Home > I Am Death (Robert Hunter #7)(4)

I Am Death (Robert Hunter #7)(4)
Author: Chris Carter


Garcia looked even more embarrassed now. ‘I’m not staying with the Robbery Homicide Division.’

Hunter’s surprise turned into confusion. He knew how long and hard Garcia had fought to make Homicide Detective.

‘Special Fraud Division,’ Garcia said at last. ‘Equivalent to our WCCU.’

Hunter thought he’d heard wrong.

The WCCU was the LAPD’s White Collar Crime Unit, which conducted specialized major fraud investigations involving multiple victims and/or suspects. It dealt with offences such as embezzlements, complex grand thefts, and bribe and theft cases involving city employees or public officials. Inside the LAPD, the WCCU was better known as the type of unit detectives got stuck with, not asked to be transferred to.

Garcia lifted both hands in surrender. ‘I know, I know. It sucks. But at the moment that’s the only position they’ve got going. Anna also loved that it’s a less risky job. After what happened, I can’t blame her for that.’

Hunter was about to mention something when the phone on his desk rang. He picked it up, listened for about five seconds, then placed the receiver back on its cradle without saying a word.

‘I’ve got to go and see the captain,’ he said, getting up and stepping away from his desk.

Garcia did the same. They stared at each other for a long moment. Garcia was the one who stepped forward, opened his arms and hugged Hunter as if he were a lost brother.

‘Thank you, Robert,’ Garcia said, looking at Hunter. ‘For everything.’

‘Don’t be a stranger,’ Hunter said. Sadness underlined his tone.

‘I won’t.’ As Hunter got to the door, Garcia stopped him. ‘Robert.’

Hunter turned and faced him.

‘Take care of yourself.’

Hunter nodded and exited the room.

 

 

Three


They were staring at him again.

The dark-haired girl and her friends.

They’d stare, giggle, and then stare again. Not that he minded. Eleven-year-old Ricky Temple was used to it by now. His hand-me-down clothes, bushy black hair, ultra-skinny body, pointed nose and umbrella ears never failed to get him noticed. Noticed and laughed at. The fact that he wasn’t very tall for his age didn’t help much either.

Five different schools in the past three years due to his father’s string of unsteady jobs, and the story had been the same everywhere. Girls would make fun of him. Boys would push him around and beat him up. Teachers would praise him for his high grades.

Ricky kept his eyes on the exam paper on his desk. He’d finished it at least twenty minutes ahead of anyone else. Even though his eyes were on his paper, he could feel their gaze burning the back of his neck. He could hear their ridiculing giggles.

‘Something funny with the exam, Miss Stewart?’ Mr. Driscall, the eight grade mathematics teacher, asked in a sarcastic voice.

Lucy Stewart was a stunning girl, with vivid hazel eyes, fringed, straight jet-black hair that looked just as beautiful in a ponytail as it did when loose, and a captivating smile. Her skin was incredibly smooth for a fourteen-year-old. While most girls her age were already beginning to struggle with acne, Lucy seemed to be immune to it. Every boy in Morningside Junior High would do anything for her, but she belonged to Brad Nichols, or so he said. Ricky always thought that if he looked up the definition of asshole in a dictionary, Brad Nichols’ picture would be right there.

‘Not at all, sir,’ Lucy replied, shifting on her chair.

‘Have you finished, Miss Stewart?’

‘Almost there, sir.’

‘So stop giggling and get to it. You only have another five minutes.’

An uneasy bustle swept through the classroom.

Lucy’s exam paper was half unanswered. She hated math. In fact, she hated most school subjects. They were of no use to her. Especially when she knew she was destined to be a Hollywood superstar.

Ricky chewed on his pencil and scratched the tip of his nose. He wanted to turn around and defy her stare by looking straight back at her. But Ricky Temple rarely did what he wanted to do. He was too timid . . . too scared of the consequences.

‘Time’s up everybody! Drop your exam papers on my desk on your way out.’

The school bell rang and Ricky thanked God for it. Another week gone. He had the entire weekend to look forward to. He just wanted to be alone doing what he loved doing – writing stories.

Ricky changed into shorts before stuffing his books inside his faded green rucksack and grabbing his rusty bicycle from the rack by the school entrance. He couldn’t wait to get away from that place.

Taking West 104th Street, he cut through South 7th Avenue. Ricky loved the houses in this part of town. They were big and colorful with beautiful front lawns and flower gardens. Several of them had swimming pools in their backyards, a far cry from the squalid apartment he shared with his aggressive father in Inglewood, South Los Angeles. His mother had left them without ever saying goodbye when Ricky was only six. He never saw her again, but he missed her every day.

Ricky had promised himself that one day he would live in a big house with a large backyard and a swimming pool. He was going to be a writer. A successful writer.

Ricky was so absorbed in his thoughts that he didn’t hear the sound of the other bicycles approaching from behind. By the time he noticed them it was too late.

One of the five bicycles leveled up to the left of Ricky’s front wheel, squeezing him against the high-curbed sidewalk. Out of panic, instead of braking, Ricky increased his speed.

‘Where the fuck you think you’re going, freak?’ the hooded rider shouted from under the blue and white bandanna that was covering the bottom half of his face. ‘You don’t belong in this neighborhood, you ugly and skinny fuck. Go back to your dirty slum.’

Two of the other riders were also screaming abuse at Ricky, but he was too scared to properly hear them.

Ricky ran out of room as his front wheel started to scrape against the curbstones. His whole body was shaking with fear. He knew he was about to fall. Suddenly, a second hooded rider leveled up to him and kicked out, hitting Ricky’s left leg and sending him and his bike flying over to the sidewalk. He hit the ground hard and at speed, skidding a full yard, enough to scrape the skin on his hands and knees almost clean off. His bicycle tumbled over him, landing heavily on his legs.

‘Woo hoo! Ugly boy fell off his bike,’ Ricky heard one of the kids say as they headed off, laughing out loud.

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