Happy Face Killer – Chapter Eighteen


Chapter Eighteen


“Here,” Bo said, sliding Jensen’s notepad across the table.

Jensen grabbed it, eyes quickly scanning the names, numbers, and addresses Bo had written down. “Sweet. You coming with?”

Bo shook his head. “I have some calls to make. Just take a lot of notes and record anyone that’s willing to be recorded. I’ll listen to all of them later.” A pause. “If you don’t mind doing so.”

“Not at all, babe.” Jensen leaned to the side and kissed him. “Good luck with the calls,” he said, pushing himself to his feet.

Bo nodded. “Good luck with the interviews.”

“Thanks, babe. I’ll see you soon, okay?”

“Okay. Stay safe.”

“Will do.” Jensen rounded the table, offering a two-fingered salute. Bo smiled faintly and returned the gesture before his husband left the room. Bo let out a sigh and leaned up, pulling his phone from his pocket. His work phone was in his satchel, but until he called Carmine, he didn’t need it. Bo unlocked his screen, opened his contact list, and selected Dallas’s name. After a moment, he pressed the little green phone button and pressed the device to his ear.

“Lab geek,” Dallas greeted after the fourth ring.

“Lieutenant. How’re things at the station?”

“Man, let me tell ya, people are really protesting out there, but no one’s managed to burn the place down just yet.”

“Ha ha.”

Dallas laughed. “No, it’s all good out here. People are still getting used to not having Jamal lurking around in the shadows and scaring the shit out of them.” Bo snorted. “Otherwise, it’s good. All smooth sailing out here, Shorty.”

“That’s good to hear.”

“Hey, uh, Jamal always wanted a copy of all police reports. Do you want copies for your files too?”

“I think I would prefer that, yes.”

“Can do. Jamal also liked signing off on the reports before I filed them just to make sure all the Is were dotted and all the Ts were crossed, you know? So do you wanna do that too?”

“I think you’re more than capable of that. If you need my signature after you’ve approved them because of how Jamal had things set up, I’ll sign it afterward. I trust your judgment.”

“Sounds good, Chief. How’s Clinstone? Do you getta be a lab geek again?”

A smile tugged at one corner of Bo’s mouth. “I do. It’s… I missed sitting in a lab all day while I was in L.A., that’s for sure.”

“Yeah, I bet. How’s the case over there treating you?”

“Well, it appears our killer’s a woman. We don’t know much outside of that.”

“Thrilling. Female killers are always a bitch to chase after.” Dallas cleared his throat. “What about the vigilante dickhead?”

“Nothing new. Nothing more than I had when we were in Los Angeles. He keeps killing, keeps moving to different cities and states to beat his next victim to death. That’s… that’s it.”

“Why do you think he jumps states instead of bringing them back to a comfort kill zone? Developing a ritual?”

“I have no idea, Dal. I wish I did, but… but the vigilantes always get to my head.”

Dallas remained silent for a moment before offering a quiet, “Sorry about that.”

“It’s not your fault.”

“It’s always going to be at least partially my fault, Bo.”

“No. I should’ve gotten help as soon as I found out who you were… playing on the side. But I didn’t. I buried myself in work instead, let Jamal take his anger and betrayal out on me. That said, GBK was a much bigger blow to my mental health than Hangman was. I was scared when you left. That’s what I remember feeling. First at how the hell I had been so blind. Second, because I thought I’d never see you again.”

“Well, good thing Kathy and I got our stupid asses arrested, huh?” Dallas asked.

Bo snorted, shaking his head. “Yes, I suppose so.”

“But, uh, anyway.” Dallas cleared his throat. “I’ll send some reports over your way. Just drop your signature and email them back whenever’s convenient for you. Sound good?”

“Works for me, Dal. Keep my station afloat for me.”

“Will do, lab geek. I’ll see you soon, okay?”

“Yes. Take care.”

“You too, Shorty.”

Bo pulled his phone from his ear and ended the call. Briefly, he touched his free hand to the three necklace charms hanging at his neck as he selected Frank’s number. He pressed the phone back to his ear and waited.

“Good afternoon, sir,” Frank greeted.

“Afternoon, Frank. Anything important I need to know about?”

“No, sir. As it stands, the Cassata and Lucchese families are busy with their own missions outside of Los Angeles.”

“What about Jamal’s men?”

“Just the usual. Patrols, watching out for chatter, keeping gangs on their radar.” A pause. “Those are all good things, Mister Austen. Everything’s good here.”

“Good. That’s… that’s good. How’re things at the Estate? The horses?”

“Good on all fronts. The horses are being taken care of.” Frank shuffled through some papers. “Oh, yes, I’m supposed to ask if you have any requests for the room you and Mister Taylor will stay in at the Estate, as well as the rooms for your children. Different beds, new mattresses, new bedding, different flooring, a coat of paint… Anything like that?”

“Jensen and I can handle that when we come back to California.”

Frank chuckled. “I know it’s an adjustment for you, sir, but part of my job is handling things like this. It’s what I, the interior designer, and the movers are for.”

“Well, I suppose I could talk to Jensen?” Bo suggested.

“That’d be lovely, Mister Austen.”

Bo nodded. “I’ll talk to him tonight and get back to you by tomorrow at… noon your time?”

“Works for me, Mister Austen. Take care. I’ll hold down the fort until your return.”

Bo smiled, though the older man couldn’t see him. “Thank you, Frank. I’ll talk to you soon.”

“All right, Mister Austen. You enjoy your day.”

“You too, Frank.” Bo pulled his phone back once Frank had ended the call. He set the device down on the table and leaned to the side, grabbing his satchel. He lifted it onto the table and grabbed his work phone from the side pocket. Bo sighed, tugging down on his beanie. Two phone calls in, and he already felt worn out from talking.

He dropped his head, forehead resting on the heels of his palms. Eventually, it was something he’d need to get used to. The phone calls, the checking in, the delegation of certain tasks to Frank while still shouldering so much of it all. He needed to learn to be more like Jamal. Jamal could bark orders and carry on conversations all day long without any need for a break, without ever growing tired. Jamal, of course, was much less introverted than Bo preferred to be, and as far as Bo knew, Jamal had never been cursed with depression or anxiety. Together, the extroversion and lack of mental health disorders aided the older man in his usual activities.

Bo wasn’t cut out for all of this. There had to be some part of Jamal that knew that, some part that Jamal had pushed away and chose to ignore simply because Bo was ‘his boy’.

Scrubbing his hands over his face, Bo lifted his head. He could worry about feeling like garbage in regards to himself at a later time. He just had to make it through another phone call. He just had to make it until his next appointment with Gabriel. Friday wasn’t horribly far away. Surely he could manage until then.

He grabbed his work phone, unlocked the screen, and opened up his contact. After a moment, he selected Carmine’s name from the list and touched the green phone icon before pressing the device to his ear.

“Hey, Chief,” Carmine greeted.

“Hi, Carmine. How’s, umm… questioning going?”

“We’ve got the name of his boss. No idea if the boss gave the order to kill my man or not.”

“Is the boss an alley of yours?”

“Eh… yes and no. He’s a cartel man. We aren’t incredibly affiliated with them or anything, but we’ve never had problems with them, either. If Bossman didn’t give the order for fuckwad here to go out and kill my man, I don’t want to go causing any problem.” Carmine grunted, and Bo heard a slight thwack before a second man laughed. “You feel me?”

“I get it. No need for further problems to arise,” Bo agreed. “Has the cartel spoken out about their man going missing?”

“Not that I’ve been made aware of. But like I said, we aren’t exactly affiliated. We pick up on mob chatter, for obvious reasons, but the cartel’s generally a whole different realm for us. They usually don’t do any business with anyone that isn’t part of Cartelli’s little gang.”

“I can… make some calls once I get off work. I’ll find out if there’s been any mention of the man missing. If the boss gave the order, I could only imagine they would come looking for your family first. If he didn’t, he presumably wouldn’t know about the murder, and he wouldn’t know where to start looking.”

“You’d really dig that up for me, Chief? I don’t wanna put you out or anything like that.”

“You’re my ally, Carmine. We’re supposed to do things for each other.”

“You’re a lifesaver, Chief. I’ll send you what we know about the cartel so far. Otherwise, Bossman over there is Isaac Sáez. Hispanic guy, cartel’s been in his family for three generations. Think he’s got a wife, maybe a kid. That’s about all we have on him, last I knew, but I’ll email you his file. Edit with what you end up with and send her right on back. Deal?”

“That works for me, Carmine. Give me twenty-four hours, and I’ll do my best to have it to you in less.”

“Fucking love you, Chief,” Carmine said. Bo smiled, closing his eyes. Worn out or not, at least he knew one of his new business partners loved working with him. That was admittedly something that could be chalked up to a positive. “I’ll shoot you an email of what we’ve got on him so far. Thank you, really.”

“My pleasure, Carmine. We’ll talk soon.” “Sounds like a plan, Chief.” Carmine, much to Bo’s relief, hung up first. Bo set his phone on the table and let out a breath of relief. With the bulk of calls made and checking up on things in L.A. done, he could get back to notes and pointless application refining. Neither needed to be done, but they were great time killers until his shift ended and Jensen could fill him in on the interviews with the bar’s New Year’s night regulars.

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