Wally noticed that the sky threatened snow as the glass elevator carried him closer to the clouds and the top floors of the tallest building in the city.
On his first visit to the offices of Miles Fitzpatrick, the rookie had been in awe, even though he had to hide it from Bruno. The only time he had ever seen a view of the city that rivaled the one the real estate mogul had from his desk was when he had been on an airplane.
This time, however, that façade would be shattered. Wally understood that Fitzpatrick was nothing more than a narcissistic, misogynistic, racist, con man who had used his daddy’s millions and a series of empty promises, failed businesses, and shady deals to make himself more money than any human could possibly need in a lifetime.
What Wally had mistaken for ornate and tasteful was now known to be a tacky attempt at trying too hard to showcase his wealth and power.
Fitzpatrick might have a great view, fancy suits, and a movie star smile, but there was nothing to the man himself. He was just a lot of hot air, name dropping, and crackpot ideas. The only true skill Miles Fitzpatrick had was the ability to sniff out suckers and then wring them dry of every penny they possessed.
“You sure you’re ready for this?” Ng’s question snapped Wally out of his thoughts.
“Yeah,” he assured her.
Wally was still very new at being a police officer, and he saw this interaction with Fitzpatrick as a chance to gauge his growth. He had admittedly been intimidated by the myth of the man the first time they met, and he was dead set on proving that he could treat him just like any other citizen during this encounter.
“Since you’ve already established a relationship with Mr. Fitzpatrick, I’m going to allow you to take the lead,” she revealed to Wally’s surprise. “If I sense things are going south, however, I’m going to take over. You good with that?”
Wally nodded. Nothing could be better.
The executive assistant chased them into the office yelling that they couldn’t see her boss without an appointment, but Wally and Ng ignored the poor woman. After all, they were here on official police business and very well could be saving the man’s life.
“Officer Wainwright,” Fitzpatrick said with a beaming smile from behind a desk that was larger than some New England states.
“I told them they need an appointment, sir!” the frazzled assistant yelled in a desperate attempt to save her job.
“Wally’s an old friend,” Fitzpatrick inform her. “Old friends can drop in any time.”
A look of relief washed over the woman’s face, and she quickly turned and made a beeline for the door before her boss changed his mind about her employment.
Fitzpatrick stood up like he wanted them to see just how good he looked. His suit was expertly tailored and had cost more than his assistant took home in a week. His hair was perfectly styled. The watch on his wrist told the time with Swiss precision, but even more importantly, it told anyone who saw it how affluent its wearer was.
Of course, there was that fake, bright smile that seemed to mock the city’s residents from billboards strategically placed all over town.
“Where’s Detective Bruno?” he asked as if he was just now noticing that the absence of that larger than life presence.
“Detective Bruno is out of town on another case,” Wally explained as he stood behind one of the two chairs in front of the desk. “This is Detective Ng. You get the pleasure of her company on this visit. Perhaps you will soon consider her an old friend as well.”
Fitzpatrick laughed at Wally’s bravado.
“You’ve changed since our last meeting,” the real estate mogul commented. “And I mean that in a good way. Stepping out from the big man’s shadow looks good on you.”
Wally said nothing and his poker face revealed even less.
“Please sit,” Fitzpatrick insisted as he waved at the chairs in front of his desk. “So who are you here to accuse me of doing wrong this time, Officer Wainwright? Or are you here to give me false information about a threat on my life?”
Ng looked to Wally in confusion. He had purposely not given her all the details of his last visit because he didn’t want her to ban him from accompanying her.
Their observant host picked up on the glance and assumed he could use it to his advantage.
“Ah, young Wally didn’t tell you how he and the big, scary detective lied to me the last time they were here, did they?”
Fitzpatrick poured himself a drink from the bar next to his desk and then studied his guests. He knew they wouldn’t accept his offer of a drink, but he had purposely not asked as a way to demonstrate that this was his turf and he was in control.
“That conversation has nothing to do with our current visit, Mr. Fitzpatrick,” Ng replied without skipping a beat. “I’m going to let Officer Wainwright explain.
Wally let out the breath he didn’t realize he had been holding since Fitzpatrick had posed his question. A sense of relief washed over him when Ng did not take over the interview.
“Mr. Fitzpatrick, have you received any threats lately?” Wally asked.
Fitzpatrick scoffed and threw back the remainder of the brown liquid in his tumbler.
“So you’re going with the same old song? You couldn’t come up with anything original?”
Wally ignored the comments and continued.
“We have reason to believe there is a credible threat against you and the new housing development you’re planning across the river.”
“That’s not a mere housing development, my friend,” Fitzpatrick corrected him in the most condescending tone he could summon. “The Platinum Aurora Village Condominiums are the future of housing for the movers and shakers, the history makers, and the record breakers.”
“Did Dr. Seuss write that for you?” Wally quipped.
Ng fought to keep a straight face while also finding a new respect for the rookie.
“Platinum Aurora sounds like the name of a cheesy science fiction flick from the seventies,” Wally added to his observation. “Where do you get this stuff?”
This time, Ng shot Wally a sideways glance, which he pretended not to notice.
Fitzpatrick flashed that creepy, overly bright smile and rattled around the ice cubes in the bottom of his empty tumbler.
“The name and the tagline were created by the greatest marketing team this country has to offer. We tested them in front of multiple focus groups, who absolutely loved them. In fact, the marketing guys told me they’ve never seen anything test higher in the history of their company. And that’s just not real estate ventures. Highest scores across all categories.”
Wally nodded like this all made sense. He knew the best way to get Fitzpatrick talking was to let the man stroke his own ego.
“If that’s the case, then I guess it would be a very high profile target,” Wally volunteered. “I bet a lot of people are jealous that’s this is going to be yet another Miles Fitzpatrick success story.”
“Now I remember why I liked you,” Fitzpatrick replied as he headed over to the bar for another drink. This time he was feeling more generous. “Can I get either of you anything?”
“Thanks, but not while we’re working,” Wally answered for them both.
Fitzpatrick walked over to the enormous ceiling to floor windows to look out at the breathtaking view of the city.
“I can actually check on it from my desk every day. And that’s not gloating. It’s a simple fact. When you have a view like this, you can see just about anything worth seeing in this beautiful city we’re lucky enough to call home.”
Since his back was turned, Ng felt comfortable rolling her eyes.
“Obviously, you wouldn’t want to see anything bad happen to the Aurora Borealis before it’s built,” Wally purposely mangled the name.
Fitzpatrick quickly turned. “Platinum Aurora. Don’t worry. It’s a common mistake. Once the village is up and running, though, Platinum Aurora is going to quickly surpass the Aurora Borealis as the most recognized Aurora on the planet, if not the entire galaxy.”
Fitzpatrick smiled. The man believed every word that came out of his own mouth.
It was Wally’s job to inject some reality into the conversation.
“This project is going to be another brilliant feather in your cap. It will also go a long way towards helping you win the hearts and minds of voters if the rumors are true about your plan to run for governor.”
Talking about Miles Fitzpatrick is the best way to engage Miles Fitzpatrick.
“You don’t know the half of it,” he bragged as he sat down again behind his desk. “The groundbreaking is in two days, and we’re filming everything for a reality show. It’s going to cover the entire process and will start airing right after I announce my plan to run for governor.”
“The network expects the greatest ratings of any show they’ve ever aired. Those are their words, not mine. The show will air every week like a free campaign add, putting me in more homes than any commercial ever could. I wish I had known you were coming today because I would’ve had the camera crew here. This would have been perfect. A handsome, young officer showing up to make sure I’m safe. The viewers would eat it up. They’d love you. The Commissioner would have to promote you. Immediately. Just to thank you for all the positive publicity you’d bring the department.”
Wally waved off the praise with a forced smile. “I’m perfectly fine doing what I’m doing without the cameras.
“The cameras would love you. Not as much as they love me. That’s to be expected, though. I’ve been doing this for a long time and the people already love me. You’re new. You’ll get there eventually…”
“I hate to cut you off,” Wally said as sincerely as he could muster, “but we need you to call off the groundbreaking.”
“No way that’s going to happen,” the real estate mogul said flatly. “Like I just told you, we’re shooting a TV show around the event. Can’t be pushed. Won’t be pushed.”
Wally shook his head. “We have credible information of a threat on your life and the event.”
Ng wanted to say something about the use of the word “credible”, but she knew they wouldn’t have a shot with Fitzpatrick if they let on that none of this was verified.
“I get threats every day,” Fitzpatrick chuckled. “If I canceled my plans every time someone threatened me, I’d never move out of this chair. Not that I’d mind. You’ve seen the view.”
“Have you ever heard of Crossing the Delaware?” Wally decided to try a different tact.
“Sure,” Fitzpatrick nodded. “That was the show with the good looking brunette from Law & Order who played a medical examiner. Her father was the coach from The White Shadow. Now that was a classic show. They don’t make them like that…”
“That’s Crossing Jordan,” Wally cut him off in frustration. “Crossing the Delaware is a domestic terrorist group that has claimed responsibility for four incidents in the past year. They’ve decided to make you and the Roaring Aurora their next target.”
Fitzpatrick didn’t correct Wally this time. Instead, he just stood up and turned his back to them.
“If this is such a credible threat and there are terrorists involved, where’s the FBI?” he asked.
Ng cursed her decision to leave Vlak back at the station.
“The FBI is working other angles,” Wally replied without lying. “I told them I had a relationship with you and you were more likely to listen to me.”
Fitzpatrick let out one loud laugh and then slowly turned to face them.
“Why would domestic terrorists target me?” he challenged. “I’m as American as they come. I support everything they do. I’m one of them. Those types love me.”
Ng’s phone rang and she quickly answered it.
“Because these are the kind of terrorists who believe in what America was, not what it’s become,” Wally challenged. “They’re about protecting the little guy, and making sure families aren’t kicked out of their ancestral homes so that yuppies can live in style. They don’t want to see the rich get richer. They want the American Dream to be available to all.”
“That’s not a reality we’ll ever see in our lifetime,” Fitzpatrick said confidently.
“Excuse me a minute,” Ng interrupted. “I need to take this.”
The men paused their debate. Once Ng had walked across the office and out of earshot, Fitzpatrick leaned in and spoke in a much lower tone.
“I see that your girlfriend is planning to run for District Attorney,” he said with a sly smile.
Wally remained pokerfaced, but inside, he freaked out about the fact that Miles Fitzpatrick had taken the time to find out who he was dating.
“I’ve been a longtime supporter of her boss, and plan to support him again this time around. The thing is, Wally, I can always be persuaded to support new blood. I can just as easily throw my support behind ADA Ambrose. That support comes with a lot of dollars and a built in base.”
Wally wanted to gulp. He wanted to think about Michelle’s future. He also wanted to reach across the desk and punch Fitzpatrick so hard in his fake, bright smile.
“This is America,” he said instead. “You’re welcome to support whoever you want.”
Fitzpatrick upped the voltage on his smile. “This is politics, Wally. You scratch my back and I scratch yours. Or I can decide to increase my support of the current District Attorney.”
Before Wally could reply, Ng returned. The look on her face betrayed that something was up.
“We need to go,” she said. “There’s been a development. Mr. Fitzpatrick, please excuse us, but this conversation isn’t over. We really need you to cancel that groundbreaking.”
Fitzpatrick shook his head and just smiled.
Wally and Ng walked to the office door in silence. Just before they reached it, she finally told him what was going on.
“They’ve found the fourth guy in Aspen’s sketches,” she explained.
Her look and somber tone told Wally all he needed to know about the unfortunate status of suspect number four.
TO BE CONTINUED…