Murder Has Two Faces


Tonya S. Coley


For disclaimers see Part 1.

WARNING!!!!!!!! Angst and high drama in this part

Chapter Five

Miguel used the telephone in the hospital waiting room to call Morgan Funeral Home, arranging with them to retrieve Phillip's remains. Rosa sat with Laura and Glenda.

"My God, what they must be going through." Laura softly said. "I don't know what I would do if something happened to one of my children."

Glenda sat shaking her head. "Me either, Laura. They must be devastated."

Rosa looked up with tears in her eyes. "They adored little Pepito. He was their pride and joy." She paused when she heard the doors open and saw Johnnie and Alma approaching them.

Johnnie and Alma both looked as if they had been through the ringer. Johnnie held Alma close as she sobbed pitifully into her chest. Johnnie's eyes were glazed over; she looked lost and out of touch. Rosa walked over to them and took Alma to hold her. Laura rushed over to hold Johnnie.

"He's gone. He's really gone." Johnnie whispered as tears spilled down her cheeks. Laura had her in a bear hug, but Johnnie broke free and ran outside.

She rushed through the doors out into the rain that was steadily falling. Her body trembled with rage. The silence of the outdoors was broken when Johnnie released a wail of mourning that could be heard for blocks. She then fell to her knees, with her hands lying loosely in her lap.

Glenda, Laura and Miguel soon followed, and saw Johnnie just as she fell face first onto the sidewalk. They rushed over to her and lifted her from the wet pavement. Mike and Tracy pulled up in front of the struggling group. They immediately knew that young Phillip did not survive the accident.

Tracy got out of the car, and scooped Johnnie up into his arms. He placed her in the car, while Mike took an umbrella inside to get Alma and Rosa.

Inside the waiting area, Rosa held Alma as she cried. She stroked Alma's hair in an attempt to sooth her. She whispered to her in Spanish.

Mike walked over to them and quietly ushered them from the waiting room. He put Alma in his car, while Miguel took Rosa over to the truck.

They rode home in silence. Mike and Tracy were in the front and Johnnie and Alma in the back. Johnnie quietly cried, while Alma wept into her chest.

When they got home, Alma went into Phillip's room. She lay across his bed and continued crying

Laura took Johnnie into her bedroom and helped her change out of the wet clothes. She ordered Johnnie into the shower.

Phillip ran into Johnnie and Alma's bedroom to wake them. Alma was on her back with the sheet covering her. Johnnie was on her stomach, the sheet coming up to her waist and her hair splayed over her shoulders. He stood at the foot of their bed. Putting his stuffed Dipsy under his arm, he climbed on the bed and crawled up Johnnie's body, onto her back.

"Mama, up." Phillip squealed. "Play, Mama."

Johnnie grunted in her exhaustion. It had only been a couple of hours since she and Alma ushered in the sunrise with resounding orgasms. "Too early, Champ. Go back to bed."

"No erdy, Mama. Elmo on." He said. "Up!"

'Elmo? What time is it?' Johnnie asked herself. She looked over to the nightstand and what used to be the alarm clock. It was no longer functioning. "Champ, go over to the dresser and get my watch."

He slid off her back, and walked over to the dresser. Johnnie quickly slipped on her t-shirt, and then pulled the sheet up over Alma. She took the watch from small hands and looked to see that it was a little after nine. Johnnie then looked at her son who was watching her. "Champ, Mama has to get ready for work." She said.

Phillip's face told how disappointed he was. He thought that she was going to be home, since she was still in bed.

"C'mere Champ." She said as she held her arms open to him. He ran and jumped on the bed.

"What?" Alma asked. Her voice was laden with sleep.

"Nothing, baby. Go back to sleep." Johnnie whispered. She turned her attention back to Phillip. "How 'bout we get us some cereal and let Mami sleep?" Phillip happily nodded his head. "Go on into the living room and wait for me. I'll be right there."

Johnnie sat pillows on the floor for Phillip to sit on. She sat beside him and pulled the coffee table, which held their cereal bowls, close to them. They watched Sesame Street together.

Johnnie stood motionless under the warm water. She began to come back to herself and was able to shower properly. When she finished, she dressed in the sweats and t-shirt that Laura had laid out for her. After dressing she sat on the edge of the bed and mourned for her son.

After what seemed like an eternity of crying, Johnnie was unable to shed any more tears. She heard a knock on the door. "Come in." She rasped.

Pizo poked his head in, his eyes red from crying. "Johnnie, I just heard and rushed over here. Is it okay if I come in?"

She looked at her longtime friend and former partner. "Yeah, come on in." She patted the bed for him to take a seat.

"I can't believe Champ is gone, J." He said sobbing.

"Me either, Pizo." She softly said. "My son is gone; taken from me. What are we gonna do now?" She paused. "I should have died that time, Pizo. If I had then Alma and I wouldn't be going through this."

"J, don't look at it that way." He told her. "If you had died, then you wouldn't have known the love of your precious son who adored you. Alma would have never become your wife. Her life would have been empty without you and Champ." He paused and placed a hand on her already burdened shoulder. "You have both experienced unconditional love. The love a child has for his parents. That feeling will never die."

Johnnie sat and digested what Pizo had told her. "Thanks, Pizo." She said as she placed her hand over his. "I need to talk to Alma."

Johnnie found Alma laying in a fetal position on Phillip's bed. She was weeping softly. Johnnie walked over to the bed and sat on the edge, and softly touched Alma on her shoulder. "Honey, look at me." She whispered.

Alma turned over and looked at her. Her eyes were red and swollen from crying. "Johnnie, what are we going to do?" She asked, her voice hoarse from screaming. "Our baby is dead, and it is all my fault."

Johnnie cupped her face. "Alma, it is not your fault. It was a terrible accident."

Alma sat up. "If I hadn't put him down, he would still be alive. You must hate me." She rasped as her throat constricted.

"You can't possibly think that I blame you." Johnnie whispered. "If there is any fault, it is with me. The reporters would not have been waiting for you if they weren't after me."

Alma shook her head and began to speak. "But beloved if I had........."

Johnnie lovingly placed her fingers on Alma's lips. "This is not your fault." She paused. "Champ was with us for only a short time, but in that time was a lifetime of love. Our love brought him forth, and his love for us made us grow." She pulled Alma into a warm embrace. "We have to remember the joy that he brought to us."

Rosa Glenda and Pizo were sitting at the kitchen table. Tears streaked Rosa's face as she clasped her hands tightly. "My little Pepito. What will we do without him?" She asked aloud to no one in particular. "I will ask God to strengthen us." She stood and walked over to the stove. "I know what it is to lose a child. My son died by his own hand, but this is too much."

"It will take time, Rosa. We will heal eventually." Pizo said.

Rosa looked up at the doorway and saw Johnnie standing there. "Johnnie, please sit down. Is there anything that I can get for you?"

Johnnie took a seat. "No, nothing. Thank you."

"Do you think Alma is hungry?" Rosa asked, hoping to find something to do.

"Probably not, Rosa." She told her. "Maybe you should go and talk to your daughter. She needs you now."

"Alright." Rosa softly said.

While Johnnie was talking with Pizo, Glenda and Miguel, they were startled by Alma's screams. They ran into Phillip's bedroom to find Alma kneeling on the floor screaming and speaking Spanish. Johnnie helped her up and lifted her, as Alma wrapped her legs around Johnnie's waist. Johnnie then walked into their bedroom. She laid Alma on the bed, and then lay next to her. She wrapped her arms around Alma and held her close.

Johnnie was going through her own personal hell, but she realized that she had to be strong for Alma. Where will I get the strength I need for the both of us? She wondered. She kissed Alma's forehead as her sobs subsided.

Alma felt secure in Johnnie's arms. She suddenly remembered what she had to tell Johnnie. How can I tell her now? What are we going to do? She asked herself.

The next morning, Annie and Myra came over to offer condolences and to help out. The condition that they found their friends in was heartbreaking. Alma was not responding to anyone, and Johnnie was lost. She was helpless in reaching Alma.

Johnnie asked Annie to make phone calls to friends and family members that had not heard about the accident. While Annie was making the calls, Johnnie turned on the TV and saw the report about her son. Tears welled in her eyes and her body began to tremble with rage. She could feel herself losing it, so she went down to the basement and took her frustrations out on her gym equipment.

"Ballantine is to blame for this." Johnnie angrily hissed as she punched the heavy bag. "My son wouldn't be dead if it weren't for him." She pounded on the bag continuously until she could feel the stuffing falling down around her feet. Her face was streaked with a mixture of sweat and tears. Johnnie's hair was matted to her face, neck and shoulders. Unable to cope any more, she slid down to the floor and wept.

Annie could hear Johnnie's sobs. She began to chant for the Spirits to help her friend see her way through this.

Alma remained despondent all day. She didn't eat or drink anything, nor did she speak. She was unable to go with Johnnie down to the funeral home to make Phillip's arrangements. Annie offered to go, but Johnnie decided that she would go alone.

"This is a dark day for our profession." Reporter Karen Grace muttered to herself as the director told her and the co-anchor that they were clear.

"What was that, Karen?" Bill Thorne, her co-anchor, asked.

"I don't know about you, but I feel a certain responsibility for the death of the Martinez boy." She sighed.

"We weren't there, Karen. It is not our fault." He told her nonchalantly. "It was an unfortunate accident."

"It could have very easily been one of us at that mob scene." Karen spat. "I heard how they frightened that poor little boy. They made him run into the street."

"His mother should have had better control over him. Even better, she could have just kept driving." He retorted.

Karen looked at him as if he had grown another head. "Are you telling me that you think his mother is to blame?"

Bill was a little agitated and the stance that Karen was taking. "It certainly wasn't the members of the press that were there. How could you even think that?" He demanded.

Karen glared at him. She could feel her facade slipping and realized she had to rein her temper. She pulled off the earpiece and walked out of the studio.

After making the arrangements, Johnnie stopped at a bar called Leather and Lace. She took a seat at the bar and ordered Absolut and cranberry juice. After she drank it, she ordered an Absolut straight up. A raven-haired woman sat next to her and ordered a Scotch, no ice. The woman was dressed in a faded pair of Levi's and a black t-shirt that revealed well-developed arms. She looked over at Johnnie.

Johnnie could feel eyes upon her. She looked over into a pair of jade eyes. "What do you want?" She growled.

The woman held her gaze. "Nothing. You just look like you could use a friend right now." She responded in a deep contralto voice.

Johnnie's eerie chuckle rumbled deep within her chest. "You don't know the half lady." She drank the vodka in one gulp, the ordered another.

"You wanna talk about it?" The woman asked.

"You are wasting your time. I'm married." Johnnie snapped.

The woman laughed heartily. "I know you are married, Johnnie." She paused, taking on a more somber tone. "I also know what you have lost, and I am so sorry." She paused again. "The help you seek is not at the bottom of that glass."

Johnnie looked cautiously at the woman. "You know who I am?"

"Yeah, and I know what happened to your son." She said.

"Do I know you?" Johnnie demanded, trying to question the sense of familiarity this woman held.

The woman swallowed her drink. "Yes and no." She told her. How many of those have you had?" She asked pointing to Johnnie's glass.

Johnnie swallowed the drink in one gulp. "I don't have time for riddles, and I don't have time for guessing games." Johnnie angrily spat. She paid her tab and stood up. She was dizzy, because she failed to remember that she had not eaten all day. Getting her bearings as best she could, she turned and staggered a little as she walked out of the bar.

Johnnie made it outside, the sun had just set. She fumbled in her pocket for her keys and struggled to unlock her door. She heard someone walking up behind her.

"You shouldn't be driving. Let me take you home." The woman said. "My truck is right over there."

Johnnie looked at the woman through alcohol-hazed eyes. "I have a gun and I know how to use it, so don't try anything funny." She slurred.

The woman laughed. "I know you have a gun. Don't worry, you aren't my type."

"I don't know where she is, Pizo." Annie said. "She should have been back a couple of hours ago. The funeral director called and said to bring what Phillip would be wearing to them in the morning."

"Why didn't someone go with her?" He demanded.

"You know how Johnnie is. She said no and she meant it." Annie told him. "I didn't want to add to her stress by arguing with her."

Pizo sighed. "I know, Annie. You were right."

The doorbell rang, and Annie went over to open it. She was surprised to see a tipsy Johnnie being held up by an unknown woman.

"I found her at Leather and Lace. She was tossing her drinks back like water." The woman said.

Annie took Johnnie from the woman. "Would you like to come in?" She asked.

"No, I have to be going." She answered. "Just wanted to make sure she got home ok." She paused as she reached in her pocket. "Her truck is still at the L and L. Here are her keys."

Pizo walked over to the door. He thought the woman looked familiar. "Thank you for looking out for our friend."

"No problem" She said then flashed a brilliant smile. "Good night." With that she walked away.

"Night, friend." Johnnie slurred. "Nice ponytail."

Annie shook her head. "Come on Red Owl. Let's get you to the bed."

Annie took Johnnie to the bedroom and laid her across the bed. Alma looked up and saw her wife nearly unconscious. She walked over to the bed and sat next to Johnnie. She ran her fingers across a furrowed brow, the down a noble cheek. Alma laid next to Johnnie and placed her head on her chest...

Alma had been pacing back and forth for nearly an hour, anxious for Johnnie to get home. When she heard Johnnie's car pull into the driveway, she ran over to the sofa and sat down.

"Hey, baby." Johnnie said as she entered the house. She walked over to Alma and kissed her.

"Hi, Querida. How was your day?" Alma asked.

"Long and tiring." Johnnie said. "I'm gonna take a shower."

Alma smiled. "Ok, baby." She paused. "There is a box on your pillow. Open it when you get a chance." She told her, knowing that the kid in Johnnie would make her open it before she did anything else.

Johnnie smiled and went into the bedroom. A slender box was lying on her pillow. She grinned like a kid at Christmas as she tore the box open. She looked curiously at the contents, taking out the white stick that had a plus sign on it.

Alma could hear Johnnie as she tore open the box. She snickered as she imagined the look on Johnnie's face. It was quiet for a minute and then Alma suddenly heard a loud thud. Rushing into the bedroom she saw Johnnie laying on her back, in a state of unconsciousness with a stupid grin on her face.

Alma remembered that moment, and a small smile formed on her face. She listened to Johnnie's heartbeat, and fell into a short but peaceful sleep.

"Are they ok?" Pizo asked as Annie came back into the living room.

"They are sleeping." She said. "How they are inside is too hard to tell."

Pizo looked at his watch, and realized that he was late for dinner. "Diana is at home. We're gonna grab a bit to eat, then we will be back." He said, and then looked toward the bedroom. "I don't know how they are holding it together as well as they are."

Myra stood at the door leading to the backyard watching Annie as she called upon the Spirits for Johnnie and Alma. She looked as Annie made offerings to the four winds. Myra sent up her own silent prayer for her friends. "What they must be going through. God, please help them. They are good people." She whispered.

Johnnie was awakened by what felt like a feather brushing across her forehead. She remained still for a moment as she felt a wet area soaking into the middle of her chest. She looked down at the dark head that was lying between her breasts and realized that it was Alma. Her tears had seeped through Johnnie's t-shirt. Johnnie wrapped her arms around Alma, and she felt a wave of peacefulness wash over her. "We will get through this. I promise, Alma." She whispered as she kissed the top of Alma's head.

Chapter Six

Tori and Ceecee arrived the day before Phillip's funeral. Johnnie invited them to stay with her and Alma, instead of going to a hotel. It was a good decision because Alma was becoming more sullen and withdrawn. She would only answer questions directed to her, and would keep her response to a minimum. Johnnie felt as if she were losing Alma too. Ceecee and Alma were close, and Johnnie knew that Ceecee could help pull Alma from the dark place that she seemed to be falling into.

Ceecee had convinced Alma to join her outside for a little sun. They sat on the patio and Ceecee coaxed Alma into eating a small salad. Ceecee studied Alma as she picked at her food. She noticed that her usual full face was a little thin and drawn. Dark circles encompassed eyes that were full of pain and sorrow. Her heart ached for Alma. The loss of a child is devastating, and she could only imagine the torment that Alma was going through. She also noticed something else about Alma. It was something that she had only seen once before.

"Alma, I have noticed something." Ceecee said softly. "Is there something that you haven't told Johnnie?"

Alma placed her hands in her lap and took great interest in her fingers. "I don't know what are you talking about." She nervously responded.

The way Alma responded, Ceecee knew that her suspicions were true. "Why haven't you told Johnnie?" She asked as she moved closer to the now tearful Alma.

"How can I tell her now?" She asked, looking up into Ceecee's eyes.

Ceecee took Alma's hands into her own. "You aren't going to..........."

Alma stopped her in mid sentence. "No, I would never do that."

After releasing a sigh of relief, Ceecee continued. "You have to tell her. You won't be able to keep this from her for long, Alma."

"I know." She whispered. "I know."

Johnnie was packing a bag with the things that she wanted Phillip to be buried with. She held his stuffed Dipsy doll, putting it to her nose to take in her son's scent. Her heart felt as if it were going to split in two. She picked up his tribal feather, and placed it and his medicine bag that the Shaman gave to Phillip into the case. "Two Feathers," she whispered as tears fell from her eyes, "take care of my son until we are reunited." She closed the bag, and then she and Tori left for the mortuary.

The next morning, it was nearing the time for them to get ready for the funeral. Johnnie walked into the bedroom and found Alma staring out the window.

"Alma, baby it is time to get ready." Johnnie whispered. Alma said nothing. "Come on, honey. We have to get ready." Still there was no response.

Johnnie went into the bathroom and ran a tub of water. She then returned to the bedroom and lifted Alma, carrying her into the bathroom. Johnnie removed Alma's robe, and placed her carefully in the tub. She washed her hair and then gave her a bath. Alma sat in silence as Johnnie bathed her. Johnnie whispered words of love and encouragement. Alma was lulled into a feeling of peace as she listened to Johnnie's voice. She was able to assist Johnnie as she lifted her from the tub. Johnnie dried her off and helped her get dressed. Johnnie showered while Ceecee helped Alma with her hair.

"Johnnie wake up." Alma whispered as she shook Johnnie's shoulder.

"Huh, what is it? Is it time?" Johnnie groggily asked.

"No, Querida. I am hungry." Alma chuckled, rubbing her enormous belly.

Johnnie sat up. "Ok, baby. What do you want?"

"I want a peanut butter, pickle and sardine sandwich." She said.

Johnnie grimaced. "Baby, that is nasty. Are you sure?"

"Yes. That is what I want." She said. "Don't forget the milk."

Johnnie trudged into the kitchen and made Alma's late night snack. When she returned to the bedroom, Alma happily took the food and devoured it. Johnnie watched as Alma ate the sandwich like she was eating a steak. Johnnie could feel the bile rising in her throat as she raced toward the bathroom to throw up.

Johnnie was shaken from her reverie when she heard Annie tell her that it was time. She walked out of the bedroom and saw that family and friends had gathered there to leave for the services together.

They walked out to the limos that the mortuary had provided. Alma was shaky so Johnnie put a steadying arm around her and helped her into the car. Johnnie got in next to her. The tears began to flow from Johnnie's eyes. She tried but could not control them. Alma looked over to her, and saw her red-rimmed eyes. She took Johnnie's hand into hers. Johnnie looked at her and they both found the comfort that they needed. Alma leaned over and kissed Johnnie on the cheek.

Upon arrival at the cemetery, both Johnnie and Alma were shocked to see so many people waiting. Members of the police force were there, along with Alma's former co-workers. Johnnie's associates and their families were waiting, along with some of her clients. There was also a contingent of Cherokee from Johnnie's tribe dressed in ceremonial attire. The outpouring of love and respect that they came to pay to them touched them both.

After the family was seated, the priest from Rosa's parish said a few words. A Cherokee Elder that chanted blessings upon the Phillip's spirit and the loved ones who remained behind followed him.

Annie stood and walked to the head of the coffin. She sang a song of mourning, and was joined by Johnnie and the other Cherokee that were present.

"I would like to recite a poem that I take comfort in." Annie said. "I hope that this will give comfort to Little Bear's family in this time of sorrow." She began to recite the poem 'Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep'.

"Do not stand at my grave and weep.

I am not there. I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond glint on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you wake in the morning hush

I am the swift, uplifting rush

of quiet birds in circling flight.

I am the soft starlight at night.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.

I am not there. I do not sleep."

Johnnie and Alma felt a sense of calm wash over them as a gentle breeze swayed the trees that stood tall around them. On the breeze, it was as if they could hear a child's gentle laughter. Alma looked up at Johnnie and smiled as she wiped the tears from her face.

Before the committal, Phillip's coffin was opened. Those that wished to say farewell were allowed to do so. Johnnie and Alma were the last ones to see him before the coffin was to be sealed. They walked up arm in arm, holding on to each other for strength. Alma leaned in to kiss him goodbye. She touched his hair and his cheek.

"Te amo, mijo." She tearfully whispered.

Johnnie adjusted his stuffed Dipsy, then his medicine bag and eagle feather. "Goodbye Champ. I love you." She whispered. She pulled the shroud up to his neck to cover him, and then she closed the coffin. The funeral director gave Johnnie the key to seal the coffin. As she turned the handle, her knees began to buckle and in a flash Pizo was there to hold her up.

"Alex, I don't think this is a good idea." Jonas said.

"Why not?" Ballantine asked. "We have come to pay our respects to the bereaved." He sarcastically said.

Jonas looked at Ballantine with disgust. He could not believe that he aligned himself with a man who was this cold and calculating.

"Here they come now." Ballantine said, nearly leaping from the car. The few reporters that he had asked to join him quickly followed.

Johnnie, Alma and the other mourners were meet by Ballantine and members of the press. The crowd began to grumble at his presence.

"I have come in behalf of the city of Wilmington to offer our deepest sympathies for the loss of your son." Ballantine announced.

Johnnie glared at him. Her rage was rekindled. "How dare you come here!" She angrily spat. "It is because of you and your lies that my son is in his grave."

"I understand you pain." He said, but before he could continue a battle cry came from within Johnnie and she had him by his throat.

Her grip was tight as they both fell to the ground, with Johnnie landing on top of him. His air supply was being cut off. He was turning colors and a vein was bulging in his forehead.

"I'm going to kill you. You are a dead man, Ballantine. Do you hear me?" Johnnie furiously spat as she tightened her grip.

Alma was screaming, pleading with Johnnie to release him, while Pizo and Tori struggled to pull her off of the mayor. The photographers were having a filed day taking pictures. Miguel and Ceecee rushed Alma off the car, while Pizo called for Annie to help get Johnnie.

Annie walked over to the enraged Johnnie and easily pulled her hands from around Ballantine's neck. "Enough, Red Owl." She told her. "He is not worth it."

Johnnie was wild eyed as she tried to focus in on Annie's voice. Annie lifted her off of the gasping mayor and helped her to the car.

Jonas helped a gasping and sputtering Ballantine from the ground. Pizo walked over to them and looked the mayor in his eyes.

"You are one sick, sadistic son of a bitch. Do you know that?" He spat. "You had better stay away from her. She may just kill you next time."

Ballantine and Peters were looked at with disgust and contempt.

When Johnnie finally made it to the car, she saw Alma violently throwing up. She rushed over to her and Ceecee.

"What's wrong with her?" Johnnie asked as she wrapped her arm around Alma's waist.

"It's her nerves." Ceecee told her. "This is just too much for her to handle."

Johnnie couldn't help but feel bad for the role she played in causing Alma pain. "I'm sorry, baby. I didn't mean to upset you like this."

Alma finally straightened up and was able to look at Johnnie. "Do not worry about me. I am fine." She whispered. "I just want to go home."

Johnnie embraced her. "Ok, baby. Let's go home."

The house was full of people offering condolences after the funeral. Johnnie and Alma talked with everyone and thanked them for coming. Johnnie began to get a little unnerved with all the people around, so she went down into the basement. She pulled off her jacket and walked behind the bar to make herself a drink. By the time Pizo and Tori found her, Johnnie had a couple under her belt.

"J, are you ok?" Pizo asked, taking the glass from her hand.

"Yeah, I'm fine." She paused. "Did Alma send you guys down here for me?"

"No, Johnnie. She's pretty busy with all those people upstairs." Tori said.

Johnnie sighed. "I couldn't take it anymore. I had to get away."

"I understand, J." Pizo told her as he grasped her shoulder. "You coming back up?"

"Yeah, just give me a minute." She said.

"Ok." Pizo said, and then he and Tori went back upstairs.

"Get it together, Green." Johnnie whispered. She picked up her jacket and went back upstairs. She made it as far as the kitchen. When she saw all the people that were still there, she turned and eased out the back door.

Alma began to ask where Johnnie was. Pizo looked at his watch and thought that Johnnie should be upstairs by now. He was on his way to the basement when he looked out the window and saw that Johnnie's Navigator was missing. "Damn it, J, where have you gone?"

Johnnie drove downtown to the liquor store that she frequented. "Hey, Sal." She greeted him.

Sal was the owner of the liquor store. He was well acquainted with Johnnie and Pizo. "Hello detective. I am surprised to see you here today."

"Yeah, I know." She sadly said. "I came to get a bottle of the usual."

He patted Johnnie's hand. "A fifth of Absolut coming up."

When he returned with the bottle, she paid and then left. She walked to the park where she and Alma took Phillip to play.

"Johnnie, you have a call on line three." Laura said over the intercom.

"Thanks, Laura." She said, and then she picked up the phone. "Hello?"

"Mama, mama, mama." The little voice said.

"Who is this?" Johnnie asked.

Alma put the phone to her ear. "Hello?"

"Alma?" Johnnie asked. "What's going on?"

Alma laughed. "Your son wanted to call and say hello."

"That was Champ?" Johnnie asked as a tear ran down her cheek.

"Mama, mama, mama!" He squealed.

Johnnie tearfully stirred from her memory. "Ballantine, you took my son away from me." She slurred. "Time for you to pay up." She walked back downtown towards City Hall, holding the half empty bottle of vodka by her side.

"Where could she have gone?" Alma frantically asked, Pizo.

"I have no idea, Alma. I'm going out to try and find her." He said.

"I'm coming with you." Tori told him.

Johnnie stood in front of City Hall. It was dark and there were lights on in Ballantine's office. She went inside and took the elevator to his office. She noticed that no one was there, and staggered toward his office.

Ballantine was dictating notes on his micro-cassette recorder, when he heard his office door open. "What are you doing here, Green." He asked, his voice still raspy from her earlier attack on him.

"I just came to get one last look at you on your throne." She slurred.

His voice began to shake as he became nervous. "What do you mean?"

She flopped down into a chair. "Your life is over, Alex. May I call you Alex?" She flippantly asked.

"You're drunk, Green. Get the hell out of my office." He ordered.

"I told you that you were a dead man, Ballantine." She took a drink from the bottle and slammed it down on his desk. She held on to it as she put her other hand on the heavy marble ashtray and pulled herself up from the chair. She shakily stood.

Ballantine really began to fear for his life. He had a very drunk and very pissed former police officer in his office. "What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to kill you like I said I would." She said.

"No, Please don't." He begged.

She walked around his desk, and reached for her shoulder holster. Suddenly she realized that she wasn't wearing it. At the same time Ballantine realized it too, and took the opportunity to rush her. Johnnie landed on her back with Ballantine astride her. Her lip was split when his shoulder hit it.

"Now, you filthy dyke, who's got the upper hand?" He yelled, as he attempted to grasp her throat.

"Not you, asshole." She hissed through clinched teeth. She grabbed his testicles, making him cry out in pain, and then she punched him in his nose. His blood splattered on her shirt, jacket and face. He rolled over from on top of her in sheer agony. She got up on her hands and knees and hovered over him. "I could never figure out why you felt you were so self righteous." She told him. "I know now."

"What are you talking about, psycho?" He asked, through the pain.

"You are a sick fuck, do you know that?" She spat.

"You're crazy. Get out of here before I call the police." He groaned.

Johnnie crawled around to the other side of Ballantine. "I know why you always go to New York. Unlike you, you sick bastard, I have proof." She paused as a feral grin formed on her face. "I hear you like chicken."

"Wh-what are you talking about?" He nervously asked.

"I have all the proof I need to destroy you, Alex. It's the end of the world, as you know it. How many lives have you destroyed? How many cops did you run off the force, Ballantine?" She angrily demanded. "You tired to ruin my reputation, but instead you ruin my life by taking my son away from me. Well, your reign of terror is over. I'm going to the press in the morning with my proof, and your stint as mayor will be over."

Ballantine sat up. Johnnie stood over him. "Can't we discuss this?" He tearfully asked. "I have a wife and kids."

"You didn't care about my wife and son when started this campaign against me, did you?" She demanded. "I buried my son today because of you, so no, I don't give a fat baby's ass about your family. Enjoy your last night as mayor." She turned and walked out, slamming the door behind her.

Ballantine crawled over to his desk and pulled himself up into his chair. He began to cry. He buried his face in his hands. He heard the door to his office open again. "Leave me be, Green. Just leave me be."

Johnnie was staggering in the street when Pizo and Tori finally found her. Her shirt was covered with blood and her hair was hanging loosely around her shoulders.

"J, what happened to you? Whose blood is this?" Pizo asked.

Tori examined Johnnie and saw that her lip was split. "Her lip's busted. It must be hers."

"Tori, is that you?" She asked, breathing heavily into Tori's face.

"Damn, buddy, what in the fuck have you been drinking? Tori asked as she fanned the fumes away from her nose.

"The usual, a little of this, a little of that." She said laughing.

"Most likely vodka." Pizo said.

"Well whoever said that vodka didn't stink told a damned lie. That breath is kicking like Bruce Lee." Tori said, grimaced.

"Let's get the happy drunk home. Alma is probably beside herself with worry." Pizo said.

Alma ran to the door when she heard Pizo's car pull up. She froze in place when she saw Pizo and Tori carrying Johnnie up to the house.

Johnnie opened her eyes and looked into the red-rimmed eyes of her wife. "Hey baby. Sorry I'm late." She slurred.

Pizo and Tori stood Johnnie on her feet. Alma walked over to them, and saw the blood on Johnnie's shirt and her split lip.

She cupped Johnnie's face in her hands. "What happened, beloved? Are you ok?"

"I'm fine, baby. Just drunk is all." She slurred.

"Can you help me get her to bed, please?" Alma asked.

Mayor Ballantine's secretary entered the office at her usual time. She put on a pot of coffee, and picked up his bag of croissants to take them into his office. She opened the blinds and turned to walk over to his desk when she saw his feet from behind his desk. She walked around his desk to discover his bloody body lying on the floor. She screamed, and then Jonas Peters ran in. He gasped in horror, and then called the police.

To be continued in part 4

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