TRISH

crime scene tape

He can’t do the job without her and doesn’t know it yet. Women characters are some of my favorite to write in crime fiction. Tough guys seem to either wish they had met under different circumstances or never laid their eyes on them.

From my recently released novel, GROUND EFFECT:

FBI, San Antonio PD and ATF crime scene workers moved slowly about with cameras and clipboards. Gerry needed an answer to one question before he could get into gear. They passed under the tape and a uniformed PD sergeant waved them through. Gerry was careful not to step on anything but the shadows from the bright lights made it difficult. They stopped at the edge of the parking lot and waited for one of the workers to pass by. A thirty something male wearing a jacket with “FBI Evidence Recovery” in bold letters on the back got within a few feet.

“Any pieces of the bombers found?” Gerry asked. The guy ignored him and moved on.

Jason said, “That was impressive.”

Gerry was reluctant to go tromping onto the grass and stood uncomfortably for several more minutes before a short dark haired woman in an ATF jacket noticed them and walked over.

“You guys Rangers?” she asked. She was about forty and small but what was there was put together quite nicely. Jason tried to suck his stomach in.

Gerry said, “Yes, Ma’am. We had a trooper shot dead by these creeps. He stopped the propane truck out west of here and didn’t survive. Left a wife and two kids. I’m going to find them for him, if they didn’t blow themselves up here.”

She seemed to shudder just a bit and locked her soft eyes onto his. Then she said, “My ex is, was, is, a cop in Florida. I guess you never know who you’re stopping out on the road.” She stepped to them and put out her hand. ‘I’m Trish, Trish Gillespie, ATF.” Her grip was firm but not overly so and Gerry held it a moment longer than she expected.

“My ex is a practicing witch. I didn’t find that out until it was too late,” Gerry said. Trish’s eyes widened then she got it and smiled.

“Ouch. Has the evil spell worn off?’

Gerry liked her. A lot. Something about a woman that carried a gun. “You find any stray pieces of terrorist in all this?”

Trish looked over her shoulder but none of the other crime scene workers were nearby. “They’re coming around. They, our Hoover Building brothers and sisters, tried to make themselves believe that this was McVey all over again. Your trooper’s dash cam put the lie to that. Did you know that there have been no hits on the fingerprints they left behind? Even a back channel to Mexico turned up nothing.”

“No, I hadn’t got the word on the prints yet but they look Middle Eastern to me. I’ve dealt with all kinds of Mexicans from the decedents of the Spanish and French to the mountain Indians. These guys were not any of that. The truck was out of Del Rio, right on the border. They didn’t come in from the Bahamas.”

“Then that’s the other problem. Washington won’t ever admit the border is a pathway for terrorists. It’s talking point number one. But they weren’t in the truck when it went up. We should have the markers on the explosive soon. But you didn’t hear that from me.” Trish pulled out her business card and exchanged with Gerry.

“You mean there was more than just the propane?” Gerry asked.

“Oh, hell yeah. A lot more. That’s what pushed it over the edge. It looks military as of now. Heavy duty stuff. Our lab will pin it down.” Trish looked at the card and said, “Santos? Sounds Hispanic. How come you look like you’re from Minnesota but with a tan?” Her mind flashed a picture of tan lines in just the right places. She hoped the heat that generated didn’t show on her face.

“Vikings, I think,” Gerry said.

Jason had been trying to get a word in and said, “We call him Island Boy. He spent more time surfing in college than studying in the library. But his family is one of the oldest in San Antonio. Spaniards from the Canaries. Came here and helped chase Santa Anna back to Mexico.”

“I think one of those Atlantic storms pushed a boatful of horny Norwegians off course. I have cousins with red hair too.” Gerry saw her smile and then push the smile away.

“Well, your, whatever they are, murdering shitbags walked away from here and set off the explosive by remote. Smarter than your average suicide bomber. They are out and about somewhere,” she said.

“They got a call about the bus station but I don’t buy it. With what you’ve told me, I have a real mystery to work on. Maybe we’ll get lucky and they have them cuffed and stuffed by now, but I wouldn’t put money on it.” Gerry tipped his white hat and said, “Thank you Trish. Will you call me when the lab has something?”

She hesitated, looked away and then back up to his eyes. “I’m not supposed to. National security. My SAC already got yelled at by some big shot FBI guy in DC.”

Gerry reached out and took her right hand. She pulled back just a bit but then let him take it. He put her hand up to his chest and placed it over the badge pinned there. “I hereby deputize you as an honorary Texas Ranger. Anything you say to me is for the good of the order and the glory of Texas.” He released her hand and now the red showed just under her jaws. “And immunity from all federal bullshit. Amen.”

She turned and said over her shoulder as she walked away, “We’ll see.”

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