Warren Murphy: Murder's Shield

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    Murder's Shield
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An army of renegade cops across the country have been assigned the task of squashing criminal cockroaches under their boots. It's a dirty job and the White House entrusts it to only one man - The Destroyer. Between Master Chiun's exquisite sense of justice and Remo Williams' knack for murder, they are ready to bring justice to town once and for all.

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***********************************************

* Title : #009 : MURDERERS SHIELD *

* Series : The Destroyer *

* Author(s) : Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir *

* Location : Gillian Archives *

***********************************************

CHAPTER ONE

Big Pearl Wilson sent the white fox into the bedroom to get him two handfuls of money. He eased his $185 Gucci slippers into the ankle-high white rug that circled to his bar and around to the drape-covered windows. The drapes were drawn, separating his lush pad from the decaying, teeming Harlem streets-a touch of paradise in Hell. The curtains separating the two were fireproof, somewhat soundproof, and had cost him $2,200. He had paid in cash.

"Have a drink, officer?" said Big Pearl, moving his slow easy majestic way to the bar, the slow and easy way that foxes sniffed.

"No, thank you," said the detective. He looked at his watch.

"A snort?" offered Big Pearl, pointing to his nose.

The detective refused the cocaine.

"I don't snort myself," said Big Pearl. "You waste yourself a little bit every time you use it. These cats on the street live baddest a year, and are broke or dead or forgotten before they see the weather change. They beat on their women and one of 'em talks and it's off to Attica. They think it's a big game with their flashy cars. Me. My women get paid, my cops get paid, my judges get paid, my pols get paid and I make my money. And I've been ten years without a bust."

The girl came bustling back with a manila envelope, unevenly stuffed. Big Pearl gave the insides a condescending glance.

"More," he said. Then he sensed something was wrong. It was the detective. He was on the edge of the deep leather chair and getting up for the package, as if he would be glad to take it with less just to get out of Big Pearl's pad.

"A little extra for you personally," said Big Pearl.

The white detective nodded stiffly.

"You're a new man at headquarters," said Big Pearl. "Usually, they don't send a new man on something like this. Mind if I check with headquarters?"

"No. Go right ahead," said the detective.

Big Pearl smiled his wide, glistening smile. "You know you got the most important job in the whole New York City police department tonight?"

Big Pearl reached under the bar for the telephone. Taped lightly to the inside of the receiver was a small Derringer which slipped neatly and unseen into the palm of his large black hand as he dialled.

"'Lo, Inspector," said Big Pearl, suddenly sounding like a field hand. "This is yo' boy, Big Pearl. Ah got somethin' heah Ah just want to check out. The detective you send down, what he look like?"

Big Pearl stared at the white detective, nodding, saying, "Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yassah. Okay. Much obliged." Big Pearl hung up, returning the Derringer with the phone.

"You white," he said with a big smile, wondering how much of the needle the detective would understand. "You feel all right. You look kind of nervous."

"I'm all right," said the detective. When he had the money, he said, almost as if following orders:

"Who's your contact for Long Island housewives? We know she's a white woman in Great Neck. Who?"

Big Pearl smiled. "You want more money? I'll give you more." It was Big Pearl's cool that enabled him to keep the smile when the white detective drew his .38 Police Special and pointed it at Big Pearl's eyes.

"Hey, man. What's that?"

The white girl gasped and covered her mouth. Big Pearl raised his hands to show there was nothing in them. He wasn't going to try to shoot a cop to protect some paleface in Great Neck. There were other ways, ways that kept you alive.

"Hey, man, I can't give you that stuff. What you need it for anyhow? You New York City. And she pay off in Great Neck."

"I want to know."

"Do you know that if she dry up in Great Neck, the honey machine dry up? No more classy white housewives from Babylon and the Hamptons and all the places where I get my real class. If the honey stop for me, it stop for you. Dig, baby?"

"What's her name?"

"You sure the inspector wants this?"

"I want it. You've got three seconds and it better be the right name, Big Pearl, because if it's not, I'm going to come back here and mess up your face and your pad."

"What can I do?" said Big Pearl to the frightened, white chick. "Hey, don't worry, honey. Everything works out. Now, you just stop crying."

Big Pearl waited a second and asked again if the detective wouldn't take, say $3,000.

The detective wouldn't.

"Mrs. Janet Brachdon," said Big Pearl. "Mrs. Janet Brachdon of 811 Cedar Grove Lane, whose husband ain't really all that successful in advertising. Let me know when you shake her down and for how much. 'Cause I don't want her jacking the bill on me. I'm gonna pay it anyhow. You just driving out to Great Neck to get what comes from her anyways."

Big Pearl's tone was heavy-seeded with contempt. Save him from the idiots of the world, Lord, save him from the idiots of the world.

"Janet Brachdon, eight eleven Cedar Grove Lane," repeated the detective.

"Thass right," said Big Pearl.

The gun cracked once and Big Pearl's black face had a hole in it between his eyes. The dark hole filled with blood. The tongue stuck out, and another shot immediately went into the falling face.

"Oh," said the girl weakly, and the detective drilled her in the chest, sending her into a backward somersault. He took two steps to the writhing form of Big Pearl and put a shot into the temple, although the big black pimp was obviously dying. He finished off the girl who was lying clay stiff while her thorax bubbled up red. A shot in the temple also.

He left the apartment. The deep white rug was soaking up great quantities of human blood.

At 8:45 that night, Mrs. Janet Brachdon was serving a roast according to the tenets of Julia Child. The potatoes had not just been mashed; they had been blended with home-grown herbs as Julia had suggested on her television show. Two men, one white and one black, entered the front door and blew Mrs. Brachdon's brains into the blended potatoes as her husband and eldest son looked on. The men apologized to the boy, then shot both the father and son.

In Harrisburg, Pa., a pillar of the community was preparing to address the Chamber of Commerce. His topics were creative financing and how to deal more effectively with the ghetto. His car blew up when he turned on the key. The next day, the local paper received an unusual press release. It was a detailed analysis of how creative the pillar of the community had been.

He could afford to lose money in erecting Hope House for addicts, the news release pointed out. He made enough in heroin sales to absorb the loss.

In Connecticut, a judge who traditionally showed appalling leniency toward people reputed to be members of the Mafia, was taken to his backyard pool by two men with drawn guns. He was asked, under pain of death, to demonstrate his swimming prowess. The request was rather unfair. He had a handicap. His nineteen-inch portable colour television set. It was chained to his neck. It was still chained to his neck when the local police department fished him out three hours later.

These deaths, and a half-dozen others, all went to the chairman of a Congressional subcommittee who, one fine bright autumn day, came to the inescapable conclusion that the deaths were not mob warfare. They were something else, something far more sinister. He told the U.S. Attorney General that he intended to launch a Congressional investigation. He asked for the help of the Justice Department. He was assured he would have it. But that did not give him total assurance. Not in his gut.

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