Thursday, May 18, 2017

#FreeDailyThriller - Lust, Money & Murder - Book 10, "Black Widow" - Part 44

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As they went back into the kitchen, Tutter limped from the blow Luna landed on his leg. She eased him into one of the chairs at the table. Blood was splattered across the front of his overcoat.
“Did you have to hit me so hard?” he said, in a nasal tone. “I think you broke my nose.”
“Awww, it’s not broken,” she said, checking it.
 She let go of his nose, opened the refrigerator, and pulled out a beer. “Here you go, Tutter—pump some Iron, that’ll make you feel better.”
Still holding his nose, he shook his head and pointed to the cabinet beside the sink. “Gimme some Jack...shot glasses are in there, too.”
Luna retrieved the whiskey and the glasses. She poured herself a shot as well, then pulled out another chair and joined him at the table. Awkwardly holding the handkerchief to his nose, Tutter knocked his portion back and stuck out his glass for another, but Luna pushed the bottle to the far end of the table.
“Tell me what happened to Patrick Brogan. And I want the truth this time, Mister Tutter.”
The former jail guard glared at her. “He killed hisself, I told you already. The police and the coroner confirmed it. Open and shut case.”
“You just told me you ‘let someone in,’ and that you had nothing to do with it.”
Tutter gazed longingly at the whiskey bottle on the far side of the table. “Look, earlier that night, I let a guy into Brogan’s cell for a hookup, okay? But he didn’t do Brogan any harm.”
“A hookup? What do you mean?”
Tutter looked at Luna like she was stupid. “Sex! What do you think I mean?”
“You’re telling me you let another prisoner into Brogan’s cell the same night that he supposedly hung himself?”
Tutter shrugged. “Yeah, but this guy was harmless, trust me—there’s no way he killed Brogan. Anyway, the coroner did an autopsy, there were no signs of any struggle, no drugs, nothin’.”
Luna almost laughed. “So you’re telling me you think Brogan’s death had nothing to do with the guy you just admitted letting into his cell, that it was just a coincidence?”
“Yeah.” Tutter pulled the handkerchief from his nose and studied it—the bleeding had almost stopped. “The guy I let into his cell wasn’t violent, had no history of it. He was in for prostitution.”
“You mean pimping?”
“No, I mean prostitutin’ hisself. He was a gigolo. Still is, probably.”
Luna sat there a moment, taking all this in. “What’s the man’s name?”
Tutter hesitated. “I don’t even remember.”
“Was he in Pod Twelve?”
“Then don’t insult my intelligence,” Luna said. “What’s the name of the man you let into Brogan’s cell?”
“And what’s it to you?” Tutter snarled. “Who the hell are you, anyway?”
“I’ve already told you who I am and I’m getting tired of repeating myself. You want to see my badge again?”
He still looked skeptical. “Well, you don’t act like no fed. Feds don’t just break into people’s houses with no warrant.”
Luna gave him a cold, condemning stare, and she pointed at the cellar door. “You invited me in. When we were sitting here at this table, talking, I happened to notice that new, expensive-looking lock over there on the door leading down to your basement. I thought I heard someone yelling for help down there, but I wasn’t sure. So, of course as soon as you left, I came back and investigated. I had probable cause, Tutter.”
He frowned at her. “You’re a liar. You didn’t hear a sound from down in that basement!” He raised his bloody hands to his balding head. “What do you want from me, for Christ’s sake? I don’t want to get mixed up in this!”
“You’re already mixed up in this.”
“I’ve done nothin’ wrong or illegal. You’re just harrasin’ me, that’s all.”
“Who was the man you let into Brogan’s cell?” Luna boomed.
“For Christ’s sake, his name is Lonnie Hendrix, okay? He’s a nobody, wouldn’t hurt a fly, physically, there’s not a violent bone in his body. All he was ever in for was solicitin’.”
Lonnie Hendrix, Luna thought. She pulled out her notebook and circled Lonnie Hendrix’s name on her list of the prisoners who had been in Pod 12 at the time Brogan was murdered. She had researched the man along with the others, but remembered seeing that he was into prostitution and had discarded him to use in her blindsiding trick with Tutter.
“Are you trying to tell me that Patrick Brogan paid this Lonnie Hendrix to have sex with him?”
“That’s exactly what I’m tellin’ you. I got a cut for lettin’ him in, of course. You don’t know this guy, Lonnie Hendrix. Good-lookin’ as hell, or at least was back in those days. Tall, dark and handsome, like a goddam movie star.”
That sounded a lot like the guy that Kathy said had been blackmailing Spyro Leandrou.
And Luna remembered Lonnie Hendrix’s mug shot. The man was very handsome—his photo had been quite a contrast to the pictures all the rest of the cons in the group in ACJ’s Pod 12 during that period.
“Hendrix was a gigolo and a blackmailer,” Tutter said. “His thing was seducing older, rich businessmen and then blackmailing ‘em, you know, threatenin’ to share photos with their wives and business partners n’at. That’s what he was arrested for.” Tutter shook his head, as if remembering. “That man could charm the skin off a snake. His nickname was Mister Switch. He could be a top or a bottom, made no difference to him. I’ll bet he had sex with half the people in the jail for money.”
Luna found this all a bit hard to believe. Not the colorful character that Tutter was describing, but that Patrick Brogan would pay to have sex with the man, or any man. It just didn’t sound like Elaine’s father, not that she knew much about Patrick Brogan’s personal life or sexual preferences. He’d only been in jail for a week, hardly long enough to develop any homosexual tendencies.
She thought for a moment, then decided to take a different tack and confront Tutter head on. “I have strong reason to believe that Patrick Brogan’s death was not a suicide, but a murder. A contract killing.”
Tutter laughed. “Impossible. I know the coroner’s report said there wasn’t a scratch on Brogan, no drugs in his system—nothin’.”
She watched Tutter’s face closely. “Have you ever had sex with Lonnie Hendrix, Tutter?”
The former prison guard recoiled, but as he did it, his eyes cut away. “Me? Of course not!”
“You just told me Hendrix had sex with half the men in the jail.”
“I meant the inmates, not the guards!”
Luna watched him for a long moment. He was literally squirming under her gaze. “You know what I think?”
“You and Hendrix were in on this together—you split the contract money to kill Brogan.”
Tutter jumped up from the table. “That’s a goddam lie!”
“Sit down!”
Tutter just stood there, breathing hard. His nose started dripping blood again and he wiped it on the back of his hand, then glanced at the red streak across his skin.
“I said sit down!”
He slowly sank into the chair, glowering at her. After a few seconds, he said, “I want to talk to a lawyer,” but without much conviction.
“You’re not under arrest.” Luna paused dramatically and added, “Yet.”
“I’m not sayin’ another word to you. I want to talk to a lawyer. I’m asking you nicely—again—to get out of my house, get off my property.”
She leaned in closer to him. “Look, Mister Tutter, let me explain something to you. There’s two ways this can go. You can cooperate with me and help me get to the bottom of this Patrick Brogan case. If you’re as innocent as you claim to be, I will involve you as little as possible, and I’ll recommend the minimum possible punishment if you’re charged with anything, and you probably won’t even do any time. You have my word on that.” She paused. “The other way this can go is for me to get as aggressive as I can, within the law. When the cops questioned you and asked you if you or anyone else had been into the cell the night Brogan died, you said no. I have a copy of the police report out in my car. That’s obstruction of justice. You can do some serious time for that, Tutter. Seven years in the state of Pennsylvania. How would you like to spend the rest of your retirement in the same jail where you worked as a guard all your life?”
“I didn’t obstruct any justice! have to believe me. All I did was let Lonnie into the cell for a hookup, and the next morning Brogan was hanging from the ceiling with a plastic bag around his neck. Probably felt guilty about bein’ a ‘queer’ or somethin’. Me and Hendrix had nothin’ to do with it.” Tutter paused. “To tell you the truth, I thought maybe Hendrix killed Brogan, too, even though it didn’t make any sense to me at the time—why would he do that? After I found Brogan hanging there and the cops came and all that, I was plenty scared. I had a few sleepless nights, let me tell you. But when the coroner’s report came back completely clean, I knew Lonnie didn’t do anything, that it was Brogan who had done that to hisself.”
Luna merely watched Tutter for few seconds, but he didn’t flinch, just stared defiantly back at her. His gaze gradually softened and he glanced longingly at the whiskey bottle. He picked up his glass and pushed it across the table. “Can’t I have another shot? Please?”
With a sigh, Luna picked up the bottle and poured him one. He knocked it back and grunted with satisfaction.
She didn’t know what to do with him, nor did she know what to believe.
She considered her options and chose to plunge ahead and see what else she could get out of him. “I happen to know Patrick Brogan’s death was a murder. I have concrete evidence.”
“Oh really?” Tutter said sarcastically, and with surprising boldness. “I’d really like to know what you’ve got.”
 “I think you already know what I’ve got, Mister Tutter. What you’d really like to know is how I figured it out. The fact that you’re into BDSM does not help your case, either. In fact, it makes you look guilty as sin.” Luna chuckled. “But I believe you’re well-aware of that, which is why you went ape shit when you caught me down in your playroom.”
Tutter looked bewildered. “I really have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Come on, don’t be coy, Thomas. We both know you’re quite the expert at all the BDSM games, it’s obvious. Patrick Brogan was killed using the practice that you guys call ‘mummification.’ While he was asleep, his body was wrapped tightly to the bed in his cell with plastic wrap. His head was wrapped last. When he woke up, he couldn’t move a muscle, or make much noise, and he suffocated.”
Tutter swallowed, his face turning pale. “What makes you so sure it was mummification?”
“Because an empty cardboard roller was found under Brogan’s bed. It looked like a toilet paper roller, but it was in fact a plastic wrap roller. Whoever killed Brogan cut off a section, or maybe several sections, to the same length as a roll of toilet paper.” Luna paused. “But you probably knew this.”
“I had no idea, I swear.”
“I think you armed him with the stuff before you let him into the cell. It was easier for you to smuggle the wrap into the jail that way, or snatch some from the facility’s kitchen. If you wrapped a little toilet paper around the outside, it would have looked just like an ordinary roll of toilet paper. And I happen to know that the inmates could buy partial rolls of toilet paper from the floor cop.” She pointed at him. “Which would be you.”
“That’s another damn lie!” He looked pitifully at her now, the whiskey affecting him. “This isn’t fair! You’ve already decided I’m guilty. Lonnie was into BDSM, too! I know it for a fact.”
“Aha!” Luna said, pointing at him. “So you and Lonnie Hendrix did have sex after all.”
Tutter hesitated. “Okay, yeah, we hooked up a few times. So fucking what? Not inside jail. I knew him on the outside.”
“From where?”
“From Zach’s.”
“Who’s Zach?”
“Zach’s a gay bar, a leather bar.”
“Where is it?” Luna said, preparing to write in her notebook again.
“In Shaieside.”
Luna started to write down what she thought she heard, and then sighed. “Spell it, please.”
“Shadyside,” Luna muttered, shaking her head.
“That’s what I said.”
My god, Luna thought, these people really do speak a different language.
“And where is Lonnie Hendrix now?”
“Now? Hell, I have no idea. I haven’t seen the man since all this happened.”
“Why not?”
Tutter shrugged. “Because he left town when he got out of jail.”
“And when was that?”
“Well, I think his lawyer sprung him a day or two after Brogan died.”

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