the body of my shooter HPD had found the cell phone number of Special Agent Hernandez. When he was questioned of course he had a story in place. His story was that the shooter was a source of information for his on going investigation into Kuahilo’s murder. I didn’t buy this one bit. After Hernandez began to act bizarre, Cambridge and myself decided to tail his every action. Hernandez was scheduled to go to the Big Island to meet with a source. Along we went whether he liked it or not.
Hernandez’ first stop was at Burger King where he met with a local. It was hard to make out the conversation, but he really became shady when Hernandez slipped the local an envelope under the table. He then exited the restaurant without saying another word to the man. His next stop was the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel. We sat and watched long enough for him to enter the building and give him enough time to check in. As we left our vehicle Cambridge stopped and looked me dead in the eye. “We have to make sure we are absolutely correct on any actions that we take, or we’re dead”. “My life has been on the line ever since I started to work in CID, so save it”, I replied very angrily. “Let’s just see what we can find out and get back to Honolulu”, I finally ended our brief conversation. Making our way into the hotel entrance we approached the clerk at the desk and flashed our creds. “We want to know if a Mark Hernandez checked into here earlier”, Cambridge asked the clerk. The clerk motioned for us to hold on while she checked. After a few minutes she looked up and handed me a slip of paper. I glanced down at the paper and nodded in approval. Room 311 was where Hernandez was staying. Unfortunately he was in the room and we decided to wait until he left to place a wiretap in it. We secured a room down the hall from Hernandez to watch out for him. What seemed like hours but was only 45 minutes Hernandez finally left his room. This was our sign to move in. Making sure he was gone we slipped into the room after tinkering with the lock and placed a bug on the lampshade. Cambridge started to make her self-comfortable by opening the sliding glass doors to the balcony and taking in the breath-taking prospect of the Big Island. I looked in her direction disgustedly. “Will you get back in here, we got work to do”, I whispered. As Cambridge walked back into the room she cautiously closed the doors. “You know when this is all over with, we need to take some leave and vacation up here”. “Yeah well keep that thought in mind, do you see anything we can get any information from?” “No do you?” I picked up the Hawaii phone book and slammed it down. “Dammit, we’re at a dead end here”, I yelled. Cambridge motioned me to keep my voice down. “Let’s just get back to our room and wait for Hernandez to come back”, she said after a moment of silence.
I was awakened to the dull shallow voice of Hernandez. I immediately switched on the recorder and nudged Cambridge. We focused in on the dialogue.
“I lost one of my men by way of HPD and one of my investigators”. Hernandez sounded upset. Another voice interrupted. “Just say the word and he’s taken care of”. “Not just yet”. “He’s doing a little dirty work for me”. I glanced at Cambridge and back at the recorder. “We can’t keep dwelling on this”, the man continued. “This man is making business bad for us, can’t you see that?” “Listen I can’t keep holding on to 2 keys of blow”. “We need to get it off our hands and onto the streets”. I could tell Hernandez had stood up by the way his voice changed. “Look I’ll take it back with me and get rid of it”. “How the hell are you going to do that, your main mans’ dead”. “I have my ways”, Hernandez answered. “You just keep that piss ant off my back and things will be fine”. Everything suddenly went quiet and I heard a click. The man stood up and shoved a Nine millimeter pistol in Hernandez’ face. “It better, or I will deliver your body to the Cartel myself, Comprende?”. “You have my word”, Hernandez’ voice sounded unsteady. With that I heard a door close and foot steps down the hall. “Bingo”, I said switching off the recorder. Cambridge sat at the end of the bed as if bewildered. “I’m going to ask you something, and I want the truth”, she stated. “I know what you’re getting at Cambridge”, I answered back. “After Moore’s suicide I was recruited to sell Meth for someone”. “Who I don’t know, the meetings and locations were all set up by them”. “Every time we met their faces were concealed”. “I had to do it, they threatened to send me to Leavenworth for fraudulent enlistment”. Cambridge seemed more confused. “Look there’s some things in my past that I’m not too proud of, and let’s just say that I’m not a saint”. “But I’m here now and trying to do the right thing, are you with me on this?”. Cambridge stood up and turned her back. “Ever since I joined CID things have been lies, all lies”. “I’m tired of the lies”. She paused for a second and started to cry. I held Cambridge in an embrace as tears flowed from her eyes. “I’m part of that lie also and I’m going to make sure I do everything in my power to make it right”. Cambridge turned and looked me in the face. “What ever you need, I’m there for you”.
After our trip to the Big Island Cambridge seemed to grow quiet. I made sure I kept tabs on Hernandez’ every move. Everything he did I had documented either on video or cassette tape. I figured if I got into a bind these items would come in handy. I had enough evidence to put Hernandez away for 10 years, but this wasn’t the right time to bring everything out. I wanted enough evidence to imprison Hernandez for life. In my apartment I constructed a makeshift safe where I kept the videos and cassettes. After I sat down and started a quick meal the cell phone I been given months ago started to chime. “Hello”, I answered with a mouth full of noodles. “Mr. Drankard”, the voice on the other end sounded all too familiar. “A new shipment has arrived and is ready for distribution”. “There’s a green Ford F-150 on the top parking structure of Pearlridge Mall, you’ll find the keys on the rear right tire.” “I want you take the truck and follow the directions in the glove box, understood?”. “Yeah I understand, I’m on the way”. “One more thing, once you make the drop bring the truck back to where you found it and I’ll meet you there”. “I got it”. I hung up the phone and smiled. “Yeah I’ll play their dirty little games, but not for too long”, I said to myself. Just as everything had been laid out I followed them to a tee and ended up back on the top parking structure. There I met Mr. X and handed over the money. “Good job”, the disguised man bellowed. He opened up the briefcase and tossed me a batch of bills. “That’s for your trouble”. I immediately took the money and threw it back at the man. “I don’t want your blood money”. I could tell the man was insulted. “Here’s a little advice for you, don’t get too brave troop, your starting to get in over your head”. “And you have a gun pointed at yours”, the voice of Cambridge never sounded so melodious. “Don’t turn around, drop the case and slowly put your hands on top of your head”. I let out a little chuckle eyeing Cambridge standing behind the man. The man did as Cambridge said. After he placed his hands on top of his head I stepped in closer and began to remove off his mask when a series of events unfolded, which ended with the man jumping from one level of the parking structure to the next. Cambridge had managed to fire a hail of bullets but missed. “How many more jacked up situations are we going to get into?”, I yelled. “Well we got his money he’ll be back”, Cambridge added.
Days had gone by without a phone call. Then in the sterile of the night I received a call from Cambridge. It wasn’t the expected “Hi how are you” call. It seemed to be recorded and all I could make out was the voice of Cambridge yelling for help. I heard water in the background, which meant that she was somewhere neighboring the ocean. My first thought was the North Shore. I scooped up my weapon, vest and headed for the door. I stopped to think for a second and retrieved the briefcase of money figuring that I would need it. I drove like a mad man to the North Shore and when I arrived I located Cambridge’s cell phone next to a palm tree. I also noticed some blood on the tree. Taking no chances I drew my implement of war and yelled her name. No answer. Taking it step by step I inched my way along the picnic tables and closed surfboard shops. A muffled whimper stopped me in my tracks and I scanned the area. I finally located Cambridge, she was tied to a palm tree and something was strapped to her upper body. I moved in closer only to have the masked man step out into my sight. I aimed my weapon on him. “Let her go”, I said in a steadfast voice. “I don’t think so”, the man replied. “I know who you are Hernandez, just give it up”. The man yanked the guise from his face and raised an apparatus that he clutched in his hand. “Unless your EOD you don’t have a chance”. “Listen HPD will be here any minute, it’s best you stop while your ahead”, I yelled once more. Hernandez laughed. “Negotiation 101, your good but not that good”. “Your little girlfriend here has 2 pounds of C-4 strapped to her, I want my money and the tapes you’ve been keeping on me”. I began to question how he knew about the tapes. I could still see Cambridge struggling against the tree. I stepped a little closer. “Take another step and she becomes a mound of flesh”. “Alright here’s your money”. I tossed the attaché case I had been carrying at his feet. Hernandez grabbed the case and turned back in my direction. “So you do know when to quit”. “Alright I kept up my end of the deal, now let her go”. “A deals a deal”, Hernandez laughed and began to unbind Cambridge. She removed the tape from her mouth and dropped the explosive device to the ground. I lowered my weapon as Cambridge walked towards me. To my shock she pulled a gun from her waistline and aimed it at me. “Should I kill him now or later”, she said looking back at Hernandez. “You traitor”, I yelled to Cambridge. Hernandez moved in a little closer. “I got a better idea”, he said raising a weapon and firing a round into Cambridge’s posterior. “NO”, I yelled and caught her as she fell. “Don’t need any witnesses”, Hernandez replied. “I’m sorry”, Cambridge said in her last words and died in my arms. I gently laid her down and instantly began to chase Hernandez. I took a few pot shots as he ran between trees and other obstacles. The chase led us into a building and up towards the roof of it. Hernandez stopped near the edge with no place to go. He faced my direction while I hid along side of the rooftop entrance. “There’s no where to go”, I yelled reloading my weapon. Hernandez took a shot at my position striking the wall. He pulled the trigger again and this time HE was out of ammo. I slid out from my cover and approached him with my weapon drawn. Hernandez looked over the edge and threw down the weapon. “Never thought it would end this way”, he whispered. “Alright, hands on your head you know the drill”. Hernandez did precisely as I said without a word. I began to place the cuffs on him when he began to struggle making me drop my weapon off the roof. We fell to the rooftop floor and traded punches. I managed to break free from his hold and landed a blow to his stomach. He stumbled back towards the edge as I moved in. Speaking through a bloody visage Hernandez pulled out a knife. “You know this is the type of situation that earns you medals”. As I moved in closer Hernandez began to charge me with the knife, remembering a move I learned in unarmed self defense I grasped the arm holding the blade and flipped Hernandez over my back and off the roof top. His screaming cut through the darkness like butter and his body slammed to the ground below sending people screaming and running in different directions. I stepped to the edge of the building, picked up the briefcase and peered over the edge. “No that’s the type of stuff that earns you medals”. I Turned around and began my descent to the first floor. Stepping out of the entrance of the building I was greeted by about 15 Police Officers with they’re weapons drawn on me. I dropped the briefcase and threw my hands in the air. “CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS DIVISION”, I shouted at the top of my lungs.
After all the media hype and questions I was asked, things were finally starting to calm down. Even though Cambridge betrayed me I worked up enough bravado to visit her burial sight. She had been laid to rest at one of the local cemeteries that had been mentioned in her will. I dressed in my Class A uniform to say my last goodbye.
After arriving I easily located her tombstone and arranged a rose on top of it.
“Why does everyone I care for have to die”, I whispered. I bent down and repositioned the rose. “This is the last time I’ll be speaking to you, I have orders to Fort Hood, Texas”. “Guess I’ll stir up a little trouble there”. Thunder rumbled in the overhead space followed by a flash of lightning. I looked up as it started to storm. “You might be gone, but not forgotten”. I stood up as rain poured down my face and wiped the water away. Arriving at the position of attention I saluted impervious to the water and tears dripping down my hand. Dropping the salute I walked off into the storm remembering the motto “One Team, One Fight”…
Honolulu Advertiser Article:
A drug ring was thwarted in the late hours of January 8, 1996. The bust resulted in the death of three U.S. Army Drug agents. The U.S. Army will not report on the details at this time and the names of the Investigators involved are not being released. The ring, which apparently had ties to the Mexican Cartel, took an estimated fifty pounds of cocaine and diversified other drugs of the streets of Honolulu.
I closed my scrapbook and leaned back in my seat. It had been a phenomenal thirty days of leave. I was really looking forward to my next duty station. Fort Hood, Texas the largest Army base in the United States. What a thrill. It would be another hour or so till my plane landed. Before even leaving Honolulu I spoke to a Lieutenant Colonel Baker who had taken his time to welcome me to his battalion. He had heard of my impeccable job there and wouldn't you know it, he placed me in CID. Once again I would be back in the action. Enough talk, I thought I’d take a little nap.
The wheels striking the landing strip jarred me from my siesta. I covertly wiped the drool from my mouth and started to gather up my things. Once we made it to the gate I was the first one off the plane. Killeen airport was the place. Once I made it inside I located my sponsor who was holding up a sign with my name on it. I strolled over and shook his hand. “Name’s Specialist Davenport welcome to beautiful Killeen Texas”, I could tell he was being sarcastic. “You’ll be doing some on the job training with me for the next 30 days, and considering your adventure in the islands I think you’ll do fine”. I pointed to the baggage claim area and began to walk. “That wasn’t an adventure”, I finally spoke up. “That was a God dammed nightmare”. Davenport laughed as he followed me. After retrieving my bags and arriving at the parking lot Davenport stopped as he stuck his key in the lock. “Look this is nothing like Honolulu, we got drive-by’s here and all types of ill shit”. He popped the locks and opened the doors. “Well that’s what I’m here for”, I replied throwing my bags inside.
It was a brief ride to the base. Even though springtime was just around the corner the atmosphere was already hot and dry. This was a big change for me since my time in Hawaii.
I thanked Davenport for the ride after arriving at the processing building. Once inside I learned that I would have to in-process in uniform. That was another big change for me.
After a couple of days of in processing and getting used to the base I arrived at the CID office prepared for work. I stopped at the front doors, gave myself the once over and stepped inside. The building was a lot nicer that the one in Hawaii. Everything seemed modernistic. I was greeted by the clerk at the front desk. “Yes ma'am I’m looking for an Investigator Davenport, this is my first day for work”. The woman began to speak just as Davenport opened a security door. “Right this way big baller”. I laughed and followed him in. Even the office was nice and clean. Davenport sat down and began to spin in circles. “We stay very busy around here”, he shouted seemingly enjoying himself. “Yeah I could see that, well what’s the skinny on this place, you have any investigations going on right now?”, I wanted to get right to work. “Nothing right now, just a few car thefts”.
After a few hours of going over the way Fort Hood CID did things, we received a call from the MP station. Immediately after scribbling down a few notes Davenport hung up the phone. “Let’s roll”, he stated picking up a quick step.
We made our way down Battalion Ave and into Warrior Village. Davenport had explained to me along the way that there had been a drive by shooting leaving one 15 year old dead. This was something I had never dealt with, so I decided I would just take notes. Everyone that you can possibly imagine was on scene. One thing I had learned was the quicker you get the facts the better lead you have on the suspect. We headed straight to the grieving mother who sat crimson eyed in a lawn chair by the front door. Davenport flashed his creds and knelt down beside her. "Ma’am my name is Investigator Davenport and this is my partner Investigator Drankard”. “We’re here to ask you a few questions pertaining to your son’s death”. The mother stared up at Davenport as he rose to a standing position again. “ I’m Mrs. Watkins and I’m sorry, please I really can’t do this right now”, she replied through a shaky voice. “Ma’am please understand that the sooner we get this information the sooner we catch your son’s murderer”. I looked back off into the yard and caught sight of the young boy’s father approaching. I took it upon myself to leave Davenport and confront the father. He knelt next to his son’s covered body and began bawling. I really didn’t want to disturb him but this was my job. “Sgt Watkins”, I said in an authoritative voice. He acted as if I wasn’t there, I could understand. Again I called his name and he looked up at me. “No fucking questions get the hell away from me”. I didn’t want to enrage him any further so I decided to join Davenport again.
After a few hours on scene we decided we had all the intelligence that we were going to obtain at that point. The 45 caliber shell casings that were found had been gathered and were already on its way to the FBI lab. After arriving back at the office we decided to go over the case step by step. “Ok”, Davenport said after plopping down in his chair. “We got a dead kid and the only description that we have on the vehicle is that it was brown and big”. “Maybe we should run a history on the kid see if he’s been in any trouble with anyone in the past”, I suggested. “Yeah good idea”, replied Davenport. “Your first day and your already coming up with good shit”. “You do that and I’ll make a few calls to some of the kids’ friends”. “I’m on it”, I said once again. Was I ever, first day and on another roll.
March 21, 1996
Today seemed to be dragging. It hadn’t rained in a while according to Davenport until I showed up. I guess I brought that with me I told him. It seemed that we would have a break in the case after speaking to one of little Sharrod Watkins’ friends. Christopher Gonzalez was another 15 year old who went to school with Sharrod. We left the office around 3:30pm over to Commanche IIIB housing just as Christopher got out of school. We waited at his house until his bus arrived. Christopher was big for his age and he at once recognized us. “Hello Chris”, I gave him a friendly CID welcome. “What have you got for us?”, Davenport asked getting to the point. “Well”, Chris started to say. “I didn’t want to tell you on the phone, I seen Enemy Of The State”. Davenport and myself turned to each other and back at Chris. “The only thing I could really tell you about Sharrod was that his father beat his ass just about everyday”. “And how do you know this?”, I asked. “When I noticed Sharrod’s injuries he kept telling me that he had gotten into a few fights, but if you knew him he wasn’t the fighting type”. “Ok keep going”, Davenport relayed flipping a notebook page. “Well he called me in the middle of the night a while back because his father had beaten him really bad and he needed a place to go”. “Why didn’t he call the MP’s”, I interrupted. “You guys are CID and you don’t know that his father is an MP”, It seemed Chris tried to belittle us. “I guess he figured that they would cover up for him if he did”, Chris continued. “We already checked his records and it says that he’s a 71 Lima, a paper pusher”, Davenport grumbled. “Yeah his dad got busted for a DWI a few months back and they gave him a different job”, Chris instantaneously answered. “And what happened after Sharrod called you”, I asked. “Well after that things calmed down and I never heard about it again”. “Well thank you for your time Chris, if we have anymore questions we’ll give you a call”. Davenport shoved the little notebook in his pocket and started to step away. Chris put out his hand as if looking for a handout. I reached into my pocket handing him a five-dollar bill. “It’s been a pleasure gentlemen”, Chris yelled as we walked away.
After hitting the main road again I informed Davenport of a thought that had popped into my mind. I wanted to put observation on Sgt. Watkins to check him out for the time being. This whole predicament seemed kind of dubious from the start. Davenport’s beeper started to go off and we pulled into the Warrior way shopette to make use of the pay phone. After a few minutes he hopped back into the car with notebook in hand. “Good news, the weapon used was a 45 stolen from an off post residence”. “We got an address or a name?”, I asked. “Got it right here”, Davenport answered waving his notebook. “Well let’s go”.
We exited the east gate and headed straight down Rancier to a diminutive apartment structure next to a Taco Bell. “Apt B-5, Mr. Steven Porter”, Davenport said looking up the stairs. We made our way up and knocked on the door. A few seconds later a white male in his late 30’s answered. He had on a blue mechanics uniform and was covered with oil. “Can I help you gentleman”. We flashed our creds and identified ourselves as customary. “May we come in?”, I asked. “Sure right this way”, the man answered. We stepped inside and went directly to the questioning. “Mr. Porter we come to understand that a weapon of your has been stolen”, I said. “Yeah along with my DVD player, VCR, and bunch of other shit, I tell you these fucking kids now a-days”. “Well it seems that your weapon has been used in a homicide of a 15 year old boy on Fort Hood”. “I read it in the paper, but holy shit my gun are you sure?”. “We don’t make mistakes Mr. Porter”, Davenport replied. “I feel bad knowing that something I bought killed someone”. “Mr. Porter don’t blame yourself, I’m pretty sure if it wasn’t your gun, then they would have done it with someone else’s”. “I understand but it’s the thought”. “Well how can I help?”. “We just have a couple of questions then we’ll be out of your way”, I replied.
By the time we finished up it was approaching 2000 hrs and time for me to get some shut-eye. One thing about working this duty was that you get done when you get done. So much for a 9 to 5. I arrived at my apartment in Harker Heights around 2100 hrs and just as I neared the door I heard my phone ringing. I rushed to get the key in but by the time I entered the phone stopped ringing. I clicked on the answering machine after noticing one message waiting, it was Davenport informing me that a MPI surveillance team was keeping tabs on Sgt. Watkins starting tonight. I hit the stop button and picked up the phone. I thought I’d order a pizza.
The next morning we met with Investigator Johnson from the MPI surveillance team. He informed us that Sgt. Watkins had taken emergency leave but was limited to the local area by his unit commander in case he needed to be questioned again. That was a plus on our side. We thanked Johnson for the good work and headed out for breakfast.
Around 1300 hrs we received a call from Chief Murray that there had been a car fire out in the training area. He believed it to be insurance fraud and wanted us to check it out. Heading out we drove down Turkey Run Road and located the MP patrols and fire engines. The fire had already been extinguished and everyone stood around as if in narcosis. When we finally rolled up on the enclosure we caught a glimpse at what everyone was looking at. Inside the car there lay a charred human corpse. I had never smelled burnt human flesh before and it made me almost puke. The fire had originated inside the vehicle which left the outside undiminished. What’s worse the make and model of the vehicle was a brown 1989 Ford Lincoln Continental. “A big brown car”, I could hear Davenport whisper to himself. We jotted down the license plate number and proceeded to check the charred body. I appropriated a bio mask from EMS before joining Davenport. Looking at the body I could tell that the person was about five feet eight inches tall. It was lying across the seat both arms and legs tied together. I backed from the car and turned to Davenport. “Ladies and gents we have a homicide”. “And by the looks of it this person was shot in the head then burned”. “How do you know”, I asked not looking at the body any longer. “Because there’s a fucking hole in his head the size of Texas”, was his response. “We’ve got to get dentals on this”, Davenport went on yanking off his latex gloves. “Just fucking great”, I cried. “What the hell is going on?”. “Welcome to Fort Hood”, Davenport yelled throwing his hands in the air. “I’m going to go get a 10-28 I’ll be right back”, I replied walking away. Arriving at the car I located the radio hand mic and relayed to the MP station that I needed a license plate check on the vehicle. Receiving the info I returned to Davenport and handed him a slip of paper. “Ronald Ellis, says here he’s from Houston and that he’s six feet tall, Mr. Kruger here is about five eight”. “Maybe the cars’ stolen”, I suggested. “Maybe so”, Davenport exclaimed. “Maybe so”.
Later that night Davenport and myself put out some information at guard mount brief. Since all the lawless confusion on Fort Hood the Provost Marshal decided to set up a roving contraband checkpoint. The first checkpoint was at the famous east gate. Everything seemed to go smooth for a while until we got called over to a vehicle where a firearm was discovered. We approached the vehicle and ascertained from the MP the whereabouts of the owner. He pointed to “Because there’s a fucking hole in his head the size of Texas”, was his response. “We’ve got to get dentals on this”, Davenport went on yanking off his latex gloves. “Just fucking great”, I cried. “What the hell is going on?”. “Welcome to Fort Hood”, Davenport yelled throwing his hands in the air. “I’m going to go get a 10-28 I’ll be right back”, I replied walking away. Arriving at the car I located the radio hand mic and relayed to the MP station that I needed a license plate check on the vehicle. Receiving the info I returned to Davenport and handed him a slip of paper. “Ronald Ellis, says here he’s from Houston and that he’s six feet tall, Mr. Kruger here is about five eight”. “Maybe the cars’ stolen”, I suggested. “Maybe so”, Davenport exclaimed. “Maybe so”.
Later that night Davenport and myself put out some information at guard mount brief. Since all the lawless confusion on Fort Hood the Provost Marshal decided to set up a roving contraband checkpoint. The first checkpoint was at the famous east gate. Everything seemed to go smooth for a while until we got called over to a vehicle where a firearm was discovered. We approached the vehicle and ascertained from the MP the whereabouts of the owner. He pointed to a man standing off to the side of the road. I became shocked when I noticed the man to be Sgt. Watkins. We hurriedly approached Sgt. Watkins and paid very good attention to his body dialect. He seemed tense. “Sgt. Watkins you know you can’t bring a loaded weapon onto post”, Davenport explained. Watkins just stood rigid not saying a word. “Do you have anything to say”, I asked. Still no answer. Without warning he made a dash for the golf course. Davenport, two other MP’s and myself gave chase. While in pursuance I removed my weapon from it’s holster and chambered a round not knowing what we about to get into. Sgt. Watkins must have been a good runner because we could only see the silhouette of him as he neared the bowling alley. Catching sight of him running inside I yelled for Davenport to take the West Side while I headed for the East Side. The other MP’s would stay outside in case Watkins made it past us. We entered the bowling alley very cautiously with weapons drawn. The soldiers inside began to panic when they realized there was something about to go happen. “CID”, I yelled for everyone get down. Soon after Watkins stepped from behind a counter holding a pocket knife to one of the employees’ throat. Davenport entered from the West Side door and came up about ten feet behind Watkins. “Watkins I don’t know what your running for but you don’t want to do this”, I shouted. “You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about”, Watkins yelled back. Holding the knife closer to the employees’ throat he retrieved her car keys from her pocket and began to drag her towards the west door. Davenport stood still, weapon drawn. “Back up or I’ll slit her fucking throat”, he called out to Davenport. I nodded in Davenport’s direction and he backed away from the doorway. Watkins managed his way out the door with the employee all the time keeping his eye on us. When he located the vehicle he opened the door and at that moment an uniformed MP ran out of the shadows firing two shots at Watkins striking the vehicle’s window frame. Watkins turned in my direction with a mischievous look in his eyes. “Wrong move”, he yelled and proceeded to slice the employees throat. “NO”, I yelled rushing his position. It was too late Watkins had already started the car and was pulling away. Something in me clicked which told me to pursue the vehicle on foot. I knew I wouldn’t catch him and out of rage I fired five shots in the air. Luckily there had been patrol cars outside the building, which started to give chase. I rushed back over to the employee who lay surrounded in a puddle of blood. It was too late she had died within minutes. I stood up returning my weapon back to its holster. Davenport stepped up behind me. “Let it go, it’s over”, he whispered. I turned around and stood face to face with him. “Don’t tell me it’s over, this is just the fucking beginning”. With that I walked away as EMS and fire trucks approached the scene.
Within an hour we received word that Sgt. Watkins had managed to escape due to the patrol cars getting into an accident giving him the vantage point. That information made everything else inferior. There was a killer on the loose. I dialed the MP station informing the Desk Sergeant that I wanted Sgt. Watkins housing watched 24/7. If he showed because his house was on fire I wanted to be there to put out the flames.
March 12, 1996
Two days later we found the employees stolen vehicle out near Belton Lake. Sgt. Watkins was no where to be found. We spoke to his wife on several occasions and she seemed to know nothing. After making one more phone call to her I sat back in my office chair staring at the ceiling. Come to find out the weapon in Watkins’ vehicle was the same weapon used to kill his son. That much was indisputable. The part that wasn’t clear was the burnt body on Turkey Run Road. Did that have anything to do with what was going on?
A few hours into the day we positively identified the body. He was a petty thug from Houston who sold marijuana and robbed people for a living. According to an imprisoned acquaintance of his Ellis was approached by Sgt. Watkins in a bar after receiving some information that Ellis had also been a gunman for rental. Watkins had taken out an insurance policy on his son and wanted him murdered for the money. A tear almost came to my eye thinking how could someone do this to their own kid. Then it crossed my mind by checking Watkins’ records I recalled that at one point he been declared mentally unstable by an Army physician. Mrs. Watkins neglected to mention that fact even though we already knew.
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